Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rev3 Florida Race Recap Part II

If you missed Part I, you can find it here.

T2 (4:07)

Ok, so this was really long. Why? Because Rev3 has those awesome individual spots for your bike and your stuff. They are awesome until one of your fellow competitors is in too much of a hurry to put their bike in the right spot, and consequently everyone else has to put their bikes in the wrong place. I was tired, and not looking forward to the run, and just sort of staring around trying to figure out where the hell to rack my bike. A volunteer spotted me and ran over, and helped me shuffle some things so I had a place to rack. I squeezed in through the other bikes there and pulled on my shoes and grabbed the Honey Waffle waiting for me - I was starving!

Run (2:49)

My longest half marathon ever. Mentally, I was just done. I was so beat down from the windy bike and was absolutely appalled that I had to run a full half marathon. I just didn't want to do it. So I walked. And walked. Not even fast, just a slow, grumbly stroll. The run was a two loop course, with aid stations about every 1.5 miles. I just didn't want to do it though. I couldn't fathom doing the whole distance. So I shuffled a few times, jogged a couple times, and mainly felt like I was on a death march. The bright spot was getting to see E and a couple times, as well as the amazing volunteers. The ones located at the turnaround point were wonderful, sporting Halloween costumes and funky hats, and telling us about their wares like old school baseball game barkers ("Salt tabs! Gatoraide! Ice cold water! Get'em while they last!"). They were a nice bit of sunshine in my struggle.

Soon after starting on the run, I ate my waffle, downed a couple tylenol, and after realizing that I was positively coated in salt, a couple Endurolytes. I just wanted to feel like me - you know, the person who absolutely adores running. I duitifully kept to my nutrition plan of PowerBar gels every 30-35 minutes, and took water and Pepsi at most aid stations.
Yay, I'm done. Please take off my chip.

By lap two, I was ready to be done so I pushed myself to pick up the pace. My stride started to feel a little more normal, and I just kept setting goals for myself, like run from this orange cone to that one.

And finally, I finished, in 6:21. I know had I fought my mental barriers in the half marathon better, I would definitely have finished more quickly.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this was a great race. I really love the job that Rev3 does. Their events make everyone feel like family, and it's always a good time.

As far as the 70.3 distance goes...I'm not sure. I'm not in love with it. My original instinct is that I'm cut out for the Olympic distance, and that was my feeling when I finished.

I feel a little conflicted that with the swim cancellation, I didn't really get to cross this distance off my bucket list. So we'll see. At this point in time, no more 70.3s on the agenda, just Olympics and hopefully more Rev3 races next year.

Next on the list is the Jax Bank Marathon in mid-December. 

Oh yes, and we celebrated with a delicious post-race dinner. My choice? An Amberbock, fried shrimp and french fries.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rev3Tri Florida Race Recap Part I

My first 70.3 was like everything and nothing that I expected! Since this race report is rather long, I've broken it up into two parts. Here is part the first!

Race Morning

By Saturday night, it was still up in the air as to whether we would swim, as at the athlete meeting Saturday afternoon, Rev3 told us they would keep us posted and make the final call at 5:30 a.m. race morning as to whether we could swim. Looking out at the churning Gulf, I was torn; I wanted to swim of course, but the surf was a little intense.

The alarm went off Sunday morning, and E and I were immediately checking social media to see if a call had been made on the swim. At 5:30 a.m. on the dot, Rev3 tweeted and Facebooked that the swim was cancelled, and that the race would feature a time trial start instead. While a lot of people griped about missing the swim, it was the smartest call they could make. It just wouldn't have been safe for folks out there.

Rev3 gives you temporary tattoos with your number instead of doing body marking with a marker like most races (which also eliminates a step once you get there in the morning). I also applied sunscreen. Tips for anyone gearing up for their first 70.3: Just because your tri top never rides up, don't assume that it will stay in place during the race. By that I mean, take a minute to perhaps make sure that you apply sunscreen to your lower back and make sure that you get most of your upper back. Because most of my pain in the couple days following the race is from the horrific sunburn I endured and less from any lingering muscle pain.

Because of this, the race started later than originally planned. It was decided that the pros would do a 1.5 mile run to start, and afterward, the Age Groupers would do a time trial start, in numerical order. We could wear socks and sunglasses, but otherwise had to act like we were going into T1.

I set up T1 like normal. Nutrition: Aero bottle with a nuun tab (mmm....lemon tea!), bottle of Hammer Perpetuem, and a PowerBar gel just in case. Otherwise, all the normal things were there. Rev3 has these nice individual boxes/racks for your bike and transition area, so no mat needed, and things stay neat.

T1 (1:43)

It was when everyone got in line that I realized by waiting until the last minute to sign up, I had put myself 1) at the back of the back (481 out of about 486) and also with all the guys. The line moved pretty quickly, but I knew I was at a disadvantage for the day if I went slow time-wise; there wouldn't be a lot of folks behind me. 

Overall, I was in and out relatively quickly.

