Thursday, December 30, 2010

Strength for Swimmers

Hey all. Here's a little video with some strength and flexibility exercises for your swimming. Keep in mind that in between now and when you start your base building phase you have the perfect opportunity to improve your strength and flexibility in ways that will make your training more effective later. So take advantage of this time by starting to do these exercises in the next month or two!


By the way, the little noises in the background are The Photographer's kids :-)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Triathlete Yoga

This is Rich. He's a triathlete. He's in Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose).
Doesn't he look like he's having fun?
I know this will be relevant to a relatively small sector of my readership, but I do want to get the information out there.

I've organized a yoga program especially for endurance athletes (runners, cyclists, swimmers, triathletes). It will focus on flexibility in the hips and legs, strength in the body, proprioceptive awareness, and mental focus. I think it will be a great way to train the brain for racing! More importantly, you'll be under the tutelage of an instructor who knows a great deal about endurance sports, yoga, AND the biomechanics of of both.

Classes will begin Saturday, Jan. 15, at 11:30 a.m. Location will be 3725 W. 13th St., Wichita, KS (this is the Genesis location on West 13th). Athletes who don't have a Genesis membership are welcome to join the class! It will include 6 sessions (1 each Saturday) and the cost is $65 ($50 if you're already a member of Genesis Health Club).

I will offer two free preview classes, so you can get a sense of what benefit the class might provide. The first will be Sunday, Jan. 2, at 1:00 p.m. (location will be the Rock Road Genesis, 1551 N. Rock Rd., Wichita, KS); the second will be Saturday, Jan. 8, at 11:30 a.m. (3725 W. 13th St., again). Again, both classes are free! No sign-up is necessary, although if you've never been to a Genesis Health Club, you will need to fill out a guest waiver for liability purposes, so allow time for that. Wear comfortable clothes (they don't have to be "yoga" clothes), dress in layers, and bring a yoga mat if you have one (we have spares, if you don't have one).

If you have any questions (or need to be convinced that this class series will help you, because it most definitely will), please feel free to e-mail me: trihardist@trihardist.com.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Closing Down

So I was going to do one last race, this season.

But I've changed my mind.

I don't really want to do the Derby Rock 'n' Route Tri. Don't get me wrong--it's a great race! I highly recommend it! But you know what? I'm ready to be done with tris for a while. Right now, I'm teaching spinning classes and water aerobics and yoga, and I'm happy with that. I feel no desire to swim or bike or run. Well, maybe a little desire. But not enough to want to train and race.

Yes, I'm sure I'll come back to the sport, eventually. Endurance will be a part of my life again. But right now I just need a break. And I'm ready to give myself some space to take it.

Not sure what I'll do with the blog, now. Probably continue with the cycling workouts. Maybe do a post on biomechanics or form, if I'm in the mood to get all technically minded. And I might come back to do some cyclocross later this year. We'll see.

Right now, the Photographer is running and biking and getting into all kinds of shape. And I will be doing just enough training to keep up with her. I'm very happy with that.

Very happy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Race Report: El Dorado Triathlon

I had fun!!!!!

That was the main goal, and mission accomplished. I felt so blah after the Lawrence half, where I didn't meet my goals, and at Emporia, where I totally did, that I was afraid I might be done with triathlon for an extended period. Like a year or two. But this race may have changed my mind. At any rate, I didn't take myself too seriously. Actually, I probably should have taken myself slightly more seriously, as we'll soon see.

Pre-race
Well . . . I probably should have looked at the web site a little more frequently. I woke up at 5:20 Sunday morning (after hitting the snooze button 3 or 4 times), and realized that I was supposed to pick up my packet in El Dorado on Saturday; there was no day-of packet pick up. Whoops #1. The Photographer met me at my house (erm, my parents' house) to ride over to El Dorado together. I'm sure I was a trial to ride with. I was tight and nervous the whole time, worried that I wouldn't get to race because I hadn't picked up my packet on time. She kept telling me to relax and not worry; it would be fine, either way.

I also wasn't quite sure where I was going. I hadn't been to El Dorado Lake for about 18 years. Actually, I'm not sure I'd ever been to El Dorado Lake. Sure, I know where it is (roughly), because you drive over it on I-35 on the way to Kansas City. So I used my magic phone (Blackberry) to go to the race web site and find directions. Whoops #2.

While on the race web site, I noticed that the sprint race started at 8:00. Not 8:30, which is what I'd thought, what I'd planned for. That meant that the olympic race started at 7:00. Not 7:30. So not only had I not picked up my race packet the day before, I had timed the drive so that I would arrive approximately 10 minutes before the race actually started. Um, annoying, much? Whoops #3.

In short, the pre-race ritual was highly stressful. Which turned out to be completely silly. Because I walked up to the body marking table, they asked me my name, gave me my packet, and wrote my numbers on me. No questions asked. No comments or reprimands. No wheedling or pleading. So. Frickin'. Cool.

From there, everything went smoothly. I deliberately brought my road bike--not my tri bike!--so that I wouldn't take myself so seriously. Consequentially, I had my SPD cyclocross shoes instead of my tri shoes. Which meant that I (like a n00b) would have to actually sit my butt down on the ground, pull my shoes on, run out of transition in my shoes, and then clip in. Like a plebeian. And I was stoked about it.

I didn't warm up; I didn't listen to my pre-game music. I stood around and talked with my friends and The Photographer. 10 minutes before my race started, I realized that I hadn't lubed my running shoes (I was still going without socks; after all, I do have some pride). Not only that, the packet of Body Glide I had brought for that purpose was still sitting in my running shoe. Where I'd put it. So I wouldn't forget to lube my shoes. I checked the time. 10 'til. Well, one more thing to make sure that I don't take myself too seriously in transition!

I did swim about 100 yards out and back before the swim start. So. You know. Kind of a warm up.

Swim: 500 m, 13:52 (2:07/100)
Well, the swim course was (I was told) measured long. But who cares? I had fun! The men did a beach start for the swim, but apparently that's too tough for the girlie girls; we started knee deep in water. And they didn't specify how far out into the water we could go before the start, so I suppose I should have kept walking out into the water. Maybe then it would have been closer to 500 m.

I got a pretty decent start, going out fast in the first 50, then settling in. I felt strong and confident, if not necessarily fast. The lake was small and still. Sighting was a breeze. I felt like I got left behind, towards the beginning, but then I can never really tell in the scrum of an open water swim. I do know that I passed several people towards the end, and probably would have passed more if the swim had been longer than 500. I came out as the 7th woman. 15th fastest swim, overall.

T1: 50 seconds
Even with sitting down to put on my bike shoes, I still had the 5th fastest T1 time. Huh. Go figure.


Bike: 39:40 (18.8 MPH)
Eh, not bad. This was where I felt strongest and most capable, and I was hoping to average at least 20 MPH. But it was all fun, so why would I complain? I was the 5th fastest woman, so I guess I'm okay with that. Especially since I haven't trained since the half ironman! Unless you count cycling classes (which I don't, because they're my job). Or the ride I did last weekend where I averaged 13.9 MPH. Which was fun, but--again!--I don't think those count. And at any rate, I had a mess of fun.

T2: 50 seconds
Well, 15 seconds wasn't that fast, coming from bike to run. But remember when I forgot to lube my shoes? I sat down and smeared chamois butter all over my ankles so I wouldn't have chafing on my ankles. Also, I couldn't get my race belt to clip.

