Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Survived the 2012 Cleveland Marathon: A Coach's Story

I coached the Cleveland Marathon on May 20 with Team in Training.   It was a long, hot, fun, insane day and you all know I spare no detail when it comes to my race reports.  If you want the short version: we all survived.  If you want the long version, continue on.

The day before the race was a hot one and Sunday was forecasted to be in the high 80s.  So much for that "lake effect" up north.  The coaches tried to pass along some extra tips and advice to the runners and walkers to deal with the heat.  There is only so much you can do though with that kind of heat.  We went to bed and hoped for the best.

On race morning at 5:00 am it was already 60 degrees.  Oh boy.  We weren't going to need to wear our trash bags or extra layers that's for sure!
That's a whole lotta purple!

All of the TNT participants met up for a group photo before making the 3/4 mile trek from our hotel to the Browns Stadium for the start of the race.  Having a large marathon with 20,000+ runners/walkers start at a stadium that can accommodate 70,000+ people?  Genius.  It was bathrooms galore!  Four of us girls walked right into a bathroom; no line!  That right there was worth the registration fee for sure (though as a coach, I'm not technically registered).  The team stayed together for a little while before disbursing into their appropriate corrals.

This is my first time at this race so trying to find my way around the course as a coach was a little bit of a challenge.  I typically cut the course so I can get in front of the faster runners so I can try to see everyone at least once or twice and then hop onto the course with those who need some extra encouragement or just a friendly face.  I was going to watch the start from the sidelines and then start making my way out towards mile 11-12 but when I realized I was going to travel the first 1/4 mile of the course anyways, I figured I might as well start with some of our teammates. I jumped into the corral somewhere with the 10:00-10:30 pace group with some of our runners.  I cannot run that pace at all but knowing it would take awhile to clear out and get up to that pace, I'd knew I would be jumping off the course before I was trampled.  Cue the banana.

As a coach, I spent a lot of time of the course.  Usually more time that it takes me to actually finish the race myself.  The reason being that TNT coaches do not come off the course until the very last TNT participant finishes.  Because of this, I have to pack my fuel belt with enough water/fuel to last me at least 8 hours.  I will miss a meal.  And I have trouble eating breakfast that early in the morning so my breakfast is usually pretty light.  I have to be prepared to get hungry.  I had my Shot Blocks and I was carrying around a banana.  Not expecting to actually start with the runners, I entered the corral while still carrying a banana in my hand.  I was expecting to cut the course, walk out to mile 11-12 and camp out for a little while waiting for the race to get to me.  I was going to enjoy my banana at that time.

It quickly became a joke that I would end up carrying that banana for all 26.2 miles.  I was even CHALLENGED to hold onto it until I actually crossed the finish line.  I won't lie, I love a challenge and I couldn't help but think how funny it would be to cross the finish line with TNT while carrying a bruised and mushy banana.  Anyways, as the National Anthem was sung and the gun went off, the banana made the trek across the start line.

Side note: The Cleveland Marathon starts uphill.  Rude!  Not nice, Cleveland.  My heart was pumping as I tried to hang with the 10:30-11 pace group until we got to the top of the hill and I jumped off the course.

Some other coaches and I hung out on the side of the course until the entire field got across the start and up the hill before making our way to 11-12.  I still had the banana.  We made a stop at a port-a-potty.  My fellow coaches guarded my banana while I went. We settled in at 11-12 and waited for the elite runners to get to us.  I tucked my quickly bruising banana into my Fuel Belt so I could clap and cheer for the runners.  Once our first TNT participant ran by (flashing us a HUGE smile all while running a 6:30 mile or something crazy fast like that) and us coaches went nuts cheering (we didn't even bother jumping onto the course with him because he's too damn fast for any of us), the other coaches headed out to get onto the second half of the full marathon course.  I was stationed to stay on from 11-12 and then make sure everyone finished the 1/2 marathon before heading out to the full marathon course.  The TNT coaches do our best to spread out all over the course so our participants can see us as often as possible.

