Posts Tagged ‘triathlon’

Run Key West

As I alluded weeks ago, I went back down to Key West with the rest of Team Amazing Day to defend our title as lady olympic relay champs. Since I’m almost a month late to the party, I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by telling you that we did exactly that!

And the ever-impressive Amy even managed to take second in her age group, an arguably bigger feat, given how many people she had to beat.

For our part, we relayers only had to best 4 other teams–2 of which were the dreaded Team Drink and Tri…who actually turned out to be really nice once we talked to them.

But you want to hear about the run? Well, there’s a lot less to talk about there. While Beth went upstairs to shower, I waited in transition for Katie to come in from the bike. The wind was whipping (as I tried to warn her!), and everyone’s cyclist was posting slow-for-them times. But I’m pretty sure Katie was still the first female relay cyclist back into transition, so I grabbed her chip and headed out into that same headwind she’d just been battling.

I tried to run comfortably hard, my standard race starting pace, and I tried to keep an eye out for Wes on the bike. Amy passed and called out to me, and Wes came by not long behind her, looking pretty good for someone who’d only ridden 25 miles once before in his life. (I tried to warn him about the wind too, for the record.)

As I passed the first mile marker I was devastated to see an 8:36 on my watch. My effort level felt like a 7:36! But I still had 5 more of those awful miles to get through, so I tried not to worry about it. Or to spend too much time worrying that there would be an even-worse headwind on the way back. (That’s how Key West rolls.)

Luckily, I reached the turnaround to find that the wind disappeared. I didn’t feel a tail wind though, and now I could feel just how hot the sun was. At one point I told myself to pay attention to where I was running. The water and foliage were gorgeous, and I wanted to enjoy myself. But I had no idea where the competition was!

So I just kept going and going until I finally reached the beach. Yes, the last .2 were on the sand, which was a little cruel. Katie and Beth jumped in with me and immediately started to sprint ahead. “Come on!” they yelled as the caught up with the dude in front of me. “Urrrrggllleee,” I responded without speeding up. But finally we stepped onto some carpet, and I was able to chick the hell out of that guy. (Related: all day I wanted to apologize to everyone I passed, because I had it so much easier. At one point some lady did call after me to make sure I was a relay runner.)

That's how you win a relay, bitches!

Afterward we stuck around for the awards, got a little drunkenly salty when they held the relay results until after ALL the other results and then forgot to drink beers out of our victory glasses.

This year everyone got the memo about wearing their team shirt to the awards.

Then we all went out and had a drink with Chris McCormack.

Macca really sums up the organization and execution of this race here. At least it's in paradise and we win, amiright, Chris?


I Am Steelman

Well folks, you were right. Thanks in no small part to your encouragement and the awesome support of most of my favorite training partners,  I did it! And I managed to exceed every goal I set for myself while having fun in the process. In short, Sunday was an amazing day.

I awoke Sunday morning to echos of two years ago. At 4:30, the rain was coming down hard as I worked to attach the bikes to the car rack without getting too cold or wet in the pitch-black process. But as we were driving to the race, a miracle happened: It stopped raining. As I was lifting the bikes back off the car, I made a comment to Katie (my sister) about how at least it had stopped raining, unlike two years ago.

“Oh, that was the worst race ever,” the woman in the car next to us chimed in. Lady, you don’t know the half of it.

We met up with Amy and the Tall Girl and made our way down to the transition area, where we set up and waited for the confirmation of wetsuit legality. I had my wetsuit dance all ready to go, and I was thrilled to break it and the suit out once they made the announcement. Seriously, I was probably the first person to don my suit. There’s nothing like a good wetsuit strut to get you in the mood to race.

Anyway, I digress.

The race started with a swim warm up, which I decided to take advantage of for the first time ever. After the DC Tri, where I jumped in and immediately started swimming then spent the first 200 meters hyperventilating, I realized that letting my body acclimate to the water was a good idea. Usually I just stand there and let myself get more and more worked up and scared before starting the race, a practice that has probably caused some adverse physiological reactions that only added to the miserableness of swimming. So I got in, I put my face in, I swam around, and all was good.

I climbed back out, talked to Lauren and Amy for a while, then Katie and I made our way down to our wave. We were in the second wave, along with every other man and woman under 30 and the Athenas and Clydesdales. Holy superwave, Batman! We moved into the water and out to the first buoy, and then we were off. I settled right in, breathing on both sides almost right away. It was a bit crowded, but I passed the few people who were slower than me and settled right in next to the buoys. I think I’ve mentioned before that the benefit of swimming the way I do is that it’s empty enough that I can take a pretty direct line to the buoys, and I did that on Sunday. At one point I was so close to a turn buoy that I punched it twice. I’m not sure that’s textbook, but it made me laugh.

