Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Running Progress

Since I last penciled the previous post regarding my inherent distaste for the sport of running, there have been some pretty remarkable changes in my attitude. I signed up for the Vancouver Lake Half Marathon taking place in January 2008. And to avoid looking like a fool in January, I've been attending the beginner running sessions 3-4 days a week. We are now up to 100 minutes on our long days, and really, it's not so bad. I even completed the 8.3mi Turkey Trot last week!

I've been struggling with some fatigue and hip/knee pain issues, but am trying to deal with them logically rather than giving up. The group has been insanely supportive and I find myself looking forward to the morning run as I set my alarm at bedtime. For the first time in my life I've burned through a pair of running shoes and will be buying a new pair this weekend. I have even been scanning websites for upcoming races that sound fun. Huh? Fun? Oh yeah, I think I may be getting into this whole running thing. Just don't tell anyone, because I'm not quite ready to give up the title of "biggest complainer" on the runs. :-)


There are few things in life that I truly hate: going to the dentist, the stomach flu, migraines, ...and...running. Really, I hate it that much. The only reasons I find it semi-tolerable are that 1) it seems to be the only way to shed the pounds that are clinging to me like blackberry bushes, 2) the people who are kind enough to run with me are really fun to be around, and 3)...hmmmm, I can't think of a third. I'm hoping to change that though.

Since I began my quest to go from couch potato to triathlete, I think that I've done a respectable job of building my swim and bike skills. I do have a long way to go, but I've also come a long way. I work out religiously and on any given day you will find me in the weight room, in the pool, or on a nice country backroad spinning away. You probably will not find me jogging on a local running trail. Nor will you find me on a treadmill. Or at the high school track. Once in awhile -- if Nadine or Denise or somebody has pretty much pulled me by my hair out the door -- you may find me within 2 miles of the gym, sweating profusely, half jogging/half limping, with snot dripping out of my face, and a whole lot of complaining coming out of my mouth. But I have painfully come to the realization that a triathlete is called a TRIathlete because, obviously, you need to be skilled in three things. Not 2. And unfortunately for me duathlons are not a swim-bike-swim event.

Not only do I not like it, it scares me. I've always been a slow runner and I don't like being bad at something. I've been lucky to figure out how to use my body to my advantage in other sports: good hand eye coordination in high school sports like softball; hefty center of gravity for downhill sports like skiing and kayaking. With swimming I was taught good technique...and my booty-girl-booty certainly doesn't hurt. With cycling I've worked on shifting at the right time, using the mechanical advantage of the gearing, and taking damn good advantage of the downhills. Running -- it's just me and the ground.

Okay, enough whining. So, what am I going to do about it? I may never enjoy running, but I'm determined to become sort of competent in it. Coach Denise from the gym has urged us to sign up for a half-marathon and is forming a beginner running group. Who knows, maybe a future blog post will be titled, "how much I love running", but I wouldn't check back too often if I were you...

Luna Women's Sprint Tri

July 28, 2007
Lakeview, OR

This was my second triathlon. And while by any standards that is very very new, the anxiety in the days leading up to this were noticably absent. I knew I could finish it, likely not come in last (my biggest fear from the first one), and the chances of someone else embarassing themselves more than me was pretty high. Plus, several of my training friends from the gym were embarking on their very first tri, so I was more excited for them and caught up in that. But...I woke up Saturday morning in a near panic. I was all of a sudden aware that I had run less than a half dozen times since the june event. Yeah, I was putting in decent time in the pool and on the bike (hey, STP counts as like 10 workouts, right?), if you don't finish the run, you don't finish. Too late to worry much about lack-o-training now.

Forgoing breakfast in favor of coffee, I hurriedly set up my transition area so I could get to the bathroom. The lines were horrific, so I suited up early and got in the water for a "warmup." Ahhhh... It was almost time to start anyway, so we all wished each other good luck and joined up with our respective waves. Sherry and I started together and it was so great to talk with someone up until the horn sounded. The swim start was a bit more chaotic than last time and I ended up behind a bunch of kickers that I couldn't get around. So I patiently waited for them to expend their energy flailing before I could pass. I never did find somebody to draft, but in an 800m swim, I suppose it doesn't matter too much.

