Race recap

I have meaning for some time to do a product review post, because I am a product junkie.  Ok, I’m a shopaholic.  There, I said it.  I will get to the review later this week because I wanted to do a quick tediously long race recap.  It may take you 98 minutes (the length of time of my race) to read it.

My first triathlon was this weekend.  It was the Triangle Triathlon in Apex, or maybe it was Holly Springs?  I am not sure.  Anyway, I have the White Lake International distance triathlon on September 7, but felt like this would be a good tune-up race since it is significantly shorter, i.e., I have not been in the pool nearly as much as I should, so I wanted to gauge my fitness (or lack thereof).  Also, as mentioned earlier, my friend Sherman, who has done a handful of Ironmans, basically forced me into doing it.

Last week I had one good workout.  I had been battling a stomach bug for over a week, and the old me would have used that as the perfect setup to excuse a poor performance.  Instead, I decided to just take the bug head on by overdosing on Imodium and Pepto.  After a good 72 hours of medicine, which apparently is contrary to manufacturer recommendation, I felt more than 50% normal.  I did not do any workouts on Wednesday or Thursday as that was when I felt like death was warming over, but apparently this made for a decent taper.  On Friday, Sherman and I did about 10 quick miles on the bike and a fast mile (well, rounding up significantly) after work.  I felt like a pile of warm sludge.  This could not bode well, right?

I made a list of all the things I needed on Thursday night, and packed my bag Friday.  I painstakingly selected a tri suit, oh wait, I only have one kit.  I also set a reminder on my iphone to bring my USAT card or else I would have to pay $12 at the race venue in order to pick up my packet.  I guess I missed the memo about bringing my ID as well.  More on that later.

Super Girl also chose Friday to get some sort of illness, and naturally, she woke up three times in the middle of the night.  Super Dad, as per usual, woke up with her the first time, so as to give me some extra rest.  The other times, I took one (two, three) for the team.  Basically, by the time the alarm went off at 5:15, I felt like I had gotten maybe 39 minutes of shut-eye.  Awesome.

Sherman and I swung by McDonald’s and had a nutritious breakfast of egg and cheese biscuit for me, and sausage and egg platter for him. Oh yeah, we had pizza the night before. Apparently this is some thing that triathletes do?  I guess I really was destined to get into this sport.  How ironic after my last post on nutrition.  We got to the race venue around 6:00 and the race was to start at 7:30.  Plenty of time, right?

By the time we lugged all our stuff from the parking lot to the transition area, met up with some of Sherman’s friends, and went to check in, it was almost 7:00.  I just needed to get out my USAT card and ID to pick up my bib.  Oh wait, I didn’t have either.  I left my USAT card in the truck (one mile away) and my ID at home.  They let me use my facebook page to authenticate my ID – wow, really? And I had to borrow $12 to pay the one-day fee.  Of course.  By the way, I owe Cameron Simmons $12.  Better set a reminder on my iphone.

Fast forward to the swim start.  I was in the 6th wave, so I had to wait about 24 minutes to start.  We warmed up before the swim, at which point I learned the temperature of the lake was 90 DEGREES.  What?!?! A 90-year-old would get hot in that lake. Not good.  I warmed up then stood around more nervous then you could ever imagine.  I seriously almost tossed my cookies.  I had not been that nervous in over a decade I would guess.

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We lined up in the water and I realized it was on.  These girls were hardcore.  I had heard about fighting during the start of the swim, and people drowning and punching each other.  I didn’t drown anybody and managed to escape with no bruises, but I had a minor panic attack when I was trapped in a pack for about 50 meters.  Eventually, we evened out and I was out in the lead with two other girls.  I got really really warm about halfway in (400m), and when we caught up to the wave in front of us, there was a lot of water gulping going on because these were not the most fluid of swimmers.  I just kept my eyes on the girl right in front of me, and perhaps drafted off of her a tiny bit.  Kept me from having to do all the navigating.

Came out of the water tied for second.  I looked down at my Garmin and almost laughed when I saw how slow the swim was.  Yikes.  Maybe time to start training in the water some more. T1 went uneventfully, though I was shaking as I put on my shoes and helmet.  Still nervous!  Got through to the bike start and it took what felt like 4 minutes to get clipped in.  Oy, I should have just tatooed “Novice” on my helmet and back.

