Tag Archives: biking

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!

Training Recap: 3/12 – 3/18

19 Mar

Goodness, life is busy right now. All good stuff, but definitely making me look forward to visiting my brother, sister-in-law and nephew next week (and having 3 days off from work)!

I had a pretty good week of training, except that strength training got put on the backburner. I think I’m going to move my strength workouts to Sundays and Thursdays. I just never seem to make Monday happen.

Monday: 3.04 mile easy run (36:15, 11:55/mile)

Legs were exhausted and stiff. Even these 3 slow miles were a challenge.

Tuesday: 4 x 800 w/.5 mile warmup and .5 cool down (37:15 total)

Legs felt stiff and tired for the first .5 mile, then they felt better but still not 100%. First mile time was 9:52 including first 800. I did these 800s as fast as I could go – times were roughly 4:45, 4:44, 4:58, 4:24. After every 800, we walked for 2 minutes.

Got smart and wore my compression tights post-run.

Wednesday: Rest, wore compression tights to bed

Thursday: 3.97 mile tempo run (42:53, 10:48/mile)

Legs felt TONS better – still felt a little slow but overall, great run. Didn’t really push it though – acid reflux showed up.

Friday: Rest

I was tempted to do some yoga or strength training, but really want to start guarding Friday as a rest day for the sake of my long run.

Saturday: 9.09 mile hilly long run (1:42:49, 11:17/mile)

Sunday: 30 minute dog walk, 20 min bike, 20 min strength

It was really windy here yesterday, so not only was I not able to bike outside, my gym lost power so I couldn’t work out there either! So I set my bike back up on the trainer and then did the killer workout below from one of my old Self magazines. Seriously, I can barely lift my arms above my head and my back is ridiculously sore.

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Total Running Miles = 19.14

What’s the last workout you did that made you ridiculously sore?

Race Recap: Crescent Moon Sprint Tri

18 Sep

Well, I ended up doing the triathlon. Travis convinced me that it would be more fun if I did it with him than if I just watched. And I went on a short run Friday after work and felt almost normal, although a little bit more tired. So I went for it.

We got up around 5 and left the house by 5:30. We arrived at the race site a little after 6 and rode our bikes from the parking area down to the transition area, where packet pickup was. After we racked our bikes and put our stuff down, we picked up our packets and got body-marked.

The morning started off very pretty.

But by the time the swim started, it clouded over. It was upper 50s and cloudy/rainy all day.

Travis and I had plenty of time before the race to get our stuff set up, go to the bathroom several times, survey the swim course, note all of the transition exits (there was a different chute for each entrance/exit!), and run a decent warmup (me feeling very tired and sluggish!). I loved the feeling of not being rushed. I also had purposefully drank hardly anything that morning so that I would not have a repeat of Steamboat (in having to pee a lot). I had hydrated well the week before the race and figured the distance was short enough that I’d be fine.

Right after we got back from our last bathroom break, we took off our sweatshirts and sweatpants and headed down to the swim. Travis was in the first wave so he got in the water to warm up and pretty soon, he was off. I tried to keep track of him but lost him pretty quickly in the sea of yellow caps. I prayed for him to have a good swim, since I knew how nervous/unsure he had been about it.

After two more waves took off, I got in the water to warm up. I didn’t wear my wetsuit again but wished I had. Man, the water was cold! They said it was 69 degrees, 1 degree warmer than Steamboat. Well, someone measured wrong either at Cherry Creek or Steamboat because there is no way that Steamboat was colder than Cherry Creek. It probably didn’t help that it was only in the mid-5os outside. But I forced myself to put my head in and swim around a bit. It wasn’t enjoyable but I’d live.

As soon as the wave before mine left, I got out of the water and stood in line. Brrrr! I tried to control my flailing limbs while counting the seconds down until I could get back into the water and get moving.

Finally, it was time to go. It was a beach start and they had positioned a small buoy about 40 feet from shore that you had to keep on your right, to prevent people from running down the beach instead of actually swimming. The gung-ho swimmers in the front did the whole Baywatch thing into the water. I ran a bit, then walked to give the women ahead of me a chance to move out a bit before I started swimming. I’ was in no rush.

I made sure to settle into my swim pace right off the bat and breathe calmly – and it worked. The 750 meter swim was very uneventful. But I was glad to see the finish flags and finally be out of the water.

