Tuesday, August 28, 2012

40 days until Chicago.....

OK so last week was ...... I am not even sure what words to use to decscribe it....difficult, depressing, upsetting, painful, boring, LONG, frustrating..... I'm sure I can think of more, but if I think about it too much I will start crying.  After the painful end to my 20 miler I decided it might be best to back off and listen to my body and REST.  Something that IS NOT easy for me.  I made a commitment to myself and tried to think of the best long term plan to get me to Chicago and my other big races next year.  Unfortunately, the immediate reality that it hurt to run was forcing me to evaluate my training plan and adjust accordingly. 
I decided to rest for the entire week!  The last time I took 5 days off in a row was after Goofy, over 6 months ago.  OK, when I put it that way, I'm overdue for some rest, but I thought I was doing good this summer taking more rest days and running less.  I mean my weekly mileage is a lot lower than it was when I trained for Vermont and for Goofy.  But I also think this foot pain sort of started at the begining of the summer just after Vermont.  It's been slowly bubbling to the surface.  It's been that nagging inner voice saying "Hey Stupid, why don't you take a break?!?!"  10 marathons in 4 years is a LOT.
Last Tuesday, I went to my good friend Peri for some acupuncture to try and help my body repair the damage that has been done.  I have been icing and massaging and sleeping with the annoying special foot sling thing that holds my foot flexed.  I'm trying everything to help speed the recovery of this injury and praying that it is only a minor set back.  Peri did some cool microcurrent things and some needle treatments.  I felt optomistic as the week went on.

The hardest part of the whole week was not running.  I wanted to but I also wanted to let my foot heal.  Everything I read and everyone I talked to said the best thing for Plantar fasciitis is rest.  It's one overuse injury that you can run through and I felt ok during the two sprint triathlons after my 20 miler confirming that I COULD run if I really wanted to, but to give myself the best chance possible of having a good experience in Chicago I knew that rest was the better option.  So, I rested.

Friday I went to REI and got some more supportive casual shoes to wear to work to add to the healing supplies.  If I couldn't run, I would focus my effforts on finding everything I could to fix my foot fast to get me back to running.  I went to bed early Friday night, alarm set for early morning to attempt my long run and see how my efforts had gone so far.

I got up Saturday and go dressed.  My foot felt really good.  No pain at all stepping out of bed.  Maybe all the rest helped.  I left before the sun came up and started out for 18 miles with the knowledge that I could cut it short if I didn't feel good.  I was a little slow when I started out, but that’s normal. Takes me the first 3 miles of a long run to loosen up and find my pace. From mile 4-12 I felt great. I was averaging a good solid pace right on target for my marathon goal pace. Then I started to doubt the distance I set out to do (18 miles). I reached the fork in the road and decided to cut the run short to 16 miles, but the short cut was on horrible uneven sidewalks and THAT is when my foot started to hurt. I wonder if I had just stayed with my original route if it would have been better.

Once I decided to cut the run short I started to feel sluggish and I don’t know if it was because the sun was coming up and it was getting warm or if I was mentally defeated. I felt like gravity increased and it required more effort to lift my legs and turn my feet over. As it got more difficult and my foot started to hurt more I just felt more defeated. It was pretty awful. I just kept thinking what am I going to do, what did I do wrong, what could I have done differently, why now after 5 years of running and training all of the sudden this happens, maybe I need to change my diet again, maybe I need more iron and maybe I should be eating meat, maybe I should see a chiropractor to see if the car accident last year threw me out of balance…… a million questions and no good answers except “STOP RUNNING” and that thought makes me want to cry.
I got to about mile 14 and then I could barely walk.  My last two miles took over 20 minutes each.  I literally wanted to cry, not from the pain in my foot but from the pain in my heart from the thought of not being able to run.  Everything I've done in the past few years completely transforming myself and finding this new love, this passion for something I never thought I would love so much, possibly going away.  It's a crushing thought and I stay away from it.  Saturday was a VERY TOUGH RUN, physically and emotionally.  
It's not so much the thought of being injured that destroyed me.  From that little seed in my brain this horrible negative tumor of emotions grows - without running will I get fat again????  I don't ever want to go back to that person I was before and the idea terrifies me.  It's difficult to admit and really painful to talk about, but the structure of my training and eating healthy and maintaining my weight is a constant battle for me to avoid slipping back into that comfort zone of a sedentary lifestyle eating junk food and then falling into the deep depression that held me in that prison of fat for so long.
I WILL NOT GO BACK!  I am stronger than that!  I fought my way out of that darkness and refuse to be pulled back into it.  I know that this is a minor set back and it will not defeat me.  I will beat this and get better.  I will be strong and I will run Chicago surrounded by my friends and no matter what the clock says when I finish I will be triumphant knowing that I may not win the race, but I have won something much more important and valuable - health and happiness.  I will visualize it for the next 40 days and replay it in my brain over and over and I will make it happen. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer is almost over!

