Friday, May 28, 2010

T-Minus 2 weeks to Boise

I think last week's stress was a bad bad thing..... My head started feeling funky (sinus issues) Tuesday afternoon and I'm still feeling a bit out of it.  Not full blown terrible, just a little off.  Could be allergies, fatigue, or that word which I will not type.  So, I scratched my workouts Tues and Wed and my run on Thurs night.  I have 14 miles running on my schedule for tomorrow, so here's hoping I can get that done.  I typically feel fine in the morning and get worse as the day moves on, so its sounding like this is a allergy/fatigue thing.  (even though I've been resting and taking allergy pills and still feel about  the same as I did on Tues...)

I'm getting things wrapped up for Boise.  My second pair of DeSoto tri shorts had an inseam blow-out (my first pair had both inseams unravel after 30 min of cycling - not cool!  They were nice and sent a replacement pair, but I'm having the same issue - after 6 rides.).  I'm done with DeSoto and got 2 pairs of shorts at Tri on the Run to test out.  One Zoot and one Louis Garneau.  The sales girl owns both of the pairs that I got and loves them, so here's hoping....  At least I have a weekend to test them out properly!

My coach changed up my weekend plan (I guess he didn't realize my race was in 2 weeks?  I dunno...).  I was supposed to so a 1 hr run on Saturday and a 2 hr ride / 80 min run Sunday.  This has been changed to a 14 mile run Saturday and a 60 mile ride on Sunday.  I'm actually ok with this, since I haven't run or ridden this distance since LoneStar, 5 weeks ago.  Headed back to Chappell Hill for the ride, which I'm hoping will give me confidence.

I was recently accepted to be part of Team Jamba Juice, as part of  I'm SUPER excited, as this is my first "sponsorship".  I get a logo'd set of shirt/shorts/visor and need to wear them out at 3 local races between now and September.  I love Jamba Juice, so this is a good fit.  I should be getting JJ gift cards with my sponsor package, so if you want some, just holler!  Warning, though, as I may make you meet me out during a training run or something for you to "earn" your card.    They're working a 5k next weekend and asked me to race.  I'll be in my taper, so I'm not sure if I'm able (still waiting to hear back from my coach), but I think a 5k should be fine.

And in other news, my father-in-law ended up having his open heart surgery yesterday.  Planned for a valve replacement and single bypass.  Ended up doing the valve replament and 4 bypasses (eeps).  He came out of surgery and is off the ventilator, so that's good news.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hard training weekend

I figure I have maybe 1 more "hard" weekend before I taper for Boise.  I'm soooooo ready to taper its not even funny.

Only sort of technically the weekend, but it contributes to "the crazy" so I want to include it here.  Just like every Thursday, I went to my 5:15 AM spin class (cadence 100 class) and then my 6 AM yoga class (this combo is actually pretty challenging).  Normally it takes me about 5 min to get my cadence up to 100 rpm for this class (we do it about once a month) but thanks to the previous night's 3 x 10 min zone for repeats, my legs were primed for speed.  I hit 100 rpm on our first count and easily maintained the speed throughout.  Yoga was super nice - we had a sub that I'd always heard about but never had the chance to take a class from.  She was SUPER awesome and I left feeling great and ready for the day.

Thurs night was a 70 min tempo run (24.5 min zone 2, 21 min zone 3, 24.5 zone 4, then a 10 min walk to cool down).  It was hot out (90 degrees, maybe?) and I really didn't think I would be able to run AND descend this thing.  To my surpise I did and logged nearly 7 miles.

trying to capture the after-efftects of a hot tempo run AND show off my Pistols for Pandas shirt.  Pretty much failed here on both accounts....

I was becoming increasingly crabby and tired, plus I have 170 vacation hours in the bank (sooo many things wrong with that right there).  Work isn't super busy so I opted to take the day off.  Got a 90 min massage (which hurt but was awesome... dang knots and trigger points).  Then I took a short nap, worked for a bit, ran some errands.

Got up at 5:30, hit the trail at 6:30 for a 12 mile zone 2 run.  I really should have hit it 15 min earlier.  Even though I swim outside, I can't manage to remember what time the sun comes up.  Running was REALLY slow today, compared to previous long pace runs.  Not sure if this was due to being tired, sore from the massage, the heat, or all three.  Managed to tough it out for 8.5 miles and then I had to start walking.  I didn't walk too much (0.2 miles at most) and pushed the last mile.  Still, not a stellar performance.  Got home, took an ice bath, tried (and failed) to take a nap before my bike.

Coach wanted me to ride 3 hrs that afternoon, about 3-5 hours after my run.  I had it in my head I needed to do hills on Saturday AND Sunday, so once I got the motivation to pack up my bike stuff, I started to head out to Chappell Hill for a 40 mile hill ride.  Traffic was horrible and little nagging voices in my head were getting louder, so I decided to scrap the Hill and head back to the park for my ride.  Probably a good decision - especially since I'd never ridden there before and I was by myself.  And it was mid-afternoon and 90+ degrees out.  So I did my usual out-and-back bike ride at George Bush park.  Out felt fine, back was increasingly slower speed-wise.  I was thinking about doing a second loop to get my miles in, but things were degrading pretty quickly, so I decided to stop an hour early.  Manged to get in 30 miles, and considering the heat AND my 12 mile run that morning, I felt like I still accomplished something.  Went home, put on my recovery socks/tights, and vegged for the night.

Slept in until 5:45 today and hit the road at 6:05 for Chappell Hill.  Some people from my tri team are doing the Buffalo Springs 70.3 at the end of June and need hill work, so we organized our own little brick, meeting at 7:30.  I was scheduled for a 3 hr ride and 1 hr run.  I wanted to start at 7 in hopes of it not being ridiculously hot for the run, but apparently my teammates are not the earlybird that I am.  I got out there at 7:10 and got everything set up.  They rolled in at 7:30 and futzed around... didn't get started until 8 AM.  Ugh. 

