Weekly Recap (8/24-8/30)

Monday: Run—5.1 miles (43:06)
I managed to run this quite a bit faster than two weeks ago and clocked a 43:06 which comes out to an 8:27/mile pace.  I did this run in the morning just like last time, but it didn’t feel much harder than my previous effort, so I’m assuming having fully recovered legs made the difference here (who knew?!).

Tuesday: Bike—30 minutes
This was just a quick spin before work because I’m still taking things a little easy.  I’m not sure I need any more physical recovery, but I think another week of mental recovery will benefit me.  Honestly, I think I’m just really sick of getting up early.  I have a 30 minute commute and get to work at 7:30, so morning workouts for me start pretty darn early.

Wednesday: Swim—300 swim, 300 kick, 300 swim, 300 pull
I was pretty shocked by how tough this (easy) workout was.  My legs have felt great because they are fully recovered and then some, and my arms are still a bit tired from the race effort on Saturday.  This is an unusual dynamic for me, so even though it makes sense, I was taken aback.  I was having issues counting laps today, too, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the 300s were actually 350s.

Thursday: Bike—Emigration Canyon
I just joined the Salt Lake Tri Club (for the grand price of $1 until the end of the year—score!), and this was the first group workout I did. It was just over 25 miles, and I discuss it in detail here.

Friday: OFF
I only took one day off this week even though I’m still recovering because, let’s be honest, my workouts this week are pretty low key.

Saturday: Bike—East Canyon (34 miles in 2:34:24)
I was planning a pretty basic, boring 2 to 2.5 hour ride, but last night while I was half-asleep, I decided I would hit the top of Emigration Canyon, keep going, and check out East Canyon.  I told myself I didn’t have to finish the whole thing and that I could just turn around if it got too tough.  But it never did.  Don’t get me wrong—climbing East Canyon was tough.  I bottomed out at just above 6 miles an hour, and the last three miles probably took me over 20 minutes to climb.  But it was manageable!  I’ve been really scared of East Canyon, so being able to try it out and actually finishing the climb and feeling good afterwards gave me a lot of cycling confidence.  Maybe Big Cottonwood isn’t beyond my ability after all!

The MapMyRide elevation profile for my ride
The MapMyRide elevation profile for my ride

Sunday: Run—7 miles (1:01:07)
I did not have the benefit of recovered legs for this run.  Right when I woke up, I could tell my legs were stiff and tired from yesterday’s ride.  It was one of those days where my only thought for the first few minutes of my run was, “Ugh, why?” But I got into a good pace.  The route I ran today includes more hills than my preferred run (so, any hills at all).  That, plus my tired legs, made this a pretty hard, but also pretty satisfying, workout.  I finished in 1:01:07 which comes out to an 8:43/mile pace.

My plan for the next couple of months is to cut back on swimming so I can get some good miles in on the bike before fall and stay up with my running so that I’m in a good position to start marathon training in November.

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Group rides and the continuation of a quest

I have a confession to make.

I moved to Salt Lake nine months ago, and I have yet to make a single friend.

I had really good intentions of making friends after moving here.  I’ve been going to church (almost) every week and dutifully going to the coffee hour afterwards.  But while I’ve made some acquaintances, none of them have turned into friendships, probably primarily because of my horrible social skills.  I’ve made at least one really poor effort at “getting out.”  A few months ago, I saw a dinner for people in their 20s and 30s advertised in the church bulletin.  A dinner?  For people my age?  I’m totally going to go and nail this whole “making friends” business!  So I planned for it.  I psyched myself up (out?) all week for it, and every day I dreaded the approaching dinner a little bit more.  It was in a restaurant… what if things were awful and I couldn’t just sneak out because I had to pay the check?  I would have to awkwardly ask for the check while people around me were still effortlessly having intelligent, humorous, meaningful conversations.  I would have to bring attention to my own social failure to even leave the situation.  For some reason, that worry haunted me and just kept growing and growing until it was the primary thought I associated with this event.  I was sure it was going to be terrible. I was going to want to leave the moment I got there and would be pitied and judged accordingly when I asked for a check before I had even started on my food.

Still, the day of the dinner, I intended to go tough it out.  I was going to be social if it killed me.  And at that point, I was pretty sure it would.   I was driving home from work that afternoon and gave my sister a call to help motivate me.  But as I was spilling out my worries to her, I had a fleeting thought: I wish I had some ipecac.  Then I could just take that and get out of this thing altogether. Guys, have you ever taken ipecac to get out of a social obligation?  I have.  Ipecac is horrible.  It had me on the ground feeling just as bad as the worst stomach flu has ever made me feel.  And here I was, voluntarily attending something that I would literally drink ipecac to avoid.  So I just didn’t go.  I decided it was really stupid to force myself to do something that was causing me that much misery, and I went home and played video games instead.  Great decision.  But also one that put a stop to my quest to make friends.

Until today.

