Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
We drove up to Wisconsin, attended the expo, got me bodymarked (my first bodymarking!) got my event shirt,
Much different from the day before. There were big floating pallets on either side of the alley that the swimmers were (supposed) to swim. There were also kayaks. So, if you got tired, you could just swim over to one of the pallets or to the kayaks and hold on for a minute, and then go on. But there were A LOT of ladies in that lake.
When it was time to go down to the shore, all of us chatty ladies shuffled down to the start. And that's when we got our last pep talk before we started. (See photo of us during said pep talk)
Note, too, the "noodles" that they have on the beach there. Those are for the "swim angels" -- ladies that swim along with you with a noodle that you can hold and rest if you want. It's a very sweet idea that makes the race accessible and less stressful for new swimmers. Great concept, very female friendly. If you wanted an angel, you could ask -- or they would find you if you were crying, or hyperventilating... ;)
Then they counted us down, and off we went. I started out pretty strong, and then, suddenly, I panicked. About 50 feet into the thing, I lost it a little. So I flipped over to rest on my back, and all I could see was what seemed like hundreds of yellow caps coming at me. Whaaaaa! I took a few deep breaths, flipped back over, and started swimming for broke. I couldn't see well - the sun was coming up on the same side that I like to breath, and I didn't have mirrored goggles at the time. So, I just went like crazy -- and I totally zig-zagged. (If you go too far off course, they come and get you... so it wasn't that bad, really...) But once I had hit my groove, I really hit my groove, and I felt good and relaxed. I noticed that I was passing folks in other colored swim-caps, and I thought that was good... there was a bit of a bottleneck at the end, but I fared well, even though the sand at the end was deep, and your feet sunk pretty far down after so many other waves had loosened up the ground:
I had finished the swim in 15:13. NOT BAD! I had hardly any problems ripping off my wetsuit, but it was a bit of a mess getting from A to B in that transition. I'm happy with my transition time of 3:04.
On to the bike! I started out feeling pretty good -- getting up those hills wasn't so bad, and I wanted to get done as fast as I could... I knew there would be a wind coming and it would get stronger as the day went on, so I wanted to get going. I blazed down that nice long downhill, and hit 25mph at one point, which got me a little scared. :) It seemed like another woman and I were just trading places -- so we started chatting, and encouraging one another. I was passing ladies left and right, and trying to keep up with my new friend. Once we hit the part of the course that was pretty bad road and some gravel, the wind hit straight on, and everyone got quiet. The wind was probably around 15mph, and when a gust hit, everyone slowed considerably. But the most amazing thing about this race was the support from other competitors -- lots of "you go, chica," and "looking really strong" -- both from folks you passed and from those passing. Finally, I was coming around to the last two inclines back into transition, and let me tell you how hard those were -- the wind coming straight on, and going up those inclines with no real training on hills... Everyone was having a hard time, and I was no exception. I just ground it out...
I was happy to get into transition -- my heart rate was through the roof, so even though I knew I could just run off, I dawdled a little to get it down.
The great news? I averaged 18.3 for the bike! Nice-- total time, 42:31. Transition: 2:03. Also not bad, considering.
Next, the run. This, I figured, was my "easy" event. Ummm... I hadn't ever run that hard after cycling that hard (I'd done a few bricks, but nothing like that...). So, a few minutes after starting, I had to pull over to the side to get my breath again... I was unbelievably thirsty (because I can't drink on the bike well, and hadn't taken my water bottle from transition) and then I got a side-stitch around mile 2.5, and had to walk for a bit. In any event, it's a good run course -- just all the way around the little lake, with a bit extra, and then you come in by the recplex. There's not much shade, and I was annoyed that there was only one water stop, but that's plenty for someone who hydrates well on the bike. Also, there's lots of room for spectators to cheer you on, and it's darn accessible to them.
Back to the run: after my crudilicious performance on the running path, and what I could tell was NOT going to be a PR on the run, I figured I'd miss my goal by a lot. I also couldn't really go any faster than I was going -- my side-stitch was pretty bad, and, well... the hard efforts were catching up. So I was really happy to see the finish line, and to see My Sugar at the finish line, and to get some water at the finish line.
Then, I checked my watch: I had run the run in 28:43.
Final results: Overall rank: 417/3655, 63/370 (age group); Swim 599/3655; Bike 543/3655; Run 756/3655.