We didn't even leave the town square before Jason had issue #1.  He's a fast rider, and he said it wasn't a big deal, so I kept going, knowing he'd catch up with us.  So I just kept cruising along, assuming Melissa was behind me.  At mile 7, I hit the turn, looked behind me, and no one was there..... Hmmm....  Given our late start, I really didn't want to hang out and wait so I just kept going.  Besides, I was positive they would catch me.  I headed north on our 45 mile route and the scenery was just so pretty.  Especially along William Penn road - small road with big trees, rolling hills, and green pastures.  So pretty.  I did stop around mile 15 to do a map check and to stretch (my stupid right leg is still bugging me).   I was doing ok with the hills, but I think I need to take my bike in, as it was having a hard time shifting between the small and big ring up front.  This could be because its been 2 months since I've done hills and just haven't done much rapid shifting or it could be something else.  Either way, it was annoying and I need it looked at before I get to Boise.  TX105 had bigger hills, but I was doing a good job managing the down-hills so I could stay in the big ring for most of the up-hills.  The turn south finally arrived, which meant headwind.  For 20 miles...  Boo.  Around mile 30 I stopped again to stretch my leg, and still no sign of my 2 teammates.  Weird.  This southern portion was not quite as pretty and defnitely more sunny.  And I don't know if I was just tired, out of hill shape, dealing with headwind, or what, but the last 15 miles were quite a bit slower.  The final 5 miles were ridiculously slow.  The uphills were just pathetic - easiest or 2nd toeasies gear on the small ring and I'm still fighting to get up the hill.  This makes me nervous for Boise as well, since these hill were half the size.  But I'm hoping that the hardship is just due to be being tired from all my training.... Too late to do much about it now, so we'll just have to see.  Hopefully my race report won't detail how I had to dismount and walk up the hill :/

I finally make it back to my truck (3 hrs on the nose) and get ready for me 1 hr run.  I really didn't want to run any hills so I ended up doing a loop around town that was about 0.8 miles long.  It was now after 11 AM and the sun was so bright and so hot with not much shade.  So, my run was more like a half run / half walk.  My HR never got too high but I was just so hot and tired that it was hard to make myself run.  So I didn't.  I probably should have, but oh well.  With each loop past the parking area, still no sign of my teammates.  And when I was done, they still weren't back.  Really, 1 hour behind me?  Not a good sign.  I decided to head over to the gas station to change shirts and get some cold water, and if they weren't back yet, I was going to drive around and try to find them.  Fortunately when I got back from the gas station, Jason was back, so that was a relief.  Turns out they had issues with their rear water-bottle cages turning into bottle launchers and then Melissa crashed.  We waited for Melissa to come back, chatted for a while, and then I headed home. 

me trying to look dead from my 4 hrs in the heat.  camera on the phone sucks, you can't even see the beads of sweat on my arms or the dead bugs who drowned and stuck in on my sunscreened arms.
Went home, ate a late lunch, showered, then had a call with Will's dad/family.  By that time it was 5 PM, so no nap for me.  Just crammed myself back in my recovery tights and went to the store, looking like a hot mess.
Swim practice this morning (Monday) was pretty rough.  My legs aren't sore, but apparently they're very tired.  Even simple 125 IMs were very tiring.  Not sure what this weekend holds (plan isn't loaded yet) but I do think I need to get in at least 1 more Chappell Hill ride.  If anything, I need the confidence boost.  Then its taper time.  Woo!

Friday, May 21, 2010

I knew May would be hard, but not quite like this

I'm smack in the middle of my hardest training month ever.  I logged 16 hours last week.... I've logged 7.5 hrs this week and have 11 hrs this weekend (run 17 miles and ride ~100 miles).  Work is slow-ish.  Really, its just that things are boring and I'm growing weary of my less-than-cooperative client, but I don't really have other projects on the horizon, so I'm stuck on this one.  Normally I'm ok dealing with this project, but when I'm tired and not all that busy, it becomes very hard to stay motivated.

So I was expecting my workouts to be hard.  Work is usually crazy (I actually prefer crazy to boring).  But then there's lots of "life" things that are just piling onto my already tired psyche.  Last Monday, authorities found the body of my friend's twin sister (likely murdered her husband).  She was missing for over a week with forensic evidence leading to foul-play, but for some reason reading the news reports of her injuries really got to me.  I really can't even process what my friend is going through, or her sister's kids.  Its just horrible.  Then Will's dad has a new medical drama that not going to get better anytime soon.  He's likely in congestive heart failure, the result of years of not taking responsibility for his health.  He went into the ER 2 weeks ago with fluid build up in his leg and had emergency angioplasty.  He's out now, but after a visit to a cardiologist, he needs another angioplasty and valve replacement surgery.  Surgery is scheduled for May 27, with 7-10 days in the hospital and 6 weeks of recovery (overlapping with my HIM in Boise).  This is further complicated by distance (we're in TX, he's in ID, Will's sister is in NOLA).  And my FIL doesn't have any of his documents current.  So, we're trying to get his will updated (it lists their mom as executor - they got divorced 15 years ago).  And we need to get a power of attorney (medical and financial) set up.  And DNR documents set up.  Preferably before the surgery.  Next Thursday.  And as Will said yesterday, "Its really hard to talk to your dad about where he wants to be buried."  Wow.

I'm just so blah I ended taking a vacation day today.  Got a 90 minute massage (which was awesome), tried to take a nap, got in some tv and kitty time.  Need to research PoA stuff, but really don't feel like it.  Need to figure out where tomorrow afternoon's bike ride will be, but again, just not feeling it.