Run: 5k, 29:51 (9:38/mile)
Oofh. So slow. But you know how I didn't train on the bike at all in the 3 weeks before this race? Yeah, I trained even less for the run. I literally had not run more than a quarter of a mile since my half ironman. And it was hot. Oh! And I got a horribly bad blister on my right instep after about 2 miles. It was so bad that I ended up taking my shoes off and running the last mile in bare feet. I stepped on a thorn, at one point, so I had to slow down and take that out. And I also dropped my shoe and had to go back for it. So those things have got to account for at least a little bit of time.

I passed another woman right before the turn-around, and really turned on the gas to try to psych her out. But she passed me back after I took my shoes off. I passed one other woman in the last mile, and we leap-frogged (leapt-frog? leaped frog?) over the next few hundred meters, as I sat down to pull the thorn out of my foot and went back to pick up my dropped shoe. I finally passed her for good before the last two turns to the finish line.

Within the last 10 meters, as I was thinking How strong do I want to kick?, I heard from behind me, "I'm gonna beat you, Jamie!" It was my friend (and former employee), Erin Clair, in her triathlon debut. She outkicked me by a nose, but I guess my timing chip got across the line before hers did, because I came in ahead of her in the results. We had the exact same time, though. Exact same time. I was so pissed (but not really, because I wasn't taking myself that seriously). I did throw a shoe at her.

Total: 1:25:01
Not a bad little race. I had a good, good time. There were lots of people I knew. There was a small but respectable field. The Photographer was there. And I achieved my only goal: have fun.

Friday, June 11, 2010

IMKS 70.3 Video!

From (you guessed it) The Photographer :-D

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Race Report: IM 70.3 KS 2010

Okay, so this race wasn't all I hoped it would be. I didn't reach my goals. I didn't have a great race, or even a good race. But I'm over it now, and I finally feel ready to break it down. Let's try to figure out where I went wrong.

Pre-race
By far the best part of the weekend. The Photographer and I headed up to Lawrence Friday night, set up camp, and settled in for an awesome time. Dinner was baked potatoes and chicken rubbed with herbs and pan-grilled over an open flame (provided by yours truly's awesome wilderness survival skills). Temperature was just right--not too hot, not too cold.

Saturday was too hot. Biggest mistake I made was taking my T-shirt off, without considering the fact that I didn't have sunblock on my shoulders, stomach, or back. I got a little crispy. Activities included registration and check-in, an athlete meeting (at which we learned that the water was too warm for wetsuits--yay!), swimming in the lake (temperature was just right), and bike check-in/body marking (which is pointless the day before; my numbers always rub off). Saturday night, my teammate and her family joined us at the campsite, and we finished the evening with yoga, cous cous, grilled bell peppers, and Italian sausage.

Sunday morning dawned cooler--downright, cold, relative to the day before. First thing I did was put on my warm ups. I went through the process of lubing, dressing, sunblocking, and dropping everything I needed off in transition. Race seemed a little less well-organized this year than last year; getting through the maul of people trying to enter T1 was downright dangerous. I've never before cut it so close with my pre-race prep, in terms of getting everything done before transition closed. I borrowed a guy's bike pump right at the last minute to check my tire pressure (good thing, too).

I really had to go to the bathroom, but of course there weren't enough johns to go around. So I stood in line for 20 minutes until I decided that I couldn't wait any longer, at which point I figured I would go after the swim, and started stuffing myself into my wetsuit. Oh yeah! Did I mention that water temperature the day of the race was 77.5* F? So wetsuit legal. I seriously debated whether or not to wear mine, but decided in the end to take the advantage of buoyancy and lower drag, at the risk of overheating. The swim waves started a good 10 minutes late with the pros. I was in wave 8, and was rushing down at the last minute (again, because I'd hoped to get into the potty before I had to swim). I had a random stranger zip me into my wetsuit. I returned the favor. Then it was into the water.

Swim: 1.2 miles, 41:16 (2:08/100 m; last year 39:34)
I think the wetsuit was a mistake. Despite the supposed advantages of swimming in a wetsuit, I would much prefer swimming without one, given the choice. I find the suit constricting for my arms and shoulders. I suppose I should invest in a sleeveless suit, if that's the case. But that takes money, and money is something that I would prefer to spend on race entry fees, right now. At any rate, I had issues with the wetsuit. The first was that it was chafing the sunburn I got all around my mid-section the day before. I had an itchy, burny patch on either side of my low back that started to hurt about a third of the way in.

I didn't have any of the problems I had last year. My goggles didn't fog over. I had no trouble sighting. I didn't get caught by the next swim waves and swum over. I felt smooth and strong and confident the whole way out and back. Which is why I'm surprised that my time was slower than last year. I guess there was a little bit of chop, and a little bit of a current on the way back. But I don't know that it was enough to make up for that 1:30 that I lost over last year. Even so, I felt strong coming out of the water, and good about my swim.

T1: 3:33 (last year, 2:56)
But I had to poop. Bad. First thing out of the water, I stripped off my wetsuit and headed for the nearest port-a-john. Fortunately there wasn't a line. I did my business as quickly as possible, and finished exiting my wetsuit right outside the toilet. I ran to my bike (doing my best elite impression and passing all the slow-poke walkers). Then it took me for-ev-er to get all my stuff together for the bike leg. I had trouble getting my helmet and sunglasses lined out, then had trouble getting my spare tube, tire levers, and frame pump into my back pocket. I couldn't get my race belt to snap. I wasn't shaking or anything, but with the clumsiness I demonstrated, I felt downright palsied. So in spite of foregoing socks and having all of my nutrition on my bike ahead of time, I still had a slower transition than last year. But, you know. Pooping.

Bike: 56 miles, 3:01:59 (18.5 MPH, last year 2:56:32)
And this is where the wheels started to come off. I did okay for the first 25 miles or so. I was following my nutrition strategy (2 Fig Newtons every half hour, water as often as I wanted it, salt pills every hour). And then, shortly after the first aid station, I lost a bottle. I think I know where it happened. I was coming down a hill at a high rate of speed, and hit a bump at the bottom. It jarred me a little bit, but I didn't hear anything bounce out, and no one around me said anything. At that point, I had one water bottle (empty), and one Gatorade bottle from an aid station. I lost the bottle that actually had fluid in it. Unfortunately, I didn't realize this until it was time for my next salt pill. I reached back for the bottle, so I could swallow the salt pill, and . . . nothing. So I had that damn pill lodged in the back of my throat until such time as the casing dissolved. It took about 15 minutes. I thought about asking cyclists I passed for a drink of their water, but I wasn't sure if that might count as illegal aid. The worst (funniest?) part was that after the casing of the pill had dissolved, I burped, and totally gleeked salt powder. Guess what? Salt pills? Actually salty!

I was without water for probably about half an hour, worrying the whole time that I was getting dehydrated (I was, by the way). When I finally came upon the next aid station, I grabbed a water bottle for each cage, and sucked a third down right then and there. Shortly after that, I realllllly had to pee. I stopped at the third (and final) aid station to use the port-a-potty. I did (for the record) try to pee on the bike, but no dice. I guess I need to practice that one in training, first.

There was a mandatory dismount on the bike where some oil had been spilled on the road. We had to slow down and carry our bikes around, then re-mount and get going again. Taking that and the potty break into account, I might have equaled my average speed from last year. But that six-minute deficit . . . I don't know. That's much slower.

The fact is, I was underprepared for the course, this year. Last year, I spent a week in the middle of Ohio training physically and mentally resting. I got in some good, long rides in the hills that week. And I spent time out near Latham/Atlanta (the nearest place to find even moderately rolling terrain around here) with friends, training for the hills at Lawrence. Last year, I remember thinking that the difficulty of the course was exagerrated; it didn't seem that tough to me. This year, that course kicked my ass and ate my lunch. Those last few hills, my legs were toast. And I knew this, coming into the run course. I fully believed that run was going to suck major monkey balls. And I was sick to my stomach, and tired. I seriously wondered how I was going to make the transition to running.

T2: 2:26 (last year, 6:09)
Finally! Something I did faster than last year!

Run: 13.1 miles, 2:19:10 (10:38/mile, last year 2:20:21)
The answer to how you make the transition is just to do it. Get in, get out, and get going. If your feet feel like bricks attached to your hips by soggy noodles, run anyway. If your stomach is upset, run anyway. If you think you'll never be able to make it, run anyway. And that's what I did; I ran. I felt awful, but I ran. I told myself that I just had to make it to the first aid station, and then I could walk. I hit the first mile in under 10 minutes, and held my head a little higher after that.

My stomach and legs settled down a little bit after the first big downhill (about 2.5 miles in). I think I ran out of 10-minute miles around mile 3 or 4. After that, I stopped looking at my watch; I decided I didn't want to know. Besides which, my watch strap broke, so my watch was just hanging out in my back jersey pocket with two disintegrated salt pills. Ew.

It was around mile 5 that I started to feel awesome. I always catch a second wind from (about) miles 5-8. At this race, the effect was almost instant; it was just after the 4 mile marker that I started to feel awesome. I said hi to my friends on the course, shouting out encouragement and skipping for my cheering fans who were screaming my name. And the best part was that my Photographer got to see me at that point, at my best.

There were a few things that I did this year that I hadn't managed last year: I ran full-tilt down the big hill both times (last year I couldn't muster the energy to careen down the hill on the second loop), and I ran most of the uphill both times (all but the steepest part). I didn't experience the debilitating cramps that slowed me to a near-crawl last year. More than anything, the last 2 miles, I was just exhausted. I wasn't necessarily hurting; I just couldn't move anymore. It was partly physical, but I think mostly mental. My brain was done long before my body. You know what I didn't do in training this year? Really long bricks. And I think that's what really did me in.

Still, I beat my run time from last year, even if it was by only a minute. And when I came across the line, there was my Photographer, waiting with open arms. That in itself was worth it.

Post-race
Carnage. Not immediately, but also not long after. I sat in an ice bath with a dozen other athletes for a while, and felt fine during that. But I was still sick to my stomach, and had to go to the bathroom again. Did I mention I was on my period again, this year? Yeah. Someone's pheromones screwed up my cycle. So even though the race was a week earlier this year, I still had to race with Mother Nature's monthly gift. Thanks, Mama N. That was really special.

After 5 or 10 minutes in the ice bath, I staggered back to our campsite and proceeded to lay down in the shade. I knew that I should eat something right away, but the thought of food was totally off-putting. I managed to eat a few bites of leftover cous cous, but not enough really to recover. I dozed in the shade while my Photographer was kind enough to go to T1 and T2 to pick up all my gear. By the time she was back, I had stirred myself (slowly and fitfully) enough to pack up the tent. We took the next couple hours to pack up the car. And then we hit the road. She drove. I slept.

When I got back to my house at about 7 p.m., I showered, changed, and collapsed on the couch, ostensibly to read. Of course I fell asleep. Slept straight through the night, about 11 hours total. Woke up and went to work to teach cycling class. After class, took a nap in my car. Saw a few clients. Took another nap in my car. Went home that night and was in bed by 10. I started to feel human again sometime on Tuesday. It took me until Wednesday to recover from my dehydration.

The worst part has been the aftermath. I didn't feel like I did as well as I should have done. My main goal was to go under 6 hours. With the speeds I'd been running, all I really needed to do was maintain on the swim and bike, knock a few minutes off of T2, and run the half marathon I knew I had in me. But that didn't happen. Part of that was on the day. It was unbearably hot; I wasn't the only one who really suffered out there. Last year's ideal conditions allowed me to have a really good first experience, and these conditions were much tougher. Given similar conditions, maybe I would have had a more pleasing performance.

But part of it was that I wasn't as well-prepared for the race this year. The past 6 weeks, I've been unmotivated in training, particularly with long workouts. And I didn't feel good, after the race. Not just physically. But mentally and emotionally. I was happy to be done. But I didn't feel a sense of accomplishment and joy like I have in the past. Maybe it's because I didn't meet my goals. But then at Emporia, I did meet my goals--I had a significant PR and got 2nd overall--and I still wasn't happy about it. So maybe this is more than just one bad race; maybe it's time I took an extended vacation from triathlon.

At any rate, racing aside, I had a great weekend. It was unspeakably wonderful to have the Photographer's support throughout the weekend. I saw a bunch of friends, a bunch of fellow athletes, several of whom came out for the exclusive purpose of cheering. We had a fun weekend camping. It was all-around enjoyable.

And I'm coming to terms with the disappointment of the race. I'm even starting to feel the itch to try again, to do better next time. But I wonder if that's a good thing; maybe I just need to take a year off, let that itch build, until I'm ready to come back and really train again.

By the way, pictures to come, as soon as the Photographer gets them to me :-)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pre-Race: IMKS 70.3 2010

I can't sleep.

I have a half ironman in less than 5 days.

I don't really have the mental capacity to write a full blog post, but I have to write something.

I'm not nervous, or anything. Just can't sleep. It's like I can feel individual synapses firing in my brain when I lay still enough. Gah.

I'm so ready for this race. Should have started training about a month later than I did. I feel like I've had six weeks of tapering. My base building was done eons ago. I know I have the fitness to get through the race. And maybe all the sharpening has put me in position to go faster than ever. What do we think? Definitely sub-6:00. Maybe a 2:05 1/2 marathon? How about I really go for it and shoot for a 1/2 marathon PR? No, I don't think that's realistic. But sub-6:00? Hell yeah.

Okay. I'm going to go try to sleep again.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Race Report: River Run '10

PR! PR! PR!

So . . . this race report is over 2 weeks late. If I were pregnant, and the baby were 2 weeks late, I would be pissed. It's a good thing my blog is not my baby. Because if it were, it would have died from neglect this month.

Anyway. Back into the race report.

The River Run is THE race in Wichita. Actually, it's arguably the largest race in Kansas (the big Kansas City races are on the MO side, natch). There were around 2200 signed up for the 10k, and another 3200 who finished the 2 mile race. More people than that signed up, but that's how many finished. The River Run has had up to 10,000 participants in past years. In other words, around here it's a big deal.

That's me and The Photographer. And Craig. From cycling class.
I rode my bike to the race, all on the bike paths. It was a little chilly, and my hands and feet were frozen by the time I reached downtown Wichita. The Photographer was there, and I found her right away. What took me much longer was finding my dad. I was later than I'd expected to be, and he'd already put his phone away. I found him at our arranged meeting point, and we walked way far away to where he'd parked so I could stow my bike and spare gear in his car. We jogged back to the start line (a good mile), and I decided that I HAD to find a toilet. So I went to stand in a remarkably short port-a-pottie line (great organization from the River Festival folks), and came back out right as they were announcing "90 seconds to the start!" I hustled to the mass of humanity waiting to run, and pressed as far forward as I dared, trying to seed myself for the mass start. This would turn out to be my big mistake for the day.

