Saturday, October 9, 2010

Destin Crab Trap Triathlon

I've missed posting a race report for my last couple of races.  To bring everyone up to speed, I completed the Beach Blast Olympic Distance Triathlon in Mexico Beach and had a great time.  I also did the Montgomery Half Marathon and set a PR of 2:04.  This afternoon, I'm relaxing at the Seascape Condo in Destin and have no reason not to post a race report.

The day started early.  Transition opened at 5 am so I got to the transition area around 5:30 to ensure a good place on the bike rack.  Lesson Learned:  Bring a headlamp.  The other tri's I've done were either well lit or the sun was already coming up.  Fumbling around in the dark to set up everything is no fun.  Also, when in doubt, bring a light jacket.  It didn't seem that cool when I walked out on the balcony this morning but that's because I couldn't feel the wind.  It was definitely a bit brisk.

7:00  Start time.  I was in the second wave to go out.  The water was relatively calm but there was a definite current.  I could be wrong but I could swear (and everyone I talked to said this too) the swim was longer than 400 yds.  My stroke was off and I just couldn't settle into a good rhythm.  Once or twice, a couple of the Clydesdales attempted to drown me by swimming over the top of me.  I didn't freak.  I just kept on swimming.  On a happy note, NO jellyfish!

T1.  I'm never as quick in my transitions as I'd like but this one went smoothly.  Rinsed feet with my water bottle to get the sand off.  Lesson Learned:  Bring a small plastic tub for water to rinse feet.  I saw a lot of people with them and thought "what a great idea".

Bike:  I would like to personally thank every "fat tire" riders because you have no idea how much of a boost I get by passing someone on the bike.  I don't mean that as a joke.  Major props to those guys and gals.  The bike course was great.  Flat and fun.  I purposely didn't wear my Garmin today on the recommendation of my good friend, Walter, to just go out and have fun and not worry so much about my time.  So I have no idea what my avg mph was and they didn't have the breakout of it posted at the end.  I am definitely not the strongest on the bike but I enjoy riding and that's how I took this portion of the race.

T2.  Racked bike.  Bike shoes off, running shoes on (sans socks) and was a little worried about the amount of sand on my feet.  It didn't give me a problem during the run.

Run:  By far, my strongest portion of a triathlon.  No idea on pace or time for the 5k run but it didn't take too long for my legs to loosen up and I felt pretty good.  Nice out and back course with a turn at the end that took me up a couple of hills I never saw coming.

Finishing time:  1:21.  A PR for a sprint triathlon.  Way better than my 1:50 time at Oak Mountain.

Post race party was great.  There was a sandwich truck there making three kinds of paninis.  YUM!  Lots of awards were given out and there were a lot of winners from Montgomery.  Montgomery had a large showing for this race.  I'm definitely glad I decided to come down and do it and I'm already planning to do it again next year.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Breaking Out of My Comfort Zone

I’ve been running for quite a few years now. If you follow what I’m doing, you know I’ve recently transitioned to training for triathlons. The switch came from this idea that I was never going to be as fast as my runner friends so I would just start doing something that not all of them were doing. I’ve always run around a 10-minute mile and, up until recently, I’ve been perfectly okay with that. But now I’m not. I keep seeing people I know, that are just starting to run, getting better and faster and I’m still going at the same pace I had 6 or 7 years ago. So what’s the problem? A friend of mine has pointed out more than once, I just don’t push myself. And I don’t train to get any faster. I might train for distance, but that’s it. I’m not knocking that. I’m pretty darn proud of my running most of the time, but now I want more.

So what am I going to do about it? Well, it’s pretty obvious. I’ve got to start training like a “real” runner. I’ve got to stop making excuses for myself. And I’ve got to push. Like with anything else, if you want something really badly, you usually have to work for it. I’m not even sure what my goal is yet. I just know I want to get stronger and faster. Typically, when I set my mind on something, I will get it done. So it’s time for me to buckle down. Thankfully, I’m blessed with a few friends that I trust for advice, encouragement, and “tough love”. And, yes, I am doing my own research as well. I’m reading up on fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers and I’m boring to tears anyone who will listen to me talk about my newly gained knowledge of these subjects.

