06 December 2008

A little vacation from blogging

I've been having issues trying to log into blogger and been too lazy over the past FOUR months to try to fix it. Until tonight. Even though I should be going to bed because it is late, I decided I wanted to fix the thing because I had alot of good races and training that I wanted to talk about! AND I'm going to be done with the school semester in just a few days so I'll actually have TIME to post! But I will say this - the second half of my season (basically post-Mooseman and Colonial beach (where I had the slowest swim time in my age group, boo)) went really well, so much better than expected. I raced the Savageman 1/2 in September and the Army 10 Miler in October and did the full iron distance Beach2Battleship in November. Will write race reports soon, they are long overdue.

04 August 2008

CONFIRMED - I'm faster than I was in high school! Hooray!

Soooo, I completely missed the month of July. I really thought I would stay on top of this whole blogging thing, but I'm blaming my slackerness on school (I blame everything on school). So I did the Culpeper Sprint triathlon this past Sunday. It's a relatively small race, no frills, no fanfare, no coddling - you can pick up your packet the morning of, no need to rack your bike the night before, and the swim waves are sent off close together so you're not sitting around forever waiting to start. Basically, it's all about the race and having a good time.

The location of the race was beautiful (definitely one of the prettiest and most scenic races I've done) and the weather was perfect. I even got to the race site a little early (for me, anyway) and had plenty of time to set up my bike and transition stuff. I had bought a new swimsuit the day before (you aren't supposed to try anything new on raceday, but I always find something new to use) and decided to wear it to race in (I don't like tri suits very much - they are sometimes uncomfortable and seem to accentuate the thickness of my thighs and rear end - so I guess I'm equally concerned with how I feel when I race AND how I look - I'm tired of bad race photos!) Anyway, about the swimsuit - it's a bright pink Splish suit, with blue straps, and on the front is a picture of a little fish about to get eaten by a big shark. I wore it in honor of Shark Week.

The swim - 750 meters: 17:06
I'm not a fast swimmer. This race confirmed that. But I felt good, didn't have to stop and didn't switch to any other strokes. This, in my mind, shows a vast improvement over triathlons in years past. So even though I'm slow, at least I don't have to stop and I'm satisfied with that. The lake was really murky and weedy so I wasn't a fan of that. I was spoiled by Mooseman's swim in the cleanest lake ever!

The bike - 16 miles (according to my Garmin it was almost 17 miles): 55:29
And not exactly the fastest biker, but not terrible. It was a rolling hill type course, I passed a few people on the bike (my proudest moment was getting into my granny gear going up a hill and passing about 7 guys on their tri bikes - of course they passed me back on the descent, but it was fun while it lasted). I felt good overall and averaged about 18-something so I'm pleased with that.

The run - 3.1 miles: 21:21 (and THIS confirms I am faster than I EVER was in high school!!)
I am so proud of myself for this run - it was really fast for me. In high school my fastest ever 5K time was 21:39 - the only time I ever broke 22 in a xc race. And until this year, I hadn't broken 22 since. But on Sunday, after swimming and biking, I somehow pulled out a 21:21 on a moderately hilly course. I felt great the whole run, even picked up speed as the race went on. I passed a bunch of people and didn't crash and burn at the end. I guess the intervals and tempo runs are training off - I can run harder, faster for longer. And it was the 3rd fastest run time OUT OF THE ENTIRE WOMEN'S FIELD. I NEVER have been able to say that! So my run totally makes up for the mediocre swim and bike ride.

Final time: 1:37:38 - 25th overall out of 183, 2nd in my age group out of 30.
I didn't think I placed in my age group and had stuff to do back at home, so I hustled out after the race and didn't stay for the awards. Too bad for me - they were giving out big beer stein mugs! Perhaps they will mail it?
I also will now wear socks on the run. My feet were all bloody when I finished running - some of the blood even stained through (I am slightly proud of that :) On the upside - my transitions no longer look like I sat down and took a nap between events - T1 was 2:10 and T2 was 1:34 - much faster than the Columbia Tri!

I will be a better blogger. This is my last week of quantitative analysis and I'll have three weeks of freedom before school starts up again! I'm so excited I can hardly wait. All that is standing between me and freedom is a darn paper! Off to bed so I will wake up for swimming in the AM!

