Category Archives: Uncategorized
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!
I feel like a Mack Truck hit me this morning. GOOD thing, because that means I swam my hardest this weekend. I look forward to this weekend all year. For some reason, I always want to play in the individual sports while being a Triathlete. I do bike TTs & races, do running races and swim meets. It is a little aggressive that I want to be a single sport athlete, but I surely try hard!
The ILMSA Swim Meet is awesome. Our team works really, really hard all year to peak and race well here. It consists of the 1650 over two days and then the rest of the events all day and into 7pm at night both Saturday & Sunday. Over 1700 athletes compete. By the time I got home last night – after 7:30pm, I was a MESS. And, eating for an event like this is interesting too. By Sunday night I just wanted ANYTHING green.
In addition, I have become very good friends with my lane mates and we just have SO much fun. We swim in Lane 8…and all of us are girls, except Chris. This year, we “let” Chris swim with us & we enjoyed having him around. All of these girls swam in college except me (and Gina, I believe) – so it is a bit humbling, but I try to be a “real” swimmer when I show up!
1650 Thursday night
Weekend: 50 F, 100 F, 200 F, 500 F, 50 Fly, 100 IM, 200 IM, 400 IM & 4 relays (all 50 Free).
Phew. That is A LOT of warming up, cooling down, in and out of the pool and absolutely max efforts. I have worked this year very hard at my starts. When I was a kid, we learned to start with 2 feet on the edge of the blocks….well, that is REALLY old school & I just never really changed. But, I knew – I had to. So, with the help of my lane mates, I went to the track start – WAY faster and that helped me a ton in the shorter events, where starts and turns really make the race.
The meet started with my 1650 and this is my FAVORITE event. I rested hard for it and did not want ONE excuse not to perform my best. No point for me to go to the State Swim meet – especially since I have not been beaten at this event – TIRED. So, I was ready to go.
Ironically, my biggest competition in the 1650 is my lane mate, Krista. Krista is exactly my age and oh, so nice. I wish she was not nice, it would make things easier! LOL — Anyway, she just started with our team 3 years ago and has gradually gotten stronger (after not swimming since college!)….she has been slowly inching closer and closer to me and last year actually beat me last year in the 1000 F and 500 F (by 1 second) and I out-touched her in the 200F…so it is a healthy and fun competition. And, honestly, it makes me a better swimmer. Anyway, she was on fire at this meet & beat me in the 1650 by 20″ or so — and there was NOTHING I could do – I gave it my all. I swam 5 seconds faster than I did 2 years ago (last time they had the 1650 at State), so, overall, it was all good.
Besides the 1650, I actually PRd (adult PRs) in all my events. I even dropped 2 seconds off my 100 IM time. For anyone who has never done a Masters Meet – 2 seconds in a 100 is MASSIVE, so I was happy with that! To keep getting better & faster – with something I work so hard at and LOVE (and being 42) — is a very good thing!
I am not one to post times — but sometimes I will: I will say my 1650 time was 20:34 (1:14 pace), my 100 Free was 1:02, my 500 Free was (6:01, 1:12 pace- this is my nemesis, I want to break 6 SO bad), 400 IM was 5:52…..my 50 Free time is slow at 29.1…200 Free was 2:15…..etc…I placed in the Top 3 in all of my events except (let’s be honest here, I suck at the 50s) the 50 Free and 50 Fly. I was 5th in the 50 Free.
The hardest event of the weekend? 200 Free, by far. We all agree it is the hardest because it is an all out sprint and that is a long time to be maxed out in the pool. By the time I was on the 125 of that 200, I was in full blown lactate and was closing my eyes and gritting my teeth to survive.
The excitement of the weekend made me want to quit Triathlon and work on my swimming. My breaststroke is HORRIFIC….my fly is getting way better but Andrea Block (state record holder in the fly) pulled me aside after my 400 IM and helped with some pointers on my fly….so, I am constantly learning & I love that. I am already excited for next year’s State meet- it is a lot of hard work and long hours in that pool, but THIS is what it is all about – being passionate about something so much and seeing your hard work prevail.
