Thursday, June 25, 2009

Running Buddy!

It's been a long tiring training week, and I have to admit, I'm glad that tomorrow is my rest day.

I started out the week by asking on Facebook (lame, I know) if anyone wanted to run fast with me. As it turns out, an old old friend from a whole different early college chapter of my life was on his high schools cross country team and still is pretty serious about running, so he messaged me.

Clearly, this was the smartest thing I've done in a while, because I got a fantastic 5 mile workout and felt completely amazing while running. I run with a couple people, but none that can push my pace to that extent. We're running more, and he's going to work with me to improve my 5k time- sub 20 please!

Anyway, also thinking about signing up for the Steelman Olympic tri August 9- it's not too far away, and I figure I might as well race 2 olympic distances instead of just one. The timing is perfect! Plus, that way if something goes wrong at the first, there's a second chance to redeem myself.

Other than that, this week has been slow. Three + hours of training every day, tutoring, and full day of work tomorrow. Summer is too lazy for me, so I have a few plans- "interning" at the local bike shop one day a week and helping with the junior developmental team run by Team Somerset. Also, more working on more triathlon related articles. I just need to snap out of my lazy rut! It's just so hot in our apartment that it saps all of my energy. Serves us right for living in an attic!

Robbie and I had "date night" last night- we actually took the time to cook dinner- whole wheat spaghetti with veggie meatballs and garlic bread- and watched the new animated Wonder Woman movie- amazing- and just hung out. We didn't want to waste money going out, and I think our date night is much more fun anyway! Then, today we both were free until 5, so we slept in, got bagels, then went to Barnes and Noble and wandered around and looked at comic books (and Triathlete Magazine, of course) before getting lunch at Panera. It's really great that we can still have such a fun time just hanging out, not doing much of anything. And that Robbie hasn't locked me in the house and banned me from training. Poor guy...

Off to drink some "recovery" chocolate milk!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

32 Days To Go

I realized that I thought I had a ton of time before my "A" race of the season, the NJ State Tri, but it's only a month away! That may seem like a lot of time, but I have a lot of distance work that I need to reintroduce to my schedule (unlike the LSD distance stuff I've been doing) and especially a lot of work on the run if I want it to be fast enough by race day. I've had so many sprint-oriented stuff lately, so now it's time to get down to business- I know I could do an Olympic tomorrow and do fine, but I want to do really well.

So, to work! I just figured out a tentative new schedule to stick with for the next week, and if it seems like it's working, great. I also found someone in New Brunswick interested in running with me, so thank god I'll have someone to make me go faster.

Yesterday I ran for 90 minutes, pretty casually. Other than some stomach upset, it went pretty well, so I was happy. I went farther in the 90 min that I could last time, so a definite improvement. However, when I hit the stationary bike at the gym last night (I forgot my bike shoes at my parent's house!), my quads cramped badly and I had to get off after 25 min. They felt ok today but still panged when I swam for an hour, so I decided against running after my weight set and contented myself just biking home and relaxing.

I did get a foam roller at Target, and I'm excited to try it out. I'm hoping it helps a bit. We also got a Booster Gold action figure (from the Justice League Unlimited cartoons we love), and I was incredibly excited about that. Pictures coming soon...

Our poor apartment still is missing a doorknob and needs one room repainted, among other things, but lately we've been stuck in a vortex of family events that haven't given us time to get things done. That and I keep forgetting to bring tools with me when I go back and forth...

I also have been paying a bit more attention to my diet, which needs some serious help if I'm planning on being in top shape for the race in July. I mixed black beans, salsa and avacado together last night and for lunch today, creating a disgusting but yummy mess when eaten with tortilla chips. It was a rough weekend for eating well, since we went form family to family and got tons of yummy desserts shoved at us. Plus, both families make a lot of veg food for us, so we feel like we have to eat a lot because they're so proud of themselves. Not that I'm complaining exactly.

I've also joined Training Peaks and's forums- I'm liking the forum from what I've seen, but Training Peaks is a little too technical for me at this point- it's so much work just to key in a workout! Maybe if I get a HR monitor that would work with it, I'd be inclined to use it more. Too bad I lost my Nike Ipod attachment- I wonder where it could have gone?

My list of gear I need just keeps piling up... thank god for some graduation money form various relatives, now I can get new shoes and a couple of new suits. I have a great one from splish that I designed with Robbie's help that I want to wear in the NJ State Tri.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm Getting

Yesterday was my birthday, and instead of taking the day off, I actually worked more. I did this so I could miss work today for my boyfriend's brother's graduation. But it was worth it.

