Friday, December 27, 2013

Liebster Award

Hello again. I hope everyone had a marvelous Christmas.  I know I enjoyed spending time with family and friends.  I received some awesome new running goodies that I can't wait to use in the upcoming year.  Currently I'm working on my race schedule for 2014.  Hopefully I will be able to post it soon.

Melissa, a fellow blogger over at The Redheaded Runner blog nominated me for a Liebster Award.  Thank you Melissa.

I've looked up this "award" and found out it is a chain letter style award for new bloggers to share some facts about themselves, and at the same time, promote other small bloggers.  A good explanation is here and here. So now onto...

The rules:

Thank the person who nominated you and link them in your post.
Tell 11 random facts about yourself.
Answer the 11 questions provided by the person who nominated you.
Choose 5 or more blogs you like and link them in your post.
Write 11 questions for these bloggers, so they can answer them.
Go to their page and let them know that you nominated them.

So 11 facts...
1. My last name is Polish and forever long (Moczygemba), so I mostly use the name Julie M when commenting on blogs.
2. I learned to spell my name in pre-school when my dad sang it to the tune of the Mickey Mouse song.

3. I'm the youngest of 3 kids, and I love my older brother and sister.
4. I have 24 first cousins.
5. I graduated from Baylor with a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

6. I played varsity tennis in high school.
7. Speaking of high school, I went to one of the largest public high schools in Texas.  My graduating class contained over 1,250 students and graduation was in a former basketball/hockey arena (go Mavs!).
8. I play into the Texas stereotype because my parents own cattle. We don't live on a farm, although they both grew up on one. I love helping feed the cows (& naming them). Say hi to Speckles.

9. I used to play cello (for 4 years!).
10. I love listening to country music.
11. I love traditions and I hate change.  I'm going to make a really good old person.

Now to answers Melissa's questions...
1. Why did you start running?
Gosh, I guess I started running in college to stay in shape.  High school was easy.  I had tennis practice for 2-3 hours every afternoon and could eat whatever I wanted.  In college I realized, I had to make some effort on my own to stay athletic.  I didn't really get hooked until my senior year when I signed up to run a half marathon that Baylor hosts.  After crossing that finish line, I knew I wanted to feel that way again and the obsession began.

2. What motivates you in life?
I'm pretty self-motivated if I have a goal I want to accomplish.  I always strive to be the best, whether it was at school, at work, running.  My family has always been very supportive of everything I do and that motivates me to give it my all.

3. Trails or roads?
Roads. I've only tried trail running once.  It was fun, but there aren't a lot of great parks near me.  I also did not enjoy cleaning the mud off my shoes.  

4. Worst race experience ever and what did you learn from it?
The Burning Pine 5k in Bastrop, TX.  I ran it with my brother, his wife, and her friend.  We all had goal times, but everyone ran about 2 minutes slower than their goal.  I learned that not all race courses are created equal.  This one was very hilly and I walked when I had to.  It also taught me that hill workouts are important and can really improve performance.

5. Pre-race traditions i.e. obsessions 
Nothing too out of the ordinary.  Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo the night before.  I lay out my clothes and bib before I go to sleep.  In the morning I have a pre-race banana and usually a granola bar.

6. Parent to kids or a pet? Do tell. If neither applies WILD Card it, baby!
No.  I had a rat terrier growing up.  Her name was Skeeter.  When I get my own house, I really want to get a dog.

7. What are your thoughts on New Years Resolutions?
I'm not a huge fan.  People usually make a resolution that is either unattainable or so vague that there is no way to know if the goal was actually accomplished.  I like shorter term SMART goals.

8. Tell us about one place you are just dying to visit.
Internationally...Poland and/or Germany.
Domestically....Chicago and Boston.

9. Dream race. Dish.
I really want to do a runDisney race.  I was really close to signing up for the 2013 Wine & Dine half-marathon, but I waited a little too long and the race filled up.  

10.  How do you stay motivated to work out?
Signing up for races is a big motivator.  I also use social media to keep myself accountable, which in turn keeps me motivated.

11. Perfect Friday night.
Dinner out and movie in.  I love snuggling up on the couch in the comfort of my own home.  Movies in the theater are good, but it's so much nicer to watch in a peaceful room without strangers around.

