Monday, April 30, 2012

Cherry Creek Sneak 10 Miler - Race Report

I didn't have this race on my list, but my team (Team SunRype) offered 6 free entries.  I had a 2 hour run on my schedule and thought this would be a good way to get it done.  So thanks, Team SunRype!

I really didn't treat this like a race.  There was no taper or even rest prior to the race.  Just more training.  For some stupid reason, my coach (aka ME) had me scheduled for 5 hours worth of running from Friday afternoon to Sunday.  That's nearly a marathon. W. T. F. Its like I never even looked at the schedule as I was writing it to make sure it wasn't incredibly stupid.

What I had was:
Friday - 1 hr recovery run
Saturday - brick (2 hr bike + 1 hr run) and then my favorite hang out for a few hours and THEN run ANOTHER 1 hr
Sunday - 2:15 hr run, with fartlek speed intervals.

What I actually did was:
Friday - 45 min recovery run
Saturday - brick (2 hrs + 45 min run) and then 30 min run in the PM
Sunday - 1:50 run or a 10+ mile race.

I felt like I honored the plan but I wasn't completely stupid about it.  Still, this totalled 22.5 miles in 3 days.  Wow.  My point of all of this is... I really wasn't sure how I would do in this race.  My legs had seen a lot of use and I really didn't know what to expect.

My race started at 7:45 AM.  I left the house at 6:45 and drove to Cherry Creek.  I'm so happy I studied the map the night prior as I got a SWEET parking space.  2 blocks away from the finish line (which was also basically the start line).  And there were a TON of spaces.  Awesome.  At 7:15 (while I was parking) I had my 100 calorie Liquid Shot + 1/2 scoop of Pre-Race.  And holy crap, will I ever get used to that horrible taste?  I also sipped a partial bottle of EFS which was left over from my brick the day prior.

After parking, I wandered over and easily located my other Team SunRype people.  I mean, we have a giant orange/yellow sun on our bellies.  We are not hard to locate.

The Race
Like I said, I wasn't racing this.  This was more like a training run with a few thousand people and a beer tent at the end.  I did a 30 minute warm-up followed by 20 x [3 min Zone 3 HR intervals and 1 min recovery].  Sure, Zone 3 and you think, no biggie.  But its the last 5 that really hurt.  Zone 3 seems easy early on but it can hurt at the end. 

My "warm-up" was on a 10:48 pace.  Kinda fast for a warm-up. I guess my legs might be ok.  Somewhere around mile 2 I heard a "HEY ERIN" from way across the street.  I wore my fluorescent orange Newtons.  There is no anonymity while wearing those things.  And apparently, I'm the only person out there with them... or at least the only one wearing a brightly colored racing kit.

I didn't preview the course, so I had no idea what to expect.  I just wanted to give a consistent effort.  Not a consistent speed, just effort.  Somehow, every stinking uphill was during my Z3 effort.  And every downhill was during my recovery.   LAME.  I was good, though, and I used my intervals to power up those hills.  Most of my recovery intervals were an easy jog.  I did walk 3 of them, mostly toward the end.  My stomach was starting to talk to me, and the walking helped.  My last intervals were slower but I could still go.  Finally at the finish line, I had about 1/4 mile left and I just decided to go-go-go.  I tried to get other people to go with me, but they just looked at me like I was crazy.  Like, who wants to push MORE at the end of a 10 mile run?  Somehow, I had enough go-juice in me to go FAST.  Pretty cool, given everything my legs had done this weekend.

One irritation about the race, somewhere around mile 2.5, you run up a hill and turn around at the end of the cones.  I was running down the hill and I heard a volunteer say "10 milers straight, 5k turn at the cone".  Wait?  What?!?!  Damn, I turned and did not go straight.  I said some not so nice things to the guy about poor communication of the volunteers (who said NOTHNG my first time through).  I turned around and started up the hill.  Only when I passed the "turn" I discovered that there were actually TWO different turns.  The FIRST was for the 5k'ers.  Then you go about 100 meters straight and and the 10 miler's turn at the SECOND cone.  Communication is everything, even in races.  That probably added ~0.15 to my overall distance.  And it gave me something to be irritated over for a few miles.

The hills weren't awful, Cheesman Park had some, but they were quick.  The really icky one started at 6.5 and went on for about 3/4 of a mile.  It wasn't steep, it was just LONG and was mentally a bit rough.  But I kept telling myself "fast feet" on the hills and I did ok.  I can proudly say I ran up each and every hill yesterday. 

The aid stations were ~1.5 miles apart, which was a good enough spacing.  I like to drink every mile, but I had my hand-held bottle with more Liquid Shot + water.  The aid stations were just a little gulp or two of extra hydration.

The weather was fantastic.  Probably 40's and sunny in the morning.  I wore my tri shorts, sleeveless running top + my favorite light weight long-sleeved shirt, and calf sleeves.  Seemed to work fine, as I wasn't ever too hot or too cold.  And the course was really pretty.  Overall, it was a good race and I'd do it again.

Post-race, we pre-arranged to meet at the finish line at 10 AM.  This gave me enough time to finish, walk back to my truck and get my samples, and return to the finish.  There were 7 of us from the team, and everyone was super cool.
Afterwards, I headed to the beer garden.  There was a long line, a huge crowd, and average-tasting beer.  I had the brilliant idea to head over to Cherry Cricket for better beer and TASTY burgers.  Best idea of the week.