I then started adding things up, and realized that I had missed by goal by only 1:36. That's right! (And that's using the official time) I had finished my first sprint tri in 1:31:36. I was very happy. Very happy! (Followed, of course, by kicking myself for not running faster... blah blah blah)
SJV and I hung around for a while, enjoying the day -- it was gorgeous, and then we had to figure out logistics for how to get home. That's really the only down-side to this race. We had to get on a bus, to go get the car, to get the car as close as possible to the race, so that I could ride my bike to the car... Doing all of that took longer than the race itself! Still, it was very well organized -- with that much of a logistical challenge, it would have been far worse if it wasn't well organized.
Sheesh, I'm long winded. :) So there's my first post-hoc race report about Danskin Chicago. I highly recommend it for first-timers, and for other ladies that want an easy-going race. Very supportive, very fun. But it's probably not a place to get a PR -- there are a lot of ladies that don't really understand the rules yet, so sometimes you just can't go that fast. Still, I did pretty well with my time, and I liked the course.
Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend everyone!
Friday, September 26, 2008
Crazy. *head shake, sigh*
It really is -- seeing photos of kids, pets, husbands and wives -- trips and achievements and accomplishments that in some cases don't surprise me -- and definately do in others. And they've been generally surprised about my triathlons (I think) and general path in life (which, as I said in my initial post and which I'll describe at some point, has changed significantly in the last six months...) In any event, it's taken a lot of my time this week -- which, with marathon taper, isn't such a bad thing. (Not that I ever really ran all of the weekly runs that I was supposed to -- but now that I'm not swimming and cycling as much, I have a little more guilt -- and fear -- about that...). I have slightly more time on my hands, but I've certainly filled it. (When don't I?)
So, marathon taper -- let me just tell you how nice that is. Just to know that there's only one more (massively) long run - the 26.2 miler, and that then my Season Has Ended. And, of course, I've already started mapping out next year's tri season, and my winter training schedule... A girl has to be prepared, you know...
I'm signing off to get back on Facebook, to try to respond to messages and such... Hope you all have a most fantastic day!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Not to get all nostalgic about a nail... but you can see how it could be a little distressing to realize that the fact that your toenail is actually attached to your toe is no longer a foregone conclusion.
And thus, is the 20 mile run report redux. So, it seems, you can feel the effects of a major run like that days (days!) after you've finished the running. Well, I suppose I didn't really heed the advice of wiser-and-more-sinewy-runners than I, who said to nix the hiking trip on Sunday. (But seriously, could anyone NOT go hiking for a birthday party? I mean, really!) See? How FUN!
Connie (birthday girl!) and I getting ready to head off to Starved Rock
Connie giving a bear a bear-hug...
We went over the river...
And through the woods...
In any event, I'm on the mend, although I most surely will be skipping some of the weekly runs this week. So, here's to Connie's wonderful birthday hiking extravaganza, and to the hope that my toenail will hang on for one last and final long run...
Be well, train smart, and ensure that you have sufficient room in your toe-box.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
You must run in your feet, not on them. -- Dr. Lee (acupuncturist, sports massage therapist, and general jack of all trades).
(Photo of Carrie saying howdy as she waited to get going on her leg of the Madison-Chicago 200 mile relay, which I have not reported on just yet -- but will someday. Yes, we had a team that ran 200 miles. Yes, it went all night. Yes, it was a little insane...)
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
I've been focusing more on swimming (and biking) since I started feeling the tweak, but now that I'm suddenly very one-dimensional, I have a craving to run more. Plus, during the run at Triamerica, I ran consistent 9:00/9:30s without feeling a single twinge -- so I feel like I'm on the mend. And this week in marathon training I'm doing 10-12 miler for a long run (next week is the Mother Of All Long Runs -- the 20 miler) so I felt like I could be a little less ... cautious. Couple all of that with a really strong desire to work off part of a chocolate bar that I ate after lunch, and I decided to go running last night after I got home.
