Go! Saint Louis Half Marathon and Training Updates

Two Sundays ago I got to race again! Go! Saint Louis was going to put on a modified race weekend, which included a full and half marathon, to say I was excited was an understatement. This year they split the half-marathon to be on Saturday and Sunday and the full on Sunday, both with reduced field sizes and in groups of 50 going off every 10 minutes. They also changed the course to accommodate the two day and longer than usual length of event, so it was going to be a little different than previous years, but still exciting.

I had ‘raced’ a half marathon at the end of January as part of the Frostbite Series and my legs didn’t show up. I was disappointed with my time and also wondering if my 1:41:06 from last year’s race was a fluke. So I signed up for this race with the expectations that I would prove the 1:41 was a legit time I was capable of. No pressure! As the day approached the weather looked not conducive to a PR, Saturday’s forecast was 60’s and rain (humidity, ugh) and Sunday’s was clear, in the 40’s but windy. I was running Sunday, but almost preferring the wet and slightly warmer conditions to the 13+mph winds predicted.

The race course was a point to point, with shuttles taking the participants from the finish to the start. Most of the course was a pedestrian/bike path along the Mississippi river, so I was looking forward to a flat-ish course. When we were dropped off at the start I realized I was totally underdressed. I had a throwaway hoodie I was wearing, but perhaps shorts and a short sleeved shirt were a poor choice with how cold the wind was making things. I also really regretted not wearing a pair of cheap throwaway gloves. My hands were freezing and having Raynaud’s, I usually wear them even if it will only be slightly cold because once they get cold, they don’t function well. Ugh. I huddled with a few other runners in the back of an empty loading truck to stay out of the wind, and about 10 minutes before my wave lined up, I left to attempt some sort of warmup, even though it was the last thing I wanted to do.

After a short warmup and some strides/drills, I headed to my wave and prepared to freeze when I took off my hoodie. For a while I contemplated just racing in it, but I figured if I needed to take it off it would be a huge pain with my handheld, and also I’d have to time it right at an aid station so it wasn’t considered littering…so, I just took it off. Off we went, I tried to get into a groove and realized I wasn’t hearing anything from my headphones. I pushed the play button on my headphones again but nothing. Grr… I had picked which playlist to play but accidentally turned it off instead of turning the screen off, so I fumbled to get it out of my short while ‘racing’, turn it on, push play, and stuff it back in my shorts. Meanwhile the wind was insane, I actually began leaning forward so the wind wasn’t pushing me back, and the path was also flooded in some spots from the heavy rain the day before, so I was also weaving around in the grass trying to avoid super muddy shoes. My first mile split popped up at 8:08. Sh#t. My plan was 7:50 for the first few miles, then settle in 7:45 and then the last couple see what was left. My iPod fiasco cost me some time. I was so mad I picked up the pace (in the dang headwind) and added some pep into my step. I made sure to not go too crazy since I still had most of the race to go, but I didn’t want to get my legs settled into a slow pace for too long or it would be harder to pick it up as the miles go on.

My next few mile splits were much better (and probably a little too fast, but that first mile split really got to me) Mile 2 7:42, Mile 3 7:37, Mile 4, 7:41, Mile 5 7:36. I took my gel around mile 5 and since my hands were frozen, I struggled to even open the gel, only got it halfway open and then tried to just squeeze/bite the gel out which resulted it some of it going down the wrong pipe. So then I was choking, just like Go! 2018 at mile 12 with the gel when I thought I was going to pass out, so I just thought ‘NOT AGAIN’, drank water, kept clearing my throat and was able to not pass out, lol. Mile 6 7:41, Mile 7 7:41, this is where the wheels feel off during the half in January and I was still feeling good, so that gave me an extra boost knowing that my legs were still in the game. Mile 8 7:40, Mile 9 7:49 (short but very steep hill), Mile 10, 7:47… I was started to feel like I was running low on energy and took my second gel with no incidents, hooray. Mile 11 7:48, Mile 12 7:51 (reallllly really big long ass hill, I was surprised I didn’t go into the 8’s), Mile 13, 7:35 (thrilled to have gone up the hill and be on my way to the finish, and the last bit I was hauling ass at 6:43. 1:41:26

Believe it or not, this was the ‘best’ photo. I was making some very angry finish line faces.

So I finished strong! No PR but very close and I do think the Frostbite course was a little short. I also was really happy that I was able to truck up that hill at mile 12 and still able to add some speed in at the end. It also proved I’m getting closer to breaking 1:41 and the half last year wasn’t a fluke. So I walked away happy (and skipped my cooldown which I regretted the next day having sore legs) and vowed to not sign up for another race anytime soon to try and beat that PR, I had IM training to do!

Training the week after the Go! Half was a recovery week, so I did some easy swim/bike/run, but nothing too crazy. This week is the first of two big training blocks before IMCDA, which will hopefully include long rides outside as I’m still on the trainer due to it *still* not being warm enough on the weekends to ride. We’ve have some nice weekdays but the timing hasn’t worked out for a Saturday morning when I have to get my rides done as I don’t usually have enough time on Sundays. I’m ready though, I’ve ridden the CDA 70.3 bike course on Rouvy quite a few times (an app that simulates bike courses) and I can’t fake my way through 112 miles on that course…well let’s be honest, not matter the course, I can’t do that and then run 26.2 after!

I am also once again switching up my bike/run nutrition, in 2018 after IM Chattanooga I decided I was done with Infinit on the bike, I just couldn’t take the sugary drink again for another 112 mile race, so I set out to switch to something different. Last year I was trying Nuun Endurance combined with Honeystinger Chew/Clif Block’s/Skratch Lab Bars, to try to stick with liquid for hydration and solid food for nutrition. However I discovered Skratch bars were really hard to eat while riding at a decent effort (too much crunchy chewing) and Clif Block’s upset my stomach on the run (probably due to the maltodextrin), but races never happened so I didn’t end up with a new game plan.

This winter I saw Skratch Labs came out with a new drink mix called Superfuel that has 400 calories a serving, is super light tasting and per their site “contains a carbohydrate that digests steadily, like real food does: Cluster Dextrin”. This sounded like it could be my solution, so I ordered two packages and crossed my fingers. So far I have only tried it once while riding 3h on the trainer, it was strange because it does hardly have any flavor, however my stomach seemed ok and energy levels were good, but I will see how it does when actually doing longer rides outside combined with runs off the bike.

Other than those updates, that’s about it, I’m just going to keep my head down for three weeks and get in some serious training, take a breather for a week, head down for three more and then taper, easy enough, right? 🙂

Happy Monday!

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Frostbite Series Recap and Training Updates

It’s been some time since my last post, I have still been running, biking and swimming… and doing a little racing. Races have been hit or miss due to COVID, so when the Saint Louis Track Club was putting on their annual Frostbite Series (with some safe racing modifications) I signed up as soon as registration opened! I signed up for the long series again this year, I figured with having a big base from the 50 mile race, I should probably try to keep up with the longer runs on the weekends. Also I need motivation to get out in the cold, otherwise, NOPE. Last year I was coming back from a strained hip flexor injury so I started the series out conservative and as my hip flexor felt better, I was able to push the pace. However this year I was healthy (hooray) so I was excited to see what paces I had in me.

