Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I Will Survive

I ran cross country for Penn State (GO STATE!).  Every year at the start of the season, each girl on the team would contribute one song to the "team CD".  Yes, that's right, I went to college so long ago that I actually listened to CDs on my "Walkman".  

For you young-ins that don't know what a "Walkman" is, I present to you Exhibit A.  I had both a Discman for CDs (top left) and an original Walkman for audio tapes (top right).  I.  Am.  Old.
ANYWAY, once all the songs were collected, someone would compile them and put them on a CD for each girl on the team.  One year this person was actually Oscar if I remember correctly.  (yes, we've been together for that long).  This CD would then serve as the soundtrack to our season.

As you can imagine, the songs were of all sorts of variety due to the many different personalities on the team.  I REALLY wish I had kept some of these soundtracks but I can't seem to find them.  I do remember songs like CAKE's Going The Distance and Chumbawamba's I Get Knocked Down.  (am I dating myself here?)  But one year, someone (who I *think* was my BFF Krista) contributed Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive (I highly recommend watching the video, there are people dancing around in leisure suits). 

Brilliant song choice for getting through some of the toughest years of running that I ever experienced.

Also brilliant song choice for these past 2 weeks, some of the toughest weeks of Ironman training I've ever experienced.  

Of course I'm not trying to compare the awesomeness of Ironman training to something that is TRULY to be survived, like cancer or warfare or, as Gloria is singing about, a bad relationship.  But I'd also be lying if I didn't say I was humming this song in my head in jest, at least a time or two these past few weeks.  Just to remind myself that indeed, I would survive.  

Two weeks each of 7 bikes, 7 runs, 5 swims and 2 strength sessions for some of the highest volume I've ever done.  And definitely some of the best training I've ever done.  Add in some massage, ART, lots of eating and sleeping, a smattering of work (like the kind where I get a steady paycheck) and I was definitely a busy girl.  Little time for blogging, twitter or Facebook (which I've learned is a good thing).  

There were lots of highs and some lows.  Although I don't really consider any of the training to be a "low" if I was healthy and able to get it done.  I was on the verge of tears during my long run last Wednesday when my heart rate WOULD NOT GO UP.  True story.  I only really cry when I'm tired.  (I was really tired that day).  But a high also came that same session when (after I collected myself) I finished the last 6 miles of the run faster than I could race a 10K earlier in the year.  I was definitely humming I Will Survive that day.  There is always a silver lining.

One thing is for sure - I've enjoyed this round of training more than ever before and I feel TRULY blessed and lucky to be able to do this.  Even on the days when my HR insists on staying in the 130s, far from where it should be.  

I also feel incredibly blessed to have some amazing people to help me along the way.  For one, my coach Tim is pretty darn fantastic.  He's patient and encouraging and definitely helped me through this block a TON.  He sets me straight when I need it and makes me laugh at myself when I'm being "irrational".  (notice I put irrational in quotation marks, he probably would not)  

My friend Kim (who incidentally was on those same Penn State teams with me) has also helped me a ton.  She's "been there, done that" with these QT2 System overload weeks and encouraged me along the way.  And then she just went and kicked some major butt at IMMT on Sunday, providing me with ample inspiration!

And of course, most of all, none of this would be possible without the ultimate partner, Oscar.  He really lives through it all and is my biggest support and cheerleader.  He brought home flowers for me one day, just because.  He makes all the special runs to the grocery store for more ice for ice baths and chocolate milk for recovery.  And he kicks my butt out the door when I need it.  

So with that, I rest up a bit, do a bit more work and then line up with a bunch of awesome athletes for Ironman Wisconsin.  I couldn't be more thrilled! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Steelhead 70.3 v5.0

Of course I can't write a race report about the Steelhead 70.3 without mentioning how much I love this race.  Sunday marked our 5th time in Benton Harbor.  I've had some highs here (my very first 70.3 finish line in 2007!) and some lows (dropping out in 2008, my only triathlon DNF).  I also raced in 2009 but sadly skipped the race the two years I did Kona (2010 and 2011).  Last year I raced as a pro at Steelhead for the very first time and actually led the race briefly (until everyone passed me on the run).

Steelhead v5.0 did not disappoint!  Lots of fun and good learning to be had.

Okay, this part wasn't so fun.  Lake Michigan can be a real jerk and on Sunday she was up to no good.  Plus, instead of swimming with the current (the Steelhead swim is point to point so they advertise that they will always set up the course to swim WITH the current), we swam against it.  For most of the swim I didn't know if I was going up or down or left or right.  I did a lot of praying that I was going in the right direction.  And when I FINALLY got out of the water, I had earned myself a personal worst 70.3 swim time.  Ooops.  I felt a bit better when I saw that all the times were pretty darn bad.  Still though, it would be helpful if I learned how to swim in rough water.

Here goes nothing!  (the water is also very shallow for a while so there is a lot of running/dolphin diving)
I can't explain to you why the water looks all nice and inviting in the background there.  Trust me, it was not.  I can say that this is possibly the happiest I have EVER been to get out of the water.
I was really happy to be on two wheels.  And it was a beautiful day to race!  However the swim had left me with a very, very unsettled and unhappy stomach.  Darn you Lake Michigan!!

For the next 35 miles on the bike, I tried to throw up.  I kept eating and drinking and pedaling.  But my body is stubborn and I couldn't find any relief from my overwhelming nausea.  My legs felt GREAT but when I feel sick like that, it's hard for me to focus on the task at hand (ie: pedaling hard).  My power wasn't horrible but it wasn't great either.  So I prayed for some relief.  At mile 35 that relief came in the form of me throwing up EVERYTHING.  And by everything I mean all that I had taken in thus far, including all the lake water I drank.  (in response to this story, my coach's advice was "next time don't drink the lake"...THANKS!  ;)

Ahhh...sweet relief!  I felt SO, so much better after I got all that wretched lake out of me.  And my HR came back up and my power came back up and I felt AWESOME!  Of course by then I only had 20 miles left on the bike but I reminded myself I still had almost 2.5 hours left of racing.  A lot can happen in 2.5 hours.

Somehow I still biked a 2:22 which was over a minute faster than my time here last year and a PR for that distance.

The beauty of dealing with nausea on the bike is that IF I can take care of things, I will usually feel pretty good for the run.  And that is exactly what happened.  I felt GREAT running.  Tim had given me a goal pace through 6 miles of the run and I stuck to it like glue and then just kept trucking along after that point (I actually negative split the run; something I've never done).  Somewhere along the way I moved into 5th place.  At mile 10, Oscar (running all over the place like a mad man) told me 4th was only 1:15 ahead and so I chased as hard as I possibly could.  I almost got there but just ran out of race.  For the first time EVER, I really wished the run was longer.  Who am I?!?!  :)

In the end my 1:26 was also a new run PR for the distance.  I finished feeling strong and happy and very excited for the progress I've made with Tim and QT2. I am truly excited for Ironman!  Now if only I could learn how to swim...

Sharing the stage with some awesome women!
Race winner, teammate, wife of my coach and all around awesome person, Cait Snow and I after the race.
So now I'm back home and back and in the midst of two BIG weeks of training for Wisconsin.  Big thanks for all the cheers!  I feel so lucky to have such an awesome team of support.  None of this would be even remotely possible without YOU!