31 August 2009

Random Running Ruminations

I'm sure most runners would agree - running clears one's head. It's a great way to escape, have some "me" time, and just let your mind wander. I have the most random train of thought while running. I love the days when you get so lost in thought that you suddenly find yourself five miles away from when you last mentally checked in. Today I had to put a bit of mental concentration into running because it was a tempo run and I needed to keep a certain pace. But I still had plenty of time to let my mind wander. So here's a rundown of some of the random thoughts that ran through my head...
- it's unseasonably cool - it feels like mid-October, not August
- what characteristics do I want my future house to possess (Mark and I are embarking on the great adventure of house hunting tomorrow - and I am EXCITED!)
- I wish there was a bathroom nearby
- I don't think my running form is very smooth - I feel like I have a very choppy run
- PhD program - sociology... or peace and conflict resolutions studies... or anthropology... and what would I do with such a degree...
- I'm going to be 28 in less than a week
- need to start "clean eating" (as I shovel Teddy Grahams down my throat while writing this)
- Cold Stone Creamery Birthday Cake Remix - best ice cream flavor. Ever.
- 70.3 World Championships - I'm thinking of making qualifying a goal of mine for next year
- I'm very lucky to be married to the best husband in the world. And I need to learn and grow to become the wife he truly deserves.

26 August 2009

So, why do YOU do triathlon?

I read an interesting article recently in Triathlete Magazine. The topic up for discussion was what motivated people to train for and race triathlons. Training, especially for the long stuff, can be time consuming. Any time that you're not at work or sleeping is often spent swimming, biking, or running. Trips to the bar with friends and sleeping in on weekends are usually non-occurrences during triathlon season. So - what would motivate people to devote so much of their time to the sport? Like the article said, there are the artificial reasons - look good in a bathing suit, gives you carte blanche to eat whatever you want in huge quantities (hooray!), and gives you a feeling of satisfaction, etc. The usual reasons any normal person would give when asked that question. But the article was convinced that there were deeper motivations underlying the aforementioned surface ones; and after reading the article and thinking about the question in relation to myself and my life, I tend to agree. These underlying motivations aren't usually something that's admitted, even to oneself - in fact, you may not even be aware of it. There's something bigger than just looking good and feeling satisfied that makes me train and race. I love the feeling of accomplishment, yes, but I think I love it so much because, it's one of the places I feel like I actually excel in my life. I don't feel inadequate, like I do in other things that I do. Growing up, I was never one of those kids that stood out, I was always average. And maybe I'm average when compared to other triathletes and their accomplishments - but I feel above average because I'm doing stuff that the vast majority of America can't/chooses not to do - swim, bike, and run for inordinately long periods of time over and over and over again. Here's a secret - it's really not that hard to swim, bike, and run - you just have to have something that motivates you!

24 August 2009

Feeling Good

This past weekend was a big boost in my confidence for Ironman Florida. I had more than enough hours for the week by Thursday so I took Friday off and did my 90 mile bike ride on Friday (I had the IronGirl triathlon on Sunday, my normal bike day). I stuck around on the bike trails in the DC area - I rode out to Mt Vernon and back, took the Capital Crescent Trail up to Bethesda and back, went up into Rock Creek Park and then zipped around Hain's Point 4 times before heading back into Arlington up the Custis Trail and onto the W&OD trail. The last few miles of the bike, I noticed that the storm clouds were gathering. Storms weren't supposed to start until three and it was only a little after 2 so I figured I could beat the rain and finish my ride. Unfortunately, at mile 88.5, Mother Nature proved me wrong and I got caught in a ridiculous rain storm. I was soaked within one minute of the rain starting - it was windy too! Made it home, squelched down the hall to the apartment, and in the time it took for me to change into my running clothes, it stopped raining and I zipped out for a 5 mile run. I was tired at the end of the day, but I felt great! I could've kept on running if I needed to. Mark and I ate gnocci for dinner with pesto - perfect!

Saturday morning I went running with Karen - I love running with her because we are so close in pace, we're both really competitive, and we push each other. And I love doing racing with her for those same reasons - you never know which one of us will cross the finish line first. And I'm motivated to try to catch her when she's in front of me and vice versa - and I'm so happy for her when she has a great race and finishes before me. I don't think I'd be as good a racer if I didn't have Karen to train and race with. And running with her makes the time fly. Before we knew it, my 20 mile run and her 14 mile run were finished. We did the hilly Military Road route, kept a great pace, drank copious amounts of water, and I looked like I had gone swimming by the time I finished running. After the run, I tried icing myself in our cooler (didn't work too well, my legs are too big), put on my compression socks, and ate lots of food. I had a PB&J sandwhich, then went up to my aunt Amy's house and had another lunch (yummy) and then went out to Columbia, MD to drop of my bike and pick up my packet for Sunday's IronGirl race. Had gnocci again for dinner (yummy!), scrounged around for newspaper to help dry out my running shoes (soaked with sweat) and biking shoes (still soaked with rainwater) because it's no fun to race in wet, smelly shoes. The only newspapers I found were my Wall Street Journal Commemorative Inauguration issues for Barack Obama's inauguration. And I fully support Obama and was thrilled he was elected, but I didn't want to race in wet shoes, so I pulled out the sections that didn't have Obama articles, and stuffed them in my shoes.

