Monday, May 26, 2008

PR, baby!

Well, this morning was momentous indeed.

Not only was it Memorial Day, but it was also the first time my husband has ever run a 5K with me. Or a 5K, period. It was incredibly memorable, for sure.

We were up at the crack of dawn, zip tying our chips to our shoe laces and figuring out what to wear on this rather chilly SoCal morning. We got to the race site 1/2 hour before the start of the 1/2 Marathon, and spent the next twenty minutes in line at the port-o-lets. I saw a few of my teammates in line, but never saw our halfers. (I felt like such a lazy girl doing the 5K, but who am I kidding? I've never run more than 7 miles in my life-- why would I start in a race?!)

Before long, we were in line. I told my hubby that I hope he wouldn't be offended, but I was going to run my own race and see him at the finish line. No problem from him! He was trying his MP3 player for the first time while running (hey, everyone else was doing it, and he has it on pretty low so he can hear people talking), so he was happy to just chill out and do his thing, which happens to be some random run/walk combination that he's been messing with for months. Hubby is very tall and covers more ground vertically than'd think the tall lanky body would reveal a fast runner, but he's actually got some form issues going on that keeps him pretty slow. (One day I'll fix it!)

We ended up in the middle of the pack, and that was a little annoying because I had to weave my way through hundreds of people within the first quarter mile. But I suppose it could be worse-- today was a chip start, so until we crossed the mats I wasn't worried about traffic.

The course itself was a lot of fun. We meandered through a retirement community, and all the adorable residents were outside in their driveways waving to us. I wanted to raise my hands up and say "woohoo!" for the first mile -- I just felt phenomenal and was enjoying the race. But then I looked down at my Garmin, and I did the first mile in 8:05. Oh, crap. I'm a 9:30-minute miler here. I've never run that fast before. I once did a 7:30 mile, but that was a track workout and I threw up afterward.

Anyway, I tried to slow down, but I settled into a comfortable pace that was under 9 minutes and I stayed there the whole race. What a shocker! The 2nd mile ended in an incline of ~75 feet and it crept into the 3rd mile, but then it was a 100 ft. downhill for the last 1/2 mile. (It was a point-to-point race, not out and back) Although I hate the downhills for my knees, I am not afraid to kick it into high gear for the race and just pounded that last hill, sprinting into the finish with all I had. When I looked down at my Garmin after finishing the race, I was floored. I broke 26 minutes!!! Now, this is slow for the vast majority of the population, but it was a major breakthrough for me. My last 5K was 28 minutes, and in my last sprint, 29:45. So I was praying I could break 28, but given my lack of training in the past 2 months, wasn't sure I was capable. So dropping over 2 minutes from my PR is huge, and I am still beaming about it.

I even finished with enough time to grab a water bottle, down an orange slice, and then find a spot on the hill to cheer hubby on when he made his way to the finish. He even finished have no idea how proud I was. He sprinted in and ate that finish line up--- it brought such a huge smile to my face because I know it meant a lot to him and I think now he understands why I do all of this.

We hung out and then cheered my coach on as she came in from the 1/2......even saw the lady that smoked her while wearing Crocs. Oh yes, it was great fun.

So, PRs for two of us today. Popped hubby's 5K cherry, and whetted his appetite for even more. Wonder if I can get him to learn to swim now so we can do a tri together?!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ode to the Shoe Nerd

Well, we all have our people we turn to in times of crisis. You may have a McTherapist like me, who finds ways to heal you and get you to the starting line of your next race. Or perhaps you have a favorite butcher at the grocery store who cuts your ham slices "just so." Others may have a girl at the bookstore who always recommends the best reads for your next airplane ride.

I have the Shoe Nerd.

