Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hitting the Trails

Last week was all about work, a little bike test, and trails.

I must confess, I still haven't figured out how to get in all of my workouts with work.   I know though, that if I don't get my workout first thing, I'm unlikely to get it in after work, particularly if it is a tough one.  Case in point, last week's power test.  Originally on my schedule for last Friday, I postponed it because of my gluten incident.   On Tuesday, it was on my schedule again.  When the alarm went off at 5:30 am Tuesday morning, I hit snooze and thought, I'll just do it in the evening after work.  Work is work though, and so at 6:30 pm, when I was leaving the office, and still had about 2 more hours of work on my plate for the evening, I skipped my power test and workouts and opted for some dinner, some more work and bed.   The result, 2 workouts missed on Tuesday.   I'm still learning, but on key workout days, mornings are a must if I'm going to meet one of my key training goals for the year - to be consistent.

As for the power test, I did get it in on Thursday morning.  Kate joined me on her trainer for some extra motivation (she was doing her test too) and we cranked out our 20 minute TTs.  I hope the saying is correct that you have to get a little out of shape during the off season, because I've certainly done so.  My power levels were, to say the least, disappointing.  Threshold power was down 11 watts lower than my already fairly weakling levels.  So. . . definitely room for improvement.  

Now, for the fun part.  Trails.   I really love trail running.  While training for IMLP, Bart and I spent a lot of time running in Pocohontas State Park on the fire roads.  During those runs, I loved the peace and beauty of the park and what felt like a communion with me and my goals, triathlon and otherwise.  I haven't run much on the trails this year and last Saturday's run with the gals reminded me how much I love it.   Trail running is a complete escape for me.  I don't think about running or even my pace.  Instead, I'm concentrating on the path before me and learning how to push myself based on feel, not necessarily a number on my Garmin.  Saturday, some regular billy goats took some of us relative trail newbies on a tour of Belle Isle and Buttermilk trail.  I've run these trails before but got to learn a new trail, appropriately named "the lost trail" on Belle Isle.  The weather was the start of a perfect Indian summer day and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face at the end of the run.  More trail running, and perhaps even a few trail races are in my future.   My billy goat friends have me thinking hard about the Swinging Bridge 35K Trail Race in January.

As much as I loved the trails on Saturday, I dreaded them on Sunday.  Somehow, after our trail run, I let myself get talked into mountain biking on Sunday with the crew.  Shawn took pity on me (under a total excuse that she "needed" me to ride with her so she wouldn't have to ride alone) and the two of us took off on the "easy" single track while the others headed for the harder trails.  As much as I hate to admit it, it wasn't as bad as I envisioned.  I still managed to fall a few times and have a few bruises and scrapes to show.  And yes, mountain biking is still way out of my comfort zone.  I still have trouble with my pedals (this time getting in them, not out), and I still hate to go fast down hills, particularly when there are roots or I have to negotiate between hills.  But, I did manage to find a smile or two during the day and thanks to Shawn's patience, got to build a bit more confidence.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Fresh Start

Today marks two weeks in the bank with my new coach.  While a little startling to my body, since it had previously been in hibernation and R&R mode, I definitely missed training and that feeling of "good tired" after a workout.

My workouts have been a LOT different from what I'm used to BUT I love it.  In the two weeks, other than perhaps going to Masters, no two things on my Training Peaks schedule have been the same.  Did I mention that I LOVE the variety?  Needless to say, I'm trying lots of new things, new crazy run drills, new cycling workouts (big gears and standing), yes. . . the MTB, LOTS of strength focused workouts and my favorite new thing, the TRX.

STRENGTH is a big focus of my winter workouts.  Strength training is usually something that I skip and have not traditionally focused on in the past.  As a result, I also think it has been one of my limiters in triathlon racing and performance, particularly on hillier courses and has made me more injury prone.  SO STRENGTH is no longer a CAN SKIP workout but instead is a MUST.  TRX training under the direction of my good friend SanDee and accompanied by my training buddy KATE is making it even more enjoyable.  I am fortunate that our basement space has allowed us to hang 2 TRX's next to our "cycling room" so that both of us can train at the same time.  AND, I am even more fortunate that SanDee is willing to come torture us once a week bright and early in the morning.

