Sunday, May 31, 2009

More Pics from the North Shore and...

Busy week so I am just posting some pics instead of a thoughful post. Life. Work. Last big build before my FIRST ( EEKS) Half IM in 2 weeks has left me a bit brain dead. Oh and Rafa just lost in the French so I have to devote some time to my man the FED now that the man who has beaten him 4x in the last 4 years is step up!! GO! Ok back to this post...

This is how we travel. Best rack out there, Thule. Get one.

Best parents in the world. 80 something and still going strong.

Best Burritos in MN. If you are ever doing Grandma's or have the guts to do the Burrito Union 10 hour Tri ( yes you can do it as a team...mix and match sports or whatever you want) you will have to try their stuff. SO GOOD. The Fat Capitalist is one of the better ones and they name the others after Lenin, Stalin, etc...super cheap too! Oh and beer too!
Rich posing...he looks pale and hungry. We just finished a ride. Get him some food.

Ok back to life. He has his color back now. And Cherry coke so he can drive us home to the cities from Duluth.

This is just a funny name for a pub. Or maybe I just thought it was.

Fun times with sister Elizabeth..

My super nephews, and Joe's pet Frog that i think he suffocated by mistake. Isnt it funny how little boys just want to hold onto rodents, snakes, frogs, whatever it is? I mean seriously. Joe wouldnt put it down. Then he couldnt figure out why it stopped moving. Um...sorry.

My sister Heide. Living the life in Houston..send some heat ok? She will be home with Chippy for my mom's 80th and for the big party ( wedding!) in November.

The River in front of our cabin that runs into Lake Superior. I think reverse osmosis was pulling that water up from the lake bc it was about 1 degree warmer than the lake. Brr.

Ruby had her first trip up North. She didnt like the car ride in a cage but she sure had fun running around and playing. I need to get some more pics of her. Her HOT red coat is quite gorgeous in the spring sun.
And in 2 weeks this is what I will be doing. I get a pit in my stomach thinking about it, but really..if i can have a sunny day like this that would be great. More importantly I am so lucky to get to race and since I have done my homework and it is my first Half I get to set a PR!!!
My only fear really is that i will have a my bike and wheels will have an extended check next weekend, rest assured...But this deserves its own i ride a tubular disk I am screwed if i flat so what do i need to do to be sure i wont flat? ( other than to NOT ride thru glass pre-race!) duh!

Happy week to you all and enjoy spring!!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Views from my Ice Bath

 I couldnt get pics of the ice bath in THE LAKE. (Superior) I think i would have dropped the camera, but the Encampment river provided nearly as chilly water.  I cannot recall a weekend on the NorthShore where we had little if any wind and sun ...full sun. Still not much above 60 degrees and a north breeze reminded us that Canadian air wasnt far from us. Great weekend. 
More later.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Gear West Du Race Report..and Butt Names!

6k-30k-4k format.

Sunday started out cool. I was up early...I dont usually like sunday races. I am usually a ball or energy and excitement + + nerves the day before and to have a saturday with nothing but a tune up and lots of time to kill often = my nerves just escalating. I handled it pretty well and since it was once again windy and actually COLD saturday I was happy to wait it out.
Still saturday night when Rich called from the north woods I was all "I wish i were there, I wish I werent here. I wish i was chopping wood and clearing trails and cleaning up after all the boys ( My dad, my brother, my 2 nephews) plus a work force of 40+ at the work weekend at the cabins..wait a minute. Did I really want to be up there and missing this race? NO. But heck when you are ready to go and you are waiting..can anyone say "pre-competition anxiety?"

And why does she have a tennis court on this blog entry? As we racked our bikes next to the Orono High tennis courts it did give me a sense of calm. On our first calm day ( wind wise) I was taken back to the times when i would enter those courts and in the bright cold sunshine, work myself into a trance of repetitive motion. For now the sound of clean hit on the sweet spot of the racket, and the crunch of a well returned or hit serve has been replaced, for now, with the woosh woosh woosh of the disk wheel. Or of someone else's disk passing my disk:)

On to the race report...I havent found any official GW pics but the following were taken by Pharmie, Speedo Steve's great wife, who i found out is ALSO doing Liberty Half. YEA!

