Tag Archives: half marathon

Whence Comes the Energy Redux

24 Jul

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That is a picture of Lake Michigan, taken during my run this morning. My first solo run since the first week of July. And it’s hard for me to even count that early July run as an actual run because it was too short and I had to stop every block for traffic and I felt like crap and it was raining, etc… Honestly, I haven’t been running for almost six weeks now. The last time I logged anything into Training Peaks was, I think, the first week of June. Sorry, Coach.

I went out on Sunday with a friend who is, like me, just getting back into the swing of things after taking some time off. He ran a 200 mile Ragnar last month and needed some time to get his legs and mind back. He was the perfect person to go out with for an easy trot. He’s an obviously experienced runner, born of a family chock-full of running phenoms (his uncle held a world record for the fastest 10k run by, like, an 8-year-old boy or some such craziness) and I could tell that on any other day, if we were both in peak condition, he’d have made me work. Hard. But it wasn’t any other day. It was Sunday. After a long rest period. And we were both happy with an easy, conversational pace and a pleasant 40 minutes along the lakefront.

I had no plans to run this morning but the minute I woke up, I felt the urge. And not only the urge, but also the ability. As in: I felt like I had the power to get up, get dressed and go for a run. The flesh was willing and the mind was strong. Anyone who has ever been active for any length of time knows that it’s a boon when the body and mind are in sync. It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes your mind is OK but you’re body is wiped. Sometimes your body is fine but your mind is like, “Fuck you. It’s 5AM and it’s raining. We are staying in bed.” In either of these instances, it’s normally possible for one to override the other and you get up and you get out and you do your thing.

But when both mind and body go AWOL, it’s really hard to motivate. This has happened to me before. Actually it happens more regularly than I think I’ve ever been willing to admit. And most of the time, I muscle through. Why? Because…

Because?

Because I fear what will happen if I don’t. Which is what? Probably nothing. Nobody has money riding on whether or not I’m going to place at the next sprint tri on Key Biscayne. I muscle through because I fear what others will think of me if I don’t. Maybe people will think I’m weak. Maybe people will think I’m lazy. Maybe people will think I’m not a good athlete. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

Who Gives a Fuck?

Obviously I do. Or I have. In the (not so distant) past. So for the last month, I’ve been trying to worry less about what my not-training “means” to other people (and I’ve been through enough therapy to know that, at the end of the day, it means NOTHING to other people) and more about what I can do to feel better. So I went to see this acupuncturist/chiropractor/herbal doctor and settled on a plan to eat clean, take a boat-load of supplements, sleep when my body was telling me to sleep, and focus on being a playwright. So far so good. Ish.

When I woke up this morning and felt the desire to run, I couldn’t fight it. I’ve been listening to my body about other shit, so why not listen to it when it asked me to move? I wanted to run. And that made me happy. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten out of the house so quickly. I was up and out the door in about seven minutes. Just enough time to pee, dress, strap on my Garmin and go. I ran pretty much the same route my friend and I had run on Sunday. Down towards the lake and then along the lakefront and then back. Right around 4 miles. And that felt fine.

For the last, oh, two years, every time I’ve gone out for a run, I’ve had some kind of time and/or pace goal in mind. 10 minute warmup then 1 mile build to lowest point of zone 5, then 1.5 miles all out, then cool down to zone 2. Or 30min at 10K pace + 15 seconds. Or 90 minutes in HR Z1-2 NO ZONE 3! This morning, my goal was to go out and enjoy running. Funny how goals change.

But now I’m on the couch, under a blanket, with my laptop on my legs, writing this blog post, feeling my eyelids getting heavy. I had a smoothie immediately after the run that included frozen berries, almond milk, 1 tsp maca powder, 1 tsp Omega oil, one B complex, 2 multi-minerals, 1 probiotic and a scoop of Perfect Food.  Then I had a cup of mate and two gluten free waffles with sunflower butter. So…where’s the energy?

