Endurance

When everything is going well, I feel like I have great physical endurance.  I’m not fast but I can keep moving for a very long time.  However, when it comes to mental endurance, I’m not so great.

Case in point: I found out on Tuesday that I can’t test for my next tae kwon do belt this Friday (the same day that Little Runner is testing) due to not meeting the minimum class attendance for the belt.  I was pretty disappointed and told LR that I wasn’t even going to bother going to the later evening class, as I had already planned, because I still wouldn’t be able to test and I was tired and I just didn’t feel like it.  He looked at me and said “Is that really a good attitude to have? You should still go to class and improve yourself even if you can’t test when you wanted to.”  Of course he was right.  So, I went to class and was glad that I did.

I was thinking about that incident this morning while I was trying not to drown swimming descending intervals (1×400, 2×200, 4×100, 8×50).  I was not hitting my times – at all.  I was being lapped left and right.  It hurt.  I wanted to stop.  A couple of times I was seriously ready to climb out and call it quits.  But, I thought somewhere in the middle of one of the 100s, how will I improve?  If I don’t push when it’s hard, especially when it’s hard, then how can I expect to make it through a long race?  So, even though I wasn’t hitting my times and I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish the entire workout, I kept plugging along. I pushed when I could.  I tried to keep my effort strong and even.  I didn’t let the negative voice in my head distract me.  I got as much done as I could.  In the end, I completed all but 3 of the 50s.  And I’m okay with that.

Training, and life, is hard!  You have to have the mental endurance to keep going, even if you know that you will not meet your desired goal.  Yes, you may fall short this time, and maybe the next time, and possibly the time after that, but one day you will achieve your goal and that can never happen if you walk away from it.

show-up

Race Report: Tri 4 the Chesapeake Sprint Triathlon

Here it is – my last attempt to complete a full sprint triathlon for the year (remember, the first was a disaster and the second had the swim canceled).  I guess the third time was the charm because I actually did it!  I completed the Tri 4 the Chesapeake!

This was the second year for the race and the first time at this time of the year.  It was held at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, MD.  We were promised a nice swim, some challenging bike conditions, and a trail run and they certainly delivered!

Since this was such a small race (only 125 participants), everything was very low-key.  I left my house around 5:30 for the hour drive to the race site to pick up my packet and get ready for an 8:00 start.  Traffic and parking was a breeze.  I walked my bike to the main building where I picket up my packet and then walked 15 minutes or so to transition.  I saw my favorite sign along the way.

It's like they new I was coming!

It’s like they knew I was coming!

The transition area was by the visitors center.  They were using T-Blocks instead of racks and that worked really well except I was on the end by the curb and I had a lot of trouble keeping my front wheel straight and not blocking my neighbor.  The blocks were nice, though, and very easy to use.

My bike is at the far end, by the blue canopy. Picture from thttps://www.facebook.com/TransitionBlocks

My bike is at the far end, by the blue canopy. Picture from thttps://www.facebook.com/TransitionBlocks

There was bike support in transition and they helped quite a few racers before the start. There were real bathrooms inside the center as well as port-a-johns in transition.  I leisurely set up and got my wetsuit halfway on and then listened to the race briefing at 7:45.  After the briefing, we all made our way down to the water where there were two waves – men and then women (I told you it was small!).  I was a bit concerned as to what to do with my glasses as transition was a bit of a walk from the water.  One super sweet volunteer offered to hold them for me during the swim but I found a safe place to put them so she didn’t need to (but how nice was that??).

I had debated on the use of a wetsuit as the water was said to be 74 but, frankly, I could use what help I could get so I wore it.  I’m glad I did because it felt colder than I thought.  It was an in-water start so I had plenty of time to get acclimated before the horn blew.  The swim was uneventful. There were no jelly fish or sea nettles and I had no problems.  I didn’t really push hard as my top goal was to just finish the darn thing so I just took my time.  The only two issues of note were that the buoys were pretty spread out so I was all over the place and there werenot a lot of kayaks or boats out.  It was such a small group that I think they kept a pretty close eye on people but there weren’t a lot of rest options if someone needed it.

