Monday, August 20, 2012

Race Report: Vermilion Olympic Triathlon, 2012

Alrighty, here we go!  If you've been here before, you know these things can get long.  And I also realized that I haven't done an Olympic triathlon since 2008!  Seriously--4 years?!  So I may have a lot to say.  You know what that means, right?
Get ya popcorn ready!
I've learned a few things:

1.  I can see myself really enjoying this distance.  I think I have got some room to grow here and it could be a distance that I could get pretty good at.

2.  Hills always seem harder from a distance.  You don't really feel how hard it is until you're about halfway up, and then you just have to soldier on to the top and keep going.  (And yes, that's kinda one of those life things, too.)

This course is advertised as being difficult on the bike, so I had mentally prepared myself for a slower bike split.  This was important because I didn't want to get all defeatist on the bike by looking at the miles per hour.  I really tried to focus on keeping my watts in check and saving a little for the run, since that was going to be the wild card.

I picked up my new tri buddy Laura and we headed out.  Got all checked into transition and saw about 893,405,102 triathlon friends, which was pretty much awesome.  We got a PERFECT day:  the waves were calm. the humidity was down, and it was not going to get warmer than the mid-70s.  For a race on August 19th in Ohio, you can't order any better than that.

I had a little pre-race warmup with my buddy TriEric and then wished all my buddies doing the sprint good luck since they went out before us.  Then, before I knew it, it was time to go!  I noticed there weren't very many women in my wave, which was actually kind of nice.  I figured there was no excuse for me not to kick some butt in this swim.  Minimal waves, minimal traffic.  Let's go.

THE SWIM:  7/38 females

I was feeling great!  Loop 1 was rockin' along pretty well, until we had to turn back into the sun...and then I regretted having 1988 goggles that are perpetually fogged.  Is that a buoy?  No, wait, is THAT a buoy?  Oh boy.  Before I knew it, I stopped and looked around and I was in the MIDDLE OF THE RECTANGLE.  It looked a little something like this:

Poop, indeed.

I did my best to keep the swearing underwater, and headed back on course.  On the 2nd loop, I was MUCH more careful to really swim straight and follow the buoys.  I caught up to quite a few dudes in the wave ahead of me so I knew I must have done okay.  I hit the beach in 25:18 which is a BIG FAT PR for me!  Yippee yahoo!  The official time includes the run up a little sandy hill to the transition area, so my time is officially 26:28 for an average pace of 1:37/100 yards.  Still a big fat PR for me, as I think my last oly swim in '08 had me at 27:42.  Boo-yah.

T1:  6/38, 1:38

Nothing too eventful here.  It's been a while since I've done an oly so I wanted to be sure I had everything all set.  It wasn't too hot so I didn't have to freak about liquid like I usually do.

THE RIDE:  7/38, 1:22.54

So this ride?  It separates the MEN from the BOYS, or something like that, since I am neither of those categories.  I had already heard stuff from a few friends, so I was a bit cautious but it's still a race, so I wanted to go pretty hard.  I know that time doesn't look so hot, but considering the fastest female bike split was a 1:16, its a testament to the technicality of the course.  I was surprised I was still on the west side of Cleveland, since we are notoriously flat.  Here's a few pics I snagged from the Backroads and Beaches facebook page which show one particular climb in the middle...this one we went tearing down a hill only to cross a bridge and then have a pretty steep climb.  So you just couldn't really use your momentum, which is how I usually play it.
TriEric going over the bridge, killin' it

Climbing out

Downhill--hey, who's that chick on the sweet QR CD0.1?  (HINT: IT'S ME)

Because I was being a bit cautious, I was not hesitating to go from my big ring to the small on the climbs, and then back to the big (because it is a race, and I don't race in the small ring ever unless I MUST).  But at about mile 10, something went BERZERK on my bike.  My big ring started making this horrid noise.  I thought it was the chain or the derailleur, but I just couldn't figure it out.  I tried leaning down and fiddling with stuff, but nothing seemed to work.  It didn't seem to be affecting my performance too much at least, so I kept hammering away and passing people and whenever I passed them they looked at me like "what the heck is that noise" so I would make some kind of joke.  I just kept my fingers crossed that it would hold on until the end, and it did.  Whew.  Dodged a HUGE bullet there!

T2:  Okay, now is where I LOSE THE RACE.  Sersly.  There is no excuse.....