My feet were like ice cubes as I ran the long stretch up to transition. But I was pleasantly surprised that I had energy. When Travis and I had walked that section earlier in the morning, it had felt very hard to breathe. I had decided that I didn’t have to run up to transition. But after the swim, running up that part didn’t feel too hard.

Official Swim Time (including run to TA): 24:59

Unofficial Swim Time (not including run): 22:30 

Once in transition, I noticed Travis’ bike was gone. He had survived the swim! I rinsed off my feet, got my socks and shoes on and then took a little extra time to dry off and put on a long sleeve shirt. With the clouds, cool weather and being wet, I didn’t want to be cold on the bike. I grabbed my helmet, sunglasses and bike and off I went.

Official T1 Time: 2:56

I had been expecting my legs to feel weird like they had at Steamboat but they didn’t. I started off the bike feeling good. Around mile 1.5, I took a drink of my water and missed the bottle cage as I was attempting to replace it. So I had to get off my bike and go back to get my water bottle. There were no aid stations on the bike and I wanted my water bottle. Bah.

Back on the bike, I passed some people, a lot of people passed me. I pushed it up the biggest hill and decided that from there on out, I would take it easy. I didn’t want to ruin my legs for the run, like I have a habit of doing. So I took it easy. And it definitely showed in my time!

Right at the turnaround, I decided to eat my Shotbloks. I had eaten 2 and was going for my third when I dropped them on the ground. What was wrong with me? I was dropping things like it was my job! I looked around for a USAT official who would ping me for abandoned equipment. All I saw was a dude on a motorcycle and he was not USAT so I left my Shotbloks, feeling stupid and bummed.

The road through Cherry Creek that we biked on is so ridiculously bumpy that I will never do a triathlon there again (unless they repave it). It was just not fun to be on it so by the time I got back to the transition area, I was so ready to be done.

I glanced at my bike computer as I was re-racking my bike and it read 12.2 miles, instead 11.5 miles, like the race officials said.

Official Bike Time: 46:12 (14.9 mph) 

By this time, the sun had started peeking out of the clouds and warming things up nicely so I ditched my long sleeve shirt, grabbed my hat and sunglasses, and left.

Official T2 Time: 1:06

Since the first triathlon I ever did was at this same venue, I was familiar with the run course – it was almost exactly the same one. The first .5 mile is all uphill, then it flattens out for .5 mile, then the last 2 miles are rolling hills. My legs actually felt great for the first mile. I pushed up the hill and when I reached the first mile marker, I calculated a 10:00/mile pace. Sweet!

The 2nd mile was at a 11:00/mile pace but then the bottom fell out in the 3rd mile. I like to think it’s because I was sick and wasn’t at 100% capacity but I stopped and walked a few times because my legs just felt tired. Finally, I was almost to the finish line. I saw Travis watching for me and encouraged him to run with me a little, which he did.

Official Run Time: 34:18 (11:04/mile) 

Official Overall Time: 1:49:30

My goal going in to the race was to hit 1:45, but really I would have been satisfied with anything under 2 hours. So I made it. Woohoo! Since the bike was longer and made this race closer to being the same distance as the Oktoberfest tri I back in 2009, I was interested to compare my 2 times. My times from before were:

Swim: 19:57

T1: 2:14

Bike: 46:34

T2: 1:09

Run: 34:07

I finished that race in 1:43:59. Ah well. I don’t really care all that much.

Travis, of course, beat me (I knew he would). It’s funny though – I did the swim and transitions faster, he did the bike (on a mountain bike!) and run faster. He creamed me on the run. Here are his splits:

Swim: 26:28 

T1: 3:08

Bike: 44:09 (15.6 mph)

T2: 1:23

Run: 24:58 (8:03/mile)

Total: 1:40:05

So he did great! I think he had a very positive experience and even talked about doing another triathlon next year. I am very proud of him and had a lot fun doing a race with him. It’s kind of funny – we both placed 180th in our sex! (There were a total of 470 finishers – 233 male and 242 females).

And with that, Triathlon Season 2011 is in the books. I did 3 Sprints and 1 Oly this year. I am satisfied and ready to not ride my bike again until I get it professionally fitted. Our half marathon relay is in 3 weeks and then Race Season 2011 is over. Have I mentioned how ready I am? 

