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Race Report: Ironman Florida 70.3, Haines City, May 19th, 2013

20 May

It is the morning after. I am race drunk so forgive me if this post doesn’t quite scan.

I got up to Haines City on Friday evening with I Am a Triathlete and her BF, El Dude, who had been charged with the duty of shuttling us around all weekend because he wasn’t racing. We ate muffins on the ride up. I made them. They were vegan. A Morning Glory muffin and a coffee cake muffin. They were both delish. We also stopped at a Panera Bread for lunch. I was not impressed. At any rate….

We went to athlete check-in after dropping our crap at the Days Inn Davenport which was a step above “Flea Bag” and a step below “Comfortable.” Check-in was a breeze so I won’t say too much about it. Finding dinner was a nightmare. But I won’t say much about that either. Ultimately, we ended up at a pizza place owned and operated by a French family from Marseille. How they ended up in central Florida I have no idea but the pizza and the service were both lovely so it was a win.

We took it easy Friday night and then on Saturday, IAAT and I went out for a pre-race bike/run brick out behind the hotel where there was a quarter-mile stretch of frontage road, along with an RV park and a KOA, both of which had awesome paved paths and some rolling terrain that gave us a little bit of a preview of what the race course was going to be like.

After that, we went and toured the race course. But not before we ran out of gas on the way there and had to coast into a parking lot, send the Dude to get gas from a station half a mile away, and kill half an hour in a Beall’s. I bought two ridiculous t-shirts for the Chef and used a bathroom that I wish I could erase from my memory.

We drove the bike course and then we found a place for lunch: Luigi’s in nearby Lake Alfred. I never, NEVER have pasta the day before a race but IAAT always has it for lunch the day before and we were sorta straddling lunch and dinner so I figured it’d be OK if I kept it plain. Luigi was actually in the kitchen and Luigi can actually churn out pretty solid Italian dishes. But someone needs to proof read his menu because in addition to overflowing with spelling errors and typos, it also says nothing about pancetta in the pasta that I ordered. So I actually had to send it back to the kitchen–I never do this. Unfortunately, it was too delicious for a pre-race meal. They were totally cool about it though and even let me keep the first pasta. I gave it to Frank DiPadova who was back at the hotel.

This is getting long.

OK. Pasta dinner, hung with teammates back at the hotel, in bed by 8PM, asleep around 10, UP AT 3:30AM! Time to race!

I want to say something though, before leaping into the actual report, because I think it’s important to be totally honest in detailing my experiences. It’s not always going to be PRs and podiums and positive thoughts. Sometimes your mind rebells but your body comes through or your body falls short but your mind saves the day. And sometimes, both your body and your mind decide they’ve had enough and you’re left with the check.

I’d been having a hard time gearing up for this race mentally. I thought it was just me so I was really happy when IAAT said she’d been having similar issues. We’d both been SO excited for Augusta (our first 70.3) and so committed to the experience that the build-up to Haines City was starting to feel like a real let-down. I guess that makes sense because the first time is always something special but for me, there were multiple factors contributing to my mixed emotions.

  1. My life has filled up with other priorities over the last few months–during the highest volume phases of our training for this race. That is not to say that I didn’t train– I TOTALLY TRAINED–but rather that while my body was engaged, my mind was often elsewhere.
  2. Nautica was my spring A-race. I wanted to kill Nautica so I tried to kill it and I killed it. I knew I wasn’t going to place at a 70.3. So HC became about finishing strong as opposed to really racing. Since I’d already done one 70.3, and I thought I knew what to expect, I coasted a bit. Dumb.
  3. Because I coasted, I got lazy with my diet. When I get lazy with my diet, I stop feeling like an athlete and start feeling like a fat-ass.
  4. During a training swim on Thursday, I felt overwhelmingly fatigued and like I couldn’t catch my breath. That messed with my brain.
  5. On Saturday morning, I read an article in the free newspaper at the hotel about triathlon swimming deaths. I kid you not. It was right fucking there. And the main idea of the article was that when people die in triathlons, it’s almost always during the swim and the people who die are almost always seasoned vets with no signs of existing health issues. I should not have read that article. But I did. Twice. IDIOT.
  6. On Saturday afternoon, the temperature was hovering in the low 90s and the humidity was intense. We were anticipating a real scorcher on Sunday and that freaked me out. Even though I’d put a lot of work into my hydration plan, I was still freaked out about the possibility of the heat being too much.

So IAAT and I were working overtime trying to psych ourselves up for this race and nothing was really helping. And it’s one thing to be sorta not looking forward to a sprint or even an olympic because you’re talking about a three-hour commitment, max and if you’ve done your training, making it through isn’t that hard.  But not looking forward to a 70.3 is a different story because even if your body is game, it’s your mind that’s gonna get you. You have got to be mentally committed to 5-7 hours on the course and if you’re not, fuggedaboutit. You’re toast.

So on Sunday morning, I woke up and was like, “OK fuck it, ya’ll! It’s race day. Let’s do this.” In a way, being less than excited was kind of a good thing because I was really relaxed. I had goals but they were manageable goals. After crunching the numbers, I figured I could probably make 5:49 happen, which was aggressive enough to mean a 70.3 PR but totally realistic based on my recent training times. Honestly, I really just wanted to do a sub-6. I’d have been happy with that. So the pressure was kind of off and the stakes were low.

I set up in transition quickly, hit the potty and was in good spirits. I was psyched about an early wave time (6:50AM), which meant that, if all went well, I’d be done with this thing before the heat got too intense. Luckily, the weather broke a little and temps were expected to hover in the high 70s until around 10AM and then it was only going to top out in the mid 80s so my run might not be horrendous.

We walked down to the lake shore and chatted with some friends and I really was feeling great. Then something terrible happened: I got into the water. This is a picture of the lake from afar:

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This is a picture of Lake Eva taken underwater:

death by water Toni Frissell

OK, not really. But that’s certainly what it felt like. First off, when we stepped into the lake, our legs sunk into about two feet of soft sludge. Secondly, when I put my face underwater for the first time, I was dismayed to discover what I’m pretty sure death looks like. I MEAN IT WAS PITCH FRIGGIN’ BLACK. The Ironman website boasts that the water in Lake Eva is “clear.” This is a lie. Thirdly, the water tasted HORRIBLE. No, I wasn’t drinking it on purpose but during my warmup, I got a little of it in my mouth and it was bad, people. Like, “I need to call my doctor for a preemptive Z-Pack” bad.