Tehehe  YAY!  That means fall is almost here.  Last week we saw evidence of things to come.  The mornings are finally getting cooler and the temperatures are a little more comfortable.  Last weekend I did an 18 mile run followed by another Fire Fighter bootcamp beating.  As promised, I took a few photos. 

But first, a little summary of my run.  It was cooler, but still humid.  I started a little after 5:00am.  First 3 miles were a little slow and sluggish, I think I was still asleep.  Then I settled into my comfy pace and the miles flew by.  I remembered my sodium this time and felt a lot better than the week before.  I finished just in time to do a speedy clothing change because I was drenched and grabbed some coconut water and a few bottles of water for the bootcamp and headed out the door.

I arrived at Fire Fighter bootcamp a little late and they were starting to split into platoons.  I jogged over and joined a team and the warm ups began.  Laps around the building with a 18lb. body bar (pike pole simulation) on the third lap the wind sprints began.  Our team was solid.  We had a good rhythm going and kept a moderate pace.  Not too fast and not too slow.  After the warm up the drills began.  some of the same stuff as the week before and some new stuff.  Ladder and hose drills.  Ok here are the pictures:

The first one is the neatly rolled hoses before we started and the agility ladders in the background and Brian's legs in the way background coming towards me.  I didn't want to get yelled at for stopping to take pictures or else there would be more.  The next one is the ladders, hose packs, tires, and sledge hammers in the back ground.  Last picture is the hoses after we stretched them out and pulled them back in.  We wrapped up the training session with a little relay race.  out and back with hosepacks and SCBA tanks, then drag 3" hose line out and reel it in and repeat back to the starting position then the next person repeated that until the whole team went, to finish we had to flip a giant tire down the driveway to the end.  It's fun and different, and definitely kicks your butt.  I love it.  I will try to get there early this week so that I can get some pictures BEFORE the workout.
So, after the long run and bootcamp I was pretty useless and just relaxed for the rest of the weekend.  Monday I ran along the Charles, 6 miles.  Felt pretty good after resting but I have been trying to ignore this nagging pain in my foot hoping it would go away and it has recently gotten worse.  I couldn't really ignore it much longer, it really hurt.  I was going to go for a bike ride Tuesday, but decided to rest instead knowing I had a really busy weekend ahead.  Wednesday I went to Ayer and ran 5 miles with Kim, the foot was better, but not great.  My miles were catching up to me and all this time injury free was coming to an end.

Thursday, I rested because I took Friday off from work to run 20 miles with Kim, Cherie, and Shannon.  I also had to bake a cheesecake for the triathlon/BBQ Saturday.  While my oven and entire house was hotter than hell I decided to make banana nut bread too. 

Friday, I got up and got dressed sipped some tea and packed my fuel belt for the journey.  Met everyone at Cherie's house at 5:30.  It was really nice out.  Cool and a little cloudy.  In the 60s.  Almost perfect running weather.  Another 5 degrees cooler and it would have been a dream come true.  I'm praying Chicago has better (cooler) weather this year.  Anyway, for the first 5 miles it was just me, Cherie, and Kim.  Shannon was meeting us later because her marathon is a week before ours and she did 20 last week.  We met her after the first 5 and continued the run.  I felt pretty good and my foot was ok until somewhere around 16  miles in.  It started to bother me as we were running over a lot of uneven sidewalks and up and down curbs.