Other than keeping up with training, work has been keeping me PLENTY busy with a few day trips here and there to Virginia Beach, Chicago and this week Raleigh.  One of my goals this year is to do improve fitting my workouts in with work.  Consequently, I'm getting used to early morning workouts and even the occasional lunchtime run around Belle Island.

And finally, my food notes for the post.  I've started using a new protein shake made by Vega - the Whole Food Optimizer.  LOTS of yummy plant based protein and other cleansing things.  While I had some "cleansing symptoms" of the worst kind associated with my first two uses of it (and particularly the ChlorEssence in it), my body is now acclimated to it.   One half serving (one scoop) is only 120 calories,  3 g fat and 13 g of protein.

Lastly, after an incident last Thursday night eating out, I have confirmed that I absolutely CAN NOT have ANY gluten in my diet.  Will post more about "The Incident" later.

So. . . here's to a fresh start and new things.  Try something different out this week.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trick or Treat

I spent the last weekend of my training hiatus in Philly with Bart, Lulu and Mav visiting my sister and her family for Halloween.  My weekend was mostly filled with treats.

I had a blast hanging out with my nieces, Kate and Emily and seeing them all worked up for Halloween.  Kate, with her recently pierced ears, dressed as a cowgirl.  Emily's costume was an adorable pink and white horse.  Saturday morning, Kristen and I dropped Emmie off at ballet and enjoyed a quiet hour of conversation at the local coffee shop.  When we got back home, we played with Emmie's pop bead jewelry set that I had gotten for her for her birthday and then carved pumpkins.  (Kate and mine was the best I think).  Bart and John came back from the farmer's market with a treat for me - two loaves of freshly made gluten free bread (which I needed since I had left my homemade pumpkin bread sitting on the counter in Richmond).

Bart and I then headed off to "downtown" Bryn Mawr by foot - a short run there, a tour of the local bike, tennis and running stores and then a short run back made a bit more awkward by our purchases.   Saturday night we met a bunch of Kristen and John's friends and had a blast at their club playing paddle outside in the crisp fall air and getting to know their friends at the party that Kristen had organized just for us!  Of course, we stayed up way to late, drank a bit of vino and ate too many goodies.

Sunday morning brought beautiful weather.  John, all four dogs and I walked through the Bryn Mawr campus and then let the dogs romp around a bit more back at home.  Then we all headed to their club for the annual Halloween party -- complete with costume contests for the kids, a DJ, kids oriented food, a haunted house and hayride.  

Post party, we loaded up the car and headed home.  The dogs slept the whole time, wiped out in the backseat from all of the playtime with their dog cousins.   And, we made fairly good time getting back.  About 20 minutes out, we called for the last treat of the weekend - pizza from Stuzzi.  Stuzzi has become our favorite pizza place due to the fact that they make yummy personal sized gluten free pizza.  When we arrived, however, the trick was on me.  Bart went in to get the pizzas and the dogs and I waited in the car.  About 5 or 10 minutes later, while I was getting impatient, my phone rang.  It was Stuzzi.  "I'm sorry ma'am, but we just ran out of GF pizza dough."  My reply - "Did my husband ask you to call me?"  Stuzzi -"No"  Me - "Well he's been in the restaurant for about 10 minutes waiting on our pizza."  Stuzzi "Oh, I think I see him.  Would you like pasta instead (implied - and wait even longer while we cook it for you?")  Me - "No just forget my pizza."  Sulk.  So we left Stuzzi with one regular pizza for Bart and me, in a bad mood, irritated and frustrated, wondering what I could find in our bare cupboards for dinner.

I don't whine much about having to eat GF, mainly because I feel so much better and I know that it is a direct result of my GF eating but sometime, it can be a real pain.  There are definitely occasions like this weekend, when I wish I could eat the yummy looking Halloween sugar cookies with the orange and black icing that everyone was chowing down on or just be able to go into a restaurant and order whatever I want off the menu.  But, the reality is, I can't.  So, like last night, I need to just move on, try and make the best out of it (I made myself an artichoke burger with tomato sauce and a slice of cheese on it to satisfy my Italian craving) and celebrate the treats I do have in life.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Fall is the start of a new season.  Leaves change, the air becomes crisper, football rules the weekend, Starbucks brings back their fall flavored lattes and the stores are full of our favorite fall foods - apples, pumpkins and squash of all types.   I LOVE fall.

