Thursday, May 27, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Take That OWS!!

Wow, what a difference a few days make!! Thanks to everyone for the encouragement and advice the past few days. The open water swim on Thursday definitely left me shaken and doubting myself. I was getting really nervous. If I couldn't even swim a few hundred yards in Arcadia, how in the heck did I plan on swimming 1500 meters in Austin?!

Well, today was round number 2 at Arcadia and this time it was only with the Team-in-Training crew. Coach Ryan and Coach Megan gathered us together and gave us a few last minute tips before we embarked on our first lap around the buoys. I immediately cleared my head and told myself I could do it. I had practiced sighting in the pool all day on Friday and felt confident in my ability to keep my composure. I wasn't about to let the water have the best of me this time. The end result : I actually felt like I knew was I was doing. I remembered to keep my strokes long. I kept my kicking light to save my legs. I sighted about every 8-10 strokes. I never once lost my cool and freaked out. Granted, there weren't nearly as many people in the water with us this time and I didn't get kicked, but still, it was 100 times better than last Thursday. I left the water confident and now I know I can do it in Austin. Take that you stupid, muddy open water.

After doing about 1000 yards in the lake, we jumped out of the water and got some last minute instructions on how to set up our transition area. I actually haven't practiced my transitions yet, so that may be something I work on by myself this week. I know it's not that tough, but it would still be nice to go through a quick transition to get the process down pat. I tend to over-pack and over-prepare so I need to remind myself to only take what I absolutely need to transition. Otherwise I will have too much stuff crammed into my tiny transition area.

After our transition lesson, a couple of us went for a quick bike ride. It was only 4 miles or so, but it felt good to get out on the bike. By that time, the wind had stopped blowing and it was a nice, relaxing ride.

Overall it was a very successful night and I can thank all of you guys and my TNT friends and coaches for all of the help along the way. I am now ready to go to Austin and become a triathlete.

Here is a pic we took after our swim. Go Team!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Open Water Swim

Well, as most of you know, I have been begging and pleading with Mother Nature to let up around here so we could get in an open water swim. I guess you get what you ask for eventually. Wednesday night was another tornado outbreak here in Oklahoma, but thankfully all the pesky twisters stayed out in rural areas and didn't do a ton of property damage. My grandparents had one go a few miles from their house, but they escaped with only the minor inconvenience of having no power for a few hours. After the latest round, it looks like we might be settling into our early summer routine: 80s and 90s and no rain.

Our group swim with Team-in-Training was actually canceled on Wednesday because of the weather so I sat on my butt and watched the tornado footage. As I have said before, I am a weather nerd so that was right up my alley. Due to no swim, the TNT group ended up joining forces with the TRI-OKC group for their first Splash N Dash of the season. The TRI-OKC group is the local triathlon club and they host regular swims and runs out at Arcadia Lake to provide some open water practice for local triathletes. It's a great way to meet people and get in some practice at the same time. Double bonus!

The weather Thursday was amazing. Low 80s, sunny, and no wind. You really couldn't ask for better weather for the first open water. I lugged all my gear to the lake and made sure everyone realized I was a newbie by struggling with my wetsuit and awkwardly asking questions. I was really nervous and it turns out that I had good reason.

After finally getting into the body bag we so affectionately call a wetsuit, I listened to the instructions for the swim and made my way to the beach with the rest of the crew. I would say there were probably 30-40 people present and some looked like seasoned veterans and others looked a lot like me: the classic deer in the headlights look. I was abnormally nervous and it was probably what precipitated the panic attack in the water. I think if I could have calmed myself down and just treated this like any other swim I could have done much better. Such is the life of a triathlete-in-training.

