Posts Tagged Rest
There’s no running partner quite like a dog. The uncontrollable joy when you grab your dog’s leash is infectious and is almost guaranteed to get you out of the house to hit the roads or the trails. And who else can we convince to run in rain, snow, sleet, and even a stiff Kansas wind with us? Whether a seasoned runner or a newbie, your dog can help keep you motivated in your toughest moments and be there to share your greatest runs. My dog, Tara, has helped me train for five half marathons. She keeps me going on those tough long runs when I just want to take a break and she races me, pushing me faster, when I’m working on speed. In honor of our upcoming Dog-N-Jog race this weekend, I’ve put together 10 tips for beginning a running program with your pup.
1. Warning: Always Consult a Physician Before Beginning an Exercise Routine
We see these signs and warnings every time we go to the gym or read about starting a new exercise routine, and the same goes for our dogs. It’s a good idea to take a trip to the veterinarian before beginning an exercise program with your dog, particularly if she hasn’t had a complete physical in awhile. Just like in people, we want to make sure there are no heart, lung, or musculoskeletal abnormalities before beginning a running program. Also, ask your veterinarian to teach you how to evaluate your dog’s Body Condition Score to determine if she’s at a good weight, which will be helpful for you to evaluate her condition as you increase your mileage. And if your dog is under two years old, make sure to ask what age it is okay to start running so that the repetitive physical stress does not affect joint and bone development in young dogs.
2. Know Your Dog
It’s obvious from the vastly different physical characteristics that different breeds of dog were bred for different purposes and have different strengths and weaknesses. While our herding dogs and sledding dogs may be able to accompany you on even your longest distance runs, smaller breeds and dogs with flattened faces (e.g. pugs, bulldogs, etc.) may only be able to run shorter distances due to their conformation. It’s important to recognize your dog’s abilities and keep your expectations in line so that you are not pushing your dog beyond his physical capabilities.
3. Start Slowly
If your dog has been a couch potato her entire life, or even if she’s active but has never done any endurance running, it’s important to build up slowly to avoid injuries. I follow the same general rules for building doggy training plans as for people – build weeks increasing no more than 10% total mileage and no more than 10% long run distance interspersed every 2-3 weeks with a step back or recovery week. If you are already running consistently, you may want to plan some runs in which you can run a short loop with your dog, drop him off at the house and then continue on the rest of your run until you’ve built up your dog’s endurance.
4. Be Aware of the Weather
Unlike people who can sweat, dogs use panting as their primary mechanism for cooling themselves. Because dogs are also extremely willing to please, they may push themselves past the point of safety on hot days. If you notice your dog is excessively panting, trying to seek shade, or lay down during a run, it’s time to stop and let them cool down. Tara is fairly heat tolerant for a German Shepherd Dog, so my general rule of thumb is no more than 3-5 easy miles when it’s over 80 degrees F. You will need to find the comfortable point for your own dog, and avoid pushing him beyond his tolerance.
And on that note, if you need water on a run, there’s a good chance your dog does too! For short runs (under 6 miles or so), I don’t carry water and have found that Tara will not drink even if I offer it. On longer runs, especially on warm days, I offer water every time I take a sip. You can teach your dog to drink from a bottle or there are small collapsible bowls you can use that will fit in a hydration belt. Since Tara has never learned to drink from a bottle, in a pinch I will pour water into a cupped hand and let her take a few sips. There’s no need to gorge themselves on water, just enough to quench their thirst.
This is a tough aspect to cover, and could fill an entire blog since such a large percentage of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Running is a great way to help your pup get more exercise and lose some of that weight, if needed. You may also be helping your dog live longer, as some studies have demonstrated that thinner dogs may have greater longevity. If your dog is already a good weight – something your veterinarian can help you assess (see #1) – you may have to increase your dog’s rations to fuel the extra exercise. Dogs may also benefit from extra nutrition on long runs (10+ miles), but their smaller size means they probably do not need nearly the number of calories that we do, so it’s important to be careful to find an appropriate balance.
7. Strength and Stretch
I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but just like you, your dog will benefit from strength training and stretching. Cross-training such as swimming, hiking, and tugging can help build muscle strength. You can also use simple tricks such as doggy push-ups, perch training, and backing up to improve body awareness and agility. Learning to do simple stretches and massage on your dog can be a great benefit for them to work out sore muscles.
