Monday, August 29, 2011

Mt Elbert

About a month ago, my tri club posted on facebook about doing a hike up a Fourteener the last Saturday in August.  Groupon had a half off coupon for an adventure race, but this seemed more fun.  And besides, I'm a native and have never climbed at Fourteener!  Originally, I wanted Will to come along, but once he heard that we had to leave at 3 AM, he was out.  Also, this funny bit of conversation:

W: who are you hiking with?
E: people I don't know from my tri club. 
W: you don't know these people?
E: nope, but what could go wrong?

There are 54 mountains in Colorado which have elevations higher than 14,000 feet.  The common term for them are Fourteeners.  Quite a few people are focused on "bagging" every one of them, sometimes all within the same year.  Some of the hikes are 100% trails, some you have to scrabble up loose rock, some you have to very carefully walk along the spine of the mountain.  And at Pikes Peak, there's even an oxygen bar. (eyeroll).

Our hike leader, Matt, decided that we'd hike up Mt Elbert, which is the highest mountain in CO and the Rockies.  Its the second highest moutain in the continental US, only 65 feet shorter than Mt Whitney.  The hike was 4.5 miles with a gain of nearly 4,500 ft elevation.  The plan was to get to the trailhead at sunrise and summit well before thunderstorms could build.  Lightening is the main danger when hiking above treeline, thus the 3 AM departure time.

green line is the trail to the top
The drive up wasn't as awful as I anticipated (it helped that I wasn't driving).  Turns out I knew Matt from the club track workouts and we have done a bunch of races together (before I moved here).  So we chatted the whole 2 hr drive to Leadville, where we met the other half of our group.  Being up there in the dark was a bit spooky - and the trees were covered in frost.  (not ready for winter... yet).  After a quick pit-stop in Leadville, we drove to the trail head, where there were about ~20 other cars in the parking lot and more cars coming in.  Elevation was just over 10,000 feet.

Pre-dawn parking lot with lingering fog

We started hiking and I just took off up the trail.  I was hauling.  No idea why - maybe I was just excited to get going after sitting in the car for 2.5 hrs.  We took a break at the first mile for snacks, and I realized that I had an open blister just under my right ankle.  Fortunately I had some blister block (and it stayed on for the whole trip!).  After the rest break, I was no longer speedy.  I think the lack of oxygen finally caught up to me and I was no longer the leader.  Actually, I was in the back of the pack now. Boo.  When we were hiking in the forest, the trees were pretty thick and there was little undergrowth.  We started getting to where the treeline, the trees started getting a bit more sparse and you could catch glimpses of Mt Massive (another 14er adjacent to Elbert). 

The group just before treeline

Our group was a pretty good one - very friendly and all willing to take breaks.  Treeline was at ~12,000 feet and at that point, my asthma was becoming noticable.  I just couldn't get in enough air or catch my breath for any sustained amount of time.  Finally, I decided that it was better to go slow and to NOT get into an oxygen deficit than to go hard, ignore the breathing, get dizzy and then sick.  The topography was also becoming more steep.  As a result, I decided to hike 100 vertical feet and then take a 30-60 min mini-break to catch my breath.  Sometimes I'd stop sooner, depending on the steepness and my breathing.
Mt Massive peeking through

So more hiking... up and up.  Above treeline, the vegetation was high alpine meadow with sparse grasses and NO flowers.  Once you went up and over a saddle, you got to the main climb, where it was all rock and dirt.  But mostly rock.

hiking up out of the trees

the top of the hill was the first of 2 falst summits

this was the most sucky climb

the specs are people - top is the second false summit

Matt was hiking with me, which was nice, but I also felt a bit bad.  I don't think I was holding him back, but I hate hate hate being in the back of the pack.  However, my lungs were my limiter, and there wasn't anything that could be done except to take my time.  Somewhere mid-way up the hill on the above-right picture, my Garmin read 14,000 feet.  Matt thought my Garmin was wrong.  Turns out Matt was wrong and we actually did have another 400 feet of climbing.  This trail took us through two false summits.  False summits totally suck, because mentally, you think you're near the top.  Only to find out that you're not even close to the top. FINALLY we got to the last part of the trail, which was along the spine of the mountain.  And then we got to the top and the rest of our group was there, but they'd only been waiting about 10 minutes.  There were probably 40 (?) people also at the top.  We ate lunch and hung out, took photos.  Until a cloud over Twin Lakes started to look a bit too dark and scary, so at 11 AM, we decided to head back down.


