Saturday, June 27, 2015

Follow the Leader!

Today was a HUGE day for me, ok maybe all caps is overkill but it certainly felt like a really big day for me :)

One of the greatest gifts of triathlon is friendship. I've been blessed to meet so many new and inspiring people from online forums and my teammies. Today I met up with Jaime in Jersey for a nice 40 mile ride to beat the incoming rain. The caveat was she had never ridden from the GW so I would have to be the lead biker which is a first for me normally I just put my head down and follow the leader.

The first obstacle of the day was the bridge itself and I was very nervous to be doing it alone even though I have accomplished this feat in the past.  I tried to ride up the ramp but when I hit the sharp curve things did not go well and I ended up kind of stuck.  Luckily no one else was there to witness my klutzy actions and I was able to unclip, jump off the bike and walk it up the rest of the way.  I was a bit nervous in the areas around the towers where you have to turn and things are tight if someone is coming but it went pretty well.

Jaime and I met up at Strictly's bike shop and set off on our way up 9W, planning to do about 20 miles and then turn around.  I forgot to start my watch but realized fairly quickly and started tracking, but I was trying my base salts for the first time and planning to take them when my watched beeped every 5 miles however my watch was beeping every mile.  (At no point did my brain say to me "Wait it only beeps every mile on RUN mode").

We found a nice flat parking lot and I was able to practice getting into and riding in my aero bars, things started out very shaky but Jaime gave some great advice to put my weight back and let me abs absorb the shock instead of my shoulders.  Once I leaned back things felt more comfortable and we set back off on our way.  I may have taken us past some tree pruning which was a little nerve wrecking and we may have almost gotten on a highway but I did managed to admittedly stumble on the coffee shop in Nyack where everyone meets up!

After checking out the GPS we decided to go back a different way so we rode down to the water and then realized we missed our turn so we went to ride back and were smack dab in a hill.  I was in my big ring and at first couldn't change to the small ring, I freaked a bit and felt VERY clipped in (I felt like I was going to fall and couldn't even get my foot out) but I was able to get into that little ring and shift properly to get up the hill.  SUCCESS!

We made a few stops on the way back so I could check the GPS but luckily Jaime is nice and calm and not type A.  There are some beautiful river views and nice houses in that area and I was able to get in and out of aero bars several times on nice flat roads, even with cars! After the horrible hill climb back up to Englewood cliffs I realized that I had inadvertently taken us the safer route to cross over 9W instead of having to make a left off the road, score!

Riding the GW back was a bit heart attack inducing as there were a lot more people out and about including walkers who were not looking to see bikes and did not listen when you yelled 'On your left!'  I had a near miss through one of the tower sections and I decided to walk the ramp. The cross city ride was dangerous, people have no idea the actual rules of the road or they just don't care at all and I had a close call with an impatient taxi driver but I made it back in one piece!

All in all I felt it was a very successful day and training peaks thought I had run a 3 minute mile so it agreed today was ground breaking...ironman fail. :-)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Training Weekend Rundown

Months ago it was mentioned on Facebook they would be doing a free training weekend in Chattanooga.  Knowing that I am super Type A I decided that it would be money well spent to head down and get the chance to train on the course I will see in September. I felt that seeing and feeling the elevation would mean more to me than a map. Frankly on previous races I never spent much time looking at course maps so this is a first for me.

Day 1 Thursday
I borrowed a HUGE bike case and had Scottie taken apart and packed, we were supposed to fly to Charlotte but our flight got canceled due to storms so we headed to Atlanta. Scottie got on the first flight out but I ended up stuck at Laguardia for hours waiting for another flight. I finally landed in Atlanta, reunited with Scottie and then rented a car to drive 2 hours to Chattanooga. The drive was fairly uneventful other than periods of blinding rain!  I arrived about 2am to my friend, Catherine's house.

