Tuesday, April 30, 2013

5k Friday Fun

This year was my first year signing up for the Crystal City 5k Fridays...and I was painfully reintroduced to short and fast.  I did 3 of the 4 races (race 2, 3, 4 of the series) due to Cherry Blossom 10-miler being the weekend after the race #1 of the series.

Race #2 April 12, 2013

This was the first race of the series I was registered for.  I had a good group of friends also running including Adam, my brother, Meghan and Chris, and others from DC Tri and DCCRC.  I had no idea really what pace I would try to run, so I planned on running hard and beating my previous 5k time from Tri Mania - which was in fact pretty disappointing.  I got caught up saying hi to Adam and some other fasties with my brother just minutes before the start.  So...naturally I stayed at the front.  This led to not so good things - which may have been exacerbated by the Bonk Breaker bar I ate on the way to the race.  I hit the ground running and of course went out too fast as did almost everyone.  Mile one came quickly but mile 2 seemed to take forever to get to.  Between miles 1.5 and 2 I started having some severe stomach pains (this is what happens apparently when I eat peanut butter, almond butter and such before working out).  Mile 2 finally passed and all I could think to myself was just don't walk you've only got about a mile left.  I was being passed left and right and I knew my pace was falling off considerably.  I was thankful to see Chris and Meghan during an out and back as I was on my way to the finish - it made me smile a bit.  I couldn't have been more happy to be done with this painful race.  I wasn't happy with my result and I was definitely not feeling well.  Not cool Almond butter and honey bonk breaker!  This was a good race to get reacquainted with the 5k and we had an awesome bro/sis and friend's dinner post race in Crystal City.


Race #3 April, 19th, 2013

The sky and the the forecast for this evening weren't great.  Severe storms were expected along with strong wind gusts.  I caught a ride to the race start with Adam.  Since you use the same bib every race it's relatively
easy to just show up and race without having to go through any checkin process.  I purposely put myself
back a bit in the starting field to try and control my pace for the first mile.  My tactic worked  a bit...I still went out too fast, but slower than the week before.  This allowed me to not slow down as much at mile 2 and thanks to better and more conscious food choices I was home free with stomach discomfort.  We started running mile 1 into a bit of a headwind - but this made for a great feeling mile 2 with a tail wind for almost the entire mile and as well as most of mile 3.  As I neared mile 3 the sky was growing darker and the wind was picking up...just as I passed the beginning of the outback they began re-routing runners directly to the finish.  I was happy that I did not get re routed but oi was it frustrating dodging through considerably slower runners for the final kick to the finish.  I felt good finishing this race, I was passing people even up until the end and I felt as though I had pushed myself.  After I finished I found Adam right away and after a brief thought of hanging around to say hi to friends we decided to escape the storm and head straight to the car as we had a big weekend ahead of us (putting on DC Tri Duathlon #2 and racing our first tri of the season on Sunday).  As we headed out of the area a torrential downpour started, I'm glad I didn't run any slower!


Race #4 April 26, 2013

This race was a pretty last minute decision for me. I knew I'd wanted to run it after the big improvement between my 1st and 2nd CC5k but I waited until Thursday night to actually register.  As my friends were on vacation, my brother was out of town, and Adam didn't want to race I was off to this final CC5k on my lonesome.  I was fairly confident I would see some friends there but didn't know who planned on racing.  As it was the last race of the series and super nice out - this race was packed!  I seeded myself a little bit farther back once again in an attempt to slow myself down at the start.  Well all I have to say is epic fail - mile 1 was the fastest timed mile I've run in any recent year (perhaps since college soccer fitness days).  With the significantly larger field of runners at this race I was unaware of my pace and not looking at my Garmin at all during the race.  I was pushing myself but felt it wasn't going as well as the previous week.  I continued to push on - grabbing a water cup at the aid station - and for the first time felt like I may drown, during a running race!  As I tilted the cup up to take a sip someone ran right into my elbow - I inhaled water up the nose, mouth and oi - all I could think was don't slow down, just cough it up! As I neared the last 1/2 mile or so I could tell I was slowing but tried to push as hard as I could.  I was definitely feeling it as I made the final U-turn and was nervous that I may not have improved from the previous weeks time.  I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch.  I took a few moments to settle down and then checked out my time -- it was a good day!  I grabbed a cookie, ran into a couple friends who crushed the course and jumped back on the metro a sweaty, stinky mess - and somewhat sad there would be no more CC5k Friday's.


