Saturday, May 31, 2008

I think I may have chafed my legs off.

...or how I ran funny for the second half of Dam to Dam...

...or how Bonnie Tyler was the bookends of my race experience...

Today was the Dam to Dam 20k, which was the first distance race I ever did, back in 2005. Back then it took me 2:17. Then the next year, I was training for Grandma's and it took me 2:08. This year the training hasn't been so stellar, so I wasn't expecting a PR (this is good for me and my must-PR mentality). Of course, I was also thinking "Gees, I PRed at the Phoenix half and I only ran 9 times in the two months before." But I pretty much kept my expectations open for this. I did two ten milers before the race, but I was dead at the end of both of them, so I figured 12.4 miles wasn't going to be a walk in the park.

Anyway, I should start this off by saying that I had some visitors in the form of Krissy and her friend Zack. With Dam to Dam you have to pick up your packet on the day before, which can be a bummer for out of town people because it means they have to stay in the area the night of the race. So since Krissy is also a po' ass grad student (just at the other university in Iowa), she crashed at my place in Ames. Yay for the blog world where you find free places to stay with strangers! And now I have a place to stay for Lake Geode. Although I was mildly offput by the fact that our dog decided to sleep with them in the living room instead of with me. Gees, he's such a little dog-slut.

Anyway, there was a chance they weren't even going to make it to Ames because we got like 5 inches of rain on Thursday night and all but one road into the city was underwater (this is from one of the main streets in town):
It was pretty crazy. Fortunately our little house is on a hill, so we stayed dry. But we were actually a little worried that the river would rise and block off the remaining egress from Ames, but it fortunately stayed low enough.

So we drove down to the race finish and elbowed our way onto one of the buses to the start. Someone asked the bus driver to turn on the radio and my chronic singer-alonger tendencies emerged when Total Eclipse of the Heart came on. The best part was that some dude sitting a few rows ahead of me was totally busting out to Bonnie Tyler. I wanted to go sit with him so I would have someone to sing along with.

Anyway, we got to the start, I learned that in New Mexico that portapotties are called Honey Buckets, and then we crowded on the dam. The biggest pain about this race is that despite 5000 runners that all have to start in a confined area on a dam, they still don't do chip timing. So you lose several minutes walking in a crowd to the starting line, so official times are always slow compared to actual running times. Krissy, Zach, and I lined up and finally we got going.

There are so many people there that I just started running and I lost Krissy and Zach in the midst of all the people pretty fast. That's okay - we were all being ipod zombies anyway :-) The first six miles were good - I came in at exactly an hour. Mile 7 wasn't so bad, but then there is the hill. The hill that killed me the first year, that I bounded up the second year, and that hurt this year. Kori was behind me at the start and she caught me on the hill, but I can't keep up with her uphill, so I let her blow by me. About mile 7 was also where I started to notice my shorts rubbing mighty uncomfortably, despite the liberal amounts of body glide I applied.

From that hill on, it was rough. My lack of training was very evident. I started shuffling. I am pretty sure I dropped to about 11 minute miles at this point (I stopped looking at my Garmin). It was getting hot too. With our mild spring, I am so not used to running in warm weather. As always seems to happen with this race, my mind starts to get a little fuzzy at mile 10ish.

Then Bonnie Tyler saved the day again. At about mile 11, Holding Out For A Hero came on the ipod. Oh yes, not only did I pick up the speed, I passed people while singing out loud. After cranking that up, I hit back on my ipod to Crystal Frontier by Calexico and Jolene by Dolly Parton, totally awesome running songs IMHO. I would like to say they caused me to run 9 min miles to the end, but alas that was not the case. I did pick my feet up a bit during them though. But I really had nothing left at the end. I couldn't even sprint much to the end.

I came in at 2:13 clock time, but more like 2:09 watch time, for a 10:24 pace or so. Not awesome, but considering my training, not so bad either. My run in Phoenix was in perfect running conditions, so I am not surprised I managed to PR. Oh yeah, and some lady tried to sprint past me at the end but she didn't make it but she ran right past me after the finish line in the chute and I had to put that beyotch in her place (because they had to take the tags off our numbers in the correct order). Gees people, common race etiquette here!

