Thursday, November 27, 2014

My European Adventure

A recap of my month in Europe in (more or less) one photo per day!

September 5
Arrival in Zofingen, Switzerland
September 6
Race check in and opening ceremonies
September 7
Team USA at the Long Course Duathlon World Championship
September 8
Lucerne, Switzerland
September 9
Full day of sightseeing in Lucerne
September 10
Train ride through Austria and arrival in Vienna
September 11
It was a rainy, dreary day in Vienna, so I decided to visit the zoo.
I LOVE zoos, and koalas are my favorite so it worked out perfectly
September 12
Sightseeing in Vienna with Adam
September 12
Arrival in Mikulov, Czech Republic, for the start of our bike tour
September 13: First day of cycling
We rode from Vatice to Mikulov on mountain bike paths
After days of rain, it was all mud and I was way out of my element!
En route from Valtice to Mikulov
Lednice Castle
September 14
Rode from Znojmo to Vranov nad Dyji
This is all that remains of the Iron Curtain
September 15
Telc, Czech Republic
Rode 29 miles from Vranov nad Dyji to Slavonice before taking a train to Telc
The beginning of our 26 mile ride from Telc to Jindrichuv Hradec
September 16
Jindrichuv Hradec
September 17
September 18
Sunrise in Trebon before riding the 36 miles to Cesky Krumlov
September 18
Cesky Krumlov: The end of our cycling adventure

September 19
Sightseeing in Cesky Krumlov before taking the bus to Prague
September 19
September 20
Adam left and Monte had not arrived yet, so I went sightseeing solo.
By my estimates (based on later runs wearing my Garmin), I think I walked about 14 miles
September 21
Monte arrived in Prague
September 22
Toured Prague on the hop on hop off bus
September 23
From the top of the astronomical clock
Sunset in Prague
September 24
Arrival in Dresden, Germany
September 25
Adventures (and comical mishaps) in sightseeing
September 26
Arrived in Berlin and visited the race expo
September 27
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
September 28
Berlin Marathon
New PR of 3:17:51!
September 30
Munich, Germany
Celebrating the end of the race season at Oktoberfest
October 1
Met up with Sarah in Munich
October 2
More Oktoberfest! Giant beer, giant pretzel, repeat.
October 3
Train ride through Austria
Celebrating my birthday at the Bayern Munich game and Oktoberfest!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ready or not...

With only one race over July and August, I was able to get in some pretty solid training, which has been great.  The 10-12 hours a week plus travel time to/from workouts, extra showers, and extra time eating, on top of my full-time job and attempts to have a social life have resulted in a pretty packed schedule, and the summer has really flown by. 

Despite the crash (more on that later), I was able to log over 1,000 miles (1,075 to be exact) with 31,781 feet of elevation gain.

July: Bike: 397 miles, 26:47:41 - Run:  121 miles, 16:11:11
August:  Bike: 404 miles, 27:33:00 - Run: 149 miles, 21:10:48

Not all rainbows and butterflies

My first crash
About halfway into the Tour d'Orange on August 2, which was scheduled to be my first century ride, I hit a seam in the pavement while descending a hill and went over the front of my handlebars.  I don't remember anything in between thinking "Oh shit, I am going to crash" and the paramedics wrapping my head, but apparently after the initial impact my helmet came off, resulting in a trip to the ER via ambulance, a concussion, and a lovely head wound requiring 7 staples.  I also ended up with some bruised/cracked ribs, cuts and scrapes (thankfully it was cool and I was wearing a jacket, otherwise the road rash would have been much worse), and soreness pretty much everywhere.  My Garmin tells me I went from 23.4 mph to 0, so I guess it could have been worse.  

{Big thanks to Tamu and the Tour d'Orange volunteers, without whom I would have been crumpled by the road for who knows how long; and of course to Monte, who took great care of me while I was concussed and broken}

Training through pain
Unfortunately I had to take a couple of days off because of my concussion, but I was anxious to get back on track, so I resumed very easy running and riding on the trainer that week.  The first week was pretty rough, but my head felt much better when I had the staples removed on August 11.  My ribs weren't as quick to heal, and even 3 weeks later I was still in quite a bit of pain.  I also have bursitis on my left achilles, which is painful but not debilitating.  I'm not sure if this was from impact (Tamu tells me I was pretty well entangled with my bike) or compensating for the rib pain when I resumed training, but in any case it's annoying.  Suffice it to say I've consumed well beyond my share of ibuprofen in the last few weeks, and I am really hoping to be pain free sometime in the near future.

On the upside, my sweet husband bought me a new bike!


Surprising dad on his birthday
This was training-related only insofar as flight cancellations led me to miss a scheduled workout, but if I am making a list of July-August highlights, this was definitely at the top!  With Mary and my aunts as accomplices, I was able to hop a flight to Burlington to join the family for lunch on my dad's 70th birthday.  Logistically, the day trip from North Carolina to Vermont didn't work out exactly as planned, but his expression when he walked in and saw me at the restaurant was absolutely priceless and I am so grateful to have some extra time with my dad and some of my extended family.  And the maple soft serve was not terrible either ;)

Bike-run interval workouts 
I had a few bike-run-repeat workouts, and loved these.  The first was on July 24, and included four 10 minute intervals on the bike at 90% ftp (about 16.5-17 mph), each followed by a one mile run around 7:00 mile pace.  These were challenging but each interval was short, so it went by quickly, and mentally it was easy to keep going when I got tired because I knew I only had a few minutes left before switching activities, and this was probably one of my favorite workouts of the entire training cycle.

