Thursday, August 19, 2010

Women's Ride

As Ironman training has wrapped up for me for the year, I am finding time to do some of the things I have been waiting all summer to do. Wednesday nights, that means joining the local Women's Ride leaving from North Boulder. Oh, what fun!

Last night was my second showing, and it was a good one. Nine of us rolled out from the Bus Stop just after 5:30. The ride was started this summer to let local women, from various teams and abilities, meet and try and ride fast with each other, further developing the local women's racing scene. The purpose of this weekly ride is to ride hard, practice your attacks, sprints, counter attacks, etc. all within the company of a bunch of fast women cyclists. Most of those who turn out are category 3 and 4 racers who have raced at least a year or two, but all women are welcome. That's a good thing for me and my developing cyclist-legs. Yes, they even welcome triathletes! In fact, last week there were two of us tri-sport types, and we both did fine.

This ride is run as a drop ride, meaning show up ready to ride hard and be ready to work your tail off to stay with the group if needed, or ride home on your own if you get chewed up and spit out the back of the group. They are not waiting for you at the next light if you fall off the back, you can chit-chat but at your own risk of missing the next attack, and there are no hard feelings if you're the one up front pushing the pace and blowing everyone else away. That's not to say that the ride is anti-social or unsafe. We keep it friendly, but push each other as we are able and ride as hard as we can (of course, in the pack has its advantages and allows you to adjust your personal intensity to some extent, if you can stick with them!), and you always have the option of trying to cover an attack or sit up and block, just like in a race situation.

This all boils down to just the kind of suffer fest I need to start sharpening me up for the 4-day stage race in Steamboat Springs over Labor Day. And, oh, did I suffer last night! I think it was definitely harder than the week before, the attacks just never seemed to stop!

We modified the route yesterday a tad as some of the county and state roads are currently being chip sealed and are at various stages of fresh oil, tar, and gravel. We rode up 36 to Neva, then 63rd, jogged to 65th, turned right on St. Vrain Road, and rolled into Hygene before tacking on a baby-Box loop up and around Highway 66. The attacks were frequent, and I did my share of initiating them, but my legs were loudly protesting too much effort. Twice I was off the back and dropped hard, but both times I willed my way back to the group. We stopped on the return through Hygene for fresh water (it started hot last night!), then headed south on 75th to Neva/Niwot road and retraced our path to the Bus Stop. I lead the pack up Neva and covered attacks up until Highway 36 was in sight, but my legs were toast by the time we reached the small climb up to the highway, and I soon found myself spit out the back again.

Ahead were 3 of my teammates and 2 other fast chicas, and behind me were two more who joked that they were not connected to anyone who had stolen my legs for the night (where did they go???). As we rolled back into town, I caught Tasha and Lorna, but the other 3 were out of sight off the front. Fast!

What a great night! It was beautiful out there, not just because of the lovely Front Range scenery, but because of the healthy dose of Fast and Hard that we kept throwing at each other. And we even threw in a little double pace line on Highway 66 just for kicks. Good stuff!

I rode all the way back to the start then turned for home, turning on my two headlights and rear blinky tail light as the daylight was fastly fading. I took the ~4 miles of downhill and flat to try and spin out the legs some, but still needed ~30 minutes in the NormaTech to flush them out well enough to sleep last night. There is hope that my legs are making a return from Ironman Lake Placid! Yeah!

Ride on (and join us next week, if you're a local chica)!

P.S. One of the night's highlights was getting home and having dinner waiting. E spoils me! On the menu was home made fried rice with odds and ends from the fridge, including veggies from our CSA allotment, yum! Fried rice was the perfect accompaniment for fried bike-legs!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend Update

What a weekend!

Our planned ride to Estes Park through Glenhaven was aborted at ~2 h. E's legs were protesting the thought of 100 miles and lots of climbing on their first real bike ride back after IM Lake Placid (this one has been rough on us). Even the promise of cinnamon rolls was not strong enough for them to come around. So we turned for home when we saw the oil on the road(freshly applied for this week's chip-seal work up by Carter Lake) and enjoyed a tail wind (had been riding into a strong NNE head wind) for the return. We both figured a flatish 60 mile spin was a good start for our return to bike fitness. And the original trip was only postponed for a few weeks, not cancelled. I still need me some cinnamon rolls (and I love that Big Thompson climb)! Maybe we'll recruit a few other crazy folk to join us next time....

