Journey To the Finish Line

PR's, 4 children, hopes and dreams; I'm always running after something


kiawah island triathlon

Kiawah Island Triathlon Recap

It’s funny how an incident can change what ends up on your bucket list. For years, I was a runner. I ran 4-5 days a week. Sometimes I pulled on my rollerblades (yes, I still own rollerblades) or took a yoga class but the majority of the time I was lacing up my running shoes.

Then, after the twins were born, I likely made the mistake of jumping back in too quickly (ha), and injured myself. Like, I was limping around just walking, panicked I had broken or torn something and I’d have to give up running. When the chiropractor suggested I started biking (ok….), and then swimming (omg) I initially laughed. Biking was ok – Bryan had gotten me a hybrid for my birthday and I enjoyed the occasional ride, but swimming? I can’t swim! I could dog paddle to the end of the pool, but any considerable distance? No way. Still, I wanted to be able to keep running, so I reluctantly tried it.

Today, I started looking at half ironman training plans.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I wanted a bigger challenge than the sprints this year, but wasn’t sure about the swimming or training time commitment with two toddlers for a half ironman, so I met in the middle and chose an Olympic Distance. Interestingly, Olympic distance races can still vary some in the specific lengths of each sport (which makes no sense to me), and Kiawah was a .7 mile (1125 meter) swim, 25 mile bike ride and an almost 10k (6.1 miles).

Race day began early…..really early. My alarm went off at 4am. Luckily, even though the majority of the group was training for the Augusta Half Ironman the next weekend, there was another person racing Kiawah, and he so graciously allowed me to ride along. I was at his house by 4:30 am and we were on our way by 4:45.

I didn’t even know what 4:45 looked like before Sunday.

It’s dark.

Anyway, the first stop was packet pickup and number marking.

310 is my lucky number?
310 is my lucky number?

Then setting up the transition area.

Ready to Roll
Ready to Roll

And of course take a pre race picture.

Ready as I'll ever be
Ready as I’ll ever be

The walk to the race start was about 10 minutes or so – across a road, down a boardwalk and  .7 miles down the beach, since the swim was a straight shot end to end. As luck would have it, we were walking towards the beach just as the sun was coming up.

Seriously, you couldn't beat this
Seriously, you couldn’t beat this

The swim start was in waves. The first group started at 7:30 and each subsequent group in 3 minute increments. I was in the 3rd group slated to start at 7:36. By the time the groups started going I was just ready to go.

The Swim

Distance: .7 miles (or 1125 meters)

Goal time: under 30 minutes

This race was unlike the sprints in that the swim didn’t start in the water. Not only that but you had to “run” to a point where the water was deep enough to actually start swimming….. with 62 of your closest friends all trying to do the same. I settled myself near the end because I knew I’d be slower and wanted to be kicked as little as possible. Luckily, once that horn went off my competitive mode set in and killed any and all nerves I had at the start. I was SO glad I had done that one ocean practice swim, because the conditions of the water then made this seem like a breeze, relatively speaking. I ran into probably 3 people and ran directly into one buoy (oops), but other than that the swim went pretty smoothly. I concentrated on getting form buoy to buoy and tried not to worry about anything else. There was a bit of a current too so that helped. I actually finished swimming in 27 minutes and some change, but getting out of the water was another challenge, and the transition mat was actually up the beach by the boardwalk, which added another couple minutes.

Actual time: 30:06

Transition 1

Goal time: just don’t fall

Typically people in triathlons are selfless, but the dude in the transition area next to me was not. By the time I got to my transition, my bike was on top of (instead of next to) my stuff. Luckily, the guy on my left had already gone, so I just used his space. Also, it was the LONGEST.RUN.EVER from the transition mat to the actual transition area. Socks on, shoes on, helmet on, applesauce (yes I fuel with squeeze applesauce) in pockets, sunglasses on, inhaler at the ready and I was off.

Actual time: 2:11


The Bike

Distance: 25 miles

Goal time: under 1 hour 20 minutes

For a 1 hour 20 minute finish time, I needed to maintain a 19 mph average. I’d tried to do this at the last few group rides by going off on my own more and had been mostly successful, but tired. Race day can be a different environment for sure, but I didn’t expect any drastic difference. Boy was I wrong, and in a good way. A fellow triathlete and friend told me once during my last sprint that I was “mashing”. Basically, that means I was pedaling too hard and likely wearing my legs out more than I needed to. The problem always was I wasn’t sure how to spin enough on a lower gear and keep my speed up. Well, something clicked and I figured it out. The race course itself was nice – though I could have done without the traffic that just wasn’t sure how to handle the fact that there were bikers on the road. I finished the first 15 miles at a great pace, and was starting to tire a little when a group caught up to me. My competitive side kicked in and I wanted to keep up with them, and so that gave me the boost I needed.