scary cloud that made us think twice about lingering

survey marker

you can see the trail on the ridge below

Matt had planned on a 4:30 hike up, I made it in 4:20, so according to him, I was still "doing well".  Nevermind the fact that I got totally lapped by dogs.  We started down at 11, which was the time that Matt had planned on us reaching the top. On the way down, we were glad that we didn't linger, as the scary cloud started making noises, big ugly claps of thunder.  Being on a mountain above treeline in a thunder storm is NOT a good place to be!  We weren't in any danger, but the clouds were definitely building.  Going down wasn't as lung-taxing as going up, so I didn't need very many breaks.  I am a horribly slow down-hill hiker, though.  My knees just don't like it and my legs become very wobbly.  As a result, I take things very methodically and slow.

goal here wasn't to take a pic of these guys - I wanted
to show how steep the trail was, but they wouldn't move!
FINALLY, after 3 hrs, I made it to the bottom.  The top of my right foot was sore, both of my big toes were numb, and my calves were shot.  But we'd made it round trip in 7.5 hours (9.5 miles by my Garmin).  AND we beat out the storms.

We met up with the faster group (who got lost on the way down - oops!), the drove into Leadville for lunch.  PIZZA.  Mmmmmm!  After that, it was down to town and I was home by 6 PM.  Where I became a zombie.

rain falling over Twin Lakes

Today (2 days later), I feel like I just did a half ironman, if not more..... My legs are super sore and I'm TIRED. My right toe is still numb too. :/

Friday, August 26, 2011

Race Report - Rattlesnake Olympic Triathlon

The plan for the summer was to enter a few races for fun and milk my IMTX training for all it was worth.  Why I decided to do yet ANOTHER Olympic race, I have no idea... especially considering there was a Sprint the next day.  But the Oly was my club's race and the price was right.  I was actually close to signing up for the back-to-back (oly and sprint), but somehow I was smart and decided that the oly would be plenty.  Coming into this race, my swimming has been eh (not liking my new team at all), cycling has been non-existant (3 rides in 6 weeks, all crammed into the last 10 days before the race!).  Running has been ok, doing 6 mile runs regularly.  Not enough for my upcoming half mary, but plenty for an oly.

This race was set up very strangely.... the swim was a 2 loop swim, where you pop up at the end of the first loop and run on the beach for ~100 feet and head back into the water.  I did that in a race last year and hated it.  The swim start was also very funky - time trial (meaning you start 5 seconds apart), and the start order was women first, oldest to youngest.  Blech.  And it was a "run from the beach" sorta start, which meant you run in and (if you're smart) dolphin dive to get rolling. 


Really weird bike racking in transition
Getting to the venue was ridiculously easy.  Took me maybe 20 minutes to drive, and that was taking the long, non-toll road way.  Got to the parking lot (right next to transition!) at 6 AM.  Transition was really funky.  Instead of having rows of racks, they had these weird little bike stand thingies that you see in front of stores that hold ~4 bikes.  The stands were scattered about and space was pretty tight in between the "rows".  Since I got there early, I snagged an aisle spot.  This was good because I could use the aisle for transition and I didn't have to worry about the tight rows.  They forgot to turn off the sprinklers that morning, which meant transition was full of puddles.  Quite a few people were complaining, but its not like you come out of the lake dripping wet anyways. 

They offered body marking inside transition, which must be a Colorado thing (Boulder Peak had that too).  I really like this because you don't get the bottleneck into transition. 

puddles and awkward transition area - but look at all the
room I have
I got everything set up and chatted with some friends from my tri club.  Said hi to my other Team Sony teammate who was racing.  Then it was time to make the big "wetsuit or no wetsuit decision".  I headed to the water and waded in about mid-thigh.  Everyone was wearing wetsuits.  They claimed the water temp was 71 - it felt more like 75.  I decided (again) to not wear the wetsuit and wear my Torque.  (Bear in mind, I bought a sleeveless wetsuit in July to wear this summer, and I've never even tried it on yet.....).  I ran back up to transition to grab my Torque and to stow the rest of my stuff at the club tent.  Then it was time to cram into the Toque and get into line, where I was one of maybe 10 people not wearing a wetsuit.  I was the only one in a speedsuit, everyone else simply didn't own or rent a wetsuit.  Hmmm, not too sure about my decision now....

