Training Triathlon is…

tacomamacita2Tiring, overwhelming, and time-consuming. I am only 49 days away and nowhere near ready, especially on the run and swim very similar to last year. I am running more now than I was this time last year, but I have to step up the pool time tremendously. I am going to print off some swim workouts and try to start really incorporating them in my workouts. I would really like to complete this half ironman in Chattanooga in less than six hours. I believe that I can do this if everything comes together during the day, but if one thing goes wrong, there’s a big chance I will be much slower. I have the bike, working on nutrition, but the swim and the run need more attention. I believe I am going to have to ramp up early 4am morning running three times a week to make room for more swimming in the evenings. The bike is there almost 100% (not shocked there; do what you love) but I have just a few weeks left to tweak what I can on run and swim.

tacomamacitaMy husband isn’t going to be able to compete with me this year due to an injury he received on a mountain bike (his first-night gravel ride) back in November 2014. He has a separated acromioclavicular joint that is starting to cause more issues, and he may end up with surgery sometime hopefully later than soonish.

cowsLast year he beat my time by a good 30 minutes, and being that I am a little big competitive, I wanted to beat him this year. I suppose all I have left is to beat his time from last year, but really my real bait is to beat my own time by 30 minutes. Surely this is doable if all comes together the way it should. I am praying for good weather as well.

In the past two weeks, most of my cycling has been on the TT bike on the road. I thought I would share some pictures of it.



SEC #2 Green Gobbler (Chain Buster Racing)

2016_Green_Gobbler-1005-(ZF-10428-20249-1-005)Chain Buster Racing’s website says, “Our biggest race of the year, the Green Gobbler is held at the 1996 Olympic mountain bike venue: the Georgia International Horse Park.” Another course I had never seen or ridden. The week before proved to be a little trying in the Lofgren household. My oldest came down with a pretty serious stomach virus that hit on Thursday evening with a fever and vomiting on Friday. Friday night landed us in a clinic in the evening upon his insisting. I figured I would take him since he was begging to see a doctor. I guess at the age of 7, he was serious though I knew there is not a lot you can do about a stomach virus but just wait it out and use a lot of bleach. We ended up ruling out appendicitis purely out of “just in case” because I knew it was nothing other than one of the -virus (entero-, roto-, adeno-, etc…) but decided to waste a good six hours and sleep that I needed for Saturday. Kids come first.2016_Green_Gobbler-789-(ZF-10428-20249-1-004)

I ended up with 4.5 hours of sleep which is horrible for me. I knew I was going to be digging super deep and didn’t expect to feel great. I caught a ride down to the venue with a couple of friends and immediately noticed the humidity. I kept with the usual mL/hr of fluid and should have upped it. Hindsight.

I watched the 6 hour people speed off and felt my heart racing before it began. Finally it was our turn, and we were off. I had positioned myself up close to the front only to let fast people pass me in the open field part hoping that I didn’t start out too slow, but I did. I was sluggish. I always go through this self-talk during the start of a race where it is almost like I have to talk myself into continuing and you will settle out. Calm down. Spin. Breathe. Get lost in your music. Go.

2016_Green_Gobbler-511-(ZF-10428-20249-1-003)I loved the beginning. Flow, and lots of flow. I was able to really let go more than usual and my bike felt like a part of me. This is one reason I really want to find a carbon superfly frame and keep my stuff. I just love the design of the superfly FS. I am so resistant to change! There were two big climbs on each lap, and the first climb was a stinger. My heart rate hit 189, and I almost panicked. I had thoughts of cardiac stress tests and pain. There were always people gathered at the top catching their breaths. It was seriously quite the climb.

The second climb was more open and a stinger in itself.

Every lap magnified the pain more and more on those climbs. I saw a couple huge snakes. The creeks were fun – I would just completely let go as fast as I could go and kind of bomb through them hoping I wouldn’t flat.

I ended up being fairly steady lap to lap but definitely felt I wasn’t 100% healthy this time. I still ended up 1st in Sport 3 hr, and I’ll take that! Chain Busters puts on a great race, and I loved this course so much more than Tribble Mill.



The Snake Creek Gap Time Trial Finale

All week I had focused on the impending cold weather that was to peak just in time for the Snake finale. I haven’t been doing a lot of rides outdoors like last year and so I knew I wasn’t really used to riding in the 20 degree weather. I know I drive my biking friends crazy with constant questions about what to wear and what to drink. Forgive me. I am just not wanting to finish knowing I made a huge error, but this is how I learn… making mistakes and taking notes. This time with Zack’s help and the Taco Mamacita Hincapie lecture earlier, I may have a handle on it.

