Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Race #3 of the Season - Colorado 1/2 Marathon

This is a very late blog, so I apologize.  Life has been busy.  More details on that to follow soon.

I was very excited to do this race.  It's knows as one of the best in Colorado and is used often as a Boston qualifying course.  Probably one of those races one must do if they live in Colorado.  One of my goals this year was to race a lot, so it seemed logical to sign up as I had the days off to do so.

We left our house ridiculously early and drove to Ft. Collins.  We had discussed staying that night up there, but the ability to have our breakfast the way we like it overruled that decision. That, and you know, cost.

We found parking in a garage and after grumbling about being awake, we found our way to the buses.  We had heard through the grapevine that up at the start, there were tents to keep people warm and coffee/hot chocolate to drink.  This would certainly be welcome on what was a cold morning, with snow potential.

On the bus on the way to the race start, I even commented to T that this seemed well-organized and well done.

Oh how wrong I was.

The ride up seemed to be taking forever.  T attempted to snooze while I just looked out the bus window.  Eventually it had been determined that we had gone to the start of the marathon course instead of the 1/2 marathon course.  I figured we were hosed, but thankfully, we made it to the 1/2 marathon starting point in time.  Barely.  There was barely enough time for the porta-potties and pre-race rituals that we like.  So much for a relaxing start.

Regardless, we pushed it out of our minds and got ready for the start.  We positioned ourselves somewhere between the 2:10 and 2:20 pacers.  I stayed wrapped in a bed sheet until the start.

The Race
I wasn't tapered for this race.  Coach asked me if I wanted to be and I declined, preferring to get in as much riding as possible (I need miles; more to come on that soon).  So I went into this race not only undertrained, but a bit beat up.  I didn't care - I was treating it as a training run and we'd see how it went from there.

In the early 3 miles, T and I were never out of sight of each other and usually staying right close.  We were running our own races today but it was up to each of us to decide what we could do.  

Around 4 miles in, I started feeling great.  I was comfortable running sub-10 and was ahead of the 2:10 pace group.  I figured at the pace I was running, it would be sustainable, even on the minimal training I had under my belt.

Then came the "hill of doom". 

In mile 6, there's a hill that's about 4/10ths of a mile long.  It's not terrible - on any other day it'd be fine.  Today though, it cooked me.  I got slower and slower going up and eventually walked with T.  At the top, she bombed down the hill while I hung onto my just sub-10 pace.  It'd be the last time we ran together this race.

In mile 7, I felt myself slowing down.  I attempted to regain my pace, but was unable to achieve it.  By mile 9, I felt the fatigue in my legs and knew I was cooked for the day.  The lack of endurance training in running at this point + the previous week's work did me in.  I walked/ran the rest of the race.  In mile 10, it started snowing pretty good and I was getting colder.  Not much fun.

I ran hard when I saw the finish, but my heart was barely in it by this point.

Final time - 2:23:38

While I can't say this was a bad race for me, it was a tad disappointing.  I believe I could have done better even on the training I had.  I also believe that the bus ride was a major factor playing into my performance.  

Regardless, it was a good training run!

Race #5 of the Season: Barkin' Dog Duathlon

If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you may recall the last time I did this race back in 2014. In short, my first podium, blahblahblah.

It fell on the same weekend as Dino Half last year (it usually does) and since that race had a T-Rex medal, clearly I was doing Dino Half. This year, I wanted to make the return to Barkin' Dog. I once again did the short course (1.2 mi run, 11 mi bike, 5k run). I don't really recall if I tapered into this race two years ago (knowing my training life back then ... probably), but I definitely didn't this year.

Thursday: strength work, hour time trial on the bike.
Friday: bit of yoga, 2:50 bike ... riding good chunks of the IM Boulder course.

Brandon cresting a hill.

Saturday: race day, with a lot of miles in my legs.

Although I was the last wave to go off, we got there soon after transition opened ... this extra time ended up being a Very Good Thing, as I realized I was WAY underdressed for the race. I didn't bother looking at the weather that morning, thinking it was going to be nice and toasty that day. Yeah, well, it was in the 40s that morning and might creep up into the 50s by the time I finished. I was wearing a tri kit and my new, comfy BU zip up hoodie that I technically could have worn, but it's super lightweight and kind of big and would have turned into a sail on the bike and really isn't all that warm.

