Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Last week was business as usual and then suddenly I was waking up on Sunday getting ready to go to another race. This time I was doing Small Texan Triathlon in Boerne, TX. It’s a smaller race but generally gets a handful of fast people to keep the competition interesting in the front. Super fan Dan was coming along to spectate and was going to get his run in while I raced.
I did this race last year and SWORE I would not do it again. Dan swore the same thing, but actually followed through on that promise. Our friend Ben who lives in Boerne talked me into it. After he kicked my butt at the Pflugerville Tri back in June, I was out for revenge (well, not really because Ben is super cool, but we made it a friendly competition. I did beat him but only because I had a decent run). Anyway, I despise the course of the Small Texan. It’s a very slow course – hilly, late race start, no shade on the run and the bike course roads are in horrible shape. They are cobblestone-esque and your bike pretty much vibrates the entire time you are riding. Anyway, I did the race yesterday and once again SWORE I will NOT do this race again – at least not the Olympic Distance. Maybe the Sprint as I could probably handle 14 miles on those roads but not 28.
I was going to wait to write this report until official results are posted, but they are still not (annoying), and I would probably rather not see my exact swim or bike split anyhow (I have a good idea from my trusty stop watch on how I did in each discipline).
My wave started as the second and final one with all of the women and relayers chasing the dudes in the first wave. That meant a decent size of women (and a few relay dudes) in the water. I had been having some good open water swims lately so my plan was to swim hard for the entire 1500 meters (please note: hard for me is still not fast). The race started and I swam what I perceived to be a pretty hard effort, but was disappointed with my 36 and change time exiting the water. I knew I had lost some time by stopping a few times to adjust my goggles (they kept fogging up, it was so frustrating), but still didn’t think I was going that slow. I probably let my swim time affect my attitude more than I should have, particularly knowing I had the crappy bike course ahead of me – but, you live, you learn.
Ah, the bike. Unfortunately, I was quick to find out the bike course had not improved any from last year. In fact, Ben and I think the road conditions had worsened. Large divots in the road and constant vibrating on the bike due to the road surface. I was pretty much riding alone for the entire time, probably due to my slow swim, and just mentally lost focus at this point. Dan would say later that I just look ‘deflated’ in this race, which is pretty spot on with how I felt. I should have sucked it up and pushed harder on the bike, but I just didn’t have it in me. My bike split was pretty close to 1:40 for the 28 miles, which is just under a 17 mph average. I’m capable of better. Even though the course is slow it’s not THAT slow!!
My hope for the run was to be able to find a pace in the realm of 7:25 that felt comfortable for the first 3 miles, then use what was left to get home. I knew it was a tough course, but at least I wouldn’t be on my bike and that thought was a great relief. This was a shortlived dream on Sunday though, as my legs right off the bat felt very heavy. I knew the temps were high and I could feel the sun beating down on my practically-naked backside, so I didn’t stress it. After all, at least I was still running and passing people. Then around the 5k mark things changed, and I felt the life come back into my legs. Maybe it was because I spotted my friend Ben not too far ahead of me )I knew he had started the race 3 minutes ahead of me, so if I could catch him I had at least a 3 minute cushion to work with). Maybe I had finally shook out the crappy 1:40 bike split, but I felt like a new person. The heat was still present, but I knew I was starting to bang out negative splits. At mile 5, I turned it up a little and really I only felt stronger. My run split ended up being around a 45:15 or 7:17 avg pace. While I was happy with my run, I was bummed about my overall race time which was about 4 minutes off from last year. I still think I finished pretty decent among women overall (we shall see) but only because I had a good run.
All in all, it was my 5th race in 5 weeks, and I can’t expect to go out there and kill it every single time. I look forward to taking this week as a step back week to recuperate from all the racing (and catch up on some of my TV shows!).
Thursday, July 21, 2011
I was kind of hoping that I could come up with some sort of profound ability to be able to put into words how running has changed me – because it has. It's not just physically put me in a better place, but mentally as well. Ultimately I have decided that I don’t think I can really convey my feelings. People will either get it, or they won’t. I am fairly confident that anyone who has seen me at a race, while they may not really understand why I do what I do, could see by the smile on my face when I race that running is a part of me.
