Florida Challenge Triathlon Countdown Clock

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Long Road to Nowhere!

The Long Road to Nowhere

It was a typical summer day in Florida today: very hot & humid w/o a cloud in the sky, an afternoon of thunderstorms, followed up with more humidity, sun, and heat!

Heat down here is something you just deal with. Kinda like the cold winters in Chicago. With that said, I have no choice but to train in the heat. 

I've been down here about 15 years, and the heat STILL bothers me. It just zaps my energy. Feels like everything's in slow motion!

Health officials advise people to exercise early if they want to do so outside. I agree with that, but going for a run at the crack of dawn won't help my triathlon training:

Race starts at 7am;
Finish the swim at 8am;
Finish bike at 11am;
Start run at 11:10
Finish run at 2pm.

In other words, I'm running during the hottest time of the day. The WORST time of the day during a race.  The only way to get race ready is to simulate race conditions. And that means training in the noon time heat.

I will be honest: I HATE running in the heat. Hate is a strong word, but it's the truth! It's brutal and it sucks! Lol

The humidity here is so thick it can slap you in the face when you walk outside or get out of your car. There have been times I'd leave a store and my glasses would fog up it's so humid!

Kinda hard to look cool with fogged up glasses! Lol

I can't stress enough how much u dislike the heat, but sometimes you gotta do things you don't wanna do! 

Even though I'm not "training" for a couple weeks, I'm still working out to keep my fitness levels high. Truth be told, my running is behind schedule right now. With me having those back issues last month, I couldn't run, and the only way I can improve my running is to run, preferably outside.

So today I ran on Bayshore. In the heat. Not a cloud in the sky. It really did feel like a long road to nowhere!

I took these pics today, but they look identical to pics I took weeks ago. The only difference is it's about 20 degrees warmer today!

I ran as I always do in the beginning (on the grass:)

Running in the heat is dangerous. If a person is out in the heat, they should carry water with them, and I do. Water AND Gatorade to be exact. I always run with these, and I carry electrolyte tablets also:

I fill the bottles up about 3/4 and freeze overnight. That way I have plenty cold liquid on my run.

It's really hot out here, so I take my time. Again, i'm not training, so I'm not pushing it. I probably couldn't push it if I wanted to anyway actually...lol 

I'm about 45 minutes into the run and nothing has changed. It's still hot with no cloud cover:

It is what it is, so I just deal with it and keep plugging along. 

About halfway thru the run I get a little relief. I pass this residential area that has some big trees and WONDERFUL cloud cover! Lol

There was a very slight breeze, so that  helped me cool off a bit. 

A couple minutes later, I hit Ballast Pointe. There is a park on 1 side and a fishing pier on the other. Pretty nice place:

I thought about running to the end of the pier and snapping pics, but it was too damn hot to be playing around. If you seen 1 pier you've seen them all! Lol

I'm about an hour into my run now and I'm hesding back. I'm not very tired because I'm running slow and taking my time. I get to savor a little bit of shade 1 last time:

And just like that, I'm back into the heat and FINALLY a partly cloudy sky:

I really like how there are clouds up there, but they ain't nowhere near the sun! I mean WTF! Talk about a tease! Sometimes a little tease is ok, but this ain't the day! Lol

I still like Bayshore because I enjoy being near the water. Weren't many people out today because of the heat (big surprise) so I pretty much had the place to myself. I'm running along and see something I had never seen before. A school of baby stingrays!

 I just HAD to stop and take some pics:

There were about 30 of them total cruising along w/o a care in the world. The water looked darker than normal today, but not sure why. The oil spill hasn't affected Tampa Bay so who knows what's going on...

After taking these pics I resumed my run and tried to keep my mind off the heat.

All in all, I finished the 10 mile run in 1:56, with a 15 walk cooldown to get the lactic acid out my legs. After my run I got an oversize unbrella out of my car and relaxed while o drank more water and ate a Clif Bar.

All in all, it was a good run. It was hard, but if I want to be a good triathlete this is what I have to do! 