So now I'm 22, and I still feel like I'm 18. Yesterday was ok, I had a minor mishap cutting a bagel at work and sliced my hand and got blood everywhere, which wasn't the way to start the day. But I got a couple cute super cheap dresses in Newark, and a great shirt for Adam for graduation.

Then, since Wednesday I had felt pretty beat after a 50 mile solo ride, I decided to take it easy at the gym. Rode to the gym, hit the stationary bike and focused on spinning at high cadence. Then, since no treadmills were free, I hopped on the elliptical machine to get a "cross training workout" with the arms. When I was about to leave, a treadmill opened, so I hopped on and ran a fast 6:15 mile- the fastest I've ever run a mile! I was pretty psyched that it felt that good, and I'm hoping that tomorrow's 5k can go just as well... If I have someone to follow, I might be able to hold that pace. I'd love to do a sub 20 min race.

Anyway, back to my birthday. So after that workout, about an hour and 45 min, I went and picked up a pizza and biked with it to where Robbie was working the night shift, so we could at least eat dinner together.

I was feeling sort of bummed, since Robbie and I decided that for birthday presents, we were just buying house stuff and a couple of Justice League DVDs, so it wasn't like I had any great exciting presents to look forward to. When we eventually drove back to his parent's house though, I found out that he had bought me roses, and his parent's got me balloons and a chocolate cake that said Happy Birthday Molly on it! I can't get over how great they are...

At any rate... today was pretty tame, but then Dad biked with me while I ran through the park and did a decent set of hill repeats. The pizza from Adam's graduation party caught up with me though, and on the run home, it was definitely killing me. Then, weight set and now relaxing for the rest of the night and getting ready to race tomorrow.

What an exciting life!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekend in Pictures (and a race report!)

Things I heard during and after the race:
1. "You're like a freight train"
2. "I can't believe how strong you are!"
3. "You hammered like crazy on the bike and then still powered through the run like it was nothing!"

Dad, Mom and I after the race.

What a great weekend!

Saturday morning I was up and out the door with Dad, Mom, and Robbie. We got to Bear Mountain and Harriman State Park by 6:30, giving me an hour to get registered and ready and an extra 15 to get in the water and paddle around.

Finally, a race with a huge women's restroom! I was in heaven...

Then, race! The swim was amazing- I couldn't believe how smooth it went- except for getting elbowed in the eye about 200 yards from the exit- and when I got out, dad yelled that I was the 8th woman out of the water. (800 meters in 13:55 with a ridiculously long run into the water)

Got the wetsuit off and got on the bike with relative ease and had a sort of slow bike mount but nothing too bad. It turned out that the course was the opposite of the Bear Mountain race, so the downhill was super curvy and the uphill was straight. No fun at all for me, since I hate downhills. I wish I had pushed it on the uphill a little more, since I felt like I had more to give by the end, but oh well. I need a better sense of how much I can push without bonking totally. It should hurt more! Still, I managed to muddle through and land in 5th place by the time I got back. (16 miles, 52 min)

Fast transition, even though I sort of couldn't find my spot right away... the rows were curved, so I just got a bit lost. But still, just over 1 min.

Then, the run. It was on jeep trails and with all the rain, they were pretty intense. Hilly too! But I managed to pass a lot of men, but no women. The women ahead of me were mostly amateur elites, so I didn't really think I would be able to catch anyone. Maybe if I'd gone harder on the bike... Still, even with the mud, rocks, hills and terrible terrain, I finished in 23:23 min.
(note the awesome shirt- it was my dad's father's day present from me- he was so psyched and surprised!)

I came in 35th overall (out of around 300), 5th female, and 1st in my age group, so I was pretty happy with those results. My time was about what last year's number 1 female's was, which was exactly what I was goaling for, so I was very pleased with that result.
(Robbie and I showing off our major interests: online poker and triathlon. Cute!)

I made an awesome new friend- she was so great!

Went home, drank a milkshake and watched Justice League with a very tired Robbie.

Then, Sunday somehow morphed into a monster training day- and my first day trying out compression socks!

I woke up ready for a short bike ride but had a flat back tire. While waiting for Dad to stop by the bike shop on his way home and get a tube I decided to go for a run. Went through the park and got up the huge hill, then decided to take to the road. Ended up doing about 9.5 miles with a few huge hills in 72 min. It's insane how much improvement I've made in the past month.

