Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mighty winds

We are among those who experienced the CRAZY seemingly out-of-nowhere gigantic storm front that came across West Virginia and Virginia yesterday. We were driving home when it hit, through a valley that within minutes was littered with downed trees. I really thought the van was going to be picked up Wizard-of-Oz style. We picked our way through limbs and made it home to a dark and quiet house.

Half a million without power. We are hearing it could be many days before it is restored. No power, no water and it's in the mid 90's.

Fortunately, campus and the main areas of town are largely unaffected. I took a 10-mile "running tour" of town early today (showers work at the gym, thank goodness)  and saw so many grand old trees that did not survive the night. It broke my heart.

The run was in lieu of the bike ride I was supposed to have to with Coach Jim, but with the roads covered with debris, biking was out. I'll try for tomorrow.

Looks like we'll be tossing out a lot of food. In addition to the normal stuff, we have an upright freezer full. Ugh. Such a waste.....

Ready or not, seems we'll be having a bit of an adventure this week.

Addendum: With a solar array and bank of batteries from Solar Connexion one would still have power and an operational well pump/water (see recent video of owner Bryan Walsh's house)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Double swim day

Yesterday I swam twice.

I swam with these guys first, for about 45 minutes total. These are little sunfish.

I swam with these folks in the evening, for about 70 seconds total. These are summer rec league swimmers at our meet.

Guess where I felt more at home? Oh yeah, give me the open water. These swim meets are just SO humbling!!

I've done the summer league the last few summers, since I started swimming for triathlon. This year I was really not into it and I left the decision up to my son Spencer who said he "wanted me to swim so he could cheer me on."  Translation: if I have to do this, you should too.

I lack the basic competitive swim skills of your average 8 year-old. I can't do a flip turn without getting vertigo, I have a phobia of diving off the block (fear of my goggles coming loose), and my reaction time needs a lot of work. There are all so many technical rules in swimming too - touch with two hands on breast stroke, you get one pull underwater, blah blah blah.

There were two heats of us older "girls" and I was lucky enough to be in the one with the swim coaches, the moms from the multi-generational swim families, and one Virginia Tech swimmer who I think finished in under 25 seconds. (Yeah. How is that even possible? And WHY can't I do that?!)

I finished last in my heat but came in second out of three in my age group in the 50 free with a 33.98. I always fare better in breaststroke. I try to make up for lack of technique with a crazy frantic super-high stroke count approach but it gets the job done, lol!

Spencer did well in his events and he has a body position and ease about him that I envy. Focus is another story. I find him talking about some new technology as his feet climb the block!

I'll be back for next week's meet. I am prepared to be humbled in the 100 free and backstroke (I'm not a butterfly-er).

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I just found this photo from the Salem Sprint Tri and thought it was the perfect metaphor for what drives me, and probably most of us: to FINISH and to finish STRONG.

I recall a situation as a child, when I had done something maybe 90% of the way but had skipped some final step that would have taken something decent and turned it into something great. I can't even tell you the specifics of the circumstance, but I remember very vividly not feeling good about it or myself. As young as I was...maybe 10?...I decided that was not how I was going to be. From then on, every book report got a hand-drawn cover, and every country on the paper map was outlined in colored pencil before being carefully shaded. You get the idea!

Even now, give me something to do and it's going on a "list" and it's getting done in a timely manner and getting done right.

One way I manage this is that some things just never make it on the "list" and if they are never started, there is no pressure to finish!! One of those would be weeding, my gardens are a mess right now.

Exhibit "A". THIS is a weed.
But I've kind of been enjoying watching it grow!!

This idea of finishing completely and finishing strong translates to my training too. If a run calls for 10 miles, it will never be 9.8, nor 9.99, but it might be 10.01, 10.3 or even 11.  It probably won't reach 12 though, because then I'm slipping into "not following directions" territory and I used to get called out on that quite a bit in my earlier days of being coached.

This is much of what I find rewarding about work and training -- knowing I am FINISHING each and every task and workout completely and to the best of my ability.

And afterward? I get to cross it off the list! My hope is always to cross things off faster than I can add them. Lately that has not been the case.

If you can relate to this post, you would probably enjoy Big Daddy Diesel's post (from Active.Com) about Are you Addicted to Endurance Training? Many of the descriptions were quite fitting for me!