And what a great run it was... I strapped on the i-pod, listened to some really, really relaxing tunes, and started my 1/2 mile walk to where I start running on the lakefront path. And once I started running, I felt myself get into a nice, very very slow, groove. The lake was gorgeous - slate blue, almost matching the sky, and it was nice and overcast - about 73 degrees. Perfect running weather. Gulls were hanging out everywhere, and there were fewer people to dodge, and it was just generally perfect. Every once in a while, I'd try to pick up the speed -- and that attempt would be answered with a Zwing from my ITB. So that answered that -- no fast running for a while. And by "fast" -- I mean anything under 11:00. Yes. 11:00. So I pondered this as I was running along (running, mind you - not jogging. Jogging implies lack of effort.) and I realized that two years ago, when I started running and being more active, that I would have KILLED for an 11:00 mile. In fact, I would have killed for the ability to run four miles at once (which is what I did last night very easily, once I decided to let my body, rather than my brain and my ridiculous expectations of what I "should" be able to do control my pace). So my run last night turned into a wonderful reverie... looking back at relationships, jobs, friends that have and have not withstood my personal running boom. Looking back at how different my life was only one year ago -- and how my running changed every aspect of my life.
I think of these things often -- in fact, I tell my story to pretty much anyone who will listen (it's a long story, and I'm thinking it may require multiple installments for purposes of this page). But it's different when I go through it in my head. Little snapshots of moments float by me. Remnants of emotions that I felt at the time surface. The longing for a new friend. The annoyance that she wanted me to run with her. The fear that I couldn't excel in something. The disappointment when she didn't show up for our morning run (multiple, multiple times). The wonder at the beauty of the lakefront. The embarassment of how slow I was, and then the slowly emerging pride as I got faster and more comfortable. And the wonderful acceptance of myself, finally, even though I wasn't the fastest. And the pride at my first races... it goes on and on.
Funny that an injury made me go slowly, and that going slowly gave me the time to remember what life was like two years ago, when going that speed without hacking up a lung was a still a dream. I guess being injured isn't all that bad, as long as you keep it in perspective...
Be well, and train smart...
Monday, September 8, 2008
Not bad -- not bad at all.
And, actually, not all that good (race report to follow)...
So here is my very first Official Race Report, my first Report of the Season, about my Third Triathlon Ever In The History Of Belly, and my First Official Race-Place.
The race weekend portion of our weekend started with a trip to Michigan City, to stay at a little B&B called Tryon Farm. Adorable! We were welcomed with chocolate chip cookies (mmmm!) and iced tea. It was our first experience at a B&B together, and even though we weren't going to be able to enjoy the second "b" in the B&B the next morning, it was a lot of fun to stay somewhere that was so ... homey feeling. So we sat on the porch swing and snuggled. Awwww. :) The proprietor also gave us a bag breakfast for the next morning -- including yogurt, blueberries, orange juice and a little granola bar. Much appreciated, even if we are both lactose intolerant...
So we went out to dinner and I had my pre-race beer, and then we were off to get some shut eye. Bed was comfy, good weather for sleeping, and there were lots of country sounds for these cityfolk to comment on. And then....
BrrRRRRRRWWWWWOOOOOOOO! BrRRWOOO! BrRRWOOO! BrRRWOOOOOOOOOOO!
A train. At, oh, say, 3:00 a.m. And then again around 4:00 a.m.
Still -- got generally great sleep, and woke up on time to brush the sleep out of our eyes and get started for the day. And what a day... I was a ball of nerves when we walked out -- I had awoken during one of the aforementioned train whistles to hear rain -- Sweet Johnny said that he had heard it on and off all night -- so now I was worried that the weather was going to tank. *sigh*
But we get down there, and I set up my stuff in transition, get bodymarked, and head down to the beach, where the swim is going to start. Now, let me explain -- this was a TINY race. Teeny weeny. Less than 200 people signed up TOTAL (for the long and the short course). Wee little race.
I looked out at the lake, and rather than being the picture of serenity that it was the day before, there were some ... um ... waves. And they seemed pretty big... I contemplated (see photo of said contemplation).
So, after looking out there, and seeing that they were taking their sweet time getting the swim underway, I started to wonder whether they were going to cancel the swim. Seemed like they were getting ready to call it... But, quite a bit late, they went ahead and told the first group to get ready to go. There would be three waves -- the first of ALL the long course folks, and the second all boys under 50, and the third all the ladies and the men over 50.
I watched the first wave go off, and they seemed to be going pretty slow -- and getting bashed pretty good by the waves. John and I talked for a minute about how to play it -- maybe go out a little further where the waves weren't breaking... Then I just got quiet and started to wonder if I could swim in that much chop. Swimming is normally a strong suit for me -- but this was a little nuts.
