It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

June 30, 2011

Interview with Ryan - Ironman

After the response from my last post I decided to ask my co-worker for an interview to share his Ironman experience and he obliged.  I felt a bit dorky, but it was honestly so interesting and informative to talk with him.  This post is long, but I promise it's worth it.  I hope you don't skim through, but take time to read all the details.  It's really quite a story and there's lots to learn.

Athlete Profile
Name:  Ryan
Sex:  Male
Age:  28
# of Triathlons Completed:  5
1 Sprint; 2 Olympic; 1 Half Ironman; 1 Ironman

Race Location and Stats
Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene - Idaho - June 26, 2011
Distance:  2.2 Mile Swim; 112 Mile Bike; 26.2 Mile Run (full marathon)
Finishers:  2,187
Finishing Time:  9:42:19
Breakdown:  Swim - 1:02:21; T1 - 5:07; Bike - 5:27:16; T2 - 1:51; Run - 3:05:44
Finishing Stats:  35th overall (including pros); Age Group - 5/172; Males - 20/1605

Ryan is an amazing athlete and completely humble.  He seemed a little unsure about whether or not he wanted me to share his full name with you, but in the end said I could do whatever I wanted.  I decided not to share his full name, but if you are really interested I'm sure if you look up the race results you can figure it out for yourself.

The Interview

Me:  Did you swim or run in college or play other sports; how did you get so good?
Ryan:  I ran track in high school, but my main sport was football.  I played football in high school and college.

Me:  Seriously that's your
Ryan:  Yes, it's kind of a regret.  I wish I had focused more on track in college.  I started running in 2006 and ran my first marathon in 2007.

Me:  So how did you get into triathlons then?
Ryan:  I had always had an interest in triathlon.  I enjoyed watching the Kona triathlon on TV and always thought it would be a great sport, but I really got into triathlon due to an injury.  In 2010, I was training for the Eugene marathon and I was in the best shape of my life.  I was training with a goal to finish in sub 2:40 (Ryan's marathon record is 2:43:16) when I injured my foot and had to stop running.  To stay in shape I started swimming.

Yes you are reading this correctly.....Ryan completed his first triathlon just last year - last June to be exact!!!  Incredible!

Me:  What made you decide to do an Ironman?
Ryan:  For the sense of accomplishment.  I was also hoping to get to Kona, but that wasn't my only goal. I really just wanted to see if I could do it, and how well I would do.

Me:  Do you think you'll do another Ironman?
Ryan:  Looks like it. (more detail on this later)

Training and Nutrition
Me:  About how many hours per week do you train?
Ryan:  It varied through my training cycle, but my peak training weeks are about 20-21 hours.

Me:  How do you find enough time to train?  Do you have to do two a days?
Ryan:  Yes, I do two a day workouts everyday besides the weekends when I do my long run and long bike.  It just takes discipline.  I am up at 4:30 am everyday and I do a second workout in the evening.  I have trained my body to live on about 7 hours of sleep.  My wife is very supportive, that really helps.

Me:  How many days a week do you train?
Ryan:  I train 7 days a week.  I take off one day a month during my recovery weeks.  On my recovery weeks my weekday workouts are shorter, but my weekend workouts are still the same.

Me:  How long did you train to prepare for the Ironman race?
Ryan:  About 26 or 27 weeks.  I think I only missed 2 run workouts during the entire training cycle.

Me:  Are you really strict about nutrition?
Ryan:  Yes, during the week I have a very strict diet.  A common day would be - Breakfast:  oatmeal; Lunch:  a large salad; Dinner:  baked fish and rice; Snacks:  Fruit or a Kashi bar or something healthy.  I don't eat any red meat for the most part and I don't drink any alcohol.  Alcohol actually inhibits your body's production of growth hormone that helps repair your muscles.  On the weekends I allow myself to have sweets.  It's mainly because of the long workouts; I just really crave carbs like baked goods.

Me:  What did you do for nutrition during the race?
Ryan:  Well after my first long bike, I really bonked and realized I need to get more nutrition in during the bike.  I did some research and found out I needed really calorie dense nutrition.  A gel or something wasn't going to do.  I would have to have like 15 gels.  I used Hammer Perpeteum.  I had two bottles on the bike each bottle was about 800 calories.  I also had 3 Clif bars for a total of about 2300 calories while on the bike.  I also had about another 800 calories worth in my fuel belt on the run and made sure to stop at all water stops for water and Ironman Perform (Ironman's version of Gatorade).

Me:  Do you have a coach or are you self-coached?
Ryan:  No, I don't have a coach.  I actually just got the name of someone I'm thinking about calling.

Me:  Seriously??  You did this all on your own, how did you come up with your training plan?
Ryan:  I  used Joel Friel's Triathletes Training Bible and Your Best Triathlon books to create an annual training plan.  The second book is really good and is focused on performance.

Me:  Which of the 3 sports do you find the most difficult or challenging.
Ryan:  I used to would have said the swim, but my swim times have really improved and I've become more competitive in that area.  My race results would show that I have the most room for improvement on the bike.  I was pretty competitive on the swim and run, but was slower than alot of people on the bike.

