Sunday, June 28, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

I've been working on modifying Hal Higdon's Novice Half Marathon Training to meet my schedule. I have master's swim class on Thursday nights and would like to keep going to work on my speed and technique. I also ride long and swim on Sunday mornings. With everything in pencil on my print out, I think I am ready to begin this week. The training schedule is twelve weeks long, but the Seattle Half Marathon is over twenty-four weeks away. Being able to repeat each week is going to be nice.

The schedule also allows for two races - a 5K during week 6 and a 10K during week 9. I've been searching for races to do in my area and here is what I've found:

Palisade Peach Festival 5 Miler - August 15th
The Other Half (Half Marathon in case we don't go to Seattle) - October 18th

There really isn't anything else out here on the Western Slope that isn't already full. I'm hoping I can also find some races near my parents so I can combine a visit with a race. The options there appear to be much more abundant.

Here's the funny thing; had we not moved away from my parents, I don't think I would have ever thought to do any of this. There is no way I would have considered doing a triathlon; I would have been happy to just walk various courses. What a difference a change in scenery makes. My training begins again tomorrow.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


You'll have to click on the comic to enlarge it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Signed up for Tri #2

I sent in my application and entry fee for Tri Glenwood last week. They only allow for 300 spots, so I'll know sometime in July if I made it in.

My goal in the next couple of weeks is to get back into the swing of things. I have downloaded Hal Higdon's novice half-marathon training guide. I'm hoping this will help with my speed and endurance. Also, there is a possibility I will be sent to Seattle again for training in November. The Seattle Marathon (and associated half-marathon) are during that time. Once I find out if I'm going to Washington, I will sign up.

I couldn't run a year ago and now I want to do half-marathon *and* and second triathlon by the end of the year. Yep, I'm definitely crazy.

Allow me to introduce you to "The Hill"

I had to travel by the tri course this week for work, so I thought I would get out of the car and take a picture for all of you to see. There were two other large hills on the race course, but this is the one I lovingly referred to my father-in-law as "the widow maker."

I still can't tell what grade the hill is, but it's probably somewhere in the 12-15% range and ~125 yards long?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I didn't say it would be easy . . .

Just that it would be worth it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I finished. 9 1/2 months of training culminated into an experience I will never forget. I was certainly not the fastest, but I wasn't the last one either.

My main goal was to finish. My secondary goal was to do each leg within a certain amount of time:

Swim - 20 minutes
T1 - 5 minutes
Bike - 1 hour 15 minutes
T2 - 5 minutes
Run - 45 minutes
Total time - 2 hours 30 minutes

Let me start off by saying we had a bit of drama the morning of the race. I thought I might have a slow leak in my tires, so I pumped them up before dinner on Friday night. If they were lower in the morning I knew I would have to carry an extra CO2 cartridge. I didn't even bother to look at my bike until 5:50am Saturday morning when my father-in-law showed up to drive us to the course (30 minutes away).

My front tire was completely flat.

I tried pumping it up again, but as I began to hear that unmistakable hiss of a punctured tube I knew I was in trouble. No problem, I thought; M is faster at patching a tube than I am so I'll ask him.

M sat there and quickly patched the tube, got it to hold some air and we put the bike back together. He went to pump the tire up to pressure and we heard the hiss again. Had we missed a puncture? We took the wheel off again to find that there wasn't another hole in the tube, but the patch M just placed had busted off. He sat down and began to mend the tube once again. It was about 6:10 at this point; we should have left the house at 6am. My father-in-law took M's bike and gear outside to start loading the car. I asked him if we had another tube for my bike, the answer was sadly no. We had tubes that would work, but they also had punctures (we really need to sit down and have a patch party). He patched my tube again and this time gave it a couple of extra minutes for the glue to dry.

While we were waiting I told him that if this didn't work he needed to go. I would catch up later and cheer him on. Apparently, this was out of the question for him. If all else failed, he said he would adjust his race bike and I could ride that instead. My wonderful husband wasn't about to let his wife give up.

M pumped the tube up again and within seconds the patch busted off.

It was 6:18 and the race started at 7:30. M told both my father-in-law and I that we needed to get in the car. We loaded my bike and gear and headed down to the only place in this small town open at 6am to get anew tube - Wal-Mart.

For those of you that know us you'll understand how much it pained us to have to go there. We don't shop at Wal-Mart unless there is no alternative. We choose not to use our money to support business practices we don't agree with. Obviously, we were desperate. We make it to Wal-Mart, get the tube (we only bought one, I have no idea why we didn't get a spare just in case), and run back out to the car. It was now 6:36. The 30 minute drive to Highline State Park begins.

