Thursday, May 28, 2015

Race #1 of the Season: The Dino Half

Only getting to this ... two weeks late? Three? Eh ...

If you recall, we ran this race last year. We thought it was ... okay, but probably wouldn't do it again unless the medal was a T-Rex (our spirit dinosaur, if you will). 

Last year, they announced the medal design in January. This year, it was, I believe, in late March. I saw the medal design and texted Brandon something along the lines of, "M'fer it's a T-Rex."

(The one time in our lives I will probably swear about it being a Tyrannosaur.)

We didn't take nearly the amount of time of this year as we did last year. I got off work Friday morning, we drove up to Utah, we raced Saturday morning, and drove back that night. We stopped and got delicious BBQ at Smokin' Yards in Idaho Springs on the drive up and dealt with pockets of torrential rain.

We got up to Vernal with enough time for packet pick-up - which was a fairly disorganized disaster again, but at least it went until 8 that night - and then grabbed dinner at a local joint.

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We don't bother with breakfast-for-dinner before races anymore, really.

Then, bed.

Saturday Morning

We stayed at the same Holiday Inn Express as last time in probably the same room, actually. Or not. Maybe they all look alike. In any case, we were down for breakfast just after 6am and unlike last year, they had pretty much all the food out. I choked down some eggs and papery bacon, Brandon stuffed something in, and we were off to the school to catch the buses.

Unlike last year, we also caught the first wave of buses ... which meant we got up to the race site and froze our asses off for a good 30, 45 minutes, if not more. I'm so glad a brought an old mylar blanket from a race with me because we huddled underneath it to get warm.

Race started late (again), and we were off.

This year, we were smart and paced ourselves out of the gate. We knew we were going into this race on virtually no training - I'd run maybe thrice in the few weeks leading up to the race and I hadn't run more than five miles at one time the whole year.

We didn't walk for the first time until mile five, at the tail end of the first big hill.

I started to feel my stomach eating itself (read: I was hungry) at around mile seven; I knew there would be orange slices at mile nine - I knew I just had to get to mile nine. I did, I snarfed several orange slices, washed the stickiness down with water, and kept going.

Soon after, the lack of training caught up with me and the wheels started to fall off and fall off hard. My hips at been hurting slightly since somewhere between miles seven and eight (that's lack of strength, right there), but I'd been able to help hold that at bay by really sticking to proper form. That failed me later and I started to need to walk more and more.

By mile 12, I started to pull away from Brandon - I couldn't run much, but what I could run was stronger than what he could. I think I ran that entire final 1.1 miles, picking it up for my usual sprint to the finish, passing a few people in the chute in the process.

Final Stats:
Time: 2:17:31
Pace: 10:30/mi
Overall Rank: 186/301
Gender Rank: 94/178
Division Rank: 26/47 (F30-34)

I hurried back to the car to grab dinosaurs and camera to hopefully snag a picture of Brandon finishing, but unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough.

We went back to the car and Brandon about died; the exertion plus the weather (chilly and overcast) did him in.

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I'm not quite as dead.

I was able to drag Brandon out of the car for some food (all the bread was gone; all they had was fruit. FAIL.) and a picture in front of the sign.

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After that, we found out our official times, headed to a gas station for more substantial food, back to the hotel to shower and check out, off to lunch and then back home to Denver.

We also both decided that it's really nice that we can B.S. our way through a half-marathon (something I learned last year), earning our third-fastest time. Mid-40s and overcast helped us out a lot though, given that we're both non-stereotypical runners and hot runners. Add 10 degrees and/or sunshine? That time is at least a good 10 minutes slower.

