Sunday, August 17, 2014

USA Triathlon Nationals and Qualifying for Worlds

Everyone has dreams.  Most people have something they are passionate about.  I have always loved swimming and exercise.  I was always the kid who got out after everyone else did when we went swimming.  I remember I wanted to join swim team in HS, but there were 7 grade schools in my city, and my mom wouldn't take me out of school early to make it to practice.  I guess swim practice was during my school time.  However, what made me a decent swimmer was that she had Kristen and I in swim lessons from the age of 5 or 6-12. When I got to 7th grade, I remember that being a big adjustment.  So I didn't join swim team until 8th grade.  From then on, I got to swim varsity in HS. 

When I got a shoulder injury at the end of HS and had to go through some PT, I decided that I wanted to go to school to become a physical therapist. Long story on this that is written in a previous blog, but basically I majored in exercise science as an undergrad, and got into PT school at UT and Gannon that way.  I chose UT.  However, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I think back now and wonder if things went differently if I'd have made it in PT school.  Guess I'll never know, but in the meantime, I took an assistantship at BGSU for kinesiology (the study of human movement/exercise science), and got my master's in it.  I LOVED that program.  Anyways, I was pretty down after not making it in PT school.  I started to work, personal train some and teach fitness classes at the YMCA.  I waited a semester and a summer before I could start my master's in exercise science.  So what did I do...I decided to train for triathlons.  What the heck was I going to do with all that spare time anyways?  That was 4 summers ago.  I haven't stopped since. 

So it took me 4 years to figure out how to train somewhat correctly (I still have ways to go).  No problem, I think having a degree in exercise science helped me out, and my background as a swimmer, the marathon and ultramarathon I trained for, and the two 10k swims I had trained for, as well as the numerous other tri's I completed over the past 4 years, they all helped me get to this year and I learned something about myself and training through it all.  Also, there were many key people who helped and inspired me along the way, and who I think about when I train and race.  Too many to name, but thinking about them and how they approach training and racing always keeps me going! (Ultrarunner and triathlete friends!)  Mike also helped me get to where I am on the bike, and I owe much of it to him!

This year, I finally had the money and fitness to compete at USAT nationals.  I had qualified in my first year of triathlons, but I didn't really want to compete in it unless I was going to do very well.  So I think I signed up sometime in December for Nationals.  Beginning in January, I started my regular training.  I had a set-back, where I couldn't swim or run for 7 weeks because I got frostbite on both of my heels from doing something dumb.  The only exercise I could do was bike, because my bike shoes cut just below the wounds, and didn't both me on the trainer.  Also, Mike bought 2 computrainers in December.  I really enjoyed killing myself on that thing, and I still do :)  The workouts...are awesome.  I LOVE seeing my power.  I went ridiculous with it, sometimes I'd ride it 5-6 days a week 90min-2 hours or more.

This year, after the frostbite healed, I swam 3x a week (pretty intense) 3000m, biked 3-4x a week, with intervals (usually 2x20 min at my threshold), and run 2, sometimes 3x a week.  In June, I biked the same, added run intervals in, working up to 5.5mi of speedwork, and added another day or 2 of swimming in (ramping up swim meters toward the end, too).  My running was low mileage because I have a tendency to get injured on the left side (I have a weak hip).  However, no injuries this year, I think I did so much swimming and cycling, that all I needed to do was run an easy run or two, and have one intense run a week.  That really helped improve my time.  I never thought I would break 24min in a 5k, especially at the end of a triathlon, and I ran a 22:34 in one of them.  I also never thought my body could break a 49min 10k, and that happened at nationals with a time of 47:40. After a hard bike and swim!

So I went into USAT nationals pretty confident.  My original goal was to make it on the first page of results for my age group.  I made that goal come true!  I had an idea that I might have the chance to make it to worlds.  So I gave that race everything I had.  I have never raced so hard for anything in my life!  The run was the worst, the hardest.  (as it always is with me!).  I REALLY had to push myself to not slow down.  I wanted to walk SO bad, especially during the last 3 miles.  It's always a constant battle in my mind to stop running so hard, slow down, or walk.  But no....I must keep going is what I tell myself!  I finished with a time of 2:21:37, a PR.  I PR'd in each sport by a significant amount of time, as well. 

For some reason, I have a drive to keep training, and keep doing triathlons.  It is a lot of work, hard work, but it is always worth it in the end.  It makes me so happy. There is really nothing I'd rather do in my life than train.  I love it so much.  I am so proud, and feel so honored that I made Team USA to compete in the ITU Worlds Triathlon next year and get to wear that uniform!  I took the very last spot in my age group to compete, but that doesn't matter, I still made it!  I will be training hard for this...switching some things around and adding in a few different things in training.

