Sunday, June 27, 2010

Trek Women's Tri

Is it just me or does she look less than thrilled?

I decided, kind of last minute....altho not last minute enough (more on this in a bit), to sign up for the Trek Women's Tri. 

A while back an email came through for a $20 discount for a new tri in the area, the Trek Women's Tri.  It was only a couple weeks after one of my "A" races for the year, so I wasn't sure I was up for it.  But there were some perks: Tina was doing the race, the discount, and a tech t for starters.  I got the 'ok' from coach to race it altho was informed that it would be one of those races I'd train no taper going into it.  Okay, no problem, I'll just race it to race it and see what happens.  Yeah, cuz we all know that I'm not competitive *at all* and could do a race just to have fun.  Uh huh, yep, that sure *sounds* like me. (exaggerated eye roll inserted here)

Time goes by, I'm all signed up, looking forward to a short sprint, when some troubling information starts to circulate.  First is the news that Trek was offering $1 registration for this race.  Uhhhh, okay.  So instead of being rewarded for signing up early, I just got penalized to the tune of $64.  Niiiiiiice.  Second was the lack of course information...or any race information at all.  Until about a week before the race when I started getting something practically every day from them.  Third was the 'approximate' distances shown for the course, as well as changing distances.  I'm pretty sure the race was set up as a 400 yd swim, 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile run.  But it somehow, for *some* reason, turned into an 'all distances approximate' 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run.  Huh.  That's a new one.....'all distances approximate.'  Okay, whatever, it has to be close to those distances right?  Yeah, you'd think.

Just a few more pet peeves about this race.  And no, I don't think I'll be doing it again, but you never know. 
  • Lack of buoys on the swim course.  For what was supposed to be a half mile swim (okay, okay, approximately), there were 2 buoys.  Yes, 2.  One at each turn of the rectangular shaped swim course. Oh, and the swim start was directly into the sun.  So for about 1/4 of the swim it was the blind leading the blind.  Straight into the sun, straining for any kind of buoy sighting.
  • Poor transition set up.  The racks were set up by wave and there was a distinct advantage to being in an early wave.  The swim in was thru the back of transition, but the bike out, bike in, and run out were all at the front.  I was somewhere midway thru, but those poor ladies at the back had to run the entire length of transition 3 times.  Not exactly fair.
  • I get the 'girl power' thing. Seriously, I do.  I'm the one who used to be all pinked out on the bike, remember?!?!  But enough already.  I don't need a cheerleader at the start of the swim telling me how I'm an 'awesome' swimmer, and when I get to the bike that I'll be an 'awesome' cyclist, 'awesome' runner, 'awesome' triathlete.  Awesome, awesome, awesome.  And then instruct me to hug, double high five, whatever, the people around me while announcing "You go girlfriend!".  Please.  A touch more testosterone at races may not be a bad thing.
And yes, I get that I am most likely not Trek's target audience with this race.  Altho...wait a's the Trek WOMEN's triathlon, so yes, yes, I guess I *would* be the target for this race.  But you know what I mean.  I think they're trying to make the race as woman-beginner-triathlete friendly as possible but it was a bit overdone.

Actual performance on the race?  A decent, not stellar effort.  4th/50 in my age group.  24/268 overall. Yes, I will take that.  I had some struggles on the run, definitely not putting out the best effort there.  Each race though, I learn how to push myself a little more.  Push in different ways.  Gain experience, knowledge, and confidence. 

You may remember the goal was to 'blow up' on the bike.  And according to the race results, I hit 23+ mph on the bike split.  So you'd think I'd have accomplished that goal, no?  Sadly, no.  I knew something was off.  There's no *way* I rode that fast for 12 miles.  And as it turns out, I didn't.  I rode for just under 10 miles.  Uh huh, that 'approximate' bike distance was more than 2 miles short.  Which still makes for my fastest bike split yet, but there's obviously work left to do.  And if there wasn't work left to do why would I still be doing this?  It's the challenge of pushing myself that makes it hard, makes it fun, makes it worth investing the time and effort.  You go out there, you try your best, and once in a all comes together for a great race.  That's the frosting.

From here we move on to some longer stuff.  Half Iron race is on the horizon, so start going long.  Gradually adding time and distance to the swimming and biking and running.  Start it off with an Independence Day brick.  What better way to celebrate than a 2.5 hour bike ride followed by a 30 minute run?!?  Hmmm....I need to start planning some long ride routes......

But next up....10k in two weeks.  My last 10k was in September of 2008, so here's hoping for a new PR!  May be tough, as its not a flat course, but I'll give it my all.  And maybe I'll get some frosting. :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Back to work

It seems like it's been a long time since I've had a big workout week.

I had a fairly light week going into camp, then a rest week after camp. Then I got sick and had pretty much a no workout week, although it was followed by a "race". And this week was a transition week, so a bit easier too.  I feel like I've lost a lot of ground, and need to get myself back in shape.  And yes, I know that it's necessary to take some down time once in a while.  It just seems like I've piled up a lot of down time all at once, not all intentionally, but still.  Things are about to change.

I was looking through my workouts in Training Peaks the other day and saw this "....with the Half Iron on the horizon.....".  Yikes.  I guess it really *is* on the horizon, about 2-1/2 months out.  And so my long rides and long runs will start to ramp up.  I'm hoping to be able to make the long drive out to the race site and do at least a couple of long rides on the course.  If not though, I'll at least get a course preview at the Olympic race I'm doing there in August.  My biggest worry about the event will be the heat.  I'll start trying to get my body used to it, doing my easier workouts during the middle of the day when I can.  Of course, we'd actually have to get some summer weather for that to work.  So far, altho granted tomorrow is just the first day of summer, we've had a few warm days here and there, but not a whole lot of them.

On the injury front....the hip is about.....98%.  It talks to me a little bit after running, but I see the PT/bike guy on Thursday, so hopefully he can check my bike fit and take a quick check of the hip to make sure everything is still where it should be.  The number one goal tho, is to make sure the bike is fit properly. 

A sprint race on tap for this weekend.  Goal....really push the bike.  Show myself that I can.  And that *no* my head won't actually explode......I hope.

In non-sports news.....we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary this week. Unlike our 10th, where we took a month's vacation to some exotic locales, we didn't do much of anything for this one.  Dinner out, flowers, the standard.  I guess I could say I got myself the new bike frame for "our" anniversary present. :)

Also this week....5 years since my father was killed in an accident with a drunk driver, on Father's Day.  It's weird.  I can't say that I "miss" him, because we hadn't really been a part of each others lives for many years. But especially today, I miss the opportunities we might have had to get acquainted again.  He wasn't the best father, but he was my father, flaws and all.  It's quite possible that even if we had managed to reconnect that it wouldn't have worked out, but the regret is in not being able to find out.  PSA for the day.....don't wait until it's too late.  Give it a try, and then even if it doesn't work, at least you'll know.

And to leave things on a lighter note.....Happy first day of's to warmer weather!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

SV Olympic Tri

The short story:  While it was over a 9 minute PR from my last run of this course, it really wasn't my best effort.  And as such is a bit of a hollow 'victory'.

The very long version.

Let's start with my bike.  My frame was damaged on the way to tri camp last month and I was in Illinois for a week after that.  As soon as the shop opened the day after I got home, I was at my local bike shop (*BEST* guys *ever*!).  Alan confirmed that altho I probably *could* ride it (and had for the last week), the inherent strength of carbon is dependent upon the fibers being intact.  The damage was on the down tube and if I hit a bump hard there was a possibility of it failing.  Since I was racing the next weekend, Alan said he'd work on getting me a new frame from Specialized as soon as possible.  Unfortunately the new frame didn't come in until Thursday.  But Alan really came through and at 9:00 Friday night I went to pick up my "new" ride.  Some slight changes in the geometry of the frame, but he did his best to put everything back with the right overall dimensions (seat the same height from the crank, etc).  I took the new Ruby out for a spin on Saturday as part of my pre-race brick and felt pretty comfortable.

Really bad, blurry pic of frame damage

"New" Ruby ready to roll

Oh, and amongst my stressing about the bike, I was also sick last week.  Yes, again.  No, the doctor has *no* idea why.  All my blood tests came back normal.  Evidently I'm just a weakling in the immunity department. 

Saturday night, in some spectacularly bad planning on my part, we headed out to see Sting in concert.  When I bought the tickets I completely spaced the dates and didn't realize it was the night before my race.  I considered bailing, but decided that wouldn't really be fair to my other half.  And to be honest, having already spent the money, I would balk at just letting the tickets go to waste.  I tried not to complain too much about being out late or hint too much about leaving early.  I'm pretty sure I failed miserably at both.  We did leave the concert before the end, but being an hour drive from home, I still only got about 4-1/2 hours of sleep Saturday night.

I was already a bit concerned about my preparedness going into this race.  Having been sick, I was instructed to rest all week, so didn't have any workouts to see how things were feeling.  Add to that the hip problem and I really hadn't done much running in about 3 weeks.  And I definitely knew I was off kilter when I was all suited up for the race and didn't have a shred of nervousness.  It was more a sense of "let's just get on with it".  Not to say I wasn't excited.  I felt ready to go and just wanted to get moving.  But the lack of nerves was unnerving.

I felt good during the swim, but probably lolly gagged a bit.  In retrospect I think I felt too comfortable in the water, which tells me I wasn't pushing hard enough.  I did come out of the water 10/54, but probably could have pushed a bit more.

The new bike felt good, but after looking at the power data, it's obvious I wasn't pushing as hard as I should have been.  The mental block with my bike seems to continue.  What am I afraid of? I just don't know.  I can push myself on the bike tests, but when I get out on the course, I pull back.  I told coach that I think I'm afraid to blow up.  Her response (priceless, I think) "What happens if you blow up.  Do you lose a wheel?  Does your head explode?  FIND OUT."  Given the data from my testing, and the data from racing, it's pretty obvious I'm not giving it my all out there.  And I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who can figure out why and do something about it.   So although my Olympic in August is supposed to be a "B" race, it may turn into an "A" race.  Or at least the bike portion.  I need a break thru moment on the bike and only I can take myself there.

The run was a struggle.  This was the first hot weather weekend we've had all year, and it got hot with a vengeance and there was very little shade to be had on course. I started off too hard and wilted as the run went on. I would have sworn the last mile was the longest of my life.  It was one of those days when I thought to myself, "This is supposed to be fun, right?  I am not having fun."   And of course as soon as I finished and downed some cold water and had a fabulous on-site, post race massage, I started thinking out to my next race.  Funny how quickly the brain packs up the bad stuff into a little box.

Another line of  thought post race was how stupid it was to sign up for a half iron race in hot country in September.  Maybe that was  a *serious* mistake.  I looked up the historical temps.  88 on the day of the race is the historical average high.  Ouch. But then again, so what.  Everyone will be facing the same conditions, and at least I can work towards prepping my body for the heat.  Let's just look at it as another challenge shall we?  The things I liked about the race when I signed up still hold.  It's a small, "local" race.  Lake swim, with a fairly flat bike course.  Run on packed dirt fire roads instead of pavement.  I need to just quit making excuses before I've even started and get to training.

Okay, enough rambling of jumbled thoughts from my tired brain.  Bottom line(s):  I continue to learn thru my experiences on the course.  And my number one goal is to blow up on the bike.  Trek sprint tri is next up....let's see if I can get my head to explode.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Happy Camper *seriously* overdue tri camp report!
(all pics courtesy of Molly, who was the camp photographer....since no one else had a camera. :)

For us west-coasters, camp started early Friday morning.  I met Molly at the airport, where we were on the same early morning flight to Chicago.  The flight went well, and went by quickly enough.  The drive out of Chicago to the hotel....not so much.  Lots of traffic, but probably to be expected for a holiday weekend Friday afternoon.  We just had time to check in, dump our luggage, and head over to Jen's house for dinner.  Jen and Liz were the co-coaches for the camp and hosted all of the campers for dinner at Jen's to get acquainted and go over the weekend schedule.  The weekend would be packed for sure.  Soon enough we headed back to the hotel, where we still had to gather stuff for the next day and put our bikes back together from travel.  My only downer for the weekend was when I found that my bike had been dinged during the trip.  I wasn't sure if I'd be able to ride, as I'd heard that carbon can be quite fragile once damaged.  I figured I could have Liz and/or Jen take a look in the morning and we were off to bed.  At about 8:00 "my" time.  Not too much sleep going on there.  Especially until the party in the pool (which was directly below our room) ended.

Saturday morning came *way* too soon, but I was excited to get moving.  First on tap was an open water swim and clinic.  Jen lead half the group on a swim around a lovely lake, which was almost too warm for my full wet suit.  I started wishing I'd brought my sleeveless one instead.

Lake in the Hills
Liz explaining open waters starts, techniques, strategies
Jen explaining the swim plan
Me and Molly

The swim was great, and it was good to practice some beach starts, deep water starts and drafting.  Soon enough it was time for breakfast and then a long ride.  In fact, it was going to be my longest ride since Iron training last year.  
Breakfast...much needed fuel for the upcoming ride

After breakfast, everyone got their bikes and themselves ready to head out.  I had Jen take a look at my bike, and although she confessed it wasn't her area of expertise, "we" determined that I'd probably be okay to ride, but could call Liz to SAG me if anything felt off.  Yeah, being 8 months pregnant, Liz was on SAG duty. 
Liz at 8 months...still weighs less than me *sigh* :)

It was warming up nicely by the time we were ready to roll.  We broke up into three groups, and I was in the middle group.  It was a great ride heading out, with farm land making up the scenery.  Not too many cars, and just a few rollers on a mostly flat route. 

Evidently feeling good on the ride

It was great to just ride along, drafting some, being drafted off some, and chatting away with the other ladies.  And before I knew it we hit the water stop where Liz had parked with snacks, water, gatorade, etc.  Some of the group didn't want to cover quite as much ground as others, and so Liz sent Molly and I off to get "at least 60 miles in".  Yikes....definitely my longest ride to date.  We hit 30 miles and I was still feeling good....until we flipped around.  Funny...I didn't notice that we had *that* much of a tailwind heading out.  Yep, back home all the way into the wind.  I'm not gonna' was a slog and I wasn't smiling as much nor was I nearly so chatty.  And I *may* have been swearing under my breath.  Especially when we got to the point where we were about 10 miles out, I was feeling lightheaded, dehydrated, and in general just fried.   And it wasn't a whole lot of fun realizing that we were the last ones out there either.  I definitely wasn't feeling up to a 30 minute run off the bike.  Which is what I told Liz once we finally rolled in.  To which she promptly responded, "Just run 10 minutes, 5 out, 5 back."  Grrrr...fine.  Oh, and I was to stay on the flat road since I'd been having hip issues.  I have to say, that 10 minutes seemed so long.  And it was more of a shuffle than a run.  I was covered with salt, dehydrated, and tired.  When it was done I dunked myself back into the water to cool off.  Ahhhhhh.  And believe it or not, we weren't done yet.  There was a yoga session yet to go.
Post yoga and looking forward to dinner

After the yoga, scurry back to the hotel, shower up and head to dinner.  Food.  Yes, I needed food.  I think the waiters were astonished at how quickly the food disappeared in front of a group of lovely ladies.  More fun times chatting with the other ladies and devouring salads, bruschetta, salmon, chicken, pasta, and dessert.  Mmmmm.


