Break's Over, Back to Work!

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I took nearly a full week off after my 70.3. Technically, my marathon training was supposed to start that Monday, but I decided it would be best if I took a few days off before diving into training. It always takes me a couple of weeks to fully recover from a 70.3 to the point that I can get through a long run without feeling like my legs are going to fall off.

I'm doing the FIRST training program again. My goal is to get in the 3 runs, 2 bike rides a week, 2 swims a week, some weight training, and LOTS of ab work. I've had a lot of trouble with cramping the last couple of years, and I know it's from neglecting the abs.

So far so good! I got in a long run with Borsch on Monday in the 90+ degree heat. Yesterday I did a mid-distance swim, and today I biked with my brother Matt. He's so much faster than me, and I was sucking wind for much of it, but I know the only way I'm ever going to get faster is if I'm chasing somebody during my training rides! This weekend is WIBA, which always proves to be a great time with friends and some really quality training. It'll be a great way to end week 1!

Liberty Long Course Triathlon Race Report

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My half iron distance tri was a blast. It was my first time on this course, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. All in all, it was a great day, but I did manage to make one veteran mistake and 3 rookie ones.

We set the alarm clock for around 4:15 this morning, but we had to hit the snooze button a couple of times to snuggle. We were out of bed soon enough, though, and while Steve loaded up the bikes and finished packing all of his stuff, I got our nutrition, wetsuits, and some of the other random stuff put into the car.

We got to transition around 6:15. It had opened at 5:30 but wasn't scheduled to close till 7:15, so I had asked that we not get there at the official crack of dawn. Being in transition too long just makes me nervous. We got our transition areas set up in between lots and lots of social time. We had so many friends doing this race. It was a blast, and for a few minutes, I forgot I was about to race for the next 6+ hours.

Steve and me in transition before the race

The Swim:
The long course athletes went out before the oly distance ones, and I was in wave 4, which was followed only by the older men. I was a little nervous for a few reasons. The first was the fact that I really have only swum twice since New Orleans 2 months ago, and I don't know if you can even count the 10 minute OWS in Nokomis on Thurs as an official swim. The second was that the water in MN has been FREEZING cold. We haven't had a lot of warm days in the last couple of weeks, and I was hoping I could keep myself from panicking. The plan was just to take it easy an keep a steady pace in the water. I did a great job sighting and never really got off course. I alternated between feeling like I was the only one out there and having a few run-ins with other swimmers. I got elbowed in the eye once and think I half assaulted another swimmer. The water felt GREAT, and though this definitely wasn't my fastest swim ever, it wasn't my slowest either. I was out of the water in 0:47. I ran up the small hill and officially hit the mat before T1 in 0:48:03.

T1: I peeled off my wetsuit, stuffed my nutrition and a few emergency bike supplies in my top, donned my sunglasses, helmet, and bike shorts, grabbed my bike, and I was out. I'm not sure what the official time read, but my watch says it took 3:27. I got out of T1 and had a really unsettling feeling that I was forgetting something. I went through the mental checklist and came to the realization that I was just paranoid.

The Bike: I was a little nervous for the bike because the race's website describes it as a very hilly, technical course. Like all of the disciplines for this race, I honestly haven't done a lot in the way of training. I did manage to squeeze in a really hilly 60 miler a week and a half ago after which my legs felt totally shredded. To my relief, the hills weren't too bad. Don't get me wrong, there were LOTS of them, and I sure loved my granny gear more times than I could count, but most of the downhills' momentum helped me get up the hills, and with the gorgeous weather, I CRUISED down those hills! The hilly course kept me engaged, and before I knew it, I was starting the second loop. I had gotten passed by everybody and their grandma starting the bike, which is pretty typical for me (especially since the short course athletes were doing the same loop and starting behind us). However, on the last loop, I felt really strong and managed to pass another dozen or so people. My legs felt great! I finished the hilly bike course in 3:22, a 16.6 average - nothing spectacular, but good for me. Rookie mistake #1: about halfway through the bike, I looked down and noticed that my chip was missing. I new it likely hadn't fallen off in the swim because I always pin the straps together (I lost my chip in the swim during my very first race). I was bummed for a second, but the timers had been doing a great job at recording our numbers at all of the important points, so I figured if nothing else, I could rely on that. My hunch was that it came off with my wetsuit in T1. I guess that naggy feeling that I was forgetting something coming out of T1 was for good reason!

Finishing up the hilly 56 mile bike

T2: I made the appropriate exchanges from my pockets, ripped off my bike shorts and shoes, grabbed my hat, and FOUND MY CHIP IN MY WETSUIT (well actually, Steve found it as he was in transition talking to me.

Stuffing all my food in my pockets and strapping my running shoes on!

I was out 2:18 but had obviously been a little distracted because a mile into the run, I realized I had forgotten my race number! We'll call this rookie mistake #2. I have such a routine in transition. Throw in another factor, and it all goes down the drain!

The Run: Just like all of the other legs of this race, I was a little unsure about the run. I had done an 11 miler 6 days earlier that was neither speedy nor painless. All I could think about for the first 1.5 miles was how bad I had to pee. We were running along lots of family occupied campgrounds, and the one bathroom I did see along the way was closed for cleaning. The teenagers doing the cleaning didn't seem very sympathetic toward this eyeball-floating triathlete, so I pressed on hoping to find some tall grass down the road. I found some tall grass in thick tree cover soon after and performed a modified move the leg of my tri shorts maneuver that prevented all of the out and back runners from seeing my very pale behind. It wasn't graceful, but I felt SO much better. I was cheering for all of the runners on their return trip, and the guy right behind me commented on my spirit. I told him it always makes me feel better. Staring at the ground for 13 miles just gets me feeling sorry for myself! He and I started talking, and as it turns out, he is training for his first Ironman in WI this year. Well, get me talking about IM and I don't shut up! We ended up running the next 12 miles together. Steve laughed when he saw us at the halfway point because he says I always manage to make a friend on the run.

Joe and me nearing the halfway turn around

Joe and me heading back - over halfway done!

We weren't fast, and between his hammy issues and my GI issues, we did have a few walk breaks, but the run was infinitely easier because I had a new friend to talk to. Rookie mistake #3 was not eating enough the day before. The food I did eat wasn't all that nutritious, and I didn't eat a very ample supper. Even though I was eating far more calories than I normally eat during a half, by mile 6 of the run, I knew I was in trouble. When I don't eat enough, I start to feel really nauseous, and that's when I know I really need to choke down more food. I ended up eating 3 gels, a pack of Sharkies, a cup of goldfish crackers, and a cup of Coke on the run. That's in addition to my calories on the bike. By the time I hit the finish line, my gut had totally revolted, and it took all my remaining energy not to barf. Given the heat and GI issues, I guess our run time wasn't too bad - 2:33:04

I was REALLY ready to be done, so I booked it in to the finish. Joe had to stay back to prevent his hammy from going crazy.

My total finish time for the day was 6:50:37 - my second slowest half time. I had a blast, though, and I will definitely do this race again. It's well-run, challenging, and beautiful. It's an early season race, but the competition is far from early season! Congrats to all of my old and new friends who had successful days out there, especially Jen, who medaled in her age group for her first Oly and Julia who took first in her AG for her first 70.3!

My veteran mistake: I'm losing fear of the distance. After 2 Ironmans, 10 marathons, and this being my 6th 70.3, I know I can bust out the distance regardless of the quality or quantity of training. I came to the obvious realization this week that the past couple of years have been super crazy, and I skimped on training where I needed to in order to keep up with the rest of my life. This summer, except for the porch remodel, work, and the usual commitments, I really should be able to make time for some quality training. I think deep down, I'm a little afraid that putting in the time won't really lead to a lot of gains in speed, and it's just so much easier to accept being slow when I know that I'm not fully trained to race. Does this even make sense?

Race Week!

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I have my second 70.3 of the year this Saturday. It's Liberty long course. I've never done this one before, but I wanted to a couple of years ago. I can't believe it's not even the middle of June yet with this being my 7th race of the year. After this one, I'll be doing WIBA at the end of June, Chisago Lake half at the end of July, and Twin Cities Marathon on October 4th. I can't believe this'll be my 11th marathon and 10th TCM in a row! I updated my 2009 schedule on the side bar the other day. I may throw in another race or two depending on what comes up, but that's it for now. I signed up for most of my spring races all in one day, and my credit card company called to verify the tremendous amount of charges :) Yikes this stuff gets expensive!

I don't have any lofty goals for this race. Heck, I just got back in the pool for the first time since New Orleans 70.3 yesterday. Yeah, I'm not proud of that, but you take what life gives you, you know? I busted out 1.5 miles with no problem. This is gonna be slow, but it should be fun!

Three For One! A Race Report Trifecta

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Yeesh! Well, I'm not even going to try to explain where I've been for the last six weeks - everywhere and nowhere at the same time I guess... Steve and I are in the middle of doing another remodel on our house, our porch this time. It'll look awesome when it's done, but like all of our projects, it's bigger than what we anticipated when we started. My baby sister graduated from high school this past weekend, and I'm still trying to recover from the debauchery. It's hard to believe that most of the kids I babysat for once upon a time are now college kids. Somehow that just doesn't seem right. Steve and I and our family have also been racing, more so than we've ever done this time of year. The year started out with the Winter Carnival Half Marathon (which was shortened to 1/4 marathon because of the cold). Then we headed to New Orleans for the 70.3, followed by the MDRA Mud Run 4 miler, the Winter BeGone Duathlon, Cannon Falls Duathlon, and the Apple Duathlon, which was just two weeks ago. Oh yeah, and I have another 70.3 in two weeks. Gulp! I'm WAY behind here in case you hadn't noticed, so I'll make the race reports quick and dirty, much like I raced them.

Winter BeGone (4/26/09):

We did this one last year, when it was cold but sunny and otherwise beautiful. This year, it rained. It rained a lot. There was wind, lots and lots of wind, and the cold topped it all off. Steve and I had signed up for the long course, but the lightning right before the race that promised to return led the race directors to force us all to do the sprint. I was really grateful for the opportunity to be out of the rain as quickly as possible, even if it did mean doing my first sprint multisport event!

The first run: I went out hoping that I could hold nines. My brother Matt and I ran most of the run together, and I was really surprised that the 17:51 I posted was for 2.25 miles, not the 2 miles I thought it was. Off to a good start!

T1: Transition was small, but I struggled to get in all of my clothes: 2:38

The bike: This ranks in the top 5 most miserable bike rides of my life. The cold and rain were one thing, but the fact that we either had a headwind or a cross wind for all but about 3 miles of the bike made it no fun. 52:51 for a 13 mile bike. I had really hoped to improve on my average from last year, but I guess this was not the day!

T2: 1:38

The second run: My mentality had totally changed. I went from knowing that I had to do a 10K after the bike to knowing that I only had 2 miles to gut it out. I just tried to run as fast as I could. The out and back course made it super fun. I got to see Steve, my brother Matt, Borsch, and my sister Steph. I got a little choked up when I saw Steph. It was her first multisport race ever, and she was doing it in some of the worst race conditions possible. I surprised myself on the second run when I came in at 15:46. I'm not a sprinter, so this isn't bad for me!