8. Leash and Potty Training
There are two major training items that can make runs with your dog much more enjoyable. First, is teaching your dog to run properly on a loose leash. I’m not too picky, Tara can run at my side, behind me or in front of me as long as she’s not dragging me around the entire run or constantly crossing my path. I prefer her to run out in front so we’re not stepping on each other on narrow trails, but if she wants to be at my side, who can argue with that? In my opinion it’s easiest to train loose-leash walking then translating that to running. The second major item is teaching your dog to eliminate on command. It’s not a hard thing to teach (simply give the cue you choose every time your dog eliminates) and it saves a lot of frustration on the run. Obviously, when they gotta go, they gotta go, but the less stops the better! Some dogs will catch on to these faster than others, but if you put in the time having both of these “skills” will make runs much more enjoyable. 🙂
9. Observing Your Dog
I’ll never forget the day I was out with Tara and she went completely lame on one leg. She was non weight-bearing, but otherwise happy as a clam. I had no idea what she’d done to herself – there were no yelps of pain, no sudden twists, turns or stops that could have caused it. When I stopped to check her, I found a 3 inch long thorn sticking out of her pad. After removing it, she was back to normal, so we ran home where I was able to clean and more thoroughly evaluate it. It’s incredibly important that you learn to observe your dog for injuries especially through any subtle gait changes. Dogs are so incredibly stoic that they often don’t show us overt signs of pain unless it’s really really bad, so we need to be able to pick up on the little things. Sore muscles or injuries may lead to lameness that requires rest (and possibly vet intervention) for healing. Paw pads are a frequent place of minor and major running injuries, so I try to inspect them daily for any cuts or abrasions. In the summer be aware of the hot asphalt and in the winter, the chemicals and salt used on roads and sidewalks can burn the pads.
10. Have a Blast!
(The obligatory “have fun” tip). Running with your dog is not just a great way to stay motivated and to get fit, it’s fun! Explore new routes, try trail running with your dog, or find a dog-friendly race to do together. Just take the time to appreciate the pure and simple joy that dogs have when they get to go on a run with you. 🙂
What additional tips do you have for running with your dog(s)?
Disclaimer: The contents of this post and blog are my own opinions and should be used for informational purposes only. The information presented here is not a replacement for your veterinarian’s medical advice or care.
30 minutes yoga
New Rules of Lifting for Women Stage 1, Workout A (1/8)
Yesterday, I had one of the best double-digit runs, ever. The weather started a little humid and mid-50s, but cleared up and the sun came out. I ran with the dog, Tara, as well as three other friends and two more dogs. We started on our usually long run route, but instead of doing an out-and-back as we usually do, we mixed it up and turned off at 5 miles to create a loop through town. It’s amazing how a few miles of new scenery can invigorate a long run. On my shorter runs I routinely switch directions and mix things up with new side streets, but on the longer runs I’ve been doing the same route for quite awhile so it made a huge difference to change the route so much.
I think I’ll try to come up with another couple of courses for double-digit runs over the next few months to keep things interesting. It is going to be even more important as I ramp up the mileage for…wait for it…marathon training! I finally committed and registered for the Richmond Marathon on November 16 in Richmond, Virginia. I am so excited at the prospect of finally tackling 26.2 miles! My friend, Caitlin, and my hubby are going to run it too, so I’ll have plenty of support in my training here in Kansas and my family in Virginia is already on board with being our support crew while we’re on the East coast.
With such a big race on the horizon, I would like to get back into the habit of setting regular goals throughout the year. I only set one goal for running for the year and that was to run 1000 miles, which I am a little behind on reaching with my current monthly totals (197.95/1000). Tomorrow is April 1st, so today seems apropos to start setting some monthly goals.
Goals for April
1. Run 100 miles in the month. I’ve run just under 200 miles for the year so far, so 100 this month will put me back on track for an even effort in the rest of the year for reaching my 1000 miles goal.
2. Do at least 1 day of weight lifting per week. I would like to start one of the New Rules of Lifting programs again. I’m leaning toward New Rules of Lifting for Women because I’m already familiar with all the moves, don’t need any new equipment, and they’re fairly short routines for the first few months while I’m still in school. My plan is to start by going to the gym this Tuesday during my long lunch break.
3. Prepare 1 new recipe per week. I really enjoyed finding new foods to try and meal-planning during my paleo experiment, and would like to continue adding some fresh new ideas to the repertoire.
4. Do at least 30 minutes of yoga per week. My flexibility is abysmal and running keeps me too tight, so I need to invest more time into stretching and flexibility. I think incorporating yoga into my routine will be a great way to accomplish this.