I was standing on the sidelines cheering on the runners when our second runner came through.  I yelled out to him and he just yelled back that there was a runner down behind him.  Not thinking twice, I just started running backwards on the course.  About a block up the road was a runner laying on the sidewalk.  There was someone kneeling by him and pouring water on his head.  It was clear no one had called for help yet so I called 911.  Within a minute I could hear a siren but I had to give a description of the runner because they had already received multiple calls about runners down and were trying to make sure that ambulances got to each person.  I saw an ambulance at the next intersection and started running towards it.  The driver saw me but he couldn't pull out onto the road because there were literally thousands of runners on the road.  Acting fast, the driver pulled up onto the sidewalk and drove towards me.  I jumped out of the way and pointed to the runner on the ground.  As I jumped out of the way, my banana fell out of my Fuel Belt.  And was quickly run over by the ambulance.  I couldn't help myself.  I busted out laughing.  Even though there was clearly an emergency, I couldn't help but think of the ladies' challenge to keep the banana all day.  In my defense, that runner on the ground was talking and was coherent.  He was overheated and ended up being fine and I knew this before I started laughing at my poor squished banana.  I knew that runner was safe before I took this photo as well:
Oh well.  It was fun while it lasted.  It was probably a metaphor for what the rest of the day would hold.  It was only about 90 minutes into the race (so about 8:30 am) and people were already dropping in the heat.

I hung out at my post and jumped onto the course as each of our runners passed.  Once those crazy fast people go by, I can jump onto the course at least for a few yards to run with our participants, give them a pep talk and then jump back off the course.  And as the pace slows down, the longer I can spend with each person.  It's just the way it is.  I give it my best, that's for sure!  When some of my last full marathon runners passed by, I ran with them all the way through mile 12 and through the 1/2 marathon split.  This is when I really realized the extent of the traffic control situation.  When the race first started, myself and the coaches I was with at mile 11 actually had to yell to a cop to get him to stop traffic because the wheelchair athletes and the elite runners were coming.  He was still letting cars go across the race course!  When I made the split off onto the full marathon course, it was a side street with NO traffic control on the alleys.  Normally these small side roads/alleys are controlled by race volunteers rather than police.  This particular road had nothing.  So this meant that cars were driving on the road with the racers.  I was pretty annoyed.  I ran with them for a little while and then jumped off the course and started to head back to the 1/2 marathon split.  While walking backwards on the course, the racers and cars were each dodging each other.  It was a disaster.

I tried to simmer down as I walked back on the course.  I was looking for my 3 walkers by this time.  They were all doing the 1/2 marathon and I was really glad.  It was just too hot out there to be walking a full marathon.  While walkers certainly don't have their heart rate as high as runners, we are out there longer.  More time in the sun.  More time overheated.  If I would have been signed up to racewalk the full that day, I am fairly certain I would have cut off with the 1/2 marathoners and called it a day  I found two of my lovely ladies and while they were tired, they were both still smiling.

That is until the Cleveland Police had an epic fail.  It's a miracle I didn't get arrested or hit by a car.  This particular police officer was knowingly allowing cars to make a turn down a one lane street (one lane was closed for construction).  This one lane road was the RACE COURSE!  There were cars following right behind the people in the race!  I ran backwards on the course to the next intersection and had "some words" with the police officer.  His response?  "I have to let the cars through, they are going to the Marriott.  They have an address."  WTF?  What kind of a response is that?  And my response to him?  "Then you are going to be involved in a situation because someone in this race is going to get hit by a car."  I turned and ran back down the street to catch up to my walkers.  Just then a mini van tried to make a turn onto the course...from the damn Marriott parking lot of all places.  And then I made what might have appeared as a stupid move but I was fired up.  I stepped in front of the van, pointed at the driver and yelled "No, turn around!"  Luckily for me, he listened while all of the van's passengers stared at me.  Don't mess with this mama-bear/coach when it comes to keeping her walkers safe!  Some of the walkers nearby seemed a little stunned and one actually yelled to me, "that was hot."  Not sure what that meant but whatever.

Once my last 1/2 marathoner was through the finish chute, I made way backwards on the full marathon course.  Only to be met with one person being hauled into an ambulance and then no fewer than 4 people being attended to by the medics on bikes all within mile 25-26.  Oh boy.  I immediately started firing off texts to the other Central Ohio coaches who were at mile 15-16 to see if they had seen any of our participants.  I won't lie.  I was really worried about all of our participants.  It was HOT and it seemed like those last couple miles of the course had not one speck of shade.  I even spend some time cuddled up with a brick building because there was a slight overhang and it was providing about 6 inches of shade.  I am not being dramatic either.  I made my way back to mile 25 and hung out near the water stop.  There was no way I was going to wander around the course and not have access to water.  By that time, I had been on the course for about 4.5 hours and had consumed 64 ounces of water.