swim start - rawr!
The swim start was awkward.  You had to line up by number.  I was 196 out of ~400 people, and 5 seconds apart meant I was standing around for 16 minutes.  I think I prefer wave starts, as you know when you start and there's not so much mulling around.  So, once I FINALLY made my way to the start chute, you stand single file on the beach.  The woman in front of me left, and then I had a guy with a stopwatch count me down.  I heard "GO" and took off.  I've only done one beach start before, and that was as a relay and I was combined with all the 20-25 year old men.... so I let them go ahead and I held back so I wouldn't die.  This time I wanted to be aggressive.  I took ~4 running steps with high knees once the water was to my knees I dove in.  I think I executed this pretty well - I felt fast and my goggles stayed on.  The swim was a really weird out and back, with a u-turn.  The buoys were connected with a yellow floating rope.  So, my goal was to just stay on the rope the whole time.  This worked pretty well.  I hit the buoy and turned 180 degrees and was met by 2 women who were treading water or doing breastroke RIGHT AFTER THE TURN.  WTF?!?!  I had to swim between them, but as I did, I yelled (I think) "not a good place for social hour ladies".  That pissed me off.  Ugh.  I had a harder time navigating the rope on the way back and I had some chicky in a pink wetsuit decide to swim RIGHT next to me.  Fine.  I survived IMTX with no wetsuit - game on chicky.  That continued on for basically the whole back end of the first loop.... at the end, I swam until I could touch sand with my hands, jumped out, ran my ~100 feet in the sand, (made a comment to the photographer about that moment being cute/horrible), then ran and dolphined in for the second loop.

running into the water to start the
second loop
For some reason, my navigation wasn't great for the second loop.  I think I got a bit lazy, knowing the yellow rope was there.  Only the course was more congested, so I had to swim wide at times, which meant I should have been sighting but wasn't doing so as much as I should have.  I had the same pink wetsuit chicky bouncing off of me - I actually converted this into drafting.  If she was going to swim close to me, I was going to benefit from it!  I hit the turn and hugged the yellow rope for a while, which turned out to be an error.  The race finish was actually quite a ways to the left of the swim start, only it wasn't marked with buoys!  Finally I realized that hey, I should look for the red finish flags", and found them. Then it was a weird open expanse of a swim, with only the red flags on the beach to guide me.  (different colored buoys would have been helpful here....)  Things finally got a bit congested towards the end - once again, I swam until I could touch sand with my hands, then I popped up and ran up the hill to transition.

this doesn't look as awkard as
it felt.....
From the water, you have to run up the beach, up the grass, to the wetsuit strippers, then up more to a sidewalk, then UP MORE to transition.  They had strippers for this race (yay!), so I was trying to jog a steady pace while wrestling out of my Torque.  I needed to get it down past my hips before the strippers so they could pull it off w/out damaging it.  I got the top part down pretty easy, but when I grabbed on to pull it past my hips, I caught my tri shorts and almost pulled them down too.  Oops! 

Near-clothing malfunction aside, I finally got the thing past my hips and ran up to the strippers who were all "WTF?" when they saw my Torque.  I told them it was mostly like a wetsuit and all they had to do was grab and pull.  They did and I was off for MORE running up the dang hill.  I finally made it into transition where it was super easy to spot my bright yellow bike.  A quick socks on, shoes on, helmet on, glasses on, racebelt on, and I grabbed the bike and was out to start the bike.  Also: my club was volunteering in transition and it was SO NICE to hear people cheering for me. 

