Sunday, March 23, 2008

Life is Good

As Lulubelle and I took a late afternoon stroll around the neighborhood today, the sun was out, daffodills and tulips in bloom and the sky blue and clear. I had just finished a tough training week on top of a tough work week. But for some reason, none of that weighed on me and my step, while sore, felt light. One message kept echoing through my head, "Life is good."

I have a husband who trains with/or at the same time as me and doesn't think that spending 4 hrs to exercise on a Saturday followed by the need for huge nap is anything other than normal.

My new time trial bike McQueen felt fantastic and responsive on my 3 hr ride yesterday and I finally found a new seat, the Specialized Tritip SL Gel 50, that will take me through the half-ironman.

I have wonderful friends like TG40 to help me through a run (like mine today) when I'm not feeling motivated and my muscles not fresh.

I watched 3 hours of cycling on TV today - a previously taped Prologue for the Tour de California in the am and Sunday cyclismo on Versus as I write this blog.

I have a loving dog, Lulu, who takes pride in her morning ritual of getting the newspaper from the end of the driveway and would rather snuggle next to me than spend time anywhere else.

And... eventhough some weeks my job is tough and hard, it affords me the ability to do some of the things I love. . . like try out a new bottle of expensive wine for dinner, ride the exact bike I want, or be spoiled by Rosa who makes sure that every Friday when I return home from work, my house and laundry is clean and I can just relax.

Yes. . . life is good!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Has been exhausting this week and taking away from my own time.

Sometimes, I wish I could train for a living.

Tonight, no matter what happens between now and the end of the work day, I intend to leave at a reasonable time and run while it is still light out.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Shamrock Race Report

Like all race mornings, I woke to a nervous stomach. I had, however, at least slept well the night before. I debated heavily what clothes to wear since the weather looked iffy but ultimately settled in on what I had set out the night before: my new TRIgirl race skirt, a long sleeved running shirt, my waterproof green jacket (for St. Patty's day) and my new Endorphin visor. I ate my plain cup of white rice I had made the night before in my rice cooker, loaded my fuel belt up with GUs and Endura and after a few pit stops headed out to meet my fellow TRIgirls at the Starbucks on the corner. Immediately, I was afraid I had under dressed. It felt cold.

We all headed down to the start together and met up with a few more TRIgirls along the way. In total, I think there were 23 TGs who did the half marathon and 4 who did the whole. TGs Molly, Sharon, SanDee, Lynn and Mary and I all huddled close at the start of corral 4 trying to avoid the wind and keep warm. Soon the race started ... Bart in corral 1 was off and running. We waited a few more minutes and finally it was our turn to cross the starting line.

With my morning's adrenaline, my first mile felt easy and great. I looked down at my watch and I was still in zone 2 and around my 9:40 starting goal pace. At the end of mile 1, I believed completely for the first time that I really might make my goal. The first few miles continued to easily click by. By mile 3 however, I noticed my HR creeping up and I slowed my pace to around 10 minutes to keep it in zone 3. I continued to feel strong and ran into TG Jill around mile 4. It had started to feel warm as we rounded the bend near Fort Story and we both ditched our jackets to the side of the road and chatted a bit. I knew TG Jill was a strong runner so I was happy to run into her but tried to keep within my own race and watch my own pace and HR. I noticed my HR creep up again into zone 4 and by miles 6 and 7 I decided to let it just creep but not too much. I knew I was still below 10 minute pace and I wanted to at least maintain my current pace until mile 10. Around mile 8, still in Fort Story, I started to mentally struggle. There were very few spectators and it seemed to take forever to get out of the military base. My body must have felt this struggle, because apparently my pace slowed down a little bit too. Around 9, we started to round the corner out of Fort Story, and I knew I was on the home stretch and it was time to give it what I had. It was getting harder to keep my pace and my legs were starting to feel achy, but I decided not to look at my watch too much and just focus on form and feel. Every other block or so, I would focus on another aspect of my running form for that block in an attempt to keep my cadence up and increase my speed. Each mile closer, I tried to give it a little bit more. Right around the 13 mile marker, TG Molly and Sharon passed me. They looked fresh and I'll admit the competitive side of me was disappointed as they passed but I tried to keep up and they remained great targets and motivation for me to try and catch the rest of the way in. By this time, however, I could feel my heart pumping hard and my legs were starting to scream. As I rounded the corner to the boardwalk, Bart was waiting with a big smile and an encouraging cheer. I gave it my all down the boardwalk and crossed with a PR. My Garmin read 2:08:54 and an average pace of 9:46.
TGs Molly, Sharon, Lynn, Jill and I all crossed the finish line within 30 seconds of each other. All apparently had been close by me from a few miles into the race and I had no clue (that is until I saw Molly and Sharon race by). TGs Mary, Debbie and SanDee weren't too far behind. In typical TG fashion, we clogged the finish chute for a few minutes while we exchanged hugs and congratulations! Everyone had huge smiles and great attitudes. By far my favorite part of the race!

At the finish, I felt sore, tired but elated. I had pushed myself and took a leap of faith to believe in what Coach Michael already believed and set as my goal. In exchange, I was the proud recipient of a PR and slightly stronger belief in my own abilities as an athlete. I know I still have a long way to go and a lot of hard work ahead, but to be able to reach this goal was a great feeling.

So... here are the official numbers. Chip time: 2:08:51. Ave reported pace 9:51. 181 out of 492 in my age group.

Other statistics I'm proud of:
An overall negative split and starting at mile 8, I consistently dropped pace each mile until the finish.
Fastest full mile: Mile 13 at 9:19 average pace.
HR zones: 5 miles in zone 3, 7 in zone 4 and 2 right around at or above my AT.
Minutes faster since my last half-marathon: almost 24.
Minutes faster since my fastest half-marathon: almost 15.
My fast husband Bart's time: 1:40:42 finishing 38/250 in his age group and 363 out of all the men racing.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Shamrock Pre-Race Thoughts

We woke up this morning to the sounds of a high school band starting runners at the Shamrock 8K. There was no question. . . its race weekend in Virginia Beach. Our hotel room at the Hilton is perfectly poised at the finish line of the 8K, 1/2 marathon and marathon. Out one window you can see runners streaming down the boardwalk and out the other, runners crowned with their medals as they cross the finish. Its sunny and the beach and the ocean look inviting. This is exactly the positive energy I need before tomorrow's race!

Like before all races, I'll admit I have a little of the nervous jitters. While last year's racing has helped me calm my nerves to some degree, I doubt they will ever disappear. I have my race strategy well planned out, as well as my pre-race meal (rice for breakfast) and race garb. My goal is to race in HR zone 3 through mile 8, see how I feel and move into HR zone 4 if I can. In English what does that mean? My goal is somewhere between a 9:15 pace and a 9:50 pace. It also means that if I stick to this strategy, I will have a significant PR over any 1/2 I've ever done. Part of my goal of today is to continue to believe in myself and that I can reach these goals. This is the hardest part for me. But Michael continues to believe I have it in me and that I have done the training to do it, so I'm going to take a leap and believe in myself on this and see what happens.

Time to get started for the day. On tap - the race expo and packet pick up and a visit to some VA Beach cycling/triathlon shops.

Weather report for tomorrow - not the greatest - rain and winds up to 25 mph. Hope most of the run will be a tail wind!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Back to Reality

While I wish this was still my training locale, last week it was back to reality both at work and in training. Our week and a half in the BVI was incredible (I'll post more details later), but I can't say with an honest face that I stuck completely to my training plan of threshold swims and water running. This is a picture of Bart and I water running off the side of our boat at the Baths in Virgin Gorda. For those of you who have never tried it, its a pretty good workout, although definitely feels different than running on land.

We also interspersed our vacation with "cross training" with arm workouts maneuvering the sails and dancing to the various bands at the local bars. And, thanks to Rupert at Norman Island, my favorite recovery drink was a Sunshine Painkiller rather than my orange flavored Endura.
Back to training...
Needless to say, two days of training last week and jumping right back to threshold training was tough. My first hard run on Tuesday morning, nearly made me want to vomit and raised the question (it was only fleeting), was vacation really worth it and am I ever going to recover. I continued to sludge through my workouts for the week and by my hard 40 minute ride Thursday night followed by an easy 20 minute run, I was beginning to feel like I hadn't lost all sense of fitness. I met my time trial average of 18 mph on the bike with seemingly less effort and had a pretty easy sub 10 minute mile run afterwards.
By Saturday's ride, however, I remembered I had taken time off. Bart and I braved the elements and rode in the pouring rain with EF coach Mark through Goochland. At the end of our 27 mile usual Goochland loop, when the skies finally cleared and the sun shone, the winds decided to pick up. Bart left to go ride with the boys, and I rode one lap of West Creek and soloed home via River Road to finish out my 3 hours on the bike. I was thankful I had chosen to ride my old road bike because I was certain that McQueen would have been swept off the road in one of the big gusts. I was thankful to reach the safety of home and the end of my only long ride in 3 weeks when I realized that my schedule called for a brick of 15 minutes of running at 9:20 pace. After transition, I was soon back to that hard breathing/vomit feeling that I started the week off with.
Before leaving to travel to Omaha for work on Sunday, I managed to get in my 90 minute long run. Not too bad a pace for having not run, but not as fast as I will have to produce this weekend. I apparently did not drink enough water to compensate for the dehydrating effects of flying and am suffering the consequences of sore muscles today.
Despite the beautiful surroundings of the BVI and the wonderful relaxation that I definitely needed, I am glad to be back in the swing of things and am looking forward to catching up with the gals at Masters on Wednesday and the Shamrock 1/2 this weekend.