Sunday, October 26, 2014
This race wasn't very fun, at least the day of. I was severely undertrained, and it showed. The experience was similar to my first olympic distance triathlon, but twice as bad (because twice as long). Still, I enjoyed my time in Sandusky, thanks mostly to my family and friends, and the experience reminded me that no matter how many triathlons I do and how fit I think I am, I still need to train to be successful. This experience reminded me to respect the sport, especially at these longer distances. In that way, I think this race prepared me for my Ironman, because it will inspire me to be more serious about my Ironman training (rather than assuming that my general fitness can get me through).
Emily and I drove to Mansfield, Ohio, on Friday night to stay with my Uncle Dave and Aunt Lori. My dad also drove up from Kansas to be present for my race. My mom, unfortunately, couldn't get the time off of work, so she missed it. I love my aunt and uncle, and of course my dad, and we had a great time on Friday night hanging out.
On Saturday, we had a yummy breakfast with Dave and Lori, then drove to Sandusky. We stopped at a Walmart along the way to get the fixings for a family barbecue that night, then continued on to Cedar Point. I reserved a cabin at Lighthouse Point (part of the Cedar Point resort complex) for the night, and I'm very glad that I did. The cabin was within a mile of all the race activities. Close enough to walk, but not conveniently. The cabin had a deck with a beautiful view of the lake and a fresh, bracing breeze. The beds were comfy and the cabin was spacious enough for five or six people. We had our own coffee maker, a mini fridge, a grill, and a microwave. The kind ladies at the Lighthouse Point office even let us check in 4 hours early, so we dropped all of our stuff off at the cabin and then went to the race expo.
I got my packet, timing chip, and goodie bag, took a look at the Rev3 kit (a very impressive spread, although not quite as impressive as what I've seen at actual Ironman events), and caught part of the athlete meeting. The goodie bag was the best I've seen in a long time! It came in a musette bag, and had lots of great things in it, rather than just coupons and pamphlets. In all, the free kit at this race made the whole affair a great value, especially when compared to IM 70.3 races that I've done (the entry fee on this one was about the same as IM KS 70.3, and included a T-shirt, finisher's visor, finisher's medal, saddle cover, and the musette bag).
Most of my dad's family lives within an hour drive of Sandusky, and all of them drove to Cedar Point to have a cook out with us that evening! We had a great time eating hamburgers and hot dogs, cheesy potatoes, and peach cobbler. Then we played board games and chatted together. Most of the family wasn't returning to watch me compete (it was a fairly long drive at a fairly early hour, and they all had church the next morning). So the time spent with them was really valuable! Having the opportunity to get together with family was the main reason that I chose this race as my 70.3 for the year.
Two of my cousins, Abby and Nancy, stayed at the cabin with me, Emily, and my dad. I let all of them sleep in the next morning while my dad and I went to the transition area to get me set up. I completely forgot about bringing stuff for breakfast (rookie mistake--one of many!), so I gummed down some leftover hot dog buns and one hot dog from the night before. I also had two cups of coffee, timed so that I would get my morning poo out of the way well before the start of my swim wave.
I set up my transition easily. I know it's silly, but I felt a little intimidated by all of the expensive bikes around me. It happens at every race, but it's a let-down to park my $350 Fuji Road Ace next to all of the sleek, carbon, TT bikes. I know that the engine matters more than the chassis, but I still feel like a poser with my little aluminum road bike--I don't even have aero bars on it!
I warmed up with a light jog around the area, went to the bathroom a couple of times, then headed to the beach with my dad. I put my wetsuit on and jogged around a little more to get the rubber loosened up. I haven't swam in my wetsuit in over a year (another rookie mistake), but Lake Erie would be unpleasantly cold without it, and I needed all the buoyancy help that I could get.