Why do I want to take a nap at 11:42 in the morning? What am I not doing right? Is this STILL caffeine withdrawal? Should I have ignored my body this morning when it begged me to get out on the road? Did I really so exhaust myself over the course of the last six months that it’s going to take another six months to get my energy levels back up to what they were? And really, what were they? Have I ever really had any sustained energy? Or have I just been faking it? The truth is, I have been tired for the last ten years. But how is it possible that I’ve been training and competing in amateur sports that whole time? Why do I feel alternately great and crappy? Energized and fatigued? Calm and anxious?

These are the questions I’ve got rolling around in my brain right now. They’re sharing space with the questions I’ve got about Oedipus and narcissists and the drama of family dynamics and how to be an adult relating to other adults. And I have to work very hard to make sure that the questions I’m asking about my health don’t completely take over that space; overpower the questions I have to be asking about my work and my writing and my personal life. But this is tricky because those questions all probably, in one way or another, point to the same answer.

I know it’s not just about coffee and it’s not just about gluten or dairy. It’s not just about booze or casein or yeast. It’s not just about migraines and balance issues and yo-yo dieting. It’s not just about hay fever or eating too much soy. It’s not about pestides and GMOs and soil depletion and how none of our food has any nutritional value anymore. Well, maybe it’s a little about all of that. Honestly though, I think it’s far more likely that this is about me, and so many other young American women, fighting to hit one or two or twenty unattainable goals and making ourselves sick in the process.

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.

Fires, Rides and Races, Oh My!

30 Jun

TGI the weekend! Saturday and I finally have some time for an update. We had a couple of small fires in the vicinity this week. Both were put out immediately so that’s a good thing but the whole situation has people on edge. And rightfully so. We also had a fire drill on camp two days ago and were told that Steamboat is now at Level 2 Fire Alert status, which according to the Routt County Office of Emergency Management, prohibits among other things:

  • Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire, charcoal grill, coal, wood burning stove or sheepherders stove, including in developed camping and picnic grounds. Devices using pressurized liquid or gas are exempted; and
  • Using an explosive requiring fuse or blasting caps, all fireworks, sparklers, rockets, exploding targets and tracers, or incendiary ammunition.

There are a few other banned fire-producing activities that I could care less about (welding, operating a chainsaw without a “chemical pressurized fire extinguisher,” and smoking outdoors), but these two make me very sad. 

Because it’s summer and what is summer without cookouts and fireworks?

OK technically, we can still use a gas grill to BBQ burgers but there won’t be any fireworks this 4th of July and I love the Steamboat fireworks display. It’s not the fanciest show but you can literally get right up under it at Howelsen Hill and feel the ground quake beneath you. This year, instead of pyrotechnics, there will be a Beatles cover band. Great. But you know, it’s all good. Because I’d rather have no fireworks than camp on fire one year before the centennial.

In other news, I am running the 2012 Mountain Madness Half Marathon tomorrow. I don’t quite know why I’m running this race. It seemed like a great idea two months ago. I ran the 10K last year and should have just signed up for that but no, I had to sign up for the half. I think I can still change my registration but at this point, I’m trained for the half, my mind is committed to it and so I’m gonna run the damned race. It will replace my hour hill repeats workout and my hour fifteen base building run that were scheduled for this week. I plan on running this one nice and easy. I will NOT be trying to break any PRs. I just want to run it controlled and happy, like the last one.

The one big snag with this race is that there are only three aid stations the whole distance. So I will be borrowing Danica‘s Nathan Intensity Hydration vest. I’m not a big drinker during races but considering the altitude, the terrain and how hot it’s been lately, I don’t want to take any chances. I haven’t trained in the thing but I’m not too worried since I AM GOING TO TAKE THIS RACE EASY ANYWAY.

