Monday, June 20, 2011

I'm still alive!

Sorry I have been pretty much AWOL with both blogs lately.  Lets just say things have been crazy busy with our house for sale and the purchase of our new one.  I think things are going to be out of control for at least the next couple of months.  We are on vacation right now, which is nice, but we are still working on as much house things as possible from afar.  Here are a few brief points of interest:

1.  I LOVED the ELITE WAVE!!!  It was seriously awesome.  I had no shame being the second to last person out of the water (only ahead of a dude who never tried his wetsuit before, freaked out, and HATED it).  I on the other hand was in full wetsuit floaty glory.  My swim wasn't great, but it wasn't really that bad either.  I can do better, and probably should have, but with the wetsuit, it made my time not so bad at all (for me).  It was great to have no crowds on the bike to slow me down, I only got passed a by a few of the young whipper snappers in the 25 and below age group that started after me.  The run was awesome.  It was fun running people down.  I probably was the last of the "elites" to finish, but that is OK.  I re-qualified for elite too, so there was no shame in my finish time at all, and it was good enough for 5th in my AG.  It was a big race too, capped at 507.  There will be a full race report later.

2.  I have been sick since the Tuesday before the race.  I managed to feel OK for the race, but was very sick after, and am finally feeling better today after several days of "rest".  Last week I pretty much worked out only on Monday, Friday, and raced on Wed.  Tuesday and Thursdays were planned rest days.  I took Sat off because I woke up to a storm and then we left for vacation, driving on Saturday and Sunday.

3.  I had a fabulous 4 mile run on the beach today.  It is crazy how much slower I run on the sand than on the pavement.  I did 2 miles on the road, out 1 and back in one direction, and then went to the beach and continued for another mile on the beach out the other way.  The middle 2 miles were into the wind, so that first mile on the beach was tough!  I enjoyed running back with the wind, so it was a good way to finish up. 

How's your week going?  I hope your training is going well.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

To be the "Elite Wave" or not to be?

I have a tri this week, on Wednesday.  It is the Tricertops Tri, at Island Lake.  This will be my third time doing this particular race, and my 6th time doing the course.  This tri is the first in a series of 3.  Last year, I did the full series.  Due to parental responsibilities, I will not be able to do the full series this year. Boo!  Anyway, one of my goals from last year was to qualify for the "elite wave", and I actually did at the last of the three races.  I was close during the middle one, almost a minute over.  Now that I went ahead and qualified for it, I am now faced with the decision, do I actually do it?

I will feel cool and fast.
I will be on the course at the same time as the "fast people", and make it easier to figure out where I stand in my age group, potentially pushing me harder to keep pace with them.
I will get done earlier in the evening (only by MAYBE 10 minutes, but with the kiddos, every minute in the evening counts).
My clock time will be the same as my finish time.
Most of my "fast" friends will be starting in the elite wave, and this is an opportunity to start with them.  In the past, I have only been able to start with one or two other people I know based on age group alone, since this race is rather large and each age group as its own wave.

You MAY be disqualified if you do not finish under said "elite" time.  I have sent an email asking how serious they are about this, as I have legitimately qualified for it and they have record of it.  I don't want a DQ because of a minor equipment problem on the bike or something that puts me a bit over, or if I just have a bad race.
My swim is not fast.  I may feel like a fool swimming way off behind the elites, and I may not be able to find someone to follow/draft and keep me on course.  My best swim times have been when I have stayed rather close to a group to make it easier to sight.  I know I should not rely on this for sighting, as I could end up following someone like myself who can't swim straight and go right off course.
I haven't confirmed that Colleen K is doing this race yet, but if so, I would start with her.  We pretty much pushed each other like CRAZY last year since we were very closely matched until the run.  Our swims can go either way, and she can kill me on the bike, but I was able to take her on the run everytime, much to her frustration.  We received the "dynamic duo" award last year at our tri club banquet for our efforts and how close it came a couple times.  They even joked that I needed to walk up halfway to receive the award, and then at the last minute, run and get it front of her.  Because I narrowly qualified, I think it may put her out.  I am not sure. 
This is the first sprint tri of the season, I am feeling pretty drained and slow after R4R.  I am a bit worried that I may break streak of my PRing every time I do a tri.  I was super speedy at the last one, and I feel like my swim has gotten slower as I have worked more on going longer and not faster.