The water was ROUGH. Painfully rough, at least for a lake. Not as bad as Venice Beach in September, but still decidedly unpleasant. I even heard the elites talking about it (in the med tent, but we'll get to that later) after the race. No one had a great swim that day. I haven't dealt with waves (well, a little bit of chop in June in the Potomac river, but that didn't even compare) in . . . Well, it's probably been since I left L.A. (2007). But it's not like I wasn't going to do the race because the water was a little scary. They called my wave to line up, and I shuffled into the water with the other women under 40.
The Swim: 1.2 miles in 50:06 (11/17 in F25-29)
I had not done enough swim training. In particular, I hadn't done any long-distance swims, I hadn't done any open-water swims, and I hadn't swam in my wetsuit. And the waves. I know there is a way to swim in really choppy water, but I've never been good at it. As a result, I spent the first third of the course (the part going straight out from shore) swimming about 8 strokes, stopping to catch my breath and look around, then swimming another 4 strokes. I didn't take on a ton of water, but much more than I'm used to swallowing. Fortunately, Lake Erie is much cleaner than it was 10 years ago (and I should know, since I have an uncle who works at a water treatment facility on Lake Erie). The waves were probably 3-4 feet high. I've swam through higher (but again, not well). But I wasn't prepared or trained to keep swimming after a sudden drop of 4 feet. It was slow going. But you can tell from my position in my age group that it was slow going for everyone. There were still plenty of white swim caps around me, and I was passing swim caps from previous waves.
Once we turned the corner it got a little better, in that I could get into more of a rhythm and try to relax. But by that time, my low back was starting to bother me. Now that I'm not teaching yoga regularly I tend not to do yoga regularly, and my body's been paying the price. My right quadratul lumborem (low back) gets really tight, and it gives me trouble when I swim more than about 800 meters. It was bothering me on race day. This swim wasn't even about getting a decent time; it was 100% about making it through the swim.
The last third of the swim course, with the current at my back, wasn't as quick or easy as I'd hoped; I was counting on a little more help from the current than I got. Still, I was doing better than the people around me, who were disoriented by the feeling of push-pull from the waves. The last 400 meters seemed to take forever. I slipped on the beach exit, and was no help at all for the wetsuit strippers. I was glad to be out of the water and on to the bike, though.
The Bike: 56 miles in 3:34:05 (15.69 MPH, 12/17 in F25-29)
The bike course was lovely. Mostly flat, not as much wind as I expected so close to the coast of the lake, and a very nice temperature. Honestly, I don't remember much about it, other than just trying to enjoy myself. I brought three Honey Stinger waffles and two packs of Honey Stinger chews for my nutrition, and I lost two of them trying to get something to eat in the first 800 meters of the bike course. I'm glad I didn't get a penalty for littering, but I was very sad to see those waffles go. They taste much better than Powerbar gels.
I only have room on my bike for a single down-tube bottle. The frame is too small to have a seat tube bottle holder, and I won't use behind-the-seat bottle cages after my experience at my last 70.3 in Kansas (I lost most of my nutrition at that race, and it destroyed me). Fortunately, there were aid stations every 10 miles, so I got a full bottle and a gel at every station. That had me drinking 20 oz. of water and taking in 100 calories about every 45 minutes. I supplemented that with my remaining Honey Stinger chews, and ended up with 200-300 calories every hour. Based on what I've done in training, that was my goal.
My riding slowed down more and more as I got closer to the end. In the final five miles, I was (once again) focused solely on making it through. I already felt tired and spent; I had no idea how I was going to make myself run right off the bike.
The Run: 13.1 miles in 3:21:39 (15:24/mile, 14/17 in F25-29)
I surprised myself with the amount of energy that I had coming out of T2! It actually felt good to run. I was flummoxed, but enjoying the feelings. I did my best to restrain myself, because I knew that if I ran as fast as I felt I could at that point, I would pay for it later.
The first few miles of the race weren't bad. I walked the aid stations and took in as much as I dared at each one. At the mile 3 aid station, I passed up the opportunity to put on more sunscreen (another rookie mistake, and I paid dearly for it later!). Around mile 3, we got away from the lake and into the town of Sandusky. The blacktop was boiling hot, and there was no shade anywhere. I was not happy with the race directors for choosing this particular course.
