Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fastest Swim Ever


In case you've missed it, I'm not the best swimmer.  I started swimming last May while we were honeymooning in Jamaica.  It was hot and they had a sweet lap pool and frankly that seemed like a better plan than running in the heat, so I gave it a go.  I was awful.  When we got home, I went back to just running until July when I decided to try adding swimming to my training.  My first goal was to swim 1600m in an hour (3:45/100m pace).  It took awhile.   Here is a note from one of my first swims: "Kept my face in the water the whole time, which was hard because I'm pretty sure I'm going to drown at any moment but amazingly I managed to survive."   I've come a long way since then.

Last night I hit up the MAC after work for my weekly "long" swim.  With Augusta rapidly approaching, I decided each week I needed to do one swim of 2000m or more.  Last week was my first "long" swim and Chad had me time myself so I could see my progress.  I decided to time myself again and hoped for a good swim. 

I hit the first 500m so fast, I thought I miscounted.  I timed the next lap and realized that I had not miscounted, I was just swimming faster than I thought.  I slowed it down a bit on the second 500 fearing that I would die sometime towards the end if I kept up that pace (more irrational fear of dying in the pool).  Instead my pace stayed pretty much the same for the whole swim.  I wasn't taking it easy, but I also wasn't killing myself or taking breaks. 

The end result was a 44:20 2000m swim, with splits of 10:55, 11:10, 11:08, 11:07.  That's 2:13/100m pace.  I had gotten myself into the 2:20-2:30 range consistently, but hadn't managed to take the next step.  Until yesterday.  Obviously, I still have a long way to go.  Most people consider 2:13 pace quite slow, but for me, it's a breakthrough.  Note that I'm still much slower than the "World's Worst Olympic Swimmer" in the video.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Two Races in Two Days


For some unknown reason about two weeks ago, I decided it would be a great idea to do two races in two days.  Namely Grand Prix race #7, the Run For Your Cause 4 Miler, and the Stumpy Creek Sprint Triathlon.  The 4 miler was Saturday morning.  Stumpy Creek hosts an international distance triathlon on Saturday and a sprint distance on Sunday morning.  Initially, this seemed like a great way to sneak in another triathlon, gain more experience, and possibly sneak in an age group award.  The International tri on Saturday is a double points race in a statewide triathlon series, so all the big guns were going to be participating in that event.  I figured most wouldn't double and the ones that did would be tired.  Naturally, this ignored the fact that I had a race the day before and would be tired as well.  Danielle wisely offered to cheer and take pictures instead of doubling. 

Run For Your Cause 4 Miler

Saturday morning dawned a cool 65 degrees with 80% humidity.  This was downright pleasant considering the 75/90% combo we've been dealing with for a solid month now.  I hoped my legs were ready to run fast, because the weather was about as good as possible and I wanted to take advantage.  

The course has a lot of turns and is considered pretty difficult.  The first mile is primarily uphill.  The second is primarily downhill.  The third mile is rolling, and the final mile features one steep uphill before a long downhill to the finish.  The goal going into the race was to break 22:00 or at least PR by breaking 22:20.  I hit the mile marker in an abysmal 5:40.  If Billy and Richard hadn't been right behind me I would have gone into a full blown panic.  As it was, I was very concerned about the time, but tried to stay calm, knowing that my usual racing partners were with me, so perhaps we were executing some great strategy. 

During the second mile I started to find my groove heading down East Blvd and began passing some people.  To no great surprise, Billy and Richard were right with me.  I hit the second mile in 5:23, putting me close to my goal race pace of 5:30.  The race was on.

By this point I was in about 6th place and getting some confidence. But the 4 mile race is a tough distance and I think I was preserving just a bit for Richard's kick after getting dominated in a the last mile of Summer Breeze. Third mile in 5:29 and nearly on goal pace. 
Modeling the visor I got
for my 5th place finish
After the third mile marker, Richard attacked, as expected.  I tried to make him work to pass me which he finally did just before the last hill on Lyndhurst.  But after making him work to get by me the hill came at a good place and I made a move there and re-took the lead.  From the top of the hill, I was running scared/downhill the whole way to the finish.  I was able to pick off one guy in front of me for 5th overall.  I closed in 5:05 and a HUGE(:38 sec) 4 mile PR in 21:42.

I was extremely happy with my time, but noticed on the cool down that my legs were not very happy with me.  For some reason, they didn't appreciate running a 5:05 mile down a long hill.  My quads were feeling awfully trashed.  We got a bit lost of the cool down and ended up running 11.5 miles on the day.  

After some errands, Dee & I hit booty loop for a quick and easy spin and then to the pool to loosen up our legs.  We went out to one of favorite casual restaurants for dinner and ate way too much food and way too rich of a dessert.  By the time I went to bed just before midnight, I was tired and still nursing some sore legs.  But I had paid for the race, so race I would.  

Stumpy Creek Sprint Triathlon

The alarm rang at 4:01 am.  After one round of snoozing, Dee hopped out of bed and started the coffee and getting ready process.  In a sign that we truly ate too much last night, neither of us were hungry and decided to forego eating before the race.  This turned out to be a very poor decision for me. 

We previewed the first and third mile of the run course during the warm-up and all I saw was hill.  My legs were sore, tired, and not interested in going very fast.  I decided to just try and relax and have fun.  The swim went very well.  I was third out of the water in my wave of Men under 40.  Although my time doesn't look that impressive, the course was long yesterday and people seemed to think it was a bit long again today.  Regardless, third out of the water in my wave means I did a good job.

I headed off on the bike ready to bike strong and keep myself in position for an age group award.  By about mile 2, I knew I was in serious trouble.  My quads were screaming.  I was feeling terrible.  The decision not to eat came back to haunt me, as I had no energy.  I grabbed my water bottle for some calories, but dropped it.  Not being 100% sure of the rule regarding dropping things on the bike, I immediately turned around, stopped, got off my bike and picked up the water bottle.  I thought there was a 2 minute penalty for leaving things on the course and figured my turn around cost me a minute, which was better than two. 

During this break, several guys passed me on the bike.  The rest of the bike was miserable.  I felt like I was bonking, but didn't want to get any more water for fear of dropping the bottle again.  There was one last big hill at mile 14 and it felt as though I was never going to reach the top.  I was spinning, but going no where. 

Finally, I made it to my sneakers and was off on the run.  Too bad I had nothing left.   I felt slow and sore and I passed all of two people.  Granted, there were not many people in front of me at this point, but still, I'm used to passing lots of people on the run, so this was demoralizing.

One of the faster parts of
my Stumpy Creek Sprint Tri
I ended up 4th in my age group by just under a minute.  The same minute I lost while stopping to pick up my water bottle.  I broke my streak of having the fastest run time of the day by a couple of seconds.  So all in all, it would seem like I had a terrible race, but that's not entirely true.  My swim was very strong.  My transitions were much better than the last two races, even accounting for the smaller size.  I learned the importance of eating something for breakfast, even if you're not hungry and the race isn't that long.   Our friends Kristen and William were up from Lexington, SC to celebrate their anniversary with some triathloning, so we spent time with them after the race talking and eating. 
Dee and I went home, ate lunch, then enjoyed a 2 hour nap with Max.  Max really likes that part of triathlons.  Plus, we had to rest and recover to prepare for the 36 mile bike/4 mile run brick that awaited us in the afternoon!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Early Birthday Present

Since Chad picked this out, I'm not spoiling the surprise:

Happy Birthday (about 6 weeks early) to my wonderful husband!  I expect some blazing fast times out of this beauty.

I hope you love this present as much as you love last years birthday present:

I do not think this theme will continue for the 2012 birthday season, if only because we're running out of room to store all these bikes. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Broken Link = Race Cancelled


Last year, after about 3.5 months of swimming, Chad decided to tackle his first multi-sport race, the Harris YMCA Splash & Dash.  It consisted of a 400m pool swim followed by a 5k run.  Chad ended up second to Billy by one measly second.  We discussed during the cool down that perhaps sitting during the transition was not the best approach.  But it was his first time dealing with a transition and you really need a few good stories like that so you can laugh at yourself sometimes. 