As far as the race itself went, this event was put on by Racing Underground – a pretty well-known group in Denver. I’ve done several races that they’ve timed but this was the first I had done that they’ve put on. I think they did a lot of things well – their website is informative with course maps, they sent out a pre-race email, their packet pickup was very organized and the goodie bags were stuffed. They also had plenty of porta-potties and their music/microphones were loud enough to hear.

Some things they can improve on: when I heard that we would get sweatshirts instead of t-shirts, I was excited. But while I will wear the navy blue sweatshirt sans hood and enjoy it, I can’t see Travis – or really any other guy – wearing it. I mean, guys don’t really wear sweatshirts without hoods, unless they’re playing basketball or over 40. So that’s a bummer.

Plus, it looked like they spent more money on the sweatshirts and got rid of the finishers medals. I know there’s some debate about whether finishers medals are cool or just unnecessary. Those who do oodles of races (and win!) don’t really care. Well, I care. And my husband who just did his first race cares. I want a medal because I will never win an award!

The last thing I was bummed about was that they didn’t have any finish line food like bagels, bananas, etc. The only food they offered was the post-race meal – BBQ – and while I was pumped that it was something that sounded good and that I could probably eat without getting sick after the race (my stomach won’t tolerate anything too sweet), the line was 200 people long. It stretched across the parking lot. Granted, it was a pleasant day and the food looked good but we just didn’t feel like waiting in line. I wished I could have just grabbed a bagel and been done with it.

So Travis and I went home, showered and went to BWW instead. Mmmm… I tried the new Soft Pretzels. AMAZING! I will definitely get those again. They just hit the spot. I also got 8 Honey BBQ boneless wings but only ate 4 because I ate too much of the pretzels. Then we rented Thor (great movie – looking forward to the sequel!) and Your Highness (would NOT recommend because of all the dirty, disgusting humor) and laid on the couch for the rest of the day. Glorious.

I’m glad that I did the race but my body is not. I felt increasingly sick yesterday and today, my whole head is congested, I have a runny nose and am coughing/sneezing a lot. So I’m forced again today to take things easy and relax. I guess this is good – I always like the idea of resting in theory but when it comes down to actually doing it, being productive always sounds more appealing. So I am going to take the dogs on a walk, go buy some tomato soup to go with grilled cheese for dinner, and then I’m going to plop my rump on the sofa for the rest of the evening.

The only bummer about being sick while relaxing is that I feel too tired/groggy to read so I end up watching copious amounts of TV. (There’s me trying to sneak in productivity again!) Oh well – I’ll enjoy being a bum!

How was your weekend?

Have you ever done a race while sick/not feeling your best?

Race Recap: Steamboat Springs Olympic Triathlon

29 Aug

I did it! The race went GREAT and I had an awesome time in Steamboat. But let me start from the beginning…

Friday

I found out from the vet that nothing is seriously wrong with our dogs. They don’t have giardia or parasites. Most likely, they ate something that upset their stomachs (I’m guessing mushrooms from our backyard). So they just need to be on a bland diet for a few days, and Charlie probably needs to switch to a new regular food to help with her soft stool. After the vet, I took a nap, ordered sushi :), packed, walked the dogs, stretched, and went to bed.

Saturday

I went for a swim at the Rec in the morning. I had tried to go Friday morning but the Rec was closed. It felt good to be moving again. That is one thing that I don’t like about taper week – not having that “I just did a great workout” feeling.

Then I talked to my mom for a bit, packed the car, and took the pooches over to my friend D’s house. I chatted with her over coffee and cinnamon rolls (yum!) and left around 11 am to go back home, load my bike on the Focus, and hit the road.

Everything was going according to plan — I didn’t forget anything, the sun was shining, traffic wasn’t bad, I was belting out my favorite tunes. And then I started to feel like the Focus was struggling a little more than usual up the big mountain grades. Like a precursor to it running out of gas and dying on the side of the highway. But I had plenty of gas. It wasn’t overheating. There had been a puddle on the driveway underneath the car though. And the Check Engine light was on (even though it has been for a while). Hmmmm…

I called Travis. “Um, the Focus is kind of lurching up the steep grades. Could it be low on oil or something?”

He had checked the oil not too long ago so he didn’t think it was that. He was at a loss as well, since he was 300 miles away and trying to diagnose the car via my very non-technical description. Eisenhower Tunnel was getting closer… visions of my car dying right in the middle of it flashed through my head. That would be very bad. Not to mention that I had only driven 45 minutes of a 3.5 hour drive — if the car was struggling already, would it even make it?

