Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pea Ridge National Military Park Sunday Brick

Today I joined some friends for a brick workout.  They meet every Sunday at the Pea Ridge National Military Park.  The park has a 7 mile tour road that has a lot of shade and very little traffic.  The road was recently repaved but it is a chip and seal road so it isn't the greatest surface.  The nice thing about this location is that the group can ride together but each person can maintain their own pace and workout. 

Today, Mandy and Kayle each had a 2 hr 45 min bike followed by a 15 min run on deck.  Kayle's husband Cord had a 70 mile bike planned.  My workout called for a 40 mile ride and whatever run I wanted to do.  I thought my workout would be close to the girls but wasn't sure on the time/distance that I could do.  We all took the first lap easy and stayed together but then we split up and covered the distance in our own paces.  It was crazy how many deer I saw on the ride...though some were probably the same.  A couple times I saw deer in the same spots so they were probably the same!

Below is a picture recap of the park and the workout. 
The Visitor's Center includes a small museum.

There are lots of cannons throughout the park. I thought my Cannondale fit right in!

Description signs can be found in noteworthy spots.
Inside the Visitor's Center is more historical information.
Not my best self portrait but I tried!
We were the sweatiest guests inside the museum for sure!
Thumbs up for being done with the workout...not sure why the soldier isn't as excited as me!
Yes, an ice bath was necessary today!
Map and Elevation Chart of the ride.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Got Er Done!

Post-run with that oh so special sweaty glow!

My training plan called for an 8-9 mile long run for this week.  I am very happy to report that I completed my long run of 8 miles this morning.  I haven't run that distance since July 3rd!  It wasn't pretty but I covered the distance. My goal was to not worry about the pace and just get the distance done. 

I got the run started at 6:45 and headed out along a local half marathon course.  My original plan was to do an out and back to the four mile mark on the course to get to 8.  Along the way I decided I just couldn't fathom returning along the same route.  Occasionally there was a nice breeze but for the most part the sun and temps were tough.  I altered the course and just stayed on the half marathon course.  It worked out really well and my run ended in front of our new splash pad.  The water jets were turned on so I dunked my head in one of the jets to start cooling off.  My pace was about a minute slower than I would like but it wasn't too bad given my lack of consistent long runs.  Building my running base is not as easy as building a base for swimming and cycling and I really have to focus on getting these long runs done for the next 8 weeks.

On deck for tomorrow, is a 40 mile bike ride followed by a short run.  I'm meeting up with some friends at a local Military park that was the site of a civil war battle.  There is a loop within the park that is around 7 miles long and includes a climb for every loop.  I've never ridden out there so I'm looking forward to some new scenery. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

DaDooRunRun 5K Race Recap

Taking Rush Running to meet W.C. Handy!
This weekend I travelled to Florence, Alabama.  A few weeks ago I did a quick Internet search and discovered that the W.C. Handy Music Festival was going on for the weekend that I was going to be there.  As part of the music festival, a local running club was hosting the DaDooRunRun 5K on Saturday morning.  I found a blog race recap from a few years ago which gave me a good idea of what to expect for the race course. 

Friday night I took a drive from my hotel to make sure I could find the race site.  As I was driving in the area I discovered that just a few blocks from the race site was the only Frank Lloyd Wright designed house in the state of Alabama.  It was a neat discovery! W.C. Handy is known as the father of blues and the race began from the W.C. Handy House and Museum.  It was neat to do a race and learn a little history all at once!

I got to the race site about 30 minutes before the 8am start time.  There was plenty of parking at the hospital across the street.  There was very little traffic and people were hanging out along the edge of the street and in the museum parking lot.  Registration was a little slow due to a registration glitch where pre-registered people weren't on their printout.  Lucky for me I was on the list! The race wasn't chipped timed so the registration process didn't take too long once they verified I was on the list. 

I had plenty of time to run my goody bag back to the car and then have a potty stop before the race start.  The race directors took time to remind everyone how to put their bibs on the front and to make sure to have the tear tab available for the timing crew.  It's not something that you hear before every race so it was a nice reminder. 