Lessons learned:
* I should probably be doing more 6-9 mile runs during the week. Not 3-6 mile runs and one long run (9-12 miles) on the weekend.
* I can barely walk due to shorts chafing. These shorts have served me so well! Why now do they suck?! Maybe I need a baby Body Glide to carry with me on long runs. Seriously, I can barely walk right now.
* Do you think if I feather my hair like Bonnie that I might run faster?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

So much fun to not run alone

On Saturday, I did my "long" run (6 mi) for DC Fit by myself on the trail -- I seem to fall somewhere in between the fast kids, running around 8:30/mi, and the next big group, who fall in the 9:30-9:45/mi range (there are a few stragglers in between there, but so far, most of them have been stubborn enough to try to run with the fast kids, and then have to walk after the first 2 or 3 miles because they came out too fast). I had a pretty good run, doing the 6 miles in 54:25, and at the end, I didn't feel like hell, which is an added bonus. After the run, I was talking to someone who ran with Fast Girl that I ran with for part of the previous week. As we were talking, she commented she couldn't keep up with Fast Girl, especially as the runs get longer, but she has real trouble trying to pace herself.

As it turns out, she lives half a mile from my office, so we decided to try running this week after work one day to see how it felt when we paced ourselves (mostly meaning she slowed down a bit to run with me at my normalish training pace, which for now is somewhere in the 9:00-9:15/mi range). Today, we did a timed run, 55 min. We mapped it when we got done, and it was 6 miles on the nose. We had a lot of fun during the run, since we both usually run alone, and at the end, we weren't tired, either, which was an added bonus. After today's really good and fun run, it looks like we're going to start trying to run together once or twice a week during the week, plus the Saturday runs, too.

I'm pretty excited about the prospect of not going through the summer and this training program running by myself most of the time.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Taking her out for her first ride...

So yesterday I killed two birds with one stone - taking the new bike out for the first time AND getting in my first open water swim of the year.

The coach for the ISU tri club also coaches the TRI Racers in Ankeny and he was organizing an open water swim clinic. The plan was to meet at the Ankeny Y and ride the 13 miles to the lake, swim, and then ride back.

I ended up going down with two other grad students in the tri club - the totally weird thing is that one of them is another PhD student in my department and has been for two years and I totally didn't know him at all. I talk to random people all the time and there are not a ton of PhD students in my department, so this just perplexes me that we haven't met before.

As evidence of my talking to random people, I knew the other grad student from... the bus. Yes, I'm that girl on the bus who will talk to you when all you want to do is stare out the window. In randomness, we have led oddly parallel lives - we're both East Coasters, went to all girls Catholic schools of the Ursuline variety, did the Ivy League thing, then somehow ended up in Iowa for our PhDs, and both study water. Seriously.

Anyway, back to training. So we showed up at the Ankeny Y and about 5 people said "that's a nice bike." Which, of course, made me feel like I needed to represent. Gees, you can't be slow on a nice bike! This is a lot of pressure people! Nobody expected anything out of Pepe Le Tour!

But let me tell you. She rides nice. I can feel the difference that the tri bike angles make. I feel like my hip flexors are working a lot less and that it is easier to do nice full circular leg strokes. Also, have I mentioned how comfortable it is to stay in aero? Well, except for when we had that bitch of a crosswind - I thought I was going to get blown over. But straight into the wind, I felt like there was a definite advantage as well. Or maybe I am just making that all up in my head so I feel better about shelling out almost a month's salary on a bike.

Now the OWS... We actually had a really hot day yesterday. But it hasn't been warm in general. So that lake was chilly! My lake in Ames is about 66 at the surface, so this probably wasn't too far off. Most people had wetsuits. I have not made this purchase yet and I am not sure if I ever will. It seems like I would be paying for the humiliation and torture of squeezing myself into neoprene.

A secondary reason why I am avoiding the wetsuit is that I am afraid that I might feel the need to strike a pose like these people.

I procrastinated getting in the water for a long long time. But I finally just jumped in and dodged around floating goose poop and started swimming. The strong winds across the lake made it very choppy and I probably have E. coli now from the large quantities of lake water I swallowed.

