Monday, October 26, 2015

Not running and running

All summer I had been dealing with what was probably a little bit of Achilles tendonitis, but had been managing it pretty well.  After the Wilmington YMCA and another hard workout that week, my leg/foot decided it was time for me to take a break.  Not totally surprising as my right calf area always seems to give in before anything else. I think I also wore a little too many flip flops this summer that didn’t have enough support (I neeeeeeeeed support) as well as not using a better insole in my running shoes.  Live and learn, again. I should know better.  So this all lead to me taking some down time with my running. Since I couldn’t run, I went to the pool more than normal and ended up swimming sort of decently at our last open water race and got third overall in the series. Which meant a SWIMMING TROPHY!!! My first ever. But don’t overthink this too much since Marty is the race director and we bought the trophies using our tiny profit margin.  Soooo.

While I may not have been running, Logan was and he too won a trophy! At the end of his 4 race series (in the age-group Pre-K, 50 yard dashers) he finished 2nd.  I don’t think he totally ever understood exactly WHY he won a trophy, as seen by this picture.   

But we were excited for him. And here he is excited with his series medal with his best girl, Jade. 

I have figured out the strategy for these races, in case you’re wondering. First, if you’re 4 years old, you have a very clear advantage over the rest of the kids who are usually just 3.  Also, if you can get started running right after the announcer says, “GO!” (as opposed to several seconds later) AND run in a straight line (extremely hard for these kids to do) then you will do well.

I have also started running again and man, it’s so unfair how quickly fitness goes. But at least our weather is nice. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Logan's Race Report!

Logan did the Healthy Kids Running Series this past spring and had a great time. His age division (Pre-K and under) runs a 50 yard dash.  In the spring, he was one of the youngest and was last or close to last in every race – but he loved it! He said he definitely wanted to do it again for their fall series and this past Sunday was the first race.

We got there early to pick up his number and t-shirt.  As luck would have it, he was given #95 which is also Lightening McQueen’s number!! O.M.G.

He decided to a do some ‘hanging from the bar’ stretching.

Then some dynamic stretching with his girl, Jade.

Cheering the big boys on in the 1 mile run.

Time to line up and do a little visualization.

The competition looked fierce today.

Focused on the finish line.

Oh, Hiiiiiii JADE!!!!!

Really, he’s just in it for the juice and pretty girls.

He ended up 2nd in this race because the kid in front of him decided to stop at his mommy (and the first place kid was in the wrong race). Podium!!!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Wilmington YMCA Race Report

The weekend after the Battle at Buckhorn (Labor Day weekend) was spent in the mountains just west of Asheville with the Hughston’s.  Super fun hanging with this family. Then Logan and I had a quick turnaround the next week when we flew down to Florida Thursday evening to visit my mom through Sunday.  Also very fun. But these back to back travels prompted me to say to Marty early last week, “I’m totally okay with bagging the Wilmington trip.” Work has been busy; life has been busy; blah blah blah we’re all busy, right? 

One or both of us has done the Wilmington YMCA sprint triathlon almost every year since we moved to North Carolina. It’s a popular late season race which draws a good crowd and is usually pretty competitive.  Marty raced last year while I sat it out and spectated with Logan, so we switched this year.  We stayed with our friends at their beach shack and in the end it was decided that I would just go over by myself as the 7:00 am start would mean a very early morning for Marty & Logan. Particularly since we got there late and Logan was up way, way past his normal bedtime.

The lines for check-in were long. I wasn’t rushed, but I also didn’t have any extra dilly-dally time.  I got my transition set up and jogged the mile down to the swim start for a warmup. I ran into Ali finally, and we got in for a swim warmup before lining up and off we went.

