What’s Next?

So now that triathlon season has come and gone, with zero three-sport races completed (though technically, I guess I did complete one swim, one bike, and one run, for a total of one full complete triathlon), what’s next?

First and foremost, I have to keep working to rehab my left shoulder and arm. It’s definitely weak, but it hurts less every day. It still hurts every day, but it’s to the point where I have to think about if it’s hurting or not – it’s not super persistent. Either that or I’m just getting better at ignoring it. I also need to continue to work on rehabbing my hip. With my arm injury, I let my PT exercises fall by the wayside on my hip and I can definitely tell the difference. It’s a good reminder to just keep up that strength work.

I do have races left on the calendar – all running races. This coming weekend, I’m racing the Army Ten Miler for what I believe is the 11th year. I didn’t intend to streak this race, but I love the race and I love the 10 mile distance, so I’m glad to be running again. Then, Thanksgiving weekend, I’m running the Space Coast Half Marathon for the 7th year. Clearly I don’t mind repeating races. To me, that race has become synonymous with the start of the holiday season. It’s sort of the last relaxing weekend before the holiday insanity starts. (And yes, I realize how ridiculous it sounds to call a race weekend a relaxing weekend.)

I’ve only put a little thought into 2020 so far. I’m running the Disney 10K because it’s on my birthday, then cheering for the half and full. I considered running the half, then decided to save the money for future stupid ideas.

For triathlon season, I have a few races deferred following my injury (thank you, Kinetic Multisports and Racine Multisports). So if the schedules work out, I’ll be doing Fort Ritchie Swimfest (distances TBD, but hopefully the full 4500), the Kinetic Oly, General Smallwood Oly, and possibly the Patriot’s Sprint.

I have officially registered for one triathlon. Rev3 Williamsburg is BACK! I cannot tell you how delighted I am to see this race come back. I love Rev3 races and I love getting to see so many of my friends out on the race course. So I’ll be out there for the Olympic at the end of June.

Mostly, I just need to get back into a solid routine. It’s been a whirlwind of a summer, most of it wonderful, but now that my arm is at about 80%, it’s time to get back to work!

Product Review – Nuun Rest

Disclaimer: I received tubes of Nuun Rest to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!”

 

I’ve been using Nuun products for years, and last year, started drinking Nuun Immunity thanks to an opportunity to try out the product. So when I got a chance to try Nuun Rest and do a review, I gave an emphatic yes.

Nuun Rest is very different from other Nuun products. Rather than a standard electrolyte beverage, Nuun Rest is designed to help with recovery. It contains magnesium, tart cherry, and potassium, all of which have been proven to aid in recovery for athletes.

Did you know that magnesium is important to helping the body restore to a restful state? And that many athletes are magnesium deficient? I had no idea. Magnesium helps calm the nerve functions in large muscle groups and helps to keep the heartbeat steady. Magnesium deficiency actually prevents optimal recovery, so adding a magnesium beverage before bed is definitely helpful, especially on hard workout days.

Tart Cherry is definitely something I’ve heard of recently, as it can help reduce inflammation and muscle soreness. And, of course, our old friend potassium helps muscle relaxation and prevents cramping.

Nuun Rest is best dropped into 4-6 ounces of water, and they suggest trying it in hot water. It comes in two flavors, Lemon Chamomile and Blackberry Vanilla, and personally, I much preferred the Lemon Chamomile hot and the Blackberry Vanilla cool.

Magnesium doesn’t fully dissolve, in this product or any other, so there will be a bit of a residue in your cup. It seems a little less prominent in hot water than in cold, but either way, I found that as I neared the end of the drink, if I swirled my cup, I made sure I got all of that good-for-me magnesium. And then I made sure to rinse out the cup so the residue didn’t dry.

So did it work? That’s definitely a hard one to judge, since recovery is based on so many different elements, but I can honestly say that the nights where I drank Nuun Rest, I woke up feeling like I had slept well and was ready for the day (well, as ready as I ever am at my 5am alarm). It was a great part of my evening routine, helping me wind down at the end of a long day. As I continue to ramp up my running workouts, I think adding in this supplement will be a good piece to my recovery.

While I may not drink it every night, I plan to keep Nuun Rest as part of my routine, especially after a long, stressful day or a big workout push. If you want to try Nuun Rest, you can use the code HYDRATEBIBPRO for 20% off through 10/31 at nuunlife.com.

Race Report – 2019 Patriot’s Olympic Triathlon

This weekend, I finally returned to the race stage after crashing on April 20th. Early in the year, I registered for the Patriots Olympic Triathlon, and it was the one race I opted to not defer after my crash. I really wanted to have something to work towards. I knew it would be tough, but I was dedicated to completing it.

Of course, the incoming hurricane had something to say about it. We were very lucky to not get hit, but thanks to Dorian, the swim was cancelled. The rescue boat was required elsewhere, so we know about the cancellation mid-day Thursday (the race was on Saturday). There were plenty of angry athletes, but I was just disappointed. Obviously, the important thing was that people were kept safe, so I’m glad the rescue boat could be prioritized to where it needed to go. And I was glad to know early so that I could mentally prepare.

