Monday, July 23, 2012

Race Report: Huntington Sprint Triathlon, 2012

It's kinda funny because I started short-course, then switched to long-course, and am now sort of transitioning myself back to the short-course mentality.  And I really feel like they are almost two different sports in a sense.  For me, the long-course is about enduring and being smart.  The short-course is about redlining, being uncomfortable, and taking risks.  I enjoy them both, but I'm definitely having a lot of fun with the short stuff right now.  I feel like it fits a little better into my life to go super hard and then go home.  So we'll see where this takes me, but for now, here are my thoughts on yesterday's sprint.

First of all, I'm sitting here with coffee the next day and...moment of truth...the ACHILLES DOES NOT HURT.  Yahoooooooooooyipppeeeeeee!  This was the true test of yesterday, and I passed.  So happy!

I think the biggest difference for me between a sprint and a half-ironman is that the little things matter SO much more in the sprint.  In the longer distances, the little things still matter of course, but a mistake of a few seconds doesn't usually affect me like it would in the sprint distance.  I definitely made a couple of mistakes yesterday that cost me 1st in my age group, but I am still extremely proud with my first race all season after this nasty, annoying injury.

But of course there's always room to improve. :)

Got to transition, wearing my Ballin' Team Shirt (which is totally my new favorite)...thanks, Inch!
Ballin'.
Set up and found all my girls and got body marked and stuff.  Answered some questions and just walked them all through race morning.  As we all know, it is a lot of "hurry up and wait."  I got to transition around 6:30 and our wave was not supposed to go off until 8:26.  Blarg.


We lined up on the beach and I saw a girl that I knew was a strong competitor.  I'll call her 34, because I noticed she was NOT in my age group this year (a perk of getting old, I guess!).  I figured I'd try to hang with her on the run.  But my run this year would be a huge question mark, so I wasn't sure I could do it.

As we all lined up on the beach, we watched the guys ahead of us going off and saw many, many of them STANDING up on rocks by the buoy and having to jump off them.  We all commented on how we should watch out for those dangerous rocks.  I then thought of two more things.  1) man, it's crowded and there's a lot of us in the F 39 and Under wave and 2) Hmmm, I probably should have practiced running in off the beach.

And then, we were off!

THE SWIM:

Mistake #1 and probably my costliest:  piss-poor positioning on the swim. I was reminded how positioning here is really everything, and I was too hesitant.  I should have sprinted out and knocked people over if I needed to, but I got stuck behind a massive wall of chicks.  I was immediately frustrated.  I tried to go around them, but I was literally blocked on all sides.  I tried to keep swimming, and that wasn't working.  I tried to sort of nudge a few with my stroke and that didn't work, either.  I realized that if I was going to move at all in this swim, I'd need to hack a bit.  But I'm nice! I don't want to hack!  Oh, the dilemma.  Finally as we approached the buoy and I was at a standstill I realized there wasn't time for this in a sprint, and I'm nice 364 days and 23 hours and 50 minutes out of the year, so if I need to be a little bitchy right now, it's probably okay.  Right?

Sigh.  See?  I still feel bad.

But I went for it and just started going.  I am pretty sure the girls around me were not my biggest fans, but I knew I needed to get around them.  I finally did, but this cost me a lot of time.  I probably lost at least a minute on the swim just because of bad positioning.  Once things opened up a bit I caught a good draft and tried to just stay smooth, but I definitely know I need to improve this--not even my stroke as much, but how to handle a big bottleneck.

On a positive note, Ana came out right at my heels, so she had a fabulous swim!  Great job, Ana!

The run up to T1 is almost as long as the swim--probably close to .2 miles or so--which is added into the swim time.

Swim Time = 7:57 according to website, which it totally NOT right.  I'm going to go ahead and say 11:57.  Something got MASSIVELY wrong on the swim times here.  Most of my AG wave is significantly faster than every other wave.  I think they had our chips timed up to go with 40+ but I know that I saw a ton of legs around me with 35, 36, 37, 38, and 39s and we all had light blue caps with all the 34 and under chicks, too.  However, I think a few in my AG must have gone off with the 40+ wave.  Sigh.  So what that means is the overall rank for the females in this race is all jacked up.  And possibly the AG results for my group. Bummer.  Such is the life of a small, local race.

