Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer of Fun: Mid Season Recap

I am not really sure how this happened, but it is July 22nd.  More than half the summer is over but it has been jam packed full of fun and adventure.

I  really wanted this year's race season to be relatively easy and not full of pressure.

 My plan has been to do some new races and events and to  revisit some old favorites that I haven't done for a while.

So far, so good.  It has been nice to pull back a bit on training intensity this year and to work on resting and rehabbing my hip a bit.  I've also made some new tri and running friends, which is always a plus.
There are still lots of races to come this season, with my "A" race being Ironman Arizona 70.3 on October 18th.  The big unknown is whether or not I'll do another Ironman in 2016.   I'll be volunteering at Madison in September and at Arizona in November.  Madison pulls at me like the Sirens.  Realistically, Arizona may be a more "friendly" venue for me at this point.   Lots of time to decide if either one is reasonable.  If not, I may have found some other really wonderful activities to fill my time, my interest and my future summers.

Here is a recap of my season so far:

Minnetonka 1/2 marathon:  An oldie but a goodie.  I had done this race many times, many years ago, when it was known as the Wells Fargo 1/2.  It was always a fun race, even though, with the sheer number of speedy runners, I was generally at the back of the pack within the first 1/4 mile of the race.   I wanted to do this one this year as it was one of the events that the tri team i've been doing some training with was also doing.  I was NOT ready for a 1/2 by the time I wanted to register, so I enlisted the help of my good friend Gary to run the race as a rely team.  I had to run the first half and he got to finish it up.  All in all, a good day.

Esprit de She Duathlon:  My first new event for the year and my third duathlon ever.  It turned out to be very enjoyable, despite cold, windy and rainy weather.  The course distances of a 2 mile run/11 mile bike/2 mile run were very do-able for an early season start.  The field was all women, and plenty of newbies.  Both the pre and post race events were pretty fun too.  This event will be on my list for 2016. 

Buffalo Sprint:  Summer kicked off with an old favorite.  Buffalo was the first outdoor tri I ever did, way back in 2005.  I love the venue, the field is friendly and it is always a lot of fun. With the early June race date, the lake temps can be cold, but we lucked out this year.  The water temperature was very pleasant.  I had forgotten that the bike course had some hills, but still and all, very pretty course.  The run course was changed due to construction.  Instead of a fairly flat out and back, we had some hills.  Of all the disciplines, I'm most disappointed with my running this year.  When my hip and psoas flare up, I have a hard time with my gait, so I end up sort of plodding.  My left stride is fine, my right stride gets clunky, but clunky is better than sitting on the couch, so... it's all good.

Hillfest:  Ahhh, Hillfest.  I have a love/hate relationship with Hillfest.  it is a great event; well organized; good course options, really good training opportunity to practice climbs and descents.  However, when they say Hillfest, the operative word is HILL.  This event reminded me that I was NOT training for Iornman Wisconsin.  My rides up to this point had been mostly on the flats, so some of the climbs were a rude awakening for me.  The day started with rain, which is not a great combination with hills.  Wet pavement makes it hard for me to feel too comfortable to be ride more aggressively on the downhills and is also a little tricky on the uphills.  (Right or wrong, I get nervous about my wheel slipping out from underneath me).  I guess some of my concern may have been warranted.  My brakes were not reacting or gripping normally.  I stopped at one of the rest stops to have a mechanic look at them.  The very nice man told me that my brake pads were basically nonexistent.  I decided that I had had enough and was not going to temp the Brakes Gods, so I took the sag wagon back to transition with a couple of other guys, who also had also decided to call it a day.

Grandma's 1/2 marathon:  I went back to my roots with this one.  This was my 6th G'mas event (3 marathons and two prior 1/2 marathons).  More recently, I've opted out of this one to run Fargo.  Both events are really well organized, and Fargo can be a little more pocketbook friendly, but for whatever reason, I really wanted to go back to Duluth this year.  I applied for the lottery and miraculously got in.  I'm so very glad I did.  I had forgotten how really beautiful the course is and how fun the people of Duluth make the event.  Race day was another rainy one, but it wasn't so bad as to make the run uncomfortable.  I ran the race with no expectations for a finish time, but rather just to have fun and take it in.  I ran a nice and even run/walk rhythm and even my hip held up until right after Lemondrop Hill (about mile 10).  After that, I just shuffled along (literally) until I hit the finish line.

HER Madison 5K:  The timing for this event was perfect.  I had planned to be in Madison to do a little riding on the Ironman course when this new event popped up on the calendar, so I had the opportunity to run too.  The race also hosted a 1/2 marathon, but I was really only interested in doing the 5K.  As its name suggested, it was another women-only event, and for an inaugural event, they drew pretty good numbers for both races.   The 5K course was surprisingly hilly (and how they managed to have more UP than DOWN, is a mystery to me...) but I managed to pull off my first race in a very long time with a running pace in the 10s.  This may not sound like a big deal to the average person, but to me,  with my pacing struggles since this hip thing started last year, it was a welcome, welcome gift.   Great medal; lots of really good and useful swag too.

Timberman Oly:  Another annual favorite of mine.  I really love this race. It has a small field, the lake is really clean and the bike course has enough up and down to be both interesting and challenging.  The oly run course is a bit of a bear though.  Runners are on pavement until just after the 5K turnaround spot  where we then move on to dirt road.  It is not very shady and there are always horseflies, who seem to find sweaty, tired runners delicious.  This year, though, I was not on their menu.   I had a great swim and was humming along on the bike when, at mile 19.41, I ended up with a punctured tire.   A nice policeman gave me and my bike a ride back to transition, where I called it a day.  I did go out for a run, but didn't do the official course, hence avoiding the horseflies.

Heart of the Lakes Sprint:  First time on this course and it was terrific.   The race itself is fun, but the piece de resistance was being able to do this event with my cousin, Cindy.  It was her very first triathlon EVER.  She trained hard all spring, and all on her own (she lives in California). Open water swimming was a totally new concept for her, along with stringing together the swim, bike and run in to one event.  We had a blast doing each leg of the event together and she did wonderfully.   I am very, very proud of her.

Ragbrai One Day Ride:  So if I don't do Iornman next year (or after I really DO retire form long course events), I think I could get my head (and legs) around doing bike events like Ragbrai (or Bike Across Minnesota or Ride Across Wisconsin or ANY of the Escape Adventure rides).  Another good friend, Cheryl, had done the full week ride in 2011.  (She loved it and hated it... sound familiar?)  This year, the Monday ride started in her home town of Storm Lake and finished 68 miles later in Fort Dodge.  She invited a few friends to join her for the one day ride.  I am so glad I did this ride and got a chance to be part of the experience.  There are about 18,000 riders that take part in the event.  Yes, 18,000.  You are never alone out on the bike course.  There are all shapes, sizes and kind of riders and bikes.  There were five official stops along the way, where the town pretty much opens its arms to riders.  Lots of food, entertainment and hospitality.  Farms along the route also set up rest stops complete with COFFEE, food, water and friendliness.  I imagine that this event is similar to Sturgis, but for healthy people.  I could not have had more fun.  

At least I don't THINK I could have had more fun.  But that is TBD.  

Coming up for the rest of this year are a couple of new races:  Graniteman - Big Lake Oly and Maple Grove sprint.  I'm also going back to Duluth to do SuperiorMan again, and Warren and I will line up for the Loony Challenge in October (running the Twin Cities Marathon's 5K and 10K events on Saturday and the 10 miler on Sunday.)

I'll wrap up 2015 in Tempe, about the time I'll get to register for Tru U Mah, 2016.....

A girl can't have too much fun!