Ironman Countdown

Friday, April 17, 2015

Taking Time and Making Time

It is no secret, at least if you have been reading any of my prior ramblings, that I do not consider myself a biker or cyclist.  Up until recently, I basically didn't touch my bike until I had a race to do.  I did spin class and some trainer stuff, but I never took care of my bike.  I'd bring her in to the local shop for tune-ups, etc.  But I had a very hands off relationship with Marney

Over the past several months, I have been working hard to remedy that.  I know that in order to ride 112 miles in October with a calm mind, I need to be one with my bike.   I also know that I need to make the bike a priority.  I desperately need to take the time to learn about my bike and its components, and make the time to get in the training.

And guess what?  It's happening!  I have made great strides overcoming my general "fear" of the bike, and I've really been logging the miles on it too, even if only in trainer mode while watching Netflix.

I've been practicing changing flats, and have gotten pretty quick at it.  I adjusted my own aerobars too.  I can even get air in the tires now without letting all the air out first... those bike air pumps can be tricky!

And, last weekend I went for my first outdoor ride of the season, logging 30 miles with two new biking buddies Jack and Chris.  I was actually nervous the night before, as both guys have been biking longer than me and done a century ride.... I just didn't want to slow them down any.  And I am happy to say I kept up, or at least seemed to.  I had a lot of fun too; definitely much more entertaining to ride with other people. 

At the tail end of the ride, I had my first self-induced crash.  I panicked into a "stop short" braking situation which, when your feet are clipped into pedals, basically launches you and your bike to pitch forward.  I landed hard on my left side, mainly on my elbow-to-forearm area, and my gear shift slammed onto the street, pinning my left hand between the two.   I was not hurt badly at all, just minor bumps and bruises (and I know I'm lucky I didn't break anything!)... but I was a little freaked out that I landed in the middle of the road!   Thankfully no cars were there at that moment in time, and I learned an important lesson about braking and clipped-in shoes!

As I was with two guys, I had about 20 seconds to leap back up to my feet and shake it off... boys don't offer sympathy, especially if there are no protruding bones or blood gushing.   I  laughed it off, and said I was fine.  I hopped back on and, when the boys weren't looking, rubbed my arm back and forth to dull the pain.  Man it hurt!  And my left gear shift was completely bent inwards.

When I got home, after a beautiful 55 degree morning ride, I wiped my bike down and greased the chain.  I have never ever put that kind of "care" into this before.  And, I figured out how to fix the bent gear shift ALL BY MYSELF!  I was so very proud. 

While I have your attention, I may as well throw this out there:  please, if you are driving and are coming up on a biker, keep three feet between you and them.  That biker might be me, or anyone like me... a parent, someone's sister, someone's wife, a friend... its not worth saving yourself a few measly seconds to rush going around that biker or not taking precautions. "Three Feet" also happens to be the law... so... there's that.  And yes, I know when you are driving, bikers can be annoying, and sometimes we seem to veer towards you or whatever... but you the driver are the one protected and you won't be injured if there's impact.  So be careful and take care of us, please.

As I write this last part, I am looking out my window from my office on a beautiful 68 degree afternoon, knowing I am leaving a few hours early so I can go ride.  And I'm excited about it!

Like anything new or out of our comfort zone, taking the time to get familiar with the unfamiliar, and making the time to prioritize it, greatly alleviates the anxiety and worry.   Alright well, I have to go... this gorgeous day won't be here forever!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

B&A Trail Half Marathon Race Report, and other ramblings

This past Saturday, March 28, 2015, I participated in the B&A (Baltimore/Annapolis)Trail Half Marathon in Severna Park.  It was a cold, crisp, bright and clear morning.  And I am thrilled to provide the spoiler that I found my "happy place" early on... and by that I mean I was able to simply enjoy the run, the feeling of running, of being out in the world and of being able to appreciate all that I have.   It was a good day.
starting line with a gorgeous sunrise

Shamrock Half, VA Beach
I was supposed to take on the Shamrock Half Marathon last weekend in Virginia Beach with a girlfriend, but due to complications with her work schedule, we opted to defer our entry til 2016.  We did the Shamrock last year and had the most fun; I also PR'd (personal record or best time, in case this is a new term for you) by 12 minutes so that was a total joy.  I broke 2 hours for the first time, and went 1:55.04.  But, last year I also trained specially for that race:  I rested and planned my runs on the weekends around getting a solid half marathon time.  I approached the start line in that race, knowing full well that I was faster than I had been a year ago, and would be able to run a smarter race.

