Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Charlottesville 10-miler, yay! Snowy Sunday, boo!

Fast feet or slow shutter speed?
I am not sure if I can say the Charlottesville 10-miler is a bit of a family tradition but since my brother once lived in Charlottesville he has run it at least 6 times. I ran it last year. It was my first experience being a bandit in an organized race. I needed an 10 mile run so rather than map out a course for me to get lost on I opted to "borrow" the marked course. Not this year! Completely legal, I was given an entry into the 10 mile race for my birthday.  My brother and his wife also received entries as presents. I am not sure what it says about your family's values when the presents you receive include an entry into a 10 mile running race?

The race went well for me despite a rough start. I woke up Saturday morning and I could not physically get out of the bed. I don't know if it was a dizzy light-headedness or vertigo but every time I tried to stand up the room would start spinning. I was able to make it to the floor where I laid as long as I could. I was starting to think everyone was going to leave for the race and I would be stuck on the ground! Not a great start to a race day! Eventually I was able to make it up and I fought through my morning routine. Once I was up and upstairs my equilibrium seemed to balance out a bit more but I still felt queasy. I ended up feeling queasy all day but didn't have another bout with the dizziness until I was taking a post-race shower. I am not sure exactly what caused the spell but I will definitely look into it if the problem persists.

The fleet and yes I was cold.
Last year, the weather for the 10-miler was perfect. It was a perfect mildly warm spring day and all the plants were blooming. Not this year! It was down-right cold. With my niece in tow it took us a little bit longer to get to the race start but I think that was a good thing. We had just enough time to go to the bathroom, warm up a bit, and head for the start line. The temperature was in the mid to low thirties so I had to laugh to myself (and out load a little bit) when as I am standing there some guy runs into the crowd wearing his USAT Worlds tank-top onesie. I am adding that one to my "Top Ten ways to spot a triathlete at a non-triathlon event" list. Geez. I think I am going to take a page out of Angelia Jolie's book and start getting tatoos of the latitude and longitude for each unique race I compete in. What do you think ?
I was kidding. I digress . . . so back to the run. The race started on an uphill and ended downhill. I was amazed at how many people were huffing and puffing after that very first hill. I took it easy and actually my first mile turned out to me my slowest. I say I had a perfect start. Sadly I did not have a strategy for this race. I always like to have a strategy or a plan or a target pace, something. This time I just wanted to run and have fun and make my family proud. I did get caught up in the competitive aspect of racing. You know when you have been running close to someone and you guys just flip-flop back and forth while you both pretend it is not happening you are both wondering when the other person is finally going to break? I got caught up in that a couple of times and by mile 5 of the race I concluded women might just be more competitive than men. At one point I was running along and missed a water station because it was in a corner and only two people were there to hand out waters. The guy in front of me grabbed the last cup of water so when I ran by the volunteer was restocking. No biggie. Luckily there was another water stop around the corner maybe .25 miles away. I went to finally get my water, slowing down slightly for the approach, seamlessly grabbing the cup without getting me or volunteer wet. I was so pleased with myself (yay for small victories!) until a girl right behind me, right on my heels, let out this guttural "AWW SHIT!" Apparently I grabbed "her" water. Ooops. Take it easy . . . . Well that must have pissed her off enough that after we finished running through the "mall" she just took off. Well at least I could do something to motivate her . . . .

Unfortunately there were not a lot of spectators out this year but everyone out there was super enthusiastic. It was so cold I have to applaud everyone out there. Like last year there was a group of students dressed in tuxedos and black cocktail dresses on the road that runs behind the lawn. Now when have you seen that? When we came back through the mall the second time we were greeted by two bluegrass bands (I wanted to linger but pressed on). In the neighborhoods anything from classical music to country was blaring from the homes and some of the older residents were cheering, laughing, having a great time . . . and downing what had to be Irish coffees.

Great race. Great course. Fast runners. I highly recommend it.
Charlottesville 10 miler

Then came Sunday. I woke up Sunday morning to find snow on the the ground. And then it snowed some more, big fluffy snowflakes. Really? It is the end of March.  I guess you have to endure the fluctuations in the spring weather to get to enjoy all of spring's gifts. I am just glad I was not racing Cool Breeze . . .

