Thursday, April 26, 2012

30 Hours

OK, so here's the actual race report and the ensuing FUN after the race!

The swim.  Oh right.  There was no swim:)  Which is really too bad because I was very excited to get all freaky!

The race started with a 2 mile sprint run.  The pros went off in a mass start first while the age groupers had a time trial start with 2 people starting every 10 seconds.  PIC and I had warmed up on the 2 mile course so at least we knew this part of the course.  Of course, there was still 65.1 miles to figure out but hey, you do what you can!  Anyway, as you probably suspected, the run was fairly flat with a tiny uphill there and back.  On the way it was great - tailwind!  The way back?  Not so much...huge headwind.  The difference for me ended up being 15 seconds per mile.  Anyway, I started out with new friend Dr. PIC. She's a great runner and said she was going somewhat conservatively so I just followed her.

The run ended up being a tad bit longer than 2 miles since I was still around the corner from transition when I heard my watch beep the mile mark.

T1 was pretty simple!  Pop on the helmet, stuff my First Endurance Liquid Shot into my top, and voila!  I'm outta there!

The bike.  I was kind of worried about the bike since the winds had been so fierce all morning.  Was it going to be a brutal 15mph kind of day?  Leaning into the crosswind for half of the ride only to turn around and lean the other way? Would my shoulders be tired from grasping holding onto the aerobars to stay upright?  I had specific heart rate instructions/goals from Coach (one of the reasons for the fire drill for a new HR strap the night before) as well as specific nutrition instructions.  My legs felt pretty good from the start so I took advantage of feeling strong and went hard.  Like I was supposed to do!  Immediately I passed women from my age group that had started ahead of me but with a time trial start I really didn't know where I was at.

The course is flat.  Flat.  Flat.  Which sounds awesome for someone coming from the land of hills and mountains.  There were a couple of causeways that provided a bit of up and down but really it was just flat.  So, I pedaled and pedaled and pedaled.  There weren't many turns so I just focused on heart rate and nutrition.  My only flaw in my prep was that I forgot to pre-open my mocha liquid shot!   And for some reason, there weren't any perforations in the wrap so it took me forever to open it with my teeth.  While in aero.  I would check my speed every once in a while and was surprised to see I was hovering at 21.5mph.  The winds were not effecting my speed as much as  I thought.  And, my hands were relaxed so I wasn't hanging on for dear life.  I certainly knew when I was in a headwind and I'm pretty sure my speed fell to 15 then.  The only other "flaw" I encountered was a course mis-step.  See, I had been passing and passing and had only been passed by some relay cyclists.  Finally, a man with a 54 on his calf passed me and I welcomed the break from the monotony of the course.  I could follow him (legally- duh) and have him act as a sort of "bogie".  But said man took a wrong turn.  I followed him.  D'OH.  As soon as I turned I knew we were off course and he looked around too.  There were no other athletes around to confirm but I immediately turned around.  A couple of minutes later I saw some athletes coming at me so phew....on course.  There was a turnaround ahead and I counted females - only 2. They were either in my age group or older so worst case scenario I was in 3rd.

I caught one of them a few miles later and she was in my age group.  So now I'm in second.  There was another turnaround and I noticed I hadn't made any ground on the 1st place gal and she was just far enough ahead that I couldn't really see her.  I kept pushing and pedaling and eating and drinking.  Remember when I said the course was flat?  Yeah, about mile 40 I wanted hills.  I needed to stand up and stretch but there were no opportunities for that - no turns no hills.  Just keep pedaling.  Finally I arrived back in town and in transition.  52 mile bike in 2:23.

