Sunday, September 24, 2006

Last of the Long Runs...TCM one week away!

I did not run with my running buddies yesterday. It was a grey, cool and wet morning. I just wanted a morning to sleep in, catch up from a long week of travel and work and just "be".

Today was a much better day for my last long run of 10 miles before the marathon next week.

We finally have a nice sunny day here -- first time in about a week. The lakes were crowded, but not too terribly so. I ran to Lake Calhoun for my warm up and then did a 6 minute run/1 minute walk and covered all three lakes (Calhoun, Lake of the Isles and Lake Harriet). I covered the distance in 1:58:00, which is a very good time for me.

I know I should have been practicing either my marathon or Long Slow Distance pace, but the day was great and I felt pretty good.

I also got nabbed by a bit of competitiveness. When I was running the first half of Calhoun, I passed a woman who was speedwalking next to a guy that was running slow. I went from the first half of Calhoun over to Isles and closed that lake out, came back to finish Calhoun and then hopped over to Harriet.

I bumped in to that couple again. The woman was really kicking the speedwalking thing in to high gear and for whatever reason, I didn't feel like having my butt handed to me by a speedwalker. So I passed them.

Then it was one of my walk breaks and they passed me. When it was time for me to run again, I passed them and put a bit of distance between them and me. Walk break, they caught up and passed again, which REALLY bugged me. So I kicked up my pace.

She must have had her own competitive edge, because the next time they passed me, they were both running and at a pretty good clip.

And so it went, back and forth for about half of the lake.

With not much left to go, I finally decided "screw it" and kicked it out myself.

I passed the imaginary finish line way before they did. (And the crowd went WILD! LOL).

Now the hurry-up-and-wait starts till next week and the Marathon and then the trip to Europe.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Tick Tock...big fun coming in ONE week!

Long time, no post.

Our running club is winding down our training for Twin Cities Marathon, which happens in 9 days!!!

Last Saturday we ran sixteen miles as the "beginning of taper". Those miles really felt more like thirty-six. Typical start to the taper. We are tired, way over the whole training thing and now just waiting for the big event.

I feel pretty ready, although one never knows about race day. Could be good, could be not so good.

I haven't run since then. The weather here has been horrible -- unseasonably cold and very, very rainy. Fortunately, I had to go to a business meeting for a few days in Phoenix. I brought running clothes, but never got the chance to get out.

Tomorrow is our last long run before the event. We are scheduled to go 10 miles. The forecast is for rain and cold. Should surely make the run as fun as it possibly can. (Wonder how you can code HTML to indicate sarcasm....?)

The other really fun thing coming up is the trip Hubby and I will be taking to Europe! We leave on October 3rd and will travel to Amsterdam, Paris, Bern (Switzerland) and Florence.

My brother, sister-in-law and niece will also be in Florence for part of the time we'll be there. That will be fun spending time with them half the world away from where we usually get together.

It will be our first time in Europe and we are getting very excited about it. We have most of our arrangements made, have some tickets for museums already and are now just counting the days till we go.

I'm very excited but admittedly nervous about the whole flying thing. I don't like flying in general -- so the thought of sitting on a plane for over eight hours is just not particulars appealing.

I also don't like the idea of leaving our kitties for so long, but fortunately have some friends that will be living in our house while we are gone. It is nice to know that the cats will have company 24/7 while we are gone.

Lots to look forward to and lots to do before we go.

Makes life interesting, wouldn't you say?


Sunday, September 10, 2006

One last Tri (update) and 20 Miler Done!

The 'official' results for St. Croix Valley were FINALLY posted last week on Thursday. Took those folks forever to get them upload on the site. Then took me even longer to post this -- but at least there is a photo of me "charging" the finish line. (And, if you look closely to the left of me, you see two cheering women. Those are my good friends Angel and Carla both of whom are competing in Ironman Wisconsin as I write this. GO Angel and Carla!!!)

My swim was 13:56, with a T1 time of 2:45. I was well ahead of last years 2:07 swim time and 4:22 T1 time. (6:11 ahead on the swim; 2:37 ahead during T1, for a total of 8:48 ahead of 2005 results.

Then the "2-flat" meltdown. My bike time was recorded as 1:00:09. Last year it was 44:35. A whopping 15:36 over last year.

I'm guessing that the officials added all the time it took for me to get back in to the transition area after discovering Flat #1 and then trying to find someone with an airpump, filling the tire, getting back in and out of transition again in to my bike time.

T2 was faster this year (1:18 vs. 1:58 in 2005 (40 seconds ahead).

Run took me 32 SECONDS longer this year over last year (45:51 vs 45:19)

Total recorded time on the course for 2006 = 2:04:47
Time for 2005 = 1:56:19
"Official" difference of 8:28.


I know that, technically, the recorded time is the recorded time, but my "woulda/coulda/shoulda time" = 1:45:23 (if swim, T-times and run time were all as they were and IF my bike time had equaled 2005 time).

Sigh. Thus endth my 2006 Triathlon season.

All in all, I had a great season all the way from Tri-U-Mah in February until St. Croix Valley. I'm already excited to start training for 2007!

Speaking of training: I'm STILL training for Twin Cities Marathon. There is only about three weeks to go till race day and, thank heavens, we are just entering taper time.

I ran my last LONG run yesterday with my team. Marcia, Cheryl, Mary and I slogged along together for the entire 20 mile run.

We started at the State Capitol and followed the Marathon course back to mile 16, which runs along Minnehaha Parkway. That was our turnaround and we headed up the Marathon course again to the "finish". This is a great practice run because you can make mental notes of where certain spots are along the trail: "Okay, this is the distance from the Lake Street bridge to the Franklin Bridge -- lots longer that I thought". "Here is the spot that the big dreadful hill starts". "There are the portapotties".

We start out fresh for the first 10 miles and by the time we turn around to head back, we've got some of the mental/physical challenges created -- tired; sick of doing the walk/run thing; this is how the hill feels NOW, not 8 miles ago, etc.

Our little running group has really bonded over the training season. We were all keeping each other very motivated and on-task with our pace and our run/walk pace. It's been a blast running with them and really getting to know them.

After we were done with our run, the four of us had lunch at Cafe Latte -- a popular St. Paul restaurant. Food and conversation were both terrific.

Now we enter taper -- pull back on the miles a bit, rest, recover and get ready for October 1st. Fortunately, I've got lots to keep me occupied at work and at home.

Hubby and I leave for Europe on October 3rd. We're working on finalizing our plans. It will be both of our first times overseas. We are both very excited and I'm sure I'll cover more about our plans on the blog over the next couple of weeks.

Now, though, I think I'll go stretch my quads....

Monday, September 4, 2006

A Tale of Two Flats: Keep On Peddlin'

I'm still waiting for my official results for the St. Croix Valley Sprint triathlon. The event was held last Saturday -- and today is Monday.

The race coordinators split the St. Croix Valley events over two days: Sprint distance (0.3 mile swim/10 mile bike/4 mile run) happens on Saturday and the International distance (1.2 swim/ 24 mile bike/ 6 mile run) takes place on Sunday.

I thought that the results would be posted after the International event, but alas, I'm still waiting.

The event started off really well: I came out of the water in 13:38.

This was a 6.5 minute improvement over my swim time last year. It would appear that those lessons really paid off. Well, that and the fact that I didn't walk the entire swim. (The swim course is very shallow. I figured that out last year when I swam up to one of the support rafts to hold on for a minute and accidentally let my feet dangle below me and my toes hit the sandy bottom of the river. I looked up at the person on the raft and she said to me, "Oh yeah, you can touch the WHOLE WAY!".

With that information, what is any reasonable bad-swimmer to do? Walk!

This year, having that same information in my head, knowing I could touch if I needed too and armed with months of practice and lessons, I swam the majority of the course and when I needed a quick break, I just put my feet down and walked a step or two before paddling again.

