Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The hill of death.

Monday, Kori and I went out to the Cornman course to swim and bike the course (they have the buoy up all the time I guess). That part of Iowa? Pretty damn hilly. And not just by Iowa standards, IMHO! The course was a rollercoaster, as was the day.

Up: It was a gorgeous day out.

Down: (TMI Alert!!!) I realized I think my tri shorts might create a camel toe.

Down: I was 20 minutes late picking up Kori because I put my bike rack on upside down. Kori is the most prompt person I know, so I feel bad making her wait.

Down: I got bike grease all over my new tri top.

Down: My left mirror fell off and it banged on my car door for the entire hour ride.

Up: Because of this, I avoided the highway and the backroads were very pretty.

Up: We arrive at the lake and I realized 500 m isn't really that far.

Up: We start swimming out to the buoy and the teenage boys playing in the water tried to swim out with us but gave up pretty quickly with quotes like "You're going all the way out to the buoy! I think I'd die!"

Up: I really like open water swimming. This was my first time (I finally got some inspiration).

Down: I think I am cruising along, but it still took me about 14 minutes to do each 500 m lap, which would put me pretty close to last on the swim, also meaning that depending where we start, I could get swum over a lot.

Down: The bike course starts on a small hill.

Down: The hills never end.

Down: There is a ginormous hill at mile 3 that I had to walk up. It was so steep I was afraid I would come to a stop and fall over while clipped in. Even someone in Colorado heard it was a killer. I didn't believe people when they said there is nothing in Ames that compares. So I may humiliate myself by walking up this hill. We are going to go back out and practice it this weekend.

Up: I hit 37 mph going down the backside of the hill.

Up: Most of the course is gentle rollers, which I like.

Down: We got lost in Gladbrook.

Down: We pulled over to figure things out and I clipped one leg out and leaned the wrong way and fell over on the gravel on the side of the road, cutting the plam of my hand and my legs.

Down: The old guy we asked for directions spent the entire time looking at my chest.

Down: When I fell over, some bits of gravel apparently clung to my damp tri shorts, so it was like a booty exfoliation the whole way back.

Up: We finished during sunset, which was just beautiful over rolling picturesque farms.

After finishing this course, I was all ready to sign up for the Iowa Games tri instead. The problem with the Iowa Games is that they give the same t-shirt for every sport (no distinction between a triathlon or bowling!) as well as to the volunteers. And as we all know, I am only in this for the t-shirt.

Yesterday Kori said "Let's not be wusses. Let's earn our shirt on that hill."

That's a lot coming from Kori, as she absolutely despises stereotyping of Iowa as a place full of corn (hence she was not loving the Cornman t-shirt).

So we are signed up. That hill must be conquered under consequence of humiliation. I have one and a half weeks to make it my bitch.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I am now in the posession of some nice bike short tan lines...

Or in my case, sunburn lines.

The irony is that this morning I did my usual taunting of my roommate after she came back from tanning about how she is going to get cancer.

And then because it was cool and overcast, I totally forgot sunscreen and came back with some nice lines on my legs and arms after my bike ride.

I am a bridesmaid in a friend from junior high's wedding in September. Between all the running and biking I need to do this summer and the field work on top of that, I am probably going to ruin her wedding photos with some funky tan lines in this dress:One of my undergrads suggested I start wearing a tube top during all our field work. Yeah, that would be awesome. Unfortunately I have to wear a life preserver when out on the boat, so even a tube top wouldn't save me.

My roommate thinks I should spray tan. But I am petrified of turning orange, since I have never done such a thing.

But to quote my roommate "Well, an orange tan would be better than your pasty white legs in that black dress."

We believe in brutal honesty in our household.

Anyways, I think the world is in a sorry state when a fake orange tan is considered to look better than my natural white skin color.

Well, if I keep forgetting the sunscreen, I may solve this problem on my own.