Things took a turn for the worse around mile 5. I started feeling some GI distress, and I couldn't get any food or water in. I stopped at a toilet, and that helped a little. I walked for a while, and that helped a little. But my body was still too hot, and now I had a serious calorie problem, because I couldn't get any food in. I could barely get water in. I walked for the next mile or two.
I was able to start running again between miles 6 and 8, and I started to feel more optimistic. At that point, we were running through "downtown" Sandusky (more a Main street than a downtown, and totally deserted). There was a little bit of shade, here and there, and I ran in it as much as I could. I was starting to feel . . . crispy. I realized then that it was a mistake to pass up the sunscreen, as I was going to be out there much longer than I'd planned.
I was still having trouble taking in calories; even water felt like too much. I walked a lot, getting passed by people I'd passed earlier. Still, I saw plenty of people with half-distance numbers walking, too, as some of them were on their way out while I was on my way back. So at least I wasn't DFL. I was able to run off and on between miles 8 and 9, but I could feel the lugnuts coming loose. The wheels were going to come off; it was just a question of when.
By mile 10, I was toast. I was able to put on some sunscreen at an aid station around that time, and it probably did some good (since the last 3 miles probably took about an hour). By this point, I was checking my watch and doing math, trying to figure out if I could still make it in under the cut-off.
Those last 3 miles were brutal. I considered sitting down on the road and waiting for an ambulance many times. I walked the entire time, almost tripped on more than one occasion, and was preparing myself for the possibility that I might need to crawl part of the way. The last 30 minutes passed in a blur. Even during the last mile, I was still questioning my ability to finish.
I did finish, and was even able to muster a job for the last 200 yards through the finishing chute. I crossed the line, got hugs from my dad, Emily, and Dave and Lori, then headed straight for the medical tent.
Total: 70.3 miles in 7:51:02 (13/17 F25-29)
I don't know whether the cut-off was at 8:00:00 or 8:30:00, but I'm glad that I didn't have to find out. This time embarrasses me. I can't believe that it took me almost as long to cover 13.1 miles on foot as it did to cover 56 miles on a bike. I didn't train well enough, and I didn't respect the race enough. I neglected my swimming (especially open-water swimming), and lacked the endurance base to have a successful 70.3 experience.
But I did finish, and that in itself was a valuable accomplishment. And the experience and perspective that I gained was valuable. I don't think I've ever had to (or been able to) push myself so hard to finish a race. I'm empowered by having to dig so deep to get through the race.
I spent about 15 minutes in the med tent. Someone came over and checked my pulse, blood oxygenation, and blood pressure. They were all a little bit off of normal, but not dangerously so. I stayed horizontal on a cot, drinking as much water as I could, while my vitals came back down (or up, as the case may be). After 10 minutes, they checked on me again, and the numbers had improved. About that time, I got really cold, so they got me a blanket and a big cup of hot chicken broth.
I didn't realize this, but hot chicken broth is apparently magic. As soon as I started drinking that stuff, I felt instantly better. I felt warm, and my stomach settled down. I could get up and walk around. I had a little bit of energy. I knew that hot chicken broth is a staple of ultra endurance races, from the Ironman on up to ultra marathons, but I'd never experienced its healing power myself. It's magic. I'm going to remember that for next year.
I ended up with a pretty good sunburn, but it wasn't as bad as I expected, based on how I felt on the race course. It was sore for a couple of days, especially around my neck and under my right arm. After two days, it faded into a tan, and I didn't have very much peeling. With my fair skin, I was surprised at how quickly and painlessly it cleared up.
Although I liked this race, I did not enjoy the run course at all. It was boring. It was too exposed. And it offered too few opportunities for spectating and cheering. I think the run course should be altered in the future.
I didn't take advantage of discounted Cedar Point tickets, but I wish I would have! On Saturday, Cedar Point was closed for a private event (I think held by Honda for their employees), but racers and their families could get in. It would have been awesome to get to ride some rides and not have to wait through super long lines! I decided against doing that because I didn't want to be on my feet a lot the day before a race. If I had to do it over again, though, I would definitely have spent some time riding the roller coasters.
