Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Before I Knew What 'BQ' Was

This is kind of a random post.  I don't know if it has a purpose. 

So, I got four emails today from Sport Photo with an offer at 25% and 50% off some old races.  A few of the races I think they had the wrong person for so I just deleted the email.  But, one of the races was for the 2011 Melbourne & Beaches Music Marathon.  This was the 2nd marathon that I had done.  I signed up for it shortly after completing the Palm Beaches Marathon race the previous December.  I signed up for it because I was still on a runner's high and wanted to get in another race before it got too hot.  I had no goal other than to finish the race.  I just wanted to do another one.  OK.  That's kind of a lie.  My goal was under 4 hours.  But, I finished the Palm Beaches Marathon in 3:50:01 so I figured it was totally doable.

This is my recollection of what happened.  Daniel and I got to Melbourne the night before the race, did the usual packet pickup, hotel check-in, and find something to eat.  We ate a bar that had pizza which was fine with me.  After eating we decided to hang out and walk around a bit.  Ended up at another small bar for a beer or two (for Daniel) and then headed back to the hotel.  The hotel we were at wasn't very nice, but it was on the run course.  So, Daniel was able to come out and see me twice as I ran by. 

Almost all straight-aways (very few turns) and totally flat except for the two bridges that you have to go over twice each.

I honestly don't remember that well.  I do remember getting to try an orange for the first time on a course.  Awesomeness.  When there are oranges on the course I will 99% take one now.  All the aid stations seemed to be well stocked with water and nutrition of varying sorts

This is no a big race so there are not very many spectators at all.

The year I did it the weather was awesome.  Overcast with a very list mist the entire race.  You can't plan for this stuff!  And, it was in February so the weather was already a little cooler.

Pretty good for such a small race.  I would go to say that it was better than some of the bigger races that I've been to.  Lots of food vendors.  I remember getting a banana, cookies, and pizza.  I of course ate all of it... cookies and pizza first.  For drinks they had the standard water, Gatorade, as well as Muscle Milk.               

How did I do?  3:39:10

I beat my previous time by 10 min and 51 sec!  And, ended up taking 3rd place in my a/g.  This race was back in the days placing never even crossed my mind.  I didn't know I had 3rd place until I looked at the results when I got home.  I ended up having to email the race director to have my award sent to me.

Daniel wasn't expecting me for another 10 minutes so I was wondering around for a while.  Now he makes sure to get to a race finish about 20 minutes before my expected finish time, just in case  :). 

A day or so later I was talking to someone about the race and they mentioned that they think I may  have qualified for Boston.  I was like "What?  What is Boston?"  I looked up the race and the qualification requirements and I had indeed qualified.  This was the last year that of the older qualifying times and still allowed the additional 59 seconds, but the first year that they were implementing the rule of the faster runners getting to register earlier and are allowed in, regardless if you qualified.  My qualifying time then was 3:40.  So, I had qualified, but I would be in the last wave and there was no guarantee that there would be any slots left for me when I did get to register.  I decided that I did want to go to Boston and that I wanted to try for a faster time so I could register earlier.  This took me on the path of signing up for the Santa Rosa Marathon in California, which still holds my PR marathon time of 3:29:54, and then the LeHigh Valley Marathon in Pennsylvania.

Oddly enough or not, I sometimes miss those days when I did a race just to do it.  No goal in mind other than to finish and maybe beat my previous time.  I would be lying though if I said I didn't enjoy tackling the challenges of competing to place or qualifying for a specific race.  Se la vie, right?           

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rise and Shine!

... or maybe not.  Yesterday I did not rise and shine.  I was supposed to either do a Master's swim at UT or drive out to Pass-A-Grille in St. Pete for a group OWS.  I looked at the weather forecast for Wednesday and it looked like there would be thurderstorms in the AM.  So, I said, "I'm just going to go ahead and sleep in and I'll go later.  It'll be more fun to go with a group and do open water training anyway."  But... driving through 5 o'clock traffic for 40 miles is no bueno.  What did I do.  I talked myself out of it.  Too far, I don't want to waste the gas for 30 minutes, Daniel is probably going to want dinner, my new laptop that my super awesome fiancĂ© bought me so I would stop complaining about the current crappy one is supposed to be here right around that time and it needs to be signed for (of course it didn't come until 8 PM and the driver never asked for a signature).  I mean, the excuses were almost endless.