By mile 18 it REALLY hurt.  I had to stop and walk because every foot strike felt like a bolt of lightning shooting up my leg from my heel behind my calf and knee up into my hip.  I knew I COULD push through it and finish the run, but it would be wiser to back off and finish the run with an intact tendon on the bottom of my foot.  I hobbled for the last two miles and quickly applied ice as soon as we got back to Cherie's house.  The ice numbed the pain and reduced the inflammation almost immediately.  Unfortunately, I knew deep down the damage was done long before this 20 miler and if I hadn't ignored it for so long I wouldn't be in so much pain.  I'm SO GOOD at over training though.  I guess that's why the injuries that do occasionally plague me are OVER USE injuries.

One my way home I stopped for my 80lbs. of ice and prepared the ritual ice bath as soon as I got home.  It may sound crazy, but it felt amazing to climb into the tub filled with ice water.  If I had someone to put more ice in I might have stayed in longer than my usual 20 minutes.  But I was hungry and needed to shower and get dressed so I drained the tub and washed the salt and stink off myself before inhaling some lunch and packing for the weekend.

By the time afternoon rolled around I had to load up my car and head to NH for the first of two triathlons scheduled for the weekend.  I had the finished double chocolate cheesecake in the front seat and the drive was about 2 hours.  I really need to find a safer way to travel with cheesecakes because no matter how far I'm going it's the most stressful thing ever trying to drive carefully watching the cheesecake slip and slide in the seat knowing there is not a whole lot I can do if I need to stop quick and it goes flying forward on the seat.  Also, car seats are not level and it is impossible to get a serving plate to sit level in the seat no matter how I wedge things under it to try and make it level.

Here is the cheesecake before the ride and during for a little visual of what I'm talking about:

See the sliding!  NOT COOL.  Still tasted amazing, but I wish it looked a little prettier.

I arrived in Wolfeboro, NH just in time.  I got into my friend Ann's house with the cheesecake seconds before the skies opened up and rain started coming down in sheets.  I kind of hoped that the rain would continue the next day so I could bail on the triathlon guilt free.  My foot was still really sore.  I had purchased a special brace to sleep with Thursday after the shorter runs in the week started to hurt.  I was icing and resting and hoping for the best, but I know rest is what I really needed.

Saturday when I woke up it was still pouring out so I was thinking that maybe I could spend the day hanging out and eating cheesecake.  I had breakfast and Ann and I headed to the start area of the race.  Her family owns the house across the street from the start so we parked there.  Just as we pulled in, the rain stopped and the sun came out.  Thanks Mother Nature.  My foot felt ok, so I figured what the heck.  It would be fine for the swim and bike and if I had to I could just bail on the run.  I got a little nervous before the race.  Butterflies in my stomach and that little voice in my head saying  "Are you sure this is a good idea?" but as soon as the swim started that all went away.

It was a 3/4 mile swim, 15 mile bike, and 4.2 mile run.  The course is really challenging.  Lots of hills and the swim is LONG!  The run course starts right out of transition up this super steep climb that I can usually get halfway up before I have to stop and walk.  This year I decided to just walk the hill and run from the top.  Good strategy because I can walk it just about as fast as I can run it because it's so steep and I wasn't totally spent at the top.  I actually felt really good on the run.  Finished strong and looked at the clock with a little disappointment because I was about 15 minutes slower than the previous year, but knowing that I'm nursing an injury, I ran 20 miles the day before and I didn't really train I was happy to just finish.  And I got 5th place in my age group so I'd say that's pretty awesome.  Still no chunk of granite for me, but I did get to hold a piece and pretend.
In the photo with me is Ann's friend Jim (the actual winner of the Granite chunk), he got 3rd place with his team in the 50+ coed division, just barely beating Ann's team only because Ann's swimmer stopped to rescue a struggling swimmer.  Next year, watch out team Pratt will be back with a vengance.

After the race, I got a free massage for my foot and relaxed by the lake with Ann's family and friends.  We demolished the cheesecake and I learned that Ann's friend's grandmother Ruth grew up in Portland only a few blocks away from my house and she went to the rival high school in Portland.  Then after she got married she moved a few blocks away from where I work now!  SMALL WORLD!  I told her it's like we're sisters born 60 years apart from each other.  hahaha  It was great chatting with her.  I really had a wonderful day.  I left around 5:30 and headed back to Lowell.

