Posts Tagged Triathlete

A Marathon and Goals for April

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?

Yesterday’s Training:

10.01 mile run

Today’s Training:

Rest day

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Big News and the Spark of an Idea

I apologize. I just realized that I never officially announced that I was accepted to veterinary school next year, so consider this that announcement. I will be starting at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine this fall semester! 🙂 Orientation is on August 17 and I have already had a crazy busy spring and summer with fun trips and preparation for the big move.

After my last (short) post, I had my last week of class at GMU and my final exam for my last prerequisite for vet school, Public Speaking. At the beginning of the semester I thought the class was going to be a real drag, but I am so glad that I took it. I learned a lot about speaking  and writing speeches, and feel a lot more comfortable about the prospect of public speaking in the future. The purpose of our last speech was to persuade our classmates to make a donation to a charity and then everyone voted on the best speech, and I WON! I am so honored that they chose me, although I felt a little bad since I’m a bit older than most of them with a little more life experience and speaking experience (most of my classmates were freshman in college). I learned last week that I got an A+ in the class, so that means all my vet school prerequisites are fulfilled and it is official that I am enrolled for the fall!

May was relatively uneventful after the end of class on the 12th until I left for a trip to San Francisco and Sonoma with three of my girl friends on the 21st. We arrived relatively early on Saturday and spent the day at the Ghiradelli wine festival for wine tasting. Sunday morning, I went to an exercise class with one of the girls who lives in SF. It was a pilates-style class with springs and light weights. I really enjoyed it for trying something new, though I don’t think it’s something I would pursue to do regularly. I did get to break a nice sweat though! Also, on the agenda for Sunday was a Beer Circus at Lagunitas brewery in Petaluma. That was quite the interesting event. There were burlesque dancers and stunt roller skaters and lots of cross-dressing. Monday through Thursday, we spent in Sonoma wine tasting. This was definitely a food and beverage-driven vacation. We ate delicious food, drank very delicious wine (and some beer and other beverages) and just generally had a fabulous time catching up. I flew back home on Friday the 27th just in time to leave again on the 28th to head to Kansas.

The reason for the Kansas trip, you ask? Big news…drum roll please…..Curtis and I are buying our first house!! We have a contract on the house and will close at the end of the summer. We found it on our first day house-hunting over that Memorial Day weekend, despite almost crossing it off our list the day before. It is a new ranch-style house and will have four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, a finished basement with a wet bar, a beautiful kitchen and a huge yard. I will post photos when it is officially official. I am SO excited. 🙂 Life has been a bit of a whirlwind since then.

We got back to Virginia on Tuesday 5/31, I was home for a week, then left again for a business trip in Orlando, FL. And that brings us up till now. I finished work early today, so I have a free day tomorrow and I’m planning to head to the beach for the day before my flight. I’ll be back in VA tomorrow by 9PM as long as my flight is on time.

Whew. Now that you’re all caught up on my life, if you’re still reading, I bet your wondering what this has to do with healthy living, working out, fitness, or triathlon training! Don’t worry, I didn’t forget that this is a triathlon training blog. 🙂

I have kept up with the New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROLW) weight lifting program and am up to Stage 5. I was hoping to complete two workouts while in Orlando, but unfortunately the hotel’s exercise room is a little lacking. I have done a tiny bit of body weight stuff instead, but I’ll start back with a workout when I get back. I’m thinking a schedule that looks like this:

Saturday, June 11 – Stage 5 Workout A2

Monday, June 13 – Stage 5 Workout B2 + HIIT

Wednesday, June 15 – Stage 5 Workout A3

Friday, June 17 – Stage 5 Workout B3 + HIIT

Sunday, June 19 – Stage 5 Workout A4

That will bring me back to my normal schedule of lifting on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Right about the time I finish this stage, and begin the next one (~June 23) I’ll be going out of town again. This time to Mississippi for a wedding, then straight from there to the Outer Banks for a beach trip with Curtis’s family. I’ll probably do some running and maybe bring my bike to do some riding. I really enjoyed riding in the mornings last year while training for Timberman.