T1 time = 1:03

Okay, here's where something ridiculous happened.  I told Ana to go get 'em and "be the monster I created" ;) and thought I was all set to go.  Took off and stood at the mount line to get on my bike where there were TONS of spectators and many of my friends.  And then I heard about 5 people say, "Sara...you're helmet is on backwards...." snickering and giggling.

What?!

OMG.

It was.

Well, at least I can chalk that up to a rookie mistake...NO I CAN'T I'VE BEEN DOING THIS ELEVEN YEARS.

To say I was embarrassed was an understatement.  I smiled, tried to resist crawling into a hole, reminded myself that everyone gets in the zone and sometimes makes mistakes and then sped off as fast as I could, hopefully before anyone got a picture. ;)

The BIKE:

I know this course like the back of my hand and I knew this was the time for me to hammer the hell out of it and pass people.  So I did.  My QR CD.01 handles SO smoothly and I was flying.  But I did catch myself in the long-course mode a few times, coasting easily at 20 mph.  I had to ask myself, "But do you have another gear in here?" to sort of snap out of it and push hard.  There should be no coasting in a sprint.  I knew this was the only chance with my questionable running abilities to make up ground, and I took pride in picking off people one by one.  It was pretty fun!  But I wanted to somehow make sure I had enough for the run, which is the mystery of triathlon anyway.  I passed 34 with about 2 miles to go so I knew I was doing alright position-wise.  Came into T2 with what I believed to be a PR on the bike and I was pretty sure I was holding onto 1st in the AG.

Bike time = 36:23 which is 3 1/2 seconds slower than last year.  Boo! 3/19 AG (and just 2 seconds behind 2nd)

Now comes the hard part--the wounded-animal part of the race for me.  Could I hold on?

T2: uneventful.  Got in, got out, and thank goodness I didn't make any more stupid mistakes.  Except I do remember seeing an older gentleman with a baby in a stroller IN TRANSITION by my rack.  I flew in with my bike and was kind of confused and said, as politely as I could, "Excuse me! Sorry!" as I almost knocked into the stroller.  I felt bad, but then I was like, "Who brings a baby in transition DURING the race?!"

But this is such a small, local race with not many rules so it didn't really surprise me.

T2 Time = 44 seconds (2/19 in AG by 1/10th of a second, so that was good!)

The RUN:

It started to get hot.  I was a bit hesitant to push too hard here because of the ankle, so I tried to roll into the pace.  34 passed me within about 1/2 mile.  I thought about hanging onto her, but I decided to let it go and just try to run my own race and NOT get injured again or do anything (too) stupid!  I tried to just stay within myself and listen to my ankle and push as hard as it would let me push.

I had no watch so I ran blind. I felt like I was crawling, but I was still moving past people pretty well and not getting passed too much.

At the turnaround I noticed another girl behind me that was in my age group.  I had noticed her on the beach because she looked super fit and I wondered if she was a triathlete and had done these before, or was just one of those girls who looks super fit all the time with minimal effort, you know, kinda like me.  HA!

I was starting to get pretty freaking tired, and I noticed she wasn't too far behind me.

Uh oh.

So I  kept going and tried to keep my breath steady and go as hard as my legs let me.  I do wish I had a watch so I'd have some knowledge of pace because I think it would have motivated me to push harder. But at any rate, as we approached about 2.5 I just sensed she was going to make her move.  She did, and I tried to hang, but I had nothing left.  On another day where I had more confidence on this run, I would hold onto her.  Today, I was disappointed but realistic that today was about getting back out on the course and testing the achilles, and if that meant 2nd place I guess I could live with it.

(Boo.)

But, nonetheless, I finished strong up the hill and nabbed 2nd in my AG.
finishing up the hill
So I really can't complain about this.  Even though I'm somehow finding a way to beat myself up just a little. :)  There is certainly a great deal of room for improvement in my sprint 5Ks, but I know I need to just be happy I made it this time in one piece!