Garmin splits for the interested (13.08 miles; stopped my watch just after crossing):
Mile 1: 10:15
Mile 2: 9:56.5
Mile 3: 9:43.8
Mile 4: 9:51.3
Mile 5: 10:37
Mile 6: 10:18
Mile 7: 9:57.6
Mile 8: 10:34
Mile 9: 10:49
Mile 10: 11:59
Mile 11: 11:04
Mile 12: 11:45
Mile 13: 10:15
Finishing Bit: :26.9

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Skirt Sports' Tim DeBoom Night

Every month, Skirt Sports does a clinic on the first Tuesday. The clinics include a fun run (around 5K or just under) and something informational, whether it be nutrition, or run form, or whatever.

May's clinic featured Skirt founder's husband, Tim DeBoom. Tim, if you don't know who he is (and if you're a triathlete reading this blog, SHAME ON YOU), is a triathlon rock star. He excelled at pretty much every level of the sport and is the last American to win the Ironman World Championship in Kona. He was inducted into the USAT Hall of Fame over the Boston Marathon weekend and finished his career with a win at Norseman.

I've met Tim a few times previously, but only briefly (see: Skirt Sports 5K last year). Listening to him talk was an awesome experience - he's an engaging speaker and a great storyteller.

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A few highlights:

- During his first Kona win in 2001, he passed by Nicole on the run during an out-and-back portion. Wifey (who finished 12th that year), stopped on the run and waved her arms and screamed at Tim ... who was so focused and in his zone that he didn't even notice her and ran right by. Of course, being the lead runner and having all the cameras on him, this was picked up and shown on the broadcast that year.

In 2002, win #2, same thing happened, except this time, Tim stopped for a hug and a kiss ... and go figure, no media caught the moment for his redemption.

- In his peak years of training, he would have to wake up in the middle of the night to eat something, his metabolism was so revved up.

- He spoke of the long rides he'd do, from his home in Boulder out to ... somewhere, 60-80 miles away, easy out, hard back. That the gas station pizza that had probably been sitting out for four, five hours never tasted so good halfway through, and he'd grab an ice cream cone on his way home for another bit of energy.

- He spoke at length on Norseman, the last race he did (and won). How he loved the realness of it, the very anti-corporateness of it. That the lake you swim in his cold, and if the weather shifts and it got colder, they'd throw you out deeper into the fjord and your bike would get extended by several kilometers, but hey, whatever, that's Norway. That he would purposefully seek out the miserable days, to train in the rain and wind and snow and hail. That he had his brother Tony, as his crew (no aid stations; your aid stations are the friends and family you bring with you), reminding him of their early days in the sport, traveling around the world racing. How it was probably his most favorite race ever.

(I took notes so I could pass them off to Sonja, who's racing it this year.)

- He trained himself to have an iron gut, eating all sorts of weird stuff and going out the door for a workout, so if his nutrition plan went to hell in a race, it didn't matter, because he could eat anything on course and he'd be fine. 

(I enjoyed hearing that, as it means my run nutrition plan at IMAZ of eat whatever looked good was actually validated.)

- After he finished and I ran, I asked him if he thinks another American will ever win Kona. He thinks it can be done, but thinks that someone is going to have to go over to Europe or elsewhere and get beat up in racing, learn what it takes to be the best and get humbled, before it will happen. Knowing the image of athletes in our sport in this day and age, it makes sense ...

Overall, it was a fantastic night. I almost didn't even care about the run; listening to a triathlon legend, one who raced in the days when you could qualify for Kona at an Olympic-distance race, was awesome.

Again, thank you to Skirt Sports and Nicole DeBoom (and Tim, of course!) for making the night happen.

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Nicole reciting off Tim's accomplishments.

Friday, May 22, 2015

April Round-Up

I almost gave up and combined this with May ... but I don't think that would have made me feel any better.

The good news is, I think life is going to slowly start settling BACK into a routine ... which is good, because I. Am. Behind. In. Life.

Swimming: 5100m (3.17 mi)
% to goal: 16.4%
Cycling: 86.76 mi
% to goal: 11.6%
Running: 17.42 mi
% to goal: 14%
Lifting: three sessions (47:00)
Other: four walks (3:10), one yoga session (:10), five home improvement sessions (6:00)

The first part of April was half-way decent. Tucson and what it should have been fell by the wayside. Then ... house ... and those home improvement sessions (painting and stripping wallpaper and moving boxes) were logged because damnit, I was still moving doing something that was tiring me out and making me sore and it was in BeginnerTriathlete so SCREW IT.