I recently signed up with the Salt Lake Triathlon Club.  It’s relatively inexpensive, and the members seemed really friendly when I ended up helping them man their aid station at the Utah Half Toughman.  I thought it would be a great way to both meet new people and become a better triathlete.  Early this week, I was looking through the group workouts and noticed that there was a group ride up Emigration Canyon scheduled for Thursday.  I’ve climbed Emigration a lot this summer.  It’s close to Rob’s place, and it’s a good, quick workout.  So I decided to try it.  There is minimal social pressure when you are on a group ride which makes it pretty much ideal for me.  I was a little nervous about it, but in a completely manageable way, not in an I’d-rather-be-sick-on-the-bathroom-floor-all-night kind of way.

After work, I ate a snack, cuddled Rob’s cat, and then left for the group ride.

Rob sent me off to the ride and took a picture like it was the first day of school
Rob sent me off to the ride and took a picture like it was the first day of school

When I got to the parking lot we were meeting in, I didn’t see anything that looked like a group getting ready to ride.  After waiting for a few minutes, I was thoroughly convinced that no one was going to show up, and my very good attempt at being social would be for naught.  But then a car pulled up and a woman grabbed a TT bike from the back of her SUV.  They were the group!

There was a pretty wide range of experience for such a small group, so we spread out pretty quickly after starting up the canyon.  I did some intervals on the way up, and I noticed that my legs felt really good.  I’m fairly certain that I could have hit my PR up the canyon if I hadn’t walked my bike around the parking lot and started off slower than usual because it was a group ride.  I’m not sure what made my legs feel that good—probably a combination of a light tailwind, getting started later in the day, and the miracle of rested legs.  I was riding in a harder gear than typical and it was easier than usual.  The ride was gorgeous. Most of the climb was lined with black-eyed Susan flowers in full bloom, and the trees were casting shadows long shadows over the road.  The sun was setting but was still hitting the tops of the trees in the canyon, giving them a golden glow.  After living here for nine months, sometimes I take the beauty of the mountains for granted.  It’s nice to be reminded how fortunate I am to be so close to such great landscapes.

Even with all the delays, I made it to the top just two minutes off my all-time PR (and I had a pretty decent tailwind for that PR), so I felt great about the ride.  When I hit the top, I circled back down and picked up the group and did the final climb again with them.  It was one of the woman’s first times climbing the canyon, and it was great to get to the top with her because she was (understandably) pretty excited about it.

The view from the top of Emigration Canyon
The view from the top of Emigration Canyon

The woman leading the ride and I went fast on the way down—I don’t typically push myself that hard on the way down Emigration Canyon, but I did today to try to keep up with her on her TT bike.  The more comfortable I get on the bike, the more I love going fast downhill.  It actually got a bit chilly during a few sections of the descent, and it’s the first time I’ve been chilly on a bike (during the day, at least) for a long time.  When we got back to the cars, she and I chatted a bit.  Yes, you read that right—I actually chatted, as in held a small-talk conversation for a respectable amount of time.  When I got back to Rob’s place, I had clocked in just over 25 miles and met three new people—not bad for a Thursday evening! Maybe this whole “quest to make friends… eventually” will turn out okay after all.

Back at Rob's place at just over 25 miles
Back at Rob’s place at just over 25 miles

Utah Half Toughman Race Report (8/22/2015)

This race came to be kind of by accident. Rob was lamenting the dearth of good cycling races in the area. I mentioned that he might look into doing the bike leg of a triathlon with a team. “I mean, you work at an outdoor retailer. Maybe you can even put a team together from people at work,” I said when we first had this conversation. “And if you can’t find a swimmer, I could do it.” BAM. I had just volunteered for the swim leg. Rob was pretty fond of the idea and was listing a few people at work that might be interested in the run. I mentioned in passing, “I bet my dad would do the run leg if those folks aren’t interested. He’d probably get a kick out of it.” From that point, our fates were sealed. The rest was just logistics.

My parents drove down the day before the race. This was slated to be the first time my parents met Rob’s parents, so it was a big-ish deal. And that part of the weekend seemed to go swimmingly. After Rob, my Dad, and I picked up our race packet, we spent the evening at Rob’s parents’ house, eating way too many snacks and not leaving nearly enough room for a giant spaghetti dinner. I mean, my dad was still able to put away two plates, of course, because somehow, he always can. I was really pleased with how well our parents’ clicked. By the end of the weekend, my dad was admiring Rob’s step-dad’s yard and porch and giving him advice to get rid of the tiny saplings that kept growing from a tree that had been cut down a while ago. And our moms were planning a weekend getaway centered around buying way too many things they didn’t really need from IKEA. I’d say that was a success.

