Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hot Run

This summer, the heat has really been a factor in training.  

Thanks to record temps across the west and midwest, where I do the majority of my overnights, running outside has been, interesting, to say the least.  I've done some morning runs as early as 4 am to beat the heat, and even those have been hot at times!  Furthermore, I've learned a few things about my body and how it responds to uber hot temperatures.

I run very hot.  In other words, I heat up quick and I sweat a lot.  I remember when I was younger playing hockey I was a sweaty hockey player, which is kind of ironic when you're playing in a 10 degree ice arena (or -20, if it was a high school home game!).  I also have learned something about taking in fluids.  It's best to take in a ton of fluid the day BEFORE I do a long run, so I don't  get that sloshy feeling in my stomach.

Today, I went for a 7.5 mile run in Wichita.  It was 97 degrees.  About two weeks ago, I did this same run at a 9:52 per mile.  But I did it at 7:15 in the morning, when it was 65 degrees, so we're looking at a 32 degree difference.  Very significant.  I forced myself to dial it back, because I knew I had a long way to go.  I also cherished every ounce of shade on the run and every breeze that kicked up.  I carried my fuel belt with water and flat Pepsi.  Although both got warm, they were very refreshing and kept me going.  

I'd say around 4 miles in, after I made the turnaround point, my body decided it had enough.  I kind of felt like a horse who fell apart at the 3/4 pole and needed a whip to get moving.  I've noticed on hot runs, this happens.  My body breaks down very quickly.  The important thing is to keep moving, even if I walk.  I think about the Ironman that I want to attempt in 2013, and I know as a weaker runner, that if I stop, I probably will stop for good that day.  So it's a lesson in determination and drive.

Running hot definitely wears me out, but there's a bit of pride in it.  While other athletes are sitting inside taking the day off, or are on the treadmill, I'm out there putting in the miles I need to succeed. :-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Race #8 of the Season: Tri for the Cure

Late, yeah, I know.

This race was a big one in some respects - triathlon #12 of the career. I've come a long way from the first time I did this race way back in 2007. I've run a lot of races, I've done several Olympic-distance tris and I've done my first half-Ironman. This race kind of sucks in several ways (ways in which I'll describe later), but it's a return to my roots. And, with our decision to solely do shorter races this year, I figured it was a good time to return to this race.

My friend Genevieve, who I also did the race with my first year, also intended on racing this year and that contributed to my decision. However, she ended up not being able to race as she had to be on call for her job.

Despite that, she still spent the night at our apartment the night before so she could go up with us on race day and watch and cheer as long as she could.

As a result, the night before the race was a late one, much like when I first raced this race five years ago. Five years ago, my brother had his house-warming party the night before the race. As a good sister, I stopped by (with Gen, ironically) ... and ended up staying up a little later than I would have liked, figuring it was okay because I usually stayed up that late - keeping with the schedule, you know?

This year, I was waiting for Brandon to come home. He ended up coming home for the night on a Colorado Springs overnight, watching me race while technically at work. I caught up with Gen waiting for Brandon to come home, staying up late but not regretting it a second. I know I race better relaxed and going to bed relaxed would be better in the long run - or so I figured.

Earlier that day, I rode my bike to the expo for packet pick-up and chit-chatted with the higher powers that be at Skirt Sports which may hopefully result in something cool ... more on that if I learn more. Regardless, the chats put me in a giddy mood for the rest of the day and carried over to that night.

Race Day

The day of, Brandon and I woke up early, turned on the Olympic women's marathon for a bit and then as soon as I was packed up, borrowed Gen's car and drove up to Cherry Creek State Park. We parked, unpacked my stuff and got me a prime spot in transition. We then walked back to the car, drove home and ate breakfast and continued to watch the marathon.

(side note: Shalane was not wearing the knee socks ... why? pretty sure that was half her problem ... her power was gone!)

With about 90 minutes before my wave start, we left the house and walked up to the race (Gen decided to drive just in case she needed to bug out). Once we got up to the site, we split up - I went into trans to actually get my area set up and get ready to race while Brandon and Gen hung out.

Tri for the Cure

The Swim

The swim wave came around a little unexpectedly; they were announcing the waves to line up to get ready - I heard the groups before my wave ... and then I heard the groups after. As soon as I heard them call the later groups, I dashed off and squashed my way down through to my wave. Oops.