Before I knew it, I was out of the water and heading to T1.  I stripped off my wetsuit as I ran walked and was ready to go when I got into transition.  The bike out was at the bottom of a little hill and I cannot clip in on an incline.  I tried 3 times before I sucked it up and walked the bike to the top of the hill.  After that, I had no problems.  We were told that there were 3 speed bumps that we would cross twice (double loop course) and I was super nervous about that.  I cleared the first one and felt a bit better, passed the second with no problem, and took the third just fine.  I was starting to really get going when I noticed the group of racers ahead of me were stopped.  Apparently, one of the access gates had closed and the guy manning it was having some problems getting it open again.  We were just about to walk our bikes around the perimeter when it opened and we were on our way.  I wasn’t doing this race for an PR but it was still annoying to have our momentum shut down like that.  My next surprise was the hard right turn onto the shoulder of a busy road (I suck at hard turns) and then the rather large hill that was waiting for us.  After that, I just had the stretch of potholed and badly paved road to navigate before I got to do it all over again!  Luckily, the gate was open for the second loop and I successfully survived all of the obstacles.

The run was a nice 5K through the woods.  I’m pretty used to trail running but there were many newbies so the race director had spray painted any big roots or other hazards white.  It was pretty funny but very thoughtful.  The trail was very nice and I liked it a lot.  I only got into trouble once when I took a wrong turn and added a little extra loop around mile 2.  The wrong turn was across a little bridge and up a steep hill and I guess the lure of that was just too much for me to resist :)  I was quickly turned back around by a group I had passed earlier.  I was getting a bit tired so I tucked in behind one of the runners and just stayed with him until the last 1/2 mile.  At that point, I told him I was going to go for it and did my best impersonation of a sprint finish.

I crossed the finish line in 1:52. Not fast but hey, I finished!  I received a medal and went to look for snacks.  Thankfully, there were real bathrooms inside the building at the finish line (the same one that held registration) because my face was covered with salt and my eyes were burning.

I couldn't see a thing when I took this picture!

I couldn’t see a thing when I took this picture!

I hung out at the finish a bit and then made the walk back to transition to pack up, walk back to my car, and head for home.

Good

Small race, well organized, fun venue, everyone was super friendly and helpful

Not Good

The gate!  Do something about that gate before next year!

The food at the finish was dry bagels and hot pudding cups.  I would have killed for an orange or banana.  It would also have been nice to have a canopy over the food so the water wouldn’t be warm and the pudding hot.

Overall

This was a fun race, once I got over the self-inflicted terror of the bike.  I would do it again!  If you race it, plan on having fun and closing out your season with an adventure – it is definitely not suited for PRs.

Race Report: Nation’s Triathlon Innaugural Sprint Triathlon

I finally finished a sprint triathlon!  Well, kinda.

Nation’s Triathlon offered a Sprint option this year and I signed up on the day registration opened.  It has a good reputation and I was eager to do something local and iconic. It was supposed to be a warm-up for SavageMan 30.0 but it wound up being my “A” race for the year.

On Friday, I walked up to the host hotel in Dupont Circle from my office for packet pickup and to visit the expo.  Normally, this would be a pleasant 1.3 mile walk but I failed to account for the fact that we were suddenly in the tropics.  By the time I arrived, I was an absolute mess and a bit stressed but the event was very smooth and easy to navigate.  I received my race band (which a volunteer kindly attached to my wrist), my nice race “premium” of a mesh back pack, my shirt, swim cap, bib, and stickers.  We had to dig through a bin of stinky neoprene bands that we then attached our race chips to.  I think I will buy my own band for the next race.  They literally stunk.

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The expo was a bit small but I did pick up a jar of Hammer Endurolytes because I was worried about how much I was already sweating.

Saturday, we had to rack our bikes in transition and be marked.  They had a new “transition clinic” at 2:30 but I missed it due to traffic.  We parked in the Lot A, as instructed, but saw tons of people parking on Ohio Drive, much closer to transition.  Lesson for next time, park closer! 

After the long and hot walk, I was quickly marked (but it didn’t last long since I was so sweaty) and racked my bike. 

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

We then checked out the swim course and headed for home.

So close...

So close…

Sunday I awoke to the good news that the weather had, indeed, broke and the bad news that there was a sewage overflow in the Potomac so the swim was canceled.  Nargs!   A canceled swim is disappointing but I will gladly take that over cholera!