And then of course there’s the fact about ALL fresh water that you’re significantly less buoyant in it. I knew that was coming but I don’t think I quite understood how major a difference it was going to make for me after doing all my OWSs in the ocean.

So I’m standing waist deep in this disgusting, stinking muck, I have that article about swim deaths rolling around in my brain, I  have Thursday’s crappy training session at the forefront of my memory and the notion of this being just the beginning of a six-hour epic; and then I finally take a real good hard look at how long the course is–I take in all the turns (6 of them) and all the buoys (I don’t even remember how many) and the reality of it all sinks in. Then the gun goes off and chaos ensues.

HC was my 13th triathlon so at this point I know what the swim start is all about. This one was something special. Bitches were out of their minds! And I was totally mid-pack, probably closer to back of the pack. Yet, I was still getting elbowed, slapped, swum over, etc… Basically, as soon as I started to swim, I panicked. I don’t even think I panicked during my very first tri swim and back then I COUDLN’T SWIM. Plus, I’ve been having such a GREAT time during swim starts recently and have been having such great swims. I was totally not prepared to freak out but I did. Complete melt down.

So I start to breast stroke because at least I’ll be moving forward and I get like 200 meters in and my mind starts to rebell. It says: “We can’t do this, Edith. The task ahead of us is just too fucking enormous.” And my mind is only referencing the swim. Not the bike and run that were to follow. I tried to swim a little freestyle but I couldn’t catch my breath. So again my mind starts in with the nonsense: “Shit, are we having a heart attack? A pulmonary embolism? Is there an alligator down there about to throw us into a death roll? What the fuck is happening?”

Finally I  have a chat with my mind. I say, “Mind, quit it. You know our body has the endurance for this. Just let our body start swimming.”

So I start swimming. I made it to the first turnaround but I was still couldn’t get my breathing in order. I was only able to swim a couple hundred meters before I had to stop and collect myself. And then I started to cramp up. First in the right side, then in the left. I knew that in order to make it through this one, I was going to have to give myself a break. I literally went buoy to buoy for 1200 meters. Did whatever I needed to do to keep moving forward and stay calm and not make the cramps any worse. Dudes from the next few swim waves started passing me and that’s when shit got even more frantic. This was a crazy, CRAZY swim, people. The way the course is organized makes for massive traffic jams at several points and it just seemed like people were trying to get out of that water as quickly as possible with no regard for anyone else in the mix.

In the final straight away, with the exit chute still far off but in sight, I got into some kind of zone and was able to swim despite the cramping. I knew my time was gonna be bunk but I just didn’t care. Oddly enough, I came in at 49 minutes and change and I’d allowed myself 50 minutes after looking at last year’s times so I was on track. But it was still a piss poor showing and I know I could have done better. At least I wasn’t sucked down into the muck.

I feel like there’s not much else to say about this race. The bike was pretty enjoyable and the temperature was perfect. Little headwind in a few spots but I felt good throughout. I took only Perform on the bike. Oh and salt tabs. Those set me up nicely for the run. But it was starting to heat up right at the end and the last six miles were by far the hardest. Despite taking in ample calories and plenty of fluids, I could feel a bonk coming on and I really wanted to be on my feet. So I cranked it out and finished the bike in under 3 hours, which had been my goal.

The run course is three loops around the lake. A little over 4 miles per loop. There is a gigantor hill in the first mile of the run. Oh and of course in the 5th and 9th miles as well. My legs felt good getting off the bike but I definitely went out a little fast. The hill was actually helpful in getting me to back off a bit. There were aid stations about every mile and I stopped at almost every single one. Filled my hat with ice, poured water all over myself, took Gatorade, water, some flat Coke, you name it, if it was a fluid, it went in me or on me. Some lovely people were out on their lawns with sprinklers and hoses going. That was nice.

The first loop was definitely the most challenging. By the midpoint of loop 2, I’d gotten into a groove and was holding my pace between 8:20 and 9ish depending on the terrain. I am proud to say that hill never broke me. I ran up all three times. But the heat was not fun. People were definitely suffering and it was not getting any cooler the longer I was out there. I did my best to pick up the pace on the descents and try to make as much use of the flats as possible but all that thick air made had my HR way high. I knew if I held where I was, I’d run a sub-2 and not finish in a faint.

So I played it safe and kicked it into gear at the finish. I got through the finish line feeling pretty good all things considered. But here’s the kicker, according to my Garmin and the race clock, I finished in 5:47 and some change. However, my fucking timing chip was busted. Or so they told me after the race when I realized I had no splits and no cumulative time. Those of you who know me know me as someone to whom times are important so this is a huge bummer. Mainly because this was a PR on a challenging course under some harsh conditions and I want it on record that I raced and finished sub-6.

I mean, look, at the end of the day, I did what I showed up to do. I actually finished 2 minutes faster than anticipated (I think). And I guess it only matters that I know that and I feel good about my performance.

Oh bullshit. I want my damned finishing time. I have an email out to the race director. I’ll let you know what happens.

It was a good experience regardless of the mental drama. IAAT finished with a smile on her face, feeling victorious. We managed to get a shower in back at the hotel before hitting the road. Overall, I feel OK today. I’m definitely sore but not unbearably so. I’m considering doing a sprint next Sunday, just so I can get one last race in before leaving for the summer. It’s a lake swim and even though it’s just 400 meters, I kinda feel like I need to redeem myself.

Addendum: 6:52PM–Just got word that they found my official finish time and luckily, it jives with what my Garmin said. 5:47:13. That’s 00:05:53 faster than my Augusta time and almost two minutes faster than my goal so I’m pretty happy. Of course, knowing that it could have easily been 8 minutes better had I not wigged on the swim makes me pretty annoyed but that’s my damage. I ended up 17/62 in my AG.

Race Report: Nautica Classic, SoBe, April 7th, 2013

9 Apr

 

 

 

 

The Nautica South Beach Triathlon was yesterday! Look at glamorous Ocean Drive all lit up and glamorous looking at 5:30 in the AM on a Sunday, when most people on SoBe are just getting out of the bars and stumbling into cabs and heading home to fall into bed until 2 in the afternoon. Not us triathletes! We were just getting started. Jacked up on caffeine and pre-race nerves.

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A small bit of the Nautica transition area on Sunday April 7th, 2013. Way too early in the AM.

Nautica is a big team race for Alien Endurance. This year we had over 60 athletes competing, some of them for the very first time. It’s a big race with a good pro showing and amateur athletes coming from all over the place.

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Our Nautica 2013 class picture!

