Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Day I Rode 100 Miles

   Yesterday, I rode my bike 100 miles.  Let me repeat that. Yesterday...I rode my bike...100 MILES. Even a day later, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that. I know it's something that cyclists do all the time, but hitting the century mark is a new one for me.
   I've actually tried twice before to ride a century, but both of those ended early due to weather. The first cancellation was during the "Hope on Wheels" ride in Leiper's Fork, TN. I hit the 65 mile rest area when a torrential downpour hit. Very low visibility on a very hilly course. Knowing that Dudley was only a few miles away, I called him to come pick me up. I was a little bummed because I trained a lot for that ride, only for me to pull out, but I still think it was the smart thing to do given the circumstances. The weather was really, really bad and I just didn't think it was worth the risk to continue.
  The second cancellation was during the W.C. Handy Festival Bike Ride in Florence, AL. This time a tornado was coming through, and the riders were pulled off the course around the 72 mile mark. Up until yesterday, this had been my longest bike ride to date.
   The most current round of century madness started earlier this week when I received a text from my FTP training buddy, Jan. The entire FTP crew was already planning on riding the Bike the CRAM (Clarksville Rotary Annual Metric), but I was personally riding the 62 mile option. Sure, I toyed with the idea of riding the century, but considering that my longest bike ride this year had only been 60ish miles, I thought riding an extra 40 miles might be a little too daring. But Jan's text got me thinking. She was planning on riding the 100 miler, and so was Kathy. The CRAM route was famously flat...maybe I could hang with them and see how I did? If worse came to worst and I totally dying, I could pull over at a rest area and have someone drive me back in. Might as well TRY for the 100, right? So - I signed up.

It's just a little 100 miler.

   The day started at 4:00 am because Kathy was picking me up at 5:05. (Sidebar - I've GOT to find a sport where I can sleep in later. I'm naturally nocturnal and these crazy-early mornings are killing me.) The ride started at 7:00 and was about an hour away, hence the early alarm. 
   We checked in for the ride without a hitch. The CRAM is based out of a high school. You walk in the door, check in, get your shirt and that's it. No loud music. No crazy announcer. Just get your shirt and be on your way. It was a distinct change from the hoopla of the REV3 tri last weekend. Not that was one better than the other - just different.

That's a lot of arrows...

   Conveniently, the FTP crew met up at Kathy's car, so we didn't have to search for our group. Andrew did a quick roll call of who was riding what distance. Turns out, only three of us were riding the 100 - me, Jan and Kathy.  

FTP train a comin'!

   The century riders were supposed to start before everyone else, but we let most of the cyclists take off first. It can get a little dangerous out there with so many cyclists leaving at one time. I'd rather wait five minutes and miss the cluster.
   Kathy was the only one of the three of us that actually had the century on her training schedule, since she's racing Ironman Coeur d'Alene at the end of next month. She was using this as a race simulation and testing out her cadence and nutrition. My plan was to let her set the pace and I'd try to hang on as long as I could. This worked out great for me, because that meant I got to draft off of her. Normally on a ride like this, I'd do my share of pulling, but since I hadn't trained for the distance, I didn't want to burn out and not be able to finish the ride.
   Jan, Kathy and I rode along steadily along the beautiful Tennessee / Kentucky countryside. Both Kathy and I had done the 62 mile course before, so we were familiar with some of the ride. It's flat, but generally pretty windy. While the winds weren't horrible yesterday, we definitely felt them at times.
   One thing that is great about this ride is how well-supported it is. There's a rest area about every 10 to 15 miles. We skipped the first one and hit the second one, which was at around the 30 mile mark. I think we spent about a half-hour here because we ran into so many people we knew, most of whom were riding the 62 mile ride. It was a little disheartening to think about them being half-way done, while we still had another 70 miles to go. 
   After we filled up both our water bottles, and our stomachs, we hit the road again. I don't know what it is about rest areas, but I eat like I'm never going to see food again. I have food with me AND I know there is another stop in 15 miles, yet I still have to sample whatever is there. It's crazy.
   Somewhere before the next rest area, we picked up two more friends who were riding the 100 - Marc and Paul. Our little group stayed together for the rest of the ride. The miles ticked by one by one, rest area by rest area. We made a point of yelling out when we surpassed our previous individual ride records, celebrating the little milestones before achieving our main goal - the century.
   The last rest area was at mile 85. Getting off the bike at this stop was the first time that I really felt any pain. I had a hard time walking at first. However, the stiffness worked itself out quickly and I got back in the bike feeling good and ready to tackle the last 15 miles. I was really happy about how good I felt at this point. Baring an accident, I knew I would finish the ride. And even though I pretty much drafted the entire time, I was surprised at how strong I felt. Drafting or not, 85 miles is still 85 miles and I was relieved I was hanging in there.
   Unfortunately, the feeling only lasted for about five miles. It was at mile 90 that I hit the wall. I could still ride, but I REALLY wanted to get off the bike. Those last 10 miles seemed like it took forever. I was really happy when we finally turned into the Rossview High School parking area. We had done it. 100 miles.