T2 and off on the run.  Yuck.  I did not want to run again.  My tummy was a bit off and worse than that my legs were protesting.  Clearly, I had ridden fairly hard.  OK, Coach said to ease into the first 3 miles see where I'm at and go from there.  Mile 1 7:19.  Hmmm.  Not really "easing" into the run but I'll take it since my legs really didn't feel like they belonged to my body.  Mile 2 not much slower.  OK, I'm liking this pace so let's go with it and just make sure my heart rate doesn't do anything crazy.  I forced sipped my liquid shot every 2 miles.  It wasn't that hot - the wind was still blowing and it was kind of cool - but I still used sponges and water on the head.  Always a good wake-up call.  The cool thing about the 2 lap run was that there were 3 spots to see people ahead/behind you.  At the first one, I saw friend Sydney and she was waving saying hi and keep up the good work.  Really cool coming from someone in your age group:)  At the next turnaround, I was passed by the gal I had passed in the bike - she was hauling ass.  No worries, stay in the game.  I saw Syd and Sonja this round.  Sonja yelled at me to march (something she had learned at the Kompetitive Edge/Newton run clinic the weekend before).  I knew exactly what she was talking about  and it gave me something to think about.  The miles were ticking off all within 20 seconds of the first mile and I was feeling good about that.  My legs had finally come around and I felt as normal as one can that far into the race.  Eat, drink, march, arms, lean.  Find your strong.  Those were my mantras.  Keep going!!!  Sonja's mom had confirmed to me that I was second off the bike so I knew I was probably third but I wasn't sure what Sydney was doing.  And she was getting closer.  I started thinking about Worlds in Vegas - I wanted a slot.  I didn't know how many slots my age group was going to get but I figured 3rd place had a decent chance at one or a roll-down.  That kept me going.  Mile 10 was ugly, I hit the 8 minute/mile mark and had a bit of a cramp.  But 2 miles to go......that's right, suck it up buttercup.  And that's what I did.  My run ended up at 1:41 which I am super proud of......lots of improvement in just the last few months!!
Finishing the first loop.

The fun part.  Sonja started behind me and I kind of wanted to hold her off 'cuz I knew she was coming!  I could tell on the bike that she was riding well, and we know she pretty much always runs well off the bike.  The first time I saw her I thought I had a chance to hold her off!!!  But as I made my turn off the loop course and into the finish I heard her......"Ford" "I was hoping to hold you off!!".  I picked it up as much as I could and she pulled up next to me.  Son: Hold hands down the finish shoot?  Me:  Yeah!!!  So, that's exactly what we did.  What perfect timing!!!  Oh, and that little push at the end?  Probably secured 3rd place!  Syd was 4th only 2 seconds behind!!!

The really fun part.  Seeing friends after the race and doing race recap!
Do you know how many pictures like this PIC and I have?  Typical post-race recap pose!

Kompetitive Edge athletes representing at NOLA!  Sonja and Mark Hillers won overall amateur and Brandon Jessop had an impressive Pro race!

Sydney, me, Dr. PIC, PIC and Hayley.
So, although it had occurred to me during the race that I might not get a Worlds slot, I realized how much I wanted that slot after the race.  Finally, I figured out how many slots my age group was getting.....2.  And I was 3rd.  Darn.  It came down to a possible roll-down.  Right before awards started (and right when they were closing the slots before roll-down) I went and checked if they had been claimed.  NO!!!  So, since I didn't bring a check or enough cash to cover the entry, my sugar mama PIC wrote a check and I'm going to Vegas Baby!!!  I'm very excited:)
Even though 1 and 2  didn't take their slots they showed for awards.  You mean not everyone wants to go to worlds?   Weird huh.  
Thanks as always to my wonderful sponsors!!  Kompetitive Edge has outfitted me once again in the most comfortable tri kit ever (TYR Carbon) and Ryan always keeps my bike running great.  Speaking of my bike, Quintana Roo bikes rock.  That's all.  And they are super duper fast - I absolutely adore my CDO.1!  And Ron and Punk Rock Racing - thank you for all that you do:)  Oh, and the new Mocha Liquid Shot by First Endurance is AWESOME!!

Since this post is getting a bit LONG, let me just say that the really fun part was.....really fun.  New Orleans is everything it is cracked up to be.  I absolutely love the city.  The people of New Orleans are beyond friendly.  And yes, Bourbon Street is, um, quite a place.  But I'm just going to leave you with a couple of pictures because you know the saying....what happens in NOLA stays in NOLA.  Unless you run into them at 5am in the Southwest check-in line.  Ugggghhhh.

And that, my friends, is how you cram a race and lots of fun in 54 short hours:)

The sights and sounds of New Orleans

We'll just call this the third drink.....
A wedding parade down the middle of Bourbon Street

Midnight beignets and beads! Yes, I am shoveling them in:)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

54 Hours

Actually, just the first 24 hours.....

