Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bad runs remind us to truly appreciate good runs

It seemed like an absurd idea, much better suited for the crazy ass runner in my family, not a diva runner like myself.  I wasn't one bit interested in the plan my husband, aforementioned, crazy-ass runner, was trying to sell me.  We had spent the last half hour talking, well, me talking, actually complaining while he indulged my belly aching.  Triathlon season was over.  I decided that I prefer cycling and swimming over running.  Trail running, of course is another story.  I love it, but happen to be training for a road race.  Not any road race, mind you, but the Mother of All Relay's, "Hood to Coast", a 197 mile long relay from Mt. Hood to Seaside.  I, along with eleven other runners each have three legs ranging in distance from four to eight miles that we run over the course of approximately 24 hours.  I have a team that's relying on me.  I don't think they want me running, my default speed of nine to ten minute miles. 

HTC is a mere nine weeks away and I will be on vacation and/or working in the east coast for four of those training weeks.  Over the next couple weeks, I need to get in some quality training because who knows what I'll be able to do while on vacation.  It's time to cut back on my swimming and biking to make room for road running.  Half marathon training is recommended for this event.  Last time around I was marathon ready and it still took a toll on me.  I am worried this year.  The longest run I've had in a year is only eleven miles.  Training time is long overdue for this gal. 

Steve, my husband, suggested that I run seven miles to the pool, then get in my swim.  Seven miles all by my lonesome, on the pavement, in the afternoon, in the heat wasn't exactly my idea of a good time.  Coach Husband has yet to steer me wrong, so I decided to go for it.  I packed up my swim stuff and slipped out the door.  Here's my stream of consciousness during this run.  Haven't you wondered what people think about during their runs?  My mind is a a pinball machine, pinging from thought to thought.  This afternoon it went something like this:

1st mile: Wow, this doesn't feel so good. My legs are so tired. They feel every lift, every vibration that results from impact on the pavement.  This sucks.  Breathing... What a chore!  I can't catch my breath.  I didn't take an allergy pill.  It's peak grass pollen season in the grass pollen capital of the world.  Glance at Garmin. No wonder! I'm running 9:08 min/mi!  Holy shit, that's way too fast! Slow down. Okay, slower isn't feeling better. Damn, it's hot. Why the fuck did I wear this shirt? No wonder why I never wear it.  It comes up to my throat and chokes me. My Nathan hydration pack which holds my swim suit, goggles and swim cap, has never felt hot on my back before.  What's up with that? Okay, voices, shut the fuck up, okay?! I'm running here! The first mile always sucks ass.  Get over it.  You are running.  Remember when you would have given your left nut (if you had one) to run last year when you were injured.  Pace: 10:07

Mile 2:  Beep goes the Garmin indicating that I made it through the first mile.  OMG, I have 6 more miles to go.  What the hell was I thinking?!  Why does Steve punish me so?  This still sucks.  Just keep running, running, running... sang my inner Dorie.  This is exactly why I run roads so rarely.  Not only do I rarely do it, but when I rarely do, I always take a friend with me.  Friends don't let other friends run pavement alone.  Laura?! Where are you?  I miss you.  I need you.  Why didn't I bring my iPod?  This is the perfect moment to have Eminem angrily rapping in my ears.  10:36 pace

If you had one shot, or one opportunity
to seize everything you wanted, one moment
Would you capture it?
Or just let it slip? Yo.

or maybe a little...

I'm about to lose my mind.
You've been gone for so long. I'm running out of time.
I need a doctor. Call me a doctor.
I need a doctor, doctor to bring me back to life.

Angry music!  I needed angry music to help me slog away the miles.  Hood to Coast?!  What was I thinking?!  I better get an alternate because there's no way in hell I can run that race.  I would have to run five to eight miles THREE times within a 24 hour time span.  Last time, I thought it was great fun, but now it seems like a terrible thing to do. 

Mile 3:  Beep, blessed beep tells me that I am getting somewhere, albeit slowly.  No one out here is hating their life more than I right now.  I entertained the thought of asking a bike rider for a ride on his/her handle bars to the nearest bus stop where I would, tail between my legs, ride mass transit back to my home.  I had been mistaken.  I do not like running alone on the pavement.  I did once upon a time in my marathoning hay day, but those days are gone.  I am now a multi-sport trail runner who prefers exercising in the company of  her fellow momma jocks.