Day 2 Friday
A noon ride of the course was on the menu but first Scottie needed to be put together so I located a bike shop downtown and headed over to have them reconstruct my bike. They did a pretty good job (the bike shop that took it apart made sure to put tape markings) however the aero bars were definitely not right but since I am not really used to them it didn't matter too much. I headed to the meet up point and luckily my new pal Melissa had a jug of water for me. We filled up our bottles and I hoped for the best as it was HOT and HUMID and I wasn't feeling so prepared for that. The group set off right at noon and I knew I was severely out gunned pretty quickly.  I feel bad with the intention of just doing my own thing but at a stop light they waited for me and once I caught up I told them to just go ahead.  At this point my heart rate was almost 190 and I was getting very overheated, sweating like a crazy and having some trouble breathing.

Once they went ahead and dropped me (about 5 miles in) I pulled to the side and texted coach who of course dropped some knowledge and then yelled at me to do my own thing. Unfortunately I had overdone it at the start so it was a little hard to get things back together but I ended up doing about 26 miles. I beat myself up the WHOLE time, I was frustrated, there were tears, and I was convinced I was going to let everyone down but I kept riding. Once I got the bike all back into the car I decided to think about the positives; the ucan worked like a charm with no issues even with the heat, I had gone down all the hills without needing to feather my brakes, I had ridden all alone in an unfamiliar place and hadn't just gone right back. Basically my bike confidence had actually improved even though it did not feel that way.

I went home, took a shower and promptly passed out on the bed in the deepest sleep of my life! I even still had the towel wrapped around my head, I am really surprised my friend did not take any photos. We went and picked up my packet for the swim Saturday and then had some yummy BBQ!

Day 3 Saturday
The morning started off with a 2.4 mile swim in the river and I was NERVOUS but I managed to not throw up which was pretty impressive.  Luckily both Melissa and Ann were doing the swim so having people to hang out with on the little bus up to the start calmed me a bit. We started at a dock in front of a BEAUTIFUL house that overlooks the river but there was a delay in the start which did little to help my nerves and made me wish I had brought water. People were in wet suits but I had opted to go tri suit because I'm positive that IM chattanooga will not be wetsuit legal.

As people were jumping in the water I heard them complaining it was cold and someone had advised me the day before that it wasn't very clean.  This is where I was reminded everything is relative. The water felt amazing on my skin since I am used to swimming in 58 degree water so far this year and I could not only see my own hands as I swam but I could see the feet of the people in front of me! The start was a little confusing but once I got into a nice groove (after some prompting from Ann) I felt great.  My swim workouts have definitely improved my swim fitness and also my patience with the sport, for the first time I never checked my watch to see how long I had been in the water. I did not have a single panic attack and I never rolled to my back for the first race EVER. I did end up almost in the middle of the river and had to be prompted by a canoe guy to get back on course...oops.  Towards the end I saw the finish and I decided to sprint which my left calf did not feel like doing and it completely cramped up but even then I did not freak and after some solo right leg kicks then no kicks I was able to get the cramp out enough to walk out. I ended up swimming 2.74 miles due to my little tour and the current was definitely on our side so I was very happy with my time even with the cramp.  Note to self HYDRATE!!!

Post swim we took a little 4 mile walk around part of the run course because I was explicitly told NOT to run and I am behaving.  It didn't feel too bad and goes through a neighborhood and then along the river that we just swam in which is kind of fun.

Day 4 Sunday
The goal was to tackle one full loop of the bike course and the start time was moved earlier due to the oppressive heat.  We set out with the C group and it was a much more enjoyable ride.  The course is very beauitiful and the hills are not bad compared to what I see in Jersey which gave me some confidence. Again my ucan worked very well in the new bottles I was testing out, basically I used the bottles from my run hydration belt mixing the ucan with a little water. I did have nuun in my water bottles but ended up trying some base salts finally. I actually really liked the base salts and came home to order some. I also tried out some new toe socks at the recommendation of my friend and I have ordered some of those too!

The ride went well and we averaged somewhere in the neighborhood of 15mph, one down hill I was up to 30mph! That one will be fun on race day although I am nervous about how crowded it might be with other bikes.  For the most part cars were respectful but we had a few close calls on some of the smaller roads where cars didn't wait to have time to pass.

