Winter BeGone Duathlon Quick Summary

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It was cold, it was windy, it was rainy, and it almost wasn't. Our long course got shortened to a sprint because the conditions were so crappy. I think the lightning and hail before the race scared the race directors (and the rest of us!).

I've never actually done a sprint anything, well, unless you count running a 5K here and there. This race was a good chance for me to see what I can do, albeit in super crappy conditions. I wasn't one bit sad that I wasn't out there for an extra hour.

Because we were all forced to do the short course, I got to see my sister Steph, my brother Matt, Steve, and Borsch at multiple points. Matt and I ran the first leg together. It was so fun to be out there with them all. Steph finished her FIRST duathlon, and our friend Jeremy had one dramatic bike!

Full report to come!

MDRA Mudball Race Report

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We signed up to be members of the Minnesota Distance Running Association a couple of months ago. They sponsor the Dome running that we take advantage of during the winter. They also put on several free runs for its members, so we figured it was worth the reasonable price. Today was one of their runs.

Steve, Steph, and I were all planning to run. Borsch and my brother Mike came to cheer. The run is set up to be a cross country run on a series of trails in Theo Wirth Park just west of Minneapolis. Before the race, we chatted up some other local runners. Danielle had done this race last year and announced that it had been the hardest race of any distance she'd ever done. Gulp!

I didn't have a lot in the way of goals for this run. I haven't run a cross country race since my high school days 10 years ago. I was hoping to keep it under 10 minute miles for the 4 mile race, but depending on the footing, amounts of hills, and muddiness, I knew it could be slower. Mostly I was just treating it as a hard tempo run in preparation for the Winter Be Gone Duathlon next weekend. Steve had looked up the field last year. Seventy-one runners had finished. I heard that 69 finished this year. The course was 4 x 1 mile loops, so it really couldn't have handled a lot more people than that.

Steve lined up toward the front. He was hoping to finish in the top 10. There are a lot of old school guys there, and some of them are really speedy! Steph and I lined up toward the middle. It was a pretty informal start. They shouted go, and we took off! The announcers had said before the start that there was only one real hill in the race and that it was marked. Right after we started, however, there was quite the uphill. The loop was actually a lot of fun. There were lots of downhills and uphills with one stretch of flat that was probably around 1/10 of a mile long. I was really glad that we've had a dry spring. That course would have been a real mess if it were wet. I would have been worried about my IT bands if we were slipping and sliding all over the place, but it would have made for fun race photos!

I hit the first loop in 9:08. Sweet! I was on track for an OK time after all. I hit the second lap in 9:07. Another great split. Mile 3 wasn't as beautiful. The leaders had already lapped me at this point, and I knew I was barely halfway there. I had started counting the frontrunners, and when familiar steps and breathing came up behind me, I shouted to Steve that he was in 4th. My split was 9:26 for lap 3. The great thing about doing 4 laps is that I had an attack plan by the time I was on my last lap. There were several catchable people ahead of me, and when I looked back, I didn't see anybody. Since I didn't have anybody to hold off, I focused on pegging people off. My previous laps had told me that the last steep uphill meant that there was about 600 meters left, and that's when I decided to really push it. I had been following two women wearing blue T-shirts for most of the race, and this was my chance! A middle-aged guy was cheering us on, and he told me to gun for them. I smiled and told him, "That's what I'm trying to do!" With just a couple hundred meters left, I attacked. I passed them, and they made no attempt to keep up. I finished mile 4 in 8:47 for a total time of 36:29 and an average of 9:07:45. Not too shabby! I had to lean up against a tree for a second because I really thought I was going to barf. That last lap was a tough one. It passed quickly, though, and Steph came in not too far after me. She's working through and injury and ROCKED the course. Lots of pics coming on Steve's blog... I'm working on the photo thing.

I am a little sorer tonight than I had expected. It was not a long distance, but those hills really did a number on my legs. It was sure great training for next weekend. My 2009 race schedule is starting to take shape. Now I just have to drop a bunch of registration fees.

Spring is FINALLY here!

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I know I've been saying it for weeks. Every time the temp rises above 50 I get excited. This week it looks like it may actually be here :) It hit 70 degrees, and the highs aren't supposed to be less than 50 for the next week. YAHOO!!! Wednesday I got a 6 mile run in - my longest run since NOLA 70.3. I felt slow and out of shape, but when I started timing myself, I realized that I was actually going faster than usual. It was a beautiful run. Summit Ave was FULL of bikers, runners, and walkers, and it made me feel so blessed to live in a city that welcomes physical activity.

Last night, I went for a bike ride with my sister Steph. She just got a new bike around a month ago, so I was showing her some more routes to take instead of the usual heavy traffic leisure exerciser's path. We ended going 27 or 28 miles. Our average wasn't stellar, but that's because I was stopping every few miles to say, "Now if you were to turn this way, you'd be heading to ..." I love dragging my siblings into biking! My brother Matt and I have gone on lots of rides together, but he's getting too fast for me, so he and Borsch went together last night. Two siblings down, two to go!

Tony, my tri bike, is still in New Orleans. Steve and I had them shipped to Bicycle World down there for the race. Everything went swimmingly. When we returned them to the bike shop's tent after the race, they said that we should expect them last Friday, today at the latest. I called today because we hadn't heard anything and I was worried that UPS had lost them along the way. They haven't even shipped them yet. At first I was relieved that they were still on their way, but when I realized that we have a RACE next weekend, I called them back to inform them that they cannot ship them any later than Monday. I don't want to do the race on my old slow road bike. I'm crossing my fingers.

Maybe it's the nice weather. Maybe I'm getting sick of being stuck in traffic. Maybe I'm excited about the new secure corral they built at my job, but I'm seriously considering biking to work several times a week this summer. It wouldn't really save time, and since it's only 5 miles each way, I wouldn't be saving a ton on gas, but I could probably stand to lose the extra 300 calories per day, and Lord knows I could use some better biking legs!

New Orleans Ironman 70.3 Race Report

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Well, I've officially had a week to recover, and it really did take that long. I ended up taking a nap nearly every day this week, and not just 15 minutes here or there. I'm talking about 1-2 hours a day plus my usual 7 or so hours at night. I think a late night out on Bourbon St Sunday combined with 2 short plane rides that allowed for no napping just totally wore me out. Plus, as you may have seen or heard, I got incredibly sunburned, and I think it actually led to some sun sickness. My hands swelled up, I was totally wiped out, and even some lymph nodes in my neck reacted to the burn. I haven't been burned that bad since I was 12 or so and fishing with my grandparents. I never want to be burned like that again. I may need one of those little wraps that keeps your arms covered. I can never seem to use enough sunscreen.

Steve, as usual, has posted all of our pictures. If you haven't checked them out, head on over to his blog. He's got a 3 part race report!

We left Minnesota super early on Friday morning. My poor sister is awesome for taking us to the airport HOURS before she would even have had to get up. Thanks Steph! We had a layover in Memphis. The whole airport smells like meat. It was Steve's kind of place! All of that taking off and landing combined with the 2 short flights did a number on my stomach, but before I knew it, we were on land again in New Orleans. We picked up our rental car and waited for TriSara Tops' plane to get in. A few hugs later and we were heading into town to meet up with Team Evotri and some super cool pros! Stu was doing an interview with Desiree Ficker, Chris McDonald, Linsey Corbin, and Heather Gollnick!! Steve and I aren't officially part of Team Evotri, but we've been friends with most of them since the first WIBA in 2006 while I was training for my first Ironman. Over the years as more members have been added, we've gotten to know them as well, and let me just say that they are one of the coolest, most dedicated, and down to earth groups that you'll ever meet. Plus, they're a blast, and like I said in my earlier post, I literally laughed all weekend. After ogling the pros while they had their interview, we went to check in, grabbed some tasty Cajun food, and went back to the house where we were staying. We had some pretty sweet accommodations! There was plenty of room for the nine of us, even with our bikes and gear. We spent most of Friday and Saturday checking in, getting our gear ready, picking up remaining team members getting into town, and eating tasty tasty food. Saturday we had beignets at Cafe Du Monde (a must when visiting NO) and some pre-race pasta later in the evening. Lights out early Saturday evening - we were racing the next day!

On race morning, I stepped outside and let out a big sigh. It was MUGGY. Just as the weatherpeople had been predicting, Sunday was the warmest temp that they'd had in a while down there. In the end, I think it got up to around 83 degrees, NOT exactly Minnesota weather in April. We piled in the team van yet again. Did I mention what a great navigator/team supervisor Robby B is? He never got us lost and always knew where we needed to be and when. It made doing an out of town race SO much easier. Thanks Robby! Transition was buzzing as usual. I arranged my stuff and made sure to slather on plenty of sunscreen. My skin hadn't seen the light of day since our trip to Cozumel in January! When we got to the line for the buses that would take us to the swim start, they informed us that we'd better start walking because we wouldn't make it on a bus. Dang. Oh well. It was actually a nice walk, and since it was so warm, walking in bare feet and my tri outfit wasn't the least bit chilly. We got to meet up with some other bloggers on the walk, too - added bonus! The porta potties at the swim start were all out of TP. Live and learn, I made the rookie mistake of not bringing any... Steve and Trisaratops' waves were before mine as were Sweet's JP's and Robby's. Rural Girl, TriCajun, his wife Lisa (who is hilarious!), and Stu were all after me. My wave left at 7:52.

The Swim:

We had done a practice swim in lake Pontchartrain the day before, my first open water swim since Square Lake half in September. I'm glad I did. It took a couple of minutes to get used to the initial cold and the slightly salty water. The practice swim prepared me for the shallow start, which meant we really couldn't start swimming right away. When I did finally start swimming, I got kicked in the face once, but it wasn't a bad one. It took just a bit for us to spread out. Since it was a point to point, we were swimming between the shore and the buoys. I usually stay super close to the buoys during races but decided to keep closer to shore this time around. I did have a couple of episodes of veering. I guess that's to be expected this early in the season. For the most part, I was actually surprised at how few swimmers I ran into. There were 3000+ people registered! A local woman in the porta potty line had told us to watch for the big lone tree, so that's what I did. It certainly helped to have a point of reference! The swim was otherwise fairly uneventful, and it was NOT even close to my PR, but my time in the pool was pretty minimal so far this season, and with barely one open water swim under my belt, I'll take it! Total time: 47:13 (included a run up to T1).

T 1:

It was a pretty long hike up to transition, and transition was HUGE since the field was so big, but I was in and out in 3:35.

The Bike:

I knew this could be a super fast course if the wind stayed calm, but no such luck. It was picking up at a considerable pace. There were several out and back little juts, and the first one was against the wind. It was short, though, and for the first 25 miles or so, we mostly had the wind at our backs. I had a pretty stellar average for the first half of the bike, but I kept telling myself, "You are not a rock star. Take it easy. You'll be against the wind on the way back." I tried to keep it conservative for the first half, especially since this technically was only my 3rd outdoor ride of the year. I looked around a bit and enjoyed the scenery. I actually thought the bike was really pretty. It was mostly flat except when we were going over levies. The majority of the bike was out in the bayou, and I have never seen so many dead snakes in my life. I must have seen 30 dead snakes (and one live one) smushed on the road. We got to see some houses being rebuilt, but my favorite part was all of the green! Everything is still very brown here right now. On the way back, that beautiful tailwind came at us straight on. I continued to try not to push too hard, but I was passing people right and left (clarification: I was passing on the left!). I think all of those nasty trainer rides I did this spring paid off. It really can't replace outdoor training, but for this Minnesotan, it did the trick! Total time: 3:16.17, just around a 17mph average.

T2:

When I got to T2, I realized that I had probably eaten too much on the bike. Usually I don't eat enough, so I tried really hard to eat more. That combined with the headwind for 20 miles left a lot of food in my gut. I slowed it down in T2, visited the porta potty, and made my way to the run - 5:36.

The Run:

We had a nasty headwind for the first 3 miles of the run. One woman and I even drafted off each other for a while! She would run in front till she got tired, then I would take over. I've never had to do that before, but it works swimmingly. My food wasn't digesting. After the first mile, I took a few walk breaks to try to get the food down. It was either that or it was going to come back up. Option A wasn't working, so I started hoping for option B. I knew that at least then I'd feel better. I don't think the heat helped anything. A fifty degree temperature swing is a lot to ask of your body. Just to illustrate the difference, it snowed in MN the day before the race. They didn't have any ice until mile 6, but that was my turning point. I was able to cool off, I had a tailwind, and I felt great. My legs actually felt great for the whole run, but at that point the rest of my body finally decided to join them. I met a woman named Marian at around mile 9 and we ran the next 4 miles together. She was from Puerto Rico and cute as a bug. My splits were as follows:

First 2 miles - 21:05
Miles 3+4 - 23:06
Mile 5 - 15:08 - yikes! That was a nasty one, food still not going down...
Mile 6 - 12:06
Mile 7 - 10:21 - food was starting to digest
Mile 8 - 12:19
Mile 9 - 11:02
Mile 10 - 11:01
Mile 11 -11:13
Miles 12 + 13 - 22:24
Total: 2:29:48

None of those splits were great, but given the heat and the GI issues, I'll take 'em! I negative split the run by nearly 3 minutes! The last mile of the run was AWESOME. One guy shouted to Marian and I that we looked way too fresh to have raced as far as we had. I laughed and shouted, "Well, I don't smell so fresh!" I kept picking it up, and when we hit Jackson Square, the crowd was going crazy. I sprinted to the finish line! Half Iron Distance race #5 was a blast!

Nearly everyone from our group had finished, except for TriCajun and Lisa. They were doing the race together and had started behind me. I was a sunburned soaking wet mess (from all of the ice and dumping water on myself). We traded war stories, and the general consensus was that the swim may have been a bit long, it was horrible that the bike course aid stations ran out of water and gatorade, and for a bunch of midwesterners, it sure was hot! I loved the race, though, and if it weren't so expensive to fly down and ship our bikes, I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

The Numbers:

Swim: 47:13
T1: 3:35
Bike: 3:16:17 (PR)
T2: 5:36
Run: 2:29:48
Total: 6:42:29 (PR by 5 minutes on "official" courses)
Placed 3/9 in the group "female medical professionals" (the race is sponsored by a hospital)
Placed 362/650 women

The Aftermath:

After picking our stuff up in transition (we just had to drop our bikes off with the bike shop), we made a mad dash to get JP to the airport. The rest of us got ready for some debauchery on Bourbon St! Well, as much debauchery as a bunch of tired triathletes who have to get up early the next morning for travel can have anyway...

We said our goodbyes Monday morning, and we're already looking forward to WIBA at the end of June, when we'll get to see everybody again for a weekend of training, friends, and fun.

Thoughts:

I really did like this course and would recommend this race. For it being an inaugural race, it was well organized. I was VERY disappointed that the aid stations on the bike ran out of Gatorade and even MORE disappointed that they ran out of WATER. If you're going to let 3000+ people into a race, you'd better have support for them. I was also disappointed to see that very few of the aid stations on the run had ice or sponges. It was a hot day and even the locals were melting!

