I can finally say that I am in the process of tapering for Ironman Wisconsin. If you’re unfamiliar with what that means, I will be traveling to Madison to participate in a “race” that consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run.
I was looking forward to the long hours of August training and now that I’ve gotten through it, I am finally excited for race day. I’ve also been working on improving my swim stroke, not to get faster, but to avoid movements that cause pain. After just one critiqued session, my hip and back pain are significantly more manageable. I’m attempting to take in more water and calories but my appetite left me weeks ago. I’m ready to give gels and energy bars a break after this is over. I’ve taken notice that I haven’t slept well at all since Monday. For now, I will blame it on decreased workout duration and a moody cat.
I’m starting to finally read about the course and what to expect on race day. I don’t usually like to study races too far out from the race because I find that I spend too much of my energy obsessing over minor details instead of staying focused on my training. I’ve heard enough already. I get it -- hills everywhere! I find thinking about training stressful enough so I avoid getting caught up in message boards about whether a race will be wetsuit legal, studying elevation charts and other rules unique to this particular race. (I did that a couple weeks ago and caused me deep concern and frustration.) The point is, there’s nothing else I can do now to prepare other than eat, sleep and stay healthy.
Ten days to go!
I haven’t posted an update since January when I did Rock ‘N Roll New Orleans Half Marathon about what I’ve been doing to prepare for my big event this year -- Ironman Wisconsin. Since January, I’ve only done two organized events -- the Silverback Sprint Triathlon and my 14th Bix 7. After New Orleans, I got into a great routine of triathlon training, slowing increasing my workload every month and looking forward to testing out my fitness in June at the Legends 70.3 distance. Along the way, I ran into some major “challenges” (some are good challenges!). In February, I put my condo on the market and by the beginning of April, I had sold my condo, moved, got engaged, started planning a wedding and made an annual weekend trip home to Iowa for Easter. I was mentally maxed out by the beginning of April when it was time to turn 30 years old! I was excited for the “big day” and Adam had taken off work to spend the day with me exercising and indulging in Kansas City’s best food and drink offerings. Well….
On April 9th, my 30th birthday, Adam and I set out for a windy bike ride in Wyandotte Lake Park. If there’s two things I can’t stand when biking, it’s cold and wind. The wind was blowing around 20mph on this day but we made it to the park. Wrapping up our first hilly lap, I was stung by something which led to immediate pain in my left quad. I reacted in an unfortunate way by squeezing the brakes and flying overtop my handlebars. Before I knew it Adam and a nearby fisherman were standing over me trying to figure out what to do. I finally got my breath to talk, swore I’d never ride again, and was picked up by our amazing friend Debbie.
I had road rash pretty severely on my ride shoulder and back, but other than that, a knick on the ankle and hip was all that needed patching. I had also hit my head pretty hard, threw away my cracked helmet and was in bed for 10 days with some banged up ribs. Overall, I was lucky, but it made for a miserable start to April. I can easily say I’ve never been tested more than in the month of April 2015. If there’s a bright side, Adam seemed to handle me with extreme care and help nurse me back to health. All the while accidentally giving me poison oak which in conjunction with the road rash, kept me out of the pool for two full weeks.
Starting to feel better, I unfortunately experienced a back injury as a result of potting flowers and bending over to feed my cat. May was full of resting and stretching and getting proper medical attention to help me overcome all of the lower back pain. And then June… No way was I ready to do a 70.3 distance. I could hardly bend over without sharp pain in my back but I opted to at least attempt the sprint distance. I had a slight panic attack in the choppy waters of Clinton Lake but overall, survived the triathlon and started long-term recovery from back problems.
Fast forward two months. I’ve hit over 15 hours per week on average in the month of August. This is below average for an Ironman triathlete, by the way. Some call it “peak” training time. I call it ROCK BOTTOM! Nothing about how I feel right now is screaming “peak” to me. I sleep hard, train long, eat hard and can barely manage close relationships (excluding Adam, he’s hanging in there with me exceptionally well). I simply do not understand how people train for these long races. I’m spent. I wish I could get to the point where I can start thinking about future Ironman races, but I can’t even imagine trying to train like this ever again. I’m tired of being in bed around 8:30, I’m tired of packing a massive lunch because I know I’ll be so hungry after a 3000m+ swim, and I’m tired of every mile of a long run feeling like the last mile of a marathon.
