Tuesday, August 31, 2010

For the Love of Running

Florida is hot.  This is something that we all know, and I was reminded this summer that there is typically a reason I take summers off from running.  It's too freaking hot.  With the exception of my run in North Carolina for my tri, there are no runs in recent memory that don't involve the feeling of miserable heat.  Sticky and humid, it's just a miserable experience.  But wait...what is this?  The heat finally broke?  That's right!  After a record-breaking 50+ day streak of 90+ temperatures, it's finally cooling down. 

I went for a 4 mile with E and it felt awesome!  It was definitely a run that helped me remember how good running can feel.  Being able to focus on how my body felt rather than the sweltering heat was invigorating! 

I'm getting pumped for half marathon training.  Only a couple weeks to go before it starts!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Shoes!

I won't lie.  I LOVE getting new shoes.  Ever since I discovered the idea of going to a running store and having my arches analyzed, my stride studied and my old shoes examined, I look forward to needing a new pair.  All of this followed by the Goldilocks feeling of finding that perfect fit.  Eminent satisfaction. 

So last night, I went to 1st Place Sports, my local running store of choice.  Over the past year, since I began to pick up mileage and become more fit, my stride has changed a little, and my overall fitness has changed a lot.  I've become less of a heel striker, and find myself landing more on my midfoot and forefoot.  They brought out the 2010 model of my old sneakers, the Adidas Supernova, a pair of Asics, Brooks and Sauconys

Getting fitted last night was one of the instances where you are aware how far you have progressed.  I remember going to get shoes last year in jeans and a t-shirt, having no clue what I was doing or what I needed.  It didn't occur to me that I might want to actually run in the shoes I was buying before purchasing or that one pair might feel markedly different from the other one.  This year I was prepared.  I wore running clothes, took in my old sneakers and brought socks.  I was ready. 

Having a better idea of what I do and don't like and a well-worn pair of shoes to show off my stride made a big difference.  The Asics were far too soft for me; the gel cushioning, while comfortable, did not appeal as I like my shoes strapped quite firmly on my foot.  The Brooks felt like they didn't have enough give for my stride, and felt like the sole on the inner part of the shoe were too tough.  I liked the Adidas, as they felt as good as my old pair did, but not perfect.  The Sauconys....now those felt like a little bit of heaven.  I tried out all four pairs on the treadmill, and took the Sauconys outside for a run around the building.  I was in love.  I took home the Saucony ProGrid Ride 3.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Laziest Weeks

My tri was officially done a little over two weeks ago.  The first week I decided to allow myself a break:  eat whatever I wanted, not worry about exercise, just enjoy life and relax.  As these things are wont to do, they have somehow tumbled into another week, and another.  My next event will be the Outback Distance Classic on Thanksgiving, a half marathon that will hopefully make me feel like I've earned my turkey.  The plan after that is to run the Donna Half Marathon on February 13, 2011, both of which events will theoretically pump me up for another tri season.  I will probably also follow the Donna with the Gate River Run in March.  I ran the Gate last year, and that was my first longer distance run.  I suppose the race that really helped get this whole tri/half marathon thing going.  This trifecta of runs that should hopefully up my running stamina and help me shed a couple pounds.  I am determined now to complete 1-2 olympic distances next year, and I plan on being up for the challenge!

Tonight I am going to get a new pair of run shoes.  My shoes are on their last leg, and breaking in a fresh pair should be a great way to start off my season of running.  My half training officially begins on September 12.  Here goes nothing!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Big Day

