Monday, July 16, 2007

Good Weekend Race Results for All

LifeTime Triathlon was last Saturday. The event was great fun, combined with some work, some sweat and some unusual occurrences.

Minneapolis has hosted the event for several years. The event includes both an Olympic distance and a Sprint distance tri. It attracts professional tri people, who are racing for big money (the winner received $120,000 this year) along with Elite athletes and several thousand other regular Janes and Joes like me.

I raced in the Olympic distance event: swim = 0.9 miles/bike = 24.8 miles/ run = 6.2 miles.

This was the third year I participated -- my second year doing the Olympic, or Oly, distance.

Last year, the event was held on the hottest day of the summer. The temps reached the high 90's by early morning, along with drenching humidity. The race officials shortened the course last year for the Oly distance. We swam 0.9, biked about 20 miles and ran a 5k (3.1 miles).

This year, the weather gods smiled kindly upon us, so there was no reason to shorten the course. The temps were in the low 60's in the morning and the dew point was very reasonable. The lake temp was low enough to make the event "wet suit legal", which was music to my ears.

I also got to participate as a Team Toyota sponsored athlete. There were nine of us in total on the Team. We all got to meet each other the day prior to the event at the event's Expo. Each of them were very nice people and it was fun to spend part of the day with them.

Last year, the lake temp was in the low 80's -- pretty much tepid bath water. Wet suits were not allowed. It took me one hour to cover the distance swim distance. (I obviously take my time during the swim. The distance is one reason. The "water over my head" is another reason.)

This year, I got out of the water in just over 50 minutes -- a 10 minute gain over last year. The buoyancy of the wet suit helped boost my confidence in ability handling the deep and choppy water. I still stopped more than I probably should have, but still had a good swim time.

I did have some cramping in my calves during the swim (unusual occurrence number one) and my goggles leaked a bit, but neither of those events were distressing enough for me to quit.

My transition was pretty smooth, although I had to stop at the porta-potty before hitting the bike course. That was unusual occurrence number two: the number of times I had to pee* during this event.

(* Runners who read this blog will know that we spend an enormous amount of time detailing our bathroom habits with each other. The "natural" topic ranks as one of our top 10 race day concerns... Non-running friends, I promise that that will be the last reference to it in this entry. Just know I had to go a lot.)

The bike course winds through the Parkway system and is beautiful. It was very windy on the course, which was sometimes helpful (tailwind) and other times, not so much (headwind). I also dropped my chain about 4 miles before the end, which was a big drag. Fortunately, I could fix this quickly, but I did lose some time.

Transition to run was easy and I felt pretty good going out. The course was two loops around the Lake. I kept an eye on my heart rate and just plugged along. It helped that Hubby was out on on the course way and I also saw my very good friends Dori, Marcia, Sarah and AmyK who all came out to watch the event.

I finished in 3:40:09.
Swim = 50:50 (3.23 min/100 yds)
T1 = 5:34 (the "P" factor...)
Bike = 1:35 (15.6 mph)
T2= 2:37
Run = 1:05 (10:31/mile)

Overall, sort of on the slow side, but DONE! And much better than last year, where my swim was a 4.03 min/100 yds, my bike was 14.9 mph and my run was 13.14/mile.

I also won my second-ever event award. Last year, I won 1st place for Athena's 40 - 49. (There was only one of us -- me).

This year, I came in 2nd in that category (of 3...but still SECOND!). Hubby got my stats breakdown after the event and it indicated that I won 2nd place. We were getting ready to leave and I looked at the awards board and saw my name in lights! That was (honestly) pretty cool.

My friends Marcia and Nat had their triathlon event the next day. They both participated in the Heart of the Lakes triathlon, located in a town about an hour outside of the Twin Cities.

I drove down to watch my friends and the event. The event was very well organized, had over 1,000 participants and the course looked interesting. It was a beautiful day to race.

Both of my friends were slated for later heats and came out of the water looking strong. Nat kicked some major butt during the bike event and finished with a very strong run. She took 10th place in her age category.

I didn't see Marcia during the bike portion, but did get to see her hammer towards the run finish, with her omnipresent smile stretching from ear to ear. She placed 6th in her bracket.

I really am lucky to run and train with such wonderful women, who inspire me on a daily basis. They don't know this, but many times while I'm out on a course and in a tough moment, I think of them and they help push me through every time.

Cheers to them.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's Tuesday, so this must be Portsmouth...

I flew out here at the crack of dawn today to deliver some training to some of my work colleagues here.

I love this town. I've been here four times and each time has been really wonderful.

Portsmouth is a very cute New England coastal town. The houses are great, the town square a wonderful place to walk, drink coffee and window shop. The harbour is fantastic...

I've done some great running here too. Tonight was no exception. I only went out for about 35 minutes, but I'm really supposed to be tapering. LifeTime Fitness triathlon is Saturday. I went out tonight to work through a few cobwebs, run off some calories from dinner and to try to relax a bit.

I have one more long swim tomorrow morning and then I'll really pull back on the training to try to shore up some energy and glycogen before Saturday.

Great thing about the web: when traveling for work, I can plug in the name of the town I'm visiting, the sport I want to do and voila! A list of places to "do my thing" pops up. I'll be swimming in the community pool -- should be good...

The swim is my biggest concern. I've struggled a bit during the last couple tri's during the swim and the LifeTime swim is significantly longer (0.9 miles as opposed to 0.3 miles).

Tomorrow, the goal is to swim a mile, just so I know I can do it.

One other little thing that I've forgotten to mention: I'm actually a sponsored athlete (!). Toyota's Engine of Change campaign is sponsoring 130 athletes of all ages and abilities from across the country this year.

I filled out an application and they picked me as one of 10 people to represent LifeTime. Kind of a cool thing. I get a uniform to race in, get to participate at the Expo and have a bio on the website.

I can also say that I'm a sponsored athlete and watch all those faster, younger, smugger runners look at me in absolute amazement. Not because they are in awe, but more because they can't figure it out!

Hurray for the older, slower athletes like me!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Tri, Tri again....

I participated in the Freedom Triathlon on the 4th of July.

Hubby was very wonderful support -- especially as he had to get up at the crack of dawn to come with me as my support person for the event. Package pickup was at 6:15 am, which meant we had to leave the house at 5:30 am.

The event was marked as a 0.3 swim/13.5 mile bike/ 3 mile run, but found out that it was badly mis-marked. It was not USTA sanctioned -- which explained alot:

The event was not very well organized. The transition area was not set up in to age groups for racking (bikes). This meant it was first come, first serve. The lanes were very narrow, so space was incredibly tight.

I ended up in an okay spot, but did have some problems during the transition from bike to run as other athletes who had finished the event were milling about in the transition area. I was obviously still racing, but these (guys) would not budge out of the way. Grrrr.

The swim was in Medicine Lake, which had recently been on the news because of historically low lake levels. We had to wade out pretty far to get to the start sight, which was an "in water" start in depths about thigh high.

I thought the swim went better at this event, but it took me longer to complete it -- 21:31. I did have to stop at each buoy to catch my breath -- I did not have an asthma issue this time around, but still get very hyper in the water, which causes me to breath badly and then my swim form gets lost.

Turns out the course was longer than 0.3 miles. The race director thinks it may have been just under 0.5 miles. That give me a little hope that I'll be able to handle the 0.9 miles for LifeTime.

The bike was 14 miles out in farm land. Very pretty -- somewhat hilly. Long, gradual increasing grade hills. I had a pretty good ride -- but again felt slow: 54:04 (15.5 mph).

The run was incredibly fast -- if it was truly 3 miles (not!). Turns out it was only about 2.5 to 2.75 miles. I came in at 23.31...-- still under 10 minutes per mile. HURRAY!

Finish time was 1:43:49, so 1:10 over my tri on June 30th.

I have just over a week until LifeTime. I've got enough time to get in a couple of long bike rides and to spend some serious time in the lake.

The rest of the holiday was great. Hubby and I golfed and then grilled steak. I've had the last couple of days off and have been able to get organized, see a couple of friends and other wise relax.

Summer sure is flying by -- but there is plenty of time to still have some fun.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

MinneMan MinneVictory

MinneMan Triathlon was yesterday.

This is the second year I've participated in the event. It's a great tri -- well organized, nice course, fun people.

The really good news is that I had a seven minute PR over my 2006 finish time, crossing the line at 1:42:29.

The not so good news is that my swim was horrible. Really horrible. Horribly horrible.

Last year it took me 13:58 to finish the swim portion. Now, it was also a weird year last year in that the weather was very dicey. It was grey and thundery, which caused the race to have a delayed start. The bad weather also screwed up the lane markers for the swim and the course was actually shorter than 0.3 miles.

This year, the weather was clear and the markers were in their appropriate spots.

The water was only 69 degrees, so wetsuits were allowed -- but the extra buoyancy provided by wearing mine sure didn't help me.

I was fine for a while -- getting my stride in, feeling okay, when all of a sudden I was having big problems breathing.

I have a touch of asthma, which has never been an issue while I've been swimming. Yesterday was the first time that my airways got pinched, breathing became difficult and I panicked.

Combine that with being in water over my head, my swim quickly became a problem. I rested a bit with a couple of guards; kept going forward. Got around the buoy, saw my next rest target, swam up to him and it was Dave , my swim coach.

Talk about feeling like a schmuck. I've been taking lessons from him; getting better and here I am, freaking out in the water, needing a break.

I was holding on to his floater, when someone yelled "help". The real kind of "help", not the wimpy kind of help I call out for. Dave turned, pulled the floater away from me and was gone in a flash.

I just swore under my breath and started paddling for shore.

I got out of the water in 18:54. A full 4:48 OVER last year. Bad news.

The GOOD news is that my bike and my run were good and really good respectively.

I biked the 13 miles in 47.29 (last year it was 52:38).

My run ROCKED. I ran the 3 miles in 29.38. Less than 10 minute miles AFTER the other two sports. Last year I ran the 3 miles in 37.04, so my time this year was significantly better.

My transition times this year were slightly longer than last year, but after all was said and done, I ended up with a respectable PR.

I have another tri on the 4th of July and then the big one -- LifeTime -- on July 14th.

I'm very concerned about my swim portion for LifeTime. Fortunately, I have about two weeks to get ready. But, the truth is that I have not been putting the time in the pool and this may come back to haunt me on July 14th.

I have a lot more updates to blog, but it is getting late, I'm very tired and will have to continue this tomorrow.