I knew surviving May would be hard, but wow, I sure wasn't expecting these curveballs.  Thank goodness there's only 1 more week to the month!  I'm not sure I can handle much more. :/

Monday, May 17, 2010

Beach to Bay Marathon Relay Race Report

My co-worker (A, from Team Erin) has done this race several times and managed to pull together several of us from work to form a team.  The premise is that you do a marathon as a 6-person relay in Corpus Christi.  Each leg is 4-5 miles, starting from the beach and ending at the bay.  We decided to make a weekend of it and rent a condo on the beach.  Sharing a condo with coworkers is a whole other level of weirdness (I really try to limit being too social with my direct coworkers, due to being stabbed pretty bad by some coworker "friends" a few jobs ago.  Sharing a 3 bedroom condo was out of my comfort zone, but my fiscal cheapness won out).  To make things complicated for me personally, this race is 4 weeks before my Boise 70.3, which is pretty bad timing to be taking 3-day weekend trip AND doing a race.  Not to mention trying to get my 70.3 training in.

I had to get a bike ride in, so I got up early Friday morning and rode 35 miles.  My Garmin died (wouldn't charge, turn on, connect - nothing), so I was a bit panicky!  Fortunately, the unit came back to life after a soft reset (unlike the last time it died and I had to send it back in).  Then I had a whopping 1 hr to shower and pack before A picked me up.  We ended up having lunch by my house (with me decked out in my compression recovery tights), then loaded up everything (running and cycling gear) and hit the road.  The weather was crappy (rain) but we made decent time - got to the packet pick up at 5:15 PM.  I had never heard of B2B before and was very surpised to hear that there were 12,000 people running.  That's 2,000 people PER leg.  Craziness.  Pick-up was fairly disorganized (and crowded!) but we got it done.  Headed down to the island to our condo, unpacked, and waited for the rest of the team to show up.  We got tired of waiting, so we headed over to the restaurant for dinner, which was so crowded it was unreal.  Ended up being seated at 9 PM.  WAY to late of a dinner for me.  Had tuna w/potatoes, then it was back to the condo.  The last couple showed up and we were all wound up and ended up staying up much later than I prefer (11:30) chatting.

Saturday (pre-race)
Our condo was 1 block from the beach, and the race had a beach start that according to some people's phones was 0.5 miles away from our condo.  Leg #1 was a beach out and back run and  I was doing Leg #2, which started on the beach and went to the Causeway Bridge.  I got up at 6 AM, tried to make coffee but couldn't figure out where A stashed it.  Runner #1 was up and getting ready, and we both wished we had taken the time the night before to scout out the race start, as we had no idea about where it was specifically.  Race started at 7 AM, so #1 left around 6:30.  I left at ~6:40 and quickly realized that the race start was not as close as we thought.  I jogged 1 mile before getting to the beach access (#4) and I had to walk down the beach ~3/4 of a mile to the pier which was where the race started.  I had never done a relay, so I didn't know what to expect, but this was crazy.  I was expecting to see a sign or an inflatible or "something" indicating the hand-off location.  Instead I round 2,000 Leg #2 runners crowded in a narrow part of the beach (it was high tide and there wasn't much room).  They crammed us into the area which also contained the water station AND the first aid tent.  And then you add the stress of trying to hear your team number being called over the speaker (poor announcer guy sounded like an auctioneer) and trying to see your relay person before he went past you.  Not to mention pre-race jitters and a boat-load of volunteers yelling at the #2 people to move back to give the runners room in the chute.  Argh!

When we were putting our relay together, we had to predict our run time, so that the next person knew about what time to expect the baton.  I said I would "try" for 50 min (10:42 pace for 4.67 miles).  Wasn't too sure how that would go, given all my training for the week, but it was a nice round number so I went with it.

The first runners showed up 20 min after the gun.  Then the nervous waiting started.  I didn't hear my team number get called, but fortunately, my #1 is TALL, so I spotted him right away.  It also helped that I had a neon green tank top with a gun-toting panda bear on the front.  He passed the baton off and did not look happy at all.  Hmmm...  It was very congested and I was still on sand, but I tried to get moving.  It was also very warm and humid, which aren't optimal for running.  After ~500 yards I found pavement and started to make my way northward, holding around an 11:00 pace, passing some and getting passed by others.  I was crusing along and then around mile 1 I noticed very dark ominous clouds, and even said aloud "that looks BAD".  Then just like that I ran into what felt like a wall of cold wind, which was a very strange feeling.  It literally was like walking into a walk-in cooler with strong headwind.  At first I was a bit freaked but once I realized that this meant COLD air temperatures I was probably the happiest runner out there.  I love cold!  This meant I could push things faster w/out blowing my HR up.  Sweet!

I estimate that the winds were ~20+ mph with some pretty intense gusts.  And then it started raining.... small drops at first and then rain so heavy it felt like hail.  I was wearing my Texas 70.3 hat and didn't want to lose it, so I ran with my head down to keep my hat from blowing away.  That made the view for nearly the whole race consist of my shoes and the pavement directly in front of my shoes.  Awesome.  Water stops were amusing, as the paper cups were blowing every which way and the poor volunteers (which I thanked loudly) were drenched.  I was drenched.  But I wasn't hot and was so stinking happy to be running in windy torrential downpours in cool air temperatures.  As I was running and pushing faster, I just kept thinking to myself "I can do this - this is good training for Boise - I am a triathlete and a little wind/rain is no problem".  With the last 1.7 miles to go, I sped up and started passing people who had passed me.  I felt strong.  The last 0.7 mile, I'm pretty sure I was close to a 9 minute split (+/- 15 seconds).  This was where I realized I could "trust my training".  All those track workouts with sprint intervals and the recent hour long decend pace runs were paying off.  I was running as fast as I could and not dying.  Hooray!  I looked up and saw the bridge, and knew my #3 runner was just beneath it.  I had to run faster, and I did.  I glanced at my Garmin and it showed 8:30/mile as my pace.  I felt pukey, indicating I was right on target for finishing strong.  As I came into the chute to hand off my baton, I found #3 easily and wished him luck.  Poor guy had to run OVER the bridge with wind, rain, and now lightening.  Eeeps.

