Monday, June 25, 2012

Rush Hour Crazies

Tonight's weather...

The group of 45 hard core runners!

The workout:
4-6 x 800m at 5K pace with 60 sec rest between.
2 min rest
2 x 200m at mile pace

Yeah, only Rush Runners are this tough and crazy!

A Little Biking Fun

Sunday I met up with some friends to ride the upcoming Shark Sprint bike course.  This course includes a really tough hill and I always like to get in a couple practice runs on the course before the race. 
AJ, Britt, Maja, and Me

We started off at 8AM and it was already pretty warm out.  The first four miles of the course seem like a constant uphill and that is made more difficult since your legs aren't warmed up at all.  We each took our own pace to get started but stayed pretty close together.  By mile 5 we were in a flatter section of the course and all together.  The fun thing about riding with friends is that the conversation and laughter make the time fly by!

We hit the big hill and I got into my granny gear and slowly pedaled my way to the top.  It was a tough ascent and it quickly made me change the route plans for our second tour of the course.  Instead of doing two loops we modified the second loop to cut out the massive hill.  One friend needed a little longer ride so she did the full loop.  We parted ways after a little break full of random topics including the best idea ever for how to turn your bike into art.  AJ and Maja came up with a brilliant idea to frame your bike on the wall so you have beautiful art and storage!

Also during our break, AJ treated us to her prime number song.  Looking back I don't remember why prime numbers were part of the conversation but it was a fun musical treat. 

As we headed back towards our starting point we were discussing more random topics and saw a truck approaching us.  In the road, there was a squirrel between us and the truck.  The poor squirrel proceeded to go crazy with indecision.  It couldn't decide where to go with the truck coming towards it and the three of us coming from the opposite direction.  It was one of those awesome animal moments that you can only witness as an athlete. 

We finished up the ride with a few miles of fast paced riding to have a strong finish.  I originally had wanted to swim after the bike ride but instead we just stood in the lake and cooled off.  The water was cool and the perfect way to finish.  It could only have been better if we had planned ahead and brought some post workout snacks since we were all pretty hungry. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

2012 NWA Masters Long Course Swim Meet

Earlier in June was the Northwest Arkansas Masters Long Course Swim Meet at Memorial Park pool in Bentonville.  This was my second time to do a long course swim meet and it was a great weekend for it.  This year the meet organizers decided to do a two day meet format with the long events on Friday night and the sprints/mid-distance events on Saturday morning. 

The normal meet format for Masters is that you can select five events to participate in but they allowed participants to do one event on Friday and up to five on Saturday.  Bonus!

Some helpful tips if you are new to swim meets like me:
1) Read the meet registration form and look for important details like warmup and seeding information. 
2) If you are unsure of a seed time, speak with the meet director and they will help you get in the right heat. 
3) Take advantage of warmup and cooldown lanes.  Usually 2 lanes will be provided for all the swimmers to use for warmup and cooldown during the meet.  Prior to the start it is generally okay to utilize all lanes for warmup.  Make sure you circle swim since this is the accepted practice with swimmers. 
4) When you get to the meet, locate the heat sheets.  Make note of your events and what heat and lane assignment you have been given.  I usually bring a second registration form to keep track of this.  I also will write down how many heats each event has as well as if any events are scratched. 
5) You are responsible to be at the starting block on time for your events so you have to pay attention! Sometimes there aren't any entrants in an event and it will be skipped.  The heat sheets will help you stay on top of that. 
6) Most meets will post state and citizen records somewhere at the meet.  If you think you could break a record for your age group and event, notify the starter and head timers.  Record attempts require 3 timers to be official and it is your responsibility to tell the officials that you are going for a record. 
7) If you are unsure of starting off the blocks or even diving from the edge, go ahead and do an in-pool start.  There will be swimmers of all ages and abilities at a Masters meet so you have nothing to fear, all types of starts will be used!
8) Have fun and Swim Hard!!!

Back to the meet...this year I elected to do the 1500 Free for my Friday evening event.  There was just one heat with about 5 of us entered.  I put down 32 minutes as my seed time.  This is a mental event more than a physical event for me.  It's a tough distance to stay engaged and focused and keep a consistent pace.  My previous time from this meet in 2010 was 32:35 so I was pretty happy when the timer told me I was under 29 min.  I'm still waiting for the official results to be released but I pretty happy with a 3:30 minute improvement!
I'm in green on the left side just before our 1500 start.