Me and Sherry waiting for the swim to start.

T1 went slow because I had problems with my bike shoes. The ratchets weren't undone, the straps were still velcroed together, and my front break on the bike was tweaked. Next time, less coffee and more time setting stuff up. I still had issues with my breaks about a mile into the ride, but I was able to fix it without stopping. Please, no lecturing on that. I know it's not safe. All-in-all th ebike seemed easier, if not faster, this time aroundn. I definitely passed more people and wasn't all that tired coming back into the park.

Unfortunately T2 was also slooooow. My bike shoes weren't coming off quickly (I think it's time for new shoes), my helmet got caught in my hair, etc. And some little evil troll magically turned my legs into tree stumps. The bastard. Really, the run seemed so much harder than I remember. Maybe it's time to put some effort in to working on my running. I got through it, had fun seeing people from the gym on the turnaround, and had a big smile on my face as I came through the finish line. Yay, I did it!

Heading out for the run. Hey, I'm SMILING!!!

Sherry welcoming me through the finish.

I'm too lazy to look up my times, but I think it was something like this compared to the June event: very slightly faster swim, same T1, faster bike, same T2, slower run; about a minute or two faster overall.

STP - Day 2

I don't remember much about day 2 and unfortunately I didn't make any notes afterwards. I do, however, remember how horribly painful our rear ends were in the morning. It took a few miles before we were able to sit down without a yelp. This occurred after every break, so we quit taking breaks to avoid the whole process.

Morning 2: Brian happy that we'll be leaving shortly and he can go back to sleep.

Morning 2: Airing up the tires -- my super favorite 4:30am activity...

The scenery was beautiful, and if it weren't for the "rolling hills", I probably would have appreciated even more. It was a hot afternoon and many thanks go out to the volunteers staying late for the stragglers. And also to the many home owners towards the finish in Portland who stood on the sidewalks hosing us off as we passed.

We finished around 4 or 5pm, did a quick pass through the expo, and then headed home. A quick shower, (well earned) french fries, and an early bedtime. Aside from the weird looks at work the next week (I was wearing sweats and walking funny for a couple of days), we recovered fairly quickly and I was back on my bike within 2 days. I think I would do it again, although I learned a hard lesson regarding training...

STP 2007 -- Day 1

What do you get when you combine over 200 miles of cycling in two days, three people who have spent a combined total of maybe 200 miles on their bikes in the last 6 months, and a whole lot of hills? Complaining, complaining, sore heineys, and lots of chaffing. Oh, and a big huge serving of humble pie. It wasn't pretty.

Ken, Nadine, Brian, and I left Vancouver on Friday afternoon to head to our hotel in Seattle. The traffic from Olympia to Seattle was dreadful and took several hours. At one point Brian's GPS logged an average speed of 15mph -- similar to our STP pace! We finally arrived at the hotel and after checking in we drove to where we would start our ride. Then began the search for a nice, hearty meal. We were in bed around 11pm, but I got little sleep due to 3 snoring people in my room. I won't mention names.

At 4am a chorus of alarms sounded and we methodically packed up, lubed up, aired up, and got to the starting point. Within seconds, pace-line upon pace-line breezed past us. We stopped at the REI Kent rest stop for bathrooms. I later regretted not taking some food, as it turned out to be the best stop of the weekend.

We rolled into Puyallup sooner than expected and came upon "The Hill" without any warning. It was just all of a sudden there, looming over us. It was more long than it was difficult, but I had already worked myself into a frenzy about it over the past several weeks and mentally wasn't up for the challenge. Shifting into granny gear mode too soon didn't help either. I walked pretty early on and received many looks of concern. I wanted to shout "Yeah everyone, I know! I'm an idiot! You don't have to look at me like I don't know that I'm an idiot!"

