Monday, March 26, 2012

Triathlon Season is in the air

It seems as if social media is slowly filling up with triathlon races, everybody is registering, watching or participating on a race sometime soon. I like to think of it as the ‘unofficial’ start to the triathlon season, I have not toed the start line yet but I am getting eager to do so, especially after this weekend.

Not only there were a handful of tris in FL with some GA representation but the IM season has officially started with IM Melbourne. I am not sure why did on Saturday evening but after a full day of activities I sat in front of the computer and soaked in as much IM coverage as I could, around 9:30 my eyes started to close which was around the time the girls started the run, stayed awake as long as I could but the need of sleep won and had to call it a night. Sunday morning I woke up and ran downstairs to check IM online to read how the race unfolded.
Four weeks from my 2012 debut I find myself day dreaming about race day and crossing the finish line in NOLA 70.3. Training has picked up these past couple of weeks and I still have two more weeks before things start to settle down, right now I am at a point where I just want race day to be here.
As I mentioned on my last post I was feeling a bit off in the water lately, and although I have only been twice at masters I decided to increase my swim sessions to three until things get back to normal. I don’t know if is the excitement of approaching race day or the tips Maria gave me the first day at the pool. After 20 years it was nice to get some feedback on my stroke, it just brought some memories back. What I know is that I am starting to feel more comfortable in the water and I can only imagine this will get better by the time we reach New Orleans city limit.
Swimming is always more fun w a group
My bike fitness is always a mystery before the start of the season, I have no idea what to expect. Last year I made some good improvements on the bike and since I trust my coach 100% I can only imagine all those hours on the trainer are about to pay off. Since this was one of my issues last year (pushing too hard on the bike when it came to HIM distance) I am just hoping for a more comfortable ride and be able to get off of it with some energy left to be able to put a solid run.
My runs are feeling pretty good, not having a running background it always amazes me how one day I feel awesome and the next one not so good. Luckily the days that have not been so good are my recovery days, and so far I have been able to put some good long runs in. Me and the track is a whole different story, we have a love hate relationship. I know is a necessary evil, but somehow I always get a pinch in my stomach at least two days before speed work. This week was no different, but fortunately for me the session went MUCH better than last week, I know is just a matter of putting more time on the ‘lanes’ before I start seeing major improvements, but I will take small victories for now.
So things are progressing nicely, four weeks before race day I am only 2lbs over my race weight so I know that is not something I am going to have to worry about, which is nice because there is nothing more stressful than having a bucket list the week before your race.
In other news, my mother in law is coming in town for two weeks. The kids are thrilled and so is mommy, timing for her is probably not ideal since Sami is putting his IM hours and I am on the last two hard weeks of my block which means there won’t be many late nights at the Brahims but we’ve planned a couple of fun outings while she is here and I am sure we will all have a good time even if those are in the middle of the day J.
The kids w the Gi
And just in case I am not back for a while Happy Easter and Happy Training!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Who Is In Your Team??

No, I am not going to give you a full headcount of everybody in my team, although I have to say that we make a good looking one!  Big things are never accomplished by only one person, I am one to believe that you need a full team behind you, supporting you in different ways if you want to be successful in triathlon, school, or life in general.

In my case, I am lucky enough to have a great support team, starting with my family. Sami and I are both triathletes, and if you think that having a full time job, training and having kids on top of it is time consuming, try when you have to shuffle workouts between the two spouses to make sure we both get our training in and the kids’ schedule is not affected. Our kids are at an age when they are starting to enjoy playing sports which adds more to our already busy plate, but we make it work. Some people think is crazy that we both are in this hectic world of triathlon but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you have met me and my family you know there is a fifth person in it, my sister Raquel. She is not only my only sister here, but my best friend and someone I would trust my own life with. When Sami and I are in need of help with the kids she is always there. No wonder she is my kids’ favorite aunt, sorry yes I said it, but you can’t be too surprise knowing she sees them almost as much as me and hubby do.
Raquel and the kids
In addition to a strong family, I have my friends. Some of them closer than others, I have to admit I don’t get to see many of them as often as I would like to, but between training, the kids, the house… it never ends. So, if you haven’t heard from me or haven’t seen me in a while I apologize, I keep saying once the kids get a bit older it will get easier, although I hear that is not the case.
First triathlon St Anthony's 2009 w Stace & Jen
As we all know this sport is an expensive hobby, if you are not part of the world of triathlon just take my word, between race entries, accessories, travel, bikes, etc… the list never ends and the deeper you get into the sport the more you spend. So when you get an opportunity to work with a sponsor is a GREAT thing…
My main sponsor and team is PT Solutions, this is my second year racing for them. Dale, Steve and everybody else on the team make sure that all their athletes are set for race day. It is great to get to know people who shares your same interest. In addition, coming race day the more blue and yellow out there the better, it just makes it that much fun.
PT Solutions 2012 Triathlon Team
If you are prone to injury, are injured, are in the need for coaching services or just want to check them out for the heck of it check their website, with the multiple locations across the South East odds are they have a location near you!