Nutrition seemed to be ok.  I loaded up my hand-held with 400 calories of Vanilla Liquid Shot + water.  And my LS+Pre-Race combo about 30 min before the gun went off.  I had good energy, but I wasn't laughing like a maniac like I was 2 weeks ago at the Platte.  Still, good energy given what I did to my legs is a pretty solid result.  I think I like this First Endurance stuff.

And finally, what race report would be complete without a photo of a red tortoise?  We were leaving the Beer Garden and I saw a TORTOISE and flipped out.  My friends, not knowing my affinity for these guys, probably thought I was crazy.  The Denver Zoo had him out so he could pimp their 5k run.  Not sure how a tortoise is effective marketing for say, a running race, but it caught my attention.
Total time: 1:51:03 (probably ~15 seconds long... I never remember to hit my watch at the finish)
Total distance: 10.29 miles
Pace: 10:48 

I'll take it!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Flower update

I am having such fun this spring.  Nearly every day, something new is going on in the yard.  Its fun to explore and see what is new.

The daffodills are the star of the yard right now.  They are doing extremely well.  I just love them - they're so cheerful!

The tulips are finally blooming, despite the yard-bunny's best efforts to eat them.  I got the Monet mixture - all pastel shades of pink and yellow.  So far, they're white, pink, and dark red.

Our lilacs are finally blooming.  I LOVE lilacs and it was such a nice suprise that the former owners of this house planted several.  When I lived in Houston, I really missed lilacs.  They don't grow there and that made me sad.

Our irises have been a bit of a mystery.  We got several from Will's grandmother's yard in Idaho.  I thought it would be a nice tribute to have some of her plants in our yard.  They were all done blooming when I dug them out, so I have NO IDEA what colors I grabbed.  Then a bit later in August, my mom found some random guy in the neighborhood who was dividing and giving away some of his very expensive, award-winning irises.  Mostly in blue.  We think.  And I just randomly scattered both sets of irises throughout the yard, so I really have no idea what is planted where.  I'm just going to assume blue = random guy, everything else = grandma.

My mom has been telling me all winter that the irises won't bloom the first year.  I did some googling, and the interwebs told me that if the rhyzomes are planted early enough in the late summer, chances are good for flowers.  We planted the Idaho ones in mid-August, so I thought we'd have a good chance for flowers.

And look what I found this morning:

You can see one of my alliums in the near left background, my pack
of garlic directly behind the iris, and some daffys in the far background
Isn't it beautiful?

View from the top, showing off the coloring:
So extremely pretty.  I just wish it was located in a place where I didn't have to peer through some corner window to see it.

We also have a white iris flowering.  While not as pretty, it sure smells good.

My garden experiment has been an experiment.  And that's about the best I can say about it.  About 3 weeks ago I posted this:
This is my indoor seed starter.  In the foreground is mostly lettuce, with some kohlrabi and some herbs.  In the background are tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant (ie the long to germinate plants).  The background plants were starting to get leggy, so I left the lid off the greenhouse.  And then Zipper ate all the plants.  Poo.  These guys needed to be in the ground mid-May and need a good 8-12 weeks before they're ready to go outside.  I now had only 4-6 weeks.  :( 

I transplanted the cool weather seedlings last weekend.  And then they all shriveled and died from the heat.  So, my big "start the seeds indoors" experiment has not been a successful one.  So far.  I am determined to somehow get it to work.

About 2 weeks ago, I did direct-sow some cool weather seeds.  I wanted to see how they'd do outside vs their pampered inside siblings.  So far, so good:
I think these are my mixed lettuce seeds.
Yes, the cups look weird.  But here's my logic:  From top to bottom, the bed consists of: several inches of mulch, weed block fabric, dirt.  You sow the seeds very shallowly in the soil. I didn't want the little seedlings to get lost in the maze of fabric and mulch, so I thought the cups were a clever way of helping them find their way.  And they seem to be happy.  I will probably be planting another round tomorrow, so we have lettuce growing in stages.

Also: 2 of our 6 hops are showing leaves.  The hops we took from Cow Camp in Idaho and some Chinook hops.  But of course, I neglected to snap a photo of them.  They've been secured in chicken wire so the bunnies won't eat them.  Hopefully they'll be happy and grow us lots of hops.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gear I Use - Compression

Compression gear is the one piece of recovery equipment that I cannot live without.  I love the stuff.  Its ugly, but wow, I really love it.

I first used compression socks in 2010, when I started developing shin splits from training for my first HIM.  I somehow (probably with internet research) stumbled upon CEP brand socks.  It turns out, these are some of the best socks I've ever used.
I own the white/orange ones.  I also got the white/grey/black ones last summer at a screaming deal, but the house gremlins have run off with them.  They are no where to be found.  So today, I sucked it up and bought a new pair - in PINK.

I don't actually run in them.  I haven't tried.  I'm very particular about my socks when I run.  I keep trying new kinds and I keep going back to my trusty Wright socks.  Maybe someday I'll run with the CEP socks.  Not sure I'd do it during a triathlon, though.  These suckers are TIGHT and the thought of wrestling them on while wet in transition doesn't sound appealing (or fast).

