Thursday, August 11, 2011

Inaugural Thankful Thursday

Yes, you read that right - it's my very first thankful thursday post. I couldn't miss taking advantage of the thankful day considering that lately I feel like I have A LOT to be thankful for. So here goes (and since it's a little late and I need to get to bed early so I can run tomorrow, I will be thankful in list-style):

Shoes - I finally received my free bad boys in the mail yesterday. I entered a contest last week courtesy of B.o.B herself and guess what I won. Shocker, right? I never win anything. Seriously! If I were ever to choose a contest to win though, free running shoes would be my first choice. OK, maybe, I wouldn't mind winning the Lotto but I am to cheap to play. Heh. This is besides the point. I got my free New Balance Minimus and, of course, I had to take them out for a stroll and so far, I must say I am in love. Those puppies are extremely lightweight and have a Vibram sole. I feel like my Saucony Kinera got into a fight with my Vibram Five Fingers and viola I got the Minimus. Those shoes are so awesome that I wore them without socks today. Still to soon to tell if they are perfect for me, but I am grateful for the extra motivation they have given me. Updates to come!

FiancĂ© - I just recently acquired one of know a fiancĂ©! Who would have thought?! I have known Andy for 7 years and he has been my best friend from the first day I met him. He is truly amazing. After some off and ons throughout the years, we reconnected a few months ago and he felt it was time to make an honest woman out of me. :) Honestly, with all the growing up we have done through out the years this couldn't be a better beginning. He truly is my biggest fan. He reads everything I write. And although not always present, he has alway managed to stalk my races. I am so thankful to have him in my life! He is pretty thankful too, since he got a two for one deal. He gained the J-Squared girls (mine and my daughter's group name).

My beautiful family! 

Mini-vacation - I have been a little sad about the lack of vacation this year, so I took the best mini-vacation possible. I'm in Miami B....! Yes, I am in my old stomping grounds. The 305. The MIA. Little Havana. How ever you want to call that big city in the southern part of Florida that's where I am at. I am rolling with my BFF and will be conducting some much needed relaxation and business. What might the business be? I will be driving the Miami Marathon course tomorrow. During my Chicago marathon training, one of the best training tools I had was that I could visualize the parts of the city I would be running through all the time. You would think with Miami being my hometown I would be able to do the same but alas, I can not. Hence the operation drive marathon course. I already have all my turns and everything mapped out and hope to scope out the scenes for proper future training visualization.

 Finally, I am thankful to have SO much to be thankful for! What are you thankful for?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Catching up on blog with a triathlon recap