With that done, I can now enjoy my 3 day weekend! Tomorrow we're going to dust off the grill and have family over for a Memorial Day cookout: ribs, hamburgers, turkey burgers (for me!) hot dogs, ice cream, cookies, and baked beans. It's gonna be off the chain! Lol

I'm going to eat as much as I want. It's the holidays! I'll get back on my diet Monday. Well, maybe not, because if we have leftovers I'm gonna have to take care of them. Can't waste food!  Lol

Thanks for reading! Till next time, Peace! 



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Glancing Back, But Focusing on the Future!

Glancing Back, Focusing Forward!

Well, my 1st race has come and gone and I'm quite happy with my result. To be honest, if I woulda came in dead last I would've been ok with that. Even though I'm a competitor, I'm also a realist! These races are hard, and if a person refuses to quit, keeps going and finishes, that's a winner to me! Every race I've been to, other athletes who have finished have cheered other competitors on who finished well after them, or congratulated those who even beat them.

I wish LIFE could be that way. Instead of cheering each other on or offering moral support through tough times, some of us will secretly hate on others or even try PREVENT them from succeeding. WTF...

I digress. Back to the SPORTS BLOG...lol

Even when I'm out there competing and suffering I try savor the moment because just like everything else in life, those events will become a distant memory, and all you may have left are photos and little momentos of those times. Times that can never be completely duplicated.

I have plenty pics from the race, and now I have my last momento: the Official Finisher's Certificate:

For athletes, the days after a race can be depressing. They don't have anything else to really train for or look forward to. They have all this free time and nothing to do with it. All they have is the memories.

You see that in life as well. People living in the past because they have nothing to look forward to. But the key is to keep giving yourself something strive for and the desire to achieve it.

Remembering your past accomplishments or milestones is great, but at the same time, it's important to have a new adventure on the horizon!

I'm a guy who likes to work out, plain & simple. It's a great stress releiver. Just so happens I discovered triathlons and now I do those. Even if there were no such thing as triathlon, I'd still swim, bike and run on a regular (along with yoga & weight training) because I think they are the best for your overall conditioning. In addition to the conditioning is the cross training aspect. Your workouts won't get boring because you're always doing something different, the chance of injuring yourself from overuse (running for example) is diminished, and you work more muscle groups as a whole.

With that said, it was back to the gym to lift weights yesterday. I haven't lifted weights since i hurt my back over a month ago. I wasn't worried about it, because I'm pain free now, and I have a new weight belt. I had it on under my shirt and had it tighter than corset! I wasn't taking any chances! lol

I have gradually gotten back into working out since the race. The week after I relaxed all week and did a light 45 minute ride on my indoor trainer that Saturday. This past Monday I swam for an hour, Tuesday I lifted weights, and tonight i rode my indoor trainer for an hour. I'm about 90% recovered from the race as i type this.

Before I lifted weights yesterday I checked my measurements. I still monitor these closely:

(In case anybody is wondering, the address listed is fake. Nunya Circle in the address stands for Nunya business! lol)

Since I'm in my early 40's (WOW!) I have to really be aware of my health and make sure everything's working properly! The machine they provide isn't exact, but the numbers are still pretty consistent so I'm OK with them.

I like this gym much better than Sea World. It has a better vibe to me. It's spacious and most people are there to work out, as opposed to the other gym where it seems to be more of a social club than a health club:

My workout last night was pretty lethargic. I felt rusty & kept it at a lower intensity and used less weight than I'd normally use. I'll gradually ease back into my normal weights over the next couple weeks. My routine yesterday was as follows:

10 minutes of warmups: jumping jacks & stretches

bicycle crunches 40 reps
leg raises 50 reps
regular crunches 50 reps

dumbell bench presses - 2 sets of 10 @ 80 pounds

seated dumbell lateral raises - 2 sets of 10 @20 pounds

seated cable rows - 2 sets of 10 @ 180 pounds

seated dumbell shoulder presses - 2 sets @ 55 pounds

standing barbell curls w/curl bar - 2 sets @ 90 pounds

lying dumbell triceps extensions - 2 sets @ 50 pounds

abs (again:)

bicycle crunches 40 reps
leg raises 50 reps
regular crunches 50 reps

My total workout lasted about an hour. It felt good to be back in the gym. I had never hurt my back lifting before and I have to be more careful not to repeat my past mistake. I think I wasn't fully concentrating on what I was doing and that mental lapse cost me weeks of pain & setbacks. Luckily I got past it & I'm better for it.