I looked at my watch as I passed the baton and I came in at 48 minutes - 2 min faster than predicted, and at a 10:16 pace. 

Post-run bonus miles
It was very congested and to get my training miles in, I needed to reverse my route and run back to the condo.  And it was raining and lightning out.  Plus there was major congested traffic on the side of the road I had to run on. 

None of that mattered - I just beat my time and had a FANTASTIC run.  I ran fast and had SO MUCH FUN in crazy conditions.  In fact, the crazy conditions are probably what made it so fun.  What can I say, I'm not wired like normal people.... I like crazy stuff.  I ran/skipped/floated my first ~2 miles back in sheer happiness, even as a ran through puddles and had jerks driving on the shoulder I was running on. 

Then a window opened of a car stuck in traffic - it contained runners #4 and 5.  Stuck in traffic.  Not good.  But nothing I could do about it, so I just ran back to the condo.  Did a total of 9.25 miles (warm-up, race leg, and return run).  I was one soggy mess.  But a happy soggy mess.

Rest of Saturday
We hung around the condo for a while, and after ~30 minutes, runners #4 and #5 came back, saying traffic was so bad there was no way they could get over the bridge and to their start.... so DNF for our team :/  But they brought groceries for breakfast, so we made the best of it.  After an hour (ish) things cleared up and they decided to try and make the final leg.  Traffic was gone, so A ran the final leg and crossed the finish line.  So not quite a DNF....

While they were gone, I took a nap (yay!).  Once they came back, we ran around for a bit doing tourist errands (swimsuits and beer), then spend quality time by the pool (it turned gorgeous and sunny!).  4 of the 8 condo-mates went back to Houston in the afternoon, and 2 of the condo-mates had plans with friends.  So that left just A and me up to our own devices.  My coach wanted me to do another 35 mile ride that day, and we did go through the hassle of bringing our bikes with us.  So we headed off on Road 22 south, with the intention of only doing as much as we felt.  The roads were crappy (chip seal and VERY rough) and while traffic was light, those on the roads were jerks.  So, we rode down to where the state park started (11 miles) and turned around.  My wrists were killing me from the rough roads, so I was happy to be headed back home.  We turned north and found wind (boo!).  Nothing major but still annoying.  Did a total of 22 miles and called it good. 

We got cleaned up and tried a very cute bistro I saw near the condo (Black Sheep Bistro), split a bottle of wine, and had a tasty dinner.

All in all, a very good day. :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shrimp and Couscous Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

I like to cook yummy and healthy things.  Something we came up with years ag when I was studying for my engineering exam (think Bar exam, but 4 years after you graduate), was that on Sundays, I'd cook a big batch of "something" that would last 3-4 nights.  Will can't cook well, cooking food every night was just too time comsuming, and with my funky dietary needs, "winging it" really doesn't work well on a regular basis.  Six years later, and this is pretty much how we like to eat.  Its easy and it guarantees that I have food I can eat during the week.  Fortunately, we both like leftovers too, or else this way of cooking would never work.  I try to cook seasonally, but that doesn't always work out.  And I rarely cook anything "American" - we like mostly asian and mediterranean flavors. Most of my recipes come from Cooking Light, with some tweaks.  Nutritional requirements are a 2:1 carb/protein ratio and that the protein is either fish or poultry.  When I cook something I particularly like, I'll post it here to share.

Shrimp and Couscous Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
I have a ton of basil that I inexplicably bought last week and didn't use, plus since its getting warm, I wanted a bright summery salad to eat for the week.  I took a chicken/basil/couscous salad recipe and tweaked it a bit.  I like this because there's minimila cooking, which is great when things are warm.


14 oz can chicken broth
16 oz medium size shrimp (pre-cooked and frozen.
4 oz whole wheat israeli couscous
8 oz whole wheat normal (small) couscous
(this is about 2 cups of dry couscous - you can use all small couscous, I just like the idea of the 2 kinds mixed together)
water to bring total liquid volume up to 2 1/4 cups
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup extravirgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
~1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sliced green onions
1 red bell pepper (chopped)


Bring broth/water and 1 finely chopped garlic clove to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add add couscous to broth; stir well. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 10 minutes. Place couscous in a large bowl; cool completely. Fluff with a fork.

Prep Vinaigrette by mixing 1 clove of garlic, basil through pepper in a separate bowl and let it stand ~15 or so for flavors to combine (I just let it sit for as long as it took the couscous to cool down in the freezer).

Thaw frozen shrimp in a collander under cool water.

Combine couscous, green onions, red pepper, shrimp, and vinaigrette in large dish.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.  (or 15 minutes because you're hungry and can't wait any longer like I did).

  • This is pretty heavy on the garlic, so you may want to reduce it by one clove.  I like garlic, so this doesn't bother me a bit.
  • The second night, I thought the lemon disappeared a bit, so I whipped up more vinaigrette and mixed it in the remaining salad.
  • I was supposed to add garbanzo beans to this and totally forgot, so this probabaly doesn't have quite as much protein as I needed.  Ooops.
  • This is VERY PRETTY when its fresh and the green onion / basil are green.  As it sits in the fridge, the greens darken a bit but are still tasty.  This would be a good potluck / picnic dish since its pretty quick to prepare and can hang out for several hours without threat of food poisoning.

Monday, May 10, 2010

May Weekend #1 Down

I may have mentioned a few (ok several) times that my coach is trying to kill me this month.  Or at least make sure I'm super-duper prepared for Boise.  This basically equates to more training than ever.  I just hope I can survive.....