Fall for me this year was also the start of my off-season.  After Patriots, I had planned to take some time off  "normal" training levels, get some much needed R&R for my body and mind and spend some time cross-training on the mountain bike and tennis courts.  Work, however, made my off-season closer to a complete break.  One work week in Chicago, nearly two extremely busy weeks in Germany and another work week in Richmond but with clients in town made training with any regularity nearly impossible.  I did manage to get a few runs in here and there, a mountain bike ride, a couple of bike rides and a time or two on the courts.  I also managed to find lots of German chocolate and six unwanted "off-season" pounds.  BUT no complaints.   The last few months have been a complete change of pace.  I got to see a beautiful new part of the world and even spend a fun and completely relaxing Indian Summer weekend at the beach with Bart, the furkids and the Oliver family.

Starting last Monday, it was time to start working out with regularity again AND get ready for my biggest change of the fall, training with a NEW COACH.   Monday morning, I swam 5:30 am guppies with ProK. Wednesday's workouts included a quick spin, my first TRX training session with SanDee and some fun doubles with friends.  Thursday - despite the sorest rear and hamstrings in a long time - I managed to jog four miles during lunch.  Friday, I enjoyed the flexibility of the off-season and took the day off and baked and cooked for the W&M tailgate.  Saturday - I got up early pre-game and did a 4.5 mile tempo run and today, enjoyed a gorgeous fall bike ride with friends and survived another session with the TRX.  Gradually, my muscles are starting to remember what a good sore feels like and my body and mind are ready and looking forward to start training again.

Friday also included a visit with my fantastic and trusted nutritionist, Tina Shiver.  I confessed my recent off-season sins -- namely too much sugar and wine, more dairy than my stomach is happy with and more meat than I probably ate over the course of three months this past summer.  Consequently, starting today, I'm on a one week detox (no sugar, no alcohol, no red meat, no tomatoes, no peppers plus my Inflamx protein powder) and then a gradual reintroduction to my primarily vegan plus fish eating.  Not a big protein eater, I was advised to "wrap my brain around" the concept that my off-season nutrition plan would include more protein and amino acids to promote recovery and support my strength building efforts.  While day 1, pretty much sucks and all I can envision right now is chocolate, I'm also looking forward to the way I know my body feels when I'm eating clean.

FINALLY, a little bit about changing coaches.  I am TOTALLY excited to be training starting November 1 with Jen Harrison!  While I made great improvements over the years with EF and Coach Michael, it was definitely time for a change.   I was ready for some new eyes, a new approach, and more feedback and communication with my coach.  JEN is energetic, clearly loves coaching and competing, is a VERY talented AG athlete herself (in my age group), has tons of triathlon knowledge to share AND very important for me, her current athletes LOVE her.   I can't wait!

Since she is a regular blogger herself, as are a lot of her athletes, one of my new goals of the season will be a weekly blog.   Hope if there are any readers out there still following, you enjoy!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Patriot's Half Race Report

Before weeks pass from my last race of the season, Patriot's Half Ironman, I figured I better skip over the last month and a half of activities and cut right to the chase . . . my race report.

Patriot's Half was not on my race schedule at the start of the year but after Eagleman, Bart and I decided to race a little closer to home this fall.  Patriot's was a logical choice.  Based in Williamsburg, near my college alma mater, a Williamsburg race had its appeal.  Plus, it was close enough that my parents were willing to make the trip from Pittsburgh to sherpa and more importantly cheer us on.

The course has really improved since the race debuted four years ago.  While the swim is still in the dirty James, the bike course is flat and predominantly along beautiful well-paved country roads and the run is on a combination of asphalt and crushed gravel paths.   We pre-rode the course the week before Labor Day and I was looking forward to a speedy bike on race day.  My big question mark would be the run, and, oh, the current.

Friday afternoon we headed down to Williamsburg for packet pickup and then met my parents at our B&B accommodations for the weekend, the Boxwood Inn.  Our room in the Inn was beautiful - a big four poster bed with wonderful red linens -- and our innkeepers didn't flinch a bit when I asked to use the kitchen for our very early pre-race breakfast.  After checking in and a bit of catching up with my parents, it was time for dinner.  I've decided that it doesn't really matter what I eat the night before in terms of my stomach the next day, so I figured we would eat at a place I love, The Fat Canary.  Like other times I've been there, the meal and service did not disappoint.  I had amazing grouper, a salad and even some gluten free crackers to snack on pre-meal.  Bedtime was 9 pm and haven't not slept very well the night before, I fell fast asleep.