As outgoing as people “think” I am, I’m not comfortable in situations where I’m the “newbie”. I don’t go out seeking people. I typically wait for them to find me and I hope that I’ll be in the right place at the right time to be folded into a new circle. I’m at a place in my life, though, where I’m saying to myself, “What do you have to lose? You’ll probably end up gaining if you just put yourself out there. You’ll be no worse for the wear either way.” So I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and I’m starting to engage people. I did this recently by meeting up with a group of cyclists I’d never met before and that I knew were going to be faster than me. And you know what? I had a great time. They were friendly and helpful and gave me such a positive experience. So I’m doing that with everything now. What’s the worst that can happen, right? Someone isn’t nice to me. So what? I’ll get over it. It’s a risk I’m willing to take to gain new friends and to get better at the things I want to do.

So that’s it. Those are my thoughts for today. I’m at a good place. And I’m excited about where I’m going. And I thank all the people, in advance, that are going there with me, if even by just saying a word of encouragement that might get me through that next mile.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Healthy Balance (Is it a Myth?)

Oh how I’ve missed blogging! I had some time this morning and got on the computer to catch my faithful readers up on where I’ve been lately. As I was typing, it dawned on me that my theme seemed to be how busy I’ve been lately and how I’ve been struggling to find that comfortable balance between being a working mother, training for a triathlon, half-marathon, etc, and attempting to have somewhat of a social life, all at the same time.

So what have I been doing? Well, a few days after my first triathlon, I went on vacation to Disney World with my 4-year old son, my good friend Allison, and her family. It was awesome. Ever I since I got back, though, it seems as if I have not slowed down. I’ve figured out in the last few months that I am a touch obsessive. When I started training for a sprint triathlon, I didn’t expect it to become such a huge part of my life. However, I find myself trying to find time to get training in and, let me assure you all, triathlon training is time consuming. Actually, ANY training program is time consuming. When I was training for my first half-marathon last year, I loved almost every minute of it, but I was glad to have it over with to take a rest. I told a lot of people that my training was so regimented that I felt like it took an enormous amount of time. Now that I’m training for another triathlon, I realize that trying to fit three sports in instead of one is every bit as time consuming and then some. It might not be for some except I’ve been kind of “winging it” as far as being on a program goes. I’ve read a lot and done plenty of research but when it comes down to it, I have to be pretty flexible.

If triathlon training was all I had to do, time might be a non-issue. However, I have more to do than train. First and foremost, I am a single mom. Part of the reason I jumped into running and now triathlons has been to kind of take the sting out of not having my son all the time, although I do have him quite a bit. I won’t go into the details of all that but it’s been a tough couple of years that has required a lot of acceptance and growth. That being said, I think for every thing I can’t control, I try to substitute something I can. Obviously, the formula for that does not compute. There are too many things that I can’t control to balance with things I can. But, my goodness, I try to do a lot. Oh yeah, and I work a full-time job.

Now I’m not telling you all this to say how awesome I am at juggling or anything like that. I love most things I do. I guess my point is to say that I’m discovering that it is hard to find that place between a healthy balance and an obsession for training. And really, isn’t it that way with anything? I’ve seen people try to balance their obsession with work, relationships, WoW, etc. and it’s hard for me to understand how someone can become obsessed with online gaming for crying out loud. But the online gamer might say that I’m a total freak for wanting to push my body to a new threshold of pain. I had a conversation with my friend Drew (an avid runner and a new triathlete) the other day about swimming and he said “You’re abs should be sore tomorrow” and I said “Gosh I hope so” and we talked about how crazy it is to wish for pain. So before this post gets too long or too off-topic, I guess I’m just sharing that I’m in a season of my life where I’m really trying to find that healthy balance to be and do all the things I want to be and to do. And I know it can be done. At least I think it can, right? Don’t other people find that?

So that’s where I’ve been. No time to blog but I’m about to change that and keep you all (and myself) up to date with triathlon training…and half-marathon training since I decided to go ahead and do the Montgomery Half. If anyone has any wisdom on how to find that Zen place of balance, please comment to this post. The world wants to know.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Race Report – Alabama Sports Festival Triathlon

I am officially a triathlete!!!!!! If anyone had told me a few months ago I would do a triathlon, I would have laughed in their face. But when I went to the Gulf Coast Triathlon and had so much fun, I knew I had to try it out myself. Six weeks of training led me to today! My friend Keith told me that he would do my first triathlon with me and I held him to it. Below is our pic after the race. Chris rode up with him and helped cheer us on and take pictures. My Montgomery peeps, Allison and Justin, also came up and I really am so very, very blessed to have such great friends. I love you all! Now to the race!

