Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer... Vacation?

I know, I know... I have a huge backlog of race reports, life updates and whatnot that have gone woefully to the wayside. However, I have a semi-legitimate excuse for this lack of post-age...

It's called Ironman training. And it's really getting to me! Honestly, I've started counting the days until IMKY (29) and while I feel like I should be nervous, I feel... ready. Like I just want to get out there and get it done. I've been training for it seriously since January, and as the hours per week get higher and higher, the more I want to just be done with it. I'm ready for it to be Fall. I have to say, I love training. I love racing more than anything. But I don't love that my whole summer has seemingly dissolved into training and worrying about apartment stuff. One or the other would be fine, but this two-headaches-for-the-price-of-one business is a bit absurd.

The training wouldn't be bad but my two high volume weeks happen to be corresponding to the weeks that Monday-Wednesday I've been/will be living in White Plains nannying. Add to that the full day I work on Friday, and it's a little tough to meet the 28+ hour/week training schedule. In fact, nearly impossible, especially since on Thursday I had to lend my earlobes to a friend who's made his own line of amazing Lego earrings ( sooo cute!) Sure, I didn't get paid for that modeling "gig", but I got a great pair of earrings out of it! Beyond training, I've seen Robbie once this whole week- quite a drop from the every day I was seeing him when we lived together. We have another month before we move into our new place, and the appalling lack of furniture that we have at the moment is making me a wee bit insane. Move in is 2 days after IM, and the same day that classes start. September is going to be a busy month!

I am making fun post-IM plans though. Pre-CX season, I have every intention of "treating myself" to a septum piercing (maybe. not 100% sure.) and letting my cosmetology-obsessed sister potentially bleach out part of my hair. Also, plans for finishing the tattoo on my back are in the works for this winter, thanks to Robbie's friend Tiffany. Add to that the excitement of getting to go to school full-time for a semester, potentially audit a class in exercise science, and get some real work done on my writing, I'm pretty stoked. I'm also insanely psyched about CX season, of course. And lastly, I'm attempting to find a place to do some volunteering a couple hours a week, and I think I may have found a place. So, fingers crossed!

But before all of that, I have to get through Ironman, and Robbie and I need to get through August and moving in September. It's do-able, I know. But it seems weird to be excited more for school starting than for Summer vacation to be happening. I'm not very good with waiting... Even my family vacation to Virginia Beach will be a little less fun, since Robbie won't be going because of work and my IM plans and travel arrangements, and I'll only have 5 days of vacation before we head to Kentucky to race. So it'll be a nervous few days on the beach, but as Dad and his hero, Jimmy Buffet, would agree, a bad day on vacation beats the best day at work.

In other news, I know I promised race reports. So without further ado, the Cliff Notes versions:

Sprintin' Clinton 5k:
Time: 19:37 (PR by 30 sec)
This is a 5k race that's super well known throughout NJ. It has between 300 and 400 participants every year, and it's really a serious race for high school/collegiate runners. It's got a couple of longish not too steep hills, and it's a challenging course, made more challenging by the fact that it happens at 6PM, so you've had all day to eat and worry. The worrying for me is brought on by a day's worth of eating, of course.
I got there pretty nervous about my stomach, since I couldn't exactly have raced on just one bagel all day, considering I had already done a 2 hour ride and an hour long run. I had no idea what to expect, but last year I was 4th female, and this year I really really wanted to be in the top 3.
My cousin was racing too, though more casually. She's a fitness runner, not a crazy person like me. And that's according to her!
We were at the starting line together but I was shifting towards the front line and she was trying to slip more into the back. The gun went off, and I knew that if I was going to top3, I had to go out hard and maintain, not start out and overtake. I'm not so good with doing that. So, I went hard, and for the first half mile or so, I was the first female. There was a woman behind me who had kicked my a$$ in a 5k in Princeton the month before and she got in front of me, then I passed her, et cetera. Sometime right before mile 1, 2 girls blasted past us, looking super casual about it. I was already pushing hard and I wasn't about to kill myself by mile 1.5. We hit mile 1 in 6:01, and I was feeling good. I kept the two girls in sight, but I knew they were actual runners, so I wasn't expecting to beat them. By the last half mile or so, I finally dropped the woman who I had been duking it out with, and was really starting to push for the finish. I knew I was going to be super close to 20 min and if I wanted sub-20 I had to work hard. Came into the finishing straight, heard dad screaming his head off and saw the clock at 19:05, and just pounded the pavement as fast as I could. I crossed in 19:37, my best time by almost 30 seconds on a much hillier course than my previous PR. I ended up 3rd, but it turns out that the 2 winners are 2 of the top collegiate runners in the state, so I don't feel too bad, coming 30 seconds behind them.
Finally got to check off my goal of running a sub20 5k, which felt awesome. For about two seconds. Stupid Type A personality (and a little needling from my dad), now I'm thinking about how soon I can break 19. Maybe next summer. Or this CX season...
The trophy, by the way, is enormous. Seriously, it's ridiculous. And I love it.

