Wednesday, 14 March 2012 15:23

Pacer Or Chaser?

[caption id="attachment_5491" align="alignright" width="297" caption="Which Would You Rather Be?"]pacer_chaser_running_triathlon[/caption] Pacer or Chaser?  No, not a basketball team or even a car but how you would describe yourself as a runner. So do you ever find yourself driving and see a car with a 26.2 sticker on it and you try to catch it and pass  it?  Walking into the grocery store, and you feel yourself racing the person next to you to get in the store? Last night as I did one of my dreaded taper runs I was trying to keep it at an easy pace and then it happened, I began the chase.  I saw this women the other day running in the neighborhood and she was a pretty fit girl and her pace was a good pace.  I turned the corner today, and saw her 2 blocks away from me, and my first thought was “GO GET HER” and I ran as hard as I could without tripping over cracked sidewalks..before I knew it she turned a corner and I lost her. Ugh. Next time. My name is Karen. I am a chaser. I have gotten worse when racing as I pick someone in the crowd and this will be the person I chase and hope to pass and then I will pick someone new. I name my people I chase. Turquoise shirt girl, The waterboy, and numerous other names that just pop into my head that remind me to keep them in my vision and pass them.  The last race I ran I actually chatted with the 2 girls that I was chasing, and we laughed about it because they were doing it as well.  I walked away from them and another person came to me and said she was chasing me down the whole way.. I am not alone. I have tried to be a pacer, and when I ran with a training group, the pace leader kept telling me to SLOW down and stay with group but when I am in a group setting - my competing side kicks in and I wanna beat all these people. Of course - I know I should be slowing down as this is just a training run right? Race day - I am not going to pace. I am not going to talk or socialize during the run. I am going to PUSH my body. I have learned I can push harder during races, and not hold back and chase as many people as I can.  I may not win, but I might just pass one guy.. and chick him!  I used to think I couldn’t go faster on runs, and then I decided - why not?  Go Fast - and I did, and I didn’t collapse afterwards and got my pancakes. Will I always be a chaser - we shall see when the ultra-marathon training kicks in, but for now I will try to catch as many people as possible..maybe you!  

Are you a chaser or a pacer?  Do you race people into stores?

Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_5415" align="alignright" width="259" caption="And I Applaud Them For Doing So"]running_racing_burnout_addiction[/caption] I may have become addicted to running and racing, possibly even triathlon.....eggads!!  As I sat on the couch last night – I was trying to remember everything I planned that I needed to do, and realized I planned a doctor appointment for Monday morning. My first thought was not dreading the doctor , it was actually “Oh I can run now!”  My doctor appointment is not scheduled until 9 am and of course now my mind is racing. “If I get up at a certain time – I can do a longer run and have plenty of time to get to the doctor and then go to work”. When I think about many years ago, and making an appointment at 9am on a Monday morning prior to work –my initial thought would be sleep until the latest possibly time and then get up and go to the doctor (possibly hungover from drinking the night before!). It’s funny how things change in your life - being a mommy, wife and working full-time, plus drive time of 30-45 minutes each way tends to limit my workout time. If you know me personally, you know that I do not do well without working out, I tend to get a little angry – so I sneak in WHATEVER I can get! Jason and I have a good balance between watching the little man, but sometimes I want to be home with my family, so I decided to join the gym and go at lunch as well. Nothing like a quick workout midday to de-stress from the drama of the workplace! So now I run, attend bootcamp and gym and apparently my race schedule has gotten out of control. I keep signing up for races:
  • Rock & Roll Dallas Half – 3/25
  • A2A HalfMarathon – OK 4/1
  • White Rock and Roll 15k- 5/10
  • Rock & Roll San Diego Half- 6/4
  • El Scorcho 50k – 7/15
  • Hula Girl Tri – 8/11
I actually spoke to Jason about signing up for another tri in May just to do it, and of course my Fall races are already planned in my head, but registration is not yet open. Normally I am not a racer, I am a runner, but I have been enjoying getting out amongst all the other runners, and liking the fact that I am starting to meet people and socialize with them. Even if I am not great at racing, at the finish line we are all winners and have something in common. I think about other athletes, and the way they live, getting up in the wee hours of the morning and working out or doing it before bed, and being parents or students as well and still finding time to move and it amazes me and inspires me to do more. The questions I wonder - Will I lose steam eventually? Will I get burnt out? I have seen it happen to so many – other things take priority and life gets in the way. I have noticed the personalities change as well. The runner’s high is gone, and the bitterness/depression is obvious. I have been sidelined various times due to injury and I know that feeling and I know getting back is tough, but once you start moving and train your body to move, it does get easier, and you do feel better. Honestly – I think I will stick to moving..I am sure Jason is thankful.

Do you ever get burnout?  Do you know others in it now and do you try to move them?

