Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Race #15 of the Season: ColderBOLDER 5K

Or the last race in my "Race to Fitness" quest (cue Katie cringing).

I had been able to successfully drop under 10:00/mile (hooray), but I really, really wanted to get back to sub-30:00 in this race. When I ran it back in 2015, it was one of my fastest-ever 5K times. I knew I probably wouldn't get back into the sub-28s, but I knew if I tried, I could probably get sub-30. Hopefully. In keeping with my MAF runs, I also got up to four miles in the week and a half between Thanksgiving and the race to help with the endurance issues I had been having.

Race day comes and we thought it would be kind of warm. Well, it was ... except for the cloud cover and the breeze. Silly Colorado ...

colderbolder
Buff, singlet, arm warmers ... would it be enough???

Since we were in the open wave, we'd be the absolute wave to go off (yes, I actually had Brandon again for this race!). We waited until maybe 10, 15? minutes to race start to venture outside (we got to Boulder SUPER early to be able to get ideal parking as we had to bust ass out of there post-race to get to curling on time).

We realized that if one was in the sun, the temperature was okay.

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Pre-race.

colderbolder3
Personalized bibs are the best.

We had tossed around running this one together, but knew that wasn't the goal for either of us, so we went off separately.

I think Brandon beat me out of the gate, so to speak, but I passed him fairly early on (since I'm worse at pacing better at downhills than he is). I made it to the first mile without walking, but needed a walk break at that point since I knew the pace was waaaaay too fast. Husband passed me at this point and I picked it back up.

I told Brandon that the course was pretty flat and fast ... well, I guess the powers that be changed it up a bit since it was a LOT more undulating. Which meant I was dying. I passed Brandon back once again, but he passed me again ... somewhere around mile two? A bit before? Maybe? ... and I was never able to retake him. He thought I was right on his heels the whole race (which unfortunately wasn't accurate), which helped him actually race this race as the first hard, painful 5K in years

I had to walk way more than I would have liked, but I was keeping a very close eye on the ol' Garmin to see if I could make it sub-30.

Thankfully, I did.

colderbolder4
Oh dear sweet jeebus did that hurt. Dead husband is below my hand.

Final Stats:
Time: 29:49
2/27 AG (F34)(all open wave statistics)
227/1088 gender
525/1801

Fastest 5K in a really long time for me and I was able to make it hurt. The running segments (of the run/walks) in that final half mile or so were in the 7s, which is ridiculous for me. But awesome.

That short, hard shit hurts ... and I'll most likely be doing a lot more of it next year. Hooray?

But first, a lot more slow, MAF slogs to get me through the winter ....

Friday, December 1, 2017

November Round-Up

You're going to read something I don't know if you've ever read before on a monthly recap ...

This month was a successful one.

Whaaaa? I know, right? Read on ...

Swimming: 8500m (5.28 mi)
Cycling: 72.54 mi
Running: 30.06 mi
Lifting: nine sessions (4:13)
Other: two curling sessions (2:15), one elliptical session (:20), one hike (:30), one instance "race volunteering" (3:00), three rowing sessions (:45), one stairmill session (:10), two walks (1:40), four yoga sessions (1:04)

While this month was successful, there were a few (tiny) slips. I missed four total planned workouts and had one off day. I had yoga scheduled for Thanksgiving day that I spaced on (because I left it to before bed and our guests left waaaay later than expected); I missed an elliptical session the next day (felt like poop ... though I did somehow manage the swim and the lift that day); and I took this past Wednesday off - serious lack of sleep made me feel nauseous ALL DAY so I missed my swim and lift that day.

But. I also did get a bit of bonus work in. Neither walks nor curling were built in. The "race volunteering" (really cheering at IMAZ) was technically built in, but not officially. I also got a bonus ride in due to the weather being too gorgeous to waste it.

In short, I set out a (manageable) plan and executed it almost perfectly. This has been one of my best running months of the whole year (surpassed by January and February (the last times I successfully stuck to my plan) and August (camp)). I've started HR training so I have spent a lot of actual time running as well, but I feel as though it's working and I'm actually excited to keep it going through the colder months. All of my rides were around 30 minutes, but they've kept me consistent on the bike. Had we not gone down to Arizona, I probably would have had more bike mileage. "But couldn't you have taken the bikes down?" you might ask. Well, yes, we could have, but let's not kid ourselves, we probably wouldn't really have ridden as much as hoped. Besides, being gone for a week was a great excuse to throw the bikes in the shop for some much needed TLC. Swimming, had I not missed my final swim, would have been over 10k, which would have been AWESOME, but alas, I dislike choking back bile in the pool, and that would have been my life Wednesday had I swum. No thanks.

The bestest most amazing part of this month though? I have actually enjoyed it. 

No, seriously.

It's taken 11 months and a lot of soul searching (and serious reorganization of 2018 plans; more on that in a month), but I'm actually enjoying the day to day of moving my body, and I could not be happier.

I've got my last race of the year coming up tomorrow, and then it's time to hammer out the details of 2018 and settle in to a nice solid offseason training groove.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Race #14 of the Season: Broomfield Turkey Day 5K

Well, my fall of racing into fitness is almost done, and it has been relatively successful. Case in point: yesterday's turkey trot.