Starting "sprint"..I am tickled that i am 1/2 step in front of the great Dave Dow. I have to give him crap for that. He is just to me left and a fantastic coach at SPA, chemist at 3M, and super biker as well. And a nice guy. This is the only section of the 1st 6k that is on terra firma. Then we head to the uneven terrain. fun fun. I worked the 1st run as best i could and didnt totally kill myself. but as this went on and on, and we had 90 deg turns, 180 deg turns, uphills, bridges, soggy wood chips, cones to run around..I was thinking how tough the last 4k run would be. LATER, not now, stay here, Julia.

Leaving T1 after my T(ea) party. For the life of me if i could not waste at least 30 seconds getting my Aero helmet buckled. I mean come on...what is my problem?! Once I got out i was good to go. 1st mile was hard, but that isnt news. I took a gel about 3 miles in and washed it down with some infinit that was too strong since for the next 8 miles i had my first episodes of reflux on the bike. Check, need water, and need infinit less strong for a fast paced day. I was passed by my buddy Dave at the only hill that I needed the small ring for, a quick incline up to 24. He flew by me as I was spinning my wheels up that stinker. Back into the big ring and I was on the TNT course, the same one that less than a week ago nearly blew me over.

I love this course and the subsequent turn to 19 up to the cemetary and Hamel Road. Lots of rollers with rolling hills in between those rollers. I had a few tough spots ( read 13 mph spots) going up a few rollers but with the rest I had the week before my legs just followed as I cranked the shifters down and took the descents as a fun and sorta fast effort, all the while pedaling with as much resistance as my legs could handle. I was passing some women, mostly young-uns from the Junior team, and then came upon a woman in my age group on Hunter Road. I know Wendy, she is from chippewa falls and is a very strong runner. She was about 30 seconds ahead of me on the 1st run so I kinda hung out beside her for a bit bc I knew that Hunter road was a short road and i didnt want to try to pass her as we were turning onto a busier Hi 6. So just as we turned she got out of her saddle and started hauling. Then she sat down. Ok now, 6 had a bit of wind and some long rollers. The kind i love to grind out. So off i went. I went by her with an "on your left, good job Wendy" and off i went. I also passed a Run and Fun gal who looked quite young. She didnt smile, and didnt look to pleased to have me ride on by ..I didnt look back I just kept riding. And when we turned back towards T2 I could see that they werent close to me. Likely 20-30 seconds back. Woot woot. Keep on going. Wendy will catch you in the run but MAKE HER CATCH YOU.

T2 was alot better, and yes I took my helmet off. And yes i was not sure where the run out was even tho i had been told before we started. Thanks Marti for showing me AGAIN!

So that last 4k felt like 6k. Or more. I mean really. I dont know the last time i hurt like that. And that includes doing a 50 mile TT in hilly northern Wi, and that includes running a recent 10k ( which i think are the HARDEST races ever...) i just didnt look back. I knew Wendy was there as there are all these turns, 90 deg, 180 deg so when we went around some baseball fence and on some grass ( really I mean, you run in circles) all i could think was "SHE GALLOPPING towards me." Ok so I was at peace with it really. Pretty soon Run and Fun gal comes sprinting by me. I mean ALL OUT...And kinda gives me the stink eye. Ok maybe not felt like it:)
And i figure if i can keep her in my 10 foot range maybe i can pick it up a bit so I can hold this a bit longer. In and out, weave, wood chip, up and down and finally i can see the hill that is short but steep. WOO...Maybe i can scurry up that hill and MAYBE I can hold on. So i scurry. afraid to wipe out....someone is yelling nonstop for someone behind me but it is for a guy. Not for Wendy. So I do recall passing a guy along the way I scurry up the hill wondering if anyone face plants after that hill...I see the track. OH man. I forgot i had to run a 100 yard dash before i can get to the finishing shoot. So off i go. Not looking back. Just ahead. dont look back. PICK UP YOUR FEET.
And all the sudden Nice Erik Hull is taking my chip off and I am wheezing like someone that needs an albuterol fix.

I dont look all that bad but trust me, this is what the Pain Locker looks like.

Dave ( who passed me on the bike!) and Marti ( who got me out of T2!) Thanks you two, Fun to see you at the races. Dave is the one who I TT with and then we run. He says he is done with the craziness of T runs, hee hee. Back to TT's for Dave.

Me and Speedo steve, who got his bowl full of sunshine shorts out and did a super job in the relay. He and his brother in law improved their time by over 3 minutes and got 2nd place ...I tell ya the guy that ran for the winning relay team was hauling. He passed me both times on my run and he was moving. Good job Steve!