I’m also tired of complaining, so thank you for catching up with me and reading about my progress. I promise I’m in a happy place right now. I’m just exhausted and ready to be merry and to be married. I really hope that someone... anyone who reads this doesn’t feel like they’re the only one who struggles with the long, dedicated hours of training that goes into any long event.
My race is in three weeks. The “taper” starts this week but I’m not so quick to call it a taper. I’m still biking for 5 hours on the weekend and running almost 3 hours on Sunday.
A few weekends ago, I got to spend the weekend with my favorite former and fellow Coe alum, Elaina Mertens. We were down in New Orleans for a winter "vacation", trying to escape the deep freeze of the north. All weekend, we stuffed ourselves with NOLA's famous cuisines, fueling for our Sunday races. I did the half marathon and Elaina ran the marathon.
My focus since transitioning to triathlons last year has been mostly on improving my swimming and figuring out how to get better on the bike, which is arguably the worst of the three for me. Without much running prior to the half marathon, I felt that I could at least relax and enjoy the city. Lucky for me, Elaina is in tremendous shape and allowed me to relax and run faster than I thought I would.
The first few miles were somewhere between 7:40 and 7:50. For her, this was just under the pace she was trying to hit. For me, I hadn't seen these splits since last winter at the same race. I wondered if I would be able to run half her distance at this same pace. We were feeling so good through about 8 miles that our splits started finding the 7:20s. At this point, I was confident that I would at least be close to my PR and she would smash hers in the marathon.
At mile 12, the pace caught up to me. I still got a little faster (about 7:10), but my achilles was starting to feel sore and I knew I should have been more prepared for the race. I crossed the finish line in 1:39, one minute away from my best, which was set in 2011. I have to admit I was disappointed but surprised I was able to get to the finish line that fast.
I was celebrating my race with a traditional Rock n Roll Marathon Michelob Ultra, waiting for Elaina to finish… and she got there quickly! In 3:15, she set a huge 9-minute PR and ran 5 minutes faster than my finishing time during her second half marathon.
In commemoration of our Coe College days, we hit Bourbon Street hard to celebrate a fun weekend. We are both about 9 months out of Ironman Wisconsin. It's safe to say we are moving along toward that day quite well so far this year!
Next up: Looking forward to spring and outdoor bike rides.
Yesterday marked the first official day of triathlon training for me. I'm excited to look ahead to the summer season and prepare for some big events. Most of my winter training with include sweaty indoor bike training sessions, three to four swims every week, and freezing cold outside running, which, of course, is still my favorite of the three. During the three coldest months and three hottest months of the year, I have a few extra afternoon hours to really get into the thick of training. This is what the 2015 season will look for me (as of today):
January 25th: New Orleans Mardi Gras Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon - You have to have SOME fun, right? This is my favorite winter event and a nice breath of fresh, humid air.
June 7th: Legend 70 Triathlon at Clinton Lake in Lawrence, KS. Since Ironman pulled out of Kansas, Silverback picked up a series of races of a few different distances on the same weekend. Despite experiencing some terrible course support last year from the same host, this was just too convenient and inexpensive to pass up.
July 25th: Bix 7 in Davenport, IA. Continuing the Flogel family tradition, this will be my 14th Bix and 2nd Annual Flogel v. Outlaws best shot golf tournament and one weekend I won't ever miss if I can help it.
September 13th: Ironman Wisconsin. This is the big one! …And the same reason why I've been splashing around in the pool since October to maintain balanced fitness going into training season. The events of this day will be my main focus this whole year and the anticipation is already consuming me.
I'm hoping to add one more triathlon, perhaps in July. In the meantime, I'll be busy with training between 10-20 hours/week in preparation for the big day, getting lots of rest and working on fueling properly so I can stay as healthy as possible. More to come!