Actual time: 1 hour, 13 minutes, 9 seconds (!!!)

Transition 2

Goal time: I really didn’t have one.  I had no idea what to expect.

So, remember the mystery dude who stuck my bike on top of my stuff in transition 1? Well, this time he stuck HIS bike on top of my stuff, leaving no room for my bike. Bad form, mystery dude (or dudette I suppose). So, I had to MOVE his bike in order to make room for mine, and I just stood there for probably 15 seconds feeling like I had forgotten something before I actually moved.

Actual time: 2:01

The Run

Goal time: under 50 minutes

Charleston isn’t Charleston without its oppressive heat and humidity, which has FINALLY started breaking the week before. Unluckily, the temperature decided to creep back up over the weekend with a high of 90. So, by the time the run started, it was warm. The first few miles weren’t so bad because it was shaded. Around mile 4 the run took us down the beach. It was BEAUTIFUL, but WARM, and it slowed my pace down significantly. In the end my run time was a little over what I’d hoped for but all in all I couldn’t complain.

Actual time: 50:44

And just like that, it was over. Amazing how something you train so hard for for so long is over in just a few hours. I stopped my watch, glanced down, and realized I had beat my goal time by 7 minutes!



Goal time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Actual time: 2 hours 38 minutes 8 seconds

Overall Female: 24/120

Age Group: 6/22

Swim: 82/120

Bike: 20/120 (!)

Run: 25/120

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Is it time for next season yet?

Olympic Distance Triathlon Training – Week 16 (The Final Week)

Taper time! Already….?

Sunday: Run 41 minutes (5 miles)/swim 35 minutes (1,400 yards). I had planned to try out another ocean swim, but with an hour drive one way and a friend who backed out I decided to stay home. Whether or not that was a good decision for race day is yet to be determined but it was COOL outside and so I was able to push the stroller at an 8:12/mile pace!

Monday: Swim 40 minutes (1700 meters). Swam 1100 meters straight (race is 1125) and then did some drills. I’m still slow but I honestly feel like my form is getting better.

Tuesday: Ride 51 minutes (16 miles). I joined the group ride and cut out early.

Wednesday: Run 24 minutes (3 miles). It was a local running store’s first Pub Run. Usually Wednesday is speed work day but as a group we decided to participate in this instead. Of course, the twins came along. It was a 3 mile run around downtown Summerville, followed by a drink. Who can say no to that?


Thursday: Swim 25 minutes (1250 yards). My official final training workout. It felt a little weird to complete, to be honest.

The final workout is complete
The final workout is complete

Friday: Rest day

Saturday: Rest day (walk with twins)

The nice thing about taper week is it freed up more time in my schedule to start taking the twins for walks again (the cooler weather helped too). The walking also helped tamper the “taper crazies” by allowing me to move without fatiguing my muscles too much.

So, for real now, training is officially over, and race day is TOMORROW.

I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.



Swim: 62 minutes/ (100 minutes)

Ride: 125 minutes/ (51 minutes)

Run: 23 minutes/ (65 minutes)

210 minutes/ (216 minutes)

Olympic Distance Triathlon Training – Week 14

This week was supposed to be my peak training week, but instead I’m renaming it fail week.

Sunday – unplanned rest day. I woke up at 3am with a stomachache that hung around all day. I never actually got sick but I sure didn’t feel well. I did watch quite a few episodes of Parenthood, so there’s that.

Monday – ride 30 minutes. I actually still felt cruddy and ended up taking the day off. By the end of the day I had started to feel like myself again so I did an easy trainer ride for a half hour. I watched a lot more Parenthood.

Tuesday – run 49 minutes (5.8 miles)/ride 80 minutes (24 miles). I got up and took chance for a run in the morning (hamstring felt ok yay!) and then joined the group ride in the evening. I’m trying to gauge how fast I’m going to be able to go solo on race day so tried not to draft for most of the ride. Man, drafting is so much easier. I’m coughing but I figure its just an allergy flare up.

