Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Hard is What Makes it Great

It was a hard week. And, of course it's's training. At first, I was going to title this week's blog post, "Training Sucks" but then got out of my pity party and remembered a scene from one of my favorite movies, A League of Their Own:

Most of my training this week was hard, both mentally and physically. I know it's part of the cycle, but it took a lot of mental strength to get my training completed. Part of it was some fatigue, I think, and gave myself an extra rest day where I literally slept most of the day.

I've been doing some reading on swimming technique and decided it was time for me to grow up and start bilateral breathing. Swim power comes from the core through proper body rotation. Breathing to one side generally results in poor body rotation on the opposite side, leading to asymetrical swimming. So, I'm retraining myself to breath bilaterally, every third stroke. And it's hard. It's like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. But it will get there. Here is a great web resource on bilateral swimming:

This morning's drill was speed work, 20x75m tempo swim, with warmup and cool down. I worked on my bilateral breathing with it. I felt awful about a third of the way through. Was really tempted to quit and really had to talk myself in continuing, but I did it. However, 100m into my 200m cool down I realized I was going to vomit--and fortunately made it out of the pool to the locker room toilet. It was all water...seems I had a belly full of pool water from the mouthfuls I got learning how to breathe on my left side. Ugh. What a fitting end to a hard workout.

Apparently I'm trying to run faster...faster than I can right now. I had a 30 minute easy run scheduled early in the week which turned into a too fast out and walk back. I was having trouble understanding what had happened until I looked at my splits:

Turns out I had a very inconsistently paced run, anywhere from 7:54 to 9:30 mile (the 10:59 is part of a walk). I was confused by this at first, and then I realized that my Garmin was not showing me real time pace during my run, rather an average, allowing huge swings in my tempo. No wonder I was exhausted. Grrr! So I changed the settings on my device and had another 30 minute run a couple of days later:

Much more consistent. And no exhaustion or walking. Note, I felt so great at the end of the run that I did a sprint at the end. My overall pace improved as well. So, I need to work on keeping my pace consistent, watching the big tempo swings.

Strength and Conditioning
This was my first week of Coach Jeff Smith's Strength and Conditioning program that I introduced last post. I know it's's just not fun...yet. It's a lot of work for me, which tells me just how much I need to do it. I wasn't able to do three sets of all the exercises, started with one set of each of the exercises this week. I'll increase to two sets next week, then three the following.

It occurred to me that scheduling my workout rest days on my fire department shift days really isn't resting in the desired sense. I scheduled them on shift days because it is just nice to not have to try to run at the station with interruptions for emergency responses, lug my bike and trainer into the station, or get up at 4AM in order to get a swim session in before work. However, I don't truly completely rest or relax when I'm at work. Not only are we running calls and doing drills and other administrative stuff, but I never sleep well, even if we don't get called out at night (pipe-dream, we ALWAYS get called out at night). By the end of this week I could totally tell I was at a rest deficit. I truly could not seem to function and ended up sleeping in very late, taking a long afternoon nap, AND going to bed early. I will be adjusting my workout schedule to include some off-duty rest days from now on. 

TRI NorthWest Rankings
It wasn't all bad last week, well, really, this week wasn't bad, it was just hard. Being new to this sport I don't know about everything that happens, and one of those things this week was the TRI NorthWest Final Rankings for 2011. Turns out, I ended up being ranked #8 overall in Open Women Sprint Distance category and #1 in Athena 39 and Younger Sprint Distance--Wow! Just in time, I guess, I really needed the inspiration and boost this week!

So, remember, it's supposed to be hard...but the end result will be so sweet!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pain in the...Park and Other Places!

Portland Triathlon Club's Pain in the Park
Wow, what a week! Actually, almost two weeks since my last post. Been very busy training, having moved into Base 1 of my Half Ironman training. Granted, I'll move back into a preparation phase again in January when the Half Ironman training plan for the Portland Triathlon Club Race Team comes out, but it keeps me motivated and training for now and I can already see gains in my performance, especially swimming. Here are the goals for Base 1 from

Racing Prep: Begin doing your some of your workouts on terrain which simulates race day.

Training: Here in Base 1, we'll be increasing hours a bit while keeping consistency. We will add 1 hard workout per week-1 workout, not 1 hard day. We will also begin sport-specific strength work by incorporating hills on the bike and run.

Physical Health:
Imagine showing up for a 10k race in peak fitness. Then imagine having to put on a 20lb backpack at the start line to carry to the finish. I want you to get the most on race day from all the training hours you put in. Running fast is helped greatly by having a high strength-to-weight ratio. You don't need to be in peak form at this point in the season, but begin to monitor weight and body fat % for later comparison and take a look at your diet for areas to improve-nothing drastic, just little changes at a time with continuous improvement over the entire training period.

Include with your training log a 1-10 scale for daily nutrition with 1 being a weekend in Vegas and a 10 being a nutritional angel. Rank yourself and monitor areas to improve. Most of us know what is good and bad eating so self seed yourself on this one.

Search out sports nutritional information to read during this period. There's a lot of good stuff out there. Email me if you need some good links.

Mental Health: Day after day it's tough to do all the workouts solo so try to find someone to join you for some of the sessions. A masters group once a week is good (this will be your 1 hard session!), but keep the rest easy. Talk to people in your area in person or via the net to find new routes and training partners.