Got home and Dad has already fixed my tire. We have no idea how it flatted, since at the race it was fine, but at least it wasn't flat on the course! I decided to ride the 4 miles to Spruce Run and do the sprint tri course from there, then go home again. I did the race course in 46 min, a minute slower than last week, but considering the run I had done before combined with the race from the day before, I was ok with it.

Came home and Dad and I headed out for a short run so I could get a decent brick workout in. Of course, with Dad it's not exactly speedy but by that point I was ok with it. We're doing a 5k next weekend and he has to be ready for it!

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's Only a Day Away!

SBR's sprint tri is tomorrow, and I'm already feeling pre-race nerves. In a good way though!

With all of the open water swim practices that I've been doing (ok, not too many but enough, I hope), I'm feeling good about the swim. I'm doing well on the bike and running, even on off road trails, and my times have improved drastically in the past two weeks.

For that matter, I have improved too. I've lost some weight, and actually stopped taking various IBS related medicines, and it seems like my body is responding very well to that. So hopefully if I'm just careful about how I eat, I can manage the whole irritable bowel thing more naturally from now on.

In other great news, I made a friend! Beth, the woman I met on Saturday at the crit, and I went swimming yesterday. It was great hanging out with her, and it was a really good pre-race workout. I never do real swim workouts, but I think I should start!

We did:
200 warmup
4 x 50 m
2 x 200
2 x 400 (6:20, 6:23, fantastic!)
4 x 50 sprints (first was at :35, the other 3 were :40)
200 cool down
Not a long workout for me, but definitely a hard one. My endurance swims have paid off though, and with a little more focus, I get a lot faster.

I was really happy about the 400's in particular- now if I can do that in an 800 m tomorrow, I'll be thrilled!

At any rate, now I'm just trying to stay relaxed before the race. It's annoying how pre-race jitters and pre-race excitement feel the exact same! I just don't want to be exhausted by tomorrow for the actual race itself...

I have a little surprise for my dad, an early father's day present, that he's getting during the race tomorrow, so hopefully I'll have pictures to post soon. He's been fantastic this week with helping with the open water swim and being a sounding board.

Of course, for a really great present, I'd have to actually win, since he seems convinced that I can. So fingers crossed!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pictures from the Weekend

Someone from my team took a ton of pictures at the race, and I'm so excited about finally having some action shots of me, I just felt the need to share:

As I pointed out to my dad, my hands are not anywhere near the brakes, so I'm finally getting better at cornering in a pack, especially during a crit!

I was really happy someone got a picture of this- I've never ben up in the front in a crit, normally my strategy is "oh god oh god oh god just try to stay with the pack..." et cetera. So this race really was a huge turning point for me in terms of how capable I am racing. I'm strong enough that I should be able to keep up and do well in crits, but until now, I've had some mental block preventing it. No more!
There's the finish line, and there's me getting outsprinted after being off the front. Until I saw this picture, I didn't realize just how close it was. That hurts!

Thanks to this race, I'm feeling really good about the weekend, definitely more excited.

Speaking of the weekend, Dad and I did open water swim training on Sunday with great results, finally felt comfortable in the lake.

Yesterday started badly. I got in the water and heard a huge splash, looked over and saw something huge in the water for a second, then it disappeared. I jsut saw a piece of the body, so I guess it was an enormous fish, but it scared me to death. I hate slimy things, and large slimy things are really not my favorite. So I was already nervous when I started swimming. I went maybe 75 yards when I heard a bullhorn yelling at Dad and I to get out of the water. I stood up, but dad didn't hear and kept going. They kept blaring despite the fact that I had stopped and was clearly trying to get dad's attention, and I sort of lost it and started screaming something along the lines of "he can't hear you, you jacka$$!" I can't help it, I have a temper.

Once dad looked up and started heading to shore (they were still beeping), I did the triathlon swim exit- sprinted in, got up, ran out and pulled off the top half of the wetsuit. The poor guard looked confused at seeing me (small girl in a wetsuit) and then my dad (large man ina bright blue wetsuit with scars all over his stomach and a broken zipper). To confuse him even more, my dad was being nice and quiet, but I came out and started yelling at the guy about how he could have given us a minute after the first time he said anything, since I had obviously heard him and was heading out. I wasn't mad about getting kicked out of the water, just mad about how dumb the guy was being about it. In any event, dad and I ended up laughing about it a lot, since it was just absurd. That poor guard didn't know what he was in for!

