Monday, July 20, 2009

Marble Falls Triathlon 7/19/09

The coffee started to brew at 4 am. The camper was frosty and I slept pretty well. I had packed and repacked my tri gear 10x worrying that I would get to the campground and be missing something essential with no place to buy a replacement at Inks Lake. I had a small sports bra temper tantrum, ate my waffles and set out for Marble Falls. 30 minutes later we arrived in the dark. I immediately set out on my race day tri tasks, enjoying the industry of it all as compared to a running race where you just pace around and drink too much water until the gun goes off. We were there about 15 minutes after transition opened (perfect!) and I got a great spot on the racks. Right in line with the bike and run out, and with a lamp post, so I could zero in on it when I came out of the water like a dazed and confused swamp thing. Once I was all set up I grabbed my bib and went to the water to get my chip. There was a beautiful sunrise forming over the lake, to illuminate the swim course... good god. It was sooo far. Swim way out parallel to the shore, then arc back around the buoys toward the dock. Both standing in line for my chip and at the swim wave start I spoke to two other ladies who looked nervous and said that this was their furthest open water swim. That sort of calmed my nervousness a bit, but it was reignited when I was scanning the racks for a bike with down tube shifters... nada. Lots of aerobars, and some superstuds warming up on their trainers (ya don't see THAT at the Danskin, lol) but no one else with downtube shifters. Oh well. Work with what you got.
I was the second wave and we hopped in the lake for a deep water start. Well it was deep where we started but only like 4ft where we got in.Good thing I didn't do my Rodney Dangerfield Cannonball (it was soooo tempting) Ooof. Just like that we were off, and my open water swim panic attack began. I'm really contemplating getting hypnotized or something so I don't freak out on the swim. I do it every time. It's so lame. I am a freakin fish. I love the water. Anyway, I was getting really short of breath and flushed in the face, so I dog paddled and talked myself off the ledge. I gave myself an ultimatum (you have until the first buoy to get your shit together) and outta nowhere a mantra came to me (from Dr. Dre's Nuthin But a G Thang:
It's like this, and like that,and like this and uh
It's like this, and like that,and like this and uh
It's like this, and who gives a f*ck about those
So just chill, til the next episode

I had my mantra, and started cranking along, I also realized I could sight while swimming using the powerlines, and began moving up in my wave. Just when I'd make some ground, some dude from the wave behind me would get all ironman and try and swim over top of me (good luck dude, I float) but I had Snoop and Dre and just kept plugging along. Around the last buoy I checked my watch... 16 minutes, WOW. I'm going to be outta the water early. Despite my freakout I was out of the water in 23:33. I knew this was the fastest I had ever swam in a race... AND I was coming in to T1 7 minutes ahead of schedule. I was not very composed in transition. I should have taken more time to put my shoes and socks on, and kind of floundered with my camelback and poof I was off. I mounted behind the line and didn't move my bike without putting my helmet on so I was good to go, right. Um, not really. See, I put my shades on my head under my helmet, so there was some sketchy riding out of transition (where there were plenty of spectators to watch me) as I removed my sunglasses from under my helmet and got them on my face.
The bike was pretty brutal. My quads were screaming on the first hill after the bridge. I settled in and had a snack. I was really enjoying the downhills and trying to focus on getting my heart rate chilled out. Between my swim freakout, my sunglasses incident and a shifting FAIL that popped my chain off the lil ring I was revving pretty high. Since it was 1990s hip hop day in my brain, I settled on Tribe Called Quest's "Award Tour" and was on my way. 23 miles is a long way on the bike. Because it was a smaller race (about 400) and I was already way in the back I was alone. I can understand why people who do the half and full iron talk about space madness on the bike. The rollers made it a bit more fun. I was so thankful there were clouds to watch and not a cloudless sky with a blazing sun. The climbs were hard, but there were also a lot of rollers where you could coast up the next hill. I was really trying to keep my pace above 13... but there were times when it was as low as 5, ugh. I also forgot to set the odometer on the bike, so I was going mostly by my watch. I wanted to be off the bike in 90 min. When it was all said and done I was back in 93 minutes but I considered it a penalty for my sloppy shifting and chain malfunction at the beginning.
Now for the run. I was actually excited for the run. My legs have been feeling so strong after the trail season, I was not dreading it for the first time ever. It was so cool and overcast I didn't bring my camelback, just a water bottle. As I ran past the finish I saw one of my trail coaches and he was cheering for me, that was pretty cool. It got me thinking about all my crazy trail runs and how much easier this run was going to be. No ledges to leap off of, no loose gravel downhills to attack, just one foot in front of the other. I was feeling good! Not shuffling along and making my marks. I'm used to running a trail 10k with one aid station at half way, so it was awesome to have mile markers at all 4 miles. Everyone was so supportive on the out and back run, even the other hard core racers were cheering me on (which always makes me think I look like I'm dying) and Tiger and Dixie were there too! One of the volunteers (a larger lady) told me "I'm gonna train to race with you next year! You go girl." That started the tears. My run pace was 12:45 which was slower than I thought it was I was giving myself 12 minutes to get from aid station to aid station, and I'm pretty sure that I ran a 10 minute mile in there between 2 and 3 which would be a super PR for both the road 10ks and tris for me. Then I was all alone, back in some neighborhood. No one to catch, no one to stay ahead of. In fact I contemplated a short cut, not really because I wanted to cheat, but I needed some moral support. I just plugged away, again getting choked up, I was on pace to beat 3:00. I had some numbers on a post it I stuck above my desk... 30 min swim, 90 min bike and 50 min run. Of course that run time didn't account for the additional .4 miles OR any transitions, so I was really like 10 minutes ahead of schedule... oh the running math. I never figured out how long it should take me to run .4 miles... (the answer is 3 minutes) but I did cross the finish line (with lots of cheering spectators, yay!) at 2:59:22!!!! PR swim pace/PR run pace not bad for a month of training. Of course being the racing nut that I am, I'm looking forward to meeting or beating that swim number in the splash and dash tomorrow ;)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

tri training: the cram sessions

So here's the deal, I'm totally over ambitious. I sign up for stuff that is way outta my league. After a two month layoff post 3m I signed up for a 30km trail race, before attending a single day of training group. After 3 months of trail running ended I signed up for a triathlon, leaving me 1 month to train. June 21 to July 19 ... no problemo!

I'm in great shape from trail season. I feel the best I've felt since starting weight watchers and seriously workin out. So now to the bike. My first ride was super. I hopped on the bike and zipped around my commuting loop. My next attempt at the bike didn't go so well, I rode with the Austin Flyers Cycling team on their "easy" "recovery" ride. It kicked my ass. I barfed. Had to drop back. It was like 103 out, so I'm a little embarrassed, but not too much. Since then I've been commuting when I can, riding the hills on exposition and balcones to get stronger for my tri AND to show those Austin Flyer girls what an E-unit is made of.

This morning I had a really crappy swim. It filled me with a bunch of doubts. Of course I skipped breakfast (by mistake)and the water was like 90 degrees (ew) but 1000m is really far, and the way my legs felt when I hopped on my bike to ride home... oooof. I have to say I felt better when I did the same 2 x 500m workout (just try to do the second one faster than the first) at deep eddy last week where I hit the a 2:30/100 m pace which is where I'd like to be on race day. But now I'm questioning my lap counting on that one because it was a pretty speedy pool swim for someone who until now has only been swimming (an untimed) 750m a week.

Despite my doubts in the pool and on the bike, I took my run to the streets the other day, you know the one when it was ONLY 93 degrees out, my legs felt amazing. I did my little neighborhood loop 3 minutes faster than ever before, closing in on 10 min miles. Very exciting. My gait was a hot mess for sure. Off the trail, its really weird to just run without hopping over stuff. But my legs were so strong!!! Everyone should do a trail season, it's so much more fun than slogging through weights at the gym. I haven't done a real bric workout yet, it's been too damn hot to set one up, but hopefully saturday I will ride to the greenbelt and get a nice trail run in. Then I will have a good reading on how my race will go.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tri training: 19 days to race day!

In case you missed it, my rest week is over. I'm training for the Marble Falls triathlon on July 19. My fitness is pretty high from trail running all spring (do we even bother calling it spring in Texas?) so I'm just looking to add some cycling and swimming. It's a 1000m swim,a 23 mile bike and a 4.4 mile run. Although I haven't been out there, and probably won't get the chance before the race, from reading the blogs of previous years' competitors it sounds like your typically hilly Hill Country affair. From scouring the results, it looks like a pretty fast field. I may have overreached a bit for my first longer-than-sprint effort, but hell, I do that all the time (hells hills, dirty du, ect.)
I rode my bike for the first time since pedal thru the pines on Sunday morning. I did a standard North Loop-steck-far west-shoal creek loop in about an hour. So 13.1 pace. Not bad for a first time out and no one to pull me along. To be anywhere but in the bottom 3rd of this race, I'm probably going to have to shoot for 15 mph pace on the bike. I've still got an impressive amount of pain in my shin from my trail running digger at Hells Hills, so I didn't really push the pace. I'm in the market for some new cycling shoes. I'm still using the same entry-level shimano cleats I bought to spin at the gym during danskin training in 2004. I'm hoping some wider shoes with a little more give will let my toes spread out and release the tension along the front of my shin. You gotta love how I will buy new shoes, but not see the dr and get an x-ray to know exactly what is going on in there.
Yesterday I went and ran at the Hill of Life. I'm pretty dedicated to keeping a good part of my runs on the trail, because let's face it, I'm in the best shape of my life after the trail series and if it ain't broke, don't fix it! The run was dumb. I went at 5pm and it was 103 degrees outside. I didn't see a single person on the trail between Hill of Life and Sculpture falls. Again, I had some soreness in my left shin and was "taking" it easy, so I hiked the hill both ways and did a 5 min / 1 min walk run on the flats. I really wanted to get some bliss from running around in the woods, but its hard to accomplish in the ridiculous heat. Despite a bottle of HEED and a full camelback, I was still feeling a bit dehydrated when I woke up this morning.
Today is supposed to be my first "training swim." A competitive 1000m is a lot different from my slacker 750 workout at Stacy pool once a week. If the weather cooperates with me today, I'm going to do 2x 500m at Deep Eddy and try to establish some baseline swim times to be worked on for the race. I thought I was going to have a Pure Austin Splash and Dash between now and then, but I'm not, so I'm going to have to find a way to get some open water swim practice in before then.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Bluff Race Report