I can't believe I'm about to share these photos, but I guess what I want to show people is that I wasn't born out of the womb running. I wasn't born with athletic genes. I haven't always been as crazy about running, swimming or biking as I am now. I haven't always been healthy. And, I certainly wasn't always fit. I've struggled with weight issues and self esteem issues. But, I do believe with hard work, you can make a change for the better. So, here ya go...
The product of too much Mexican food, beer & late night pizza.
One of my first races getting back to running. Dan kicked my a$$ in this race and it pissed me off for months.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
This weekend, I had the Tres Burritos ride on Saturday, and the Marble Falls Triathlon on Sunday. I've been trying a new approach with racing this year with my rest day on Friday instead of Saturday for a Sunday race, and adding in a longer ride/short run on Saturday. I think this has ended up being a good change for me.
Saturday I ventured outside of my comfort zone and headed to Austin for the Tres Burritos ride put on by Bicycle Sport Shop. It was advertised as 42 miles of hills, and it did not disappoint. I got a little freaked out when I showed up and it was 97% dudes who all looked to be super serious riders. But, I held my own. We hit all the big hills on 360, Lost Creek & Barton Creek. This was definitely the hilliest ride I have ever done, but it was great training. I did a short 2 mile t-run afterwards then called it a day. Headed home to get some rest for Sunday. We ate at Cici's pre-race for dinner, which I hoped would not come back to bite me in the butt Sunday morning; luckily, it didn't and might be my go-to pre-race meal from now on.
Sunday, Dan and I got up at the wee hour of 4 am to drive to Marble Falls for the race. God bless my #1 sherpa who willingly gets up at ungodly hours to drive me all over the state to Texas to watch me race. I was really excited about this race. I'd done it once before in 2008, and it's extremely well set-up and organized. They offered a packet pick-up in Austin which was awesome, and you could rack your bike race morning, meaning we wouldn't have to spend the night and could drive in race morning. They group the women into two waves which meant less waiting around - the race started at 7 am, and my wave went at 7:06. Usually I'm waiting a good hour before my wave actually takes off.
I came to the race with a huge appetite. By all accounts, I was ready to race. Last time I did this race in 2008, I clocked a 2:25:08 for the 1,000m swim, 23 mile bike and 4.4 mile run. I felt like I've been putting in some good work lately, and I was hoping for a big improvement this time around.
Swim - I've been doing a lot more open water swimming this year than in years past, and so I am feeling stronger in the races. My sighting has improved and I am doing better about staying on course. I felt great heading out to the first buoy. I looked up at the turn and I was sitting comfortably at the middle of the pack of women in my wave. That is good for me. After the turn though we were swimming directly into the sun, and finding the buoys was pretty difficult. I then started to sight off of other swimmers (and hoping they weren't swimming off course). For some reason, I felt like I was swimming forever. Anyway, I came out of the water in 21:44, compared to 24:15 in 2008. I was pleased and ready to hit the bike.
Bike - Once on the bike I was really relaxed. I knew the course was full of long rolling hills, but I much prefer those compared to the extremely short & steep hills. I tried to attack the hills without losing momentum and just stay consistent. I was riding 'naked' since my bike computer doesn't work, so I had no idea what I was averaging. I think I actually prefer riding this way. I got passed by a few people, but also passed some people as well. I ended up with a 1:15:38 bike split, averaging 18.2 mph for the 23 miles. I was stoked. My 2008 split was 1:27:09, 15.8 mph.
Run - Got off the bike and headed out for the run. My legs were feeling good, and I knew I could catch some of the women ahead of me. My plan was to slowly chip away at them. The run was flat for the most part, with only one hill up to the finish line. I came to mile one in 6:51; I was hoping to hold that pace throughout. Somehow, I actually ended up negative splitting this run, which usually never happens to me in a triathlon. I accredit it to the pack of 3 women that came into my view about half way through the race. I made my surge and passed all of them, and in turn tried to keep up my pace so they wouldn't catch back up to me. Mission accomplished. My run split was 29:59/6:49 pace, compared to 31:06/7:04 pace in 2008.
My 2:10:01 was good enough for 10th place overall (women), 3rd in my age group and a 15 minute PR from 2008.
All in all it was a solid weekend of work and experience in racing. And at the end of the day, that’s all I can ask for.
Friday, July 15, 2011
- It's Friday, duh.
- Today is a rest day from workouts.