Efficiency: Aero positioning and power output on the bike oppose each other. Ride lower and your power output will suffer. Begin working this month on flexibility of your back and legs. Come race day, your goal is to be as thin to the wind as possible, for as long as possible without suffering power output. Flexibility is free speed.
Winter Motivation Training
The Portland Triathlon Club started participating in the Winter Motivation Challenge with the USA Triathlon organization December 1. From now until February 29, 2012, those of us who have chosen to participate are submitting weekly mileage, competing against clubs of similar sizes throughout the country. We are also offering prizes for the club members who get the most training done at club workouts. It coincides well with my ramped up training schedule! My mileage since Dec. 1 was:
swim: 5.4 mi
bike: 87.5 mi
run: 20.7 mi
Plus, I worked out at five PTC training events too. Great motivation!

Pain in the Park
One of the PTC workouts I did this week was Pain in the Park. Abbey and Carolyn lead a weekly Boot Camp style workout at various parks in the Portland Metro area through the winter months. This last week was held at Portland's Waterfront Park and was just a ball! After a stretching session, we jogged across the Hawthorne bridge and down to the Eastbank Esplanade where we did intervals of different styles of pushups and hill repeats up one of the ramps; back over the Hawthorne Bridge doing Fartlek run in leap-frog fashion; three sets of a five-station conditioning workout, 45 seconds at each station; a rousing game of Duck-Duck-Goose with abdominal workout if you were tagged "Duck"; and cool down with abdominal workout. Below is a little video of our Duck-Duck-Goose game!

Strength and Conditioning Clinic
Jeff Smith, one of the triathlon coaches from Upper Echelon Fitness, PTC sponsor, put on a Strength and Conditioning Clinic this weekend. Silly me, I thought when I signed up that it was a classroom-style clinic...but no, it was a workout clinic! It wouldn't have been a problem other than I was super sore from Pain in the Park and had a half marathon scheduled for the next day! Oh well, I signed up for endurance racing, didn't I?

The clinic was great! We got a ton of information and I have a lot of working out to do... Jeff's program is a three part strength and conditioning series made up of Base, Preparation, and Performance periods. The Base and Preparation periods are six weeks long and performance is 12-16 weeks during your racing season. During Base, you do Upper Body, Lower Body, and Core workouts, one of each once a week. Prep has Upper and Lower Body each once a week and Core workouts twice a week. Performance has Core and Upper Body one to two times a week and Lower Body once a week. Each period builds on the previous, becoming more dynamic as you progress. We worked on the specific exercises during the clinic, and I tried to keep my reps down as not to work my lower body and abs too much with my race the next day.

Ironman Kona Spin Party
So, I'll be adding Strength and Conditioning Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to my now normal five to six day swim-bike-run schedule. Jeff assured us that the soreness will taper off after the first two weeks...sigh...

And then right after the clinic we had a club spin while we watched Ironman Kona. I really didn't want to walk out on my buddy Zach's Kona Party since I was at UEF already, so...I spun for an hour and figured it was definitely time to take a break. I mean, com'on, I needed to taper sometime!

Holiday Half Marathon
And if all that wasn't enough, I had a half marathon today! I knew it wasn't going to be my best run, but I was really looking forward to seeing how I performed with three workouts the day prior and no taper. I learned so much and I'm really not disappointed at all with my performance. My abs were pretty sore in the morning and my quads and glutes a little achy. I stretched in the morning before I left the house at 6AM.

The race is an out and back on the Bluff, basically miles 17 through 22 of the Portland Marathon course that I did in October. It's flat and familiar.

My first 8.5 miles went fantastic, way better than I expected. I averaged a 9:30 pace and felt so good. I only walked at the water stations which were spaced every two miles. After the turn though, both butt cheeks contracted and turned into bricks! They didn't hurt, but they just kind of seized up. I didn't feel tired otherwise, had great energy, wasn't short of breath, no aches anywhere, just lost a lot of range of motion. I really didn't want to push and cause cramps or tears and I really, really didn't want to push and cramp up my hamstrings, so I walk/ran the rest of the way in, which turned into mostly walk toward the last two miles. Oddly enough, I was only 9 minutes away from my PR, which blew my mind! It was a great learning experience for me to see what I was capable of doing when tired and sore. I really had not tested myself this way before and it taught me a lot about where I am in my Half Ironman training. I think I'm in good shape so far; I've got over 200 days of training before Vineman 70.3 and I know what I can do right now when fatigued. Mentally, this was a great thing for me, something I can carry with me and I'm very glad I did it. I did ice bath when I got home later in the afternoon, something I felt was critical. Brrrr, that was way colder than I remember it being in the summer and fall!

That's it for this week. Whew, that was a lot! Not too much going on for the next couple of weeks. Haven't decided yet which New Year's event I want to do, one at midnight or one later in the day on the 1st...or both, who knows! Either way, I'll blog again in a week or so. Have a great week!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Climbing Against Cancer

Dad, Dick Thompson, and Grandma Grace
Well I'm challenging my limits again...I signed up for the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb, March 11, 2012. The Stairclimb is a timed event that takes place in Seattle, Washington at the Columbia Center, and involves climbing 788 feet, 69 flights of stairs, 1,311 steps in full fire gear and SCBA. I know I can do it, it's just a lot of work!

