Sunday, April 29, 2007

Taper - that means not doing anything, right?

Less than a week until the tri!

And there are now 170 people registered. (I found out that they are spacing swimmers at 30 second intervals, so that is a pretty big head start those fast people get!)

And the weather forecast is 55/70, so I think I won't have to worry about it being too cold to bike/run while wet.

So this totally changes the dress code.

Last weekend, Kori and I did another run through - I changed out of my bathing suit and into my bike shorts (there is locker room access at the tri).

The good part was that I was nice and comfy and dry for the bike.

The bad part was that T1 took me just as long as the swim portion did - almost 8 minutes! Gees, putting on bike shorts on while wet is not easy.

So being able to skip all that and just go with the tri shorts will be good.

Soooo, I should probably swim in my tri shorts once to make sure it works out okay.

And maybe I should do something during the taper, right? I haven't done anything resembling exercise since Monday! I blame that on having a friend in town. Who accidentally brought two left sneakers. And who has now heard my inner dialogue about tri shorts vs. a bathing suit for this race about ten kajillion times. I think he might possibly be ready to kill me.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Not as bad as I thought?

This week at work was another One of Those Weeks (tm), so I had a lot of time to think as I lay awake at night completely unable to sleep. I got to wondering why my knee felt fine and then all of a sudden started killing me when I ran the other day. It wasn't gradual, it was just fine, fine, ow!

So I went for another run today, and tested a theory. When I run, it hurts if I go uphill. I ran 2 miles today, and then purposefully took a hill. Almost as soon as I got on the hill, sure enough, there was my knee. I stopped running immediately, walked down and walked home, and I feel fine now.

The doc said that stairs would be the thing that hurt most when I was first injured, and it seems to makes sense than hills would be a similar motion.

So I think I have a handle on my limitations right now, which means that I can at least start getting back in shape while I work out the kinks.

Hooray! (hopefully)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Not Yet...

About two hours after running the other day, my knee really hurt. I had serious pain going up and down stairs Tuesday night, and a little yesterday.

I didn't run today. Guess I'm not ready yet. :(

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

First run back

Today I went out for my first run since the injury over 3 weeks ago. I ended up making it just under 1 1/2 miles. During the last half mile or so, I could feel some tension in my knee, but it went away as soon as I stopped. I didn't have any searing pain, didn't overdo it, just wanted to test the waters. Overall, I view today as relatively positive.

Last week I had One of Those Weeks (tm) at work, where I left the office at 11 pm one night, 10:30 the next, etc. The side effect of this was that instead of stretching 3 times a day like I had been doing, I was doing it maybe once a day since I was too busy or tired. I felt it this weekend when I got back to my normal routine again, and I think this definitely set me back a little bit.

I think I'll take tomorrow off, and try running again Thursday to see how I feel. We have a soccer game Sunday, and god do I want to play. I think it's too early to call either way, so I will have to wait and see...

Hills of Little Egypt

This past Saturday was the best day of every year: the River to River Relay. R2R is Illinois' most famous relay race, shorter and closer to sea level than races like WWR, but with plenty of its own challenges. The climbs are not very long, but are steep, and with 8 runners covering 80 miles there isn't much time to warm up, rest or stretch at the exchanges.

You'd think that on my fifth time running R2R I'd be ready for the quick turnover. But on my first leg I was late to my exchange. Oops. Once I got running that leg went pretty smoothly. It's supposed to be one of the harder legs in the relay but I didn't think it was too bad. A few rollers, 3/4-mile of steep climb, more rollers, then a long swoop downhill. It was a long, fast swoop downhill for an overall slight decline in elevation. I ran very well on this leg, about 5:32 pace (mostly due to very quick downhills). The second leg for runner 6 is very easy, just 2.5 miles with a gentle climb followed by a gentle descent down to the starting altitude. It's the third leg that's notorious: a drop down to the bridge at Lusk Creek then a steep climb up from it. The incline diminishes throughout the 1.5 miles of the big climb, with a few false peaks. Then there's a quick downhill and about a half-mile of steep climb to the finish. I thought I got out a bit slow but the climbing miles were pretty solid. On the final steep climb to the finish I started my push almost immediately, which left me completely spent at the end. Which is how it should be.

Brent and the guys back at UIUC managed to put together two teams this year; my team was all guys that I knew from previous relays and runs (including Shaun, who is always up for traveling many miles to run a relay race), and the other team had a bunch of new dudes, several of whom had run on college cross and track teams at some point. Brent led off for the other team and had them in first place at the first exchange. They wound up finishing fourth in 7:47:55. My team got 7th overall, 6th in our division (behind one masters team) in 8:09:20. Not bad. The picture here is from one of our teams three years ago sprinting to the finish together, a pretty awesome shot.

This year was the 20th year of the Relay, and it has developed some fun traditions. There's a handicap-division team that makes the trip up from Florida every year called the Dixie Flyers. Their name is no joke -- they don't all look like fast runners, but at their various advanced ages they are favored to win their highly competitive division every year. And after it all they still have the energy to get up and dance to the music of the Old Fishskins, the bluegrass band that plays before the awards every year, and in my opinion is The Greatest Band In The History Of Music, Period. There was also a guy up from Florida wearing a Dixie Flyers jersey and biking the course (except for the parts that were on gravel roads, for which he got picked up by some dudes in a convertible).

And I think the best part, after everyone made fun of me for wearing a windbreaker and long pants in the 75-degree weather all day except while running, was that I managed to avoid sunburn completely. For me, that's quite a feat.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Even with the power of science, I still sucked ass.

After last weekend's 5k, I decided I should give a 5k that didn't require eating Krispy Kremes a try to see where I stood these days. I figured that I probably ran a 29:30 5k last weekend, subtracting the time it took to eat the donuts. So I was shooting for under 30 (sadly still 2 and a half minutes off my PR). So today I did an Earth Day 5k put on by the evolutionary biology and ecology grad student group. I figured that this would be a perfect time to whip out my newest nerdy t-shirt (note I am horrible taking photos of myself):And look at that! I got number 42! I mean, this has to bode well, right?

Uh, not! (Let' go back 15 years, why don't we?) My friend who had never run a race before was there and she asked me what my mile pace was. I told her these days for a 5k race, it was about 9:45. She seemed to think this was fast, even though she said she was a 10 minute/mile girl and I told her she would probably run faster in a race than she does on her own. The race starts and I don't see her until the end - she came in at about 25 minutes! Gees, I wish I went that much faster in a race.

Anyways, I started out a bit too fast, but I was sucking wind the entire time. My heart rate stayed above my lactate threshold the entire time (which theoretically meant I should slow down, but even though I have the pretty numbers, I tend to ignore them and just run how I feel).

I came in at 30:38. Gees, this is my slowest 5k time since February 2005, when I started doing distance running, so I am not a happy camper. I don't necessarily think that it was just a bad day either. My hamstring didn't hurt while running, I just think that having to do very conservative running training for the past six months has taken its toll. My hopes of being able to do a 30 min 5k in the tri are pretty much blown. But surprisingly, I have been feeling pretty good on the bike lately and really, the triathlon is all about the bike, right?

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I am going to vent.

So I found out that for the Siouxperman Tri that Kori and I are doing in May, they are starting the fastest people first (based on your estimated swim time). This just seems wrong to me. They start the swimmers one by one in the pool. Right now there are 50 people registered or so and I am sure more will register later. I don't know how often they are starting swimmers, but since you have to go out and back in the same lane (then you move over a lane), then something in the range of a minute maybe? So that puts the fast people an hour ahead of the slow people, who already will probably be finishing the whole thing an hour slower than the fast people.

This is a small town triathlon. A good chunk of the registered participants are from this said small town (the website where you register lists all the participants, their ages, and where they are from). So I imagine there are a lot of first-timers. What could be more discouraging than being one of the last people to cross the finish line?

I actually gave a conservative swim time of 7:30 for 300m. At the indoor tri in February, I did that distance in about 7 minutes. Had I known what they were doing, I would have skewed my time fast instead. Unless there are huge gaps in swim times, catching someone who might be 15 seconds slower than you with a minute head start isn't going to happen.

The only benefit I can see is that it might loosen up congestion on the bike course. And who knows, maybe they are starting people every 30 s, so that difference will be much less skewed. And of course, someone can be a really slow swimmer and be fast on the bike and run. This is the first time this race has been put on though, so I imagine there will be lots of little logistical things that don't work out quite right.

Of course, everyone has probably seen through this to my own insecurities about being the person to finish dead last :-) I'm just saying that my triathlon career might end pretty quickly if I crossed the finish line last. Some people are awesome and motivated and see that as a challenge to improve. Not me. I came in second to last in the first and only 10k I ever ran back in 2003 and I haven't run one since (admittedly it was a very small race). I run 5ks, half-marathons, even a marathon, but never that 10k distance. So yeah, I'm totally petty like that.

And because in addition to being petty, I am competitive (for better or worse); thus of course I have looked at the registrant list to see how many women in my age group are registered. Quite a few actually! But this isn't because I want to beat them (well, I would like to beat them, but I don't plan on doing so). I figure that the more people registered, the less likely it is for me to finish last in my age group (which I would hate almost as much as crossing the finish line last).