So I rode the course the week prior (after not riding my bike for 6 weeks) and it was hilly.  Not ridiculously so, but it wasn't going to be easy.  Fortunately, it was not windy, so I had that in my favor. 

brown grass and power lines
not very scenic
For the first few miles, you wind around the reservoir park.  Not really sure why they just didn't extend the course on the main road by another ~2 miles, but for whatever reason, we got to ride on really crappy chip seal with decent hills.  Fun after swimming!  Once out of the park, I focused on getting my HR down to something in the 150's and getting my cadence comfortable. Bike was mostly uneventful... I passed some people, mostly going downhill.  I always push the downhill so that momentum will help me up the hill on the other side.  So, that resulted in a game of leapfrog - I'd pass people going down and they'd pass me going up.  Definitely need to work on going up hills if I'm going to be any good racing here.

The bike course is a simple out and back on varied road surfaces. Concrete, asphalt, bumps over bridges, and chip seal.  I hate chip seal.

A compliating personal feature for my ride was my full bladder.  It felt full during the swim (which I ignored) and now it felt full on the bike at ~mile 10.  There wasn't anywhere to stop and I didn't think the remainder of the ride would be fun with a full bladder, so I pee'd on the bike.  And I was proud of this!  I made sure I didn't have anyone near me (no witnesses!), and propped myself way back on the seat and let things go.  It was a bit icky (and I felt bad for my bike), but I knew there would be water at the turn around that I could use to rinse myself with.  I felt badass and much better.

The final hill is this up, flat, up, flat, up push to the turnaround.  It just goes on foreverl  On the second to last hill before the turn around, I dropped my chain.  I guess this was Buzz's way of paying me back for peeing on him.  Unfortunately, due to going uphill, I didn't have momentum to fix it on the fly (although I tried), so I had to stop, dismount, and fix it.  My Garmin was on auto-stop (I really need to turn that off for races!) so I don't know how much time I lost... but if I had to guess it was 30 seconds.  I hopped off, did what I needed to do and hopped back on.  Hardly got any bike grease on me either.  Then I had to start the climb from a dead stop.  Boo.

Turn around was uneventful.  I got water to rinse the ickyness off me and got back to work.  Since I dropped my chain, it was tempting to push hard to regain my position.  However, I still had 10+ hilly miles AND a 10k run to get through.  As much as I wanted to push, I knew a steady pace would be much better.  And in the end, I ended up catching back up to some of the people who passed me.

As I approached transition, you have to go on those lovely chip seal roads UPHILL back to transition, which sucks.  I was having a hard time, and I figured that after 23 miles (and little training) that I was losing my legs.  It just got tough and for no reason.  (the next morning, my back tire was dead flat.... not sure if it was going flat on the bike though).  While I was riding, I was determined to have a quick transition.  I was tired of getting to my rack and blankly starring at things, only to finally realize I was in a race and get moving... and have a crappy T2 time.  So while I was riding back, I actually thought about transition, what I needed to do and the order.

I came screaming in on my bike and ran into T2.  Again, I was happy for my aisle spot, as it was super easy to park my bike.  I fiddled with my garmin, and while I did that, I said "HEY - multitask!" to myself, so I unclipped my helmet at the same time.  Got all that done, swapped shoes, and then grabbed the rest of my run stuff (hat, water, garmin) so I could put that on during the run.  My transition was focused and FAST.  Go me!

this is the happiest I've felt
running in a race in a long time
I made a race-day decision on my footwear.  I normally run in Brooks Adrenaline 11's but I also own some Newton Motion shoes and love them.  I just don't run in them all that often.  The one time I raced in them I ended up PR'ing on the run and placing 5th overall in my age group.  My feet fly in these shoes.  But if the run is on an uneven surface (trails) Newtons are a bad choice, as its easy to turn an ankle.  I brought both shoes, but once I heard the run was 100% concrete, I knew it would be a Newton sort of day.

Also, during the run for both IMTX and Boulder Peak, I had really bad stomach issues.  I was a bit gun-shy for this race and was very conservative with my nutrition.  I probably under-drank on the bike (on purpose).  And for the run, I carried only water and had a gel in case I needed it. 

