Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lifetime Maple Grove Race Report and...

Well, this picture brought me to tears. Ask Jen. I called her on the way home and cried. I cant blog about why i cried but i can tell you the overwelming emotion of being done with likely my most challenging yet rewarding season was too much for me. I think i made Jen cry too:) 
But lets back up...Its not like i am going to the Olympics, but standing on this podium with Heather ( who just WON, THE ENTIRE RACE at AG nationals) and Cathy ( who needs no introduction) was just the biggest honor i could have ever asked for. 

OA Podium

Backing up a bit....This was a maybe for me. I did it in 2010 and had a great race. I didnt remember alot of the course but i did recal it was a challenging course, pretty rough swim and then a rolling bike with alot of open spaces, and a run that was deceptively hot and wide open with more than a few short punchy hills in 2 loops. So why not. I was fit from Nationals and wanted to race one more time. Its weird not doing an IM this year I didnt want to feel like i had to be trashed at the end of the season so i was thinking "one and done." 

Swim: We had a small elite wave and all loved that we knew we would be top 10 elite since i think there were 8 women. Beach start and i let the swimmers line up in front. Christina, Heather and CY took it out and were in view for about the first 500 yards then we got mixed into the collegiate waves ahead of us. The swim was long, some say as long as 1.3 miles. All i know is that i swam hard and sighted well bc the sun was an issue, and came out about 2min down on Christina and in 4th. I heard that Sarah was also behind me but T1 was LONG, alot of running in a wetsuit when the water was really warm. They say 77.8, but whatever we all got hot. 

T1: other than the usual long leg issues with the timing chip getting in the way of wetsuit removal all was fine.  Kerry Y and Yndecam caught me ready to mount up a nice hill! 

We had some wind for sure and it was hard to tell for sure when and where bc the course had these loops where we were doing squares. It was a great course, a bit rough on one road but fair and wide open. The Moto came thru a few times which i love bc little packs just sort of form even in little races. Well this was 1300 people not that little but it keeps it fair. With wind and inclines and a joule that read 27 miles i was still really happy with my ride. I felt really good. Takes me about 5 miles to settle in and then its " OLY MODE" takes over and its like a sorta easier Time Trial. I passed #3 Christina in there before mile 10 and looked back and she was gone. So i was just riding riding riding. knowing that Sarah is a super biker i just kept the pedal down. Nothing eventful other than a longer than 40k bike.

T2: Quick quick i was in and out. When i dismounted i felt the UGH of sore glutes. My first few steps told me my hammies and glutes were going to be a bit more sore than at Nationals, but whatever. Go run. Funny thing is i grabbed my gel and also grabbed the prayer card i keep in T with me. I bring one to the race so i remember what Rich would tell me at a race. " Any day you can ride your bike is a good day!" So i am running out of T2 and i have the gel ( which i need) and the card ( Which i dont need and i have no pockets) so what did i do? Put it down my top and forgot about it.

Here is the nice hill we got to do twice out of Transition. Its ok i like hills but the 2nd time up i was about to explode at the top and it was littered with Sprint runners heading out so there was some " Excuse me, Excuse  me" going on. all ok but ouch.

My tennis pal and fan extraordinaire lives on the run course in mile 1. This is how i looked mile 1. Ok that doesnt look so good. The guy next to me was hilarious. I caught up to him and he was just running so fast i tried to stay with him and he lost me in mile 3 in the rollers. I just thought " oh boy i am not running to well today i hope Christina cant catch me, she is fast." and i soldiered on.

The 2nd lap was quite amazing. Cindy Blackstock caught me and ran past me expressing lots of quick encouragement ( we both were breathing HARD) it was getting hot. Now Cindy has had quite a year,
Kona qualifier at Madison and about 2 weeks later diagnosed with breast cancer and has a double masectomy, chemo, radiation, the works. NOW if that doesnt inspire me to try to stay with her? I mean what a thrill to be at her side, or next to her, or in front of her or behind her, whatever it was through miles 3-4-5 i was just trying my best to be with her. I mustered the " is this your first or 2nd lap" not thinking really that she was not in the elite wave today, but AG so it must be her 1st. And she said 1st so then i tried to be the run tour guide telling her how many more little hills were coming up. Ya always playing hostess. Anyways around mile 5.5 she fell back a bit and i finished and she went thru another loop but i have to tell you i think it was Cindy that got me a 6:54 average on that course it wasnt me. Not at all what i had thought i was running, and i do think that the 10k was accurate despite the rest of the course being long!

And Yes, the look of " OMG am i done and did i really just get 3rd?" I look a bit like i saw a ghost.
And that prayer card? It was safely tucked in my top, lots of little pieces there but I bet Rich was happy to be drinking gatorade down my front as about 2 oz goes into my mouth the rest of it onto my body. I think Rich had a good ride:)

 So this season really seems so short, then i realize i have been hitting it hard since April at camp. Or even before that to get to Camp. Having done IM the last two summers it was really quite fun to race more and to actually feel like i was getting faster as my birthdate gets further into the rearview mirror.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Olympic distance. It seems to fit my strengths well and i will always remember that.

As for the season and life in general? Im happy. I havent really been this happy in a long time. I remember telling Jerry M ( the voice of TRI) that I wasnt smiling much other than at races when i saw my friends and listened to him be goofy and talk about tri. He said " I hope you are talking to someone"
I thought about that and realized that I wasnt really happy i was sorta depressed actually. It was a good wake up call as I never think i want my life to only be happy when i am doing well in triathlon ( or any sport or pasttime ) for that matter. Its been a huge process of figuring out my life this summer without Rich. I have grown alot and i am thankful for all the experiences and people in my life, some come and some go. Its all about figuring it out and not settling for anything less than what makes you happy and makes you smile. For now and for today i am in a good place. Of course I am smiling bc I think I kicked master butt this year and Jen is to thank for that. Not only as a coach but as a friend. Sarah and Pam too, you know what you have done, and it cant thank you enough.

I have so much more to say but i wont right now. For now, lets do this....

Tommorrow is Rich's 59th Birthday. August 29th.
What he really would want is for you to get outside and do what you love to do, be thankful for it and to eat some German Chocolate Cake!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dynamic Warmups and Muscle Activation

I remember back in grade school and even in college, spending alot of time doing static stretching. We would stretch alot before we would go play, and we always held the stretch for at least 20 seconds.

Fast forward to today and even the last few years. The sports i am doing may have changed a bit but more so the warmups and cool downs have as well.

I had a request to talk a bit about muscle activation exercises and maybe at ANY age they are useful but I think as you get older they are critical. Speaking for many of us that may have overactive lower back muscles, and underactive glute muscles, its really important to get your body in "touch" with what it feels like to get the proper muscles firing for sport. I would say that for running this is 100% critical to me, swimming and biking not so much bc there is a non weight bearing component and biking is easier to get your butt firing. For lack of a better way to state that.

So my lumbar muscles ( paraspinals, Quadratus Lumborum) like to extend my hip. They love to overwork. This is coming from someone who really has no back pain at all. But when running what you want extending your hip ( think push off ) are your glutes and your hamstrings. In that order. If your glutes arent working " enough " your hamstrings will overwork and we all know what that feels like. Your hamstrings have the main job of knee flexion ( think butt kick) and also assisting with hip extension. But when your prime movers and your strongest muscles are lazy ( your glutes) those hamstrings and the lower back will be happy to take over. Taking the path of least resistance is what our body is so good at, but that will lead to some issues. Even calf issues as your hamstrings are tired now and your gastroc soleus and your toe running will try to flex your knee for you. We are a big kinetic chain arent we.

So what can you do? What do i do?

GLUTES AND CORE. Say that 100x.