As I swam along, it felt like I was taking forever. I told myself I’d finish in about 40 minutes and that was ok. I fought the urge to look at my watch, and instead I thought mostly of Dash and how she’d be so proud of me for finishing. Which is true, but kind of a weird thing to think of. I also thought about my dad, and how glad he would be to see me come out of the water instead of dropped off a boat. But this is the first time that I didn’t swear off triathlon completely while swimming, and I attribute that to the fact that I felt confident in my (slow) swimming ability for the first time ever, after two long years of work.

I finally did come out of the water, and was pleasantly surprised to look down at my watch and see 34:11! And did I mention that I’ve figured out that my swim headaches come from shoulder and neck tension? So I didn’t even have to deal with crushing dizzy spells or anything. I came out of the water and started running!

Back in transition I struggled with my wetsuit a bit, but I pulled it off and headed out just as Katie came in to grab her bike. My goal for the bike was to lay it all out there. In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t do many brick workouts. My theory is that if I’m strong enough, in each individual discipline, I’ll be just fine. And it seems to be working for my current fitness/ability level. Maybe someday I’ll get serious and train properly. But anyway, my goal was to just leave it out on the bike course in the spirit of that tired old triathlon mantra, “It IS all about the bike.”

And lay it out there I did. The DC Tri has a much bigger field, so I’m used to coming out of the swim and picking off people like crazy. I was a little thrown to not see anyone from my age group on the bike. Then I thought I might be kind of close to the front anyway, so I just went after it. On a fairly hilly course, I managed to average 18.9 mph for 26.9 miles. I was stoked. I came back into transition after tracking down one of my competitors, waved to my dad, and racked my bike. My goal was to keep T2 down to a minute: I ran out and tapped my watch at 1:05. Success!

I started running and immediately began passing folks. My goal was 50 minutes, which was kind of a reach. I haven’t run 6 miles all in a row in two months. Hee. So I got out there and desperately wanted to walk, but I started bargaining with myself. Self, I said, you have a shot at a podium spot if you run fast enough, but ONLY if you run under 50 minutes. And let’s be honest, you probably feel so miserable because you’re running so fast!

I hit the first mile in 7:50 and suddenly believed the angel on my shoulder. On the way out, I had passed Beth and the Tall Girl, and I was looking forward to seeing Amy and my sister on our two-loop course. The run kept getting harder, but I just kept passing people left and right. I caught up with and passed two girls in my AG, at which point I realized I probably wouldn’t podium (curse you, swimming!) but I planned to get as close as humanly possible.

It had warmed up, and I started dumping water on my head. I also realized that I should have eaten some more food on the run, because I felt like I was bonking. I started sipping Gatorade to get me through it. At long last, I saw mile 6 and then the turn to the gravel path to the finish. Two men ahead of me were racing each other pretty hard, and I just watched them go and wondered how in the world they had so much left. I was absolutely spent.

I crossed the finish line with a 49:40(!!!) for the run, 2:53:21 total and finally got the coveted Steelman finisher towel that had been denied to me two years ago. I hobbled over to Katie, Beth, and the Tall Girl to wait for Amy and my Katie to finish. There I slowly regained my strength and posed for the greatest picture of me ever taken.

In the car on the way back to DC, I told Wes that this was one of my most proud races ever. While my mangled syntax illustrates just how tired I was, the sentiment is valid. I was out and out terrified of swimming when I started. I worried that I would never be able to do an Olympic distance triathlon. I questioned why I continued to swim when it only resulted in frustration and anxiety. A lot of people gave me permission to quit–permission that was sought and much appreciated–but I insisted that swimming was character building. And after Sunday I’m convinced I was right. I spent a lot of my life doing only what came easily to me, but the reward is so much sweeter when you put in some effort, when you finally do what you thought you never could.

Thanks, guys.

On Seeking Revenge

In my racing life, I’ve had few truly terrible experiences. I would say one is the time I played a rugby game in PA, ate nothing all day except for 5 Balance Bars, then came home and tried to run the first-ever 9/11 Memorial 5k. The result? A super-hot race in which I spent much of the time trying not to puke while my rugby captain ran alongside me and never let on how much she was probably judging me and my terrible fitness (32 minutes for a 5k is fine if you’re not trying to play D-1 women’s rugby). Upon arriving home, it was all I could do to get to the bathroom before the bars finally forced themselves out the other end. Bad day.

Look at those cheeks.

The other one is, of course, my one and only DNF, which happened not long after I started my blog. You guys may know the story, and if you don’t, you can read it alllllll back at that link.

