Sunday, October 19, 2008

Marathon Training

I had intended to concentrate my training this weekend on the Richmond Half-Marathon, which is 4 weeks away. However, I’d promised a friend that I’d go with her to an indoor cycling class at her fitness center on Sat. morning, so I met her there at 7:45 a.m. and we cycled until 10:15 a.m. I enjoyed the class, as indoor cycling is one of my favorite activities. The instructor was very good, too, so I felt like I’d had a challenging ride.

I came home to do my usual weekly “clean up after the cats” chores, and then I decided to go for a swim at the Tuckahoe YMCA. (The JCC was closed for maintenance, so members were allowed to use the Y, and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity). After doing 1,000 meters, I went to Baskin-Robbins for a chocolate ice cream cone. I recently learned chocolate milk was a good recovery drink; I don’t drink milk (never have, even as a child), but I’m quite fond of ice cream, so I figured a chocolate cone was an acceptable substitute. Of course, since I was at the mall, I had to check out the sales. Then I had to go to another mall to hunt down a sweater to match the skirt I’d bought. A stop for groceries completed my day. I considered staying up to watch SP on SNL, but since I was meeting T&B early on Sunday for a trail run, I opted for sleep instead.

Sun. morning we did almost 10 miles on the trails at Pocahontas SP. It was a great day until about mile 8.8, when I tripped and fell flat on my face. Fortunately, the only damage was a scratched check and badly bent glasses. Our time for the whole run was about 3 hours. Since that’s my approximate time for the Half, I’m hoping 10 miles on trails will prove to be good training for 13 miles on streets.

IM Envy

Several TGs I know are preparing to do an Ironman soon and others are thinking about doing one next year. I admire their determination and ability to achieve this goal. I wish I were them. I wish I’d discovered triathlons when I was younger, when the possibility of doing an IM might have been feasible. I think I would have been physically stronger then, and more importantly, I would have been more confident about the outcome and more willing to risk participating. Now self-doubt tempers my IM desire – even with the best training in the world and perfect race conditions, how could I ever be fast enough to finish in the allotted time? And what if I seriously hurt myself trying? So I race vicariously as I follow the progress of my fellow IM-TGs, both in training and on the course. Even though I am not making their same journey, I’m glad to know them as they pursue their IM dream. I wish them smooth water, no headwind, and fleet feet.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Relay that Wasn’t

I was supposed to have done the Riverside Sprint on Oct. 12 as a relay with two co-workers. Runner developed some sort of upper respiratory problem on Thursday, but she assured us she would be fine by Sunday. Since she had been the impetus for forming the team, we hoped for the best and didn’t consider a back-up plan. But when she was not better by Saturday afternoon, she reluctantly withdrew from the race. I figured Biker and I could manage as a two-person team and that I would do the swim and run. When I called her Saturday evening to confirm this plan, though, she said she also wasn’t feeling well. (Did I really believe her? Well, maybe.) But now I had a problem.

Not doing the race wasn’t an option. Afterall, I’d stood in a long line at 3Sports for packet pick-up and had a half slice of pumpkin pound cake as part of my “carb loading” dinner. As I gathered my gear, I thought about what part/parts of the tri I might do – just swim, swim and bike, swim and run, or swim, bike and run. I wasn’t excited about the bike course, but I put my bike, helmet and shoes in the car anyway.

Sunday morning, after talking with the race director, I switched the entry from relay to age group. I set up my transition spot and headed to the pool, where I chatted with other TGs while waiting for my swim start.

The swim went okay. I might have shaved a few seconds off my time if I’d been able to heave myself out of the pool quicker, but I was close to my anticipated time. The lengthy run around the building from the pool to the transition area, as well as a little trouble with my bike, added to my transition time, but I was feeling strong as I began the bike leg. I fostered that feeling as long as I could because I knew the dreaded Winterfield hill loomed ahead. I passed a few riders, and was passed by a few more. (Personal pet peeve – riders who don’t bother to say “on your left.”) I survived the hill and the vehicle traffic on the course. Then it was on to the run. I felt like I was maintaining a decent pace, with minimum walking, while I was on the course, so I was surprised to discover when it was over that, in fact, this was my slowest tri run this year, and maybe slowest ever. But, no matter, I finished. The other two women who had registered in the age group didn’t show for the race, so I got a nice pint glass and a watch cap for my effort.

This was the third time I’ve done this particular sprint course. The first time, six years ago, was my first official triathlon (I’d done an unofficial one the year before somewhere else). I don’t recall my times for the event -- probably the whole thing took somewhere around 2 hours and 15-20 minutes, but I do remember having to walk my old bike up the Winterfield hill. The second time was four years ago. I was supposed to do it then as a relay, too, but my partner bowed out several weeks before the event, so I did it solo. Riding a different bike, I managed to get up the hill without walking, and I finished in 2:11:25. This year I was a few seconds faster in the swim and transitions, and about 8 minutes faster on the bike, but over 3 minutes slower on the run, for a total time of 2:06:37. Even though that’s a PR for the course, I’d liked to have had a better run time. But next year is another season, and I expect to “tri’ again.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Important Thing Is I Finished

Yesterday, Oct. 4, I did the Giant Acorn Sprint at Lake Anna. I will remember this event for two things. First, I had a hard time with the swim; so hard, in fact, that about 100 or so meters into it, I considered raising my hand and quitting. I decided to keep going to the first buoy, though. After a few minutes there trying to catch my breath, I headed for the next buoy. The swim didn’t get any easier, but I persevered. I don’t know why the swim was so difficult. I like to swim, and I’m fine in a pool. In past open water swims, it’s taken me some time to adjust to the cooler temperatures, but I was wearing a wetsuit at Lake Anna and really didn’t feel cold in the 74ยบ water. However, except for brief intervals, my breathing was ragged and my stroke floundered. I felt marginally better with my face out of the water, so I backstroked and sidestroked from buoy to buoy, and, eventually, I finished. My swim time was 26:58, many minutes slower than I’d expected, but I was so glad I’d gotten through it, it felt like a PR.

At T1, my left foot got stuck in my wetsuit, and my chain came off my bike when I lifted it off the rack, but I was still on track to finish well within the allotted time of 2½ hours.

The bike course was pleasant, at least until the end. At the 10-mile mark, I thought I was going to make or even beat my anticipated time. The last two miles, however, seemed to have an unexpected abundance of “rolling hills.” I would have known this if I hadn’t taken a wrong turn on the way to the marina and/or had driven the course before the race. Anyway, the terrain slowed my pace. Then, as I was coming into the marina, I encountered participants who’d already finished the race who were leaving with their bikes and gear, and spectators with dogs and children. I decided it would be safer to dismount early and walk my bike in than to try to ride through the crowd, which added a few more minutes to my bike leg.

T2 was uneventful, and I was off on the run. I soon suspected I was the last runner on the course, and by the turn-around point, I was sure of it. I’ve never been the last finisher before. But I was having a decent run – certainly better than my last two sprints, so I put aside my embarrassment at being last and concentrated on finishing strong. My time was 2:21:05, 20 minutes and 20 seconds behind the other woman in our age group.

Although I’m disappointed with my performance, I’m not totally disheartened. I didn’t quit. Some of the things that slowed me down might not happen again (of course, there are always unknown obstacles to overcome!), but they’re things I can aim to improve next year. And most important, I finished my fifth sprint for 2008 and secured my spot in the Setup Events awards.