Me:  Would you change anything about your training?
Ryan:  Yes, I thought you had to do a long bike ride every weekend.  I think you do need to do this until you build up your endurance, but after you have the endurance I think  you could do shorter more intense workouts.  I was really starting to burn out a little bit with the bike.  I will definitely change it up during the next training cycle.

Race Experience
Me:  Overall, how was your experience?
Ryan:  It was incredible.  It was a beautiful course and the most well organized race of any kind that I've ever been a part of - including the Boston marathon.

Me:  I've heard the course was pretty challenging, was it harder or easier than you expected?
Ryan:  The Ironman race itself was actually a little easier than I expected. The course was very challenging, but was pretty much exactly what I had expected.

Me:  What was the hardest part?
Ryan:  The hills were tough on both the bike and run.  There is one hill on the bike called "The Wall".  There's just nothing to compare it to or train on in Kansas City.  On the run, you go straight up a hill then down it and turn around and go back up it.  Last year you just crested the top and turned around, this year you got to do the hill twice.  I overhead the winner of the race saying it added about 3 or 4 minutes to his marathon time.

Me:  Anything you wish would have gone better?
Ryan:  I was pretty slow on the first transition.  You are supposed to have some assistance in the transition tent because your hands are so cold you can just hardly do anything.  I couldn't even get my race belt on.  I kept yelling for someone's help, but never got any.  I also didn't know what to do with my stuff...I was afraid just to leave it so I spent extra time putting it all back in my bag.  I also dropped my chain on a hill on the bike.  All these things just cost me some extra time.

Me:  What did you think about for almost 10 hours?
Ryan:  You are just constantly analyzing your condition.  How do I feel?  Can I go harder?  Do I need nutrition or water?

Me:  What was it like competing in a race with professional triathletes?
Ryan:  It was cool.  Craig Alexander was the winner.  He was on the plane with me on the way home.  It's just interesting that he just won an Ironman and is one of the top athletes in his field, but  yet he was able to walk around in relative anonymity.

Me:  So this is an embarrassing question, but did you get all pro and pee on the bike?
Ryan:  Well actually I had never tried it before during training or anything.  And after a few miles on the bike I did have to stop go.  I realized how much time it cost me and I knew I couldn't afford to stop again. So I literally started asking other cyclist as they passed how to go on the bike.  They told me to find a long stretch and just relax.  It worked, yes I peed on the bike for the first time.

Me:  Did you cry when you finished?
Ryan:  No, I thought I might, but I was just so happy with what I just accomplished.  As I was coming into the finishing shoots I started high fiving everyone on the way in.  I had the biggest smile on my face.  I can't wait to see the race photos because I know I was smiling from ear to ear.

The Biggest Disappointment
Kona Qualification:  This is the saddest part of his story and his interview.  Due to a miscommunication, Ryan didn't end up getting a spot at Kona even though he earned it.  There were 65 total spots available to qualify for Kona at this race.  Those are prorated by the % of participants in each age group.  There were 4 spots open in Ryan's age group.  He finished 5th.  However, if someone had already qualified for Kona in a previous race the qualifying spot would "roll-down" to the next finisher - which was Ryan.  He was excited to find out that indeed one of the guys who finished ahead of him already had a spot - Ryan was going to Kona!!

There is a whole claiming process to claim your spot for Kona.  From 9-10 am those that had the automatic spots could come and  claim their spot.  They had until 10 am to claim it and any spots that weren't claimed were available to be claimed from 11-12pm by the "roll-down" athletes.  Ryan talked to the lady at the registration 3 times telling her he wanted to take the open spot since he was the next in line.  She told him he had to wait until 11am.  It was only about 10 am, so he and his wife decided to head back to the hotel and pack and come back later.  He came back at 11:15 am to claim his spot only to find out it had already been claimed.  The spots for the "roll-down" athletes are given out in more of an auction format so they called Ryan's name to accept or reject the spot, and when he wasn't there they passed him and went to the next candidate.  Ryan thought he just had to claim the spot by noon.  Since this was his first Ironman he didn't understand the claiming process and it was unclear in the handbook as well.  Needless to say he was more than disappointed that he missed his opportunity to go to Kona because of a miscommunication.    They did offer to get him into another Ironman race this year or next year so he can try again.  But he would have to qualify again.  He's trying to decide what to do.  He has the opportunity to race the Louisville Ironman, but it's 8 weeks away and then Kona would be 6 weeks after that.  What do you think....can you/should you complete 3 Ironman races in 15 weeks???

Again, I can't tell you just how humble Ryan is, especially to be such a phenomenal athlete.  I think he enjoyed sharing his story with me because it was just such a great experience for him.  He ended by saying this - which I thought was so cool (especially because I'm such a slow athlete).

Ryan:  You  know after the race I went back and watched the people who are finishing at like 8:30 pm at night.  I have so much respect for them.  People think it's so great that I finished fast, but I am lucky.  It's not that I don't train hard, but genetics play a part of it for me.  I know those people who are pushing through and finishing in 16 or 17 hours probably trained more hours than me and it's a great thing they are doing out there.

Love this!!  Hope you guys enjoyed the interview!!

