Tag: hills

Ashland Sprint = Race Stories

I was still feeling the impact of Quassy (2 weeks prior) in my muscles, but most importantly, my Quassy experience was still in my mind and heart.

The prep: Transition is 4 miles from my house. We have an 8:30 start. I have plenty of time in the morning.  I don’t have to leave until 7:00. La,la,la¯ – lackadaisical. I’m again happy I have my new handy-dandy checklist. Very useful when I’m stopping to smell the flowers everywhere. I arrived with everything I needed/wanted for the race.

Pre-race:  Transition was very bubbly and friendly. The 40+ ladies were all supporting each other with set-up tips and compliments on tri kits. Kristin & I walked down to the water at 8:00 (I remembered my inhaler!  During the walk down, I kept saying, “this is such a longer walk through the woods than I remember from last year.” It really was a long, root & boulder filled trail with some pretty steep sections. I felt happy that I remembered my crappy old sneakers. Kristin stayed dry for as long as possible. I hopped in for a nice long warm-up. The water was great – 68 or so.

The swim: I was feeling good from my warm-up, so I confidently put myself in the front part of the wave.  And then immediately cracked up at myself – my goggles were still up on my cap. I rock! I pulled them down and had my own little eye soak for the swim. No worries.  I’m all about keeping it real. The waves were only spaced 3 minutes apart, so I found myself swimming through a lot of white caps pretty quickly. I’m getting better at moving around people without stopping the swimming part. I came out of the water with only caps from the wave in front of mine. I was the 5th female out. Who would’ve thunk?

The trail run to T1: They should make this section of the race into a stage and give prizes. I’m not sure how long it is – guessing 1/3 of a mile? Used earplugs – less dizzy, but still a little off balance getting my feet into sneakers.

T1: I wasn’t dizzy when I got to my bike, so getting my bottom half out of the wet suit was much easier. Right sock went on easily – left one, not so much. Need more baby powder.

 AshBikeThe ride: Don’t know if it was the run up to transition, but quads actually felt heavy – this is different. Spun up the first hill and they felt clear pretty quickly. It was windy. I had a moment of doubt – “should I have switched out my wheels? Do I wish I had non-aero?”  But moved passed it quickly. I was on home turf for a good deal of the ride – so I knew every pothole and how to avoid them. The wind was Quassy-like. The course was shorter, but sections of the hills were very Quassy like (sans the 5mph hill) I had a great ride. This seems to be a trend.  *Note to self – don’t mess with things on your bike the night before a race. I moved my straw on my aero bottle – this made hydrating a get out of the saddle event– pain in the arse.

T2: I mis-judged the dismount location – that was awkward. But was in and out decently. Forgot to start the Garmin in the awkwardness – but found satellites quickly.

AshRunThe run: Here we go…The uphill start isn’t very entertaining, but it feels like a good place to start to figure out my hip flexor situation. I pretty much abandoned the Garmin and decided to run by flexor feel. I was happy to be feeling so strong to this point. Everything felt good. I didn’t want to push to the point where I was nursing an injury, again.  I wanted to be right on the edge of what I had to give and being protective of my recent injury and the state of recovery that I was still in. What a difference between this and last year. Last year was so hard and so painful. This year the run was hard, but a good strong and not suffering feeling.  I was immensely grateful for my health and the strength I’ve built.  I was past the first mile of the out and back, and still hadn’t seen any other females. By the time I made the halfway turn around, I knew that there were just 5 in front of me. I’ve never finished in the top 5 overall before. This became my new game – let’s go see. I passed 2 women on the hill to mile 2 – I was in the top 5 overall.  (Inside smile.) Kristin and I gave each other high 5s as we passed. I felt happy – she looked strong and was smiling. I was really pleased by how my legs felt – even up the last hill. The run home was all downhill. I just took the brakes off and cruised home – trusting that I was reading my flexor and was fast-ish and listening well.

The finish: Jason was right at the finish. I got a big hug. He said, “wow – there weren’t very many women done yet. I think one of them was on a mixed relay. I’m pretty sure you’re in the top 3.” Another big hug.AshTri

Oh, and I sure did bring my medal to work with my on Monday. I do love it. I just keep smiling and thinking 47. I’m 47 and look at this. The joys of being a late bloomer.

REV3 Quassy Olympic – late race report

Rev3 Quassy FinishRace Report: R3Q Oly – Thar be hills!

The preparation: I hate packing.
I made it easier by (finally) creating a packing master list. Everything was laid out Thursday night.  I had everything I needed AND didn’t have any weird forgot my wet suit dreams.

The departure: Triathlaife is what happens when you’re making other plans.
Hubby coming down with the stomach bug wasn’t part of my plan.  Getting a bit of the bug myself, was worrisome (like all I could think about was poor Uta Pippig).  A 45 minute, pre-race brick allowed me to make a plan B for how I would handle the race if I got it full force. The run gave me confidence that even with a mild bug I could pull off a Quassy finish.

The venue & pre-race : I don’t think mandatory means what i think it means.
They didn’t take attendance– so I’m thinking…  I had a friend, Susan,  to meet up with and tour the expo. ($0 purchases all weekend) The amusement park was cool.  The fried dough was tempting, but I resisted. I was happy I had plastic bags in the car for our saddles.

Race Day: On the beach:  All calm – the water & me.
This is the first race (ever) where I didn’t experience pre-race anxiety. I was clear on my goals. I was here to see what was possible for me on this day with my training on this course. I was here to learn how to move into and through challenge in a new, positive way. I was here because I love this sport and this is my idea of fun. I was aware of my stomach, but confident that I’d been taking care of myself and had a hydration / fueling plan that would give me plenty of energy and not fill my belly too much. ( I hoped)

In the water: At home.
The difference in a year amazes me. (the year-round 5am wake ups paid off) I started near the middle of the pink cap wave. I gave myself enough long, strong strokes to acclimate my breathing to the water temperature. In short time, I felt confident that I had my breathing, my legs felt clear, and I started to move up through the group. I noticed an improvement in my ability to move around other swimmers. I was happy with my sighting on the way out. The portion parallel to the beach was into the sun and I needed a friendly course correction from a nice woman on a kayak. I felt good enough to jog to transition.

T1: Dizzy
I had a hard time standing on one leg to get out of my wet suit and get into socks and shoes.  Transition was slow, but I left with all the gear I needed (mostly).

In the saddle: My biggest challenge – I was here to get over my bad attitude on hills.
My goal was to stay happy and present on the hilliest bike course I’ve ever raced. The first 5 miles went by quickly. (yay!) The route was beautiful with farms along the way. I was able to fuel and hydrate on plan.  The uphills were very challenging, as expected.  The downhills were often too much for my comfort.  If you were biking near me, you would have heard my exasperation when I crested a huge hill and saw the crazy downhill. I had the opposite reaction of most of the people around me on the course. I used my brakes and sat up and just talked myself through my fear. I was passed on most of the down hills and passed many back on the next uphill. I didn’t compare myself to the others or feel badly about my fears – I accepted that this is my current level of comfort and this was a challenging course.  Overall, I stayed positive and didn’t experience the draining negative thoughts that I have previously on hills.  I had the ride I wanted.  I felt strong and powerful and steady.

T2: nothing notable
Visor on, belt on, sneakers on, run.

In my happy place: Running trumps racing
I love running after riding my bike. A lovely net downhill start doesn’t hurt. Within the first ¼ mile I figured out why my vision seemed off on the ride. I had my clear lenses in, not my sunglasses. I make a mental note about prepping. I wish for someone to hand the silly clear lenses to, but then let it go, laugh at myself, and run. The first big hill during the 3rd mile I practiced the mindset of “embracing the hill” as part of the Quassy experience and that the hill is what makes the finish so rich.  I didn’t resent or wish the hill away. I repeated this for each of the 3 major hills and just turned my focus to the footstep on the hill and pulled my body up. On the downhills, I focused on form and not braking. I fueled up, as planned in the 4th mile.
My favorite race moment happened in the 4th mile. Running behind a woman with awesome back muscles, her husband filming her from his bike, I playfully offered to look miserable since she was kicking my butt. We had fun. And then her husband said – “ya know, if you can be doing all that – you should probably be running faster.” ….Oh, right! I cracked myself up! This was a first – I’ve never lost track of the “grind” before.  Off I went. It was a tough course for sure.  But for the first time EVER, racing wasn’t in conflict with my joy of running.

The finish: Hit my sub 3 hour goal: 2:58:21. And most importantly I felt strong, energized, and positive throughout the challenge. This was my Rev3Quassy Olympic – no bad attitude! – mission accomplished.

hill. repeat. hill.

Hill elevation profile“What goes up – must come down.
And then go up and come back down, again.”
8 x :30 uphill surge (fast, focus on powering with your butt)/ 3:00 easy

There may be something wrong with me.  I loved everything about this workout.

It was cold. (34 degrees) I needed to layer up in my winter gear.  The first cold run is the hardest.  I always get it too hot or too cold.  I was overdressed – I didn’t need a thermal base layer, yet.  I know that just  2 posts ago I was complaining about having to put on mittens, but I remembered last night that I really enjoy running in the cold.*

It was dark.  I’m not a fan of the short days.  And I’m not quite adjusted. This was not an intentional night run, I forgot. Just poor planning on the timing of the workout.  But off I went with my head lamp and my lovely blinking safety vest. (I’ m threatening my kids with getting one that blinks: “I’m  Will & Hannah’s mom”).

It was hard. In the middle of the second surge uphill I was thinking that 5 repeats might be a little more reasonable to start, but I pushed out all 8.  When I was finished, every bit of my body felt like it had been worked hard.  My arms, core, legs, and butt were fully engaged in the effort.  As was my focus and intention.

The cool down run home, blinking away in the dark, felt glorious.

I think one of the reasons I like cold weather, winter running is that the pollen is finally gone. My asthma and breathing is so much better.  Very cold air can present issues, but I’m good until well below freezing. 

Running Mittens

running mittensWorkout : Endurance Run
Planned Duration: 1:20
Keep your pace exceedingly easy throughout

“Exceedingly easy”is not my favorite.  I find it exceedingly hard to run exceedingly easy. For at least 5 of the 9 miles, I rationalized that this fact negated the entire assignment .
I hate not following my coach’s directions more than I hate running exceedingly easy.  So I toughed it out, but not easily.

The fact that it was also the first mitten run of the 2013-3104 winter training season, probably didn’t improve my running attitude.  I’m not ready for the layers, and they’re coming soon. If I could run harder than “exceedingly easy” I’m sure I’d be able to generate more body warmth.

(OK, that last line may have been a dig for my coach – not that she’s cold right now – in lovely Florida. 🙂 Good luck at Rev3 Venice today, coach!)

Up hill

InspirationI have one rule for running up hill.

I never ask myself how I’m feeling when I am running up a hill.  My answer is never positive.  And worse – listening to my answer creates an opening for more negative thoughts and almost always spirals right down into ” I don’t think I can do this – maybe I should quit.”   It’s so much harder to run up a hill when I’m telling myself I can’t do it.

Running up hills, like the one on Green Street in Ashland’s Half Marathon, is just hard.  The energy requirement creates enormous physical stress on the body.  This physical stress triggers our hormones and becomes mental stress or a negative perspective.  The fact is that the hill will always be easier to climb if you tell yourself that you can do it.  (think little engine that could – “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”)  The second fact is that there will always be hills – so it’s best to have a strategy before you are halfway up and thinking about quitting.

Here’s some good news.  If you happen to find yourself without a strategy tomorrow, while running up Green Street – we have added affirmations on the course for you.  So one step at a time – you can conquer the Green Street Monster.  If you find yourself running next to a woman dressed as a fairy muttering “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” – say hi.  That’s me!

Good luck tomorrow to all the runners!