Christmas Goodies!

I had an excellent Christmas! Among other things, I received a new gym bag (with an odor-proof shoe pouch), a pull-buoy, swim fins, a new swim gear bag, and an assortment of workout clothes. I'm hoping to get to the Master's swim sometime this week to use my new toys. I know my family doesn't thing workout stuff makes good Christmas presents, but I was thrilled.

As much as I love travelling to see family, I am always happy to be home again. I didn't get much running in, due to temps in the negative teens, snow (measured in feet, not inches) and freezing rain. I don't like running on the road when conditions are slippery and visibility is low. I don't care about falling so much as getting hit by a vehicle. I did attempt a run at my parents' Christmas tree farm, but the 15 inches of snow on the ground and drifts up to my waist made it difficult. Snow shoes would have worked better. But I did burn 315 calories in 1 mile. That's impressive.

I also like being home because it seems there is a shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables where my family is. Other than some veggies and dip on Christmas Eve, I didn't see much of anything green, unless you count the green frosting on the thumbprint cookies. My family lives on ground beef, and not the 95% lean kind. It was very clear that my body is not used to a diet that high in fat. I will probably be starving all week. I haven't gotten on the scale to see what the damage is yet, but when I bought some dress pants on Saturday, they were a size 6 so I don't think I did too bad. It's always fun shopping when you get to go down a size.

Now that I'm back home with my grocery store, a gym, a trainer in the garage, and milder temps, I have no excuses. With my first ultra right around the corner, it is safe to say I am motivated by fear. But in a good way.

I'm looking forward to running after work today. My back is sore from all the driving, my hamstrings are really tight and I think a slow jog is just what I need. I'm planning on 4 miles for sure, 8 if I'm feeling OK. I fell on the stairs last night, so I'm hoping my knee is OK as well. I hit the stairs hard enough that I cracked the grout between steps. I have so many bruises from the fall, I kinda feel like I was beaten with a stick last night. But I didn't drop the bonsai that I was carrying, and that is important. I'll have to post a picture of my newest hobby.

I'd better finish my lunch of carrots, a clementine, yogurt and bran, and an apple. See a theme here?


Merry Christmas!

We are leaving here in a matter of hours to head back to God's Country for Christmas. Which means no internet and lots of food. But it's no longer hunting season (at least not with high-powered rifles) so we are planning on running, hopefully every day other than Christmas.

Safe travels and Merry Christmas!


Alternate Chili Run

Yesterday was the Alternate Chili Run at Wyco Park. It was a single 10 mile loop on bridle trail, single track trail, and just a little bit of pavement. This is pretty much the same course as the Psycho Wyco in February.

It was warm and windy, but luckily there wasn't much wind through most of the course. It was muddy. Some areas were a little slippery and one guy lost a shoe, but really we had great conditions. It looked like a good turn out, too.

I started off running with the Medium pace group and John started with the Extra Medium pace group. I wasn't real comfortable with the pace, so I ran ahead and did my own thing. I ended up leading a group through the Triangle. I thought that was pretty good since I had only run that section once and it was in the dark. A couple of guys caught up to me there and one was Bob, one of the Nerds I ran with last Saturday.

I stuck with Bob and two other guys for most of the run. I like running with those guys - they're a little faster than me so I have to push myself and they're good conversation. We ran together for most of the course. Hopefully I'll get to run with them again.

We hit the pavement section and another group caught up to us. I was falling behind at this point and was just praying to get off the road and back into the woods. It was interesting - you could tell who didn't have much trail experience once we hit the trail again. I passed most of the group and caught back up to the guys. The road runners are much faster than me on the road, but I make up for it on the technical trails. I guess my trail feet are better than I thought.

We made it to Horse Hill and narrowly avoided making a wrong turn. I told the group I didn't like Horse Hill anyway and Fester's Wander was a much better trail. Once we started on Fester's Wander I took off into the hills and I heard someone say "This is a better trail? Holy Crap!" I just smiled. I said better, not easier. Those are two very different things when I'm judging a trail to run on. Fester's Wander is tough, but that's possibly my favorite trail.

Bob and the guys passed me at the Archery Range and I had picked up some out-of-towners and one local. When I talked with other locals, I felt like I was preaching the Trail Nerd gospel. "We have runs out here every week, you should come join us!" "There's a race in February, you should come out for that!" Shameless, I know. I can't help it - I don't understand why you would want to run on the road when there are these beautiful trails just off the beaten path.

The last part of the run was Three Hills and then just a little bit back to the cars. I swear all the hills in Three Hills were bigger than the last time I was out there. By the end, everyone around me was tired. I had just finished my water, so the timing was good.

As I headed back to the car, I realized that I had only ran 1/3 of the Psycho Wyco and I would be doing another 2 laps after that. Wow. I thought I could handle a second lap, but it would be much slower. A third lap seems, well it seems rather psycho. But now that I have done a full loop, I'd be willing to try it again on a weekend. I'm at least getting familiar enough with the park that even if I did get lost, I could eventually find my way out.

That is, if the cougar doesn't get me first.

Happy Trails!


Certifibly Psycho

Today I registered for my first ultramarathon, the Psycho Wyco, hosted by none other than everyone's favorite Nerd, Bad Ben himself. The race is aptly named, of course. It's a 50k at my favorite park here in Kansas City. If you're thinking about it, I would sign up soon. It's been capped at 250 entrants and I bet it will sell out.
I wanted to run this last year (the 10 mile version) since it was on my birthday but John thought I was nuts. Now, he has an ultra under his belt and we're both signed up for the 50k. Funny how things like that change.
Here's the truth: this race scares the hell out of me. I've never done a marathon, let alone an ultra. I know Wyco park and it is not an easy place to run, even if it is in Kansas. And I suck at running. I like to say I'm a mid-pack runner, and that may be true, but I'm horribly slow and if I'm in the mid-pack it's only because everyone else is horribly slow, too. It's like saying "I'm healthier than the average American" - the bar is set so low it doesn't really mean anything.
Tomorrow is the Alternate Chili Run out at Wyco and I think it will be a good way to gauge where I am right now. It's a 10 mile fun run that is on the Psycho Wyco course. There are some sections I've never run on, so that will be fun to see the rest of the park. I wish I had a dog to run with. I'd love a permanent running partner, but my pace and John's don't work well together and I would prefer someone who was silent. I know there is a husky rescue close... This could be trouble.


A Little Consistency

Wow, I managed to run four out of the last five days. It's about damn time I started being more consistent. I think it was signing up for Boise. It was really warm yesterday (%0 degrees!) so I did 8 miles at the airport. Now I'm staring out my window watching the snow fall and dreading my evening on the trainer. Gotta love the Midwest.

But I have to say I'm proud of my mileage since Thursday. Here's the totals:
Th: 5 miles
F: 0 miles
S: 8 miles
S: 6 miles
M: 8 miles

A whopping 27 miles in 4 days of running. I know it's nothing earth-shattering, but that's pretty big mileage for me. I've been worrying about the 50k, too. You can't fake a 50k and I don't want to drop out after the first lap (about 13 miles). My base is better than it was last year, but that's not saying much. I suppose when approaching your first ultra, a little fear is the correct response. Especially since my longest run is a 1/2 marathon. What on earth did I get myself into?

The plan tonight was 90 min on the trainer, but I think instead I'm going to do 60 min and then go for a 30 min run. I haven't done a brick in a long time and the trainer will be more tolerable if I know I'm running outside afterwards. I love being outside but I do miss the long days of summer.


Rough Weekend

My weekend went from good to bad to worse to pretty OK and back to good. Nall, a friend from college, came to town Friday night, so I didn't get to bed until 12:30 but I managed to get up and meet some of the Trail Nerds for a 7:30 run.

We ran for about 90 min, and for the most part, it was great. We started at the Midland trail head and I've never run those trails before. But then about 20 min into the run, I started having intestinal distress. Not good, especially since we were in the middle of nowhere and this was the first time I was running with these particular Nerds.

We made it into Shawnee Mission Park and thankfully, there was an open porta-potty. The rest of the run was uneventful, but the ride home was uncomfortable to say the least. The "intestinal distress" was back and I barely made it into the bathroom in time. Geesh.

