Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2011 Race Season Recap - Part 2

After West Point Lake it was time to get my mind back into HIM, we had already started ramping up training the week before since I had decided on a race and I only had four weeks to build up after WPL.
I opted for Muncie 70.3; reason being it was driving distance and that meant no need to re-assemble the bike. I have improved tremendously on bike maintenance but I wouldn’t trust myself putting it back together before a race. Also, a friend of mine, Jennifer Lesser, was thinking about doing Muncie as well. So the thought of having a traveling partner made it that much attractive.
Once again girls weekend was a great experience, we laughed, had a good time, and the best thing of all we both got a slot for Vegas. Muncie was a hard race on the sense that I had to mentally ‘readjust’ the plan, one of my goals this year was not to walk in any of my races. The week before I got sick and took antibiotics, the combination of the heat and lack of salts made it for a pretty miserable run. But I was able to stay with it ‘mentally’, I decided on walking the aid stations and run the rest. The plan worked and end up 3rd on my age group and with a ticket to Vegas.

 Jennifer and I with our 'tickets' to Vegas

My training and focus was Vegas from this point on. I did Acworth Women Sprint Tri in August which was a fun race, probably one of the weakest this season but not bad for being in the middle of HIM training and coming off of a week vacation. I did learn though, that regardless how much of a 'B' race you have ahead of you, you do NOT race the day after you get back from vacation, it was just tough to get in race mood when the only thing I could think about was the beach I was at just a day before J.
Next up was Vegas, what an experience that was! It was amazing, being there was just surreal, the venue was just astonishing and tough, as a World Championship should be. Miss Carmen here thought she was Julie Dibbens and took off on the bike as if I was going to eat the world, a combination of that with not taking in enough calories resulted on a very painful run. This was probably the one race I learned the most… pacing and nutrition are CRUCIAL for HIM distance. But still had the time of our lives and I am hoping to be back (not next year though).

We extended our stay in Vegas for two days

I had planned to do one more race before calling it a season (Tugaloo), but I was bummed that I was not going to be able to take advantage of my fitness from Vegas in another 70.3.  After breaking down the race and realizing where I went wrong I just wanted to be out there again and ‘fix’ it.
We got an email from our team two or three days before Tugaloo, one of our sponsors (Muscle Milk) had a free entry for the REV3 race in Anderson, SC. After thinking about it for a couple of days I decided I was going for it.
Tugaloo was good, the only regret is that I used my brand new wetsuit and the zipper got stuck, had to stop on my way to T1 and ask one of the volunteers to unzip it for me, that kind of messed me up a bit. But overall was a solid race.
My sister, the kids and myself headed to SC two weeks after Tugaloo for the REV3 race. This was my race, but I told my coach I was just his puppet. He insisted to take it easy on the swim and not to overdo it on the bike, the whole goal was to have a solid run. And that is exactly what I did, I was able to end the season on a good note.
It is always good to end the season with a good race, but not so good that you let yourself relax too much. Last year after Augusta, I was so mad at my run that I didn’t want to forget how I felt after the race. I wore that race’s t-shirt over, and over, and over again on my runs. I think that anger helped me get through a lot of the hard workouts as I knew I did not want to feel like that after a race ever again.
Don't take me wrong, I know we can't have estellar races all the time, but to me if I cross the finish line and I know I gave it all is a HUGE accomplishment. When I start thinking back and realizing I didn't give it all, I didn't follow the plan or I just 'gave up' is when I consider that race a failure.
This year is a bit different; I had a good end of the season but one that I know I can improve on, as I run through the fall-winter I will keep thinking about how determination and hard work pays off.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

