IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Accenture Expo

Even though I did not participate in the Accenture Chicago Triathlon this year (first year I've NOT done this race!), I was at the Expo on Friday night to help staff the Luna booth. Some might look as the obligation to participate in staffing the booth as "work". However, nothing could be further from the truth for me!

First - the Luna Chix are just an amazing group of energetic, positive, fun women to be around. Second - I get to give out free products and collect the hundreds of positive comments (the Luna Moons are a huge hit, so if you haven't tried them, go out and buy some!). Third - it's sort of like a high school reunion for me. Triathlete friends are all around - those I haven't seen in years, those I just saw yesterday and those I'm just meeting for the first time. The room just buzzes with excitement non-stop and it's so easy for me to get caught up in it all.

My shift went by quickly and I was able to top it off with a little Luna bonding. I'm only a little sorry I didn't sign up for the race this year. But being able to work the expo and be so close to all the action is not half bad!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pleasant Prairie Triathlon

Of all the triathlons I've been fortunate enough to participate in, Pleasant Prairie has always been among my favorites. It's close to home, very well organized, the swim is one of the best venues, the bike course is mostly flat and the run takes you around the lake. Last year, it was pouring rain for about 18 hours before and up until the original race start. I dreaded racing last year because of the wet pavement.

Talk about an absolute opposite change in conditions today! It was chilly, maybe 62 degrees at the start, but the ground was dry as a bone and there was not a cloud in the sky (the sun wasn't up yet!). I forgot that transition closed at 6am because the race started at 6:30am! I think that's the earliest race start I've ever seen.

The racks were pretty jam-packed and there were a few women nearby complaining about it. What are you gonna do? You don't like it up where it's crowded, move your bike. I tried to ignore them, but I couldn't...I knew these are the same women I'd be battling it out with on the course. I tried not to let them bother me.

Almost brainlessly, I set up transition and waited for MN to finish setting up her stuff. A quick walk over to the "secret" porta potties revealed they weren't so secret. We had about a 15 minute wait and transition was closed before we got back. I then realized I had forgotten to leave a gel in there for the run. I easily snuck into transition to leave a gel with my running shoes, then began peeling off my outer layers to squirm into my wetsuit. A little mishap with the wetsuit zipper stressed me out for about 5 minutes, but it was under control in plenty of time before the race started.

In order to get to the front of the swim start, I camped out by the rail that corraled the upcoming waves. Piece of cake, I was in the front row on the outside for the start, right where I like to be. The horn went off and some girl ran in 3 big steps and took a huge dolphin dive and immediately got a good lead. DAMN! I swam along side one woman for about 200 yards until she petered out...then I just happened to see a light purple cap (my color) in front of me. Well, we must be about the same ability if we're both out here, so I jumped on her heels. She was quick and I was working harder than I'm used to, but I knew the draft was a good thing. She was swimming a little crooked, but every time I tried to get around her, I never made up ground. I decided it best to just stay on her feet. She was doing an awesome job navigating around the other swimmers and once she cleared the way for me, I had less effort to put in.
I stayed on her heels until the finish. One of the best swims I've ever had in this distance. Thank you, whatever your name is!

I was able to get out of the water and had the wetsuit half way off before I reached my bike. My breathing was a bit labored, but I knew I'd settle in on the bike after a few minutes. I seemed to be the first bike off my rack, but I still had this feeling that first dolphin-swimmer-girl was out there somewhere.

Due to construction, the bike course was changed this year. It was 2 loops of the sprint course, which I wasn't really happy about. The first half of the ride was more scenic. All too quickly, I was making my way up the overpass and the quads started burning. I just pushed the chain down to the easiest gears and tried to spin up so I could catch my breath from the swim. I was breathing too hard. Then a nice little downhill and we're already making our first turn. This year, the wind was steady and I questioned the use of my disc wheel. The turns were plentiful and though the first loop was easy (and a little short, I noticed), the second loop was majorly crowded and I was tired of yelling "on your left!" just to have few people move. It's like they never heard it before. Many, many riders riding just to the right of the double yellow, so I'm forced to sit back, pass on the right (illegal) or cross the double yellow (also illegal). It was frustrating after a while. The entire bike leg, I felt sluggish, just never found my rhythym, I guess. I was happy to be off the bike and this was a short ride for me. Just not a bike day for me.