Next up for me is a big week of Triathlon training. In fact, I have to run long later today and that could be ugly! THEN, I am doing the 1650 at Nationals next Thursday night. I am so excited about it. Cheryl Stine from Indy is going to count for me and I am traveling with my lane mate, Krista to IUPUI. We are ranked #1-#2 in the Nation for this event (hey, you have to be in it to win it…*my quote of the weekend*) and I am fired up to swim it again with her. I am also swimming the 400 IM and 200 Free. Wish I could stay and swim the 500 Free, but it is on Mother’s Day and (it is my mom’s birthday too) – so I need to be home.
And, thanks to my friends: Stacie, Mia, Karen, Jaynie & Emily who I traveled with all weekend – up before 5am on Sunday, home late AND they even had to deal with me who drank coffee before Sunday’s 400 IM. (first time all year)…AND Jen Harrison caffeinated is not always a good thing. So, thanks girls…we had fun (and great swimming!!).
Someone asked me if I am tired of swimming yet? My answer? Never!
Today is the first day since Camp that I feel like myself! JHC Camp went great this year. Almost, dare I say, one of the best? We had 16 campers this year and put them all up in condos around our place and I really LIKED it. I was able to rotate between all the condos to socialize, talk and catch up with each camper. That was always harder with everyone in a large house.
The weather was AWESOME. The athletes were GREAT. Really, besides a few minor issues with people’s DI2 shifting (no fun), everyone was safe and worked really hard. I was grateful to Jen Lynn & Diane who organized and helped me with SAG support at Gates Pass & Mt. Lemmon! What a nice treat in the middle of the desert for sure.
Even Jimmy Riccetello joined us on our climb up Lemmon. Nice to have Jimmy around in Tucson when we are down there – Thanks Jimmy!
Our days were spent training — bike rides every day, swimming at U of A (hotties), running trails and even very technical ones at Sabino and of course, good food (DQ…..uh oh) & good company. We all got the work done and left thoroughly exhausted. Perfect!
Here is the group at the Welcome Dinner the first night – The Calm Before the Storm:
Here is a picture of me coaching on deck — Ah!!!
And, our last night’s dinner wrap up:
The best thing about Camp is seeing everyone work so hard. Seeing them push their own personal limits and really dig deep and find out what they are truly made of! I love that part of a big camp block.
I know there were some tears. I know there were some swear words, but I think they were few and far between versus the joy, challenges and finding out how tough you really are. I think Mia gave me the finger and told me to “f*ck off” at least 12 times a day and even her TP updates were the same.
I had one camper at Camp ask me if I ever cry. She said, “Do you EVER cry Jen?”
I said NO. Of course that is a lie. (I just do not cry at camp in front of athletes).
BUT, I have my moments…
In fact, I got home from Camp last Tuesday and on Wednesday USMS listed their Seed placings for Masters Nationals and I just thought I’d pop onto their site and see what I was seeded at. Basically, they list the swimmers in each event and each age group fastest to slowest. It is like a ranking system.
I was hoping to be ranked in the TOP 10 in my AG in the 1650. That would be awesome. My goal at Nationals was to JUST place in the TOP 10.
I open up the website and there it is: 1st in my AG in the 1650.
I was sick to my stomach. I was shaking. In fact, I handled the whole thing horribly & like a baby. I could not focus the rest of the day. Went to Masters that night and everyone was talking about the seed placements and I felt sick. Then, we had to do a timed 1650. The combination of pure exhaustion from camp and travel AND then the anxiety from the ranking/seeding…I was crying in my goggles during the 1650.
In fact, I swam so poorly, I had to SIT out a 50 and re-group. I never do that. Ever. Then, I could not breathe. The air was too thick, the water too hot…I was having a mini anxiety attack and it was over NOTHING!
So, yes, of course I cry. I just do it in private behind my goggles when no one can see me.
And, of course, I got over myself and the 1650 the next day…but damn if that was not a true meltdown.
