Friday, September 26, 2008

More Iron Girl!

Just sharing a few more pictures from the big finale.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Iron Girl - The second time around

This past weekend brought my final multi-sport event for 2008. This event just happened to be one of my favorite races, the Iron Girl Duathlon in Bloomington, MN. There are lots of things I love about this race. First, it's a duathlon, so there's no swimming involved. Second, it's a women only race. I don't have issues racing with men or anything like that. I just think it's really cool to see almost 1,000 women out on the race course, enjoying the sport and encouraging everyone they see. Third, I love the challenge of a duathlon and I really enjoy the distance (2-22-2) and course at Iron Girl. The runs are fairly short and the bike is hilly as all get out, but it's just the right combination to make it fun. And lastly, this year I had the chance to spend the weekend and race with my two best friends - Gwen and Greyt. And that is just awesome.

I'm not sure if it's more exciting for me to talk about the race, or to show off what I bought the day BEFORE the race. Who am I kidding?? I was so excited about my purchase, I couldn't even wait till the race to wear it, so of course I have to talk about it first. I'm really not sure how it happened. Greyt and I took a field trip to Gear West. We looked at clothes, they were having a sale on summer stuff. I got a jersey. I got some new Zoot tri shorts. Then somehow I end up in this back room area looking at helmets. Next thing I know, I have the Giro Advantage 2 helmet on my head and I knew I wasn't leaving there without it. I wasn't the one looking for an aero helmet. Greyt was the one researching them all, reading the reviews, contemplating the purchase. She was the one talking about the advantages of the Rudy Project helmet over the Louis Garneau Rocket or the Spiuk Kronos. I was the supportive friend listening to her evaluations, offering my opinion here or there, and then there I was with a helmet on my head and my hand in my wallet. Funny how that power of suggestion thing works. For the record, I did not allow Greyt to walk out of there without buying her Rudy Project helmet either. That just would not have been fair.

Ok, onto the race. We got to the race around 6:30 or so. Race time was 7:30. Transition racks were assigned this year (or at least each row was assigned a group of #s), so there wasn't as much of a need to be there the second transition opened. After figuring out where the run and bike ins/outs were, I decided to set my bike up on the far end of the rack closer to the bike in/out. For some reason, only one other girl had the same idea I did, and I watched as everyone filled in the spots on the other end of the rack. It was kind of funny to see my bike racked next to hers -a kick ass pink and black Scott tri set up totally pimped out with 808s - then a HUGE gap and several mountain bikes, hybrids and road bikes crammed down at the other end. Just interesting to see different strategies at work.

After setting up transition, hitting the porta potties (twice), doing a warm-up run with Greyt, it was game time. The three of us headed to the start to try and get up close to the front, since we were in the first wave.
We're standing in the chute and I look around at the women in front of us. There's Marlo McGaver (3x Iron Girl winner), Sarah Kolpin, Leslie Curley, Jana Severson (local DSM tri/duathlete stud), Julie amazing group of really really fast women. It was pretty cool to be standing there with them, chatting it up while we waited for the gun. Er, the Aflac duck, I mean. Yeah, we didn't start to a gun, instead it was a countdown of 3,2,1...AFLAAAAAACCCCC!

Then we were off. I saw Gwen take off on Marlo's heels. I was like, you go girl. I stayed back with the main pack and tried to focus in on my pace. I knew I had to keep myself in check for this first mile. I went out hard, but it didn't feel too hard. First mile was 7:12.
I felt good at the mile 1 marker, so I kept pushing along. I dropped slightly on the second mile, coming into transition along with Gwen at 14:34.

Thanks to my decision to wear use my Pyro Platforms for the duathlon, I didn't have to change shoes so I was out of transition in a pretty fast time. Fourth fastest T1 time in the race, actually. Then it was bike time. Even though I did this race last year, and I knew it was hilly, I had forgotten just HOW hilly. Or maybe I had this crazy idea that I was so much stronger this year than last year that they wouldn't seem as bad, I don't know. But they were bad. And we had to do them all twice. Fun stuff, people. I struggled up the first set of hills a bit. Hitting a whopping 10-13 mph and an HR of about 179. Thankfully it seemed most everyone (the mortals of us in the race, anyway) was having the same issue. Early on I settled into a little "pack" with two other women. For the first loop, the three of us were in our own little world. The fast women were nowhere to be found, and there really wasn't anyone close behind us, so we formed our own little chase pack. We had to keep passing one another to avoid drafting, but it was kind of nice to have a couple other good, strong bikers with me to keep pushing the pace. And despite knowing we were all in the same age group, we actually were very encouraging to each other on those mutha effin' hills.

The second bike loop got a little more congested with the rest of the waves now out on the bike course. Despite the increased traffic, the three of us stuck together the entire second loop as well. We spread out just a bit towards the end of the loop, with one of the women pulling a bit ahead of me and the other falling slightly back. Again, thanks to the pyros, I dismounted the bike already in my running shoes and was ready to rock the run.

I came out of transition side-by-side with one of the girls from our little bike pack. I said "Great bike" we exchanged some knuckles and off we went - she a little faster than I. I knew right away I wasn't going to be able to hang with her. She looked fresh and was running really well right out of transition. My legs felt tired and heavy, and my breathing felt a bit out of control. I made the decision to let her go. I knew I was giving up an AG place, but I also knew I did not have it in me to stay with her. So I focused on getting my legs back and holding on to my race. My goal was to finish the race under 1:40, and as long as I ran fairly well, I would reach that goal. I settled into a good pace, and felt my legs starting to come around. I hit the 1 mile marker and took a quick peek behind me to see if there was anyone coming up. I saw the other girl from our bike pack about 10-15 seconds behind me. Crap. I picked up a bit, trying to hold onto my spot. I did everything I could to hold this girl off, but she was a strong runner. I didn't know it till I looked at the results, but she KILLED that second run. She passed me with about a half mile to go, giving me a "good job" as she cruised by. I could hear the announcer bringing home the finishers on the other side of the trees. I finished as hard as I could, my legs burning like I had just sprinted a sub-60 400m. I came across the line in 1:38.56. Beating my goal time of 1:40, and finishing 5 minutes ahead of my time from last year.

I grabbed some water and cheered Gwen and Greyt in to the finish. They both did awesome jobs! Gwen bettered her time from last year by 5:30. And Greyt finished her first duathlon EVER in kick ass time too! All in all, it was a fantastic day!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Doing the D.O! (-athlon,that is!)

So yesterday was the big team event I so excitedly signed Greyt and I up for. I learned one very important lesson at yesterday's race. Never, EVER, under any circumstance, sign yourself up for a race based on the post-race food. You will only be disappointed. It was Pancheros, yes, as advertised. And I do love Pancheros. BUT what I do not love is a pre-made beef Pancheros burrito served out of a large igloo cooler. Trust me, folks, it's not good.

Ok, on to the actual race report. It was a fairly chilly morning, but it started out looking like the clouds would burn off and we'd have some sunshine. However, as we spent time getting warmed up and race time grew closer, the clouds never cleared and the wind began to pick up. The park we were in was really wooded, so you couldn't really feel the full impact of the wind, but you could see the tops of the humongous trees really whipping around. So bad, in fact, that you had to dodge falling walnuts. You would just be standing there talking to someone and you'd hear a loud THUD right next to you and a walnut would roll across the ground. Fun stuff. Right before transition closed it felt like it had gotten a little chillier so I made the decision to put on my arm warmers, just in case. I don't like to be cold.

We listened to some pre-race announcements, directions on how to enter/exit transition, then the RD sang the national anthem. Yes, you heard me, the RD actually sang the anthem. He wasn't half bad either. Anyway, all 100 or so participants (minus a few team members like Greyt staying behind to bike) line up at the start line, 5-4-3-2-1. BOOM! This wasn't just a starting gun, it was a freaking mini canon. Scared the crap out of me and I even knew it was coming. It must have also jump started my adrenaline because I took off running like I stole something. At the time I was running with my friend Sarah, and she says to me "so what kind of pace are you wanting to run?" Thinking she was the one pushing the pace and I was just hanging on for dear life, I told her I didn't really have a goal but for her to go ahead and run her race so she could take her age group. Next thing I know, I'm pulling away from her and running strong.