When the cannon blasted, everyone sort of jumped forward, like they were going to be able to run or something. I walked. No sense in making the 10k one step longer than it has to be! The start line was hard to miss at this race, and so I was able to start my watch right where it should start. The pack was moving slowly, though. I couldn't open up any kind of speed, except in bursts. I really seeded myself too far back; I should have pressed forward closer to the front. I spent a good mile running, walking, and sprinting, trying to get around the slower runners and up to my own speed. Running through the narrow streets of Old Town was the worst. I hopped up onto a raised planter and ran along that for a while, trying to pass people from above. The course cleared out sufficiently after the Old Town section, and I was able to move myself up through the ranks a little.

In spite of the sluggish start, I hit the 2-mile split in 17:01!

After finally working my speed up to a good (for me) pace, I checked my heart rate and settled in at about 163 BPM. I've realized that the best way for me to pace my races is probably by heart rate. I know it's variable, but the last time I tried to run by pace at a 10k, I really blew up. I'll keep experimenting with race strategies, but I was confident that a heart-rate based pace would help me do my best for the River Run. I really wanted to redeem my performance at the Easter Sun Run, at which I was not very happy with my performance.

Keeping my heart rate in the 160s, I tried to find someone off of whom I could mentally draft. You know, let them set the pace and just kind of dove-tail. I ran with a few people for a little bit; one of them seemed almost perfect. She was running just the right pace, and I think I stayed with her for about a 1/2 mile. Then her pace got a little quicker, and my heart rate got a little higher, and I decided that it was harder than I wanted to work before the half-way point. So I let her go, and felt pretty good about it. I hit the half-way point in 25:59. 

After the 3-mile mark, I let my heart rate start moving up to 165-168; at 4 miles (34:33), I let it creep up to 170; at 5 miles (42:58), I just opened it up. And right about that time, I came upon the woman who'd out-paced me previously. Apparently she had run a little harder than she could sustain, too. I locked into step with her. We ran right through the water station (I'd made a point of hydrating for two days prior to the race so I wouldn't need to slow down), and I thought I'd lost her in the crowd. Then I spied her a couple yards ahead and most of the way across the road. I reeled her in, then settled down to stay with her until just before the finish.

We played a little bit, testing each other's strength and speed. She'd try to surge; I'd try to surge. Coming around the last corner, with just about 400 m to go, I picked up my pace significantly, hoping to drop her before I had to out-sprint her. No dice. She responded, and stayed right with me. It was less than 100 m to the line before I really opened up the sprint, and felt her slowly dropping back. I crossed the line with her maybe two seconds behind, and stopped my watch at 52:37, a new PR.

Me and my running buddy in lockstep. This is right where I started to drop her.
I had the most vicious side stitch, and my running buddy was bent over like she was going to hurl. I gave her a hug and thanked her for pushing me to my limits. She expressed the same sentiment. My Photographer found me, and we went over together to watch my dad finish. He came across in under an hour--a new PR for him, too! After we collected him, lo and behold! there were my mom and younger brother! They had woken up early (a true sacrifice for my mom) to come see us race! It was very special to me. Thanks to Stephen for helping my mom wake up!

My parents and me.
This was a great race. It was fun and well-organized. Genesis Health Clubs, the gyms at which I work, are one of the main sponsors for the race, so there were plenty of familiar faces on the race course and in the crowd. I ran in to Jerome Biggars, who's lost almost 300 lbs and had run his first 10k that day. I saw buddies from the cycling scene, and from the tri scene. I ran past people I've taught to swim and coached to their first 70.3s. I even ran into a couple who come to my 8:00 Arthritis water aerobics class, whose son was running the 10k.

And my whole family was there, which just can't be beat. Reflecting on it now (two weeks later), I realize that it was one of the best races I've had--fun, friendly, and with a new PR to boot.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Beginners' Guide: First Race

First off, don't worry; it's perfectly normal to freak out in the swim on your first tri. For that matter, it's perfectly normal to freak out in the swim at your second tri. I have clients and athletes who are 3-4 years into their triathlon journey, and they still sort of freak out. So don't worry; that's normal.

One of the women I taught to swim this spring just did her first race (Emporia) on Sunday. And the swim did not go quite as well as she may have hoped or planned. First off, that time trial start can be a really crappy situation for the newer swimmers because they have a poor sense of how to pace themselves. So people who should be at the back of the line seed themselves too high, and people who belong more to the middle seed themselves to the back. Bottom line, my poor friend had to pass a guy who should have seeded himself waaaaay slower than he did. So she had to pass him after less than 50 m (of a 400 m swim, mind you). Passing--even passing someone way slower than you--is hard work, and after that, she had trouble recovering her breath and regaining her rhythm. From there, she was strictly in survival mode.

My first triathlon wasn't so bad. I did a lot of backstroking and sidestroking, but overall I managed to maintain a pretty good rhythm. My second tri? Not so much. It was Pumpkinman, and it was in Lake Mead, and it was frickin' cold. I was wearing a wetsuit (borrowed, natch) for the first time. I'd never swam in a wetsuit before. I had a minor panic attack right there when the gun went off. I couldn't put my face in the water; I couldn't breathe when I did. My body absolutely rejected the notion of normal freestyle breathing. So I did the elementary backstroke for the whole swim. Longest 750 m of my life.

So it's a normal thing. But what do you do about it? How do you move past that place of panic and into a place of calm?

First off, chill out. There's absolutely nothing wrong with getting pumped for a big event, but if you're new to racing and have trouble with the swim, you'll probably be better served by listening to Sounds of Meditation than the theme song from Rocky. That initial shot of adrenaline might give you the kick start you need at a bike or run race, but in a triathlon swim, it's going to freak you out. So try to get calm and Zen instead of pumped up before the swim start. There will be time to get pumped or highly focused after you've mastered the swim start.

Second, practice. This is especially important if you're going to be doing a mass start and an open water swim. If you'll be racing with a wetsuit, practice with a wetsuit. The first time you put it on, you'll be surprised at how constricting it feels, and you don't want to be starting a race feeling constricted. Not unless you enjoy hanging on to the sides of paddle boats or kayaks, anyway. If you'll be swimming in the ocean, you damn well better practice in the ocean. Nothing's going to freak you out worse than swimming through a patch of seaweed for the first time. If you're going to be starting from a beach, practice running into the water; figure out before hand how long you want to wait until you start swimming. And if there will be a mass start (if you're swimming in a lake or ocean, there will be), practice with some friends. You know, like this:

Okay. Maybe not exactly like that.

Third, know the venue. If you can, swim there before race day. You want to know how cold the water is going to be, how far it's going to look to that first turn buoy (seeing the actual distance can be freaky, the first time), what the major landmarks are, and how the swim entry/exit looks. You'll also want to acquaint yourself with any critters who might live in the water (fish and seaweed = freaky), and be familiar with the depth at various points on the course (there's a local race where you could walk most of the swim course, if you were so inclined).

And if you do all those things and you still freak out, don't worry. It happens. Now if you're into your fifth or sixth race and you're still freaking out, you might want to try something a little more advanced. I've had athletes go for hypnotherapy; I've done guided meditation with my podcast. Those are options. When it comes right down to it, though, some people are going to feel more comfortable in water than others, and it may be something that never quite comes naturally to you. If that's the case, don't worry; you'll catch 'em up on the bike and run.

Race Report: Easter Sun Run '10

Well, this race report is almost two weeks overdue. I've been . . . otherwise occupied, and not at all interested in blogging about a race at which I didn't even perform to my potential. But the weather was nice, and there were lots of happy people, so the race wasn't a total bust. A good day, but not a great race.