My biggest worry was probably the swim. My elbow and shoulder still hurt when I swim. It’s not bad, and swimming doesn’t make it worse or better, but it’s just something I’m going to have to deal with for a while. So having the swim cancelled removed that worry.

It also really removed another big worry, which was a super fast cyclist coming up behind me after the swim. The race turned into a time-trial start, all self-seeded. While there weren’t signs indicating where people should line up, I figured there wouldn’t be any crazy cyclists whizzing past. Sure, there would be some jockeying for position, but nothing like a slow swimmer/expert cyclist coming out of the water later and then trying to crush the competition.

This race, I also had my boyfriend with me as chauffeur, carrier of heavy things, captain of the cheer squad, anxiety battler, and all around super supportive person. I think that definitely helped as well. He kept me out of my head and prevented a lot of stress.

eric shark
He took his cheer squad responsibility very seriously.

He also very proudly wore the shark head, much to the delight of many a toddler. After the race, I asked him how many people he took pictures with, and he said something like “Not too many, only maybe ten or so.” TEN? That’s a lot of people to ask a random stranger for a selfie!

The race also had a half-distance before the olympic, so we got to watch the half athletes go off first, which was helpful in understanding how they were going to do the time-trial start. The bike didn’t actually use the original “bike out” path, so I was confused for quite some time until things got started. I was ready to leave and return the same way, so the description of how the time trial would start made no sense to me until I saw it happen.

I ended up lining up with some other friendly Athenas. We chatted and had a lovely time as we waited for our race to start.

For the start, we walked to the start line and were told to go in pairs in 15-second intervals. We walked/ran across the line and mounted our bikes. And then we were off.

patriots bike mount
Don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall.

The start was a bit scary because we rode along a very narrow path along the side of the road (that would later be part of the run). There wasn’t any jockeying for position because there literally wasn’t any space for it.

Thankfully, that didn’t last terribly long, and then it felt like the race really started. I had done the race before, back in 2017, so I knew it was flat save for one bridge (that I had also ridden many times during Rev3 Williamsburg) so there wasn’t a lot of unfamiliarity here. Flat was a bit of a misnomer – there were some small rollers, and as someone who has done the majority of her training inside this year, they felt larger than they really were. My only goal for this ride was to at least try to stay in my racing zone – though I’ve not done a new FTP test since before my accident, so it’s possible that’s a bit high. My watch is set to beep at me when I’m out of the zone, and well, it did a lot of beeping! I wasn’t really watching my pace, but I knew I was doing well based on the time it was taking me to complete each 5 mile set (my watch beeps and gives me the time for each 5 mile “lap”). My only real goal was to keep to at least 15mph and I was absolutely doing that.

Of course, even with the time trial start, there were still a number of riders (male, of course) who came flying up from behind me. The whole point to the time trial start was to put everyone in generally the right spot pace-wise, so waiting til last to start is kind of a jerk move. I know plenty of people who do it running, and that doesn’t bother me, because there really isn’t much of a safety risk to a fast runner passing you, but as I can attest, a fast cyclist coming past you can cause all sorts of damage. Naturally, there was the expected shifting of positions, where I caught up to other riders or others caught me, but it was the number of riders who came blasting past that I found very frustrating.

Around mile 20, I started to get cocky. I hadn’t crashed! I had made it through the bike! Except not yet. No getting cocky now. I needed to finish the ride first.

And I did. Just under 24 miles (the course was a bit short the last time I rode it too) at 18.1mph.

Bike: 1:17:27

I was off the bike and running into transition. I couldn’t believe I could actually run into transition. I think I was just so excited to have not crashed.

In transition, I just felt like I was moving through molasses. I was sure I was in there for nearly five minutes. It felt like it took me forever. But it didn’t.

T2 (or T1, depending on how you view it): 1:45

I had looked at the run map for this race because I remembered that there was a weird turn and that the last time I raced, a bunch of people had missed it and ended up running a loop backwards. What I didn’t look up was what the course was like, so I had forgotten that a good chunk of it is through a wooded area, on a dirt path. It’s actually really pretty, but it also feels pretty darn deserted.

My goal on the run was to hold my intervals (1:1) and to keep to a sub-14 pace. I really wanted to be closer to 13, but I know where I’m at right now, and knew that might be pushing too hard.

The other thing I forgot about this race was how lonely it feels at some parts of the race. It definitely starts to feel like a bit of a mental challenge, when you feel like you’re the only one out there, no other runners, no spectators. I had to work hard to stay out of my head. I’m a slower runner – there’s no way around it. And I’m okay with that. But when I feel like I’m totally alone while racing, it becomes a mental game. So I just started doing race math. Each mile, how far under 14 minutes was I? How much time was I “earning” each mile? Whatever it takes, that’s what I did.

Look at that air!

I managed to ultimately keep a 13:09 pace, which is fantastic! I was super pleased with how well things turned out.

I made the final turn into the race and pushed myself to cross the finish line strong. I won’t lie – it hurt. But it felt so great to finally be crossing a finish line again.