The way they had this series this year was that the short series started at 7a, the long series started at 9a, and runners would start in waves in an assigned small group, going off every 5 minutes. I wasn’t sure how I felt about starting that late, but in the end I loved starting later in the morning since the temps were a little warmer and I got to wake up at a less crazy early time than I would for the usual 7a start.

The first race was a 12k, since it was so short I didn’t have to worry about nutrition, I just needed to run, and run fast! It was in the low 40’s so I decided to wear the compression shorts I had worn during ultra training that were super comfy. I lined up with my little group, the person at the start said ‘go’ and off we went. The first mile I got a little caught up in the adrenaline and went out too fast with a 7:12 mile. I reigned it back in for the next mile while realizing I hadn’t run fast in these shorts, just long slow miles and they had scrunched up far enough looking like serious bootie shorts. Ugh. So the next 5ish miles I tried to keep a strong pace (mostly in the 7:20’s) and finish so I could pull them down and stop showing way more skin than anyone wanted to see. When I crossed the finish I was thrilled to see 55:59 with an avg pace of 7:25!

The next race was 10 miles, this time it was chillier out so I wore tights and also brought along a gel to take halfway. It was also the day after Christmas and I had eaten my body weight in carbs (especially my mother in-laws delicious homemade mac and cheese) and was feeling pretty sluggish and was sure my body wasn’t going to cooperate, but I figured I better just show up and see how it goes. I started out this time at a more conservative pace, 7:42, which was much slower than my planned pace, but figured it was better than too fast. After that mile I picked up the pace and was able to stay in the 7:30’s for the most part, even on some big hills, which I was proud of. I crossed the finish line in 1:16:10, an avg pace of 7:31, 10 seconds faster per mile than last year, yeah!

The third race was a 20k, I decided it was tights from here on out, so I wore those and grabbed a gel to take halfway, which in hindsight I probably should have taken two. I started out at a decent pace in the 7:30’s and was hoping to hold it for the rest of the race to see if it was a realistic Half Marathon pace goal being so close to that distance. Legs felt good until about mile 7, then they started feeling heavy so I knew I was going to have to really push to try to hit the goal HM pace. The back half of the course had some big long hills that I struggled to stay on pace, but made up for it on the downhills and crossed the finish in 1:35:37, a 7:40 pace, so I was happy! I just needed to hold that pace for .6ish more miles the next race, not much more, right? Totally doable.

The fourth race, the Half Marathon, I was feeling a little self-imposed pressure since this time it felt like a ‘real race’ since it was a ‘real distance’, which is silly, but other than a 5k, 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon, I don’t run any of the other distances much so it’s hard to really compare my time to see what kind of shape I’m in. So this was a good indicator of fitness (in my mind at least). Tights again and this time grabbed two gels, to take one at mile 5ish and one at mile 10ish. I debated bringing my handheld water bottle but was worried my hands would be too cold holding it as I like to make fists when I run to keep them warm. I also wasn’t sure where to put my second gel as I wasn’t going to put anything in my back pocket, no chance in hell I’d be able to unzip it and get anything out with my cold fingers (even with gloves, my hands lose their dexterity when running in the cold), so I decided to stuff in it my waistband and hope it wouldn’t fall down inside my pants, lol.

The first mile I went out at a 7:45 pace, slower than I had wanted, but knew I could pick it up. Settled in the low 7:40’s, high 7:30’s for the next few miles, and then after I took my gel around mile 6, it felt HARD. My legs felt heavy (more than the last week) and I just thought crap, I have SEVEN MORE MILES?! I was feeling defeated and my paces showed it as they slowly crept up to the high 7:40’s, then 7:50’s and mile 10 was an 8:15. Ouch. I was trying to push but my body wasn’t having it today. I finally decided to quit looking at my watch and just try to finish strong, whatever that pace might be. I crossed the finish in 1:42:54, almost 2 minutes slower than my goal pace, with an avg of 7:52 pace. Man that bummed me out. Had the previous three weeks been a fluke and just really ‘on’ days for my legs? I had probably put too much focus on this one race and so in the end, since outcome wasn’t what I hoped, I was really bummed out. However after a day of quietly moping, I snapped out of it and just got back to training.

The final race, a 15k, I decided I was going to bring hell to the race course and finish as strong as I could. It was the last race of the series and I was also done racing in the cold. It was 19 degrees feels like 12 when I checked my weather app before I left my house. Yuck. The first mile was 7:28, I felt good with that pace, but just kept making sure I was putting in a hard effort but not too hard so I could last the entire race. As the miles went by in the 7:20’s I felt good and legs felt much better then they did the last race. I saw a few miles in 7:30’s on hills, but nothing indicating I was going to blow up like the last race as I still was feeling good, just the usual ‘going up a hill’ kind of pace. When I saw the mile 7 marker I just thought ‘just keep pushing and don’t screw this up, you can handle these last two miles, just hang on’. And I did! Mile 8 was 7:24, 9 was 7:20 and the last bit was 7 min pace. I finished strong in 1:08:53 with an avg pace of 7:26. I felt satisfied with that pace and relieved that the earlier races were in fact NOT a fluke.

An added bonus to having faster times in the series this year, I also placed 1st in my age group! I think I might retire from this race series on that note! 🙂

Outside of the race series, I’ve been swimming and riding (indoors) slowly building up for IM CDA in June. I have definitely lost some fitness on the bike since I mostly focused on running this fall, but it’s slowly coming back. On the swimming front my coach has me doing a challenge to swim EVERY DAY in February (at least 2100y), so swimming paces are also getting back some speed. I did miss three days due to a snowstorm we had last week, closing the gym for the whole day Monday, and then they also had a late start that Tuesday due to snow and had to work late that night. Then that Thursday I had some broken kitchen sink pipes drama Thursday and had no energy left for the pool after that. Four more days left and I will have swam 25 of 28 days in February! My skin is going to be so happy when this is done, it’s been soooo dry and itchy regardless of how much lotion I use. However hoping this will give my swim a boost it needs.

No Frostbite race photos to post, so I will leave with with a photo of the dogs being bored stuck in my office with me, waiting for the plumber to finish fixing the pipes so they could go back to their couch and look out the window.

Patiently waiting/bored and ready to go bark at stuff. Patrick likes to lay on his tummy with his feet out.

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Kansas Rails to Trails 50 Mile Race Report!

I got to race again this year (!) and this time it was another big goal I have been wanting to pursue, a 50 mile race. It had been on my list for a few years, but the timing was just never right. However with all of my triathlons cancelled this year, I had nothing but time to focus on working towards some of those goals! So in early September I ran my first 50K (also on my list of goals) in preparation for this race, and my fingers were crossed the whole time that it would happen!

