Monday, October 28, 2013

Lafayette Reservoir Run

The last time I did this run was in 2009, which was the first year I started running. It is a great local event but it seems like every year I'm just too busy to run it. It was a last minute decision to even run it, but I decided we had nothing going on that morning and I could use some practice with the 5k distance. Normally I run about 8 5k's a year and since I started focusing on triathlon I haven't gotten anywhere near that number this year.

It was a very cold morning but I knew I wouldn't want to run in long sleeves so I had stand around for about 45 minutes shivering and trying to stay warm prior to the 5k start. There were so many kids it was crazy. I tried to remind myself not to get frustrated and just have fun. I knew I would take the first half of the run slow as it's a gradual uphill until you hit the turn-around and then you get to enjoy the gradual downhill on the way back. There is no timing mat at the start of this race (see my boo-hoo face here) so I tried to get as close to the front as possible without being an asshole since I wouldn't be running a six minute mile. I hit the start button on my watch as soon as the horn sounded and I had no idea where the official start line was since it wasn't marked. I kept to the left side all of the run and carefully maneuvered around kids (I'm getting better at this). At one point a boy veered in front of me and his Mom told him to run a straight line, I wanted to hug her, but that would probably be inappropriate. A little further on there were three girls who were running three wide with a father behind them. He saw me coming and asked the girls to move over so I could pass. Score another point for the responsible parents teaching their kids excellent race manners!

I was never so happy to see the turn-around because that  mean downhill! Not a huge downhill but just enough to to pick up the pace and make it feel not horrible. I focused on holding good running form and a steady pace. I was super stoked to be able to see the finish line as we made our way back down Mt. Diablo. I had a couple of options. One was to let my watch run until I hit the finish line, which would end up being long since I started my watch at the horn and not at a start line. The second option was to stop my watch at the 3.1 mark to see how well I ran the actual 5k distance. Knowing I was running some extra distance I stopped my watch at the 3.1 distance and continued to sprint to the finish line. The race clock said 30:20 as I crossed, my watch said 30:10 for the 3.1 distance. That was a nice surprise, my best 5k time is 30:10 from the Oakland Running Festival in March. Somehow my official race time is 30:28, not sure how they came up with the extra 8 seconds, but whatever. It was a very good run for me and I was very pleased.
Two more weeks and I get to run the Mermaid Run SF. It has been a long time since I have run this race without a group of mini-mermaids, so I'm looking forward to it!

11/31 AG
3:58 course PR

Friday, October 25, 2013


I am supposed to be focused on running right now, and I'm doing my best to do that, but I'm having so much fun swimming!

I've always been a loner athlete. I love working out by myself, it is sometimes the only chance that I get to be alone with my thoughts. Never in a million years did I think I would get so much out of a group workout, but I love masters swimming. Granted, there are never more than 7 or 8 of us and I typically always have a lane to myself but it has been really beneficial. Not only have I started swimming all four strokes but yesterday I had the chance to do timed swims and learn how to dive off of the blocks. I think part of the reason I love running so much are those endorphin's you get after a run, it makes the pain and suffering all worth it. I've never experienced those with swimming or cycling. But yesterday, I did.

The nice thing about swimming a timed 50 is that you can go all out, there is no pacing yourself for a longer swim or pacing yourself for a bike and run after your swim. I really enjoyed the timed swims, even though I thought I was going to hurl afterwards. It turns out those short sprints, I want to hurl feeling bring on the endorphin's!

I am relieved to report that I swam 50 yards of freestyle of faster than my 8 year old. Although that may not last long as she has a meet coming up. It also turns out that my 50 yards of breaststroke is nearly as fast as my freestyle. Coach wants to time me on 100 of freestyle next time to better gauge what I'm capable of for a 400, since that is what I swim most in the triathlon swim leg.

This weekend I'm running the Lafayette Reservoir Run, a fun community event. So don't worry, I'm getting my running in!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

See Jane Run Tri

Always a beautiful sunrise at Shadow Cliffs

The last triathlon of the season made me remember why I like triathlon. I didn't have any goals for this race given my shoulder injury, other than to cross the finish line and not damage my shoulder any further. So it was basically a great day considering i did all of those things and more.

I opted to go without a wet suit for this race. I knew the water would be warm enough, I felt confident enough in my swimming to now that I didn't need the extra flotation and I didn't want to tweak my shoulder trying to get in or out of the wet suit. That turned out to be a great idea since the water was really nice and warmer than the air temperature.