5. Research the possibility of an early summer triathlon. I’d like to find something to fill the gap between my half marathon training and the beginning of my marathon training. If I find a race that is within an easy morning drive, register and organize my training plan.
Do you have any tips for a first time marathoner? Do you set goals for yourself throughout the year?
10.01 mile run
I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least – and it is commonly more than that – sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. – Henry David Thoreau
Fridays are rest days, but I wanted to take advantage of the relatively reasonable weather (mid-40s and cloudy but no precipitation) and take the dog for a hike. I met up with a friend and her boyfriend for the first two miles, then did another almost-3 miles with the dog. The quiet calm of a solo hike with Tara was just what I needed today. She got to just be a dog and I got to enjoy just being in the moment.
Usually when I run, my mind goes a mile a minute. I don’t run with music, so my mind always stays busy to keep me from getting bored. I make up stories, think about things going on in my life, and contemplate various random topics.
Hikes, though, are different. For some reason, on a hike, I can completely quiet my mind and be in the moment.
I don’t stress about school or meeting a certain mileage. I don’t make up stories about my untimely demise (for some reason, being attacked by a herd of deer is a recurrent theme in my running thoughts). I don’t even worry about what time it is. I couldn’t even tell you what I thought about in those two hours today.
I do know that despite the clouds, the lighting was brilliant. There were tiny pockets of snow tucked into the rocks and moss from last night’s flurries. And the birds were singing in the trees.
When do you find it easiest to be “in the moment”? Do you like to hike?
Active recovery day – 4.88 miles hiking
The packing has begun. I got a lot done yesterday and even more done today. I’ve got one room mostly packed with just a few odds and ends left to take care of. I also started on a second room and have a huge pile of things to donate and three huge black trash bags full of garbage. Curtis also started packing the basement. We only have about 17 packing days left and I’ll be working 12 of those days. Crazy.
What with packing all day and a phone call that upset me a bit, I didn’t feel up to going to the gym. I am trying to have some genetic testing for a hereditary type of cancer that I am at risk for inheriting and the doctor’s office is not on top of things. I had to call the insurance company and speak someone who knew nothing about this specific test and I think he just told me what he thought I wanted to hear. Finally, I was able to find a number for someone at the insurance agency who deals with this test specifically, so I’m hoping that things will be ok. I’m waiting for some paperwork in the mail, but fingers-crossed things are taken care of now. I just want it to be over with and get the results!
Needless to say, I was a bit emotional yesterday and a workout probably would have made me feel better, but I opted to stay home and go to the gym this morning instead. Curtis and I both went to the gym and it was surprisingly busy for a Saturday morning, but fortunately, after our warm-ups both squat racks were available for use. I did NROLW Stage 5 Workout B:
A. Barbell Romanian deadlift/bent-over row – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 100 lbs
B1. Partial single-leg squat – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 1st @ 20 lbs, 2nd/3rd/4th @ 22.5 lbs
B2. Wide-grip lat pulldown – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 95 lbs
C1. Back extension – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 35 lbs
C2. YTWL – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 12.5 lbs
D1. Swiss-ball crunch – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 12.5 lbs overhead
D2. Hip flexion – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ BW (Prone Jackknife)
D3. Lateral flexion – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ BW
Then I did intervals:
1 min @ walk 3.5 mph
2 min @ run 12:00 min/mile
1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile
2 min @ run 12:00 min/mile
1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile
2 min @ run 12:00 min/mile
1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile
2 min @ walk 3.5 mph
1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile
2 min @ walk 3.5 mph
1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile
1 min @ run 12:00 min/mile
5 min cool down
I wanted to add another interval to the normal HIIT prescribed by NROLW. I needed more recovery than usual today and had to walk after the 3rd and 4th intervals. I think I may have been a bit dehydrated and that probably played a role. My heart rate got up to at least 200 bpm during the 3rd interval, so I made sure to recover to the 150s range before beginning the 4th and 5th.
I might break the rules and do another workout tomorrow evening. It will be more than 24 hours rest so I think it’ll be okay just this once. I’ll play it by ear tomorrow if I’m overly sore, but I expect I’ll be able to do the last workout A of the phase.
I’m going to pull a fast one on you and do a workout switch for this week (and the next few weeks). Curtis signed us up to run an 8K on October 16 with some friends in Arlington, so I decided I should actually do some training for it. I found Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 8k training plan and thought it would be a good option, or at least the last four weeks of it. I think my base running fitness is sufficient to make up for the first 4 weeks of the 8 week plan and I can just start at week 5.
