It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

July 24, 2014

Lawrence, KS Sprint Tri - A Hilly Beast!

Wahooo!  My 2nd triathlon of the year is complete.  That is one more than I was able to do last year J  I’ve missed triathlon…..though I think I would have been ok to miss this one.  It was by far the hardest sprint tri I’ve ever done.  But it’s over…and I finished and I still had fun so that’s all that really matters.

My friend Michelle was doing the Lawrence 5150 on Sunday which was her  “A” race for the year.  If you aren’t familiar with the 5150 it’s actually owned by Ironman.  It’s an Olympic distance race that consists of a 1.5K  swim, a 40K bike and a 10K (so 51.5 “K”s…..get it).  Anyway, the top 5 finishers in each Age group qualify for the Hyvee Championship race in Des Moines, Iowa later in the year and Michelle’s goal was to qualify. Since it’s a qualifier, the race also brings in several pros, which is always fun to see.
They also have shorter sprint race so I decided to do that one. I could have done the longer bike and run, but I wasn’t ready for the nearly mile long swim.  My race was a 500 meter swim, a 13 mile bike and a 5k.

The race location is about an hour and 10 minutes from my home.  It’s kind of out of the way for packet pickup so Michelle and I opted to pick up our packets race morning – which meant trying to get there by around 5:15….which meant leaving home around 4:00 am.  The 3:15 wake up is not pleasant, but it always amazes me how awake and alert I can actually be on race day. So I was up and out the door by 4:00 and headed to pick up Michelle.
We did manage to get there about 5:15 which was perfect timing – transition/packet pickup started at 5:30 and there was quite a walk from your car to the race location – around a half mile.  We got our packets – they were out of my size shirt – I’m supposed to get one mailed – we’ll see.  We then got in line to pick up our chip timers.  It was just 5:30 and there was already a line. They had one person handing out timers.  This line would grow throughout the morning and was huge by around 6:15 or so. I would have been panicked if we had gotten there late.  The race organization for this race was not very good. I got to my transition area and set up all my stuff and then looked around trying to find someone that was doing body marking.  There was no one around.  Normally at a tri they practically knock you over trying to get you marked.  I finally asked someone and found out that there were only two people doing body marking and they were outside of transition.  Again, another long line….again lack of organization. I don’t know if they didn’t have enough volunteers or what.

The morning was actually beautiful.  It was only about 65 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. It would get hot later, but I would be done.  We’ve had some unseasonably cool weather in Kansas City the previous week which had dropped not only the air temperatures, but also the lake temperatures.  So this race was wetsuit legal, which is pretty unheard of for a tri in Kansas City in late July. The water temperature was 78.  Since I was only doing 500, I opted out of the wetsuit – assuming it takes me more time to get out of it than it saves me.
The Swim:

Transition closed and Michelle and I headed down to the lake.  I wished her luck and we went our separate ways.  My group was the very last to start.  The pros went first, then multiple waves of the 5150 then all the “sprint” men, and then finally all the “sprint” women.  This was the first race where I’ve ever done with a swimming start.  You basically walk down a boat ramp and enter the water which is very rocky!  You then swim over to a little area and tread water until the buzzer goes off.   You burn a little extra energy treading water for about 5 minutes – but I guess you could call it a warm up J
The race finally starts and as usual you find yourself in a jumble of bodies - Hands, arms and feet everywhere.  I finally got in a rhythm and found a spot that wasn’t too jammed with people.  All of a sudden though I feel a huge swoosh of water right in front of my goggles I look up to see two huge feet right in front of my face.  The girl ahead of me was doing the breast stroke and almost kicked me straight in the face.  That’s the closet I’ve ever come to being kicked in the head during a race.  I got out of her path quickly and kept on.  I finally reach the turn for the final stretch of the race and some of the faster Olympic distance swimmers have caught up with me.  All of a sudden what was fairly calm became a little hectic.  But before I knew it I was done with the swim and heading into transition.