Oh, speaking of momma runners, here is someone who may be hating their life more than I am hating mine!  She is wearing all black on this hot day and pushing a jogging stroller.  Yes, she might be worse off than me.  YES!  She wins!  Double jogging stroller with twins!  If she can do it so can I!  I thought back to those days of having twinfants, crying in stereo, sleeping 90 minutes to two hours at a stretch, blistered nipples from tandem nursing... Yes, perhaps this running isn't quite so bad.  I could do this.  It was feeling better.  10:34 pace

Mile 4:  I think I'm finally starting to loosen up! Sure took the ole bod long enough. Sheesh, is it ever hot!  Thank the goddess that I have water and Margarita Shot Blocs.  Did I eat breakfast this morning?  A drinking fountain!  Hat off, head in water.  There that feels better.  I must look like hell.  Beet red face.  Hair of a crazy woman.  Trying to smile, not grimace as I pass walkers and cyclers on the path.  Finally, I make it to my turn.  Was I ever glad to be off that blasted path that seemed to go forever.  I could do this.  Time to run through downtown Eugene.  Reminded me of the many times I had run this High Street stretch with my running partner, and the Run Momma Run group.  Back when temps were cool and conversation plentiful.  Those were the days... I miss them.  I will never complain about an early alarm clock wake up call or driving across town to run with those lovely people who somehow make the miles feel effortless.  10:34 pace

Mile 5:  For the first time, I believe that I can indeed run all the way to the pool.  Will Steve's distance expectations be accurate?  It's got to be more than 7 miles to the pool from our house.  He'll get an earful from me if it's longer!  This isn't so bad.  Maybe I could do HTC after all.  Race adrenaline takes over, right?  No, this isn't so bad, but I'd rather be on the trails.  Oh, there's Spencer's Butte!  Hello trails!  That's where I want to be.  Maybe I'll skip the swim and run there.  10:14 pace

Mile 6:  I'm cooking now!  I am now on the section of the path that I rode and feel in love with my road bike, Princess.  Yes, I'm not interested in road running.  This is proof.  If I had my druthers I'd hang up my running shoes and take up cycling.  A century sounds delightful.  I am much better suited to triathlons than road running.  Will I never run another marathon?  Am I just out of road running shape?  Will I be rich? Will I be pretty? Here's what she said to me... Que sera sera sera. Whatever will be, will be, the future's not ours to see, que sera, sera.  I'm nearly there.  It looks like it's not quite a full seven miles away.  I love my husband!  I better still have the energy to swim after all this!  10:01 pace

Final .16 of a mile: De pool! De pool! What was the name of that little guy from Fantasy Island?  Tito? Tikko?  I can see the pool! I'm almost there! My suffering will soon end.  Tattoo! That was his name.  Glance at Garmin.  That's right.  I'm running sub 10 minute miles. In your face!  I'm gonna sprint to the finish.  Topped out at 9:16 pace. That's right, bitches. 9:16.  Now for my reward.  A swim!

If I could survive a mentally tough run like that, surely I could stick it out through three legs of a relay with my husband, running partner and friends.  It was going to be a good time and the largest running party of the year.  How lucky am I to be in on the excitement?!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summertime and the Livin' is Easy

Slept in until 6:45 this summer solstice morning! Woke up sans alarm clock to a quiet house wishing that someone would magically present me with a cup of coffee.  My husband had taken the early morning workout shift so I was in charge of the kiddos this morning.  With no school or work for the three of us to rush off to, we made the cutest yogurt, summer fruit, granola parfaits and savored them as we looked out the window into the yard.  We spoke about what we might do with ourselves for the day and enjoyed each other's company.  No appointments, no obligations, no play dates... we were the navigators of our day.  I relish my summers!  Here's my top 10 favorite things about this season:

1.  I get to spend time with family and friends!  We plan adventures, road trips and fun, active, relaxing, educational ways to occupy our time and enjoy the season.  I love getting the chance to catch up with friends and family that I don't get enough of during the school year.  Folks are more relaxed and happy with the looser schedule, sunshine and longer days.

