Tag Archives: AG Nationals

Raced First Tri of the Season

This past Saturday I competed in my first race of the 2012 season: an Olympic Distance triathlon called Rumpus in Bumpass.  It’s not that big of a deal because it’s my “warm up” race – also known as a “B” race.  (Hawaii 70.3 and National’s are my A races.)  My main goal was to remind myself of everything I need to do before, during and after a race; focus on going through the motions.  I was not looking to PR.  Therefore I wouldn’t go all out.

On our way over MLH asked if I was nervous about this race.  I thought about it and I wasn’t at all.  I felt a little odd about this because I believe at the very least a few butterflies should be in my stomach for every race.  After all there’s always the big element of the unknown such as:   Will I finish? Will I have a flat? Will I cramp?  Did I fuel my body with the right nutrients?  What will be my splits?  Will I PR?  How well will I perform?  Did I forget to pack something?  And so on, and so on.  But I wasn’t worried about any of this.  Obviously the main reason is Rumpus is a warm up for me.

I think there’s another reason though – my confidence and state of mind and heart.  After Noah passed away, I tried to return to triathlons.  During the 2011 season, I wasn’t sure if I would be successful with training for and actually completing them, especially given how fresh my grief was.  With my relatively strong performance at Nation’s which is an olympic distance, I decided I have successfully returned to triathlons.  And with the season, already my training has my weekly mileage well above that of an olympic distance (which usually consists of a 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike and 10 km run).  Barring any major accidents, I knew I would finish Rumpus.

Mentally I was more than ready as well.  Before heading out to Bumpass I visualized this race.  From previous experience I knew exactly when I’d need to fuel and how much I’d need to hydrate.  I knew how I’d keep myself in check so I don’t push too hard – keep the heart rate within a certain low range the entire time.  Also I was very comfortable staying focused on racing MY race and nobody else’s – not the 45-year-old who passes me on his much nicer, more sophisticated Felt bike, not the young 24-year-old woman who leaves me in the dust on the run.

And my heart for this race was ready because I knew Noah was with me, and I found tremendous comfort from this.  I very strongly felt his presence during different times on the course.  I thought of him as I looked up from the 63 degree water during the swim and saw a beautiful blue sky.  I felt a sense of peace as I swam by each buoy.  I kept thinking of him and his time in the hospital as I began cramping on the bike and yearning to stop for the bathroom. (With the race starting at 10 am, much later than usual, I think I over hydrated in the morning.)  I smiled big time as I thought of him during the run.  I felt really strong and genuinely happy again.  Perhaps he was running right next to me!

As I passed one gentlemen in particular, he yelled out, “good job,” and I responded, “just livin’ the dream.”  Yes, I fully admit that’s a cheesy thing to say but it’s true, isn’t it?  I mean life isn’t fair, and tragedies knock us down hard.  I’ve yet to feel like I can fully stand back up after losing Noah.  But I’m very grateful that I can connect with him through my triathlons and honor him by training and racing.  I think I’m beginning to realize, as twisted as it is, how blessed I am to be able to compete in such races and dedicate all of this to Noah.

My times and rankings for Rumpus are very average.  The competitive side of me is actually ok with this except for the swim.  I admit I wanted to see a little improvement in the water given how much I’ve focused on my stroke this year already but I barely shaved off a minute.  Oh well.

I did identify some areas I can improve on in terms of logistics and transitions, and I want to experiment with some of my gear and nutrition between now and Hawaii.  With that, I’ll consider this B race a success.

Thank you, Noah, for racing with me on Saturday.

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What a Difference a Week Makes!

With my six mile run today I completed my first training week using Pete’s online coaching plan.  It may sound a little funny but already I feel very different.  I’ll go ahead and acknowledge the placebo effect is probably at play.   Something along the lines of “oh wow I’m now doing something different so I must experience a change.”  Placebo effect or not, I’m not sure it matters.  The fact that I feel different is good enough for me.

I wrote in my last post that I rarely did a full cardio segment and a complete strength training session back-to-back.  Well a few days after writing that post I pulled out my training plan for Nation’s (which I created myself).  I have a correction to make:  I did in fact do such workouts (also known as two-a-days) early in my training and quite often. I can blame bad memory for thinking two-a-days are new to me but I think there’s something more to it.  For some reason I felt my two-a-days this past week were…well different.  They were much longer and more intense than what I did for Nation’s.  Also, I’m sure since Pete planned them they’re better structured than what I put together.  And there’s the placebo effect.

During this past week’s training sessions I felt solid.  I did struggle some on the bike, specifically with keeping my RPMs and heart rate at the desired levels.  Also the last five miles of my 30 mile ride yesterday was by no means easy.  (And as mentioned before I did have to push it a bit with the weights.)  However I felt pretty good right to the end.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely worked hard this week but I never felt like I couldn’t finish.  I do realize Pete’s current focus is on base building so I anticipate my workouts becoming much more difficult very soon.

