Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ironman Fever

Today is my 2 year anniversary of my first Ironman - IMLP 2010!

That was also hands-down my favorite Ironman - best finishing time (12:18), best course scenery, most fun overall experience, racing with over 10 other teammates/friends, having Mary and my parents there as well as some friends. I got some of those things with my other 2 Ironmans, but not all of them. That's what happens when it's the "local" Ironman.. probably from now on I will know at LEAST one person racing IMLP!

I am starting to get a little of my Ironman fever back. I keep toying with the idea of registering for Ironman Mont Tremblant next month, but I am 99% sure I am going to wait until 2014. First of all, I think I need another year off from it. Going from a bad race season into an Ironman season is not exactly the mental preparation that I need. I would rather have a GOOD race season next year (*fingers crossed*) and then tackle Ironman again the following year. Second of all, I am starting graduate school next year and I'm not sure I want to juggle a new grad. school program AND Ironman training AND working shifts all at the same time. Maybe after I am settled into a routine with school, work, and regular training I would be able to handle it. And last of all, I just don't have the money for it right now. Or at least, I don't want to put the money into it (registration fees, travel expenses, passport renewal, etc.). Instead, I am close to having enough money to buy a Quarq Powermeter! So that is something that I am really excited about!

So I doubt I will even need someone to hide my credit card on August 20th! I have pretty much talked myself out of it. :)

Seriously.. why the f*&% do I even want to do more Ironmans? They are time consuming, they hurt like hell, they are expensive, yet..

 I still don't feel like I am done with the distance..

Or maybe I am just that much of an idiot.

(No commenting on that please!).

Carry on, my friends. :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

best laid plans..

OK first of all I want to say:

CONGRATS TO ALL YOU IRONMAN LAKE PLACID-ERS!! Special congratulations to Jennie Hansen on her 2nd OA pro finish in her debut Ironman, her husband Dave getting 4th in the M25-29 age group (also his debut Ironman), my Bradford County, PA friends Rachel and Mike Murphy (they crossed the line together!), Rochester QT2 athlete Tim Karch, and famous Rochester neurosurgeon K-Dub! Also many more that I am forgetting I'm sure. I wish I could have been there cheering like last year, but with our short-handed staff at work and me taking last Sunday night off, I just didn't want to do it. Plus, that's a really long drive to be making alone. But I was thinking about you all (and stalking tracking you too) all day!


I had a really strange week(end) of training.

I had a hard time bouncing back from Musselman last week. I think mostly it was due to being unable to sleep for a few days after the race (and working nights) and also, just running that far on very minimal run training. My legs were killing me through Thursday and mentally I just couldn't get going. I skipped workouts Monday and Tuesday in favor of dying on my couch and/or in my bed, and finally dragged myself out the door on Wednesday to swim (which felt awesome, btw). After that, things went as per usual. Note to self: active recovery is a very real, beneficial thing! All those people that told me to get my ass moving - you were all right! And next time I'll even listen! (Maybe.. I am nothing if not stubborn as hell).

Saturday I was scheduled for a 3 hour ride (no rest for the weary) so I mapped out a loop and rode from Mendon Ponds Park. I didn't get started until 11 am or so because I didn't sleep well that night either (probably because I spent Friday night with my friend Sam having a few drinks and then watching JAWS). I may never get into open water again. My ride really went well, especially since I was expecting it to be horrible. It was beautiful out, it was a new loop, and even when I ran into major construction on the road I was supposed to be riding on (giant rocks on the road instead of pavement for miles), I just looked at google maps on my trusty iPhone and found a way around. My 30 minute transition run did NOT go well. I ran ok for 10 minutes, then just kept getting hot, dizzy, and eventually walked the last 10 minutes in.. couldn't figure out why this happened (nutrition on the bike was good) but as I was reflecting on the day before (Friday), I had worked until 5 am, then went home and slept til 11:30 am, then I had to get up and go to a retirement party for a newly retired coworker. That is where I ate my ONLY meal of the day and it was not-good eggplant parm so I ate like 1/10 of what I actually got. Oh, and then I went to the pool and swam, showered again, and went back out where I had 2 drinks and stayed up until midnight-ish.

