Monday, October 27, 2014


DCCX is a fun course and a fun atmosphere, though it never ends up being as close-by as it feels it should be. It was a great morning out there but the race itself was a disappointment for me. I had a good starting position but everyone flew right by in the first stretch and I felt like I was gutting it out the whole time.

I had a few moments that felt good, caught a few of my fellow stragglers and had a crew that happened to be there from Team Z cheering for me as I ran up the big stairs, but mostly I felt pretty slow and my left foot hurt whenever I dismounted (4 times per lap for 2 sets of barriers, the big stairs, and the zig zag on the hillside, which was too dusty for me to be able to clean this year).

Turns out I couldn't walk by Monday morning because that left foot had a 4th toe that was infected. It's good to have an excuse or at least a reason. So I ended up taking the whole week off - I barely even walked, didn't ride to work, didn't walk the kids to school until Wednesday or Thursday. Friday I played some tennis and felt pretty sprightly. I even looked into racing, but the cross race was way out in Harrisonburg, which I didn't want to go out to.

We took the kids hiking in the Shenandoah instead, which was great, and now I am reminded that sometimes you have to take some time off. I am wondering if the toe was just the body forcing me to take a few days. Either way, back to racing next week.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hyattsville CX

A beautiful day for cross last Sunday at Hyattsville. I am fairly sure this flat course the zigs and zags across grass the baseball infields doesn't suit my strengths very much, as I am tentative on tight turns, am trying to learn to pass more confidently, and seem to do best on the somewhat technical bits, very few of which exist at this course.

In the end it was a fairly good day. My start was average though on the first set of tight turns the woman right in front of me somehow managed to wipe out and block my whole route through. I kind of wanted to try to ride over her back wheel, but was, honestly, probably going to slowly to pull it off. This might be the first indicator that my attitude to cross racing is changing a bit. The other indicator is that on the turns I was actively thinking about what lines I might take to keep people from passing me. This is not the triathlon way, but my Cross friends seemed to view it as progress.

Anyway, I managed to pass a few people and a few people passed me. There is one short technical section on the course, just up a hill, over a log, and down a gravelly slope. Everything I did to improve my position in the race pretty much happened in that tiny woody section, as I was riding the log and didn't mind hitting the downhill fastish. Which brings us up toward the end of the race.

We had 5 laps on the board, but after last week I was almost certain that I would get pulled again after 4 so I raced it like my last lap. There was a woman that I was going back and forth with through laps 3 and 4. She passed me on the barriers and I would pass her on or right after the hill. She tried to pass me on the barriers near the end of lap 4, but I managed to hold her off and leave her 20 yards behind or so...as we started lap 5, since we didn't get pulled.

I guess that's your prize for racing the penultimate lap like the last one.

Soon after we went by the judges I noticed that they had opened the course for warm ups right behind us. We were the last 2 on the course and I felt like I had a good chance of holding her off. Zig zag zig zag and then into the hill. Up and down and out onto the grass where I skidded a bit ont he first corner. Am I getting too confident and taking the corner too sharp? Again on the next corner. Flat! Arggh! The woods were my savior, but then they took it away as well.

But then again, as long as I finished I could only lose one position, so it was time to run. Not a fun run, but 12/28 I will take.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Snacking Urge

A great way for me to get faster on the bike when I don't have more time to actually spend on the bike right now is to go ahead and lose those lingering 10 pounds.

For me that means lots of hot tea and going to bed a little hungry. That's the worst at 10:10 pm. But sometimes it just gets me to go to bed. I should probably listen to that instinct. More sleep would help too.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Apple Cross

And cross season begins again. And again I find that it's hard as anything else I am doing all year and if I had any sense, I would be training for it during the summer.

I decided I can't race the Cat 4 Beginner races anymore in my 3rd season, so I am racing the women's 3/4 race. It is at noon, which is great for getting there to pre-ride and not rushing out in the morning, but means I don't get home until after nap ends, if today is any indication. In addition to that, it means I am riding with the fast girls. The really fast girls too, as the women 1/2/3 share the race with us, but at least I am not racing against them.

I really liked the course at Apple Cross. And I was very grateful to be able to pre-ride it with Karen, who pointed all sorts of stuff out to me. It had turns but not 100 180 degree turns, which I find get in the way of enjoying a course. It had nice swoopy sections. It had a couple of technical sections and some dismounts and a huge hill that was in fact ride-able, apparently, though I didn't try. It could have been a little wetter, as the dry conditions made it all really dusty, but I think I will choose not to complain about that.

I started out in the second row at staging but a big group of women left me in their dust (figuratively, but only because the start was on pavement) in the first 100 yards or so. I caught and passed a few in that first lap, but then rode mostly alone for the 2nd and 3rd laps. When I went by the judges on the 2nd lap and saw that we had 3 more laps to go (3?!), I almost shed a tear. And also resolved to dial it back a little, because that sounded like a lot.

I learned a few lessons as I went, like don't run so hard up the hill that you are still winded from it 3 minutes later, and I practiced some cornering techniques that I have been reading about. But mostly I searched for (1) the right exertion level to make it through without falling apart and (2) anyone else on the course. Unfortunately I found someone from the wrong direction on the 4th lap, when a woman who had been trailing me for a bit caught and passed me. She was gracious later in victory and complimented my handling in the technical bits. We didn't end up having to do that 5th lap, as we were pulled off the course after 4 (along with 10 others from the 3/4 race). As I approached the barriers on the 4th (which I had almost tripped right in front of on the 2nd lap when I didn't unclip smoothly), I heard on the PA that the winner of the Elite race was coming out of the woods, the section right behind me. I dug in with the goal not to get lapped, so at least I met that one.

