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.