I also love to wear my CEP socks while skiing, usually under my wool ski socks.  Upon perusing the interwebs for cheap CEP socks today, I discovered that they sell ski socks.  So I have some in pink/black, which matches my new Vokyl Aura skis :)
As much as I love the CEP socks, I really don't like their calf sleeves.  I toyed with the idea of running with calf sleeves during IMTX last year.  A good friend of mine (who runs marathons) really loves wearing them, so I thought I'd give them a whirl.  I tried on CEPs and Zoots.  CEPs were pretty stretchy and not super tight.  The Zoots are made from pretty thick material and are also very tight.  I like wearing these as recovery sleeves during the summer, so I can wear sandals instead of bulky shoes to cover up the socks.  I've also ran a few races in the sleeves, mostly for added leg warmth, not for compression.  I wore them 2 weeks ago and they didn't bother me, so I may be wearing them more often.
They're also a little easier to wear in triathlons, since you can easily wear them under your wetsuit (or swim with them sans wetsuit) and avoid the transition wrestling match.  They're pretty heavy though, so I'm thinking my legs would get pretty warm.  Again, something to experiment with.

Finally, my very favorite compression torture devide - compression tights.  I freaking LOVE these things.  Espeically when combined with compression socks.  I have been known to rock my tights under a skirt while at the grocery store or out to lunch.  And of course I wear them when I fly home after a race.  I look pretty amazing in them. 

Random aside: if you see someone on a flight wearing this stuff, chances are, they're a tri-dork.  Flying back to Denver after IMTX 70.3 and IMTX, there were so many people wearing this stuff.  It was very cool and also very amusing. 

The key is to get the RECOVERY tights and not the running compression tights.  The recovery ones are much tighter.  And much better.  They are, however, nearly impossible to put on easily or quietly.  I have scarred the poor kitties for life multiple times with my grunting, trying to get these damn things on after a hard workout.

I typically wear the socks on Mondays (my rest day) and the afternoon/evening after my hard Saturday/Sunday workouts.  I've only slept in them once.  I don't know why, there's just something about sleeping with compression socks that makes me nervous.  I will wear the tights after a super hard workout.  And I generally save the sleeves for when I need extra warmth when racing or for extra recovery in the summer when I don't want to wear socks.  They are expensive, but I use them all the time, so to me the expense is worth it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

doing a good job of kicking my own ass

Apparently I need to learn lessons more than once.  Two weeks ago, I had a big back-to-back training weekend and on Sunday, Palmer Lake kicked my ass.  Most likely due to crappy recovery practices and crappy nutrition during the day prior.

Last weekend was rockstar awesome, probably due to good recovery practices and good nutrition.

This weekend was another big back-to-back weekend:
Friday - Masters swim in the AM, 1 hr fartlek interval run in the PM
Saturday - 50 miles on the bike
Sunday - brick: 2.5 hrs bike / 1 hr run

This week was my recovery week.  "Week" meaning 4 whole days.  The swim workout Friday morning was great.  The run on Friday evening started iffy.  Recovery weeks are funny.   My body was protesting the run because it hadn't run hard in a whole 5 days.  An eternity!  But once I warmed up, I actually did really great.  I had 10 x 2 min speed intervals with 1 min rest.  The first 5 were at my 10k pace, the second 5 were at my 5k pace.  And the kicker?  The last 5 were mildly uphill, which made keeping the 5k pace even more fun.  To my suprise, I did really great and ran my fastest 1 hr split this year.  Sweet!

Saturday and Sunday were supposed to be a Brick on Saturday and a long bike on Sunday.  But my friend wanted to ride in Boulder on Saturday, so I swapped them around.  No harm, right?

Saturday was a busy day.  I was up riding around Boulder having a great time while Will was at my mom's doing a whole long list of chores.  And we had my tri club's season kick off party that night, starting at 5.  I picked Kelly up at 9 AM, thinking that we'd get up to Boulder Reservior by 10 and on our bikes no later than 10:15.  One bathroom break and then a stop on US-36 to adjust my bike rack, which had come loose at 65 mph (scary!), and it was 10:30 before we started riding.  It was a fantastic day.  Sunny, warm, and not windy!
downright horrible conditions along 75th
Added bonus / interest feature - the Haystack time trial was also going on.... on the same road we were riding on.  So I guess is simulated race-day conditions with these huge guys on their disc wheels and aero helmets zipping past us.  We were riding the Boulder 70.3 course, so my friend could become very familiar with it and get nice and comfy before her first 70.3 in August.  The first loop felt ok but not great.  Maybe I was holding back because I couldn't remember exactly how "bad" the hills were (they weren't) or maybe I wasn't warmed up yet.  I do know that the second loop was amazing and I felt good.
riding in Colorado really sucks
This ride was great.  I definitely felt like I could knock out a 13.1 mile run.  We rode 53 miles in what was probably 4 hours. (I did have to stop and wait a lot for Kelly, which is totally fine.  Today was more about getting her comfortable on the course.  And its a bit of pay it forward since I've had countless people wait on my slow self in the past... on this course even!)  This was Kelly's longest ride EVER and the idea of running a half marathon after doing this ride is well, terrifying.  I told her that she's got until August and by then, it will only be slightly scary.

It was now 3:15 and I had to be showered and party-ready by 4:45.  And drive back from Boulder to my house.  Maybe someday, I will actually get to stalk the pro triathletes in Boulder.  But today was not that day.

