Last year after IMMT I made the decision self coach for this year's race/triathlon season. It was not an easy decision to make, as I truly like having a coach and have enjoyed all of the different coaches I have worked with through the years. However, for my own health and fitness, I really felt that I needed to work harder on strengthening and nutrition. So I opted to put the money I would spend towards a tri coach towards a program to help me gain muscle mass and also help improve nutrition. I have been working with Rick Rick III since October and have been loving every minute of it. I do strength workouts with him 1 x week and have had a few nutrition consults. When we last checked things about a month ago I weighed the same as I did in October, I had lost 5% body fat and gained 5 lbs. of muscle! And this was despite an almost 12 lb weight gain over the winter and a roller coaster of challenges both physical and emotional surrounding my father's battle with Parkinson's and then subsequent death. I wasn't sure if these changes would help with my racing, but so far this season I have been really pleased. And I have realized that as much as testing some of my physical capabilities this year, these events have also been a huge emotional help as well.
Each of these races probably could use their own blog entry, but out of sheer laziness, I am lumping them all into one...be prepared for a long entry if you continue to read this!
Key West Half Marathon 2015
First up was a half marathon in January. I traveled down to Key West, FL and met up with a group of wonderful women that I actually met through an on-line FB triathlon group. This race was the first time I met any of them and the whole weekend ended up being a blast. I wasn't sure what I could do with the half marathon but I did want to see if I could push myself. Race morning started with 70 degree temps and high humidity...something I wasn't used to coming from the Ohio winter season. It also was one of the first races that I had some GI issues prior to the start of the race and I was actually in the bathroom 4 minutes prior to starting the race. Fortunately, I didn't have any GI issues during the race...but I did have some trouble with dehydration/bonking later in the race. First 9 miles I actually felt great, but by mile 10, I definitely was having energy issues and it was everything I could do to try to keep a 10 min pace and finish the race. My goal had been to race between 2:10-2:15 and I finished with a 2:11. Met my goal, but was a little disappointed because I think if I could have kept the pace I had prior to bonking I would have gone sub 2:10. So, still need to work on hydration/nutrition, but overall a good start to the year. And a great race, would highly recommend it and also a wonderful time spent with my Angels!
Last Chance for Boston 2015
Next up was Last Chance for Boston 10k. This was not a race on my agenda at all. I literally decided at 10pm the night before to do the race. We had decided the day before this race to put my Dad in Hospice Care and I felt the need to get out and run. And I didn't feel like the treadmill would be adequate. So, my friend Jeanne reminded me of Last Chance, so I went that morning and signed up for the race and ran it. I had absolutely no goals for this race. I needed it from a therapy perspective so I just went out and ran. I didn't have a watch, music or anything. Ran with Jeanne for part of the race and then was feeling good so went ahead on the second lap. Finished with a 10k PR and a sub 1 hour time...definitely faster than I ever thought I could do for this distance. And surprising giving the lack of sleep, planning, and prep I had for this. Something to be said for a therapeutic run!
Riptide Indoor Tri 2015
This is the second time I have done this race. It is a local fundraiser for a YMCA swim club. A couple of friends have kids on the team, so I feel it is for a great cause. Basically you swim in the pool for a certain amount of time, ride a spin bike for a time, and run around a track for time and try to go as far in those time frames as you can. Placed 2nd in my AG group this year! Fun little race and I will likely continue to do it to support the local community.
After the Riptide Triathlon weekend I got off track a bit with my nutrition and coping mechanisms. I was having a very hard time actually grieving for the loss of my Dad, for my family, for me. The result was some self destructive behaviors that weren't the healthiest for me, which included increased alcohol consumption to help "feel better." Despite this though, I continued to do my strength workouts and training, but nutrition, sleep, and emotional health were definitely suffering. The depression I had worked so hard to overcome was starting to almost overwhelm me. I didn't recognize this though, until I hit rock bottom Easter weekend. I am fortunate that a good friend helped me to figure this out...a hard lesson for me, but an eye opener. And since that time I have taken steps to work on myself, to grieve, to re-adjust my goals and my approach to my emotional and physical health. And I have to thank my friends and family for helping me with this...some know the role they have played and others don't, but I thank each and every one of you from the depths of my heart. I also realized around this time that I wanted to try and do another full marathon. I was already signed up for the Flying Pig Half and I figured if I kept up with the training and focused on a healthy lifestyle for the next month, that I could give the race a good shot. And I set a pretty steep goal for myself. PR the marathon at The Flying Pig...my PR prior to this race was at Columbus and was a 4:47.
