Thursday, March 1, 2012

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

And then there were hills....

Saturday 2/25:

Holy cow!! This past Saturday felt like training truly started. We were up early (6am-ish) and out the door by 7am.

Up first, a 45-60min swim in the 'bubble'. (At Burgess aquatic center they have two pools, one of which is covered in the winter months - the Bubble!) When it is cold outside and you walk into the bubble, it is awesome...nice and warm. As we started our 500yd warm up, I found myself having a hard time breathing. I would stop, catch my breath, and then continue. It was weird though...almost felt like my asthma was acting up. I soon came to realize this too was one of the affects of being in the bubble. The hot steamy air makes it more difficult to breathe. We soon finished the warm up and were on to drills. First, 6x50yd - kicking, 6x50yd - kicking/side roll followed by, 6x50yd - thumb to thigh, 6x50yd - fingertip drag. Next our main set was to do 4x100yd in 2:30ea. If you finished under 2:30min for one 100yd you got to rest, if not you kept going. WHOA!!! The idea here is consistency...or on the marathon team, we called it pacing. Same concept! After, we finished the main set, we had another drill 2x50 with the "leg float thing" (don't know the name). With swimming you want to get the majority of your power from your upper body, so this drill helps you work on the efficiency of your stroke. To wrap up our down.

In between the swim and bike much goes on - quick shower to get that chlorine like smell off you, change (which is more difficult than one might think...spandex and damp bodies don't mix), get your bike/gear all ready, have a snack, double check to make sure you haven't forgotten anything, remind yourself of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society's (LLS) mission and why you are up at the 'butt crack' of dawn doing this craziness. :o)

Bike time!! This week our goal: 27mi. The first 1/3 of the ride was pretty flat overall. Once we turned onto Arastradero there was a gradual incline for a few miles. We eventually made a turn into the neighborhoods behind Foothill College. This is when the hill training happened. Holy moly! We went up and down and up and down for a hour. One hill in particular (Altamont Rd) is the absolute hardest...for this ride. In the latter part of last season we rode this hill a couple of times and I wasn't able to make it up the whole thing. Saturday, I thought "I am going to do this". I started out doing great - slow and steady, legs spinning. However, unfortunately I had to walk, BUT I got farther up the hill than ever before. WOOT!! Only one person in our riding group made it all the way hubby, YAY!!! So proud of us! Then we turned around and did the same course back in reverse. ;o)

Needless to say...we were beat! A very challenging ride for this early in the season and yet we all were proud of the outcome, welcoming the early hill training.

Don't forget...I am fund raising - help me fight cancer: Swim, Bike, Run....Go Get it Done Dena!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Refelction & A New Season...A New Goal

My 10th season with Team in Training has officially begun...WOW!!

I have chosen to train on the triathlon team once again and have set a goal to complete the Olympic distance (.9mi swim, 26mi bike, & 6.2mi run) tri at Wildflower.

Each season with TNT offers me new challenges. My last Tri season, while i didn't know it at the time, presented me with the challenge of nutrition. The unfortunate part of this was I didn't figure it out until race day. I haven't talked much about my race from the Long Course at Wildflower. But why not talk about it, right?! I accomplished many things last season...and this one day shouldn't take that all away from me. So here we go....

Race day was a BIG bag of emotions (some I am still feeling as I type). I was nervous to ride down the hill with this huge tri bag on my back, I was scared to miss my start time, I was anxious to just go and get it done, and I was scared I wasn't going to finish. I felt butterflies in all forms and sizes in my tummy. Once down the hill safely, we all found our place to set up our transition area. I took all my gear out and set everything up according to plan. Then I had time to eat, put sunscreen on, see if my friends and teammates needed help, and check in with Brian. It was an amazing site to see. Hundreds of athletes of all different ages, shapes, and sizes with all different types of gear. One guy did the bike course with a "travel" bike (the kind that fold up). I was in awe and couldn't believe what I was about to set out to complete. Soon it was time...I put on my wet suit, grabbed my cap and goggles, and made my way to the swim start. I saw my coaches and other teammates cheering us all on - giving us inspiration and motivation. It felt awesome!!!