I will say that the city and the race directors stepped it up and kept the water flowing.  On the first half of the course, it seemed like the volunteers were struggling to keep up with the crowds but I think they figured it out.  And then out came the hoses.  They hooked up garden hoses to the fire hydrants and had COLD water filling the cups and spraying down people as they ran and walked by.

Nice job water stop volunteers!!

Something that I noticed right away was the number of people walking at this point.  I am a walk coach so I'm used to seeing lots of walkers but this was only 4-4.5 hour into the race.  4:30 marathoners RUN.  And there was a whole lot of walking going on.  That actually made me feel better because that meant lots of people were listening to their bodies and not pushing the pace too much.

I finally started seeing some of our participants and got the chance to run and walk many of them into the last 1/4 mile (and then running backwards on the course until I found someone else).  Once we passed the 5 hour mark, I started feeling a little weird.  My stomach was churning every time I ran but when I would stop to walk (or to hide in the shade), I felt like I need to take a nap and call it a day.RIGHT.THEN.  Not exactly an option at that point.  But then a wonderful thing happened.

A local business, Checker Bar Ice Cream, took notice of the melting people running and walking by, dragged a table out their front door along with a cooler FULL of ice.  I grabbed handfuls and started stuffing them in my sports bra and rubbing them on my neck.  I was simply overheating and the ice made me feel better right away.  I passed by the business several times with my TNT peeps, grabbing cups of water and handfuls of ice for them.

Again, with my mama-bear instinct with my participants, I was shoving ice down the shirts of people I barely knew.  I also gave a salt packet to some random dude who was hanging onto the race fencing less than 1/2 a mile from the finish line.  His legs had cramped so badly he couldn't move.  He had a medic with him, holding him up but for some reason, I went over anyways.  I asked if he wanted the salt and he immediately took it while one of our stand-in TNT helpers dropped down and started to massage the calf and then knee of a complete stranger.  It's what we do.

I once again headed backwards on the course until I made it back to about mile 25.5.  My stomach was still being weird for a little while.  I decided to make a pit stop at the porta-potties.  Even been in a full porta-potty on a 90 degree day?  Not pleasant.  They were also out of toilet paper.  Son of a!  Then I remembered my emergency stash of tissues.  I've mentioned my Fuel Belt numerous times before.  I carry everything but the kitchen sink everywhere I go but even more so on a day when I'm coaching.  I even ADD an extra pouch to my belt when I'm coaching.  You gotta have somewhere to put those salt packets and band aids....and cell phone....and lip sunscreen....and an inhaler....and sometimes even a banana. of our other coaches was waiting outside the porta-potty watching my FuelBelt (I don't recommend taking one INSIDE a porta-potty...too much of a risk of dropping it) when I jumped back out and dug out my tissues!  I may or may not have sang Hallelujah.  Too much information?  That's how I roll.

Finally, just when I thought I was going to melt into the pavement on St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland, our last TNT participant reached mile 25(ish).  She was already with a couple other coaches and was picking up more along the way.  Eventually, I made it to the finish chute for the last time that day.  There were 5 coaches walking in with our last participant who was one TOUGH cookie!

Some 8+ hours after my morning started, I ended the day with approximately 14 miles.  And by some miracle, I didn't get any sunburn!  Thank you Neutrogena SPF 55!  I sweat buckets, ran through a hose a couple times, stuffed ice down my shirt and yet the sunscreen still held up all day!  I wasn't even paid to say that.

After chowing down on some finish line food, we made the trek back to our hotel.  We had long missed check out so we had left our bags with the front desk before the race.  We wandered back into the Renaissance Hotel dripping in sweat....and nowhere to to clean up except the lobby restroom.  I really didn't want to make the 2.5 hour hour drive home sitting in my own nastiness so we did the best we could in the restroom.  There were several of us in there trying to rinse off in the sinks and changing into dry clothes in the stalls.  Not my classiest move but definitely necessary.