Ryan said if anyone had questions he'd be glad to answer anything.  If you have questions, e-mail me or leave your question and contact information in a comment.  Thanks!!

June 28, 2011

Ironman Amazement!!!!!

OK, I have to share this with you because I am seriously impressed.  I have a co-worker at work who is an excellent triathlete.  I’m not going to provide his name because I haven’t asked him if I can share this information, so I’ll just give you some details.   He often comes in 1st or 2nd in his age group, so he’s obviously pretty good.  But on Sunday, he tested out the waters (literally) and completed his first Ironman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.   

Ironman Distance:   Swim – 2.2 Miles; Bike – 112 Miles; Run – 26.2 Miles

How did he do?

Finish Time:  9 hours, 42 minutes, 19 seconds!!!  Let me just tell you that’s fast.

Place – 35th overall out of  2187 participants and yes that includes the Pro Triathletes.  15 Pros finished ahead of him, so in the “Age Groupers” he finished 20th overall.  He finished 5th in his Age Group.  His marathon time was 3:05…….after that run and bike.  Super speedy!!

He also qualified for Kona!!  This is an impressive accomplishment.  Kona is like the Boston Marathon of Triathlons, except even harder to qualify.

I don’t know him very well, he works in my Division, but not my Department, but he is obviously an amazing athlete.  We have talked about triathlon stuff before, but I always laugh about how he finishes in the top 5 and I finish in the bottom 5.  If I wouldn’t feel like too much of a dork I might ask him if I could “interview” him for my blog.  I think it would be fascinating to hear about his experience, his training, etc.  Would anyone be interested in that before I make a fool of myself?  He’s a super humble guy and may not be interested, but I could ask.

On another note…..thanks for all the positive comments on my blog about my weight loss.  It’s seriously great to have you guys behind me.  I know some were a little concerned with training and losing weight at the same time, but I will be careful and listen to my body.  I want a moderate weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week….nothing drastic.  I will seriously watch what I do.

June 27, 2011

Losing to GAIN???

I have decided it’s time to lose weight.  This time it’s not just my weekend resolution; I mean it.

I am not fat.  I know this.  I am about 5 ft 5 ½ inches.  I have always said I was 5’ 6” – it’s just easier to round up.   But if I look at the “healthy” weight ranges for someone my height I am either on the very highest end of healthy for 5’ 6” or a pound or so “overweight” for 5’ 5”.  Either way, I’m just barely hanging on.  I have found that during periods of heavy training I actually gain weight.  I am hungry all the time, and use the training as an excuse to eat whatever I want.  Over the last month or so I have slowly seen the scale creep up a few pounds.  It’s time for me to take control of food, not the other way around.

In 2008, I had really let the scale creep up.  All of a sudden (well at least it seemed that way) I woke up one day to find myself almost 20 pounds over my previous highest weight.  I had a vacation coming up in a few months and decided I had to do something about it so I started eating better and exercising more and before I knew it I have dropped 10 pounds.  But then I lost my resolve and the pounds started creeping back on.  I decided I really needed to do something and I joined Weight Watchers – in the end I ended up losing a total of 32 pounds and got within 6 pounds of my ultimate goal weight.  But then I went on vacation to an All-Inclusive resort in Mexico and of course gained 5 pounds.  I lost that 5 pounds when I got back, but never lost the additional 6 pounds, I was hoping for.  The Holidays came, and I added a couple more pounds.  Then I began training for my first half marathon – by the time race day came I had gained 5 pounds.  Then I trained for another half marathon in the Fall, and yep there it was another 5 pounds.  I have gained and lost these 5 to 10 pounds multiple times over the last couple of years, but have never gotten back to my weight in 2008 – and I’m currently 20 pounds from what I set as my ultimate goal weight back then.

The weight loss is not just about looking good (although that’s certainly a bonus).  It’s about being healthier and using food for fuel vs. comfort.  I know weight loss will lead to faster race times too.  I know I’m not going to drop 2 minutes per mile off my run pace or anything, but hey I would take 15 seconds per mile.  Last week I purchased Weight Management for Triathletes (Ironman) and while the book is geared to the “Ironman Triathlete”, it still has some good information for anyone who is training and wants to lose weight.  I have only read about half the book so far, and there’s not really any new information in it, but it does provide some good reminders and things to put into practice for weight loss.  Once I finish it I will do a book review.

So today is Monday, June 27th and this morning I started my weight loss journey yet again.  I have decided to do Weight Watchers again – just on my own this time since I already have all the information about the program, but I know myself and one of the biggest factors for me in losing weight is accountability.  That’s why Weight Watchers worked for me before, so it’s dangerous to do it on my own.  That’s why I’m writing this blog.  For accountability!!  Here I am, telling the world I need to and am going to lose weight.  My goal is to lose 20 pounds.  I will report my progress and weight loss every Monday or Tuesday.  So help keep me accountable!  My first real hurdle will be this Friday night – 4th of July party.  There will be lots and lots of yummy food………BE STRONG MICHAEL!

If you are on a weight loss journey let me know, maybe we can help keep each other motivated.

So, do you ever struggle with your weight?  Do you find you gain weight instead of lose when training hard? 

