2009 in Review

It's that time of year when everyone is making their Top Ten lists and reminiscing about what ups and downs the last year brought. So it is in that spirit that I decided to recap and review what 2009 looked like for me.

This year was my first year of real trail running. I had never run more than 13.1 miles at once before 2009. After really enjoying shorter trail runs, I decided to try my first ultra. And second, and third, and fourth! I also travelled to race this year and I had a lot of fun with that. I only squeezed in a few triathlons, but I think this year I did better on quality of triathlons instead of quantity. The great thing about training and racing is the people you meet. After 2+ years in Kansas City, I finally met some great friends and training partners. All of those weekend long runs and rides, morning speed work sessions, and night runs would be much less fun if I was always by myself.

Here's a few highlights from 2009:
  • First ultra: Psycho Wyco 50k in Feb
  • First 40 mi race: Free State in April
  • First full 70.3 finish: Boise in June
  • First AG podium: Danskin Sprint Triathlon in September (3rd place AG, overall 36/1700+!!)
  • First 50 mi race: Heartland in October (9:20, 2nd female, 8th overall)
  • First time withdrawing from a race due to injury: KC 1/2 Marathon

I had my first real injury in 2009 - a sustained bout with plantar fasciitis which started in August and peaked during Heartland. That meant after the 50 miler, I had another first - injury forced rest period. No running for a month! I was going to run the Kansas City 1/2 marathon, but gave up my bib number since I was still limping from Heartland. Not all firsts are good ones. But I did get to see my friend KM in her first Boston qualifying run!

Overall, 2009 was a good year. I maintained a decent biking base and have put in a lot of maintenance time on the trainer this fall. I increased my running base, which really paid off at the Danskin Triathlon. That was the first race where I felt I actually put together a solid race and it showed. (The $4200 Trek Madone also helped) Heartland would have been much more enjoyable if I had dressed warmer and if I didn't have PF. But given the circumstances and my injury, I'm very proud of my time at that race.

As fun as it is to look back, I'm more excited about looking ahead. I feel like this is the first year where I have actually shown improvements and it makes me excited to see if I can go faster. Unfortunately, I may have to back off of ultras until I get my foot completely healed. So far in 2010, I'm pacing a friend for 20 miles in a 100 mile race and travelling to New Orleans for another 70.3 to try to go under 6 hours. I'm also hoping to set a new 1/2 marathon PR this spring. My Vibrams are on their way so next year, I can add barefoot running to my list of firsts. I definitely want to keep travelling to race and may start looking for trail runs in exotic locations. If 2009 was my year of going farther, I'm hoping to make 2010 my year for going faster.


Don't Eat the Yellow Snow

We are back in WI and I already got one run in. The temps here are a little bit colder and there is definitely more snow, like 12+ inches on the ground. My goal is to get 4-5 runs in this week, just enough to break a sweat most days and keep some cardio fitness. The snow makes things interesting and I wish I had screwed my shoes before we left.

We went out for a little over an hour today and even ran a short amount on some trails. I wish I had my trails shoes, because that was the best part of the run. My foot is still a little tight but doesn't hurt. I'm hoping that barefoot running will help strengthen my feet so this doesn't become a reoccurring issue.

We got a call on the Vibrams and... they're back ordered until January. The first place we ordered from appears not to exist, so we canceled the order through our credit card and put in an order someplace else. I picked out the all black ones instead of the blue/camo combo but then we got a call today and the black ones were back ordered even longer, so I'm getting the gray/purple combo, which was my second choice anyway. At this rate, I might actually have a pair by next Christmas.

No riding or swimming this week, but really my only goal is to NOT gain the usual 5 pounds that family holidays seem to include. Which would be easier if I wasn't addicted to Christmas cookies...


Fun runs!

This has been a good week for running! On Wednesday, the gang above went out to see the Christmas lights and put in about 6 miles. Afterwards, we went for burgers and beer. The run was good, the food was great, and the company was even better! It's nice to have a social run as a break from regimented training.