Anyways, today I accidentally went on a 40 mile bike ride. I intended to do 30 but I didn't really have a set route mapped out, I was just doing loops around town. And then I went out on one road to finish off the distance, got to where I needed to go to but by then all the grid roads were dirt (in the midwest, the entire countryside is laid out in one mile by one mile grids - as a New Englander this is totally foreign to me but it means you can never get lost). I refuse to backtrack, so I decided to take the next paved road, even though it went south (I was southwest of home, but figured I could take a road east back to town that was different than the one I was on). Well the next road east wasn't for 4 miles. I was beat by the time I got home and fell asleep on the couch, still in my bike shorts.

My previous longest ride ever was 28 miles. I am pretty sure 12 miles is a little too much to jump up by (only a 45% increase!). My average speed was just over 15 mph, but you know what? I'll take that. I've had a hard time getting the longer rides in. Going out for 15-20 mile rides hasn't been a problem, but last time I checked, an Olympic distance is 25 miles, so that ain't gonna cut it. And! My bike seat got moved forward and things are a little less painful. Although I think I might be compromising some on form since my back was sore. But that just could be because I had never ridden that long before.

Oh and since I totally believe in overloading posts with non-sequiturs, I was playing with the GRR pace calculator and they estimate (given our individual paces for each leg) that it will take us 29 hours. We did the Wild West Relay in 28:38. We have a bit of a different cast of characters, but our average pace is only about 30 seconds slower than last year and this race is not over the Continental Divide and has oxygen galore. It is also 2 miles longer. But I still think we can totally beat our time from last year. We also finished in the top half of our division last year - from last year's GRR results that dividing line was 29:06, so I think we can totally do that at least. Of course, this is all for fun, but goals are good too, right? We could also just go for one of the other awards of Best Decorated Vehicle, Best Team Name (if the WWR had this, I bet we could have won this category given how many people commented on our team name), Overall Favorite Team (be nice to the other teams!) or Best Team Costume. Hmmm, not so sure about running in costume!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Team member down!!

This morning Danielle e-mailed me my leg for the relay. I got a little nervous (and a lot psyched) when I looked at it (~18 miles give or take over however long the race is). Little did she know I can barely walk right now. Surprise Danielle!

I sustained a monster calf cramp/strain on Friday. I was in the middle of a swim. Who knew cramps ACTUALLY happen and you legitimately shouldn't swim alone?? It was so strange b/c I swim alone in this pond (about 1/2 a mile across and up to 102 feet deep) all the time and this is the ONE time I was actually with other people. I had linked up with a local tri group and I was the newest, slowest, and there with the guy I've been seeing (we were about 7 hours into our relationship at this point) who I didn't want to look completely spazo in front of.

But all of a sudden my calf convulsed. And didn't uncramp. I knew this was not a good thing (b/c of the excruciating pain) and tried to stay calm. I legitimately considered calling for help (in a calm way, like, um, hey, pay attention to me. Pay attention to me!) but I didn't want to be the weakest link (even though I guess this is WHY people swim in groups and probably half of the people I was with had been lifeguards or navy seals) so I just struggled onward freaking out in my head. And why was the muscle STILL IN THE CRAMPED POSITION?!?! UNCLENCH!!! AHH! UNCLENCH!!

When I got out of the pond we all went to breakfast and people were teasing me saying, Hey, pick up your feet! Why are you dragging your leg? B/c I got this major leg cramp and now it hurts to walk! Sure! Whatever. I mean, who gets leg cramps that badly? Except three days later my calf is still bruised and swollen and painful to the touch. Yuck. I am pretty sure I was dehydrated (coffee and wine) as the cause of my discomfort.

Danielle and team, I promise I will rehydrate myself and heal up! Long live DaFEET!

Funniest Quote of the Day

At the awards ceremony yesterday at the Hy-Vee Triathlon...

The prize in the elite race was $200,000 and a Hummer H3.