Next, my questions....
1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What is your most memorable race/fitness accomplishment?
3. What is one goal you have for 2014?
4. Name one non-fitness related blog you follow.
5. What activities will be involved on your dream vacation?
6. Did you play any sports growing up?
7. When you were in kindergarten, what did you want to be when you grew up?
8. What is your favorite book?
9. What is your biggest strength?
10. Describe the best date you ever went on.
11. If you could live anywhere in the US, where would you live?

Lastly, my nominees...(all of these bloggers are just awesome)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Run, Run Rudolph

This weekend I ran in The North Texas Great Santa Run.  I love running holiday themed races. Last year I ran the Jingle Bell Run in Dallas.

2012 Jingle Bell Run at the Hilton Anatole Hotel

This year I recruited some friends to dress up like Santa Claus and run a 5k with me.  This was a local race that benefited My Possibilities. Each race entry included a Santa suit, complete with hat and beard.

I was super excited about this event.  Especially after the Dallas Marathon got cancelled, I wanted to get out there and do an event even if it was just for fun.  I chose not to run for time and just paced myself with my friends.  There weren't any chip timers at the event.

Before the start, I was shocked at how many Santas were actually there.  I was expecting a couple hundred, but there were easily over 1,000.  And then this legit Santa came out in his Porsche to lead the race start.

Santa in a Porsche

Right at 9 am, we were off.  It was a little crowded at the beginning and I forgot to start my Garmin on-time, but who cares, I was running in a Santa Suit!!  How many people can say that?  The race had a lot of up one side of the street, run around the median and come back down the other side of the street.  Normally in a race, I don't like this type of course because the scenery gets a little boring.  However, this made it easy to see all of the Santas which was entertaining.

Running around mile 2.5

The Santa suits were made out of felt, not the best material for running. Luckily, none of my friends had major wardrobe malfunctions, but we were looking out for one another.  Finally we reached the finish line at the Dr. Pepper headquarters.  There were a ton of great sponsor tents and even a live cover band.  It was a pretty awesome post-race party with lots of activities for the kids that came to the event.  Food selections came from La Madeline, Egg & I, and Dunkin' Donuts.  All perfect post-race breakfasts.  There was also lots of fruit and snack bars from Trader Joe's.  Overall this was a great event and may become a holiday tradition for me.

The after-race picture

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Race That Never Was

I should be sitting here writing about the great race I just finished or the shiny new PR I just earned. However, North Texas weather had some other ideas.

Shortly after Thanksgiving they began forecasting an Arctic cold front that would bring sleet and ice to DFW. I was immediately bummed that the race would be much colder than I had hoped for, but I also convinced myself that the weather men were exaggerating about the "Icepocalypse/Icemageddon " that wad headed our way. If they had a catchphrase for the storm, it had to be more about media hype.

Well on Thursday the sleet started and I haven't left my house since. The hype was right. Friday morning I woke up and there was a 2 inch layer of ice on all of the sidewalks and roads. Not snow, just slick ice. I chose not to go to work. Everything was shut down because in Texas we do not have the supplies for storms like these.

The front of my house on Friday. Poor Oak Trees

Talk on the news began focusing on the Dallas marathon. Packet pick-up was supposed to begin that Friday but it got pushed back to 2 pm to allow the vendors and volunteers extra time to travel the roads to downtown. The marathon seemed like the only weekend event that hadn't been canceled. Then at 1 pm, the final announcement came. The race and expo were both canceled for safety of runners, spectators, and volunteers.

Of course I was bummed at the initial news. But I also sighed a little sigh of relief that I wouldn't have to run with temperatures in the 20 and light sleet. I know people have run in worse but I was unprepared for such weather having never run outside when it is below freezing.

So now I sit at home. Day 3 of this ice storm and I have yet to leave my house. I'm looking at my 3 months of training that I methodically followed preparing for this race. Now my "taper week" just looks like a week of being lazy. But I've made the decision to get back out there and keep running. I will choose a new race to conquer. And maybe next year I'll have a second chance to run Dallas.

In other news, this storm has been really good for my sleeping patterns.  I am also thankful that my house has not lost power and everyone I know has stayed safe.

And lastly I cannot end my post without this. Sic 'em Bears!  Great season!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Turkey Trot Race Recap

This Thursday, I started my Thanksgiving morning with the 8 mile Capital One Bank Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot. I didn't commit to this race until Tuesday.  I had a number of reasons for my last minute entry.  I was undecided because no one else in my family was going to run it with me.  I hated to inconvenience people on Thanksgiving to go with me to an early morning race all the way in Dallas.  I was worried about the crowds and the parking and had heard some bad reviews from people who have run this trot in the past.  As the date got closer, the weather turned colder.  I asked my brother and boyfriend to come watch me run, but didn't mention the 35 degree weather forecast until after I had convinced them.  After putting all of those excuses aside, I was glad I signed up.

