Thursday, July 31, 2008

Nice to meet you!

So this is my first attempt at blogging. I hope you forgive my lack of writing style - I'm sure it will develop as I develop as a blogger. I guess the first question is - Why am I blogging?

I became a reader of blogs through, and became a secret reader of personal blogs when a concerned citizen sent me a blog of a woman who had been run off a road by a car, to make sure I was aware of the dangers and biking safely. I must say that at first I thought blogging was lame - I mean at least for me to do - but I found myself drawn to certain blogs (I would check them daily for new posts) and impressed by people's willingness to express their joys and their frustrations. It seemed to be a good way to internalize the daily grind, a cathartic release of tension, and an opportunity to develop as an individual.

I started writing race reports when I excitedly completed my first sprint tri and wanted to tell everyone I knew every single detail of the race. It was fun to send them to my family and friends, and share my excitement with them. But there is so much that goes on between races! So many highs and lows, and maybe there's an opportunity for self-growth in exploring the daily/weekly bump and grind instead of just the races.

So here I go... here I begin. I am now a blogger.

This past weekend I participated in the Chances for Children sprint triathlon. I should preface this by saying that I'm not fast at any of the events, but I thoroughly enjoy the process of slow self-improvement and meeting interesting "back of the packers" during races. I had trained for 12 weeks with this race in mind, but I was unfortunately in a biking accident on race day, and so my "run" was a very hobbly walk. I did finish, although the finish line had been removed by the time I got there, so the website shows I DNF'd. I guess at least "I" know that I spent 3 hours in the blazing heat of the valley in July, and that I persevered.

I'm over the disappointment of not being able to race the way I had trained (I'll keep telling myself that and maybe soon it will be true) and I'm now focusing on a sprint tri in Mission Bay, CA in October. This race will be special for several reasons - 1. It will be my fourth official tri, 2. My dad will get to see me race, 3. I've convinced my best friend "Lilac" to participate with me, 4. It's a women's only event for a good cause, and 5. It won't be in triple digit heat! The Mission Bay tri is 12 weeks away, and I have signed up so I'm commited to train myself, to help Lilac learn how to prepare (yes, I made her a 12 week training program in my OCD fashion), to ensure that I enjoy the process, and to celebrate the experience!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Race Report: Chances for Children– 400m/12mi/5k

Pre-Race: Everything that I have read about triathlon experiences have had the same theme – you do your best in your training, but on race day, you have to be able to roll with the punches – because so much of triathlon success requires perfect conditions, perfect planning, and perfect performance. In preparation for this race, I trained for over 73 hours, and completed 457.5 miles (17+ hours of swimming and 16 miles, 24+ hours of biking and 322 miles, and 30+ hours of running completing 118 miles).

I was physically prepared. I had not only put in the mileage, but I trained doing multiple events in a single day several times a week to teach my body how to complete all three events in a row.

I was mentally prepared. I had really improved my focus and my confidence by completing multiple events in a day, and I had worked on visualization throughout my training, and visualized my success for each part of the race.

The weather was certainly not perfect, but I had trained for that. I had hiked outside, and I had been ensuring that I would be well hydrated for days going into the race and prepared for the heat – as well as you can be prepared when your bike cyclocomputer tells you it’s 117 degrees out with 30% humidity – especially when that same computer tells you it’s exactly 73 degrees in your 73 degree house J Still I had set my race expectations with the heat in mind, and I had prepared.

Unfortunately, things were not perfect today, because as I was riding my bike from the parking lot to the transition area before the race, a car ran me off the road, and I fell hard off of my bike. (I did NOT hit my head, for those of you who are worried) No broken bones, just road rash on my shoulder, elbow, forearm, hip, and knee, and a bad contusion just under my knee cap (Lilac said it looked like I had two knee caps). When Lilac saw it, she gave me the “Are you sure you want to do this, because you could decide not to race, and I wouldn’t think any less of you” look. It was painful, but it seemed like I was able to move without a limp and with full motion – and I had trained too hard to give up before the race even started. The Landis people did a check on my bike, and confirmed that it was safe to ride. So without further ado.... the race that would determine my unbreakable will, as number #105.