What else do you struggle with?

June 25, 2011

My First 42 Miler!!

I completed my first 42 miler this morning....on a bike.....not running.  Before this morning the longest ride I had ever been on was 25 miles.  I know 42 miles on a bike is not a great accomplishment and that many of you have gone a lot farther, but for me, it was an accomplishment.  About this time last year, I started riding a bike again for the first time in over 10 years.  I purchased a road bike, and was learning to ride on those thin tires for the first time ever.  I was scared and timid.  I would ride a trail near my house for 7 miles and thought I was really doing something.  I was probably averaging around 10 mph.  I was scared to death most of the time.  Then I started riding with a group around Longview Lake and I did a 12 mile ride.  Wow, I couldn't believe it 12 miles!  I rode that same 12 mile loop last year probably 20-30 times.  I never really pushed myself much farther than that.  I think the most mileage I did last summer was 15 miles.  This summer, with my Olympic Tri training I've had to push my cycling a bit farther and I have been doing about 25 miles on the weekend, so to make the jump from 25 to 42 was pretty big.

This morning, I got out and rode with probably at least 500 other riders in the Tour De Lakes.  I was nervous, I had never ridden a bike with that many people around.  However, I knew this was the type of thing that would make me stronger and push me outside of my comfort zone.  I was going to ride farther than ever today; I was going to do a route that was unfamiliar; I was going to have to clip in and out of my pedals at least a dozen times; and I was going to have to ride in a "pack" of other riders.  I am happy to say I didn't fall.....I almost did once, but clipped out just in time.  I was really happy with my riding ability today.  I wasn't fast, but this wasn't a race.  The course was hilly and hills really take it out of me, but I got through it and really felt great until around mile 35 or so.

The day turned out to be pretty awesome.  I picked up my girlfriend Michelle, and then we met up with another friend Susan and her son Jake, and another girl from our Tri 102 class Sunita.  So the 5 of us set out together.  For all of us, it was our longest ride ever.  Although it was pretty humid out this morning, it was only in the 70s.  The sky was overcast so we didn't have the sun to deal with.  It was really just about perfect, but then about 10 miles in, it started to rain pretty hard.  None of us were very experienced "rain" bikers, but we pushed through and it stopped raining after just a couple of miles.  We were all soaked though and a bit chilly.  But at the end of the day we completed 42 miles and we were all pretty happy with ourselves.

I realize this wasn't a terribly exciting post, but it's still nice to share small accomplishments with my bloggy friends!

June 24, 2011

Never Play Leap Frog with a Unicorn

It’s been another crazy week.  I’ve had something after work 5 out of 5 nights this week.  I can’t find time to sleep, much less blog.  Here’s what’s going on with me:

·    Tomorrow is my first bike “tour” – Tour De Lakes.  The ride is 32 miles, but I’ll be adding an additional 8 miles at the end because I have to do a 40 mile ride for my Tri 102 class.  This will be my longest bike to date.  I’m a little nervous about riding in a group setting, especially considering I’m still adjusting to the clipless pedals.  I really hope I don’t fall tomorrow, but I can totally see it happening.  One part of the route I am very familiar with, and it is very hilly.  I don’t know the rest of the route or what to expect.  I think it will be a more laid back and relaxed environment from a race, so I really hope I just go out and have fun and enjoy.  I’ll be doing it with at least 1 girlfriend, and maybe a few others.

·    I really wanted to see X-Men and the Green Lantern and haven’t had time to see either.  I’m bummed.  I totally love these kinds of movies.  I did see Super 8.  It’s was pretty good, but not great.  I can’t wait to see Transformers next weekend.  It’s the movie I’ve been looking forward to all Summer!! 
·    My hamstring is definitely better but still not 100%.  I’m ok when I’m running at a pretty slow pace, but as soon as I start to increase my pace I can feel it.  I tried to do some strides after my run the other day and immediately felt it.  Hills on the bike make it flare up a bit too.  So far I’ve been able to work through it, and I just kind of “know it’s there” vs. it actually causing an issue like it did when I first hurt it.
·    I finally got a new pair of tennis shoes this week.  I’ve needed a new pair for at least 2 months.  I really, really want these tri shoes.  I'm trying to hold out though, I'm joining a local mutlisport club and with my membership I get 50% off of Zoot.  I need to wait for the discount.

·    I have determined I need a sponsor.  I love racing, and have about a dozen or more races (tris and road races) on my radar for this summer.  It’s expensive to do so many races.
·    I’m thinking about doing a triathlon in St Louis in a few weeks if I can talk my girlfriend Michelle into it. If I do it, it would be my first “traveling” triathlon.  It’s a great practice distance for my Olympic in Sept - .62 mile swim, 20 mile bike, 4 mile run.
·    I really want to start my own line of women’s triathlon clothing.  Seriously, tri clothes are terrible.  The leg grippers on the tri shorts make even thin women have a nice fat bulge on their leg.  And tri tops ride up like crazy.  I’m always pulling mine down trying to keep myself covered.  Maybe someday!
·    I hope to read many of your blogs this weekend!  I’ve missed them!

June 19, 2011

Topeka Tinman - I did it!!