This year, there were two options when signing up - timed or untimed.  Timed runners were eligible to start in a timed runners corral near the starting line. I've heard in the past that serious runners have gotten stuck behind strollers and walkers and been very frustrated.  I opted for the timed option and had to arrive at the race before 8:40 to get in my corral. 

Since I wasn't sure about parking downtown, I insisted we leave the house no later than 7:30.  The race venue was about 30 minutes from home.  We were able to easily find parking, but had to pay $10.  The downtown lots upped the prices since there was an event going on.  I prefer races that offer free parking, but it wasn't a major inconvenience.

After parking, there were lots of volunteers directing runners to the starting line.  Since it was a large race, I expected it to be crowded, but with an hour until the race start, there was plenty of open space.  I was able to snap this picture in front of the starting line.  I bundled up to stay warm before the race started.

Since my brother, sister in law, and boyfriend were all with me, I didn't do a whole lot of exploring.  I did a quick warm-up jog/stretch and then went to take a picture with the inflatable Thanksgiving turkey before taking my place in the corral.

The race started promptly at 9 am.  I felt like I started a little slow.  I was watching my steps since there were a lot of people and scanning the curb for my cheering squad.  After I spotted them, I picked up the speed.  There was a band for entertainment around mile 1.  I didn't hear much of them as I sped past.  Then we made 2 left turns to head down Elm St.  I was surprised at my pace - quicker than expected.  Around mile 2.5, my cheering squad made another appearance.  I was excited my brother brought his DSLR so I could have nice race photos.  I also threw off my gloves to them.  The sun decided to come out and I was getting warm.

I was laughing at #5395 for photo bombing me

At mile 3, the 5k runners took a sharp left turn to their finish line.  From there the race course opened up a bit.  We ran through Dealey Plaza and the Design District.  I was able to see some of the first place runners during a part of the course where the out and back loop was on opposite sides of the median.  I always enjoy seeing the fast runners, it is very inspirational.  At the halfway point, my pace slowed some, but I was okay with that because I started out faster than I expected.  I began getting a little warm.  I was wearing 2 long sleeve shorts, capri length tights and the loose adidas pants.  I made notes for my upcoming half marathon that will likely be similar weather.

The last mile had 2 tough hills - the last one right before the finish line.  I saw my cheering squad for a third time right before the finish line.  I tried to smile but my legs were tired.

I crossed the finish line and my official time was 1:15:46.  I was very happy with my results.  After the finish line, volunteers handed me a water bottle and a banana.  I gobbled down the banana quickly and headed to the meet-up spot that I arranged with my brother and boyfriend.  We snapped a few quick finisher pictures and then headed home for a turkey lunch at my parents' house.

I'm glad I started my Thanksgiving day with a run.  It was the perfect dress rehearsal for my half marathon on December 8th.  Would I do it again?  Maybe.  Definitely if I can find some running buddies to do it with me.  My brother was sad I didn't tell him there was a 5k option.  I told him he has 12 months to train for the 8 mile course.

Anyway, today begins my taper week and then the Dallas Half next Sunday.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Do we have any other trotters out there?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I'm an Elf for Health

After a very lazy weekend with family and a number of weeks without a blog post, I decided to sit down and type up an update.  With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I am finally getting into the holiday mood.  One thing I am determined about is staying healthy through the holidays.  This includes not overeating, not over stressing, and not forgetting to exercise.  I stumbled across a great challenge that is all about staying on track during the holiday season.  And with that I am happy to announce, I am an Elf for Health.

You may have seen the hashtag #elf4health on twitter and been wondering what it is all about.  Well, it is a 4 week challenge hosted by nutritionella and the lean green bean.  These two lovely ladies have put together a list of daily challenges to keep you focused during this extra busy time of year.  They send weekly emails that include that week's challenges as well as tips to be successful.

In addition to these awesome daily challenges, each participant is partnered with an elf buddy to stay accountable and encourage one another.  We just got our elf assignments today.  My buddy's name is Anna and she is also a blogger.  Check out her blog here.

Anyway, I'm super excited to get started tomorrow.  It's not to late to join.  Sign-up here.  You will start receiving the emails and will get assigned an elf for round 2 (weeks 3 & 4).