The Stairclimb is not just another event for me, it is a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to raise money for research and support of patients and their families battling blood cancers. As I posted in January (Why I'm Vegan), blood cancer has touched and changed my life, as both my father and grandmother died from hematological malignancies.

Eric with Dad's picture on front of his helmet
My cousin, Eric Adman, a Firefighter Paramedic with Shoreline (WA) Fire outside of Seattle, did the Stairclimb in 2008, in a smokin' fast 18 minutes!!!, in honor of my dad who had just passed away from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I have always had such respect for Eric for doing that for my dad, and hoped to do the Stairclimb someday as well, as a thank you to Eric and as a memorial to Dad and Grandma Grace.

Please visit my personal page at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to learn more. I am hoping to raise at least $1,000 to donate to the LLS in memory of Dad and Grandma. All donations are tax-deductible and so appreciated.

Winter Wonderland
I did a new event last weekend, the Winter Wonderland 10K held at Portland International Raceway. It was so fantastic and will now be an annual holiday event for me (and hopefully some more friends and family too!). The run takes place at night on the racetrack which has been decorated with lighted displays for the holiday season. You have a choice of a 2, 4, or 6 mile (10K) walk/run which is the equivalent to 1, 2, or 3 laps around the track. I dressed up in my Ms. Santa Claus costume for the occasion! I don't have pictures of the displays since I was running, but here is a link for them from the Winter Wonderland website:

I am actually impressed with my time, I averaged a 9:40/mile, which is very fast for me, considering I couldn't see the pavement at all so was running a little guarded. I missed the water station at the end of the first lap, because, like a total ham, I was busy waving to my friends Chris and DeAnna who came to cheer me on and posed for pictures while running past. But I grabbed water after mile 4, which I needed as my costume was getting hot!

The Holiday Half Marathon is in two weeks, hopefully the weather will be as terrific as it was for Winter Wonderland. Haven't decided whether or not I'm wearing the Ms. Santa Claus costume or not...I probably will, who am I kidding!

So stay tuned for more reports as my Half Ironman training continues. Oh! I signed up for the Portland Triathlon Club Race Team...I'll have a blog soon all about that.

Thanks, as always, for your support and encouragement. And thank you for any donation you can make to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of my Dad and Grandmother for my upcoming stairclimb--it is much appreciated!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

You're Kinda A Triathlon Nerd...

Triathlon Nerd

I got the best compliment today...someone told me while I was in the pool and they were leaving Portland Triathlon Club Saturday Swim Practice..."You're kinda a triathlon nerd!" So true, I am! Triathlon nerd is awesome--who wudda thought a year ago I'd be considered a triathlon nerd!

Half Ironman Training Week 2
I've been very diligent about my workouts this week, no skipping! I've incorporated some Portland Triathlon club runs and the Saturday Swim Training at Parkrose High School.

This weeks totals:
Running: 14.42 miles
Swimming: 4.0 miles
Cycling: 49.14 miles

8 hours 48 minutes total
2,045 Calories burned
Here are the goals of my training plan so far, and for the next two weeks:
Racing Prep: No racing planned for this period, but since you've probably identified your key half IM race, take a look at the course, predicted weather, swim conditions, articles on last year's race. Compare all these race components with your own strengths and weaknesses. Use online bulletin boards to get course tips from previous competitors. Know thy course.

This period is "preparing to train"--building base endurance through work and recovery. We'll keep the same number of hours throughout the period and approximately the same schedule. The goal is consistency and getting the body warmed up for the longer periods ahead.

Physical Health: Starting a structured program is probably going to leave you needing a bit more sleep than you're used to getting. Water too. Don't skimp on either. Take full advantage of rest days.

Mental Health: Try to get in outdoor workouts in the best and worst weather possible. The more cold, wet, windy, and sweltering conditions you experience while training will carry over to much higher confidence come race day. You can't prepare much physically on race morning, so confidence and motivation reign supreme.

Efficiency: Form, form, form. If your swim stroke needs work (that's all of us), find ways to improve technique in these early weeks-hire a local coach to video and give feedback, take lessons, read, watch videos. Form, form, and form are the keys to swimming fast.
That's all for this week's posting. Hopefully I'll have something more interesting than just my training update next week...

Have a safe week!

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Juice!

Pink Greyhound
During the Hood to Coast last August, we had a great discussion in our van about vegan nutrition as several vanmates were curious about what I was eating and why I became vegan. We got onto the topic of sports nutrition and I said, "I've been juicing and it works great for me!" to which one woman asked, "Where to do get it?" and I replied, "Well I make it fresh at home." I thought, hmmm, kind of a strange question, of course I make it fresh at home...and then I realized what she thought I meant! I'm juiced up on fresh fruits and veggies, not steroids!!!

How I got Started into Juicing
I was thinking about adding fresh juice to my diet when a nutritionist friend of mine asked last spring if I would be interested in doing a cleanse with her, which included juice fasting. I thought it would be a great idea for me to do the cleanse to flush out all the accumulated waste in my system from my previous animal/refined grain diet after switching to a plant/whole grain-based diet. 

I had an intensive triathlon clinic scheduled in the middle of the juice fast phase of the cleanse, and I was pretty nervous about having enough nutrition for the full 8-hour clinic, which included pool, bike, and track workouts. I made eight quarts of juice, packed in a cooler, and decided to do the clinic, drinking juice instead of eating the food provided at the clinic. I found that I did great on the juice! I had no heaviness in my stomach, had abundant energy, and also felt well-hydrated. It's now become my staple nutrition on race day.