I managed to get home at 4:20.  I had to leave no later than 4:50.  Guess what that meant?  No icebath!  And I knew I was going to pay for it.  (although, I did plan enough ahead and had my recovery drink waiting for me in the truck for the drive home).  I begged Will to rinse out my bike bottle while I showered.  When I got out of the shower, Will alerted me of a bunny situation:
this is one our basement window wells.  Also known as the Bunny Pit or Sarlac Pit
We discovered 3 melted dead bunnies in one window well last July and well, it was disgusting.  An interesting science project, but still disgusting.  We put chicken wire over that well and so far so good.  Guess we have 2 more windows to wire over.  Will wanted to somehow rescue them from above, but I was being lazy (time-crunched) and we opened up each window, cornered the bunny with a box, and took them outside.  Suprisingly, they jumped right in the box.
this is a 12-pack beer box.  the other bunny was even smaller
This made me late, but OF COURSE WE HAD TO SAVE THE BABY BUNNIES!  Poor little things.  As a thank you, they're probably out eating my tulips right now.

Then we went to my tri club's kick-off meeting at Lone Tree Brewing Company.  These guys were SO nice to us.  We bought 2 pony kegs and drained them in the first hour or so... or at least one keg was drained EARLY.  The brewery was so worried about us running out of beer that they gave away free samples of other beers until we got our act together and bought a 3rd keg.  We also had those giant subway sandwiches.  I know I said I'm not eating grains and bread and whatnot, but the only solid food I had all day was an apple and almond butter for breakfast and a few fruit snacks.  These sandwiches were the best sandwiches ever to exist in the history of sandwiches.  Or at least they were that night.  I ended up eating poorly, drinking too many beers.  Not enough to get drunk, but enough to make me sleep something awful.

And then I had to get up at 6 AM to coach swim practice and do a medium brick on Sunday.  Can you already see the fail?  I could too, but I was going to give it a go.

Swim practice was fine.  I stopped by Starbucks for a huge latte and things were ok-ish.  Then at 8:45 it was time to ride my bike up the lovely hills by my house.  Within the first 10 minutes, I knew it would be a long day.  My legs were definitely unhappy.  Somehow the ride wasn't entirely awful - I climbed the hills ok, maybe a bit better than last time.  I should have been out 2.5 hours but knowing that I also had to run after, I cut it short to 2 hrs 10 minutes.  I did ride up all the "quality" hills, so I didn't feel too guilty.

Then I started the run portion of my brick.  My legs were flying but my heart just wasn't in it.  I resolved to run out 1.5 miles then turn around and evaluate.  When I got to the rec center, I could have ran further but I decided to call it a day.  Just because your legs can go farther, doesn't mean that you should go farther.  I will have many more opportunities to do so.  And maybe I'll actually take proper care of myself when I do it.....

Monday, April 16, 2012

A magical running day

For the first part of my running career, just about every run was torture.  I would finish my run, at best feeling good that I got the workout done, but never really felt good. More like "thank goodness that's done!" Even while training for my first half marathon and 6+ months of training, I never had a "wow, running is fun" moment, until about mile 5 of the race.  It was at that point that a switch inside me had flipped and running became fun.  That day, I finally got running.

Today, not all runs are great, but most have at least some part of them that's fun.  Some days, I try to enjoy simply being outside.  Other days, the truly magical days, are where my feet are flying and everything is easy.  Sunday was one of those days.

This was the tail end of a heavy 2-week training block.  Last weekend was not so great, with my 4 hr ride getting cut to 3 hrs and my legs feeling awful.  I did some hard thinking about what may have gone wrong, and really felt that my performance was limited my nutrition.  Pizza on Friday night (paleo? nope!) and completely blowing off my recovery drink after Saturday's brick was a huge contributor to my lack of legs on Sunday.  I bought a tub on First Endurance Ultragen (Cappuchino flavor) so I would have no excuses in the future.

Friday was a 3,000 m swim (30 x 50 m tempo to sprints!) in the morning followed by a 30 min run that afternoon.  And that run was rockstar awesome.  Really, I have no idea where it came from, but it felt GOOD.  Saturday was a "test" day.  Or as Will said "one of those days".  I had a swim/bike brick in the morning.  I was supposed to swim 2k but ended up swimming 2,700 m.  Oops.  Then I dried off, changed, and hit the roads on my bike for 2 hrs.  I picked the local hilly route, catching the two biggest hills in town. 

Random aside: I wish I could quantitate exactly what the elevation gain was on that ride, but when I tried to dowload all the files from my Garmin to the computer, it wouldn't do it.  I called Garmin support and it turns out that I was 10 firmware versions behind on my device.  Oops.  And as it turns out, when you are that many versions behind.... all of your data gets deleted when the firmware is updated.  Awesome. 

I felt decent going up the hills.  My heart rate was controlled and I wasn't wiped out.  Speed still isn't there, but speed is really relative, given wind and how tired I am.  So, I'm going off of effort and HR to define my progress.  Once I wrapped up the ride, I went home, drank my recovery drink, then chilled on the couch for a few hours before going on a 25 min run.  The evil couch-monster and the cats nearly tricked me into a nap.  Both cats had pinned me down and were lulling me into a nap.  But knowing that a storm was blowing in, I escaped their evil plan and got my run in.  Normally these afternoon runs feel awful.  The intent is mental training, so you can teach yourself to run when you're tired.  This run wasn't great, but really, it wasn't bad either.  And the tempo was pretty fast.  Then I came home, took a nap (with both kitties - turns out I lucked out and they're good nappers), then took an ice bath.  Dinner was pho and not pizza.  Much better.  I also slept in my compression socks, hoping to make my legs nice and fresh for Sunday.

