Sunday, November 30, 2014

The WIN of Not Racing a Race

On Thanksgiving morning, Grant and I did the Drumstick Dash 5K in Roanoke, VA. It was our first year at home in Virginia for the holiday, so this was a new race for us. I was surprised when my 12-year-old Grant (yes, I am aware he is tall) agreed to go with me and I was further surprised that it was no problem to wake him up at 7 am on a non-school day!

This event drew 13,000 participants and raised money for the Roanoke Rescue Mission. It amazes me that this race in our small neighboring city is bigger than the Pittsburgh Turkey Trot that I've raced the last few years. Incidentally, in 2013, 870,000 people joined in Thanksgiving Day races, running 3.4 million miles (source: Turkey Trots by the Numbers, Competitor Running)!

Grant and I contributed 6.2 miles to the 2014 tally.

Grant was looking a little less enthusiastic at the race start.

I got a little choked up at the start of the race as I thought about sharing this beautiful morning with my son, thinking about the 300+ families that spent the night at the Rescue Mission, and feeling thankful for so much.

We lined up in the middle of the crowded pack. Grant was ready to sprint with his soccer goalie fast reflexes, then at the sound of the starter's pistol we took off at a...walk! He said "well that was rather anticlimactic!"

The pack thinned a bit and we could finally run, and as we did we fell into conversation about race strategy, the buildings around us, and life. We were not racing. I let him set the pace. We ran some, walked some, and stopped for photo ops like the giant inflatable turkey:

While I would love for this to be a seed that grows into a future love of running for him, there were no expectations, just the moment we were in.

Confession time. I had to work to control my hard-wired competitive and need-for-speed tendencies.
  • We got passed. I do not enjoy being passed at any speed. (My mind would be yelling, "Just so you know, I am NOT racing you!")
  • It is hard to resist pouring it all out and sprinting through the finish. But resist, I did, and we finished side-by-side.

My self restraint paid off. After the race, Grant said, "I'm not ruling out doing another one."


With plenty of energy remaining, I went home and ran another 7.5 miles around town in my turkey suit.

I got a lot of thumbs-up from motorists, I passed some guy on the sidewalk who laughed his head off, and the customers in Waffle House waved. I had a good time!

I made USAT's Thanksgiving photo this year. That's me in the bottom left in my Solar Connexion kit!

And in other off-season training news:

I continue to enjoy unstructured training. With several trips on the calendar for November/December, some extra family things going on, weather uncertainties, and the holidays, it's been really nice to have flexibility there.

I took most of November off of swimming but got back on the Vasa Swim Ergometer. I'm back at the gym, and doing essentially one training-type thing per day with one day off per week. Nothing too notable aside from a random 15-mile run I did yesterday, just to know I could do it.

That's all from here!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gear up for Winter Cycling

We've had a major cold snap here in Virginia, but I have come to realize how important it is for my sanity and well-being to get outside on a regular basis no matter what. Tuesday morning was absolutely beautiful - clear and sunny. My bike beckoned me. But it was also cold and windy. I was just not at all excited about the prospect of the bike trainer.

I've cycled in temps in the 20's before with no problem so figured with the right gear I'd be OK outside.

And I was!

I got in a nice 20-miler and was quite comfortable, aside from my finger tips getting a little cold when I rode into the headwind. This is what I wore: beanie under helmet, neck gaiter (KEY piece), tank top, arm sleeves, long sleeve shirt, wind-resistant insulated cycling jersey, cycling tights, socks, neoprene shoe covers, and two pairs of gloves. The reason for the arm sleeves is I was already dressed and decided I needed a little more on my arms.

In addition to dressing appropriately, stick to sunny routes and flatter, more rolling courses that avoid the extremes of sweating up a hill and freezing down!

Don't let the cold temps keep you locked inside! Get the right gear and get outside!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Race wheels are off. It must be the off-season.

The race wheels are off, the transition bag has been put away. I am reporting in from the secret underworld of the "off-season!"

Nearly two weeks in, I have been oddly at peace doing very little. I have had no urges for epic adventures of years past like solo century rides. I'm OK with not having a plan and structure! This is how it has shaped up:

Week 1
I basically did nothing aside from one on-purpose walk and sleep-running the PI miler race. Saki and Trixie provide daily reminders of what it means to relax.

Week 2 
I woke up and decided what I felt like doing. That amounted to one spin (to watch new Portlandia episodes), one swim (to get back with the group), one run (on the Blacksburg High School cross country course after dropping kids off), one bike ride (commuted to town for a meeting then tooled around).

Week 3
Will be a general continuation of Week 2. I will resume with the swim group where we are spending November working on strokes and turns which should be fun!

Through the End of December
Coach Jim used the word "transitional" to describe the period through the end of December. I like that word better than off season.  Rather than a shut-down, it's more akin to a "palate cleanser!"

Whereas previously I was very impatient to start building for the next race season, this year I know my body, and even more so my brain, need a recharge. They will get that during this transitional time. Although the whole of my training and racing season was only five months long, it was extremely focused and intense with the lingering question of how the run would return.

Looking back on my now five full seasons of racing, I see that I do best when I can start up the season with that high energy and drive like I had in May. And I see that I can ramp up fairly quickly and don't need a 12-month season. So for now I plan to play a lot, and not let thoughts of racing creep in...

....except for the traditional Turkey Trot / Drumstick Dash on Thanksgiving. But that is in costume so it counts as play :-)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Race report: Time Traveler PI Miler

Last night (this morning?) I ran the first annual Time Traveler PI Miler put on by the Science Museum of Western Virginia. It started at 1:50 am so that with the time change and setting clocks back an hour, we could finish before we started. I finished in 22:10 at 1:12:10 am, giving me a total time of -37:50 minutes!! How's that for a PR? (13/221 racers, 2nd female; Full results here)

My race week "strategy" included a taper of zero working out since the B2B race the prior Saturday plus a week of less-than-stellar eating capped off by carb loading with Halloween candy and beer the night before. I would not recommend this approach, but hey it was my off-season kick-off week and I took full advantage. I am cleaning up my act starting now!! (Yeah, yeah, off-season except for this little race)

I rode up with fellow crazy people Lynne, Carmel, Anne, Jessie (and TJ who took the photo below where we all look really warm and all our black pants look oddly grey).

...and I met up with other fellow crazy people including such notables as Nancy (top photo, left), for whom a 10-mile race that morning was apparently not enough for the day, Karen (top photo, in orange) who finds time as a 4th year medical student for her cute "little hobby" of Ironman racing including IMCHOO a few weeks ago, and Ron who has been known to sign up for (and race!) an iron-distance race just days before!

It was nice to be among other PI enthusiasts!

the parade of runners headed to the starting line!

It was really neat to do this out-and-back race on the Roanoke Greenway, lit up only by our headlamps and flashlights! It offered a quietness and peacefulness that you only experience in the dark. I didn't plan to go real hard, but I fell into race auto-pilot and enjoyed hunting down and passing the only other female I could see ahead of me (the winner was WAY far ahead).

The course was set up so that the turn-around point represented the edge of our solar system. Instead of mileage markers, there were signs letting us know which planetary orbit we were passing through! I kept wondering if they included Pluto or not, and I guessed not.

I felt my watch signal the passing of the first mile, but never heard the second. I kept thinking that second mile felt awfully long! Then when the watch went off, and I thought I still had a mile+ to go, there was the finish! Happy me!

In keeping with the Time Travel / Back to the Future theme, a DeLorian was supposed to be at the race, but ironically it broke down half a mile from the race, darn flux capacitor! It's OK, Dr. Emmett Brown made it there! He posed with 12-year-old Parker Albright and I. Parker was the overall female winner of the race, and I came in second to her, over 2 minutes back. Great job, Parker!

The best reward was the hot chocolate at the end of the race, which I am fairly certain was the best I have ever had. And that's not just because I was freezing cold. They also had PI in the form of giant Benny Marconi's pizza.

I would definitely recommend this race as just a quirky, fun, different thing to do! Great job, Science Museum of Western Virginia!!