The race was less than a week removed from my previous 5K, but I did get in another run in between (on Tuesday, after I got back from Arizona ... even though it was way shorter than I was hoping).

The weather was actually gorgeous yesterday; almost too warm, really. I think temperature at race start was 61 degrees? Definitely would have been too warm had I run the 10K.

Anyway, I woke up fairly easily despite getting to bed way later than I would have liked to Wednesday evening. I ate breakfast and headed up to Broomfield early so as to get a good parking spot (and find out the best area that was not only close to the race but also allowed me to exit easily as I had to go pick up B from the airport immediately after). I did stop at a 7-11 so as to get a pre-race snack of Pop Tarts, since eating breakfast at 6ish and running at 9ish meant that I knew I'd need a tiny bite in between.

I got my packet, chilled out in the car, ate my Pop Tarts.

With about 20 minutes to go until race start, I left the car to head to the start line. And also take a selfie with an inflatable turkey.

broomfield

There were pace signs in the start corral, but I couldn't really find many of them and I didn't really know how things were going to go, so I just found myself a spot somewhere in the ... upper third of things, maybe?

9am rolled around, and off I went.

In theory my goals for this race (which I forgot about), were to:
- have fun
- sub-:30
- in and out

I ended up hitting two of the three, and had I actually remembered I wanted to hit sub-30 ... well, I might have tried to push a bit harder, though I'm not entirely sure that would have been possible.

First mile was fairly speedy, but it was also pretty much completely downhill. Unlike in AZ, I wasn't able to run all of the first two miles - first walk break was about 1.3 in. I tried to keep the breaks as short as possible, though, and push it a bit more when I was able to run.

I was a little frustrated with how much I wasn't able to go, but I kept a close eye on my watch to keep me averaging sub-10 per mile. Which I managed successfully.

Final Stats:
Time: 30:10.8
52/251 AG (F30-39)
186/956 gender
448/1661 overall

All in all, I'll take a race :30 quicker than the one a few days prior.

broomfield2
Plus, you know, a medal and free pie.

Just one more race remains on the schedule, and that's the Colder Boulder in a week. I've got three runs on tap prior to race day and I'd like two of them to be around three to four miles (at MAF) to attempt to get a bit more endurance under my belt. Biggest goal for that race is to hit sub-30 again, which I think I can do. I've run the race once before, back in 2015, and I did 27:45. I don't think I'll hit close to that, but I'd like to do my best.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Race #13 of the Season: IMAZ Friends and Family 5K

First of all, if this post has glaring issues, I just got a new laptop and HOLY EFF is it finicky. Also Windows 10, which can suck a big one. Because it is TERRIBLE. So there's that.

I probably really shouldn't even count this one, because, much like the Avs 5K, it wasn't officially timed. However, the distance was at least close - 3.08 miles as opposed to the 2.7 or whatever the Avs race was. So I'll count it.

I talked Brandon into doing this one with me, as yay, fun. I also got to run into a SMASH teammate afterward (who KILLED her first Ironman the next day!), so that was nice.

I didn't have my camera on me, but I had my phone, so pictures were taken ... pretty much for the purpose of this blog.

imaz5k
Brandon hanging out pre-"race".

imaz5k2
Hooray!

The race itself was a little lollipop loop, running a bit of the actual IMAZ run course, crossing the actual finish line (although it was decorated for the Ironkids race that went off after us). I had flashbacks to that night in 2013, running along Tempe Town Lake and also up the hill, making that final turn. That really was such a special day.

imaz5k3
Stolen from Brandon's Insta story. Mid-race selfie over a bridge (that is not part of the IMAZ run course).

As for how the run *actually* went ... pretty well, surprisingly.

- I managed to run the first two miles without walking AND at sub-10 pace.
- Final mile was super rough (not surprising as, except for races, I haven't really been running over two-ish miles).
- It was three seconds faster than the Eerie Erie.

3.08 miles (okay, okay, 3.11) in 30:48, which is actually sub-10, so hooray! Progress! Maybe there is something to this MAF thing ...

imaz5k4
Post-race feels, with my "athlete gift" of a water bottle.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Race #12 of the Season: Longmont Turkey Trot 2M

Also known as my first ever two mile race. Automatic PR. Woo!

I spent the night before at Katie's house; partially because she lives less than a mile away and partially because I spent Friday up there hanging out with her post-surgery. It meant I woke up early Friday morning, got in a swim and some time on the erg, drove up to Longmont, and was super lazy the rest of the day, getting covered in puppy fur.

I had (super delicious) Thai food for dinner - no breakfast - and I had eggs without orange juice pre-race. I woke up in time to walk over to pick up my bib as soon as I could, around 7am, got my bib, and walked back to hang out in the comfort of friends pre-race. I headed back out at 8:45, thinking my race started at 9:05, when really it ended up being more like 9:15.

I talked to Brandon. I took a pre-race selfie.

2miler

I had a false start at the beginning, crossing over the timing mats, as we got stopped because one of the mats somehow got folded up. I started back up.

My legs felt rough at the outset, not used to moving so quickly. It's been a whole two weeks since my last race and I've been running super slowly using heart rate ever since. My average run pace currently is somewhere in the 13s as I trust this process ... and abandon it for races.

