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This past week was INSANE. It was the last week of school for my kids and their last year in Elementary School. This meant year-end parties, cook outs (in 40F degree temps), parties, Award ceremonies, you name it, we were there. My feet hurt so bad on Friday that I was shaking my head at how I was going to get my workout done appropriately.
I have been feeling REALLY good. Apart from my allergies (that are kicking my ASS), I feel really good. And, it is a good feeling to have going into one of my “A” races of the season. I am racing Eagleman 70.3 in less than 2 weeks.
Friday was insane. I did a early AM swim, then got the kids ready for school, did some work, Jerome and I went to the kid’s Year-End awards ceremony and got home at 10:30am. I had to be back at the school at 2:30 sharp for the “Bell ringing” that concludes the last day of school for the year. I did not want to miss any of it. But, I also had a 3 hour ride to do. Temps were cool at 60F, but it was lovely outside. However, I can ride and kick butt at 60F, so I decided to do my 3 hours on my Computrainer and suffer. NO TV, NO FAN, sweating and working hard on my salt and nutrition for Eagleman. I have done this race 1000 times and ONLY 1x has it been below 90F degrees. In 3 hours, I went through over 5 bottles of fluids. I needed to train in that heat to prep appropriately. Specificity.
Here I am with SOME SUN above me and heat (ha):
I got off my bike with 20 minutes to eat, shower, put make up on and get to the school and then off to Dairy Queen with all the kids for the last day of school tradition.
I laid in bed on Friday night and my legs ached. I almost had to take NASIDs because they were so, so painful. Instead, I foam rolled, used the STICK and tried hard to get them rested before I was going to “participate” in the Fox Trot 10 miler this next morning. And, I ate A TON of Carbs.
Woke up on Saturday AM and despite really (REALLY) wanting heat and things to get hot here in Chicago (to no avail), I was secretly SO happy because it was 46F degrees outside and overcast. BAM! PERFECT running temperatures. I have never done this race in nice weather, so this would be a treat. AND, frankly, I have never done this race on absolutely trashed legs.
I have always wanted to have the balls to race tired. It is just not something I like to do. I think there is a time and a place for racing in a training program. But, we decided I would do the 10 miler but warm up for 3 miles, steady for 4 miles and then race the last 3 miles. And, I can follow directions well. So, first 3 miles I went out and was keeping it under control at my target pace of 7:10-5. But, I also needed to warm up better coming off the training and trashed legs. But, to my surprise, those miles felt good. I was chomping at the bit. There were a ton of girls ahead of me and I thought….GRRRRRRRR, I do NOT like to “participate.” Patience, Jenny. My goal was to not leave Eagleman on the Fox Trot 10 mile course.
After I get past mile 3 and still in some hills, I decide to get down to what I think is comfortably hard – but not out of control. I drop down to 6:50s and feel that that is comfortable without shredding myself. I start to pick off the girls ahead of me and now I am having some fun. I head out on this out and back part of the course that is flat (near my house too!) and I see Stacie, Heidi, Scott, Rich, Jen….seeing everyone and actually LOOKING at them and waving at them was the NEW JENNY participating not racing. I was trying!
I got to mile 7 FINALLY and said, OK now I can go. Mile 8 has a big hill, but otherwise, I ran the last 3 miles sub 6:30 and, for once, I was not trying to hammer to hold pace or not get slower. What a concept! It is so hard to negative split a hilly run race. It requires such discipline. But, the reward is massive. I finished the 10 mile race in 3rd OA (caught everyone but 2 gals) and my last mile was 6:28 — and I felt good. In fact, so good, I could have kept running at that effort/pace for the 1/2 Marathon. Just exactly what I needed before Eagleman. And, a course PR for me.
I just could not believe how good I felt at the race after destroying myself the day before?!!! Shows that when you are in good shape, things are just well, easier.
And, the MIND will always win. I willed myself to run that well on trashed legs. (I paid for this Friday/Saturday combo on Sunday!).
It also made me think about something I have been chewing on all weekend –> One thing that is so hard for me to teach athletes is that BRIDGE from training to racing and HOW to race versus train. Many athletes nail training workout after training workout. But, then on race day things do not work. They don’t race up to their potential. They do not go any faster than they do in training. They just can’t bridge that GAP. It is almost like the blog I wrote earlier this year about the “SWITCH” —> Same thing…they just cannot switch from training to racing. It is something, as a Coach, I work tirelessly on with athletes. Some really can do this and do it flawlessly; others cannot grasp it.
But, this Fox Trot 10 miler was my training. It was my chance to be mentally tough. To practice SOLO (I ran solo) without music, without groups, without “winning” in my basement by myself…or obsessing about my paces. I was practicing how it feels to race, grab fluids while running fast, taking in gels when going hard and how to be strategic out there, just like I will have to be at the 1/2 Ironman coming up. The reason I can race on tired legs is because my body is used to it — and now I was training my HEAD. The head is always way more stubborn than the body. Doing it in training makes it “easier” to do on Race Day.