The swim started off fine. It was a little unnerving not being able to see anything in the water and constantly having to dodge feet and hands. The wetsuit also limited my range of motion which took a little while to get used to, but I could definitely tell it was much easier to stay afloat. I made it about 100 yards off shore and made my first turn around a "no wake zone" buoy and that's when the panic ensued. Right as I turned the corner, a guy in front of me kicked me in the face and dislodged the right side of my goggles. Water streamed in, the left side fogged up, and I sucked in a mouthful of lovely red-dirt tainted water. I then lost all control of my movements and felt like I was one of the people bailing off the Titanic. I really just freaked out. Everything I learned went out the window and I felt like I was back in my childhood days scared to death of the water. Finally it dawned on me that I could roll over on my back and compose myself. I laid there for a bit and lightly kicked while I messed with my goggles and finally got them back on. They were still fogged up when I turned over to swim so I just blindly swam until I hit something I could grab onto and catch my breath. Basically I had just swam a triangle, not the half-octagon shaped course that I should have been doing. I called it quits on that lap and walked back to the shore defeated. Bottom line : It sucked!

After getting some tips from Coach Ryan and seeing another fellow TNT'er struggling as well, I made my way back to the start for my second lap and prayed I wouldn't pull a similar stunt. I was hesitant to immediately jump back in the water and spent a few minutes spitting in my goggles, adjusting my swim cap, and gathering myself for another attempt. After finally convincing myself it would be better, off I went. With the exception of swimming a little off course and not sighting very well, the second lap was 100 times better and left me feeling a tad bit better about my open water swim abilities. I still got out of the water seriously questioning what I had gotten myself into and was happier than ever to get off that body bag and move on to running. Putting on those running shoes never felt so good.

To sum it up, the first open water swim was a borderline disaster. My confidence took a big hit and now I have to get myself back to that place where I know I can do this and remove those doubts in my head. Race day is only 9 days away now. There is no turning back. It's time to suck it up and face my demons. Open water swim #2 is on Monday with the TNT group. Please keep your fingers crossed that it goes better for me. I really need it to go well.

As a way to get back some of my mojo, I opted for a pool workout today and swam the full 1500 meters and felt great doing it. It definitely instilled some of that confidence I lost on Thursday. I know I can handle the distance. I just need to get that evil voice out of my head reminding me that there is no lane rope or wall to grab onto when I get into trouble. Any suggestions from you triathlon pros reading my blog?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Seriously? Mother Nature give us a break!

Weather disaster number two for the week is officially in the books. After the massive tornado outbreak last Monday, we thought we would keep things interesting around here and throw in the worst hail storm in recent memory. Yesterday the heavens unloaded golf balls, baseballs, and softballs on the entire northern side of OKC. Not one or two minutes worth, let's try 5 to 10 minutes. I personally was very lucky and missed the bulk of the storm by a mere 3 or 4 miles, but most of OKC was not so fortunate. It's been a heck of a week around here to say the least. Round number 3 is on it's way Wednesday. Please keep your fingers crossed that this one doesn't pan out quite like they predict.

Needless to say, the open water swim practice continues to get pushed back. The current plan is to go on Thursday evening. The next 2 days are supposed to be wet and stormy, with another round of large hail and tornadoes on Wednesday. If we all manage to make it through unscathed, we may actually get in an open water this week. I am beginning to get a little nervous about the swim. For starters, I have only tried my wetsuit on once and that was in my living room by myself. I haven't mastered the art of actually swimming in it. I for sure haven't mastered the art of swimming in a straight line without the assistance of lane ropes and painted lines on the bottom of the pool. CapTex could be a very interesting experience to say the least.

Yesterday before the heavens opened up I did manage to get in a nice little brick workout. The bricks have been pretty hit and miss this season due to scheduling complications. We really haven't had much luck weather-wise around here. I know it's my own fault for not getting more in, so I have no one to blame but myself. I mean I could have went out several times and ended up looking like this guy. Credit to for the pic.

This poor guy was out trying to get in a long run yesterday and got caught out at Lake Hefner when the storm rolled in. If you have ever run at Lake Hefner, you know there isn't much cover out there. Poor guy. That's dedication. He was lucky someone picked him up shortly after it started or this could have been a lot worse. Ouch!