For now though, a bit of a break.  I won't start swimming until probably after my honeymoon, when I can get back at the end of October and focus again on training.  I will still run and bike, but with no particular goal in mind except to stay in decent shape and make it up Mt. Haleakala crater in Hawaii on a bike!  Training for worlds is going to be hard work...the hardest I have ever worked in my life.  But I have higher goals now, now that I know what I can accomplish.  Goal setting is very important if you want to accomplish your dreams!

I hope to one day find a job in exercise science that I really enjoy.  It would be cool to train triathletes, or work for USA triathlon somehow, or just personal train more.  Or test VO2max's all day.....haha.  One day :)  For now I just keep searching and hoping :)  And trying to figure out what the heck I'm doing with my life.  At least I'm getting married and get to go to ITU Worlds!  So happy.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Maumee Valley Adventure Race 2014

My usual race partner, Rachel Nypaver, could not race with me this year, and neither could another friend I had asked, Jessie Meeker.  Then, Chris Tracey said he wanted to, then he could, then he couldn't, so I switched over to a single kayak.  I had reserved a double for me and Jessie, then switched to a single when her or Chris couldn't do it.  Well, Chris ended up being able to do it, but at that point I said we should just do it solo.

I was actually excited to race it solo this year, see what I could do.  I was determined to finish in under 5 hours, and was shooting for a 4:45 because I knew I could do it.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen, but it would have if the kayaking was in the River.

36 Miles of Cycling
I meant to draft off Chris for at least part of the race, but he took off in the mass start in the beginning and I didn't see where he went because I got stuck behind other people, and I couldn't catch up at that point.  He is very fast, and maintained around 27mph for the whole thing...maybe I wouldn't have been able to keep up.  So, I was out by myself for awhile, behind the 3-4 top guys, and in front of everyone else :).  After awhile, a group caught up to me, and I pulled them mostly for a good 70 minutes.  Mostly guys, too so I knew I was doing good!  And my friends Lori and Mark were in that group on a tandem, and they are usually ahead of me from previous years, so I knew I was doing good this year!  I had to take some breaks and let the guys lead, but I pulled them more.  It started raining and getting really windy towards the end, not sure how many miles we had left, but I couldn't cycle strong in the wind anymore, so I moved over and let the guys go in front, and then I couldn't even hang on their wheels.  I had done too much work.  Oh well, it was still fun!!  I am not sure what my bike time is yet, I think maybe 1:43, not sure.  The results will be posted tomorrow.  I was hoping to maintain 21, but the wind really picked up at the end.

6 Miles of Kayaking
So, usually the race is in the Maumee River, however, it was 2 ft higher than what the R.D. considered safe, so we were put in the canal.  Awesome.  The canal is dirty water, with a ton of fallen trees.  The R.D. and boy scouts had cleaned it up a bit, but it was still hard to maneuver around the trees!  I got stuck 5-7 times, and I had to get out a few times into waist deep mirky dirty muddy waters.  Gross.  And...because it's a canal, there is no water movement.  You have to do all the work yourself, you don't have the nice downstream push of the river.  So... my time was around 1:55.  Everyone else was about 40min slower than usual, as well, because of this reason.  Two solo girls had passed me on the kayak.  This made me very angry because I was in the lead off the bike.  They both had their own kayaks, though, I just rented.  Their kayaks looked a lot nicer than my rented one, so it could be that, or I am just slow :)

8 Miles of Backpacking with 20% of my Body Weight
Did I mention my feet were frozen getting off the bike?  They warmed up some while I was dragging the kayak into the canal, but of course, having to jump off my kayak to move it over trees left them cold again at the kayak to backpack transition.  I took off my socks and shoes, and changed into dry socks and my trail running shoes, ate some gel, and was off with my pack and a bar to eat up the hill.  I walked up part of the hill while eating an energy bar, then took off running.  I was determined to catch up to those 2 females if it killed me.  About 3 miles in I caught one of them, and 4 miles in I actually passed Lori and Mark (I have never done this, and they always win their category each year, so I knew I was doing good!).  Also, the lead girl was just ahead and she was walking!  Phew, I was gaining on her thank goodness!  When I passed her, she said, "If I knew it was you, I wouldn't have gone to the restroom at transition!"  lol.  I continued on running, then around mile 5.5 all my weight fell out of my backpack!  I used my brand new backpack, and the zipper must not have been zipped all the way at the bottom (When I go backpacking next, think I'll use a bunjee on that zipper just in case...).  So, I had to stop and gather my weight, and put it back in.  That female caught up to me.  But once I was situated I took off running again.  Around mile 6.5 I wanted to walk so bad, but I wanted to win it for the females, so I didn't stop running.  OMG it was so hard, especially since I worked so hard on the bike this year.  And getting out into cold waters on the kayak doesn't help tight legs, either!  My run was around 12 min slower this year because of that.  Ohhh well.