I managed 2nd in my AG but since Jeanne Fleck ( who has her name on her butt!) got 3rd OA I got moved up to 1st. And actually we were talking at the awards that we all wanted OUR names on our butts. Sorta. With a butt name comes expectations...hmm....and then a lively discussion of how we would alter our names ensued. fun times!

I think i was 12th female OA and with the line up of Yndebutts, Mcgaverbutts, Hullbutts, Hoagbutts, Fleckbutts...etc...I am pretty happy with the effort. But Ouch. The MCL is a bit sore camber = extra stabe needed by those supporting ligaments.

Disclaimer: As i said, to have your name on your butt you have to EARN IT. right? So those chica's aforementioned EARNED IT! I am not calling them names, really!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rest days, what to do, what to do..and sunday races!

So how is it that there happens to be a huge sale ( 80% off) Stephanies and I also find the LOOT bin online for Lululemon. Coincidence? I think not. Rest day. There was also a Title 9 warehouse sale at the fairgrounds, but since i had already found things i didnt need i figured I had already "rested" enough. I love buying jeans. When you find a pair that fits you have to buy them, and when they are ALL $50 who can resist?

Those look weird but they are capri pants, very comfy.

Like these lulu shorts but not as much as the Speed shorts. Didnt know these dont have built in undies. Tant Pis.

So why the rest day? I am heading into a du on sunday. I have never done it but it is sponsored by Gear West and will certainly challenge me! I am excited, nervous and excited...I dont usually like sunday races but I have taken today to get organized, relax and be happy that the wind MAY die down PLEASE... forecast is for COLD COLD COLD. Frost advisory. And we start at 8am. I think EVERYONE i have talked to is in wave 1 so i wonder who is in the other waves...Bueller? anyone?
I had hopes of wearing my new tri top but, um, not so much when we are looking at 30's at 8am.
Looks like LS skinsuit. Sure hope the wind dies down. I have changed my mind a few times on wheels and just hope for a safe sufferfest.
As you can tell from above this is my last race. Shall we call this "View from the shelter?" Notice i didnt get my bike in soon enough and GOGO is getting a bath while i huddle inside:)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Skills and TT season!

Not much going on other than life, wedding planning, life, work, life, training some and just enjoying the temps being somewhat normal. Normal defined as 50's and 60's. We even had some 70's last week which makes me SO happy. I did the first of many TT's we have here in MN. There is a race a week should you want it. The road at BlackDog is particularly unsafe and pot hole laden so my goal really has to be to get a good workout. If i have to pull over to not become a hood ornament, so be it. As is my Hed Bars popped a bolt down there but no cracks in my Carbon rims. I know some people have more of a HTFU attitude to that road but I just think it is crazy. And yes I am crazy to go down there then, but will go with the understanding that I stay alive and not be out $$ for broken equipment. I had a great race effortwise and then ran 20 min HARD with my buddy Dave on the trails. We timed it so Dave would pass me in the final mile of the TT and I would meet him at the car to run. Thanks dave!

As for skills....One of my workouts last week had the "PRACTICE TRANSITIONS" label in it. I am new to this sport even though I have done some Du's and a token Tri here and there and in my 20's. So when I was told to practice transitions I was like "Um, Ok." After the meat of the workout I had convinced myself that I was just going to run out of T1 in my shoes. Who cares I mean really does it matter? Then Rich said to me, "Why not do it like the pros do it? I mean that big guns do it, why not try?" So I had a little freakout moment and said "If I dont ever try it in a race I will never get the confidence to do it." So over and over again I rubber banded my shoes to the frame and worked on getting on the bike, getting up to speed, getting my feet in the shoes and pulling the flaps. Getting off is easier for me with the behind the seat leg cross over etc...but the timing still freaks me out. Last week at Alex i planned to practice this but the T area with the mount and dismount was so short, serioulsy like 5 feet? that I didnt even bother on the way out and on the way back in I all the sudden was within a 5 foot jaunt to my rack so didnt even bother. 

I realized part of what was freaking me out was the rubber bands. Once I ditched that, especially on the left shoe it was super fun. I did it over and over again and had a deja vu to my tennis days.
"ONE MORE." I felt like I was drilling skills, drilling forehands, drilling serves OVER and OVER again so much that you dont even think about it. That, to me, is the best thing in a sport and it is the first time I have felt that way in Tri. Yea cadence drills and pedal stroke drills... but that isnt the same as really executing and trying to create a motor pattern for a move or a series of moves. 

