Life is a marathon…

It’s been awhile since I’ve written here and a lot has changed. I’m starting a new job this upcoming Monday and I’m moving to a new place in a month!

The Houston Marathon was a miss in terms of hitting my time goal, but there were a lot of other developments.  I finished the marathon in 4:33:43, WAY slower than the sub-4:00 that I trained for! On the day of the race, I had a terrible attitude once I realized that my goal was slipping away from me early in the run (~ mile 5!!).

I’m going to warn you now– this is going to sound extremely cliche, so if you don’t like that sort of thing, just stop reading.  I’m making an analogy about my life being like a marathon.  During the marathon, I was so focused on making my goal, that I didn’t let myself enjoy the race when things weren’t going my way! But life is like that– there’s always going to be obstacles and setbacks, but you have to learn to enjoy the journey.

I hate to admit it, but I’m guilty of being one of those people who has always been obsessed with reaching goals and  feel disappointed in myself if I’m not there yet. But the truth is, I’ve come a long way in many aspects of life and I ought to be proud of my accomplishments instead of focusing on what I haven’t done or what I don’t have.  Not to say that I shouldn’t have goals, but that I ought to be happy with my life as it is.  After all, this is it!

Regardless of what I’m trying to achieve, life is now and I can’t enjoy it if I’m convinced that I need to reach some goal in the future to be truly happy with myself. The good news is, I’m generally an optimistic person and believe that the mind is an extremely powerful tool in situations like this one. It’s really just a slight shift in attitude for me to take enjoyment in the present, no matter the situation.

Back on the subject of running, it didn’t take long for me to pick another race to train for– the Chicago Marathon.  Turns out, I’ve become a bit of a fair-weather runner, so my training has been minimal and often, on treadmills (ick!). I’ve decided to let go of my sub-4:00 goal and I’ll try to PR (but it’s okay if I don’t!) but more importantly, I want to enjoy the race!  I’m thankful to have an upcoming race to keep me motivated and thankful that I have friends that are coming with me to Chicago.  :) Also, I think I’m going to take a break from marathons after Chicago…

ABB5k & Expo!

I’ve been terribly neglectful of my blog, so a lot has happened, including marathon weekend!

Saturday morning, I was alarmed to feel the very beginning stages of getting sick.  NOOO! I’ve been training for forever (months) for this weekend and I was determined to race.  Last year, I was sick for over a month before the Houston Marathon and made the tough choice to defer my spot for this year!  I would do my best to stay as healthy as possible and the ABB 5k would be a good test.  It was a bit chilly out– around 50, so I wore my Nike running jacket, a tank underneath, Nike tights, and my headwarmer.  Forgot my gloves, oops. I met up with Tim, Becky, and Aydee shortly before the start of the 5k and ended up running the entire race with Becky.  We didn’t bother trying to weave and had a lovely chat while we ran!

Official Time: 32:52
Pace: 10:35/M

Mile 1: 11:04
Mile 2: 10:42
Mile 3:  9:46

The last 0.18 was at a 8:37/pace.  I like to speed up for the finish!  Haha, I think that might be my slowest time for a 5k.  No big, just a warm-up for the real race tomorrow!

Another mile and 4 parking lots later, I finally grabbed my cc and license and returned to George R. Brown Convention Center for packet pick-up and the expo.  I love expos! I snagged $50 Ravenna’s, Nike shorts, and Nike tops from Luke’s Locker as well as some Nuun and the complimentary Nuun water bottle. Oh yes, and I got my bib & shirt for the marathon. :)

Heels & Hills Half Marathon RR

Can’t believe I never posted about my last half marathon! Here it is…

My goal when I signed up for the Heels & Hills Half Marathon was to PR. I figured I’d be happy with a 8:55/M pace, somewhere a 1:56-1:57. My last PR was 1:58:25 at the San Francisco Half Marathon last July. Just to be safe, I trained a little faster than my goal pace, but while running with Kristin or Eric, they kept telling me that I should readjust my goals for a faster time since I seemed fairly comfortable during my runs.

