Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Husband Rocks!

Last night he surprised me with the complete first season of Thirtysomething on DVD. I have watched the first 4 episodes and I have missed Hope, Michael, Elliott, Nancy, Gary, Melissa and Ellyn. It's the little things...there's nothing bigger!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pictures from Portland Triathlon

The view of the Portland bridges before sunrise was really quite beautiful. You can see a large number of swimmers working their way through the water. I'm sure I'm there somewhere! Who am I kidding, I was still backstroking/floating at that point!

I had just walked uphill from the dock and ran into Greg and Bridget. I am sure I was telling him something like, "OMG I was so not prepared for a 1/2 mile open water swim and I'm freezing! I found the swim portion hard (as evidenced by my exhausted look while trotting from the water to the transition area). Dripping wet clothes just don't accentuate a girl's body style.

The bike portion was beautiful, but I was not prepared for the challenging hills.

The run segment I loved. We ran across two bridges along the Williamette River and enjoyed the scenery of the downtown Portland area.

Anyone who has either been a supporter (family or friend) knows the waiting around part is hard. My two girls (and husband!) had to wait around for 2-1/2 hours for me to finish. Bridget didn't make it for the run portion and decided it was naptime. Another picture of Meg with crazy sunglasses (her 50th pair I'm sure).

Ahhh...the reward of a wonderful draft beer at McMenamins. Notice Bridget in her "Go Mommy Go" shirt. She and Megan yelled that while I was on the bike portion and the beginning of the run (before she passed out for a nap).

All in all, I loved this race. Even more, I loved that I was able to finish a triathlon with less than 4 weeks training time. But...I think I'll stick to running for now!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Wish I Were Salmon

The rules for the Race for 50 States challenge were two-fold: 1) it had to include family either as one or all of us participating in a race or at least traveling together and 2) had to include different types of races from 5k to 50k, trail races, a century bike ride or two, and triathlon to further challenge our physical selves and to step out of our racing comfort zones while learning (and maybe enjoying) a new sport. So far, we have collectively acomplished a 5k, 10k, 10 mile trail run, half marathon, marathon, sprint triathlon, Olympic triathlon, and a half ironman. We're moving right along in reaching our goal. And with this past weekend's sprint triathlon in Portland, Oregon, we managed to check off our19th state! Now, on to the race report.

Swim. I wish I were salmon because then I could naturally swim upstream in a river. As you know, a triathlon race begins with the swim portion. Not only is this not my strength, but I started practicing 4 weeks ago on my lunch hour, with the pool facility being closed one of those weeks. Not surprisingly, I was not speedy in the water. It's hard to even begin describing all that went wrong during
my swim portion, but I will try as this also serves as a learning tool for improvement. We had to jump in the river from the marina dock and then tread water till our start time. The outside temps were 60-61. The water was 67. Can I just day brrrrrr. No wetsuit because I thought the water couldn't be much cooler than Lake Erie (mistake#1). I think I might have panicked at that point because I was so cold before getting into the water, then was shocked at how really cold I could still become. When the gun went off, you would have thought this was my first time in open water. I had to back stroke it until I could relax myself enough to attempt the freestyle stroke. Thank goodness I am no sissy and was able to pull myself together, although I swear I saw "things" swming alongside me! I managed to finish in 30:51, about 5 minutes off my goal time. Based upon the little training I had for the swim portion (9 pool sessions and 1open water practice), I didn't fare too badly for swimming 750 meters. The Transition is another story (can you say train wreck?).

T1 - I got out of the water by placing my foot onto a 2x4 and climbing out of the water using a net like a Navy Seal, only clumsier. Ran up the hill to the Transition area where I couldn't quite figure out how to put my helmet on. I could see Meg & Greg watching my confused motions wondering how long does it really take to strap on a helmet. According to my T1 time, it takes 3:59 to slip on socks, shoes, strap a helmet onto wet hair and ride off into the sunset (or Naito Pkwy).

