31 August 2012

Random Friday Facts

- I love roasted broccoli

- The New Englander used to dislike country music, but now I think it's pretty alright.

- Mighty Malt milk balls taste better than Whoppers but both make you feel gross after eating half a carton.

- At work there is an elevator and a set of stairs that go down one floor to the parking garage. When I take the stairs at the same time someone is getting in the elevator, I race them to the bottom. They don't know I'm racing them, but I still like it when I win

- I'm not a fan of licorice.

- Body surfing is just as fun as an adult as it was as a kid.

- I'm intimidated by the post office

- My dietary self-discipline has been on permanent hiatus since Lake Placid (see: half a carton of malted milk balls). I'm bothered enough by it to enact a chocolate/sweets embargo until after Vegas 70.3. The embargo will be lifted for birthday cake.

- Speaking of birthday cake, every year I have a carrot cake for my birthday. Surprisingly, not a chocolate one.

- Sometimes I get cranky that DC is 2+ hours from the ocean beaches. Inconvenient.


30 August 2012

To Ironman or Not to Ironman - That Is the Question

With Ironman being more than a month in the rearview mirror, I have been wholeheartedly been enjoying and embracing the shorter, faster stuff.  Not only is it fun to go hard and do some intervals that could be termed "lung busting", the workout is over before you know it.  90 minute long run on a Sunday instead of a 3 hour long run?  I will take it!  3 hour Saturday bike ride instead of a 6 hour slogfest that has me home way past lunchtime - yes please!  I did actually enjoy Ironman training while I was doing it - I was mentally prepared to be out there for a long time on the weekends.  But this shorter stuff, which leaves me with more free time on Saturdays and Sundays... I could get used to this.  It's also kind of fun to try to go as fast as I can rather than for as long as I can.  Sometimes, just when I think that Ironman has killed off any and all fast-twitch muscles, I have a run which seems to show me otherwise.

Today was an interval run (or a fartlek run, or whatever you want to call it).  A few minutes all-out followed by a few minutes easy.  Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat for about forty minutes.  The middle intervals - those were rough.  I had my watch set to beep the designated intervals so I wasn't tempted to constantly look at my watch (but I sort of did anyway).  I started out semi-conservatively so I didn't blow up.  The middle ones were the toughest because my legs were fatigued but I was barely halfway through the workout - more of a mental hurdle than anything else.  The last ones still had me huffing and puffing, with sweat and spit flying everywhere (nice visual, huh?), but I was determined not to let my paces slow and at the end - SUCCESS!  The run wore me out for sure.  I got home and had a recovery smoothie and then got ready for work.  By the time I stepped on the metro, I was all set for a nap - it felt like it was at least 8pm.

Recently I've been going back and forth on what I think about Ironman.  I love the training, there is no question on that.  But I hate that feeling I get during the run, usually around miles 10-15 where I find myself questioning why I do this.  It's been happening more often in my recent Ironmans (didn't happen much in the first couple), and this year I was even cussing myself out during some low points on the run for already being signed up for IM Lake Placid 2013.  And after I crossed the finish line, I told Mark - after 2013 I am DONE for awhile (disappointment, frustration, and pure tiredness probably colored my statement, so take it with a grain of salt).  I read Damon's recent blog post on long-course racing and one of the lines he wrote stuck out to me - "If the goal is to do your best at Ironman, as opposed to merely finish it, the optimal approach almost certainly is to spend at least a couple of years training very hard and competing at shorter distances first.  It's much easier to add endurance to speed than to add speed to endurance.  People who move quickly to competing in Ironmans often find that they don't get much faster in the course of training for those events."  I did my first Ironman in 2008, the first season I started to really race.  Over the past four years I've spent very little time focused on speed and lots of time focused on endurance.  I've done at least one Ironman every year and my whole training cycle has revolved around that race.  I don't want to say that I've stagnated because it's hard to compare courses to each other and their results, and I think that over time I've done better on the harder courses than I would've done had I raced on those at the very beginning.  I don't give up the way I have in the past.  And I still have unfinished business with Ironman because I feel like I've yet to have that race where I nailed everything, where I exceeded my expectations, where I feel like I conquered the race and not the other way around.  In that sense, I'm glad I'm signed up for Ironman 2013 and I'm so happy it is Lake Placid again because I want to give it another go to turn this disappointment frown upside-down.  After next year, maybe I will focus on shorter-course racing such as halfs and olys (think of how many more races I could do in a season!!).  I could focus on speed-stuff all season, not just when Ironman is over.