Anyway back to this difference – or really differences.  What are these differences, you ask?  I feel like I’ve taken my training up a level already and I feel more confident.  I think I was a little anxious about not being able to follow Pete’s plan.  Well I did and while I experienced some challenging moments, I completed each session strongly.   I feel more focused.  A lot of this has to do with the need to keep track of my drills during each workout.  But also I’m zeroing in on my very specific goals which are to successfully complete Hawaii 70.3 and improve my splits at Nationals.  With each successful workout my body moves closer to being ready to compete.

I do feel one other major difference but I don’t think Pete’s plan has anything to do with it; I think it’s just a coincidence…or perhaps not.

Over the past week my connection with Noah became much deeper and different.  Outside of training, I think of Noah a lot. Sometimes he’s in-and-out of my mind very quickly and other times I spend quite a bit of time thinking and recalling vivid images of him in my head.  When I train though I believe how I think of him is different from this.

Last May I began feeling a very deep connection with Noah as I became much more aware and grateful that my heart could easily handle my endurance training and I could process the oxygen needed during these workouts.   When I feel or see (on my heart rate monitor) my heart rate climbing and hitting 60-85% effort, it’s almost as if I’m raising it for him.  When I feel my breathing becoming labored, I think of the ventilators he was on and I feel as though I’m breathing extra hard for him.  And it’s the stark and unfair contrast between what I and any other healthy body can do seamlessly with what Noah struggled with all of the time.  It’s this appreciation combined with sadness and a little bit of bitterness (yes still) that helps me dig deeper to find that determination and power to push myself harder, faster and longer.

During my workouts this past week though I’ve started feeling a different kind of deep connection to my son.  I now feel his presence almost constantly and this feeling is definitely different than my “non-training day-to-day” thoughts of him.  During my training, talking to or thinking of Noah is like second nature now.  It’s like at some other level I’m having a constant dialog with him as I swim, run and bike.  I’d like to think he and I’ve gotten used to training together, and our routine has him with me all of the time.  I’ve been thinking about how best to describe this and I’ve come up with “endurance consciousness.”

I continue to push myself to achieve 60-85% of my maximum heart rate (depending on the drill) and reach that labored breathing because there’s that connection I still have with him.  But now I have another one.  I’m so grateful for both.

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On a somewhat separate note, please pause for a moment to pray for or send positive thoughts to the parents of a little Heterotaxy boy named William.  After fighting super hard, he became an angel last Thursday.

It’s probably no surprise to you that I spent my first mile on my run today thinking of William and his parents.  I found myself welling up a bit when I thought about what his parents are experiencing right now.  Nobody should have to deal with losing a child.

Noah now has another friend in heaven.  God bless you, William.

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First Coached Workout

My workout this morning was the first one using my online coach’s plan.  (No official training on Mondays since Pete uses them for rest days.)  With the exception of a couple of drills, the workout wasn’t very challenging because Pete is focused on building a strong base for now.

I biked for an hour, ran two miles and then lifted weights.  Pete gave me specific drills to complete during the cardio segments.  This was a bit different from what I’m used to because I usually don’t focus on drills – bad, I know.  And I rarely combine a major cardio effort with an entirely separate strength training segment.  I was tired after biking and running so I had to really push myself with the weights.  Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed today’s session.

I actually feel like training for Hawaii 70.3 and Nationals has officially begun.  What a fantastic feeling!

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December: My Most Intense Roller Coaster Ride Yet

About two weeks ago I began firming up my 2012 triathlon season.  My key races will be Ironman 70.3 Hawaii in June and USA Triathlon (USAT) Age Group (AG) Nationals in August.  (As a warm up for Hawaii I’ll compete in at least one other race earlier in the season.)  I’m really excited about both races.  Hawaii will be my first Half Ironman, and for the first time I qualified for AG Nationals.

I now have two concrete goals.  To achieve my goals I have to create a plan.  I’m so much more productive when I map out how I’ll achieve a goal.  For December I’m focused on building a strong base so I can really push myself when I officially begin my Half Ironman training.  (I’m also focused on creating the Half Ironman training program, itself.)  I’m now running 16 miles a week and spending 45 minutes in the spin studio a couple times a week.  I’m also doing strength training 3 times a week.  I’m feeling stronger every day.  That is until this past Sunday, December 25th, when I twisted my ankle.

A few weeks ago, MLH and I decided not to celebrate Christmas.  We spent our previous Christmas with Noah in the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU).  We actually have relatively fond memories of that time because Noah was doing well then.  However, dealing with Noah’s first birthday, knowing we’d celebrate Christmas without him and feeling the date of his death quickly approaching, I became increasingly anxious, upset and sad as Christmas grew closer and closer.  So after obtaining advice from a grief support group, we made the decision to skip Christmas this year.  On December 25th, we went for a long run outside instead. Well right when MLH and I hit our turnaround point a couple cyclists caught me off guard by passing us and I fell and twisted my ankle.

Now I’m trying to stay off my feet so the ankle can heal.  I haven’t worked out in 3 days and probably won’t be able to do any training for the rest of the week.

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