Thursday - 45 min spin class + 1 hr yoga in the morning (normal routine).  Added bonus was a 1 hr descend pace run after work.  In the heat.  boo.

Friday - recovery day.  However, I actually worked this day (first Friday in a month I had to work... boo!) and then I volunteered for field day at the elementary school our office adopted.  I mentor a 5th grader, who had the afternoon field day shift, so I wanted to brave the heat and work the afternoon shift so I could see her in action.  Good plan, except her Mean Girls friends accused her of cheating on a state test (she passed, they didn't), so the poor kid was tossed in suspension for the day.  There were tears, it was bad.  Anyways, I ended up supervising the obstacle course, which was signficantly easier than last year's tag duty.  All I had to do was watch them go through hoops, jump rope 10 times, then walk with tin-can stilts for a while.  Not hard, but it was 95 degrees and I was doing a bunch of walking around, so not exactly a true recovery day.

Saturday - morning run then afternoon bike.

I ran 8 miles through the park, started a bit earlier than normal (6:30 AM) so I could beat out the heat.  Fortunately, a cool front blew through and it was actually nice out.  My pace wasn't blazing, but it was in the "acceptable" range for the zone I should have been running in.  Quads felt a bit heavy, but that's not entirely unusual.  Ended up doing the last part of my run going upstream through a group of very new TnT people.  I'm assuming they're training for the Houston marathon, because I can't figure out why else they'd be starting up so early.  And most of them were walking and looked pretty much straight off the couch.  One of them even exclaimed "wow, you've turned around already".  The look on her face was priceless when I told her I was on mile 7 of 8 for the day.  She's in for a shock if she thinks 8 miles is a long way....  After the run, I headed home, tried (and failed) to take a nap, then just ended up catching up on my TiVo.  Headed out on my bike at noon (so I could take a nap that afternoon) and rode 90 minutes (25 miles).  It was windy so my speed wasn't there, but my average cadence was 86, which for me is awesome.  I'm usually in the upper 70's to low 80's, so I was happy.  Especially to have light/quick legs after running in the morning.  My nap plan failed when Will called and said the guys were going to the bar for lunch.  I had only eaten on piece of pb&j toast (plus about 70 ounces of Infinit), so I was starving.  So much for my nap...

Sunday - brick day! (90 min bike + 30 min run).  Coach brought in a photographer for the website, so he wanted a ton of people to join the team brick.  Half of Team Erin came along (A), which was great, because I'm very clearly in the middle of the two ability levels of the group (very fast or very slow), so it was nice to have a buddy.  Since this was my third trip through the same park in 25 hours time, we took a slightly different route (out on Westheimer Parkway instead of staying on the trail to the end).  It was windier, but it was nice to see new stuff.  Cadence was 84, so I was a happy camper.  "A" had things to do, so I ran the 30 min by myself.  Pace was faster than yesterday but my legs still felt heavy.  Photos should be interesting - my tan lines from LoneStar are terrible.  Overall, a pretty good brick, though, and I was happy.  Then off to grab Will and head for breakfast.  And a much needed nap.

This weekend is a bit wonky, as I'm part of a relay team for the Beach to Bay marathon relay in Corpus.  I'm riding 2.25 hrs on Friday (so I don't have to ride on Sunday AND drive back home).  Then Saturday is race day.  I've got my leg (4.5 miles) and then I'm doing an extra leg to get my miles in.  And that afternoon I hope to do another 2.25 hr bike ride somewhere along the coast.  Or the beach may be too hard to resist, since we've rented a house on Padre Island.  Or maybe both, we'll just see.  The following weekend is crazy, with 12 mile runs and 3 hr rides - all on hills. I guess its nice to have something to look forward to, even if its scary.

Friday, May 07, 2010

First hot run of the season

Heat training is on my list for this month.  Its a long hot summer here in Houston, and unforunately, there's no way to escape the heat.  A large part of my run experience at LoneStar was limited because of the heat and most during local sprint tri's, temps are well into the 80's by the time you hit the 5k run.  Like it or not, I need to acclimate to survive. 

I hate heat.  I'm a mountain person - I love dry air and cool temps.  But seeing as how I don't live in the mountains and have no plans to move anytime soon, I just need to suck it up and adapt. 

Last night was my first real "hot" long run.  I did a track workout Tues night in the heat too, but I only had to run for ~5 minutes before I could take a 40 second rest.  Plus, I only had 4 repeats - the whole set only took me 40 minutes including warmup and cool down.  So last night's training ordeal was a 1 hr long tempo run - 20 min at Z2, 20 min at Z3, 20 min at Z4.  No stopping at all for the hour.

Yeterday's high was probably around 90 and I ran on a dirt trail after work with some shade to minimize sun.  I also filled my hand held water bottle with ice water, but it was pretty much warm after 20 minutes.  My z2 pace was pretty easy - I purposely tried to keep the first part of the 20 minute interval in the low part of my HR zone and then elevate it to the upper part of the zone for the last 10 min.  The Z2 run was a bit slower than my long training runs (in cool weather) but I was optimistic that this was just because I was still recovering from LoneStar.  Which is probably not true, since my 4x800 z4 runs on Tuesday were a almost all on a 8:40 pace, which is my fastest track z4 pace yet.  My heart rate is DEFINITELY influenced by heat, so I was just curious about how hard I could push things and have my speed zone match my heart rate zone.  The answer was.... not very well.

Z2: 1.74 miles, 11:30 pace, 154 avg HR

Z3: 1.72 miles, 11:36 pace, 169 avg HR (nice - higher HR AND slower pace.  awesome!  but to be fair, this was the hilliest part of the run, pretty much all the hills were in this section)

Z4: 1.77 miles, 11:18 pace, 176 avg HR

My Z4 pace from my lactate threshold test was 10:39-10:10.  Hahahah.  Clearly, the heat had a LOT to do with my speed/HR not synching up.  Hopefully as I do more of these, they'll match better.