Ok granted I am about 10% there, and the cross mount isnt gonna happen cuz my seat is so dang high, but never say never. Top tube distance from my seat to the Aero bars is just more severe than on my Cross bike so I am about 0% on that one. But if anyone has advice on mounts and timing and skills let me know. Will reimburse with cupcakes, salted nut rolls or PT advice!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Birthday and Chain of Lakes Triathlon!

Lots to blog about so i will try to be concise. Ha. Not likely.

My birthday was great, despite a bit of rain that day I had a nice swim workout in the morning, went to work and then was lucky enough that my mom gave me her massage time with our super duper massage therapist. Our family all goes to see the same person and since she is so good and so hard to get into we often just book any massage we can get! I had tried to get one on April 30th but she was booked. Then early last week my mom said "do you want my Christine at 2pm on Thursday?" YOU BETCHA! Who can say no to a CHRISTINE? ( Her name obviously is Christine!) It was a great respite in a long week and i was ready for dinner out with the family. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful family that really truly LOVES to get together. Yes we have our own dysfunction I know, but all in all we really really love each other and like to laugh at each other and ourselves. Rich knows this and has had great bonding with my sister in law ( cupcake maker) Aimee, bc she knows how Mairs Clan can be. My dad has 5 brothers and sisters and you get all of my aunts and uncles together, plus the cousins...and you have a huge party. Our wedding is going to be quite a fun time. I think i may need to rest for a week before and after to keep up with my east coast cousins that plan to descend on st paul this fall. Ok off on a tangent, sorry.

Here are some fun pics from my Bday dinner:
Aimee, Me, my sister Elizabeth

Rosemary ( Rich's mom), Mom, Rich, Me, Lee, Dad, Aimee, Brian Williams..Oh i mean Rob.

Best salad! HUGE Fire Roasted Shrimp, Mango, Goat cheese, strawberries, Sun dried tomato...almonds...Yum!

And next week Rich is taking me to sushi ( yea! ) and Billy Joel/Elton John in concert. Rich is learning.
I am a pro at getting him presents that can be shared. Who do you think uses the bike box i got him for HIS birthday? hee hee. So this time he got something we both could use! a fun night out. I love Billy Joel. Elton John, well I am not convinced. Sorry If I offended anyone. And I am so excited bc my brother and sister in law and my nephews got me a ROGER FEDERER beanie baby. I mean that MAY have to be the best present EVER!

Oh and I did my first Tri of the season saturday in Alexandria, MN about 140 miles NorthWest of the cities.
Now when i signed up it seemed like a good idea. I wanted to do a tri, not just a du, before my first ever half IM in june. With timing and Jen's silly advice that i cant race every weekend like i used to when bike racing I didnt have much choice since i really wanted to do the Gear West Du in a few weeks. This left no options for races before Lliberty in june unless I raced the weekend beforehand. And that was a no. I know it isnt silly advice, but try telling a winter bound athlete that is excited to not sign up for every race she can possibly dream of when she is snowbound and it is 20 below. Dreams. Alas this race "appeared to be nearby" and was short and would allow me to practice at least some transistions, even if it was a pool swim. And then about 2 weeks ago I realized that registration opened at 7am and It was a good 2 1/2 hour drive up there. Crap.

Now most of you know me as a morning person. I like mornings. I am most productive in the am. But when your alarm is set for 4am and you roll over mid hibernation at 3:55AM the only thing to say is "NOOOOO."
Rich once again gets the gold star Sherpa style for coming along and allowing me to pretend to sleep more in the car at least until the lights came on. ( sun came up) He got a good 70 mile ride in while i was playing around so I think he was just happy to hit the trails and not ride in the cities. I also got him a pulled pork sandwich from the nice youth Alexandria swim team that was selling lunch and of course the caribou cooler on the way out of town. And I drove home. So we are all even now!

Race report : ok finally.

Swim: 600 yard pool swim. Interesting thing about this is that it is self seeded and they assign you a lane. We had no warmup so...the first 100 was great, then I kinda lost wind for about 200 yards and then settled into a good pace. I led the lane, 2 people drafted off me the entire way and at one point the gal kinda tapped me at 500 yards. I was like "huh," should i let her go? I just sped up. After that i felt kinda bad. I asked her and she said she was not trying to pass me. She was over 6 feet and was swimming in my draft so at times when i pushed off the wall after a flip she was so close that she would touch me. Whatever. not gonna worry bout it. Ran out of the pool and out the gym doors across the mat to the bike area. ( note, it was kinda cool bc there were so many waves that the wave after yours would be sitting right in the bleechers near the lane and as each person finished their 600 everyone would CHEER! when you got out. pretty neat. thanks!)