Several hours earlier, while still on the course, one of our helpers mentioned how yummy a popsicle would taste right in that moment.  And I'm not kidding you that I was fantasizing about popsicle for the rest of the race.  So on the drive home we made a pit stop so I could get gas.  While I filled the tank, my partner in crime, Lisa, was inside the gas station.  She came out with this wonderfulness:

The Mega Missile was for me.  Lots of jokes followed.

Back on the road and one happy camper!  Note to self, popsicles make a great post-race snack.  Especially when said race takes place at the thresholds of hell and you cannot seem to cool off!

At the end of the end of the day, ALL of our TNT participants finished.  Some got a PR.  Some got a PW.  But they all finished SAFELY.  That was a win considering the conditions.  They also raised a ton of money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and in my opinion they are all real heroes.  THANK YOU TEAM IN TRAINING PARTICIPANTS, YOU ROCKED MY WORLD!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Adventures in Moving: Part 1

I packed up the last remaining items from our condo on Friday.  This included moving 2 very confused cats to my parents' house for the day.

"Why is my bed in the middle of the living room?"

"And where in the h- did all of the furniture go?  
I only like to throw up on the couch and on your favorite Ikea chair but those aren't here anymore.  
I guess I'll eat some packing tape and throw it up on the carpet instead."

The other cat is noticeably absent.  She has spent much of the moving-out process hiding behind the furnace in the condo.  That is until it came time to move her to my parents' house while I was closing on the condo and the new house.  She went all Exorcist on me when I tried to put her in the carrier.  I ended up bleeding and she nearly lost all of her fur from stress.  You can bet I was cursing The Pilot's schedule right in that moment.  I really could have used some back up. 

But, me, the cats and all of our few remaining belongings made it to my parents' house to kill time before the closings.  I even had time to clean myself up so I didn't go strolling into a major business transaction looking like a crazy cat lady.  You know the look, scratches up my arm and my clothing covered in cat hair.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Moving On

I can finally spill the beans about one of the reasons I've been a complete stressball lately.  I know I mentioned we were trying to sell my condo and buy a house but it finally happened!  As of Friday afternoon, we are the proud owners of a house! 

It's been a crazy stressful adventure and there was the added challenge of having The Pilot gone a lot but we made it work and it's all ours!  Don't be surprised if my cross-training now involves painting, changing light fixtures and refinishing the kitchen cabinets!  It's not quite a full-on fixer upper but it does need some love.  And a whole lot of elbow grease.  We are just really excited to have a garage (the condo didn't have a garage) and to not have to share a wall with some not-so-nice neighbors.  I think that alone was worth the stress and chaos.  More details to come but this is the first time I've been online since Friday morning so there is a lot to catch up on!

Friday, May 25, 2012

What Not to Wear: Episode 5

In all seriousness, I would LOVE to not have to write these "what not to wear" posts.  I would much prefer that all of my gear just perform the way it was intended.  But the whole point of my blog (IMO) is to share the great, the good, the bad and the ugly.

During my sweaty 16 the other night, I had a tri top malfunction.  Our Team in Training tri suits came in and I've worn the shorts before and they are ok.  Not that great but mostly because of the fit.  They are unisex...which in my opinion means they are designed for a dude.  And if you didn't know, dude parts aren't the same as dudette parts.  The chamois in the tri shorts doesn't seem to match up to my parts.  I'll leave it at that.  They are tolerable for a sprint distance tri but I don't think I'd wear them for a longer ride.  Since I'm training for a sprint tri though, they will work.

The tri top is sleeveless and this was my first chance to wear it due to the weather.  Again, it's made to fit a dude.  Dudes don't typically have "girls."  Especially not fit, triathlete-type dudes.  So anyways, the top fits weird in the chest but for me, the biggest issue is the bottom of the top (say what?).  It's meant for a dude who doesn't have hips.  It's too narrow in the hip area.  I tugged it down and hoped it would work.

Nope.  As soon as I got on the bike and leaned forward, the top rolled up so I was feeling a breeze across my back.  It rolled up far enough that it went up above my shorts and my back was exposed.  I didn't even think to put sunscreen there!  It kept trying to pull it down but no luck.  I finally gave up, hoped I wouldn't burn and hoped I didn't blind any drivers because of how pale my lower back is...and I kept riding.

