Friday Five

Happy Friday!  We’ve made it!  Monday was a holiday, and the weekend was perfect, but for some reason, we still attempted to cram five days of work into the four workdays in the week.  Needless to say, I’m so glad it’s Friday.  I had a couple of topics rolling around in my head for today’s post, but couldn’t decide on any one in particular, so here are five unrelated things.  Because I can.

1.  Yesterday, I booked my next big trip!  Well, my sister booked it.  In August, 2018, we’re doing a Disney Cruise to Northern Europe!  I’m super excited to go, and also super grateful that the cruise doesn’t have to be paid off for over a year, because I still haven’t figured out how to grow money on trees.  Of course, a few of the ports are places that I’ve been before (which is funny, considering I’ve been very few places in Europe), but it’s also been around 15 years, so it will be great to go back.

2.  In an attempt to read more “random” books, since I no longer regularly peruse a bookstore (so sad), I signed up for Book of the Month (referral link).  I love subscription boxes but didn’t like the idea of just getting any random book every month, so BOTM is perfect.  It only costs $9.99, and on the first of every month, you login and are offered five book options.  You can read the blurbs and why they were picked for the box.  Then you can choose your book (or you can opt to purchase multiple books, all for $9.99 each).  AND you can skip a month if you don’t like any of the selections.  I’m only on my first month, but am totally engrossed by the book I chose.  I had to force myself to stop reading last night.  (I won’t recommend til I finish – because reading a great book only to loathe the ending is the worst.  But I have high hopes.)

3.  I am still loving my Instant Pot.  I have to admit, I’m not cooking “meals” in it, or really even anything that I would consider recipes, but it’s awesome as I’m prepping my lunches for the week.  Super fast sweet potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and easy main dishes by throwing in chicken breasts and a jar of salsa.  At some point, I will actually cook a recipe in it (chicken and salsa doesn’t really count), but so far it’s definitely helping me eat better.

4.  My plans to do more crafty things have… not been going all that well.  Maybe I’ll rectify that this weekend.

5.  Last weekend, I built my cats a litterbox.  (Does that count as crafting?)  By “built,” I mean I cut a door in a Rubbermaid box.  I followed these instructions, but I don’t put the lid on because that never goes well with my cats.  I’m hoping it helps contain… things… a bit better.  If not, I’m not out a ton of money, so that’s a plus.  So far, so good.

Ending on that note just goes to show how much I’m a crazy cat lady I’m becoming.  Might as well embrace reality, right?

Wednesday Workout Recap

Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay

This was a bit of a recovery week after my half marathon.  It’s also when I realized that I’m pretty much rolling right back into another half marathon in a few weeks.

Monday – Travel day and rest day.  It was lovely to wake up at the beach, but leaving was very sad.

Tuesday – Scheduled swim, did a 60 minute easy bike instead.  I got a new roof put on the house today and I think the cats were traumatized by the noise.  When I got home, they were hiding rather than greeting me at the door, so I opted to stay home with them.  Spoiled rotten creatures.

Wednesday – High cadence 60 minute ride

Thursday – 4 mile easy run

Friday – 45 minute walk and strength work

Saturday – 2 hour trainer ride and strength work

Sunday – 6 mile run

The Athena Debate

Every so often in triathlon social media groups, the Athena & Clydesdale debate comes up.  Most recently it was (paraphrased) “I just lost a bunch of weight, and no offense, but I don’t want to be classified as an Athena!”

Yeah, no offense except to everyone who proudly races Athena.

Let’s step back for a minute.  Athena and Clydesdale are weight divisions in triathlon.  According to USAT regulations, an Athena is a woman over 165 pounds and a Clydesdale is a man over 220 pounds.  The general thinking is that it takes more energy to power a larger body over a course, so these groups can be separated out into their own class.  Some races divide it further – Athena under 40 and over 40, for example.

Athena and Clydesdale are opt-in race categories.  If you’re a woman over 165 pounds, you can choose to race in your age group or you can choose to race Athena.  Some races make you weigh in at packet pickup to prove that you make the weight, and I’ve also heard that some races have you weigh in at awards time to ensure that the winners actually meet the qualifications.  But even if you weigh over 165, if you weigh 265 or 365, you don’t have to register as an Athena.  It’s an option.

Last year, I didn’t race Athena.  I was on a weight loss kick and hoped to be at or below 165 by race season.  I was not.  And that’s okay.  I still need to lose weight for my health, but I’m focusing more on healthy diet and healthy lifestyle and not worrying about the scale.  By racing in my Age Group, I kind of missed the camaraderie that comes with racing Athena.  For me, it’s often smaller than my age group, so the wave starts can be more fun.  In a lot of the races I’ve done, the Athenas, Clydesdales, and Novice racers (another personally chosen category designed for newbies) all start together and I love starting with the Novices.  It’s so much fun to hang out pre-race and try to help others not stress about the swim.

Getting to know other Athenas has also been really valuable.  In addition to carrying added weight through the course, Athenas have other unique issues.  Finding kits that fit, finding wetsuits, sports bras, all the things that curvier women deal with.

This year, I decided to race Athena again.  There’s no reason not to.  I’m not ashamed of my weight.  Besides, I’m racing in spandex.  It’s not like the number on the scale tells anyone anything about my body that they can’t already see.

Does this give me a better chance of being on the podium?  Sure, simply because there are fewer people racing in the category.  That said, Athena can still be incredibly competitive and at some races, I will be so far from the podium that it’s laughable to even consider.

People choose to race Athena for a number of reasons.  My thinking is that it’s a valid race classification and if you qualify, why not register?  And if you don’t want to, that’s okay too.  But that doesn’t mean that you should look down on anyone who chooses to race Athena.  We’re all out there doing the same race and covering the same course.