It was hot as hell last weekend. And the course was tough. In fact the course was made extra especially tough by race director (and my AWESOME coach). He had been out there building that thing since we started our trail series program in April. I guess some people had complained that his previous courses were not challenging enough, so he wanted to prove them wrong. Oh yeah.
The course was laid out in two out and back loops. The first was really quite easy, along the jeep road through the pasture and back. Easy to run too fast. A lot of people passed me on the way out there. Of course I passed em back on the way back through the creek bed (where our Bull Creek repeats paid off big time!!!) After burning up those 2 miles we headed over to the Bluff. It was nice to have some spectators as we passed through the start finish area, but mainly it was hot and dusty with lots of nasty technical terrain ahead. Even the pretty run on the top of the bluff overlooking the Pedernales was technical enough to require total concentration. I settled in with some ladies I recognized from Hill Country Trail runners and put in my work. The first drop down off the bluff in to the boulders was a fast hike with lots of climbing. At the first over/under obstacle I totally wacked the back of my head on a tree. The distance from this point to the first aid station was an eternity.
I get terrible data from my garmin (301 OLD SCHOOL) so for this race I left it at home. The last two races, where I knew the course a lot better, the distance reading was .5 miles off. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but its frustrating to show up at the finish line with enough gas for another half mile. On this stretch of the course I actually asked someone how far we were from the aid station. Since the pace was so erratic, and I couldn't actually run any of this, it was hard to calculate anything.
Having taken some HEED and running with my camelback, I didn't stop long at the aid station. Here I lost the HCTR ladies and tried to sort of go-for-it. I mean, there could only be 3.1 miles left, and at least .5 or .75 of that was jeep road. I was also inspired by some of the 30km leaders galloping past me. It was motivation to keep up with them to see how they navigated the terrain.
The second part of the course was more of the same. Tough technical terrain, lots of boulders and logs to climb over. Just when I thought to myself "That's gotta be the last ascent/descent I would round a corner and find another. I got a little nostalgic for the tough stuff and really wanted to get some space alone where I could get my groove on. With all the hiking and narrow trails, I had a lot more company and people running way to close behind me for my liking. I passed these really annoying people (classic road runner types who would later speed up on the jeep trail to pass me) and started to get some speed up. Back on the top of the bluff there was a lot more room to work, and I really enjoyed this part of the course. It was also in this area I caught a lot of the people who were passing me in the pasture at the start of the run. They were burnt out and walking back to the finish. Once I was on the jeep road, I was not slowing a bit. It was getting hot and I wanted it to be over. I was really starting to feel the heat and the burn in my quads from all the up and downs. I finshed really strong (despite the PISSED off look in my face and felt a great deal of pride for committing to, training for and finishing all three races (plus a 25km my longest distance yet!) in the Rogue Trail Series.
I had a great time after the race chatting with some of the others in my group and also cheering on our 30km teammates. I don't usually stick around for the post race festivities, but since were there and had paid for day access, we brought a cooler and floats and headed down to the river after burgers and beer and cheers for our teammates.
It was so wonderful to be floating in the river with a cold beer at the end of the race. My only possible complaint being that the river could have been a little colder. We drank a six pack and chilled out and headed back to town around noon. Another great race on the books.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

the bluff preview

It's freakin hot. Austin has skipped June and July and gone straight for August. The entire forecast has 100s on it. I'm still feeling fatigued from the Hell's Hills 25 km, but I dragged myself out to Reimers Ranch on Saturday to preview the tricky course in the third and FINAL (woot!) race of the rogue trail series: The Bluff.

I can definitely say I'm starting get burnt out on the trail. Probably because the group I train with is so hard core. My coach loves to dish out the tough terrain. I've had to pass on a few wednesday workouts because I'm concerned that running on the technical stuff on sore legs is a recipe for a real injury.

Saturday's run did not go well. The first part of the course goes past the parking lot through an open pasture. It's not well shaded, but it only 1.75 miles. When we ran it, it had not been weed wacked, so the spear grass was nasty and jabbing my socks and sneakers. I was dropped almost immediately, which doesn't bother me, except that some turkey locked the gate on the way back (it was an out and back) so I had to climb over the fence. My legs were stiff and tired and it was hot hot hot.

I got back to where we parked, and headed out for the rest of the run. It was quite pleasant running across the bluff with the breeze coming up of the Pedernales River. There were still a lot of rocks obscured by spear grass, so I was stuck in a fast hike tempo. When we dipped down off the bluff, I got lost. There seems to be a hiking path that runs along the bluff to access the climbing walls. It became more pronounced as I headed south, but I was long out of flagged territory. I was majorly irritated that I was climbing over boulders and not doing anything much that could be considered cardio or a trail run. I tried to back track but couldn't find a single flag. It didn't help that some of them were green, and very hard to see against the foliage. I never found my group, or the course. I went with my gut and hiked back past the rock climbers up the path back to the cars. From there I saw some flags and headed back out, hoping maybe I could run the course in reverse, see some more of the sweet terrain (I hadn't even gotten to the "tough stuff" apparently) but all I found was a dirt road with some flags. I got to an intersection and found my coach. All this time, I was thinking I wouldn't find the group because they had gone back out to the pasture for a second loop. I bailed on the run about 50 min in, certainly the others were done shortly after I gave up, lost and angry. That was not the case. They rolled in at about 90 min. That's 10 min slower than MY pace on race day and about 30 min slower than their usual race paces. The whole damn group got lost. Joe offered me the chance to go back out. It was getting hot. It was almost 11 by now, and I also had some sort of pollen burning the skin on my legs. I'm not well adapted to thistles and bugs and weird grasses and get a lot of skin allergies here in Texas. I opted to walk down the road to the river and rinse off before the ride back to town, rather than complete my course preview. Saturday I was really the worst runner I could be: crabby, tired, hot and aching. Talking with the group, I was bragging that I had not yet registered, and was no obligation to come back out there for the race, but Monday morning in front of my computer I sealed the deal. I hope on Sunday with appropriate dress (gaiters, capri pants ect) and some rest and icing I can complete the rogue trail series with a smile on my face.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hells Hills Race Report

After my pleasant long run at Buescher State park on Mother's Day weekend, I thought it would be cool to try a longer distance trail race. It had been my hope from the start of the Rogue Trail Series that I might be able to pull off a 30km by the end. I quickly learned that the best chance of this happening was at the first (and easiest) race The Maze. There's only so many hours in one's life to run and recover from gnarly technical trails and just like in road running (but probably even more so in trail) if you ramp up too fast you will just get injured. So by the time Hells Hills (aka the Rocky Hill Redux) came around I thought it would be a good opportunity to test my long distance legs on a course I had run before.