The temps started in the high 60s and got up into the low 80s by race-end. Few clouds, blue skies, very little wind. On the whole, favorable race day conditions. There was some chop on the water and some decent sized rollers to contend with on the way out. But the current was actually in our favor, I think, and the water was blue blue blue!

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Not the crystal clear blue lagoon-flat super swim of last year but still pretty nice.

My original goal had been to finish in sub-2 (last year’s time was 2:04:57) and eek my way into the top 10 of my age group. Then the commander threw down the gauntlet last week and challenged me to a bet. He set a goal time and if I beat it, he’d owe the team breakfast during one of our M/W weight training sessions. If I lost the bet, I would provide homemade donuts. I’ve always wanted to make donuts so this seemed a win-win for me. Still, my pride was on the line.

The damned goal time was uber-agressive. 1:49 on the nose. His splits for me: 18 min swim, 2 min T1, 58 bike, 2 min T2, 29 min run. For the first time ever, I felt confident with the swim estimate. The bike, I thought, was iffy and I was actually pretty nervous about hitting that run in under 30. But I was like, “Shit, if he really thinks this is possible, then maybe I set my goals too low originally.”

I had a couple days to obsess over this before the race so I took the opportunity to scrutinize recent time trials and race finishes. It started to look possible but off by about two minutes, which is actually quite a bit. But I decided to commit to the time and start visualizing. So on all my runs (because I can’t visualize shit in the pool and visualizing during a bike is dangerous) I pictured myself crossing the finish line not just in the time allotted, but crossing as a winner.

And then I did a stupid thing the day before the race and I looked at last year’s results in my new age group. Based on those times, I knew that if I hit the goal, I actually would place. This seemed absurd to me. Nautica is a huge race and the field is competitive and people come from everywhere to do it and who the hell was I to think I could get my ass on the podium?

All of this thinking started making me very nervous. Suddenly there were stakes. Last year, there were stakes but they were basically about not drowning on the swim. Somehow, the thought of performing badly now trumps the fear of drowning. Shows you where my priorities are. At any rate, last year I had no base-line. Any finish was a PR. This year, I actually had something to prove; a time to beat; and a bet to win.

My way of dealing with nerves is to get very quite and go inside myself. I think I was a bitch before the race yesterday morning and if you and I crossed paths and I was anything but gracious and pleasant to you, I apologize. I am on a big team and we were all racked together and everyone was chatting but I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to answer anyone’s questions. I just wanted to be alone. When I was nervous before a fight (which was ALWAYS), I would shadow box and listen to music. Now, before races, I’ve learned that pacing transition and listening to music helps. So I put on my headphones and walked the path from swim out to bike out, mentally marking my racking area so I’d be sure not to miss it during T1.  I drank some water and then we took some team photos and then it was time to leave transition and head to the beach.

I confided to one of my closest friends on the team that I felt like I was being a bitch because I didn’t want to talk to anyone and she said she understood. “What are you going to talk about?” She asked. “What nice swim cap colors they gave us? Do your thing. Get into your zone.” See below, how everyone else looks happy and carefree and I look like I’m about to kill someone?

pre race edith intense

After this picture, I decided that I should relax a little and smile and realize that I’d been training for this and that training is part of it and I love training and I love racing and I’m very lucky to be out here on this beautiful day doing this thing that I love with both arms and both legs and all these great people and I just needed to stop taking myself so seriously and yada yada yada.

OK. Then I got into the water and splashed around for a little bit. By then, the early waves were going off and before long it was my turn to line up with the other gold caps.

The swim felt great. I can’t believe I just wrote that.  Getting out to the first buoy was a little challenging but it’s always a little challenging so this didn’t feel any different. I’ve come to realize that there’s something about the frenzy of the swim start that I absolutely adore. The chaos of it all gets me really jazzed. Instead of going into flight mode, I go into fight mode and now that I can actually swim, I love jumping into the washing machine and then getting out of it quickly while everyone else is flailing around.

Edith Swim End

I sighted a lot yesterday and was really happy to discover that I was always on course. Also, for the first time ever, I was passing swim caps from the waves that had gone off before me. Sweet.

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I swallowed a lot of water on this swim because I’m still not breathing bilaterally but I made it in almost EXACTLY 18 minutes. 18:17 to be exact.

Edith swim out 2

Strippin’!

Edith swim out 3

As transitions runs go, Nautica’s is long and mostly through sand. Then, because of my racking position, I had to make it through pretty much the entire transition area before I hit my bike and, even though I’d spent ten minutes before the race marking my spot, I still managed to miss it by one row. I wasted about 15 seconds in T1 and that sucked. Lucky for me, one of my teammates was right there and we were racked right next to each other so she did me a solid and got me on track. After that, it was smooth sailing out onto the bike course.

The bike course takes you out over the McArthur causeway, into and north through downtown, over the Julia Tuttle and then back. There are a few climbs (by Miami standards, anyway) but that means there are also some swift downhills. I cranked it on the way up and I cranked it on the way down. Because I knew I could. It was awesome. At one point, with the wind behind me on a downhill, I went into aero and clocked over 30mph. I used as much of that momentum as possible and managed to cruise 26mph on a flat for a couple of miles. At the turnaround, I checked my time and knew I was on track to finish in 58 minutes. But I told myself to stay in the moment and do what I was doing without thinking too far ahead. Based on the conditions going out, I was pretty sure I’d hit some wind on the way back so I was trying not to get too excited about my pace.

There was another girl in my AG who I kept trading places with on the bike. She was awesome. We threw a couple words of encouragement at each other.  At one point, she was right in front of me and I saw her rubbing her calf so I thought she was cramping and I might be able to overtake her. I passed and she yelled, “Go get those boys!” I said I would. Then a minute later, she was passing me again. “You can draft off me,” she screamed. “I won’t tell anyone.” We were right on top of each other for a few miles but she dropped me going back over the McArthur. I kept her in my sights for a while but eventually lost her going into a headwind. I figured she was maybe a minute or so ahead of me and thought I’d be able to make up on the run if her legs were as tired as they looked. I never saw her again but I thank her for the push. I finished the bike in 56:39. 1 minute, 21 seconds under my goal and with a super PR for that course.

T2 was uneventful. I got into my shoes, grabbed my race belt, threw on my cap and sped off. I’d taken about 210 calories on the bike (3 scoops of Ironman Perform in my water–no more gels on the bike, just liquid) the majority of which I’d consumed during the first 2/3 of the ride. I was ready for more carbs as soon as I hit my feet so I dropped one caffeinated Powerbar chocolate gel immediately and then took in a couple ounces of plain water at the first aid station.

