Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bike part 2

*disclaimer- tomorrow is not on bike-=- tomorrow is on SELF TALK when I arrive at race and see fit people and think that I've never worked out in my LIFE!!!!!  BUT for today:
MORE ON BIKE:  Some strategies that I’ve used on bike before that I need to remember and keep focused on are:  the first 3 miles are as important as the middle 3 as are the final 3.  So, while I want to be measured and calm and smart on the transition into the bike, it is not a 3 mile “warm up”---- I want to get into the bike without blowing my legs up too fast, BUT… I need to remember that those miles are still important. 

One of my best bike split years, I made a list the week before the race of 10 ways to cut off 30 seconds, reminding myseslf that if each of those changes really did make 30 seconds of a difference, that is a 5 minutes faster bike!  That is AMAZING!  And it made a difference.
Some of those things are:
*first mile of bike- get UP TO SPEED before putting my shoes on. (don’t put them on at 10 mph, try to get up to a nice long stretch where I am going strong at 18-20 at least to put them on.
*first few miles being aggressive (still smart)—but getting into a good gear/ giving some good power and getting the legs to work.
*be aggressive on passing: meaning, go for multiple passes at once so you’re not going zig zagging back to the lane line/outside of road each time.
*AT WATER PICKUPS:  this year I am planning on picking up water, YIKES>…… I have to do this well and need to practice.  I am trying to not carry a 2nd water holder behind saddle, so will need a refill at some point, need to be ready to grab bottle without dropping. Then get UP TO SPEED while I refill my between the bars water holder.
*  When the road turns rough and a bit of wind is at my face, take that as an OPPORTUNITY to gear UP INTO IT.  WELCOME IT, even if my pace declines, KEEP MY SAME INTENSITY, OR GREATER.  Be ready for it and work WITH IT as a motivational tool rather than even momentarily being demoralized by it!
*STAY AERO.  DO NOTE COME OUT OF AEROBARS UNLESS it is to STRETCH/ get out of saddle and power/ etc.  STAY LOW/ keep neck relaxed also.
*no time for chat.  (sorry Koen if you are reading this—I think last year we spoke a few sentences.. not this year.  Gotta go).
*miles 35-50 is the tough section/ rough/ doesn’t feel as fast—BUT this doesn’t mean it is ME struggling, so do not READ IT THIS WAY and start trash talking myself.  Continue effort and all is well.  Think nothing of this.  You are doing a half Ironman.  Noone said it would be easy. Ride on.
*sorry if you are reading this and offended but… *if you need to pee on the bike for crying out loud, relax quickly and get it done.  It is weird and unnatural, but don’t waste time and if you can’t, you don’t need to go enough so ride on.
*be prepared with food and anything in your bento box- no struggling with ziplocks/getting no-doz pills out, etc.
*don’t waste words or energy on others who are annoying you/ doing wrong things/blocking/not letting me pass appropriately.  Annoying, but I’ve learned from so many races that it just is, and there is nothing I can do to EDUCATE people here, so carry on.

BREAKING THE RACE UP into manageable segments:
First 5 miles: set the stage and transition strong.  (as well as staying safe in those first miles when things haven’t spread out).

5-26 miles:  First HALF:  push 8.5/10 effort, except a bit less- 8.35ish… yes, this  makes sense to me as a gymnast.

26-41:  15 mile segment to STAY STRONG:  this is a nice time to use my mantra of, “IS THIS YOUR BEST”.  I have always asked my kids this and then it makes me use it on myself also.  When I ask myself this, I often find that I respond with an awareness of, “hmmm I actually have MORE!” 

41-56:  DIG it out here with an element of being gentle from 50-56 miles.  “DIG” has been a mantra I’ve been using.  I feel sometimes like I need to SCRAPE the insides of me with my effort- like digging every last bit of a pumpkin strands when carving a pumpkin.  It makes sense to me and I find myself noticing that I do have a bit more when I say this word.
 *55-56 miles:  remember- mentally reserve energy and get yourself to a place of calm and “poker face”.. yes you’ll be getting on the run but it is NOT OVER when the run begins- LONG WAY LEFT- feel no excitement yet.  Do not be excited- it takes too  much of your energy.  Stay calm and keep working.  Have FUN, but “this is a workday, Sharon”!!!!