I screwed up some of the timing of my training leading up to the race because I have started running and maybe it played into the day as well. Can I please have a time machine to take me back to when the Chattanooga Half Ironman opened and NOT sign up? I still haven’t started swimming again since May last year and have no desire right now. Even with the TT bike Jeff had built up for me, I am just ambivalent. Maybe it’s the fatigue from the Snake. I don’t know. I don’t want to train to run or swim right now. I only have 3 months to go for that pain. I digress.

I arrived at Dry Creek cold as I knew I’d be and was thankful I had spent the time the day before preparing everything. All I had to do was put my shoes on, put my helmet on and go to the bathroom a couple of times. Oh, and pay the $5 fee to park.

I checked out what others were wearing. I looked comparable. Maybe. There were a few tough guys wearing shorts. I wonder if they are actually human.

I keep checking the time and things are going well.

Finally, it’s time to take off and had a few last minute adjustments with my layering and hand warmers in my gloves. The Hincapie balaclava was a superb choice I could tell. I opted to carry 2 L Infinit mix plus 1 bottle on the bike of the same. I also carried 3 oz of pickle juice, a Honey Stinger Waffle and a couple of gels.

I was off.

I did not feel strong but lethargic. The cold was real, and I had been out there the week before with Christine and knew the pain ahead. I wanted that feeling of January where I felt fresh, but the cold was interfering with my breathing. My legs felt the sting past the portable bridge and I set my mind on concentrating on my playlist and making time to beat my January time. Then, well, I learned that iPod shuffle means just that. My music wasn’t in order. It made me laugh. Shuffle, after all. I made it to the top of the first real climb (John’s Mountain) and did my version of bombing down which is slower than I would like and continued on to Snake Creek Gap. Here is a write-up of the first part along with a map. I made it to Snake Creek Gap around the 1:56 mark and knew I was behind. My plan was to not stop and so I continued into the climb out of Snake Creek Gap feeling the burn.

I descended down into the valley prior to Stover’s Gap and crossed the three creeks and noticed my derailleur started acting weird and I couldn’t pedal. I was almost to Stover’s Gap and had to stop and try to unfreeze my drivetrain. Mine was more about the design of my power meter with leaves and debris mixed with freezing water.

The Wall was brutal this time.

Once I got it going, I could tell my legs were not in it like before. I ate a frozen Honey Stinger waffle. I kept spinning and moving but ended up finishing 7 minutes slower which gave me a 3rd place finish in the Women 30 and older category. I’m glad I was able to get a Scott’s jersey up on the podium! Noel finished 2nd in the 17 miler and Christine ended up 1st in the 17 miler. There are some strong ladies racing, but I would love to see more women entering races!

The Snake is the hardest thing I have ever done in mountain biking and I can’t wait for next year. One of these days, I hope to do a sub-4 hour 34-miler for this race. I have a lot of work to do to get there. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to ride for Scott’s and that we had no precipitation on either race this year.




SEC #1 Taco Stand Classic (Chain Buster Racing)

I had no idea what to expect going into the first race of the Chain Busters SEC series at Tribble Mill. First of all, I don’t get out much into the Atlanta area to mountain bike. Second, I tried to watch the video online, but after a few minutes, it lost my attention. I should have remembered the big slow down at the beginning of the video where it appears no one can ride over some of the simple turns due to all the people jamming up the trail. They tried to alleviate this by a different way of starting.

D8E_5032-(ZF-5381-99306-1-002) (1)We were told in the beginning that the race would start as a Le Mans-style start. I had no idea what this meant. It did not look great. The 6-hour racers placed their bikes strategically along the trail at the start and then walked 150 yards away at the “true start.” I did not even know what to think except my carbon soled mountain bike shoes were not the right choice for any kind of running. I used to be a “runner” back in my twenties. I was never fast, but I completed a ton of 5Ks, some 10Ks, a handful of half marathons, and 2 full marathons. I had to stop running after a back injury L5-S1 due to running, bulging disc, and eventually DDD/facet arthritis. The 6-hour races started and here come all these mountain bikers jogging in cycling shoes. It sort of reminded me of horses racing or trotting down the trail. Everyone running in different places to find their bikes. It didn’t look appealing. My back was protesting just watching.ND4_0224 Beth Lofgren BOGO (2)

I placed my bike reluctantly at a point on the trail that was easy to find but wasn’t easily retrievable without hopping over other bikes and probably people. I didn’t feel great about it.