Published in Race
[caption id="attachment_5679" align="alignright" width="224" caption="Team Baha Done And Done"]a2amarathon_finishers[/caption] Chrissie Wellington raced last year's Ironman World Championships last year with a torn pectoral muscle and road rash.  She not only raced it but she won it in a record time and put in a blistering run, for which she is not typically known for.  With what happened to me yesterday there were questions, and a few suggestions, that I don't race the A2A Half-Marathon.  There was never any doubt in my mind that I would run the race, and the only question was would I race the race.  The deciding factor would be how my hip felt when I woke up on race day morning. I did all the things that I would normally do before a race.  I ate pizza the night before with Karen, Frances (owner of Virawear) and a few other friends.  I had a bowl of granola, two rice cakes with peanut butter and was in bed by 8:30pm.  When the alarm went off at 4am I checked my body parts for anything that would tell me that I absolutely could not run.  My hip was sore but bearable.  My shoulder did not hurt.  Then I felt my hand and man alive that was killing me.  I quickly put the pain out of my mind by telling myself I don't run with my hands.  I also started channeling my inner Chrissie.  I told myself that if she can race 140.6 miles with those injuries I could run 13.1 miles with what I had.  The question about running versus racing still hung in the air. I consumed my race day breakfast which is exactly the same as my night before meal but with added coffee.  Karen and I always pack our food and when she went to make a shake in the morning and we noticed we left the base back at home we went downstairs for the hotel breakfast.  Karen had a waffle and asked me if I wanted half and against my better judgement I did eat half.  Don't do anything new on race day right?  After breakfast we got in our car and drove to the stadium to be bused out to the starting line. At the stadium I took a few quick steps to see if the hip would cause me pain and there was a throbbing but bearable.  Onto the bus we went and on the way there we hit every bump imaginable and that was causing some pain.  Finally we made it to the start line and I went for a warm-up.  After running about 0.5 miles with no issues I decided to do some dynamic stretches.  Again, no major pain and I made up my mind to run this race. Prior to the start a Bronco came racing up the road and tearing up the grass and looked to be losing control.  Let me rewind and tell you that this race starts in the middle of Route 77 in Arbuckles, Okalahoma.  I mean, literally, in the middle of the road.  There was a white line signifying the start line and that was it.  It was the greatest start to a race I'd ever seen and the road was to be closed for six hours.  It was fairly scary to see this guy tearing up the road.  Another runner confronted him and he pealed out and left.  That certainly got the heart rate going.  After that we lined up about 10 feet behind the start line and listened to the Star-Spangled Banner.  Gave Karen a kiss and wished her luck, then after the countdown and shotgun start the race was on. The legs were feeling fresh and I started running when the Mile 1 marker came up on me.  I thought to myself that was very fast and looking down at my watch it proved it was.  7:35 for the first mile and then we hit mile two and again 7:35.  Now the first two miles are downhill completely and while I tried to hold back I could not and after hitting the 2nd mile marker decided I was going to race this event. As the route leveled off and I got into a rhythm I was being passed by a lot of runners.  I fought the meathead in me knowing that once we hit Mile 9 we were going to be going back uphill.  Stay in the zone, race and keep all your splits steady.  If you recall from San Juan, where I screwed up my watch, I decided to show 3 fields.  Those fields were Current Time, Avg-HR and Avg-Pace.  When I looked down I saw an average pace of 7:49/mi and I made it my mission to keep that under 8:00/mi.  That was my goal as I knew that would put me in at 1:44 and I would be happy with that. As each mile ticked off I noticed that I would feel the throbbing of my hip every other mile.  I think this was due to the fact that I was taking water every other mile from the pain.  I would focus on the water and not recognize the pain that when I passed a water station I would recognize the throbbing.  If you noticed I said taking water off the course, and that is because I forgot the EFS Liquid Shot at the house.  At the expo I asked about a local bicycle shop and there was not one in Ardmore and the closest one was 28 miles away.  I was going to live off the course and that means water and water only as I cannot keep Gatorade down. As we neared Mile 6 I started noticing those that had passed me by 4 miles earlier and they were running considerably slower.  The route had turned into rolling hills and the humidity was picking up.  When I saw the rollers I told myself to run through the hills and keep my perceived level of exertion the same as the flats and pick it up on the downhill.  I also kept telling myself that if Chrissie can do it so can I.  As I passed each racer I gained strength.  I finally caught up to one racer who has passed me back at Mile 2.5.  I remembered him because of his backwards BAA hat as well as Landrunners shirt.  I found that gear and it became a bullseye.  I ran up on him and then passed him going up a hill.  With that as my strength I powered up the hill and did not hear his footsteps after about 0.25 miles. I kept at it and kept picking off one runner after the other.  I was gaining strength and they were losing it.  It was around the 10 mile marker that the wind truly picked up and almost knocked my feet out from under me.  I was out there on the open road with nothing to block the wind.  I got to mile 11 and saw a few other runners that I hunted down when I heard the footsteps and deep breathing.  What was going on here?  I was being caught by somebody?  Who?  You guessed it.....BAA hat man.  He passed me but I kept on his hip and then fell in behind him and let him block the wind and fed off his draft. I felt strong so I passed him and gained ground on him going downhill and kept finding other runners to run behind until their pace was not fast enough for me and I passed them.  At Mile 12 BAA passed me again and I fought to stay with him but his kick was too strong and he started to pull away.  I vowed not to let him have more than 0.10 miles on me and I would push at the turn into the stadium and catch him if I could. With this in my mind I noticed another runner in front of me and thought I was hallucinating.  The woman was wearing a black tank top with Peace, Love, Run on the back and I knew I saw this 4 times before.  I started questioning if I had been passed without me knowing it but when the man pacing her called her name I knew it wasn't the same person.  I also got pissed off with the on-course support and blew past her on the hill and left her behind and kept BAA in sight.  We made the turn toward the stadium and I started running harder but so was he. As we enter into the stadium to do the final 0.25 miles in the track I was putting in every last ounce of strength I had and never caught him.  I finished about 15 seconds behind him and when I crossed the finish line is when my hip decided to tell me that it was still apart of my body.  I slumped over and the volunteers brought me my medal and two bottles of water and asked if I needed to see medical.  I repeated two or three times that I did not need medical but that I had crashed my bike the day before and my hip was throbbing to the high heavens.  I finally gained the strength to walk around a bit and my hip started to feel better. I looked down at my watch and saw a time of 1:44:22 and a distance of 13.13 miles.  I was thrilled because I knew that I had met my goal of a sub-8:00/mi pace for the race and that I ran a very good race in terms of distance.  Of course the majority of the race was straight down a highway but the first two miles required turns in the highway that could have been detrimental to the distance run because we had the entire highway to ourselves. Karen and I left went to the hotel and cleaned up before hitting the road.  After we got home we noticed that I finished 7th in my Age Group of 43 competitors and 30th Overall.  Better than that was that Karen finished in 1:58 and came in 3rd in her Age Group.  This was her 2nd podium finish in four Half-Marathons this year.  I am so proud of her accomplishments and where her running has come from.  Great job Honey! This is the third race in three weeks and I'll be happy that next weekend is a 5.5 hour ride and 30 minute run brick on Saturday and a 2h45m run on Sunday with no racing involved. Mile Splits for the race:
  • Mile 1: 7:35
  • Mile 2: 7:35
  • Mile 3: 8:01
  • Mile 4: 8:16
  • Mile 5: 7:52
  • Mile 6: 7:51
  • Mile 7: 7:32
  • Mile 8: 7:53
  • Mile 9: 8:01
  • Mile 10: 8:22
  • Mile 11: 8:13
  • Mile 12: 8:22
  • Mile 13: 7:46
  • .13mile: 7:42/mi pace (0:43)[gallery link="file" columns="4" orderby="rand"]
Published in Race Reports
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 11:44