The Swim: The swim occurred indoors in the Kiwanis beach pool. This is an interesting pool as it has a slope similar to a beach, so the first half of the pool is 3 ft deep and under. This was great, because you had to run into the water, then dive in, swim, swim around the buoy, swim back to the “beach”, stand up and run out of the pool, around a cone, and back into the pool. Basically, this means that I only had to swim about 200 of the 400 meters, and I got plenty of time to breathe as I sloshed through the water. I hope all events are held here in the future. :) The swimmers started every 30 seconds, based on previous swim times at this distance, and I was about halfway in the group. At this point, the cool water felt soothing on my cuts and bruises, and I swam quite well. I passed 4 people and was only passed by 1 person. Swim time: 8:01 mins

T1: The path to T1 was pretty long, but I jogged in. I felt ok, at least I wasn’t feeling much pain. I got dressed, took a swig of lemonade, grabbed my bike, and a little nervously took off. T1: less than 5 mins.

The Bike: As far as training goes, I’ve done all of my biking inside, although about 1/3rd of it was on my road bike on a trainer, so I felt better about my seat, and my hands, though they still swell and are somewhat uncomfortable. My pre-race goal was to get through the 12 miles in about an hour, but not to hammer through, and absolutely not to tire out my legs more than necessary. That’s still very slow for a biker, but I have none of the cool things to make you faster (clipless shoes, aero bars, quads from hell, etc) and it was significantly faster than I had raced for Tri for the Cure, so I thought it was a good goal. The bike was 4 laps of the course, which went from All American Way, to Guadalupe, to Kyrene, to Baseline, to Mill, to All American Way. Baseline was by far the most fun, as it has a slight downhill, and meant that I could coast at over 12 miles per hour – so I did J. I felt pretty good, and I worked hard to not think about all of the people zooming by me. I can name at least 4 people who passed me twice, and one person who passed me 3 times! My knee was my biggest concern, and it seemed to be holding up pretty well, so I concentrated on biking my own race. Bike time: 1:18:00

T2: Once again, T2 was a challenge. There were no hydration stations on the bike, and it was hot, so I sat in T2, and drank some water that my lovely assistant Lilac gave me, and ate some pretzels in an effort to take in some salt. As soon as I got up, I realized that it had been a bad idea to stop (not that I really had any other option) because my knee was now throbbing, and there was absolutely no way that I could run on it. This was decision time. After thinking about quitting for half a second, I decided to try to walk it through. I told Lilac that I was going to walk, and she immediately offered to walk it with me – even though she was in uncomfortable looking flip flops. And she did! T2: greater than 5 mins

The “Run”: I could not have done 3.1 miles limping along without her. She has such a calming presence, that I didn’t even think about being disappointed that the run that I had put so much time and effort into was non-existent. All of the speedwork and brick sessions, and hill work, and long runs… and I didn’t run one step for the entire race. Even walking was a challenge at that point. I can generally walk a mile easily in 15 minutes, but this was more like 30 minutes a mile. So what I was hoping would take 40-45 minutes wound up taking closer to 90 minutes.

About a mile into the “run”, I had bad stomach cramps, and really really needed to find a restroom. We finally saw one, up a hill that looked like the Himalayas to me and my sore body. As we were walking up the hill, I again thought about quitting, and when we rounded the corner into what I thought was the ladies room, and realized there was no door there, for a minute, I gave up. That missing door pushed me over the edge. However, my faithful companion just kept walking towards the bathroom, and ignored my “That’s it, I quit!” wail. She helped me get undressed, and let me sit in the cool bathroom for about 10 minutes by myself. That bathroom stop was probably the best thing that happened to me, because I felt less dizzy, no stomach issues, and was a little revived after sitting in the shade…. And so we continued with no mention of the fact that I had already quit.

The volunteers were great, and supportive, and they cheered me on at all of the many water stops on the run course. I eventually worked out a system of dumping the ice cold water on my head, and drinking the lukewarm Gatorade. Lilac was with me every painful step of the way. We reiterated my positive mantras “I do triathlons to push myself past where I think I can go, and what I think I can do.”, “This is a celebration of my hard work.”, and of course “I have an unbreakable will!”.

