Friday, July 24, 2015

MCM 2015 Training - Week #4... and #5... and #6... and #7

So, I fell a bit behind on my weekly training reports. Since this weekend is the end of Week #7, I thought I'd just give a brief overview for the previous 3 weeks of training.

I swam.

I biked.

I ran.

I raced. Twice. (You read those race reports already!)

All of it has gone well, overall. I am nursing some tightness in my left shoulder/arm that I think developed in my attempts to increase my swimming speed without paying good attention to stretching said muscles. It doesn't hurt and I only notice it now and then, and not at all while I'm swimming, biking, or running. It's weird. But I am being more diligent about stretching and rolling the muscles in my shoulders and back. Now that I'm out of triathlon mode and only using swimming for cross-training, I can cut back on my distance and intensity or cut it out altogether and let my shoulder rest if need be.

It has been challenging to get the training in with the schedules my daughters have this summer. Lots of dancing and lots of working - and they don't drive yet. I'm so glad that I didn't try for a Half Ironman this year! And it's been so humid this summer that training hasn't been pleasant. But it's all worth it for those fall marathons!

This is a cut back week of sorts (Week #7) and then I start into the double-digit long runs next week! I am actually very, very excited! It seems like everyone else has been in the double-digits for awhile and I'd been getting a little nervous. But I'm going to trust my training plan.

MCM2015 is THREE MONTHS from tomorrow!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Race Report: Chopped Oak Sprint Triathlon

Today was my last triathlon of this season. It's time to focus on my fall marathons, but I'm so glad I was able to compete in 2 sprint triathlons this season. I am so pleased with my performance in each triathlon and I'm very glad I did them! I'm especially glad that I got to share today's triathlon with my friend, BJ!

She and I met at the crazy hour of 5:30 AM at the gas station! The plan was to caravan the 70 miles to the race start. But to my surprise, BJ had her bike rack on the back of her car (and her own bike inside her car) and offered to drive us both up there together! Since I have driven 1400 miles in the last 2 weeks (now do you see why I haven't posted? LOL), I was thrilled to be relieved of driving duties. And the time always passes by so quickly when you're catching up with a friend! The hardest part about this year has been missing my long rides with my friends and all the talking that we would do along the way! I truly, truly miss the hours and hours on the bike with my buddies! 

We arrived with plenty of time to get set up and check out the area. This Sprint triathlon was held in conjunction with a Super Sprint and some Kid triathlons but it was a small turnout so we could set up wherever we wanted. We picked up our race numbers and got our bodies marked. I set up transition next to BJ right outside the door where we would leave the pool. I think our transition area was in the perfect location! 

Mike (on the right) enjoyed seeing his buddy, BJs nameless bike. Mike is envious of the new aero bars that his friend has now!
We checked out the race course as best we could. This company is small and their races are laid-back. That's not a bad thing at all! And this is my 3rd triathlon with this company and they are improving each and every time! We took our obligatory pre-race selfie and then went inside. 

The pool was an 8 lane, 25 yard pool, which explains the fact that the Sprint swim was 400 yards when the Super Sprint was 250 yards. The lanes were wide and the water felt good. This entire facility was top-notch! I was impressed since it wasn't a YMCA but is owned by Habersham County! 

Swim 500 yards - 9:49 (2:27/100 yards avg)
Since this was a pool swim, we lined up in order of anticipated swim time. This is especially important because a swimmer takes off when the previous swimmer makes it to the end of the lane. If everyone is honest about their time, then nobody bumps into each other. But not everyone is honest about their time - they either under or over estimate and then it gets a little dicey. And in this pool, we had to go from left to right which is pretty much opposite of how most pools work. So we would go down a lane on the left side, turn around and come back the same lane on the left side, and then at the end of that lane you duck under the rope and go down the left of the next lane! I saw one collision when a person was swimming on the right side. I'm sure she was just falling into the pattern of how she normally swims in her home pool. She was OK, and kept on swimming! 