Well as most of you know I strained a hamstring muscle on Wednesday - and with my first triathlon of the season on Saturday, I was not a happy camper.  After three solid days of rest, ice, hot baths, self massage, ibuprofen, foam rolling, compression - you name it - it was honestly feeling pretty great by Saturday.  I had some other issues through the week but I'm going to save those for a future post.  Today's post is about the Tinman.

The Race:  Topeka Tinman, Lake Shawnee, Topeka, KS
Distances:  400 Meter Swim, 13 Mile Bike, 3 Mile Run
Finish Time:  1:39:01
Weather:  Hot & Humid - I'm not sure what the exact temps were but it was warm, but really still a great day!
Interesting Fact:  They pulled a car out of the lake a few days prior to the race that had been there about 30 that car was also a body....there's still another car in the lake.  I am not kidding.  Doesn't make you feel all warm and fuzzy about the swim huh?

Pre-Race:  Topeka is about an hour and a half from where I live.  Transition opened at 5:30 am.  I set my alarm for 2:45 am and woke up to strong thunderstorms.  According to the weather they were supposed to clear out around 6am.  I did all my pre-race stuff and headed out the door at 4am to pick up my friend Michelle.  Jim wasn't able to make this race so it was so nice to have a friend there.  The storms had cleared out thankfully, but reeked a little havoc on the course apparently blowing away the finish line and restructuring the swim buoys.

After we got body marked, picked up our timing bracelet, etc we hung out, ate some breakfast and ran into another friend Susan from our Tri 102 class.  It was Susan's first Tri and she was super excited.  Finally the race time came.

Swim:  Time - 7:42 (this would be an awesome swim time if the swim was actually 400 meters, I'm not exactly sure how long it was but it wasn't 400 - it was shorter.)  My friend Michelle is an awesome swimmer and swam in high school and college and she thought she would finish around 6 minutes; she finished in 4:48).  Anyway, I had a decent swim.  It was packed with women and was difficult to move during the first half - I had to doggie paddle around the first few buoys because i just couldn't get out of the congestion, but once I rounded the last buoy I was able to swim pretty strong.  Overall I finished the swim 246 out of 348 finishers.  There was a pretty lengthy run from the beach to the transition area and I was pretty winded.  My first transition was very slow at 3:07.

Bike:  Time - 51:33 (15.3 mph) The bike course was not too bad  The roads were very rough and there was some loose gravel that I almost lost it in - that made my heart beat fast.  But the course had mainly rolling hills, with two super steep, but very short hills.  I felt pretty good on the bike, but mindful of my hamstring I slowed down a few times thinking I was maybe going a little too hard.  I almost fell of my bike near the dismount, but managed to keep it together.  I did get my foot caught in the spokes of my tire though and took a few seconds to get it out.  I was prepared to dismount at the sign that said dismount, but someone was shouting DISMOUNT far before the sign!!  And so I did right there.  I stopped a little too abruptly.  Anyway, overall I thought the bike went pretty well.  I finished 274 out of 348 on the bike...not so great.  My transition time from bike to run was a bit quicker at 1:54 - but I still could have been faster.

Run: Time 35:02 (11:41 pace)  Even though I've been doing a Brick workout at least once a week for about 6 weeks, I was surprised how tired and dead my legs felt.  I started out way to fast around a 9:30 pace, and ended up having to walk after probably less than a 1/4 mile into the run.  My breathing was out of control.  I knew I needed to get it under control quickly if I was going to run a decent run leg.  I walked for about 45 seconds and then tried to run a more even pace.  My goal was to finish the 3 mile run in under a 12 minute pace.  I was super excited with the 11:41.  That's the fastest run I've had in a triathlon to date.  At about mile 2.5 my hamstring started to tighten up and I stopped and walked again for a few seconds, but I was so close to the finish I just kept going.  In spite of a good run for me.....I finished 321 out of 348 finishers.  ARGHHHH!!!  I hate being so slow.

Race Results:  Overall place 294 out of 348.  Division (Women 35-39) 34 out of 37 (BOO!!).  Women place 115 out of 147.

After the race I was feeling on top of the world.  Three days prior I wasn't even sure I was going to be able to race, but I had finished and felt like I had a great race.  When I got home and saw my results I was really unhappy.  I know I am slow, but sometimes it's hard when you really see yourself compared to others.  I feel like I work and train hard, but I never get better or faster.  Then I had to re-evaluate and remember that this was a pretty competitive, but also small race.  I did improve and felt strong afterwards, and at the end of the day I had just completed a triathlon - something that only a small percentage of people have ever even attempted.

My friend Michelle did GREAT!!!  She finished 19th out of 147 women.  Susan was also ecstatic after completing her first triathlon!!  Susan has 12 Children - yes I said 12 and yes she gave birth to them all, and yet she still finds time to train and compete.  She did awesome too coming in 8th in her Division!

Later that night we went out to dinner and a movie with some friends.  It was nice to get "cleaned up" after a sweaty race day.  I'll leave you with a few pics from the race and post race!!