“So do you think I should turn around and go home to get the truck?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s probably the smartest thing to do.”

Blast it!

So I turned around at the Loveland Pass exit and headed all the way back to Denver, transferred my luggage and bike to the truck, and took off again… for real. Travis very kindly met me in Vail instead of just staying in Steamboat, so at least I had a companion for the last part of my trip.

The clock was ticking… at 4:15, I saw a sign that said 40 miles to Steamboat. Packet pickup ended at 5. No! We can’t be late! I floored it, doing 80 in a 65 (shhh… don’t tell the po-po) and we arrived in Steamboat at 4:30 — plenty of time! After looking for packet pickup in two wrong places, I finally found it and got all my race stuff and swag. Whew!

We headed to the hotel to unload all of my stuff and put my bike in our room. After watching TV for a bit, we decided to have dinner at the restaurant across the street called Rex’s American Bar & Grill. I had looked up restaurants online the week before and heard rave reviews about this place. And I loved that it was within walking distance!

We opted to sit outside on the patio, where we enjoyed some live music and a gorgeous view of the Steamboat ski slopes, now lush and green. I wanted a glass of wine so badly but knew I had to behave myself. I ordered Napa pizza with apples, bacon, onions and bleu cheese. It was amazing. I have discovered that I love, love, love bleu cheese on pizza. Mmmm… Travis ordered a beer and “Stuffed Bird Boob” with mashed potatoes. I couldn’t figure out what kind of meat that was until the waiter described it as chicken breast. Ahhh… now I get it. His food was also delicious.

Right before we got our food, it started to rain. Since there were plenty of umbrellas on the patio and it wasn’t raining very hard, we stuck it out. Our waiter was nice enough to bring me a fleece blanket — much appreciated!

As we finished, it started raining harder and my very chivalrous husband agreed to go get the car to come pick me up. I decided that since I couldn’t have wine, I at least needed some ice cream. So we drove over to DQ and I got a mini Brownie Batter Blizzard. It hit the spot.

By then, it was about 7:30 and we decided that since it was raining and the rodeo had ended the weekend before 😦 , the best option was just to go back to the hotel and bum. So that’s what we did.

Around 9:00, I decided it was time to sleep. And as far as nights before races go, I slept very well. I woke up a few times to panic and wonder what the heck I was thinking doing an Oly tri but was able to get back to sleep fairly quickly (I guess that’s one nice side effect of your dogs making you sleep-deprived).

Pre-Race

Race morning, I actually hit the snooze button. I finally got up at 5:30. We left the hotel by 6:05, stopped and got coffee for Travis, and got to the race site around 6:20. I thought transition opened at 6:30 but it had really opened at 6:00. It wasn’t a big deal because there were plenty of spots left. I got body marked and then set my stuff up. I chose a rack on the inside aisle, about ¼ of the way down from the swim in.

After getting my area set up, I picked up my timing chip and heard that the water wouldn’t be open for warming up until 7:15. Since it was only 6:45, I went on a little jog for a warm up, went to the bathroom, put on sunscreen (which apparently all washed off during the swim), and then headed down to the water. The temperature was announced — 68 degrees. Woohoo!

At 7:40, I got in the water. It wasn’t bad at all. I could totally do the swim without a wetsuit. I mean, the water hardly even took my breath away. It was like swimming in Minnesota! I was feeling great and doing a little swim warm up when all of a sudden, I hit a giant patch of seaweed. I hate seaweed. I refuse to swim in seaweed. EEEWWW! I panicked and swam back to shore as fast as I possibly could. As I got out, I told Travis, “Well, the water is nice but that seaweed is going to kill me.” After I stood there for a bit commiserating with a fellow athlete about how gross the seaweed was, I decided to go back in and purposefully swim through the seaweed, reminding myself they’re only plants. No little creature is going to attach itself to me or eat me. I will survive. So I swam through the seaweed and I was fine.

I got back out and we stood around for another 35 minutes, listening to the pre-race briefing and watching the four waves before me go off. I just about froze. My teeth were chattering, my legs were shaking. I couldn’t help but think, I’d probably be warm if I was wearing a wetsuit.

Finally, my wave was up. I got back in the water, positioned myself at the back of my wave, got my face used to the water and then treaded water to warm my body up while I waited.

Swim

Before I knew it, the foghorn went off and we were off! Almost immediately, my whole wave had left me in their wake. But I was just pumped that I was swimming! And feeling great! I wasn’t panicking! I kept thinking, I totally have this.