Total: 1:30:41 Total place: 19/42 women

Cannon Falls Duathlon (5/2):

Another family event! This time Steve and I brought Steph, Matt, Borsch, and my aunt Jen. We had a perfect day, and this time around it was aunt Jen's first race. I should probably give you a quick background on why it was so special to have Jen racing with us. Jen was hit by a car when she was 2. She was read her last rights because the doctors didn't think she'd make it. After a 6 week hospital stay and countless surgeries, she grew up perfectly healthy. She works for the international division of a big name corporate retailer, traveling all over the place. You wouldn't even know anything had happened, save for a few scars and the fact that her left eye is permanently closed. Then, 3.5 years ago, doctors discovered a brain tumor sitting on her optic nerve that threatened her vision completely. It turned out to be benign, but in removing it, doctors had to destroy her pituitary gland. For those of you without a medical or science degree, this tiny gland controls nearly every hormone in your body - thyroid hormone, growth hormone, reproductive hormones, stress hormone, and a few other things. It has taken a couple of years to get all of those levels back to "normal," but she still has to work 10 times harder than anyone to keep her body and her weight from spiraling out of control. She works her butt off! When we signed up for our races this spring, we invited Jen to come along. She did several test runs at the distance before the big day and signed up!

The 1st Run: I figured that Matt and I had stuck together for the run the week before, so we ran together again. The run was BEAUTIFUL. We ran by waterfalls, near parks, and around town. We finished the 2 mile run in 15:40.

T1: 1:22 I learned from my mistakes the week before :)

The bike and T2 (I forgot to hit my watch): It was an out and back race. This one guy and I kept passing each other. He was in a tractor. I love biking through farm country! It makes me feel right at home. My split wasn't as fast as I had hoped, but it was great to be out there with my family - 51:02 for the 14 mile bike

The 2nd Run: I hit my splits in 8:23, 8:23, and 8:11 for a total of 24:57 for the 3 mile run. Again, this was just a beautiful course.

The finish: 1:33:10 - total place 60/131. When I was heading into the finish, I saw Steve and Jen heading out from T2. When I finished, I ran back onto the course to help get Jen to the finish line. She finished, and she wasn't last. She made both of her goals, and we are all super proud of her. I managed to take some hardware home from this race. I got third in 20-29 year old women. Bonus!

Apple Duathlon (5/23/09)

Last time I did this race, I was training for my first Ironman! Steve and I saw our friend Ann in transition, and since we were were in the same wave, we decided to run the first 5K together. She was hoping for 8s. I was hoping to hit under 25. I was back in to T1 in 24:37, for an average of 7:56/mile. Not bad considering Ann had dropped me at mile 2 :)

T1: 1:09, not too much excitement. I decided on the fly not to wear bike shorts and rough it in my tri shorts.

The Bike: I had no idea how I would feel on a 33K bike ride in just my tri shorts. I know people do Ironman distance bike rides in just tri shorts, but I've never been that adventurous. I've always thrown bike shorts on over the tri shorts in T1 and taken them off it T2. I was uncomfortable for the first 4 miles or so, but it went away quickly. I did drop my chain once. I'm not even sure how it happened, and since I wasn't going up a steep hill, I was worried that I broke it at first! I also made a wrong turn once, but the great volunteers steered me back in the right direction. I probably lost a minute or 2, but going out against the wind meant that we had a sweet tailwind. I came into T2 after 1:12:47 for an meager average of 16.9.

T2: 0:54

The Second Run: 27:19 for an average of 8:48. It wasn't fast, it wasn't pretty, but I made it in without barfing.

Total time: 2:06:47, several seconds faster than the last time I raced this course, even with a dropped chain, a wrong turn on the bike, and feeling like I was going to die on the first run. However, the competition was TOUGH, and my time was good enough for 10/11 in my age group. It's now a world du championship qualifying race, and I think it's just going to get tougher in the next few years. It's always a great race, though, and this year was no exception.

What's next? Well, like I mentioned, I have a 70.3 in less than 2 weeks. It's been a rough couple of weeks. I know I can do the distance, but my training has been lacking. Between house projects and a REALLY scary month at work (layoffs and restructuring), I've had a tough time getting in quality workouts. I've got a long run scheduled for tomorrow night. My last long run was horrible. I had a heavy heart, and it made running light a little tough. Two weeks after my 70.3 is WIBA, and as always, I'm pretty excited to fill the weekend with good friends and great workouts. It seems funny that I'm halfway through my year's races, but I promise to put the rest of the schedule up soon!