The bike went as well as I could expect.  I feel like I know my bike pretty well at this point.  I got passed by quite a few girls on what appeared to be $5,000 tri specific bikes with $2,000 race wheels (that’s what I am telling myself) but I passed a lot of men on hybrids if that’s any consolation.  I am a pretty decent climber but need work on going fast on flats and dropping down to get more aerodynamic.  I can say I was probably the only person with a road bike that did not have aero bars.  So I put an order in for those already.  I am sure I looked like a goon sitting up in spin class as I came down those hills on my aerobar-less bike.  Oh well, it was a learning experience.

I felt good finishing up the 17.5 mile bike, which is perhaps a sign I didn’t push myself hard enough. Or so I thought.  I had a pretty quick T2, slipping into my  laceless Zoots.  Housed a few Stinger energy chews and chugged some water on my way out to the run start.  Feeling pretty good… until about 1/2 mile in.  That’s right people, I pretty much hit a wall at that point. I didn’t have my Garmin on gps mode because I was using it on stopwatch mode during the swim.  I had no clue how fast or slow I was going, and there wasn’t a mile marker until mile 2.  Oh, and at what I presume was the 1/2 mile mark, we went from a paved surface to a trail.  Not like a single-track, break your ankle trail.  But gravel, sticks, and mud puddles.  What?  I really need to spend less time watching Bravo tv and more time reading course descriptions.   I wanted to cry.  I was so tired and hot.

The only thing keeping me going was “only 18 more minutes- assuming I am running an 8:30 mile pace, only 15 more minutes, only 10 more…” Plus, I wasn’t getting passed by very many people.  There was a girl right in front of me who was also in my age group and I remember her passing me on the bike.  She had an Ironman tattoo on her right calf.  I was thinking “wow, she is really struggling and she has done an Ironman.  I don’t feel so bad about myself anymore” and “there is no way I am ever doing any Ironman.  Those people are crazy!” Sorry Sherman and random girl, who I ended up passing.  Woo! At the 2 mile marker I got my 13th wind.  I looked at my watch and realized I was somehow well under an 8:00 mile pace.  I felt like I was speed walking at that point.  Suddenly I was at the 3 mile marker, and then I was done, having finished the run portion in 23:30.  Not too bad after a 750 swim and 17.5 mile bike.

As soon as I finished all I could think was “I am NEVER doing a triathlon again.  Ever.”  And then I thought “Oh hey, they have free Mountain Dew and Papa Johns?! I am definitely doing another triathlon.” Usually you get little pieces of bagel and half a banana after a marathon.  Maybe some beer if it is a St. Patrick’s Day race. But these triathletes do not play around with the pizza and soda. I limited myself to one slice and waited for my buddy to finish.

I finished 6th in my age group and realized that with just a little extra effort in the pool, better form on the bike, and some more strength work, I could actually get on the podium next time.  Hey maybe I could even win if someone wanted to pay for private coaching lessons and a Felt tri bike for me.  And pay my mortgage and daycare so I can quit my job and train full time. Ok, I guess that isn’t going to happen, so I will just buy a book about triathlon training, get the local tri shop to tweak the geometry on my bike, and have them slap on my new aero bars.

My goal this week is to get in the pool twice and do at least one strength training session. We are already on Tuesday and I have done neither, so I guess there may be some doubles in my future. Ouch!

Do you have any favorite exercises to increase leg power?  Any suggestions for positioning on the swim, other than taking up Kung Fu? Anyone else race this weekend?  How did it go? Any triathlons I need to put on my bucket list?

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You are what you eat

People always say, “you are what you eat.” I never really got that. If I eat steak, that doesn’t make me a cow. Cows don’t eat other cows- they eat grass, hay, pulp, and other stuff humans toss out, but they are still cows. Note: A lot of googling went into figuring out what a cow’s diet consists of. Likewise, if I eat broccoli, celery, and garbanzo beans, that doesn’t make me a vegetable (or legume if you want to get technical). So I always figured I could just eat what I wanted because the saying didn’t make any sense.