   After a few obligatory celebration photos, we headed in for the spaghetti lunch and ice cream that was waiting for us in the high school cafeteria. Since I ate so much during the ride, I didn't think I was that hungry. Apparently I was though, because I ate a huge plate of pasta, two pieces of garlic bread, and a Twix ice cream bar. It was so good.
Yeah...we rode 100 miles.

Thankfully, I still had the strength to lift my bike over my head.

   This was such a great ride, and I'm so happy signed up for the century. It was fun (and scary) to get out of my comfort zone and push myself further than I had before. Though I know it's going to be hard, I'm looking forward to pushing myself more and more as my training goes on.
   See you on the road! Happy training! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

REV3 Knoxville Olympic Triathlon Race Recap - Race Day

   I never sleep well the night before races, and last Saturday night was no exception. My alarm was set for 5:30, but I was easily up an hour before that. When I first woke up, I just laid in bed for a while trying to remember everything I'm supposed to do. This was my first race since October and I was a little rusty on race details.
   Before too long, Dudley and I headed down to the transition area to set up and put on my wetsuit. (Kathy was racing the 70.3 distance and started her race earlier.) I had plenty of time to set up. It took me a bit to get situated, which was fine because 1) it serves my OCD well to triple-check everything and 2) I got to witness the pros race for a few minutes. Usually transition areas are closed before a race starts so you don't have the opportunity to see people racing while you're in there, but because REV3 had several race distances going on, they left it open longer. It was really cool to watch the pros FLY in, grab their bikes and go.

Trying to remember what the heck I'm supposed to do.

Good Morning Knoxville!  A bit more awake now.

  It was in the 50's at this point with the water temp around 68. I was a little chilly just hanging out, but I knew that one I got in the water, I'd be happy I was wearing my sleeveless wetsuit. While in transition, I started speaking to the woman, Alison, who was racked next to me. Turns out, we met the weekend prior at Percy Priest lake when we were both doing an open water swim. Small world huh? 
   About twenty minutes before the race started, we headed down to the race start. I killed the time by chatting with other Nashville-area athletes and, of course, taking photos.

Coach Andrew, me and FTP training buddy Jan.

   I got in the water as soon as my wave was called. I wanted to get acclimated to the chill as soon as possible. And while it didn't last long, it was chilly.

You know, just hanging out in a large body of water.

   As you can imagine, Coach Andrew is a much better swimmer than I am. Since he was in my starting wave, I was going to attempt to draft off of him for as long as I could hang on. I knew it wouldn't be far, but I'd take anything I could. Yeah - that'd didn't go exactly as planned. The following progression took place over about 30 seconds.

Lined up directly behind Andrew.

We're off!

Wait...where'd he'd go?

And...I'm dropped. No Andrew to be seen. Sigh. 

   Honestly, I thought I'd be able to hang longer than 30 seconds, but oh well. Back to my original race plan of not drowning. I was a bit more aggressive with this swim than usual. I generally start kind of away from everyone because I don't want to get into the huge mess that an open water swim start can be. This time, I was right up there at the front. I even fought for my position and nailed this poor girl in the face with my hand. I didn't mean to, but it happened. I felt so bad about it that my instinct was to stop and apologize to her. Guess I need to work on the killer attitude, huh?
   The swim was an out and back, and I was hoping to feel some current on the way back in. Unfortunately, I didn't really feel anything. I finished in 30 minutes flat, which I'm kind of bummed about. That's about par for the course with me, and I really feel like I've been swimming better than that recently. And I think in the pool I have, but the open water is entirely another skill level. It's hard for me to feel like I have any type of form in the open water. I'm just kind of splashing around out there. 