I think everyone has returned to feeling normal this week post Camp and Jerome and I have already been planning next year’s Camp (s)! It is a great way to kick off Triathlon season, especially when the weather has been downright awful in the Midwest this spring. I was begging to go back to Tucson today!
Hello from Paradise (note the sarcasm)!
So many random things going on around here, I thought it best to bullet point life:
* About 4 weeks ago I did an indoor bike Time trail race. I suffered. A lot. And, I got up the next morning to go for an easy run (it was 15F degrees out) and my hip /glute/psoas were PISSED. Slowly started to seize up. I stopped running, came home and stretched/rolled…but the acute stress was done. My hip was pissed! From there I went to no real running that week to massages with Nathalie to becoming a PROFESSIONAL stretcher. Hip did not feel good that week. The extreme bike TT on an indoor bike (my bike though) put it over the edge and I was paying for it.
* I went to Pilates twice since then and I have to say I really liked it. I was hesitant for many reasons. One, I just prefer to hammer things ….and Pilates is well, nice. But, I think I need a little bit more of that. We have a Pilates studio within walking distance from my house, so I went. I left Pilates Mat feeling 100% better and basically we just stretched the entire time. I loved going because all the women there are way different than Triathletes and they were completely freaked out by what I did, so that was refreshing! I plan on keeping Pilates in my weekly schedule.
* Spring Break for the kids start on Monday and goes thru April 1st. I am excited to head to Tucson on Friday with my sister and her daughter and Morgan! We are going to have a nice time – frankly, we just want the sunshine and heat. And, I get to ride my bike outside! Besides Tucson, this has not happened in almost 5 -6 months (Can you imagine warm weather friends?). Jerome is off to China for business and Graham is going to Mammoth Cave National Park with my parents and the boy cousins. It will be a fun Spring Break!
* JHC Camp starts on April 4th and I am VERY excited. We have a great, big group going this year. Thanks to Jen Lynn, down in Tucson, with helping me with some of the details that are so hard to do from afar. It will be a great time in Tucson climbing our bikes for 5 days! I hope everyone is excited!
* I raced a 1/2 Marathon yesterday! I was so excited but worried to race. When I hurt my hip, I went into private FREAK OUT mode because this is the NEW JEN post 40. I have realized VERY quickly that the post 40 year old Jen is way different than the pre-40 Jen. I really had a hard time adjusting to the new life as a Master athlete, but it is my new reality. THE PARTY IS OVER as a few have told me…they are right. I now have to stretch in the morning, PRE workout, POST workout and before bed at night. I was stretching so much last week, I was stretching at Graham’s soccer games, basketball games, you name it, I was stretching. But, news flash –> It worked. I went from walking with pain to PAIN FREE and racing a 1/2 yesterday. In just over 3 weeks. I was super smart and with some smart feedback from my smart friends, I turned it around. Yippee! But, I really need to stick with this regime. And, the extreme cold makes things tighter/worse, so I am hoping with warmer weather things will stay looser too.
* It was a busy race weekend and many of us raced our local 1/2 Marathon yesterday. Every year I torture myself and do this super hilly (for this area) race. I do really like it. I have done this race with temps all over the place: 30s, snow, ice, wind, 80s (last year)! , but this year took the cake. I was SO cold. It was 21F at race start and super cloudy and just blah. It was a FIRST FOR ME. I wore tights. I have NEVER ever worn tights in a race. I almost hated to do it, but I was so cold. I even WORE my down jacket – FULL LENGTH for the entire 30 min warm up – strides and only took it off 5 min before the start and threw it in my car. IT was THAT COLD. It never warmed up.