Got home around 7:30 and ate a quick dinner and went to bed.  Triathlon number two for the weekend was in the morning.  SheROX Devens.  I woke up a little late and hustled to get dressed and get my things together.  I scrambled out the door and headed to the race.  I got there and there were no signs and the directions on the race packet were no where near the race.  I was lost and panicking.  I like to get to triathlons early to get the best rack position in transistion and scope out the competition and the layout of the race.  Well, that wasn't going ot happen.  I found the parking and it was over a mile away from the start.  I biked up to the registration table and grabbed my numbers and ran into transistion to set up.  Got body marked and found Kim.  Cool as a cucumber, totally ready for her first tri.

I, on the otherhand, was a complete basketcase.  There was no space on the bike rack and because the race was huge for newbies, the girl set up next to my bike had spread out and entire beach towel next to her bike taking up the space of 3 bikes.  I'm sorry whoever you are, but I moved your shit because that IS NOT COOL.  I finally relaxed and got my game face on with about 15 minutes to go til the start.  Kim and I walked from transition to the swim start.  It was down a LONG paved path, about a quarter of a mile!  That was going to suck coming out of the water.  Oh well.

The race started and the water was ridiculously warm.  Like every single woman there skipped the lines at the port-o-potties and went in the lake.  I was fast in the water and looking around there were only a handful of red swim caps in front of me coming out of the water.  Half of them could have been younger, so I was confident I was doing really great.  I got on my bike and immediately started picking girls off one at a time blowing past them.  The bike course was two laps on rolling hills with one really long downhill.  It was FAST!  I averaged 20mph in the first lap, then slowed a little in the second lap as fatigue set in.

Before I knew it I was done and running.  The first mile of the run was trail and it kinda hurt my foot, but after that the tendons loosened up and I was ok.  Found a few more girls with 30-34 ages on their calves and pushed past them.  I finished strong and didn't think I would place because I was friggin exhausted from the last 3 days of killing myself.  Didn't really care because I was just doing it for fun.  I walked up the finish area to cheer for Kim as she came in.  She was only about 5 minutes after me (I had a 3 minute headstart in a different swim wave than her).  She did AWESOME!  And had a gigantic smile on her face coming across the finish line!  SO PROUD OF HER and wicked excited to have someone to do triathlons with next summer because she is totally hooked.  hahaha

I was going to do some laundry and grocery shopping and clean my house a little when I got home, but opted for a nice nap on the couch instead.  I earned it.  Afterall, I'm resting today and can do all that stuff after work.  For the benefit of my foot I think I will be resting all week and icing.  I have a tennis ball under my desk to massage my foot with and I scheduled an appointment with my acupuncturist or a little tweaking.  I have about 6 weeks until Chicago so I'm going to proceed with caution and get to that start line as healthy as possible.  Only one more triathlon left this summer and it's a half ironman, but other than that, my focus is Chicago.  I am not going to PR, but I would like to finish in a respectable time feeling good enough to enjoy the experience.  48 days to go!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Is August over yet?

Seriously, I love dogs, but NOT the dog days of summer.  It's ridiculous.  This is NOT fun running weather.  Yeah, it's not in the 90s or reaching 100 degrees, but check out the low temps - all near 70 so no matter when you run it's hot.  I've been getting up super early to do my long runs, but it doesn't make a difference.  It's already in the mid-70s by the time the sun comes up and the humidity is unbearable.  I heard the weather guy on the radio yesterday saying that the humidity was going to peak tomorrow with a dewpoint of 70 degrees.  Just in time for me to do a nice 18 mile run.  UGH!  I would take 3 feet of snow right now and a serious nor'easter over this disgusting weather.

My trend of resting more than running has continued.  I guess in a way it's good, but it makes me sad when I look at my training log and see such low numbers for weekly mileage and so many "R"s on the chart for rest days.  Last week I ONLY ran on Wednesday and Saturday.  I would feel better about it if I made up for it with miles on my bike, but I'm not even doing that.  I have 30 days until my half ironman and I have barely been on my shiny new bike except in sprint triathlons and a few short rides.  I really need to get some serious miles done, but I'm struggling.  I'm so wiped out after my long runs that even if I don't have a race the next day and I COULD go for a long bike ride I'm completely useless and end up resting instead.

