Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hi. My name is Elaine. I'm a raceaholic.

The schedule keeps changing in that I keep adding races to the calendar. I don't know why. I think it is becoming a habit. Or I am crazy. Or both. Anyways, I have made some adjustments to the upcoming race calendar:

Feb 2 - AZ Trail Run
Feb 7 - MBAA #2 at McDowell
Feb 14-15 - 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo
Feb 21 - MBAA #3 at Estrella
Mar 1 - Marana Duathlon
Mar 8 - SAR Old Tucson trail run
Mar 14 - MBAA #4 at Gardner Canyon
Mar 29 - Tucson Tri

I decided to nix the Deser Classic Du on Feb 22. I want to race hard at the mountain bike races, and that will be a disaster if I do a Du the next day. Thankfully, there is another Du scheduled for 3/1 in Marana. This also helps to spread out the travel.

I had a gap on the weekend of 3/7 - 3/8. Like a crazy person, I go online and check the SAR website and oh lookie! A trail run race on 3/8 right where the gap is! Click! Entry form downloaded.

I don't have a problem. I can stop anytime.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Race summaries

Every weekend has a race, so I am falling behind in my blogging (as pointed out by Liane). So I shall provide a summary of each race so far.

Tour de Cookie
This race was on the Sunday after the Blue Pants Trail Run. Basically it was a scavenger hunt with cookies. Riders were given a map of a course and each stop along the way was a cookie stand where you could buy cookies. Riders could go as far as they wanted. It was crazy cold that morning, and for the first few miles we couldn't feel our hands or feet. Zac, Krista, TJ, and I stuck together in our own little group and hit most of the cookie stands. There were lots of stories, laughing, and signing at the top of our lungs. Everything from "Stray Cat Strut" to the Apollo College theme song. I also have a new appreciation for manholes (yes, exactly).

It was a very low-key event for us, more about having fun than focusing on max speed, cadence, or any of those other hard core bike training things. I rode my cyclocross bike with my trunk on the back so that I could pack my cookies with me. I also affixed a talking Cookie Monster to the front of my bike. If you tilted his head back he would say "Cookie!" "Meh!" and "Yawm yawm yawm!" So of course at each stop I had to make him talk for everyone. It was kind of funny because as we rode, each rough patch I hit made Cookie Monster talk.

I brought home a TON of cookies to be enjoyed after the race. This race is on the calendar for next year for sure!

MBAA Race #1 - White Tanks

I had no idea how to approach this race. Go out fast with the group and hang with them for as long as possible, or hang back and go out not as fast and catch up hoping to pass bikers that either had their bikes or lungs explode. When they said "go" the decision was made for me and I tried to hang with the pack. I haven't done a sprint mountain bike race in forever, but the point of this race and doing as many of the MBAA races as possible is to get faster on the trails. My wave (Wave 6) had to do 3 long loops. I didn't pre-ride the course as I figured that's what the first lap was for.

We started out on some rolling terrain, where I took the chance to pass as many people in my wave as possible. The front runners were gone, but my only goal was to not come in last in my age group. Oh, that's the other thing. My age group sucks. In mountain bike racing, I'm in the 19-39 age groupers. Liane is gloating that she's in 40+. With the 60 year olds. I keep reminding her about the "+" in her age group. Anyways, back to the race. We got into some rollers before the hike-a-bike section and my bike started to take on multiple personalities, deciding when to shift, which was never when I wanted to shift. Over the winter it got a full re-build, and of course new cables stretch within the first few rides. There was no way I was stopping to fix it and figured I'd just have to deal with the psycho bike.

The hike-a-bikes didn't give me much of a chance to rest. I felt redlined the entire time. I finally hit one last climb, then started a slight downhill back to the start/finish. I rolled past the s/f area in 45 minutes and had done 7 miles. The only thing I could think was that there was NO way I could do another 2 loops like that!

The second loop I got into the little kid wave, and let them know where I was going to pass. They would bonsai down the hills, then walk up the uphills. By this time, the faster waves were coming through, so I had to pass carefully.

