Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Planning out 2010

Wow, the end of the season is almost here for me. It's a little later than usual, but it's almost over. I'm trying to plan out my 2010 season. Mark my words, it will end much earlier next year than it did this year! My spring semester in school will be a crazy one. I have 6 classes I am enrolled in. Plus I will be working weekends and volunteering in the gait analysis research lab. That means my spring racing schedule will be an easy one. The races will be on the short side. My summer clinical dates are June 7th-July 30th. So far this is what I am thinking about:

3x2 mile Trail Relay

March (all weather permitting)
Xterra Trail 5k - Syosset
Xterra Trail 5k - Bethpage

Xterra Trail 5k - Stony Brook

LI Festival of Races 10k

Great South Bay Tri

Montauk Open Water Swim Race
Montauk Sprint Triathlon

Amagansett Open Water Swim Race
West Point Triathlon (unless Wingman wants to go back to NH for the Timberman Sprint)

Patriot's Half Williamsburg, VA
Warrior Dash

Entenmann's 10k
Run for the Ridley (if it does not conflict with the new Army 10 Miler date)
Army 10 Miler

Blazing Trails 4 Autism (the race shirt is a hooded sweatshirt!!)
HoHoHo Holiday run?
Just keep it fun with easy races

I am still thinking about an Olympic distance tri for the end of July or August. Just haven't found it yet. Wingman and I plan on doing some riding with Wynn this summer as he prepares for his big race in September. I also need to commit to starting my swim training much earlier and be diligent about going. Lots to do and so little time.................

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday morning run

OK, first let me get this out of the way:

"I am a horrible person. I made the Wingman get up super early on his day
off two days in a row. And I did not make him a 'trial' birthday cake."

Now we got that out of the way, let's get onto the reason we got up early. We went down to Hecksher Park to do the "GLIRC December Trail Run." Wynn and Teresa had been asking me if I was going down. I was nervous about it because it would mean possibly losing study time. But I got in a lot of good studying on Saturday and Wingman helped me out Friday by being a patient for my ortho practical so I felt like I could take a few hours away from school work to run. Teresa was kind enough to offer to run with me as I plodded along.

The run was a point to point run from Hecksher Park to Vets Highway along the greenbelt trail. Wingman and I got to the park at the perfect time. The park guy was unlocking the bathrooms. Whoo hoo. What can I say, I enjoy the simple pleasures. I did a short warmup run and then went back to the parking field to meet up with Wynn and Teresa for the start. I wished Wingman luck on his run and off we went.

The first part of the run is through the park on the roads and then onto the trails. Thank goodness we had people to follow because we never would have found our way. The path to the trail was not easy to find if you are alone. Plus, once you are on it, good luck staying on it. When you have to cross some roadways, it's not easy to spot the next entrance. The funniest crossing is the one across Sunrise Highway. Holy cow, you have to run along the river on a narrow path and then cross under a bridge on steel grating while in a half squat. As you get closer to the end of this you have to squat deeper to get under a pipe. I told Teresa this was excellent preparation for the Warrior Dash that we are doing next September. We made our way into Connetquot Park and I kept saying "I think we're almost there." Not quite. I forget how long after we got into the park that Wynn came back to find us. He ran with us a bit, but we asked him to go ahead and get a ride back to Hecksher and come back and pick us up.

When we finally got close to the highway, you would have thought I had been wandering around in the desert. I was pointing wildly saying "Look, I can see cars. Over there - cars!!!" Wingman came out shortly after us. He found himself a running partner. I was thrilled that he had someone to run with. She was 70 years old and the finisher of 60 marathon/ultramarathons. She recently won her age group at the Marine Corp Marathon. Here's the best part - she only started running when she was 51!!! Amazing.

We all piled into a minivan to get a ride back to our cars. The driver was a little scary. The u-turn was almost on two wheels. Zoinks!! Obviously since I am sitting here writing this you know we made it back in one piece. We changed clothes and went on to the most important part of the run - the post run breakfast! The four of us went over to a diner and enjoyed a great breakfast. We chatted some more and later on Jen stopped by to join us.

It started raining while we were inside so we were lucky with the weather. It held out just long enough. A huge thanks to Wynn, Teresa and Jen for getting us out to run. And a bigger thanks to Teresa for running with me and helping to pass the time. We'll have to get out and run again soon.

And just in case you forgot:

"I am a horrible person. I made the Wingman get up super early on his day
off two days in a row. And I did not make him a 'trial' birthday cake."

I hope he has forgiven me by now. Don't tell him, but we have to get up early next Saturday for a 5K race.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I didn't fail.....

I merely deferred success.

So I went down to Blue Point for the 5K Turkey Trot. The goodie bag was neat. The race is for a dental charity so in the bag was a toothbrush, a big tube of Crest ProHealth toothpaste, and candy. I guess the dentist is trying to ensure business. It was quite a turnout. ~800 people came down for the race. I like the turkey day races because it gives me the illusion that I worked out and don't feel guilty about having some pumpkin pie for dessert.

Even before getting to the starting line, I knew it would not be a PR day. The weather was perfect, but I just felt really stiff in the hips from the half marathon. So I figured I would just go out there and enjoy the run. When the gun went off, it was hard to get through the crowd. I stepped on a few feet and apologized a million times. Finally I got into some clear space. The course is nice and flat so no hills to worry about. It seemed to take forever to get to the one mile marker. I wore my Garmin so I could watch my pace. I was still hoping to put together a good race so pacing would be important. In the first mile I was all over the place (or the Garmin was flaking out). I was anywhere from 8:35-9:55 min/mile. That's a pretty wide swing and I'm not sure I was that varied in my pace. So I tried to settle in at 9:40. By the time I got to the first mile marker, I was on my pace. Phew.

After that I just ran and didn't look at the watch. I knew I was slowing down but I was trying to focus on enjoying the run. For the last few runs I've been on, I really haven't enjoyed running. I'm in a funk and I'm trying to break out of it. So I decided after that 1st mile, I was going to forget a PR attempt, and just run. The rest of the race was uneventful for me. I made it to the finish. No PR this time around but I hope that perhaps I have renewed my running focus. My next scheduled race is the HoHoHo Holiday run in December.

But the big excitement of the day was Wingman coming home from Florida. He's been gone for ~ a week and a half. Before he left we talked about cycling over the winter and what workouts we can do. So, when I went to the bike shop last week while he was away, I picked up this for him.

When we got home from the airport we went down to the basement where his new ride was waiting. He was excited to see it. I figured we would head out this weekend to go for a ride. But he surprised me by asking if I wanted to go for a ride now. Sure!! We changed, packed the bikes in the Element and went over to one of the trails. The loop we rode was 8.5 miles. It was so much fun to get out there together. About half way through we made a quick stop and I could see the smile on his face. He was enjoying the ride. We resumed the ride and made our way back out. The last mile was rough. I was pooped out and ready to rest. Wingman really enjoyed the ride. He confessed that when we made the rest stop, he was briefly flirting with the idea of a 2nd loop. Yikes!! I've created a monster!

We spent Thanksgiving with my family and had a great time. My cousin's wife and I defended our "Taboo" victory for the last 2 years. I believe we are now the 3x defending champions. People try to take us down, but they just can't match our intensity. Every year the other team's shuffle the players to find the right combo, but so far no one has really threatened our dynamic duo or as we call ourselves "Team S&M" (get your minds out of the gutter, it's our initials.....)
We're thinking about wearing these next year when we come back to defend our titles:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Clubber Lang says it best

And that ladies and gentlemen, sums up my race today in Philly in a nutshell. I actually sat in my car Saturday morning and debated not going. Wingman is down in Florida and I would be going solo to Philly. I haven't been feeling all that well over the last ~2 months since I got my first cold the end of September. It seems like every run I've been on the last few weeks have been a chore. Do I really want to drive over 3 hours and feel like crap to run? I just figured it might motivate me to get the mileage in.