On to the run, I felt pretty good. No hamstring pain and my breathing was under control. I thought I could push harder, but I knew I was off the podium already. With 1 swimmer ahead, 1 passed me on the bike and then another passed me immediately on the run, I just decided to do my own race. I was comfortable all the way around. It was great to be able to see so many friends on the out-and-back-and-out-and-back course. You wanted to look strong at all times because you couldn't be sure who'd see you next!

Other than the wind getting a little gusty, this was just a beautiful day. Some thought it to be a bit warm on the run (there is absolutely not one speck of shade for you), but I found it nice. The wind actually cooled me off just enough. My last Olympic distance race was this same race last year. Hard to believe a year has gone by so fast.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Closing the Pool

Since June, I've had the opportunity to swim in an outdoor 50 meter pool on a daily basis. No, I don't go to the pool every day, but 2 or 3 times a week, you'd have been able to find me and a few other lap swimmers at this outdoor pool in Palos.

On some mornings, it was humid and sticky and the cool pool water felt refreshing. I think we were kicked out of the pool 3 times over the course of the summer because of thunder and/or lightening. Yesterday, the combination of the warm water and chilly air temperature caused a constant steam.

An outdoor pool gives you a great change of scenery from the indoor flourescent lights to the bright morning sunshine. You get to change the stale, chlorine-filled air to fresh summer breezes. The fact that this pool is 50 meters vs. the standard 25 yards just makes it better for long distance swimming.

The pool water was crystal clear throughout the summer. However, keeping the bottom of the pool clean of debris was a challenge for the lifeguards. I've seen numerous items down at the bottom: dirt, coins, the rubber gasket from a goggle, diving rings, leaves, bandaids, hairbands and something that looked like a dryer sheet. But all of that stuff stayed on the bottom so it really didn't bother me. In fact, it gave me something more to look at than the solid black line I was following down the pool.

So now it's over and we say goodbye to another season at the outdoor pool. They have threatened to close this pool down for a few years now, so I can only hope it will be open again next year. I am dreading going to my next swim indoors. Memorial Day 2009 seems so far away....

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Monday Run at Runners Grove

The weather has been all over the place here in Chicago lately. We've been having some really sticky, hot, humid weather for the past week or so. Saturday morning's swim at Ohio Street Beach was the roughest water we've seen all year and the wicked thunderstorms have been more frequent than usual. (I think all this extra rain is the reason for the influx of frogs in the yard...I think I have about 3 dead frogs floating in my pool every day now)

Our Monday run at Runners Grove was no different. The first Monday of every month, the Luna Chix have a fun run. Everyone is welcome, regardless of ability. Given the start of the day yesterday, I was worried about attendance. There were thunderstorms predicted throughout the area all day long. It was hot but very humid as we gathered for the run. There were a couple of new people, so we had some introductions, took a quick photo, and went outside to begin the run.

The sky was dark and threatening. Were we going to be able to get this run in without being poured on? Guess we'd better run fast! We had 3 different pace groups going out this night. Extreme Liz lead out front, Mel and I clipped along in the middle and Hammer rounded out the group. We were absolutely dripping at the end, but not from rain. It was so humid, we were soaking the sidewalk out front of the Runners Grove store!

Thankfully, the people at Runners Grove know how to take care of us - we had ice cold water and Gatorade waiting for us at the end of the run as well as sliced oranges. Even more fitting, one of the owners brought out wipes and paper towels! We needed these! After all, we were headed to Ballydoyle now to celebrate our run!! Almost everyone came next door with us and, despite the tornado warning that forced us to give up our spot on the outdoor patio, it was a great time! Looking forward to the next one!!