The plan for the next several weeks is to work out, but not train. There's a big difference between the 2. There are 2 more races I want to do: a sprint triathlon in July and another half ironman in September. I won't really think too much about them right now. I want to give myself a mental break & relax a bit. When the time comes, I will get focused & start hitting it hard again, but right now, I'm thinking about that bar-b-que I'm gonna get with this Memorial Day weekend! lol

Thanks for reading! Till next time, peace!

Friday, May 21, 2010

2 Down, 1 to Go!

The Home Stretch!

The swim & bike went pretty well for me.  I was maybe 30 minutes behind my projected time, but I was feeling good so that's all that really mattered.  I saw a lot of carnage up to this point:  a woman had to rescued in the water, several guys with flats & trying to fix them, and the guy who cramped up & needed electrolytes.  I had gotten this far pretty much in 1 peice!

I got off the bike & ran into transition and put on some sun screen.  I had been out in that hot sun for 5.5 hours and my name was about to change my name to jeffrey BLACK cuz i was getting a serious tan!  lol

I started the run doing my customary "home run trot."  I was feeling really good, because I knew I'd finish at this point, and the spectators were cheering us like crazy!  What I liked was how we had our names on our race bib, so I kept hearing "looking good, jeff!"  "You're almost done, Jeff!"  "Keep it up, Jeff"  

That really does boost your spirits and give you a surge of energy!

My goal for the run was to take my time & run like I did last week on the beach:  slow & steady.  It was starting to get REALLY hot out there, so I started putting ice in my hat to cool my head, as well as down the front & back of my shirt.  This Florida heat is NO JOKE.  It just zaps my energy.  So I decided to just run a slow trot & coast thru the run.  

They had aide stations on almost every mile of the run full of evertyhing a runner would need:  ice, water, cola, pretzels, bananas, energy gels, cookies, etc.  These are things that give you a quick energy boost.  I'd stop at every aide station and get as much ice as I could put into my hat and let it melt over my head.  it felt GOOD!  lol  

By the time I started running, there were plenty people already on the course.  Some of them were running as if they hadn't been doing anything all day.  Just looked amazingly fresh & fast.  Others looked like they had been to hell & back.  Totally worn down & just walking!  I saw 1 guy who was literally laid out on the ground.  Dude was coherent but in some serious pain.  I suspect he was cramping.  Race volunteers were out there with him putting ice all over him & giving him water.  After I passed him I heard the paramedics.  His day was done!

Meanwhile,I was running, but not very fast.  I was passing people and getting passed.  Honestly, it didn't matter at that point, because all I wanted to do was finish in 1 piece because the heat was starting to bother me. I didn't want to be in the hospital next to old boy with an IV!  

I ran the first 7 miles feeling Ok and then I started to feel the heat.  The sun was beating down on us & I felt my energy levels dropping.  I was still taking my electrolyte pills, GU and Clif Bars, but at this point it wasn't enough.  I also needed a bed, shade, and air conditioning!

At mile 7.5 I'm doing a slow motion home run trot.  5 minutes later I'm officially walking and snap this pic:

There was a long line of us who were just trying to survive at this point.  LOL  I wasn't in any serious pian or anything, but I knew I had to slow it down and pace myself.  

At mile 9 I'm so close to the finish i can feel it, but I feel the heat & discomfort more than anything else.  An official race photographer took this pic:

The heat is really bad, and it looks like me and the people behind me are in a walkathon, not a triathlon! Lol

But I keep it moving!

At this ponint the race, everyone around you is suffering as bad as you are, and we offer each other encouragement and offer congrats on a job well done. I'm smiling and jokng on the outside, but on the inside I'm singing another tune:

Wth have I gotten myself into??
Next time somebody pass me like I'm standing still I'm gonna trip they asses!
Why is it do damn hot??
My feet hurt!
I just want my medal so I can get the hell outta here!
If I eat 1 more clif bar I'm gonna puke!
I'm getting too old for this sh!t!