 Today, I was this close >< to going straight back to bed.  My alarm went off at 5:00 AM and this is what happened over the next 25 minutes:

- "what is that noise? Oh, my alarm..."
- go to the bathroom and sit on the toilet for 5 minutes trying to decide how tired I REALLY am
- decide that I'm too tired to get in a good swim and will just put on my run clothes and get in the 40 min, not easy, treadmill run because if I don't do it now I won't have time to do it later.  Lunch time is taken up by a meeting with Jon and after work is the Bucs game -- priorities!
- put on clothes and think, I'm going to go lay back down on the couch for a bit.  I am going to get done with my run and come back too early and be sitting here twiddling my thumbs wide awake
- get downstairs and think, "well, I'm awake now.  Might as well just go swim and run after"
- go back upstairs, change and grab my gym back to throw my run clothes in it
- 6:25 AM - left home to swim at LA Fitness and run on the treadmill after.  SUCCESS!

My thought process and activities of the above 25 minutes are pretty common.  I've been known to just lay back down on my bedroom floor as uncomfortable as possible while arguing with myself on how tired I really am, how good an effort I can put in to my workout for the morning and is the extra 40 minutes of sleep worth missing my workout.  That is usually the deciding factor for me.  Sometimes I've already missed a workout for the week.  Like yesterday.  So, if I miss another one, I am all sorts of grumpy.  If I get into the workout and it's just not happening, then I scale it back and do what I can because a shitty workout is better than no workout in my mind when I've already missed one. 

Are you wondering what happened with today's workout? 
All that fuss and it was awesome. 

2400m swim - MS X 2, 30 seconds rest between each 200 and 2 min rest after 1st time through MS:
  • 150 steady, 50 fast - total time 1) 1:41, 2) 1:34
  • 100 steady, 100 fast - total time 1) 1:35, 2) 1:32
  • 50 steady, 150 fast - total time 1) 1:31, 2) 1:30
  • 200 fast - total time 1) 1:27, 2) 1:25

How did the run pan out?
Let's see:
race pace = 6:31 min/mi, easy jog = 10:00 min/mi
10 min w/u @ 9:15
2 min @ 5k race pace, 1 min easy jog
3 min @ 5k race pace, 1 min easy jog
4 min @ 5k race pace, 1 min easy jog
5 min @ 5k race pace, 1 min easy jog
7 min @ 8:34
5 min c/d @ 9:15


Love this video which kind of sums up what my mornings are like 99% of the time when I have to get up early to workout ... which is most days; and what usually happens when I get past the morning struggle.  Enjoy!

"Probably the most motivational video you'll see this week!"

Saturday, October 19, 2013

When You Can't Get To The Gym

I had 4 swims planned for this week.  Yesterday was #3.  So, I got up in the morning and got in the swim.  Hooray!  It's a pretty big deal when I get past 2.  When I get past 3 in one week you almost have to ask,  "Who are you and what have you done with Maria?".  Sadly, I am not going to get in my 4th swim which was planned for today.  I am pooped. 

Yesterday I had some strength training also planned.  I knew I wasn't going to be able to get it in after work, so I was going to do it during my lunch break.  I normally will run to the gym that is exactly one mile away, train for about 45 minutes, and then run back.  I was pretty swamped at work so I decided to stay at home and make due with what I had.  I worked out legs and a little bit of upper body on Wednesday so I decided to do upper body and some abs yesterday. 

When you train at home, you don't need one of those huge all-in-one gym sets.  I would suggest getting a pull-up bar (even if you can't do a pull-up.... yet!), some free weights ranging from 5 to 15 or 20 lbs, and a jump rope.  The free weights can add up so start with a couple sets of the lower weight and buy the heavier sets when you're ready to start doing heavier weight. 

Using the pull-up bar:
"As a compound body-weight exercise, pull-ups work everything from the back to the shoulders to the biceps and triceps, making them a versatile addition to any strength-training regimen... Both wide-grip and close-grip pull-ups further emphasize the target muscle of standard pull-ups, the latissimus dorsi, also known as laterals or lats, which run from the side of the torso to the spine. The wider your hand position, the greater the emphasis on your outer lats. Wide-grip pull-ups take some strain off of the shoulders, a secondary muscle group engaged by pull-ups. Close-grip pull-ups put their focus specifically on the lower lats, the lower back region just above the buttocks."

More details on pulls ups here and chin ups here.
So, if you were ever in doubt if you should try to do a pull up (of any variation) hopefully this will motivate you to try, try again.  If you're at home, grab a chair and position it under the bar.  When you need the extra help, put one foot on the chair to help lift you up.  An assisted pull up is better than no pull up. 