I walked to the start line and waited awhile and started the “run” to my bike. No bueno.

I watched in horror as a guy almost ran over my bike on the ground. Not my wheels. He missed by an inch.

I grabbed my bike and hustled on it to start racing. I figured out immediately the Le Mans start wasn’t a success. There were people clogged up on the trail, and I had to dismount several times. I could just feel my own frustration grow but I decided to put it out of my mind because everyone else was in the same boat as me. I could hear comments around me:

“We’re off the bike again? For a left turn?”

“Seriously? We can’t do a small right turn without dismounting?”

But what happens on a start like this is that people who aren’t that fast may be better runners. They end up blocking the faster riders, and it leads to just a lot of waiting. Kudos for trying something new.

Finally, I was able to get around the masses and start riding at my pace. It took several miles to get to that point, but after I concentrated on getting three laps in three hours. I knew I had a lot of ground to make up when I crossed the first lap over one hour. The concentration paid off.

The course is the most twisted trail I have ridden. If you want to work on cornering, this is the course. The Taco Stand was open for the first lap but closed after. Maybe there was too much mud? Maybe someone wrecked?

I got 3 laps in. By 4 mins. Honestly, I thought I had missed the cut-off time but found out after resting that the timer stopped 15 after the hour. Sweet.

I’m not good at passing people on narrow twisty trails. I did not overdress this time. I wore shorts, arm warmers and a jersey. The arm warmers came down a little bit later so that I looked like I had on cool tough wrist black wraps. Compared to Snake, I was super comfortable. But, it was an unseasonably warm day.

I carried 3 bottles of infinit/water mix. I think I did two gels? I had trouble handling the little bottle.

Getting ready for the Snake Creek Gap TT Finale in February. Hope for the same temps and a Scott’s Bikes podium shot.

The Week of Hurt

the trainer captured the attention this week

This week was a tough one for me. Not only have I watched my output drop significantly, but I have had some issues with wondering about a couple of stats. Then I also want to road bike more, which is weird. I suppose the way mountain biking has a person essentially sort of sprinting up a climb and then recovering all over the place has an overall effect on endurance. Who knew. I also thought that when I started doing this stuff I would miss just running after work with my bike to Enterprise to run as many laps as I could before sundown. Not so much anymore. It’s not that I don’t want to be out there, but I was bored. I may go back soon, but it won’t be to go as fast as I can though I would like to do that sometime just for Strava’s sake.

I get to add running this week to get ready for the Half Ironman. I’m going to admit, I’m not looking forward to the demands of all three: running, cycling, and swimming, but I remember last year the cross training really did help the biking.

This week I also used Sword more than Infinit. Infinit is reformulating my mix, and in the meantime I just wanted to try something else. It seemed to work OK with no real gut issues. I also started probiotics and some other vitamins just to see if I can maybe target what I feel going on.

Less than 4 weeks until the next race. I cannot wait!

My First Snake TT 2016 (34 miler)

Last year, I wanted to ride in the Snake, but had surgery and was still in recovery mode. I had heard it was one of the toughest races around the area, and I like a challenge. For me, it wouldn’t be about winning but about FINISHING.

Fast forward to 2016, and it was more about placing in the top 5. I wanted to run a sub 4-hour 30-minute race. That was my ultimate goal, but I had my backup I will settle for a sub 5 hour because “I have no idea what I’m getting into” backup plan.

I hired a coach (Steve C. from Echelon – coaches many others and the Taco Mamacita Road Racing team in Chattanooga) in October, and I have been adjusting the past three months to a whole different mentality of riding. Used to, I would just go mountain bike as hard as I could if I could, most days. Now things were changing with prescribed workouts and analyzing data and figuring out what my body can handle and measuring results.

I got my 2014 Trek Superfly FS8 (it may not be carbon, but she handles well with over 3,500 miles) ready at Scott’s Bike Centre in Cleveland, TN. I feel it’s a huge blessing to be added to the Scott’s Bike Racing Team along with some other great riders. I really am not at their level, but working hard on it! trekaftersnake

I spent every single day for a week leading up to the race checking the weather. 100%, 80%, 70% chance of rain. A friend of mine was bailing out. I was making my plan on attire and nutrition. And, I did not sleep very well the three nights leading up. I bet I was more nervous than when I took the boards for pharmacy!