Very carefully running up the ramp.

   After being pulled out of the water, we had a small, uphill run to transition. When watching the pros, I noticed that they all had their wetsuits half-way off by the time they got to their bikes. I thought "I really need to do that." Did I? Nope. I was fully dressed when I got to the bike. And then I couldn't get my wetsuit off. Seriously. If you had $100 and said "I will give you this if you remove your wetsuit within a minute," I couldn't have done it. Almost FIVE MINUTES later, I emerged from T1 sans wetsuit and ready to ride. I was pissed.

I have no idea how I'm alone. I swear, I wasn't last.

There I go...

   The bike course was one that didn't play to my strengths. There were some good climbs, and I am anything but a billy goat on hills. Plus, after Kathy's fall yesterday, I was pretty conservative going down hills. They were fast with several blind corners. The last thing I wanted to do was hit some gravel, lay it down and break my collarbone. It definitely would have helped if I had driven the course the day before.
   My legs started out feeling terrible. It took a good 10 miles for my hamstrings to really warm up. By the time I hit mile 20, I felt pretty good. Of course, that's about when the race ends. Maybe I should stick to long-course racing.
   The course was well-marked, sort of. There were three different distances racing at the same time - the 70.3 (56 mile bike), the Olympic (my race - 26 mile bike leg) and the REV3 Championship race (40ish mile bike leg). Our courses overlapped at various times throughout the race. The Olympic distance athletes were told to follow the pink arrows EXCEPT when there was a green arrow, then we had to follow that. It wasn't really that hard, and there were plenty of other cyclists out there for me to follow. However, there was one time when I was stuck behind a car turning at an intersection. The cop waved me around the car and directed me down a specific road. Suddenly - I was alone. No other cyclists anywhere. Then I saw a pink sign for the 70.3, so I knew I was at least on a course, I just didn't know if it was the correct one. Fortunately, it was, and within a few minutes I saw some Olympic racers, but it was a nervous few minutes.
HOW am I still alone?

Hitting the transition button with my teeth. Difficulty level - 8.0

Not many bikes on my rack back yet - that's a good sign.

Coach Andrew giving me some tips before the run.

   My bike/run transition went much smoother than the swim/bike transition. It was a little tough getting my shoes on because my toes were still numb from being cold after the swim, but it wasn't the huge time suck like my wetsuit failure was. Coach Andrew had already finished his race (the aqua bike) and he gave me a quick pep talk before I was off for my "little 10k" (as he called it).
   Andrew had given me pretty specific times that he wanted me to hit on the run. And based on my recent running times, I should have been able to hit them. Unfortunately, other than the first mile, I didn't. I'm not exactly sure what happened. I know that I have a huge mental block with running, especially running fast. I tried to repeat inspirational mantras while I was out there, but they didn't really help. The sun had come out and I got hot, and any little incline just killed me, which is sad because it was probably one of the flattest run courses I'll ever run. 
   I do know that I messed up my nutrition. Andrew asked me how it was when I was in transition and I said OK. But as I running, I realized that I actually hadn't eaten in a while. I had planned on taking a GU in transition, but forgot. With about an hour of running ahead of me, I knew I'd bonk if I didn't get something in me. Fortunately, the aid stations were well-stocked and I was able to pick up a GU at around mile 2.5.
   The remainder of the run was uneventful. I just kind of slogged it out the best I could. I picked out women who were ahead of me and tried to reel them in, and was actually successful on a few occasions. My final target was a 50+ year old woman who FLEW by me on the bike. I saw her with about a mile left and it took everything I had to catch her. The last .2 miles of the course was completely uphill, and I was dying, but I finally passed her. It was a small victory after completely blowing my projected times, but it was still a victory.

The final hill.  It's worse than it looks.

