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Race Recap: Brainerd Homecoming 10K

7 Oct

Last Saturday, I ran the Brainerd Homecoming 10K. I would’ve loved to run a half marathon this fall but I just wouldn’t have been properly trained in time. So a 10K it was.

My training for this race consisted of running 2-3 times a week. I ran my long runs on Saturdays, which were 4, 4.5 and 5 miles the month before the race. I had planned to run 5.5 miles a week before the race, but life happened and the run didn’t. I ran with two of my running buddies almost every Thursday morning at 6 am (in the dark!) and we did around 3 miles each time. With walking breaks, we averaged about 11:30 minute miles. I also ran with Annabelle in the stroller a few times, though I prefer waking up early to go alone.

So I felt like I was decently prepared going into this race. My 10K PR was set all the way back in 2008 when I was a young whipper-snapper. I ran the 10K as part of a marathon relay and finished in 62:36. I didn’t think I could even get close to that, so my goal going in to the race was mainly to have fun! Running 11 minute miles would be realistic. Running 10:30 miles would be great.

It was a small race so we were able to park just across the street from packet pickup and the race start. We got there around 7:45 and the race started at 8:15. At 37 degrees, it was a little chilly for spectators but nice for running. I registered on race day because I was still waffling about doing the race that morning. After I got my bib and used the indoor restroom, I ate a Gu and talked to a friend who was doing the 5k and then went to line up. There were maybe 30 people doing the 10K. I got my Garmin and iPod ready, they counted down (it was timed using gun time), and we were off!

About 50 steps in, my iPod died. Seriously?!?! I had checked it the night before and it showed 75% battery. I should’ve known to not trust it. Well, then, enjoying nature it was. I chatted with a lady for the first .5 mile or so, but then she stopped to take a walking break and I continued on. I fell into a pace that felt relaxed but slightly challenging, if that makes any sense. I could tell I was pushing myself a little, but it felt doable.

The first mile was on a bike trail. Then we were on a dirt trail for about .5 mile until we met back up with the bike trail. We made a loop so that a little before Mile 2, we ran past the park we had started at, which worked well for me because I got to see my cheering squad and hand off my useless iPod.

Mile 1: 10:38

There was an aid station right at Mile 2 and then a long, gradual hill. A doozy! I walked through the aid station to get a drink and ran a conservative pace up the hill.

Mile 2: 10:32

From that point on, we were either on city sidewalks or paved bike trails. We ran through downtown past the high school, library, city hall, and then we were in a more residential neighborhood. We made another big loop so that we hit the same aid station again right before Mile 5 — and the same long, gradual hill. We followed the same route as the first time for about .75 mile and took a left to end up on the football field.

Mile 3: 10:24

race course

In my training runs, I had hit my stride around mile 3.5. This race, I hit it more around mile 5. Even though I felt mostly strong the whole race, if I hadn’t been encouraged by seeing my average pace decrease each mile, my motivation to keep pushing myself probably would’ve started waning around mile 4.

Mile 4: 10:06

Right before we reached the aid station the second time, I ate a Gu so that I could get a cup of water to wash it down. I gulped the water and started running again. The hill definitely felt more difficult the second time through! But I kept pushing it and was actually gaining on the runner in front of me. The last mile, I passed 3 women who I had been keeping pace with for the whole race. I felt great!

Mile 5: 10:18

As my watch beeped for Mile 6, I looked at my mile pace: 9:33! I was completely stoked. I cruised the last .2 miles and crossed the finish line at 63:02 – only 26 seconds off of my PR from 7.5 years (and 2 babies) ago.

Mile 6: 9:33

Last .2: 1:31 (8:28 pace)

Final Time: 1:03:02

Running a good race is such an awesome high!

Because it was such a small race, I wanted to check my results before leaving just in case I qualified for an age group award. And I did! I got 3rd in my age group (out of 3 – ha!). I was 13/18 in females and 21/27 overall. But hey, a medal is a medal. 🙂
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I really enjoyed this race. It was a nice course, well organized, affordable, they had lots of volunteers, the t-shirts were cute, and the finish line food was a nice variety (bananas, granola bars, fruit snacks, cookies and water). I would do it again!

Race Recap: Northwoods Triathlon

12 Aug

On Friday before the race, we packed and headed up to Nevis in time for packet pickup and the spaghetti dinner benefiting the Nevis football team. My parents met us there. Packet pickup wasn’t busy at all so it only took me about 5 minutes to get my bib, t-shirt and swim cap (no bike numbers at this little race!). This race is capped at 250 participants, so it’s a nice size – and it sells out FAST every year!

