Wednesday, June 18, 2014

a 5K race report! Lockheed Martin 5k champion!

So I'm writing a 5K race report because (SPOILER ALERT!) I won! I have never won a 5k before so I thought it was pretty exciting.

It was the Lockheed Martin 5k benefitting Team RWB. Since Kevin actually works at their headquarters and we are both RWB'ers, it was a no-brainer.

My goal was to break 20 minutes, because I haven't ever done that before and it sounds fast.

I went out with the leaders and apparently employed the "FLY AND DIE" method of racing:

Mile 1: 6:20. HOLY CRAP! I didn't even know I could go that fast! I can barely run 800's on the track at 3:20 pace and when I do hit 3:20 it feels CRAZY FAST! This is either going to be very horrible...or SUPER AWESOME!

Mile 2: 7:20. Oops. Definitely in trouble. But I had passed the first woman during the first HOLD ON!!!

Mile 3: 7:03. JUST HOLD ON! I'm so stupid, why did I go out so fast?!

Total time: 21:30. Dammit, that is so not close to breaking 20 minutes! (It's actually a 6:56 average mile pace, even though I only broke a 7-minute mile on the first one...) And why couldn't I catch up to the guy wearing the Charlie Brown striped shirt and basketball shorts?!

But...I won! And it might even be a PR, because I run 5K's so rarely that I don't even know what my PR is. I'd like to think I broke 20 minutes once upon a time when I was a scrawny pre-pubescent high schooler, but I don't think that's the case because our cross country races were always weird distances from 2.2 miles to 2.95. And I got fat in college, so my two years of college XC 5K's were definitely over 22-23 minutes.

There were even 272 other women that ran and walked it, which is impressive because I thought only 30 people would show up. :)

Speaking of PR's, I won $50 to the Potomac River Running store (aka "PR") for winning the women's division! I didn't expect to win anything, so obviously I was VERY EXCITED.

Even more exciting, Kevin did his first 5k! I was proud of him even though we worried his old knee injuries from all those years of basketball would flare up. (They did. But he still has a big SMILE!)

Most exciting of all, Lockheed Martin gave Team RWB over $10,000! WOW! Thanks Lockheed!!

It was Flag Day too, so we were running the flags up and down the finish chute to anyone that wanted to cross the line with it!

And then our friend Kerry won a cooler on rolly wheels, which would be more exciting if she didn't have to wait for her baby to pop out to put it to good use.

It was the most exciting day ever!

Later that day I drove to Williamsburg to spectate the Rev3 race, and had the most exciting reunion with one of my old teamTBB friends. TO BE CONTINUED!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

2 miles forward, 1 mile back: marathon training update.

The day after Rock Hall heralded 18 WEEKS TO GO! until my first attempt at a fast standalone marathon. Ok, definitely not my first attempt at a marathon--that was during my sophomore year in college, when I started training for the L.A. marathon because I had signed up for my first Ironman (the now defunct IM California) and figured, you had to do a marathon before you did an Ironman, right?

The L.A. Marathon never happened because I was young and dumb and didn't know how to train and got all sorts of running injuries. (Foreshadowing??) My first marathon was actually during my first Ironman after all!

Now I'm not nearly as young (that was 13 years ago) and hopefully not nearly as dumb. Or am I? I've been getting my marathon run geek on and reading all about how to become a fast marathoner. Apparently it has a lot to do with increasing your weekly mileage. There's many that say the most fitness is gained once you hit 70-75 miles per week (aka "mpw" in runnerspeak). Apparently the next biggest gain is moving from the 70's into 100mpw territory. Whoa there. Like I've mentioned before (pre-race blog), I looked up my old training logs from the pro days and did find a single week when I ran 11.5 hours (80 miles or so), and there were a couple of 8.5-hour running weeks (60mpw). Mixed in with a crapload of swimming and biking, of course.

So I jumped right into the advanced plan from Hanson's Marathon Method. It's exactly 18 weeks (destiny!) and I split it up into 3 x 6-week manageable blocks. I'm aiming to hit 50-55 the first block, then 60-65 the next block, and 70-75 the third block.

Easy peasy, right? I figured I've been training 7-9 hours every week. That could translate to lots of running miles! I started the first week with a goal of 45 miles. Then I'd hit up the 10% rule and get myself up to at least 55 after 6 weeks. (I know there's controversy on the 10% rule, but hey, it forces me to not hail the 200% or 300% rule like I typically do.)

The first week went great! 46.8 miles! Of course I quickly realized that multiple days of running meant becoming best friends with the foam roller, compression socks, an ice pack, TP massage balls, and stretching for the first time since I was in high school and we did warm-ups following Westmoor Rams jumping jacks. Of course I was a little more sore than usual, and my old shin splints on the left leg complained more than usual.