I'm in the back trying to collect my thoughts. I have completely accepted the fact that I may not race. Stuff happens, and this time it just wasn't meant to be. We get there at 7:10 and park at with the other athletes. M then decides to tell me that he may have bought the wrong size tube. Awesome. He changes everything out, pumps my tire up, and miraculously my bike ready to go! We grab all of our gear and make our way (hurriedly) to the transition area to set up. At this point, we can see everyone else making their way to the starting line at the swim beach.
We first have to stop by the desk and get numbered and chipped. We are the last two athletes to check in. I get my number written on my left arm and left calf and my timing chip that straps around my ankle.
We then run over to the transition area only to find that all the spots are taken. Both M and I park our bikes against the make shift fence surrounding the area and I hurriedly put out my stuff and jump into my wetsuit. I grab my cap, goggles, nose plug and ear plugs and start walking quickly towards the water. Within 60 seconds, the first heat of swimmers has started. Thank goodness we were in Heat #2.

The water was so much warmer than it had been the two times we had trained in the lake. Everyone was excited and friendly. I had no time to stretch or mentally prepare. M said it was better for him that way; he was focused on getting my bike up and running instead of becoming a ball of nerves. Five minutes after the first heat left, it was time to go.

We purposefully waited back about 15 seconds until the mayhem had subsided. Other athletes had the same idea we did, so when we all saw each other standing there we laughed. M and I made our way to the first buoy and to be honest, it wasn't that bad; I didn't freak out like I thought I would. The thought of not being able to touch my feet to the ground really didn't bother me until I saw the first guy swim back to shore about 30 seconds in. He said he just couldn't do it. Then I started hearing people cry for help and wave their arms to the lifeboats out on the lake. It was great to see other swimmers stop to help them, but I knew I had no business trying to help someone when I can barely swim myself. I had to keep going.

M told me later there were two men that would swim quickly for 60 seconds or so then cry out for help so they could hold onto a boat to rest. Are you kidding me? What good does that do? I found myself repeating one phrase in my head to keep myself calm, "slow and steady wins the race." Or, in my case, "slow and steady keeps you from drowning." Either way, it worked. I stayed to the outside of everyone towards the end; I kept running over another swimmer and I didn't want to get in anyone else's way. I probably ended up swimming more like 600 meters than 500.
I got out of the water and walked my way to T1. After the last two times in the water, I didn't want to stumble and fall with my head spinning. Luckily, I did go ahead and buy some wax earplugs and put them in for the swim. What a difference some wax makes! I wasn't dizzy at all, but still wanted to be careful as the beach was rocky and really comfortable to walk on (as my girlfriends would say, the jagged rocks made me stabby). I joked with another woman who also set up her bike and gear against the fence. She was talking to her children while getting ready for the bike portion (she had to have been at least 60, what an inspiration!). I jumped out of my wetsuit, put on my shoes, grabbed my glasses, helmet and gloves and made my way to the end of the transition area (I don't know if you can see it in the pictures, but it's a pink line). You have to mount and dismount outside of the pink line or you can be DQ'd. This is always a good thing to know.

The bike was uneventful overall. The course is pretty hilly, there is quite a large hill at the beginning (and subsequently end) of the course. Going out was great, out of the three bigger hills two of them were downhill. It was coming back that was a bit more challenging. I had to walk all three hills; I just couldn't do it on my single speed and I had to strategize what would be in my (legs) best interest. Walking up that first hill I could feel my calves tighten up, I should have tried to stretch! I know all of the walking did horrible things to my time, but I also know that had I stayed on my 16 tooth cog I would have had the same problem *and* more time on the clock because I spinout at a lower speed. The walking also gave me a good spot to take in a Gu for the run portion. I'm satisfied with my choice to change cogs a week before, but I'm going to say here and now I'm doing the Hustle next year. Those hills will not beat me again!

I was only 3-4 miles into the course when I saw the frontrunner (who I believe ended up winning). I saw M about mile 9, but not before I saw a guy flip over his handlebars right at the turnaround point. I stopped for a few seconds to make sure he was okay, which he was. He had no idea what happened. All I saw from behind was his front wheel turning90 degrees and off he went. I think the fall spooked him a bit because I beat him and his race partner back to the transition area.

