Still Jumping in at Master's Swim

by | | 3 comments
So what's next for me? The Twin Cities Marathon is usually my last big event for the year, and it's always a bit of a letdown when it's over. Suddenly the nights are getting shorter and the days are getting cooler. I don't love fall. I never have. I'm a summer girl for sure. Fall just means winter's coming. Last year after the marathon, I signed up for Surf the Murph 50K. I had felt pretty good during my marathon training and waited to see how my legs healed after the race. They gave me the green light, so I signed up.

I knew going into the marathon a couple of weeks ago that I had done training just to get by. I was trained for a half iron distance tri and had squeezed a little marathon training into that schedule. At around mile 20 of the marathon, I knew that I wouldn't be doing a trail run this year. It's SO much fun, and it's a great community that I can't wait to explore further, but I'd be kidding myself if I thought my body was ready. I briefly toyed with doing the 25K instead but have decided to forgo it. Maybe next year. Essentially this means that I don't have any big events on my schedule yet, which always freaks me out a little. Over the next couple of weeks/months, I'll come up with my 2011 race schedule. Right now, the only race there is the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon that my Evotri buds will be joining me for.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the unseasonably warm weather we've been having here in Minnesota. Anytime we can hit 75-80 degrees in October we celebrate! I've been on a couple of beautiful fall bike rides, gotten in some long runs with my brother and friends, and am still going to Master's swimming. It's no less embarrassing. We worked on the butterfly this past Thursday, and I'm closer to drowning than swimming when I attempt that stroke. I have nearly given up on the whip kick. I may never be able to do the breaststroke properly. I always thought that I as a runner had bypassed "inflexible ankles" that is commonly the complaint when runners take up swimming. Beth, our instructor, has informed me that this is likely my problem. On the positive side, I did flip turns for all but one of my turns during intervals last Thursday. I am making progress, people! Slowly but surely, I know that aspects of my stroke are improving. At the very least, not taking a 5 month holiday from swimming this winter should really help my speed next summer.

Happy off season, everybody!

Twelve

by | | 15 comments
The short version: I ran my twelfth marathon today. It wasn't my fastest, it wasn't my slowest. I was aiming for around 4:15 which I figured was a reasonable goal for me. I finished in 4: 23:03 with a smile on my face.

The long version: We had a crazy huge clan doing this race last year. Borsch and I did the marathon and 10 of my siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins did the 10 miler. This year I was flying solo in the marathon while Steve, my brother Matt, my aunt Nancy, and my cousin Megan did the 10 mile. My mom and sister Annie came up to sherpa. We comfortably fed 7 of us last night and hit the hay for an early alarm clock. Since the 10 miler starts just after 7, we were leaving my house a few minutes past 6 so we could get the 10 mile runners there in time. Mom dropped us off and then stopped back to my place to pick up Annie so they could beat Steve to the finish line. While Steve did his warm-up, Megan, Nancy, Matt, and I tried to stay warm in the dome before making our way to the 10 mile start. Steve was in the first wave. I wished him luck, gave him a smooch, and watched the race commence. After the first wave left, I got to see Matt and Nancy line up in wave 2 (Megan was in the last wave) and then made my way back to the dome. It was really cold this morning – around 40 degrees, our coldest day since last spring. Since I had sent my sweats with my mom, I was rocking two pretty sweet garbage bags – one on top and one as a skirt. I indulged in a couple of potty breaks and then made my way to my own start line. I had told a coworker and another friend that I would meet them near the 4:15 pace group, but I didn’t see anybody. They played “Everybody Looks Good at the Starting Line” just like they always do; then we were off!

My goal was to hit an average of 9:45.

Mile 1: We ran through downtown and all hooted under one of the buildings – 9:41. Good. Right on track

Mile 2: We ran past the Basilica with the bells ringing just as they always are. I was warming up and had to shed my long sleeves - 9:30. I had to ask myself if I was running too fast. Nope, feeling comfortable.

Mile 3: decided against the water stop. I still had a nervous bladder and didn’t think I needed it yet. We ran past the guy who’s always playing the tuba. I heard someone call him Mike - 9:54. My average was till fine so I just made a note to pick it up a little.

Mile 4: 9:32 – still feeling good

Mile 5: Running past the lakes is truly beautiful on a sunny fall day - 9:14

Mile 6: I stopped to walk through the water station but was really surprised when I saw my split of 10:27. Maybe the markers were a little off?

Mile 7: I finally decided to take advantage of a short porta potty line. I was in and out in a minute, and my split didn’t suffer too much -10:28

Mile 8: Time to get back into my groove -9:52 – a little slower than I was looking for.

Mile 9: Up and down those little hills you forget about every year -9:33. Better

Mile 10: Feeling fairly comfortable pace-wise, legs getting a little achy - 9:30 - Solid.

Mile 11: Time to turn off the parkway and head onto Cedar - 9:35

Mile 12: I seem to forget about the bridge on Cedar every year. It’s a descent climb. I waved and smiled when I passed the bagpiper band - 9:31- doing a good job at making up for lost time on miles 6 and 7 and still feeling steady.

Mile 13: I saw Tiffany near the halfway point and flashed her a smile -9:35. I hit 13.1 in just over 2:08. I was still feeling strong and knew that if I kept a consistent pace, I’d make up that minute.

Mile 14: 9:53

Mile 15: 9:27

Mile 16: 9:51

Mile 17: 9:27 – Still feeling OK, but my stomach was a little queasy. I had been eating and drinking and decided that I was short on something.

Mile 18: I stopped to get in some Nuun in. I knew it would help my stomach and that even though it was cool, I was probably still sweating - 10:57. Yikes. Going to be hard to make this up…

Mile 19: I felt better immediately after the Nuun and energized knowing I was crossing the Franklin Bridge and inching closer to St. Paul- 10:01, need to pick it up a little

Mile 20: I felt like I was back to my earlier pace and was surprised to see a 10:14 split.

Mile 21: Starting to cramp up a little - 10:30. 4:15 is going out the window

Mile 22: Still cramping. I decided I needed more Nuun and stopped to dissolve some. I need to figure out a better system for this process - 11:57.

Mile 23: I looked back to see the 4:30 pace group right behind me. I did some quick math in my head and determined that I wasn’t doing that bad - 10:16

Mile 24: I tried to pick it up and couldn’t I really wanted to get ahead of the VERY peppy 4:30 pacers. I am absolutely for getting people excited out there, but every 10 seconds is a little excessive in my opinion. I slowed to grab one last big drink of Nuun -10:58

Mile 25: Time to rock and roll. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would get to see my family - 10:40. Still holding off the 4:30 peeps

Mile 26: I high-fived all of my family just before the Cathedral. The Chicken Dance came on Steve’s old-school boom box - 10:18

Mile 26.2: I was determined not to let the peppy 4:30 pacers pass me. I pushed it in as hard as I could, even though I was cramped in places I haven’t cramped in years -2:01

Total time: 4:23:03

That was probably more detail than anyone cared for. Before more reading, here are the pics Steve took as I was passing them:




Coming up to my family, ready to finally get rid of that shirt!




Smiling even though my legs were KILLING me








High-fiving my AMAZING family - thanks for sticking around everybody!