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


This past weekend was a very enjoyable weekend athletically. In fact this was my first triple workout (ala Haycraft GTWD). I have a few rules I go by when training. One is that I do not workout on Friday afternoons. Usually it has been a long week at work and a long week of workouts. It is tempting to make up a missed workout on Friday but I have to give myself the chance to wind down from the long week and a chance to gear up for the weekend. My second rule was not to do all three disciples in one day. I know people who train full time do it all the time and are actually encouraged to do it but I work full time and train part time. I figured if I wanted to do a triathlon I would just do a triathlon! Well rule 2 is now out the window. Time restrictions are time restrictions so I put on my big girl pants this past Saturday and started my fist triple brick by heading to MAC masters at 5:30 AM. The Charlotte Latin pool is one of those pools that is short course in width and long course in length. It is usually set up for us short course but when I walked in (yes a little late Aquageek) I was pleasantly surprised to find it set up long course - my preferred course. Unfortunately the workout was not  predominately distance freestyle but a mixture of stroke work and then 50s and 100s free. To be honest I really enjoyed the break from the distance grind (just don't repeat that to anyone). After 3000m we closed the session with 4x100 descend. Aquageek beat me by 1 sec . . . again. After a short team breakfast I headed out to workout dos.

I met Man-cess at the Audrey Kell High School in south Charlotte. Man-cess and I both wanted to break out the tribikes so rather than organize a big group ride we rode by ourselves. He wanted three hours on the bike and I wanted to 2 so we compromised on 2.5. We had a great ride that took us out towards the more rural suburbs of south Charlotte and South Carolina. We had a comfortably fast pace going for the first half and when we turned to head back to the school we realized why . . . tail wind! The route back was all against the wind and when we finally made it back to the school, we both felt sufficiently worked. At one point Man-cess was ahead of me and I heard him call out, "man is it windy !?!" Next thing I know he is rolling back towards me - and then behind me - "your turn" he says. I had to laugh, that is such a Man-cess move! While I started this ride with arm warmers they did not last long and by the end I was sufficiently warm. It was only 77 out but it felt hot! Like 92 degrees hot! I only brought two small water bottles with me on the bike and I knew before I moved on to workout tres that I was not sufficiently hydrated. I guess it always takes the first ride in a new season to work all the kinks out! I actually learned three lessons on this ride: 1) Man-cess can actually be a good training partner especially when you are not training in his "dead zone." Oh wait . . . I mean "grey area", 2) Always prepare to over-hydrate, 3)Make sure your ridiculously expensive Garmin is charged or otherwise you are carrying around a ridiculously expensive piece of plastic.

The reason the bike ride started and ended at Audrey Kell High School was so I could be in close proximity of a track. My first triple ended in a short track workout. The track at Audrey Kell is rubber and a really nice track. A lot better than the cracked track with vegetative outcroppings I typically run at Hawthorne High School. Yeah it might have some character but the fact that it is a 5 minute jog from my house makes it perfect! In addition to my first triple this was my first true track session of the year. I have been to the track to do drill work but this was an actual track workout. Oh my runner friends would be so proud! It was hot and brutal but I got it done! AND I got it done slightly faster than I was expecting. It might have been because I was motivated by this guy also running the track. Man he was flying . . . um and I, like um . . . had to get out of the way. He was putting down fast laps, running the stadium stairs, doing push ups, pull ups . . . he was still there when I felt. I should have asked him for an autograph! He was wearing those brightly colored and hideously ugly running flats that are all the rage. To pull those off, you have to be fast! Man-cess has a pair . . . need I say more?

Triple. Done.

The rest of my Saturday included a massage and facial thanks to a well spent Groupon and a surprise 30th birthday party for Man-cess. At the party there was a life size cut out of him in transition at last year's Charleston 1/2 IM. He is wearing his aerohelmet and not one but TWO watches. Maybe one watch would show him faster than the other? Maybe he was afraid he was going to get lost on the course? Maybe he was planning to contest his chiptime? Fourth lesson of the day, some of us trigeeks are geeker than others.

Corporate Cup 2011: They might be giants?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Corporate Cup Recap

Thanks for all the support. Things are getting a bit better a work or at least I am getting more sleep at night! I guess there are highs and lows to everything and you just gotta roll!