My favorite sun baskers
 2.  I get to work out when, where and how often and as long as I want to!  Friday I met my swunning (swimming+running) partner, Laura for a run in the beautiful sunshine.  We had the luxury of heading to a coffee shop for coffee, a snack and a leisurely chat.  It was so much fun!  Sunday, I met a friend for a longish trail run and chat fest.  Today Laura and I swam in the delicious outdoor 50 meter pool that I can't seem to get enough of these days.  Then I hit the trails for a solo run.  The children were well cared for by their very capable father who had gotten his workout in earlier that morning.  I enjoyed my brick totally unencumbered by time.  It was a delight!

3.  I get to read, read, read!  I would call myself a double-fisted reader, but that would be an understatement.  I usually have a pair of books, a handful of magazines and a dozen of blogs that I follow.  During the summer, I can indulge in them without compromising my other obligations.  Currently I am reading Kingsolvers' "The Lacuna" and "A Modern Witch" by Geary on our fancy new Kindle.  I subscribe to Runner's World, Trailrunner, Ultrarunning, Triathlete, Family Fun and Sunset magazines not to mention the local newspaper!  

4.  My family has a pass to the awesome city pool.  We plan on soaking up the sun, staying cool, enjoying our friends' company and getting in as many outdoor lap swim sessions as possible.  Today, I realized that the girls and I will likely need additional swim suits to accommodate our gazillion swim sessions.  For those spontaneous trips to the pool, I was thinking I should have a prepacked bag of suits, towels, sunscreen, money for the Snack Shack and other essentials, but since it's summer and I'm lazy, I haven't gotten around to packing one yet.

5.  It's time for al fresco dining, outdoor grilling, barbecues with friends and family and indulging in seasonal treats.  I am the grill master of the house.  I love me some grilled Mediterranean chicken, a side of colorful grilled peppers and a big-ass salad with all the toppings I can grate, chop and sprinkle on top.  In my opinion, everything, is betta with feta.  All my favorite dishes seem to require this delectable cheese.  I also have become fond of Jalapeno Havarti.  We all know that Wheaties is the "breakfast of champions" but did you know that Jalapeno Havarti, sesame crackers and G & Ts is the summer dinner of champions?  Try it. I think you will enjoy it too.  Skinny Cow Chocolate Mint sandwiches are a nice palate cleanser.  We also subscribe to a CSA (community supported agriculture) produce box from Groundwork Organics.  Each week we get a beautiful tub of the most beautiful organic produce that was grown on a farm less than ten miles from our house.  Cooking and eating is an absolute pleasure when I have this kind of produce to work with.

6.  My backyard beckons.  After being cooped up in the house and at work all year long, I'm ready to spend most of my hours outdoors.  As much as I like traveling and excursions, I also need my quiet time on my own turf.  I love to look out at the changing colors in my flower beds, hear the children's excitement when they discover a ripe strawberry or raspberry, watch my crazy dog swim in his wading pool and attack the hose.  Sometimes I'll weed, dig, water or pick up but I prefer just sitting in my summer perch doing as little as possible.

7.  Home improvement projects beg for our attention after being neglected all school year.  Back before children, my partner and I used to spend much of our time and money on the house.  Nowadays we don't have that luxury nor does it seem as high of a priority.  Nonetheless, we do like a tidy, well-maintained home so summer is our time to rock the "to do lists".
Mr. Trailsmitten demonstrates how ineffective a flame thrower is at burning weeds.

I've got your back babe! Sometimes I hold the ladder, flip the circuit breaker, but here I stand with a hose as my honey plays with FIRE
8.  Time to travel!  Since my partner and I are both teachers who are off for the summer, most of our traveling occurs once school lets out.  Our home away from home is a ranch in Bend.  At Sundance Meadows we hang out with our extended family while enjoying horse back riding, swimming, miniature golfing, fishing, campfires and old fashioned fun right there on site.  Bike rides, floats down the river and extra date nights pull us out of the ranch and into the beautiful town of Bend.  We also have a couple camping trips, a week surfing at the coast, and this year we get to spend four weeks traveling around New York, Pennsylvania, Boston, Massachusetts and Connecticut as much as our two week long gig at Yale Univesity will allow.  It's going to be quite the adventure!

Our home on the range.

Look what we found in the pool house!