As for me, my swim went very well. I had timed a practice swim last week in the pool near the dance studio which is set up in yards. I did one set pushing very hard and finished in 9:30, then I did a second set taking it very easy and finished in 10:30. So I estimated my time as 10:00. I finished in 9:49 according to my Garmin and that was pretty close, I think! And, I actually passed someone in the last lap! That probably wasn't very nice, but I didn't want to hang behind him. I hope it didn't ruin his day. 

T1 - 2:26
I was determined not to sit down this time. And I didn't! I did dry off my feet a little because we had run through grass and I didn't want to have grass in my shoes. Transition was a small area so I didn't have too far to run. 

Bike 16.59 miles - 1:03:41 (15.6 mph avg)
This bike route was a double loop. When I took off on my first loop, the officer wasn't yet directing the traffic so I had to pretty much stop coming out of the aquatic center grounds. That was annoying. We were on a 2 lane highway with a 55 mph speed limit, which made me nervous but the traffic wasn't heavy and the cars were, for the most part, careful. The course was small rolling hills which was good considering we were close to the mountains. In fact, when we made the one and only turn I could see the beautiful mountains in the distance. I didn't get to enjoy them for long because the turn-around point was at the bottom of the hill. Yes, turning around at the bottom of a hill to go back up said hill. That was the only part of the course that I did not like at all. When I got back to the aquatic center, I was directed to turn around in the parking lot and head back out for my 2nd lap. I definitely didn't feel as strong on the 2nd lap but my cycling has been lacking recently so I wasn't surprised. And I probably went out a little too fast on the 1st lap. But that's the beauty of a sprint - you can screw up and it won't ruin your race! I have to check but I think my average speed may be close to a record in a race! 

T2 - 1:13
I was going to rock this transition. Kept it simple! Shoes off, shoes on, grab visor and bottle of Nuun and take off! 

Run 2.04 miles (supposed to be 5K) - 19:59 (9:49/mile avg)
This route was also a double loop, and a little bit different from the loop the Super Sprint had to do. I'm not exactly sure what happened but it was nowhere close to the 3.1 miles we were supposed to do. I'm not sure if the volunteers were calling out wrong directions for us or what exactly happened, but I did what I was told to do and ran the same distance as everyone else. My only complaint was that I was pacing myself for a 5K, and if I had known it was going to be so short I would have adjusted accordingly! LOL In the end, it's really OK. I felt strong. I had fun. That's all that matters! 

Overall time - 1:37:09 (Garmin)

Since it was such a small race, BJ and I decided to wait around for the awards. I figured we would each pick up an age group award. Well, imagine my surprise when BJ's name is called for 1st place OVERALL Master's female and my name is called for 2nd place OVERALL Master's female! That was such a shock and very unexpected! What a way to end my triathlon season for 2015! And apparently I qualified for the Five Star triathlon championships in October, but it's the same weekend as my 20 miler for MCM so I will have to miss it! I guess this means I will have to qualify again next year then! ;) 

In my cute race shirt and sporting my 2nd place OVERALL Master's female award! I couldn't be more thrilled! 
Overall, I would recommend this race but I do hope they are able to figure out what happened on the run course and get that straightened out! Five Star NTP is a small company and I'm not sure they are triathletes so they may not understand the importance of these small details. But they are nice folks and they are constantly working to improve - this year there are even chip timers for the triathlons and I know that had to be an expensive investment! I like supporting small race companies as long as they are working to improve the experience for their athletes. So for this race, they need to fix the run mileage for the Sprint and make sure there is more/better food post race. Not a deal breaker for me as I always bring my own food since I'm so picky! LOL I will keep this race on my radar for next season!

This seems to be a pretty busy weekend for races. If you've raced this weekend, please comment and share your race report! I love reading other people's stories!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Race Report: Peachtree Road Race 2015

After 3 years away from the largest 10K in the world that happens right in my own backyard, I decided that 2015 was the year I had to join pretty much everyone I know and take part in this Atlanta tradition!

The fun started yesterday when I had to go to the Expo to pick up my race bib. My husband had to day off so he joined me. He has taken up running to help with his high blood pressure, and he is the kind of runner who needs a race to train for to keep him motivated. We decided to join the Atlanta Track Club at the Expo because they offered a special deal where you paid the fee, but got the rest of this year and all of next year - and that includes the guaranteed slots for 2016's Peachtree Road Race plus a shirt for each member! We also purchased member hats while we were there because they look cool! I had wanted to buy a singlet to wear in the race today but they were sold out of my size.

