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!