As a side note: all season I was most nervous about the swim - open water swimming threw me into panic mode. We had four additional open water trainings which helped build my confidence.

It's swim time!! The water was perfect temperature, but choppy. Overall there is not much to say about the was pretty good. I kept myself calm, tried to get into a rhythm, and worked as best as I could with the choppy waters. I didn't get kicked, elbowed, or punched in the face - it was a GOOD swim! I finished my swim in 1:05hr...under the cut off, Phew!! I FINISHED THE SWIM.....holy crap!!!

After getting out of the water, I ran to take my wetsuit off and head out on the bike. Once on the bike, I worked on getting myself mentally ready for 56 miles and many hours in that saddle. I was fairly certain that I wasn't going to make the bike cut off, but confident that I WOULD finish this race regardless. I was determine. After getting to the main road heading out of the park, I was greeted with a head wind...yay, NOT! It was also starting to warm up...sweet, NOT! If you remember last winter/spring was a wet and cold one. We did not have the opportunity to train in warm weather, nor do I remember having a head wind like the one I was currently facing in the race.

The first 35 miles or so went pretty well - aside from the head wind becoming a side wind and almost getting blown off my bike - I was feeling good, drinking a lot and eating when I thought I needed to. I was heading toward Nasty Grade hill (the longest and steepest) to complete the climb that most worry about. I was feeling ready for this climb. Prior to reaching the base, a coach found me. I needed to get water. During my quick stop he informed me I was not going to make the bike cut off, but that he and another coach would help me continue to the run. Since I had already mentally planned for this I was fine with the news. After reaching the top of the hill I stopped to use the restroom....but nothing. Hmmm. That isn't good, wth?? I was drinking boat loads, there should be something. At that moment, what spirit I had left was dwindling quickly. My stomach hurt and I was thirsty but couldn't drink. I was so upset and still had ~15 miles to go. I had to find a way to make it back....I thought about Brian, our honorees and their journeys, my goals, and not wanting to fail or disappoint all my donators, family or friends.

My coaches helped support me back to the transition area. THEY WERE AWESOME!!! Upon entering transition, the volunteer took my timing chip and said "I'm sorry, but you are not able to continue." I broke down insistently, sobbing. While they were taking about me not making the time cut off, for me they were saying what I was thinking but didn't want to be true - I am dehydrated and still need to run 13.1 am I going to do that? should I do that? is it safe? I am a failure if i don't...but I can't - the smart choice is to not continue. No!

And that is the choice I made - the smart one - to stop after the bike and call it a day. Almost 8hrs after setting out in this journey, I did not have another 3+ hrs available to finish the run. I couldn't eat or drink and what I had already eaten and drunk was not giving me the nourishment I needed them to give.

Needless to say it was heart wrenching. I cried, sobbed even and when I stopped, I started again. I was completely disappointed with myself. I worked SO hard and I felt like I let so many people down - people who had donated, who cheered for me & spent extra time helping me, our honorees, and those who unconditionally supported me.

On the plus side, I was able to run with Brian across the finish line as he finished his race. I am so proud of him!! The following week one of the coaches who rode with me during the final miles on the bike handmade a 'metal' for is perfect. :o)

This was my first race that I did not complete. I still have some of those feelings and a tear or two when I remember that day. Although last season's disappointment, makes for this season's strengths and last season's accomplishments (yes, there were many), make for this season's confidence. I am ready and can't wait!!! Onward and upward...and all the stuff. ;o)

Through all the tears I have shed, I have also been able to look back and say, "Wow, I swam 1.2mi in open water and I didn't freak out!!" and "I was able to train longer and harder than I ever had before week after week."

I am very proud of all the things I did last season and still have the goal to finish a half Ironman distance triathlon!! I WILL do it!

This season's challenge - nutrition. I must get my nutrition right. Whether it is by time or distance, I am setting out to figure out when to eat, how much to eat, when to drink, how much to drink, and when to have water vs. sports drink. In learning all of this, my goal is to kick dehydration's a$$!!!

