Friday, November 22, 2013

Fun Things to do in the Offseason

Hi! Oh, hey there! I made this list a few days after my last triathlon of 2013. It’s a few things I want to do during my offseason. Some of the items include workouts, a lot of it includes good food, and all of the items involve some time and planning, which are often neglected when I’m balancing 20 hour training weeks and big races. I realize the offseason should be a time to unwind and creating one more “to do” list kind of defeats that purpose, but I didn’t want the weeks to fly by and January to come around thinking, “why didn’t I plan X when I had the time.” So, here’s my list.

1.   Take a cooking class – I attended a Farmer’s Market class at The Pantry.

2.   Ballard Brewery Tour.

3.   Woodinville Wine Tasting – I went with 2 teammates, not far from where we do a lot of our bike training.

4.   Visit Capitol Hill Bakery Nouveau – the West Seattle location is a diva favorite, but I still have yet to visit the one on Cap Hill.

5.   Plan a fall run and brunch with training partners – I went for a beautiful fall 10 miler with teammates Sydnie and Sarah followed by brunch at my house with other training partners and lots of laughs.

6.   Read 4 new books – I’m 1 down, 3 to go.

7.   Start a new TV series with Sydnie (best friend and across the hall neighbor) – Sydnie and I have started House of Cards.

8.   Attend the Seattle Men’s chorus Christmas concert, which is an annual favorite.

9.   Plan a trip to Bellingham.

10. Go to dim sum in the International District.

Cooking class at Delancey, friends at the Mustache Dache 5k, home improvement work & a chance to wear the poor fitting IM hats
Some not so fun things that I’ve been doing:

1.  Home improvement projects – currently in the mix of painting my condo.

2.  Getting sick – I spent 3 days in bed last week with the flu and I have a newly sore throat. This time of year, my immune system takes a little break and I find myself forced to slow my roll.
And some not so offseason things I’ve been doing:

1.  A few shorter run workouts for XC Nationals.

2.  I ran (and won, which was a total surprise!) a 5k on Saturday. This was the second year in a row that my friends and I ran the Mustache Dache 5k. It’s a really fun event for a great cause.

3.  Getting up early for Masters swim workouts on days I don’t feel sick (I didn’t swim at all last week) and I’ve also been doing this ab routine by the amazing Dr. Lesko.
I’m trying to strike the right balance of being lazy when I can (my bike workouts don’t last much longer than an episode or two of Dexter), but not a total sloth. I’m also making sure I eat well, visit a sports medicine doctor/massage therapist, and do a fair amount of foam rolling and stretching. Tuesday I found myself trying to schedule out the week with weight training and swim and bike and run workouts. But I caught myself and was reminded that there aren’t many months during the year when I get to shower and get ready at home or go home right after work, instead of heading to the gym. So I gave myself the day completely off on Wednesday and enjoyed sleeping in. And then I did some painting after work and read until I fell asleep. The routine of going from workout 1 to work to workout 2 to bed is exhausting several months out of the year, so I need to make sure I try and stay away from that until training officially starts again in January. Besides, I have a lot of other fun things planned until then.

What else can I add to my lists or what do you enjoy doing in the offseason?

All the Best,

Friday, November 8, 2013

XC4Life…Well, Starting Now

I don’t know if I’m just a 31-year-old curmudgeon or just narrow minded right now or a little of both, but I feel that once you reach a point in your athletic career there aren’t *that* many chances to try something new in your sport. There are new courses, new opponents, and new gear, but there’s rarely a chance to enter an event with the “I have no idea how this will go” mentality. I’d say my progression as a runner was a bit unconventional. Growing up I played golf and tennis and I cross country skied. We ran a lot for skiing, but there were only a few instances when we were timed. So my first formal running race was an ill-prepared (but fun) half marathon back in 1998. Unlike a lot of experienced runners, I skipped over 400s, relays, and 5Ks on muddy cross country courses. But when Kristin Metcalf, Team Manager at Oiselle, asked me if I wanted to run cross country this fall, it was hard to say no, especially when it meant the opportunity to run at Club Nationals in Bend, OR this December. Throw in a chance to hang out with Lauren Fleshman and Project Little Wing and I was sold!

I took this shot of the uphill finish line during the men's race.
Beautiful, sunny fall day in Seattle.
The problem, however, was that my triathlon season was in full swing until October 27th, while many of the XC races took place earlier in the fall. It didn’t make sense for me to jump into a local 5k or 6k on a muddy track, especially as a newbie, when I needed to stay healthy and put in miles on the bike or long road miles. That meant I’d only have a couple chances to race locally before we travel to Bend. And I wasn’t going to have my first XC race include something with “Nationals” in the title, even if I’m in it primarily for the experience (and a trip to Bend, the magical endurance town). So I decided to race last Sunday at the Pacific Northwest TF XC Championships, a 6k race on a very difficult course (so I’m told – I have no comparison other than the road). Being one week off from Austin 70.3, the timing was less than ideal, but the race was about 2 miles from my house and had a 10:45 start (and it was $10). Once again, it was very hard to say no. Besides, with 4 other Oiselle girls, we had enough to score as a team, which always makes things seem a little more exciting and a little more “worth it.”