So What’s Next?

congerdesign / Pixabay

With Donna over, my 2017 race season has officially started.  I have at least one race each month through November.  I guess December and January are my “off-season.”  We’ll use that as the excuse for the weight I gained over the holidays.

I’m still trying to figure out my focus for the year.  My first triathlon of the year isn’t until May, but I’ve been swimming, biking, and running through the non-triathlon season because a) I don’t want to lose fitness and b) I’ve discovered that I hate running four or more days a week.  I’ve really been focusing on increasing my bike fitness while simply maintaining on my swim and my run.

But as you might expect, the added bike focus has also led to some improvements in my run.  For both Space Coast and Donna, I didn’t feel incredibly well trained.  I was running about twice a week, one run in around 4-5 miles and the other a long run, increasing up to 11 or 12 miles.  The point of the training was really just to get me through the race comfortably, because I was just running for fun, not to try to set a new PR.

And yet, both races went really well.  My half marathon PR is 2:48:33, set at Shamrock in 2012.   At Space Coast and Donna, I ran a 2:55:14 and a 2:56:56.  Anyone who has worked to cut time from their races can look at those times and say “Yeah, that’s really far off of your PR.”  And in many ways, that’s true.  But in 2012, I was run focused.  Shamrock, which was in March, was my 4th half of the year.  I was running a lot.  I was also pushing for a PR.  At Donna, I stopped for a bathroom break, chatted with some friends, and did a shot of Fireball.  Clearly not a PR race.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m really pleased with these race times.  I’m doing something right in my training.

But triathlon season is looming, so I’m going to have to start putting even more focus on my biking and swimming.  This year, I’m stepping back on the distance and focusing only on the Olympic/International distance.  I loved my 70.3 last year, but I felt like all I ever did was train.  This year, I want to have more time to volunteer at races and cheer on friends and strangers.  I also would like to get more sleep.  And you know, maybe have some non-training fun in there too.

At some point, I’ll probably push to improve my half marathon PR.  Just not this year.  This year is for fun.  And maybe a triathlon PR.

Race Report – 2017 DONNA Half Marathon

Another year, another successful DONNA Half Marathon.

This weekend was the 10th anniversary of the DONNA Marathon and Half Marathon, a race dedicated to finishing breast cancer.  The race is always a hugely positive experience and so much fun to run.  Far from being a sappy sort of event, this race is filled with lots of laughter, great costumes, and amazing spectators.

This is one of those races where you can run it however you want.  If you want to push for a PR, this is a great place to do it. With the exception of the end of the race, it’s fairly flat.  If you are a new half marathoner and aren’t sure how fast you can finish, this is a great race to try, as it’s got a 7 hour time limit for both the half and full, so no 3.5 hour time limit here.  And if you want to see how much you can eat and drink during a course, these spectators have you covered.  I’m pretty sure you could very easily get drunk while running this race if you wanted to.

I’ve run this race for speed and I’ve run this race for fun. This year, I wasn’t aiming for a PR, but I had done some pretty great long runs over the past few weeks, so I decided I wanted to push a bit to see what I could pull out, even though my training hasn’t been run focused.  But I also wasn’t out to kill myself.  One thing that I worried would be working against me was the weather.  This year was predicted to be warm.  Perfect weather for hanging out on the beach, not great weather for running.

Race morning was cool, but not cold.  Plenty of people were bundled up, but I’m pretty sure that was the Floridians.  I was comfortable in my short sleeves.  The pre-race area is great – plenty of porta-potties, a warming tent, and free coffee and donuts!  Amazing!

The race starts with a wave-start, but the waves are self-seeded based on your estimated finish time.  Half and full runners start together, which I love.  And the best part?  Each wave got its own cannon of confetti that just kept blowing.  It’s great that everyone gets the fun of the start line, not just the fastest runners.

I decided to push a bit on the early miles, pick up a bit of padding for when the sun came up, and miles one and two were a little fast for me.  Unfortunately, all my hydrating in the days prior to the race meant that I needed a bathroom stop early on, so I lost a few minutes there.  Luckily, not too many.

There were so many spectators out for this race.  I loved it.  Neighborhoods really get into it and it’s almost as if they’re competing to be the best neighborhood.

I settled into my pace and made my way through the race.  I felt surprisingly good, even though it was warm.  My parents were cheering at mile 7, and the plan was for them to have shots of Fireball for all of us, but the bar didn’t open this year.  So disappointing!

Photo credit: My Dad

But all was fine, as a spectator had set up his own tent later with mini shots of Fireball.  Race nutrition saved!

We really lucked out with the weather.  The sun managed to stay behind clouds for the first few hours of the race.  The faster half marathoners had no issues with the heat.  For me, the sun came out sometime during mile 11, just as I was venturing onto the bridges – the only really hilly part of the race.  No shade and solid inclines… yuck.  Lost a bit of speed here.

As I reached the top of the final bridge, I remembered why I always push through this part – there are SO many spectators cheering people on, encouraging them up and over the hill.  You can’t stop there!

I pushed through and my final time was 2:56:56.  Considering that included a bathroom stop, a drink stop, and a quick pause to say hi to my parents, I’m pleased with that.  Most importantly, I had a great time and I felt good throughout the race.

Post race area was also awesome.  Soda, water, beer, snacks, hot dogs… yum.

I continue to adore this race.  I’ve gotten much more picky in the races I run, and this one will definitely stay on my schedule.  It’s the sort of race where you can make it whatever you want, and runners of all levels are welcome.

Until next year, Jacksonville Beach