After dinner, we headed back to Travis’ parents’ house. Ironically, his parents were down at my parents’ house in Rochester because Al had had heart surgery that day at the Mayo Clinic. (He’s doing decently well, if you’re wondering.) I put Annabelle to bed and we watched Jim Gaffigan’s Mr. Universe standup on Netflix while Emma bounced off the walls. She was hard to get to sleep that night, and Annabelle woke up a few times because she was too hot and had to burp. Every time I got up to tend to Annabelle, Emma got wound back up. Finally, Emma crashed around 11:15 and we moved Annabelle downstairs to where it was cooler.

I slept decently well for a pre-race night. I woke up to thunderstorms sometime in the very early a.m. and was more worried that the thunder would wake Emma or Annabelle up than I was about doing a race the next morning.

PRE-RACE

Finally, it was 5 a.m. and time to get up. I nursed Annabelle a bit longer than I had planned – until 5:45 – and put her back down. I quickly showered and changed into my tri shorts. I decided to wait until right before the race to put my tri top and sports bras on, because I planned to nurse Annabelle again around 7. Nursing definitely presents a unique challenge for race day!

I ate a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, made a cup of coffee, and Travis, Annabelle and I took off for the transition area around 6:30. My parents planned to wake Emma up around 7.

We easily found a parking spot and walked the 2 blocks to transition. I set my bike up near my friend Emily’s and we chatted for a bit while I set my stuff up. I went to get body marked (they just did bib number on both right arm and right leg – no age group), which only took about 3 minutes.

By then, it was about 7 so we made our way back to the car so I could nurse Annabelle before the pre-race meeting at 7:45. She must’ve been completely full though, because she wanted nothing to do with nursing. So I just put on my Body Glide, sports bras, and tri top and we headed back to transition around 7:30.

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After the pre-race meeting, I made my way down to the beach and got used to the water. I swam around a bit and then the first wave was off. I was in the fourth wave – women 34 and under. The waves were 3 minutes apart. The leaders from the first wave started coming out of the water. Finally, the purple caps were up!

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SWIM

I was a little nervous as the director counted down our group, but once he said “Go!” and we all started swimming, I willed myself to settle down and “race my own race.” I kept my sight on the buoys, which actually didn’t seem that far away since the swim was only 400 meters, and focused on breathing deeply and evenly. There were a handful of purple caps swimming around me – several of us were doing the breaststroke. The only somewhat eventful things that happened during the swim were that I swallowed a mouthful of water once (but didn’t panic!) and I told an older gentleman who was doing the backstroke that he was going off course.

Finally the swim was over! I stood up when the water was below my waist, and walked up the beach and giant hill to transition.

OFFICIAL SWIM TIME: 10:53

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T1

There was a kiddie pool to use for rinsing your feet off, but I had brought my own wash basin to use. I rinsed my feet off and tried to towel my legs and feet off, but I was dripping water so it didn’t really help. The second sports bra I wore isn’t one that I’ve worn during a race before – I usually only wear one for triathlons, to minimize the amount of fabric getting wet. But since I’m nursing, I knew I would be a lot more comfortable on the run if I wore two. And I was, but that bra definitely held a decent amount of water! I had to wring it out on the bike, and my shoes and socks were soaked by the time I started the run. I was worried about blisters, but it didn’t seem to matter.

Anyway, after toweling off a bit unsuccessfully, I put on my socks, shoes, sunglasses (in case of bugs, not sun), and helmet, grabbed my bike, and away I went.

OFFICIAL T1 TIME: 2:43

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BIKE

The bike course was a loop, starting out going west from Nevis, then north, east and back south. The first half was rolling hills. I played leap frog with a few people. Whenever I passed someone going up a hill, I thought, “Either I’m in better bike shape than I thought I was, or I’m being an idiot and these people are being conservative and saving themselves for the run.”

By about mile 7, I was thinking that maybe the right answer was the latter. My legs were starting to feel tired. Lucky for me, the last 5 or so miles were mostly flat. Other than my butt hurting for the last 4-5 miles, feeling like I had to pee, and the wind picking up a bit, the bike was very enjoyable. The sky was overcast, the scenery was pretty (farmland, trees, lakes and rolling hills), and the volunteers were helpful.

We climbed one last hill coming into Nevis and then it was back in to transition!

OFFICIAL TIME: 52:24 (16.3 MPH)

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T2

I had toyed with the idea of parking my bike near the portapotties and making a quick pit stop, but by the time I got to transition, the urge had passed. So I re-racked my bike in the correct spot, took off my helmet and sunglasses, grabbed a Gu and headed out on the run.