Nice downhill finish!
The race course was through residential neighborhoods, the downtown Florence area, and the outskirts of the University of North Alabama.  It was pretty much an out and back course but there were a couple of differences.  The course had a bunch of hills which were made manageable with the shade cover that the mature trees provided.  There were two water stops on the course which was great since it was so warm out.  The race finished on a downhill and that was an awesome design feature for the course.

Oh, yeah...I'm giving that Popsicle a Thumbs Up!
There were about 280 people in the race and I managed to finish 4th in my age group with a 31:31.  I was pleased with my time.  My goal for the race was to only walk during the water stops which I accomplished.  This might seem like way too easy of a goal but given the heat this summer I have really increased my walk breaks.  It was good to challenge myself to run through the whole race and work on steady pacing.   They had a nice spread of water and fruit for post-race but my favorite were the icy Popsicles that they had.  It was perfect for the heat! Another great feature with the music festival was the live band that played for us.  They were great and played a mixture of different music. 
Live music on the museum porch.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Checking out some Water Sports

On the dock with Lyndi
Recently I had a girl's night with my friends Lyndi and Jamie and we tried out a fun summer activity, kayaking! Lyndi lives right on a lake here in Bella Vista.  Actually, all three of us live really close to different lakes in Bella Vista.  Jamie and Lyndi both have their own kayaks and we had a bit of a showdown over whose lake was better for our adventure!
I'm ready to go!!!
We got to Lyndi's house and she had a lovely spread of fruits, veggies, and cheeses for us to nibble on.  We had a few snacks and then headed down to the dock.  We had touring style kayaks and they were very stable to use.  I had to get a little instruction on how to use the paddles properly since I was a newbie to the sport.  We headed out for a tour of the lake and had a great time.  We took our time and chatted the entire way.  There were several others out on the lake and we said hi to all who we passed.  I would definitely go kayaking again especially with such awesome company!

On Sunday I went out for another type of water sport adventure...bass fishing.  I've been really lucky this year to be working on a project that has given me the chance to become friends with a pro bass fisherman.  This past weekend I headed to Alabama for a fishing tournament.  I got to go out and fish with the pro on Sunday morning while the top 10 anglers were fishing.  The lake was beautiful except I didn't get to see a ton of it.  I got in the boat and the pro casually mentioned that we were going to run 10 miles down the lake.  I didn't really understand that we would be running at top speed...70 mph! It was a super scary experience but I have a ton of trust for the pro and knew that he would be careful.  I didn't have my sunglasses on for the ride out so I had to look away or close my eyes for the ride.  (I put my sunglasses on for the return trip and it was so much better!)  We got to our fishing spot and it was not the best fishing.  There were schools of skipjack feeding in the area but we struggled to find any bass.  I did manage to catch a blue catfish and one smallmouth bass.  I'm still not a fan of touching the fish but I do enjoy casting and catching the fish.  This project has been one of the best experiences for me and I'm so thankful for the chance to experience something so new.

I didn't grow up doing a lot of outdoorsy stuff but I'm open to trying everything at least once.  How else would I discover fun new things! And maybe one of these days I'll hold a fish...I'll have another chance in a couple of weeks so I'll let you know if I get over my fear of their tiny little teeth.  So gross!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sticking to the Plan - Sort of

This morning I woke up feeling a little sore from yesterday's swim workout.  I just didn't feel motivated to get up and moving when my alarm went off at 5:30.  I decided to go back to sleep and focus on my bike ride with the girls at 8:45.  I told myself that I would run at night to get in the 6 miles on my training plan. 

The girls and I rode for an hour and the pace was quite a bit better than normal.  The temps were only in the low 80's during our bike ride and it made a huge difference for all of us.  We did a route that we normally don't ride and it has a little less elevation change which is a nice change for us.  We saw a ton of cyclists out on the route and everyone was friendly with either a hello or a wave. We were very disappointed to see two cyclists riding without helmets.  Not cool people!