Speaking of Timberman (you like that segue? 😉 ), I have it in my head to do another 70.3 race. A veterinary school classmate mentioned the possibility of doing Ironman 70.3 Branson in Missouri in September. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the prospect of another half-Ironman distance race since. I would only have about 15 weeks to prepare with a couple weeks of vacation, moving and the beginning of school in between. It’s doable, but do I want to? I might start training and make a last minute decision. I’ve already missed the discount cut-off, so it’ll be the same cost either way. There is also a Sprint on the same weekend that may be a viable option. I think my base will come back pretty quickly, but I’m not sure how much training time I’ll have once school starts and crunch time approaches. I’m also torn, because I really want to finish the NROLW through Stage 7 this time around and I don’t want to give it up in place of endurance training. Right now, I have the time for all of it (when I’m at home and not traveling!), but we’ll have to see as the summer progresses. Not sure I need to add another thing to my life right now. I am already pretty busy <- understatement of the year!

Lots to think about. Lots to do.

 

 

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Pondering Goals

For the past couple of years, I have had very specific goals for my race season.  Last year it was to finish my first Olympic distance race, which I did at Nation’s Triathlon.  This year it was to finish my first half-Ironman distance race, which I did at Timberman 70.3.  I have no idea what my goal for next season should be.

I’ve tossed around the idea of doing a marathon, but I’m not sure that’s really what I want to do.  I feel that it is the next logical step in my fitness journey, but do I really want to commit to the training for it?  By the end of this training season, I was so burnt out from the volume of training for Timberman that I couldn’t even think about doing another HIM any time soon.  I think the time commitment to marathon training would be comparable and I’m not sure I can commit to that.

My other thought is to continue racing tris at the Sprint and Olympic distance next year, aiming for PRs at all the races I’ve done in the past and add a couple of new races.  This is the “easier” route.  Training for these requires no more than 1-2 hours per day and I know I would aim for that with any workouts anyhow.

The one thing that I know I will not be doing is a full Ironman.  I am definitely not ready to devote my time to training for an event of that distance.  I will complete a full Ironman at some point in my life, but it is not going to be next year.  The funny thing is, I no longer question whether I can do an Ironman distance event.  I KNOW that I can with the proper training.  I think it was during the Timberman run that my perspective of what I can do completely changed and I realized that my body was capable of anything I could throw at it as long as I put in the time and effort to train for it.  My self-motivation is my only limiter.

I will be thinking about my goals for next year a lot over the next few weeks/months.  I’m going to try and come up with a plan that is still challenging, despite not increasing my distances across the board.  Maybe I’ll do a bunch of Sprint/Oly tris AND a marathon.  Maybe I’ll do just tris.  Maybe I’ll do nothing and go a different route entirely.  Sorry for the ramblings…just trying to sort through my thoughts.  What are your plans for next year?

In other news, I was terrible about running last week.  In fact, the only time I ran was when I last posted, for shame!  I had big plans to do a local 5K on Saturday, but after a busy week including tons of studying for two midterms, I just didn’t have it in me.  And when we found out that the entry fee was $40, Curtis and I decided we’d rather take that $80 and do something else another time.  I did manage to convince myself to run yesterday, and took the dog for about 6 miles.  Considering the overall lack of running lately, I felt pretty good for the whole run.  Neither my lungs nor my legs were a limiter even if I was going very slowly.  I did have a bit of a fight with myself about whether to keep going at several points along the route.  Somehow I managed to convince myself to just keep moving my legs, one step at a time.  This week I am supposed to taper for the 8K on Sunday.  I’m not sure how much of a taper it will be if I actually put in more days than I have been.  Here’s the schedule:

Monday – Off

Tuesday – 3 mile run

Wednesday – 3 mile run

Thursday – 4x400m with 400m walk/jog recovery

Friday – Rest

Saturday – 1-3 mile run easy

Sunday – Race Day!

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Ironman 70.3 Timberman Race Report

I did it!! I finished my first 70.3 Ironman.  🙂  I’m just a little behind in posting my race report…

Curtis and I left for New Hampshire on Friday morning before the race around 8:20AM.  I had for some reason convinced myself it was only an 8 hour drive, but really it would have been about 10 hours without traffic and ended up being about 11 hours total.  Traffic around NYC was pretty terrible, but other than that things weren’t too bad.  We arrived and checked into the hotel, but not without checking out the competition on the way in.   We were surrounded by triathletes and fancy bikes.  After my ogling, we unpacked the car and headed up to our room, which turned out to be quite nice – we had a nice big room with a king-sized bed.  We took some time to settle in a bit and then went to find dinner at Uno’s, where I had a delicious chicken and pasta dish (carb loading!).  After dinner we went back to the hotel and thought about going down to the hot tub, but we were both exhausted after the long day in the car and decided to go to bed and we would try to relax a bit in the hot tub on Saturday.