So fast forward to 5am this morning. The alarm goes off and I attempt to get out of bed. I wasn't feeling so hot and sat on the edge of the bed contemplating sitting this one out. No way. I didn't drive all the way to not do this race. So I got ready and started the walk down to the race. It was a little cold out this morning but nothing like last year. This year I wore a long sleeve running short with shorts. Last year I had to wear a jacket, gloves, and tights.
The gun went off and I started out. I wore my garmin GPS so I could keep track of my pace. My goal here was to get the mileage in. I had no time goal in mind. I found a nice rhythm early and tried to keep my pace in check. Right around mile 2 was a downhill section and I let it rip. In my head I was thinking ahead in the race to the cobblestone portion. I mean, who plans a marathon/half marathon course and has a street in there that is cobblestone? But my head/stomach brought me back the present. I was starting to taste the shot blocks I ate at the race start. I was also running behind this guy in a 'custom' shirt. It said "Jesus ran my race for me. This is just the victory lap." Huh? I tried to focus on anything other than my stomach. Nothing doing. I finally saw a port-a-john and made a pit stop.

I came out and there was an aid station. Grabbed some water and gatorade and continued on. Mile 4-8 were a blur for me. I just remember hoping that a lightening bolt would come down out of the sky and take me out. I actually debated bailing on the race and going back to my hotel. I wasn't too far from it. But I wasn't sure I could pull the plug on this one. I didn't think I could live with myself it I had a DNF. I mean, if I really had a medical issue I would certainly drop out and not lose sleep over it. But today I knew if I quit, it would eat away at me for a long time. I am not sure I could get to the marathon with the DNF cloud over my head. Every training run would remind me that I was a failure. So I had to dig down deep and do some serious HTFU!! For pete's sake, I was wearing my HTFU visor. Gotta live up to the words on my visor.

So by mile 8 I tried to pull it together. I was giving myself a pep talk. In my head, not out loud. Don't want people to think I am totally nuts. I got to mile 10 and thought, hey, only 3 more to go! Ugh, only 3 more to go. The good news is once you get into the park after the uphill at mile 9, the rest is downhill and flat. I kept plodding along, just wanted to keep my feet moving.

The race organizers changed the course up a little this year. The finish area is waaaaay too confusing. You have to run through a traffic circle and then down to the finish line (which is basically the starting line). Problem is, you have to follow signs because the marathon runners continue on course via the inner lane and the half marathon goes through the outer lane. Last year it was the opposite. Some marathon folks were darting in and out of the human traffic. I just wanted to get to the finish line safely. My time was ~3 minutes faster than last year. I think if I felt better during the race I could have shaved off ~6- minutes from last year, but it was not meant to be. The race shirt last year was cool. It was a long sleeve black dri-fit jersey that said "Kicked Asphalt". This year was lame - burgundy long sleeve dri-fit that said "Running Means..." Wow, what brainchild came up with that?

Once I crossed the line I got my medal and some food. I was feeling much better at this point but I was glad to not have to run anymore. I skipped the mylar blanket because I did not want to walk back to the hotel wearing it. I made the 1 mile walk of shame back to the hotel. I really didn't want to admit to people anything about this race. I had to ride the elevator with some woman from an english teacher's conference at the hotel. I was so dejected from my performance and now I was forced to relive it again. All I could think was "why didn't I take off my race number at the finish line?"

I got back to my room and just fell flat, face down on the bed. I was thinking about how I wanted to take a shower but couldn't muster the energy to get up. I called and left a message for Wingman. I did some easy range of motion on my legs so they would not tighten up on me. Took my shower, finished packing my bags and got the hell out of dodge!!

I made really good time coming home. There was no traffic on the roads. I actually got back in time to make a brief appearance at my cousin's baby shower. Almost makes it sound like I lead a busy life ;-)

When I get my pictures transferred, I will write up my visit to the Reading Terminal Market. Saw some scary things over there. I'll leave you with two words.....Turkey Scrapple.

Friday, November 20, 2009

How does he do that?

I think Wingman is a witch. I mean no offense, but sometimes he can do some weird things. Yesterday I went to the bike shop to pick up my order of Shot Blocks. They called Tuesday and I told them I would be down Thursday afternoon. I didn't mention it to the Wingman. Now a trip to the bike shop for me can be dangerous. I get all caught up in the bikes, wheels, clothing, etc and sometimes have trouble getting out of there unscathed. So before I went in yesterday, I sat in the car and had my usual pep talk. "You can do this. Just walk in, keep your head down, pay for the shot blocks, and get out. Ice water running through your veins. You can do this. Be strong." I went in and stuck to the plan. Well, sort of. Darren asked if I got the email with the sale items. I could feel my legs getting weak. Sweat beads forming on my brow. We start to discuss Zipp 808 wheels. Mmmmm, new wheels. Be strong, be strong. Then, my phone rang. It was the Wingman calling from Florida. How the heck did he know that I was looking at an expensive item that I didn't need right now?

Tonight, I went to Target to buy new pillows. I am like Conan the Destroyer when it comes to pillows. They don't last long for me. After I picked two out, I walked around the rest of the store. I was over in electronics playing with a Garmin GPS unit. Mind you I don't need a GPS unit, but it was a nice toy. As I went through the various screens, my phone rang. It was the Wingman again. How the heck did he know? How does he know that I am looking at toys that I don't need! He must be some kind of witch. Maybe he has a spy? Hmmm......

Sunday, November 15, 2009

One week to Philly

Just got back from the airport. Dropped the Wingman off for his flight. He sent me a text message that his flight is delayed and he has the added bonus of a screaming child on his flight. I am soooooo jealous. NOT. I told him it could be worse. This could be his screaming child. Oh boy, you know John Lennon had to be under the influence of drugs when he was with her.

Last night we went to the Devils game in New Jersey. The old stadium was so easy to get to. It was right off the turnpike. Now, it's not as simple. And to make matters worse, it was raining and drivers tend to get stupid when it rains. This usually brings out my "vehicular induced Tourettes". We made it there ~14 minutes before face-off. Grabbed a bite to eat and made our way down to our seats. While all this was going on, I was mid-text with Wynn about running with his crew on Sunday morning. Turns out they were running the hills of Port Jeff and I wasn't ready for those hills. Since I am not doing a taper before Philly, I don't want to add hills to my long run to fatigue me even more. I expressed my disdain to Wynn about the idiot sitting next to me (not the Wingman). This guy was carrying on with the guy behind me about his hockey knowledge. Please, get a room you two. It was so bad that I told the Wingman we had to move after the 1st period or I was going to hit this guy. Wynn suggested that I take photos of myself in cuffs for the blog. Sorry, Wynn, no pics to post. We found two seats two rows down and sat there in peace. Devils played a great game. They won 5-2.

So next Sunday is the Philly half marathon. I'm using it as a training run so basically that means I have no expectations of finishing times, just finishing 'fast'. Again, if you know me and how I run, fast is a term that is used loosely. Wingman will not be making the race as he is out of town, so I will be going solo. Weather right now is ~60 degrees and possible showers. It'll be a little warm, but I'm hoping that at 8a, it's comfortable. When I did the race last year, it was freezing. By mile 10 the aid stations iced over and I had to jump up onto the grass to get through it. This year I'll be in shorts and a t-shirt compared to running tights, under armour top, cycling vest, and a beanie hat last year.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New toy on the way

The other night I ran through the parking garage at school to get to my car. The temperature was cool and comfortable. I felt really good running. I swear I was this close to going "Forrest Gump" and just go running. Problem was it was dark and I wouldn't be able to see well and cars may not see me. Now that it is getting darker earlier, it really doesn't bode well for running outdoors. Where I live, street lights are rare. It's pitch black out here. I dread having to run on the treadmill for most of my weekday runs. So I combed the web and bought one of these:
So now I am ready to run outdoors when I get home. It's a Petzl Tikka XP 60 lumen light that has an adjustable lens so you can use it as a spot light or an area light, depending on your needs. I'll be more visible to the cars around me as well. And when I am not running, I can go find a coal mine and go mining ;-) It should be in early this week so I'll get to use it right away!