As soon as I got out of transition, one of my teammates who wasn’t racing was there screaming at me to go faster. “Faster Edith, run faster! Let’s get on the podium! Come on, you can do better than that.” And while I appreciated her words of encouragement, there were sort of ill timed. Like, maybe scream that at me on mile 3 when I need a push or in the homestretch. Not right after I’ve dismounted and am trying to get my legs back.

And of course she had to use that word. Podium. I didn’t want to think “podium.” I wanted to think “time.” Just get in under the allotted time, Edith, and the rest is gravy.” But right off the bat, I was feeling like the run wasn’t going to happen. To make 29 minutes, I was going to have to hit a 7:15 average, which is my best 5K pace and this run is 4 miles, not 3.1. I started off at 7:30 with very tired legs. My breathing was labored too so I kicked into some 3-2 rhythmic breathing (I’ve been working on this during training and it’s amazingly helpful) until I got my legs back and then I just let my breath happen the way it happens.

Still though, this run felt hard. In fact, the last two tri runs have felt hard. I can only attribute that to the fact I’m now pushing harder on both the swim and the bike.I’m making bigger gains in the first two legs, but I haven’t yet figured out to put together the full race given the new efforts. I had a feeling this was going to happen this season and my runs are still faster so it’s all good. Just something else to work on. At any rate, yeah, the run was a challenge. I was a little crampy on my right side and I couldn’t quite shake the leg fatigue. I had my best mile between 2 and 3, when the caffeine in the gel started to kick in and I actually got a surge of runners high. My time dipped down to 7:08 for a bit and I got hopeful. I passed some lady who called out, “Great pace, girl! GREAT PACE!” And then some spectator yelled my number and said I was looking awesome. I felt like if I could hold onto the surge, I might be able to dip down to 7:00 and come in just under the wire. But it was not to be. My run time, when all was said and done, was 30:46. Almost a full two minutes over the goal. Oh well.

I crossed the finish line feeling victorious but spent (the way it should be) and looked down at my Garmin. My heart sank. 1:50:07. The official time was 1:50:04 but still. 1 minute and 4 seconds off the damned goal. I owed donuts. There was no wiggle room.

Edith Hans middle finger

Me giving the coach the finger for setting a ridiculous goal time. In good spirits, of course.

It took the officials like AN HOUR to post the women’s classic results. And, of course, until they did I was doing my normal, “I know I should be happy about this and yet I’m not” routine. At that point, I knew that I’d shaved 15 minutes off my time from last year and had killed the bike but I still felt like I’d fallen short. I was desperately trying not to wear that feeling on my face as my teammates were finishing and all-smiles and congratulating each other and asking how the race went, etc…  Some of my people were racing for the first time or racing Nautica for the first time and I am tired of being the asshole who’s only thinking of herself after a race. I did my best but change is difficult. Baby steps.

post race happy team

Here’s one where we all look pretty happy. Kristin, the gal in pink, had the 2nd fastest overall women’s swim time!

I wasn’t the only one who was anxious for results. We were all milling around the board for a while. The organizers had tried to do right by mounting several Ipads in the sand so folks could search themselves but apparently, someone hacked the event wifi and that screwed everything up. After what felt like an eternity, we finally managed to get online and get our splits. And that’s when I stopped complaining.

I placed. At Nautica. I placed third AG.

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My bronze medal!

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On the podium at Nautica!

So now I’m over the moon, right? Because last year I was 16th in my age group and this year I’m third and I totally surpassed my top 10 goal. Also, I have no idea what my overall women’s placement was in 2012, but in 2013 I was 11th. I’m sad that I missed out on top-10 overall by a matter of seconds but I’ll take 11th in that field of super strong ladies! In terms of the overall race, I was 136th this year out of approximately 2600 finishers. Last year I think I was 535th. So I’m moving on up. And actually, moving on up quickly.

Because it turns out that I wasn’t 3rd: I was 2nd! The results were wrong when they first posted. The woman who was listed as 1st had no bike or T2 split and I had beaten both her her swim and run times by a wide margin. By Monday morning she’d dropped off the leader board and I was in 2nd place.

I was happy with third. I’m even happier with 2nd. 😉

Coach Frank made me this because he is awesome and I was bummed about the missed photo op.

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Of course I’ve still found a way to be disappointed in my time. Why not, right? If I’d come in as anticipated, I’d have won the fucker. If, if, if. All I can do now is savor the moment for another few and then keep pushing on towards Haines City on May 19th. That will be a very different race with very different goals but I’m psyched for my 2nd 70.3. Life is sweet right now.

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The team again, getting loose way too early in the morning.

I continue to find irony in the fact that I have always preferred individual sports to team sports and yet, I choose to participate in solo sports with a team behind me. When I boxed, I had the girls of Team Freeform and the amazing Lee Shabaka pushing me through walls that I didn’t even know existed. Now I have all these fantastic Aliens and rock-star Coach Andy Clark helping me to realize what it possible out there on the course. Sure, I was alone out there repeating phrases like, “You want this bad, you want this bad,” and “you’re a champion, you’re a champion” and my ultimate favorite, “No excuses, no regrets,” but every time I saw an Alien uniform along the way, I pushed harder.

Even during those moments when we want to be alone, we are comfortable in our solitude because we know, on some level, that it will come to and end. Then we will return to our people and be embraced.

Edith Ale hug

Getting a big hug from Coach Ale, who I’ve been trying to catch up to for over a year now.

To everyone who raced Sunday, congrats on a fantastic swim, bike, run. Now, what’s next?

Photos Courtesy of Andy Clark

Race Report: 2575 Triathlon, Fort Lauderdale, March 17th, 2013

18 Mar

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As the above picture illustrates beautifully, the race yesterday was an awesome way to open the season. This is my third 2575 event and my third time on the podium. What made yesterday even sweeter, however, was the move from 3rd place to second and the fact that I finished 14 minutes ahead of last year. Fourteen minutes??!? Granted, the course was different: the first two 2575 races were held in my backyard on Key Biscayne. This year, because of the construction mess on the causeway, all of our KB races have had to change venue to one degree or another. So 2575 moved north to Fort Lauderdale to a very flat, very fast and relatively scenic course right along the beach.

The race was also bigger this year. The last two times, I don’t think there were any more than a few hundred athletes but this year the race sold out it’s max capacity of 500. I don’t actually think there were 500 people on the course. Looking through the results (which is what I’ve been doing for the last two hours) it seems like the field was closer to 350-400 people. But I can’t tell exactly.

