Sunday, April 29, 2012

Let's Get This Party Started!

Today I got my schedule from The Dirk (as Oscar calls him) for the next 3 weeks.  Whoa.  Let's just say, training for IMCdA has begun!  Time to get this party started!  I was giddy with happiness looking through each day and wondering how I would do it all.  I definitely saw some of the most challenging workouts I've ever seen - Dirk isn't holding back now (or maybe he is still...which scares me).  I do love me a fresh new schedule that holds so much promise.  Time to get down to some serious business and go about the day to day task of getting the work done and recovering from it so I can do more.  This is the part of the sport I love!!  :)

So the next 2.5 weeks will keep me good and busy and tired.  I have a little break to race Columbia and then I'm sure I'll get back to work again before I taper for CdA!

In the mean time, I've made a re-commitment to eat well.  This coincides well with a hard block of training if I do say so myself!  Let me explain some - we always eat relatively well.  I am a dietitian after all!  But I do have some bad habits - one of which is to turn to quick and easy dinners (including going out to eat) when I'm tired and too lazy to cook.  This often means I don't eat enough fresh vegetables (I'm the queen of fruit...veggies...not so much) and not enough whole foods (quick and easy foods come out of a box...BAD BETH!).  This certainly isn't the end of the world but I know I can do better.  And I know I HAVE to do better.

So we've been filling up the fridge each week with tons of fresh vegetables and I've made a rule I'm not allowed to throw anything away!  It's either eat the veggies fresh and when they are good or eat them when they are rotten.  ;)  I've also been trying some new grains including barley.  I've never had barley before.  It was pretty good! 

The barley is on the left there.  There is chicken under the tomato/avocado pile and the stuff on the small plate is apple/carrot "slaw."  My mom is probably reading this and falling over in disbelief!
Oscar has been a great sport about making some diet changes.  He'll eat just about anything and not complain.  And in exchange for this, pizza night remains on the weekly rotation.  :)

I've also been trying to cut back (notice I said "cut back" not "eliminate") my Diet Pepsi intake.  NOT because I think Diet Pepsi is the devil (as some seem to think), because I think most all things in moderation are okay.  But my Diet Pepsi habit is definitely bordering on being highly NOT moderate, if you know what I mean.  Mostly I'm trying to cut back because DP definitely makes my reflux worse and at the rate I'm going I'm going to need a Nissen before the age of 40!  Time to reign 'er in!

So that is what I've been up to.  And if you don't hear from me for a while it's because I'm (1) training, (2) sleeping, (3) making Oscar eat barley or (4) working (occasionally I do still do that :).  Hope everyone has a great start to May!  (which, by the way, is the Merry Berry Month of May if you are from around Pittsburgh and go to Eat 'n Park!)

Oh, and just a few more pictures from New Orleans, courtesy of Heidi and her wonderful husband Scott!
Run, run, run!  Also, I'll have you know that that #49 is still branded on my arm and multiple people have asked me what it's from at the pool...

This is my signature move after crossing the line!  (either this or just laying down on the ground altogether)  Glad Scott caught this one!  :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

New Orleans 70.3(ish) Race Report

New Orleans!  The home of beignets, the spectacle that is Bourbon Street and triathlons without swims.  :)

This year, the swim was cancelled early so going into race morning we knew instead we'd be doing a 2(ish) mile run, 52 mile bike and 13.1 mile run.  The bike had to be shortened and the half marathon course changed due to storm debris on the course.  Good thing I didn't print out the course maps beforehand (oh wait, I did... :)!!  And of course the swim was cancelled due to high winds and a very ANGRY Lake Pontchartrain.  Although it's always disappointing for a swim to be cancelled, I have to say, I wouldn't have wanted to swim in that craziness!

So instead we sprinted 2 miles first.  :)  I knew the first run would start out crazy fast (for me).  Without paying tooooo much respect to my fellow competitors, I did remind myself that some of the women in the field have a half marathon race pace equal to my 5K pace so if I went out at THEIR 5K pace...well, bad things might happen.  Fear none, respect all?

Anyway, I ran a hard but not all out 2 miles and then hopped on my bike.

