Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Race #7 of the Season: 5i50 Boulder Peak Triathlon

I've been putting this post off until I uploaded photos and then I uploaded those and then ... well, I dunno. Some recaps are easier to write than others.

It also didn't hurt that for a while, I was very frustrated with my result in this stupid race.
In any case, our race morning started out like it usually does; wake up, get ready, eat breakfast, finish packing up Fiona, get on the road to Boulder, etc.

There was a wrench thrown into that day, though - it was rainy and it was miserable. We weren't particularly looking forward to this race as it was, and the weather just made it so much worse. The entire drive to Boulder was in this steady drizzle. We kept checking the Boulder Tri Series Facebook and Twitter feeds, making sure the race status didn't change. We attempted to stop at a Safeway in Boulder for some trash bags, but they weren't open. The two Target bags I grabbed last minute would have to help for the bike seats.

Despite the rain (which was letting up by the time we got to the res), there were still a lot of people when we got there. Including in my damn age group/bike rack, which is starting to become a problem (more on that in a bit). In any case, we found spots in transition, set up and took care of stuff.

5i50 Boulder Peak Triathlon
Rain on the bike racks.

After setting up, we wanted to take our bikes for a quick spin just in case we ended up having to ride on wet roads. It wasn't too slick, thankfully, but given some of the downhills on the course, we knew we may have to take it easier than normal - just solidifying that the race that day wasn't going to be too serious.

My transition issues started when I got back. When I left for the ride, I tossed my wetsuit over the rack where my bike normally would be, marking my spot (my towel with everything was already set up with my trans bag behind it). I get back ... and no spot for my bike. The girl who had taken my spot (from the other side) ended up shifting over after I explained my situation (hey, took my bike out for a warm-up, my stuff was clearly already here and the wetsuit on the rack was to save my bike spot. "oh, that's fair i guess." you guess??? it is, and you move. now.).

At the same time, however, some other girl had tried to get a spot on the same rack (one section in from the front) and the girl next to me (forgive me, but she was a right bitch) said that, oh, she could possibly take a spot there, but then there'd be no room to maneuver and that would just be bad. New girl kind of rolled her eyes but walked off to find another spot and bitchface just shrugged, making some comment about getting to transition early enough to find a good spot.

(which i *did* and still had issues with. ugh.)

Regardless, after enough trans drama, it was time to leave and get down to the water, thankfully.

Since I started about a half hour before Brandon, I warmed up first, doing two laps in the little swim area. Happy for the sun and hopefully drying roads, it was time to get out and start my race.

The Swim

While discussing 5430, we thought I started out too fast in the swim, which hurt me later on. Therefore, my course of action for this race, was to take it easy in the beginning and try to pick it up as the race went on.

For the most part, this worked. It took a really long time to get going and at one point briefly considered bagging it, but kept on plodding. That being said, I didn't feel like I got into any sort of groove until the shortish across (my typical boulder race nemesis) but when I did ... one of the subsequent waves (m45-50, maybe?) caught up to me and I got swum over like crazy. I started having sighting issues because I was trying for survival at that point.

Still, the last part of the swim felt like it went okay (if not boring. IM is going to suuuuuck because i'm going to be so. damn. bored. on the swim) and soon enough, I was out of the water.

Time: 42:20 (rate: 2:50; 1078th overall)

T1:
My new TriSlide worked pretty well as I felt I had fewer issues getting off the wetsuit. However, some of my stuff was scattered about due to the whirling dervishes I was apparently sharing a transition area with. *sigh*

While I may be slow everywhere else, at least my time in transition stays kinda short.

Time: 3:25

The Bike:
I took the first several miles a lot easier than I normally would because I knew I had the Stage climb ahead of me. However, I wasn't expecting to almost need to take those early miles easy due to my quads HATING me. Seriously, those first five miles or so were miserable.

When we actually started climbing up the hill, it was bad, but I expected it to be bad, so the pain wasn't bothering me nearly as much as it probably should have. Weird, eh? I even smiled for the race photographer because I was actually, oddly, enjoying the hell climb.