The day started way too early (though not really that early for a triathlon race day). I hadn’t slept all that well which made the four o’clock wake up call both a relief (I can finally stop trying to sleep!) and a frustration (I can’t believe I have to get up so early after such a crappy night of sleep…). I was my usual high-strung, maybe-a-little-grouchy pre-race self, trying not to get annoyed that everyone wasn’t 15 minutes ahead of the schedule I had previously dictated. But everything turned out fine—we all ended up at the race site with time to set up in the transition, get changed into our race gear, and panic (me).

Waiting for the race to start
Waiting for the race to start
Goggle and wetsuit smile at the fans
Goggle and wetsuit smile at the fans

My plan was to go out a little harder than I might normally and just focus on having a strong kick during the entire swim. In reality, when they started the relay teams (in the first wave, no less), I took off much faster than I had planned. Before I reached even the first buoy, I was thinking just how tired I was. Time to dial it back a little, maybe. After we rounded the first buoy, we made a 90° turn and started towards the second buoy which was really far away and maybe helps explain some stupidity you’ll be reading about in a few paragraphs.

Before the swim started, they had warned us that the water would be shallow. They were right. During most of the race, if I extended my arm down fully, I could scrape the bottom (which consisted of the gooiest mud ever—this lake was pretty gross). But during this stretch, I hit some water that was only 2-3 feet deep. So I had to really adjust my stroke to continue swimming. I saw a lot of people just stand up and run a few paces during this section. I chose not to because I figured I’d be faster swimming a weird stroke than trying to run in two feet of water and a foot of mud. I hit the next buoy, and that’s when things got a little dicey.

So, somehow I got turned around. I have a really terrible sense of direction, and in open water I can get turned around (especially if I haven’t been in that particular body of water before). I thought I was going the right way, then I thought I was going the wrong way, then I kind of stood up and said, “Where are we going?!” And some guy told me to swim to the triangle buoy, so I did. But I was pretty sure I had accidentally swum a portion of the course twice. So I was frustrated and lamenting the fact that I would have no chance of hitting my PR. I tried to keep a positive attitude, though, and picked up the pace a bit to try to mitigate damage. I hit the super shallow part on the way back and tried a slightly different technique—when pulling through with my stroke, I just shoved my hand into the mud and pushed off the slightly firmer mud under the gooiest mud in the world. I’m still not sure if this helped because I had more leverage on my pull or hurt by stalling my momentum a bit. But it seems to have worked out.

Anyway, after hitting the final buoy, I pushed it in to the shore. Pretty much the second I stood up out of the water, I heard my dad yell my name. Good eye, Dad! As I ran out of the water, I took a glance at my watch and saw 33 minutes. WHAT. At this point, I became certain that, rather than swimming a portion of the course twice, I had actually accidentally cut off a portion. So I was worried and a bit upset when I ran into the transition to send Rob off. I was still a bit disoriented when I gave him the timing chip and wished him luck as he started off. Both sets of parents met me coming out of transition and congratulated me, but all I could say was that I had cut off part of the swim course. I asked my dad for the map we have been looking at earlier, and he handed it over. I looked over it. I hit that buoy. I hit that buoy. I hit that buoy. Then I turned around and hit that buoy… I looked up. “No, I think I swam the whole thing! …It must have been short.”

After the swim, when I still thought I had messed up the course
After the swim, when I still thought I had messed up the course

Swim— 33:08
Transition 1— 0:55

This is where the waiting started. The course marshal suggest not trying to see anyone on the bike course because of the logistical stuff—construction, bikes coming in and out, etc. So we waited. Ate some food, sat around, twiddled our thumbs. Eventually, my dad and I headed back to the transition area to wait for Rob to come in. So we waited. And waited. And waited some more. I was actually starting to get worried (What if he got three flats and is out of tubes? What if he crashed? What if he bonked?) when he rode up.

RobTransition
Rob rolling into transition

Sure enough, he had gotten a flat on the course around mile 16. His average speed (while moving) was 20.1, though, which is what he was hoping for. So despite the frustrations of a flat tire and all of the (illegal) drafting he saw, it was a good ride for him.

Bike— 2:55:04 (2:47 ride time)
T2— 0:38
Immediately after congratulating Rob, giving him a hug, and hearing a bit about his ride, I sprinted off to go cheer for my dad. The course was a loop, and I found a place where the two side of the loop were separated only by a parking lot, so that was where I camped out. They were understaffed at the two aid stations, so I was handing out water to the runners, cheering like crazy for my dad when he passed, and then going across the parking lot to hand out water and wait for my dad there. It was fun—I got to meet some great volunteers who were with the Salt Lake Triathlon Club, cheer for a lot of people, and see my dad and cheer my brains out several times.

His arms look strange here because he was getting ready to grab water from a volunteer just out of the photo
His arms look strange here because he was getting ready to grab water from a volunteer just out of the photo

Embarrassing aside– one of these times, I was doing crazy-Pridgen-shark-attack cheer when one of the people just a few yards ahead of my dad waved at me. It was my boss, guys. My boss who was also doing this event. I’m terrified that he thought I was losing my mind cheering for him—I would have cheered for him like a regular human being if I had seen him, not like an out-of-control maniac.

Anyway, after seeing my dad the last time, I ran back to the finish to wait for him there. We were all there cheering our brains out as he finished up. He looked strong the entire race and finished well on top of it, despite the 2000 foot elevation difference between his home and Provo.

Run: 1:44:21
Total: 5:14:08, 5/21 in relay division

My dad celebrating on the podium after the race
My dad celebrating on the podium after the race

He was wrecked, as he usually is after races, so we sat him down, and Rob and I just spent some time chatting with him as he recovered. I got him some watermelon, we apologized to the owners of the chair we co-opted, and we waited for the results. We had gotten some bad intel the night before when picking up our packets, so we thought there would be awards for male teams, female teams, and co-ed teams. Turns out, they only gave awards for the top three teams overall, so while we had a respectable placing of 5/21, it wasn’t enough to take home a prize which is no big deal (and also no big surprise considering all relay teams were competing against each other).  It was a really fun experience, and we all did well and felt good about our performances. (Well, for the most part. Rob’s still a little disappointed by the flat and wishes he had gone a bit faster, but he hit his goal, so he’s mostly satisfied.)

With our medals after the race
With our medals after the race

After a bit of a recovery and showers for all of us gross athletes at Rob’s parents’ house, we went out to The Iceberg, a local fast food place famous for their milkshakes. I know I promised a picture, but I totally forgot to take one because of course I did. I remembered halfway through, so here’s a picture of a half-eaten (and delicious) milkshake:

Peach milkshake-- a little mild. I'll probably do raspberry next time for a tangier flavor.
Peach milkshake– a little mild. I’ll probably do raspberry next time for a tangier flavor.

Goodbyes happened in the parking lot, and we sent my parents back to Idaho.

After returning home, I napped and it was glorious.

Weekly Recap (8/17-8/23)

Monday: Swim—4 x 50, 10 x 100, 150
The main set of this workout is a series of 100s where I swim the first 25 easy, the second 25 at a strong pace, the third 25 easy, and the final 25 pretty much as hard as I can.  My Olympic training plan included this workout several times, and I noticed today that it felt significantly easier than it did when I first started training for my Olympic triathlon early this summer. I feel like I’m in good swimming shape right now—better even than I was for my half-Ironman last year.  I guess we’ll see in a few days…

Tuesday: OFF
My excuse is that I’m tapering for my race.  But man—it was really nice to set my alarm for 6:05am and not 4:50am.  I think I could get used to this “no morning workout” thing.  I did stop by the pool to see if I left my jeans there (because I couldn’t find them anywhere).  They didn’t have my jeans.  But I found them later in the dirty clothes.  Go figure.

Wednesday: Swim—2 x 75, 2 x 750, 150
Up early again for a swim today.  I didn’t time my main sets today because I wanted to take them easy and not push myself a few days before a race.

Thursday: Bike—60 minutes
I went on a fairly easy ride before work.  Most morning rides have to be fairly easy just because it’s still dark and hitting a pothole or crack going 15 miles an hour is much more enjoyable than hitting that same pothole going 20 miles an hour.  As the days get shorter, I’ve been finding that my morning rides are noticeably darker.  It’s a kind of sad reminder that summer is nearing its end.

Friday: OFF
I just took a day off before the race.  It was nice that I didn’t have to worry about fitting even a short workout in when I was busy picking up race packets and spending time with my parents.

Saturday: Swim leg of the Utah Toughman
This will be described in length in my race report which is nearly finished and will be published as soon as I can find the results online and get all the official times.

Sunday: OFF
I was going to run on Sunday, but I was surprised at just how exhausted I was from the cheering and volunteering and being on my feet all day.  So Rob and I went out for breakfast instead.

I plan on taking next week a little easier as well and then jumping into some pretty hardcore cycling for the rest of the summer while keeping up with my running enough to be able to start marathon training in November.

Wetsuit legal!

I just got the “heeeey, don’t forget you’re signed up for a race this weekend” e-mail from the Utah Toughman that my dad, Rob and I are doing as a relay.  I was skimming through when this gem caught my eye: “Wetsuits Legal for age groupers.

YES.

In case you guys don’t know, wetsuits help with your buoyancy in the water.  Without any extra work, you float better and your body position is better in the water. In other words, they make you faster.  I’m not sure if this next part is true, but sometimes I think this is particularly advantageous for people like me with a low body fat percentage.

This helps me with my goal time for the race.  I’ve never done a timed open water swim without a wetsuit, so I was kind of struggling to set a goal time.  I feel stronger in the water than I did last year, but would the extra strength make up for the time I’d lose because I wasn’t wearing a wetsuit? Now, I’ve got a solid swim time to start from when making a goal.  So, I’ve got two goals:

  1. PR in the 1.2 mile distance. This is my if-I-don’t-manage-this-I-will-be-disappointed goal.  Last year, I biked 56 miles and ran 13.1 miles after finishing my 38:54 swim leg.  If I can’t manage that time in isolation, I will be pretty frustrated with myself.  But then, things happen on the swim that affect your time that are completely outside your control—buoys drift, the run to T1 is long, goggles get kicked off your face, etc.  This goal leaves room for some of that to happen.
  2. Break 35:00. Guys, I really don’t think this will happen.  This is as more of a stretch goal than the previous goal is a safe one.  I would have to PR by almost four minutes to hit this time.  I’m not fluent in swim times, but it would require me swimming faster by almost 10 seconds per 100m.  A much more reasonable goal would be 37:00 (which would also please me to no end!), but 35:00 just keeps sticking in my head, so I’m going to hope for it.

When I thought that I wouldn’t be wearing a wetsuit, my plan was to go out like I would go out for a full half-Ironman and then pick up the pace on the way back in.  Now that I know I’ll be wearing a wetsuit, I might change that approach slightly.  I still want to swim harder on the way in, but I think I’ll focus a bit on swimming harder on the way out.  Specifically, I want to focus on actively kicking the entire way through.  When I’m doing a triathlon, I save my legs by doing a pretty weak kick so I can save my legs for the bike and the run.  This time, I’m going to try to maintain a strong kick from the get-go.  I want my legs to be tired as I run to transition.

Just a few more days!  Because this is a low-pressure event for me, I’m really excited.  I get to spend some time with my parents, race with two of my favorite people, and—most importantly—get an unreasonably large milkshake afterwards.  And I will take a picture of it, even if it does make me look like a self-obsessed millennial.

This was when I tried my wetsuit on when I first got it-- right after a run. I was sweaty, and getting the stupid thing on right was impossible.
This was when I tried my wetsuit on when I first got it– right after a run. I was sweaty, and getting the stupid thing on right was impossible.

Weekly Recap (8/09-8/16)

ATTENTION: This post is a basically just a list of the workouts I did and how I performed while doing them. The intended audience of this post is Future Katie, anyone who likes to read about other people’s misery, and maybe someone interested in triathlon training.  So skip this if you are not in one of those categories.

Sunday: OFF
I took a break on Sunday.  Rob and I walked from his place to the little café where we ate breakfast and then walked back.  That was the extent of my workout, and it was glorious!

Monday: OFF
Because I was done with my race and I could.  Also glorious!

Tuesday: Pool—300 swim, 300 kick, 300 swim, 300 pull
Back in the pool for an easy workout to really prepare for the swim leg of the Utah Toughman (half-iron distance) I’m doing with Rob (bike) and my dad (run).  This was an easy effort.

Wednesday: Pool—4 x 500
Another fairly easy (but longer) effort in an attempt to get a few good swim workouts in before “tapering” for the race next week.

Thursday: Run—5.1 miles
I ran the 5.1 miles in 44:47 for a pace of 8:47/mile.  I ran about ten minutes after I woke up which is usual for me but really hurts my pace (as you can tell).  If I’m going to improve the speed on my runs at all, I will need to start running after work or figure out a way to warm up my muscles before running in the morning.  I think this is one factor that is holding me back from improving my Olympic-distance run time.

Friday: Swim—4 x 50, 1000, 800, 600, 4 x 50
Three long sets sandwiched between a warmup and cool down.  My times and pace were as follows:

  • 1000—17:04 (1:42 per 100yds)
  • 800—13:56 (1:44 per 100yds)
  • 600—10:07 (1:41 per 100yds)

These are good times for me and give me hope that I can meet my not-yet-quite-determined goal time in my 1.2 mile swim next week (what that goal is will likely depend on if wetsuits are allowed on the course).

Saturday: Swim—2150yds (1.2 miles)
I was going to go for a bike ride on Saturday, but Rob called me up while I was eating cereal and asked if I wanted to go to breakfast.  YES.  Dumped the rest of the cereal in the trash like I didn’t even care (but I did!  I hated wasting the food!) and headed over to his place.  After a way-too-big breakfast (which I did not take a picture of because I have a strong aversion to fulfilling millennial stereotypes) and a nap, I headed out for a swim because it was too hot to ride.  I finished the swim in 39:06, maintaining a fairly easy pace until the last 200 yards or so.  This comes out to a pace of 1:49/100yds.   Not bad, and it left me feeling good for the race next week.

Sunday: Bike—Emigration Canyon
Because I didn’t ride on Saturday, I did Emigration today.  Altogether, the ride took me about 1:25.  This time is encouraging because when I first moved here, I usually did Emigration in 1:32 or so.  So knowing I’ve cut a decent chunk of my ride time for that route feels pretty good.  It was a solid ride—rode hard on the way up (for me) and took it easy descending.

On another (positive) note, my appetite has finally returned in full force. I ate a lot this weekend (a good thing!), and I didn’t have even a single moment where food that should have looked good under the circumstances made my stomach turn.  Winning.