The little toe on my right foot felt weird and I thought that some of the muck from the bottom of the lake must have magically bonded to my foot. Then I wondered if it was a leech. So I reached down to feel. Nothing, not even muck, was there. I realized that my toe was frozen. So were my fingers. You know that feeling when your fingers and toes feel like they’re hollow? That’s how I felt.

By the time I reached the first sighting buoy, athletes from the last wave were passing me. I kept my pace and let them go around me. Just keep watching the buoy get closer, I reminded myself. Take it one buoy at a time. The swim will end sometime.

After I rounded the third turning buoy, I started feeling like I had to pee. I tried to pee while swimming a couple of times but that proved to be more complex than I could handle. But I knew that biking on a full bladder was absolutely miserable so I stopped swimming momentarily to pee. All better.

Finally, I passed the last sighting buoy and could see the swim exit. A couple hundred yards more and I could stand. I ran out of the swim. Yay!! I did it! The hardest part is over! Travis snapped a picture of me as I ran to transition.

Official Swim Time: 46:34

T1

While it was nice to not have a wetsuit to get off, I fumbled with my socks and shoes, and took what seemed like forever to get my helmet on. Usually, I run from the swim into transition and then out with my bike, effectively leaving me breathless between each leg. This time, I said, Screw it — I’m going to walk and catch my breath. So I did.

Official T1 Time: 2:27

Bike

For the first two or three miles of the bike, I felt like I hadn’t ridden a bike in forever. Everything felt foreign. My legs felt really weird. I realized then that I was still frozen. No wonder why my legs felt weird – they were practically numb! It took me about 5 miles to warm up.

While I was still warming up, I encountered The Bumpy Road. Some construction-working genius had decided that gravel with a thin layer of asphalt over it was just as good as an actually paved road. I beg to differ. It was miserable. And I had to pee again, which was magnified 1,000 times with each bump. I started wondering, Can I really survive 20 miles on this horrible-ness?

The course took a left turn and Hallelujah! The road was actually paved again. Oh wonderful, gentle smoothness. By about mile 9, I really had to pee. I started hoping they’d have a porta-potty at the turnaround, all the while knowing that they almost certainly didn’t. But lo and behold, the turnaround was at a baseball field. I asked the volunteer at the turnaround if there were restrooms and he said there were, but he didn’t know if they were open. I had to at least try. So I laid my bike down and ran to the door. They were open! Praise the Lord!

I was so happy on my way back — it’s so much more enjoyable to ride a bike when you don’t have to pee!

{Side note: WHY did I have to pee so much? I went twice before the race started, then during the swim, then again on the bike. I purposely didn’t drink much before the race to avoid this very problem. Argh!}

I followed my fueling strategy by eating my first 3 Shotbloks right after the turnaround (11.5 miles because of the dog leg) and 3 more right before the dog leg (22 miles). There were 4-5 steep-ish hills on the way back, the longest one being the dog leg — 1 mile of 2% grade. Lucky for me, that’s nothing compared to the crap hills on my bike to work. I cruised up the hill (being mindful to not push it too hard), back down and hit the home stretch.

Official Bike Time: 1:31:29 (16.3 mph)

T2

Once again, I walked with my bike back to my rack. I took off my helmet and grabbed my hat, race belt, and Shotbloks. I wasn’t hungry so I didn’t grab my piece of bread with peanut butter. And I was off.

Official T2 Time: 1:34

Run

I started running soon out of transition and my legs felt typical – heavy and foreign. I made the decision to walk 1 minute at every aid station (there was one every mile). By the time I got to the first aid station, drank some water, and started running after my minute was up, I had my running legs and settled into a nice pace. By mile 2, I found that I was running an 11:07 pace. Decent.

Mile 3 felt long. My left knee started to hurt with a very familiar feeling caused by a tight IT band. Because I knew what it was, though, I just ran through it. I can stretch later. Finally, there was the aid station: it was a Hawaiian luau. That picked up my spirits and I made it up the hill to the turnaround. On the way back, I grabbed some water and ate my last 3 Shotbloks. On to mile marker 4.

My stomach had started sloshing around so I stopped drinking water. By mile 5, it was getting into the 80s. My knee still hurt. I had the slightest stomach cramp. But I could see the aid station and just kept running.

