Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Paula Higgens Memorial Record Challenge Time Trial: 40K on a National Record Setting Course

This is what we forgot today:
*Rain jackets
*A portable waterproof canopy
*Plastic bags for wet, muddy clothes and wet muddy tarp
*Newspapers or cardboard for the floor of the truck
*Two sets of warm, dry clothes--one to wear before for walking around in the rain and warming up, and one for after, to take the place of the first set of clothes that got wet during the warm up, and
*Two sets of shoes--for the same reason listed above.

A portable heating device would have been nice.

Especially while waiting in our "dry" clothes for the results after the race.
The organizers provided good eats during the wait, plus beer and fizzy fruit juice. And good, cycling-devotee company. But that wind still had a bite to it.

What we did remember is just how good the conditions had been the previous year: Perfect temps, dry weather, NO wind. A lot of people showed up last year.

This year, we saw people leaving without unloading their bikes.
Maybe 40 people did the 40K distance. Maybe.
The race still drew people from around the U.S.
The winner came from Colorado.
30.14 m.p.h.
Two minutes behind the record holder, John Frey.
Martha Hansen, the 85 year old who set a National Record last year, didn't show up.
But a man in the 70-74 AG set a National Record in the 20K at 29:08.21
That's 25.6 m.p.h.
So, T and I really have no excuse.

We had a nice day and put in some good effort--it's just remarkably disappointing to put in all that effort for a slo-o-o-w-er time than the previous year.
Even with Bones' disc AND a different gear ratio.
Which, incidentally, I had fun maxing out in the tailwind.
It just wasn't enough to make up for the beating I took going into the headwind.

This is how I feel right now:
*2:36 slower than last year REALLY STINKS,
*I know I'm being a whiner,
*I am glad it's over

Part of me feels that I didn't push hard enough. And that's probably because I didn't. I started with a poor, not long enough warm-up and possibly too much caffeine--even though I only had one cup of coffee. T adjusted my bike the day before, and since I hadn't been able to check it out, I was NERVOUS. Hyperventilatory-from-the-cold-and-unknown nervous. I couldn't get my breathing right. There was mud everywhere, and the roads were puddling wet. Rain, cold, poor warm-up, hyperventilation, am I going to slip on the road? my wheel feels too narrow, what's that funny noise?, stop-adjust-ride-stop-adjust-ride, DID I MISS MY START TIME?!?

Not a good way to start a Time Trial effort.

So the initial part of my ride was slow, while I hyperventilated and went into O2 debt. I finally got myself under control, settled in, and battled a headwind for out to the turn-around speeds of something like 19 mph--I just couldn't get myself go any faster. I passed my 30-second and minute-man (woman), but didn't make up anymore ground. Laurie Mauderly passed me like I was standing still--and from her perspective, I probably was. She won the women's division in a time of 57:50.78, which comes out to 25.77 mph. At the turn-around, I was able to bring up my speed to 24.5 mph with occasional forays up to 25 and down to 23 mph. I didn't see another female because unknown to me, they were all in front and rapidly riding away from me. I think 8 men passed me.

So it goes.

There were only two women in my Age Group. A Cat 1-2 racer and myself. Once again, I came in 7 minutes behind for second place.
21.095 miles per hour.
I should be grateful, I know.

Things I learned from today:
*Number one and most importantly: IT WOULD BE HELPFUL IF I WOULD TAKE THIS RACE SERIOUSLY AND ACTUALLY TRAIN FOR IT. I only rode 187 bike miles this month, none of which were race specific.
*I need a longer warm-up time
*My computer calibration is in error--the read-out showed that I had averaged well over 22 mph.
*I can ride without slipping on wet road in slick rain and wind conditions.
*For some reason, that darn clock means an awful lot to me--I need to re-balance my perspective,
*I definitely have improved in my focus and concentration, and
*Despite my slo-o-o-w-er time and all my complaints, I really do like the feeling of tapping into that deep internal force of will that makes for a good Time Trial effort.

After it's all done and I get warm, of course.

T says I need to remember that it's usually the hard-core that stick around for a race in these conditions--which is why I placed 9th out of 11 women.

I can't say I'm hard-core--but I do look forward to riding more TT's.
Just, hopefully, not in the rain.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What's This About An Internet Push-Up Challenge?

I did 55 push-ups yesterday.

I started by thinking I would do 3 sets of 10.

On a Bosu ball.

Then, I figured, why not add a few. So, I brought it up to 3 sets of 15.

Good push-ups, with plank like form, and deep elbows to bring my rib cage all the way down to the ball. NO bend at the hips. Head, neck and back all in good alignment. Breathing deep.

That's because the guys at work are always checking out my form.
They can't help themselves.
It's their job.

And it keeps me on my toes.

My co-worker, S. (of course, checking out what I was doing) came bounding over with two bolsters in this hands. "Have you tried this?"
He said I looked bored.
So, he set me up with one palm on each bolster, laying lengthwise, parallel to me, and had me simultaneously push each bolster laterally away from me as I lowered, then pull them in until they were under me as I pushed up.
Boredom hadn't really crossed my mind, when I was doing the initial push-ups.
In fact, I thought I looked like I was concentrating on my form and breathing--and making it to the last push-up of the last set.
But these new push-ups were fun.
And challenging.
So, I did 10, then ran out of time.

Good thing I was saved by the bell.
My pecs and delts (anterior) are remarkably sore today!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A (wandering) Race Report: Socorro and the F1 '08

Usually T and I do a lot more SW Challenge Series racing, but this year we've both taken a several month hiatus.

T--because he was in another state.

Myself--because, well, just because. I felt a need to get away from the numbers and competitiveness that sometimes can take on a life of it's own. In my last race (April), I found myself wishing everyone in the event would just go away--so I could focus on bettering myself against my own personal times and records, without thinking about if someone was in my age group--and if they were faster than me. It made me realize why, sometimes, I like the anonymity of racing in another state. Here, even though I'm not a stellar or star racer, I sometimes feel like I have a target on my back. More than once, women in different age groups have aggressively taken me on as a project to beat--physically communicating their intentions by brushing against me at high speed on the run, attempting to pass and re-pass me on the bike (I dislike leap frogging--if you're going to pass, make sure you have the strength and endurance to maintain the pass. I had to pass "Texas" 3 times today, before he gave up the ghost and I finished decisively in front of him), and in general, focusing a beam of competition in my direction. I expect it from my AG competition, but still, one of these moments occurred earlier this year while finishing the final swim leg of a race--dripping, out of breath, refocusing from the pool environment to land, climbing the ladder to get out of the pool and having Mary (my AG) standing over the ladder as I'm climbing out and saying, "Dale (my AG) wants to know how old you are." No small talk like, "Great race, " "You flew by me on the bike," "Whew, glad that's over," etc. Just pure, high-beam, competitive focus. Since I'm not good at screening out the external competitive pressure, and it was interfering with my own internal focus, I took some time out.

Earlier this month, I returned to the local racing scene, by attending the Socorro Chile Harvest Sprint Triathlon. I had a great race--for someone who hadn't been training or racing sprint for the past 3 months. There were some quirks, of course, and some of those "I wish..." thoughts, but overall, I took two minutes off my previous PR, came in 5th of 16 in my age group, and was 32nd out of 148 total women.

The quirks and "I wishes...."

The swim was a Time Trial start--every 15 seconds according to the flyer, but it seemed like a 5 second interval to me. As soon as I jumped into the water to get ready for the start--someone said "Go!" Taking off so suddenly, and as per my usual, I went into a respiratory panic and hyperventilated the first 50 meters. It took a lot of self-talk to continue swimming, when every survival fiber in my body wanted to stop and stand up. The next 100 meters were a cautious progression to prevent another episode of panic, and then I eased into my rhythm, and completed the swim feeling good. The man who started right behind me, passed me at 50 meters (I smunched into his legs as he attempted to pass me on the left and cross in front of me to the right to make the turn into the next lane), but didn't gain any ground after that first 50. Several months earlier, I had predicted my swim time at 9:35. My true time was 9:59.

The bike was just a heck of a lot of fun. I felt good, but could feel the weakness in my legs from not sprint racing, especially on hills, for several months. Since I'm a slow swimmer, there are always a lot of people to pick off on the bike, which is entertaining, and gives me an external measure of progress along the course. My wish, of course, was to not feel the weakness in my legs, and to be able to ride faster. I averaged 20 mph on a moderately hilly course and was 17th out of 148 women on the bike.

My transition was quirky in that I racked my bike on the wrong rack, and didn't realize it until I looked down, and didn't recognize my clothes. Since I have a small bike, and the racks were high, I actually grabbed my bike, dipped under the rack with it, and ran forward to my rack. Definitely a bit of time loss there.

The run was what it always is--an effort to pick up the pace and not give in to fatigue and the heat of the day. I started too slow while my legs un-wound themselves from the bike, and ended at a good pace, for an average of 9:10 miles.

T didn't attend this race. He was camping in the mountains near Washington DC, with members of the DC Tri-Club. The trip was actually a two day training fest with 88 and 37 mile hilly bike rides, followed by runs. He said by the end of the second day, everyone was cooked.

As for today, "Texas" and I were dueling it out at the Formula-1 (F1) draft legal triathlon in Roswell, the story I started to write about, but obviously went in a different direction.

Another time.

Suffice it to say, it was a fun race, I finished as "female champion" in first place--out of 3 female entrants, had more fun catching up with the Outlaws, met some new people, was very grateful for the endless support and encouragement, and as always, enjoyed a beautiful venue and the cool, clear waters of the lake. And, even though my overall win was due to the small field, as T reminded me, "everyone is invited to the dance..."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Late, Late Entry: Why My Training Went South in May, or A Tri-Excuse at the National Level

Mark and I eat a lost of salsa, and we go through it pretty fast, so I like to stock up.

In late May, I bought 4 jars.

Due to the ongoing salmonella mystery, these jars went uneaten, and in June, realizing I wanted to avoid anything associated with tomatoes, I decided to return them to the place of purchase.

This didn't go over too well with the clerk at the return counter.

I had my receipt, the jars had obviously been untouched, and I told her that, what with the ongoing tomato associated cases of salmonella, plus a recent history of weeks of unexplained lower GI distress in my household, we would not be using the salsa.

This didn't make her very happy. After fussing with the jars, she informed me that food could only be returned within 24 hours (pause), "because we just have to throw it all away, anyway."

Since I really wanted her to take the salsa back, I didn't return with the obvious--that if she didn't take the jars back, I was just going to have to throw them away myself. And, since I had purchased these jars from this particular vendor, plus the fact that nobody in their right mind was eating tomatoes, especially since New Mexico was at the top of the list for the highest number of salmonella cases, AND that salsa contains uncooked tomatoes, that these jars really should be thrown out, and that I shouldn't have to pay for them....

After fussing a bit more with the jars (while I tried to be polite and understanding but persistent), she agreed to refund my money "just this once!"

Well, time has passed, and recently the mystery of the salmonella tainted tomatoes has now spread to include jalapenos and a briefly mentioned possibility of cilantro.

Hmmmm.....tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro--sounds like a jar of salsa to me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Smiley Post...This Time, My Face Didn't Stay Pink for 8 Hours

I did it again.

Managed to take a good chunk of time off my long distance run.

Of course, the clouds rolled in and provided respite from the sun, so my "cooler temp" reasoning must be true

It's been an awfully busy month. A 3-day weekend in DC, a 4-day weekend in CA, two days in Austin, then the Socorro Sprint Triathlon. So, the training has suffered (what training?), and I haven't done my long training run route since July 13. That was the day I took a solid 30 minutes off of my usual 3 hour time.

Bones said,"Maybe you've broken through to a new level!"

I said, "I think it's because I actually got out earlier and the temps were cooler..."

Maybe it was a combination of both.

Sunday, I decided to get up early and go for a medium (6-7 mile) run, since I hadn't been training consistently and wanted to healthily ease back into it.

I didn't do either.

Instead, I got up a little later than I should have, got caught up in puttering around the house, hoped for more of the recent cloud cover we'd been having, but really didn't stick to my plan and left after 8 am when the sun was high and the UV was on it's way to contributing to a 10 plus day.

I was rested (from not training) and I felt pretty good.

So, I started at a good pace on my neighborhood run.

Then, I just kept on going.

Clouds rolled in briefly, and the dip in temperature gave me the extra impetus to continue the pace.

I kept rationalizing, "I'll turn around here. Nope, I'll turn around here."

Finally, I just kept on heading out. Already resigned to the massively sore legs I was going to have the next day. My long run course is the only one in which I have a set of past times for comparison, and I was feeling pretty good.

I hit the turn around (it's an out and back route) in 1:09.37

On the same course that I usually do in 3 hours.

Since I haven't been training endurance, I pretty much fell apart on the way back.

The sun came out even stronger than before.

I pretty much cooked.

So, my total run time was 2:41

Still faster than the usual 3 hours.

Or, maybe, I shouldn't consider 3 hours "the usual" any more.