After picking up my bib and joining the ATC, we did a little shopping, tried some samples, and picked up a couple of coupon codes for races I've been looking at entering! It was so much fun and I'm very glad I went. I was able to pick up some of my nutrition/hydration supplies at a discount and they gave me free water bottles, which is cool. Because you can never have enough water bottles!

Last night I took my girls to our local fireworks show and got home around 10:30. I still had no idea what I was going to wear to the race. I wouldn't make that decision until this morning! So strange for me. I couldn't do a Flat Runner picture! LOL

I ended up getting about 4 hours of sleep, but I woke up with my alarm. It was a comedy of errors this morning. My kitties demand to be fed at the first sign of 'awake' from me (only me @@) so I tried to feed them but ended up spilling kitty kibble all over the bathroom floor. They will not eat off the floor, so I grabbed the broom and swept it up. Then I checked the weather app to find out that it was raining hard and would be for most of the race. That helped me decide upon the Nuu Muu dress with Sparkle Shorts underneath and my Moms Run This Town visor to keep the rain out of my eyes. I knew I needed to wear Injinji toe socks today instead of my new favorite Thorlos just to avoid blisters from toes rubbing together. I would also want to pack a change of clothes and towels in the car for when I got back. And I needed my Tri Slide. Couldn't find it. And I needed a poncho. Couldn't find it. So it's 4:45 in the morning and I'm trying to quietly hunt down stuff that is always exactly where it always is, except on the one day that I need it. Finally, I found the Tri Slide in my pool bag (huh??) and I found a non-Disney but still not a cheap ponco and decided to make it work. By the time I was pulling out of the driveway it was about 15-20 minutes later than I wanted.

When we went to the Expo the day before, we parked at the Marta station nearest to my husband's work. I usually park at the one at the end of the line, but it's kind of harder to get to. Since I was running late, I decided to go ahead and go to the one near hubby's work in case the parking lot was full. I figured I could park at his office and then walk to the station. I need not have worried. The lots were basically empty! The rain had stopped so I was able to apply the Tri Slide in all the strategic places. And then I took the obligatory Pre Race Selfie.

Selfie in the dark!
I walked up to the station, and started on the escalator when I heard a train pulling in! I ran up the escalator and onto the train. A lady laughed at me and hollered, "The race hasn't started yet!" :) The train was mostly empty so I was able to sit down! Woohoo! Got off at the Lenox station and located the place where the MRTT picture was to be taken. I set off to find a porta-potty and didn't have to wait in line for that, either. But while I was inside the potty, I heard the rain begin. Hard. I got out and put on my poncho and went to see how far away was my corral for my wave.

Wave E - my highest wave ever for PRR!
The rain continued and I found my crew of volunteers huddling at the LA Fitness building, so I joined them. I ended up missing the MRTT picture due to not wanting to get out in the rain. Had I known it was going to rain the entire race anyway, I think I would have gone back for the picture! LOL Oh, well!

The rain did clear out around 7 AM so I went in search of another potty. I was standing in line when a lady stopped and said that there was a whole row of bathrooms around the corner with no line. I was pleasantly shocked!

Incredible! No line for 60K people??
I went back to my previous spot to wait for my friend, J, to text that she had arrived. I figured I may as well sit down as much as I could!

You can see the start line - where the flag is - from my spot!

I was sitting right behind this guy - LOVE his tattoo! 

I stood up to start loosening up and by the time I finished I received the text from J that she had arrived. I went to find her in the corral but thankfully she found me - thanks to my red braid! :) The time in the corral went by really quickly. I ditched my poncho because it was too hot to run with and too bulky to carry. (I really could have used it after the race, though. But who could have known!?) Soon we were at the start line and heading down Peachtree Street!