Finally, it was the last mile. I ran past the lot where we parked, which they said was .5 mile away from transition. There were a lot of athletes and spectators already making their way down to their cars, so I got a lot of cheering on this last stretch. That was fun.

I crested the last hill and picked up the pace. I was SO HAPPY. I couldn’t help but smile and throw my arms up. I totally made it! And…

I ENJOYED IT!

I had pushed myself so hard during the sprint tris I did back in June that I didn’t even enjoy them. The bike was hard and the run was ruined. Why did I do that to myself? I really enjoyed this race.

I crossed the finish line, all smiles, and was handed some water and my finisher’s medal.

Official Run Time: 1:13:06 (11:48/mile)

Official Race Time: 3:35:08

Sure, I didn’t make my “goal” but I am totally excited about my performance. For me, it was huge that I didn’t panic once during the swim, I enjoyed the bike instead of going balls to the wall, and I did the whole run at a very comfortable pace.

As far as the event itself, I think Without Limits Productions puts on a very good race. My goodie bag had a lot of cool stuff in it (hello Luna bars and free socks in Travis’ size!) and the shirts were cute and great quality. I’m not thrilled about the dogtag-style finisher’s medals, but oh well. Their website was kept up-to-date with all the important information and they had plenty of bike course marshals directing us where to go and holding back traffic. My only real complaint is that there wasn’t much cold water at the finish line (or maybe they ran out before I got there?). But overall, it was a great race.

Post-Race

After the race, Travis and I stuck around because my name had been called for a raffle. After I got some more free socks (that I can wear), we grabbed my stuff and loaded up the car. Since it was about 85 by then and just an absolutely gorgeous day, we decided to tube down the Yampa River. Colorado doesn’t have a big selection of “lazy” rivers that are mild enough to tube down, so we seized the opportunity.

When we were finally changed into our suits and everything was stowed in our truck, we grabbed our tubes and river shoes (pretty sweeto) from Backdoor Sports and took off down the river. It wasn’t so much a lazy river as an always-watch-where-you’re-going-so-you-don’t-fall-off-in-the-rapids river, but it was still a blast. I love mild rapids like that! Every once in a while, we’d hit the current and rapids just right that a giant splash of cool water landed on our laps. Refreshing. The ride took about 45 minutes and we waited for the shuttle back for about 10 minutes.

We changed back into our clothes at Backdoor Sports and went to lunch at Steamboat Meat and Seafood Co. Travis had a tuna melt (with REAL tuna meat, not the canned stuff) and I had a Reuben. Both were delicious. We made a quick stop at the gas station and then headed back to Denver.

What a great weekend! I’m pumped that the race went so well and I loved being able to do something fun and out of the ordinary with my very supportive and loving husband. I’m very lucky that he comes to cheer me on at my races, even if he gets insanely bored and takes pictures of random things, like pontoon boats and buildings. 😉

Now it’s back to work, laundry and grocery shopping.

Packing and Pooping

26 Aug

Well friends, race weekend is here. In 2 hours, I will leave work to take my dog to the vet (more on that in a bit), then head home to pack up all of my triathlon gear and prepare for my trip to Steamboat Springs tomorrow.

Itinerary

I’m going to have coffee with my friend D in the morning (who is also graciously watching our pooches for the weekend) and then hit the road around 11. Due to a bike race going on near Silverthorne/Rabbit Ears Pass, I have to take the long way around, making my trip 3.5 hours, instead of 2.5.

No matter! I’ll be rocking the same mini speakers we rocked all the way to Yellowstone and back (since the radio in our Focus is still broken).

Heck yes!

Once I get to Steamboat, my plan is to head straight to packet pickup at the Ski Haus and then go check in at the hotel, where Travis will meet me on his return from counting cacti in Middle-of-Nowhere Roosevelt, UT (no joke). He’s been there all week. Apparently, this cactus is an endangered species. Meaning there aren’t a whole lot of them. They were batting .500 on seeing them during the course of a whole day.

From what I’ve heard, Steamboat has a rodeo every Saturday night. If it’s not too late, we might go check that out because I’ve never been to a rodeo. (Shocking, I know.) Otherwise, I figure we’ll just bum around downtown Steamboat, have dinner and call it an early night. Race wakeup calls come early – this one will be at 5:15 am. But usually I sleep so poorly that I’m rearing just to get up and get on with the show already.