However, I got there in time and off. There were a ton of people - Tri for the Cure does a great job with the wave starts and organization with the thousands of people that do the race, but that still didn't prevent swim bottlenecks.

The swim itself was an upside-down triangle. I finally had a little space to myself at the bottom of the triangle, but as soon as I turned back to shore, I ran into more people.

This was a little annoying, but I ultimately think it helped me; I think I may have (inadvertently) drafted for the first time in a race because it led me to my fastest swim time. EVER.

Time: 18:00 (785th overall)

T1

I forgot how long the run up from the swim to transition was. Ugh.

Tri for the Cure Tri for the Cure

Yeah, I stopped running at one point. I got ready to ride and then clomped the long-as way to the bike out, waving at Brandon and Gen again.

Tri for the Cure Tri for the Cure

Time: 4:31

The Bike

This bike course is so familiar to me and I knew where I could push it and where I needed to hold back. Brandon and I rode the course a few times to specifically figure that out for me. I felt good at the outset so I pushed slightly harder at the beginning than planned.

The few issues I had were on the shooting center road past the point where the road is typically closed. It was very, very crowded on this section and the road needs repaved. Badly.

It was really hard to pass in this section, there was a lot of clumping of riders. It's hard for me - the Tri for the Cure is a really beginner-friendly race which is ultimately a good thing. However, it's not nice when people (un)intentionally ride tandem and draft off each other.

The super frustrating part of that was they changed the wave starts this year to go by ability level. I'm not a beginner by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn't quite meet the requirements for the competitive wave, either. So, I lumped myself in the intermediate wave which essentially assumes that this race wasn't your first rodeo ... but I know that it was for some just listening to people in my wave before the swim.

So, while I wanted to bomb it on the return part of the shooting center road out and back, I really couldn't do it and lost a bit of speed as a result due to slowing down to either people roadblocks or potholes.

Once back on the main road, I pushed the speed as much as I dared without killing myself, saving some energy for the death hill.

The death hill, all things considered, I did alright. It wasn't pretty, but I did it.

I turned to the downhill section and one of my proudest moments came on the turn at the bottom of the hill - I still managed to make the turn going 20-something mph, which is fast for me ... especially considering I still corner a bit tentatively after the crash (four months later, I know).

I rode steadily back, following the race plan except for taking in nutrition on the bike - I didn't feel like I needed it, so I didn't take my gel as planned.

I also didn't see Brandon or Gen coming back into transition; apparently I rode faster than they expected me to.

Time: 38:40 (17.6 mph, 260th overall)

T2

I got off my bike and clomped my way back to my spot to get ready for the run. Easy peasy.

Time: 2:43

The Run

I'm not going to sugarcoat this - the first half of this run f'ing blows. It's all uphill, there's no shade (well, there's no shade at all on the run) and it's on pavement on the Dam Road with rocks all around you - you run in an oven. Ugh.

I sort of ran the first little bit past the tents (including the SkirtSports booth) and then decided, "screw it," walked and took in my gel.

I ran/walked pretty much the whole first mile which, as I said before, is entirely uphill. I hit the mile one marker at either 10:20ish or 10:30ish; I forget now.

I picked it up slightly in mile two, particularly after the turnaround point where the course started to go downhill. I kept up my steady run/walk rotation and made up time.

Mile three was almost entirely running and almost entirely downhill.

They changed the finisher's chute slightly from the last time I did this race, but it really didn't amount to much. It was just something I remember thinking as I neared the finish.

There was a woman at the end that I came up on in the chute that I tried so badly to beat across the line (because I'm crazy like that) and according to the race photos, I did, so woo to that! I also finally saw Brandon at the end of the race, but unfortunately he missed getting a photo of me crossing the line. Boo.

Time: 30:12 (9:44/mi, 508th overall)

I met up with Brandon and Gen, grabbed some food, talked to Chris at the SkirtSports booth, went home, showered, grabbed food and busted our butts back down to the Springs so Brandon could get back to work.