Get out there today and whatever you are doing -- FINISH....and FINISH STRONG!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Buttercup goes to the gym

I haven't said much about the gym lately but rest assured, I am still getting in there. Strength training is a year-round commitment for me, as are swim/bike/run.

It's not always easy to get in there, but I do it. Life has been full-tilt for me for the last week or so. With two trips, several new projects, and the kids home for the summer, the days are really jam-packed.

Yesterday started with an early-morning recovery ride and swim (coinciding with Spencer's swim team practice), then I sat down in front of the computer at 10:00 and hardly got up again until 7 pm. I was overwhelmed by a to-do list that was only growing longer and at 7 pm I still had not hit the gym!

Skipping was not an option but motivation was in short supply. So I put on my new "Suck it up Buttercup" shirt, "sucked it up", and hit the road. (Buttercup is my back to my first fibula fracture. I'm not sure how it started exactly, but I identify with her!)

I added some "redneck" to my Buttercup "mojo" for good measure and drove the truck to the gym! This baby used to be mine, back in the horse trailer pulling days. It's got 270,000+ miles on it, but I still love driving it! The hubs got a new-used car last week and had the truck cleaned up so now I get to drive it again.

Oh, back to the gym stuff.

I sucked it up and cranked out a nice back, rear delt, and bicep workout. Right now I'm in the gym twice a week, one of those is with Kurt. I'm focusing primarily on upper body work but there are some compound movements incorporated like squat presses. The second day is chest, shoulders, and triceps. Since my "hip-fail" in February I have not added a leg day back in, or, as I confessed to Kurt, abs either! With the involvement of the hip flexor, and things being so tenuous for so long, I just was not willing to chance it. And frankly, now that I am racing so well, I am hesitant to fix what aint broke in terms of gym routine. I am going to start adding some ab work back in this week but will probably leave legs out of it until the off-season. That's hard for me to do -- it makes me think of the guys you see in the gym who have these massive upper bodies and chicken legs because they neglect their legs! But I know, my legs get quite a bit of work on the bike and run so I am not too worried about it.

So there you have it, my current motivation method (haha) and strength training plan!

Time to wrap this up and go run, swim, and hit the computer again!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Race Report: Second at Bath County Sprint Triathlon

This weekend I raced in the Bath County Sprint Triathlon (my 18th triathlon) at Lake Moomaw near the Homestead Resort. To get there, you drive up a mountain, along a twisty, switchback road with no cell service (or 3G...ACK!) through beautiful National Forest and rural farmlands. Then fancy signs pop up showing that the name of the road has suddenly changed to “Sam Snead Highway” and golf greens and cart paths line both sides for miles. Welcome to Hot Springs, Virginia! Although golf is not my thing, this race and this lake are a favorite for the pristine water, gorgeous venue, and closed course.

I finished second overall, but with the top female bike and run times. The overall winner (and friend/pheonom/One-on-One Endurance teammate) Edie Nault, had an incredible swim and the second fastest bike and run to put her in the top spot with nearly a two minute lead on me. If that wasn't enough, Edie went home to come in second in the local 5K with a PR of 19:45!! Anyway, here are the full results along with splits, showing how I ranked among women, and then of course the men!
  • Swim (750m) - 15:39 (24/90 women; would have been 54/163 men)
  • T1 - 0:46 (2/90 women; 3/163 men)
  • Bike (20k) – 33:33 (1/90; 6/163 men)
  • T2 - 0:48 (1/90 women; 27/163 men)
  • Run (5k) - 21:03 (1/84 women; 8/163 men)
  • Total – 1:11:47 (2/90; 12/163 men)
My times in 2011 were: 15:40 (swim); 0:59 (T1); 36:11 (bike); 0:57 (T2); 22:36 (run); 1:16:55 (total). So my swim time was essentially the same while I shaved time off of transitions and showed big improvements on the bike (-2:38) and run (-1:33) and total time reduction of 5:08 (-6.67%).  One late addition - I've since learned through a credible source who apparently did his homework, that my bike split is the fastest female time ever for this course!! I'm thrilled with that!

I admit I was a bit more nervous than usual coming into this race. I was feeling pressure (my own doing) to match the performances of my previous two races which were big PRs over the 2011 versions. I needed to prove to myself once more that my new-found speed was not a fluke! Plus, Bryan Walsh, owner of Solar Connexion (an established and trusted solar contracting company) and a sponsor of mine, was on hand to watch the race so it was even more important to me that I put together my best race. (I'm sporting the Solar Connexion temporary tattoo on my arm as I try, unsuccessfully, to "out-gun" Edie!!) I'd had a hectic week that included a three-day work trip so I was feeling sluggish, but what do you do but suck it up and go!

My goal in the swim was to go out more aggressively and swim behind some fast feet. It was a large wave and I found a few sets of feet that seemed to be the right “speed” for the majority of the swim. At the final turn buoy, I cranked it up a notch to burn up what upper body energy I had left in the tank as I headed into the boat ramp. It seemed like I'd had a strong and straight swim and I sensed it was somehow decent. I am always so happy to get out of the water and run to my bike. That is when the fun really starts for me!

Geez I look scary here!
(photo by B. Jennings)

The course is an out-and-back, rising about 500 feet to the turnaround (see Garmin file). I do the shoes-already-clipped-in mount, and as I worked to put my left foot in, my shoe came unclipped and it was dangling from my toes! I got it re-clipped and my foot in; crisis averted. I focused on squeezing out every possible bit of speed and passing whoever was up ahead of me. On the way back, I played “leapfrog” with fellow One-on-One athlete Joe Hoff.  He’d get me on the downhills; I’d catch back up on the flats and uphills. We must have passed one another a dozen times and I was a bit worried I was annoying him, but what can you do? We talked later and were both convinced that we pushed each other to race a bit harder there.

As I rolled up to the dismount line, someone shouted “three minutes” at me. I wasn’t sure if that meant I was three minutes back from the leader but I guessed so. I had this little moment of thinking “this is what it must be like to be a pro triathlete” to have people telling you where you are relative to the leader!!

Heading out to run
(photo B. Jennings)
Somehow my run number got stuck on my bike helmet as I grabbed it. I just pulled and the bottom (unnecessary) part ripped off at the perforation, freeing it, so I could go. I’m still racing sockless so I saved a little time there slipping on the fast yellow shoes!

The run starts by testing the legs with a little climb and I found that mine felt quick and responsive. I settled into a steady cadence and rhythmical breathing pattern and set out to start passing folks, one-by-one. That's racing!! The Garmin beeped and showed my first mile was sub-7 and I was pleased (see Garmin file).

I saw Edie coming up strong from the turnaround and it was clear she had a significant lead on me. I did some quick math and knew that unless something very out of the ordinary happened, I was probably not going to catch her with less than 2.5k left. It’s not to say I didn’t try! As I came through the turnaround, I looked to see who was behind me and I saw NO women. In fact, it was a long time before I saw any women -- the third place finisher was nearly 9 minutes back!

I received a lot of encouragement from runners headed the other way and that always helps to put a little extra spring in my step. I'm so glad for that, and wish I could say so, but the best response I can muster is a small wave of the hand and the occasional high-five (that went to Justin Hendrix). I crested the final uphill then went full throttle down the hill and into the finish chute.

My splits show as 6:54; 6:46; and 6:23. I think I am getting the hang of this negative split stuff!! I finished happy knowing that I’d put in a solid race.

Post-Race reflections
I’m satisfied with my bike, run, and transition efforts. I was asked where this season's breakthrough had come from and I attribute it first to Coach Jim and a tailored training program fine-tuned over three+ years together. I hold up my end of the bargain and am consistent and focused with my training. I’d add to that a healthy, happy body and legs; higher bike mileage coming into the season; improved bike handling skills; race wheels; racing at a lighter bodyweight; and perhaps even the 6-week “break” from running contributed in some way.

This breakthrough has also has taken BELIEF in myself and that I can and will improve, and having a coach and others who believe that and remind me often too.

On the flip side, I'm bugged by my lack of results in the swim. My times have been coming down in the pool but I have not yet been able to translate those gains into open water and/or the race. My gut tells me I need more regular swimming in open water so I am going to make it a priority to get that in. I do believe my swim can be improved and it's a matter of figuring out how.

