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.