Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Don't Blink!!

Cuz it's not gonna last long.

This cold front, that is. Morning temps are below 70 for the first time since like April. There's a cool, crisp feeling to the air and NO wind. We're only going to get up to maybe 83 degs today. Incredible!!

Too bad my legs are not quite ready to run the 15-miler I have on tap for later this week. It's the perfect day for it. No, instead I have a swim to do. The lifeguards will probably be all bundled up in sweats shivering. Hell, I might have to wait until lunch time so I won't freeeeeze my patooey getting out. Do I even have any sweats?

Thanks for all the nice comments on my FL Challenge post. It was the most difficult half iron tri course I've done to date, even w/o the nutrition SNAFU, but I wouldn't want all races to be easy or go well, would I?

No, then it'd be boring and I'd have to move on to something more challenging :-)

Hope everyone has a great day!

Monday, September 28, 2009

2009 Florida Challenge

Well, they don't call it The Intimidator for nothing. The Florida Challenge was already the toughest half iron tri in Florida with its hills, heat and humidity. There was really no need to move it up a month and change the bike course to make things even tougher. Good grief.

Still, it was a good opportunity for me to practice racing my own race as Coach would say, get more training on the Great Floridian (GF) course, work on my ironman pacing, nutrition, etc. Dave, however, put as much work into it as if it were a real race so I'll show off some of his photo handiwork :-)

As expected, the water temp was too warm to be wetsuit legal so, sorry, no funny pictures of me dancing or wriggling to put the rubber suit on.

But, does this swim cap make my head look FAT?

Out of the water in 53:38, not fast but a new non-wetsuit 1.2 mi swim PR for me and many pink caps still behind me. 8/10 F45-49, 38/53 Female.

T1 - a leisurely 3:58 with too much time spent trying to pull on my tri top (not easy when wet) and then running my bike all the way to the end and around the transition area as required to avoid colliding with folks coming in from the swim. So much for being close to the Bike Out. It meant you had further to run with your bike -- ARGH!

My HR was 171(!) by the time I got to riding and took several miles to settle down. Climbing hills out of the saddle didn't help. I know it's hard to tell with my short legs so just work with me here ...

But that was just for show. I sat back down as soon as I passed the camera ;-)

Halfway on the bike course and being a good girl now staying seated spinning up hills, coasting down them and letting everyone and their grandmother pass me.

Not a very aggressive aero riding position at all but I can ride forever and back.

56(?) miles done in 3:25:38 (16.3 mph). My Garmin and others I spoke to said 58+ miles but it is what it is. 6/10 F45-49, 20/53 Female.

T2 - another leisurely 3:50 thanks to a pit stop. Probably the only time I'll ever pee on my bike is when I'm desperate. On to the run!

Whoa, who put a brick in my Camelbak?! Man, it felt like it weighed 20# (really only 6-7).

What's worse, though, I just realized I've somehow lost all the gels I had in a pocket. $#?@%!!! Surely there'll be some gels or food on the course, right?

Nope, just fluids. And extra from Mother Nature too. But the rain made the 98 deg heat index plummet down into the 80's for a while --Ahh!

Finishing lap 1 of the 2-lap course, keeping things slow and easy. A kind volunteer had given me a small bag of chips her friend had (the friend wasn't too happy about that, I might add) and I had one emergency gel in a separate pocket. All was not lost.

Ate the gel at the 6.55 mile turnaround and decided to walk through all aid stations and drink as much Gatorade as possible for extra calories. Now it was solely about survival.

Ended up doing a lot more walking when the sun came back out but, fortunately, it rained again and my final mile ended up being my fastest -- Yippee! 13.1 miles done in 2:18:34 (10:34 pace), 4/10 F45-49, 20/53 Female. Not the run I'd hoped for but far from my worst.

Me and my beautiful racing buddy Erica. We leapfrogged and encouraged each other on the bike and run segments.

Final race time: 6:45:23, 5/10 F45-49, 20/53 Female. Funny, it does not feel like a half iron PW (Personal Worst) at all.

Maybe it's because of the awesome medal I got.

Or perhaps it's because I know now I'll be happy with any finishing time at GF, which, BTW, is only FOUR weeks away - OMG!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

No, not that one!

Poor Coach has been sounding like a broken record player lately getting me to focus on my original iron goals instead of the tantalizing one (sub-13) that came along later and preoccupied me.

It's hard for me to let go of time goals but it must be done. This weekend I did a carefree 50-mile ride with Dave that helped. We hit those nasty hills late in the Great Floridian iron course again and I didn't even look at my Garmin (obviously, as it had turned itself off when I hit a bump and didn't even record anything for miles!). Though those hills were still far from easy, knowing what to expect was HUGE. In hindsight, I really let those buggers get to me last weekend. I just couldn't believe the course would end that way. Plus, I pushed too hard on some flats shortly before them thinking they wouldn't/couldn't be as bad as the ones in the first half of the course. Wrong!

I should know better than to assume, especially with the GF race motto being "Are You Tough Enough?"

After that 50-mile ride, I ran mainly by feel and pounded out 5 mi @ 8:34 pace, a new best run off the bike in 95-96 deg heat index. And the night before I'd run 13 miles @ 9:07 pace in 91-88 degs HI (got cooler after sunset). Un-freaking-believable. Was it not me who was cursing and struggling to run in 90 degs just a few short months ago?

Next weekend I'm doing the Florida Challenge half iron tri. It's held at the same venue as the Great Floridian but with GF only 4 weeks later, it'll not be a hard racing effort for me. Just an opportunity to train on more hills and practice my pacing, nutrition and transitions in a race situation. Maybe I'll also practice some of the hill training "tips" I saw on the GF race forum:

- Remember it's also 1/2 down hill!
- Train by getting a single speed fat tire bike and do a couple centurys
- Lock your front brake for training rides.
- Switch your front and back rings
- Remember that you won't have to worry about drafting.
- Move to Switzerland for the month of September.
- Get Lite! Buy one of those balloon kits & replace one of your water bottles with the helium for you to suck on before each hill.
- Find an overpass and tie bricks to the back of your bike.
- Before it's to late send money to the FL. state officials in exchange for two loops of the flats.
- Start practicing running hills in your bike shoes?
- Go for rides wearing your full wetsuit.
- Keep tires inflated to 40 psi.
- Stuff bottom bracket with 1/4" aggregate rocks.
- Train riding 15-18% grade hills with standard (non-clipless) pedals.
- Put on a set of Power Cranks for those 15-18% grade hills.

OK, perhaps just the first one, but I think it's good to have a sense of humor about doing GF.

Much congrats to Petra on running a hard-fought Boston Marathon qualifying race time last weekend in Berlin!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Oops, I Did It Again

Got WAY ahead of myself and lost sight of my original goal this year, which was "simply" to do 2 irons tris 2 weeks apart. No cares about finishing times, just make the cut-offs and have fun. After all, I am still an iron virgin!

I know this back-to-back iron nonsense may sound CRAZY to most of you, but I am someone who is motivated by the unusual. I'd much rather run marathons in all 50 states than shoot for a marathon PR (current PR 3:27:59). Only after running 21 marathons in 9 months did I dare try running my first-ever 5K. Ouch! To learn how to swim, I had to sign up for an Ironman (could not commit for anything less).

Some people have called me "hardcore" but I don't consider myself that, actually. WACKY would be a better description, I think.

But I am having fun, that's for sure. Perhaps too much at times as I have been accused of looking too smiley in my race photos. My apologies to anyone who may think I'm doing a disservice by making things look easy but I truly do feel fortunate to be alive and out there. In my younger days, I was a highly stressed out, malnourished workaholic who never thought (or cared if) she'd see her 40th birthday. Now approaching 50, I'm celebrating good health and making an effort to enjoy life whenever I can. And doing 2 irons this year, well, that just looked to me like a ticket to do more of that. (Plus, the training time and costs of doing both were not much different from doing one Ironman brand event anyway so it was like getting 2 for 1. And I am most definitely a bargain hunter :-)

But I must be reasonable with myself and Coach has put my head back on straight, again. My primary goal will be to start and finish both races healthy. If a certain desired race time (sub-13) comes with doing so, that's a bonus. If not, that's OK too. There'll be many opportunities for me to shoot for faster race times if I stay healthy and keep having fun.

So thank you to everyone who posted comments in my previous post. I'll be hitting the hills on the new GF bike course a few more times before race day (10/24) and by then should have one of only two thoughts:

A) Ready Freddy, all systems go.
or B) Still tougher than I'd like, but I got it.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Didn't Sign Up For This!

OK, last week was rough. I missed 3(!) workouts due to time constraints while working on a special project. I only managed to swim 3 out of 4 planned crossings at Lucky's Lake (got a bad headache during the first crossing, had problems sighting and focusing, then by the 4th crossing it began to rain making visibility even more limited, plus I'd be the only one out there swimming, so I wimped out). But those things happen ...

The big surprise happened on Sunday. I discovered that the Great Floridian (GF) 112-mile bike course has been changed!!

And NOT for the better, IMO. In the past, it's been a hilly first third with a fairly FLAT second third and some gentle rollers the last third. Here is what the elevation map looks like for this year's race (created using Bike Route Toaster):


So now the second half is quite hilly too with the last 12 miles being the worst. WTF???

And, of course, I did NOT know this when I signed up for the race last year or when I signed up for Beach to Battleship (B2B), another full iron tri, two weeks later. Looking at the race forum discussions, it appears that the race director began a thread talking about a bike course change just last July. Crap ...