I totally needed this though. I have done almost zero non-running training since Siouxperman. And Lake Geode is coming up on July 12th! I need to get back on the bike and in the water. Oh and I met a fellow blogger, who is with the TRI Racers. Yay for bloggy meetups!

But I was unsuccessful in my secondary goal of trying to snag more runners for the relay. I actually talked to several people who were interested, but were either running injured (they could bike and swim but couldn't run) or were busy that weekend (how come the whole world is getting married that weekend?!)

How come the last two people are always the hardest to find?

Oh yeah, I was successful in getting a tri top tramp stamp though...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Driving the Bike to Bike the Drive

In Chicago any random scruffy dude can show up at Critical Mass with a map and cause some particular winding route through the city to be taken over by bikes. You know, a sort of of the cyclists, by the cyclists, and for the cyclists thing. But it takes the alliance of state and corporate power to fill the city's most famous street with bikes. Well, maybe. I don't know if any random dude has tried. I don't know if any random dude has wanted to die that badly.

Bank of America, however, does want to die that badly, so they've sponsored this brilliant event. Very early Sunday morning the police block off Lake Shore Drive and At the crack of dawn cyclists begin to congregate downtown and are funneled through big inflatable starting gates to turn left or right, north or south. They ride 7.5 miles in that direction (the extent of Lake Shore Drive), turn around according to a marked pattern, ride back, and optionally continue on to the other side of the city.

Since I didn't sleep last night and I need to do that now, I'll just mention a few things. First, I have this problem. This problem with going all-out in non-competitive events. Because of my lack of sleep I decided to just do one full loop for 30 miles, and to take it easy. Unfortunately I got caught up with a pack of fast riders and rode really fast. I hurt. Also, I ran into Danielle's bike's husband. It was suitably awkward. And now to sleep through the middle of the day!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Random notes.

* It's been a busy week past week and a half.

* I lugged my running shoes to two different states and did not touch them.

* That's dedication for you.

* Oceanographers drink a lot.

* The head of Nortek looks uncannily like John Edwards, if he had a slight Norwegian accent.

* Unlike some people, I apparently am all about the random hookup.

* Even if she did have a flat when I got her home.

* Seriously though, one day when I was fantasizing about a new bike, I actually had researched my new purchase before.

* So when I walked in and it was sale, I decided it was meant to be.

* Of course, when I went to the store after doing a ten mile run that morning, I was in my running shorts and my legs were really not in any state to test drive a bike, but I still took her out for a ten mile ride before I bought her and it was nice to be so comfy in aero!

* And she's blue!

* But besides for security, I have to hide her in the basement since my neighbor works for the other bike store in town and I am slightly ashamed I cheated on my regular LBS with this purchase.

* Dam to Dam is going to hurt.

* I still need two more runners for our relay team!!!!!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Most ridiculous impulse buy ever

Today, I went into my LBS to buy this for my bike rack (it's a nut that goes on the skewer that goes through where the front wheel goes through - it vibrated off):

In addition to the nut, I also walked out with this:

In good news, they gave me the nut for free.

Interesting day with the running group

Today was the first day of "regular" running with DC Fit. During this past week, I convinced my sister to join. She decided to try running this year, and wants to do a half marathon this fall. She also realized she'd never do it by herself as she doesn't like running very much yet, and doesn't have the discipline to train for 5 months without help.

When we got there, she was wandering around meeting the people in her pace group, I saw her talking with a girl I talked with a bit last week. Turns out my sister knew her; she is married to the son of a friend of our father's from college (ok, that is really unreadable -- our father has a friend he met in college; that guy has a son who got married last year to this girl). Anyway, I didn't know who this girl was when we met and talked last week (I didn't attend the wedding, but my sister did). Out on the run today, I passed her. As I passed her, she yells after me, "Wait, you're Sherri's brother, right?" "Um, yeah." "I'm Kevin Sherry's wife! I didn't realize it was you when we were talking last week." (and here you see why my father and my father's friend wanted my sister and his son to marry -- she'd be Sherri Sherry)

The coaches were screwing with the pace groups today, so they ended up combining the advanced (sub-8 minute/mi) with the intermediate (8-9:30/mi), but gave the group to the advanced coach. For some reason, DC Fit has different pace groups running different distances, which part of me gets and part of me doesn't (slower runners may be newer and not as in running shape as faster runners, but everyone still has to run 13 or 26 miles at the race on the same day). The advanced coach thought we were running the advanced schedule, though most of us expected had been going off the intermediate schedule. Granted, the advanced was a 6 mile run and the intermediate was a 5 mile, so it's not a big difference, but it lent itself to an air of confusion.