Our season has started and we have completed 2 weeks already. Swimming, biking and running are part of my weekly schedule again. I am already starting to feel stronger. Brian and I have set a goal to complete the Olympic distance triathlon this time. Also, because we enjoyed the long course training last season and feel it will benefit our race enjoyment this season, we have decided to train for the Long Course but complete the Olympic Course.

Coming up this weekend (2/25) - Hour swim and 27mi bike - stay tuned!

I am fund raising...check it out!! Swim, Bike, Run....Go Get It Done Dena

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Look How Far I Have Come...

Wow...the last 8 weeks have been crazy busy! I do apologize for not blogging sooner.

Over the course of this time, we have come so far...each one of us. Let's see the last time I blogged it was pouring rain and I got 2 flat tires in one ride. I am happy to report that I have not gotten another flat while out on a ride since then (knocking on wood) and well the rain has been still a wee bit of a problem. The first part of March we were faced with rain...and more rain...and more rain. Needless to say our training, especially hill training, as a team has suffered slightly. The training on my own however has been overall pretty good. I work hard to swim at least one of the 2 days on the schedule, spin class twice a week, track practice, and Saturday trainings. My hardest days are Sunday runs, I just can’t seem to get my butt out of bed after a week filled with training, work, more work at night, and the normal house routine. I am proud of my training though. I have become more comfortable in the pool and with my swimming, I feel more comfortable on the bike with clip-less petals, and while I am no gazelle my running is going well too.

The last weekend in March was Practice Weekend...Yippeee!!!! I was so excited for this weekend and to learn more about the course. Brian and I drove down Friday afternoon and set up camp ready for what was about to be the hardest two days of training either of us have ever had.

Saturday started out with an Open Water swim in Lake San Antonio. Wet suit and all I got into the water and thought to myself "I can do this". The water was cold, but not unmanageable. We swam out a little and then swam back for instructions. On the way back I decided I needed to put my face in the water....hmmmm, maybe I wasn't quite ready for that yet. (Start freak out) I panicked because I could not see the bottom or very far in front of me. Yes, seems crazy, but this is truly a fear I have. So...then I started feeling like I couldn't breathe, I was having an asthma attack, and this just wasn't going to work out. Brian came over to try and calm me down, but he needed to do his swim, so a coach took over. Richard stayed with me the whole time as I ventured out away from the comfort of land. He had me put my face in the water and take a couple stokes...success! Then I opened my eyes...damn it!! Back to square one. He sang songs to me to calm me down and made me smile. We were out there for about an hour and I did a few segments of swimming face in, eyes closed. The key is I can't open my eyes or I start to panic. Luckily, the coaches are FANTASTIC and have added more open water swims to the schedule for those who want additional practice.

After we were back to the comfort of land, we got ready to head out on the bike...56 miles here we go! This was the part I was most nervous about going into the weekend, but after that swim experience my thinking changed slightly. ;o) The scenery was absolutely spectacular, green fields, wineries, pastures, hills...gorgeous. It really took away from the difficulty of this ride. The support staff was awesome, too. Brian and I took up the rear and Robert was our sweeper. He was great....encouraging, helpful and great company. We were also joined by a coach, Barney, who is phenomenal as well. Together we rode the entire course, Nasty Grade hill and all. For those who don't know anything about the Wildflower course, here is a description of Nasty Grade via the triathlon website: "Nasty Grade, a nearly five mile grade which climbs 1000 feet from bottom to top" This hill is no joke!!! I rode the entire distance on my bike without stopping on this hill....YAY!!! So proud of that! By the time we made it back to camp my tushy was sorer than ever...going to the bathroom was a challenge. Ouch! I know this all sounds horrible, but in the bigger picture is I had just finished a day of 'firsts' and was so happy about that.