Any thoughts on what I should do?  I know I need to ask Colleen her plans, as well as find out if anyone else I know will be starting with me.

Also here is my AWESOMELY BAD farmer tan from R4R.  I had people asking what happened to me at the gym on Tuesday when I swam, and I felt like a fool when I donned my bikini to take the kids to the beach at Island lake to watch a TIA OWS.  We have a vacation to the ocean coming up, and I need some serious help to look normal again before I hit the real beach.  Any suggestions/recommendations on spray or self tanners?

Finally, I got my car fully "blinged" out.  Ryan could not believe that it took me this long, but it required some major goo-be-gone.  I removed my peeling 26.2 sticker that left ALL of its adhesive on the glass and replaced it with the 70.3.  I added a new pink 26.2 magnet, as well as received the "swim bike run" magnet as a gift from Dave over at New Balance he did not have a 70.3 magnet for our truck.  He is ordering me one, so I should have it before the Wed night sprint tri.

I am looking forward to your feedback- on the elite wave AND the horrible tan line fix!  It is not quite so bad as Steve's picture here.  I laughed pretty hard at that one.  Although, if my beach vacay gets rid of my farmer tan, I might look like that too!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Racing for Recovery Half Ironman Race Recap

Yesterday I completed the Racing for Recovery Half (Ironman) Triathlon in lovely Monroe, MI. In the beginning, I sort of looked at this race as a "practice" race for Steelhead, but with Steelhead now out due to school scheduling conflicts, this race took on more importance. I had 3 goals for this race, first was to finish. Second was to finish under 6:30, and third was to have something crazy happen and be under 6 (as a math person, I knew this was highly doubtful when adding my training numbers). I wanted to be under an hour on the swim, under 3.5 on the bike, and under 2 on the run, and hoped that my amounts "under" would be long enough for me to transition.

Here it is:

On Saturday, Cristina, Mary, Robbie, and I all drove down to Monroe for a practice swim. I also needed to get my registration settled out since I was just on a list of Todd Crandal's, and not officially entered due to a computer problem of mine. I got that straightened out easily enough and they were expecting me. I also chatted with Meredith and Dave, who were also getting their packets picked up and doing a swim. This was my first OWS of the season, and was less than excited about it. It was a check the box sort of exercise. Cristina suggested we swim way further than I wanted to, going out and back diagonally instead of swimming in the shallow water parallel to shore. Whatever. Cristina knows what she is doing and if that is what she felt she needed to do, then I should probably do it as well. The water was cold, but very calm. Still, I did not like swimming and was stressed. I didn't really "freak out", because all of my OWS sort of suck like this and I still did it. Mary helped me out by staying with me. Whew, that was over, and the open water swim before the race was over. Sweet. I could go home and stress.

I was sort of crazy the rest of the evening until the kids went to bed, making sure I had everything. I did make an emergency run to REI to get a bigger bento box, which I probably should have passed on, as well as solved a series of 2 variable algebraic equations to know which mile I needed to be on when I was done with my third loop of the bike course and head back in. Yeah, I was FREAKING OUT to say the least.

I did get some decent sleep, and I woke up on my own a half hour early, which was a good thing. I used all that time to be able to get packed up without rushing. I feel like I can never be early enough to a tri, there is so much to do before the race! There is no sitting in the car listening to music just to kill time because you arrived early just to get a good parking spot like at a big marathon or half!