Then it was off to do some cooking, baking (zucchini bundt cakes are now filling the deep freeze), dinning (thanks for coming over Beth and Keagan!), and bike building. Sunday saw more of the same, with a side of yard work and laundry thrown in for good flavor. Now the cherries are all done for the year (our tree gave us close to 4 gallons this year!) and the last of the BIG zucchini are shredded and all baked up into breads and cakes.

In the end, I was tired and sore, which seems odd since training was so "light" this weekend. Must have been all that baking!


Friday, August 13, 2010

IM Lake Placid Race Report: A's version

As E already relayed, we had a nice trip out from Denver to Burlington, VT (who knew that tons of other people would be trying to catch the parking shuttle at 4:30 in the morning?). The 6 am flight was a bit rough, but we were prepared with homemade meals, and a ~2pm arrival was a nice treat (flying East is always a chore from Denver, but this was better than our usual red-eye into NYC where you leave at ~midnight and arrive at 6am, the perks of traveling to race, not for vacation or business!).
A nice late lunch on Church Street got us fed a decent, bigger meal, then we pointed the rental car North and West and headed for the ferry crossing of Lake Champlain. Our plan was then to drive in and preview ~1/2 the bike course, from Ausable Forks all the way to Lake Placid as we made our way over to our lodging in Saranack Lake. Heavy rain challenged this plan, you couldn't see much, but we got a sense that the area was green, pretty, and somewhat hilly. Once we found NCCC (North Country Community College) we had some trouble finding check-in for the dorms. Eventually we backtracked and parked near a building with "Visitor" parking spots, only to read a sign with directions on where to go to check in (back out towards the entrance, then left, right, left over the RR tracks, right, and first building on the right. No we did not get it right on our first try, but by our 3rd or 4th try we found it!).
As we moved in, we learned that our accommodations were a bit more rustic than we anticipated. Luckily, we were able to just roll with it. We unpacked our clothes into the dresser and headed out for a quick run to loosen up and shake out the travel, then found dinner and a grocery store (bought bars of soap and contemplated a cheap shower curtain).

That was Wednesday. The next couple of days we settled in, laid low, and got ready to race. We had 2 GREAT swims in mirror lake, picked up our bikes from TriBike Transport, rode the only flat miles of the course to spin out the legs and make sure the bikes shipped fine (between Upper Jay and Jay), and read and rested. I was sleeping well (not the case before St. George), we were fueling well (cutting back on fiber, still no coffee for me until race morning), and all signs were good. The only small hiccup was my watch dying (I use the timer to remind me to eat and drink on the bike) during our second Mirror Lake Swim. I swung into the expo, though, and picked up a new one at the Timex booth (I may have paid too much for it, but it sure was convenient to just stop in there and get a new one right away).

This trend continued race morning. We woke early (4 am, I think) and tried not to make too much noise and wake our suite-mates, Tommy (from Long Island) and Rob (from 'Jersey). A breakfast of pop-tarts (no fiber), banana, juice with carbopro, and coffee (no coffee maker or french press, so some Starbucks via thingies from the grocery) and we were out the door. Rob had shared his secret parking spot with us the night before, so we headed there and got pretty close to transition. Then we got body marked, did a warm-up hike out to the special needs drop off spots, and headed back to transition to add nutrition to the bike, pump up tires, apply body glide, and turn in our dry clothes bags. Somewhere in there I lost my swim cap, but I easily picked up a new one on the beach.
Once we were fully in our wetsuits, we headed into the water, swam a tiny bit, then floated over to the shore opposite the beach to stand and wait a bit for the pro start before finding our spots. We ended up in the middle, ~3 people back from the banner (start line). It was a beautiful morning, a great day to race! Off in the west, a tunderstorm cloud was building, but it was also sunny where we were.

The cannon fired and we started to swim. This swim is 2 loops, a short beach run in the middle. The course is a long, skinny rectangle and the buoys are set on a cord that runs the length of the course, a meter or two below the surface. The whole way out to the turnaround on the first loop I spent passing people. I was to the right and just out of sight of the cord, but tracked well due to the total number of people also tracking off that line.

Part way down, my right hip flexor started to cramp. Uh-oh! I ignored it as best I could and swam on. The return of that first loop went smoothly, but I began to notice some rubbing under my right armpit. I was in my sleeveless wetsuit and the leash for the zipper was caught up in there. I fixed that during my beach "run" (more of a walk for me as I was fixing my clothing, and I still forgot to look for my split time on the clock!) and all was good for the second lap. Except now it seemed like everyone was passing me, not the other way around. I swam steady and strong, but added a left calf cramp to my right hip flexor stiffness/pain and got a small nick in my nose from another racer's watch (I think that was my only real contact during the swim, pretty good for a 2700+ person start in a tiny lake! At that point, though, we were almost done and I decided to just chill a bit, there was no reason to get hurt too early in the day). My 1:04 was an OK time. A tad slower than the 1:00-1:03 I was hoping for, but in the ballpark. My sleeveless wetsuit is easy to strip and I was soon carrying it and running down the road toward T1.
T1 was as quick as I could make it (on with the helmet, race number and belt, socks and shoes, sunglasses, and a swipe of chamios butt'r) but the long run on the road from the lake to the Oval makes this a slower T1 than some. I had a much smoother mount than at St. George, and was soon flying through town and out onto the course.

The first loop of the bike went well and I finished it right on target for pace and effort (both perceived exertion and heart rate, but I was only glancing at this every so often and getting "real time" readings). E passed me early in the first loop, after Keene I think. We ended up staying close to each other for ~10 miles before he moved on ahead. My nutrition was spot on for the whole bike: 4 powergels, 1 bottle of carbopro-nuun with ~200 kcal, 4-5 bottles of Powerbar Perform drink (really like that stuff, goes down easy and worked well for me), and 4-5 bottles of water in the front aero bottle with The Right Stuff electrolyte concentrate added (this was the key to good nutrition for me, I think, 4 doses of The Right Stuff). Oh, and 1 gasX. I meant to take 2 of the 3 gasX I was carrying, but lost my 2 spares somewhere out there on course. My second loop on the bike felt good, solid, and strong, and I hit a faster speed on The Big Downhill since it was less crowded this time (just over 55 mph, I think), but I lost a bit of focus on the climb up from Wilmington and gave up a fair bit of time (7+ minutes!) there unintentionally.

As I rode back into town that last time, I was focused on a fast T2. I had decided to ride with my road shoes, not my tri shoes, so I was not able to get my feet out and leave my shoes on my bike (I tried, wasn't going to happen), but I was still able to run in them, grab my bag off the rack thingy, get into the right change tent, swap shoes, socks, and headware, and get out in ~2:30. What I forgot to do was pee. And I had to GO. Luckily, I have skills, and before the first aid station (at 0.4 miles, I think they said) that problem was gone. All this might explain why I said nothing to Lisa as she cheered for me on the way out of T2 (thanks Lisa, I was just in the zone, and it wasn't even the run zone yet!).

I quickly settled into my pace on the run. I felt good. After my pee, and a gel and gasX, I was flying. Comfy, steady, on target. I was happy. I was making my dreams come true! This feeling survived until I was back in town and nearing mile marker 10. Kerrie had just passed me looking strong (on her way to running the fastest run of the day for the female age groupers) but I knew something was off with my tummy. I had been taking in a cup of drink at each aid station and using the icy sponges to stay clean and cool, but my lower GI was off having its own raucous party. And the party was OVER. A quick (1:33 or so) pit stop in a non-locking porta-potty and I was back, running very strong, and cruising uphill and into town. Justin Daerr passed me on his way to the finish and I used him to pull me up the hill, through the second turn around, and then to slingshot me off into my last run lap.

I started my 2nd lap and felt strong and solid. It was time to hold onto that feeling and start creeping up, faster if I could. I held steady until mile ~18, then noticed my hands and fingers start to get tingly. It was odd. Odder yet was my response: I just settled in, on auto pilot, and got it done. I started taking cola at each aid station, and upped it to 2 cups of drink, too, so that was at least 3 cups per aid station. My tummy felt great and stayed that way until the finish (this is a MAJOR victory for me, first time in 7 ironmans that the nutrition was spot on). I started having to walk the aid stations, though, so that I could grab all those cups before I got to the other end. I moved onward, but in kind of a blur. And I guess I was in full-on shuffle mode here, not really "running" anymore.

But I was not aware of any of this. I was getting it done and was just unaware of how much I had slowed. The final 8 miles were a blur. That is really all I remember. I came back into town, climbed the hills, got a big smile as I saw E heading for the Oval and the finish as I headed out for the final turn around, and then joined him there myself. Here are some screen shots of the first and second loops of the run. You can see my potty stop, and then how pace slowed with ~8 miles to go, and where I walked the aid stations.

Lap 1 of the run... see my potty stop at mile ~10?

Lap 2 of the run.... what happened with 8 miles to go, and can you see where I was walking the aid stations?