(Realistically, I did WAY more than six hours of "home improvement," but if I think of it, I kind of want to cry. So I underestimated.)

May hasn't been going well. But I have a week left in the month, and I can start slowly working my way into a routine so I can kickstart the rest of the year and hopefully get back on track for the Year of Awesome. Because it hasn't felt so awesome in quite some time.

Monday, May 11, 2015

First Race of the Season - Dino Half Marathon

Over the past few weeks, you've read about my trials and frustrations at The Year of Awesome getting derailed.  The house has simply worn us out and we've missed out on a lot of things that we didn't in the past.  While fitness has always been in our mind, we've both just struggled with being able to get it on track.  It's not that we didn't want to - it's simply just not a high priority.  Getting our house in order has been priority number one.

So when we found out the race medal for the Dino Half Marathon was a T-Rex, we both grumbled at the thought of doing this race again.  After all, last year's race didn't go all that well for either of us.  Both going in undertrained, horribly organized, late scrambled eggs at the hotel.  It just was simply something we didn't want to do again.  But the T-Rex medal pulled us in.  So we registered together and wondered how we were going to pull this off.  You all know our training has been miserable and we fully accepted that this race was going to SUCK!  I told T at one point if I hit 2:40:00 I would be happy.  More on that later.

We got a later start than we wanted thanks to me arriving a bit late from a day trip I picked up.  Leaving Denver for the drive, the temps were in the low 50's and the rain was falling.  If you haven't been following along with our weather in the Rockies, we're dealing with a ridiculous amount of water falling.  Seriously, California is begging for water, and we'd be glad to send it to them.  It was a dreary, depressing way to start the trip.  As we slugged our way into the mountains, it cleared up slightly, but was still cloudy for most of the trip.

Arriving in Vernal, we drove to the hotel that had packet pick-up.  Believe it or not, it was less organized than last year.  Both T and I were just shaking our heads, practically laughing at the idiocy of us attempting to do a 1/2 marathon this early in the season with nearly no training.  We checked into our hotel and went to a bar for dinner.  Normally, we do breakfast before a race, but we've thrown that out as of late.  In fact, I had a beer.  My mind at this point went into "DILLIGAF" mode.

Pre-Race
I don't even remember the alarm clock going off.  I didn't want to get up, that's for sure.  T kicked my butt out of bed into my race clothes, and she contemplated what to wear. We made it down to breakfast at like 6:04 and mercifully, there were eggs and bacon available for consumption.  I grabbed a plate and just took it with me to the school where the buses would be taking us to the start.  

We pulled into the parking lot and unlike last year, there was a bus waiting.  We sprinted onto it and sat down.  When we were underway, I realized that I left my normal race shirt in the car and wouldn't have an additional layer.  Being that it was ridiculously cold, I lamented not having it.  Mercifully, T brought a space blanket that we would share while waiting for the race to start.

When the bus stopped at the start, we saw a couple fire pits that were roaring.  Up in the hills, we saw what looked like frost, but realized later was snow.  T jumped into the porta-potty line while I attempted to get warm by a fire.  Realizing that the race organizers were attempting to keep the fires going with wet 2x4's and kerosene, I bailed quickly and huddled with T under the space blanket.  We huddled for warmth and waited for our turn in line.  

After I got the porta-potta out of the way, I saw that some race organizers were making hot chocolate.  I grabbed a cup for warmth.  Not to drink, just to hold.  It helped.  I estimated the temp in the low 40's, and saw that there were clouds moving into the canyon.  It began to spit precipitation about 10 minutes before the race.  

We finally lined up and got ready for the start.  The air horn this year was more pronounced and we were underway. 