PT Solutions partnered with Muscle Milk last year, which means lots of yummy post and pre race nutrition. They have some great flavors, I have to admit I am a bit of a plane Jane and like my vanilla shakes, but there is a wide variety of flavors and all of them with the same great benefits, if you don’t believe me ask Chrissie Wellington, I hear she swears by it ;)

This year I also got sponsorship from Kswiss. If you haven’t tried their shoes you should, they are famous for having the perfect shoe for each race distance. I am planning on using my K-Onas for IMFL unless they come out with something better before November.  If you are in the look for a new pair of shoes PT Sports (who happened to be another of our sponsors) just happens to have a widespread variety, and if Kswiss is not your thing there have plenty of other brands, I am sure they have what you are looking for!
If you follow me on Twitter or FB you have seen my thousand posts about how much I like to be around positive people. I truly believe motivation is contagious, that is why I love to read race reports, blogs and anything that might give me a boost. If you are a positive person I want to be in YOUR team. This world of multisport can be very lonely at times, but at the end of day you realize that you have a whole community behind you. I might not swim, bike or run with other people (ok, as of recently I do swim with a group, but you know what I mean) but I sure think of everybody I know of when trying to push through my training. How bad can your day be next to someone who is battling cancer, or someone who has just been diagnosed a diseases? We all make our choices of what to celebrate and what to duel on, I choose to celebrate the things I have (not talking about physical things) and what I am capable off, being out there doing what I like is just one of them, dueling takes up way too much energy that I need for training J.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wake Up And Smell the Roses

This English saying couldn’t be any more fitting this week. I feel as if in the last two weeks I have learned/realized or just notice a couple of things that are going to be critical for this season’s success.
Last weekend as I mentioned on my last blog I had my not so pleasant encounter with my friend the scale, things have been going very well since. I have cut small things here and there and trying to stick around 2000-2200 a day, I know it may sound like a lot for some people but this girl needs her fuel. Anyways, things are progressing nicely towards my first race of the season.
This week I had two more wake up calls; Tuesdays and Fridays are my swim days, I have been swimming twice a week since I first started triathlons and have been pretty consistent on my times coming race day. Out of my three seasons I would say the second one (2010) was my ‘mermaid’ season, I will attribute my speed to my two swimming partners my friend Michelle McClendon and Jeremy Sipos. I used to swim one day with one and one with the other, to me just having them there to push me and knowing that they were as committed as me to get the workouts done was a biggy, maybe the misery likes company saying is also fitting J. Anyways, last year I did most of my swims by myself due to Sami’s and my schedule as well as master groups around the area limiting public pool hours, swim times were consistent through the season but just a bit slower than the year before.
Potencial issue of swimming by yourself
This year I have been swimming on my own again, I have been noticing my swim times are slower and I just didn’t fit quite right in the water. Tuesday was no different, I was getting frustrated and it just seemed as if regardless what I did I was not getting faster.  My coach recommended I swim with either a group or just with other people in general. Swimming with others is difficult because of my schedule and everybody elses, so my best bet was a group (AKA masters group).  There are many of those in the area, but I used to swim with Dynamo back on the days (very first time I was in the US 17 years ago). I honestly don’t even remember if Maria was the coach, I didn’t do it for long but I did remember that there were a lot of strong swimmers on the group. 17 years later and after being introduced to the triathlon world is no secret that Maria leads the strongest master team in town and if I had to pay for a masters group that is where I wanted to be. It has taken some convincing and negotiation with hubby since the schedules are not the best. I really wish I could swim in the am but that just doesn’t work for us. After looking into it I realized that Tues evenings and Saturday mornings are my best bet and it might end up working out quite nicely. So after my first workout with the group I am being  very optimistic and think that with 6 weeks left before NOLA 70.3 I can still get back into a place where I feel comfortable in the water again at a more consistent pace,  it might take a bit longer to get my scales back J.
Hoping to get my mojo back
Wake up call #2… After last week’s 10K I was very happy with my running fitness, unfortunately the victory dance didn’t last long, Thursday morning I went on my first track workout of the season and let me tell you that was NOT pretty! Not only I was ALL over the place with my pacing but I was way slower than last year, not to mention the day after I was really SORE. The good news is that like coach J says race day is what counts, obviously I am pretty much where I was last year with my run (even with the extra weight) and that is with less speed work, so I am hoping these next four weeks’ track workouts will give me a bit of an edge on the running and I will be able to have good run at NOLA.
Like it or not we are gonna become best friends
Now is time for me to put the laptop down and get ready for session #2 (bike/run) of the day, hopefully the weather holds up and my legs decided to show up!!
Happy training!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jog For a Cause Race Report