CTERman Virtual Event Registration Is Now Open

If you have been a follower of this blog for a while then you will recall the Cupcake Marathon from last year.  The turnout was great and I was able to get quite a few sponsors for the event and I am here to announce a new virtual race.  The CTERman is going to be a virtual event that will have both triathlon and duathlon events and lots of giveaways. This virtual race is not just to keep you moving during the winter months and prepare you for the upcoming early triathlon season.  This year the virtual race will be a fund-raiser for Shape Up America. I partnered with Shape Up America last year to help raise funds for the non-profit which is committed to raising awareness of obesity as a health issue and to providing responsible information on healthy weight management.  As a person who believes that the health of America is jeopardized it is a welcome sight to see an organization take on such a personal subject and try to help. Now is your chance to try to help as well.  Your donation will go directly to Shape Up America and enter you into the distance of your choice as well as an opportunity to win a prize from one of our great sponsors. Here are the rules:
  1. Enter the virtual race by making a donation to Shape Up America through the Help Raise Funds link in the right hand sidebar.  The cost of entry into the race is $10 for the Iron distance triathlon and duathlon (minus the swim) and $5 for the Half-Iron distance triathlon and duathlon (minus the swim.)
  2. After you receive your receipt from PayPal take a screen shot and submit it through form below.
  3. Once I receive your registration form I will email you the tracking form which will be submitted via the Contact Me form.
The gifts I have been able to arrange thus far are: The event will start on February 13th and will end at 12am PST on March 11th.  This virtual race is open to those in the continental United States for all prizes.  Some prizes can be shipped to Canada but not all.  All prizes will be chosen through Special prizes will be sent to those that finish their event first.  Please note that is first and not the fastest. Lastly, I am working on adding more prizes and a logo for the event.  Once the logo is complete there will be an opportunity to purchase shirts from Family Fan Club with a portion of the proceeds going to Shape Up America. [gravityform id=5 name=CTERmanRegistration description=false] Please feel free to tweet out this event using the hashtag #CTERman to get others to register as well as when you are completing events for the race you enter.  Post it to Facebook or anywhere else you have access to people as the more people that register the more money we raise for Shape Up America.   Thank you in advance for participating in this event.
Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_4735" align="alignright" width="275" caption="Crossing the finish line is a an accomplishment"]marathon_finish_chute[/caption] Today I will be heading out at 3pm to start a 22 mile training run.  I have a goal of running the 22 miles at around 8:00/mile.  Two weeks ago I ran 18 in 7:51/mi and last week I ran 20 in 8:40/mi.  The difference I believe can be answered by the fact that last week was my first attempt to go out in the late afternoon / early evening to do a long run.  The Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon starts at 4pm and thus why I am running later in the day. My entire training world has flipped upside down with this late start and I am having a difficult time getting used to it.  On mid-week runs I have gone out later in the day, to once again simulate the late start and my runs have not been great.  Yes, the weather here in Texas has been a little like Cybill in not wanting to figure out which season it wants to be.  For the past two days we have had Fall weather with temps in the 60s and today when I start my run the temperature will be near 75*.  It is hard to gauge my ability right now since the weather in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks will most likely be colder and less humid. As I research the topic of later evening race starts I find articles about nutrition and sleep.  Things to do during the day that keep you off your feet so as not to tire your legs.  There is quite a bit of information out there but one article that I found interesting was about the 5 biggest mistakes people make while training for a marathon.  It got me thinking about the past two weeks and what the next two weeks holds for me and I wanted to share the article with you. The article appears in and was written by Sabrina Grotewold.  You can read the entire article [HERE] but I am going to provide you with the bullet points and provide my thoughts on my training for this marathon:

1. Overtraining & Undertraining

I believe that I am neither over-trained or under-trained.  Since Coach has switched the plan to marathon specific training my run mileage has increased, but my bike training has decreased significantly.  During triathlon season I would have mid-week rides of 2 hours plus 1 or 2 recovery rides of an hour added to a 3 to 5 hour ride on the weekend.  Now I have a 1 hour recovery ride on the weekend and maybe a 2 hour low heart-rate ride during the week.  What has not changed is the amount of swimming and for me that is great.  I need to continue to work on my stroke but swimming provides great recovery for the legs since they are not pounding he pavement.

2. Completing Long Runs Too Fast

I have seen the research and read all the coach's stories about how training at a slower pace than race pace is what is needed to race fast.  I started my endurance career following this theory and it led me to a 4:29 marathon the first time I ran one.  The second time I ran a marathon I ran it in 3:39.  That second marathon included running long runs faster than I had previously.  Recently I ran a training half-marathon 'race' at a pace of 7:31/mi and this was only two weeks after racing 70.3 Austin.  Today I want to run at 8:00/mi which is 45 seconds slower than marathon race pace compared to the 2:00/mi slower pace most recommend.  For me it is about finding out what I can tolerate so that when I run 7:15/mi on race day my body knows what it has to do.