Yeah, I know I run funny.
My mom tells me all
 the time (and this is the
better picture).
So this past weekend I ran in Charlotte's Corporate Cup, the race I previewed with Giants 1&2 and Vespa the other week. This time it was not raining but the morning started off surprisingly cold. To be perfectly honest, I did  not want to run in this road race. When it comes down to it I do not want to run in any road race, pretty much like no runner wants to swim in a swim meet. The only run I want to run in is the Charlottesville 10 miler (next week) because my brother and sister-in-law will be running in it too and  it was my birthday present AND the world's cutest niece will be there. I can be pretty much bribed to do anything if it means I get to spend time with my niece. Anyway, the night before the run I went to the Bobcats vs Portland Trailblazers game. The game was pretty lackluster until the 4th quarter. Up until then the only highlight was seeing Gerald Wallace again. Man, the Bobcats never should have traded him . . . Not only is he a great player but he is a team player and a great leader. At the start of the 4th quarter Stephen Jackson hit three 3 pointers to give the Bobcats almost a 10 point lead and that charge really set the tone for the final 12 minutes. The Bobcats ended up winning the game by 5 points. In a post game interview Stephen Jackson told reporters "I just knew that what the team has been missing in the fourth quarter is someone to go to in the fourth. DJ (Augustin) was telling me before the game, 'Be ready to finish and take us home at the end of the game'."

The fourth quarter is where games are won or lost right? I decided to use this as my motivation for my race in the morning. Finish strong. I my plan going in was to break the 1/2 marathon into 4 descending 5Ks and then giving anything I had to whatever was left of the course (0.7 miles to be precise). That was my plan and when I got up that morning I was dead set on making it happen . . . until I was at the start line. I randomly met up with Giants 1&2 about 10 mins to the start and as we were standing there I started to doubt my strategy of descending the 5Ks. The first 5K would be relatively flat and then each 5K after that contained a hill with varying degrees of difficulty which would make any effort to descend quite difficult. I decided to just see what happens and roll with it because being rigid when you are racing is not likely to lead to good things.

my number should just say "wide load"
Geez, is it me or just the picture?
The hardest part of any race is the first quarter. I swam the 200 free as my main event all through high school and I had to learn to swim that very first 50 slow and I am talking it had to feel like warm-up slow. The first 50 is always your fastest and it is always deceptively fast so if you work it too hard, even without knowing it, you will blow the entire race. I tried to remember that during the first part of the run. It had to feel like a warm up . . . and it did, so much so I was very tempted to nab one of the pancakes Denise was handing out (thanks for cheering for me by the way!!). Still, I think my first mile was my fastest but I was able to relax from there into a good pace and breathing rhythm. I took a conservative approach to the inclines and tried to enact my descend on the flats. Giant 1 and I had a great rhythm going so when we hit the inclines at Roswell I knew we just had to work through them to recover on Queens before building up to the uphill finish. I have to go on a tangent here and say how proud I am of Giants 1&2. Both PR'd, Giant 1 by 8 minutes!!! He had a great race and I am enjoying so much his process of improvement. He is going to have a great year this year! Unfortunately somewhere in the last three miles I lost Giant 1. I thought he was right behind me because I kept hearing a garmin beeping and booping but apparently it was someone else because when I turned onto Morehead Giant 1 was nowhere around. As I ran up Morehead my calves started to cramp - you know those cramps where you feel like your legs are going to just buckle under you . . .?  Man, I was bummed. Other than the cramps, I felt great and strong. Stronger at the finish than in the beginning. Bummer.  I did not bring any salt tablets with me as it was so cold I did not think I needed them. My last mile was not exactly what I envisioned but I didn't let the ol calvies get the best of me either. Congrats to everyone who ran and cheered. Special congrats to teammates Giants 1&2 and Dan the Man. Great racing!

Sunday was a late day 50 mile spin through Tank Town with the Master. What a gorgeous ride! I was worried my legs would "tank" but they felt great, even when the Master lead us off-road to avoid a slow moving train. One of the warmer spring afternoons, it was one of those moments when I was out on my bike, no agenda, no exepectations, just loving and living the moment.

Aquageek quote of the day: "I always swim better when you are at practice. I had every intention of being a major slacker this morning . . ." 
Aquageek is just happy because he kicked my butt . .  .again.

