Monday, September 30, 2013
I signed up for this race shortly after completing the Shawnee Mission Triathlon in July. I've set some goals (which I'll share in subsequent blog posts) that have compelled me to dip my toes back into triathlon. So I'm training again, and enjoying it, and I can justify racing (because I know that I'll enjoy that, too). I've never participated in the OMC Women's Triathlon, but I've been to the race before, to support a client who chose the OMC Women's Tri as her first multisport event. I was impressed with the race that I saw, and I've had good experiences with the Johnson County Department of Parks and Recreations before (Shawnee Mission is another of their races). So the OMC Women's Tri seemed to suit my needs.
I went to the Olathe Medical Center to pick up my packet on Friday afternoon. Packet pick-up was . . . interesting. You know how at most triathlons you wear your most epic race shirt, because you need everyone to see that you've completed an Ironman, or a 70.3, or a 50-miler, or whatever? It's a very specific brand of posturing. That's the dynamic that I'm used to at packet pick-ups, and it's what I was expecting on Friday. Instead, I arrived at packet pick-up noticeably underdressed. 80% of the women I saw were wearing bermuda shorts, polo shirts, and full make-up! I felt a little out-of-place. The volunteers were a little snarky, too. They acted impatient with me the whole time. I've never had an experience at any triathlon even remotely similar to that!
After picking up my packet, I went to the gym with a friend for some light weightlifting and stretching, then out to a nice dinner at McCoy's in Kansas City. I put all my TriTat stickers on my equipment, and saved the tattoos for the next morning. I didn't get to sleep as early as I should have, and I had trouble waking up the next morning. But it didn't take much time to get everything together.
I arrived at Kill Creek Park and set my stuff up within 10 minutes. After I laid out all of my equipment, I realized that I'd left my timing chip at home. I've never done that before. I indulged in about 5 minutes of heavy stress before I went to the same-day packet pick-up desk and confessed my sin to the volunteer there. She got me a new timing chip, gave me a new number, and told me to take off my race number tattoos and apply the new ones. And that was it. Very manageable consequences for a very stupid mistake.
Also, the packet pick-up volunteers on race day? Super friendly and helpful! Maybe it was something about the packet pick-up location . . . maybe medical centers make people nervous.
500 m in 9:47 (1:48/100 yd)
The 29-and-unders went off last in the swim waves. They sent us off in pairs, ostensibly to reduce congestion at the swim start. If that was the primary aim, it totally failed. That said, I should have pushed my way to the front of the line, to avoid having to swim through all the athletes in front of me who walked as far into the lake as possible before they started swimming. I dove in right away and swam as far to the side of them as I could. I never got much clear water; it was always arms, legs, and torsos to either side and sometimes right under me.
Several times, I swam right on top of women who were doing the head-up breaststroke before I even realized they were there. Poor women. They probably freaked out when they felt me on their backs. I literally had to pull myself over and around these women. I don't know how to solve this problem, but the race organizers definitely need to re-evaluate the procedure for sending off swimmers. We all signed a waiver acknowledging that we can do at least 50 m of swimming, but something needs to be done to separate out the women for whom that represents the upper limit of their swimming abilities.
All that said, my pace was the fastest I've ever swam in any race! Yay!
Not a long run to transition, but it was uphill through sand! Ew! And I broke my sunglasses. They fell off of my helmet while I was putting it on, and the lenses split right down the middle. But I fiddled with them until they stayed on my head, and I was off!
10.6 mi bike in 40:26 (15.7 MPH)
I thought that Shawnee Mission had the toughest bike course around, but I learned otherwise on Saturday! The OMC Women's Tri course is an absolute leg-buster! It features continuously rolling hills plus wind. The hills are spaced just far enough apart to guarantee that you can't get into a rhythm, and can't use the momentum of one hill to get up the next. Plus, wind! I haven't had to deal with significant wind since . . . well, since the last time I rode out on Kansas roads! Shawnee Mission provides a more sheltered environment, relatively free from the dreaded Kansas Hill (i.e. the wind). This race had Kansas Hills AND actual hills! It was an unfair combination. And it shows in my average speed!
3 mi run in 27:09 (9:03/mile)
By the time I got through transition, my legs were already cooked. I sped through T2, but as soon as I hit the actual run course, the reality of the bike ride caught up with my legs. The run course almost equaled the bike course in shear brutality. We started with a long, gradual uphill, then a long, gradual downhill. The downhill sounds great, but in reality all I could think was, "I have to run back up this hill later." There was lots of support and cheering on the entire course, though. And even though the course was difficult, it was also a great run course--challenging, with varied terrain. Plus, the finish line was at the bottom of a hill!