This year, Chad was out for revenge.  With 3 triathlons under his belt and the transition strategy ironed out, Chad was ready to put up an even better time than last year and go for the overall win.  Unfortunately, the race was cancelled!  Registration open on June 1st, but the registration link was broken.  At first we thought that registration was not open yet and would open later than anticipated, but as the weeks passed the link remained broken.  When I finally emailed the race director on Tuesday, she informed me that the race was cancelled because no one registered. 

In retrospect, we should have emailed almost immediately when noticing the link was broken instead of waiting and thinking it would be fixed.  Last year several hundred people participated in this event, so obviously it was rather popular and would have had a similar turnout this year.  Chad ended up with a week off of racing, which was nice, but hopefully they remedy the problem next year and he can participate in the Splash & Dash, because it really is a great event. 

Despite being sad the race was cancelled, Chad rallied and we enjoyed a great weekend visit from my sister.  Chad cooked us two fantastic dinners, before taking us out to The Cowfish on Sunday.   Way too much delicious food was consumed.  The sister had a great visit and enjoyed meeting Max.  Max, of course, loved meeting his Aunt and gave out copious amounts of kisses.  All in all, a solid weekend.  The next GPx race is July 16th, so this week is quality over quantity and good rest!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Firecracker 5k


Another week, another race, but for the first time this year, a win. Special thanks to John, Aaron, and Paul for not racing despite being on site and working the water stop. This was an odd week, as I ended up in Raleigh for two days for work. I had planned on running the Summer Track Series Championship 5k on the track Tuesday night, but with a 6pm start time and my meeting ending at 4pm it was impossible to get back in time. Danielle had requested a week off of racing and that I did not wake her at 6am getting ready for a race, as she can’t fall back asleep very well.  She thought that meant I would take a week off of racing, I took that to mean that racing was allowed if it was a night race. Luckily for us, there was a night race. How perfect. So with my workouts all messed up by the trip to Raleigh and too many bike miles on my legs at the end of the week, I decided to jump in the Firecracker 5k on Sunday night and Danielle decided to volunteer at the CRC water stop.

At the start I saw Alejandro, who is a very good runner, but injuries have sidelined him from any speed work, so he was just hoping to break 18, (which he did). I’m hoping he continues to get better and can make it out to more races. I also got to meet Frank Fawcett who is a beast of triathlete, heading to Kona this fall. I tried to get him to tell me what he was looking to run but he said he doesn't run 5k's, had a bunch of long running and biking on his legs from the weekend and was just having fun. He ran sub 19.

At the 2 mile marker
30 seconds into the race I was in about 15th place as a large group sprinted down the hill at sub 5 pace. A minute into the race the course turned uphill and suddenly I was alone in first running about 5:20 pace. It was a rolling course and I couldn't really tell if one mile was worse than any of the others. It seemed like we either went up or down, but never flat. The first two miles felt very good and I got a huge pick-me-up going by the CRC water stop twice. Aaron was nice enough to throw some water on me and Danielle tried to take some pictures. She is a better runner than a photographer. I struggled a little coming home on the last mile as the volume on my legs caught up to me a bit. Perhaps the 22 mile bike ride with Danielle at noon was a bad idea. I was very happy to see my time (16:44), as I would have been very happy with anything under 17. Back-to-back races with the same finishing time. I’m feeling good and hoping to continue to shave seconds off my time in the upcoming weeks.

Max modeling the super
soft race t-shirt

Next weekend is the Splash & Dash (300 yard pool swim and a 5k run) and a visit from Danielle’s sister. Last year, I was 2nd to Billy at the Splash and Dash by one second. In retrospect, sitting down during the transition was a bad idea, but it was my first multi-sport race so everything was still new to me. I’m hoping my swim and my much improved transition skills can translate into a win.