A couple friends recently sent me a link to The Oatmeal’s comic about running. There’s a slight chance very high probability that I annoyed several coworkers laughing out loud as I read the post about the terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distances, particularly Part 2 “the feeding.” This comic could not more aptly describe my eating habits. As a swimmer, I trained up to 5 hours a day over the course of two workouts. I was always hungry. And I ate whatever I wanted. We’re talking a Croissanwich AND French Toast sticks from Burger King after morning practice, curly fries with cheese at the high school cafeteria at lunchtime, then a DQ frosty and six powdered donut gems from 7 Eleven before afternoon practice. Looking back, it is truly a miracle I did not develop type II diabetes or high cholesterol as a teen. And the only reason I was not obese is because I was burning upwards of 5,000 calories a day.

In college, I did not binge quite as much but really, who did not indulge in late night Domino’s? Plus, I continued to swim so the calorie burn continued. I noticed though that I was always tired despite taking two naps a day, and my metabolism wasn’t quite what it used to be. Shocker right? To think that your metabolism might decrease as you age, it is such a novel idea.

As I took up running more after college, I somehow fooled myself into thinking that my diet was appropriate for ANY LIVING BEING, including a super calorie burning athlete like Lance Armstrong or a 600 pound gorilla – also googled that one- that has nothing to accomplish in life. Wrong. Not only was I failing to come even remotely close to offsetting the calories going in, I was also just putting trash into my body. And I felt like trash. I had no energy, could not focus on my classes in law school, and I gained a lot of weight.

So, lesson learned, right? False. I thought that if I just ate fewer calories, I could still eat whatever I wanted. I convinced myself that the reason I ran is so that I could eat tons of Bojangles. When I was pregnant, I ate French fries with ranch dressing like I had just come off of four weeks competing in Survivor. I gained less than 30 lbs each time, and the Super Babies turned out healthy, and not large, but I only think it was because I ran a lot, or am just predisposed to making smaller offspring (until they turn 4 months old, then all bets are off).

When I started on this journey, I was obviously not running for kale, for health, to set a good example for my children, or for me. I ran for biscuits, plain and simple. I ran because I wanted to eat. I have learned that eating is a major crutch for me. It is how I cope with stressors in life, it is how I celebrate, it is how I bide my time, it is how I bond with friends and family. Because eating is such a huge part of my life- other than the obvious, that everyone has to eat to survive- I figured I would just run to support my habit. Well, that’s just not cutting it anymore.

I really felt that I had stalled out in my running, and not just because I have been either making babies or feeding babies on and off for the past four years. I thought I had tried everything, from doing more strength workouts, to cross training, to doing interval work. I think I knew in the back of my mind that I was avoiding the most obvious thing: my diet. Not diet like Weight Watchers or Paleo or 80/20 or Atkin’s (does anybody even do that anymore?) or anything with a label. Just my nutritional needs.

Lately, Super Dad has been majorly into cooking. He has always taken the reigns in that regard, but he has upped his game from Master Griller to Master Chef. We aren’t talking Joel Robuchon, but just simple yet flavorful and healthful meals. We want to make a concerted effort to eat more whole foods and to instill an appreciation of the earth and our bodies (not in a touchy feely crunch way, though it is totally cool if you are into that) in our kids. Now, Super Girl still digs her Drumstick ice cream cones, and she comes by that honestly, because I ate approximately 193 of those while she was in utero, but last night while I was juicing, she asked for blueberries and apples for dessert. Come to think of it, I’m not sure if she is actually mine. Or maybe she is already angling for a car. Her 16th birthday is only 13 years away.

Since we have been eating a more balanced diet and significantly less takeout and/or processed foods, I have noticed an uptick in my energy and improved endurance and speed. I have had days where I typically would have dragged through a workout, but last week was able to knock out mile repeats faster than I imagined possible a few months ago. I enjoy running too, and I am not just thinking about what I am goig to stuff my face with after finishing a run.

I also find that I am craving better foods. I used to get the shakes if I didn’t mainline Nutella, but now I can go weeks without eating half a jar. I now crave my green juice, which is about five leaves of kale, a handful of spinach, three green apples, one cucumber, and two handfuls of grapes. It is glorious, and both Super Baby and Super Girl approve.