   After passing my rabbit, I was finally in the homestretch. REV3 put the finish line in the middle of the expo area and they really make a party of it. They also have a giant Jumbotron screen that shows you finishing, but I totally missed that because I was too focused on actually crossing the line.

Final "sprint" for the finish!

Thanks for the free finisher's photo, REV3!

WOO HOO!  I'm done!

   Since I hadn't raced since October, I had forgotten about how hard racing a triathlon is. You can train all you want, but racing is a completely different animal. It hurts...bad. But there is some weird satisfaction in knowing that everyone is hurting just as much as you are, and you're still all out there doing it.
   After a few minutes of relaxing and cooling off, I went to check the results. Turns out, I got second in my age group!  And what was even better was that my FTP training buddy Jan, got third in our AG, AND my new friend Alison (who was racked next to me) won our AG! All Nashville podium! 

Jan, me and Alison. Nashville represent! 

   Though I didn't feel great at times, overall I had a good day. Just goes to prove to never give up because you never know how everyone else is doing.  

Now THAT's a medal!

   We spent the rest of the day hanging out and waiting for Kathy to finish. She came rolling in from her 70.3 a little while later to find out that she got 3rd in her age group! I was thrilled for her after her wreck from the day before. She's a freakin' warrior.

All smiles now.

   Though I had my concerns after the shirt issue the day before, REV3 really does put on a great race. All of the courses were well-supported, the volunteers were friendly, and you could tell that the organization really wanted to do what was best for the athletes. Plus, the AG winner's swag was great. I got a box of Powerbars, some goggles (UT Vol orange, natch), some compression socks that I LOVE, the medal and a $15 GC to the REV3 store, where I bought my finisher's shirt. I'd race another REV3 event in a heartbeat. If you have one in your area, you should check them out.

   I can't end this without thanking my husband for, as always, being so supportive. Between shlepping my stuff all around Knoxville and taking photos of everything, he probably covered more distance than I did over the weekend. I wouldn't be able to do this crazy sport without him. 

Next up - The CRAM Century ride!   

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

REV3 Knoxville Olympic Triathlon Race Recap - Day 1

   This past Sunday was the REV3 Knoxville triathlon, so Saturday, the South Nashville crew (Dudley, Kathy and me), got up bright and early and headed east to Knoxville for the race.

Paris got the Eiffel Tower for their World's Fair.  Knoxville got the Sun Sphere.

   We headed out early because we wanted to hit the open water swim practice that started at 12. With a planned ETA of 11:00, we were hoping to be able to check in early, unpack and head down to the swim right around noon. Which is exactly what happened, except we weren't allows to check in until 3:00. Apparently, in addition to the triathlon, Knoxville had the College Softball Playoffs, a Children's Reading Festival and the International Biscuit Festival going on last weekend. The hotels were pretty packed, so no early check in for us. No big deal though - we just grabbed our wetsuits from the car, changed in the hotel rest room, and headed down to the boat dock for the swim, which was about a mile away. Along the way, we ran into several Nashville athletes who were in town for the race, as well as Dorothy and the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. Apparently, they were there for the Reading Festival. Still kind of random.
   Anyway, we headed down to the boathouse, which is also the home of the Lady Vol Rowing Team. Looking back, I'm actually kind of surprised at the lack of UT stuff I saw, being that we were only a few blocks from campus.
Pretty much the only UT sign I saw.

   After wet-suiting up (Barney Stinson, anyone?), we walked a little further down the dock to check out the swim layout since the course was set up. I really need to not do this because no matter what distance my race is, seeing the course layout always makes it seem SO FAR. It always makes me question my sanity as to why I do this crazy sport.
Kathy, Coach Andrew, me and Marc

That little white cap is me.

A bit closer.  Hi Dudley!  

   The purpose of this swim was to get a feel for the water and check out the temperature, which wasn't bad at all - 71 degrees. I decided right away that it was warm enough to race in my short-sleeved wetsuit. It's a little tighter, if that is possible, but I really like having my arms free when swimming. 
   While we still had a lot of race things to handle, like actually checking in to the race, we were starving so we decided to go eat after the swim. Knoxville has this cute little area with restaurants and shops called Market Square. This also happened to be where the International Biscuit Festival was being held. I wanted to check it out, but you had to pay $10 and you only got to taste five biscuits. Plus, we didn't think the extra walking would be great right before race day, so we went to a little cafe in the Square and watched the Festival from the outdoor patio. Fortunately, they had biscuits with homemade jam. Win!