And because I know I will not blog between now and Thursday, Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November Goals

I went to Macy's this Saturday with my mom.  They were already playing Christmas music over the intercom.  Alas, the holiday season is upon us whether we like it or not.

Before I dive in with my new goals for this month (yes, I know I'm 3 days late), let's review October's goals and see how I did.

October Goals

1. Run a long run each week.  Check.  This was an easy one as my half marathon training is in full swing.
2. Drink less soda.  Epic fail.  I think I'm more addicted than when the month began.
3. Stretch after every workout.  Check.  I've been consciously stretching more.  I only had one bad ache/pain last month in the form of splints last week, but it's already gotten better.
4. Workout my core 2x per week.  Check.  I don't have a six pack, obviously, but I'm happy with my efforts.

Overall not that bad of a month.  I bet you can all guess what goal will be at the top of my list for November.  So here we go, shall we?

November Goals

1. Drink less soda.

I think part of my problem is getting enough sleep, so no more late night blog reading.  I'm going to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night and start my mornings off with green tea if I need an extra boost.  The vending machine and I will be enemies for the next 27 days.

2. Continue smart half marathon training.

My boyfriend pointed out that one week, all of my runs were the same pace.  I need to vary my workouts and take my EZ runs easy and save my speed work for those days.  That way my body can improve.  I read a great blog post this week on how not to race your training run.  Check it out here.

3. Work out my arms at least once a week.

I'm starting small here.  Every time I make a workout schedule for the week, I write down at least one day to focus on arms.  That always ends up being the day I skip my workout because I need to "rest".  Well, it's time to pony up - a few push-ups never killed anyone, so it is time for this girl to get going.

4. Yoga once a week

This goes along with my stretching goal from last month.  Earlier this year, I made a habit of waking up one morning a week and doing a 30 minute yoga flow.  I want to get back to that habit.  One of my favorites is Tara Stiles This is Yoga (4 DVDs).  I also want to check out doyogawithme.  A girl I follow on IG found some great Yoga for Runners videos on the site.

Alright, that's it.  Hopefully I can stay focused this month.  Do you have any good goals for November/pre-holidays?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trek or Treat 5k Race Recap

Happy Halloween!

Last weekend I ran a Halloween 5k.  It was a local race sponsored by Luke's Locker running store called Trek or Treat.  I signed up for this race for 2 reasons.  #1) It was right in my backyard. And #2) I've never done a Halloween themed race.

The race encouraged costumes and of course I wanted to run in a costume.  This was my first time running in a costume so I started searching amazon.  I wanted to keep it simple.  I settled on a Wonderwoman t-shirt with attached cape.  Here is what I looked like race morning.

When I signed up to do this race, I didn't realize that my biggest fan (aka boyfriend) would be basically immobile post-op.  I was kind of bummed he wouldn't be able to come.  This is the first race he wouldn't be at to race me, pace me, or cheer me on.  I would have invited my parents, but alas they were out of town too.  So off to the race I went solo (this is also my excuse for the lack of photos).

I got there a little early.  The weather was looking yucky and it was threatening to rain, but the temperature was a perfect 53 degrees.  After sitting in my car for a while, I went to warm-up.  I did a half mile warm-up and stretched.  Then I went to find the starting line.  There was a kids 1k race before the 5k.  I watched the little ones line up in their costumes....adorable!

Finally it was time to race.  When I looked back, it only seemed about 300 runners or so.  It was a very small race.  I enjoyed seeing everyone who made costumes.  Even some of the top 5 finishers had some fun Halloween gear on.

The race started on roads around the shopping center but quickly changed to a paved trail.  This was perfect for this size race.  There was one point we were on a sidewalk and I had to run in the grass to pass someone.  Other than that, there was plenty of  room.  The race path also crossed itself in 2 places, but for the size of the race, it was never an issue.

My goal pace was 8:30 and I was happy to see timers at the mile 1 and mile 2 markers. I had my handy Garmin 10 strapped to my arm and was happy to see I was keeping my pace.  As I neared the finish line, people started cheering for "Wonderwoman" which made me smile.

I stopped my Garmin as I crossed the finish line and it read 26:33, a new PR by 1 second.