Morning began late for me, because I'd been out late the night before. But I hadn't been drinking, so at least my race prep was better than for this race. I rode to Sedgwick County Park with my parents. My dad was running the 10k, and my mom was going to try her hand at the 2 mile run (NOT the 2 mile walk!). Weather was perfect: mid 50s with a light wind (this being Kansas, anything under 20 MPH is light) and plenty of sunshine. I shucked my warm ups and headed out for about a mile of warming up.

As I jogged around the park, I couldn't help but appreciate the beauty of the day. I actually just stood and stared at one of the lakes for a while. It really couldn't have been a more perfect atmosphere for what we were doing.

This year's race featured "chip timing," but really it was just a chip finish. I have no idea where the start line was, or how far I ran before I crossed it. I estimated, and my finish time is based on that (the official finish time doesn't take the slightly delayed start into account). I went out hard; my intention was to set a pace of 5:20/km. My dream was to run sub-50:00, which would require a 5:00/km pace.

I did well for the first few kilometers, but my body was sending me early warning signs; the pace was not sustainable. After 3 or 4 kilometers, I was starting to be passed back by some of the people I had run by earlier. One of my cycling buddies caught me at around the 6k mark, but couldn't sustain my pace through the dirt section (most of kilometer 6 is run on an unpaved road in the park). I didn't exactly drop her, though; she stayed just about 20 yards behind me for the rest of the race, apparently. Kilometer 6 was also measured long; my split for that one was 6 something, while my 7k split was under 5.

I started trying to accelerate at 8k, then picked it up a little more at 9k. I was passing a few people, at that point. But I had run myself into a dangerous situation, from a competitive vantage point, because I wasn't with any significant group. There was a group of ladies just a little bit too far ahead to catch with a 500m surge, and no one close enough behind me to pose any threat. By that point, I was just sort of cruising to the finish in an (official) time of 54:12, an average pace of 8:43. The time on my watch was 53:44. But, like I said before, I 100% guessed as to the location of the start line. Last year's time was 54:07, so I'm in a comparable place this year. Which I'm not necessarily happy about. I mean, I was happy with last year's time; sub-9:00 pace for a 10k? Alright! But this year, I want to be better. And I wasn't, at least not significantly.

Thing is, I feel like I'm in better run shape. I've been running better. I ran a 2:02 1/2 marathon in January; that's excruciatingly close to that 2-hour mark! I'm stronger and faster than I was a year ago, and I have the numbers to prove it. I think there were two main elements that held me back at the Sun Run.

The first is that my legs were dead. I had done a track workout the week before (a recovery week, mind you) in my Vibrams. It felt good at the time. But for a good 5 days after, my calves were deathly sore. Like having trouble walking kind of sore. I could barely stand up, they were so sore. And that soreness and bone-deep fatigue were still there on Saturday. So my legs weren't as responsive or as snappy as they could have been.

The other element was mental. Maybe it was my race strategy. Last year, my plan was to go out with my heart rate under 165, then turn it up as high as I dared on the last 5k. And I had a great race, with that plan. But this year, my plan was to do even pacing at 5:24/mile, which was ambitious. There was a good chance that I would blow up with a plan like that.

But I didn't blow up; I just never seized the race and made it my own. I never found that extra gear, not just in terms of physicality (because, again, legs of lead), but also mentally. I never found it in myself to push through pain for a great performance. I had a good performance, but not a great performance.

Still, I suppose it's good that I didn't lose any ground. It sets me up well for this next season. And there will be other 10k races. Still plenty of time to set that new PR, to hit that 50-minute mark.

By the way, my dad ran the 10k in 1:02, which is an 8-minute PR for him and a 10-minute mile! Way to go, Dad! And my mom ran/walked the 2-mile in just over 31 minutes, which was a great achievement for her. She was crying when she came across the line! My mom's first running race! She still thinks I'm crazy for wanting to run 10 miles at a time, though. I guess it may take some time for that to sink in.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spinning Workout: Quickie

This 30-minute workout fits nicely into a lunch break, or works as a warm-up before a transition run. It's designed to be used in conjunction with a separate warm-up and cool-down. You can combine it with other workouts, to make a longer workout, or use it on its own as a short spin session. This session emphasizes maintaining a constant cadence of 90-95 RPM.

Quickie (30 minutes)

Say Aha (Santogold) - 185 BPM
19-20-20 (The Grates) - 184 BPM
Suddenly I See (KT Tunstall) - 100 BPM
Could've Had Everything (P!nk) - 96 BPM
You Turn the Screws (Cake) - 95 BPM
Queer (Garbage) - 95 BPM
Ringa Ringa (Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack) - 98 BPM
Everything I Want to be (Save Ferris) - 98 BPM

Purchase this workout

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!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Race Report: Emporia Spring Migration '10


Thanks to my Photographer for putting together this video and taking all these pictures. I'm really lucky to have such a wonderful and talented . . . Photographer.

Podium.

That's what you need to know, straight off. 2nd place, female overall. Podium, baby.

This has been my first time making it that far up the ranks, and it was my primary goal for this race. Go for it, go all out, and get into the top 3 overall. And I did it.

Still, I'm not quite content. The race was smaller this year than it has been previously. I don't feel like the field was as competitive, especially on the women's side. A lot of familiar faces were missing, including a few friendly rivals. And (as always) I know that I could still go faster. So there's still room to improve.

Pre-race
A certain special Photographer came with me to this race, and it was wonderful to have some company on the ride up, and some support as I readied myself for competition. Also interesting was seeing triathlon in a new way, as I introduced someone new (a tri virgin, if you will) to the wonders of multisport. It makes everything more fascinating; lets you see it through new eyes.

Registration and body-marking were straight-forward. There was only a slight breeze, but it was chilly (not as chilly as last year), and the sky was grey. The main thing that struck me--and I could not get over this--was how few faces I knew, and how the familiar faces were conspicuously absent. It was kind of sad, really. Still, there were a few that I recognized, and I got to chat with some of the folks I've met casually at other races, or in previous years. Also? Got to introduce The Photographer.

Warm up was 15 minutes on the bike--very chilly!--followed by a mile on the track. And several bathroom stops. My stomach was roiling with nerves. Between the bike, run, and bathroom, I ran out of time for a swim warm-up. I went to stand in the snake between numbers 46 and 49 (48 was a no-show) and waited for my turn to come.

Swim: 400m in 7:36 (1:53/100m, 7:35 in '09)
I always feel very restrained in a triathlon swim. I'm definitely not giving my all. Just trying to stay within the pack, within a good effort zone, maximizing every stroke, and trying to set myself up for a strong bike/run. Should I be working harder? I don't  know . . .

Didn't get passed. Didn't pass anyone else. Felt strong and fluid throughout. And time is almost exactly what it was last year. Probably have some room to improve on this leg.

T1: 32 sec (52 in '09)
Estimated about 32 seconds, based on the discrepancy between my official bike time and the time on my bike computer. Did I mention that I did this race without so much as a watch?

Bike: 20 km in 36:40 (20.3 MPH, 40:30 in '09)
For the first year EVER, there was almost no wind at this race. Notice that I said almost.

The bike was where I did my best work, at this race. I was focused. I was intense. I was competitive. I was counting down the women as they passed me on the out-and-back. I was a hunter.

But I still feel like I should be faster.