I easily could have had just biscuits for lunch. I love them.

   After lunch, we went down to check in to the race, and drop off our bikes in transition. I've heard amazing things about Rev3 races - how organized they are, how well they treat their athletes, etc. I was looking forward to experiencing this first hand. 

Kathy and me under the Finish Line Arch.

   I picked up my race packet without any issues, but when I went to get my race shirt, the volunteer asked "You ordered a small, but we're out. Is a large OK?" No, that's not OK! Sorry - that's one of my peeves. I'm of the mindset that if you spend a lot of money for a race, they should at least have the shirt size that you ordered three months prior. (I also think that races should have gender-specific shirts, but that's another issue.) After speaking to a REV3 employee, they dug around in the boxes a bit and found some mediums, which still wasn't my size, but it was better than a large. Not a great first impression for REV3, but I was hoping this was a one-time hiccup. 
   The check in / expo was held in this giant field. They had check in at one area, the timing chip pick up in another and the swag bag pick up in yet another. I'm sure logistically there was a reason for this, but I thought it was a little confusing. It would have been very easy to walk out of the check in area without your timing chip or swag bag. The swag bag consisted of (because I know you're wondering) a few coupons, a REV3 sticker, a REV3 neck gaiter / headband / thing of 100 uses and a REV3 musette bag. I have no idea when I'll use the musette bag, but I think it's adorable. And I'll absolutely use the neck gaiter. Thanks REV3! You are well on your way of redeeming yourselves for not having my shirt size.

I love swag.

   Kathy and I needed to get a little ride in prior to dropping our bikes off into transition. We had noticed a few cyclists riding down by the boat dock, and knew there was an assigned bike lane there, so we headed down there for a quick spin. Unfortunately, this route took us over some of Knoxville's infamous railroad tracks. Infamous to triathletes, at least. The athlete guide actually recommended that you walk your bike over them because they're that bad. Of course, Kathy and I totally ignored that advice because we've ridden over hundreds of railroad tracks without incident...until today. On our way back to transition, Kathy's back wheel got caught in one of the tracks and she went down. Hard. I was behind her and watched the entire thing. She landed on her hip and her head. (WEAR YOUR HELMETS!) Fortunately, other than a cut finger and a GIANT bruise on her hip, she was OK. We then assessed her bike. It didn't look good. We're still trying to figure out how she did this, but there was damage on both sides of her bike. Her shifters were all askew and her front derailleur was smashed into her chain. We thought for a minute that she cracked her frame, but then realized that the crack was only a piece of protective plastic. Phew! While her race was in jeopardy, at least she wouldn't have to get a new bike! 
   I dropped my bike off in transition and went with Kathy to the expo area where REV3 had several mechanics working on bikes. I texted Coach Andrew and Dudley, told them about Kathy's wreck and asked them to meet us there. Not that they were going to work on the bikes, but they know more about bikes than we do. Both thought the bike was fixable, but whether it would be ready in time for the race was debatable. The mechanic said that they'd get to it in a few hours (they were SLAMMED), which would be after transition closed. Fortunately, REV3 was very cool about that and told Kathy that she could just drop her bike off in the morning if she needed to.  
   Since the only thing we had to do now was wait, we went to the hotel and rested for a little bit. Actually, I full-out fell asleep for an hour or so, and woke up to an empty hotel room as Dudley left to go to the store. It was about then that Kathy texted letting me know that her bike was fixed (HAZZAH!) and she was heading down to transition to drop it off.  I joined her and took what was the best photo of the day:

Smiling Kathy in transition!  

   Being that the day had been exhausting enough, we decided to not venture out for dinner. Dudley picked up some pizza on his way back from the store and we ate it in our hotel room (actually, it was a suite - the Holiday Inn upgraded our room for free because they were so crowded. Another win!). After dinner, I did one last run though of my gear, and went to bed hoping to get a few solid hours of sleep before my 5:30 alarm. I really need to find a sport where I can sleep in a little more...