Final Thoughts:
I really did have a great race, even though it may not sound that way. In the first 18 miles, I would catch myself smiling for the sheer reason that I am blessed to be able to do this. I knew that I would be running this marathon, not racing it. I have really only “raced” two marathons. In one of them, I PR’d big time. In the other, I fell flat on my face. Both required very dedicated training and hurt the ENTIRE time. All marathons hurt, but racing one brings on a whole different level of hurt. I knew going into this one that I wasn’t trained to race it, so I set out to have fun instead. I high-fived kids, I talked to a couple of first-timers, and I enjoyed the beautiful weather.
I didn’t drink enough. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that until I was home later. I let the cool weather and the absence of copious sweat cloud my judgment on how much fluid I really needed out there. I drank at many of the water stops, but they only fill those tiny cups half full. I really should have been more aware of what was going on. At the time, it just felt like someone flipped a switch and added 1-2 minutes to each mile. I LOVE Nuun and generally train with a Fuel Belt. I either need to start wearing it for races or get a small hand-held bottle to dissolve the tablets in as I’m running. Waiting for them to dissolve in a cup or half chewing them to speed up the process aren’t quick means of getting the stuff in me.

Sorry if you’re an i pod lover, but I am really saddened to see what MP3 players have done to the marathon scene. I would estimate that 30-50% of the runners around me were wearing them. When I did my first marathon in 2000 and even as recent as a few years ago, there was more happy chatter, joking around, and interacting with the crowd. I can’t believe how much it has decreased. All day long I found myself going to crack a quick joke with the person next to me only to realize that they had earbuds stuffed in their head. In every case I decided against saying anything. People put huge sound systems on their front lawns to blast music. Bands come to play for us. The tuba guy and the bagpipers make the trip for us. Two hundred fifty thousand people come out to cheer for this race, and there is only one lonely mile where the crowd is thin. My family rents costumes at $80 each to cheer out there. Steve and I spent part of our Friday night coming up with this year’s soundtrack to blast for people a half mile from the finish line. I may make a lot of enemies with this rant. I know that many people aren’t truly tuned out, and there’s a good chance that the issue is actually with my unwillingness to talk to people with headphones on. However, it did seem much lonelier out there than during the half marathon portion of my last 70.3, where headphones are still banned.

The 4:30 pacers finished literally just behind me. Since they started behind me in the corral, that puts their total finishing times somewhere between 4:22 and 4:23. I'm not so sure that's successful pacing. I'm not trying to totally bash them. I LOVE using pacers when I can. However, If I had been running hoping to keep up with this group and they were running 15-20 seconds/mile faster than I was expecting, I'm not sure I could have done it.

I LOVE my family. I was looking forward to seeing them all day. They took some hilarious photos while they were cheering in their costumes. After the race, we all came back to our place and had a grill out and birthday cake! I feel really blessed tonight.

Next year will be the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon’s 30th anniversary. If you’re looking for a well-organized race on beautiful course with top notch crowd support, consider this one. It’s worth the trip.

Race Week...Again

by | | 7 comments
It seems that Rev3 was just yesterday. That's not far off. It was just 2.5 weeks ago. I feel like I've barely recovered and it's time to race again! I'll be running my 11th Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon this Sunday. I still remember talking to a woman during my first marathon. She was running her twelfth marathon, and I thought to myself that that was SO MANY marathons. In four days, that will have be me! Aside for my one year at Grandma's, I really haven't branched out much in the marathon world, and that's OK with me. I really love the freedom to race multisport during the spring and summer and then have this race to look forward to every fall. It's truly a spectacular venue. It's right in my backyard with unbelievable crowd support and organization. The expo is HUGE and really fun to walk through (and lots of yummy samples!). It's a beautiful race, too. It starts in downtown Minneapolis two blocks from my hospital. We then pass by several lakes, run along the river, and head up past the University of St. Thomas - my undergrad where I really fostered my love for distance running. Once I'm there, it's the home stretch. Although it's never easy to finish those last 6 miles, I've been running on Summit Avenue since I started college in 1999.

It's funny how much my running has changed since then. My first year of marathon training consisted of 60-70 mile weeks. Now I squeeze marathon training into my tri training. My endurance is still there, but my peak weeks are closer to 30-35 miles. When I ran my first marathon, I only knew one other person who'd ever done one. I ran the race alone except for Steve and my sister Steph cheering for me. Afterward, I went back to an empty dorm room. This year I will be running the marathon with a dozen or more people that I have met over the past few years and am happy to call my friends. I'll have friends all over the course cheering, and my Mom, brothers, sisters, and husband will be waiting for me near the finish line, four of them dressed in crazy animal costumes - a tradition Steve started a few years ago. I have done this race as an A+ race, a B race, and a C -- race. After Ironman 2006, I almost didn't do it at all because I had pneumonia/bronchitis. I've run this marathon with many first-timers - my sister Steph, my brother in law Jon, my friend Janna, and my buds Jess and Maddy.

This race now symbolizes tradition for me. My family comes up, we eat together, some of us run the full, some of us run the 10 miler, and we have a grill-out afterward. The race is always around or on my birthday, so we usually top off our post-race meal with some guilt-free cake.

I really don't know how the day will play out. The weather looks like it will be PERFECT - 40-60 degrees, partly cloudy, and no rain. My last long run, a 20 miler, was at the end of August. Then I started tapering for Rev3, then I was racing Rev3, then I was recovering from Rev3. I know I still have a lot of fitness left, and I felt on top of the world for nearly 6 hours of racing that day. I figure I can muscle through 4.5 hours or less of running. It won't be a PR day, but It certainly has to be better than racing with pneumonia! I think I'll be aiming for around a 4:15 - a relatively practical goal for me. More than anything, I'm going to set out to have fun. I'm going to welcome people to my beautiful cities, encourage a first time marathoner, thank all of the people who come out to cheer for me, and flash my family a huge smile when I see their furry faces just before the finish line!

Jumping in at Masters Swim

by | | 13 comments
Our local YWCA has been offering Masters swim classes for a couple of years, but I've always been too intimidated to try it. I've gotten a little faster this summer, though, and have been doing plenty of intervals in the pool. They kicked me out of my lane a couple of weeks ago when I was doing my last long swim before Rev 3. As I was moving over to an empty lane, I started talking with one of the guys in the class, and he seemed really nice. The group was doing a workout that seemed manageable, and the "slow" lane had a woman I know that swims my pace. I decided that after Rev3, I'd sign up and come back.

Fast forward to this past Thursday when I figured I'd be recovered enough to join the group. I introduced myself to Beth, the instructor. I was really excited to get started until she wrote BREASTSTROKE on the white board. We started doing drills. Apparently I've been doing the whip kick wrong for twenty years. You know, since level 3 of swimming lessons...oops. I do this weird hybrid between a whip kick and a scissors kick that really doesn't belong in the presence of several former collegiate swimmers. Beth gave the others their drills to do. She gave me "modified" drills so I could get the basics down a little better. She had to stop me at the end of the lane several times to give me pointers. It was MORTIFYING! For me, feeling like I'm holding a group of people back is the worst, and that's exactly what I did for most of the class. After the drills, we did 9 x 75 IMs with different combinations of breast, back, free, and fly. Since I now know I can't do the breast with any sort of correct form and I can't do the fly for more than a few strokes, I had to alternate between back-free-back and free-back-free. I apologized to the guy in my lane several times, and repeatedly apologized to Beth. That sinking feeling of not being good enough to be there hung over my head the entire hour.