The venue was Oak Mountain State Park. Remind me not to do my first triathlon up the side of a mountain. Oh wait. Nevermind. I already did! Packet pick-up started at 6:30. We got there a little late but it was no big deal because the youth race was first. Let me start by saying those little kids are awesome! I was so impressed with their determination! And they were so darned cute! Once the kids were finished, the adult racers were called in to hear the rules and course directions. By this time, it was already past 8:30 and it was HOT!

The Swim—I think I’ve mentioned that I’m not a great swimmer. And today was no different. We started single file in 5 second intervals and I felt pretty good at first. As soon as people started passing me, I got psyched out and it fell apart from there. One of my objectives for this race was to learn what to expect. I learned that 1) I need to seriously focus on my swimming. It is by far my weak point. 2) I need to mentally prepare for the swim. I really just got messed up about it. 3) I need to get out of the pool and practice more open water swimming. I’ve been somewhat joking when I said I would be the last one out of the lake. Well, I wasn’t last but I was definitely slow and there weren’t a whole lot of people behind me. However, I reached the shore (exhausted) and proceeded to transition 1.  I did manage to have a smile and I'm sure it was from something Chris had said as he was motivating me after the swim.  See below.

T1—Not bad. Rinsed my feet, put on shoes and helmet, and was on my way.

The Bike—Holy Moly. I’m not quite sure why I thought that this course would have minimal rolling hills. The state park is called “Oak Mountain” for a reason. I’ve only had my bike for a couple of months so I don’t have a lot of experience but that was the hardest bike ride EVER. It literally went uphill for what seemed like an eternity. At one point, I thought I might have to dismount and push the bike up the hill. On the flipside of that, the downhills were great. I coasted most of them because I was easily going 30mph and, once, I was actually a little scared. Don’t let me confuse you, though, thinking that it was uphill the first half and down the second. Oh no. There were a lot of steep hills in each direction. Made it back a little under an hour which was what I was kind of thinking so I felt pretty good about that. It also helped a lot to see my friends again all cheering me on through transition 2. And I manage to dismount my bike without falling so props to me for that!

T2—Racked my bike, pulled off bike shoes, slipped into running shoes (sans socks for both), pulled off helmet, slipped on sunglasses, visor, race belt, ate a Gu, and I was off on the run.

The Run—I’ve done the bike to run a couple of times so I knew to expect my legs to feel like blocks of lead…and they did. I kind of jogged with short steps and was certain I was probably barely moving. I didn’t wear my Garmin and just had a watch on but the first few minutes seemed to go by pretty quickly so I thought “I’ve got this!” I also knew that there were still some people behind me and, if I wanted to keep it that way, I was going to have to perform on the run. It was encouraging to hear the other runners that were headed back saying “good job” and “keep going”. I don’t know if everyone is like this but I feed on that. When I think there is no way I can take another step, a positive word will give me strength. Okay, so the first half of the run was uphill. Come on! Seriously? But I knew the second half would be down so I just kept running. When I got to the turnaround, the volunteer said “You run looks strong.” I said “Thanks. I’ve been running for awhile but swimming and biking is new to me. He said “You should be proud of yourself. This is a tough course.” And with that, I smiled and ran a little faster on the way back. The run was definitely the strongest leg of the race for me. I felt really good after the first five minutes or so and even better after mile 1. By the time I got to the finish line, I was beaming from ear to ear. I threw my arms up and basked in my finish. I finished a triathlon. I FINISHED A TRIATHLON! And my awesome friends were there supporting me.

In typical Shannon fashion, I had a hard time just accepting “You did great” and “Good job”. I said “Yeah, but…” I’m really working on that. After awhile, the disappointment about the swim went away and I started appreciating that I set a goal and I followed through with it. I’m not sure of my chip times yet but the gun time was 1:52 so I finished under 2 hours. I could not be more thrilled. I have a new goal in mind but I’m not going to blog about it yet. As Allison advised, I’m just going to “enjoy today and this race and don’t think about tomorrow.” Until tomorrow.  
NOTE:  I will be posting more pics and video later.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

T Minus 11 Days til Triathlon!

I’m about a week and a half out from my first sprint triathlon and I’m starting to think “Do I even have a clue what I’m doing?” First of all, I didn’t follow a training plan like I would with a running race. That’s probably because I decided to do this well under any training plan timeframe. Most were 12 weeks and I think I decided about 6 weeks out. So I’m pretty much winging it but, hey, it’s not like I’m going couch to triathlon or something. Right? I hope. Don’t mind that I signed up THEN bought a bike and THEN got some swim lessons. Whatever. I’ve got this! Right?