Race morning was early as usually.  Up at 4:15, try and eat -- piece of toast, banana and an half of an Odwalla smoothie.  Dressed, car loaded and out the door at 5:15 am.  My parents were good sports and joined us.  After pumping my tires up, I left Bart to finish his set up and my mom and I headed to transition area.  Soon after I arrived at transition, I was shocked to learn that the swim would be wetsuit legal.  I was thrilled.  I'll wear an wetsuit any day to protect me from the murky water in the James. :)  I finished up my transition set up, visited the porta potty a few more times and headed down to the river to warm up.

After a quick warmup and instructions from Michael as to the direction of the current, I was ready.  I seeded myself near the front of my wave and soon we were off.  The initial start of the swim was a non-event, but as we headed out to the first turn buoy, the current in the river, directly against our swim direction was evident.  Bodies were all over the river and no one seemed to be headed in the direction of the small orange buoys.  I kept my course towards the first yellow buoy and pulled, pulled, pulled.  Only, the turn buoy wasn't getting much closer.  After what seemed like forever, I rounded the first turn buoy, took a few strokes, and seemed to be on top of the second buoy in no time at all.  From this buoy, to shore there were no guide buoys and the sun was right in our eyes, even through my shaded goggles.  I swung a little too wide and ended up a bit off course.  After a few corrections, I was soon in water too shallow to swim in.  I dolphin dove a few times and then waded my way into shore.  Wetsuit off and I ran the long run up to transition, thankful to be out of the water and looking forward to hammering it on the bike.

In T1, I shoved my sunglasses down the front of my tri suit (they were fogged from the cool morning dew), put on my new hibiscus flowered aero helmet and ran out of T1.   Once onto my bike, I settled in a bit getting out of the park and onto the first road before putting on my shoes and getting down to business.  The air temperatures still had some chill and I had a big smile thinking of my next few hours.  I settled in on the bike, started my nutrition and wondered when I would see my work colleague Ryan.  My hope was to hold him off on the swim and bike for as long as possible since I knew he had some fast feet.   Around mile 20, I heard, hey Bethany, looking good as Ryan rode by.  He then became my carrot for the next miles.  After the turn onto a super fast road around the halfway point, I caught him and passed.  At mile 40, I had a water bottle handoff snafu and ended up pulling over for a minute while I got hold of a bottle and poured it into my aero bottle.  Back in motion, I passed Bethany Church and was back on Route 5 for the last 20 miles back to transition.  These miles were harder than the pre-ride for me, primarily because of the slight head wind I was feeling in places.  I got my last bit of nutrition in and was back to T2 soon enough.

At T2, I quickly got into my favorite running flats, grabbed 2 gus and my visor and headed out.  My goal for the run was to run like I have been doing my tempo runs leading up to the race.  My pace goal was to stay below 10 minute pace.   And, since I left my water belt in transition, that meant, no walking except when necessary through the aid stations.  The first six miles went by fairly smoothly and my pace felt hard but good.  After a mile and a half into the course, my carrot passed me and I knew I had to keep my pace high if I had any chance to hold on to my 6 minute lead.  The run course is great - mostly shaded and the variety of surfaces kept my mind off of the distance.   Near the end of the first loop, I passed Bart on his second loop and he cheered out "Hey Sweet Pea, your smokin... keep it up."  I knew the next 6 miles would be less comfortable and sure enough around mile 8 and 9 they were.  In T2 I had left my salt tablets and while I was drinking the Heed they had on the course, I knew my body needed salt and that I was on the verge of goose bumps.   I tried to get some salt and/or more calories in me with coke at the aid stations but contrary to the advertised supplies, there were no salt tablets or coke.  Chex mix does nothing for this gluten free girl.   Finally, just short of the 10 mile marker, I ran up on an EF teammate who was struggling a bit, but thankfully had an extra salt tablet.  We walked through the aid station together and then jogged side by side for a while.  I knew she was a stronger runner than me so if I could keep pace, which by then although the same pace I had been running was far less comfortable, I would be able to make my goal.  At the next aid station, I dropped back a bit but was determined to keep her in sight.  Mind over legs I told myself and that this was the time in the run to prove what I could do.  I knew my run was close to a PR half run for me so I made myself continue to run as best I could between aid stations.  After a hard 2 miles, I was back into the park and rounding the corner to the finish.  I had no clue what my total race time was like but knew I had had a solid bike and run.  So I dug in and ran to the finish.  As I crossed the finish line, I finally saw a clock.  6:06....  At first, in my half delusion, I thought I had gone sub-6 since I was under the temporary impression that my wave was 9 minutes behind, but I quickly realized it was only 6 minutes.  I knew 6 hours would be close, and even though the final results told me I was a minute and 2 seconds past my goal, I was still proud.  I knew my swim wasn't my best, the bike was almost a mile long but I had still managed a 10 minute PR and a great way to end my season.  Next year, that minute and 2 seconds will serve as motivation.