In the end, I PRed the race by 49 seconds and PRed the run (for an Ironman) by ~2 minutes but missed my goal times (total and for the run) each by ~16 minutes. That's a lot. Could I have made that up all on the run? Not sure. Am I frustrated? Yes. Am I still oddly pleased at that race I have, the effort I gave, and the outcome? Yes. Do I have any clue what happened and why? No.

I was really ready to run a 3:40. Trained and ready. It was not a reaching goal, not a pipe dream, it was doable, oh so very doable. In the end, though my nutrition finally seemed spot on, I was likely under fueled on the run. I had planned to use race drink as my sole source of fuel, but had neglected to think about dosing using their cups. I probably was not getting enough of anything. And the gel I grabbed, off the table after some hunting and gathering, with 2 miles to go was too little, a lot too late.

After finishing, I was exhausted. And Sore. All over, everywhere. I saw E, bust still used my Volunteer Catcher to walk over to the athletes food area and sit. 1 bottle of water, 1 slice of pizza, 1 ham sandwich, pretzels, grapes, 3 cookies were consumed while we sat and chatted with Kerrie and Kau. Then I changed into better clothes, and we went to the car to drop off gear and grab the wheel bag. Next was a trip to tribike transport to drop off the bikes, then we headed onto the run course to cheer for people. We swung into the Lake Placid Brewery, but the wait for a table was over an hour, so we went to their tent out front and bought a hamburger and chips to share, and 1 beer each. Then we headed back to the dorms and chatted with our room mates (Rob had a good day cheering, but Tommy missed the bike cut-off and was trying to cope with his first DNF). As usual, I slept very little that night due to being sore everywhere.

The next day, I was still sore all over! Deep breathing was impossible (so was deep sighing, like when the 3rd and final Kona slot rolled to 4th place and she took it, I was 5th). And laughing? Not an option.

We had a good morning in Lake Placid before rolling out and heading to Plattsburgh where we had a room booked in an awesome B&B (it was Eric's birthday, AND this was halfway back to the airport). It was so relaxing there! We ventured into town for dinner, then picked up a pint of banana fudge ice cream for dessert, which we shared in their mosquito-proof gazebo.

The next day we took the ferry over to VT, drove down to Burlington, and spent a few hours roaming Church Street and the lake front. It was a nice day, but HOT, so we didn't walk too much or too fast. Our flight wasn't until after 7 pm, so we had time to kill. We wandered, then lunched at the Vermont Brewery, then went to the used book store, then wandered some more. In the end, we went to this "museum" called the Outdoor Gear Exchange and looked at a lot of things made in Colorado. I enjoyed Burlington, the state of VT, and the Adirondacks very much, and would love to go back there again. It was a great trip!

One final thought: I am not sure why I am so troubled by missing my goal times, and the Kona slot. I had a great race. I was fairly steady loop to loop. I nailed my nutrition, before (can anyone say breakfast for dinner???) and during the race. The weather was PERFECT for me, definitely not too hot like it can be at Canada. I am plagued by some of what Kerrie says, here, yet for me some of it IS about the journey, and for me, I get to share the training hours and miles with my family (and my best friend, E). Yet I missed my goals, and that is very hard (for my ego) to swallow and move on.

I guess the conclusion I am reaching is that Ironman is just not for me. I did well, learned lots, and had fun preparing and racing 7 of these things over the last 5 years, but I am just not as good at this as I want to think I am. I can run a good open marathon, I can rock an Olympic distance tri, I'm a good skier, and I can hike with the best of them, but this Ironman thing, not so much. That's OK, next year's race still sold out before lunch the next day, so there are enough others out there to keep this thing going! And I am trying to tell myself that this is not giving up, it is moving on to something else. Work with me here.... and come along for the ride if you wish.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

A free Forerunner 310xt?!

So, my Ironman Lake Placid race report is coming, but I'll give you a little preview: my Garmin (the Forerunner 301) worked great during the race, but did not want to download to the computer for analysis until yesterday.

I was pretty frustrated about this. So frustrated that I started pricing out a new wrist-based training device. I've been ooogling the Timex GPS Global Trainer and the Garmin Forerunner 310XT. While trying to decide which would best meet my needs, I have been trying to compare how the two "watches" are similar to and different from each other.

A great resource in this regard has been the reviews done on Ray Maker's blog. His review secion is here. He does great, indepth reviews on all sorts of tri-geek gadgets, and today he posted a new product giveaway: a Forerunner 310XT. I was so excited, I just wanted to share the news with anyone who happens to read our blog (and by so doing, also earn an extra "golden ticket" for the giveaway). So get over there, check out his blog (updated near-daily and always a good read), and get yourself entered into the giveaway if you want.