* I felt amazing during the 1/2 Marathon – dare I say it was easy (despite the cold). The first 7 miles of the race are flat with a few rollers most of my miles were easily sub 7 at this point…after mile 8 the race gets really tough…like baby step hills…and I was fine going up, but felt my legs seize up on the downhills. It is a horrible feeling, really. It was not nutrition. My legs could not contract and respond to the pounding of the hills in the cold. It was a combo of the extreme downhills & then it being cold – my legs were NOT happy. I even had to stop once and stretch and rub my legs out b/c I thought I may not be able to take another step! OUCH! HA….but, I pulled through. I had a few rough spots, but pulled my sh*t together and ran well all things considering. I ended up 3rd in my AG and with a respectable time, so all was good. I went back to cheer on everyone and I could not stand outside for a minute longer. I was so cold I was nauseous. I had to walk (I could not run) to my car and get my down jacket again. I sat down and was a mess. I couldn’t walk. Couldn’t feel my legs or hands. I was SO pissed for a short period of time thinking WHY WHY WHY do we do this to ourselves??? (in this cold)…but then I remembered it is MY choice and then got over it. AND I was just happy to be racing, frankly – despite the tough conditions.
* Today I can hardly walk. I got up at 5am (really?) and went to the pool. Nothing is better than swimming post race, so that helped me with being able to walk today. Ironically, I started a Boy’s Running Club at the kid’s school today. I had 26 boys there from the ages of 8-11. I was pretty nervous for this…b/c it was windy, cold, snowing, ice all over the ground and not even 30F degrees. AND I had 26 boys to run…OUTSIDE (we have no indoor space). BUT, the boys were rock stars, we played TAG, did run drills, did relays…laps around the school. We had a great time! I am so grateful I get to do this and spend this quality time with Graham and the boys. It really is a wonderful age.
* Lastly, Elizabeth and I did a PODCAST on “All Things Swimming” – It was a fun one! Here it is:
Looking forward to some sun in Tucson. I don’t think my poor sister knows what she is getting herself into. I do not think she realizes how much I work…I will try to behave in Tucson and try to take some time for R&R AND SUNSHINE!
By the end of February, I am DYING for some sun and warmth. I swear it is like we are in the Twilight Zone here in the midwest. One more day in dark, snowy and 20F degrees (if that!) Thank goodness (I say in jest), that we have INDOOR Bike Time Trials to occupy ourselves with in the winter out here. I know, when you can’t ride your bikes outside — might as well race them inside…
We have swim meets, indoor triathlons and bike TTs all winter. It has been at least 10 years since I have done an indoor Triathlon – I am done with those…for lots of reasons, so the next best opportunity to suffer is on a computrainer with hundreds of your closest and sweaty friends — In a elementary school gym while Elvis and polka music blares over the loud speaker.
Last month I did this TT and it was a 10k flat course. I worked my a$$ off and while I did not feel great, I had a fine TT. Top 3 OA get $$…so a little extra cash is always nice. This past weekend was a rolling 10k TT course…and lip smacking, sh*t talking little Elizabeth. We could not race next to each other because she registered much later than I did, but truth be told, she was afraid of me. (Oh, cripe, I am only kidding!).
No matter how many workouts I win by myself in my basement, nothing hurts more than an indoor TT of 6.2 miles. I mean, I am riding my bike for this distance AND not running it? WHAT? Anyway, I had a long warm up and listened to Elizabeth talk MORE sh*t because she was DONE. I literally walked in to the school and had a text “where are you?” Clearly she was ON FIRE and caffeinated.
No matter how much I like Elizabeth, we are both there to win. To show these CAT 1/2 Pro Girls that we CAN TT with them. Never mind we are all running off these TT races – minor detail. Elizabeth affirmed her great race and blurted out her time. NICE! It is 13″ faster than I went last year when I was 2nd OA. I thought, “damn that is fast for a little person.” See, indoor TTs – take away the heat and real hills and weight does HELP. I have 20 lbs on her AND 5 years…..I think the handicap was even.
Anyway, Elizabeth graciously left – after setting the bar – and I went to race. The race has 12 computrainer banks rolling every 30 minutes from 8am until past 2pm. Busy busy day! Todd, one of my athletes, who is also the race announcer texted me that morning and said he had the flu and was out for the day. Too bad because he is the best cheerleader and LOUD & trash talks the ENTIRE time you are racing.