My race stats:  11/31 in my age group.  51/155.
Swim: 43:40   T1: 3:42   Bike:  2:58.01  T2: 2:01 Run: 2:13.40

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Kona Paradise

Our trip to Kona was absolutely a trip to paradise.

Our journey there was to celebrate SanDee and Gregg's 10 year anniversary with a re-enactment.  But, we also got lots of time to explore the Big Island, play in the ocean and swim/bike/run on the IM course.  I even got to meet one of my favorite IM pros, Bree Wee and her adorable sidekick Kainoa at snorkel beach.  

But enough of my words, here are some of my favorite shots and memories:
The Best Breakfast at Lava Java

DB and I with our new friends

Old Lava Tube at the Volcano

Swimming with the Honu


Mai Tais and fresh leis on arrival

The Happy Couple

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bike Rides, Le Tour and New Bars

The holiday weekend has been filled with lots of fun bike rides through new spots in and around Richmond and lots of time watching the Tour.  Saturday morning we rode on the east end through town on a course that began at fellow Guppy Bryan's house.  12 of us rolled through the beautiful countryside of New Kent and Mechanicsville.  My goal for this ride was to throw out the power meter and HR monitor and just ride for fun... push it when I wanted to and spin when I didn't.  My ride was much improved from the weekend before.  I actually had some legs but still need to do quite a bit of hill work.   Most importantly, it was the most fun I had on the bike in some time and reminded me how much I love to just ride.  After the ride, it was pancakes courtesy of Bryan and Nikki.  I brought my GF mix and the fresh blueberries that his kids picked the day before made our post ride fuel perfect.  

Chef Bryan

Part of the hungry crew...

On the way home, we stopped at a local farmers market and loaded up with lots of local fresh veggies to get us through the next few days.  The Hanover tomatoes are the best!

Today, we headed out again, joined by much of the same group and a guest appearance by the the sponsored rider and his wife.  Today's ride started south of the river and headed west through Powhatan and Goochland.  Although allegedly a "recovery" ride on the bike, the pace was not recovery pace and the terrain out west seemed on a gradual climb.  I worked hard on the way out, but managed to keep a wheel, thanks in part to Bart's domestique skills to bring me back to the group when I did get separated.   After the store stop in Maidens, we crossed over the James and headed back east on River, before the sponsored athlete took us back across the river via the prison.  Yes, you read that right, the prison.  The prison owns a beautiful piece of property that borders both sides of the James.  So we used their cut through route to get back on the south side.  Despite being faster paced than I had anticipated, it was still a great ride, a fun time with friends, and I was pleasantly pleased with what I had in my legs.

Other than bike rides of our own, we've been watching the Tour.  I love this time of year.  There is nothing better than getting to be able to watch hours of cycling through the amazing French (and surrounding country) countrysides.  I must confess I become a bit of a Tour addict.  This year is even more fun having met some of the Cervelo Test Team guys at the Tour of California.

And finally. . . week one of my eating plan has gone fairly well.  Lots of big salads for lunch, fish for dinner and even some new protein shakes.  My stomach felt great when I stuck with that diet and slightly less so when I diverged with some grass fed beef and wine on Friday night and some 4th of July barbeque on Sunday.  So today, it was back to cleaner eating.

