Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Let's do this

So finally, FINALLY, I'm getting back into training. I was bored at work on Sunday [watching dogs sleep for hours on end isn't exactly fascinating] and so I had brought along "Run Faster", which I was almost done with. I finished the book and then started looking at the training plans in the back. The half marathon plans are 16 weeks...well isn't that convenient, the BAA Half Marathon is in 16 weeks! And so now, armed with a training plan that I'm planning on following pretty closely [since I'll feel much worse about not running if I know exactly what I have to do], I'm going to go after a sub-1:40 half marathon. It's going to be interesting, and I'm sure there are going to be lots of random other races [and hopefully other PRs, since my 5K road PR really sucks right now compared to what I can do in XC/track...also my 10K could really use some work], but I think for now I'm going to make that my ultimate goal. It's so weird to me, training for 4 months or whatever for ONE race..not at all like XC where you're training but continuously racing so you see improvement over time, and its OK if you have a bad race because there's one next week. Training for a goal race...it's like, you've got one shot. But I feel like a half is long enough that it's a good "goal" [at this point I honestly think making a 5K my goal would just be too weird for me], and hopefully actually training for that specific distance will help me run a big PR. So yeah...woo! The first run of the training plan called for an easy 4 miles with a couple of hill sprints at the end [Brad Hudson is a big fan of short hill sprints because they give a lot of strengthening benefits and reduce injury...sounds good to me!] I picked a loop that's hilly for the first half and mostly flat at the end - it actually turned out to be a little over 4.5 miles but that's ok. I didn't feel that great and I honestly think I have to admit that I did get a little out of shape when I hardly ran for 3 weeks...but oh well. It probably didn't help that I was running 7:30 pace over hills - I really need to learn the meaning of "easy", since a lot of stuff in this training plan is at half marathon pace [goal = 7:35] so yeah...easy should probably be slower than that. :)

Non running related, I am really having a problem that I'm going to call 'bike envy'. Ahhh - I want a bike soooo badly! Every time I see a person riding around on a nice road bike I just have to stare at them for awhile and think about how great it would be if I had one. Seriously - I am still not over the amazingness of the triathlon. Sigh. I know this probably isn't what I should be thinking about spending money on - helloooo, I'm moving to Boston, living in a much more expensive apartment, etc next year - buuuut I just can't help myself. They have this cool thing in Madison right now where there's a scale "solar system" laid out on the bike paths...its like 25 miles long or something and there are signs for all the planets. I wanna ride it! But I'm not really sure if my roommate's mountain bike would last 25 miles without falling apart...oh well. I'll stop whining now. :) But seriously. Triathlons. Life changing? I think so. The BF and I definitely had a conversation at a bar last night [yes, a bar...the glory of not having a 9-5 job yet is you can go out any night of the week, haha] about when I would do an olympic, half-iron, and Ironman distances. I think we have Ironman happening when I'm like 32...so yeah, that's something to shoot for...mayyybe I should actually run a marathon first. :P

Hmm, well I guess I really don't have that much to say. I'm so lame lately - work, work, WORK! Hopefully as my training progresses I'll have more fun stuff to write about. I just found out that my club is going to host NIRCA regionals for cross country next year. That's super cool, and really exciting, but it was honestly the first time I kind of had a pang of sadness about not being here next year. I can't even explain how much I'm going to miss the WTC. The people I've met, the experiences I've had...it's everything I imagine being on a college team would be like, except minus the free clothes and practice every day and actually having to be good...and really, that's what's made the experience so fantastic. Talk about life-changing...I wouldn't be the person, let alone the runner, that I am today if I hadn't discovered the club, and my college life would have been nowhere near as incredible. <3 WTC <3

And on a completely random note, I just discovered my online journal that I started junior year of high school and kept going with until junior year of college. The bulk of the entries are from freshman and sophomore year of college - holy entertainment! This is why I keep these things...because the insanity and boy angst of those two years is quite hilarious in retrospect. I describe everything in INCREDIBLE detail...like, was it really necessary to document exactly what happened at each and every party I ever attended? Or who texted me at what point in the night? Haha but I won't lie, it makes for pretty awesome reading. One of my favorite lines so far: " friday night was quiiiite the shitshow, starting out with a power hour and going where only post-power hour nights lead." Oh dear. In case you haven't noticed, I write the way I talk [so if I was talking, I actually would have said quiiiiite that way] and that is more apparent than ever in these stream of conciousness entries. Since reincarnating this blog, I've at least started trying to form actual sentences, and use some grammar...not always though haha. :)

Well, this entry sure is all over the place. I think I'm going to start reading "Running With The Buffaloes" again, I love that book and it always pumps me up to get my ass out the door and running!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's too darn HOT!

I don't know what is going on in Wisconsin this week, but I'll tell you one thing: I don't like it! We are having an insane heat wave - yesterday, there was a high of 94 (which was almost a record!), and the next 3 days are looking like highs in the 90s too...plus over 50% humidity, so 90 ends up feeling like 95. Ugggggh. I don't mean to be whining about summery weather, but I think when it reaches the point where it's literally uncomfortable to be outside unless you're about to dive into a pool, I have to draw the line. Plus, running in heat and I don't get along very well. It forces you to run slower, I always feel sluggish and crappy, and humidity just ruins my life. Yesterday I downed 2 liter bottles of water and a 32 oz Powerade in about a 5 hour time period, and I still didn't feel hydrated - yuck!

Of course, this stupid heat had to show up just as I'm actually making an attempt to get back into actual training - for what, I don't know, but I'm basically looking at running 6 days a week, with at least one of those being longer than 7 miles and starting to do some tempo work and hills, and then swimming on my off day. That's what I want to do. But. Between this ridiculous weather and my work schedule, my plans aren't going that well so far. Yesterday I did 6 miles at 10 pm...and it was STILL 80 degrees with 60% humidity. Now really, that's when you know its too hot! I felt ok, and I like running at night, but I don't like it because it basically limits me to one route: the one well-lit and busy road near my house. It's a nice run, and there are some hills and stuff so its somewhat challenging, but I don't like being forced to run the same thing day after day. But last night it was alright. There's a frozen custard stand about halfway to my turnaround point that has saved my life on numerous occasions...my stomach dislikes hot weather as much as the rest of my body...so I ended up needing to stop there, and I splashed some cold water on my face and felt much better heading into the big hill of the run. I was planning on getting up super early this morning and running then, but after staying up until 2 chatting with the BF and one of my other roommates, that, uh, didn't really happen. I'm helping out at our seconds summer track meet after work today, so I'm hoping I can just get a few miles in on the track after the meet is over - I do love running under the lights! But I'm not letting myself take another day off this week - I'm already way too far behind in building any kind of summer base and its really time to stop slacking. So, somehow, some way, I WILL be running tonight!

It's just weird right now, having nothing specific to train for. I've measured my life in seasons for so long - summer XC base, XC, winter base, indoor track, outdoor track, rinse, repeat - that I feel like now that running XC next year isn't a guarantee [though it is still a possibility], that I don't know what to do with myself. I think once I get to Boston and figure out how/where I'm going to train, if there's a group I can train with, what I'm going to train for, etc - I'll be much better off, but right now I'm just kind of floating around. I need to RACE again. The triathlon made me want to do more triathlons, but I havent run a race in a month, and that's a long time for me. I'm hopefully doing a 4K XC race at Parkside on July 11, which is for a really good cause and also is fun because it's cross country - lets just hope I don't have to work. Speaking of, I'm off to work again, and actually kind of happy about it because work, unlike my house, has air conditioning. :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

The art of racing in the rain

I waited all day today for the storm to hit. We've had all these forecast of these huge thunderstorms that are supposed to be coming by and what's actually happened has been nothing but a drizzle. But finally, after a gross, humid, hot morning and afternoon, finally the clouds broke open and that was my cue to go do one of my favorite things ever: run in the rain.

When I stepped out my door it was a light drizzle, but soon there was a full on downpour in progress. Honestly, I can't think of anything more amazing....cruising along with raindrops hitting your face, the only sounds of the rain on the ground and the sound of your breath, your feet splashing through puddles, not caring how fast you're going, or how far, or about anything, because it's raining and it's glorious. I didn't even bring a watch because that's not what this run was about...it was simply about savoring every single moment of this fantastic thing that I've somehow gotten to be able to do. The only people I saw for the entire 7.5 miles were two little girls standing on a bridge I run under, doing the YMCA dance and cheering for me - how cool is that? And on I went, again, grinning randomly and looking up to the sky, so thankful for this fantastic rain storm, and this fantastic run. When I run in the rain, I honestly feel like I'll never be tired, like I can fly. I think if I have have the chance to race in the rain - real rain, not some drizzle - I'll set some kind of PR I can't even imagine. There really is just nothing like it...everything just leaves my mind besides how much I'm enjoying what I'm doing and how amazing it really is. As cheesy as it may sound, I honestly think that there are few things in life that make me feel as alive as running in the rain...and I will never stop being thankful for that. :)

Also, if you haven't watched this short video, you should...I think it beautifully sums up the simplicity and the total joy of running.

Onwards from AKQA on Vimeo.

And on a completely unrelated note, plans for the WTC Beer Mile are in full swing! :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Working day and night

This is the one and only "professional" picture taken of me during the triathlon. This proves that I was at the race...and also that I look like a man in a wetsuit. Although I'm about to pass a dude who looks about 10 years older than me, so that's cool. Also I think this is the first time in my life my arm has ever looked like it had any muscles in it at all...so that's also cool.

But enough triathlon talk for now, since that awesomeness [is awesomeness really a word? The spell-checker on here didn't say it was wrong...hah] is probably going to be put on hold until I can somehow find $500-$700 to buy a bike...boo that. Maybe by the end of the summer I'll have saved up enough to do so...that money should probably be going to my apartment in Boston, but think of all the money I'll save on transit if I can commute by bike!

Tonight I ran the steeplechase at our summer track series meet, which was very fun because it's super low key and it was nice not to kill myself in a race for a change. :) I ran only about a minute slower than my PR, which makes me think my PR should probably be a whole lot better since this race wasn't hard at all...actually, I never thought steeple could actually be fun, but it was! I bet if I raced it more I would be more successful...but anyway. So I ran it with Nicole, which was fun because we're the two crazy 100 hurdlers-turned-distance-runners so it's quite fitting that we would run a distance/hurdles race together. :) But I love helping out at these meets because its so much fun to see all these people...from a high school kid who's never run before doing the steeplechase, to some 14 year old who ran EVERY SINGLE EVENT, to a 70 year old dude running the 400 and 800, to little kids who are just so excited to be out there...coming together and just enjoying the sport. It's a great opportunity for more competitive people to have another chance to race, but my favorite part is seeing the kids who think running around the track is the greatest thing that's every happened to them. It always reminds me of why I do all of these ridiculous things in the first place when I see people who are out there simply for the joy of doing it...that's really what its all about. Also, there was an under-7 50 yard dash, which totally made my day. I had a blast helping to time and of course, running the "turbo javelin", another exciting event for the under-7 set...you would be amazed at how entertaining little kids find chucking a plastic thing into a field. And I think if I could, all of my runs would take place under the lights, on a track, in the middle of the night. It's beautiful, peaceful, weird, all at the same time...but there is just something special about the atmosphere that happens under the lights.

Well, it's off to bed for me...work at 6:30 am again. I have been/will be working 13 days of the past/next 14 days so I really am feeling like I've done nothing but work...and running has suffered as a result. Hopefully feeling good during the steeple can snap me out of this weird laziness I've been in, because I really feel like its about time I start training for real again.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lucky Number 1402: Elkhart Lake Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Wow. Where do I even begin with this one? Well, let's put it this way: it's been my goal for awhile to win my age group in a race - for the most part, I've had a pretty good track record of getting 2nd or 3rd, but never quite squeaked out the win. The thought of that win coming in a triathlon...let alone my first triathlon...was pretty much absurd, since this ridiculous idea didn't even surface until a little over a month ago, when the BF somehow cajoled me into signing up for this race. So reader beware: this is going to be a loooong story, because I want to remember every second of it...since I have the feeling this won't be the last you hear of triathlons from me. In sections, as always, here is my race report!

I left for Elkhart Lake on Thursday afternoon and don't worry, I was already starting to get nervous. A really great swim workout on Tuesday followed up by a 15 mile bike ride/6:19 mile combo on Wednesday had left me feeling a little more confident than expected about my chances to actually compete, as opposed to just finish the race, and I was in a fabulous mood as I cruised down the highway belting out songs on the radio [one reason I liked driving down by myself, hehe]. I stopped in Brookfield to pick up my wetsuit and as soon as it was in my hands a shot of adrenaline went through me - I'm going to be wearing this, I'm going to be swimming in a lake... -Thursday night was full of non-triathlon related things, but I was already starting to get nervous/excited for what lay ahead. Friday was pretty much entirely devoted to race prep. I drove the bike course with the BF - now THAT got me nervous. Hills, hills, and more hills...well, at least we got to ride past a llama farm! But it was just a little bit of a shock seeing how long it actually was, and how hilly. Yikes. Next up, biking the run course. The BF's mom is amazing and let me borrow her incredible road bike for the race, and I wanted to take it out for a spin since I'm used to riding crappy mountain bikes. I can't even describe the difference - it was sooo smooth and even going uphill wasn't too terrible. The BF and I went out for a quick run for me to just shake out my legs [and since he hadn't run in awhile, hehe :)], then his sister [who was also doing the race] arrived and so it was time to go for a swim!

So first of all let me just say - wetsuits are AWESOME! The water was 60 degrees, but I wasn't cold in the least bit. You feel so smooth and swimming feels easy, and if you do decide to stop, you just float! It's seriously fantastic. We swam around most of the course [and honestly, I was having so much fun I could have stayed out there all day], then decided we didn't want to tire ourselves out too much. Getting the wetsuit off went off without a hitch - good news for trying to get through transition fast! I was initially a little concerned about being cold in the sleeveless version, but I ended up loving it.

Trying to look like I know what I'm doing in my sweet Zoot suit! :)

We then went to check in - I found my number on the list...1402! My lucky number is 14 [it's a long, ridiculous story as to why, dating back to 4th grade...I won't explain it now], and I honestly hope every time I get a race number that it's going to have a 14 in it..and it's never happened...until this! So I felt like that was a pretty good omen of things to come. We then went to a pre-race meeting where they went over the course and penalties and things [there are a LOT of bike penalties in triathlons...made me really nervous]. But I had already gone over the courses so I was just sitting there, kind of zoning out, when all of a sudden I looked over and saw these two girls I went to school with...one of whom I had a bit of a long-standing rivalry with dating back to 6th grade band chair tests for oboe [I got first chair, she was not a happy camper, we never got along after that]. Anyway, if you know me at all, you know I'm insanely competitive - to a fault at times -so if I didn't already have enough motivation to try to do well in this race, I now had one more goal - beat those two girls.

After an amazing dinner of stuffed shells, spinach salad, and bread [the BF's mom is an amazing cook], it was pretty much time for bed. We went to bed at around 9:15 and I was honestly surprised I could fall asleep that early, but I completely passed out.

Race Day
As soon as my alarm went off at 5:15 am, I was wide awake. I was hoping to leave for the transition area by 6, with the race actually starting at 7:30. As always, the first thing I did when I got out of bed was start eating...I wanted to be fully digested by the time I had to start swimming. I had a banana, peanut butter Clif Bar, and some fierce grape Gatorade I had mixed up the night before, then I quickly got into my triathlon outfit [spandex track shorts and one of my Nike running tank tops] and put on the bottom of my wetsuit. It wasn't that nice out, so I was wearing a few layers on top, plus socks and sandals...the wetsuit kept my bottom half nice and toasty. I double checked all of my stuff, got 'my' bike ready, and was pretty much ready to go by a little after 5:30...I'm always the total weirdo who is ready excessively early for races...hey, I like getting there early and being able to relax and get in my zone at the actual race site. I walked with the BF and all of my crap down to the resort where the race was taking place - only about a 5 minute walk from his house which couldn't have been more perfect. I got body marked [both arms, both legs, and both hands...I really don't think I had 1402 written on me enough times...] then one last kiss from the BF and I was headed into transition!

All ready to go at 6 am on race morning.

I quickly found my spot and got all set up - it didn't take too long since I honestly didn't have too much to deal with. I got my bike up on the rack with the helmet on the seat, laid out my shoes with the laces loosened so they would be easy to slip into, pinned my number onto my race belt and laid it out for the run...that was really about it! I was happy because the numbers were organized by age group, with the youngest at the end, so my bike was in the last rack and so was really easy to find. All of a sudden, I noticed that most of the people around me were wearing chips. I knew we were supposed to have chips since it was a time trial start...but I hadn't seen anyone giving them out or anything. I asked someone where she got hers, and apparently we were supposed to get them at check-in the night before! Uh, makes a ton of sense, but no one had said anything about picking up chips at check-in. Ahhh! It turns out they were still doing chip pickup inside the resort, so I was dashing around with my heart pounding trying to find someone who knew where the day-of check in was...there were only 15 minutes until transition closed and I needed to go back and get my swim stuff and drop off my warmup layers. Let's just say I was VERY relieved when I finally had the chip in my hand - that kind of stress was the last thing I wanted to deal with right before a race.

With transition all set up and as ready as I was ever going to be, I headed down to the beach for the pre-race briefing. I waded in the water to get my swim cap wet and put it on, then headed back over to the staging area, where I ran into Nikki and Mindy [the two girls I knew]. The three of us were chatting with one other girl who was also doing her first triathlon - Nikki had done 2 and Mindy 6, so I was feeling pretty much like I didn't know what I was doing compared to them. A couple of last minute announcements, and soon the first sprint wave was headed down to the beach. I was nervous, excited, and just kind of in awe - I'm doing this. I can't believe I'm doing this! It seemed to take forever, but finally they were calling the 1400 group forward down into the chute. Some quick good lucks, and everyone focused on the start banner. The timing mat got closer, closer, closer...finally I stepped onto the mat with Nikki [oh the weirdness, that I should start my first triathlon with someone who I spent 3 years in a much different type of competition with]. "5 seconds" Wait...wait...wait...."GO!"

The Swim
With the yell of GO, I sprinted off the beach and into the water. I really had no clue when I should switch over from running to swimming, but I basically wanted to get ahead of Nikki ASAP so I dove in when I got about up to my knees. Kind of strange, swimming as people are running all around you...but yeah. The first few strokes after diving into the water were a little bit of a shock - my wetsuit was sleeveless so my arms were exposed [although I was happy to have my full range of motion] and I kind of gasped a little bit with each breath just because of the sudden cold, but everything quickly resolved itself and I was almost immediately passing people who had started just ahead of me. The swim seemed to take about a minute. I don't really remember thinking at all, all that was going through my mind was relax, relax, don't kill yourself, this is just the beginning...get past these people, stay ahead of the Tosa girls. I was passing people pretty consistently, which was sometimes a problem because I would be practically on top of some lady leisurely backstroking along before I realized what was going on and then would have to do some kind of weird head-out-of-water stroke to get away and keep swimming. I was at the turnaround buoy before I knew it and headed back to shore - and when did I think I couldn't even swim 400 meters? I had some trouble swimming straight in the second half, I think because the lane was a little bigger and I was running into more people who were slowing down in the second half of the swim, so I got a little off course a couple of times but overall it wasn't too bad. I also really didn't know when to stop swimming and stand up and run out of the water...but I guess when my arms started hitting the bottom I knew it was time. I stood up and started to run out of the water - and honestly, that was probably the most difficult part of my race! My heart was pounding like crazy and I was tiiiiired...I hit the timing mat on the beach and quickly looked at my watch...it read 6:20...ahh! I was expecting something like 8:30 for the swim so....yeah. Pleasant surprise! It suddenly dawned on me that maybe I should be taking off my swim cap and goggles and unzipping my wetsuit and things as I was running, so I started trying to do that as I ran up into transition....which seemed to take soooo long! Swim - check!
Swim split: 6:22 (32nd overall/11th woman)
I'm in this picture somewhere...maybe? Everyone looks the same in a wetsuit and swim cap!

I finally made it into the transition area and found my bike - like I said, it was easy since I was in the last row. This was all craziness to me and I really had no idea what to do other than go, go, go! My wetsuit came off fabulously, and my shoes were perfect - I'm so glad I went with the XC spikes because they were really easy to slip into and I could wear them without socks - seriously, I probably saved myself a minute right there! That was really about all there was to do. I put on my helmet before even grabbing my bike [you get DQed if you get on your bike without your helmet buckled, and I wasn't taking any chances] and soon enough I was dashing down the walkway towards the bike start. Right before the mount line, I saw the BF and family and my mom who were cheering for me and I flashed them a big smile...hell, the swim was over, I was feeling great, and this was so much freaking fun! There was an orange line to mount your bike after...I dashed over it, got my feet into the pedals without a hitch...and I was off for a 20K on the bike!
T1 split: 3:03 (17th overall/7th woman)

The Bike
This was where I knew things were going to get interesting, since my "training" for the bike portion of this race consisted of one 10 mile ride and one 15 mile ride...so I was feeling unprepared at best. But I did have a phenomenal bike under me so that raised my confidence at least a bit. The first couple of miles I tried to just relax and calm down a little bit - after the frenzy of the swim and transition, my heart rate was still up like crazy after transition. Mindy passed me right after the start [I had seen her in transition, so I knew she wasn't far behind me starting the bike] and while I wasn't concerned exactly about catching her, I definitely didn't want to get back by more than a few minutes. Soon enough, I was into a rhythm and lo and behold I was passing people from the start. The bike course was almost 100% rolling hills...up and down and up and down, on and on and on. I was really nervous about getting a penalty and so was kind of scared to pass at first [if you decide to pass, you can't back out on it or it's a penalty, and you have to be more than 3 bike lengths back from the person in front of you]...the last thing I wanted was to get a penalty on the bike. But I gradually loosened up a little bit and realized that hey, when I decide to pass people, I totally CAN! The 5K mark came up pretty fast and I just thought - a quarter of the way done, no problem. You can do this. Soon after that, the Gu that I had been planning on eating on the bike fell off...ohhh well. I was feeling good hunger wise so I wasn't too concerned about it being gone, and I had Gatorade which was really all I needed. Actually, the first time I thought about grabbing a drink, I looked down at the water bottle in the cage and was like -uh...I think I can get it out of there...but I'm never going to be able to get it back in without falling off my bike! Yes, I have never cycled before...eventually, I went for it about halfway through the bike, and I managed to not drop my bottle or crash, so that was a good thing. :) There was this woman in pink who kept yo-yoing back and forth with me...I would pass her on the uphill, she would pass me on the downhill, etc, etc, and at one point she passed me and was like "Well, it looks like this is going to be going on for awhile!". Um, no, lady. It is not. So on the next uphill, I put in a little extra surge to shoot past her and 3 other people, and I never saw her again. Competitiveness: it hits me even when I'm in the middle of something I haven't the slightest clue about. A similar thing happened with a guy in the second half of the race...I would have been completely OK with him being in front of me, until he decided it was a good idea to pass me on the inside when I was practically on the shoulder of the road anyway. If track has taught me one thing, its that you NEVER pass on the inside. That dude was history shortly thereafter. :) The only thing that was really hard was this weird S-bend uphill at about mile 10...there was a really sharp turn going into it, so I pretty much lost all momentum before going up the hill, and that hurt a lot. But I tried to get back into my rhythm as soon as possible, and things were fine again. As for the rest of the bike...I honestly don't know. I passed a lot of people. I don't think I was really pushing it to the max, but then again I don't think I know HOW to push it to the max on a bike yet. All I can really remember was this feeling of total, utter, joy. That's the only way I can describe it. On the uphills I would really bear down to pass people, gearing down and pumping my legs and just putting my head down and GOING, and on the down hills I would just fly. I felt like I was flying. I probably spent all of my time when I wasn't passing people just absolutely grinning my fool head off. It's honestly hard to explain how incredibly wonderful I felt during the entire bike. Yeah, you're probably not supposed to feel that awesome in the middle of a race...but for once, I was letting myself absolutely enjoy the moment. And boy, was it amazing. We passed the llama farm [believe, me I was looking forward to this the WHOLE ride] and the llamas weren't outside, except for one little guy who was poking his head out of the barn like he was doing it just for me! One last uphill and then a glorious, glorious downhill back into down...I would have thrown my hands in the air with joy if I could have. I saw the cheer crew as I came back into town and once again, grinned my face off. I was loving every single second of this ridiculous race. I got to the dismount line and almost fell over in my attempt to be smooth hopping off my bike...uh...that might be something to work on in the future. :) Onward to T2!
Bike split: 44:59 (143rd overall/I don't feel like counting through the results, lets just say I wasn't in the top 15 women...um, the bike might be the thing I need to work on :))

Welcome to speedsville! I racked my bike wrong the first time but got it right shortly after, clipped on my race belt...and yeah, that was it! Wearing the same shoes/clothes for the bike and run was a great idea and saved me a ton of time. Mindy left transition about 20 seconds before me so she was in my sights as I cruised over the mat and into what I knew was my domain...the run!
T2 split: 1:27 (12th overall/5th woman)

The Run
Ah, the run. Legs like jello, lungs on fire, and yet I knew...this is MY territory, this is what I do, this is what I've been training for for 8 years as opposed to 2 weeks! And so, despite feeling like utter crap, I was ready to rock. Although, unfortunately, from the instant I left transition, I had to pee! Ugh. Not much to do about that, and I just reassured myself that it was only a 5K, at the absolute MAX 25 minutes [that was my allowed slowest time that I wouldn't be cranky with, this being a triathlon and not a straight 5K race after all. Honestly, for most of the run, I thought that was about what I was going to run...I guess after biking 3.5 minute miles, 7:23 just seems damn slow!]. I passed Mindy about a minute in and knew that I wasn't going to see her again. The first mile was deathly. I can't even explain how bizzare it feels to try to run after you just rode a bike as fast as you could for 45 minutes. It's really, REALLY weird. I felt like I was moving so incredibly slowly, and yet somehow, I was just continuously passing people. It was like everyone else was moving at the same pace in one lane, and I was running at a completely different pace in the other. It was nothing like a normal road race. I didn't really know where the mile markers were - they had them for the Olympic distance but not the sprint, but eventually I figured out that they were every mile. The first mile was a slight uphill - not fun in my current state - although one house had a boombox out blasting Rocky music which pretty much made my day. So the worst point in the course is this GIANT hill that comes around mile 1.5. I knew it was coming, I've run/biked up it multiple times in my life, and I know that it comes right after a turn...but somehow in my ridiculous state I managed to convince myself that another, pretty decent sized hill [which happens to come right before mega-hill] was "the big one". So I'm thinking to myself alright, look at all these people walking around you, you can make it up this hill, it sucks, but you can do it, and right around this bend it's all downhill! Imagine my surprise when I turned the corner and MEGA-HILL is staring me down! Actually, I kind of giggled a little bit. It was so absurd, and I had felt so crappy on the last hill that somehow I knew I could make it up this one...and make it up I did, passing still more people in the process. Then we turned the REAL corner into "it's all downhill from here", and that was absolutely amazing. As I passed one woman, she was like "you can carry me on your back if you want!" I laughed and responded with "yeah, that was quite a hill, huh?" Me...talking to people during a race. What is this madness? Just another testament to what an amazing time I was having. The ~half mile downhill was absolutely amazing. I let my legs go and just flew with as little effort as possible. One more mile. I can do this. I'm going to finish a triathlon. I stopped thinking about anything and just ran...and before I knew it, the finish line was in sight. I honestly probably would have run a little faster at the end if I had realized just how close the finish line was but hey...what are you going to do. I saw the cheering crew once again, and once again, gave a HUGE smile...I was almost there and still loving every second of this ridiculous race. I kicked it in at least the last 100 meters, passed one last person...and BEEP! BEEP! I was across the timing mat, and there I was. I had finished my first triathlon.
Run split: 22:55 (26th overall/5th woman)

I slammed my watch and looked at my time. 1:18:44
What? What?? WHAT???
Shock doesn't even begin to describe how I felt about that time. I had honestly expected to do around 1:30, hoped to do around 1:25...and yeah...1:18:44. I didn't really know what to do with myself. I eventually located my mom [who had driven an hour and a half to see me race, she is amazing!] and the BF and was just being my usual giddy post-race self, grinning from ear to ear and yapping like an idiot. I went and got my stuff out of transition, taking a couple seconds as I did to take it all in...did that really just happen? As I made my way back, I noticed some results had gone up on the Porta Potties [classy, huh?] Since I had come in awhile before, I figured I might be up already, and since I knew my time it would be easy to check. I scanned the list for the 1:18s...3rd page...2nd page...1st page...and suddenly I see my name...50TH [what would turn out to be 45th after relays were removed]...and then I look over to DivPlace...and see that number I've been waiting to see since I started running competitively...1. I had to double check it about 5 times before I was sure it was true. I won my division? This can't be right...I've never done one of these before...I really didn't train enough..WHAT?!! I wandered back to the BF and mom in a daze, ridiculous grin on my face once again. "Uh...I won my age group" "You WHAT? Are you sure?!" And so of course I had to go back and check again. No, the results hadn't changed...and there it was. Finally...FINALLY, after wanting the AG win for who knows how long, I had done it. In my first triathlon ever...a race I initially hadn't wanted to do at all...a race I'd been terrified of...a race that for the first time in my life I was going to do 'just for fun'. And here I was...and it was true...I had done it.

OK, this post is getting infinitely long, so maybe I'll save all of my musings on triathlons for another day. But let's just say that I think I might have found something that I have the potential to be really good at. I've always been a good runner but never quite the fastest and in recent years I've been realizing that endurance is probably more my thing than speed. And I LOVE the multiple sports aspect of triathlons - every second was exciting. And for the first time in my life, I have no specific running season to train for...and it's really weirding me out. So who knows...I might be taking the dive into the triathlon lifestyle sooner rather than later. As I told the BF..."In 10 years, when I decide I want to train for an Ironman...you are going to have no one to blame but yourself!" :P

And in case you haven't noticed, I wrote this 3 days later, and I'm still on a post-race high. Really...what have I gotten myself into? I'm thinking something great. :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Watch out, you might get addicted...."

Elkhart Lake Sprint Triathlon [400 m swim, 20K bike, 5K run]
1/25 AG
9/210 women
45/372 overall

Oh. My. God. I had more fun doing this race than I've ever had doing ANY athletic event in my entire life...and then I did about a thousand times better than I EVER would have expected. I could not stop smiling while I was on the bike, I cruised through the swim, and I somehow ran a 22:55 5K even after all of that. It was absolutely incredible and seriously...all I want to do is do another one. :) Full race report coming soon!!

Sunday, June 07, 2009


It feels like its been a really long time since I updated about anything much...but for some reason I feel like I've been crazy busy lately. So in honor of my upcoming triathlon, I have 3 random topics to ramble about today! Warning: this post is LONG! [You can tell its been awhile since I last wrote :)]

Triathlon training:
Apparently normal people generally give themselves more than 2 weeks to get ready for one of these...who knew? Although in all seriousness, I'm going to go ahead and say that coming off of a 5 month track season/half marathon race, I'm probably starting off in better shape than most people I guess. I think the hardest thing about the past couple of weeks has been dealing with the fact that I just don't have time [or energy!] to run as many miles as I'm used to when I'm also trying to get in swim and bike workouts. I'm such a mileage whore...I love nothing more than seeing my weekly mileage go over 50, and to be honest I feel like I'm slacking if it's under 35 or 40. But I just have to keep telling myself that running is NOT what I need to be worried about in this triathlon - that's where I'm going to rock everyone's socks off because that's what I do [running that is, not rocking off socks...although I do that on occasion :P] - it's what I've been doing for the past 8 years. So I've been trying really hard to work on my swimming [mostly] and biking [less than I should] so I have less time to make up on the run. Swimming has actually been going a LOT better than expected, especially today! When I got in the pool 2 weeks ago, I was seriously concerned that I couldn't actually swim 400 meters without stopping. But then I went with my friend Nicole, who was a swimmer in high school, and she was talking about some drill they used to do for freestyle to get the proper arm form -like, you're not supposed to windmill your arm around because that just wastes energy. Well seriously, once I figured that out, it changed everything!

So today I went and was like...I am going to do 400 meters of freestyle without stopping [the past few times, I've only made it to 300, and I've had to go to breaststroke in the middle which I'm soooo slow at]. And I did it - 3 times! I got into a really great rhythm and just focused on my breathing and staying relaxed, not worrying about speed, and I honestly felt awesome. I decided to time the second 2 [I did 3 x 400 with 2 minutes rest] and the second one was 8:16, the third one was 8:07 - and that's with having to turn around. That's SO much faster than I thought I would be! Obviously open water swimming is a whole different ballgame, and I'm going to get my wetsuit Tuesday so hopefully I will get out in the lake before the weekend - but since the swim was what I was most worried about, I'm feeling so much better/more excited about everything now!

Today I also attempted to see what running is going to feel like after biking. The consensus: not fun! I first have to sidetrack and say: to the inventor of the Expresso exercise bike, you are my hero. Finally, someone has invented an exercise machine that keeps me entertained! Basically, its an exercise bike with a normal bike seat and handlebars that resemble a road bike. But the amazing part - you have a screen that gives you a 'virtual' route, complete with a pacer set to whatever time you want to do the ride in. I only wanted to bike for like 10 minutes, so I chose the "Evening Bliss" route...2.37 miles at sunset through a lovely town. There's stuff with stats for the elevation and you can see when you're going up hills, change gears, etc. SO ENTERTAINING! I can't even explain how amused I was. It reminded me of this thing I did at Disneyworld when I was like 9. I mean, I'm not all about stationary bikes or biking in general, but I am seriously so entertained by this thing that I might go to the Nat once in awhile to do it. But anyway, fun times aside, I did the bike thing which took not quite 10 minutes, and then I went out to run what actually ended up being about a 5K. The first couple minutes weren't fun, my legs felt like crap and I was still breathing really hard. But once I told myself to relaxxxx, everything started to feel a lot better, and I got through it just fine. As I said - not really worried about the run. I'm not sure about pace since I didn't have my watch, but I'd estimate it was in the 7:30-7:40 range, which I feel like is just fine for that point in my day. :)

Who knows...I might actually LIKE this triathlon business?? Insanity.