The Bike:
Hardest Bike EVER for a sprint race!  Ok, just thought I’d start with that.  I run into transition and grab my bike….my tri bike (first actual race on the tri bike) and head out to the course.  You have to mount on a hill….yes on a hill. Now, I noticed this before the race thank goodness, so I had my bike in the easiest gear.  But many people did not.  People were struggling to get started, weaving, stopping, falling, it was quite a mess.  I was feeling pretty proud as I passed most of them and got up to speed quicker than many.  I was actually passing people – woot – I never pass people J  I actually veered outside of the cones to get around a big mass of people right at the start and then all of a sudden this guy was basically veering right into me…I yelled “woah” and headed toward the left where I ended up coming within about 2 inches of going off the road – which would have been disastrous, but luckily I managed to keep it on the road. My heart was racing of course, but I got myself back together and kept climbing…as we headed out of the park and onto the main course.  The course is HILLY.  No other way to describe it.  I have ridden tougher individual hills, but because this course was hill after hill it was just incredibly taxing on the legs. 
You get one little straight stretch across the dam, but you’ve got an incredible head wind there and I was holding on to my bike for dear life.  My front tire was shaking like crazy…so it wasn’t exactly an area where you could “relax”.  So, it’s finally time for the turnaround and what fun, the turnaround is at the bottom of a hill which causes multiple problems:  1) you have momentum going down the hill, but you actually have to brake to make the turnaround on the two lane road 2) People doing the Olympic distance race are NOT doing the turnaround and are flying by you while you are trying to slow down (dangerous) 3) You now have to go UP that big hill you just came down from basically a stop.  No momentum because you had to drop your speed to make the turnaround… about a leg burner.  I had been doing “ok” on the hills to this point, but this really took it out of me.  In the end you have 872 feet of elevation gain over 13 miles which in my book is a ton!  While the Olympic bike is more miles, I honestly think it would have been an easier bike because once they reach the turn around the course levels out and they have a nice long straight stretch for their legs to recover before doing those hills on the way back in – and they aren’t doing the toughest hill from basically a stop.  Anyway, I finally finish the bike – on a downhill… YEAH!  And head back into transition to get ready for my run (which of course will start on an uphill)…ugh!

The Run:
I quickly change out of my helmet and shoes and throw on my running shoes, visor and race belt and I’m out.  My transition times were actually pretty good during this race.  The bad news is, my legs are toast!  I mean toast.  I feel like I can’t run 3.1 feet, much less 3.1 miles!  So, I start on the run up the basically ½ mile climb.  And before I know it I’m walking!  I hate walking in a 5k!  Granted it’s up a hill and after a tough bike, but still I keep telling myself it’s only 3 miles you can do it…but my legs say NOPE sorry lady right now we need to rest.  I kind of walk/run until I reach the top of the hill and then I try to get going.  I’m still feeling pretty sluggish but at least I’m running and the hard part of the run is over.  Most of the run is pretty flat.  Of course running is not my strong suit, so I get passed by a lot of people….as in most people.  Anyway, the beauty of a ½ mile uphill start is a ½ mile downhill finish.  I run to the finish and mile 3 is my fastest mile of the course!  There is a little confusion at the finish.  I am running back toward the park and the volunteer said “Olympic distance turnaround here!” – I said “But I’m doing the Sprint” – he said “then go straight” which I did….and noticed I was heading back into transition – I looked over to my left – there was the finish line…ARGH……I had to then cross back across the parking lot to get back into the finish line area.  I finally cross the finish line…glad to be done. 
Me & Michelle pre-race

Overall, I still had fun.  That’s been my goal for racing this summer.  Enjoy it and have fun.  This was certainly not one of my favorite races ever.  As a matter of fact I would put it up there with least favorite. I don’t think I will do this one again, but still I can’t complain too much. I finished another triathlon and on my new tri bike for a change!
I grabbed my medal and a few refreshments at the finish line and then headed to get my results.  I was super excited when I saw I was 4th in my Age Group! That was my highest finish ever.  But then I found out there were only 4 people in my age group….of course.  I was bummed because I was that close to an age group award by default – if just one of those girls hadn’t shown up I would have won. LOL and I would have been thrilled to get it even if it was by default.  The other thing I noticed was my bike speed.  It listed me as 18.9 miles per hour! Say what?  My fastest bike ever was just under 17 mph….hey maybe that tri bike was magic?  But then I started really thinking that there was just no way on that course I just had my fastest bike ever.  I went to the results area and asked “does anyone else think their bike time is fast”.  My friend (who works for the timing company) said “it was a 16 mile bike right”?  No, I replied it was only 13….oh…the miles were entered wrong, suddenly my stellar 18.9 mph bike ride was 15.3 mph – that’s more like it.

After I got my “real” results I then headed to the finish line to cheer on other athletes and wait for Michelle to finish.  She didn’t feel like she had her best race ever, but she did finish 3rd in her Age Group (out of way more than 4) and she did qualify for the Hyvee Championship which was her goal.  So in the end it was a great day for both of us! 
Jack wearing my medal and trying to take all the credit again




July 14, 2014

Rock the Crossroads 5K - Yep another 5k

I usually don't do very many 5Ks in a year, but I've managed to do three in the past month for some reason.  If you read my last post then you know my last 5K was kind of a disaster...but this one was better :)

A few months ago a friend of mine asked me to do the Rock the Crossroads 5K in downtown Kansas City.  I actually did this race last year and it was pretty fun so I said yes.  They have a live band in an actual concert type venue after the race.  It's usually a local band, but they are pretty good.  You also get pretty amazing swag for a 5K with a very nice t-shirt and medal.  The race is in the "Crossroads" District of Kansas City which is kind of an art District.  There is lots of fun graffiti everywhere.
Some of the graffiti in the Crossroads District
It all sounded good until a day or two beforehand when I really start thinking about the fact that I have a long run to do over the weekend and about how hot it is going to be.  The race is Saturday night so I had to decide if I wanted to do a long run Sat morning like normal and then do a 5K that night or if I wanted bike Saturday morning instead and then do the 5K and move my long run to Sunday.  Either way was not ideal, but I settled on Sunday and it worked out pretty good.  I had my best long run Sunday that I've had in ages!