Now, I haven't been particularly nice to him in the past. He is a bit of a low talker, with not-so-stylish hair and a nerdy look about him. He is an expert in all things shoes, from materials to the way your feet sit in shoes. He eats, breathes, sleeps shoes and feet, something I really cannot appreciate because I hate feet. But I digress. The Shoe Nerd knows all, and he is the clutch dude when you are having problems with your legs and there is no other explanation but the shoes.
At the start of the season, I went to the Shoe Nerd to see if I was in the right shoe. I'm a Mizuno follower out of familiarity, but was willing to go through all the testing to see if I was wearing the right shoe. In the end, he sold me on the Asics Gel Kinsei, which I promptly returned to the store after finding the heel to be absolutely intolerable. His other recommended shoes just didn't seem comfortable to me, and I was so pissed about the Kinseis that I basically refused to listen to him and then told him I would buy the new version of my old shoe, the Wave Inspire. So I buy the Mizunos, happy that I trumped the Shoe Nerd and went with a stability shoe.

4 months and 130 miles later (i know, pathetic, but let's not go there), I have had more runner's knee issues, a hip flexor strain, and achilles tendonitis. Insanity! I've resorted to many McTherapist visits, and I've taken to resistance training at the gym. So with no other recourse but to stop running, I decided to go to the Shoe Nerd once more, except this time I was going to actually follow his advice.

Saturday, I went to the shoe store and the Shoe Nerd was there to help me. He was looking all smug, like somehow he remembered me and he knew that I would be back. I ran on the treadmill for him, and he commented on how much he liked my "forefoot strike" and my quick turnover as I nonchalantly hit "6" on the treadmill. He then examined my foot, practically drooling over my "beautiful high arches." (yeah, yeah--- I have sexy feet. But why am I creeped out?!) Then he informs me that I have way more shoes to choose from this time, and out comes the onslaught of Nikes, Brooks, Mizunos, New Balance, and Zoots. The Zoots were just for fun. He wanted to know if I wanted to have some shoe fun. Why not? So I guess I have one foot that is perfect, and one that slightly underpronates. I have to get a shoe with lots of cushioning to protect the knees. I loved the Zoots, but I felt like I was running barefoot and this body of mine needs a wee bit more cushioning. I also loved the Mizunos I tried on, but decided to swap brands and try something new.

So I ended up choosing the New Balance.....some long 4-digit number in my least favorite color.....and I also allowed him to talk me into the inserts, to support my sexy high arches. I think the Shoe Nerd loved that I said, "I will do whatever you tell me to do, just make sure it helps get rid of my pain." He must not get many women telling him to do whatever he wants with them.

2 days later, I am happy to report that every time I step into my new New Balances, I have a footgasm! The Shoe Nerd was on to first brick resulted in NO PAIN at all on the run. None!! The shoes are like buttah.

And for as creepy as the Shoe Nerd is, I have to admit, he does good feet....and he can do mine whenever he wants from here on out. Shoe nerd, I not only salute you.....I submit to you!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dam Sprint Race Report

or, Kicking it Old School

Well, today I went back to my roots. After this insane focus on doing the Olympic distance, I returned to 2 oldies but goodies: the Sprint, and last year's uniform.

And it was good to be back! Now that I've done an Olympic, I have no shame in saying, "I'm doing the Sprint." When you do Olympic, you get to go fast, but you have to play your cards right. In the Sprint, you just hammer it out. I prefer to keep it simple.

I went to packet pickup yesterday with my husband, which was nice because I had a chance to scope out the site and see where everything was going to take place. It was also an hour and ten minutes away, so driving it the day before took away a lot of my early morning anxiety. As far as races go, this one was quite small. I'm not going to venture a guess, but it was smaller than Bonelli and quite intimate.....but not in a bad way.

I left the house at 4:30am and was at the race site by 5:30am. Hit the potties, then went and set up my bike in transition. I had PLENTY of time, as the pre-race meeting wasn't until 6:30am, and I didn't have anybody there with me to distract me. I got an end, but it wasn't on the highly-trafficked side. It was a gamble, but in the end I'm not sure it added more than a few seconds of an impact...and in a race this small, a few seconds is no big deal.