J and I hadn't planned ahead of time to run together, but we had talked about doing some training runs together as she will be with me for both of my Maniac Qualifier marathons this fall! I have been training to run the first 2 miles (instead of doing the run/walk intervals) when the course is most crowded so I'm stopping to walk in such crazy conditions. So J and I started talking and running, and running and talking, and enjoying the drizzle and rain and all that is the Peachtree Road Race.

We were almost to Mile 2 when J mentioned that if this is my "slow training pace" then she wouldn't be running with me at the marathon - I don't have current pace showing on my watch so I had to wait for the Mile 2 split to come on. Since I don't have my glasses on me, I could only vaguely make out that it said 8:XX. I said, "Does that say 8??" LOL Yeah, I'm going to have to practice not being so into the talking and experience that I forget about my pace. We slowed down a bit and I started with the walk intervals. I had neglected to turn the alerts on for them at the start, so I had to keep watching for them which is annoying. Still we were keeping a pace right around 10 minute miles, even with the walk breaks and even going up Cardiac Hill! But it didn't feel like a challenge, I assume due to the cooling rain that was pouring on us.

We did see lightning one time on the course and I think that was around mile 3 or 4. I wasn't sure if they would make us get off the course. I was hoping they wouldn't! I was enjoy my race and feeling strong! I don't have any pictures on the course - not even a selfie with J and the other friends of hers that were in our corral! The rain stopped me from pics on the course and the selfie just slipped my mind.

When the last mile hit, we stopped the walk breaks and just ran it in. That last part of the race from where the photographers are located until the finish line feels SO long! I had forgotten about that! It made me laugh this time! The whole race went so well - I was really pleased! I'm not sure if it was due to the rain/cool temperatures or if I'm just a stronger athlete since the last time I did this race in 2011. Whatever the reason, I had an absolute blast! And running with J made it feel like it was absolutely no time at all - I was constantly shocked when it was time for another walk break! The miles flew by!

Check this out - a course PR with a sub 1 hour 10K! I missed a distance PR by only 45 seconds or so! And I wasn't even trying!
We got to Piedmont Park and got our shirts, which are absolutely adorable - and incredibly huge! I ordered a small and wanted to trade for an XS but wasn't allowed to do so.

It was still really raining after we finished, so we headed over to the ATC's private party area. I had access to this area because I joined at the expo. I almost didn't pick up the wrist band because I thought it was just going to be a beer tent. But there was food and drink and, most importantly, shelter from the rain with real bathrooms! It was fabulous!

J and I were waiting for her friend to finish so they could ride home together. She was in a later wave, and some of the waves starting with M had to be held up at the start due to the lightning we had seen earlier. We were pretty sure she was on her way when I got a text from BJ saying that she was finished and was I still there. So I got to see BJ today, too! YAY! She was waiting in the ATC member area with us while her husband finished up his race.

I was really, really hoping there would be a break in the rain before I had to make the 1.3 mile walk back to the Marta station. I was freezing and drenched to the bone, but I didn't want to put on my dry PRR shirt because I wanted to wear it when I got home! Yeah, I'm crazy that way! I realized that there would be no break in the rain anytime soon - and J's friend finished, and BJ's husband finished - so I decided to start making my way to Marta.

The walk actually wasn't terrible and if it had been a typically hot and sunny day it would have been very nice to walk this tree-lined street. But I was just cold, so I tried to keep a fairly brisk pace. When I got to Marta, I hit the porta potties one more time (it sucks getting old LOL) and then headed down to the train. Yet again, as I was going down the stairs my train pulled up and I walked right on AND actually got a seat! How lucky was I today?!?

Got back to the Marta station and got out my towels and change of clothes and discreetly (I hope) changed clothes in the back of my car. There are no bathrooms at the Marta stations, that I'm aware of. I made the drive home and immediately jumped in the hot shower and just stood there. It helped a little but not too much. I put on my PRR shirt, sweat pants, and warm, fuzzy socks and I have been in them all day long!

My 2015 PRR shirt/dress! 
I am so glad I decided to give the Peachtree another try! I had a wonderful experience from the beginning to the end, even with the heavy rain. I'm very excited to be an Atlanta Track Club member now and I look forward to running in the Peachtree with my husband next year! (Or running and waiting for him at the end! hee hee)