Friday, October 30, 2009

SOMA Race Report

I've been in full off-season mode since the second I hit the finish line at SOMA Half this past Sunday, which includes procrastinating on writing my race report, but now the time has come to get back into real life. In the spirit of getting back to reality I hit up the pool for an easy swim this am. Coach said to do what-ever I wanted the next two weeks. No plan, but if I want to run/bike/swim just do it easy. So when she showed up to the pool 5 minutes after me, all she could do was laugh and say "We're both the same...Type A!" Turns out her coach wanted her to take off 2 weeks too, and she made it 4 days. Did I mention my coach placed 2nd at Xterra World Championships in Maui this weekend. I'm so inspired by her! But I digress....

When I signed up for this race back in the summer, I realized it was the same day as my mom's birthday, so I hatched a plan to get my parents to go over with me to Arizona. Just promise my mom a night in a hotel and a fancy dinner out, and she is game. They were actually really excited to watch me race and be my sherpa's for the weekend.

We ended up flying over due to work commitments, and my bike took a ride over from Rick. I was really nervous to have my bike out of my possession for those two days. Speed racer is my baby!

I was able to grab the bike from Rick and get all checked in on Saturday early afternoon. Then it was off to the hotel for a little work-out; 15mins on the treadmill and a few laps in the hotel pool- which was more than interesting. All the guests around the pool seemed fascinated by me swimming back an forth- I think it was about six strokes each way!

Then it was time for the spa. After relaxing some more, the family decided I needed a pasta dinner, so we hit up Marcella's in Scottsdale.

Carbo Loading?

Up early on Sunday and tried to QUIETLY make my race breakfast. 1/2 PB&J, a banana, some chocolate soymilk and a cup of coffee is what I'm liking these days. Then down to the race site.

Despite getting down early, I felt like I had way too little time to do all I needed. Did get in a little warm-up run, but couldn't take the bike out and no pre-swimming allowed. Bummer as I now swear by my pre-race swim warm-up.

As soon as I got on the stairs to enter the water I realized just how disgusting the water is in Tempe Town Lake. Green and very murky. I just prayed I would not swallow too much water and give myself some strange disease.

For some reason I was not nervous at all. I was ready to race. I only had one goal in mind for this race and that was to "WIN!" No, that does not mean to be on the podium or to place in the top of my age group. It meant to do my best and keep a positive attitude no matter how the race played out.

I lined up one row back from the front hoping that would give me a chance to get off well without getting swum over by the fast girls. And we were off!

Had a good swim for me. A little slower than I would have liked, but everyone (except Rachel who had the fastest female swim time, and beat all but 5 guys!) had a slowish swim. I blame the person who felt the need to grab my right foot at least 100 times and all the guys in the wave ahead of me who I had to zig-zag around! But really I felt great, which is all I asked of myself. No panicking... breathing every 4-6 strokes... good sighting... straight line... caught a few drafts. I'll take it as a victory.

I was really excited about the fact that they had wetsuit strippers at this race. I was expecting a super speedy transition, but... So the lady who initially tried to get my wetsuit off couldn't do it, so she called for back-up. Then I had two ladies tugging on the wetsuit to get it over my calfs. It took way too long and I could have had it off much faster, but I'm still thankful to the volunteers who got up early on a Sunday to peel wetsuits laden with gross water off a bunch of crazy people. I did manage to yell "Thank you" as I ran off towards my bike.

Hopped on the bike and sped out of transition. It was the first time I had ever race a flat course, so I was excited to see how fast I could go. Was also the first time I had raced a multiple lap course, so I wasn't sure how that would play with my mind.

Spent the first few minutes settling in to a good pace and heart rate. 56miles is still a long way, so I was trying not to push it too hard at the beginning. I really had to work hard to keep from drafting as the course was packed and narrow. I kept it clean for the most part. The entire ride went pretty much like this: Settle into a good rhythm... Oh no, I'm kind of drafting off that guy/girl in front of me... OK I guess I'll have to pass him/her... Oh no, now I fell like a jerk because I'm not sure if I can sustain this pace with out the draft.... Oh well, that's the person behind's problem now. Sometimes they would pass back, sometimes they would fall off. All in all I did an excellent job of keeping up my membership in

To keep the bike interesting I played a little game with my parents. They did not tell me where they were going to watch the race from as there were a ton of great spectating spots. I had to find them. Lap one was a bit too early for them to be out as my mom stated she was not getting up "at the crack of dawn" on her birthday. Lap two I was determined to find them. Not in the transition area, not on the bridges, not on the far side of the lake, and just as I was coming in for the final lap, there they were at the Hot Corner. "Happy Birthday" I yelled out.

I can honestly say that all of my hard work training on the bike this year really paid off. I felt awesome on the bike. My heart rate stayed right where I wanted, my legs felt fresh from start to end and I had a pretty fast time. The weather was perfect. The best part was that I was smiling and even laughing almost the entire time.
The course flew by and before I knew it I was headed back into transition. I was so surprised to be back so soon, that I forgot to do my little mental prep that I always do before T2. Usually I go through all the steps I need to take in T2, but I was rapidly approaching the dismount line and I had to get my feet out of the shoes.

Bike on rack... Bike stuff off... Run stuff on... Gels and Salt up shorts. Away I go!