Still, they moved, and although it was painful, I got through the first mile without walking and just under a 9 minute pace.

The second mile was slower, and I'm really thankful this race was ONLY two miles, as it was rough. My Garmin had it a bit long (2.04), but whatever. Short races are AMAZING.

I crossed the finish line, grabbed my bottle of water, and kept on walking, right back to Katie and Thom's. I knew there were a lot of people running and I know I'm not one of the quickest around, so I didn't want to hang out for awards, figuring there would be no point. I hit my one main goal for the race - sub-20:00 - so I was happy.

Later that afternoon, looking up my results (and talking to a friend I saw running the 10K on facebook), I learned that I probably should have stuck around.

2miler2
From my Insta story.

Final Stats:
Time: 18:31
2/29 AG (F30-34)
84/511 gender
242/965 overall

Apparently I got second. Was not expecting that. And, since the second place awards were perishable, I missed out on that, too. Which, I found out later, was pie. Dangit. I apparently get a certificate, though, and I'll be picking that up tomorrow.

So. To sum up, first two mile race, hit goal, automatic PR, placed in my AG. Not too shabby for a Saturday morning.

Friday, November 3, 2017

October Round-Up

Also known as the continuation of the offseason ...

... kinda.

Onward!

Swimming: 2500m (1.55 mi)
Cycling: 16.43 mi 
Running: 14.41 mi
Lifting: 12 sessions (3:26)
Other: one yoga session (:16), two walks (1:25), one hike (:35), two curling sessions (3:45)

See? Glorious offseason. 

I think I swam and rode twice each. Obviously I intended on doing more, but clearly, nope. I ran a teensy bit (as given my recent race recaps) more than both of those. Mostly, I lifted. I am determined to make strength a focus again. I've backed off a bit on the TIU dailies ... because the amazing Erin Carson came out with an app over IM Kona and I'd totally rather do her strength work. The free trial period is ending I think by the end of the month, but I probably will pay the money for the programs because they are AWESOME. 

You may have also noticed that the curling numbers popped up ... Yeah, we officially joined the Denver Curling Club so Sundays are now officially curling days in our house. It's not something that will keep us in shape, but it will be a fun extra activity.

That being said, I have deemed October to be the last of the lazy offseason. (I'm still full in offseason mode in terms of distances/effort, mind you). I want to get back into regular swimming and cycling (even if it's just 20-30 minutes at a time). I am also adding in other random cardio, like the elliptical and the erg and possibly even the stepmill.

More importantly ... I'm actually attempting MAF with the run. I've figured out that 140 is where I need to be given the 180-age+other factors formula so, on all of my training runs, that's what I'm gonna do. It will be a lot more walking than usual and a lot slower paces (yay 14 min miles!!!), but I need to get my run back and I'm going to attempt to do it the proper way around this time.

I will still "race" my 5Ks/2miler, though.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Race #11 of the Season: Eerie Erie 5K

... my next race in Project Race Back Into Run Fitness.

I didn't wear a costume for this one, however, even though it was closer to Halloween than the previous race. If it were a lot colder I was considering wearing my wetsuit (that would have been super awkward to run in ...), but it was actually kind of perfect running weather.

Brandon wasn't in town for this one, but Katie's Team Amazing Day peeps were there (as was Katie in a spectator capacity; all photos except the first selfie one are courtesy of her), so I did have a group of people to hang out with which was nice.

eerie_erie
Tbh I took this just so I had a photo for this blog post ...

Some of the faster people edged up toward the start line while I hung back with Thom (Katie's husband and birthday boy of the day) as I knew this wasn't going to be anything spectacular.

eerie_erie2
There's me behind Waldo. SMASH beanie/socks/race belt; Skirt skirt and tank (underneath my BU pullover).

First mile was downhill and fast - I was trying to keep it steady and it was still just over a 9 min mile. Oops. Didn't have to walk until after the first mile marker/aid station but from then on ... it was my usual run/walk slog. Mile two wasn't terrible but I started heating up and took my pullover off early into mile three. I saw Katie taking photos at the top of the hill toward the finish so I kind of tossed her the pullover.

eerie_erie3
Here I come!

eerie_erie4
#throwingthings

Overall, I did run about a minute faster than the previous week's race ... but how much of that is due to the course I have no idea.

Final Stats:
Time: 30:51
27/90 AG (F30-39)
74/284 gender
146/438 overall

The next race in the project is actually my first 2 miler on November 11th (it's either that or a 10K and I am not ready to run a 10K ...), so automatic PR. Woo!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Race #10 of the Season: Hoofin' it through the Hollows 5K

... the second race involved in me racing to fitness. Sort of.

This race was weird in that it was a Saturday evening. Happily, Brandon was able to run it with me. He doesn't do costumes (boo), but I like to ... but I didn't have much opportunity to really find something good to run in ... so I went as a color-flipped candy corn.

htth
BU toque, race shirt, Skirt Sports skirt. Candy corn should be white-orange-yellow, but you make do with what you have.

Easy peasy. To fulfill my Team SFQ requirements ... team arm warmers and socks. Love it. Plus the black worked well with the costume.