Then the climb took a turn for the worse and I had to stop to breathe, same as last year. Stopped, started, legs felt a lot better for a little while longer. Then I had to stop again. And I clipped out of my right pedal fine, but I don't know if it was because I was a little dizzy or what, but I fell over trying to clip out of my left. Oops.

No big deal, right?

Except I broke my saddle.

Yep, you heard that right. After I fell, some spectators asked me if I was fine - I was, just slightly embarrassed. But then I tried getting back on my bike and the seat swung. "Um, that's not normal." Got back off - and yep, saddle was definitely broken.

Old Saddle
See?

At the time of the race, though, the metal was out of the nose of it, too. Instead of three points of contact, my seat had one. I accepted at that point my day might be done. Luckily, however, one of the aforementioned spectators was able to somehow reattach the nose. The seat was crooked, but I could ride, and ride I did. I don't know how long this misadventure took, but I wager it was at least five minutes.

The rest of Stage was craptastic, as per usual, and the descent was nice while it lasted. That back part of Stage, from Stage to Lefthand Canyon Drive, is the best part of the course and it is waaaayyy too short.

Back on 36 for a little while, on to Nelson (where I didn't get the crazy speed I did last year - boo), on to 63rd and the rollers (my butt was starting to feel the effect of a bent saddle), on to the Diagonal which, again, I think I'm getting used to, back into the res.

Definitely not one of my better rides and I was glad to be done.

Time: 1:45:31 (14.8 mph, 1062nd overall)

T2:

While my stuff *may* have been scattered slightly in T1, it was everywhere when I rolled into T2. Plus someone stole my spot on the rack (AGAIN) so I had to, in turn, shove someone else's bike over so I could fit mine in. Ladies, have you raced a triathlon before? Put your shit back where you took it from. IT'S NOT THAT HARD. SERIOUSLY.

After a quick attempted reorganization of my crap, I got ready to run.

Time: 2:49

The Run:

Because I knew it was a longer run, I tried to take it a bit easier. That, and the sun was definitely out in full force and it was starting to get a bit hot (and there was still some lingering humidity in the air). I plodded on, running when I could and, from what I could tell by my watch, averaging about 10:30/mi. Which, yes, is slow, but that's not too bad for a tri run pace for me.

Given my bike disaster, I was just waiting for Brandon to catch up with me. I kept looking down the hill on Stage thinking I'd see him then and then I kept looking for him on the run.

The run went surprisingly well for the first three and a half miles. I forced myself to keep a steady, slow pace (unlike 5430) which helped me run more and feel better overall. A bit before the four mile point, I finally saw Brandon coming the other way. He stopped to talk, but I didn't want to stop much because I knew, after everything, I still had a decent chance at a PR. I let him know I broke my seat and then pretty much kept going.

That PR would have been a definite thing if I hadn't kinda fell apart from about miles 4.5-5.5. I don't know what happened - whether the sun really started baking me or what - but the run became a struggle. I still managed to gut it in to the finish, seeing the pros in the last mile (and not getting lapped by them like I swear I was last year) and finishing with kind of a sprint.

Time: 1:07:01 (10:49/mi, 1009th overall)

I then hauled butt back to trans (as best I could) to change into flipflops and grab my camera so I could catch Brandon finish. I also got a few of the pros.

5i50 Boulder Peak Triathlon
Laura Bennett coming in for the female win.

5i50 Boulder Peak Triathlon
Cameron Dye coming in for the male win.

5i50 Boulder Peak Triathlon
Brandon coming in literally right behind Dye.

5i50 Boulder Peak Triathlon
Brandon about to cross the line.

5i50 Boulder Peak Triathlon
Matty Reed coming in second for the men.

We then got food, our stuff and headed home.

Overall Time:
3:41:06
1061/1115
343/390 female
51/53 division (F25-29)

I got my PR, by one whole second. Woot.

Like 5430, let's play the comparison game:

This year:
Swim: 42:20, 2:50/100m
T1: 3:25
Bike: 1:45:31, 14.8mph
T2: 2:49
Run: 1:07:01, 10:49/mi

Last year:
Swim: 42:47
T1: 3:46
Bike: 1:41:49
T2: 2:44
Run: 1:10:41, 11:17/mi

The swim was 27 seconds faster. Like 5430, improvement, but not nearly enough. Ugh.