I won’t go into all of the details of training, but some weekends my coach had me running 36+ miles with back to back runs on Saturday (am and pm) followed by a long run Sunday. It was crazy, but even crazier was my body was up for it – all of the cross training from triathlon, PT exercises and strength training over the years had paid off! Also I was doing all of my long runs on the Katy trail, as it was similar to the race trail, which is a gentler than pavement which I think helped too. My left knee had been giving me a little trouble and after a visit to my chiropractor during race week, he confirmed it was most likely a weak inner quad muscle that help keeps my knee cap on track that was causing the issue. Not much to do to be ready for the race to strengthen it, but it was on my list during the off season to strengthen!

On to the race! Racing during during Covid is so different… we dove the 4 hours to Ottawa, KS, spent maybe 2 minutes at packet pickup (which was held outside) to get my bib, shirt and drop off my 2 drop bags. Then we headed to the hotel and ate the very boring dinner we brought with us in the room – Panera sandwich for JMR and chicken, rice and a few veggies for me. The rest of the evening consisted of sitting around, watching tv and I also did some rolling/stretching and then we went to bed. Not that I’m usually out partying the night before a race, but just being restricted to our room felt extra boring.

The next morning I was up at 4:30 to eat my GF toast with almond butter and a banana, drank my Nuun Preload, and went back to bed. I woke up again around 6a to start getting ready since my race time was 7a and they wanted everyone to stay in their cars until your race time, so no rush to get there early with the hotel 5 minutes away. It was in the 30’s so I opted for a tshirt, long sleeved shirt and my standard compression shorts with millions of pockets. I also used a race belt which I hate using because I don’t like running with things around my waist, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to pinning my bib to my long sleeved shirt in case I got warm (spoiler, I did NOT get warm), and my shorts didn’t have enough real estate to pin it to them.

We headed to race around 6:30a, I assembled my gels and Nuun packets in all of my shorts pockets, and headed to the start. It was dark and hardly anyone was around. very weird with no pre-race vibes going on. I got behind (six feet) a guy lining up to go under the ‘start’ banner and waited for him to go, then I walked up, hit start on my watch, and ran under it to start! This was it!

The first 5 miles (an out and back) are in the downtown of Ottawa on the roads. It was still a little dark when I started, but didn’t want to fuss with a headlamp for the 30 minutes when it would still be dark, but the streetlights were fine and gave enough light. After the out and back, we were on a little running path that passed by the start/finish, next went under a highway and then we were on the trail!

I had been focusing on my 9:45-10 min planned pace and was sticking closer to the 10’s, either out of fear of the big distance ahead of me, or my legs were just not having much pep. Other than the slow legs, I felt pretty good, but my hands were freezing. My $1 gloves were a terrible choice to wear, I thought I’d wear them for the start, warm up and ditch them. No way would I be ditching these with the wind chill, they would probably be on for the full race. Because of the cold I also wasn’t drinking much of my Nuun, but just a swig every mile seemed to keep my body feeling ok. Also at mile six I caved and put on my headphones. I was going to try to wait until at least mile 20, but running solo I really felt like I needed the boost. And once my usual training music was on, I did feel a little more pep in my step!

The first manned aid station was at mile 11.8 and boy was I glad to see people with not many runners on the trail with the race start so spread out! Since I hadn’t drank much of my handheld I didn’t need to refill, so I checked into the aid station, said hi to JMR and was on my way! The next several miles kind of flew by, I did have one jolt of knee pain that took my breath away but fortunately that was the only time. However at the time I was worried it would happen again, so during these miles I was either worrying a little about my knee and when that might happen again, and then also trying to take in the pretty fall leaves and just enjoying running.

Soon I was approaching the 18.3 aid station and my stomach seemed like it wasn’t happy, so my first task was to hit the porta potties, but there was a line 😦 There was just one lady waiting but that was going to take up much more time than I had planned at this stop. However I figured it was better to deal with this now with a real bathroom than on the trail. While in line JMR helped me fish out a Nuun packet from my shorts and empty it into my bottle since I couldn’t unzip/grab anything because my hands/fingers were so cold. It was so frustrating, each gel I took was a mini battle to get out of my shorts pocket, bite it open and somehow stuff it back in my shorts pocket. No cheap gloves next time! After it was finally my turn to use the bathroom, I headed to the aid station to add water to my bottle and head out. Ooof, this was going to be long stop, and sure enough, after I headed out my watch beeped with a 15 minute split so I knew I had stopped for about five minutes.

I picked up the pace a little out of frustration, but was feeling good, until after a few miles my stomach started to get angry again. I opened the zippered pouch on my handheld and fished out some tums, but I had wrapped them so well in plastic wrap I couldn’t get them open with my stupid cold hands…arggh. But then my stomach was really hollering and I knew tums weren’t going to fix this. I started to look off the trail to see if I could I find a good ‘hidden’ spot to go, but my stomach got louder and I had to quickly shuffle to the side of the trail (THANK GOODNESS NO ONE WAS AROUND) and drop trow there. I desperately wanted to be as fast as I could in case someone ran by, but my lovely saran wrapped toilet paper I brought (didn’t want it to get soggy from sweat) was a pain to open with non functioning hands. It felt like a nightmare in slow motion. In the end, I had to sacrifice my gloves as well (cue the sad music). Once I was back to running and reflecting on how wrong all of that went down, I saw my next split and my ‘stop’ had cost me an extra 3 minutes, which surprised me since it felt like eternity with everything seeming to be happening in slow motion with my stupid cold hands. At that point I also made the decision to take an Immodium to try to stop these stomach issues and just hoped it didn’t mess my stomach up more!

I think this is right after the 18.3 aid station, but clearly before the incident because I still am wearing gloves.

After that event, I seemed to have lost some pep in my step, my hands were cold from no gloves and was just feeling a little defeated. I wasn’t even halfway done and wasn’t sure if I was prepared for another half if more surprises like this were around the corner. But then after my mile 24 split popped up, I saw I was going to finish the first half around 4:15, woah! Just seeing that split helped lift my spirits and picked me up. I started running strong again and was back in the sub 10’s and right around this time I started seeing more people and it also energized me to see some friendly faces.

I was so happy when I reached the 27.5 aid station where we would turn around and head back to the finish. I had a drop bag with Nuun hydration packets, gels and a Skratch bar cut up in pieces if my stomach wasn’t wanting gels, however the problem was I couldn’t open the bag or grab anything. Thank goodness JMR was there, he had to re-stuff my shorts pockets and fill my handheld. I was trying to be fast since the 18.3 aid station was such a long stop, but with cold hands, there wasn’t much I could do and had to be patient and happy at least JMR was there was help! Once my nutrition for the rest of the race was stuffed in my many pockets, I had to hit the bathrooms again which had a short line, but fortunately went quickly and then I was off. That stop ended up being 6 minutes, and I had planned on 5 knowing I’d be restocking all of my hydration/nutrition, so not too terrible. I also took my second Immodium as I was tired of these bathroom breaks! I know it was risky as I have read it can mess with absorbing calories (since it slows everything down in you stomach) but thought it was worth the risk.