29 August 2012

Birthdays - bah humbug

My birthday is coming up.  Hrmphh.  I don't know when I stopped enjoying getting older.  I know, I know - I'm not even THAT old (and in 10 years I will look back, shake my head, and say honey, your early thirties are NOT OLD).  And I'm not going to be someone who is 29 forever (I remember being very puzzled by this concept at age 7 when my grandfather kept insisting that he was 29) or someone who lies about her age.  I'm actually very content with where I am, I think I'm happier and healthier than I was 10 years ago when I was in my early 20s.  In fact, I could say this past year was one of my favorites - it started off on the right foot last year when Mr. Sweetie and I celebrated my birthday/anniversary in Ireland and I grabbled a slot to 70.3 Worlds for 2012 and when I got home, my best friend came up for a surprise visit.  It continued to be a great year when I got to go to sub-Saharan Africa for the first time (and second and third time) for work.  I continued to enjoy my job.  We had a fantastic holiday season with family and friends.  I've gotten to watch my little cousins and my goddaughter grow and learn new things.  I set new PRs in races this season AND, even better,  met some awesome training partners who have become some of my favorite people to spend time with.  I've never had a life plan or a 5-year plan or anything like that.  And honestly, I don't think I could've planned anything better than what life had in store for me - I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be, family-wise, career-wise, hobby-wise, friend-wise.  I'm super lucky.

So - that recent aversion I have to birthdays.  It's not so much the getting older part (because, let's face it, it is better than the alternative).  I feel like I've suddenly become aware that the years are moving faster and faster and I feel like I'm going to blink and be 90.  It's not that I want to go back and relive my 20s, there is absolutely NO NEED for that.  But I do wish I could go back and whisper to my younger self: don't waste your time in a job you don't enjoy.  Don't drift aimlessly for too long.  Don't let life pass you by - and don't sit there and think you have forever waiting on you.  Find your motivation, find your passion, do what makes you happy, surround yourself with people you love.

I don't know other ways to explain it - I just feel like I'm running out of time.  I know I'm not, I should have lots of years ahead of me.  I just don't want to waste any moments because I am realizing there are a finite number of them.  And once they are gone, I can't get them back.

28 August 2012

No love for feet

There are some members of this household who have a genuine appreciation for feet.

Hoover thinks you should treat your feet right with some comfy shoes

Bissell showing his love for feet

And then there are others in the household who... don't share the love.

26 August 2012

Heart rate monitor straps don't work when worn on your head

This was a great weekend training-wise.  Jen has had a challenge trying to get me recovered from Ironman before doing a short build-and-taper for USAT Nationals (4 weeks later) and now another build-and-taper for 70.3 Worlds (which are 3 weeks after USAT Nationals).  Fortunately not much recovery time was really needed after an oly race, but it does shoot down a weekend for long riding and running.  I also went on a self-imposed swim hiatus for the first few days of this past week.  On Monday I biked to work and I literally made it all the way to my front door, dodging errant children and vehicles the whole 10 miles home, before I fell off my bike and got road rash.  In fact, I didn't even fall off my bike, I had already gotten off of it, took a step, and my cleat slipped on the wet pavement and I went down, scraping up my right elbow pretty nicely.  I'm squeamish about those things and I knew Mr. Sweetie was on his way home so I just waited for him to arrive and clean me up.  Lucky him.  In the meantime, I took the dog out for a walk and greeted our new neighbors (because nothing says welcome to the neighborhood than someone with a bloody elbow shaking your hand while trying to control her out-of-control dog with her other hand, all while wearing smelly bike clothes).

I didn't swim until Friday.  I could've gone on Thursday because things were mostly healed up at that point, but it was one of those mornings where I got up, put my swimsuit on, shook my head, and got back into bed.  Those days rarely happen, but when they do, it's best just to give in.