I am so happy I went down to see the course and after my mini meltdown the weekend provided me exactly what I wanted. I met people I will be racing with and formed friendships (including some that I have known online but never in person), I got to see and experience the course, I tested out my nutrition plan (now to make tweaks), I feel 100% more confident about the swim and I did another travel weekend alone including lugging around the huge bike case that caused me to get quite a few stares and people saying "That is such a huge case for a little girl." You should have seen their faces when I explained it was my bike and I was training for an ironman, so much for calling me a little girl...that's little bad ass to you thank you very much! :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

So you drank the koolaid? A Guide to what to bring to your first race

A good friend of mine has been following along on my journey via facebook and recently reached out to let me know she signed up for a mini pool tri this coming weekend. In our conversations I have a million ideas for blogs to help newbee triathletes so I will be starting a little "You Drank the Koolaid" blog series for the newbees.

I signed up, I'm going to swim in a pool, get on my bike and then run now what the heck do I bring with me? Everyone is different but I am going to try and give you a pretty comprehensive list of everything you might need for a small mini-sprint tri (your list for a longer race will be different, we can get into that at another time).

YOU- getting to the start line of any race uninjured, healthy, and rested is extremely important. Properly fuel with a morning breakfast that you have used prior to training before
*Nothing new that you have not tested out in training in some way shape or form

  • Tri Kit- you will wear this the morning of, I recommend a two piece because it makes bathroom breaks far easier for but for a shorter distance you could get away with a one piece
  • Tri bra- if your kit doesn't have a bra you will need a separate bra but you need a tri specific one or you will stay wet all day
  • Light Bike Jacket- if the weather is cool you will want to wear a light jacket in the morning while getting ready and leave it with your bike in transition for the ride
  • Throw away flip flops in case you don't get them back; don't wear your running shoes that morning
  • Swim cap- normally given to you by the race in a certain color
  • goggles- I recommend bringing two pairs just in case you have any issues race morning
  • BIKE
  • Bike shoes- if you are not doing clips you can just use your sneakers
  • Water bottle in water bottle cage on bike
  • Race numbers applied to the bike
  • Flat repair kit
  • Sunglasses
  • Socks- make sure you have used them before
  • running shoes
  • Race belt with the race number on it
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
Odds and Ends
  • Glide-apply to any area that can rub, chafe (for me that is anywhere that a seam can move on your limbs, bottom of shorts around thighs, arms where sports bra rubs) This should go back in your bag not stay in transition at this distance. 
  • Baby powder- put this in your bike shoes directly if you don't wear socks, put it in your socks for the run (it will help dry your feet) This should go back in your bag not stay in transition at this distance.
  • Nutrition-bring something that you have worked with before depending on the total distance.  Don't eat on the bike if you have not practiced it
  • Tire Pump- you should check your tires before every single ride and add air as needed but this does not need to stay in your transition area
  • Towel- Some people will bring a towel for when they come out of the pool and arrive at the transition area
  • Sunscreen
Setting Up Transition
  • Bring a small mat or towel to place your items
  • place next to your front tire (this is what they do at longer races) or under your back wheel (I have seen this at shorter local races) You really just want to make sure to take up as small a place as possible, less is more here
  • Helmet goes on handle bars or mat and should be unbuckled and MUST go on your head and be latched prior to unracking bike
  • Pay attention to the rules of your transition area to make sure your bike faces the right way (try to get on the end for easy access
  • Unbuckle your race belt and place it across your sneakers
  • Roll your socks so they can roll on your foot easily (after you have placed powder) then put them in each shoe
  • Bring a bucket- some people will advise this to wash off your feet, in reality it ends up knocked over and water everywhere. if you are concerned about your feet being dirty have an extra bottle of water at your spot
  • Take up a ton of space- there are so many people trying to fit in a small space the more area you take the more likely your stuff gets tossed around, heck your stuff will probably get thrown around regardless
  • Forget your race number!!
The most important things to bring are ENTHUSIASM, ENERGY, PRIDE and SMILES.