Miniature golfing in the high desert
9.  Sleep!  I no longer need to set my clock for 5AM to squeeze in a workout before having to rush home to get kids ready for school and myself off to work.  No more staying up until the wee hours of the night cleaning house, doing laundry, packing lunches or planning lessons.  I get to stay up as late as I want.  This is usually until around the late hour of 11:00.  Then I have the luxury of sleeping in!  It's a huge victory when I wake up after 7AM.  Really, it's almost too good to be true.

10.  SUN! Longer days!  Nothing like a little Vitamin D to improve one's mood and tan one's pasty complexion.  I just love that it's light well after I put the twins to bed.  I can head out for a bike ride or run after 8PM, get in some twilight gardening and do some many enjoyable things by the light of the day. 

 May the Blessing of the Light be upon you. Happy Solstice!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Making Peace with Pisgah

My "baptism" on Pisgah.

A year ago, almost to the day I was in peak trail running shape.  Hills didn't faze me, I could navigate technical trails by leaping over roots, rocks and logs.  I would power or scurry my way up hills and zig zag my way down as quickly as possible to make up for lost time and feel that rusht.  Navigating my way from one side of the stream to another with a long leap or by means of rock hopping was one of my favorite trail challenges.  I was a confident, fearless trail runner counting down the last few weeks before running my first 50K. 

Last June, I set off for a fifteen mile trail run on Mt. Pisgah.  It wasn't a long run.  It didn't include much in the way of hill climbs and was done at an easy pace.  Nonetheless, this was the run that has haunted me for the last year.  This is the run in which the terrain got the best of me and my body failed me.  It brought my running to a full halt for three months.  This is the run that caused me to DNS for the first time.  This is the run that broke my heart and shook me to the very core. 

For a year, I tried to shake these post-injury feelings that resembled Kubler-Ross' five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  I wanted to be over it.  I wrote and wrote about it.  I tried to run anyway, talk about it, cry about it, rage about it, accept it and take up new interests and challenges.  I took on the identity of injured runner and wore it like a child wears a band aid on a scratch that healed long ago.  I hated it, yet I couldn't give it up.  I was stuck.  Was this role serving me in some manner?  Could that be why I clung to it so mightily?  After a year, it was time for an exorcism.

I wanted to be free from my past injury and the grief surrounding it.  I wanted my confidence back.  I wanted to reclaim my identity as a runner.  The only thing I could think of that I hadn't yet done was to make peace with my nemesis, Mt. Pisgah.  I needed a catharsis.  I would need to let go of my fear, anger and sense of control and face this ominous place.  I couldn't take anyone with me.  This was something I needed to experience alone and on my own terms.

I set off for a trail run on Mt. Pisgah.  I took food, water, my camera and my dog.  I left behind my Garmin and any expectations of what distance, pace or length of time I would run.  Here is the story of my journey by way of the photographs I snapped along the way.  

Japhy, the best four-legged trail companion.

Quarry Road through the "swamp trail"

Always loved playing in the mud as a child...
and I still do today.

What can I say? I'm a dirty girl.
Dirty dog finds quiet stream for cooling and hydration.

Beautiful meadow under the sun and mostly blue skies

My huge playground. Which way shall I go?
Steam crossing!

Time to pay my respects to Trail 3.

Seems innocent enough...

Maybe a little foreboding...

Love the pastoral views through the oak savannah
One can see the whole city from here.

Quiet solitude. I was the only one on the trails this whole time.

Made it to the summit!

Those are the rocks that I landed on when I ruptured my PF.  No shadows or demons, just rocks. Reflect, release and move on.

It's time for some new trail adventures!
Follow that feather-tailed trail hound!

Made my peace with Pisgah, but perhaps more importantly, forgave myself and my body for getting hurt.

Short and sweet forested section.
Slow, careful descent through my favorite section of the trail. I call it the chapel.

Lupine and golden rod on the saddle.

This way to the river.  We are almost done.

Ice bath!

Japhy burns off some more of his limitless energy with a swim.
My lower body gets an "ice bath". Thank you legs and feet!
 I have no idea how far or how fast I ran.  That's not important.  I made peace with the rough, rocky and sometimes unforgiving Mt. Pisgah.  I realized she wasn't to blame.  My body had gotten worn down and tired.  It could have happened anywhere at anytime.  I forgave myself for any wrong doing, perhaps being arrogant, overly zealous or reckless in my training.  I forgave my body for having limits and requesting a break in the only way she knew how.  Today's trail baptism washed away the pain and gave me hope for a new beginning.  I remembered just how much I love spending time out on the trails.  It is my sanctuary and my playground.  Above all, it is my source of connection with the universe and my tiny place within its magnificence.  I am grateful.  I am a trail runner.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

25 Random Fitness Things

In the spirit of the facebook topic that caught on like wild fire a couple years ago, here are 25 random fitness things about me.