Also, speedwork, heavier weights, and more intense swimming in the past couple days. Training is going well, though I'm a little unmotivated today. Just gotta focus on Saturday!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What a Feeling!

It has been a productive two days, and I am feeling particularly proud of myself.

I was nervous about the crit on Saturday, but pretty excited too. I didn't expect great things, but a pack finish would have been nice. I was thinking that dad would be there, but he had to work. I also was sort of expecting an old friend (who got me into bikes in freshman year of college) to show up, but he wasn't there either. Even mom, who was supposed to drive me, didn't show up until late. At least I had Don and Jay to talk to and the other guys on the team to cheer. It was a great day for the race- not too sunny and pretty warm. I met a woman on the HP Hermes team, Beth, and we bonded- we have plans to do some swimming soon, so I'm psyched!

We had a 40 minute race around a .7 mile course with what is commonly refered to as a "death turn." Yikes.

The race started, and it turns out my new bike happens to love corners as much as I hate them. I would find myself leaning over speeding through corners that a month ago would have required some serious braking. Part of it was the bike, the other part was just me deciding to go for it.

It was easily my best race to date. I started out slow, almost got bumped into when a girl hit the dirt on a corner and was making her way back onto the road. A lot of girls were not exactly keeping great lines, even on the flat straightaway. Yeesh. Still, after a few laps, my legs woke up and wanted to play. I jumped to the front of the pack for a lap, actually raced for the prime (didn't get it, but got in the lead because of it), and thanks to Don and some other teammates yelling on the corner, I managed to have a competent and fun race.

Then, all of a sudden, bell lap! I went around the first corner in the top 7-8 in the pack, and heard Don yell something along the lines of "go now!" We hit the next corner and set up in two lines for the slight hill. I decided to jump then, so I rode up the side and hit the front. I was actually out in front as we hit the turn and stayed there. I've never been in the front in a bike race ever... It was weird, even though I was dying, I still remember thinking "holy crap, I could actually win this thing!"

I didn't, obviously- I jumped too early and lost too much steam about 100 yards from the finish, ending in 9th. Honestly, I was psyched with just a top 10 finish in a crit, considering until now, they've been the races that I do the worst in. So I was really happy about that. Plus, I'm finally learning how muhc energy I can expend- I finished that race with nothing left, and I felt like throwing up by the end from that final push. So hurray!

I'm feeling incredibly proud about it, and I'm realizing that the best thing for me during a race is to just decide to go for it and not let myself get nervous.

Later, Dad and I went for a run/walk (he may do a 5k with me in 2 weeks!) and Robbie came over with an early birthday present (Justice League season 2!).

Then, today I decided to spend the morning biking to Spruce Run (5 miles from my house) and then riding the Spruce Run course (~14 miles including 1.5 of them on a mountain, and a lot of rolling hills along the way), then ride back home and go for a run.

My time on the course in September? 53 minutes. My time today riding at a comfortably hard pace, as opposed to a race pace? 45 minutes. I'm thinking this is going to be a good year.

Then, went for a run while dad biked next to me through Hoffman Park. I figure it's good practice for Bear Mountain next weekend, since the run there is "jeep trails," and Hoffman has a lot of varying terrains so I'm more prepared for anything. It wasn't a crazy run, but the last 1/4 mile I sprinted home, going at a sub 7 minute pace.

Then, ice bath in the driveway. Fantastic.

Open water swimming tonight- yikes!

Final Words:
To the guys who passed me coming in the other direction today while I was riding who saw me and said "hey, a chick!", I gotta ask: what were you thinking?
I'm not sure if it was meant as a compliment (as in: hey, we rarely see women ride, so it's great that you are!"), a come-on (as in: hey, a woman in a sports bra riding. Awesome.), or an offensive remark (as in: like women can really ride bikes.)
Either way, I found it vaguely insulting and sort of uncomfortable. While "chick" isn't as bad as some other words, it's vaguely patronizing and sort of rude. If you met me on the street, I doubt you'd call me a "chick."

One last note to said gentlemen:
If I had turned around when you said that, I would have caught you, then sprinted past you and left you questioning your worth as men. So there.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A shot of self esteem, but no vodka.

Last night reminded me that I do, on rare occasion, like to go out with friends. Lindsay, the best friend of 15 years, visited the new place tonight and we decided to go to karaoke night with Don, Will, and a few other bike team guys. As always, Don and Will were amazing, and Lindsay was suitably impressed by my friends and their karaoke skills. And, for the first time in close to two years, I got to dance! (Well, to the extent that you could in a very crowded bar.)

