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?

What's Next - Fall 2016

I’m starting to get a bit of a pet peeve when people say “just” a 5k.  Or “just” anything, for that matter.  If you’re heading into a race saying “just” then you’re either not pushing hard enough, or selling yourself incredibly short.  Either way, that’s something people need to get out of the habit of.  I’m including myself in people, by the way.  I’m equal parts excited, scared, and embarrassed by my chosen end of season race.

All the running means all the shoes in rotation. &nbsp;Clearly I'm a vivobarefoot girl

All the running means all the shoes in rotation.  Clearly I'm a vivobarefoot girl


I’ve been looking forward to ending my season with this 5k for over seven months now.  I’ve raced on this exact course twice already this season, and my goal at the Veteran’s Day 5k is to get a new PR.  I’m running more than ever before, and feeling physically really good while I’m at it.  The BarryP plan is where its at!  If you aren’t familiar with the plan, click the link to get the full read.  In a nutshell, the plan has you running nice and easy 6 days a week.  In the beginning, you don’t increase your total volume at all, only your frequency, so for me that meant spreading 10 miles a week out over 6 days instead of 3.  You run easy, and you increase volume modestly.  Anecdotally, it seems that once your volume builds to a certain level, your paces start to come down.  Granted, I likely won’t see those paces change too much before race day, but I’m still excited to see what kind of benefits I’ll see from these eight weeks of running more.


Stepping outside of the comfort zone is always a bit scary, right?  Add to that the fact that my training times seem somehow slower than ever before (???) and I’m anxious that I won’t be able to meet my goals for this race.  I could get out there on race day and not be able to pace myself properly.  Or maybe I peaked earlier this summer, and the speed isn’t there anymore.  This is the first time that I’ve actually put time based pressure on myself.  Its an interesting experience in and of itself.  Setting goals based on feelings or actions is a very different game.  You can remind yourself during the race and change accordingly.  Had a goal to smile?  Smile!  No walking during the run leg of a sprint?  Just keep running!  But running at a particular pace?  Ooooh, now that’s scary.  Kind of a good scary, though.


Just a 5k.  Sigh.  I’m quick to correct anyone who says that to me, but I still do it to myself.  Sometimes I’m clicking through my feedly, and it seems like everyone is prepping for more traditionally impressive fall races.  Even harder this week, since its Kona week!  On the local scene, there’s Marine Corps, Philly, Richmond, and all the big fall half and full marathons.  There seems to be more glory in long course racing.  Or, perhaps that just me hearing the siren call of endurance?  At any rate, I’m struggling a bit with feeling proud and confident about my goal race.  This is compounded by my paces, which feel “too slow.”  Slow and fast are such relative terms.  I’m sure there are people who would be over the moon to have a 5k PR of 30 minutes, and others who would be mortified with anything over 20.  In addition to being irritated when people say “just” a 5k, another pet peeve is when people, especially women, apologize for their speed.  Fast, slow, it seems like women can’t start apologizing for their paces fast enough.  If you’re slow like me, there’s the “Sorry, I know X:XX doesn’t sound fast, but for me it is” rhetoric.  For the speedsters, there’s plenty of “I was practically crawling at X:XX (sorry if that offends anyone).”  Can we all please agree to stop apologizing for our performance?

So that’s what’s on the horizon.  I’m running more frequently than I ever have before, and really enjoying doing lots of little miles.  There are some brewing nerves about whether or not I’ll be able to reach the goals that I’m setting for myself, but I’m going to embrace the anxiety and use it as fuel for the fire.  And most important of all, I’m racing a 5k, and I’m proud of it.  No apologies!

Race Expectations: Reston Triathlon

Tomorrow's the big day.  First Olympic distance!  Race nerves are in full swing already; this is the first time I’ve gotten them this early.  My brain is going wild - one second I'm second guessing my training, the next I'm convinced that I’m injured, and the next everything is perfectly fine.

As has been the case all season, setting goals is tough.  The first time doing a new distance means I have no idea what to expect.  I have a few ideas of how I want my day to go, so I’m using them as my guide.

  • Swim Smooth

    • I don’t want to push, but just enjoy the swim and get nice and warmed up for the rest of the race

  • Ride Smart

    • I need to ride my own race, and not get overly excited by the speedsters on the course.

  • Run Strong

    • Ease into the first few miles, then really bring it home hard.  No point in leaving anything out on the course!

  • Smile!

    • Don’t compare my performance to others, and just get out and PLAY.  Have FUN!

  • Goal Times – I have no idea how reasonable these times are, but they’re in my head, so they’re getting written down.  

    • Outstanding –  < 3:25:00

    • Exceeds Expectations – 3:30:00

    • Acceptable – 3:45:00

    • Poor -  4:00:00

    • Dreadful – > 4:15:00 (anything longer than this and they close the course)

    • Troll – DNF

Everything is all laid out and ready.

Everything is all laid out and ready.

I’m buzzing with nervous energy right now.  This last year has been all about building my fitness, and I’m stoked to let it rip and see what my hard work can produce.  Almost go time!

Anyone else is racing this weekend?


Some Bike Milestones

You wouldn’t know if for what little training has been going on in my life the last couple weeks, but this month I’ve had some good cycling milestones.  Giving some thought to these milestones is just what I need right now.  After admitting to myself that I was feeling exceptionally blah, I thought that would be the kick start I needed to get back into the swing of things.  It wasn’t, and I actually spent four days last week doing absolutely nothing, save a bit of senseless crying.  Now I’m trying to head into the next two weeks before Reston with a renewed sense of vigor.  You know what goes really well with vigor?  Self-congratulatory reminiscing about bike stuff!  In the last month I had a bike birthday, the longest ride ever, and my first puncture.

Last August I bought a used Linus Dutchi 8 from a friend.  It was meant to be my safe and friendly introduction back into riding.  Swoopy and upright, with an internal hub and fitted for all my grocery getting needs, I named her Peggy, and she came through like a champ.  I remember being scared going downhill the first time, riding the brakes the entire way down.  I remember riding to the top of “the hill” and feeling like I’d conquered Everest.  Best of all, I remember how great it was when I really started enjoying my time on the bike.  I’m an anxious and nervous person, and being on a bike made me feel wobbly, out of control, and like I had a target on my back.  Lots of times I still feel that way on my road bike.  But one day, on Peggy, I realized I felt good.  No big deal, just me and my bike, out doing bike things.  While I haven’t put nearly as many miles in as I thought I would, I still look forward to spending time with my swoopy steed.  Happy Birthday, Peggy!

Dutch bikes are wonderful, but they aren’t going to get you far on the bike leg of a triathlon, so most of my time this year has been on my road bike.  Given my anxiety and wobbliness, it should come as no surprise that during the week I get most of my rides in on the trainer.  On the weekends, in the early morning when the sun is just coming up and the traffic is light, I hit the roads.  Earlier this month, I got in my longest ride ever: 30 miles!  In addition to this being a milestone ride, it also helped me get the monkey off my back with regard to covering the race distance, since I added in a 3 mile run to make it a brick workout.  I started out in a bad place for that ride, with some saddle pain less than an hour in, and aching shoulders for the last eight miles.  By the time I hit the red caboose in Herndon, I was feeling better, and I was in a more mentally positive place on the way home.  As I cruised into the apartment complex, I realized I had gone 29.8 miles, so naturally I did a quick loop around the complex to bring home in 30.

I've been working all year toward this picture!

I've been working all year toward this picture!

I had no idea when I finished up my milestone ride that I had picked up another– my first flat tire.  It had to have been a slow leak, as all systems were go as I parked that day.  My bike leaned against the dining table for the next two days, and it wasn’t until Tuesday night that I realized the front wheel was completely flat.  A quick inspection, and I discovered a teeny little sharp piece of rock wedged into the tire.  Thank goodness I got to practice changing the puncture at home instead of on the side of the road.  After a bit of back and forth online with people who know way more than me, it was determined that I needed a new tire, since the rock had sliced all the way through.  With my race just a few weeks away, did I really want to have the added anxiety of riding on a patched tire?  No, no I did not.

This is my confident face. &nbsp;No, really.

This is my confident face.  No, really.

That’s when the mechanical shenanigans really got going.  With the replacement in hand, I settled down to get the tube changed and put the new tire on.  Friday night done right!  I am in complete awe of the people on youtube who can zip through a tire change in a couple minutes.  It took me quite a bit of time to muscle the tire off the rim.  And getting the tire back on after the tube is replaced?  Maybe practice makes perfect, but if that’s the case, I’m really good at swearing now.  So there I was, finally ready to pump up the tire.  I was getting some weird hard and soft spots, and then the tire popped off the rim.  Turned out that the tube had some kind of defect, with spots that ballooned up and others that wouldn’t inflate.  No worries, I had another spare tube…

Except I didn’t.  Well, I did, but it didn’t last.  J decided he wanted to give the tube changing a go.  He likes to mess with stuff like that, and I was crazy busy playing Sudoku on my phone.  Anyway, long story short, pinch flat and blowout.  Whoops!  A few hiccups and missteps, but before long I was the proud owner of 5 properly sized inner tubes.  Installation went well, the new tire was put on, and finally (finally!) I was good to go.

Which bring us to today.  August is almost over, and I feel like I’m walking around in a fog.  Sometimes each day can be a bit of a struggle.  You take things one day at a time, and suddenly its 10 weeks later and you don’t really know where the time went.  I’m going through a rough patch right now, so it’s nice to be able to put together some thoughts about things that are going right.  Not that a puncture is ever right, but I’m excited to celebrate every single milestone available to me.  One day I’m going to look back at this and laugh, because 30 miles will be a quick ride, and changing a flat will be easy!

Race Expectations: HarborFest Half Iron Swim

August snuck up on me, and just like that, it’s a race weekend!  This Sunday is HarborFest, and the event offers 750m, 1.2 mile, 2.4 mile, and 5k options.  It is billed as being perfect for triathletes looking to experience an open water environment without having cycling or running after.  After my swim at Lake Anna, this is a natural next step, no?  My race come September in Reston has a 1500m swim, so I picked the Half Iron 1.2 mile option, figuring in this case that more was better.  Perhaps it’s because I’m hoping this race will just give me experience, but I don’t feel too nervous yet.  We’ll see what happens race morning, though. 

Seems fitting with the Rio Opening ceremonies tonight to look back and remember the time J and I spectated the Women's 1oK swim at the London games. &nbsp;Photo by J

Seems fitting with the Rio Opening ceremonies tonight to look back and remember the time J and I spectated the Women's 1oK swim at the London games.  Photo by J

Setting goals this season in general has been tough.  I don’t want too much pressure, and I don’t know my abilities or the events well enough to even have reasonable expectations.  That being said, I don't want to go into this with nothing.  I mean, I’m not Haley Anderson or anything, but swimming is currently my strongest of the three disciplines.  According to WaveOne Swimming, HarborFest is an opportunity to “challenge yourself, invigorate your dedications to swimming, and unlock your undiscovered potential.”  Those all sounds like good things, right?  So... goals…I has them:

  • Enjoy! 
    • Swimming in open water is hard to do around here, so I want to make sure I appreciate every single second I’m out there in the water.  That means keeping a positive attitude.  This also means controlling my imagination, and not letting panicky thoughts ruin my day.
  • Sight!
    • By the end of the race I want to have a feeling of what it is like to sight for buoys.
  • Goal Times – so I guess I have to admit that I have some times in my head, even though they are based on my pool swims.  I have no idea if they are realistic, but better to write down a goal and miss making it than pretend I don’t have these numbers jockeying around in my head.
    • Outstanding –  < 40:00
    • Exceeds Expectations – 42:00
    • Acceptable – 47:00
  • Why yes, my goal system is based on the Hogwarts O.W.L. grading system.  So nice of you to notice!  With that in mind, I also have a few markers that can be considered Failing Grades.  Don’t forget, though…if you get a Poor O.W.L. you can repeat. #ravenclawsome
    • Poor -  > 50:00
    • Dreadful – DNF for nonmedical reasons
    • Troll – vomiting on a fellow swimmer

I guess it’s pretty obvious by now that I’m trying to take an easygoing approach to this race.  I'm not tapering at all.  Although, to be quite honest, I haven't been as consistent with my training of late, so my volume has been lower than usual.  Even still, I head into this race with purpose.  I want to experience a pack of swimmers.  I expect to have a full contact swim, a gear malfunction, and a mouth full of water.  I want to swim, not just survive.  I want to get out of the river knowing that 5 weeks from now I’ll be able to do the same thing followed by a bike and run.  Best part about this?  First time at a new race distance means an automatic PR!

Who else is racing this weekend?  Do you ever do standalone open water events?