My work-out with the pull up bar:
5 wide grip, 10 pushups (major muscles - chest and tris, supportive muscles - biceps, quads, core.  Details here)
4 wide grip, 11 pushups
3 wide grip, 12 pushups
2 wide grip, 13 pushups
1 wide grip, 15 pushups
rest - 2 min.
5 chin ups, 10 dips (I didn't have a chair stable enough or at the right height.  So, I improvised and used the edge of my bathtub.  Pretty clever, huh? <wink>)
- continue same as above down to 1 chip up and 15 dips

After that I continued on to the free weights as follows:
superset 1: 3 X (8 bicep curls with 2-25lb weights, 12 hammer curls with 2-15lb weights)
superset 2: 3 X (15 bent over rows each side with 1-25lb weight, 12 bent over reverse fly with 2-8lb weights)
superset 3: 3 X (8 bent over tri-extension with 1-15lb weight, 15 helicopters (2 should presses each) with 2-8lb weights).  I made up the name helicopter, so you are probably scratching your head on that one.  I have no idea what they are called.  But, standing (or sitting), hold up two weights so that your biceps are parallel with the floor, forearms are in front of your face, elbows bent 90 degrees and your palms facing you.  Rotate your shoulders back to open your chest and squeeze your back muscles and move into a shoulder press.  When your bring your arms back down and elbows are back to should height, bring the elbows together to squeeze the chest and come back to starting position.  I hope that made sense!

I followed this up with abs:
3 X with 7.5 lbs (10 each toe alternating toe touches with bent knee (kind of like doing the bicycle, except instead of bring your elbow to your opposite knee, you reach up and touch the toe of the knee that is up), 10 reach ups, 10 Russian Twists - each side)

So, you may be asking why I mentioned getting a jump rope when I didn't use it.  I have before.  I just figured that since I swam earlier I was good on cardio.  Although, that's just a half excuse because getting my heart rate up before starting the strength and keeping it higher would have burned more calories.  What can I say, I just didn't feel like it.  In this case, do as I say, not as I do, mkay?  :)

Benefits of jumping rope:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Long Over Due Race Recaps

I've been a super slacker when it comes to posting anything here.  I just get done with work and the last thing I want to do is look at a computer or think about anything.  Let's see if I can get in a recap of my races that I've had since Haines City without boring anyone to tears:

June 29, 2013:  Siesta Key Beach Tri - Olympic Distance
Total Time - 2:42:04; place - 2nd a/g, 6th OA female

Swim - 36:24
This was probably the craziest open water (o/w) swim I've ever done.  The waves were very high.  There was talk of them cancelling the swim, but obviously that didn't happen.  I was going up and down with the waves so much that I felt like I was going to through up about half way through the swim.  Other than that it was kind of a fun swim.  I was actually 1st in my a/g in the swim!

T1 - 1:25
I suck at transitions

Bike - 1:10:25
I was 1st in my a/g in the bike too.  I felt ok on the bike.  Nothing special.  This is the 3rd time I've done this course.  So, I knew what to expect.  Although, this was my slowest bike time.  The swim just killed me.  The wind was the same as every year on the bike.  So that's no excuse. 

T2 - 1:03

Run - 52:47
I was 2nd in my a/g on the run.  Mary Beth, who is in my a/g and I also train with, made up the 6 minute lead I had on her in the transitions and on the run to take 1st in our a/g.  This was also my slowest run of the 3 times that I've done this race.

Overall - The swim is always ok, the bike is always challenging because the roads are open to traffic and can get a little crowded on the 2nd loop, and the run is so freaking hard because it's hot, hot, hot, and in the sand.  But, I do love this race.  I guess I like the challenging races even though I'm cursing them when I'm in the middle of doing it. 
July 28, 2013: Scenic 17 Sprint Tri (.25 mile swim, 15 mile bike, 3.1 mile run)
Total Time - 1:14:53; place - 1st a/g, 2nd OA female

Swim - 7:50
I came in 2nd for females on the swim.  I was pretty excited about that.  Granted, it was only a .25 mile swim.  Super flat swim since it was in a lake

T1 - 1:39
This is the first time that I've tried starting the bike leg with my shoes already clipped in.  It worked out pretty well.  I didn't have any issues and I didn't fall.  :)

Bike - 42:40
Holy cow was this course hilly.  You don't think much of 'hills' when you think of Florida.  But Central and North Florida near Tallahassee have hills.  So, of course I got passed at the end of the bike by a couple of girls that train on the course every year since they attend the college that this race is hosted at (Webber International University).  I was 2nd in my a/g off the bike and 3rd OA female. 

T2 - :37

Run - 22:05
The run is supposed to be a 5K, but my watch said it was 2.9 miles.  Whatever, I'll take the shorter distance.  This run is not flat and it's not shaded. 

