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.

Kinetic Sprint Race Report

This race report is a little delayed, but here goes.

Kinetic Sprint

I really like this early season race and I keep going back. The venue is terrific and the race is fast and I always know people there. It was my first open water road triathlon (that's kind of a specific category, I know, but it was also my first road triathlon with more than 35 people in it) and I foresee continuing to return.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, I wasn't sure how this was going to go this year. I have been training, but, like I said, I haven't been laser-focused on this race or anything. Luckily I've done enough (if I counted right, this was my 25th triathlon), that I wasn't panicking. You can't change the preparations you haven't done, so I just marched forward with my regular race day routine.

I drove down the morning of and got there in plenty of time for set up and warm up and even some chatting.

Swim: 12:54 for 750 m
It is such a pleasure to be at a race and be able to talk to people I don't get to see that often that taking advantage of this almost literally caused me to miss my wave. I don't think I have ever done that before. I joked, "Oh I better go or I'll miss my wave" and then when I crossed the beach to the start it really was my wave in the water already. Whoops.

The swim was rather uneventful. After this cold winter I was surprised that the water was 68 degrees, but it was perfect. The only really notable thing was that at one point in the first couple of minutes another woman literally grabbed by ankle and tried to pull me backwards. Now, I know as much as anyone that it can get scrappy on the swim and it rarely really seems worth noting, but this was unusual. I hope I didn't knock her goggles off when I responded.

I did try to keep focused on working hard the whole swim, as getting distracted can be a problem for me, and I think I performed better than average (for me) on this. 

T1: 2:17
I know that this transition has a bit of a run to it, but I never fail to be disappointed with my transition time at this this race. 

Bike: 44:47 for 15.5 miles
The bike course is in its second year of being shorter and flatter than the old course. I decided to push it this year a little harder than I have in the past, not as hard as I could go for just biking, but trying to find the edge of how hard I can bike and still run decently. As I said to a friend recently, this is kind of the defining question in triathlon, right?  I am pretty sure I have been looking for the limit for the past few years of racing. Someday the limit will come naturally, maybe?

I carved about :30 off last year's bike time, but then again, I was pushing hard last year too. There was a lot of back and forth in the first couple of miles as the crowds thinned out, but for the most part people were civil and careful throughout this. There were two women (from the same team, it appeared) who both pulled out into the left lane right in front of me to pass someone without even a glance backwards, causing me to have to pull up and wait for them to complete their pass in order for me to pass them. I guess that's their right, as they were in front of me on the road, but it seemed pretty rude to pull out in front of someone going faster.

I think a woman or two passed me in these early miles, not from my age group, but after we got to the top of the hill on the way out of the park, I am pretty sure I wasn't passed. The fastest female bike in the race was about 4:30 minutes faster than my time, though, kind of a lot over 15 miles, so I need work on that. More speed work on the bike and more focused work in general on the bike would definitely be a good way to go.

T2: 0:54

That's a transition time I can get behind, I think.

Run: 23:37 for 5k

The run at Kinetic always starts out rough. The first half mile out of transition is a pretty steep hill and with biking legs, I always feel like it's a slog and that I am going so slowly I might as well walk. Luckily I have the memory to also know that this rarely ends up to be a true assessment of the situation, as that mile has frequently been respectable. This year was no different, as I suffered through it and used the crowd to keep me from walking then discovered at the end of the first mile that I had managed an 8 min mile for it.

I followed my basic approach of seeing people up ahead and trying to catch them (I caught a couple of women though no one in my age group) and reminding myself how sweet and fast the last .5 mile of the run course is, all downhill through the shade. I kept an eye out behind me, but there didn't seem to be anyone coming up fast, so I pushed it, but didn't panic, into the finish line.

After crossing, I bent over at the waist. I knew one of the guys working the finishing tent and he asked if I was feeling ok. "Never. Never at the end of a race." That's about right, but maybe also how it should be. I then saw a very excellent looking chair in the shade of the tent and sat in it for about 5 minutes. There were two other women taking refuge there and we had a nice chat about the race. I felt no rush, one of the luxuries of being at race day alone. On the other hand, when I went to rinse off in the lake and all the kids were playing in the water and on the beach, I really wanted mine to be there too, so a toss up.

Race Time: 1:24:28

Good enough for 3rd age group (down one from last year) and 10th overall for the women (same as last year, strangely enough).

Thanks to Airrosti  for helping me over the winter with injuries, to Tri360 for all my bike and triathlon needs, to Rudy Project for my prescription sunglasses, without which running and cycling would be much harder,  and Skratch and GuEnergy for various fueling and hydration needs. All these products sure do make training more comfortable and enjoyable.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Race Week

I missed two race reports so I'll give the very shortest versions possible.

Shamrock half marathon: March - second fastest on record. Very pleased. Liked the tailwind on the way home. Ran near a guy in a purple oxford and a white linen suit much of the time.

Fountainhead BYB 5 Miler: April - Decided Spring isn't Spring without the Backyard Burn. Suffered, per usual at Fountainhead, but managed a 2nd AG, 3rd OA. Was beaten by a 12 year old.

This Sunday is Mother's Day and once again I am celebrating by racing Kinetic Sprint.

I feel totally unprepared. I was really happy with my running preparation through my 10k, but that was about 3 months ago and I kind of feel like it has fallen apart since then. And not just the running. Maybe it is because I haven't buckled down and written an actual plan since I finished the 10k plan (I KNOW, I know, just do it) but I somehow feel that I haven't been even training, even though I know I have.

Well - the good thing is, there isn't anything to do at this point other than eat well, try to get some sleep, and execute as well as possible on race day. I wouldn't say I am nervous, but I did admit to Dave tonight that I am terrified. I don't know why, because it hurts just as much no matter how fit you are - the only thing different is the time the clock stops.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Race Report: GW Birthday Classic 10k

Advertised as fast and flat, this is a race course on which a mere overpass stands out as a big hill and it was my A-race for the winter and a test case for my attempt to go sub-7 minute miles (faster than 43:30).

I set a baseline in November at 44:37 on an even flatter (but windier) course along the Potomac at the Run for the Parks 10k and have been going to the track all winter and doing increasingly fast mile repeats, among other distances. I was feeling pretty good in late December but when the weather turned wintry in January, the track I use was locked or covered in snow and ice most of the time and my speed work moved inside to the treadmill. This made me nervous, but there weren't that many options, so there you go.

 Bottom line: my treadmill results indicated I should have been able to make my goal, but I didn't trust them.

Early in the week it looked like it might be 17 degrees F at race start Sunday, which didn't sound like PR weather to me, but since there is nothing more out of your control than the weather, it seemed silly to worry too much about it. The pre-race mustering was inside a government office building with a big courtyard lobby, which is a really nice touch. Also, it turned out that it was closer to mid-20s yesterday morning, but with the sun out, I felt warm enough at the start to worry about being hot and take off my hat. Good choice.

I set up near the front of the crowd and there were a lot of women up there edging toward the front and I felt it might be a fast field. For the first time of several (many?) I reminded myself that I was not there to race them, I was racing the clock. I had a time goal and if these girls (women, sorry) are fasties, so be it.

The gun and go. The course started out with about 0.2 flat, then up over the biggish overpass and then a mild climb from mile 1 - 2.5, about. Then it flattens out and there is one short little climb to the turnaround and then back you come.

As predicted, a bunch of the women all around me shot off the front. After the overpass, a group of 4 of us settled in together and all were going the same pace: two men and one other woman. The guys were pretty tall so I tried to get behind them, but didn't get too much of a block, as the wind was coming at us more from the side. The 4 of us stayed together until about mile 4.5 and I stuck with the other woman until the last 0.2, where she managed to put some distance between us.

What I am going to remember about this race, I think, will be relentlessly watching my pace on my watch, constant self-talk ranging from the point above about my goal being my clock time, reminding myself that this is what all that time at the track all fall and winter was about, and, in the second half, just trying to get to the next mile marker on pace before thinking about the one after that.

Coming toward the finish, the overpass came in sight and somehow looked enormous. My miles had been, more or less, faster than 7:00 at this point, but I had been pretty sure I needed those banked seconds for the overpass and to account for any difference between my watch miles and the actual race distance, since it seemed like I was a little off. I didn't want to slow down on the overpass, but it was going to be inevitable so I was planning to try and get some of the time back on the descent to get the average back.

In the end, the last 0.2 was super painful and I had to watch the woman I had been running with run away and I got passed by another woman who I hadn't even known was there (and who, I learned later, turned out to be my new  Ignite Endurance teammate Brie - our kit doesn't have long sleeves and neither of us was in it), but my first sight of the clock was in the 41 minutes and it looked close enough. I finished in 43:02 with a official race results pace of 6:57 (my watch said faster since it claimed I had run 6.25).  

I was so happy that I managed it, and it took me almost the whole rest of the morning to think about how long it might take to get down to a 40 minute 10k. I have really liked having a run-focus winter, so maybe that will be next winter's goal. Hopefully after this winter's focus translates to faster run times on the triathlon course.

The one thing I haven't liked about a run-focus winter is that my left hip and my right knee have been bothering me. Carrying our baby on my hip for months and months last winter is probably the origin (or a key origin) of this issue and I tried to address it with some trips to the chiropractor in the summer with moderate success, but had fallen off the routine because I had trouble making it in every week for treatment.

When Airrosti, specialists in soft tissue injuries, because Ignite sponsors, I found that there was a doctor nearby in McLean and decided to give it a try. The treatment itself is kind of painful, but not much more than I faced at my chiropractor. And it really seems to work right away. the first day I found myself walking more smoothly. I am really pleased with my progress so far in 3 or 4 treatments and my running stride is much improved. So thanks to them for the help in this weekend's success.

The hip isn't perfect, but I noticed almost right away that I was running faster and my strides didn't feel teeny tiny, like they had been. The tough part is the homework, rolling and exercises 2 times per day at home. I am going to try to keep at it, but I am afraid of falling off when the treatments stop after this week. I think that with some diligence, I would be able to hang onto many of the benefits, which, of course is the point.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Swimming 1000 Yard Time Trial +

Time trial at Sunday evening Masters tonight. I've gotten to go to this 90 minute practice two weeks in a row and I have been very surprised that I am able to swim the 4000+ yards without much trouble, even though I never swim more than 3000ish yards and about an hour on my own. My arms are a little tired tonight, but I have been expecting to be totally exhausted and instead I am still up at 10:40pm.

Anyway, not much to report on that except that I managed a 15:01 on the time trial, even though we had a little bouncing around in our lane with positions. What I don't know is whether I will be able to be back for many of the future iterations, but this is one thing I can certainly do on my own, even if I would never manage the length of the whole practice if I were on my own, for weakness of mental toughness.

I have my second treatment tomorrow with Airrosti, a new sponsor of Ignite Endurance. It is injury treatment on this hip thing I have from carrying a baby on my hip for months and month last year and then being a triathlete. It has been achy and annoying over the last 12 months or so and I have seen my chiro a few times for it and other things, but I am focused on trying to make it go away now. After my first treatment last week, I noticed walking back to my car that I was moving better. I expected something, but not to realize that I had been kind of hobbling for months. More to come on that.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Starting Up Again

All around I see and sense the athletes getting ready for the spring. Things never really went dormant, but there is less and then there is more. I have been focused on running this winter and doing other things where they fit in, but, as I keep hearing, triathlon season is right around the corner.

We've made an order for a new batch of Skratch, the pool is beginning to beckon, I did a real workout on the bike trainer last night-using power numbers and intervals and everything- and it is becoming obvious that I have nothing on my schedule after next month's 10k.

So, it is time to buckle down with a race plan, even if it is going to be another modest year. But I want the races and training I do to be quality.

I want to do some racing, but I have dreams of spending time hiking with my kids and enjoying some unscheduled outdoors time with them. Hiking is a love of mine that always seems to take a backseat to training, and I want to change that.

Another place where I am developing a weakness is with my strength training. I was in a strength/power/SAQ class for most of last year at the gym, often just 2 or 3 of us, and towards the end, just me. It was just a week, but it made me feel great, so I need to make that happen one way or another again. Will it be training, CrossFit (I can't believe I just wrote that!), or another class, I don't know, but something has to happen on that front.

Time to get going...