As I mentioned earlier on this blog one of the main reasons I was starting it was so that my family and friends back home could keep up with this crazy year ahead of me while I make my way to IMFL. Another reason was so that my poor and forgotten race reports would have a place to call home, after last weekend’s race I get to do just that, instead of writing my race report, sending it to a bunch of friends and loose it somewhere on which ever PC I am using at the time I now know where I can find them.

First of all I have to warn you, if you have never read any of my race reports I am a ‘talker’, I like to go through the pre-race, race and even post race sometimes at great length, so you might need to grab a coffee if you are willing to seat through this one.
Let me start by saying I was not borne with an inch of fast twitch muscle in me. Like my ex swimming coach used to say I only have one speed, that is why it was not surprising to see me PR on my 200m or 400m freestyle on my way to my 800m main event. Not only I was not ‘naturally gifted’ with it I just DON’T like it, probably that is why I dread track/speed workouts, anaerobic to me = near death experience. Also, that is why you wont see me toeing the start line of many 10K races or sprint tris, Olympics are a bit different but anything shorter than that is a stretch. 
I have done this race four years in a row now, this year I really wanted to do one of the more popular ones, either the Charles Harris or the Chattahoochee 10K, unfortunately things didn’t work out and I was once again registering for the Jog For a Cause race. My kids’ pediatrician puts this one together every year (this was their 9th) and it always feels good to race for a good cause (all funds go to childhood cancer).
It also happened to coincide that this was my recovery week, don’t be fooled by the label, looking at my training plan I realized that there was not much of a difference other than removing 1hr Z2 bike on Thursday, an hour of my long bike and 30min from my total runs. My legs didn’t feel that good the whole week and I really had no idea what to expect, it is always hard to do so on the first race of the season. I have been feeling really good on my runs, but I haven’t been wearing my Garmin (other than 2 or 3 times on my long runs), I don’t want to get caught up on paces and numbers, like Jeremy (my coach) says, at the end of the day what matters is race day.
The day before the race I had a not so pleasant encounter with my friend the scale, I weigh in every now and then, especially during race season when weight is not something that worries me. Up until now I knew as soon as I got serious (AKA not eating junk) the extra winter layer comes off, it usually is a pound a week until I reach my ‘healthy race weight’. I had not weigh in for a while but I knew I was on good track (or so I thought), I felt good and the ‘pudginess’ from the extra weight I carry on this winter was slowly disappearing. Well, Friday morning I decided to step on the scale and I almost had a heart attack, obviously I need to make it more of a habit to check my weight, and while not dieting cause I need to make sure I have enough energy to get me through this last block I need to get rid of some of these pounds, otherwise it becomes absurd, we spend all this time training and I am not going to waste it by eating my way to race season.
So, I knew that I was almost 5lbs heavier than last year for this race… def not a confidence booster the day before a race but I made a decision not to think about that and just concentrate on the fact that I have been working on my run.  
Race morning I had my coffee, Cliff bar and ½ of a banana and sipped on water until the race start. Last year I was very conservative on the first loop; the race offers a 5K and 10K distance, we all start at the same time but those running the 5K start 0.1miles behind those the ones doing the 10K. Basically 10Kers do two loops, 5K one. This year I wanted to be more aggressive, I wanted to break 42’ and I knew that if I wanted to do so I needed to have a stronger first loop. I figure if I blew it, at least I made the effort and at that point I could work on another of my areas of opportunity… the mental struggle once you are spent, as we all know this can go either way and there isn’t a better feeling than knowing that you were spent but mentally you kept pushing and didn’t give up.