So tonight, I ran 4 miles with dog, Curtis and my father-in-law who is in town in tow. We set a pretty quick pace for me, and ran my typical 4 mile loop around town. We didn’t start till after 7PM, so it was already dark out and as I’ve mentioned I haven’t got any reflective gear yet. I came up with a great solution though! I attached a small LED flashlight to Tara’s collar so that it hung down and pointed at the ground. It worked perfectly to light the pathway! And it didn’t seem to bother her one bit! We were a bit worried that it would be too bright and she wouldn’t be able to see and that it would be uncomfortable, but I think since it pointed straight at the ground it wasn’t in her eyes at all and her running stride seemed to keep it pretty steady so it didn’t seem to bother her either. I will feel much safer with this solution on the dark, unlit paths around here and add a little reflective gear and we will be good to go for the paths through the woods or near the roads.
By the way, 4 miles isn’t exactly on the plan for today, but it was a happy medium since it’s already Tuesday. The plan has rest days on Friday, but I know that realistically I need my rest days to be Mondays, so my schedule will look something like this:
T: Easy 3 mile run
W: Moderate 5-6 mile run
R: Intervals or Tempo run
F: 3-4 mile run
S: Cross training
S: Long run
I would like to get in some weight training. I still haven’t committed to starting NROLW again and I would really like to get back into it. I originally wanted to lift 3 days a week, but I think that it is unreasonable right now to go from 0 gym days to 3+ gym days a week. I need to gradually ease myself into it. So, I’m going to start with doing what I can during the next four weeks then try to ease myself into the lifting program with two days a week of good heavy lifting.
After my one very successful morning run, I have not yet managed to drag myself out of bed to repeat the experience. I swore this morning would be THE morning, but alas, when my alarm went off at 5:30AM and it was still pitch black out I rationalized that I shouldn’t run in the dark until I get some reflective gear. (Note to self: add buying reflective gear to already overly long list of things to do). I’ve decided that Mondays just aren’t good for morning workouts, all Mondays should be rest days! But that means that other days should actually include some sort of physical activity. If I make a list here, will you hold me accountable? Please, oh please leave me a very stern comment or shoot me an email telling me to get my butt back out there.
Workouts for this week:
Tuesday: Weight Lifting (NROLW) after work
Wednesday: Run 30 minutes Hill repeats or Intervals (morning)
Thursday: Run? after work
Friday: Weight Lifting (NROLW) after lab or between labs if I can get my student ID this week
Saturday: Run 4 mile loop
Sunday: Weight Lifting (NROLW) or Swim
You probably won’t see me doing too much bike riding in the near future. I’m more burnt out on that one that swimming or running. For some reason the thought of even getting in the saddle completely demotivates me right now.
Have a great week!
I almost broke my oath to post tonight! I decided that since I lifted AND ran yesterday, I could take today off from training and do my run tomorrow instead. Especially since I am not working and only have one class. Instead I spent the evening at my friend’s place to let our dogs play and get some energy out. If I had the amount of energy that Tara has…wow! I don’t even know what I would do! They wrestled and ran around the apartment for about 3 hours (not to mention she had spent an hour running around at the dog park beforehand!). Needless to say, I am just now (10:30) getting home and in bed and realized I haven’t yet updated the blog today. But here I am, and I’m going to attempt to summarize my training since my last workout update….
Friday – NROLW Stage 4 workout A
Saturday – Unintentional day off
Sunday – 7.2 mile run (treadmill)
Monday – NROLW Stage 4 workout B
Tuesday – Unintentional day off
Wednesday – NROLW Stage 4 workout A and 6.4 mile run
Thursday – Day off
Since this weekend is a relatively easy weekend, I figured it would be ok to do three days in a row of running if I do my workout in the morning tomorrow and afternoon/evening on Saturday and Sunday. The plan calls for doing a 10K Saturday, but I was unable to find one back when I looked a few weeks ago. I may try and find one tomorrow, or I’ll just run a 10K route against myself. I’ve never run a 10K outside of the triathlon before, so I’d be curious to see how I did in a race. Maybe I’ll try and find one on another weekend coming up.
By the way, this may be too much information, but I’m not going to be posting heart rate stats for the next few workouts at least. My chest strap has been cutting into my chest and it’s quite painful! I don’t really notice it when I’m actually working out, but afterward it stings really badly. I’m hoping once it heals, I can figure out an arrangement that doesn’t cause any sores.