Sadly, yesterday was the last triathlon of my season at the inaugural Cedar Creek Triathlon. Other than the long walk from the car with gear and bike in hand, all else ran very smoothly. I would definitely recommend this race to anyone if they plan to have this event again next year. The air temperature was about 55 degrees so with bare feet and minimal clothing on, I was FA-REEZING! With steam coming off the lake, I knew I would warm up immediately once I got into the water. The water temperature was 78 so being in the warm, muddy water unthawed my poor little toes.
The swim went TERRIBLY! I need new goggles (and probably bigger swimming muscles). A really bright glare was coming off the lake so it was impossible to see where I was going. It ended up being about 100 meters longer than planned and I don't know if that was because of a longer than expected course or I was swimming all over that lake!
When I came out of the lake, I must have passed about 20 people on the bike and another dozen on the run. I had my fastest bike of the season, creeping closer to 20mph. Maybe next year! The run felt easy (as easy as it could feel after pedaling hard for 30 minutes). I came in 2nd in my age group and 5th overall female. It was a small race so I'm not celebrating but will come away with more confidence that I'm getting stronger on the bike.
The offseason starts NOW! I'm going to start lifting again (I promise…), get a better bike trainer, and swim harder. Next year I plan to do a few shorter races and an Ironman. I would like to do either the Kansas 70.3 again or ITU Chicago (olympic distance). I'm thinking IM Wisconsin or Louisville would work best so I would have all summer to prepare. Although it would be great to do one in the late spring in Texas, I'm not sure 3-5 hour bike trainer sessions are in the cards for me. Doing one early in the summer would allow me to have a life in the summer though…
Here's some candy for the eyes from yesterday. Triathlons are so glamorous!
Since taking a dip in the pool for the first time last fall, going through swimming lessons, and progressively getting stronger, I'm feeling more and more pressure to join a master's class. At the end of my swimming lessons last winter, Coach Ann has been on me to go. Then, the more time I spent swimming alone, the more I've been approached to join. Just today, as I politely informed someone who was sharing a lane that I was leaving, he immediately asked why he hasn't seen me at a master's swim. I said I'm "new" to swimming and "those people" are too intense for me. He didn't welcome that response and by the time I was leaving, he ended our conversation with "I'll see you on Monday." Okay……….
It's time for me to stop acting like a novice swimmer. As much as I imagine my water anxiety returning as I'm surrounded by people that have swam two decades longer than me, I know it will make be a better athlete. It's just the same if I were training for my first marathon comfortably at a 9 minute mile pace and not running with people who run 8:30s or even 8:45s just because I thought they were way better than me. It doesn't make sense to abandon working out with those who can help you improve.
I've been known to be overly competitive in almost everything -- running, conversing, driving (watch out!), vacationing….And of course, I am never wrong!! Sometimes you have to let go of the ego to achieve self-advancement. Being the slowest swimmer will not make me a bad person nor will people go home to their families and tell them how terrible the new girl was in the pool. If either of those were true, I would be living in my parents basement by now hiding from a very cruel and punishing world.
It's time to party in the pool. See you Monday, random JCC pool bully!
So I finally got in the pool this week! After my OKC bike accident, my elbow was strangely awkward and swollen (not to mention road-rashed) for about a month. Last week, the swelling and pain was finally gone and now I'm in the scarring process. Anyway -- it's amazing what you take for granted. Yes, everyone says that after going through anything. Well, I found out that without a healthy elbow, I can't really be an effective athlete.
Things you need your elbow for if you're an athlete:
1. Holding yourself up on a bicycle
3. Putting your hair in a ponytail
4. Opening a jar of peanut butter
5. Peeling vegetables and cutting things
Imagine my life without a ponytail!! Most people don't recognize me with my hair down.
I'm back in the pool and feeling great, and somehow I'm faster than before. I've been spending most of my time on my bike and running 4-8 mile runs at a tempo pace so I think I'm on track to do a triathlon or two before 2014 is gone. I'm looking at doing the Jackson County triathlon, most likely the olympic distance and now I've got my eye on Austin 70.3.
My week vacation coming up to exotic northeast Iowa will help me solidify my decision while I clear my head and avoid my personal life for a while. Can't wait to be home on the open road and cruising down the Mighty Mississippi!
Although I had never officially decided to pull the trigger on 140.6, I was left with no choice after what I will call a "learning experience"/accident during a trip to see my friend Carla in Oklahoma City last month.
My training had been spotty at best after Kansas 70.3 but I still felt like my fitness was at a good place. I had recently gotten aerobars and a new seat on my bike to help get me faster and more comfortable for longer rides. The very first time I was out with my new additions, I cut my leg enough that it at least grossed me out. I got stitched up enough though that leaving it covered so I didn't see it was tolerable.
Three days later on my weekend trip to OKC, I left pretty early on Sunday morning from the hotel and was about 9 miles into my ride when I was flying through an intersection in the aero position when I completely wiped out. Remembering how I was skidding across the concrete still gives me shivers. The worst part about all of it was that while I was face planted on the street, I would guesstimate that about two dozen people drove by without offering any assistance. Not that I needed it, but I remember thinking "I swear, if I get up and I see a bone sticking out I'm going to pass out." I wouldn't have known what to do. I called Carla immediately and she was there within 20 minutes to pick up my bloodied arms and legs. Conveniently, she is a DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) so she was able to assess my injury. The elbow was the worst point of impact and it was definitely swollen but I still had basic, although minimal, range of motion. We stopped by a local gas station and bought some first aid necessities and she had me cleaned up and bandaged by the time I needed to head home. In total, my left elbow had some mean road rash and swelling/bursitis, my left knee was swollen with road rash, I had a huge golf ball-sized lump on my right shin bone, some sore ribs, and a sore left eyebrow from my helmet. I was lucky!
I was broken mentally that my arm mobility was so limited, not to mention throbbing when it wasn't elevated. It was pretty uncomfortable to sleep for about a week and a half. I was able to run a few days later although it was so stiff but couldn't quite make the call at that point. It's been a month since this has happened and I'm still limited and haven't been able to get back in the pool. I refused to expose open wounds to a pool. Other athletes have insisted that it'll stay clean in a pool, but pool chemicals are generally not great for you anyway so common sense tells me to keep open wounds out of the water. I let Katie know that I wouldn't be joining her in Louisville, which still hurts my insides to think about not going anymore.
The good news is that presently, my road rash is in the scarring phase and my elbow range of motion is slow close to being useable in a pool. I hope to regroup in the pool next week and start pushing the long rides again. I'm in a bit of a rut so my next race is up in the air. (I'm going home this weekend to do the Bix7 for the 13th time…but that doesn't count!) I'm sad to say that I will revisit 140.6 again in 2015. I'm thinking Wisconsin or Louisville (if it gets moved to October.)
…And I'm hoping a certain family member is joining me…. (Does she even read these??)
Nine months ago I was barely splashing through a couple breathless laps at the JCC pool. Nine days ago, I swam 1.2 miles in a murky lake, biked 56 hilly miles, and flew through a half marathon all in 6 hours and 9 minutes.
The morning of the race was tense after two sleepless nights sleeping at the campground inside the park where the race was to start. We had an ideal camping spot -- closer than a hundred yards from the finish line. I'm debating internally if I could have finished better had I slept in my own bed both nights of the race. Regardless of my front row campsite, it was fun being in the race atmosphere the entire weekend. It meant that for being a beginner, I had resources to help me figure out what exactly I needed to do on the morning of the race.
My training buddy Tim and I left the campsite at 5am to set up T2 and to meet Katie to head down to where the swim was to start as well as setting up T1. At this point, I had heard a thousand times, "Are you ready?" I think it's such a strange question to ask someone who is about to start a race. Ready or not, the race is happening and it doesn't matter either way.
After exiting the transition area, we waiting casually to get in the water with our age groups. About ten minutes before I was to get in the water, a girl who I used to coach at Aquinas spotted me and kept me company for the remaining minutes. I don't know how anyone recognizes anyone in ridiculous triathlon outfits, especially a swim cap and wetsuit. We hopped in the water about 15 minutes late and we were off! Although I thought the swim was the highlight of the event, it seemed to have gone on for an eternity.
Swim time: 41:09
Transition One: 2:31 -- almost 2 minutes faster than at the KC Triathlon. What was I doing at the KC Tri? Painting my nails? Brushing my teeth? Bird watching?
I ran out of the lake with a big smile on my face. Although being run over by a fast group of men behind us, I felt like I had swam comfortably and had gone in a relatively straight line. I couldn't believe how much fun it was, and I was ready for the bike. I took significant time off of my first transition and I didn't even use the wetsuit "strippers". In fact, I didn't even notice that they were there. I felt good about 41 minutes.
I hopped on my bike feeling confident. As I exited the park and began to climb the first long hill across the dam, I didn't feel quite right. My legs felt like I had biked for days. I tried to tell myself that it would take a little bit to get in the groove, but that did not happen. Right around mile 20, I had a hard time controlling my anxiety about how my legs were feeling. I tried to keep pushing, but kept losing confidence as people who appeared much less fit than me were passing me like I was going 5 mph.
I felt like I had been biking forever. I was so frustrated. I thought I had prepared for the hilly course and was completely defeated and devastated when I pulled up to the second transition.
Bike time: 3:36:54 OMG!!!
Transition Two: 1:28
After the disappointing bike ride, I had a pretty smooth transition and shot out of the transition area looking forward to how I was going to feel going into the 13.1 mile final leg.
I could tell within the first couple miles that I would have a decent run as long as I kept taking in water and Gatorade. I was greeted by my adoring fans (aka Mom and Dad, my boyfriend and my sister and her husband. My longtime friend and client Vicky also showed!). I must have seen my fan club at least 30 times. I needed it! I couldn't stop smiling once I realized I was going to have a good run. I gained over 100 places in the female division and 13 places in my own age group. I couldn't believe how easily the run had come to me. I spent very little time worrying about the run during my training and I was extremely satisfied with my finish.
Run time: 1:47:32
Finishing time: 6:09:34
My initial concluding thoughts were filled with disappointment, frustration, and embarrassment. My expectations were ruined following a tiring bike ride. Since then, my friends and family have been extremely supportive and encouraging when I'm sure the last thing they wanted to hear from me were complaints about my overall time. I had worked hard and spent hundreds of hours on the bike and in the pool anticipating this day. I trained and I finished my first long triathlon.
And so now what?
Here are my options:
- Rest/do normal stuff like half and full marathons
- Another Half Ironman in October
- Full Ironman in August
I should have wrote about this a few weeks ago when it was fresh in my mind. I completed my first "real" triathlon on May 18th!
After my "successful" open water swim earlier in the week, I thought I had shook off the rookie nerves but when I got into the sand at Longview Lake beach, I said "what am I doing???" I ended up being just fine although I certainly didn't break any records swimming. Maybe this was because I looked up after about a minute of swimming and I wasn't going in the right direction... Anyway, I straightened out and managed to pass a bunch of people at the end of it. I was shocked and amused about what I saw when I raised my head out of the water to breathe. Several people were doing a backstroke and some others were doggy-paddling to save their life.
And then the swim was over! My journey of 1) learning how to swim, 2) getting over my fear of deep water, and 3) feeling good in the water was complete. It only took 8 months....
My cold little feet scrambled to my first transition. The barefoot run was pretty painful but I managed to do what I thought was a smooth T1. After the race, the numbers didn't appear to show that it was smooth. Over 4 minutes - yikes! I took off and mounted my bike and continued on.
The bike right ended up being about what I expected. It was a hilly-ish course and I did it in about 50 minutes and 18 mph. I lost some ground trying to remove my feet from my shoes but then I was off and the bike was over.
I don't remember the last time I ran a 5k. I had no idea what I could run such a short race in so I just stuck to keeping my respiration rate at a healthy level. I finished it in just over 23 minutes and feel okay with it. I'm not much of a "sprinter".
I was greeted kindly at the finish line by my supporters. Even the Flogels got to witness my first triathlon. My mom looked at the results and told me I got third or fourth in my age group. When I got the printed receipt, it said I had won my age group... Ummm??!! So I got a cool beer mug trophy and a satisfied feeling that finishing Kansas 70.3 is not only possible but will be fun!! I'm addicted....