Sunday was my long run - a half marathon.  I was pretty skeptical that this run was going to be a good one.  For starters, I've only been running since the week of March 11th.  My only long run of the year was on March 25th at 10 miles.  My last 10+ mile run was in October 2011.  I've been doing a bunch of speed work (5 miles a session) and 1 hr tempo runs since the 25th, so my weekly mileage has been fairly consistent.  But still, a half marathon on legs that have only been running consistently for 5 weeks... alright!

I went running with my friend Steph and a bunch of other people (ok, I was in a race, but I treated it as a training run with a bunch of people and aid stations).  Steph is training for Kansas 70.3, which is the same weekend as Boise.  We ran together at the Denver RnR half marathon and we are typically the same pace.  And we keep each other entertained.  Perfect for a long run.

This run was also a preliminary test of my race-day nutrition.  First Endurance has two products which I want to use on the Boise run....  Liquid Shot is used in lieu of a gel.  And Pre-Race, which you can take alone before the race, you can mix it with the Liquid Shot and take it before the race, or you can mix it with Liquid Shot and take it during the race.  The last option is unofficially known as the hand grenade and I am strongly considering this for the run leg of Boise.  Today, I didn't quite feel like having a hand grenade, so I took ~100 cals of liquid shot and mixed it with a half scoop of Pre-Race and took this about 30 min before the race start.  And wow, did this taste nasty.  The Pre-Race is horribly bitter and icky tasting.  But it works, so I will tolerate the taste. (they also have pills of pre-race, I just didn't know about this when I ordered and got the bulk powder).  It took about 15 minutes for the Pre-Race to kick in and whee!  I was feeling good. 

The race started and I immediately tied my jacket around my waist.  The forecast was high winds and sleet.  Fortunately it wasn't too windy and it was sunny.  Still a bit chilly, but not too bad considering we could have had sleet.  Steph had on about 10-zillion layers.  After the first mile, she stripped off her running tights.. and she still had another set of pants under them.  TWO layers of pants!  It was hilarious.  The first few miles were spent pacing and trying to get comfortable.  More than a few times I'd look at my Garmin and see we were going too fast and tried to reel my feet back in.  I was hoping for water stations ever 1 mile.  My nutrition plan was to have water every mile and some Liquid Shot every 2 miles.  Well, the aid stations were every 2 miles.  Boo.  And I needed something to wet my mouth every mile, so I ended up taking a sip of the Liquid Shot every mile.  Somehow, my stomach was perfectly fine with all of this, so YAY.  We walked the aid stations, since neither of us were really racing and we weren't sure how this long run was going to turn out.  After about 4 miles, I think the Pre-Race or maybe the Liquid Shot (I don't know) really kicked in and my feet wanted to GO.  Poor Steph was trying her best to keep up.  I'd look behind me, she would be back there saying something, and I'd laugh like a crazy person.  The people around me surely thought I was crazy.  Wheeee.... caffeine!  At mile 6 I walked a tiny bit more to let Steph catch up with me and then I really didn't see her after that point.  At mile 7 I finally quit trying to tell my feet to slow down and I just let them do as they pleased.  I really don't like pushing that early in a half marathon, but I couldn't hold back any more.  I was also getting fun little energy surges each time I sipped on the Liquid Shot.  The entire run my legs felt AWESOME.  No fatigue what-so-ever.  And my stomach, for the most part felt good.  This is the first long run in a long time where my legs and stomach felt good.  It was awesome.

Somewhere around mile 9 or 10 I found some other friends that we had started with, but ended up pretty far behind due to Steph's strip show at mile 1.  I was pretty pleased I found them AND passed them.  The legs just wouldn't quit!  The wind did pick up quite a bit (headwind) and at mile 10 the sky started spitting.  I just made myself go faster.  Well, maybe not faster, but just keep going at the pace I was holding.  The miles just ticked away and then I was on the evil viaduct that goes over I-25 to the race finish.  Its a nice long hill.  I did walk the steep section but made myself run the less steep parts.  (I also ran up all of the other hills on the course - yay!).  Then it was to the finish line and I was done.

Hardly any training and I match my Denver RnR half marathon time almost exactly.  And this time, I felt good the whole time.  Legs felt good, feet felt good, shin splints weren't there, and my stomach was awesome.  It was amazing.

After the race, a bunch of us went to a bar and grill for a birthday party.  I had a 32-oz margarita and a burger.  And then I didn't eat dinner because I was so full.  But I did get in another ice bath so at least I did on thing right.  And today, I am barely sore.  I have some very tiny bits of soreness but overall, I feel like I could run or ride if I needed to.  But I don't because this is my recovery week (which really means I have 4 easy days before the intensity kicks in again). 

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how quickly my legs and endurance are coming back.  It makes me pretty hopeful for a good performance at Boise.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Making the treadmill fun

I know... I can't believe I put those 2 words in the same sentence.  Treadmill = Dreadmill!

Yesterday I had to do a track speed workout.  However by the time I was done with work, the sky was black and friends were reporting hail on facebook.  I also heard something about a tornado over by the airport.  Not exactly great track weather, so I decided to go to the gym and do the treadmill.  (sad fact: I now have 4 different places where I can run on the treadmill. I honestly don't know what this says about me).

I normally change at work and then head to the track to run.  Last night, since I was going to the gym, I didn't change at work.  As I was driving to the gym, all sorts of thoughts went through my head.  Damn, it doesn't look stormy out - I should be running on the track.  But I don't have my running clothes on.  I hate running on the treadmill, I'm crabby and should just go home. Even if I ran on the track, I'd be blown all over the place by the wind, so I'd be miserable there too.  I'd be happier on the couch.  Sad, sorry, pathetic thoughts.  I sucked it up and went to the gym.