I got out of transition and my feet were flying.  I kept looking at my watch and seeing a ~9:30 pace.  I told myself to slow down and it just didn't happen.  Finally after the first mile, I knew the heat would eventually get me, so I gave my feet permission to fly along as long as I could handle the heat.  The first 3 miles were SO MUCH FUN. 

this is my "I'm hurting but will try to
smile" face
gooo Team Sony!
Effortless running.  It was amazing.  And better yet, my stomach was cooperating!  Then at the turn around (3 miles) the heat hit me.  I ran to the 4th mile aid station and then I just got hot.  My heart rate hit 180, and that's my personal HR limit, especially when you have 2 miles left to run.  So I did some run/walk business to get my HR under control.  I was also getting a bit dizzy (under nutrition) so I had a tiny bit of gel to get that taken care of. There was one girl in my age group, who I was just behind on the bike before I dropped my chain.  She was having trouble, so I made it my goal to ease up, but not so much that she'd beat me.  This proved to be decent motivation and by the 5th mile, I couldn't even see her behind me anymore.  The final mile was a bit ugly, mostly because of the heat and these lame little hills.  More walking.  Then I finally sucked it up and ran the last half mile, as fast as I could.  I don't remember the pace at the end, but it probably wasn't as fast as I'd like.  I was trying to push and it just wasn't there.  Hit the chute and raised my arms - wanted to get a good pic in my Sony kit :)

I had to pick my mom up from the hospital at a yet-to-be-determined time that day, so I headed up to the club tent to check my phone for messages.  No messages - good!  I can partake of post-race activities!  They had bagel sammiches (so much better than pizza), cookies, fruit, pop, and beer.  I sat at a table with my club-friends (I can't tell you how happy I am to have friends at races again!).  I ate my stuff, figured I'd hung around long enough, and headed up to transition to grab my stuff.  My club had beer at the tent, so I stuck around to drink half a beer (it wasn't that good), then I grabbed my stuff and drove home.

Goal for today was to avoid stomach issues.  I modified my pre-race food.  Normally I have a Honey Stinger protein bar and coke zero about 2 hrs before the race.  I think the protein bar messed with me during Boulder Peak, so I swapped that for a Powerbar.  Stomach was ok during the swim and great on the bike.  I mixed up a 2 hr drink in my 40z oz bike reservoir and was careful to not chug it.  I also normally have a gel on the bike for the oly-distance, but today I was being cautious and stuck to drink only.  That seemed to work as my stomach felt great during the first part of the run.  For the run, I carried water and had a gel for emergencies.  I took a swig of gatorade at mile 1 or 2 (I can't remember), which ended up hurting a tiny bit so I quit that altogether.  Then after mile 3 I started getting a bit dizzy.  I ripped open a gel and took in maybe 1/4 of it.  Just enough to get some sugar in but not enough to mess with my stomach.  This seemed to work as the dizziness went away but my stomach was ok.  Maybe next time I'll go a bit heavier on the bike with calories. 

Swim - 29:04 (2 minutes faster than last year's 2 loop with run oly distance swim).  Age Group - 10/33 Overall - 160 / 397.  Was expecting to be a bit higher up with that time.  Also, people were commenting that the swim was short, which I believe.  My swim time included not only my swim, but also my long run uphill AND the strippers.

T1 - 1:29 (fastest T1 to date, probably because the chip mats were right at the transition entrance)

Bike - 1:28:37 / 16.83 mph.  Age Group - 19/33 Overall - 297 / 397.  For reference, last year's Oly (which was FLAT) was in 1:25 with no mechanical issues or hills.  So I'd call this a success.  Especially with my lack of training.

T2 - 0:20.  Yes, 20 SECONDS. I was hoping for under a minute.  I have no idea how I did this.  I'm pretty sure that I can't even change shoes while standing up in 20 seconds.

Run - 1:06:40 / 10:45 min/mile pace.  PR by 4 minutes.  Age Group - 23 / 33 Overall 303 / 397

Overall Time: 3:06:10  PR by 23 minutes (Boulder Peak) and by 28 minutes (Houston Tri, Sept 2010).  GO ME.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Crazy Week