In terms of conditions, it was a pretty perfect day. Cool in the morning, a little bit overcast with wind out of the Northwest. The swim was northbound with the current and it was wet suit legal so it was bound to be fast. But historically speaking, none of those bonus conditions that tend to make everybody else super happy have ever had any effect on me (with the exception of Augusta) during the swim. I’ve always just sorta suffered no matter what. Yesterday things changed.

I had the race swim I’ve been waiting to have for the last year and a half. I came in 2+ minutes under my estimate, which one could attribute to the current. But the good thing about race conditions is that they’re the same for everyone on the course. So if the swim is fast, it’s fast for the fastest swimmers and the slowest. If the current is against you, it’s also against the former all-state freestyle champ swimming 2 minutes ahead of you. Yesterday, I was less than a minute behind one of the strongest swimmers on my team and neck-and-neck with another teammate who is male and 22 years old and absurdly fit. So good conditions, bad conditions, my swimming has improved.

Our wave was the largest. They put all age group women in with all the men 25 and under and all the men 50 and over. So it was a friggin’ washing machine in there. And not just at the start. It was legs and arms and elbows and people gasping for breath and frog kicking and backstroking into you for the whole swim. And yet somehow, I was able to come out of the water  in the top 3rd of my AG as opposed to the bottom third like normal. When I came into transition, my bike wasn’t the only one left. Regardless of the way the waves are staggered, that is still a huge psychological bonus.

For the first time ever, I swam the whole distance freestyle without having to breast stroke or roll over on my back for recovery. I was able to swim through the fatigue in my shoulders and I had complete control over my breathing. The hardest part was heading back to shore after the last buoy because at that point the current was working against me as I tried to aim straight for the swim-out chute. I made it though and was psyched when I looked at my watch. Not only psyched, actually, a little shocked.

Of course, I got out of the water and immediately had to run across 100 meters of loose beach sand while trying to strip out of my soggy wetsuit and catch my breath. Fun fun fun. But I felt pretty fantastic all things considered and ready to see what I could do on the bike. This was my first race on Starbuck and my first race since I started doing the high intensity training.

I’m not going to go into great detail about the bike mostly because I was disappointed with my performance. But only after the fact. Because that’s my MO. I’d been aggressive with my estimate the night before because, well, because I feel like it’s time to start setting more challenging goals for myself. Goals that are not totally delusional but also not totally wimpy. I figured the course was so flat, I could probably get a 20mph avg. I didn’t really account for the twisty-ness of the course. It was two loops, so already we’re dealing with multiple u-turns and then a couple of right and left turns that slowed things down considerably and then there was the headwind on the way back. So I don’t think I pushed enough in the first three miles, although I was going 23-24mph with the wind. Even that didn’t cover  the inevitable slow-down during miles 5-6 and 11-12.

I was gauging my energy output based on how my legs felt (HR monitor on the fritz) so when they started to burn, I pulled back, especially going into the wind, for fear of blowing my load before the run. In the last mile, I did something that was maybe stupid and I decided to spin into a lower gear to move some lactic acid and get my legs going faster in prep for the run. I say it was dumb because I don’t think it made a lick of difference on the run and it cost me time on the bike. Maybe not much time but time is time. Ultimately, my bike was 4 minutes off what I’d been hoping to do and not that much better than my sprints from last year.

Remember when I said I wasn’t going to go into this in great detail? Well, because I’m crazy and have too much time on my hands, I averaged out the top bike times from each female category. The first place female elite amateur had the best bike split at 34:35; the first place female 18-24 age grouper had the slowest with 49:32. So what did this obsessive number crunching get me? The realization that I am the average. But at least, I’m the average of the best. Enough.

The run. The run felt hard. I went aggressive with my run estimate as well and was hoping to actually beat my most recent 5K road race time. I don’t know why I thought that was going to be possible but it wasn’t. At least not yesterday. I was off by a minute from my PR and 1:43 off my estimate. But whatever, I finished first in my AG on the run so that’s cool. Still, it was a LONG mile and a half to the turnaround. I’d gone through about 20 oz of Perform on the bike so I felt adequately hydrated but I ended up taking half a caffeinated chocolate Power Gel around mile 1 and the other half around mile 2 to avoid any potential bonk.

We had the same headwind on the run that we’d had on the bike so the way home was rough. But my legs felt good and my breathing was fine despite the fact that I was way high in the zones at this point. I really, really, really wanted to win my age group. I went into this race wanting to win my age group and at mile 2 of the run, that desire to win had not faded. Of course, as an age grouper, it’s not like you really know who your competition is. Maybe you know a name or you’ve seen someone at a race before but it’s not like you’re prepping with a specific competitor in mind. But in this sport, the person you really have to be ready to tackle is you. You have to be willing to destroy your own mind. That’s one of the things I love about triathlon because as any of my closest friends will tell you, I absolutely love to beat myself up.

That said, right before mile 2 on the run, this chick sidled up alongside of me and said, “You’re doing really great, great run, I’ve been following you for a while.” I thanked her as she passed me and she said, “Don’t worry, I’m not in your age group.” And I said, “Then go get it!” I was running around 7:20 pace at that point so she must have been hovering right around 7:00. I kept her in my sights until the very end. With a mile left to go, I saw her sidle up alongside another chick and then pass her. I quickened my pace at that point and starting closing in on the other chick. I checked out her leg, saw that she was in my age group and was like, “Fuck that noise.” Until that moment, I had no idea what other women were in front of me. All I thought was, if she’s the only one up there and I have the chance to take her, I’m taking her immediately. Especially, with less than a mile to go.

I didn’t really have to pick up the pace that much. Just a touch so get beyond her. Then there was the realization that she’d probably see the number on my leg and, if she was any kind of competitor, that might be the boost she’d need to kick into gear. So with that thought rolling around in my head, I knew there was no slowing down. In fact, I absolutely had to speed up enough to keep the gap wide or force her into a home stretch burn out. I took it down under 7:00 for the last several hundred meters. It hurt. It hurt a lot but the thought that this woman might catch up to me was enough to keep me going.

I got through the finish like 14 seconds ahead of her and then discovered that there was indeed one woman who had beaten me through the shoot by about 50 seconds. But because of that extra push at the end, I moved up in the rank from last year. Hard work and performance addiction pays off.

It was a really big day for the whole team. Six of us placed and got to take home fancy hardware.

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Below is a pic of me with my teammates JD (who took first in his notoriously tough AG and 27th overall) and Mike (third in HIS notoriously tough AG). I train and race with these guys all the time so it was nice to be on the podium with them, even if it was only for the photo op. If the day comes when I’m actually able to beat Mike in any of the three events, I’ll have to turn pro.

