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Friday, June 12, 2009

Rockman Triathlon

So, I am a little late with the race report, but better late than never, right?

As I mentioned previously, my friend from high school (Michelle) and I met up again after not seeing each other in 11 years. It turned out that she was an Ironman triathlete too, but she lives in Minnesota now. So, we picked a race in between our homes to do together. As I'm not trained well enough for a half, we picked the sprint distance of the Rockman Triathlon in Rockford, IL.

I drove up to Illinois on Friday morning after a wonderful night's visit with another high school friend and her family in the Toledo area. I made the mistake of waiting to stop for a pit stop until I hit Illinois not knowing I would be smack dab in Chicago traffic. By the time I hit that rest stop, I really HAD TO GO! I eat like crap on long drives (don't judge me!). I decided I deserved a McDonald's hamburger. The problem was they were still serving breakfast. WTF! It was 11:30! Well, apparently, not in Illinois. I forgot about central time.

After we met up at the hotel (a Staybridge Suites - highly recommend with their free laundry room and large room with a kitchen), we decided to go swim in the race lake. One of the race guys told us we'd need to enter at the dock away from the beach, because the resident director (known by the locals as Hasselhoff) wouldn't let racers onto the beach or out on the course from the beach. The problem was the entry at the dock was DISGUSTING! Michelle made me go first. We swam a loop of the half-Ironman course in around 20 or so minutes. The weeds in the lake were so high that they literally wrapped around my arms and totally freaked me out. There was no way I was going back for another loop. RD said the lake had been treated, so I can't imagine what the weeds were like before. Getting out of the water by that dock was even more disgusting. We had brown stuff all over our wetsuits and faces - GROSS!

Neither of us was well trained for the race, so we decided to make it a training weekend and just train through the race. On Saturday morning, we headed out from our hotel on our bikes to the race course. When we got to the transition area, we actually got to meet the RD. He was funny and understandably stressed, but he educated us on the transition flow and sprint swim course (thankfully on a non weedy section of the lake). He is also the one who told us about Hasselhoff. We then headed out to do the sprint course and then ride back to the hotel. We did 30 miles total.

The next morning the forecast called for rain. Boo! It held off until the half-Iron folks headed out on the swim. We had to wait an hour to begin our swim. Before the National Anthem, the RD announced that the guitarist for Cheap Trick, Rick Nielson, was there. My hubby is a big fan and had told me the day before that Cheap Trick was from Rockford and that I should let him know if I met any of them. Yah right! Well, soon after the announcement, this guy in a Cheap Trick shirt walks up to us, tells us how glad he is to see us and gives both of us a hug. I was grinning from ear to ear. I checked later and it was definitely him. Very cool!

Soon enough, we were headed on the swim. I just concentrated on smooth strokes and staying straight. I hit every buoy dead on. My swim was a little slower than I'd like, but I was pleased with my sighting. Of course, there was a big hill to climb to get to transition. According to the results, I was 79th out of 122 swimmers. By the time I got out of T1, I was in 65th place. Goes to show you that practicing transitions is very important!

As you know, the bike is my favorite, so I started passing people like it was my job. I passed one guy, who then passed me back, but then I passed him and didn't see him again on the bike. Remember this guy because he comes into the story later. No one else passed me on the bike. By the time I finished the bike, I was in 41st place and in 40th place by the time I hit the run (again, transitions!).

The run course was hilly, but I don't mind hills. I'd like to say I didn't have much giddyup, but I think I just couldn't motivate. I was having too much fun chatting with others around me. The guy from the bike part came up to me and asked if I was the girl on the Cervelo. Now, we all know that there are lots of Cervelos out there, but I knew he was talking about me. I said "Yep". He said "Man, I tried to hang with you, but I couldn't." It made me feel good. It also made me wonder why I don't just race bikes instead of doing the triathlon stuff.

So, I finished the run and ended up in 59th place overall out of 122. My friend Michelle who is a much better swimmer, comparable biker and runner could not be caught. She finished over 2 minutes ahead of me and was 46th place. I was 5th in our age group out of 15 (13th woman out of 44). Michelle was 2nd in the age group and 9th female.

Here are my times:
Swim plus run up beach: 11:23
T1: 1:41
Bike: 38:23 (19.4 mph pace)
T2: 1:04
Run: 28:15 (9:07 pace)
Total time: 1:20:47

Given the shape I'm in and that I ran a half-marathon last weekend on little training, I'm proud of my performance. It was also a great way to catch up with an old friend and to experience a new shared interest together!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Concord Distance Classic Half-Marathon

So, I actually raced yesterday for the first time in months. Matt had signed up for the Concord Distance Classic half-marathon and he wasn't totally prepared, so I figured I could join him being only slightly more prepared than him.

A few days before the race, the race director sent out a rather frantic e-mail basically telling us that way more people signed up than he expected. Parking would be tight and there would be limited bathroom opportunities (3 businesses in the plaza opened up the doors for runners to use the bathrooms - absolutely no porta potties).

Knowing that fact, Matt and I didn't get there until 30 minutes before it was supposed to start. We snagged the last parking spot in one of the lots, then headed for the registration area. I was pleasantly surprised with how organized the volunteers were and with the nice drawstring bags and no-sleeved running tech shirts that we got.

We stopped back at the car to drop off our goodies and to pee basically in the open next to one of the office buildings. Hey, I'm not shy about stuff like that!!

The morning was very sunny, but quite cool in the shade (perfect running temperatures). I still opted for my red CTC tank running top paired with my black Triks skort. We ran into some good friends there (SY, Salty, CV, etc.) Here is a picture of me waiting for the start.

Our plan was to run together and to pace about 10 minute miles with an overall goal time of 2:11. It was just another training run given our respective undertraining instead of a race. We were just hoping to survive it and not go above a 10 minute overall pace.

The race started about five minutes late and I was chilly, but soon we were on our way. The pack took off and apparently, I felt the need to keep with them. Matt let me pace. We hit the first mile marker in 9:06. Oops, a little fast. Matt asked me to reign it in a little, so I didn't blow myself up. The next mile was a little slower, but probably a little too fast. I kept saying "but we are going downhill and I want to bank some time before hitting the uphills".

Around mile 2, we spotted my in-laws, who are always the best fan support! Then, a mile later, I saw GP, who was a welcome surprise! I kept up a fairly even pace for the first 6 miles.

The uphills finally came just after mile 6. I was actually glad to see them, because I knew that I could catch some people here. All of my training during the winter with the downtown girls on the hills in the Flats and my recent training with Hallie on the N. Chagrin hills was about to pay off. When you see my splits later, you may disagree, but some of the hills were steep and some were long, but I was steadily plowing through the crowd. It was just after mile 6 when I started putting a gap on Matt unintentionally. I wondered what happened to him, but found out later, he was taking these and uploading them to Facebook while running:

I figured he would eventually catch up, so I kept plowing along. I recalled from the race director's e-mail that there was a water stop at mile 8. I took my chocolate Hammer gel right before that aid station. When I got there with the chocolate paste taste in my mouth, all they had was red Powerade and no water. Now, I have been around long enough to know that you aren't supposed to combine Powerade and gel, but I really needed a drink. My stomach threatened to rebel, but I told it to suck it up and thankfully it did. About that time, Matt caught up with me again, partly because I intentionally walked the aid station (only time I walked the whole race) in the hopes of regrouping. He told me that if I was feeling good I should go for it. I was, so I did. He took this picture a half-mile later.

Just after mile 10 marker, the course started heading downhill again. I picked the pace back up despite my groaning knees. I saw a group of 6 people walking in front of me. I almost caught them when they started running again. I hate when that happens. I never did catch up with them again.

My legs never really did get that dead feeling like they usually do around mile 10. I either paced myself well, or coming in undertrained was a good thing. I was able to pick the pace back up and finish strong at 2:07:58. I started to head backward on the course to find Matt, but all of a sudden he was right behind me. Turns out that he tried to catch me by the finish line, but I beat him by 12 seconds. It was the first time I've ever beaten him in a race, but to be fair, he was taking pictures instead of running his hardest.

Overall, I was pleased with my performance. I feel like I can continue with this half-baked training plan and still be able to perform well at Dances with Dirt in September. It makes me feel better about putting my whole training life on hold while we try to start a family.

In other news, my newbies training sessions have been going well. I did three in May, have one scheduled in June and another in July. The July session will be a full triathlon practice including T1 and T2. I even got official permission from Lake Metroparks!

Oh, and I'm racing a sprint triathlon in Illinois this weekend with my high school friend who now lives in Minnesota. Can't wait!!

Finally, splits for those who like those:
Mile 1: 9:06
2: 9:40
3: 9:42
4: 9:30
5: 9:35
6 & 7: 19:51 (beginning of hills and I missed mile 6 marker)
8: 10:11
9: 10:21
10: 10:30
11: 9:40
12: 9:17
13: 9:32
.1: 1:04