I'm surprised by my run time. I swear I wasn't running better than a twelve-minute pace for the whole run. But this is the best pace I've posted in at least the last year. Yay again!
1:19:47, 5 out of 42 F25-29, 64 out of 337 overall
I'm really happy with my performance, and with the race itself. It was a challenging race, a fun race. I'm not sure how I feel about the all-female field. I think it's a great notion, but I don't know that I want to do a race that's geared solely towards women. It's a little too girly for me. Although the women's cut race shirt was a very nice change from the bulky, sheath-like shirts I normally get at races. And it was great to see women of all shapes and sizes and ages competing, whether it was their first time or their fiftieth. It's also great to see how I stack up against the other women in this area, without the interference of the less-fair sex. And I got a trophy!
I'll probably do this race again, although not next year--I have my eyes set on a different race for September 2014. But I'll have to tell you more about that later.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
I created this workout for athletes who don't have much time, but still want a hard workout. It provides an intense, 30-minute workout with a focus on accelerating to pass. Since the RPMs stay fairly low, it works well on an indoor trainer, although it's also great for use on a spinning bike. Plan to warm up and cool down on your own.
Short Set 1
Wake Up - Alanis Morisette (98 BPM)
Desperately Wanting - Better Than Ezra (100 BPM)
Walk Like an Egyptian - The Bangles (102 BPM)
Walk This Way - Aerosmith (104 BPM)
Cocaine - Eric Clapton (105 BPM)
Are You Gonna be my Girl - Jet (105 BPM)
Black Horse and the Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall (104 BPM)
If I Ever Leave this World Alive - Flogging Molly (105 BPM)
Note: After purchasing the workout, I will send you an e-mail with instructions on how to download.
This is one of my paid workouts. Looking for the free workouts? Go here!
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
I signed up for Shawnee Mission this year in hopes that having an event on the calendar would inspire me to train.
It didn't really work.
The result was that I went into the race without having trained much. I wasn't worried about it. I would be slower than I have been in the past, and I was okay with that. The main thing was to go out and have a great time.
My parents drove up from Wichita just to see me race, too! It was an opportunity to race, and a great chance to spend time with my family.
I drove up to Kansas City on Saturday, after checking the cows and sheep. I got to spend most of the afternoon and evening with my parents. We went to Minsky's Pizza for dinner. My dad and I enjoyed watching le Tour on Versus in their hotel room. I am a fan of any hotel that offers Versus as part of its cable package! I stayed up too late, though; I didn't leave them until almost 10:00 p.m., and then had a good half hour drive back to my friend's apartment, where I was spending the night.
I barely slept all night, but that's normal. I make a point of getting extra sleep for several nights before a race, because I always have trouble sleeping the night before a race. Starting time was later this year, because the Challenged Athletes got the earliest start times. As a result, we took our time in the morning, and didn't arrive at the race site until about 6. I drank some coffee on the way, and felt the effects about the time we were pulling into the parking lot. I wanted to walk down with my family, but ended up zooming down on my bike to find some port-a-johns!
Set-up in the transition zone was seamless. The pre-assigned rack spaces were the most spacious I've ever seen at any triathlon! We all had plenty of room, which reduced the stress of setting up my space. I must be getting old, though, because I could hardly stand the banter of my age-group. Too chipper too early in the morning. I went to hang out with my friend, Karlene, in the old ladies' rack space. Karlene drove up from Wichita for the race. I didn't know she was coming, so it was a real treat to see her at packet pick-up on Saturday!
Swim: 21:56 (1:01/100 yd)
My last pool swim was back in March, at the Chillicothe YMCA (I'm not a member, but my friend Claire is). My main concern had been endurance, but after knocking out a 500 with no problem, I figured I didn't really need to train. I did get in some lake swimming in May, and I've played around in our ponds on hot days. I hadn't done any serious swimming in months.
My main issue was not endurance, but flexibility. About 600 meters in, the right side of my neck started cramping. I went to bilateral breathing, and had trouble turning my head to the left at first. After it loosened up, the bilateral breathing helped. Considering how little swim training I had going into this race, I was pleased with my performance. This is only 32 seconds off of my swim PR at this race!
As always, a long, uphill run to the transition area. I took my swim cap and goggles off on the run up, grabbed two GUs and put on my helmet, and then I was off onto the brutal, 18-mile bike.
Bike: 1:05:39 (16.4 MPH)
Compared to previous years, I lost the most time on the bike. In my best year, 2011, I completed the 18 miles in 56:24! Like with my swim, I hadn't been cycling for at least a month. My heart and lungs had the fitness, but my muscles lacked the strength, especially on this tough, hilly course.
Perhaps just as significantly, I sold my Specialized Transition to bolster my savings for my move to the farm last July. My Fuji Ace weighs in at 23 lbs, a full 5 lbs heavier than my Transition. I probably brought an extra 5 lbs to the hills this year, too.
Shawnee Mission is always brutal on the bike, but I was only there for fun, so I tried to stay light and easy on the steep hills and enjoy the downhills. I tried to tamp down my competitive instinct, and not chase every woman with a "25" on her calf who passed me. I resigned myself to a middle-of-the-pack finish, and prioritized having fun over kicking butt.
T2: 58 seconds
For the first time ever, a volunteer told me to speed up coming into the dismount area.
Run: 52:08 (11:37/mile)
Ick. The Shawnee Mission run course takes it out of me every year, but over 11:00/mile? Yeesh.
I hadn't run in over a month. Go figure. The best I can say about my run performance was that I didn't walk.
In 2011, my best year, I finished in 2:02:29, almost 20 minutes faster than this year! I don't mind, though. This race was for fun. I dipped my toe back into the pool of triathlon, to see if I still like it, and the race accomplished its purpose. Well, it accomplished that purpose. The original purpose was to keep me motivated to train, and that totally didn't work.
I didn't bother staying around for the awards. I figured that, with my performance, I didn't need to bother. But--lo and behold!--I got an e-mail from the race organizers last week, asking where to send my trophy! I finished 4th out of 8 in my division (better than I expected, honestly), so someone in my division must have placed overall.
I finished 31 out of 51 females, and 185 out of 229 athletes. In the bottom half of the results, in other words. Doesn't seem like I should get a trophy for that, does it?
I wanted to see if I still like triathlon, if I should still do it. I didn't have the burning bush revelation that I wanted. But I realized that I still enjoy racing, and I think it's worth continuing to spend a little bit of time and money and energy on it.
Triathlon makes me a bad-ass. But women's rugby and farming are also pretty bad-ass endeavors. So if I let go of one bad-ass endeavor, it's alright; I have back-ups.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Monday, May 20, 2013
- Organic chickens are raised on organic feed (the grains and supplements that make up their feed have been grown organically without pesticides, irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, or genetically-modified organisms/GMOs), are never given hormones or antibiotics, and are provided access to the outdoors. Organic chickens are good. But, although they have access to the outdoors, they may not ever venture outside; they still eat a grain-based ration almost exclusively; and they can still be housed in over-crowded intensive production facilities.
- Free-range chickens are chickens who are raised with access to the outdoors. Again, this doesn't necessarily mean that the chickens go outside; it means only that they could if they wanted to. Free-range chickens are still raised in houses, and their outdoor access is usually limited to a small yard. Because of the nature of chicken poop, even if their ranging yard begins as verdant pasture, it soon turns into a hard clay surface. Free-range chickens still derive all of their nutrition from a grain-based ration; they can still be housed in over-crowded facilities; and you don't have the guarantee that they've been fed organic or non-GMO feed, or are antibiotic and growth-hormone free. Still better than Tyson chickens, though.
- Cage-free eggs are produced by hens who are not confined to cages. That means they can engage in many natural chicken behaviors. Again, it's better than your standard grocery store eggs. But cage-free chickens aren't necessarily given access to the outdoors; they're still usually overcrowded in large production facilities; de-beaking is allowed (that's where producers cut off the beaks to prevent chickens from cannibalizing each other due to over-crowding and stress); and there's no third-party auditing system to ascertain how the animals are being treated.
- Pastured chickens are cleaner. There's less poop on their feathers, less poop on their skin, less poop on their feet, less poop in their intestines. At standard, USDA-inspected facilities, the poop on skin, feathers, and feet comes off in the scalding water and chill tanks and gets re-absorbed into the chicken meat. Gross.
- Pastured chickens have better taste and texture. They move around and get more exercise than confinement house chickens, so they have better muscle tone. That contributes to a more chicken-y flavor and firmer, meatier texture.
- Pastured chickens have higher omega-3 fatty acid content, lower fat and saturated fat levels, and higher levels of essential vitamins and minerals (notably vitamins A and E).
- Pastured chickens are never fed arsenic as an appetite stimulant or preventative antibiotic.
- Pasturing chickens puts vital nutrients into the ground as all-natural fertilizer in small amounts that can be readily absorbed by the soil.
- Purchasing pastured chicken helps your local agricultural community, and farmers like me!