Tuesday, May 30, 2017


The bike is usually a strong point for me, and I need to make sure that this year I don’t rely/relax on it, but USE IT!!

I want to have my BEST bike ever.  My goal is UNDER 2:30.  Which is a PR by a little over a minute.  I’ve always hovered 2:32- 2:36.
So the entire focus is FIERCE and focused and every second counts.
Yes, I have to be smart, but I want to GO FOR IT>
This means:
1.       FOCUS
3.      FOCUS
4.      Relaxing THROUGH the work…. Remembering that it is not THE FINISH LINE at the end. (so a bit of mental chill through the work).
5.      FOCUS

I am pretty confident of my bike right now and happy with the training I’ve had.  I’ve pushed hard.  I think I’m going to have a great bike/ more on this in later post.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Eagleman Run, Part 1.

Yep, it’s only day 2 and I’m focusing on the run, whaaaaaaaaaa???????!!!!!
Those of you who are reading this and haven’t done Eagleman (EM)….. the run is hot, literally hot as hell (and I love hot)… but it is ridiculous and it frankly isn’t running.  I always get a little pissed during the run thinking, this is not even a SPORT that I have trained! 
EVERY 2nd weekend in June in Cambridge, MD is 95 degrees (minimum) with 80+ % humidity.  It is frankly dangerous.  (there is also NO shade cover- actually, backtrack- last year they changed the course and there is now about ½ mile (of 13 miles running) of shade cover --- and still zero on bike)….
Anyway: you can run 7 min pace ½ marathons, and EM is just a blessing if you survive at any pace.
*you can kind of see the heat here... enough said:)
I have a hard time keeping my MENTAL “edginess”—not sure the word for it, but like my “hardness” or fierceness/ intensity/ drive……. I find myself “softening” and beginning to say things to myself like, Ohhh Sharon, just do what you can do….. enjoy the day!!!  And I do want to enjoy the day, BUT not jogging or walking.  I honestly before have like clapped my hands a few times to get myself to “harden back up” my focus and drive and to “snap” back into caring???  I know it sounds odd.  I take 2 No-Doz pills at the end of the bike because I also wonder if I’m running out of caffeine and I believe the caffeine helps me be MENTALLY ALERT and focused.  Main thing: I feel like I lose some physical performance because my mind allows me to “go soft.”
*********So… to work on this:  I’ve worked on my long runs on really trying to KEEP EFFORT to the end.  Even if I feel my PACE isn’t the pace I wish it was, I want my EFFORT to be where it needs to be (regardless of the resulting pace)..  I’ve done lots of fast finish runs, lots of runs with ¼ mile repeats at END, or 30 sec sprint at end to keep my legs fast even when they are tired.  But again: really… that is the PHYSICAL part.  I have to mentally never lose my DRIVE. 
The hard thing is BALANCING the drive with the length/patience/long term mentality of the race.   What I mean by this is:  I cannot use my drive in the first 2 miles.  Even though I WANT TO.   I have to coach myself to literally talk myself through staying CALM… and not using up any energy here- no MENTAL energy (and not too much physical also!).  A tendency I have is to get off bike, get to feet and think:  HERE I AM- last part of race!!!  HOLD ON there… this can be 1:40-2 hours…. This really isn’t “the last part”… there is a LONG TIME TO GO Batman….. so I need to shut my mind of and my plan is to mentally be a bit non-chalant for 4 miles.  I will coach myself through *transitioning, *being moderate, *being CALM, *not thinking too much about time or pace, just settling into what I know for me is my smart INTENSITY…. Am I at a good place.  **I will not let myself think about THE END at all here.  4 miles is just the first step of this run.  Just set the stage here.

 (above pic in 2014-- this is a part that I need to calm down on.  it is out of T2 and people there cheering and it is hot and I need to basically zone out/ not think about people/ not think about holy MOLY how am I going to SURVIVE.. I have and I will).
Eagleman happens to be a race of attrition--- I see it every year.  People begin walking and just doing enough to finish.  And you end up seeing more than half the people walking and so it becomes just… WHAT YOU DO…. AND NO.. IT IS NOT WHAT I DO.  I will NOT walk through the aid stations.  Just because I see others doing that, this is NOT MY RACE.  Walking 1 minute each mile through the aid stations leads to a 13 min slower race- NO WAY.  I need to remember.. there is no pause button at the aid stations.  I know I need the aid, I am so thankful  for the ups of ice, etc…. but I am committed to NOT  WALKING.
2nd FOUR MILES: (miles 4-8):  So, if my first 4 were settling in, this is… “settling in stage 2”… I know, maybe that sounds like no plan, but it is…. It is more mentally important to:
*keep my arm cadence
*run tall with my form/ get my feet off ground when they want to plod slower/ lean from ankles which keeps my momentum….
*use my mantras. I will be hot.  At Eagleman I sometimes think my face skin is going to start a fire.  And my shoulders.  I can feel it.  I love the heat, so it always surprises me how much I know this is working against me/ normally I welcome CRAZY INTENSE HEAT!!  But, I feel this and realize I need to be careful.  This year a focus I’m going to try is to when my mind wanders to heat/temperature/ and a whoa is me attitude about the extreme conditions, I need to stop the EXTERNAL focus on environment and go back to internal/ form/ MY RUN/ keeping MY RACE just as real!
*Every mile is a “race goal”- BUT… I cannot get too ahead of myself making something big (13 miles) into too many annoying small goals.  It is always a good reminder to myself during the run that a faster mile makes the race so much more doable—it often doesn’t pay to slow down and just be OUT there burning up for longer! 
*My effort for this 2nd set of 4 miles I want to be at maybe 8/10ish.  On flat- typically I would be loving to hold 7:30-s, BUT… my overall goal for this race is to average 8’s for the entire run (8 MAX is goal.. I want to be UNDER 8’s… so I would like to keep these at 7:40/45 if at all possible.) But… again, it is truly the EFFORT in this race that I need to guage.

When I hit mile 8, I am going to take a 1 mile “get ready” mile… TO FINISH. This doesn’t mean I lay down and try to roll along the ground for amile, BUT…. Stay relaxed physically and mentally and get my thoughts together for the final push (pain).
Mile 9-13:
Here it is:  there is no way I will be comfortable.  There have been times when I swear I am running with no legs and my run is all arms.  There have been years where I ask myself why I thought this was fun, and that I’m never doing it again… (and then 15 min after finish line I am SO set to do again)…. There have been years where I stop on the side of the road a few times waiting a few seconds to see if I”ll get sick.  But there also was a year when I KNEW, if I did my 100%, I could come in under 5 hours.  And I will never forget that feeling of using every thing…. Mind and body connecting… I remember saying to myself, run like your heels are on fire…. And I KNEW a HUGE goal was about to be… half scared, but I TOTALLY took it to my max that year!  It was an AMAZING feeling.  I want that again.
So, that is what I want to channel.  An AMAZING finish.  Make no joke, I KNOW this feels amazing to finish, but it TAKES guts and acceptance of pain and a willingness to let go of all fears. 
My miles 9-13 are going to be taken to 9/10 effort approx. (and last mile- just frankly all I have left).
*In my last 70.3 race, I felt pretty horrible and was very tired, but was so proud to keep it together and keep pushing strong.  One of the things I remember and will never forget was that I took about an entire mile (around mile 10) where I was HOT also there/ just in the open sun and roads and feeling beat down on…. But I knew we were going to the ocean the next day, so for a mile, I talked through all of these ocean things to myself- the sensation of the cool water on my skin, floating on waves, the feeling of soft sand on my feet, etc.  It helped so much for a mile.  Since I am going to the race on my own, I may end up taking a mile to visualize going into the water immediately after the race to cool off.  (last year I didn’t recover very well and I think I was in the heat for too long after without going to cool off) (as ONE of the things!—more on that later- I need to make sure that doesn’t happen again!!!)
So the run…. It is long.  I am ready.  I can do it.  It isn’t easy.  It will be a perfect balance of focusing and letting go, pushing myself with complete humbleness and truth to where my capabilities lie…
A balance of putting 6 months of training on the line, but taking patience to let it happen.