I felt good on the swim (no wetsuit, much to my chagrin).  It seemed like I was holding a strong pace although I did have some trouble sighting with my goggles getting extremely fogged up.  The swim is point to point and the buoys are just guides – you can pick whatever line you want to get to the exit.  I could see a pack a little ahead of me almost the entire time but was never able to bridge up.  I climbed up the ladder and tried to run quick to T1 – the run is long and painful on the feet but in years past I’ve been able to make up a good chunk of time here and I believe I did again this year.
I caught up to two girls in T1 and we started the bike together.  The one girl put a little distance on me and stayed ahead the entire time. I was glad she was there as I didn’t feel particularly great on the bike but she kept me focused on keeping her in sight.  It seemed we kept passing all these young girls in Speedo’s – so much for my good swim, I thought at the time. I’m not usually this far back! Towards the end of the bike we passed what ended up being the last Speedo girl as we all came in together and the crowd cheered us as the first females. My bike ended up pretty good – there was a strong wind out there but I averaged 23mph which is awesome for me. And as always, I forget that in a sprint, you never actually feel good. If you feel good, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Marty surprised me and made it out for most of the race!

I found out later that all the Speedo girls were part of Queens University which is one of three colleges in the country that has an NCAA triathlon team as an emerging sport. These girls are the real deal and have a bit of scholarship money to compete in triathlons with a great coach and facilities.  This is so awesome that they get this opportunity! Hopefully, we’ll see more colleges take advantage of this although we all know how expensive this sport is and obviously is probably cost prohibitive by many universities.
Anyways, I exited T2 in 3rd (I always take extra time to put on socks, yeah, whatevs. I don’t like dealing with blisters the next week). I passed 2nd fairly quick and 1st was about 10-15 yards up.  I just wasn’t making up any ground and was mentally losing it a bit.  Then I just tried to shut my brain off and run (although I admittedly wasn’t running very fast, at least she wasn’t gaining any ground on me). On the far back stretch it seemed like I was making up a teeny tiny bit and I gave myself a pep talk about not being a wuss and don’t let your season end with you not at least trying. I committed to finding another gear at the 2 mile mark and passed her just after the last water station.  That last mile was tough! I really had to work to keep it together and stay strong. I crossed the finish line 14 seconds ahead of second, who turned out to be 18 (half my age! Ooof.)

Leaving T2 in 3rd

Wow, that hurt!

When talking to Ali on the cooldown I commented, “you know, I don’t think I was actually great at anything, but overall it worked out” to which she responded, “yeah, that’s kind of the point of this sport.” Duh, hahaha. It's funny because I know I often look at results and think, oh who had the fastest run split, or whatever split, of which I had none, but I DID have the fastest triathlon split :)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Battle at Buckhorn Race Report

The Battle at Buckhorn is a fairly competitive local race in the town of Wilson which is about 1 hour away from Raleigh. I had been targeting this race for the past month after getting tired of feeling crappy while racing on my less than focused training.  As mentioned in past blogs, I became 'serious' which means all sorts of different things to everyone, but for me it meant not blowing off training and putting myself with groups that were going to push me harder than I can push myself.  I managed to keep it together throughout the past 4 weeks, even with all of our weekend plans and was hitting around 9-10hrs a week.

I was excited for this race! We were going to know a ton of people out there and the overall prize is a really nice belt buckle. Not that this is something I would actually wear but Marty has 3 of them on display from his wins in 2009, 2010 and 2011. I wanted one, too!

The morning of, I was talking to the best babysitter in the world while eating my breakfast at 5:45am. I saw Marty with my black backpack that I had set by the door walking out to the car. I grabbed my purse and water bottles and we were on the road at 6:00.  We only had one wrong turn which is very typical of us (so whoever decided to follow us towards the end, now you know better).  We got to the outer parking lot just after 7, which left us plenty of time to get over to transition. We had already picked up our packets on Thursday evening at InsideOut Sports, and it was going to be nice to not feel rushed and just warmup!

I got out of the car and looked into the backseat.

"Marty where's my backpack?"

"What? I don't know."

"But I saw you carry it out to the car before we left."

"Bri, I never grabbed your backpack."