I was so happy to be more than half way done, and my legs were still feeling good! I had really hit the wall around mile 27 during the 50k, so I wasn’t sure how my legs would keep feeling, but I was running at a slower pace so I was hoping any wall I would hit might be later in the race. I had wished I had taken the Skratch bar with me since my stomach was angry and gels were probably not a great idea to keep taking, but the bar pieces I cut up were rock hard from the cold and I figured I might choke or break a tooth trying to eat them, so I stuck with gels. I happily approached mile 36.3 aid station, and my hands had warmed up a little so I was able to grab and add my Nuun hydration packet to my bottle while running to the station, had the volunteer refill it and was on my way! I even did an air high five to another runner at the aid station since we were both excited we were getting close to the finish. I waved to JMR, said I was feeling great, and said ‘Just a half marathon to go!’ And then thought to myself, wow, not sure I’ve ever thought ‘JUST a half marathon’ to go before.

As I headed out my FAVORITE song from one of my DJ sets came on (I run to techno, yes, it’s a dance party all the time when I’m running, lol) and everything just felt perfect. I had that body buzz going where I was feeling great, and even had a little bit of teary eyes realizing I was doing it – I was going to finish this race, and thought back to ALL of those tough long runs and training I did to get here. The buzz did eventually (sadly) wear off, and I was starting to get a little tired, but kept my pace strong and the miles ticked by. At mile 40 I was still feeling strong and confident that I might be able to keep up with my sub 10 pace until the end and finish around 8:30ish, which I was pretty excited about. I had some goals in mind but my big goal was to break 9 hours and it looked like I was going to do it!

I approached the 42.8 aid station and ran right for the port potty, no lines, yay! (Immodium, why are you not working?!) Then headed to the aid station to refill my handheld and was off, a total of 3 minutes, so not terrible and only SEVEN miles to go! I waved to JMR again and was ready to finish this race!

I was passing more people (50k I was guessing) which was nice to see some people again and we both encouraged each other while passing which was a nice boost. At mile 45 I knew I could handle 5 more miles, I wasn’t going to hit a wall, I was going to keep going! There was going to be NO walking during this race for me today! I kept going but I could feel my face starting to make the pain face (I’m sure I looked scary) as I just focused ahead and kept pushing. I counted the miles down and soon I was 1.5 miles away and decided to push the pace a little harder and my legs went with it. I knew I was so close, so I kept pushing (a 9:45 pace, ha, it felt faster than that at the time!), passing a few more people, going under the highway, getting back on the paved running path, I could see the turn! I could also see all of my bathroom stops added on some mileage and I was definitely going to make up for my 50k being .5 short, by running that extra today! I kept pushing though, knowing I still had it in me to go hard for that bonus half mile. I made the turn and ran up the little hill and under the finish line! I did it! I stopped my watch and was thrilled to see 8:36!!!

Hauling it to the finish line
Done! Love those double chin photos!

The finish area was very anti-climatic as there really wasn’t much of one, just the finish line and after finishing the racers needed to leave and not linger. Which I completely agree with because of the pandemic, but it makes finishing a tiny bit less celebratory, however I’ll take that over not racing any day. After getting my 50 Mile sticker and belt buckle, I headed to the car to quickly change clothes (I was FREEZING) checked the results and saw I was second place – first place beat me by 30 seconds!!! 30 seconds!! I thought of all of the times I wasted time fumbling at the aid stations with my darn cold hands, and of course all of the lovely bathroom stops. I remembered seeing a woman with a 50 mile bib running coming back when I was at mile 23, but figured since the soonest she could have started was an hour ahead of me that she must have had a really good lead and I didn’t think we would have had very close finish times (with her time much faster than mine). I was wrong! But in the end I didn’t care, my goal was the finish the race-which I did! And I even made my super secret goal of breaking sub 9.

50 Mile Finisher Buckle

I will say I have GOT to figure out what was up with my nutrition… Nuun hydration and Huma gels for my 50k worked just fine and I was running harder in that race, so I don’t know what the deal was since my stomach issues started only 15 miles into this race. But I have some time to get it figured out since this was my last race for the year 🙂

Now onto some much needed recovery before I gear up in a few months for all of the races that were cancelled this year, LOL. Next year is looking to be very busy if those races happen!!!

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Katy Trail 50K Race Report!

I had started a post when I was tapering for this event, but was worried it would jinx the race actually happening so I never posted it.  It was hard to stay tight lipped about this race, but I figured I’d be more sad if I had to tell people the race was cancelled (like so many others this year) so I kept it quiet!

The month or so leading up to the race I had my highest running volume I think I have ever had (I even went back to my training plan for my first marathon in 2006).  Although one key piece to the high volume is that the miles were much slower than what my pace usually is with my typical lower run volume, so even with higher miles my coach had me playing it safe running slower and on softer surfaces like trails.  By race week I was feeling pretty prepared but also had some random aches that I was fretting about, like random left foot pain I’ve never had before.  So I had some anxiety about the foot along with the whole running 5 miles farther than I’ve ever run before.  It’s ‘only’ five miles, but from past experiences a lot can happen even during a couple of miles. I was just going to have to see how the day went.

On to race day!  I got up at 3:30a, ate my pre-race GF toast with almond butter and a banana, and then tried to sleep a little more until I left at 4:45 to head to the race.  I arrived around 5:45, went to pick up my packet and then waited in the porta potty line.  I did a little stretching (my usual hip stretch exercises) and then waited in my car to stay warm.  At 6:15 I headed over to drop off my drop bag (had my keys and phone in it) and walked to the nearby the ‘start line’.  Everyone seemed to have such a laid back, relaxed vibe, just standing around chatting (with masks on), then the race director gave us a few instructions then sounded the horn and we were off!  Just like that!

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I am not sure what I was thinking, probably ‘Oh boy, here we go’

My coach had given me firm instructions to STICK with my planned pace, and even write it on both arms so I didn’t forget (which I forgot to do…).  So I started out even a little slower than the planned 9:30 pace, but figured I would just ease into it, and watched everyone run past me.  That was a little tough to watch, but I also figured since I was a rookie at this distance I needed to stick with my plan, I did not want to blow up and suffer too early in the race.  So on I went, ticking off the miles around a 9:20-9:30 pace, hitting the first turn around at mile 4, and then headed back to the start where we would go out 11 miles and then turn around.  I had brought headphones but decided I wouldn’t pull them out until I needed the distraction, however by mile 7 after realizing I was probably going to be running solo for the rest of the race (everyone was pretty spaced out), I decided to just start up the ipod.

