Monday, October 28, 2013

Run or Dye

These color runs have been popping up all over, so it was only a matter of time before I did one.  These are events where you run or walk a 5k and have color thrown at and on you.  My friend got together a team and her son named us Team Zombie Chicken.  My talented friend Chris even made matching shirts for us.

Team Zombie Chicken - the "before" picture.

We even had original chicken names - I'm "Fancy Fryer."

And the "after."

The "after" selfie.
It was a fun Saturday morning with beautiful weather and a great group of people.  And hapilly, the dye was not nearly as hard to get off as it looks!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My First Triathlon Season Is In the Books

So what have I been doing with all of my free time?  Obviously, not blogging!

I sometimes can't believe I did four triathlons this season.  Each race had it's own challenges.
  • For Moraga, it was the unexpectedly hilly bike course.
  • At the Mermaid Tri, the swim was so difficult for me.
  • At the Tri for Fun, the run just seemed brutally hot and endless.
  • And of course at See Jane Run, there was the flat tire that killed my time.
But with each of these challenges comes important lessons.  So below I'll share with you what I learned from my first triathlon season...the good, the bad, and everything in between.

  • Preview the course if you can.  I should have driven over to Moraga to check out the bike course so I could have better prepared for the hills.  On the other hand, in this case ignorance was bliss!  If I had known how hilly it was I may have been scared off.
  • Celebrate the small victories.  This time last year I was excited to be able to swim 75 yards without stopping.  A few weeks ago I swam 600 yards without stopping.  But I was equally as excited when it was only 75 yards because that was a huge accomplishment for me.
  • Transition times matter.  I was looking at the results from the See Jane Run Tri, and the top 2 finishers were neck and neck in most of the sports, but the winner had better transitions times and that turned out to be the margin of victory.
  • Practice changing your bike tires!  I can't emphasize this enough.  I plan to spend these winter months getting much more familiar with my bike and how to maintain it.
  • Carry what you need to change your flat.  In retelling my story of the flat tire, a couple of other athletes mentioned that they didn't even carry a spare tube on the bike for that race.  See Jane Run is a very beginner friendly event, but there was no SAG vehicle so you could wind up stuck out there.
  • Triathletes are the most friendly, encouraging and supportive group I've ever met.  During my last two tris, I was actually giving out information/advice to newbies even though I still felt like a newbie myself.  And I've been given a wealth of information from other triathletes as well.
  • I am much more fearless - or maybe it's just stubborn - than I ever imagined.  
Remember this swim?  I'll never forget it!
  • But the biggest lesson I've learned during my first triathlon season is to be grateful and to enjoy it.  I really struggled towards the end of the season because of my hip, but there are people who are much worse off than me...people who would give anything just to be able to do any one of these three sports.  Which is why I've really enjoyed every swim and spin class that I've done in the past few weeks.

I feel like I had a pretty successful rookie triathlon season.  And I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store for me!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

See Jane Run Triathlon Event Report

I'm calling this an event report instead of a race report since there was nothing race-like about it for me.  Going into it I'd been battling a hip injury for a month and a cold the week of the race.  My goal was to finish and to just enjoy my last triathlon of my first tri season.  Little did I know how hard that would be.

I arrived dark and early at 6:00 am right when transition opened and met my race buddy, Meredith.  We had done this event last year so we racked our bikes in the same spot - right near the 'bike in/out'.  Since it was still so dark there wasn't much more we could do until the sun came up but sit in the car and wait.  Once the sun came up and we headed back down to finish getting ready, we realized that they had changed transition from last year.  We were now as far away from the 'swim in' and 'bike out' as we could possibly be.  However, since we were still close to 'bike in' and 'run out' we decided to stay where we were.  So we finished setting up, got body marked, took a picture, and headed down to the lake to warm up and wait.

The required pre-race photo and the only photo I took all day.
It was finally time for my wave to line up.  Having done a race at this same location in August, I had a better strategy for this time.  I decided to line up on the right hand side but not as far back as last time.  The horn went off and we were swimming...and I was in the thick of it.  But I was calm and confident, if still slow!  I just kept going at my pace and wound up with a PR on the swim.  A big victory for me!

I had to run a ways in T1 to get to my bike, but felt like my transition was quick and efficient for a change.

The bike starts up a hill to get out of the park, then levels out for most of the rest of the ride.  The course was shortened to eight miles due to road construction so I knew I could push a little since it wasn't far.  I had started my Garmin to track the miles when I started riding, and about 3.5 miles into the ride my bike started to feel funny.  Oh, no!  Please don't let this be a flat!  I hopped off, checked the back tire and it was fine.  So I figured it was just the road, hopped back on and kept going.  But I could tell something was wrong.  I stopped again and realized that I did have a flat, but it was the front tire. big deal.  I know how to change it.  I've got everything I need.  And here is when things went wrong...

I spent about 10 minutes trying to get my tire off the rim.  It was not coming off.  Plenty of other racers rode past and asked if I was OK.  I told them I had a flat but had everything I needed, but I was getting increasingly frustrated.  Finally a guy who was out for his Saturday ride stopped to see if I was OK.  I told him my problem so he got off his bike to help.  He then spent the next twenty or so minutes trying to get the tire off the rim.  He said he'd never seen anything like this in his life - and repeatedly told me I need to get new tires ASAP or I'm going to wind up stranded somewhere!  It took the two of us to finally dislodge the stubborn tire from it's rim, we got it changed, and then it took another 10 or so minutes to get the tire back on the rim.  I was so grateful to this random man who stopped to help me - I told him he was my knight in shining spandex!  I was finally able to get going again - after about 40 minutes - and I think I held my breath the remainder of the ride hoping that my tire would hold.  And while riding back, I was thinking how I couldn't wait to see how long this little 8 mile bike ride actually took me when I looked down and realized that I no longer had my timing chip.

When I got back to T2, I noticed that most of the bikes were gone - as in, most people had finished the race and left.  I was incredibly disheartened by the bike and honestly considered not going out for the run.  I figured what difference does it make since I lost my chip and won't know my time anyway. But I actually had managed to catch a few of the duathletes who started in the last wave and saw them heading out on the run.  So I figured I'd go for it, but my heart wasn't in it at all.  I managed to catch up to a woman named Joanna who was walk/running at the same pace as me, so I fell in with her and we started to talk.  Joanna was my second savior that day.  If not for her, my run would have been absolutely miserable, but having her to talk and joke with made it much more fun.

We crossed the finish line together, only to be told that they had run out of finisher's medals but they would send them to us in the mail.  Of course, they would know who hadn't received them based on our finishing times.  But since I didn't have my timing chip, how would I get a medal?  Luckily I was able to locate a volunteer who took my name and address down and said they'd still mail one to me.  And then I was able to locate my chip, stuck to the velcro of my wetsuit back in transition.

So with that, my first triathlon season is in the books.  It seems I enjoyed different aspects and faced different challenges in each event.  But I can't say I'm not a little disappointed in the way this one turned out.  I guess that just means I need to start thinking about what I want to do next year to make up for it. :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Taper Week...or Is This Race Doomed?

Only four days until race day, and as you know I've been dealing with an unhappy hip for a few weeks.  I've only run once since the end of August, and it was really just some 30 second intervals of running surrounded by more walking.  I finally feel like I might be able to run some of the course, and today I woke up with a head cold.

I tried to tell myself it's just allergies, but with two of my six coworkers sick last week I can't deny what it really is.  So instead of taper week, I'm turning it into "lay of the couch after work" week.  And I've stocked up on the necessary supplies.

Jamba Juice Orange C-Booster and Zicam - breakfast of champions!