Sunday, May 16, 2010

This tri stuff is FUN!!

Did the UBC Olympic distance tri today - 1,500m pool swim; 40k bike; 10k run. Well, make that a 10.7k run, but who is really counting? :)

After a week of the weather forecasters calling for rain, it turned out to be a glorious, perfect day for a race. Warm, not too windy and a little overcast to keep the sun off. I even enjoyed the little gusts of wind on the run since they were keeping me cool!

My pre-race regimen was a little lacking - realistically this race was intended to be a long training day rather than a key race - but due to the arrival of summer weather on Thursday I was feeling more like enjoying the preceding days and not a lot like taking anything too seriously. Saturday was spent doing a 120k ride with the PSTC group out to Boundary Bay, followed by a long walk (9k) out along the beaches with Bogey, then some patio time at the Galley at Jericho Sailing Club....which meant a burger, fries and ice cream. Good pre-race nutrition, right!? So, quite deservedly, I had an awful sleep last night and woke up with a headache!

Luckily, my heat time was 12:05 and left me plenty of time to leisurely collect my things and head to the transition area around 10:30am. This would be my first "pool" tri and only my third tri ever, so I wanted to go suss everything out in advance.

The twenty or so people assigned to heat 1f gathered on the pool deck just before noon, and I was happy to have a couple people from my tri group in my heat. It was nice to joke around and relax a little instead of stressing about the race - case in point, when asked if we had any questions, one of the guys pipes up....are there any sharks? It kept the mood light :)

Unlike the chaotic open water swims I had experienced before, the pool swim was quite civilized, with swimmers self-seeding and being released in 10 second intervals. Up and down the pool for 800m, get out of the pool and repeat another 700m, then a long run out of the pool and into T2. My swim went fairly well, seeing as I am a swim newbie and still rather uncomfortable in the water. I even managed to pass 5 people and was only passed once. Swim still needs work, but much better than before. Didn't wear a watch in the water to remove the pressure, so just hopped out and into T2 without concerning myself about time.

T1 went pretty well, apart from my bike mount which needs work. Still pretty scared of the "flying" mount and was pretty cautious. No garage sales needed. Once on the bike, I settled in and eased myself into the aerobars. This was only my 5th ride out on Ora and admittedly I am still a little (a lot) scared of her....but there is no time like the present to get used to it! A TT bike is perfect for the UBC course - 4 laps x 10k on SW Marine Drive - straight, mildly sloping and damned fast if you are motivated. I was a little shaken after being sideswiped with a gust of wind on the first turn, but managed to keep my laps relatively consistent. Nice and conservative, not pushing too hard. Ride time was about 1:10, avg speed of 33.4 km.

Coming into T2, I spun out my legs and started focusing on the run...which is really my strongest of all three disciplines and where I needed to do well. Drank the rest of my GU Brew, took a gel and thought about what I had to do. T2 was good, apart from my dismount (see above, needs work). The new elastic laces in my Brooks T6 racers were a snap to put on.

I tore out of T2 and managed to punch in a first kilometre 4:06. Nice, but not something I thought I would be able to hold. Dialed it down a little, kept my cadence high, slowed to around 4:20/km and just started coasting. It felt great to run. First 3k passed in no time and I was having a lot of fun, seeing people I knew, cheering on the other runners and enjoying the day. It wasn't until I hit 7k that I realized that I was actually holding my pace....which is really funny to me because last week at the Sun Run I was totally suffering at the same pace, here I was today just coasting along and enjoying life. The support on the course was great too - friends, other runners and volunteers were all so encouraging and positive!

When my watch beeped at 9k - 39:06, it signaled that it was time to give 'er....except that when 10k arrived, the finish line was nowhere in sight! Ugh! My GPS marked 10.7k when I reached the finish line - I was tired and a little disappointed. Had not planned to sprint for nearly 2k at the end. I also really wanted a 43 minute 10k (which I did have 43:28) and now my watch was showing a 46:35 10.71 km run. At least everyone had to run the same distance!

All in all, a very fun race and an encouraging start to the season. Final time was around 2:28, which I was very pleased with considering the extra 3 minutes or so for the run. Comparatively, my only other Olympic distance - the Vancouver triathlon last year - was 2:35. Yay! Training pays off!

As an added bonus, my time was good enough for 2nd overall and first in my age group. How fun is that?! Beginner's luck I think....and a thin women's field. :)

I really appreciate everyone that came to cheer (Hoz, Greg,'re awesome!). Thanks also to Calvin at Finish Line Coaching as well as the folks at Speed Theory (Doug, Jeremy, Nicole). You all rock!


Finish time: 2:28:35
Overall 19/244
Female 2/??
Division 1/14
Swim (with T1) 29:13
Bike (with T2) 1:12:33
Run 46:50

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunny run in Raincity

I've always found it amusing that Vancouver hosts the "Sun Run" of all things. Raincity, living up to its nickname, does not really offer up that many sunny spring days...typically we get more rain than rays chucked at us. Mind you, if organizers called it the "Slog your butt through 10k in the Rain", it probably wouldn't be the 2nd largest timed 10k road race in the world - I think only Bolder Boulder is bigger.

Speaking of which...Bolder Boulder is a great name for a race. It's really too bad that not much rhymes with Vancouver, apart from the obvious possibility of Manoeuvre Vancouver!? However, that does seem to be a fitting name if you were one of the 40,000 odd-participants crushed today into the start line on Georgia, doesn't it? :)

Notwithstanding my amusement at the ironic name, mother nature decided to fully cooperate and turned in a glorious, sunny day for Sun Run 2010. With fresh sunburns and tired legs from a 130k ride yesterday, I was not feeling terribly energetic as I herded myself into the starting corral with the masses. However, it was hard not to enjoy the carnival-like atmosphere and the fantastic sunshine. Race organizers could not have ordered up a more perfect day!
[Note to reader: I will preface the rest of this race report by stating upfront that I am a terrible 10k runner. "Wasted potential" would be a good description. The incremental pain and suffering that goes along with increasing my speed even for 3/4 of an hour is so awful....give me a half-marathon any day of the week. My rationale is that I simply lack that top gear that good 10k runners seem to possess at 9k when they start whizzing past me. I just have two speeds. Starting speed and everything after!]

The mass start was complete and utter chaos. Some observations about being packed like a sardine in the starting corral and for much of the first 2k of the race:

  • There are definitely a few runners with hygiene issues. Is it too much to ask that you shower, say, sometime in the week leading up to the race?! If people are stepping away from you in the might think about why that is. Unless of course this is your strategy to get away from the start line chaos.

  • The self-seeding system seems to have its flaws. Manoeuvre Vancouver indeed. I particularly love the walkers that start at the front, walk four abreast then seem aghast when the runners slam into the back of them. Oh, and the guy with the 6 year old child, walking. Good one. I put on the brakes pretty hard to get around your little girl...let's hope everyone else did too. Oh, and the pre-teens running 12 minute miles in crocs....
OK. Enough about that.

The best part of today, other than the sunshine, was that I completely stuck to my race plan. Seeing as I did not actually have a race plan, this was very easy to do and meant that things went very well indeed!

Fought the crowd most of the first 2k and just tried to keep as straight a line as possible. First 2k were just under 8:00, then dropped the pace to 4:15/km and kept moving along. The zeal of the crowd definitely diminished by the time we rounded into English Bay...those who should not have been in the starting corral were falling apart and by the time we reached Pacific, the crowd had thinned and I had lots of space to work with. It was nice to see some friendly faces cheering in this section!
It was warm, hot even, but I did notice a bit of a headwind as we started winding east. The nasty little uphill section up Hornby really sucked the wind out of me - my pace noticeably slowed here, heartrate shot up and a little nausea crept in. I held it together, somehow, knowing that the lovely downhill of the Burrard bridge was just in front of me, and picked it up on the way back down. I was halfway around 21 minutes, but knew the second half would be slower.

From 6k through 9k was maintenance - probably could have pushed a little harder, but just got into a comfort zone. I was pretty consistently passing people throughout the section on 6th Avenue and felt pretty decent. No need to bring back the nausea :)

Tried to pick it up at 9k over the Cambie, but as noted earlier, I just don't seem to possess that overdrive gear that so many other runners have. I felt like I was pushing, my legs and lungs were burning....yet runners were whizzing past me! The whizzing runners seemed to be predominately male - only one female runner passed me on Cambie so maybe this overdrive gear is a boy thing??

End result: a 27 second PR and a solid finish for some very tired bike legs. And to think that I need to put it all together in one day in just a week's time...yikes!

Oh, and if anyone wants to help me lobby for the name change...just let me know :)

The stats for Manoeuvre Vancouver 2010:
Finish time: 43:04
Overall: 746/39,855
Female: 93 /22,311 (broke the top 100 women! Yay for slow-ass me!)
Age group: 12 / 2,133

Sunday, May 2, 2010

26.2 is your bitch

Yesterday, I rode from White Rock down to Bellingham, WA with a couple friends. Bored of some of the local rides, two friends were heading down to Chuckanut Drive / Larabee State Park to recon a 50k trail run so we took the opportunity to do a point-to-point ride across the border. It was a great ride - lots of long stretches with wide shoulders. The last section, just south of Fairhaven, is particularly scenic as it meanders up Chuckanut Drive with gorgeous panoramic vistas over Bellingham Bay. Though rain threatened for most of the ride, sun eventually prevailed as we pulled into the parking lot for a quick change and short 5k run brick.

What struck me as I was driving home and reflecting on a very pleasant morning of training is how fun it is just to train. There is no time pressure, you take things at your own pace and just enjoy.

Fast forward to this morning, day of the 39th Vancouver marathon. I woke up at 5:30am so I could drop a friend off at the start line and sneak in an 18k run in time to watch the marathoners pass through Kits. The run was great. It was a misty but calm morning, and I drew energy from the marathon course volunteers setting up....I must say that it was also mighty fine to run down Point Grey Road and into Stanley Park absent any traffic at all!

My jaunty little run was a walk in the park and complete juxtaposition with what I would witness for the next few hours. Bogey (my sidekick marathon super-fan) and I perched ourselves at the corner of Point Grey Road and Waterloo - this is part of the out and back section for the marathoners, approx. 31.5k on the way out and 34.5k on the return. Yes, this is the "wall". That dreaded point in a marathon when the smile starts crumbling, the legs start to ache and you wish you were anywhere but running a marathon.

This is the exact same distance where, two weeks earlier, I started unraveling at Boston. At 20 miles, your body starts a rebellion. At 21.5 miles / 34.5k, it is just an all and out assault. I could see this in the faces of the passing runners - the concentration, the pain, the exhaustion, the grit and the sheer will. And I totally understood.

Bearing this in mind, if you want to be a marathon super-fan and not a super-jerk there are certain things you never, ever, EVER say to a marathoner at 34.5k without risking life and limb:

"You are almost there" 8k is not a lot, but it is an eternity in a marathon. You are NOT almost there at 34.5k. Almost there is, like, 3 steps. Anything longer than 200m is not almost there. Trust me on this.

"Looking good" Seriously, have you ever seen anyone looking good at 34.5k? And they know it. No point in buttering anyone up.

"Run faster" My favorite. If I heard someone say this to me at 34.5k, I would have half a mind to step off the course and throw my gatorade in their face.

And yet, there we were at 34.5k on the marathon course listening to the spectators say these things.

So my sign took a different tact completely:

All in good fun, of course. But this tends to be how I feel at this point in a marathon ( are mine, bitch!) so I took a chance and threw it on a sign....and loved the reactions. From high-fives to cat calls to one guy who actually stopped and had his photo taken with me and the sign. One sixty-ish woman ran past and said "damned right". It was absolutely priceless. The intended effect was to make runners smile, dig a little and forget for a minute where they were....and I think it worked :)

So congrats to all that came, saw and conquered the 26.2 today. There were great times posted out there today and the hard training paid off. Congrats to the new BQ's and some smoking fast know who you are. Kudos to you all for hanging in there and toughing it out. 26.2 is indeed a bitch....but today she was YOUR bitch!