Yes, these are real thoughts I had after being out in this heat for 6 hours. lol
I had been doing a run/walk combo but at mile 12 I have decided to straight WALK. I really wanted to run, but figured I wouldn't start running till I see spectators. Lol Also, I want to make sure I cross the finish line in style! Lol

Even though I'm tired & hurting at this point, I feel good! I feel good cuz I know I'm less than 10 minutes from finishing this torture, and I went thru a lot to get to the start line. And now I'm going to finish!

At about mile 12.5 we start to see spectators and I resume my home run trot. Other athletes who finished before me are out cheering us on and giving ^5s. It's really cool when other athletes cheer you on, because they know exactly how you feel!

It's now mile 13 and I'm running! I'm no longer tired cuz I see the finish line in the distance. It's a wrap! Now I gotta finish this mofo strong!

I hit the chute and it's lined with spectators and they are cheering me on and I give some more ^5s. I'm hyped now, and put my hands up in victory:

The announcer says the phrase I've been waiting MONTHS to hear:

"crossing the line from Brandon, Florida, Jeffery White!"

Words really can't express how GOOD I felt completing this challenge. People always say "enjoy the journey" and thanks to triathlon, I understand that concept even more. 

I finished the race in 7.5 hours, but I trained for months to get ready. I had to deal with injuries, time constraints, work, home, various issues that'd pop up from time to time, but I made it thru. Going thru those things made crossing the line that much sweeter, because even with all the potential setbacks I stuck with it and made it thru!

All this was going thru my mind when the race photographer said "congrats Jeffrey! Let me get a pic of you and that medal!"

Like I gonna say no! Lol!

This is my "I'm a bad mofo pose!" lol. Now I have to keep it real: the overall winner finished in enough time to watch Car Wash and half of Godfather Part 1, but I didn't care! A month ago I wasn't even sure I was even doing the race so I was good! Lol

All in all, Im happy with my race. I gave it all I had. Looking back, I couldn't do any better. I left it all on the course!

I'm very thankful I was able to race and finish in 1 piece. Others weren't so lucky. I heard there was a crash on the bike course involving about 20 cyclists. A couple had to go to the hospital with broken collar bones. All I have is a little soreness. I don't even have any back pain!

God was with me on Sunday!

After the race my wife and I went to 
Friendly's for dinner for some great hamburgers and ice cream:


What a great way to end the day!

All in all, I had a great race. The journey was tough, but well worth it. I have no regrets, and I'm looking forward to the next challenge.

Thanks for reading! Till next time, peace!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Phase II: The Bike

Phase II of Ironman Florida was the bike and I couldn't wait to get out the water! I have an occassional bout of attention deficit disorder that kicks in from time to time. It just so happened to kick in on Sunday! 

Here's me exiting the swim:

Like I said before, the transitions are just as important as the actual race.  In addition to getting on your bike as quick as possible, you have to FIND your bike! There were 2000 competitors, and that means there were 2000 bikes:

Trying to find your bike in all this can be quite traumatic if you get turned around! I've seen people get frantic cuz they couldn't find their bike. I have learned to do 2 things: 

1. Always get there early to rack my bike before the race. That way I can get an end spot thus easier to find. Most racks are first come, first serve.

2. Look for landmarks around the transition: trees, flags, etc. so I can find my bike easier.

I easily found my bike this time and hit the road:

My plan for the ride was to ride at an easy tempo to save my legs (and back) for the run. My goal was to finish in 3 hours. With that said, I was mentally prepared to let riders pass my thru-out the bike.  

The key would be for me to be as aerodynamic as possible. That meant I'd ride in the aero position as long as I could comfortably, remembering to eat and drink often to keep my energy levels up.

Here's a pic of me on the bike course. Many of these pics were taken by the official race photographers along the race course: 

I was quite comfortable on the bike. My back felt good and every so often I'd pick up my pace for just a couple minutes just to test my legs. I'd also stand up and pedal to stretch my back. 