The beauty of the 2 mile run vs the 1.2 mile swim is, instead of having 3-4 minutes on me, the front of the field only had about 60-90 seconds on me.  Now THIS is good stuff!  When I got on my bike there were people all around!  Much different than my experience in Oceanside where everyone was long gone.  This was going to be a fun bike!

I told myself not to waste the opportunity and quickly got down to the business of biking really, really hard.  Within the first 5-10 miles I had passed 3 people.  Now I know this doesn't seem like a lot but this is quite an accomplishment for me.  So how did I celebrate?  I decided I wanted to be in my small chain ring going up over one of the bridges and promptly dropped my chain.  This of course necessitated me getting off my bike to fix my chain at which point all three of the women I passed, passed me right back!  Woo-hoo!  (sigh)  I quickly remounted though and got back to business.

52 miles later I had ridden probably the best I've ever ridden, averaged way more watts than I did at Oceanside and pulled myself from 17(ish) after the 1st run to 8th place off the bike.  VICTORY!  But victory ONLY if I could still run decently!

When I started the run, I had some brief moments of panic that I was indeed going to be in for a REALLY long run.  My legs were definitely feeling my effort on the bike.  But I told myself that to be competitive in the pro field, I need to ride that hard all the time AND learn to run well so no time like now to practice!  Within 1 mile I heard the pitter-patter that is the 120+ cadenced stride of Cait Snow.  She passed me like I was standing still (but I was running 6:20 pace).  Oh boy.  Then I got passed quickly again by Cait's QT2 teammate.  Yikes.  But then things settled down.  I settled into 6:30-6:40 pace for the next 8-9 miles and no other women passed me.

Around mile 11, my legs started to stage a massive protest.  It was the "you already ran 2 miles hard this morning, which means I've already run 13 miles hard and right now you are DONE!!" type of protest.  I was definitely hurting.  And to make matters worse, I had some women hot on my tail.  Mile 11 was not good to me - I got passed by 2 more people!  But I hung as best I could, kept pushing and in the end managed to pass 1 other women to finish in 11th place. 

11th AGAIN!  Top 10 would have been great but I can't be too greedy.  I did still run under 1:30 (barely) off of a GREAT (for me) bike and that is definitely forward progress.  I knew going into this year that the best I could hope for was a faster, fitter, stronger version of my old self and that is definitely what I was yesterday in the race.  Goal accomplished!

Yes legs, we are now done!  :)

Dirk's ladies had a good day in NOLA!  (Michelle, Sonja, myself and Libby)

There was MUCH fun to be had after the race and I SO enjoyed hanging out with Hailey, Sarah (winner, winner chicken dinner!!), Sonja, Michelle, Libby, Heidi, Chad and Jen and the list goes on and on!!  FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All in all it was SUCH a fun trip and although Bourbon Street scares me, where else can you see a freak show/circus/zoo for free?  :)  Huge thanks to the Holderbaums for taking me in and letting me be their third wheel!  :)  And also big thanks to Sarah Piampiano who inspired me more than words can express.  As a first year pro, she got the "W" against a stellar field and I'm so glad I saw it in person.  Her performance has awoken something deep inside of me and helped me to understand that belief in oneself is a HUGE part of success.

Big thanks for all your cheers and support as always - it means more than you could know!  I'm also so thankful for all the support from Soas, Brooks, PowerBar and to be a part of the Ballou Skies team.  And of course, my love and unending gratitude to my biggest sponsor of all - my family!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Love Racing Season

It feels like I *just* got home from racing Oceanside we are again with another race week upon us!  This makes me very happy.

This weekend I will be racing the New Orleans 70.3.  I did this race last year as evidenced by...


Unfortunately, my mom and Oscar are not joining me this year.  But I am traveling and staying with Pittsburgh friends and they too probably like BEIGNETS!

I have several goals for this race.  Here are some of them:

1) Swim.  Yes, this seems like a relatively easy goal to achieve.  But after Oceanside, you have to admit, it's legit.  Because whatever I was doing in the Oceanside Harbor a few weeks back couldn't possibly be considered swimming!

2) Beat Chad and Jeremy to the finish line.  Lucky for me I have a 22 minute head start.  Do you think I can do it??  It will be close and that is SO FUN!  :)

I do have a few more goals than this.  But these are the most notable ones.  More than anything I want to continue to learn and have fun and smile and be thankful for the opportunity that racing is.  Also, I want to eat lots of beignets!

