IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Naperville Women's Triathlon

Never before had I been so unprepared for a race. I was so exhausted from the time trial, I just fell asleep...only to wake up around 3:30am to quietly prepare for the Naperville Women's Triathlon. I didn't know what to expect, I pulled out my triathlon checklist and hoped I didn't forget anything as I hurriedly collected all my things and threw them into my ratty triathlon bag.

The morning seemed calm and I met Liz just as I found a spot on my transition rack. She was smiling, but seemed quite nervous as this was her first triathlon. I knew she'd do fine and I tried to reassure her of that. She chatted on about her morning, her preparation for the race, and on and on and I knew she was just talking to keep her mind from thinking about the day ahead.

On the one hand, I love the fact that I know so many people who are racing this day. On the flip side, it's a huge detriment because I can never get focused without someone coming up to say hi. I lose my concentration and catch up with whoever it is that I'm able to spend some time with this morning. I keep forgetting what I'm supposed to do.

The highlight of today is being a part of the Luna Chix. Several of us are out there today, ready to race, ready to cheer on our fellow racers, and all of us are out there to have fun. The more time I get to spend with this awesome group of women, the more I love them. They are just great people that have such passion and zest for life...and they truly represent what the Luna Chix are all about.

After about an hour rain delay, the race was started. I was chilled and shuddered to think how all my stuff in transition was now soaked. Who wants to run in soaking wet running shoes? UGH. I got up to the start in time to wish MC good luck...her first race in a very long time. She was relaxed and happy with a huge smile plastered on her face. I couldn't help but smile myself just watching her.

Soon it was my turn and I gave the Saint my shoes and jacket and headed to the beach. There was some nervous chatter, but in previous years, many of these women have really beat me up at the beginning of this swim. This year, the swim was structured a little differently, giving us a wider area to start. I heard someone yell for me and I looked over to see Liz waving. It is so great to have teammate support! The guy in front of us gives us a countdown and the picture to the left is the start. I had a great start and it really helped as I did not get too bumped around at the beginning. I did get hit several times by the woman on my right, but after about 100 yards, she dropped off.

I had a little "assistance" from the swim angels again this year. Fortunately, I took in a little less water from their "help." I hate the turns in this swim, but I tried to keep a nice, strong pace throughout the swim. Not a stellar time, but not horrible either.

It's a long run to the transition area in this race. I passed several women on the way to transition, but was also caught in a bottle neck for a few seconds where it's too narrow to pass anyone. I easily found my bike and saw only one other woman at my rack. Swim was good, then! I struggled to get my socks on because they were wet and kept bunching up. I gotta learn to do this with no socks! I put my bike shoes on and had to run ever so slowly to the bike out. The asphalt here is always very slick. Add the rain and it was super slippery! I got on my bike and immediately became chilled. I hoped the sun would get strong in a hurry to warm things up. It felt like a slow start out of the downtown area. Lots of turns, lots of newbies not quite sure where they should be on the course. I would politely say "on your left" and most would move over, but some got a little nervous and weren't sure what to do. Corners were tricky. I couldn't trust that anyone would hold their line, so I braked a lot into the turns simply for safety. Plus, I don't really trust myself on the wet pavement. Best to keep the rubber on the road! I didn't notice how long it was taking me, but the ride seemed to go fast. When I got off my bike, I realized it was the slowest bike I've ever had on that course! YIKES!

I got back to transition - first bike back in on the rack...woo hoo! A very quick transition and I was running, but the legs felt heavy. I was passed by someone in my wave within the very first mile. Such a difference from last year. I noticed my first mile split and couldn't believe how slow I was running. I tried not to be so hard on myself...I did just get back to running last month! It still didn't feel very good. I tried to encourage the other athletes on as I passed. I'd get some words back from some, others probably just too winded to reply. This event is just one of those "feel good" races for most of the participants. Luckily, I was able to pick up my pace for the last couple miles. I don't think I gave it my all, but I was still disappointed with my time.

It was still a great day and the race is just fun to do because it's so close to home and such a short distance. It's great to see so many first timers and the friends and family that come out to support them. The Luna Chix all hung around to watch AS collect her FIRST PLACE in AG award. I couldn't be more proud to be a part of this team.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Apache 40K TT

For the first year since I've ridden with the Apaches, I was finally able to help with and participate in the team's annual 40K time trial. In years prior, I was either racing or had a conflict with my Luna Chix obligations. It was great to finally be able to be a part of this race.