Cristina overslept, on the other hand, and made it down pretty late, but still on time. We got a few pre-race pictures. A big thanks to Kari M who took many of the pictures I am posting (stolen from f/b).
The Aquaphor Ladies (Cristina, Me, Becky)
Some of TIA -Robbie, Me, Cristina, Bill (we were missing Mary, and Rick wasn't racing for TIA today, well, Cristina and I weren't either..., but we didn't find either of them on the beach)
Cristina and I on the beach before the swim
The swim itself was not very fun. I did not drown, stop, or rest on a kayak/buoy, but it was hard. I didn't feel relaxed at all on the out and back portion (course went out and back, and then along the beach and back). It was supposed to be shallow enough to touch on the parts along the beach. Not for shorty me, though. I could not touch at all, not that I was planning on it, but it would have been a bit comforting to know. I did so much better from a stress standpoint on the parts parallel and spent more time really swimming instead of floating or elementary backstroke.  I did have a less bad swim than Cristina, because I was just slow.  Turns out, she got kicked in the face and got a bloody nose. I was one of the few ladies to finish after her, but was amazed that I was not the last one out of the water.
Time : 52:50
I took the transition slow, I just didn't want to mess anything up and make sure I had everything I needed for the bike. I had a cup of water and got on the bike. My only biking picture was just getting going and I am fiddling with my food that was stored under my seat. The bigger box didn't work as well as the smaller box, and I ended up emptying its contents into my pockets and turning it around. It looks like I am picking at my crotch!
The bike was very safe (slow/conservative). I felt pretty good, and at no time did I think my head was going to fall off like I did on my first 60 miler on this bike. However, I did get tired of being in aero so much, and I felt the lack of riding on this bike towards the end. My left hip flexor bothered me for much of the ride. It was at a constant pain level, where it didn't really get better or worse regardless of what I did, so I did my best to ignore it and hoped it wouldn't bother me on the run. I did notice my friend Rick (who races for Racing for Recovery) pass me, but not Cristina. I got a little worried, especially when I NEVER got lapped by her. It was a lollipop course, with 3 loops before coming back. Becky passed me and hadn't seen Cristina either (Becky was 2nd out of the water and had a strong bike). I am guessing Cristina must have been just about to pass me as I finished my second loop and she finished her third. I wasn't a huge fan of this course. It was flat, but windy, and the condition of the road was not nearly as nice as the Horsey Hundred. I scrapped the top of my mouth with the straw of my aero drink a few times since the road was so bumpy. I also stopped at the aide stations, 2 of the 3 times, to refill my aero drink from bottles they were passing out. Had I been more coordinated, I could have tried to grab one and refill it while riding. However, I felt very unstable as I approaced the aide station the first time, and just figured stopping was safer and may have been faster than trying to ride and refill at the same time. I did not refill on the second lap, and did not use my spare bottle, because I had just run out in the aero drink before hitting the station the third and final time. I probably should have, as it was starting to get hot. I felt pretty decent most of the bike. I didn't really get uncomfortable (aside from the hip) until the last few miles, when I just wanted to be done. My helmet was pushing on my sunglasses, and it was making my nose hurt. I was also thinking about how fun it would be to run after this. I am serious here, it was sunny and nice, and I was pepping myself up for getting to do a long run on a nice sunny day, just hot. I was comparing it to my long runs that I did in blizzards, and how this would be better than that. I also learned that I should have opened my gu chomps before the race. They were hard to open on the bike without making a mess or crashing. I was only able to get about half of them out of the bag. I opened it and put it back in my pocket, and then ate them out of there. Not the best, but it helped. I also switched my gu plan from miles to time. It was taking too long to get to the miles I wanted, so I just switched to gu every 45 minutes, with the chomps at the end, plus a final gu before the run. I think this worked well, I felt a little hungry on the bike, but never really had any stomach issues.
Time: 3:23:04, 16.4 mph I was pleased with this, although with more time and training, I should be able to improve. Transition was slow, my visor wanted to stick to my hair and not go on my head, and I had a tiny rock stuck to the bottom of my right foot the entire bike that I wanted to wipe off before running.