1.  I went to the store in my cycling jersey tonight and decided that if I could get away with it, I'd wear a cycling jersey on a regular basis.  I can easily stuff anything I need in my jersey pockets and carry on with my activities in a hands-free manner.  Brilliant!  The fashion world really needs to catch on to this.

2.  I stretch out after every workout be it a swim, bike, run or lifting session.  It never takes more than 5 minutes to cover the basics.  It became a habit after running with my marathon training group.

3.  The only electrolyte replacement drink that I like and drink is GuBrew.  I mix it at half strength so it's not too sweet or calorie rich.  My preferred Gu flavor is Vanilla, but I'll also eat Just Plain.  No other flavors will do.  I'm not too crazy about Chomps but I like Shot Blocs.  A wise woman advised me to cut those big Shot Blocs into quarters and they are much easier to chew up while running.

4.  When I became a runner, I decided I didn't like wearing underwear under my running pants, shorts or skirts and opted to go commando instead.  It was liberating!  Next thing I know, I'm going commando in my non-workout attire as well.  Look ma, no pantie lines or wedgies!

5.  I quit listening to my iPod while running after I was injured a year ago.  I felt iPods delivered unnecessary noise and distractions to what should be a mindful activity.  I'd rather be in tune with my body and listen to the sounds of nature and meditate while doing solo runs.  As much as I enjoy chatting away the miles with my running partner, running buddies and husband, I still need at least one or two solo workouts a week.  The solitude is good for my soul.

6.  I went from suffering through 5Ks to running half marathons, thanks to my friend Gloria who was my half marathon momma inspiration.  From there, I moved onto and grew to love marathon distance.  I skipped 10Ks altogether.  I've considered running one, but can't bring myself to running what seems like such a terrible distance. 

7.  My husband and I are avid readers and runners.  We have an entire shelf of books about running and regularly check out books about athletic endeavors.  Most of the DVDs that we own are sporty ones.  I can't tell you how many times we've seen Rocky, Pre, Prefontaine, Point Break or Saint Ralph.  What can I say? We're geeky jocks.  Oh, and I hate the movie "Chariots of Fire".  So boring!

8.  I love early morning workouts.  I prefer to start between 5:30 and 7:00 AM.  They energize me and set a positive tone for the day.  I like getting my workout out of the way and having the rest of the day to do what I want or need to do.  I tend to bail out on afternoon running or if I manage to do it, I more often than not feel sluggish, whiney and get queasy.  Biking and swimming in the afternoon doesn't seem to have that same effect on me.  Since my husband has a regimented training schedule as well, we have to jockey for that prime morning workout time.

9.  I record each and every workout in a spiral bound training log.  I find it helpful for troubleshooting aches, pains and changes in my energy and motivation.  It also helps me to know when I need to buy new shoes and remember courses/workouts I enjoyed.  I tend to round up on my mileage.

10.  My clothes horse ways has transferred into my running wardrobe.  I love workout attire!  Running and cycling in skirts are cute, comfortable and flattering.  I love wearing them.

11.  I have run three marathons.  Portland 2008, Eugene 2009 and Eugene 2010.  Portland will always be memorable because I found a dildo en route to the start line and it rained the entire four plus hours I ran.  My favorite marathon was Eugene 2009 because it was fun, easy and was run entirely with a buddy from my marathon training group.  I PRd with each subsequent marathon. 

12.  I have yet to DNF in a race, but the 50K that I DNSd still makes my heart ache.  I had trained hard and was prepared for the race but an injury prevented me from running it and running at all for 10 weeks. 

13.  Crossing the 8 mile mark for the first time was a huge running milestone for me.  I was so scared that I wouldn't be able to do it, that I took my cell phone with me and asked my husband to carry the home phone around with him in case I needed him to come pick me up in the car.