At this point, I just hope I survive through September.
  • Monday - recovery day, nothing special otherwise (honestly, I just don't remember Monday)
  • Tuesday - awesome 6 mile run, blah work
  • Wednesday - mom had surgery to remove a 20mm pre-cancerous polyp from her right colon.  I took a vacation day so I could be the "responsible child".  Got up at 5 AM had an "eh" swim practice (I think I'm going to switch teams AGAIN - this one just isn't doing it for me). Then I got home and figured while I was taking a vacation day and didn't have to be anywhere until noon, I should get in a bike ride.  Normally I just ride on the trails by my house, but since it was after 8 AM I thought it was safe to ride on the roads.  I managed to pick a ridiculously hilly route, which had wind from all sides.  Went a whopping14.8 mph for 16 miles.  Left a bit too late to run any errands, so I went straight out to pick my mom up.  Got there 5 minutes late (she was waiting on the front porch).  Got the hospital right at noon, got her checked in, and waited and waited.  Her surgery was at 3. They didn't call her back until 1:30, which meant lots of anxious waiting.  Poor thing couldn't eat or drink anything after midnight.  I was thirsty and starving, but felt really rude eating/drinking in front of her, so I suffered as well.  They took her back at 1:30 to prep her (hospital gown and an IV).  I went back ~20 min later, where they told us her surgery was pushed back by 30 min to 3:30.  She was a bit of a wreck so I distratcted her with random facebook photos of people she may know.  They wheeled her off at 3:30 and I was free to eat and drink.  Headed across the street for a bite and beer.  I felt sorta guilty about the beer, but I also thought I earned it.  The surgery people said I'd get a call ~30 min before the close of surgery, sort of a notification to get my butt up to the waiting room so the surgeon could talk to me.  I didn't like the waiting room so I hung out somewhere else.  At 5:15, I decided I needed to head up there, sat down, and 2 min later the surgeon showed up fully dressed.  What about my warning call?  Surgery went well, except instead of removing 2 inches, they took out the whole right colon, which is about 5 inches and included her appendix.  At 7 PM they wheeled her into her room, where she was awake but loopy.  She asked me the same series of questions about 3 times.  And I'm a bad daughter and didn't ask the right questions of the surgeon and therefore didn't have good (detailed) answers for her.  I helped her eat her "dinner" (clear liquids) and left at 8:30.  LONG DAY.
  • Thursday - decided to sleep in and ditch my run.  Got to work and realized my laptop power cord was making a popping noise and wasn't working.  I called IT at 9 AM to tell them I needed a new charger.  At 11, my laptop battery died.  Meaning there was no work to be done.  I called again, and was told to wait.  I called again at 2 PM - same response.  Considering I was now using my vacation time to sit in my cubicle waiting for a power cord, I decided to just head home.  So I did.  And played with the critters (Swift, my cat; and Molasses, my mom's tortoise who we are pet-stting for the next month or so).  At 5 PM, Will and I head over to the hospital to visit mom.  Not a bad visit, she's doing better but was still on IV pain killers and a liquid diet.  Left at 8 PM.  Ate pizza at this place by the hospital that we went to ALL THE TIME as a kid.  That was trippy.  It hasn't changed at all.  And was YUM.  Then home to feed/medicate Swift.  And at 10 PM bedtime.
  • Friday - skipped swim practice.  Not getting much out of it, plus I have a race Saturday, and I'm really tired. Alarm went off at 6:30, Swift came upstairs to greet us, only instead of meows and purrs, she's breathing so hard it sounds like she's gagging.  SCARY.  Will took her downstairs and she was doing better (slightly).  Breathing hard but at least her mouth was closed.  Gave Swift her 2x/week cancer pill, and went to work.  I hate waking up and then trying to figure out right away if  I'm going to have to put another cat down.  Ugh.  Patching things together for work to full my day (there's not much going on right now) but at least I have my laptop charger.  Then after work its off to the hospital, dinner, and home for race prep.
Yeah, I have an olympic distance triathlon tomorrow.  Not sure why I thought this was a good idea.  Part of it is because I'm sponsored now and I have to get in 5 races between now and January, and there aren't that many tris to do between now and then. Its also my tri club's race, and I will have friends and support there. Also, I thought I needed the distraction.  Well, I'm distracted (and pulled in 4 different directions).  Hopefully the race will go well. :/

Monday, August 15, 2011

Too many options

I am easily talked out of training without a plan in front of me.

Saturday I was supposed to wake up at 5:30 AM do a 10 mile run with my (very informal) running club.  Instead, I woke up at 5:20 AM, drove up to Idaho Springs to SAG (aka be a support vehicle) for my tri club's annual Mt Evans bike ride.  I figured there was NO WAY I could ride my bike up that thing (28 miles, all uphill with a 6-8 % grade, ending elevation of 14,130 ft) but I could assist those who could and make friends along the way.  We had 14 riders.  Everyone made it to Summit Lake, 11 made it to the top.