                                                                                       Me, Elaine and Jen @ Start Line
As me and Elaine got on the front for the start I saw a younger girl to my left and she looked like she could be a good runner. Next thing we know someone started yelling ‘go, go, go’ apparently the guy with the microphone was somewhere in the middle of the two packs and we couldn’t hear the start. By the time we hit the first mile marker I was already panting and breathing heavily, but surprisingly enough my legs felt good, so I kept going. Around mile 2 I heard Elaine cheering on Katie June (she was doing the 5K), it was pretty ironic to think that the three of us where there and brought memories of the last two years in Tugaloo when Katie blew by me on the run. So I tried to stay as close to her as possible, when she took the turn for the finish Shute I was SOOOO jealous, a second later I realize I was in trouble.
Last year I remember seeing the finish line and thinking ‘ok Carmen, you got this, one more loop’, this year was more like ‘OH no, one more loop!!’, I had to break the second loop on small fragments cause mentally I was spent. I was determine to use as much positive thinking as I could to get me through it, I started thinking on IM and how I couldn’t give up. The last mile or so is always tough because you catch up with the 5K walkers and have to zig zag your way through, I crossed the finish line 11” slower than my PR last year at 42:58.
All in all I felt AWESOME, not only I was done which is a biggy, I was able to stay positive through the rough patches. I came to the race not knowing what to expect, and it was an eye opener as to what I need to keep working on, great beginning of the season and definitely put some fire in me to nail this last block before NOLA 70.3.
Come to find out the younger girl ran 40 and change putting me second in the female field.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

One day at a time

That is how I feel I am living this stage of my life most of the times.   A lot of people think that because I don’t have an actual 9:00-5:00 job I have most of the day for myself, I think in their little minds they imagine Carmen sitting around on the coach all day long watching movies and eating bonbons. And as appealing as that might sound from time to time, I can't even tell you when was the last time I took a nap or ate bonbons watching TV (note to self: must do that soon).

So I thought it would be just appropriate to give you a snap shot of how a day on my life looks like, maybe you will understand why this poor blog has been forgotten lately…
7:00-7:30 alarm goes off
7:30-9:00  Breakfast time (mine and the kids), get school lunches ready and head out the door before 8:50 otherwise I am late for carpool
9:00 drop off Marc & Nora
9:15- make beds, tide up downstairs and do any laundry that needs to be done
10:00 head out for a long run
11:30/11:45 post workout snack, stretch, foam roll, ice bath
12:45 pick up kids from school
1:00-1:30 catch up with kids, go through their lunch bags and school totes, clean whatever needs to be cleaned and go through teacher’s ‘mail’
2:00 lunch
4:15 second workout: 75 min. swim
6:00 bath kids
6:30 kids’ dinner
7:30 kids’ bed time
7:45-8:00 mommy & daddy’s dinner
9:00-9:30 I am pooped and falling asleep on the coach
Me by the end of the day
So that is what my days look like, Mon and Wed I have an early bike so I wake up at 5:45 instead and I get to clean the house and see the little munchkin do her ‘thang’ at gymnastics. Net net… I am busy, I feel like if I am racing every day, all the time, from point A to point B. Don’t get me started with the days Marc has soccer, or both of the kids start w swimming lessons (they will start in two weeks). So… no, I don’t just seat around and eat bonbons all day and although my work schedule is not officially registered as 9:00-5:00 if it were it would read 24/7.
Speaking of racing… I got my first race coming up this week, I have done this 10K three years in a row and although I am looking forward to put my body through the ringer I know is not going to be fun… at least until I am done J, there is a reason why I don’t do many 10Ks or 5Ks for that matter, I much rather be out there for 2ht+ distance races than the short stuff, BUT it will be good to get some adrenaline going through this body and I am looking forward to a high of endorphins.