My 16 mile run last weekend was probably one of my worst runs ever.  I felt ok and my legs were fine.  My heart rate was in the right range, but one number was significantly higher than it usually is and it really pissed me off.  My pace per mile was about 2 minutes slower than my marathon pace.  It took me longer to finish 16 miles than it took to do 18 the week before.  The entire time I was looking at my Garmin in disbelief.  I felt FINE, but it was telling me I was basically crawling and barely moving at all.  I described it like running on the surface of the sun UNDERWATER!  The air was so thick and it was near 80 even though I started at 5:00am!  Oh and to make matters worse, I forgot my sodium pills and ran out of water.  I passed a McDonalds and was able to refill my bottles, but at that point I was 12 miles into the torture and I had already stopped sweating.  I finished the run, grabbed some water and coconut waters, then jumped in my car and went to Fire Fighter bootcamp.

I really need to get some photos up because I don't think I do it justice describing it in words.  Last Saturday we continued the "recruit training" and added hose drills to the evolutions we learned the week before with the ladders.  There were 3 and 4 inch fire hoses, 'Lieutenant Dan' the legless dummy that weighs 180lbs, three giant tires, sledgehammers, extention ladders, and SCBA air tanks spread out all over the parking lot.  We warmed up with laps around the building again, of course I already warmed up with 16 miles.  I made sure to tell Brian to encourage hydration breaks because of the excessive heat and humidity.  In the 30 minute drive from my house to the fitness studio I drank 2 coconut waters and 2 bottles of spring water.  I brought 3 additional bottles for during class.

We split up into platoons again.  I was the leader of Platoon B - which I renamed Team Badass.  One of the women on the team had scrapped her knee on an extension ladder and was bleeding so I thought it was appropriate.  I thought up cadence for our warm up laps (this is the random sort of stuff that pops into my brain sometimes).  I wasn't sure if the team would play along, but shared my creativity with them anyway:

I don't know what you've been told,
if you're not working out you're just getting old.
I don't want to see you rest!
Resting won't make you the best!

It was funny, but most of them were too busy running to play along.  Once we finished the warm ups we started right into the hose drills.  SO FUN!!!!  It's true - Firemen DO have big hoses.  Tehehehe  The drills are impossible to describe, but basically we dragged, pulled, carried, rolled, and swung hose lines in every way you can possibly imagine.  We also worked in some of the ladder drills from the previous week, a new dummy drag technique, more tire flips and sledgehammer swinging, and simulated ladder raising with rope and weights on a pulley system.  We took frequent water breaks and I was dripping sweat (good thing because I was a little worried after the long run).  Finished up class and then headed home for a hot shower and some lunch. 

Lucky for me I did not have a race on Sunday.  I woke up super early anyway because I had a splitting headache as if I was out late the night before boozing at the local bars.  All the pains of severe dehydration without the fun (well, not most people's idea of fun, running/shuffling 16 miles and then doing bootcamp IS fun to me).  I spent the entire day sleeping on my couch.  I didn't even go grocery shopping.  I literally got up, got a huge glass of water and then settled on my couch still in my PJs and fell back asleep for pretty much the whole day only waking up occasionally to answer a text message or refill my cup of water.

Monday I rested more.  I felt better, but I didn't have time to do anything because after work I went directly to a meeting with the race director for the American Lung Association Fight for Air Stair Climb.  Oh yeah, it's time to start planning again and time to start harassing Lowell Fire to get their lazy butts involved.  I really hope this year I can not only get a few more fire departments to participate, but I would LOVE to see a few more of my friends get involved too.  If you're reading this, this is your heads up, mark your calendar - February 2, 2013 - I will be talking about it for the next 6 months and the sooner you register and get on board the sooner I will stop bugging you about it.  Registration opens September 1st and if you use the code "STEPUP2" you save $15 and get a free training t-shirt.  Plus, the sooner you sign up the easier it is to get the $100 fundraising minimum met - $10 from 10 friends and you're done!
The rest of the week was typical August - hazy, hot, humid, and HORRIBLE.  I did 7 miles along the Charles Tuesday and felt pretty good.  Then Wednesday I did 6 miles in Ayer with Kim a little warmer and a little slower, but still felt ok.  Thursday I felt good, but decided to rest because my heart rate was high in the morning and I didn't sleep well.  Today I'm resting again - going to the movies with Erin after I get out of work.  Then I need to get home and go to bed early because I plan to do 18 miles tomorrow and then bootcamp.  With the forecast I'm not sure how it's going to go so I'm going to start early again and remember my sodium this time and maybe even somehow carry extra water or leave some water out somewhere or arrange to meet a friend half way (looking for volunteers, wink wink, nudge nudge).  I just hope it goes better than the 16 last weekend.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