When I looked on the results table, the time said 26:32, but when it was posted online, it said 26:37.  I'm going to go with my Garmin time on this race.  I'm happy with my performance because it gives me confidence that my last race wasn't a fluke and that I really can run that fast (of course both courses were very flat).  I stuck around for the awards after everyone finished.  I'm happy to announce that I got first in my age group (8th female overall).

Adorable Gold Medal

Overall I really enjoyed this race.  I like smaller races as long as they are done professionally.  I know when Luke's Locker sponsors a race it will be done right.  There was even a lot of post-race food: bottled water, apples, oranges, and bananas.  Plus at least 6 sponsor tents that were handing out candy and popcorn for the kids and pamphlets for the adults (plus a little candy).  Brooks sponsored the t-shirts.  They were awesome.

Have you ever run a Halloween race?  Did you wear a costume?  And one last Halloween picture, my pumpkin (the one on the right).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chronic Compartment Syndrome

My favorite running buddy and loving boyfriend is voluntarily going under the knife tomorrow.  About a year ago, he began experiencing extreme calf pain after any races or speed work.  The pain would linger for days, worse than normal soreness.  He stopped racing and began running my pace.  This was very frustrating for someone who was used to running a 20 minute 5k.

Right before the Rave Run - one of his last pain-free races

He began reading books (like this one) and researching on the internet.  He came across a number of stories of athletes (runners and bikers mostly) experiencing the same symptoms.  It turns out there is a condition called Chronic Compartment Syndrome that can affect athletes that participate in repetitive impact sports (ie. running).

Chronic Compartment Syndrome occurs when a muscle expands or swells at a greater rate than allowed by the fascia (sheath of tissue) that surrounds the muscle.  For athletes, this is induced by extreme exercise.  I believe it is most common in the lower leg.  Of course pain in the legs can be caused by a number of things, but for him, this was it.

A few months ago, he had some tests done.  First they took an MRI of his legs.  Then they took pressure measurements of his calves before and after exercise.  This is an invasive test that involves large needles being shoved into your muscles.  He is a brave guy, and I'm glad I wasn't in his shoes.  His pressure measurements were high enough for the doctor to feel with confident that the diagnosis of Compartment Syndrome was correct.

Compartment Syndrome is not something you have to treat.  It is not life threatening and if you change your exercise routine to contain more cross training and less strenuous workouts, the pain will likely fade.  The most successful treatment is surgery.  Incisions are made in the fascia surrounding the compartment to allow the muscles to expand fully.

My boyfriend spent a lot of time discerning whether to do the surgery, but he finally decided that he wants to get back to racing.  That means that early tomorrow I will be taking him to a surgery center to do surgery on his first leg.  Please say some prayers and send some happy thoughts that his surgery goes well tomorrow.

If anyone knows anything about Compartment Syndrome and would like to share, I'm grateful for your comments.  I think a disclaimer goes without saying, I am not a medical professional and probably have a few of the facts wrong.  Please, no criticisms.

And one more picture - the first race he paced me.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Baylor Homecoming

I was going to write a post about running buddies, and that may still happen next week.  Unfortunately I've been distracted all day with my excitement for Baylor Homecoming which is this weekend.  Baylor does it big for homecoming.  There's a bonfire, parade, tailgates, and of course, the main attraction, the football game.  This year Baylor plays Iowa State at 6 pm Thursday.  You should all cheer for Baylor.  Sic 'em!

2007 - Freshman Year Bonfire

2008 - Sophmore Year with my BFF at the Bonfire

2010 - Catholic Student Association Float

2011 - First Homecoming as an alum with my Brother and Sister in Law

I hope you enjoyed a look back.  Now off to Waco.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Training Plan for the Dallas Half

It's official.  I put the finishing touches on my training plan last night.  I unofficially started training for the MetroPCS Dallas (Half) Marathon two weeks ago.  It's about time I wrote down my goals and plans.  My last half was in April and my time was 2:11:23.  I'm hoping to improve my PR by at least 5 minutes, which means my goal pace is going to be 9:40.

Now, for the plan you've all been waiting for.  Drumroll please....ta da!

It is not set in stone.  I almost never stick to a training plan 100% and almost always have a week when I get sick (knock on wood...not this time).  Also I'm a little nervous about doing the 8 mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving so close to my half, so that may turn into a training run or a different 10k.

My focus will be to run 4 times a week and slowly increase my weekly mileage.  I added a tempo run each week so I don't get too comfortable at a 10 minute pace like I tend to do.  Lately my runs have been really fast (for me) and I've felt really good about it.  I am definitely looking forward to this round of training.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October Goals

Since I wandered aimlessly through September, let's start October with some goals.