1:40 30/38 females

I KNOW, RIGHT!  IS IT MY FIRST TRIATHLON EVER?  NO?  Oh, do I ever deserve to get punched in the face here.  Let me explain...our racks were crowded to begin with and then when I got back it was riDONKulous.  I had to quickly find some spot for my bike and then I tried to get my Garmin on since I really wanted to have it so the average pace could keep me motivated if things got rough.  So...I, um...spent like an extra MINUTE doing this.  

I'm sorry.

I know that's not a good excuse.

Speaking of which, does anyone know if the Forerunner 310 is water-resistant?  I think it is.  In which case my extra minute deserves to get me punched five more times.  I should just wear the stupid thing in the whole race, right?  Sigh.


THE RUN:  12/38 females, 52:02

You guys, I am so so SOOOOO excited about this run.  This was my longest run since my achilles flared up in April.  I hadn't ran more than 5.7 since then.  I had NO clue what I'd be able to muster here and I'm very happy with this finish.  Of course, there's work to be done, but for all I've had to put up with and for not running more than about 12 miles a week since April, I'm gonna call this a big ol' victory.

Don't call it a comeback.

I couldn't get the stupid GPS to hook up for at least a half mile, so again, wasted nonsense effort there, but it was fun to see some of my guy friends hammering the course on their way in since this was an out and back.  And I saw the overall female winner absolutely kicking ass on her way in, which was pretty awesome.  I tried NOT to get too caught up in the competitive little games I like to play in sprint tris and race my own race, which is really easier said than done for a competitive whack-job like myself.

I missed mile 1, but hit mile 2 at 15:49.

15:49! ME!

I almost did a cartwheel right there.  But then I was also a little nervous wondering if I could keep this up.

Subsequent miles of course got harder and I slowed down.  But I really went into this expecting to finish with an average pace of close to 9s.  To finish with an average of 8:24?  That makes me so happy, I do the dance of joy.

Overall finish:  2:44.44
1/2 AG, 7/38 females

Yeah.  That's a LOT better than I thought I could do.  Once again, body shows me who's truly in charge here.  It sure as heck isn't my mind or the limits I set in my head.  Can I please learn that already?

Takeaway thoughts: 

I was 2 minutes back from 4th overall female.  Considering I may as well have read a Tale of Two Cities in T2, I think it's safe to say I could get a free minute there.  I think I definitely could have shaved another 30 seconds off my bike and run if I had been a little mentally tougher at the end or not as cautious on the hills.  

I think I do have some ability at this distance.  But if I want to compete here, I need to get used to pain a bit more and I need to drop that run into the 40s for sure.  Olympics are still "short" enough that it should hurt, and definitely hurt more than a half-ironman.  I'm not quite used to that yet.  I could see myself really, really enjoying this distance.

All in all, it was a great way to end the tri season!  I only got two races in this year, which kind of stinks.  But I plan on doing lots of riding this fall and ACTUALLY SWIMMING this winter (no, for real) so I can hit the ground tri-ing next spring.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Lakers Beat the Supersonics

Today I didn't even hafta use my A-K!

I gotta say it was a good day.

And Mama served the breakfast with NO HOG.
Yes, Ice Cube says it well, folks.  I had a really good day today!  The numbers are all screwy since the last timing mat didn't work right, but by all accounts I either PR'd or came DARN close to it in both the swim AND the....RUN!


No, that's not a typo.  I hit mile two at 15:49 for pete's sake.


Super excited and I felt like I had a perma-smile on from seeing so many awesome friends.  I love this schtuff!

Full report to come once I get some actual splits.  The bike course was KILLAH, bro.  It was definitely a challenging course.  So, to finish in 2:44 which was about 3 1/2 minutes shy of my PR on a flat course was definitely cause for celebration!

Back with a report as soon as I can!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Race Time!

Okay, tomorrow is it!  I signed up for the Vermilion Harbor Triathlon which, according to the link as well as everyone I've talked to, is a pretty killer course.  I checked last year's bike splits and they were definitely slow (although last year's weather was rotten).  So this will be a challenge, for sure!  But I figured I really haven't had a chance to race much this year so I might as well go longer and get my money's worth.  Right?

(I may not be saying that so cheerfully as I spin in my granny gear up the hills tomorrow.)

The good news is that the weather looks fabulous, and if it's anything like today, it will be darn near perfect.  A little chilly at the start, low humidity, and light winds.  "So I've got that going for me.  Which is good."

