Friday, October 28, 2011

Weekend Inspirations

Five inspirations for your weekend.

1. Chrissie Wellington's race report from Kona.

2.  Team Hoyt.

3.  A great post from my coach, Liz, on being still.

4.  The Lululemon Manifesto.
5.  A shirt I've been wanting all year.

Race Report: Girlfriends Half Marathon

Sometime back in 2010 my registration-happy index finger pulled the trigger on signing up for the 2011 Girlfriends Half Marathon.  There's nothing really unusual about that.  However, what was very unusual - I had zero recollection of ever doing it.  Flash forward to a couple of months ago, sitting on the couch with my dear friend Jenn, I thought "hmmm, you know, I wonder why I didn't sign up for it this year".   A quick search through my email files showed that I had, indeed, actually signed up.  What is my world coming to when a half marathon is so normal that it's not even a blip on the memory radar?

Race week was also not the typical race week.  Instead of tapering for the event, I logged over 15 hours of swim/bike/run.  The day before the race, which is usually a day of rest and relaxation, included 90 miles of riding on the trainer.  Followed by a run through the neighborhood alps.  My normal pre-race morning routine of coffee and chilling out to music was replaced with 2 miles of running.  And I delayed my post-race bloody mary (fo shame!) so that I could knock out another 2 miles of running.  So, yeah, this whole thing was just not right.

But back to the race.  I think there's something to getting a good warm-up in.  I'm lazy, and typically under trained, and therefore usually sit around and conserve as much energy as possible before starting a race.  But I was warm and peppy and ready to go when the gun went off.  The 13.1 miles in between the start and finish lines is actually kind of boring, so I'll spare you the play-by-play.  I chatted with the ladies, hugged Julie's daughter Lilli (they came out to cheer), listened to some Eminem and Nicki Minaj, and planned out my grocery list for the week.  Nothing worth reporting out on.

What is worth reporting out on though ----  PR BABY!!!!!

Seriously, I shaved 4 minutes off my previous best half marathon time.  Despite the masochistic week devised by Coach Liz.  :-)

Time = 2:21:32
Pace = 10:48/mile
Position = still back of the pack...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Race Report: Augusta 70.3

This is another delayed race report, the details long faded into the irretrievable depths of my overfilled memory.  Only the highlights (long-winded as they are) are easily accessible.  I suppose that's a good thing - too many awesome memories taking up space.
The main purpose of this race was as a tune-up before Ironman Arizona.  Two guys from my company, also doing Arizona, talked me into it.  Being 8 weeks out, the timing was perfect.  But being located in the southeastern portion of the country, while I reside in the northwest, was a tad less than ideal.  Since my registration-happy trigger finger doesn't know the difference, we made the trek to Georgia a few weekends back.

After a semi-stressful packing of the bike into the bike box, we loaded up, and made our way through 12 hours of airport travel.  My procrastination in purchasing plane tickets resulted in some hefty fares, as well as a random route and lengthy layovers.  We ended up in Atlanta, stayed the night there, and then finished up the trip with a 3 hour drive to Augusta the next morning.  Pre-race day was packed full of standing in line, tracking down CO2 cartridges (can't take those on the plane), driving the course, and navigating the crowded town.  I think it was the most exhausting pre-race day I've had to date.  By 9:30pm we were finally checked into the hotel, bellies full, and settling in for a well-earned night of rest.

After a restless sleep, the alarm sounded around 5am.  I don't know if I'll ever get used to that.  Shower, eat, hydrate, and load up to head to transition.  Every single race in the last 5 years has been cold at the start.  So out of habit I dressed in long pants over my tri shorts, a jacket over my tri top, and a knit hat.  I even had gloves packed in my tri bag.  And arm warmers for the bike.  And sweats for post-race.  Hot cup of coffee gripped between my hand, we stepped out of the hotel... 70 degrees.  80% humidity.  And only 6am.  That probably tells you how equipped I was to deal with the impending heat facing us that day.

The logistics of Augusta are challenging, and frankly, quite annoying.  Especially when you are of the mindset to get in, do what you came for, get out, go home.  This venue is the largest Half Ironman on the circuit, with over 3000 athletes.  The swim is down-current, and while that makes for some really fast swim splits, it means that the start line and transition are a mile apart.  So add in shuttle buses and confused spectators to the huge quantity of people and small town roads.  They do a decent job managing the chaos, but there seemed to be a background noise of frustration for me the entire weekend.

I'll skip through all the admin stuff of the morning.  After watching all 21 other waves go before me, it was finally time for my age group to file into the water.  I jumped off the dock cannon-ball style (would you expect anything less?) and swam up towards the front of the group.  A few people back, smack in the middle.  I like to be all up in the business for the swim start.
The horn blew, I swam, I finished.  Nothing really interesting happened in between.  The quality of the Savannah river leaves a lot to be desired, but it was down current and wicked fast.  And I didn't get eaten by alligators.

If you're new to this blog, you should know that of all the triathlon events, I don't mess around in transition.  I take my T1 and T2 times very seriously.  It might not be the most glamorous of the events, and certainly not one that is going to get me on the podium, but I take pride in it nonetheless.  The Augusta swim-to-bike transition includes a run up a steep hill out of the water, a long run around the transition area, and then through the other side.  It's long, but it's also carpeted and grassy and well stocked with porta-potties (should you need them).  They also had wet suit strippers.  Everything went well for me here.