But pretty soon it was my time to go. So, I get ready to go, give John a kiss for good luck, and off I go into the waves...
Right off the bat, I figured this was going to be a rough one. (It could have been the long course men coming off that were shaking their heads saying "ugh - rough - sucked"...) I can normally crank out a strong swim, but every time I went to take a breath, I got a swig of water. Every stroke was off a little because I was in and out of the water. And I couldn't see -- unless you timed a sighting stroke just right, you couldn't see the buoys in front of you. So, I zig-zagged a little (not too bad), but I'm sure that would have been better if I didn't have such a hard time sighting. (It was bad enough that I couldn't even really see the people around me... very interesting feeling.) What was worse about that was the fact that you could only see one buoy at a time -- so I thought at one point that I was done going parallel to shore and was getting ready to turn, when I realized there was a buoy off in the distance (that was on a diagnol from where I was at that point). *sigh* I guess you get the picture that the swim was rough, eh? ;) Later Johnny V told me that they fished some folks out, and I can attest to the coast guard going around and shouting -- asking if folks wanted to get fished out. I didn't take them up on their offer... In any event, I passed quite a few people holding on to the buoys for dear life, and there were plenty of times when I stopped and did a few breaststrokes to try to give myself some time above water. So I was suuuper happy when I finished that last buoy and turned into shore -- very fun bodysurfing to shore! Of course, I was disappointed with my time...
Johnny V took this of me coming out -- I was totally miffed. You can't see my face, but I was totally p*ss*&. My goal had been to finish the swim (.61 miles) in 20 minutes or less -- a goal that was more than do-able based upon my practice swims. I finished more than 10 minutes off that pace... *sigh*
Anyhoo -- I tried to shake that off, but transition was pretty barren and those of us that were there were all talking to one another about how hard the swim was, and about the fact that it felt long (I mean, LOOK at those waves! Of COURSE it felt long!). I still think it was probably a little longer than .61, but that's a darn hard distance to hit ... Anyway, my performance on the swim got me a little blue, and I wish I would have just powered through and not cared... Still, nothing like getting the tar beat out of you for a half hour to revise your personal expectations...
So, off I go onto the bike. The course there was ... well ... "rugged." LOTS of potholes, lots of seams, and cracks, and sand. That said, it was pretty straight for a few portions, and darn pretty. There was also a really brutal hill, at the end of which was a 90degree turn on sand. Nice for a little technical riding, I guess, but I think I took that at -- oohh -- maybe 5 miles an hour. The wind seemed to come from every direction that wasn't helpful, and I never really got my groove. Plus, I got stopped by a train (yes, another train) which again killed my groove a little. Added to that -- I don't have the clipless pedals or aerobars, so I'm about the most un-aerodynamic woman on the race course. Still -- I finished the 18 miles (longest ride ever!) with a 17.3 average speed (not bad!). I came into the parking lot where I was going to stop and saw my sugar...
And then I hopped off my bike, stumbled into transition (when in the heck am I going to start feeling like I can run with grace and ease after a ride? Sheesh...) dropped a gu and grabbed a water bottle for the run. (This was the first time I used glukos in a water bottle for myself on the run -- excellent idea because this was my best run during a tri this season...).
The run was ... well ... AWESOME. I hit a pretty good stride around the 1/2 mile mark, and kept it all the way in. The spectators were great, the race support was great (although I had my own provisions) and the view was pretty cool, too. Plus, I got the feeling that either I was coming in dead last, or there were just not that many of us ladies 30-34. We all had our ages on our calves, and I hadn't seen a woman with my age on her calf in some time. So I figured either I was so far behind that they smoked me (a few did) or I was the only one... ;)
I had a little battle of wills with a woman there near the end -- I passed her, and she caught me, and then we paced each other until we hit a hill and then she dropped off. Then I just put one foot in front of the other until the end...
Then I sprinted to the finish (see dramatic hair flying in the sprint-induced-breeze!).
And then I enjoyed my finisher's medal, a little water, and some R&R.
After a few minutes, I began to realize that I really hadn't done all that bad -- 2:27:15 was my official time, and shucks but that's not bad for a first season chick. Plus, when they started putting up the totals for everyone, it became pretty clear that I was going to be in the top five ladies in my age group... because there were only five listed! (There would ultimately be six, but when I first looked, there were only five). Now, mind you, I don't know how many DNF'd because of the swim, so the field might have been larger than six...