T1 was 21 seconds faster. That's significant.
The bike was about four minutes slower and a good chunk of that was thanks to a dead saddle. If I hadn't had that disaster ... who knows what could have happened. I know I'm a stronger cyclist this year, so I want to say I would have at least done a 1:40.

T2 was five seconds slower. I blame my transition mates.

The run, however was almost four minutes faster. That's HUGE. Granted, the better weather played a part, but still. That's awesome.

So, while I was cranky about my one second PR, I still PRed after breaking my damn bike. That's not bad, especially considering how much better I probably would have done.

Plus Bob now has a new saddle out of the whole thing.

New Saddle New Saddle

Monday, July 9, 2012

Race Recap: Boulder Peak Triathlon

I have officially ridden in granny gear now in a race.

More on that in a bit.

Boulder Peak Triathlon.  I had to fight tooth and nail to get this race off, and unfortunately missed the other half's birthday because of it.  Nevertheless, this was one that's been on the calendar since last year.

Our training the week before, to put it bluntly, was awful.  There was a lot of emotion, a lot of work issues.  No excuse, but still.  We both thought going into this race that we had no shot of hitting our PR's at the Oly distance. (Mine was 3:36:27 at Rattlesnake in 2010).  I assumed I'd be close to the same for this race, but I thought a PR was a long shot.

The weather yesterday morning confirmed my speculation.  Cold and drizzly.  After a monstrous heat wave in Colorado, dealing with 90+ for most of June, suddenly the weather has turned rainy.  Now, for those of you who are not familiar with rain in the Denver area, here's how it usually works.  It's sunny when you wake up, then the afternoon rains come.  Usually around 3-4 in the afternoon, they will hang around until dinner, then clear out.  It's very rare to get rain in the morning here in Denver.  But that's exactly what we faced yesterday morning.

Driving up to Boulder, we saw the drizzle just coming down like crazy.  We started wondering about the possibility of the race getting canceled, but there was nothing on the Boulder twitter feed about that.  We attempted to stop at a Safeway to get some garbage bags to keep our stuff dry in transition, but no joy on that either.  It looked like a pretty depressing day.

When we got there, there weren't even volunteers to usher us into the parking area.  We unpacked the bikes, pumped up the tires, put our bike stickers on, and started walking to trans.  It seemed the drizzle was lightening up, and I predicted to T that it would calm down once the sun came up.

In trans, T gave me a Target bag to keep my saddle dry, and I carefully set up my area.  I took special care to keep my running shoes dry as well as my bike shoes.  T and I bounced around, trying to just keep moving.  The humidity was very high, but the clouds started breaking up, as I predicted.  Furthermore, the drizzle stopped.  

I finalized my trans area, filling my water bottles and attempting to make my helmet sticker stick to my helmet.  That didn't work.  I asked a USAT official if it mattered and she said no, just for the photographers.  We got into our wetsuits a bit earlier than normal, but no big deal.  Then we walked down to the water.

Since T was going to go off much earlier, I sat in a lifeguard station and just kind of hung out.  We chatted for a bit, just kind of making a final race strategy.  Basically, the goal today was to survive.  Then T hopped in the water, while I hung out.

After the National Anthem, the waves started going off.  The sun peeked out here and there.  T got her two laps in, then we walked over together to her wave start.  I wished her luck, and a few minutes later, off she went.  I watched her swim for a bit, then got my own warmup in.  I did two loops around the swim beach, just to loosen up.  

Finally, my wave came.  I waded into the water and decided to line up on the inside, close to the buoys.  I figured with my swim times the way they've been, especially in races, that I'd be good there.  The horn went off and off I went.

The Swim
I feel comfortable in the open water.  I like to swim, and I think I'm a decent swimmer.  Yesterday was no exception to that.  I got into it immediately.  The first stroke was proper and from there, I just started cruising.  However, the swim wasn't completely smooth.

In the first 1/3 of the swim, it was definitely full-contact.  I took a couple kicks, kicked a bit myself, and overall just experienced what I've heard open water swims can truly be.  Also, I was discovering I wasn't able to break free of anyone.  The majority of my wave was right on top of each other, all swimming at very good paces.  It was definitely an indication that today was going to be a day that the good competitors showed up.