Kayla, CK, Jena, Sarah, Natty in the Distance Shorts (personal favorite)
Picture from @Oiselle_team
So I decided to lace up on Sunday and, of course, I loved it. It was hard, my legs had very little pep, the pace burned my lungs, I finished near the back, but it was a beautiful day, and I had an absolute blast. It was something new and no matter what happened, I was guaranteed a PR. It was my Rando-Race for the year, as described by Sarah Mac. I met up with the Oiselle girls Sunday morning – Kristin was there as support and get us signed up, Kayla, Natty, Jena, Sarah were there to run, and Julie was there to cheer. It was great to have the moral support and jog a warm-up lap of the course together. Natty pointed out things like, “here’s the 1k to go mark – less than 3 laps around the track,” as well as where to go for the second and third lap versus the finish line. Gerry was out on a training run and met me before the start to watch the race. After bathroom stops, pinning our numbers, and taking off layers, we made our way to the line. Kristin took a team picture and we all lined up together, as I asked a couple newbie questions before the gun went off.
While CEO Sally was running NYCM, her
hubs was the lead biker.
Photo by @oiselle_team
Honestly the race went by so quickly there isn’t much to report, not because I was so fast, but because I'm used to 10 hour races. With tired legs from the weekend before and my lack of experience, it’s not like I was going to make any bold moves in the first couple kilometers. So I held on (behind them) with Natty and Jena as long as I could until the pack naturally spread out. By the second and third loop, I was basically running with a group of girls. I’d get passed on certain sections and then pass them back. There wasn’t much time to think or dwell, and only once during the race did the thought “how would this go on fresh legs” cross my mind.
I finished in 24:52 and was outkicked in the last 20 meters. Sarah was there to greet me with a, “Good job. You’ve done way more in the past week than that girl has.” My time or placing are nothing to brag about (36th out of 46), but there were quite a few girls stacked in the minute ahead of me, so it’s not like I got lapped or had a huge gap from some  of the other runners (legitimate fears going into this race) and from what I know, the field was made up of some of the fastest girls in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellingham area. Based on how sore I was Sunday afternoon through yesterday, I ran plenty hard – the course had many uneven sections, which made my hips ache; I just think I can run harder with some more rest. From now until Bend, I’ll get in a couple 5ks to work on some speed and I’ll do a few training runs in spikes (2 day shipping turned into 5 day shipping and my shoes came on Monday – thanks for nothing).
Yes, of course I wish I could go back in time and sign up for cross country races in my youth. I’m sure I’d have some fond memories from junior high and high school races. But at the time, playing tennis was more important every fall. And I have memories with those teammates that I’ll cherish forever. So now, the only thing I can do is look forward to the new XC memories I’ll make as an adult, including my first race.

Lots of XC Love,

Friday, November 1, 2013

Austin 70.3 Race Report

“Put it in the big ring. Giddy up!” said Chris McCormack at the 2010 awards ceremony the first year I was in Kona. That was kind of my theme for the second half of the 2013 season and also my most recent race in Austin. Neither one came up short in the fun factor – the past few months since Ironman CdA have been a lot of fun and the trip to Austin was an absolute blast. I was able to put together a solid race on Sunday and walk (well, run) away with a 6 minute half Ironman PR. I flew down on Friday morning with Gerry (the BF) and my friends Arielle and Garth Knutson. We’re not related; it’s just a coincidence (and a lot of fun) that we have the same last name. Julie, our 5th roommate in the AirBNB house flew down a bit later on Friday. The rental house was pretty cool – huge community garden, at least a dozen chickens and ducks, good outdoor space for sharing meals together, and a little man cave area equipped with neon bar signs, and ESPN Red Zone for the guys who could stay up late watching football Saturday night. We all bonded over drinks, food, and triathlon.

From left: with Arielle, Julie, and the party bus parked outside our rental house, pre-race pic with the BF, Gerry packing my bike on Sunday.
I definitely need to work on taking more pictures at races next year!
But you probably don’t care about how we bonded over free-range chickens and organic lettuce; so instead, here’s how the race went down:

Sunday morning I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm to the sound of thunder. There was lightning and more thunder, but we stuck with our plan to leave the house by 5:30 to make it to transition in time for our 8:30 swim wave. Garth and Gerry joked that their biggest worries would be, “having to share the one umbrella in the rental house” and “having to pack those ponchos.” Thanks fellas. The house was about a 20 minute drive from the race, so we figured 3 hours would be more than plenty of time. But with a traffic back-up near the lake, we ended up cutting it quite close; we got off the shuttle around 7:05, got body marked, and made it out of T1 by the mandated 7:15. The start was delayed 15 minutes and we had time for multiple bathroom stops, a shakeout run, and some more waiting around.