09 June 2008

Mooseman 1/2 Ironman Weekend - race report included

Race weekend was finally here. I carpooled up to NH with some friends on Friday morning - we left about 4 hours later than initially planned (my fault), made alot of bathroom stops along the way (we were all obssessed with getting ourselves properly hydrated for the long day on Sunday), stopped at my parent's place for dinner, and finally made it up to Bristol, NH twelve hours after we started the drive - 11pm on Friday night. The cabin we stayed in was right on the lake, it was great, as were the people we were staying with. We slept in a bit on Saturday morning, had a leisurely breakfast as we waited for it to warm up outside, and around 9am we put on our wetsuits because we were all going to swim out to the little island and back. It was sooo cold at first, and I really didn't enjoy the swim out to the island. But the swim back was really great - the water was so clean and clear, it was chilly but I was used to it at that point so it was actually enjoyable, and it was really easy to get into a rhythm. I decided that I would definitely need to get in the water on Sunday before the race and swim, just so I would be more comfortable at the start. Then we all jumped on our bikes for a 30 minute ride - we ended up over at the race site during the oly distance race so we biked up and down the run course, cheering people on. We saw lots of Team Zers, it was so much fun. Then it was back to the house for a 15 minute run. It was such a hot day so we cooled off in the lake afterwards. I don't really know where the rest of the day went - we cleaned up, went to packet pickup, thought about all the stuff we needed to do that night to be prepared for race morning (clean up the bikes, rack them, get hydration and nutrition stuff all set). I really came to realize that triathlon is perfect for Type A personalities and just a hassle for the rest of us - I am completely not Type A. That's what I love about running races - you eat pasta the night before, roll out of bed and grab a bagel the next morning, grab your running shoes and race number and get yourself down to the start line. With triathlon there is so much other crap to think about - your water bottles, filling up your bento boxes, do you have all of the clif bars you want, what flavors, how many packets of jelly-beans to bring, did you remember a towel for transition, is your bike not falling apart, is it clean, is it greased, where the heck will you put your spare tube, buying the wrong CO2 cartridges, how much Perpetuem to put in the multi-hour bottle, getting to the race site hours before race start so you can set all of your crap up and eat a few more times. I think there's a good business opportunity to create a company that sends people to get a non-Type A triathlete all prepared for race day - they take care of your bike, nutrition, etc. All the non-Type A triathlete would have to do is simply show up. I need one of those people.

But, I digress. Because of my frenzy of bike cleaning and last minute preparations, I didn't get to bed until 10:30ish and about 20 minutes later I realized that my air mattress must've sprung a leak because I was suddenly laying on the hardwood floor. I ended up (literally) curling up on the loveseat in the living room, legs hanging over the end of the armrest, and just slept there the whole night. Strangely enough, I wasn't nervous about the race. Race morning came around and I still wasn't nervous. I ate oatmeal and a bagel, drank some water, got ready to go pretty quickly, and still wasn't very nervous. We made it to the race area, bikes in tow, got a prime parking spot, got body marked, racked the bikes, and went to hang out at the Team Z tent until race start. It was really great having everyone around, hanging out with everyone released alot of tension and helped us all forget that we were basically going to be beating ourselves up nonstop for the next six hours. Six hours is a long, long time. Anyways, we got suited up in the wetsuits, went down to the water for some practice swims, and then headed to the start line.

The swim was perfect - perfect water temperature, it was totally clear water so you could see all around you - the swim ended up being my favorite part of the race. Because I could see where everyone was around me, it made it very easy to avoid getting kicked in the face. The race was off to a good start.
Swim Split: 38:40 (such an improvement over swims in past years!)

The bike was pretty good too. It was a slightly rocky start because my bike cleats got full of dirt/mud when I was running through transition with them on so I had a hard time clipping into my bike at first. But once I got them cleaned out I clipped in just fine. The bike course was really pretty - around the lake and into some small New England towns. The fifty-six miles went by quickly, I felt pretty good during this part of the race, my legs weren't tired and I wasn't feeling like I was going to die. The only bad part was because it was so hot and humid out (95 degrees and something like 80% humidity, I was paranoid about dehydration so I drank a ridiculous amount of water. And promptly had to pee as soon as I passed the bathrooms. I was hoping the urge would go away, but it didn't and I made a pitstop. And went a little easier on the water guzzling.
Bike time: 3:24:15 / 16.5 mph average

The run was pure hell. I'm a runner so I always look forward to that part of the race because I figure if I go conservative on the bike, I can catch people on the run. That did not happen in NH. As soon as I started running, I felt off and the heat and humidity hit me and I spent the rest of the race wondering how the heck I was going to get through the 13.1 miles, telling myself I was never going to do a race like this again, and even considering getting a refund on the full iron-distance event I had signed up for later in the year. I'm really hoping it was just the effects of the heat and humidity, and not every race will feel that bad. I did a pretty fair amount of walking during the race. I really didn't want to run. In fact, I just wanted to jump in the lake and say forget it to finishing. I was hating pretty much everyone and everything by the time the race was done. I've never felt so negative about a race in my entire life. I really think it was the heat and humidity - I just felt bad all over, cramps, my stomach was staging a revolt, it was misery. BUT, I finished, managed to force down a hot dog later that afternoon at the Team Z tent, and was feeling good by the end of the day and no longer hated life or triathlon.
Run: 2:08:34 / 9:49/mile pace

Overall time: 6:16:02 - 16/34 in my age group

The race weekend was really great overall, minus the crummy run and finish to the triathlon. All of us went back to the house and zonked out like zombies in front of The Princess Bride for a few hours that afternoon before heading out to a late dinner. Then Mel, Brian and I left for Southern NH so they could catch early flights out the next morning. I am already looking forward to the next big Team Z half-iron race!

02 June 2008

The Cat Likes Carbs!