I'm very glad that I stayed at a Cedar Point resort, rather than off-site. It made getting around the morning of the race and after the race much easier. We also got validated parking, which saved $15. The cabins were great, with very nice views and wonderful amenities. They were also nice and quiet. Or at least our neighbors were quiet. We weren't, because we were playing board games.
I am considering doing this race again next year, but as an aqua bike instead of a triathlon. It will be about a month before Ironman Barcelona, so I think it would be good preparation if I did the full aquabike. Besides, cutting out the run would mean that I can spend lots of time on my feet at Cedar Point the day before!
Thursday, October 23, 2014
I made this recipe up, loosely based on Salisbury Steak and German meatballs. It turned out to be delicious!
1 lb. ground beef (I used 85/15)
1/4 cup caper juice with a few capers
1/4 cup oatmeal (quick oats or regular)
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper to taste Start with 1/4 cup of caper juice with a few capers (~12) in a big bowl. Add in the oatmeal, and toss to absorb the juice. Add 1 lb. ground beef, onion, and pepper, and mix with hands.
Mash the butter into the egg, along with some salt and pepper. Add the thyme, garlic powder, and salt and pepper on top, then mix again with your hands.
Divide the meat mixture into 4 equal parts, and form them into oval-shaped patties. Preheat a pan on medium-high heat. Add the patties. Allow them to cook 3-4 minutes on each side.
If you'd like to make a sauce, use wine or wine-based vinegar to deglaze the pan. I used white wine vinegar, cut with a little bit of water and a dash of worcestershire sauce, but I think red wine vinegar or cooking sherry would be even better. Scrape the pan to release all the browned bits. Add some sliced mushrooms, green bell peppers, and capers. Simmer until the sauce reduces by half. I added in some corn starch at the end to thicken it up. Finish the patties off by cooking them in the sauce, or pour it all over the top.
I served these with sliced, roasted sweet potatoes and sliced, baked zucchini. Delicious!
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
My roommate and I have both felt a little . . . weighed down, so to speak. Before we moved to Virginia in May, we were both working low-wage jobs where high-calorie food was readily available. I ate a few too many hot dogs and taquitos, and she ate a few too many comped meals (not to mention cheesecake slices). We'd been making much healthier decisions since moving, but we were maintaining weight when we really needed to lose some.
We'd been kicking around the idea of trying a stricter eating routine for a short duration, like six weeks. We decided to take the two months until Thanksgiving to lose as much weight as we can. Primarily, we agreed to swap out a starch at dinner (I normally cook a tried-and-true combo of protein, starch, and vegetable) for a second vegetable, and choose leaner meats. We minimized processed grain options (including breads, crackers, and other flour-based foods), and tried to cut out industrialized foods as much as possible (although Emily does still take Weight Watchers frozen meals to work for lunch, sometimes). We also allow ourselves one "splurge" day per week, every Saturday. Normally, Saturdays involve pizza delivery, diet soda, and beer. There may have been a trip to On the Border, as well.
So far, the plan has been very successful! In the past three weeks, I lost three pounds and Emily lost seven. This past week has represented a departure from the plan, however; I think we're both getting a little burned out. PMS may also play a role. We've decided to have a recovery week every fourth week. We don't eat whatever we want, by any means, but we have eaten more, and we bought a loaf of bread the other night. We'll see if this week undoes what we've accomplished in the past month of hard work.
The biggest challenge for me is in balancing my calorie expenditure with my calorie intake. Especially during the first two weeks, I'd eat about the same number of calories on really heavy workout days (i.e. teaching cycling, lifting weights, and a hilly run) as on easy days (i.e. just teaching yoga). I felt weak and tired and unmotivated for a few days, until I remembered that I have to cut caloric intake in relation to my exercise level. Since then, I've felt fine.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
This past year's training bordered on disastrous. I lost three months of prime base building time to sickness and injury. I just barely managed to get in enough training to complete a half iron distance race in September. And that was a bit of a stretch. The last 5 miles of my half marathon were sheer torture, and I questioned whether it might be better to sit down and wait for an ambulance to pick me up.