I was so happy when I got out of the water so quickly, made my transition fast and hit the bike route.

That is when the "fun" started.

I got out about 4 blocks from the start and noticed that my bike was dragging. I looked down and could see that my rear tire was flat.

I had pumped up both tires before I left the house and why the tire was flat seemed to be a mystery.

I considered just going on with the flat, but the drag was really pulling me back. I also thought that, because the course is very hilly, riding the whole 10 miles with a flat would ruin the tire and be very tough.

I turned around, went back to the bike transition area and looked for someone with an air pump. None was to be had. I went over to the announcer and asked him to ask the crowd if anyone had an air pump. A very kind man, who apparently was the head cook for the luau that takes place for the "after party", had one in his truck, so he took me W......A......Y..... far away from the transition area, got his pump out and pumped up my tire.

I was very grateful but also dreading the precious seconds/minutes that were ticking away getting this little problem fixed.

He finished filling my tire and then I made it back to transition and out on to the course -- dead last.

Other bikers were coming back in to transition. A lovely, steady stream of bikers peddling their hearts out, looking over to me with that "Who is that poor schmuck?" look on their face. It was me, just trying to get through the course.

I thought about quitting a number of times -- especially during miles one through three. It just seemed like an insurmountable course and that I'd never be able to beat my course time from last year.

I kept peddling.

About mile 3.5, I saw some people ahead of me. VICTORY! Surely I could catch up with them and maybe even PASS them! I peddled on.

I did pass them -- and a few other stragglers. Hurrah! I gave it my all, pushing up those lovely but very steep hills to the turnaround at mile five.

They had a water stop there and I grabbed some water. In between gulps, I told the two volunteers that I had had a flat. One of them said to me, as he was staring down at my rear tire: "Are you going to fix it"?


I looked down and saw it -- a tire that was flat as a pancake. CRAP.

Now there is nothing I can do. The folks at the turnaround couldn't take me back. I was five miles to the bike finish -- if I walked it, it would take over an hour.

I just threw caution to the wind and peddled on. Fortunately, all that uphill on the way out becomes downhill on the way home, so I could coast a bit. The landscape in that part of Wisconsin is really beautiful, so I just tried to enjoy that and make my way home.

At one point around mile seven, I saw a deer poke out from the woods. I have seen deer a number of times out on runs or racecourses. I always take this as a good sign. The deer looked straight at me as I was coming down the hill toward it. It then just sauntered across the street and disappeared in to the woods on the other side of the course.

Thankfully, I got through the bike course and made a very quick transition out on to the run course. Most of the other participants were coming back in from the racecourse at this point. I still pointed my feet out and kept going. I felt pretty good during the run and even passed by a number of other runners.

I hadn't looked at my watch since I got out of the swim. I was too afraid that I'd get discouraged. With less than a mile to go, I thought I'd risk it and see what the damage was. Total time elapsed at that point was 1:58.

Last year, I finished the event at 1:56, so I was behind. But not THAT much behind considering all the bike troubles.

I finished the race pretty strong, clocking on my watch at about 2:04 -- so about eight minutes behind last year's time.

Hubby was there waiting for me, ready with his encouraging smile, a hug and an "attagirl". He also snapped some photos that I'll post when I have my official time.

We ate some pork sandwiches from the luau (dee-lish-si-ous at 10:00 am, let me tell you) and then started to pack up to go home.

I stopped by the Official's table to let them know that my times might look screwy. When I came in to transition to try to find an air pump, I crossed over the timing mat and had to cross it again after I got my tire pumped up and got out on to the course again. This means I crossed the bike transition four times (as opposed to two). They thanked me for letting them know and said that the impact would probably be that my splits would look a little "off".

I'm anxious to see what they look like and what my times for each leg really were. I know that my total time is what counts, but still want to see what the components were.

Any way, the lesson of the day was and continues to be: when life gives you a flat or two, just keep on peddlin'.