My goals are really just to go as hard as I possibly can, make it through the 10k in a respectable fashion, and finish smiling.  I know this isn't a PR course for me nor am I in run shape to pull off my PR time on the run.  So I just want this to be a fun, hard, challenging in a good way day to end my last week of summer vacation.

Here goes!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Operation Eat Like an Athlete, Take 3

Well, this is really "eat like a person who is completely overscheduled yet wants to be healthy with minimal effort."  But that was a little long for the title!

It is well-established that I have a love affair with slow-cookers.  Like, I *might* own 5.  But they are all different sizes!  With different capabilities! And needs!  And I just want to be sure they all get their equal share of love!

Okay, enough of that.  I heard your eyes rolling.

Anyway, I've been meaning to have a Freezer-Pa-Looza day before I headed back to school to load up our new deep freeze with some meals.  I used to be a big fan of those places you could go and make your own meals, but then they all had to up and go out of business on me.  The nerve!  But I really liked how I controlled the ingredients and there were no preservatives in there.  I felt good serving them, even if they weren't necessarily the most gourmet things.  Less time in my kitchen = more time to train, play with my kiddies, or (ew) grade papers.

So I decided that Saturday would be the day I was on a mission.  Oh yeah.

Mission?  To test out this new ecookbook I downloaded and make 10 freezer meals in 2 hours. Including time to the grocery store.

Could it be done?

(I do like a challenge.)

At 2pm, Bean was down for a nap (which, by the way, she's totally done on since she figured out how to get out of her crib and refuses to nap this was truly my last hurrah).  I had already made my shopping list and checked to see what was in the pantry.

I was ready.

I took my mark.


I hit the store and was a crazy person in the aisles, grabbing veggies and spices and everything I needed.  I already had some good stuff at home from my local CSA, and I'm pretty good about stocking the pantry with spices.  My bill minus the chicken (which I got at Costco) came to $86.47.

Then, I went ballistic on my kitchen.  It was like a freaking bomb went off in here.

I had my trusty food processor to chop up all my veggies quickly.  I started with the onions, since most recipes called for some onions.  I decided to add an additional meal:  one of my favorites!  Speedy Laura's Chili.  I know it freezes well and since I already needed some sweet potatoes, I figured I might as well!

So I was now attempting to make 11 freezer meals, all before Bean got up.

I kind of felt like I was in the Olympics.  Of GEEK.

Anyway, the thing I was drawn to about most of the recipes from the ecookbook was that they made two of each.  So I had two freezer bags set up, and then I'd just go to town.  I was all Swedish Chef in there.  There were veggies flying, sauce everywhere, and I might have said "Bork! Bork! Bork!" a few times and thrown a wooden spoon.

(If you were born after 1982, you probably won't know what I'm talking about:  educate yourself, below, please.)

(okay, now we can be friends again)

Here's what I made--two of everything except the chili, but it's a HUGE pot of chili:

Chicken and Cherries
Chicken Curry
Orange Beef Stew
Flank Steak Fajitas
Speedy Laura's Chili
Cranberry Chicken

She's got a lot of lamb stuff in her cookbook, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.  But there's definitely a lot more I'd like to try!

When all was said and done, I put them on a cookie sheet flat so that they would freeze nice and orderly because I AM OCD OKAY DEAL WITH IT.  And I did about 4 backflips, 3 triple sowcows (yes, I know I spelled that wrong and have the wrong olympics) and then I STUCK THE LANDING, YO'.

My freezer was full, and I had the kitchen counters cleared off by 4:22 which was 3 minutes before Bean woke up.


If you can't already tell, I am ENTIRELY too excited about this.  But if I can pull this off in 2 hours and 22 minutes, anyone can.  I keep telling Matt how excited I am that "if I only use one a week, I'm good 'til Thanksgiving!" giddily with excitement like I'm 12 and I'm going to see Justin Bieber.

It's that bad.

But you know what?  I know this stuff is healthy.  I know it will cook while I'm at work or working out, and when I come home it's done.  I won't feel guilty getting in that after-school swim or run if I know that a good meal is cooking away, so I think I'll be able to do that more often.  And it bought me MUCH more than 11 meals:  it bought me time.  Time to play, time to train, time to (maybe?) think about sitting down.