Sunday didn't require *quite* as early a start, which was good news to me.  I didn't sleep as well as I thought I might, given the plethora of activities covered over the day, so the alarm still came a little too early.  Up and at it again tho.  We were heading to the pool for a swim workout and stroke analysis.  This would be followed by run hills and drills.  Followed by strength work, followed by an optional ride.  Want to guess how many people opted in to the ride? :)

Liz giving stroke analysis and instruction
Me and Kristin in the toasty pool

I volunteered to be first for stroke analysis and Liz had me do some warm up laps, then started the camera rolling.  In a sad, but reassuring way, the same issues she pointed out were what the instructor from my swim lesson a few weeks ago had identified.  Sad, because I obviously haven't fixed anything, but reassuring in the fact that I don't have any additional problems to work on just yet. :)  After the analysis it was time to jump into the workout that Jen was leading.  It didn't take too long before I realized my biggest mistake.  By volunteering to be first, I only missed the warm up, while other ladies were pulled out of the workout for their analysis.  So I had the pleasure of doing Jen's *entire* workout. Ouch.  And the pool was toasty....indoors, of course.....but I don't think they cooled the room either.  It was stifling.  I think we were all glad to head out and breathe some non-chlorinated air.  I wasn't glad for long though as I quickly realized there was only a smidge of shade, the day was going to be seriously warm, and we were heading out to run in it.

Waiting to head out on the run
Group pre-run sweatfest

We warmed up on a path and then hit an overpass for hill repeats.  The funniest part was that Jen kept saying how the hill wouldn't really be a hill to "the California girls".   It may not have been much of a hill, but the heat and humidity had me (and not just me) hiding in the shade whenever possible.

Running hills...which I surprised myself by being decent at :)
Sharing the only speck of shade around

After Jen gave us some instruction on how to attack the hills, both up and down, we did repeats and then headed back along the trail to do drills.  Again, I surprised myself by tackling the drills quite well.  Probably because Liz has made me do them before, so I knew what to expect.  Finally it was time for lunch.  Yes, the theme was workout, workout, workout, eat, eat, eat, workout some more.  After lunch we drove to a park for strength workouts.  Split into two groups, one group worked with Kate on TRX and one group worked with Liz on bosu/stability ball/medicine ball strength work.  A lot of core here!  
Showing off my one legged squats on the bosu....hats of to Elena, my strength trainer

TRX workout with Kate, getting the scoop before the torture

And finally it was time to wrap up the day.  The offer was made for a nice, easy recovery ride, but I think most people were pretty wiped by this point.  Liz offered to have her athletes come over for dinner and an easy ride.  Sounded good to us, so we headed back to the hotel (getting waylaid by a parade on the way), packed up some clean clothes for after the ride and headed to Liz's.  She lives very close to a beautiful arboretum, almost 2000 acres I think she said, with a nice paved path that winds through.  It was a very easy, very pretty ride with coach!  Probably the only time I could hang with Liz on a ride, I took advantage to chat with her a bit.  After the ride, back to Liz's house for showers and a fabulous dinner that her husband, Chris, had whipped up.  Steak (yum, oh yum!), veggies, bread and cheese, and of course dessert...cupcakes, cookies, and brownies, oh my!

All cleaned up and ready to eat....again

The last day of camp, Monday, was the running of the Elgin Fox Trot 5k (although some brave campers did the 10 miler).  I started off thinking I might 'race' this, but within the first half mile or so, my legs basically just said "no thanks."  So it was a nice moderately paced recovery run.  Molly and I raced back to the hotel to get cleaned up and made it back to the race site just in time for camp wrap up.  Which wrapped up just in time, as a thunderstorm rolled in.  We *just* made it to the car when the rain started coming down.

So all in all, camp was a blast.  It was great getting some feedback, having some hard workouts, and basically just hanging out with a great group of ladies.  I'd definitely do it again! (But let's leave out the bike damage next time, shall we?!?  More on this in another post....this one is long enough already!)