Mountain ride  
My first ride outside post-crash was a trip out to Pilot Mountain State Park on August 16.  The climbing was very slow going, with trips up Sauratown Mountain (about 900 feet of elevation gain in 2.5 miles) and Hanging Rock (over 700 feet in less than 2 miles), but I managed to make it to the top without falling over or rolling backward, so that alone was a good confidence builder since the Bodenburg (which I will have to climb three times) is pretty intimidating.  I was a little scared on the descents after the crash two weeks earlier, but thankfully I felt a little more comfortable as the ride went on.  Huge thanks to Tim for planning this route and letting me tag along.

Run for Waffles
I wanted to do something different/special for my last long run, so I planned out a point-to-point that covered most of the American Tobacco Trail and ended at Dame's Chicken and Waffles, which I've been wanted to try for ages.  Despite the humidity (my weather app said  73 degrees and 94% humidity at the start) causing my shoes to squish for the last 5 miles and leading Monte to ask if Ellen had jumped in the lake, I was able to get in about 8 miles at marathon goal pace and complete my first 20 miler outside of a marathon since the fall of 2012.  All with great company thanks to friends who were willing to work through less than convenient logistics to join me for part of it.  And ending with fried chicken and sweet potato waffles with maple pecan butter.  Really a pretty great way to end this training cycle!

So now it's go time... 

I am all packed up and as ready as I will be.  I have never done anything this long or this challenging, so I am incredibly nervous.  At the same time, I'm really excited for this adventure and am going to do my best in representing Team USA.  

Tested out the new kit on my last long training ride
One final note before departure... I am incredibly lucky to have this opportunity, and want to say thank you to my amazing network of family and friends who have done so much to support me in this endeavor.  Extra shout out to my husband (who really is the best) and to my friends who've logged countless training miles with me.  I'm sure you were sick of hearing about this a long time ago, but I appreciate you putting up with me!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Raleigh Downhill Mile

I signed up for this race primarily because I had some festive red, white, and blue arm warmers that I picked up on sale at the end of the winter season and needed a 4th of July race to put them to use.  I was planning on running the Four on the Fourth again, but when I saw the announcement for this new race, I thought one mile downhill sounded far more funny than four with some hills, so the decision was made.

The women's race started at 8:30, so we left the house just after 7 and got there with almost an hour to spare.  It was a relatively small race, so packet pickup only took a minute, and then Monte and I just hung out while I waited for Kim to arrive to warm up.  After about 15 minutes of jogging, we a harder effort of about 200m and a few strides.  It was the first time I've really done anything beyond a 10-15 minute jog as a warm up, and I found it really helpful to have someone with experience to tag along with (thanks, Kim!).

I wasn't entirely sure what my goal should be.  On one hand, it was mostly downhill, so I thought I should at least try to beat my PR of 5:48.  On the other hand, I've been training for endurance events and have done very little speed work.  So I decided to not worry about pace too much and just run hard. 

The first quarter mile is a slight incline to flat, and I just focused on trying to run hard to the crest of the hill, knowing that once I got there I would have gravity on my side. My Garmin beeped at the quarter split and flashed 1:19.  I'm not even sure when I last ran a 79 in a workout on the track, yet I was feeling pretty good and was running in 6th place.

Once we hit the downhill section (loss of 114 feet over the last 3/4 mile), I tried to run strong and keep my effort steady.  I tucked in behind a couple of women who I recognized from other races.  I always see their names above mine in local race results, so I was happy to pace off of them and was a bit surprised that that I'd managed to keep up with them.  The second split popped up at 1:22 and I decided to make a move on the ladies ahead of me, knowing that I have no kick and a sprint to the finish was probably not going to work out in my favor. Just after I moved up to third, the watch beeped (1:20), the finish line was in sight, and I knew I had a new PR in the bag.

As we approached the finish line I saw Monte, but in contrast to my normal smile and wave, I was actually focused on racing.  I heard him cheering and knew that the 3 ladies I'd just passed were hot on my heels, and I was no longer concerned about pace or being comfortable... I just really wanted to keep them from passing me.  Thankfully I was able to hold my position, and after seeing Kim beat out the other woman in front of me to take the win, my Garmin flashed another 1:19 and I crossed the line in 3rd place for the second race in a row. 

Even though I'd seen each quarter mile split pop up on my watch, I was shocked to see a final time of 5:21!  Apparently I am not very good at in-race math, but I was smiling like a kid in a candy store, having thoroughly surprised myself!  Officially my time was 5:19, and I probably wouldn't believe it, thinking either the timing was off or the course was short, if not for both my watch and the results showing the same thing.

After the race I joined Kim for part of her cool down (better than nothing, which is a bad habit of mine), cheered on Robert and the other guys in the men's race, and waited around for awards.  It took a while to get the results printed, so we had plenty of time for photos...

I am still a bit shocked by my time, even with the nice loss of elevation, and will either have to retire from the mile or work really hard before the next one!

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Not racing every weekend = finally getting in a solid training block!  I'm feeling surprisingly good given the steadily increasing volume, my diet is going pretty well (6 lbs down, 6 to do), and I'm looking forward to seeing what July will bring!

Total: Over 45 hours (Run, Bike, Swim, ElliptiGo, Hot Yoga)
Run: 118 miles, 16:02:06
Bike: 336 miles, 23:22:33

I'm also now officially registered for the ITU Long Course Du! I'm both excited and terrified about this...