Then after day 1 of week 2, my left plantar fascia was SUPER tight and complaining just standing in my work shoes. UH OH. Day 2, week 2, I benched myself and sat in the corner facing the wall while I thought about why I was in trouble.
  • First of all, I realized I had converted all of my training hours to running hours. Sooooo...with all my good intentions I had ended up hailing the 200% rule anyway. My 7-9 hours of triathlon training only had 3-4 hours of running. Which is 20-30 miles. Don't double your run mileage, stupid.
  • In my post mentioning the Hoka experimentation, well, yes, I have to admit I've been playing the "shoe game." I'm a biomechanics nerd who originally wanted to go into designing running shoes as a career (before I discovered how much cooler prosthetic legs are!) so of course I'm enamored with trying out different running shoes.
Love is finding someone who makes your size 10 feet look small.
  • I'm also a certified prosthetist AND orthotist. Which means I know how to manipulate the type of shoes and things inside my shoes to offload certain niggles I feel in my legs and feet. NOT always a good thing!
  • Meaning...I'd stepped down from a mild stability shoe to a neutral cushioned shoe recently and did fine on low running mileage. BUT...when the mileage bumped up and the shin flared a little, I had thrown in a pair of semi-rigid insoles into my neutral shoe for my last 3 runs. All of those runs were 7-10 miles. Instead of pain on the medial side of my leg (the shin splints), I had essentially transferred it over to lateral side of my foot (hence the cramping plantar fasciia).
Anyway, this is why I don't wear custom orthotics any more--being my own orthotist is dangerous business, and I was always making little adjustments here and there. These days, I stick to relying on the right type of shoe to manage biomechanical issues. Lesson learned, I got out of my corner and took a couple easy days, then switched back to a mild stability shoe. This will be a step-down week as the #1 priority for training block #1 is "increase mileage without injuries"! I've taken out the higher intensity workouts for the next couple weeks (tempo, speed, etc) and am just focusing on building up the mileage while staying healthy. Oh, except for the 5k I'm running tomorrow. ;)

Making an angry face after day 1, week 2 before
realizing my foot would become angry later that night.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

15 Years at Rock Hall International Triathlon

As we were driving home after this race, I realized it marked my 15th year of triathlon. Like I've mentioned before, I keep trying to quit triathlon, but ever since I was 18 years old in the summer of 2000, I've done at least one sprint triathlon (and up to 8 ironmans in 2010). I almost broke the streak last year, but snuck in that Half Full Olympic in October to keep the streak alive.

15 years, wow! I can't believe it's been that long!

It's been a week since the race and the official photos (with official watermarks) are up, so high time for a race report before I get all googly-eyed about marathon training! Friday night before the race, me and Kevin drove the 90 minutes up to Chestertown (15 miles from Rock Hall) to a crappy cheap hotel we booked last-minute on Priceline. Whatever you do, don't ever stay at the Driftwood Inn. It's a very sh*tty motel in a liquor store parking lot. Despite our reservation and the obvious "VACANCY" sign out front, the guy at the front desk was extremely rude and told us our reservation didn't exist, and that they were completely booked. SO...with all the local hotels sold out, we ended up driving another hour+ up to Delaware to Kevin's dad's house. Which was all really dumb, as the whole point of driving up the night before was so could get some extra sleep. Yup, didn't happen!

As far as expectations going into race morning, I expected to have a solid race but nothing really spunky. I've learned throughout these 15 years (and especially in the 2 years after stepping down from the pro ranks):

"Don't be upset by the results you didn't get with the work you didn't do."

So what can you expect from sitting on your butt most of winter and then cranking up the training for one month leading up to the race? Well, you saw my 5-week program. I did train every day, but had some substitutions here and there. I swam only once a week for 3 of those 5 weeks (twice a week for two weeks). Yup, 7 swims after over 6 months of no swimming! One outdoor bike per week, a couple on the trainer during the week, including some great Sufferfest sessions. And a 10k running race thrown in.

It's uncanny how well I predicted my splits--on race morning, I told Kevin "25 to 30 min swim" (25 being super optimistic, 30 being realistic), "1:10 on the bike, and about 45mins on the run. Definitely under 2.5 hours for the whole thing!"

The results: 30:00, 1:10:10, 45:22. For a total of 2:29:02. BOOM!

So after I had set up transition and was ready to head to the beach start, I realized I didn't have my timing chip on. I emptied everything out of my backpack and had to run from the timing people to registration to the timing people to get a new chip. Then went back to my backpack and found my original chip (with the black timing strap) velcroed to my black backpack. D'oh. Good adrenaline surge to start the day!

The water temp was 68*F and I was quite comfortable in my full-sleeve wetsuit. I had practiced in it at the pool a few days prior and found the arms restrictive and tiring, but felt good when the gun went off on race morning. Women 39 & Under started as the second wave, 4 minutes back. The rest of the women, 40+, would start 8 minutes later. As with all open water swims, I told myself to go hard but stay calm and sight the buoys. I've learned not to blindly follow other swimmers trying to catch a draft because they tend to either go off course of kick you in the face with a frog-kick when they try sighting. So I thought I was doing a good job, going from corner buoy to corner buoy with clear water. It was two laps and just the last leg going into the sun was hard to sight.