Next up - RACE DAY!   

Friday, May 16, 2014

First Tri of the Season!

   Dudley and I are heading down to Knoxville, TN this weekend for the REV3 Olympic triathlon. I'm really looking forward to this race, as I've never raced a REV3 race and have heard great things about this organization.

I'm coming for you, Knoxville!

   As usual, I'm approaching this race with my usual trepidation. As much as I'd love to be one of those people who are all "I'm going to CRUSH this race," I'm really more of a "I'll do my best and see what happens" kind of girl. Not exactly Eye of the Tiger kind of stuff, but it works for me. I get nervous enough for races, I don't need the extra pressure - especially since so many things can go wrong on race day. (Update - while writing this post, I received an e-mail from my coach with details on how I'm supposed approach the race and what times I should hit. Extra pressure added...)
   Unlike last year, when the race conditions were absolutely miserable (water temps in the 50's and heavy rain all day), we're supposed to have "pretty" nice weather on Sunday. However, there is a 30% chance of rain that I'm really hoping will hold off until after I get off the bike since the course is hilly. Rain and hills don't mix well for me. I really don't want to wreck on a wet descent, break my collarbone and get knocked out of IM Chattanooga.  

Not exactly rollers...

   I also have a little dilemma regarding my wheels. My sponsor father hooked me up with a new set of race wheels. Check these out. Sexy, right? I am SO fortunate to have a father who is a bigger bike geek than I am. 

Works of art.

   The kicker with the wheels is that I only got them on Tuesday and I haven't been able to ride them yet because my mechanic Richard (who is awesome BTW. If you need a mechanic, let me know) had my bike. Since the first rule of racing is to Never Try Anything New On Race Day, I probably shouldn't use them. But LOOK at them! They are circular perfection! I'm really hoping I can try them out a bit before the race so I can use them on Sunday.
   It should be a really fun race. There are a lot of Nashville folks going down for it, including a good-sized crew from FTP, so I'll see a lot of familiar faces out on the course. That's always inspiring. Wish me luck!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Training and OCD

   I'm almost 20 weeks out from my first full Ironman. And yes, I noticed that I wrote "first full Ironman," like I'm already planning on doing another one - I'm NOT. I'm still trying to figure out how I got signed up for this one. Oh wait- I do know. Because I'm insane and feel the need to sign up for crazy things a year in advance because they SEEM like a great idea at the time! Sigh.
   Anyway, the past month or so has been very different in regards to my triathlon training. My training group, FTP Coaching, has two different programs for athletes: group training and private training. I was in the group program, but have switched to private for IMCHOO, so now I have workouts designed specifically for me and my ability. And...while awesome, is making me a little nuts.
   Surprisingly, there hasn't been a huge difference in the amount of time I'm training - yet. I'm actually working out less actual time-wise, than I was a month ago. This is mainly because of my obsessive need to join in every run / race / ride my friends are doing. Before switching over to private training, pretty much anytime one of my friends was looking for a workout partner, I'd volunteer. But no more. I'm sticking to the IM schedule and only the IM schedule. One would think this would help my obsessive behavior of signing up for everything, right?
   Not so much, because now I'm obsessing about what I'm missing. It's so frustrating to see my friends sign up for a race and not being about to join them...because I want to do EVERYTHING. Example - I REALLY want to run the Hope & Possibility 5 miler this weekend, but am I? Nope. I'm going to be doing a Run/Bike/Run brick somewhere on the Natchez Trace. I also really want to do the Running with the Goats Trail Run in July - because who DOESN'T want to run with goats, right? But will I? Probably not. I don't exactly know what I'll be doing that weekend, but I'm pretty sure running with goats isn't something my coach will have on my training schedule.
   However, it's the more detailed training has really taken my obsessiveness to a new level. I've always been one of those people who would run extra because my Garmin HAD to register the exact distance I was planning on doing. Can't stop my run at 4.97 miles - nope! Have to take it all the way to an even 5 miles. Now that I have actual paces that I'm supposed to hit in every workout, as well as distances, my OCD is off the charts. It's a good and bad thing. Good because I'm working hard and I think it'll pay off when I get down to Chattanooga. Bad because I really beat myself up if I don't hit every workout exactly. While I know there might be other factors contributing to why I'm not nailing a specific workout (diet, weather), it doesn't really matter at the time. If I don't hit the workout - I suck.
   To make it even worse, Training Peaks (TP), which is the system that my coach uses to schedule my workouts, has a color-coded system on their mobile app that tells you if you hit your workout or not. After you upload your data for the day, your workout will be highlighted in one of three colors.  Red means (in my mind, not officially) "Nope - you suck." Yellow mean "You showed up and made the attempt." And, of course, green means "Rock Star!" I really, really hate seeing red after I upload my workout.
   You want to know how crazy I am with this stupid color-coded system that only I can see? This past week, my coach had written a swim workout that was 2,200 meters, but had posted in TP that the swim was 2,500 meters. Guess who swam an extra 300 meters so their TP app would show green for that workout? This girl! Not that the extra time in the pool hurt me any, but the point is that I'm a little nutty. I know this and am working on it.
   What's funny is that after reading this, you're probably thinking that I'm obsessive like this about everything - how neat my house is, that my clothes aren't wrinkled, etc. Nope. It's pretty much just workout stuff (and spreadsheets. Oh, how I love a good spreadsheet). Weird, huh? Although, I guess if you're training for your first Ironman, being obsessive about your training isn't necessarily a bad thing.
   Happy Training!  See you on the road!   

