Monday, June 25, 2012

Wilmington Race Weekend

Run for the Red 5K

I had been planning on doing the Wilmington Athletic Club sprint triathlon (my 2nd race in the Trysports Triathlon Series) on 6/24, so when I came across a free entry into the Run for the Red 5K on the 23rd I decided to make it another 2 race weekend.  Both were super short, and even with races on both days it would end up being significantly shorter than I would have done otherwise, so it seemed like a good idea... 

I dragged my poor husband out of bed at 5am on Saturday and we hit the road around 5:45.  We made it to the race site in plenty of time, picked up my packet, stretched out a little, and then waited in the air conditioned car for a while.  8:30am and already 80 degrees with 95% humidity - yuck!  It was a small field and seemed very recreational, and I didn't really have a plan going in.  I kept going back and forth about racing hard and taking it easy since I had the triathlon the next day, and ultimately decided to just see what happened.  I ran a mile or so warmup, found a spot in the shade to stretch, and then lined up near the front.  

We lucked out with a little cloud cover and breeze for the start, and I started out right around my usual 5k pace just under 7 min/mile.  It was a Y-shaped course, so there were 2 opportunities to see who was in front of and behind me.  The woman who was leading (the only fast-looking female at the race) was well ahead but there were no other women in front of me and after the first turn-around I could see that there really weren't any close behind me either.  The sun came back out around the same time, and with no one behind me, no one to chase, no chance of a PR, and a race the next day, I let off the gas and settled in to a comfortable 7:30-ish pace.  The rest was pretty uneventful, considering it was basically a training run from there on out.  I finished 2nd female overall (yay for super small fun runs) in 22:19, and I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't at least push myself enough to break 22.  After the race they had a nice buffet lunch with bbq pork chops, salads, pasta, and brownies, which of course I ate despite the fact that it was 10am.   So I may not have raced well, but I got one good mile, 2 decent ones, and a free lunch, so I consider it a successful event!

Wilmington Athletic Club Sprint Triathlon 

Sunday I got to sleep in (5:15, woohoo!) before heading to the WAC for my first sprint tri of the season.  The swim was a bit crowded and I had to pass several people, which is annoying in a seeded pool race.  For this event I decided to race without my Garmin, with the goal of pushing myself by feel rather than trying to stick to a pre-determined pace plan.  I went fairly hard on the bike, and was happy to maintain a speed of about 19 mph despite it being a fairly tight and technical two-loop course.  The run was a little disappointing, as I didn't really feel comfortable until mile 2, which was nearly the end of the race!  Hopefully more brick workouts will help me feel better running off the bike.  My transitions are getting better though, and I finished 4th overall/1st in my age group, so despite not feeling great on the run I was pretty happy with the race.  I am really excited about the rest of this triathlon season!

300m Swim: 6:54 (24) 
T1: 1:02
11.5M Bike: 36:17 (7) - 19mph
T2: 0:48
5K Run: 23:20 (3) - 7:30/mile

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ninja Run!

A while ago I saw a livingsocial deal for the Ninja Challenge, and somehow thought it sounded like a great idea... As it got closer and I had to sign the waiver of liability for serious injury or death, I started to question that decision.  Especially given my lack of ninja-like balance.  But some similarly crazy friends had signed up with me, so off we went to Fuquay for my first obstacle race. 

The race started on a cross-country type path, and Patty took off pretty quickly so I just stayed with her.  When we got to the first obstacle - several wooden hurdles - everyone was stopped and waiting in line because only two people could go over at a time.  After clearing the hurdles, there was a little more room to run thanks to the bottleneck, and I made my way past a few others to the second obstacle.  This one was supposed to be like climbing through windows, and was basically ducking through some cutouts in plywood. Very easy.  If all of the obstacles were like that, I figured it would be a piece of cake!  After that the obstacles became more difficult though, with a few balance beams, monkey bars, and tons of things to climb over.  One wall was about 8 feet high and I realized I wasn't going to make it on my own, but fortunately the guy next to me offered to give me a boost.  After making it over I heard him struggling, so I ran back around to help him over as well.  Good ninja karma, I guess!  By the time 10:00 rolled around it was starting to get pretty warm, and I am really glad we signed up for the early wave.  I was actually happy to see the ice bath obstacle, which entailed using a rope to climb up a wall and then jumping off into some water.  As I climbed out of the tank I noticed the recycling logo on the side... it was a dumpster!  Fancy.   