Why Juice?
Most of us do not get enough fresh fruits and vegetables in our diets, leading to deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and phytonutrients vital in boosting the immune system, helping the body fight against developing fatigue, ailments and disease. Juicing fruits and vegetables separates the nutrients from the fiber, allowing your body to quickly absorb those nutrients, which would otherwise take several hours to go through the digestive process to be absorbed. Fiber is great, it is important, and adding juice to your diet does not mean forgoing eating whole fruits and vegetables, but it is a nutritional boost, and a great way to get vital nutrients into your system quickly.

My Favorite Juices
My race day nutrition for a sprint distance triathlon now includes 32 oz. carrot/red cabbage juice (Carrothead recipe below) and 16 oz. carrot/green bean juice (Beany Bunny recipe below) about 3 hours prior to the event, along with 4 oz. of Energy Pudding (Brendan Brazier recipe which I'll post in another nutrition blog) 1.5 hours prior. I also have 32 ounces of coconut water (I buy Vita Coco or O.N.E.) for electrolyte preload the night before, and 8 oz. more along with water prior to the race in the morning.

This first section are my daily go-to morning juices. I also have them in the afternoon, but they are my staple breakfast everyday. Please take a look at my blog post on organic fruits and vegetables on why I specify certain fruits and vegetables be organic:

Green Juice
Kris Carr, Crazy Sexy Cancer.

2 large cucumbers (peeled if not organic)
big fistful of kale
big fistful of sweet pea sprouts or romaine lettuce
4-5 stalks organic celery
1–2 big broccoli stems (Yes! A way to use those stems!)
1 pear or organic green apple
1-inch piece of ginger, or less, depending on your taste

Green Greyhound (my current favorite!)
Sarah Matheny, Peas and Thankyou.

3 organic kale leaves
3 organic celery stalks
1 cucumber (peeled if not organic)
1 organic apple
1 grapefruit, peeled

Green Lemonade
Natalia Rose, The Raw Food Detox Diet.

1 head romaine lettuce or organic celery (I prefer lettuce)
5-6 stalks kale
1-2 organic apples
1 whole organic lemon, unpeeled
1-inch piece of ginger, or less, depending on your taste

These are my go-to pre-race/pre-workout juices:


6 organic carrots
1/4 head of cabbage (red is my favorite)

Beany Bunny - So surprisingly sweet, like candy!
4 organic carrots
Handful of fresh green beans
1/2 organic cucumber

These are some of my favorite kick back juices.

Watermelonade - An amazingly refreshing summer drink!
1 organic lemon
1/2 watermelon, rind, peel, and all! Not kidding! Full of beneficial chlorophyll.
Handful of fresh mint

Orange Creamsicle - Who knew you could juice a raw sweet potato? But this is soooo good!
4 stalks organic celery
1 sweet potato, peeled
1-inch piece of ginger
4 oranges, peeled

Red Juice - Note, if your stomach is low on hydrochloric acid, you might pee pink afterward...
2 organic carrots
3 medium beets, peeled
4 oranges, peeled

What Juicer do I Use?
I purchased the Breville BJE200XL 700-Watt Compact Juice Fountain through Amazon after watching Kris Carr's demo on Crazy, Sexy Cancer and seeing just how easy it was to clean and that it was reasonably priced, since I was new to juicing. I had a juicer years ago, one someone had given me, but it was horribly difficult to clean and made such a mess when I used it that I gave it to Goodwill! The Breville is a centrifugal juicer, in that fruits/vegetables hit a high speed spinning grater and then the juice passes through a fine sieve through centrifugal force, separating it from the pulp. It does a great job, was inexpensive, is very easy to clean, and doesn't make a mess. However, centrifugal juicers do not juice wheatgrass or other herbs, and now that I know I really like juicing, I may switch to a masticating or auger juicer, which are more expensive but do a better job.

There are tons and tons of different juicing combinations. These are the ones I enjoy, but I do experiment with other fruits and vegetables and find great new combinations all the time. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

38 Weeks--It's Like a Baby!

Ok, so it's going to be another bucket list smashing year! I signed up for Vineman Ironman 70.3 yesterday, yes, that's a half-Ironman, my first. Registration started at 0900 PST, sharp, and I was registered by 0901--good thing I got on as soon as registration opened, as the event sold out in THREE hours! So, July 15, 2012 is circled in big red marker.

38 Weeks and Counting
Vineman in July gives me 38 weeks to prepare--my Half-Ironman Gestation Program!! We won't have the Portland Triathlon Club training plans for several more weeks and I wanted to start my training now, so am starting with the Half-Ironman plan from This will give me a great start for when the PTC plan comes out. So far it has been a vigorous workout week, and this is just the prep. The first day was a total of 1.6 mile lap swimming. This time last year, I couldn't even swim a full lap--what an improvement!

2012 Portland Triathlon Club Board
This weekend marks the first  of the Saturday PTC coached training swims at Parkrose High School in Portland. It's a 28 week program, $85 for full program or $5 drop-in for members ($100 for series and $10 drop-in for non-members). I'm really looking forward to this! Check out the website or Facebook page for more information on signing up.