Really.. not the best planning in the world. It was a stupid thing to do but I honestly didn't even realize that I had barely eaten all day until I really was troubleshooting the problem as I walked back to my car after the failed T-run. My appetite and eating schedule are so f-ed up when I work nights.. I know I don't eat enough because I am never hungry (or I am hungry at really weird times, such as right before I go to sleep at 8 am) or I am nauseous from not sleeping.. it's definitely not good for me. I KNOW that affects my workout motivation on those weeks of nights! Something to work on for sure. I am still having difficulty balancing my training with my social life but I refuse to go back to hermit-land where I lived for the past 2 years!

Sunday I ran 1:13 at 7:30 am (which is definitely early for me). It was in the upper 60s so I started out actually wearing a shirt - SHOCKING, I know - but that stayed on for 4 minutes before I was too hot, and I left it sitting on top of one of those power box things at a red light - picked it up on my way back. The run went well for about 45 minutes and then my pace kept getting slower and slower. My running is so frustrating this year and I don't know what else to do about it.. Happily, getting up at 7 caused me to be done with my workouts by 10:30!

Later I went to see "The Dark Knight Rises" since I had some time to kill Sunday afternoon and I didn't really know anyone else that wanted to go see it. I haven't decided how I feel about it (and I don't want to spoil anything) other than a) it was really long and b) I froze my ass off for 2 hours and 45 minutes in the theater. I've had this weird things with motorcycles lately and if I could ride the crazy Bat-cycle thing (without accidentally killing myself) I might die happy. Oh, and Joseph Gordon Levitt is H-O-T with a capital H. I just want to hug him! (Naked hugging....?). I do love hugs.............. and I'm rambling.

And because everyone loves a post with photos.. here are some from Musselman!

typical mid-race "Alexa refuses to smile at photographer" aero photo
VERY typical "Alexa stares at Garmin with confused look on face" photo!
I actually left out the typical "Alexa's ass looks gigantic" photo that Brightroom got of me running from the swim exit to transition.. a sopping wet race kit hanging off of me = not flattering. And I thought my wetsuit made me look big. I'm sorry to whoever had to follow me and look at that! The tri kit in general is just not a flattering outfit on me! Haha.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

triathlete dating fail

Trying to date while being an active triathlete is hard.

If you manage to land a date with a "regular" (AKA - non-athlete) person (why would you want to do this anyways?!), prepared to be blown off due to having an "extreme" lifestyle. Your personality might be great, but you are crazy for riding your bike for 3 hours, because who would ever want to do that?! Isn't it cooler to eat nachos while sitting on the couch?

If you try to date someone who is a single sport person (runner, or swimmer, or cyclist) it will work out for a while, but then you will convince them to try a triathlon because you are super awesome, and then you will beat them (since you are seasoned), and if you are a woman.. well they won't like that!

If you actually manage to meet another triathlete (bonus if they are rich) - great! But if you're both Ironman triathletes.. prepare to never see each other because you are both on your respective 6 hour rides that are probably conflicting since you can't ride together due to gender/speed discrepancies.

This is why I have a cat. :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Musselman 2012 and the Golden Shower

Sunday I raced the Musselman half-IM. It was my first half since Syracuse 70.3 in 2010. I am exciting to get back into the "middle distance" of triathlon racing because I feel like I can (hopefully) be pretty successful in this distance. Hopefully, someday. Although I am starting to think that my race career peaked at age 26. That is really depressing and I try not to think about it.

MusselBaby that came in the packet!!

Yesterday did not reflect on my "maybe I could be good at 70.3s" idea AT ALL.