A few more obstacles and a little more running before crossing the finish line in 38:33 (24th of 851 female ninjas).   Cheered on my teammates to the finish and then enjoyed the nice post-race festivities and my free beer.  My legs were covered in bruises (which are now a lovely shade of yellow) and my quads were really sore from all of the climbing and jumping off of walls, but I was not seriously injured and it was a fun thing to do with friends so I definitely classify the day as a success! 

Monday: AM - Circuit; PM - Ride in RTP with Ellen (21 miles in 1:21)
Tuesday: AM - Swim with Jeannelle (1200m); PM - Track with Jessalyn and Lane
Wednesday: AM - Cycling, Run with Lora (5M, 42:03); PM - Fullsteam run with Caren (4M, 34:02)
Thursday: AM - TRX, Run with Sara (4M, 31:37)
Friday: AM - Swim with Jeannelle (1500m)
Saturday: Ninja Challenge
Sunday: 12 miles on the ATT with Ellen, Jessalyn, and Megan; TRX
Monday & Tuesday: Conference in Nashville... never saw the light of day!
Wednesday: AM - Circuit, Swim with Nicole (1200m)
Thursday: AM - TRX; PM - Bike (50 minutes), Run with Ellen, Jessalyn, and Caren (8M, 1:04:32)
Friday: AM - RPM Cycling

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kerr Lake Olympic Triathlon

I just started tri training, with a few sprints planned for June and July and ultimately an Olympic in August and Half Iron in September.  I've been in the pool about 5 times this season, and have been riding about once every other week... needless to say I've been easing into it.  But on Wednesday when a spot opened up at the Kerr Lake Triathlon (1500m swim, 40K bike, 10K run) through my Trysports team, it seemed like a good idea to just give it a shot.  At the very least, I knew I could get through it (even if I had to go slowly) and it would be a good workout for the day and also a good baseline for my training in preparation for the Lake Logan Tri on August 4.

This is definitely something outside of my comfort zone, and I was nervous for the three days leading up to the race.  It was exciting to be trying something new, and even though I usually get nervous before road races it's more of an anxiety about hitting my goal time as opposed to the feeling of "holy crap, what did I get myself into?!?" that I last felt before my first marathon.

I got up at 4:30, had my coffee, loaded up the car, woke up my poor husband (who is such a great supporter, even though no one in their right minds gets up that early on a Sunday morning) and headed to Kerr Lake.  We arrived around 6:45, picked up my packet, set up transition, got my body markings, and went down to check out the swim course where I had a minor freak out after seeing just how far I was actually going to have to swim.  Ate a gu, put on the wetsuit, and headed to the start area just before 8:00.

It was an in-water start, and I was in wave 3, which was set to go out at 8:06.  I think my wave was the smallest, with only about 30 women, and it really didn't seem as bad as I'd imagined.  Once we were sent off, there was some kicking, grabbing, and people swimming into me, so I eased up for a few strokes, deciding it would be better to lose a couple of spots and have a little space than to fight the 3 women swimming about my speed.  Once I had a little breathing room, I settled into a slow and steady pace and though it seemed like it took forever to get to each buoy, I never felt like I was going to drown.  Considering my swimming ability, that in itself was a small victory!

I saw Monte as I got ran up the beach, who was very encouraging and proud that I didn't drown (I think he was just as worried about me swimming that distance as I was!) and I felt great jogging up to the transition area.  Got the wetsuit off, cycling shoes on, and put on my garmin watch to see 8:41 am. 35 minutes since the start including transition?  I didn't think that could be right, because I'd estimated that it would take 40-45 minutes for me to get through the swim.  But I guess it was, as my official swim time was 33:08!  Yes, this was last in my age group, but I was (and still am) very happy with that.