When I arrived at transition I set up in the dark in the same spot we had last year which was right next to the bike out/in and the run out. Only I didn't notice in the dark that this year it was only the bike in and the bike out was clear at the other end of transition along with the swim in. Mary Sue pointed this out once the sun came up. Transition was much longer this year so that would mean more distance to cover running through transition for T1 but I would be in a great spot for a fast T2. I didn't worry about it, especially since my largest concern for the day was my shoulder holding up on the bike. The funny part about this race is that it attracts a lot of newbies so all of a sudden that makes me an expert because a, I've done this race before and b, this was my 4th tri. It makes me giggle but I was happy to answer questions and help any first timers. As we started to wander over to the water for a quick warm up a woman approached us and asked if either of us had an extra set of goggles. Of course I did, I always carry an extra set in case one breaks. So I headed back to transition and grabbed the extra set. It was nice to help out someone else on race day and she was very grateful for the loan.

Once we hit the water, I jumped right in, it felt great, so I knew the decision to leave the wet suit at home had been a smart one. I watched the two heats n front of me head out in all of the race day excitement. Last year I had been so nervous about the swim that I lined up towards the back and to the right to stay clear of the faster swimmers. In hindsight that had not been a great idea because there weren't that many super fast swimmers. I got caught up with people doing backstroke and used a lot of extra energy trying to figure out how to get around people. This year I lined up in front and to the left (basically as close to the first turn buoy as I could get). As I waited for out start I watched two women get towed back to shore by lifeguards. This made me sad, to think that their day was over before it had even really started. I reminded myself that I was strong swimmer and not to let the sight of that freak me out. After a quick pep talk we were off. I felt great, my sighting was great and my breathing was going well. But damn if there wasn't a woman next to me doing backstroke! The funny thing is, it appeared that this was her race strategy. Last year the women who were doing it, were doing it because they were tired. This woman looked very confident doing backstroke for the entire swim. I wondered how that would work out for her at the turn buoy and cruised past her. As I made the first I still felt great, the shoulder felt great and I could really feel the difference in my kicking. All of that kicking in masters when I couldn't my use my arms was really paying off. Before I knew it I was approaching land and passing people who decided to start walking through the water (thanks Molly for teaching me to swim until my hands are grabbing the bottom). As I excited the water I started jogging up to transition and removed my cap and goggles and passed a few women who were walking. As I corseted the transition mat I did a little jump for joy when I saw my time! I had shaved 1:34 off of the swim from last year.

I ran through the long transition, put on my shoes, helmet and sunglasses, grabbed my bike and ran through the long transition again. At the mount line I mounted the bike pretty well considering how nervous I was about getting on and off the bike with the new set-up and a 3 cm raised seat. Up the hill and out onto the course. I passed a few people as I tried to settle into the bike and take in some nutrition. I made the rookie mistake of forgetting to open my ziplock bag with my chews in it before the race started. So I struggled for a little bit trying to get to those suckers, but eventually I did. As was the case last year, the bike was cut short to 8.5 miles. I felt like that would be my saving grace on the bike considering how little saddle time I had due to the injury. I wasn't looking to do anything special other than not hurt myself and still have something left for the run. I was passed by a lot of people on the bike course, but I tried to not let it get me down and reminded myself that I had only been on the bike twice prior to the race. The miles ticked a way and as I approached the park I could see runners. Um, I guess they changed the run course this year. I don't remember them mentioning the course had changed, otherwise I probably would have looked at the map. I assumed this also meant that the run course would really be a 5k this year, since last year it was only 2.5 miles. Oh well. i headed down the hill into the park and dismounted without crashing (another win!).

I swapped out my shoes, grabbed my race belt, visor and Gu and headed out on the run. The glorious part about my physical therapy taping my back for posture was that it insured that I could not slouch on the run, this really helped quite a bit. i walked the uphill portions and found a nice steady pace for the flats. Lots of great cheerleaders along the course and I tried to thank them all. There was also lots of great energy from all the women racing. Lots of high-fives and way to go's. This is part of the reason why I love all women events. On one of the last uphill portions my knee started to cramp, right int eh same area that it has on every multi-sport event this year. I'm still attributing it lack of bike training and lack of brick training since I wasn't allowed to do any brick training this time around. Last year I was teary eyed crossing the finish line of my first triathlon. This year I was grateful to be able to race and cross the finish line with what I felt like was a strong finish with all things considered.

Swim 9:43 19/57 AG (-1.34)
T1: 2:17 10/57 AG (-.04)
Bike 37:05 37/57  AG (+2.14)
T2: :41 4/57 AG (-.32)
Run 33:11 24/57 AG (+2.31)

Overall: 1:23:52 26/57 AG (+2.53)

I am super happy with the day I had. I made a huge improvement on the swim and also took times off both transitions. Fourth fastest T2 in my age group! I knew I would add time to the bike with the lack of training, and while I added time to the run the course was also over a half mile longer than last year. This was a great way for me to end the triathlon season and is encouraging news for next year. Especially since I shouldn't hate my bike so much now that I have a proper fit.