Fair warning: this was not a good race for me. My race report will reflect that. Sorry that I can't spin it positively. Sometimes shit just sucks.

I woke up at 4 am to get showered, dressed, eat, and hit the road at 4:45 am. I was wearing my new Johnson & Johnson tri kit! I got to transition about an hour later and saw Jill, Solveig, Jeremy, and John on my way in. I don't know how I can be so loud and excitable before 6 am.. it's just something about the race atmosphere that gets me going! I was setting up in transition and my blog friend Anne-Marie was at the rack next to mine, so we chatted about the race, the weather, etc. Soon after, it was announced that the water temperature was 78.8 so the race would be non-wetsuit legal. I decided to follow their call and swim without my wetsuit for 2 reasons: a) I didn't want to risk overheating in my full length wetsuit and b) if something crazy were to happen and I had a really good race, I didn't want to disqualify myself from any sort of award. That is just not a chance I am willing to take no matter what kind of shape I am in. Plus, it's good practice for races in the future where I really might be in contention for an award - at least now I will have one non-wetsuit swim under my belt! I was going off in the 6th wave, so I had like 45 mins to kill after they closed transition but before my wave was going off, so I stood around, talked to some people, didn't really get hit by any nerves. The weather was in the 70s already so it was promising to be hot and muggy, but at least there was cloud cover. There were also thunderstorms in the forecast.

Since I had opted to not wear my wetsuit, I was standing around in my tri kit, holding my cap and goggles, for 25 minutes because I was in wave #6 out of 7 total waves. I saw a few people at this point as well as was discovered by another Johnson & Johnson employee from New Jersey, and she was actually the woman that mailed my race kit to me! Such a small world! Anyways, they finally called for the light blue wave and I went into the coral, and then waded out into the lake - it felt cooler than I expected. Jeff yelled "GO" and we were off! Because I wasn't wearing my wetsuit and about half of the wave was, I started off to the right so I wouldn't get trampled. There were pretty decent waves coming towards the shore that were a little challenging to swim through out to the first two buoys and then parallel to the shore, but not too horrible. There was also LOTS of seaweed and I'm pretty sure I swam into a dead fish at one point (I could smell something rotting and something cold and nasty smacked into my face). Those two things would ordinarily cause me to completely freak out in open water, but during a race I can somehow tuck my fear of all things slimy in the back of my head and proceed to swim even with seaweed draped across my face. The water temperature was perfect for a no-wetsuit swim, and I would have been dying in my full-sleeved wetsuit, so I'm glad I went without. Once we turned towards the shore, we had the waves pushing us in, and then we had the current in the canal and the river. My swim time was only 2 minutes slower than my best half-IM swim time which I earned while wearing a wetsuit, so I was definitely happy with it.

Awesome because I didn't have to struggle with my wetsuit!

I hopped on my bike and started out feeling good through the park. I was happy with my swim time and was thinking to myself that I might have a decent race after all! I was pushing pretty hard and passing a bunch of people as I was heading out of Geneva, and then realized that I wasn't racing a sprint tri and I should probably slow down. At this point, I realized I had no idea how to pace this thing because I hadn't raced anything but a sprint tri or an Ironman in 2 years! I was supposed to race by heart rate but it was totally spiking and I couldn't get it to come down. I'm not sure if it was the heat, the adrenaline, the fact that it was sliding down my stomach, or my stupidity that was making it so high.