Saturday ended up being a surprisingly long and busy day.  We slept in until almost 9AM, and when we finally got up, we ran downstairs to take part in the continental breakfast that ended at 10AM.  I grabbed a bagel and some peanut butter and a banana plus an extra bagel and peanut butter for eating before the race.  I felt like a huge slacker when all the triathletes around were dressed in their workout clothes looking like they had just gotten back from a ride or a run.  I had planned to do a very short swim and/or run but nothing major, and I was going to try and fit it in after driving the bike course, which was my number one priority for the day, besides the mandatory meetings, check-in and bike check-in.  So after breakfast and a few errands to the grocery store and Wal-Mart, we headed up toward Ellacoya state park and found the bike course.  We didn’t start from the very beginning because the Sprint tri was that morning and we didn’t want to get stuck in the traffic.  I’d say we started about 2-3 miles in.  We did go off course a little in two places, but for the most part we got it right.  It started with hills and ended with hills.  The middle was slightly less hilly, but it wasn’t flat either- it was more of a gentle sloping.  I was not feeling prepared, especially after we started seeing all the triathletes out riding the course.  Were they crazy??  I wasn’t even considering trying to ride the course the day before!  After becoming sufficiently nervous about my preparation for the climbs, we finally finished driving the 56 miles.

It was closing in on 1:00PM quickly and I wanted to get to the Gunstock Mountain Resort and Timberman festival to register and attend meetings.  There was a 2:00PM first-timers meeting and 3:00PM mandatory race meeting, so we figured I could register and get to both meetings before heading back to the hotel to get my bike and head over to transition.  I picked up my numbers, timing chip and goody bag, signed my life away and grabbed some food just in time for the first-timers meeting to start.  I was surprised by the number of people who were doing their first 70.3 and even more surprised by the several people who raised their hands to say that this was their first triathlon at all!  Wow!  That’s ambitious!  There were some helpful tips, including the mechanics of a bottle hand-off at an aid station on a bike and how to use the wetsuit strippers.  🙂  Afterward was the mandatory pre-race meeting for everyone where they went over the rules and other logistical details.  Not too different from any other triathlon.

I picked up a Fuel Belt bento box for my bike at the festival, and then we hurried back to the hotel to grab my bike and drop it at transition.  Unfortunately, we got stuck in horrendous traffic due to a nearby concert, and it ended up taking a lot longer than planned.  We finally got to Ellacoya state park, I racked my bike and covered my saddle with a plastic bag to cover for the impending rain and we took a quick run (~15 minutes) as my only workout of the day.  We ran a tiny portion of the run loop (although we didn’t know it at the time) before quickly changing in the car and going to get dinner.  Luckily, we managed to find an alternate route away from the park and avoided the traffic on the way out.

Curtis had found some reviews on yelp for a great little Italian place called Ciao Pasta, so we headed there.  They make their own fresh pasta and you can “create your own meal” by choosing a pasta (one of theirs or another), a sauce and any extra protein or veggies.  I had a fresh cracked pepper fettuccine with a pomodoro sauce and grilled chicken, plus tons of fresh warm bread.  It was a delicious meal, especially considering I tried to choose one of the more “bland” options.  I was a little worried that too much cheese or tomato might upset my stomach, but luckily I had no issues.  It turned out to be the perfect pre-race meal- not too heavy, but enough carbs and protein to prepare me for the next day.

Once back at the hotel, I gathered all my gear together and laid it out for the early morning.  We went to bed right at 9:00PM, but I didn’t fall asleep for quite awhile afterward.  I really didn’t sleep very well at all  and I think I woke up several times throughout the night.