After giving the winners their checks, the CEO of Hy-Vee says:

"Now Governor Culver will give Hummers to the winners."

And we all giggled like 13 year olds.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I still hate 10ks

On a whim this morning, I decided to do a 10k in town. A week ago I had planned to run it, but after the GAAR my legs were pretty trashed. And I had run 15 miles already this week, which is the most I have run in a week since October.

And a 10k would put me over the 20 mile marker.

And I haven't run more than 5.5 miles since October.

And there is a big hill that you have to hit twice since it is a double loop.

And have I ever mentioned that 10k is my least favorite distance ever? I honestly would pick a 20k over a 10k any day of the week.

But my workout plans for Friday night mysteriously dissolved.

And I was up at 6:15 anyways (I just can't help myself!).

So I decided I should just go and do it. Maybe overcome this fear of 10ks.

It totally sucked.

It was already 75 degrees and 70% humidity when the race started at 7:30. My strategy was to not overdo it in the first half so that I wouldn't be miserable in the second half. At Beat the Streets a couple of weeks ago, I managed to keep just under a 10 min/mile pace for 5 miles, after riding my bike ten miles to the start of the race. So I was hoping I might be able do the same for 1.2 miles more.

Uh, no. I hit the first 5k at 31:30, which was acceptable for a first half (if I was hoping to stay under 10) because I intentionally held back a bit so I could push more later.

Yeah, that didn't happen. I pretty much had nothing in me after mile 4. I sort of slogged through the last two miles. Laurie blew by me in rockstar style as we were running down the big hill. I knew I was in trouble when I couldn't run any faster downhill and if I am good at anything, it is running downhill.

My second half? 35:30.

So, I still hate 10ks. This is only my second 10k in 5 years of racing (and many more of running).

On the plus side, I have upped my "long run" distance back up to 6 miles.

On the hilarious side, our teammate Teresa (who flashed me when she ran by me on the second loop) ran into the chute and knocked over the lady who was collecting the bottom part of the bibs, scattering them everywhere. So they had to try and recreate the order. Fortunately there will only about 50 people in the race and she was in middle more or less so there were only about 25 out of order. Unfortunately, the ones out of order were the people in contention for medals. I think they managed to figure it out.

Fortunately, I am sufficiently stubborn that if I am around for Midnight Madness in July, I will probably try to do the 10k then. I have never been in town for this race, but it is supposedly very hot. But there's beer afterwards, so how bad can it be?

Friday, June 15, 2007

What am I going to do with myself?

I have nothing to stress about!

Well, at least in the relay category.

I have plenty to stress about when it comes to instruments that aren't working and equipment that should have been in the water yesterday and how on earth am I such a slow swimmer and why boys are so stupid.

But! In the relay category, we miraculously have a team.

Over two months before the race.

Last year, I was asking complete strangers two weeks before the race if they wanted to go to Colorado with us.

And we have a name. We are officially called "The Agony of Dafeet." I'll admit, I liked the other two top choices ("Aaargh" and the return of "Back off man, I'm a scientist") but I run a democracy here, not a dictatorship and the masses have spoken. I am pretty sure this is because the nerd factor on our team this year is a bit lower than last year (although not by much!). The GRR...Aaargh was totally a Joss Whedon reference which came up because I watched the entire season of Firefly in January. And we do have fewer scientists, and obviously fewer Ghostbuster fans :-)

So half the team are repeats from last year - Jessica, me, Teresa, Chrissy, Shaun, and Al - and we have six new runners.

As I mentioned before, Nisha is a friend of mine from the Peace Corps. We can entertain everyone with stories of taking rides from random drunk Haitian men because there are no taxis after midnight in Port-au-Prince.

Laurie and Audrey are bloggy friends. Laurie is a fellow ISU grad student, so we know each other IRL, but Audrey is just a brave soul who agreed to run with us :-) I would like to note that Audrey is doing a half-Ironman the weekend before the race! Totally badass!

John is Laurie's friend, although I have met him previously after we had a random discussion about the light on his bike helmet at the bestest coffee shop in Ames. When Jessica isn't being an agronomy grad student, she works here too.

Then lastly we have Kimberly and Kori, who I started on my long distance running journey with over two years ago through a running group through the city. We all remember the first "long run" we did - 4 miles and it sucked the entire way. Kimberly and I ran Grandma's Marathon together last year and the three of us are signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon this October.

So that's the cast of characters! This year I actually know them all! Seriously - last year I only knew three of my teammates before the race, and I was the team captain!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Glug glug glug...

That was the sounds I made as I attempted to do some balance drills in the pool last night. Julie, the Ironman who gives me triathlon advice, suggested that I should work on balance and technique drills and that the speed will come if I get better at those things. Since I am pretty sure I would be close to last in a 1500 m swim, just getting a little bit faster would make me happy.

What I want to know is: How the #%$^ does one breathe while on their side? The drills said that my mouth should be just above the water, but it's not! I guess I understand that good swimmers don't lift their head to breathe, they just rotate, but that ain't working for me! I inhaled a lot of water last night.

In other swimming news, because I knew these drills would take me forever, I bought some flippers. Flippers are fun!

But I sorta feel like I am cheating.

And what is up with the passive aggressive types who won't acknowledge that I need to share a lane with them and just keep flip turning away when they reach the end where I stand? I prefer to at least check in with them to make sure we are either each taking a side or swimming in a circle. So chica, you can stop for two seconds to acknowledge me! Because that same type gets mad when you start swimming in their lane and they bump into you because they are swimming down the middle.

I was this close to smacking her in the head with one of my flippers, but another lane opened up, so she was spared my wrath.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Give me a D! Give me an N! Give me an F!

So today was the Great Ames Adventure Race. Kori and I decided to do this as a two person team, as neither of us thought we were good enough at paddling to paddle alone. So in that configuration, we both did the 3 mile paddle/15 mile bike/5k and they averaged our time together.

Because both of us are obsessive souls, we got to the lake at 6am sharp, when check in officially started. We snagged what we thought was the best place in transition for our bikes. And we snagged a good spot in the boat lineup, so that we got to go in the third wave of five boats.

There were 130 something people registered, distributed between solo to four person teams. I checked the list at check in and saw that there were only three other two woman teams.

Hmmm, the odds are looking better than they did before... They only gave one prize in each division, so I noted the team numbers we needed to keep our eyes on.

The Paddle
One of the other two woman teams ended up starting in our wave. After we got lined up they sent us on our way. We spent the entire time trying to catch that boat, to no avail. They were never that far ahead of us, but we could never catch them, even after the guys dressed as Vikings accidentally rammed their boat. The Vikings apparently were too busy singing to steer straight.

I was up front "power" stroking and Kori manned the steering position. I'll admit that I need to work on my trust issues - I would always freak out when we got close to a buoy, since I thought we would miss it, but Kori hit every one like a pro.

We got passed by quite a few boats and passed maybe one person on the paddle. I think we might have some technique issues as we totally should have been able to chase down the two women ahead of us.

Oh well.

We got out, dragged our boat on shore and then ran for the transition area.

Time: ~35 minutes (I didn't check my watch the entire time so the times are based on what Kori told me)

The Bike
Kori transitioned like a pro, even with having to put on her new bike shoes, which she has had all of three days. I left transition a little behind her.

Those clipless pedals have made her a total speed demon. I was not very far behind her at all, but I didn't catch her until the top of the first hill.

We got to the top and Kori went to change into a harder gear and I heard the grinding. She dropped her chain the other night so I was thinking "Uh-oh!" but I kept going since I figured if they average out times, I should try to come in as fast as possible. So I left Kori, hoping she got her chain fixed up. After passing her, I quickly took down the two girls in our canoe wave.