Results aside, I am always grateful for the opportunity to be out there swimming, biking, and running and to do so in beautiful places surrounded by friends. I never lose sight of that!!! I reach my potential when I train and race with a humble and happy heart.

home stretch! (photo B. Jennings)


The list is long!!! Thanks to Coach Jim, my family, Kurt, my sponsors and supporters including Bryan Walsh of Solar Connexion, Hyperion Consulting LLC, and Endurance Films. Thank you to my friends and teammates who form a supportive and endlessly entertaining community of endurance athletes!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Horses, Triathlon, and a Meet-Up

I met up with my triathlete Facebook friend Kristin from Ohio! We only knew each other online, but she and I have similar pasts, coming from horses to triathlon. She was passing through town and one quick wall comment led to an in-person dinner meet-up. (See, I do eat out sometimes, especially when I am in one of my insatiable-appetite phases. Which is most of the time, but definitely right now.)

We talked about the all-consuming nature of horses, not to mention the crazy expenses!! At least in triathlon, bikes don't need to be boarded.

Earlier in the week I rode my bike up in Charlottesville, Virginia, past the Barracks, Foxfield, and other famous show barns and horsey areas. For all the manicured arenas, barns, fields, and pretty painted jumps, I never saw a horse being ridden, but I probably saw half a dozen people on bikes.

On my ride I had a flashback to my Pony Club days when I was probably 14 or 15 and had to design and write an "interval training" program for my horse. I distinctly remember having no idea of what interval training really meant or what was behind it and thinking this was the dumbest thing to have to do.

I went down to the basement and darn if I didn't still have the thing in a box of Pony Club keepsakes! This was from 30 years ago!! As a kid, we didn't do interval training with our horses, we just rode. I think I knew enough not to jump two days in a row, and knew my horse needed a day off a week but that was as scientific as it got.

Fast forward 30 years, and I finally get it! Interval training does work, but it took a coach writing it and me doing it to appreciate the benefits.

It's funny what comes full circle. It used to be the horse taking glucosamine and it's me. I used to worry about the horse coming up lame or colicky before a show, now it's me. We'd tweak the shoes to get the best movement - clips, bars, pads; now it's me needing just the right heel drop, arch support, and flexibility.

Horses taught me a lot about patience, perseverance, and heart. But as I sit here procrastinating (blogging) when I should be packing and getting my head into Saturday's triathlon, I'm glad it's only ME I have to pack for and not the horse, trailer, feed, equipment, and accoutrements!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Low-tech workout notes

For as high-tech as we tend to be as a group, sometimes it's hard to beat a dependable low-tech solution. I was reminded of this over the weekend when I had a more involved double-brick workout and naturally grabbed for the Sharpie. An arm is a perfect portable clipboard! I discovered later in the day my One-on-One teammate Justin had done the same thing for his. I suspect most of us have relied on the Sharpie at some point.

And what would we do without the trusty waterproof ziplock baggie for swim workouts?!

That's not to say that I don't utilize technology too. I take full advantage of the programmable workout feature of my Garmin devices, but for anything complicated, the supplemental Sharpie is warranted. I like the combination of the high-level "arm view" and the more detailed "technology view".

I've seen cue sheets zip-locked and taped to aerobars, notes on sports tape on bike frames, and inspirational messages written on water bottles.

Are there other good techniques I have missed?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Some workouts should be a bit scary

Several times a month, I have workouts on the schedule that I find a bit scary. GOOD scary. They often involve defined goals for time, pace, intensity, or number of repeats. But sometimes the pressure comes primarily from me.

Yesterday I had a run that included a 20 minute segment at threshold. It was scary because I had an aggressive pace in mind that I hadn't yet produced in training. I did it, just barely, and not without some sustained suffering. This post-run picture doesn't do justice, but the sweat was pouring off my red face and dripping down my legs!

These "scary" workouts are an opportunity to build confidence and toughness as we come face-to-face with suffering. Then on race day, we get to hang out with "suffering" as an old friend rather than as a distant acquaintance.

Here are some of my favorite "scary" workouts:
  • Double brick ride-run-ride-run that includes time in the second run spent below 5K pace. You have the whole workout to wonder what you will have left to cash out!
  • 30 x 50y swim on a very tight interval that may have you leaving the wall just as you get there.
  • Speedwork on the track with time goals to meet/beat
  • Threshold runs
  • Hill repeats - the scary part is not slowing down or losing steam as the repeats mount.
  • Any time trial -  there's a lot of pressure to "win" when going up against your previous self!
  • Long marathon prep runs with late intervals below marathon pace
  • Negative split runs that call for meeting/exceeding a specific differential between the two halves (I go out too fast)
One of the major pluses of having a good coach is getting appropriately scary workouts that work well with the way we are individually motivated.  Frankly, I would be way too soft on myself. Some of the things he puts out there I think are crazy until I discover I can do them, and then what an awesome feeling!

If you want to arm yourself to tackle race-day demons and doubts, be sure to have some "scary" workouts planned. Ratchet down your time goals, add something hard at the end of a workout, or reduce a rest interval. Prove to yourself how tough you are before you get to race day!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Yellow Shoes visit Lake Erie

I got a nice run in this morning on Lake Road, which is oddly enough, right along Lake Erie. It seems the Cleveland area is not just cyclist-friendly, but runner-friendly too. A lot of houses had cooling water misters going along the sidewalks I'm sure expressly for the early morning runners like me. That was very thoughtful! One downside I noticed with all the manicured lawns and gardens (and security signs and gates) was one would have very limited options should "nature call" mid-run. That's certainly not an issue where I live.

This is one of the quaint little bungalows I ran past along Lake Road. They don't have much in the way of backyards with all that lake in the way so they probably go cheap.

The last time I ran up here was two years ago, but I can still remember the exact podcast I listened to that day - it was an Endurance Planet episode on Marshall Ulrich! I also made the same wrong turn coming back into the neighborhood that I did then.

I felt pretty good today, after yesterday's bike ride. I think the cross training I added helped. I swam with these monkeys:

and I did some trampoline-assisted "plyometrics":

We don't do a lot of sitting around up here!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rocky River Metro Park Ride

My double-IM nephew Evan and I hit the roads of the Cleveland Metro Park today around 9 am. He was not so enthusiastic about my suggested departure time of 6:30 am and vetoed that. The narrow park is pretty cool as it snakes around the outskirts of the city and provides a running path, bridle trails, and great views of the Rocky River. We started west and went south!

Evan explained that it was pretty much one road through the park. Thanks to my bad habit of preferring to ride at the front, as I'd approach an intersection I'd look back for confirmation....and he'd say "straight". This went on for a while - I'd look back, he'd say "straight" - before I finally caught on. Straight. OK, this I can do.

Evan was in DC on an internship all spring and didn't ride much so I appreciate him riding 46 miles with me. Youthfulness can carry you far, but only to a point. On one section (maybe after I had my caffeinated gel and POSSIBLY surged), he said he almost had an "English Muffin reversal" (his pre-ride breakfast). I had fun on the flatness of it all, but the road surface was pretty rough in places and it took some vigilance to avoid the potholes and tire-eating crevices.

I did notice that people in Ohio are very friendly. One passenger took the time to stick his head out the window and very articulately and with rather impressive volume share a succinct compliment about my gluteus maximus region (I'm paraphrasing). He was clearly passionate about fitness, LOL.

The picture above was the coolest part of the river. You can't even see the river behind me, but it has this impressive shear cliff leading up to a busy road on top. It's such a juxtaposition of nature and urbanism.

I'm so glad I had this opportunity to ride with Evan as fellow triathletes!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Quick blog post before I head out of town

I should be packing and not blogging...the kids and I head to Ohio tomorrow to visit my sister and her kids (yay!), with my parents joining us on Sunday for a meet-up and early celebration of my dad's birthday. The Teddy Roo is named for my Corvette-driving dad who appreciates speed and nice cornering ;-)

I have a quick track workout in the morning before we leave town. It was supposed to be a swim AND run but thankfully I moved the swim to this evening. For the weekend in Ohio, I have a long bike ride scheduled with my nephew on Saturday, and an 8-mile run along Lake Erie on Sunday. The rest of the time will be just hanging out on my sister's big front porch, playing games, watching kids on bikes and the trampoline, and enjoying!

I had an aerobic ride today and something happened to the Garmin. It must have been on since yesterday (since the ride was 6/7 but the date shows as 6/6) and it logged 144 mile splits that were a few seconds or so each, so today's ride data looked like the top picture until I fixed it, LOL!! Talk about speedy!