Thursday night, John and I went out to Wyco for the weekly run except we were the only ones! Actually, it was kinda nice. We only did 4, but I put in a fast four and it was the best run I've had out at Wyco in months! It reminded me why I love that park so much.

Then today I finished a hellacious project at work and had my 40 hours in, so I took off at 2:30 and went for a run during daylight hours during the week! And the sun was out!! Since KM was out of town this week, I didn't do any morning speedwork. So today I did mile intervals this afternoon. Actually, it was 10 min intervals since I don't have a GPS and 10 min increments is easier to keep track of than 8. Other than I could have used another layer, I had a great run. I came home and stretched and now I'm debating if I should spin or not. Tomorrow I'm spinning 2 hours, so maybe I'll skip it. It's almost Christmas, why push it?

Next week we're up in WI, so no swimming or spinning, but I am hoping to get at least 5 runs in, including a long run of 10-12 miles on Monday. Of course, Friday will be a rest day. Merry Christmas and safe travels!


My first Christmas gift

Woo Hoo! I got to open 1 gift early and it was a pair of Vibram 5-fingers! Actually, they were my husband's pair since he wanted me to go to the store to try them on. We did, but unfortunately they didn't have anything in my size. I originally wanted the KSO Treks, but they only make those in men's sizes and the smallest men's size was still too big for me. The KSOs were fine and fit, but they said none of their stores had anything in a women's 39 in stock.

We went home and John searched online for the KSO in a women's 39. There was only ONE store online that had a 39 KSO in stock and it was in the blue/camo combination above. Not my first color choice, but given my other options (i.e. none) I told him to go ahead and order them. So hopefully sometime next week I will be the newest owner of Vibrams!

I'm pretty excited. I don't plan on doing any trail running in them, but I do want to get some barefoot running in. I'm hoping the stretching, cross training, and running barefoot will prevent my PF from coming back. John took his out for a short run today and said they were awesome. With all of the barefoot (and I'm including Vibram wearers in this category) runners I know now, we may be able to organize a barefoot run this spring. Wouldn't that be a sight?4-6 runners all barefoot or in Vibrams. I will post more pictures once I have my feet in them!


In the holiday spirit

The Christmas season is officially here! And in spirit of the season (and since I'm on my second glass of wine for a Tuesday night) I decided to skip the training (which is going quite well) and do a holiday-related post.

Over Thanksgiving, we made the 9 hour trek up to WI, the Land of Beer and Cheese (and the best holiday cocktail ever, the Brandy Old Fashioned. That could be another post in itself!) My parents own a Christmas tree farm, so we picked out a 6-footer and hauled it back to KC. This is me with my oldest niece and nephew with me by our tree.
Keegan is "helping" cut it down.

This kid is such a sweetheart. I love that when you get him laughing, he laughs so hard he practically hyperventilates and chokes. His laughter is absolutaly contagious.
Portland, John's cat, also got a brand new holiday sweater! He just loves it, can't you tell from the picture?? My cat does not wear holiday sweaters. That's just humiliating.

Our neighbor Mark has an Air Stream out back he sometimes uses while he's gutting his house. After a few micro brews we brought back from WI, I decided it looked like it needed a little holiday spirit. With the help of some elves, I took the liberty to decorate it for him. There is a light bulb out, so I'll have to pick up a new strand for him, but I think it looks quite festive!

Our house got a lit wreath, also brought back from WI. We haven't bought lights for the house yet, but keep meaning too. I did put a nice Christmas bow on the flamingo.

And finally, the tree. Decorated and lit, you can barely tell it's not straight! I put the Rat Pack Christmas CD on, made myself a Brandy Old Fashioned, and put up decorations. Tonight, it's a bottle of wine and I'm baking Christmas cookies. Next week, several of us local runners are getting together for a running tour of the Christmas lights. I'm just a ball of Christmas spirit (or spirits, apparently)!
(If you're interested in the Christmas lights running tour, let me know and I'll give you the details!)


You can call me Grace

Since it appears we are officially into winter, I substituted my Saturday outdoor ride with a 90 min trainer ride in the garage. We don't have a basement in our house and we have a very large garage that we keep heated to 50 degrees in the winter. Add in a small TV and a stereo, it makes a great place for me to ride in the winter.