2011 Race Season Recap - Part 1

Since I will be referring to some of the races I did this year through out my 2012 I figure it would be good to have a recap of all my races so that I have something to go back to. I have full RRs for all these but there are key things I learn or took away from each race last year and that is what I am looking for to reflect here.
2011 was my third year doing triathlons, and my second with a coach. Me and Sami (my husband) both started triathlons with TNT (Team in Training) and although we loved the experience and made great friendships our competitive nature wanted a bit more. In 2010 we hire our awesome coach Jeremy Sipos, Jeremy has taken our fitness to a level that we never thought possible. Our first season working with Jeremy was a success but it was this year that both Sami and I surpassed our expectations.
Our last race in 2010 was Augusta 70.3 for both me and Sami, he had a great race and placed 7th in his age group (40-44), I had a strong swim and bike but blew it going too hard on the first two legs leaving nothing left for my run. This was probably one of those races I will never forget, it was the toughest mental wise and one experience that I chose not to forget.
We stayed for the awards ceremony with the hope Sami would get a slot to Clearwater (IM 70.3 World Championship), there were 5 slots on his age group and being the 7th we figure he had a VERY good shot. They started calling age groups and got to F 35-39 (my age group), it was clear early on that not a lot of girls in my age group had stayed and even with a poor performance but with lots of luck I got a slot. I was standing on the line waiting to pay when they called out Sami’s age group, at that point we discover that there was one slot left but the 6th guy took it. I felt awful, I didn’t deserve the slot, he did and I decided I was not taking mine. We headed back to the hotel and without saying much we just drove back home.
A week later we found out that there were some slots on the roll down and one of them went to Sami’s age group, lesson learned… never, never, NEVER go home if you are looking to get a slot before the announcer says is over.
From that point on we both made that our goal for the 2011 season, we wanted to go to Worlds, specially once they announced they had moved it to Vegas. Once we put our race schedule together we prioritize on our 70.3 races, I wanted to do maybe 3 this season so that at least I got one more than the year before.
I started the season with New Orleans 70.3, me and Raquel drove there for the weekend and this was going to be her first 70.3. We had a great time, girls weekend with some racing in there, what else can you ask for? Race day came and they announced they were canceling the swim due to 20+mph winds, the buoys were flying and the water was ROUGH! As the planner that I am, this was sure promising to be a downer, but as I looked at everybody else around me I realized that I still had a chance to have a good race. I had worked on my run very hard and I was looking forward to see the results.
To make a long story short I had a GREAT race, PRed in both the bike and the run and end up being 5th in my age group. Unfortunately the top three girls took the 3 slots there were for Vegas, but I was still thrilled with my performance.

NOLA was by far the windiest race I've ever been to

If I have learned anything from my athlete career is that nothing comes for free, if you want something you have to work hard at it, and even then you still need some luck. If I wanted to qualify for Vegas I was going to have to podium at a 70.3 otherwise I was going to have to rely on other people’s decisions and I would rather have the last word.
Two weeks after NOLA we headed to St Anthony’s, this time around with the whole family which always adds some stress, but end up being a fun weekend (I LOVE that race, probably my all time favorite) and were lucky our friend’s daughter was able to baby sit while we were racing.
Once again the morning started with not so good news, they change the swim course due to the winds and with that we had a new swim distance as well (1000m. vs 1500m), GREAT! That was the first thing I thought, the second was ‘I can either be pissed off about it and ruin my race or I can do like I did in NOLA, at least we are getting to swim some this time around!’
I end up having the race of my life, the part I was most proud of was my run. The year before I was in most Oly distance races around 48min., after St A’s (I ran 43:24) I knew all that hard work had paid off and I was able to put a solid race.
Looking back these were the best 2 races I had all season, not for any other reason that I finished and I felt as if my performance exceeded my expectations, once you’ve done that you just tend to ‘expect it’ every time which means you become harder on yourself when you get anything but.
I went home for three weeks which was a nice break, training wise probably not the best but I disconnected from everything and was still able to get some good training in. While in Spain Sami did Florida 70.3 and got a slot for Vegas, so I knew I was going to give it one more shot just needed to decide when and where.
After I got back I had two races back to back, the PT Solutions Allatoona Sprint tri and West Point Lake the weekend after. I did great on the first one, had a very solid race across the board and it just helped to put my mind back into racing mood.
West Point Lake was brutal the year before, I wanted to do well and I knew there was going to be some tough competition. The swim was loooooooooooong and it didn't help the fact that when sighting the sun is just on your eyes, this is the only race I have ever had to stop in a swim. I thought I was done after realizing I had swam off course and couldn’t find the fourth buoy, but once in transition I was pleased to see I was in the same boat as everybody else. I push way too hard on the bike as I was trying to keep in sight one of my competitors who passed me around mile 15. I started too hard on the run as well just trying to close the gap on her, passed her around mile 2 and ran out of fuel around mile 4, the last two miles weren’t pretty, but I held to the lead and like my coach says a win is a win so, although I wasn’t particularly pleased with my swim, bike or run I was happy with the overall performance.

After the race w Stacers

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Offseason... Is it Over yet?

We spend hours, days, weeks and months training our butts off, we are tired, sore and cranky but we love the feeling and wouldn’t change it for the world. For me that is usually true from January to September, or October in this year’s case, basically goes from the time we start training for our first race til the end of the season.
Somewhere in the middle of the season I start ‘dreaming’ about the off season, thinking how it will be SO nice to get a break; run, swim and bike without a Garmin or a watch and enjoy the fall (which by the way is my favorite time of the year down here in Georgia). As I get closer to the end of the season I find myself dreaming about the ‘off season’ more often, this usually fades out two or three weeks before my last race, at that point I start getting ‘depressed’ that my season is going to end and I don’t know what I am going to do for the next three months.
My coach likes to give us 2-3 weeks off, that is the time to do whatever we want, no structure, no plan just do whatever you feel like doing and take a break from the crazy world of triathlon. Well, I am not a very flexible person, if you keep track of my blogs you will soon realize that I am a planner, I like to know when and where I am doing whatever it is that I am doing and last min. planning or change of plans are not welcome in my lifestyle. That doesn’t mean that I wont adjust, we are all adults and have learn that life sometimes throws you through a curve, as much as I dislike it I will adjust, but my perfect world is surprise free.
So you can imagine how crazy I go during that time, which coincidentally is where I am right now, no plan, no purpose. I use these weeks to get back into my pilates/core training, it just sets me up for a good routine once I get into fall training (some people like to call it offseason, others base season, I don’t really like the term since that would imply I am off and that doesn’t work well for me for obvious reasons).
This is also the perfect time of the year to spend quality time with the kids, there is always a Fall Fest somewhere close by, not having to worry about a weekend schedule makes it even better for me and the family to visit as many of those as we can. Our weekends jump start with a soccer game on Saturday morning and from there we just head to wherever the day might take us, there is always something fun to do in this great weather.