On tap tomorrow is a 13 mile run. I might channel my inner Forrest Gump and just go out and run 13 miles out and have Wingman pick me up. We'll see what happens in the morning when I wake up. I'm not sure what is on his running schedule for tomorrow.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ridley 5k

Today was my 8th running of the "Run for the Ridley 5k" in Riverhead. It's a great organization that rescues sea turtles on Long Island. I've done this race every year since 2002. It's great because it starts a little later in the morning (10a) and it's nice and flat. A nice course for me to try and get a PR since I know it like the back of my hand.

I was a little nervous coming into this race because after my run on Tuesday I came right home, stretched, and then sat in a recliner for a few hours studying for exams. When I finally got up, my left hamstring was a little sore. I really noticed it the next day. Everytime I extend my knee and flex my hip (lengthen the HS), I could feel it pull a little. I wasn't too worried about running because I never duplicate that motion when I run. Only when I walk. I ran yesterday and it did not bother my while I ran. When I got home I sat on an ice pack and then got a massage later. Holy cow, I nearly cried. My left glutes did not want to be touched. But I told her to work it out and that I would keep the sobbing to a minimum. Got home and iced again. It sucks getting old.

When I woke up this morning, I felt good. We drove down to the race and started to walk to registration. Wingman was walking a little faster than I was and when I tried to keep up (bigger step required here) I could feel the HS. I prayed to the hamstring gods to let me get through this race without any issues. We picked up our race numbers and timing chips and made our way to the race start. After a very light warmup, I felt OK. I assumed my spot on Main Street for the start and begged one more time for some cooperation from the HS.

The gun went off and I started running. With each step of my left leg, my HS reminded me who was boss. I didn't want to listen and it turned into a heavyweight battle. I could hear the fight announcer in my head "Ladies and Gentlemen, in this corner, hailing from the Ischial tuberosity and fibular head - Biiiiiiiiceeeep Femmmoooorrris!!!! And this this corner, hailing from Long Island New York, The Hero of the Stupid!!!! (that would be me). Let's get ready to rumble!!" Finally after a few minutes I was able to deliver the knockout blow and the HS cooperated from that point on.

I made my way down Main Street like I was shot out of a cannon. I knew I could not hold that pace for too long and quickly settled into a running pace that felt easier to maintain. For some reason I did not bother looking for my Tony in this race. But I knew I wanted to stay ahead of the double wide jogging stroller with the two kids inside. If I could not beat them, I was going to toss my sneakers into the river and never run again. The weather was warm and pretty humid out. I wore a short sleeve running shirt and shorts, but I started to get hot very quickly. It was windy but it did nothing to cool me off. I just decided to keep my focus on the PR. When I got to the 1 mile marker I looked at my split time and realized that I went out too fast and was going to give a lot of time back between miles 2 and 3. Doesn't look good for a PR today. I made my way down to the first small circle to turn around. This is the first good place where you can see who is behind you and roughly how far behind they are. I was able to see Wingman and we flashed our "gang sign" to each other. He was looking pretty good.

I made my way back up the road and then turned down to run towards 105. They have an aid station setup for water. I've never used it in the past, but today I had no choice. I grabbed a cup and poured it down the back of my neck. I needed to try and cool off. I made my way to the 2nd turn around and was able to get another look at Wingman. Once again, a flashing of the "gang sign" was exchanged and I was feeling bad at this point. Got to mile 2 and I was ~20 seconds slower per mile. Definitely not going to PR today. I calculated what I needed to do the last 1.1 miles in and I knew it was not possible. I did try to dig deep though in the last 1/2 mile. I passed Pipi Longstockings and turned back onto Main Street.

I did run pretty hard down Main Street and made the turn towards the finishing shoot. No way I could sprint here. I didn't want to upset the HS since I beat it into submission earlier. I finished the race about 55 seconds slower than my PR. Oh well, I have two more 5k's this fall/winter in which to go for it. I think it's possible this year.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blue Point Brewery "5k" Beatdown

This morning I met up with some classmates to do the Blue Point Brewery "5k" race. It was easy to convince them to come out since the race ends at the brewery and there is free beer involved. Overall, there were 7 of us down there (classmates, not total racers). It was a little chilly, but I knew once we got going it would be OK. While chatting with my friends, I looked around for my Tony. Originally it was going to be this woman that had patella tendon wraps on both knees with kinesio tape on both pes anserine as well. At first I wondered if I was setting my sights too low that she might be an easy mark. But I left it at that and waited for the start.

When the gun went off, I took off (way too fast of course) down the road. 'Tony' was left in the dust. Wow, that was easy. I thought she might hang with me for a while. I followed the crowd as we made our way down River Ave. My music was going and I settled in to a nice pace. I didn't wear the Garmin for the race, I just wore my watch. This would later come back to haunt me. I wore a lighter pair of running shoes and I was feeling good. The course is nice and flat so I'm thinking about the possibility of a 5k PR today.

I get about a mile in and turn to find 'Tony' is not in sight. My work was done early. But up ahead I see a new one. She was dressed in pink and I was gaining on her. I could smell the blood in the water now! I make my way closer without really changing my pace. As I pull up along side her, she maybe comes up just past my waist. I ask her how old she is and she tells me she's 7. On the outside I put on a smile and cheer her on, but on the inside all I can think about is crushing the hopes and dreams of a 7 year old. What can I say, I'm competitive. I want to retain what little dignity I have left!

She has an interesting strategy. She runs hard and then walks. I always encourage her as I pass her walking or when she runs past me. On the inside I'm saying stuff like "you're going down little girl!" I was concerned that her run/walk may keep her ahead of me at the end. But I noticed something odd. Around 18 minutes in, I see a bunch of people from the race walking ahead of me. How on earth did they get ahead of me at that pace? There was even a guy being pushed in a wheelchair ahead of me. I'm slow, but not that slow! What's going on here?

I keep plugging away and figured as walkers they had a shorter course to follow. Or did they? I kept my focus on "pretty in pink" as I did not want to let her get too far away. I looked down at my watch again and it said 28:13. Hmm, where's the finish line? I have no concept of where I am on this course. There are people still around me so I know I am in the right place, but I should be on the street that we started on by now. At this point I have no idea how much more running I have to do or how much I have really done. There was no one out there giving splits. The good news is my new little Tony is slowing down. When I pass over a bridge she's walking and looking tired. The long race is getting to her. I am now energized and getting my second wind. I left her in the dust. The beatdown is complete. King Kong ain't got nothing on me!

We finally make it back onto River Ave and I look at my watch. I know the course was long at this point but I have no idea. As I sprint towards the finish, I see a racer on the side of the road with a Garmin. I ask him the mileage and he says the course was 4.1 miles. What?!?! That's 6.6k, not 5k. I cross the finish line a stop my watch. Looks like I smoked the course and when I average out the distance, I set a 4 mile PR, not the 5k I was hoping for. I found another runner with a Garmin and they also have the same mileage. I found out the lead police car didn't stay on course like he should have and wound up adding a mile to the race. They caught it in time for the walkers to stay on course. That is how they got ahead of the runners.

During my cooldown I could see the little girl flying towards the finish. I'm glad I passed her earlier because there is no way I could even come close to her furious finish. She had flames coming out of her shoes! I was going to talk to the race people about testing her for PED's. I gave her a high 5 and told her she ran great. Honestly, she looked great out there. She had such nice form when she was running.

Next up is the Ridley 5k in Riverhead. I know that course will be accurate. If anyone is up for a fun race, they should come down and check it out.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mission accomplished - HOOAH

Today was our 2nd running of the Army 10 miler. We did this race last year and enjoyed it so much we decided to go back this year and run it again. When else can you run through the streets of Washington DC with up to 30,000 other runners. Last year we were not in as good running shape as we were this year. I remember our conversation vividly from the race expo a year ago. Wingman's training for this race consisted of a 10k race in June. That was it. He didn't get any other running in so he decided to just show up and race. When we got there he was a little worried about his running shoes feeling a little small. He toyed with the idea of getting a new pair at the expo and what came out of his mouth next shocked me:

Wingman: "I'd get a new pair of sneakers for the race, but it wouldn't be a good idea to do something new the day of a race."
Me: "Are you kidding me?! You haven't run at all since June, and you are worried about doing something new on race morning?"

Fast forward to this year, and we are trained and ready to go!

Our day began at 5am. I got up, ate my sandwich, took a shower, waited for Wingman to shower and then we were on our way to the Metro. We stayed at the same hotel as last year and it is two stops from the race start/finish - the Pentagon. The Army really does a great job with this race. This year we were in the first wave. So we headed up to the highway to wait. It was a little chilly so I had a long sleeve shirt on over my race shirt. Before the singing of the anthem, 4 Army parachuters jumped from a plane and landed on the highway near the race start. The jumps were amazing to watch. Then came the singing of the anthem. I swear you could hear a pin drop it was so quiet. In the distance you could see what was coming in the sky.

The Army does a fly over with 4 Blackhawk helicopters. They flew so low right over our heads What an awesome site. My only gripe is you can't have cell phones or cameras at the race. Due to the location of the start (Pentagon) they don't allow photos or videos in the area.

Prior to the first wave is the Wounded Soldier start. Since we were way back, we didn't see them start. 5 minutes later you could hear the big Army cannons fire signaling the start of the race. My goal was to run the first few miles at an easy pace. I had a goal in mind for the race that was 12 minutes faster than last year. I was wearing my Garmin so I could keep an eye on how I was doing. I quickly realized that my pace felt waaaaay to slow. I couldn't hold it so I picked it up by 30 seconds. It still felt nice and easy and not like I was going to pay for it later.

Mile 1
The first mile of the race is down highway 27 from the Pentagon along the Potomac towards the Lincoln memorial. You cross the bridge (over the Potomac) and make your way towards Lincoln. I swear, spectators can be so stupid. I saw a woman pickup her stroller and run across the road to get to the other side. Problem here was she ran right in front of me. Now when I am running, there is no way I can stop quickly or dart out of the way. I yelled at her as she barely got out of my way. If push came to shove, I would have had to tackle her and then explain to the Wingman how I ran over more children (at least this time I wasn't on a bicycle). I settled back into my pace and calmed myself down.

Mile 2
At this point you are running away from the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool. This area is nice a well shaded and you head around the Department of State and the Federal Reserve Building. This is where you come across the first hill in the race. It's not that bad of a hill, but since most of the race is flat, any incline becomes a hill. I took it easy going up and enjoyed the downhill on the other side. It was here that I was reminded that no matter how much I felt like I was hurting, there was a wounded Army soldier competing in this race and I had nothing to complain about. He had one working leg and was using lofstrand crutches to help him walk. He's a true badass in my book. It was also at this time that I started feeling like I needed a porto-john stop. I didn't want to stop at them because the lines looked long and I did not want to wait. I knew they would come up every two miles so I figured I would wait it out.

Mile 3
"I am not a crook." Here you get to pass the Watergate complex. I observed a moment of silence for my boy Richard Nixon. On Saturday, I walked the streets of Arlington with my "Nixon's My Man" shirt.

I am sure my mother is shaking her head in disapproval at me and convinced she took the wrong child home from the hospital. Once you pass Watergate, you come along the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and also run along the Potomac.

Mile 4
You wind back around into the heart of DC. Well, not really sure you can say the heart of DC since all politicians are heartless. Anyway, at this point the race takes you down Independence Ave. I picked up my pace a little as I was feeling pretty good. I made sure not to look at the time on the Garmin, just my pace. I did not want to get caught up in worrying about my time yet. I knew if I just kept my pace, things would just take care of themselves. Passed up on the porto-john again because of the lines. Oh man, am I going to make it?

Mile 5
I crossed the mile 5 time checkpoint and saw the first funny sign of the day. It said "Ben, Bacon at the end." And it had a big picture of bacon on it. At this point I am feeling really good about the race. I almost get a little cocky about it thinking maybe I could shave off more than 12 minutes. But I knew I was only halfway there and the last two miles can be rough. This stretch of the race takes you down Independence Way and there are lots of spectators around. Plus, the runners ahead of you are making their way back up the road towards the highway.

Mile 6
Here you make your way around the Capitol Building's reflecting pool. You get a nice view of the Capitol Building and if you listen very carefully, you can hear the sucking sound of your tax dollars being wasted. I picked up my pace here because I was getting a little ticked off at my government and wanted to get the heck out of there. My pace went through the roof and I had to be sure I reigned it in quickly. Now I am back onto Independence Ave heading back towards the highway. I also pass on the porto-john since the line still looked long. At this point I am a little nervous about what to do. I did start to dart across the road, but decided not to. I can wait.....I think.

Mile 7
It was here that I was almost stopped dead in my tracks. I saw a sign that said "There's no place like home." It was a sign thanking our troops. But with my Wizard of Oz reference in an earlier post, it was a little weird. Plus, about 10 feet away from the sign was a woman dressed like this:

I swear I started looking for flying monkeys at this point. Where's the Wizard? If I could have clicked my heels, I would have. But I think I am more like the scarecrow - if I only had a brain. Heck, I would have settled for a bigger bladder at this point.

Mile 8
Last water stop and last bathroom stop. Now I see there is no line so I dash between the tables and make my way in, take care of business, and head back out. Overall the stop probably cost me a minute. I looked down at my watch now and realized if I wanted to go under my goal time, I had to keep a certain pace. This was going to be difficult as the last two miles is up and down on the highway. Why oh why can't it be flat. Plus a song came on that reminded me of my sense of urgency:

Number one, time is running out
Number two, time is running out
Number three, time is running out
Number four, let it all hang out.
"Time is running out" - Apollo Four Forty

I also saw the funniest sign in a race to date. "Hey Jen, keep running. You're still fat." Wow, with friends like that, who needs enemies. After the sign it was back to the highway. This part was rough. It had a few ups and downs as you made your way over. At this point I could feel my pace slowing down. It took everything I had to not lose too much time. Again, I was constantly reassessing my times and figuring if I could make it.

Mile 9
Please, let me hang on. Just let me make it to the end in one piece and feeling strong. This is what I kept trying to tell myself as I kept looking at my time and pace. It was getting close to the sub-goal time threshold. Can I make it? I had one last little hump in the road to get over - the exit ramp to the Pentagon. Once I got to the top, it was downhill from here - literally. I flew down the hill and made the turn towards the finishing chute. I looked at my watch and new I had to haul ass if I wanted to make it under my goal time. Feet don't fail me now!! My legs and arms were pumping furiously. If it came down to it, the elbows would be flying and I'd be taking people out of my way. But I was able to make it to the finish without hurting anyone and especially myself. I stopped my watch and saw that I made it under my goal with 18 seconds to spare. Phew.

So overall, I shaved 13 minutes off of my time from last year. If I didn't have to stop for the bathroom break, it might have been 14 minutes. Oh well, there's always next year.

I made my way through the finish chute and picked up my finisher's coin. I wanted to get some food as I was quite hungry at this point, but the food lines were outrageous. The food lines in Russia were never as long. I passed on the food, grabbed my clothes and waited for Wingman to finish. We met up and made our way back to the hotel. I sat down on the bed and quickly fell asleep. It was a nice power nap and then I got up, showered, packed and we grabbed lunch and headed to the airport. At BWI, there would be no groping. Oh well, maybe next time.

And for those interested in the Army 10 Miler next year, the race date has been announced: October 24th, 2010. The signup is in April and it sells out in a matter of a couple of days.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"What did you just call me?!?!"

The security checks at the airport are always fun. You have to remove any metal and your shoes and send your belongings through a machine where they may or may not be checking the contents of your bag. I usually make it through without a second look from them. Not today. I chose to keep my hooded sweatshirt on as I passed through the metal detector. It did not go off (because I had no metal on me). But that was not good enough for the agent. Nope. He pulled me aside and said I had to be patted down by a female agent. Seriously? I asked why (politely) and he said "you're bulky." I bit my lip because I wanted to say "Hey fatty, who are you calling bulky?!" The nerve of him. At this point I start to lift my shirt up so anyone in earshot of hearing I'm bulky can see that I am not really bulky. He proceeds to call a female agent over and I am told to follow her and to "stand on the footprints on the mat." Since I don't do well with authority figures, I chose to stand on the mat but not on the footprints. I know, I'm such a rebel. Here's where the fun begins.

Agent: "put your arms out to the sides"
Me: "OK. I could take my sweatshirt off if it makes it easier. I have another shirt underneath."
Agent: "no, that's OK."
Me: "Please be gentle. I'm delicate."

At this point, as she's groping me, I'm wondering if this is some kind of kinky fantasy for the Wingman. He is now standing nearby and watching.

Agent: "OK, you're clear. Enjoy your flight."
Me: "Was it good for you?"
Agent: laughs
Me (as she walks away): "Call me........."

I hope I didn't sound too desperate. You have to look on the bright side of this. I got a free breast exam and was this close to having a pelvic exam without giving up a copay. Maybe this government run healthcare system isn't all that bad.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oh no, not again

I've been feeling better each day. Yesterday I did a short run and was feeling good during the 2nd half. Today I had school and then raced home so I could get a 1 hour ride in prior to the sun going down. It was a challenge to get the ride in because it was getting quite overcast with each passing minute.

I raced into the house, changed my clothes, pumped my tires and headed out the front door. I was so happy to ride today because a) I'm not training for a tri right now so any riding is purely fun riding and b) it means I am feeling better.

It was pretty windy out and my 'out' portion of the out and back took ~6 minutes longer than usual. I was soooo looking forward to the turnaround. Coming home I had the tailwind. Whoo hoo, I was flying back. I got off 25 and was on a side road when I noticed it how dark it was getting. I should have taken my sunglasses of, but I left them on. Because of that, I was too late noticing broken glass all over the shoulder. I think you know what's coming next. Yep, that hissing sound that is music to my ears.....NOT. It's more like nails down a chalkboard at this point. I immediately pull over, muttered a few expletives under my breath and proceeded to change my tire. Again. This one was a doozy though. I managed to rip a nice hole in the tire.

I have to say I was tempted to do this:

At first I could not find it, and then once I started the tire change, I saw it. Crap. Right near the sidewall. This will cost me another dollar right now. With all of the flats I've been having this season (5 for those of you keeping track), I keep two $1 bills in my tire changing kit. Seriously. I have no luck. So I tucked another dollar bill into the tire, put it back on the rim, filled it up and made it home. I'm tempted to leave that bill in there until spring comes along. I really don't like the idea of heading down to the bike shop or ordering another $60 tire right now.

On the bright side my nose was running like crazy during the ride. I think every last bit of head congestion made it's way out and I am breathing quite freely now through my nose. Tomorrow I have a 5 mile run planned. Unless Oz chimes in.......................

Saturday, September 26, 2009

This is how I feel

I woke up this morning at 3am and had to blow my nose. That does not happen normally. I also noticed my throat felt a little irritated. Took me 2 hours to get comfortable and go back to sleep. Not good. I was supposed to run today (8 miles) but I just wasn't up to it. I told Wingman that I think I am coming down with a cold. Time to commence "French Fry Therapy". There's nothing you can't cure with french fries!!

After breakfast we went to Target to pickup some cold medication. It is such an insult that the good stuff is kept behind the counter and you have to show ID and they log who is buying these meds. Come on, I am not a criminal, I am a woman with a cold. I just want some OTC stuff. It's not like I'm asking for a case of stuff, I just want one box. So I decide to get something that is available right on the shelf. We make our way over the cash register to pay and the cashier stuns me. She asks for ID. WTF?!?! I asked her why and they need to verify the buyers DOB. Well, if that's the case, why are they scanning my drivers license?!?! I pay quickly because I am this close to having some sort of problem. Next time I need cold meds, I will skip my local Big Brother Target. Damn meth addicts ruin it for everyone.

I spent the day on the couch reading for school and taking a cat nap. I wished Wingman good luck as he headed out the door for his run. I will try riding the bike on the trainer tomorrow while watching the Jets game. Since the Jets beat the Patriots last week, I can ditch my Jets uniform for a while. I am off from school on Monday so I will get my long run in then. I am loving the fact that this is a short week of school. Only 3 days and then Friday we leave for Virginia and the Army 10 Miler. Gotta feel better by then. I can't imagine flying with a cold. I guess the bright side is it's a short flight.


Wingman to the rescue! He went to the supermarket to get me a few goodies to make me feel better. Good thing the 10 miler is coming up. I'll need a long run to work these off! (Note: the ice cream is a single serving size, not a pint. I'm not that much of a piggy!)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Just like Cleopatra

I am Queen of Denial.

For months I have been having various issues creep up during my runs. I chose to bury my head in the sand.
Then it all came to a head during the race a few weeks back. My right ITB, piriformis, knee and foot did this to me:

So I rested and stretched thinking it would all go away. During my training I also made sure to wear good running shoes. I track my mileage and replace pairs that are getting to old. I have flat feet and I tend to overpronate so I wear a stability shoe because, as I am Queen of Denial, I can correct my own problems. I don't need the extra support. Well, push came to shove and I picked up a pair of motion control shoes. Oh my. First run in them, almost all my problems seemed to have disappeared. Well, not all of my problems as I still have to read the Nikolai Bernstein article for my Adult Neuro class, but that's another story. My right leg felt great the entire run. Today was my second run in them. Still feeling good. So my year of denial is over. Or I am in denial about not being in denial?

Today's run was good. I went out after Wingman left for work. The temperature was still somewhat cool and the wind was starting to pick up. I had a 4 mile route mapped out so I changed, put on my shades (because my future's so bright, I gotta wear shades), grabbed the iPod, laced up and headed out. I started out at a nice pace and tried to enjoy the morning. I didn't realize the wind was at my back until I got to the halfway point. All this time I am thinking I'm a superstar.

Holy cow, after the turn I swear I was running in a wind tunnel. I had to work so hard to keep my pace because I was too stubborn to slow down. I figured this was a short run so what's the big deal, right? The big deal was that these last 2 miles turned into a suffer-fest. The problem with running out here is there is nothing to block the wind for you. It's just you and the elements. I know it can make me a stronger runner, but when you are in the moment, you can't see that. Then the strangest thing happened. This song came on and I hit my stride. Even the wind seemed to die down for the duration.

I have to confess to a guilty pleasure here with this song. Good stuff. I did hit the back button at the end to hear it again. Couldn't resist. I still struggled to keep the pace, but held on to finish strong. I guess the combo of tripping out with Donovan and the runner's high kicked in.

So the Army 10 Miler is next weekend and I am thinking about my strategy. Usually my race strategy has been to start slow and finish slower, but I am not sure that will work for me this time around. I did this race last year and was miserably under trained for it so I have a pathetic time to show for it. I would love to PR it by at least 10 minutes. So do I start out like a bat out of hell and hang on for as long as I can then let the wheels fall off, try to run an even pace the entire race, or try to run the first 5 miles a little slower and pick it up for the last 5? I am open to suggestions.

My run went so well today, that I am chomping at the bit for the Ridley 5k in October (yes I am still on a high from my run this morning). I run this race every year and have set a 5k PR each year from 2002-2006. I'm in a bit of a dry spell the last few years because my running had not been consistent. I am feeling it this year and I think I can break it. Today's pace of the 4 miles tells me I am close. I am tempted to get a 'pacer' for this race to keep me on track. I've done that before. I bring someone faster (yeah, like that's real hard to find....) down to the race to run with me so it will shame me into running a little faster and not letting myself slow down.

I forgot to mention that last week I picked up the ultimate trivia game:

Can't wait to play!!!

Well, it looks like the Queen of Denial is still here. I have avoided that Bernstein article long enough. Time to go read............

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's been 1 week.....

Sounds like that Bare Naked Ladies song. It's been one week since my race and my recovery has gone nicely. I took it easy Monday since I had a long school day. I sat there totally useless in class due to mental and physical fatigue. Tuesday I had a run on my schedule but there was no way I felt OK to run. My legs still hurt and the inside of my calf was 'crampy'. Instead I went to get a massage and as usual, she worked her magic on me and I felt so much better. On Wednesday, I had a ride planned but because I felt like I was behind on my reading for school, I took the day off. You see a pattern here? And Thursday was a scheduled rest day and that made it a good day to start following my training plan ;-) By now, of course, I was feeling like a bloated pig.

Friday morning I went out for an easy 5 mile run. I felt great during the run. The temperature was nice and cool. I wore a long sleeve shirt! Yipee, I love fall running. I picked a relatively flat route, put on some tunes, and was on my way. My legs felt a little tight when I got home, but after some stretching they loosened right up.

Saturday I went for a solo ride in the afternoon. Wingman was running today and I have a run planned for Sunday so I went out alone. I took my new favorite ~21 mile route. The problem was with all of the fall/pumpkin traffic out here, it made crossing Sound Ave is a real chore. I usually cross over at the Cooperage, but not today. Too many cars. So I rode past to Edwards Ave. The Cooperage is having their usual fall festival and to attract people to come in, they had a costumed character waving at cars. Guess who high-fived me as I went past.

Yep, Elmo showed me some love!! For a second though I had a flashback to the race and when Elmo stuck his arm out I expected to exchange water bottles with him. So I went on my way with a little extra oomph in my pedal stroke. And I would need it as it was quite windy out. I rode easy as I could still feel some fatigue in my legs. There was a noticeable difference from my taper to now. Plus the headwinds were causing me problems too. Getting back home was a chore. I am not sure I ever felt the tailwinds. How wrong is that?!? I was seriously working to get back up Twomey. When I got back, Wingman told me he felt great on his run and that all the biking he did over the summer with me must have helped.

Today I went out riding again. Our running training schedules do not mesh so well. I like running on Sunday and he planned Saturday runs. He wanted to do an easy hour on the bike today so I joined him. Originally I was going to head out for ~2 hours, but I cut it down for him. It was a near perfect day. The only thing that would have made it a better ride was if all the cars disappeared for that one hour. Otherwise, the temperatures were just right and there was very little wind. I rode easy and the speed was there! Phew, I was worried after yesterday's ride that everything I worked for was gone in just one week. I will head out this afternoon to get my planned run in.

Since it's football Sunday, I will assume my position on the couch later and watch my Jets get their heads handed to them by the Patriots. I hope I'm wrong, but just in case I've got my Jets game watching uniform ready to go.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Diamonds are NOT this girl's best friend......

This past weekend I completed the Diamondman Half Iron Triathlon. I picked this race for a few reasons. I haven't done a half or full distance ironman since Lake Placid in 2006 due to my schedule and lack of time and I saw a window of opportunity this year to get a half in. This race is somewhat close to home (driving distance) and the course is flat. And the taper/race date fell at the beginning of the semester so all key workouts are done without the stress of being in school.

So I found myself on race morning awake before the alarm (note: I had 3 different alarms set - cell phone, alarm clock, and watch. Not that I am neurotic or anything). I got up and ate my breakfast then jumped in the shower. It's important to be clean before you sweat like a pig during the race. My race nutrition was put together the night before:

FRS chews, shot blocks, and a big bag of cocaine. Nothing gets me up more for a race than a little blow. OK, just kidding there. The white bag is Infinit, a custom blended sport drink that I've been using for a few years now. Works great for me. The bag here is a 3 hour mix that I put into one bottle that I take a swig from every 15 minutes and then supplement it with water bottles that are handed out on the course.

We had to pack up and check out of the hotel before the race because I knew we would not make it back before the "late" checkout time. So with the Element packed, we were on our way. The race was ~15 minutes from the hotel. Made it there with no problems, parked the car and headed over to transition. I've got my setup down to a science now. The woman next to me clearly does not understand setting up and her surrounding athletes. She had a large tarp on the ground with her bike stuff to the left of her bike and run stuff to the right. Really?!?! She took up so much room that other people moved her stuff in a little when she wasn't around.

Once my setup was done, I made my way over to the porto-john and took care of business. I was lucky that there was no line there. Got in and out quickly. Went back to transition, grabbed my wetsuit, swim stuff, and sneakers and headed over to the swim. Sneakers for the swim you ask? After the swim you have to run 1/4 mile to T1 and I would rather not do that barefoot over pavement. We were told to be careful entering the water from the ramp because of a 1 1/2" drop off. They had lifeguards at that point to warn you. I stepped off of the ramp into what I believe was a lake bottom coated with mashed potatoes. It was so gross. And what made it worse was that every few steps, you would sink down into it. At this point I decided it would be a better idea to swim to the starting line.

I found a nice spot to start from, away from the crowd so I could start the swim without having the crap kicked out of me. When they called "Go!!" I was on my way. The swim went pretty smoothly. I just kept the thought in my head that I was back home swimming in the lake, no stress. The course was a rectangular shaped out and back. I didn't notice much on the way out but on the way back, I heard a loud noise. Turns out I was swimming next to someone I refer to as the 'bitchslap' swimmer. He had a weird swim stroke. He had a straight arm recovery and would slam his arm into the water making a cracking noise. This would go on for ~10 strokes and then he would do a few breast strokes and then repeat the cycle. I picked it up a little to get away from him. The rest of the swim was good. I made my way to the ramp and followed the life guard's warning about the lip. Once out of the water, I stripped my wetsuit, put on my sneakers and ran to T1. Got in and out pretty quick and was on the bike.