And just one week later, it was time for the
Nautica NYC Triathlon:
Time: 2:24 (PR by 5 min)
Let me again state for the record that this race was insanely exciting for me for a few reasons. First of all, it's my first NYC triathlon. Second, it's the only Olympic distance I got to do this year. Third, it was my first race ever as an elite (amateur). That part was cool and all, until I realized that it involved a dive start. Not bad if I had known earlier, but I hadn't had time to practice diving with my goggles. I can dive, for the record, but I also have weird shaped eye sockets or something, because I've never found a pair of goggles that fits just right. And I doubt they would have stayed on if I had done a good dive.
But beyond that...
It was a tough race because of the insanely early start, but of course, I knew I could be done by 8:30 am if I played my cards right. Then again, waking up at 2 am to get there on time was no picnic. Still, Dad and I made it to the city with plenty of time to check on transition, walk the 1.5 miles to the water and get into my wetsuit (just me, not Dad. Dad in my size small women's suit is a scary thought.) Even not being rushed, it came time to get into my corral way too soon, and before I knew it we were walking to the pier for our dive start. I wasn't too nervous, like I would have been a year ago, but still!!
The dive start was... well, if you combine a dive and a bellyflop, you pretty much have what I did. But it worked, since my goggles stayed on! Not that it mattered, since the Hudson is so gross you can't see anything anyway. Because of my crap dive, it was tough to stay with the lead pack. Also, I sight on the right, the shore was on the left, and the buoys were impossible to see. So, I had to stay on pace with a woman who sighted to her left who was swimming at roughly my pace. I think had I been able to make the dive/sight easier, I would have passed her and gone faster but as it was, it was easier to stay with her. The current was awesome, but the water was briny and honestly, pretty vile. I was happy to get out of it, but less happy about how the volunteers yanked us out and onto the pier. I would have liked some warning that there weren't steps we could walk up ourselves, coming out of the water to people yelling is a bit disorienting. Then, a HALF MILE barefoot run to transition. Holy crap.
I got on the bike super fast and was drinking away trying to wash Hudson out of my mouth. I've never used strawberry Heed, but that's what I had at home, and HOLY CRAP I will never use it again. Sooooo bad and fake sweetened. Ugh. But I choked it down.
There was a big hill out of the transition area, but compared to some of the bike races I've done, it was nothing. I could see people having trouble though, since at the top it was pretty rough pavement. Thank you cyclocross!! After that, the biking went well. I got passed by one elite woman and passed a couple myself. There was a 40 year old dude on a Giant and he and I kept passing each other, which was sort of nice. Less nice was the literal PELETON of 40-44 men who blew past us. Seriously?! They were even shouting to each other about taking pulls. W.T.F. Hi, this is a triathlon? As in, no drafting? I can only imagine how infuriated dudes in their age group were when those idiots passed them. I hope a ref saw them, but at that point, there were pros on course and I'm pretty sure the refs were paying more attention to them than the age groupers. Annoying.
The bike went well, I think I might have been able to push it more, I was feeling fine afterward, but without training for this distance, I had no idea how I would be feeling and didn't want to waste my legs pre-run. Looking back, kinda wish that I had. I had a good bike time compared to most of the women though, so I was happy about that.
