January & February Recap

This has been a crazy, crazy set of months. I’ve had my mileage for January sitting in a post draft all February and never got around to writing it. So let’s take a look at my year so far.

These past two months have been crazy. January had two trips, and in February, my boss was in training so I had to do my job and her job (note – that is an impossible task and I felt like I was clinging onto the edge of a cliff the entire month). I also managed to catch multiple colds. But I’m working to get back into training. I’m registered for a few olympic distance races this summer, and I want to be able to complete them!

My first race is at the beginning of May and I’m already a bit nervous. I’ve not actually completed a triathlon since 2018. My first race in 2019 ended in a crash, and my second and last race in 2019 ended up being turned into a bike-run. So getting back in the water, completing a swim, and then getting onto the bike is going to be scary. I’m also really far behind where I should be on my swim skills.

My personal photographer picks great locations and takes amazing pics. I guess I’ll keep him around.

January Mileage
Swim – 1.2 miles
Bike – 56 miles
Run – 36 miles

February Mileage
Swim – 1.6 miles
Bike – 34 miles
Run – 32 miles

As you can see, February wasn’t a great month for me, workout wise. I did show up to the pool twice, and that’s better than nothing. I’ve been struggling to get myself out of bed and to the pool, but I’m recommitting for March. I will show up.

I’ve also got to make sure to get in all my running – I’ve got a ten mile race coming up at the beginning of April. I definitely want to run strong there, so I’ve got to step up my game.

2020 Mileage
Swim – 2.8 miles
Bike – 90 miles
Run – 68 miles

I also need to be better about keeping up with this blog. It’s a great resource for me to look back on, and tracking my training publicly has really been good for me. So now I’m setting the goal. I know that I need to keep up with my training, but I need to get back to blogging. Ideally at least one post a week, but at this point, I’ll be happy with two posts a month!

Plus I’ve got a few things non-fitness related to post about!

Race Report – 2020 Disney 10K

This year, I finally returned to racing at Disney Marathon weekend. This year was “only” the 10k for me, since it was on my birthday. I considered running the half, but decided 10k was plenty. There would be opportunity for longer distances later. Cue ominous music.

Race morning dawned stupidly early, as is the norm for runDisney. We stayed at a monorail resort, but on race morning, the only transportation available was busses. I’m a huge fan of the monorail, but the bus worked just fine. Not too long of a wait, and our bus driver only got slightly turned around once. We made it to the race start in plenty of time.

I liked the way the corrals were setup this year – corrals were lined up next to each other and then filtered out the front and over into the starting chute, unlike in many races, where the corrals are lined up in a long line and you have to walk through the other corral spaces to get to the start. I felt like this reduced the amount of walking to the start line. They also metered people through the start, using a ribbon of sorts, so each corral was divided into mini-corrals for the start. This definitely helped some of the crowding.

We were unexpectedly in the last corral due to a mistake with placement on my sister’s bib (so I went back with her), and it was definitely crowded. It took us 50 minutes to get across the start line, which is just something to remember for future races. We were planning to do a run/walk and spent much of the time going around walkers. Nothing against walkers, but it would be nice if people kept to the sides when walking and didn’t walk in such huge groups going across.

I did have a negative moment – there was a guy throwing water over his head and basically throwing it directly into the face of the people behind him. So I said something him, just asking him to step over. He gave me attitude, so I responded with something like “Thanks so much for understanding! Have a great day!” And then throughout the race, I kept seeing him giving me evil looks. Come on, people, use a little common sense.

I enjoyed the course – I felt like we got to see a lot of Epcot, and plenty of backstage too. In general, some of the overcrowding was frustrating, but that’s to be expected in a race like this, especially when we started further back than where we should have started. It was a slower race than I wanted, but really, I can’t complain too much. We were there to have fun after all.

(Now, don’t get me started on the new Club runDisney that they’ve announced. Infuriating.)

I’ll be there next year for the marathon, which is on my birthday. Terrifying. TERRIFYING.

Final results: 1:29:19.

New Virtual Race – The 465 Virtual Challenge

In order to kick off the new year right, I’ve signed up for the 465 Virtual Challenge. What is this? 465 is the road that loops around Indianapolis, and it’s 53 miles long – so to complete this challenge, you run, walk, swim, bike, hop, etc. for a total of 53 miles between January 1 and February 29.

For some of us, 53 miles in two months sounds like a solid challenge. But for a lot of runners, that might not be enough mileage. So you have the option to become a Looper – how many times can you loop 465 in two months? Or maybe you’re a one-and-done type – can you get the 53 miles done in 24 hours? (I do not even want to consider this – I’m not sure I’m back into that sort of biking shape, and I have never been in that sort of running shape.)

There are two signup options – the basic package gets you a bumper sticker, a training program, motivational emails, a virtual bib, and a certificate of completion. The premium package gets you all that, plus a t-shirt and a sweet finisher’s medal with a car that slides around the route.

If you use the code BIBRAVE, you also get 10% off.

I’m really excited to get started with this. I think I’m going to try to run the 53 miles, because I’ve been working to get back into a running routine, and January and February are going to be difficult months, schedule-wise. This will hopefully help keep me on track. Anyone want to be racing buddies?

Race Report – 2019 Space Coast Half Marathon

I think it’s clear that I like space races, as I have now run this race seven times, with plans to do it at least another two years. I don’t typically run for medals, but come on, this series is fabulous.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen after 2021, but I really want the full set of the human spacewalk medals. Why? Because they’re cool.