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

First Ride in Chattanooga

   This past Saturday, a group of us from Nashville headed over to Chattanooga to ride the IM bike course.  For anyone looking for a detailed report on the course broken down by mile markers and gearing - this is not that kind of report.  Sorry, I'm not that much of a gear head.  If you're looking for an overall impression of the course - read on...
   I'd been a little frightened of the course ever since it was announced.  All I've heard was how hilly it was and and brutal it'll be...and THEN I saw an elevation map of the route.  I mean, LOOK at this thing!  It's one giant incline for the first half and then a little kicker at the end!  And we have to ride it TWICE!


   But then I rode it, and you know what?  It's not that bad. There are some false flats and a few rollers, but nothing too crazy.  There was one hill that seemed a lot harder than it should be, but that's more due to my fitness than the course.  Don't get me wrong, this course will still hurt, especially on the second loop, but if you train in the Nashville area (especially on the Trace), you should be fine... I think...I've never done an Ironman before so I wouldn't take my opinion too seriously.
   The scenery was beautiful. Lots of rolling farmland. Of course, we had to stop and take a few photos - because that's what we do.  Plus, it's not like I'm going to stop and take photos on race day.

I see you, Baby Horse!  

The previously mentioned rolling farmland...

And, of course, cows.

   What I wasn't so happy about were the number of railroad tracks on the course. I lost count of them, but there were several sets. Fortunately, I think all of them were out of service so we won't have to worry about a train randomly roaring through during the race and holding us up, however the tracks are quite the hazard. I'm hoping the race directors will cover them with some sort of mat, otherwise I foresee a few falls due to the tracks, as well as a lot of lost water bottles.
   If you go and ride the course, be aware of a few things:
  • Some of the roads aren't all. There were several times when we had to pull out our phones with GPS to find out where the heck we were and what road we were on. Once you ride the course, you'll realize it's not that bad. I actually think I could go back out there next weekend without a map and be OK. However, it was a little confusing the first time out. 
  • Lack of convenience stores along the route. Not that this is a bad thing, but you need to be prepared and know you're not going to have a place to refuel or a restroom once you get into the country. 
  • Car traffic. Most of the time, we didn't have any issues. We were so far out in the country that no one bothered us. However, once you get closer to Chickamauga, traffic picks up. It got a little sketchy there for a bit. One girl in our group was nearly clipped by a truck who was blowing his horn and just being an overall jerk. He only missed her by a few inches. Pretty scary and totally unnecessary. 
   While I will go out to Chattanooga to ride the course again, I might not go out as frequently as I had originally planned. I know it's good to ride the course as much as possible, and I'm very thankful I'm only two hours away from Chattanooga so I can go back when needed, but I think I can train more effectively here because the terrain is hillier. Of course, that may change with one call from my Coach. We'll see. Until then, Happy Training!!  

See you on the road!