Monday, June 25, 2007

35 Years Young

I'm 35 years old today! Life as a triathlete and masters swimmer is great for a 35 year old... it means: AGING UP!!! Stay tuned to see if it makes a difference in my results! Here's hoping anyway...

Went on another crazy, hilly ride on Saturday. It was SO windy we had to FIGHT to get down the hills. I was loving my aerobars. Climbing is feeling better each and every ride - I'm really starting to warm up to my two ring gearing... can't be more specific than that 'cause I don't know what the numbers are... but it's working for me and hills are no longer as PAINFUL as they once were. Here's the route and elevation profile in case you're wondering...

Train hard!

A Serious Question

So, is it just Vermont? Or in other parts of the world, when you ride a bike loop and manage to ride in every direction, North, South, East AND West, is the wind ALWAYS in your face, no matter which way you're riding?

Inquiring minds want to know...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bicycle MANIA!!!

Been riding a LOT since my calf pull is on the mend and I don't want to push its recovery by running on it. Friday night I rode for only an hour but it was basically 25 minutes of climbing, 5 minutes of screaming, white knuckled downhill, turn around, 25 more minutes of climbing (up a 13% grade - one of the steepest VT has to offer) and finishing off with 5 more minutes of sheer terror downhill. I hate to admit that I might need to replace my brake pads... I'm just not comfortable going over 40 mph, you know? Heh...

Last night we rode for about 1:40 over 21.2 miles... which averages out to about 12.7 mph. Which is kind of a disappointing speed... until you check out this elevation profile:

I'm finally strong enough that I can keep up a steady cadence during climbs - even with only two chain rings up front.

Progress is SWEET!

Train hard...

Friday, June 08, 2007

RACE REPORT-Mooseman Intl. Distance Tri

Race fans!! Sorry it's taken so long to post my report. You've waited this long, you can wait a little longer so before you read, head on over to GoSwim and watch the 5th and final Flip Turn Noodle Method Drill. Time to put it all together!!!


It was a great day at the races for me (Spence, aka TOMboy) and my fellow Team IronTom-ers. TOMomma and NewTOM (formerly known as Yet-To-Be-Named Tom) and I all toed the line and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and an excellent day of early season racing.

I had a bit of a fashion crisis on Friday night as I realized that I needed clothing that would fit under my wet suit if I didn't want to wear a swim suit. I tend to go with the NON-fitted race outfits so I was worried that what I had would be too bulky under the suit - which is a tad on the small side to begin with (still working that problem).

In the end, I settled on a brand new swimsuit as the only thing under my wetsuit and then I pulled on my Tri Geek Dreams Tri shorts and a sleeveless tank in T1... it worked out and I was comfortable. Fashion crisis averted... (although we really weren't sure what the weather was going to do and if it was going to be cold after swimming in 62˚F water, I wanted warm stuff for the bike... and I realized that I didn't have much in the way of warm race wear. In the end I decided on a few different mid-weight and silk weight capilene tees and threw them all in... and didn't need them after all...)

Met ToMomma at her place at 5 am sharp, we chatted with Mr. ToMomma and made sure he had directions to arrive later with Jr. (our cheering section), and then headed out. It was foggy but warm and beautiful out... a perfect race day.

The forecast was for hazy, hot and humid with a chance of thunderstorms so we were a little nervous we might be faced with a duathlon instead of a tri... run-bike-run is not my idea of fun, fishy that I've become. But the sun came out and no thunder bumpers appeared...

At registration, I realized that I had signed up as an Athena for this race. I've always qualified but never signed up in that category before and I was immediately sorry that I had... here's why. First, I was relegated to the last swim wave with first timers, and over 40s...don't get me wrong, the over 40s were/are fantastically fit and amazing... this was an early season olympic distance race which made the wave SMALL. Oy. I'm all about big waves.

Second drawback, since we were the last wave, we were WAAAAAAAAAAAAY at the back of a 700 person transition area. It was a long jog to the bike out/bike in... But, hey, I'm cool, I can deal, no problem. I'll just take it in stride. be calm. roll with the punches...

Until I got to my bike rack...and realized that the spot on the rack corresponding to my number placed my bike... in the middle of a 7 inch high by 20 inch diameter... STUMP. Nice. The joys of forested transition areas.

If you've been reading my blog, you know that my GREATEST fear in triathlon is being last. It's silly, I know. But my entire childhood was filled with disdain for all the kids that were ever last. I was almost NEVER one of them (probably because I was so afraid of being THE ONE) but I was typically in the last 5... and that was too close for comfort despite the fact that it gave me license to STILL pick on the kid that WAS last. Oh the humiliation and shame.

This battle in my head rages on at every race and it's something that I have to work hard to control - this feeling of panic and dread at the possibility of being last. In 5 years of racing, I've only been close to last ONCE in a tri (there were 3 people behind me)...and I ran a 5K that I tied for last in - with an 85 year old guy who was feeling pretty good about himself for crossing the line with a 30 year old... but that was my very first 5K ever...and there were only like 70 people in it... all gazelles...