At swim practice on Friday, Katie Ledecky (800m freestyle Olympic Gold medalist) was at morning Masters (obviously swimming a million lanes above mine seeing as my she can do 200m to every one of my 100m).  She's half my age and twice my speed.  I wonder what it feels like to be going into Junior Year of high school with a gold medal.  My biggest accomplishment at that point was almost passing driver's ed (yes, I said almost - now don't you want to get in the car with me?).  Oh, and my lack of swimming over the past week.  I definitely paid for it on Friday.  It was painful, made even worse when we did stroke work as the very last set.  My butterfly was still in hibernation, too ugly to come out of its cocoon and show itself to the world.

But this weekend - everything was GOOD.  I had a long run that looked easy on paper but was more challenging when I was actually out doing it.  Hills and Zone 4.  BUT, it was less than 90 minutes long (goodbye Ironman training, see you forever in the future) and had I not spent a good THREE HOURS watching movie trailers on Netflix when I first woke up, I would've actually been done with my workout at a reasonable time (when a trailer is only 2:30 long, it's very easy to say oh hey, I'll just watch one more...).  But all the same, it was awfully nice to have three hours of laziness, do my run, and still be done by noon.  And I went biking with Katie on the local MacArthur route.  The morning did not have an auspicious start - when I was packing up my bag, my Bento box was nowhere to be found (still nowhere to be found).  And then after we jumped on our bikes and started riding, I realized I'd forgotten to put on my HR monitor strap.  I was afraid I'd left it outside the car because I was 100% positive I'd packed it in my bag before we left my house, but when we got back to the car it was NOWHERE to be found.  I finally figured that a disgruntled Georgetown neighbor (who was NOT happy we parked in front of his house) found my forgotten HR monitor strap on the ground by the car and just took it out of spite.  But when we finished the ride, the mystery was solved.  I took off my helmet and THERE IT WAS, right inside the helmet.  I even had a mark on my forehead from the plastic part of the strap.  Brilliant.  Anyway, about the ride - it was fantastic.  The weather gods were smiling at us - literally every big downhill was dry and it was as though the storm clouds parted like the Red Sea for us as we rode, as almost everywhere had gotten rain but it rained on us for about 30 seconds during the entire ride.  This ride was filled with intervals as well, but overall I felt pretty good on them.  Had planned to gauge my effort using HR, but because I was accidentally wearing the HR monitor strap on my head, I just went by feel instead.  Post-ride called for bagel sandwiches and cupcakes.  I actually bought the cupcake for Mr. Sweetie since he was playing in his first golf tournament since high school, but I had the not-so-secret hope that he would share with me (which he did).  And tonight we're having pasta with Mr. Sweetie's homemade tomato sauce for dinner.  It really doesn't get much better than this.

22 August 2012

Another sacrificial credit card offering to the M-Dot brand

Up until about 5 minutes ago, I wasn't registered for any more races past Vegas, which is happening in just over two weeks.  But it's time to start looking towards 2013 and my goals further down the line.  I have yet to actually compete in Vegas, but I love the half Iron distance, the M-Dot brand puts on a good race, and I'm really excited to compete in a race with some of the fastest triathletes around the world.  While hopefully my swim won't be quite as much of a liability as it was at last weekend's USAT Nationals, my most recent race has prepared me for the very real possibility of getting my butt handed to me on a silver platter.  I'm OK with it.  This is my first World Championship event and I'm excited to be going there.  A PR would be the icing on the already-delicious cake, and there is no way in he-eck I'm going to be going for a top 10-AG.  I know better.  There is so much else I still need to learn about racing, about staying mentally tough, to even think that I would be in a position to challenge some of the fastest girls out there.  Not to mention that I'd need to get a heckava lot faster.  Anyway, I've signed up for Poconos 70.3, scheduled for the end of September.  There are qualifying slots to Vegas 2013 up for grabs.  The course looks like it will be a nice one, with cooler weather and a bike course with some hills but nothing terrible and plenty of room to get down into the aerobars and just go.    I love the half-iron distance and I'm so excited to have added another one to my schedule!

21 August 2012

Race Report: Age Group Nationals - also known as "just hand me my ass now and get it over with"

This past weekend was Age Group Nationals - otherwise known as the only olympic distance race where you can go sub-2:30 and finish nowhere NEAR the top of your age group.  I had an idea what I was signing up for when I registered back in April, but it was still incredibly humbling.