But, since I gave away the punch line above, you all know that I got 4th in my age group overall! Yay me! And congrats to the ladies that whomped me. I'll getcha next year. ;)
Let me say that the SWAG at Triamerica Indiana Dunes was pretty sweet. Two shirts (neither technical, but both relatively stylish and not altogether ill-fitting), a cell phone carrier, a license plate holder (yes, a license plate holder) a pretty sweet medal, and, for most, a plaque for your finishing place (mine was fourth, as I said) -- all in all, pretty great.
Sorry this was so long -- more to follow on this first season in general, and other race reports from races gone by. In the meantime, I'm enjoying a bit of a rest and some relaxation after a fun but rough weekend...
Take care, train well!
Friday, September 5, 2008
What the heck! What a wonderful problem to have, huh? To have to complain about having too much fun in a summer!?! An embarrasment of riches, I suppose, but it's left me with very little in the tank, and with one more race to go.
That race is the Triamerica short course in Michigan City. I looked online, and apparently TriA has a history of only having a handful of ladies sign up for the short course in whatever city they're in. Coupling that with Ironman Wisconsin this weekend, and the fact that Accenture has come and gone, and I have a feeling that there will be very few of us... For the first time, I'm thinking that I might need to actually look at the bike course map (just in case I'm the only chiquita out there, you know?). It's made me appreciate what it must feel like to think that you may be a leader. Perhaps, someday, that could be me... but for now I'm happy just to do better than my goal time. (That's something I've not yet done -- I keep missing my goal by a stinking minute! Seriously! A stinking minute. *sigh*) Of course, I'm still pretty slow, but maybe if I crank it up a little bit, I'll hit the top ten in my age group... (there may only be 10 of us, but in case there are 11, I should try for that top 10 spot, don't you think?)
Race report to come, but two weeks ago I did the SuperSprint here in Chicago. Fun race, really -- but really short, and the darned bike portion was a straight one-mile line up and down simmonds drive -- with a hairpin turn on either end. (Nothing like having to come to a complete standstill to slow down your overall time.) Still, the swim portion rocked for me -- even though it was darned short, I exited the water in about 3:40 or so, and honestly sprinted the whole time. That's the first real sprint that I've done in the water - so it was great for training. The run suuuuuuccccckkkkkkeeeeedddd. And that's weird, but the same thing that's happened to me in every race -- my strength should be the run, as I'm a runner. But every time, there's just no go-power left in the tank. Zip-o, sister. And so I limp along at a 9:30 or 10:00 (two years ago that would have been a blazingly fast time, by the way) and end up missing my goal time because I can't go any faster...
And now for my personal revelation -- I have not worked out in a week.
A week! And this from a woman that follows her plan (whatever that may be) religiously. One week ago today I took a half day from work and ran my 18 miler for marathon training. I was beat even before I began, and it was hotter than blue-blazes, but I did it. John met me at mile 11, mile 15, mile 17 and 18 -- and my IT band let me know it was not happy with the day or the distance, but I still finished. Then, Saturday, I flew to St Louis, and went to my mom's in small town Missouri to help her paint her queen anne victorian home (it's literally 5 colors, and you have to use a wee little bitty paintbrush to get the detail in), which I did until Tuesday, when I came home, totally wasted by the combination of the week's activity. I thought that Wednesday I would work out, but no -- I was so tired that I could barely stand, and I honestly wasn't making much sense. Thursday came and went with me happily munching my way through the day. Today? No chance -- this morning was too snuggly to wake up, and after work I've got plans with Johnny and some friends. Tomorrow is The Day Before The Race, so maybe I'll have a little tune-up, but nothing serious -- my arms are feeling flabby already...
So I suppose that's it, huh? Maybe at this point, and after the summer of schlepping and running and generally having an amazing time, I need rest more than anything else. Perhaps I'll do the TriA and go faster at this farthest distance I've raced, simply because my body has had time to repair. Perhaps with this sleep that I've had, I will have more fun during the race itself (is that even possible?). But in any case, it feels good and delicious, and I'm surprised with myself that I'm allowing it... Oooh Baby It's good to be bad!
Have to get off to work, now -- soon I'll post stories of all the trials and tribulations, as well as my background, so that you can see why this summer was so much better than all of the summers before...
Best to you!