A successful weekend for sure! Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend!
This weekend I headed over to Galena, IL (on the border of Iowa) to race the Galena Triathlon for the …I am trying to recall…I don’t know, 10th time? I love this race. We jokingly call it the Chicago World Championships because the competition is actually pretty deep and everyone is chomping at the bit to get racing after our long and arduous winter.
I felt relaxed, fit and ready to race. I am in a good place right now with my fitness because I am healthy, happy and doing Eagleman in less than 3 weeks, so this was a tune up and I was anxious to see how my fitness was coming along. As I prep for my 1/2 IM, there are always some key workouts that I can do or “feelings” that I have in my workouts when things are on target.
Galena is hilly. Not only hilly, but for us flatlanders, massively hilly. It is short with a 800meter swim, 17.7 mile bike and 4.5 mile run. Historically, I have complained (and not quietly) about the wave starts – there is NO Elite wave here and last year I was in the last wave. THIS year, I won the jackpot and was in the 2nd to last wave in the combined 35-44 year olds. Honestly, I was so happy to hear this. I had the opportunity to race head to head with Jenny Garrison and Elizabeth – THANK goodness. I had athletes to chase and I was very happy about that.
Elizabeth was talking smack all week. Typical Elizabeth style. I knew she was going to figure out a way to draft off me that ENTIRE swim, that witch. AND, let it be noted, she did a helluva job accomplishing that task! (smart girl).
Stacie, Karen, Elizabeth and I headed to Galena on Friday afternoon and stayed at my sorority sister’s house we always stay at. We love it – it is near the race finish and in the middle of nowhere quiet! Our trip was uneventful – which is the way we like it.
I changed up my race warm up for this race. I wanted to experiment with warm ups and decided to swim the swim course nice and easy for my warm up. The water was AWESOME. 65F degrees. I like really COLD water, so this was not that bad at all, but perfect to race in.
My wave was at 9:36am. We lined up and I grabbed Elizabeth and told her to get up front and start right next to me –> I knew she was going to draft off me, and that is OK but she is a good starter in OW, so I was trying to pull these girls into the start corral with me.
Gun went off and I got a great start. In fact, almost a false start, but after all my swim meets, I am used to going to so hard, so I did just that and I soon found myself leading the AG. THE WHOLE time I am thinking, “Where is Jenny G that slacker!” I could feel finger tips once in awhile and I knew Elizabeth was on my heels. I was actually just cruising along – after swimming the 1650 at State and Nationals, this felt like a breeze! I was working but totally solid and just felt amazing – fast, long and smooth – just what we want! (The swim warm up was perfect). I exited the water 1st and then little Elizabeth next to me — I said, “Nice swim!” and she just grunted at me. (She is crabby, eh?).
Out of T 1 is Jenny, Elizabeth and then me. The hill out of T1 is aggressive and then the climbs start. I have ONE job this entire ride. Do not lose sight of Elizabeth. She stood, I stood. She hammered, I hammered. I was about 15-20″ behind her the entire ride. She pulled a little ahead of me on the last 1 -2 mile climb and she was leaving her bike as I rolled into T2.
I worked so hard on my bike. AND this year the course was a little more open to descend safer -THANK goodness. I just worked on the left side of the road and just put my head down and suffered. I was on top of the pedals and was just feeling AWESOME again. I felt so good. AND I was having fun! I did not want the bike to end…because the run is way harder than the bike.
My transitions sucked, but they were still in the top 2-4 overall in the race (women), but I need to do some more work on them! I was out of T2 and onto the run. The first 1 1/2 miles were just up up up. I mean, grit your teeth and run hills. It was hot (80s) and I was so glad I had my little hand held drink thing…I needed the electrolytes! I could see Elizabeth putting room on me and I was just working and working and working – we all were!
Up and down and up and down. I felt really good though. I felt hot but otherwise, really good. I finished the race and ended up 1st AG by 9 minutes – I never saw anyone from my AG or Masters out there, so I was again so thankful I was in the 35-44 AG to keep me honest!
I just had so much fun! It was great to see all my friends and athletes there. I know many had a tough race with the hills and heat/humidity, but now everything else will feel easy this season. Everyone did so great and I was just loving racing my friends and some of the younger girls that keep things honest and fresh.
The race day would not be complete without a stop at Dairy Queen for a HUGE blizzard —> Chocolate ice cream, peanut butter, chocolate covered pretzels + PB cups. Elizabeth, Stacie, Karen and I were in HEAVEN.
Next up: Eagleman 70.3, my all time favorite race. Excited!