Portland Triathlon Club 2012 Board
I think I forgot to mention that we elected a new board for 2012. I'm very excited to be working on the board as Membership Chair! The Board is full of great people with great energy and we're looking forward to a fantastic year with lots of great events. We're working on a new and improved website, more workout and social events, and will have details on the 2012 race team coming out in the next couple of weeks.

That's it for this week's installment. I should have another vegan nutrition post soon, been eluding to it all summer and now that things have slowed down race-wise, I have more time to devote to it.

Have a great week!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gearin' Up for Twenty Twelve!

I can't believe it, but it's time to make my 2012 Race Calendar already! Woo Hoo! It's gonna ROCK!

This is the bare bones, subject to change, well some of the smaller events, that is.

26          Winter Wonderland 10K, Portland International Raceway

   11          Holiday Half, Adidas, Portland, OR

31          First Run 5K, Portland, OR

1          Resolution Run 5K, Portland, OR

18          Shamrock Run 15K, Portland, OR

7          Beaver Freezer Sprint Triathlon, Corvallis, OR 
5          Ride Around Clark County, Vancouver, WA 
TBA          Portland Triathlon Club Mock Olympic Tri, Vancouver Lake, Vancouver, WA

17          Vancouver (USA) Marathon, Vancouver, WA

  TBA      Blue Lake Olympic Triathlon, Blue Lake, Fairview, OR

15          Vineman 70.3 Half Ironman, Sonoma County, CA 
  21-22?          Scenic Shore 150 Bike Tour, Brookfield, WI         
Would love to do with the Badgercast People! TBA
TBA          Portland Olympic Triathlon, Portland, OR

TBA          Stumptown 70.3 Long Course Triathlon, Blue Lake, Fairview, OR

7          Portland Marathon, Portland, OR

Pretty aggressive calendar, an event every month, but in a way, better than this year where I had 3-4 events a month. Will probably end up that way as the year progresses, especially in the summer months.

What's notable? My first 70.3 Half Ironman events! Two marathons! Maybe the Scenic Shore Bike Ride in Wisconsin with Badgercast! What's missing?  Sadly, Hood  to Coast in August (we missed the entry deadline for the first time in 15 years!!) unless I find a team that needs a new member; Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, same time as Vineman 70.3; Rev3 70.3, same time as Vineman 70.3.

So, let's hit it. 38 weeks to my first Half Ironman! Bring it (sorry, Tony Horton)!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What a Year!

Never Limit Your Challenges...Challenge Your Limits
A Reflection...

Last week as I finally worked on decorating the walls in my training room, listening to the broadcast of Ironman Kona streaming live on my computer, I came to realize what an amazing, transformational year this was for me. And interestingly, for some reason, I had thought the events of this year had spanned two years, and it was so surprising to me that I felt it was important to reflect on it.

I had dabbled in running and biking in years past, having done a couple 5Ks and even a half-marathon, which I was woefully unprepared for, ridden my road bike with the Vancouver Bicycle Club and in the Providence Bridge Pedal, but I was not really a runner and was a very recreational cyclist. As I blogged earlier this year, I changed to a vegan diet April 2010, had lost some weight and gained energy, and after a major life event several months later, started to run for exercise and stress relief.

Muddy Buddy, October 2010
October 2010, on a lark, a friend and I decided to do the Muddy Buddy adventure race, a 10K two-person relay race completed in costume and included mountain biking, obstacles, and running. I wasn't fast, I walked parts of my 5K run, but I had a ball! At the end I realized that I had actually done two-thirds of a triathlon, and that if I could figure out how to train for the swim, I could someday actually do one. I continued to run, rode as much as I could with the Vancouver Bike Club, and kept thinking about triathlon.

By December, I was sure, well, more certain. I had no clue how to proceed. I Googled "triathlon Portland" and discovered the Portland Triathlon Club. I bought a book a friend had loaned me years ago, Slow, Fat Triathlete: Live your Athletic Dreams in the Body You Have Now, and got inspired and some advice on how to start. I just didn't know anyone who did triathlons. I ended up posting on the Google Group for the tri club looking for another Vancouver area triathlete willing to work with a "newbie" and met Christine, who gave me some guidance and encouragement, someone to bounce questions off of and do some training with. And I started to blog, for me, an open journal that I thought would keep me honest and motivated knowing that friends and family would see lack of effort if I didn't keep it up.

My progress is tracked in my blog, so I won't repeat every detail. But fast forward to today, 45 pounds lighter, leaner, down from a size 18 (gah!) to a size 10, and more energetic than ever! I discovered a picture of me that Julie (Donttickleme) of the Badger Cast Podcast had posted when they made their trip here from Wisconsin last year; I untagged myself in Facebook because I was so embarrassed how I looked, but then I thought I'd share it as the change is pretty startling!

Back in April 2010 there was no way I would have thought I could run a marathon. I was the heaviest I had ever been in my whole life and other than just starting to change my diet, was pretty complacent about my fitness. I wasn't really happy about my situation, but pretty resigned to it--I think that's easy to do when you're overweight. Now, I am happy all the time! I turned 39 last year, and I have to say, it was the best year of my life, hands down! I truly believe there is a direct link between fitness/health and happiness. I'm thinking 40 is really going to rock!