Somewhere on the back half of the swim, I lost my swim cap.  No big deal, just was sort of weird. I also got tangled up in a group of swimmers.  From what I could see, there were 3 guys swimming in perfect sync.  There were two others near me, so that made 6 swimmers in a tiny area.  I don't know how it happened, but suddenly I felt a hand hit me in the lip, and I was caught off guard.  I didn't know if there was blood, but I definitely felt a swelling.  So much for swimming being peaceful.

I swam some more then suddenly felt the bottom.  I dropped to my knees, let my head settle, and then slowly left the water.  I unzipped my wetsuit partially, removed my goggles, and jogged towards trans.  Swim = done.

T1
My friend Mike, who is a cyclist, talked to me about my transition.  I told him that I've been having issues getting my breath under me and therefore, my bike coming out never gets off on the right foot.  He told me to take an extra few seconds, drink some water, breathe, and then leave.  He said 10 seconds won't hurt.  

I took his advice.

The Bike
Wouldn't you know it?  His advice was good!  I rode out of trans feeling great!  I had a surprising focus and didn't have any breathing issues.  

However, I knew there was a monumental task before me: Old Stage Road.  It's about a mile of climbing up a 15% graded hill, gaining nearly 800 feet of elevation.  A lot of people walk it.  Some give up.  Climbing that hill is a right of passage.  Or so I've been told.   

First I had to get there.  I took it very slow coming out of the res, and then the very gradual climb to Old Stage began.  I felt good enough to push it, but decided to keep it dialed back.  And I'm really really glad I did.

Approaching Old Stage, I had to start shifting down.  I was in middle ring climbing up to the start of Old Stage.  Then I got there and shifted down to my smallest ring.  I'm glad I did.   

Then the climb began.  And for the first time in my racing life, I was in granny gear.

  

You can see in that video how awful this climb truly is.  A couple days earlier I was giving T a hard time for getting off her bike last year.  Once I started the climb, I realized that she is awesome and I promised to never ever say anything about that ever again.

The worst part about the climb, my friends, is not the climb itself.  It's the fact that the aid station is at the top.  Or what LOOKS like the top.  You'll get the aid station people cheering and saying "you made it!  great job!"  Then you get complacent and WHAMMO!  You have more climbing to do.  So you have to just keep climbing until you hit the point where they tell you to not go too fast on the downhill.  THAT's the top.

Anyway, climbing up, my back started hurting, and I averaged maybe 3.5mph.  But I never got off my bike and I never walked.  I hit the aid station, dropping my crummy bottle that held Gatorade, and in turn grabbed a bottle of water and a bottle of Perform.  I had drained most of the water in my aero bottle, so I figured I'd fill that after I conquered Old Stage.  Silly me.  The bottle fell out of my water bottle holder almost immediately.  Oops.  

I used the reprieve after the aid station to spin my legs out a bit and get ready to tackle the final part of Old Stage.  After making it to the top, I let my legs rest on the downhill, where there was a 35 mph speed limit.  It took riding my brakes pretty good to stay under 35!  

As soon as the speed limit was lifted, I threw myself into aero and threw down the hammer.  Aside from a curve that slowed me down for safety sake, I lit it up, with speeds in the 30's consistently.  The ride was amazingly scenic too.  Riding in the foothills outside Boulder is something I've never done before and look forward to doing on some training rides in the future.  I even saw a red fox walking on the road! 

Turning onto Nelson road, I knew I had to ride fast, since one of our stuffed baby dinosaurs is named Nelson!   And ride it fast I did.  I was still averaging 24-25 mph and feeling really good.  My muscles were not betraying me like they have in races past, and I was enjoying the nice weather.  The sun had sort of come out, and while the humidity was high, the temperature was comfortable.  It was just like a nice ride.  


Of course, the rolling hills coming back towards the res decided to show up, and the rolling hills worked my muscles a bit.  Turning onto the diagonal road back to the res, I looked at my watch for the first time, which indicated I was way ahead of where I thought I'd be in this race.  A PR was definitely in order.  