Post Race: I was the absolute last finisher. I was so much the last finisher that the Finisher arch had been taken down before I got there. Mine was the last bike left in transition – even all of the racks had been packed up. But Lilac cheered me, the Landis folks were there and cheered for me, and I’ve never felt so proud of myself for completing something that I set out to do, even when the odds weren’t in my favor.

Today I learned that being a champion isn’t about beating other athletes, and it isn’t about conquering a distance. Being a champion is training as hard as you can, rolling with the punches, and following your dreams – even if they lead you to a place you didn’t think you could go.

Overall: Dead last and couldn’t be prouder! Overall time: About 3 hours, but the timing board was picked up before I got there.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Race Report: ARR Summer Series #3 – Rio Vista Park – 5K

Pre-Race: For those of you who have never heard of it, Rio Vista Park is on 88th Ave and Thunderbird, in Peoria. It’s about as far away from my home as you can be and still be considered part of the Valley. Just getting to the park took us an hour – and felt like a mini-road trip! I picked Lilac up at her man's Dad’s house down the street at 4:45am. Let the record show that when I passed the church sign on the way, it said that the temperature was 94 degrees. Let the record also show that the sun did not rise until 5:24am this morning. Which means it was still pitch black out at 4:45, and 94 degrees. This will become important shortly. We had discussed the temperatures the day before and wisely decided to bring our camelbaks. It should also be noted that I have been suffering from double ear infections, and a sinus infection for the last 10 days… and so the race was about week earlier than I would have preferred.

We found Rio Vista Park pretty easily, got our numbers, heard the news about Flag Shorts Guy’s knee, and found a bathroom before the race. The place was pretty packed, and there were a lot of kids on hand. ARR was also sponsoring a barbeque post race, so the charcoal was lit and making it smell like the 4th of July!

The Race: As I alluded to with my commentary about sinus infections and the heat, the race was… pretty much abysmal. It was Hot HOT HOT!!! My breathing was out of control and I knew right off that this was going to be more walk than run. Thankfully my running buddy never cares what the pace is. I’m so grateful to Lilac – she made the race enjoyable! It was an out and back course, which means that on the way out we got to see people really struggling, sweating, and gasping to get through their way back. I don’t know about anyone else, but that never gets me excited to go run harder. I still look at them and think “Look at those fools killing themselves out here on a holiday!! Where’s the fun in that?” I think it was much more fun to do the race the way we did it – cheering on all the people on their way back – especially kids and people who looked like they were struggling – and there were a lot of people struggling out there in the heat!

According to recent studies, for every 5 degrees over 65, you have to add 30 seconds to your mile pace to keep your heart rate working at the same level. At the 95+ degree mark, that meant adding 3 minutes to each mile. Since we are already so blazing fast, that means running about a 16 minute mile… which means we could pretty leisurely walk the same pace! Of course there’s nothing leisurely about the temperatures. It was so hot that I was actually having a hard time drinking - and it was bothering my stomach. It wasn’t all bad though – there were several lessons to learn:
1. Don’t get up at 4am on 4tH of July to go run a race in another hemisphere when the temperature is 95+ degrees. No, just kidding…
2. Make sure you drink a lot BEFORE the race… so you don’t have to depend on the camelback as much during the race – because you frankly can’t drink what you need to during the race.
3. The best part of a summer triathlon is at least you get into a pool first, and get to be cool and wet for the rest of the race. :)
4. Sometimes you have to re-evaluate your expectations, and roll with it – without hating yourself for being “weak”. Yes, I’ve been talking about doing well at the summer series since LAST summer, but I have trained as hard as I could, and I can’t run through a sinus infection. And that’s ok. The race is the celebration of the hard work, training, and overall wellness.

The fact of the matter is that Lilac and I were out there (before the sun rose, on 4th of July in another hemisphere and in debilitating heat) and we were enjoying our health, and our friendship. The time is irrelevant. We went, we ran, and we conquered the same 3.1 miles as everyone else out there. And, let the record show that I walked away from this race without a stress fracture like last year’s SS#3 race – that means I must be a little wiser this year too!

Post Race: 47:39 (15:20 pace), 657 out of 679, 27 out of 29 for 25-29 year old girls. 13 out of 48 for the series!! WOO HOO! My goal is top 10 by the end of the series. Oh, and the church sign on the way back at 8am said 104 degrees. :)