Since Brandon a.) wasn't racing; and b.) is the best husband ever, I gave him the keys and he busted ass back home to grab me my snug BU pullover and my MaccaX cycling jacket. He got back to me about 6 minutes before my wave went off; perfect.

Still kinda cold, but much better off! In the start corral.

Run 1:

The course was different this year than in 2014. The first one left the Hobie Hill parking lot (Cherry Creek State Park), went out on that little road, up the Res road toward the entry station, on to the bike path to the top of the hill, and back down again.

I managed to run up the whole hill, and then back down again, kind of dying the whole time.

On the way back down. You can see the runners up above me.


Time: 10:32 (5th division, 21st gender, 52nd overall)


Take off the shoes, try to remember to loosen them, swap out hats, go.

Time: 1:02 (2nd, 13th, 27th)


The bike two years ago took place on the Dam Road due to flood damage within the park. This year, it was basically back to the course that I rode for the two Chilly Cheeks races ... with an extra little dip-doodle-y thing to add on a tiny bit of extra mileage (probably to help the long-course racers get their 30k). I was pushing it, but I definitely felt the last couple rides in my legs.

However, I did continue my Barkin' Dog short course streak of having the fastest bike split in my AG both times. Woo hoo!

My socks made me easy to spot.

This was on that little added part.

Time: 38:10 (1st, 8th, 31st)


When I saw later I had the fastest T2 time, I was shocked as I felt like I went slow. After I racked my bike, I took a sip of Skratch, flopped down, changed shoes, ditched my MaccaX jacket ...

Time: 1:04 (1st, 11th, 26th)

Run 2:

For the second run, we went out basically the same way as the first one, but turned left on to the path paralleling the main road, popped out on the main road to about where the Butterfly Hill (I think?) is, went up the dirt path, did a tiny out-and-back, across this bridge, and popped out near the middle school before heading back down to the finish the same way as the first run.

I was running as best as I could, but I still had to take more walk breaks than I wanted. Stupid lungs. I also took off my BU pullover and carried it through half the run because I finally started getting warm again. Yay being a hot runner!

Brandon got me at the aid station just after mile two ... which meant nice pictures of my fancy new Smash kit, but with me walking with my water, so boo.

I don't think I noticed him taking the picture ...

Isn't the kit pretty????? Also notice that black blob in my hands - that's my BU pullover.

I told Brandon to bust his butt to the finish (he was cycling all over the park for these photos) where he met me there.

Time: 30:41 (6th, 30th, 61st)


As I rounded the curve to the finish, I saw that girl and decided to beat her ... which I did, thanks to my amazing ability to sprint at the end of races (usually). Fortunate thing, too, because she was in my AG and I beat her by ONE SECOND. Aww yeah.

Overall Stats:
Time: 1:21:31
2/12 division (F30-34)
14/63 gender
40/118 overall

I was pleasantly happy to see 2nd when I got home, as the results had me third at the park. I got bumped up as the overall female winner of the short course was in my age group, so all of her stuff got taken out of AG consideration (she was technically the only one in my AG to beat me on the bike).

As the short-course race is still small, no podium for me as they only honor the tops in the division. Which is kind of sad, but I'm still happy with how I did. Let's compare the numbers to 2014, shall we?

Time 2014: 1:27:28
Time 2016: 1:21:31
Difference: basically 6 minutes faster!

Run 1 2014: 10:14
Run 1 2016: 10:32
Difference: slower. But IIRC, the run was easier (that is, not up a damn hill) in 2014.

T1 2014: 1:10
T1 2016: 1:02
Difference: 8 seconds quicker. Woo.

Bike 2014: 42:56
Bike 2016: 38:10
Difference: about five minutes quicker. This is where I gained a lot of my time. I would also argue that this year's course was harder.

T2 2014: 1:09
T2 2016: 1:04
Difference: 5 seconds faster. 

Run 2 2014: 31:57
Run 2 2016: 30:41
Difference: and here's that other minute I chopped off.