Bike (3:28)

We had studied the course map the night before, and figured out where the worst of the wind would be. This turned out to be about miles 25 through 56. Yay. So the first 25 miles were awesome; an easy cruise with the wind at my back, with wonderful views of the Gulf, and big, shady oak trees overhead. It was lovely and peaceful.

Then, at mile 25, a left hand turn went directly into the wind. The next 31 miles were mostly headwind and crosswinds, 20 mile per hour wind speed with gusts up to 40 miles per hour. Doing most of my training on A1A has prepared me to ride in the wind. But not like this. Oh my god. It was ridiculous.

I made a point to stay on my nutrition, taking a swig of Perpetuem every 15-20 minutes. Overall, I haven't been a huge fan of having a liquid nutrition. I don't like not having exact amounts doled out in increments, like you would with a gel for example. However, I trained with this, and it does work. If I ever do a longer distance again, I'll probably do gels. For anything shorter, I would likely do Hammer Heed, which I like a lot. The other thing is that Perpetuem spoils after many hours, and that always worries me, though it's never been an issue.

But anyways. I drank my nuun-laced water, and felt pretty good. Aid stations were located at miles 15, 30 and 45, though I didn't take advantage until mile 45, when I grabbed a water bottle (first time ever doing that on the bike! Super proud of myself for not spazzing out and falling). 

By around mile 35, my legs were starting to ache. The problem with being in such a strong, sustained headwind is that it made it really difficult to tell what kind of effort you were putting out. It also made it difficult to tell how much I was sweating. It was on the cooler side out, but the sun was strong.

The course was overall really nice. Police and volunteers were everywhere, and the volunteers in particular were amazing. I never felt alone on the course, even when I couldn't see other riders, because there was always a volunteer, or even members of the local community, out there cheering me on.

I stayed pretty strong mentally against the wind. The only bad part was at about mile 54 when I knew I was almost done, and realized that there was a medium-sized bridge to be conquered. I can't tell you the number of nasty things I was saying to that bridge in my head. I was swearing a blue streak. It was just the very last thing I wanted to see at the moment! But it wasn't a large bridge, my legs were just tired and I was over the wind. I was rewarded on the other side with newly paved roads as smooth as butter.

Stay tuned for Part II!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Rev3 Florida 70.3 Eve

I'm now less than 24 hours until my first 70.3

We arrived yesterday afternoon, and went straight to packet pickup/check in/expo. The expo opened at 3 p.m., so we were one of the first ones to arrive, which was kind of nice, because there were no lines and no waiting. I love coming to Rev3 races; there is always such a sense of community, and it's great to see Charlie and Eric and the whole Rev3 family.

We checked in and I got my athlete wrist band, which will be my companion until after the race tomorrow, or until I decide to take it off. :)

Rev3 also does number temporary tattoos instead of body marking, which is something that I really like, so I look forward to putting those on in the morning. Our race swag included the Rev3 Florida HeadSweats visor, really nice Rev3-branded Blue Seventy goggles (with case!), some random coupons, Powerbar samples and a Muscle Milk sling bag.

We wandered around the expo a little bit, and then went to get the bikes. My drive train has been a little twitchy lately, and since I didn't have time to take it to my local bike shop before heading down, I wanted the race mechanic to take a look. Sure enough, I needed some adjustments, and they also pointed out that I have been riding with a chain that's a smidge too long for my bike, which is why my chain drops all the time. Looks like it's time for a replacement, which I'm due for anyway.

We hung out a little long while E got race wheels put on. He's renting the Reynolds 81s, and they are pretty sweet looking race wheels.

Waiting to get my picture taken for my finish line photo
Today we took a short swim in the hotel pool, then went for an equally short bike and run. The scary thing about today, and most definitely the race tomorrow, is the wind. The wind today is holding steady at about 20 mph, with gusts up to 30. If the race was today, there would be no swim. As it is, the practice swim scheduled for this morning was cancelled, as the water was way too rough. The forecast is calling for a drop in wind speeds tomorrow, but a rough surf is still in the works. We'll find out in the morning if they'll have to cancel the swim. As it is, I'm almost hoping they do, because the swim is against the current and the water looks incredibly rough, even by northeast Florida standards.

So wish me luck. The next time you hear from me, I'll have had my first 70.3 race experience!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Training...or not

Originally when I thought about where I would be when entering the two week countdown to my first 70.3, it was not here.

I've barely done any swimming, biking or running in the last couple weeks. I mean really, barely any. It's like I decided to start tapering a month early. My diet's been ok, so I'm not worried about that. It's mostly the lack of sheer volume.

I feel like all I want to do is run. Thanks the last few years, this time of year screams MARATHON TRAINING. But I'm having a lot of pain in my left shin - to the point that I'm a little concerned that my normal, aggravating shin splints may have gotten rather worse than normal.

I've totally lacked motivation to get in the pool or on the bike. I was under the weather this past weekend, so I didn't get in a long ride, opting instead for a race-distance swim in the pool. That went well at least, but I'm really worried about being underprepared.

In the last month, I've done race distance (or very close to it) in each discipline, and done well, but I'm worried about putting all three together. Between a lot of various stress in life right now, this feels like another.

I'm excited about the race. Despite the past month (ok, and the one before that was kind of spotty) this race has been on my mind and been a main focus since May. I'm ready to do it, I just don't know for future if a training period that lasts so long is good for me, mentally.

I've struggled with the training - I've resented it, I've conquered it, I've lived it, breathed it, loved it and felt immensely strong with it. But it feels like a long summer.

11 days left. I'm ready to go out and conquer. I'm excited to do my first Rev3 event. But I'm ready to run, bike and swim again when I want to, rather than when I have to, or even just for shorter distances.

So I'm just sitting here trying to be present with my training. Or lack thereof. Trying to focus on knowing that I have a lot of fitness under my belt. Trying to remember that I have put in a lot of work for this, and I'm going to do great, and that adrenaline alone is going to carry me through a lot of the big day.

But it's still a little breathtaking to know it's so close.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Marine Corp 1/2 Marathon Race Report

Looking at the race and training calendar a few weeks back, we realized that the Marine Corp 1/2 fell at a great time, a few weeks out from the 70.3, to get a sense of running fitness, and to have a good, hard training day.

I went into this race with zero expectations (my only goal was to finish under 2.5 hours). I had never done this course before, I knew there were a couple bridges in it that tend to aggravate my shin splints, and I never actually looked at the course map. I just had a vague sense of the neighborhoods it went through.

So, needless to say, this wasn't something I was freaking out about. Race morning I got up, ate a bowl of cereal (I'm currently addicted to Post's new Honey, Oats & Seeds cereal), took a few hits off my morning Red Bull, and we were off. We were running a few minutes late, but arrived and found parking in plenty of time.

I took a powerbar gel right before, tuned my iPod to my old fallback "workout playlist" (it was too early to listen to my normal NPR) and I was ready to go.

This race, in a word, ROCKED.

In many instances, I don't think enough about my race before hand. Or more accurately, I don't think about it strategically enough. This race, that all changed. I started out, realized that I felt really good, and decided to have a great race.

I was moving pretty comfortably for the first 6.5-7 miles at around a 10:30 pace. I felt good there, so decided that I would maintain somewhere in that neighborhood for the first half, then increase my speed for the return route (it was an out and back). There were two bridges on the way out, and I speedwalked those, so I knew I needed to make up that speed somewhere. The route back was along the river, rather than over the bridges, so there was only a big ramp over the Riverwalk. I knew I would need to speedwalk that too (stupid shins) so again, I would need to pick up that time I was losing somewhere.

After the turn around, I picked up the pace and maintained 8:30-9 pace up until about mile 12. I couldn't even believe it was me running. I'm never that fast, and that fast comfortably no less! I was working, but I was able to maintain that pace without blowing up. I took a gel around every 45 minutes or so, took a quick swig of water at each break.

The last mile, I definitely lost some time. We rounded the corner off the Riverwalk that would take us along a stretch of road before the finish line in a local waterfront park. Longest. Stretch. Ever. Seriously - you could see almost all of the runners trying to figure out where the turn was, and that realization of "oh my god, that's sooooo far away." So, this probably would have been a PR, minus the horrible, terrible last mile or so.

I finished in 2:17, and I'm really happy with that. It's the hardest I've worked, the most strategic I have been in my race plan and my best 1/2 that wasn't flat and fast. I was pretty destroyed when I finished, but man, it was so worth it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Confidence boosting 50 mile rides

My training lately has been sporadic at best. Between work, traveling, injuries and other things, I haven't exactly been logging the hours that I should, given that my first 70.3 is only 27 days away. That's right - 27 days.

So I've been a little anxious about my overall stamina and fitness, to put it mildly.

I did a run/walk on Saturday in the form of the Color Me Rad 5k. It was my friend Liz's first ever 5k, so I stuck with her, and we had a good time. For those unfamilar, this is a 5k where you wear all white and get pelted with colored cornstarch. Random, but fun. As I mentioned in my last post, we ran as Team Nerd Herd!

And then Sunday came and with it, my first long bike ride in almost a month (eeek!). So my goal for the day was to do 50 miles at a comfortable pace - sort of like the swim I did in the Hammerhead Olympic. Not pushing super hard, but just going at a good effort that I can keep up for a while.

And I did it! I averaged 16.5 and did the ride in 2:53. I'm super happy with that. I finished feeling good, and like I could run. Granted, I was pretty wiped out by the time we made it home, which makes me think perhaps I need a little more nutrition on the bike. It made me feel a lot better about my upcoming race, and made me feel like I'll be able to accomplish it. 

Coming up this weekend I am running the Marine Corp Half Marathon, to get a read on where my run fitness is, though that is the area I have the most confidence in.

Onward and upward. I can't believe it's under 30 days until the race!