Race day was great! IronGirl 2007 was my first road triathlon so I was eager to see if I had improved these past two years. I rode up with Leighton and it was soooooo great to spend the day with her; we're both so busy that we don't see each other nearly enough. We got an awesome parking spot right by the park exit AND the bike transition (we got to watch the pro women fly by on the start of their bike legs), the race official let Leighton rack her bike that morning, and the weather was PERFECT! Leighton and I were in the second to last wave, the first women finished the race while I was treading water waiting for the start. My goal for the swim (1000m) was to keep as straight a line as possible and not swim off course. I literally hit every buoy as I swam, so I definitely met that goal. I had hoped to swim it in 20 minutes, but finished in 22 minutes (44th fastest in my age group), still two minutes faster than two years ago. I felt strong on the swim, so I guess that's what matters most. And I didn't drown, also a bonus.
The bike was pretty good - a hilly course and I passed a fair number of people, both in and not in my age group. Half of my age group started 8 minutes ahead of me so I didn't know if these girls were in my wave or in the wave in front of me. But it didn't matter, my race strategy was just to go hard for as long as possible. Hardly anyone passed me on the bike (yay! I think my biking is finally improving) and it took me 56:16 to do the 17.5 mile bike course (averaging 18.7 mph, 7th fastest in my age group). And the run seemed to come together too; I started off feeling strong, I didn't love the hills and there were times I just wished the finish line was just in front of me, but I wanted to catch as many girls in my age group as possible and I didn't want anyone to catch me. Nobody passed me and I felt like I kept a consistent pace over the 3.4 mile course. My time was 25:32 for the run, a pace of 7:31/mile and the 4th fastest in the age group. My overall time was 1:49:09, fifth place in my age group (out of 181 girls) and 39th overall (out of 1600+ girls). My time was over two minutes faster than the 2007 IronGirl and I didn't do a 90 mile bike ride, 5 mile run, and 20 mile run in the 48 hours preceding the 2007 race so I'm pretty happy with the results.

Highlight of the day, going on an impromptu movie date with Mark on Sunday afternoon (Harry Potter) and then getting some Birthday Cake Remix from ColdStone (best ice cream flavor!) Then early to bed because I was tired.

Recovery week was never so welcome!
Happy Training!

17 August 2009

Ironman Training Has Begun!

This past weekend was the first weekend since last year's ironman training that I just felt physically drained by the end of it. I did the Luray International Distance triathlon on Saturday morning - great race venue (bonus points that I had already run most of the roads back in January when we rented a house down there for New Years) and even more awesome was the fact that we could show up race morning, pick up our packets, set up our bikes, and just race. My swim was slow, like always, 33 minutes to do 1500 meters - I am terrible at sighting. Bike was good, 1h24min for a 25 mile ride, ate my power bar and hardly touched the brakes on the downhills. I'm also happy with my run, it was 46 minutes for 6.2 miles but I felt good during the whole thing and it was hilly and hot. The lowest point mentally on the run was coming back on the first loop up the hills (hills that didn't seem all the big and long on the way out on the first loop). Finished the race feeling good - 26th overall and 8th in my age group with a time of 2:48. I also realized this is the shortest triathlon (besides the sprint I did with Chelsea) that I've done all year - the other 4 have been half ironmans. It was great to be done in less than three hours as opposed to almost 6 hours. When we got home that afternoon I did a 14 mile run (note to self- don't eat ice cream before running, no matter how tempting...) since I wouldn't be able to do a long run on Sunday because I needed to bike. I felt good all the way until the last 2-3 miles and then I just wanted it to be over. I took my first ice bath of the season and wore compression tights and ate copious amounts of gnocci and passed out on the couch by 9 - awesome! Sunday was a 30 mile bike ride on the W&OD trail; I left the apartment at 7:30am and was home by 9:30 and felt very accomplished. Then I ran 8 miles this morning, fast mile/slow mile. Tomorrow I hope to wake up in time to go swimming - we'll see if that happens... Have to go to bed soon! But it feels good to be fully back into training! IMFL is going to be fun!