Wednesday – swim 35 minutes (1250 yards) run 43 minutes (4.8 miles). Speed work day! Today’s run was 3 sets of 4×400 with 1 minute rest between each 400 and 3 minutes between each set. I managed a 7:30-7:50 average pushing the stroller and I was more than happy with that, but my hamstring started acting up towards the end (ugh). Still coughing.

my kids aren't headless this week!
my kids aren’t headless this week!

Thursday yoga 60 minutes/swim 38 minutes (1400yards). By this point the sinuses and coughing I’d been fighting all week has started to feel worse. Coughing all week and an upset hamstring made me think I should try to get some yoga in even though it’s not part of my swim/bike/run plan. Oh man I could tell I hadn’t done yoga in awhile. The evening was a big one : my first ocean swim. I wanted to get some pictures but didn’t want my phone stolen and left it in the car. Luckily, the guy I swam with was super patient as ocean swimming so SO MUCH different – especially because the water was pretty choppy and had pretty consistent rolling waves. At some points I felt like I was trying to swim in a bounce castle. I gulped a few mouthfuls of salt water (ugh) and stopped to tread water a few times the first half while I was trying to get my bearings, not lose the other swimmer and make sure I wasn’t going too far offshore. The second half went more smoothly but overall it was still SLOW. Luckily, I’ve been told  that the likelihood of Kiawah being that choppy is slim, so here’s hoping it’ll be a little easier. Still, I think I’m going to have to lower my swim time expectation a little. BUT I’M ALIVE!

Friday: swim 35 minutes (1250 yards). Still trying to figure out this whole bilateral breathing thing. Still sucking at it. Still coughing.

Saturday: yoga 35 minutes. By the time we put the twins to bed Friday I had a low grade fever. After hacking and coughing for a week (worse at night than the day luckily)  that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had hoped to fit a long run in but I spent the morning at Doctors Care instead. A steroid shot and some scripts later, here’s hoping I’m finally back on the path to health. I did some easy yoga for runners to try to work on the tight muscles from all the coughing.



Swim: 128 minutes/(108 minutes)

Ride: 248 minutes/(110 minutes)

Run: 180 minutes/(95 minutes)

+ 95 minutes yoga

556 minutes/(408 minutes)

And I survived an ocean swim!!!

Olympic Distance Triathlon Training – Week 13

Just one more heavier week and then things start to relax a bit. Except with this tropical storm there is an 80% chance of rain, and therefore super boring indoor workouts, for the next 4 days. Ugh. This is a really bad time to have hamstring issues.

Sunday: Run 122 minutes (12 miles). I decided to do a long run instead of the usual long ride. It was humid, and my left hamstring started to tighten up around mile 9, causing me to stop and stretch a few times after that. I think I maybe added too many miles onto my current longest run, but thought I’d be ok if I took it slow. Maybe not.

My sweat rag was soaked by mile 3 and I was ringing it out by mile 10
My sweat rag was soaked by mile 3 and I was ringing it out by mile 10

Monday: Trainer ride 40 minutes  and 41 minute swim (1700 meters). I don’t trust drivers and school traffic so I read a book while I rode. For the swim I did 1200 meters at what I’d consider a comfortable pace to see how long it would take me (the race swim is 1126 meters), and finished in 28 minutes and some change. I worked on my bilateral breathing after that.

Tuesday: Hamstring is still tight so got up so swam 23 minutes (900 yards) and then joined the group ride which lasted 85 minutes (25 miles). Skipped the run.

Wednesday: Usually speed work day but skipped it because I didn’t want to risk injuring my hamstring. Swam 33 minutes (1250 yards) in the morning and rode on the trainer for 40 minutes after work, but the twins and I still crashed the after party 🙂


Thursday: Group ride 70 minutes (23 miles). Joined the group doing the trail this time and tried to stay out front or alone as much as I could to judge how well I could do. You’re not allowed to draft on race day and group rides usually involve quite a bit of drafting.

Friday: REST DAY! Bryan and I spend a night downtown for our anniversary (celebrating a bit early  because the weekend of our actual anniversary is pretty busy) and have dinner at California Dreaming, where he proposed to me 5 years ago 🙂

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Saturday: Run 42 minutes (4.5 miles). Ugh. Hamstring still doesn’t feel right. I stopped every mile to judge how it was doing and ultimately cut it a bit short (was shooting for 50-55 minutes), iced and KT taped it when I got back. I have been stretching all week and this is just getting frustrating. It isn’t causing a lot of pain, it kind of….aches? But the last thing I need is a torn hamstring causing me to have to drop out of this race, so I’m trying not to overdo it. I did get some nice pictures to share with my IRun4 buddy though.