Total 5K Run Time = 25:12 (2/19 in AG) which is somehow a whopping 53 seconds faster than last year!  WOW.  Maybe I should run without a watch more often?  I certainly felt like I was running 10 minute miles!  This is way better than I thought I could do today, so I'll take it.
This is my, "I'm glad I'm done" face
Now, NCN's website has me finishing at 1:11.21, which is definitely not right. I am going to go ahead and call it a 1:15.21 which is...

DRUM ROLL....


I think this is still right:  2/19 in AG, despite the messed up swims.  Double-blarg!
a 1:26 course PR!  So I still can't be too upset about that. ;)

All of the tri ladies finished strong and SMILING!  Tracy actually enjoyed the swim the most, and Ana had a super solid swim, bike, and run in her debut!  Tiffani and Laura all looked strong out there, too, and Christina made it through the run (although her knee hurts a bit today) so she was super-happy.  They all talked about how they couldn't wait to do another!

After the race I had two parties to go to:  one at a local team member of Spin Second Sole's house, Anne, which was so fun.  Then, I headed to the tail end of a 6 year old birthday party at the local skate park, which was also pretty darn cute.  Check out my little Sk8R Boi:


video
All in all, a success!  Now, to decide...do I do the relatively easier sprint or "challenging" olympic in Vermilion on August 19th?  Since the achilles feels okay today, I'm tempted for the olympic.  Hmmmm...decisions, decisions!

Congratulations to all that raced today, and here's to the next one!  And to all my newly-hooked tri training buddies, too. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Evotri Summer "Project!"

It's kind of like "Project Runway."

Except it's not.  No, not at all.  Unless, of course, you are under the delusion that spandex is fashionable.  In that case, I'll let you continue to live in your little dreamworld.

I keep trying to come up with a catchy name for us, but all I can think about because I'm ridiculous is the M.I.L.FF.s, which would stand for "Mom's I'd Like to Follow Fast" but that *could* be misconstrued into something that's not what I call "school appropriate."

So for now, I'll just call them my new training buddies.

I wanted to do something this summer that would still fit the mission of Team Evotri but also fit into my chaotic life a little more.  I do still LOVE working with the high school girls, but the tough part about that is that 8am is early for them.  They really aren't into starting any earlier than that.  So I thought, what about trying to find some people like me?  Super busy moms who have to get stuff done, like, when the sun comes up, or it doesn't happen because they are chasing children around like crazy persons and don't stop until bedtime?

So that's what I decided to do!

I sent out some emails to local Early Childhood PTAs and got a few people interested in joining me to train for this Sunday's sprint triathlon.  It's a local, newbie-friendly race that I just love to do.  So over the past 6 weeks or so, I've been sending out weekly emails, training tips, and arranging some workouts for everyone that hopefully hit everyone's strengths and weaknesses equally and had something for everyone.  It's been so fun, and I'm so proud of all these girls!  They have come so far in such a short time, and I can just hear how excited they are for this Sunday's race.

I think I may have infected them with the tri-bug!  SCORE!

This morning was our last organized workout before the race, so I hoped to make it extra fun.  We met up at the Lake for an open-water swim and they all did a great job!  The lake was like glass this morning and we beat the storms that were headed our way.
Try not to be too jealous that this is pretty much in my backyard...this morning's swim, calm lake, sunrise
My awesome sponsors sent some FABULOUS schwag and I had enough to make some goody bags for all the girls.  They each got a seat cover, race belt, and some temporary tattoos compliments of Quintana Roo, some GU and CycleOps stickers, some shampoo/conditioner/Hoo Ha Ride Glide samples from Reflect Sports (who is not a team sponsor, but was just generous and cool like that--thanks, RS!), a Team Evotri visor compliments of Headsweats, and then courtesy of Stu I had some extra awesome prizes to give out to reward their hard work:  A helmet, some road glasses, some Yankz, some socket rocket goggles, AND a CycleOps t-shirt!  So the girls all headed home with a bag full of goodies and something pretty big, too!
Me, being ridiculous, as I explained how to do transitions



So here's to a great race for all these awesome chicks.  Cheers to:

Laura B: Mom of two girls and head XC coach where we teach, who is in NC now, but will be kicking butt and taking names when she gets back as she rides the MS150 Pedal to the Point. Laura's been working hard so that she can kill at the Rev3 Aquabike at Cedar Point!

Laura C:  Mom of two who did her first tri 20+ years ago when she lived in Florida and for that I called her the "O.G." of triathlons, to which she asked, "Old Girl?" and I had to explain how no, O.G. is a term of endearment I and many west-coast rappers like to use for ORIGINAL GANGSTA.  She is a smokin' fast runner (Boston-qualifier!) and I know she'll have a great race!

Ana: My partner in crime who I love talking into things, and who is a seriously fierce athlete (former collegiate soccer player)!  Ana has three adorable kids and I have a feeling she's going to have a solid debut in triathlon and I'd better watch out, because I could just be creating a monster with her like I did back in the day with my girl DaisyDuc!  This will be her first triathlon ever.

Tracy:  Mom of 2 (including one who is just 6 months old!) who has long been an Iron-Fan to her super awesome, MULTI-Ironman finisher hubby, Jeff, and is making due on her wedding promise to Jeff that if he took dance lessons with her for their first dance, then she'd do a triathlon. :)  She definitely wins the "most improved" award on her swimming!  Tracy went from having some slight panic issues on her first open water to swimming like a pro this morning!  So excited to see her race in her very first tri.

Christina:  Mom of 3 who is a seriously talented swimmer and already caught a bit of the tri-bug last year at Portage Lakes and at a tri near a family vacation in Wisconsin.  I see lots of tris in her future, and she is so upbeat and positive!  Her husband is racing, too, so this will be a true family affair for her.  Great work, Christina!

Tiffani:  who I have been playing some SERIOUS phone/email tag with and finally got to meet in person this morning!  Tiffani clearly a talented athlete and a great cyclist and runner who is a little worried about the swim, but she worked through those demons today in the open water and hopefully that will boost her confidence at the start line Sunday.  She's a mom to an 18 month old boy and her husband is also doing the race on Sunday!  Yahoo for racing families!  This will be her first triathlon ever!
I hope to expand this even more next year, as I had a few more girls that were interested but had a rough time making the workouts.  I tried to really tell everyone that, no, really I understand that completely, and that this is about joining the triathlon family and living the lifestyle and fitting it into OUR lives together.  And I do believe we've all done that pretty darn well.
Please leave some comment love for these super cool ladies and maybe a tip for their first tri! I'll pass it along.  And I'll be sure to be back next week with a race report for me AND for them!

Happy Training!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Operation Eat Like an Athlete, Take 2

So I'd like to introduce you to my new BFF:

Hey there, hot stuff
I've been wanting a Vitamix forever and ever, and was on the fence for it forever and ever.  Because, let's be honest, it's super expensive.  All that?  For a blender?

Yes.  YES.  All that for a blender and it's worth every penny.

I knew I could get a cheap knockoff with a 20% off coupon at Bed Bath or Beyond or something, but I really felt like if I was going to get a top-notch blender, I really should get the Vitamix.  Because they are a Cleveland-based company, and have been since 1937.  That's pretty awesome.  AND, they were so so so helpful when my APUSH kids were doing their final projects in hopes of making the Cleveland Historical App (free on iTunes! shameless plug) which allowed two of my students to make this pretty awesome video:


So all that, combined with the fact that they had a Mother's Day special bargain AND that I sold my trusty road bike allowed me to take the plunge.

Boy oh boy.  I am having so much fun with this thing.

Here is why you need one:

1.  It's seriously the most well-made machine out there.  And there's a 7-year warranty on EVERYTHING--even a refurbished one, like mine!--so if anything goes wrong, Vitamix will put their money where their mouth is and make it right.

2.  For a busy mommy (or daddy--Matt uses it ALL THE TIME), it's fabulous.  Between playdates and heading to the pool, I can throw stuff in there, blend it all up, and have a healthy smoothie for lunch.  I'm eating TONS of greens now and this little machine makes them delish.

3.  The cookbook alone is worth it!

The cookbook that's designed by the Vitamix team of chefs and nutritionists has HUNDREDS of recipes in it, and I've only scratched the surface but they are awesome.  I've made hummus, pineapple salsa, brownies (using black beans! no joke) and plan on making TONS of soups and stews once it's not 8,951 degrees.  You can even heat the soups in it since the motor is so strong and powerful!

4.  It's super easy to clean.  You know how in your basic $30 blender you can't ever get the gunk out of it and it gets all funk-dy funk?  Yeah, you're not going to get that here.

5.  I am pretty positive there is nothing this thing can't chop and make into a perfectly smooth beverage.  I've tried lots: pineapple cores, frozen strawberries, ice cubes, all kinds of leafy stuff...doesn't matter.  It pulverizes the heck out of pretty much everything.

6.  You can sneak all kinds of stuff into smoothies for ridiculously picky toddlers!  Bug eats anything and everything, so this is just more yummy stuff for him, but for my Bean who won't eat ANYTHING, I know she's at least getting some good greens in there.  I tend to go heavier on the fruit smoothies when I make one for her, but I still sneak in at least some spinach!

Here's a few of my favorite things I like to throw in.  Right now I'm in heaven because my CSA I joined, Fresh Fork Market, is giving me TONS of green stuff to put in there.  Yum!

Basically, whatever fresh stuff I can get my hands on.  And I know you're really jealous of Matt's Star Wars Mug that I got him for Father's Day.

After a particularly long or hard workout, I also like to throw in some greek yogurt or maybe a scoop of protein powder, too.  That will make it a little more filling and also help with recovery.

So if you're in the market for a good blender and you want the best, I'm telling you, this thing is awesome.  I know it's definitely pricey, but so far it's been worth every penny and used at least twice a day in the TST household.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Decision

I've decided.

"Man, um, this is really hard.  Next fall  over the next two months I'll be taking my talents to Bay Village and Vermilion."

Not Cedar Point.
I'm a turd

I'm sorry, Sandusky.  I really am.  You were great...you ARE great.  But you're just not right for me right now.

I'm okay with this.  Really, I am.  I'm sure on September 9th I'll be a little bummed out, but hopefully I'll get to head out to see my teammate Stu announce and cheer on my buddies and everyone racing.  And I'll be there next year, no doubt.  But after a nice serious email conversation with Coach Emily, I realized what I already kind of knew:  we have 8 weeks left, and to build me up somehow to half ironman RUNNING shape would be tough.  I'm basically at the swimming and almost the biking now, but the running would be tough.  Really tough.  I'd have to ramp up fast, and then, well, there goes the achilles again, right?

So I decided that it wasn't worth the $300.  I could still do the race and get through it, but not the way I'd want to.  So I'll save it.  A good teammate once said to me that no miles are ever wasted, so I'm trying to remember that.  The fitness I built last spring is still kind of here, and I'm starting to see it.

So, two local triathlons it is.  Because I can so still have my kids at those finish lines, too.

Next weekend I'll race the Huntington Sprint Triathlon, which is, literally, in my backyard.  No, seriously.  There are advantages to living a block away from Lake Erie.  I'm so so so excited for this race, and mostly because I've been helping to train a group of newbies who are all super busy mommies to do their first (or for some, their first in a long time!) triathlon.  I'm pretty freaking excited to race hard, too, as I feel like a caged animal over here.  But mostly?  To see them all have fun and cross that finish line.  Because that's going to be awesome.

Today I had two really, really great confidence-boosting workouts.  The first was my longest run since late-April AND my first speedwork since then, too.  I was a little nervous, but I was ready to go and see how things went.

They went well.  REALLY well.  I felt pretty amazing the whole time and ended up with 5.3 miles in 45 minutes for an average pace of 8:25/mile!  That's pretty good for me.  I did 4X1 minute pickups and held about a 7:30 pace for those just to test the ankle a bit, and it was all good.