All of those numbers, though? Added up to a HUGE race PR. A 13:14 race PR from the first time I did the race (1:47:22) and damn near a 30 minute PR from the only other time I did the race (2:00:20)

Overall Time:
1:34:08
326/1971 overall
40/198 division (25-29)

The bummer of it all is that I'm still 4:08 off from being able to race this race "competitively", but it's all good. I'll miss it next year for the same reason I didn't race it last year - it always falls on the same day as IMBoulder70.3 ... which I'm doing next year.

Still, huge PRs are huge PRs. That's the fastest swim I've ever had in a race, my fastest bike split (er, average) as far as I can tell and I'm pretty sure my fastest run. I'll take it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

*squee*

I still have my Tri for the Cure recap to do (Monday, probably, or later tonight), but I just got back from the gym and neeeeeeeeed to do a quick post.

So I swam today. 1000m, nothing special.

BUT.

The speed! I did 2x100m, 1x600m, 2x100m. As I typically do, my first either 50m or 100m of any pool workout I go as fast as I can. Today, I did UNDER 2:00 for the FIRST time EVER - 1:59.58! I was at 800m in 18:18, which is some of the fastest I've ever swam that distance.

Also: total time today was 22:30.19 ... that's four minutes faster than I was doing the same distance back in Februrary. Four minutes! That's also comparable to some of my 900m times from March and April:

23:20.87
22:40.70
23:03.03

I've swam close to 30 miles this year and it's FINALLY paying off which makes me so, so, so, so, SO happy.

Not that you could tell, or anything.

P.S.: My weight was under 165 (163!) for the first time in like a year, so that was nice too. My body decided to stabilize at about 168ish for the longest damn time and it might be finally budging the slightest bit which would be AWESOME.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sherpa Report: Rocky Mountain Tri

As you read about earlier on the blog, Brandon raced his first triathlon without me at the end of July. However, that didn't mean I wasn't there ... I got to be a tri-sherpa!

Brandon already told the story; I'm just here with the photos.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
At the race site the day prior. Notice the elevation.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
Snake on the turf leading to the water.

Silverthorne
Bowling pin target practice.

Silverthorne
Fisherman.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
Pre-race.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
That small black tent? That's where the swim was.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
From the swim start. The "Run Start" was also the swim finish. Yeah, a two minute walk.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
On the other side of the fence.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
Waiting to get into the water.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
"Stupid rocks."

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
Gustave the tri dinosaur. Brandon's right behind him.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
Triathletes on the shoreline.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
And we're off!

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
Crawling over the rocks.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
Coming out of the water.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
Off to transition.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
Getting ready to ride.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
Off to go ride.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
Best photo of Brandon EVER.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
Back in trans.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
On an ouchy foot coming down the very looooong trans area.
Rocky Mountain Triathlon
Rounding the corner into the finish.

Rocky Mountain Triathlon
Crossing the finish line.

Turning 29

Welp, it finally happened.  I turned 29.

I know a lot of people freak out when they approach the age of 30.  I've read and heard the reasons why.  They haven't accomplished enough, they realize the youngest years are behind them, and blah blah blah.  

I'm not freaking out.

I've accomplished a lot in my 20's.  I graduated college.  I got my first "real" job.  I rediscovered my love of being an airline pilot.  I met my best friend and now wife.  I got back on the fitness bandwagon and have run two half-marathons and completed a 1/2 Ironman.  I moved multiple times, setting in Colorado.  I was forced to grow up very quickly, and more than once.  I got my finances under control.  I became smarter and more educated, and not all of it in the classroom.  I have dreams of owning my own business.  I saw new places and had new experiences.  I donated to a political cause for the first time.

Simply put, the 20's, while having ups and downs, I'm not sad at what they brought.  

I have one more year left.  I do not plan on wasting it.  And I actually look forward to embracing my 30's.

Friday, August 17, 2012

July Round-Up

I am quite behind in blogging, but I'm also quite behind in uploading photos, so that's half the reason why. I need to do my photo/sherpa report from Brandon's tri as well as my Tri for the Cure race recap (huge race PR). But first things first before it gets to the end of this month: the July recap.

As always, numbers first:

Running: 30.78 mi
Swimming: 5677.44m (3.53 mi)
Cycling: 66.94 mi
Lifting: two sessions
Other: "target practice" on BeginnerTriathlete (shootin')

This was my largest month running, so that's a good thing. Everything else kind of turned into a fail, though, and it started with my birthday. My birthday, the 5th, for a myriad of reasons, was a disaster as well as the whole week, really. Which really wasn't all that good given that Boulder Peak always falls the subsquent weekend.