So… now what?

Usually, I’m weighed down by a slight feeling ennui after a race.  I don’t think that any one race (regardless of the outcome) can live up to the months put into training.  So, rather than spend a few days basking in the glory of having done a thing and having managed to fool those around me into thinking I’m a capable adult (with hobbies!), I tend to shrug and say, “Well… now what?”

Don’t get me wrong—it’s been great to be a “real person” again for a few days.  On Sunday morning, I was able to go out for breakfast with Rob because I didn’t have to do a long run or ride before church.  We were able to go to his mom’s house last night without me considering what my workout would be the next morning.  But as much as I enjoy the physical break (and trust me—I do!), I never quite know how to deal with the mental break.  Being someone who has always gained a lot of satisfaction from working towards goals, this post-achievement ennui is familiar territory to me.  I first remember the feeling after winning State track my sophomore year.  I also felt this way after finishing my thesis, paying off my school loans, and getting a promotion.  I suppose this is mostly positive because it helps me continue to take deliberate steps towards bettering myself.  I’m pretty sure it also makes me annoying to live with, but you’ll have to get testimonials on that.

Anyway, this love of goals gets me thinking about what I want to do next triathlon-wise very early (despite being a pretty average triathlete).  So I’ve got my course plotted for my “pre-Ironman training” training.  There are several things I’d like to accomplish before I officially start my training plan in April.

  • Climb Big Cottonwood Canyon—I want to spend the rest of the summer really focusing on getting some miles in on the bike. It’s hard to ride in the winter (especially for someone who hates anything resembling a stationary bike), so I want to take advantage of the warm summer and beautiful fall in Salt Lake City.  Big Cottonwood Canyon is not the hardest climb around (not by a long shot), but it will be the hardest climb I’ve ever done.  I climbed Bogus Basin once when I was still in Boise, but this is longer and has a slightly steeper grade.  This will be documented when it happens because I’ve been eyeing this climb for a year.
  • Start swimming with a Masters team—I know that there is a Masters group that meets at my pool. I know this because I see them all the time and very often swim a few lanes down from them.  I know a lot of them are triathletes because I’ve overhead them chatting with each other while I stand off to the side, awkwardly listening in and wishing I knew how to be social.  I suppose this one is a two-pronged goal: start taking swimming more seriously and try to actually maybe even make friends after living in this city for eight months.
  • Train for a marathon—This is my loftiest goal. Despite being a “runner,” I am more afraid of the marathon portion of the Ironman than I am the other two legs put together.  I’m a very comfortable swimmer (comfortable ≠ fast), and I’ve had no problem doing the few two miles swim workouts I’ve done or swimming fairly long distances in the open water.  I know I’ll be able to work up to a respectable, not-too-painful 2.4 miles swim if I just follow my training plan.  I’ve done two centuries (100 mile rides) on the bike, so I know that I can bike the 112 miles.  But my longest run ever tops out at about 14 miles.  That’s still 12 miles short of a marathon distance.  So the running leg of the Ironman basically terrifies me.  I’ve found what looks like a good training plan online that only has you run three days a week and builds in 2-3 days a week of the cross-training of your choice.  Perfect for maintaining swim fitness and fitting in a bike ride on a particularly warm winter day.  I don’t plan on running an “official” marathon as a culmination to my training, but I may do a 26.2 mile training run in place of a race, just so I have confidence that I can, in fact, move my slow little legs that entire distance.

Oh, and I realized that a common denominator among those women with perfect post-triathlon hair was that their hair was braided.  So I tried that out for myself during my swim today.  Somehow, I don’t think the braid-technique has the desired effect on me.

Fail.
Fail.

Jordanelle Olympic Triathlon Race Report (8/08/2015)

It’s probably kind of strange for the first post of a triathlon blog to be a race report, but this race kind of got me excited about writing, so here it is.

The Jordanelle Triathlon was my “A” race this year.  And, actually, as I was trying to save money for the IRONMAN I wanted to do next year, it was my only race this year.  As such, I felt a good bit of pressure to do well and not “waste the summer,” as I so eloquently put it during one of my more worried moments.  As the day of the race approached, I became more and more convinced it was destined to go poorly.

For a month or two beforehand, I struggled with my appetite.  I wasn’t eating enough, lost too much weight, and had low energy levels because I just couldn’t force down enough food.

About two weeks before the race, I gave blood after being heartily reassured by a Red Cross employee that it would not affect my race at all, only to read later that it takes 4-6 weeks for red blood cells to replenish.

The evening before the race, Rob and I biked downtown to watch the Tour of Utah.  It was really fun to see the pros up close like that.  I hydrated and stayed out of the sun, and all seemed well.  Until I got stuck biking back to Rob’s pace in the worst rainstorm I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand.  It was truly astounding.  I’ve never really known what it means when people talk about “raining in sheets.”  But now I do.  It was like there were walls of rain blowing through.  If I hadn’t been so worried about the race, it would have been an amazing experience.