One thing I really like about this sport is even though it's very competitive, people still help each other and offer words of encouragement. Several times during the ride, I heard "great ride" or "looking good!" as i passed someone or got pased myself. One guy was passing me and said "your Cliff Bars are about to fall out of your pocket!" The last thing you want to do is lose your food on the bike! And if you're riding in a group, trying to stop and get it could be dangerous!! 

I was cruising along around mile 35 when I saw a guy standing next to his bike stretching and grimacing. I knew what was wrong: he was cramping and was trying to loosen his muscles. I stopped and asked him if he needed any electrolytes as I held out a handful I had in a sandwich bag. He said yes and asked if he could have 2. I gave him 2, wished him luck and took off again.  I didn't see him after that, but I hope he made it. You hate to see someone put in all that training and can't finish!!

Around mile 45 I started to get a slight cramp in MY left leg. To be honest, I'm not sure WHY I got a cramp because I wasn't really pushing it. Hell, I've ridden harder in training! I had plenty electrolytes and was eating and drinking plenty so I didn't know what the deal was. As a result, I had to sit up take another electrolyte and slow up a bit.

Here's another pic from an official race photographer. I can look at this pic and tell I was tired:

I think it comes down to my conditioning. It was good, but not where it would be if I hadn't gotten injured. But dwelling on that wouldn't do me any good at that point in time, so I decided to not dwell on it and just try ride at my own pace.

By mile 50 I was feeling better. The leg cramps had disappeared, but I decided to keep riding at an easier pace because I'd be running soon. I passed an equal share of riders who passed me, so overall I had a good ride.  

I finished the ride in approximately  3:20 minutes, 20 minutes slower than I anticipated. I think that leg cramp cost me 10 minutes, but that's ok, because I felt good and ready for the run!

Next blog will be about the run! That long, long run in the HOT Florida sun! Lol

Thanks for reading! Till next time, peace!  


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cone to Cone!

Phase I

Well, my race has come and gone! It was everything I expected and more! I was pretty nervous because it was my first race of the year, I hadn't ran as much as I'd liked, and my back was still the x-factor. How would it hold up??

Then I got a chance to check out the competition the day before at the pre-race registration and they looked amazingly fit. 

I also found out the swim would be staggered into 22 waves, 3 minutes apart. I was in the 11th wave at 6:51am. That meant I'd have a lot of fast swimmers in waves starting after me literally nipping at my heels:

There were 2000 competitors in the race, which meant 1000 people were starting behind me.

Needless to say, I didn't sleep well the night before the race! Lol 

The morning of the race I woke up feeling pretty relaxed. I was still nervous, but I had to remind myself I wasn't racing anybody but myself. The key for me was to race MY race and finish! 

My wife took some really cool pics. Here's pics of me getting bodymarked and chilling before the swim start:

After getting checked in I'm feeling pretty relaxed and ready to race!

There were quite a few spectators out there cheering the athletes on:

The big crowds really help get you pumped up! After hearing the crowd cheer and the announcer get everybody going I was ready!

My swim started out with no problems. I prefer to start in the back because I don't want to get swam over by the faster swimmers. It took maybe 15 minutes to get comfortable in the water. 

I simply pretended I was still in the pool at Seaworld and swam at my relaxed, leisurly pace.  I was swimming with a group of people in my wave and was feeling good! 

20 minutes later, I was still swimming at my own pace and then I started to get caught from behind. It is AMAZING to me how fast some people can swim! They were literally passing me like I was standing still!

It was kinda nerve-wracking at the same time, because even though some of them passed by me no problem, others would bump into me by hitting my feet, legs, and arms! Now mind you, I have on contact lenses, so I'm PRAYING nobody hits my goggles and knocks them off!!

Then we're swimming in the middle of a lake, so it's not like I could stop and regroup. I had to just keep swimming! 