Tomorrow’s run will bring to an end Week 2 of Augusta training (I made the above stamp yesterday with some help from our art teacher). So far so good. I am managing to get all my workouts in, save my weight training (which I know I have to get on) and my open water swims (which I have to resign myself to missing until I get home). I biked four times this week! I can’t find a stretch of flat road to save my life. My legs are going to be MASSIVE after this summer.

I’ve decided not to race the Steamboat Lake Sprint tri at the end of July and instead just focus on training for Augusta. I will likely get a sprint and perhaps an olympic in at the end of the summer when I return to Miami but my water lungs are HORRIBLE out here. I seriously don’t think I could swim 800 meters right now even with my wetsuit on and no ocean current pulling me in the opposite direction. I had to cut my swim workout 350 meters short yesterday because I seriously could not continue. I’m thinking I might need to spend the next couple of weeks just upping my endurance, working on lung capacity and form, and trying to right a few muscular wrongs that are holding me back in the pool. Hopefully all of that will lead to major gains when I return to sea level.

Outside of training, things are rolling along. My students out here are all awesome and doing great work. It’s a gorgeous day. Went out for a nice, short tempo ride this morning, ate a delicious breakfast prepared by our new chef who needs to stop baking for us every day, and now I’m looking forward to spending the rest of the afternoon flat on my back with my legs elevated and wrapped in ice packs in prep for the race tomorrow.

It’s not a shabby life I’m living.

Eating Truly Good in the Neighborhood

2 Jun

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One of the best things about hanging out in Western Mass, or any area that’s full of small farms, is that there’s a market in some town almost every day of the week. And if you happen to be craving fresh veggies or fruit on one of the odd market-less days, then there’s probably a farm down the road with a stand full of produce and a small, rusty tin box for you to drop your pennies into (on your honor, of course).

The salad above is made with a kale that I sadly can’t remember the name of, Hakurei turnips and their greens, wild strawberries and quinoa. Bought the greens from Wild Sky Farm at the Easthampton Farmer’s Market yesterday; and the berries at a nameless farm stand down the road from my host’s abode. The dressing is a rip on one I found at Oh She Glows for a Lightened Up Tahini-Lemon Dressing.

Here is my adjusted version. I’ll be honest, these amounts are not exact. I was sorta throwing things in to taste. So if you want to recreate this, do what suits your palate and let me know what happens. This should yield about a 1/2 cup of dressing or enough for one massive bowl of greens.

Sunny Lemon Dressing

2 Tbsp Sunflower Seed Butter
1 clove garlic
1/4 inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1  Tbsp nutritional yeast
S & P to taste

This salad has to be one of my all-time favs. And it was another total improvisation. Unfortunately, this one is not made of particularly local or seasonal ingredients–the corn is from Florida (of course) and I got everything else at the supermarche (for shame, I know) but it’s the thought that counts. And the goal here was to make a salad using the grill. So it would taste like summer. Which it did. So in that regard, I was successful. Here’s the recipe as best as I can remember it.

Roasted Corn and Cabbage Slaw

5 ears of corn
1/2 head red cabbage
2 large green peppers
1 bunch scallions
3 medium beets, steamed or roasted and peeled and sliced
1 can crushed pineapple, juice reserved
1/2 cup chopped red onion

Lime Cilantro Dressing
2 cloves garlic
1 large bunch cilantro, washed and stemmed
juice of one lime
juice from one can crushed pineapple
2 tbsp orange juice
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sambal oelek
S&P to taste

Get yer grill on. Wrap corn in foil and grill for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from foil and cook directly on grill until they get nice and charred all over. Not burned, mind you, but charred. Cut the cabbage into big  chunks and slather with fat of your choice (I used spray olive oil from Trader Joe’s cuz I was being calorie conscious but feel free to slather on real EVOO if that’s your thing) and place directly on hot grill. You’ll have to turn the cabbage a few times. You’ll know it’s done when it gets wilty and the outside leaves are nicely charred. It should still be somewhat crunchy. Grill your peppers whole until the skins turn black. Also place your scallions directly on the grill–these won’t take long so keep an eye on them.