My goal on the bike was to average 18mph (3:30/mile or about an hour and twenty minutes for 24 miles), so as I headed out I just settled into a moderately hard but sustainable pace and hoped to pass some of the people who were well ahead of me after the swim.    The ride was very rural and scenic, with rolling hills but no substantial climbs, and though there were parts when I couldn't see anyone else around, I tried to just focus on catching the next person and staying around my goal pace.  The ride went by pretty quickly, and before I knew it I'd hit 20 miles.  I was feeling a little tired, but decided that I should push it a bit for the last few miles and just hope it didn't backfire on the run.  As I came in toward the dismount I saw Monte again, taking pictures and cheering as always, and realized that I'd made it through the first 2 legs in under two hours on very minimal tri training; making me a very happy triathlete as I came into T2.  Official bike time: 1:18:54.

Quick change into running shoes, swig of gatorade, and off on the run.  It is set up as a double out and back, and my plan was to run the first 5k around 7:30 pace and then pick up the pace with anything I had left for the second lap.  I saw Dawn, Lori, Jason K, and Jason L on the run, and all the little out and back legs were nice in that you could cheer each other on and also know who was ahead of and behind you.  As I headed back out for the second lap, the sun was ahead and I could feel that it had gotten much warmer.  I slowed through a water station but kept moving, and soon after I was just so hot I felt like I was on fire and my pace slowed to what felt like a crawl.  Thankfully there was a final water station at the last turnaround, and I walked through this one and drank a full cup of water. After the turn, with the sun behind me and a little breeze, all of a sudden I was freezing.  I think my body had definitely had enough at that point, and I was so happy to see that I only had a mile left!  My pace had slowed to over 8 minutes/mile for miles 4 and 5 but I was able to pick it back up a bit for the last mile, and kick it in a little on the downhill finish.  Done!  The run was disappointing, ending up at 48:25, but my final time of 2:43:42 was well under my goal of sub-3 hours and I ended up placing 3rd in my age group.  Icing on the cake :)

Reflecting on it, I am not sure that it was the wisest decision to go into something like this so under-trained and unprepared, but I am really glad I did it.  I know that Olympic will always be my worst distance performance-wise because the swim is such a big percentage of the race... in a sprint the swim is over in no time, so I am only starting out a couple minutes behind.  In the half the swim in only a little longer, but the other legs are more than double Olympic distance, which means I'll have more time to (hopefully) catch the fast swimmers on the bike and run.  But Lake Logan is 2 months from today, and hopefully with 8 weeks of dedicated training and a good taper week I can get close to 2:30.  Time will tell... 

Finally, thanks to the Trysports team - I am sure I wouldn't have done this otherwise!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Running of the Bulls 8K

I didn't really race this one, so this write up will be short and sweet.  I have wanted to do this race each year, but am always out of town so I decided to do it despite my last minute decision to enter the Kerr Lake Olympic Triathlon tomorrow.  When I heard that Lora was on the fence about doing this race, I was able to twist her arm into running with me.

I picked up our packets yesterday, so we didn't have to rush downtown this morning.  Lora picked me up at 6:15 and we got to the race in plenty of time for a bathroom stop and short warmup.  We chatted with some of the many people I knew who were competing today and it was great to see so many familiar faces.  The race itself was great - lots of crowd support, including more familiar faces; perfect weather for running; a rolling course that was just challenging enough to notice the hills but not enough to slow you down; and of course I had great company for this one!  Since I ran just a bit harder than a normal 5 mile training run, I won't go into splits or pace or whatnot, but we ran a little faster than I expected, and I am sure Lora was tired of hearing me talk by the time we hit the finish (official time 38:24).

I found all of our friends after the race and it seemed like everyone was happy with their day, so that was great!  Alicia, Caren, Lora, Mark, and a few other Bull City runners won awards, including engraved cowbells that were pretty awesome and made me wish I had run faster.  Maybe next year... 

Finally I have to give a shout out to Bull City Running Company.... I've done a lot of races now, and this was one of the most well organized, efficient and fun.  They really did a great job putting on this event, and I hope to be out there again next year!