But this weekend, I’m going for revenge on the Steelman course. Double the revenge, in fact, because this time I’m making my debut in the Oly distance. A lot has changed in two years. Last time I showed up on my beloved commuter hybrid, walking with the aid of a cane, and planning to wear a bathing suit throughout the whole thing (hard core).

Now I have a beloved road bike, a super sweet tri kit, some triathlons under my belt,  and the CAR blog mafia on my side. I also have a wetsuit that I’m praying nonstop to be allowed to wear because, well, some things haven’t changed, and I’m going to have to fight the mind fuck that is being pulled out of this lake once before.

You want them on your side.

Can I do it? To quote the bard, I think I can.

No, I’m pretty sure I can. And I’m very much looking forward to making up for that ugly mark on my racing history.

As far as that first race, well, I’ve never been back to do another one, but I did go on to blow the marathon times of my captain out of the water, though she’s a lovely woman, and I would never say I was exacting revenge on her. But there is something deeply gratifying about running way faster than an Eagle.

What’s Next?

So after seven weeks of racing, it was really nice to sleep in on Sunday morning and do an easy 6 miles by myself. I’m still living high off my triathlon last week and vicariously through Katie’s exciting half ironman this weekend. Maybe these triathlons aren’t so bad after all.

With that in mind, I’ve been eying up some Olympic-distance races with the hope that I can get my swim headaches under control before then. Today I’m planning on doing some longish swimming with earplugs to see how that works.

But the pics from Peasantman suggest something else that should maybe be worrying me. It looks like my bizarre swim-shimmy has moved over to my running as well. What can I say? My hips don’t lie. Also nice hair. (Also also, that’s gun time on the clock!)

Today, We Are All Peasants

Someone give Lindsay a prize. She correctly guess that I did a triathlon this weekend! (Judges’ note: We would not have accepted turned 29, as that did not happen until today. Editor’s note: I am not above sneakily telling you all that today is my birthday. And that apparently I met Amy on my birthday last year.)

I did the PeasantMan triathlon, which bills itself as a training event to benefit the High Cloud Foundation, but it’s really just a super cheap triathlon that is run and provided for extremely well by volunteers and donations. This was a small tri, but it was a full sprint distance and everything went perfectly smoothly, except for that part when I went off the bike course.

But otherwise it was a beautiful day. The sky was a bit overcast, but it was that magical temperature that allows you to bike comfortably all wet in a sleeveless tri suit and still be cool on the run. It was also the first time I have ever enjoyed a triathlon. I think the secret was the fact that I was running really fast at the end. I passed several dudes and finished with with a 24:06 for the (estimated) 5k run, and I felt like I had a lot more left. (I also realized as I was running that I was doing yet another 5k.)

On top of that I only took 15 minutes to swim 750 meters, which is an insanely fast time for me and did a lot to quell the anxiety and distress I was feeling about swimming before now. I still get headaches when I swim, but now maybe I’ll work on fixing them instead of swearing off tris forever.

At the end of the race I told Wes that I’d had fun. “Oh God,” he replied. “Now how many triathlons are you going to do? Because you’ve always hated them before now, but you kept on doing them.”

Wes took some sweet video, but I have to figure out how to upload it to here. Stay tuned!

Happy New Year

So it looks like I’m ending 2010 as I started it–injured. I’m getting an MRI done tonight because my orthopedist thinks that nagging pain in my right leg is an ischial tuberosity stress fracture. Nice. I guess that would explain how utterly f-ed up my leg was after the marathon and why a few weeks of rest didn’t help. He told me it takes THREE MONTHS to heal from one of those, but the marathon was two months ago, and while I wasn’t completely resting, I think I’m on my way. Mostly I’ll be relieved to finally know that something is wrong, that I haven’t just been feeling stupidly sore for nothing.

I’ll keep you posted on the injury status, but for now, here’s my year in pictures, an idea I ripped off from my bloggy twin, the other Liz.

Started the year in California! Ran part of the Carlsbad Half Marathon, because I was just getting over a strained calf.

In February, we got a ridiculous amount of snow. I went out to return a library book and win some socks from Pacers.

And I hit the bloggy big time by proclaiming my love for this ad.

(My new goal is to be healthy and ready to run this again this year!)


In March we had a lovely CAR dinner the night before the worst race of my life. (Not connected.)

In April I did some hiking (and packed on some pounds).

And I found the other love of my life (after Wes and running).

Oh, and don't forget the relay. April was a busy month.

In May I turned another year older, learned how to open water swim, and got serious about training again.

In June I met Mason Jennings! (That's not me in the picture.)

And I did my first triathlon. Without drowning!

In July I started taking ice baths. Brrrrrrrrrrr. I topped out at 40 pounds per bath.

In August I went to Oregon! Here are some pics I never posted...

wine tasting

Portland is the city of bridges.

In Seattle, I spied Kara Goucher across the street from my hotel!

Apparently I did nothing in September, but in October I went on some gorgeous runs in southern Virginia and North Carolina.

And I barely finished a marathon...possibly with a broken hip!

In November, I went to watch the NYC marathon and ran some of the course...but I don't have any pictures of that. In December, I came to terms with my new sport 😉

Happy New Year!

Bike Key West

So, as most of you already know, I spent the last weekend in Key West to participate in the first-ever Key West Triathlon. Amy, Katie, and I entered the Olympic relay as Team Run This Amazing Day, and we totally dominated…the other two teams in the division. (Beth dominated considerably more people to come in second in her age group in her first-ever tri!)

If you’ve read Amy, Katie, or Beth’s blog already, you know most of the story. After some mighty-fine finagling, Beth scored a gorgeous bike for me to race on.

She looks like Carmela Sherbert!

After Katie’s rock-star-like swim, in which she tamed the murky waters and seaweed of the Gulf of Mexico, I took off on my bike. I started about two minutes after our competition. They were apparently all friends, because they seemed determined to stick together. At first I was nervous, because they both had really nice bikes with aerobars. I was afraid I’d underestimated them, and that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my projected 1:40 time for 25 miles. But as the women walked their bikes down to the mount line, I noticed that they didn’t seem that comfortable walking them. And that one of them had a water bottle tucked into her jersey.

Then I saw Katie coming, and I readied myself to begin the chase. Katie came up and handed off the timing chip–she was nice enough to put it on my ankle, because I was stupidly holding the bike and had taken my own, fresh hands out of commission. Thanks, Katie! Anyway, I ran down from the parking-garage transition area and mounted up and took off.

Nice belly.

I frantically tried to start my Garmin as I took off and realized I was still in run mode. Oh well. My first mile was about 3:31, but then I dipped down below 3 for the next 2 or 3. I had no idea I was riding a false-flat downhill. So young, so naive.

Anyway, 25 miles ranks up there as one of the longest rides I’ve ever done. I think I’ve only ridden longer than that 2 or 3 other times. In other words, it was hard. The unfamiliar saddle started to chafe my poor little bottom, and the wind was just non-stop and in my face the entire time. At one point I made a U-turn, relieved to be finally out of the headwind only to find that the headwind was worse going the opposite way. That’s only possible in the Keys, people. And on the Mount Vernon trail.

Anyway, I passed the competition at the first turnaround point. After that the course got a little confusing. There was a secret loop that we Olympic-distancers had to complete. It was pretty out of the way and quiet, and no one would ever know if you, say, didn’t actually do it. But I did it and headed back up to the turn-around point again, excited to see how much time I had put on the other relay riders. But the next time I saw them, there was only one. I figured she had just dropped the less-experienced cyclist. But then, a mile or so later, I saw the woman with the water bottle stopped on the side of the road, facing my way. There’s absolutely no way I lapped her. I can only assume that she was waiting for her friend, after presumably, leaving off a good 6 miles from her ride. Because about 10 minutes after I got to the transition, they came in together.

So, yes, I’m accusing the one of the three teams that participated in a race that was giving away prizes for first, second, and third place of cheating. We decided not to say anything, because I couldn’t figure out how to say, “I know we won by 15 minutes, but that lady who has never done a race before (we checked) cheated” without sounding like a sore winner. It was a bit infuriating to hear the six women argue that they had tied for second place, but again, there’s nothing we could say. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt, say that the woman who cheated had been talked into doing something she wasn’t prepared for by her more athletic friends and that once they saw I was so far ahead of them, they knew it really didn’t matter. Surely they wouldn’t have taken first and second in that manner, right? But at the same time, 25 miles was hard on me! I wasn’t properly trained, and I even tweaked my good hamstring! If you’re going to sign up for a race, then f-ing do the race, Team Drink and Tri!

Anyway, rant over. We finished.

We won.

Here's an exclusive photo, just for Chasing Consciousness 😉

And then we drank some margaritas that nearly killed me. Ok, I drank one margarita. Mine tried to save me from myself by spontaneously breaking, but the guys at the restaurant brought me another, so I finished a lot of that one, and then regaled everyone with tales about exactly how sore my crotch was (very).

With that mental picture, I’ll sign off now. Oh, wait, for the record, it only took me 1:20:57 to do 25 miles. Luckily Katie told Amy to expect me sooner than my projected 1:40.