Monday, September 22, 2014

Coming soon: Ironman 70.3 Augusta!

So after a short weekend of a stuffy nose, sore throat, and major headaches while trying to finish a competition brief, I took some Nyquil last night and woke up this morning about two and a half hours after my first alarm. I vaguely remember looking at my phone and wondering what all those symbols mean, then passing back out. To pry my eyes open at the early hour of 9 am, I started flipping through my twitter and realized it's race week for Augusta!!

No, I am not doing the Augusta Half Ironman this year, though, it is still on my bucket list. Here's why (it's on my bucket list, not why I'm not doing it this year, see above for that reason):

In the summer of 2007, I went to Camp Buckner at West Point, and my bunkmate was an amazing athlete on the West Point Triathlon Team. She was beast. I had never heard of triathlon before, but after she explained it, I thought it sounded pretty cool. I was all about testing my limits. I mean, I volunteered for a summer at West Point, just for fun.

When I moved back to school in VA, I realized those hills where beauty dwells are not good for biking, plus I had nowhere to put a bike during school, so oh well.

Fast forward to September 2009, when I moved to Augusta, GA, for my first Army assignment. The first Sunday I was there, I went downtown for church and saw so many roads blocked off. I figured it was a race of some kind, but upon further investigation over bottomless mimosas, I learned it was actually a half Ironman race. I was completely blown away by the thought of doing that much physical activity in one day.

Also, the aforementioned bunkmate just happened to be racing that day, her first half Ironman, and finished first in her division in 4:31. Like I said, beast. I'm still trying to get my normal half marathon time up to her triathlon time.

This only renewed my interest in triathlon, and it wasn't long before I was swimming and running after class almost every day. My dreams of a race-filled summer were dashed when I got orders to go to Iraq, where I was fairly certain there would be no pool. I was right. There was, however, an XL stationary bike in the gym, and I spent many a Sunday spinning away. My regular workout turned into a 26.2 mile bike, because that just seemed like a good number, but after doing my first unofficial half marathon (literally 4 laps around the base I was at, at 4am, in 85 degree heat), I upped my Sunday spins to 50 miles. I felt like maybe a half ironman wasn't too much of a dream after all.

So, there yo have it. That's how I got started doing triathlons. Augusta is still on my bucket list, since the only year I could reasonably do it, it just happened to fall on my birthday. Maybe next year. Or the year after that. I'm definitely feeling a post-law school half ironman ;)

And good luck to everyone racing!! Augusta is an awesome place to visit, and an awesome place to race! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tri Talk Tuesday: Race Day Plan!

It's another Tri Talk Tuesday linkup, with Cynthia at You Signed Up For What  and Courtney from The TriGirl Chronicles

This week is all about your Triathlon Race Day Plan.

Personally, I think that a race day plan needs to be broken down into different phases: the logistics of before and after, the race elements, and the visualization that prepares you for both. 

  • Part One: Logistics
This should be the easiest part: how do you get you (and all your stuff) to the race, and home again. This is the "print your maps to the expo, make sure you have your ID, bring your phone or make a meetup after plan" part. I can see how this can easily become stressful if you don't prepare properly, so start thinking a week or so in advance! 

  • Part Two: Think it through

This is the guts of your race: nutrition, pacing, transitions, and milestones on the course. A few weeks out from a race, I start pulling up the race maps, taking assessment of how I feel, and forming my actual race plan. This mainly involves pacing. I'll set overall goals for each segment and, if it's a long race, break down the bike into shorter segments. 
Once I have an idea of how I plan on exerting myself, I think out a fuel plan: do I want to refuel mostly on the bike? What water stations are there? Will it be super hot? What do I need before the start? Where do I need to keep my gels? 
I also start planning how I'll set up my transition area, and what I need to pack: do I need socks? Do I need my wetsuit? How many gels/water bottles am I bringing? 

  • Part Three: Visualize 
Of course, besides physically practice things like the transition, it's important to start visualizing all of these little elements. What do I do in transition: will I see my gels, or will I forget them? How about that bike course? Sit down with a bike course video, if they have one, and visualize how often you'll be switching gears. How hilly is the run course? Do you know of a particular part of the run (say, mile 4?) where you know you'll hit an emotional wall and want to quit? Do you need to bring chocolate to avoid that, or will there be crowd support there? 

The most important thing, I think, is to just have some sort of plan before going into a race! Even if it's, run really hard and drink a bottle on the bike, that's better than going in with nothing! My awesome husband always makes me talk through my plan the night before, and usually while I'm waiting for my swim corral. It might be because he's tired of hearing me ramble, but it does help! 