This year, since my  main focus is the Eagleman 70.3 in June, and IMMD, I did not cut back on my other workouts of biking and swimming.  Biking, as previously mentioned, is my "weakest link" so I have been trying really hard to get in three solid bike sessions a week, and squeak in a fourth if time allows.  So, I biked in the morning on Thursday, but took it easy with a mild three mile run in the afternoon.  Then I swam 3500 yards Friday  night; and on Saturday I biked on the trainer for an hour and a half.
pondering after Friday's swim
(selfies are so silly)

Julia and I went down to the packet pickup Saturday to get my race number.  We had fun looking at the few vendors that were there, and she enjoyed snacking on the free Power Bar samples.  I even picked up a super cute new running skirt that had a crab pattern on it!
holding Mamma's number

I went into Sunday morning just wanting to see what I could do, wanting to break 2 hours again, and feel strong... even split each mile.  I didn't go with anyone, and this particular paved trail can be pretty solitary... no spectators and lots of wooded areas.

The race started and ended at Severna Park High School; a great hub as there are plenty of restrooms, and they have food and coffee afterwards in the school cafeteria.  Starting temperature was about 25 degrees, so I had on layers, hat, and gloves.
very chilly!

had "my girls" (SBMAT) with me, my beads that Jack
made me, and my mantra bracelet

The race headed south towards Annapolis.  The B&A is paved, flat, and basically tree lined in this portion of it, through southern Severna Park.  The scenery doesn't change much and, because I was basically running through a suburban neighborhood at 7:30 in the morning, there's no crowd support or anything like that.  Its a solitary run.  I do most of my runs by myself so it doesn't bother me so much.

I managed to keep even splits for each mile, just about.  I felt strong and was excited to see I was holding 8:50ish/mile with ease for the first half.   My plan was to keep it steady until Mile 10, then start to drop the hammer little by little and see what I could pull off for the last three miles.  All was going to plan beautifully. 

When I got to Mile 12, and, WARNING, this is a bit of an over-share, I suddenly had to pee.  And not like I had to pee, like your bladder is full... but have to pee like how women who have had children have to pee out of nowhere when there is stress on their body (sneeze, hard laughter).  This has never happened in a long run before, and I literally had to stop for a minute and figure out what was happening.  I got a little pissy (pun intended, sorry Mom) at that point as I was trying to walk a few steps to literally pull myself together, because I knew I was so close to hitting my PR.  But I wasn't willing to "let it all go," so to speak.  (See what I did there?  Yellow!  Like pee!)  So after about 20 or 30 seconds, I started running again and almost managed to catch back up to the girl I had been "following" and intending to pick off at the end.

Final time:  1:55.22.  Average 8:49/mile.  Place 196/596 overall.
count it!  new bling!

Just 15 seconds off my PR.  So without resting, or true focus on that race, I was pretty happy with that finish.  And it was a nice confidence boost!

The half marathon is definitely my favorite distance because its a challenge but it doesn't require as much training and it doesn't tear up my body the way a marathon does.  Well, except for the spontaneous pee thing... hahahaha! 

The B&A is a great place to run in general.  The Half Marathon is a nice small hometown race.  The after-race food and such was very nice, with places to sit and relax.  But if you are a big crowd runner, and you like fans and supporters, this is not your race.  It is solitary, and you are in your own head for the whole thing.  But it is pretty and flat, and a very well done race. 

Other than that, I filled up March with some long runs with Tricia, and battled the ever changing spring weather that is Maryland:  60 degrees one day; 5 inches of snow the next. 

Tricia, and CP, on a 62 degrees, snow melting, 9 miler

one week later, running 12 in snow and ice, 28 degrees

another week later, 70 degree 3 miler with my girl

I missed one swim due to illness, and have continued to make biking a priority.  The bike is still on a trainer, as it has only just finally gotten warm enough to possibly take it on the road.  I hope to do that this weekend.  So glad that spring has sprung!  Wishing you all good weather, Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring!