Monday, May 23, 2011

Mud, Sweat and Cupcakes: Gear West Duathlon Race Report

Well the muddiest gear west duathlon i have ever done has come and gone. I have only done this race twice, and the 1st year it was COLD and last year it was HOT. But it was dry. When we had ongoing monsoon rains for 3 days prior to sunday's race i knew it was going to be an "interesting" race. This is a primarily "off road" duathlon ( runs) that is 5k 30k ( or maybe its 28k, not sure its about 17 miles) and then a 4k. The 1st run has 1k on the roads then you turn into the fields and the marsh area and its all grass and wetlands. This year it WAS VERY WETlands!

It wouldnt be a taper week and a rest day saturday without some Julia drama. I woke up and had the worst upper calf pain. It was like someone had kicked me in the medial gastroc behind my knee. I was super freaked out and not sure what to think. I did my spin ( inside, it was pouring rain) and it felt tight. But running was fine. I wore compression socks and ran on the TM ( did i say it was pouring?) and i knew that if i had torn or hurt something on my rest day, you know, working my normal job, which requires heavy standing around and rigourous teaching of senior balance classes and attending meetings ( do you sense my sarcasm?) well i know rest days can be evil. I chalked it up to?? I dont know. Later i did remember i walked into the bike rack behind my car, but i didnt remember that till after the race. So anyways I was totally a mess saturday. Again thinking i bruised easily from nothing.

So Anyways onto the race. I swore i wouldnt be one of those "people" who wore compression socks, espc white ones:) On a muddy day, but sorry for that comment bc I wasnt taking any chances. It wasnt that hot out so it was fine. And no, they are still really dirty:)

We started in the elite competive wave and there were a few women that took it out SO FAST I was like "Whoa, who is the track star?" I held my own knowing that my heavy breathing was likely annoying the person who i was behind, but i kept at it. This year they shortened the course a tad bc part of the trail was under water, so instead of climbing the giant hill and heading into T1 you had to do a lap around the gravel track. IT was fine on lap 1 and for some reason i didnt think much about the fact that this could become a track race with a 400 ++ sprint to the finish.

I came into T1 right behind Diane who is in this picture with me. I race with Diane alot and i know how fit she is early in the season. She went ot Bous with me last fall so we were at it again! She got out just ahead of me but i was hot on her tail!
Special thanks goes to Hannah who was my fashion consultant prior to the race, when i sent here a pic of my kiwami openback with a VERY stylish and awesome run swiftly SS t shirt UNDER the suit she said : I mean this in the nicest way, but that looks DORKY! Yup. I was just afraid of the cold and I mean that bc i have not ridden outside this spring in anything but knee warmers arm warmers a vest etc..its been that cold. But Sunday was HUMID! So i went for it. I was fine by the way, likely didnt need the arm warmers but as soon as the sun came out it went under so i just left em on. Not overheated at all.
Exiting T1.
photo compliments Nick Morales
The ride was great. I did my best to stay on top of things and not let her out of my sight, but i would gain on the uphills and she would pull away on the descents. The story of my life:) but it was nice to have her and Julie Hull, too, out there in my sights. Then about mile 13 she came back to me, but two other women came up on us too. We had a bike race! ( legally of course) we had to juggle a bit to keep it that way and at one point Sue ( another awesome masters athlete) sat back then surged ahead. Sarah ( another masters athlete and super biker) was right near me and as the last hill approached i gunned it and got away. Sarah later caught me into T2 but i was really happy with my legs on that ride. They were there and they did it legally.

So Diane and I hit the trails again, and i felt bad bc I was breathing SO HARD. I think it must have been annoying. The only real "blooper" to this race was that i thought they were handing out water as we left T2 but they were handing out Heed, or somehow i got that and if there is one thing I CANNOT drink its Heed. Especially that awful MELON flavor. Oh boy I had to make sure i didnt swallow that bc I had a green apple powergel already sitting in my stomach ( you can see the wrapper in my top, LOL i forgot about it till i got home!) but it ended up all over my face and suit and hands. ICK.

I ran and i ran and about 1 mile in i just felt like i didnt want to settle on her pace bc I knew Sarah and Sue and Jan ( yes another masters athlete, dang!) were close behind. So i went ahead and paved the trail. But at this point it was SO BAD that there was no line at all. Every step was squishy and the grass just sunk as you ran. Here on one of the trails I got caught with a naughty comment. Sorry. I just saw it and said what it looks like i am saying "SHHH, quiet back here guys there is a race going on." hahaha. And yes I had to jump in eventually.

photo compliments Denny Johnson
There are enough out and back sections that you can see who is chasing you and in my opinion its REALLY hard to tell if they are gaining on you or not. So i just kept on pushing. This is right after climbing the big hill and "usually" you run straight on in about 150 yds to the finish. Not this year. You "got" to run a lap on the gravel track. Oh joy. I was too afraid to look so i didnt. I just ran ran ran. I kept thinking " this hurts like crazy, and it probably hurts more than the last 6 mile of an IM and its going to be over in less than 2 minutes so just GO HARDER."
I have no idea, but with my first IM coming up i had to think about it and use it to motivate me.

Finally I made the 400 and Kevin, the owner of Gear West Triathlon and Bike and my new team sponsor said " YES JULIA, you are pulling away from the women......( pause) but...Sue looks strong." That was enough to get me to kick it in like there was someone right next to me. I sorta wanted to look but at that point i was just going to RUN. and not the most photographic pic of me, but i got there in one piece.
run and T1 photos compliments Steve and Sarah Stenzel ( and baby)
One of the nicest things is meeting new people at races and i met a few new people who are also masters women. I am so impressed with the level of women racing here in the midwest. It's pretty awesome. Then I also want to give a shout out to Julie and Erik Hull. Julie was ahead of me but how in the world that girl has the lungs to shout my name more than a few times on the last run is beyond me. I read that her HR went into the 180's, i bet if she werent so nice and supportive she could run in the 160's!
I on the other hand was proud that i didnt have a tea party in transition, and that i didnt talk to everyone and try to greet them as they passed me on the bike:) Yes I know, I have good manners. That is what the after party is for I know!

Kort, Me and Karen ( yes another super masters athlete) showing off our mudlines. Kort took 4th OA and KAren placed high in our 45-49 AG.

I hung around long enough to watch the dark clouds come in, the tornadoes start to form to the north of us ( yes, really, not a good MN weather day) and earn my first paycheck for top masters! I was 6th OA behind a strong field, including Julie who was 5th. I am quite happy with the race and the fact that my leg was fine. It felt bruised but i could run on it so i know there was no muscle tear or damage.
And of course...what would a race be without a cupcake? And not just A CUPCAKE. THE BEST out there from my sister in law's bakery SWEET. If you chose post race to be on a diet that is a shame bc the banana cupcakes are literally to die for. Melt in your mouth goodness with none of that fake banana flavor, these are real bananas. Oh and no these are tennis cupcakes bc the other ones all got eaten. And Yes I do have a cupcake sponsor, which is a dangerous thing, trust me.
I would be very very remiss to not mention my hubby's FANTASTIC duathlon debut. He rocked it and had a smile on his face on the track that last lap. What a sport. He finished 4th in his AG and yes, there were more than 4 people in the AG( he wants everyone to know that!) his bike was the 2nd fastest and he managed the run like a star. So our basement looked alot like this today:

Thank you so much to Hannah, Kevin, and ALL the Gear west Staff and all the volunteers, what a great day. Oh I lied I did thank the corner marshalls bc in the rain that is a pretty awful job standing out there watching us whiz by on bikes. Thanks to Heather, my PT at New Heights who puts up with me walking into things and to my finicky glute muscles ( that have decided to report to duty again thankfully) and to my lovely hubby. Who actually thinks i am crazy but loves me even more bc of it. Wow too many people to thank, Jen ( of course!)Wade at Folske Spine and Rehab for ART and Michelle for being so fantastic....ok I will stop but i just realized how many people in my life keep me in one piece. Yes you think 40 yo is rough, wait till you hit 45:) LOL. kidding ( not really)

Up next?

How about some time on the yellow brick road with my homies Chrissie and Renee? Sounds good to me!

Friday, May 20, 2011


Well looks like I need to post again to get the missing post off of some of your blogrolls. Gotta love that. Anyways its race weekend, time to run bike run. Not much to say other than this race is tough, really tough, hilly and hilly and off road. But i love it. So much that i get all excited even thinking about the hills!
So have a fun weekend everyone, good luck to racers and spectathletes and lets hope for sun on the weekend. What a novel idea.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

First TT and Spring?

