Suprisingly Fun Ride

I love it when a workout happens to surprise me in a good way. I had a crappy day at work today and ended up working 9.5 hours. Then I came home and painted since I seem to have never-ending paint projects around the house. At that point, I was losing motivation to do anything and settled on 30 minutes on the trainer.

I set everything up and after 2 minutes I realized I would much rather be outside, even for just a little bit. I leaned my bike against the garage and hit the button to shut the door. Right as I was about to step in the house to tell John I was leaving, I realized my handle bars were in the path of the garage door and we don't have one with a safety mechanism. We have an old-school door that will smush unsupervised children and animals. Good thing we don't have any of those. I managed to tilt my bike and get it out right as the door came down, cursing the whole time. Stupid, stupid.

I get out of the drive way and I noticed my bike was riding very smooth and it was climbing hard. Did I really forget to inflate my tires? (I actually hadn't re-inflated them after reassembling my bike, which tells you how long it's been since I've ridden). Yeah, 75 psi. Nice job, Sam. Turn around in the church parking lot and head home.

Back in the garage to get my pump (covered in spider webs, none the less. Serves me right). Get my tires pumped up and I'm off. Again. I cross 75th street and I'm cruising down a hill when I realize my eyes are kinda dry. Jeez, I forgot my glasses. Are you kidding me? Did I remember my helmet? Clothes? Head? Oh well. At this point, I figure I'll put in 5 miles and turn around. I was way beyond caring about my ride.

The funny thing is that it was a GREAT ride! Maybe since I wasn't concerned with time, distance, cadence or anything else, I just had fun. I felt like I was really cruising through some of the neighborhoods. The air was nice, a little cool and very fragrant, and the roads I was on were mostly shaded. At one point, I herded a goose for the benefit of traffic. One stray goose was waddling down the center line of two lanes of traffic. Two mini-vans had pulled up in front of me waiting for it to cross, but it kept waddling right down the center line. Both cars had their windows down, so I rolled in between them.

"I'll get him."

I ushered him to one side so the que of 6 cars now behind us could keep moving. I slowly rolled on the shoulder to let all the cars around until I could get clipped back in. I thought it was hilarious. I even had one lady say thank you out her window.

I put in 7 miles without looking at my computer, and since I was having fun I decided to put in 10 before I turned around so it would be a decent ride. I did the 20 miles in 1:05, and that was with stop lights and a Canadian goose. Not bad. I love it when a crappy day ends with a great workout.


Horse (Hill) Flies

Last night's run was another sopping-wet adventure through insect- and nettle-infested woods. I loved it! Except unlike last week where there were 11 runners at our Thursday night run, I was the only one there. I called Sophia, who really wanted to run, and made plans to meet up with her later. I ran about 3.5 miles and headed back to where Sophia met me and we did another 4.

The horse hill flies were out in force last night. Horse hill flies are special breed of horse fly that primarily live and hunt in Horse Hill, where they evolved from normal horse flies. They feed off trail runners, so they have super-mutant strength and have been rumored to carry off slower runners at the back of the pack. They don't just bite, they'll drain your blood if you give them the opportunity. I've heard they actually don't even bother walkers, equestrians, or hikers. They prefer the salty, sweaty taste of ultra runners. I'm lucky to have escaped last night with nothing more than a few bites on my back. At least I was moving fast enough they couldn't get a good grip. Or maybe it was the sweat coming from every pore on my body that prevent my demise. Either way, I survived their attack.

By the end of the run, I was wiped out. I couldn't have made it much farther without more water. I brought some salt, remembering last week's run and I'm glad I did. Psummer Psycho could be brutal.

We took hobo showers with Dawn dish soap under a hydrant and put tried to clean up as much as possible. Sophia even brought me some clean Mizuno swag to put on so we could go grab food and a beer. When I took off my sports bra, I was able to wring a significant amount of sweat out of it. Nice. Even my dri-fit clothes were soakeed through. I do have some cool Mizuno running clothes to add to the rotation.

We met up with Ben for a beer and food. You appreciate everything more after a long, hot run. Like ice-cold water (or beer), any kind of food, and a long shower. I slept hard when I finally made it to bed.

It looks like it is going to be a Nerd-filled weekend. One loop on Saturday (12-15 miles?), possibly followed by some weed-whacking. Then we're volunteering at the 5k race on Sunday, followed by a few more miles. Hopefully the rest of my weekend will be spent napping or in the pool! I secretly love the dog days of summer.


Heat and Humidity

I managed two trail runs since getting back and the humidity is amazing. During yesterday's 10 mile run, I had two "firsts". It was the first time I have ever completely sweated through my clothes. My shorts we soaking and they sounded like a half-filled water balloon sloshing against my legs. Sweat would run down my torso, pause briefly at my waistband, and then continue down my legs. I can see the advantage of running in buns, but then my nettle encounters would be worse than they already are. It was also the first time I properly managed my salt in a hot and humid run like it was, which at least shows I'm learning something.

Psummer Psycho is coming up in a few weeks, so I'm glad we're having this weather so I can acclimate. No time goals for this race. If we have weather like we have been, it may be an 8 hour race. I'm using this race more as a prep race for the Heartland 50 mile race this fall.

Today I finishing putting my bike back together. I was ticked off at the Trek Store before Boise, so I vowed never to return. I decided to take a crack at reassembling my bike after flying. It was actually much easier than the bike store techies would have you believe. I highly recommend becoming your own bike mechanic. With my new-found bike skills, I think I'm going to finally upgrade my rear derailleur this winter. Between the internet and a set of allen wrenches, I don't see myself going back to the LBS any time in the near future. What a relief.

Now, I'm off to relax in the pool. It's been a productive weekend and I'm looking forward to some time relaxing.


Boise Ironman 70.3 Race Report

Every now and then everything comes together on the perfect day for the perfect race. The weather is clear, the course is fast, and everything just clicks into perfect mechanical form.

This was not one of those days.

This race was the kind where you question your sanity and find out how tough you really are. Does your training stack up? What about nutrition? Can you handle everything Mother Nature has to throw at you, and then some?

Before I start, Boise was great. I loved the town and the residents are some of the most friendly people I have ever met. I saw a few of the trails and John was able to do some serious trail running. I highly recommend it to any outdoor enthusiast and would return in a heartbeat. I also got to meet Sam in person, which was cool to make a cyber friend a real-life friend.

The race itself was great as well. It was a challenging bike course for this flat-lander and nice run. The organization was great and the volunteers were fantastic. But apparently Mother Nature thought that doing this 70.3 race in good weather would be too easy.

The professionals started at 2 pm. An afternoon start threw a monkey wrench in my normal eating strategy. The extra time awake to think about the race made me nervous and I had a hard time eating much of anything. I managed to down a piece of zucchini bread and a Cliff Bar in the morning and half a Cliff Bar around noon. Having that much time before a race start reminded me of the Pepto Bismol commercial: nausea, heart burn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea.

We made it to the lake and I went through the final rounds of tire pressure and triple-checking everything I could think of. What I have noticed is that when I enter T1, my nerves evaporate. There is something about T1 I find incredibly comforting.

It was a clean transition, so nothing was on the ground. I kind of liked the simplicity. It forced me to whittle down my routine to the bare minimum. This would cause a riot among the local Johnson County triathletes. "What do you mean I can't spread out my beach towel and have to pick up after myself!"

At the start of the race, the reservoir looked like glass. But there was a storm blowing in and by 2:30, the water was choppy. We were called in the water at 2:35 for our 2:40 start. I had to pee and figured I would use that to warm my wet suit. (Don't give me that look, everyone does it) I couldn't do it. So the gun goes off and I still have to pee.

About a quarter in, I get hit in the face and my goggles come off. I had to doggy-paddle to fix them and calm myself. The cold water and waves were taking a toll. At about 3/4 through I realized I had sighted a kayak instead of a buoy and I was WAY off track. Damn! That cost some time. When I came out of the water, I was much more tired than usual. 46 min on the swim gives me a 2:25 min/100m, the slowest I have ever done. However, given the cold water, waves, goggles and sighting issues, I can't complain. It was over. At least I don't have to worry about drowning. Or so I thought.

I forgot to go to the bathroom, and took off on my bike. It was still clear, but that didn't last long. By mile 10 the rain started and it didn't let up. Kansas is hilly, but it is rolling hills and at a low elevation. The bike course was between 3800 and 4200 feet and there were sections of climbs that literally went on for miles.

Towards the end of the bike, a well-meaning spectator yelled "Come on ladies, pick up the pace!" I almost reached out and clotheslined him. If you want to cheer, never tell someone to pick up the pace, push harder, or almost done. Saying these things to someone who has been racing for hours could get you punched in the face.

I was hoping to average 17.5 mph given the hills and elevation change. I finished in about 3:07, which was 18 mph. Add in the weather, and I was stoked about my bike time.

Happy as I was to finish the bike, I was so cold from the rain and wind that I couldn't feel my hands or feet. I could barely get my socks on or tie my shoes. My T2 time over 3 mins, much slower than usual. Again, given the weather and that I couldn't feel my appendages, I can't complain.

I took off, once more forgetting to pee. Funny how that works. When I had nothing to do except pedal and look at the countryside, all I could think of was going to the bathroom. I get into transition and I forgot. Again. By mile one, there was no forgetting but there was a porta potty. Thank God.

On the bike, I had started to have pains in my chest. Not that kind of pain, but from my diaphragm. This was a new one. I was low on food and fluids, but with the cold weather I also knew I wasn't losing much. It felt like I had a racquetball stuck in my chest. I think it was from the cold water and cold weather, I was breathing too shallow and it screwed up my diaphragm. That's all I can come up with. Every few miles I would hiccup hard, that kind that hurt. I sucked it up and kept going, thinking "The faster I run, the sooner I'm done."

Then I saw one of the physically challenged athletes on a titanium leg and chastised myself for my silent complaints. I am thankful for all that I have and I race to fully realize what I can do. My plight is easy compared to others. The racquetball shrank to a ping pong ball at mile 9 and the last 4 miles were my best.

Finally, I was heading in to the finish. For the first time in a race EVER, I heard my name announced, followed by "from Prairie Village, Kansas. That's one more state to check off the list." Once I crossed the finish line, a woman wrapped me in a Mylar blanket and put her arm around me. A guy took off my chip while the woman gave me a bottle of water (already opened), put my finisher's medal around my neck, and gave me a finisher's hat. She was the best finish line volunteer I have ever encountered. After 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 59 seconds of racing, having someone to give you what you need and steady you makes a good race experience great.

John and I hung around to watch Sam finish. We were too far to see her cross the finish line, but we did get pictures afterwards. I showered and we decided to get a pizza from Flying Pie before they closed. We shared the elevator back up with a guy holding an award. Thinking he must have won his age group, I said "Congratulations". He asked if I raced and we chit chatted until we reached his floor, where he wished us good night. After he got off, John says "Isn't that the one guy in all the ads?" So we flip open Triathlete magazine, and sure enough, I was talking with Craig Alexander, professional triathlete who WON the race in a very dramatic manner. I'm just glad I didn't put my foot in my mouth.

Here's the difference between me and Craig Alexander: while taking the elevator back to our rooms, he was carrying a trophy and a check for $15000. I was carrying a pizza.

It was a tough day, but given my training and the weather I raced the best race that I could, and really that is all I ever expect. It was a great course with wonderful volunteers and I can't say enough good things about Boise. As much as it hurt and as happy as I was to be finished, the first thing that came into my head after I saw my time was "I know I can do a sub-6". I guess this means next year I'll be back at Kansas.

I think that's one thing all endurance athletes have in common: the finish line does not mean the end.


Almost time...

Quick update from Boise:

Delayed out of KCI, sprinted through Denver and I was pretty sure my bike and luggage wouldn't make it. Bike and luggage made it (thank you Denver baggage handlers). Note: compact car not good for transporting bike box.

Boise is awesome, ran a few trails, swam in the reservoir, got stung by a bee (on my a$$).

Big hills + high elevation = tough bike course. I hope I don't run out of gears.

Sleeping a lot, eating more, read Once a Runner, drinking huge amounts of water. Have used every public restroom in a 3 block radius.

I am ready to go, pacing like a cat and all the other nervous racers trying to stay calm. Less than 4 hours to go...

Bring it on!


Boise Bound!

Tomorrow morning we leave and I'm excited! I have Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday and Friday to relax and get organized. I spent my lunch time today looking up restaurants to try and getting info on what is close to our hotel. I did have a little bit of drama at the LBS picking up my bike. Trek Store of Kansas City, I am done with you. I will be taking my business elsewhere.
But I refuse to leave on a sour note. Actually, I am honestly excited. We have a lot of time to relax before the race, and that's not usual. It will be a nice change of pace not to have to work the days before, rush to packet pick up after work, and wake up at the crack of dawn for the race.

John has looked up some local trails and I'm a little bummed I won't be running with him. Another trip, I guess. How many miles do you think I could run and still technically "taper"? It's tempting but I know it's not wise.

The weather looks OK. Temps are good, but there is a 30% chance of T-storms on Saturday. Only 30%, so my fingers are crossed that they will blow through.
All I want on this trip is to finish my race and have fun. The last few months have been hectic and stressful and I want to enjoy this trip. I can choose to be stressed or I can choose to enjoy life for what is it. I choose fun!


Much Needed Taper

I hate to taper. The meaning "taper-madness" is well understood by any person who is used to training for hours on end. I usually get cranky and irritable and I tend to panic over not working out. I don't taper well.

This race, however, I find myself in great need of rest and I'm looking forward to several days in Boise where I can sleep in every morning, take naps every afternoon, and leisurely acquaint myself with the race course, transition areas, and Boise in general. I am exhausted after this weekend. My arms and shoulders are sore from bench-cutting on Saturday and my hands and wrists are still swollen from the spider bites I picked up. My right wrist was so swollen yesterday it hurt to shift gears on my bike. The Benadryl I've been taking is only adding to my lethargic attitude. My legs are dead from a 53 mile bike, 10 mile run, and a day of hauling equipment up and down hills.

I'm straddling the fine line between nervousness and anticipation and I'm getting to the point where I just want this over. My schedule this year has been hectic to say the least. Good ol' Murphy has made sure that whenever I have something important planned, that three other things come up that also need my immediate attention. I feel like I've been scrambling since March. I suppose every person with a full time job and a family goes through the same thing. I just haven't quite figured out where to make sacrifices so I'm not running myself ragged.

My goal in June is to completely overhaul my schedules: work, home renovation, training, and social. After next week, Boise will be over and the new carpeting will be installed in the house. At that point, I should be able to get a better handle on what needs my attention and what deserves my attention.

But until then, I need to rest and taper. It's time to focus on Boise and trust my training. Regardless of my miles and hours (or lack thereof) put into preparation for this race, I want to have fun. That's the whole point of this - challenging myself and having fun doing it.


WyCo Xtreme Make Over

Yesterday the Trail Nerds organized a HUGE work day at WyCo to cut new trail around a section of seriously washed out bridle trail. The weather was great and there were probably 40 people there working. Jim Megerson did a fantastic job coordinating the event with the help of Ben and Sophia. The afternoon was capped off with a keg of Fat Tire. I probably had too much. :)

I can't wait to run the new foot-traffic bypass, but it will probably have to wait a few weeks since I'm starting to taper for Boise and will be out of town next weekend. I'm hoping to get a ride in today before I take my bike in to be packaged up and I may take the wetsuit out for a practice run. A nap would be nice, too.

I am nursing some wicked insect bites from yesterday. I have taken some Benadryl, but a bite on my right index finger has now swollen the back of my hand and a bit on my left wrist is working its way toward my elbow and turning red. This could be interesting. I may wander over to my neighbor's house who is a nurse and see what she thinks.