I really, really wanted to qualify for this year's race because it was being held in Burlington, VT - site of the best four years of life, otherwise known as College.  As the spring and summer wore on and more and more of my friends signed up, I was even more thrilled to be going.  Four of us - Dawn, Jenny, Sebastian and myself - crammed into one hotel room at the Hilton, right near transition and within walking distance of EVERYTHING.  You would be surprised at how many bikes and suitcases and people you could fit into one room and still have room to do this:

The Hotel Swim Start.  Crucial to Proper Race Preparation

Hilton: We blame you for giving us the idea
The day before the race was busy - doing the pre-race brick, swimming in the super choppy water, fitting in lunch, doing packet pickup, getting the bikes all set to be dropped off at transition.  I managed to steal away for about an hour to meet with my college sociology professor, Dr. Bolduc.  It was because of his classes that I ended up down the career path I'm on today.  It was a highlight of my weekend to catch up with him.  After checking in bikes and showering (seeing as I'd been running around all day in my bathing suit and Zoot shorts, classy), a big group of us, including my parents, went out to an early dinner at Three Tomatoes on Church Street.  We got lucky and snuck in around 5:30 before the hoards of hungry triathletes descended.  A visit to Ben and Jerry's for good luck ice cream happened shortly thereafter.
Someone said the magic word
I'm not screwing around when I say I'm having three scoops dammit
You mean we can have frosting too?! Best Day Ever!

We went back to the hotel to practice our swim starts off the various pieces of furniture before finally settling down to watch Shark Week and go to sleep.  I slept surprisingly well until I was rudely awakened by the alarm going off the next morning.  I forced down two bagels (and resisted the Nutella - go me!), drank some Gatorade, and triple-checked that I had everything before we all headed down to the race site.  There were so many waves and even though the race started at 7:30am, I wasn't going to jump in to start my race until almost 9am.  I needed to make sure I properly timed my breakfast so I wouldn't be ravenous on the bike (this did not work out so well).

The Swim: 1500m 27:19
I'm starting to learn in short course racing that if you suck at the swim, you're pretty much screwed.  Sadly, a 27 swim is an illustration of suckage.  BUT, it can only go up from here AND this time is a pretty decent improvement over past Oly swims (except Columbia - the swim that day was magic).  Anyway, I jumped in the water a few minutes before my wave went off to warm up - the water was a perfect temperature and I'm always pleasantly surprised at how buoyant the wetsuit is and how easy it is to stay afloat in it.  I lined up towards the front but at the far right in an effort to avoid a rough, mean swim start.  This resulted in pretty clear water almost right away (hooray) and at first, as I was reaching the first turn buoy, it seemed like I was towards the front.  Then I started to pay attention to how many orange caps there were in front of me when I sighted and I realized I was sorely mistaken (boooo).  After the first turn buoy, I lost any and all feet and was on my own.  I stayed focused on my stroke and tried my best to sight at the top of the waves (like the day before, the wind had kicked up and it was choppy out there - fun conditions!).  When I hit the second turn buoy, I was going a bit more with the current, which was an advantage, but I was also heading straight into the sun, a disadvantage.  My goggles were fogging up a bit at that point too, adding a bit of mystery to whether or not I was staying on course.  I followed the caps in front of me and hoped for the best.  After the third turn buoy, when I was no longer sighting directly into the sun, it felt like I was picking up the pace a bit more and making progress, bridging the gaps between groups in front of me.  At the last turn buoy, I put my head down and swam as hard as I could.  There was nobody in front of me, I had passed a few people in the wave ahead of me, but I had no idea where I was in relation to the other 30-34 year old girls.  I came out of the water, looked at my watch and was a bit disappointed with my time as I was hoping for a 25:xx, got over it, and ran to transition.

T1: 2:27.  For the love of everything, I hate transitions and I hate wetsuits.  T1 was my worst nightmare as I got stuck in my wetsuit multiple times.  Looks like I REALLY need to work on this if I ever have a bat's chance in hell of being good at short course.  Fast transitions are free speed.  I still had no idea where I was in my age group, but it looked like a decent number of bikes were still racked around mine, giving me hope that I wasn't in the back.

