Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Moonlight and Sunrise

I had lunch plans today with my team at work and had to move my swim workout to the early morning laps option.  I'll be super honest...I am not a morning person and 5:30 is just super early for me.  I was thinking about work as I drove to the pool and managed to pass by my exit.  I got to the pool and saw only one other swimmer.  I jumped into a lane near the pace clock and was happy that the water wasn't super cold. 

I planned my workout last night to do a ladder workout.  My plan was to start at 100m build to 400m and then work my way back down for a total of 1600m.  To spice things up, I decided to make the last 50m of each ladder rung a sprint build (increasing pace.)  I started with a warm-up of 300m and 200m of drills.  I started on the top of the clock for each ladder rung and got a variety of rest times depending on how I finished the previous one.  I didn't worry too much about the pace but just focused on endurance and building pace at the end of the sets.  I got in 1 1/2 miles of swimming this morning which is pretty great for me. 

Throughout the workout I had a fun I swam down the pool I would see the moon as I took a breath.  After I hit the turn and returned back to the start, I would see the sunrise taking place.  It was quite fun and peaceful at the same time.  This was the smallest group that I have seen at the pool with just 4 of us there for the morning laps.  Everyone did their own workouts but we chatted at the end once the sun was up.  Overall, it isn't too bad a way to start the day (and I really should take advantage of it since the outdoor pool will close in 6 weeks or so.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shark Sprint Triathlon Race Recap

Today marked my one-year anniversary in the sport of Triathlon! Last year, the Shark Sprint Triathlon was my very first triathlon and today I returned to the race full of nerves and anticipation.  I couldn't wait to see how much I had improved over this first year.

A new addition to the race this year was the Olympic distance.  This added a bit of dead time in the morning for those of us doing the Sprint distance.  There was only one transition area so it was closed at 6:45 in time for the start of the Olympic race at 7:00 but over an hour before my race would start at 8:00.  I felt a lot of stress in transition because the bike next to mine kept angling into my rear derailleur.  I asked the guy to try to prop his bag to hold the bike straight on the rack but he really didn't want to do that.  In fact, he seemed bothered that I took that space.  HELLO, the racks are two sided and meant to be shared!

I had decided to race in the Athena division on Friday and heard conflicting announcements regarding which swim wave I should be in.  I went up to one of the timing crew to ask for clarification before the first waves of the sprint started.  Imagine my surprise, when he asked if I was my sister Lindsey's sister! The timing company for the race was from Oklahoma City and my nephew is friends with the children of Kevin on the timing crew. Such a small world sometimes!

The swim course was set up similar to a rectangle.  It was a HUGE improvement over last year's layout.  I had a great swim and caught up to some of the men from the wave before ours.  I almost swam into the dock near the swim exit but sighted just in time to see that I was about to hit it.  Close call! I moved into transition and saw that my friend AJ was just ahead of me.  I wished her luck on the bike and then worked on getting my bikes shoes and gear on. 

The bike course is full of rolling hills and the first 4 miles are mainly uphill.  I saw my friend Kyla on the bike course...she had another commitment and could only stop by for the start of the race.  I tried to pass more people than passed me.  I made sure to drink and eat a couple gel chews on the bike.  Around mile 10, is one of the largest hills that I have ever ridden.  It is long and steep and in general sucks! I stayed positive and worked my way up it slow and steady.  The last 4 miles rocked and were mostly downhill which is way more fun. 

I have been dreading the run for weeks and that probably contributed to my struggles on the run.  It was hot and sunny and my legs just weren't turning over and loosening up.  I had to take walk breaks and hated doing it.  The Rush team worked the water stop which is was at the 1 mile spot on the course so you hit it 2 times.  My second time through got cheering from Mike via the bullhorn.  On a side note...It is surprising that my first sport is my weakest...I have been running for 10 years and only picked up biking and swimming last year.  I haven't trained as strong in the run this summer mainly because of the high heat we have had.  I'm going to fix that before my late season triathlons!

Me, AJ, and Britt post race!
My overall results were awesome.  My time was 1 hour 41 min. 45 sec. (an improvement of 10 minutes from last year!) I earned first place in the Athena Division and would have placed 3rd in my Age Group.  I think I was 17/51 for women.  It was so much fun to hang out with my friends and see everyone have such awesome races.  AJ got 3rd overall for females and had an awesome race.  Britt did the Olympic distance and got 2nd in her age group. Good times today but now it is time to look to the calendar and make some race plans for August and September. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rogue Waves

How do you handle those fun waves that come about after boats go by when you are doing an open water swim? 

Tonight some of us met up at the lake for an open water swim at this weekend's triathlon site.  There wasn't a ton of boat traffic on the lake but of course there was at least one series of waves created from a boat wake.  Somehow I didn't actually hear the boat so the waves really surprised me.  Of course, I forgot that there are generally multiple waves.  The rest of the swim out went quite well and then we turned back for the return trip.  There was quite a bit of wind so the water was a lot choppier but it wasn't too bad. 

After our swim, we laced up our shoes and ran a portion of the run course.  The temps were so much nicer than they will likely be on race day.  We ran to the mile point on the course so ended up with two miles for the night. 

We did a second swim after the run and I encountered some sighting difficulty since the sun was in my eyes for the return trip.  Overall, the lake was great and it was just fun to goof off and have fun with friends...while getting in a good workout!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Woo it is HOT!

We have had quite the heat wave the last few weeks.  It has not been a good thing for my running but has been extra encouraging for swimming and biking.  Somehow those two sports increase in appeal to me when it is this hot out!

I've got a triathlon this weekend and it marks my one-year anniversary with multi-sports! I'm hoping to cut some time off compared to last year but it is going to be hotter than last year so I'll just have to see what I can do given the weather.  Here's a recap of my week so far:

Monday - Speed workout on the track.  Temps were high 80's and sunny at 6PM.  The workout was a fast 200m then 800m at 5K pace with no rest in between.  After finishing the 800, you got approx. 1 1/2 min to walk across the infield and return to the starting line.  The goal was to do 4 sets.  I got three complete sets in and cut the 800 in the 4th set down to a 400.  My rest times between sets were a little longer but necessary.  There were times when it felt like my face was on fire and I couldn't breathe.  Not fun at all, but also good heat training to build the confidence that I can perform in less than ideal conditions!

Tuesday - Bike ride with the International Team.  We tried out a new route which had a good section of shady roads...heavenly since temps were again high 80's and sunny.  Our total distance was 25.7 miles and we averaged around 16.9 mph.  We had a slightly unpleasant occurrence during the ride.  Our group had broken up with 5 in the lead pack, a single rider, and myself and my friend Maja at the back.  Two dogs came out and chased after the single rider in front of me and Maja.  We were about 20 sec behind him and I knew that the dogs were going to come after us. There was a small dog and a medium sized dog.  The small dog was deterred by me yelling at it but that seemed to upset the bigger dog and it got within inches of biting me.  I have no problem admitting that I screamed like a total got the dog away so that was all that mattered.  It was not the most fun and I forgot at the time how much Maja hates dogs so this was probably not a good situation for her to witness.  After the ride, two of us did a short run to get in a brick.  Then the girls gathered for dinner and catching up on the Tour de France and the Old Spice Guy Commercials

Wednesday - Lunch time laps.  I did a short swim workout at lunch with AJ and Maja which included 100 builds as the main workout.  We did the first 50 easy, sprinted for the next 25, and held medium pace for the final 25.  We did 6 repeats and were a little inconsistent in our recovery time.  Our goal was a short rest break but we had a couple instances where we were social with our lane neighbors.  The pool had a slight fail today in that the lifeguards put the vacuum and hoses into our lane as we were doing our workout.  We ended up switching to another lane only to finish and see that the lifeguards hadn't actually used the vacuum. 

On tap for tomorrow is an open water swim and run at the race site.  I'm also going to try to get my bike in for a little tuneup before the race.  I got a new tire put on last week after discovering a neat little puncture hole in the front tire.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mile Repeats???