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Still early and fresh at mile 4

I came up to the mile 9 aid station (at the start/finish, before doing the second out and back) and to my surprise I saw JMR!  I had given him a map of the course, aid station locations and my planned splits for each aid station so he had an idea of when I’d be there.  The night before he had said he would meet me around halfway in the race at the mile 16 aid station, but he must’ve gotten up super early and met me much earlier on the course than planned.  I waved, flew by the aid station and kept on moving.  Side note about the aid stations, since my stomach seems to get upset easily, my plan was to carry the same liquid nutrition and gels I trained with and just use water from the aid stations to mix my pouches of liquid nutrition.  So this was a time saver, but I was also a little sad to miss out on the all of the food they had there, it was quite the spread!

An additional side note about carrying nutrition- when I read that aid stations were only going to be about 4 miles apart I realized I didn’t need to be running with a hydration vest and could just use a handheld – which was great because it’s less to run with, but that meant I lost all of the fabulous pockets and storage my vest had.  HOWEVER, my new Saucony compression shorts I had recently bought did have some side stash pockets that turned out to be a game changer!  I fit 2 gels in one side, another gel, my ipod and a baggie of toilet paper, tums and immodium in the other side.  THEN, I was able to fit three pouches of my Nuun hydration powder in the back zip pocket.  I guess I could have worn the vest if I had really needed to and only used it for nutrition, but it was really nice to know the shorts can carry so darn much AND feel comfortable AND not even notice everything crammed in them while running.  I told JMR I was going to post a review on their site I was so darn pleased!

Ok, back to the race, there was a older gentleman that I had been bouncing back and forth with since the start and around mile 9 we ended up next to each other running about the same pace.  We chatted a little and I learned he has run up to 100 mile races  and he was running his virtual Boston Marathon that day as part of this distance.  So he knew his stuff and he was fast.  Since he had some serious ultra experience I asked some ultra running type questions (still so much to learn!) and then we talked about some races we had done, until he had to step off the trail for a nature break, but I figured he would probably be passing me later!

I hit the 12.75 mile aid station, saw JMR and waived, and refilled my bottle with more Nuun, and it felt like it took ten years as I couldn’t get the lid back on.  I really thought I was at the aid station for five minutes, but it was less than a minute after looking at my watch. Then I was off, focused on the next aid station at mile 16.25. Around mile 16 my left outer knee started to feel like it was getting tight and had sharp pain.  I was worried it was going to just completely cramp up… darn IT Band… I’ve been doing my exercises but sometimes it still gets crabby.  It was starting to hurt so much I was worried I might have to call it at the next aid station, but then a half of a mile later, poof, it was gone.  I was grateful it went away and prayed it wouldn’t come back!  I saw JMR at the next aid station, mentioned nothing about my weird knee, waived and kept going towards the final turn around.

As I got closer to the turn around I started to pass a few people and could see the leading women in the 50k coming back.  I counted 1st, 2nd and 3rd and when I hit the mile 20 aid station turn around I didn’t seen any others, so I was excited to be in fourth!  I refilled my bottle, told Jimmy I was still feeling great and kept on trucking.  I hit the 23.75 mile aid station feeling a little less fresh, refilled water and waved to JMR telling him I was started to get a little tired. However I was determined to get a marathon PR, so I was very focused on holding my pace at least until 26.2 miles.

Those 3ish miles took forever, I did pass a few more people which was motivating to keep up the pace, but I was starting to get a little tired.  Finally I hit mile 26.2 and saw 4:04:44, hooray! A PR! Now five more miles! Five…more…miles.  I was instantly not excited, but kept on pushing.  I got to the mile 27.25 aid station and refilled my water and also decided to have a little cup of coke for some extra energy.  On I went but I could feel my legs getting heavier and it was a struggle to keep up the pace.  Around mile 27.5 I looked at my watch and saw my HR was over 200…woah…ok, at that point I decided it was time for a short walk break to bring it back down.  When it settled back in the 170’s I started attempting to run again, but it was at a slower effort.  I took my last gel at mile 28 and hoped it would give me magic energy, but, sadly it did not.  I hit mile 29, and just told myself ONLY 2 more miles… but had a few more walk breaks because my HR was going back up again and my legs were struggling, however I couldn’t decide what was worse, walking or running, both felt bad.

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In the pain cave around mile 27. 

I started back up to a slow run prepared to just suffer the rest of the 1.5 miles left.  A half of a mile later to my surprise I could hear people cheering and suddenly saw the red aid station tent at the start/finish.  I was confused.  Did we do loops in the parking lot once we got there to make it 31 miles?  I was very worried about the mileage for some reason, lol. Soon I was turning to the finish line and crossed at 30.4 miles.  I was thrilled to be finished but super sad to not hit at least 31 miles.  My sadness went away when the lady said ‘You finished second female!’  I was like what?  I knew I had passed another lady in the last five miles, but thought I was in third, so I said ‘Really? Are you sure?’ and she said ‘Yep!’.  She handed me my medal, plaque, took a photo of me under the finish line and then I hobbled over to JMR.  I told him how I died the last three miles, but was pretty happy with the even pacing the rest of the race.

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After drinking some water and coke, I picked up my drop bag, headed to the car and followed JMR home.  Wow. I couldn’t believe that just happened!  It actually went by so darn fast!  When I knew I’d be running for almost five hours I wondered what I was going to do (well other than run) that whole time, which is why I had my headphones, but I probably would have been fine without them too.  Also I was so happy that my left foot felt fine during the race, it’s so weird what random aches and pains appear during race week.

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So what’s next?  Well, this week has been a recovery week with swimming and easy rides (I haven’t run one step yet), but provided my foot doesn’t get cranky again and I can keep my left knee happy, I do have another possible race in October if it happens, so fingers crossed and I will just keep training away!  Happy Friday!!

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How is it August Already?

Wow, time is flying, which surprises me because usually it flies when I’m busy and having fun and have other good distractions, but these days it’s just the same day in and day out – same training, same working from home (well that was pretty much the same pre-covid as I only went in 1 day a week), no social interactions for the most part except with my family.  So with everything feeling like groundhog day, I guess I never thought we would get to August, but here we are.

We did take a family trip two weeks ago to South Haven, Michigan with my parents, my sister and her family, and it was so nice to get away. We rented a house, ate in every night and maintained social distance from others when out and about, so it was a pretty low risk trip and a welcomed change to do something different.  JMR played golf with my parents three days, my sister and brother in law rotated playing two of those days, and while they were golfing I ran 14 miles one day and the other two I rode 50ish mile routes up to Douglas, MI and back.  I also rode with JMR in the afternoons as we brought his never-before-ridden-outside road bike with us, and he finally rode it and LIKED it! Which I am glad because it was a tad stressful getting both of our bikes in the car since my bike rack had bit the dust a year ago.  After it bit the dust, since I only had my bike to transport, it easily fit in my car with our luggage with the front wheel off only so there was no need to buy a new one.  Two bikes…and golf clubs…different story.  See photo evidence below. (spoiler alert: JMR gave me the green light to buy a new bike rack as soon as we got home)

It was a little tense between JMR and I while trying to load them up, we had it down for the way home though.