I just joined LifeTime, so I thought I'd give their fancy new treadmills a go.  There is literally a SEA of treadmills and cardio equipment - craziness!  I grabbed one at the end towards the front so I could maybe watch tv if I so chose.  I was surrounded by a bunch of walkers.  And there was literally no air movement.  Who sets up a cardio floor and doesn't have fans going?  Blech, not looking good so far.

My track workout was this:
1 mile warm up
8 x 400 alternate Zone 4 HR and easy
1 x 800 Zone 4 HR
1 x 400 easy
1 x 400 HARD
1 x 400 cool down

This will usually take 1 hour and is about 5 miles.  To adapt this to the treadmill, I strapped my Garmin to the front hand grip (so I could see my HR) and made the 400/800s 0.25 and 0.50 miles.  I started the warm up and after 1 mile I was sweating.  Ok.  I knocked out the first 4 hard 1/4 miles pretty easily.  I walked most of the recovery sets, and also had to drink water and towel off because it was so warm.  (I was also thinking, damn, I could have used this for IMTX... all my track workouts were with tights and a jacket.).  I felt good enough where I decided to add the 1/2 mile with increasing speed through the effort.  My HR was a tad over Z4 but it felt good to go fast.  For my final 1/4 mile, I decided to crank the speed and hang on. It felt GOOD.  I finished with exactly 5 miles and 1 hour.  With the intervals, the time flew by.  There were still times I was staring at the display, ticking off 1/10ths of a mile, but it was more from "how much longer before I die" than "omg, how much longer before I die of boredom".  I still prefer the track, but this wasn't so awful.

As a bonus, the people watching was interesting.  Of course, I'm pretty sure I was providing the entertainment to everyone around me, with my pounding and breathing for a few minutes and then walking for a few more minutes.  And dripping sweat.  Seriously, it was hot in there.  The chicky next to me was one of those typical "fitness" treadmill runners.  She had the speed set to a respectable pace but every few mintues, she'd put her feet on the side boards to take a drink and towel off.  I guess she wasn't capable of drinking and running at the same time?  This always irks me because even though you aren't running, the treadmill THINKS you are and is still logging distance.  In short, its cheating.

I came home feeling happy and accomplished.  For once, the treadmill was fun. I may have to add this in as a workout more often, just for the sake of doing something different.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gear I Use - The Stick

I thought it would be fun to chronicle training tools / gear / stuff that I use on a frequent basis or that I really love.  Today's gear is The Stick.

The one I have is about 20 inches long.  The handles are grippy and the middle is made of some sort of slightly flexible plastic core with white "marshmallow" segments that move freely around the core.  You use this thing as a self massage tool. 

I like to roll my legs out while watching tv, usually my quads and calves, the night after a hard workout.  Hamstrings and glutes are harder to get to - I usually lay face down on the bed and had Will roll those out.  You start with about 20 initial easy pressure rolls along the entire muscle group and then you can really get to work.  What I really like about this torture device is that you can really feel where knots are, pinpoint them, work on them, then roll the whole muscle out.  Your control is much more exact - you control the pressure and location.  This sucker is similar to a foam roller, but is so much better (and easier to use).

Lately my calves have been bothering me because they are crazy tight.  I have one knot in each of my upper calves that I call my "little friend".  I'm trying to roll my calves out ~4 x a week (honestly, its whenever I remember to do it) in hopes that my calves loosen up and I won't have to get Graston done to them.

The other nice thing about the stick is that its fairly small.  Foam rollers are kind-of big and in the way... and ugly.  The Stick is really small and hides easily.  I hide it under the coffee table or under my nightstand.  And it fits in a carry-on suitcase! Try doing that with your foam roller!

The price is ~$25, depending on where you buy it from.  I really love this thing and I feel that it makes a huge difference in getting my quads to recovery quickly after a hard workout.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Big Weekend

I was joking during my ride on Saturday that this was my "walking on Sunday night is optional" weekend.  Turns out, I really wasn't joking.  Yowzers.

Friday I did my Masters swim workout in the morning, which was 3,000 meters.  I am on swim team #4 since moving here, and so far so good.  However, its only been 2 weeks.  The workouts are pretty good, though.  I joined LifeTime fitness.  The pool is an appropriate temperature (81, but it doesn't feel that warm) which is nice.  Meters pool, which is ok.  But the lanes are about 6-8 inches narrower than they should be.  That makes group swimming a bit more of a contact sport than I'd prefer.  Thank goodness for that crazy IMTX swim - now contact doesn't bother me anymore.  Workouts seem pretty varied, which is good.  Friday was 10 x 200s, which with my previous team would have been all freestyle (zzzzz).  This set was varied, with some pacing, kicking, pulling, and IM.  Not zzzz.  Cool!

Friday after work was fun because I got my new Team SunRype kit!  Last year, I was a bit bummed with the Sony kit, it was soooo monochromatic, all black, grey, and white.  And the shorts were awful - tons of seams and none of them were flat.  I'd get chafing marks from a 5K!  The SunRype kit is much, much better.  Flatlocked seams (yay!) and this sucker is colorful.  Will also approves, because it is primarily Broncos colors.  Ugh.  The bonus: it coordinates really well with my obnoxious new Newton Motus shoes.
After much messing around with my new kit (read: procrastinating) I put on plain boring running clothes (but kept the shoes on) and hit the trail for a 1 hr run.  This run sucked.  It was crazy windy out, to the point where I almost had to point myself sideways to maintain forward motion.  It also sucked because it was just plain hard to run.  The legs just weren't feeling it.  But I got it done.

