Saturday, November 20, 2010

Finally! Some Pics From CDA

Here are a few images of the place where I had the privilege of racing my first full Ironman this year.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

3 More Sleeps...

...until Clearwater! This is the 70.3 World Championship triathlon event, and my first time competing in it. Should be a hoot! Mom and Dad are making the trek down from Indiana to spectate. I'm not quite sure they know what they are getting themselves into...half Ironman races take a lot longer than cross-country events! I hope they bring lots of sunscreen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back From The Dead

Greetings from the long-lost triathlete! It's been a long and wild summer, and today it is snowing. Looks like we skipped over that while "autumn" season.

My apologies for being a complete sloth with regards to this blog. It's been almost 4 months (!!!) and no word from me. I took some time off after the Ironman to do some grown-up things, like buy a house. Albert and I closed on a lovely brick bungalow in Ogden two days after the Iron-experience, then from there we had a slew of friends and family come from out of state to visit. To make things even more exciting we decided to adopt a second dog, Suzzie the German Shepherd. Then Albert started school, and I've been busy adjusting to being a homeowner and commuting to work in Salt Lake 5 days a week. Oh yes, and figuring out how to maintain my training regimen within all of this. Never a dull moment, as my mother would say!

I've done a smattering of races since the Ironman, including a few running events and two triathlons. Other than winning my first 5K ever (and finishing ahead of Albert in the process!) the running events have just been run-of-the-mill for me. I'm still struggling with some lingering issues in my left leg so training in that department has been sub-par. Swimming and biking have been going pretty well, on the other hand, and it shows. I put together two solid performances at the Kokopelli Triathlon in St. George (Olympic Distance) and the other weekend in the 70.3 Austin. I just wish I had the run to back up my swim and bike going into the World Champs in Clearwater in a couple of weeks!

Next post: some pictures illustrating what I've been up to in the past few months!

Friday, July 2, 2010


Just a little teaser update from the Ironman last weekend so that the Gilmour Girl in Memphis stops giving me a hard time (thanks for keeping me honest, Laura!):

Despite the fact that I have been doing triathlons for 10 years now, the 2010 Ironman Coeur d'Alene was my first stab at the full ironman distance. It was a good day and I'm pretty pleased with the effort considering my long-distance rookie status. I was 4th out of the water, 4th off the bike, then wound up 9th female at the finish in a time of 10 hours, 7 minutes, 15 seconds. Obviously there is room for improvement, especially on the run segment, but it was a solid effort. The feeling of running along Sherman Avenue to the finish line was overwhelming, with the crowd cheering and sticking their hands out over the barriers for high-fives the whole way down. My first marathon in Chicago is the only other race that I've experienced that level of exhilaration running down the finishing stretch. Coeur d'Alene is a picture-perfect setting for this kind of race and the citizens really seem to embrace the whole event. I can definitely say that this is one of my all-time favorite races and I'd love to come back in future years and have another crack at the podium.

I have a few very special people to thank for their support at this race: my AWESOME host family, Sandy and Tom Vas Dias, for opening their home and supplying me with treats from their Sweetwater Bakery; my dear friend Tim Johnson for explaining the finer points of Ironman transitioning and providing encouragement on the run; Rebecca England, client and photographer extraordinaire who flew up just to cheer me on; and of course, Albert for making the long solo drive up from Salt Lake and then putting up with my incessant moaning about swollen ankles on the way back home. Thank you also to all the other people from Utah who were up there and cheered me by name, and to the friends and family who sent kind messages of encouragement and positive energy on race day. Your support really does give me wings!

Now back to boxing things up for the big move tomorrow. (!) More details, race and house pics to follow as soon as we have the internet set up in our new house.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Three More Sleeps...

...until the Ironman!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Things are crazy around here! I saw it lurking on the horizon like a storm cloud rolling in from the distance, but now that it has actually descended upon me I realize it's not just any old's more like being caught outside during a tornado. Lucky for me, I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie (as my realtor keenly observed) and I tend to be very productive in times like these. Here's just a taste of what the current 3 weeks of my life are like: it began with the trip to Boise for the 70.3 triathlon this past weekend, while Albert and Sherman headed off to Portland for a week to visit family and run what ended up to be a non-existent 5K at the Portland Track Festival. We are also attempting to close on a house before the 30th (fingers crossed for the tax credit!) and with Albert being gone I am the one responsible for organizing fun things like the house inspection. Not to mention we are less than 2 weeks out from Ironman Coeur d'Alene (my first stab at the distance!)...and we'd like to move ASAP after that time for my parents and college roommate Courtney to roll in from Indiana for a visit. At the same time. Which means a very full house (Courtney will have her 10-year-old daughter with her) and only 1 bathroom no matter which way you look at it. But a place with 4 bedrooms and 1 bathroom (for 6 people) is WAY better than a place with only 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom!

Needless to say, I don't have much spare time right now. So this recap will have to be short (by my standards, that is).

The Boise race on Saturday was my final tune-up going into IM CDA. I'm mostly pleased with this race, but there is part of me kicking myself for not sucking it up and being a little tougher in dealing with a rough patch on the run. I had a legitimate shot at being on the podium and I blew it between miles 5-8 when my stomach started doing something funny and I was reduced to walking in patches. Damn! Even so, I'm pleased to have mixed it up with some ladies who have pretty impressive resumes and I'm heartened to be in striking distance at this stage of my training. The swim and the bike were dreamy...I was out of the water in 2nd place thanks to my BlueSeventy Helix wetsuit, then held that position until about mile 35 of the bike. The two girls who passed me before T2 are both very strong cyclists and I was pleased to have held them off that long. The run started off well, then I hit that rough spot around mile 5 and took a few miles to get it together again. Here's a big THANK YOU to my friend and PowerBar teammate Tim Hola for offering up some encouraging words when I was struggling out there! I started feeling better just before mile 8 and picked up enough steam from there to finish strong. Two girls passed me on the run which unfortunately landed me in 6th place, just one spot off the podium. Next time! It was my highest finish at an Ironman branded event, and with the stellar field I have to be pleased with the overall result.

Boise itself is an AWESOME little vibrant city, situated in a picturesque location and full of friendly and enthusiastic people. If I were not buying a house in Utah I would seriously consider moving there. The course was great, the spectators and volunteers were amazing, and it was honestly the most fun half ironman event I've ever done. Thanks to the race directors and the city for putting on a good show, and to my wonderful homestay Rachel Corey for adopting me for the weekend! And congrats to all the people from Salt Lake who made the trip up for the race...way to represent SLC!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


In the course of training for an Ironman I have discovered that I really enjoy doing long solo bike rides...really REALLY long solo bike rides...followed by long runs (of the 10+ mile variety)...

Can't wait for Coeur d'Alene!

Girls On The Run

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to participate as a running buddy in the Girls On The Run 5K at Sugarhouse Park. Girls On The Run is a wonderful program aimed at getting elementary-aged girls involved in running, giving them a sense of empowerment and achievement and promoting a healthy and active lifestyle. One of the masters swimmers that I help coach, Susan DeYoung, is a GOTR coach at Backman Elementary and she recruited me to be a running buddy for one of her girls. We did a practice 5K at the school about month prior to the "real deal", so I had already met my runner, Jenny, and was looking forward to pacing her through another 5K. I knew this would be tougher because the course at Sugarhouse is hillier than what we practiced on, but there was no doubt in my mind that Jenny could do it!

Despite being hot and (relatively) humid, it was a great morning for a run. The festivities started early, with face-painting and hair-coloring available for the girls, as well as samples of Jamba Juice for everyone. After meeting our runners at their designated table, all the different schools came together for a group warm-up led by Cari Jung of OPT-IN Fitness. Then we headed over to the start line and the horn went off! The course consisted of two laps around the road in the park, then a little straightaway at the end into the finish line. Jenny got pretty hot during the run because she was wearing long pants, but by adopting a strategy of alternating running with walking and making sure to stay hydrated she was able to pace herself and complete the 5K in a respectable time. It was so awesome to run down the finishing chute with everyone cheering for her! Each girl got a medal as they crossed the line, and everyone also got pink GOTR t-shirts with the race #1. It was really great not only to see so many girls running, but to also see a lot of familiar adult faces out there supporting the cause. My clients Rebecca and Jordan brought their cute fluffy dog Beau along to run with their two younger kids, and I also bumped into another lady I trained for a while, Shelley Snow. It was a great event and is something I'm excited about being involved with again next year.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Going Postal

Today I swam a 5K (non-stop in a 50 meter pool!) as part of the United States Masters Swimming 5K/10K Postal National Championships. Will Reeves, one of the faithful morning crew swimmers, joined me for the effort and Albert stood in as our official timer/lap counter. The only other time I have done this distance non-stop was for the exact same event seven years ago when I lived briefly in Bloomington, Indiana and swam for the IU Masters. I somehow managed to become a national champion that time around...probably because most competitive swimmers in that age group have just finished up their collegiate careers and don't even want to get within a mile of a pool! I think my current age group will be more competitive and I don't anticipate a repeat performance. However, it was a solid effort and a great workout to get under my belt to remind myself what over-distance swimming feels like. Now 2.4 miles in five weeks is going to seem like a piece of cake!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pics From Galveston and St. George

Pics include my awesome Galveston homestay, Hud and Christine Hopkins; the funny Teapot House on Galveston Island; IM St. George spectators at sunrise; IMSG lead swimmer; bike gear set-up; cool tattoo; and kids playing in the fountain.

Long Overdue

There is a double meaning in that title...first of all, this update is well past due! The reason is that the past month has been a whirlwind of activity and travel. I visited Galveston Island, TX, the final weekend of April to do the Memorial Hermann 70.3 Ironman Triathlon. The race was originally called the Lonestar 70.3 but it was designated as the US Pro 70.3 Championships and renamed when a new sponsor stepped in. The additional prize money drew a strong international field including a smattering of previous world champions and Olympians. It was a real honor to be part of this event, and I had the luck of being hosted by a wonderful family during my stay. A big thanks to Hud and Christine Hopkins for adopting me and showing me the very best of Galveston!

The race was a good one for me…and I finally figured out the food part of the equation for this distance! The nutritional aspect of longer distance racing has been the monkey on my back for a while now. I know that my running fitness has come a long way, but I’ve struggled with maximizing that fitness because I have been getting hungry and puttering out on the run. No mas! I’ve FINALLY figured out a formula that works for me. Who knew that I could eat so many PowerGels in so little time?!

The swim part of the race was rough due to the relentless wind and I ended up getting out of the water about 5 minutes slower than usual for the 1.2 miles. It’s funny, I don’t usually think much about the swim but on that day it was the hardest part of the race for me! The bike segment was a flat out-and-back course with a steady headwind going out and a nice tailwind coming back. I tried to ride conservatively in the first half then build into a stronger second half, and was able to split 10 minutes faster on the way back in. My other focus was on having a steady intake of fluid and calories on the bike because I didn’t want have a repeat of Oceanside and run out of steam on the run. Mission accomplished! I closed with a 1:32:11 run split, a good 6 minutes faster than I’ve managed to run at the end of a half-ironman before. It’s still not in the league of what the best are running right now but, as I jokingly told Albert, I was the fastest of the slower runners on that day. My effort was good enough for 8th place female and 5th American; best of all, I nabbed a spot for the Ford Ironman 70.3 World Championships in November! It’s nice to have that qualification out of the way so that I don’t feel the pressure of chasing a spot the rest of the season. Now I can focus on getting down to work for the next big task at hand…training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene!

And speaking of Ironman races, we had one of our very own right here in Utah! The week after the Galveston race, Albert and I drove down to southern Utah for the inaugural Ironman St. George. I signed up to volunteer with body-marking, which ended up being an 8-hour date with an air-brush on Friday before the race. It was a different way of marking the race numbers and I sucked in more ink fumes than I care to remember, but it was a great way to meet the athletes up close and personal and to see things from the other side of the fence. Race morning started very early with driving out to the swim venue at Sand Hollow to help catch any stray people who needed last minute body-marking before the cannon went off. Once the athletes headed down to the swim start, I put on my spectator glasses and cheered for everyone I knew out there. It was so much fun! We watched most of the swim and some of the last bikers going out, then we took off for a little training run before heading back into town to catch more of the action. It was perfect timing; we had just gotten some sandwiches and settled down along Main St. when the first riders started rolling in! The run course was two out-and-back loops which ended up being great for spectators because we caught everyone going past four times. Aside from the cold water and some wind on the bike, the weather really could not have been any better for this time of year in St. George. The best part was knowing so many of the athletes and being able to cheer for them by name…what an inspiration! The most amazing thing I saw all day was the guy who had crashed near the end of the bike and broke his collarbone…then proceeded to walk the entire marathon. Talk about tough as nails! The real tear-jerker part of that tale is that two of his buddies ended up stopping their races and walking it with him. Very cool to see. So it was a great experience for me on many levels, not least of which was to see an Ironman in person and draw inspiration from it for my own upcoming stab at the distance. Thank you to Paul the body-marking captain for all your hard work, and to the Olsen family for giving us the run of their house for the weekend!

Since then, I’ve really been able to wrap my mind around the Ironman distance and have been training in earnest for the end of June. My training includes plenty of solo time in the saddle getting strong and practicing nutrition, as well as an increase in running volume. So far so good. I’ll do a test drive at the Boise 70.3 in mid-June (I’ve wanted to do this race the past two years but because of one broken bone or another have had to sit it out…) and then the big one is on the 27th. Anyone want to take a trip to beautiful Coeur d'Alene?!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spring is Here!

Something really exciting happened over the weekend…it suddenly became springtime in Salt Lake! It’s really wild how quickly the seasons can flip here. Our neighbor’s magnolia tree was completely bare on Friday, then got down to the serious business of flowering on Saturday and somehow reached full bloom by Sunday afternoon. The flowers are up, the grass is green and the birds are singing again. And I’m riding my bike outside quite a bit now! It certainly is much more enjoyable when it’s sunny and 70 degrees as opposed to snowing and 25. I’ve been able to get in some quality time in the saddle over the past few weeks and am looking forward to testing out my bike strength next week at the Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 on Galveston Island, Texas. This event is serving as the 70.3 US Pro Championships this year and from what I hear the course is flat, fast, and windy!

But first, I had the pleasure of participating in the Salt Lake City Half Marathon this past Saturday on what turned out to be an absolutely perfect spring morning. This is a really fun race for me because the route basically goes right through my stomping grounds and I know the course inside and out. It’s also a treat to race locally because there are always people I know along the route to help cheer me on. In fact, there are always lots of people I know actually IN the race as well! This year was no exception and I ended up doings lots of chatting in the first part of the race with several different people I know from the running and triathlon communities. My mindset going into the race was to have fun and be conservative for the first 8-9 miles then to pick it up if I felt like it and see where I finished. I thought the 1:30 ballpark would be good, considering that I was running on tired legs and have a half-ironman coming up next week, but I wasn’t really as focused on my pacing as usual---in fact, I missed the majority of the mile markers! I was slightly annoyed at myself for that because I do like to see the numbers afterwards. Oh well.

Once we swung into Liberty Park I caught a girl who said, “There are three more girls just up there, go get them!” That’s when I started looking up the road and saw that Amanda Theobald, the girl I ran most of Moab with, and Mel Lemon, my nemesis from the Salt Lake Winter Series, were not that far ahead. I had let them go early in the race and honestly had no intention of racing them going into the event…but when I could see them up ahead I thought, what the heck?! Let’s see if I can catch them! So I got down to work. I think going out more conservatively definitely paid off (chalk another one up to negative splitting!) and I was able to catch them both going up the long grind on State Street to South Temple. I remember that stretch was much more of a death march last year…it helps to be in better shape, but I also got a lift from my clients Rebecca and Jordan who were on the sidelines cheering with their adorable dog Beau when we passed the City/County building. That was AWESOME! Beau bears a strong resemblance to a Muppet or Wookie, and it was really cute to see him and Rebecca bounding down the sidewalk and cheering.

Once I rounded the corner onto South Temple I knew it was downhill to the end of the street and then just a couple of quick turns into the finishing straight at the Gateway where the crowd would carry me home. I had gotten my split at mile 10 (one of the few markers I actually spotted!) and had figured out that a sub-1:30 was in the making. But I was absolutely delighted to see 1:26 and change on the clock as I came in the finishing straight! That really was quicker than I had planned to run but I’ll take it! I know it’s small potatoes compared to how fast a lot of the girls are running these days in triathlon, but it’s a big step for me physically and mentally to run under 1:30 consistently and to do it with complete control. The next step is to build the bike fitness and dial in the nutrition so that I can put my new-found running legs to good use at the end of a triathlon!

Believe it or not, I wasn’t the only person running on Saturday. :) Albert had a good run, taking 4th place in the men’s race with a 1:13:19. My client Jed ran a 3:10 marathon, while another past-client-turned-friend, Betsy Pollack, won her age group and ran a 4:47 in her first stab at the distance---at age 61 nonetheless! These are just a few of the people I know who ran the various races; there are too many to list them all but congratulations to everyone. And thanks to PowerBar for keeping me fueled during the race, Rudy Project for keeping my eyes protected with style, and to Glen and the gang at Wasatch Running Center for supporting me in my running and triathlon endeavors!

Next up: a little trip to Texas…

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Well, I don't really know what to say about the Oceanside 70.3 last weekend other than thank goodness it's early in the season and there's a lot of time for improvement! The race itself is very well run with a great venue, and it was nice to spend a few days in sunny southern California. My homestay was TERRIFIC---thanks Felicia, Forrest, Gus and Laird!---and I had the opportunity to explore the area a little more than the last time I did this race. I also caught up with Tim Johnson (the WTC swim course director) who I know from my days at the training center in Clermont, FL, as well as some other athletes that I haven't seen in a while.

Race day itself was a mixture of ups and downs. It started off with an up: a great swim effort! I felt strong and comfortable in my BlueSeventy Helix wetsuit during the whole swim and was the fourth female out of the water, behind perennial top swimmers Leanda Cave, Pip Taylor, and Kelly Williamson (who I knew as Kelly Handel from our days as age group swimmers back in Indiana). It was a good indication that I'm getting my swimming groove back after the collarbone injury last year. T1 went smoothly, it was really great running up out of the water with all the volunteers and spectators fresh and excited!

Once on the bike I tried to settle into a rhythm and keep an eye on the other cyclists around me so as to stay in contact yet out of trouble. The ride had both highs and lows for me; I definitely felt stronger on the flats than on the guess what I'm going to be working on in the next few weeks?! I knew my bike fitness was just average going into this race, and it was especially apparent on the hills and in the windy sections. The hills were a bit harder than I had remembered and it took more out of my legs for the run than I had expected. One positive that came from the bike is that my shoulders and neck stayed relatively loose throughout the ride; in the past I’ve tightened up so much that I can’t wait to get off the bike and stand up straight! I think there might still be a couple of important positioning tweaks to make to be comfortable for an Ironman, but this is a step in the right direction.

Mentally I was prepared to run well, especially after the Canyonlands Half Marathon, and I started off running sub-7:00 pace miles. However, I quickly realized that I was low on fuel. I found myself slowing down significantly on miles 4 and 5 and gobbled up whatever I could get at the aid stations. The food helped and my second wind kicked in, only to sputter again just past the 10-mile mark. So my run split ended up being much slower than what I was aiming for, which is really disappointing after all the hard work I've put into it. However, as always there were good lessons learned along the way. First, EAT MORE! This goes for the days leading up to the event as well as the pre-race meal and on the bike. Nutrition is going to be key during the Ironman distance, and I need to get it figured out before then. PowerBar supplies me with all sorts of great fueling options and I need to diligently experiment with calorie intake to find how much I need to eat on the bike to be strong when the run comes around. Second lesson learned: you can have all the running fitness in the world, but if you haven't put in the time on the bike it's really hard to show off that run fitness!

I’ve got another 3.5 weeks until the next half ironman race in Galveston, Texas, to continue improving my fitness and race-nutrition. It’s going to fly by, so time to buckle down!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Sub Club

FINALLY!!! That 1:30 barrier in the half-marathon distance has been hanging over my head for a long time. This past weekend I "broke on through to the other side" with a 1:28:36 effort at the Canyonlands Half Marathon in Moab, UT (see pictures below). I'm really pleased to have joined that particular Sub Club, and to have achieved it through negative splitting the race. It took me a little while to settle into a pace early on and I never really had that wonderfully effortless feeling that you get when fully rested, but it was a great run nonetheless and a good fitness check going into the half ironman this coming weekend. The Canyonlands course certainly feels much better when you are in good running shape! I ended up running quite a bit of it with a girl I know from Salt Lake, Amanda Theobald, who works for the Salt Lake Running Company and runs for Westminster College. It was the first half-marathon that she has trained for and she asked if I minded if she paced off me. No problem! It was really fun running with her, and awesome to see her break 90 minutes as well. We finished just one second apart in 12th and 13th place. Nice run Amanda!

All in all it was a great weekend. Moab was its usual gorgeous self and we enjoyed some good hiking and photographic opportunities. We had dinner one night and went hiking the next morning with our new friends Christian and Kate who also ran the half and are just really awesome people to hang out with. They both ran PRs as well which of course makes the trip even more fun. (Albert did not run a PR but I suppose that when you're as fast as he is that best times don't come quite as often.) I also bumped into a bunch of swimmers from Steiner...Erin, the twins Megan and Marisa, Ben, and was great to see so many fish tackling the dry land event! And of course we saw lots of familiar faces from the running and triathlon communities...BJ and Chrystelle, Clark and Kristy, Chad Derum to name a few. Congrats to everyone who ran!

Next up for me: a short work week in Salt Lake then a flight to sunny California on Thursday for the 70.3 race in Oceanside on Saturday.

Moab Pics

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hypothermia (Or A Case Of The Stupids)

Yesterday was not a great day to be outside riding, but I had a 4.5 hour ride on the schedule and had talked my friend Allan into doing it with me. The plan was to meet at Allan's house in Bountiful and then ride northwest towards Antelope Island and maybe even over the causeway, time permitting. I knew that the forecast called for an 80% chance of rain and snow but stupid me, I was in denial. Surely it couldn't be that bad! We met at 10 and started rolling at 10:15. Another rider from the Bountiful Bicycle Club, Gary Gardiner, also joined us but was planning to only ride a couple of hours. It had already started sprinkling a bit by the time we got started and Gary turned off after only 15 minutes saying he was under-dressed for the weather. That should have been a sign because Gary is hard-core to the point of senselessness, but it still didn't seem so bad. So we kept going. And it got colder, and the rain came down harder.

After 45 minutes Allan said he would be fine with calling the ride at any time, and (silly me) I said we should go for another 15 minutes to at least make 2 hours. That was one of the dumbest calls I've ever made! The roads were getting wetter and wetter, and so were we. As is typical in Utah on a bad day, there was a headwind no matter which way we turned. My feet slowly disappeared, then my hands followed suit, making operating the brakes a tenuous endeavor and shifting darned near impossible. And then I noticed that the rain had decidedly turned to snow at some point. I was already more miserable than I've ever been on a bike before, but the snow sent me plummeting to a dark mental place that I've never quite experienced before. It was a real struggle to keep going and I think if I'd been on my own I would have stopped to have a good cry. Thank goodness Allan was there to keep me going! The last three miles were a death march on wheels but we finally made it.

I was so cold that dismounting was a trick, and then I couldn't even lift my bike or take off my shoes or helmet on my own. Allan wasn't quite as badly off as I was and he helped get me inside, made hot tea, and made me sit by the heater wrapped in blankets to warm up. I had some dry clothes in the car but was shivering so uncontrollably that I couldn't think straight and didn't have the dexterity to peel off my wet cycling kit immediately anyway. After about 15 minutes I started thawing out and was able to change clothes and instantly felt better. I eventually got it together enough to drive home, toying with the idea of trying to finish up the ride inside on the trainer. I rethought that once I got home and a) the bike on the trainer was not cooperating and b) my body felt like all it needed was a good nap. Lesson learned: listen to the weather man, and do not be so bull-headed as to try to finish the workout at all costs!

I'm feeling fine today and am back on track with training. Now the focus is to stay WARM and healthy leading up to my season openers: the Canyonlands Half Marathon in Moab next weekend, and the 70.3 California in two weeks!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rounding Out The Series

Yesterday marked the final race in the Salt Lake Track Club Winter Running Series, and we were finally graced with a clear and sunny day. Oh yes, and windy! I don't think it was as blustery as the 10K was two weeks ago, but what seemed like a fairly innocuous cross-wind to begin with turned into something to be dealt with as the race progressed. My goal once again was to build up the pace throughout the run; in a perfect race each mile would have been progressively faster. That ended up being a tall order on this particular day, but I was still able to produce a solid negative split (running the second half of the race about 30 seconds faster than the first half). It also was my best time for an open 15K (although I've only ever run 4 of them), and I took 4th place among the women with a 1:02:56. The week leading into the run hadn't really gone very well training-wise so I was pleased to be able to pull it together for a good effort.

Now if you read my post about the 10K two weeks ago you must be wondering...did I catch Mel this time? And the answer is yes! Of course it's all in good fun, and I'm absolutely thrilled to be in the same ballpark as Mel at this point. Since I'm working really hard on perfecting the negative split technique I let a lot of people go early in the run, including Mel and my client Jed and his training buddy AJ. Once I hit the turn-around I started picking it up and tried to reel them back in. I ran out of real-estate with Jed and AJ, but I managed to pick off Mel with about a mile to go. It took me a long time to catch him, but then I saw him falter slightly when another runner passed him and I knew that I had to make a move right there if I wanted to have a chance at crossing the finish line ahead of him. It was a real internal battle for me but I'm really pleased to have recognized the situation and faced it head on. So thank you Mel for unwittingly taking part in helping to make me a mentally stronger runner!

Albert also had a decent effort for the day. He had been a little off kilter this week and felt crappy during the race, but was pleased with his time end effort under the circumstances. The series has been a really great training tool for both of us in preparation for the Canyonlands Half Marathon in three weeks in Moab. That's always a fun trip, and this will be the first year that we're both running it. The week after that will mark my triathlon season debut at the California 70.3 race in Oceanside. But first, a few more weeks of solid training are in order!

Neff's Canyon

Here are some pictures from a recent hike in Neff's Canyon. I love going there in the wintertime because there's something really magical about the place. It's good for hiking, running, skiing and sledding...and we even saw someone mountain biking up in the snow once!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Winter 10K

Oh how the week has flown! We've been so caught up in watching the Winter Olympics that little else has gotten done, including blogging. So here is a quick catch-up: last weekend was the Salt Lake Track Club Winter Series 10K, the second of three installments. Just like the 5K, my goal was to build my pace throughout the run and finish strong. Unfortunately I was not able to entirely achieve this goal but it was still a pretty strong effort for this time of year. All of the races in this series are out-and-back courses on a frontage road sandwiched between I-80 and the Great Salt Lake and the winds can be really fierce out there. We were lucky to have a nice tailwind on the way out...which in turn translated into a beast of a headwind coming back home in the second half. I was pleased to be able to beat the wind and maintain a building pace throughout the first four miles, but the wind eventually won out in the last 2.2 miles and my pace slowed. I was still able to hold onto 4th place for the women with a 40:49 time, which is actually one of the faster open 10Ks I've ever run. Things are looking good for some fast half marathon times this spring!

I'm beginning to have a friendly rivalry with one of the local male masters runners, Mel Lemon, who we know from the Wasatch Athletics running group. He has always soundly beaten me in the past, but with the improvements I've made in my running over the last six months I've been getting closer and closer to him in each run. I actually passed him soon after the turnaround in this race, but he tucked in behind me for a couple of miles and conserved enough energy to be able to swing around me with maybe a half mile to go. Argh! Maybe next time I'll get him. One of my swimming clients, Jed Brain, is also doing the series this year and he watched the scenario unfold from about 10 seconds behind. He said jokingly afterward that Mel should give me half of his trophy from winning the Grand Master Champion state title at this race, since I pulled him along for a good part of the race. :)

While there were fewer participants than at the 5K, there was still a good turnout and lots of familiar faces were there. Albert took third place again, just squeaking in under 35 minutes with a 34:59 effort. He was really pleased with that. Jed ran well, and his training buddy Randall Cooper (also a triathlete) had a solid performance too. They will both be racing at Ironman Canada later this year.

Next up, the 15K! My goal again will be to build up and negative split the run. And see if I can best Mel this time! Until then, it's back to putting in consistent solid training and laying a strong foundation for the rest of the season.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Winter 5K

Albert and I ran in the Salt Lake Track Club Winter Series 5K over the weekend. This is a great little training series which includes a 5K, 10K, and 15K run, each 2 weeks apart. It is a great winter motivator, fitness gauge, and training build up for an early season half marathon, which is convenient because we're both registered for the Canyonlands Half Marathon in late March. It was a solid day for both of us with Albert taking 3rd place male (16:56) and me landing in the 5th spot for the ladies (19:22). I was really pleased to run a smart race---in a 5K nonetheless!---building up gradually so that each mile was faster than the previous one. This is the third consecutive running race that I've managed to negative split, and over three vastly different distances. Maybe I’m starting to figure this running thing out! It certainly feels much better to run this way than to go out too fast and end up in the inevitable death march.

Overall the training is clicking along. All three disciplines feel good right now and I’m just working on staying consistent and not getting too carried away early in the season. I visited Glen at Wasatch Running Center over the weekend and he helped me get fitted into some good training shoes for the start of the season. We had a really good conversation about training and nutrition, and he told me a great quote that someone once said to him: “There is no such thing as overtraining, only under-resting.” What great words to keep in the back of my mind! If nothing else, I’ve really learned the value of proper rest in the past two seasons and I’m so excited to apply this knowledge to a full racing season and see where it takes me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Winter Fun!

Whew, I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post! Lots of things have been going on. I took some down time after the Vegas marathon and did a stint of basic drill work in the pool and shoulder rehab exercises for the collarbone... and played around with cross-country skiing! The snow hasn't been that great yet this year but there's enough to groom a ski course. We’ve been going to Round Valley near Park City to escape the lovely inversion air quality in the valley (people here call it fog but I’m not fooled---it’s really smog). In addition to having cleaner air, the Park City folk are a little more laidback about dogs off leash and so Sherman gets to come along and enjoy the fun. He’s become my regular x-c skiing and trail running companion and is getting into pretty darned good shape! We’ve spotted several moose but thankfully have no charging incidents to report so far this year.

Skate skiing is a lot like swimming in that it’s very technical and takes a lot of focused patient practice to get good. This is the third winter that I’ve dabbled in x-c skiing but a lot of the subtleties didn’t really begin to click until this past month when I was able to get out consistently. I actually got to the point where I felt I wouldn't completely embarrass myself in an organized event, so I signed up for the Battle at Soldier Hollow Winter Triathlon as something fun to work towards. Incidentally, it happened to be the US National Championship event and the ITU Winter Triathlon World Championships qualifier this year. First winter triathlon ever? No worries! Why not go big early?!

The event was held at Soldier Hollow, sight of the 2002 Winter Olympics Cross-Country ski course and a stone’s throw away from Salt Lake. Wasatch Area Race Productions (WARP, also known for the Battle at Midway Triathlon) put on the race and did a great job as per usual. The Championship event consisted of a 5K run, 10K mountain bike, and an 8K ski, all on beautifully groomed cross country ski trails. Race morning was cold and FOGGY---real fog, not the soupy brown stuff that hovers over Salt Lake frequently at this time of the year. The cold actually made the fog freeze on people’s hair which was a comically magical sight. Albert (he did the race too---his first individual triathlon of any kind!) and I warmed up by doing one loop on the bike course, which honestly made me more nervous than anything else. It was tricky! The snow was softer than I had anticipated and it was a lot like riding a bike in sand. I’m a bit leery of mountain bikes anyway since the 2008 crash and my ninny instincts were kicking in. But there was really no time to dwell on it because we finished our warm-up just in time to do last-minute gear checks in transition and then BANG---we were off!

It was a mass start, with everyone starting at the same time regardless of race distance. I decided the best thing was to start conservatively then ramp it up if I felt good, but not to go crazy on the run because I would need my legs for the bike and even more so for the ski. It ended up being a wise plan because I learned an extremely valuable lesson within the first 400 meters: DO NOT RUN ON THE EDGES OF THE GROOMED TRACK!!! I saw two people get too close to the edge and KERFLOP! They sank into the soft snow up to their knees and fell right over! It was pretty funny, and I don’t think I’m the only one who laughed…but I took care to run towards the center of the track after that.

I haven’t been running much since the marathon, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that ski fitness translates pretty well to running and I was able to work my way up and finish the run near the top of the women’s field. The next order of business was tackling T1. Normally I’m really good at fast transitions, but with unfamiliar gear (not to mention frozen fingers!) I was a little slower than usual. The first part of the bike was slightly uphill over a bridge and very mushy (especially since the run also went that way), so I ran the bike to the crest of the hill before mounting. Right as I took off someone yelled to me the best piece of advice and Valuable Lesson Number Two: PICK A TIRE TRACK AND FOLLOW IT! It made a world of a difference in being able to handle the bike! Granted, there was definitely the occasional fishtail going on, and the one HILARIOUS moment when I looked at where I DIDN’T want to go and ended up riding right off the course into the deep snow (harkening back to the flailing runners earlier)…but by the second loop I’d figured it out, relaxed, and (dare I say it?) started having an absolute blast! The bike ended up being the most fun part of the whole race for me, and it was a huge mental boost in getting over the lingering fears from the broken arm crash. I’m pretty sure I was grinning from ear to ear by the end of the second loop.

The final leg was the ski and I knew that this was going to be the most physically challenging for me because I’m still not a natural skier. The course was pretty demanding, especially when your legs are already feeling worked from the run and bike. I knew the best thing for me to do was to focus on my form and not worry about anyone else. It definitely helped that I had practiced a couple of times on the course prior to the race, and the fact that it was a two-loop route also helped to mentally break it up. It wasn’t the best-feeling ski I’ve ever had but I paced myself and saw it through. The experienced skiers definitely had an advantage in this race and it’s something to aspire to. And even though I was plodding along rather than swooshing and gliding like the very best, it was still pretty exhilarating to be out on a world-class ski course on what turned out to be a gorgeous sunny blue-sky day!

The really amusing thing is that I ended up placing 9th overall and winning my age-group…which technically qualifies me for the ITU Winter Triathlon World Championships in Norway next month! HILARIOUS!!! It would be a really cool experience, but there’s no way I’m going because 1) it’s not in my budget and 2) I’d be WAY out of my league…those Europeans are SERIOUS about winter triathlon while here in the States it’s still a “growing” sport. But maybe next year if I work hard and feel I’ve really earned it…

Unfortunately, Albert did not have as good of a day out there. He experienced equipment malfunctions on every single leg of the race. What is the likelihood of that?! :( On the run his yak traks were too big and kept slipping around, then his bike wouldn't shift and he was stuck riding the whole course in a big gear...and to top it off he broke one of his skis! He was able to finish one lap of the ski but bailed after that. Despite all that he had a good time and wants to do it again next year.

Until next time.