I'm not sure if it was because this was an Ironman 70.3 or if it was because this was the inaugural event, but there were a lot of big name pros there, and it was fun to be out there with them. The ones we did get to interact with were very personable.

I would do this race again in a heartbeat...if the logistics of bike transport and plane tickets weren't included. It's just too expensive for us to make this a regular thing. Registration in itself is a pretty penny. We have so many great local races.

This sure wasn't my fastest race. Technically, it's a PR, but that's just because Steelhead was changed to a du last year and Square Lake's bike was 1.5 miles too short. Overall, it ranks somewhere in the middle as far as times go, and I'm OK with that given the fact that it was an early race. Sure it wasn't fun to be stuck indoors training, and mentally, it's a lot harder to know what you'll be able to do once you actually get out there, but I did notice something about this early season training... My mood was much better this winter, and I attribute it to all of the exercise. Normally I sort of go into hibernation in the winter. I eat crappy, work out much less than normal, and generally feel pretty gross. It sort of becomes a downward spiral that doesn't go away till the end of the winter. This year was different. It's really hard to force yourself into lots of exercise when you don't have anything to train for. I'm going to have to figure out how to work more exercise/training into next winter.

What's Next:

It's kind of funny. Normally by this time of year I have my whole race schedule figured out. This year, I was so busy training that I haven't had time yet! I love the 70.3 distance. I think it's my favorite distance, and I learn something each time I race one. I love the challenge, and since I'm REALLY not built for speed, I think it's a good fit. I know I can do this faster. There's a 70.3 race here in June that I'd really like to do. I'm also planning to join up with my buds at WIBA. I've got a couple of dus coming up, and of course, Twin Cities Marathon #10 will have to be on my race calender. I'll have a post later with the official calender! I'm going to keep training. I'm excited to get outside some more now that we've hit 50s. I need to work on getting to the pool more, and there will need to be some weight training. Yikes I've let my upper body go! Usually during the winter I focus more on strength training which takes a back seat during tri season. This year it took a back seat early, and it shows. Bicep curls here I come!

Back From The Big Easy!

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First, an apology for a complete lack of blogging. After the tonsil and migraine incidents, I got back into training but lacked some of the confidence that I had before I was sidelined for a week. Then Steve and I dove into yet another home improvement project. It seems we manage to take one on each time we've got a big race coming up. It wasn't anything huge, we just redid our guest room, but it took much longer to complete than I had anticipated. We refinished the floor, painted everything (including the closet and radiator!), put in new fixtures, pulled down the crappy shelving, and got some super cute bedding. Come visit if you're looking for a visit to a northern climate!



We got back from New Orleans yesterday, and it's been all sorts of unpacking and tidying since then. My baby sister, who is 18, had her tonsils out today, so I drove down to the hospital to be with her for a few hours today. Back to work tomorrow, so this will be the Cliff Notes version with more detail to come later.

I PR'd! Well, only by 5 minutes, and that's because my two half iron distance races were not very official last year. Steelhead was changed to a du, and the bike at Square Lake was a bit short at around 54.5 miles.

I had a blast meeting some of the pros, and there were other pro sightings all weekend.

I had the BEST time hanging out with all of the Team Evotri folks. I literally laughed all weekend. They are such an inspirational group, and they are so speedy! Steve and I have known some of them for almost 3 years now, and we enjoyed getting to know some of the newer members even better.

I got sunburned... again. This is not something I'm proud of. We slathered on lots of sunscreen before the race, but I need to work on applying it 1-2 more times during the race. Two days later, it's still painful, and my hands are swelled up with pitting edema, I think from the inflammation. It's super gross.

I ate delicious food, lots and lots of tasty food - shrimp, fish, beignets, pasta, and more peanut butter than I care to admit.

I think for the most part, my training prepared me well for this race. I obviously wasn't racing at end of the summer caliber, but for a long course race at the beginning of April, I really didn't do too bad. Details to come!