Sunday continued our adventure with a half marathon (13.1 mi). We ran the half in 2:50 and felt good about that time. There were a lot of hills, one of them pretty steep and on uneven trail terrain. When we finished we were exhausted, but so proud of ourselves and all our accomplishments of the weekend. :o)

This past week brought more hill training at track, swimming and a 53 mile bike ride on Saturday. Our ride on Saturday included the infamous Old La Honda road. Again for those who are not familiar here are some quick facts about Old La Honda:

  • Distance: 3.37 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1290 feet
  • Average grade: 7.2%
  • Max grade: 15%

I can now proudly say I have completed this climb...YAY. Will I ever do it again? I certainly hope not!!! However, you never know as it offers great hill training for cyclist and triathletes. I will say this; I will NOT be doing that climb again any time soon!! In fact, I don't want anything to do with that hill right now. I have bitter sweet feelings about this hill....on one hand I appreciate the training it provided me and am thankful for that opportunity; the mental and physical challenges I had to overcome to accomplish this was amazing. One the other hand, it is not something I considered fun and I just didn't like it. I did it and I am amazed that I did!!! Go Dena!

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Back to work...Week 4

Alright…Week 4…bring it!!! (2/17 & 2/19)

Since it was a torrential down pour on Thursday night….I opted out of track practice. However, I did not feel guilty about this because I had already gone to my spin class that afternoon during lunch.

We were at Gunderson High School again on Saturday…the weather was iffy, but we were goin’ for it. This week they split us up based on our events – Wildflower Olympic & Maui were one group & Wildflower Long Course was the other. Brian and I are training for and hoping to complete the Wildflower Long Course (1.2mi swim, 56mi bike, & 13.1mi run). So our group was in the pool first and at the time I was happy about this. We went through drills again – working on stroke, breathing, and kicking. I apparently swim with my head looking too far ahead of me. So, I have to keep my head looking down. Hmmmm…some how that was harder than it sounds. I started getting all out of wack…breathing in water, choking, stroke was all crazy. I guess I know what I will be focusing on during my Monday & Wednesday swims. Coach Caroline also had us count how many stokes it took us to get to the other side of the pool. Typically it should take about 14-16 stokes…I’m at 22. :o/ Make that 2 things I need to focus on! When all was said and done…we swam close to a mile. SWEET!

Alright, after changing it was bike time. Finally, some time riding….26miles of time. This was a BIG increase in miles for me. I was definitely up for the challenge, even in the light rain. I also decided to switch groups…I was now riding with the Elite group. We set out and it was definitely wet, but not too bad. Unfortunately as we got further out, the rain got heavier and the roads got worse. I kept telling myself to focus and that I could accomplish this…it was a great challenge for me both mentally and physically. That is until I got my first flat tire at mile 5. Damn it! Luckily Brian was with me and my coach was not far behind. I had not purchased any of my repair supplies so I had nothing to change the tire with. Coach Dave changed my tire for me as I watched and tried to soak in the process. Of course, we were in the rain freezing and getting wetter by the second. Luckily the SAG car came to get us and bring me to the front of the pack, who by this time was 7miles ahead. So, let’s see…26-7= 19mi bike ride for me. Ok, so now I am back on the road…yay! I ride about another mile with the group…another FLAT. REALLY??? 2 flat tires in one day? I yell out that I have a flat tire, but I don’t know the people around me by name, so I just yell” I have a flat”….no one stops. The two people I actually know are in the front of the pack and so far ahead they would have never heard me. There I am on the side of the road, thinking “crap, of all days to not have my phone. Now what do I do?” I knew I needed to be safe and not do anything stupid. I walked a little farther up the road to the parking lot of Calero Reservoir where I saw cars and people. I asked a man to borrow his cell phone and called Brian (who was still in the SAG car drenched and freezing)…no answer. I leave him a message letting him know where I am. While I am making this phone call I see him in the SAG car drive past me…Grrr! Okay…well my next hope is that another team member rides by who has the SAG car phone number. Lucky for me, someone else got a flat tire and Brian had to turn around. He saw me on the side of the road and picked me up. My ride was done for the day! As soon as I got home all the team phone numbers went into my contacts and I will never be forgetting my phone again. I also changed my tire, by myself! Yay me!

No drowning!! Bike 2 Dena 0

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Wedding Planning Break....Week 3

Not much training happened during week we went to Florida to plan wedding #1. It was a very productive weekend in that regard....not so much for the triathlon.

Definitely no drowning or falling off the biking!!!! :o)