I was 3rd in my age group last year, and this year I would love to be in top 3 again.  (I want to qualify for Worlds in TN in September).  It will come down to the run- to not giving up, to remembering the training I did, and taking some risks on myself.  It is going to be worth it!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

2 weeks until Eagleman 2017

Eagleman is 2 weeks from NOW.  I am so excited and I feel ready, but know I have 2 weeks of prep still to go, and am ready to stay focused for that.
My two weeks of prep is heavy in MENTAL prep… For me, this is a huge part of race day and GETTING THROUGH it… and getting through it to the BEST of my ability.  I develop mantras, identify possible scenarios that could happen and how to deal with, and create opportunities for complete success by envisioning how I want to FEEL.
Today I am starting with the swim, which is a tough spot for me.

Swim is my worst.  Last September, I was DEVOTED to ensuring that this year I was a faster swimmer, and unfortunately I don’t think I am there.  I may be a more “comfortable” swimmer- I may love it a little bit more and feel more at ease, strong in my stroke, but honestly, it unfortunately hasn’t translated into times.  I hit a set back when  my back went out in November/December and even swimming was problematic for my back for a bit, and since then I haven’t come back with the INTENSITY that I wanted to, BUT.. I am still READY… My swim in Florida was a very fast ½ IM pace for me, so I’m not sure if I was
a.      Scared of the gators
b.      Maybe I was faster
c.      Maybe the course was faster- it was easy sighting for me and I do think I did a real good job sighting, plus there was no current in the lake we were in.
REGARDLESS, I am ready for EM swim, but there are some things that I need to remind myself of.
***Swim start:  I want to make sure I have warmed up a bit. I plan to take some “throw away shoes to the swim start area so I can just leave the, but that way my heart rate has been up already.
I have a tendency about 90 seconds into swim to have not a full panic, BUT… a point where I am like HUH, WHAT, I FEEL THIS!!  Surprisingly, I always feel TIGHT IN MY LEGS- like my LEGS ARE SUFFOCATING and not getting air?! Weird.  But the main thing is that I remind myself that I feel that and yes, swim another 1-2 minutes and that feeling will be gone, so do yoga breathing until then and I will be FINE FINE FINE!!
WHAT ARE MY GOALS for the swim?

I would love to swim 36-37 minutes, BUT I know this course has often taken me 40 and sometimes 43. It is a river, there is a current, things happen, so ultimately, my goal will not be so much TIME, but my ACTIONS/PERFORMANCE IN WATER.  I want to start strong, stay smooth and relaxed, BUT WORKING.  Eagleman, I often end up feeling through the water like yea yea, this is good, I’m doing so great… and I think maybe I just stick with that and forget to WORK at the LEVEL OF RACE DAY!  I certainly don’t need to “race” the swim, BUT… I need to BEGIN. THE. DAY.  And those words will be my mantra this year for the swim.  BEGIN. THE. DAY.:  the swim ISN’T going to make or break my day, but it sure will BEGIN it.  I will feel comfortable in the water, but at least the 2nd half I want to be at a place of strong EFFORT.

I intend to set my watch every 8 minutes to beep, and that will let me know when the 16 min mark is to def KEEP FOCUSED through that CENTER SECTION when things seem blah… and then 24 minutes to ramp up, then 32 to GO GO to end.
I am completely okay getting out with heart rate up (not TOO high) but I won’t be SURPRISED or worried by this.  My arms will calm down on bike/ and thus my hr will go down (until LEGS get that soaring again!)

Ughhhhh… in the next 2 weeks I will practice sighting and also make sure I am using my tinted goggles for sun…
I realize swim will not make or break my race.
I am committed to staying strong no matter what my watch says out of the river, BUT... I am going to go STRONG.