The run started out great. Once I got out of transition, I felt like a rockstar, and was running really fast! My first mile was under 8. Whoa, SLOW DOWN!!! The first 4 miles or so when really well. I did get a bit worried when one of the water stops only had heed at this point (which I poured most on myself instead of drinking, ugh), and then one had water but no more cups. When I got to a stop that had cups, I just kept it. The 5th mile had some walking, and was my first mile over 9. I actually ended up running the second half of the my first loop with some faster people's second loop, and since running is my thing, I actually was passing a lot of people, which was a big moral booster.  I was finally in a situation where I felt competitive and I was finally not all alone!  I ran into Cristina as she was passing me on her second. We ran to the next water station which was just a few feet ahead together, and she told me what happened on the swim. I couldn't stay with her for long after the stop and she was off. She was third female even with her horrible swim! I passed Rick before he finished while I was on my first lap, and I could hear them anounce his name over the PA as he finished the race and I was just starting my second loop. I still had to do this all over again! The BEST part was that I saw Ryan and the kids here. They were at the finish area, and got there in time for Cristina to finish, and see me start and end the second loop (and finish).
Here I am so happy they were there to cheer me on!
The second loop had a lot more walking in it than the first. There were not as many people, but thankfully they had replenished the water stations with more water and cups, so I did not have to worry about that anymore and could stop hoarding cups.  I had 3 at one point in time!  When I got down to the last 5K, I really wanted to run the whole thing, but did a bit of walking. It reminded me of the last 3 miles of Detroit when it was hot and I just wanted a PR under 4. This time is was get the half done under 2. If I got the run done under 2, I was going to be under 6:30 by 10 minutes, so I still had some wiggle room if I didn't quite do it. I started counting down tenths and doing splits. I was very happy that I got my act together on the final mile and ran it in 8:31. I also caught one lady in my age group right before the end to gain one spot overall.  I am a little bummed that I didn't run with Keira and Soren across the finish line, but I didn't think about it until I saw other people doing it in pictures after. I didn't even think to mention it to Ryan beforehand. Since it was not an IRONMAN brand, they allowed this. I am just glad that they came to the finish. It is not easy to watch them at a race.
Run time: 1:57:53- HECK YEAH!!! My run was faster than 2/3 of the people there, women AND men! I was pretty pleased with that to say the least. I think Cristina and Meredith were the only people that I knew well that had faster run times than me. Go ME.
Finish Time 6:18:21
I just needed to lay down when I finished. However, I needed to get out of the sun and the kids needed me. They were ready to have Mommy back, and Keira needed to go to the bathroom a couple times. I finally got my stuff and we didn't stay for awards or the raffle. The kids and I were ready to go home. It was a great day, and while I am happy with the way I did, I know that I can make improvements, which is also good. My swim and bike have a LONG way to go, and I know I have a better run in me. As far as placing goes, well, I didn't do so well. I was last in my age group on the swim, but there were 10 people that I was ahead of (men and women). The bike I was 9th out of 12 in my age group, but I was 5th in my age group on the run. I was 9th in my age group overall, and was 26th out of 42 women. 

Here are a few final post race shots:  Me and Cristina, and Meredith and Me.
I was really glad I had so many friends there. Kari did a fabulous job cheering everyone and getting some great photographs. Kristel came out and did the sprint race, her first tri in years after being plagued by injury. Colleen and Anna came out to cheer on Mary, who did AWESOME, placing 3rd in her age group and going sub 6 in her first half. Meredith did great, and you can read her recap here. Robbie finished a little after me. Bill, unfortunately crashed his bike and is going to be out for the next 8 weeks with a broken collarbone. Ouch! He broke his collarbone last year too, but in a different spot.

It will be interesting to see how I fair in my next event, a sprint tri. I know I should be able to kill the run at least, and hopefully do well on the bike. The swim could be a crap-shoot, especially since I doubt I will get to wear a wetsuit or have another shot at an OWS before it.  I am not sure if I want to do the "elite" start or not. After this race, I am not feeling very "elite", but my time from last year has me qualified for it. Decisions, decisions. I need to see how I feel over the next few days and hopefully get that figure out.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Horsey Hundred (half Century) Recap and other things.

This is late...We've been pretty busy with house stuff lately. Also, since this is more biking, I almost felt like I needed to do another running post again. However, with it being officially "taper time", there really isn't much of anything going on here.
The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend I went to Georgetown, KY, with Ryan and my dad. Ryan rode the full century ride and my dad and I did the half. This was pretty much my first big official ride (with the exception of childhood zoo rides completed on a Huffy). I was pretty excited about it, and it fit well with my training schedule. I had my road bike due to the issue with the bike rack, but that seemed fine given that this was a big tour style ride.