My face must've looked bad at this point, I know my stomach was at my feet, because Marty's next words were, "Are you kidding me? You left your entire transition bag at home?!"

Okay. Okay. Think. I am wearing my race outfit. My helmet is in the car, my bike is on the rack.  Marty has extra goggles.  I have on my trainers. They probably will let me compete without my run number. Can I do this 17 mile hilly bike in my regular running shoes on top of my pedals? Because that is my best option right now.  HOW COULD I BE SO STUPID?!?!?!

There she is, packed to the gills, waiting for her owner to put her in the car. Right. By. The. Door.

I ride my bike to transition and head to Primo, who's on the computer. We exchange pleasantries then I sheepishly tell him I've left my entire transition bag at home and would they happen to have a spare women's size 9.5 bike shoe with Look pedals that aren't even made anymore? Bobby Dixon overhears and runs this info over to the DJ to announce and now everyone knows what a dumdum I am.

Of course, this is not the spare something that someone might have laying around in their car. This is when Anne MacDonald walks up to me and says, look, you will use my shoes and Dave will switch out the pedals.  I don't need to do this race; my race is in 2 weeks.  This is your 5th race in the series and you need to do it.

It's at this point that I start to lose it a little.  She is being so nice, and this is my fault! She can't sacrifice her race for me! I can't say yes to this!

She is very persuasive. I reluctantly say, ok. Her shoes are about 1 - 1.5 sizes to small, but doable.  I feel horrible.  I ride my bike with her pedals and shoes and it's fine.  I am still conflicted and then Jason runs up with his flat pedals from his mountain bike and Anne will use these.  But shouldn't I use these?  What is going on here - our friends are the best.

At this point its time to get in the water and I feel like I have already done a race.

Everything else is pretty unremarkable after my pre-race antics.  The most exciting thing is they decided to start the entire race, men and women, (~160 competitors) together. I swam okay, better than I have, but nothing to really write about.  My T1 was slow as I felt like Cinderella trying to fit my too big feet into the small glass slipper.  The bike was fine - her pedals have a ton more float than mine so I wasn't comfortable getting out of the saddle (so I didn't).  The bike is a long 17 miles on country rolling roads.  I passed a few guys and a few passed me.  I passed Erin early on in the bike to move into first and held it the rest of the race.  I looked at my feet several times during the bike, and thought, oh look how cute and tiny they look! They were glad to get out of the shoes by the end. My poor crunched toes.

T2 was also very slow. Tying and double knotting your shoes is not quick.  My racing flats with speed laces were waiting patiently for me back home in the bag.  My run felt good, or at least better than it has. It helped that we really lucked out with a gorgeous day. I was able to pass a few guys and saw Marty rocking the speedo a bunch of times on this two loop, out and back course.

I finished first and won the belt buckle.  I feel like I should give it right to Anne who finished second in her age group by just 20 seconds.  Certainly if she had her bike shoes and cleats this would've made up that difference.


All of that drama for this.

And just to add insult to injury, on my cooldown I was stung by a wasp on my leg.

So yeah. Just because you have been doing triathlons for 20 years doesn't mean you are immune to some very big, rookie mistakes.  I'm so thankful for everyone who helped me out at the race.  We really are surrounded by great people.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tweetsie Railroad

This has been the summer of short vacations for us.  We did another this past weekend, taking advantage of a little gem North Carolina has to offer in the mountains – The Tweetsie Railroad! This was one of America’s first amusement parks and is themed around a steam locomotive that ran from Johnson City, Tennessee to Boone, NC from 1917 – 1950.  It has a wild west theme with lots of cowboys and Indians and amusement rides.  Tweetsie is just outside of Blowing Rock which is a super cute mountain town that we always ride into during our summer Boone Camp.  Marty and I have always said that we would definitely take Logan once he was old enough to enjoy it and now seemed like a perfect time.