1. Run a long run (long defined as 5 miles or greater) each week.

I'm so excited to shift my focus back to running.  Training for a tri was great, but I felt like my running was on a back burner.  Now I'm ready to start training for an early winter half marathon.  That means increasing my mileage.  If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed I'm counting my miles with the hashtag #100byHalloween.  This is a challenge sponsored by Tone It Up to get up and get moving this month.  Of course any form of cardio counts for the challenge, but it will keep my running on track.

2. Drink less soda.

I've kicked this habit a couple of times in my life, but I'm back to a daily dose of soda.  My weakness is Dr. Pepper Ten, that stuff is so good!  But after the sweetness and caffeine wears off, I usually feel pretty sluggish.  I want my energy to come from natural sources instead.  I'm hoping to increase my water and tea consumption to help taper down the sodas from one a day, to 2-3 per week by the end of the month.

3. Stretch after every workout.

Last week my calves were sore for 3 days after doing some cardio intervals that included jumping jacks.  I want to prevent injury and feel great.  This means more stretching!  And maybe the occasional foam roller session.  My body will thank me later.

4. Workout my core 2x per week.

When I start a run, I always tell myself that afterwards I'm going to take 5-10 minutes to do core exercises.  Guess what, I usually plop down under a ceiling fan after every run and wait for the sweat to stop pouring out (sorry...TMI).  This month, I want to change that habit and put some effort into building my core strength.  Here are some videos I want to try:

Post Cardio Ab Workout
Ten Minute Yoga Abs
8 Minute Abs  <- This throwback is a favorite of mine.

Happy October!  What are your goals?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Lack of Structure

Since my triathlon, my training has been all over the place.  Here is a list of things that have counted as workouts during the last 3 weeks.

-Dodge Ball
-Solo Runs
-Wiffle Ball
-5k race
-Boot Camp
-Social Run

It's been fun doing different activities each night, but it feels very unstructured.  I have mentioned before that I am a type A personality.  I love schedules, lists, and goals.  Not knowing my workout schedule for each week has been a little weird.

My initial thought was that after my tri, I would take 2 weeks off and then begin training for a fall half marathon.  Things changed because my company is competing in an event called Corporate Challenge.  Companies from all over DFW register to do events in a 2 month long Olympic style event.  Events range from Soccer to Kickball to Bass Fishing.  Since I am athletic and competitive, I have been taking part in a number of events.  There are gender requirements for most events, so the guys can't bring home all the gold by themselves.  I have another post planned, so I won't go into too much detail about Corporate Challenge right now.

Besides Corporate Challenge, I've been keeping up my running, but I've kept my distances short.  I want to start adding long runs back to my weekends.  That leads to my dilemma.  I have not registered for any future races.  I have one friend trying to convince me to do another sprint tri, but I think what I really want to do is fit in a second half marathon for 2013.  I plan on taking some time this weekend to research my race options, commit to a goal, and start putting together a training schedule.

What about you?  Do you stick to a training schedule?  What are your goals?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Blackland Triathlon Recap

I survived!!  I crossed the finish line at the Blackland Sprint Triathlon standing up with a smile on my face.  If you've been following me, you know this was my first attempt at a triathlon event.  Initial thoughts: It went better than expected.