I decided to park in the Reagan Building ($13 for the full day, easy and ample parking) and walk the mile to transition.  It allowed me to take in the monuments at night, something I never tire of seeing. Transition for both races closed at 6:55 so I got all set up and then cooled my heels.10644934_10152199424182470_4193431896785729613_n

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

My family joined me around 8 AM and we waited for my wave to start.  The race organizers had us start in our wave corrals  as if we had just come from the swim so we had to be barefoot, no helmet, etc.  One of the women racked near me started freaking out that they wouldn’t allow glasses (“since you don’t wear those to swim!”) so I hunted down an official who laughed and said to keep them on.  The legally blind girl (me) says “Thank you!”

We grouped up in bunches of 9 and were off when our whistle blew.  After all of the waiting, I wasn’t sure if I would be ready to race but as soon as we started running down the chute, it was ON!

T1 – swim to bike 3:28

This was a bit slow due to the long run along the length of transition and I was being careful of my foot/ankle situation.

Bike – 26.5 km, 16.1 mph – 25/54 for my division

It was a (mostly) flat and fast course.  This was, by far, my fastest bike race.  I really did well on the hills (going up, not down) and any time the wind was against us.  I like having something to push against.  I really slowed down on the descents and turns. Like, A LOT.  Need to work on that!  The fastest I could go was 22 mph but others were whizzing by like I was standing still.  There was a funky U-turn in Georgetown that had us go up a ramp, across the median, and then down a ramp and turn sharp to the left – all at the top of a hill!  I thought I would go down there but I did not.  There were two bridges and I never realized how horrible bridge joints are.  By the end of the second one, I was swearing with every bump! I was a bit thankful that I wasn’t doing the longer distance which required two loops!

Nations.bike

I had no idea I was by the Washington Monument until I saw this picture!

The course was a bit congested at times and I saw some bad manners on display, especially in the no-passing zones, but mostly everyone behaved appropriately.  Except the woman who illegally cut a corner to pass on my right as we were in a “slow zone” for a turn.  You can bet I picked it up and beat the pants off her ;)

I did not fall at the dismount but it was a close one!  I caught it at the last second and everyone cheered :)  

T2 – bike to run 3:09

Eh, I don’t know.  I sat down to put on my shoes and I also drank quite a bit and popped a couple of electrolyte tabs.  It is what it is.

Run – 5 km. 10.24 minutes/mile – 33/54 in my division

My legs were definitely jell-o at the start.  Knowing that my family was waiting about a half a mile in was the only thing that prevented me from walking.

My Favorite Boosters!

Little Runner, cheering me on!

I wanted to walk SO BAD at this point!

I wanted to walk SO BAD at this point!

It was heating up by then and I was thankful that I had brought my water bottle but wished I had brought my coconut water instead of plain water.  I was also missing my visor :(  I ran behind a group from Team RWB who was carrying the flag and I just paced off from them until almost the end.  Right when I was finding my stride, we were at the finish and it was over!

You can see the evidence of my tip-over from Saturday on my right leg :)

You can see the evidence of my tip-over from Saturday on my right leg :)

I received my sweet metal, found my family, and went to the finish festival.  There was plenty of food and water available even though the International distance racers were almost all done by the time the sprinters hit the finish.  They even had turkey sandwiches!  :) 

We collected all of my stuff and made the slow walk back to the Reagan Building.  My feet were not happy, I was out of water, but I was very pleased with my race.

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I still can’t say that I’ve finished a Sprint triathlon, though!  Good thing I have another at the end of the month :)

Overall – I would give this race an A-

Since it was the first year for the sprint, things weren’t very well communicated and there were a lot of questions that weren’t answered.  I also didn’t like the fact that I wouldn’t have known about the swim being canceled if I hadn’t seen it on Facebook.  They have everyone’s email and I can’t think of any better use for an email blast than that!

The shirt and swag was great, the food was plentiful, the finish festival was nice (they even had tables and chairs!), the port-a-johns were more than adequate.  Communication was the only strike. 

I would happily do this race again.