But, I still won!  I was the first female, out of every class to finish first, solo, female-male, or female-female!  And there were over 300 people signed up!  I have finally finished first overall female, a goal of mine I've had for so long.  Even though it was a low-key adventure race, it definitely still counts!  So excited.  Going to treat myself to ice cream tonight!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Frostbite, Cycling, and Training for Triathlons

I haven't written a blog in a long time, since the 10k swim I PR'd at that will stay in my memory forever :)  This blog is about my racing and training experiences.  The spirit moved me today to write a blog, so here are my thoughts.

I think I got the email in October or November, saying I qualified for Age Group Nationals for USAT (I have every year, but $ is always an issue, and I felt like I was too slow to compete, and didn't want to until I was a bit faster).  Well, I decided to go for it this year.  I am training for USAT Nationals.  Hardcore.  And I believe I will meet my goals.

In December, I'm pretty sure everyone knows, I got frostbite from being dumb (an aspect of my personality I do not like, it's like I don't use common sense sometimes, but it's always because I'm in a hurry).  Took weeks to heal.  I think it was like 6 weeks before I swam again, and 7 weeks before I was able to run.  The left heal is still sensitive to heat.  However, over the last 2 weeks, it does not hurt at all (before, when I would flex my ankle I still felt a little pain).  No pain!!  I thank God a lot for saving me and only running 40 minutes in the snowshoes that day it happened.  So, was does an exercise science major/crazy exercise addict do when she can't run, swim, or lift weights until these stupid frostbite injuries that will now slow her down in her training do?  Ride the bike trainer.  Thankfully, my cycling shoes were cut just below my deep frostbite wounds, and I didn't have to flex my ankle much, so I was able to still ride the trainer, hehe.  I always find a way...

I think before or after that happened, Mike bought the computrainers.  I owe it all to him, really, and my frostbite injuries.  If it wasn't for those two things, I wouldn't have discovered a greater love for cycling and, um, ability to improve?  The past couple years, riding the bike trainer sucked.  I couldn't get my HR up, and I didn't know why.  Well, now I think the reason was because I wasn't trying hard enough, and I wasn't riding it enough.  But, to be a good triathlete, I believe you must also be a good cyclist.  It is the longest leg in triathlon.  In the beginning of January, it was like I broke through that threshold, and was able to get a decent workout on the bike trainer.  Of course, having power there from the computrainer helped and seeing how little power I was putting out definitely motivated me to work harder :)  I am currently addicted to the computrainer and the Ergvideos.  With some help from Mike on how to bike train, along with my input, I just keep on improving!  I can't get enough of it, and I can't wait to ride outside when it gets warmer to see how I actually ride with wind, and all that haha. 

In the mean time, I am also swim and run training 3x a week.  I haven't been running as much (it took awhile to get back to it from the frostbite on my heals!), but once the weather gets nicer it will be easier to run longer.  I'm not worried about it.  I know the run is my weakest, but I already feel stronger with it from bike training.  I'll just throw in some interval training (which I will have a plan, I just have to come up with it yet) this summer, and some longer runs (for the 8mi run part of an adventure race and a 13.1 at the end of a half ironman in June).  I am NOT running anything over 10mi this summer for that race.  And then, after that half is over, no more running long so I'm not injured for Nationals.  I participated in a running study at UT.  They took 4 different strength tests and analyzed my form.  Found out I'm very weak in my hips, especially the left hip, which is the leg I have had hip, knee, and foot injuries from in the past.  I asked why, and was told it's just the way my body is.  The only thing I can do is to always strengthen the hips (which is annoying). 

My swim training is going quite well.  I am not swimming anything over 3x a week, and not much over 3000m, but I cannot believe the times I'm doing my 100meters on, and the time I produced for a 1000 meter TT.  I know it's not my limit, so I am working hard towards dropping those times.  It takes awhile, though, I won't be ready to drop 5 sec from my sendoff times for another 3 weeks to a month.  Which is fine, I have until August!  :)  My focus is on speed this year, not a crazy long distance...I'm excited to see how my swim performance will be. 

On another note, I am still working my 3 part time jobs.  Nothing full time yet, unfortunately.  I will keep waiting, searching, and hoping for something that fits me right.  It's just taking so long :(.  But wedding planning is going well!  Next step, we have to get registered....which I keep putting off.  Most girls would probably find that fun.  However, I'm more tomboyish...even though I am excited about my dress, finding shoes, and I did find some of my make up for the big day :)

Have a great snow day!!  Happy Adventures.