Swim – Ugh, the frigging swim! I felt like I had a good start and was on some solid feet through the first two turn buoys. But on the way back, there was a little chop, not waves or anything, just current/ripples/not flat, and crowded water. Gotta love being in the wave #13 or 15 or whatever it was way back. I tried to swim inside the sight buoys, but there were kayaks lined up and safety volunteers telling me not to swim that way. So, I trudged along and eventually made my way out of the water in 34:07 – far from my best, but not a total disaster. Swim times were on the slower end that day and I’d say I left a minute or two in the water.

T1 – The day before we were warned about the goat head thorns in transition that could hurt our feet and puncture our tires. I even stopped once while running up the hill from the lake to pluck a thorn out of my foot. After throwing on my bike shoes and helmet, I carried (instead of wheeled) my bike to the mount line. My HR was pretty high and my typical breeze through transition felt like I was in slow motion. I saw my friends Teresa and Rebecca and thought, “I hope I look ripped carrying my bike, because I am working really hard.” I made it out of T1 in 2:37 and was lucky enough to not have any damage to my feet, cleats, or tires. Gerry and Garth were at the mount line and later said there were dozens of people with flats coming out of T1 and there were volunteers helping rider clean mud from cleats, so athletes could clip in.

Bike- In my opinion, the bike course isn’t anything special. It’s pretty flat, a couple technical turns, some tough road conditions, and no major climbs. Other than a little spin on Saturday, it was my first introduction to riding on Texas roads. And I can assure you, there will be far fewer complaints about road surfaces anywhere else. There weren’t major potholes, just poor chip seal, lots of bumps, and some uneven areas. Being in the third to last wave, the roads were really crowded. There were a couple times when I had to brake or jockey around to not get caught up in someone’s draft. It was a bit frustrating and definitely made starting in the women’s pro field seem more enticing. I was getting a little bored of the course toward the end of the ride, so at mile 41, a completely flat mile with no turns, I counted people. I passed 10 people in 1 mile. That’s kind of a lot, considering each mile lasts less than 3 minutes. I felt okay on the ride, not great, but pretty solid, and I kept pushing 56 miles until I got to the dismount line in 2:34:43.

Run – T2 was nothing fancy, no mud or goat heads. I was out on the run in 2:11. The run was tougher than I thought it would be when I signed up for this race. It’s a three loop course and the loop basically runs from T2/finish arena to the lake and back with a little off-road, grassy, gravel portion and a hill that you run up and down in the middle. My first couple miles were fast and by the time I got to the lake I made myself take some PERFORM and settle my heart rate. By the time I finished my first loop, I felt like I was running a lot stronger, even though my pace had slowed down a bit. The guys told me what position I was in off the bike (9th – ouch!), but with the crowds of people, I couldn’t tell where the other W30-34 were. I just kept running hard and telling myself, “it might be an ugly run course, but don’t make it an ugly run.” Perhaps I could have gone for a little more positive self-talk? It didn’t feel like I slowed down that much on the run, but I’m frustrated in my 1:35:11. I realize it’s not horrible, but I was hoping to break 1:30 this year and I really thought it was in the cards on Sunday. The finish line in the rodeo arena was cool and it was really fun to see Gerry and Garth out on the course, as well as other Seattle friends who made the trip down.

Check out this link to see the video Garth put together from the race. It features Matt Chrabot and Rebekah Keat (pro winners), me, Julie Vieselmeyer, Arielle Knutson, Graeme Roche, Gerry, and our rental house. There are a lot of “Go Knutsons” in there, as well as punctured tires, muddy cleats, and a new girl rock song, “Pumpin’ Blood” by NONONO (chosen by best friend Sydnie).

My overall time was 4:48:49, which is a PR for me and a pretty solid time. This landed me in 6th place for W30-34, which was a little disappointing, but I’m getting over it. I took solace in seeing that I stacked up okay against some female pros (and I wouldn’t have been the last out of the water) and that my time at last year’s race would have been 2nd in my AG. I know I still need to sharpen my skills at the 70.3 distance and this excites me. It’s a fun distance to race and there are many more opportunities to prove myself down the road. Sunday night we gorged on Mexican food, margaritas, and took a stroll down 6th St. On Saturday night Garth and Gerry set up a bet that whatever girl stayed out the latest on Sunday, Gerry would pack their bike. I was so thankful when Julie and Arielle called it a night – we stayed out pretty late for W30-34 triathletes!

Now the season is over and I’m decompressing, debriefing, planning my offseason (there’s some good stuff in there), and figuring out what the heck I’m doing in 2014. Lots of exciting stuff to come, including my thoughts on 2013 (mostly positive)! Thanks for reading.
With Heart,