5K #1
Mile 1 - 7:22 - OUCH that was a touch fast, but not really outside of my abilities either, IF I was only running one 5K. But I was running TWO of them in this race, so I needed to make sure I didn't kill my legs for that second one. But I also wanted to push myself and see what I could do, SO I slowed down just a bit to try and conserve a little energy.
Mile 2 - 7:42 - Ok that was a little better. I felt pretty good coming in on the first loop, hearing Greyt, Sinclair and Matt, and Laura giving me some encouragement. They helped push me along, which was awesome. With the two loop course, you could get a good look at the people both ahead and behind you on the run course, which was kind of fun. You could tell who you were gaining ground on or who was gaining ground on you. It would have been a really great set-up if I had been doing this as an individual, but as a team it didn't really tell me much, just that I seemed to be in the top 1/3 of the runners so far.
Mile 3.1 - 8:09 - So I probably picked it up a little bit coming into transition, but I knew I was going to get a little rest while Greyt was out on the bike so I pushed it in. Came into transition, put the chip on Greyt's ankle and she was off. We had her bike stashed on the rack literally 4 feet from the bike in/out, so it worked perfectly. She headed out and I attempted to catch my breath.
Intermission - OK so it wasn't intermission for Greyt (you can read about her bike experience on her blog), but it was for me. I grabbed my water bottle and my gel, then walked with Laura out to the bike course (about 1/4 or so walk) to catch Greyt coming by for her second loop of the course. By this time, the wind had picked up, the clouds had increased, and it was starting to mist a bit. It was getting downright cold. I had a coat on and was stretching and trying to stay loose. It was during this wait that I decided I needed to go out a little easier on my first mile of the next leg and try to negative split the run. This was something I wanted to work on and this was as good of a time as any. We saw Greyt come by about 20 mins later then headed back to transition to wait for her to come in. Back in transition I decided to put a long sleeved shirt on under my short sleeved one for the second run. I was considerably colder than before the race and thought the extra warmth on my core would be good.
5K #2
Greyt comes running up to transition, racks her bike as I take the chip from her and take off on the last part of the race. Remembering my goal of going out a tad easier and negative splitting the run, I consciously reminded myself to just take it somewhat easy on the first mile.
Mile 1 - 8:29 - Turned out I didn't really need to consciously remind myself to do that because my lovely IT band did it for me. Loud and clear. Within the first quarter mile I felt that all to familiar stabbing pain on the side of my right knee. Not good. All I could think about was how long it took me to recover from this last year and how I had IronGirl next weekend and the half marathon in a month...I really couldn't afford to have this take me out of commission again. So I tried to just keep my legs as loose as possible, not push anything, and just ride it out. The pain did start to lessen the more I warmed up, so not all hope was lost on my goal of negative splitting this run.
Mile 2 - 7:59 - I managed to pick up the pace a little bit on mile 2, keeping pace with a girl who had passed me about half a mile in. I couldn't quite hang with her, but I kept her fairly close throughout mile 2 and into the last mile.
Mile 3.1 - 7:29 - Yeah so I don't quite know what happened here. I guess I found my second wind. I know I was trying to gain ground on a couple of people in front of me, but I didn't realize I had picked it up that much. I came around the cones to the finish line and just tried to finish hard.

After I finished I immediately started trying to stretch my IT band. I could feel it tightening up once I stopped moving. I headed right over to the osteopathic table and signed up for a treatment. I needed some good stretching and I needed it soon. I got some water, a banana and then about 10 mins later went for the aforementioned burrito. Blech. Luckily they called my name for the treatment and I headed in to the shelter to get stretched, massaged and flexed by a 2nd year med student. About 20 mins later they announced the awards and much to Greyt and my surprise, we ended up 3rd out of 6 teams. Not to shabby considering the #1 and #2 teams were totally stacked with super fast guys. I'd say we had a pretty good day!

Monday update - The IT band is still sore, but noticeably better. High hopes for IronGirl on Sunday!

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Do NOT Want to do an Ironman

Sometimes you just need to remind yourself of statements you have made in the past, and the reasons for making them. Especially when Ironman is in the air, and everyone is talking about a race they just did or one they signed up for next year. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement, in the emotion of all things Ironman. So, in an effort to quiet those tiny little voices in my head, I'm here to remind myself of the reasons I do NOT want to do an Ironman:

1. 2.4 mile swim - I'm lucky I finished the 1.5K Oly swim at Hy-Vee.
2. Time commitment - I know a lot of other people who have trained and completed an IM have a lot more on their plate than I do. But I sometimes have a hard time fitting in my 8-11 hours/week training as it is. How could I possibly fit in IM training???
3. The marathon - I've never run a marathon. In fact, I've never run anything longer than 12.4 miles (although I will be doing a half-marathon in October). A marathon itself is a scary thought, but doing it AFTER 112 miles on the bike?? Boy, I don't know...
4. 2.4 mile swim - Did I mention that most of these IM races are in very large bodies of water with currents and waves and stuff? I swim in small Iowa lakes. Some could be confused for farm ponds. There are no currents, there are no fish larger than my foot (or lower leg perhaps), and there certainly are no jellyfish!!
5. Attention span - I have some serious issues with my attention span in longer races. I tend to get bored very easily, then I start staring at my watch praying I'll be done soon. This could be very bad in a 140.6 mile race.
6. I "race" - I think one of my bigger challenges would be changing my mindset from racing to finishing. I am a fairly competitive person and I'm not sure I even know how to go into a "race" without trying to finish high or beat my goal. I'm afraid that mentality would make it difficult for me to race Ironman.
7. 2.4 mile swim - A little less than two years ago, I couldn't even swim a 25 yard length with my head in the water. And when I reached the other side I was gasping for breath like I'd just finished an all out sprint. I've come a long way in that time, even this summer, but man that's a long ass swim.
8. My nutrition sucks - Yes, Jen, I'm admitting this for you and all others to hear. I really truly suck at maintaining a good diet. I'd have to get A LOT more disciplined and A LOT more creative in my meal planning.
9. I'd have to learn to pee on the bike - This relates back to #6. IF I ever did an IM race, it would drive me INSANE to have to stop and pee all the time. So, I'd have to learn to pee on my bike as others have mentioned doing. This would take some serious practice considering I STILL cannot pee in my wetsuit during the swim. I just cannot do it.
10. 2.4 mile swim - Enough said.

Ok, so that helped! The voices are now quiet. Thank god. They were getting a little annoying here as of late. I'm sure they will attempt to pipe up again as Greyt begins her journey towards IM Cozumel '09, but I will be sure to revisit this blog entry before I do anything rash.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Season 2 Triathlon Finale...Cy-Man Sprint

It's official. My second triathlon season has come to an end. But that doesn't mean I'm done racing! This weekend I have a duathlon which I'm doing as a team with Greyt, and next weekend I have another duathlon which I am doing on my own. You would think the team duathlon this weekend would be the "easier" of the two events, but I'm thinking not. For this team event, I run a 5K, Greyt bikes 20K (that's ONLY 12.4 miles, people), then I run another 5K. So I run HALF the distance she bikes. With somewhere around 37-38 minutes of "rest" between those 5Ks to let my legs tighten up. Hmmmm...whose idea was this again? Oh yeah, it was mine. I got sucked in by the post race food menu. Pancheros Burritos. Gotta love that.

Ok, so I'm just going to do a quick report on the race from Sunday. There really isn't a whole lot to tell. It was fairly uneventful, which I suppose is a good thing. Greyt and I went to the race venue on Saturday morning to do a little pre-race brick workout and we were greeted with this:

Yes, that is the beach, but where is the water you ask? Good question. It's SOMEWHERE out there. We just weren't sure where. So we walked down to the water's edge, to see if there was any chance of swimming that morning. We thought if we could see the swim buoys, we could do it. Can you see the buoy?

It's there, I promise. Look again. Here, I'll help:

See! I told you it was there! After spending about 5 minutes staring into the grey abyss and deciding we really weren't much into playing a game of "Marco? Polo?" out there, we gave up. Luckily race morning was NOTHING like this.

Race morning went pretty well. Got there plenty early, set up in a sweet transition spot, got in a couple good trips to the porta potty, warmed up (See, Jen, I do follow orders!!), and was ready to go.

Swim went ok, about 1/2 way out I got a cramp in my right calf. I stopped briefly to try and stretch it out, then got back to swimming. Tried once again to stretch it out at the turnaround, but that didn't help either. Greyt happened to be swimming by me and stopped to see if I was ok. After telling her she needed to get swimming instead of worrying about me, she told me to stop kicking and then took off. So, I took her advice and swam the rest of the way in with a dead right leg.

Bike went well. I was trying out some new wheels for the race, and could feel a difference in the way I was riding. I was riding fast speeds and felt really light on the hills. How can you not feel fast when your bike looks like this:

After the race, when I saw the initial results, I was even more impressed by the wheels. They had me at an average of 22mph. BUT, after doing a few calculations a day later, I realized they were using the wrong distance for the average calculation. But even after the correction, I posted a strong bike split. Fastest in my age group. That felt good.

The run was typical, although, unlike at Hickory Grove, no female runners passed me. I had a girl in my sights from the beginning of the run and managed to reel her in with about half a mile left. As I passed she said, "It's about time! I was waiting for you to pass me so I didn't have to sprint you to the end." Nice. She did try to pull a little sprint out at the end and pass me, but it didn't happen. I held her off by about 4 seconds. That always feels good.

After a couple of hours of waiting around for the race officials to figure out all the timing issues they had, the awards were finally presented. The good news is that I managed another 2nd place AG finish. The bad news is that the same girl who beat me at Hickory Grove, beat me again here. Darn it! Next season, my season.

So to wrap up my post, here's a picture of me, Greyt and another TRI friend, Vick. Don't we all look so happy to be done??