Cut the kernels from your corn, chop cabbage into bite sized pieces, chop scallions. Give your peppers an ice bath until the skin is a little easier to peel and then peel them and chop them up. Toss all of this grilled deliciousness into a big bowl. Add chopped scallions, sliced beets and crushed pineapple. Give everything nice big stir.

In the workbowl of a food processor, combine all your dressing ingredients and pulse until well combined and nicely emulsified. Add to the slaw and toss very well to coat completely. This is one of those side dishes that gets better the longer it hangs out so make it ahead and keep in the fridge till you’re ready to serve.

We enjoyed this one with grilled pork loin and grilled asparagus. It was a double veggie, lean meat kinda night. There was so much slaw left over that we had it the next night with the first salad in this post and BBQ’d salmon. Here’s what that all shaped up to look like:

This went perfectly with a bottle of Black Birch Vineyard‘s semi-dry riesling, which I picked up earlier in the day at the vineyard-again, it’s just down the road.

Lovely new vineyard with a really gorgeous tasting room. I haven’t been drinking a lot (or really at all) over the last couple of months (and I pretty much can’t have red wine anymore because of the noggin) so this was a nice treat and a reminder of how much I love white wine in the summer. We also bought a bottle of their Vidal for dinner this evening. Fun fun fun.

I will admit it’s nice to eat like a human again. That said, I’ve been sticking to my mega bowl (oatmeal, chia, berries) breakfast and late morning green smoothie routine. I’ve still got a half marathon and another sprint to look forward to in Colorado this summer. Plus plenty of high altitude training to stay in shape for fall races back in Miami. Oh and the job that I have out there. I’d like to have energy for that too. For the moment though, I’m drinking the wine.

Move Swim Bike Run Drive

22 May

Aliens in the golden hour before TriMiami olympic distance start, Sunday May 20th, 2012

The last two weeks has been its own kind of odd endurance event. Is that grammatically correct? I don’t know. I don’t care. My brain is fudge. The title of this post pretty much sums up what’s been going on. Remind me to never again plan a move three days before a triathlon. And maybe remind me to never again plan to do a triathlon the day before starting a three day road trip.

I got it all done. Well, not all of it. Still on the drive leg of this race. I won’t be officially done until Thursday, when I arrive in Massachusetts to spend the holiday weekend with family. But the move is done–it wasn’t easy; moves never are–and the race is done–it wasn’t easy, races never are (well, I guess they can be if you’re not working very hard) and the semester is over and I am on my way. A lot going on in the next few weeks. Will cover many, many miles by car and no doubt, by bike and on foot. I’m racing again on June 3rd in Chicopee, Mass–a sprint this time–and doing another half marathon over July 4th weekend in Steamboat. The hits just keep on coming. But for the next couple days, I will be enjoying race recovery in my beloved Tito.

Yesterday was a definite learning experience. Good as races go but I’d set a sorta unrealistic goal for myself in trying to come in under three hours. Stupid me, I didn’t factor in my transition times when doing the math. Oh well, lesson learned. But I’d been hoping to do 40 minutes on the swim (thinking that was conservative–it wasn’t), 1:20 on the bike (thinking that would be easy since I’ve been averaging 17-19 mph on my last few rides of about the same distance) and my 10K in anything better than the one at MiamiMan last November (57minutes).

OK, so I got my 10K PR–an overall PR, not just a tri 10K PR–but fell super short on the other two events. That swim, by God, 1500meters is long. It was also not wet suit legal, which is probably a good thing because it gave me a better idea of where I actually am in terms of ability. So again, learning experience. But the water was gross. It stank of sulphur and was full of seaweed. So full of seaweed, in fact, that I had to fight my way through a veritable jungle of it in the last couple hundred meters, which just felt unfair.