Ecen though I was getting caught by faster swimmers,  to my surprise I  started catching people from the waves before me. There were all types of swimmers out there.  If I'm the Black Turtle, i saw plenty sharks who devoured everybody in their path, marlins who swam effortlessly thru the water at top speed, baby manatees that swim slower than turtles lol and crabs thst are the slowest of all! Lol

Halfway into the swim, I saw a lady have to get rescued by a lifeguard. She was hanging onto the raft and looked really tired. The swim is no joke! It's not like running or riding a bike where you can stop if you get tired. If you stop while swimming in 20 feet of water you're in big trouble!
With people catching me from behind every couple minutes it was hard to keep a rythm, but I stayed calm and swim at my own pace.  To keep cool I started to think about 1 of my all time favorite songs: James Brown's Funky Good Time! Lol

"We're gonna have a funky good time;
Gonna have a funky good time;
Gotta take it hiiiigher!"

I try to do whatever it takes to keep ne motivated in open water swims. If you look at the sheer distance of the swim it can be intimidating, so I focus on getting from 1 cone to another.

They may not look that far apart when on land, but when swimming it can take forever to reach the next cone!

About 40 minutes into the swim I'm still feeling good, but I'm ready to get outta the water! I'm still swimming with a group and we're getting close to the Swim Finish. I can see it in the distance and even hear the announcer over the microphone so I start to do a spot check: 

My back, shoulders, and everything feels good and I'm not tired at all, but I'm ready to get out the water! I start to focus on the finish, but it doesn't seem like I'm getting any closer! I try to swim faster, but I'm not going any faster.

Ever hear 1 of those souped up Honda Accords with the big muffler? They make all that noise, but don't seem to go any faster? That's how I feel when I try swim faster. I'm doing a whole lotta splashing, but going the same speed! Lol So I resume my original pace and just keep swimming! Lol 

I wanted to finish the swim in 45 minutes and finished in 50. Not as fast as I wanted, but I didn't use much energy! Phase 2 was the bike, and I was ready! 

I'll post the bike portion of the race tomorrow! Thanks for reading! Till next time, peace!        

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Gameplan

My race is in 2 days and I'm as ready as I'll ever be! My back has just a little bit of stiffness in the morning, but nothing to worry about. I haven't taken the pain meds since Monday, and I've had light, 45 minute low intensity swim & bike workouts just to keep the blood flowing with no problems.

Even though I feel fine, I know I'm not in tip top condition. With that said, I still feel prepared mentally and physically and have my Gameplan ready.

Everyone knows that you swim, bike, then run, but there's 1 crucial aspect of the race that's often neglected: The transition area. Time is of the essence in ALL aspects of triathlon, and much time can be lost if a person has a bad transition.

For example: A person can have a GREAT swim, but if they spend 10 minutes fiddling around in the transition drying off, cathcing their breath, or even getting LOST before they get on their bike, their race could be over. Or, they have a good bike ride, but take too much time changing their shoes or shirt to run in and can't make up that time lost on the run.

So I've been thinking of ways I can cut time in the transition area, seeing how my bike & run will be slower than I want. For the longer races, I usually wear specific gear for the swim, for the bike also, then change into something else for the run. this year I'll try something a little different and wear a new tri-suit I bought:

I've worn it several times in training & it feels good. I can wear this suit for the swim, bike AND run. So, when I finish the swim, I can literally put on my bike shoes & helmet & hit the road. Same with the run. Once I get off the bike, I can change my shoes, grab my running hat & start running. This suit alone will cut 10 minutes off my time. No wardrobe changes. This aint Rip the Runway or America's Next Top Model. I just wanna get my ish & go! lol

The next aspect that I have to focus on is my food intake. If I don't eat (or drink enough) I'll either become dehydrated, bonk, or both. And seeing how it's supposed to be sunny in the high 80's I have to make sure my energy reserves are on full all day. Here's the food that'll get me thru the bike & run (minus my water & Gator-Aide:)

The electrolytes will help me replinish the salt and minerals I lose thru sweat and help minimize/prevent muscle cramps. The Gu is a "pick me up" that gives me instant energy. Not to mention it tastes like chocolate pudding! Soooo good! lol

The Clif Bars are great! They are organic and the ingredients are all natural and made specifically for endurance sports.

Before my swim I will drink water to make sure I don't get dehydrated during the swim, and depending on how long before my swim start and I eat breakfast, I might eat a fruit cup also.