14.  On the above mentioned run, as I ran by Valley River Center Mall, I was tempted to skip the run in favor of getting cinnamon roll at Cinnabon and talking to my sister on the phone.  I decided against it because I knew my husband would be waiting for a full report on how my run went and I didn't want to have to lie to him or confess that I didn't run it.

15.  I have a terrible sense of direction.  On a 12 mile training run, I got lost and disoriented.  I went back and forth on the same section of the bike path three times and considered crossing Beltline Hwy to get on the correct side of town before calling my husband to get directions.

16.  I have a strong aversion to being winded and feeling discomfort and pain on speedy or hilly runs.  I'd rather suffer slightly for a long time than suffer dearly for a short time.

17.  I didn't get my first bike until I was 20 years-old.  It was a mountain bike that I still have today.  18 years later, I bought my second bike, a beautiful road bike.  Now I never ride my mountain bike because it is so clunky and slow.  I have my eyes on a cyclocross bike, a good mountain bike and a commuter bike with an expander for the kids to ride on.  I am shocked at how much I love cycling now that I have a decent bike.

18.  In my marathon training group, a nutritionist gave us a talk about fueling.  One thing that sunk in was that for maximum recovery benefit, one should refuel within 30 minutes of a workout.  I have adopted this a "rule" and immediately eat after workouts whether I'm hungry or not.

19.  My favorite recovery foods are dependent upon how hard and how long I work out.  For anything close to or over two hours I go for eggs.  Burrito Amigo breakfast burritos on my way home from the trails, juevos rancheros if I have the luxury of eating at a restaurant after a run/bike/event or a fried egg sandwich with veggie sausage or faken bacon if I eat at home.  Between one and two hour long workouts, I tend to go for smoothies.  My favorite is a chocolate soy milk, banana, strawberry.  For less than an hour long workout, I just eat my regular breakfast.

20.  I always drink coffee before running in the morning, but never drink coffee before swimming in the morning.  Interestingly, running seems to counteract the caffeine so I need to drink more coffee after my run.

21.  At the age of 38, I learned how to surf.  It was love at first shred.  I am completely outfitted to surf and thanks to my dad, I own three surfboards.  I check the surf reports at least on a weekly, but often daily basis, year round.  I haven't surfed since last September and I want to surf so badly I can taste it.  I am a total beginner and paddle around and wipe out more than ride waves, but I love it.

22.  My favorite distance to run is between eight and ten miles.  That is when the endorphins start kicking in.  The first mile and sometimes up to the first three miles, feel awkward and cumbersome, by mile three or four I loosen up and get into my running rhythm.  With eight to ten milers you don't have to worry too much about extra equipment, clothes, water or Gu, you can just enjoy the run. 

23.  Out of my gazillion race shirts, only two fit me well.  I am bitter about it.  I pay for these shirts and run these races but can't wear the shirts.  Why do they have to make/provide shirts for athletic people that are so flippin' huge? 

24.  My hips often get out alignment which results in one of my legs being longer than the other.  This in turn, leads to all sorts of butt, leg and foot issues if I don't correct it right away.  I require regular treatments from my chiropractor and/or my acupuncture/herbalist to keep my body "tuned-up"

25.  I connect and love my running friends dearly.  There is a special bond that comes with logging hours and hours worth of miles alongside someone.  My running partner Laura has a special place in my heart.  I am so glad that our paths crossed not just once, but twice two years ago.  I'm not sure where I would be if I didn't have such a compatible, fun person to run with.  

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Do NOT let me register for another event!

Less than a week ago I wrapped up my short and sweet triathlon season.  All week, I was talking about how relieved I was not to have another event on the schedule to train for.  It was time to finally give my house that deep cleaning that it desperately needed, to tackle the jungle that once was my tended yard, to do some home improvement projects and dig into the stack of books that have been collecting dust.  I have a life outside of my training schedule y'know!  My travel plans, surfing, kid activities and summer life are full enough without throwing a regimented exercise routine into the mix.  Yes, it was time to loosen up.  Exercise when I wanted to, however long I wanted to and with whomever I wanted to.  Ah, it was going to be beautiful.

Then last night it all changed.  I looked at my training log and here's what I saw for last week:

Monday: HOV Sprint Tri
Tuesday: 4 mile run
Wednesday: bailed out on swim plans
Thursday: bailed out on run plans
Friday: 750 meter swim & bailed out on weight training
Saturday: 5 mile/1-1/2 hour trail run with 25 minutes worth of breaks

Ack! I'm lazy! Three tiny workouts in?  I've gotta make up for it immediately!  Surely, I'm going to lose all my fitness, pack on the pounds and become accustomed to slovenly ways.  Is it possible to just do what I want, when I want fitness-wise without a culminating event?  Perhaps I'm hooked on the excitement and resulting rush of events?  Whatever it is, much like an addict jonesing for her next fix, I found myself searching around for an event to register and train for.  My next one isn't until August 14th and it's only a 45 mile winery bike ride.  That hardly counts.  After that it's Hood to Coast August 26 through August 27.  For that I only need to be half marathon ready.  No, that wasn't enough.  I needed something bigger, more challenging, more risky!  September 11th's Warrior Dash?  Nope, not quite.  Cal International Marathon on December 4th's?  Now we're talking! Seriously, what turned me into this event clucker?

Why can't I throw myself at other tasks this way?  I wish I could register and train for an event that would end with a clean, clutter free home, an organized garage, freshly painted walls, or a tidy, planted and tended yard.  Perhaps then I'd actually do the steps little by little, as I do with my marathon or triathlon training to achieve the desired result?  I am a procrastinator.  I need structure, deadlines, threatening late notices and reminder calls to get things done.  So here's my latest throw down.  I forbid myself to register for another event until I have a good number of things crossed off the to-do list that I've been burdened by, feeling guilty about and not getting anywhere on for way too many months (years?) than I care to admit. This rule starts just as soon as I find a 5K to run really fast this summer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Heart of the Valley Sprint Triathlon Race Report

My pre-race jitters on steroids nearly vanished during our 45 minute drive to Corvallis.  I had done a triathlon before.  I knew how they were set up, how they would unfold and how nice tri folks were.  As an added bonus, my friend Tanya, would be doing this race with me and my family was there to support and cheer me on.  A PR would be nice, but it certainly wasn't necessary considering how much more challenging HOV bike course is compared to Albany. 

Checking in, getting marked, setting up my transition area and scoping out where I would mount/dismount my bike and run was a breeze this time around.  The folks ran a very organized well staffed event.  It was nice having that first time under my belt but I did worry that since it felt so easy, maybe I was overlooking something.  I kept mentally going through my steps at T1 and T2 until I was confident that I knew what to do and when to do it.
Thanks Cindi for this wonderful gift of a "chip strap"! Much more comfortable and stylish than the race issued neon orange plastic anklet. Super easy to use. Stayed securely fastened for duration of event.

Another handy dandy contraption, compliments of Cindi. This is a bib number belt. No lop sided big # or having to re-pin bib on when you change shirts.
Racks were numbered this time!  Yay, I wouldn't lose my bike!
My transition area. Pink scarf to help me quickly spot my place. 
Our transition areas were all set up. These Tri Mommas were ready for action!
After swimming two to three times a week for several months, I felt prepared.  I regularly swim between 800 and 1500 meters, so a 750 meter swim didn't feel like much of a stretch.  I would share my lane with five other swimmers.  I was in the first wave.  This is good because I wouldn't have to wait around and get nervous.  My lap mates were all women.  They were all friendly and chatty.  We were allowed to warm up.  I was more concerned with making sure my goggles were leak-proof and my swim cap wasn't going to spring air pockets.  I swam a little ways for good measure but not the entire length like several participants.  I wanted to save my energy.

Before I knew it, the wave started!  I was third in our group.  Since I had gone out too fast at my last tri, I wanted to stay nice and steady this time around.  I had a really hard time finding my rhythm.  Breathing was a struggle and the lack of oxygen made me fatigue easily.  The water was splashing and churning.  I swallowed a huge mouthful of it, but somehow managed not to choke.  I was weaving around a bit and kept banging my right elbow on the lane divider.  

My lap mates and I were seeded properly which kept us from feeling crowded.  My foot was tapped once and I let Nikki pass me, but other than that I held my ground.  I had no idea how fast or slow I was swimming.  I just kept with it.  I could hear my husband cheering me on.  It was reassuring and helped me to finally find my rhythm and not feel like I was going to die out there for the last third of the swim.  I still had an 11 mile hilly bike and a 5K run left and I was pooped!  I was thrilled to see the sign that I had only one length to go and sprinted to the end before jumping out of the pool.  I passed my goggles and cap to my husband and ran as fast as I could in my barefoot, lightheaded state to my transition area.  I was SO glad the swim was over! The rest of this event would be a piece of cake.  I somehow managed to swim three minutes slower this time around than I did for my first tri.  I was a bit disappointed about my 19:25 time. 