I mentioned in my super-short post yesterday that I’ve had a horrible eating week, and I have! It’s been horrendous. Even though I don’t talk about it often, proper nutrition is very important to me. I try to eat intuitively, but keep my calories within the “enough but not too many” category, keep macronutrient ratios fairly stable, and eat as many fresh and whole foods as possible. This week was a throwback to my pre-triathlon days of snacking without purpose and eating mindlessly. I think this is mostly due to the fairly extreme schedule change, which I’m going to have to learn to work around. Now that I’m taking classes, I no longer am able to cook oats at work every morning for breakfast and lunch is going to have to be on-the-run most days. This weekend, I’m going to take some time to figure out a new plan for eating around my schedule for this semester. I forget how much it throws me to not have a good food schedule in place for myself. I think something like this might work:
@wakeup – breakfast
@ 10:25 – small snack on the go
@12:00 noon – lunch
@ 3:00 – afternoon snack/pre-workout
@ 6:30 – post-workout snack
@ 8:00 – dinner
I’m probably going to have to throw that out the window, but it might be a good start. 🙂
I ended up taking yesterday (Wednesday) off from working out/training. Even though I had a half-day of work, I was busy in the morning taking down Christmas decorations and getting the house cleaned, which it desperately needed! In the evening, my friend from high school came by to hang out. I hadn’t seen her in a few months, and she is expecting her first baby in March, so it was really fun to see her “baby bump” and catch up. I figure I can move my weight-lifting that was scheduled to Friday and skip my day off. I don’t have to work on Fridays anymore, so I should have time for it, although I do have a lot of other things planned for the day as well. I’m going to get my school books and parking pass and student ID taken care of and have to get Suli, my cat, to the vet for a check-up. Tara will probably come along for the ride too.
Today, I took Tara for a run before going to work, it was supposed to be 5-6 miles, including 4x 1:30 aerobic intervals and 6 gentle pickups. I did 5.1 miles, including 4x 1:30 aerobic intervals and only 4 gentle pickups because I forgot to double check the workout before I left and couldn’t remember how many pickups to do. I should mention that I’ve been doing the pickups as part of the total mileage if there is an “including”, but I’m not sure whether that’s right. I think they might be additional after the 5-6 miles. Anyone know? (Amy?) Regardless, it was a good run and the weather was fantastic today. My phone said it was only 20 degrees when I started, but I’m pretty sure it was warmer than that. I wore my Nike running pants, a light long-sleeved jersey-type shirt and a light shell over that and was very comfortable. Oh, and I wore running gloves and my headband as well. I’m expecting to run outside for my weekend runs, as it’s supposed to get up to 50 degrees! It’s a heat wave!
Heart Rate Stats:
Duration – 1:06:17
Maximum Heart Rate – 193
Average Heart Rate – 154
Calories – 613
My time was pretty slow for the distance, but that always happens when I take Tara. We usually have to make a couple of stops for her in the first mile or so. Then this time also included walking recoveries between the pickups, so that adds time too.
By the way, I am LOVING my new Mizuno running shoes. I have had zero problems with my arches whatsoever, and they are very light and comfortable for long runs. Today, I realized I passed the 3 mile mark and my feet didn’t hurt, and it was fantastic! The fitting at the local running store really paid off. They actually have a treadmill setup with a video camera filming your feet from behind. You can view your gait while you’re actually on the treadmill and see where you fall as far as pronation vs. supination. I actually slightly overpronate when I walk, but when I run my gait self-corrects and the overpronation disappears. It was pretty cool to see and I was happy because the woman doing my fitting commented that I have a “really nice gait”. She determined that I should try a shoe with light stability, but I probably didn’t need too much extra cushioning. I tried on several pairs of shoes and walked/ran around the store and on the treadmill with them. It came down to the Mizunos and a pair of Nikes. There really was no competition though, I knew from the beginning the Mizunos were right for me. I love the lightness of them and they just fit my feet really well. So far, with 20+ miles on them already, I think they’re a winner. And I am very pleased with the expertise and helpfulness of the folks at the running store. I will be returning! Sorry if some of this is a repeat of earlier post, but I just really love my new shoes!
