Monday, July 10, 2017

Race Recap: Ironman Eagleman 70.3

Finally got around to signing up for an Ironman branded 70.3. My last (and only) was Racine in 2014.  For two years, I'd heard nothing but wonderful things about this race and I knew I just had to do it.  The weather - BEAUTIFUL!  The course - epically SCENIC!  The Cambridge location - SO EASY TO GET THERE.

In truth - it was a very well put together race. Gerry Boyle does a phenomenal job with this location and he truly cares about the athletes.  They can't help that it takes place on a weekend where you can't discern between Earth and racing on the surface of the Sun.  Or that famous DC traffic... actually, really any traffic in the 100 mile radius of Virginia/Maryland/DC - its all terrible.

Holli, Bicycle Pete/Honest Sherpa, and myself stayed at the Comfort Inn, a few miles from transition - easy to navigate around town.  We arrived Friday evening and got checked in, thrilled to have that activity checked off the list of stuff to do the following day.  In an idiot move, I realized I had thrown my xlab aero bottle straw away (it was moldy and i'm only so into building up my immune system within reason) so I purchased some profile design products so I could fashion a new one.  In a McGuyver-esque move, I was able to drink water from the bottle while laying in bed since the straw was three feet long.  a completely useless party trick but amusing all the same.

In the morning, Holli and i geared up and did a 45 minute bike on the run course and a slow 10 minute run.  the temps were rising and by 10 am, it was getting a touch uncomfortable.  we reunited with BP/HS and traveled a few blocks up the road to a diner to enjoy a big breakfast and relax.  shortly after, we packed up the bikes and dropped them off in transition.  I bid miss daisy adieu and told her to behave herself overnight.  there were a lot of pretty bikes and i didn't want her getting distracted for the ride tomorrow.  like rider, like bike I always say.

back in the hotel, we settled in and relaxed.  and laughed a lot.  we danced.  okay, i danced.  i didn't feel a lot of race jitters - i was pretty happy hanging with my friends for the weekend, nearly forgetting at times that in less than 24 hours we would be done racing.  rotisserie chicken and sweet potatoes for dinner - capped off with a handful of E.L Fudge cookies, water, rocket fuel, and osmo preload.  mmmm SALT.

i coerced the group into falling asleep to titanic as i showed my skill at knowing nearly all the words to the 3 1/2 hour movie.  i don't want to brag but... i'm pretty cool.

race morning - up at 3:45ish.  obligatory 1 & 1/2 thomas blueberry bagels with peanut butter plus banana.  another bottle of preload to wash it down.  SALT.  YUM.  plus one bottle of rocket fuel to carry around for the morning - thank you BASE performance for the ever-so-excellent hydration products.

pete, holli, and i set out for transition - by the good grace of god, some fellow DC Tri-ers had a house 1 block from transition and were generous to let us park in the driveway and take over their abode for race morning (thanks you guys).

friends were doing a relay and adam had asked me when i thought it would pass him on the bike.  they were starting about an hour before i did.  my random guess?  mile 43.  we would see...

set up transition - bike was already there so topped off air in the tires, added bottles and nutrition, and set up camp on my red washington nationals rally towel.  good to go.  hung back at the DC tri house with a short solo dance party and then headed to swim start.  wetsuit on, quick little freak out with Joanna (bless you friend for your hugs), and it was time to go.

swim:
i honestly recall close to nothing about this swim other than people were obviously cutting the swim short which is lame.  as in - i could see them cutting buoys.  meh.  swam my swim, easy to sight with the sun way up (we were in one of the last waves), and it was pretty clear water, not a lot of wading through people with the lines i took so that made it easy.  water temp was a little warm, very comfortable in wetsuit.  really like my xterra vengeance for the shoulder flexibility and the rocking lavender sleeves.  before i knew it, i was at the arch and running out.

T1:
wetsuit off, everything already on the bike, so quick ponytail adjustment, helmet and sunglasses on and it was time to roll.  literally.  pete hollered out that i was 22nd AG.  we laughed.

bike:
goal was to keep HR at 140-145, i have the HR of a sloth, i know.  the course is pancake flat, fast, and fun. i borrowed a pair of 808's from liz and felt like i was on cruise control just steady spinning - which i LOVE.  none of those silly hills, just a constant high cadence and forward, steady movement.  i felt great nutrition wise for the first loop - had all my calories in via honey stinger waffles and downed 2 bottles of rocket fuel - which is delicious cold but less than stellar when it is warm.  as my heartrate set into the low 150's, i realized the heat was having an effect on me.  i didn't feel tired, i actually wanted to push it more, but i actively slowed and conserved energy to follow the plan.
early into the second loop, my stomach stopped cooperating and as i forced half a waffle into my mouth, i took a big swig of rocket fuel, swallowed, leaned over my aero bars and watched that waffle and liquid come right back up and all over my arms.  solid regurgitation at its finest.

well, bleh.  that was nasty prochnow, i thought to myself.  then a few lines of nasty girl ran across my brain and i laughed and looked around, still covered in puke.

this sport is pure glamour, start to finish.

i had my eyes peeled for adam as i rode into mile 40.  sure enough, at mile 42.8, i passed adam - BOOM!  "hey baby", i yelled at him, puke remnants still visible on my arms.  damn, who wouldn't want to date me?

as i cruised into the final mile, a rider two bikes up fell in the no passing zone which caused a fairly abrupt slow down and stop.  damn.  so close but so far... we waited a little bit and then were able to continue the two blocks into transition.

T2:
aka re-rack, helmet/gloves off, adjust ponytail, grab all your shit and keep running.

run:
the plan here was to start with HR @ 140 for the first few miles- this is also known as fast-walking-in-the-heat speed - like 9:30-9:45 min miles - pretty awesomely sluggish.  i shuffled along for three miles, ate a gel and water, loaded myself with ice/cold water at the aid stations, and marveled at the squishiness of my shoes this early in the race.  i imagined the epic blisters that were likely forming with water going everywhere at all the aid stations/directly on my feet.  I picked it up through miles 3-6, still feeling really slow but good in the heat.  this wasn't a race to PR or set any records, more of a long training day and i understood that - though the competitor inside didn't love it.  definitely a lesson in patience and HR regulation.  after mile 6, i picked it up more and finally felt like i could run.  pace started to drop quicker and i moved into the mid-8's for another 3 miles.  I passed a few people as I myself got passed and i knew i was out of the top 5 - but again, training day.  the last few miles were low 8's, high 7's and i felt fine.  i could feel my quads tightening up around mile 11, but thats the homestretch!  you just have to get to the finish, which i did.  wasn't happy with the time, but for the 40th time, i reminded myself that i was sticking to ironman plan.

bigger picture, prochnow.

i felt a little weird for the first 15 minutes after finishing - i was just so hot.  got some water, sat down, and felt normal pretty quickly.  it was warm out there!  saw teammates, old friends, new friends - the beauty of a "local" race - so awesome.

On to Placid!









Thursday, July 6, 2017

Race Recap: Monticelloman 70.3

Family!  Friends!  Loved ones!  Triathlon aficionados!

What a welcome!  Aw, you shouldn't have.  Thanks for coming over.  Sit around and crack open a nice cold bud light while I real-men-of-genius recount this latest race for you.

That really doesn't even make sense.  Wait, don't go.  I'm sorry, please stay.  I'll have beer at the end if you promise to hang around until the end.  Just kidding, that was a lie.  I have nothing for you.

Anyway.  Race season finally arrived after what seemed like the longest off-season ever.  After Vineman in July, I basically shunned triathlon but continued to work out so I could also continue to fill my excessive need for tacos, pizza, and alcohol.

It's a super healthy lifestyle and I highly recommend it.

I've definitely been training a fair amount.  Putting in some solid hours on the bike, lots of running, and the bare minimum for swimming (if we're being honest, and i think we are).  Swimming hasn't been a lot of fun with a sore, aching shoulder, but it too is coming around.  I was excited and nervous going into the first race of the season - aren't we always?  I was also very interested to see how my legs felt off the bike and how the bike would feel in general with a new QR and the amount of training I've been doing.  The gearing on the QR is a 53/39 with 11-25 in the back, my cervelo had 50/34 with 11-28 in the back.  Very, very different.  Not knowing too much about bikes and having only done a few outdoor hilly-ish rides, I wasn't super concerned.

Ignorance, they say, is bliss.

My friend Charlie from undergrad was also racing and came down Friday to hang out and do race prep with me.  My intent for the day was to sit and do nothing except watch movies all day.  However - I ended up a hot mess.  We ran errands, went to Arlington Cemetery and paid respects to his classmate that was buried there, and then attempted bike stuff.  I borrowed my teammate's (thank you Liz) new Zipp 808s and proceeded to inflate them and immediately found that one of the tubes was blown.  DAMN THE BIKE GODS.  and the valve stem on my spare tubes are great for anything less than an 808 so off to the bike shop we went.  I also had a dilemma about the carbon break pads - I wasn't sure if the QR came with them or not given that the race model comes with carbon wheels (which I didn't purchase).  After taking my cervelo's brake pads off and comparing them - it turns out I already had carbon pads on there.  Awesome.   The living room was a mess of bikes and parts and via telephone to Bicycle Pete, i next learned how to widen the brakes to fit the 808s.

What it comes down to is this - I'm basically a bike mechanic now.

Ordered sushi for dinner, watched Frozen and passed out.  So much for sitting on the couch all day watching movies.

Saturday morning - day before race: got up and took all the gear to Hains Point for a quick 45 min spin and 10 min run.  It had rained a fair amount the night before and for the first time in my experience, parts of HP were flooded.  Bike shoes got a bit soggy but not too bad.  Quick shake out run around the Jefferson memorial and it was back to the apartment for waffles.  Packed up and headed down to Charlottesville for race check-in.

Arrived at check-in around 2 pm.  Picked up all the stuff and met up with Joe, Mark, Ellen, and a few of the RTTC ladies.  Quick swim in the new Xterra Vengeance wetsuit to test her out and I felt good to go.  Love this wetsuit and the shoulder flexibility!  I also discovered the legs are cut shorter to mid-calf which is much better than the ankle cut in my opinion.  Its a size smaller than my old Xterra and that makes a world of difference in terms of fit - so much better!  Who knew?!

Checked into the hotel, got gear ready and packed for the following day and watched the Derby.  Headed to dinner and had a seafood pasta with one Stella which hit the spot.  Back to hotel for sleep!

Up at 5ish - late race start of 8:30 am so nice to "sleep in" a bit on race morning.  Transition opened at 6:30 - arrived at 6:45 or so.  Set up transition, milled around for a bit.  Used the bathroom a couple times.  Made sure to eat 1 & 1/2 Thomas blueberry bagels with peanut butter and 1 banana prior to putting wetsuit on around 8 am.  Ate a gel with water around 8:15 as I headed to the water.  Men started at 8:30 and women started at 8:33.  The familiar feeling of anticipation started to take over my chest and I could feel my heart start to race.  "Chill the eff out Prochnow", I told myself, "Swimming is your thanggggg".

swim:
Started out at the front of the group and ran/dove in from the beach.  Immediately, there were 3-4 girls around me for the first few minutes and eventually they dropped off until it was just myself and one girl to my left.  and... NO ONE IN FRONT.  its hard for me to maintain a race pace with no one to race and no one visible to catch.  so, I swam.  a bit too comfortably looking back - the pace was easy but i could see we were catching the men after a short time.  no memorable encounters with anyone during this go-around, though a quick tip to the few men who swam perpendicular to my line of sight - "you're going the wrong way dude... buoy is 90 degrees to your left...".
Saw the beach finally and headed in.  The girl crept up a bit - so i did too.  She managed to get out seconds in front of me.  *shakes fist and dizzily runs into transition.*

T1:
working on those quick transitions, had a three second debate about arm-warmers or not - determined it was too much work and ran out.

bike:
chilly getting on the bike, but i wouldn't regret the lack of arm-warmers in the minutes to follow.  I got into a groove and felt all right for the first loop.  however, i was having trouble chewing food and swallowing - bonk breakers are dense and still apparently difficult for me to swallow (did I learn nothing from last year?) so I struggled with nutrition.  it got to the point that every time 15 minutes came around and I went to eat the small 1/4 of a bar I got upset with myself and my stomach got queasy.  it would just sit in my mouth for minutes which made me want to throw up but i knew i had to eat something that was my only option.  hydration wise, i was good to go.  i started off with 2 full normally concentrated bottles of rocket fuel (2 scoops hydro, 1 scoop watermelon amino, 1 scoop salt) and 1 double concentrated bottle with only 1/4 filled with water - the idea being i can grab a water bottle at an aid station and mix my own drink without dealing with powder while not carrying the full weight of an additional 1-2 bottles.  worked awesome - i ended up drinking 3.5 bottles during the bike - easy peasy.  by the second loop, my legs were getting tired - rolling terrain was hurting, I wasn't able to fly up those hills with my current gearing like I used to and that was frustrating.  i got a little light headed, felt nauseous due to lack of eating, but forced myself to swallow chunks of the BB bars whole or I knew I would feel much worse on the run.  Definitely not the bike time i was anticipating and was disappointed about that as i headed into T2.

T2:
screw you bike, i'm out.

run:
there has been a lack of "happy place" in my race running for a couple years now - or really running in general until the past 6 months.  we did some run focused prep over the winter and i started to love it again so i was curious how this would translate into tri.  heartrate was a little low off the bike and i felt a bit sluggish as i started into the run.  i did hear "3rd female" as i left T2 and then "... but they're at least 5 minutes ahead of you!".  i actually laughed and said "thanks dude!"

i appreciate honesty in sport.

i knew i wanted to build HR throughout the run - increasing about every few miles.  i started out at a good pace for me - high 7 - but the course was rolling.  very very rolling.  with every incline i told myself "good placid prep, yay!" and forced myself to believe it.  around mile three i could hear footsteps coming on strong - i hadn't been passed yet but i had a gut feeling those were female steps.

sure enough, a women surged past me and kept going.  i felt myself mentally shut down as i watched third place literally run away from me like i was standing still.  i let myself feel like a failure for a few seconds and decided i had enough gas in the tank to pick up the pace a bit without blowing my HR through the roof too early.  "just stay with her prochnow, only 9 or 10 miles to go." even thinking that statement felt a little ridiculous to me, but what was the worst that could happen?  i run out of steam and slow down to a walk?  this race means NOTHING at this point in the season!  so, i picked it up a bit - and she stopped gaining on me.  slowly, over the next couple miles, i crept up on her.  i could see that the inclines were not her friend and i took that opportunity to gain a little more with each one and ZOOM down the other side (free speed! use the hills!).  around miles 5-6 i found myself running on her heels and feeling my gas tank slowly filling back up as the pace slowed while i sat on her feet.  an uphill was ahead and i decided it was time to pass her and put some distance between us.  as i ran by, i told her how strong she looked - because she did.  she looked awesome.  i told her i'd been trying to catch her and she said she had taken it out too fast.

"anything can happen in a race regardless of who shows up to race."

i passed her and i charged a bit into the turn-around.  lo and behold, three more girls were coming up on my fast friend.  "oh crap... MUST-GO-FASTER-MUST-GO-FASTER." (thank you, Dr. Ian Malcolm).

i ran away from them as if that t-rex really was after me in my 1993 jeep wrangler.  around mile 10, i heard more footsteps and a strange yell - i turned around and a girl was RIGHT FREAKING THERE.  OH CRAP!  for the next 15 seconds, i wondered why she had made that strange noise and i turned around she was gone.

... wait, what?  i did a double take and sure enough, she had disappeared.

super weird, but whatever!  i kept running and slowing building my speed and HR - i was feeling really strong through mile 11 and i could feel my quads start to tighten and my stride shorten.  i thought to myself, "only two more mi---"

i heard the weird yell again, interrupting my self peptalk and realized the girl was behind me again.  WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON?  i gunned it for 15 seconds, turned around to see where she was - and she had vanished.  now, this particular part of the course is a straightaway, so after the second time this happened, i questioned my sanity.  now, sitting here, rehashing the race, i'm a little worried i was seeing/hearing things.  but i felt fine.  i actually felt really good all things considering at mile 11 of the run.

the last two miles are a bit of a blur - i tried to pick up the pace further and just hold on to my suspected third overall spot.  before i knew it, i was taking the left to the finish and the arch was right there - looked behind me and saw no one but at that point, who even knew where the ghost girl was at?  ran through the finish and saw my time - 5:15 - not great, but it was a rough bike.  my run was 2 minutes faster than 2 years prior when i considered myself to be in good run shape so I was really pleased with that.

overall, the run was a huge mental victory for me.  i stayed mentally strong instead of giving up and i worked my strengths and stayed patient.  im really proud of myself for how i handled the run and aside from the two-time break from reality (was that girl ever really there?  was i going crazy?), i had a strong, consistent run and i fought for my place and raced.

i ended up 2nd OA thanks to the collegiate category taking the first OA girl out of the open results.  ellen got 1st OA so we got to share the podium and were showered in prizes!  really cool.  joe won overall male, so DC Tri did pretty well in our first halves of the season.

on to the next one!  till next time...










Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Race Recap: Rock n Roll DC Half-Marathon

first race of 2017 in the books.  Guys!  it went way better than I anticipated.  I actually felt like I could sort of run again.  Haven't felt this way since early 2015.  HELLOOOO LEGS!

i was coming off a mini (and very much needed) break in Florida.  I only ran once down there but did manage to drink my weight in mic ultra and top shelf margaritas and spend every night in the hot tub.  Which - to my knowledge - is the same as actually swimming.  i also floated around in the gorgeous ocean next to the boat while my friends made sure i didn't get eaten by sharks.  it was pure heaven.  

i worked an insanely full day friday but managed to leave just shortly after 7 (only leaving 2 hours of notes behind).  drove to Holli's to eat dinner with her and Lori, who was in town to run the full (and play with us, duh).  Lori made dinner - god bless her, shes amazing - and we sat and chatted for a couple hours until it was time to get to sleep.

it was a balmy 20 degrees when I woke up and walked jazz.  for a second (just a second), i considered the alternative option of not running.  damn it prochnow, i told myself, don't be an ass clown.  i really wanted to wear my lulu capris so i paired that with obnoxious neon yellow compression socks.  wore a thick thermal layer and lulu vest with snapple cycling jacket.  the only issue was my hands - when they get cold, im miserable.  that broken finger with the plate/screws gets totally numb and stays numb for hours which is actually a little painful.  i brought my hincapie cycling gloves and hoped for the best.

i ate a couple of english muffins with peanut butter and honey for breakfast with half a cup of coffee.  i also chugged a bottle of BASE rocket fuel just before walking out of the apartment.  bryan and i metro'd over to smithsonian, checked our gear, and walked to the W to meet up with Holli at the VIP area.  a glorious, lucky turn of events then occurred.  not only did i get to use an actual bathroom - i found handwarmers.

thank you thank you, dear creator of handwarmers - i wish to bequeath to you my first born.

you can have monster too.

with less than 10 minutes to start, we jogged over to corral 2 and got ready to run.  it was windy.  i wasn't excited about that new meteorological addition but there was no turning back now.  literally.  i was stuck in corral 2.  it was go forward or get trampled by thousands of runners.  saw ellen, jan, and justin and we all took some pictures and i pretended to be excited about 13 miles of running.  jan gave me a hug and i considered stealing her very warm purple puffy coat (sorry jan).

there was a countdown and a lot of forward motion and a minute later, ellen, holli and i crossed that line.

and so it begins!

the idea was to gradually build HR every 3 miles (145, 150, 155, 160, then haul ass for 1.1 miles).  so, i gradually built to 150ish over 2 miles.  whoops.  my legs felt a little tight (not warmed up) but i was running what felt like a good, sustainable pace.  i could see ellen ahead and i knew holli had to be right behind me.  i kept between 150-155 for the next few miles, slowing down a bit on rock creek parkway.  the first 5 miles are fairly flat so HR was easier to control.  holli passed me at some point around mile 5 and i pulled up next to her.  i yelled over - "good mornin!" - she looked strong and we ran the next mile near each other.  i knew erin would be cheering around mile 6 and i was eager to shed the snapple windbreaker.  the mile 6 horrible incline into georgetown began - which is also where the "wear blue: run to remember" group with american flags and pictures are.  so awesome.  i tried to look, but i couldn't - last year i got super choked up.  luckily, erin was right there with her #blessed sign (love her) and she ripped my jacket off and i continued running.

holli had passed me again - she's so strong!  i took the giant hill slowly and deliberately, imagining the strength i was saving in my legs (man, i am just not good at hills).  finally at the top, i collected my legs and charged down the slight decline.  i consciously tried to run fast on every downhill, using the momentum to keep the legs going and keep the HR up while holding back a little on the uphill portions.  it was a fun strategy - i passed so many people on the declines and it was a good boost of energy.  i then started to pretend that i was sonic the hedgehog in the bonus rounds (you know, when hes running through the swirling rainbow tunnels collecting rings and gems?  get on my level guys.)  that thought led to mariokart - like when you have the mushroom and you pass over the boost in the road and you are just going unreasonably fast and out of control?  yea!  that was me on the downhills.  zoooooooooom!

i grew up with a dad that worked with video games.  i can't help it.

i kept a good clip going into mile 9.  at that point, i sped up again and was feeling really strong.  i could see my average pace ticking down which made it easier to keep pace.  around mile 11, i felt my legs start to tighten... nooooooo... but i kept at it.   just 1 mile to 12.  then only 1.1 to the finish!  at mile 12, it was on.  most of the last mile is on a decline (AWESOME) other than the very very end.  so i cruised.  i passed people.  i smiled.  i knew i wouldn't break 1:40, but hell - it was going to say 1:40 on my watch - not 1:41.  i could see the time on the finish arch, 1:40:35 and i was still a little bit out.

this is what happened in my head for the next 23 seconds - i was ellie sattler in jurassic park.  she's just busted out of the control house and the velociraptors are going to come after her and she just grunts out "run." as she hobbles to the fence.

yep.  i went there.

crossed the timing mat - 1:40:58.  boom.  told you it would say 1:40.

collected medal and turned around just in time to see holli as she finished.  courtney appeared out of nowhere (who also had an awesome run) and we accumulated all the food and drinks on our way to the gear trucks.  i threw on some layers and let myself feel relaxed, happy... content.  satisfied.

its been 2 years since i ran a solid half marathon.  it was just shy of a PR - and I didn't really set out to even race this one (except for the last 4 miles, i was definitely racing those - the last mile was 7:06).  i told myself i'd be "satisfied" with a 1:42 or 1:43 since i ran a horrendous 1:48 last year; i was coming off the flu and stress fracture and had been running really poorly in general.  it didn't seem logical to set a time goal considering i haven't been training for a running race - but i have a hard time thinking about races without time.  i also made the morning decision to run without music and enjoy the people, city, and race itself.  it was a great choice.  i had a really fun day out there, despite the weather.  no GI issues, definitely not enough water, but awesome nonetheless.  

following the race, a huge group of us headed to district taco in eastern market for post-race provisions.  huevos rancheros - youcompletemeiloveyou.  i sat back and took a couple pictures of the group and couldn't help but grin and be grateful to be surrounded by this group.  two years ago - i was just stranger, a DC transplant that wanted friends that shared my passion.  i found that - but also found so much more.  without getting sappy (shit, was that a tear? nah, its probably sweat), i love this life.  the ups, the downs - its all mine.

anyway.  cheers to a great weekend.  the season has begun!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Closing the loops

ive been training my ass off.  literally.  as in, my butt feels smaller.