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The joys and frustrations of small races

I went up to San Francisco again today for a DSE race, a 10k in Golden Gate Park. I've always loved small races; the Rattlesnake Master 5/10 in Urbana was one of my favorites in college, because it was a small, fun, low-key race and because the course, looping around Meadowbrook Park, was the running equivalent of home-court advantage. Rattlesnake was where I set my 10k PR of 35:54 in 2004, running alone behind only a pace cyclist for the last eight of the race's ten kilometers.

At today's race there was no pace cyclist, but fortunately I had someone to chase. I ran the first few miles alongside Grant, the dude that beat me last week, and there was another guy that took his first mile in 5:20. By the halfway point we were packed together, but the other guy dropped off after that. Turns out he was tired from running a sub-16 minute 5k the previous day (!). Shortly after halfway Grant started to pull away, and I gained and lost ground on him in stretches, but the losing stretches were significantly longer than the gaining ones. The last mile or so was a real struggle; we'd gone out pretty fast (after the race Grant said we were at 16:58 at three miles) and I was just about dead.

The course had rolling hills, but nothing nearly as steep as last week (explaining the much faster pace for a race twice as long). And for maybe the first time ever in a race I thought I handled the downhills very well. I ran under control and with good form and almost always gained ground on the downhills. I also think that overall I did a good job of running efficiently early, even at the fast pace, and I'm really, really glad that I didn't jump out front and push the pace when I was feeling good on an uphill around the 2-mile mark.

So I didn't have a watch with me and didn't catch my time right at the finish, but I figured I'd hear it when they handed out awards. I heard them call out the time of the guy that rabbitted as 36:26, and I finished well ahead of him, so I figured I had easily set a PR. But during awards they gave his time as 35:18 and mine as 35:15. Which doesn't really add up, because I was way more than three seconds ahead. And I finished more than 3 seconds behind Grant (probably 15 seconds), so it wasn't that there was a bogus extra time at the beginning. And that's the frustration of small races. I am in the unusual situation that I know I ran a PR today but now I don't know what my PR is! I think I'll call it 35:18. I'm really pleasantly surprised by whatever I ran; I didn't think I was in better shape than I was back in '04. And it's possible that I'm not, and that 36 seconds is just the difference between running out front and chasing someone.


PR in Krispy Kreme eating, that is!

'Tis that time of year when the ISU Triathlon Club puts on their annual Donut Run.

I have done this race every year I have lived in Ames. My first year I came to the realization that it takes me 30 seconds to eat a Krispy Kreme, so the three donuts I ate that year were useless (I think I came in at 31 minutes, which gives a 29:30 adjusted donut time)

So last year, despite having tequila still running through my blood stream, I persevered and decided to do four and came in at 30 minutes, giving a 27:30 adjusted donut time (still my 5k PR :-))

This year, since I am not marathon training and 3-4 miles are now my long runs, I wasn't expecting to PR on the running portion of the race. That only left the donut consumption portion of the race. So I made it my mission to eat five. I got to the race starving, so I figured, no problem!

I ate five. My total time was 32 minutes, my adjusted time 28:30, which sadly isn't even faster than my 5k PR from last year. Oh well. If I ran it without donuts, I am sure I could have come in sub-30, so I am thinking I might do this 5k next weekend, just to see what I can do these days. I think it will be good to get into race mentality since the triathlon is only 3 weeks off!

I still feel sick to my stomach. I don't know how some of these people eat over 20 donuts. The ones who won typically ate ten and still came in at a 20 minute 5k (so their adjusted time is like 13 minutes). Usually some spoilsport who doesn't eat any donuts wins the whole thing though. This year, the guy in the lead, who decided to dig through his ironic t-shirt collection to find one that said "You are what you eat," didn't even place. There were some fast donut eaters!

On the plus side, apparently Krispy Kremes are some of the least caloric donuts out there, so at 5, I only packed away about 1000 calories. My HRM said I burned 327, so really, it's just like I had a big brunch! And since I don't think I will be able to eat anything for a while yet, it's all good :-)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hills of San Francisco

Can it be?!? I actually ran a race! In fact, I have never run in more than two non-relay races in any year since high school. But I've just run my second race of 2007 and my third will be next weekend!

With River to River coming up I thought it might be a good idea to get the feeling of racing back in my legs, so early this week I started looking for a weekend 10k. Turns out that Easter weekend is not a popular one for holding races. But I did find a group in San Francisco called the Dolphin South End Runners that holds low-key races in San Francisco every Sunday for just $5, which is about half the cost of gas for a round trip to the city. This week they had a "Rollercoaster 5k". So even though it wasn't a 10k I tried it out.

Turns out they didn't call it a rollercoaster for nothing. Here is a course map. Turn on the elevation chart. See that sharp dip and rise back up in the middle? That is one city block of pure steep hill (the turnaround was right at the bottom of the hill). I led the race from the start until just after getting back up that steep hill; the guy chasing me probably made up lots of ground because I lost my form on the downhill (as a result of fatigue from the previous uphill), and then went by me shortly after the climb back up. I kept him in sight but never was able to challenge for the lead; he wound up beating me by 12 seconds. Considering the steepness of the hills I'm pretty happy with my time of 18:11.