Well, yesterday Dave and I did an organized bike ride called the Assault on Sugarloaf, which is the GF bike course, and found out the hard way. We didn't have time to study the course map or turn-by-turn instructions they gave us that morning so we just followed the orange arrows, like everyone else. But at ~mile 40, I knew something was up when we rolled past the turn-off for the flat section of the previous GF bike course and started heading back to the start. Then I realized that sign we saw earlier painted on the road (something about a 2nd lap) meant we'd be hitting the hills again. YIKES!

But the course is nice and flat for a bit early on. We resisted temptations to latch onto pace lines.

An aid station at ~mile 50. Thus far, we've ridden on hills, through rain and now the sun is coming out to bake us. What a welcome sight in the middle of nowhere.

Never let someone take a picture of you eating a banana.

At the halfway point, Dave is done. It began raining again as I headed out for the rest.

It was a lonely ride but I did see a few folks later at the aid stations. I'd be surprised if 50 people did the whole 112 miles.

But I was one of them. 112.4 miles in 6:54, a 16.3mph avg. Not a bad ride for me considering my Garmin said the course had ~5200 ft climbing (nearly double what I had anticipated!), we had rainy/wet conditions at times and there was no traffic control (so we had to obey all traffic laws). After I got done, Dave also discovered that my rear tire was not fully inflated (must have rolled over something and had a slow leak). Possibly it wasn't just the hills that turned me into a slug late in the ride?

Still, my legs were beat. Here are my thoughts about the new course:

Mi 1-60 - What I expected from the orig GF course so all is good.
Mi 60-100 - More hills than I'd like but manageable.
Mi 100-112 - Brutal, esp. in 90+ deg heat. I think I'm going to be sick.

So with that, I am rethinking my game plan knowing that this new GF bike course is going to wreak havoc on my race goals and the quick recovery I need to do B2B two weeks later. I need some input from you guys. What would you do or suggest?

A) Bail on GF and make B2B my "A" race.

B) Change to do the GF olympic distance race offered the same day and make B2B my "A" race.

C) Change to do the GF aquabike event (2.4 swim, 112 bike) offered the same day and make B2B my "A" race.

D) Do GF as planned but with modified race goals and hope to recover fast enough for a better finish at B2B.

(There is no bailing on B2B as my step-daughter and son-in-law are coming to cheer for me at that race, plus it's my birthday weekend)

OK, so please let me hear your thoughts. Hope none of your races have major course changes that would make them much harder either.

PS - Still way behind in my blog reading but trying to catch up before my Google Reader explodes!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Just a Quickie

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I'm short on time this week working on a special project so just some quick bullets with thoughts and happenings from last week.

  • New swimming motivation - Did another 4K swim at Lucky's Lake on Saturday. With now 10 crossings under my belt, I'd been thinking of joining the haloed 100K Club (those who've done 100 crossings). But after I got done, a guy told me he'd seen a small 3 foot gator on the other side earlier in the morning, and I don't think he was kidding. Dam gator! Now I'm going to have to swim faster and get all my crossings done before that thing gets too big for comfort.

  • Lightbulb moment - For the first time in months, Dave was actually home all week and he kicked my @ss on the bike on Sunday. We had 100 miles to ride and after mile 60, I had to back way off the 18-19 mph pace we were going to be able to finish the ride in good shape and run afterwards. Dave felt sorry for me and stuck with me. We ended up with a 17.3 mph avg but I ran the best I ever have off the bike, 4 miles at a 8:49 pace in 94 degs heat index. Click! I remembered what I was told at an IMFL training camp back in 2006: Give up 15 min on the bike and gain up to 45 min on the run. I believe it now.

  • More running in circles - I found another indoor marathon! This one's called The InStep Icebreaker Indoor Marathon and it's held in January in Wisconsin, a state I've not yet run in which is good. And it involves running "only" 95.4 laps vs. the 150 I ran at the Zoom Yah Yah Indoor Marathon last January in Minnesota since the track is bigger (443m vs. 282m). It's a guaranteed flat course with dry 50-55 deg conditions, no wind, 95 aid stations, 190 opportunities to use porta-potties. I don't think I can resist :-)

  • 50 in 50 by 49? - And speaking of marathons, originally, I was planning to complete my 50 states marathon quest in 2011 when I turned 50 but I've been thinking why wait? I only have 8 marathons/states left to do (WY, NM, WI, WV, DE, CT, RI, and VT) and could do them all next year. There are just so many unknowns in this economy. Some races are struggling due to sponsor cutbacks and traveling has become increasingly more difficult, esp. using frequent flyer miles, which I try to do whenever possible. Then there's the lure of moving to Hawaii early. Who wouldn't want that?

    Anyway, back to my project. I'll be catching up on what you've all been up to by the weekend!