The bike was good. I got passed by a fair amount of people, but no women, and I passed a fair amount of people myself. I kept leapfrogging with one guy with an ISU Cycling jersey on and that made me feel good that I could keep up with him (his team ended up winning the two man team category). I had ridden the route a couple of times, so I knew when to hold back a little and when to push. I wish my seat had been comfier as when we turned south into the wind, I had used up all the good will my seat was going to offer me and getting into aero hurt a lot. I think I got numb after a while.

The whole time I was a little worried about Kori and when I came back into transition I saw her sitting there next to her bike. I threw on my sneakers for the run; Kori ran with me and explained everything as I trotted along.

Time: ~53 minutes - 17 mph (~58 with the transitions - they didn't separate those times out)

The Run
So we started on our merry way. Like always, my legs just did their thing and I couldn't do anything about how fast they went. The ISU Cycling guy that I passed for the last time on the bike, just blew by me running about three minutes into my run.

Then Kori told me her story. Her chain dropped four times in the first two miles. At one of the intersections, one of the volunteers (who I know to be a knowledgeable cyclist in town) put it back on for her. She was determined to ride in the same gear the whole time if that is what it took. But her gears just locked. So she turned around and walked her bike back the two miles to the start.

In her socks, because of the bike shoes.

And all bloodied up on her knee, because as you can probably imagine, being preoccupied with her gears, she rolled to a stop and realized too late that she was clipped in still (everyone has to do that once, I think!)

I felt so bad for her! But anyways, she informed me that we were going to get a DNF, but that was okay. It did take a little of the competitive spirit out of me though. That 5k was pretty slow (except for the first mile, where my legs decided to run a 9:15 mile). There was a long big hill on it, which really wasn't as painful as it might seem (basically my legs were trashed by then already!) I got passed by several people, and passed no one, but what else is new? (thank goodness I pass a lot of people on the bike, or else my ego might be shattered :-))

Time: ~32 minutes

Total time: 2:05

Even though we DNFed, I had a fun time still. And great practice for our next adventure.

The winning two woman team (who started behind us) came in at 1:57, so we weren't even close (well, we were close enough that we totally plan on cutting 9 minutes off our time next year!)

I think I need a nap now.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Six in one, half dozen the other...

So 8 days until I need to send in a check and we are halfway there with the Great River Relay team! I am not too concerned, as these things come together pretty quickly once they start coming. Al, Shaun, and I are the repeats so far from last year. We also have Kori, my friend Nisha who I was in the Peace Corps with, and Laurie, who gave me a check last night while being a bad influence on me (2am on a Wednesday evening! I generally don't roll like that :-)).

So halfway there! Three more before the 15th would be very nice...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

We don't know how to canoe, really.

That's what Kori and I decided our team name for the Great Ames Adventure Race is going to be.

Because we definitely don't have skillz with the canoe. But we are much better with that than the kayak, so the GAAR is a go! We have connections so hopefully we will get an early start, so even if we are the slowest, we won't come in last during the race (in the official results, that's another story :-)).

At least we can steer a canoe okay so we won't miss the buoys.

And I rode the bike route again last night and I was able to do it on a bike I was testing out, without my clipless pedals and aero bars in 55 minutes (it's 15 miles). I hope during the race to be able to do the same pace as the Siouxperman (~17.5 mph) which is about 51-52 minutes.

And I am going to need to get ahead on the bike, because running these days? Not so fun. Today I did 5 miles and lumbered along at a 11 minute mile. I am hoping the race atmosphere will allow me to pick it up a bit! When did running get to be so hard? And did I really sign up to run another marathon in 4 months?

The best part about my run today was that about a third of a mile from the end, "Couch Potato" by Weird Al came on the ipod. That's a spoof of Lose Yourself by Eminem. And that is just a great running song and it makes me laugh and happy and I ran the rest of the way at sub-nine minute mile pace.

Less than two weeks until I need to register for the Great River Relay! So if you want to run, send me money!