What Brandon really liked about this race is that we ran into a whole lot of old Run CO friends - Scott, Lisa (okay, so Lisa's Skirt now too), and Leanne. The camaraderie is one of the things I know he really misses and one reason why he hasn't liked running as much. Running is a very solitary sport, but it can also be really social as well, and he's missed the social aspect.

We had really no goals in this race but to run together, so run together we did.

Since I ran with my phone, however, and I wasn't taking this all that seriously, I did take a selfie mid-race with Lisa as we passed her.

htth2

This race was totally low key (and cheap! Like $40 for the two of us! More if we wanted race shirts ... which we passed on.), but it was fun, too. A little lollipop loop on the Highline Canal with jack o' lantern mile markers. Nice touch. There were a lot of people in costume, too. Two that stand out were Carl Spackler (from Caddyshack) and a woman who wore red sweats with little brown balls and white yarn clumps ... spaghetti and meatballs. Totally creative.

Despite mile one being the longest ever, it wasn't too terrible of a result.

Final Stats:
Time: 31:46
15/53 AG (F30-39)
49/176 gender
117/291 overall

I didn't enjoy the post-race food (because I don't like s'mores), but Brandon was all over that.

htth3

Still, nice and fun. Probably would do again.

Next up on the 5K extravaganza tour of the fall is the Eerie Erie tomorrow, where I should run into a few people I know as well. Brandon's out of town, though, so I'll be flying solo. Back next week with how that went!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Race #9 of the Season: Avalanche 5K

For starters, I really do hesitate to call this a race, for the following reasons:

- It was a good .3 miles short.
- It wasn't officially timed.
- It was crap.

Okay, so that third point is really just me.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm choosing to race my way to fitness. I chose the Avs 5K for the medal (which was plastic crap) and for the hockey ticket ... of which I will be able to use for maybe a period of the game, as I have to pick up B from the airport that night. In short ... the race was a waste of money.

Especially because it was 2.8 miles. They said it was short - more like 3 miles as opposed to 3.1 - but they must not have measured the course by the tangents since I ran those like a boss and came up with 2.79 miles on the ol' Garmin.

And since it wasn't officially timed ... I go with 2.79 mi in 28:20 for a 10:09 pace. I went out faster than I wanted - flat course, ideal weather - but, as it goes, the lungs could hold nothing. I paced the run like poop ... which was not one of my goals, but whatever.

I did take pictures, and play around on Instagram stories, so I get to add those in to the post. Yay?

avs5k
Camera pic. Bibs were given to you at check-in. Probably could have asked for a different number and gotten it. Again, no timing, so that's why.

avs5k
Wore an Avs jersey for the race, because why the hell not. Clearly I took this seriously. #soaero.

avs5k2
Team requirements - race in SMASH. But I love this hat, so it wasn't an issue. I also had on SMASH socks *and* top, but that got hidden by the jersey and my other layer.

avs5k3
Crap medal and Garmin data. Also shows SMASH socks.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Racing to Fitness

If you follow along to the changes around here, you might have noticed that I added a lot more races onto that sidebar. A stupid amount.

Nothing terribly long - nothing more than a 5K (probably - see to be determined turkey day race) - and mostly nothing less. 

There's a reason for this. When I wrote that blog post Wednesday I was full of optimism ... but as things are (already) going, the execution is a bit tricky. So ... I'm going with the possibly ill-advised (but previously somewhat successful - see late-spring/early-summer 2014) strategy of essentially racing my way back into some sort of fitness. If I have to run a lot - and run in theory fast - my run fitness should start coming back into something resembling respectable. At least that's the goal.

I start it off tomorrow with the Avs 5K ... which I'm pretty much only doing for the medal. The course looks shit (basically looping the parking lot at Pepsi Center) and the weather probably will be as well. Okay, so I also get a hockey ticket with it, but who knows if B and I will use it. I regret not having my inline skates by this point because I would have much rather just skated the three miles. Maybe next year.

I'm also running this one by myself. I wrote down goals for this race (ha, "goals"), but mostly, this is probably the benchmark for the next few months. May Colder Boulder be quicker than whatever tomorrow will be.

Loose Goals for the Avs 5K:
- Steady first mile. I tend to go out too fast a lot. Don't think it'll be a problem here.
- Steadily increase speed. We'll see if I can manage this. 
- Pace it ... or balls out and hold on! This depends entirely on my lungs on if they want to let my legs try to extract speed out of themselves. I'm not holding my breath.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

September Round-Up

Also known as the beginning of the glorious offseason ...

Swimming: 5000m (3.1 mi)
Cycling: 102.77 mi
Running: 18.25 mi
Lifting: 15 sessions (3:32)
Other: one curling session (:30), one elliptical session (:20), one hike (:45), one stretch session (:09), five walks (7:15), two yoga sessions (:32)

Clearly a lighter month, but I had a baby taper going into Santa Cruz and then decided to enjoy an offseason ... greatly aided by a nasty cold that took me out for several days. Then, when I got better, it was very little swim/bike/run related activity - I got on the elliptical for the first time in who knows how long! And I actually enjoyed it! - to try and actually take some time off.