We mostly rode on a crushed-limestone trail or a paved bike path, and took the pace easy, so I think that was a good way to ease him in.  We tried a road route one of the days and he was NOT a fan of the cars, so we will stick to bike paths when riding back at home for now.  I got in 213 miles of riding, 27 miles of running and a whopping 860 yards of swimming (I just wanted to go out and say I swam during the trip, the lake was very calm one day!), so it was a very active vacation for me!  I love ending the day eating extra dessert (cookies AND ice cream) and then going to bed and sleeping well from being so active during the day.

Since IMWI was cancelled the week before my tip, my vacation week was an unstructured training week (do whatever I felt like, except I needed to get in two specific runs), and then after I would switch training to more of a running focus since there are no more tri’s on the schedule for this year.  When we got back that Saturday, I had a 10 mile run to do and that Sunday I had another 10 mile run to start getting used to running on tired legs (more on that later).  Last week was the first official week of changing focus, cutting back on the Saturday long bike rides and replacing them with a long run on both Saturday and Sunday.  I’m also re-adding my Tuesday/Thursday strength training to make sure my glutes, quads and other muscles that need work stay strong and I avoid injuries!

The back to back ‘long runs’ this past weekend went ok, 12 miles on Saturday and 10 miles on Sunday, both on trails to lessen the impact on my legs/joints and hopefully prevent injury.  I am also getting used to running with a hydration vest that has two bottles in the front since my handheld doesn’t carry enough water for longer distances on trails, since I can’t refill it with water like I do when I run at nearby parks.  The longer mileage, running vest, trails… are all because I have some potential upcoming running ‘races’ I hope to do, but since these days it seems like you never know if a race will actually happen until you are actually racing it, I will just give a recap after the event if they are a go!

That is about all that is going on over here, I’ll leave you with a picture of the dogs staring me down at 5p yesterday… clearly it was time for dinner.

Hey! It’s time for dinner. Feed us!

Happy Tuesday!

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Still chugging along…

It’s been a few months since my last post, even with everything going on around the world and in the US, I’m still training!  No swimming, but still running and biking just in case there is some race that might happen and also for just plain old sanity.  I really need the routine of training to help keep my head clear and calm.

This past weekend I turned a year older (sigh) and decided to treat myself to a big weekend of training for ‘fun’.  I took Friday off work and ran 18 miles, Saturday I did a small socially distant 30ish mile group ride with some Team Zooter’s, and then Sunday I rode 100+ miles solo.  Nothing crazy like EPIC weekend, but it felt great to just get in some long hours… my anxiety has been ramping up lately and I just needed to wear myself out a bit!  It worked, because I was tired by Sunday night 🙂

 

In other exciting news, I had been eyeing Ironman Muncie 70.3 since December, it was a little too early as a good 70.3 prep for Ironman Wisconsin, but I also wasn’t feeling like doing Route 66 Half again at the end of July.  I didn’t sign up for either, but was keeping them both as possible options.  Then the pandemic happened, and all races were getting cancelled so I lost all hope that racing would happen this summer or maybe this year.  However, as counties starting publishing their re-opening plans, Indiana looked to be opening up on July 4th, and Muncie was still on.  No way!  Last week the race really seemed to be a go as Ironman published new race logistics to comply with social distancing as well as the option to not do the swim, as many people (myself included) haven’t been able to swim for months.  Granted if you skipped the swim you weren’t eligible for age group awards, but I don’t think people care, they just want to race and if they aren’t ready to swim, they are skipping it (at least that’s the tone I was reading on their race FB page).

Once it was seeming to really be a go, I struggled with deciding if it was worth the risk of possibly being exposed to the virus and then bringing it back to those that I am around.  However after reading all of the race information, Ironman seems to have a good plan in place that I feel comfortable with that really reduces any possible exposure if you are following the rules.  The changes will make it a little more challenging as we will be more self supported while racing, but if that’s what it takes to race and be safe, I’m all for it!

And the last bit of good/fun news is that this morning I GOT TO SWIM!  Our pools opened today, with many protocols in place to adhere to social distancing which make it a little bit different, but it didn’t matter, I got to swim!  The clocks on the pool deck weren’t working and my watch wasn’t either, so I have no official recording that this swim happened, but I have goggle marks to prove that it did 🙂  Hopefully by the time Muncie arrives I will be able to finish the swim without being fully out of breath, lol.

So the next four weeks are 70.3 focused, with this week being a rest week after the big training this past weekend.  Happy Monday!

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Change of plans… for everyone

Well the title sums it up.  Since I go from sad, to scared, to ok, to anxious many times throughout the day, I am just going to keep this post short and light!

We are now in week 3 of the shelter in place order in Saint Louis, which really feels like week 4, because that’s about how long ago it was when things started getting crazy.  It started with groups of no larger than 50 allowed on 3/15, then a bunch of races getting cancelled or postponed, like the Boston Marathon, to even Disneyworld closing, then finally the ‘shelter in place’ order here on 3/23.  I have been working from home 100% since 3/16, and JMR joined me on 3/23.  It was a pretty big adjustment for him as he only works from home on the weekends and evenings, so it took awhile for him to get all set up and settled.  It was also an adjustment for me to have another human at home all day.  The first few days I kept wanting to get up and chat, but I also finally settled into a routine of leaving him alone (mostly) during the day.

We have been trying to keep some sort of routine to keep things normal, having two dogs will definitely help with that as they don’t sleep in, love their regular walks and have to eat, so I will give them a little credit for helping our routine 🙂  Just like before all of this, I ride or run before work, then JMR gets up and we work during the day, then depending on the day I ride or run at lunch or after work.  Business as usual minus swimming (my last swim was 3/16… sigh…I miss swimming)  I won’t bore you with the details but with riding almost every day along with my runs and strength sessions, I’ve been doing around 11-12 hours of training each week, so at least I won’t lose the fitness I was building for St. George!  No 20 mile runs in my near future though, lol.

Last Friday we hauled my dad’s ancient rowing machine from my parents house to ours  so I could start getting some upper body workouts back and hopefully don’t lose all of the swim fitness I’ve been working on (and going to their house during the stay at home order to use it was not a good option).  I plan to start rowing tomorrow morning – my arms can’t wait and I’m looking forward to a new ‘exercise’ to add 🙂

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Temporary new addition to our basement 🙂

My Fenix 6 even has an indoor Rowing activity!

So now with St. George not happening the ‘plan’ is to race IMWI in September, but since no one can predict what things will be like then and what races will actually happen, that’s all still up in the air really.  However I need a new goal to focus on, so for now that is the goal…along with staying healthy!

On a non training update, this week and next week our area is supposed to get hit the hardest by the pandemic, so I made one last BIG trip to the grocery store this morning to hopefully stock up enough for the next two weeks so we don’t have to leave the house (we have only been leaving 1-2 times a week to get a few perishable items from the store).  That was super stressful, everyone shopping was good about staying far away from each other, but it was still not a fun experience.  I was wearing a pedestrian type mask which felt weird and was hard to breathe in, so that was probably contributing to  my anxiety!  So now we will continue to STAY HOME and keep limiting our outside activities to dog walks and running, far from other people, and hoping others do the same!  Also, this just made me laugh and had to share:

Happy Tuesday!

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IM St. George Training Update: 10 Weeks to go!

I wanted post a training update since last week was a big training week for me!  I got in some big swim volume but really the star of the show was my long run.  My coach keeps my running volume pretty low in general with only three runs per week, but we’ve been building up the longer run distances, and this past Saturday I had a 20 miles on the schedule.  I had been dreading it since I saw it appear many weeks ago, but I tried to not think about it until it got closer.  It’s silly because it’s just a training run, and I ran 18 the week before, but I had knots in my stomach all day Friday worried if I could finish it and if I did, how miserable it might be (I know, way to be positive).  The last time I ran 20 miles outside of a race was my biggest training block for Ironman Louisville back in 2014 (and before that was in 2007 for Chicago Marathon training), and it was miserable.  However it was also in August so it was HOT and I had ridden 100 miles the day before…so… not at all the same scenario.  I have also been having some nagging knee issues/slight random pain in my left knee, so that was also making me anxious if that would be the limiter. Friday night I laid out all of my clothes/gear and got my nutrition ready so all I would have to do was get dressed and go.  No thinking, just go.  The weather was looking great, the temps starting in the 30’s and probably in mid 40’s by the time I was finished, sunny and little wind.

The text I sent JMR on Thursday, excited for Saturday’s forecast

Saturday morning I randomly woke up at 4:30a hungry, so I decided to do my pre-race meal (last week during my 18 mile run I opted to sleep in and just eat a banana), so I ate my toast with almond butter, went back to bed for an hour or so, then was up, got dressed, had my whey protein shake and Osmo pre-load and headed to the Forest Park to run.  When I got there, I had my Honeystinger chews, got my Clif bloks/gel/key fob/iPod and Nuun active powder all stuffed in various places and was ready to go. I was glad I wore shorts this week which had bigger pockets than my running tights, as last week I ended up having to stuff things in my sport bra which was really annoying.

Off I went, running around a 9:40 pace for the first mile, and had already decided before I started to not worry about the pace, just GET IN THE MILES.  So, that was the goal.  No pressure.  I was also running the same route I did last week, but doing a few extra out and backs to add in the additional 2 miles, so knowing where exactly I would be running also helped with the ‘no pressure’ theme.  The miles ticked by and I settled into a 9ish pace which surprisingly felt good.  I took 3 Clif blocks at mile 6, and at mile 10 I was back at my car to drop off my gloves, hit the bathrooms and refill my water bottle. Then I headed back out knowing I was more than halfway done, which was a little bit of a relief.  I took 3 Clif blocks again at mile 11, my stomach got a little angry this time but fortunately it calmed down.  I think I was getting anxious to get the run done because soon my splits were sub 9’s, and I was still feeling good, but a little faster than I had planned on, but I was just going to go with it.

Around mile 15 I started to get tired and really had to focus on my form and cadence.  I took a Huma gel at mile 16 and then at mile 16.5 I was like ‘Hey! Only 3.5 miles left, I can do this!’ and felt like I had a little more energy.  I was shocked as I hit the stop button at mile 20 feeling like…I could have kept going.  I definitely wasn’t going to keep going and I was very happy to stop, but some long runs have felt like ‘dear god these last two miles are killing me’…even up to the last .1 I’ve had my face all scrunched in pain.  My knee felt a little funky during the beginning miles, but after that either I stopped noticing or it went away, and around mile 18 my right foot started to cramp, but that was it.  I am sure this was mostly due to the fact that I was running on fresh legs AND the weather was amazing, but I also think I’ve got my nutrition dialed in better than I have in past training cycles which helped too.  I am so happy that everything came together as it made for an amazing and uneventful long 20 mile run at a sub 9 pace!

A little chilly at the start, but I warmed up quickly with the sun shining!

On Sunday I went to Hot Yoga and then did an easy-ish hour on the trainer, but that was it.  This week is a RECOVERY WEEK! I am pretty pumped and will be soaking it up as after this week I will be back to hitting the training pretty hard, including longer trainer rides which I’m slightly dreading….unless we get some magically warm weather and I can get them done outside, but I won’t keep my hopes up.

Happy Monday :), I’m having a nice relaxing one over here! 🙂

 

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Frostbite Long Series and Other Updates!

Hello and happy Monday!  Ironman St. George training is very much under way and to help motivate me to get my longer runs done (outside), I signed up for the Saint Louis Track Club Frostbite Long series.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I usually do the short series, but with St. George at the beginning of May, I needed to start building up my long runs earlier in the season and the Frostbite Long series was perfect timing and great motivation.  The long series consists of a 12k, 10 mile, 20k, 13.1 mile and 15k races.  Quite a change from the 3k, 2mile, 5k, 4 mile and 3 mile distances of the short!

I went into the series not sure how things would go.  I was a little unsure if it was a good idea with just getting back from my hip flexor strain and therefore my longest run only being 6 miles since the 10k at the end of October.  So I decided to just take it one race at a time, and see how I felt that day/race, and if I needed to, I could stop doing the races or just do some of the short races.  Surprisingly though, I was able to really push myself during each of the races, making sure to not go too crazy to avoid risking injury, but also crossing the finish line not feeling like I had much more left in the tank.  It was a surprise to see that as the distances increased, my pace got faster!  I was also pretty surprised to see that I was in the top five for almost all of the races, as I had figured I wouldn’t place that high since I’ve noticed in past years the long series is usually a little more competitive than the short series (that also could all be in my head too, lol).  I ended the last race in third place in my age group, and also placed third place in my age group for the series, so I was pretty happy with that result!

Should have taken the photo behind the Track Club poster.

Since fueling has been a big topic for me lately, I figured I’d give a update on that too.  I’ve been trying out my new pre-race fueling strategy (for all long-ish races) for the last three of the Frostbite races, and so far I have had pretty good results!  My plan has been (based on recommendations in ROAR): 3 hours prior to race- 2 pieces of gluten free white bread with 2 tablespoons of almond butter and Osmo pre-load; 1 hour prior to race- 1 scoop of Whey protein (mixed with water); 20 minutes prior to race – about half of a pouch of Honeystinger chews with caffeine.  It’s actually not that different from my IM pre-race nutrition, except for the Whey protein, but this is all new to me for running races because I had always thought that eating that much beforehand would lead to GI distress.  To my dismay it has been ok and I am finding that my energy has been pretty consistent throughout the race, which in the past hasn’t always been the case.