I was ready for this run. I'd been doing a ton of bricking this season and my running was going great. As soon as I got off the bike all I knew was I had to pee. OK, I could deal with that. It's a good sign that I'm hydrated. Just look for the nearest port-a-potty. So some people didn't look for a port-a-potty and were penalized for "Indecent exposure!"

There it was, just up a short hill. As I charged up the hill all of a sudden I was over come with sharp cramps in both my quads. Crap! I have not cramped in a race for two years. Why now? What could I do to make them go away? Figured I should start taking more salt tabs and maybe sitting to pee would help.

Back on the course my quads continued to be cramped up. Think sharp knives into the quads with each step. Tried my best to keep up the pace, but could barely extend my legs. The pain was extreme. I was reduced to running for as long as possible and then stopping to stretch. NOT the way I wanted this run to go. I was frustrated to say the least. Tried to keep a positive attitude and keep moving forward.

Later rather than sooner I found my way to the finish line. I had left everything I had in me out on that race course and was exhausted! All I wanted to do was lay down.

In the end I have mixed emotions about this race. It was the last race of my season, and I wanted to make it my best. The leg cramps seriously de-railed that plan. I have spent a bunch of time going over what I could have done to prevent the cramps and have ideas of what I need to do next season to prevent it from happening again. On the positive side I had a great swim and a fabulous bike. More important than anything I gave it my all and had a really fun time. I'll be back next season. Now it's time for some off season resting!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October Already?

Sometime a few weeks ago, I realized summer was officially over and fall had begun. I tried to hold it off as long as possible, but now I have resigned to the fact that the weather has definitely changed and the holiday's are rapidly approaching. I must admit, I love the feeling of the air in fall! Makes me miss living on the East Coast, but I get over that real fast when I remember the cold and snow.

Things have been crazy busy lately (note the lack of posts), but I have been having a ton of fun. Some of the highlights of the past month have been...

San Diego Triathlon Classic
The inaugural San Diego Triathlon Classic hosted by Moment Cycle Sport was last weekend. People kept asking me if I was doing it, and I had to tell them it was not on my race schedule. Honestly I was scared to race again after my pathetic attitude towards Santa Barbara. I thought for sure I only had one more race left in me and I would have to save that for SOMA. Well, about a week out from SD Tri my coach gets the great idea that both should do the tri since it is local and would make for a great training race. When I found out that a ton of my friends including Jen, Murray, Kris, Jay and Paul were doing it, not to mention all those volunteering, I was in. Had not seen some of my friends in way too long!

This race was just like a huge club race to me, which I think helped a ton mentally. I did not taper, gave my "race plan" no thought and threw my stuff together in a frenzy the night before. My race strategy was to have as much fun as possible while seeing how hard I could push my body now.

The swim was interesting from the time I put my feet in the water to warm up. Realized the sun would just be barely coming up as we went off, and I had tinted goggles. Duh! No idea of the swim course, except that it was an out and back. Figured I would not be in the lead anyhow, so I could just follow the people in front of me. Got off well, but still felt like I was struggling on the swim. As usual, I was praying the whole time not to drown and to be out of the water NOW!

The bike was the best part of the race. Took us up a "killer hill" through the sub base and out to Cabrillo. OK, so after hearing how hard the hill was, I was totally underwhelmed. I was riding mostly among the guys, and had a ton of fun dropping as many as possible. Too bad the singlets weren't ready yet!

The run was nice and flat. Unfortunately part was on a narrow dirt path, which made it hard to really open up the stride. Looking at my watch I got really excited when I saw the time as I approached the finish chute. Thought this would be a 10K PR by a lot... until I heard the course was 1/2 mile short!

In the end, the girls had a good day. We all (Jen, Kris, Lesley and I) all ended up on the podium!

I Like To Ride My Bicycle!
I've been getting a lot of good riding in lately. I'm not sure if I'm getting any faster, but I'm having a great time. I've been riding with some roadie type guys who sort of adopted me into their group. I'm pretty sure they just like having me around to have someone to make fun of, but laughing the entire way around the GWL is good by me! I'm looking forward to being able to spend more time riding with them in the fall, and getting back on my road bike so I can stop hearing how I'm going to skewer someone.

I've done a few Palomar ascents... some awesome and some sucked. Just a matter of what state my body and mind were in on the day. It never gets easier. And riding the coast still makes me happy, but more and more I get freaked out I am going to be hit by a car. But who can resist those ocean views?

Sure I'm Sponsored...It's Called a Job!
Work gets busier and busier as the days go by. We've had one doc leave the practice and another on maternity leave, so I have been given some extra responsibility. It's great, but leaves me exhausted by the end of the day. I've met some great patients lately and seen some really interesting things. I'm amazed day after day the strange things people come to the doctor for, and have to continuously remember to keep the laughter to myself. Just as long as no one gives me their cold or flu, I'm happy! Loading up on the vitamins before SOMA.

This Is Not The AIDS Walk Ladies
Or so my friend Tim would say when he wants Jen and I to run faster. So it wasn't exactly the AIDS Walk, but it was the AIDS 10K. Have been working a ton on my running speed lately, so I decided to enter a local 10K to see how fast I could run. Was one of the best races of my season. Cheap race entry, lots of entertainment, great post-race food and a very festive atmosphere. Ended up having a great run too!