I made it back in what seemed like a reasonable time to hear the cheers of my in-laws as I went into T2. I have to say I'm pretty lucky in the family department. Since I don't bike with clip less shoes/pedals yet, I didn't have to waste time changing shoes. I can only hope once I start riding clip less I can still keep my T2 time down. Speaking of which, how do people have a T1 time of under 60 seconds? I need to get in on that secret. My helmet and gloves were off, my running cap was on and I was on my way to the trail. I think I made it less than a quarter of a mile before I had to walk. I knew the run would be difficult after expelling energy for the last hour and forty minutes, but its something I don't think you can ever really prepare yourself for until you're in it.I mean, brick workouts are great and give you a good feeling for your "jelly legs," but most training plans have you run for 10 minutes or less after a 6-8 mile bike. I will need to beef up my brick workouts for next time. The trail was pretty hilly, but very well marked. Highline Lake has a lot of side trails going off of the main one we were on, the organizers did a great job of putting down arrows to keep you on track. I made myself a deal that I would walk the up hills and jog everything else. That worked for me. There was one last hill around a dam before the final straight away, then probably 1/3 of a mile to the finish line. My legs felt warm and loose by the time I made it to the end; why couldn't they have been that way at the beginning of the run? It would have made things so much easier. My final pace was 13:59/mile. I know I can shave off a lot of time by building a better running base. That will be my next area of focus. After I crossed the finish line I was immediately asked for my chip. While I was taking it off I muttered, "Thank the sweet baby Jesus" and got a good laugh out of the race organizers. I got to spend some time with my family while waiting for M. We saw him coming up the straight-away and I went out to meet him. We jogged in together and I fell back as he crossed the finish line too. It was so easy to jog with him after the race, I almost feel like I didn't give it my all. I wasn't very sore on Sunday either. I don't know if I should be happy that my training helped me not be sore or sad I didn't give it 110%. The woman who won overall finished in 1:23:29 and is 42 years old, so there is hope for me yet. My final times were:

Swim - 20:29 (goal was 20 minutes)
T1 - 2:46 (goal was 5 minutes)
Bike - 1:14:33 (goal was 1 hour 15 minutes)
T2 - 1:13 (goal was 5 minutes)
Run - 43:19 (goal was 45 minutes)
Total time - 2:22:18 (goal was 2 hours 30 minutes)

I'm taking things easy this week and working on active recovery. I rode my bike to work today and will go to my Master's swimming class tomorrow. I want to start running again this weekend and build strength training into my regimen. I think this would really help my endurance. Hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Final Workout!

Tuesday: Bike ~14.5 miles
Wednesday: Swim 300 yards, run 25 minutes
Today: Swim ONE MILE!
Tomorrow: Absolutely nothing. Woot!

I took my bike for another spin with the 14 tooth cog. 36 hours from race day and I still don't know which one I'm going to ride (14 vs 16). Way to put off things until the last minute, huh?

I did my final run on Wednesday and my last swim tonight at Masters class. I hadn't planned on swimming that long or that far, but I ended up doing 3X500 and a 150. I also found out the pools is yards, not meters, so I went a whole mile tonight. Morgan said that my form was really good throughout which surprised me; I expected that as I grew more tired my form would get sloppy. I feel really good about tonight's workout; I'm going to stretch well tonight and tomorrow and enjoy my in-laws coming into town to cheer us on.

I probably won't be on again until Sunday, so wish me luck! Or at least send good thoughts that I don't drown or DNF.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Better. Not great, but better.

Monday - Wednesday - OOT for work so no training (boo!)
Thursday - Master's class, swim ~1200 meters
Friday - Day off
Saturday - Run ~4 miles
Sunday - Bike ~20 miles
Today - Open water swim (about 300-400 meters)

Our wetsuits came in on Friday and we had a chance to test them out today. My husband took the picture for me.

The water was probably 60-62 degrees, but that suit made all the difference! Yeah, it was really cold at first, but after about 10 minutes in the water I was able to put my head down and swim freestyle! Yay! I think the trick for me is doing some backstroke to warm up; this allows my head to get acclimated to the water so when I put my face down its not so cold. Looking up and sighting was easy as well. It still took my breath away and I was dizzy afterwards, but nowhere near as bad as it was last weekend.

It appears by using good ol' Google that I am not alone in this dizziness. There seem to be two trains of thoughts on this:

1. The water going into your ear is cold and causes vertigo, so wear earplugs.

2. Your blood circulation changes when you're swimming and trying to save your legs. Try kicking hard the last 50 meters or so to get the blood flowing again.

It looks like the majority say earplugs have taken away their dizziness completely in the cold water, so even though its a big "no-no" to bring something new into the mix on race day I may have to bite the bullet. I don't need to fall off my bike on the 16% grade hill (I should have taken a picture for all of you to see. It's going to be pretty interesting).

I switched out my cog on Sunday to 14 teeth (from 16). It's harder to start pedaling, but I get a lot more speed. That 16% grade hill is the only thing I'm second guessing. I'm going to give it one more ride tomorrow before I decide. My biggest fear is giving up my legs just to shave 5 minutes off the bike. Not worth it.
5 days to go.