Fears

A triathlon Facebook group that I am a member of has a “Workout of the Day” thread and the woman who starts each thread begins with some words of wisdom or things to consider.  Today it was:

Fear has been addressed more times than I can count, but it still haunts us so I’ll address it again. It real and the mist powerful force on the planet. Fear starts wars, nuclear threats, panic, chaos and pandemonium. My sister in law is petrified of clowns. Lots of people are. Do clowns pose a threat to them? No. But the fear is real. We may think “How irrational and absurd!” That doesn’t make it any less real for them. IMHO, there is no such thing as an irrational fear. If it holds you back, its a genuine fear and begs overcoming. The first step to overcoming a fear is addressing it. Only then can you move forward. Don’t ever stop doing that! Time waits for no man. Face your fears. Even when everyone laughs at them. True friends will hold your hand and face them with you. Be brave. Be strong.

That made me think of my own fears.  While yes, I did have problems with the open water swims this year, I was not afraid of the water. It wasn’t a fear of some physical thing.  So what was/is it?  What holds me back and makes me perform less than I know I can? What makes me pull out of challenges at the last minute?  I could have broken the 30 minute mark on my 5K a few months ago but I was afraid to try.  I was afraid to embrace the pain and the suck and put myself all out there and then fail.  I was afraid of people (or myself) saying “see? I knew you couldn’t do it!”  In my messed up head, it is better to not even try than to attempt something, fail, and have everyone know that I failed.  (And “fail” can mean anything from being unable to perform at all to performing less than I think I can or, worse yet, less than someone that I think I should be able to pace. I cannot tell you how many times I have had someone that I think I should be able to hang with pull away and then I immediately begin to flounder.  So messed up!) The thought that I might succeed rarely crosses my mind.  Totally irrational, yet there it is. 

As I am mentally preparing for Nation’s in 10 days, a big race with a lot of high caliber athletes, I am determined not to let this fear get the best of me. I will not let their presence hinder my performance.  I will focus solely on my own race. I will not see a racer and think “oh, if that person beats me than I might as well quit!”.  I will push myself to put it all on the line and do the best to my ability.  Yes, I will likely be passed a gazillion times, I will likely have at least one thing go bizarrely wrong, I may have some “incident” on the bike (the bike course is a little nutty!), I might even come in “Dead F-ing Last”, but I am not going to let those fears keep me from giving it my all.  At the end of the day, I want to cross that last timing mat and know that that was my race and my best. 

fear

The Hard Push

For a very long time, I have carried around arbitrary numbers that would prove when I am a “real” athlete.  A kind of litmus test.  Mostly, there were just things that I thought I would never be able to do and would therefore continue to prove what a joke I am.  One is breaking a 30 minute 5K (3.1 miles) run.  Another is swimming over a mile.  The third is completing a century bike ride (100 miles). 

I am very proud to say that I complete two of these this weekend! 

On Saturday, I was feeling grumpy for backing out of the insanely tough Spartan Super in Virginia (crawling up a black diamond ski slope, in deep mud and rain, under barbed wire…) so I decided to push myself in other ways, as recompense. I started with an hour long boot camp class which featured a billion variations of burpees and a ton of squats.  I then went directly to a spin class which featured a ton of hills. Finally, LR and I attended our tae kwon do class (where I finally was approved for my belt-level fitness requirement.  About time!)  To say my legs were toast was a bit of an understatement.  I spent the rest of the day rolling and wrapping and icing. 

The Stick, a Voodoo band, and two lacrosse balls taped together

The Stick, a Voodoo band, and two lacrosse balls taped together

Sunday, I was a bit stiff but wanted to get a run in.  Our neighborhood is pretty hilly and, as usual, I started out way too fast (9:10).  I was still feeling decent so I decided to push a bit harder.  I slowed down at mile 2 for the monster hills (10:00) but then decided to see if I could break 30 minutes.  And I did!  By 12 seconds :) 

There it is!

There it is!

I also scared a few old ladies that I passed on the last mile.  I was huffing and puffing to beat the band!  Two things that I noticed – I have lost most of my shuffle and I’ve stopped kicking my ankles.  I also wasn’t completely empty when I finished. Quite a few shockers there!

I spent the late morning repeating my rehab treatment and I took Little Runner to the pool for some cannonball action.

His first time off the diving board

His first time off the diving board

I then loaded up the car and made the long trek out to Pasadena, MD (between Annapolis and Baltimore) for open water swim practice.  We did a lot of drills and some straight swimming and, before I knew it, my watch was showing that we had swum 1.37 miles!  With no freak-outs!  In fact, I actually forgot to panic even when I was hit by an unexpected wave from a passing boat. 