I spent the rest of the day snacking, hydrating, and watching the hourly forecast on my Weather channel iPhone app.  I determined that the last hour of daylight would be the optimum time to do my run.  I almost talked myself out of running but somehow I overcame that debate and got changed.  I ran from my house which equates to a very hilly run.  I took it slow and conquered a couple of the hills including one that was .6 mile long! I should have planned out my route ahead of time because I failed in that regard.  At the end of my street is a small park space that contains a boat ramp for a lake.  This park has a street that is around .15-.2 mile long.  I thought that I would hit the park about a mile further than I did and I just couldn't talk myself into running the up/back on the street more than once. (Side note...this is the closest section to flat land in my entire run and even it has a small bump on it!)  So in the end my run ending up being 5 miles instead of the 6 on my training plan.  I'm going to tell myself that 5 hilly miles is almost equal to 6 flat miles.  Don't you think?

I had a little lost and found issue during the run.  When I turned into the lake park I discovered that I had lost my gel flask.  I had just run down a very significant hill and decided not to run back to look for it.  I was worried that I wouldn't find it but I took my dog for a car ride and retraced my route.  Luckily I found the bottle and it was at the top of the hill approx. .75 miles from where I discovered it was missing. Now I'm relaxing on the couch with my compression socks on and a bottle of Nuun by my side. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Plans, Visors, and the Color Red!

Earlier this week I spent some time putting together my training plan for the half ironman distance. I had saved a training plan from an issue of Triathlete magazine and decided to laminate each week so that I could take it with me to the pool.  One of my friends brings a Ziploc bag of workouts to the pool and initially that was my plan but I got tired of typing the swim workouts up by the 3rd week of the plan.  I think my revised direction is going to be just as awesome.  The nice thing about laminating the cards is that I can use a dry erase marker to make notes and then clean them off for the next training cycle.  The cards are color coordinated based on whether the weeks are build, recovery, race specific.  I know, I'm a dork!!!

Earlier this week I took a gamble and ordered some Headsweats visors.  My sister loves their brand of hats and we both have been wanting to try their visors.  The Headsweats website offers grab bag options for many of their products in the sale section.  Even better, the more you buy the cheaper the grab bag options are.  I was bold and ordered 3 grab bag options and one full price visor...just in case! The box arrived today and I got quite the lucky mixture of hats.  I'm loving the hot pink has a silver logo on it.  I sent my sister a picture of the choices and so we'll see which two she picks.  My grab bag visors were just $8 each and the full price plain gray one was $24.  I think the grab bag is definitely the way to go!!!

Today's swim workout was a really strong workout.  Swimming with former collegiate swimmers is a sure way to get a good workout! Today's coach was Jim who was in the lane with almost all former collegiate swimmers.  Those boys were kicking butt during the workout but my lane did our best to hang on!  The workout that Jim selected for the group was 4 x 400.  On the surface that probably sounds pretty boring, but we did something different within each 400.  The first 400 was done as kick/drill/kick/drill.  The second 400 was an entire pull set with the focus on breath control so breathing every 3,5,7,3 strokes for each 100.  The third 400 was choice so long as your second 200 was faster than the first.  The final 400 was descending in speed each 100.  I ended up with 2000 for the day with my warm up and cool down included.  I think I'll be feeling the pull set tomorrow!

After the swim I headed to my friend Kyla's for a snack before starting a bike ride. We both were hungry after finishing the swim so we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  We eventually headed out for a bike ride and selected a route that would offer some shade.  I had done a simulated hill ride on the trainer Thursday night so my quads were definitely not the most responsive on the uphills we encountered.  Our ride was short but lots of fun.  We treated ourselves to sno cones after the ride...could my tongue get any more red! I had strawberry margarita in case you were curious!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Salomon Running Touring Truck

The Rush Hour Speedwork group on Monday was treated to a special visit by the Salomon Running Touring Truck.  This was the only stop by the Salomon truck in all of Arkansas.  We had approx. 100 people attend Rush Hour and I should note that the temps were 100 degrees at the start of the night.  Somehow the hottest Monday of the year always brings out the big Mike and team had promoted the Salomon visit and shoe giveaways!