The weather for the race site still predicted thunder storms throughout most of the next day.

So, still cold and wet, I went to bed that night after giving up all expectations that I had held for this race while training for it throughout the summer.  You would think that this collection of experiences would end in a) the worst race ever because of the aforementioned issues or b) the best race ever because I finally let go of my expectations or some such nonsense.  But life is not an inspirational sports movie, so in the end, I did… okay.  Not great, but certainly not poorly either.

This triathlon had an early start time for an Olympic (7:30am), so I picked up Rob at his place around 4:45 (which means I got up around 4).  Because of the location of this race, no cars were allowed near the starting point.  So I had to ride my bike in about 3.5 miles (which I didn’t mind because it was a good warmup), and Rob brought in the rest of my stuff on the shuttle.  The final pre-race tragedy happened when I was putting my bike in the transition area and noticed I was missing a water bottle (the one I had filled with Gatorade).  It was just there, I thought to myself.  I specifically checked that just last night! It hit me that the bottle must have fallen out of the backseat of my car.  Crap. One bottle wasn’t really going to be enough.  I panicked for a moment before I remembered a last-minute addition to my bag the previous night—the half-empty bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of water to sip before the race.  Crisis averted.

Once Rob got there with my stuff, I finished setting up my transition, gagged on the Egg McMuffin we got on the way up, forced down a gel with caffeine (first gel I’ve had ever had… verdict—nasty), and got in my wetsuit.  I gave Rob instructions to yell out the temperature when I came out of the water so I would know what the wear on the bike.

This photo was Rob's idea. The facial expression was, unfortunately, mine.
This photo was Rob’s idea. The facial expression was, unfortunately, mine.

The Swim

Time—30:36.5

Despite my time here, the swim went well.  The course was a two-loop triangle.  I started off strong, and as usually happens when I swim, my arms got tired right away and then a few hundred meters later felt great (which probably means I’m not warming up enough).  I felt like I had a strong stroke, and I was swimming completely on my own which I prefer, even though it means I’m missing out on drafting opportunities.  So, I was tired to first buoy, felt great to the second, then turned towards shore for the first time.  The sun was directly in my eyes which I had been expecting because I had come up for a swim a few weeks earlier.  I couldn’t see the third buoy at all, so I tried to sight based on the splashing of other swimmers in front of me.  This led to my only mistake in the swim.  I didn’t take the angle after the second buoy sharply enough and swam pretty significantly off-course.  Once I realized this, I corrected and attacked the swim with a renewed vengeance.  I swam the rest of the course harder than I probably would have and made sure to not make the same mistake twice.  I was pretty perfectly on course as I headed back to shore the second time.

As I got out of the water, I heard Rob shout “54 degrees!” Perfect. That means I can hop on the bike wet and with no gloves or arm warmers and be fine. Then he shouted, “I think you’re the fourth or fifth woman out of the water!”

“Really?!” I shouted back.  That surprised me.  That’s a really good placing for me, and my time didn’t reflect it.  I heard later that the buoys drifted and the course was long.  Looking at my time compared to other people’s times, I’m inclined to believe that was the case.  There were hardly any sub-30 minute swim times, and the fastest woman only came in at 26:39 (when usually a few women are down in the 21 or 22 minute range).

The water is very low this year. Usually, the swim exit would be way up where the green rug takes a sharp turn.
The water is very low this year. Usually, the swim exit would be way up where the green rug takes a sharp turn.

T1—2:46

The Bike

Time—1:23:10.2

Leaving T1
Leaving T1
All clipped in (finally!)
All clipped in (finally!)

I rolled out of T1 feeling fresh and ready to ride.  I knew what to expect because I had ridden the course.  I knew the first half would be a false flat uphill, probably against the wind, before turning around and heading back down the climb.  I had been training up Emigration Canyon which is about twice the incline, so I felt prepared for the course.  I was right—upon turning out of the Rock Cliff recreation area, I was greeted by the aforementioned false flat and the expected light/moderate headwind.  At that point, I decided to ride pretty hard.  I knew that coming down would be easier, even if I went as fast as I could, and that meant my legs would have a bit of time to recover before the run.  That was a good decision—it would have been easy to be intimidated by the false flat, not want to push it, and lose time that didn’t need to be lost.

The beginning of the bike consisted, as usual, of quite a few men and a few women zooming past me on their $4,000 time trial bikes.  Ah, the pains of being a fairly strong swimmer who is limited by the bike!  I will say, though, that fewer people passed me early in the bike than in previous races.  I do think my cycling is getting more competitive.