Now that it's October, I'm trying to slowly get back into a routine, and one that includes s/b/r because I do NOT want to lose everything like ALWAYS. Not a lot of distance, mind you, but decent frequency. 

Running is a slightly different story, though, and one that I'll go into a bit more detail with a bit later this week.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Race Number 3 of the Season: Santa Cruz 70.3

It’s been awhile…there’s a reason for that.  I’ll convey that in another post here soon.  But for now, I want to just dive into 70.3 Santa Cruz.

Pre-Race
We began our trip by doing an extended road trip.  We went from our home in Colorado through Wyoming before taking a bit of a detour in Salt Lake City.  We hit up a 24 Hour Fitness to get 1000 meters of swimming in, then went to Layton, where I spent a few years of my childhood.  T and I drove around the neighborhood, seeing a few houses I recognized and a school that I went to.  The neighborhood was definitely smaller than I remember, and so was the house I grew up in.  Anyway, moving on.  We continued on West Highway 80 through western Utah, driving over the Bonneville Salt Flats which was a very cool thing to see.  We stopped and took some pictures standing on the salt.  Then we stopped in Wendover for the night.  The hotel we picked was old and felt unsafe, so we unpacked the car way more than we wanted to.  Finding dinner at a casino right across the border in Nevada, we then went back to the hotel and crashed for the night.

Thursday continued the road trip.  We drove through northern Nevada, eventually stopping in Reno for lunch.  T and I both had memories of Circus Circus from our childhood, but both of us were unsure if it was the Vegas Circus Circus or the Reno location.  A quick visit to the casino confirmed which one it was.  After Reno, we pressed on to Sacramento, CA.  T spent a few years of her childhood in Fair Oaks, so after finding another 24 Hour Fitness, we found her childhood home as well.  After that, we got in a short run at a park and found some dinner at a place she remembered from childhood.  Then we stayed at a (much nicer) hotel for the night and got some decent rest.

Friday was our final of the road trip until post-race.  We took the 4 hours to drive to Santa Cruz.  Checking in at the hotel, we figured out that it was right across from transition and the race expo.  Total bonus!  We hauled our stuff into the hotel room and then just headed across the street to get registered/checked in.  T and I scouted out the trans area and were only a few minutes away from a race briefing, so we hung around to listen to that.  After that, we went back to the hotel room to relax a bit before finding a place in Santa Cruz for sushi. Not a bad place.  Then we walked along the ocean a bit and the Santa Cruz boardwalk before deciding to call it a night.

Saturday morning, we made a roadtrip up to San Jose to grab Chick Fil A for our bike ride.  We also hit a Target for a few things.  When we got back down to Santa Cruz, we went for a very quick bike/very quick run.  We also went to another athlete briefing where some pros were speaking.  I knew Linsey Corbin was racing and hoped to corner her and get a picture.  Sure enough, I pulled it off.  After that, we got in our car and drove a bit of the course.  We realized that there were going to be some punchy hills, but nothing we couldn’t handle.  Stopping for lunch at a place about 11 miles from the start, both T and I discussed our fears.  I admitted that I was terrified back at Silverman in 2015 but never said a word.  She asked if I wanted to drive more of the course, but I said no.  I wanted to not know what I was facing.  We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, eventually wandering out for our breakfast for dinner.  First we found a place to get manicures/pedicures.  Then it was back to the room, last minute prep, and bed.

Sunday morning was race day.  I woke up with some jitters, but tried to push them down.  Leaving our hotel room for transition, I did my best to stay calm.  When I got into trans and split away from T, it was like returning to an arena I hadn’t been in awhile but was very familiar with.  Setting up my trans area was routine and easy.  I had been there before and knew I could do what I needed to do.  T and I killed some time and eventually got into our wetsuits to walk down to the ocean.

We were faced with what looked like a very dense fog as the sun came up.  We knew we both wanted to get in a pre-race swim, so we eventually waded our way into the ocean and started summoning the courage to dive into very unfamiliar territory and get in what we needed to get in. 

Unfortunately, T had a mini freak-out before the swim and I was in the position of having to comfort her and reassure her, something I’m not used to doing.  I told her it would be okay and she would do great things.  She seemed to calm a bit and we started working our way to the swim start.

We heard rumblings that the swim was being pushed back, and sure enough, there was an announcement saying it would be pushed back about 20 minutes until the fog cleared a bit.  Once that happened, they would let us know the gameplan.  We found a couple of T’s teammates and commiserated with them about what was happening.  The rumors were flying.  Would the swim be cancelled?  Shortened?  Keep being pushed back?  No one knew.  Then an announcement came, saying that we would be shifting over to another part of the beach, and that our swim was going to be shortened.  No one seemed to know the distance – we heard everything from a simple “get wet to start your chip” to 800 meters to 1000 meters to it would be a full ½ Ironman swim. 

In some sort of organized line sort of, we waited our turn to get in the water.  It was still a rolling start, but not organized in any sort of way.  The swim appeared to be an 800 meter swim, maybe a bit shorter.  T and I both were a bit relieved it was shortened.  I said goodbye to her, hit the start mat, ran to the water, and began.