Therefore, in some respects, that disastrous week helped with taper ... I guess ... as the race didn't go all that badly, but the problem was the rest of the month wasn't all that good either, with lots of stretches of time off.

I think the issue was lack of focus, lack of fun. Last year, we had one specific race to train for as well as a training plan (a loose training plan mind you, but we had structure nonetheless). This year, we've had no structure. We've also had a lack of fun in life and training. Maybe it was the tight budget thanks to my stupid bike crash and the subsequent bills. Whatever it was, we realized we weren't having fun at all and summer is supposed to be about fun.

Therefore, in August, we've decided to make our workout focus run-heavy (still hoping to do Rock 'N Roll Denver half-mar ... though costs haven't lined up yet) with some decent bike/swim cross-training and I really want to get back into regular strength work. However, we've also decided to have fun - enjoy the last of summer, enjoy the start of fall and not feel so bad if we push a workout to the side so we can just enjoy each other.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Race Recap: Rocky Mountain Triathlon

8500 feet above sea level.

That's where this tri was held.

Silverthorne, Colorado is just on the other side of the Eisenhower tunnel, which is essentially your true gateway into the mountains.  It's a pretty little mountain town, with an outlet mall, streams for fishing, skiing nearby, and overall just a good little place.  

When we saw that Living Social was running a deal for this triathlon, I booked it, but finances being a bit tight, we could only afford to send me.  T said she was ok with that and was willing to be my coach/cheer squad for this race.  I accepted the help.  We loaded up the car after a brief morning workout and drove on up to the mountains.  

One thing about the mountains is its instantly cooler when you get up there.  It was at least 10 degrees cooler in the mountains than in Denver.  It was a refreshing break from the heat we have been dealing with all summer.  We drove into town and just outside of it was the lake (or pond) where the tri was held.  

After some confusion, I got checked-in and we took in the sights.  It was a really pretty view.  We listened to a pre-race brief and checked out the water.  The water was warmer, but the start was going to be really rocky.  Literally.  There were rocks EVERYWHERE!  I saw people experimenting with different ways of dealing with them, and as weird as it sounds, it looked like crawling out of the water was going to be my best bet.  They said they were going to clear a lot of them out of there, so I figured I'd figure it out race morning.  

We then headed to our hotel to get checked in.  Then we decided to explore Silverthorne a bit (I never really have).  We went to a shooting range to squeeze off a few rounds of ammo and shoot some bowling pins I have been saving for such an occasion.  That was enjoyable to say the least.  Then we checked out the outlets, but instead of shopping, we watched some guys fly-fish!  We acted as spotters for them and watched a guy pull in at least a 20" rainbow trout.  I texted my friend Steve in Atlanta to make him jealous, and he was. :-)

Then we went to City Market to get some breakfast foods, and to Village Inn for my pre-race meal.  Finally, we headed back to the hotel and crashed.

Race morning, we woke up and headed to the race.  They said trans opened at 5, even though my race went off at 8.  Because I like a good trans spot, I don't mind being early.  We stopped at a 7-11 and got coffee and orange juice.  Then we made it to the parking lot.  Sure enough, I was one of like 4 people there early.  I didn't care.  Since transition was a long, big thing, I selected a spot closer to the bike out so I wouldn't have to run with my bike forever.  I got my trans area together very quickly and then we went back to the car to relax, eat, and otherwise just basically wait until the race started.

Before the race, I got to play with a dachshund and talk to another couple who was doing their first triathlon.  I encouraged both of them to have fun.  T and I just waited for the sun to come up so it would warm up!

Finally, I got into my wetsuit and left trans.  It was time to race.

I got a warmup swim in, but surprisingly, I was worn out quickly from it.  I didn't know if the clear water was throwing me for a loop, but I was not feeling great after that warmup.  I dismissed it as nothing to worry about and decided I would stick with my game plan.  I wanted to blaze through the swim since it was only 400 meters and get out quick.  Since trans was so long and my swim time would be increased because of that, I didn't want to waste time.

After the National Anthem, I said goodbye to my cheer squad and worked my way into the rocky water.  The countdown was brief, and as I jockeyed for position, I took a deep breath.  The horn went off and I was gone!