We calibrated my CT and we started the race. I told myself “do NOT blow up too soon…” I tend to go out super fast – in everything I do – so I was trying to behave just for a few seconds. THEN, I turned up my music so loud I could not hear ONE thing. In fact, I closed my eyes and only opened them a few times. I could not even hear myself think. I just worked my tail off. I over-rode the downhills, smashed the uphills and stood for the last .4 miles in my biggest combination 52×12..I was giving it my all. I had no idea if I would beat the standing time, but I knew it would be close.
I was just hoping I would not pee myself.
In fact, at that time, the top 3 females on the day were .6 tenths of a second apart. YES that close. That is ridiculous and rare.
I could not have gone any harder. I was completely done. I finally opened up my eyes and saw the same time and could not figure out the tenths because I was so trashed. I was breathing like I was in labor and if I was not mounted into a computrainer, I would have fallen off my bike. It took me over 1 hour to feel normal again and get my face color back to pasty white.
I loved it. It is so hard. SO painful…and something we almost cannot do outside – even when I race TT outside because we have to focus also on being safe. And, while I can really work by myself in the basement, I just cannot work this hard. Having that little carrot out there is really motivating and mixes up the winter monotony.
Regardless of the tenths that I did not end up on top, I won. I set a new power PR number at the age of 42. Every year I say, “I am just trying to manage the slowing down, ” and honestly, that is the truth…I swear! But, when I have days like this, I am happy and grateful. And, excited.
God I love Swim Meets.
I really do. This past weekend was one of our larger Illinois Swim meets on Superbowl Sunday. This is my 5th year I have done it and I still really look forward to it every year. It is always cold and the windows are frozen to the outside and everyone is buzzing around talking football & swimming soaking wet in huge swim parkas. Outside temps are usually between 10-20F degrees. What else is there to do?
The Superbowl meet fell at the end of my bigger week and I was tired. Plus, with the combination of Graham breaking his wrist & other life things, I was a little cooked on Friday. So, I threw out my run and swam only a short set on Saturday so I would have some SNAP for Sunday. Snap being the important word here.
The meet is all day: Arrive at 7am and leave around 2 or 2:30pm. In and out of the pool 100x. Of course I was there by 7am sharp and chatting and warming up. I decided to do a few things differently. One, I took a shower before the meet before I left home. It was SO cold (below 10F that AM when I left) and the competition pool is always FREEZING (which is good to race in) but it leaves me chilled all day. And, I do NOT like to be cold….so I took a hot shower and that helped a ton. I also warmed up a TON….more than normal. I just figured it would be good for me and I do better (ahem) now with a longer warm up. I probably did over 1500 yards+ of mixed 50s and stroke work and free/starts.
As soon as I got into the warm up and took 2 strokes, I knew it was going to be a good day. I can tell if I have a feeling for the water very quickly. I was excited to race!
I was swimming the max # of events, which is 5 events. Longest distance on the day was the 500 Free. And, because the meet is so big, they do not run the 1000 or 1650 (bummer). Anyway, I swam the 500 Free, 100 Free, 200 Free, 200 IM, 100 IM.
The 500 Free is personal to me because I have a goal for that race EVERY YEAR. And, I laugh at myself because every year, I swim within 5 seconds of the same time EVERY YEAR. Yawn. My adult 500 Free time rarely changes. I was talking to the Masters Coach and she is like, “Jenny…at this point, unless you swim more (!) that 500 time is not going to budge dramatically unless we re-work your starts & turns.” OK….now, I do not have good turns at all..compared to the uber-swimmers I swim with, but they are not that bad…but every second counts. If I was a “pure” swimmer, I would fix all of this up and spend hours in the pool to make that happen. And, maybe after Arizona this year, I will spend more time making my turns faster and better, but for now, it is all good.
Last year at State, I went 6:02. This past weekend I went 6:07. Crack me up. I did not really even consider myself in good swim shape yet….so, I swam well because I was rested and fired up. I swear, if I break 6:00 at State this year (April) or Nationals (May), I will be done with that damn 500. I have broken 6 in the 500 but not as an adult.