I felt great until the last few miles of the climb, at which point I started watching my bike computer obsessively waiting for the turn around.  And when I hit that turn around, I flew.  Downhill with a decent tailwind—everyone’s favorite cycling conditions!  So, I took advantage of it, got down in my drops (on my drops?  Rob told me which is was yesterday, and I’ve since forgotten!), and shifted down to my hardest gear.  I was feeling pretty pro, until about 4/5ths of the way through when all of the Absurdly Athletic 40-SomethingsTM started passing me (they had started in a later wave).  Oh well.  I knew to expect it.  The best part of the bike was when I hit the short 10% grade descent.  I just went for it and watched with awe as my speed kept creeping up until it hit 45mph which is the fastest I’ve ever gone on a bike by a long shot.

Overall, my time was a little slower than my last Olympic, but considering that course was downhill overall with only one small climb, I felt good about my time on this course.  It was a much harder course than the previous one, and I think I was stronger comparatively.

T2—1:11

The Run (5.7 miles)

Time—46:57.4

My legs were pretty shot after the bike, and I could feel it as I ran out of transition.  As usual, I had no idea how fast I was going.  I always feel like a slug coming off the bike because my legs are just moving so much slower.  I could have been running 7-minute miles or 10-minute miles, and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.  As I left transition, I heard some guy cheer me on in such a way that implied I was going fast. I’ll take it.  I must be doing fine.  I wanted to hit an 8-minute mile, and when I passed the first mile marker, I glanced down at my watch. 7:58. Perfect.  As I normally do, I grabbed a water and took a sip (to stave off dry-mouth) and poured the rest on my head to help stay cool.

The course was hillier than I expected.  There was one longer, not-very-steep hill up the paved side of the road.  That wasn’t bad.  But there were also a few short walls when we were running on the campground trails.  I wasn’t prepared for how much those would tire me out.  Still, I was holding pace, crossing mile two at 15:30 and mile three at 23:30.  Unfortunately, after mile three, the mile markers ended.  Essentially, the sprint was a full 3.1 miles while the Olympic was only 5.7.  The Olympic course was a two-lap convoluted lollipop, and the “stick” of the lollipop was only run once.  The mile markers were for the sprint course.  So, at mile marker three I had 2.7 miles left, and at mile marker one (take two), I had 2.1 miles left.  I couldn’t track my mile pace, and that ended up setting me up for the one regret from this race—slowing down the second lap.

Passing the turn-off for the finish and having to start your second lap instead can be a big knock to your mental state during the run.  It was for me during this race.  Additionally, for some reason, the .6 miles between mile three and the first aid station/mile marker one felt really, really long.  I went from feeling great to being frustrated.  Frustrated people drop pace (which I promptly did).  And I didn’t pick it back up again until probably half a mile left.  I should have really started pushing it when I knew I was only one mile out.  Mental toughness is something that I’ve struggled with at the end of all my triathlons so far, and I need to figure out a way to address it.  In the end, my pace was 8:14/mile and not the 8:00 I had hoped for.  Because I came to triathlon through running, I’ve been pretty frustrated that my running hasn’t been more competitive for me.  It’s something I’m going to work on this winter.

I did pick it up the final half mile, though.  I got into a good pace, passed one more person, and finished strong.  I was pretty dead after the finish, so despite my frustrations with the run, I didn’t leave a lot out on the course.  I did push myself hard, and I can see improvement, especially in the bike.  After the race, I got to hang around, give Rob most of my pizza because I didn’t feel up to eating it, and wonder how all these women who had just finished triathlons still had perfect hair and make-up (I, on the other hand, could barely run my fingers through my matted and tangled mess of hair after taking out my hair tie).  I also found out there were rattlesnakes (RATTLESNAKES!) right on the course that some race volunteer had to kill with a shovel while we were all running.  This was a horrifying piece of information for me, and I don’t think I could have managed it if I had known beforehand.

I knew I had a chance of placing at this even, so we stuck around to wait for the results.  I ended up taking second in my age group (to one of the manicured beauty queens), which I was happy with.

Overall Time— 2:44:41.4
2/12 in my age group (25-29)
9/59 out of the women

You'll notice I didn't look like a supermodel after the race...
You’ll notice I didn’t look like a supermodel after the race…

Here are my takeaways:

  • I’m missing something in training. I don’t feel like I’m competing as well as I can.  I think I need to get involved with some triathletes to help me figure this stuff out.  Maybe it’s how I’m training or just how I’m fueling, but I know I’m not reaching my potential.
  • I am so lucky to have the support system I do. I have a wonderful boyfriend who was in the car with me at 4:45am and cheering for me all day, even though it meant missing something he would have liked to do (watching the Tour of Utah).  My dad was thrilled to hear about my race and let me talk his ear off with a play-by-play after I got home.  Not everyone has this, and I need to make sure I don’t take it for granted.
  • Now that this Olympic is out of the way, it’s time to shift focus to the Ironman. Everything from now until August 2016 will be preparing for that, in some way or another.  And now that I don’t have this race to worry about, I can give myself permission to obsess over it.