I'm glad I toughed it out.  The last 8 minutes of the run was rough.  I was hot, my HR was hitting the "pukey zone", and I was generally not happy.  This is where the mental training and mind games come into play.  With 8 minutes, I knew that was basically 2 songs worth of time.  So I just kept telling myself to focus on the music and hope that the shuffle picked something entertaining.  And then I just pictured myself doing those 1/2 mile fast repeats 2 nights earlier.  Come one, you can do a half mile fast... you just did four of them 2 nights ago.  Get it done and then you are done for the night.  So that's what I did (with a LOT of checking of my Garmin to see how much longer the torture was going to last!).  Hopefully next week's hot tempo run will be better.  Probably not, but we'll see.

Face of a not so happy and very hot runner.  I hate it when my eyelids sweat.  Ick.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Texas

This is a bit overdue... you can blame work for that.  And look - I finally got the name right.  I still prefer Lone Star or Galveston.  "Texas" is so generic.

This race is a 2-day festival with the sprint and oly distance on Saturday and he 70.3 on Sunday.  This is the first year that this festival had was wrapped under the Ironman logo.  I did the Quarter IM last year and had a good time (except for the run) and was looking foward to the HIM this year.  Plus, this was a good confidence builder for the Boise 70.3.

We headed down to the island for packet pick up - got there about 4 PM.  Check in was definitely more complicated that other races I've done.  First you show your ID and USAT card - the volunteer at the desk marks your hand with an X and hands you 2 waivers to sign.  Go to table #2 to sign waivers.  Go to table #3 to hand in waivers.  Proceed to table #4 to get your goodie bag and packet, plus you got a wrist-band with your race number put on your wrist.  Proceed to table #5 to get your t-shirt.  Except, they were all out of my size, so I was asked to put my name on a sheet of paper and they'd maybe send me one eventually.  We also got a pretty decent white running hat.  No water bottle, which was odd.  We toured the Expo tent, and it was a disappointment.  The year before, there were local vendors, but I guess with the M-Dot branding, only "the" Ironman vendor or sponsors were allowed in.  pffft.  We checked out jerseys and stuff, but the "Texas" stuff was blah.  We decided to hold off until Boise to buy race stuff, mainly because Boise is more unusual than Texas.

They had you rack your bike Saturday, so we headed back to the truck to drop off the goodie bag and get the bike.  Racking was by number and they were pretty generous with the spacing.  I was the 3rd row from the swim in / run out, which meant I was pretty dang far from the bike in entrance.  I hate running in my bike shoes, so this didn't please me.  But since it was assigned, there wasn't much to do.  My row was super easy to spot, though, as it was right next to an open gap in the rows which contained 2 porta potties.  Couldn't ask for an easier way to spot my row.

After getting the bike set up, we ran into my swim team friend C (who I stayed with for Gateway).  We decided to head over to the swim finish to check it out.  Pretty much the same as last year - carpeted ramp out of the water and a wide spot for the wetsuit strippers.  I told C about the shirt issue, and she said that hers was ridiculously small.  Turns out the race people ordered gender-specific shirts, which was different from last year.  Last year I got a medium which was huge, so this year I ordered a small.  Which turned out to really be a ladies small and actually fit a 7 year old.  Sooo, not getting a shirt wasn't a terrible thing, since I went back after packet pick-up closed and got a mens small which mostly fits.  After checking out the swim area, it was time for the race meeting.  Pretty standard stuff, except they seemed VERY serious about penalties for drafting (there was even a penalty tent!). 

After all that, we headed over to our hotel and checked in. Apparently, I registered for a smoking room, which is a fail since I've got asthma (and smoking rooms are icky!!!).  And they were over-sold.  Somehow, I worked my magic (I think whipping out my inhaler helped) and we got a non-smoking room.  And then everyone checking in after us was screwed, since that was actually the last room open in the hotel.  Craziness.  Feeling very fortunate, we strolled up to our room, which was pretty nice.  I didn't really do much thinking when I booked our hotel.  I really wanted to stay at the race site, but it sold out in December.  So I really just wanted to stay close by at a non-ghetto hotel.  We stayed at one of those Suite hotels (Holiday Inn brand) and it was really nice!  It had a full sized refridgerator, which was awesome since I had to mix up 1 gallon of my Infiniti for the race, a stove, a sink.  It was pretty much a studio apartment.

After getting settled into the room, we went to a greek restaurant on the seawall for dinner.  I got "safe" food.  Hummus and pitas, roasted chicken and potatoes.  Not exciting, but safe.  Then we ran to Target to get bottled water (the tap water was icky and I did NOT want to take a chance race day) and got Will snacks for race day.

The rest of the night was spent picking through my race gear and setting everything up at least 3 times.  Asleep by 9:30 - alarm set for 5:30 AM.

Morning pre-race
For a change, we actually slept decent.  I normally don't sleep well in hotels for races, which results in lots of me yelling at Will for snoring.  Not good for a marriage.  So this time I bought a cheapie white noise machine and that seemed to do the trick.  Woke up, cracked open my traditional pre-race Coke Zero to wake my GI system up.  Got my drinks set up in containers, got dressed, and hit the road.  Got to Moody at ~6:05.  Easily got through body marking and to my rack by 6:15.  Then I had to pour my bike Infiniti into the profile and aero bottles, put on sunscreen, and get set up.  Probably could have used an extra 5-10 min for milling around because I did feel rushed.  Managed to get set up and out 5 min before transition closed, so I suppose I was ok.