The biggest thing, however, was the amount of people that did the race this year as opposed to 2014.

In 2014:
1/7, 13/39, 34/71

In 2016:
2/12, 14/63, 40/118

There were a lot more people racing this year. So yes, I may have gotten faster, but other fast people also showed up. All I can do on a given day is show up and do my best ... and make sure I always sprint across that damn finish line.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Race #4 of the Season: Colorado Half-Marathon

I chose an early season half-marathon this year for a test of my run legs. Like the BAA 5K, I wasn't specifically trained for this, necessarily, but I once again had hopes for this race. We even tapered into it in hopes of doing well.

Weather-wise, the race looked to be kind of miserable. In fact, we'd probably get snowed on (and we did). At least it wasn't going to be hot?

Saturday, we went up to the race expo for packet pick-up. Everything was taking place in Fort Collins and we were debating spending the night up there, but with how early the buses were leaving, we figured we'd just stay home and that way, we could at least eat breakfast. So, Saturday's trip was up for packets and back.

At packet pick-up. Brandon's wearing his brand new BU sweatshirt. I'm so proud.

I talked with a couple of my fellow Skirt ambassadors who were running the booth at the expo. One of them, Dawn, wasn't running that year, but had in several previous years and had nothing but good things to say about the half. She mentioned a tent up at the race start (point-to-point race) with coffee and hot chocolate in it to help keep you warm before the gun went off. Brandon and I were super excited to hear this.

Sunday morning, we're up super early in order to eat food and get to Fort Collins by 4:30, which is when the first buses left. We didn't really need to get up there right then (we had a good 45 minute or so window), but our triathlon background leaves us wanting to get to these things stupid early. We get up there right about 4:20ish. Perfect.

Why do we do this again???

We get on the first bus and the bus leaves, no problem.

Then ... problem. I felt vaguely like I did before Silverman (that is, not good), so I tried to snooze some on the bus ride. The bus ride also felt a hell of a lot longer than 13 miles. Which it was. It was 26 miles. Our bus driver took us to the marathon start as opposed to the half-marathon start. Uh, oops.

For a while it seemed like we were screwed before the guy eventually turned around and got us to the start.

Meanwhile, I feel like utter shit (I get carsick in my old age. It sucks) so I don't want to try eating my snack until we stop moving.

Unfortunately for us, we FINALLY get to our proper race start ... with barely enough time to hit the porta-potty line and drop off our bags. I'm still feeling like poo, but I know I need calories, so I try to eat my snack while we're waiting in the bag drop line. That ... is not successful. We barely get my bag dropped off when we're ushered to the start line. We gaze wistfully at the beverage tent and grumble.

We station ourselves somewhere between the 2:10 and 2:20 pacers and off we go.

Our race plan is to try to stick together somewhat (particularly in the early miles) and me peel off when/if I can. I was tapered for this; Brandon wasn't. 

For the most part, we stick together fairly well through the early miles. 

10:43, 10:08, 9:40.

About 5K in, I've settled in nicely with the 2:10 pacers. I figure if I can stay with them (and at that point, the pace was comfortable enough), life would be good.

9:58, 9:47, 10:33.

That 10:33 is for the one main hill on the course in mile 6. The 2:10 pace group went steadily up the hill and I needed to walk up part of it. The cold probably contributed to this. Brandon caught up to me at this point, but I left him again because I wanted to get back up to the pace group. A fairly speedy 7th mile accomplished this.

8:57, 9:48, 10:15, 10:05.

I bombed the downhill to catch up with them and stayed with them fairly successfully. I ended up dropping them at some point - about the time we strayed off the main roads and started on random bike paths in Fort Collins - and still felt pretty good.

Unfortunately, I was starting to feel hungry - lack of food since 3am kicking in - and the only aid stations with gels (which I probably would have just choked down) were long past. On one of these paths, the 2:10 pace group caught up to me and blew past. I was on the struggle bus.

10:41, 11:15, 10:24.

I felt the mileage at mile 8 in my legs, but I was still fighting there. At mile 10.5ish, I started feeling like vomit and it never really went away. I was running when I could, but I started walking more and more because of the nausea. Damn bus driver.

