Tuesday, June 29, 2010

GMR Part 2

Sorry, it's a long one... I'm trying to preserve details for myself so feel free to skim :)

Since I was runner #2 I had (naturally) the 2nd, 14th and 26th legs of the race which meant I was able to relax and take it all in at the starting line because Captain TK was starting us off. The starting area was relatively calm and quiet because many of the teams had already started and were en route. The start is staggered so that the teams with slower projected times start early in the morning around 6 or so that everyone finishes within a span of a few hours. Our start time was 10:30am and it was already HOT, HOT, HOT out, yikes! 90 degrees in Vermont? Why?! I watched the other teams prepare their vans with last minute details including obligatory “Caution: Runner on Road” signs, tacky chalk paint, and the best one of all- a large blow up doll named Judy.

By the end of the first series of legs, Judy was umm... well, enjoying herself.

My first leg (5.76 mi) started near some barn in the middle of nowhere, in a town probably called Shadeless, VT. The midday heat and sun were bearing down on me right away, but I knew I was hydrated enough to last a few miles and I planned to monitor my HR with my Garmin. I took off down the gently rolling road with lots of pep in my step, though I was cautious because I noticed how red TK’s face was as she passed me the “baton” after her leg. I was about 2.5 miles into my run and knew there was a Mormon church ahead where I should expect to see my team waiting with some water, I was ready for a swig of cold water, it was so hot that I’d begun running on the grass/dirt on the the shoulder to avoid the hot road. Oddly, my team wasn’t waiting for me at the church, but Team Judy Doll offered me a cup of their frosty water, I swigged, dumped some on myself and thanked them. Their teammate was hot on my trail. I figured my team was waiting at about the 3 mile mark so I told myself, “yeah, that makes sense, the halfway point” and that kept me going. It was beautiful despite the heat, but it felt strange to be racing, but alone. I cruised by mile 3 with no sign of the van, but I told myself they’d found a spot by the covered bridge I was expecting to cross at 3.7 mi. I crossed A bridge, but it wasn’t covered so I began to worry that I’d missed a turn, but I reminded myself that there had been no turns to miss. As I hit aboout 4.25 mi, I saw Team Judy Doll again and a lone man stood by the street with water, so I stopped and took it from his hand. I mentioned that I’d beeb afraid that I went off course because I hadn’t seen the bridge OR my team. When I said that, this look came over his face of “OMG you’re not the girl from our team” and he reached his hand out for the cup. Haha, thanks for the water anyway! I ran the rest of the leg with some confusion and a bit of annoyance fueling me because it was 90 degrees and I needed WATER! When I reached the finish and handed off, I discovered that my team was under the impression that it was a “No Support Zone” so they didn’t stop along the way. AHHH, bad news. I downed some water and gatorade and hung out in the shade to try to cool down before heading into the van. It took a long time to stop sweating after that leg, even in the cool A/C of the van. Done in 44:00 , a 7:36 pace. I’m really happy with that effort, especially considering I slowed a little around mile 4 because I was concerned about the heat and my HR was really creeping up.

My "where the f- were you?" face

For the next few hours we goofed and chatted and basically made fun of everyone else we saw (windows rolled up, of course) along the course. It was impressive that we’d managed to pull together a group of people who shared the same cruel, snarky, dry humor. I didn’t realize that so many of us existed and I was thrilled to be able to let go and completely relax and enjoy myself. Let me just say that everyone else got water along their legs after the “mishap” of my leg. But I’m not bitter. Nope. Not a bit.

The rest of the afternoon was hot, shadeless and just a lot of fun. Once our first legs were finished (way to go team!!) we headed to the Ben&Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, but to my dismay I couldn’t stomach the thought of dairy in my stomach in that heat. Everyone felt the same way and we all ended up sipping smoothies or sorbet at a table surrounded by America’s finest fatties enjoying their buckets of ice cream (no exaggeration). We were clearly set up in a game of “one of these things is not like the others.” The mocking continued and switched to one of our own as I read a tweet posted by @pigtailsflying stating that Julie had turned down the baby wipes after her first leg and “can you say scented carboard tree?!” WHAT on earth was she referring to?? It turns our she was referring to this:

We usually refer to it as an “Air Freshener”

After a feeble attempt at napping in the grass at the next “exchange point” I snacked, made fun of Matt and Mike, and just lounged until my next leg at dusk. The exchange was in the parking lot of a large and abandoned…factory? barn? Hay processing plant? Who knows. The scene was one of a zombie horror film with people laying on the ground next to their vans (did you not read the rules or do you have a death wish?) and in the nearby grass. It was a spooky sort of haze at this point too and it was clear that one of two things was about to happen: rain and humidity or the end of the world. Luckily (or maybe not) it was the former.