This has been kind of a meandering race report, but I hope that I will be able to nail down my cross racing (and my reports) sometime earlier this year that I did last year. I had arguably my best race of the season in the last race last year, so peaking a bit earlier might be nice. Though maybe it was just the snowy conditions-maybe it can snow earlier this year. (Joking, joking, really.)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Summer and Tri Season are Over?

I am outlandishly behind on posting and it hardly even seems worth it to try to recap the entire summer, but I'lll keep it brief. I raced the NJ Olympic Triathlon in July and Luray Olympic in August and had fairly good races in both. The courses remain very different (I did both races last year too), with NJ a flat fast course, particularly on the bike, and Luray having a rolling hills throughout the beautiful bike course and a few soul sucking hills on the run as well.

The run at the Olympic distance still eludes me. At NJ I am certain that I went too hard on the bike, as I had a competitor in my sights and was tracking her most of the course, and that hurt my run severely. At Luray I was thinking about the NJ race and rode more conservatively. I felt much better starting the run, but the general state of my fitness definitely cost me, as I tried to make a pass on the run when I saw a woman in my age group out on the course in front of me, but she was able to pass me back on an uphill. Rinse, repeat, but then she dropped me and put about 1:30 into me in the last 1.25 of the race. Not my finest hour on the road and I am left wondering if it was more physical or mental and if I would have found another gear if I had known I was racing for 3rd. I would have denied it at the time, but I can look back now and wonder.

I can also look back and say that I was diligent about going to the track and doing my speedwork all winter, but fell off in the late spring and summer. They locked the track I usually go to, but I should have found another solution. I am also carrying about 10 pounds more than I should, and that will slow a person down. Finally, I winged my triathlon program this summer - no coach, no real plan day-to-day. This is not the way to make the podium, so I really shouldn't be surprised with the outcome.

For my records, I'll put the times for the races in.

NJ State Olympic - Mid-Atlantic Regional Qualifier- 2:35:31
Swim- 28:55
T1- 2:20
Bike- 1:10:30 (21.7 mph)
T2- 1:19
Run- 52:26 (definitely blew up on this run)

Luray Olympic- 2:45:24
4th/ 30 (*Luray had an Open division this year and 3 women who would have been in my age group raced open and finished ahead of me.)
Swim- 28:42 (5th AG - I was quite happy with this swim as I managed to draft and stay focused for much of the time)
T1- 2:40
Bike- 1:22:32 (2nd AG)
T2- 1:08 (fastest in my age group - that never happens!)
Run- 50:24 (5th AG)

I can recommend both these races as well-run and in great locations for bringing the family for the day. Dave raced the other day of the weekend both times and the race sites had playgrounds and entertainment and in the case of Luray, a beach on the lake as well as a band playing on a small pavilion who let all the little kids come up with them and dance and even sing the ABCs into the microphone.

Thanks to Ignite Endurance and Tri360 and all our sponsors, particularly in my case, Skratch, Rudy Project, and Gu Energy.

Looking forward to doing some Cross this Fall and maybe training hard for a half marathon again in the spring. I might be getting a new bike, so if that comes to pass, I will be sure to let you all know what I end up with and if it makes me feel fast...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Race Week Upon Us Again

Race week is here. It's been 2 months and somehow I feel like I haven't raced in years. YEARS!

But all the hallmarks of race week are here: the feeling that I definitely haven't prepared adequately, the worries about my equipment being in its best working order, concerns about packing for racing and for caring for 2 kids for a weekend without going nuts, that itchy feeling you get to work hard when you are tapering, despite the nagging feeling that your body is tight and slow, a sudden focus on eating clean.

Ah, race week.

I do have one new thing, though. I got an awesome package from my friend Holly, in her second year of triathlon this summer, and it included a triathlon necklace. I am wearing it all week to keep my focus on the race at hand this weekend. I am not sure if I am going to race in it yet, as it jingles as I run and I can't decide if the sound is keeping me in the moment of what I am doing or keeps me from getting in a zone, but that same jingle is keeping me thinking about the upcoming race, so that's working. 

We go back to the NJ State Triathlon this weekend. Last year we had a great time despite the heat and hot water. This year, the high is supposed to be in the low 80s, but our friends who introduced us to the race are out of town, so you win some, you lose some. My parent are planning to come down, however, so that will be fun for the kids and for us to have them cheering.

In other news, Tour de France. Love it. That's all I have to say about that.

More from me when it's all over, unless I get race antsy again before Sunday and feel like writing. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sugarloaf Ride

Seems like my Ignite Endurance team members are always heading off for a ride to Sugarloaf Mountain. It's about a 40 mile ride from DC and the starting point is about 10 miles from us here in Falls Church. I don't generally ride long, haven't ridden more than 50 probably since I last trained for a half Iron in 2009. Until yesterday I had never been, as just picking up a century ride is not something I am really able to do.

When our family was discussing Memorial Day plans, I wanted to do some hiking with the kids. My husband suggested I do the ride to Sugarloaf, which has short hiking trails, good for families with little ones. They would give me a head start (a sizable one) and meet me there for hiking. It was a terrific morning and I had a terrific ride, though it was a little hillier than I have been doing, and not on the portions of the route I was expecting hills.

In the end I beat them there by about 15 minutes (winner!) so I go a little rest (though I hung out on shoulder and when I saw them, I let them catch me at the parking lot--I suspected the going entertainment on the ride had been looking out the window for Mommy and I didn't want to disappoint). The rest was needed though, since the second part of my workout included some stretches of carrying a squirmy 30 pounds up the steepest parts of the mountain.

Sugarloaf was a success, though. I'll have to figure out a way to get back.