Monday, September 19, 2011

Cross Another One Off the Bucket List - Malibu Triathlon RR

 I've been a runner forever. When triathlons came along with the Hawaii Ironman, I thought, like everyone else, that that was for crazy people only. Years went by, and shorter triathlons started popping up with names like "Sprint" that were just taunting us to go ahead and give it a try. Because what is more BA than saying you just did a triathlon? So at the relatively advanced age of 46 I took the challenge, borrowed a bike and a wetsuit, trained about 5 times in each, and completed my first sprint tri (1/4 mile swim, 10 mile bike, 3 mile run).

The next year I thought I would do it again. Bought a beginner road bike on Craig's list, got a surfer wetsuit on sale and did a little more training. Finished 2 sprint tri's that year, one a little longer, and vowed to do an Olympic Tri the next year. However last year I injured myself in mid-summer and had to bail on that plan.

So that brings me to this year. The Olympic Distance Triathlon would be mine. I signed up for the Malibu Tri with my coworker and rival Julia. She has been training like crazy, especially in the pool and bike. So while I can still take her in the run, there was no way I could compete here. Despite doing more training than ever this summer, I really don't swim or bike enough to become competitive with the "crazy" triathletes that are out there. My goal was to just do my best, work hard, have fun and finish strong.

As usual, I tossed and turned in bed the night before from 10:30 until after 1AM! Finally I drifted off, and then the alarm rang shortly after at 4:30. I roused the DW and hit the road by 5 for the 1 hour drive. We had to park a mile away from the transition area and I barely got there in time. Then we had to walk back 3/4 mile down the beach for the swim start.

It was a perfect day for racing. Cool and overcast. The ocean was fairly flat too. I was in the 5th wave, behind most of the men and ahead of the 50+ men and the women. Julia would start 13 minutes after me, so after some calculations I figured she would probably catch me during the bike, but maybe I could catch her back during the run.

Ready or not?

So, off we went! This is the 40-49 men. I am almost in the back - the only one not in a triathlete wetsuit, with bare calves. You can see the hills behind us. This would be where we would be riding bikes. I purposely hung back to avoid the jostling. The waves were easy - only had to dive through two, and then I was swimming toward the first big orange ball. once I got around that first buoy, I turned right and saw the other 5 buoys I needed to swim past on the 1-way 1500 meter swim. The last one was so far away I could barely see it. Well, much like Dora, I just had to keep swimming.

I'm not fast. Most of the men cleared out of my way pretty quick and I settled into a groove. It seemed like forever until I got to the next buoy, but I was doing OK and just kept plugging. Much like my training swims, I started to feel more comfortable and stronger in the second half of the swim. Eventually the next wave of men started to catch me, and later, some women were passing me. But I passed a few people too, and felt fine. Toward the end my toe was cramping, but i just kept going and it faded. As I got to the last buoy I felt faster and stronger than ever and powered it all the way back to the beach. Alright! Hardest part done, and I feel fine!

I head over to Transition and get ready to bike. Not a big rush. Just methodically getting dressed and ready. I'm smiling and having fun!

Soon enough I was hopping on the bike and cranking up the speed. The 40K route was all rolling hills. If I wasn't climbing, then I was racing down a hill. Constant gear shifting. And that made it fun. Plus it was all on Pacific Coast Highway with ocean and mountain views. I felt good and was pushing as hard as I could. Interestingly, I seemed to be passing a lot of people on the uphills, only to have them pass me on the downhills. I've done hardly any hill training, so I didn't expect that. I felt like I was holding my own with a bunch of serious bikers. I managed to grab a drink from an aid station while still moving full speed. They held out a water bottle and I held out my hand and it just slapped right in without wiping me out - kind of cool. I had a few drinks and tossed it. I also managed to eat a GU from my back pocket without slowing down. I had never eaten or drank while moving before, so that was cool.

About mile 15 Julia passed me, however that motivated me to push a little bit harder and I managed to stay close to her all the way back. I would catch her on the uphills and she would pass me on the downs. Just like the swim, I was feeling stronger in the 2nd half and pushed a little harder. I ended up staying ahead of her and finished the bike about 15-20 seconds ahead of her.

Here I am coming in to the finish. Still smiling! I worked my quads as hard as I could, but I felt good.

Next transition was basically just changing shoes and I was out for a run. Grabbed a Gu and water on the go. Still smiling!