Lucky for me, I went about 12 PM yesterday and was finished about 30-45 minutes before the storm hit. I ended up logging 21 miles on the bike and 2.66 miles on the run. I just did a simple out and back from my car on the run portion because I didn't have a lock for my bike and I wasn't quite sure it would be there when I got back. It was, thank goodness. Overall I felt pretty happy with the workout. I still have little clue as to what time to expect at the tri. I am hoping for a decent showing, but in all honesty it's pretty much up in the air at this point. I think my goal is to get in under 3 hours. I figure 40 minutes for the swim, 1:20 on the bike, and 50 minutes on the run. That gives me ample time to screw up something in my transition and still be ok. Heck, getting out of the water is going to be worthy enough for a celebration!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fundraising Success!!

Hey gang! If you haven't had a chance to see the new fundraising total, you should really give it a peek. Friday was a great day of raising money to help find a cure!

Thursday night I sent out an e-mail to all the people that work on my floor as a way to remind everyone of the upcoming race. I had several people tell me they were going to donate, but had probably forgotten due to the length of time since my last e-mail. I didn't expect to get a ton of donations, but to my surprise, I ended up receiving over $600 in donations! It sent me over my $3,000 minimum contribution and pushed me closer to my goal of $4,500! Thank you to everyone who donated! The support from everyone through this process has been absolutely tremendous. Here are my new Team members:

De Ann Williams
Shanna Harmon
Dory Douglas
Zach Cowden
Jason Sarakatsannis
Christoper Wilno
Tenaska Marketing Ventures - Scott McCollister

After work on Friday, I was pumped up and ready for a swim. I went into the workout thinking I would just follow the planned schedule and do the usual warm-up, drills, main sets, and some sprints. After I finished the 200 meter warm-up I had a crazy thought. Self : "Why not just combine the rest of your workout into a long swim?" I had only swam 1000 meters continuously up to this point so I figured what the hell. I might as well make this an even better day and swim the 1500 meters to give me that extra confidence boost for Austin. I started off in a pretty slow pace because I really didn't know what to expect. I wanted to make sure I didn't bonk, but I also wanted to make sure that I didn't just completely dog it and not push myself. The first 300 or 400 meters was just like I expected. I was sluggish, kinda tired, and hadn't found my groove. It was like the start of any other workout, whether it be running, biking, or swimming. You always have that 10-15 minutes where you really question if the workout is going to be fun or whether it's going to be miserable. After that window, I really settled down and felt pretty strong in the water. I was trying to put emphasis on my stroke technique and kick. I felt like lately I had been sloppy with my form so it was time to get focused again and push myself to get better. The swim went surprisingly well and I left the workout feeling renewed confidence in my swim and renewed hope that I could get out of the water faster. I still have my doubts about the wet suit and open water swim, but it looks like Monday's weather is going to cooperate for a little open water practice. Please keep your fingers crossed for us!

Today was another workout with the Team-in-Training crew. We were supposed to do a brick workout, but par for the course lately, it was wet this AM so we settled for a run only. A lot of us hadn't been running much because of the Oklahoma City Memorial races so the 3 miles was a little tougher than I wanted it to be for such a short run. It should be expected when you lay off running for 2 weeks. I will say that the time off has really helped the knee. I still have some pain/tightness on the outside of my knee from time to time, but it nowhere near what it was a month ago. I am confident that as long as I am smart and increase mileage slowly that I will be back to full health when Chicago training starts in June!

We also had a short shoe clinic at the new Red Coyote running store that opened up in Classen Curve. They are the only store in Oklahoma City that has the capability to perform a video gait analysis so I decided to give it a go today. I have never actually been tested for a proper shoe fit which is kinda crazy honestly. You would think that after a year or so of running that I would find somewhere to get fitted, but until Red Coyote opened up, there really wasn't anywhere to have it done in OKC. Thank goodness for new running stores!!