Pre-Race: It was the perfect day for a race. 50’s, sunny, not humid (Dallas, not Houston), not terribly windy. Day started around 5:15am. Ate some of my carob banana bread, grabbed a Peanut Butter Cookie LaraBar and headed out to Jamie’s. It was a little after 7 when we arrived at the race. Less than 30 minutes until go time! Garage parking was free. We walked the short walk over to the portapotties and then made our way to the start line. I started around the 2:00 pacer– since it was a small race, it was a mere 7 seconds before I crossed the start.

Miles 1-6.5: I decided to aim for a 8:45/M pace and I figured I would adjust along the way if necessary. I started in front of the 2:00 pacer, but fell back at the water stop. I had started off with only half of my water bottle full since I had drank it on the way there. I decided to refill at the second water stop. WOW, probably lost 25-30 seconds there. I’m terrible at securing the lid and it took me a few tries. I also ran backwards to grab a second cup when the first cup wasn’t enough (probably could have taken a 3rd cup). I caught up shortly after, and the pacer says, “Hey, didn’t she pass us already?” I turned around and pointed to my water bottle, “I had to refill!” He also said to me, “Don’t let it happen again!” I thought to myself, if I’m going to hit my goal, I have to make sure I’m well ahead of this group! I’d like to point out that all the pacers were men in skirts holding pace flags in the shape of a heeled shoe, lol. Awesome.

I’m not sure if it was the concrete or what, but my left ankle was kinda hurting for probably 2-3 miles. I figured the feeling would probably pass. It got pretty spread out fast once I was past the pace group and I woudl pretty much try to pace with someone until I figured out I wanted to speed up and then find someone else to pace, and so on. I think I paced with 2 different girls in the first half of the race before gradually moving ahead. I took a Gu around mile 5 while running.

Heels & Hills 2013cropMiles 6.5-13.1: Felt good in second half and I was generally aiming for 8:40/M pace. I wanted to give myself some buffer because I knew it’d get hard in the last few miles. I kept telling myself, my race doesn’t start until mile 10. I briefly chatting with the last girl I paced with (girl #3), asking her about her goal time. She told me she PR’ed at 1:51 but her last race was 2:05, so today, she just wanted to go under 2:00. I estimated that at the pace we were going at that point, she could hit well under 2:00, but since my goal was more ambitious than hers, I sped ahead once again. As expected, the last couple of miles were hard. Probably somewhere in mile 11, I could feel it. I’d remind myself, just one lap around Memorial…just half a lap around memorial…etc. There were some girls ahead of me and I was VERY slowly closing the gap. There were, however, also 2 girls that passed me in the last mile and I really hope they were doing the 10k, because they were FAST and super relaxed. In fact, they were chatting while running! I couldn’t keep up at all, haha. My legs were starting to ache and my breathing was getting more labored. When I hit mile 13, I went sped up into a full sprint and caught up with the original girls in front of me (not the super fast ones) right before the finish line. I was ECSTATIC to see that the clock was just about to hit 1:53!!

Shortly after picking up my medal and water, my adrenaline went down and my legs ached. Especially that left ankle that had hurt in the first few miles. I was slightly limping but it wasn’t excruciating or anything so I just tried to stretch. Chatted a bit with Girl #3 about races and what not while we each waited for our friends to finish. Girl #1 & Girl #2 came by and congratulated me. :)

Splits:
1) 08:37
2) 09:07 –> water refill
3) 08:40
4) 08:41
5) 08:42
6) 08:35
7) 08:31
8) 08:34
9) 08:37
10) 08:41
11) 08:40
12) 08:45
13) 08:36
13.1) 05:37 –> what?! that’s what Garmin says…

Oh yeah, pretty sure those 2 girls that I got in front of at the VERY end were in my age group– I placed 9th but 10th and 11th had super close gun times (chip times: 1:52:50.3 and 1:52:50.8). Glad I sprinted that finish! Awesome race for me and great end to the running season. Although I have a guaranteed entry already to the Houston Marathon, this time would also qualify me! :)