3:15AM, the alarm blaring in my ear signaled the start of the single longest day of my life.  I dragged myself out of bed, brushed my teeth, got dressed and filled my water bottles.  I grabbed the last few items that I hadn’t packed yet and we left for the race site.  It was surprising to see that most of the cars were still in the hotel parking lot and we seemed to be the first ones to be out and about.  On the way to Ellacoya, I ate my bagel and peanut butter that I had grabbed from the hotel on the previous morning.  Soon, we arrived at the park, and as it turned out, we were one of the first cars into the parking lot and got a prime spot very close to transition and right next to the finish chute.  It was right around 4AM, and we hung out in the car till transition opened at 5AM.  We found some hot water at the local firefighters’ stand, so I had my green tea that I had brought from home while we were waiting.

Finally, transition opened.  I stopped to get body-marked on the way – 2212 on my left arm, left hand, left quad and my age on my left calf.  I think the mark on my quad was still a bit visible three days later, despite scrubbing but all the others were gone by the end of the race.  Weird.  I’m really glad I brought a bright pink beach towel to use as my transition mat, it turned out being really easy to find amidst the sea of bicycles.  After I had everything arranged exactly as I wanted it, I pumped my front tire.  Then I went around and pumped my rear tire.  Both looked pretty good, but I managed to convince myself that the rear tire needed just a few more pumps of air.  As I removed the bike, I heard the valve break. Doh!  I didn’t really want to frustrate myself by changing the tire on race morning and it seemed to be holding air so I decided to leave it for the time being.  A half hour later, I would check the tire and if it didn’t have air in it or seemed to be leaking, I would change it.

I took all my nervous energy back to the car and tried to sit and relax with Curtis for a bit.  The time went by pretty fast, and soon enough it was time to check my tire again and use the bathroom for about the 4th time of the morning.  I ran into transition and found both tires still full of air and ready to go.  I decided I’d leave well enough alone and ran back to join Curtis in the Porta-potty line.  We wandered around to check out the swim exit and before we knew it they were clearing transition and calling for people to head to the swim start.  We joined the throngs to watch the pros (including Chrissie Wellington!!) start at 7:00AM.

Pro men went off first, followed by Pro women, then another hour before my swim wave would start at 8:05.  I got my wetsuit on around 7:15 and joined the line to the corral around 7:45.  It was an in-water start, but only about 2 feet deep and we waded in as soon as the previous wave left at 8:00AM.  I got my watch ready and my goggles on as the announcer gave us warnings every 30 seconds.  Finally, we were off!

I started the swim running into the water and got a few dolphin dives in.  I had lined up in the middle, but at the back so it was difficult to find clear water for dolphin dives.  I did stop a few times right at the beginning because my goggles were being uncooperative, but luckily I fixed them quickly and they gave me no trouble for the next 1.2 miles.  I was surprised at how mentally strong I felt in the water.  If anything suffered during training, it was my swimming and I was expecting my mindset to reflect that.  I guess I have had enough open water experience to relax and do what I know.  I was pretty sure I was dead-smack in the middle of my wave for the most part.  When I reached the first turn buoy, I started seeing white caps from the previous wave.  Shortly after, a few yellow caps started swimming over me (literally!).  Also around this time, the water got pretty choppy.  I wasn’t expecting it to be quite as churning as it was, there were moments when I actually thought I might be sick from the motion!  The next turn came quickly and then it was just the homestretch left.  I did peak at my watch at both turn buoys, so I had an idea of how long I’d been in the water (15 minutes and 24ish minutes) and knew I was on track.  My private goal for the swim was to finish in under 45 minutes, and I crossed the timing mats at 40:06!!