Oh, and my friend and lanemate, Krista beat me by 1 second in the 500. We are so funny, we swim exactly the same time for EVERYTHING. She out-touched me in the 500 and I out-touched her in the 200. I love the healthy competition and we make one another better swimmers, that is for sure. She is a great backstroker and I do not even touch that stroke.
Then, I swam the 100 Free, 100IM, 200 Free and won those events. But, let me back up and say I was disqualified (are you reading Cheryl Stine??) in the 100 IM. STUPID me….I can’t believe I did what I did. Back in the day, when I learned how to swim in oh 1970s and 1980s we were able to do a flip turn from backstroke to breaststroke in the IM. NOW (effective 8 years ago!) we have to do an open turn from back to breaststroke. I turn my brain off when I swim and especially for the 100 IM, so I just went on auto-pilot and acted like I was 10. Oops. My fault and my mistake. So, while I did win, I was DQd. Lovely.
Oh, and I did pee myself, I think. The 200 Free is the HARDEST event on the docket. I would rather swim 4 x 400 IM than 1 x 200 Free. It is a hard, hard event. It is an all out sprint but not really. It is like the 800 on the track. A true test of speed, grit and anything else you can muster. I wanted to break my State time of 2:14, but I knew that would probably be a crap shoot (last event of the day)….but I was swimming next to Krista and we were so neck and neck it was killing me. Anyway, she had about 1/2 second on me on the last 25 and I just put my head down, did not breathe (which I really have a hard time with), gritted my teeth, closed my eyes and went as hard as I could into the wall. I swear I peed myself, thank goodness I was in the pool where no one can tell. GASP. I barely out-touched her and barely kept my breakfast down. See, good times in the pool, eh?
Our team did well and everyone swam well & we won the meet. We had 57 swimmers there and it was a fun way to spend a Sunday!
And, since I have been on this swim HIGH….I signed up for USMS Nationals in May! I have never been (usually in Triathlon season and far away) and since it is in the Midwest, I decided to go. The meet runs from Thursday-Sunday and initially I wanted to do the entire meet since the 1650 is on Thursday & the 500 Free is on Sunday. But, it is too long to be gone (4+ days) just swimming and with Mother’s Day & my Mom’s birthday, I need to be home on the weekend. So, I am just swimming the 1650 Free, 200 Free and 400 IM and relays. I do not want to do any pure stroke events…and I can not compete in the 50 Free (goodness)…so I just miss the 100 Free and 500 Free and 200 IM, which is OK. My main goal is the 1650. I cannot wait!
I am a huge fan of swim meets – for swimmers of ALL ages & abilities! If you have never done one, challenge yourself, it is really a fun way to spend a few hours.
For my birthday last weekend, Jerome got me an IPod Nano. This is the first time I’ve had a device that played music that was not my phone or car. Since the day I received it (the 12th of January) I have listened to it A LOT. I have realized that this one piece of equipment has made me soft within the last 10 days & even has changed my training. Never before have I needed music to hammer out a workout. Sure, don’t get me wrong, I ENJOY stimulation when I am training, hard and long indoors…but I realized this music while running or cycling allowed me to turn my brain off. Furthermore, I found myself thinking about WHEN I could go to a Kid Rock concert instead of how my breathing was on my run.
Then, I ran indoors on the Treadmill. It was -2F degrees outside yesterday morning and while I pride myself on being tough, I surely am not stupid. So, I had an easy run that I did on the treadmill – WITH the TV on the TODAY SHOW and then listening to my music. Really? It was too much. I hated that moment and I realized, this is a SLIPPERY slope. I can either hide behind all this external stimuli OR I can start to plug into my workouts and do what I am supposed to do. Even in January.