Heels & Hills Half Marathon
5/05/13
Official time: 1:52:47
Pace: 8:37/M
AG (F25-29): 9/58
Overall: 70/494

Rockets Run 5k RR

Kristin convinced me to sign up so we could go to a Rockets game (complimentary ticket included with the run registration)! I had planned on treating the Rockets Run as a recovery run since it’s only a week after Oilman Texas– well, I didn’t end up running during Oilman (will have to post about that later), so I just treated it as part of my marathon training mid-tempo run.

Goal was to do a 8:23/M pace as specified on my plan. I was trying to keep it on pace, but you know how it is at a race– everyone else is sprinting out while I’m trying to hold back! Thus, too fast the first mile, then I slowed closer to goal pace for second mile, and then last mile, towards the end, picked it up a bit to finish!

Splits:
1) 8:08
2) 8:19
3) 8:10

Actually ended up being a PR (officially, anyway)! Sweet. Not bad for a mid-tempo run, haha. Temp was probably 60-ish– much warmer than what I had expected! Great way to kick-off my marathon training. :)

Official time: 25:29
Pace: 8:13/M
Division: 13/199
Gender: 48/750
Overall: 299/1771

5150 Galveston Race Report

This past weekend, I competed in my first Olympic triathlon!  Well, technically, it ended up being a duathlon– it was announced just past 6am the morning of the race that the swim portion was cancelled due to the choppy waves.  Winds up to 23mph were in the forecast that morning, but no rain, so the bike and run were still on.

DSC03825deceptively windy!

Pre-Race: Kristin, Rachel, and I walked to the transition from Moody Gardens Hotel (we conveniently stayed at the host hotel) to set-up.  We would have checked-in our bikes the prior day, but early check-in had been cancelled due to 20-25mph winds with up to 35mph gusts!  It was unusually cool in the low 70s and fairly windy, so I put on my arm-sleeves for the bike leg.

Bike
Time:1:37:24
Speed: 15.3mph
Division: 18/25
Overall: 568/605

The bike went as I expected– thanks to last week’s long ride, I had an idea of what type of headwind we were facing.  I started off a little slow as there were a lot of turns and the road was a bit bumpy in the beginning. First mile out was 15.9mph. Then, mostly straight roads so I averaged 19.4mph until the turnaround, where I promptly dropped to my second to lowest gear.  My average for the second half of the ride was 12.2mph!  Yeah, ouch.  The tailwind in the first half was awesome.  It was easy and enjoyable…and I knew that it meant the ride back would be tough.  I could tell just by looking at the other cyclists that were heading the opposite direction that they were working HARD.

I passed a bunch of people on the way out but A LOT of them passed me on the way back.  What’s up with that??  In the last 5-6 miles, I did feel a small boost and managed to speed up a little. My coworker, Geralyn, I had taken turns passing each other (she had platform pedals on her road bike– in fact, I lent them to her!) but I managed to finish less than a minute before her.  My official time tells me that I averaged 15.3mph.

    


that’s my coworker in the turquoise!

T2: 0:03:11

Where is my damn Garmin strap??  Eff it, I’m just going to hold my Garmin.   I also shed my arm warmers that I had wiped my nose on a few times by then (gross!) and gloves.

Run
Time: 0:58:40
Pace: 9:28/M
Division: 7/25
Overall: 392/605

My running is nowhere in close to winning awards, but it’s respectable and clearly my strength, compared to swimming and biking.  As indicated in my T2 comments, I ran the 10k with my Garmin in hand.  At one point, I manager to somehow throw it on the ground by accident.  It turned off and I lost a little time stopping to pick it up and turning it back on.