So it was good practice for the hilly terrain of Little Egypt, and a lot of fun, lots of cool people there. I'm definitely showing up for their 10k in Golden Gate Park next weekend.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

My mom is evil.

Today in the mail, I got this:

I am pretty sure this box contains about 7000 calories.

That's about 70 miles of running.

I have run 47 miles this year.

Right now it is all hidden in the freezer, in the hopes I will forget about it.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Doctor's Visit

I saw the orthopedic doctor this morning. The entire time I spent with him was maybe 7 minutes. He got me up on the table, moved my left knee around, moved my right knee around, had me roll on my side, did 1 thing and was like, "There it is."

Apparently my IT bands are so tight that I had a flare-up of tendonitis where the IT band attaches inside/behind your knee. So he showed me a couple of stretches (I asked, but he said I didn't need an IT band stick), and said that I should just do these stretches 3-4 times a day, and that will "fix" it. I guess I just need to stretch it out and give the tendonitis a little time to calm down and I should be fine. It's amusing to me that I had a knee problem where the solution is to stretch out my IT band up behind my hip. The knee will just solve itself once that's done.

At the end of the appointment, he looked over at the chair where my knee immobilizer was, and the last thing he said to me was, "Oh, get rid of that thing!"

However, the best part of the trip was when I was driving home. I saw a car that I also saw last Sunday when I was driving myself to the emergency room (the doc's office is in the same hospital complex). This car is memorable because it has 4 bumper stickers. They are:

- "Arms are for hugging."
- "What if the hokey pokey *IS* what it's all about?"
- "Cannibal Corpse"
- "Hatebreed"

Yes, two hippie bumper stickers and two death metal band bumper stickers. How awesome! I really wish I could meet the person who drives that car.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Me and the Old Farts

Went to the pool this morning.

Forgot it was water aerobics time.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

I think maybe I burned a 100 calories in 45 minutes.

That most definitely did not make up for the ten cadbury mini-eggs that I ate on the way to the gym.
And the ten I ate on the way home from the gym.

See, I keep them in my car, since I drive so infrequently, so that I am not tempted by them.

So I had to make that breakfast for the morning. Sigh.

In good news though, I was thinking that perhaps doing "speed work" in the pool might work. It is hard to do quick turnover running in the pool, so if I can work on that there, when I get out of the water, quick turnover should be easier on the road maybe?

And it's official - four of us (me, Kori, Joe, and Al) are doing the last two days of RAGBRAI on fellow Scientist Jessica's team. Well, presuming that we get in the lottery. It might be more crowded this year since apparently Lance Armstrong is doing the whole thing, not just one day like he did last year. Keeping our fingers crossed!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Cherry Blossom Recap

This morning was Cherry Blossom. The weather was overcast, about 50 degrees, overall pretty decent for 7:30 a.m.

I started out doing great. I was pacing myself, sticking as best I could to my 9:30/mi goal. (I say "as best I could," because I forgot my watch. Oops. :) ) In the first two miles, everyone around me was really really back and forth on their pace, which I guess is usual for a race of any distance. People would fly past me, and then we'd get to a 1% incline and I'd pass them right back as they were panting going up the "hill."

Somewhere just before mile two, my left knee started feeling weird. I did a few high kicks to try to stretch it out, and that felt worse, so I stopped. From this point on, every step got worse. They had water stations every 2.5 miles, so at the second one (at mile 5), I decided to walk through the station to see if I could shake loose whatever was kinked in my knee. I got to the end of the station, started running again, made it about 100 yards, and that was it. I couldn't go any further. I hopped back to a volunteer, they called the medics who came by and gave me an ice pack, and I called my ride to come meet me. I couldn't even walk, or I at least would have tried to make it to the finish line.

I don't know what happened, but whatever is wrong with my knee, it feels bad. Much worse than anything I've felt in my knees in a long time. I can barely walk right now -- any bending at all is just intense pain.

I am going to put it up, take some pain killers, and see how it feels this afternoon. If it isn't better, I may have to go to the hospital. Sh*t. The run was going well, except for the unbearable pain thing. I was right on pace, averaging 9:25/min when I stopped at the 5th mile marker. I didn't even feel tired at all. I was right where I wanted to be.

I ran twice this week, and my foot was sore, but my knee never bothered me. Whatever happened, it must have happened today. Sigh. What a crappy end to what should have been a fun day.

Edited 3:20 pm: Pain was too much, went to hospital. Got painkillers, a big knee brace, and a referral to an orthopedic who I need to call first thing in the morning...