I knew *1* person there. Just one. But that was fine, because I wan't as stressed as I could have been. I will admit, as I walked down to the water and pulled my wetsuit up, I was starting to think I was the world's biggest idiot for doing this alone. I mean, I really hate the pre-race. I psych myself out and convince myself that I am not worthy of towing the line. I lose my competitive drive. I just want to go home and go back to bed.

But before I knew it, we were waste deep in the shockingly warm (as in, imagine 50 people standing in one place before the race goes off and you tell ME why it was that warm) Lake and awaiting the gun. It was supposed to be a 750 meter loop, but we started 9 minutes after the first group and the leader of that pack (who was a good 100 meters ahead of everyone else) had yet to reach the turnaround point....... I suspected at this point that the course was a little long, and I still think it was, but we'll never really know. Anyway, off we went.

Despite the co-ed wading start, it wasn't too killer out there at the start. But unfortunately, it was super choppy on the Lake, and it seemed that I could not shake any purple caps for quite some time. (Purple was for women-folk and "everyone else," red was for "men 45 to eternity"....yeah, how fabulous is it going to be to get old?!) For the first time in 7 open water triathlons, I had a bit of a panic attack out there. I'd heard a lot of people talk about them, but thankfully I'd never been plagued and I always blew it off. But 100 meters into my swim, I was convinced that it was too choppy and that I was not a good enough swimmer to stay on course. I fought these insane mental demons that were telling me I was weak....that I was scared.... I mean, come on-- I'm in a freaking Lake!! What was going on? It wasn't even a heart rate issue. I just think for a few moments, I went totally nuts. Thankfully, I was able to pull it together and continue on. It helped that some of the men in my heat were floating around and commenting on what a hellatious swim it was....that made me feel like I wasn't in my own personal hell. I will say that this felt like my weakest and slowest swim ever, but I will wait until I see the splits to determine that.

I emerged from the water completely alone, with no women in sight. We had a very long run to transition, up the rough beach and then through a long grass lawn. They'd tied it all off with tape, so it was easy to find.....but I was tired! I remembered my Las Vegas run to T1 and decided that this time, I was going to catch my breath and try to recover. So, I walked. Just a little bit, but enough to not feel like I was going to pass out when I got to my cycling shoes. I had sand all over my feet, so I had to pour some water over them before putting on my socks....a first for me, as I usually just go for it and screw comfort. But today was a glorified practice for me, so I made sure I took my sweet time.

Was out of transition as quickly as I could and then headed onto the bike. This is where I saw my first woman, on her fancy, gorgeous, pimped-out Cervelo tri bike. This would also be the last time I saw said woman. We took off and my measly 20mph could not catch her. Ouch! The bike was mostly flat, with a small hill at the start to get us out of the Lake area. I was tired climbing this hill, so clearly my weakness is in coming out of the swim and onto the bike. Must train this more. Anyways, going down this hill was a blast. I even exceeded the 35 mph speed limit!!! And then I started picking off the dudes on their hybrid bikes. Bless them, they were trying so hard. Anyways, I got passed by boat loads of men with disc wheels and fancy tri bikes and goober helmets. More than I can count, I am sure.... I did my best to try to push an average of 18mph the entire time, but I wasn't sure how to pace myself. I've been training for 24 miles, not 12! So I think I left a little on the table in the bike, but not much....the final hill chewed me up and spit me out. I had to abandon the big ring and then join the painfully slow process up 400 feet in a mile. Which doesn't sound like much, but after pushing big gears for 9 miles, your dead legs are NOT in the mood for climbing. But with every climb is a downhill, and for good measure I threw it back into the biggie and finished the bike segment with a rockin' downhill.

T2 was not so bad for me, but I did take the time to grab my Garmin off my bike because my trusty old race watch was not working anymore. I grabbed my hat, watch, water bottle, and number and bolted out over the mat. I looked like a bag lady crossing that line, I am sure, but why put it on in T2 when you can get dressed later?!