(... you were just picturing the last time you happened a casual glance at my butt weren't you?  admit it.  im flattered.  thankyouverymuch). 

however - in recent weeks, i've been having that panicked, #ihaveamillionthingstodo feeling in my chest.  i get close to having anxiety attacks at work.  i feel like im struggling just to get everything done at work, at home - and nothing feels completed.  i constantly feel like my to-do list grows and grows and im running backwards-in-crocs trying to accomplish everything while getting nothing done.

guys, feeling this way sucks.

hence, ive been throwing myself into workouts more and more.  when i train, i can control things.  i can control pace, heartrate, cadence, breathing... hell, even just the direction i am running.  it makes me feel accomplished.  plus - my butt looks better.  small wins.

i was biking last week and running out of things i wanted to watch on netflix, so after playing the netflix game for 10 minutes, i headed over to coach's website.  i watched a video on training peaks of all things and how to keep yourself accountable.  and she talked about "closing the loops" - finishing workouts, updating training peaks, foam rolling - all the while checking off the to do boxes in the training world and coming full circle in terms of being an accountable athlete and reducing stress.  leaving all those little things undone or half done can be a cause of mental stress.

i took a real hard look at myself and realized that i am constantly reminding myself of things that need done - both in training and in life.  i feel like it takes up a lot of brain power when all those little things are constantly floating around in my head in a circle.  turns out, it is stressful.

so i ran - and checked it off the list.  i updated training peaks.  check.  in starting this habit over the past couple of weeks, i've also narrowed down my to-do list.  prioritized things.  i finally finished putting up (and now taking down) holiday decorations.  i finished notes at work.  check, check, check.  once i got the ball rolling, it was a lot easier to finish tasks.

*yadda yadda yadda - something about forming healthy habits - i have nothing inspiring to contribute*

closing the loops is a thing.  that panic attack feeling is lessening and, added bonus, the cat seems pretty pumped about having a clean litter box all the time.  go us.






Wednesday, November 30, 2016

finding mojo... and a day in my life on a random day off.

my family was here this past week for thanksgiving - it was awesome being able to be together (its rare) and even though we didn't get along 100% of the time (who does when holed up together for 1 week in a tiny apartment), it was amazing nonetheless.

that being said - i slept on a tiny couch for the entirety of the visit.  no complaints - i can usually sleep standing up.  at a concert.  next to a speaker.  in the front row.  no that didn't happen.  wait.  yes, yes it actually happened.  i was 17.  i was tired.  eve 6 is still awesome.

wow.  anyway.  so i guess i didn't have great sleep this week.  last night, i had the apartment to myself.  i drank half a bottle of wine and ate leftover pizza and sushi.  oh, and a tube of crescent rolls that we didn't eat for thanksgiving.  with more butter than i have the self confidence to admit.  at 9:30 pm, i convinced myself to go to bed.  monster the cat was passed out at the foot of the bed.  i laid down on the duvet cover with my head by his, had a heart-to-heart, and fell asleep while petting the cat.  by 5 am, jasmine had joined us and I woke up and took her outside.  upon our return, i got into bed like a normal human and fell back asleep until after 9 am.

glorious.

i think i also need a babysitter.

i made the conscious decision to improve my eating habits after waking up this morning so ate some eggs with a shit ton of spinach and a sprinkle of cheese for good measure.  the rain was supposed to stop around 1 so i let myself be lazy until then.  coaching call with jess at lunchtime - all good things, nothing exciting on my end, which is good i think - and then i accidently fell asleep rewatching the new gilmore girls.

woke up and it was 1:45 pm.  time to quit procrastinating and get outside to run.  lacking motivation so i put on new shorts (thank you COEUR, love them) and drove to hains point so i could run the mall.

workout was 20 min easy, 30 min MAF, 10 min easy.  i decided for the first 20 minutes i would take pictures of all the pretty things i passed in an effort to keep the HR down.  its amazing how much there is to see on this run in the first 20 minutes.

first stop - jefferson memorial 

 view of air force memorial on way from east to west potomac park

 jefferson memorial across the tidal basin

roosevelt memorial - eleanor roosevelt
"the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." 

FDR + dog 

martin luther king jr. memorial 

vietnam memorial 

lincoln memorial 

obligatory lincoln memorial reflecting pool photo 

 reflecting pool path

ww2 memorial - illinois

tried valiantly to keep heart rate at 145 for the 30 min - way too easy to make it jump up, especially on my random street crossing sprints to catch the lights.  i thought about keeping up with the picture taking as i ran - washington monument, african american museum, american history museum, natural history museum,  sculpture garden, capitol building, botanical gardens, smithsonian castle, the merry-go-round... its mind boggling how many awesome things are here in the span of a few miles... but decided to just run.  and smile while taking mental pictures of cool things and cool people.  accidently missed my intended turn and ran an extra 10 minutes past the floral garden that i like but has since gone into hibernation.  

finished the run in a good, happy place.  when i don't feel like running, i wear my favorite clothes, down to the socks that i like.  i go to a place that i enjoy and i find something - anything - to make it fun.  hence, today's photo shoot.

what do you do to find your mojo?  


Monday, November 21, 2016

Race Recap: Annapolis Running Classic 10K

Annual Funapalooza weekend is over and done, which is always a fun weekend with friends... but first - we run!

Recap - did this race the first time I visited the DC/Annapolis area in 2014. I had just met Mark at IMWI and was visiting the east coast - met tons of people that, unbeknownst to me, would later become some of my close and dear friends. Thank you Mark, for quite honestly, changing the trajectory of my life with one little note. I think that is one huge reason I hold this weekend so close to my heart.

Anyway, dry your eyes and lets move on.

I intended on going to Annapolis after work on Friday; friend Caroline was in town visiting and I wanted to hang out with her, Mark, and Holli - but it ended up being a busy afternoon at work and traffic was horrendous on the way home. I felt my eyelids getting heavy while sitting in traffic and decided to stay in and go to sleep early. Made my last Hello Fresh meal (salmon with fresh pesto, green beans, and potatoes) and headed to bed shortly after.

Up at 4:15 am with nothing to eat for breakfast. I had forgotten my usual Thomas blueberry bagel - for some reason it didn't even cross my mind to pick some up - so I made a toasted peanut butter and honey sandwich on wheat bread. I lacked coffee as well. Clearly, I was prepared. Headed to Annapolis with Jazz, got to Marks around 5:45 am, attempted coffee and failed again. NO COFFEE?! Since when does Mark not have coffee? The four of us got our stuff together and Caroline and I drove over to the stadium while Mark and Holli ran over. A little warm-up would've been nice, but I wanted a car for after the race - not to mention that I was completely illegally parked on Mark's street.

The worst shirt in the world.

Stadium was near full, runners were everywhere and dressed in anything from tanks and shorts to sweatpants, hats, and gloves. I smiled because based on what the runners were wearing, it was anywhere from 25 to 70 degrees outside. I settled on neon orange Nike spandex shorts, grey NB tech shirt, BASE arm warmers, and the BASE Kona hat that I love. A little chilly to begin with, but ended up being perfect for the upper 40's/low 50's weather once the sun came out. Portapotty stop. Then Caroline and I met up with Holli and Ellen and nudged our way to the front of the pack. Saw Pat and Michaela at the start and exchanged hugs and hellos while the announcer counted our way down to the 7:00 am start time.

(In my head, I figured I was capable of pulling a 7:30 pace - at least thats the target I've been training for. Based on how this year (and last) went running, I thought 7:30 might even be a little ambitious. In workouts, I've been running pretty well, but only for the past handful of weeks. Its been more working on getting to that happy running place in my brain than anything else. Anyway - that was my mindset.)

GO TIME!

Ellen and Holli took off. I waved goodbye to Michaela and started my watch. Within a couple tenths of a mile, I was up next to Holli. "This is too fast!" she said. I looked down and saw 6:40 pace on my watch - yep, definitely too fast. I could see Ellen's yellow hat about 50 feet ahead and wondered if it would be possible to stay up with her. She's fast as shit and just qualified for Boston... and is going to Kona next year along with Holli. Jesus, I have talented friends.

I inched away from Holli in the first 1/2 mile and was keeping a steady, consistent space from Ellen. I felt like I was running easy and I settled into a 6:50 or so pace - still too fast in my head, but what did I have to lose? I began to gain some ground on Ellen until finally I was damn near on her heels in the first couple miles. She seemed to ease back ever so slightly - so I did too. Mentally, I was saving that smidge of energy that I'd hopefully be able to call on in the last mile when I would be hurting. I wasn't really looking at my watch a whole lot and every so often I'd glance at my heart rate. Mid 160's - seemed good to me? Mile marker 3 took place somewhere near the boats in Annapolis near the naval academy.

I checked on my watch again - 5K time was 21 something - fastest 5K to date. I reassessed the situation - Ellen had gotten a little bit away on the downhill, but I was feeling really good and thought - I could maybe do that again for the 2nd half of the run?

Approached an uphill and I caught back up with Ellen and this chick in blue that I'd been watching awhile. At mile 4, watch was reading 28 something - running under 45 was a definite possibility. Between 4-5 miles is a turnaround and as we both turned to head for the stadium, I began to see my friends and they called out to us. I groaned and smiled simultaneously as I realized my friend and pace leader would probably realize I had been running on her heels. Time to move. I nosed forward and said, "hey girl, good morning!" - to which she didn't reply (headphones). She then did a double take when i was a foot or so ahead and said something like "hey you!" and I waved and we kept running.

The sun was coming up behind us and I was watching the shadows of our running selves in front of me. I never looked back. I just tried to maintain the pace and approached a very pretty downhill around mile 5. I cruised down the hill and then up and into the split for the 10K and half. I turned left to run to the stadium (I could finally see it!) and realized I was now almost alone except for 2 guys just ahead of me. We ran into the parking lot and I picked it up just a tad. At that point, I did glance behind me and didn't see anyone with less than 1/2 a mile to go.

All of a sudden, there were no volunteers. Or directive signs. Or cones. um. so. where to go? I took a gamble (the wrong gamble it turns out) and followed the guys in between some cars to a sidewalk and we skirted the stadium. I recognized where my car was parked - which happened to be on the opposite end of the stadium from where the course should have been. oh well. took a hard right and ran through the parking lot - past the finish line along the barricade - in between parked cars - and then a sharp 180 degree right turn to run under the finish arch. With less than 20 feet to go, a guy and a girl SPRINTED past and finished 2 seconds ahead of me. It happened too quickly for me to do anything about it - by the time they ran past, I was crossing the line.

I looked down - 6.38 miles in 44:50. finally - a run to be happy about! I turned around to see Ellen finish, and then Holli just behind her. Pat had already finished and one by one, we watched our friends come across the line. And Caroline - who was going to "run slow" - kicked ass! I think all of us were pretty thankful we weren't running the half; it was time for beer, oysters, music, and friends. So thankful for these people. Friends that I met two years ago at this race. Friends that I train with, sweat with, hurt with - the kind that push you past your limits - physical, emotional, mental. and new friends! However we all came to be here - I'm grateful and thankful for every single one of you. And thank you Ellen and Holli - just... thank you. You guys are amazing women and athletes.




The Coeur ladies.

By my watch, my pace says 7:02 - since the course (with detour) was a little long. Ended up running about 30 seconds per mile faster than I was mentally capable of. 4th OA (turns out the sprinter girl was 3rd OA). 1st AG. Little victories. Hell, big victories even. I know its just a 10K - but busting down those mental walls that I have been putting up
feels. so. good.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Race Recap: IM Vineman... Bring on the Whine.

See what I did there? Didja get it? Didja, didja?

Guys. Moment of clarity for a second. I just did my 4th Ironman. That's big right?  At least my mom and dad think so...  Thanks mom and dad.

But I finished.  Healthy. Whole. And with a smile.

Lets recap.

So, I was marginally fully prepared to leave the house at 4:00 am wednesday morning. I ended up leaving at 4:30, thinking that I had plenty of time to get to BWI at least by 5:15 (over 2 hours before the flight - which really should have been plenty of time), ride the shuttle, get through security, etc (okay, you get the idea - you've seen an airport). Hours later, I half jogged up to Mark and Deb, sitting comfortably at the gate with 15 minutes to spare - sweating and swearing about my general hatred of the human race.

Step 1, complete.

Travel was uneventful other than Mark got us into some high class area for seasoned travelers where I got a free bloody mary and lunch. My anger from the morning's commute lifted when the nice bartender recognized my earlier distress and graced me with an extra olive.

We arrived in Santa Rosa - the world's most adorable and smallest airport - accidentally stealing someone else's rental car in the process, and arrived at our digs for the weekend. Cute airbnb less than a mile from the high school (finish line), great location in the somewhat sleepy town of Windsor. Mark and I put our bikes together, loaded them in the car and the three of us headed over to the high school to get checked in and collect our stuff. Took in the expo - pretty low key and quiet - and met Mark's awesome friend "Ironman Caroline" who I quickly developed a lady crush on because she's really cool. We explored, hit up the BASE tent, Normatech, and chowed on samples of Cliff bars. Again. and again. and again.  Lunch.  Thanks Ironman. Found a friend, Amy, to ride with us. Goal of the afternoon was to ride the run course and do some recon.

The run course was a triple out-and-back with a single sizeable hill that you hit near the end of the out-and-back. The rest of the course was rolling hills, definitely not flat.  But it was pretty and the weather was fabulous.

Dinner involved sharing pizza at an adorable little restaurant in Windsor accompanied by local wine. We went home and headed to bed - huge bed all to myself with a private bathroom. Thanks friends!

Earlier wake up call on Thursday to get to swim start and T1 (17 miles away) to get in a bike, run, and swim. hour easy on bike (with a few short intervals to get HR up), 30 min easy run (which ended up being multiple short loops in town), and a 20-30 min swim. the water was a perfect temp - no wetsuit needed except for speed; it was definitely going to be a comfortable swim. I shed the wetsuit and hung out for a few just enjoying the water. it would be a slightly different situation come Saturday morning...!

Amy, Mark, and I found a cute café for lunch that served amazing sandwiches and then headed back home to get Mark's bike fixed. Cruised the expo again (more snacks) and wandered over to downtown Windsor. We found the candy shop of my dreams and I spent a paycheck on unnecessary shit including an energy drink called "Kung Fu Street Fighter" and chocolate covered bugs.

Friday involved another trek to T1 to drop off bikes and gear bags and take a tour of the bike course.  Mark, Nicole, and I drove the course accompanied by the vocal stylilngs of  "Phantom of the Opera" - we sang all the songs.  Despite the fun road trip, I was getting legitimately nervous seeing the course, given the recent crash and the fact that i wasn't totally comfortable on a bike still.  Nothing I could do about it though except get up the next morning and put big girl tri shorts on.

Family chicken-parm-and-pasta-night (thanks for cooking mark) at the house with a couple Stellas. talked to my family and friends via text and phone for a few and then it was time for sleep... no problem falling asleep in the comfortable bed.

3:45 am arrived quickly. drank coffee. ate a bagel with peanut butter---

--- wait, can I just say that no where in the county of Sonoma are there Thomas blueberry bagels to be found? I went to three places and NONE of them had blueberry. I even got into an argument with the bagel shelf stocker who "works for Thomas" and he claimed that it was a seasonal flavor. oh please, guy. I am a blueberry bagel connoisseur (yea, its a thing) and I guarantee you that I buy them year round.  then i kicked him.  the end ---

---ate a whole wheat (sigh) bagel with peanut butter... (thank you mark for pointing out that I eat the same thing before every race and I have yet to qualify for the big dance so might as well switch it up) and a banana. had another half bagel and banana ready to eat once we arrived at the swim and were waiting at swim start. Deb drove and dropped us off near T1 to figure out our lives. Thank goodness for her this weekend. Port-a-potty break and donning wetsuit. Started to eat my food and realized if I wanted to start at the front id have to wade through the 2000 people already lined up on the other side of the half fence.

well, shit.

met a girl with the same swim goal and same affinity for being late for life so we basically held hands and zipped through the crowd like a couple of crazy passengers late for a plane. stranger bonding at its finest.

all of a sudden the pros were off. i got that excited feeling in my gut and got teary-eyed (as per usual) thinking about what the day would hold and how ridiculously lucky we are to get to live this life.

(follow up thought to above internal monologue - prochnow, you're a sap - for the love of god, pull your shit together.)

SWIM:
my friend and I followed suit behind the pros and before I knew it, I was already under the bridge. Swimming felt great - I had only been in a pool a handful of times since the crash and only had one or two good workouts under my belt in the past few weeks. I felt comfortable though and I would laugh anytime I'd see someone just stand up and start to walk in the very shallow water. many times my hands would scrape the bottom and I began pulling pebbles and rocks along with every stroke and pulling with a very bent elbow. but time passed uneventfully.  there weren't really a lot of people swimming around me so I had open water (despite the awkward depth). before i knew it, i could see the arch and found myself standing up and running out of the water to T1.  looked at watch - big smiles.

swim time: 58:55

T1:
MUD! ran in the mud to T1 where volunteers were waiting with paper towels to clean my feet (THANK YOU!). wetsuit was stripped off, grabbed a bonkbreaker for my pocket, Rudy project helmet/sunglasses and shoes in tow and headed out to reunite with Rosie. easy, quickish T1 (for once!).  no naps!

T1 time: 5:01

BIKE:
took the first 5 miles to get my heart rate at a sustainable level, drank some osmo and settled in. mile 5 is where the treacherous turn takes place and a handful of volunteers were on hand to remind us. i slowed way down for the sharp/steep downward turn - i'm really glad we rode that part previously because its not a safe spot if you are going too fast. the course is a constant up/down/side/side, difficult to ride in aero a lot of the time unless you are very confident on the bike. unfortunately for me, my confidence level was at a sad low and i had significant difficulty getting comfortable on that course.  not a lot of places to just go out and cruise; its a constant shift-fest. by mile 80 or so, i felt my eyes getting heavy and i hit a mental exhaustion wall.  my legs still felt strong, but i was mentally spent from being so focused on the roads and avoiding another potential bike crash (not the way you want to ride 100+ miles).   at one point i actually shut my eyes for a few seconds on a straight away and jolted awake after a bit. scary. i was wide awake after that... kept at the heart rate that i son and i had talked about and executed the race as desired for the most part, but my heart just wasnt in it anymore.  it wasn't fun.

bike time: 6:02:15

T2:
off the bike and into the tent - grabbed my stuff and was ever so thankful to be off the bike. took a look at my bike split - 6 hours... UGH, not what i was hoping for - slowest to date on what i would call an easier or comparable course to previous IMs. socks and shoes on. swig of mountain dew with an EL Fudge cookie. grabbed my race belt, pink visor, purple handheld bottle with Osmo and GUs stashed in the pocket and i was off, putting on my stuff as i ran out of T2.

T2 time: 3:37

Run:
jogged out of transition and my watch yelled at me - "low battery".  what. the. eff. GARMIN.  i charged it all night long. seriously garmin universe - WTF.  i saw deb and adrian right away and was feeling all right for the first mile or so. then i developed an awesome gas bubble in stomach and began to run slightly doubled over.

super. freaking. awesome.

i had an idea i was around 5th or 6th off the bike. not ideal, but not the end of the world. i ran - but i really didn't want to.  i was exhausted.  i wanted a nap.  i felt like if i stopped, theres no way i could get the momentum going to propel the body in a forward direction.  so i ran.  and ran.  and ran.  i thought about nothing.  then thought about everything.  i watched the athletes around me, took mental notes of what they were wearing, watched the spectators.  saw Shan at the BASE tent dancing in bike shoes - that did make me internally smile, but I was too tired to actually smile so I maintained the "ill kill everyone" death stare.  around mile 8, the watch died and i muttered a "fuck you" out loud to the watch.  then i laughed because otherwise i would've cried.  my gut felt like junk, my legs were tired, and my heart was somewhere back at the airbnb.  i continued to amble along the course, taking pleasure at the start of the 3rd loop knowing it was the last time id be heading out on course.  i had a few words with some random people, as you usually do during races, but my vision was focused on the mile markers and counting them down since i was running blind.  my pace was somewhere between 9 minutes and 30 minutes per mile.  in my head, i was rocking something like 12 minute miles and was a little scared to see what my final time would be.  please let me be under 11:30.  please let me finish before dark.  thats all i was hoping for during those dark miles.

finally - the hill... only a mile and a half to go!  i mustered a smidge of pep to my step and passed some people in other age groups.  tons of people were hanging out in the park outside of the high school but as i veered left to head back to the school and finish line, the crowd really dwindled and i was essentially alone when running the perimeter of the high school.  as i turned the corner and saw the finish line 50m or so away, i forced a smile.  another race completed.  it was not the day i had imagined in my head - i could see the finish time as 11:28 - a full 20+ minutes slower than the races last year on a comparable course.  as i ran down the chute, the forced smile because an actual smile.  i stopped at the finish arch and actually stayed upright this time!  i threw up my hands and grinned -there would be plenty of time in the future to dissect what went wrong and what went right but for that moment, i just wanted water, pizza, and comfy spot to sit down with my friends.

(i found out i was first out of the water in the swim for AG, 11th out of the women.  thats a cool 100 dollar gift card from ROKA so i was pretty pumped about getting the new bikini id been eyeing all weekend at the expo.)

we hung out for awhile and watched more friends finish.  eventually, we headed home to shower and change only to return to the finish later in the evening.  when I think back to watching the final finishers and seeing their faces full of happiness and triumph while running down the chute - I felt grateful. not everyone has the opportunity to do this sport, to travel, to enjoy time away from work.  not everyone that trains for these races gets to cross the finish line for one reason for another.  despite the ups and downs of the day - i still crossed the finish line and for that, i feel all right.

At the end of the day - I worked my ass off this season. Yes, I could have tried harder some days. I could have slept more. Ate better. Actually ridden up the hill at training camp instead of hitching a ride at the end of that exhausting day... But I did work hard this year.  Just because that didn't translate into the results I wanted doesn't mean I wasn't successful. I learned so much this year. About me, my body, my response to stress, creating limits when I have to but not accepting them as permanent. Being accepting of myself and my needs.  I'll push harder next year - be stronger and braver.  When the 5th, 6th, 7th IMs come around, I'll still be learning - but that makes us better and stronger, both physically and mentally.

looking forward to training and racing in 2017 my friends...