The bike course is described as "a one-loop, hilly bike course through Georgia and into South Carolina".  It wasn't exactly flat, but it wasn't necessarily hilly either.  One thing it DEFINITELY wasn't?  Cold.  I swear, it felt like I had a hot, wet blanket over my head the entire day.  I stuck to my plan, managed my pace, kept on top of my nutrition and hydration plan, and sucked down the salt tabs like candy.  I came into T2 feeling like I nailed the bike, but I was very much overheated.

Nothing special to report here either.  Rack bike, helmet off, socks on, shoes on, grab everything else and get the heck out of there.

By now it was close to 90 degrees and 90% humidity.  I was told by other athletes that this was mild weather and I'm lucky it wasn't hot this year.  I tip my visor to you folks.  I don't know how you train/race in that climate.  Unless we move to that region, I think this is my last time signing up for a race in the southeast.  Do you hear that, Mr. Pointer Finger???
But back to the run.  The first half was a suffer-fest.  My method was to run the sunny sections and walk through the shade to maximize my time out of the sun.  Those streets are lined with trees, but in the middle of the day there isn't much shade.  Only hundreds of 3-4' sections of shade.  So I would "run" for about 30 seconds and then walk for 3 seconds over and over again.  No doubt this annoyed the hell out of everyone around me.  And while it wasn't the fastest way to get from point A to point B, it still got me to point B.  I guzzled water at each aid station, stuffed sponges under my bra straps, and dumped ice into my sports bra and down my shorts.  I knew that calories weren't going to stay down, so took coke and Perform when I could.  Want to know how to cool off quickly?  Smoosh about 5 ice cubes against your bits.
And then the most glorious thing happened.  Thunder and lightning rolled in.  And it started RAINING!  With the drop in temperature and constant cool moisture hitting my body, I was able to start running again and didn't stop until I crossed the finish line.  I ended up with a decent negative split and finished strong.

After navigating back through the chaos to pack-up and get out of town, we made the drive back to Atlanta.  And the next morning repeated the process of connections and layovers to get back to Portland.  Overall, this is a great venue and good course.  It fit the bill for what I needed, and while the weekend was certainly better than I expected it to be, I'm not sure I would sign up for it again.  We really are spoiled out here in the west.  Sometimes you just need a little reminder to appreciate what you have.

Swim - 0:31:33 (1:40/100m)
T1 - 0:03:47
Bike - 3:17:53 (16.98 mph)
T2 - 0:02:00
Run - 2:58:08 (13:36/mi)
TOTAL = 6:53:21

Sunday, October 9, 2011

2011 Hood-to-Coast

Far too much time has passed to write a race report that details all of the awesomeness of this year's Hood-to-Coast.  But since the primary purpose of this blog is to capture the athletic side of my life so that I can look back on where I've been, things I've accomplished, and lessons learned, I'm going to memorialize it anyway.  The most important thing to remember from 2011 is how much FUN we had.  I need to remind myself of that next year when all of the planning and hassle inevitably leaves me thinking "I'm never doing this again."

We really had the perfect mix of people.  The right amount of crazy, responsibility, teamwork, and personalities.  We had some difficult adversities to face (thunderstorm, outrageously hot weather, broken down van, record traffic issues, etc.) but still managed to end up in Seaside with sore cheeks from ridiculous amounts of laughing.  And after more than 30 hours of no sleep, we still managed to rally for another 12 hours of post-race festivities.  Which, of course, were just as fun as the relay itself, but perhaps not suitable for this audience.

4:15am race start at Timberline on Mt. Hood.

One of the Van1 windows.  Inside joke.

No explanation needed.

Note the strategically placed door seam.  The runners of this van also had authentic molester-staches.  And cutoff jean shorts.

Coming in from my 2nd leg.  Way overheated.

For posterity, my run data from my Garmin:
Run 1 (leg 4) - 7.22 miles, 1:16:10, 10:33/mi pace
Flat/slightly downhill, easy even though a bit long, sun just coming up, really awesome.

Run 2 (leg 16) - 4.50 miles, 58:03, 12:54/mi pace
Mostly flat, super hot, horrible horrible hydration and electrolyte planning, suckage.

Run 3 (leg 28) - 4.05 miles, 46:02, 11:22/mi pace
Better than leg 2 hands down, mostly unmemorable, beautiful scenery but it was pitch black.

Checking In

Wow, that was a long and unintentional hiatus from blog land.  A peek into what has contributed to the radio silence:
  • A full summer/fall race schedule, including Hood-to-Coast Relay, Augusta Half Ironman (including a trip back east), and Girlfriends Half Marathon.  Race reports coming soon.  Or just sometime in the future.  I shouldn't promise "soon".
  • After a short recovery period following Ironman Coeur d'Alene, training has ramped up for Ironman Arizona (only about 40 days away!) and is in the middle of the peak phase.  It's truly kicking my ass this go round, despite the slightly lower volume.
  • Work never really slowed down, as it is expected to do each summer.  So toss a handful of 60-70 hour work weeks into the mix.
  • We moved.  Because those 1-2 hours of spare time each week were just begging to be soaked up in some chaos.   And then of course I have to organize and redecorate.  You know, recover all 8 dining room chairs, a completely new guest bedroom and living room decor, kitchen appliances, etc.  Free time just doesn't stand a chance at all around here.
  • We went to the Oregon Coast for a weekend to celebrate our 2nd year anniversary.  Which sadly for my husband included a long bike ride and then leaving early so that I could get me long run in before the end of the weekend.
  • The "Big Boobie Challenge" is going strong, and I'm gathering some awesome data and reviews to share with the masses.  Hopefully we'll all have happier boobies as a result.
More to come...