Well! My legs were very brick-like, and my back was stiff and sore. I was just trying to run and get the kinks out. But I was passing everybody now. G had me at about 8 minute pace, and I was hoping for 7:30s, but I was going to take what my body gave me. The 10K run was almost flat, along the beach. After a mile I saw Julia ahead of me. What? Apparently she passed me during the transition, while I dawdled with my shoes, tying double knots or whatever. Well I stayed with her for a little while and talked, but then I surged ahead.

By mile 4 I was feeling better, but still running close to 8 minute pace. Then I realized I felt way too good. I was treating this like a training run. This was a race, darnit, and I was not hurting enough. So I cranked it up to about 7:10 pace instantly and started cruising. Still, it  felt like a tempo run. I managed to hold that pace all the way back. Not one person passed me in the run, and I must have passed 200 or more. So I finished my first Olympic distance tri - 3 hours of exercise - feeling strong and fast and invincible!

Here are the numbers. There were 1,036 finishers. I finished 621, or 60%. 57th of 90 in my age group. Total time was 3:05:02

Swim was 42:51 -  83% (meaning I beat 17% of the people)
T1 a slow 6:17
Bike 1:26:57 - 72% Averaged 17.1 mph
First 5 miles, 16.4 mph, next 5 16.3mph, next 5 17.4 mph, next 5 18.1 mph, last 5 18.7mph
T2 a slow 2:35
10K run: 46:20 19% (beat 81%!) Mile splits: 8:11, 7:58, 7:45, 7:49, 7:12, 7:08
I passed this guy on the run and told him he rocked.

This guy won the "Baby-carrying" division

Today I am stiff around the knees and in my back and neck, well pretty much all over. But I am glad to pack away the wetsuit until next Summer. Julia has already signed up for a half-ironman next year. I'm not ready to commit yet. I want to focus on running for a while. But I'm guessing the tri will be luring me back soon enough.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My 9/11 Run

 I set a goal today of running 9.11 miles at a 9:11 per mile pace. The idea was to do something in memory of those who died. A small gesture. Maybe it was just an interesting twist to put on the run. Anyway, I normally would run an easy day more like 8:30-8:40 and find it difficult to go over 9 minute pace for that long. So I tweaked the rules a little to let me run a little harder.

For all my runs, I stop the Garmin at stoplights or water breaks, so that my G time is a reflection of my running time. Today I would just let the clock run. The total pace would still be an accurate minutes per mile for the run, but it would include 2-5 minutes of downtime, thus forcing me to run faster during the run time. I set my Garmin to just show 2 numbers, distance and overall pace.

So I head out and there is a stoplight at the end of my block after 0.1 miles, and I hit it with a wait of maybe1.5 minutes. I watch the pace go from 9 to over 15 before I can finally start moving. I am taking it easy though, because I know I will have plenty of time to make it up. After mile 1 I have the pace all the way down to 10:09, and at mile 2 it is 9:40. Time for a short water break, but then I continue on. At mile 3 it has only dropped to 9:37.

This whole run, I am doing math in my head. Which is fine, because I like to do math in my head. But after mile 3 I started to think I better step it up a bit. I hoped to have it down to 9:11 pace by mile 6 so I could just keep it there the rest of the way. So miles 4 and 5 I am pressing a little, probably running under 8:30. At mile 4 I was down to 9:21, and by mile 5 i was down to 9:11. Phew!

So I took another water break and then took it easy up a short steep hill. Suddenly I am close to 9:20 again! I pick it up a little, but I am really tired! It is warm, and I had a busy Saturday.

So the reason I am tired is that I had a killer brick workout on Saturday - My last swimming and biking workouts before next Saturday's triathlon. I started with a 1-mile ocean swim (longest ever). The water was flat and I felt really good until I turned around and swam into the current on the way back. Still, an encouraging swim. I walked back home and hopped on the bike for a 25 mile bike ride. I was getting pretty tired in the last ten miles, mainly because I was fighting a nasty headwind the whole way. By the time I woke up Sunday I was sore in lots of places, and feeling a little burnt out. But I had a run to do.
***End of Intermission***

So I reach the next water stop at 6 miles and just have it back to 9:11 pace. After drinking and pausing it is back up to 9:13, but I try to relax and run at about 9 minute pace, which feels fine because I am tired and hot. I cruise along and let it drop to 9:09, 9:08. At 7.5 I stop again for water and it is back up to 9:10. I start to plan my finish.