Then, the run. I had NO CLUE how this would go, since I never run this distance, except as a short "easy" run. I wanted to run 7:00 miles, and on a flat course I might have, but on this course- whoa. Who knew Central Park had so many hills? Getting out of transition, I could hear dad yelling, and running towards the Park was awesome- the streets were lined with people and in my sick KILLA bikini, I was getting a lot of "you go girl" yells. I was also one of the first women they had seen all day and one of the first 150 people overall, so they were still fresh and psyched to cheer for everyone. It made me feel so good!
In the park, runners who were just out on a daily run were cheering for us, and I passed a few of the 40-44 men. I felt good, and I spotted the one woman who creamed me on the bike ahead of me. So, I dug in and chased her down. After I passed her, I heard "I knew I'd see you again." It was the dude with the Giant bike, and he was British! Haha it made running so much easier, trying to keep up with his crazy long strides. We were really egging each other on, taking turns out in front and stuff. I drank at every station, and felt good. We were almost done... I thought.
I HATE this during races- when people tell you the finish is just up ahead, and you believe them. NEVER believe them. I made a turn thinking it was maybe 200 yards to the finish... try maybe 600. Bad time to start sprinting. I was totally beat by the time I hit the finish line but I just kept pushing and pushing, trying to keep sprinting. There were tons of people cheering, and it was just nuts.
I hit the finish line, felt like my stomach was going to explode right after my lungs, and frantically was looking for Dad, who I had heard when I crossed the line but couldn't see anywhere. here's my beef with Nautica. I appreciate their security, but when I walked out of the fenced in athlete area, I was stumbling and completely incoherent, and no one told me you couldn't get back in. Furthermore, I had no idea that there was a spectator meeting area- maybe that should have been in the race packet. Either way, I walked out of there because I saw dad but he couldn't hear me. When I tried to get back in to get a bottle of water and a bagel, I couldn't get back in. It sucks to pay that much to race and get no water or food post-race. I know it's for security reasons, but even if I couldn't get back in, please hand me a bagel and water? Come on now.
My other issue is that while I was done at 8:30, transition wasn't open until 11. I was supposed to be at the track at noon for a track omnium I was racing in, and that meant we would have to book it.
I must have looked like such a jackass waiting for transition to open- when it did, I swear I made a run for it like I was starting a 100meter sprint or something. I have never packed my crap up that fast. I was the first one out of transition (hah!) and we got to the track with 1 minute to spare.
Unfortunately, sitting in 110 heat after eating a powerbar and half a pretzel, drinking 2 water bottles, and racing a triathlon, is not a good idea. I was not feeling great. In fact, I felt like total crap. It didn't help that my new track bike had a)never been ridden and b)had a 15 cog on the back instead of a 14, making it a spin-crazy kind of bike. I don't spin. Ask anyone. I will grind away in the big ring until the cows come home, but I don't like to spin.
So, after one of 5 races (I was asleep/passed out for the second), dad and I decided to just go home. He wasn't doing much better than I was, and I was starting to see spots. I figured being the 28th female overall in the triathlon (in a field of 2000+) was good enough for one day.