The Bike - 25ish miles, 1:12:27
I came out of the transition area and immediately started working hard - after that swim, I had alot of work to do if I was going to have any hope of moving up in my age group.  And my coach Jen started seven minutes behind me and it was my goal to at least get to T2 before she caught me.  I started drinking water with NUUN right away - didn't want to get behind on hydration, even though it wasn't super hot out, I still had Lake Placid 2012 on my mind.  My legs felt a bit heavy and sluggish, and I wasn't constantly looking at my watch to see what my pace was, as all that really mattered was that I was working as hard as I could and going as fast as possible.  The bike course was really pretty, especially after it got out of downtown and went out to more rural areas.  It wasn't flat, but the hills weren't terrible or steep, it was just constantly rolling and changing.  At one of the out-and-backs, I saw Jenny go smoking by way ahead of me.  It was then that I realized, as I was at least a mile or so behind her, that I was probably pretty far from the front (damn you swim!!).  I was passing a number of girls in the 25-29 age group but hardly seeing anyone in mine.  It was about this point that I was losing focus.  I was hungrier than I expected (see, I didn't time my breakfast very well) and ended up eating three gels on the bike and hoped I wouldn't regret it on the run (I didn't).  My legs weren't feeling super snappy, but this was also less than 4 weeks out from Ironman Lake Placid and I'd only been back in training for two weeks.  Then there's also the fact that short course training is apparently very different from long-course and I'm so used to not killing myself on the bike and saving something for the run, I don't think I  was pushing the envelope as much as possible.  There is still so much I don't know how to do right at short course, but it is fun to learn!  Anyway, as I was making the left onto 189 to go back to downtown Burlington, I hear someone growl at me as they pass, Come on Caroline, let's pick it up.  Crap.  It is Jen.  She has caught me.  To make matters worse, I answer with a chipper, Oh hi Jen!  Nothing says "I'm not working nearly hard enough" if you can greet someone in the race with a smile in your voice and upbeat tone.  Sure enough, Jen knew I wasn't working hard enough.  I put my head down and kept her in my sights for the last few miles of the bike ride.  I'm not thrilled with my bike time, but I'm not super upset about it either.  I need to do a better job at staying extremely focused on the task at hand and not giving an inch, even when I think I am super far behind.  I also need to be less afraid about pushing it hard on the bike, short course is quick enough that the run will be over with and I can get through it, even if I trash my legs on the bike.  There is no such thing as over-riding the bike in oly distances.  This is completely different from Ironman.

T2: 1:51.  As Jenny said, We need to hold a special transition clinic just for you.  Yup.

The Run: 10k, 44:16.
I lost sight of Jen before I even left transition - not that I was planning to stay on her heels during the run because I would surely blow up trying to run 6:45s right out of the gate.  As I ran out of transition, I spied others who were already done with their races and might as well have had beers in their hands.  Truthfully, I was a bit jealous they were already done.  I had no idea what the run had in store for me - what legs would come out to play and what mindset?  Fun and games or death march?  If it was going to be death march, I just wanted a one-way ticket to the finish line and food tent, forget the run.  Fortunately, this turned out to be the best run I've ever had in an Oly race.  Anyway, I headed up the big hill that led to North Street - it was steep but not terribly long.  I didn't want to see any miles over 8min so I ran up that sucker like my life depended on it.  I knew the rest of the course was relatively flat, with just a few rollers and a net downhill on the back half so I didn't need to worry about using up too much energy too soon.  There were a few girls in my age group in front of me that I could see and I set my sights on trying to reel them in.  The first two miles were not the most comfortable.  I was running in the mid-7s and having a bit of a struggle finding a good stride and catching my breath.  Then, when I went by the mile 2 marker, it was like a light switched on.  My stride and breathing became easy and effortless.  I was passing more and more people.  I was beyond thrilled to be out running (it has been awhile since I felt like that during a race).  I knew I was nearing the halfway point and planned on picking up the pace a little bit each mile so I could negative-split the run.  I passed about 3 girls in my age group on the run - one of them was the girl that I'd had in my sights since T2.  Unfortunately, I was also passed by about three girls in my age group who looked like they were well on their way to a sub-40 minute 10k, so I didn't even attempt to stay with them, I just let them go.  As I got closer and closer to the finish, I picked up the pace, convinced that a girl in my age group was going to come screaming out of nowhere and pass me at the last minute.  I saw some of my friends and my parents as I ran towards the finisher chute and it was nice to hear their cheers.
Smiling.  Almost to the finish line.  Probably not working hard enough.  Or maybe just thinking of ice cream.
I finished, feeling spent.  I was thrilled with my run time, as I wanted to have at least a 45 and I don't think I've ever broken 45 for an Oly run.  I negative split the run, just like I wanted to, so I'm happy with my pacing.  But once the race was over and I'd had a few minutes to recover, I still had a fair amount of energy and that leads me to believe I didn't leave it all out there.