In other news, we are enjoying our Colorado summer, post-Ironman. We have been doing a little swimming back in the pool, but except for last Sunday's hike, have avoided applying excessive amounts of sun screen and have yet to create an overabundance of water bottles.

Happy Summer!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

E's Lake Placid Race Report Part 1

We headed to the northlands of New York on Wednesday before the race. The 6 am flight out of Denver was a bit rough, but got us into Burlington, VT (the Boulder, Austin, or Madison of Vermont) by mid-day. Losing 2 hrs of time zones and having a connection meant any route would take the good part of the day. We were on the same flights as some of the WTC folks which should us got into the VIP stuff, but somehow didn't pan out.

Anyways, from Burlington, we took a ferry over to the state of New York (the short one as the weather wasn't conducive to sightseeing), which meant our day included planes, boat, and automobiles (not quite the same as planes, trains, and automobiles). We drove half of the bike course (Ausable Forks to Lake Placid) in the rain. The village of Lake Placid itself is a bit of a tourist mecca (reminded me of Estes Park), but we kept going to our accommodations in Saranc Lake. Our accommodations were the dorm rooms at North Country Community College. NCCC, I've lived in dorms. I've stayed in dorms. Dorms were a home of mine. NCCC dorms, you're no dorms. More like nice prison rooms. But, they were the cheapest option by a New York mile (Same as a regular mile, its really just the minutes that are different).

Looking back, if we had know that there was a kitchen in the main building before the last day, we wouldn't have been so disappointed with the kitchenette (microwave and mini fridge). If there was soap anywhere, we wouldn't have been so disappointed. If there was a shower door or curtain, we wouldn't have been so disappointed. If we hadn't gotten the smallest room in the suite, while the two other individuals who stayed there each got a bigger room, we wouldn't have been so disappointed. If our room wasn't right next to the bathroom with its jet engine toilet, we wouldn't have been so disappointed. If the sheets weren't so thin that the plastic mattress felt clammy as hell, we wouldn't have been so disappointed.

But, it was away from the chaos that was the village of Lake Placid and the other guys in our suite (Bob and Tom) were nice.

On to Thursday... Picked up bikes. Got the wristband. Swam a loop. Biked the flat section. Ate dinner at nice BBQ place with live music. Went back to prison, I mean the dorm rooms.

Friday was a bit of swimming, time at the expo, and going to the athlete's meeting.

Saturday was the normal day of freaking out, dropping bike and bags off, and early dinner. For dinner we tried the Beth method and went for a breakfast at HoJo's (one of two restaurant only Howard Johnson's). Worked pretty well, but wouldn't recommend anything but the breakfast there :).

Sunday (aka Race Day)
We headed to Placid, parked and headed to transition. Body marking had no wait when we showed up (we'll be body marking at the Boulder 70.3 to return the karma). The special need bags drop off was a workout in itself as it was like a thousand million miles down the road. Okay, maybe not that bad, but still a bit of a trek. The rest of getting the bike ready when pretty well. Sunscreen application was next and then it was time to head over to the swim start. A lost her swim cap (actually in her bag), but got one at the swim start. I think we got in the water before the pro's started but memory ain't so good no more. After the pro's went we moved into position (near the middle, a few rows back).

The plan I had was to swim wide of the line on the way out for the first lap, work to the line around the turn around and follow the line for the second half of the first lap and the whole second lap. For those not in the know, the line is a cable that runs the length of the swim course about 3 to 8 feet underwater (visible the whole way) and the buoys are connected to it. Since nearly everyone wants to swim on the line, I thought it would be suicidal to try to swim the line at the beginning, so we started in the middle. But, the peep's that started on the outside thought they should get to the line right away and I felt herded to the inside right away. Anyways, a few moments of near panic on the first section as it was crowded as anything. Got to the line at the turn around and followed it in. I probably hit about 20 of the little buoys, 7 of the big ones, and the line a few times (when it was shallow) throughout the swim, but at least I swam straight. I came out for the 1st lap of the swim in 33 or so and knew I was on a good pace (for me). The 2nd lap was still entertaining as I got my cheek kicked hard once and pummeled a bit trying to stay on the line. Second lap must have been about the same time as the total time was 1:06:16. Best IM swim time by a couple of minutes. Not surprising as my pace in the pool has been improving (right in time to stop doing triathlons...)

Oh, time to make some dinner. To be continued.....