There was a half marathon (Georgetown to Idaho Springs) that morning, so we "had" to park at the Cemetery. 
Echo Lake
QUALITY pavement up above Summit Lake
The group.  Fastest rider made it up in 3 hrs 15 min.  Descent took 1 hr.
After the ride, we had lunch at Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs.  For my SAG duties, one rider bought me a beer.  I got the Rye Porter.  OMG TASTY!  For lunch, even though I did in no way earn this, I got the waffles n chicken sammich.  With another rye porter.
with maple bourbon glaze.  I ate this at 3 PM and did not eat dinner.  Too stuffed!
Sunday I NEEDED to ride my bike.  In my last post, I made it pretty clear that my time on the bike has been non-existant.  And I have an Olympic distance tri next Saturday.  So, I organized an unoffical club ride on the Rattlesnake bike course.  25 miles of HILLS.  With no trees or shade.  Going out, I was actually holding 12 mph going uphill and my HR was only 163.  I thought to myself, wow, maybe I did hold onto some of my IM bike fitness afterall.

We turned around and WHAM, headwind.  Yeah, fitness?  What's that?

Actually, the ride wasn't so bad.  The last 2 miles of steady climbing will suck.  Running a 10k after a hilly ride in virtually no shade will really suck.
Sporting my new TEAM SONY race kit after my ride on Sunday.  I'm a sponsored athlete, yo!
Then there's my whole half marathon.... I won't be doing a long run next weekend.  I haven't done anything over 8 miles since IMTX.  I won't be able to run next weekend because I have the Oly race Saturday and I'm volunteering for the sprint on Sunday.  The following weekend is a bust, as I'm hiking up Mt Elbert (a 14,000+ peak) with my tri club (organizer's notes: 9 miles round trip with 4700ft of elevation gain...your legs and lungs will be tested, but this is very doable climb.  We shall see).  My last "distance" run (8 miles) was July 16th.  And my half marathon is Oct 9th.  Sooo, this give me 5 weekends of running opportunity before my race. And that's if I don't do any more tri's.  There's 2 more I'd like to do before season closes in October.  I may just have to do long runs and then the sprint tris may (or may not) suffer.  And then there's beer fest at the end of Sept.  TOO MANY FUN THINGS ARE GOING ON.  Ugh.

I NEED to get in 2x 6 mile runs during the week and I NEED to start working on my Saturday long runs.  And then really buckle down in September if I don't want to die on Oct 9.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Two really great runs

Trying to keep things upbeat here.  Will do a memoriam entry about Ernie when I can think about him and not cry. :( 

Onto rainbows and bunnies (happy thoughts).

We went to Idaho for vacation last week.  Not exactly a happy vacation, as the primary objective was to spend time with Will's grandmother.  Grandpa passed away in February, and since then grandma has been declining.  She had a "cardiac event" in early July, went into assisted living 4 weeks ago, and asked to go off of all her medications 2 weeks ago.  I can't say I blame her, she's lived her life and she's ready to go.  Still, it sucks.

Even through we were on vacation, I needed to get some training in.  Swimming is hard to do in the desert (yes, Southern Idaho is a desert).  I could have brought my bike with me, but I didn't see myself trying to figure out which roads were paved in the area of the grandparent's ranch.  So, I made it simple and brought ONLY my running gear.  My goal was to run 20 miles for the week.  I had 9 weeks until the Denver RnR half marathon and I've barely been running*.

What happened to running and biking??
 I still don't have a real run plan.  I'm going to try to run 3x per week.  Tues should be track night, Thurs should be 6 miles, Sat should be my long run (10-14 miles).