So that's in the books.  Hopefully that means I can have somewhat of a respectable run next weekend in the sprint.  We'll see!

Then, and I know this is nothing to you swimmers out there, but I finally was able to actually get in a 3000 yard workout.  I know, don't laugh too hard.  I used to crank out 4000+ yards too pretty often, but girlfriend can barely get to the pool these days, okay?  But the more important thing is that I actually felt REALLY strong the whole time.  I feel like I'm finally clicking in the water again, and that's good.  Maybe I should actually learn from this and realize 1) that taking 6 months off swimming kind of HURTS YOUR SWIMMING ABILITY and 2) swimming 3 times a week makes a big difference for me.  I'll have to keep both of those in mind for this winter...don't let me forget!

So I really don't know what I'll be able to do next weekend.  My protocol is kind of what it usually is for the sprints, which is to hopefully come out midpack in the swim (or slightly better), hammer the CRAP out of the bike, and hold on for dear life on the run.  That last one will be interesting, but I'll have my fast blue shoes on so I'm sure that will make up for any lack of speed. Right?  RIGHT?

Come on, work with me people.

Happy training!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Vacation gotta get aawwaaayyyyyeeee

Wow!

So that's the longest I think I've unintentionally NOT written on this blog.  Sorry 'bout that!  I've been having quite a bit of fun.

Training as hard as I can, too.  I had a great week of volume before I spent a week in NC.  And I learned a very important lesson, folks...Yankees (as my NC born brother-in-law calls me) should never, NEVER start their 4.1 mile run at 9:45am.

North Carolina is HOT, yo'.

I about died 467,963,105 times and had to stop under a random house's shade tree several times.  But it was still a great way to ring in my 35th birthday last Thursday.

Yes, you heard that right!  America and I are basically twins, separated by 201 years and 1 day.  It was one heck of a labor!

So I've been doing lots of thinking (shocking, no?) about what's left of my season.  I am such a planner, but if you've read more than 0.5 posts on this blog you *might* already know that.  Anyway, I'm having so much fun wrecking myself on Monday night rides and in the pool.  But the running?  Still not coming so well.  After my 4.1 miles (the most consecutive I've done since injury--booyah!) I was a little bit sore in the ankle.  Not that day, but the next day.

Sigh.

So I know I need to be very, very careful here.  Because we've already established I can't turn myself off.  So if I'm going to pay $300 to race at Rev3 Cedar Point, I need to be able to be ready and able to take a good solid shot at a sub 5:30.  If not, quite honestly, it's not worth my $300.

Do you know how hard it is for this planner to NOT PLAN?  DO YOU?  Well, don't you worry, because I have a plan for not having a plan!  Actually, two plans.

Step 1 is I'm going to race Huntington, give it my all, and see how it goes.  Assess the pain and/or damage.  Then...

--If I'm feeling pretty good about things and the state of running, ramp up the miles a bit and plan on Rev3.  I'm already to the swim yardage to get through it and almost comfortable with the distance on the ride to hit the pace I want to.

--If I'm hurting (and I need you to hold me accountable on this, interwebs) then I really, really need to do the SMART THING and back out of Rev3 with a focus on Vermilion or Lorain sprint or olympic (depending on the state of the achilles) and then pace all or part of the Towpath Half Marathon in mid-October to help my friend Sarah go sub-2.  Even if I jump in the last 10K, it will be fun.

Obviously this all depends on what my crystal ball says.  So, wait, let me just get that out...uhhh, hold on, I know it's somewhere....

#%(&!@!!!!

(If anyone can loan me a functioning crystal ball and/or time machine, I'd greatly appreciate it.)

One last thing: shameless bragging about my students, but if I can't do it here, then where, right?  I am so, so SO proud of my APUSH kids.  They absolutely annihilated their test.  It literally brought tears to my eyes when I looked up their scores.

I had 30 kids take it.  Of those 30, I had 13 5s and 13 4s.  My average score was a 4.23.

In case you don't speak APUSH, that's really, really good.

So proud of them. :)