T2: 57 sec (57 in '09)
Oh my goodness, what a mess this was. I was using my new Giro aero helmet for the first time at this race, and it's much tighter than the old one. So I had to put my sunglasses on over the helmet straps. Well when I went to take the helmet off, I forgot about the sunglasses, and ended up getting sunglasses, helmet, and hair all tangled together. I wasted a good 30 seconds standing there and swearing and trying to yank my hair out of my head, if that's what it took. My apologies to the parents of young children who were standing nearby; you may have to explain to your kiddos what some of those words mean.

Again, note that the T2 time is only an estimate.

Run: 5 km in 25:00 (8:02/mi, 25:48 in '09)
I don't think I've ever felt this good on a tri run. My legs felt good and strong and capable. It was like the hills weren't even there. No one passed me on the run, for once! There were a few muscles that felt like they might cramp, but they held off.

Alan (captain of the KSRVTC) was waiting for me about a half mile from the finish. He cheered me all the way in (as he does every year), and helped me to a strong finish. I came across the line feeling like I was going to toss my cookies, but knowing that I'd done my very best.

Total: 1:10:45 (1:15:42 in '09)
Fastest time I've ever posted at this race. 2nd F overall. 36th overall with the men. I'm pleased. But now I'm anxious to see how I'll do at a bigger race, one with a little more depth (especially in the female field). Although looking at the results from last year, I would still have placed 2nd overall with 1:10. And I've done it, now: I've been on the podium. The real podium. The overall podium. And I'm pretty happy about that.

Happy. But not content.

Spinning Workout: High Intensity Set

This workout gives you 17.5 minutes of pure intensity. It's meant to be used modularly, with a separate warm-up and cool-down. It can be used on its own, for a quick workout, or in conjunction with other tracks, to lengthen a workout.

High Intensity Set (17.5 minutes)
Blister in the Sun (Violent Femmes) - 194 BPM
Hey Mama (Black Eyed Peas) - 75 BPM
Toxic (Brittney Spears) - 143 BPM
Good Thing (Fine Young Cannibals) - 165 BPM
Dance This Mess Around (B52s) - 153 BPM (with acceleration)

Purchase this workout

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!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spinning Workout: High Intensity Suffering


This is a high-intensity, 17.5 minute workout, designed to make you suffer. It's meant to be used modularly, in conjunction with other warm-up and cool-down tracks. You can stack these short workouts together to create a longer-duration workout, or you can use them as quick sessions, when you don't have much time.

High Intensity Suffering (17.5 minutes)
Long Line of Cars (Cake) - 100 BPM
Wind Up (Foo Fighters) - 73 BPM
Waiting Room (No Doubt) - 81 BPM
Keep This Fire Burning (Beverley Knight) - 100 BPM
Harder to Breathe (Maroon 5) - 75 BPM

Purchase this workout

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!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spinning Workout: Warm Up Only

This 10-minute workout is a warm-up track, meant to be used in conjunction with more workout!

Warm Up Only (10 minutes)
Black Horse & the Cherry Tree (KT Tunstall) - 104 BPM
Supertones Strike Back (O.C. Supertones) - 193 BPM
Sober (P!nk) - 91 BPM

Purchase this workout

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!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pre Race: Emporia Spring Migration 2010

Tomorrow's forecast:

"Mostly sunny. Highs around 64. Southeast winds 5 to 10 MPH."

Sweet.

Spinning Workout: Cool Down


This is an 8.5 minute track meant to be used as a cool down in conjunction with other workouts.

Cool Down Only (8.5 minutes)
You're the Ocean (Teitur) - 95 BPM
Falling Away With You (Muse) - 95 BPM

Purchase this workout

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, April 14, 2010

Lactate Swim

I just had what may have been the best swim of my life. Okay, well that might be an exaggeration, but it was a good one, at any rate. Hey! You wanna try it? Here:

100 SKIPS (swim, kick, IM, pull, swim; can be shortened to SKP)
8 x 25 drill (I did one-arm, fist swim, and quick catch)
8 x 75 w/ :45 rest (I went on 2:00)
200 kick w/ fins
8 x 50 w/ :30 rest (I went on 1:15)
200 kick w/ fins
8 x 25 hypoxic (don't breathe until you're touching the wall)
100 choice (not free) to cool down

Fun, huh?

Note: 100 SKIPS is short-hand for 100 swim, 100 kick, 100 IM, 100 pull, 100 swim. It's my standard warm-up. A shorter warm-up is 100 swim, 100 kick, 100 pull. But then I don't get to practice my fly ;-)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Runner's High: Dad

This is us at the opera. This is not what we look like running.
I love my Dad. He is the epitome of the phrase, "Slow and steady wins the race." He's one of my biggest fans, and one of my most constant companions. He started cycling a year or two before I did; he's run for as long as I can remember (off and on . . . okay, more off than on). When I was young, he always tried to get me to go out running with him. On several occasions, he signed me up for local 2-mile races . . . which I may or may not have wanted to do (but mostly the latter).

As of yesterday, he's still trying to get me to run.

Because I overslept yesterday morning and missed the wonderful companionship of the Derby Sunday morning 10-miler group. And so I told myself I would go running on my own. But it didn't take much convincing for me to avoid the 15 MPH northern winds and stay in my bed reading a book instead. I took the dog out for a run (all of 15 minutes in the cold and breezy). Then I spent the afternoon watching basketball.

Let me make it very clear: I did not want to run yesterday.

But I made the mistake of asking my dad if he planned to run. His response? "Sure! I'm ready whenever you are!"

So we went out to do a little 2 miles. I made the additional mistake of telling him I planned to do a 2-mile warm-up, followed by 14 minutes at tempo. After we finished our little 2-mile out-and-back (with me grumping all the way about how my legs hurt and I didn't want to run and my body didn't feel like it wanted to do this), he said, "I'll take your coat in if you want to keep running." Whine . . . sigh. I walked back and forth, debating whether or not I wanted to go ahead with the tempo run, and finally told myself, "It's only 7 minutes out and 7 minutes back; it would be silly not to do it." So I sighed again and said, "Alright, I'll do it. If it hurts too bad, I can always turn around and come back after a few minutes."

What does my dad do? He runs with me. "You can just run on ahead, and I'll turn back whenever you turn back." Of course, once we got started, I had to finish it. So I ran my full warm up, and my full tempo run, and another 10 minutes of cool down, as well.

And I wouldn't have done any of it without my dad.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Beginners' Guide: Synthesis

Beginners' articles, for the most part, come in one of two flavors (no, not chocolate and vanilla): either they tell you the same information as every other beginners' article, or they try to share new tips, most of which don't really apply to beginners. Now neither one is necessarily bad, mind you. In fact, the former is highly useful, and the latter can be useful (eventually).


The problem, I think, is that the people with the information--those of us who have been there, those of us who have done that, those of us who have learned all the things beginners need to know--have forgotten what it's like to be the greenhorn. You remember how in middle school, you just knew that your teachers (and parents and lunch ladies and principles and every other person over the age of 20) had no idea what you were going through? Well, same thing. You get to a certain point in your training, and you forget the kinds of struggles that newbies have. You forget that sense of dread and fear on race day, the confusion of the transition area, the fear that everyone else knows what to do except you.


Point is, those of us who have been there and done that are only so helpful. Sure, we try to answer your questions on blogs and message boards, at pools and in cycling classes. But in the end, you have to be able to bring this information together for yourself. You have to be able to synthesize.


Example? This article offers great tips for beginners. Sign up for a race, get a bike, have someone watch your stroke. Check. Those are all good things. But the article doesn't really break down for you how you're supposed to go from (hypothetically) the Couch to 5k plan you just completed to getting through your first triathlon.


This article isn't going to solve that problem for you, either. Why? Because there's plenty of information out there that already does that. The tips I want to give you are how to start building a mental picture of what it'll take to get you to the finish line your first time around. And here they are:
  1. Read voraciously. Seriously. There are so many websites. There are so many books. There are so many blogs. If all else fails, pull up Google and do a search for what you want to know (i.e. "Do people ever die in the swim?"). Read articles. Check out books and magazines from the library. Borrow books from friends. Ask for recommendations. Follow triathletes on Twitter. Just start putting information into your brain.
  2. Talk to everyone. Okay, probably not everyone has a bunch of athlete friends around. I know some of you are preparing for your first race in isolation. But you have this big, wide, online, global community at your fingertips. Take advantage of it. Ask questions on message boards. Ask questions on Twitter. Ask questions on blogs. You may have noticed that triathletes are a pretty evangelistic bunch. We want you to be part of our sport. So we're happy to answer your questions.
  3. Read between the lines. Now for the tricky part. Some of the articles are wrong. Some of the books are out-of-date. Some of the people don't know what they're talking about. So use your common sense, and always get a second opinion. If you read in a book from 1995 that heart rate monitoring is the hottest, most important new advance in endurance sports training, you might just look around for some new info (i.e. something written in the past 5 years or so). Again, there's so much raw information available, you shouldn't ever trust a single resource (yeah, even me).
And just in case you don't know where to start looking, here are some links to useful resources:
Beginner Triathlete
Trifuel
Slowtwitch
Triathlete Magazine (InsideTri)
Trihardist's Beginners' Guide
Ontri

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Recipe File: Jamie's Pasta al Diablo


Pasta in the style of the devil. Yum!

Here's how I do cooking:
At store: "Hmm, whole-wheat pasta sounds good. Also mushrooms. Ooh, look! Mini Naked juices! Cheap mini Naked juices! Score!"
At home: "Okay, water on to boil . . . I'm craving some garlic. Five cloves should about do it. Lots of olive oil, low heat . . . Now what else will go with garlic? Might as well use those mushrooms. Rough chop . . . And that would be really good with some tomatoes, too . . . Let's see what's in the fridge. Leftover chipotle peppers? Perfect! It'll be a spicy one . . . Fine chop on those . . . Ooh, sweet yellow bell peppers! That'll be great! Now all those into the mix . . . Hmm, maybe sun-dried tomatoes instead of fresh . . . Whoa, too spicy! What about some tomato paste . . . Yes, that's better; a little sweeter. And oregano! Oregano will go great with these flavors!"

And that's how I come up with new recipes.

Be aware that this one takes a little while. Figure about 30 minutes on prep time.

2 oz whole-wheat pasta (I used thin spaghetti)
Boiling water (reserve some of the water the pasta cooked in for the sauce)
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh garlic (I used 6 cloves)
Fresh mushrooms (must be fresh, and I used 3 large ones)
Fresh sweet bell pepper (yellow, orange, or red, as green won't be sweat enough. I'm sure roasted red peppers would be good, too. I used about a quarter of a pepper.)
2 small chipotle peppers (reserve some of the sauce from
Sun-dried tomatoes (I used a handful of grape tomatoes that I dehydrated myself)
Tomato paste
Oregano
Kleenex (trust me)

Start by boiling water with a generous amount of olive oil and salt over high heat. After it comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook for 6-8 minutes. While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, prep your veggies and other stuff. Roughly chop the garlic, mushrooms, and sweet pepper. Finely chop the sun-dried tomatoes and chipotle peppers. Start a saute pan over low heat with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil (if you say E.V.O.O. I'm gonna punch you in the face) and the roughly chopped garlic. Keep the heat low, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes (until the garlic starts to soften; this makes the garlic soft and mild and delicious and also flavors the oil). By this time, the pasta should be done. Reserve 1-2 cups of the water from the pasta, then strain the pasta and run cool water over it to make sure the cooking process stops. Set the pasta aside.

When the garlic is soft and starting to turn translucent, add all the chopped elements (mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, anything else you like). Let the mushrooms and peppers soften, and the flavors come together a little bit. Next, add the liquid from the chipotle peppers, about a tablespoon of it (you can do more, depending on how spicy you like it). Let that cook together for a minute or two. Then add the tomato paste. Start with a tablespoon or so, and add more to taste. You want the sweetness of the tomato to balance out the intense heat of the peppers, so be as generous with the tomato paste as you need to. As you add the tomato paste, add enough of the pasta water to start making a thick sauce. Thinner than gravy, but thicker than water. This is a matter of personal preference, but I go for the consistency of beef stew. I used about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and maybe 3/4 cup of pasta water to achieve what I wanted. Finally, add oregano to taste. It should sort of take the edge off of the peppers a little more. You can also throw in some salt and pepper at this point, although I didn't add any.

Once you're satisfied with the flavor and texture of your sauce, take your cooked pasta and toss it in with the sauce, re-heating it a little bit. You can serve with chicken or shrimp, maybe some tofu. I'm not sure how well it would compliment beef or fish. Chorizo would be excellent with this, provided it's fairly mild. I didn't put any protein with mine, though. Some creme fresh or sour cream would probably be good, and help take the edge off.

And I'm serious about the tissue. I went through two of them.

This was more than enough food for me after a 10-mile run, so if you're cooking for more than one, adjust the amounts accordingly.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Race Report: Central Y Indoor Tri


Ah, back into the racing of swim, bike, run in sequence. How I've missed it. Now if we could just move it outside . . .

This triathlon, like so many of the indoor races, broke competitors into small groups (8 people per heat). 500 m in a 5-lane pool, 6 miles on a stationary (not spinning) bike, 2 miles on an indoor track. I was in the 3rd heat, seeded at an 8:30 500m, with a bunch of guys. Out of 8 competitors in the heat, I was the only female. I shared a lane with Lonnie, who was right behind me at the Derby Rock 'n' Route Tri. 

Neither one of us was much fun as a lane-mate, I think. I was definitely encroaching in his space. He stayed right in front of me for the first 200 m or so. Then I pulled up even with him, but never quite passed him. I swam my own pace as much as possible, and breathed bi-laterally to avoid the splashing from him and the guy in the next lane over (the lane ropes at the Central Y are yellow string with bits of blue foam noodle). I stuck with flip turns for the first couple hundred, then switched to open turns, because I was having trouble coming off the wall straight. In the last 100 m or so, Lonnie surged, and I let him. I picked up my pace just enough to stay on his hip, and tucked in a little closer to him. He pulled me home, and I beat him to the wall. Didn't bother with shoes or a towel; just took my cap and goggles off and ran (delicately) up the stairs.

Can I just say now that stairs are the worst part of indoor triathlons? You almost never encounter stairs at real races (UCSB and CSULB are two exceptions that I've seen)! I guess we'll just say it's practice for hills, which is something you don't have to deal with at all indoors.

The bikes were Cybex stationary bikes, standard-issue cardio equipment. These bikes are not at all attuned to the fine needs of triathletes' bodies. We are used to being crouched over and uncomfortable and aerodynamic. You could put Grandma on one of these bikes for physical therapy. It's way different than a spinning bike, even. The strategy with this kind of equipment in an indoor race is to push as hard as you can. A fast cadence will not be as effective as high resistance. So (if you're planning to do an indoor race on bikes like these) just turn up the resistance and push the pedals.