The Swim
It took just a couple strokes to get my breath under me.  Knowing the distance had been shortened considerably, I knew I could “bomb” the swim and still have a reasonable day.  So while I still stayed a tad conservative, I just went for it and pushed myself as well.  I was happy with how I swam, but not everything was perfect.  My new wetsuit was scratchy against my neck a bit, so I opened it up.  I also had to sprint to blow past a dude who kept pace with me.  My line was nowhere near straight.  Clearly need some open water practice!

When my hand hit the sand, I knelt down, but tried not to waste any time.  I hauled my carcass out of the water, and with no transition mat in sight, I looked at my watch.  Seeing a sub 2:00 per 100, I patted myself on the back (mentally) and started the ¼ mile slog towards trans.

Swim Time – 16:38

T1
With a very long run back to transition, I didn’t worry about my time.  Knowing I haven’t really raced a tri in awhile, I took my time, making sure I had everything in order.  My nutrition was on my person, my water bottles loaded, and I peeled out of trans ready to face the road and see what happened.

T1 Time – 7:42

The Bike
T had said something very important to me the day before or two days before the race – what happened in the past, both good and bad, didn’t matter today.  Draw on the good experiences, leave the bad experiences behind. 

Man, did that advice work!

I bombed out of transition like a man possessed.  I had a very specific gameplan in mind.  I would hydrate often but not to the point I was drinking for the sake of drinking.  With a cool temperature and an overcast sky (still some fog too), hydration was important but not crucial.  I also had set my Garmin to beep every 15 minutes to remind me to eat.

The first few miles of the race were through a residential neighborhood up on a cliff.  Nice view, if it’s not foggy.  But speedy too.  Then you do a brief climb up to the PCH, where you ride north.  The PCH was a bit bumpy, and there were rumble strips early in the ride, so I was on my toes.

My watch beeps at specific intervals (10 miles) and notifies me of the time.  When I saw 32:10 for my first split, I about screamed for joy.  That’s an insane time.  If I’m doing 35:00 or 37:00, I’m ecstatic.  So you can imagine how elated I was. That being said, I knew I had a long way to go, a few more hills to climb, and my pace might not be sustainable. 

The whole time I was riding, I kept reminding myself that the past was the past.  Silverman and Chatt?  They were failures, to be sure.  But is it fair to call them failures?  Silverman was a brutal course that I showed up vastly undertrained for, and Chatt bit me in the heat department.  I also reminded myself how amazing it was to be racing in California, my new work home.  I was so grateful to be enjoying myself. 

On the first huge hill, I just tossed it into the easiest gear I had.  Recently, T and I converted our gearing from 12/25 in the back to 11/28, which allows us to have an easier time climbing.  I definitely was grateful for the extra gearing that day.  I didn’t get discouraged by the slower time; I instead used it to my advantage to talk to myself and remind myself of what I was achieving. 

An important note here – some of you may/may not remember that at Ironman Boulder last year I was witness to a very unfortunate event.  A triathlete was hit by a car about 5 bikes in front of me and unfortunately died.  I was able to finish my race but her death hung on me.  Anytime I head a siren at Boulder or Chattanooga, I couldn’t help but worry about T.  At Santa Cruz, while I heard/saw a couple ambulances, I was able to not stress myself and wonder if it was her.  I think that played a major part into my day going well.

At the turn around, I saw my time and was just stunned.  I was sub-1:30:00, so I was on pace for a sub 3:00:00 bike.  I would have been happy with a 3:30:00, so to be doing what I was doing was great.  However, I knew I had 28 miles to go and didn’t have the greatest fitness, so I was going to be pedaling against myself for the back half of the ride.  I hit the aid station, grabbing water.  I was sticking to a great hydration plan. 

So the back half of the bike was definitely a bit more uphill.  Not more hilly per se, just a bit more climbing.  It didn’t matter though.  I was in a zone I have not felt in a very very long time.  I pounded the pedals, churned out the miles, and before I knew it, I was turning back into town towards transition. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, knowing I was going to do just over three hours.  I realized awhile back that sub-3 wasn’t happening, and while I would have loved 3:04:05 (my Boulder 2013 time), I was perfectly content to settle for 3:10:00.  Bounding down the final hill towards transition, I hopped off my bike, hit my Garmin, and got mentally ready for the run.

Bike Time – 3:09:35

T2
I wasn’t 100% sure how long I had for the run, but regardless, I breezed through trans.  Forgot sunscreen, but no problems otherwise.

T2 Time – 4:10

The Run
Okay.  I’m going to put something out there.  My running has not been good since 2013.  I’ve done some good stuff in running like the BAA 5K time, but most of my running has been a loooong, slow slog to ensure endurance.  The problem with this running style is I have no speed for more than a mile or two.  Furthermore, I just have not enjoyed running in a long time.  With that in mind, here we go.

As I started the run, it was getting warm as the fog burned off and the clouds were cleared.  I knew it was going to be in the high 70’s/low 80’s, but it felt hotter.  Knowing I am susceptible to heat, I was very conscious of what I was doing.  I talked with a few people early but failed to make a true run buddy.  I also saw T riding back into transition as I hit the first mile, so knowing she was in a good place was wonderful.  I knew she would finish; she would actually have a chance to catch me depending on how she ran.