The Race
Last year, we killed the opening mile with an 8:55 per mile.  We were determined this year to be smarter with pacing.  Both T and I went much slower in the opening mile, keeping it at a conversational pace.  We hit the sign and my Garmin showed 10:14.  I was happy and for the first point in the race, smiling.

In mile 2, we very very slightly picked it up, but neither of us feeling it.  We were keeping it conversational and actually enjoying the run.  The bit of precip that was falling earlier by this point had stopped.  And unlike last year, I was feeling the race being downhill.  9:53 in mile 2.

In mile 3, we did more of the same.  Feeling great, I began to wonder what was happening to me.  9:48

Mile 4 I began feeling the first need to pee, but I was fine.  We kept going.  9:55 

Mile 5 we walked for the first time, on the first big uphill of the race.  We nearly made it up the hill, but fell just short.  We weren't bummed though; in fact, both T and I were in great spirits.  This was a slower mile than any of the previous but ironically felt the fastest of them all.  10:34

In mile 6, I finally stopped to pee.  I apologized to T, but she didn't have a problem with it at all.  We got going again, still in great spirits.  10:09

Mile 7 I began to feel the effects of the race and lack of training.  My hips began hurting and my calves too.  Mentally though, I was feeling very strong.  Simply put, I was stunned at what I was putting out.  I figured by this point, I'd be crumbling.  Not at all.  9:58

Mile 8 T expressed her concern about her hips as well.  We began to walk a bit more, falling apart a touch.  10:38.

Mile 9 was a dig-deep mile.  The race was becoming a grind and T expressed how hungry she was.  She came up with a term for it, but I forget what it is.  10:40.

In the 10th mile, we stopped at the aid station for orange slices.  Manna from heaven, I swear.  We were both hurting a bit, but instead of other races, where I voice my frustrations and turn negative, on this day, I was not.  I was elated at what I was running, even if I was slowing down.  11:57

In mile 11, I began to wonder what was possible.  I knew a PR was out of the question, and I wasn't going to beat my 2nd best 1/2 marathon time (2:15:48), but I thought if I ran well and smart, I would beat the time from last year.  I could even crack 2:20:00, which would be huge redemption from my lousy Vegas run.  11:19

In mile 12, T began to pull ahead of me consistently, being slightly stronger than I.  I didn't mind though; I wanted her to run her race at this point.  She patiently ran with me though. I'll be honest though; at this point neither of us was smiling.  We were both digging deep mentally.  11:36

The final 1.1 miles was hell.  T by this point was ahead of me and there was no way I was catching her.  Again though, I didn't mind.  I looked behind me and saw the 2:20 pacers.  I knew that if I walked, I wasn't going to crack the 2:20 mark.  So I settled into a pace that I knew I could hold, held it, and vowed to not make a break for the finish until it was right.  

Turning the last corner, I picked it up slightly, keeping the 2:20 pacers in front of me.  I passed 4 people in the chute, stepped on the mat, and pumped my fist, knowing I achieved something pretty spectacular.

Total race time - 2:18:30

Post-Race
T and I were both elated at what we did.  We got back to the car and I began shivering.  I think the emotion of what I had just done + the lack of food + the actual temperature got to me.  T forced me to the food line, where all there was was watermelon and orange slices and bananas.  I forced them down and they tasted awesome.  We got some pictures and headed back to the hotel.  

Thoughts
I would be lying to you if I told you I thought this was possible.  Like I said, I figured I'd pull a 2:40 and be happy.  I think there were two big things that made the difference this time around: one is that mentally, I wasn't stressing about doing well in this race.  I just took it for what it was.  Two is that I'm stronger than I think.  The first 3 months and two weeks of April were very good fitness wise.  Even though I wasn't running a lot due to injury and whatnot, my fitness grew quite a bit and it paid off.  

The best part is I'm suddenly motivated again.  I'm motivated.  I want to work out.  I want to balance everything.  It's time, and I know I can do it.  It's time to get back to what I was doing.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

#REALwomenmove

As a side note ... April's round up will be coming soon. It won't be pretty ...