I fought it in to the finish, finishing not as fast as I would have liked, but with my 2nd fastest half time overall.

Final Stats:
Time: 2:14:27
82/150 division (F30-34)
410/855 gender
727/1298 overall

I got my medal and hung around in the finisher's chute, trying not to barf. I was also waiting for Brandon to come in. I wasn't sure how far behind he was. The volunteers/staff were trying to funnel me down to the post-race expo, but I wanted to be there for husband, so I hid on the side of a tent until he crossed. Which he did, some time later, half-frozen.

We got some food and headed back to the car to thaw out, as we were both quite cold.

I had heard many great things about this race and I do believe I can do a lot better on this course, particularly if I'm actually trained for it (with more and better long runs under my belt) and without a stupid bus driver who doesn't take us to the marathon start line. So will I do this race again? Probably. Was I happy with how the day went? Kind of. I was hoping for better, but it wasn't to be on that day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

April Round-Up

Oh, April. You are beginning to trend stupidly in terms of athletic motivation. Dislike, okay?

Swimming: 12350m (7.67 mi)
Cycling: 193.05 mi
Running: 42.62 mi
Lifting: three sessions (:52)
Other: two yoga sessions (:43), six walks (12:30), one day of yard work (2:00), three stretch sessions (:25)

Okay, so I knew swimming and cycling had a chance to be low(ish) this month because of our Boston trip. That was understood. What I didn't think would happen was apparent house PTSD from last year (or something) that made me completely blah and unmotivated for good chunks of the month. I skipped several workouts and cut others short. Time-wise, I still got in a lot (thank you vacation and Boston being a fantastic walking city) of hours, but it wasn't quality.

I also, as you may have read in the post before this, had a disappointing 5K (side note: I'm calling my second-fastest 5K ever as disappointing????) and a subsequent nice, long, email chat with Coach to hopefully work some stuff out. Initial changes point to positive, so that's good. Hopefully stuff will get better here on out, and hopefully things start turning toward the better in May ...

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Race #3 of the Season: BAA 5K

A.K.A. the race of grumbly-ness.

My desire to crush my ages-old 5K PR is well known 'round these here parts. Given that the BAA 5K was at sea level and pretty damn pancake flat ... I was secretly kind of hoping that it would go down at that race. I had hopes it would ...

We found a fantastic little Greek diner on Beacon Street that did breakfast all day so we could have our breakfast for dinner on Friday night and then, since they opened early enough, we decided to just go ahead and eat breakfast there as well on Saturday morning before hopping the T to the Boston Common for the race.

The triathletes in us are the reason we got to the race site so freaking early, but it's nice to do so because you can hit up the porta-potties, get bag check taken care of, and meet up with friends and not worry about missing the start.

Also you can take pictures.



Start/finish arch.


We found Norm and Emily in the park (as well as their friend Sarah) - Norm did AMAZING, coming in third (!) in his age group - talked with them for a minute, did our business, and got lined up.

We decided to run this thing on our own - each do what we could and see how it went.

For me:

- I somehow forgot to start my Garmin. I didn't really realize this until after the race when I went to stop said Garmin, because my goal was to not look at the splits in case my brain thought I was going too fast.

- It was a chilly morning, and that might have screwed with my lungs, but I don't know. All I do know is that I had to walk way more than I wanted to.

- The course goes over the finish of the Boston Marathon. I had tears come to my eyes when I crossed. I know I really don't have much of a desire to run a standalone marathon, but if I do, I want to be able to run Boston.

- I saw Lindsey right before that point - nice friendly face!

- I did not get a PR. Boo.

Final Stats:
Time: 27:35
233/786 division (F30-34)
1377/5033 gender
3386/8708 overall

I knew right after I didn't have a PR because Brandon knew his general time and I was a bit behind him ... we just didn't realize how far behind him I actually was. Later on, when the results were posted, I saw and was heartbroken. A measly 10 seconds better than Colder Bolder? Really? I know I'm better than that.

I know I didn't technically train specifically for this race, but I was hoping for better. I wanted better. I should have had better. My fastest days can't be behind me. I won't accept it.

Pretty much directly post-race. I was not as happy later on ...