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Somehow I got camera shy during the awards ceremony:

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And then got my mojo back:

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The rest of the day looked a little like this:

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Not a bad way to spend a Sunday in March.

Addendum:

I just realized that if you’re a tri person reading this blog, a lot of what I’ve written will mean nothing without my splits. If you’re a non-tri person reading this blog, you’re like, “what the F is a split?” And even if you know what a split is, then mine will mean nothing to you without some frame of reference. So I’m going to post my splits (the times for each event) along with the splits of the woman who got first in my age group and the top female elite amateur. So you know what’s what.

Top Female Elite:
Age 28, Finish time: 1:10:04
Swim time: 12:10,
Transition 1: 1:41
Bike time: 34:35
Run time: 21:41

1st Place Female 35-39:
Age: 36, Finish time: 1:20:17
Swim time: 15:31
T1: 1:51
Bike time: 38:49
Run time: 24:07

My Splits:
Age: 34*, Finish time: 1:21:07
Swim Time: 15:43
T1: 1:35
Bike time: 40:07
Run time: 23:43

* USAT decides age based on how old you’ll be on December 31st of the current year so even though I don’t turn 35 until September, I had to race in the next age group. But it actually worked out in my favor this time since the field was much more competitive this time around. Had I raced in my old category, I would have placed 6th.

Addendum to the Addendum:

I was looking at my Garmin time yesterday and I realized that there was a  big discrepancy between what the machine had calculated as my run time and what the race results folks had calculated. This happens sometimes. You’re racing, your head is spinning, you hit the lap button a few seconds too early or too late, and your time is a wee bit off. But the race results had me running about 45 seconds slower than my Garmin, which calculated distance at EXACTLY 3.1 miles. I was scratching my head trying to figure this one out and then one of my teammates solved the mystery for me: the race did not include T2 in their calculations, only T1. So they added the T2 time to the run total and that’s where my 42ish seconds went. So my run time was actually 23 minutes pretty much on the nose. So I was only a minute off my prediction as opposed to almost 2 minutes. Now I’ll be able to sleep.

Crazy Begets Crazy

5 Mar

It’s been a wild few weeks of air, auto and rail travel, meetings, milestones, head colds, writing projects, performances, friends in town, friends out of town, and through it all, training, training and more training. After dropping my friend D off at the airport at 5:30AM; after a 6AM weight training session and an 8:45AM appointment with my foot and ankle orthopedist who told me that one of the joints in my feet is fused in a way that explains ALL the pain I’ve ever experienced from standing, walking and/or running; after paying some bills and taking care of some work-work, I had the day to myself.

I made a giant pot of veggie “baked” beans in my crock-pot and then finally got my gas sitch fixed so I have a working oven. Yes, I realize that’s a funny sentence. Beans, gas, ha ha. Whatever. I can eat hot food again, which is nice since it’s friggin frigid in Miami right now. Then I spent the rest of the day writing and fighting a migraine. I know I got this migraine because I fell off the wagon again and had coffee this weekend and then didn’t have coffee this morning. C’est la vie.

I was in front of the computer for about five hours working on this ongoing project that is kicking my ass but also making me very nostalgic. It was a busy day disguised as a relaxing day and at the end of it, I was feeling a little loopy and overheated from sitting under my heating pad on the couch. I debated whether or not to go out on my Monday recovery run but then realized that I absolutely had to do it because I needed some physical activity to counter the cerebral activity of the day. I had just been writing about this exact balance and so it only made sense to live the narrative.

The weather was perfect. The whole Grove smells like it’s on fire (in a good way) because everyone is using their fireplaces right now. The Commodore trail was empty but for a few runners out enjoying the night and I  just felt fantastic. So my 2o minute RR turned into a 40 minute RR and I wanted to keep running but knew to do so would be foolish. It would turn this workout into something different and I’m trying to stay on plan. Still, what a night. It all felt so good that I got home and did this:

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I’d been talking about it and talking about it and I finally decided to do it. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and be all, “Never make an important decision if you’re in the midst of a runner’s high!” But I doubt it. I got twelve weeks to shed my wetsuit and get comfortable with the thought of a 1.2 mile lake swim in South Florida in May. Bring it.

Blood, Butts and Glory

12 Feb

The title says it all. Over the last few weeks, there’s been some bloodshed, there’s been a lot of saddle soreness and there has been a spot of glory. I’ll go in order.

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The Blood

So I’ve been doing this high intensity Computrainer bike training series with the Commander. I committed to the five-week long endeavor because  a) I’m performance addicted; b) I feel compelled to work overtime now that I’m on the God forsaken Shadow Unit; c) I have this sweet new ride and; c) I’ve seen my swim and run times decline precipitously over the last year while my bike times have remained somewhat consistent. That’s not entirely true. I’ve gotten nominally faster  but not to the extent that my bike times are truly impacting my overall finish times. I decided to make the commitment and thus far, I’m glad that I did. Although the training sessions are grueling. FAR MORE GRUELING than any training sessions on the road. Working on a trainer (see above set-up) is way more difficult and after two testing sessions, the Commander has designed a training protocol that leaves my legs feeling liquified for several hours after I’m done. But on to the blood.

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The deal includes two blood lactate tests. We already performed one (see above blood lactate testing set-up) and discovered that my zones have been pretty much what we thought they were. My bike zones are a little lower than I thought they were, my run zones are about the same. Still, it was pretty cool to get the exact numbers. Now that I have accurate zones, I have a really good sense of how hard I’m working and whether or not I can push myself a little more or pull back a bit. I’ve been out on the road several times since I started the High Intensity training and I’m already feeling a difference–mostly on inclines (not that we have a lot of those down here) but also on the flats. My most recent testing data shows an obvious improvement. I went from a 10K time trial at 18.9mph in the middle of January to a 16K TT at 20.4mph just a few weeks later. Now, I did buy the new bike so that might have something to do with it. But I’m thinking the combo of new bike and intense training will get me to my goals this season.

The Butt

That brings me to my butt. I have no pictures for this section. Sorry. The “bottom” line is I need a new saddle STAT! The one that came with StarBuck is not going to cut it. I don’t know how to express what I’m feeling without being crass so I won’t bother. Those of you who’ve ever ridden a road or TT bike for an extended period of time now what I’m talking about. It’s more uncomfortable than I could have possibly imagined and I fear for my future genital health. So I’m going to make the switch to an Adamo road saddle as soon as I get my tax return. If not sooner. ‘Nuff said.