Don't sight on cargo ships :)

Don’t sight on cargo ships :)

Today, I can hardly walk from the muscle soreness (my foot is okay but everything else is screaming bloody murder) but I am very glad that I pushed hard and just let my body do its thing rather than imposing my own limits of “oh, I could never do x”.  It may be awhile before I hit my century ride and I have set new speed/distance goals, but I know that I will get there in time.  And maybe I feel a touch more like a “real” athlete today. 

Keep working until you are ready to finish your story.

Keep working until you are ready to finish your story.

Needing a “win”

I’ll be honest, I’ve had a really tough year, training-wise.  I’ve had to defer two big races and wound  up pulling out of my last triathlon mid-swim.  I’ve been getting my ass handed to me weekly in roller derby training.  I have been battling a lot of nagging injuries. It’s just been a tough season to swallow.

After the Montclair Tri breakdown, I cried and pouted and then decided to fix what I could.  I have spent almost every weekend since then driving way the heck out to the Chesapeake Bay so I could do open water training with a group.  I have been working hard and seeing progress but I was still worried about my upcoming experience at Nation’s Triathlon.  When I learned about the HarborFest event, I knew I had to do it!  750 m, with support, in the Potomac. Perfect training opportunity.

It was originally schedule for last weekend but was rescheduled due to the potential of bad weather.  Of course, the weather didn’t happen and that just left me feeling nervous for another week!

I arrived around 7:20, signed in, picked up my shirt, and proceeded to try to figure out the course.  They were offering a 5K (!), 2.4 mile, 1.2 mile, and 750 meter option.  Unfortunately, the buoys were not quite set so none of it made sense until just before we started. 

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Can’t get any calmer than this!

We began in waves, with the longest distances going first.  There was about 10 minutes between waves so I had quite a bit of time before my wave began.  It was a water start but we had to enter from a pier.  I was worried about jumping in so I took the weenie route and climbed down the ladder.  I was not alone and I am not sorry I did it!  The water was 82 degrees but it still took a minute for me to acclimate.  I did some bobs with deep exhales under water, per my swim instructor’s advice and that helped.  Before I knew it, we were off! 

The course was a right angle triangle with the pier and the shore making two sides.  I did okay sighting on the shore going out and even across the hypotenuse but was way, way off along the pier. I have no idea why it was so hard!  Oh, maybe it’s because that is where the weeds were the thickest and I was constantly stopping to scrape them off!  Seriously, that was some junky water!  I saw two snails floating on the water that were the size of a peach and I somehow managed to cut my thumb on something!  Gross!

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Maybe I was too distracted, sighting off the Ferris wheel.

I had absolutely no freak-outs during the swim.  I had to cough once because I felt like I was getting choked up like last time but I didn’t stop.  Honestly, this wasn’t as heavily supported as I thought it would be.  There were just a few kayaks and they were for rescue only, no breaks.  If I had known that going in, I might have canceled.  As it was, I’m thankful I didn’t need to use them.  I just focused on moving from buoy to buoy and then it was over!

When I exited, I saw that the elapsed time since the first wave start was 48 minutes. I don’t know what time I entered but, if the scheduled ten minute waves were accurate, then I swam it in 18 minutes.  I am more than happy with that!  Heck, even if it turns out to be 28 minutes, I’m still happy because my main focus was just completing the swim. 

At the end, I did not feel overly tired or queasy.  If someone said, “okay, now go and ride for 16 miles”, I would have been okay with it!

I desperately needed a “win” on my books – something where I trained hard and then performed as expected – and this definitely fit that need!  There is still more work to do before next month but I am not positive that I can finish my race!

BFF: Badass Fitness Friend

When Thick2Thin put out a call for their new ambassador program, I jumped right on it!  I really love the message they promote – the tag line on the webpage says it all “Because where you start doesn’t matter, it’s where you’re going that does” – and the fit of the clothes.

I was first introduced to T2T via my own Badass Fitness Friend who bought me a couple of tanks for my runniversary.  I then had to add to my collection :)

They saw me through a tough 17.75K race with a bad hip

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Cat not included

And through a mental block of roller derby practice

Suck It Up Buttercup!

Suck It Up Buttercup!

And the capris stay up, even when bogged down with Spartan mud!

Saggy pants would have been a problem!

Saggy pants would have been a problem!