What do you think are the most important parts of a race plan?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Run style: Who doesn't love a fashion show?!

Oiselle had another fashion show!

NYTimes covered it here, and Runner's World covered it here. Hopefully the whole thing will be up on the Youtube soon!

While I don't have too many pieces from Oiselle (just some tees and the mandatory Roga shorts) I just LOVE what they're doing with the industry! Their clothes are legitimately cute, but very functional, and obviously work at the highest level of competition! I also adore their little feather elements, like these pants:

Some of my other favorite brands that I think are really pushing the stylishness of great, functional clothes: Oakley (obviously) and SOAS Racing. Just as a side note, I love the soft orange and light blue that both Oakley and Oiselle have this year!

I also love some of the more athletic-styled clothes at Fashion Week this year. While I don't mind dressing up, I love a dress that shows off my shoulders, like this AMAZING one from Monique Lhuillier:
What's your "run style"? 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Race Recap: Nation's Tri

Who doesn't love another awesome race in downtown Washington, DC?!?! I've been dying to do Nation's Tri ever since I first heard about, despite the Potomac swim, so I was really excited to register and make this the final hurrah for my season.

Here's how it went down:

Saturday afternoon K and I drove down from Baltimore to DC. One of my friends who was also racing was gracious enough to let us crash with her for the night, so I was all packed up with a weekend bag plus transition bag plus nutrition bag plus bike.....lots of stuff to carry around. We drove first to West Potomac Park and decided to park there by transition, then take the shuttle from there to the expo at the Hilton. There wasn't much info about parking during bike racking, just that there would be limited parking and lots of street blocks during the race, so we decided to take the chance.

When we got to the park, we had no problem parking on the street not too far from transition. It was blocked off and made a one way street for the weekend, and lots of people were coming in and out with their bikes. We left the car there, then took the Greyhound shuttle up to the expo. A lot of people were apparently riding their bikes to the expo, then to bike racking, and either taking the shuttle back to the Hilton or taking a bikeshare back to their homes, since the bikeshare right by transition was cleaned out.

The expo was a little tight, and kind of oddly laid out. On walking in, we kind of wandered around a little bit before finding the check in area. After standing in line to walk up to one of the three or four volunteers at check in, they asked for photo ID, USAT card, and two waivers. One of the waivers had been emailed out the week before, but the second one was all new, so the line was pretty backed up with people filling out the second waiver. After that, I took the waiver to pick up my race packet at one of the tables behind the checkin. There, I got my wristband, put my race number on my swim cap, and then was told to go activate the timing chip and pick up a strap at the back of the room. From there, apparently I was supposed to go pick up my shirt and bag, but that was on the other side of the expo. I saw a lot of people wandering around looking for it, and even met people in transition who still hadn't picked up their bags, so they had to go back to the expo just to get their shirts. Poor flow at the expo!!

After wandering around the expo a bit and picking up some new flavors of Gu, K and I stopped at a little French place outside the hotel for a late lunch. We then grabbed the shuttle back to the transition area to rack my bike. I put my stickers on (there was one big number for the bike, as usual, and a tony one for the stem. Looking around, though, people had this tiny one on some pretty random parts of the bike. The sticker sheet also include stickers for special needs bags and swim to bike bag....even though we clearly didn't need them) and then found my spot on the rack. Like Iron Girl, they had stickers on the racks so everyone had a designated spot.

Just as a side note, transition looked HUUUUGE! There were about 25+ rows of racks, and swim/bike in on one end and bike/run out at the other.....this looked like it was going to be a lot of running in transition.

After checking out the in/out portions of transition and the dock for the swim, we headed back to my friends' place for pizza and an early bedtime.

Race Day
Race day came bright and early, as it usually does. I checked my phone first thing to see the weather, and also saw an alert on facebook saying the swim was cancelled! Apparently the heavy rain over night had caused an unacceptable amount of sewage in the area we were supposed to be swimming....implying that there was merely an acceptable level normally. Awesome.

Whenever a major part of a race, or the whole race (see Iron Girl Atlanta 2013), is cancelled, I always have mixed feelings. On the one hand, that's one less thing I have to do! On the other, I trained for that swim! Oh well.....

We still showed up to transition a little after 6, and set everything up. I borrowed someone's pump to pump my own tires this time! Then, we went out to wait.

Apparently, the swim was scheduled to be a time trial start by wave, with the first wave around 7, and the first sprint wave around 9. Now, there were something like 36 waves, and I was in wave I wasn't starting anytime soon. My friend and I just hung out on the street outside our corral and waited with K. And waited some more. We finally got into our corral at about 8:10, and by that time, the announcement came out that the leader was already at mile 3. Of the run. CRAZY! We finally lined up, and we were off! I jumped on my bike, ran out with no problems, and attacked the bike course!