Bike. It was hilly and challenging, yet a beautiful ride overall. I had set my goal at 1:04 and ended up with a very acceptable 1:19 for the 16.4 mile bike ride. The first 3.5 miles were uphill with an additional 1/2 mile up a very steep hill before cresting atop Terwilliger. The big learning lesson here is that I should have practiced climbing hills on my rented Fuji road bike to get a better sense of shifting gears. Learning how to ride a bike DURING a race is not the time to master your gears. Terwilliger was quite scenic with lush foliage and breath-taking views of Portland. The crowds and volunteers were wonderful. And I loved hearing my two girls yell "go mommy go" while I was rounding the corner on my bike. Not only do I judge a race by their pre- and post-race activities, but also by how family friendly it is. So even though my quads and calves were cursing me, I totally enjoyed the race and gave it my best. I also loved the ride, fit and feel of my rented Fuji Finest 2.0 road bike.

T2 - I racked my bike, took a giant gulp of HEED, ponytailed my hair, added a hat (partly for sun protection, partly to hide the poor ponytail job!) and off I went on the run. Time in T2 was 2:17.

Run. Thank goodness something my body understood. Believe it or not, I actually ran one of my faster times and probably would have broke 30 minutes if my quads hadn't locked up twice on me. I still managed to run 32:36, and was quite pleased. We ran along the banks of both sides of the Williamette River and across 2 bridges. Once again, great views of the city and a fairly enjoyable run with only a few short climbs.

Post-race. Hell yeah this will go down as one of my favorite races! I got a fantastic bamboo long-sleeve race shirt with 3 chickens - each one reading flail (swim), flap (bike) and flee (run) - triathlons are not for chickens. Loved it! At the finish line, every finisher received a stainless steel water bottle with Portland Triathlon Finisher on it. Each race participant also got gelatto from Staccato Gelatto and a delicious microbrew ale from Deschutes. The line was too long, but there was also BBQ as well. There was also a kids painting activity area and great open green spaces for families and supporters to relax and wait on their athlete.

Final Thoughts. Overall, I finished in 2:29:14 and was happy considering the training effort put forth. I would like to do another sprint triathlon sometime, but I'm not committing to one anytime soon. I was very happy that I tackled a sport that was definitely outside my comfort zone (open water swimming) and, best of all, had my favorite cheering section with me through the whole race!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Transition Dress Rehearsal

Tonight was a last minute practice of T1 and T2 for the upcoming Portland Freshwater Trust Sprint Triathlon. Learned a few keys things to change and realized that when you're trying to be fast in transition, you can often miss things. I can't exactly write crib notes on my arm for this! I have packed all the key items - goggles, extra swim cap, tri shorts, tri top for the swim; helmet, extra shirt for race number, socks/shoes, and sunglasses for bike portion; and my favorite (worn-out) running hat to finish with. I have all the little extras just in case - gu packets (lemon sublime, my favorite), bodyglide, water bottle for HEED and one for water, sunscreen, my good friend Biofreeze, bandaids, baby powder, and a Christmas Red towel so I can easily spot my corner of the woods in the triathlon pit.

I had a good swim today. At this point, I am challenging myself to finish in 2 hours...give or take a minute or two. My goal is to finish the 750m swim in 25 minutes, the 16.4 mile bike ride in 64 minutes, and the 5k run in 30 minutes.