The thing is, if I ordered a new one in a larger size, I think it would be too big in the shoulders/chest.  Damn.  I will never understand why unisex sizing was ever invented.  We are not the same yo!  I've been trying to figure out if there is a way to alter the top but other than cutting the bottom to allow extra room for my badonkadonk, I'm not sure what to do.  I could wear my old tri top but I was really excited to wear my TNT gear and match the rest of my teammates.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sweaty 16

I finally got back out on the bike last night.  After several high stress days, I was in desperate need of a workout.  Sometimes you just need to sweat it all out, know what I mean?  Or cry it out.  Depends on the situation.

It was HOT when I got going at about 5 pm.  I coated myself in sunscreen and hit the road.  I only had one water bottle (because I could only fine one bottle....moving SUCKS!) and only 5 minutes into my ride I just knew I was going to guzzle it all down.  I almost got a refill on my way back but I would have had to venture off the trail into a park and I didn't feel like adding time to my ride.  I had things to do!  I rationed the water on the way back, drinking the very last drop while waiting at the last traffic light.

I rolled back into my parents' driveway (aka bike storage during this evil move) finishing up 16 miles.  The best part of the ride?  I ended the ride with a 14 mph average pace!  I seriously got passed by an only lady on a rusty mountain bike but this was my fastest ride of the season.  Considering that my legs are still a little dead from coaching the Cleveland Marathon on Sunday (race report is in the works), I was really pleased.  I did have the weather on my side. 

Worst part of the ride?  When I finished my ride, I was covered in gnats.  Between the sweat and sunscreen, my knees, shins and arms were covered.  There may have been some stuck to my face too but I wiped off before I stopped inside to say goodbye to the parents.  Yuck.  That's all part of the experience I suppose.

Friday, May 18, 2012

What Not To Wear: Episode 4

The saga continues!  In episode 2, I shared my very unfortunate sports bra injury.  I'm glad I shared my embarrassing problem with the internets though because I got some really great suggestions!  Several people suggested I try either Moving Comfort or Title Nine.  I've actually had Moving Comfort sports bras in the past that worked really well but they can be a little pricey and after losing weight, the bra no longer fit.  That's when my current sports bra started to be loved to death.

I received a couple recommendations for Moving Comfort's Juno so I ordered the "sale color" (which was a very pretty blue by the way) and within days it was delivered to my office (yet another delivery I couldn't try on for my co-workers).  I swear this thing must be made of Kevlar.  You could stop a bullet or possibly an elbow (like I received during my epic 1/2 marathon PR adventure).  It was also a b---- to get on.  I had some advice from a fellow runner on how to get that contraption on and off but it was still a challenge.

Instant fail.  It was uncomfortable as soon as I put it on.  While it "fit," it just didn't fit my shape.  It came up too high on the side and was digging into what I refer to as the "chicken wing."  I tried adjusting it but it just wasn't comfortable.  I didn't even want to leave it on to wear around the house let alone a long, sweaty training run.

I contacted Moving Comfort about an exchange and they were very nice and prompt.  I returned the Juno and ordered the Fiona instead.  My previous Moving Comfort was the Fiona and I liked it at the time but I was strictly race walking then.  Now I need my sports bras to work for race walking, running, shuffling, and possibly triathlon-ing (my blog, I can make up words).

Once I received the Fiona, I tried it on and was instantly comfortable.  No weird pinching of the chicken wing.  It's definitely not as structured as the Juno so I was hoping that it would still work for me while running.  I was able to take Fiona out for a quick spin last night and...
I was so excited that during my 30 minute run, I had no issues.  That's not to say that it will work for long distance or on really hot, sweaty days or those sweatfests at the gym but so far, it looks promising.  Hopefully that means I can order a few more Fionas and put my poor Champion out of its misery.  It has at least one more challenge though.  This weekend is the Cleveland Marathon and I'm coaching with Team in Training.  What's a few more miles on the poor old thing?  Now that I have most likely over-shared with all of you, I'm off to the races!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Look! A rainbow!

Remember Tim?  You know, the guy who *forced* me to climb all those hills in spinning class awhile back.  Now that the weather is getting more consistently "spring-like,"  I was finally able to join him for an outdoor ride.  He very generously met me after work on Wednesday for a 20 mile ride. 

He gave me some great tips for working on building my speed as well as how to not fall off the bike or throw up while attempting to climb a hill.  You know, the important things.  This dude has also ridden a bike across the in the entire United States so I don't think he's making this stuff up. 