This weekend was an insanely busy weekend for us. It was basketball games (that I coached – absolutely the highlight of my week) for Graham, the twins’ 11th birthday, dinner out, Epic Air with their cousins, a Professional Soccer game and kid’s game on Friday night….ending with Jerome heading off to China on Sunday AM & me racing in a bike TT. OH, and then in the ER with Graham into wee hours of the night on Sunday into Monday. (he is fine, a bad infection)
I really was at my limit. Life was moving faster than I could keep up and this doesn’t even count work! I had to stop falling down that slippery slope and get a grip of the situation. And, as busy people and busy parents, this is NOT easy.
I realized a few key things this past weekend. As I drove to my bike TT on Sunday…visualizing my race and getting ready for the pain that a short indoor bike TT could create, I had to compartmentalize my life. I had to take myself OUT of the day to day busy-ness of my life and be PRESENT at my race.
I will not lie - I went to this TT to win. That is an aggressive goal when it is January and I am racing Cat 1/2 girls who are coming out of Cross season and tip top shape. I don’t care. I knew what kind of shape I was in and regardless of it being January or May – I still am super competitive. I am realistic too; however, but still I was hungry and motivated by the effort it would take to do this.
As I am driving to the TT I went over the race in my head. The warm up, the suffering, the watts I was aiming to hit, the cadence I needed to sustain and the competition. Then, as I walked into the TT – a little later than I would like (the sitter was late – again, out of my control) – I ran into friends & athletes I have not seen in awhile. I found myself socializing for a long time. AND honestly, I was OK with it and excited to see everyone. It is almost like a little reunion of sorts. But, that is why I went over my race plan of attack on the car ride to the race… I knew I would not be able to control the hectic environment of a school gym with 100s of riders.
As I was warming up, I had my I POD on and was listening to my music – (AGAIN, WHAT?) but I was just trying to drown out the white noise going on around me, I found myself talking to everyone, asking athletes about their races – catching up and before I knew it, it was almost time to race! Again, thankful that I felt confident and prepared for my race so that I could make the SWITCH and go.
Speaking of that SWITCH….some athletes have this natural ability to be present for every race, every workout. They can easily switch from FOCUS to not-focused. I have worked on this over the years of racing and it one of the most important tools I have in my pocket.
I can go from a hard, intense run and walk in the door and be ON – be MOM or coach in a matter of seconds. This is definitely something that took me awhile to learn/master.
For a race that lasts 16 minutes, I have to be able to REALLY dial it in and be ready to suffer from the gun. IF I allow any outside noise into my head OR even any negative chatter, the focus and race is gone and off. Short TTs – like short run races are decided by seconds..and I knew this.
I got my bike set up on the Computrainer – calibrated and ready to go. One of my athletes, Todd, was announcing this race and trash talking me before I knew it. I finally realized that THIS was the best time for my I Pod – to drown out the talk, the expectations & stress and JUST race me, myself and I. I knew what the fastest time of the day was up to this point –> so my goal was to beat that time. Period.
I blared my music so loud so I could NOT hear myself panting for air. In fact, I even closed my eyes for 90% of the ride so I could just focus on managing the pain that comes from 16 minutes of sheer suffering. AND, I turned the SWITCH ON. I was there – and only there. I was not thinking about my kids, my athletes, my dirty house OR even that I had to run after the bike test in temps sub 10F degrees. I was PRESENT. And, when the race was over, I held the fastest women’s bike time of the day. (My time would fall to 3rd OA by the time the day ended). And, as soon as the 16 minutes or so were up, I turned the SWITCH off and was socializing and trash talking shortly thereafter (and almost vomiting). It is almost a Dr. Jekyll and Hyde performance.
Moreso, I can see the athletes that have the ability to do this. They are able to transcend the outside noises, the stressors, the pressure and the junk and PERFORM. And, perform at a high level.