Portland, here I come!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Good Week of Training

I'm happy with this week's training. Sunday I logged in a 10 mile trail run. Took a break Monday (mostly so I could learn to walk again!). Tuesday was a good day for swimming logging in 1000m during lunch. Wednesday was an 8 mile bike ride for 22:30 and a 1/2 mile run at 4:20. Thursday evening was a wonderful evening of swimming with my friend Karen, who is an amazing swimmer and specializes in the phrase, "how do you feel? Ok, then give me 50 more." Friday was a much needed rest day. Today was a brick with husband - 14 mile bike ride and 2.5 mile run. Another open water swim practice is on the agenda for Sunday, then definitely a cold Corona! Exactly one week till the tri and I am nervous and excited!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Can Now Say I Am A Trail Runner

I just finished my first 10-mile trail run and it was exhausting AND exciting at the same time. I will definitely do this again (and again and again)! The Ultra Trail Run at Holiday Valley was a very technical and challenging course. Last night it poured buckets of rain so the course was so muddy that it was difficult to truly get any good footing on the trails. This was also the first time that I ran a course so rocky that it was tough to maintain balance and not slip on the wet, uneven rocks. With that said, I still rocked it and finished!

Before the race began, the race director made an announcement that this race was not for new trail runners (uh oh). He said that he wanted to be very clear that the course was intended for intermediate to advanced trail runners and that if you had any doubts whether you belonged to this group, then it would be best to not start the race. I looked at Megan and really wondered if I made the right decision to enter this race...or maybe I should take the race director's advice and run back to my car. Well, I'm two things - a redhead and stubborn. I started the course. And I finished the course.

The first 1.5 miles was a brutal hill. I actually had a brief hesitation that maybe a DQ might not be so bad afterall. Forget that...bring on the pain. We entered the Allegheny State Forest from Holiday Valley Ski Resort and spent most of the mileage in the State Forest. The trail was mostly single track with a lot of "rolling hills" (whoever coined that term should be shot!). Many sections were no wider than my hips and I'll be surprised if the poison ivy fairy doesn't visit me. One of the difficulties about my running level is that I am a back of the pack trail runner and spend a lot of time by myself. On the other hand, it was wonderful just listening to the trees swaying, birds moving, rain drops falling and basically just listening to nature. Even though the course was rough, I found myself enjoying each minute.

I may not have tipped the PR meter, but I didn't come in last in my first long distance trail run. I will keep at this and work on improving my time, balance and general consistency with mileage. I loved the comraderie of trail runners. Wow! Even though I finished a half hour or hour after many, I was surprised how many people I heard applauding as I finished. The loudest was Megan, who I always look for! Afterwards, when I realized my calves were not going to disown me afterall, I sat down and had the tastiest Coors Light from a can. I was surprised how many runners had brought coolers and lawn chairs and were just making an afternoon of their run...pretty cool vibe, to say the least.

The promoters of this race also had a great sense of humor, as evidenced by the sign I'm standing next to.

Me and Meg before the race.

The thrill of the finish line.

It was a good Sunday.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Burning River 100 Mile Race

What a fun day! Of course, it was probably only fun for Megan and me since we didn't have to run 100 miles in 30 hours or less. We worked the Boston Store Aid Station at miles 56 and 60.6 for our friend E and couldn't believe how much we enjoyed our shift. I had the opportunity to meet and mingle with so many interesting people...and dedicated families. The families have an even tougher day waiting for their athlete and moving from aid station to aid station during the Burning River 100 mile race. Meg worked the bag check and food stations while I checked in runners then finished up at the food station. I learned that boiled potatoes with salt and soggy ramen noodles were hot items for ultra runners. Makes sense with the salt content, easy to eat, and easy to digest on a runner's stomach. I have such admiration for people who run at night on trails with a headlight. Think about it, the runners checked in with the aid station at 60.6 miles. They still had 40 miles to go. If they ran at a 15-minute/mile pace, which would be enough to finish under the time limit, it would still take 10 more hours - the majority of which would be in the dark. Amazing!

Before going to the race, I squeezed in an 8 mile run with the final 2 miles as trail work. Puppy ran with me and he even seemed tired. I'm getting nervous about my 10 mile trail race next weekend, but also getting excited about pushing myself to do something more challenging than just road running. Tomorrow is a short run plus another swim day. Tuesday evening I'll be trying an open water swim - I'm crossing my fingers on that one!