Of course, the disadvantage to that kind of biking is that your legs fill with lactate and feel like lead as soon as you get off the bike. Add to that the fact that you probably have to run upstairs to get to the indoor track, and you have a recipe for pain.

I could barely walk, let alone run, by the time I finished my six miles of Cybex hell bike leg. So I sort of clomped up the stairs and onto the track. My strategy for the run was to go easy for the first 14 laps (1 mile), then gradually build speed through the second half. I started relatively conservatively, but at a strong pace. The guys in my heat were mostly so much faster than me on the run that chasing them down wasn't even an option; the most I could do was try to minimize the number of times that I got lapped. I think Lonnie lapped me at least 5 times (of course, the lap is only 100m long, so lapping doesn't carry quite the same weight). He finished a good 5-6 laps ahead of me, but he and Alan stayed upstairs and cheered me in to the finish.

There used to be a trash can at the end of the first straightaway on the track. It was gone this year. I missed the comfort of knowing it was there after sprinting the last two laps.

I was happy with this race. It was short and fun, but it's not at all an indication of what I'll be capable of this year. It was a nice diversion, and a good time.

There were hardly any women there, it seemed. Only one in the first heat, two or three in the second heat, one in my heat, one or two in the next . . . maybe twenty out of the eighty competitors were women. I placed second out of all the women overall, and about 24-25 down in the overall rankings. First in my age group. Also, this is probably the last race I'll ever do in the 20-24 age group. Starting this year, I'm 25-29. That's only one age group shy of 30-34. Sigh. I feel old.

Total: 42:30
Swim: 8:30
Bike: 19:00
Run: 15:00
Not sure where the T1/T2 times fit into this, and I'm pretty sure that the run was a couple laps shy of two miles.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hibernation

Does the weather suck where you are? Yeah, me too. Today it's cloudy and rainy, wet and cold with no sun and a biting wind. It's not too cold for running, really. But it's too gloomy to do anything enjoyable, or to enjoy anything. Unless you're really determined. Which I'm not.

I'm grumpy.

I bet you're feeling the same way. The weather sucks, and it's going to continue to suck for the next several weeks, if not a few more months.

It's hard to train when you're grumpy and the weather sucks. It's hard to remember that everyone else--all your competitors and colleagues--are going through the exact same thing. We've all been spending way too much time on the trainer/treadmill. We've all had to bundle up and slow down to the point that it's almost not worth going outside at all. And we're all starting to get so grumpy that we don't even want to do it.

We need some sun.

Unfortunately, I don't have the power to bring you the sun. What I can give you, though, is a little bit of exposure to the stars.

Watch these videos and remember the awesomeness that is triathlon. Remember what it feels like to cross the finish line. Remember that you are a part of all of it.

And remember that the long, boring, grump-inducing hours inside will be worth it come summer.

Geelong 70.3 (2010)


GPI Triathlon (2009)


Des Moines Hy-Vee Triathlon (2009)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Race Report: Not 4 Wimps

Note: This picture does not accurately convey the misery that is a 42 MPH headwind.

Well, the best I can say is that I'm not a wimp.

But looking back, I kind of wish I were.

Sunday morning, I woke up to the sound of the tree outside my bedroom scratching against the house. Mind you, this tree is not next to my window. No, this tree is next to a solid exterior wall that sits right next to my bed. When I can hear the wind whipping it around, it means it's indecently windy out there. Indecently, I say.

But since the Not 4 Wimps 10 miler is a trail run, I figured we'd be running in woods, protected from the wind for most of the race.

Yeah, not so much.

The course begins with a mile of pavement, mostly downhill, that leads down into some ATV trails that run along the Arkansas River. You run under a bridge (through sand), then back up onto the trails, which wind along for some miles through the woods (woods being a relative term here; it's still Kansas, after all). Turn around point for the 10k gives you a tough choice. If you decide to continue with the 10 mile, the course heads out (and up) onto a levee on the west side of the river. The levee is completely exposed on both sides, probably 15-20 ft above ground level. There are no trees. No windbreaks. No shelter. The course takes you directly north and west.

Did I mention that the wind was gusting from the NNW at about 40 MPH?

The course continues for about 1.5 miles like that, then you turn around and head back the way you came.

So . . . my race.

First off, the course starts downhill, and I probably went out too hard. I was running with a group from my gym, not really paying attention to speed. I was running comfortably, so I figured I'd be fine. I got dropped by the main group (this is not the kind of race that casual runners do, so it's not like there's a big group of 12-minute-milers for me to pass), but I was passing people, especially as we got into the technical sections--the sand, the winding trails, the up- and downhills.

It might have been the sand that really took me out of my comfort zone. I just tried to maintain a steady pace. Probably what I should have done was walk. About 5 minutes later, my stomach started to get really cranky. Really, really cranky. I've never cramped like that in a race, especially not at 2.5 miles into it. I was doubled over, holding my gut and wondering if I should just turn around and go back. I didn't, of course, but I got to see all the people I'd passed before as they blew by me.

I seriously re-adjusted my expectations, at this point. No longer was the goal to see how well I could do; now the goal was to see whether or not I could even make it through.

I got to the 10k turnaround/water stop, and seriously considered packing it in. It was not going to be a fun race, for me. Might as well throw in the towel, preserve what I could of my day, and head back early. But the name of the race is Not 4 Wimps, and damned if I was going to be a wimp about it.

Had I known where exactly the course was going, I may have chosen differently.

I have never run in winds like that. I've cycled in winds like that, but usually when the conditions are that bad, I just postpone a workout. It's not worth it to go out and have a crappy run just to say I got in my 10 miles for the day. So I would never willingly subject myself to the kind of suffering that I endured on that 1.5 mile stretch. There were times when I was moving my legs and not moving forward at all. Like running on a treadmill.

The real low point, though, was when I got a rock in my shoe and stopped to shake it out. The wind blew me over, and I realized suddenly (and painfully) that the levee is a prime spot for sand burrs. So I sat down to brush those off of my gloves and sock (so that I could put my shoe back on). But you know what? Sand burrs will also stick to your butt. I spent a good 5 minutes there trying to pull all of those damned stickers out of my hands, foot, and ass. Meanwhile, everyone passed me (including the cute girl I met before the race, who smiled and asked, "Did you fall?" as she breezed by me going the other direction).

The race got marginally better after the turnaround. Having a 40 MPH tailwind to push you along sure helps. But my gut still hurt like none other, and I still had to keep stopping to let the stomach cramps work their way out. Apologies to the few runners who were still behind me at that point. I know I was upwind from you. Sorry.

Stomach cramps got to be too much for me to bear somewhere between miles 7 and 8 (I think; my memory's kind of hazy). I started looking for a . . . secluded place. You know. Off the trail. Where no one could see me. Yes, I did. I had to. I felt a lot better afterwards. Dirty, though.

After my Alone Time, I felt able to run again, and finished the race relatively strong. Final time was 1:50:22 for an average pace of 11:02/mile. Pbthhhhh. That's what I think of my time. I mean, any time was probably great for this race, considering the course and the conditions. But I'm still not pleased with the way I performed, even factoring out the time spent picking sand burrs out of my body (still have splinters in my right middle finger, by the way) and (erm) squatting. It was a shitty run (and if you are a good person, you will ignore that pun).

In short, this was the worst race I've ever done (only thing worse was when Shawnee Mission got rained out last year, but I don't think that counts). And if wimpiness = whinyness, then I am the biggest wimp ever.