Overall - This is a very small race.  Maybe around 200 - 250 participants total.  But, there is definitely some strong competition and this is a very challenging course for being a sprint.  The awards are nice for being a smaller race.  A/G winners win a beer bug of various sizes depending on what place you came in.  Overall winners get a pitcher.  I've said this before, but I enjoy races that give out unique and/or functional awards.  Even if you don't really use them.  :)

August 18, 2013: Sea Dog Brewery 5K
Time - 20:53
I wanted to do this race to 1) to try and break 20 minutes on a 5K and 2) to see where my speed was at.  I did not break 20 minutes.  I didn't even set a PR.  But, it was under 7 min/mi with my first mile being at 6:40-something.  The first half mile was under 6 which I know is what killed me.  I didn't think I was going that fast until I looked down at my watch.

Nothing super special about this race.  It's put on by Premier Racing Institute that also put on the Pretty in Pink 15K that I last year with Sarah.  I like their races because they're usually a good size, not too big or too small and they are usually in Clearwater which isn't too far from me.  This race went back into a neighborhood for a little bit so there were more turns than I would have liked.  I am not a cheetah or a gazelle.  It is hard for me to turn on a dime and continue my speed.  I tend to slow down around a turn and slowly pick up my speed until I reach my top speed.  Sometimes when I slow down I can't get back up to where I was.   

Post race activity was great.  It was at the Sea Dog Brewery in Clearwater (hence the name) so everyone who was over 21 could get one free beer of their choosing.  Right when everyone finished though, they were just pouring and not taking any tickets.  So, a lot of people got multiple free beers.  They also had pastries, pizza, fruit, yogurt, and cookies.  The race shirts are gender specific which is always nice. 

I would recommend this race to anyone looking for a 5K.  Whether it's their first one or not.  In fact, I would recommend any of the Premier Racing Institutes races.  They have always done a good job. 

August 24, 2013: Courage to Tri Sprint Tri (Swim 1/3 Mile; Bike 13Miles; Run 3.1 Miles)
Total Time - 1:10:38, 1st a/g, 4th OA female

Swim - 7:25
I came out of the water 3rd in my a/g.  Water was flat and calm.  We did get to see a couple of dolphins at the start which was pretty cool and kind of got everyone to relax a little and smile.

T1 - 4:03
OUCH!  The transition has you running on the pavement that is full of tiny rocks that just hurt my feet so bad.  I was practically tip-toeing to my bike.  I really, really hate races that have the transition in a parking lot that is not feet friendly and then they don't put anything down for even part of the way.  OUCH!  My feet hurt just thinking about it.

Bike - 35:51    
I was 1st in my a/g and 3 OA female on the bike.  This course makes you go over all 3 bridges in Clearwater.  The rest of the ride is basically flat.  I actually had fun on this course.  There wasn't a lot of wind to fight which is what kills me almost as much as sharp turns.  I can tackle hills and bridges just fine, but false flats and wind are awful. 

T2 - 1:21
Again, OUCH!  I came out of my shoes with no socks on and my feet hurt so bad on that stupid pavement. 

Run - 21:55
I was 2nd in my a/g on the run and 5th OA female.  Mary Beth did this race also.  I saw her as I started the run and thought "oh, shit.  Here we go again."  But, this was only 3 miles.  I fought like hell stay ahead of her.  This time I only had about a 2 minute lead on her.  I think she was running close to sub 7 the entire time.  I had an average pace of 7:07.  But, I managed and beat her by 2 seconds!  Can you believe it?  Because I can't. 

Other than that, the run was ok.  The first half mile or so includes running on the beach for a bit in semi-soft sand.  But, after that it's all packed trail and pavement.  Nice and flat with only 2 sharp turns for turn around points. 

Overall - This race was ok.  It was an inaugural race at a course that I train at all the time (Sand Key, Clearwater).  The shirts were unisex so of course I ended up giving my small to Daniel who still has extra room in the shirt.  The awards were generic plaques.  Cool this was that the 1st place winner in each a/g and overall winners were supposed to be given half off discount codes for St. Anthony's.  This has yet to happen.  So, we'll see.  This race was only $50, so eh.  Can't complain too much.