We drove the 3 or so hours to Blowing Rock on Friday evening and got to Tweetsie pretty much right when it opened on Saturday.  Logan loved it and had a great time.  He LOVES all the rides, and wants to do every fast, spinning thing possible. I have to opt out of the spinny rides in my advanced age as I now get motion sick but Marty is still game, thank goodness.  The train with the fake stickup and indian raid are fun for young kids and they had a petting zoo at the back of the park with lots of deer, goats, emu’s and llamas. Llama’s do spit; I saw him/her spit on a kid! Overall we really had a great time. I thought it might be too hokey but it was perfect for Logan – not too big or crowded (I think Disney would be waaaay too much for him right now) but still lots to do and a lot of fun.  Also, he’s terrified of the character’s that walk around.  Tweetsie just has a rabbit and a turtle but he was always asking, “Where’s the rabbit??? Pick me up, mommy!!”

After Tweetsie, Marty and Logan took their afternoon naps while I wasted time in a coffee shop reading a book.  Then we walked into downtown and had dinner and then Logan played in the park right in the center of town.  The next morning we had a great run to Bass Lake before stuffing ourselves full of yummy breakfast and heading home.

This weekend: The Battle at Buckhorn, a cookout in the evening, then the Durham Bulls on Sunday. Can’t stop won’t stop.
Getting ready to roll on the locomotive


Ferris Wheel!

Heading up to the top on the chairlift

Watch out, they spit

Panning for gold

More ferris wheel!

Tilt-a-whirl (no thank you)

Logan's pop gun is a new favorite toy

Tackling the climbing wall at the playground in Blowing Rock

Lollipop and a little doggie (which he named Tassie) to end the trip

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mid-August (aka where has the summer gone)

We’re humming along in the Gaal household. Actually, instead of humming we are talking about the Minions, which was Logan’s first movie in a movie theatre! Marty took him a couple of weeks ago and he loved it. He only got scared once and they had to leave for a little bit. Then I took him the following week and now every time we’re in the car he says, “Talk about the Minions, mommy” which means “Recite the entire movie, mommy.” We also had fun in the Asheville area the other weekend so Marty could do the Lake Logan Half. My dad has a cabin not too far away from part of the bike course so we rode his motorcycle out to catch Marty.  He had a great day and I’m glad we got to cheer for him even if it was for just a few seconds.

Logan had a good time, also, playing with the pool table (or as he would say, “can I go play with the water balls?”) – get it? Hahaha, Logan. They really do say funny things.  We are also fully potty trained!! Wow, didn’t think that was ever going to happen.

Training is still going pretty good. I’m feeling strong and….tired. Hopefully, I can finish off these last two races well. But getting into shape right now is not just for these races, it’s to build a base for next year because Marty and I signed up for, wait for it, The American TripleT.  With friends, who coerced us to do it.  If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an iron-distance over the course of a weekend.  You start with a super sprint on Friday night, an Olympic Saturday morning, an Olympic Saturday evening, and you end with a half on Sunday morning.  What have a I done?

My dad taking a picture of me taking a picture of Marty at the Lake Logan Half
Caught him in between all the trees!

Logan wasn't too impressed with this horse


But he was all smiles for the fake bear

We're making some progress at his swim class. He wouldn't jump in for the longest time.  When he's ready for something, he's ready. You can't really push this kid.

Feeding the ducks at Bond Park

Little guy getting big

Monday, August 3, 2015

Hardcore is in the eye of the beholder

Operation Serious Bri has completed week number one. In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to “try and be a little more serious and consistent with my training over the next 4 weeks and feel better at The Battle at Buckhorn.”  Guess what? I’m exhausted.  Here’s what my week look liked:

Monday: short lift at work, 30min easy run after work

Tuesday: Masters (!) I got in at the warmup, and got out at the cooldown, which yeah, I get it. That’s what you’re supposed to do, but I haven’t done that in probably over a year. Then I did a track workout that night where Oyler the Metronome paced me through 11 400’s.  I have no idea why the workout called for 11 of them.