Base layer and pants and shorts. What was I thinking? I was not. Also waterproof gloves that were too big. My cap was in the back of my jersey. Overdressed for snow or something.

The day called for 47 to 53-degree temps with rain likely. I settled for shorts with chamois, a base layer and pants over that. Mistake. My legs were hot. I had a cap on my head under the helmet. Mistake. At least, I didn’t finish out the multiple errors with the jacket I brought. I had on my new Scott’s Bikes jersey since I ride for them #trek!

I arrived around 7:15 am at Dry Creek and parked the van. I had only had a protein shake and a banana for breakfast because I didn’t get out of the house faster. I also had some Osmo Preload stuff too. It tastes terrible, by the way. I can’t get used to the flavor. It is the women’s specific formula. I had hydrated a little bit during the week but not as much as I should have. Everyone was lining up around 8 am, and I was off. Everyone goes one at a time a minute apart, and I settled into my prescribed wattage in power. My heart rate was nutty immediately, but I started settling down once the climb started. I had moments of deep breathing and a time while climbing where I channeled some Lamaze breathing techniques pretending like my legs were the only thing working and relax everything else I could. The mind does funny things while working hard physically. There are games I play mentally like:

  • Breathe out more than breathing in – ridding myself of CO2.
  • Inhale more air and sort of holding it allowing O2 to really get in the body. This is all in my head as far as what it actually does.
  • Music. I have a particular playlist that is awesome. Sometimes the right song comes on and I forget the pain.
  • Talk to myself out loud. “Come on Beth.” “Relax.” “Stop braking.”
  • And the mental section by section and noticing the time.

The bridge was out over the big creek, and it was fun flying over it without sliding off.

I thought I handled the climbs well.snake502

Mistakes (and I learn as I go!):

  • The temperature was 47-53 degrees. Basically, I wore too much. My head and legs were roasting. The torso was perfect. My gloves look good (ha!) but, they were purchased with liners in mind. Because the temps weren’t that cold, I ditched the liners, but they were bulky and waterproof. I love these gloves, but next time will keep that in mind.
  • I carry way too much stuff. This has been a common theme with me because I do not want to stop, but I ended up wasting 9 minutes stopping anyway. I had an osprey with 2 L and one bottle. At Snake Creek Gap I swapped out bottles. Not worth it. This will take practice though.
  • I took on way too many carbs on the ride. I calculated 80 carbs per hour!!! The recommended that I keep finding is about 30-60 grams of carbs per hour. I am not sure why I felt I needed so much gel. Perhaps I was just hungry? I’m thinking about ditching Infinit for awhile and ruling out the added protein causing GI issues. I took in 1,489 calories during the ride. I may try something totally different in the next 5 weeks to dial in some issues. The thing is I may be confusing what I am experiencing as fatigue more than cramps/needing carbohydrates. I should have ordered my Infinit without protein. May ask for that. May try another brand. I carried 2 L of Infinit on my back. I don’t mind the weight, but if I’m going to carry three hours worth, the bottle I had should have been enough to finish it without stopping.
  • Need to hammer it more. Period. It looks like to me I didn’t give it my all in power though my heart rate says otherwise.

As far as the course goes, I love this terrain. It is HARD. Hardest stuff around. Lots of rocks and lots of climbing. Over 5,000 feet of climbing in 34 miles. The new 50 mile option added almost 2,000 feet of climbing to the course.

The Snake 34 mile

The Snake 34 elevation profile

The Snake 34 elevation profile

I heard it was much better when they had shuttle involved. The finish line this year seemed a bit lonely since most people had to go retrieve their vehicles at Brush Creek and then return for their bikes.

Best expression ever for the Snake Creek Gap TT!
323 1 04:02:46 Nielson Jen 30 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile SouthPaw Cycles, Liv
327 1 04:20:50 Lofgren Beth 43 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Scott’s Bikes/Trek Racing
306 1 04:53:43 Whitaker Julie 49 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile
339 1 05:05:38 Richards Lara 34 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Sorella Cycling p/b Hincapie Sportswear, Inc.
320 1 05:44:08 James Deidra 46 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile
277 1 06:18:06 Hutchens Tiffany 37 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Dans Comp
314 1 06:57:33 Witt Erin Trin 46 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Traxxion Dynamics
200 1 07:17:35 Kocarek Corianne 32 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile
204 1 07:17:42 Costello Lisa 46 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile FMBR

The results after the first race. Second race in a few weeks.