The third lap I picked up some foreign object on my bike that made a horrible plinking sound with each turn of the wheel. I figured it was a piece of gravel, but I wasn't stopping to find out. I caught up to a girl in capris and she had a "6" on her leg, so I had to pass her! By this time, the teenage boys came through, so I used them to put as much distance between me and her. I noticed there was one girl stalking me, walking when I walked and riding when I rode. I just KNEW she had a 6 on her leg. As we crested the top of the last hill, I threw it into the big ring even though my legs were doing the wet noodle thing. I could hear Coach Troy screaming "Spin! Spin!" (not the real Coach Troy, the video one) and I pushed it as hard as I could. Then I hear the dreadful "On your left" and sure enough, the stalker passed by with a 6 on her leg. It was honestly the fastest I could go. I biked as hard as I could all the way to the end and finished 10 seconds behind the stalker. But, it was good enough for 5th place! (Out of 9, yeah!) I waited for the others to finish their races, collected my bling, and proceeded to die 5 times over on the ride home. I've never been more wasted from a race. And there are how many more of these left?!?

On the box!

The source of the plinking was discovered when we got home.

Blue Pants Winter Trail Race #2

I left for this race in the dark and proceeded to drive through the clouds that had descended upon Tucson. I figured once the sun came up the fog would disappear. But when I got to the trailhead the sun had started to come up and the fog was thicker. Trail Race #2 was at the 36th street entrance to Starr Pass. I have ridden several of the trails in Starr Pass, but not this one. There were about 20 racers or so, and we all hit the singletrack at the same time. For awhile it was like playing the whip game that you play in 3rd grade. After awhile the group thinned out. I was drenched in condensation and sweat, which caused my glasses to fog up like mad. I kept taking them off to try to wipe them clear enough to see but it really didn't help. I tripped twice but pulled out the crash and avoided going down. We finally hit the intersection of the Yetman trail and at this point I knew where I was. We climbed up Yetman and I realized it is so much easier to bike the trails versus running them. We took a side trail down to the housing division, and turned at Lot 27 to start a steep and rocky climb up to the stone house. By this time the fog had cleared. It was a crazy fast downhill to the finish. I rolled my left ankle a bit on this descent but was able to keep running. I crossed the finish area and stopped my Garmin. I averaged 11:28 min/mile. I would be SO happy to run that at Deuces Wild this year! So I will need to keep up with the trail running.

The 36th street trailhead gets trashed from wildcat dumpers, so all the racers did some trail clean-up and picked up trash after the race. A few people from the neighborhood association stopped by to say thanks, as they are usually the ones to clean up the mess from the idiots that dump trash at the trail. I thought the cleanup was a great idea. Do a trail run and then do a cleanup right after.

Speaking of trail runs, the next trail run race is the Fleet Feet AZ Trail race on 2/1. And of course I'm running in it. ;)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Blue Pants Winter Trail Run Race #1 - Wild Burro Trail

The Wild Burro Trail is a 10 mile long trail in the Tortolita mountains. I have never been there, since it's on the opposite side of the earth from my house. But I wanted to do some of the Blue Pants Racing winter trail runs to help improve my trail running. So Saturday morning I got in my car and drove away on a very calm morning. When I turned onto Oracle it became a bit breezy, and by the time I made it to the trailhead at Dove Mountain, it was downright gusty and cold. I ran to the registration table and grabbed my shirt and number, and went right back to the car to take shelter. Everyone else in the parking lot was doing the same.

The windy conditions really messed up my wardrobe choice. I decided to go with my TTG tank top, TTG jacket over that, and a wind breaker over that. A little before 8 AM everyone left the comfort and shelter of their vehicles and strolled a short distance to the start. Laszlo tried to count everyone, then decided to just let us all go. So we were off heading down some trail around some mountains I had never been to.