So summer arrived or is it spring? Tuesday nights and some Wednesday nights are TT nights in the metro. Last year at the first TNTT ( Tuesday Night Time Trial) it was so windy i bailed. I got blown off the road and i decided that riding 15 mph to stay upright was not a good plan so i just quit. I have never done that before and so this year when it was supposed to be in the 80's and humid i thought FOR SURE it would be ideal. There is always a bit of wind on this course so you can never have an EASY day, but it all seems to work out and you get a good effort in.
We got there after fighting traffic for WAY too long ( we live east, this is in the western metro) and in our short warmup it started to sprinkle, and lightening, and thunder in the distance.
Hmm, do are ceramic bearings more conductive than?? I just figured if i needed to pull over i would.

The details of the race arent that thrilling. Ride hard 5.5 miles, turn around at the bottom of a hill and ride back. Simple, eh? Well Its TT number 1 and my goal was to take a look into that pain locker and see how many toes and fingers i could get in there before i pulled out and wanted to sit on the sidelines and not go inside. The good thing is that once you are in there, you sorta just want to get it over with ASAP so what is the purpose of prolonging the pain, you just go harder to get it over with faster. Logical, maybe. You can see where the turn around is at the bottom of this hill, there is a flashing cop car down there:

This is the most lovely picture I have seen. Just gorgeous...
These are taken after we were done, i think.....
A few more action shots:

Pictures all courtesy of the TNTT promotors, IC3.

It was that spitting, messy rain but we never got totally nailed. About 1 mile away it was hailing and they had tornado warnings, so we were indeed lucky and blessed with a good or acceptable night. I then went to do a T run and got lost. Lovely. They moved the start so i was running around neighborhoods i had no idea where i was and ended up running twice as long as i was supposed to, and luckily, since it was 80+ i didnt care. No chill at the end of that run. My one regret was that our pool isnt open so i couldnt come home and jump in!

Rode well. I dont know the exact time, i decided it didnt matter, but i know i caught my 1 minute person and nearly caught my 30 sec person who will remain nameless since i want to have a happy marriage. Ha, ha, he is ok with it. I have faith he will return the favor next time.
I think i averaged 22.9 mph and that is great. I also got my usual lower GI spasms at the end of the effort, i dont puke, despite orders to "ride or run till you puke" but I know when i have maxed out and i did. And i actually had fun doing it. Really, i did.

Here is what else is going on:

Some of you know i have been dealing with a bit of...well..its hard to explain in laymans terms. Think Plantar Fascitiis of the deep periosteum of the femur under your hamstring behind your knee but a abit higher up ( Distal, short head of the biceps) IT gets irritated much like you would get from PF yet its so deep its hard to reach with the same modalities you would use with the Plantar Fascitiis. So the answer has been really really really being cautious with my run form ( ie i cant just hammer out a track wko without thinking about my form) and also getting some MyoFascial Release ...and most of all it means i get to go ski 3x week. Yes, Ski.
I am going to get those Butt/Glute's so strong that my hamstrings can have a little break/vacation when i run. And trust me, this machine is a killer. Its great frontal plane ( lateral motion) that we dont get running or riding or swimming. Fun fun:)

Last but not least:

I came home to this and just smiled. When i started Tri and got a mailing last year for 2009 as an Honorable Mention I had no idea they even did this. So to make AA, with all the really awesome athletes not only in my AG, its just so cool. Thanks to all my family and friends, my coach and my team sponsor, Gear West Bike and Tri, and to all the people that hold me together in one piece, Folske SPine and Rehab and New Heights PT. I need to update my sidebar to get you all linked better.

Happy Spring everyone.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Birthday Report

Well the 45th came and went. It's may now, Happy May Day!
And its cold, wet, and windy out. Yawn. Lets just say this, and be done with it. I Didnt do the ride i had hoped bc the windchill was 25 and I am sore from running a race saturday and I didnt want to get cold and wet again. What's new? Not much, i have stopped hoping that i will be warm. I guess it may happen and if it doesnt, well, it doesnt.
Rich did go out and came back looking like he had been skiing. Even with handwarmers his hands were FREEZING with the windchills. He said I sure made the right decision to stay inside on the trainer so he didnt have to hear me whine. Yes he said that :) But its true:)

Birthday Saturday was fun. I cant say I aim to run a half marathon in pouring rain at times, and gusty headwinds at times, and generally miserable conditions, but lets just say I can knock that off the bucket list:) Rich was a trooper and ran the 10k race, and waited for me to come back AS FAST AS I COULD. Then we got out of there and it downpoured again. As we were walking back to the car ( about 1mile away) my toes cramped, my Anterior Tib's cramped and i was wet and chilled.