I arrived early with broom in hand to head out on the course to sweep all the corners to keep the riders safe. About 5 of us rode the course, following the guys putting up the signs for the race, and got out at each turn to thoroughly sweep all the gravel off the road. It was nice to be able to ride the entire course so now I knew I was in for some hills. On the flip side, it took us a while to complete this task, so by the time we were finished and back to the check-in area, we had very little time for warm up.

I headed out to the start, pinned on my number, got the bike out, put on my aero bottle, pumped up my tires and got my gear all on. By this time, I had about 15 minutes to warm up. Not good at all. I'm one of those people that needs a long warm up. I try not to let it stress me out because there's nothing I can do about it now. I just want to get out there and put in a good effort.

At the start line we were waiting for the "all clear" direction to be given. The officials handed a couple of us timers to test them out before the start of the race. Within a minute or two, the green light was given for the race to commence and I took a few deep breaths. As always, they give you a nice little countdown and it was time to go!

I very quickly got into a nice, steady rhythym. It was about 68 degrees at the start and I was a little chilled. But I sure warmed up in a hurry! Everything felt good, though I had already lost sight of my minute-man. I just tried to put forth steady effort on the pedals and downshifted to keep from making my effort too much. About 15 minutes into the race, it started to rain. Just a little sprinkle and I thought, OK, no big deal. But then I heard it before I felt it, the rain started shooting out of the sky full force. It was a cold, pelting rain, stinging my bare arms and I got very chilled. Now I was wishing I hadn't come out for this race. I was just a couple miles into a 25 mile race and I was now freezing cold. And now the pavement is soaking wet and I get squeamish about taking the corners. I wished the rain would go away. Miraculously, the rain stopped. It went away just as fast as it came! A couple miles later, I was already warm again and the sun started peeking out from the dark clouds.

My legs felt a little sluggish, which was to be expected due to the running I'd done just 2 days before this race. But I felt comfortable and strong. Then I hit the section of rolling hills....up, down, up, down. I knew this wasn't going well for me and it was confirmed as I was passed for the first time this day. I tried to stick with my fellow Apache and could do it on the down hills. But as soon as there was any incline in the road, I started to lose ground. It was very quickly after that when another Apache teammate passed by. I couldn't believe how easy they were making this look. The three of us rode together but separate for quite some time. I think having those two in my vision helped push me to work harder.

I came to the turnaround and took it ever so cautiously. Now I was halfway done and still feeling strong, but a little uncomfortable. It is clear to me that I haven't spent enough time in the aero position. Up ahead I notice a big piece of farm equipment moving slowly along our side of the road. I watch as one of my teammates goes to pass on an uphill and I cringe. Man, I hope this thing gets off the road before I have to pass it. Now I start to see other riders coming toward me, on their way to the turn around. Just a few minutes later, I watch my other teammate pass the same wide piece of farm equipment....shoot, I'm next.

I move up to make my pass and I see another rider coming toward me. As I get close to this tractor thing or whatever it was, I notice that the wheels are about twice the size of me and my bike and it makes me a bit nervous. I go to pass when I see that there is a guy making a pass around the biker headed toward me. I fear that I am going to either crash into that rider or be pushed into the big wheel of the farm vehicle, so I quickly grab the brakes. I slow down enough to let the other two riders go by and then try to get up to speed again to pass the tractor. I might have been too cautious on this one, but I'd rather keep the rubber side on the road!

Back along the stretch of rolling hills, I start to feel fatigued and wonder how it is that I sometimes do 112 miles on my bike. I'm quite uncomfortable now and I have to keep getting out of the saddle just to "adjust". One more sharp right turn and now it just feels like I am crawling. What is going on, why am I so slow? Does my computer really say 15 mph? Am I going uphill? Do I have a flat? It was a brutal last 10K of a race that felt like it was never going to end.

I could finally see the finish and I just hammered as best I could. It was at that point that I realized that I once again left a little too much in the tank. I felt very strong and was almost disappointed that I was going to be done without feeling more drained. I was really happy to be a part of Team Apache today.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Downtown Chicago

So this weekend, I was able to get down to the city for a brief lake swim followed by a lakefront run. I realized that I have not had Saturdays to myself in the summer since I started the whole endurance event thing. See, since 2003, I've always been involved with CARA. The first 2 years, I was a training participant. The last 3 years, I've been a group leader for the marathon training program. This means that every Saturday, from June to October, I've been running with this group. Though I missed the group on Saturday, I do feel a great amount of freedom to be able to do what I want to/need to do on Saturdays!

The lake was quite chilly at about 62 degrees. But most of us got in and swam about a mile. I think I swam the first 50 yards or so with my head out of the water, but after about 200 yards, I settled into a nice rhythym. No records being broken on this swim, but I felt smooth and comfortable....and couldn't feel my hands or feet.

After a quick trip to the car to drop off the wetsuit, grab the running shoes and the Garmin, I headed off to what was to be my longest run since I did Ironman Florida way back in NOVEMBER. I cannot believe I have not really run for so long. I've been away from it so long, it's like I don't even miss it anymore. Anyway, the lakefront was quite crowded, but the weather couldn't have been more perfect. It was sunny, a light breeze and the temperature was just right for a run. It's nice to get to the lakefront path for a change of pace. There are so many people there, the time seems to go by quickly. Though I struggled with the pace for the last mile and a half, the run didn't seem so bad. It wasn't fast, but it was a run...with just a couple of water stops thrown in. Looking forward to making this one of my regular rituals this summer!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's a Dry Heat

I was initially signed up to do the TriShark triathlon this weekend. However, a couple of months ago, an opportunity for me to get down to ride the Ironman Arizona course came up, so I sold my triathlon entry in lieu of going down to see what it's like to ride on the Beeline Highway. I've since found out that they CANCELLED the swim at the TriShark and made it a duathlon, so I definitely made the right choice in skipping that race this year!

I headed out on Saturday morning and arrived in Phoenix around 11am their time. The temperature had already climbed up to about 98 degrees. After a big fiasco in helping my partner in crime, SH, rent a bike, we hooked up with my brother who just moved to AZ last month for a short, easy early evening ride. Now it was about 102 degrees. We loaded up with all sorts of fluids and the ride was short but sweet. We were saving our efforts for the next day...the Ironman course.

The morning came all too quickly and we met up at the start of where the bike portion of the Ironman was to take place. Initially, I wanted to put in the full 112 miles, but the heat was a consideration as was the fact that this race is still pretty far away. So we headed out around 7:30am to log in some good, solid, steady-paced miles. The thermometer was reading about 82 degrees at the start of the ride. I could give you all the details, but let me just sum it up that the heat rose to about 102 again this day. We rode until about 3pm with the sun baking on our backs as we pedaled along. There is absolutely NO SHADE on all of this bike course. And I have to say, I loved every minute of it. 102 in AZ does NOT feel like 102 in Chicago. Heck, even 85 feels hotter here in Chicago. So I guess it's true, the whole "dry heat" thing takes much less of a toll on athletes. I fully expected to be wiped out after the ride, but that really didn't happen. I had much more to give and it felt great.

I love the Beeline Highway!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Luna Chix Run

Since April, the 2008 Luna Chix Triathlon Team has been doing a run at Runners Grove in Downers Grove the first Monday of every month. These runs are in addition to our weekly bike rides at Waterfall Glen.

Last night was such a great night! The weather was awesome, we had a great turnout and we welcomed a lot of new faces into the Luna family! The pace groups worked out well and several of us headed over to Ballydoyle afterwards. Ballydoyle has a nice outdoor area and the weather was just perfect for us all to just hang out, talk about the run, triathlon, and everything else going on in our lives.

You can join us next month on July 7th. Run starts promptly at 6:30pm. Be sure to plan in a trip to Ballydoyle afterwards!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Udder Century

Probably not the smartest thing I've ever done...ride 100 miles the day after a triathlon. However, it really wasn't planned that way. I was planning on a little shorter distance, but once I missed the turn to do the 75 miles...well, I was sorta stuck.

It was a beautiful day out on Sunday. I saw lots of friends. I rode with a great bunch of people. Nothing to complain about except the fact that I was extremely uncomfortable. I haven't spent a whole lotta time on my TT bike, so after Saturday's race, I was sore. To add another, oh, I don't know 6 hours on my already, um, uncomfortable areas, wasn't really fun.

So the ride starts out and I'm feeling pretty tired...and I'm wondering why it feels like I'm just working too hard. Maybe I really expended a lot of energy yesterday and I'm just not ready to ride hard again. I don't know. At the second SAG stop, I decide to pick up my bike and spin the back wheel to check to see if it spins. It went about a revolution and a half. Shoot, I'd been riding with the back brake rubbing for about 40 miles!!! This happens every time I change from my race wheels back to my training wheels. You'd think I would learn by now to check this each and every time.