I thought I had gone way off course because I found myself tangled in a bunch of swimmers, but then I realized I had caught the previous wave. Went steady, steady, got yanked onto the dock at the swim finish, saw 30-something on my watch (I started it with 30 seconds to go) and thought "ok, just as I thought." I didn't realize it was such a bad swim until I looked at the results later. Oh well! I did my signature "must've been a long swim, move on" thought process and focused on the next leg.

T1: Without being told, Kevin ran alongside me to transition and was very cute saying "Your foot's not in your shoe yet!" as I jumped on my bike with the shoes already clipped in the pedals.


Onto the bike and again I went hard, but steady. I had opted not to wear my aero helmet the previous night, because I don't ever wear it except for racing, and find that I'm always fumbling with the straps and the visor/face shield thing. Well, and part of the bottom had broken off and I needed to glue it back together. Another thing I realized immediately is that I've lost my aggressive bike position. I had moved my handlebars all the way up with the three spacers underneath so that I could be comfortable for the 200+ Gulf Coast bike ride. Comfort over position! Too bad I should've picked the more aggressive position over comfort for the 40k bike ride at Rock Hall, as I was uncomfortably un-aero. I kept shifting around to try to get lower and felt like my seat was too low too. (FYI, all 3 spacers used to be above the bars when I had a much lower aggressive position.) I did swap my race wheels onto the bike, I think I could've done some more tweaking to get a more powerful and aero position.

I knew I was in trouble when some of the 40+ women caught me in the first 5 miles of the bike. OUCH. It was a touch uphill with some headwind going out on the first half of the course, so I knew I would make up some time going downhill with a tailwind heading back. I did a negative split/negative effort (or is it positive effort?) bike ride and was happy to keep catching people on the way back. Some of those Sufferfest videos must've worked (I WILL BEAT MY ASS TODAY TO KICK YOURS TOMORROW!) or else just my inherently Quadzilla legs, because there were times I felt I was going no where, then dropped two gears lower and just mashed past people effortlessly. I did channel some inspiration from my amputee patients that I've been working with, particularly my buddy Will and his bike racing leg we've been tweaking.

definitely not aero.

T2: Kevin was waiting for me at the end of the bike and in transition again. He just hollered at me to hurry up, hurry up! Especially when I waved and yelled "Love you!"

RUN: I ran out, focusing on turnover and going steady. Theme of the day: hard but steady. The run was two laps of 5k each. My first three mile splits were right around 7:20's and I chuckled to myself because I was confirming what I'd always known: my standalone run times aren't that much faster than my triathlon run splits. The second loop I told myself to run for those who couldn't, and again channeled some inspiration from some of the patients I work with, like Lisa, who are learning to run again.

During the first loop I could see which women were in front of me and saw I was running them down. There were a good number of them who (no surprise) swam much faster than me. I kept catching women to the end and was happy to make that last turn towards the finish. I ended up 15th overall out of 195 women, 2nd in my age group. Not bad! I was beat by an 18yo and a 56yo. BWAHAHA. Good work, ladies.


Overall, I feel like I did pretty awesome for only training for a month. Of course as an ex-pro, you are wired to go for the win and I haven't lost my habit of scoping out the previous year's race results. The pre-professional triathlete version of myself may have been happy with the result, but I think she would've trained more, and trained throughout winter. Or she would've skipped this race and been training for a half or full Ironman. In some ways, my old age grouper self (pre-TBB) seemed more hard-core than my current age grouper self.

I can't deny how badly I swam when I saw that I was 62nd woman out of the water (!!!) and then moved all the way up to 15th woman overall. OUCH. Swimming will always be the most challenging leg of the three, and obviously I lose a lot of swim fitness when I barely swim at all. My bike was okay; the fitness was decent but I think I could've cut some minutes off with a more aggressive bike position and maybe an aero helmet. And the run cracks me up as I said earlier, I don't think I run much slower off the bike than I do in a standalone 10k. (I was only a minute and 20 slower than the 10k I raced 2 weeks prior.) Which means I need get faster at standalone running, which is my current project. :)

This race also reiterates that I was never one of those inherently talented folks that could just enter a race and win it just like that. Every awesome result I had when I was a pro was from working my ass off day after day, for years. I guess it gives me a better appreciation for how fast I used to be, and how hard I used to work for it. One day I might get fired up to do more triathlon training, but in the meantime, I'm happy to do my one tri per year and do just enough to not totally embarrass myself.

What's next?

I originally signed up for this race on December 31 (before the price went up, of course). I had good intentions to train lots, get a slot to Nationals in August, and get top 18 in my age group to secure a spot to the ITU World Championships the next year, which would be in Chicago. Well, I could go to Nationals in August with this result, but I'm not feeling it. To be honest, I'm not particularly motivated to train enough in all three sports to not embarrass myself at Nationals. I remember the reason I migrated to the half and full ironmans--you can come out of the water 10 minutes behind and make it up on the bike and run. Closing that swim gap for the Olympic distance would mean a ton more swim training. Not feeling it!

My competitive fire is coming back though, and I'm channeling it all towards running now.

Finally, I'd like to thank my Kevin for being the most supportive guy and my biggest fan, my Team RWB family who make training together fun again, and the patients at work that inspire me every day. Y'all are awesome! And cheers to my 15th season as a triathlete!