Yes, I am definitely a fan and now I am part of the BFF (Badass Fitness Friend) program!  I can offer my friends and readers a sweet 10% discount on all of the T2T merchandise!  Just use code VAJP14 when you check out.  I am in no way being reimbursed for my opinions or for purchases made with the code.  I’m just sharing a product that I love and helping you save a little coin in the process (race entries are expensive! Save where you can!)

Race report: DC Spartan Sprint

After the Ragnar Trail Relay, I thought I really knew my mud.  I was so very wrong!

My team of my favorite crazy people (trust me, it takes one to know one!) is taking on the Spartan Trifecta this year. The plan is DC Sprint, VA Super, Carolinas Beast.

Before the mayhem!

Before the mayhem!

They did the Spartan Super in Virginia last year and two did a Sprint in the Carolinas earlier this year but I was a Spartan virgin.  I was also still a bit “rope shy” after my incident at my last obstacle race**.  My plantar fasciitis was causing major heel and ankle problems and one of our team mates was still recovering from the affects of Whooping Cough. A third had just moved cross-county and came back just for the race, and the fourth – was okay! In other words, we were in our typical racing form :)

Taping can't hurt, right?

Taping can’t hurt, right?

The drive to southern Maryland was very easy and the parking and shuttle process was very smooth.  We went through the waiver signing, packet pick up, body marking, going back to find the strap I dropped for the timing chip, bag drop, etc. in fairly record time.  Before we knew it, we were waiting for our 10:45 start!  Oh, but first — we had to climb a wall! Oh, Spartan, I hate/love you already!

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First of many!

I honestly don’t remember the order or number of the obstacles and the course was in a clover leaf so I felt like we were going in circles all morning.  There were a lot of technical trails – and I managed to have my first major trail fall there, complete with bruised butt – with a river from the shower stations adding to the fun for the last half mile or so. There were many huge, sticky mud pits to crawl through.  And just when you thought that part was done, you’d exit to find another one!  By the end of the last one, I was pretty done with the mud. 

Don't let the smile fool you!

Don’t let the smile fool you!

Okay, maybe I liked it...

Okay, maybe I liked it…

One of the toughest obstacle for me, mentally, were the four pits with very steep, muddy sides.  You had to slide down into waist-deep water and then climb out the other side.  You cannot do it on your own, you need someone to help pull you up.  As someone who is constantly concerned with being “too heavy”, I despise anything where someone has to help bear my weight but it was that or be stuck in the pits forever (and we know how well that worked for the dinosaurs!)

I failed four obstacles – a reverse incline wall (I fell from the top because I could not swing myself over the top), the spear throw, the rope climb, and the traverse wall.  Technically, I also failed the Herc pull but I helped my team mates with theirs (the ropes were crazy muddy) so I don’t count that.

Pull!

Pull!

I loved the sandbag carry (down and up a hill with a sandbell on your shoulder), the “hunk of concrete” pull where we pulled a concrete donut up and down a couple of hills on a chain, and the tire carry/pull (huh, notice a theme?)

I did okay on the walls but needed quite a bit of help on the incline wall. I seriously had flash backs to last time but two of my team mates helped pull me up and I knew I was okay once I got my boobs over the top :)

I apparently tried to break down the walls rather than go over them!

I apparently tried to break down the walls rather than go over them! Both arms are like this, plus my left calf – and my butt!

It took us about 2 1/2 hours for an almost 5 mile course.  Granted, we stopped to help quite a few people, especially at the 4 “pits of despair”, but that is still slow.  Thank goodness is was overcast for most of the day! 

I had a Huma gel right before I started and drank two glasses of water at every station but I was feeling very rough by the time we finished.  One of the ladies in the food line looked at me and said “oh, you need TWO bananas!”.  I quickly ate one, drank a Muscle Milk, and ate a protein bar of some sort.  The pictures look like I’m about ready to faint/hurl but I was just worried about having black teeth from the chocolate mint power bar :)

Okay, maybe I do feel pukey

Okay, maybe I do feel pukey

After quickly cleaning up, I hot footed it out so I could get back home in a timely manner.  It looked like there was a decent finish festival but I didn’t check it out. 

Overall, this was a great experience!  Very organized and a lot of “fun”.  I am simultaneously looking forward to and dreading the Super next month!

My first fire jump!

My first fire jump!