I started getting worried the night before the event.  The Labor Day weather forecast included rain and I never bike or run when it's raining.  Luckily I was able to get some sleep despite my nerves.  The race wasn't scheduled to start until 8:45, so I didn't have to wake up insanely early.  I got to the race site around 7:30 to get marked, and set up my transition area.
It was lightly drizzling while I set up my transition.  I covered my shoes, helmet, and glasses with grocery bags to keep them a little dry.  I was happy the rain brought some relief from the crazy Texas heat we had been experiencing earlier in the weekend.
So Many Bicycles in Transition
The kids' triathlon that was happening before our race had started while I was checking in.  Watching the kids transition from swim to bike was so inspiring.  If they could do this, so could I.  So many of them were hard core too.  While watching, I figured out that the kids' race had gotten a late start due to lightening.  The race director updated social media to state that the Sprint Tri would also be delayed slightly.
I wandered down to the pool around 8:30.  I immediately ran into a friend who encouraged me to jump in the pool and warm-up.  I'm so glad I did because getting in the water and swimming made me feel so much calmer.  After I warmed up I talked to my friend some more and then stood with my boyfriend while we waited for the pre-race meeting.  I eventually spotted my parents who came to watch and waved to them.  At last it was time to line up!  Seeing 450 people wrap around a pool is pretty crazy.  We sang the National Anthem and then Swimmer #1 was ready to hop in. 
I had to wait for 130 people to start before it was my turn.  It went pretty fast though since they started a new swimmer about once every 10 seconds.  I passed the time by making small talk with 2 people nearby me in line.  We discussed how we trained and both were very surprised to hear it was my first tri.  I must have looked professional (just kidding...).  The girl even gave me some tips for the swim and for future triathlons.  Thanks #133!
Finally I was up.  I jumped in and began swimming.  I was so excited that I took off too fast.  I was ready to pass the girl in front of me but couldn't do it.  About 100 meters later I was dropping back and people were passing me.  The water was more choppy than I expected.  I guess with 10 people in each lap lane I shouldn't have been surprised.  I also had to remember to look in front of me so I didn't run into anyone.  I didn't practice this.  I stopped once at a wall to catch my breath for a second.
Lap #1
Getting out of the pool was a relief.  That portion was harder than I expected.  I ripped off my swim cap and goggles immediately and began running up the ramp to the transition area.  Outside, the ground was still wet.  I got to my stuff and tossed the wet grocery bags aside as I slipped on my helmet and shoes.  I took a second to drink a sip of water before grabbing my bike and running off to the bike mount line.
The bike course was made up of two 7.5 mile loops.  As I started loop #1, I felt small rain drops stinging my face as I gained speed.  I was not excited about the rain, but happy I was riding my old mountain bike instead of a road bike with slick tires.  During the first lap I got passed a number of times.  The bikes that were passing me were super speedy and when I looked at their race numbers, I realized, these were the people that would be placing in the top 10. 
There were two tough hills on the course, but luckily I practiced these during my training.  I was surprised with my biking performance.  I was able to wear my Garmin Forerunner 10 and when I glanced down every mile, my pace was way faster than any training ride.  When I was approaching the end of lap 1, I started to get really excited because I realized that that first lap took less than half an hour, which meant I could finish the bike portion of my race in less than an hour.  This was my goal, but after my last two training rides, I thought I would be a few minutes over an hour.
Happy Biker at the Halfway Point
Lap 2 was uneventful and went by fast.  Before I knew it, I was racking my bike and throwing my helmet down.  I was ready to run.  I had planned to wear a hat on my run, but since it was soaking wet and the clouds were still out, I went without it.  I ended up abandoning my sunglasses on my run too because they were so dirty from the rain.  Luckily a nice spectator picked them up for me (Thanks Mom!).
Right after the mile 1 marker and water station, my parents and boyfriend were in the median cheering.  They told me my friend was right ahead of me, which gave me motivation to speed up and catch her.  My legs had adjusted to running at this point and I wanted to be done.  This gave me enough fuel to keep running along.  Around the 2 mile mark, my friend was in sight.  There was a turn around point ahead, so when she was running back in my direction I told her I was going to pass her.  This was a perfect mental motivator for me.  I ended up passing her about a quarter mile from the end.  Her family and friends cheered for me too as I ran by them.
Thumbs up Running Along
The end of this race was really cool.  There were a few quick turns so I couldn't see the finish line.  I normally don't like that, but there were lots of volunteers to point the way.  Finally after the last turn I saw the finish line and a huge crowd of people in an amphitheater.  It was so cool! I felt like everyone was watching and cheering for me (even though only 3 people there knew me).  And with that, I was finished!!!  It felt so great to be done.
The finish line and my adoring fans ;)
I celebrated with a Chick-fil-a sandwich and a St. Arnold's beer, both provided by race sponsors.  I spent a lot of time visiting with Daniel and my parents before heading back to pick up my gear.  I also got to congratulate my friend on her finish.  She was a part of a relay team, but did the swim and run portions.  She also expressed how proud she was of me for finishing my first triathlon.  I couldn't disagree, I was proud of me too.
Official Result - 1:38:29
Final thoughts: The swim was harder than I expected, but both my bike and run went better than I expected.  Would I do it again?  Probably.  Would I do a longer distance? Definitely not in the near future. Did I have fun?  YES!
Until next time...I will be Running Along.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Last Minute Triathlon Thoughts

I'm overdue for a blog update.  But let's not linger on my lack of dedication to writing blog posts.  The real important thing to talk about is how my first triathlon will be happening in 2 DAYS!!!  On Monday morning, I will be waking up to swim, bike, and run for the first time ever.  WOAH!

I am beginning to feel really nervous, but at the same time I feel ready.  I've done a lot of blog (and book) reading and feel like I know what to expect.  To cement this feeling of knowing what to expect, I attended a free Transition Clinic hosted by a local training company at the race site today.  TriNow Endurance had a coach come and show us how to set up your transition area and what to bring on race day.

When the feeling of nervousness starts creeping up, I have to remember to trust in my training.  Here is a little recap of the last 3 months.

This doesn't include the dozen or so spin classes I've attended either. I know I'm ready to complete my first sprint tri.  Hopefully the feelings of preparedness continue to trump my feelings of anxiety.

I can't wait to share a race recap with you guys.  Here is a list of some of the beginner triathlon resources I've found helpful.

Karena's Race Day Gear Checklist - ToneItUp

A First Triathlon View - Through Heather's Looking Glass

USAT Most Violated Rules

Triathlon Transitions - Tri-Newbies

Monday, July 29, 2013

Listen To Your Body

This weekend, Daniel gave me the biggest compliment.  He said, "You are really good at listening to your body."  It came up as we were doing speed work at the track.  I was killing it, and he noticed.  I was running faster than the pace he set for me on my repeat 800s which almost never happens.  I told him that I was feeling really good that day, so I was pushing myself.

Rewind 24 hours to Friday and I felt terrible.  Everything in my body ached.  My glutes were sore, my foot hurt, my calves were tight...the list went on.  There was a swim on my workout schedule, but I decided to take the afternoon and get a massage instead.  I went to Texas Sports Massage where the owner worked on my lower body.  Then she stretched my lower back which resulted in a loud "pop" and then everything felt better again.  She explained that because my back was misaligned, my glutes were compensating.  If I had kept working out, it may have taken much longer to feel better.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I base a lot of my workouts on how I feel that day, and I credit that to staying injury-free.  I'm not saying I give into my body when it wants to sit on the couch instead of going to the gym, but once I get going I push myself just hard enough that I won't need to take a day off the next day.

Last Wednesday I had a 50 minute run scheduled.  I laced up and took off at a very early time in the morning.  My pace after mile 1 was just over 11 min/mile.  This wasn't the pace I wanted, but I also knew I didn't want to quit my run early.  I continued jogging along at my slower than normal pace and finished that 50 minute run (my longest run in over 2 months).  Afterwards I felt like I'd given a good effort level, and I knew that my next long run would be even faster.

Do you listen to your body and take care of it to prevent injury?

My goal for injury prevention this next month is more stretching.  I don't do enough to cooldown and recover post-workout.

Monday, July 22, 2013

My First Brick Workout: Thoughts

Sunday was my first Brick Workout for my triathlon training.  In case you don't know what a brick workout is, I rode my bike for 1 hour and then immediately hopped off and started running for 10 minutes.  It helps triathletes get used to a transition between 2 different sports where your muscles are used in different ways.

Before I started, I figured this would not be a big deal.  My legs may be a little tired from the bike ride, but running would come naturally.  Boy was I wrong!!

I parked my bike in the garage after 13.28 miles, took off my helmet, and headed out for a run.  It was my first time running in biking shorts, so I felt a little funny, but hey! no chafing...I'm a fan.

As I left out of my garage my legs felt so heavy and every step felt like it was the loudest, hardest footfall of my running career.  My legs felt like Jell-O and I was positive I was moving in slow motion.  Plus, by this time in the morning it was getting hot!  I thought of cutting my run short, but told myself to keep moving.

Around the half mile mark, my stride started to feel more comfortable.  At that point, I was running from shade tree to shade tree for some relief from the heat.  I don't think it was my best running form, but we can't win them all.  I glanced down at my watch and was pleasantly surprised that I was under 10:00 pace.  I wrapped my run up and was so happy.  I could not stop smiling and bragging for hours about my awesome workout.

I actually started at a faster pace than I finished.

Post-brick thoughts: I'm really glad I still have 6 weeks of training left.  After my experience Sunday, I think the triathlon is going to be more challenging than I originally thought.  I definitely want to do more brick workouts and also practice the swim to bike transition.

And a bonus.  One of my race pictures from last weekend.  I haven't ordered it yet, but Glover Sports Photography posted proofs.