The route should put me very close to 9.11 miles when I get home, but I have that long light waiting for me, a tenth of a mile before home. I may hit it perfect, or I may have to wait up to 2 minutes. I decide I need to have some time banked in case, and then if I need to, I will walk the last block as needed. I get it down to about 9:08 and try to keep it there as I head home.

So I crest the hill and see the light, and.. I just missed it. I still need to run .2 miles so instead of standing and waiting I jog down to the next light, not far away. Still I have to wait. 9:09.......9:10.....I jog a little up and down the street to slow it down...9:11...dammit, turn green!

Finally the other light turns yellow and I don't wait any more and go as soon as it is safe. Watch says 9:12 and I am at 9.05 miles!!! I sprint madly up the street! When I pass 9.09 miles the pace flips back to 9:11. I keep going, slowing a little and finally get to the magic screen and hit stop. Did it!

So, that made an LSD day into a very interesting run. I actually did spend some time thinking about the victims during the run too.

Here are my actual mile splits:
10:08, 9:13, 9:28, 8:34, 8:32, 9:13, 8:49, 9:28, 9:01, 1:14 (last 0.11)
83:41 total time


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I watched the 2 hour recap on NBC last night. It brought back all the emotions.

I had an idea, that may sound silly and trivial and self-centered, but I thought you runners may like it.

Sunday I will run 9.11 miles. I thought I would aim for 9:11 per mile pace as well, but I don't know if I can do that, as it is hard for me to slow down that much. That would involve sacrifice...

Pause for irony to sink in.

Maybe I can focus on slowing down enough and spend the 84 minutes thinking about the 2,973 people who passed that day, and how lucky I am. That's about one person for every two seconds of my run. Dang.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Stronger and Faster and Happier

The more I do, the stronger I get. This training thing really works! Lately I seem to just be getting stronger and faster and feel better all the time. I am in some kind of awesome groove and I like it! So I need to share with my peeps who understand.

Anyway, my last blog was after 3 straight weekends of racing and loop meetups and awesomeness. PR, PR and PR. But now I had to get back into triathlon training because my Olympic tri was 3 weeks away and I really didn't do enough swimming and biking this summer - what with adding all these races.

So after the "real" hill of death a week ago Saturday, I took 3 days off and did nothing. Good thing because my quads were very sore and needed a break. Then I got busy.

Wed: Easy 5 miles at 8:40. Still shaking out the soreness.

Thurs: Back to the pool after 3 weeks without swimming. Managed 1200 meters.

Fri: 7 miles at 8:33. Feeling pretty good.

Sat: Bike ride - 21 miles with most of it at 16+ mph, which is pushing it for me.

Sun: Planned to do 9 miles, but I felt so good I stretched it to 10.3. Pace was pretty good too with the last 6 at 8:15 and mile 9 at 7:57.

Labor Day: Hoped to do an ocean swim, but we had really high surf, and there were warnings to stay out. Plus a shark sighting. So, I took a day off.

Tues: Group Run. Did 6.4 miles of trails and felt strong and had fun.

Wed: Back to the pool. Did 1600 meters for the first time, with hardly any pauses. Felt strong! I guess I will survive the 1500 meter ocean swim.

Thur: Speedwork. Since I've been feeling so good, I decided to do 4 x 1 mile intervals. Thought maybe 7:15 pace to start and then maybe get down near 7:00. It was warm - over 80 - probably the hottest run of the year, but a nice breeze and cooling down. I broke out the Kinvaras and felt fast.

   1.3 mile warmup at 8:34 (already fast)
   First mile 7:14, 0.7 miles at 8:26
   Second mile 7:07, still holding back,  0.5 miles at 8:59
   Third mile 6:55! I feel like I could do these all day!, 0.65 miles at 8:43
   4th mile 6:48! The last half was probably close to 6:30 after a slower start. I had a lot left in the tank!

I tell ya, these Kinvaras really must help a lot. I feel like I'm cheating. I'm glad it is now OK to train in "racing" shoes. But I am feeling really good lately. I seem to finish every workout feeling great, with the feeling that I could do more - and I want to do more!  Basically everything is just building on everything else; the cross training, the better eating, the weight training, the speedwork, the shoes, the lower weight, the loop love. Add it all up and it makes for one happy, healthy, speedy Bangle. Yay! Looking forward to busting out more PRs and breaking more barriers in the months and years to come.
It's a Banana Day!