I'm not a swimmer by trade. I passed all of my swimming lessons when I was young and have always loved swimming for fun. I took to the distance pretty fast when I decided to train for my first tri in 2004. Steve and I taught ourselves Total Immersion in 2005. Since then, I have worked on improving my form and speed. I'm still not fast at all - around 2:00/100, but I'm comfortable in the water and generally enjoy it. I guess that's why I was so surprised to feel like a kindergartner in an algebra class on my first day. I talked to the instructor after class and asked her whether I was just in way over my head. She was very gracious and told me that she has swimmers of all different levels in her classes and that she's taught people who are afraid to put their faces in the water. Somehow that didn't make me feel any better. When I told her that I've done Ironman a couple of times and that I'm generally comfortable with the distance, she looked genuinely shocked. I'm not sure that was a compliment.

I know that sticking with this will be good for me. It'll be great to meet some new people and improve all of my swim strokes. It will keep me motivated to get in the pool this winter, something that I struggle with every off season. Eventually, it'll make me faster, too. I can tell that already. I'm planning on going back for at least a few more classes. I'm sure that if I can just get over the initial embarrassment, I really will have fun. On nights when we focus on free and endurance, I'll be fine. I'm already a little nervous for this Thursday, though, when we focus on the butterfly. Gulp.

Happy swimming everybody!

Rev3 Half Iron Distance Race Report

by | | 16 comments
Grab a cup of coffee, folks. This is going to be a long one. I won't have pictures until later. Steve's still fixing them up because he took over FIVE HUNDRED shots this weekend. He was the most amazing sherpa ever.

I was a huge mix of emotions coming into this race. I was excited to be racing my ninth half iron distance race, stoked to be doing my first official race with my Evotri teammates, and nervous as hell that I would fall flat on my face. I'd been working my butt off this summer for this race - literally and figuratively. I have been chasing this elusive sub-6 half iron distance ever since I came in at 6:06 on a short course at Chisago last year. That 20 minute PR planted the seed that maybe, just maybe, I could eventually see a 5 at the beginning of my finish time. I had major taper brain, though, and the last couple of weeks have been really rough on me mentally. In addition to having had a stressful couple of weeks at work, all I could think about was the workouts I missed this summer and how I may have thrown away my chance to really rock this distance. I trained more for this half than I've ever trained for a half. Having a coach has really kept me accountable, but it also magnified every workout I missed (even though Coach Tony was totally OK with a missed workout here or there). I was hoping that my Zipp 606s would make me that much faster on the bike. I've done a couple of time trials on them, but this was my first tri with them. I know as well as anybody, though, that sometimes it's just not your day - weather, wind, flats on the bike, horrible cramping... anything can happen out there. I think my biggest worry was that I'd put in so much time and energy this summer and still wouldn't see a PR.

Steve and I flew into Cleveland Friday and met up with our team for supper at a fun brewery. I'm always amazed that we are just able to pick up right where we left off. They are truly some of the best people I know. After driving the hour to Sandusky and the Cedar Point Amusement park, Rob, Michelle, and JP hit up the rides while Steve and I unpacked our car and reassembled my bike (I had to take it apart for the first time for air transport). Then we splurged on some ice cream, caught up with our roller coastered out teammates, and headed for bed.

Saturday was a flurry of checking our bikes in, registering, team activities, a quick, very choppy OWS, and a team meeting. At the meeting, I asked everybody to write their expected splits down so Steve would know when to be looking for people. I wrote down swim: 43, bike: 3:05, run: 2:05. I didn't know how realistic these times would be. I knew that the weather was expected to be cool, but they were also predicting a 10-20 mph wind that would be in our face on the bike return. I knew if I was going to break 6, these were the numbers I needed to see. That night, the team grabbed supper at a yummy Italian restaurant before grabbing a few last minute groceries and getting ready for bed.

Our alarm went off at 5 am on Sunday. Since we were in the park and just needed to take a shuttle to the transition area, we figured this would give us plenty of time to be on the bus by 6 and out of transition by the 7:20 cutoff. The full Rev 3 racers started at 7, but our swims wouldn't be starting until 8:30. I had layed everything out the night before and knew I had everything I'd need except my race belt. Luckily, the All 3 Sports tent had opened up early, and I was able to purchase one there. I slathered on the sunscreen even though the sky was full of clouds and we were all contemplating how many clothes we'd need on the bike.

We snapped a couple of photos before wishing Robby and Sweet luck. They were in the first wave, followed by JP, followed by Sara, Michelle, and me. Charlie and Lisa were in the waves behind us.

The Swim:

The swim is set up like an upside down U (the start and transition are not the same place). I was SO thankful that the wind had shifted. Our practice swim the day before had been a little rough - lots of chop, a strong current, and HUGE waves. This swim, albeit still in lake Erie, was a little smoother. I tried to draft when I could, maintained a relatively straight line, and swallowed a ton of water on the way back. I'm not sure if it was the waves or if I was just trying to go to fast and wasn't rolling far enough. I got kicked hard in the hand once but overall had an uneventful swim. I saw teammate Tracy, sidelined by some cracked ribs, at the swim exit and flashed her a smile. I ran up to transition and crossed the mat. I'm not sure what happened to the timing. I had myself with a 41:23 swim. The official race results list me as a 42:13. I had been secretly hoping for a sub 40, but doing it in a huge lake with some chop probably isn't where I'll see that.

T1:

When we started the race, air temps had been in the low-mid 60s. I had been mulling over what to wear on the bike all morning. By the time I got out of the water, it was 9:20, and even though it was still cloudy, I knew it would be warming up. I decided to just wear a band over my ears, gloves, and my regular attire of bike shorts over my tri shorts. I was out in 3:02.

The Bike:

I knew the bike would make or break my race. The wind was nasty at 14-21 mph, and it would be in my face on the way back. Since I was aiming for just over 3 hours, I decided to break the bike up into pieces and just aim for a goal of over 18 mph for each hour. This seemed to work really well. The course was beautiful - lots of orchards, farms, and little stands selling fruits and veggies. Some people had described the bike as flat. I definitely wouldn't label it as flat. There were a couple of medium sized hills but mostly usable rollers. It was a pretty fast course, though. There were a couple of roads that were really rough, especially on the causeway on the way out and back and one area that was chip sealed. I got passed a lot at the beginning, but I caught a lot of them back at the end. I kept waiting to turn into an impossible headwind. I was feeling so good that I knew there must be a horrible part coming up. You know what, though? It never came. The headwind on the last few miles on the way back was strong. I kept aero, stayed strong, and just kept pushing with a high cadence. Hour 1: 18.65 miles Hour 2: 18.37 miles Hour 3: 18.95 miles/1:02:43 hours (18.06 average). Data from my Joule:

Distance: 55.98
Average power: 133
Average cadence: 93
Average speed: 18.31
Average HR: 150
Normalized Power: 139

Total bike time per the race results: 3:02:53 - an 18.37 mph average, the fastest bike split I've posted in a tri of any distance.

T2:

I got into T2 feeling like a rock star. I was on track for a PR and had just killed the bike despite a nasty wind. How appropriate, then, that as soon as I crossed the mat, a guy put a camera in my face like I was some sort of pro. He filmed me the entire time I was in T1. I racked my bike; ripped off my helmet, sunglasses, bike shorts, earband, gloves, and shoes; changed out my nutrition; snapped on my race belt, donned my socks and running shoes, grabbed my hat and was out in 1:32. All of the pictures that Steve got of me crossing the mat to the run show me trying to get my hat on.

The Run:

Steve was cheering for me coming out of T2, and I could tell he was excited to be telling me that I could run a 2:10 half marathon and still break 6 hours. I was getting pretty excited myself and was ready to tear it up out there. I had had to pee since about mile 35 of the bike but knew I could wait until I found a port a potty on the run. By now, the sun had come out, and it was heating up. The run course was really pretty - out along the lake, weaving through town, and then back along the lake into the amusement park. One of my favorite parts about the run was that I got to see my teammates JP and Sweet rocking the course with only a mile or 2 left of their runs. I high-fived Rob out there and cheered in the other athletes who were heading in, including Tri Eric, who I'd just met that morning. I also got to see pros (doing the full) on their runs everywhere. It was so cool to be out there with them and to be cheering for local pro DKT as he attempted his first full iron distance race (he finished 3rd and took the series). On the way back in, I was cheering for all of the age groupers starting their runs for the full. I was feeling on top of the world and having a great run. With just a few miles left, I wondered if I should be pushing it more. I was still waiting to blow up out there since the run of my half in June and my half marathon in July both didn't go as planned. I was quickly realizing that my sub-6 goal was going to happen and wondered if I pushed it in just a little more if I could see 5:55. I never blew up. I just kept feeling better and better, and with 1.1 miles left, I started to hammer. Splits:

Mile 1: 9:16
Mile 2: 9:02
Mile 3: 10:17 - finally found a porta potty
Mile 4: 9:48
Mile 5: 9:30
Mile 6: 9:20
Mile 7: 10:26 - walked while eating, drinking, and getting some NUUN down - one hour to go!
Mile 8: 9:38
Mile 9: 9:32
Miles 10 + 11: 18:56
Mile 12: 9:35
Mile 13: 9:13
Last 0.1: 1:07

As I entered the finisher's chute, I felt AMAZING. I got a little choked up that I'd finally broken 6. When they called my name, a huge smile crossed my face. I threw my hands up and crossed the finish line.

Total Time: 5:55:56 according to the official race times, 5:54:30 according to my watch - not sure why they're so different. I suspect it's the difference in swim times. Placing: 14/39 in my AG, 50/267 women, 298/600+ overall.

I looked over to see Steve in his crazy shorts taking pictures and cheering his head off, just like he'd done all weekend. It was such a special gift to have him there. I saw teammates Michelle, Robby, and Sara right away, and we all chatted about our races. JP was off to catch his plane, but he'd come in 2nd overall. Sweet finished 6th overall, Sara had a specular PR, Michelle beat Rob in their throwdown by less than a minute, and Charlie and his beautiful wife Lisa crossed the finish line with smiles on their faces.

We showered, grabbed some supper, and finally used the two free passes to the park to ride the Raptor, Top Thrill Dragster, and the Magnum (twice). I was so excited to be on the coasters that I'd been in awe of over the past 2 days that I was literally running through the park. When E Speed suggested that maybe I'd sandbagged the race a little, I started to agree. Today, 2 days later, I'm still sore. Not sure if it was the overzealous roller coaster chasing, the travel time yesterday, or the race finally settling into my muscles, but I'm not walking normally yet :) We watched the end of the full for a while before heading back to our hotel so we could be up early Monday for travel.

Final Thoughts:

I know a lot of people are looking at this as a future race. Here are a few additional comments that I have.

* We stayed in Hotel Breakers. It wasn't too expensive (~150/day for a double room). It is a big hotel, has 3 pools, plenty of restaurants, and a shuttle to and from transition. It does not have a continental breakfast, and it would be best to bring your own. We had a fridge but no microwave. Food for Steve and me got pretty expensive over the weekend.

* Unfortunately, even though transition was only 1/4 mile away via the beach, biking and riding along the road between the hotel and the parking lot where transition (~2 miles of driving) was was not allowed, and they strictly policed this. You had to either drive or take the shuttle.

* We flew Southwest. It cost $50 each way for bike transport, much less than other airlines. We then rented a car. You'd need one to get from Cleveland to Cedar point (around an hour drive) and to get back and forth from transition to your hotel. Many of our friends drove, but the 12 hour travel time would have made it impossible for us to get back in time for Steve to teach class on Monday.

* Our race entry came with 2 free passes to Cedar Point Amusement Park. Extra passes were $29 through our hotel and I believe $39 through the race. The passes were good for Sat or Sun. We waited until Sunday night, and within an hour's time, got to ride 4 rides that normally would have had a 1-3 hour wait each. Some of my teammates took advantage of the deal they offered for racers and volunteers for Friday night. For $15/ticket, the park opened many of their big rides for 3 hours. My buddy Robby sprinted around the park like a little kid and rode coasters until his heart was content with literally no lines. Had I planed better, Steve and I could have arrived earlier to take advantage of that offer. By the time we got to the park, unpacked, and reassembled my bike, we ran out of time.

* As a half, this race was AWESOME, especially on the run. Since it was about 4 miles out and 4 miles back with around 5 miles' worth of loops in the middle, there was a lot of opportunity to cheer on and see other runners who were on the run for the half and on the run for the full. This is one of my favorite parts of an out and back. I could see how this race could get pretty lonely on the run for the people doing the full, though, especially on the second lap of the run.

* The volunteers for this race were top notch, especially for this having been a new event. There really wasn't a lot in the way of spectators. I suspect that this will change as the race matures, more locals know about it, and transportation for families improves.

* The numbers I heard were that the full had around 400 people and the half had around 800. With only 400 people in the full, the finish line was pretty sparse both with the numbers of racers coming in and spectators waiting there.

* I would highly recommend not leaving until Monday if you are able. Our hotel closed at noon Monday (off season, only open on the weekends), so we wouldn't have been able to stick around much after that. It was really nice to be able to enjoy the park, see the finish line, and not be rushed, especially since our race didn't even start until 8:30.

* The Rev 3 corp is doing a top notch job at competing with the WTC. They really are trying to make it about the athletes and their families again, which is so good to see. They took our pictures to show up on the huge screen at the finish, we had name tags at our spots in transition, and racers could cross the finish line with their families - just a few of the touches they put on the day.

*That being said, this is still a growing race. It didn't have quite the spectacle or crowd support as IM Moo, the only other 140.6 I have experienced to compare it to. As a half, it's one of the best ones I've ever done.

* The only complaints I have about the race were a few roads on the bike (mentioned above), porta potties for spectators were needed at transition and the finish area, and the finish area was a little hard to get into for spectators. Had it been easier and had there been bleachers for people to sit on, I suspect the crowd would have been bigger as the 17 hour cutoff approached for the athletes doing the full. Otherwise this truly was a great race.

* This was the first time I've raced with a 30 on the back of my leg (my races earlier this year were not USAT sanctioned). My birthday is in 3 weeks. If this is what my racing will be like in my 30s, bring them on!

My Second TT Experience

by | | 7 comments
I posted a report on my mostly disastrous bike time trial here. I was more prepared for this one. I arrived in Baker Park just up the road from the TT start with plenty of time to spare. I did an easy 20 minute warmup and got in line for the start in time to see my brother Matt take off a few minutes in front of me.

I actually looked the part this time - people at this time trial show up with some serious bike porn. Although I won't have my new Specialized bike for a while, I have been sporting my sweet Zipp 606s and Power Tap. I was hoping that the combination of new wheels, a little experience, recent training, and less wind would enable me to finally see that 20 mph average I've been shooting for. They held us at the start so we could be clipped in from the get-go. My only mistake for the race was being in too high of a gear when they counted down for me.


Getting clipped in during the countdown

It took me a second to get rolling, and for a moment, I was worried that I'd tip right over. I didn't, though, and I was off!




I took the first hill cautiously and spun up it

I worked on keeping my cadence high and not blowing up right away. I spent the remaining 11 miles pushing as hard as I could. I'm not sure if I am capable of redlining in an event (my muscle fibers just aren't made for it), but I was certainly close. The slight headwind on the way back wasn't as strong as I thought it could be, and I think I actually negative split it. Coming up that last big hill, I knew I would be close on time. To average 20 mph for an 11 mile course I was looking for 33 minutes. I hit the finish line in 32:35. I did it! I finally broke 20 mph! My official average was 20.36 (the course is just over 11 miles).


Pushing it to the finish

Crossing the finish line

Afterward, Steve, Matt, and I celebrated our efforts by taking a quick dip in Lake Independence. The water has been so warm around here this summer. It felt great!


Cooling off a little after Matt and I had great rides

Red, White, and Boom! Half Marathon Race Report

by | | 6 comments
I decided to do this race just a week before the July 4 race day. Steve and I had been keeping our options open for the day, and since I had to work on the 3rd, we knew we wouldn't be leaving town. When Steve's parents decided to come up for the afternoon, I figured I could squeeze in a morning race. Borsch, my new brother-in-law, was signed up so I did too. I tried to convince my brother Matt to join us, but he didn't want to "ruin" his weekend by abstaining from alcohol and fun, so he passed on this one :)

I came into the race expecting to PR. My old PR for a half marathon is 1:56. I ran a 2:02 earlier this year on a gravel path half marathon, and I ran a 2:05 at the end of my last half iron distance race. Matt and I have been putting in some really solid long-distance tempo runs (8-9 miles) at an 8:20-8:40 pace. I have done plenty of long runs (12+ miles) this year. I figured that running 8:45s in a race (1:54:42 over 13.1 miles) would be realistic. My official goal was a 1:55.



Borsch and I walking to the race start

This was the inaugural race. The race was put on by the company that does the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and the TC 10 mile. I first learned about it at the marathon expo last fall. I remember thinking that it would be fun but that the 4th of July would mean it would be hot, too. Fast forward 9 months where I had been watching the weather all week. The forecast was predicting a hot race morning with a 30% chance of rain. I was hoping it would hold off until we were finished, and I was hoping that the 6:30 AM start would help keep away the heat.



Borsch and I just before the start



Steve, my funny husband and awesome sherpa!

Steve came along to sherpa, and since Borsch and I already had our race packets, we got to the start line with just over a half hour to spare. We immediately got in line for the porta potties, and that's where we stayed until the gun went off.


The never-ending potty line

They really could have used more porta potties. I've never had to wait in line so long at a race! Thankfully, there were 3000 other runners who needed to get across the start line, and by the time I got out of my potty, Borsch and I just had to jog to the herd and had a few seconds to spare before starting the race. Unfortunately, that meant that I missed my pace group. I wasn't too worried. I knew I would catch up to them eventually.



Running to the start of the race.

Right off the bat, I had a lot of people to dodge. I was trying to take it a little easy and not waste a ton of energy getting around people. Mile 1: 9:20 - a little slow, hoping to pick it up.

I had been praying all week that the rain would hold off until after the race, but 30 seconds into it, I started praying for rain, even a downpour. It was 78 degrees with 80 percent humidity when the gun went off at 6:30. At mile 2, it started to rain, and I was so grateful. I hit the 2nd mile marker in 9:03 - better, but I was still hoping to pick it up.

I saw Steve at about mile 2.5.


Feeling good at mile 2.5

He wished me luck, and just after I left him, disaster struck. I got a paralyzing side cramp - one of those nasty ones where nothing you do alleviates it. I tried flexing my abs. I tried relaxing my abs...no luck. The only thing I could do was stop and try to work it out. I knew my hopes of a PR were over. It took me several miles to get rid of it. After the cramp finally let up, I spent the rest of the race cautiously trying to push it while keeping the cramp away.
Mile 3: 9:49
Mile 4: 10:36
Mile 5: 10:01
Mile 6: 10:52 - huge hill in this section
Mile 7: 9:29 - another big hill, but I was finally starting to feel better.
Mile 8: 9:48
Mile 9: 9:02
Mile 10: 9:19



Really soggy at mile 11. I smiled for the photo op, but I wasn't too happy about my time...



At least I wasn't alone! We all looked soggy. The rain felt GREAT in the heat.

Mile 11: 9:59
Mile 12: 9:00
Mile 13: 8:57 - trying to push it in
Mile 0.1: 0:49

Total time: 2:06:06

My legs felt fine and never really got sore, but my abs totally revolted. It rained and even downpoured for the last 11 miles of the race. Every time it started to let up a little, I was afraid it would stop. It was hot even with the rain. We all agreed afterward that we would have died out there without the relief from the sky.



I knew I should have worn my tri shorts! I did get a little nasty chafing from the shorts. Where did that mammoth quad come from?



Crossing the finish line

I hit the finish line feeling a little defeated, a little disappointed, and REALLY toasty. I saw a couple of finishers with popsicles, and I was immediately on a mission to find one. Kemps had a station and was giving out bomb pops, and I nearly kissed the volunteer who handed me one. Yummy!

Steve and I cheered on the runners coming into the finish line and waited for Borsch to come by. He came in a little overheated, a little slower than he had hoped, and smiling.



Walking back to the car - Borsch was trying to stretch out a cramp!

The three of us hopped back in the car so Steve and I could get showered before his parents treated us to a SUPER tasty all-you-can eat brunch buffet at Dixies on Grand.

Final Thoughts:

* Even though I was a little disappointed with my time, I do realize that achieving a PR in that heat was probably unrealistic. Most people I talked to were 5-10 minutes slower than their goal time. Still, it's a little sad that my time was a minute slower than my time at Liberty, where my 13.1 miles was at the end of a half iron distance race.

* Average finishing time was 2:12:10 - I was better than average!

*Other stats: 1041/2376 overall 424/1324 females

* The race was fairly well run, especially since this was the inaugural event. The course was really pretty - an area of Minneapolis that I've never really seen before. It was mostly flat except for the two huge hills at miles 6 and 7. My only complaint was the lack of sufficient potties at the start. Would I do it again? I think I would. I'd just leave the PR hopes at home given the almost guaranteed heat in MN this time of year.

Liberty Half Iron Distance Triathlon Race Report

by | | 9 comments
In case you haven't guessed from my recent posts, this race was an "A" race for me. Most of my training this spring has been in anticipation of this race. I did this race for the first time last year and had a lot of fun. It's a beautiful course with a relatively clear swim. The bike course is hilly and beautiful, and the run is an out and back on a paved trail.

Friday, Steve and I drove to Lake Nokomis so try out my new wetsuit. I got my new 2xu wetsuit in the mail a little over a week ago, and I was hoping to wear it for the race, but I wanted to make sure that there wouldn't be any issues. Steve and I have done 2 open water swims this spring, and Square Lake has been nice and warm. However, it has been cold here the last week or two, and we've gotten A LOT of rain. This has cooled down the lakes considerably. I did not have a warm swim, and I was in and out in 10 minutes. The new wetsuit is AWESOME!!! The rubber is so much softer than my old one, and I feel more buoyant. I'm not sure if I really am any faster in it, but it's fun to think I am :)

Not long after Steve and I got back home, we heard a knock on our door. One of our new neighbors, a college kid, was coming over to warn us that they were going to have a party. I not so subtly told him that we appreciated the warning and that we would be getting up at 4 AM for a race. We were up the next morning before they went to bed. Thankfully, the noise wasn't anything that a fan and an air conditioner in our bedroom couldn't drown out.

Our alarm clock went off at a time that seemed way too early. We had laid all of our stuff out the night before, so all we had to do was get the car packed, get dressed, eat breakfast, and hop on the freeway. Transition opened at 5:30, and we were there shortly after. We saw tons of friends as we were getting ready. I said hi to all of them, but I was a little nervous and wasn't feeling super conversational.

Transition area - I'm on the right getting my stuff ready

Steve and me before the race

I was really hoping to PR at this race. My previous PR was at Chisago last summer, where I smashed my finishing times from all 6 of my other 70.3s and finished in 6:06:59. Even though that course was short, it started to make me wonder if I would be able to see a 5 at the beginning of my finishing time in the near future.
Walking down to the swim in my new 2xu wetsuit
Smiling and ready to go!
Ready, get set, go!

The Swim: I said goodbye to Steve, kissed him good luck and hopped in the water. All of the rain we'd been having combined with a spell of cool weather had cooled the lake down quite a bit. I tried to draft when I could, but I didn't have much success. It seemed that all of the women swimming in my time frame were choosing to zig-zag it! The morning had seemed pretty calm, but the water got really choppy once we got out there. I knew my swim time wouldn't be stellar. I haven't spent much time in the pool this spring. That fact combined with my usual slow swim times left me happy with the 45:05 (with about 30 seconds of that running up to transition) that I saw as I hit T1.
Out of the water and ready to hit the stairs

T1: My theme for the day was "7 seconds." I beat a girl in my age group by 7 seconds at Gear West. That 7 seconds could have come from any part of my race, but you can't always gain it in a sprint to the finish. Translation: Don't waste time. I was out in 2:24 - about a minute faster than my T1 time from last year.

Hitting my watch just out of T2

The Bike: "Seven seconds," I just kept repeating to myself. "Make the most out of every uphill. Push through the downhills when you can." My goal was to see an average in the high 17s, maybe even close to 18. In order to get anywhere near the 6 hour mark, I would need a good showing on the bike. The plan was to ride steady but comfortable on the first loop and kick it up a little on the second loop. It's definitely a hilly course, and I didn't want to blow up early. The weather forecast had been saying 70s with a 30-50% chance of rain. The thought of me being cold out there really hadn't crossed my mind. When will I learn from IM WI '06????? I was wet, and it was chilly. I don't think it got above 60. I couldn't feel my fingers very well, which made eating and drinking quite the challenge. I should have packed warm clothes just in case, but I was out there in just my bike shorts (with tri shorts underneath), sports bra, and tri top. I wasn't even wearing socks. Nearing the end of the first loop, Steve caught me (he was doing the Oly and had started significantly later than me). We wished each other luck, and I passed transition with a 17.5 mph average - time to kick it up a little. Mark Bongers, the race director, cheered for me as I passed transition. I waved, smiled, and prepared myself for round two. That's when my heart sank a little. I turned into a wind. Drat. It had picked up, a lot. I tried to stay positive. That's when the nagging feeling of having to pee started, and so began the saga that lasted the next 20 miles. It was all could think about, and I really thought that if I just concentrated and relaxed on the downhill, I could pee on the bike. Seven seconds. No time to waste. I was shooting for a 5 at the front of my finish time. I tried and I tried. I wasted so many good downhills and ended up having to power up the hills that much harder because I had lost momentum. Then I realized that it was starting to affect my nutrition. I wasn't eating or drinking as well as I should have been because I had to pee so bad. Around mile 42, I finally gave up and pulled off into some bushes. It took a full 2 minutes, which made my 7 seconds mantra seem minuscule. I felt SO much better and cursed myself for waiting so long. The wind, the having to pee, and the lack of downhill (and thus uphill) speed had dropped my average to 17.3 mph. I stared at that darn 17.3 average for the next 30 minutes. It wouldn't budge. I finally got it up to 17.4, then it started raining. No more flying down those hills. The goal for the last 6 miles became "don't wipe out." I pulled into T2 wet, freezing cold, and feeling defeated. All of that hill training had left me with 3:17:28 bike split (17.02 mph average - 0.2 mph slower than my computer's average because of the potty stop).

T2: I saw Steve cheering and told him that I wasn't having an ideal race. I was definitely feeling sorry for myself, but I still tried to hurry. I slipped off my extra bike shorts, got rid of my helmet and bike shoes, and grabbed a hat, my race belt, and my running shoes (thankfully the rain had not yet drenched my socks). My fingers were frozen, and it took a lot of work to get my shoes on. I was out in 2:12 - just a few seconds faster than the 2:18 I posted last year at this race.

Trying harder than I should be to put my socks on
Running out of T2
Just a few hundred feet into the run
Ready to tackle that first big hill

The Run: I told myself to suck it up and get running. One thing I do well in the cold and the rain is run. I told my brain that it was only allowed to cheer for people and pick people ahead of me to pass. There would be no more feeling sorry for myself. I told my legs that they were in charge of running, and the rest of me wouldn't think about it. This strategy worked really well, actually. I had seen the first place finisher coming down the wood chip hill just as I was starting, so I literally got to cheer on everybody out there (it was an out and back course). It made me feel good to be encouraging and joking around with so many of the racers as I was meeting them and passing them, and for the first time all day, I started to feel good. Around mile 10, my times were slowing up a little and I had to pee...again. In retrospect, I'm sure I was hypothermic. I really didn't drink much all day, but cold diuresis kicks in, and you can actually end up fluid down. I ducked into the bushes for the last time. Then I pushed through the pain for the last 5K to cross the finish line in a run time of 2:05:39 - a new 70.3 run PR by over 6 minutes.

Striding in to the finish
Done with my soggy run!
My hard-earned medal :)

Total Time: 6:12:49 - my second fastest 70. 3(not counting Steelhead 08 which was a du). My time was nearly 40 minutes faster than my Liberty race last year.

Final Stats:

Swim: 45:05
T1: 2:24
Bike: 3:17:28
T2: 2:12
Run: 2:05
Final time: 6:12:45 192/234 overall, 52/80 women, 11/16 AG

Final Thoughts:

* No finish time with a 5 for me this time around, but I am getting closer. I cut nearly 40 minutes off my time from last year. In retrospect, I picked a pretty aggressive course to try to see this happen. I'm hoping that with some more consistent work in the pool, a better (sweet!) new bike and wheels (which will hopefully be in my hands soon), and my new coach, attaining this goal won't be too far off.

* In retrospect, my goal on the bike was probably a bit too aggressive. My bike time at this race last year was 3:22. I was significantly faster this year, even with a duck into the bushes. I know I'll keep getting faster, and I would have loved to see my time had I not needed a potty stop so bad.

* Steve had already packed up our stuff and was ready to go.

All of our wet soggy stuff was loaded up!
The park's campground had WONDERFUL warm showers. We cleaned off, dressed up, and got in the car to drive to Steve's cousin's wedding. Unfortunately, that meant that we didn't get to catch up with our friends at the finish. Everyone did really well though!

* I know what I need to do for Rev3. Bring on the training!

My First Ever Bike TT

by | | 8 comments
Holy whirlwind week! I'm still beat from this weekend's half iron distance race, so I figured I'd get back to posting by writing up a quick blurb about my first bike TT. I did it last Tuesday, and since I'm still formulating thoughts about the half, I thought I'd put this up first.