The bike course for Nation's Tri goes through a lot of downtown DC, so there's a lot of room, but some pretty tricky turns. For the most part, it's fairly flat and fast, which is great! I kept my cadence fairly high, and hit over my goal of 18mph for most of the course, except for the turns, which really did slow me down. There were a few moments where I felt comfortable and didn't really push the pace, but caught myself!
Bike: 1:24:32

The transition to the run was pretty fast, and before I knew it I was out on the run course. While I was hoping for a fairly fast run, I haven't ran more than a mile since Iron Girl three weeks ago, so my expectations weren't that high. I think I hit the first water point around 9 minutes, and my pace just went downhill from there. On the upside, I didn't feel drained, but I definitely didn't feel fast. I kept it around my steady ten minute pace going into the last mile, where I did have to stop a few times to shake out my quads.
Heading into the finish chute, I wasn't sure if I would be able to kick it up enough to run all the way through, but the crowd was great! It's hard to run slowly through so much cheering! K even got a real video of my finish this time!
Run: 1:03:26

Overall, I'd say this event was great, and I can't wait to do the whole thing!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Slim Down September: Week One

So, how was week one of Slim Dow September? I guess it went....OK. I can't really rate it because I got so busy with school, the first week literally flew by! I did stick to my slimmed down wardrobe for class, and my outfits are here:
As you can see, I broke down and added the little black dress. It's the Here To There Dress from Lululemon; the first time I tried it on in stores, I just fell in love and HAD TO HAVE IT. The material is amazing! I wore this dress on Friday with my Asics running shoes, because I knew it was going to be a scorcher! It ended up being about 95 degrees, and I literally sweat through this dress walking to school at 9am. It dried out super fast, though, and was perfectly comfy all day long. Plus, it has pockets!
My outfits for the other two days were less remarkable, but still perfectly fine. The trousers were maybe a little warm for this weather, but it's September.

As for unpacking, I have unpacked some boxes, but I keep finding more.....I think they're multiplying. 

Tri Talk Tuesdays: Triathlon Skills Development

I'm linking up with You Signed Up For WHAT?! and The TriGirl Chronicles again for TriTalk Tuesdays!

This week we're writing about triathlon skills development

  • Transition practice
A lot of people call this the fourth discipline: the transitions! Even though it's a very small part of every triathlon, I think transitions are one of the few elements of a race you have total control over, so you might as well make the great!
  • "Block weeks"
Sometimes, to keep from getting bored and also to improve on one particular leg, I schedule "block weeks" into a training plan. This might be a week or sometimes two when I focus primarily on one discipline. For me, this means that I increase the quality and quantity of workouts in, say, running. I'll cut down to maybe two bikes and two swims, then do four or five run workouts in one week, balancing speed, long runs, and bricks. After one of these "blocks," I always feel like I've really improved, so it's a great boost in the middle of a hot summer!
  • Make a plan
Checking off a workout from a long list of workouts on a calendar is also a great motivator! Having a long-term plan is also great for making sure you're keeping your training well-balanced, gives you a chance to plug in "block weeks," adjusting for any planned events like vacations, and just provides a great overall view.

  • Identify a weakness
I'm not going to lie, swimming still makes me freak out a little. That's why this summer I focused on swimming about three days or more each week, and also spent a good amount of time mentally preparing for open water swims. While I felt I improved, both in speed and general aggressiveness in the water, I only had one race in open water this year, so I won't speak too soon! Last summer, as I prepared for the Half-Full Tri, I was doing at least four days a week on the bike to prepare for the distance. If you know you have a weakness, make that your focus! See above re: block weeks ;)

Do you have any other great ideas for developing these skills?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Slim Down September: Class Wardrobe!

As I mentioned earlier, I am making this month Slim Down September! One of the areas I ought to "slim down" is my wardrobe. After moving (again), I have come to realize about 50% of my clothes are probably workout clothes, including race shirts. And by 50%, I mean a lot more. This translates into 1) a lot of t shirts to dig through every morning and 2) my "serious law student" wardrobe consists of race shirts.
In an effort to look more professional in class, stop wearing jeans and a race shirt, and "slim down" my wardrobe (to help me realize what I really need), for the month of September, I am limiting myself to the following seven pieces for class:
- a coral pencil skirt
- a pair of slim maroon trousers
- a white button down
- a white-ish sleeveless lace top
- a grey dotted tee shirt
- a light mesh-sleeve sweater

If you noticed the pic below, I didn't count my sweaters in my seven pieces because I always keep one in my school locker in case they blast the AC, but I don't usually need one. I did not include jeans in my monthly wardrobe because I only have one pair on hand right now, so I need to save them for the weekends, to wear with my race shirts.
I'm not sure why, but I feel picking only a skirt and slim trousers has limited my shoe selection (to not running shoes). Since the weather is still great, I can probably get away with flip flops most days, and my black Nike Frees look great with these trousers (in my mind...but I wore black Nikes with a dress to my cousins wedding), and I have some leopard flats to dress things up (heaven forbid I actually have to wear heels at any point this month/ever). I may add one more piece: a little black dress. We shall see how "formal" my classes get.

September Seven Pieces

Here are my rules so far:
- This applies to the days I have class, that is, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and if I have an "official" event on another day. This does NOT apply on days I only go to study in the library or go to the school gym.
- I can accessorize with whatever I want, and outerwear does not count (such as the cardigans).
- If I haven't worn one of these pieces by the end of the month, then I clearly don't need it.

My only concern so far is in regards to the weather! This week has a high of 85+ every day, but next week will be more around 70. The fluctuations could lead to the need for more layering (which is why I added the mesh-sleeve sweater). Also, I might need to do laundry more often....

Has anyone else done a wardrobe slim down lately?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tri Talk Tuesday: Must Have Gear!

Let's try this again: I'm linking up with You Signed Up For WHAT?! and The TriGirl Chronicles for TriTalk Tuesdays! 

This week's topic: Must have gear! I kind of jumped the gun on this one with a post a few weeks ago about my favorite summer training gear, but let's make it a little more tri specific!

  • Body Glide
You can't get through any amount of activity without this stuff! I use it on my shorts, on my feet and heels, and I've even been known to put some on my arms and shins (for wetsuit removal). It works pretty much anywhere you have a seam!

  • Asics Gel-DS Trainers
I've been running in Asics since I was about 16, and I am loving the recent switch to the Trainers! They're so light and comfy but super supportive around the ankle. I added some elastic laces for a speedy transition, and I'm not missing my Kayanos at all!

  • Race Day kit
Right now, I'm rocking the eagle with my Team RWB kit Zoot top and plain back Zoot shorts (Sorry, I can't do the red crotch). I LOVE SOAS kits for training though (why can't they make the Team RWB kits?!?!), because they're so cute, plus the fit is amazing! I also love running fast with polka dots on ;)

  • Camelbak insulated bottles
I can't even tell you how awesome it is to get a chug of cold water during a long bike ride! These bottles are clutch!

  • My Cannondale Synapse bike, "Alice"

I named it Alice because it's white and blue....and Alice Roosevelt had a song named after her called Alice Blue Gown..."both proud and shy" can't do a tri without a bike that loves you! 

So, there's my top tri gear! I'm getting pretty excited about Nation's Tri (ask K, he made me dinner and I spent most of it rambling about split times....) and I can't wait for this weekend to get here!!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Slim Down September!

Who's ready for September! While I really hate to see summer coming to a close, my birthday is at the end of September, so this month always gets me excited for new beginnings! I have dubbed this month "Slim Down September" in an attempt to remind me to commit every day to one of my new plans.

Here's what I have in store so far:

- TIU Frisky Fall Challenge!
I do like the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan, and I'm excited for the Frisky Fall Challenge! It starts right after my last race for this fall (as of right now), so I won't have to worry about balancing workouts and nutrition and everything else! This will be just another nudge to slim down my meals and plan ahead!

- Unpacking!
As with every other move, I still have boxes left to unpack, even after a month! Granted, a lot of them are K's books and they need a home....but I hate walking past boxes in the hallway every morning. New goal: unpack at least one box (each) every day! This means, actually open the box and take everything out and put it some place! We have a growing pile of empty boxes to take to the recycling center, and a few boxes of random stuff to donate.

- Seven Items Wardrobe
After some debating, I'm committing to sticking with seven items for my class wardrobe! I have already pulled them out of my closet, and started making a few outfits. My rules are pretty lax, but I'm fairly sure I'll have no problem sticking to this for the three days a week I have class!

- Schedule Streamline
Since it's back to school time, it's also time for me to set my schedule for the entire Fall! I have my classes, so I have a good idea of how much prep time I'll need for each class, but I need to plug all the extra curricular events into my schedule. My goal with this is to minimize my distractions, so that when I have something on my schedule, like study for a class, I can focus on just that one class without worrying about when I'm going to have time for whatever else.

Does anyone else have any awesome plans for September?