Every week I head to the track on Monday night for Rush Hour.  Rush Hour is the weekly track workout put on by Mike Rush of Rush Running.  It is a free, coached workout and attracts anywhere from 20 runners in the freezing cold winter months to 80 plus during peak training season.  The fun part of the night is finding out what crazy, pain-inducing workout Mike has dreamed up for us.

Tonight our workout was extra special.  It started as we are going to do mile repeats with 2 minutes rest between intervals.   Okay, that doesn't sound too bad.  Oh, but then it got better...we just had to wait for Mike to get to the good part.  We didn't get to start the rest when we finished the mile...nope, we got to immediately start a 400m interval.  The miles were to be done at something slightly faster than 10K pace and then the 400m would be at mile pace.  The group was assigned three repeats of this interval unless you were new and got to do a modified workout. 

My awesome running partner Anne and I decided to go for a 9:45 pace for our mile repeat.  We were aiming for 2:20-2:25 per quarter.  We wanted to aim for something under a 9:00 pace for the 400m interval.  Our times were actually pretty good throughout the workout.  We struggled a little on the very last 400m but otherwise did okay.  Our miles were 9:40, 9:48, and 9:51 and our 400m were 2:15, 2:08, 2:15? We didn't quite hit mile pace but we were at or under 5K pace which was good.  The big accomplishment was that we did the workout as it was assigned...normally I am a horrible influence on Anne and talk her into modifying the workout.  I ended up with about 6 1/2 miles between the warm up/cool down and the workout. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Y Not Tri Race Photos

The drive was really pretty with fog across the hills during sunrise.
Pre-race with Mandy (holding Napoe) and me.
Getting started on the run...looking stronger than I felt!

The final few yards and ready to be done!!!

NWA athletes representing: Mark, Kayle, Mandy, Me and Maja
Yep, just a little surprised to be the overall female winner.

Y Not Tri Race Recap

I'm going to skip the suspense in this race recap and go straight to the results...I WON THE RACE!!!

Saturday morning I headed to Cassville, MO, for a sprint triathlon that benefited their local YMCA system.  The race was small and extremely friendly.  It was hosted at the town aquatic center which included a 4 lane pool for the 400yd swim.  The pool also included two water slides that looked like a ton of fun...alas, we could not talk the guards into turning the slides on:( Northwest Arkansas had a good showing at the race with Pauline, Kayle, Mandy, Maja, Mark, Cord, Randy, John, Brody, and myself all racing. 

The swim took place in waves with approx. 8 per wave for the first 3 waves and then smaller waves for the final 2.  The waves were seeded with slower swimmers first and faster swimmers in the later waves.  The race got started about 30 minutes late.  I was in wave 4 of 5 for the swim so I had about another 45 minutes after the first wave started before I was actually in the pool and swimming.  I was the last female to swim and got started fairly even with the men in my wave.  About halfway through the guy leading our wave starting to tucker out some and I took that chance to pick things up.  I ended up with around 6:33 for my 400 time.  The start and finish was in the diving well of the pool and I lost a few seconds trying to get out of the pool...need to work on that upper body strength for deep water pool exits I guess!

One thing I disliked about the race was that the route from the pool to transition was through grass. I tried to ignore the grass on my feet as I put on my bike shoes.  My swim wave ended up all hitting the bike start at about the same time.  Darn socks...cost me a few seconds, but oh I don't think I could do it without them! We headed out for the two loop bike course and hit a nice hill right out of the start.  I didn't have on a watch or my Garmin so I wasn't sure of my pace on the bike at any point.  I made sure to eat a couple of my energy chews and drink plenty of water on the bike.  From near the start of the bike I had a need for a potty stop.  The route was along country roads with very little traffic but I just didn't want to stop and lose any time.  The start of the second loop was almost a catastrophe for my poor bike.  I was in way too big of a gear for turning onto the hill and killed my bike shifting into something more manageable. I talked sweet to my bike and she forgave me for the horrible injustice I had inflicted on her. The course was well staffed with volunteers at every turn and my favorite volunteer was the one at a major turn at the base of a hill who would holler out "All Clear" for the riders.  The ride was rolling hills and I think I was somewhere around 55 min for the 15 miles.  (waiting to see official splits but this is my estimate.)

I made it back to transition and had another competitor offering me water and Gatorade in transition.  It was so sweet and needed since it was now quite hot out.  The run course was along a trail that connected the aquatic park to some other baseball fields and then another park.  There were alternating sections of paved trail and gravel as well as some wooden bridge walkways.  About half of the run course was in shade and it was great.  I passed many of the NWA crew as they were making their way back into the finish.  It was fun to see everyone and get to cheer for them.  The turnaround had fabulous cold water and I stopped to guzzle two cups.  Shortly thereafter I found a nice spot along the trail that had a bush I could hide behind and finally took care of the potty stop that I so desperately needed! Not fun, but sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do.  My return trip was done to the tune of 100 bottles of beer on the wall.  I used this as an incentive that I could take a walk break every 15 bottles.  It also helped me to get into a pace and I probably should have started that on the way out too.  About 1/2 mile from the finish, Randy came running up and offered to run with me into the finish.  That made a huge difference and was just the extra push that I needed to finish. 

A challenge with this race is that it took a while to get the results put together.  With so many waves, the race organizers had to do a lot of manual calculating for determining times.  They had a small selection of fruit and bagels for post-race food.  The pool had a small locker room area with showers so the girls all took advantage of that to get cleaned up while they calculated results.  Of course, we stopped on the way for Cannonballs into the pool! It was awesome to just hang out in the cold water for a few minutes. 

The awards ceremony started with the overall winners.  Imagine my shock to hear my name called as the Overall Female Winner! I started laughing and just looked at my friends in shock.  After a few seconds I headed up to pick up my medal.  The rest of the crew had a strong could say that Northwest Arkansas athletes DOMINATED this race.  Maja, Kayle, and Mandy got 1st in their age groups, Mark got 3rd in his age group.  I think John, Brody, and Randy also placed in their age groups too.  

I snuck a peak at the times and think my total time was 1 hr 36 min and 45 sec.  I beat my friend Maja by just a mere 15 seconds...lesson learned every walk break is seconds I'm giving to my competitors.  I really need to stop taking walk breaks and toughen up mentally during the run.  What is funny is that Maja had the song Under Pressure going through her head through out the race...honestly she is an awesome athlete so I'm really surprised that I was ahead of her.  I chalk it up to the faster swim time...I think her swim would have been faster in my heat because I was about 20 sec faster on the swim but she is actually a faster swimmer than me.  Overall, it was a fun tune-up race and fun time spent with friends. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Firecracker Open Water Swim

Happy 4th of July! What better way to start the day than an open water lake swim.  Jeff and Deb Spencer hosted the Arkansas Masters and friends for their Annual Firecracker Open Water Swim.  The swim has two distance options...long and longer! The race was billed as a 5K or 2.5K but during the safety briefing they said that the distance was actually 3.6 miles and 1.8 miles. 

Heading to the dock with swim buoys.
 The group had about 25 people swimming including lots of kids.  You can tell that I did not grow up as a swimmer because I was so shocked that these kids were going to do the full 5k+ swim.  There were probably 6-7 of us just swimming the half distance.  The full course option was an out and back to a small island in the main channel of the lake.  We were all suited up with our own personal swim buoy attached at the ankle.  This was to help the safety boats keep track of us but also to help since this area of the lake wasn't actually closed to boat traffic.  We started at 7AM which helped since there wasn't a ton of boat traffic out that early. 

Destination: that little tiny island a mere 1.8 miles away!
We began from a boat dock by the Spencer's cabin.  It didn't take too long before I was settled into an easy pace.  I stayed calm and didn't have that initial panic that I normally get during open water swims.  It probably helped to not walk in from the shore because I had no clue on the water depth.  The water was much clearer in this area of the lake so that was a welcome change. 