It had started to get a little warm while on the bike, but with the wind, it wasn’t bad at all.  The run, however, was a different story.  It warmed up on the run and I was thirsty.  I had only consumed half of my bottle on the bike although I had planned on trying to finish it.  Dehydration caught up with me and I drank all the water in my hand-held plus I grabbed 3-4 cups of water during the run.  Some of that may have gone into pouring water on myself to cool down.  The run wasn’t bad but my Garmin was set on multi-sport and it took me awhile to figure out I could change the view and see my pace (yes, this meant I only saw time splits per mile on the bike and not my actual speed).  I was also a bit confused when I started if I had pressed the right buttons– I’m thinking maybe I didn’t because my Garmin time wasn’t remotely close to my official time!

I got passed up a few times by fast people who were clearly on their second lap during my first lap.  By the time I got to my second lap, however, I was with the rest of the slower people and I didn’t get passed up anymore.  I gradually passed people up and felt somewhat redeemed for my bike ride.  I ate a Mocha gel (not Gu, what’s that other brand?) 15 minutes into the run but was a little worried about how my stomach would handle it.  I felt slightly pukey towards the very end of the run but nothing came up.

Results
Total Time: 2:39:15
Division: 14/25
Gender: 139/196
Place: 509/605

Overall, I felt good about the race.  The headwind was tough and I definitely have a lot to work on the bike!  In other news, Kristin got 1st place in her age group (F20-24)!!  What a bad-ass. =)

Headwind is NO joke.

I’m still alive!  There’s so much that I haven’t written about, but this week, 5150 is on my mind.  What is 5150, you ask?  Well, it’s an Olympic triathlon (1.5km swim, 40k bike, and 10k run) that I am signed up for and it’s coming up in 2 days!   Oh, shit. It’s in 2 DAYS.

I’ve competed in various sprint triathlons, but this will be my first Olympic.  The race is going to be in Galveston, which is notorious for its wind.  I had read about the difficulty of dealing with headwind in my early days of cycling and thought, how bad can wind be?  For a runner, wind can be a bit of a nuance but nothing that I’ve ever worried about.  Turns out, wind is a HUGE deal when it comes to cycling.  I experienced it this past weekend when I did a long training ride in Galveston, covering the straight path along the sea wall (with nothing to block the wind) in Galveston.

The forecast called for 14-15mph winds to the west, which meant tailwind out and headwind back.  My plan was to go at a comfortable pace heading out, knowing that I would need to save energy for the second half when we would face headwind.  I felt pretty good heading out and was riding with an average around 18mph.  The course was relatively flat and the tailwind was pushing us along.  Thoughts at this point were, “Whee, this is fun!” and, “Cycling is cool!”

IMG_20130914_140644I also recently discovered that I could peddle while taking my right hand off the handlebars, and thus, was finally able to eat on the bike!  The day before the ride, I had a new Profile Design water bottle holder installed to my road bike handlebars and now could easily drink water from my AeroDrink bottle with its extended straw (thanks to Johnny Z at Powerhouse Racing in Pearland!).  Very exciting!

We’d ridden a little under 1.5 hours when we decided to turn around.  I immediately noticed how tough it was now to peddle and had to drop a few gears.  I knew my speed would slow down after the turn around but I had not anticipated exactly how much.  I didn’t know my exact speed (forgot my Garmin) but I could FEEL how slow it was.  My cadence was lower than it needed to be and I was on the third lowest gear.  Ugh.  I started to question how anybody could enjoy cycling and how stupid Ironman races were. Seriously. WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?!  Crazy people, that’s who!  Not knowing my current speed, I feared the worst and thought maybe signing up for Oilman Triathlon (FYI– I signed up for a half-Ironman distance race in November!) had been too ambitious and I was setting myself up for a DNF.  I was also running low on water and getting hungry.  Hmph.  We had planned on stopping at a gas station, but the gas station was still far far away (10 miles from our starting point) and I had dropped some of my food by accident.  *sigh*

I felt bad because I was clearly falling behind and Kevin had to pull into condo parking lots a couple of times and ride around to wait for me to catch up.  Sorry, Kevin!  My legs felt like bricks and I was frustrated with how slow I was going.  Trying to catch a break by cruising was NOT an option.  The second I stopped pedaling, my speed would drastically drop and then it was more work to try and bring it back up.  While the view from San Luis Bridge was lovely, riding the bridge was awful. The crosswinds were roaring and I could feel the wind trying to push me over.  I was nervous about taking a hand off the handlebars since I had to constantly adjust to fight the changing winds.