I tried to stay with the pack for as long as possible. The first 1.6 miles were decent trail, nice and smooth and flat. Then that changed when we started climbing mountains. And I mean really climbing. There were a ton of switchbacks and steep sections around boulders where I was using my hands to get up the rocks. I figured hiking the technical sections justified walking, but I couldn't really count it as a walk break since the hiking was keeping my heart rate just as high. Granted, I don't wear a HR monitor, but I think when you can feel your heart pounding in your throat that counts as high. I got warm and my long-sleeved layers ended up in a mess of laundry tied around my waist. The wind had stopped at this point, so I was wishing I had one less layer to deal with. Oh well.

We climbed, and climbed, and climbed. Most of the group was gone, and I ended up leap-frogging 2 girls that were staying together. They were slightly faster when they were running, which was a very small amount of time for much of the trail. I hit the first water station, which was a nice little sign with water bottles under it and 2 plastic bowls of Snicker bars. Snicker bars? Now we're talking! No Gu, no Shot bloks, just Snickers. I took 2 and pocketed them. You never know when chocolate will come in handy.

About this time a gal named Jen caught up to me. We had been pretty close to each other the entire race, and decided to stick together for the rest of the run. Besides, we were now out on the furthest part of the trail. There was a great view of Tucson and all, but I had no idea where my car was other than it wasn't on the mountain we were climbing. It's always hard to tell in running races who you can talk to. Some folks put on the tunes and tune out. Thankfully Jen was a talker, so we talked and ran and searched for the trail. For the most part it was easy to follow, but in a few spots where washes or rocks were, it was tricky to spot the exact turn to make. Plus, the talking helped to take my mind off of the mileage.

The trail run pretty much climbed the first 5 miles, and then decended the next 5. Descending hurt just as bad, and was tough to do in some of the steep boulder sections. At one point we lost the trail for a bit, but turned around and tried other options and finally found it. Not far after that was a second water station with volunteers. Even though I had water with me, I partook of the water they had since they hauled it all the way out there. I also downed one of my Snicker bars. Chocolate makes me happy. Forget that my legs are screaming in pain and are about to fall off. I have my chocolate. Yummy.

We were in a wash at this point, so we were able to run somewhat quickly. I was just happy to be done with the mountains. I told Jen that if she wasn't there with me, I would probably be walking. She agreed. Always good to have someone there to push you. We came up on a volunteer that was walking with a lady that had her hand wrapped up. She had fallen early on and dislocated a finger, but appeared to be in good spirits about it and was just about done with the trail. I think that was the only major injury of the whole race, which is amazing given how steep and rocky it was. We rounded a corner and found a group hanging out at a table. Turns out that was the finish! Laszlo punched in our times on his Blackberry and we were done. Lots of goodies were available on the table, so we had a quick snack and headed back to the parking lot.

I finished the 10 miles in 2:28, which was just under a 15 min/mile average pace. Given how tough the trail was, I was happy with that. I tend to do the first mile on the Deuces Wild XTERRA course in about that time as it has quite a rocky section followed by a steep climb. Funny how I could have done a half marathon on the road in that time. I think this hurt just as bad, if not a bit worse from all the climbing. I was also glad I had my trail running shoes on. Even though they aren't as comfortable as the road shoes, they make a difference on the rocks.

Overall it was a good race and made me get out to a different area of Tucson. Trail Race #2 is a 5 miler in Starr Pass, and Jen and I are hoping to be able to meet up and run together again.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

8 weeks of racing

I keep signing up for races, and now I seem to have accumulated 8 race weeks in a row. Well, some are not really races for me. More like "I have to pay so that I show up a do a workout" type of events. And some weekends have 2 events in a row. My "A" race is in May, and I figure this will keep me motivated to keep training through these winter months. Otherwise I'd probably sit around and not do anything until April, when I decided I should probably start training for that A race. It's either one extreme or the other.