After maybe 20 minutes or so, Jeff Spencer came up by Jet ski and asked me to try heading more towards the right of the island.  It was like I had an internal compass that only wanted to go to the left of the destination! No matter what I did I kept drifting towards the far left of the main group.  I was lucky to have a kayaker near me at all times which really helped me feel safe since this was my first lake swim of this type of distance. 

The water wasn't too bad...temperature was great and there was very little chop.  My only problem was that the island destination was like an Oasis just never seemed to get any closer.  There were even a few moments where it seemed like I wasn't even moving forward in the water.  I was so relieved to finally finish and even though I wasn't overwhelmingly tired I don't think I would have wanted to do the return trip.  I got into the return boat and was surprised that we didn't head immediately back.  That's because there were still a few people swimming...which means I WASN'T LAST!!!

My time for the 1.8 miles was approx. 1 hour 4 min.  My previous longest non-stop swim was at the One Hour Postal Swim in January where I swam about 2950yd in the 1 hour.  This was a great confidence builder for me around open water swimming.  I owe my friends a lot of thanks because they reassured me and encouraged me to give it a try. 

Firecracker 5K Race Recap

Rush Runners at the Firecracker 5K 2010
Saturday was the annual Firecracker 5K race at Lake Atalanta in Rogers.  This race is held around a small lake near downtown Rogers.  The road around the lake is mixed terrain with the majority being unpaved.  The course is an out and back that goes almost the full way around the lake before turning around. 

Running with Rush teammates
The weather was okay...a little more humid than I would have liked.  I did a short warm-up run before the race started.  I got lucky that one of my Rush Running teammates Jody is nursing an injury and was able to run with me.  Normally, she is much faster than me so it was fun to have her company during the race.  We started with an easy pace and some fun.  I have done this race several times and this was the very first time that there have been cars driving around the lake during the race.  Jody's boyfriend Shannon was running with us (after running 16+ miles to get to the race) and did a good job of warning all of us about the approaching cars.  It was quite humorous since we could all see the cars with our own eyes!!!

We hit the one mile mark and the water stop.  With the heat and humidity, we took water and got ready for the hills which began just after that water stop.  The hills are on uneven terrain which only makes them more fun.  In previous years, I have walked up various parts of these hills so it was great that I kept a steady pace up the majority of them and didn't walk until the very last hill.  The cruel part of this race is that the turn-around point is after you climb and descend a hill so you go up, go down, turn around, and go back up.  There's just something not very nice about the design of that!

Not bad...3rd in my Age Group and I was happy to find out there were more than 3 of us!!!
The return trip was very lackluster.  I started challenging myself to pick up the pace around .6 miles out from the finish.  I took the walk break going up the last hill around mile 2 1/4 so I knew that I could push for less than a mile.  I tried so hard to pick off one last person in the final 1/10th but she got a second wind that I couldn't match.  My time was a little slower than previous years but not bad considering that I really didn't want to run the race after I completed my warm-up. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

In pursuit of a ponytail

Tonight I went to get my haircut after work.  I have been working on growing out my hair for months...but secretly I think my hairdresser wants it to stay at chin length or shorter.  I've gotten him to stretch out my appointments from every 5 weeks to 6 weeks but my hair is still only hitting chin length.  

At my last haircut, we tested out the length and it wasn't quite to pony tail length.  I told my hairdresser that I was doing low pigtails instead since my hair wouldn't stay back.  He was not impressed with my creativity! Check out this pic from my Memorial Day weekend race to see me rocking my pigtails!

In the last week or two, I have finally been able to get my hair into a single ponytail.  I hope that tonight's trim and reshaping of my hairstyle doesn't put me back into pigtails for too long.  Don't get me wrong, I think they are cute just not as functional under a swim cap or bike helmet!

For the holiday weekend, I've got a 5K on Saturday.  It is a tough race for me each year...rolling hills on mixed terrain around a small lake.  Temps are always warm and humid and I just do it for the fun. I'm also contemplating an open-water swim event but the distance option is a little scary 2.5K or 1.55 miles.  I also plan to do some bike rides and hopefully a couple runs off the bike to get ready for my triathlon at the end of July.  Have a great weekend!