3. Experimenting On Race Day

We all know this and yet I read race reports about how the person tested this out or tried something new.  For me the race should be boring for you in terms of what you are going to do.  You have a race plan, you have eaten the same thing, you have worn the same gear and everything else is the same on race day as it is on your long run training days.  Today I am executing a nutrition plan to bring with me to Vegas and I plan on having December 4th be exactly the same as November 19th in terms of food.  Why would you throw all those hours of training out the window by putting on a new hat that all of a sudden itches?  Why ignore your training to test out that new flavor of GU or Gel at Mile 22?  Makes no sense to me so stick to what you know and don't change a thing. [caption id="attachment_4736" align="alignright" width="256" caption="Creating A Plan and Sticking To It Will Get You To The FInish Line"]marathon_running_pace_finish[/caption]

4. Going Out Too Fast

Just like #3 we all know #4 and yet again I read race report after race report that the person went out to fast.  Some can hang on but for the most part the race falls apart for them at the end.  For me this falls to planning.  Create a plan and stick to it.  For the Dallas Running Club Half-Marathon I ran I had a plan to run 7:45s for 5 miles, 7:30s for 5 miles and then hopefully sub-7s for the final 5k.  The first 6 miles I was around 7:35/mi then was able to drop down to 7:30/mi and when I want to run those sub-7s I was only able to get down to 7:20/mi.  Had I stuck to 7:45/mi I might have been able to get down to sub-7s, but in the end I had a plan and I stuck to it.  I did not say to myself in the first 5 miles that those 7:35/mi paces were easy and I should drop at Mile 3 down.  Instead I stayed steady and was able to lower my paces along the way.

5. Placing Too Much Emphasis On Time

I am torn on this being considered a mistake.  I have a goal of qualifying for Boston and for that I need to run a 3:10 marathon.  So am I placing too much emphasis on this goal?  I don't think so because if I don't make it I'm just one of a gazillion (yes that is a real number go google it) that didn't make the time needed and thus will fuel my fire to accomplish that goal. That being said I also understand that when people don't reach that time they consider the day a failure and unfortunately that is just not true.  Finishing a marathon is an accomplishment in itself.  There are so many variables that go into these events that are out of our control and we just have to accept what the day gives us.  Being prepared to overcome those obstacles is just as important as your finishing time.  You can take the lessons learned from that particular race and apply it to the next race because there will be one.

What Are Some Mistakes You Have Made During Training For A Marathon?