Ken and Nadine were at the top patiently waiting for me, we had our picture snapped (the photo didn't turn out), and continued on our way to the Day 1 half-way mark -- Spanaway. Somewhere around this time is when I reached the longest mileage I had ever gone on a bike! Where you not reading earlier when I said that I know I'm an idiot? We got to Spanaway early enough so the lines weren't bad, water was still available, and there was plenty of food. Oh...the food...AWFUL! PB&J sandwiches on stale bread with no PB&J. We choked it down anyway and got back on the bikes. Ouch! My butt hurt already!

I don't remember much more about day 1 other than the miserable bike trail in Tenino. The trail itself wouldn't be too bad (although quite boring) except for the root system growing up through the pavement. Every 10 feet or so, "ka-thunk-ka-thunk-ka-thunk" as you jarred over broken asphalt. I lost the sponge from my aerobottle several times. I bit my tongue too.

The best part of the day was arriving in Centralia to music, cheering, and the best orange cream cicles I have ever tasted. The iced coffee was nice, but not really what you crave after riding a century. Brian was a freakin awesome dude and had already set up our camp and unloaded the car. He then proceeded to pour us beer and cook dinner while I wandered down to the massage tent. Mmm.... I went to bed early and woke up in the middle of the night with no one sleeping next to me. Well, the beer garden became free after a certain time and Ken just couldn't miss out! If you don't know Ken, he snores LOUDLY when he has been drinking. So much for catching up on my sleep that night...

104 down, 104 to go!

My First Triathlon!

Blue Lake Triathlon
6/9/2007; Lakeview (Troutdale), OR; 1:44:11

My first triathlon!!! I did it! If someone had told me 6 months ago that I would be finishing a tri in June, I would have laughed, finished my beer, and then gone back to eating my french fries. Hahaha. I know it's no ironman, but I'm still very proud of myself!

I was lucky enough to have my Mom in town to cheer me on, along with my super supportive sweetie-pie. I drove to the lake with Nadine and after getting markered up (Sharpie does NOT come off easily) and bumbling through setting up our transition area, we walked to the water to check out the swim course. I had never actually seen what 800m looks like before and it looked far. I didn't want to look at the water anymore so we walked through the in & out transitions and then did a quick warmup.

As I was changing into my wetsuit about 20m before start time, I found it funny that I had only 4 things in my transition area besides the bike (bike shoes, helmet, run shoes, towel), yet it took me over an hour the night before to get everything together. Anyway, off to the lake for a warmup swim, grease up my legs with Pam, and wait for my wave to start. Before I knew it, the whistle blew and a mass of green-headed people splashed off. I started in the middle and finished in the middle -- passing lots of yellow caps (wave before me) and having a few purple caps pass me (wave behind me) along the way. I came out of the water feeling like I could have gone a lot faster, but it was nice to get on the bike without being too winded.

Me exiting the swim.

On the ride out I had a pretty good head wind and was focusing on how nice the ride back would be. The wind died down near the turnaround point and as I was on my way back, I had...a head wind! Figures...

The rain started as I was transitioning to the run. It didn't bother me at the time, but it was cold and uncomfortable after the race.

Me starting the run leg. My bike must not have been that slow, look at the fit looking chic behind me!

But, back to the run.. It sucked. The only good part was that I am so slow that it's really easy to people watch. There are some real characters that do triathlons! Did I mention how much the run sucked? But about 100 yards before the end of the run, Nadine caught up to me and we crossed the finish line together. Awesome!

Me and Nadine coming down the finish chute.

My Mom, me, and sweetie-pie Ken after the event.