I got the first spill on my bike out of the way a few days ago. On about mile 30 of a 34.5 mile bike ride, we pulled up to a traffic signal and (just like I’d been warned I would do at some point) I clipped out on one side of the bike and leaned to the other. Luckily, I landed on the meaty part of my leg and nothing was hurt to include my bike. A friend of mine told me later “Falling is funny, crashing is scary”. Yikes!

My swimming has really come together from when I started. I’m pretty darned proud of myself even though when I got out of the pool last night at the Y, a guy I just met said “swimming is my weak point too”. I was like “What? Did I look weak?” He recovered by saying “Not at all but I can tell you’re a runner.” Hmmm. Okay. I feel good about my bike rides except that I haven’t seemed to pick up any speed! That’s okay. Practice Practice Practice. The run I’m not too worried about but I know it is going to be crazy hot on the 19th and around 10 am by the time I start that portion. That brings me to another thing I’ve learned recently. Hydration!

Over-hydrating is always a concern when I’m running. I definitely don’t want to dehydrate but can’t stand that sloshy feeling in my tummy either. A lot of times, I’ll just swish water and spit it out. On the bike, that’s not an issue but it seems that on really long rides, I can’t keep enough fluids ON the bike. I go through my water bottle in a hurry. So I’m going to mount another bottle cage or get one of those large water reservoirs that attaches at the handlebars.

So, again, I’m still not sure I have any idea what I am doing or what to expect at the triathlon. I asked one friend for advice on the transitions and he just said “Don’t forget to put your shoes on.” Okay, easy enough. Everything seems to take me a long time to do. I’m planning to go very minimalist on this. No gloves, no socks, etc. Just the basics. That’s the latest. Will keep you posted. I’m starting to get nervous. Eeek!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Mama's Got New Shoes...And Pedals!

I thought when I bought my bike there was no way I’d ever be able to do clipless pedals (which you actually clip onto but they’re called clipless. Whatever). Two weeks of LOVING my bike and I knew I had to take the plunge, even if that means a painful one. So I did a little research, asked a few friends that have bikes, consulted with good friend and training partner Allison, and decided on some Speedplay pedals. The selling point for me was that you can clip in on either side of the pedal. With my poor coordination, that is worth the extra money.

I need to give another shout-out to Steve at The Bike Shop in PC because that guy has put some time and effort into making my biking successful.
It was Saturday and he was crazy busy but, while helping other customers, he was putting the clips on my shoes, had someone putting the pedals on my bike, and quickly had me in the trainer helping me get used to clipping in and out and giving me tips. When I told him I had signed up for my first triathlon, he even told me some swim drills that would help with my breathing and balance. I left there feeling much more confident than when I walked in that day.

Here they are! Yes, my pedals are pink and my shoes match my bike! I’m a girl and I love it!

The following morning I met Keith for what started earlier in the week as a bike/run brick and turned into a “Hey, let’s swim too!” swim/bike/run brick. This was great because it was my first open water swim and helped me get accustomed to the waves, the lack of a line beneath me, etc. Yes, I did swallow yucky, bay water but I’m okay! Got out of the bay, rinsed my feet, and slipped on my new shoes. Keith informed me that I don’t need socks for a sprint. Hey, he’s the Ironman so who am I to question. Once again, he smoked me on the bike. I’m really going to have to figure out how to gain speed. My goal is to hang with him at least for a little while!

Off the bike, slipped into running shoes (sans socks), downed a Gu, and we were off again. I did manage to hang with him for a few minutes but decided I’d better back off if I was going to make my 3 mile goal. He got faster, I got slower. I did start to feel my running legs again after about a mile and managed to average a 10-minute mile pace for 3.22 miles. Mission accomplished! I did all three sprint distances in training! Need to work on my swimming and transitions the most. Oh, and what to do with my hair!!!! It was a mess! Overall, it was a great training morning and I didn’t fall with my new pedals. Woohoo! More to come!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Davis' End of Year Party is tomorrow and I, of course, signed up for cupcakes.  Yes, I could run out and pick up a couple of already prepared containers from Publix or Walmart but where's the fun in that????  And I love baking!  So I looked for cute ideas for a kids party and found Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes.  Super simple and too cute!  The problem was going to be how to transport the cupcakes without them tipping over.  I took a cereal box, traced the bottom of the ice cream cone and cut holes in the box for the cones to sit without falling.  I let Davis put the sprinkles on top and TA DA!!!!!!  Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes!