Get Ready to Rock 20 Mile Abbreviated Race Report

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I was heading into this run knowing it was make or break time. My recent injuries and lackluster long runs left me a little worried about covering the distance. Turns out I should have been. In summary, it totally sucked. I spent the first half of it trying to perform damage control. My left groin was sore. My right one started hurting too, and my abs were cramped up the whole time. I felt nauseated. The humidity and temperatures climbed really quickly. I had to pee from the start of the run, and in the absence of viable bushes, I had to wait for the porta potty at mile 11. My average quickly dropped from 9:15 for the first 11 to 10:30s for the total run. At mile 19, I decided that I really needed to suck it up and just finish the run. At mile 19.5, the nausea got really bad, and I proceeded to barf 4 times while a half a dozen people ran by cheerily chirping that we were almost there. I finished. Steve says my finisher's photo looks as good as I felt.

I've got work to do:

1. Nail down my nutrition plan. I may be wearing a Fuel Belt for the whole marathon. If it means losing a few seconds per mile to maintain adequate nutrition, I'll take it.
2. LOTS AND LOTS of ab work in the next 3 weeks. The salvage workout mentality has left me super squishy in the midsection.
3. Instead of the 15 miler on the books for this weekend, I think I'm going to make it 17 or 18. I need one more practice run.
4. I'm going to feel out my old shoes. When Endurance House did my footstrike analysis at WIBA at the end of June, they determined that I was a more neutral shoe girl, not stability. I remember vowing to myself that if I started to get injured, I'd go back to what's worked for the last 10 years. I did transition myself to the new shoes over a month's time, but that may not have been long enough. I ran my tempo run in my trusty Saucony Hurricanes yesterday, and I felt OK. I think the groin is slowly getting better anyway.

Right after the run, we headed out to Madison to volunteer at IM Moo. It was the most fun I've had in a weekend in a long time. Steve has tons of pictures, but I'll have to hit the highlights in the next couple of days! Happy training everyone!

St. Croix Valley Olympic Distance Tri Race Report

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Well, here it is - my last tri race report of 2009. The outdoor pools are all closing, and the lakes are getting colder. In a couple of weeks, they won't be swimmable. It'll be too cold. I had high hopes for this race when I first signed up. It would be my first oly of the year, and I really have been working on getting faster. The groin injury, however, resulted in a screeching halt in my training, and I've been on the bike and in the water all of twice each since Chisago 70.3 at the end of July. Like I said in my last post, I've been just trying to get in most of my critical runs in an effort to be well enough for the marathon next month. It's hard to turn that race mentality off when you get to the site, though. I had told myself all week that if my leg wasn't feeling it, it was totally ok to DNF if it meant saving the marathon.

Steve and I got to the race site about an hour early. We knew it would be a small race (the sprint the day before had 400 + participants but the oly only had 111). Even though the race was technically in Wisconsin (Hudson), it's just a little over 20 minutes from our door. We set up our stuff, said hi to our friend Jen and her hubby, and shimmied into our wetsuits.



Jen and me getting body marked


The Swim:

The swim was a 2 wave start. Men went first and women and teams went out 3 minutes later. I knew I hadn't really put in any swim time, but somehow my times always come out the same regardless of how much work I put in, so I was still hoping to come out in around 35 minutes - slow by most people's standards but pretty normal for me. I positioned myself toward the inside and at the back. I'm slow enough that this position just seems to work for me, and this time was no exception. I had a lot of open clear water for much of the two loop swim, and compared to my swim at Chisago, it was very drama free. I hopped out of the water in 34:11, a PR by over a minute since my last oly.

T1:

I was very careful taking off my wetsuit. I sat down and pulled my left leg out with my arms for fear that I'd really aggravate my groin if I tried to get it off normally. Jerry MacNeil, local tri announcer, joked that I was demonstrating one way to get a wetsuit off and then commenting that I had MUCH better balance than Steve in putting on my socks and shoes. It felt kind of cool having somebody giving my play by play in transition. Thanks Jerry! After all that futzing around, I was out in 1:50.

The Bike:

The bike was the big "if" of the race. I haven't been putting in the miles, and even though I knew this was just a 40K, it's still something that should be trained for. I had talked to the ART doc on Wednesday asking for his blessing, and he specifically mentioned that I should be careful not to pull up with my left leg. I was on track for my calculated sub 3 splits after the swim and T1, and I spent most of the bike trying to baby my leg but pushing hard enough to keep at least a 17 mph average, what I knew I'd have to pull on the bike in order to even be close to 3. I got passed by a couple of guys initially but I did pass one woman and a few guys later on. Otherwise we were pretty spread out. The roads on the bike were a little rough in spots, but overall the course was beautiful. It was a gorgeous summer/fall day, and it felt great to be on my bike. My average slowly crept up, and by the end, I finished the bike in 1:24:40, a 17.5 mph average, and another PR by over a minute. I know that had I been better trained, I could have been WAY faster here, but I was just happy to eek out what I did.