I also made some homemade recovery bars/balls this weekend that were extremely yummy.  Based on a recipe posted by Bree Wee, they had dates, coconut, walnuts, lime juice and cranberries.  Mix everything in the food processor, roll into balls and bake at 350 for 7 minutes.  Will make a great mid-day snack or pre-morning workout bite to eat.

Hope everyone had a great Fourth!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

An Experiment in Eating

For those of you who know me, you know that food and my body are not always friends.  While I love to eat, cook and think about food, food and my digestive system don't always agree.  For the last 2 1/2 years, I've made significant strides in improving this relationship with the help of a fabulous nutritionist and friend, Tina Shiver.   She thankfully diagnosed my wheat and gluten intolerance and that in itself has changed my life dramatically.  But we continue to try and fine tune my diet, not only to allow me to get to a healthy "race weight" but predominantly to get my system back to "normal" and healthy functioning.

Recently, I been reading up on endurance athletes and other high level athletes who switch from a normal diet to a plant based diet -- i.e. a vegan diet.  Hillary Biscay,  Rich Roll,  Brendan Brazier, Martina Navratilova and Carl Lewis to name a few.  All espouse to have found new energy and fitness with a plant based diet.  Coupled with this, I just finished reading Omnivore's Dilemma.  If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it!  Pollen doesn't draw conclusions for you but explores the food industry in a very straightforward, openminded way.   And, I suppose the third factor may be that despite my already fairly restricted diet, my stomach and energy levels haven't been great.

So, I've decided to do a little experiment in eating.  My goal for now is to gradually begin to switch my diet to a predominantly plant based diet.  What does that mean?  It means that fish -- wild caught and local to the extent possible- or the occasional pastured, grass-fed lean meat -- will be the source of protein for only one of my meals during the day.   And, if I don't know where it is from or how it was raised, I'll stick to plants.  For my other meals, it will be veggies, fruit, beans, nuts and non-gluten grains.   Lunch in particular is a big green leafy salad with lots of veggies and beans.  Milk products are out for now too -- they've been causing havoc lately for me anyway.   Smoothies (with rice/hemp protein powder) will likely also be a standard staple.

I'm curious to see how I feel and how my body reacts to these changes.  In the meantime, I'll be trying lots of new recipes and spending more time at our local farmer's market.    Last night was sea bass fish tacos (baked sea bass wrapped in cabbage leaves with homemade guac, salsa) and quinoa.   Yummy!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

One week away

My "A" race for the season, Eagleman, is one week away and needless to say my thoughts are all over the place going into this race.   Despite a winter focus on the bike and tons of progress in January and February, I feel like my bike has gone backwards each month since April.  Very few rides have felt strong and on most, I've struggled to make my power goals.  Yet some day's I've seen a glimmer of hope -- a strong ride in the mountains at Wintergreen, a great double brick the other week.   My run, for the most part, has been decent and certainly looking like the most promising for improvement.   My demon for the run however will certainly be the heat and humidity that arrived a few weeks ago and hasn't left since.  While I've tried to make the heat my friend and workout in the hot temperatures to acclimate, my body's reaction to it certainly isn't consistent and definitely not welcoming.  

With one week left, what training is done, is done and now I need to continue to work on the mental part.  My goals for next Sunday are within my grasp if I lay it out there and believe.   Time to focus

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Three for Three

The Spring race season began in March for me with the Monument Avenue 10K, and today I finished my third race, the Kinetic Sprint.  All in all, its been a great Spring season for me.  Three races and three PRs. Can't beat that!

The one I am most proud of is the first, the Monument Avenue 10K.  Since Ironman, I'd been plagued with an irritated left hip and a case of plantar fascitis.  I spent the winter in rehab at least once a week and really didn't begin any run training until January (when I gave up on the fact that my left foot would ever feel 100%).  The winter for me was all about the bike.  So, when the 10K arrived, I hadn't logged many miles (7 was my longest run) and had only done one track session.  On race day, I had no expectations, only to just push myself as hard as I could.  And I did.  Weather was perfect and on the chilly side AND this year, ipods were allowed.  So I ran with my favorite pick me up tunes and worked hard.  The reward? My left foot somehow cured itself during the run and I got a huge PR time of 53:27 and a overall pace in the 8:30s.