This past weekend was all about how to cram as much "life" as possible into a mere 54 hours in New Orleans.  PIC and I were determined to squeeze every last drop of action/eating/racing/fun into those hours!  See, we didn't arrive until midnight on Friday.  With a race Sunday, well, that's a quick turnaround.  Since I'm a big believer in the "best sleep 2 nights before the race", this late fly-in comprised my normal state of being in bed at a totally reasonable hour.  But when you have a free ticket on Southwest....well, you lose some sleep!

After getting a decent amount of sleep, it was beignet time.  I have been thinking about beignets since about the time I signed up for this race a couple of months ago.  Beignets beignets up and at 'em and before we do anything else, it's off to Cafe du Monde for BEIGNETS!!!  Oh my, they were every bit as good as I had hoped.

From there it was shopping at the French Market - so cool.  Found some fun masks for the girls and some t-shirts for PIC and me.  It was raining and although I wanted to explore the city more, it was time to go to packet pick-up and build my bike.

There had been a big question mark about this race for the last few days.  The weather had not been favorable during the week and was not getting any better approaching race day.  NOLA had cancelled the swim last year and it was starting to look as though we would have a repeat of that scenario.  The wind forecasts were ridiculous!!  Rumors were going around that the swim had been cancelled but I figured that until we heard it from race management directly, I wasn't believing anything.  Sure enough, 20 minutes later, the race director sent the email.....the race was now a duathlon with a 67.1 mile distance:  2 mile run, 52 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.   My very first duathlon.
This picture does NOT give the conditions justice - it was much worse than it looks here.

Now, lots of people have been asking me how I really felt about a tri being changed to a du.  But, really, there is just not that much to say!  I respect race management's decision to cancel the swim - the water looked really ugly in the afternoon.  And there was storm debris on the course which led to the shorter bike. The last thing I want/need to do is complain and/or stress about something that is NOT in my control.  Yes, I was disappointed that this meant I was probably out of the *running* for a Vegas Worlds slot.  But maybe not, my run has seen lots of improvement the last several months.  So I knew that whatever the day brought I would race as hard as I could.
It was windy!!
Anywho, the rest of the day went great!  I was a bit tired and managed to get a killer nap in and kept up with the good eating.  Bike check-in and dinner and time to get the rest of the bags ready.  And, time for the first firedrill of the year.  It appeared that for some reason my heart rate strap did not make the trip.  Which is so unusual because that thing is pretty much strapped to my body all.the.time.  But it's 8:30.  On a Saturday night.  In New Orleans.  The pit in my stomach dropped and the panic set in.  Ok, Ok, Ok, breathe deep.  I told Son and her mom and those 2 are just the BEST!  We started searching for sports stores and making phone calls and within minutes we set out in our jammies for Sports Authority.  Yikes. An hour later, we were back and I had a new HR monitor and strap in my possession.  Once again, a pre-race issue that was easily solved by throwing just a bit of money at it:)

Pre-race nerves didn't set in until the strap situation.  And from there, I was a bit nervous.  I still slept fairly well but was ready to DU this thing at 4:30am.  Let's go!!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Boulder Spring Half Mary

Such an exciting race weekend!!  Oceanside on Saturday and tracking athlete Peter to a 28 minute PR!!  And watching Beth and her pro debut as well as all the other great ladies that had their first pro race this week.  And Sunday, Galveston 70.3 and cheering for PIC from afar.  But there was a good reason for me to be 900 miles away from Galveston.  I had my own little race to do.  A half marathon.

My photographer for the day.  Thanks family for coming up and supporting mom!
Nerves started setting in for this race about the time I saw the heart rate plan from Dirk 3 weeks ago.  Umm really?  Are you sure you don't have me confused with someone else's heart rate?  That's been the "fun" part of working with Dirk.....exploring heart rates that I thought were no longer existent in my body.  But I saw that plan and talked to Coach.  What was I worried about he asked?  Well, clearly that I will blow up and die.  In typical Dirkinator fashion, he assured me I would not die.  And if I blew up?  Good lesson learned.  So for the last couple of weeks I really just tried to get my head around running for that long at that high a heart rate.