If triathlon involved jumping instead of swimming, I could be a contender
The day was a PR for me by about 3 minutes - I finished in 2:28:20.  I've never broken 2:30 before and I'm happy that I was able to PR on a day with so much competition.  Speaking of competition, I came in 30th in my Age Group out of 95.  Humbling, to say the least.  As I go back and think about the day, I know that there is still so much work to be done to be competitive at this distance.  Especially in terms of the swim and learning how to really go hard on the bike.  I'd love to qualify again for next year's race and give it a go again and try to be more competitive.  This was SUCH a fun weekend, surrounded by fast people, family and great friends.  I had the chance to hang out on the hotel balcony with my parents and also chat with Sarah and Jen for awhile Saturday night.  When I got home from Vermont, I realized that I had absolutely NO pictures of the race on my camera (the above were stolen from Facebook).  All of my pictures consisted of hotel swim starts, ice cream, and champagne.  Yes - champagne.  About four classes worth on Saturday night.  Downtown Burlington was just as fun as a 30 year old as it was as a 21 year old.

When hanging out with Jenny, champagne is a must.  Even in an Irish dive bar.
It's like being in Tucson again - but a little chillier and no snakes!
This was a great, great weekend.  A huge thanks to Dawn for keeping me company on the drive up and back from Burlington - and making sure I always had food at hand.  Poor Dawn, quote of the day on Sunday when she realized that I was on a mission to get home with a few stops as possible - Well, I guess I'll stop drinking water for now... It was great to race with and hang out with friends all weekend - Seb, Jenny, Dawn, Ryan, William, JR, Sarah - you guys made the weekend super fun!  Jen, thanks for being the carrot those last few miles of the bike.  And it was so nice to see my mom and dad too, we got to spend some quality time together exploring Church street and eating pasta!  I'm going to do my darn-est to qualify for Age Group Nationals again next year.

13 August 2012

Inspiration

According to Wiktionary - the internet's free dictionary - inspiration is defined as the act or power of exercising an elevating or stimulating influence upon the intellect or emotions.  The Olympics, for example, are inspiring because it's the setting where so many athletes see their life's hard work and sacrifice come to fruition - sometimes in the form of a medal, sometimes just simply being there to participate is the icing on the already-delicious cake.  Seeing things like that make you want to work harder, dig deeper, sacrifice that bowl of ice cream or extra hour of sleep to get that much closer to your goal.

Inspiration is watching someone progress from newbie to Ironman finisher.  Inspiration isn't found simply in the result - it's found throughout the journey, making the result that much more impressive.

One of my friends and fellow triathletes, Kendra, won a race this past weekend.  She won the age group race at Ironman New York City.  While it's impressive in its own right, watching her journey to this point, from missing out on a Kona slot through miscommunication, through mere minutes, through mere seconds, through three other attempts at a slot, to being the first age group girl to cross the line by almost thirty minutes - THAT is true inspiration.  Two years ago, she didn't know what Kona was.  Through hard work, amazing focus, and perseverance, she gets to experience Kona firsthand this year and it couldn't have happened to a better person.  Inspiration is seeing how dedicated she is to her family and how she does triathlon not simply for the joy that swimbikerun brings, but also to raise money for Multiple Myeloma, a cancer that her dad has been fighting for years.  And it seems that everything Kendra does, it is done with a genuine smile.

So Kendra - thank you for being an inspiration to all of us.  It's evident from looking at your wall on Facebook on August 11th, from hearing the awe in people's voices when they talk about your accomplishments, that you have inspired so many people.  No, most of us won't be out there winning Ironmans simply by watching you (though winning through osmosis would be pretty awesome) - but I know I speak for more than just myself when I say that the excitement over your achievements has spilled over into training - making it a little easier to get out of bed and go to the pool when it's still dark, to push it just a little harder on that bike interval, and try to drop a few more seconds off my run tempo pace.  Inspiration makes us all want to dream a little bigger, see if we can achieve what we previously thought was unattainable.  And sometimes this inspiration is just what we need to take our game to the next level.