Van 1 became active again around 8:00 pm with TK starting us off in early dusk. By the time she finished her leg, it was nearly dark so I snagged her headlamp and took off into the darkness with my reflective vest and blinky lights. My leg map suggested a scary “cliff of death” along a blind, shoulderless curve so I was trying to be hyper-vigilant about not stepping off of the road. As it turns out, the map was again a complete lie, no cliff, but there was a long, blind curve which was a little scary but not as big of a deal as they suggested. I passed a girl along the way and offered a quick “hey”, we were both obviously suffering in the oppressive humidity. The hot wind was gross and I was again drenched in sweat. The leg was quick though, 3.59 miles in 26:39, a 7:25 pace which I was happy with considering I wasn’t able to look at my watch more than about once. The oncoming traffic had been somewhat steady and I’d tripped over a large branch early on so I wasn’t taking chances. I also was plagud with some hideous stomach/gut cramps, so bad that I was digging my knuckles into my stomach for much of the run, they didn’t go away for about 40 mins post-run. Ouch. The girl I passed came in a few minutes after me and ran right over to the grass and puked. I feel partly responsible for that. Ew.

The later it got, the goofier we got. The humor ended up at about an 8th grade level by midnight. Matt modeling for a night shot...

As van 1 passed off for the second time to Van 2, we headed to a cheesy “woodsy” motel for a few hours of sleep. I entered the room, removed my shoes and promptly passed out. It wasn’t nearly enough, but that sleep really helped me on my next leg.

Next up, early morning run and the finish.

I want to include more pictures, but I seem to have F-ed them up somehow and it's been more annoying than usual to upload them :(

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Random Entertainment

My favorite keyword search that led some spaz to my blog...

"+pee +triathlon -"pee dee" -"pee-ass" site:blogspot.com "

I don't remember mentioning "pee" in that post, but hey...

(this idea was snagged from JT who had a similarly entertaining keyword posted on her site this week).

I return from Canada, eh? tomorrow and have high hopes that my photos will cooperate and I can post GMR Part 2.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Green Mountain Relay, Part 1

Who knew that sitting in a stinky van with 5 relative strangers for nearly 3 days would end up being one of the most fun weekends of my life. I know that may sound over dramatized, but I’ll say this only once: I guess you had to be there.

If the concept of a 200 mile, 12-person relay isn’t something you’re familiar with, here’s a breakdown of how it goes:

2 vans, 6 runners each tackle a 200 mile journey one leg at a time. Van 1 contains runners 1-6 and Van 2 contains 7-12 and a “baton” (a Livestrong bracelet) is passed through the first van’s runners at the end of each leg. As runner 6 is running his leg, Van 1 drives to the “exchange point” where they meet with the members of Van 2 for the handoff. At that point Van 2 is “active” and Van 1 is considered “inactive” for the few hours that runners 7-12 do their thang. In the meantime Van 1 has to make their way to the next “exhange” but has time to stop and have a meal or just go to the next echange and rest up. The race goes through the night (many people I’ve told are shocked by this) and everyone does a total of 3 legs. The legs vary in length and difficulty and the vans each carry all of their own supplies including water, food, first aid, and the all important baby wipes.

Okay now that you’ve got the idea, here’s how it really works. Friday morning the 18th the team (minus 2) gathered on the sidewalk outside of the van rental center on 96th St and there was a sense of anticipation and a hint of caffiene in the air as we all prepared ourselves for the ~6hr drive up to Jeffersonville, VT. I had met nearly everyone at the GMR happy hour events leading up to the race and was vaguely familiar with the blogs of a few members. Otherwise, we were basically strangers. As we piled into the van (mixed up to increase socialization) the thing that always happens when you put 6 runners together began immediately: we talked about running. We talked about past races, goal races, crazy big dreams (RJR is working his way towards running Badwater), previous experience (or lack thereof) with relays and training buddies. It was several hours before anything non-athletic came up in conversation, but man was it refreshing to be surrounded by so many like-minded folks. I feel like I could have brought up any race in the world of any distance and gotten support and advice for it. I was supremely impressed by the speed of the runners in the van and it struck me that we might do really well as a team.