I rode to the truck stop by Interstate 81 at exit 128. That was where I met up with my Endurance Films teammate, long-haul trucker Siphiwe Baleka last September and I think of him every time I ride by there! There is something cool about being on a bike riding to or over a major highway.

I wanted to get this post out also to say a HUGE thank-you to folks for giving to my Team USA fundraising campaign. Here is the listing of Sponsors and Supporters. I am more excited than ever and really focused and fired up for the big races this year. I had my first anonymous donor today (thank you HL) which really took me aback. With that, the campaign is at $540 of the $2000 goal. With four months to go (wow, it used to seem so far off, not anymore...) I think it's off to a good start!!

Just as a point of information about how expensive this venture will be, we just found out that the registration fee for Worlds is $380! That must be SOME tshirt we get for that!

I'm training hard and training smart and doing my best to earn the support.

I'm sure I'll check in from Ohio. Have a great Friday everyone!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The value of "team" to a triathlete

Triathlon may be largely an individual sport but there is plenty of value in being part of a triathlon team, club, or group, whether formalized or not. It can really enrich one's training and racing experience and expand one's connections to the larger community.

Teams can come in the form of an organized group. The Endurance Films Racing Team is one such team that I am very pleased to be a part of. What made me think about it as I write this was this post that popped up on Facebook from EF. It made me laugh as the transitions DVD really did help, but it was the fact that they noticed my transition times that I found funny!  But more so, it reminded me of the tremendous support network I am fortunate to have among my EF sponsors and teammates. They help me dig just a little deeper!

Last month I did a post on the EF blog called On Being an Endurance Films Racing Team Member. I wanted to address the obvious question of how can we really be a team if we are such a diverse group in so many ways especially geographically? But I assure you we are. If you are a triathlete who will be competing at Nationals this year and have the desire to share your triathlon experiences with others, I hope you will consider applying for the team.

Online tools can enable a sense of place or team as well. I've recently become a part of the USA Triathlon Mid-Atlantic Region Women's Commission and am doing some admin for the Facebook page this month. If you are a female triathlete in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D.C. or West Virginia, join us on Facebook! USAT is such a large organization but small subgroups like this can give us a great way to plug and and connect.

I also feel a kinship among the community of triathlete bloggers including those on TriCrowd. I've often said I wish I could have a real meet-up with fellow Tri-Crowd bloggers Marci, Dave, Joel, Meredith, Randy, Mauricio, and Scott (and TriCrowd founder Juan). While that may not happen any time soon, I did have a real-life meet up with fellow blogger and RD-in-training Anna (and her dad) of Anna's Adventures in Health at the Salem YMCA Sprint Triathlon!! (Hi, Anna!!)

Of course this writing would not be complete without a mention of two teams that are very important to me: the One-on-One Endurance team all training under the same great Coach Jim; and the Roanoke Tri Club that works hard and plays hard and has been kind enough to invite this girl from one town over to be a part of their fun. 

Prior to discovering triathlon, my world felt small, a bit lonely, and isolated. Having small kids, moving twice, and then sitting in front of a computer working through a PhD program can do that.  One of the greatest gifts of triathlon has been an expansion of my world far beyond the confines of work and family. I treasure the relationships that have come from the sport, and all the laughs and smiles that have resulted!

Search out some team and group opportunities (or start one) to amp up the triathlon fun!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Race Report: Win at Salem YMCA Sprint Tri

This is just the second year for the Salem YMCA Sprint Tri - 300y swim, 15k bike, 5k run. It's close to home and the local tri community turns out to race, volunteer, or watch and cheer making it a very nice event for newer triathletes and kids especially. A tremendous amount of work goes into putting on this triathlon and I expect it to continue to grow and draw more participants.

It was the maiden race for the yellow shoes and it turns out they really are pretty fast! They ran me through the finish chute over seven minutes ahead of the second place woman to a solid win. 

I finished in 51:46, shaving 6:10 off off my time from last year, and beating all but five men out of 196 racers (some of whom are threatening to replace the term "chicked" with "Corted"!).

The time reduction is the part that gets me really excited because as we know we are really racing against ourselves. Placing is more a matter of who shows up on race day.