Me & Michelle was still a little chilly from the rain, but that wouldn't last long

My transition area

The Tinman Finish line

The lake - without the buoys

My bike #93

Michelle's bike #92

After the race with our results printouts

The finisher's Pint Glass - AWESOME

Cool Technical Tee

Ready for dinner and a movie - nice to be dressed up and not in workout clothes for a change

Jim was really scared

Oh me too

Me & My Sweetie!!

June 15, 2011

Mid-Week Meltdown!!

Things are crazy.  EVERYTHING is Crazy!  My work is super busy, and my life is even busier.  I had to take 2 hours of vacation this afternoon to do some Birthday shopping for my Grandson who will be 1 on Friday because I have had zero free time in the last few weeks.

Something has got to give, but I can't figure out what.  I am up by 4:30 am most mornings, and lately I have not been getting home until around 9ish every night.  On Monday I started my Triathlon 102 class.  It is such an awesome class but it goes from 6 to 9 pm.  On Tues and Thurs I have Masters Swim from 6:30 - 8 pm.  My weekends are jammed packed with biking, running, races, errands, etc.  And the one or two days through the week I don't have something actually scheduled, something always comes up.  OK, that's enough for now, but I just thought I would share with you guys because I have had no time to blog or read blogs.  Sorry if I have been neglecting you.

My first Triathlon of the season is Saturday morning.  I was super excited about it and expecting to do very well because I have been training very hard.  BUT, this morning I injured myself.  I had been having a bit of pain in my left leg - behind the knee - not the knee itself - but my leg - the lower hamstring area.  I did a short workout this morning - an 8 mile bike on the trainer and a 1 mile run.  I felt fine during my workout, but when I got home I walked the dog and noticed my low hamstring seemed really tight.  I stretched out and rolled out on my foam roller.  When I got to work I had to walk up one flight of stairs.  I literally couldn't lift my left leg.  It was extremely painful.  I limped around all day long and the pain has gotten worse instead of better.  I cannot lift my left leg toward my butt.  I can't lift my foot off the ground, it's not just that it's painful, I just can't physically lift my foot.  It's like I have no muscle control.

After a bit of Internet research it appears that I have injured my Biceps Femoris muscle - which is one of the hamstring muscles.  I am applying the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) technique as we speak and hopeful to be all better by Saturday..........

That top X is exactly where the pain is.

Please send healing thoughts my way.  Also any thoughts on the injury or treatment would be great too.

Hopefully I'll be able to do a Race Recap on this I hope so!!!

Sorry this post is not very upbeat.  But that's where I'm at right now!

June 11, 2011

Cosmo Says I'm Fat.........

Well I ain't down with that.....cause my waist is small and my curves are kickin'.......

You get the idea!

Well, if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you know I have a little “issue” with the lower half of my body.  You can read all about my TREE TRUNK LEGS here.  I hate the way I look in shorts and I hate to show my legs in pictures.  Race pictures are the WORST!  They get you at the worst angles and well gravity does nothing for you.

Last weekend was the Hospital Hill 10K and the race photos are in.  I have never, EVER, had a good race pic from the professional photographers.  Jim has managed to capture some good ones, but every time I look at the actual race pics I always wonder how they manage to make me look like I gained an additional 20 to 25 pounds.  I seriously see the pics and think do I really look like that?

When Jim and I took our pre-race fun photos last weekend I looked at them and actually thought - wow, I don’t mind the way I look.  All this working out is paying off.  I actually look pretty fit in these pics and I didn’t mind sharing them at all.  I know I'm not thin, but I look ok.

Then the race photos came out.  They are better than some of my previous pics, but still….seriously…..what do they do to them to make them so bad?  Don’t they want to sell these things?  

Because I feel like my blogger friends are now part of my family I’m going to share a few with you.  You should consider yourself lucky because I seriously don’t usually share these with anyone.

Am I doing the robot?  And seriously, where did the extra weight come from?

Getting a little too much across the body action here. I've been working on that.

Apparently when trying to keep my hands loose I think that means doing "Jazz hands"!!
But I’m trying to get over my body image issues, and maybe this is a good first step.

Do you guys ever like your race photos?  Or do you think they are awful too?


June 09, 2011

Triathlon 101 Terminology

I know for many of you this is nothing new, but I also know I have a lot of bloggers that follow me that are runners vs. triathletes and after a few questions about cycling I thought I would give you some basic information and terms from the triathlon world.

Disclaimer:  I am in no way a subject matter expert.  I am just starting my second season as a triathlete.  I still have a lot to learn.  The whole gearing thing on the bike is still pretty much a mystery to me, but I’m improving.  Hopefully this provides you some of the basics so when you read these on blogs you know what people are talking about.

Common Terms:

Brick – A brick is a workout that contains 2 of the 3 sports in order.  Traditionally a brick is the bike to the run, but some people also call a swim to bike a brick workout.  Rumor has it the term brick was used because that’s how your legs feel when transitioning from the bike to the run – like a couple of bricks.

Transition – The period of time it takes you to move from one sport to the next.  Referred to as T1 and T2 – T1 is the swim to bike transition, and T2 is the bike to run.  It is important to be fast during your transitions because this time is counted in your total race time, so if you have a 15 minute transition you add 15 minutes to your total race.  Most people spend a minute or two in transition, the pros can do it in seconds.