Lacamas Lake 5K


My running partner-in-crime, Nadine, had been having foot and leg pain and opted for the 5k walk instead of the run. So I was again running solo. Cue Johnny Cash on the MP3 and I was off. The course almost immediately flew down a really steep hill. Instead of enjoying the fast pace, I though aloud, "damn, we have to run back up this bitch". Apparantly it hadn't occurred to anyone else because the comment was met with loud groans and dirty looks.

The race tapered to a nice flat run with some gentle hills. My time at mile 2 was just over 20 minutes. Nice! Time to turn on the afterburners & finish with a PR of under 30 minutes. Hahahaha, how silly of me to think such things!

The road started climbing uphill ever-so-slightly. Then it got steeper. And steeper. And holy hilly mother-f*%&er! My stridges became shorter and shorter until I began wondering if I was actually going backwards. A volunteer assured me that I was indeed making progress. I finished in over 37 minutes, which means that last mile took me over 17 minutes to complete. Ouch! It was a great workout though. :-)

Solaire Salmon Run 5K


Ken took me to Bend for the weekend and when I saw there was a 5k race that Saturday, I wanted to enter. A flat course along the river with mountain views -- what could be better?

We arrived in town on Friday night and checked into McMenamins hotel. It was a nice afternoon so we meandered up to the Grateful Dead bar and drank cocktails next to the fire. Followed by pints, more pints, and then dinner & pitchers. We ended the night with a dehydrating dip in the hot soaking pool.

So, back to the race... I was feeling a little less than stellar, there was ice on the ground, and I didn't have a running partner to put happy thoughts into my head. But I put on my headphones and decided to sprint and see how long it took me to burn out. I hit mile 1 around 08:30, which is really fast for me. I never saw mile 2 (hmmm, I'm starting to see a pattern...), but I did see a bunch of people crossing the river at the wrong footbridge. I remember thinking, "whatever jackass has to cheat on a 3.1 mile run, is a real tool".

Pretty soon I was running by myself wondering what the heck happened to mile 2. After awhile I knew that I was close to the finish line, but my time didn't make any sense for how fast I felt I was going. I finished in over 35 minutes and I was puzzled that my pace had slowed down so much after the 1st mile.Two explanations: 1) all of those people "cheating" were oncourse and I was the jackass going the wrong way, and/or 2) cocktails/beer/wine the night before a race is no good.

Races for the Roses 5K


The morning of the race was perfect weather, although a somewhat early start. Brian & Nadine picked me up at 6am and then we headed to the Convention Center. Due to the parking lot clusterfuck, we were glad we left early. We had time to stretch, check in outerlayers, and watch the half-marathoners take off.

Our race started at 7:30, but i ttook almost a full minute to get through the start line. We began at a fast pace and enjoyed the downhill to the Broadway Bridge. The rest of the course was mostly flat and we were happy for that. Nadine was awesome and slowed her pace down to run with me. Although she did push me to kick it up a notch and gave me some help working on my breathing, stride, etc. The volunteers were awesome and there were even 2 aid stations on the 5k course! My favorite part was the turnaround point on Front Avenue with the radio station blaring music and the enthusiastic volunteer (bum?) shouting and high-fiving all of the runners. Great motivator to keep going.

I became a bit concerned when we were getting close to the Steel Bridge and I had yet to see a "mile 2" sign. I guess I must have just missed it. The inline to get over the bridge was a total bitch, but Nadine encouraged me to keep running and reminded me of the downhill relax time coming up. Before I knew it we were rounding the last corner and sprinting to the finish line. Everyone got a rose and a medal for finishing, which was a nice touch. And the food spread was fabulous!

Time: 00:35:08, an 11:19 pace and 4.5 minutes faster than last time!!!

Embarassing Training Moment


The first crash. Everyone has one. Usually it's while coming to a stop sign and forgetting to unclip the feet. Or maybe hitting an ugly patch of gravel and sliding out. Or perhaps even the miscalculated reach for the water bottle. Not I. Nope, mine had to be in the middle of spin class. Yes, you did read that correctly.