The Swim
I wanted to blaze the swim.  It was a 400 meter event, and being that I am a strong swimmer, it wasn't supposed to be an issue.  Unlike Boulder Peak, where I got into a groove right away, this swim didn't start off well.  I didn't get a position that I liked to start, and because of that, I was fighting a lot of slower swimmers to get going.  Once I got going, I got kicked in the ribs by someone.  It actually took my breath away for a second.  I shook it off.

Around the first buoy, I noticed my breathing was becoming ragged.  I hadn't felt like this since the first time I did a tri, so I didn't know what was going on.  I switched to an every-other breathing pattern, but I still couldn't catch my breath.  I then made a decision I haven't done since my first tri: I grabbed a kayak.

I held on, just breathing slow.  I briefly considered pulling out of the race, but as my head settled down a bit, I decided I'd take it at a lot slower pace on the way back.  I wondered what could have possibly been wrong, and then it hit me: I was at 8500 feet!  It's a very significant altitude difference!  I completely forgot to calculate that into my swim pace, and it bit me.  But I was determined to keep going.  So I said goodbye to the swim buddy, and put my head down, and made it to the finish.  Once there, I literally crawled on my hands and feet to the carpet.  After exiting the water, I walked/jogged to trans.

T1
T1 was LONG, but it wasn't my fault.  As I said, transition was very very long and it took awhile to run to my bike.  I quickly got my stuff together and off I went for the bike.  

The Bike
I had no idea what to expect on the bike.  But I knew I'd have to do it without a cyclometer, as I discovered early on.  I put it out of mind and quickly got into my groove.  

This bike was a beautiful ride up Highway 9 and back.  A simple 12 mile course.  Downhill for 6, uphill for 6.  On the downhill, I didn't push myself at all.  I knew that I'd have to ride uphill all the way back, so I wanted a lot of strength left in my legs.  And having learned on the swim that if I push myself too hard, I would be suffering greatly, I kept it dialed back.

On the uphill, it never felt like an uphill ride.  I kept things steady, stayed in aero, and had a very quick and uneventful ride.  I got back very quickly and hopped back into trans, ready to start my run.

T2
I threw on my running shoes and worked my way to the run start, but somewhere along the way, I felt a massive pain in my toes.  It was nothing I've ever felt before, and was somewhat concerned.  T saw me limping towards the run start and asked what was the matter.  She told me that it would work itself out after I explained it and that I'd be ok.  

The Run
The run was going to be very scenic as well.  And T was right!  The toe problem quickly shook itself out and I was off.  

We ran along a creek and some townhomes.  The residents were cheering us on and it felt good.  I was also feeling good running.  At mile 1, I checked my watch and saw it was about a 9:10, which I knew was fast, but again, not sustainable.

Mile 2 wound us through a neighborhood, with the mountains always in full view.  It felt so good and cool.  I was absolutely loving every bit of it, and secretly wishing I could live up there.  Then we ran back down Highway 9 back to the start.  I tried simply conserving energy until that last 1/2 mile, then picking it up.  I checked my watch again and knew that under 30:00 was going to happen, but I didn't know how fast.

Coming around the corner to the finish, the spectators were quiet, so I encouraged them to cheer.  They did, and I roared around the corner one more time to the finish.  I crossed the finish line and hugged my cheer squad.  I had finished yet another tri, this one on my own!

Post-Race
We relaxed and cheered on some other athletes coming in, while we were waiting for my time.  When I finally saw it posted, I was blown away.  Not at the swim or the bike, but the run.  I had easily PRed in the triathlon 5K!  28:04!  

It was a good race, with things to take away and things to improve on, but overall, I was very happy with what I did.

Swim - 12:43 for a 3:11 per 100 meters
T1 - 2:28
Bike - 37:05 for 19.42 MPH
T2 - 4:05
Run - 28:04 for a 9:01 per mile
Total race - 1:24:26


Friday, August 3, 2012

Race Recap Preview: Rocky Mountain Triathlon

I have been totally lazy and have not recapped my race yet.  I promise you it's coming!


Here's a quick preview of what to expect:


- I haven't struggled on a swim like this in years
- The bike was nothing remarkable
- PR in a sprint triathlon 5K
- My toes malfunctioned
- First race without the other half of TBD