Published in Train
Sunday November 6th was the date of the Dallas Running Club Half-Marathon and just a short two weeks after having raced 70.3 Austin.  In between the Half-Ironman and Half-Marathon I completed the following training:
  1. 18 mile run at a 7:51/mi pace.
  2. 13.1 mile run at 7:36/mi pace.
  3. Cycled for 1.5 hours and covered nearly 37 miles at a 17.5 mph pace with the second half into a dead headwind.
  4. Over 5,000 yards of swimming
That is just the big days of training as I prepare my mind and body for a run at a Boston Qualifying time at Rock N Roll Las Vegas.  Needless to say the legs are tired and Coach and I discussed this not being a true A race so we didn't worry about taper and were using it as a training day for that December 4th marathon.
That being said I had a very good day at the office and following is my race report for my 3rd run at the Dallas Running Club Half-Marathon.
[caption id="attachment_4638" align="alignright" width="224" caption="Flashing the bling after the race"]karen-Jason-DRC-halfmarathon-race-report[/caption]
The alarm went off at 2:48 and I was up and ready to go.  Typically I would drink a smoothie and go back to sleep before heading out to train at 5am.  Today was different though as I had a 5 mile run scheduled before the race.  Remember this was not an 'A' race and a training day.  Today's schedule called for 18 miles and I told Coach that I wanted to do them first so that once the race was over I could come home and watch football and not have to go back out for more running.
At 4:30am I set out for a 5 mile run that I wanted to run at an 8:30/mi pace.  True warm-up.  When I got home I was dripping in sweat as the humidity was high and reminded me of the summer here in Texas it was that bad.  When I checked my watch I had covered the 5 miles at a pace of 8:31/mi.  Score one for following a plan and pacing properly.
Inside the house I made a smoothie and ate a bowl of granola with a banana which is my typical pre-race breakfast.  Made a cup of coffee and we got into the car to head down to White Rock Lake.  This is a course we have run plenty of times so we knew what we were getting ourselves into.  We parked the car, walked to the event, checked our bags and got in the porto-potty line.
Longest part of the day as we spent nearly 30 minutes in line.  Fortunately waiting allowed us to see Lesley of Racing It Off fame.  A few quick hellos and I finally get into the stall take care of my business and walk to the starting line.  I gave Karen a kiss good-bye as she was going to run with the 2:10 pacers.
I walked up to the 1:40 pacers as my goal was to run a plan that was hatched earlier in the week with Greg.  A lot of people gave me great advice about what I should do to run this race.  There were those that said take it easy, those that said to run the race, others who said pay attention to heart rate and whatever pace that was stick to it.
My plan going into this race was to run those first 5 miles at 8:30/mi and I did that.  Now at the race I was going to run the first 5 miles at a pace of 7:45/mi, then the next 5 at 7:20/mi and hammer home the 5k at what I was hoping would be sub 7:00/mi pace.  I have no clue what that would have equaled in terms of overall time but I wanted to run and see what I could do on tired legs and continue to build my confidence for Las Vegas.
When the gun went off I was about 50 yards behind the 1:40 pacers.  I had figured that a 1:40 half-marathon was a 7:38/mi pace and sitting back here I could comfortably run the 7:45/mi pace I had planned.  As we went out it was no more than 1/4 of a mile into the race that a woman across the road from me tripped and went down.  She yelled she was find and hopped back up pretty quickly.  As soon as that happens I think immediately that I need to stop and just run with Karen who has a tendency to fall but I also know that we spoke of her focusing on her stride and getting past this.  We talked so much about it that when I left her I said to her:  Keep The Rubber Side Down.
I kept on running and we immediately hit a hill.  I remember this hill from last year and power up it and run past people.  I catch up to a woman who is breathing so hard it's annoying.  I have to kick it in to get past her as I can't stand it.  I push past her and the mile marker shows up and my watch beeps.  I look down and we just ran the first mile in 7:37 and I am still behind the 1:40 pacers.  This guy is running fast I think to myself but I check all my facilities and I feel great.  I'm not breathing hard and my legs are feeling awesome.  This is a process I will do at every mile marker as I don't want to push so hard that I affect my next 4 weeks of training.
After a hair-pin turn we get out around the lake and this is my course.  Before I know it we are at Mile 2....check the watch and it reads: 7:33/mi and I am still behind the pacers.  What is this guy doing?  Plan on positive splitting this race?  As I say out loud:  This guy is going way to hard for these runners two guys run up next to me and say:  Thank you for confirming that as I thought it was me.  We converse for a bit and then we go our separate ways.
At this point I have forgotten everything about this course from last year and I am just running.  I get to a point where we tackle another hill and I say:  Yup I remember this.  Not a big deal.  We get over that hill and make a right and it hits me like a ton of bricks.....there is a long uphill run before we cross over a bridge and then head down for about 50 feet before we have to start climbing again.  Miles 3 and 4 at a pace of: 7:33 and 7:35.
I am getting near Mile 5 and I am ready to execute my plan of dropping down into the 7:20s after Mile 5.  It is at this point that one of the 1:40 pacers says to another runner that if we can get past Mile 6 we are good to go.  Oh yeah, there are more climbs and Mile 6 just feels like an almost vertical climb.  As I get to Mile 5 at a pace of 7:33 and see the climbs I think to myself well you can drop down after Mile 6 is passed.
I pump my arms and my knees.  High knees up a hill and pump those arms and you don't lose your stride and can essentially climb with no issues.  It is using this method that I pass a host of runners who are panting.  I can tell that they are practically shuffling their feet up the hill.  I wonder if it is because the 1:40 pacer is going faster than 7:38 but I cannot be concerned.  I am not breathing hard, my legs don't feel sore.  My feet are not generating any hot spots so I pump up the hill and HELLO downhill.  I pass Mile 6 at 7:34.  When I see this I know that I can hold this time throughout but I want to drop and this hill will certainly help.
You essentially go straight down hill and this can do a number on your legs with the pounding but I glide down the hill and before I know it I get chicked.  I just smiled and laughed because I can here the pounding of the pavement this woman is doing and I know here quads will be shot as soon as we make the right hand turn to what is known as the Dolly Partons.  A couple of climbs and sure enough we make that right and we begin to climb Parton #1 and I pass her with ease and that would be the last I see of her.  After climbing #1 and going down hill I climb #2 with no issues and notice a woman with a neon yellow shirt that is holding a very solid pace and I want to hang with her.  We make a right and are finally running flat.  Pass Mile 7 in 7:23.  Plan is being executed.
After you pass Mile 7 there is 7-11 hill.  I call it this because there is a 7-11 on the corner and I immediately think that going up this hill is going to take 11 minutes and start laughing to myself because I never put two and two together before.  As you make the right turn to go up the 7-11 hill you have to first cross a bridge.  With the number of runners on the bridge it just bounces all over.  Remember when you were a kid in the bounce house and if your legs did not meet the platform perfectly you would almost get a dead leg?  That is what running over this bridge is like.  I am caught up to neon yellow girl and she makes a comment to another girl that this bridge sucks.  I comment to both of them that if we run faster we won't spend much time on the bridge and I pick up the pace and I power through 7-11 hill.  Off the bridge and make a turn toward Mile 8 and as I pass it I see: 7:28/mi.
The section between Mile 8 and Mile 9 is mostly flat and where the pictures are taken.  Time to get out my big smile for the camera.  After the pictures are taken it is time to get back to work.  Time to focus on those 7:20s as we are coming up on Mile 9 then Mile 10 and time to drop the hammer on the 5k portion.  Before I know it I'm passing the Mile 9 marker and the watch reads 7:34/mile.  OK, time to re-check my legs, breathing, feelings.  All feels really good.  There is some soreness in my legs and I realize that I've already now run 14 miles but that doesn't not mean that I can stop.
I climb the last, I believe, hill as I head toward Mile 10.  I am so ready to drop the hammer and it is a great feeling.  I had decided that I was going to toss my handheld at the last aid station which I assumed was Mile 10.  Wrong assumption a I had just passed the Mile 9 aid station.  I think to myself OK hold on to the bottle until Mile 11 and then toss.  I am ready to get going and Mile 10 shows up and the watch flashes: 7:38.  It is time to go.
As I start to drop the hammer the feeling is that this is uncomfortably comfortable.  Perfect I think and before I know it I am at Mile 10.5 and think OK only 2.5 miles and you can hold this.  I am just cruising right now.  I pass a few more people and pick up a few more targets.  It is all about target hunting now to keep me going until the finish line.  Quickly Mile 11 is upon me and my split for Mile 10 read: 7:20.  OK, I am dropping my times from the previous 10 miles.  This is good.
I pick-up another female runner and we run past a guy who was looking good and then just stopped.  She yells at him to keep going as it is not a time to stop.  I yell' c'mon baby we got less than 2 miles.  You can do anything for 2 miles.  Let's go.'  I have no idea if that helped him or not as we cruised past him.  It is at this point that last year's race hits me.  It was last year that I hit a wall at Mile 12 and I was promising myself that this was not going to happen this year.  I was going to push until I could not push anymore.  This was going to be REDLINE RACING.  I pass the Mile 12 marker and my watch reads: 7:36.  What just happened?  I'm running harder but going slower?  I then decide to lengthen my stride.
Lengthening my stride allows me to control my breathing.  It is at this point that I realize that the woman I passed was literally running on my shoulder.  I could basically feel her breathe on my neck. I turn around and ask her what her goal is.  She says I don't have one but am I bothering you.  I tell her it is not a bother (it really is) but that this is not an 'A' race and I want to pace her the rest of the way to her goal.  She says well I hit the wall back there but hanging onto your heel as helped me tremendously.  OK, then let's go.  We start running hard.  I get to Mile 12.5 and I can feel that I am losing my fuel in my tank.  She is now outpacing me.  I then hear a few more footsteps and sure enough another runner was on my right and I was going to do my best to not let him pass me.
We turn the corner and it is the finisher's chute.  I've got nothing left and put it into cruise control to avoid injury and he passes me but by only a few feet.  I hang with him as long as I can.  As we come up on the finish line I see the time and I think to myself.....REALLY!  I cross through the finish line and move quickly to my left and put my hands on my knees.  I want to collapse but I know if I do two things are going to happen.  1- I won't get back up 2- The medical people will be there in a rush and it will take forever ton convince them I don't need help.  I walk a few steps and bend over again.  After a few moments I walk to get my medal and a bottle of water.
It is at this point that I look at my watch and see my overall time for the event:  1:38:42 unofficially.  This is just two minutes off of my 1/2 Marathon PR.  I am so fired up because I had just run a half-marathon two short weeks after a half-ironman at a pace of 7:31/mile.  I needed some confidence building and validation that I could run 7:15s in Vegas to qualify for Boston.  Having no taper and lots of wear and tear on my legs from the year and to put up a time like I did I am beyond ecstatic.
[caption id="attachment_4639" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Getting Ready To Load Up At Breakfast"]shannon-karen-jason-drchalfmaratho_race_report[/caption] I waited at the finish line for Karen to come through.  I did something that I almost never do and that is stretch.  It was great to actually loosen up the muscles and need to follow that more often.  Of course it was then that I started to notice that my feet were hurting.  Iran this race in my new Brooks T7 racers which I love but probably not the smartest move to run in them today.  That being said as I'm writing this my feet feel great now.
After the race we headed over to Cafe Brazil with Shannon of Iron Texas Mommy along with firends Marcy and Steve.  This was the perfect place to end a great day.
My plate consisted of:
  • 2 Egg White Veggie Tacos, Sweet Potato Fries and Guacamole
  • 1 Pumpkin pancake from Karen with honey and maple syrup
  • Copious amounts of water and Decaf Holiday Blend Coffee (which is really a Fall Blend and was great)
I am going to enjoy watching Football and now and then this evening pack up my swim bag as training continues tomorrow and I have my eye on the prize:

3:10 (7:15/mile pace) at the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon

Published in Race Reports
Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:31

Where Is My Speed?

[caption id="attachment_4677" align="alignright" width="148" caption="Had Very Good Running Economy at the US Open"]Toyota_US_Open_Championships_triathlon[/caption] I am not writing this post about the fact I am afraid of qualifying for Boston.  I am writing this post because I want to talk about the lack of speed I displayed at 70.3 Austin.  It has been haunting for the past few weeks that my time at the half-marathon was 1:53.  This is not a horrible time by any means but when your goal is in the 1:40 range then there is a problem. Add in the fact that after that race I ran 18 miles at a 7:51/mi pace, then two half-marathons (one in training and one in a race) at times of 1:39 and 1:38 and I think you can understand my dilemma with trying to cope with a 1:53 or 8:40/mi pace.  Yes it was hot, yes it was hilly but in the end those are excuses and there were others that had to run that race and ran it faster than 1:53. As I do with all things pertaining to race day and breaking down my race I emailed Coach to tell her of my disappointment in the run.  As is always the case she talked to me in terms that I can understand.  This was her response to my email:
I am sure that is a struggle for you but, let me say that what you run at regular pace and what you do after a hard race pace bike effort are very different, most of the time....
I run a 3:10-3:15 Marathon.. ran a 3:47 at Kona, my goal based on that was 3:40-3:55
I usually run about a 1:28-1:30 half marathon... ran a 1:40 at Vegas... goal was 1:38-1:45
In trying to do the math I noticed that the marathon was a 15% difference between 3:15 and 3:47 and the half-marathon was 10% difference between 1:30 and 1:40.  For me that means that my half-marathon of 1:38 which is 98 minutes would equate to a 1:48.  1:48 is what I ran at 70.3 Oceanside in April.  Is that 10% a standard?  Probably not but it is a good gauge.  Even when I ran the DRC Half-Marathon I thought that the time of 1:38 was incredible considering I had tired legs and started to equate that to running off the bike but I guess it is not exactly the same.
Matt Fitzgerald wrote and article on this very topic for, which you can read here, and it compares Hunter Kemper to Greg Whiteley.  The article points out that Whiteley was a better pure runner than Kemper but when it came to the running portion of a triathlon that Kemper always was better.
Here is an excerpt from the article that helps to explain the disparity with pure running and running in a triathlon:

Why some triathletes run better off the bike than others is not fully understood, but it appears to have something to do with differences in how individual athletes’ neuromuscular systems are wired. In a 2010 study by Australian researchers, about half of the triathlete subjects tested exhibited involuntary changes to their normal running mechanics after riding a bike. These changes reduced their running economy.

Were the triathletes who maintained their running economy off the bike more experienced or better trained? No. The difference was hardwired. This was shown in a previous study by the same researchers involving elite triathletes. All of the triathletes in that subject pool were experienced and extremely well-trained, yet almost half of them also exhibited the same economy-spoiling changes in running form after cycling.

The best triathlon runners typically run 5–6 percent slower over a given distance in a triathlon than they do in a running race of the same distance. It would be helpful if this figure could be held up as a universal standard. In that case you could test the disparity between, for example, your freestanding 10K time and your Olympic-distance triathlon 10K run split and know that, if the disparity was 7 percent or greater, you could adjust your training to close that gap. But, because of differences in hardwiring, there is no universal standard. Some triathletes can’t come within 5 percent of their standalone run times in triathlon even with perfect training.

The goal right now is to get faster, especially with Vegas coming up, but so that my running economy has a much smaller difference when I run off the bike.  This week I rode for two hours and then ran 20 minutes off the bike.  I can say that I was running 7:24s off the bike in those 20 minutes and my legs felt great.  Maybe the marathon training is improving my running economy already but we won't know for sure until I rack my bike in T2 in Puerto Rico and head out on the run and try to close the gap between 1:36 and that finishing time.

How Close Are Your Stand Alone Run Times Versus Your Triathlon Run Times?