OFFICIAL T2 TIME: 1:08

RUN

After being on the bike, it always feels like I’m running at a snail’s pace, even though I’m usually not. So my strategy for the run was to just find a comfortable pace and keep running. Maybe I was running slow, maybe I wasn’t. I wasn’t going to worry about speed.

A little after Mile 1, I started feeling a little sick to my stomach so I started eating the Espresso-flavored Gu I had grabbed. I ate about 2/3 of it by the time I reached the water stop at the turnaround. I grabbed a cup of water and walked until I drank it all. I discarded the cup and my Gu, and started running again. The sick feeling had gone away and I was feeling good.

By Mile 2, I started getting goosebumps from the pure joy and excitement of being out there and having the race go so well. I guess you can call that the triathlete’s high! The finish line was in sight, but I felt like I could’ve kept running.

I picked up speed for the last .1 mile where all the spectators were standing, and finished strong.

OFFICIAL RUN TIME: 31:58 (10:19/mile)

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OFFICIAL RACE TIME: 1:39:05

Considering my A Goal was 1:41, I have to say, Booyah!

It’s an awesome experience to have the stars align for a race. You go out and crush your goal, AND have fun doing it. Doesn’t get much better than that.

I saw my dad, mom, Travis and Emma as I was coming in to the finish line, so after I returned my chip and grabbed some food and Gatorade, I went and found them. We chatted for a while and then our friends Brenda and Jake arrived via bike with their 2 kiddos. They had tried to time it to see me finish but I was too speedy! Haha. It was fun seeing them anyway.

We tried to grab lunch in Nevis, but only 1 of the town’s 4 restaurants were open, and it was packed. So we decided to meet at Zorbaz in an hour, giving Brenda and Jake time to bike back to their car, and me time to go back to the house for a shower and nursing session.

My parents headed back to their cabin instead of coming out to lunch, so it was just us 4 adults and the 4 kiddos. Travis and I had been wanting to go out to eat with Brenda and Jake sometime, so it was fun to get to do it. Brenda is one of my awesome running buddies!

After lunch, we grabbed our stuff and the dogs from Travis’ parents’ house and headed back to Brainerd. I nursed Annabelle and unpacked only to repack for a somewhat impromptu trip to Rochester by way of St. Cloud. We stopped by Fleet Farm for Travis to buy some fishing tackle and then were on our way down to St. Cloud by about 5 pm.

We met up with our friends Eric and Holly at a park in Sauk Rapids. Eric and Travis went fishing in the river while Holly, her 2 girls, my 2 girls, and I played at the park. After an hour, we ladies ate dinner at Noodles and headed over to Holly’s house, where we put the babies down for the night and the older girls played way past their bedtimes. The guys didn’t get back from fishing until 10! Unfortunately, they didn’t catch a single fish. We finally got on the road to Rochester – a 3.5 hour drive – at 10:30. Oy. It would be a late night after a very long day.

The drive was kind of dicey (due to us being so tired) but we made it to Rochester a little after 1 a.m. Thankfully, Emma went right back to sleep after we brought her in, and Annabelle nursed and went right down too. I crawled into bed around 1:45.

The next morning, Annabelle woke up to nurse at 7 and Emma woke up at 8. We had coffee and breakfast and then headed over to the hospital to see Travis’ dad. The girls and I stayed until around 1:30 and then headed back to my parents’ house for naps. After tag-teaming the girls, I finally got a short nap in myself. Glorious. Emma woke up from her nap around 6, I nursed Annabelle, we ate dinner, headed back to the hospital for an hour and then called it a night.

Monday, Travis had to work in the morning so my mom and I took Emma to a park in town while Annabelle took a 2.5-hour nap at home (Travis manned the baby monitor). It was fun – and so much easier to be at the park sans baby! We ate lunch back at the house and then went to visit Al for a bit. After packing up our stuff and the dogs at the house, we ate dinner at Panera with my parents and headed back up to Brainerd, getting back to our house around 10.

Whew! We have been here, there and everywhere for the past month and a half. Poor Annabelle, you can tell she’s ready to not be in her carseat so much. I’m hoping to be a homebody for a while now. Well, maybe.

Training Update: Northwoods Triathlon

6 Aug
tri

From back in the day (2009)

Well, it’s finally here. The sprint triathlon I registered for back in January is this coming Saturday – only 2 days away! I posted about my training plan a while back… and haven’t mentioned anything about it since. So here’s the down-to-the-wire update:

Long story short: I didn’t train as much as I had planned or wanted to, but I feel ready enough to give it a go.