I set my time goal vaguely around 3 hrs and 35 min for this 25k trail run. Last November at the crossroads between the Freescale full and half marathons (I ended up at 3M in jan) I took a short detour in to the world of trail. I ran a few runs on the greenbelt and signed up for the Dirty Du trail run. A 12 miler at Rocky Hill ranch. I ran with two of my buddies who were having a "recovery" week after the San Antonio Rock and Roll half. They run MUCH faster on the road, so it's rare that we get to do an event together. It wasn't easy, but we sure had fun. Actually, we had so much fun they took the keg (New Belgium two below, not available in stores yet) "away" from us. There were scrapes and falls and twisted ankles and my infamous it-feels-like-I-am-being-stabbed-with-a-screwdriver pain, but we all finished in about three hours.

Fast forward to June 6, 2009. Hells Hills. I was feeling stronger and more confident after taming the ledges of the Loop, so I was looking forward to improving on my time on this familiar course. In my head it was alot of soft piney forest single- track path. In my head it was also November and 60 degrees outside.

What was NOT in my head was the nasty back half of the course. In the Dirty Du it was mile 8, for Hells Hills it was mile 11 but wherever it is everything from the last permanent aid station at Rocky Hill to the finish line sucks. It's got steep up and downs built for bikes and goats, not running, and a loooooong section of rolling hills. Before getting to all this fun there was also a mile or two I had not run before. Those miles were across a pasture in the back of the ranch. It was hot as hell. No cover. Just a big ass field and the blazing Texas sun.

I went out way too fast. I have a feeling that if I could get my mile splits out of my garmin and on to the computer for more thoughtful review, I have a 10k trail pr somewhere in there. I was listening to music, passing people, not fearing snakes, and generally having a grand old time. I have no idea who the fck I thought I was that I could run 15 miles at my 10k RACE pace. I was all about keeping my pace below 15min/mile (hey, its trail people!) Around mile 10 I started to realize this was not a good idea. While running the rollers on the jeep road I saw some guy just sitting in the middle of the path getting his zen on? Who knows. By now it was getting HOT and I was getting lapped by 50km-ers and maybe some 50 milers (who knows they started in the dark, two hours before I even arrived.)Despite my camelback water, a few cups of heed at aid stations and some gu packs I was starting to feel dehydrated (chills) and fatigued. As it had in my previous attempt the switch clicked, this was no longer fun, it just needed to be over. I needed to stop worrying about my pace and just do whatever it takes to get to the finish line ASAP. Another mile passed and then I was back in the woods. The mile after that actually took me by suprise as it clicked past on my garmin. Then running down a small hill of loose rocks I fell.

HARD. Lights out! OMG. I've gotten used to the occasional twisted ankle as a fact of life in trail running. Get up, get moving before it starts hurting and move on. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. Somehow throughout all this training (since April 1) I have not had a righteous digger. I have not emerged from the trail with a bloody knee. The universal badge of honor among trail teammates I had not yet earned. Oh sure I trip over stuff ALL the time. In my house, my office, on the trail, you name it. But my ability to catch myself before hitting the deck is bizarre. I attribute it to good balance from years of ice hockey and yoga, who knows... But on this particular Saturday I got my badge of honor. I fell. Hard. On my right knee and shin. In fact, given my size (large) and speed (downhill) I really don't know how I did not snap my leg right in half. I bit the inside of my mouth and my entire left side was throbbing. My shoulder, hip, knee and ankle. Oh jeeze. I thought about tears (hell no.) I thought about panic (a waste of precious energy) so somehow I manged to cling to a tree and get right side up again. First walk, then a trot. I was really worried I was so banged up that I would have to walk in the last 4 miles. It was too hot. No way. I need to get to the finish, get some ice and some beer. I kept telling myself "If I am running and walking I haven't broken anything," so that's what I did. I didn't set any new record or personal best and despite being certain I was dead last (I was not) I managed to get my butt to the end. Throughout those tough final miles in the blazing heat I was inspired by the 50km front runners. All who passed me offered smiles and words of encouragement. They were so fast, they were not suffering. It was inspiring. I made it to the finish, turned in my chip, hopped in my car and headed home for some R.I.C.E. Another awesome trail race was over! Not only had I earned my honor badge for my bloody knee, I had also run further than I ever had before, and at the end of the day, what could possibly be more satisfying than that? See y'all next weekend at the Bluff :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Loop Race Review

Another trail race bites the dust. I haven't blogged much about training lately. What is there to say, its kicking my ass! Hard! It's been a lot of cramming on technical terrain, which is hard on a girl's body. My knees are trashed. When we previewed the Loop course I knew I was in for a challenge. Lots and lots of rocky ledges. The training runs had been very challenging, hot and slow, so going in to the race I was careful not to set the standard too high, its not exactly an "A" race and also I'm looking ahead to Saturday and the Hells Hills rescheduled race at Rocky Hill Ranch. I'm running a 25k at the same place I did my very first trail run. I'm looking forward to running much much stronger and improving on my time and endurance.
Anyway. The race.
I got there around 7 am. I guess I just missed the 30km start and malingered around for a bit, wishing I had more coffee. In hindsight I am glad I didn't because hydration was key for this race.
I lined up in the back of the pack with the same people I had run with at the Maze. I was happy to see them there and was hoping for a pacer. That was silly considering I had run the course the weekend before. I kept telling myself, run your race, save it for the ledges. About a mile and a half in, I was the pied piper. I had a trail of about 8 run/walk ladies. I guess my strategy, to walk up the tough verticals and really pick up the pace in the flats was the ticket.
Walk up ledges, sprint flats, charge downhills and repeat. I was having a bit of trouble coordinating my drinking (which I usually save for the flats) with my sprinting, but I worked it all out. I drank some nasty (looked blue tasted GRAPE, blech) gatorade at the half way mark and pressed on. I was separating from the crazy pack I had accumulated and started running downhills and jumping off the ledges. I was really kind of having a good time, totally inspired by all the familiar 30k faces passin me by. One might think it would be demoralizing to be lapped but it actually gives you this awesome wave of superiority (they have another lap and I dont)that can get you through what I believe may have been the hardest 3 miles I have ever run. By the second half of the run, there's less tree coverage and more sunshine, and unlike the trial run, NO BREEZE. It got hot out there in a hurry. I was very thankful I drank extra water before the start. I kept thinking I was finished with the technical stuff. I'd say the last mile was a running monologue with myself about the hole in the trees where I'd cut the run short in practice. Once I got to that spot, I could really turn it on, and it's right up here, after this one last ledge, really, it's there, really, this time I swear, fer reals! Yeah, I deluded myself that the end was near. And it was. And my time was pretty close to my Maze time. Whoa! How did that happen? No idea. I ran through the trees and back around the parking lot to the finish really trying to hit the same exact time as the Maze. No dice. the... tank, and just like that it was over. Ta-da. 85 minutes. Only 4 min slower than the last race, but both times close enough together for my liking. And a 4 min difference between race times both with a gun start, not bad at all. I'm pleased with my unexpected success at the Loop and looking forward to a fun endurance run on Saturday. The Loop course was far more challenging than the Maze so I'm proud of the improvement in the flats.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

big girl yoga

I don't usually get on my soap box about plus size issues on this blog, but this ridiculous shit made me so flippin mad I wanted to yell.

Buddha Body yoga? Separate classes for overweight yogis? As a yogi with an intermittent practice that spans 10 years across a range of practices: Bikram teacher training to dog yoga in the park, and a variety of weights: from 140 to 200+. I can say if you are so self concious that you can't do yoga with a skinny mini on the mat next to you, you've missed the point of yoga before you've even gotten started. And maybe I practice in some utopia but none of the other students or teachers have ever done anything but offer support and community. We all line up 45 min early for awesome pamela and her awesome flow class. We all drink our tea stunned that we survived it, while feeling eerily relaxed and exhuasted. We've all got limitations... a shoulder that pops out, tight hamstrings, short arms and legs, obesity is no different.

I'm still tipping the scales far from my "goal weight" but I haven't dropped the 40 lbs I've already lost through speed walking, fat yoga and water aerobics (all recommended for the heavier set). I've lost my weight by working my ass off at the activities I love. Trail running, triathlon, hatha flow classes.

I'm not saying its not scary to meet up with a bunch of jocks with zero body fat that run 3x faster than you, or stand at a triathlon swim start in your swim suit and bike shorts (because they dont make cute tri suits for anyone bigger than a size 10) but by excluding yourself you let yourself be labeled, and if you want to do fat stuff, guess what, you are gonna stay fat.

rocks and ledges and snakes oh my

You know you are in the wrong place when your training group meets at a place called the "hill of life" Watching the mountain goat dudes sprint up and down the hill like its a suicide on a tennis court should really be a sign that you oughta run fast the other way. Sigh.
I didn't run fast the other way. I ran slowly, very slowly down the hill. So slow in fact, I got dropped before we got the start of our run. Then, as I proceeded across the dam all the high schoolers lit up cigarettes so I wouldn't smell their doobage. This leaves me puzzled, "When did I go from being the hot piece in the aviators and bikini with a joint in my hand to the overweight 30-something huffing (not puffing) through the woods like a cop?"
When I got to the starting point of the run (which I happened upon only because some late arriving members of our group showed me the way) my coach was shushing me. Puzzled I looked. Holy Shit! There was 6 ft+ long snake in the tall grass by the tree at the trail intersection. That was enough to get me outta there and started at a fast pace up the 3 mile loop.
The terrain on these runs is ridiculously harder. I probably had to walk 30% of my run because the ledges are just to hard to traverse. This hill of life stuff makes the dreaded loops at Walnut Creek (Marks Art!) look like the town lake hike and bike trail. I never saw a single person. I saw 3 more snakes. After my run at Buescher on Sunday and seeing the huge snake at the start of this run, I stopped listening to my ipod so I could listen for snakes because I'm pretty sure a snake will eat your kylie-minogue-singin ass!
The run was like last wednesday's run. Hot as hell, thru nasty terrain, and a loop on a hill. Uphill one way and down the other. My technical running skills have definately fallen behind since I missed the long run on Saturday. I will be making up for this by practicing on the Hill of Life tonight. Picking my way down the hill and walking back up it. Not really for speed, but just to get some mountain goat technical practice in before my long run on Saturday.
The whole second half of the loop I was angry and doubting. By the time I came upon my coach I was really feeling down, and asked him if maybe I should skip the race on 5/31 because I just wasn't ready for it. He said no way, you're not that slow and you just need more practice. I'll be used to it next week and ready to race on the 31st and he's probably right. The practices are harder, the race is harder, but if I put in the time it will be ok.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Buescher State Park

I decided to take my mom camping for mother's day. She wasn't really feelin it, but I had a great training run along the way. Buescher and Bastrop state parks are separated by a 10 mile park road through beautiful piney forest about 30 min east of Austin. If you've ever ridden pedal thru the pines, this road is the first 10 miles of the ride. It's a challenging bike ride, but as far as trail terrain is concerned, an easy run. In fact, if I were teaching someone trail running, I would certainly bring them out here.
With a trail head from the Lakeside loop at Buescher there are 7.7 miles of trails forming a loop with a few cutoffs. All the trails were built by the Sierra Club.
I left for my run at about 8 am. I would have left sooner, but I was busy cooking pancakes in the camper in the luxurious AC. I should have left at 6 am. Man was it hot. As I planned my run and reviewed the maps, I thought the Buescher loop linked to Bastrop park and I would have showers and restrooms at the north end of Bastrop State Park about 3 miles in to my run. WRONG! It occurred to me like 3 miles in, that this loop actually extended east from Buescher, the more eastern of the two parks and that I was not going to come up on the other park's facilities. It was a pretty, shaded easy run, well marked so I just plugged away enjoying myself. I was going back and forth between one 7 mile loop or 2, again torn between the 10k training and 30k training. Figuring the terrain was easy, and I had all the time in the world I would run 2 loops. I never saw another soul out there and I never really saw any trail intersections other than those that were obvious when I crossed the park road. I ran and ran, soaking wet with sweat. I was concerned about my water supply and figured one of these loops (which sure was taking a long time) would be enough.
When I attempted to close the loop and run by the pond (really the only reliable landmark on the whole run) heading for home I missed the turn and took another loop. OOPS! I'm always getting lost, so I didn't really freak out, but I had been pushing the pace thinking I was doing a shorter run that was almost over. 2 hours in, I had run another 3-5 mile loop, unable to find the pond again, crossing over the road and generally getting worried and disoriented (it was 90 degrees out with 100% humidity and 10:30 am by this point). After crossing the road (again!) and not being able to determine which crossing corresponded with the crossings on the map. I dialed back my pace and regrouped. I figured if I didn't find the pond again I would just start running down the road at the next crossing. I would determine my direction on the road using the direction of the sun as my guide. When I got to the road I was pissed and nervous. I was low on water and the prospect of 3 miles home on the pavement in the blazing midday sun in my trail shoes was not appealing but was the lesser of two evils (I was not running that damn loop by mistake AGAIN!!!!)
When I got to the road, I happened upon a road runner. He was all geared out and wearing a run tex jersey and told me to follow him back on the road it's about 2.5 miles. I ran for about 3/4 of a mile on the road and found the last cutoff to the Buescher loop of trails. I was right with the world and no longer lost. I tried to pick up the tempo (difficult because it was hot) to make up for all the stopping and starting from scratching my head and studying my trail map. The final 2 miles is through a big rolling field of wildflowers, beautiful and despite the heat I was loving the rolling hills, loving knowing where I was and loving knowing that I was almost home. It was a pretty morning, with a solid long run under my belt and a cold miller lite waiting for me in the cooler. Yay for me and yay for the buescher loop. I think I did an outstanding job of following the trail markings, and would have been ok with the distances in the loop if I had kept a steady pace OR brought my garmin, so I could match the distances on the map to the distances I was running. All in all, I am guessing I ran about 11 or 12 miles in 2 hrs and 45 min. I didn't stop my watch for map reading and reconnoitering, so I believe my pace was pretty swift, making my goal for the newly minted Hells Hills race in Bastrop on June 6 a realistic one. I'm hoping to do the 15 in under 3:30.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

plenty to talk about

I've resolved to chronicle more training runs here. If for no other reason than to have a journal to reflect upon. Yesterday's run has plenty of fodder. It was very hot. I downed an ecap before I left the office... just one, what could come of it?
OMG. I got so sick. First off, feeling good about my race time, I tried to stick with the group from the start. Bad idea. Of course, I ended up losing them like 8 minutes in. I'm a lot closer to catching them than I used to be, so I guess that is progress. I sort of noticed that my feet weren't taking instructions from my brain very well so I slowed my roll. The terrain was very challenging (rocky ledges behind the hill of life) and some that had to be climbed rather than run. I thought I had collected myself and had turned back toward "base camp" when I got really dizzy and my hands started to tingle. I slowed to walk, hating myself, because I HATE to walk in training. Hating walking, hating the heat and getting all riled up was doing me no good. I had to stop and sit on a rock, I felt like I was gonna keel over. When I stood back up I puked water (and probably ecap) everywhere. I heaved and heaved until I was out of liquid and with shaky legs managed to loaf on back to base camp.
I chatted a bit, asking my coach about ecaps and barfing and such and went out for round two. I was not giving up and I was trying to go slow enough to jog the entire loop. Yeah right

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Practice Hill of Life 5/6

I'm incorporating a heart rate monitor for today's practice. One of my post-Maze resolutions. The other being core strength (the dreaded post-run sit up session.) We'll see about that. It's supposed to be very very very hot today. Also I am going to start with the alchemy of hydration and electrolytes. I've got some ecaps, I will take a few and see if they produce any sort of noticible result. I'm interested in HEED, as it seems to be the drink of choice among the hard core (and I really don't like accelerade) but I'm not sure if I can get some samples somehow, there are several different flavors and I'm sure I will have to experiment to find one that works.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Maze Race Report

You know you loved your race when you sit down at your computer on Monday morning to look for more races. My first trail race was The Maze at Walnut Creek park on Sunday morning. I ran the 10k. There had been a thunderstorm the night before so the course was definitely sloppy. Rainwater rushed the normally gurgling low water crossings and the normally dusty single track was muddy from the rain. I was so relieved it wasn’t actually raining on us, I didn’t care. In fact, I thought the wet course made the park new and exciting which was good. I had done soooooo many training runs out there that it was hard to get excited for race day when it felt like just another long run.

It turns out all the course training paid off, and my coach’s race plan was right on the money. We had practiced all the technical sections of the race so many times, that when it was race day, my only imperative was to run it faster than I had before.
I was able to lock in a quick pace for the beginning of the race, having measured the weekend before that there was absolutely no excuse to shoot for any thing less than road pace for the first 2.3 miles. The first half of the race was a breeze. The gps function on my older garmin cuts in and out on the trail, counting forward progress as rest time, or not at all, so I arrived at the aid station ahead of schedule. Of course, I am a total dork and run with my hydration pack so the aid station was exciting because my mom, Tiger and Dixie were waiting for me there (with signs) yay! Of course when I came by Dixie tried to break loose and run with me, but Tiger kept the terror saurus tethered.

The second half of the course was much more technical (I knew this) but the sun was starting to come out making it a lot easier to see slippery mud vs. regular mud (yes, there is a difference). I was also getting lapped by 30k dudes several of whom were from my training group and it was fun to see their speedy familiar faces and cheer them on. I felt like I pulled away from the walk-run crowd and narrowed the gap between me and the pace of the runners from my training group as I jogged (instead of walked) up and down rolling hills along the power lines.

I still had a good bit in the tank so I ran hard through the woods, Mark’s Art (which had been my nemesis on several hot afternoon runs) flew by and before I knew it I was trying to take the short cut home after the main creek crossing. Had there not been a man with a cute dog at the intersection who actually stopped me from going the wrong way, I would have missed the Severe Consequences loop AGAIN as I had on every long run up to race day. Always trying to avoid those I guess.

I had blast back in the woods and still had plenty left in the tank. I was looking at my elapsed time and looking at my distance and wondering if we were running windy loop. I saw the fence by the swimming pool and was still puzzled, then I saw the finish flags and knew I was done. My only goal was to do it in under 90 minutes. I probably could have done it in less than 80 minutes if I wasn’t holding back for an additional .5 mile that didn’t materialize.

I certainly feel like I could have easily raced another loop. There were a few climbs where I was tired, but nothing that could not have been handled with another pass at the aid station on the next loop. More caffeine! I’m not sure I could have done 3 loops (my original plan when I registered) but 2 was totally feasible. My time was 1:21:44. Only 13 minutes slower than my road 10k PR. I believe it is an easy task to shave a few more minutes off my time in the next few weeks leading up to the Loop at Emma Long on May 31 (I easily stood in line at various creek crossings and muddy embankments for 2 minutes).
I’m going to run some longer runs to get my mileage up, but there’s always the issue of longer distances at reasonable speed… I am not going to run a 4.5 hour 18 miler.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

No complaints

I haven't been blogging about running, because all the blog would be about is how I am not running and I have this odd shin pain that won't go away. For starters, it is hard work to get to my weekly activity goals without the running. I pretty much have to do a hard yoga class OR swim hard every single day. No long run to burn all those calories in one shot. It's probably better, since I am doing all this low impact scuplty type stuff, always good to switch up the routine. Anyway, after reading rave reviews on the weight watchers message boards I purchased a "The Firm" dvd. It was less than $6 (shipping) included. It arrived yesterday in its plain brown wrapper and I popped it this morning for day 1 of the 5 day abs. Tiger read the box and proclaimed "Visible results in 10 workouts!" Sexy shirtless 1980s Ken-doll guy welcomed me to the workout where there were 80s ladies in legwarmers, brown aerobics tights and leotards, with ankle weights and sweatbands protecting fabulously feathered hair. I did a bunch of crunches with the lovely 80s ladies and then at the end,Ken-doll guy said "good job, see you tomorrow" I'm totally hooked. I can't wait to see my shirtless friend with the 6 pack again. The firm gets a firm endorsement from me!

Monday, January 26, 2009

3M Half Marathon Race Report

After nearly throwing in the towel with post-holiday depression, I came back from the time off strong to complete the 3M half marathon yesterday. It was an early cold start and I didn't find my friends until I got to the starting line. Just a lot of chilly runners pacing around in the dark. I wore my hat and gloves and a thermal shirt, which I had taken off before we left the arboretum. I started further up in the pack than I normally do, and was off to the races with a speedy first few miles. This was NOT my plan. My plan was to hang back and run 12 min miles and save my legs for the end of the race. Totally not happening. On the long downhills on Mesa and Spicewood, I would glance at my watch and see my pace steadily below 11 min miles. It was the same feeling when you are up at the slot machines..."I've got this much ... and it can do all these things with it." Consistently I was hitting my pace or exceeding it. Instead of pacing myself, I just used the watch and did the math. After the halfway point I could start calculating..."if I can keep this pace, even if I run 14 min miles for the last 3 I will beat my estimated time." That was entertaining, a little further down the road and slightly more tired and delusional my inner voice reverted to an oft quoted line in our household "It's still good!" It's in the Simpson's episode when Lisa sends Homer's BBQ flying through the air. He picks it up off the ground "It's still good. Just a little slimy" As I was running every time my pace would start to slip (like on that HATEFUL hill by Epoch and the Parlour) I would tell myself, "It's still good, just a little faster."
As I came to the 10 mile marker I came to a moment of reckoning. I was losing speed and becoming fatigued, but I still had 2:30 within my sights. When I came off my holiday training layoff and registered for the race, I was thinking I could be happy with 3 hrs. After a successful 8 miler and 10 miler I looked at my pace predictor which had listed 2:32, and at some point during the week I had boastfully told a running friend I was gonna beat 2:30. At mile 10, I was pretty certain that I was. Even if I ran 12 min miles (a pace I had not slipped to the entire race) then I would indeed. As the street numbers grew lower (51st, 38th, 26th, campus) I realized I could see the finish, it was NOT up another hill. I carefully tried not to look like a stampeding rhinocerous (which is always how I look when I try to pick it up for the finish) but stayed the course I had been on all day. And I did. 2:28 Ta-da! I'm sure the familiar downhill course (made of of parts of my usual tempo run) helped me too. Overall, my first half marathon experience was a positive one. I think it's a good strategy for me to line up with the 10 min milers at the start, I'd rather be pacing off faster folks in front of me than stuck behind the run/walk ladies at the back of the pack. Really my only regret was weather related, and purely beyond my control. I ditched my long sleeve shirt early, and I really could have worn it the whole time. The sun shined briefly on the Burnet rd. stretch, but retreated on North Loop and downright disappeared on Duval. It was cold and gray at the finish and I was getting a chill very fast.
I feel pretty good, minus a few random aches and pains, and have already started scheming on my next race, the Camp Eagle trail runs at the end of Feb. I'm thinking about a trail running training group and racing the Rogue trail series later in the spring, but for now I'm going to think about getting down the stairs at my office building and to yoga yoga in time for some gong therapy. Thanks to all my running friends and their own individual successes on the course yesterday. Namaste.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I cannot believe this..

So I rush home to get 3 miles in on the treadmill before a 7:30 yoga class. But I still had to jack with my ipod and by the time I was ready to run, there was no way I was making the class, which is cool, because I really wanted to run.
When I was putting on my running shoes, I noticed that my ankle was sore where my sock had been all day. On further inspection I noticed a HUGE purple bruise. I was puzzled for a moment, then remembered I had snapped the kick start from my motorcycle back against my ankle bone on saturday night. So 3 full days later, my ankle is f*cked. Totally weird. I blow it off and get on the treadmill.
I really suck at running on the treadmill. My normal turtle pace is like a minute SLOWER on the treadmill. Maybe I need to have someone watch me run? I don't know. I suck at the treadmill so I never run for very long. Last night was no exception. I ran for about a mile and the ankle really hurt but I figured eh, its a bruise, suck it up. After a half mile, my ass/hip area felt like someone was pushing on it with the fat end of a pool cue. Something from my ankle bone was irritating my hip and IT band. Lovely. I limped along for another half mile and called it quits after 1 mile.
Completely stubborn about sticking to my running schedule I suited up this morning to attempt the 3 miler again, this time in the cold. (32 degrees) It's hard for me to pass up an opportunity to bust out all my fancy technical gear and run in the cold. I can tolerate cold way better than heat and when I'm when I am sitting on my back porch in August, waiting for the temp to fall below 100 so I can go for a run, I will be glad I got my run in when it was 30.
I shuffled through the run. It felt great to be out in the cold, and I have already noticed an improvement in my lung function since I saw the allergist on Monday. With the pain in my foot I just couldnt get my stride to open up. I still had the throbbing pain in my ankle and the corresponding pool cue feeling in my hip but I pressed on enjoying the cold and the winter sunrise as I headed eastward, home. I'm going to put heat on the bruise today, keep it elevated at my desk and do some (seated) kundalini at home, in hopes that I can get it to behave and finish my last few training runs in before the race.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

back at it

So after shaking the doubts and demons created by holiday overindulgence, I got back to training last week. I neatly completed my 3, 6 and 8 mile runs. I'm also getting the hang of the Garmin. When it wants to it gives you pretty useful data. I can see my splits for each mile. I've learned to take the pace times when actually running with a grain of salt, since there can be a delay. It was actually this phenomenon that caused me to stop running altogether. You run up a hill and your pace drops to like 13 min miles, then you run down the hill and you are haulin ass and it still gives the uphill pace. I really let this get in my head, but now I am over it and I realized that it's right more than it's wrong. Like on Saturday, my feet were moving at the same speed, but the nasty headwind and long uphill run back home had me standing still. The half in two weeks will be downhill with a tail wind, so I feel like the brutal uphill run was good training. I took off pretty much from Thanksgiving to New Years so I've got to make the few runs I can squeeze in between now and the race as productive as possible. Having taken a break my legs do feel much fresher, I was wiped out from my long run, but no serious soreness in the usual spots (knees, feet and IT band.) Of course my lethargy could also be attributed to the record breaking cedar pollen count (11,000)!!!! I'm looking forward to each and every one of my runs from now until Jan. 25 when I run my first half marathon. I'm even looking forward to getting this race over with and having some unstructured time to do some mountain biking and some trail running. I really wanted to do a trail run for this weekend's 10 miler (Barton Springs to Sculpture, anyone???)but I am not willing to risk running this fun and easy half marathon with stabbing screwdriver pain in my foot like the last 3 miles of the dirty du.
Since I took the long lay off realistically, I shouldn't get my heart set on a particular time, but as a runner, it is my obligation to be completely OCD, sooooo I am hoping to run it in about 2:30 or 2:40. The course actually follows my Thursday evening "quality" workout course, then follows the route I take when I ride my bike downtown. I've run the entire course many times before both directions (uphill and down) and in my pre-running days, I rode the course on my cruiser with a friend who was racing. It's a local race with lots of familiar faces. I'm sure it will be a lot of fun.