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The Glory

Despite an hour-long leg liquifier last Friday, I managed to run a PR at the Chapman Partnership Run Wild 5K on Saturday, win my age group (1st of 90!!) and get 2nd overall women! That’s me up there with two Miami Dolphins cheerleaders (WTF?) Posing with those two brought me back to my boxing days when I couldn’t understand why they’d put ring girls in for girl fights between rounds. Don’t get me wrong, they were totally nice but I would have much rather had a picture with the 2nd and 3rd place runners. At any rate, I was psyched with my performance especially since not 16 hours before I’d been grinding away at 300 watts for 12 thirty-second intervals with four-minute “rest” intervals at 100 watts between. I was on the fence about whether or not I’d race this race or just try to enjoy myself. Apparently, the second option is never really an option. I did a long warm up before the race start (about 35 minutes) and I highly recommend this to everyone before a 5K. I’d heard tell that this was the way to go but had never tried it.

The last time I ran all out at a 5K was September 2011, right before I really started training with Alien Endurance. I ran a 23:17. I managed to pull off an age group win at that race as well but got horribly sick immediately after. Like balls to wall sick. Couldn’t move for days. It was awful. My best 5K training time last year was 22:40-something so I was hoping to beat that but my 5K TT when I got back from the holidays was a shabby 24 minutes and change. So I really had no idea what to expect from myself. I ran that long warmup super slow with a few little pickups. The pickups had my HR spiking and my quads burning so I wasn’t sure about my capacity for speed once the race started.

But there’s something about race day. The way your body just takes over and the gun goes off and your muscles fire and you just do what you’ve trained to do. I went out way too fast. I glanced at my Garmin about a quarter-mile in and I was clocking 6:38 or something absurd like that. Absurd for me, that is. I realize that isnt’ absurd for some people. I felt really good, which was surprising, but I didn’t want to screw myself in the last mile so I decided to calm down a bit and try to get the pace up to around 7:30. I did that and my HR was hovering in high Z4, which felt good. Breathing felt good and legs felt good. I felt good.

At the half-way point, I picked it up a bit and brought the pace down around 7:09-7:15. The course was a lovely, loopy jaunt through the Miami Metro Zoo. After the race, everyone assured me that they’d seen giraffes and elephants and other such creatures but I hadn’t seen a damned thing. I was too busy frothing at the mouth and focusing on the few ladies in front of me. Right after the mile 2 marker, I decided to kick it into high gear. I’d passed one chick and had my sights on another: a super lithe professional looking older woman I’d seen warming up at the start line. The chick looked crazy elite and was literally floating through the air. When I passed her, I was a little shocked. I later discovered that she is 60 years old and a professional marathoner. She was amazing. But as I passed her, I heard a guy call out to her, letting her know that she was 4th. So I heard this and was like, “he can’t mean she’s the fourth woman. Because if she is and I’m passing her then I’m the third woman, which makes no sense at all.”

There was one more woman up ahead of me but I could see that she was hurting and at that point I was feeling really great. I checked my Garmin and saw I had about a three tenths of a mile left so I decided it was time to just burn what was left in the tank. I kicked it up, got down to a 6:50-something, which is way faster than I thought I could run, and blew passed the last lady. I got through the finish chute at 22:24.

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I have to say, I was pretty pleased with myself. I know 22:24 is no elite finishing time but I felt like I paced the race perfectly and managed to leave it all out there in the last mile. The first place gal finished in 21:08, I think. I wonder what I would have done if I hadn’t had that bike training session the day before! In the end it doesn’t matter. This 5K has me super excited for my tri runs this season and I really love seeing speed gains over the course of the years. At my first ever 5K (the 2006 Country’s Midnight Express in Columbus, Georgia) I ran a 27:24. And I was only that fast because there was a BBQ sandwich waiting for me at the finish line. It took me five years to get my ass back into gear and I’m glad that I did. First place out of 90 women feels pretty awesome and second place out of about 500 feels even better. Maybe even better than a pulled pork sandwich. But let’s not push it.

Race Report: Mountain Madness Half Marathon, Steamboat Springs

1 Jul

Well I didn’t win the race but I FINALLY WON A DAMNED RAFFLE PRIZE! Got myself a sweet Honey Stinger t-shirt and a pair of awesome SmartWool socks. Two Steamboat brands to celebrate my near vomit-inducing finish at the 2012 Mountain Madness half marathon.

I did better than anticipated. Ended up finishing in 1:57:07 which I am hoping means that, barring some sort of race catastrophe, I am done with the 2+hour half-marathon finishes. Assuming, of course, that I don’t take a major training hiatus. But if I can get a sub-2 on THIS race, having lived basically below sea level for the last two years, than I feel pretty good about what’s going to happen when I go back down the mountain in August.

Here are some stats:

  • My Garmin clocked the distance as 13.26 and the race officials made an announcement that the course was, in fact, longer than 13.1
  • Starting elevation: 6,749ft
  • Max elevation: 7,169ft
  • Longest climb: 1.7 miles (!!!!!) at 3.1% grade incline, gaining a total of 276ft

I took a significantly different approach to this half than the last one. Because of the non-stop rollers, I knew it was going to be close to impossible for me to maintain a consistent pace or to shoot for negative splits. So I planned to take it easy until the turnaround at mile 8. But I wasn’t entirely sure what “easy” would mean.

The pack took off like gangbusters out of the starting gate. Seriously, I have never seen a race start like that. The field was miniature (45 runners total; more doing the 10k) and EVERYONE just bolted. I did not bolt. I stayed back and kept it as controlled as possible. So I was surprised to discover that right off I was already cruising at a 9 min/mile. I got a little worried that this was too fast for the first 5K but I was chatting with the guy next to me and felt fine breathing-wise so I just forced myself to hold the 9 until the turn onto the climb at mile 2, when I figured I’d slow considerably.

The slow down wasn’t as considerable as it could have been. The first quarter mile or so of the climb was intense. Just really,really steep. I thought for sure that I was going to have to walk the majority of this hill. But it flattened out a little as I got into it and I managed to keep running. I was very thankful at this point to have a coach who forces us to do bridge repeats every week. And very happy that I forced myself to do hill repeats ten days ago. That workout made this race possible.

The climb got worse again soon after. Mostly because it just kept going up and up and up and up. I passed the 10K turnaround point that I remembered from last year and thought, “You’ve gotta be kidding. We have to KEEP GOING UP?!” I did have to stop and walk at one point and, of course, it was like 100 meters from the highest point but whatever. Ain’t no shame in walking for a minute.