So I tell myself over and over, "Run your own race. Don't compare yourself to others. It's FINE if you're last - you're still ahead of the other 95% of the world that're home sitting in their lazyboys..." Over and over... until I'm sure I'm convinced...

...until I realize that I'm starting in the LAST swim wave, racing from the BACK of transition, and there are only 14 other Athenas brave enough to enter as Athenas (because let's face it, most of us don't do it... I know there are many of you out there that weigh 150 lbs. with pure muscle) ...and well, my brain started to short circuit.

So I started unpacking my stuff, resigned that this was going to be a SUCKY race... when I realized I was on the end of the rack with extra space, that the stump really wasn't in my way, and that it just didn't matter what happened, I was going to race MY race and just get a feel for where I am at this point in the season. I wasn't going to let a few unexpected details ruin my day. Dammit, this is supposed to be FUN.

I squeaked into my wetsuit, pre-race announcements happened and we all headed down to the water. As soon as I put my toes in I was wishing I had sleeves. YEOW. I realize 62˚F isn't all that cold to some of you, esp. the Pacific Ocean swimmers... but dang, it was FREAKIN' cold for me. Even with two swim caps, it took a few minutes of "Oh-my-holy-god" before I was able to put my face in the water without gasping for breath. I took maybe two dozen strokes, got out, then did it again... and then stayed in hoping that was enough of a warmup. I was almost numb by that point. Thank goodness the air was warm.

Newie was the first of us to start in the 25-29 wave...then Momma went in the 35-39 wave (the one I would've been in) and then my wave with everyone that was left. I put myself toward the front of the small pack on the left edge for a counterclockwise course. And then we were off. It took a good 5 minutes or so to get used to the cold on my arms and face but then I got in a groove and just stayed there the whole time. I sighted well, swam pretty straight and before I knew it I was rounding the last buoy and had caught up to most of the wave in front of me and a few of the folks two waves ahead. Each wave was 4 mins. apart so that was encouraging. By the time I got out of the water, my doubts were gone and I was back on a positive mind track.

So the wetsuit strippers - yeah, no so much. Maybe I'll use them for the half ironman...but I wasn't feeling it for this race. I jogged to my bike (judging by the bikes around me, I was one of the first out of the water in my wave), got out of my wetsuit easily and got ready to cycle.

0.93mi./1.5K: 28:03
pace of 31:10/mi.
192/659 overall

T1: 4:47
(OK, yeah I took my time but have you ever biked 27.25 mi. and run 10K with hemlock needles in your socks? I didn't think so... PLUS I was WAAAAAAAY at the back, remember?... )

Downed a Gu packet just as I was heading out of T1 and jogged the LOOOOOOOOOOONG route to the other end of transition and the bike out.

The bike was pretty uneventful. The course was great, not too much traffic except for one part thru town where I nearly got clipped by a dump truck. It WAS pretty hilly. My goal was to keep a high cadence and avoid any and all mashing which I mostly achieved. Amelia has two chain rings in the front so mashing is unavoidable on certain hills but this was a hilly but fairly rolling course with only one tough climb. I did play leap frog with a friendly woman who would power by me in her baby third ring on the hills only to have me scream by her on the downhills and flats in my aerobars. We were laughing about it... she passed me on the last hill and I didn't see her again. She was 57 I think... claimed that it was "all the spinning" she does. Pretty cool. I want to be like her when I grow up.

One benefit to starting in the last swim wave is that not as many people pass you on the bike... AND, you know that you beat anyone that DOES pass you out of the water. Hey, I'll take any mental edge I can get. I did manage to pass quite a few people so that felt good... and I made a point to tell each one they were doing a good job as I passed. That always makes me feel better when someone does it for me...

I was pretty ready to get off the bike after 26 or so miles. It had gotten HOT and in retrospect, I could've used some more Gu around mile 24 - both for the bike and the set up for the run. Duly noted...

27.25 miles: 1:47:41
avg. pace: 15.2 mph (not so great but I knew this going in - gotta put more miles in!)
565/659 overall

T2: 2:43
(a little better but this time the run exit was right next to my bike so yeah, not much excuse...)

I grabbed a Gu packet and tucked it in my tri shorts... probably would've made sense to have it right then but there's not much sense to be made at this point in a race. The run started on the sandy beach which made me REALLY glad that a.) I'm not a cross country runner and b.) this was not an Exterra race. Guh... talk about hard!!! I just tried to concentrate on not rolling my ankle and then I was on asphalt again. Shouted to CE, our "team" photographer, that I was running by her as she was chatting with Newie's mom... and headed out for 6.2 mi.