Cadence – I’m sure most of you know this term from running, but in cycling it’s the number of revolutions (one complete pedaling circle) you make per minute.  People have different theories on the ideal cadence, but a generally accepted rule of thumb is to have a cadence between 80 to 100.  You should try to keep your cadence consistent, even when doing hill workouts.  This is difficult for me.  You can purchase a cadence sensor that attaches to your bike and monitors this for you.  I have the one that goes with my Garmin.

Drafting – This can be done when cycling or swimming.  When cycling you ride closely behind another rider to reduce the wind resistance so it requires less effort to cycle.  Drafting is generally not allowed in most triathlons and can potentially cause disqualification from a race, but is common to see among cyclists that will draft in a pack and alternate the lead cyclist so they all get the benefit.  You can also do this in swimming by swimming closely behind a faster swimmer.  This is legal in most triathlons but is generally considered unsportsman like behavior.

Granny Gear – Slang term for the smallest chainwheel on a triple crank set. Some people call their lowest gear their “Granny Gear” but it actually specifically refers to just the smallest chainwheel on a crankset with more than two chainwheels. I do not have a third chainwheel on my bike so I really don’t have a granny gear.

Clipless Pedals If you missed my early post that describes these in more detail – click here.  Clipless pedals are oddly named because you are actually “clipped” into the bike.  Before clipless pedals cyclist used toe clips (cages).  Many cyclists still use these.  The term clipless refers to the lack of toe clips.  Clipless pedals are more efficient than toe clips and are preferred by most cyclists.  And I am told, after I stop falling over everytime I use them that I will love them.

Trainer – If you hear people talking about doing workouts on their trainer.  They are talking about a piece of equipment that you can set your bike up on to work out on your own bike.  It is much better than using a stationary bike if you have to be indoors.  It allows you to change gears, etc just like on the road, but you can also do things on the trainer that you can’t do on the road like stationary one legged – “leg cranks” – where you cycle with only one leg at a time to build leg strength.

Your bike wheel goes up against this for resistence and your front wheel is free.

Triathlon Distances

Sprint/Super Sprint -   Sprint or Super Sprint races can vary by distance by you will generally hear anything less than an Olympic distance race referred to as a sprint.  They are typically a 500 – 750 meter swim, a 12 to 16 mile bike, and a 3.1 mile run (5K).

Olympic Distance – Also referred to as the “standard” distance.  It consists of a .9 mile swim, a 25 mile bike and a 6.2 mile run (10K).

Half –Ironman – Often referred to as HIM.  It consists of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run (half-marathon).  This is the distance I hope to do in the future.

Ironman – The ultimate Triathlon distance, most famous is the Kona race in Hawaii.  It consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 (full marathon). 

If I’ve left out any other common, popular terms, feel free to leave them in the comments section.  Thanks, hope this helped!

June 08, 2011

I've Freakin' Got this EMZ Shirt!!!!!!

I am terrible, absolutely terrible about getting the mail.  Today I got the mail and this is what I brought back.'s probably been 2 weeks since I got it.  This was my stack of mail.

As I'm thumbing through bill after bill and tons of junk mail I come across a package from EMZ!!  YEAH!!!  I know what this is - my Run EMZ t-shirt has arrived!!  By the postage date on the package it's been in the mail box awhile...oops!

If you were living under a rock, maybe you missed EMZs epic 24 Hour Treadmill Run for the Sojourner Center.  But if not, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  So of course Jim and I had to support this great event and cause!!  We needed nothing in return, but EMZ sent me one of her AWESOME t-shirts as a thank you.  And not only did she provide us a very thoughtful Thank You Card, but Peanut also sent us a wonderful handmade one.  This totally made my DAY!!  Thanks EMZ and Peanut!!

Card from EMZ

And now I am going to totally be Rockin' my EMZ t-shirt.  I give it two thumbs way up!!!

June 07, 2011

Rockin’ the BRICK – Before Work!!!!

I don’t normally write posts about individual workouts, but this morning’s workout was so AWESOME I just wanted to share with my blogger friends!!!!

I had a Brick (a bike and then a run) workout planned – a 12 mile bike and a 3 mile run.  Last night after work I was feeling dead.  I had a 10K Saturday, a 24 mile bike ride Sunday, and a 3 mile run yesterday and I’ve been training hard for the last 4 weeks.  Plus, it’s my first real training week in this HEAT and HUMIDITY.  I was just exhausted and my legs felt like lead pipes, so I wasn’t exactly looking forward to my workout.  Last night while walking the dog I said to Jim “man I’m not feeling this Brick tomorrow; I’m not sure if I’m going to get through it”. 

But I set the alarm for 4:15 am anyway, with plans to get up and get it done.   When the alarm went off I was still dead tired.  I hit the snooze once, and then finally got up.  I slowly dragged myself to the closet to get dressed.  Once I got on the bike I was feeling better.  I completed my 12 miles in about 47 minutes.  Then it was time for the 3 mile run.  I quickly switched shoes and grabbed my ipod.  When I first started running I felt strong, really strong.  I was surprised; usually I’m pretty sluggish after coming off the bike.  Mile one beeped on my Garmin – 11:45 – Really?  Cool!  That’s a decent pace for me any time, but off the bike, that’s awesome.  I was still feeling good so I decided to keep pushing it - Mile 2 – 11:29.  Hmmm…wow, could I do better – Mile 3 – 11:03.  My total time for 3 miles was 34:23 – an 11:27 pace overall…..with negative splits to boot!!