That said, I don’t get excited by beets or coconut milk or chia seeds. I like my carbs, they make me feel happy sometimes and in moderation, provide me with the energy I need to get through a long workout. I know I know, beets are probably better for energy and are a super food. I still think they taste like dirt. I also still enjoy my Bojangles, mainly for the sake of this blog, because I would hate to have to change the name 🙂 I still eat cheeseburgers more often than I should, and I still get my Drumsticks, but I get the mini version instead. So I guess if you are what you eat, I’m now mini version of my old self. And a little greener.

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I suck at yoga…

I also suck at anything involving balance. For instance, a balanced diet, balancing my checkbook, balancing home life versus work life (I am not entirely to blame for this one, as Super Dad and I work at the same place), balancing on my road bike well enough to merely lift a hand to signal to my other cyclists that there is a pile of glass or a pothole they should avoid, and the biggest balance issue facing most runner/triathlete moms: how do I balance my bizarre exercise needs with my family’s schedule? I don’t want our family schedule to revolve 100% around me- 75% would suffice- but I also want us to have some flexibility to enjoy the pool or go out to dinner just because.

DISCLAIMER: This is a REALLY, REALLY, obnoxiously long post. It’s not for the faint of heart. I have 7 months worth of venting to do, so grab some Nuun hydration and read on if you like.

Ok, let’s back this train up. When willrunforbiscuits started, I was all about running. Otherwise the blog name wouldn’t make much sense. I have been all about running pretty much since I graduated from college and decided I would be done with swimming FOREVER. I was that burned out on the sport. I dabbled in some kickboxing and pilates, but realized that my diet of biscuits and gelato were probably better suited to fuel a long distance runner. Cue five marathons, zero swimming, zero triathlons, zero cycling.

I made it a goal to run a marathon between each baby. After Super Girl (formerly known as Super Baby) was born, I ran the Kiawah Marathon in 2010. But then I had the shoulder surgeries mentioned in previous blog posts, which basically left me in the shape I was in freshman year when I quit swimming for 6 months. Round, floppy, and out of breath. I was no good at balancing recovering from my surgeries with finding appropriate but challenging workouts, so I just gave up.

I finally started getting back into shape with the help of my beloved Athletic Conditioning class at the Y. Those were my people. Some of my closest friends that I have developed over the past several years. Check them out, they are a good-looking group.

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Finally, I was ready to start training for “something.” I hit the greenway with my friend Kevin for long runs, and he would join me for interval work on the indoor track at the Y. I would push Super Girl around in her jogging stroller, which definitely helps gain strength and speed. I finally felt like I had the balance thing down. You can be a mom to one kid and still find the time to train distance.

Then I got pregnant with the new Super Baby, and I kept running. All the books I read about exercising while pregnant were totally common sense. “If you have been active, then it’s okay to stay active.” And “listen to your body.” What does that mean???? I need real answers. I was very bad at balancing logic and emotion during early pregnancy. The basic takeaway from everything I read is this: If you are at least moderately in shape and NOT an idiot, then just keep doing what you’re doing, keeping your heartrate in check and taking stock of any other warning signs like cramping, chills, obvious signs of dehydration, etc. If you have jogged one 5k before, probably not a good idea to sign up for you first Marathon, set to take place when you are 34 weeks pregnant. Having already been doing long runs upwards of 9 miles when I got pregnant, I went ahead and signed up for a half marathon which I completed in January 2012, when I was 15 weeks pregnant. It was a really pleasant race because I was able to balance my baby’s safety against my desire to be the fastest pregnant runner out there. I ran a 5k at 24 weeks and a 10k at 28 weeks. It is fair to say that by the end, I had gotten really good at balancing my fluid input/output because there are usually no porta johns on a 3-6 mile course. Yikes!

After new Super Baby came along, surrounded by much drama that I would talk about if this were yet another birth story blog, I initially dove back into the group exercise thing that I so loved. I was unable to balance my desire to train for another marathon with my desire to hang out with my friends and go to classes which I knew would push me and leave my on the edge of vomitus, just the way I like it. So I fell into a bit of a rut.

I ran a few local races at the end of 2012, with my eye on a marathon in 2013.

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But then we moved to Raleigh. So the months of late December to late February of this year are a total blur of boxes, tears, more boxes, house hunting, eating garbage (not literally), and not running. No balance could be achieved in that phase of my life. And quite frankly, it has taken about four months to get back on track.