Wednesday: 45min core class at work. This makes me very sore. I also have to cheat on some of the exercises.

Thursday: OSB interval run in the morning. I ran this at a moderate effort since I did track on Tuesday. Also because: Hard group ride after work. I was worried about getting dropped but hung on for most of the ride and felt pretty good. Towards the end I was taking my pull when all of the sudden several riders came flying by me. Apparently I was the lead-out for the sprint. I then (mistakenly) thought that would be the end of the hard section and we would ride in together, so I didn’t make an effort to bridge the gap. And then they were gone to finish off the hard section down one more road. Now I know.

Friday: swim in evening with friend Carrie.  This was tough, but a good workout. 

Saturday: Met Carrie (again) and her husband Whit for a 40mile bike/4mile run. This was great. Not that I felt great, but the company was great and I have literally not done a workout that long in over 2 years. Those two went onto do another 20miles on the bike and a 2mile run. They are going to crush Timberman. I couldn’t stay with them on the run, either. They are so fit.

Sunday: 8mile run with Anne Mac at a steady long run talk the whole time pace. Then play in the pool with Logan. Wow, I was really tired by then.

I turned around and got up for Master’s this morning (and made Carrie meet me). I felt horrible. But I got it in and that counts for something!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Washington Sprint Triathlon

The Washington sprint triathlon would be my 4th race in the Triangle Orthopedic Triathlon Series put on by FS Series. You have to do 5 races to receive some schwag at their end of the year party, so that has been my unofficial goal once I realized it would be possible schedule-wise.  This race is not as local with it being 2hrs away but I convinced my friend Heather to do it so we booked a hotel room and got down there on Friday evening.  Marty stayed back with Logan and they went to the Wake County Speedway on Friday night which is Logan’s version of heaven on earth.

He wanted a whale-shark face painting

Meeting one of the kid drivers

I’ve had nightmares about this race from last year’s version which was so, so, so hot and humid.  The run was a complete meltdown slog-fest that was not fun at all. Luckily for us this year, it was not going to be nearly as bad. Just normal summer hot. No issues race morning, just some miscommunication about the actual sprint race start which led to me getting absolutely zero warmup for the swim.  And then I was a Manny/Doug sandwich for the first 75 yards before I stopped and decided to lose time but go wide and be able to swim more comfortably. I didn’t feel good until the last 100 yards. Then I got into transition and managed to get my swim skin stuck on my chip. This was my first time wearing it in a race and am pretty sure any time I gained wearing it was lost dilly-dallying with it stuck around my ankle.  The bike was meh. At least I went faster than last year. Also had a car pull out right in front of me towards the end but I saw the little old lady from afar and was prepared for my escape route. I was in the lead coming off the bike and was not feeling all that great so was hoping to just cruise the run so it didn’t hurt too bad.

The run is an out and back, basically flat course.  I trudged to the turnaround not feeling it and then saw Liz coming the other way all spunky and bouncy and thought “Noooooo, now I’m going to have to pick it up.” Actually, I really thought she was going to pass me quick, but she didn’t and when I hit the 2 mile mark I realized I didn’t feel that terrible anymore so decided to press the gas a bit.  I was able to hold her off for the win.
I tried several times to put in a podium picture of the top 3 but the photo wanted to be upside down no matter how many times I rotated and saved it. So just pretend that it's here.
I’m going to try and be a little more serious and consistent with my training over the next 4 weeks and feel better at The Battle at Buckhorn (race #5 for the series for me).  I’d like to actually feel like I’m racing and be able to dig instead of just going through the motions out there.  Me being serious will mean hitting up a few group rides, possibly making it to Master’s and doing some track workouts. Hopefully this crash course will do the trick.  Now, our travel schedule over the next few weekends is going to be the hardest thing to get around, but hopefully my supportive husband will help me get what I need in.

Just another day in the life with Logan