It wasn’t until our lunch stop that some real personalities began to come out. I know for myself, I’m a bit punchy (understatement of the year, perhaps?) when hungry, so once the wait for the food started to border on absurd, the jokes began…and the acrylic-nailed, Lee jeans wearing waitress/bar wench was the unfortunate (for her, not us) brunt of all of them all. RJR and I decided to split a large pizza for lunch, but when it came out, dammit, it was only a “four-cut” (a what?!?) but we were not to worry because an “eight-cut” was being put in the oven for us. Being New Yorkers, we cruelly mocked her use of the terms “four-cut” and “eight-cut” which were used in place of “large” and “personal” to describe our pizza pies. Oh well, the pizza was greasy and filled by belly without any consequences.

With the exception of one little mishap in the directions that left us on the west rather than east side of Lake Champlain and rapidly approaching Canada, the ride went swimmingly. Actually, the mishap in directions was resolved by taking a short and beautiful ferry ride across the lake which thrilled our Captain TK to no end and was really enjoyable.

We arrived mid-afternoon at La Quinta Inn in St Albans, VT and divided up into rooms of 2 or 3 people and spent some time relaxing. I ended up in a room with Julie, (Races Like a Girl) because we both needed to pee and didn’t have time for the indecision that was occuring. In hindsight, it was one of the best moves I made all weekend. The afternoon was spent walking around the track and sports complex near the motel and taking pictures of the practicing local “Professional” soccer team, The Vermont Voltage. The team had a nice relaxing dinner together at an Italian restaurant in town called Mimmo’s where we enjoyed their fine italian creations and I enjoyed a blackberry beer with what seems to have been a hint of Herbal Essences shampoo. It takes a trained palate to detect such subtle hints, I’ll have you know. After dinner I was part of a small welcoming committee employed to pick up Matt (the voice and brains behind DRC) and his identical twin brother, Mike. We weren’t aware that M&M were identical until we saw them, oh boy..it was going to be a tricky weekend. Having gotten a room key from two of the guys on the team for M&M, I made an executive decision to send the guys into the room with the other guys rather than looks like a slut and invite them into my and Julia’s room. It was another excellent move on my part, because I’m certain that if we’d shared a room and discovered we shared similar senses of humor that night, it would have been like a slumber party and we might have giggled all night long rather than sleep. There was plenty more time for that on Sat night. Instead I had a heck of a sleep and we both woke up 90 mins before the 7:30 alarm…oops. It was time well spend though, Julie shared two new websites with me that I couldn’t believe I’ve been living without for so long. (STFU Parents and Engrish Funny …. Prepare for sputtering and an inability to control your laughter.)

Next up: Saturday and some running, hilarity and heat

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Coming Soon....

...Green Mountain Relay race report and overall shenanigans recap!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The results are in!

NY Tri Results!!! (you can check em out yourself here)
I couldn't be happier with the results I received today, I'm really pleased with my performance at my very FIRST triathlon!

0.5 mi swim, 16 mi bike and 3 mi run results:

Total time: 1:45:11.792

Swim: 16:19.971 (Including the run up the beach and path to transition area, I assume that accounts for my being in wave 3?)

T1: 3:03 (doh! slow- Newbie alert)

Bike: 1:02:42

T2: 1:15 (sure didn't seem that long)

Run: 21:50

Well, that's a definite PR :) One of the perks of doing a new distance or type of race is that you get an
automatic PR! I will say my swim time is slower than I'd hoped for, but I'm not sure if it took into
consideration the wave times.. either way, I beat the 3 women who came in 1-3rd place in our age group
in the swim and I'm happy about that. I had a feeling that I'd do really well in the swim, even with NO
silly wetsuit!

27th female overall (out of ??)
4th in 25-29 age group
and 145th overall out of ~265

There's certainly room for improvement in all areas, especially the bike and transitions, but I'm really
thrilled to have a great starting point like this to go from!