T2:

I hopped off my bike, and my groin was SUPER stiff. My normal hustle to the rack was quickly reduced to a walk in an attempt to stretch out my leg enough to actually muster up something for the run. To my relief, it started loosening up pretty quickly. Coming in on the bike, I really had to pee, and for a couple of seconds, I thought I'd be able to pee on the bike, but I just couldn't relax enough. I was in and out of T2 in 1:59 with a port a potty stop.

The Run:

Truth time. Had I really screwed something up in my groin or would I be OK? The first couple of steps on the run felt pretty stiff, but I was able to loosen up a little bit. I took a gel right off the bat and focused on a relaxed upper body and a shorter but quicker stride (long strides tend to irritate the injury). To my astonishment, the mile 1 marker showed up really quickly. I looked down at my watch and saw 8:54. I was hoping to hold onto that. It would easily secure a sub 3 hour race. Starting the run, I was excited that it was only a 10K. After 3 half iron distance races this year, somehow 6.2 miles seemed short! I didn't have enough room on my watch for all of my run splits, so I took them every 2 miles. I hit mile 2 in 17:04 which meant that either I was picking up speed really fast or the mile marker was short. Miles 3 and 4 took me 18:49, so I'm guessing the markers were a little off. I got really direction turned between miles 3 and 4. It was a pseudo out and back with a bit of winding around in the middle. I was so confused for a second that I was questioning the run distance we were covering! I was still feeling strong at that point. My weekly tempo runs with Matt have gotten me used to running with side stitches and out of my comfort zone, so I just pretended that I was running with him! I kept trying to pick up the pace knowing that barring no major catastrophes, sub 3 was on its way. As I hit the 400 mark, I could hear footsteps. Someone was gaining on me. Drat. I had been passing people here and there, but nobody had passed me since the first 1/4 mile of the run. I wasn't about to let it start just before the finish. When the guy finally caught up to me, I saw that it was one of the guys I had passed and chatted with a little before mile 1. He thanked me then told me I had a great pace and that I had been his rabbit all day. I had a little gas in the tank, so I picked it up and pulled him in.



Booking it in at the finish - you can see the guy chasing me's elbow


I finished those last 2.2 miles in 17:29
I averaged just under 8:37/mile for the 10K, which is a huge improvement over my last oly run. Total time was 2:56:04, over 10 minutes faster than my previous PR. Never being fully satisfied, I can't help but wonder how much better I could have done had I been totally healthy, but I guess this just means I'll have room for improvement on my next one! It's a little disappointing to see that I still came in 9/10 in my age group, but 7 of the top 10 women were in my age group, and I can't argue with improvement.
Overall, this was a super low-key, well-run race. I would totally recommend it. Steve and I had a blast, and he even came in 2nd in his age group.
If the groin holds up, I may do a local 20 mile road race next weekend. I'll keep you posted!

Long Overdue Update - Running and Lack Thereof

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During my Chisago race report, I promised to write again on the recent success that I've been having in my running. It was right around that time that I was feeling on top of the world on every run. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was running my weekly long runs by myself and tempo runs with my brother Matt, and we were really pushing each other. I was feeling so good that I was starting to realize that sub 4 was definitely in my future, and a little voice in my head was asking if I should be aiming to BQ, a feat I've long thought I'd have to age into. Around 3 weeks ago, though, I started having a little bit of groin pain during and after my runs. I took it easy until my next important run of the week - no cross training in between, just aiming to heal up enough to get through another vital piece of training. I've still managed to get in my tempo runs with Matt, but I haven't done intervals in around a month, and my 20 mile long run this past Tuesday was bad enough to rank in the top 5 worst runs I've ever had. I only made it 16 miles, and I had to walk a couple of those miles. It wasn't just my groin. I had nutritional issues, side cramps, and mentally, I was toast - feeling really defeated, like my whole body has atrophied in the past month. I don't do injuries.

I saw Steve's ART chiropractor twice this week. It's either a very strained groin muscle or a sports hernia. I thought hernias were for old grandpas. During my first visit, Dr. Folske was thinking there's a 50/50 chance of hernia vs muscle. My visit Wednesday went better, though, and now we're thinking it's more likely muscle. He's giving me a few more visits before referring me to a surgeon. The good news is that it's tolerable pain if I alter my stride just a bit. The bad news is that it's slowing me down. The marathon is just over 4 weeks away. I'm not sure where this is headed. I'm still keeping sub-4 in sight, but I NEED a good 20 miler before then.

Steve and I are signed up for the St. Croix olympic distance tri this weekend. I don't think I'd be doing it if I hadn't already paid the money. It has quickly turned from an A race with the goal of finally hitting sub 3 to a "C" cross training day set up to keep me healthy enough for the marathon. Arrg.

OK, enough griping. I am really thankful that I am able to still be out there. I know it could be much much worse. I'm just so used to being healthy. On a positive note, I am downright giddy to be volunteering at IM Moo this year. We literally have a dozen or so friends doing the race, and It'll be a mini vacation for us! SO excited to visit Ironman village! In the meantime, if you need to find me I'll be doing groin stretches and flat legged situps in my living room :)