I had my wetsuit stripped and ran into transition to retrieve my bike and I was on my way.  About 3 miles in, I started to get paranoid about my tire.  I actually convinced myself that it was flat, so I pulled over and checked it.  It was completely full.  Silly me!  I was pretty quick and only 2 or 3 people passed me while I was stopped and I quickly passed one of them again.  I was still a bit paranoid about the tire for the rest of the ride, but I planned to ditch one water bottle at the first stop for Gatorade and alternate water and Gatorade for the whole ride.  The roads out of the park were not bad, but pretty soon the hills started.  I think I saw Chrissie Wellington leading the women before the first aid stop.  Around mile 10 was the biggest hill of the race, Marsh Hill and it was steep and it was long.  I just took it in my granny gears. We did see two pro women wipe out coming down the other side, so I knew it would be a fast and probably technical bit of riding. Soon, but not soon enough, I reached Route 106, which was the bulk of the course.  It was a long, straight and gradually sloping road that made for somewhat boring riding.  I got a kick out of the aid stations with some very over-the-top volunteers all dressed up in crazy outfits.  We even got to see Santa and his Elves at the North Pole!  Pretty soon we were climbing again.  This time, my bike got stuck in the big ring so I had to take it really slow and easy in order to not destroy my legs.  It was hard work!  Coming back down Marsh Hill was a blast, I’m not sure what my top speed was, but it was definitely fast.  Finally, the park was in sight and I realized that I was going to finish much faster than my expected time of 4 hours.  I saw Curtis cheering on the bike in chute, dismounted and ran into transition.  I finished the bike in 3:32:55.

After ditching my bike and changing shoes, I decided I would step into the porta-potty at the end of transition.  The volunteers standing there tried to convince me to continue on to the run and stop on the run course, but I knew it would be in my best interest to stop then.  My transition time turned out to be only 4:08, so I’m glad I made the decision to go then.  Curtis was there to cheer me on as I started my run.  It was two loops, so I would get to see him again at least once before I finished.  I ate one package of Clif shot blocks as soon as I started the run, and I had another package that I decided I would take at the beginning of the second loop.

I knew the run was going to be the hardest part of the day.  The biggest issue I had been having during my bricks in training was that my back hurt when I ran after biking for the 50+ mile distances.  The one difference in the race from my typical bricks was that I put on my fuel belt.  I’m really glad I did because it ended up having a stabilizing effect on my back and completely eliminated any pain in my back.  It did not, however, do anything for the pain in my feet and legs.  I had not accounted for the amount of swelling in my feet after more than 4 hours of constant exercise and my shoes felt tight on my feet from the moment I started the run.  They went numb quickly despite my best efforts at wiggling my toes to keep the blood flowing.  My right knee gave me trouble throughout the bike and didn’t get any better on the run.  I just kept repeating to myself, “It can’t hurt any more than it already does.”  So I kept running, it was just four 5Ks.  I could do four 5Ks.

The run course was pretty challenging with one pretty significant hill.  It was no worse than training runs at home, though.  The first loop was pretty crowded, but by the time I started my second loop, many of the rest of the athletes had finished and I spent a lot of time alone.  It was a treat to get to each aid station, with all the very enthusiastic volunteers.  The turnaround point for the first loop was decked out in patriot decorations and bubbles and there was a stereo blaring “Yankee Doodle” when I passed through on the first loop.  I was still running when I reached the teaser end of the first loop, which shared part of the route with the finish chute.  I kept running the whole second loop.  In fact, I am very proud to say that with the exception of walking through the aid stations when I got something to drink, I ran the entire 13.1 miles!  When I reached mile 12, I realized that if I picked up the pace and got in a strong 10 minute mile I would be able to finish in under 7 hours.  I summoned all the energy and strength I had left and picked up the pace.  When I could finally see the finish chute, I knew I had to push just a little harder, so I ran as hard as I could at that moment (which wasn’t very hard!).  I passed two men who were walking in the chute and ran across the finish line!

I cannot even express the overwhelming feeling of that moment- never before have I felt such a desire to cry and jump for joy at the same time, but be so mentally and physically exhausted that I was incapable of either.  I got my finisher’s medal and a hat and a blanket and hobbled out of the chute.  I did it!

My total time was 6:58:39.

1.2 mile Swim: 40:06

Transition 1: 3:39

56 mile Bike: 3:32:55

Transition 2: 4:08

13.1 mile Run: 2:37:51

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Race Report: Nation’s Triathlon

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  IMG_1413That 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.

IMG_1419Curtis 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.

IMG_1421And they’re off!

IMG_1434The 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).

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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.

IMG_1431After 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!

IMG_1441I’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.

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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.

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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.

IMG_1457I 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.

IMG_1462My 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.

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Curtis was kind enough to carry all my stuff for me after the race.

IMG_1471The 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:

Duration: 2:41:34

Average heart rate: 173

Max heart rate: 191

Calories: 1834

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.