I did my best to hide my very short attention span and didn't shout out every time we rode past some cows or horses.  I couldn't contain myself though when I blurted out, "look at that rainbow!"  There was a storm way off in the distance and there was this HUGE rainbow coming out of the bottom.  It was the widest rainbow I've ever seen.  ( that the appropriate use of that phrase, SUAR??)  I told him that I am torn by wanting to get faster on the bike but I also feel like because I'm slow, I tend to notice the little things.  You know, taking the time to smell the flowers.  At least I didn't start carrying on and on about the rainbow like this dude.

Anyways, it was a great ride and great conversation.  Bonus, there was a tailwind for part of the ride back and I felt like I was flying.  That tailwind however brought one little random rain cloud.  The sun was shining all around but this one cloud decided to unload on us.  With maybe a mile or two left, the rain was coming down.  It was also probably around 60 degrees or less and that rain was COLD.  Like teeth chattering cold.  By the time we made it back to his house, the rain cloud moved along.  We did miss some hail though.  Despite being so close to his house, we somehow missed the small hail that fell at his house.

See the white stuff in my awesome cell phone photo?  That's the hail in Tim's flower bed.  I'm sooo thankful that that wasn't pelting us during the ride.  

Bonus lesson?  Learning to ride in the rain.  I've ridden in a few sprinkles before and I got caught in a sudden storm once but I took shelter at a gas station until my mom could pick me up.  So that was my first experience in real rain.  I admitted I was nervous to Tim but he led me safely back.  I won't lie though, my shoulders were sore when I got off the bike.  I had a death grip on that bike during the rain!  But all was well and it was a great ride.  Thanks Tim!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Short Distance Challenged

It's no secret on this blog that I kinda suck at short distances.  For whatever reason, this short body of mine was meant to go long, albeit slow, but long.  Example: my full marathon PR is 6:46.  That's nearly SEVEN hours.  See what I mean by long and slow??  Anyways, back to the short of things.  I've never enjoyed 5Ks.  Even a 4 miler is questionable.  I don't get warmed up until AFTER I hit the 3 mile mark so you can imagine how frustrating a 5K race can be for me.

I've really been struggling to get all of my workouts in right now and I'm basically in survival mode.  I'm doing what I can so I survive this triathlon.  Come to think of it, my whole life is in survival mode.  I cannot wait for the month of May to be OVER.  I needed to get out on the trail last night both for my sanity and for training purposes.  I set out to just do 3 miles because I still needed to get home and eat dinner and do a million other things.  I wasn't expecting magic but I also wasn't expecting shin splints to leave me temporarily handicapped.  I'm not kidding!  About 3/4 of a mile into the run, my shins were on fire.  I tried slowing down but I eventually had to stop.  I stretched and walked...sort of.  I was hobbling.  I limped along while my legs remembered how to work and then tried to run again.  Yowza.  I ran some but took another walk break as I approached the 1.5 mile mark.  I told myself I was going to walk until the pain eased up.  When I reached the turnaround, my legs were still cranky.  I couldn't come out here and do 3 miserable miles.  I knew it would make me feeling worse than if I would have skipped the entire workout.  I knew if I did 4 miles, I would at least feel better for that last mile since the 3 mile mark is usually when I find my rhythm.

I finally started running again and was able to run almost the entire trip back (I was secretly very happy when I had to stop to wait for traffic).  And sure enough, just past mile 3, I was pain free and feeling comfortable.  I could have kept going (minus the hunger).  I felt much better that I opted for an additional mile and that the last mile didn't suck.  Maybe I need to start finding a way to work for 4-5 milers in during the week....ha.  More time?  That's a funny one.  Maybe next month.

And you all know how easily I'm amused...and how I hate hills  I loved the elevation chart the Garmin spit out after my run.  And yet another reminder why I love the elevation-challenged Central Ohio:

My run had an elevation gain of 6 feet.  SIX.  And based on this chart, it sort of looks like I stopped and jumped in the air and then kept running.  I'm also not sure of the accuracy of this chart since I did an out and back and turned around at mile 2.  Maybe on side of the trail is lopsided?  Yeay for six feet of elevation gain.  And boo to the fact that I DIE when faced with hills during a race.  ;)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Easily Distracted

My tri team had a group ride over the weekend and I discovered just how easily I am distracted.  I spent much of the ride out with the coach but when I was scheduled to turn around (we were riding for time rather than distance), I was on my own for the ride back.  Mother nature finally decided to give us a break and I wasn't fighting crazy wind or other esteem-crushing factors.  I was actually having a really decent ride when I turned back.  And because I was alone for the trip back, I found myself all kinds of distracted.