So there you have it- race reports in a nutshell. I need to buy pictures from Nautica from Brightroom, since there are a couple of great ones.

Side note, I am soooo proud of my teammate and friend David for finishing his first triathlon last weekend, the NJ State Olympic tri. I wish I had signed up for it so I could have raced with him, but I think we'll do Skylands together in September. I'm so glad I'm not the only triathlete on the team anymore!!

One last note- you may notice on the righthand side of the page, I added a new Widget linking to my page- I'm a bookworm at heart, and I'm loving a site that lets me list and talk about books. So if you have one, friend me!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My 200th Post!

I have a couple race reports I'm doing posts on, but first, some regular catching up:

The good news: Robbie and I got our old place rented out, got back out security deposit in full and with interest, and have applied to an apartment building we really like. Hopefully we'll find out today if we get the place or not, so fingers crossed! It's been a long month and we still won't really have a place to live until September (assuming we get the apartment) but since we'll be on vacation at the end of August, living with the parents a few more weeks isn't the worst thing that could happen.

Now we just have to worry about all kinds of fun stuff like sorting through all of our stuff from the old place, getting new furniture, packing up clothes again, moving in, etc... all 2 days after I do IMKY, and the same day that school starts. Woo hoo!

Speaking of school, I am super stoked to be going to school full-time again for the Fall. I missed it so much! If I could be a student forever, I definitely would. If getting an English PhD made any financial sense, I would do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, it doesn't. However, Robbie and I are tossing around the idea of going to Iowa State after he graduates and doing different MFA programs- him in Creative Writing for poetry, me for either CW fiction, or the literature Master's program they have. And bonus? They have what appears to be a really solid tri team at the school, making it way more appealing to me. So, we'll see what happens in the next 3 years or so...

Other than that, not a lot going on. It's been hectic but uninteresting, for the most part. Monday night I managed to get "door-ed" while biking over to a friend's place at night, I was ok but pretty bruised and my shoulder was killing me all of yesterday, so I couldn't swim. My neck felt off too, but with a good night's sleep, it feels much better- last night it hurt to swallow, now it's feeling pretty decent. I need to get to a chiropractor some day soon though.

I've had a couple of amazing weeks of racing, reminding me why I love this sport, but also definitely sending the message to my brain and body that I am much happier on a short course than a long one. I think this year will be my first and only Ironman, though of course, I'm not ruling anything out. 3 days ago, I did the Nautica NYC Triathlon, PR-ed with a 2:24 finish (good considering I haven't trained for this distance at all), and was the 28th female overall, out of about 2000. It was my first elite age-group race, which meant a dive start... but more on that in it's own post. Also PR-ed and got to check off my first summer goal of getting a sub-20 5k- at the Sprintin Clinton 5k two weeks ago, I finished in 19:37, 3rd female and 16th overall out of about 300. Pretty stoked.

Lastly, a list of things I've been thinking about while training, or while thinking about training.
  1. When I'm on the trainer, I ride faster when I watch episodes of The Batman Superman Adventures or the Justice League, as opposed to watching the Tour or a triathlon special.
  2. Also, Hercules and Mulan, the Disney movies. Why? 2 words: training montages.
  3. Sometimes when I run alone in the park near my house, I assume that there are zombies chasing me. This makes me go faster.
  4. Same is true for any open water swimming that I do.
  5. Speaking of swimming, I am steadily liking it less and less these days. Maybe it's because getting to the pool is a pain in the butt since Robbie and I don't have a place in New Brunswick at the moment. Or maybe it's the really long swims that are scheduled. Or maybe I just hate swimming inside when it's so nice out. Regardless, down with swimming!
  6. I did make a new friend while aqua-jogging though. He's racing next weekend in LP, along with a couple other people I know and love (good luck to all of you racing!) He and I have done a couple races together (unknowingly) and we keep showing up to swim and aqua-jog at the same time, so we get to chat while running. It's nice to meet another triathlete!
At any rate, race reports coming momentarily, hopefully there are still people reading this, despite my spotty performance updating and keeping up with everyone else lately!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stupid Zombies...

