Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year, New Dreams

I've fought through a tough year.

My Jamesport farming internship ended badly, not at all like I'd hoped and expected. I found myself abruptly unemployed, without a location to meet with my personal training clients, with no source of income on the horizon. Moving back in with my parents in Wichita became a real possibility.

Things are getting better. I've found an apartment in Jamesport, and the landlord lets me pay in labor. I've scraped together enough odd jobs to pay the bare minimum in bills, food, and gas. I live in a building with central heat, instead of a yurt with a space heater and no insulation. I'm coming to terms with the changes of the past year, some good, some bad. I'm re-discovering myself, and the things I enjoy. I'm remembering that I get to choose who and how to be, and I'm establishing in my mind the kind of person I am at the core, and the kind of person I want to become.

I'm also getting back to triathlon.

Here's my plan:

In 2014, I want to race Ironman 70.3 Lawrence in June and the Rev3 half-distance at Cedar Point in September. I have family in Kansas and family in Ohio, so both races make sense geographically. I like that they'll book-end the 2014 season for me. And doing multiple 70.3 races in 2014 will prepare me for . . . 

Ironman Zurich in 2015.

That's right. I'm shooting for a full-distance race in 2015, and I'm rewarding myself (and my significant other) with a trip to Europe. I'm socking away as much money as I can spare (I am still mostly unemployed, after all), and hoping that I find gainful employment in time to save for the trip. I've got a year and a half to do it. So if you hear of any job openings, please let me know.

If you're interested in training along with me, I will post all of my training plans online for free use. I will try to get those up in the first week or two of the new year.

I hope you all had a fabulous holiday season. Let me know in the comments or on Facebook about your goals for 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

70.3 Kansas 2014: Week 1

First training week is over! I got through all nine workouts. I found a nice, cheap place to swim, went outside in sub-zero wind chills for a ride, and explored Midtown Kansas City via running. I feel very accomplished. Neither aches nor pains have troubled my training; so far, my body seems okay with the suddenly increased training volume. Except for my crotch. My crotch objects strongly to the sudden increase in bike saddle time.

I'm swimming at the Gregg/Klice Community Center near the Crosslands District of Kansas City. A swimming day pass costs only $2. There are no lap lanes, but so far I've had the pool mostly to myself. There were two women playing water basketball right next to me, the other day. They got into the pool in my lane just as I was swimming past the ladder. If they'd waited for five seconds, I would have been out of the way. Ah well. Can't expect everyone to know and follow basic pool etiquette. The lifeguards there have been fantastic, though. And I can get a month pass to swim there for only $15.

I did my first ride, power intervals, on the trainer. For the second ride, a simple one-hour bike, I ventured outside on my cyclocross bike. My parents gave me some terrific thermals for Christmas--very warm! I figured they would be enough to protect me from the negative wind chills. I wore bike shorts, my new thermals, a jersey, a heavy cycling jacket, a balaclava, my ninja mask, two pairs of socks, and snow gloves.

Bike ninja!
But it wasn't enough! My eyes started watering and stinging as soon as I started moving. After half an hour, my feet were freezing. I started worrying about frostbite. I needn't have worried. When I got back, my feet hurt like the skin was being peeled off in strips. But they were fine within five minutes. For my third ride, I got to explore the Brush Creek Trail in Kansas City. And the weather was much nicer, with temps in the high forties, minimal wind, and a cloudless, sunny sky.

My three runs all went well, although I'm slower than I like, this early in the season. I'm enjoying running in Midtown KC; much easier than biking in Midtown. I've found such a nice swimming facility, and I've found good running areas, but I'm still figuring out the best places to ride in Kansas City. If you know of any good cycling routes, or any riding groups that will tolerate a rider in the 16-18 MPH range, please leave me a comment letting me know!

So that's my training so far this year. Have you started training yet? How is it going? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Race Report: St. Louis Hot Chocolate 15k

Not Photoshopped at all.
A client asked me to sign up for this race with her. We trained together, and good thing, because I wouldn't have run much if I hadn't had the accountability of a fellow athlete. She said she would have balked at the last minute if I hadn't agreed to go. Good thing we had each other.