Published in Train
Wednesday, 19 October 2011 11:44

It's Taper Week

[caption id="attachment_4506" align="alignright" width="192" caption="I'm In The Zen Zone!"]taper_calmness_ironman_triathlon[/caption] Today is Wednesday and this is the third day of taper week and what's crazy about this crazy week is that it is not crazy.  I don't have the requisite taper madness going on.  I am not sitting here worrying that I did not train hard enough or put in enough miles.  I am not concerned about nutrition or hydration.  I have no concerns over travel.  What is going on?  Isn't this supposed to be the week that I freak out? I could be calm, cool and collected because I have so much going on outside of the triathlon training and racing world that I am not noticing that taper madness has set in.  In observing myself for the past few days though there really is no taper madness going on.  Is this a good thing?  I'm not sure.  Maybe the taper madness doesn't exist for me because this is not my first shot at the 70.3 distance.  Maybe I'm not crazed because I have ridden the bike course twice and know it and feel comfortable riding in Austin. Things are supposed to happen and freak you out but this week I've rolled with the punches.  I am even at the point where I am not eating everything in sight thinking that I need more and more carbs.  This is starting to freak me out.  Here are a few examples of what has transpired this week and how I've handled it. 1- Problem: Figured that my original hotel was too far from the race site and that I would be driving extremely early in the morning to get to transition. Solution: Remembered I had a GroupOn for a hotel in Austin and called and booked room that was approximately 30 minutes away from race start.  Cancelled old hotel room which would have been about 40 minutes from race start.  Saving 10 minutes is great.  Saving at least a hundred dollars is better. 2- Problem: Need to bring El Diablo into local bike shop for tune-up and cleaning.  Planned on doing Monday morning but remembered had trainer ride on Tuesday and wanted to use El Diablo versus spin bike at gym. Solution: Check calendar for work meetings and notice a hole between 11a and 3p.  Pack bike up in car after Tuesday trainer ride and drop off in between sessions.  Bike will be ready on Thursday and I will pick it up and finish off my training for the day. 3- Problem: Local Bike Shop has just re-arranged all their nutrition and has run out of EFS Liquid Shot, even the refill bottle. Solution: Remember that I have a meeting with business partner for lunch on Wednesday and that there is another local bike shop near the lunch meeting place.  Problem solved. 4- Problem: Local Running Store only has Yankz and not speed laces.  My Brooks T6 don't have speed laces so I need some.  The Yankz are too long and I don't like them. Solution: Use laces from Yankz.  Cut off the plastic pieces and put the quick release clasps on the Yankz laces.  Problem solved. I may have to go into taper mode more often because I am thinking more clearly now than I ever have.  Ever since my debacle of a training session a few weekends ago where I was experiencing burnout my energy has been through the roof.  Training sessions have never been better.  I'm running faster than I have all year. I am going to officially say that I am ready for this race and what the day has to bring.  Oh, they just changed the run course but in my new Taper Mind I am blowing it off as no big deal.  The run will now be 3 loops instead of 2 and that's just fine.  I'll just run faster so I don't get bored with the scenery.  

Have You Ever Experienced Taper Madness?

Have You Ever Experienced Taper Calmness?

Published in Train
Thursday, 13 October 2011 11:44

Triathlon Continues To Grow

We have all heard or read about the increase in popularity of triathlon.  Data ranging from the a growth of 14.2% from the end of 2008 to the end of 2009.  Or how about these stats from USA Triathlon:

Recent reports from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, coupled with the continued rise of USA Triathlon’s annual membership total, demonstrate the sustained growth of multisport – specifically triathlon – within the United States.

According to the SGMA, there were 1.2 million on-road triathlon participants in the United States in 2009, and another 666,000 Americans participated in an off-road triathlon last year. The 1.2 million on-road triathletes represent a growth of 11.1 percent over the last year and a 51.4 percent growth since 2007, according to the SGMA.

The 666,000 off-road triathletes in 2009 marked a 10.6 percent improvement over the last year and a 37.9 percent growth since 2007.

Additionally, USA Triathlon’s annual membership total reached an all-time high of nearly 133,000 on March 31. This figure, which was a 4.8 percent improvement over March 2009, included nearly 31,000 youth members – a 24.8 percent growth over this same time a year ago.

“The continued growth of the multisport lifestyle across all disciplines and distances is a strong reflection of this country’s desire to focus on healthy living,” said USA Triathlon CEO Skip Gilbert. “Incorporating not one but a multitude of sports into an individual’s training and competition schedule has simply exploded in popularity, and we at USA Triathlon are proud to be able to support these individuals’ passions.”

USAT’s recent annual membership total demonstrates the organization’s continued growth, specifically over the past decade. USAT had 21,341 annual members in 2000 and totaled 58,073 annual members in 2005. The current total of nearly 133,000 annual members represents approximately 523 percent growth since 2000 and 129 percent growth since 2005.

According to the SGMA, there are 694,000 core on-road triathlon participants in the United States and another 413,000 core off-road triathlon participants. The SGMA defined core participants as athletes that competed in at least two races per year.

[caption id="attachment_4467" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Rev3 Triathlon Series"]Revolution3_Triathlon_Series[/caption]

It doesn't end there as a couple of announcements over the past few months proves.  First there was Revolution3 announcing that they launched a new race in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.  The newest site will have both Olympic and Half-Ironman races on August 26th.  Direct from the press release is this description of OOB365: Old Orchard Beach is a beautiful 7-mile strip of sandy beach that has operated for more than 170 years.  The beach welcomes families and tourists alike, encouraging them to take advantage of weekly fireworks and concerts, fishing, whale watch tours, top-notch golf and more.  The crown jewel of Old Orchard Beach is it’s pier, which stretches out nearly 500 feet over the Atlantic Ocean.  The Pier is home to restaurants, shops, games and nightlife.  Families are also encouraged to visit Palace Playland Park, New England’s only beachfront amusement park.   “Old Orchard Beach is a great addition to our race roster.  It’s a beautiful area with a lot of history and OOB365 has been a great partner in helping us to realize the full potential of the location,” says Charlie Patten, president of Rev3.