I was expecting them to have a special needs area.  They gave us a "morning" bag, which I mis-interpreted as special needs, but nope, that was for AFTER the race.  Irritating.  I was hoping for special needs on the run, to store an extra bottle of Infinit, socks, and Body Glide.  Then in the confusion with the morning bag and walking to the swim start, I lost Will.  So when I should have been calmly eating breakfast, I was slightly panicked looking for Will.  I managed to find him by a palm tree not too far away from the start.  Lesson learned to coordinate meeting points for next time - especially when there's 1600 racers.  I then started to eat my breakfast of a protein bar and 1/2 a chocolate milk.  I was worried about eating late, as I fnished by 7 AM and my wave started at 8:05.  But I didn't want to eat at 5 AM and by 6 I was busy, so this seemed like an ok-ish plan, at least in terms of making sure I had nutrition in me to carry through the swim and the first part of the bike.  I then had time to do some yoga and put on the wetsuit.  Got to watch the pro wave go, which was cool, then I milled around some more.  They weren't announcing wave numbers very clearly or the time, so it was hard to get a sense of when you needed to be lined up. I got a quick pep-talk from my coach (who was also racing) then realized my group was almost to the end of the pier!  Eeks!  I kissed Will goodbye and boogied over to my age group on the dock.

I know several people in my AG and a few behind me, but I saw no one I knew.  I managed to befriend a few people as we stood around (from Wyoming and Colorado) and then my friend A showed up.  Finally someone to share nervous energy with!  Then it was time to line up, jump off the dock and swim to the starter buoys.

The swim was a trapezoid shape and while from shore the water looked ok, when you were in it, there were suddenly waves.  And the long back stretch was into the wind, which made things not very fun.  As we waited for the countdown to start our wave, there wasn't the jostling for position that I noticed last year.  Everyone seemed pretty respectful of everyone else's space, which was nice.  I hate the jostling just before you go.  Then the countdown started, I floated my feet back and up so I was ready to go, and then the race started.  I had a really hard time getting comfortable, mainly because of the waves.  It seemed that either side I breathed, I got wacked in the face with a wave.  And to add insult, the jetskis were zipping around VERY close to us and throwing wake.  My coach and I decided that I should not go all out on the swim, to help save energy for the run, as I've had energy deficit issues towards the end of my AquaBikes.  So I just tried to maintain good form, stay loose, and just swim.  More than once I had to tell myself to kick (annoying and dumb on my part), and more than once did I learn that chocolate milk and sea water do not mix.  (I literally told my stomach "not again" as I nearly got sick twice on the swim.  Ugh.  Need to eat earlier for sure next time).  Sighting and navigation was ok.  It was harder on the long back stretch, probably due to wind/current, and I had a hard time sighting with the waves getting in the way.  Oddly enough I had space around me for most of the way, but I knew I wasn't going fast, or at least as fast as I should be. Form felt good, I didn't have any of the annoying wetsuit arm fatigue that I've had in the past, and I was catching up to the waves ahead of me.  Turned the last corner buoy to the finish and sped up a bit, which was hard given the crowding.  Managed to draft off of a few people,  pass a few people.  And I managed to line myself up with the exit ramp perfectly.  I came up out of the water easily, stripped my wetsuit down past my hips while jogging before I came to the strippers.  I had two high school girls as my strippers and they had NO problem at all whipping my suit off the rest of the way.  I jumped up and jogged into transition.

Ok, the swim was not fun at all.  Which says a lot, since the swim is my favorite thing in tri's.  I was worried about being super slow, but to my relief, there were a TON of bikes on the rack.  In January when I got my bike tuned, the techs put yellow bar tape on my bike.  I really didn't like it because it wasn't a good match to the bike paint, but let me tell you, those yellow bars JUMPED out to me from the row of bikes.  I now love the yellow bar tape.  My stomach was suprisingly ok and settled quickly and I got to work getting ready.  I started putting my socks on, but had to stop myself to stay on plan.  "Just slow down and do this right", which meant sitting down and doing a good job body gliding my feet and toes, in preparation for soggy feet during the run.  Once that was done, I got everything else on and ready, then started jogging to the bike start.  I'm still not very confident clipping in quickly, but according to Will (and verified by his photos), I got over to the bike start and clipped and moving VERY quickly.  Hooray for me, since I've really been trying to get faster at this.

My goal for the bike was to stay in upper Z2 heart rate (mid to upper 150s) and keep the cadence high (for me) and to not burn my legs up.  I was expecting a headwind on the leg out and was very happy to see I could easily maintain 15 mph and had high hopes for sweet tailwind on the way back.  The bummer part is that I was being passed a TON.  I don't know if this was because I was just slow, if people had better bikes/wheels than me, or if people in IM events are just more athletic than me.  I stayed on plan though and kept at my pace.  Turns out the training ride on the course last month was a good confidence builder, as the winds weren't nearly as bad. About 10 miles into the ride, I saw the pros coming back on the other side of the road, which was really cool to see.  About mile 15, my stupid inner thigh was speaking to me, so I decided to stop and stretch really quick.  When my leg gets tweaky, my power goes away, so even though its annoying to stop for 2 min to stretch, its well worth it in the long run. 

I made it to San Luis Pass 15 min quicker than I did on the training ride, which was great.  As I got to the Pass (which is actually a bridge) I noticed that the winds were shifting.  Boo.  On the far side of the pass it was really pretty.  Race coordinators shut down the road on the far side so we had no traffic - just blowing sand.  Made it to the turnaround and started making my way back.   Sadly, there was no sweet tailwind, as the winds had shifted to a true cross-wind.  All of us women were unhappy, to say the least.  At mile 34, I noticed I was running low on fluids (my 28 oz aero bottle and 40 oz profile bottle), so at the rest stop, I decided to stop, use the bathroom, stretch again, and fill up my aero bottle with my reserve bike bottle.  This was an accomplishement for me, because on all past long rides, I haven't drank near enough of my Infinit, which results in a pretty good calorie deficit.  For this race, I set my garmin to beep at me every 15 minutes to drink.  I refer to this as my "drink, bitch!" alarm.  But it worked - maybe too well as towards the end of the ride I was a bit bloated.  At mile 48, I decided I wanted some water, so I successfully did a water-up (my first).  By that point, I was pretty done with being on the bike - feet were going numb, lats were sore.  So I started with the little mental games we all play to get us through.  Every 5 miles I promised myself I could unclip my feet to get feeling back in my legs, come out of aero to stretch my back.  Just a little reward for 30 seconds or so to keep me going.  I was passing some people which also helped - they usually commented in suprise that I had energy to pass them.  But overall, we were all done with the wind.

Finally I came up and over the seawall and I knew I was close to home.  I also remembered from last year that there would be a photographer on the seawall, so I tried to gain some distance on people so I'd have the shot all to myself.  I could now see the traffic light which was the turn to Moody and there wa the photographer.  I decided to put my serious face on for the picture and cranked away.  Made the turn to Moody, was wacked in the face with winds (just like last time), but it was ok because I was almost done.  Wound my way back to Moody, saw Will, managed a smile and a wave.  Made it back to the bike line, unclipped and jumped off my bike and jogged back to my bike rack.

Not much sense of urgency here, as my bike was 10 minutes slower than my expected "slow" time.  I also wanted to ensure that I grabbed everything I needed to for the run since there wasn't a special needs area.  And I was fairly beat from the ride, so I just wanted to keep my wits and set myself up for the run as best as possible.

Starting a half marathon at 12:30 in the afternoon in 80+ degree weather and full sun is not optimal.  I started out of transition at a good run - my legs actually felt really good.  All those bricks for the past 2 months paid off as I had none of the typical calf cramping or leg discomfort.  I blew through the first aid station that was right at the start of the run and saw Will cheering for me.  As I headed around the turn into the heart of the couse, a volunteer cheered for me by name and I really had to work at not tearing up.  I was about to complete my first 70.3.  Wow - what a cool realization. I hit the second aid station and decided to walk through it, get some water as think I had too much Infiniti on the bike and I just felt very salty.  Back up and running, legs felt good - repeated this cycle for the next 2 aid stations.  Completed the first loop, walked through the loop start aid station, past Will and OnUrLeft cheering me on and off I went.  I ended up mostly running the first 1.5 (of 4) loops and then my heart rate was creeping up into zone 4 and I was getting the "I'm hot and miserable" vibes.  My friends that I saw on the course earlier who were pushing said that they were pretty tortured and most everyone on the course was unhappy.  In fact, most people around me were walking.  I had 2 choices: push more and be very cranky or walk/run as I was comfortable and have fun.  The net time difference in the two options were 30 minutes, but considering that my swim and bike were slower than I hoped, I knew I wouldn't be making my goal time even if I pushed it.  So, I decided to back off on the pace and make some friends along the way.  I tried to run between aid stations as I felt like it but decided that it was better to finish happy than fast. 

I continued to drink water at every aid station, plus pick the ice out of my cup and cram it down my top.  Also got 1-2 iced sponges and either tucked them into my top or kept them on hand to dab on my arms or face to keep cool.  I was drinking Infinity every 1 mile, but just a tiny sip or two, as opposed to 2 ounces, which is my normal run consumption rate.  Early in loop 3 my legs started feeling dead, so I had 1/3 of an espresso hammer gel.  Warm espresso gel washed down with warm orange Infinit is not a taste sensation I need to repeat anytime soon!  Not sure if the gel was a good idea, because 10 minutes later I got a decent side-stitch. 

I really thought doing 4 loops would be annoying (2 loops last year was VERY annoying) but actually, it was pretty nice.  I knew when to expect the aid stations and where the wind was better/worse, where the course was boring and when I'd have distractions to occupy my mind.  The fan support was also amazing - several people cheered for me by name on each loop, which was so incredibly nice.
inally the last loop was here and I was ready to push a bit more.  Mainly just to get the dang thing over with!  Fortunately, the side-stitch went away by this point and my legs had energy to burn, so the gel turned out to be the right thing to do.  I was pretty much by myself for this loop (or had 15-30 seconds of space between people) so I just kept moving along.  As I came to the final stretch along the water I kicked up my pace, fixing my fuel belt so my water bottles were towards the back so they wouldn't show in my finisher photo.  Then I was rounding the corner tothe finish chute.  There was Will and OUL cheering me on, I heard the announcer call out my name and I sprinted through the finish line, putting my hands up and smiling the whole way.  I finished strong and HAPPY.  I met Will and OUL at the finish for congrats and pictures and then it was time for food.

The food/drink options sucked - cold cheese pizza anyone??? We still had some pizza but then Will suggested ice cream. Ben and Jerry's on the seawall was the best. idea. ever. Then we drove back home. Which is when I discovered I was severly sunburned and was wondering which would hurt worse: sore muscles or sunburn (sunburn hurt worse). Apparently my uber waterproof sport formula was not wet-suit proof.

Nutrition Plan
I think my nutrition was about right - if anything, I maybe had too much, but only slightly.  I will definitely eat earlier pre-race to avoid issues during the swim.  I'm very happy with my bike nutrition.  And my run nutrition was good.  I made good adjustments and choices during the run and avoided GI issues.  I had good energy the whole race, which was the goal.

Not at all speedy, but here they are:
Swim: 45:57
T1: 5:12
Bike: 3:41:14 (15.19 mph) 0-28 mile split: 15.03 mph, 28-56 mile split: 15.35 mph (see - windy both ways!)
T2: 3:15
Run: 2:50:42 (13:02 min/mile)