Eventually, we caught a break at the gas station, and while I wish I could say it was smooth sailing from there, it wasn’t until we turned away from the sea wall that I discovered my legs actually still worked!  I furiously pedaled towards Moody Gardens, ready to be done with the ride!

It was only afterwards that I was able to appreciate the ride– we ended up averaging around 15mph and had completed 52.5 miles in under 3.5 hours.  This was a big PR for me and made me feel a lot more confident about both my upcoming Olympic race as well as Oilman!  Perhaps we should have gone another 3.5 miles to hit the half-Ironman distance?  Kevin’s response was, “NO!” but that’s okay, we will next time.  :)

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

I did it.  I rode my bike with the clipless pedals!  Well, I rode around a parking lot anyway.  True to the name, the Look Keo Easy pedals aren’t too difficult to get in and out of with a little practice.  Of course, this says nothing about smoothly stopping on the bike, haha.

Not gunna lie.  It was absolutely terrifying and it started off pretty awful.  I didn’t want to test it out until I was in a traffic-free area, so I walked a bit in my socks until I got to a decent sized space.  After standing around for awhile, I finally mustered up the courage to try it out.  Right foot clipped in.  Here we go! Push off.  Clip in left foot.  Okay, this isn’t bad, I’m still on the bike.  Now for unclipping.  Unclip right, lean right…LEAN RIGHT….shit, I’m going down.  I land on the ground to my left, my butt cushioning the fall.  Ouch.  That’s definitely going to bruise.  If it was unclear to anyone around me at the park that it was my first time using the clipless pedals, it should be clear now.  Not sure what I did wrong, but I pride aside, I pick myself up and try again.  Second time, I fall again, scratching the back of my right calf against the gears.  Ugh.  I’m already frustrated at this point because I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong.  How hard is it to lean right!?  My heart is pounding out of my chest in anticipation of trying again.  Mouth dry, I take a few large gulps of water. Third attempt, my confidence is low and I go down before I even clip in my left foot.  *sigh*  I land on my right knee, breaking skin where my ugly scar is from my last fall.

Feeling defeated, I splash some water on my knee at the water fountain and sit down at the benches.  I have no idea what I’m doing wrong and I attempt to watch other people unclip.  It’s a hard to learn this way though since it’s hard to really see what’s going on from afar and I’m concerned my staring might come off as creepy.  Kristin does 2 more loops before she stops and comes over to me, immediately spotting the blood on my knee.  She instructs me to walk back to the lot with her and try again.  I reluctantly follow and after stalling for a bit, attempt it again. This time, a group of guys have gathered at a nearby picnic table.  Perfect! I was hoping for an audience.  As I’m unclipping and leaning, I start to fall left again, but this time, manage to unclip my left foot in time and catch myself.  Kristin then tells me that I’m falling because I’m putting all my weight on the left side because I’m unclipping when my right foot is at the top. She tells me to try again but to unclip when my right foot is at the bottom.  Hm.  This makes perfect sense to me and I wonder how this didn’t occur to me earlier.  Still incredibly nervous, I agree to try again.  Alas, it works!  My landing was a little rough with a few hops, but I didn’t fall!  I did it a few more times with Kristin’s supervision and then continued to practice on my own while she went to finish her ride.

We finished off the set with a 15-minute run (+1 extra minute because we’re overachievers), as scheduled.  I may not have gotten the 30-minute bike ride originally planned, but at least I did the run, haha.  I’m still not terribly confident with the clipless pedals so I’ll definitely practice again and in the meanwhile, I’ll do my rides on the trainer until I’m comfortable on the road.  Hopefully it won’t take too long!!

(FYI, I’m on 5.)