Turning back into the res, I spun my legs out.  I dismounted, then ran back into transition. I didn't know my bike time at the time, but let's just say it was a great ride.


T2
Taking Mike's advice again, I took it a bit slower.  The humidity was definitely high, which I knew would be hell on the run, as I do not do well in humidity.  I ran out and started the 10K run, knowing I was going to PR.  If I wanted to.

The Run
I knew my run training has been lacking ever since I PRed in the BolderBoulder.  I think mentally I've been a little burned out on it, which is not good.  However, I knew that even so, my running has not been terrible this entire year, so I could survive this.

In the first mile, I got my legs under me.  It took a little while, but not too shabby.  I think I did the first mile in about 10:05.  Really, that's not bad, given the circumstances.  However, it was going to be downhill from there.


Each mile seemed to go slower and slower.  I wasn't falling apart, per se, but my quads were definitely seizing up.  I ran into T somewhere between mile 2 and 3, where she told me she had a bike accident up on Stage and had to get her saddle fixed.  She said otherwise she was doing ok and fine.


After the turnaround point, I just made it my goal to survive.  I didn't allow myself to think about the lack of training at this point, because that wasn't going to do me any good.  I just wanted to get the run done.


Turning in at mile 5, I saw the pros doing their run.  They do a 1 mile out and back 3 times, which has to be absolute hell.  Their amazing focus, their dialed-in-ness, it was amazing to see.  I was both humbled and amazed.


As I got close to the finish, the male pro was about to finish and win.  I didn't catch his name, but I knew something big was happening, so I pointed at him, in a kind of salute.  Then I turned down the finish chute, saw T, and crossed the finish line.


Post-Race
T and I headed towards the expo, saw a buddy of ours at the Pearl Izumi tent, then immediately signed up for a massage.  My quads were just screaming, and I had to have them worked on.  The woman that worked on them found my muscles were very inflammed, and worked them out very nicely.  We finished up with those, grabbed some pretzels and oranges, and hightailed it out of there.  

Overall, this was a good race.  I PRed by about 13 minutes and aside from the run, was very happy with the segments.  As always, there's things to improve on, but for today, I can accept how I did with pride.

Total time: 3:23:57

Saturday, July 7, 2012

On Motivation in Training

While my training and tri season didn't get completely derailed due to my bike crash, we have decided to rethink some things regarding racing. Namely, racing is expensive and bike crashes come with multiple and expensive bills.

So, that, coupled with the fact that we don't really like racing at Aurora Reservoir, made us come to the decision to forgo the crazy back-to-back this year.

(The crazy back-to-back, in case I haven't mentioned it earlier, is doing both days of the Rattlesnake Triathlon, both Saturday and Sunday - the sprint and the Oly. Most people just do one of the days; you do both, and you do the "crazy back-to-back.")

However, Rattlesnake was where I was hoping to get my race goal of a 3:30 Oly. With that race off the schedule, it meant that I only had Boulder Peak, the race I'm doing tomorrow, to hit my goal. But, with the way training's been going, that was going to be monumental and really started to grate on me (keep in mind, this decision was made about two weeks ago).

With the possible added pressure of trying to do 3:30 at a longer race (Boulder Peak has an atypical 42K bike) and a harder race (damn you Olde Stage) with a perceived lack of training essentially freaked me out to the point that I gave up mentally. I know that, given my training lately, even PRing in this race is going to be tricky.

Of course, when one gives up mentally, one essentially has no will to keep training, despite the fact that one still has races on the horizon.

Combine that with the gross heat we've had lately, and, well, disaster for T.

The good news is, we found a late season Oly on the Western slope of Colorado that's fairly cheap, as far as tris go, that we think we'll be able to swing. It's a brand new race this year and, because it's in early October, we should be able to get in the proper training to be able to do well in it.

That being said, I'm ready for Boulder Peak to be over with. I'm ready for this stupid heat wave to be done. I'm ready for my transfer at work to go through so I can quit dealing with the stupid drama at my store and get a change of pace. I'm ready to figure out something else to do with my life so I can be happier with life in general. I'm ready to get my motivation back to run.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

June Thoughts

I'm reviewing my numbers from June, and like usual with me, there's good, bad, positives, negatives, lessons learned, and ultimately, progress that was made.  