Run: 1:21:42

Total race time: 2:40:56

I’ve never done a bike-run race before, so it was hard to say just what that time meant, but given that my main goal was to finish under 3:45, I’d say that even if there had been a swim, I would have been safely under that time. So all in all, a great race back! I also came in smack in the middle of the Athenas, which was an awesome place to be (and it was so great to see so many of us out there!). Now I have something to work towards for next season. And a great cheerleader to join me on the adventures.

Ditch the plastic with GoSili Straws

Disclaimer: I received GoSili straws to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I am very vocal about the fact that I am not a fan of outright straw bans, because there are people who do need disposable straws. That said, I’m also a fan of doing what I can to reduce my own plastic waste and I have the physical ability to carry and clean a reusable straw. Even though it might be only a small dent in the overall picture, every little bit helps.

Last year, in an effort to try to reduce my plastic consumption, I picked up some plastic straws and some metal straws. I wasn’t a huge fan of either of them. They weren’t very flexible and with the metal straws especially, I was convinced I was going to somehow chip my teeth on them. Still, they were better than disposable. A lot of places have gone to paper straws, and I have to admit, I kind of hate them. They absorb liquid and get mushy pretty fast.

I had initially avoided silicone straws because in my mind, they were going to be overly squishy and annoying to use. But when the chance came up to try GoSili straws for BibRave, I agreed to try them out and decide on silicone straws for myself.

I was very wrong about silicone straws. These things are great!

First and foremost, they are much more firm than I thought they would be. They are, of course, still squishy and foldable and GoSili has some super cute versions that come in tins that make them easy to carry.

The squishyness is also a way that you can clean them. Because of my prior straw collection, I own a few straw brushes, but an easy way to clean GoSili straws is to put them in soapy water and sort of squeeze and rub sides of the straw (so the interior sort of scrubs against itself). Because they’re a bit translucent, you can also see if the straw is clean, something I definitely can’t do with metal straws.

And of course, the softness makes me much less concerned about hurting myself with the straw. I even felt comfortable enough driving while using a cup and a straw, something that I wasn’t comfortable doing when I was using a metal straw.

GoSili straws come in regular, wide (great for smoothies or boba tea), and extra long. I have mainly used my regular length, and currently have them stashed in various locations (my desk drawer at work, my purse, my kitchen drawer). I don’t understand why, but adding a straw makes it so much easier to drink water throughout the day, which has definitely helped me stay hydrated as I’m picking up my training.

So if you’ve been considering trying out silicone straws, I definitely recommend GoSili. They’re inexpensive, easy to transport, and GoSili even has a recycling program for them once they’ve outlived their usefulness (though I’m not sure how that might happen). They’re easy to clean, dishwasher safe, and can be used in hot or cold liquids. I’m certainly going to continue to use mine and hope to come across someone in a bar or restaurant using one as well.

Getting Ready to Race Again

While a normal summer for me is filled with fun and training and racing, this summer has been filled with fun, but slightly less training and zero racing. I’ve not raced since my crash on April 20.

But that’s about to change.

This weekend, I’m racing my last triathlon of the season (and hopefully the first one I will finish for the season). I’m headed back to Williamsburg for the Kinetic Patriot’s Olympic tri. Initially I had planned to do the oly and the sprint this weekend, but on the advice of my coach and my PT, pulled back to only one race. Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I chose the longer of the two races.

Okay, I actually chose the oly for two reasons.

  1. I hate sprints. I don’t like going all out for an entire race.
  2. I wanted the challenge. I needed something to force me to push my recovery.

About that recovery. How’s it going? Well, things are improving. My elbow hurts every single swim stroke, which is fun. It also hurts when I ride. Doesn’t hurt when I run though, so maybe the run won’t be the part of the race I hate the most this time. I’m working with a PT to rebuild strength and it’s pretty shocking how weak my upper body still is. Considering that when I first got out of my arm brace, I couldn’t do a single press up (not a push up, but just pressing my upper body away from the ground with my hips still on the ground), the fact that I can now support my weight on my arms is pretty amazing. Over the winter, I’m hoping to be able to do some strength work to really rebuild and rebalance.

The race will be interesting. I’m definitely nervous, though not particularly nervous about crashing. I feel like it was such a fluke to get hit by another cyclist that the odds of it happening again aren’t high. Am I going to be nervous at bike mount, which is always crowded, and will it likely freak me out when other racers come flying past me? Absolutely. (Though my swim has gotten slow enough that it may not be an issue.) But mostly, I’m just nervous if I can actually do this. Can I make it through the swim? Open water isn’t like swimming in a pool. Of course, I can always stop at a kayak if my arm needs a break. Will I be fast enough to make cutoffs?

The thing is, the race could go incredibly well. I’ve put in the training. No, I’m not going to be setting any new PRs, but I could have a solid race. But there are a lot of unknowns that definitely have me nervous.

Sleepy pre-ride selfie. Mornings are hard.

But I want to show up. I want to see what happens. If I don’t finish, I don’t finish. I would like to not end up in an ambulance. But honestly, if I manage to cross the finish line under my power, it’s a win.