One of my big goals for 2013 was to race and compete at USMS Nationals in the 1650 in Indianapolis. I was excited Nationals was in the Midwest and within driving distance.
It was refreshing to compete in a National event that was not Triathlon. Traveling with a backpack and goggles? Count me in!
The Masters team that I swim with had nearly 15 athletes competing this year and it was fun to be in Indy with a group of dedicated and passionate swimmers!
The girls in my Lane at Masters are super. We refer to ourselves as LANE 8 is GREAT (hey, whatever works). These girls can SWIM and I am along for the ride. They make the 7:30-9;00 PM workouts that much easier for me (I am a passionate 6am swimmer)!
The 1650 at the infamous IUPUI pool in Indianapolis was on Thursday – MID DAY! So, Krista and I drove down together on Wednesday night so we could check in and warm up properly on Thursday morning. It was nice to travel with Krista. She is my age and has 3 little girls. And, I think I met someone that talks MORE than me? IMPOSSIBLE I thought. I was wrong!
Krista and I (thankfully) were in the same heat of the 1650. Seeded by time and mixed genders. Except the 400 IM and 1000 Free, every other event at Nationals is HEAD to head age group racing – AWESOME really.
I was nervous for the 1650. Like, REALLY nervous. I knew I had just swam an “OK” time for myself at the State Championships 2 weeks ago. But, because of the swim taper, some workouts and ANOTHER swim rest cycle, I felt flat. I knew I could swim about the same time I did at State (20:3x). But, I really REALLY wanted to faster. (I mean, of course, right?). Krista and I were ranked 1-2 for Nationals and it was our race to lose. I knew my work was cut out for me with Krista. Frankly, she is faster than me now…and beat me at State as well. But, anything can happen, right?
Finally our 1650 was up on the blocks…I was so nervous my back start leg was shaking. Once I dove in – I felt pretty good. Went out in 6:04 for the 500 Free and just felt strong but not like I was swimming downhill. Damn! The water felt a little thick to me (just an expression meaning, I felt slow!). I was working way harder than I should have been for the pace I was going. AND every card (in the 1650 we have counters b/c it is 65 laps!!!) I was like, “that is it!” HA HA. I did not feel good. DAMN DAMN. So, at that point I just had to gut it out. Head down, rip my lats apart, pull hard, kick and turn well. I could see Krista really pull ahead of me and I was trying so hard, but I was maxed out. That was all I had.
I touched the wall and looked up at the board. Fearful that my time was going to REALLY SUCK. And, it was slower than I wanted and far off my PR (20 seconds) but it was only a few seconds off my State time and for feeling so awful, I will take it. After everyone was done swimming (ALL DAY) the final results had Krista 1st and me 2nd! I was so happy for Krista because she has improved a TON in the last couple of years and she has worked so hard. And for teammates to go 1-2 was a special treat for sure.
I was not disappointed at all. I did my best. I got 2nd at Nationals and Krista is just faster. Plain and simple really. Here we are with our medals:
The next day I swam the 400 IM and 200 Free and then headed back home. I could not stay and swim all the events I wanted to because I wanted to get home on Friday night because of the kid’s soccer games, my Mom’s Birthday and Mother’s Day Brunch with my mom. I just needed to be home. AND I had big workouts to do this weekend. In fact, I got home on Friday night from Indy and turned around and was on my bike by 6am Saturday morning for a 70 mile ride + 4 mile T run…
My 400 IM and 200 Free went fine. I PRd both of them, which made me happy. The heats of the 200 Free were the 40-44 AG together and it was fast. The gal that won went 1:56! AND swimming head to head with these girls kept things super honest! I was working so hard in that 200 Free to minimize that gap, I was tasting blood.
I left Indy completely exhausted and never wanting to see the pool again! It was a great experience to witness some AMAZING swimming. One guy went 22 seconds in the 50 back. I mean, just crazy fast swimmers. It was awesome.
A few years ago I could not really string together a proper fly or breaststroke to compete. I could always swim Free and did meets but ONLY Free. I got over myself a few years ago and needed a new challenge. I was bored in the pool. So, I said I would do the 400 IM in a meet…I worked really hard at it. My lanemates helped me a ton (REAL IMers) and there I was competing at the Nationals at the 400 IM (I got 11th at Nationals). I GOT over my fear and did it. And, that in itself, is a huge accomplishment.
AND then, next year, I promised I would do the 100 fly and 200 Fly…and I will.
Thanks to Cheryl Stine for coming up from Bloomington to count the 1650 for me. Cheryl is a phenomenal swimmer and I was certain she would be freaked out at my swimming (turns, walls, etc) but she was a good sport and a GOOD counter, so thank you, Cheryl! Good to see you!
And, that ends the Masters season for me. Now onto Open water and Triathlon season – FINALLY!