The run took us back through the cliff town and then out on a trail into some farmland that eventually looped us near the ocean.  The first 3 miles of the run were fine, but the run to the turnaround point was boring, hilly, and very hot/dusty.  Definitely did not enjoy myself that much, but started mentally thinking about how I was going to silence every demon that had been haunting me.  Every mile sign I hit, I said to myself “one mile closer”. 

The view of the ocean definitely was beautiful.  I’ve spent a bit of time in various spots in SoCal with Delta viewing the ocean, and this view certainly didn’t disappoint.  I loved it and I definitely think it pulled me into a good spot.   As I started back towards trans, there was about 5 miles to go.  I figured I might see T, but I might not depending on how well she was doing.  I didn’t see her, so I knew she was lurking not too far behind.  Awesome.

With about 3 miles to go, I saw a runner heading out.  I shouted some encouragement to them, because I realized I had been there with Silverman.  Hell, I’ve been there in a lot of races.  I knew how it felt.  I never want to see anyone fail and I hope whoever they are made it.

When I reached about 12 miles, I made a true run buddy.  She was a Betty team member and we talked about this and that for awhile.  I told her about my demons and she was happy I squashed them.  She explained a bit about Betty and we promised we’d push each other to the finish.  She went ahead of me, and I didn’t mind.

At the final push, you ran down a hill, hit the beach for about 20 yards, then the finish line.  I was a bit overcome with emotion, but more determination.  I heard that you run on sand to the finish; I didn’t notice.  I just pushed myself, hit the finish line, and said a sincere thank you to whoever was watching over me.

Run Time – 2:59:48

Post-Race

Total Time – 6:37:53
I got my medal, hat, a bottle of water, took a couple of finisher pictures, then went back to find T.  She came in about 15 minutes total behind me, and I ran to the finish line to find her.  We hugged and both expressed our pride for each other.  We walked back to transition, grabbed a bit of food, then got our stuff packed up and walked back to the hotel to get cleaned up and go celebrate.

This race was redemption for many, many things.


I will be writing a blog in a few more days about why I have been incognito, talking about some thoughts that have been going through my head this last year.  I will also talk about the future.

Race #8 of the Season: Ironman Santa Cruz 70.3

I had no idea what to expect going into this race.

I survived camp no problem, but training post-camp was, like much of the rest of the year, sporadic at best. That being said, I knew I could make it through, as long as I kept my mental game strong.

We drove out to Santa Cruz from Denver, leaving September 6 and arriving the 8th. Right after we checked in to the hotel, we checked in for the race.

9-8check-in
Back to crappy bags.

We were going to go for a practice swim, but there was an advisory due to an algae bloom, so we figured that it wasn't worth risking it, particularly since we both felt a tad under the weather.


9-8hotel2
Transition. This was literally taken out our hotel room window. Ideal location? I think yes.

On the 9th, we did a short spin of the first few miles of the bike course to check it out. Early impression? False flats. Hooray. We drove a bit more later that day, learning there would be some rolling hills, but it didn't look terrible.

After the ride, we checked in the bikes ...


9-9check-in

9-9check-in2

... and went for one of the shortest shake-out runs ever.

We found Hidden Figures on TV that night before bed, which made for much better pre-race viewing.

Race Day

Being so close to transition made the morning really nice. We woke up, I tried eating some of my breakfast (a chicken egg and cheese biscuit purchased the day before from Chick-fil-a), got dressed, and headed over to transition. We got body-marked, the tires pumped up, and a lot of our stuff organized (nutrition and hydration and the like) before heading back to the hotel. It's nice doing one's pre-race poop from the comfort of one's hotel room. We were also able to let the ink settle a bit before tossing on sunscreen. Tried to eat a bit more food and then headed back over to transition. After a picture, of course.

9-10pre-race
Ugh, so tired ...

Transition time was spent finalizing the order of everything and getting prepped and ready to swim. We knew it was a bit of a hike, so we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to walk down to where we needed to be on the beach.

Race morning was foggy. We could tell that in transition. The problem was ... the fog just wasn't burning off.

I tried going for a pre-race swim (baby's first official ocean swim) ... and freaked out. Seriously. I have NEVER freaked out that badly before a race before. Salt water was weird, it was a bit cold, the waves ... probably more the fact that I couldn't see much more than a few yards away ... it was bad. Brandon had to calm me down, which never happens.

We heard some muffled announcements, so we decided to get out of the water closer to the speakers. In waiting for more information, I was able to meet two of my Team SFQ teammates - Darlene and Kelly, the latter being one of our pros. The announcements were basically a delay in the swim due to visibility (it was hard to see the first yellow buoy from the shore - it kept going in and out of the fog). Kelly thought there was a good chance the swim might be cancelled completely (she'd seen it happen in the Big Kahuna days of the race).

Eventually, we heard "shortened swim" and all got herded up the beach through a swarm of sand flies.

The swim would go off ... as a half-mile and out the same arch as we'd eventually be finishing through. So people would be finishing running past the line of people waiting to start.

The Swim

Race swim was supposed to start at 7am, with the cut being 8:30am. Yeah, I got *in* the water at 8:40. Cuts kind of got thrown out the window with this race. I stayed with Brandon through the massive crowd of humanity until just about the time we were going through the start arch.