Saturday called for a long brick - 2.5 hr ride and a 1 hr run.  Wa-hoo!  I did the ride with my tri club and we took the hilly way around town.  Three (?) weeks ago when I did this route, I honestly thought I was going to die going up the hills.  My heart rate was in the high 170's and I was hurting.  This was also my first ride of the season outside.  Happily, this ride was much better!  HR never got above the low 160's and I felt like I could climb easier.  Woo-hoo!  I didn't do the full loop because of my 2.5 hour limit, so a few of us broke off and rode the trails back to the Rec Center.   I immedately stripped my warm layers off in the parking lot (I got a lot of looks from the soccer moms) and took off for my run.  In my fancy orange shoes.  This run felt FANTASTIC.  Funny how maybe all I needed was a bike ride to warm up my running legs.  I kept with my nutrition plan from my long run a few weeks ago: 1 sip of a Liquid Shot ever 2 miles, sip of water ever 1 mile.  My stomach was a bit crampy after the Liquid Shot, so I adjusted my pace slower for a minute or two following the nutrition and that really seemed to help.  I managed to throw down 5.5 miles in 1 hour, which is my fastest run this season.  Woo-hoo!

Then the rest of the day was an ice bath, a nap, and some chinese delivery.  I am a bundle of excitement.

Sunday called for a long ride - 60 miles.  It wasn't going to be very windy and for some reason, I decided that it was a good day for Palmer Lake.  It is so pretty up there, but that 20 miles of rolling uphill climbing (2,000 ft in 20 miles) is hard.  I had ridden it a few times last spring and it kicked my ass, so I was interested in seeing where my fitness was this year.

I finally got out there by 8:45 AM and it was chilly.  I think the temps were inthe 30's.  Brr.  Not a happy camper, and I tried to store this feeling in my cons list for considering IMCDA next year.  The elevation increase starts from the very beginning of the ride and pretty much doesn't stop for a little over 20 miles.  Immediately, my legs were dead.  Like, there was nothing there at all.  Hmmm, this was going to make for a long 60 miles.  I always approach this sensation with my "30-minute" rule.  Give my legs 30 minutes or so to warm up and then evaluate things.  Thirty minutes went by and things weren't great but they were tolerable.  By mile 9 I had a full bladder so I stopped at a tree-lined ditch.  That seemd to help things and I was having an easier time riding.  By that point, I wasn't sure if I was going to be ready for the big hill, so I decided that maybe the way to go was to do two 15-mile out and backs to get to my 60 miles total.  At mile 11, the legs were cooperating and I was doing better.  By mile 14, I started recognizing things and realized the big hill was maybe a mile away.  Legs felt ok and I decided to suck it up and go for it.  I saw the hill and realized it really wasn't that bad.  Well, not that long anyways.  I went for it and I think I actually did a bit better than last year.  This hill is a bit deceiving, though.  Its not long, but its steep.  And it banks around a pretty sharp curve.  There's no shoulder and with the banking, it makes it a bit scary.  Once you start going up, you're committed!  And of course a big truck was behind me and honked at me.  I really don't know what the honking accomplishes.  If there was a shoulder or bike lane, don't you think I'd be riding in it?

I rode up towards Palmer Lake, but finally at mile 22 I was done.  I'm pretty sure I was at the last major hill but I was not feeling it anymore.  My legs needed a break after nearly 2 hours of uphill work.  So, I turned around without actually making it to town. 
I really have no idea why I can't manage to keep my helmet straight...
I really love this ride because you hug the foothills and even get up into the foothills a bit.  The whole area is ranch land and open.  So even though my legs weren't happy, I just focused on the pretty-ness and appreciated the fact that I was riding in Colorado and not Houston.
Definitely not Houston
The way back is mostly downhill, so you can cruise.  I had a hard time figuring out the winds.  When you were standing around, there were no winds.  When you were riding north, there were swirly winds.  I didn't remember feeling like I was riding into a headwind on the way up, but riding down, it felt mostly tailwind.  With some scary swirly crosswinds.  I was hauling at 30 mph in my aero bars when a gust came out of nowhere and made me wobble a foot sideways.  Freaked me out, as I had visions of going down with a broken collarbone and I had just purchased my $300 entry to Boise.  It was just going to be one of those descents... the kind where you don't get to enjoy it as much as you've earned the right to.

On the way up I noticed a herd of pretty rust-colored cows.  So on the way down, I stopped by to take their picture.  They were all lined up nicely against the fence and then a huge line of 15 motorcycles blew by and scared them away.  Sigh.
no amount of sweet talk could coerce them back to the fence.
The clouds were so neat that day!
In the middle section, there was a bit of a dip and climb.  I should have had about 42 miles round trip, which meant I had about an hour more of riding left on my schedule.  My hope was that about an hour of nice, easy downhill riding would recover my legs enough where I could ride that last hour and be ok.  This little bit of climbing was pretty awful and I decided that 3 hours and 42 miles was going to be it for the day.  And traffic going south-bound was picking up.  I'd been honked at a second time (again - no bike lane! not sure what honking will do!) and my mood overall was just not great.  Not sure what the deal was, but my legs were just not playing along.
I love this barn in the background but never made the time to stop and take a picture.
I think given how my legs felt from the begining, 3 hours is still pretty good.  I wish I hit 60 miles, but I've got 8 weeks to Boise and have at least 2 more 60 mile rides in my future.