Swim: 130/(97)

Bike: 226/(235)

Run: 150/(164)

Total: 508/(496)

Olympic Distance Triathlon Training – Week 12

Yikes only 4 weeks to go. And I figured that if I’m going to do this I should probably actually register for it, so I did that too. Ha.

It was also a cutback week. THANK GOODNESS. For whatever reason, I start to feel burnt out with training around this time and for whatever reason start to question whether I can really do what it is I’m training for. I needed the mental AND physical break this week.

Sunday: Ride 94 minutes (30 miles). Not much to say about this one. Pretty straight forward 🙂

Monday: Swim 38 minutes (1600 meters). I attempted a speed work type swim and it was pretty much an epic fail. My goal was to beat my fastest 50m (55 seconds) by 2-3 seconds and then swim 100 in 2:05 and 2:10 with short rests in between. Repeat 3x. Well, my first attempt at 50 meters was actually 58 seconds, and my 100’s were 2:10 and 2:15. Fail. I did a 200 meter “warm down” and then attempted it again but it was worse. This time my 50m was over a minute and my 100 was 2:15 and 2:12. I decided to skip the last set, take it easy, and attempt it again another day. On the plus side, my speeds were at least faster than “comfortable” (about 2:30/100m) so I was technically doing speed work.

Tuesday:  REST DAY! We had a pre-birthday birthday dinner.

The tiny human demands cake
The tiny human demands cake

Wednesday: swim 34 minutes (1400 yards) and run 42 minutes (4.75 miles). I attempted a bilateral breathing drill workout. It was harder than it looked.

Don't try this at home....try it at a pool ;)
Don’t try this at home….try it at a pool 😉

I took the day off Wednesday for my birthday and had kind of a self pampering day. Massage, pedicure, lunch with Bryan. He told me to go buy myself something nice, so I bought new running shoes. 🙂 I had planned to take the twins to speed work with me but it looked like rain so my parents picked them up. The solo run was nice, admittedly. This weeks’ workout was 6×800 at 5k pace. I shot for a little faster than 5k and did so on 5/6 of the sets.

The "Virginia-fie"
The “Virginia-fie”

Thursday: Ride 50 minutes (spin class). I needed a break from the usual. It was a nice break.

Friday: REST DAY

Saturday: Run 20 minutes (2.3 miles) and swim 25 minutes (1150 yards). I attempted a swim with a wetsuit in case I decide to go for one in the ocean. It was…interesting. Not too constricting and definitely made me faster, but just felt warm in the already overly warm water.



Swim: 101 minutes/ (101 minutes)

Ride: 136 minutes/ (136 minutes)

Run: 67 minutes/ (67 minutes)

Next Week is going to be a rough one as it’s another 8 hour training week. How do people training for half and full ironman’s do it??

Olympic Distance Triathlon Training – Week 11

Eek 5 weeks to go. This week was the highest number of hours (a little over 8) that I’ve completed so far. I was honestly really relieved when Saturday’s run was over because next week is a recovery week! Actually, what is it called anyway? A taper week? (I called it that and someone asked what race I was tapering for) Recovery week? Step back week? Whatever it is, I’m glad for one.

Sunday – Swim 20 minutes, Ride 50 minutes and run 25 minutes. It was the final sprint triathlon so those times included warm up.

And all my friends say I'm pretty fly with my inhaler
And all my friends say I’m pretty fly with my inhaler

Monday – Run 27 minutes (3ish miles) with Chance early in the morning and a 40 minute swim (1500 meters) around lunchtime. I’m still working on bilateral breathing and was tired from the race so focused on that this time around. I’m still doing a 2:1 ratio (2 breaths on right to 1 on left) and stopping briefly at the end of the pool but progress is being made.

Tuesday – Group ride/run. Ride 80 minutes (24.5 miles) and run 15 min (1.8 miles). I still felt like I was recovering from Sunday so it just felt hard. I think. I can’t really remember this one. (HA)

Wednesday – Swim 30 minutes (1200 yards) in the morning and run 40 minutes (4.8 miles) with the speedwork group in the evening. I brought the twins along with me again this week. Let me tell you – running with a stroller, and attempting to run fast – is not easy. This weeks workout (with warm up and cool down) was 3 sets of 8×200 at 10-15 seconds faster than 5k pace with 30 seconds rest between each 200 and 3 minutes rest between each set. My “stroller” 5k pace is about an  8:05, so I aimed for 7:45-7:50. I’m horrible at pacing myself. My first mile average was 6:57 (uhh), the second was 7:56 and the third was 7:18. I was all over the place, though at least consistent each mile I suppose.