Short story long:

Swimming

I failed miserably at going to the pool to swim (I went 4 times all year). I just couldn’t often find the 1.5 hours it took to drive to the pool, swim, change and drive back. BUT being as I live in northern Minnesota and am literally surrounded by lakes, I did swim in open water 4 times. They weren’t long swims (probably 400-800 meters each) but they served their purpose: strengthening my mental poise. The swim in this triathlon is only 400 meters, so the biggest hurdle for me will be mental. My natural instinct in open water is PANIC because I can’t touch the bottom, or worse – the seaweed might touch me. One of the open water swims I did was in the lake I’ll be swimming in for the race, so that helped even more.

Biking

After discovering that the beach we usually go to is only 6 miles away and that there’s a back way with less traffic, I biked to and from the beach a couple of times, for a total of 12 miles each. Those were my longest rides. Similar to my excuses for not swimming more often, I found it hard to carve out more than an hour for a workout. Also, biking and swimming both require additional things to make them happen – a bike and water respectively. July was a crazy month for us – we were out of town or had out of town guests for all but a week. So I’m not as strong on the bike as I would like to be, but it is what it is. At least I have been biking a fair amount of hills so I’ll be ready for those!

Running

Ah, running. My favorite because it’s just so convenient. You can pack everything you need in a duffel bag and use it practically anywhere. I was definitely the most consistent with running out of the three. I went on a handful of runs with Annabelle on Emma’s daycare days, went on at least a handful of runs with friends (at the crack of dawn no less), and ran by myself a few times. I mostly ran 2-3 miles at a time, but I did run 4 once. Also, after my longer bike rides, I ran up and down our driveway just to get used to the feeling of running on bike legs. (I liken it to the feeling of trying to jump on the ground after you get off a trampoline – you feel like you can’t even jump a centimeter.)

With training behind me, it’s on to race day preparation and goals. I feel about this race like I felt about having a second child – I feel confident because I’ve done it before, but that feeling of confidence can lead me to forgetting the basics, like needing to buy diapers or bring my bike to the race. I’m mostly worried about forgetting the small things – like my race belt (that old chestnut) or tape to use for attaching shotbloks to my bike.

So the other night while I was waiting for Emma to fall asleep, I mentally rehearsed the race and my transitions. Back when I first started doing triathlons pre-kids, I actually practiced my transitions. Now, I’ll have to settle for my imagination. It definitely helps anyway though! I remembered that I want to bring 2 big towels – for putting my stuff on in the transition area and to wrap up in until my wave starts – and 1 little – for drying off my legs after the swim (I hate having water drip down into my socks). Oh and a wash basin to rinse my feet. Races usually provide those, but your feet still get stuff on them between the tub and your bike.

I also realized that oh yeah, there will probably be packet pickup the day before the race (they do have it race morning too though). Oh and I’ll have to get body marked. What if my sunscreen causes the body markings to smudge like that one time? Are they going to have swim waves because the website doesn’t say anything about that. But I can’t imagine them having 250 swimmers start all at once. Though that is how Ironman does it, right?

You see that I have some race day jitters. Never mind that I’ve done 5 sprints and 1 Oly, or that I worked for a triathlon company for a year and have worked over 20 triathlons. Race day is both exciting and nerve-racking… and that’s what I love about it!

So my goals. I swore up and down that I just wanted to finish and who cares about my time. But I can’t help it. Nevertheless, I am leaving my watch and bike odometer at home so that I can’t worry about speed or time while out on the course. Out there, I am just going to focus on keeping an even pace, enjoying myself and cheering others on.

But after the race, I can dissect my times. 🙂 This race is a 400m swim, 14 mile bike and 5k run. I’m hoping to do the swim in 12-15 minutes, the bike in 50-60 minutes, and the run in 35-40 minutes. Add in 3 minutes for T1 (there’s a GIANT hill between the beach and transition area) and 1:30 for T2 and that puts me at 1:41:30 and 1:59:30. I realize that’s a big range but I really have no idea how the race is going to go. Even my previous times (from back in 2009 or 2010!) don’t really help because I was in WAY better shape back then. So we’ll just have to wait and see!

I do know, though, that for me, being obsessed with my speed or time for an entire race takes all the fun out of it. So similar to when I ran my full marathon and did my Oly tri, my main goal is HAVE FUN and remember why I love endurance sports in the first place.

Wish me luck! I’ll be back in a few days with a race recap!

Northwoods Triathlon Training Plan

3 Jun

northwoods tri training plan

{click the image to enlarge}

We’re really doing it Harry!