I was looking forward to the bike course because it was real flat except for one bridge to climb going out and back. I felt like the bike was going to be my strongest event in this race. Once I hit the road, I started my watch timer. I have it set to go off every 15 minutes to remind me to drink. I realized right away that I made a big mistake. My watch was set to go off every 15 HOURS!!! I did not want to take the effort to reset it. I would just be careful to keep my eye on the clock instead. I got into a smooth rhythm early on. My speed was up there with very little effort. I wanted to think about spinning and not mashing. I like to keep my cadence over 80 rpm. I looked down to see what my cadence was. Crap, something was up with the cadence meter. The display field was blank. Well, I guess I'm riding 'old school' at this point. I tucked down into my aero position and was on my 56 mile journey. I tried not to think ahead too much about the bridge ahead. I wasn't so concerned about the big bridge I had to climb, but the small bridge just before it.

It is a steel grated bridge and I am so thankful it was not raining and the roads were not wet. I would probably needed a change of shorts if I had to cross it wet. Once I crossed this bridge, the big climb was next.

These shots are actually on the way back, but you can see what I was dealing with. The climb really wasn't that bad on the way out. I had a tail wind helping me up the hill and I was able to spin easily. The side rails are really low until you get to the top. I was hoping a crosswind wasn't going to blow me over the edge! When I got to the top, I let 'er rip coming down the other side. Once at the bottom I got back into the aero position and kept moving. For some weird reason I had the theme from Rawhide going through my head at this point:

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Keep movin', movin', movin',
Though they're disapprovin',
Keep them doggies movin' Rawhide!

Hey, whatever it takes to keep the pedals moving. There were plenty of water views once you cross the bridge. I was feeling good until I came across this sight:

Yep, that's a nuclear power plant in the distance. And to make it worse there are signs along the roads of the bike course stating if you hear a horn sound for 3-5 minutes to turn to a local AM radio frequency. At this point, I was hoping to make it through without hearing the horn!! I saw quite a few people in boats fishing in body of water near the plant. That left me thinking about it for quite a few miles. I am not sure I would want to know what is capable of living in that water. How many heads would that fish have? And if I did catch something, would I want to eat it? Would it eat me?

I got my head back into the bike ride after this nice diversion. I passed a few people on the rest of the 'out' portion of the ride. I got to the turnaround and was feeling good. I had a little headwind to deal with on the way back. It wasn't too bad and my speed really didn't drop. I rode past the power plant again and saw the fishermen. Again, this occupied my mind for a few miles. Then I was approaching the bridge climb again. This time I climbed into the wind and actually had to pedal to get any speed coming down the hill. I white knuckled it because the wind was blowing me around a little plus the expansion joints on the bridge would rattle the bike. And to add insult to my injury, I would have to slow down at the bottom to cross the steel grated bridge. The rest of the bike was uneventful and I made it back to T2 feeling good. I looked down at my computer and saw my ride time. I managed to go 15 minutes faster than I anticipated. Sweet! Plus, I managed to finish my nutrition bottle without the aid of my timer. My thought after the bike ride was "I love this race course!!"

T2 went smoothly and I was on my way out to the run. You have to do a 1 mile loop around the camp grounds before heading out. I made a quick pitstop at the port-john again since I didn't know when I would see another one. I made it out to the road and tried to find my running legs. The roadway leads to a dirt road and down along a river.

As you can see, it's a boring course. Picture this view (minus the bridge) for ~4.5 miles out and back. It didn't take long for me to lose focus. My plan was to just run easy for as long as I could. Problem was the sun came out just in time for me to start running. I got really hot, really fast. At each aid station I took 2 cups of water (drink one, pour one over head/body) and a cup of gatorade. I was sweating like crazy and getting crusty. Plus I was slowly losing my mind (not that I had far to go). I tried to keep it together for as long as I could. When I got to the turn around, I think I started experiencing some of the stages of grief. "Denial" - there's nothing wrong here. I'm going to be OK. I'll just change my strategy and run 5 mintues, walk 30 seconds. That will get me through this. "Anger" - Oh for pete's sake. How much longer will I be out here? Enough is enough. Whoever designed this course is a sh%thead. "Bargaining" - OK, just run 3 telephone poles and then you can walk one. Just keep it moving. The pain is not so bad. "Depression" - This is never going to end. I'm going to die out here and no one will know. I contemplated hanging myself with my shoelaces but that wouldn't work because I use stretch laces so there would be no tension. And the Neil Young song "Down by the River" was going through my head:

She could drag me
over the rainbow,
send me away
Down by the river
I shot my baby
Down by the river,
Dead, oh, shot her dead.

Yep, I was in a dark place now. It took everything I had to try and get me out of this funk. Other people on the run course try to offer encouragement. They said things like "Looking good." Well, there was no mirror handy, but I think I had a pretty good idea of what I looked like with dried snot on my face, drool out of the corner of my mouth, salt crust all over, hair matted down. Yeah, I looked like a freakin' supermodel. Seriously, just tell me to keep on going. "Acceptance" - Well, I'm stuck out here. Nothing I can do about it except to keep on moving. I finally made it out of my personal hell and back onto solid roadway and civilization. Just two miles to go. Only two miles..........

When I got back to the campground I had to do one more loop around and then the finish line was near. Wingman was waiting at the entrance for me. I signaled him over and told him I was feeling bad and in trouble. I asked him to cover the last mile with me. I really needed someone with me so I could keep it together and not end up in a crying heap (which I was close to doing). We walked and ran together and talked. I still have no idea if anything I was saying made sense to him. I just remember rambling on and he kept me moving. Finally the finish line was in sight. He peeled off and cut through the trees to see me finish.

As soon as I crossed the finish line I said "no mas". I was cooked and wanted to sit down. They handed me the finishers medal and I swear I thought it was a joke. Check this thing out:

I know you're all jealous of me!!

I missed my goal time by 6 minutes. I guess that's not too bad. Plus at the end imagine my surprise when they announced I took 2nd place in my division. At least that medal was a little bigger.

A huge thanks to my Wingman/Sherpa for his help this weekend. He gave in to the dark side and said this weekend could be "all about me." Nothing like feeding my ego ;-) When the race was over, I packed my gear and he took it all back to the car and packed it all up. I got to sit down and relax before we hit the road. We had to come right back as I had school today. Needless to say I was worthless in class today. I was so fatigued mentally and physically.

Not sure I would do this race again. The run course really leaves a lot to be desired. Otherwise if there was an aquabike option, I'd do it.

No rest for the weary, the Army 10 Miler is in a few weeks. Yikes!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Almost there

Tomorrow morning Wingman and I will be leaving for my race in Delaware. We'll pack the car with my stuff and head out. Before we go I have to print the turn by turn directions for the bike portion of the race. I can't help but think that the course may not be well marked and will have to plan for that. When we get to the hotel we'll check in and then go out and do some recon. There is a bridge that I will have to cross twice (out and back) and I want to check it out. Based on some internet pictures I found, I might be stopping halfway over to put my head between my knees if it's windy. I'm not scared of heights. I just hope this bridge has a nice high railing on the side.

Otherwise the course is flat so I hope to get through the bike portion smoothly. I hope to check out part of the run course as well. From what I had read about it, looks like some portions of it is packed gravel.

The only other issue I have is the Swim exit. There is a 1/4 mile run from the swim exit to T1. I plan on leaving a pair of sneakers (not my actual race sneakers) at the swim exit so I can wear them to run to T1 in. No way do I want to tear up the bottom of my feet that early in the race. The race organizers have a special spot for people to leave T1 sneakers so I'll take advantage of that.

And I have to plan my pre-race music mix. Something to get me fired up on race morning. A sample of my usual staple is:

"Sabotage" - The Beastie Boys
"Time is Running Out" - Apollo Four Forty
"Heroes" - David Bowie
"Faint" - Linkin Park
"Time Has Come Today" - The Ramones
"Superhero" - Jane's Addiction

There's more to it but I think you get the picture.

Monday, September 7, 2009

In the books

Well, my last weekend is done. I had my last weekend ride/run prior to my race. Saturday's ride was rough. For the last 2 rides I've been on I've had issues with side stitches like you get when you run. It takes forever to go away. My position on the bike has not changed. The first time it happened I just figured I drank too much water prior to heading out. On Saturday, I didn't drink too much prior to the ride. I think this time it was a sandwich I ate just before the ride. I did not get any GI issues, just those darn stitches. I had to constantly sit up and massage under my ribs. I did stop to stretch out as well. I got some relief when I sat up or stopped, but it came back as soon as I went aero again. I swear I can't win. I did feel better towards the end of the ride. I was going to head out today to do a short easy effort to see if everything was better, but I never made it out. I'll wait until my next scheduled ride. Hopefully I won't be reduced to tears during the race.

My run yesterday was uneventful, which is good. I felt fine and just kept the pace comfortable until the last couple of miles. I had some good music going on the iPod and ran the back roads to stay away from the tour-ons that came out for the weekend. I was so happy that the weather was in my favor. It was a little breezy, but cool enough that I went out in a long sleeve shirt. I really enjoy fall and winter running.

My cousin and his wife took a ride out here yesterday and I showed them a little bit of the area. It was difficult to do because traffic here is getting bad on the weekends. After our mini-tour, we drove back up island to his mom's house for a BBQ. It was a small crowd and I managed to stop and chat with everyone. Most people know about my racing and training so I am asked about upcoming races. When I get finished answering their questions, almost always, someone will say "What's wrong with you?" or "Were you dropped on your head as a baby?"

I try to explain to them why I race. I enjoy testing my limits and seeing just how far or how fast I can push myself. They think the racing is difficult when actually the race is the easy part. It's the months of training that is hard. Keeping the motivation level up and not burning out or getting injured, that's the hard part.

When I was leaving the BBQ last night, I saw a text message on my cell phone from Bruce telling me he and a couple of people would be swimming this morning. I got home around 11:30p and the thought of getting up at 5:30a to go swimming just didn't appeal to me. I set the alarm anyway and would figure things out in the morning. Needless to say I dragged my sorry ass out of bed this morning and paced up and down the hall between the kitchen and the bedroom debating swimming vs sleeping. The swimming won out. With my school schedule I am not sure what swimming days I can make at the lake this week so I knew I'd better go swim. I sent Bruce a text telling him I was on my way. He told me that he and Vicki were doing 2 miles today. I said "Good for you. I'm, doing 1." I was slightly tempted at the thought of doing 2 laps of the lake, but then I am violating the laws of the race taper. So I did my one lap, wished them good luck for the 2nd lap, drove home, showered, ate and took a nap.

So as part of taper madness, I have begun to check the weather for race day. Up until today, it was going to rain on race day. When I checked today, it said sunny and 81. Whoo hooo. I'll take it. But then again, if it rains I don't care. It's a flat course so no downhills in the rain and it's my 'A' race so I'm going all out. I am also planning out what to bring. I have my race nutrition nailed down well. I will use a 3 hr concentrated bottle of Infinite for the bike course and will supplement it with water. There are two bottle exchanges on the course. I'll stay away from the gatorade on the bike and just grab water. I'll also be packing some Clif Shot Blocks in case I start craving sweets late in the ride. For the run, that's easy. I'll use the gatorade and water at the aid stations and carry some more shot blocks with me for caffeine (I am such a caffeine junkie these days it's not even funny). I have to bring my race morning breakfast with me. Don't want to have to scramble around town the day before the race looking for food. Dinner the night before is easy, Oreo's and potato chips........... OK, just kidding. I'll just pick something from this menu.

I am still thinking about clothing. I may wear a tri top for the bike and change into a regular running shirt for the run. I prefer to wear sleeves when I run. And besides, I don't want too many people getting jealous of my awesome cycling tan.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Heeeeerrrrrre's Johnny!!!

Yep, that sense of impending doom is here. I can't run and hide any longer. School starts tomorrow. There is no escape from it. I have 3 classes tomorrow: Ortho I, Adult Neuro Rehab II, and Psychosocial Disability.

It's funny when you think about it. School and Tri training are very similar. At the beginning of each training year or school year, you start out with such enthusiasm about the upcoming schedule. You make promises to yourself like "this year I will stay on top of my reading" or "I will make every workout on my schedule." But as the year drags on, the same thing always happens. The mental and physical fatigue gets to you. Your thinking now becomes "I wish this semester was over already" or "Oh man, can I just do my race now and get it over with." You almost become sick of the task at hand, but really it's just the fatigue talking. And you can guess with my tone here that I just completed my last long workout prior to my race taper.

That's right, Taper Madness begins tomorrow. And you know exactly what I am talking about. The anxiety you feel during this period is pure madness. With the decreased training volume you wonder if you are losing all of that valuable fitness you worked so hard for. You get a little restless that you aren't training as much. You think about sneaking out for an extra ride or run or maybe even stretching the scheduled time. You start looking at the weather forecast 2 weeks out from the race and worry that there's a 10% chance of rain (as if the weather people can get anything right). You notice every little twinge in your body and panic that some injury is brewing deep inside. You sneeze and start taking "Airborne" like it's candy. Or you just flat our refuse to shake anyone's hand or touch anyone just in case they might have come into contact with someone in their lifetime that was sick. The addiction to training and the sudden decrease may leave you irritable. You feel as is you are getting slower and fatter during this time. It's amazing what mental anguish put ourselves through.

But the reality is, during this time you lose nothing. You are actually building all that fitness and resting your body so when you race you are fresh and ready to go.

Today was my last long ride. I woke up early again and let the Wingman sleep a little. Imagine my surprise when he emerged a little while later from the bedroom all dressed and ready to go! And here I was, the slacker still in my pajamas! So I got dressed quickly, pumped the tires, prepped the bottles and we were on our way. Early on we felt a few drops of rain but that was the extent of it. I attacked most of the ride as best I could. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I think I achieved it again. We took turns passing each other and enjoyed the morning. On the way back home, I noticed Miloski's turkey farm has their fall tenants out in the field already. A few years back I rode by and made what I thought was a turkey noise (gobble, gobble) and I must have said something offensive in their language because quite a few of them starting making a lot of noise and flapping about. This time around I kept my mouth shut. My focus was on my last long ride and feeling good throughout. I had one bad spot on the ride, but managed to get myself through it and finished strong. I can really feel the fatigue in my legs tonight though. Thank goodness tomorrow is a rest day.

I am so glad that my Wingman has gotten into cycling with me. It makes it much easier to leave the house when you have someone to ride with. I don't have to feel guilty about leaving for hours to go riding. We don't chat much on the rides, but it's time well spent together. He is turning into quite the rider. We have our little battles on the hills, but I just can't match his explosiveness yet. When he stands up to pedal, he generates so much more power. I have to work on this in the off season if I want to try to win back the polka dot jersey.

So my race is two weeks away. I will be thinking about my race plan and what I want to achieve in the race. I dedicated this race to my cousin and her son's battle with Lymphoma and Leukemia respectively. I raised some money through the Livestrong foundation in their honor. So if the race gets tough, I will just remember what Cathy and Michael went through and realize that I have it easy with doing this race.

Wingman will go into Sherpa mode at this point. He prides himself of making sure I have everything I need and he even offers to carry it. A few years back at a local race, he brought my bike, 2 bags, and a folding beach chair back to the car while I waited at the beach. His cousin came down to see her husband after the race and she said "I just saw your pack mule going to the car." I felt Sherpa was a much more dignified name for him. So from that day forward, he became known as my race Sherpa.

So tonight as I lay my head down on the pillow, thoughts of taper madness will swirl in my head.