Monday, March 28, 2011

Tri Not to Freeze


The next triathlon will most certainly take place in nicer weather.  One, because it will be in May or June which are traditionally warmer months than March and two, because if I show up and it is colder I am refusing to race.   It was 39, windy, and threatening to rain when we arrived at the Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatic Center and it stayed that way for the rest of the day.  This was a sprint with an extra short, 250 yard, swim, a 20k bike, and a 5k run  It was pretty ideal for someone with a weaker swim (i.e. me).    

About a week out, Chad & I sat down and came up with some goal splits, some more arbitrary than others.  6:00 swim, 1:30 T1, 41:00 bike, 1:30 T2, 20:00 run, for a 1:10:00 total time.   I was going to bike and run in my borrowed tri kit and work on having fast transitions.  In light of the nasty weather, on Sunday morning I decided to forgo my original plan and instead put on some clothes for the bike and run.  To that end, I decided to skip the watch and just race on feel.  At that point I thought it would be depressing to see slow times and make the entire experience less fun.  Just about an hour after the first swimmers started it was finally my turn!  I jumped in the water for the warmest  part of the tri and was off.

The results: 1:10:20, 16th overall, 4th age group.  104th ranked swim, 20th ranked bike, 3rd ranked run.  One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is not the same.  

Going in, I had been working hard on my swim and felt confident that it would go well and I would be in the top half.  I have no idea where this notion came from.  My swim time was ranked in the bottom quarter, so it should have been clear to me that it was unlikely I would magically end up in the top half.  I suppose it was simply a case of me refusing to realize just how poor my swimming is comparatively.  Well that myth has been shattered.  Setting up swim lessons with Nicole has moved to the top of my “To Do” list.  Even though I took the swim easy in an effort to stay relaxed and not get flustered, triple digits is unacceptable.  I did pass two girls though and Chad was yelling and telling me how great I was swimming, so I thought I swam well, which helped to boost my confidence going into the bike.  False confidence is better than no confidence!

T1 was slow because I was busy drinking some gatorade (still don’t dare reach for my water bottle on the bike), putting on socks, gloves, and a light coat.  Everyone around me was also putting on pants.  Hmmm this is a bad sign.

The bike was very cold.  All I really remember is passing a lot of people and being incredibly cold.    The straightaways were the worst, the wind really got to blowing hard and it made me want to slow down.  I tried to pick it up but my motivation to go faster would diminish every time I picked up the pace but then got even colder thanks to the biting wind from the increased speed.  The lone bright spot of the bike was the fact that the wind forced me to ride in the drops, which I successfully did, except for the turns, the whole ride.  I have never been so happy as when I heard Chad screaming for me as I neared T2.  I was almost done freezing.

T2 was less slow, but still not fast because I had trouble getting my helmet off thanks to frozen fingers.  Apparently, I was not the only one who struggled with the helmet.  One friend had to ask for help from a fellow competitor in the transition to get his helmet off and a woman ran the entire 5k wearing her bike helmet because she could not get it off.  Talk about dedication.  Luckily, I did not suffer the same fate.  Soon enough I was off, onto my strongest leg.

I couldn’t feel my feet, but that wasn’t anything new and at least I was starting to regain feeling in my legs.  Yea running!  The course was a double out and back, which meant I had to go up one nasty hill twice, but also had tons of people to pass and Chad, Chris, Sarah, and Joey cheering for me throughout the run.  The run was less cold  than the bike and I was passing people like they were standing still.  I didn’t feel like I was going fast at all, but my legs were too cold to go any faster, so I just  kept at it.  As I was “sprinting” down the finishing chute, the announcer made some nice comment about me having a great run, which was cool, and I could see Chad holding up a sweatshirt.  Victory!  

In spite of the terrible cold, I had a great time.  Totally different than run races and in many ways more fun.  Perhaps that is because during run races I have very high expectations.  With no prior experience, I just wanted to have fun and not crash or drown.  Mission accomplished.  Only 20 seconds off my goal time as well; I am confident I would have biked and transitioned faster had it been warmer.   And it will be for the next tri-  or I’m biking in a parka!

This was an incredible experience for me.  I want to thank Chris and Sarah for being our triathlon couple role models and for all the advice and encouragement at Cool Breeze.  Sarah also lent me a sweet tri kit that I promptly covered up with a jacket in order not to suffer from hypothermia.  

Also, congrats to One2Tri Racing teammates Kim Eagens and Joey Church.  Kim was the 9th overall female and won her (our) age-group.  A great race for Kim.  I hope to learn from Kim how to improve all of my splits.  Joey was the 9th overall male, won his age group and had the fastest bike split of the day!

We finished off the day with salads, mimosas, and college basketball with friends.  Can’t get much better than that :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

World Record Pending...