I like to do alot of lumbar stretching in a rounded spine posture/squat, feet under me, core engaged, knees forward.


Then i hit up some adductor activation to get the inner thigh firing to hold the femur in line since lateral quad and ITB like to pull pull pull laterally.  For this i can do this on a curb outside or on a step in my house. I actually have a little wooden box that i use, its about 6 in tall and my PT's dad makes them for us. They are step overs. Cant find a pic but to engage the left adductor, step onto a step, right foot stays on the ground and you need to pull up and in to feel the muscle deep towards your groin, stepping up and over back and forth keeping your pelvis in neutral.

Then some glute side steps, all with a tucked core. lower abs. Lateral lunges yet the foot on the step or curb is stable, not moving, and your back is NOT arched or flat  ( bc you dont want your lower back working, do you?) you want your lower abs/obliques on) lunging deeper you will feel your glutes engage. Do about 20 of them and switch sides. You do not need to be adding hand weights to this, think " waking up the muscles " not strength training.

Finally before a run i will do the regular dynamics you can searchonline. Knee to chest, butt kicks, karaoke, wooden solider kicks, walking lunges, all dynamic meaning you dont hold any stretch. You can also do a few strides to get the legs turning over. Its alot easier to do this in the summer than the winter when its cold and snowy out.

top 10 running recommendations

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Age Group Nationals-Milwaukee, Wisconsin!

Last weekend I competed in what was my true A race of the season. After the stress of last season, and the added stress of training for an IM while Rich was so sick, I knew I had two choices:
1) YES do another IM! kill time! dont think. just do, avoid your feelings by training till you are too tired to think. (All kidding aside its sorta true)
2) Chill out. Pick local races, stay close to home, dont set goals that are over the top, just do the work and the results will follow. If not, that is ok you didnt spend 6 hours on a bike. And no saddle sores.

So Natz was my A race:) And i can tell you 100 times i have said " I am SO GLAD I am not training for an IM this summer" and maybe 4 x I have said " oh what a nice rainy day in the 60's to be riding to Prescott, wish I was IM training." haha. Things happen for a reason.

I was pretty excited to do this race. I like the OLY distance and I had been rained out of the only true OLY i had this summer. I was only nervous about running a 10k versus a 5k but Jen said " oh no worries" so in trusting her i said "OK no worries." 

I drove to the race on thursday and it was a long drive solo. I took my time and met up with many Ohio-ans most importantly my lovely pal Sarah. She had rented a house about 3 miles north of the race site and it was AMAZING! Perfect. Any race, short or long, is made better by having your own kitchen. We can all eat when and what we like. Whole paycheck Foods was about 1 mile away. 
Even if its $$ it beats eating out. I have a pretty set deal for what works for me pre race so as boring as it is I kept my plan and as usual it didnt fail me. 

Friday dawned and we got in our tune up ride and runs, skipped the swim bc i just didnt need to be in the water with 1000 other nervous rubber coated people. I had walked the swim, driven the bike course and the run was as flat as can be. Lets just rack our bikes ( and check it 100x) and get out of there. 
Sarah had switched to the sprint so she was 100% mine for saturday. Actually it was a joke and sorry if we annoyed you but we had a little wager as to who could throw up on Facebook the most during the other's race, I think it was a draw, but i tell you it sure was fun having her out there cheering. And she took some great pics. 

Race day dawned, my routine was put in place starting with food then muscle activation exercises (wait till you are older you will get this) and headed to the race. I was totally excited to be at a race with IM energy but about 1/5th of the race time. Sorta feel like i cheated getting done so fast. 

Race: Swim time! I had over 170 people in my wave. that is BIG for women 45-49. We were 7th and it was an ok time to start, i was lucky not too late. I mourned the loss of 40-44, they started 2nd wave!
I hung out with Ann who is lovely and in my AG, she is from MN too and I have always loved racing with her. It felt like an IM so i was happy to have a friend nearby. I lined up perfect and true to form my 200 yd pace is about my 1500 pace so i had to fight thru a sandwich but once i got to the bridge i was good. Found a few feet but then just kept my own line and felt really good. never tired, never had a hard time sighting. Came out 23:xx which was awesome. Maybe it was short but i was happy with it.

T1 time ! I had really worked to get my T's in order, which meant practicing taking my wetsuit on and off. Long legged folks dont get the luxury of the timing chip under the leg bc our suits come mid calf. So no matter how much glide you put on, that is an obstacle. My Right arm got stuck again. No watch not sure why, but that was a pain too. But in comparing to others i seemed low/faster so no complaints. Gretta and i rolled out. 

Bike time! I was super excited to bike this. I had been biking strong and it was a great course for me. Much to my delight it wasnt as flat as they said, it had some nice gradual longer " inclines" ( I wont call a freeway a hill) and i loved it. I have been nailing my nutrition and today, being sorta warm and not wet and freezing allowed me to really dial the gels and fluids in. When we turned around we had completed more than half the course and as I headed back into town I was sorta sad i was almost done. 
The course WAS crowded but maybe bc i had a 7th wave behind mostly older athletes ( well and the 40-44 M and W) i was pretty ok passing people and moving right along. The Motos were out and from what i heard they were actively penalizing. You know my thoughts on drafting or blocking. Its hard to avoid but i can be done if you slow down or speed up. Bike time 1:07:xx

T2 time! I had that one down fast! In and out burger and off i went, gel in hand.

Run time! I dont race with a Garmin so i just figured it was going to go like this...mile 1, dont think get your legs, if you feel great then move it bc you didnt bike fast enough. Mile 2, keep on moving but start to think about how much you can up the gears. Mile 3, ok now you are starting to get to the critical time in the race where you gotta go if you are going to go.  a TIMEX man passed me and i did my best to stay with him. He was moving and i just stayed on his heels and then he got about 10 feet ahead of me and that was fine. I stuck to him, started passing more people and at mile 4, we turned back. Aha there was some wind, now it heated up but there was no wind. I put my head down, couldnt really see who i was passing bc alot of the ink is off the legs and i just kept moving. I swear i didnt see anyone in my AG, I must have passed someone around mile 5 but i dont remember it. Mile 5 came and it was all cylinders firing. The one thing i remember was that i kept thinking through the entire run " THIS IS SO AWESOME. I AM NOT INJURED AND I AM RUNNING FAST!" That kept going thru my head. I only had my fitness holding me back and having not run a 10k in  ???? I was darn happy with how this was going. 
As i hit the carpet I didnt look back i just kept kicking it in. I just wanted to know if i had to put it into 
"drop shot" chasing mode or not, and I didnt. 
Final run 43:xx just over 7's.

Final placement, 6th AG, top 100 OA women.

In hindsight i laughed bc i did what my plan was :
Swim as hard as you can
Bike like you stole it
Run like you are being chased.
Funny is that rich's friend called me friday to wish me good luck, his advice was the same but his swim advice was " dont sink." good one Kyle.

Here are some random photos: In no real order. 
Lovely Helen from MN My tennis buddy and a great triathlete! 

woohoo i am speeding on the freeway! 

Finishing shot

Sarah and I goofing around post race at whole foods 

Sprint day, my day to help Sarah! Molly and Melissa both from Boulder, CO

MAGGS!!! i finally met MAGGS! 

Me and Maggs hanging 

And need i say more. This  cracked" us up more times than i can tell you. 

So overall? Totally a great time. Lots of good racing and While i wished i had done the sprint as well my body knows better. I am the first to say I dont want to get greedy. When things are working its easy to want more. And I have met my goals 110% this summer. Not time to reflect on the entire season but I am hoping to race a few more times. Going to do a memorial ride for Rich and hopefully get in some good fall runs and rides. Next year? well its looking like Ironman. But still jury out on which one.
thanks for reading and for all your cheers and love. XOXO

Friday, August 02, 2013

An impromptu race and "who ordered september in early augsust ?"

Howdy. Ok short race report first, because well, it was a sprint afterall. But like many races there are versions of sprints. My question is why is the swim ALWAYS SO SHORT? I know the answer, dont answer that. But this race had a 22 mile bike ( which due to construction was 23) so that was money for OLY prep. Race day at 345 was not pleasant bc it was cold and dark and no sign of sun. When the race announcer said the lake water as a full 20+ deg warmer than the air you can guess that i was ok with wetsuit legal and being cozy in my suit. Since it was the sprint, shared with Chisago Half Iron, we went off after the Half distance racers, So some standing around. In the Elite wave i was sorta wimpy, with guys i just never know who is going to clock me even if they arent swimming too fast. Got around the buoy fine, and viola my 7 minutes of warm were OVER. Time to get moving. So much for a gap, not much. I did find that my LEFT arm was having nothing doing with getting out into that cold air. I m not sure what was the hold up but i dropped my cap ( didnt know if the USAT officials would call abandonment of property so got that picked up) ahh, the transistion issues you can only hope for. 

Once riding It took me a good 15 miles to feel like i had some rhythm. I had a horrible lower GI cramps, and i have had this before TTing but not recently. I suspect its bc i am working hard and my Gut isnt getting as much love ( blood) as it would like. IT subsided but i had to soft pedal a few times and who knows, maybe just being cold. Once i thought i could take my gel i did, and that is rocket fuel in the engine and i was good. 

I dont usually mention issues or other rider's issues, but I just cant not write that when people are drafting I just have a very hard time not letting them know they are cheaters. I know that I cant control anyone elses race but my own but come. on. Its pretty obvious when someone is working hard to stay on a wheel and when i am busting my tail to get past another rider and to see you sitting on said rider's wheel then hop to mine? That is all i said. But the moto did come thru a few times and i should have kept my mouth shut bc maybe she would have gotten a penalty.  I even heard a good racer in T2 saying " Well you have to join in otherwise they will get ahead of you." no, that is wrong. 

So besides my rants, well that made me go faster for sure and i did come into T2 ahead of said girl (s) actually two of them, and out ran one and the other who is new to the sport and like 13 yo, kidding, she isnt, maybe 21?  but she is a great athlete and i hope she learns the rules someday. 

 Good pic with at team TT going on in the background.
So getting my shoes on in T2 was funny, I thought my liners were rolled up bc of the cold feet. Couldnt feel em and almost fell over. So the first mile was "meh," didnt have much spark. Ran down one or two women and then pretty much just coasted into the finish and nabbed 5th OA that then became 6th and an AG win by 3-4 minutes. I never take an AG win for granted and I will take any top 10 finish in a race like this when there is prize money and the winners are such fine athletes. So despite my " you all need to go to bike school" I was happy with this and the effort. Showed me a few things to work on for nationals andI was really proud i got out of bed on a cold fall morning. Wait its end of July.

So that plays nicely into my " why is it so cold?" talk. Cant say that i am happy about it, but at least its good running weather, and while i dearly long for a few more days weeks of 80-90 degrees maybe this will carry on thru september and we will have a mild lovely fall.

Nationals is next weekend and I may or may not post about that. I am super excited to do a full OLY bc Lifetime was shortened, and i am excited to see if i can laydown a good race on such a flat and crowded course. I am confident in my bike handling skills i just hope that others dont pull any bonehead crazy bike tactics and crash into me, or anyone! Weather looks awesome that weekend, but a bit chilly. You knew i would say that. But last weekend proved i can race in cold temps as well as warm so bring it on.

Mostly I am excited to see some friends ( Molly, SARAH!) and to meet some new ones ( MAGGS!) and have a good clean race. Lets hope the women 45-49 are a pleasant group! At least in the water!