September 1, 2013: Hy-Vee 5150 Championship  -- DNF
So, I flew all the way up to Iowa, paid a ton of money, and did not get to finish this race.  I was using new (new to me) tubular wheels and the seam between the tire and the rim started to come apart causing a small leak starting at exactly race morning.  Of course!  I literally had just ridden my bike the day before and it was fine.  I had my tires pumped race morning.  But, when I went to get on my bike after the swim, it was totally flat.  I was pretty much beyond livid.  I was so mad I couldn't even cry. 
FYI, in case you're ever thinking of travelling to a tri. 
  • If you decide to fly, go with Southwest if you can.  They are the cheapest as far as shipping your bike ($75 each way) but you don't have any baggage fees.  Delta and United have baggage fees (unless you have the premium frequent flyer or business class status) and it's $150 each way to ship your bike. 
  • If you decide to ship it separately, go through FedEx.  They are cheaper than UPS.  Currently, through FedEx, you should create two separate shipping labels instead of doing their "use the same address to create a return label...".  It will force you to have a max insurance of $1000 for the way back.  If you do separate shipping labels, as if they were to completely independent transactions, you can set the max insurance to whatever.  I think it's a programming glitch, but until it's fixed, that's the work around. 
    • Make sure that the width of the box is not over 8 inches.  If it is, the price to ship each way almost doubles. 
    • Try to ship it to a bike shop both ways or at least to a FedEx location nearby.  It is cheaper and there is always someone to sign for the package.
Iowa itself is pretty boring.  The people are nice though.  That's pretty much all I have to say about Iowa. 
I did meet a new girl, Melissa Thompson, that lives in Georgia. She seems nice and a worthy opponent.  We will both be volunteering at IMFL and will probably both do Haines City next year. 

September 29, 2013: Iron Girl Tri (.5 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run)
Total Time - 1:11:43, 1st a/g, 2nd OA female

Swim - 12:49
I came in 2nd in my a/g and 10th OA female.  Not bad for a half mile swim that I swam a little of course a couple of times.  I REALLY hate when I do that!  This swim is in a lake which is nice because the water doesn't taste bad and it's usually pretty flat.  Downside is that lake water is sometimes really dirty. 

T1 - 1:41
I stopped at the kiddie pool to clean off my feet.  I don't know why I did this.  It didn't make a lick of difference except that I wasted time waiting and then cleaning off my feet. 

Bike - 34:45
Like I said before, Central Florida has some hills.  This 12 mile course was hard.  And, of course the steepest hill comes just after you make a turn so you have zero momentum to get up and at the bottom you have to slow down to make another turn so you don't even get a chance to use the downhill speed that you normally get to use to make up the lost time getting up the darn thing.  Rant over.  I feel like half the race was uphill.  All this complaining and I did come in 1st OA on the bike (by 2 seconds).

T2 - :44

Run - 21:44
1st in my a/g and 2nd OA in this.  I missed 1st OA on the run by :11.  And, this was probably the 11 seconds I lost by following someone going the wrong way.  So, I stopped and then had to back track a bit.  Oye!  Oh well, the :11 still wouldn't have gotten me to 1st OA which I lost by 1:24 - 1 minute down on the swim, :10 seconds in each transition.

October 5, 2013: Disney Tower of Terror 10 miler  
Time - 1:19:45, 10th a/g, 40th OA female

This is another night time Disney race.  It starts at 10 PM at Hollywood Studios and finishes in the same place.  You would think Disney races would be pretty easy.  But, they're not.  There is a lot of running on the highway and that means a lot of ups and down on slants with the on/off ramps.  My goal was to do this race at a 7:00 min/mi pace.  Of course, that was when I signed up for it over 6 months ago.  As the race got closer and I realized that wasn't happening, my goal on race day was to not go over 8:00 min/mi.  I did accomplish it.  I would have been closer to 7:45 if I hadn't ended up with a cramped stomach around mile 7.  Those last 3 miles were torturous.  I felt pretty good leading up to that point.  Oh well. 

So, with this race, you get to place in Hollywood Studios until 3 AM after you're done with the race.  I signed up for this race as a motivator for my friend Shannon.  After we were done, Daniel and I were so tired and she was in so much pain (this was her first race over a 5K in at least 4 years) that we just grabbed something to eat and then headed back to the hotel. 

I  hate the shirts that Disney gives out.  The medals are always cool.  Post race recovery drinks and food are ok.  With how expensive Disney races are, I would really expect more.  But, Disney can charge a premium because they are Disney.  Me personally, I am not that much in love with Disney.  So, I do not plan on repeating any of them.  I only did the marathon twice because the first time was part of the Goofy Challenge and the 2nd time was because the course was different (we got to run on the race track) and it was the 20 year anniversary for the marathon.  I may do it one more time as part of the Dopey Challenge.  But, that will have to wait a little while because that is probably going to cost about $450!  So expensive!