If you thought that they would stop there you would be wrong.  4 days ago another event was announced by Rev3 and this one takes place the weekend of October 27, 2012 in Sarasota,Florida.  The distance is going to be a Half-Ironman.  From their press release is the following: “We’ve wanted to bring a race to Florida, and Sarasota is the perfect location,” said Charlie Patten, President of Rev3. “Sarasota is a beautiful area and offers numerous activities for families to enjoy and a unique and challenging course for our athletes.”

My only issue is they could have chosen a better picture to start the video with.  Does this start make you want to click and/or race this event?

[caption id="attachment_4466" align="alignright" width="184" caption="HITS Triathlon Series"]hits_triathlon_multisport_series[/caption] Not to be outdone HITS Triathlon Series just announced the first Iron-Distance race in Colorado.  The new race will take place the weekend of July 28-29 in Fort Collins, CO.  This series of events will replace the series that was to take place on the same weekend in Galena, IL. In case you don't know what HITS is it is a national race series that will feature races at all 5 distances for an entire weekend.  Confused as to the 5 distances, please allow me to clear it up for you.  They will have the normal Sprint, Olympic, Half-Ironman and Ironman distances but also will include what they call the Open Distance.  This distance covers the following:  swim 100m, Bike 3 miles, Run 1 mile.  Cost for this new distance:  $0.  That's right this distance will be free to enter and it will provide a great backdrop for people to get involved with what I believe to be the greatest sport in the world. The HITS Triathlon Series intrigues me because they have 11 events throughout 2012 scheduled that will culminate with a National Championship on December 2,  2012 in Palm Springs, CA.  Not only will they have a National Championship but your competition is those in your age.....not age group.  On 12/31/2012 I will be triathlete age 39 so I will be competing only with those that are 39. I just got into the sport but I love it.  I love the passion of the participants.  I love seeing the volunteers and their smiles.  Triathlon is more than a sport, its a way of life.

Have You Heard Of HITS?

Where Do You Think A Triathlon Should Be Raced?

Published in Race
Friday, 30 September 2011 12:11

Toyota US Open Championships Goals

toyota_us_open_championships_triathlon_dallas_texasThe Toyota US Open Championships are this Sunday (10/2/11) and I will be racing with teammate Robert Swan and a few other friends. This race holds a special place in my heart because it was my first Olympic distance triathlon.  I learned so much from this race and used it as a springboard for 70.3 Oceanside in April 2011.  I also learned that I need to figure out how to pee on the bike during this race.  If you have ever read my race report from last year you will recall that I had a completely full bladder on the bike but had not yet learned how to become the Golden Warrior.  After that race I spent my training rides learning how to relieve the pressure and keep going on the bike.  Today I am proud to say that I not only pee on the bike, but I can pee while I run too.  Remember minutes are the enemy. The 2011 triathlon racing season is drawing to a close for me.  After the race on Sunday I will be racing 70.3 Austin on October 23rd and then converting to a runner for the rest of the year.  This season has brought PR after PR at the Olympic distance and this race should be no different.  In evaluating my training as well as my performances this year I believe that I can go sub-2:30 at this distance.  This will be a tremendous improvement from last years 2:53. My goals are attainable and I wonder if I am just giving myself a crack to not push myself harder.  I have gone through the numbers from each of the Olympic distance races this year but have I truly thought about how hard I pushed myself to get to those times?  The answer to that question lies somewhere between I'm not sure and Can you really go harder? I am not one to put a limit on myself but I am also realistic in my abilities.  If I have been running a 7:30/mile pace the idea that I would somehow run a 6:30/mile pace is just not realistic.  When I assess my ability and my goals I try to make sure that they are one in the same.  I don't want to be disappointed when I finish because I always view race day as the present for all the hard work that went into getting to the starting line.  For me, racing is the fun part of this sport.  Standing next to your fellow competitor about to put everything on the line.  Push your limits and exceed expectations. That being said on Tuesday I did some open water swim practice and it was the best open water swim I have had since the CapTex Tri on Memorial Day.  The water felt like it was gliding over me and that gave me a renewed confidence of my ability to swim much faster than I have all season and faster than I ever have in competition.  Knowing what I am capable of doing on the bike based on my split at Disco Triathlon this year, and my run time from Austin Triathlon a few weeks ago I am ready to crush my 2:53. Here are my goals for the Toyota US Open Championships: Swim: 28:00 - 30:00 (PR at Olympic distance race with wetsuit:  31:40.)  Last year I swam this event in 37:33. Bike: 1:08 - 1:10 (PR at Olympic distance race is 1:08:29.)  Last year I rode the course in 1:18:16. Run: 45:00 - 47:00 (PR at Olympic distance race is 46:09.)  Last year I ran the 10K in 53:23. Transitions: Total time 4 minutes 16 seconds. Final Time: 2:25:16 - 2:31:16 The weather for this race is shaping up to be perfect with overnight temps in the 60s which should lead to race time temps right around the 70s.  The water is perfect and because it is a protected harbor there is not much chop to deal with.  Toss in the idea that we have a drop in from a dock start and there is no mass swim start.  You can pick your line right out of the gate and go. The bike course has been adjusted for the first 9 miles to eliminate problem areas which should lead to much faster bike splits compared to last year.  With improved endurance and the new Speedfil A2 on my aero bars my bike time should match the Disco Triathlon. As mentioned two paragraphs above the weather should be perfect which would be a 180* change from last year's event where the temps at the finish were at 90*+. Look for the race report and recap next week on whether or not I pushed myself or coasted to these times. ==================== [caption id="attachment_4279" align="alignright" width="293" caption="I wonder what she sees in him....."]andy_potts_ironman[/caption] My wife, Karen, is looking to PR as well at this course.  Except that her PR involves seeing Andy Potts as many times as possible, getting a picture and possibly an autograph from him.  This will be my third time racing on the same course as Andy Potts and he's beaten me every time so in my last shot I need to redeem myself and get my wife back in my good graces.....HA!
Published in Race
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