So now for the heat.  This is an evening race so it's truly in the heat of the day.  It starts at 7:30 before the sun goes down.  And this Saturday we had "Out hottest day of the Summer so far" according to the local weatherman.  Oh goodie.  We've actually lucked out in Kansas City so far this Summer.  Normally we would have seen many days in the 90s and even 100s but it's been a pretty mild Summer so far with only a couple of days in the 90s.

I looked up the temperature before the race.  90 degrees....and feels like temperature of 95 with the scorching humidity.  The sun was still shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  It was going to be  HOT for sure. On top of it all this course is pretty darn hilly.  Pretty much the entire 2nd mile is uphill....or at least it seems like that anyway.

I got to the race pretty early because I still needed to pick up my packet.  It didn't take long and then Jim (who was sitting this one out) and I tried to find a place to hang out while I waited on my friend.  Almost everyone was crowded in this tiny alley trying to get some shade.  We were there for a bit, but then found a spot on the steps around the building that was shaded by another building.

.Hiding in the shade before the race start
I finally met up with my friend and it was time to get started.  I wished her good luck and she said "we can run together"....we are NOT the same pace, not even close.  I said "you probably don't want to run with me I'm going to take it really slow".  She said, oh it will be fine.  I had decided before the race that after what happened the previous week I would run pretty slow.....somewhere around an 11 or 11:30 pace.  I was still experiencing some symptoms from my vertigo attack and while I hadn't had another one I wasn't sure what might happen in the heat if I pushed too hard so I figured I should probably take it easy.

So what do I do....kill it during mile one.  Of course.  The race starts and I just start running.  I am dying already and can tell I'm going way too fast.  I'm sweating and I'm hot already and I am absolutely parched within the first half mile.  My friend Christa asks "what's our pace" 9:45 I say - and she says "oh that's good, this feels ok, let's just keep that the rest of the time".....I know that's not going to happen - 9:50 pace is my 5K PR....

Anyway, she gets a bit ahead of me and looks back to see where I am and I wave her on.  I know I will keep slowing down and I do.  I settle in to a more comfortable pace and then the giant hill comes.  I start running up it but it is kicking my butt and I stopped to walk for a few seconds.  I was amazed at how many people were walking this portion.  The heat was really getting to everyone.  I think my second mile was around 11 something. 

We finally get through mile two and mile 3 isn't too bad.  Some small inclines but nothing like you have in mile 2.  But at this point the heat is baking me and everyone else.  I've never seen so many people walking.  I'm not speedy by any means but at this point I'm still averaging in the upper 10s and most people who run that pace are still runners....I rarely see people walking in other 5ks.  My third mile is a 10 something.  I haven't downloaded my Garmin data yet.  I finally see the finish line and pick up my pace again.

I crossed in 32:58, a 10:38 pace.  This wasn't my fastest or slowest 5K time.  But in the heat, I would take it for sure!  I ended up 20th in my Age Group out of 64 and 445 out of 914 overall, which honestly is pretty good for me.  Apparently the heat got a lot of people.

After the race I grabbed my medal and two bottles of water.  One to pour over me and one to drink :)
Post race with our medals...HOT!!!
I have done hotter races, but have been training in hotter temperatures prior too them.  So this one was tough.  I did do a couple of half marathons last year with temps that weren't much cooler. 

What's the hottest race you've ever done?? 

July 10, 2014

Why Sometimes It's Smarter Not to Race – Stars & Stripes 5K

So this post is a bit delayed, but I still wanted to share this…if nothing else, maybe to help my future self.
I didn't get a single pic...this is Jim starting the race
Jim and I decided to do our 3rd Annual Stars & Stripes 5K last Friday.  It’s in our hometown so it’s super convenient.  It’s also a great little race.  They have medals for everyone, a cool t-shirt, a band at the finish, etc.  Lots of extras you don’t get at most 5Ks.  It’s really great.  We had decided last year we should make it an annual tradition.  Plus this race is currently my 5K PR.