The downhill portion was SUPAH FAST! I had to hold my horses a little actually because I don’t have a ton of experience going fast down steep hills and I knew there was still a lot more race to go once I got back onto the “flat” below. Still, I got a little recovery in and got a few seconds back, which was good. Took my first gel at this point, around 45 minutes in.

Once I got out of the downhill section, it was right turn continuing down River Road for another, oh, 4ish miles. I’ve been biking this road a lot the last few weeks so by now, I know it pretty well. This was good as I was able to pace myself through the ups and downs leading to the turnaround at mile 8. I started creeping down into the 8:19, 8:22 min/mile pace and thought, “I’d better slow my roll” a little. I finished my 10K in well under and hour and was feeling good but I really wanted a sub-2 and didn’t want to lose it before the home stretch. So I did my best to lock it in at 8:44 for as long as possible. The rollers made this difficult but not impossible.

I started catching up to folks around mile 6 and passing people soon after. I absolutely LOVE running without headphones on these races because you get to listen to everyone else breathing. I’ll sidle up next to someone, listen to their breath, hear how labored it is and realize they’re working WAY harder than I am. This gives me a big mental boost and normally I just cruise right past them.

I’ve also started doing this thing–and I’m not totally proud of myself but whatever–where I creep up behind someone who’s in front of me and I just stay there for a minute or so, a few paces behind and just to the side, until they realize I’m there. I know they know I’m there because they will inevitably turn their head back just a little bit to see me. Once I know they’ve spotted me, I stay there for another minute. Sometimes they speed up, sometimes they don’t. If they do, I figure they’re scared. So I speed up too, knowing I’ve got the breath to maintain the increase in pace. If I do this long enough, they either bonk and slow down or I just end up passing them anyway. But either way, they’re psyched out and less likely to try and catch up. Mean, I know. But whatever. It’s the boxer in me.

I was really hoping that I’d be able to cruise down below the 8min/mile mark after mile 9 but it just was not happening. I even ended up slowing down a bit in the last mile. It was my legs more than anything. I took a lot of gel on this run, more than I have in the last few halfs. One 20 minutes before, one 45 minutes in and one (with caffeine) at the turnaround point. I even went back to the caffeinated gel in the last bit of race to see if there was any left. No such luck. I had an extra but didn’t want to waste the time struggling to get it open.

I checked my watch with about 600 meters left and was at 1:53. I had the very fleeting thought that I might be able to kill myself and beat my Key Biscayne PR (1:54:57). But I turned a corner and didn’t see the finish and realized I was already killing myself and since you can’t be more dead than dead, I’d just be happy with a sub-2. When I crossed the finish, I felt OK. Not sick but definitely not in my right mind. I think I said, “HOLY SHIT that was hard,” to the woman taking our bib tags for the raffle. Then I walked it all off for five minutes before shoveling a hand full of Skittles and an orange wedge into my face along with three cups of Gatorade.

The Austrian finished the 10K in something insane like 36 minutes and Danica finished in something equally absurd like 45 minutes. They both got 4th place in their respective genders. This was a really tough field, despite its being so small and I am very pleased with my performance. I ended up 21st overall and 5th in my AG. This is one of those races I was happy about as soon as it was over. Mostly because I followed it up with a Bloody Mary and breakfast at Creekside! Not a shabby way to spend the morning.

For those of you who care about such things, my roller coaster splits:

  • Mile 1: 9:09.15
  • Mile 2: 8:51.89
  • Mile 3: 9:42.23 (Part 1 of the big climb)
  • Mile 4: 9:56.52 (Part 2 of the big climb)
  • Mile 5: 8:18.06 (Downhill)
  • Mile 6: 8:44.18
  • Mile 7: 8:41.67
  • Mile 8: 9:03.49
  • Mile 9: 8:38.03
  • Mile 10: 8:33.25
  • Mile 11: 8:42.60
  • Mile 12: 8:19.71
  • Mile 13: 8:25.38
  • Final .26 Mile: 2:19.98

Mountain Madness Divine

1 Jul

The title is a P-M in-joke. If you get it, leave a comment. If not, live with the mystery. Up at 5:30! Must be a race day. And as you can see, I have plenty of fuel. No, I do not plan on eating all of my (LEMON!!!) Stinger waffles during the half marathon today. In fact, I will probably only eat one after the race as a “reward” for finishing this b*tch. Got a little pep talk from the Austrian (my supplier of all things Stinger) last night about the best bet on tackling this course if I’m not going to race it, which I am not. He thinks I can hit my PR.  But he thinks anything is possible if you’re willing to vomit. As for me, this race is supposed to be an exercise in managing expectations, not an exercise in futility.

The course is “deceptive,” according to the Austrian. You’re gaining elevation basically the whole way out and then there is one major hill climb (I remember it from the 10k but apparently, it’s longer on the half) right around mile 2. The turnaround after the climb is NOT the turnaround for the full distance. You come down, then make a right and start going further out and up. You climb until around mile 8 and then turnaround for the final five.

So the approach to this one will be way different than the approach to KB because in addition to the steady elevation gain, the course is also rolling the whole way. It’s not going to be possible to aim for negative splits the way I did back in April. It will also be really hard to hold a consistent pace the entire time because of the constant ups and downs and the course.

Danica and the Austrian (who both ran the half last year and are better runners than I am) suggested that I attempt to stay comfortable from miles 1-8, save my legs and my lungs for the 5 miles of downhill at the end and then turn it on. This means not really paying attention to pace but rather paying attention to HR. My damned chest strap battery is dead and I can’t find a tiny screwdriver to save my life so I haven’t been able to change it. This means I will have to do some old school body sensing. How am I breathing? How do my legs feel?

I’m pretty sure my breathing will feel not wonderful for the first few miles. My legs? OK, right now, they feel fine. But I did ride four times this week including yesterday and the day before so we shall see. I have been able to pick up the speed out here but really only on downhills and flats. My steady climbs have been at a snail’s pace. The more math I do here, the less and less likely it seems I will hit my PR or even come in under 2 hrs. But perhaps I am being too conservative.

OK. I’m not going to make any predictions right now because there’s no way for me to predict how I’ll feel by the half way point. I can’t base this race on any previous races because they have all been flat and basically below sea level. All I can do is do as well as I can do given these conditions. I’m shooting for the 2 hour mark. Anything below that would be gravy. Anything above that will be acceptable too. If I spend more time on the course I get to eat more at breakfast so you know, it’s all good. Race report to come.