If you look at the timestamp on this post, it should read somewhere in the vicinity of 3 am. This is not a mistake, this is the result of a zombie nightmare. I'm such a baby for a 23 year old, but I have yet to get back to sleep from it. This normally happens on a race day, but the only race on tap for tomorrow is the Sprintin Clinton 5k, a big local 5k I did last year and came in 4th in. But that isn't until 6:30 tomorrow night, so I don't think that's much of a stresser. Part of it is probably from the fact that in the past few days, I've spent a whole lot of time in the hospital. Visiting, not being a patient. My mom was super sick the past couple weeks, and it turns out she has Lyme and a couple of other tick related diseases. Left unchecked, they got a whole lot worse, so she's stuck on IV antibiotics and feeling a lot better, just bored and sick of being there. It's been hell on my training and life in general, since I'm currently sort of homeless, but bouncing to New Brunswick to try to rent out our old place, and trying to train like normal. That didn't quite happen, since I'm also trying to spend a lot of time at the hospital keeping mom company. So, it's been hectic. But then again, what else is new? I have learned just how hard mom works to keep her house relatively clean- I can handle a small apartment, but man, keeping a house decent is hard work! We didn't realize she had left a trashbag outside, and this was the result:
Look in the way backyard. Yep, that is an enormous black bear, dragging a garbage bag. It then tore it open, laid down, and chilled in the backyard and had a snack. Gotta love rural NJ!

Anyway, pre-hospital, it was a good week. After Dad and my traditional bike ride to the parade (he's been doing it for 30 years, I've been doing it for 3), my sister and I went to the beach on Monday. She took some great pictures of me, I was super stoked about them:

Other than that, it's been a busy and harried week. Next week is Nautica NYC Triathlon at 6am, followed by a track omnium at Kissena at noon. I'm stoked to do two races in one day! Should be interesting to do my first short(er) course race of the year. No clue how it'll go, since I'm totally untrained for a race of that length, but here's hoping! I don't know how well the beginning will go- pros and elite amateurs get a dive start, and I've never done one before. It's scary, since we'll be the first waves out and if I get separated from the pack I'll be in sort of no man's land. I hate that.

But, I'm borrowing trouble. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to prowl the house looking for zombies and potentially snacks. Hopefully I can get back to sleep, otherwise my poor dad and sister might be confused as to why they hear the trainer going at 4am...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Havin' a Heat Wave...

If you live in the MidAtlantic, you know what it's been like here the past few days. Hot, hotter and hottest- I did a run in 108 degrees yesterday. This does not make for the most comfortable climate for training or for moving, and I've been busy with both.

We finally got all of our stuff moved out of the apartment, thank goodness. However, I'm beginning to feel like a real estate agent, since Robbie and I are trying to get the place rented- the sooner it goes, the sooner we don't have to pay rent on a place we aren't living in. We'll be free Sept. 1 regardless, but we're hoping to get it rented for August. So, keep your fingers crossed for us! We're showing it a lot this week, hoping someone is interested.

4th of July weekend was just a long training weekend- 6 hour tough ride Saturday followed by an hour long hill run, followed thankfully by an ice bath. Sunday was a bit harder, my stomach was not interested in working properly, so running was tough, and the heat made everything worse. On the bright side, my dad and I completed another year of our tradition- riding our bikes to the parade in Lebanon, about 15 miles of hills away. Dad's been doing the ride on July 4 for over 30 years, and I've been with him on it for the past 3. It's pretty neat, having something like that every year.

Monday, my sister, her best friend and I went to the beach. It was boiling out! Still, I got this picture of me, which I'm kind of fond of:
I need a haircut. Hopefully this week...

Anyway, I have some big plans in the works, writing, life and training-wise. In the immediate future, I'm finally racing at the track again tonight- after 4 weeks of not being able to go- and next weekend is the NYC Nautica Olympic Triathlon, my first elite-amateur event. I'm super psyched, and it's even better because right after the triathlon, I'm driving to Queens to Kissena for a track omnium! The tri starts at 5:56 (or my wave does anyway), so I should have plenty of time to get to Queens by noon, though I may not be racing too fast.

Right now, training (and blogging) are hard because we aren't living in any one place, we're drifting between Robbie and my parents' houses, with the occasional layover in New Brunswick crashing on a couch. That means a lot of time without a computer, and a whole lot of training issues, the main one being not having easy pool access at the moment. The other is that I don't like riding or running at Robbie's- the area is nice but it's just not my favorite for a good ride or run. So it's a struggle, and it will be for a while, I'm sure. Heck, we may end up commuting next year, which sucks but would save money. It sucks being a big kid sometimes...

Anyway, back to work!