The alarm went off at 4:15 a.m.  I think I was already a little bit awake, having tossed and turned all night in anticipation.  Into the shower and then it was time for breakfast, a plain blueberry bagel and a Luna Brownie Chocolate protein bar, with a Red Bull of course.  Everything was laid out and ready to go by E when I got out the shower, so the morning moved like a well oiled machine.  Breakfast of Champions.  E, my wonderful support crew, and I had packed everything up the night before, so the morning just meant getting dressed and putting bike and tri bag in the car.
We were on the road by 5:15, and joined a small caravan on headlights in the darkness headed for Lake Logan. This was it, it was finally here.  It was tough to realize that this was it.  11 weeks of training, blogging, pain, frustration, joy and satisfaction rolled up into one morning of my life.
We parked at the appointed location, and old airstrip beginning to be reclaimed by the grassy field around it.  It was a cool 63 degrees, so I had yoga pants and a pullover on top of my tri outfit; 90 degree Florida mornings do not prepare one for the cool temps that other places experience in the midst of August.  It was lovely though, to breathe the cool air and see the mist rising above the water as we walked towards the lighted tennis courts, where I was to be body marked and pick up my chip.  Depositing Bella outside the fences of the court, I went in and had "109" written on my arms and legs, and my age on the back of my calf.  The next station was for my timing chip, which I fastened around my left ankle.  Nothing left then but to find my spot in transition, the area that would hold all my gear for the next several hours.  New racks spaced wide apart meant roomy aisles and plenty of room for everyone to lay out their gear.  I set up my little transition area under the spotlights, surrounded by all the others and their loved ones who had gotten up this early to support them.  The transition area was not locked down like most that we've seen, so E was able to come in with me, which was kind of nice.    E also played photographer for the day and for the trip, so he was able to absorb what I couldn't, and actually see what was going on around us, and the carefully controlled chaos that is race morning and transition area set up.
After ensuring that everything was as I wanted it, E and I walked down to the water so I could get my first look at the buoys.  Wow.  And I mean WOW.  They looked tremendously, impossibly far away.  Was it possible I had ever swam that distance?  But all I could do at that point was take a deep breath and get ready to dive in.  I put on my wetsuit and went down to the starting area, where I took E's advice and got in the water to swim around a bit, testing out the new goggles, wetsuit and swimming in freshwater - lot's of newness for race morning!  Everything felt good though.  Before I knew it, my wave start was coming up and I got in the water with all of my other purple caps.  The first 10 minutes or so went really well.  I kept up with people, maintained  my stroke, put my face in water - it was great.  But I wasn't maintaining my breathing like I should, and soon I was out of breath and puffing.  Thus commenced the rest of the swim, which was mostly a combination of side-stroking, breast-stroking, head-out-of-water stroking and my actual swim stroke.  It felt like it took forever, and the waves that went behind me started to catch up.  Overall, the swim took me about 42 minutes, and I actually was looking pretty good in my space in the pack.

Next Up:  The bike and the run!

Monday, August 9, 2010

My First Olympic Tri: The Journey North

The tri fell on a Saturday, at Lake Logan in North Carolina, a little outside of Waynesville.  As this is about a seven hour drive for us, we started our journey on Thursday evening, driving about halfway, stopping in Orangeburg, South Carolina for the night.  I had butterflies in my stomach the whole drive, and I tried not to think about what Saturday would bring.  I vacillated between feeling almost sick (why on earth did I sign up for this) and being really, really excited.  It is one thing to know logically that you have done the training, but in the blood, sweat and tears, and another to really think - know - you can do it.

Friday morning found us back on the road, this time not stopping until we found our hotel, the Waynesville Inn.  We were given an adorable room on the second floor, at the very end of a long and somewhat winding hallway. The whole Inn, at least the part our room was located in, had the feel of an old world hotel, that place families came to for weeks on end or where empty-nesters would come for golf and antiquing (if you can't tell, I'm channeling a little Dirty Dancing here).  We loved our room, with its lovely porch that had a view of the golf course (could care less) and the ridges of the mountains (the very exciting part).  In addition to hosting a bunch of triathletes for the weekend, the hotel was also playing host to the Western Carolina Porsche Club's annual meeting, or some such event.  Either way, this meant a portion of the parking lot was reserved for a fleet of shiny porsches of every model, several cocktail hours and a "Porsches on the Green" contest.  It was a bit interesting, to see groups of triathletes, in their compression socks with giant bags of gear, sharing elevators with the upper-crust Porsche owning set in their polos and loafers.  
The hotel was about 25 minutes from the race site, so after checking in we drove to the site to see what I was getting myself in to.  My stomach churned the closer we got to it, and I had to remember that it was fun.  My  mantra became "I'm doing this for fun."  Remembering that was extremely helpful.  When we arrived, they already had the transition area in place, and were setting up different cones and markers.  There were a couple other early arrivals like us, roaming the area, scoping out the lake and the docks, as well as the grassy lanes that marked the entrances and exits for T1 and T2.  
There were no bouys in the lake yet, but the serene body of water, nestled in the midst of Pisgah National Forest was very soothing.  It was the type of idyllic setting that seemed nothing bad could happen there.  From some of the race reports, I was also picturing a long jog from the lake to T1, and was relieved to see that it was not much longer, if at all than what I was used to.  We left the site, and I felt a lot better having seen where I would be swimming and running, though having now seen part of the bike course, I was nervous about the one part I had been super confident about.
The roads leading up to Lake Logan were steep and winding, and would be a part of the bike course.  Suddenly, I didn't think I had done enough bridge repeats or hill training.  Gulp.
After an hour of relaxation at the hotel, we left to go for packet pick up.  This turned out to be a cluster.  When you have a three hour window for people to pick up packets, and you know you can expect 400-500 people in this window, generally you want to go heavy on the volunteer front.  Packet pick up was not a pleasant experience, and I won't lie I pouted a bit when I was through with the whole thing.  They started out by giving me the wrong person's packet, arguing with me when I said it wasn't mine, and then I discover that the oh so coveted race shirt, that memorial to my pain, was not what I was expecting.  Did it say "Lake Logan International Distance Triathlon"?  It sure did.  It also said "Multisport Festival" and listed the Lake Logan Sprint Tri and Aquathon going on that same weekend.  E's suggestion, given the list quality of events on the shirt was to take a black Sharpie and circle my event.  
Dinner was a lovely meal at Bocelli's, a neat little Italian restaurant in town, and then it was back to the room and to bed.  Number 109 was ready to rock and roll!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I did it!

I will write a longer report tomorrow, but I did it!  I finished my first Olympic Triathlon.  Despite a dropped chain and a fall on the bike, I came out with a time of 3:45, fifteen minutes over my goal, but I'm happy just to have finished.  As for the day after....I hurt like hell today, so we'll see what a cup of coffee and some ibrofen can do to remedy the situation.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Taper Week

Here we are, the last week  before my tri.  I can't believe it's already here.  In a few days, I will be getting in the car and driving to North Carolina for my first Olympic distance triathlon.

Last Thursday, my rented wetsuit from wetsuitrental.com came in, and I'm very impressed with price and quality.  I got a sleeveless wetsuit for the event.  I have never in my life worn a wetsuit.  In putting it on for the first time, I feel that I now have an intimate understanding of what a sausage must feel like.  I took it to the beach Sunday night, and with the help of a lot of Body Glide and Elton, got the suit on.  Once its on, it feels great, just the getting into it that's tough.  We went to the beach right before evening storms, so there weren't too many people there, and the temperature had cooled down a bit. Being in the water with the suit was a really strange sensation.  Once I got used to it though, I loved the buoyancy and the slightly unnatural ability to float so well.  It was also a beautiful evening, which helped a lot.

This past weekend also marked my last long run and ride before my tri.  I did six miles in Atlantic Beach on Saturday morning with Elton and another friend, and Sunday did 30 miles in Ponte Vedra Beach and Nocatee.  Both were tough, but satisfying, and helped solidify the feeling of readiness in anticipation of this weekend.  Only a couple more workouts before I'm on the road.

I will be using Elton's tri bag for the event, so I will be packing that up tonight.  Get excited!

Last week's training report: