Race Expectations: Luray Swim Fest 2018

Technically Luray Swim Fest is billed as a race, but I'm treating it like a super fun training day, with a medal at the end.  After an effort to ride bikes with Liz was thwarted by rain, she mentioned Luray Swim Fest.  I had originally been planning to do Washington's Crossing again this year, since I really enjoyed it in 2017, but the weather wasn't looking too promising.  Instead, I signed up for the 2250m event at Luray, and I'm really happy about that choice.  

 Me at Washington's crossing 2017, where you swim across the potomac river.  With bonus image of the elusive J in the bottom right corner!

Me at Washington's crossing 2017, where you swim across the potomac river.  With bonus image of the elusive J in the bottom right corner!

Goal setting is always really hard for me.  For some reason, I have these expectations in my head that I am significantly faster than I actually am, resulting in ridiculous goals that can't possibly be met.  Not so for this race!  I've barely been in the pool since Reston Tri back in September, and even since April I've only managed about one swim a week.  Expectations are low.  Still, I want to put things down on paper, so here we go: 

Be Calm 

I've only had one instance in open water where I panicked, but seeing as I have very little pool time in the last six months, and this being my first OWS of the season, I'm making it a goal to relax and be calm

Have Fun!

In addition to this being a bit of a girl's day out with friends, this event also has a Team Z presence.  I want to spend some time at the tent, and try to stop being such an outsider.

Goal Times – bringing back the Hogwarts O.W.L. system of scoring myself

  • Outstanding –  < :50
  • Exceeds Expectations – :56
  • Acceptable – 1:02
  • Poor -  > 1:02
  • Dreadful – DNF for nonmedical reasons
  • Troll – vomiting (or worse) in the water

I want to really swim, and finish strong.  I want to finish feeling good enough that I can run out of the lake and across the finish.  I've done some distances pretty similar to this before, but nothing exact.  So....automatic PR, I guess.  

Who else is swimming this weekend?

Milestones - my "first" 30 mile ride

Disclaimer: I wrote this post as a retrospective on my first 30 mile ride....only to realize after the fact that I actually rode 30 miles nonstop in August of 2016.  I even blogged about it.  Whoops!


Saturday’s 30-mile ride left me feeling conflicted.  It was a team ride, and my second time going to a Team Z ride this season.  We met in Harwood, Maryland, with people riding from between 17 and and 80 miles.

The good stuff:

30 clipped in miles! 

 Tipping over and getting bloody last summer, but it was okay because Stacey took awesome care of me.

Tipping over and getting bloody last summer, but it was okay because Stacey took awesome care of me.

I’ve never ridden a nonstop 30 miles while clipped in before.  The closest I’ve gotten was last summer when I rode with Stacey’s group ride, then she and I went out on the W&OD for a few more miles.  That was also the time I forgot to clip out, fell over, stood up, and almost passed out.  Interestingly, that incident was the start of my adventure with doctors, finally landing on the POTS diagnosis.  This ride on Saturday was much hillier than I was expecting.  I’ve never been a strong climber, and the decline in my strength and increase in my weight this past year has only made them harder.

 

I nailed my sodium

POTS means I have to take in a large amount of sodium so that my blood volume is high enough for me to remain conscious.  I tested out some Skratch Hyper Hydration before loading up the car.  It has 1700mg of sodium in a single serving, and it’s basically like drinking palatable saline.  I took on another 500mg of sodium during my 2.5 hour ride, and arrived back without any dizzy spells, and I wasn’t crusted over with salt like I usually am.

I hydrated on the go

This one is huge!  I’m anxious on the bike, often getting numb hands and neck pain because I have such a death grip on the handlebars.  Coach Ed suggested I switch over to a hydration pack rather than trying to reach for bottles.  Even grabbing for the straw made me nervous sometimes, but I managed it, and even got more confident as the ride went on.  I’ll definitely be wearing my pack at Rev3 Williamsburg next month.  Such a game changer until my balance improves.

