Sunday, August 20, 2017

Luray International Triathlon: Seconds matter!

Yesterday I raced the Luray International, which was my first time racing there since 2011.  It's a popular and beautiful race in the Virginia region, drawing heavily from the DC and Richmond areas as well as from our Roanoke/Blacksburg corner of the state. The race includes a small pro field in an open/elite division.

Things started a little rough for me when something I ate on the way there Friday that did NOT agree with me. I "lost" most of my dinner and did not sleep well. Fortunately I felt OK enough when I got up the next morning and I was very happy to see my friend and training mate Janet (and her husband Gary) had made it to the race. They had traveled up the morning of the race after working very late the prior evening. They'd had almost no sleep!

I was super excited to finally meet Paralympian Patty Collins, who is also a coach with Team MPI. While I've worked with her for some time and we've communicated quite a bit, it's the first time we've been together in person!

I lined up for the swim with Janet hoping I could hang with her but she pulled ahead before the first turn! She is strong in the open water and just thrives in the swim.

Janet and me!

Lake Arrowhead

The water felt great and it was busy in the little lake, but not overly congested. I swam a 31:08 and came out just a bit over two minutes behind Janet on the 1500m swim.

I headed out on the bike and stuck to the plan Coach Jim had laid out for me in terms of target power and limits on surges. My legs felt decent but I was burping like crazy from whatever got me the day before. I eventually found Janet and Rebecca about halfway through the 26 mile course. I was happy to see I had the 2nd fastest female bike split among the age-groupers. I don't think it's a secret that I really enjoy the bike leg!

Gary and me in the same picture!

I came in from the bike as Gary was headed out on the run (or out for lap 2). The run was generally downhill out and uphill back on the two-loop course. It lulls you into a false sense of comfortableness in the first mile or so and then reality hits on the slog back up from the turnaround. On the plus side, my stomach settled in time for the run. It seemed like it was forever to start loop 2, then I got a second wind on the downhill and just did what I could to bring it home. It was not pretty and it was not fast. 

When I looked at results, I saw two master's athletes just ahead of me and was thrilled to see I snuck in as third master's. I was very surprised (and thought it was a mistake) to be announced as third overall. That's because the top five females were in an open/elite division, so the three of us were then top of the age-groupers.

The top three age-groupers were separated by just 37 seconds!! 2nd place started a wave ahead of us, so I wouldn't have seen her ahead as a target. Had I seen her 11 seconds ahead, who knows what would have happened. But, it's a good reminder that every second matters. [Full results here.]
  • 1st - Maribeth Malecki (age 53): 2:43:11
  • 2nd - Abigail Ruscetta (age 42): 2:43:37
  • 3rd - ME (age 50): 2:43:48

us master's athletes have wisdom and experience on our sides ;-)

I can't say I was feeling too positive on the hot, hilly, turn-y run. If you'd have asked me how I thought I was faring at that moment, I'd have said NOT well. It's a good reminder that we can't judge our own race while we are racing. Keep forging ahead to the finish and do the best you can with the conditions of the day!! You might just be surprised!

I look forward to cooler conditions in Rotterdam (remind me of that when I face the cold swim). 

Thanks to the best ever sherpa and photo-taker Bryan. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Salem Distance Run 10K: A return to my first-ever race!

Today I ran the 10k at 43rd annual Health Focus Salem Distance Run. It was meaningful because it marked my return to the VERY first road race I ever did in my life, the 2008 Health Focus Salem Distance Run, when I was 41 years old! I ran a 53:26 then (and a 47:51 today) and I have no recollection if it was the same or a different course. I do know if gave me an incredible sense of accomplishment and I was hooked. I've been running ever since!!

I found out that my friend Robin also made her road racing debut the very same time as me and she's also still at it! She finished 3rd overall female in the 5K.

Michael Wardian, the extremely talented marathoner and ultramarathoner from Arlington, VA, has been coming to this race for the last 12 years or so? (I missed the exact year.) His list of accomplishments is long. Last year he set the world record (total run time) for running 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days. He's finished 45th at Boston. He's gearing up for a 400k in the Gobi Desert. Anyway, it was super fun to see him there and I shamelessly asked for a picture.

He of course ran the 10K the fastest (34:45, a 5:34 pace!), took some time at the finish, and doubled back to help at the last water station, arriving before me, the runner, did.

Unlike many sports, professional runners and triathletes are so accessible to us recreational types! We share the course and the conditions, and the struggle is the same for all of us (their struggle is just faster and over with sooner!). There is nothing analogous in other sports like basketball, football, or soccer. Would (insert name of famous sporty person) come to your local (insert name of sport)? Michael ran the race, helped out on the course, then announced all the awards!

As for my race, I was pretty satisfied, running pretty even splits for the first 5 miles (7:30, 7:26, 7:37, 7:28, 7:32), then allowing myself to throttle back in the last mile (8:06) when I saw that first was way far ahead, and third wouldn't catch me. 47:51 isn't too far off what I've done historically (with the exception of my "anomaly years" of speed in 2012 & 2013, lol.)

I did consciously try to hold back a bit in the first few miles. I saw another female up ahead but just stayed within myself. The patience paid off as I caught her 4-1/2 miles in and held my position in 2nd. [Full results] Not too bad for being half a century old ;-)

I would highly recommend this race to others. The 10k is a nice/different distance and there are not a lot of local opportunities to run that. The course is interesting with plenty of turns and short hills. Turns were well marked with very large chalk arrows on the asphalt and there were plenty of course marshals. You could feel that the race organizers and volunteers had a great deal of pride in the race, the community, and their mission!

The race benefits scholarships in the health field and is well supported by sponsors. In addition to nice awards, they offered many nice door prize packages.

Following the race, I changed my clothes and headed out for a 26 mile bike ride, with several miles in a refreshing downpour.

It was a great day of training!!

Friday, August 4, 2017

44 Days To Go

I'm just 44 days out from Olympic Distance Age Group Worlds at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Rotterdam on September 17. Once our June travel was over, I really buckled down and resharpened my focus to do the right things to be as prepared as possible to have my best race. Coach Jim made adjustments to my training and without teaching and travel to work around, I have a bit more time for it.

Changes include: 
  1. Sleep - 10 pm bedtime - not always successful but not too far off. Of course at this stage of life sleep is hit-or-miss
  2. More mindful eating and food choices
  3. Stretching and rolling each day
  4. Gym/strength training 2x a week - so far, so good and I'm enjoying it!
  5. An extra swim and and extra run most weeks
  6. More open water swimming
The training volume is higher, I'm on the track more, and there's more tempo/threshold work (but balanced with aerobic/easy). 

Another change is that I've been doing more training with my friend Janet. We are in the same age group and have been swimming together for a few years now, but have been sharing more bike and run sessions lately too. We are a really good match across the board and are pretty similar in terms of strength, speed, endurance, punctuality, and attitude! She's a multi-Ironman and a phenomenal athlete and human!! July is always a tough month for me for training because of the heat and the mid-season blahs, but she's made it great!

As promised, I took July off of racing. This month I am doing two races. The first is the Health Focus Distance Run 10k in Salem, VA on August 12. This was the VERY first race I ever did in my life in 2008 and I haven't done it since. Then I'll return to the Luray Triathlon for the first time in many years to race the Olympic distance as a tune-up for Rotterdam.

I got the Team USA gear. This is the first year ROKA is making the tri suits (top photo) and it's always interesting trying to figure out fit and sizing with a different vendor. At 5'7" and 130 lbs I ended up in a size large and it still feels a tad short...go figure. It's a back zip suit and came with NO chamois and NO lanyard for the zipper. How do they expect people to unzip for the "necessaries?" Luckily I had a spare lanyard and while we could send them back to get a chamois added, I'll just skip it. I took it for a test brick workout and while it was fairly comfortable, it left me chafed. 

The kids start back to school on Wednesday - a Junior and a Senior!! It's been a great summer and I'm not ready for them to go back. 

It's not exactly been the restful, sit around, read books, relaxed type of summer, but I'll take it!