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I’m on a Roll

I’ve been doing really well with this whole training thing.  Sunday was my first brick leading up to Nation’s, and I think it went pretty well.  I did a 21 mile ride followed by about 2 miles running.  The bike ride was quite a nice contrast to the incredibly hot run on Saturday.  I got up fairly early, around 7:00AM, and ate a small breakfast of dates and almond butter.  I really should have brought a snack with me for the ride, but I thought I’d be able to push it out.  I didn’t really think about the fact that I wouldn’t want to eat when I got back from the ride and was leaving for my run.  I should stop making excuses though, I know better than to go for over an hour without sustenance!  My ride was pretty slow, only about 14.2 mph on average, but I’m chalking it up (at least partially) to my legs being tired from the run.  Thankfully, it was fairly cool that early in the morning, and a lot of the trail was shaded.  It definitely had the feeling like it was going to be getting hotter, but it wasn’t yet!  Overall, it was a decent ride but not fantastic.  I did manage to get my running legs pretty quickly after getting off the bike, so that was good.  I just ran a couple loops around my neighborhood and added a bit extra to do as close to 2 miles as possible.  Then I took a nice 10 minute walk to cool down.

Today was a lifting day, so I headed over to Mom’s after work for some NROL4W action.  Here’s the workout:

A. Squats – 2 sets of 12 @ 70 lbs

B1. Push-ups – 2 sets of 12 real push-ups

B2. Seated Row – 2 sets of 12 @ 80 lbs

C1. Step-ups – 2 sets of 12 @ 17.5 lbs Dumbbells

C2. Prone jackknife – 2 sets of 12 @ BW

I increased all my weights today since there were 3 fewer reps per set, and I felt great on everything.  I was feeling really strong today, which was a nice change!  I haven’t been feeling great about my weight lifting skills lately, but I think I’m back in the groove now.  I’m really on a roll with my training!

I got in some more gym time after weight lifting too.  Curtis and I had planned a run with his dad because he was in town for work for the night.  As it turned out, he wanted to go to our gym and lift instead, so we headed over there to meet him.  While he hit the weights, Curtis and I did some running on the track to warm-up.  We also did a couple of sprint intervals before heading down to the free weights.  Since I had already lifted for the day, I decided to do some extra core work as I feel as though I’ve been lacking in that department with the NROL4W program.  I just did three different exercises at 2 sets each:

Plank – 1 set @ 2 minutes, 1 set @ 90 seconds

Leg lifts – 2 sets @ 1 minute

Russian twists – 2 sets @ 1 minute with 10 lbs medicine ball

After my core work, I spent some time stretching out really well.  I’ve been feeling pretty tight lately, and considering trying to work in some yoga I just haven’t yet figured out when I’ve got the extra time.  Might try it on Thursday.

Dinner tonight was a delicious meal of tequila lime chicken, which we marinated since last night, roasted baby red potatoes, and salad with romaine, grape tomatoes, cucumber, green onions and feta.  Deliciousness.  The chicken was so perfectly tender and juicy and so flavorful!  The recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa, and it’s the perfect summer meal.

Now, it’s off to read some blogs and get to bed!  Good night and have a great week!

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Thoughtful Thursdays: Adventure

The July edition of Triathlete magazine is dedicated to off-road triathlon, and included the article, “Adventure: The Antidote to Fear”, which had an excerpt that I just love from Mitch Thrower.  I thought I’d share it today instead of my normal long-winded comments on an aspect of triathlon.

“Now if you are training for a triathlon or have participated in one, guess what?  You are forever a triathlete, and that distinction is for life.  Once you have done a triathlon you will always belong to a very special group of people who decided to replace fear with adventure.

Fear, reluctance, intimidation, trepidation.  They’re all the negative faces of creative imaginations.  It’s a universal adage that freedom from fear unleashes the best of our physical capabilities, the daring of our souls.  In that sense our adventures in triathlon trigger confidence and productivity.  In turn, this raises the limits of what we can accomplish in our work and family life.  So keep swimming, biking and running away from fear–always in the direction of your next adventure.”

I know some of you are coming up on your first ever triathlon, and since I’m going to be away for some of them and out of touch of the blogging community, let me just say: Congratulations, Triathlete!

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