The Get in GEAR half marathon race? Well not much to tell ya on the race report front but it went something like this.
Arrive at parking spot and sit in car for about 45 minutes thinking maybe it will stop pouring. It sorta does, so we jog over to the race start and still have some time to kill, use the porta potty and then go to the start. The 10k and the half start together so its packed. I ditch my garbage bag and i wait. And it pours again. We wait another 4 minutes and finally the gun goes off and we are off. I take about a minute to get to the start ( its chip timed) and that is ok bc I really didnt warm up too well. Just decided i didnt need to worry about that in the rain, I ran around a bit but i really just kinda tried to stay loose.

Mile 1 8 min
Mile 2 7:15 min
And after that? Well i found a nice groove in the middle there. You see I wore no Garmin, no HR nothing. Just ran by feel. It's a great thing to be able to do that, partly bc it takes the stress out of being tempted to look at a pace, and it helps me run by feel and use my body and my mind as the governor, not some Garmin. I know some of you love your feedback but I got splits at 4 miles and 10 miles, and you know what? Even with the wind and rain and some random hills ( I wouldnt call them hills, more like inclines) I nailed those splits right around 7:30-7:35.
Bingo. My main goal at this half was to run strong, and to run with my form as my guide.
As I said in the "PT section" last week ( haha, Cheryl) I have had a few tweekie things and so my real goal and the hardest one was to leave my EGO At home and to run so i had no pain. I had a few "hello" moments with the lateral hamstring ( ie some pain behind my lateral knee) but i was able to run thru it, adjust my footstrike and power on. But i had a constant battle of " DO NOT CHASE THAT GIRL" going on in my head. I was running my race. ( Damn it!)

Around mile 10 there were 3 girls right near me, they looked quite young ( speaking as an elderly woman) and I just said to myself, " hmm, ok lets just keep them in sight" They were picking it up, I felt good, we had a cross tail wind, and so i just tried to stay with them, maybe 10 feet behind them. There was a guy who had tailed me the entire way down Shepard Road into the head cross wind and i felt all bad A$$ bc nobody wants to draft off me, but this guy was short so i was pretty sure i was giving him some shelter. That is fine. I was running my race, good for him. So it was drafter man and these 3 youngsters and me trying to pick it up at mile 10. Mile 11 came and went, my gels were giving me that good kick and when we hit 12 i just came up behind one of the girls and sat there. We ran across the Ford Bridge together, wind and rain whipping us and we turned down onto the final 1/4 mile and i saw the two other girls ahead of me. There is a short incline to the finish and I just put on the jets and ran right past both the girls. I dont know but I guess if i had a kick that meant i didnt leave it all on the course. But really? I was happy to not have left it all on the course, bc I didnt want to leave my distal hamstring out there too. We quickly got our stuff and headed back to the car and more downpours.

I finished with 1:39 and am super happy with that. As i said i just kept looking at my mile splits on my regular watch and was doing easy math..." mile 8 x 8 min miles = 64. Ok I am below that. that is fine. keep going." I knew when i went thru mile 10 in under 80 minutes ( get it, 8 x 10 = 80?) I was fine and i was around 1:16 so i knew i had some cushion if i neede to slow for form. I did a few times, or for wind gusts, but mostly just kept on plugging away.

As far as birthday excitement....I wanted a spontaneous day! We had a few family and friends visit in the afternoon, I took a bath bc i was so cold and no I really think ice bathes are better bc my legs hurt today, but i needed a warm up not a cool off, and we lounged around. Rich had to go to the hospital bc he is on call, but that gave me time to talk to my sisters and friends and just do nothing. I am most pleased about NOT having to pull out the "It's my birthday and I will cry if i want to" song. I had that all ready to go before the race, but i will save it for next year:)

I had quite an upset stomach most the day but finally I was able to eat sushi for dinner, and some cupcakes and some DQ ( not all at once) and tonight we have another family party where there will be more yummy eats and fun times. We also bought a juicer. I cant wait. If you have good recipes, do share. My only concern is I REALLY HAVE NO problem eating fruits and veggies so i sorta hate to juice them. But if you can convince me otherwise, I Am all ears.

I am not going to post pics of rain and misery, so just believe me. MN and the entire Midwest is not a nice place to be right now. My sister called from Houston last night to say her AC went out and she was so hot and humid. You can guess what i told her. ( In a nice way, of course)
Thanks for reading! And thanks for all the nice birthday wishes. So far 45 years young feels sorta rough! Hope it gets better!!