The rough stuff:

I am agonizingly slow

I kept falling so far behind my group that I couldn’t see anyone, and my planned Z2 ride wound up being more of an extended Z4 effort.  It was kind of heartbreaking.  I’d finally catch up to my group at a stop sign, and I’d only have a moment to catch my breath before they were ready to set off again.  I’m sure if I’d spoken up, they would have been more than willing to wait longer to let me rest, but I was too embarrassed.  How ridiculous is that.  My Z4 was 12 mph, by the way.  I know speed shouldn’t matter, and this should all be for fun, and now this is a place to grow from…. but man.  It really hurts to have a hilly race pace of 12 mph.  I didn’t realize that was possible.

30 miles was too much

I had originally planned to do 25 miles, but no one else on the team seemed to be doing that distance, and I didn’t want to be alone.  Instead I did the 30 and wound up being mostly alone anyway.  Cue the pity party.  To be clear, I was never dropped.  The girls always waited and were nothing but encouraging when I did catch up.  I just went to a negative headspace couldn’t get myself out of it.

Not enough calories

While I think I took in plenty of nutrition during the ride itself and recovered properly, I didn’t eat breakfast.  That hasn’t been a problem in the past, but I guess 30 miles at that effort burns a lot more than 15 miles at an easy pace, huh?  The aftermath of getting behind on calories and the effort caught up with me the next day.  I slept almost the entire day, missing my planned long run.  As J pointed out, instead of a long workout, I basically did an unplanned and under fueled bike race. 

Handling mishaps

I got sloppy during the back half of the ride.  This was evidenced by increasingly rough stops, culminating in a clip-out-left-lean-right-catch-self-with-a-stem-to-the-abdomen.  Ouch.  I also had some trouble getting up to speed after stops in the last five 10 miles, resulting in one instance where I zig zagged across the road and got rather close to an oncoming car.  Whoops.  Fortunately, I returned to the ride start with a bit of wounded pride, but nothing worse.

 

So, there we go.  Am I happy?  Yes.  I got out there, got it done, and next time will be better.  Onward!

 All smiles, because what else is there to do on a day you get to play outside?

All smiles, because what else is there to do on a day you get to play outside?

Here we go again...

Here we go again…in so many ways.  I’m blogging again; I'm building back my fitness again.  I am literally going to write as I try and tri again.  Who knew when I picked out that name how perfect it really was? 

I’ve had a lot of “health stuff” going on this winter and spring.  Not gonna lie, watching my run times go from 11 min/miles all the way up to 17 min/miles has been tough.  Same goes for my swim and bike times.  I spent so much time this winter searching for bloggers or instagrammers that were also struggling with anemia, POTS and fainting, and I didn't find any that I was interested in following.  It made me realize that not only would it be therapeutic for me to write during this time, but maybe one day it could be helpful for someone else going through the same thing.

 This has nothing to do with anything else in the post.&nbsp; Pretty though!

This has nothing to do with anything else in the post.  Pretty though!

More to come, but for now, here's some lovely pink bubbly from when I saw Giselle at Wolf Trap a few weeks ago.

book report - AT Memoirs, Good & Bad

Sometimes I read a lot.  Sometimes I don’t pick up a book for weeks.  In this new, sporadic series, I’ll give a brief review of whatever I happened to have finished.  In this case, it’s a pair of Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike Memoirs.  It could just as easily have been angst-ridden teenage vampire shenanigans.  Don’t judge!