The process was pretty cool and I ended up learning quite a bit about my stride by watching it in slow motion on video. I had done enough research to at least be familiar with the different shoe types, pronation types, and other lingo so it was cool to have someone break down my own mechanics. Basically what I learned was that 1) I have been wearing the wrong type of shoe 2) I really have pretty decent form, and 3) my shoe size was smaller than I had been wearing. In other words, I am buying a new pair of shoes. I have always worn Brooks Adrenaline shoes except for my recent purchase of the Trance 9. I assumed I was in need of a support shoe b/c the vast majority of the population fits in that category. To my surprise, I actually don't need much support at all. The guy who did my analysis said that I have a little roll in my ankle on my right foot, but my left foot was perfect. He also said that my form was really efficient and if I got in the right shoe, it might increase my performance pretty noticeably. He ended up fitting me as a size 12 in the Brooks Glycerin which is a neutral shoe with a little support. I took them for a quick spin around the block and realized that I may have found a new love :-) Granted, I had to explain that I was a Brooks I.D. member and that I get a 40% discount online so I opted to not buy them there and instead would return at a later date to purchase accessories for future races and training. I felt kind of bad not purchasing the shoes right then and there, but the 40% discount is kinda hard to pass up. The Brooks Glycerin will be on my foot before marathon training gets into full force!

One last note : Stay tuned for details on an exciting event I am helping co-host with Red Coyote in June! If you live in OKC, please put June 12th on your calendar. I am helping organize a fun run from their store as part of their grand opening celebration! More details to come soon!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Weather - The Great Equalizer

Well, another canceled open swim due to weather. It is that time of year in Oklahoma so I guess it should be expected. We have another one on the schedule for Monday so keep your fingers crossed that we can get in at least one or two before we head to Austin for the triathlon.

Our normal group swim spot was closed tonight for some reason so I went to my work's fitness center and used the pool there. The water has been really warm the last few times I have been there though. I get so thirsty during my swim. I have to jump out every 10 minutes or so and get a drink because I always forget to take my water bottle. I haven't gotten it through my head that you indeed still sweat in the water and that you need to replace fluids. One of these days I will catch on.

The swim wasn't the best I have had lately, but at least I went and did it. I could have easily sat on my couch and not went back to the gym after hearing that our group swim was canceled. At this point, I can't really afford to miss any more swims though. I am suddenly starting to feel unprepared. Not in the sense that I don't think I will finish, but in the sense that I may not be in the best shape. I need to get in a few more decent workouts and then just go have fun. It is my first triathlon after all.

Monday, May 10, 2010

No Open Water Swim - Tornado Outbreak in OK

Due to the weather in Oklahoma, our open water swim practice has been pushed back to Wednesday night as of now. A tornado outbreak occurred in Oklahoma this afternoon with several tornadoes causing extensive damage across the state. Thankfully there have been no reports of any deaths, but the property damage was fairly extensive. Most of the storms moved just south and east of the OKC metro so we watched most of the storms on TV as the events unfolded.

I am currently sitting on the couch watching all of the videos stream in from across the state of all of the damage. It's heartbreaking to see all of the homes that were completely destroyed. I do have to admit something though. I am absolutely fascinated by weather. You could probably label me as a weather nerd. I read the scientific discussion from the National Weather Service every day and have seriously considered taking storm spotting classes so I can chase storms when they hit. It is truly amazing to watch the storms evolve and see how rapidly they change. Even to this day, tornadoes are extremely hard to predict and even the best technology can't pinpoint exactly where they will hit or what path they will take. They truly are a mystery that can't be solved.

The rest of the week continues to look stormy and unsettled so the training schedule may be pretty hit and miss this week. The plan is to do an open water swim this Wednesday and get in a few bikes and runs on the other days. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day, Team-in-Training, and Bedlam

Well gang, it's been quite a while since I have posted. It was another one of those weeks where I was barely home for more than 30 minutes except to sleep. It seems like they are happening more and more often than not anymore. I guess that is to be expected when the weather turns warmer and the daylight hours get longer.

Training-wise, nothing too special to note this week. I did a couple of good swim workouts and logged a nice 30-mile ride on Saturday morning with the Team-in-Training crew. I also had my first run in nearly 2 weeks on Saturday. It was only a quick 2 miler, but it was nice to get back out and running again.