So last night my husband went to the grocery store and found... taadaa- Kings Hawaiian Bread!!! Allie, Jackie, Stephanie - I know that you are all green with envy right now :) We ate a gazillion loaves of this bread last year when we were in Hawaii on vacation. So anyways, my husband brings the bread home and sets it on top of the microwave. Fortunately I was there to alert him to the fact that it was not the safest place for the bread. You see, our cat Bissell is a FREAK for carbs. He stole my lunch sandwiches all of the time in the mornings until I got smart and put them in the refrigerator until I was ready to leave for work. I've caught him dragging a loaf of challah bread around the apartment. So I just had a feeling that if the Hawaiian bread was left unattended on the counter, we would wake up to an empty tin full of crumbs the next morning. Actually, I take that back, there would be no crumbs; the tin would be licked clean (there is a reason why our cat is named after a vacuum cleaner). Long story short, we put the tin of bread on top of the fridge instead - the cats have yet to figure out a way to get up there.
So this afternoon, we broke open the bread for a snack after work. Bissell didn't disappoint, he did his best to steal a slice:

















And then he gave me his best "mad face" when I took the bread out of his reach:

01 June 2008

So HUNGRY!

Today hubby and I slept in and missed the group bike ride out near the Chesapeake (at least I think that's where it was, it was somewhere in Maryland and that state is practically surrounded by the Chesapeake so odds are I am right). I decided that today I was going to do a bike/run brick. We only had a 30 mile ride to do so we did it on the W&OD bike trail going out towards Leesburg (we didn't actually go out to Leesburg, just in that general direction). I felt pretty good, drank almost my whole bottle of Perpetum and plenty of water and 1/2 a Clif bar. The weather was gorgeous, I didn't get run off the trail by errant children on bikes or catapulted off by a leashed dog hogging the trail so overall the ride was a success. We got back, I dropped my bike off, grabbed my running shoes and did a 4 mile run. Again, felt good. I ran some errands this afternoon and then went to the Sunday night swim (which has been moved to an earlier time 5-6pm, yay!). I got partway into the first set and suddenly just started thinking about food and how incredibly hungry I was. I seriously thought about dropping out of the swim and going in search of a Clif bar instead. When I got home from the swim, in the span of about five minutes I ate some strawberries, carrots and hummus, walnuts, raisins, and finished off the carton of Rocky Road ice cream. And then ate a full (and yummy) dinner of chicken, salad and rice about 20 minutes later. And I am still hungry. I plugged in my Garmin to see how many calories I've apparently burned today - On the bike I burned 1415 calories in two hours, on the run it was 427 and then I'm not sure exactly for the swim but it was probably in the 400-500 range - so that's over 2000 calories total from exercise. No wonder I am so hungry. Where is the cheesecake?

31 May 2008

Running in the summertime

Today was the first day since last year that I've done a long run on a pretty hot day. I'd forgotten all of the fun things that come along with running when it's hot and humid:
- you've got enough salt on you to resupply the Atlantic Ocean
- you're chafed in places you didn't even know existed
- you've got bugs stuck all over you (kind of like a car windshield)
- it looks like you've been swimming, not running
- and your running clothes weigh almost as much as you do by the time you're done
Oh how I've missed summer running!

But overall, today's run was really good. I did a little more than 17 miles, definitely straying waaayy out of my zone 2, staying mostly in zone 3. I wanted to finish before it got dark out. I got a later start than I had planned because I got caught up doing homework - started running at 10:45 rather than 7:30 :) The whole time I was running, there were these really ominous clouds off in the distance that kept creeping closer and closer. The undersides of the leaves were showing too when the wind kicked up (I feel like they do that whenever a storm is coming, or maybe that's the only time I pay attention to it). It started to thunder just a bit when I looped by home at mile 14 and I considered going inside but decided to stay out and do another loop close to home so I could jump inside if it really started to thunder and lightening. I managed to get 17 miles in before I called it quits. Good timing too, not too long after it started pouring buckets.
I'm a little sore, definitely tired, but feeling pretty good (and hungry!) This was probably the longest run I'd done since Boston and it felt great! I have the Mooseman 1/2 Ironman up in New Hampshire next weekend. I feel ready for it, just have a few last minute things to pick up - waterbottle holders for the back of my bikeseat, a *much* larger bento box for all of the food I plan on eating (I saw Karen's bento box a few weeks ago and currently have a bad case of bento box envy - you could fit lunch AND dinner in the thing!) and maybe a neoprene cap for the swim, it's supposed to be chilly and I don't want an ice cream headache - bad way to start off a race!

29 May 2008

That's why you swim first, not last!

People have asked me why we do the swim part of the triathlon first, not second or third. Tonight I figured out exactly why... because it if was last, we would all die. Those people in the kayaks would be fishing triathletes out of the water right and left. I went to the evening swim today rather than the morning swim (thanks very much to 2am paper writing). The swim was after speedwork on the bike and my feet and legs cramped up so many times during the swim it wasn't even funny. And this is why the swim is first, not last, in a triathlon - so your legs aren't tired and prone to cramps :) Any suggestions for fixing the cramping in the legs problem? Am I not eating enough bananas?