I still have been taking a gel every 5-6 miles during races/long runs, and my goal is to switch over to something non-gel to see if that helps with GI issues.  I tried out Clif Bloks two weekends ago during a long run, and boy do they really require some serious focus while chewing!  I did have an emergency bathroom stop at mile 9, but I’m pretty sure it had to do with the previous night’s dinner and not the Clif Bloks.  I will need more practice with those before I bring them out to a race though.  Fortunately (or maybe not) I have another long run this weekend, so I will get some more practice in then!

Last week was a recovery week, so this week and the next two are back to building up the volume.  I have noticed by Thursday on the non-recovery (oh heck, even on the recovery) weeks I am pretty tired, and then Friday is usually a struggle to get though the day after my morning swim, which requires lots of coffee.  Although I seem to get through the weekends more easily knowing I can mostly relax the rest of the day after my main workout.  I don’t remember feeling that way at the end of the work week during my last IM training cycle, but I’m finding that IM training in the winter in general is tough… more indoor training, less sunlight, cold temperatures, bleh.  Hopefully with the days getting longer that will at least help to get more exposure to the sun, because with volume going up, I need some help in the energy department those days!  Side note, no matter how sunny it is, I won’t be riding in 40 degree temps, as I do not ride in cold weather…I still have PTSD from IMLOU 2018!

Well that’s about it for now… I have my longest training run since 2015 (in previous years I’ve done split long runs- half in the am, the other half in pm) on the schedule for Saturday, which I’m a little nervous about, so fingers crossed all goes well…or actually just that I survive!  I’ll report back next week 🙂

I’lll leave you with a picture of Penelope watching the Westminster Dog Show:

 

 

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New Year, New Nutrition

New Year, New Nutrition….

Isn’t that how the saying goes?  Or not, but that’s going to be my phrase for 2020.  Race nutrition that is! After Chattanooga (well, probably more like around mile 60 of the bike at Chattanooga) I decided I was going to try a different nutrition strategy as it seemed like liquid nutrition just wasn’t working for me.  Over the past couple of years I’ve started feeling nauseous about 2 hours into the bike during races (maybe earlier for shorter? Later in longer?) and was really having to force my liquid nutrition down.  I chalked it up to heat, or pushing the effort too much, but after it happening in so many races, and differing distances (well just 70.3 and 140.6), I decided that it was more than a coincidence.  After doing more digging, I realized the only run where my stomach hasn’t been crazy sloshy at the beginning was Louisville 2018 and that race I had to skip my Infinit on the bike and stick with random on course gels due to my frozen hands being unable to squeeze my water bottle with my Infinit.  It was also a really cold race, so the temperature on the run could have played a factor in my pace being faster, and also my hydration needs were different than my other IM runs which had been in the heat, so maybe that wasn’t the key reason my run went well, but… maybe it was?  I wasn’t sure what my strategy would be, but I knew I needed to switch it up.

The months went by,  and I had the need to create a new nutrition plan in the back of my mind, but my runs and rides weren’t long enough to need to worry about nutrition, so it just wasn’t my focus or concern.  However once January rolled around I thought, I better figure this chit out with St. George only four months away!  I had been interested in reading ROAR by Stacie Simms, which discusses the female physiology in regards to food and fitness so I thought it would have some good suggestions for a different nutrition strategy.  So I finally sat down and read it, and boy did I learn A LOT (and am still learning as I go back to certain chapters and taking more notes) and one thing it confirmed was that liquid nutrition was probably not my friend in long course triathlon.  Her mantra is ‘hydration in the bottle, food in the pocket’, now the question was, what would be my in my pocket?

After doing more research I decided I would try Scratch Labs energy bars and Clif Chomps for nutrition on the bike and either Osmo or Nuun Endurance for my hydration.  Stacie was originally with Osmo and was really pushing it in her book, but has since left the company and is now with Nuun and helped them develop Nuun Endurance.  I ordered Osmo before realizing this and then later also ordered Nuun Endurance.  I am going to try them both, they have pretty similar ingredients, but Nuun has 60 calories vs. Osmo which is 30.  Oh, which also brings me to my calories on the bike, as I had previously been focused on getting in 300 cals/hr.  I learned in ROAR that 300 is too high for me, and is probably part of the reason why I had issues with my liquid nutrition.  So I’m also scaling back my calories on the bike closer to the number recommended by Stacie for my size, which is 180-200 cals/hr.  So, lots of changes!

I’m still not sure what to do on the run since she also goes into why gels aren’t great for nutrition either, but running with sleeves of Clif chomps seems bulky to carry and tougher to be eating than just a gel every hour.  I do love my Huma gels and they don’t contain some of the ingredients that Stacie mentions in her book that can cause GI distress, but the fact that it’s a gel and the osmality can still cause GI issues, and because I have those issues more often than not, it’s worth trying out the chews/blocks at least few times.

I also have changed up my pre and post training/race foods too!  I’ve been trying to eat more before my workouts along with some protein (that’s totally new for me, I have never worried about protein pre race before) and also if I do an intense workout, I make sure I have at least 20g protein (if it’s not whey it needs to be closer to 25-30g) plus 5g of BCAAs within 30 minutes of my workout.  So far so good! I have noticed that I have been recovering faster and not having the lingering soreness I usually do after a hard workout.

Note I haven’t tried the Osmo pre-load yet, since I haven’t had a big workout or race that I’ve felt I needed to pre-load some sodium because it’s the middle of the winter.  However I am excited to try it, and if I like it I will probably stick with it regardless of using Osmo or Nuun Endurance for my race hydration.

On the training front, it’s business as usual, no changes there!  Swimming 3x a week, building up my bike fitness (February is a bike focused block), and trying to build back my running base after the month I had to take off in November due to the hip flexor strain.  Since my hip started to feel better in early December, I pulled the trigger and signed up for the Frostbite LONG series this year.  Usually I do the short series, but with St. George at the beginning of May, I needed to start building up my long runs again and the Frostbite series was perfect timing and great motivation.  The long series consists of a 12k, 10 mile, 20k, 13.1 mile and 15k.  quite a change from the 3k, 2mile, 5k, 4 mile and 3 mile distances of the short!

I have been surprising myself with the paces I’ve been able to hold during the first four races (one left to go!) despite not being in top shape and coming back from an injury.  In fact, I was on track for a very very mini PR for 13.1 last weekend, but the course was short and I finished with 13.07 on my watch, so I will never know if I could hold that pace for the extra .03 or so 🙂  But still, it was on a hillier course than my PR, and I had pretty strong even splits, and felt good after, so it was a victory in my book.  My stomach was a little upset the rest of the day which might have been due to the gels I took (still working on implementing the Clif Blocks… ) but my legs didn’t really feel sore or tired after or the next day either.  So I will say my pre and post nutrition strategy (along with training in general) is coming along nicely!

Ok, well that’s about it!  One more race left in the Frostbite series, then back to focusing on training until the Go! Half at the end of March (which really will be more of a training day as IM is the focus and I won’t go into it tapered)….and then the big one, St. George at the end of May.

I will leave you with a picture of Penelope hanging out in bed while I read 🙂

 

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