Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Upcoming races...

I've spent the last few days thinking over races for 2011, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  October is my race-heavy month this year, with the following...

October 9 -- Warrior Dash

"Welcome to America’s most insane race. Warrior Dash lands in the Mid-Atlantic for the first time in 2010 where eleven obstacles from hell await along this 3.15 mile course."
This is basically an obstacle course at a ski resort.  Expect moments of girly panic and shrieking (and that's just from the boys).  A whole lot of people we know are signed up to do this race, which is going to be held in PA.  At the end there's live music, free beer, and viking hats.  I know!!  Pretty psyched for this one.

October 16 -- Baltimore Marathon
My first marathon, but not my first running festival.  I have a goal time, but I'm more concerned with finishing strong.  I'm really looking forward to this race, even if the long runs have been hard to do on my own.  At the end, there is also Free beer.  Hmm.  Pattern?

October 24 -- Army 10-miler
One of the biggest races in North America.  This is a crowded race, but it's also a nice route.  They have a huge expo as well.  A run through DC will be a nice way to end the "season".

Finally, as I plan out 2011, I've already signed up for one event (or will be signed up by the end of the week).  What's that, you ask?  The Tough Mudder challenge, held near Charlottesville, VA on October 22 and 23, 2011.  We are currently trying to determine if we are going to run for charity (The Wounded Warrior Project), and if we do, I'll set up a training/fundraising blog.  There may be tattoos involved.  But look for training updates here, because Tough Mudder seems like a really intense challenge! 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Iron Girl Columbia - 2010

Why I wanted to do this race:  This was the first tri I ever did.  When I signed up, I wanted to see if I could meet my time goal.  More on that in The Prep.  Also, Iron Girl is just a fun race.  Athletes are very supportive of each other, and it's very inspiring.

The Prep: My focus this year has been the Marathon.  With a few exceptions, I've sort of stuck to that training plan.  However, through a combination of scheduling, a few illnesses, and a lot of good old fashioned laziness, I did not spend the summer consistently training.  Not an excuse, or even an explanation.  Just the facts, ma'am.  So as August closed in and Iron Girl was fast approaching, I realized I wasn't really ready, and there wasn't a whole lot I could do about it at the last minute.  Hm.  Lesson learned.  So I came out of my "three month taper" with the attitude that I just wanted to have fun.  And not wipe out on my bike.  A lot like my goals the first time I did this race.

The Taper:  Hah!  None.

The Gear:

  • For the swim, just a suit (water was 86 degrees), speedo goggles, race cap.  Wrapped some prewrap around my hair to keep it back during the bike, after T1
  • For the bike, bike shorts, my specialized Dolce; Bell bike helmet; old bike shoes with spd clips
  • For the run, Asics Gt2150s.
Race Morning, pre-race:  Up well before dawn, though not as early in past years.  Breakfast was a SoyJoy bar, followed by a Larabar an hour later, with plenty of water in between.  Packed up transition stuff in a laundry basket, which worked surprisingly well.  The woman next to me never showed up, so I had extra space where her bike should have been, which was nice.  Set up my transition area, covered everything with a towel (it was raining), and retreated to the car.  Begin 45 minutes of playing WordUp.  The rain stopped, and I put on sunscreen, just in case.  The rain started again.

Goal:  Finish, feel good on the run, don't wipe out on the bike.  Have fun.

The Race:  I spent a short time wandering around saying high to people, and then it was time to walk to the start.  
  • Swim:  The start was pretty rough - No matter where I was, I felt like I was running into someone, and this lasted pretty much through the turn around.  The lake was full of grass.  Yummy.  I kept my strokes nice and long, and used the swim as a warmup. Also to plan T1  Leg time: 21:33 (234th place)
  • T1:  It was pouring.  I've never biked in pouring rain.  Do I forgo the bike shoes so I don't have to worry about clipping?  Do I wear shades?  Do I eat before?  It stopped raining as I came out of the water, and I opted to go with what I knew.  Socks and shorts on.  Bike shoes on.  Helmet and shades on.  Racebelt, check.  Bike under the rack, and off we go!
  • Bike: this is my weakest leg.  Mounted with no problem, and I was off.  Because the pavement was so wet, I avoided painted lines.  I braked on several of the downhills (In the past I just tore down them as fast as gravity took me), took the turns slowly, and made sure I knew where the other bikers were.  Bike felt crowded, too, until the way back.  I actually felt very comfortable on the bike, except when it started raining again (last few miles) and my hands started to slip when I went to shift. Time: 2:20:48 (1828th place). 
  • T2: Came back in, unclipped, ran down and racked.  Sadly, I had forgotten to cover my running shoes after T1.  Yay for sloshing!  Swapped shoes, slugged some gatorade, and took off.    Time: 2:20 (1008th place)
  • Run:  I decided, as I ran out of the transition area, I would walk in two places: the steep hill on the zig-zag (just before the second water stop), and the second half of the steep hill on the way back.  The rest of the time I wanted a strong run.  I adjusted my pace as I went, based on how my legs felt.  And for the most part they felt fine!  Or at least, they were tired but I've done this route when I was tired, so it didn't feel like a big deal.  I pushed it out on the flats, where I had room to run, and shortened my pace on the hills.  Stuck to water at the stops.  I powered up the last little hill, and sprinted through the finish. Time: 28:46 (8:43m/mile, 125th place)
The Results:  I came in with a final time of 2:09:06 - a little less than 5 minutes slower than last year.  437 overall (out of 1780), 60th in my division (out of 183).  Mostly, I came in feeling really good.  I'm pretty psyched about that.

Post-Race:  A bottle of water, but I wasn't hungry.  I cheered people on, walked around for a bit to stretch my legs, and then packed up.  After a shower (I was really gross), I was finally up for food.  Post-race meal of choice?  Chicken and waffles from Chick'N'Friends!  YUM!  That night, I crashed around 5:30pm, and slept until around 8am.

Thoughts on the Race:  While I do wish I hadn't been quite so lazy over the summer, I'm happy that I felt good and actually had fun while I was racing (even on the bike, which has never happened before).  Also, this was the first time I've felt a payoff from my long runs that were part of marathon training - even though they were tired, my legs worked just fine.  Mentally I felt a lot stronger than I have in years past.

Will I do it again:  Probably not, although I would like to volunteer next year, just because it's such a cool event and I want to continue to support it.  I started training with the goal of IronMan, but I haven't been able to make myself like the bike leg.  I won't sign up for another tri until I do get on the bike more.  When I do, it'll be a smaller race.  Until then, I'll stick to the running and the swimming.

Thanks to everyone who was on the sidelines, cheering along the race route and into the finish.  Matt, thanks for being a good sport about waiting in the rain!  
This truly is an awesome race, and I'm so glad I was able to participate this year.