I really wanted to find balance in my workout regimen upon moving. As I have mentioned a thousand times, I had such a great group of instructors and friends at the YMCA in Charlotte. I wanted to try to replicate that here. I toured probably 6 different gyms. I was like Goldilocks. This gym was too expensive. This gym was too dingy. This gym too far, this gym too boring.

So I decided that instead of trying to achieve in Raleigh what I had in Charlotte, I would create something new. Like a Phoenix rises from the ashes, so too did my new training goal. I decided to sign up for a triathlon. It is definitely a symbol of balance- having to balance your time to train for three different disciplines. My goal race is the White Lake Olympic Distance Tri in September. Before that race, I have a sprint distance- the Triangle Triathlon- this weekend! And I really have no idea what I am doing or what to expect, so it won’t be that different from becoming a mother.

In order to get in triathlon shape, I have spent less time in group exercise classes and taken more initiative to find group runs, go out on long morning runs before my kids get up (which I never would have done before), find group cycle rides, and swim just to get my shoulders stronger and hopefully wake up some muscle memory that’s been covered in cobwebs for the past 11 years. I have finally been able to strike a balance in all the three disciplines, and I am actually having a lot of fun doing it. The issue is just figuring which workouts to do in the morning before Super Girl and Super Baby wake, which to do at lunch (too much work involved in getting re-coiffed for work) and which to do after work, as that calls into play either taking the kids to the Y or SuperDad piling up the parenting points so I can go on a bike ride after work. We haven’t quite figured out how to make it work, and we have to take it on a week-by-week basis, which is difficult.

Raleigh  Trail Runners at Umstead Park.  They look fast.

Raleigh Trail Runners at Umstead Park. They look fast.

Which leads to the final straw that led me back into the blogosphere. My family may be done with 2 kids and 3 dogs, but we may expand- ya never know, we could add a guinea pig to the mix. Whatever size our family ends up being, we will have more and more commitments as our kids get older. Super Girl is in gymnastics and will likely start ballet and music lessons in the next year. Super Baby will probably be entering eating competitions so we need to balance those commitments into our family schedule. My exercise also needs to be balanced out against my family’s needs.

Last night, I planned out this week’s workouts. I planned to do an easy steady-stead 7 mile run before work. Well, off went the buzzer this morning, and I said “let’s get serious iPhone, you know I’m not getting out of this bed.” End of discussion, no agonizing, just went straight back to dreaming about Robin Thicke.

The result of this 100% selfish decision was that I completely threw off our family plan for the day. The morning routine went fine, as I would have been back from my run and showering at the same time I ended up rising. Because we are so earth-conscious, Super Dad and I decided to carpool. Then I would pick up Super Baby and take him to the Y while Super Dad took Super Kid to gymnastics. After my quick little swim and run, I would swing by to get Super Girl from gymnastics. Wrong. As I checked my phone post swim and run, I notice that Super Dad has called and sent an urgent text, something to the effect of “my darling wife, I forgot to remind you that my car is at home because we carpooled to work. As such, our beloved daughter is stranded at daycare, I am stranded at work, and she will not be able to get to the gymnastics class she was so looking forward to. In no way are you to blame, but I wanted to let you know that I will get this taken care of in the approximately 6 minutes before daycare closes. Love Always, Super Dad.” As you can imagine, the text was not quite so polite. Oops, mommy messed up. No really, mommy threw off our family’s balance today in a big big way. One that inconvenienced many people, including Super Daddy, Super Uncle and Super Neighbor, who let Super Girl borrow a leotard. When I got home, Super Girl had a MAJOR attitude. Our conversation:

SG: That was NOT COOL mommy! You don’t leave Daddy at his office. It’s not cool to leave people at their offices. He was lonely.

Me: I’m sorry, I messed up.

SG: Yeah, you did. Now Daddy and I are going inside, but you can stay out here with Super Baby.

…proceeds to lock me out of the house. [end scene]

Moral of the story: if you are going to be lazy, which is warranted every now and then (unless you are Shalane Flanagan and you’re trying to win Olympic Medals) try not to upset your whole family. I need to work on balancing my obligations to my family with my training. Anyone else have trouble with this balancing act?