As I figured, my anxiety pretty much died as soon as I started to race. Salt water was gross, yes, but whatever. The bigger problem was that I got the crap kicked out of me on this swim. A Skirt sister/MaccaX teammate, Aleks, said that her swim was nice and free. Me? Not so much. I adjusted the way I was breathing to be able to handle not only the waves, but the physical beating I was getting.

I didn't sight too much, trying to use the people around me as guides (camp tip!), but I did pretty well, given that I legit almost tangled myself up in the turn buoys. Oops.

The fabulously short swim got done quickly and I enjoyed the 18:something I saw on my watch.

Time: 20:28 (69th division, 470th gender, 1745th overall)

T1:

I knew T1 would be long because of the run on sand and then the total quarter mile back to where the bikes were. Happily, I ran probably about 75-80% of that. 

Took a tip from a teammate and used a spare water bottle to wash most of the sand off me, and used both my and the woman's next to me (sorry) trans towel to wash the sand and the little black specks from the stupid field turf off my feet.

All in all, a bit longer of a T1 than I'm used to (or would like), but given everything, whatever.

Time: 6:11

The Bike:

I felt pretty good on the bike. The fog had burned off on the water enough that we age groupers in the back of the line (unlike the pros) had full visibility for our tiny course, but we still had to ride a lot of the bike with it. I couldn't see the ocean through large swaths of the ride.

The first part was a little slow going as I got my legs under me and as I tried to shove food in my mouth. By about 15 miles in, though, I was feeling pretty good. I was passing some, got passed by others, tried not to die by cars pulling out/turning in front of myself/other riders, the usual. 

The roads turned crap by the turnaround so I was more watching the pavement than anything else to make sure I was staying over but also taking the safest line. That killed some mental energy.

Made it to the turnaround in I think 1:40ish, which made me pretty dang happy.

Saw the aftermath of a bad wreck just a few miles after the turn. I'd seen a few bikes down - a bit more carnage than I like to see during a race.

Went through a rough spot on the back half of the course, but tried to manage it as best I could. Was still attempting to shove food in my face, but I was stretching on the bike more than I would have liked to have been at that point. I got a second wind at probably around mile 40ish (I think), though, which helped me finish strong. I was two minutes from transition when I saw Brandon about a mile or so into the run, so I knew I wasn't too terribly far behind.

Time: 3:21:08 (52nd, 370th, 1856th)

T2:

Dismount, in, change to running stuff, happy my Body Glide wasn't a complete melted mess (yay!), off and go.

Time: 3:32

The Run:

My first main thought on the run was "find a porta potty." After 28 triathlons, I finally had one fall on my period and I knew I needed to change my tampon badly. I was considering doing it on the bike (and probably would have pre-ride had the swim been normal length), but I didn't want to stop the momentum from my ride. So, instead, I changed things out at the first aid station, just under a mile into the run.

Much better.

The first half of the run was a run/walk slog, much like I knew it would be. I was eating some and drinking as much as I could, doing the same Skratch doctoring of my handheld like I did at IM Boulder last year (drink good chunk of handheld; add ice, water, and more Skratch in at each aid station). My miles were primarily in the 13 range, which I was pretty content with, all things considered.

Then came Wilder Ranch State Park.

And the heat. And the dusty roads.

sc_run
The one official race photo I bought off of FinisherPix.

Gorgeous place for the turnaround section, right?

Except running on those hot, dirt roads sucked. It reminded me of the bad part of racing in Boulder at the Res. And of Pikes Peak. And ... blah.

Miles 7 and 8 were not pretty.

I was able to pick it back up as we got back into town. I was trying as hard as I could, thinking that if I could just get back into the 13s, I could keep my run sub-3 hours (my new goal). I was successful in this until the final mile, where I thought I lost it.

My Garmin was registering a bit long* so I hit the 13 mile point before where it probably should have been, and that mile was in the 14s. I thought my sub-3 was gone. I saw Brandon at the bottom of the hill before the final turn on the sand to the finish and was giving it everything I had.

Thankfully, it was enough.

Time: 2:59:57 (68th, 455th, 1754th)

Overall Stats:
Time: 6:51:16
61/89 division (F30-34)
430/660 (?) gender
1696/2324 overall

That is obviously a PR, but with a shortened swim ... it kind of doesn't count. We do believe that even had the swim been regular length, it still probably would be (previous was a 7:40; would I have taken up an extra 50 minutes on the swim? most likely not).

I PRed the bike by about 8 minutes, which I'm very pleasantly surprised with. Even happier is that my run, as terrible as it's been over the past year or so, was only about 1:15 off my 70.3 run PR, so that's actually pretty nice.

Best news of all? I didn't hate my life during that 70.3, which I usually do, which means I can actually race another one! I'd never really enjoyed the distance before, but I did this race, so I'm thankful for that.

post-sc
Post-race, with our medals, back at the hotel.

Now, it is the glorious offseason, which is good, because I've come down with a stupid cold of doom. I may enter in some 5Ks before the year is out, but other than that, I am pretty much done with racing for the year.




*Long in that my total distance for the race was 70.5 miles. So even with a shortened swim, I did the official distance. Yeah, yeah, I know transition runs don't count. :-p