Several days before the event, the race organizers sent out an e-mail warning of dangerously low race-day temperatures in the St. Louis forecast. They made changes to the start times and start orders, and warned of temperatures barely above 0* F. I dislike running in anything below 16*, taking into account wind chill and all. Besides which, I'd blown off my last two weeks of training, and wasn't feeling very enthusiastic about running 9.3 miles.

My enthusiasm waned further after a few hours worth of snow and sleet accumulated the Friday night before the Sunday race. We had planned to leave from Chillicothe around noon on Saturday. Since it took nearly twice as long as usual for me to drive from Jamesport to Chillicothe, we didn't leave until closer to 1, and the drive to St. Louis was harrying and dangerous. Since there was no race-day packet pick-up and we were running terribly late, we asked a friend to pick up our race numbers and goodie bags from the expo.

Race morning wasn't nearly as cold as I had expected, primarily due to a lack of wind. I dressed for super cold weather, though: thermal tights, t-shirt, arm warmers, fleece cycling coat, two pairs of socks, wind-proof gloves, hat, and ninja mask.
Biking ninja!
I totally overdressed.

I lined up in Corral A feeling profoundly out-of-place. I seeded myself at a 9:00/mile pace, wildly exaggerating my own ability. I found myself surrounded not only by the runners who think they're fast (you know who I'm talking about), but by the the ones who actually are. I, in contrast, am not fast. Especially this year. I am slow. Painfully so.

The race started, and other runners streamed past me for the first two miles. After that, the streaming was slower, but still consistent. I ran slowly, allowing my body to warm into the distance. After the first half mile, the road sloped steadily up. That's where my feet and calves started hurting. By the top of the hill, about a mile in, I had already pulled down my running mask and peeled off my jacket. In the next mile, my hip flexors started talking. After 2.8 miles, the 5k and 15k courses split. I seriously considered taking the shorter, less painful path; my body was already screaming for me to stop. But I gritted my teeth, and kept left at the fork for the full 15k.

Towards the end of mile 4, I pulled down my arm warmers and yanked off my hat. I was running in tights and a T-shirt, my jacket tied around my waist like a fit Kurt Cobain. I'd badly overdressed. The coat, with my arm warmers and gloves zipped into the pockets was heavy and unwieldy, and contributing to the spasms in my hips. I usually get a second wind during miles 5-7, but in this race, it lasted from mile 5 to mile 5.5. Mile 6 was a long, steady, unending climb. That's where I started mentally swearing, and where I took a few walking breaks to let my hip flexors unwind.

The race became mentally easier after that long uphill; I realized that I would hurt just as much running slowly as running fast, so I may as well get through the pain as quickly as possible. That thought kept me going until the last mile, when my body almost shut down. My hip flexors and calves cramped so badly that I could barely keep moving forward. I shuffled my feet off and on, fighting through the pain on the last hill, then pushed hard for the last quarter mile, crossing the final timing mats and staggering to a stop. With cessation of movement, my body immediately cramped, and I started getting cold. I grabbed a bottle of water and a cup of Gatorade while I waited for my friends to cross the line.

After the race, we got souvenir bowls that held a cup of hot cocoa, a well of melted chocolate, and some snacks for dipping. I drank the hot cocoa as we started our walk back to the hotel (we stayed within walking distance of the start and finish lines to avoid traffic and parking issues the day of). By the time I got back to the hotel room. My chocolate had frozen solid. It was still delicious, though; I dug it out with my pocket knife one bite at a time.

I took a shower, and the hot water washed away the remaining muscle spasms. I'm not sure what caused me to cramp like that; it was probably a combination of the cold weather and hilly course. Whatever it was, I haven't hurt that badly while working out since . . . I don't know. At the time, I was convinced that I'd never experienced such pain. But you know how that goes. I probably think that at some point during every race.

I'd never done a 15k before, so I can proudly claim that I set a new PR at this race. I got a cool sweater in my goodie bag. Also, CHOCOLATE! Chocolate is a great reason to do any race.

St. Louis Hot Chocolate 15k
1:36:36 (10:22/mile)
978th place (80/143 age group, 548/1081 female)