I was chatting with a group of people in my group, so when we started out, I took off with them. As soon as we set out, I realized they were faster than me -- I am hoping to work through at least the early part of training at a 9/9:15ish pace. When we reached the turnaround at 2.5 miles, we were at 8:40 pace. I let them go and ran a little slower on the way back. I still finished in a bit under 45 minutes, so I ran a pretty decent 5 miles for me, and felt pretty good at the end, but 8:45 is a pace I can't sustain right now. I was having fun meeting some of the people I'll be spending my Saturday mornings with for the next 5 months, so it was still a good thing.

Ok, I now need to go finish packing, because I leave for the airport in about an hour. While I will be spending most of the next week at a workshop for work, tomorrow, I am going to be here:

Multnomah Falls

I'm bringing my running shoes on the trip, so hopefully I'll get a chance to get away from the work stuff a bit and get out on the road. Happy trails!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More Procrastination/Heading South

This about sums up where I am today:
Part of my current state is because I had to get a ten mile run in last night.

After spending an entire day in the field, I was tired, so it hurt.

Dam to Dam is going to be rough, but I'll get 'er done.

But no time to think about that now - I have two conferences to go to in the next 8 days, one in Mississippi and one in South Carolina.

I'm pretty sure everyone is going to hate me down there because I talk too fast.

The running shoes are going in the suitcase and I intend to use them for real this time!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

First day o' DC Fit

Today was the first day of DC Fit. Well, technically, it was the second day, but they did the same thing the first two sessions, which is introduce the instructors, give the ridiculously long intro shpeil, and do time trials to place everyone in pace groups.

A friend of mine went last week and said that the guy talked for almost an hour and a half, so when I woke up this morning and it was raining out, I was really not psyched at the prospect of standing in the rain while the director did his talk thing, and kind of hoped he'd just let us run and do it next week. Alas, 'twas not to be, and we stood in the cold rain for about 80 minutes before running.

I was impressed that about 20 people showed up today in the crappy weather, almost all of whom were not there last week. I think there's going to be a pretty decent sized group, though I guess I won't really know for sure until the next weeks when everyone starts coming for runs.

They place us in pace groups based on a comfortable 3 mile run time. I did mine in 27 minutes, which puts me square in the middle of the 8-9:30/mi group, about where I expected to be.

I was talking to the one of the coaches after the run, and was telling him about the relays. He had not heard of them, but he seemed really intrigued. He said the idea reminded him of a high school long weekend road trip, which was kind of an odd comparison to me, since I never did anything like that in high school.

So anyway, so far, I think this looks like it'll be good. It'll be nice to have a running/support group as I train for my first marathon, and DC Fit partnered with my local running shop, so we get 15% discounts on everything we buy there.

Fitting that I am writing this post while procrastinating...

I have to write a book report. It was due in May 2007. That incomplete is going to turn into an F. Yet, I can't bring myself to write it. The name of the book is called "They're not dumb, they're different." I would like to say it is a book about special ed or something, but the "they" that is being referred to is actually...

wait for it...


For real. It's a book about how scientists tend to teach science in a way that seems logical to them, but we alienate wide swaths of the population who think differently than us, but are still capable of doing science (and apparently we need more scientists, so this alienation is a bad thing). I mean, how many digits of pi do we really need to know?Anyway, all that is beside the point (except to note that it appears we will run again under Dr. Peter Venkman's quote "Back off man, I'm a scientist.")

I mostly just wanted to welcome Meg to our little team here. Her blog is named Project Procrastination, which means she'll totally fit right in. She also has a Dr. in front of her name, one less kidney than the rest of us, and the title of Ironman.

We are still down three people though! I have people on the burners but they haven't been able to confirm that they can get work off yet, so I am still looking for whoever is up for a weekend of running! Anyone? Anyone? We'll only make you memorize pi out to the first five digits. I swear!