That afternoon, we were getting our patio ready for a bbq.  Just walking up 3 steps while holding patio furniture killed my legs.  Walking upstairs was even worse.  My legs were JELLO.  Even with taking a super-cold ice bath.  It was almost funny how wasted they were.

I'm trying to evaluate my nutrition and see if maybe that didn't have something to do with it.  My legs actually felt fine Sunday morning.  No soreness from the previous day's effort.  It was like there was no gas in the tank.  Saturday I didn't have a recovery drink, which in hindsight, was a bad call.  I had an iced coffee, which has no nutritional content to it at all.  And then about an hour later I had 2 pieces of pizza.  Sunday morning I had a Coke Zero, an apple, and almond butter.  I ate basically the same thing on Saturday and felt fine, but maybe I needed a bit more in the tank for a consecutive hard training day.  Either way, it was a good reminder that I need to have a recovery drink ready in my truck.  Or get something a bit more nutritional at Starbucks.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

March 2012 Totals

I thought it would be amusing to start doing this again.  Also, it helps me to have this stuff summarized - easier to go back and look at it later on.

March 2012
Bike: 12h 19m - 174.87 Mi
Run: 6h 23m 12s - 33.02 Mi
Swim: 4h 35m - 12,361.68 Yd
Skiing: 13h 00m
Yoga: 1h 00m

Jan + Feb 2012
Bike: 8h 31m - 114.66Mi
Run: 1h 31m - 8 Mi
Swim: 12h 05m - 32,735.52 Yd
Strength: 3h 20m
Elliptical Training: 40m
Skiing: 22h 00m
Yoga: 0h

And really, March's training was only 3 weeks worth of stuff.  So, not too shabby!  I would expect that April's stats double or at least significantly increase.  Especially the run.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


And Boise training continues.....  Last Saturday called for a medium brick, so I headed out to Aurora Rez and did a good chunk of the Harvest Moon HIM course.  The Boise course is hilly, so I figure if I alternate between Harvest Moon and riding up Crowfoot (a street with a big ass hill near my house) a bunch, I will be set.  No nightmares of walking up hills for me this year! 

Full disclosure - the RDs put that dang aid station smack in the middle of the uphill AGAIN this year.  I need to do a hand-up for water this time.  If I stop, I will end up walking up that stupid hill... again.  Dumbest spot for an aid station ever!

I met with a fellow tri dork who was also riding the course.  Only he is crazy fast.  I kept telling him that I was fine riding solo and that he should go ride his own ride.  But then he hung with me the whole time.  I'm not sure I should be annoyed or flattered.

It was only mildly windy and super sunny.  I was in shorts (yay!), a tank top, and a jacket.  We left at 8 AM and I had to ride 2.5 hours, so just shy of 40 miles.  At the turn around, I was dying and took off the jacket.  Sleeveless on the last day of March.... craziness.
Not the most scenic, but hey, its close to the house.
The ride was pretty uneventful.  I did have an interesting slip and slide adventure.  I found a large (several feet) pothole that was filled in with sand/dirt/asphalt chunks.  It looked solid before I rode through it.  Nope, it was like riding in sand.  A bit scary, but fortunately I had good balance and cruised through it.  Also had one big truck honk at me for riding in the road.  When the shoulder/"bike lane" in 6 wide and full of sand and debris, I'm sorry, I'm going to ride in the road.  Hey, at least he didn't throw anything at me. 
I felt ok going up the hills.  A bit wussy (probably just comparing myself to the other guy who smoked me) but I stayed in my big ring and somehow, my heart rate stayed below 160.  Interesting.  I'm used to dying as I climb....
zoomed in a bit to show the hills.  They looked more impressive in real life.  Having my
garmin map would be handy too... if only I could find the USB connector thingy
to download my data....
The one good thing about riding out here is that you can ride into the Rez (for free) and use their bathroom facilities.  Woot!

After riding 38 miles, I took off to go run in the heat.  Ugh.  I had 20-40 min of running on my schedule.  And of course, it was hilly.  Boo.  I took off on the dirt path next to the road leading into the Rez and after (no kidding) 3 minutes I had to stop and walk.  Crapola.  I kept pushing onward and did ok until the dirt path turned into weeds and large cracks in the dirt, resulting in ~1 mintute or so of walking.  Fortunately this was at the turn around point (I compromised and told myself to run 3 miles).  Then I pushed myself to run the whole way back, including up some hills.  Holy schmoley, it felt hot.  Sadly, it was maybe 75 degrees.
wow, those are some pasty white arms
Today was a test of my new nutrition regime.  I brought 2.5 hrs worth of fluid of Grape EFS for the bike (40 oz Profile bottle and an 8 oz running bottle).  Sadly, I still had about ~1/4 of my profile bottle left by the time I finshed.  FAIL.  For the run, I had some leftover Liquid Shot from the previous weekend (I froze it so it wouldn't spoil).  I mixed it with water (equal amount LS and water) so I could sip it frequently and not have to also carry water.  Not sure my stomach liked this plan as the side cramps started up mid-way through my run.  Bummer.  I may be stuck with taking in nutrition every 2 miles and carring extra water with me.  I will experiment and see.

Afterwards I was TOASTY and hungry and headed over to Jamba Juice.  I freaking love Jamba Juice.  The home for a shower, ice bath, nap, and quality time with Gunny on the couch.