Flying Pig Marathon 2015
I purposely didn't tell a lot of people I was going to do this race. This was something I needed to do for myself...hard to explain, but I didn't want a lot of fuss surrounding it, for me it was therapy and I needed to keep it that way. I worked hard the month prior to this race and used my workouts as times to reflect on my life, to grieve, to come up with some plans. Also experimented with some different nutrition options...in all of the marathons I had done in the past (IM and stand alone) I have had stomach/GI problems. So, I knew I had to be on top of that if I wanted to PR this race for sure. I incorporated more speed work as well...something I hadn't done a ton of with prior IM training. My last really tough run workout I did Yasso's to test myself. It was after a pretty brutal strength workout and one of the few hot days we had in April. I was likely dehydrated by the end of the workout, but I was able to hit most of my 800s between 4:35-4:45 pace, which was a good mental boost for me. It also cemented in my mind that I was ready for this marathon.
The weekend of the Flying Pig is also the Columbus Cap City Half Marathon. I actually got up early on Saturday and went down and volunteered at the race for about 4 hours. I also had been battling a head/chest cold for the days leading up to the race. So, when I drove down to Cinci for the race I was actually on the fence as to if I should do the marathon, wasn't sure how good of a race it could be going into it sick and also tired. But, I decided to go ahead and do it since I had put forth the effort and training. I stayed by myself the night prior to the race. This is the first time I have done a race like this solo and it was actually pretty nice.
Race morning I woke up still stuffed up and coughing, I didn't do any cold medicine though as I was afraid it would raise my HR too much and/or dehydrate me. But I did have some tea and also Emergen-C....nervous as I have never done either of these prior to a run, let alone the morning of a race. And it is probably also why I was in the loo again at the start of the race! Lines were long and I was determined to use the bathroom prior to starting the race. As a result I didn't end up starting with the corral I originally wanted. My plan had been to start with the 4:45 pace group and stay with them at least through the first half of the race and then speed up if I felt good in the second half. Unfortunately, by the time I got out of the bathroom, though, that group had already left and I got stopped and had to wait with the next corral.
My back up plan was just to go at a moderately comfortable pace and see what I could do. With the goal of a negative split for the second half of the marathon. So, I did this and was surprised when this "moderately comfortable" pace put me closer to a 10:45 pace for the first half of the race. Oddly, my cough/cold didn't bother me at all for most of the race and my running actually felt pretty comfortable. I never really felt like I struggled at all the first half of the race, even with the hills. And when I hit 16 mile mark, I knew I had enough in me to press the pace more. I only struggled a little at about mile 22, but I expected it and pushed through it. I also didn't have any GI issues or bonking issues this race, which was great. And at about mile 24 I caught the 4:45 group and passed them...and at this point I knew that as long as I didn't walk the rest of the race, I would have a pretty significant PR. And I did....finished with a 4:36, an 11 min PR for me!
One other thing I did during this race was to utilize my "Power of One" which is something my former coach Tim Barrett is very passionate about. I knew I would need something to help focus on when I would struggle, so I purposely dressed for the race to honor the memory of my Dad and a couple of running friends. This race was as much for them as it was for me. The orange throwback race singlet was worn in memory of Jeff Glaze who is largely responsible for MIT, the black hat was one of Jeff Skilling's, one of the most encouraging runners I had the pleasure of meeting at MIT. For my Dad, I didn't carry anything because I knew he would be in my heart. I thought a lot about the 3 of them several times during the race, grieved for them and asked them to give me the strength to keep pushing. People ask, do you think they know? And I think they did and they helped. They were all with me when I crossed that finish line and it was definitely one of the most emotional finishes I have ever had. I sobbed after I got my medal and was walking through the finishing area. But, it was an emotional release that was much needed and I felt a million times better after that. And to make it even better, I got to ring the PR bell before I left town!
As I have reflected on each of these races, I am reminded again as to how much exercise has played a role in my health, my well being, my life. Without exercise I would be overwhelmed by depression. It has truly been one of the things in my life that has helped the most with this. Exercise helps me to think things through, it helps me to plan, it helps me to feel better and it has provided me with a support network that has been vital to who I have become today. I also realize now how much exercise has helped me to live, to experience new things, meet new people, and realize my full potential. Thankful for each day that I can continue to do these things.