Everybody gets a pumpkin

I also use that time to eat whatever I want, I am very good at eating the right things once I am in season, some might call me a bit anal, but I have been around in this body long enough to know that I don’t do well if I drink a lot the night before, which means I basically waste the next day training and possibly a couple more since that is how long it takes me nowadays to recover from a crazy night. Same applies to sweets, I can have a sweet hear and there while I am in season, but I try to stay away from those. So for 2-3 weeks I eat everything and anything I have craved during training. Sami thinks I am crazy, but this works well for me, at the end of that period (aka TODAY), I am so sick of eating this stuff that I have no issues walking away from it for a while. I feel tired and lazy, although there should be no reason for me to be tired since I don’t do much, but whenever I feel like eating some of this ‘bad stuff’ during the season I think back on how I felt, how that is just not functional for my training and for the most part I can walk away without Oreo cookies (just to name one of my weaknesses). 
That period is almost over (thank GOD!), my body is already craving structure, some training and a healthy diet. The next three months (or fall training as I called it earlier) are going to include a lot of core strengthening, I like to take 2 core/pilates classes a week and I am looking forward to getting into TRX.
I will also do a lot of running, I will have a separate post about this in the near future, but my biggest area of opportunity in this IM (and any triathlon) is running. If I want to have a solid race and stay competitive I need to improve my running. So I will be freezing my butt off (hopefully I can add ‘little’ right before butt at some point in the near future after logging all those miles) but I will be out there. Last year I improve my running a lot and it was part of it due to the running volume I did during this time of the year, we are going for the next level which means more days than none you will see me running around the Windward/Webb Bridge rd area… if you see me please honk and wave, I am sure I will appreciate the distraction.

Nobody said it would look pretty

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Who am I and why I am here

I have been meaning to start a blog for a while now, but never found the time. Honestly I am not even sure how much I will be able to update this one, but I am hoping to be able to do it at least once a week. I don’t have the perfect grammar (yeah I know… shocking), nor do I always know how to put things on the right words, Spanish people are known for lack of PC, so this might not even be the typical blog, for all that I know this might never be read by anybody other than me and family but that is the whole point… I am documenting this year ahead of me so that in the future I can come back and read it, and most importantly that my kids can read it in the future. I want them to know how crazy their mom is! And I am one of those people who love writing RRs (race reports) so I know for sure my RRs will not be lost somewhere in my PC anymore, they now have a home!
As an adult I have gone through two huge milestones in my life, and I was able to document these by bloging. In 2004 I married my best friend and then in 2006 & 2008 I became a mom, to my son Marc and my daughter Nora.

Marc & Nora

Mommy hood is so much challenging than I ever thought possible, this is a whole topic on itself that maybe one day I will address on a separate post, but as challenging as it might be I love being home with the kids.

Me & hubby

Being a wife is not any easier, but the four of us try to make our best at making it a ‘functional family’.

The Brahims

It is time to hit another big milestone… doing my first IM. Why now? Well a couple of reasons; first of all I will be turning 40 and I always thought it would be pretty cool to start the new decade with a big statement, I can’t think on a bigger statement than being able to say ‘I am 40 and I am doing an IM’. My second reason is a group decision… triathlon can be a very lonely sport if you do most of your training on your own, but if what you are training for is an IM distance then it becomes just plain miserable. A six time cancer survivor and friend of mine, Brian Balmes, decided as he was laying in a hospital bed recovering from his surgery that he was going to do his second IM in 2012. With Brian doing an IM some friends started talking about doing it with him, to make a long story short we are now 20 of us (12 girls + 8 guys) doing IMFL. It is going to be an exciting year and I can’t wait to go through it with all of them. To make it even better I was able to convince my sister Raquel to join in the fun, so there will be two Gil sisters toeing the start line... it can’t get any better than that!

The Gil sisters

So, come back here for some action as often or as little as you want, in the mean time I will be making my way to IMFL and mumbling about anything and everything that goes through this crazy mind.