We got up super early to drive out and get registered. They actually had a "hard start" for the century riders at 8am. Ryan met up with some Wolverines, but didn't really do the hard (mass) start with tape and pacecar. It seemed really crowded and I am glad I didn't do it either. The half century didn't start until 9, but that was a "soft start", which meant we could start whenever. They did have a timing clock set up, but it was for "entertainment purposes only", with no official times. I was mostly nervous about getting lost or getting a flat. Thankfully, the course was really well marked. There were also lots of rest stops. Probably more than I should have used. I was super excited about all the yummy food they had at them too. I ate way to many cookies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during this ride. I didn't use hardly any of my gels. It was good and bad. I enjoyed the food, but I didn't really get to practice my race day nutrition. I also really want to figure out how to pack a PB&J on my bike. Any tips there? I am not kidding. It was what I was craving during my long ride with Cristina, and when they had them at the stops, I just devoured them! They were cut into small squares, and I think I only had 1 full sandwich worth, but between those and the cookies, I was set! I love that biking does not upset my stomach at all. I felt like I could have eaten anything during that ride, especially with all the stops. There were probably too many stops for my training purposes, but again, maybe it was ok being about a week out from my big race. I used them to link back up with my dad. He wanted me to go ahead after staying together for almost the first 20 miles. I told myself at the last stop, which was only 9 miles from the end, that I wasn't going to eat any of their food, but I just couldn't do it!

In addition to the food on the ride, it was hilly and beautiful. It went through lots of horse farms and was very green. For the most part, there were always other riders in sight. There was one stretch where I felt like I was all alone for a while, and worried I was lot, but finally caught up with some people.

It took me a little over 3 hours to finish the 50 miles, not including the stops. I wasn't setting any records here, but I wanted to keep the pace easy and enjoy the ride. I came away from this feeling really good about my next race!

Here are a few pictures.
The post ride food was excellent. My dad and I finished up a bit before they were ready to start serving it. It was a rather expensive ride, so we were not about to miss this meal! The had pulled pork, chicken breasts, burgers, cole slaw, baked beans, and more cookies.
The really cool thing about this ride was that it was a weekend long event. It had rides on Friday through Sunday, of all different distances. It seemed like there really was something for every rider's ability.

Anyway, I am totally serious about the pb&j on the bike at my next race. Any advice for this? I am limited by the space on my bike where I can store things due to it being so compact. My bento box from my road bike doesn't fit in the same spot on my tri bike, and I can't reach it very well where it does fit. I am not allowed to accept food from spectators. I also think if I eat it in the middle of the bike ride, my stomach might actually be ok for the run. When I did my marathon training in the afternoons, I would eat a pb&j sometimes for lunch, and run a couple hours later. I did have more access to bathrooms, though, in between. Ah, the details to figure out!

Finally, I had an awesome day today. I finished up my taper and then took my tri bike in since I am a total bike dork and was having trouble with my rear brake rubbing SINCE MY WHEEL WAS ON CROOKED!!!! I should be embarassed to be an engineer for that one. They did make a few more adjustments than just that, though, since the cables have stretched a bit all over.  However, I did run into Shelby at the shop! Totally random too!  She was bringing Colin's bike in.  It is sweet, and my bike was totally jealous of its awesomeness.  We chatted for quite a while about all sorts of things and she was super helpful with keeping my kids from destroying the store while I was able to explain my stupidity to the guys fixing it. I think I really shocked him when he learned the distance of my race. He first asked how many miles were on the bike. My answer was maybe a hundred or so? It really hasn't been ridden much, and this half century was on my road bike, as well as  over 40 miles of my 100 mile week. I was asking about where to put my Garmin since it is so huge and I NEED the Aerodrink for this race. He gave me a few options that they could do, but we discussed that it might just be easier to wear it on my wrist. He stated, "you will have, what, 12-15 miles on the bike in your race and have time to look at your watch". I corrected him with 56 miles...., and he was like, "Oh, you're doing the real deal". He probably thinks I am going to die on the bike course, but hey, my bike is brand new so I couldn't have had it that long to have racked up too many miles, especially with this crazy weather the midwest has been getting!

This evening, Keira and Soren biked to get ice cream. It was awesome watching them. Soren had a tough time heading out, and wanted to be pushed in the stroller (which I had just in case this happened) about halfway there. It is a little under a mile each way, I think. Keira is super fast, so he (as well as I) was getting frustrated trying to stay together. Keira was zipping along on her balance bike from last year, and he just could not keep up. The ice cream was sufficient fuel for him, though, and he made it the whole way home. It helped that he had gained some skills on the way out and Keira was tired and goind a little slower. He was actually sitting on the seat and gliding along some of the time instead of just walking with it by the end!
Oh, and those little kiddo's bikes cost more than my Huffy that I did my first zoo ride on...and they don't even have a drivetrain at all!