Best of luck to all racing this weekend in NOLA and beyond!  Pro race #2, HERE WE GO! 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

This Week Is Going Fast

Time always seems to move at warp speed.  Unless, of course, you are in the middle of a 10 minute interval on the trainer wherein you are aiming for an "uncomfortable" wattage goal.  Then time moves more slowly than imaginable.  :)

This week has been good.  Training is humming along.  Work is good and busy.  And it's sunny outside today!

I think I'll make a list of randomness.

1) I really like NEEDTOBREATHE.  They are a Christian band that have successfully "crossed-over" much like Jars of Clay back in the day.  You should check them out.

2) I'm racing again next weekend.  That makes me so EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3) Roxy is cute and in this picture, really wants to be fed her dinner.

"Feed me human."
4) Today is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day.  Definitely a sandwich worthy of celebration.

5) Somehow I got sucked into watching 16 And Pregnant while on the trainer this morning.  I have no idea how this show pulls me in. 

6) This week I had an evil swim on my schedule - 4x1500.  Ouch Dirk!  More than anything I think this workout was a test of mental focus.  And lap counting.

7) I've been looking into races that I want to do the second half of the season.  There are so many good choices!  So I then decided that I need not get ahead of myself.  One race at a time.

8) Did I mention I get to race next weekend??????????????

Have a great night everyone!  :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Back To The Grind

The good news is - I LIKE the grind!  It's been great getting back to my Pittsburgh routine (especially because Roxy and Oscar are involved in this routine!!) and getting back on my normal training routes.  Of course coming home also meant going back to work but I guess we can't have it all, all the time...  :)
I DID get a new cookbook.  Which then necessitated the purchase of a rice cooker and food processor...

While I was in Denver I got to try several of the recipes from this book - first at Melissa's house and then at Sonja's.  I mentioned the book to my mom and wouldn't you know, when I arrived home it was ready and waiting on our kitchen table!  Thanks Mom!  Tonight we put the book to work...

I can definitely recommend the orzo salad and date/almond rice cakes.  They are all great recipes with good, whole foods and if you don't already have the book you need it...STAT!

In other news, today I got another package from SOAS, because they are the best and they really take care of their people!  But seriously, beyond that, they make GREAT tri kits and gear that fits well, looks great and are designed specifically for women.  SOAS gear is not just men's gear made smaller for us girls!  SOAS really is made for US with US in mind!  Anyway, check it out for yourself!

The only real question left though you think I can pull off the trucker hat look?  (please don't laugh too loudly at my expense...  ;)

I tilted it a bit to the side for you Sarah P...  :)

Have an awesome week everyone!  Train and live happily!  :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Oceanside 70.3 Race Report

Leg three of my 3-legged western adventure - my first race as a professional triathlete! 
Race morning I was nervous.  Like REALLY nervous.  When my alarm went off my stomach was already in knots!  But I was also very excited.  Time to get this party started!

Marit was so kind to get up early with me (3:30 am - now THAT is a good friend) and drive over to the race site.  I was really grateful because I've never done a race by myself and just having someone to talk with and zip up my wetsuit was a huge comfort.  I think I might have been the first one to transition (nerd) so I had a lot of time once I got set up just to mill about.  Yet before I knew it we were lining up to get in the water and then it was TIME TO GO!

The cold water (~58 degrees) was a shock to the system!  We swam to the start line, someone said "oh look at the wait, those are seals!" and then...BANG!  Sound of the cannon and we were off!  I started swimming furiously only to look up 5 strokes later and see a huge pack (a pack that I needed to be in) already 10 yds ahead.  ACK!  How did this happen so quickly?!  Lesson #1 of pro racing learned - you gotta be ready to go baby, 'cause these women don't wait around! 

As you can imagine, the swim was a bit dismal from there.  With only 25 women (which is actually kind of a big pro field for females!) in the field, and 20 of those women already swimming ahead and gapping me, I was in for a long, lonely swim.  And indeed, that is what it was.  But it was my mistake and inexperience that cost me so I had to live with it.  I swam as hard as I could and tried to navigate as best I could through the choppiness but let's just say, it wasn't one of my best swims.  When I exited the water and looked at my watch I was so sad!  31:15 is not indicative of my swim fitness but it's not just about how fast you can swim in the pool.  It's about how you RACE!  Again, lesson learned!

The swim pack I needed to be in (but was far behind).

I did eventually make it out alive!  :)

The good news is, the race isn't over in the swim (thank goodness for that!).  Despite only seeing 3-5 bikes left on the pro racks by the time I got there, I did exit with Haley.  She got through transition much faster than me (lesson #2 of pro racing learned - practice transitions!  oh my was I a disaster!) but luckily I still could see her once I did get rolling on the bike.  I made a promise to myself right away - DO NOT let Haley out of your sight!  No matter what, no matter how hard you have to ride, don't let her go. 

This was easier said than done.  :)

Haley, I discovered, is a really good cyclist and she absolutely hammered me on the flats and downhills.  Sometimes she would get so far ahead I could BARELY see her.  Thankfully, I'd make up some ground on the hills but only in time for her to kill me again on the downhills.  :)  I was very happy to have her as a focus though because that helped me through some rough moments! 

The bike was a tad bit miserable overall.  I was freezing (it was in the low 50s, misty, overcast and the roads were wet so we were all soaked and gritty/sandy), I couldn't get my heart rate over 160, I couldn't make my hands function properly to open my gels or shift, and I couldn't see a darn thing (note, take off sunglasses if it's that dark outside).  At one point I actually started to get hungry!  (luckily I had a few extra gels with me and I pounded them all at once).  I was definitely looking forward to the run!  :)

Overall I think I biked okay.  I moved up from 17th to 13th and biked 2:37.  Oceanside is a tough course so I was pretty happy with that.

T2 was such a welcome sight!  I knew as soon as I started to run I would warm up and I would also get to see Marit out on the course.  I was really looking forward to that! 

Dirk had given me some directions to start the first 3 miles of the run at about 10 seconds slower per mile than goal pace.  Therefore I promptly went through mile 1 AND mile 2 in 6:20.  ACK!  What can I said, I felt great and I was so excited to hear people cheering!  Also, I clearly lack any restraint in racing whatsoever.  :) 

Luckily it worked out okay and I felt strong and fluid throughout the entire run.  I moved up 2 more spots through the early/middle miles of the run when...who did I see ahead of me but HALEY!  She had really put some distance on me in the later miles of the bike and I hadn't seen her yet on the run until mile 10 or so.  I focused so hard on pulling her in.  I knew focusing on something specific like that would help me keep on task. 

In the end I came up 18 seconds short, but sure enough Haley helped me earn a HUGE run PR with a 1:26.  That is a big breakthrough for me and I was thrilled!

My final time was 4:39:50, about 20 minutes faster than the last time I did this race (which was in 2009) and I was 11th overall.  Although I know I have a lot to learn and a long way to go, I would definitely say I was pleased with my first race as a pro.  I've wrestled with the decision to turn pro for the past several years and even when I did finally make the committment I still wasn't certain I had done the right thing!  But when I crossed the line on Saturday I knew it is the right path for me.  I truly LOVED the challenge of racing with these awesome women and I was infused with excitement and motivation to do the work to make sure I can compete on this level.  Although I made a lot of mistakes and had a dismal swim, I came away very encouraged!

An absoutely HUGE thank you to everyone for their support and encouragement.  It is truly appreciated.  And a very, very special thanks to Marit for making my first race as a pro a big success.  I really don't know what I would have done without her!  She took care of me physically and most importantly, emotionally.  Her positive spirit helped my own spirit soar.

And finally, I must mention that I am eternally grateful to Oscar for chasing my dreams with me.  His support is unending and I certainly wouldn't be in the position I'm in without him.  These past few weeks have been very hard for me because I was very homesick.  And I SOOO happy to be in the air right now, on my way home to see him! 

Some pictures, thanks to the very talented Marit.  Her work is amazing don't you say?!  Proof of this is the fact that after 20 years of running I have not 1 picture of me with both feet off the ground.  Yet just this weekend Marit took THREE pictures with me in flight!  HA!  :)  If you'd like to see her entire Oceanside gallery check it out on Facebook (she opened it to the public so all can see).  Awesomeness!

Almost there!

Happy ending ice bath!  :)