Bib Wall for this year
Running Events
* indicates Bucket List item completed
  • 15K Shamrock Run
  • 10K Bridges to Brews
  • 21K Vancouver Half Marathon
  • 5K Pineapple Classic
  • Hood to Coast Relay*
  • 42K Portland Marathon*

I ran just under 500 miles this year. I don't have the exact number as I didn't track my mileage before I had my Garmin. While that is quite a bit of running, I do need to increase my mileage for next year. I also need to pay more attention to the timing of events so I can best prepare. I had difficulty getting my long runs done for my Portland Marathon prep because I was always in a taper for a triathlon or cycling/running event. I am planning on completing the Vancouver (full) Marathon June 2012.

Bike Jersey Wall
Cycling Events
* indicates Bucket List item completed! 
  • 66 mile Ride Around Clark County
  • 200 mile Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic*

I cycled over 800 miles this year. Again, don't have mileage prior to the Garmin. I'd like to do more cycling events this next year. I was really focused on improving my running and swimming, so didn't work so much on cycling. I am thinking about investing in a tri bike and also planning on being a spectator at some cyclocross events to see what that's all about. I would need to get a bike for cyclocross too.

* indicates Bucket List item completed! 
  • Mock Sprint Tri*
  • Blue Lake Sprint Triathlon*
  • Midsummer Sprint Triathlon (1st place in Age Group)
  • Portland Sprint Triathlon (3rd place in Age Group)
  • Stumptown Sprint Triathlon (2nd place in Age Group)

Wow is all I can say! Was a dream come true to do triathlons! I actually had four more scheduled, but two were canceled (Hagg Lake Iron Girl Sprint Tri and the Two Rivers Sprint Triathlon in Woodland, WA) and I didn't compete in two (Girlfriends and Dudes Sprint Tri in Vancouver due to ulnar neuropathy, and Lake Tahoe Iron Girl Sprint Tri in California due to scheduling conflicts).

Most Apocalypse Ready Triathlete
The Portland Triathlon Club was a really important part of my success this year. Club meetings, presentations, training events, support, and friendships helped me beyond description.  

We recently had our 2011 banquet where I was awarded the Most Apocalypse Ready Triathlete! Apparently the story of showing up to my bike fitting at Upper Echelon Fitness with my big bike bags full of first aid supplies and bike tools got around. Proof of the encouragement and attention this group has for each other.

What's Next?

Because I wanted to pay back all the Portland Triathlon Club has given me, I have decided to take a more active role in the club. This year I will be serving as a board member and Chair of the Membership Committee, something I am completely psyched about! I am so looking forward to meeting new members, doing outreach at athletic events, and being even more involved with training and other club events.

I'm challenging my limits once again...I will be signing up for the Vineman 70.3 Half-Ironman, held July 15, 2012 in Windsor, California! I have heard great things about this event and am looking forward to the work that will be required to get myself ready! Other than that, I will be scheduling running events, such as the Vancouver Marathon, probably the Shamrock Run again, helping with the Mock Tri, and definitely at least one of the Blue Lake triathlons since I have been given a complimentary registration for completing all three Blue Lake triathlons last year. I'm sure there will be more cycling events and would really like to do Cycle Oregon, perhaps 2012 will be the year. I'd also like to add swimming events, like the Hagg Lake Swim or the Columbia River Cross Channel Swim.

I want to give a special thank you to my family for their encouragement and support this year, especially Mother Superior, who came to nearly all of my triathlons, getting up at the crack of dawn, schlepping my gear, waiting around for official results, and listening to my chatter about bike components, chaffing, gel, and other triathlon-related nonsense! I really recommend getting the book Trizophrenia: Inside the Minds of a Triathlete by Jef Mallett for your family and friends affected by your obsession with triathlon...I know Mom got a big kick out of it!

Alright, so it's on to Season 2! Thank you all for your support. I really do appreciate the feedback on the blog and all of your comments and encouragement through email, Facebook, Twitter, and texts. I'm not sure I've told you all how much that helps. Thanks for the MOJO and best wishes to you all on your personal journeys!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Portland Marathon Race Report

Finisher's Schwag from Portland Marathon!

I am a Marathoner!

Wow! What an experience! I ran my first marathon. I feel so fortunate to have been able to do that, something that, quite frankly, a couple of years ago I wouldn't have thought I could ever do. Not sure it was even on my bucket list. But thanks to my training partner, Christine, who signed up for it, and the principle of cosmic signs (this being the 40th anniversary of the Portland Marathon, two weeks after my 40th birthday, and held on my mother's birthday), I signed up!

The Course

The course is very nice, a couple of hills (elevation profile below. What was neat for me, was that I had either run or cycled every bit of this course at some point, so it was familiar to me. This course included bits of the Providence Bridge Pedal, Seattle to Portland Ride, Shamrock Run, Portland Triathlon, Run Like Hell, and Hood to Coast Run, and it was really fun for me to reminisce about each of those events as I ran this course.

Route Summary Notated on the Finisher's Shirt

It was neat to hear folks from out of the area running this course, because it is so scenic. I was running next to someone from out of town at the beginning and I really enjoyed hearing him praise Portland when we entered China Town through the Chinese Gate.

I haven't run other marathons, but the other thing that is so wonderful about this event is all the music along the way. Every couple of miles was a group, steel drums, marimbas, singers, drummers, bagpipers, etc. I wish I had pictures! They were on overpasses, on lift cranes, alongside the roadway. My favorite was the Asian drum group in Chinatown.

