Tuesday, September 24, 2013

21 Miles. Not so epic.

Did you hear about Ironman Lake Tahoe last weekend? Apparently, it was epic. With almost freezing temperatures, it was much more than the altitude these athletes had bargained for. While other sport fans were watching football and baseball on Sunday, I was glued to my computer most of the day, watching results for my colleagues in the the Silicon Valley Triathlon Club. I just can't care about million-dollar professional athletes, when I have been training with these epic people all year long. Wow.

How many more times can I say "epic" in this post? We shall see.

I wish I could have been there to support them. But, I did a swim relay on Saturday, and my last 20+ mile training run for Chicago on Sunday (between computer-stalking on the IMLT website). 

During the run, I tried to harness some inner strength from those in Tahoe. Solidarity. Or, as my Sass-girls like to call it, "Sass-idarity." Those brave souls risking the hypothermia to be an "Iron person" is just - wow! I tried to stifle my complaints, but damn. . . I really hate these long training runs. To epic proportions.

"If you hate it, then why do you do it?" 

Let's get a few things straight: 

1.)  I really enjoy triathlon training: it's challenging, I love the camaraderie, and seeing how it is making incremental improvements in my performance, mood, etc.

3.) The Arizona Rock and Roll Marathon last year was an awesome event. I am talking about the race itself, race day, running with a bunch of people, accepting water and electrolyte supplements from strangers, being in the finishing shoot with my friend, Christine. It was amazing! I wouldn't do Chicago if my first experience wasn't so awesome.

2.) I enjoy a good long training run. Give me 15 to 18 miles, and it's a good day. But, there is something about 20 that really sucks.

3.) Running for three hours or more is not the same as biking for 3 hours. Not even close. I even prefer swimming to these long training runs. I know. It's amazing, right? Who knew I'd be such a happy little fish.

Back to Sunday: my training goal was met - 21 miles. The first 8 felt terrible. But, then, I got lose, got funky, maybe focused a bit more, and finished. It wasn't that bad, and definitely not epic. I just is what it is. After a a few days of sitting on the good ole' tennis ball, my legs will be like new. Plus, I get to take it easy--ahem, easier for a couple of weeks. That is delightful.

This year, I am again reminded that training for a marathon is hard. Really hard. I can totally see why people put this on a bucket list, check it off, and never do it again. I keep saying this is my last marathon.

But, who knows? It could be completely epic! (I really hope it doesn't snow.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pacific Grove Sprint Triathon Recap (Seriously I'm still training for a marathon over here.)

Athlinks recently posed the following question on Facebook:

"How many events do you use to train for other events or experiment?"

Two years ago, I would have said, "zero." I only did events when I felt like I was ready for them. I would train hard for months, and that training would lead up to one big awesome run that I had put all of my energy into.

In the past two years, I've done at least 10 events that were just for fun, or experimental on some level. But, who am I kidding? Isn't it all an experiment?

Take last year's Turkey Trot 10k. I was still on my I-am-(half)-Ironwoman parade, and had just set a personal record for a 10k two weeks prior. "Ha!" I thought, "a 10k? I will nail this." About 2 miles into the race, I realized that it ain't happening, whereby I resorted to gawk at other runners, stop at a mimosa station, and give high-fives to children spectators. This day would not be lost on dead running legs!

Then there are days, like the Silicon Valley Triathlon where I use it to train for Wildflower, and ended up getting second in my age group. So, an experiment with surprising results. Unfortunately Wildflower, which I had trained for, didn't go well.

So, you see - it's ALL an experiment.

I signed up for the Pacific Grove Sprint Triathlon on a whim this year. It definitely wasn't a race that fit into marathon training. At. All. But, Pac Grove was my first triathlon two years ago, and I feel kind of nostalgic about swimming through a cold cove of kelp. Plus, it was the first year I could be there on a Sunday to do the sprint distance with my friends from the Mighty Broncos - the people who got me to sign up for my first triathlon two years ago.

According to the results from last year's sprint race, I thought the third place spot for my age group was attainable. I tried to put together a best-case scenario for the course. I honestly had no idea how long it would take me to swim .25 miles because I've never done it, so I timed myself at the pool one day and figured 8 minutes isn't too bad. As long as I could be closer to 19 mph on the bike, I could make up for my slower swim time. Then, I would need to run as close to 7 minute miles as possible. The run is only 2 measly little miles. How hard could that be? Hmmm.... I hadn't done any bricks workouts in weeks.

Then there were transitions.  For about a week, I considered no wet suit, and putting cage pedals on my bike to avoid another shoe change. I opted to do it the way I am used to. It's too cold to swim without a wet suit, not to mention kelp protection, and I would end up losing too much power on my bike without the proper shoes.

This whole thing was an experiment. My Garmin charger was misplaced, so I could only go off of how I felt. I wanted to see what I thought a full-out effort feels like for just over an hour. 1:10 would be a great time. Maybe at 1:06 I could podium (depends on the competition). . . could go either way.

Swim .25 miles: 8 minutes, 23 seconds
I got right in the front for the swim. "I'm slower, but people can climb over me," I thought. The kelp wasn't too bad this year (possibly mowed down by the Olympic distance race the day before), and the water was a balmy 60 degrees. I fought my way through a couple of people at the beginning, but I remembered that it was a short swim, so I tried to keep the momentum going.

Transition 1 (Swim to Bike): 2 minutes, 36 seconds
Pacific Grove has kind of a long transition from water to bike, so I was a little dizzy putting on my bike shoes, but I noticed there were still a lot of bikes on the rack. Translation: still a lot of people swimming. So, I'd better get going!

Bike 12 miles: 39 minutes, 23 seconds
Only a few men passed me on the bike. There are so many people doing multiple loops on this course, that I couldn't locate the other ladies in my age group. Translation = they were faster swimmers and already ahead of me. As long as I could hold my place, I was happy with that.

Transition 2 (Bike to Run): 1 minute, 23 seconds
Back to the bike to run transition, I was feeling feisty.

Run 2 miles: 14 minutes, 32 seconds
No excuses on this run. So I headed out for 2 laps of running as fast as possible. The first lap was pretty difficult, and the hill on the second half was enough to make me worry that my lead legs were going at a 10 minute pace. But, the second lap felt really good, and I felt confident that my time was under 1:10.

Overall time: 1 hour, 6 minutes, 21 seconds
A good race overall, and 3rd in my age group was just the icing on the cake. Tons of fun. It it worth mentioning that I was in the top 10 women overall, but also that there was a 15-year old, and a 12-year old girl in the top 10. Holy bejeezus! The 12-year old's swim split was faster than most of the men.

It almost makes me want a daughter. Almost.

I really like shorter distances, and think I could still improve a bit. Next year may be the year of short course triathlon. It would be awesome to go to nationals in my new 35-39 age group.

Now back to your regularly scheduled marathon training program. . .
3rd place in my Age Group. What will 35-39 bring next year?

Relay podium madness! I'm proud to know and love the people in the top two relay teams! Go Mighty Broncos!
Finally settled. 

A special shout out to my favorite German triathlon friend, Thomas. He had a really awesome race! Then he was robbed of a medal. (Ask him about it. I am protecting the innocent.) 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Thoughts on a Monday: A-K

Someone gave me a book about training for an Alcatraz swim. This may need to happen in 2014.

Big Kahuna.
This past Sunday, I participated in the Splash and Dash for the Big Kahuna (1.2 mile swim/6.2 mile run) in Santa Cruz. It was my first time to swim around the Santa Cruz Wharf, and the first time I've swum 1.2 miles since Barb's race. I slammed an energy shot about 15 minutes before the start, and man, I was pumped. I also had one of my better 10k times! So, a good day. After the race, I spent some time on the course, helping at our tri club aid station. (They should really invent a water fountain that squirts water directly into your mouth as you run by. Lots of wasted paper cups.) So inspired by the triathlon community! What awesome people out there on the 70.3 course!

Chicago Marathon.
Of course this should be at the top of the list. So far the experiment is going OK. I'm setting aside a couple days a week to swim and bike instead of running 5-6 days a week. I feel much better on the 20 mile training runs than I did last year. Thank the athletic Gods! 

I just turned 34. I am a bona fide adult with a retirement plan, crossover SUV, and I may have joined a professionals "club." Holy shit. How did this happen? In triathlon years, I will be joining the 35-39 age group on December 31st. Women in this category are beasts! I will need to work harder to keep up with them. I have absolutely no events planned for December, or any of next year. I will again allow myself to eat cheese and drink wine. Even if I tell myself I will gain rock hard abs in December while everyone else is gaining 5-15 pounds, it will not happen. It never does.

I ate a package of Ritz Crackers this weekend. They are over-processed and delicious.

I am sad about the end of summer. Part of me is excited to wear cardigans, but the other part realizes that with sweater season comes dark skies and an inability to ride my bike after work. It's already dark when I wake up. This makes me very sad, and very sleepy. And, just because I don't have children doesn't mean that their going back to school doesn't affect me!! The traffic really sucks lately.

What up, G?

I'm registered for another 70.3 at Lake Havasu on November 9th. It was $75 and I couldn't keep my wallet closed for this fantastic deal (most half Ironman-distance races are $300+). This is an auxiliary event. Or maybe I'll change it up and do the Olympic and that will be an auxiliary event. My season of PRs is probably over (except the Marathon...). Events for the rest of the year are Just. For. Fun. Promise.

I need new music. Especially for the marathon. Help! Oddly, the band Boston is on my list to download.

The man I love.

Next weekend I'm doing the Pacific Grove Sprint Triathlon (.25 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 2 mile run). I gotta check to see if those fast-twitch type II muscles are still working. This is the famous "kelp crawl" swim that I always say, "It's not a swim - it's a water adventure!"