Signing up for a sprint triathlon happening only 4 months after giving birth seemed a little ludicrous back in January but now that I’m 2 months postpartum and have several runs, bikes and swims each under my belt, I’m feeling more and more confident that I can do this. It may not be fast or pretty, but I can do this.

I haven’t done a triathlon since 2011. Until 4 weeks postpartum, I hadn’t run since November of last year. I hadn’t really even exercised much in the last 2-3 months of being pregnant. So I’m taking this very slowly. I’m also being realistic about how much time I can commit to training, and keeping my workouts to 4/week. Here’s my plan:

Swimming

When I donned my maternity suit and swam laps at the Y in February, that was the first time I had gone swimming since 2011. Surprisingly, it all came back to me pretty quickly. I did realize how out of swimming shape my arms were when doing the front crawl, and I’m definitely slower than I was back then, but by my third swim a few weeks ago, I could swim 400 yards without stopping (doing the breaststroke, which is what I plan on doing for the triathlon).

To train for the 400 meter swim, I plan to swim once a week at the Y. I will keep things pretty lowkey but do a mixture of long, slower swimming with some sprints for building speed. I’ll probably work up to swimming 800 yards without stopping, doing 1,000 – 1,500 yards total per workout.

Biking

Similar to swimming, I hadn’t biked since 2011 until a few weeks ago. (I got on the bike trainer a few times while pregnant but only last about 5 minutes each time.) I was worried that it would be horribly uncomfortable but it has actually been way more bearable than I thought it would be. My first ride wasn’t even 5 miles long but again, the idea is to take things slow and be realistic. I’ve gone on 4 bike rides so far and I’m up to 8 miles now.

The bike course in the triathlon is 14 miles long so I plan to build up to that and ride that distance a few times before race day. Every other week after my bike ride, I’m going to add a short run (.5 – 1 mile) for a brick workout. I’d go longer if it weren’t for the time commitment. I am still nursing after all!

Running 

My first run postpartum, I ran about 12:30 minute miles, walked a bunch and covered a little over a mile. Five weeks and about ten runs later, I’m up to 2.5 miles and 11 minute miles.

My training plan for the 5K run is to slowly increase mileage (by .5 mile about every other time or so), work up to 3.5 or 4 miles, and alternate weeks between focusing on speed and distance. If I start feeling good about running and have the time, I might increase the distance a little more so that I’d have the option of running a 10K this summer. But we’ll see.

Yoga / Weights

When I trained for the Hot Chocolate 15K last spring, I dealt with a lot of joint pain, which I attributed to losing muscle during pregnancy and never regaining it. So I want to be intentional this time around about doing some strength training, specifically in my legs. I think that swimming and biking will also help alleviate the joint pain from running, but I also enjoy yoga and weights. It’s a good way to mix things up — and it’s easy to do during nap time!

Timing

As you can see from my training plan above, I plan to do my most time-consuming workouts on the weekends when Travis can easily watch the girls. Though I am discovering quickly that my workouts often get bumped when we go out of town or do something else during nap time, like landscaping, so I might have to squeeze some of those in on weekday evenings. Emma goes to daycare on Tuesdays, so I plan to run those days (unless I run on the weekend with a friend). And the yoga or weights I can squeeze in during nap time on Thursdays. Mornings are normally my preferred time to work out, but with a newborn, that just isn’t happening. I can barely open my eyes most mornings, let alone work out!

………………..

I have absolutely LOVED working out again. It helps me feel like my old self, not only physically (I can fit in my pre-pregnancy clothes again!) but mentally (because it gives me a personal goal to work toward and doesn’t involve parenting). Plus, it’s just nice to get outside and have some “me” time where I can think and decompress. Perhaps my favorite thing though is just feeling active again. My workouts are only 30-45 minutes long, but the feeling of being active lasts all day.

IT’S GO TIME!

So this happened.

4 Jan

race reg

I signed up for my first sprint triathlon since 2011! I have been toying with the idea of getting back into multisport for a while, and what better way than to do the race hosted in Nevis, MN, my husband’s hometown? It’s on August 8, which is exactly 4 months after my due date. I will definitely not be the fastest I’ve ever been but I’m sure I will be able to finish! Even though running is out for the remainder of my pregnancy, I plan to join the local Y and start swimming and biking again. I haven’t consistently swam and biked since 2011, so I’m sure it’ll be a learning curve once again. I’m going to try to set up my tri bike on my trainer too in our basement, but I think that the belly will be too much in the way to ride it. We’ll see.

Regardless, I’m excited!!

I’ll be back in the next couple days with our Christmas and New Year’s recaps, plus a look back at 2014. Hope your holidays were great!