The run out from the swim to transition was close to a quarter mile across sand. That transition run counted as a part of my swim time and not my T1. So that added another 2+minutes to my swim. The good news is that y T1 was super fast (1min:11secs fast), as was my T2 (1:12).  My bike was six minutes over what I’d been aiming for. Pretty sure I went out too fast. Lost my legs a tiny bit on two miles in the second loop and then decided to pull way back because I wanted to be able to kill the run. So that worked but my bike time suffered.

The run was hot, humid and totally exposed. I stopped at each aid station for electrolytes which I rarely do. But I knew I needed them. Nutrition-wise, I did great. I feel like I have that pretty much down now. Never felt hungry or tired (except that one tiny window on the bike but that wasn’t about nutrition, that was about lactate) and my legs felt really springing and fast throughout the whole run. I had intended upon starting slow (like 9:30min/mile) and then turning it on for the second 5K, trying to run sub 8s the whole way. But I actually ended up keeping things much more consistent.

Everything was great and then I made a bonehead mistake and missed a sign on the run pointing me to home. I kept going straight when I should have hung a slight left. Luckily, a biker saw me and told me I was going to wrong way. That mistake easily cost me thirty seconds. I sprinted the last couple hundred meters and finished feeling great. So overall, not a bad race, considering it was my first true Olympic (MiamiMan was a short swim). But I’ve always gotta have something to bitch about. This time, I’m miffed that I didn’t get a podium placement. I missed third place by four minutes and once again, it was all about the swim. So once again, I feel frustrated and miffed.

I will channel that frustration and miffedness into harder swim training over the next couple of months. Hopefully my summer at the high altitude will help. But I won’t have my team to train with and that is a little terrifying.

But for the next couple of days, I’m going to avoid thinking about any of this and just try to get to the frozen north in one piece.

Taking Stock

11 May

So I’m in the middle of moving. Not sure where I’m moving too, yet, but I am moving out of my current apartment before I depart for the summer and shoving all my stuff into storage. I’m gonna worry about finding a place when I return to Miami for fall semester but for now, the focus is solely on packing up and getting out. Still, I’m packing up. And I’m going through stuff. Tossing whatever I can, cleaning house, taking stock.

During today’s packing process (I’m doing a little bit every day instead of procrastinating and saving everything for one stressful 48 hour period before the movers come) I came across my race medals and trophies from the last nine months. My first nine months of racing. And I just had to pause, put all of my medals on at once and take this picture:

Self congratulatory? Sure. But fuck. Sometimes you have to pause to congratulate yourself. And give thanks to the folks who helped you achieve. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Had my mother never born me, I wouldn’t have been able to swim/bike/run these races. If my mother and father hadn’t made physical fitness, athletics and healthy eating top priority in our household, I probably wouldn’t have had the desire or drive to box or start endurance training.

Thanks to my crazy running and triathlon friends who inspired me to give this a go. Thanks to Alien Endurance, Andy Clark (even if he does occasionally call me “Shark bait”) and his assistant coaches for teaching me how to do all this stuff; and to all my fellow Aliens for being awesome training partners.

All of this occurred to me today because of the packing, yes, but also because I’m pretty much done with the school year and I started training right at the start of the fall semester. Nine months ago. I kinda can’t believe all that has  happened in the last nine months. What has happened? Three half marathons (including the sub-2 that I wanted), five triathlons (with podium placements in 3 of them and top 20 finishes in the other two) , a 10K turkey trot (with a new PR) and two 5Ks (taking 1st place AG in one and 3rd place overall in the other).

And then there’s the knowledge that I’m getting faster and stronger. And all the other non-competitive stuff, the stuff that’s harder to quantify but no less important. Like the improved fitness, the feel-good endorphins coursing through my veins, the closer attention to nutrition and overall wellness; the new friends.

I have nothing else to say except that I can’t wait to keep going and see what the rest of the season holds and where I go in year two.