Awol on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller

This is basically a published mid-life crisis, and I loved it.  At 41 years old, David Miller decided to quit his engineering job and thru hike the AT.  This is probably my favorite AT memoir to date, and all due to the writing.  Maybe because he’s an engineer, or maybe he’s just a better caliber writer than the average self-published hiker, but I couldn’t have asked for a better life to sneak a peak of.  This was a diligent and thorough accounting, and I could have guessed he was an engineer without him ever saying it.  Not to say this was sanitized; he showed the beauty of the trail, made me love his friends, helped me feel his love for his wife and kids, and taught me all the ins and outs of hiking gear.  Evoking an emotionally response is a tall order if I’m your reader, so kudos to this guy.  I felt like I got him.  If we’d met on the trail, we would have been friends.  At no point in his adventure did the quality of the writing change, which has been a big issue I’ve discovered with thru hiking memoirs.  You start out reading about every meal and blister, and by the end you’re covering a hundred miles in a single page.  No so with Awol.  He continued to paint a consistent picture of his adventure.  While it was clear that his feelings were changing throughout the various chapters of his hike, it never felt like a different person was writing.  When he reached Mt Katahdin, I couldn’t have been happier for him, and I immediately spent the next afternoon searching for trails near me so I could experience the great outdoors.  There is no better praise.

Marathon’s Walk in the Woods: An Appalachian Train Thru-hike by Seth Jenny

For every good one, I guess I have to get through a stinker, right?  This hiker got an emotional reaction from me, but not a good one.  His writing style irked me.  I felt like he had taken bullet points for each day, and then, months or years after his hike was finished, he tried to turn those bullet points into a book.  I could learn more about someone from reading their grocery list than I know about Marathon.

I guess that’s not entirely true.  I know some things.  First off, this guy is clearly some kind of snake magnet.  He mentions a snake almost every page!  He throws around the names of his fellow hikers, but rarely shows us who they are.  Then, a few chapters later, he mentioned that he ran into them again, but because I have no connection, I don’t remember the person.  Even his friend from home that he hiked with for a while is left a complete mystery to us.  Imagine my shock in the afterward when he mentions that they got married.  Really?!  He was in love with her, and I had no idea.  He’s also apparently a huge fan of God.  He talks about being religious at the beginning of the memoir, and even briefly takes the trail name Gabriel before settling on Marathon.  There are a few mentions of going to church, but other than that, it was a bit weird how little he talked about God.  Maybe he lost his religion while on the trail?  I’ll never know, because he never really talked about it.  His description of Mt Washington ruffled my feathers, too.  I’m not a hiker, obviously, but I’ve read enough of these memoirs to know that Mt Washington is often one of the scariest parts of the journey.  The weather there is supposed to be insane.  Marathon?  Apparently he had very little issue, and Mt Washington was just another bullet point on his journey.  To pare this whole thing down to a single sentence: If this was the first AT thru hike memoir I had ever read, it would have been my last, and I never EVER would have tried trail running.

week(s) in review: Veteran's Day 5k weeks 4 & 5

I missed getting last week’s review out, so today is a two for one kind of deal.  The week before last was a rough one for me.  Sometimes it seems like at the very time I want to feel strongest is when I feel most vulnerable.  Originally I wasn’t going to record my workouts here, because I’m embarrassed that I wasn’t strong enough to get it done.  Now I realize how silly that is.  So here we go!

My totals for Week 4:

Swim - zero

Bike - nothing

Run - 1:30:30, 7.12 miles

Monday

  • Run - 15:01, 1.2 miles

Yet another gorgeous day. It was kind of amazing to be outside and run, but not be drenched in sweat. Z1/Z2 and the breathing felt easy, but my lower legs felt sore.

  • Functional Strength - 5 minutes
    • Lunge matrix warm-up

Tuesday

  • Functional Strength - 5 minutes
    • Pedestal 2

I snacked on too much junk food at work, and my stomach rebelled pretty strongly.  I wasn’t able to get my run in after work.

Wednesday

  • Run - 30.19, 2.31 miles

Long sleeves and capris were actually warranted this morning! I also got to try out my RunLites gloves, which were great.  Going uphill I felt some stiffness in the achilles, but no other calf pain or anything!

  • Functional Strength - 5 minutes
    • Lunge matrix warm-up

Thursday

  • Run - 30:05, 2.42 miles

This was a nice and sunny one. Warm, but not hot.  I felt like I was running a bit faster today (and I was) but, I mean I actually FELT it. Maybe I should have eased back a bit, but it was nice to try to run a bad day at work into the ground.