Let's go over the bad first.

The Bad:
My running numbers were dismal.  At a time where I need to be stepping up and running big, my numbers were horrible.  I can blame some of it on the weather, which was ridiculous in Colorado.  90+ temperatures nearly every day, and a stretch of 100+ days for nearly a week.  It's no secret that it's not safe to run in that temperature, and being that I don't have anything specific that I'm training for (no A race) I'm not pressing myself.  Combine that with a sort of "peak" if you will (PRing in 3 running races) and I was bound to have a downswing in my running.  Bad timing though.  Real bad timing.

Also, my strength training suffered a bit.  Sometime in the early month, we made the decision to abandon the Mark Allen lifting plan and just lift.  That immediately caused me to put strength training on the back-burner, which ultimately isn't a good thing.  

The Good:
My cycling continues to improve.  I averaged 18.6 in my tri.  My average speed seems to go up every single ride we do.  I'm forcing myself to dig deep during long stretches, and I'm watching my speed shoot up considerably.  I'm still somewhat of a weak climber, but even that continues to improve.   

My swimming is great.  I saw big improvement in the first tri compared to last year and I continue to see pivotal gains.  

I am now 4/4 in race PR's, thanks to my tri in the middle of the month.  I may have only beaten it by 1:57, but a PR is a PR.    

Negative:
I have been doing great mentally for most of the year, able to fight through adversity and pushing myself.  That fell a bit this month.  I started coming up with excuses, which needs to stop in July.

Positive:
I was getting ready to swim last week and looked at myself in the mirror and didn't recognize the body.  There was clear cut muscle definition in places I've never seen it before.  For the first time in a long time, I have some body confidence.  

In retrospect, June was not a bad month.  Lacking in numbers, possibly.  But I feel numbers don't always tell the complete story.  I can hold my head up high and be proud of myself, and that's the important thing.

And on this 4th of July, I'm yet again grateful to be an American and proud of my country.  Even though Colorado is in a severe drought and firework shows are being banned around the state, I am still happy and thankful for everything I have.

June Roundup

This post will purely be about numbers.  

June Numbers:

Bike - 105 Miles
Swim - 3.51 Miles
Run - 26.57 Miles
Lifting - 1 Hour 54 Minutes

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

June Round-Up

I have thoughts I want to blog about, but first things first: the June recap post.

June ... was kind of disappointing, in some ways. First things first though, numbers:

Running: 25.44 mi
Swimming: 5.26 mi
Cycling: 104.06 mi
Lifting: eight sessions
Other: one yoga, two sessions of Wii Fit, one afternoon of tossing a softball around

I swam more than May and I got in the open water ... although it's been kind of disastrous. I also got 100 miles in on the bike, so wooooo to that. Running though ... dang running.

I've been trying to figure out the running thing. The vast majority of my runs have been fairly short and taken place on Tuesday nights (Boulder Running Company-Denver Tech Center, my running store, does Tuesday night pub runs - a three mile run from the store, then beer and brats for free after! Going after I finish this ... but I get tacos, not brats tonight). Which is good, but short, fun, social runs don't do me much good in terms of training.

There's also been the whole heat thing. I don't "do" heat. Yes, I'm very, extremely thankful I don't have to deal with humidity, too (ugh ... *shudder*), but it's simply not that safe to run in 100+ degree temps. Plus I've been working a LOT lately and I work very early mornings (latest I typically go in is 6:30; more realistically, 4:15-5:30am) so I can't really run before work since I don't get enough sleep as it is.

Brandon and I tried to get in a long run Sunday - had to cut it super short due to the heat and the fact that we killed half our hydration within two miles. Yeeah. Not good.

Of course, we could treadmill it, but I'd rather chew off my own arm. Seriously.

I have a few more related thoughts attached to this whole running thing, but I'll share those a bit later this week.

In any case, June also had our first triathlon of the season, which went ... okay. Clicky the link if you want more thoughts on that.

This post is rambly. And I'm not quite coherent. But in closing, crappy running in June made me feel like the whole month was crappy, and the hubby and I both plan on July being better. Much, much better. Hopefully nature will cooperate.