Monday, March 7, 2011

It is just a hobby . . .

I hate having to remind myself triathlon is just a hobby and I actually work for a living. I guess this is where the addiction comes in. I hate that I have not posted a new entry now three weeks. I committed to posting at least once every two weeks but to really try for a weekly posting. My poll has come and gone . . and nothing. Unfortunately things going on at work have really thrown me off my game. In fact Saturday at swim practice Aquageek said I had lost my sparkle. I smiled inside for second, flattered someone (even if that someone is Aquageek) thought I had "sparkle", but then I was disappointed that I had let the stress of my work interfere with ANY part of my life outside of work. I do have to remark how exhausting stress can be. In the past three weeks I have not changed my workouts, in length or intensity. I have not been working longer hours. I have not picked up any new hobbies . . . or cats to take care of. I have just been stressed thanks to issues at work. The stress has affected my ability to sleep and when I am not working out, I am thinking about work. I am finding out that thinking and stressing about work is far more exhausting than any training regime I could come up with on my own. Some people have told me to lay off the workouts with the idea they are only stressing me out more and adding to my exhaustion. I guess they don't understand addiction but the time I feel my best is when I am in my kit and getting ready to roll. I am just thankful I have an outlet. My poor coworker has blood pressure problems and spent the day in the hospital due to a panic attack (she thought she was having a heart attack). Yikes! Which reminds me of a funny story . . . . So at work we are required to have a health coach in order to get a $600 reduction on our health insurance costs. After meeting my goal of reaching a higher HDL level my "coach" decided I needed a new goal. She asked my how much I exercised so I told her - all of it. Not quite the Haycraft GTWD rendition but a pretty detailed idea of what I do on a weekly basis. Here is her response:

"Thank you for your response. It sounds like you are getting in quite a bit of exercise as well as a wide variety of activities which is great. How long have you maintained this current routine? Also, do you foresee any barriers to being able to continue this routine? Overall, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends getting in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity cardio per week at a minimal level. It is also recommended to get in at least 2 strength training sessions per week. Do you feel we need to change your overall goal from improving cholesterol to improving/maintaining your current fitness level? "

Ok, ok, before you all proclaim me as the world's biggest snob I do want you to first recognize that I do have an addiction. I cannot even imagine only working out 75 minutes a week. I simply cannot fathom a lifestyle where that would be acceptable. I am very thankful I am in a position physically to work out as much as I do but I really just wanted to highlight the humor in this exchange. What we "triathletes" accept as normal and what the rest of the world deems as abnormal and unsustainable. It reminds me of those You Tube videos that has been forwarded to every triathlete demonstrating how lame we all sound to anyone other than ourselves. Oh ok I think I found one - how easy was that!

Speaking of tri-dorks . . .. I ran this past Sunday in the rain. For ten miles. With three other people. After riding in the rain the day before. Yes we are different breed of folks but we love it, every minute of it! After much debate over what time to start the run in order to "beat the rain" (like anyone can beat the rain, ha!), my typical 8 AM run was moved right smack into the middle of a downpour at 9:30. The Giant, Vespa, and I all met at the Dowd YMCA where we piled in one car, steaming up the windows while we synchronized our Garmins. When Legs (also known as Giant II) showed up, we were committed! Giants I and II are both about a foot taller than me. Occasionally when we are running I will suddenly find myself running between them becoming more and more aware of my short stature. So as a side note: I always run on the outside of the Giants or behind them basking in a little run draft action. While Vespa stacked the height average a little more in my favor, his superior agility really made for a different kind of run. I have never seen someone bob and weave, duck and puddle jump so fast while still maintaining a normal run cadence. We ran 10 miles of the Corporate Cup 1/2 marathon course, in the rain. It is good challenging course so I am excited to see how the race plays out on Saturday. We each had on a Garmin and when one person beeped, three more soon followed. Of course we then compared the splits because we are dorks like that. The run ended with a short stretching session and a brief discussion on when to shave the legs. Did I mention I was the only girl?

Well I am definitely disappointed in the results from last month's poll. I do not think there were enough votes to definitively decide what ironman to do. As the sign up times get closer, I will certainly keep you all posted on the pros and cons of each. Those three are on the table. Feel free to email me if you have any ideas!