- I'm racing the Marble Falls triathlon this weekend! It's a challenging, yet beautiful race course. My sherpa - aka #1 husband - has agreed to get up at 4 am with me on Sunday and drive me to the race and cheer me on.
- The season finale of Friday Night Lights is on tonight. I LOVE that show.
- I need to go downtown during lunch to pick up Sunday's race packet. Aaand, packet pick-up happens to be right next to the Austin Lululemon store :) It also happens to be right by the Spicy Pickle, one of my favorite sandwich joints.
- I'm riding in the Tres Burritos ride put on my Bicycle Sport Shop tomorrow morning. Riders get free burritos after the ride...that is motivation enough for me.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Yesterday evening I came across a Facebook status in my news feed that left me puzzled. For some reason, it bothered me quite a bit and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It went along the lines of this:
Went to the gym today. Know what I don't get? People who run when they don't have to (for example, because nothing is chasing them). I admire their discipline, I guess. But I still don't get it.
My immediate reaction was, “I don’t get why you wouldn’t want to run.” Of course I didn’t post this. I realize that not everyone shares my love of running. And, while I wanted to respond, I didn’t know how to put into words my love for running. It really got me thinking … why do I run? (Dan’s immediate response was “I think you’re just Born to Run.” Cliché, but maybe he’s right).
Sometimes it’s nice to step back and remind ourselves of why we run. Running is clearly a core part of my life, and I honestly don’t know what I would do without it.
One of the things that I love about running is that I can do it alone. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the company of others. But it’s during a few hours of solitude every couple of days that I get to do some deep thinking, character building, gut checking, and dreaming.
I think about a lot of things while I’m running. I think the most about the events in my life and how they have shaped me. I also think a lot about my health and extending my quality of life as long as possible. One of my favorite parts of running a race is seeing the 70 and 80 year old men and women running healthy and happy all the way to the finish line. I imagine being like them someday and inspiring others around me without saying a single word, just like they have inspired me.
I can pray and think and relieve stress. Some days, looking forward to my run is what motivates me to get out of bed and put in the effort that life requires. Something about my feet rythmically hitting the pavement settles something deep in my soul. I feel like when I am running, I am the best of who I am. I feel strong, confident, and satisfied.
Running also teaches me to endure. I remember running my first marathon. Suddenly, being “tired” didn’t mean shit. The perspective shift is dramatic once you reach that point of exhaustion. What used to be a struggle becomes a routine and you realize that these lessons in endurance become core to all aspects of your life.
Running has been a gift. It’s taught me to appreciate my time alone and to use it to think about the things in life that are valuable to me. I’ll continue running until my body no longer lets me.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The 49th Annual JFK 50 Mile General Field has been filled. All standard entries coming in now (that have checked the box requesting to be placed on a waiting list) will be placed on a waiting list. Once the waiting list is filled, all entries --and the accompanying entry processing fees-- will be returned when a SASE has been enclosed with the entry application --and shredded when absent of a SASE.
I had a bit of a panic attack after reading this because I had not heard anything, and as of yesterday morning, the check I sent as my registration fee had not been cashed.
Then I scrolled down ... and saw this:
Race Entrants Listing First 500 July 8th
I anxiously clicked on it, scrolled down to the 'R's and my name was on there.
To make sure it wasn't too good to be true, I checked our bank account and the registration check had indeed been cashed.
I GOT IN!
Maryland, here I come!
Monday, July 11, 2011
So, Friday night, despite having a plan of meeting up with friends for a pub run downtown, I completely unplugged. I left my pile of work at work, I turned off the phone, the TV, music, didn't check email...instead I picked up a book and went to bed early.
I had a pretty successful weekend. Saturday morning I met up with a friend of a long ride and ended up getting in 50 miles on the bike - my longest so far this year. And, the best part about it was I actually felt like I could have ridden further. Usually by 50 miles I am uncomfortable and screaming to get off my bike, but it wasn't the case this week. I finished up with a 3 mile t-run and called it a day. Tried to relax the rest of the afternoon and get ready for Sunday's triathlon.