Chad -

This weekend the Charlotte Running Club attempted to break the existing 100 x 5k World Record of 37 hours, 12 minutes, and 53 seconds. After a few months of planning, 100 speedsters were signed up, with 15 more ready to go as subs. The weather decided not to cooperate, so for the vast majority of the 30 hours, 56 minutes and 49 seconds it took to set a new record, runners and some brave fans dealt with pouring rain and frigid temperatures. Despite Mother Nature’s best effort this the previous record was smashed by over six hours and now all that is left is for the Guinness people to process the evidence, which may take a while. Oh well, untill someone tells me otherwise I consider my self 1% of a world record holder.

The relay began at 6:06am on Saturday morning at Providence Day School. The super fast Hovii (i.e. Ben and Megan Hovis) started things off on the right foot with a 16:04 and a 17:48. Not shabby. I was leg 53 or so and ran at about 9:45pm on Saturday night. I arrived at 5:45pm to start my shift as a “captain” with Adam Mayes. All of our runners arrived on time, so there wasn’t much to do except count laps, cheer, and try to stay warm and dry. The latter two were impossible. The rain stopped for my leg, which I ran in 16:54, but started back up right when I went to cool down, so I bailed on that and instead watched Bobby Aswell run his second 5k of the day, this time in absolutely pouring rain.

I have had reoccurring issues with my right calf/achilles so I didn’t mind cutting the cool down. I was hoping to be able to get a lot of miles in while cheering but in my warm up I felt my calf letting me know it wasn’t happy. I have learned there is a very fine line between being OK and being is severe pain so I took it easy. I had asked Aaron if there was anyone available as a sub, he said there was but there certainly didn’t appear to be anyone actually at the track
and I selfishly wanted to be apart of the record, so I rolled the dice.

I started pretty relaxed and ran fairly even. About half way through I realized I was on pace for sub 17, so I concerntrated on that and the enthusiastic cheers of the wet club members around the track. I was pretty happy with my time considering the weather, time of day, the stair climb and the fact that I was solo on the track.

The entire experience was great. Aaron Linz set a new 5k pr during his leg and then stayed through the night to help out. Emily Barrett was there for over 24 hours helping out before her leg. Ben Hovis did an outstanding job of setting everything up, and of course, running a fast 5k at 6am. They made it so that the running was the easy part.

Earlier on Saturday, I participated in the first Duke Energy Tower Race to the Top. It was a 1,194 step run up. Participants were set into 10 waves of 50 racers and sent off every 15 seconds. Fellow One2Tri Racing teammate, Keith Mrochek, and I had a friendly competition going to see who would be faster. It was friendly mostly because I was pretty sure Keith would be faster. He lives on the stepmill at the gym, going paces normal people don’t know exist.

My enthusiasm and Keith's knowing smile.
Not a good decision to have him directly behind me.

He also enjoys trail/mountain running in the worst conditions possible. So running upstairs as fast as possible sounded right up his alley. In the end, I was 6th overall in 7:57. Keith tactically started right behind me, pushed past me early, and finished ahead of me in 7:36 for 3rd overall. Local distance monster, Michael Creason, put us all to shame with his 7:29.

My lungs still hurt two days later thanks to the dry air in the stairwell, but it was a fun event. One2Tri Racing teammate, Michael Beacham, did a great job conceiving and organizing the race. I wish he was with us racing in the stairwell even if it would have cost me another spot in the overall results.

One last shout out: how great is Great Harvest Bread? Very Very VERY Great! Seriously, if you have been to race where they are you know what I am talking about. They were at the run up and I had a sample slice of whole grain cinnamon chip w/ honey! Not only is the bread fantastic, but you will never find folks more excited to cut you a slice, and thank YOU for coming out. They are huge supporters of events in Charlotte and their support and quality product deserve our support in response. Go pick up a loaf and if you haven’t had one of their sandwiches, Danielle and I recommend the Queen City favorite!

Great Harvest Bread!
Overall, it was a pretty good Saturday.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Making the best of "bad" races


Well, the first GPx race is in the books.  It should be law that no one can complain about any race they win or run a PR.  In spite of that, bare with me...  

Chad finished 6th overall in a PR of 22:20, but was disappointed since he was hoping to have a chance to break 22 and challenge for the top 5.  He ran the last two miles alone with a large gap between him and 5th place and struggled to keep pace more than expected.  Despite racing frequently, Chad very rarely has a bad race.  It’s a once a year happening really.  So for him to not hit his goal time was unusual and frustrating.   Of course, coming one week after a hilly half marathon with a nice sized PR, it’s not overly shocking that he didn’t have his “A” game.  He still ran a PR and won his age group, so it wasn’t really a bad race by any stretch of the imagination, but he was frustrated nonetheless.

I was the first female in a rather pedestrian 25:15.  My goal was to be as close to 25:00 as possible.  The very minimal running I’ve been able to do has certainly not been fast.  Although I did run some great 400s the other day, my longer repeats have been in the 6:10-6:20 range, thus, any hopes of a PR  were long gone before race day.  I was incredibly lucky that all of super fast females in Charlotte were out of town at other races, so I was still able to take the win.  Last year I was 4th at this race in 23:45- what a difference a year makes!  

All and all it is a good starting point for the year.  We both locked up some great GPx points and got the series off to a good start.   Especially considering the fact that this race was looking like a points drop about a week ago.     

I also have to recognize a few friends who ran particularly impressive races this weekend:  The Captain, Paul Mainwaring broke his 5k PR on the track Friday and came out Saturday morning and took 3rd in the 4 mile; hopefully he didn’t strain his calf too bad in the double.  Michelle Hazelton battled the wind to notch a PR at the Shamrock Marathon.  Kelly Fillnow won the Tobacco Road Marathon in 2:55 and Alice Rogers smiled through the rain at the LA Marathon finishing in 2:55.  

It was also another impressive weekend for One2Tri racers, Mo Campbell PR’ed, broke 3 hours and was second behind Kelly at Tobacco Road in 2:59.  While Jon Clary and Keith Mrochek were in Wrightsville Beach dominating the Quintilies Marathon.  Jon finished 3rd in 2:51 while Keith broke his recent PR finishing 7th in 2:54.  A very impressive weekend of racing!

With the race on Saturday, Sunday was long run day.  Now I am not a huge long run fan in general, but the Sunday long run is the bane of my existence.  For whatever reason, it just feels so much worse when I have to run long on Sunday.  In my “3 weeks to get in shape to finish Boston plan” Sunday was a necessary 18 miles.  I eeked out a 15 the week prior, so I wasn’t particularly brimming with confidence at the start, but the run ended up being fine.  Chad decided to break up his 22 into 2 tempos so we could run together for a large part  part of the run.  He took off after mile 8 to tempo 6 miles, then we met up again at mile 13.5 for me (14.5 for him) and ran to 18 together before he took off again to finish up his run at a faster clip, while I sat on a bench and dreamed of the delicious homemade pizza dinner I would get later on.  Running with other people is so much better than solo long runs!

This week features the Duke Energy Tower Stair Run-up (Chad), a Guinness Book of World Record 100 x 5k attempt (Chad), and the Cool Breeze Sprint Triathlon (Dee).  Needless to say, it’s going to be a hectic weekend!  My only goals for my debut tri is to not drown in the pool or crash on the bike.  If I can manage that it will be a success!

Friday, March 18, 2011

GPx Eve


Tomorrow morning is the Shamrock 4 Miler, the first race in the Run For Your Life Grand Prix Series.  Danielle and I are supposed to be fit, fired up and ready to go.  We are just over 4 weeks out from the Boston Marathon, we should be in some of the best shape of our lives.  But, it seems there is an injury epidemic going around and we have gotten caught up in it.  I take a bit of flak (and deservedly so) about always being banged up, but always pulling it together just in time to race well.  I guess I have been pretty lucky in that that regard.  Danielle, on the other hand, has a whole different injury profile.  She is very rarely hurt, but when she is it has been something chronic and debilitating.

The current diagnosis on Danielle is tarsal tunnel syndrome, which is a very painful nerve injury in her right foot.  Unfortunately, fixing/healing her foot is completely incompatible with marathon training.  I have been extremely impressed by her willingness to tolerate a great deal of pain in order to complete many of her long runs.  But she has not been running the miles or consistently enough to have any chance of breaking her 2:59:43 PR even though the Boston course is much easier than the Thunder Road course.  I have been trying to convince her to relax and enjoy the Boston experience without worrying about her time, after all she hit her Boston/lifetime goal of breaking three hours at Thunder Road, and won the marathon to boot.  But it is hard to convince a competitor not to compete. Especially in the most famous foot race in the world. 

We both know that injuries come with the territory, but it is an especially frustrating time to be at less than your best with Boston looming and the GPx Series starting tomorrow.  However, the frustration with running has been tempered by the adventure of trying to pick up triathlon and the privilege of racing as part of the One2Tri racing team. 

Last year a string of injuries sent me into the pool.  Since I lacked the patience to aqua-jog, I taught myself to swim; which was a hard push toward triathlon.  More injuries have confirmed that triathlon is my future.  Of course, it wasn't long before I dragged Danielle with me.  We bought our first bikes last year, and although we have not ridden much we now try to swim, bike, and run each week.  It is amazing how running injuries motivate you to bike and swim. 

I did my first triathlon last fall, (Cane Creek, 1st place AG woot!) but I am even more excited about Danielle's first tri (Cool Breeze Sprint) next week!  I OWN her in the pool, but I think she dogs it on the bike to allow me to keep up.  Not to mention the fact that even at 85% she is still faster than me relative to our respective genders, a fact she commonly forgets.  So, if she can deal with the pain in her foot and stay calm for the 250 yard pool swim, I expect her fist triathlon will be a success and more than that a great time!

Thanks for reading this far, hopefully this his and hers blog is the most embarrassing thing I do this year.  We will be back with a race update sometime soon.  C.