I'm a Spartan!

I’m a Spartan!

Pros

Very organized finish area

Spartan people at most of the obstacles

3 water stations

Plenty of shuttle buses to and from the start area

Plenty of portapotties

Cons

I can’t think of any!

**I thought I had blogged about it but, apparently, I didn’t! At the last obstacle race that I did last year, the first obstacle was a very, very high incline wall with a rope.  I was all the way at the top and my foot slipped. I knew if I let go, I would break something (it was that high!) so I held onto the rope to slow my descent and tore up my hands in the worst way.  Seriously, it was horrific.  I finished the race but I was in a world of hurt for quite a while after that.

Many thanks to one of my team mate’s awesome husband who always takes the best race pictures!  Seriously, my only good pictures have come from him!

Back to Work!

So, after my major funk following my DNF,  decided to put on my big girl panties and get back to work.  I am now signed up for an open water swim session every weekend until Nation’s!

My first session was two weeks ago, in a somewhat secluded river off from the Chesapeake Bay.

swim1 A coach was there with a paddle board and a helper in a kayak.  I attended with two of my runner/tri friends and another gentleman was present – a nice small group with good support.  We did some warm-ups to the various boat pilings and I was fine.  Then the coach said “let’s go out to that buoy and back” and I fell apart.  I made it maybe 75 yds before I started choking and coughing again.  Couldn’t get my breath at.all. and thought I was officially a non-swimmer.  The coach was right there and had me kick while hanging on to the paddle board (after I calmed down) for quite a bit and then I finished going to the buoy and headed back to the group.  On the way back, I had the same freak outs so I rolled to my back and did elementary back strokes until I could get it under control.  I just watched the clouds and focused on calming the F down.  I made it back but I was beat.  We did a few other little drills, some sighting practice, etc. in the shallow water but I was wiped.

On Saturday, I attended an OWS clinic with the same coach.  This time we were right in the shadow of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at Sandy Point State Park.  We did some straight swimming but we working on sighting, cornering around buoys, and various stroke issues.  I felt much better after this session and didn’t have any “issues”.

On Sunday, I was back with the same coach AGAIN (she is going to get so sick of seeing me!) – but this time we were at another, wider creek that had much more chop due to increasing winds.

At the start. Things picked up as the session progressed.

At the start. Things picked up as the session progressed.

This was a larger group and it was pretty much straight swimming.  The coach set up a triangle course with the long side running parallel to the shore and completely stand-able with the point of the triangle further out (but I guess still stand-able in some spots due to the sand bars).  I decided to just stick to the shallow side and just keep looping it.  Each length was a bit over 100 yds and I was able to successfully go out and come back without standing or losing my mind.  I did not have to recover even once and that is with some decent movement in the water – there were times when I lost sight of the buoys due to the waves. I was slow as molasses but I just focused on my own swim and keeping it together.  I was able to successfully complete 5 loops.  I count Sunday as a huge success!

I know I still have a lot of work to do but I am not quite as anxious about September now.  I am also trying to remember how far I’ve come this year.  I have to remember that I have only been swimming freestyle, with my head below water, since January!  It’s not fair to my body to expect it to suddenly become some world-class swimmer overnight.  It’s working hard and I need to respect the process!

progress

 

Burn to ashes and salt the earth

I can take a lot.  I can keep my head down and plod on.  I can keep pushing and pushing and pushing until I finally get to my goal.  Unless I can’t and I don’t and I’m broken.  That’s how I feel right now.  I feel broken.  I feel like I will never make any progress again.  I feel like I hate everything.  I feel like taking all of my gear to the yard, burning it down to ashes, and salting the ground so nothing ever grows there – as a lasting testament to my shortcomings. Holy drama mama!

I know I am just in a bad spot right now and things will improve and I will finally have a good swim in a race and I’ll finally understand transitions in roller derby and I’ll find joy in my training again.  But right now?  Not so much.  I spent most of Sunday crying over one thing or another – even simple skating at the rink left me in tears – and all of yesterday biting everyone’s heads off.  I’m trying to ease back and give myself some space but just bout every other minute I think about pulling out of another event (hey, did I tell you that I have a Spartan Sprint in just a few weeks??).  I know I will regret any decision that I make right now so I’m trying to hang on and ride this out but it is so, so difficult.

 

I'm trying

I’m trying