I had a super crazy day at work on Tuesday. The nurses in some local hospitals were preparing to strike, so many of the hospitals were diverting their patients to us in anticipation of the strike. I ran around all day and checked my email just before I left work. Steve wasn't feeling well, but he though the GI issue he was having might be over. We headed out to the western suburbs knowing that we might be facing a wet time trial. We found Matt in the parking lot, got registered, and spent way too much time lallygagging before heading out to warm up on our bikes.

I should back up and say that it's nearly a miracle that I agreed to sign up for this thing. Gear West's Tuesday Night Time Trial (TNT) is an 11 mile out and back hilly ride where cyclists and triathletes come out to push themselves and drool over each other's gear. I went out to watch Matt and Steve last year and vowed that this thing is not for me and that I myself would not be doing it in the near future. I am admittedly a very slow biker. The top guys out there typically pull somewhere between 27 and 28 mph over the 11 miles. I've never actually averaged over 20 mph on any ride. I was hoping to change that for this ride and resolved that I didn't care if I finished DFL, I was there to push myself. I struggled with the decision of whether or not I should wear my new Evotri jersey that I'd gotten in the mail a couple of days earlier. Quite frankly, I was afraid that I would shame the team by wearing the jersey and knowing that I would very likely finish at the very bottom of the field. I decided to wear it.

Steve and I headed out to warm up. We know the area well since the Gear West Du is out there, and the TNT is part of Liberty's half-iron course. Steve explained some of the hills, some landmarks to be aware of, and a plan of attack. He also mentioned that they usually get started a little late (they start around 7 pm and let a new rider go every 30 seconds). I took that as meaning we had plenty of time and asked Steve to go just a little further before turning around on our 5 mile warm-up. That turned out to be a huge mistake. On our way back, we started seeing numbers that were getting very close to ours and realized that we weren't going to make our designated start times. Steve raced to the start line and got going right away (they calculate your overall time based on what your start time was supposed to be). I took a few seconds to rip off my long-sleeves, reset my computer, and GO!

I paid attention to what Steve had told me and tried not to blow up on the first hill. I took it fast but not out of control. I've never really tried to push myself this hard on the bike before and didn't know what to expect. I quickly realize that one granola bar before the race would have been fine. Two was too much, and my stomach revolted. A couple of miles in, I was shifting to get up a hill and dropped my chain. I don't know why. It wasn't stretched. I think I was just putting a little too much pressure on the pedals when I shifted. My bike is a little finicky like that. So, to summarize, after just a few miles, I had made the following mistakes: eating too much before the race, missing my start, and dropping my chain. Great. You'd think I'd never been on a bike before. I got passed by so many people but just kept riding as fast as I could. I saw Steve just before the halfway point. I shouted, "I love you!" which was my way of apologizing for making us late for the start. I felt terrible through the whole race knowing I had made such a silly mistake. At the turn around, I had just over a 20 mph average, but we turned into a wind on the way back. I kept pushing, but my average dropped to 19.6 by the time I hit the finish line.



Biking down the final hill to the finish line. I've got my hand ready to stop my watch.




Hitting the finishers' chute.



I was breathing hard when I finished. After I caught my breath, Matt and I stopped for a photo.




The aftermath on my leg. I'm not even sure how I got this - maybe when i dropped my chain?

Steve, Matt, and I traded war stories about our rides and went back out for another 10 miles or so to spin out our legs. I was pooped at that point and was hoping that my bad day on the course wasn't a sign of what was to come at Liberty. We discussed going to DQ vs Taco Bell, but Steve and I made a Subway stop on the way home instead.


We snapped this photo before hopping in our cars and heading home.
Final Thoughts:
* I didn't finish last! Somebody finished after me, even though my time was off. Using my actual time and not the late start time, I would have finished ahead of two whole people out there :)
* I still can't believe I made so many mistakes out there. Guess it just sets me up for a much better race next time.
* I know it sounds cliche, but I really am proud of myself for showing up to race in the first place. There are some pretty intimidating people out there.
* I cannot wait to get my new bike and wheels. I'm crossing my fingers that I'll get a chance to try them out on this course this summer. It will be interesting to see what a change in equipment does for my time. I'll still be at the bottom, but I know they will make some difference.
* No 20 mph for me this time. I'll keep it on the list of goals.
Stay tuned to see how my race at Liberty went...

Gear West Duathlon Race Report

by | | 6 comments
So I finally got a few minutes to sit down and write up my experiences at the Gear West Duathlon a couple of weeks ago. The race was actually on May 23, but then it was full speed ahead for my sister's wedding on the 29th.

I went in to the weekend really excited to finally be able to do the race myself but also realizing that this was not an "A" race. It was a "train straight through to the race" kind of week so that I would be better prepared for this coming weekend's Liberty half iron distance tri. Knowing this, I ran an easy 10 miler with my friend Maddy the day before the du. I was hoping that it wouldn't ruin my race, but I knew it would help my endurance for my half.

I have watched Steve and my brother Matt tag-team this race for the last couple of years, and the timing finally worked out so that I could do it too. From Steve's and Matt's past descriptions, I knew what I was up against - a hilly cross-country 5 K run followed by a hilly 28 K bike and another cross-country 4 K run. The course is known for being pretty brutal, and the competition there is fierce. It's not necessarily a race for beginners. Nevertheless, my good friend Jess had picked this race as her first. I had warned her in advance what to expect, and she showed up trained and ready to go.


Steve, Matt, and I arrived soon after transition opened up. We wanted to get some good spots, and we wanted to be have time to chat with all of the people we knew who would be racing. Jess showed up around the same time, and she and I set our stuff up next to each other. We went over how to lay your stuff out and how to pick a good spot in transition. Then we picked out landmarks that would help us find our stuff on the first run in and on the bike in (coming from 2 separate corners of transition).


We were in wave 4, so we got to watch the elite men, the elite women, the teams, and a few others start before us. Before we knew it, we were off!

The 1st Run:

I tried to settle into a good, hard pace. The first 1K was on asphalt, but the rest of the winding, hilly course was a mixture of grass, dirt, gravel, a little more asphalt, and wood chips. I remember thinking 2/3 into the first run that it really wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I guess part of me was picturing the terrain from my 50K last fall - rocks, ruts, roots, and gravel. This run was much more normal. Don't get me wrong - it was still tough, and that bear of a hill at the end seems to go up forever! There were no mile markers on this course, so I was just going on feel. I came into T1 with a 26:49 5K (an 8:56 average) - right around where I should have been for that run.


T1:

In T1, I took off my socks, slid into my bike shoes, and I was out in 1:11. I know that messing around with my socks is not an efficient use of my time, but during a tri, I won't have to be taking them off and putting them on. I prefer to bike without them, and my feet turn to hamburger if I run without them, so off and on it is. I used the talc in my bike shoes this time around, and it worked SO much better.


The Bike:

I am not a strong biker. I never have been, but I knew that a 17 or so mile bike was going to be my shortest race distance for the rest of the year. I really wanted to break 18 MPH in race at Cannon a few weeks ago, but that nasty wind threw my plans out the window. So... goal of 18 for this bike it was. The bike course is hilly, but they are usable hills, and I've gotten a lot better at downhills in the last few years. I got passed by quite a few guys from the wave behind me, but there were only a couple of women who passed me on the bike. Overall, I probably did just as much passing as getting passed. I realized a few miles into the ride that my computer hadn't cleared properly when I reset it that morning, so my average and distance were both off. I reset it and just kept pushing. My run is in decent shape right now, and I was trying not to hold out out on the bike. I drank some NUUN/Carbo pro mixture and took in the scenery. The course is just beautiful out there, and Liberty shares parts of it, so I was taking notes. It wasn't long before we were heading back into town. I finished the hilly bike in a time of 54:49 (18.6 mph average). I met my goal!