The schedule so far:
1/1/09 - Egg Nog Jog 5K - Done!
1/10/09 - Blue Pants 10 mile Trail Run in the Tortolitas - Done!
1/11/09 - Tour de Cookie - Done!
1/17/09 - MBAA Mountain Bike Race #1 at White Tanks
1/24/09 - Blue Pants 5 mile Trail Run at Starr Pass
1/25/09 - Antelope Peak Challenge 60 mile mountain bike ride
2/1/09 - Fleet Feet AZ 8 mile Trail Run
2/7/09 - MBAA Mountain Bike Race #2 at McDowell
2/14 - 2/15/09 - 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race (Duo with Zac)
2/21/09 - MBAA Mountain Bike Race #3 at Estrella

I seem to have some race reports to write.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2008 vs. 2007 training totals

I log every singe workout on BeginnerTriathlete.com, which is a great way to check each year's training progress. Here's how 2008 stacks up to 2007:

Swim = 57h 32m 40s - 128,777.2 Yd
Bike = 147h 07m 44s - 1,698.63 Mi
Run = 85h 23m 51s - 390.29 Mi

Swim = 87h 50m 29s - 209,184 Yd
Bike = 251h 59m 11s - 3,000.35 Mi
Run = 128h 53m 35s - 627.36 Mi

Swim increased by 61%
Bike increased by 57%
Run increased by 62%

I broke the 3,000 mile mark on biking this year, which is cool. I have no idea if 2009's totals will even come close given I'm not training for an Ironman, but we'll see.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Egg Nog Jog 5K

I wanted to start off the New Year with a run to see if the runathon helped my running. The only run I could find in Tucson was the Egg Nog Jog 5K in Marana. So I got up early and drove the 45 minutes to the park in Marana. I was one of the first people there, so I registered and sat in the warmth of my Jeep. Soon, other Tri Girls arrived. Sandy, Krista, April with Tilly (who was in her first 5K), and Jill all showed up to run.

(I stole these pics from April :).

I decided to be festive and pinned a New Year's crown to my running hat. It turns out a lot of folks want to take your pic when you do that.

My goal for the race was to see how fast I could finish this 5K. The other races I had to compare to were the Turkey Trot back in November, which I ran in 30:19. But that one was a bit of an outlier as the course was wet and muddy from rain, hilly, and had haybales and water crossings. I don't think the Egg Nog jog would have any of those. The other was my personal record (PR) during the summer aquathlons of 26:53. I didn't think I would come close to that since I hadn't been doing any speed work during the runathon, and the aquathlons had been going on each week so that PR was set after doing several weeks of speed workouts.

I hopped in place to try to warm up before the race. There was a group of about 40 people or so, so I decided to line up towards the front with the others that looked like they were planning to run. The gun went off and everyone took off. I, of course, started out too fast. No matter how much I tell myself to not go out fast, it always happens. We took a turn and ran south on Silverbell and I was already tired and feeling it. The next turn onto Wade took us up a small uphill. It amazes me that no matter what pace you run, it's always about fighting the urge to walk. Even though this was just a 5K, I still wanted to stop and walk. But I didn't let myself and kept going. I got passed by a few other gals, but I was able to keep count and the best I could tell was that I was the 4th girl. I followed the others through a neighborhood. The weather was cool and perfect for running that morning, and we even had people out on the course cheering in spots. I got lots of cheers for my festive hat. I tried to not look at my Garmin for the pace, and instead only looked down twice at the distance. Once was with 1 mile left to go, and the other was 1/2 a mile left. I could see two guys ahead in front of me and tried to chase them down, but they sped up at the end, as did quite a few other people. Right at the end two guys came up behind me and passed me. One guy said "I was following your feather the whole way! It really helped to push me!" We made the last turn and I crossed the line.

I looked down at my Garmin. 26:19! That was way better than my aquathlon PR! I couldn't believe it. I guess the runathon really did help. ;) That turned out to be an 8:25 minute mile average. I was really happy with that. After crossing the line I walked around and immediately grabbed some water and waited for the other Tri Girls to finish. Everyone did great, and April even won a raffle prize at the end. They had lots of goodies at the finish as well.

This was a really low-key event, but run really well and a ton of fun. Of course, I was quite sore after this "jog" as they call it.