Admittedly, I also really like this race. The course is simple, very flat, and the time of year is perfect. There is nothing better than going down to Florida in late November/early December and just getting away for a long weekend before the crazy holiday season really starts.

This year, as per usual, we headed down on Friday and hit up the expo on Saturday. Though I didn’t buy anything, this expo gets bigger every year and there are some good vendors there. And the volunteers aren’t to be beat. The sheer organization of the whole event is incredible.

It’s nice to do a race that I’m so familiar with. This race starts in a little downtown area, and it can seem a bit confusing at the start. Everyone is trying to cram into this little space down a street between cute shops and it’s very crowded and the pace groups seem all messed up and it doesn’t seem reasonable that the course will clear out. But it does. Every year, the start works and within the first half mile, the space has widened and people can run a reasonable pace.

I didn’t feel super well trained for this race, even though I had done two 10+ mile runs. My only goal was to run with my sister, finish the race, and get a medal. I was also hoping for little to no hip pain. I’m still not back into shape after breaking my arm so I’m having to do a lot of extra rehab work on both my hip and my upper body.

This race was a lot of fun, as per usual. It wasn’t my fastest, but it wasn’t my slowest. I finished in 3:12:01, finishing with my sister, my friend Nikki, and having had a great time chatting our way through the race. And with some energy in reserve for a night at Disney World.

Once this series is over, I’m not sure how long I’ll continue traveling for this race, but it’s a lot of fun and I love being able to go to the beach to start the holiday season. It’s a great place, lots of good fun, and always an amazing time with friends.

Swimming with Xtrainerz

Disclaimer: I received a set of Xtrainerz 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!

As a triathlete, I go to the pool a lot. Okay, not a lot. In fact, not even as much as I really should. Sorry, Coach. But one thing that I’ve found makes swimming so much easier is listening to podcasts while I swim. A year or so ago, I bought a waterproof iPod shuffle with waterproof earbuds. I would load up my podcasts at home, clip the shuffle to my swim cap, and swim, listening to the dulcet tones of a random podcast (often The Baby-Sitters Club Club, let’s be honest).

But this system came with a few annoyances. First, earbuds have cords, and every so often, I would have things all twisted up such that when I turned my head to breathe, the earbud would pull in a weird way. Second, the earbuds had “custom” rubber things on each of them to fit any ear. You know what? Those things fall off and end up at the bottom of a swim bag way too easily. But the biggest problem I had was that water would get in my ear around the earbuds and then completely block the sound so I couldn’t hear anything. It was incredibly annoying, and if I wanted to keep listening, I had to stop and reposition the earbud.

Then I got the chance to try the Xtrainerz by Aftershokz. These probably look somewhat familiar, if you’ve used Aftershokz products before, and they work in a similar way – rather than the sound going into your ears, it uses bone conduction. The Xtrainers, however, are designed to be used in water (or out of water, but more about that later).

I will admit, I didn’t have the highest of hopes. I figured they would work, but wouldn’t be a huge difference from my current system.

Friends, I was so very wrong. Once I figured out how best to position the Xtrainerz on my head inside my swim cap along with all of my hair (I have a LOT of hair), I started the podcast playing and began my swim. Instead of the water entering my ears blocking the sound, it enhanced it. Which, of course, makes total sense if you’ve worn other bone conduction headphones before. If you block out the external noise, you can hear the sound through the bone conduction that much better. So when the water blocks out the noise, the sound becomes even clearer.

I am still so impressed at the sound quality. With podcasts, it’s always a risk, because words can easily be lost with poor sound quality, but it’s seriously not an issue here. This is definitely a game changer if you want to listen to music or podcasts while you swim.

Now, let’s go into some of the details and the questions many people have.

Can I stream music? Nope. Though this isn’t unique to the Xtrainerz – you can’t stream with any of the currently available swim music players. Why? Bluetooth can’t transmit through water. So you will have to physically transfer the music to your phone. That means that you won’t be able to transfer your Spotify playlist. If you still have old school music from iTunes, you can use that, or go my route and use podcasts. They’re free and entertaining and definitely make the laps go faster. The Xtrainerz will hold 4GB of music or podcasts. That’s around 1200 songs, or many, many hours of podcasts. If you really want to swim longer than that, well, you might be a fish.

How do you load music or podcasts? You just connect the Xtrainers to your computer using the cord that comes with it (also used for charging), and it appears as a new disk. You can then drag and drop your files. I used iTunes to download some podcasts, then just dragged them directly from the iTunes screen onto the Xtrainers. I’m on Mac, and was worried I’d have issues, since it seems like so many things are made for PC. I had no issue at all.

Can I use these while running? You can! The Xtrainers have a little button on the side to change them from general mode to swim mode. On swim mode, the pitch is apparently changed slightly to make it easier to hear underwater. But you can definitely load up the Xtrainers for a run, and you won’t have to worry about killing your phone battery or whether or not the rain (or your sweat) will damage your Xtrainerz.

How’s the battery? The battery lasts 8 hours, and will fully charge in 1.5 hours. What I like best is that when you turn them on, the voice over (named Audrey) will tell you if the battery is high, medium, or low, so you know when you need to charge. I have yet to need to charge mine (because I need to go to the pool more often), so I can confidently say I’m happy with the battery. And if you forget to turn them off, they do have an auto-off, so no worries there.

If you’ve been considering getting a music player to get you through all those laps at the pool, I definitely recommend the Xtrainerz. I’m so impressed by how well they work, and how little trouble they cause me while I swim. No more excuses for a long pause between sets!