To sum up Saturday, I spent most of the day sleeping or in the bathroom. I managed to rally for the Boulevard brewery tour, but two 5 oz samplers later, I was begging John to take me home. We ordered Oklahoma Joe's BBQ for dinner and even that didn't look good. That's when you know you're sick. Oklahoma Joe's is the most wonderful BBQ in all of Kansas City and that's no small feat.

While the guys went out Saturday night, I went to bed. I felt bad going to bed, but I really felt awful. But when I woke up on Sunday, I felt fine. We went out for breakfast - no problems. I even put in a 6 mile run through the neighborhood and was fine. I think I caught a 24-hour stomach bug.

Tonight I'm heading to the airport for 2 laps. It's supposed to be in the 50s today so I want to take advantage of the weather. I hear there's a chance of snow this week, so if I'm lucky I'll be screwing my shoes and running in the snow by the end of the week!


Bite the Bullet

I finally signed up for Boise 70.3 and made it official. I need to look at other races and register since a lot of entry fees go up Dec. 31. On the application, they asked a lot of mandatory questions you had to answer, which seemed like a complete waste, like local newspaper and TV. Here are some of the other mandatory questions and how I responded.

  • Other athletic accomplishments and athletic background: -Concrete canoe paddler (I thought about putting in 3-time conference champ in the slalom/distance race, but I didn't want to brag.)
  • Significant Personal Achievements: -swam with alligators
  • Please share significant information relating to your Ironman 70.3 Boise training and participation: -a beer every Thursday night, ice cream on Sunday
  • Interesting facts about you: -I hate spiders

Is this necessary? I know they read interesting facts sometimes as you cross the finish line. But I always seem to be in a group and they never even get to my name.

Anyway, it's 27 weeks to the race, which gives me 12 for base building, 14 for skills, and 1 for taper. My main goal is to have a better base overall and figure out how to avoid stomach issues on the run.

Speaking of base building, we ran at WyCo last night and it was cold! I had some seriously fresh lungs when we were done. Obviously I need to run in temps below 20 degrees more often. I wish we had snow though, I don't mind the cold temps as much. I'm hoping for a quick 4 miler tonight, before Nall comes in to visit, and about 10 miles tomorrow with some of the other Trail Nerds. Consistency is hard this time of year, but the only way to base build. And a guilt-free way to enjoy a Christmas cookie or two. :)


Turkey Day!

We are off to WI in a few hours, which means no internet 'til Sunday. I'm hoping to get 2-3 runs in, but deer hunting season and Christmas tree season makes it difficult. Run early or late and risk being shot, run in the middle of the and miss all the tree-selling fun. Ah, the holidays.

High temps in WI are in the low 30s, so it is thermal tights and stocking caps as far as the eye can see! I'm looking forward to some legitimately cold runs. Burns off more of the turkey calories. :)


Stolen Day

It is absolutely gorgeous outside today and I plan to take full advantage of it! Growing up in WI, a mid-November day in the 60s was almost unheard of. It's not the norm here, but much more common. And while it makes it difficult to concentrate on work, sitting at my desk and staring out the window, I am really looking forward to my run tonight. Whenever I know the weather is going to be nice now, I make it a point to get outside for a run.

On the schedule tonight is 2 laps around the airport (about 7.5 miles total). First lap easy, 9-10 min/mile pace, second lap negative split. I'm hoping to hit 8:30-8:45 min/mile on the last lap. I won't go to hard, I like to feel fresh for my Thursday night run with the Nerds. But then again, it's much harder to run "fast" on technical trails so I usually go harder on the pavement than I intend.

I have found a trail marathon to do! It's outside of Phoenix the weekend that my company is taking us to Phoenix, so the timing works well. I'm sure John and I will both like a warm weather run in January. So now my winter schedule is:

Dec 13th - 10 mile Alternate Chili Run

Jan 2th - Caves Creek trail Marathon (AZ)

Feb 14th - Psycho Wyco 50k

I'll probably take a week off after the 50k and then really start to hit it hard for triathlon season. Which reminds me I need to join a pool. I'm hoping to finalize all my races over Christmas and get signed up before Jan 1 (where possible).

On a different note, I found a great new doc. He was an engineer and he runs (6:34 pace for the Trolley Trot. Yes, I'm a stalker). He's general practice but is board certified in sports medicine as well. Turns out that having low blood glucose is not something to be ignored. They took 4 vials of blood yesterday to run a full blood panel. I should know more next week. But until I'm told otherwise, I'm going to keep on training. I feel fine, other than the occasional rough run. But who doesn't have those?

I have decided that this is a good wake-up call for better nutrition. I use the "I exercise" excuse for eating whatever I want, in moderation. But moderation doesn't seem to be working. So I'm going to try to cut out french fries all together, eating out as much, and no more Friday morning bakery stops. I'm also going to cut back to 2 or less drinks per occasion. It's not that I eat a lot of junk or drink that much, but my genetics have clearly shown that I don't have any wiggle room when it comes to food. If there is such a thing as the obesity gene, I definitely have it and I have to do more to keep it in check.


Spin me 'Round

Friday night I finally bit the bullet and actually got on the trainer. The DVD player is not in the garage where the trainer is, so no Spinervals, just me and my music. As much as I was dreading it, I actually had a fun time. I shouldn't admit this, but I haven't been on my tri bike since September. I did cadence drills and intervals and I was literally dripping in sweat when John cam home. I started to remember how much I like biking. Saturday, I woke up a little saddle sore and with a sore neck from being in the aero position. Ah yes, the joys of being back in the saddle.

This morning, John and I did at least 8 miles out at WyCo and it was a beautiful day. We saw no less than 6 other runners, several of which were other Trail Nerds we met in the parking lot afterwards. I love running out there. It's like belonging to a secret society. All we need is a handshake.

Now I am making brunch for John and I. Eggs with green peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes, along with roasted baby red potatoes. Man, am I starving!


Home Sweet Home

After five days of travelling, it is good to be home. I did manage a short run while in WI. It was 34 degrees and raining but I still enjoyed it. I love winter running. As Bill Bowerman said, "There is no such thing as bad weather, just soft people." That's the only way I manage to kick my butt out the door some winter days.

When I got home this afternoon, I sorted through the mail and found the results from my insurance physical. I skimmed through most of it - I'm well aware of my height, weight and blood pressure. Check, check, and check. Negative on the nicotine, cocaine, and HIV. Big surprises. What was a surprise was my blood glucose was low, outside the normal levels. Now that was odd.

I remember my pulse being elevated that morning. Resting HR was 66 when measured around 8 am. I had shredded wheat and green tea for breakfast, with the usual morning grogginess solved with the usual morning coffee.

So I did what anyone would do, I did some research. I wouldn't even be concerned except my family is predisposed for diabetes. I called my mom to see if she's recently had her blood sugar levels measured. In fact she had, but her doc is concerned with it being too high, same for my grandma, who has been diagnosed with Type II. They both have been instructed that below 100 mg/dL is where they need to be. Mine was 60 while 70 is the lower bounds for normal. Diabetes doesn't make sense considering my age, weight, and lifestyle anyway. Ok.

Next I hit up the Internet. I hadn't fasted prior to the blood work, or exercised that morning. This was before I started my training plan for the 50k, so it wasn't from increased activity. I was actually coming off a week of rest. I really don't know the cause. I guess now that my new insurance is in effect, I should go in for a physical and take my test results with. Looking at the last few weeks starting with my awful run on October 2, low blood sugar would explain the headaches, light headedness, fatigue, and the general off-feeling I have had.

So that's it. I have nothing more but questions, and until I find a dr. and have my blood checked again, I won't have any answers. But if anyone has had similar experiences or advice, I'm all ears.


Scary Run

On Monday night, the weather was so nice I decided to go run at WyCo park instead of pounding the pavement. John was travelling so I was on my own.

With the time change, it doesn't take long to lose all daylight after work. I was at the park by 6:30 and it was already pitch black. I parked under a light at the Ranger station and started up the trail we ran on Saturday. There was just a sliver of a moon, barley making a dent in the inky sky.

WyCo at night it is a scary place to be when you're alone on a relatively unfamiliar section of trail. I figured it would be good psychological training. I took my cell phone and an extra flashlight and hoped it would be a completely uneventful run.

I ran through Three trails, the Archery Range, and halfway through Fester's Wander before turning around. With the leaves on the ground and just my headlamp, it's easy to get confused. I stepped off the trails in Fester's Wander but only for a minute. Good time to head back. As I was on my way back, I started to get spooked by nothing. I swore I saw creatures in the woods and could hear someone behind me. So I scolded myself for being silly and kept heading back.

On a rocky downhill, I managed to roll my left ankle. This one hurt. I slowed down for a little while but kept moving. No big deal, I'll just keep on. It's not like there is a short cut back or anyone would come and pick me up. You're tough, Sam, suck it up. There's still 20 minutes of running between you and the car. Just keep moving so it doesn't get stiff.

I was about halfway through Three Hills on the way back when I heard it. Dogs, barking loudly and incredibly close. Holy Crap. Big dogs. Mean dogs. Run Sam, run! Run faster, Sam, RUN FASTER!! What a moron you are for running alone! At least Shane carries a knife. Should I look back? Keep moving! I wonder which Nerd will come across my carcass first.

Eventually, the barking faded into the distance and all I could hear was the thumping of my chest and my frantic breathing. My ankle was now throbbing, but I saw the last road crossing and felt relieved.

And then this thought: "I bet those dogs really spiked my HR and threw my average HR off." Jeesh, did I really just think that after having the daylights scared out of me?

From now on, I'll save my night trail running for when I'm with the Nerds or at least have John with me. Darkness and goblins I can handle, big dogs are another story. I'm taking it easy on my ankle, too. RICE and easy runs, hopefully no serious time off.

Happy Trails


Halloween Weekend

What gorgeous weather for the first weekend in November!

Saturday morning John and I got up and went for a run at WyCo. It was pretty cool - it was really foggy which made for a great Halloween run.

I wanted something a little different, so we started from the ranger station and ran the Three Hills section of trail (which I've never run before) to Shelter 10 and then to the archery range. I found a map of WyCo and it's currently on my fridge. My goal is to run the other sections I'm not familiar with on the weekend when it's light outside. Three Hills is much more difficult heading back towards the ranger station that it is heading out.

It ended up being a very enjoyable 6 miles or so. John still hasn't been feeling well, so he was fine with my pace. I had wanted to go through Fester's Wander, but John wasn't feeling well and I rolled my ankle, so we called it a day early. Next weekend I'd like to do the same stretch and add Fester's Wander. The best part was after the 6 miles I wasn't tired and definitely felt like a few more miles would have been fun. We weren't moving at a blazing speed, but I'm hoping that in the next few months I can put in a full loop at WyCo, or even more.

I had order a bun of stuff from Zombie Runner that came so I tried out my new water bottle pack and Moeben sleeves. The pack will take a little getting used to, but I really like running hands free. The sleeves I love! Mine are zebra striped. They were perfect with short sleeves in the 50 degree weather. I figure they will come in handy in the spring cycling season, too.

Then last night we had a Halloween party to go to and we were the Jetsons. Lots of food and beer but we were still in bed by midnight. Just goes to show we're getting old I guess. And if you don't know who the Jetsons are, then I'm afraid we can't be friends.

While the weather is so nice, I have a 4-5 miles run in town planned for this afternoon. That will give me about 25 miles for the week. I didn't get any long runs in, but that's the most consistent I've been since triathlon training. We all have to start somewhere.


Out of the woods

Figuratively, not literally. Unfortunately, John has not been feeling so well so I'll probably be running on my own all week. I am finally feeling better and I had an excellent run last night at SMP with the Nerds. We had a large group, too. I was a little surprised since it's getting colder and most people don't like running in the cold. Another reason I like the Nerds. I shouldn't even be typing this, but I'm looking forward to running in the snow this winter.

After getting lost at WyCo the other week, I decided I should do some homework and learn the trails a little better so I won't get lost again. For WyCo, that's going to take a while. But I found a map of SMP (courtesy of the Nerds, of course) and the trails really made sense last night. I think I'd be OK running there on my own one of these days. I'm hoping that starting in the next week or two, I can get to SMP early on Tuesdays for an additional 2-2.5 miles before running with the Nerds.
Tonight I am doing something I have been dreading for a while - putting my bike on the trainer. Since I'm going to be increasing my running miles, I need at least one day of biking to prevent any knee injuries. So tonight I'm cleaning my bike and spinning, hopefully for about an hour. We'll see how long it is before I'm bored out of my mind. Thank God I just downloaded new songs to my phone!


I'm married to an Ultra runner!

Woo Hoo! John completed his first 50k this weekend in WI! Here's his race report:


I'm so proud of him! While it's a "baby" by most ultra standards, it's farther than I've ever gone and after a full day in the car!

I was there to spectate and even though the weather was kinda crummy, I had a lot of fun. I hiked 1.7 miles to the first aid station (which was also #2 and #3) and watched John come through at miles 6 and 11. They were a little short-handed so I stayed and directed traffic for the 1/2 marathon and 10k races that were coming through. I also took care of some clothes for one of the 50k runners that didn't have a drop bag. I managed to catch him at the finish line to return them, as well. I didn't realize you could drive to that aid station, but I'm glad I took the trail. It was absolutely gorgeous and made me wish I was running.

While directing traffic, I saw an old friend from Platteville and managed to hike back to the finish line and catch up with him. He was 5th overall in the 10k. It helps to have been a college track runner.

I saw the winners in the 50 mile race finish and I believe Nikki Kimball was there. Otherwise there is another phenomenal female ultra runner with red curly hair. She won the women's race and looked fantastic after 50 miles. I can only aspire to what these runners do. I'm looking forward to my own ultra journey. Starting with a 4-miler tonight. :)


16 weeks

I've started looking at my extended schedule to see what I want to train for and what my new goals will be.

There is Boise, obviously, in sub-6 hours as I keep repeating. For that to happen, I need to swim with a Master's group this winter, bike enough to keep fitness until I'm back outside, and run. Lots.

There is Psycho WyCo. That would be my longest running race by a factor of 2.37. I started looking at the calendar to see if this is not a reasonable goal. But the race is a little over 16 weeks away and I think I can safely ramp up my running miles in that amount of time. (This is where being married to another runner is definitely a good thing)

But now I am entering unchartered territory. I currently am at about 20-25 miles per week. For a 50k race, what is the appropriate milage to shoot for? I think swimming one day, biking one day, and running 5 days is reasonable. What about a rest day? Maybe double up the swimming and biking and then take a complete rest day. What about long runs? Does the 70% rule apply? Too much, too little? At least the course is close and I run there every week. I see that as a definite advantage. And then there's nutrition. I'm not even going to touch that one right now.

What will be interesting to watch is my knee. I'm hoping that biking once a week and running (mostly) on trails rather than pavement will keep knee pain at bay. It's never an issue while tri-training, but I had problems when I was training for my first 1/2 and did nothing but run on pavement (I didn't know any better, I swear!)

If nothing else, it should be a good strategy to keep the holiday pounds off. More time running means less time sitting (and eating).

I really can't think past Psycho Wyco and Boise right now. Maybe as I get closer, a 50 miler or a tri AG top-3 will show up on my radar, but one thing at a time. I have a few questions I need to answer before I bite off more than I can chew.


KC Half Marathon - New PR!

That's right folks! After how my runs went over the last two weeks, and given the fact my HR has been about 10 bpm too high, I was planning on just running and having fun. I really didn't think a new PR was in the cards. But I came in just over 2 min faster than my previous PR (1:59:01) with a time of 1:56:54 (8:55 min/mile pace). A few weeks ago I was hoping for a 1:55, but I'm happy with my time. It was also good enough for 94/507 in my AG. Not bad for a 3-toed sloth. :)

Kansas City is a beautiful course, but it's pretty hilly. Most of the locals will go to Chicago if they're trying to BQ or PR. But I have to say, if you've never been to KC, running the full or half marathon is a great way to see the best parts of the city.

My plan was to go at a 9:00 min pace and see how I felt. I knew the first 3 miles would be slow due to the 2 biggest hills on the course so after that I would re-evaluate and adjust my pace as required. John was my personal pacer. He knew a 9 min average would (barely) get me a PR, so that's what he was watching. And I did something I've never done before - I ignored my watch. I checked my HR maybe 3 times, but I wasn't watching splits and I was just running how I felt. I think that may have actually been the best approach. At mile 10, John told me we should slow down, but I felt good and I knew what the end of the course was like so we pushed it.

Here are my mile splits, according to John's Garmin:
1: 9:44
2: 9:07
3: 8:50
4: 8:40
5: 8:44
6: 8:42
7: 9:00
8: 9:13
9: 9:15
10: 8:18
11: 8:14
12: 8:14
13: 6:30

Don't be fooled by the 6:30, that was just over the last 0.1 mile. What's cool is the pace vs elevation on the course Garmin plots. Check this out:

The top is the map of the course, the bottom shows pace in blue and elevation in green. Pretty cool stuff. Makes me want to get a Garmin. But I'm waiting for them to make the wrist unit waterproof so I can wear it swimming.

This is the first race I have actually run the second half as a negative split. Normally I go out too fast and then have to just hold it together for a decent finish. I may have been more happy I was able to negative split than PR. I'm a little sore today, but I was expecting that. I ran hard and I honestly had nothing left at the end, which in my opinion, is the correct way to race.

My other little victory this year was that I caught my rabbit. Two of them actually. I like to find someone (typically a woman who looks like she should be slower than me) who is ahead of me and then make them my rabbit to chase down and pass. Last year, I lost. I got close at mile 10, but then she pulled away and I couldn't keep up. (Based on the size of her rear-end, I should have been able to run her down easily. Looks can be deceiving.) This year, I passed my rabbit at mile 10 and then had to find a new one. The second one I chased for much longer but caught her in the finish chute and passed her too. I was determined this year not to let my rabbit get away.

It was a weekend of small victories, which sometimes are the best kind. We didn't race this morning since John wasn't feeling 100%. With his 50k on the horizon, I let him make the call. If I would have raced today, it would have just been for fun. I am planning on an easy run at one of the local trails later this afternoon to loosen up my legs and enjoy the beautiful fall weather.

I think the race yesterday is a good indication that my base fitness now is much better than my base fitness previously. My winter goal is to improve my running and have a better base when I start to seriously train for Boise. If I start at a better place than last year, I'm pretty sure I can get close to a sub-6 hr finish. Only time will tell, but I'm off to a good start.


New Gaiters

I ordered gaiters from Dirty Girl Gaiters and they came in this week, so of course I had to wear them at WyCo on our Thursday night runs to break them in. I don't remember the name of the pattern, but the bright green and pink complement my bright blue (and muddy) shoes nicely.

They seem to work well and they were a bargain compared to your fancy-schamncy name brand gaiters. And way cooler, I might add.

I was going to skip WyCo as part of my taper for the 1/2 marathon until I thought about it a little. I doubt I'll PR on Saturday (and I've kind of stopped caring) so it's not like 6 miles on the trails will hurt me. And after last week's weird run, I felt compelled to go back to WyCo for an enjoyable run. As it turns out, Bad Ben, John and I are all getting over colds, so we had a nice easy run which was very enjoyable and no one got lost.

Tomorrow is a rest day and then Saturday is the 1/2 followed by the Fall Fell race on Sunday. John is running it too, since his 50k is next week. Starting next week, I'm going to try to make 2 Nerd runs a week, WyCo on Thursdays and SMP on Tuesdays. I need to start increasing my trail mileage since I AM going to do the full Psycho Wyco. (If I keep telling myself that, I will eventually believe I can do it)



I chose rest.

Run or Rest?

That is the question.

All morning I was really fighting to focus and stay awake and it wasn't due to a lack of caffeine. I felt awful - sinus headache, light-headed, fever/chills, body aches and runny nose. I had debated leaving work early but I am surprisingly starting to feel a little better. My sinus headache is gone and I haven't had the chills in an hour or so. Food, maybe? You would think the piece of Orange-lime-rum cake I had for breakfast would have done the trick. Oops. Don't worry, I had a bowl of cereal first. I love the butternut squash and apple soup I made this weekend. Too bad my taste buds are still a little dull. I know it has good flavor, I just can't completely appreciate it.

The debate now is what to do after work. Go home and sleep, like I had planned, or go to SMP and run 5 miles with the Nerds, which I had planned before I was not feeling well. If I'm not feverish and still feeling OK, I'll go run. If I crash mid-afternoon, then I will sleep. I'm supposed to be tapering anyway. I'm unsure of what will be more beneficial - an easy run or a night of rest. I usually pick the run and that's ususally the wrong choice. Hmmm... To run or to rest, that is the question.


HR Never Lies, Part II

I've been slacking on the blog but it's not because I'm not doing anything. Last week I put in several runs, including a 9 mile long run and another trail run at WyCo. I also did a leisurely bike up to the Kansas river with a friend on my hybrid. I have about 3 posts worth of information.

But it appears my HR monitor was right - I wasn't feeling so well this weekend and I still have sore throat. Much of the weekend was spent resting (after the bike ride, that is.)

Let's back track and see where this little cold is going to put me.

10/6 - 4.5 mile run at SMP with DH. He commented I sounded more out of breath than normal and asked several times if the pace was too fast. Ouch.

10/8 - 9 mile run at the airport. Much slower than I had hoped but HR stayed low. I'm obviously working harder to maintain slower paces.

10/9 - 6ish miles at WyCo. My HR was higher than usual and, I GOT LOST. I've never been lost before. I was walking the uphills due to my high HR and lost the guys. Then I lost the trail. I wandered around until I could no longer see any lights ahead of me or hear voices, then I started yelling. At least the guys were able to come back for me right away. As Ben said, that run had a weird vibe. I have never wanted to get out of the woods like that night. I was going to blog about it that night but I was too darn tired. It was an unpleasant run and I'm going to blame it on evil WyCo gnomes. I swear they exist.

10/11 - 21 miles up to the Kansas River and the hills on my hybrid about killed me. But it was a gorgeous ride and I'll blog about it later.

Now we're back to today, after spending most of yesterday on the couch. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to hit 1:55 in the 1/2 this weekend. I'm still going to try to PR, but it might be rough. My HR has consistently been 10 bpm higher than normal. Add the usual 10 bpm due to racing nerves, and I'll barely be able to hold an 11 min/mile pace. I'm exaggerating (I hope) but I don't know if 8:45s will happen. I guess it's more of a "run how I feel" race. Oh well, life happens. I'm drinking lots of fluids, taking vitamins, and eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies.

I'm still thinking about running in the Fall Fell race on Sunday as well, not to really race, but to have fun. Double races sound like something I should try, expecially if I'm serious about doing an ultra in the near future. And what's 7 miles on the trails? Plus, I hear there will be donuts.

Mmmm, donuts.


HR Never Lies

I'm happy to report that my ankle is fine and my knee is scratched and bruise, but otherwise OK. I was really looking forward to tonight's run - cool weather on the trails is always enjoyable.

We started off a little on the slow side. There were 4 guys and 1 other girl beside me. Within the first 1/2 mile (which is mostly downhill) I noticed my HR said 188. WTH?? I figured it was interference or something. But we kept on and the uphills were killing me. My legs were bricks and I was panting; I felt like the fat kid during the first day of track practice. I was drenched in sweat and my hair was dripping.

We kept on at a modest pace, much slower than some of our runs out there, and I could barely keep up. By the end, I had completely fallen off the back of the wagon and was just trying to get back to the car. My head, neck, and chest were cold but my HR was in the 180s. There is something wrong here.

I think I've decided I'm fighting off a cold. I've had the sniffles and been sneezing a lot lately, and coupled with my awful run, I think it's safe to say I'm not 100%. For the run, my ave HR was 171 and max HR was 190. 190!! I don't think I've ever gotten it that high before. And it's not like I'm out of shape. I've been doing this same run every Thursday for the last few months and I'm training for a 1/2 marathon. So I have decided tomorrow is a rest day. I should take my vitamins, avoid alcohol, and get lots of sleep. I don't actually want to get sick.

But I got to thinking: How cool is it that I already KNOW that I'm not 100% and I'm not quite sick. HR monitor training (and training in general) really makes you become more aware of your body and what's it's doing. It's pretty amazing, really.

And now it's time for some much-needed rest. I have a race to train for!



I took my first fall on the trails tonight. I scraped up my knee but bruised my ego more than anything. There was barely any blood, so it doesn't really count. Like a Nerd, I picked up and kept going.

Running with the Nerds on Tuesdays is a good, hard run for me. My ave HR was 171, which is really freakin' high. My max HR was 185. Not an all time high, but anytime I hit the 180s, I know I'm working hard. SMP is nice, but I think I prefer WyCo. I'm not good on the rocks - I blame my giant feet.

Tomorrow is a floater day and I think I'm going to take the night off so I can cook. I just don't have time to cook and workout during the same evening. Could be motivation for me to get up in the morning, but I don't see that happening.


In with the new!

In celebration of my new job (kind of) DH and I bought a fun car! It's a '96 Z3 Roadster; the Bond car in Golden Eye. I wanted to get "BOND GRL" for the license plates, but DH vetoed the idea since he drives it too. We're still debating. He suggested ZZZIPPY but I was thinking RUN WLD. Decisions, decisions. It looks pretty damn good for a '96. Just think, in about 10 more years, it could be a classic car. Just wait until we trick it out.
Besides the new car, I started my new job this week. So far, I really like it. I'm working on a new casino in Atlantic City, so I'm hoping for a site visit. I jumped right in and was at my first meeting today. They weren't kidding when they told me they do "the crazy crap."

As for training, I did a tempo run tonight around the DT airport. I did a 5 min warm up and then took off. I don't know what my splits were, but it took me 31:31 to do the 3.8 miles. Including the warm-up, I averaged 8:17 min/mile. Not too bad considering I haven't done a lick of speedwork in a while. Then I did about a 10 min cool down. Gorgeous weather for a run. Or a convertible ride. I think we may need to go for ice cream. :)


1/2 marathon PR, here I come

I haven't formalized a training plan, so don't even ask. I'm still kinda in that "my season is over so I'm working out for fun" mode. But I realize if I really want a PR in the 1/2 (and I do) that I need to start putting in some serious miles and quality work.

Tonight I headed out for a long run. I figured I would take it easy and see how I felt after 30 min and then decide when to turn around. I was shooting for 8 miles minimum. Well, apparently I felt good since I put in about 10.4. Nice.

Here's the breakdown:

Time: 1:47:41 (includes 0.25 mile walk for cool down and several breaks for traffic lights)
Calories: 1025
HR ave/max: 161/173

I was shooting for an average HR in the low 160s so I was staying aerobic and not pushing my threshold too much. Good job, Sam. For a basic fitness run, I felt pretty good about it. I could complete a 1/2 without a problem, now it's time to work on speed. I think Wednesday I'm going to shoot for a short speed work session at the track. Probably 200 repeats to see how I'm feeling. I only have until the 18th to get ready for this. I'm hoping for 1:55, but any PR would be OK. In the back of my head I'm also looking at splits for a 1:50 finish. For a 3-toed sloth like myself, that would be an accomplishment. :)


End-of-Season Wrap Up

Fall is in the air, which always makes me happy. But unfortunately, fall also means that for us Midwesterners, triathlon season is over. With that, I thought I should recap my season and start thinking about next year.

Before this summer, I had only done 1 sprint triathlon in 2006. I had wanted to do one in 2007 but with the "little" things like graduation, a wedding, honeymoon, changing cities and starting a new job, I stuck to running events. The transition to work and being away from DH was a little tough, so after about 4 months in the "real world" I signed up for Kansas 70.3 How's that for motivation?

In all, this summer I did 4 triathlons - 1 sprint (Bike Source), 1 70.3 (Kansas), 1 international distance (Jackson County Triathlon) and 1 sprint-turned-splash-and-dash (Olathe Women's Tri). So while I only had one race under my belt in May, I now have completed 5 races. I also did a 1/2 marathon, 110-mile bike ride, 4-mile fun race, and a 10k trail race.

I didn't actually finish the 70.3 due to lightning on the course. But other than that, I have to say that would have been my favorite distance. The long course was fun, too. Sprint races are fine, but at this point there is no sense of accomplishment. I hope that on any given weekend, I can slog through a sprint, no matter how I've been training. For me triathlons are about pushing the limits and sprints just don't have that affect anymore. I guess that means I'm improving.

Top 10 Lessons Learned:
  1. Never donate blood 2 days before a 1/2 marathon.
  2. Always practice with gear before a race (wetsuit).
  3. Particularly in cold water, warm up and get acclimated BEFORE the race. (Did this twice. When will I learn?)
  4. BBQ is NOT a good pre-race meal.
  5. Pizza, in moderation, is a great pre-run fuel.
  6. Don't leave nutrition to the last minute.
  7. I can go harder on the bike than I think.
  8. Ditto on the run.
  9. If the t-shirts are men's, order a small.
  10. Runs longer than 4 miles require socks.
  11. I am allergic to the little plastic-y strip at the bottom of bike shorts. Do not wear these shorts for more than 2 hours.

I know it was 11, but the last one was important. I didn't figure that one out until 2 hours into the 110 mile ride. I couldn't take my shorts off for another 8 hours. Sunburnt hives are not fun.

It was a good season if for no other reason that I can call it a season. I raced fairly consistently and I have a good idea on how I'll adjust my season next year. It took several races, but by the Jackson County tri, I felt comfortable and felt like I actually was a triathlete, pre-race rituals and all.

I'm starting to look at next season. I'll do the Bike Source tri again, sub in the Boise 70.3 for the Kansas one, eliminate the 110 mile ride for the Shawnee Mission triathlon, repeat the Jackson County tri, and possibly add the Midwest Meltdown (which was cancelled this year). I'm still up in the air about the women's tri.

As for running events, I'm doing the Kansas City 1/2 marathon in October. I may do the Mahaffie 10k again this year since I won my age group last year and I'd like to see if I could repeat. After that, I have this crazy idea to do an ultra-marathon in February, on Valentine's Day, no less. DH is also running that race, so what better way to spend the day? I'd like to do more trail races, and depending on how this trail stuff goes, I may attempt another ultra next fall. (I'd like to keep my summers open for triathlons)

Next, I need to register for Boise, and find registration dates for the other races. After that, I'll put together my next 6 weeks of training and do a long-term training plan for Boise. I love putting together training plans. And I do it the old-fashionined way - a calendar and pens, preferrably different colors for differen workouts. Laying out workouts on the computer just doesn't have the same satisfaction for me.

The last thing on my list is a racing log. I'm planning on starting a spreadsheet with all of my races, dates, distances, splits (where available) to keep track of my times as I continue racing. As an engineer, I love numbers and numbers don't lie. I just haven't taken the time to put all of the information in one place yet. It's good to look back from time to time to see how far you have come. Particularly when it's hard to get out the door, I find seeing how far I've come to be great motivation. And speaking of that, I'm looking forward to a 9 miler on the schedule for tomorrow.


Running With the Pack

There's a certain rythm to trail running you can't find on the road or track. Every run has it's own pulse and flow, and no two runs produce the same experience. Usually I am a solitary runner but I have come to appreciate running with the KC Trail Nerds. It's more than having someone else to clear the spider webs and scare off the copperheads (saw my first one last night).

When all you hear is the pounding footsteps in front of you and behind you, the swishing grasses and trees in the wind, rythmic breathing, and the beating of your own heart, you realize the pack is greater than the individual. The pace is faster and smoother, the distances farther than one might run on his own. There is something animalistic and natural to running in a pack; around corners, up hills, over branches, and through streams. If you've ever been trail running, then you know that humans were meant to run wild.

There is a bond between all runners and endurance athletes. I think it's true that our society has come to confuse comfort with happiness. The greatest rewards come after suffering and sacrifice. All endurance athletes know this - this is why we train. Part of the allure to doing a marathon or triathlon is doing something you didn't know your body could do and doing something that the average human can't do. And once you have pushed past those limits, you want to see how far you can really go. To surround yourself with others of the same mindset is refreshing and motivating.

I will always be more of a solitary runner than someone who always trains with a group. But I really enjoy the new "pack" I've found and the sense of community they offer.

Find your pack.

Run wild.


Olathe Medical Center Women's Triathlon - RR

(The proper soundtrack for this post is “Water Stops” by Dispatch or “When the Levy Breaks” by Led Zepplin. I’m just not that technologically advanced to have music play.)

It rained for 4 days prior to the race and I was debating on even showing up. They weren't going to cancel anything until the day of, so DH and I were up and off. Peanut butter bagel and gatordae for breakfast, like usual. I think we need new bagels b/c mine was like a hockey puck. Or I need a new race day breakfast routine. (I’m tired of chewy bagels. I’m open to suggestions.)

It was lightly raining when we showed up and I thought we may be in the clear. I went to rack my bike but the rain had washed all of the rack assignments off, so it was a free-for-all. They said only 200+ of the 400 registered showed up, so there was plenty of room. I racked my bike but took everything else with me in a vain attempt at keeping dry. We had one umbrella, but it wasn’t enough.I went to get body marked and it started raining HARD. I was soaked, but figured it didn't matter since I'd be in the water soon. We found a shelter and waited. I was still hoping the rain would let up so I could finish getting my transition area set up without getting everything soaked through. About 15 min before the first wave, they announced the bike portion was cancelled and it would be a "Splash and Dash." Grrr. It was a smart decision, but I was still disappointed. It was raining so hard and for so long that water was sheeting off pavement – not good for a bike race with several 90 degree turns.

Those of you who know me know that the bike portion is my best and favorite leg. I seriously considered packing up and heading home (which a lot of people did) but I was already there, so what the hell. Besides, you can't wear a t-shirt for a race you didn't race. And I wanted to wear the t-shirt.The water was cold. No sun and several days of rain had the water temp at 72 the day before; I wouldn't be surprised if it was 71 when we raced. Of course I didn't bring my wet suit since it's a short race. Silly Sam should've brought her suit. I didn’t “warm up” either. I keep repeating the same stupid mistakes – in cold water, I need to get in before the swim or I have a hard time breathing until the last 100m. Not good when the race is only 500m. Maybe next year I’ll actually pay attention to these lessons I’ve learned. The swim was rough - I had a hard time breathing in the cold water. But at least it was short. My feet were numb by the time I got out of the water. My swim was painfully slow – 12:43 (2:22/100) but with all the doggy-paddling, I’m not surprised.

The rain had picked up while we were in the water. My running shoes were soaked. I didn’t bring socks and I think they would have been impossible to get on. I spent 1:00 min in T1 and I still couldn’t get my shoes tied right. It was a paved run course and there were placed the water was ankle deep. Not like it mattered at that point; once the rain picked up, it didn’t let up until Sunday. I had to stop and tie both shoes at one point. Between my cold fingers and the wet laces, things just weren't working right. I didn't stop at any aid station - 500m and 2.6 miles in cool weather and rain didn't justify the fluids. With all the water, I had several raw areas on my feet when I finished. I didn’t bleed through my shoes, so it couldn’t have been that bad.

It was a short run and I actually passed several people, unusual for me. I was at 22:34 on the run (8:41/mi) which isn’t terrible given the weather but I was still disappointed in my race. Total time was 36:16, 8/32 in my age group, 52/251 overall. I know I can be better, I guess it’s always good to improve. I also know you can't control the weather but it wasn't the best way to end my triathlon season. I did feel bad for all the first-timers who didn't get to bike.

I'm not a big fan of the women's only events. Reverse sexism, in my opinion. And I never really got the "Girl Power" crap. Triathlons are not about holding hands and skipping. Just my $0.02. It took forever to get body marked because everyone got a free pearl necklace (like a $5 one from Wal-Mart) and it was taking a long time for women to pick out which length they wanted. Seriously. For the record, I did not take a necklace. But it was nice having a women's cut dri-fit shirt and the porta-potties were the cleanest one I’ve ever seen at a race, so I guess it wasn’t all bad.

Time to clean up the bike and focus on my winter running events. I’ll have to post an end-of-season wrap up and start looking towards next year.


Mizuno Wave Ascend Shoe Review

We ran at WyCo last night and I got the chance to wear my shoes on the trails for the first time. Now I realize I have only worn them twice - once for 5 miles on pavement and last night for 4.5 miles on the trails, but I LOVE THESE SHOES!!

I didn't even think about my feet until Jim asked how the shoes were. No blisters, no rubbing, I had forgotten all about them. I was disappointed we cut the run a little short, but maybe that's a good thing with brand new shoes. I usually like to put in 4-5 runs less than 5 miles when I first get shoes to break them in. Hopefully next week we run for longer. I can tie these much tighter than the Salomon and they don't come loose since they are actual laces. The cut of the sole really helps my under-pronation problem, too. So, we will see how they do on a longer run, but I think I have found a good pair of trail shoes.

With all the rain, I was really expecting a muddy mess but it wasn't that bad. I was a little disappointed with that, too. I was really planning on taking my shoes home with no trace of blue left. I'll have to try again this weekend.

I am a little concerned about the triathlon tomorrow. 100% chance of precipitation between now and then but I don't know if there's a chance for T-storms (as lightning flashes outside my window). I just don't want to get out there and then have the race cancelled at 10 a.m. with the in-laws in town. I hope it clears off. Besides, DH was going to treat me to a post-race cinnamon roll, extra icing. Mmmm.


It's the little things...

that really make me happy, like new shoes and crisp fall air.

After several weeks with my Salomon shoes, I finally gave up. Those babies gave me blisters worse than cotton socks. I've never had blisters 3 layers deep before. Running is no fun when you can feel the skin on your feet pulling away. I did manage to get them good and dirty. I'm planning on cleaning them up and using them for street shoes and demoting my current street shoes to lawnmowing shoes.

I was in Topeka today for work, so I stopped by Great Plains Running Company to look at trail shoes. The 10% discount for being a KC Trail Nerd was pretty nice. They had a great selection of women's trail shoes, no small feat.

I ended up with Mizuno Wave Ascend 3s, in a very cool blue. I took them out for a 5 mile spin on the road to get them a little broke in before my weekly Thursday night run with the Nerds at WyCo. FYI, I have giant feet. I'm 5'4" and I had to get size 10! I normally run in 9.5 since my feet need the extra room on long runs (size 9 normally) but 10 was a new one. That means extra stability, right?

On a different note, my last triathlon is this weekend. It's really short, but it was the last in the season I could find. It's an all womens triathlon and I have mixed feelings about it, but I'll save that topic for an entirely different post. At the pre-race meeting, I could have been a rock start since I've done triathlons before. The number of newbies was unbelievable. Girl power and such, I guess, I don't really get it myself. I am excited about women's sized, dri-fit T-shirt though.


Winding Down

The racing season is coming to a close, at least for those of us with winter. I have one more triathlon and then I'm going to turn my attention toward improving my running. DH and I did 9.25 miles last night at the park. It's been a while since I've ran more than 1 hour, but I am feeling surprising well today.

The rain cancelled my ride today - I just don't feel safe on the roads in the rain. And actually, I was leaning towards having a cocktail today anyway. I submitted my 2 week notice at work this afternoon and I'm having a margarita. The last few days/weeks have been a little stressful with making this decision and having to tell my boss, so I figured I deserved a little unwinding time.

There is always plenty of time to get wound back up.


Jackson County Triathlon Race Report - Long Course

John says 4:30 in the morning is too early to get up for a race. It is a little early when you have to wait for the sun to come up to pump up your tires.
For the last few weeks (or maybe months) I have had a hard time sticking to my training. Blame it on my job or whatever, I just hadn't trained for this race as much as I wanted to. Then, in typical pre-race fashion, I went over my predicted time and when I compared that to last year's results, that would put me at 2nd to last in my AG. Wow. So I set my goal time at 2:30 and hoped I wouldn't be last. That would be a serious mental blow at this point. I was going to race to finish, but I'm tired of that, I wanted to RACE. So I did.
Swim caps come with attitude. (Actually I was cold from a dip in the lake).
Scuba Steve! I can't believe he actually had a snorkel. I'm pretty sure that's against USAT rules. Then again, if you need a snorkel, the swim probably isn't much fun.
It was a 2 loop swim with a beach run. I prefer one long swim, but it was fine. My swim time was my slowest swim to date, but I'm going to blame it on the beach running.
After the swim, I hopped on the bike and tried to catch the ultra-fast women in my head. If I didn't pass someone, I was sure to come in last. So I biked hard and went pretty aggressively through the hills. I love passing men on expensive bikes, especially when I know their wave was at least 5 min ahead of mine. Here's a glimpse of the bike course. I really enjoy riding through the country and by the lake. The course was completely closed to traffic, which was AWESOME!! I thanked every police officer and volunteer I passed.
The Bridge of Death. Ok, so I'm exaggerating. We had to stop, dismount, and run our bikes across for safety reasons, and I'm glad the RD did it that way. This was right after some tight S-curves. I only know of 1 guy that wiped out and it was his own fault for not slowing down.

I had a great bike leg and then took off on the 5 mile run. My legs felt better than I had hoped but my stomach was acting up. Big surprise. I skipped the aid stations until the turn around point and by then my stomach was fine. I was passed by a few women, but that's typical. Come to find out, second through fifth place were within 2 minutes. But I couldn't have made that up (unless I had been training like I should have). It was probably my best race to date and I know I went hard and didn't hold back. I was 110/235 overall, 12/50 women and 5/13 in my age group. That's like winning for me. Not in last place by a long shot. Here are my overall splits:
S: 25:36 (2:33 min/100m)
T1: 1:29
B: 1:13:57 (20.7 mph!!!!)
T2: 1:22
R: 42:25 (8:29 min/mile)
Total: 2:24:47
I have to point out that I never have broken 20 mph for an average speed on the bike. But I also think I need to recalibrate my bike computer since it was way off the results from today. Good tech t-shirt that actually fits. I may do this one again next year and really try to make it on the podium. I will sleep happy tonight.


Pre-race rituals

Last night I went up to Smithville lake and swam with a co-worker who is also doing the Jackson County Tri. The lake was much greener than I remember and the bottom was slimy (good reason not to touch the bottom). I guess that's the downfall to warm weather. I see it as boot camp for my immune system. I figure there are women who pay good money for a seaweed body wrap - I should take advantage of swimming through it for free!

I decided an OWS the Thursday before race day is a good pre-race ritual I'm going to keep up. It felt great to be in the water and it really helps my confidence. I think my co-worker also felt it was beneficial. I haven't been swimming as much as I should due to limited pool hours now that school is back in session but I have no problems with six tenths of a mile.

And I definitely learned my lesson from the Bike Source triathlon - no BBQ at 9 pm the night before a race! I'll stick with the usual pasta or uber-thin all-natural pizza. For this distance I don't think I need to go overboard on the carbs. I've found I race better if I'm at a slight deficit.

Sunday is the big day and I'm excited. The race is sold out, so it should be a lot of fun. Although looking at last year's times, I really hope I'm not in last place in my age group. That would be a mental blow and it's a definite possibility. I just wish they had more race info on the website, like number/size of waves, beach start or standing water start, if transition areas are assigned or first-come, stuff like that. I like to have all the information beforehand. I'm such an engineer.

Here's to another race weekend!



It's a funny thing. I was going to blog about my severely blistered feet until I read some of the Leadville 100 trail race updates. While I was complaining this weekend about raw feet, these guys were enduring rain, sleet, snow, cold weather and high altitudes to run for over 24 hours straight. When these guys DNF, it isn't because of an upset stomach or lousy blisters, it's because their kidneys started to shut down, they broke a bone (or several), or had 2 bouts with hypothermia.

Makes blisters seem pretty ridiculous.

I've been having a hard time sticking to my training plans and finding motivation and I think my perspective on racing and training has shifted from where it should be. I remember when workouts were the highlight of my day and races were the icing on the cake. I remember when I couldn't run 2 miles straight and now 7 miles is a 'maintenance' run.

I also remember when I thought marathoners and triathletes were crazy and a 1/2 marathon seemed impossible. I didn't even consider a 1/2 Ironman anything a normal person could do. And here I am, three 1/2 marathons, three triathlons (one 1/2 Ironman) under my belt and I had lost the joy to train. I had ignored what I have already accomplished and stopped thinking about what I have yet to accomplish.

I think it's safe to say that all athletes get burned out from time to time. It just took reading about some of the toughest people on the planet, racing in awful conditions, to put my own trivial issues in perspective.

I have 2 more triathlons this season. My goal is to finish my first Oly dist and race hard my last sprint. I'm running in the KC 1/2 marathon and I will set a new PR. Then from October through February, I'm going to train for my first ultra - the Psycho WyCo 50k this winter. 2008 was my "Year of Big Mileage" and I don't see a reason to stop.

Just for the record, while my perspective on distance has change, Ironman athletes and ultra runners are two groups that will never cease to amaze me.


The Most Ridiculuous Ticket Ever

While riding through DeSoto, KS last night, I heard sirens. I had ridden farther into town than usual. I typically turn as soon as I get close to town. I looked back and saw a cop car, lights flashing behind me. I figured he was just going around and I kept pedaling. Sirens again. Ok, so I pull over and sure enough, they took my driver's license (ran it for outstanding warrants for good measure) and wrote me a ticket. If you look at a large version of the ticket, you'll see I was "Unlawfully operating an '08 Trek bicycle."
Turns out I was riding on a street where bicycle riding is prohibited. No, I wasn't on the highway, I was on a 2-lane low volume road out in the country where the speed limit is 45 mph. And there were no signs posted from the direction I was riding, only on the way out of town. I was headed back since there's no alternate route anyway.
The best part is that after they issued me the ticket (court date is 8/25) they actually loaded me and my bike up and ran my ass out of town. Hence the back-seat car ride. They dropped me off at the border with the adjacent town, which ironically enough, had a "Share the Road" sign posted on their stretch of the same road!

So my first traffic ticket in the last 10 years is for riding on my damn bicycle. It would be a whole lot funnier if the ticket wasn't $100! My riding buddy thought it was hilarious since we've ridden that road numerous times. Criminal, is my new name in the office.

What can I say, I'm just a badass.


Psycho Night 10k Race Report

Friday night, I ran my first official trail race. Just a baby race, compared to what some of these guys run. I wasn't really sure what I was getting into, or how fast I would be under race conditions, so I started at the back of the pack. I felt a little out of place. At least my shoes already had mud on them. Copious amounts of bug spary and I was ready to go.

No timing chips, no starting mats, just a couple of bright orange cones, a few words of wisdom from Bad Ben, the race director, and ready, set, go! I realized about 10 steps into this that I was a little TOO conservative in my starting place. I tried passing a few people but it was difficult with rock crossings. I managed to get beyond a mother and her two daughters before entering the bridle trails.

I was just starting the first hill when I heard it - the sound of whining. If you've ever run with the Nerds, you know that whining will result in being buried in a shallow, unmarked grave next to the trail. I couldn't believe it. I looked at my watch -3:08 minutes into the race and one of the girls was already complaining! I thought, this is going to be a long 6 miles if this keeps up. At 4:15 I heard the mother offer to walk. At 6:20 they started walking and 7 minutes into the race, I never heard from them again. At least it was over quickly. I didn't notice any shallow graves on the way back, but then again, they're unmarked.

I met Barefoot Rick, easily distinguished by his lack of footwear. The highlight of my run - I had just passed Rick going through some rocks and got to the first of the muddy areas. To my right, I see a guy go down and hear Rick shout with child-like joy "Yeah!! Shoe-sucking mud!" as he ran right through the middle, passing me in my vain attempt at solid footing. Barefoot Rick and I leap-frogged for much of the race until the end, when I passed him going down a rocky slope. I can't believe how fast he is barefoot.

I was able to pass a few people on the first half of the course. Passing is much more difficult on single track trails than any road race. You actually have to plan and think about it.

The trail wound through the "Triangle" and I think I was better off in the dark, because then at least I wasn't tempted to try to figure out where I was or what direction I was headed in. Passing was out of the question and I was glad to follow someone anyway. When I think of trail running, the Triangle is exactly what I think of. Although, you have to wonder if the trail creator was in some kind of chemically altered state when that trail was designed. That's an entirely different conversation.

Out of the triangle and on the way back, I made up a lot of ground and passed a ton of people. I met a few of the Mud Babes and talked with a few other groups. I was practically skipping on the down hills. I'm sure someone was waiting for me to do a face plant, but I was having way too much fun to slow down. I figured if I did fall, I deserved it. Having trail shoes is a definite advantage.

I finished strong and felt I could have gone harder - there were just too many unknowns. I had a near-perfect Friday evening - trail race, followed by a hot shower, cold beer, and ice on the knees. If only I didn't have any blisters, it would have been perfect.

Turns out, I finished 4th out of the ladies (out of 31). Damn, so close to placing. I think next time I'll start closer to the front and really give those Mud Babes a run for their money. :) John joked that I should give up this triathlon stuff and get into the trail running circuit. While giving up triathlons is out of the question, I think I am going to try to find a trail marathon next year and see where that takes me. I'm trying to PR in the KC 1/2 marathon this fall, but after that I may be done with road races.

Except for triathlons, of course.


Dirty Shoes

Actually, now that they're dry, they look relatively clean. DH and I did a little over an hour at WyCo this weekend and had a blast. There's an easy way around high temps - run early, just bring lots of water. I'm really looking forward to the Psycho Night Run this Friday. And the spider webs weren't nearly as bad this time. I really love running Fester's Wander, for anyone that might be heading out that way. Complete shelter from the sun, too.
I realized I have less than 3 weeks until my first Olympic distance tri. Yikes. Time to get serious again. Tonight I have 25 miles on the bike scheduled. I think I'm going to head over to Longview Lake and bike the course. I'm planning on hills and I'm sure I won't be disappointed.
I did 2000m in the PV pool last night. I would have done more except I got tired of people with poor pool etiquette. I miss the ISU days with clearly posted rules and lanes categorized by speed. Ah, college. That and I forgot my water bottle, so I quit when I was thirsty. I suppose pool water was an option but I prefer my chlorinated water without sunscreen and deodorant residue. Can't wait for the lake water, nice and warm this time of year!


Bad day

Today has been rough. To make a 2-day long saga into a paragraph: I had a speciality contractor (non-engineer) basically tell me I'm doing my job wrong in front of our clients. Then, in subsequent emails, instead of contacting me for information, he went to the owner and said he wanted the calculations from "that woman" and hopefully there was a mistake.

Did I mention he's not even an engineer?

Before my blood pressure skyrockets any further, I'm leaving to go ride about 30 miles.


WyCo Solo

I was supposed to swim last night, but when I got home, my new trail shoes were sitting on the doorstep, just waiting to be taken on a run. So I ditched the pool and headed out to WyCo Park to run the trails there solo. I was planning on doing about 6 miles, or an hour, whichever came first. I honestly have no idea how far I ran, but I did run for a little over an hour.

It rained earlier in the day, so there were some muddy areas and there was one big tree that was down. I scampered around it, sure I was going to get into poison ivy. It would have been a great run, but I learned why it's good to run in a group and NOT be in the lead - spider webs!! I must have ran through at least 20 of them and they creeped me out each time. I had a few various insects try to ride along. Anything with more than 4 legs gives me the heebie-jeebies. After a while, I picked up a stick and I ran with a giant stick in my hand to clear the webs in front of me. It worked pretty well, I just hoped that I didn't happen along any of the Trail Nerds while I was running. They would wonder who in the hell is this crazy woman running with a stick and what exactly is she chasing. I ditched it at my turn around point, figuring I had already cleared the trails.

On the way back, I found a way to always run fast, even if you're going up a huge hill and are really tired - horse flies. These little buggers are great motivation to keep moving at all costs. I only got bitten a few times, so I think I did OK but my language would have made a sailor blush. It would have helped if I had remembered the bug spray. I also learned that my trail shoes have to be laced much tighter than my road running shoes. I had a blister on each big toe and I've never blistered there before. My shoes are now covered in mud, like any good trail running shoe should be. With this humidity, it will take a while for them to dry out, too. It was a good run and great workout. I'm looking forward to hitting the trails again, this time letting someone else clear the path!

Workout Stats:
Time: 1:12:48
Dist: ~6 miles
Calories: 729
HR ave/max: 165/180

One thing I've noticed while running at WyCo (I've been there a few times) is that I burn WAY more calories and have a higher HR than I would while on a hard tempo run. Since trail running is such an intense workout, I have at least 1 hour of trail scheduled every week. On a related subject, I didn't get my resting HR this morning since my HR monitor strap was still soaking from the run last night. Maybe I should have two straps to keep around.

From Saturday's bike ride
Workout Stats:
Time: 2:33:51
Dist: 36 miles
Calories: 987
HR ave/max: 129/161


7/24/08 - Brick

Last night I did a brick, which had had to cut short due to darkness. I did 18/4.5 and it was hot and humid out, not to mention windy on the bike.

Workout Stats:
Time : 1:54:12
Dist: 18 mi/4.5 mi
Calories: 1140
HR ave/max: 165/179

It was a tough workout due to the humidity. I felt like my skin was suffocating in sweat. I had to walk the steepest hill, mostly due to my skyrocketing HR. It took longer than normal for my HR to drop below 100, so I knew it was a tough workout and that was confirmed by my resting HR this morning. I know I should decrease my effort by about 10% when it's in the 90s with 90% humidity, but I never want to make a workout 'easy' when it's not supposed to be. And 16 mph on the bike and 9+ min/ mile running just don't feel like a real workout.

Daily Stats:
Resting HR: 58
Weight: 139.5

So I did it - I posted my weight for the world to see. My racing goal is 135. I was supposed to run this morning, but it was thundering and lightning outside. And with my HR up 4% from yesterday, I shouldn't feel guilty about missing a run. But I still feel guily. Tonight I have 2000m in the pool, unless it's closed due to t-storms, then I'll probably go for an hour-long run. The high is 93 at 5 pm today, so a pool workout would be enjoyable.

Tomorrow am, DT and I have a 30+ ride planned and another co-worker might join us. Sunday DH and I are still planning on hitting the trails. Since they're mostly shaded, it should be cooler than running on the road.


Busy as a Bee

With the house renovations, I have been pretty darn busy but I did make time for the pool last night. I think I stumbled upon a tri-club's swim practice. At least there were several triathletes at the pool. The tri-suit and tan lines are a dead give away. There was also a girl there that blew by me like I was floating. She obviously has been swimming much longer than me and I thought it was pretty cool to see a girl smoke everyone in the lanes next to us, too.

Time: 44:41
Dist: 2000 m
Pace: 2:14/100m (2:02/100yd)

My HR monitor didn't make contact through the whole workout, so it's not even work posting that info. I might order a small chest strap for swimming since the M loses contact and I even have it pinned so it doesn't get loose. My swim goal for next year is to get to 2:10/100m or 2:00/100yd. I think another off season with the Masters will help get me there.

I am going to try to monitor my resting HR everyday. This morning I was at 56 bpm, which is higher than I was before the HIM. I blame it on lower aerobic capacity. I was at 53 bpm and I'd like to get back down to the lower 50s. Should be interesting to watch as I keep training. I was at 58 bpm before I seriously started HIM training and dropped to 53 in a few months. I weighed myself this morning too. I'm not going to post that number just yet. I'll just say I have about 7 pounds I'd like to drop permanently.

With work and the house, I've had to reorganize this week's schedule. Tonight I'm doing a brick out at SMP - 25/5 as long as the t-storms hold off. Friday morning I have a 5 mile tempo run and Friday night I'm back in the pool for 2000m. Saturday morning I'm biking 35 mi with DT (from work) and Sunday DH and I are doing 6 miles of super-hilly trails. I heard one lady called them bill-goat trails. You just have to hope you don't fall to the side - you'll tumble about 70 feet before you hit the bottom and there's nothing in the way to stop you.

I have new-found motivation to get all my workouts in - I signed up for the Jackson County triathlon long course this morning. I know I can finish it; I want to race it. I was looking at last year's times and I think I'll be slower than most, but I know what kind of paces I'd like to hit and that's the important thing.

DH and I are going to run in the KC 1/2 marathon this fall, too. He's going to run with me as a training run before his ultra. Since he has a Garmin 205, he's going to pace me so I can PR. My current PR is 1:59:01 (9:05/mi). I'm shooting for 1:55:00 (8:46/mi). And this time, I'm not donating blood 2 days before the race.


Alternative Workouts

Lask week was just one of those weeks where work consumed my life and I barely got a workout in. I did get two runs in and one bike but not what I was hoping for. And this weekend turned into a home-remodeling marathon. But I spent most of my time mudding and sanding walls and ceiling, and I painted some of the ceiling beams, so I did get a good shoulder and back workout.

I have a lot of house-related work I need to do this week so we can install our bathroom floor this weekend. I'm still hoping to get most of my workouts in. All runs have been moved to the morning due to the 90+ temps we're having. Tonight I'll try to hit the outdoor pool for another 5000m. I officially signed up for the Women's triathlon. I haven't signed up for the Jackson County tri yet. I had planned on doing the oly but I might drop down to the sprint. Probably not, but it's nice to have the option.