Woohoo! I am now an Olympic distance Triathlete! Today’s race could not have gone better! I’ll get to it soon, but want to start where I left off last week. I have not been training much at all in the past two weeks, which I am going to partially chalk up to “tapering” and partially blame on the dog. She’s been keeping me busy and we’re still trying to learn a routine that works, so it’s been hard to go and do my workout right after work, because she needs to go out. On Thursday, I was feeling a little stressed and out of sorts, and I think it has to do with the decreased training. My body loves its endorphins and when it doesn’t get it’s fill, believe you me, it lets me know! I have especially let my swimming go by the wayside, so I decided to go for a short swim that night. I did 1600 yards total, with a 50 yard warm-up and a 50 yard cool down. I wanted to swim a straight 1500 set to boost my confidence for the race. It worked! I finished the 1500 yards in about 24 minutes (I forgot my HRM, so I don’t have exact data). More importantly, I felt fantastic in the water. I felt strong and smooth, and significantly more confident about the race.
Friday was my planned day off before the race. I don’t know the reason why, but I’ve seen multiple sources recommending taking completely off two days before your race. My trainer had also recommended this, so I’ve been doing it. Does anyone know why this is supposed to help with your tapering? I had planned to do a short workout on Saturday, but we had a pretty lazy morning instead and the extent of my workout was walking the dog and taking her to a nearby field to play fetch. She doesn’t quite understand the concept of bringing the ball back, but we’ll get there. We took her on a 30ft lead so she could run without us having to keep up with her too much.
Around 4:00PM, Curtis and I drove into the city so I could check-in, attend the race briefing and rack my bike. Wow! What a madhouse. We don’t usually drive into DC because it’s a huge pain in the you know what. If we’re going to go into DC, we typically take the metro, but bikes aren’t allowed, so we had to suck it up and drive. When we finally got to the Washington Hilton, where the race expo was being held, we had just missed the 5:00PM race briefing, so we wandered around until 5:30 and looked at race belts and sunglasses. I ended up getting both, because I lost my sunglasses not too long ago and needed a race belt for my tri kit. At the race briefing we learned that there were 6000 athletes registered for the race! After the race briefing we were allowed to pick up our packets and goody bags. I learned I was number 4650 and going to be in the 26th swim wave starting at 8:15AM. The first swim wave would start at 7:00AM. We then drove down to the transition area and I went and racked my bike and mapped out my path to and from my row for transitions.
I was in row 41, so I made sure to memorize that and fix in my brain that when I came in from the swim I had to pass 41 and run down to my bike, which luckily, was very close to the end of the rack and easy to find. On the way in from the bike, I would be coming from the opposite direction so I would enter the row before passing the 41. After I had done all that, we headed home, finished packing up for the next morning, showered, and went to bed by 9:45PM.
We had an early morning this morning, getting up at 4:45AM in order to get to transition before 6AM. As soon as I got up, I took the dog out and fed her and Suli (our cat). Then I made myself my oatmeal in the microwave and added a little hazelnut butter to take in the car, finished filling my water bottles (I had started the night before), and got dressed. I got a new tri singlet and tri shorts recently that I wore today. They are the ZOOT Women’s ULTRA Tri Tank and Short. They are fantastically comfortable and were perfect for all three legs of the race. It was a great improvement on wearing any old tech shorts and shirt. We left the house at 5:30, a little later than planned, but still made it into the city in plenty of time. Curtis dropped me off at transition, and I got set up while he went to park the car. He also took some great pictures of the day, so I have those to share too! After setting up, the sun started to rise, revealing an absolutely perfect September day. We had clear skies, a slight breeze and the perfect temperature for a race, IMHO. It was awesome to see the sun come up behind the Washington Monument.
The shear size of the race was also pretty incredible. I haven’t been at any races that were larger than a couple of hundred before, so this was quite eye-opening. It turned out that only about 4300 and some odd people started the race, but it still seemed like a lot. You can just begin to get an idea of the size from looking at the bikes in transition.
This is only one small area of bike racks, to the right of this is a huge field of racks 4 wide and probably about 60 long.
Sorry for the low quality picture–I took this one on Saturday evening on my phone. This is the very back corner of the transition area. I didn’t manage to get anything interesting, like the run in/out or bike in/out. Just lots and lots of bikes!
After setting up, I picked up my timing chip and went to meet up with Curtis before the race started, so he could wish me luck. I then went to the “swim pen” where we were supposed to be gathering since transition was closing. As soon as I got into the swim pen, I realized I had my CatEye cycling computer in my jersey pocket, which was definitely not the best place for it since I would be jumping into the Potomac river in a little over an hour. I ran back to my transition area and attached it to my bike, then returned to the swim pen to wait until my wave was up. As I mentioned, I was in the 26th wave, starting at 8:15AM, so I had almost an hour and a half to wait since it was only 6:45. At 7:00AM the elites began, and a little before 7:20, the first swimmer was out of the water. I talked with some folks who were in even later waves, and we were marveling at the fact that the elites would start finishing before all of us were even out of the water.