The last time I ran an open 1/2 marathon was back in 2009 - that's a long time!  And just for giggles, I went back and read that post!  Oh my, how things change and oh how they stay the same!!  But I wish I had my heart rate data from that race - see, I don't have my garmin files from way back when sooooooo I am just guessing what I was aiming for.  I do remember from that 2009 race pushing very hard at the end and not having much left at all......

Sunday morning came along and I had a bit of a nervous tummy but had plenty of time before the race.  I have been reading and cooking from the Feed Zone cookbook (love it!) and decided to eat a breakfast that should be easily digestible - scrambled eggs and white rice.  Yum.  And it worked, I actually needed a few more calories about an hour before start time so that was a good "experiment".  So here I was, in Boulder, running a half marathon.  It had been a long time but it was a beautiful day and I just soaked in the sunshine and kept my mental preparation of big time sufferfest.  I drank a bottle of EFS with a scoop of pre-race and I was absolutely jittery and needed to start running!
Getting that pre-race down and trying to look pumped up!
Anywho, I thought I had my plan all thought out until I heard from Dirk again on Saturday afternoon.  And he bumped up the heart rate again!!!  Yikes!  I was pretty much going to blow this off and then the effects of the pre-race muddled my thought process.  Why not try his plan?  What do I have to lose?  What do I have to gain?  It's going to hurt any way you look at it so maybe this plan will get me to the finish line sooner.  Hmmmm.   The gun goes off and I decide I'm going for it.  No gradual build up to a "sensible" heart rate.  Just go from the gun.  Yee haw.

The first couple of miles were good!  I felt relaxed.....I was passing people.....I felt like a runner!  This course is TOUGH!  Please remind me to sign up for a flat running race next time!  Hills.  I didn't realize that the first half of the race is basically uphill.  Mile 3 was flat and that was great.  But a left turn onto a paved road and it is a steady little climb.  Crap!  I'm watching my pace get slower.  Well, it's clearly not going to be my pie-in-the-sky PR today - I need flat for that one.  But there is still a chance for just a good 'ol PR.  Another turn, a little bit of flat.  Another turn, more of that uphill.  Jeez!  Can a girl get a break?  Pace was not where I wanted it to be but there was no question that I was working hard.  Gah.

The course is an out and back so in mile 5, I started seeing the fast runners coming at me (and a KE athlete Mark Hillers leading the race) and noticed there weren't that many females ahead of me.  Like maybe 10? But, remember, my race math sucks.  I can't even count!  I hit the turnaround and saw my family cheering me on and I may have lifted my hand in a weak attempt at a wave.  This hurt.  But the turnaround meant.....a DOWNHILL.....finally!!  I hammered that sucker.  I wanted to make up some time from all the uphill.  That was my 3rd fastest mile of the day.  But then my pace slowed a bit again but started seeing runners from the 10 mile race and that helped keep me motivated.  The turn at 10 miles was not good.  It turned into a bit of an uphill and at that moment I experienced some weakness.  Like, I wanted to vomit and walk.  But no no no no. Keep pushing!!!!  Let's see what I have under the hood!!  Bret was a welcome sight with 2.5 miles to go.  At this point my quads were getting sore (race isn't even over yet) and I just. wanted. to. finish.  1 mile to go and I check my watch.  OK, PR is still in play!!  And that was the only thing that seemed to keep me moving.  Those were the slowest miles and could possibly be called the crash and burn portion of the race.
2.5 miles to go....where's that finish line?  Thanks Bret for the photo!
Finally the finish line and a look at my watch.....PR!  I finally broke out of the 1:40s and into the "30's".  It took me a while to even want to walk but I finally got some water down.  My tummy was still flipping me the middle finger.  Thank goodness for Denice at Honey Milk - she took care of getting me some much needed calories:)  And then I waited in the results line.

And the shocker, not only a PR but a place on the podium!!  In a run race!!  Good day.  And now it's back to triathlon and my next 1/2 mary will be at the end of a swim and 56 mile bike in, oh, about 2.5 weeks.  It'll be a great race to test my fitness and see how my ironman prep is coming along.

KE representin' at the race!  Jason 1st in his age group and Mark won overall!  (next time off the phone for the picture Mark OK?)