All I could think at that point was, "How on EARTH could I run 13.2 miles right now? And that'll be after biking 56 miles!!!" It was HOT. I had a side stitch. It was HOT. The female race leaders were finishing just as I was heading OUT on the run... and did I say it was HOT? I really wasn't sure how I was going to get thru 6.2 miles. So I decided to eat some Gu and just get thru 1 mile... and work from there.

Then I pulled my left soleus (that VERY inside-the-leg calf muscle). It's an old injury. I know it as soon as it happens. And it just makes me MAD. But I plugged along.

It was an out and back course and in not very long, Newie passed me going the other way. She looked GREAT and had a smile even though she was pushing really hard... and was HOT. Mile 1 passed and the Gu still hadn't kicked in. You know that feeling when you just want to lie down on the side of the road? HOT. Saw Momma going back the other way, also looking strong, then Britta and then it was just me. I felt like I was going to be last so I just resigned myself to it. Whatever. I just wanted to finish.

Past the turn around I started to feel better. I settled in to a nice 12 min /mile pace and just stuck there - and in the end, I probably could've run that pace all day. The water stations had ice so I would put it in my hat and that cooled me off considerably. My calf was painful but I could adjust my gait just enough to compensate and keep moving. The best part about the turn around was that I could see JUST how many people really were behind me... and there were a lot.

I finally relaxed and decided there was NO WAY I was going to be last. Not as many people passed me on the run as usually do either. Who knows why... but it helped my mental game. At about the start of mile 6, Newie and Momma appeared walking toward me and fell in to run me the rest of the way in. Great pals, those girls. By that point, I was feeling MUCH better and finishing was sweet. But dang, it was HOT.

6.2 mi./10K: 1:15:13 / 12:07 pace
1st 5K: 37:09 / 11:59 pace
2nd 5K: 38:05 / 12:17 pace
601/659 overall

I was actually surprised that my second 5K was slower than the first because I felt so much better during the second half. I did walk the water stops on the way back so perhaps that accounts for it.

Final time: 3:38:25
10/14 Athenas (grrrrrrr, not too happy with that...)
204/273 women
549/659 overall

We jumped back in the cold lake, ate some post race food and headed home just as the rain started falling.

Overall I was happy with my race day. During the race, I didn't feel like I could've pushed a lot harder... but based on how this week has gone, I'm SURE that I didn't leave it all out there... I have not been sore really at all and apart from a few days of feeling tired and cranky, I've mostly felt GREAT. Had a really strong bike ride on Wednesday and two fairly strong swims this week... heading out for another ride today and feeling pretty fresh. My calf felt better on Sunday - I pretty much iced it all day long on Saturday after the race and that made a huge difference I'm sure. I'm not going to try running on it again until next week but it doesn't hurt to bike or swim so I'll do both.

I don't think I'm going to enter as an Athena again - mostly because it sounds like that puts you in the last swim wave at any race...and mentally that's not what I need. I'm glad that I was able to redirect my negative thoughts about it and rally for a positive race but I think the mental advantage of starting in an earlier swim wave will give me more of an edge than the advantage of competing in a different category. I'm glad to have the experience... I just don't want to do it again...

The best part about the whole day though - I think I'm ahead of where I was at the end of last summer fitness wise. And that's HUGE. Both mentally and physically. Looking forward to a long stretch with no racing to get in some real, quality training.

Next up is the Audrey Prouty Century Ride to benefit the Norris Cotton Cancer Center on July 14th... If you'd like to donate to my ride, there's still time - just click the link in my sidebar and give as much as you can! My goal is $1000 and I believe I'm still $300 or so short so every little bit counts!!

Stay strong, train hard, and be safe!!

OH, and if you want to see some pictures from race day, head over to TEAM IRON TOM.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Flip Step #4 and MOOSEMAN

Step #4 in the progression of the flip turn via the Noodle Method is posted today on GoSwim. We've already done some of the filming for Step #5 and I admit I'm gonna have to practice step #4 for awhile longer before I'm used as the "this is the RIGHT way to do it" film star. Stay tuned!

Heading over to Bristol, NH tomorrow morning bright and squirrelly for my first TRI of the season, the Mooseman International Distance Triathlon. This is my second venture into the land of the true OLY distance and I'm looking forward to it. TOMomma and I (now crowned "TOMboy") will set out at 5 am to meet EN (possibly the future TOMcat), with lots of support behind us from Team Iron Tom and our faithful swimming lane-mate, CAE. I have no time prediction or ambition...just gonna take this one as it comes, work out how the wetsuit operates and see how the nutrition and hydration plans are coming along. I do want to push hard and see how much I have in me. Feeling pretty confident about the swim (except for the 65˚F water) and the run... but the bike is a work in progress. Should be interesting!!!

Full report to come after the race... good luck to anyone else toe-ing the line this weekend and remember to train hard and be safe!!!

Tomboy, OUT!