The run was an odd one for me. Typically, I get out of T2 and I am thrashed. I absolutely HAVE to walk, or I convince myself to stay running for 5 minutes and THEN I die. Today, my legs had life. Even though I couldn't feel my feet (it was cold), I felt strangely strong and had no need to actually stop. This didn't stop my brain from trying to play with me, though. So today I decided to try out positive mental affirmations. I wasn't feeling like experimenting with nutrition, or clipped-in shoes on the bike, or new equipment.....I needed to work on my mind games. I had done a 5K time trial a few days earlier and knew for certain that I had the stamina to power through it without walking and to maintain a fairly strong pace. So I used that knowledge to fight back whenever I felt like walking. I passed the only girl out on course who had passed me (on the bike), and I buried her! Me, passing a runner...who would have thought the day would come?

The turnaround came and went, and I had only seen a very small handful of women coming back in to the finish. I was confused, but they were running so fast that I was convinced they had to have been in the front of the pack. As I made my way back to the finish, I started to see other women out there. I wanted to yell at them and ask them why they were hiding for the entire race!! We were few and far between out there, for sure. The finish chute was lovely....just enough of a runway that you could sprint and NOT vomit at the end because it was too long. I told the guy ahead of me to hurry because I was going to close fast, and we both high-tailed it in to the finish.

Overall, I felt pretty good. Disappointed in my swim, a little upset that my bike was so slow, but psyched about the run. I have never had a run where I didn't feel stomach cramps or feel like I wanted to die. This run was as good as it gets for me, and I had plenty left in my legs at the end. (Could have gone even faster, maybe?)

The real kicker of the day was that because there were so few women, yours truly was 1st in her age group and the 5th girl across the line!!! Now, I have no idea how many of us womenfolk there were, but there were only 2 in my age group so the victory wasn't that sweet. Regardless, I will take it. If for nothing else than the shock factor.

And of course, I attribute all of my happy thoughts to the day to my old uniform. It hides the belly pudge and carries good chi. :)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Just for Kicks

Tomorrow is my "freebie" race, the DAM Sprint, somewhere in the middle of the desert in a somewhat sketch artificial lake. I don't believe I'll "know" anybody there, and I'm not too upset about that. There's something a bit exciting about driving alone in the dark and throwing down a race without any distractions or expectations or any of that fun stuff. I'm just going to set up shop, listen to some tunes while I'm all bundled up waiting for the swim start, and then "git 'er done."

I'm not so nervous about this one, nor am I excited? I don't know....just another workout and hopefully a cool t-shirt that says "DAM Sprint." Been there, done that.

I've had quite a stressful week at work. So much uncertainty, bouts of inactivity, interspersed with random hysteria. So much so that I called my boss this morning and told him I just couldn't handle coming in to work today. My head isn't in the game, and I swear I will bite someone's head off if I show up. I just need a day off!!!

We're headed to packet pickup now, and then back home to pack the car and have a nice romantic, easy on the stomach dinner.

Will give a race report when I get back tomorrow. Fingers crossed the Achilles holds up. (But so far so good-- ran a PR 5K yesterday by accident, and it was no worse for wear)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Bringing Lazy Back

I feel a slight ping of panic just thinking about my training plan for this week. It was sparse to begin with, but it certainly wasn't helped by the fact that I abandoned my workout last night. Intending to do an hour on the trainer whilst watching ABC TV's Bachelor from last Monday, I only got 20 minutes in and the smell of burning rubber overwhelmed the room. Now, I love my tires, and I love my bike, so leaving half of my tire on the trainer's resistance unit was NOT acceptable to me. I had sunlight left in the day, but what did I do? I hopped off the bike and watched the rest of the episode from my computer chair. How LAZY am I? (and does the hand belong to Chelsea or Shayne?!)

It's killing me.