Before I start my recap, I must apologize for my lack of posts. All I can say for my self is I am a sucky blogger. Oh well. 
I couldn't stay away for much longer based on death threats from fellow blogger over at Discom-BOB-ulated Running. Just kidding she didn't really threaten my life just guilt-ed me into promising to post soon. :)
You all would be happy to know that although I haven't kept up with my blogging or DailyMile lately (another thing I feel guilty about), I have been attempting to keep up with my running plus a little more cross training. I attribute my success of actually working out to:
A) I got suckered into a triathlon.
B) I really want a redo on a marathon.
Although, I started the year out slow. I feel like I have finally gotten my groove back. This is all thanks to that triathlon I got suckered into by a co-worker. If it weren't for my fear of the actual event, I don't think I would have kept up with running and/or cross training as much as I have. 
So after training for the Top Gun Triathlon in Ft. Desoto for a little over two months, I made my TRI debut this past weekend.
Here is the three part breakdown:
Going into the training the swim was what I was most afraid of. In fact, it was what always kept me away from seriously considering a triathlon. A few months ago, B.o.B.  gave me a swim lesson and helped me build up some confidence. I knew it would only be a quarter of a mile swim, but thoughts of swimming in the ocean, in a big group of people, really scared the bejeesus out of me. During swim training, I found it difficult to keep up with my breathing and not get fatigued quickly. I didn't give up though and continued to practice swimming twice a week. The week before the race, I attempted a few open water swims and that I believe really helped but it also pecked at my confidence. I also realized I have a much harder time staying calm in the ocean then I do in the pool, which doesn't help with the fatigue. 
On race day, I figured I would try to give it my best. I lined up at the back of my age group and followed B.O.B.'s advice to stay in the middle and avoid the buoy where it gets crowded. I waved at my mom and daughter before running into the ocean and just hoped for the best. My goal was to stay calm and collected while swimming. I was surprised when it wasn't that bad. I mean it was difficult to find an open space to swim in where someone else didn't end up swimming into me but overall it wasn't so bad. I stayed calm and kept counting to remind me to breathe.  I still had to resort to my frog style swim to catch my breath few times. I was still surprised when I ran out of the water and saw that my watch said 11:56. This was by far the fastest I had  ever swam the distance. I continued to run toward the transition area. I waved at my mom and daughter who where cheering  me on. In the future, I will have to get used to this first transition. It was a bit of a jog to the transition area and I was already pretty winded from running in the shallow water. 
With the swim over, I started to fret of over the upcoming bicycle ride. I was grateful when I saw Red and Spike who I had just met early and were there to cheer on the B.o.B. Although we had just met they were super awesome to yell out: "Good job Jessica!" 
Once I got into the transition area, (gasping for air) I dried off my feet with a towel and attempted to get as much of the sand off. Thanks to my coworker Josh who suggested I bring a small towel, otherwise I would have been screwed. I slipped on my socks and shoes. Drank some more water. Put on my helmet. Put my gummies in one of my pockets and walked off with my bike. During training and for the race, I used my brother's mountain bike. I never really got confident with cycling but I figured I would do OK. 
During training, I tried to ride twice a week. I didn't complicate it though. On every ride, I attempted the 10 miles I would need to do on the race and tried to increase my pace. Needless to say I was still pretty slow. On race day, I got passed a lot! I found it difficult to get into a steady riding groove and was struggling to pick up my pace. Overall, I am just happy I didn't bust and at least it didn't take me a whole hour to finish. Because it was a slow ride, I did get to notice what a beautiful ride it was. I also have to work on my fueling and riding multitasking skills, this slowed me down some. Fifty-something minutes later, I was happy to see the transition area and once again see my mom and daughter waiting for me at the bicycle finish. It was a bit bumpy getting off the bike because I had some guy yelling, "You must dismount before the red line," but I didn't fall.  Thank. Goodness. Although it was super close!
I got off headed into the transition area and was a bit miffed to find all the riders in my section were taking up the bike rack and I had to take time to move them so I could squeeze. I didn't let this completely ruin my mood I was happy that all that was left was a 5k. I took off my helmet, drank some water and took off. My time including transition: 55:06
The minute I got going, I noticed I had a pebble in my shoe. I didn't stop, but I did cross my fingers this wouldn't cause trouble later. During training, I never got used to the brick workouts (riding followed by running workout) but in all honesty, I didn't  try as much as I should have. When I started the run my legs felt wobbly and shaky. I resorted to some walking  to shake out the yucky leg sensations. I continued to run/walk throughout the 5k until the end when I felt up to way more running. On a side note, for future tris, I need to make sure to put some sort of head band or bring a small towel for the run because my eyes were burning throughout the run. Not surprising, it was super hot and my sweat was extra salty, from the swim, and the sweat kept getting in my eyes. 
Toward the end of the run, I met a 54-year-old guy who was walking at the time, who said I was motivating him to keep moving. It was a nice feeling to know he found me motivating. I don't really see myself as a motivating person so I will take the compliment. We ran together for about a mile and chatted a bit about this being our first triathlon and our experience so far. When we got to the last water break he went off running ahead of me, while I had a little girl splash some water into my eyes.  I left the water stop happy to know I had 1.1 left in the race. So I gave it everything i had left in the tank and raced to the finish line. With transition time, I finished the run in 41:40.
My mom and daughter were once again waiting for me at the end. And I crossed the finish line with a big ol' smile on my face that I survived my first triathlon. My overall finish time was 1:48.
You might have noticed that I included my transition times with my bike and run times. Well for some reason the timing chip systems had issues with transition times so everything wasn't separated out as usual. This sort of blows considering it would have been nice to know exactly how I did. On the bright side, I tried to keep track using my stop watch throughout the race. 
Based on my watch this is my estimation of times:
Swim: 11:56
T1:      5 mins
Bike:   51 mins
T2:      3 mins
Run:    37 mins
Total:   1 hour and 48 mins
These aren't exact times I know I am a little off somewhere and it's unfortunate I can't compare them to real chip times.
Overall thoughts
I enjoyed the triathlon way more then expected. It was nice to know so many people (for me) that were racing that day. Both of my buddies did AWESOME! B.O.B. PR'd on her tri-versary with a 1:10 and my co-worker did amazing with a 1:22. And the good thing is I beat him at one thing...the swim! Now I can trash talk a little bit.

During training, I repeated to myself that I would never sign up for one of these things again.It was difficult to keep up with all the training. I tried to run 4 times a week and bike and swim twice a week. And I even tried to include some strength training. But after completing the TRI I am not so sure I won't TRI again. I enjoyed the overall experience and I feel like I have a chance of getting better at it. I know it sounds negative, but with running races I feel like I could improve and get faster but certain goals seem much more out of my reach. With the TRI I walked away feeling that if I got an actual road bike alone, I could improve my time. I guess we will have to see what happens. 
On another note, my mom and daughter did a great job of keeping up with me for moral support. My daughter was my little photographer during the race. 

Here are some photos she took: 

Before the madness

The B.o.B and I before starting the race.
Can you tell how nervous I was?
Me on the bike...notice how there is no one else around. Yup I was slow!
Crossing the finish line. I am not sure what I was doing with my hand but hey, I look happy!