Still, I got through it, and my training has taken a turn for the better.
I did finish the triathlon season with two or three months of consistent, disciplined training. I've been able to maintain consistent running and cross training since my triathlon season ended at the beginning of September. I'm confident in my ability to prepare my body and mind for an Ironman in 2015.
After Rev3 Cedar Point on September 8, I gave myself two full weeks off. The only exercise I did was teaching cycling, yoga, and water aerobics classes. After those two weeks, I started easing back in to running, with a goal of averaging 15 miles per week for the next month. I planned to do a 5k in October, a 10k in November, and a full marathon (my first!) in March. My plan was to see if I could still run (relatively) fast, gradually build a run base again, and start marathon training at the end of November.
I did a 5k a couple of weekends ago, and surprised myself with my time (27:57, after "running" a 3-hour-plus half marathon at the end of my 70.3). It hurt, in the way that races do, but it's such a short-term pain; 5 minutes after crossing the line feeling like death, I was ready to run another one.
I plan to do a 10k the weekend before Veteran's Day, if I can find one nearby. And I'm signed up for the Shamrock Sports Weekend in Virginia Beach on March 20. I'm excited that the sponsor for the race is Yuengling. I love Yuengling lager. It's like PBR, but from Pennsylvania instead of Wisconsin (PBR is from Wisconsin, right?). That will be my first full marathon. I'm using a basic plan adapted from Run Less, Run Faster, plus a four-week build-up from my current 15 miles per week to 25 miles per week. I'm teaching two cycling classes a week and taking one water aerobics class (with a client) for cross-training. That means I'm basically getting paid to train; I'm practically a professional athlete, here.
I've noticed a lot more soreness and cramping, so I'm also trying to incorporate more weight-lifting, corrective exercise, yoga, and self-myofascial-release. You would think that it wouldn't be so difficult to make myself do these things, considering that I am a personal trainer by trade and spend a good amount of my time at a gym. Alas, it's just as difficult for me to make myself get on a foam roller or a weight bench as it is to get my clients to do it.
So that's what I'll be doing for the next six months. I'm eyeing Ironman Barcelona for 2015. I'll let you know when I pull the trigger and plunk down my 650 Euros!
Monday, October 20, 2014
Taught this profile a few weeks back at my 6:00 a.m. Monday spin class. It was hit with the group, and it gave me a good workout, so I thought I'd share! Click the link below to download.
S&H6 - Chase & Pursuit
Nothing at All - Third Day (90 BPM)
Sober - P!nk (91 BPM)
Love the Way You Lie - Eminem (87 BPM)
Fistful of Sand - The Bravery (103 BPM)
Take on Me - A-Ha (168 BPM)
Walk This Way - Aerosmith (104 BPM)
Midnight Show - The Killers (140 BPM)
Acqua 'nfunn a Via - Enzo Avitabile (93 BPM)
Toxic - Brittney Spears (143 BPM)
Even Flow - Pearl Jam (103 BPM)
Feel Good, Inc. - The Gorillaz (144 BPM)
For a Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic - Paramore (206 BPM)
City of New Orleans - Arlo Guthrie (76 BPM)
One Sweet Love - Sara Bareilles (100 BPM)
Spin & Smile!
Sunday, October 19, 2014
I found this race in the local, free running magazine, Run Washington. One of the great things about living in such a dense, metropolitan area is the multitude of resources available to niche groups. One of the downsides is all the people. But I digress.
This 5k is held in Centreville, about a half hour drive from where we live. My roomie, Emily, wanted to do the race with me. Race day goal number one was to wake her up early enough for us to drive to Centreville, pick up our race packets, and warm up (she's not usually an early riser). The day was cloudy, cool, and rainy, which I consider perfect weather for an October XC race.