It was fantastic. We had a blast, and for the first time in months, I was out after 1 am. This is pretty lame, I realize, but I'm usually too beat from training to go out. My self esteem rose substantially as the night progressed, and I actually was feeling pretty good about myself. I also somehow got goaded into signing up to do karaoke with this guy (I believe his name was Jay) to Duran Duran's Hungry Like the Wolf. Unfortunately, there were too many people ahead of us and I had to leave by 1:30 since I had work in the morning. I did promise to go back and sing with him next week, so we'll see. It was just great hanging out with a bunch of friends, and with Lindsay there, I felt like it was high school again- I kept waiting for the call from my mom telling me to get home because it was a school night.

Yesterday was a good training day too- I started doing single leg drills on the bike the past couple days, and have done a couple of really solid interval sessions. Wednesday Don and I rode the Watermelon crit course where I'll be racing this weekend, and it almost looks like fun. The new bike just wants to corner! Let's just hope my nerves don't get the best of me. Also went to Princeton to run with a friend, and did a really good swim set- normally I just swim for endurance, but I'm trying to focus on adding some speedwork to my sessions. I wish I had someone to swim with though! So overall, I'm feeling good. Focusing on speedwork is definitely where it's at right now!

On the apartment front: 1 room down, 3.5 to go, but we can't paint this weekend as our bathroom is getting pretty much totally redone. This is great because our shower was sort of gross, annoying because I want to get painting done already! Yeesh. We thought we'd be moved in completely in a week, but we were very very very wrong. Still, at least our room is almost done, so I'm happy about that. And it was cheaper than expected (so far...)

One annoyance that needs addressing: living in a house composed of three apartments is great because Robbie and I have our own place, and it's a really nice one. However, we don't know the other people we live with. This is a huge problem when a car blocks in the whole driveway making it impossible for me to get out to go to work at 7 am. I mean, come on- there's a ton of street parking (the spot in front of our house was open) and a non-permit street not even 150 feet away. Totally unnecessary to park in the driveway. It also left me with the dilemma of: do I knock on both apartments, potentially waking up innocent non-parkers, or do I grin and bear it and take the train?

I opted for the train (unhappily) so as to not make people hate me before I've even introduced myself, but wrote a sternly worded letter to be taped on our door.

And to the owner of said offensively parked car: dick move.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It's been a hectic few days

But we're almost done moving. Well, at least we have two of the four rooms painted (kitchen, bathroom and stairwell still need to be done) and one of the rooms almost totally set up and decorated and unpacked (Robbie and my room, of course). It is turning out very well though!

It's been really hard to get in decent training since we've been running to and from New Brunswick to our parents houses, plus we've been carrying heavy stuff up and down a ton of stairs, painting, cleaning, et cetera. And we're nowhere near being done with everything that we have to do.

I keep meaning to take pictures, and I promise that they'll be up soon!

Also, I finally got my new frame- Cannondale SuperSix HiMod1. They couldn't replace the frame that I had, so we got it upgraded. I'm riding a bike entirely too expensive for me, given my history of crashing...
Anyway, here it is: (mine doesn't have all the new components, but you get the idea).

So Saturday is the Watermelon Crit at Rutgers and will be my new bike's debut race. I'm pretty nervous about it, since this bike and I have only been on one ride and I'm still nervous about handling such a nice bike. I'm hoping someone can go over the course with me tomorrow or Thursday so I can get a feel for how the bike handles. From what I could tell on my ride, it's pretty amazing.

I've been doing shorter but significantly more intense workouts this week. For example:
1. a 6 mile run (including some hills) in 45 min- 11 minutes off of my old best time
2. a couple short speedwork sessions on the treadmill
3. 45 minute extended weight sets with heavier weights and more legwork
4. Serious hill ride on the new bike, including a crazy downhill so I could get used to riding it
5. Intense 60 minute swim, focusing on taking a breath every 4 strokes instead of 2

I've been doing other stuff too, but those are the noteworthy workouts from the last few days. I wish I had more free time, but with less training, I've been doing better work in the 2-3 hours and making more progress than I was when I was training 4-5 hrs.

My nutrition is still suffering from the lack of groceries in New Brunswick and the tons of yummy junk food at Robbie's parents house. So hopefully now that we're moved in and starting to have a normal schedule it will be easier.

In the meantime, serious focus for 6/13 and Harriman sprint tri. I'm really excited about it and I think it's gonna go great. This weekend, on the other hand, is up in the air...