After the events on Friday, I headed to the club's board meeting.  I had reached out to the president about getting more involved and it was fun to attend the meeting.  I especially enjoyed the motion to elect me as Social Media coordinator!!! I'll be taking over the Facebook, Twitter, and Blog feed for the Arkansas Masters!

Saturday morning I got to the pool around 8:30 for the meet start at 9:00.  I was super nervous since I was trying out a new event...50 m Breast stroke.  I decided on 4 events for Saturday which were 50 Breast, 100 Free, 50 Back, and 200 Free. 

First up for me was the 50 breast and I was in the 2nd heat.  After the first heat, the official had a conversation with a participant about her stroke form and it appeared she was being DQ'd.  That increased my nervousness even more.  Turns out she was pulling below the waist which isn't allowed in breast stroke.  My start was a little iffy since I initially forgot to kick properly and caught myself starting to flutter.  Kick fix and I was on my way doing the breast stroke! About half way down the pool I realized that it's a long way, 3/4 of the way down I wanted to be done! My time was just under 1 minute...barely. 
Whoops, bad form with a way too wide kick!

Up next after a quick rest was the 100 free.  I swam in the 2nd heat and managed just over 1:30 for the distance which was a few seconds improvement over my time in 2010. 

The 50 back was stressful since I was assigned lane 1 next to the wall and the official.  In outdoor pools I struggle to stay in a straight line for back stroke.  So I was worried about running into the wall and I was worried that somehow I would make a form mistake with the official watching.  With those two things making me nervous I got started okay.  For the first 15m or so I stayed straight and then I slowly moved to the lane divider on my left and promptly ran into it.  That startled me and I tried to get back on course.  I ran into the divider a couple more times but soon enough I spotted the flags and new I was just a few strokes from finishing! My time was just under 53 seconds which was in line with my previous time. 

My last event was the 200 free.  My finish time was around 3:18 which I was happy with since I stayed pretty close to the other competitor in my heat for most of the race.  Overall, it was a good meet for me and I had a good time swimming the events and chatting with the other swimmers. 

After the meet was over, we headed over to Greg's house for the meet social.  Greg and his wife Kim had a great pasta lunch spread and a beautiful shaded deck where we enjoyed the meal.  It was a perfect finish to the meet since I was starving given my nerves kept me from eating much before the meet!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rush Hour - Mile Repeats

Monday's Facebook post from the Rush Running team was quite the anomaly.  Normally, Mike Rush and Drew promise pain and torture not free stuff! The Rush team had a few leftovers from the War Eagle trail race series so they gave out tons of PowerBar gels and Gu gels during the workout.  Mike is very generous and shares with the community whenever he can. 

The workout he prescribed was 3 by 1 mile repeats.  The mile repeats were to be done at 5K pace with the 3rd lap of each at a hot pace of nearly 25 sec per mile faster for that 400.  I had spent the weekend doing back to back triathlons and so my goal for the night was to just get some mileage in and try what I could handle of the workout. 

I got in a slow warmup or around 2 miles before the workout.  It was warm and sunny out and I didn't feel very sprightly! My first mile came in okay around a 9:30 pace which isn't where Mike prescribed but quick for how tired I felt.  I started on the 2nd mile and just didn't have the heart to withstand the heat and effort.  I took a break after a lap and went to stand in the shade for a minute.  It helped and I gave it another go to finish out the mile.  It was disjointed but felt good to try to persevere.  I ended with a cooldown walk and 4.25 miles for the night. 

After everyone had finished, Mike offered up a few more giveaway items. 

He didn't tell us much about how he would select winners just told us to find a partner.  Once everyone was matched up, he got us started in a rousing game of Rock Paper Scissors.  Yep, that's how he determined who would win some hydration gear and new sunglasses! We started out with 60 people playing and whittled it down on a one shot game until just four were left.  It was a fun way to end the workout. 

Bonus, after the workout I stopped by my friend Brent's house to pick up the Walmart International Cycling kit that I had ordered.  It turned out great and the sizing is perfect.  I can't wait to try it out and will of course have pics to share.  The kits were custom ordered from Primal and look so professional.