In world travel news, I may have to cancel my trip to Norway to make a last minute trip to Uganda. I would much rather be running a half-marathon in the midnight sun than melting in the equator sun (been there, done that), but there is a SNAFU with a project we are working on there and somehow I ended up being the person who is in charge of trying to fix it.

Just to make myself feel better:Okay, now I am going to write a compelling book report about all the "special" people.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Game on! Er, again!

So before the race last weekend I was planning on doing the Lake Geode Olympic Distance Tri in July. Then I got annoyed about my bike from the race and got mopey and decided I was just going to run this summer (yeah, I'm a real go getter!)

Part of this was because I couldn't convince anyone to do Lake Geode with me and god forbid I do a triathlon alone! Then Krissy and I were talking and she's doing Lake Geode and then I felt like a wuss for backing out of my original plans solely because of a bad race, so...

I'm all signed up! No backing out now. And I am coming close to convincing Kori to do it too. She is afraid of the bike, but two weeks after the race we have to ride our bikes like 180 miles from the Missouri River to Ames in three days of RAGBRAI. So seriously - 25 miles should be nothing!

This course is supposed to be hilly... Hills I'll take! Just no wind thank you! I may try and go out and ride the course ahead of time, just to feel more comfortable with it. On the downside, since Big Creek was flat and fast on the bike, I don't think I'll be able to PR on this race.

Apparently somewhere in my brain I believe it is unacceptable to even bother racing if I am not going to PR (because hey, I can run or bike or whatever on my own so why pay money?). This is not unrelated to my feelings about Saturday. So perhaps this is the year to get over that...

So long as I still PR at Milwaukee Marathon in October...

Yes, there is a new game plan. Train for Lake Geode and then drop back on the cross-training and focus on running so I can train for another marathon. Of course, my plantar fasciitis might have other things to say about this. Which is why I don't plan on signing up for anything until July. But last night Kori and I had a great 6 mile run @ 9:40 pace, which is totally awesome for me and I felt great the entire time, despite the fact I inadvertently picked a superhilly course. So I'm excited to run again and be dedicated to it!

In the one bright spot from Saturday, I came in 2nd in my age group for T1. Go me!

We won't mention the fact that this entirely had to do with not putting on my bike shoes until after transition because the floor was so slippery... Little victories people!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Faster than a speeding bullet!

Or not.

My goal for this race was to beat my time from last year.

On Friday, Kecia, Kirsten, and I drove out to western Iowa to do the Siouxperman. Kori was supposed to come but got really sick on Friday and had to bail. We were all sad she missed out! (I just want to note here that Kimberly is my other running partner - we kid about changing my name to Kanielle).

The drive out was rainy and windy. I used my new rooftop rack for the first time and I was paranoid the wind was going to blow the bikes off (even though that would be physically impossible). We got to Sioux Center and got our packets and unloaded our bikes and all we could do was look at each other and go "This is crazy." It was somewhere in the 40s, with blustery winds and pelting rain. All night at the hotel the wind was roaring outside my window.

So even though the weather forecast predicted it, it was a pleasant surprise to wake up Saturday morning and have it be a gorgeous sunny day.

At least from the confines of the hotel room.

In reality, it was sunny, but about 30 degrees and 20+ mph winds.

But in a nice change of pace, transition didn't close until 9:30, so we totally got to sleep in. And because they started people in order of swim speed, we all had late-ish starts between 11 and 11:15. So the day did warm up a little by then to the mid-40s, but the wind was still howling.


As our time approached we got in line (they started swimmers every 20 seconds). I put 7:30 for my swim time for 300 m. There was almost no time between the person ahead of you leaving and starting by the time you got in the pool. Sooo, completely forgot to start my watch. Doh! So off I went. And like last year, about halfway through the pool I got caught. By a breast stroker. Seriously! How slow can I be?! This turned out to be okay because I swam the rest of the way in her wake, right on her tail. Why don't I swim in wakes more often? The swim felt supereasy doing that. In fact, I got frustrated because I felt like I was going too slow because I wasn't out of breath really. On the last lap I tried to repass her but I could just not do it. So I just settled in and followed her out of the pool.

The swim time was something like 7:20 (sorta forgot to look and that was when I noticed my watch wasn't started). That was the easiest 7:20 I ever swim! There was a long ass run outside back into transition (where the mat was) - while we were waiting to start we would watch people leave the building and start sprinting their asses off because it was so cold and they were running soaking wet and barefoot on cold pavement.

Apparently the timing mats were messed up, because it says I did the swim in 76:48. After some figuring, I realized this was my combined swim/T1/bike time.

I got to transition and threw on some fleece pants and a fleece shirt over my wet clothes and hopped on my bike. That sounds a lot faster than it was. I would not be surprised if I spent five minutes in transition, but due to the timing mats, I have no clue.


I head out and I am cruising at 20 mph or so. Then we turn North for the long leg of the ride. The weather from yesterday says that during that time, there were 20 mph winds with 30 mph gusts coming out of the Northwest. After the turn, it was as if a wall of wind just hit you and did not relent. It did not blowing the entire time. Combine that with the hills and everyone pretty much said they were spinning in their lowest gears, even downhill, and were excited to break 8 mph. I had to turn my tire to the left to keep from being blown over. It took me almost 40 minutes to get to the half way point of the 15.5 mile ride - my average was 12 mph, mostly due to the speed for the first couple of miles before the turn (since I most definitely did not average that after we turned).

When the halfway point came, it was pure bliss. Immediately I was effortlessly going 25 mph and hitting 30 in several spots. Biking was fun again. Wheeee! I wanted to reassure everyone I was passing who was coming into the turnaround that it was heavenly. I had my bike in its highest gear for most of this portion.

Then... we turned back west and then north again for a couple of miles to get back to the transition. And it was just as bad as before. I made it back to transition in about 25 minutes (compared to 40 on the way out). Again, I don't have an official breakdown because of the mats, but 1:05 roughly seems about right based on glances at my watch.

This was so frustrating. Last year I did this course 10 minutes faster. I know it was because of the wind and everyone was suffering, but it completely kept me from doing my thang on the bike. I'm all about the bike! That's where I get my leg up in these things. I'm good at the power involved and keeping up a good cadence in a high gear. But the wind just wasn't going to allow that. When you are pedaling at the bottom of your ring like everyone else, there is little advantage to be gained! I mean the winners in my age group did the bike this year in the time I did it last year. There was no way I was going to do the same! And I did pass a heck of a lot more people than passed me. There's always that.

Anyway, total swim/T1/bike time was 76:48. which is 11 minutes off last year, which was good enough for 11/34 in my age group for that portion of the race, so I guess I shouldn't whine that much.


So by the time I got off the bike, I didn't really care how I did anymore. I knew I couldn't beat my time from last year so I sorta gave up. Interestingly, because my bike consisted of a lot of low level spinning, my legs were actually pretty good for the run. And I actually passed people. That never happens. I just ran it out and actually came in faster than last year on the run at 29:58 for the 5k (22/34).

So overall, I came in at 1:48:03, good for 16/34 in my age group and 38/95 for women.

I'm not going to lie. It was discouraging. And it is making me rethink my summer triathlon plans. I hate that I lose so much position on the run. So maybe I should go back to basics and focus on running again? That's how I feel right now.

Or maybe I am just a whiner who needs to HTFU and go find some wind to ride her bike into more often.

In other news, both the bikes and my duck taped side mirror stayed on the entire ride back. Score!

Thursday, May 01, 2008


So we are in desperate need of some chicks to run Madison to Chicago with us. Anyone I haven't bothered already who is game? In the past two years we have had girl loaded teams - this year apparently the boys are steppin' up to the plate. But that means if we have one more guy, we become a men's team. That's not the end of the world or anything, but it wouldn't be as fun to compete against all boy teams. I'm giving it until May 6th, then I'm calling in the backup boys.

In other girl related news, I am going to a conference in Mississippi in May (where I'll probably be one of few girls actually). The conference is in Vicksburg, which is a little bit away from the airport and there is no airport shuttle so I need to get a taxi. From one of the organizers:

"The cheapest I have found is a limo service called Go-Fer Girls (really), and it will be $70. (They are a legitimate business.)"

I'm going to love turning in that receipt.

And in completely other news, I have done barely anything this week. I like to consider it resting up. Weather forecast for the Siouxperman on Saturday? Rain/Snow/Wind. Good times!