10 August 2012

Random Friday Facts

- Whenever I wash my hair, the dialogue from Billy Madison goes through my head.  ... Conditioner is better, I make the hair silky and smooooooth... Stop looking at me swan!

- I hate football season.  With the fiery passion of 1,000 burning suns.

- I'm finding it hard to happily keep up with healthy habits I had going before Ironman now that the big race is over.  What is the harm in one more chocolate covered pretzel or a big hunk of brie cheese?  Notice I said happily - I'm doing relatively well with it, but I'm craving the bad stuff alot more than I was earlier in the summer.

- I love the Summer Olympics more than just about any other sporting event.  Watching the Olympics in person is on my bucket list.

- I'm really bad at sending stuff in the mail.

- I rarely talk on the phone anymore.  My 12 year old self would be shocked at this news.

- Sometimes I wish I had straight hair that always did what I wanted it to do.

- Shark Week starts this weekend - and after that we are canceling cable again (we only installed it for the TdF, Olympics, and might as well keep it for Shark Week).

- I've been eating meat again, on occasion.  This mostly happens if there is bacon around.

- But then I have conflicting feelings after I eat the meat - what was the animal fed during its lifetime, how was it raised, it's probably full of hormones.  I really don't know what I want right now.

- My dog blows bubbles into his water dish and then looks around for the source of the bubbles.  He iz smaht.

- I am almost to the halfway mark of reading 50 books in 2012.  Sadly, I am also well past the halfway mark of 2012.  Good thing the Olympics are over soon and cable is out the door shortly thereafter.

05 August 2012

Race Report - Summer Super Sprint (or: how I got beaten by a middle school girl)

Ironman was two weeks ago and the months leading up to Ironman were filled with loooong bike rides, loooong runs, and looooong swims (because Ironman is all about endurance, not speed - well, not for me anyway).  Ironman is all about LOTS of lists, preparation, yada, yada, yada.  And now that Ironman is done, I want short, fast, and as little preparation as possible.  Enter: the Summer Super Sprint.  I heard about it yesterday around noon - online registration closed at 3pm.  Race was this morning at 7:30am.  As little preparation and hassle as possible - CHECK.  The distances were 400yd swim, 8 mile bike ride, 2 mile run.  Short - CHECK.  Fast... well, when you are schooled by a 14 year old girl, you can't help but feel slow.  But it is useful to take solace in the fact that said 14-year old girl also beat the entire field, men included, by close to two minutes.

The race was small and local (we'll call Manasses local because it only took me 35 minutes to get out there at 5:30am) and I thought it was well organized and everyone was very nice and friendly.  I was able to nab a prime spot for my bike right near the bike-in/bike out area and it took a whopping 3 minutes to get myself set up in transition.  And when the nice volunteer who body marked me said, Well, you certainly don't look old enough to be 31, I could've hugged her - see, NICE volunteers, tell the racers what they want to hear.

The swim:
The swim was a 400yd snake swim in the pool at George Mason University's Manassas campus.  You were seeded by your race number and it was a time-trial start, with racers getting into the water about five seconds apart.  On the registration page they asked you to give an estimated time, rounded to the whole number.  I went with 6 minutes since I feel like Flanagan's morning Master's at Hain's Point have given my swimming a much-needed boost (see: cutting 10 minutes off my swim time at Ironman Lake Placid - and yes, I'm going to mention that victory every chance I get, thankyouverymuch).  This landed me with race number 15.  Ahead of me were fourteen kids, all of whom looked like they had belonged on the swim team since they were in the womb - aaaannd judging by their swim times, this was probably true.  I was a little concerned that I had seeded myself too high and my goal became: Don't get passed by a 10 year old.  Shortly after the start, it was my turn to slip into the water.  While I wasn't able to hang on the feet of the 10 year old in front of me, the only person that passed me was an overzealous 40 year old guy who probably went out too hard, seeing as he lost steam with about 100yds to go and I passed him back.  Even though it was only 400yds of swimming, it was all out, something that I completely stink at.

T1:
I was so proud of myself because it felt like I zipped right out of transition - then after the race I saw everyone else's transition times and I was at least 30 seconds slower, womp, womp.

The bike:
The bike course was two loops of a four mile course, all within University grounds.  This meant it was all a bunch of out-and-backs, giving me a chance to practice U-turns on the bike (something which, after almost biting it on the U-turns at Placid in 2011, I obviously need to work on).  I didn't fall off my bike and the turns were relatively painless, thanks to the really wide roads and the fact that I wasn't aggressive with them.  I think my fast-twitch muscles are on hiatus, judging by how sluggish my legs felt at times on the bike.  I was also huffing and puffing and sweating buckets - by the time I finished, I probably looked like I'd done a ride substantially longer than eight miles.  Proof that short and fast is NOT my forte, but it's fun to give it a try anyway.  The course wasn't very crowded when I first got out there, thanks to my swim seed, and the out-and-backs gave me a chance to see who was in front of me. There was one girl who seemed to be ahead of the entire pack, by a wide margin.  I tried catching up to the guys who were in front of me, but it seemed like our bike speeds were relatively similar because I wasn't really gaining or losing any ground to them.  The second loop was a bit more crowded, but everyone stayed to the right and it was never an issue.

T2:
Again, I felt like I was super fast, but definitely wasn't compared to everyone else.  womp, womp squared.

The run:
Only two miles!  I couldn't remember if it was a one loop or two loop course and as we headed further and further away from the finish area, I had my fingers crossed that it was just one giant loop (it was).  Since it was only two miles, there really weren't any excuses to take it easy - this was especially true when I looked behind me after less than a quarter mile and saw another girl hot on my heels.  At the first out-and-back, the middle school girl who was leading the race passed me going in the other direction, making it look like 6:15s were just a walk in the park.  I didn't wear my Garmin (see: NO HASSLE, a simple stopwatch will do), so throughout the race I really had no idea what my pace was OR what mile I was at.  After probably half a mile, I felt myself settle into the pace and while it didn't feel comfortable, it felt sustainable.  I noticed that the girl behind me was falling a little further back, so that was a small boost in confidence - though I did the entire run portion scared that she would catch me.  This isn't really a bad thing because it forced me to pick up the pace and not ease up and get too comfortable, though at the time I was cursing the fact slowing down wasn't an option.  It may have only been for two miles, but short and hard hurts.  I was pretty happy to see that finish line come in sight.

I ended up getting second female overall and fourth overall out of men and women combined.  I was sandwiched in between the 14 year old girl who won and the 16 year old who finished right after me.  Thank goodness for that nice volunteer who bodymarked me and said I didn't look my age, as I felt kind of like a grandma between these two in our awards picture.  Sigh.  But age issues aside, I would keep an eye out for an up-and-coming triathlete named Elizabeth Edwards, she was strong and fast in all three disciplines and she made fast and easy work of beating the top guys by almost two minutes (a huge margin when the distances are so short).  It was such a fun race, and over nice and early so I still had time to eat breakfast with my high school friends Megan and Rachel and their husbands - three of them are in training for a fall marathon and between the five of us, we demolished an entire loaf of bread for French toast and slabs of bacon and lots of fruit.  Then it was a surprise party for my neighbor Georgia (happy birthday Georgia!!).  All of this before noontime - I've never been so productive on a Sunday morning! 

01 August 2012

Wait - I have a race in a few weeks?

So this week I've gotten back to the regularly scheduled workouts - I've been to the pool twice, I've gotten on my bike, done strength training, and running will come later this week.  BUT I'm still eating like I'm on training hiatus. Ummmm, I think I ate more frosting-from-a-can today than fruits or vegetables.  I'm giving myself until this weekend to be lax with my eating habits, then it's time to get back to business, pay attention to eating enough vegetables and fruit, and throw out the can of frosting. Seriously.

Last year after IMLP, I remember losing focus on the rest of the season, even though I had three more half Ironmans in the later summer/early fall.  I ate oreo cake for days.  I think I took about a two week hiatus from serious training.  I don't think I ever really got my head 100% back in the game.  I'm trying not to let that happen to me this year.  In the next 5-6 weeks I have Age Group Nationals up in Burlington and then 70.3 Worlds out in Vegas.  I think I'm excited to get back into it.  I think I'm ready to get back to focusing on racing.  And this is shorter stuff, which is sometimes more fun than going long.  I don't have anything on the schedule for after Vegas, but I have my eye on two more half Ironmans and maybe one more olympic distance race.