I guesstimate the 1.2 mile swim will take 45 minutes. That's basically 45 minutes of cardio with no drinking or eating. So when I finish the swim, I'll drink some water in the transition area then take an electrolyte 15 minutes into riding the bike.

When I ride the bike, I will ride at an ez tempo, with my mind on saving energy for the run. I will TRY resisit the urge to ride hard, ESPECIALLY when someone 25 years OLDER than me passes me! (Yes, that DOES happen, because those older cats are FAST!!!)

I'll start eating on a ClifBar 30 minutes into the ride, even if I'm not hungry. I'll take my 1st GU 45 minutes to an hour into the ride. I'll sip water & GatorAide continuously because it'll be hot. I'll take another electrolyte 90 minutes into the ride. At this point I'll nibble on a ClifBar every 15 minutes or so and take a 2nd Gu 2 hours into the ride.

I expect to finish the 56 mile bike in 3 hours or so. I can't begin to guess my actual time because I don't know if I'll be tired after the swim, how tough the hills will be, if it'll be windy, or if my back will be stiff. Any of these variables will make me ride slower, because I MUST have energy for the run.

At mile 54-55 I will ease up on the bike & stand more to loosen my legs & back. I want to literally hit the ground running, but this is the true unknown variable. My back feels better, but how will it feel after the ride? I think I'll have to walk for a while to loosen it up before I can run. If so, that's what I'll do, because I won't strain it trying to be hero! lol

My all time best run was in a Half Marathon about 10 years ago, when I ran in 1 hour, 55 minutes. That wasn't in a triathlon. If I had to walk the entire 13.1 miles, it'd take me close to 4 hours. So my time will be somewhere in the middle. My guess is I'll finish the run in 3 hours. They'll have aide stations every mile of the run, so being dehydrated or running out of food won't be an issue, but I'll still carry my own GU, ClifBar & bottle of GatorAide.

so, if I have a 45 minute swim, 3 hour bike and 3 hour run, I'm looking at 7 hours, give or take a few minutes in the transition areas. I know for a fact that if i finish the bike I'm gonna finish, but in what condition will that be??? I have no clue, but I can't wait to find out!

This will be my last blog until after the race. I'll post pics the day before & before the race. There are supposed to be well over a thousand athletes competing from all over the US and abroad, so this will be VERY interesting! Can't wait!!!!

Thanks for reading! Till next time, PEACE!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Getting My Mind Right!

One of my favorite things about Chicago (aside from Harold's Chicken)  is Lake Michigan. They call it a "lake," but it's HUGE! It looks like an ocean (to me) because you can't see land in the other side. It seems to go on forever. When I was 6, I thought Europe was on the other side! Lol
Here's an aerial shot, but even this doesn't do it justice:

I have plenty good memories of Lake Michigan.  One memory I have is my mother taking me for bike rides on the lake when I was about 4. She had an old bike with the baby seat on the back. I'd hold on for dear life, but it sure was fun! We'd have a little picnic and then ride back home. Good times!

We lived in an apartment where we could see the sunrise for about 15 years. I'd hang out at the beach with friends at night and when I got older, I'd ride my bike up and down the Lake on Saturday afternoons in the summer just like when she used to take me.  
As I got older, I liked it more & more. The Lake was VERY relaxing for me. If I'm in a bad mood or stressed, I can go by the water and clear my mind just by looking at the waves and hearing the surf hit the shore.
So when I decided to move, 1 of the requirements was I had to live near water. Tampa was perfect! 

A lot is going on this weekend: My race is next Sunday and I this was my last day for a "real" workout. I haven't ran outside in weeks, and I wasn't sure how my legs (or back) would handle the pounding. 

It's also Mother's Day weekend. My mother died in 1997 of cancer, and I think about her EVERY DAY. Part of the reason I don't go back home much is cuz she isn't there and I miss her terribly.  I've accepted her passing, but I still haven't gotten over it.     

So I have all these things swirling around in my mind at the same time, and needed to do something productive about it.  I gotta get my mind right, and a good way to do that was go for a run on the beach.