My kids are headless
My kids are headless

Thursday– group ride/run. Ride 75 min (23 miles) and run 26 minutes (3 miles). THIS one felt hard, because my quads were still yelling at me from spadework the night before. Also, I counted walking to the run start in my time and gave myself 30 minutes 🙂

Friday – REST DAY

Saturday – I had planned a swim/run but decided to do just a run. Run 53 minutes (6 miles) with a couple minute walk cool down. Legs still hated me. Make mental note to stretch more. I ended up a bit short overall but we walked around a lot with the twins so that counts.


Planned/(Actual) – adjusted a bit but overall time still the same

Swim: 120 minutes/ (90 minutes)

Bike: 226 minutes/ (205 minutes)

Run: 160 minutes/ (192 minutes)

Total: 504 (487)

Olympic Distance Triathlon Training – Week 10

Double digits!

Sunday: 2 hour ride (41 miles). This was a rough ride for me. I made the mistake of not taking my daily allergy pill (I’ve been experimenting not taking it and it’s actually been ok more often than not) OR the Singular the night before, and suffered through the first 2/3 of the ride. Luckily, I wasn’t a TOTAL dummy, and brought a Zyrtec with me. I took it when we stopped and was ok for the rest. Lesson learned.

Monday: swim 64 minutes (2300 meters). I was feeling overwhelmed by the idea of swimming for over an hour, I’m not going to lie. As it turns out, I forgot to keep track of my swim vs. rest time and just stopped when I thought I was done. I stopped my watch at 63 minutes and 40 some seconds – couldn’t do that again if I tried. I did some more drills this time around, too, and started focusing on trying to breathe bilaterally (I only breathe on the right currently – my left side is much weaker).

Tuesday: Group ride/run. Ride 75 minutes (24.5 miles) and run 15 minutes (1.75 miles). We took a different route this week and the change of scenery was nice, but man no matter how much I say I’m going to “take it easy”, my competitive nature kicks in and I want to try to keep up with the fast group. The problem is, I’m not quite fast enough. I did, however, manage to get up to 28mph once! I slowed down because I was afraid I was going to fall off!

Wednesday: speedwork day! Run 43 minutes (4.5 miles). It was FINALLY not feeling like the 7th level of hell outside, so I took the twins with me.

Mom and twins take on the track!
Mom and twins take on the track!

The workout was 8×400 at slightly faster than 5k pace, with 200 recovery. My recoveries, admittedly, were mostly walking. I’d blame the cracker requesting but really I was also tired. Still, I managed to stay within my goal (slightly faster than stroller 5k pace) for at least the 400’s. Since we’d had such a good workout, I drug them out for recovery drinks.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 2.10.49 PM

Thursday: easier day. swim 32 minutes (1200 yards). Focused on sighting and bilateral breathing. I’m getting better at it!

Friday: REST DAY!

Saturday: Run 43 minutes (5 miles). Originally I had planned to do a short swim/run brick, but either I’m FINALLY starting to get used to the humidity or the temp has been dropping a bit, because runs have started to feel not as soupy. So, I decided I’d really like to get in a good run. A friend was doing an 18 miler so I joined him for 5 of it, with an average pace of 8:41.

Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that my legs are a bit more tired for a run of that distance and pace thanI feel like they should be. I’ve REALLY dropped the running mileage and picked up the swimming over the summer. The problem is I want to follow the “Run Less, Run Faster” plan for the marathon in January (running 3x a week is really optimal for me both mentally and physically) and it recommends starting with a 25 mile per week base. This week, I ran 12 miles. So, I’m going to be tweaking my my times to have a bit less swimming and a bit more running so that I can be up to at least 20 miles a week by the end of September. Honestly, that 30-45 minutes per week isn’t going to make me a phenomenal swimmer in 6 weeks and I know I can do the distance (just not fast), and I’m mentally ready to put in some more time running.


Planned/ (Actual)

Swim: 153 minutes/ (122 minutes)

Bike: 205 minutes/ (195 minutes)

Run: 102 minutes/ (102 minutes)

I was a little short this week, but I purposely took it a little easier because the final sprint race of the season for me is tomorrow. 🙂

Next week is another heavy week. It may actually be the peak week at a little over 8 hours total)

Swim: 120 minutes (2 hours)

Bike: 226 minutes (3 hours 46 minutes)

Run: 160 minutes (2 hours 40 minutes)

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