Rush Running carries the Salomon trail shoes and Mike himself highly recommends their shoes.  Salomon was on hand to let people try out their trail shoes.  Our track is located just 1/2 mile from the local trail system so the runners would actually get to try out the shoes on the trails.  Ali Rush led the trail group out and made sure that all knew where they were on the trails.  Those that didn't try out the trail shoes spent the night doing a speed workout.  The speed workout was tough... a ladder up from 800m with 30 sec rest between ladder rungs.  The official ladder went 800m, 1000m, 1200m, 1600m, 1 1/4 mile, 1 1/2 mile, and 2 mile.  I don't think many people went above the 1 mile or 1 1/4 mile distance. 

Now for a little more info on Salomon.  The Salomon XR Crossmax won the Runner's World Best Debut in the Spring 2011 Shoe Review.  They also offer some fun, cushy (perfect for post race) flip flops!
Below are some photos of the event.

The inside of the touring truck
The touring truck created a shady spot on the hot track.
Salomon staff helped everyone with the right shoe style and size.
They provided chairs for changing into the shoes.
Those trail shoes look fast!

Ali getting the trail group started.
Look at all those shoes!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

2011 Shark Sprint Triathlon Race Recap

Today was my third time to complete the Shark Sprint Triathlon.  This was my first ever triathlon so it is one that I try to include in my calendar every year. 

Temps this morning were super warm.  When I woke up, the temps were still 78 degrees and that was at 5AM.  The race didn't start until 7:30 and just standing in the pre-race meeting I was sweating.  The race hired a new management company this year and there were some improvements but most of the changes were not noticeable to the racers. 

This race is held at the Horseshoe Bend campground park on Beaver Lake.  The water level on the lake is still extremely high from the early Spring rainfall that we got.  This meant that the normal transition area and swim course were flooded.  I know you are probably chuckling that the swim course was flooded but the picnic benches were under water and there was a ton of debris in the area.  The organizers moved transition to a grassy area that was a long uphill run from the swim exit.  The swim was altered to be a point-to-point swim and required a start location a few hundred yards away from the main race site. The bike course was the same in all its glory! The run course was also changed and became an out/back that led to two different loops.  This change equated to a lot more shade on the run course which was a huge improvement. 

I headed out around 5:20 and got to the lake just before 6AM.  There was actually a little backlog of traffic getting parked which was a first for me to experience at this race.  As I unpacked my car I ran into several friends and said hi on my way down to check in.  I entered transition and chose a rack spot that was mostly near men.  The women start last on the swim so I figured that the men would get out of transition way before me and that it would be easy to spot my bike this way.  I was near Brent and his son Cole and some other tri friends too.  I had plenty of time to set up my transition spot and also make potty stops and get my timing chip.  There was a pre-race meeting and then everyone began the walk down to the swim start.

Transition area...the lake looks far away!
Swim: The start buoy was only 5 feet from the shore which seemed pretty close to me.  I lined up 2-3 people back but right next to the buoy.  I never felt a crush of people but was always near people during the swim.  The turn around the first buoy was a little rough with arms and legs but overall wasn't too crazy.  In the last 100 I even managed to catch up to some of the guys from the previous swim wave.  Gotta love that! My swim time was around 9:32...however the course seemed shorter than previous years. 

T1- The run up to transition was not so was uphill and I was pooped after the swim.  I did my best to get up there quick and then prep myself for the bike.  My T1 time was around 2:39 which is slower than in past years.  The transition area was quite a bit longer than previous years and I had a longer distance to run the bike out.

Bike:  This bike course is tough! There is no sugar-coating it.  The first 5 miles are mostly uphill and then there is a very significant uphill climb around mile 10.  I did my best to cover the distance and stay positive on the bike.  The big hill at mile 10 is called Chicken Hill because it is in front of the Monte Ne Chicken House which is known for their fried chicken.  Every year I worry that I will have to walk my bike up that hill but I just tell myself slow and steady gets to the top.  I took a huge swig of ice cold water before starting up the hill which helped a little at least mentally.  My bike time was 54:18 for a 16.6 mph pace.  I was about 45 seconds slower on the bike this year but faster than my training ride on the course a few weeks ago. 
Looking up Chicken Hill from the bottom.
T2 - I don't know why I was so slow here except for taking huge gulps of cold water while racking my bike.  I probably wasted a few extra seconds by just being pokey.  My time was 2:20 which is about a min slower than my normal T2 time.