Magical runs:
So running itself hasn't been all that great lately, mostly just because I haven't had a lot of time for it due to being much more concerned about the other triathlon things, and when I have run its generally been crappy. I've been going back and forth on whether or not I like the shoes I got for free for winning the Black Tie 5K (Etonic Kendari's). It seems like a waste to buy a new pair of shoes when I got this pair for free, so I'm really really trying to like them. The first few times I wore them they felt really heavy, and I'm still not completely sold since sometimes my arches hurt a little bit after I run in them, but I went for a run on Saturday that made me feel like at least they have potential.

What a glorious, glorious run. You know how sometimes you really don't feel like going running and you keep on procrastinating and finally you just throw yourself out the door, convincing yourself that you'll keep it short and take it easy? That's basically how my Saturday was. I wasn't feeling that great [I think I had a sympathy hangover from the BF, even though I didn't drink Friday night, haha] and I just wasn't in the mood, plus it was like 50 out, which is just not June weather! Oh wait...except for 50 degrees is my favorite weather to run in...I'm not all about running in the heat. So I started off and was feeling pretty good. I was running on the bike path near my house that practically could have footprints worn in it just from me, that's how much I run there. We did a lot of higher intensity tempo runs there during track since it's flat and there are markers every 1/10 mile [this is the site of the infamous 6:10 :P], and I like doing longer runs there because its flat, pretty, and there are 5 roads to cross, each of which is a turnaround for a different distance - 2.5, 4.2, 5, 6.2, and 7.5 miles - so you can go further if you're feeling good, less if you're feeling bad, without having to completely complicate your life and change your route.

So I planned to go out to the 5 mile road, but was feeling good so I continued on to the next marker past the 6.2 road. [I kind of wish I had a Garmin or some other fancy gadget so I could see the exact distances...mapmyrun.com is all I've got :)] I started running back and was still feeling awesome...there was hardly anyone on the road because it was a gross day and I just felt like I was flying down the path. At the last street before the end of the path I decided to take a detour and run down a long hill to the lake and back, just to add on some miles. Even as I was running back UP the hill, I was still feeling great! I got home and figured out the stats: 7.75 miles @ 7:15 pace. Best run I've had in SUCH a long time!

It's runs like these that remind me why I do it. Sure, there are races and PRs and all of that is amazing - there's no feeling I've found in my life that compares to the high of running a PR. But there's also no feeling like cruising down a well worn path, feeling invincible, free, like you can fly. Like you ARE flying. And knowing that no matter what bad days you have, how tough your workouts have been, how tired your legs are...you will have that feeling again. You just have to remember those incredible days that make it all worth it. The runner's high...it's not a myth, I'll tell you that.

Super fast people:
My work shift on Sunday ended up getting extended from 7-11 to 7-2:30 [trust me, dog hotels are a busy place on Sundays!] so I really didn't get to watch as much of the Pre Classic as I had wanted to...sad day. Thank goodness for sites like flotrack and runnerspace that let me watch the videos online! So - women's 1500 meters - absolute insanity. Jenny Barringer ran a 3:59.90 to a) set a new collegiate record by a TON, b) get second place by .01 second, c) become only the 4th American woman ever to run under 4 minutes. INSANITY! I've been enjoying following professional running more and more lately, but its funny because I remember reading an article about her maybe...my junior year in high school? in some random magazine they gave out to the track team. She was already really impressive back then, and I remember hearing about her in steeplechase awhile after that, but seriously? She is ridiculously good. Sometimes its fun to watch really, really awesome people run. Super inspirational, for sure!

OK, well that will wrap up my mega-post for the day. Today is a day off after my triple sport fiesta yesterday...tomorrow will most likely be a run/swim combo platter. I really need to get on the damn bike again but I would so much rather run than do that...exciting virtual reality bike, I need you now! :)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Back from Boston

Just a quick post to say I'm back with a lease for an apartment in Boston in hand - eek! I had a lovely 5 days off of running after the half, and I did go on one beautiful run while I was in Boston...lets just say I'm really looking forward to it being a place I can run every day!! Running this week is going to be pretty low mileage, I'm getting over a cold and I'm trying to split my time between running and attempting to swim/bike to prepare for this ridiculous triathlon next weekend...really not so sure how that's going to go. Basically if I can get through the swim I think I'll be fine, but that's probably going to take quite a bit of work in the next 10 days. But I think I can do it, I just need to get into a routine and stop being such a lazy bum. That's one of the things I don't like about summer - my job hours aren't the same every week and its just impossible to get into a routine. Oh well...

Today was just an easy 4.5 miles...I realized I forgot my watch and didn't feel like going back to get it so I'm not sure on time, but it felt pretty decent. Much better than yesterday's run - I was having so much trouble breathing, stupid colds. It was only like 50 degrees out...umm...last time I checked, it was JUNE?? I don't mind it being cooler for the sake of running, but seriously...I just got a new swimsuit, I would like to wear it at some point! I was going to go swimming but I think I'm going to go tomorrow before work instead..it's lunchtime and I'm really hungry! Tonight I'm going to the Madison Mallards game for a friend's birthday...soo excited, first of all the games are so much fun, there are tons of free giveaways, and the Duck Blind where we're sitting is all you can eat, all you can drink for $25...so I will be eating a LOT of brats. :)