T1: Ok so, I have never really practiced T's. So this year one big thing i want to learn to do is not take 2+ minutes in the T zones. But when you exit the pool ( that was 82 degrees, but felt really nice!) to this outside temp of 36..

How can you not be a bit ??? about hopping on your bike to ride your butt off for 13 mi. I mean i had my fast bike, my fast wheel and i didnt intend to coast. Brr. Granted this temp was closer to 7am, but by 9am it hadnt all the sudden become 70 degrees.

I ran out to the bikes and threw on a top and ..yes knee warmers. I know i know. Time. But the thing that held me up the most was i couldnt get my aero helmet buckled. Gotta work on that. I was out of there and didnt get a chance to practice with my shoes in the clips bc literally the in and out space was about 10 feet. My rack position was right near the in and out so i was good. No issues other than getting gloves on my hands and i was off. 2.02. ugh.

Bike: My temp was fine. I was happy to have the knee warmers on my legs, and for those of you who know me, the chicken legs were happy bc they were cold and wet in my unitard suit. Bike was good. Kinda hilly kinda windy on the back stretch but 13miles. I wanted to keep it above 20 mph and I think i did a good job of that other than into a bit of a headwind and uphill at about mile 8-12. Passed all the women from the 1st swim wave and had to do a fair amount of ON YOUR LEFT's. I tried to say good job to them as i passed bc I feel kinda dorky flying by them with a disk wheel when some are riding upright MTB's. I felt good spinning in and actually DID get the feet out of the shoes and was ready to do the back leg over the seat cross dismount and then all the sudden i was in the 2 foot mount/dismount area and so i didnt have time and just hopped off. Progress though!

T2: bike racked. run shoes on. Oh yes threw off my shirt. time time time I know. Grabbed my race belt and off i went. Better. 42 seconds. Still too long.

Run: OMG my first thought was "my quads feel like ice picks." shuffle shuffle shuffle. My race unitard dealie was still wet and my quads were obviously still riding the first 1/2 mile. I kept shuffling along and finally around 3/4mile i felt like i could finally stride a bit, got my breath and got my mojo going. I got into a pace that seemed to be just fine. I think i could have maybe gone a bit faster the last 2 miles but I just kept passing people and then all the sudden it was the flags to run to the finish. The ladies I passed had some really good enouragement for me and i tried to reply with a smile and a "you too!" I mean there was some serious Girl Power going on out there and it was so neat!
I made sure to talk to some of them after they finished and congratulate them as well.

Finish: since we were in waves I came in alone and knew that I did the best I could! I have a tendancy to feel that way, then get my print out of times or see that I missed a place by 10 seconds ( the time i had that extra cup of tea in the Transition area) and so this time I promised myself I would NOT do that. I promised Rich i would not spend the car ride home saying "IF IF IF." Yes I think i could have swum a bit faster and yes I think i could have run a bit faster...but I didnt. And I had fun. I was glad i got up at 3:fricking 55am and I was glad I got out and raced.

Rich arrived back from his ride and despite missing his "go JULIA!" cheers and the photo ops it was nice that he got in a great ride himself. At that point my quads were starting to get tight so I quickly went to the bathroom and we went to cool down on the trails for another 10 miles or so.

Here are some random pics from the day:

yes Marco, this is why I need LIME GREEN Recovery Sox!

Me accepting my 40-49 yo 1st place award. I was 2nd OA female to Jen L, who is from Alexandria! How cool is that? She had her high school coaches there cheering for her:)
Me and my Sherpa, who ended up riding 70 miles instead of sherpa-ing but that was fine with me:) who needs a sherpa for a sprint tri? not me. Ride at 4am, yes. Cowbell for a 600/13/3, no that is ok. really.
I realized I didnt get a race pic yesterday so this is staged today after our 70 mile ride. Road bikes. Weird. I almost went into the aero bars and realized i didnt have any on my Bianchi. good call. Thanks to coach Jen and all the Verve Racing sponsors, June who keeps me caffeinated on a controlled basis. Wade who with ART keeps me healthy, and Excel cycle thru your generosity keeps my bike healthy and my nutrition ( other than Infinit) costs down.