So if you've got a few hours, I highly recommend getting to know your crockpot--and your freezer!--and stock up now to train more later!

And hey--I have a race coming up this weekend!  It's going to be a challenging olympic distance for me, and I am not sure what I can pull off on the run, but I say BRING. IT.

Happy cooking--and training!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Rest in Peace, Stan

I have had a few posts brewing in my head, but something's happened over the past few days that has really sort of made everything else seem pretty silly.

Last weekend, at the Greater Cleveland Triathlon, a triathlete named Stan entered the water.  And then he had to be pulled out.  There were definitely strong waves.  I don't know what happened.  I don't think anyone really does.  I wasn't there; I didn't know Stan.  But I know that several fellow triathletes stopped racing to pull him ashore.

I know that Stan was 34.  That he was married, with two young children.

That Stan and I probably had a lot in common.

I know that the swelling in his brain got to be too much, and I know that Stan passed away.  And I know that the entire Northeastern Ohio triathlon community is mourning for him and his family.  I feel like even though I didn't know Stan, he was one of us.

My heart is heavy for his wife and young children.

We always hear about these things happening to others and in other races, and I think sometimes we forget that a large body of water is just that: unpredictable, dangerous, and volatile.  And every time we get in it, we are taking a risk.  Stan died taking a risk and doing something that he loved.

Please send up thoughts and prayers for Stan's family and friends.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Onto the Next, Second by Second

Okay, so I've been pretty busy lately filling my days with as much summer fun as possible before I head back to school for what is certain to be an unconventional and slightly challenging year.  Our building is completely under construction, and we are all in temporary rooms for the first few months of the year.  Then, some of us (my department included) will move rooms again, mid-year.  For this creature of habit and routine and order and type-A-organization, this whole process is BLOWING MY LITTLE MIND.  

(To say I'm a bit nervous is the understatement of the century.)

So I've been procrastinating thinking about it, and filling my days (and nights) with parties with friends, catching lightning bugs, early morning lake swims and runs, mid-afternoon coffee and blogs, trips to the skate park and the minor league baseball games, days at the beach, and running--finally!--kinda fast and sort of long(ish).

He asked if she could sit on his lap at storytime

at the new Cleveland Aquarium--very cool!

touching the horseshoe crab

Shark tank!

Proud of her hot dog

First game

Dollar ticket/dog/draft night!

My little sk8r boi

Night without kids = sometimes the best

Ana and I together on a rare moment we're not wearing spandex 

Me and my little Bean

Better watch out!

"Come back here, seagull!"

Because those days are about to be over.  And for that, I am sad.  I am already having some mid-night panics about it.  But howbuthowbuthowcanIdoallthisaggggghhh?  The answer of course, is one day, one SECOND at a time.  That's the only way.  So I am going to really, really try hard to stay in the moment, remember that everyone in my building is dealing with a bit of chaos this year (not just me), and that all that matters is that I am number 1 in Bug and Bean's book.

I decided to go out on a bang this summer and go hard at the Vermilion Olympic triathlon on August 19th.  There was a sprint and an olympic distance offered, and I know that the olympic is advertised as being significantly more difficult than the sprint--and than most races in the area.  But you know what? I've trained a lot this summer and I'm feeling pretty good.  Dr. Zak gave me the okay to start ramping up my mileage slowly, and he said a 10k should be fine in 2 weeks.  Part of me was trying to convince myself to just do the sprint.  But I think I've had too much fun riding and swimming this year to only spend that shorter time in the water and on the road racing, and if it means a slower race time and a slower bike split, then so be it.

I missed out on a lot of racing this year, so I might as well spend a few extra minutes on this course and have some freaking fun with it, right?

Especially the weekend before I head full-speed ahead into the whirlwind.

So that's what I'm going to try to do.  I'll head out for a ride tomorrow and hit a few hills since I know there are hills on this bike course.  I'll do a good Tuesday morning pool swim and a Thursday morning lake swim, and throw in a few good runs in there, too.  And I'll also pause this week to celebrate 8 pretty amazing years with my soulmate.
I feel like I get this look a lot...
August 7, 2004

This is what happened when the photographer told me to look at my flowers and "be serious."  My Evotri teammates also learned in Chattanooga that I quite simply CANNOT "be serious" in a picture....

So here's to staying in the moment, ignoring impending insanity, and taking it one moment at a time on that difficult course.  Because that's all we can really ever do anyway.