Saturday also marked the start of something new for me. I am officially signed up to be a Team-in-Training assistant coach for the marathon team. I am really looking forward to the opportunity and am happy that I will be able to stay involved with the organization. My time as a fundraising participant is drawing to a close so this will just continue that chapter of my life. Saturday morning was the kickoff meeting for all of the fall events and we had a great group of participants who have signed up to do the Nike Women's marathon, the Dublin marathon, and the Walt Disney Wine and Dine half marathon this October. We kicked off our training with a quick 2 mile run around the OU Health Sciences campus near downtown OKC and gave everyone their material to get started on a great season. I think it's going to be such a blessing to be able to help everyone realize their dream of completing a marathon or half marathon. It's not every day you are given an opportunity to share the journey with someone and help them live their dream. It's going to be a great few months!

Saturday night was also Bedlam baseball at the Bricktown Ballpark in OKC. It was such a nice, cool evening with the good guys coming out on top! I couldn't have asked for a better way to end an active, productive day. I really wish Oklahoma weather could be like that every day of the year. It was simply amazing.

Today was Mother's Day and I went home to see my mother and also celebrate my dad's birthday which is this coming week. It was so nice to go home and relax with the family. My dad was under the weather with a bad back, so I didn't get to see much of him because he was in bed most of the day. The rest of us curled up on the floor, couch, and recliners and shared many laughs while watching Tommy Boy. The rest of the day we just chit-chatted, relaxed, and enjoyed each others company. A perfect end to a rather busy, hectic week.

Tomorrow we are scheduled to have our first open water swim practice at Lake Arcadia. I am excited and ready to give it a try. There is a pretty decent chance of severe weather and tornadoes tomorrow in Oklahoma so we may get delayed, but regardless I think we will be doing at least one open water swim this week at some point. If the weather cooperates, we may actually get in two or three. I will report back with all of the details tomorrow evening. Hope everyone had a great weekend. I will try to be more diligent with my updates this week.

Monday, May 3, 2010

1st Bike Wreck - Minor

Well, it was bound to happen at some point. I think it's everyone's fear when they first start biking. That dreaded first wreck. If you have been keeping up on the blog, you are well aware of the fact that I have fallen several times because of my clumsy nature and the fact I hadn't mastered the clipless pedals. This time around, I was actually moving when it happened.

We had our weekly group ride with TNT on Sunday afternoon and only 4 of our group actually showed up so we decided to alter the training plan and turn our brick workout into a long ride. We ended up starting at Lake Hefner and took the city roads/trails over to Lake Overholser for a loop there before heading back to base camp at Hefner. It was on our loop around Overholser when the accident happened.

If you have never ridden at Overholser, the south side of the lake runs parallel to NW 10th Street and is narrowed to a one-lane bridge that is very narrow and has walls about 4-5 feet high on both sides. You really have nowhere to go except straight and this is where our incident occurred. As we turned onto the bridge, one of the girls in our group was messing with her pedal and hit a bump about the same time and lost her balance. Normally this would be no cause of concern because you can just correct yourself and go on with your business. However, in this case, the loss of balance was just enough to cause her to hit the wall on the left side of the lane and that was all she wrote. She tried to correct herself but at this point all she could do was grab the wall and try to limit the damage. I was closely behind her when she hit the wall and never had a chance to stop before I collided with her as well. Luckily I was able to unclip and land upright and neither one of us was seriously injured. We were also lucky that we had just turned a corner and hadn't had a chance to get up much speed.

I ended up leaving the scene of the crash with only a minor road rash on my left leg and some scratches on my handlebars and seat. Our other participant wasn't as lucky. She ended up getting some road rash on her left leg, bruised her ribs/left chest area where she hit the wall, and some wear and tear on her handlebars and bike. It was nice to be able to laugh it off after it happened and chalk it up as our wreck of the season. I know she felt super bad about it, but I was just happy nothing serious happened and we could finish our ride chit-chatting about vacation, friends, and the rest of our year. Now that I have that first wreck out of my system, I can go about with my training and hopefully never have another one :-)