And the other details will be saved for the Race Recap to come on Monday. 😉

Time Goals

Things this week haven’t gone *quite* as planned. Both Wednesday and Thursday, I only drank about 40 oz of water. I haven’t stretched since Monday. I couldn’t swim this morning because our gym was closed.

But regardless of all that, I do feel prepared. My time goals for this race are between 3:17:30 (stretch) and 3:32:30 (more realistic). Here’s the breakdown:

Stretch Goals

Swim 43:00

T1 1:30

Bike 1:30:00 (16 mph)

T2 1:00

Run 1:02:00 (10 min/mile)

TOTAL 3:17:30

More Realistic Goals

Swim 45:00

T1 2:00

Bike 1:35:00 (15 mph)

T2 1:30

Run 1:09:00 (11 min/mile)

TOTAL 3:32:30

Why those times?

For the swim, I practiced 825 yards (750 meters) and finished in 21:20. Double that and you have 42:40. But if I wear my wetsuit (which I’m still debating about because the race website said the water is supposed to mid-60s.. BRRR!), I’ll be slower, since the suit limits how much I can bend my legs and therefore, how well I can kick and how fast I can go.

For the bike, I have averaged 16-17 mph in the other races I did this year and I’m definitely in better biking shape now than I was then (thank you Simms!). This bike course is downhill on the way out and uphill on the way back and the elevation map looks sweet (for the first half) and nasty (for the last half).

But the good news is that the elevation gain/loss is less than 200 feet and the steepest grade is a 2%. But… then I look at my route to work and it says those hills are a 2% grade as well. Crap it.

For the run, I have been running an average pace somewhere between 11:00 and 11:30 on my runs. But for some reason, I run faster after I bike. In the Greeley Tri, I managed a 10:21 pace and in the Boulder Sunrise, I did a 11:00 pace. So in essence, I’m looking for a miracle. I guess I’m still hoping that someday, I can get back to consistently running 10 minute miles as my slowest pace instead of my fastest. I try to remind myself that last year, I was consistently running 12:30s – so I have made progress.

This triathlon will be my longest workout ever by at least 30 minutes (if you don’t include hiking). My longest workout previously was my slowest half marathon, which I finished in 2:44:44.

Fueling

I plan on fueling on race day by eating my traditional bagel with peanut butter. I’m also going to try to eat a banana before starting, since this race will be so much longer than a Sprint. On the bike, I will eat 1 whole pack (6 blocks) of Shotbloks, with 3 blocks at 45 minutes and 3 blocks very soon before I get off the bike.

I will eat 3 more blocks on the run around the halfway point. I will also have another piece of bread with peanut butter on it in transition for me to grab if I’m hungry before heading out on the run, since Shotbloks are more to replace electrolytes than to fill you up.

And then, the best part, I’ll have an Athlete’s Honey Milk waiting for me at the finish line! I tried these for the first time at the Greeley Tri and loved them. Since they’re $2.50 a bottle, I only use them for special occasions – like this race!

**Warning: Poop picture ahead**

Speaking of last night, and taking Charlie to the vet, and the pooping I mentioned in the title of this post, I had an incredibly disgusting experience when I came home last night. As I walked into the garage, I thought I smelled something funny. My first thought was Travis’ disgusting hockey gear, but no, it didn’t quite smell right. I was still wondering when I opened the laundry room door and was greeted by this:

I cannot even begin to describe how gross it was. The smell was beyond words. Poopy pawprints were on the door, the wall, the washer and dryer – everywhere.

I put the dogs outside, entered the house through the front door, and changed into old work clothes. I put my hair up, grabbed some rubber gloves, found a sheetrock mask of Trav’s, and got out the paper towels, a bucket and a sponge.

And Denver just had to set a record high of 99 degrees yesterday so I had sweat rolling down my face as I scrubbed and tried my darnedest not to gag. After I was done in the laundry room, I took the dogs one by one and gave them each a bath. Ick.

The room still stunk this morning. Once Travis gets home, we’re going to clean the crap out of it – literally.

So that’s why I’m taking Charlie to the vet. No dog in their right mind (or right bowel?) should ever do that. Poor Katy was subjected to Charlie’s poopy mess for who knows how long. And Charlie has been slinking around all night and all morning, like she’s incredibly embarrassed that I caught her deprecating in her own sleeping space. It happens, Charlie. Once. It happens once. It better not happen again…

……

I’m scared to go home.

___________________________

Anyway, have a lovely weekend readers! I’ll catch you all Monday!