There were time improvements on every segment but the majority was of course on the bike - 1:42 and run - 3:53. The run course had changed this year and I was not running with tendonitis or any other issues so that was a big part of it. This 5K is another new 5k PR for me!  Full results here.
  • Swim (300y) - 5:20 (8/84 women; would have been 47/111 men)
  • T1 - 0:44 (1/84)
  • Bike (15k) - 24:23 (1/84; 5/111)
  • T2 - 0:37 (4/84)
  • Run (5k) - 20:44 (1/84; 11/111)
  • Total - 51:46 (1/84; 6/111)
One-on-One athletes Kim, Jennifer, Tanya, and I all made top six!
It's so much easier doing a race for the second time. I knew the pool closed pretty early for warmups so I got a good session in, then I sat in the sauna to "pre-heat" until it was closer to go time. It was a quiet escape from the collective nerves of the racers.

50 degrees pre-race, I was cold and bundled up!

It's no secret I am not a fan of the pool swim. This year I actually worked on my snake-swim turns. Unfortunately, it seems I practiced them all in one direction - the wrong direction! I need to get comfortable doing them with my left arm touching and leading; I'm very right-handed.

I was seeded 52 based on my submitted swim time (1:35 per 100) which I knew was conservative but turned out to be too conservative. I passed two people then hit a double-body-logjam and actually had to stand up and pause for a bit before swimming past both of them. It didn't rattle me. I felt strong and confident on the swim and exited quickly up the stairs to transition.

I felt good but not great on the bike. I glanced at my Garmin and saw my HR was in the low 160's. I know Coach Jim says not to worry about that stuff but lately I've been getting it to the mid and upper 160s on hard efforts. I shook off the concern that I was somehow not working hard enough and just gave it all I had at the moment. The ride was over FAST and I'd only thought to drink once out there. Next time I'm only filling the bottle half way - no sense hauling what I am not using.

This was my one-year anniversary with the QRoo bike! Happy Anniversary Teddy Roo!!

I've been training sockless for the past few weeks and this is my first sockless race, saving me a bit of time in T2. I had no problems. The 5k run is a two-looper with a short but fairly steep up and down on each. My friend Michelle was cheering at the turnaround and that helped enormously. Never underestimate the power of some loud encouragement! My stomach hurt for the entire run (a first) so I just tried to stay relaxed and ignore it, trusting it would not develop into full-fledged cramping or worse. Thankfully it didn't and I even set a new 5k PR for myself, besting what I did last month.

As I approached the finish I heard the announcer say something about the "first woman across the finish line." That felt good as I knew there were a fair number of women ahead of me in the pool, but with this race format, one never knows till it's all said and done. I got some high-fives as I neared the timing mat and crossed over knowing I had given it what I had on the day.

Post-race I got to catch up with the Roanoke and Blacksburg area friends and enjoy the absolutely perfect day under the sun. It was hard to sit still from the post-race adrenaline and I felt like I could have/should have knocked out a 10 mile run or something just to calm myself down.

There is not a lot I would change other than some things related to the swim. This race affirmed that the training process is working, that progress is continuing, and that the Smith Mountain Lake race  was not a total fluke. Coach Jim said something a few weeks ago in an email about "staying the course." More than ever, I need to stick closely to the plan, pushing when required and holding back too. I need to stay healthy and hungry and continue to let the speed, endurance, and toughness just come as I head toward the big A races of Nationals and Worlds.

I want to end with this great time-lapse video of the transition area by Casey Mills. It reminds me of a colony of insects - we are all so busy-busy!!

Next up, Bath County Sprint on June 23! Thanks to ALL of my sponsors and supporters including Solar Connexion, Hyperion Consulting, Endurance Films, and of course to my family and Coach Jim!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Saving up my stir-crazy

It's race eve and frankly I'm going a little stir-crazy. I did about four hours of computer work early this morning, went on a 12 mile bike ride with the kids, took a short nap, packed (ugh so much crap for an hour race) and have been doing very little since.

I debated a trip out to get flowers for the few pots I have around the house that are still shamefully vacant at the start of June.

But instead, I decided to sit around and save up the energy, hoping for a pressurized can of "stir-crazy" I can pop open tomorrow at the appropriate time.