Now to focus on running!
Thank you TriSports for your support! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Race week and the bike

The dreaded bike. One day I will be awesome on the bike, until then it's baby steps. I still owe a post on my bike fit, which I will get to after this weekend's race. the details are all pretty cool but because of my injury I haven't been able to fully reap the benefits of the new fit, so I've been holding of on posting about it.

When I started training for this race I had been off the bike all summer playing sherpa to my two little swimmers. So when I got on the bike it was evident that my body and my bike were done with each other. Two weeks in I was in so much pain that I had to stop all training and scheduled an emergency bike fit. After the fit I was excited and nervous to try it out (we raised my seat 3cm) and return to training. I may have been a little too excited and didn't really give my body the time it needed to heal from the terrible position I had put my body through while riding a poorly fitted bike for so long.

Wednesday, following my bike fit I started masters. I was so excited that our pool and my daughter's coach had decided to offer a masters program for the fall and that it was geared to all of us mom's who couldn't get to the pool until 9am. I jumped in full steam and was super excited to be adding yardage to my swims. That's when my body said no more. Having not fully recovered from the back and neck strain of my poor bike fit and increasing my swimming equaled total body failure. I woke up one Saturday morning in so much pain that I took myself to the urgent care. I knew they wouldn't be able to do much for me but I wanted an rx for physical therapy so I could work on repairing my body and continue to train. They also gave me some muscle relaxers to get those muscles to stop spasming at the constant rate that they were. It took about 5 days for the worst of it to pass. We're talking child birth levels of pain and absolutely no way to get comfortable enough in bed to sleep at night.

Sadly my trusted physical therapist has moved and practices in Santa Cruz now. I had to go blindly into PT and hope that I would find someone as knowledgeable as her, but based on everyone's bios I wasn't sure that would be the case. I was asked to not do any activity for 3 days (the horror) which I accepted. It was better to take the time early on then to be in a position where I wouldn't be able to race on race day. When I came back after those three days they asked me to stay off the bike and not swim for 3 more days. I was sulking a little bit but I followed orders. Running seemed to be okay as long as when I got fatigued I remembered to keep my shoulders back and down. When I returned to the pool I kept the yards low and stuck to only kicking, which is entirely miserable for someone who is a puller. I tried to look at it from the prospective of it would make me a better swimmer in the long run. Eventually I added breaststroke to the kicking and even tried some butterfly kicking. The hard part is that holding a kick board is only comfortable for so long, so I had to experiment with different ways of holding the board and not using it at all. Eventually I broke out the fins to help with all of the kicking and then developed blisters on my feet from using those so much of the time. Some days it feels like you just can't win.

Slowly I started adding in some freestyle to test it out. As long as I kept it minimal I seemed to do okay. While I was gaining more mobility in my neck and the terrible spasms had decreased I just wasn't seeing any improvement. I was finally given the go ahead to try the bike. A week ago Sunday I hopped on my bike (on the trainer) to give it a shot. It was miserable, it hurt so bad that I was only able to ride for 10 minutes. I was devastated and running out of options.

I decided to see my sports massage therapist. I felt like my back was still in knots and we just weren't being aggressive enough to work those out in physical therapy. I spent 30 minutes having my back, shoulders and neck tortured. Afterwards, I was sore, but I felt good, I felt like in a couple of days there would be a huge payoff. She said my entire back, shoulders and neck were still really inflamed, but that in a couple of days the tissues should start to repair and it should start to feel better. The next day I hit the pool, which was not one of my best ideas. While she had for sure released a lot of those muscles and I was actually able to lay normally at night and sleep without pain, I think swimming so soon aggravated the most tender spot on my shoulder. I knew though, that I was headed in the right direction. I visited the PT the next day and after I left immediately felt like she had made it worse. Argh.

By Saturday morning I was super depressed and for the first time ever had to consider the idea I may not be able to race. While this is not a super important race for me, I still knew it would make me really sad to have a DNS. I had asked my PT about taping the shoulder but taping isn't anything that she specializes in or has much knowledge of. I knew I had to take things into my own hands if I was going to have a shot at showing up race day. I got out my rock tape and taped up my shoulder. I got on the bike and set out to ride for 30 minutes, which I did. I felt triumphant for sure. Saturday's bike portion will only be a little over 8 miles due to construction so I'm feeling confident that my body will hold up for the shortened bike portion.

On Monday a different PT taped my back for posture. Mostly to insure that I don't fall into a slouched position due to fatigue and cause more pain. I tested it on the swim, bike and run this week and it doesn't seem to hinder anything (we were mostly worried about positioning on the bike) so I'll return on Friday to get re-tapped for Saturday's race.

What a roller coaster. I'm excited to race on Saturday and while I know the bike is going to be tough and I haven't trained in the manner that I had planned, I'm thrilled to actually be able to race and get my last triathlon in of the year.