Saturday, March 24, 2012

Going (going), Back (back), To Cali (Cali)...

Oceanside 70.3 is just a week away and, in the immortal words of Notorious B.I.G., I’m very excited to be Going (going) Back (back) to Cali (Cali). Last year Oceanside provided a wonderful race experience (2nd AG - Boom!) and a lot of fun memories. Oceanside is known as one of the most prestigious and competitive races on the 70.3 circuit. It is also seen as the unofficial North American kickoff event for the Ironman season. The combination of these two perceptions makes for a lot of fast participants, but also kind of a laid back atmosphere. It’s kind of a way to bust the rust and kick the tires before the “A” races get underway.

I am still sorting things out and determining clear pace goals for the day. I am feeling good about my fitness and speed, despite lots of Ironman training, and ready to put it all together on race day to see where I’m at going into Ironman St. George. But the real reason I’m excited for this weekend is to celebrate the BIG 3-0 with a few of my best friends. Tesia (she turns 32 on race day), Sydnie, Alicia, and I have been planning this birthday trip and race weekend since last spring. My teammates and fellow Kona qualifiers, Robin and Katherine, as well as long-distance training partner, Sam, will also be there for the weekend. These girls were integral in helping me keep my cool and pump me full of confidence at Ironman Coeur d’Alene last year, which was probably the most mentally challenging race of my life. It’s good to know that we will all be there for pre-race hugs and to kick off the 2012 season together.

Boom in your Face - 4 of Seattle's Tri-babes: Tesia, Syd, me, Alicia

But besides race plans, we are all looking forward to some sunshine, traveling together, dressing up and going out post-race, staying a couple extra days for vacay, and of course, some race day tunes. Sydnie has been mixing great “Let’s Race” CD’s since Kona 2010 and they are often the product of months and months of Pandora and recommendations from friends. So if you run into 4 of the whitest girls in Oceanside (give us a break, we live in Seattle!), laughing, smiling, possibly wearing matching Puke & Rally sweatshirts (from our Hood to Coast team) and rocking out to Flo Rida, Nelly, Kanye, and Jay-Z, stop and say hello! Maybe Sydnie will be willing to burn you a "2012 Let's Race" CD.

Good luck to all participants in Oceanside next weekend and to everyone, have a great 2012 season! Let's Race!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shamrock Swim

Top 'o the Morning - it's 5:15am in this pic
Last month I mentioned my love for swimming and my longing for holiday themed swims. The next day Sydnie proposed a St. Paddy’s Day Smashfest (a la Hillary Biscay). It wasn’t going to be a true smashfest (100x100) because 1) we don't swim in a tropical, pretty outdoor pool like some professional triathletes, and mostly 2) we needed to finish everything (showers, changing, perhaps hot tub time, before/after pictures, and a mega swim) by 8am in order to get out of the parking garage without paying. Plus we wanted to allow some time for breakfast.
After a bit of brainstorming Syd and I pitched the idea to some of the other “tri-babes” and started creating a buzz at morning Masters. Alicia had the idea of ordering matching green suits from our friend Mike who works at BlueSeventy. (Despite the fact that I am almost 30, my love for matching workout outfits runs deep). Since several of our teammates are racing Oceanside on March 31st, I knew we’d have longish workouts on Saturday. So we opted for a St. Patrick’s Day Eve swim and did the workout below on Friday March 16th.

All the matchy match girls - this was our 1st try for this shot (as in 6th try)
1200 warm-up swim (break it up, if needed)

1100: 11x50s/50drill (4 catch-up, 3 fingertip, 2 fist, 2 one arm)
1000 10x100 – 75 build/25EZ

900 pull: 100 fast, 200EZ, 300 fast, 200EZ, 100 fast

800: Good twin: 400 (25ez/25hard, 50ez/50hard, 75ez/75hard, 100EZ) 30 sec rest
        Evil twin: 400 (25hard/25ez, 50hard/50ez, 75hard/75ez, 100hard)
700: 7x100 kick (with fins because we don’t have all day)
600: 6x100s on the (1:25, 1:35, or 1:45 – each lane choose interval)
500: 5x100 stroke other than free
400 pull: 4x100 steady pull
300 3x50 drill/50swim
200 kick
100 w/d

I wrote the workout based on the “12 Days of Christmas” swim from December, since I knew people preferred sets that got shorter and shorter. And like my physical therapist said, “So 7,800 yards is your go-to holiday workout?” I guess it is. I got a lot of good feedback from people saying they didn’t get bored with all those yards and it was pretty fun. I loved it! I was really impressed that we suckered about a dozen people to join us at 5:15am and another 20 or so to jump in mid-way. Afterward a group of us stopped at Portage Bay CafĂ©, one of Seattle’s best breakfast spots, for some serious noshing before heading into work (albeit a bit late). I have a good feeling we started a new tradition and I’m already looking forward to 7,800 yards ‘o fun in 2013.

Friday, March 16, 2012

March Madness and College Running

March Madness always makes me a little nostalgic for my days at Gonzaga. I think about waiting in line for basketball tickets, the Sweet 16 game that we watched from my freshman dorm, conference match-ups, my first Kennel Club parties, watching the Arizona game with my golf team junior year from the floor of an airport bar on the way to a tournament (wearing matching khakis, polos, and Jack Purcell’s), senior nights, Selection Sunday, and many, many more. This week I overheard a co-worker and fellow Zag say, that “Gonzaga isn’t just a Jesuit school; it’s a basketball school.” And since the Gonzaga Bulldogs have been to the Big Dance for the past 14 years, this is the time of year I most often find myself missing the girls who were my running partners from 2000-2004.

Like many, I loved college for the carefree, explorative, awkward, humorous, and enlightening rite of passage that it was. It’s a lifestyle that you can’t replicate and I think that’s part of what makes it special. My “Ophelia years” were probably at their worst in college, but I was lucky enough to find a group of supportive and encouraging friends who weren’t running for purposes of losing weight or impressing boys and we really didn’t even care about times. This was before Garmins, so we didn’t obsess about pacing and we never even hit a track for a workout. It was simply because we loved the fitness and endorphins felt pounding the pavement so many mornings before class.

Colette, Kim, Shantay, and Mary were 4 smart, talented, and beautiful girls that I often called the night before to figure out what time we were meeting in the morning or if any of us had to run instead after class. We had our usual routes: along Centennial Trail to downtown, Peaceful Valley, Browne’s Edition, Manitou Park, the Bloomsday course, the Spokane 1/2 marathon route, and the “other way” along the river, over the bridge and back. Occasionally I’d sucker a guy into running with me if these girls were busy. Like the time my friend Chris joined me and then went back to his dorm and threw up (seriously! and surprisingly this wasn't due to a college hangover). We probably logged around 30-40 miles a week and all ran half marathons in the 1:40-1:45 range, so we weren’t slow, but we had yet to tap into our full running potential.

Topics during these runs included homework, study hours, basketball games, guys we had crushes on and guys we made out with (not always synonymous), being homesick, spring break plans, acceptance into study abroad programs, job offers, and ultimately life after GU. Some of the runs were more poignant, like post-finals runs in the snow, 1st runs of the quarter, and also that beautiful Tuesday morning in 2001 when we got back and heard about the terrorists’ attacks of 9/11. But most runs were just a routine part of our lives and something we could rely on several days a week.

Over the past few years I realize that in order for me to run faster, I need to include different workouts. I can’t go out based on feel, like I did so many days in college. I need to devote workouts to speed, race pace, hills, and recovery. Now because of work demands, busy schedules, the fact my friends and I don't live on a college camps, I do a lot of these workouts on my own. If I were to look back on my training logs from those days, it’d probably give the date, approximate time, route, who ran with me, and maybe what we talked about. But my goals and lifestyle were different then. And looking back, I realize it was just the [running] therapy I needed.

So although I can’t call (not text because I didn’t have a cell phone in college) these girls any day of the week for a run through our favorite parks and neighborhoods, the routine and love for the sport that we shared a decade ago isn’t forgotten. I know that someday, probably years from now, I will care less about training and more about just maintaining a balance of fitness along with life’s other demands. But every March when I think of college basketball, I will remember my times at Gonzaga, the girls who made me fall in love with running, and the miles that made college so special.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fitness is a good feeling, isn’t it?!

"Fitness is a good feeling, isn’t it?!” This was in an email from my friend Alicia after I tweeted something about a fast tempo run. Over the past few weeks I have noticed a trend on Facebook and Twitter from many of my runner/triathlon friends. Everyone is posting updates and tweets about their improved fitness AND I LOVE IT!!

Here is a random sampling:
"18.5k “track” workout on the treadmill this evening… and my legs actually feel pretty solid. When did that happen?"
"Another solid track workout tonight, after a morning swim: 7x800 w 2min rest. 2:27, 26, 26, 24, 27, 25, 27. Yeah, 2min is generous rest, but pretty soon I might have to admit I’m not quite retired anymore…"
"Evening track practice highlights include victory mile repeats (6:09, 6:07, 6:00, 5:52 Boom!) AND Chris Tremonte wearing my shorts"
"Lots of miles on these feet this weekend! 18 yesterday, 11 today…I feel like a marathon runner! I hope everyone’s weekend was as wonderful as mine!"
"10 mile track workout on the treadmill done! didn’t kill me but wowza that was hard :)"
“Surprisingly good trainer session in the books since I refuse to race in 37 degrees and rain/snow tomorrow. Not dumb enough to do that twice!”
“No wonder I was seeing stars at the end of my run. Just saw my max HR. Hasn’t been that high in a WHILE.”

And one by yours truly that inspired the opening question above: “Sub-6 min pace for tonight’s tempo run. I think my head exploded.”

Notice a few treadmill and trainer sessions from Seattle people. I think we are all ready for some spring weather.

I will admit I go back and forth between feeling sheepish when I talk about my progress over social media and wanting to shout it from the rooftops. And don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I’ve been kind of annoyed/confused to read people’s very detailed workout descriptions (Crossfit "Workout of the Day"…I don’t even know what half the exercises mean!). Most times I don’t share my workouts with others, mostly because I don’t think anyone cares. But sometimes it’s really nice to share progress with someone other than your coach or regular training partners.

So while race season is upon us and you are proud of your fitness gains, feel free to showcase it however you want. Whether it’s 16 tweets a day, blogging, a subtle comment on your friend’s Facebook page, texting old boyfriends to remind them how fast you are (not that I’ve done this…), or just crushing us all at your next race. Most of us are doing this sport because we love it and we do it for ourselves. But it’s fun to share the excitement. I would imagine that most everyone who has been involved in this sport for more than a couple years has found a way to become surrounded by other strong, energetic, enthusiastic friends and athletes. I would also expect that anyone who is in a healthy, competitive, supportive headspace would be excited for friends and teammates and their fitness gains.

So keep up the good work, my friends. You should be proud of your hard efforts and new levels of fitness. And if you’d like to share it with others, we are out here willing to listen.