The swim was an in-water start off a dock and began up-stream toward Memorial bridge. The course was counter-clockwise, and ended with a run up a ramp. That boat is sitting in the water right where we started from. You can just see the orange buoy out to the right, I think that’s one of the last buoys on the in-bound leg of the swim.
Curtis got a picture of the elites in the water waiting for the start. You can just see all the little white caps bobbing out of the water in front of the dock.
And they’re off!
The other end of the course is on the other side of Memorial bridge. In the picture, you can see several swim waves have already started. At this point, I’m still milling around the swim pen.
Finally, they called the yellow caps, females 24 and under into the line-up. We gathered in behind fluorescent green and fluorescent orange (I think).
I ran into a couple people from my high school before the race started. I found Bridget when we lined up. This was her first triathlon, and I’m really anxious to find out how she did. After the swim start, I lost track of her and never saw her again. Curtis got a picture of the two of us talking. I’m the angry-looking one with my arms crossed. I wasn’t really angry though, just really cold. Even with the wetsuit on, it was quite chilly standing around for over an hour before the race.
After wishing me good luck, Curtis ran off to the bridge to try and spot me from above. I can’t believe it, but he found me!
I’m the swimmer on the right in the picture. He says he managed to spot me because I was one of the only ones in my wave wearing a full sleeve wetsuit. I actually really enjoyed the in-water start. It definitely helped with getting my bearing before the swim. I was able to acclimate to the water temperature and slow my breathing and heart rate before the horn went off, which allowed me to swim at my pace from the beginning. I lined up to the left and the back (third row of swimmers) in the water as we were treading. It seemed to be a good spot. I didn’t want to be close to the shore because I could see that I could end up swimming a significantly longer distance if I did that. I tried to stay close to the sight line to the bridge. We could just barely see the first orange turn buoy on the other side of the bridge. There weren’t any buoys before the bridge, which was somewhat disconcerting, because they’re nice to break up the swim distance. Once I crossed under the bridge, there were two left hand turns and we were heading back to the swim exit.
I couldn’t see anything on the in bound leg. The sun was directly in our sight line to the buoys and it took several hundred meters before I could see any buoys at all. I decided to use the light from the sun as my directional, because it seemed the best option. On the swim back, I started overtaking swimmers from the previous waves. It was a little difficult to pass some of them because they weren’t doing a great job of swimming in a line and there were a number of times when they were in a big pack and tough to get through. There were also a few girls in yellow caps who I kept bumping into throughout the swim. I did manage to draft off one of them for awhile, but I picked up the pace and passed her after a bit. I was never completely alone during this swim. There were just too many people! The orange buoys finally came into sight, and we were in the home stretch!
I ran up the ramp out of the water and back into transition. I felt great out of the water, but had no idea where I was time-wise. I had forgot to start my watch prior to the swim, so I don’t have heart rate data till after I get out of the water. It turns out I was a little slower on the swim than my goal (28 minutes), with a swim time of 31:38. I think it was partially due to the number of people I had to pass, and the lack of swim training I’ve done lately. I don’t think I added on too much distance, but as you can tell from the pictures, you can add on at least 25 to 50 meters of distance if you veered too far from the buoys.
As I was running, I took the top half of my wetsuit off and pulled off my cap and goggles. I took my time in transition in order to catch my breath, and put on my cycling shoes, socks, sunglasses, helmet and gloves. I almost went without the gloves, but decided I’d rather not risk being miserable because my hands hurt. I grabbed my GU, Clif shot blocks and stuffed them in my pockets and away I went with my bike. Transition took me a very slow 3:34. Even with the distance between the swim exit and the bike start, it was a slow time.
I got to the mount line and had no problems clipping in and was off. The bike course was fast! It was mostly straightaways and very very little climbing and hills. I think the total elevation change was 582 feet or close to that. Curtis didn’t manage to find me on the bike (I was too fast!), but here’s picture of some other random cyclists.