Five minutes into the ride I knew it wasn't going to be a fun trip. I felt like I have absolutely no gas in the tank whatsoever. I could either cruise along at 16 mph and try to ride via HR, or I could try to push it a little and see if I could get my legs moving. I decided to go with the second option. It didn't help that the first 1/3 of the course is slightly uphill, and there was a headwind for the first long section. Even though I knew these elements were factoring into my slow speed, it was still discouraging. I was riding with Karin K. right in the beginning of the course (although it took me 30 mins to figure out who it was that kept talking to me as we played leapfrog!). She was riding better than I was so I decided to try to stick with her and at least that would give me something on which to focus. This worked for a while, and then we hit 414N which had JUST been paved and we had a tailwind, and I saw my speed hold steady in the 23-24 mph zone, and I started to feel better and that all hope was not lost. And then, the thunderstorms that were forecasted, hit. Hard. It started out with thunder, and then lightning, and then the rain started pouring down - I was drenched within 10 seconds. It was pelting me in the eyeballs underneath my sunglasses (thank god I changed the lenses to the less tinted ones), they were fogging up, and I could barely see. There was an inch of standing water on the road that was really freaky to ride through. Basically I just kept a death grip on my handlebars and tried to stay as far right as possible so that a car or other cyclist wouldn't hydroplane into me! It was at this point in the race where I just mentally gave up. I kept hoping that one of the giant lightning bolts would strike me down. Or that they would call off the race due to the thunderstorm. Or that I would flat and someone could drive me back to transition. Horrible, negative things. I just didn't want to be out there. I am not proud of this, but I guess it happens. But there I was, out in the middle of nowhere, in the rain, in the middle of a race, refusing to stop no matter how much it sucked. (Although I did consider stopping at one of the many wineries I was riding by to drown my sorrows).

 The rain continued until I reached Cayuga Lake (so I crawled down the steep downhill as slowly as possible) and then it started easing up. I was able to pee once on that downhill.. the rain just made it that much easier! By this point, I had lost Karin and I felt even crappier. I felt crappy for a long time. I tried to stay on top of my nutrition, although the deathgrip for the 30 minute deluge might have hindered that a little bit.

 I started to feel good at mile 50. Seriously? Six miles left and that's when my body decides that it is ok with racing. Of course, this had NOTHING to do with the tailwind that we were getting as we were heading north back to Geneva! By now, the rain had been gone for a while and the roads were actually starting to dry. As I was riding, I felt a few drops hit my face, so I wondered if it started raining again and looked up. Turns out, it was not rain, it was the guy that had just passed me peeing.. and it was blowing onto my face. I GOT PEED ON. Yes folks, it was my first (and please god hopefully my last) golden shower. As grossed out as I was, I do this as well (although I try to check behind me first) so I couldn't really be mad. Only in triathlon.....
3:06:57, 18.1 mph

Not much to be said here. My shoes and socks were already soaked despite my having covered them up with a Wegmans bag.

photo by Solveig who did the AquaBike
I saw Matt K. immediately after leaving transition, and he took a photo of me waving at him (which I am still waiting to see!). I felt really good running through the park. I cheered for the top guys who were coming in (and also was very jealous that they were almost done!). I also saw my friends Erin and Steve (they raced the day before) at the Ramada and they cheered for me both times I ran by which was super awesome of them! I actually felt good running for the first 5 miles or so. And then I started to get hot and my legs hurt. My longest run this year has been one hour and six minutes long due to my knee injury, so I was worried about how long I would be able to run strong. I was also worried that my knee pain would flare back up. It didn't feel 100% while I was running, but it didn't do anything alarming enough to cause me to stop. I was running right with Jill for a while but she was running better than me and eventually passed me for good. I also sprained my ankle (for real) running up Barracks Rd., which is a steep, rocky, dirt road right around mile 7. I ran halfway up then rolled my ankle, then walked the rest of the way. I am no stranger to a sprained ankle, so once I got to the top, I just ran on it. So that was fun. By this point I knew I wasn't going to beat my 2009 Musselman time (my first 70.3 ever and slowest 70.3 time) and was looking at a PW. I just was hoping to stay under 6 hours. Which I managed to do.. barely. The downhill sections were ok, but I am not a great downhill runner and I had 2 sore quads, a bad knee, and a bad ankle to contend with! Running back through the park is always 1000x worse than when you're first starting, as well. It's flat but it's soooo boring. I guess I just don't have many positive things to say about this run other than I didn't screw my knee up which was my main concern.
2:06:42, 9:32 min/mi

Finish: 5:53:07, 13 AG, personal worst time by 13 f-ing minutes!!!