Sunday the Couples Triathlon! On of my favorite races that I do with Dan every year. Last year when I did this race I was coming off of Ironman CDA and felt like I was on top of my game and ended up with a great race (for me). I knew this year I likely wouldn't be able to beat my time from last year (1:19:57), but my goal was to come close (ended up finishing in 1:21:13). I actually did better in the swim (5 second faster) and run (14 seconds faster) this year, but my bike leg wasn't as strong (as expected). I ended up riding my road bike yesterday...not feeling comfortable enough on the tri bike yet to race with it.
Race stats were...
800m swim - 18:39
11.2 mile bike - 38:02, 17.7 mph
3.1 mile run - 21:09, 6:49 pace
I was really happy with yesterday's race, especially after some big volume during the week . This was my second triathlon of the season, and while I still have some work to do, I feel good with where I'm at. Yesterday's race is one of the tougher courses in the area, and I felt like I attacked it pretty well. So, all in all a great weekend. Kudos to my husband and teammate in yesterday's tri who had a great race even though he doesn't think so. I really enjoy being able to do these type of fun and healthy activities with my husband.
Today was back to work...and work is getting a little crazier this week with a special event coming up on Thursday so my workouts will require a little flexibility.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
My new ride. Ain't she purty? And, no matter what Dan says, I did not buy this bike just because it is pink.So, it's a Quintana Roo Chicqilo Tri Bike...I currently have a Quattro Assi road bike that I bought used a few years ago from Dan's co-workers wife who is a professional cyclist. I've been perfectly happy with my road bike (and will still keep it to ride), but had the opportunity to get a really good deal on a very slightly used triathlon bike from a friend. I've heard lots of arguments for the use of road bikes vs. tri bikes for the sport of triathlon but didn't want to spend several thousand dollars on a tri bike when my road bike was just fine for me. I also didn't really understand the differences between the two types of bikes.
Simply stated from here:
A triathlon bike is specifically designed to be ridden comfortably and efficiently in the aerodynamic position using elbow-rest style aero handlebars. Triathlon geometry bikes facilitate the transition from cycling to running better than road geometry bikes.
Using aero handlebars on a triathlon geometry bike provides two benefits:
1. Improved aerodynamics with better comfort/efficiency.
2. Easier transitions from bike to run.
Aero handlebars allow the rider to sit lower on the bike and with a narrower, more aerodynamic upper body cross section. As viewed from the front, the rider’s body is narrower than having the arms spread out to normal drop handlebars. The rider’s upper body is supported by the skeleton while using aero bars (resting on the elbows), while on the standard road, drop handlebars a rider must rely on the use of upper body muscles to support their body and maintain the riding posture. Visualize the difference between leaning on a counter with your elbows (easier) and supporting your torso over the counter in a kind of “half push-up” posture (harder).
I've had the tri bike in my possession this week to test ride it, and let me tell you, this is going to require some getting used to. The speed shifters (or whatever they are called) are on the aerobars and the brakes on the regular handles so you have to let go of the handle bars quite often. Freaky.
BUT, that thing goes FAST! It wants to go straight. I would say that for the same effort, I was going noticeably faster in my test rides. I definitely need some practice on it before I'm ready to race with it or take it out for longer rides, though.
Dan told me that this is his Anniversary present to me. Some women get diamonds, I get a pink bike. I wouldn't have it any other way :)
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Usually my holiday long weekends fall into one of two categories: I'm either in full holiday celebration mode and replace working out with a lot of unhealthy eating; or, I take advantage of the long weekend by trying to get in some good training. This past weekend was the latter, and with Dan playing in a golf tournament all weekend, it gave me plenty of time to get some good workouts in (and some quality lying/reading by the pool time as well).
Friday: I didn't have Friday off of work, but I got up early to get my longer run in before work and out of the way. Since I was racing a 5k Monday morning I didn't want to run on Sunday, so shuffled my schedule around. 10 miles before work - check.
Saturday: Saturday was a long ride/run. I met up with a friend and we knocked out 46 miles on the bike, which I followed up with a 6.2 mile run. I was really happy to have company on this ride and it went by much faster than the Saturday before when I rode on my own. Despite getting a bit uncomfortable in the saddle towards the end of the ride, I felt great. I felt even better on my run after wards, and am convinced that running after biking really plays to my strength. I spent the rest of the afternoon lounging by the pool immersed in a good book (Emily Giffin's novels are my new favorites).