There were a couple of hills on the course, the most noticeable to me was at mile 17, which is the approach to the St. John's Bridge. I actually don't really remember the hill before mile 5!

My Portland Marathon Experience

Happy Girls with Race Bibs
Christine and I went to the Expo at the Portland Hilton to pick up our bibs and timing chips. It was soooo crowded. We really didn't go through much of the Expo since there were so many people, and, I just really wanted to spend the day before the race resting.

The unfortunate part, was that Christine was not feeling well at all. She didn't feel any better by late that evening and was running a slight fever and ended up having to withdraw from the event. Really a bummer for her after raising so much money for the American Cancer Society AND the impetus for me signing up for the marathon!

With Zach, heading to the starting line!

I headed into town about 5:20 AM from my house and found a great parking spot in a parking garage at 1st and Jefferson. The hardest part of the whole thing was finding the bag check! The map on the back of the bib showed bag check at 3rd and Salmon, but that was only for the B wave; bag check for my wave, F, was at 2nd and Taylor, so, a little confusion for me to start with.

Weather was perfect, overcast, 55 degrees. I had made a garbage bag poncho to wear while waiting, expecting rain, but I didn't need it and ended up disposing of it in the garbage at the start.

With 12,000 runners and walkers, you wouldn't think I'd run into someone I knew, but I did! One of our new Portland Triathlon Club members, Zach Goodman, was lined up in my wave about 25 feet away. It was really nice to have a familiar face!

So, about 10 minutes to start and I have to go to the bathroom...gah! I should have gone. I was worried I didn't have enough time to do it, but, our wave started about 10 minutes after the first wave, and the time is based on your timing chip, so it wouldn't have been a big deal if I was late. Lesson learned. I figured that I'd stop at the first aid station, but when we got there at mile 2, there was a huge line, so I passed it up. By that time, nature took care of having to pee (sorry, this might be TMI for some) and I didn't have the urge for the other function anymore.

My first half was FANTASTIC! I really, really enjoyed this part. I felt great. I watched my pace and made sure I slowed down when I was hitting 9:00 miles. I tried to stay at 10:00 mile so I wouldn't wear myself out. My goal pace for the race was 10:30. I saw Portland Triathlon Club member Sherrie Austin, who was doing the half-marathon, around mile 10 after then turnaround on Front Avenue, and Zach Goodman at mile 15, who was looking strong!

The plan was to run without walking until mile 17, which is the hill up to the St. John's Bridge. However, at mile 15.5...I REALLY needed to go to the bathroom. I've never had GI issues on a run before, but experienced it this race. I had just passed an aid station and knew there'd be something ahead, and fortunately found a lone portapotty at mile 16. Another lesson learned...a one piece triathlon suit may not be the best thing to wear during a marathon. It took about 7 minutes to use the bathroom since I had to completely undress to do it.

It started to drizzle at mile 15.5 as well. But it felt good. I walked up the bridge approach and then ran the St. John's Bridge. At this point, my legs felt very heavy. I switched to a run 0.75 mile and walk 0.25 mile regimen. I adjusted this for hills (ran downhills to take advantage of faster pace time) and aid stations (walked 0.25 miles from start of aid station). Rain stopped about mile 17.5.

For nutrition I had made my own gel from dates, coconut nectar, lemon juice and zest, and salt, and carried a 5 oz flask of it with me. My first gel was at aid station around mile 6 and then every few miles after that at aid stations so I could follow the gel with water. It worked great for me. I did do a vegan cheat and had some gummy bears at about mile 18, and think I will carry vegan fruit chews with me in future long events because it was really nice to have something to chew.

Mile 19...I need a portapotty AGAIN! Oh no! Found one shortly, and another 7 minute delay.

Mile 20 I saw Becky and James Hillary from the Portland Triathlon Club and gave them both big sweaty hugs! I remember James asking me if I was having fun and I shouted a resounding, "Yes!!"

By mile 22, I was GIDDY! I don't know why, but I couldn't stop smiling! I was surprised at how emotional I was during this event. I cried at the beginning, at the beginning of the Bluff, on the Broadway Bridge, and at the end! Mile 23, with 3 miles to go, I was tired. I told myself that this was nothing different than starting the run at the end of a sprint triathlon, just pretend that you just got off the bike and you only have three miles to run to the finish...that kinda helped.

Broadway Bridge, 23.5 miles...I saw my dad. Well, my dad died February 2008. In the middle of the bridge, all alone in the oncoming lane was a spectator who looked EXACTLY like my dad. I was worried that I was hallucinating and asked the person running next to me if she could see that man standing there, and she did. It was a very startling thing, and it made me start to cry again. I do an internal shout-out to my dad at the start of every event, and I know he's with me when I race. I really had to talk myself out of hyperventilating and crying at this point and be thankful for an amazing coincidence to help me to the end of the race.

The last two miles were a blur. I walked/ran them. I really had to be in my head to get it done. The crowd lining the course was wonderful, shouting my name and cheering as I approached. Turned two corners off of Naito and there it was, the finish line! I had pulled my earphones out so I could hear them announce my name, Cindy Thompson, a Portland Marathon finisher! Arms in the air for the photo finish!

My official marathon time is 05:04:30. I was shooting for a 5 hour marathon, so I think that's pretty good! Removing my bathroom breaks, with all the undressing and redressing time, would take me down to a 4:54:53. So, for next time, I will wear running shorts instead of the trisuit, and will go to the bathroom RIGHT before the start.