We went to register Thursday night and I was shocked to find the late registration was $40.  I thought that was insane for a 5K!  Totally insane.  I said “I’m not doing it. I refuse to pay that much”.  Jim…was not happy with me and encouraged me to “please sign up – wasn’t it me who said this should be an annual tradition”.  So I signed up, although a bit begrudgingly.
Now, as some of my readers may recall I went through a period of about a year where I suffered from vertigo.  It was first induced by an antibiotic.  I would have episodes that were quite debilitating for days at a time and it would recur at any time over the course of about a year. I went through a myriad of testing to find out that I just seem to have more fluid in my inner ear and with the help of a daily allergy pill and watching my salt intake I had not had an episode for a year and a half.  I pretty much thought it was no longer an issue for me.

Well, on Thursday night I picked up a prescription for an antibiotic for a bladder infection.  I went to bed feeling fine.  Skip to Friday morning.  My alarm goes off I sit up to turn it off and instantly the room starts spinning.  Vertigo attack.  It lasted maybe 4 or 5 seconds, but left me dizzy and disoriented.  I sat in bed for a while but just felt “off”.  The room wasn’t spinning, but I didn’t feel right. I got out of bed anyway and got dressed.  There was still over an hour before the race, so I was hoping by then I would feel ok.  I text my friend Michelle to say hey I’m coming…but I might not run.
I shouldn’t have run.  Before the race I was still feeling a bit off, but better.  I decided I would at least try to run and if I felt bad shortly after the start I’d just go back.  Well the race started and I started running.  I immediately felt bad.  It was like I was running in place with things moving around me.  I was having trouble focusing…but then suddenly, I felt ok.  Within two or three minutes that feeling seemed to disappear and I was running with no issues.  Good, I thought, maybe it was just a short-lived episode.  I was actually running pretty well.  The first mile passed quickly and I was pleasantly surprised to see a 9:50 pace.  My 5K PR is a 9:50 pace…so I started thinking…hey I could possibly have a good race.

At about a mile and a half you have a pretty steep downhill and then then of course, a pretty steep uphill since you do a loop. I knew the rest of the race was going to get tougher, so I thought to myself you really need to push it down this hill.  I picked up the pace and all of a sudden another vertigo attack hit me.  I’ve NEVER had that happen before. I’ve never had one hit me during a workout, it’s usually from sudden head movements.  It was awful.  I stopped dead in my tracks (which is not the best thing to do in the middle of a 5K in a downhill section). I put out my right hand because I knew I was going to fall.  I was staggering to the right trying to get out of the way and get to a curb when I could feel myself falling.  I was so dizzy I just couldn’t stand up.  Suddenly, some random runner grabbed me and kept me from falling and escorted me to the side.  Immediately I was surrounded by 5 or 6 runners all asking if I was ok.  I felt like an idiot.  I kept saying, I’m fine. I’m just dizzy – it’s not medical it’s just some medication I’m on.  I’m sure they thought I just over did it….embarrassing.  I finally talked them in to moving along and I just sat there on the curb trying to make the world stop spinning.  Occasionally people would run by and ask if I was ok.  One girl, trying to be encouraging screamed “you are almost done, it’s ok, get up and run”….I know she was trying to be nice, but frankly I wanted to punch her.  Anyway, I sat there for what seemed like 20 minutes, but apparently was only about 4 or 5.  I thought about asking to get someone to drive me back, but I figured I’d have to wait until after the race and it would take forever so I just decided to try to walk the rest.  I got up and immediately started walking sideways.  Again, people start asking if I was ok.  I found that if I just walked and looked at the ground I was ok. I didn’t feel great, but I could walk.  And so I walked the last 1.5 miles.  It took forever.
I finally crossed the finish line, still feeling dizzy but better. I was feeling ok, until I had to turn in my chip. I tried to raise my foot up to the bucket and almost fell over. That was all it took to start feeling dizzy again.  I found Jim and went to sit down on the curb and pretty much fell into it and a bush.  Yeah, it wasn’t a fun day.  I felt stupid and I felt bad because there was Jim, my friend Michelle, and Jim’s friend Paul…..all just staring at me.  They all had GREAT races and something to celebrate and I was ruining it all.

So anyway, the moral of the story is that it is ok to say no to a race.  I had just spent $40 to do that race and I was going to do it no matter what. It was a dumb decision. I should have sat that one out.  In the end, I didn’t hurt myself or anything, but it was a possibility.  It’s been almost a week and I still am not back to normal.  I haven’t had any more vertigo attacks, but my head hasn’t been clear since.  It’s amazing how long the side effects linger. 
Have you ever been smarter than me and pulled out of a race when you knew you shouldn’t do it?  Or did you do it anyway? What was the outcome?


July 09, 2014

Faster Better and Stronger - Really?

A friend of mine sent me this video and I thought it was really interesting.  It's only 15 minutes and I promise it's worth the watch.  It's basically about how athletes are becoming so much better - but are they?  Watch to find out!

If it won't play here is the link.