Rock on!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Swim Bike Run

Two short weeks ago I decided that a sprint tri would be good practice for the upcoming NYC Tri in July, so I signed up for the SBR Series Sprint Tri in Harriman State Park! I immediately began stressing and worrying about it, I had no idea what I was getting into and I wasn't sure if I was ready or not. I was certain that the swim would be no problem and that I could easily complete the 3 mi run in a decent time, but the bike.... I've only been riding for 2 months and I've never done any sort of "race" with other riders before. I had no way of knowing whether or not my bike times were respectable (Coach Jeff never really comments on them in that way). I was going back and forth in my head for 2 weeks "I'm totally ready for this!" or "Crap, I have no idea what I'm doing." It was torture up until the last minute, but all of my doubts were unfounded as I discovered today.

The day began early after a crappy sleep from excitement, nerves and hectic dreams about the race, but I was in a state of happy excitement. I choked down a little oatmeal with PB, blueberries and walnuts and headed out the door at 5:30am with all of my gear in tow. We scored a sweet parking spot right out front of the bldg which made carrying my gear and bike much easier. I am still giddy over our new car, and this was my first real trip with her so that put me in a really great mood from the start of the journey.

I arrived early at Harriman State park, I think I was one of the first 10 cars in the lot because I wanted plenty of time to check in, set up, freak out, calm down, etc. I collected my bib, t-shirt and swim cap, got my arms marked and strapped on my timing chip before getting my bike out of my car. I settled my bike onto the rack in the section labeled "290-300" and just followed what everyone else did as far as setting up. I layed out all of my shoes, gu packets, socks, and whatnot on a little towel and readjusted everything a few times before being satisfied. Our section was at the end of a long line of racks and right near the bike exit/entrance which seemed like an advantage because I wouldn't have to fight the crowd to leave the transition area. Score 1 for me.

Note from "Secret sender"

Just before walking away from my car with the bike and gear, I noticed a little yellow paper tucked into my rearview mirror and smiled, my friend SF had mentioned something about my rearview mirror yesterday so I had a feeling it was from her. In my state of nervous excitement, the note was exactly what I needed. I read it, smiled a huge smile and my anxiety melted away. Thanks Sally!

On to the race!
Calm before the storm of swimmers

We were warned that no one would be allowed into the water before or after the race, but when I walked over to the beach, everyone was already in the water wading around and a few were swimming! I stepped in up to my knees to feel it, even though I heard the lifeguards say it was 70 earlier. The bottom was mucky, squishy lake goo, and I squirmed a bit before getting back out to stand on the beach. 99% of the people there were wearing wetsuits, but I was in my bike shorts and a sports bra style bathing suit top. I didn't see any need for a wetsuit in 70 degree water, nor did I want to deal with taking it off in the transition. Standing on the beach thinking, wow I don't know anyone here, I was taken by surprise when I heard a familiar voice behind me. Although he called me "Pam" at first, (haha) I turned around to see BG, a fellow Inwood Hill runner! We were both doing this for the first time and it was nice to have a familiar face nearby just before the start.
BG and I after the race with his snazzy bike

The first two waves entered the water 3 mins apart, 100 people in each wave before I entered with wave 3. I ran in as quickly as I could to get past the gooey bottom and dove in as soon as it was deep enough to swim. I took off and it wasn't too crowded at first, I was able to swim smoothly without being kicked or smacked upside the head for quite a while. I forced myself to slow my breathing and settle into a rhythm of stroking, breathing and sighting every few strokes. I love those giant orange buoys! I swam hard and was making great progress in fairly quiet water before it got busy again.... I didn't realize it until after, but I'd caught up to the wave ahead of ours! At the turnaround I was pretty psyched because it felt like no time at all had passed and I was already halfway done. It was a bit murky and I could feel the weeds at times, but the water felt great otherwise! I swallowed a few mouthfuls here and there when I attempted sighting and breathing together, oops. As I ran up the beach through the little crowd, people cheered and one woman said, "13th female out of the water and no wetsuit to slow you down in transition!! GO GET YOU SOME!" That put a huge grin on my face that stayed there through the entire race. Wow, how was that possible? :)

T1 and the Bike

Thanks to my good friend Peter, (aka RussianBear) I planned out my transitions last night and wrote them out step by step ahead of time so I'd feel a little more organized. That really helped me slow down and make the switch smoothly and without feeling rushed. I took a shot of Gu, strapped on the Garmin and HR monitor and sent G on the hunt for satellites right away. I slipped on my socks, shoes, gloves, sunglasses(even though it was very cloudy) tank and helmet. I had taped a stick of gum to my glove and to my bike so I popped one in my mouth and then I was off! Wow, that was surprisingly easy! I was off for the "scary" part. It turns out, the bike wasn't scary at all! In fact, it was SO MUCH FUN! The course was hilly and tough as I'd expected, but I wasn't prepared for how quiet it was. I guess I'm used to running races where you hear footsteps and huffing the whole time, but not during the ride.... the silence of the surrounding woods was surprising, only broken by the occasional clicking as people switched gears (which I did a LOT). A few friends had given me advice about the ride, especially about the part where you make a 280 degree turn at the bottom of a 2.5 mi downhill and turn onto an immediate and steep uphill, so I was prepared for that. It wasn't nearly as scary as it sounded on paper. In fact, that crazy downhill portion before the turn was GREAT FUN! The wind was so loud in my ears that I couldn't hear a thing, not even my own laughing. I switched gears before the bottom of the hill into an easy gear so I was ready once we hit the turn and hill. I was in a little pack of cyclists on the hill and everyone was just laughing at the cruelty of the switch from flying to inching along. It was fun, but I quickly switched into climbing mode and was working hard up that long, long 2.5 mi climb. It took me from about 500 ft to 1100 ft over 2 miles before a little downhill and plenty of other rolling hills for the rest of the course. There were a few women near me and we went back and forth passing each other over and over, but I tried to just maintain a solid effort because I wasn't sure what to expect further along the course. There was one woman in a black top working hard to pass me a few times and she kept riding by with a very determined look on her face. Good for her, I thought. More on her later. As I hit mile 12 or so I found myself alone on a stretch next to Lake Askoti and I was so elated that I'd made it this far that I let out a big ol' whoop of excitement. Hehe, I was really enjoying myself. As I cruised down into the transition area, I could hardly believe it was already over (partly because my Garmin only said around 15 miles), I had survived the ride without incident or falling over!! The grin on my face was huge, I could tell by the reaction of the crowd.

T2 and the Run

The second transition took all of a hot second, quick shoe change, helmet off, gu shot and then the gloves came off (literally and figuratively!) haha. I grabbed some water on the way out and noticed the woman in black from the ride ahead of me. As I trotted past her, I took a swig and slam-dunked my water cup into the trash with a little "whoop!" and took off. I was having some annoying tightness and pain in my right foot and anterior tibialis (flashback to Haiti run) but I wasn't going to let it stop me so I was swinging my foot around, trying to loosen it up as I ran. Did I mention that my toes were numb from the bike ride too? The first mile was a bit uphill but I tackled it in 8:15, cool. I felt sluggish on the 2nd mile because I thought I was running downhill (duh) but it was actually a great mile considering we were going UPhill, 8:00. Once we turned at the 1.5 mark, and I realized that we had been going up and the rest of the run was downhill, I took off, passing about 15 people on the last mile or so. Boy, I was having so much fun and everyone else was so... blah. I was cheering for the runners coming up the hill that I'd just tackled, but they looked at me like I was goofy. The only one who smiled back and said, "Thanks! You too!" was #69 :) I couldn't help but cheer for her with that #. I cruised back towards the finish line at a sub-7 pace, but the last mile wasn't a full mile, according to Garmin it was either 0.81 or 0.94 and I ran it in 5:35 at a 6:53 pace. That's how excited I was!

As I crossed the finish line I let out a big "woohooo" and once I took off my chip I jumped in the air and punched the air, I was beside myself with excitement. I DID IT!!! I finished a triathlon!!! The best part was that I LOVED every SECOND of it! There were no "ugh" moments or "wow I'm tired" moments. The anticipation of another event coming up kept me excited the entire time.

Well there you have it.... I did it! I couldn't be happier with the results too... even though I don't have anything to compare it to and I don't have the actual results yet!! I'll be sure to post them as soon as they are up, I've been stalking the website all day!

Did you get your tickets to the gun show? hahaha.

Representing Inwood Hill Runners