  • Functional Strength - 4 minutes
    • Lunge matrix warm-up
    • Plus a quick plank during the day

Friday

  • Run - 15:05, 1.19 miles

After a rough day, I needed some outside time to try to brush everything off so I could enjoy the weekend.

Saturday

  • Unscheduled Rest Day

This day featured something of a meltdown, including some super ugly crying.  It also prompted to me to come to terms with the fact that I need to head back to the doctor and wade into the scary pool that is depression meds.

Sunday

  • Unscheduled Rest Day

Spent the afternoon with my dad, brother, and J at the last home game of the regular season for DC United.  I’d never been to a pro soccer game before, and it was such fun!

 Highlight of the week, right here

Highlight of the week, right here

 

My totals for Week 5:

Swim - zip

Bike - 24:03, 3.18 miles

Run - 2:50:46, 13.58 miles

Monday

  • Run - 17:04, 1.34 miles

Lots of time in Z1, which, I suppose, is how an easy recovery run should go. Since I missed both my runs over the weekend, it felt like forever out there! It was quite warm....maybe 80? In October?! Ah well, at the leaves and acorns made it feel like fall, even if the temperature didn’t.

  • Functional Strength - 5 minutes
    • Lunge matrix warm-up

Tuesday

  • Run - 34:02, 2.44 miles

Drove to Riverbend and ran the Heritage trail, which I wrote a separate post about.

 Views of the potomac

Views of the potomac

  • Functional Strength - 5 minutes
    • Lunge Matrix Warm-up

Wednesday

  • Run - 17:02, 1.39 miles

Just some quick loops around the apt complex after work, but I was full on sweating in that time. 85 degrees?! In late October?!  When I finished this up, my lower legs felt heavy, and a bit sore. Likely from my little trail adventure. I decided to put my feet up for the rest of the night!

  • Functional Strength - 5 minutes
    • Lunge matrix warm-up

Thursday

  • Run - 34:02, 2.81 miles

I drove over to the W&OD after work, and wow, this run felt tough. Maybe it was the warmer weather, but I just had to fight with myself every step of the way to actually keep running and not walk. My HR was high, I was electric pink when I got back to the car, and I just wasn't feeling it.

  • Functional Strength - 3 minutes
    • Lunge matrix warm-up

Friday

  • Rest Day

Saturday

  • Bike - 24:03, 3.18 miles

Bike ride with Dad!  Dad borrowed  a hybrid from some friends, and I drove over for the first time on my road bike since the Reston Tri.  We stuck close to the house, doing a quick loop and exploring a few cul de sacs.  It was so much fun to go out and ride with Dad, and I hope he wants to do a bit more of this while the fall weather is still nice.

 A year ago I never would have guessed that I would spend a Saturday afternoon on bikes with Dad

A year ago I never would have guessed that I would spend a Saturday afternoon on bikes with Dad

  • Run - 18:34, 1.42 miles

Took it to the paved paths around my parents’ house after my ride with Dad.  The leaves and pine needles made it a little slippery on the wooden bridges, but it wasn’t too bad.  I love getting the opportunity to run on different surfaces like this!

  • Functional Strength - 3 minutes
    • Lunge matrix warm-up

Sunday

  • Run - 50:02, 4.18 miles

Drove out to the W&OD, only had to wait a little bit for parking, and then headed west from Sandburg St. Mostly false flat downhill on the way out, so obviously it was a false flat climb on the way back. It was nice and cool, but sunny, and aside from a few little tip of toe blisters and a bit of the start of a stitch on the way back, everything felt great. Around the 40 minute mark I actually felt great, which was quite cool.

All in Z1/Z2. I had a pack of Honey Stinger chews about half an hour before I started. I do kind of wonder if the stitch could have been from the chews? Probably not after that much time.

  • Functional Strength - 3 minutes
    • Lunge matrix warm-up

 

Two weeks ago when I did my week in review, I had some goals.  I wanted to make sure I did my core exercises, and wanted to add in swimming and such.  Clearly, none of that happened.  For the upcoming week, I’m not going to make any special goals.  Instead, I just want to carry on, and take each day as it comes.