There is something seriously wrong with me

This past weekend I got up at 4am on Saturday to run 18 miles so that I could then rush straight from finishing my run to participate in a Fire Fighter Bootcamp.  I wake up at 4am every morning, but I usually don't lace up and run 18 miles right away, I DO like to allow my body to wake up a little first.  Anyway, it had to be done.  I headed out the door with my reflective gear and blinking lights on and started running.  It was cool, but very humid out.  I felt pretty good.  The miles went by fast, but not as fast as I would like.  My pace was about 30 seconds per mile slower than my goal marathon pace and about a minute per mile slower than I was last year at this time.

I didn't care so much what my garmin said for pace, I was more concerned with the time, unsure if I would make it back to my house in time to hop in my car and drive 30 minutes to Melrose to my friend's fitness studio (Fit Lifestyle Studios).  I was pretty consistant and stayed on track even over the hills in Tewksbury and the last 3 miles back to my house I actually picked up the pace.  I made it home with about 10 minutes to spare so I filled up a travel cup with ice and coconut water, grabbed a few bottles of water and an extra coconut water and I was out the door.
I made it to the studio at exactly 9:00 just in time for the bootcamp class.  The entire parking lot was converted to what I imagine Fire Fighter academy might look like.  Ladders all over the place, SCBA air tanks, sledge hammers, giant tires, and a 180lb. dummy.  Everyone slowly gathered and Brian, the instructor/fire fighter/owner of the studio (my friend Jenine's husband), started us off with a light warm up of 5 laps around the building in two line formation divided into two teams - Platoon A and Platoon B.  Technically, I had already warmed up with 18 miles, but I played along and did a light jog while chatting with some of the other participants.

After the warm up Brian explained that the 6 week class would build on itself and mirror some of the training that real fire fighters go through (although I kind of hope they get a much more severe ass beating workout).  We would start with ladder drills and then do hose drills and combine them and do a final challenge at the end of the 6 weeks.  He breifly explained the difference between ladder companies and engine companies and what they each do and what we would be doing.  Then the drills started.  Each platoon started in a diffferent area.  My group did these drills first - lunges and ladder lifts, simulated ladder raising with a weight on a pulley, sledge hammer swinging hitting a giant tire, step ups with a SCBA tank on and simulated venting a ceiling with an 18lb body bar, and climbing a ladder with a hose pack and SCBA tank.  I had done the class once last year so I was familiar with the exercises.  Some of the newbies definitely had a learning curve.

The second set of drills involved agility ladders and more laps around the building - crawling up an extension ladder on the ground, moving down an agility ladder in push up formation with hands in the boxes and then with feet in the boxes, then moving through the agility ladder feet in and out along the length of the ladder.  There were a few stragglers in the group and a variety of fitness levels so a few of us were ahead.  I was dripping sweat and feeling the burn while some other people were struggling to keep up.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  That was me 5 years ago.  I was happy to encourage them and keep them moving.

We moved on from there to two more sets of drills.  First tire flips which requires at least 2 strong people or 3-4 not so strong people.  We flipped the tire 3 times in one direction, turned around and flipped it back to the starting position and everyone stopped, I said Brian didn't tell us to stop, let's keep going.  Some of the class looked at me like I was crazy.  I repeated myself and said, you signed up for this, you paid for it, there is limited amount of time, let's get our money's worth.  Finally, a few people joined me and we made another lap with the tire flips before Brian told us to switch with the other platoon.  The next thing we did was in pairs we did squat presses with an extension ladder above our heads.  I started out strong, but after about 10 reps my arms were getting fatigued for sure.

We wrapped up the class with another round of the first set of drills going to any station that you didn't get to in the first round and then we cleaned up all the equipment and put it away.  I was completely drenched and totally spent.  Only about 10:30 in the morning and I had already run 18 miles and done a 90 minute bootcamp.  I'd say that was a pretty productive morning.

I went home, cleaned my house a little, showered and ate some lunch, then crashed on my couch for an afternoon nap.  My brother's friend Kristen was coming down to stay over because we were both doing a triathlon in Lowell the next morning.  I had planned for us to walk downtown for dinner because it was Folkfest weekend and I thought it would be nice to check it out, but as the afternoon passed and evening arrived so did some crazy torential downpours.  Kristen arrived and it was still pouring so we changed plans and went to Bertuccis for pizza instead.  We settled in for the night and watched a little of the Olympic games and chatted about the race then went to sleep.