Fast forward to April and race 2 of the season.  Rumpass in Bumpass.  I missed this one last year and was excited to race local this year.  While I had a big race on my calendar last year, I didn't do any shorter local races, and I missed the fun of seeing all those familiar faces and teammates and getting to race close to home.  Race morning as usual had me a basket of nerves.  Thankfully we had made the trip to Lake Anna the night before and had picked up our packets early.  Had I had to wait in line and watch the chop on the Lake, my nerves may have gotten the best of me.   The swim was by far one of the tougher swims I've done, including the ironman.  I don't do great in chop and feel woozy out there on the water as I feel like I'm being tossed around.   My prevailing thought during the swim was the faster I swam, the faster I'd be out of it.  Not my best swim time, but given the conditions, I'll take it.  The bike was great.  A nice mix of rollers and flats and I just kept hammering away with my eye on a 1:15 bike split.  I felt strong throughout, was pretty close and so went into transition with hopes of a good race.  Then the run.  Not my best, but not my worst either.  I felt great the first few miles, even with the hills on the course.  My pace was on target and I thought, given my 10K, I might just be able to hang on.  That all changed around mile 3 and the hill back up to the turn around.  My HR at this point was so high, the sun was hot and, I walked.  Which, competitive type A me, hates.  After a race where I walk I always second guess myself.  Really, did you need to walk?  Could you not have just slowed it down a little and shuffled?  Anyway, it was during one of these walks in the woods back to the finish that I lost a place in my age group, so perhaps that's why I'm tough on myself.  But that memory of being passed will hopefully push me harder and next time, it'll be a shuffle, not a walk.  Despite my less than stellar run, I did manage to hang on and put together a great race for me.  A little hard to compare to others because some distances were different in the last OLY I raced, but for me it was the first time under 3 hours, a big PR and I was definitely proud.  Finish time 2:52.52.  My age group brought a tough showing this race including my college sorority sister, Deb, who crushed it with 2:30.

Which brings me to May and my third race of the season.  Given the first two races of the year, I set my expectations pretty high.  I had really hoped to be in the 1:30 somethings coming across that finish line. And, well, I came up short.  So... here's the recap of today.  Swim, a little choppy and definitely not warmed up for the start.  At the first buoy, I felt like I had no composure and no great feet to follow either.  Somewhere in the second leg of the swim, I found my normal breathing and could begin to push it home.  I'm not sure of my splits yet, but my Timex said around 15 min.   Strong enough and an improvement over the last swim in Lake Anna.  Then, it was time for my 3 Stooges routine in T1.  Bart always has a hard time with his wetsuit and I never could understand, until today.  I could not get my left leg out of my wet suit for anything.  I pulled, hopped and eventually plopped myself down and yanked.  I'm pretty sure my T1 time was one of the longest ever.  That plus the fact that I chickened out and put my cycling shoes on in T1 cost me lots of time.  On the bike, I pushed hard, but never felt like I was sailing through the bike course.  A few spots were a bit hairy with the disk wheel I borrowed and the side winds across the lake.  I also need to learn how to descend stronger (no surprise here) and corner.  I leap frogged with Mary from Team Z throughout the bike.  She'd fly by me on the descents and around the turns and I'd pass her again on every flat and particularly every hill.   I clearly needed some bigger big girl panties to really charge fearlessly down those descents.  That, or perhaps a pre-race practice ride.  Anyway, Mary won the race into T2 but I was determined at that point to catch her on the run.  T2 was slightly better, but only slightly.   I couldn't get out of my shoes on the descent (timed it poorly) so I again ran in my shoes and then wasted time at my transition spot fumbling getting into my running shoes.  Out of T2, the first steep hill felt like a mountain but gradually, my breathing leveled, my pace quickened, and I began to find my legs and focus on the green Team Z shirt ahead of me.  By the time we made our first turn, I caught her and I was determined to not let her pass and regain some of the time I lost coming up the big hill.  So I ignored my watch, and just focused on my turnover and pushing as hard as I could.  At the turn around, I heard the sweetly spoken words, "Hey B."  My EF teammate Susie had caught me on the run.  I laughed, swore (sorry Susie) and then tried to keep pace with her quick little legs, but couldn't.  Instead, my mantra became to keep her in my sight.  At the next turn, I knew I was home free.  The rest was down hill and even though my lungs burned and I'm sure the next town could hear me breathing, I was determined to make it a strong finish. My run was right on target, and surprisingly for me, the best leg of my three today.  Negative splits all the way with an average pace of 8:30 (And, btw, the Garmin says that run was long).  The best compliment of the day was my new Team Z friend coming up to me after the race and telling me I crushed her on the run.  My finish time of 1:45.14, although short of my goal, was still improved over the last time I did the race two years ago by almost 4 minutes.  And, all in all, it was a fun day.  Great teammates and a darn great workout.