T2:

I donned a new pair of socks, slipped on my running shoes, and booked it out of transition in 1:15. I felt great. Twenty feet or so after exiting transition, I heard, "Go Sarah!!" Steve had nearly missed me :) I guess it's a sign of a good race if your support group isn't really even looking for you to come in yet.


The 2nd Run:

There was a woman in a coral colored top that had passed me near the end of the bike. She was 50-100 feet in front of me coming out of T2, and I was gunning for her. I know I've mentioned this before, but my tempo runs with my brother have really taught me to run through a lot of pain. I was pushing hard. The second run is shorter than the first, but the part that they cut off is the flat asphalt part, so proportionally, it's harder. Slowly, I continued to gain on the woman in the coral top. I didn't know whether she was in my age group, but I knew I wanted to catch her. I was breathing really hard but feeling strong. All those feelings I'd had after the first run about it not being as bad as I'd expected disappeared. I was pushing, and it felt so much harder. The no mile markers threw me off a little, and every time I thought we were nearing the end, they'd send us back into the woods for more. I finally caught the woman in coral about a mile into the race. "You've been my rabbit through this whole run!" I told her. Then I whispered to her that we could both catch the woman in front of us, which we soon did. I had now passed both women and was determined not to let them catch me again. I fought my way up that final hill and kicked as hard as I could without looking back.


I held them both off for a time of 24:22 (9:12 avg for 4K). My final finishing time was 1:48:24. They took my chip. I looked behind me to see the woman in coral finishing. I thanked her for the push. We hugged and finally introduced ourselves. Her name is Julie.


I passed out on the ground catching my breath while talking to Steve and Matt like this for the next 5 minutes. I was spent!

After catching my breath, I chatted with Jumper and several other locals before walking to the top of the hill and waiting for Jess. It was only a minute later that I saw her emerging from the bushes, and I got a little emotional. She was about to finish her first multisport race! Jess powered up the hill and ran it in to the finish.

We hung out at the finish line enjoying some tasty food before packing up our stuff, watching the results and the drawing, and driving home for a well-deserved nap!

Final Stats:

Run 1: 26:49 248/380 overall, 61/134 women, 9/18 AG
T1: 1:11
Bike: 54:49 233/380 overall, 60/134 women, 7/18 AG
T2: 1:15
Run 2: 24:22 190/380 overall, 47/134 women, 8/18 AG
Final time: 1:48:29 218/380 overall, 51/134 women, 7/18 AG

Final Thoughts:

* I think all of the hill work I've been doing on the bike this spring is paying off. I felt good out there, and this was the first time I've ever done anything over 18 mph in a race.

* The woman in the coral top was in the age group above me. I was a little bummed to find this out at first. In overall time, she beat me by nearly 6 minutes. However, this means that she is significantly faster than me, and I still outkicked her on the second run. This realization made me happy :) I wasn't very excited about my time on the second run at first. Then I started looking at the numbers and realized that I did really well compared to much of the other field.

* The girl in the black top that I passed on the second run was in my AG. I beat her by 7 seconds. I'm realizing more and more that transition times really do matter. I couldn't have run any faster.

* I ran 10 miles the day before this race and didn't notice it at all in my legs. I'm hoping this is an indication of my overall fitness for my upcoming race.

* I ran this race in my trail shoes. I felt a little self-conscious at first. It seemed that everybody else was wearing racing flats or regular running shoes, but I was SO glad to have them for this race. The terrain was nasty at times. After the finish, a woman commented that she wished she would have had a pair out there!

* I am SO excited for Liberty in 5 days - first half of the year, 8th ever. Wish me luck!

A Couple of Long Bricks

by | | 5 comments
I just got back from a 5 day marathon of wedding festivities for my sister and Borsch. It was so much work but so much fun. I am super behind on posts. Hopefully my Gear West Du race report will be up in the next day or 2. It went really well.

Last week's long brick by the numbers:

Temperature: nearly 90 degrees
Humidity: 30%
Number of miles ridden: 72
Number of miles run afterward: 4.5
Number of water bottles consumed on the bike: 7
Number of water stops on the run: 1
Number of NUUN tablets: 4
Amount of Chocolate milk consumed before hitting my door: 2 cups
Number of pounds lost despite all of those liquids: 1.5
Number of times I almost got killed on the bike: one - I was headed down hill and had a green light. The guy in the opposite direction decided to make a left turn. I screamed, slammed on my breaks, and popped out of my pedals, and managed to miss being hit by just a couple of feet.
Average on the bike: 15.2 mph- I need to get this up if I'm going to succeed at Liberty. I know the 6 detours (3 out, 3 back) on my bike trail didn't help the average, but I need to see better...
Average min/mile on the run: 9:10. I'm hoping for at least sub 10s for Liberty.
Length of nap that ensued afterward: 1 hour
Number of sunscreen applications: 3 - had to keep the tan lines in check for Steph's wedding!

Today's Brick:

I met Steve's swimming buddies at Square Lake for our second OWS of the year. The water is warming up quickly - it was 74 degrees today, WAY ahead of where it was last year. Steve drove us out there, and we brought my bike along so that I could get in some hills. After my 56 minute swim, I changed my clothes, slathered on a lot of sunscreen, and waved goodbye to the gang. The plan was to ride out in the the Stillwater area before taking the Gateway 25 miles to get home. At mile 5, I hit a small bump in the trail, and I heard a huge noise. I stopped and saw that my rear water bottle cage had fallen off. Closer inspection revealed the the screws holding it together had snapped off. I had 65 miles left to go and knew I couldn't just leave the bottle cage, the water bottle, and my emergency pack out on the trail. After some creative shuffling, I managed to jury-rig my pack and cages onto my aero bars and shuffle all of my food, keys, phone, etc onto one side of my top to make room for the extra water bottle on the other side. It was a little annoying, but it did the trick.





My legs felt a little heavy from the 5 hour dance marathon on Saturday at Steph and Jon's wedding, but I was happy to be out there with such beautiful weather. The Liberty course is pretty hilly, and I was trying to find lots of them today. At mile 35, I was on my way down a HUGE hill when I hit a small crack in the road and heard a loud noise. I knew it was my tire. Turns out it was my back tire. Boo. I blew a hole right in the side of the tube. It must have been a combination of the speed and the bump because there was no visible damage to the tire, just the tube seam... It wasn't until I got the new tube in that I realized that my old bike pump is no longer functional. I had to wait around for 5-10 minutes until someone with a pump rode by. The lady seemed a little annoyed that I didn't have a pump (I tried to explain that mine just wasn't working), but her husband was super helpful and had it inflated in no time. Thankfully, the next 20 miles were pretty uneventful. At first, I was bummed about all of my mechanical snafus, but then I realized that it could have been so much worse. I can fix the cage before Liberty. I'm so thankful that it didn't wait till the race to snap off. Also, when I flatted, I did it in a well-traveled bike area. I very easily could have done it 25 minutes earlier when I was on a low bike traffic road. I may not have finished my ride if that had happened. It was a gorgeous day, and I even made a friend on the way home! I passed a guy with about 13 miles left, and when he kept up with me, we started talking. It turned out that he only lives a mile from Steve and me, and we pushed each other all the way home. I'd like to get in a few hard workouts yet this week, then it's taper time! Goals for liberty to come. They're a little lofty...