I woke up before my alarm clock the next morning around 5:25am.  I tried not to wake Kristen up.  Got dressed, made some tea and breakfast.  She got up and we were ready to race.  Around 6:30 we loaded up the cars and drove to the race, about 2 miles up the road from my house.  Got our numbers and started to set up in the transition area.  It was cool and cloudy, not a bad day for a race.  Then it started raining.  It went from ideal conditions to miserable in an instant.  At least we would be in the water and wet anyway for the swim portion of the race, but I was a little worried about being cold on the bike.

The race started and the 1 mile swim was two laps and we had to come out of the water, run along the beach and then get back in.  That kind of sucked.  I actually felt ok in the water.  The first lap was rough and I couldn't relax and breathe.  I was a lot more comfortable in the second lap and I looked at my watch when I got out of the water in disbelief when I saw 33 minutes.  That's 5 minutes faster than my last olympic triathlon swim.  My mom and brother had come down to watch and cheer for me and Kristen and I saw them on the beach as I headed to the transition and said to them, "Thank God that part is over" I glanced behind me and saw a few more swim caps still in the water and that for me was a win - not last!  YAY!

Got on my bike and started passing people like it's my job.  I LOVE the bike!  It was a two lap course mostly flat with some hills on the back side and a really crappy section of about 2-3 miles of grooved pavement.  I finished the first lap in about 44 minutes and I started doing the math in my head.  If I could do the bike in 90 minutes, the swim was 33, if I could finish the run in under an hour I'd be under 3 hours and I'd have a new PR!  I pounded the pedals and felt the burn in my legs fatigued from the day before and screaming at me to stop.  I ignored them and powered on.  My legs actually felt pretty good in the second lap on the bike as if they accepted the abuse and torture I was subjecting them to.  I finished the bike and forgot to look at my watch, but I knew I was under 90 minutes and on track for my new PR.  Just a short easy 6 mile out and back run to do to claim glory.

I quickly slipped on my running shoes and my hat and sprinted out of transition.  I felt really good.  How was that possible after all the stuff I did the day before?  I was amazed and somehow I just kept going and picked up the pace.  There were no mile markers, but I knew roughly where they were from the tri I did a few weeks ago on the same course.  I was doing great and under 10:00 miles.  I made it to the turn around and started counting the people I passed pushed a little harder to pick up the pace.  I passed a guy walking and told him there were less than 2 miles to go - "gut it out and finish strong!"  I told him it's just a little suffering for a lot of glory.  He started to run and I could hear him shuffling behind me and then he picked it up and jogged along side me thanked me for the encouragement and kicked a little harder to pass me and continue.  Yay!  I LOVE that!  Never ever give up!  I knew there was about a mile to go and I looked at my watch two or three times and did the math in my head, not only was I going to be under 3 hours, but I was going to PR by over 20 minutes!  I finished in 2:54!!!!  My previous Olympic distance PR was 3:18.
Seriously, something not normal about that.  I ran 18 miles and did a 90 minute bootcamp class and then friggin crushed it in an olympic triathlon the next day on severely fatigued muscles.  I think it's just proof that I am built for endurance sports and I NEED to do an ultramarathon to really test that theory.  I mean it seems as if I only do better when I'm tired and sore.  My half marathon PR was the day after an 18 miler too.  It's crazy the ability I have to ignore the warning signs of pain and keep moving and pushing my body past where most normal people would have stopped.  Oh and did I mention I got 2nd place in my division (there were only 2 of us, but whatever, I'll take it).

I rewarded myself with Life Alive for lunch and then a nice long nap after I got home.  Monday and Tuesday I also rested and relaxed.  I had planned on going for a bike ride yesterday after work but decided to rest one more day and it was ovbious that I needed it because I fell asleep on my couch around 5:00 and woke up at 8:00 and just went to bed.  Pretty awesome weekend overall and I CANNOT wait to do it again this weekend.  I don't have a race Sunday, but I DO plan on running 16-18 miles Saturday morning and going to Fire Fighter bootcamp.  Maybe I'll take a few pictures.  We're suppose to do hose drills this week.  So excited!