I seriously couldn’t have been happier – and a little bit surprised!!  That was a great time for me no matter what.  I know it’s slow to most of you but compare it to my 3 mile run the previous morning at a 12:30 pace, and my 10K on Saturday at a 12:30 pace.  I did less than 11:30 – after a 12 mile bike!  I just completed 2/3 of a Sprint Distance Triathlon before work….I was feeling really good.  I don’t know where it came from honestly, I didn’t expect it, but it felt GREAT!!  Masters Swim tonight – and I will have officially completed a Sprint Tri today J

Thanks for all the comments on yesterday’s post.  I really appreciate all of the information!!  You guys ROCK too!!  I think I will do an extended post on cycling soon (not that I'm anywhere close to an expert) but there seemed to be alot of interest and questions from others.

June 06, 2011

The Heat is On and Training Recap

Wow, we complained all winter about the miserable cold and snow....but no more.  The HEAT is on in Kansas City.  It seems like over night we went from a "too cold" Spring to the heat of Summer.  It went from 40 degree mornings to mid 70s with 85% humidity and temps during the day in the upper 90s!  I'm trying not to complain too much though, because I was so ready for the heat.  It's just hard to adjust that fast.  It's 4:30 am as I'm writing this and it's already 78 degrees with almost 80% humidity for my morning run!

I took a Triathlon 101 Class last year to help me get ready for my first Triathlon.  It's an all women's class and it really is awesome.  I enjoyed it so much I signed up for Tri 102 this year.  Sunday was our "meet and greet" group bike ride.  It started at 11 am.  I did one 12 mile loop then stopped and registered for the class.  Then we decided to do another 12 mile loop.  By the time I was finished with the second loop it was about 1:30pm and about 96 degrees.  It was just plain HOT.  There was no relief from the water bottle because my water was literally about 90+ degrees too.  The last mile or so I could really feel the heat coming off the pavement, and I couldn't seem to cool myself down.  I got a little overheated and once off the bike had to sit in the shade and pour some cold water over me and drink some cold fluid (a soda - I needed the sugar).  After a few minutes I felt fine and was ready to head home.  I had a nice heat rash on the top of my quads though - it looked like I had been burned.

Not only is the HEAT on, but in the Kansas City area it is also hard to get away from hills.  No matter where I run or bike it's always pretty hilly.  The 24 mile route on Sunday was no exception with about 1100 feet of elevation over 24 miles and a couple of pretty killer hills.  I am really, really, really, bad at hills.  There is one hill that is just over a 1 mile climb and about a 200 ft ascent.  I am lucky to stay above 5 mph on this hill, and I have been as low as about 4.4 when the wind is really strong.  Everyone told me when I got clipless pedals the hills would be so much easier, but I honestly haven't seen or felt the improvement.

So, all you cyclists out there - what is the secret to hills?  Is it leg strength, or hill repeats, is it about the gears?  

My friend Michelle mentioned to me today that it looks like my cadence is just too fast.  She said you literally look like you are just spinning going up the hill, which is exactly what I feel like.  When I go up the hills I have it in the easiest gear on my bike, and I think it's just too easy, but if I change it by just one gear I feel like I literally can't turn the pedals.  I think that is just leg strength, but I'd be interested in thoughts you guys might have.  I do think it might also have a little to do with my bike, it's a low end road bike, and maybe just doesn't have enough "in between" gears.  OK, I'm not a cyclist and I know I have no idea what I'm talking about, but it just seems like I have easy or hard gears....nothing really in between.  But I can't change my bike for now at least, so I need to work with what I have.  The good news was, I did 24 miles in my clipless pedals and didn't fall this time!!!

Speaking of clipless pedals...I had a request to share exactly what I was talking about for those of you who don't cycle.  There are actually a variety of clipless pedals out there, but basically you have a special shoe that has a cleat at the bottom.  This clips in to a special pedal on your bike and attaches you to the bike.  It's supposed to help with biking because you can use your leg muscles to both push down and pull up on the bike pedals vs. just being able to push down.

Bike shoe with cleat
Pedal the shoe fits into

Shoes attached to bike

I had another great week of training/racing!!

Monday: 5 mile easy run
Tuesday:  Master Swim (1600 Meters) 
Wednesday: 4 mile Track (Speed workout) - 1/4 mile sprints around the for me..with 1/4 mile recovery jogs
Thursday: BRICK  Workout - 12 Mile Bike & 2 Mile Run in am; Master Swim in pm - 2100 Meters
Friday: Swim - OFF
Saturday: 10K Race
Sunday: 24 Mile Group Bike Ride

Swim: 3700 Meters
Bike:  36 Miles
Run:  17.2 miles
Total Training Time:  9 hours and 3 minutes

Hope everyone has a WONDERFUL Training and Racing Week!