After the first one I thought I hated the 5k - I thought to myself give me a 10 miler any day, this 5k business just hurts too much.  By the final race I was loving it and was reminded of how much I enjoy shorter, harder, efforts and seeing just how hard I can push.  I also learned that when I pace or at least attempt to pace myself I perform better - though I still didn't get the hang of it and I managed to positive split every race of the series.  Next year I may sign up for the series - even if I sit the first one out for Cherry Blossom it will still be the same cost or I could just run it easy.  I may find some more 5ks and 10ks for the year but I am definitely looking forward to the Oly and Sprint Tri's I have on the schedule this year as well.  The improvements in just the course of 3 weeks seems to be promising and motivating though I feel a bit addicted to running a 5k every Friday now.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I Beat the Chicken

The 2013 Tri Season has now officially begun.  Adam and I headed down to Richmond (Tuckahoe to be exact) for the 2013 Richmond Multisport Triathlon season opener - the Chasing Chicken Sprint Triathlon.  With some longer races (1/2 Iron distance right around the corner in May) we wanted to get in some racing, shake out some cobwebs, and have some fun going short, fast, and hard before a season of long days of training and racing picks up.


The only downfall (if considered that) of this race is that they require Saturday packet pick-up between the hours of 11-3.  I was frustrated that after an early morning of putting on the DC Tri Club Duathlon we weren't able to get in a mid-long distance ride of our own.  By the time we got to Richmond we went straight to packet pickup at 3Sports and picked up some clearance items.  The 2 new pairs of Zoot running shoes I
snagged will hopefully be worth missing a ride.  We were able to steal away for about an hour and do some course recon/discovery of the bike course.  I'm very glad we were able to do this as the course had a little bit of an interesting transition to the mount line as well as a couple turns to get out to the 2 main roads most of the course took place on.


If you've ever traveled to a race with me you know I'm pretty gung ho about my pre race meal.  On occasion I make my own dinner, pack it up in tupperware, and voila have my trusty pasta, marinara, zuchinni, squash and onion.  If that's not really an option I go to Olive Garden - and get the same thing every time.  I've learned that on a Saturday night you can sit, order, and eat at the Bar in Olive Garden in about 40 minutes, the same amount of time you might wait for a table.  Our hotel was nicely located down the road from an OG - but not so fast.  Adam (the man with friends everywhere) has an old friend in Richmond who was nice enough to have us over for dinner.  Apps, drinks, homemade bread, and pasta with homemade pesto - it was definitely not my usual but it was tasty and carb loading perfection.

Post dinner consisted of readying the bikes - bike frame #, helmet #, and bib # all set and ready to go.  Transition bag packed, race clothes out for the AM, and breakfast items out and ready.


Breakfast was the old standby with a slight twist - Special K Chocolatey Red Berries, banana, and almond milk.  Peanut butter will no longer be making an appearance on race day or any other day really as I've started having pretty bad cramping every time I consume peanut butter (this really is a story for another day).  Getting out of the hotel and on the road to the race site was smooth.  We arrived at the race site with plenty of time to set up transition, get timing chips and take Mr (that's my bike) to the mechanic for a check in and get in a warm up swim.  After our ride the day before I noticed the shifting was off and some gears had a
sluggish feel to them.  The mechanic made some real derailleur adjustment but just couldn't get it right - he asked me about the chain which I recently had replaced and after a few more adjustments asked me about the cassette...oi.  I had no idea, I bought the wheel used a year ago, they came with the cassette and for all I know that cassette could have been on them since 2009.  He did the best he could - which was a big improvement compared to what it felt like the day before and I promptly ordered a new cassette once I had access to Amazon.

THE SWIM - 300m Pool Swim - 6:06

This time does include a few seconds of transition time to get in and out of the pool and such but I'm still not thrilled with my splits for a pool swim and considering the lessons I've been doing this year.  On a good note I felt strong and much more efficient than an probably almost any race before.  It was a time trial start and apparently the women around me had pretty accurate predicted swim times - I didn't pass anyone and no one passed me either.  I'll be working hard to get improve this time over the season - especially in the open water.

