Saturday, August 30, 2008

Today I Joined the 20+ Mile Club and Here’s What I Learned

  1. . Yes! I can run 21 miles, which bodes well for my imminent marathon in less than a month. Just tack on five more, right?

  2. It’s a mental game, I think, more than a physical effort. For the first time in a year, I listened to music when I ran, to block out all the mental crazies that convince me I have GI jostles, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, side stitches, thigh cramps. Somehow singing to Kanye West cures that.

  3. Twenty-one miles isn’t as long a distance as I had imagined. And while I ran for close to 3.5 hours, it didn’t feel much longer than the 18-miler I ran last month. Good sign? I think so.

  4. I still have plenty of work to do. The last 5-6 miles I swayed between energized running and desperate jog-slogging. Then there were the final two. So close to home, I flipped between “well, I’ve gone far enough; I can walk now” and “I’ve come this far; I can’t possibly walk now.” See? Total mental case… I mean, game.

  5. It hurts! But in a totally good way. I think. And now I must take a nap...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Don’t let it rub you the wrong way

We all have our personal stories about it. The blood. The pain. The agony. But when did you discover the reality of chafing?

Landon was the first person to tell me about bloody nipples. And like most people, I giggled. I didn’t get the chafe, however, until my first summertime ten-miler last year. In fact, I still have scars. My sports bra left a ring around my chest. My ill-chosen t-shirt left chafe seams all over my arms. Don’t even get me started on the tag at the back of my shorts.

Excuse me while I cringe.

You can imagine these things are weighing heavily in my mind as I prepare for the Akron Marathon on Sept. 28. It’s a little over a month away, and all I can think about is where I can buy Aquaphor and Body Glide in bulk. Maybe I can put it in a camelback for the run.

Who would have thought wardrobe would be such a big deal on race day?

Well, the bigger deal right now is building my mileage. After putting swim/cycle on hold until October, I finally broke my 10-miles-a-week pattern last week. I was raring toward 30-40 miles when I had another incident with the sidewalk that dorked up my left knee. Again. (Yes, please call my Iron Clutz from now on.)

I didn’t let it slow me too much (I missed the Bellefaire JCB Biathlon last weekend because I couldn’t bend my sticky scabbed knee enough to ride my bike, but went to cheer on JG who debuted his new roadie with a PR), even if I was stiff for the first couple days.

I hit the trails with Salty last week—managing not to fall despite staring almost exclusively at the rooty ground—and ran an 11-miler up, up and up the Heights on that 95-degree Thursday. I’m pretty positive about being able to build my distance in time for Akron, but I’ve arrived at one major problem: shoes.

Yes, another wardrobe malfunction.

See, I have two relevant pairs of running shoes. My first pair of Mizuno I bought about a year ago; my second pair of Mizuno I bought in February.

The first pair is obviously pretty shot. They have about six miles in them before soreness sets in.

The second has what I can the 13-mile ouchies. They feel great until about 13 miles when I can feel running’s impact in my ankles and arches, which moves up to my knees closer to 16-17 miles, which I imagine only gets better from there.

So, I’ve been training in the old shoes, “preserving” the second pair for Akron. Silly, isn’t it? Perhaps I’ll wear them both at the marathon—one pair for the first six, the other for 13 and barefoot that glorious last leg.

It was halfway through last week’s hilly 11-miler that I realized my tweener state of shoes. A month out I thought I could buy a new pair, but my last shoes took more than four months to break in. And my first marathon isn’t the place to try it.

Oh, lord, imagine the chafeage! Maybe it's just time to invest in Body Glide: I'll need plenty of it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Quiz: Food or Money?

Put all of your good qualities, outward caring and inhibitions aside, and tell me: would you rather have Bill Gates' money or Michael Phelps' 12,000-calorie daily requirement?

And be honest.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Greater Cleveland Tri... Duathlon

Lezak begins his ascent over BernardOK, first things first: how awesome was the men’s relay last night? I think that if they had swum Saturday night, we would have stormed the water at the Greater Cleveland Triathlon despite the swim being canceled (rough waters).

You can imagine that while I was wholly undertrained for the swim, I was pretty bummed about my best leg being cut from the race. But I did get some duathlon experience in its place. A little notice (or time to practice, a few months to brick back and forth) might have helped, but what’s a race organizer to do?

So, in lieu of 0.75-mile swim, the Olympic “tri” began with 1.25-mile run out and back above the beachfront. I sucked down some Roctane, Gu’s new endurance snot, when I was warming up and my heart was racing before I even hit the start. Watch that stuff!

First leg, wearing the parachuteStanding still at the start, I had some nerves, but the excess caffeine and stuff kicked up my HR to 199! The ill effects dorked up my breathing and actually made me feel a little fatigued before I took my first step. It didn’t really subside until about three miles into the bike. So much for that stuff!

I’m happy to report, however, that my opening run was A-OK. Lucky for me, I found Jen before the start, and she knew our first-run distance. (Jen’s not only a great athlete; she knows everything! And man was she flying when she passed me on the bike!) Otherwise, I was just going to follow the pack until I happened upon my bike in transition.

Because I’d never done a duathlon, I didn’t really know how to take the run. It was only 1.25 miles, so could I run it fast? Should I?

A little over a mile? I can hoof that! So, for the first half I did: 4:00 at halfway point (6:24/mile). It was pretty windy and my sweatshirt ballooned and dragged like a parachute. Lovely. Then it dawned on me that I, umm, still had to ride my bike farther than I’ve ever ridden and then run again! Ahh, duathlon.

I put it on cruise for the second half and finished in 8:11 (6:32/mile).

Surprisingly, I felt all right after the run (it was only 1.25 miles) and only a little weird hopping on the bike. Maybe the first 6+ miles were all settling into bricking this way? But it took about the first ten miles for me to stop convincing myself that, OK, that feels like a flat tire or, no, that feels like my tires are low. (Don’t you love paranoia?)

In case you’re unfamiliar with the GCT Olympic bike route, it looks something like this:
Greater Cleveland Tri bike route elevation
Don’t let it fool you, though. That (insert expletive) is uphill both ways!

Nevertheless, the ride gave me plenty of hill-training I haven’t done since the new-bike era, and by mile 12 I was still on pace to meet my 93:00 goal.

Enter the bump in the road.

On the way plus side, I took my first aid station on the bike (I’m not comfortable yet riding without both white-knuckled hands on the bars) and sprayed Gatorade like a geyser so high the whole station cheered my spectacle.

Returning from cycling leg with Gu stuck in my shirt. Like the classy girl I am.The not-so-good side: a girl crashed on her bike and totally destroyed her bike chain right in front of me. I stopped to make sure she was OK, and even tried to apply my bicycle naivete to her chain. Poor gal: I think we were somewhere between miles 12 and 14.

Once she started back for the last aid station, I turned around to, you guessed it, one big mama hill. The Kirtland Hills hill that climbs like 500 feet in a quarter mile. And I was at a dead stop. I mounted my bike and tried to push off, but only rolled back. Looking around me, every single person had dismounted and walked to the top. So, I succumbed.

Now I was a 5-6 minutes back and tried to pedal hard to catch up to my goal self. I played passing games with several people and totally wimped out on the major downhill speed opportunities on the road back (I admit it, I brake until my bike squeals going down big hills!).

Crazy lakefrontThe wind managed to be in my face the whole ride, but my favorite moment came as I sped down the final stretch. Last year, I remembered passing the “Your Speed Is” radar machine on Heisley Road. I was proudly rolling at 20 mph; a guy on a tri bike flew by over 45 mph.

I knew it was coming about a half-mile out, so I started pedaling hard in whatever my highest gear and hit the downhill at a considerable clip. The two people before me passed the machine. 35 mph, 38 mph. And when I passed? 42 mph. What a difference a bike makes.

Somewhere I picked up a couple minutes and finished in 1:30:52 (15.75 mph). Not bad for my longest ride, complete with stop, help and walk! Oh yeah, and the freakin’ mega hills too.

Let it not be a secret I was pretty tired at T2, and just not happy that I had to run. Again! Didn't I already cross that off my to-do list?

It was pretty slow going at first: my legs were pretty tight for mile one, which I finished around 10:00. And I was just getting warm before mile two when my GI tract got a little unhappy. I walked a few minutes to settle that down, and I was really warmed by how many people ran by and cheered me on to just keep going. Oh, little did they know... hee hee.

It took about 15:00 to complete mile two, but as I crossed into the second half of the race at 37:00, I was feeling all right with no ill effects on my digestive system. I stopped paying attention to time, but can deduce that it took me 37:00 for the first 5K (11:54/mile) and 25:00 for the second (8:02/mile) for a final run time of 1:02:03. At least I finished strong.

Yum: Corbo's cookies!Swim or no swim, it was a fun day at the races. I finished in 2:44:30, ate a hot dog and feasted on raspberry-filled cookies from Corbo’s after I showered and changed at home. Not only was I pleased to finish the unexpected race, but I was amazed that I could smell just as bad running-biking-running as I did when I swam in the lake too!

Having the swim cancelled was a lot like have your flight canceled for weather. You realize it’s unsafe to go and that the people making that decision know much better than your own meathead, but you’re still a little disappointed and wish there were something you could do. But there’s not.

Hanging out with Jen before the race.So why not have a swell time of it? Not only did I get to spy Jen at least once each leg of the race, I crossed Papa Louie during the 10K and caught scores of other athletes I’ve known within and outside the blogosphere. Congrats to TriGuyJT and all the chicas who ran the half, and big high fives to all!

Particularly to my mom and Neil, who were kind enough to wake up before dawn to cheer me on, keep me going, and still love me when I smelled that bad. I'll have to share a photo of how cute Neil looks in my GCT tech tee. It fits him perfectly.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Up and At 'Em!

So, it's finally race day. I stayed up a little late last night to watch Michael Phelps win the gold in 400 IM, but had to sleep while Katie Hoff and Dara Torres did whatever they pulled (don't tell me! I'm going to watch when I get home!).

But all the lying-in-bed-and-wondering I did last night, led me to the following goal for today:

Swim (~1320 yards/1200 meters): 30:00
Bike (~24 miles): 15.5 mph or 93:00
Run (10K): 9:20/mile or 58:00
Transitions: <4:00

Overall first-Olympic goal: 3:05:00

I'll just be happy, though, with a good attitude and a little bit of grace (I've lacked that in my recent races). And, you know, some good food at the finish.

Now, if it could just warm up a bit outside, that would be great!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

All in Good Fun

One of my favorite things about race day is actually the day before race day. OK, maybe the two days before race day. Sure, I try to get in some really light workouts and plenty hours of rest, but it’s the food that always wins me over.

Gnocchi, multigrain pilaf, brown rice, linguine, sweet potatoes, buckwheat pancakes, everything that’s just plain carbolicious! All carbs are welcome here. The carbier the better!

While the food gives me real energy for race day, I think it does me a good mental trick too. So, about halfway through tomorrow’s running leg, when I’m ready to call it a day, I’ll remind myself that I’ve eaten a week’s worth of spaghetti in the past 72 hours. How could I possibly not have the oomph to kick it on home with that in my tank? That burrito from the other day? That will makes miles 20-24 on the bike cake. And, well, the cake I’ll pick up at Corbo’s or Presti’s after the race tomorrow… that will just make it all worthwhile.

Everything that goes into race-day prep, though, seems worthwhile. Like my bike ride on Friday morning that ended fast with a flat tire! It was planned as a short ride—one last brick before Sunday—so I didn’t bring a patch kit or air pump.

Lucky for me, I was only three miles from home when my smooth ride felt bumpy. A nail popped the back tire and left me looking pretty awesome, running down some big streets in full cycling attire (it only took me about one mile to take off my helmet). I’m thinking I should start the bike-running phenomenon now!

I popped my bike in the trunk and took her to Eddy’s for a quick change. It feels pretty secure right now; if only my paranoia were in check. You know I’ll be wondering whether my tires are flat or if the road is just bumpy for 24 whole miles!

When I visited Mentor Headlands this afternoon for packet pick-up, I tried to ease my paranoia on another front: open water swimming. I’ve hit the open water as a triathlete a total of three times. And while I try to practice open-water techniques at the pool, I’m really going to hit the lake hard next year t\o get my head out of the worrying clouds.

To ease what’s been ailing my head since my disastrous Huntington showing, I thought I’d hit the beach today and just get cozy with my lake.

Erie, however, had other plans.

The waves were just plan crazy! My plan was to just run straight into the water, swim for 5-10 minutes and go home (where we’re still unpacking, nesting, moving) to chill. I made it about thigh-deep before the waves almost took me out. While I had a blast wave-diving when I was a kid, I wasn’t going to pick up any confidence points this way.

So, I just reminded myself that last year’s dip went well; this year would just be twice as long. I just hope the Coast Guard doesn’t have to yell at me again for swimming off course too far! Besides, Olympic swimming finals start tonight. And if that doesn’t give me a rise, I don’t know what will. Maybe this goody-bag Carb-boom! will do….

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Calling All Olympians!

Remember when it used to be bright and sunny at 6 a.m.? It was so easy all summer to fly out of bed and hit the street before work. What’s with all this early morning dark?

Fall, my friend, is upon us. But not before we squeeze in a few triathlons.

And having run about ten miles each week since being sick, not biked at all and merely dipped in the pool six (count ‘em: 1-2-3-4-5-6!) times this year, I’d say it’s high time for my first Olympic triathlon, eh? Ahh, nothing like cramming.

It’s not all for naught: I have some serious garden action going on (butternut squash, orange sun peppers, two tomato varieties and herbs o’plenty) and a landscaped front yard to show for the summer. I wonder how building a retaining wall will fuel my run at the Greater Cleveland Triathlon (join us: late registration on Saturday) on Sunday…

Two weeks ago I was all about feeling sorry for the sad state of my training. I even considered skipping this race or just downgrading to sprint. But I don’t doubt I can finish an Oly tri. Sure, I’ve never ridden my bike for 24 straight miles, and I’ve only bricked twice this summer, and, yeah, that whole not swimming much at all point.

My solution: have a good time. I’ve gotten away this year from digging race day. You know: you under-train, you’re unprepared and you can’t expect your best performance. No pain, no gain, right? Race after race, though, it just wears on you.

Dara Torres has a swell timeAt least I have my garden.

And what better weekend to race my first Olympic triathlon? If you haven’t heard, I’m a total Olympic junkie. The mere THOUGHT of Dara Torres gives me chills; the SIGHT of Michael Phelps makes me giddy. Let the fun/games begin!

So, why not do an Olympic tri this weekend? Good weather, good health, good spirits. All I need is to have one good time.