The good things about the race.. well the race itself is fantastic. The packets always have awesome stuff in them - this year I got all natural peanut butter, a tech shirt, shampoo/conditioner, and an adorable stuffed "MusselBaby." It's always well-organized and runs smoothly. And I love seeing all of my triathlon friends that I really only see either at Kershaw Park or at races. I got to meet some new people too!

Also, it was a COMPLETE reality check about where I am this season. I am NOWHERE near where I was supposed to be due to circumstances that were not my fault. However, maybe I can stop screwing around and actually get some quality training in.. and maybe Timberman in August won't be quite as bad? I have to stop comparing races. I raced a 5:16 at Tinman 4 weeks out from IMLP but that was at Ironman-level fitness. And I had a perfect race. This was not a perfect race, and I am not even in half-IM condition, let alone Ironman shape! I have to learn to look at a race for what it is relative to my training and not relative to every single race I have ever done in my entire life.

And luckily, I found some fun post-race things to do too. So that made my day better and I didn't sit around dwelling on a bad race! :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Letter of the Week is "M"

M is for Musselman on Sunday. ( My first big race of the year! Although I am not as well prepared as I would like to be, I have gotten further in my training over the past month and a half than I thought I would. Running is starting to feel normal again, although every step I take I worry that I am going to hurt my knee again. Should be a fun day - lots of my friends will be out there! Will also be hot, as usual!

M is for Magic Mike which I am going to see tonight with some other ladies who "appreciate" the male form. I think that is all I have to say about that.. :)

M is for Green Mountain Coffee.. which is what has been fueling me this week (is this the longest week ever or what?).

M is for Mornings which I DO NOT LIKE!

M is for Michael Jackson dance parties on the weekends, and then walking 1.6 miles each way to a bar that has a cover, and then realizing that you are too drunk to be drinking any more and need to drink water. (That is not something I did last weekend or anything..).

M is for My life is pretty awesome. :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The right one will come along

The right one will come along.

How many times a week do I hear that sentence? The right job. The right relationship. The right race. So many applications for that one phrase!

Yet, I don't believe in fate. I don't believe that my life will culminate with some pre-determined "moment" in which I have no say. I don't believe in destiny. Or some god's master plan.

The perfect job isn't going to fall into my lap. In order to find a different job, I have to network, practice my interviewing skills, keep my resume up-to-date, and actually seek out and apply for positions. I have to do extra work at my job so that I am more qualified. I have to do my best in order to do better in a new position. I can't just sit around moaning my existence and assume that things will get better on their own.

And if I want to meet someone to be in a relationship with.. forget it. I hear so many conflicting theories. I have to online date. I have to be proactive. I have to do nothing and wait for someone to pursue me. I have to meet someone "organically." What I DO know is that what I am currently doing (which is nothing) does not work. I am not the kind of person that is going to meet someone in line at a coffee shop and get married to them a year later. Things like that just don't happen to me. I take a very proactive stance on life and that is in direct opposition to how dating is supposed to work. I am the woman so I am supposed to be "chased." I'm sorry, but I can't sit still for that and I don't have the patience for it either.

If I want the "perfect" race (which does not actually exist), I have to put in the time to train. I have to sacrifice other areas of my life in order to get in all of my training hours. I have to learn how to execute my nutrition flawlessly. I have to pick races that play to my strengths and then overcome my mental demons once I am racing. I have to believe in myself as an athlete and know how to race right to the edge of my ability. A great race doesn't just happen. It's something you do. Something you work towards and achieve.

So I cannot live by that motto - that the right one will come along. I just cannot sit there and be a passenger in my own life. And if I never get a better job, or meet a great guy, or have the best race of my life, at least I will know that I tried and didn't just sit around waiting for things to get better.