A beach run would be perfect in several ways;  The sand would be Easier on my knees and back; I hadn't ran on the beach yet this year and it'd be a nice change of pace; and most importantly, I could relax and reminisce about my mother.

I went to my fav beach today (Sand Key.)  It was a perfect day for a run, partly cloudy and breezy. Perfect combinations to help beat the summer heat:

People were out today doing everything from swimming to riding in kayaks:

I asked a couple to take a pic of me before I started my run today. Check out the bridge behind me. That's 1 of the bridges I train on:

My goal today was to run at an easy pace to get the kinks out and to test my back. I had no intention on trying to run fast, just a long, slow endurance run.

The cool thing about living here is there are literally dozens of beaches to choose from. Sand Key is perfect for me because it doesn't get as crowded as some of the others like Clearwater Beach (the Spring Breakbeach), which is 10 minutes away.  Here is the starting point of my run:

After about 20 minutes of running I had the entire beach to myself practically:

I do a "spot check" and I feel pretty good. No knee or back pain. So I keep trudging along at my laid back pace. Twenty minutes pass by & I still feel good. No pain anywhere. I keep my same pace and keep going.

At this point I'm totally relaxed and just enjoying the day! I'm not thinking about the race or anything. I'm relaxed and taking in my surroundings. It's very calm & peaceful out. I like to run without heeadphones, so I just listen to the waves and birds.

After an hour I decide to turn around and head back. I came upon another public beach so I was able to fill up 1 of my water bottles. This Florida heat is NO JOKE. (I NEVER run without water, Gatorade, electrolyte tablets or Clif Bars!)

As I head back, I do another spotcheck, and to my surprise, I still have no pain! I want to think my back problems are behind me, but I don't want to jump to any conclusions, so I just keep running at my "home run trot."

I'm about 90 minutes into my run and I'm starting to get tired. I want to walk, but I focus on m yform and remind myself that after today, this is it for all the hard workouts, and to see if I can keep running just a little longer. The big condo's that I passed on the start of my run are starting to get closer:. Not much longer!

I kep running and made it back in 1:56 minutes. I actually had a negative split: The return trip was 4 minutes faster than the 1st part when I turned around to come back. That's very surprising to me because I wasn't even trying to run hard or pick up the pace. If I had to guess, I think I ran 10 miles today.Maybe more, maybe less, but that's not important to me. What is important is I ran 2 hours nonstop. So next week if I start to struggle, I can remind myself that I did have a good run prior to the race and can do it again!

Seeing how I haven't ran in a while I think that's a great run, and my lack of running didn't hurt me too too bad.

My biggest concern now is how will I feel coming off the bike? Will my back be so stiff that I have to walk? If so, that's fine because the #1 goal is to finish! I have no problems with walking. Walking doesn't hurt your knees anyway! lol

After my run today I felt really good & happy. I'm not worried about next week anymore. I think I'll be fine. Getting out on the beach also helped me clear my mind. Sometimes answers to questions or problems come to me when I workout. Today I reminded myself that death is part of life, and trying to figure out the "why's" or "how comes" is a useless waste of energy. If it's God's will then so be it. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed to anybody, even if it is your mother. Yes I miss her, but if I focus on the good times that'll make it a little easier. Tomorrow isn't promised toany of us, so the key is to take full advantage of the time you DO have. I think we did that and that's comforting.

When i finish a long workout Ilike to relax a bit before I head home and today was no exception! I found me a nice spot on the beach & put out my Chicago Bulls yoga mat several bottles of ice cold water and a Subway Sammich!

No yoga todaythough. I just wanted to chill! lol I sat/laid there & relaxed for about 45 minutes before heading home. Tonight we went out with the in-laws and others in the family for a Mother's Day dinner and had a good time.

So everything's done! Not much I can do now. I'll do some light swim & bike workouts till Wednesday then after that I'm shutting it down so I can rest. After that I'll start to get mentally prepared for race day and make my race day gameplan. I'm more excited than nervous at this point, because I want to see what I can do! No matter "what" I do, I'm gonna do it 100%!

Thanks for reading! Till next time, peace!