The ride got better then, but not very long. I decided I'd just go 75 miles. That's good enough. It's very early in the year. But I wanted to kill somebody when the guy at the SAG stop showed me where we were on the map...I had missed the turn for the 75 mile route. Now the only way to get back was to do the full 100. I was dejected. Guess I was just meant to ride the 100 this day, so I just tried to suck it up and finish the ride. I was definitely slower toward the end, but still managed to get in the full century. First one of the year! It was a near perfect ride...great combination of riders in the group I was with and absolutely perfect weather! Now, if I had only made that turn on the 75 mile course...

Terre Haute Triathlon Race Report

It was a last minute decision to participate in this year's Terre Haute triathlon. I think it was because I'm so used to having an early start to the season (last few years, my first race was in April or first weekend in May!). It was difficult to listen to everyone give race reports about Galena and Memphis. I was originally scheduled to participate in the Triple T last weekend, but I knew there was no way I'd be ready to run that many miles. I made the right decision on that one.

So, I'll give just a quick recap on the race.

It was surprisingly warm when I went out to the car in the morning. There were some tornado watches and warnings going on the night before and the streets were still wet. It was pretty sticky and muggy and I took my sweatshirt off while I set up transition.

Setting up in transition at Terre Haute is always interesting. Terre Haute is a smaller race so the transition racks are sort of a free for all. There was a guy that tried to weasel in at the last minute, but I was able to show him why it wouldn't be cool of him to just jump in on a rack already set up and start moving other athlete's things. He was cool about it (thankfully!).

I'd heard people say that there were a lot of weeds in the water. That was evidenced as I saw PT's BFF Lauren Jensen come back from a warm up swim with a big bunch of weeds strewn across her left arm. They didn't look too slimy, so I didn't even think about it. As the all-female wave waited for the start, I heard a woman in front of me say how fast she was going to catch the wave that went in front of us. I looked around and saw some very confident-looking women around me. Then I immediately became intimidated and lined up in the 2nd row of women. I don't know why I let the comment or looks of those women intimidate me because within 50 yards, I was looking for a way to get around these women. I hit the woman's feet in front of me too many times, but I had no way to get around...I was squeezed in from both sides. In about 150 yards, I was able to swim past the 2 women trapping me on my left. Then it was pretty smooth sailing. The water was calm and comfortable. I just found a nice rhythym and wished the swim was longer.

I got out, looked at my watch and had a really good, strong swim. Running to the transition, my feet hurt from the rough surface. It's a pretty long run and...shoot, we entered the transition area from the opposite side I thought, so now I had to think about which aisle to run down. I need to pay more attention to where I'm set up! I found my stuff and was a little shaky. A woman flew in next to me and was in and out before I could even get one shoe on...good thing the Luna Chix are doing a transition clinic later this afternoon! I took a deep breath and steadied myself, trying to bring down the heart rate. I quickly ran out of transition and hopped on the bike.

It was warmer than I thought, but since it was so humid, I wasn't drying up at all. The bike course is an out and back with some rolling hills, nothing too difficult. On the way out, I felt great, strong, like I was just flying along. I was caught a little behind the USAT motorcycle at the turn around, but I don't think I lost much time. I couldn't practice the turn I just learned at the cycling clinic because they had a truck parked across the road (probably blocking traffic from the other direction) and the truck was too close for me to put into play what I had learned. Bummer.

And there it was...a huge, relentless headwind! UGH! No wonder I felt like I was cruising on the way out...we had a strong tailwind. But now I was pushing really hard and the bike seemed like it was barely moving. It's in those times I must look down to make sure I don't have a flat because it just feels like I'm crawling. I'm passed by many guys, passing a few. Definitely some newbies out there who are a little all over the road and make it dicey to pass at some points.

I get off the bike and wonder what this run is going to feel like. I haven't run this far since my Ironman. I didn't give it my all on the bike in order to make sure the run wasn't going to hurt. I make a very fast transition and am out running and the temperature seems fine to me...except that I can't get try. My uniform is just as wet as it was the second I came out of the water. My fingers were pruny. I plod along, ticking off the miles. The hamstring bothers me at points, particularly when going uphill or trying to pick up the pace. Now the women are passing me and I try to remind myself not to chase....just get through the run at your own pace! I can't expect much, I haven't been running!

The last mile of the race is by far the hilliest part of the run and it definitely hurt the most. But it's on a trail through the forest and I just love running through that type of environment. I can now hear the announcer at the finish line and I just try to keep the pace. Almost there! Now I can see spectators and the finish line is down the hill! I was happy to finish with just a moderate amount of pain. My time was slower than the last time I did this race, but I expected that. It was a blast. And my triathlon season has officially been kicked off!