I brought in this month's issue of Triathlete magazine and read part of that for the first hour. Side note: If you're a triathlete and you don't get it, I would highly recommend picking up this issue. The Kona recap and articles on Chrisse Wellington and Craig Alexander are awesome! It is the perfect thing to read while on the trainer. If this issues doesn't motivate you to work a little harder, I don't know what will.

So I finished the Kona section after about an hour. I wanted to get another 30 min in, so I started a progressive interval set. I've been doing 1 min big chain ring, 1 min off, increasing the time in the big ring by 1 min up to 5. At the 5 min interval, I sit for 2 min, stand 1, sit 2, and then work back down to 1 min on, 1 off. It's a hard set that always has me dripping in sweat.

I made it to the last 2 min interval, when all of a sudden, I was falling over! Holy S%*! WTH?? I fell to the right and while I was able to get my foot unclipped, not in time to catch myself before falling. I landed on our roto tiller (the down side to being in the garage) and cut my hand, which I didn't notice at the time. I couldn't figure out how in the hell I managed to fall off a trainer. A trainer! It's not like I was on rollers!

I put my bike back up and looked for damaged. Everything seemed OK. Luckily, I landed on the roto tiller and not my bike. At least I was able to break her fall. I checked the trainer, everything looked OK, other than I was on a very uneven part of the concrete floor. Apparently, I didn't have one of the spindles locked off, a bad habit from using my trainer as a bike stand in the summer. I think the combination of loose spindle, uneven floor, climbing out of the saddle worked the spindle loose until my bike fell out. I tightened everything back down and then put the chain back on. That's when I noticed my hand was covered in blood. Chain grease is an excellent coagulant. I couldn't tell where the blood was coming from so I figured it wasn't a big deal.

I decided that was a good sign that I should be done for the day. Since I was already dirty, I made some adjustments to my bike. I dropped the front stem down about 1/2 " and re-adjusted my aero pads. I also moved my seat up and forward slightly. For some reason, my seat tube always seems to slide down, no matter how tight I get it. I think I need to start checking it before every ride. Otherwise, it eventually falls all the way down and it takes a few miles to figure out why I'm so uncomfortable! D'oh!

I'm amazed at what a difference 1/4" to 1/2" can make. I'd like to drop the bars down more, but that is going to take a little more work based on the fittings. I should probably adjust to the new position before getting any more aggressive, too. I'm still looking at getting Ultegra components for the rear but I'm on the fence. If I decide to upgrade then why spend the cash on components now? We'll see. Part of me just likes to tinker and get my hands dirty.

Today I'm running, so at least if I crash there won't be any lawn tools for me to land on. Lesson learned: keep sharp-edged objects out of the crash zone while spinning. Maybe trying out my neighbor's rollers is a bad idea...


Under the moon

If you haven't done any running at night this week (or very early in the morning) you're missing out. With the full moon on Wednesday night and relatively clear skies, night running this week has been amazing! Add the crisp, winter temps and I have had a great week of running. In the mornings, it has been so clear and bright that the moon was casting shadows and you didn't need a light.

Wednesday and Friday KM and I met for 5 miles before work. Wednesday's run we just ran 5, no Garmin or watches. This morning we did (3) 1/2 mile intervals with 1/2 mile rest between at 7:15/7:12/7:15 average paces. The last one about killed me. Was it not recently that we were doing full miles at those paces?? I suppose it has been 2 months since our last speed session. Yikes. I'm blaming the week-after effects of too much food in WI and the colder temps on my sloth-like feeling. This morning was my first run this season with the temps in the teens.

Next, I want to do a running Christmas lights tour. I want to wait another week in case more people put up lights this weekend, but what better way to get in the Christmas spirit? If we get some snow, that would be perfect. My absolute favorite runs are when it's about 25-30 degrees out and snowing. I love how quiet and calm it is, just the sound of your heart beating and your feet crunching through the snow. It's like the whole world belongs to you. If it is at night and the moon is full, well, that's just running perfection.