Next race is the big dance.  Eagleman is right around the bend on June 13.  Until then, gotta keep working hard to make it 4 for 4.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Time Flies

The last month was a whirlwind.  Snow, travel to New York and London, an important client visit and entertaining and attempts to keep training throughout.  By the end of last weekend, and in time for our second big snow storm, my body had enough, and I woke up Friday with a bout of the stomach flu.  It cleared by Saturday, in time for my long ride and some snow shoveling.

Here are some pictures from the month.

Me -- getting my award -- more gadgets at the Carnival of Misfit Triathletes:

Bart getting his award . . . several pairs of new gloves to wear during winter long runs . . .
A few shots from my trip to London for work.  Unfortunately, during the times I had free, it was dark outside so the pictures aren't plentiful or good quality.  My favorite British things?  The red phone booths scattered everywhere, their love of champagne cocktails, the theater, and my hotel's gluten free breakfast!

And finally, our house has been transported into the snow belt.  As I type this, we are in our third major snow storm of the winter.  Here are some pictures from last weekend's dump.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year and Letterboxing

Happy New Year everyone!!!!

Yesterday Bart and I headed to the Outerbanks to spend New Year's Eve and the following weekend with friends.  It has been four years since Bart and I first traveled to Nags Head together for the New Year.   This story may embarrass him  a bit but. . . oh well.  

Bart and I had just started dating, but you could say were fairly smitten with each other early on.  The sponsored athlete and his wife SJG were gracious enough to invite us down for the holiday.  As we traveled out Route 168, we spied another friend of ours, slightly ahead of us in traffic.  And that's when my bike geekiness started.  Bart exclaimed. . . "no worries, we are in the peleton.  We will capture the breakaway car."

"What?"  I exclaimed?  At this point, I hadn't ridden a bike other than a beach cruiser since college and my bike racing vocabulary was non-existent.

Bart went on to exclaim the philosophy of the peleton and the break away as he continued to chase our friend down the road.

Needless to say, four years later, our cars license plates aptly are named "Brkway" and "Pelton" short hand of course for peleton and break away.  And I, am not only smitten with Bart, but am absolutely smitten by the sport of cycling.

As is normal for trips to the beach with the sponsored athlete and friends, they are fun filled with adventure.  Yesterday, after the rain clouds dispersed, we toured the sound side of the Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk with a 30 mile bike ride.    After a little relaxation, and cocktails, it was on to  card games, champagne for the New Year and of course, some fierce competitions on the Wii.

Today's adventure, however, was a great start to the New Year.  As usual, my friends KB and SS were up to their usual mischief which is only heightened by adventures into the woods.  Today, they lured SG, TG 40 and I off to embark on a leisurely run.  After we got in the car, they revealed the true plan for the day. . . letterboxing.

It couldn't have been a better adventure for the first day of the 2010.  Our adventure took us to Nags Head Woods where there was a great 4 mile running/hiking trail.  As we jogged on the trails, KB read out running directions and clues to our first treasure. . . a Letter box - probably 3 miles into our trail run, hidden under a bark-less stump.   In letterboxing, someone leaves a rubbermaid box containing a log book, and a stamp.  On they post directions and clues to its location.  When you find the box, you log the date, your name and, if you have your own stamp, your stamp.  Then, you return the box to its rightful place and move onto your next treasure hunt.

Our adventures today lead us on a fantastic trail run (sorry coach - I did run the whole thing), Starbucks (it was cold out), a treasure find at the welcome center and, a third letter box along the Virginia Dare Trail.  

My letter boxing adventure today pretty much summed up some of my "resolutions" for the New Year -- have more fun in sport, push myself to try new things and, on occasion push myself outside my comfort zone, spend time enjoying those around me - my family and friends, and be a little frugal (letterboxing is a ton of adventure and its FREE!)

So friends, here's to finding new treasures in your life in 2010!