If you've been following along with me for a while, y'all know that I love me the Skirt Sports. Earlier today, they launched the #REALwomenmove movement.

From the Web site ...

"We're on a mission to empower unmotivated or intimidated women and young girls. Let's show them what it looks like to make health and fitness a priority, despite the daily obstacles that get thrown in our paths. It's that simple ..."

"Who is a REAL woman? She is proud of who she is. She is confident. She does not judge, but rather encourages other women. She is comfortable in her own body. She accepts and loves herself as she is. She prioritizes health and fitness."

As a Skirt Ambassador (and blogger), I was asked to write a bit about what this means to me. Given what April has been for me in terms of fitness and training (hint: not pretty), I almost feel like I'm not qualified. 

I'm really more taking it a different form, as in #realwomenMOVE, since I'm in the midst of moving. Brandon and I bought our first house and we've been running up and down flights of stairs and lifting boxes and furniture and stripping wallpaper and painting and dear sweet jeebus it makes you SORE. 

And I realized ... I've been sore, but I've still been able to get through everything. The two of us can handle our furniture by ourselves and run up all those flights of stairs BECAUSE we make fitness a priority 99% of the time. 

Real women move.

The "freshmen fuck-ups" on my hockey team freshman year in college. Realistically, none of us should probably have made the team that year, but we all had a desire to play a little puck and it was a successful season. Out of our huge freshman class, almost all of us stayed on the team all four years, improving along the way.

Real women move.

It doesn't have to be running. I see so many women running because they feel like they have to, and I can tell they're miserable. Try yoga. Or pilates. Or crossfit. Or rowing. Or skiing. Or barre. Or jump roping. Or walking. Or stand-up paddleboarding. Or surfing. Or hula-hooping. Or ice skating. Or Wii fit. Or regular random dance parties in your house. I PROMISE you that you'll find something you like.

There is no right way to move, just so long as you DO.

Real women move. I choose hockey, triathlon, random dance parties, walking, lifting weights, yoga. What will you choose? I'll tag my photos and experiences with #REALwomenmove and #SkirtSports - you do the same. As a bonus, for every 5000 hashtags, Skirt Sports will donate a Get Started Scholarship to a woman who exemplifies the real woman traits above and/or is actively trying to break her own barriers in running/fitness.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Venting about life

I'm piggybacking off what T wrote about earlier today.  I had planned on writing about the things on my mind anyway, but her writing about it gives me motivation to do so.

The Year of Awesome has been slightly derailed.  Early in April, it looked like both T and I were getting things together.  Our eating had gotten on track, we were excited for our upcoming Tucson training camp, and we had made our offer on the house and were all set to close on April 14th.  Life was good.  Fitness was good.

Then plans got derailed.  Fast.

Right before the Tucson training camp, the level of stress skyrocketed.  I'm not going to go into details why, but let's just say it happened (if you're actually curious, send me a personal email or FB message if we're friends there).  We salvaged what we could out of Tucson and I would say both our stress levels plummeted.  With getting to meet Hillary Biscay, hanging out with our friends Debbie and Seton (owners of Trisports.com) and visiting my aunt and uncle in Scottsdale (and some additional relatives to boot!) it was a trip that had the opportunity to clear our heads.

On the drive back, the stress reached epic proportions.  To understand why, I need to start at the beginning.

Since late March, I had been diligent in getting our documents together for the house.  Our mortgage broker, Michele, was fantastic.  A wonderful person to deal with.  However, unfortunately, Michele had gotten completely swamped and had to give our closing to an assistant.  This assistant was, to put it mildly, incompetent.  She would ask for documents, I would send them, she would ask for more, I would send them.  Finally, it reached a head in Tucson, when she called and asked for one more.  I emailed it to her with the promise that it was the last thing she would need and we would have our number on Monday.

Monday was the drive back.