There I was, minding my own business pedaling hard, down on my aero bars and looking in the mirror thinking, "dang, I look like I know what I'm doing." When all of a sudden CRASH. Me, the bike, the trainer, and the metal shelf I fell into were all in a heap on the carpeted spin room floor. My feet were still clipped in and pretty much stuck. I'm very sure that legs aren't supposed to be twisted into that position. The entire class came to a screeching halt and every guy in there jumped off their bikes and ran over to me. I was grateful for the help, but holy smackers, I was mortified!!!! And my rear wheel was too bent to keep going. So I humbly climbed onto a stationary bike and finished the class.

The biggest bummer of all? $130 in damage. And I'll be sans bike for a few days. So since you got a good chuckle at my expense, buy me a beer next time you see me, eh? :-)

My First 5K



Today I did my first 5k run. It was a small fundraiser for a local elementary school with lots of kids and a suprisingly good percussion band playing. The perfect low key setting for my first race. If I didn't finish, no one would notice. If I had to cross the finish line walking, the only people there to make fun of me were a bunch of 4th graders.

But I finished and I didn't have to walk. I can't remember the last time I ran over 3 miles without walking even a little bit. Granted, my time today was slow. Just under 40 minutes. But all I really wanted to do was finish in under an hour. I was silently hoping for somewhere around 45 minutes. 39 minutes and whatever seconds isn't so bad when you put it in that perspective. Yay!!!

My good friend, Desi came out and ran with me. Ken did too. I was thankful to have two of my best friends there for some encouragement. Desi taught me some neat tricks for getting up those hills. And they didn't make me feel silly for getting excited (or nervous) about a little 5k "race". At least now I know I can finish the last leg of my first sprint triathlon!

Training for a Triathlon


How I decided to train for a triathlon was easy. How I got to that point is a bit more complicated. Like most people, I went to college after highschool. And like most people, I put on the "Freshman 10", except for it was more like 15 or 20. However, I also put on the Sophomore 10, the Junior 10, and the Senior 10. Except that I had 2 senior years. Yikes! I was still active: skiing, backpacking, hiking, etc. But not nearly as active as when I was younger. And....there was more beer. And wine. And cocktails. You get the idea.

Anyway, fast forward to about a year ago when I started to get serious about working out again. But I'm lazy and really really good at talking my self into or out of things. Like ordering a pizza and watching a movie instead of going for a run. Duh, that's an easy choice. But while I wasn't gaining any more weight, I sure wasn't losing any. And I was tired of being the last one to finish a portage or having my boyfriend carry my boat up a hill because I just couldn't do it. I was also getting sick a lot and generally feeling unhealthy.

Soooooo, while in spin class one day I looked up and saw over 50 pictures of club members who had finished an Ironman. And then on my way out of the gym I saw a sign for Beginner Triathlon training. Hmmmm....the wheels started turning in my head. So I signed up. For meetings. For group bike rides. For swim lessons. I bought a bike. I upgraded my workout gear. I had my gait analyzed and got new running shoes. And I've logged a little too much time online checking out triathlon websites. I developed a training schedule and began sticking to it. Religiously. If I want a pizza, I have to do my workouts first. And then I can go get some cheesy yumminess. But most of the time I end up feeling more like whole wheat pasta with broccoli instead.

Anyway, as of today I've finished 3 full weeks of training and have lost 10 pounds. And for the first time since I was a kid I actually enjoy working out. A month ago I couldn't run a mile without walking. Today I finished my first 5k race without walking. I decided to start blogging all of this so that later on I can look back on my progress. I think I'll put a calendar up (if I can figure it out) with my race dates on it. That way, anyone who gives a crap to read any of this can keep me honest. :-)

My Training Blog

I've been posting a few blogs here and there on MySpace, but I wanted something easier to use so I would be more consistent. I want to add photos and such too. I'll be moving a few of my posts over to this site and hopefully keeping it up-to-date. Even if I'm on the only one who reads it, it certainly will be fun to look back on later!