Goal for the week was to run 4 times.  Twice @ 6 miles, a 4 mile "recovery" jog, and another 6 mile run.  We drove to ID (10.5 hrs) on Saturday and stayed with Will's mom.  Her neck of the woods is still pretty "country" with farms, dairys, and pig farms (OMG, the SMELL) nearby. The roads are really simple - all based on 1 mile squares.  VERY hard to get lost out here.  Last time I ran here, I broke my foot. So, the running joke this time was that I should NOT break my foot, that it wasn't 15 degrees out, and my MIL's husband shouldn't have to drive around looking to rescue me.  I got up at 6:30 (early, but still sleeping in since I normally get up to run at 5:20) and hit the road.  (full disclosure: I wanted to stay in bed, but the MIL's husband promised to take us out to breakfast that morning.  Pancakes = I need to EARN them by running) I ran on dirt roads the whole time with some decent uphills.  I took the first 3 miles as a warm-up then did some fartleks every 5 minutes to build speed coming back on the last 3 miles.  The first three were decent.  Took a while to get warmed up, but I was happy running with new scenery and smells, as it had just rained and the fields were full (except the pig farm smell - ick!).  Plus, its kinda fun to run with cows and horses as your audience.  Coming back I ran fartleks at my 5k pace (which is actually faster than my 2010 5k pace now), starting at 20 seconds and building to 40 seconds every 5 minutes.  Fartleks are great because you get burst of speed which don't tire you out, and it gets your feel moving faster, which keeps your non-fartlek pace faster than if you were straight-pace running the entire 5 minutes.  For the last half mile, I pushed the overall pace to my 10k pace, to negative split the run.  Really great energy on the back half of the run.  Legs and spirit felt great.  Speed was great.  10:47 overall pace. (My last run of a similar distance was at a 10:59 pace).  Then we went out and had fantastic blueberry pancakes (soooo good) and then I took a 3 hr nap.  Hello vacation!

Monday we migrated to the grandparent's ranch, so Tuesday morning I ran out there.  Again, 6:30 AM.  Sun was out and it was a bit warm (not Houston warm, but warmer than Denver).  Same deal as Monday.  Dirt roads, warm-up the first 3 miles, fartlek back the last 3 miles.  The first two miles really didn't feel great.  My right foot is developing minor plantars fascitis and was pretty stiff.  Actually, my legs in general were pretty stiff, probably from Monday's run.  But knowing my body, I stuck with it, because it usually takes me 2-3 miles to warm-up.  My watch rang at 3 miles, I turned around and started pushing.  Fartleks starting at 30 seconds every 5 minutes.  At mile 5, I was flying and feeling great. I rarely get runner's highs, but I was feeling it that morning.  I felt FANTASTIC.  Running in the country next to a mountain with beautiful skies and happy legs.  I decided to push the last mile, descending from a 5k pace to a faster than 5k pace at the 1/2 mile mark.  I was flying and it was wonderful.  6 miles at a 10:32 pace.  Sweet!  (probably would have been even faster, but its impossible to run across cattle guards, and I had 4 to cross).

Tuesday I pushed myself to run again.  This workout was a recovery run intended to loosen the legs but to also build strength.  I knew it would suck.  But that was the point.  I got up at 7:30 this time (slacker!) and hit the road.  Goal was 4 miles.  Immediately, it was not a fun run.  Legs were very stiff, nothing felt awesome.  When things don't feel great (which is often the case), I stick to my "give it 20 minutes" rule.  If things don't feel better by 20 minutes (usually almost 2 miles), then its time to bag it and head back.  Usually things feel better after 20 min (as demonstrated the previous day).  Today was no such day.  I got to 1.5 miles and simply wasn't feeling it and headed back.  Total run - 3.2 miles @ 12:10 pace. FAIL.

Wednesday was a planned (and needed!) rest day.  Thursday I probably should have gone running, but I didn't.  And then a dry storm moved through on Thursday, causing 30 (!!) range fires in the area.  The air quality was horrible, which meant no more running for the week.

This fire was ~5 miles away from the ranch and 20,000 acres big.  Will helped with fighting it (with his cousin) and they ended up saving a neighbor's house.
fire at twilight
Total mileage: 15.2 
Maybe next week I'll hit 20 miles.  Actually, I've got an Oly on the 20th, so it may be more like 3 weeks before I hit 20 miles for the week.  Training plan???  Good thing I don't have one, or else I'd be blowing it big time!

* Holy hell.  I just charted my weekly distance from late January until now.  Can you say slacker???  Damn.  I knew there would be a dropoff after IMTX, but seeing it graphically is harsh.