Friday, June 1, 2012

May Summary

I can't believe May is already over!  I am taking June off from distance running to work on my speed and triathlon training, and I am actually really looking forward to the "break"!

Monday: Swimming
Tuesday: AM - Speedwork with Ellen (7M w/400s and 800s); PM Sync Cycling
Wednesday: AM - Sync Cycling; PM - 4M with Trysports Run Club
Thursday: AM - TRX; PM - 7 hot and humid miles with Ellen
Friday: AM - Swimming with Jeannelle (1500m)

May totals: 
Run time: 15:03:29
Run distance: 111.62
Total time (including cross-training): 37:14:44

Now time to get some rest... busy weekend ahead with the Running of the Bulls 8K tomorrow and my first Olympic distance triathlon on Sunday at Kerr Lake!

Vermont City Marathon Relay

I recovered pretty quickly from the Diva's Half, which was great considering it was a fairly hard effort (sub-1:37).  My neck was (and still is) bothering me a bit, but at this point I guess I'll just have to live with it.   That being said, Monday through Thursday was back to the usual routine.

Monday: AM - Circuit Training; PM - Sync Cycling
Tuesday: AM - Swimming with Jeannelle (drills and intervals); 4.5 miles with Sara
Wednesday: AM - Sync Cycling; Speedwork with Ellen (5M w/400s and 800s)
Thursday: TRX

On Thursday night I left for the airport, only to return home and go back Friday morning.  After several delays and cancellations, I finally made it to Vermont!  My dad picked me up and we were able to swing by the Sheraton for packet pickup.  By the time I got in it was 3:00, and the expo didn't open until 4, but fortunately one of the organizers was very understanding when I told him I'd been traveling since 5:00 am and didn't want to wait around for yet another hour, so he made an exception for me.  I love Vermonters :)

Erika and Rich picked me up at 6 on race morning and we headed to Burlington.  We parked and walked over to the start, and even ran into Bart!  My mom and Alan met us near the start and as Erika went off to the corral we walked down to Church Street for the beginning of the race.  We were able to see runners go by shortly after the start and again around mile 3, and then I walked the half mile to the relay bus.  It took longer than I expected but I made it to the exchange stop in plenty of time, and Dad and Mary were there to keep my company and cheer me on as I started my leg.  Erika came in near the 4:15 pace group (she started pretty far back and actually ran just a hair over 2 hours!) and off I went.  I high fived my dad and started working on making my way through and around hundreds of marathoners (looking at the results, I estimate it ended up being 700-800). I felt a little back zooming past people who had already been running for 2 hours, and it definitely added a degree of difficulty to be surrounded by people running a much different pace.  I hit Battery hill, which is a pretty decent climb, and saw Mom and Alan among the crowd.  It is always such a boost to see my family and friends out there cheering for me!  Somewhere around mile 4 or 5 it got pretty hot, and as the course went through a few different neighborhoods I was impressed my how many people were out in their yards with hoses, sprinklers, and unofficial water/aid stations.  Once we got through the neighborhoods we ran onto a bike path that runs along Lake Champlain.  I had heard a lot of good things about this part of the course, but it was pretty narrow, which made it difficult to get around people (especially those running 2-4 wide) and that was a bit frustrating at times.  I chatted with a guy who was doing the 50 states, and Vermont was #45.  Before I knew it I'd passed mile 12 and tried to pick it up a little through the finish.  Somehow I didn't see my family as I came down the final stretch to the finish, though apparently I ran right by them!  I am guessing it was because I was in a footrace to the finish with a girl in a bright shirt who I could see in my peripheral (she beat me by a hair, but I checked the results and she was also on a 2-person team and had a 7 minute lead on me at the exchange so I don't feel as bad!).  

All in all, it was great spending the weekend with my family, and having a race to run before coming back was just icing on the cake :)

Run summary: 3:41:12 (1:39:24)
18th 2-person female team out of 224
Consistent splits right around 7:30
Slowest: Mile 3 (Battery Hill, 7:47)
Fastest: Mile 13 (7:22)
Last 200m: 38 seconds (that is fast for me!)