It was really incredible to ride through the streets of DC when they were all closed. There aren’t many times you can have an opportunity like that to take in so much of the city on such a beautiful day. My bike split was 1:27:51, which is quite a bit faster than my goal of 1:45. It works out to about 17.1 mph on average. I did have an exact average, as calculated by my CatEye, but unfortunately I think someone stole it off my bike in transition. 😦 I’m really bummed about it, and can’t believe someone would do something like that! I know it was on my bike when I racked it because I remember looking at it, and since it clips in, I think it’s nearly impossible for it to have fallen off. Oh well! I guess it’s time for a new one…even though it only had 300 miles of rides on it. I ate a GU gel at about the 9 mile mark and my Clif shot blocks at about 15 miles or so. I also drank 3/4 a bottle of water and half a bottle of PowerAde throughout the ride. I felt great the whole time, and never felt like I was low on energy or really got that tired. After our 40K bike ride, we were back to the transition area and dismount line.
T2 was marginally faster than T1 at 2:56. I racked my bike and then had to retrieve all my stuff from under my neighbor’s bike. Apparently, my running shoes and race belt made the perfect wheel rest for her bike. It was an annoyance, to be sure. There was plenty of room, and it was really quite uncalled for to put her bike directly on top of my stuff. After I retrieved my things, I put on my shoes and race belt and headed out for the run.
The run course was really well marked with mile markers and had aid stations at miles 1-5 of the course. I got water at every aid station except mile 5. It took me about two miles to get my run legs and get into a groove. Curtis and my parents found me again on the run course and cheered me on at mile 2 and mile 4.
I think I always look really silly running, but I’m impressed with how happy and upbeat I look in this picture. Although my race belt pocket makes it look like I’m wearing a fanny pack. So, I guess I still look a little silly. I’m really proud of myself on the run, I managed to keep running for the entire race. This is the longest distance I’ve run in a race to date and I actually felt really great. My knee had been bothering me a bit on the bike, but there were no problems at all during the run.
Here I am again, with the huge line of people still coming. More than half of the racers have probably already finished at this point.
My run time was 1:04:59, which is about a 10:30 minute mile pace (5.7 mph). I’m happy with that, as my goal was to finish the run in 1:10. But, I think the run is the area I have the most room for improvement. So, that will be my focus through the winter for next season.
My overall time was 3:10:55. This is 34 minutes faster than my goal time of 3:45 and faster than my “stretch” goal time of 3:30, so I am ecstatic about how well it went. I finished 46 in my division, but I have no idea how many people were in my division.
After I came through the finish line (there were still people just starting the run and still people coming in off the bike!), I headed over to transition to get my stuff and meet up with my family. This is when I found out my CatEye was gone. I also picked up some water, Powerade, and food to refuel.
Curtis was kind enough to carry all my stuff for me after the race.
The aftermath of transition, with the monument in the background. There were still tons of bikes when we left.
My heart rate data from the bike and run was:
Average heart rate: 173
Max heart rate: 191
Overall, it was a really fun race, which I would definitely consider doing again. The only drawbacks were the lack of buoys during the swim and the difficulty of driving into and out of the city on the weekends.
Have a great week!
UPDATE: The results are posted and I found out that I was 46/96 in the Females under 24 division, and 663/1453 in all women and 2626/3933 overall. Not a bad showing! Top 50% in my division and of all women.
My day off yesterday gave me the much needed boost to feel refreshed and ready to jump into my workout today. Mom and I did Stage 1 Workout B, week 4 of the NROL4W.
A. Deadlift – 2 sets of 12 @ 100 lbs
B1. Shoulder Press – 1 set of 12 and 1 set of 11 @ 20 lbs dumbbells
B2. Wide-grip Lat Pulldown – 2 sets of 12 @ 70 lbs
C1. Lunge – 2 sets of 15 @ 20 lbs dumbbells
C2. Swiss-Ball crunch – 2 sets of 10 @ 45 lbs
Finally! I am making progress on the shoulder press. I was so close to pushing the last rep, but I just could not get my left arm to go all the way up. Next week I’ll make it for sure (especially since we’re going down to only 10 reps!). Both mom and I have been having form problems on the lat pulldown, but I think it as a lot to do with the cable machine we have to work with than a lack of strength. I’m going to stay at 70 lbs till I can get the form into control.
Duration: 57:46 (but I forgot to stop it for a little while after the workout)
Average heart rate: 135
Max heart rate: 183
After my weight lifting, I had a quick smoothie with 1% milk, 1 tbsp almond milk, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, a banana and some ice cubes. When Curtis got home an hour or so later, we went for a 30 minute run near our house, including two short sprint efforts. I mapped the distance and it looks like about 2.8 miles, which is a 10:43 pace.
Duration: 39:17 (includes cool down)
Average heart rate: 161
Max heart rate: 200