With my medal and rose!

I felt pretty good all in all. My feet and ankles were achy at the end. I grabbed some food, picked up my coin, pendant, baby Douglas fir tree to plant, and had my official finisher photo taken, then headed to my car. Once home, it was straight to an ice bath, a warm bath, and a vegan veggie pizza for a treat! I iced my right ankle, which was the most sore, did some foam rolling and stretching before bed. I used a heating pad on my thighs and hip flexors while I slept.

This morning, the right ankle is a little sore and thighs are sore. I have three blisters on my right foot, on big and second toe where they rub together, and on the pad of the 4th toe. Like I suspected last week, my right running shoe wore out. I really didn't think it was a good idea to wear new shoes on my first marathon, so I paid a bit of a price with my right foot. Not sure how my foot would have fared with wearing a new shoe. I have a sports massage this afternoon and am really looking forward to that.

Thank you for everyone for your support and cheering and inspiration! It has been a fantastic year for me. I will be posting a year-end reflection in a couple of days. Hard to believe it has only been a year since I started this adventure!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stumptown Triathlon Race Report

Running back in for T2 after bike course
I completed my final triathlon for this season September 4, the Stumptown Triathlon, at Blue Lake in Fairview, Oregon. This was the exact same course as the second tri I did, Blue Lake Triathlon, so it was a great way to finish and compare. I PR'd this course and placed second in my division.

Stumptown Triathlon, September 4, 2011, Blue Lake Park, Fairview, Oregon - 1:35:12 (-00:03:31)
It's a good thing I wasn't graded on use of technology, though, because I failed miserably in that! There is NO Garmin data for this tri because, 1. I didn't start "multi-sport" correctly at the beginning, so the Garmin didn't start recording, 2. Running to T1 is a poor time to try to troubleshoot why a Garmin isn't recording, and 3. The Garmin Quick-Release Mount is a poor handle for running into T2....the Garmin WILL fall off the bike without you realizing! DOH! Fortunately, I can do a triathlon without a Garmin! Lessons learned!

My comparison times are from Blue Lake Triathlon in June, as it is the same exact course.

The Swim - 0.5 miles, 00:19:34 (-00:01:16)

The swim went fine, but I didn't feel as efficient as I did during the Portland Triathlon two weeks prior. I seemed to be in the thick of swimmers all the way to the first turn buoy and there were a lot of folks doing backstroke from the start, so it was very congested. After I made the turn, the sun was glaring on the water, making it impossible to see the next buoy. I did notice that the rest of the swimmers were about 75 yards south of me, nearly at the buoys marking the Olympic distance swim. I stayed my course, as this was my third sprint swim here and I knew where the buoy should be. After a few minutes I spotted the buoy, was on course, and was able to sight my course off of distant treeline. The sun glare recurred with the next buoy, but again was able to spot it and re-sight in a few minutes.

I swam sleeveless again this swim, like I did in the Willamette. For some reason, though, I felt as I was being pushed with a current from my left. I don't think there should be a current in Fairview Lake! I don't really know what was going on with my swim. Knew my time was off. I was 0:01:57 slower on this swim from my Portland Triathlon swim.

T1 - 00:03:49 (-00:00:10)
While running up toward transition, I saw that my Garmin was not recording and still on the "Select Multi-Sport" screen. I futzed around with it, hitting "start", "lap", trying to get it to start and then gave up until I got on the bike. On the bike I realized I didn't hit "enter" to select multi-sport and got the Garmin recording for the bike course.

Bike - 12 miles, 00:39:45 (-00:03:22)
The bike portion felt great! In fact, my average speed was 18.2 mph, which is the fastest I've done on flat during a triathlon yet. We'd had a strong east wind the day before, so I was expecting wind at my back on the way out, but turns out there was a slight west breeze, so the last half was faster than the first.

T2 - 00:02:08 (-0:00:34) 

Note hand location
As I mentioned, after dismounting the bike, I ran back into transition holding my front stem. I've never done that before, I usually grab the saddle and steer in that way, I don't know why I did that. I remember my hand on my Garmin and waving to my friend, Cindi, but when I got to transition my Garmin was gone. I don't remember anything from this transition, seriously, gone! On the drive home, I looked at my running shoes on my feet and thought, "I don't remember putting my running shoes on!" I was so distracted by losing my Garmin that I went though T2 on autopilot.  

Coming out of T2 I saw Cindi and asked her to look for my Garmin in the corridor from bike to transition. Nothing more I could do at that point.

Run - 3.1 miles (5K) 00:29:55 (-00:00:34) 
The was my best sprint tri run of all my triathlons this season. Maybe it was not having my Garmin? I ended up with a 9:38 min/mile pace, only walked a couple steps during the two water stations, ran every bit. I didn't feel fast, but I felt consistent.

Medal Ceremony with First Place finisher

So, I think a pretty great finish to my first triathlon season! It has been a blast, so much fun, such a great experience, better than I even imagined. Lots of lessons learned, especially on this race!

And a super special thank you to my friend, Cindi Morrow, my running inspiration, for coming out to cheer me on and taking photos. And, ESPECIALLY, for finding my Garmin, needle in the haystack...YOU ROCK! Cindi, I'm bringing you over to the dark side of know you want to! :o)