Somewhere outside of Albuquerque (about 90 minutes), I get a call from Katie (the assistant) telling me that she needed ONE more document.  I at this point was pissed, and told her that I was on the road.  She said it was imperative that I get her the document.  I said fine, stepped on the gas, and we made plans to hit a Starbucks so I could email her.  I began venting to T (probably swearing a lot) and made peace with the fact we weren't going to get our house thanks to Katie.  T was as frustrated as I was, but calmly made the decision to call Michele and ask what was going on.  Michele was utterly stunned that Katie had not finished our stuff, and promised us she'd look into it.  She asked me to send the document to her, which I did at an Albuquerque Starbucks.  Calmer and at ease, we got back on the road.

Somewhere near Las Vegas NM, Michele called us, completely deflated and apologetic.  She said that the underwriter would need a copy of a check I deposited for $80.00.  You are reading that right.  $80.00.  I again freaked out, accepting that this house thing wasn't meant to be.  I tried thinking of what our options were.  I called my bank to see if they could scan a copy of the check.  They were not helpful in the slightest, and I have strong incentive to leave them.  I called my buddy who wrote me the check.  He immediately sent it via text, which I forwarded to Michele.  She was cool with that, but the underwriter was not.  He needed the actual check copied.  The last option was to bust ass to the bank that I deposited the check into and hope for a miracle.  T was driving and we both agreed no stops at this point.  We were both hungry and needed to pee, but desperation.

Nearly breaking down the door of the bank, I voided my bladder, then spoke with the teller.  I explained to her my dire situation and she smiled and went in the back.  She found a stack of checks and pulled out the one for $80.00 that I had deposited.  I wanted to hug her!  She made a copy of it, and 30 minutes later, Michele had a copy.  Finally satisfied, she got us our preliminary numbers.  Afterwords, she expressed her frustration at her assistant and assured us that it wasn't our fault.  

The next day, we closed and got the keys to the house.  We were ecstatic...until we realized how much work we had to put in.  Wallpaper stripping, ripping down a mirror, and more.  Oh, and you know, moving all our crap.

So you can guess why working out has suffered in the past two weeks.

Both T and I agree that the tipping point was Katie making that phone call and making us panic.  That was the tipping point of the stress, and it really hasn't been alleviated since.  We've tried and done some working out, but it's forced and not really quality.  So we made a compromise: the rest of April?  Let it be what it will be.  May?  We pick it back up, and we pick it back up hard.  The house will fall into place.  

Because the Year of Awesome must continue.

Ebbs and Flows

They say April is the cruelest month and in terms of our fitness and training, it has never been more true.

NCAA Hockey playoffs were a bit brutal for us, as both of our teams made it to the Frozen Four.

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There was a trip to Tucson, originally for a training camp, but ended up being less about the training and more about the stress relief.

(Buying a house sucks.)

We got the TriSports tour from Seton (didn't take pictures) and had lunch with Debbie (thanks guys!). 

We met Hillary Biscay and Maik Twielsek (who are both SUPER nice) and I bought a Smashfest Queen kit (okay, so it's not quite matching).

We went trail running.

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We attempted climbing Mt. Lemmon (too early season for these lungs).

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Skratch Labs Rescue Hydration mix was AWESOME on this ride.

We both saw our teams lose in the Frozen Four, him to mine and mine in the national title game.

We rode Old Spanish Trail and ran the Rillito River.

On our drive back home, the stress came rushing back thanks to house crap.

We closed on a house.

Training post-Tucson has been sporadic at best, as we have had to do so many things inside the new house. Packing, wallpaper stripping, painting, unpacking ...

I did the Skirt Sports 261 Fearless virtual run.

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Ms. Switzer, founder of the movement.

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2.61 miles on the nose.

I hadn't taken a day off through the year until April, and now it seems like almost every other day is an off day.

I realize the house is probably the priority right now ... and I'm making it as such just to get through April. May, things ramp up again, house be damned.