I think this really hit me this past fall when we were at Graham’s XC meet. Graham is a very scattered and typical 10 year old boy ….you know…when you have to remind them to change their clothes and EAT type of kid? Well, we go to his XC race and Jerome and I really do not put any pressure on the poor kid….We just talk about the race, how it will hurt and how to race others, etc. Well, I sh*t you not, the gun went off and I saw it in Graham’s eyes. THAT switch. He couldn’t hear Jerome or myself screaming for him, he was so focused it was so intense and downright scary. AND that is when it dawned on me…..he has that natural “SWITCH”….you see it with high end athletes too – when they are racing they can TURN IT on and then TURN it OFF just as quickly. IT is innate but I think some of it can definitely be learned and practiced.
Ask yourself — Are you plugged into each of your workouts?
Are you laser focused on what you need to accomplish with each workout?
Are you SO focused when you race that you cannot and are not thinking of anything else but the race and managing it as it unfolds?
AND, if you have a hard time focusing on your workouts – take one step at a time to improve that. Remove ALL outside stimuli for your workout – get rid of the TV, the Iphone, the IPod and plug yourself in. Allow yourself to be present in the workout and then, finish and move on.
On the same lines of mental preparation, Elizabeth and I finished a PODCAST yesterday. IT is all things our listeners asked us. Topics include: Topics include: ideas for daily nutrition, conquering fears, body composition, training camps, age-related differences in training/recovery, MAF approach, setting goals, climbing out of mental and physical holes, handling pre-race stress and balancing triathlon with other life demands.
Happy listening! Please send any additional questions you want answers to as well – and make them risky!
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! And, I’m alive! I survived the nasty flu bug. Yes, it was THAT bad. I don’t ever remember being that sick. In bed for days & really miserable. I was just grateful Jerome was home (Happy New Year to us) to help with the kids & help me try to work because I don’t get sick days.
And, now I ring in my 42nd year from Tucson healthy & refreshed now to get 2o13 started off right …a little late.
Speaking of the new year, I have been doing some Podcasts & Webinars.
Elizabeth & I did a Podcast recently covering: All Things Pregnancy!
Here it is: https://www.box.com/s/mvgl0ksa4dmry4ktkixz
For our next Podcast we are going to do a Q&A with no topics off limit. So please put any of your questions in the comment section here or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, I was happy to do a Webinar with Training Peaks titled: How to Beat the Winter Training Doldrums. I have to tell you, I was actually a little nervous. Talking into a phone while staring at your outline-notes in dead silence is a little nerve-wracking! But, I never stopped talking (!) and had fun with it.
Here it is: http://youtu.be/TxhKrYgFsIY
Enjoy!!! And please send in your questions! Looking forward to them.
Merry Christmas! In what has become my favorite week of the entire year…I have decided to finally make a decision about the winner of my 2013 Pay It Forward athlete.
First, thanks to everyone who entered. I was touched by all your stories and honestly, wanted to sell my house, SUV and start a non-for profit organization to do more with my time and energy – You all are amazingly inspiring!
Courtney Javorski is the winner! Courtney is a 35 year old mother of two (teenager + toddler) and has always dreamed about doing an Ironman. During the pregnancy of her 2nd child, she was diagnosed with cancer. Courtney went through all the chemo, radiation, drugs and every thing else to beat cancer. Two years later, her cancer came back. Here is an exert from her email to me:
Things were looking up & I was about to hit my 2 year mark of being cancer free in June of 2011, but on April 20th of that year, (I’ll never forget the date cause triathlon season was getting started) during one of my many scans I was told that cancer had come back. Devastated, blind-sided, and confused were only some of the emotions I was feeling. I was given such good odds, 90 percent chance it would never return. How could I be that 10 percent?! Depression set in as everything that followed happened so fast. I began my chemo & radiation treatments in May & had some not so pleasant side effects. Skin blistering & darkening, bruising from needles & shut down veins, loss of appetite, fatigue…
Of course, in addition to the challenges of cancer itself, Courtney also has the financial, personal and professional challenges that rear their ugly head when we go through a life- altering illness.
I am hoping, with some help from me, Courtney can reach her goal of crossing an Ironman finish line in 2013!
Courtney will start blogging in the New Year, so she can keep you updated on her journey.
Merry Christmas & Happy 2013!