T1 - 2:40

Once pulling myself out of the pool I had to run through two sets of double doors, up some stars, up the drive way to the soccer field where transition was located and finally to my transition area.  Once there I pulled on my Gore cycling jacket, helmet, sunglasses, shoes, and gloves before heading out to the road with Mr.  Forgoing the jacket and gloves would have made for a much faster transition but a much less comfortable and more frozen bike ride.

THE BIKE - 13 Miles - 37:54 - 20.58mph

The bike was fun - but frustrating at times.  I was passed by 2 guys on the bike course - not super happy - but passed a whole lot of women.  While checking out the course the day before when we got out to the long stretch back to the YMCA on the back side of the loop we had a slight tail wind and we were sailing back in.  Making us excited for the last 1/2 of the bike segment for the race.  It was a whole different story on race day - hello headwing and crosswind!! Oi, at least everyone had the same conditions to deal with.

I took 1 PowerGel on the bike, about 9 miles in.  More to help me mentally and for the run than anything else.  I also rode with water/Ironman perform in my aerobottle.  Ironman perform still sits heavy just like it did last year - I don't know if I'll ever be able to dilute that stuff enough.  The bike is usually by far my favorite part of the race - and I definitely enjoyed this bike course but could have used a few more miles to catch and put some time into my main competition!  I'm all for short swims and long bikes :)

T2 - 1:25

I dismounted old school style and ran into T2 in my bike shoes.  I haven't been out to practice my flying dismounts and I wasn't about to try it on a slight uphill with another cyclist coming in right behind me.  It would have saved me a few seconds but no big deal.  I ditched the helmet, jacket, and gloves.  Donned my visor, Kinvara's, and grabbed my race belt and another gel for insurance before heading out for the run.

THE RUN - 5k - 23:07

I was clueless as to my position in the field, my pace, where Adam was, basically everything.  I was happy to be out of the headwind, my legs were warming up on the run, and the sun was out - though there was still a chill in the air!  I picked a comfortable pace and got to it, picking off people as I could.  I was passed by a collegiate female about 1.5 miles in but noticed her age group was different and her bib was much lower than mine - which meant I'd already made up a few minutes on her on the bike - it wasn't worth chasing her down - it wouldn't effect my AG place.  The run was a lollipop shape so I was hoping to see Adam on the out and back section - but no such luck - and I never saw the Chicken!  Oi!  Where is this guy?  Once I hit mile 2 I picked up my pace and picked off a few more women and a couple guys.  I noticed at bib 117 I seemed to be running with and passing a lot of people with bibs in the 50s and 60s.  What happened to everyone that started near me (we TT started in numerical order).  At this point I started to think that I might be doing fairly well.  As I ran it in to the finish line the chicken was handing out high 5's at the final turn to the home stretch!  Oi, I guess the chicken was donezo and I never saw him, he must have kicked my butt.  As I crossed the finish I didn't hear Adam or see him.  Unusual....

FINISH 1:11:11

I hung out near the finish line for another minute pondering where Adam might be - not long after I noticed him walking towards me.  I was greeted with a, "What are you doing here already?"  Um, I finished the race - are you just finishing?  Yes, the answer was Yes...I beat him across the finish line (which we made a bet based on this as well as finish time).  I will enjoy my glory for the day as it may not happen again anytime soon as I almost always start in a wave (or 20) behind him.  We took a nice cool down together and then headed back to get some warm clothes, pick up transitions, and get some grub and get stretched out.

We had to hang out for awhile for the awards to start.  While I was getting stretched out Adam peaked at the results and broke the news to me.  Apparently I did well, really well.  Hmmm....did I win my Age group?  No, ok then what did I do?  2nd Age group....2nd Overall Female! Woo that was good news for the first tri of the season.  We went back and checked the awards to see if we beat the chicken...and yes we both did...easily.  Adam also podiumed with an AG award - we need ideas for barbecue sauce...2 full jars of it. Adam finished with a 1:07:02 and the Chicken finished in 1:14:55...I guess that's fast for a chicken.

Finally awards started - we collected our hardware/barbecue sauce and attempted to wait to see if those that beat the chicken would take home anything else.  But time was ticking away and we were eager to get back to DC so we snuck out during the collegiate


This was great early season tune up race.  It was fun, low pressure, and at least the swim was warm.  If it fits I'd do it again.  Definitely was reminded of some things to practice before the bigger races during race set up and the race itself.  And as I've insisted before - I'm a better runner off the bike than in a stand alone running race.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

2013 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

The Cherry Blossom 10-miler is by far my favorite running race...ever.  It may have something to do with my knack for PRing all 3 times I've raced it, the idea of cherry blossoms surrounding the course, the race start in my backyard, or all the friends that run and cheer along the way.  This year lived up to my every expectation.

I set a time goal for myself - that according to McMillan and my most recent 1/2 marathon time would not be possible.  It would be a PR and a pace that  I knew I would have to focus to maintain if I achieved my time goal.  Over the past year and half I've come to appreciate my Garmin but I still use the pace calculator to have an idea of what my mile splits need to be at certain markers to keep my entertained during the run - yay for mathematics!  That being said I was still pretty glued to the idea of having my Garmin on my wrist for the run.

As I prepared my clothes and bag check bag for the morning I couldn't find my watch - oh no, I had left it on my bedroom floor!  Fail!  Luckily, I have an amazing roommate who loves any excuse to Bikeshare around town and was willing to meet me at 7:00am to hand off the Garmin!

Sunday morning I took off across Memorial Bridge - closed to car traffic to head to the race start - via bike. It was an awesome ride into town and super easy.  Going by bike is definitely the way to go.  I found a bike
rack, a tree that looked like the meeting place for the group I was meeting with and hunkered down.  15 minutes later...still no else there.  I eventually found Jesse and got the watch, found a toilet with no line, and got really worried about finding Adam and my gear check bag.  After a few minutes of frustration and crowds I found him and quickly took off my warm clothes and checked my bag so I could make it to my corral before race start.

Once comfortably in the red corral I tried to seed myself towards the back of the lead crowd as to not get caught up running to fast but also to not have to dodge around slower runners.  All in all it worked out pretty well.  I went out a bit faster than my goal pace but quickly adjusted for miles 2 and 3 and was hitting my goal pace - but I wasn't using my Garmin at all.  Old fashioned clocks and mathematics - I like to look at the Garmin Data after the run :)

The weather was cool and I'd say pretty much perfect - though there was quite the breeze I noticed while on Memorial Bridge.  Miles 1-3 came and went without much to-do.  I took a gel at mile 3 and continued on my way.  I was grabbing water as we passed water stops and enjoyed the race - even if there weren't many blossoms out quite yet.  I was pushing myself to a slightly uncomfortable place but yet maintainable.  It felt good to be running hard.  Running hard after the winter is always a bit difficult for me - I do too much slow and comfortable pace'd running in the cold weather.

As I passed the 5 mile mark I knew I was right on target and headed towards one of my favorite places...Hains Point.  Most people seem to feel strongly about Hains Point - either they love it or they hate it - and I love it!  The Oreo and Beer man at the tip of the point, the cheering crowds, the water, and the
blossoms and the last few miles!  Hains Point was still great this year - but it was windy!  We hit a major head wind heading out to the point that seemed to slow everyone down.  I tried drafting off bigger people, but to no avail - I pushed on the best I could into the wind.

Soon enough I was around the point with the wind at my back.  I felt strong for the last couple miles - though some race photos show my form falling apart - heel strike!  When I saw the clock at Mile 9 I knew I had to hold my pace to make my goal.  As I came to the end of Hains Point and saw the 1200m To Go sign I started to slightly pick up my pace.  As I ran up the 1 small hill in the entire race and finally toward the finish line I knew it'd be close.  I gave it a final kick with all I had left.

FINISH TIME: 1:19:53 (Woo sub-1:20:00)

I caught up with some friends - near the "correct" tree before grabbing a post race muffin and some warm clothes.  Once re-untied with Adam and gathering a group for brunch we headed off to a great meal and a beautifully sun-shining day.