My Achilles is strained, but McTherapist doesn't think it's torn or anything serious, for the matter. Never mind the fact that I walk around like a slut after dark in high heels around my house....nope, it's not that major. Nothing a little iontophoresis can't fix, he says. He worked me on Thursday, too. Kicked my rear with all the toe lifts and calf presses and such. My ankle is still sore, but the Achilles? Well, I'll be damned, but it may be getting better.

With the freebie race next weekend, I am hoping I at least have a sprint base leftover.......hopefully this weekend I'll do a nice brick with the team and start to feel strong again.

I'm serious about my diet this time around. I'm going to go back over to my old blog and journal my points, and I am going to get this extra weight off. I know, I know....I keep saying I will, but then I get hungry when I get home and I eat. OK, it's not even that. It's work. They eat like pigs and I've become accustomed to taking just a little. And then I go out to eat and I've forgotten all that I learned while on program and fall into the trap of eating more points than I intended to. Like, Red Robin on Thursday night. I ordered my teriyaki chicken burger, sans fries, tomato, mayo, with the teriyaki on the side. So, basically, it was a plain bun with white chicken breast, a slice of cheese, and grilled pineapple. I took half the cheese off when I got it, too. Guess the calories? 800!!!! For that. I mean, what the hell are they doing to the chicken? I was floored. Here I was, desecrating my favorite sandwich on Earth, only to find out that it wasn't worth it. I could have gone home and eaten 20 English muffins for that sandwich. Argh. So, the plan of attack is to write it all down again. Journal, journal, journal, and only plan to fuel for my workouts. I need good thoughts for this-- I feel like I've lost some control here.

Work sucks, too. I used to be mission critical, and now I find that I am not. You lose your sense of self-importance and security when you are no longer "in the clutch." So that has me frustrated.

Hubby hates his work life, too, but my Dad recently offered him a chance to interview with his airline. Hubby turned him down. I know, what gives?!! But he's all about doing it on his terms now, so I am forced to sit back and let him do it. It's made for quite a strain, as you can tell. Some days I love him and others I hate him. I suppose that is normal. Could just be PMS. But I'm in the hating mode right now, mostly because he slammed the door and woke me up this morning. (Yeah, I have to get dressed in the dark every flippin morning with your sorry ass still in bed, so KISS IT-- I'm sleepin' in)

To top this all off, my morning coffee ritual at work has been severely interrupted this week. I find the break room to be a peaceful place for me, where I grab my cup every morning and deal with my lovely caffeine-induced headaches. But this week, we tried out coffee vendors for our new office. This total AHOLE came this week, and I swear, he never left. He wanted to be our own private barista. With a coffee machine. Self-serve coffee machine. I couldn't even stand to look at the man, let alone allow him to press a button on the coffee machine for me. I'm an independent woman, and I cannot tolerate his sorry attempts at service! So I told him my cardiologist said no coffee.....and then begged my admin to slip into the room and get me a cup. This went on for several days. One morning I had to wait until 10am for coffee--- I just about murdered the entire office. Argh!! Can you not see why work sucks for me? (I am joking here....but only somewhat)

So back to triathlon..... My race on Saturday. I'm going totally alone, sans family or friends. I'm going to have to get up at the ass crack of dawn and drive to early packet pickup, and then hope and pray it doesn't get too hot. I've heard some horrible things about the Lake I'll be swimming in, so it's tempting to spray myself in Lysol before I put my wetsuit on and maybe start antibiotics. :) But I figure nothing could be worse than the Long Beach Tri swim last year, so I'll take my chances with the manky man-made lake. Part of me is excited to do something without my tri team next weekend. There's always pressure to perform, but here, I can totally suck and nobody will care. I can show up, get it done, and then go home and go back to sleep with little fanfare. Hopefully, it'll be a great workout and I will learn to bring a little speed back into my life. Who knows? So even though I'm skeptical, part of me is jazzed. We shall see.

With that, I suppose I will cease the torture. I didn't mean for this to become a personal life vent, but I've got to have some outlet here! So apologies for the bad read......but at least *I* feel better. Ha!