Sunday: Sunday I slept in until 7:30 am (which for me is late considering I go to bed at 9 pm) and headed out for a 20 mile recovery ride on the country roads through Georgetown. After the ride I puttered around for a few hours before heading to Austin for an easy 1600m open water swim in the Quarry at Pure Austin. I'm really enjoying open water swimming much more then pool swimming right now - so much that I want to do all my swimming in open water. Funny how that has changed - 2 years ago open water completely freaked me out, and I would only do it in races (and would freak out even then). Hit Whole Foods for lunch after wards for a $12 salad (this always happens to me at Whole Foods since they charge by the pound) then met up with my friend and his wife to pick up a tri bike that I'm testing out this week.
Monday: Dan and I signed up to run the Nelson 5k, a local race that we've done the past 2 years on the 4th of July. The past two years I've tried to break 20 minutes on this course, and just haven't done it as the heat and humidity usually gets the best of me. Breaking 20 minutes was a pie-in-the-sky goal for me yesterday, but after a running 20:18 5k a few weeks ago, I figured I would come in just over 20 minutes.
I warmed up for an easy 20 minutes and my legs felt surprisingly good. Did some stretching and lined up near the start, ready to go.
3-2-1 countdown and we were off. A few strides in I noticed there was a girl running next to me stride for stride. And, I knew exactly who she was. I always joke with Dan that she is my 'arch nemesis' because this particular girl is in my age group and used to KICK MY BUTT at every single race. Like seriously kick my butt. It would frustrate me to no end. And to top it off, she was never very friendly at all, even when I would congratulate her after wards. Over the past two years, I got faster and she had a baby and got slower, giving me some relief (I could FINALLY beat her). But, lately she's been back strong. And inching closer and closer to me. So, yesterday morning when she was matching me stride per stride, I was determined not to let her get ahead of me because there is no time to play catch-up in a 5k race. Just under a mile into the race we were running just over a 6 min mile pace, which was way faster than I wanted to start out. I was feeling pretty uncomfortable with that pace, but she was breathing pretty hard so I was just praying she would drop back. I refused to be the one to drop back, even if it sent me to the medical tent (just kidding Mom...kinda).
At Mile 1, I got my wish; she slowed down. Once she slowed down, I did a little as well - although not allowing myself to slow down too much not knowing how far behind me she was. I hit the two mile mark and she had not re-passed me. But, I still didn't know how much of a lead I had on her because I refused to look back because that would let her know that I was worried (call it foolish pride I guess). I was feeling pretty worn out at this point, but reminded myself I only had one mile to and vowed not to fall apart. Luckily, around this point a man approached me from behind clipping along at a strong pace, and instead of letting him pass me, I went with him. I hung onto his coattails and came across the finish line in 19:39, tying my 5k PR.
I ended up with more of a lead on my 'arch nemesis' than I thought, and she grabbed second in 21:31. The funny thing is that after the race she asked my co-worker (who was helping out with the race and who she knows) 'who this Erin girl is?'. She said this was the third race I've beaten in lately and 'where did I come from?'. I thought it was particularly amusing that all of a sudden she's aware of my name, but I've known exactly who she is for years. Hahaha. She may get me in the next race, but, yesterday, the trophy was mine :)All in all, it was a great weekend! I'm feeling strong in my running and better in regards to my biking. Still swimming like a turtle, but that's to be expected.
Hope everyone had a great weekend!
Friday, July 1, 2011
I decided last summer that the 2011 race would be my year to go for it. The only catch? I had to get in. This race sells out very quickly, and I read that they were changing qualifying standards that would be announced in May 2011. Unsure of what this would mean to me, I waited. And waited. Finally, May came around and they posted the qualifying standards. And, much to my delight, they were in my favor, and I would be allowed to register in the first wave of applicants based on my marathon times.
Still, there would be no on-line registration. And, the entry form would not be posted until July 1, as well as any other race information. So, more waiting.
Until this morning. I woke up at 5 am for my run, and the first thing I did was check the JFK web site. The entry form was there! Hooray!
So, my 2011 JFK entry form is signed, sealed and delivered to the post-office for priority delivery. This is one thing I really pray to the mail gods that doesn't get lost in the mail. It's on the way to the great state of Maryland, along with the hefty $195 entry fee (this was a bit of an unpleasant surprise this morning when I learned how much they were charging).
So, until further notification, I'm keeping my fingers crossed and waiting for news that this will all become real.