Normally when I'm training for a foot race, I kind of zone out (when on a trail closed to traffic).  I also train on the same trails for the most part so I could probably tell you every bump, turn and oddity on the local trails.  Being on the roads on a bike is a whole different experience.  I travel roads I don't typically drive on (trying to avoid traffic) and see things I don't normally see.  And so when making my trip back yesterday, I couldn't help but notice all of my surroundings.

Wide open spaces and farm country!  I love that you can find this just a couple miles outside of suburbia.

Don't judge my photo taking skills.  I'm trying to operate a cell phone camera while riding a bike....and I wonder why I'm slow.  (Taken on a pretty much deserted road. I don't think any cars passed me on this particular stretch.)

Miles and miles of road ahead!

Lots of open road, farms, farm animals, a rock quarry, some road kill, other cyclists and LOTS of blue sky were what filled my ride back.  And I don't even care that I'm slow because I got the chance to calm my mind down and enjoy the morning.  Plus, my average speed for this 15.5 mile ride was 13.5 mph which was faster than last week so that was encouraging.  I might not finish dead last in my upcoming triathlon.  Or I might still but that's ok.

Something else that amused me while I was out on the ride was that like the marathon community, the cycling community is very friendly.  When a "gang" of cyclists passed me going the opposite direction at one point, I did a half wave while still holding onto my handles and they all did the same in return.  Sort of like bikers or Cadillac drivers do.  Know what I'm talking about?  Anyways, I was amused.  

Know what I was NOT amused by?  The damn drivers who don't give ANY space for cyclists.  Especially on a near-deserted road with plenty of space to swing wide.  Even if technically they give enough space (ie: not going to actually hit you), the wind that they create is enough to make you wobble sometimes.  Or at the very least, scare the bejeezes out of you.  Share the road people! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Strikethrough and Stress!

Sweet Jesus!  Blogger now has a strikethrough option so I don't have to Google the html code for those times when I want to be extra dramatic and say something but then do strikethrough so it's like I never said it.  Ummm...yeah.  Moving on.

I know I've kinda fallen off the blog wagon but there has been all kinds of insanity around here.  Some bad, some sad and some darn exciting but naturally it's all happening at once and causing mass stress.  I'll fill you in once it all passes....until then I don't want to jinx any of it, good or bad.

In the meantime, I am still attempting to train for a triathlon.  I have recently accepted that this isn't going to be my best performance.  My heart just isn't in it and while I am training, I'm certainly not training enough to make race day something to cheer about.  I won't drown or anything traumatizing like that, it's just going to be a so-so race day.  And I'm ok with that.  You can't expect great results unless you at least put in great effort.  And besides, I am doing that race with Team in Training so the real reason to race is a lot bigger than myself.  The reason is to find a cure for cancer.  Because it sucks.

I got in a 21 mile ride with my team on Sunday.  It was a decent ride and my pace wasn't absolutely horrible (12.88 mph average...which I know is slow but it definitely isn't the worst ride I've ever had.).  I actually saw 20 mph at one point but during the last 3 miles, I felt like I was riding into a hurricane.  It was windy!  I think this may be the reason I enjoy spinning classes so much.  I'm only dealing with my own ability (or lack of) and I'm not also fighting mother nature and her fury.  :)

It was a fun ride though.  I got to spin out some stress but I also got to hang with this girlie for parts of the ride (when she wasn't dropping me on the uphills):
There's Lisa looking all cute out in the no man's land also known as the far west side of Columbus.  This will be her first triathlon and I'm so proud of her!  She went from barely making it 1 length of the pool (25 yards) to swimming 1600 yards non-stop the other night.  She's also a complete bada$$ on the bike.  And of course she's a rock star runner.  She's going to smoke me during the triathlon and I'm so excited about that!!

So while this triathlon certainly isn't going to be an "A" race for me, I have my sights on two other races later this year.  Once some of the insanity passes and I evaluate the time I have to train, I'll fill you in on my plans.  :)