Kyla and I post-race...she saved me on the run!

Run: I didn't feel strong at the start of the run and that lack of confidence definitely pulled me down.  The heat had my psyched out from before the race even started.  The mental aspect of the run off the bike is something that I need to work on.  Around mile .75 I could start to hear the Rush Running crew at the 1 mile water stop.  They had the music blaring throughout the campground.  As I ran up they gave me a cool towel and water.  The towel felt great and I placed it around my neck to help cool me down some.  My friend Kyla was out at the water stop and she came to run with me for a little bit.  She had run with another friend ahead of me and so she was running back on the course and I don't know why but seeing her choked me up.  I just started to cry because it sucked so bad and Kyla was just so happy to see me and help me.  It took a few seconds but then as Kyla started to tell me about a movie I was able to get my head out of the race and I felt a lot better.  Kyla ran with me for about 1/2 mile and it was great! The finish was a short uphill but I knew there was a lady on my tail so that got me motivated to finish it up.  I think my run time was around 34 minutes but somehow I missed that split when I copied the results at the race site.

Rhonda got 3rd in our division and I got 1st, yeah us!
My overall time was 1:43:15 (I think...somehow my pic of the results cropped off the run time and total time.) I was about 1:30 slower than last year but it was a lot warmer and more humid this year.  I still managed to win the Athena division! Whoo hoo!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Finally a Long Run Done

With the crazy heat so far this summer I have been a little lacking in motivation to do my long runs.  I've been managing to get in around 5 miles distance each week and every few weeks getting in something in a little longer.  This weekend I decided I was going to finally get my butt in gear and get my long run done. 

I set my alarm clock to 5AM on Sunday so that I could get up and be done in time to watch Le Tour de France on Versus live for the exciting team time trial stage.  Apparently my brain doesn't remember the plans it has made at 5AM because I promptly turned the alarm off and went back to sleep.  I got up around 6:30 and then got myself dressed and ready to run.  I was surprised that the couch didn't kidnap me but I managed to stay focused on going running. 

I headed down to the Bentonville square which was decorated with flags for the 4th of July holiday weekend.  Several other runners and friends were starting out their runs and I quickly said hello.  I didn't linger and chat too much since it was now 7AM.  My original goal was to do an out and back that would total 8 miles.  I started out slow and easy since it was already warm.  By mile 2 1/2 I had already drank about half of my bottle of water...not a good sign!

I decided to modify the out and back and head back to the car for a water refill.  I took the whole run easy with walk breaks when I felt too hot and I carried a rag to keep the sweat out of my eyes.  I made it back to the car and had already finished 5.6 miles of the run.  Not bad except it was so hard to start back for the final miles to get to 8.  I refilled my bottle from the water fountain in the square and took a couple sips of sports drink that I had in the car.  I ran through town for the final few miles so that I could stay in the shade as much as possible but it was still a tough finish and I was so glad to hit the 8 mile on my Garmin. 

A few post-run pics...
Finishing was a hot day and I'm glad I got out there when I did.
I look awful...but so happy to be done!
That would be my Swass (Sweaty As*) print after I sat down to stretch.
 Surprisingly I wasn't too sore after the run which I have to think was because my pace was quite a bit slower than it should have been.  I hate having to rebuild my base but that's where I am at with my fitness for long runs.  I know if I keep at it I will adjust to the temps and my pace will get faster.  I just have to do the runs in order to gain the fitness.  This weekend I've got a triathlon on Sunday so I will probably try to do a mid-week longish run since I won't be able to do the long run. 

And in case you were wondering...I am a total fan of Garmin-Cervelo and love the Argyle Armada.  I didn't get home Sunday until around 9AM and had already missed their winning time trial.  I did get to see some of the other top teams race during the live show and of course I watched the evening show too.  Who are you rooting for in the tour?