All dressed up and three places to go.
I love the perspective of this picture. We all look so tiny compared to the enormous pool. 
I LOVE the bike portion of triathlons.  It feels like a break.  I get to breathe, hydrate, fuel and get off my feet for a while.  I love the climbs, sprints and especially the speedy descents.  I dried off, put on my cycling shoes,  shirt, sunglasses and helmet, grabbed a swig of GuBrew and took off jogging with my bike to the bike mount area.  It took me 2:35 minutes.  I was really pleased with this T1 time.

The course was clearly marked.  I was always within sight of fellow riders.  Nikki from the pool caught up with me and complimented me on my swim.  We chatted for a bit and then she passed me going up a hill.  This course reminds me of one of my favorite places, McKenzie View Drive to cycle in Eugene.  The rolling hills were challenging but fun.  My speeds ranged from a slow 9 MPH during a climb to 34 MPH while flying down the hills.  Once again, I longed for a set of aerobars.  Going up the hills, I gave myself pep talks:  You can do it!  You love this!  Come on bitch!  Push it!  I was working out there.  My legs felt great but those hills sure got my heart rate and breathing up.

The sky opened up and rained on me for the last 4 miles.  Rain came down sideways due to the winds.  I was worried it might start hailing.  I even heard a crackle of thunder.  The riders were so nice.  We would pass and be passed, but still encourage the others along.  I kept meeting up with Julianne.  She would pass me.  I'd pass her.  She'd pass me.  I'd pass her.  It became a bit of a joke between the two of us.  I was almost sad to see the bike ride come to an end, but was jazzed about getting out there and running.  My legs still felt good.  I was almost done and everything was going so smoothly.  YAY!  Turns out that I was nearly 3-1/2 minutes faster on this ride than I was on Tri #1!  At 44:25, I had a new sprint tri cycling PR!

Here I am coming down the homestretch with Julianne. (Photo courtesy of Sabrina Toro)
It took me 1:36 from the time I dismounted my bike to the time that I was out running.  All I had to do was take my helmet and sunglasses off, change me shoes (thank goodness for lock laces!), pull on my bib belt, hat and Garmin and off I went.  Other than the Garmin being slow to locate satellites, it was a smooth transition.  Geez, I LOVE the way my legs feel when I go from bike to run.  I have a fabulous turn-over that keeps my speed up.  Julianne and I ran the entire 5K together.  It was great having the company to make those three miles seem less painful and go by quicker.  She really helped me keep up my speed.  Something was off with my stomach.  All the GuBrew that I consumed during the bike ride, sloshed around in my belly the entire run.  It felt weird.  Body felt fabulous, breathing was under control but I had to will away the stomach cramps.  Halfway through the run, my husband and daughters appeared on the course.  What a sight!  Steve announced that I was going to have a huge PR.  That perked me up and helped me continue to give it my all.  The final 400 meters was on the track.  Running through that finishers chute never loses its magic.  I had done it!  Not only had I PR'd for the whole tri but I had a new 5K PR!  I had run that sucker in 24:22 or 8:05 pace after swimming a half-mile and biking 11 miles.  Wahoo!
Learning I was going to PR.
Coming down the home stretch (photo courtesy of Sabrina Toro)
Coming out of the finishers chute (photo courtesy of Sabrina Toro)
As if this wasn't enough to be over the moon about, I got to see my rock star friend Tanya wrap up her first triathlon.  It brought tears to my eyes seeing her strength and determination as she came down the finish.  I was so proud of her.  This woman just started running a year ago, started swimming six months ago and road cycling weeks ago.  It was just awesome to see her take on this challenge and nail it.  She's amazing.  I can't wait to see what she'll do next.

Tanya and I with our post-race tri high glow
Pure unadulterated digits:
Swim: 19:25
T1:  2:35+
Bike:  44:25+
T2:  1:36+
Run:  24:22+
TOTAL: 1:32:21+

+:indicates PR :-)

My cheerleaders and support crew.  I couldn't do it without you!