Saturday, February 27, 2010

Long Bike Ride

"Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride." John F. Kennedy

The quote above couldn't have been more true today. I met the Team in Training cycle team this morning at 8:00. I knew there would be a group of alumni heading out at a faster pace that the team, so I planned to head out with them. Since I'll be doing more triathlons this year, I was on my tri bike. And I had my new Infinit nutrition ready to go. Temps were in the high 40s to start, with the sun nicely shinning, and they continued to climb as the day went on.

For those of you familiar with this area, we met at Cool River and headed north on Parmer. Parmer is a great ride because there are a decent number of hills and there is a wide shoulder the whole way. The only problem is that there is usually a strong headwind either as you head out or head back. Today the wind wasn't that strong.

There were 6 of us in the front group. A husband and wife on the team were out on their tandem, so we tried to stay with them as long as we could, but they can really build some speed on the tandem and we lost them after a little bit. But I wasn't overly concerned with speed today. I just wanted to get the miles in. I don't have many free weekends this spring to get out and get a long bike ride in. Today's goal was at least 50 miles. The end result: 51.85. And, an average of just over 16 mph. I've only gotten in 2 or 3 other rides outside so far this year, so I was very happy with that average. As I get in more rides outside and more longer rides, that average should go up.

As for the Infinit. It seemed to work really well. I have been known in the past to do a long ride and hardly drink anything, so today I set my garmin to beep at me every 15 minutes to remind myself to drink. The Infinit formula suggests you drink 20 oz every hour. That's basically a water bottle full each hour. I didn't quite meet that goal, but I did finish 2 full bottles and some water during the 3 hours on the bike.

The only other issue I need to figure out is how to not have to stop at mile 20 to pee. It's almost like clockwork with me. Something about mile 20. I can run a full marathon and never stop, but get me on the bike and I gotta stop at mile 20.

After I got home, we gathered the family and dogs along with one of Madison's friends and headed to the lake here in town (small lake and no motorized boats). The intent for me was to try out my new wetsuit. I spent some time getting it on and getting syched up to get in the water when it was in the 60s outside. Another one of my TNT buddies had come to try out his new wetsuit as well. He started into the water first and said it was cold. I don't like cold. And when my feet hit the water, I knew the swim probably wouldn't happen. If I had booties to keep my feet warm, maybe. But my feet went numb right away and they hurt. The water was that cold. I guess the snow this last week really made the water cold. I did manage to get in past my waste, but the thought of my face in that cold water - well, it just wasn't going to happen. Guess we'll have to wait another month or so. The dogs enjoyed their walk, however, and Madison and her friend enjoyed riding bikes around the lake (it's a 3 mile loop). I'm really ready for the spring now.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Busy Times

"Self-discipline is the capacity to do what you need to do, rather than what you want to do. It's difficult, but the result is worth it."

Ever since MLK weekend, our weekends have been packed with kid activities. We've either had a volleyball tournament, a soccer tournament or a day with multiple soccer games. I've also had a couple of races thrown in there. It's been tough to get my training in.

This past weekend we had yet another tournament. This one was a soccer tournament and it was out-of-town. As usual, I had checked the hotel where we were staying to make sure they had a fitness center and I packed my workout clothes.

We usually don't find out the schedules until a couple of days before the tournament, and our luck is that we usually have early games. Not this time. Saturday's games were at 11 and 5 and Sunday's games were 11 and 2. Oh how nice it would be to actually sleep in for a change.

But guess what? I didn't let myself. I made myself get up early, head to the fitness center, and get my workout in. All before time to meet the team in the lobby for breakfast. Even after the Saturday night team dinner of Mexican food and margaritas (hey, we were in San Antonio!), I made myself get up again on Sunday morning for another workout. I'm glad I did. I know it will pay off down the road.

Unfortunately, the treadmill has been my friend lately. After being out of town and enjoying some beautiful weather, we came home and had SNOW on Tuesday. Yes, you read that right. I feel sorry for those of you who have it all winter, but for us, for the one day we had it, it was beautiful. We only got a couple of inches, but it came down in big, fluffy flakes and we had enough to make a snowman.

So, despite the weather and dislike of the treadmill, I've gotten my runs in. Despite the weather and somewhat dislike of the trainer, I've gotten my bike rides in. And despite the cold, I've gotten my swims in. I even got my longest swim to date in (3,000 yards).

The best part of it all.....the weather is suppose to be beautiful Saturday and we actually have a free day. Oh yeah. I'm going out for a long bike ride. AND, I get to try out my nutrition. I know the day of Ironman will be a very long day and I've done a lot of reading about nutrition options that others use. I have decided to give Infinit a try while I'm on the bike and my order came today. The first test will be tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Austin Half Marathon

"I run for hope, I run to feel, I run for the truth for all that is real, I run for your mother, your sister, your wife, I run for you and me my friend. I run for life." from "I Run For Life" by Melissa Ethridge

This weekend our family was split. My daughter had a volleyball tournament in Ft Worth and my son had soccer games here. Since I also had a race on Sunday, I got to stay here with my son.

As we showed up for his first soccer game Saturday morning at 7:30, the air was filled with fog, the ground was covered with frost and the temps were in the low thirties. Oh how I was wishing I was in Ft Worth inside the gym for volleyball. It was COLD on the soccer fields. So cold in fact that when the fog made my hair wet, the wetness froze and I had ice crystals in my hair. I even had to go buy my son some gloves between games because his hands were freezing. And at this point I thought "it better not be this cold in the morning".

Fast forward to Sunday morning. I wake up early, get dressed - in shorts, a tank and a long sleeve top - eat my breakfast and head downtown for the race. Temps were a little better this morning, but still in the low 40s. And the whole time I'm thinking to myself, "why do I do this?" But then I think of Melissa Ethridge's song 'I Run For Life' and I know why I do this. I started running in 2005 with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program to honor my brother-in-law who is a Lymphoma survivor. And I haven't stopped. I run because I can. I run for those who can't. I run for life.

So I headed to the race start. As the gun went off and I started running it was cold. I knew I'd warm up. Since I met my goal of breaking 2 hours at the 3M Half Marathon last month, I didn't really care what my time was today. This course is a bit more challenging as there are lots of hills on the course. My first mile was 9:29. Perfect. I can usually hold a 9:30 pace for long runs, so I was ok with that.

The first part of the course leads you away from downtown with a slight incline. Then you turn, go over a few streets, and head back to town with a slight decline. I held a pretty even pace through it all. As I got back to the downtown area around mile 6 the crowd support was great. It was the boost needed at the time. The next couple of miles were fairly flat. There is one short steep hill thrown in, but mostly flat for a while. I was still holding fairly steady but knew the hills were coming.

As I turned to the hilly stretch of the last 3-4 miles I told myself to just stay steady. Shorten my stride and keep moving. Surprisingly, the hills didn't feel that bad. In the past, I've done specific hill training once a week with hill repeats. I haven't done that this year so I figured the hills would get to me a little bit. But I knew the big hill was yet to come. As I approached mile 12 I prepared myself mentally for the big climb. There was no way I was stopping on that hill and I didn't. I made it to the top, regained my breathing and kept going. I knew the end was near. And when we turned next to the Capitol to head to the finish I started picking up the speed. I could see the finish. I kicked it in to cross the finish line. Chip time - 2:01:41.

Overall, I was happy with my time. I was secretly hoping to break 2 hours again, but I knew the hills would slow me down. However, I ran a very steady race. My pace for each mile was all within a :30 space.

Mile 1: 9:29
Mile 2: 9:28
Mile 3: 9:11
Mile 4: 9:19
Mile 5: 9:00
Mile 6: 9:05
Mile 7: 9:10
Mile 8: 9:18
Mile 9: 9:30
Mile 10: 9:26
Mile 11: 9:12
Mile 12: 9:23
Mile 13: 9:21
last .1: 0:45

I paced fairly evenly, but I can run this pace for my long training runs. Now I need to figure out how much I can push myself and when to start that push.

After crossing the finish line I got my medal, got my finisher shirt, grabbed some food, and put on some warm clothes. It turned out to be a beautiful day for a race. However, I never shed my long sleeve top, so I was pretty sweaty. Sweaty and cold temps make me really cold. I managed to get the sweaty stuff off and get some dry clothes on and then headed home for a shower and food.

I'm glad I raced today afterall.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Love Dogs, But........

"If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." Michael Jordan

When you are training for anything, you will have obstacles. Some people will have mental obstacles. They will think to themselves that they can't go on or that they aren't good enough to accomplish the goal. Others have physical obstacles - shin splints, stress fractures, tendonitis, IT band issues, etc. Me, I have dog obstacles.

Saturday morning was a decent day for an outside bike ride and even though I didn't have as much time as I wanted, I took advantage of the day and headed out for a ride. I live in a small town. It seems like I'm in the middle of the town. But if I take the road next to my neighborhood about 3 miles out, I'm in the country. Country roads can be good or bad, depending on where they are. Most of the time, the country roads I ride on are pretty good. They are fairly smooth (except after long hot summers with no rain when the roads crack and there are 3 inch ruts in the road, but I digress), traffic is fairly light, and the drivers that do pass you usually give you lots of room.

Saturday morning I headed out. There was hardly any traffic and I had a nice tailwind. It felt good to be on the bike. My plan was to do an out and back, keeping an eye on the time to make sure I got back home in time to shower, eat lunch and get my daughter to her out-of-town volleyball tournament on time. I made it to my turnaround point in plenty of time and was feeling good about getting back early. I knew it would take longer to get back with the headwind, but what I didn't count on was a roadblock about 4 miles from the house.

As I turned on the road to head back to the house I noticed something in the middle of the road ahead. It's not unusual to see road kill on the country roads (in fact I had passed a dead skunk on the way out), but this thing looked like it was moving. As I got a little closer, I realized it was a dog. Just laying there in the middle of the road. Almost like he was waiting for me. Ugghhh. I hate dogs when I'm on the bike and they are out of the fence. They always seem to chase the bikes and it can be scary.

I stopped for a minute and thought about my options. I could keep riding and hope that either he wouldn't chase me or that I could outride him. I didn't like this option because I figured that as soon as he saw me coming he would start running at me. He would have an advantage and could very possibly run in front of me and cause me to wreck.

I also thought about getting close and then getting off my bike and walking past him, hoping that he wouldn't be as aggressive if I wasn't on my bike. But, I had no idea if this was a nice dog or a mean dog. If he was a nice dog, it might work. If it was a mean dog I would not only have to keep him away from me, but worry about handling my bike as well. Not to mention that I was in my bike shoes.

My only other option (and the one I took) was to turn around and find a different route home. Luckily, I know the country roads well and knew just which way to go. The only problem is that it meant more riding into the headwind and it meant coming back home through town and dealing with more traffic.

But I didn't let the dog stop me. I figured out a way around the "obstacle" and still got a safe ride in and got home in time. Now if I could just figure out how to get people to keep their dogs behind fences!