We got lost trying to find packet pick-up, because I trusted GPS for directions over e-mailed instructions from the race directors. I really need to ween myself off of Google Maps. When we pulled in to park, I realized (thanks to the signs warning that XC meet parking would be $5) that this race is held as part of a larger high school XC invitational. I love watching high school and college XC meets, so I was excited to (almost, kind of) be a part of one.
Packet pick-up included a very nice, day-glo yellow, dry-fit T-shirt and a commemorative race pin. Not bad, although the entry fee was more than I'm used to for a 5k ($35). There were a beautifully excessive number of porta-johns at the race site. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I made use of them multiple times before, during, and after my warm-up. I'd had a lot of water (and maybe a beer or two) the night before.
During my warm-up, I noticed a stocky, Asian woman about my age. She wore running shorts with a matching singlet, and held herself in a--how do I put this delicately?--gay way. I'm serious. She was clearly a lesbian. I'd found my nemesis (please note that this was because of her age, not her supposed sexual preferences).
We got to line up in the staging area for the race. I bounced around, trying to stay warm, like a happy bunny while Emily stood staring at me sullenly. She still wasn't quite awake. We finally got the call to take our marks, then we were off. I held back in the first 150 meters, letting the faster runners go in front of me. Most of the first quarter mile went downhill, and I enjoyed stretching my legs out. The race was laid out in three loops, each about a mile long. I imagine that's because the high school races are run at different lengths for different groups. The ground was soft, not too muddy, although there were a few sloppy puddles that we all had to run around. There were a few short climbs, and some absolutely brutal long ones. It was a cool course, and I enjoyed it.
I started off at a comfortable pace, and ramped it up through the first lap. I passed a lot of people, including my nemesis, within the first mile. I never saw my nemesis again, either, so I did not choose well in terms of race-long motivation. The second mile took a lot out of me; it was mostly uphill, and some of the hills were quite steep. I made up as much time as possible on the downhills, and I was getting passed now and then. There was a little boy who looked about seven who ran right past me. He stayed within reach the whole time, but the one time I tried to pass him, he put on a little kick and kept me away. What a competitor!
One woman, a short, slight, black woman whom I passed in the first mile, came back to me somewhere around the end of mile 2. She passed me, but I kept her within reach. I passed her back on a long, downhill section, but she was able to stay in touch, too. I gradually ramped up my pace to try and drop her, but she kept with me. Finally, I had given all I could at that faster pace, and I had to pull back. She passed me and ran off. It was great, though! It felt like I was actually racing someone, and she definitely pushed me to run faster than I would have run without her!
I crossed the line in 27:57, and felt like I'd given all that I could. I used this race as a measurement tool. I've done slow, zone 2 running almost exclusively this year. My 10k times in my olympic races have been upwards of an hour, and my half marathon time at Rev3 Cedar Point . . . I don't even want to talk about it. I haven't trained myself for hard, fast running, and I've kind of forgotten how to push myself to that level of pain. So I wanted to get a reading on how fast I could run a short race, at this point.
I exceeded my expectations. I was really hoping to be able to run in the low nines, and I managed to run almost exactly nine-minute-miles at this race, on a challenging course and off-road, no less! I'm very happy with my performance. I won 2nd in my age group (F25-29, taking into account that two of the top three overall women were in my age group), and my time would have placed me well in the 30-something categories, too. The 40-somethings, though, were all 21 minutes in change. I would have been way out of contention if I were 20 years older! Isn't that amazing?
I was really happy with this course, the organization, the race amenities (the pictures they took are amazing, and free!), and the atmosphere of the race. Something about going off-road seems to make people a little more laid-back; I've noticed it at XC races and at CX (cyclo-cross) races. There was none of the preening that I've seen at other races and from other athletes (cough, triathletes, cough), and there's no high-tech or expensive gear to show off. I think XC and CX races might be my favorites.
By the way, Emily finished in 33:38 in her first 5k, her first XC race, and her second event ever!
Saturday, October 18, 2014
You might assume I forgot that I ever had a blog.