Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pacific Crest Weekend

The highlight of my vacation to Oregon was the days we spent in Sunriver just outside of Bend. Getting my family all together for a weekend and racing in the Pacific Crest weekend was something I have been looking forward to for a long time. Adam the kids and I headed over Mt. Hood from Portland to a house we rented for the weekend.
Mt. Hood

We were planning on racing in the Pacific Crest endurance sports festival as well as have lots of family fun. 2 of my brothers and their families along with my parents were all part of a wild and crazy mix. Sunriver is an this awesome place in the mountains with amazing views of Mt. Bachelor. In my college days we'd spend weekends there for house dances with the fraternities or head over to go skiing. I was in vacation mode much of this trip and didn't want to stress out about racing a big 1/2 IM, but the course looked so much fun I think I need to go back and do the 1/2.
My plan was to run enough to hold onto some fitness and race the 1/2 marathon, but to also have fun and enjoy Sunriver. I did manage to get a little training in the water done.

As well as a few bike workouts!

I cross trained by riding horses,

and then took an ice bath in one of the many Cascade lakes near the top of Mt. Bachelor.

Saturday was race morning and Adam headed towards the top of the Mtn. and me to the run start. He's all bundled up because its chilly up there in the morning, but it warmed up to mid 80's in the day.

I wasn't sure how I would race. I had been in a low key training mode since KS and enjoying lots of vacation fun, but decided to just go give what I had and enjoy the beautiful course. There were about 1000 racers in the 1/2 marathon and some of the women looked like "real" runners, Oregon style! Fast! The run had some false flats and a couple gradual hills, but what made the course tough was the continual winding sharp turns and curves on the paved trails through Sunriver. It made keeping a constant pace challenging. I did my best to run the tangents and keep the turnover going. I felt surprisingly good and was running the first 7 miles like it was a 10k (too fast!)But what the heck I was having fun At about mile 8 on the course you come out of the wooded section into a meadow and get this awesome view of Bachelor off in the distance. About this time I started feeling my legs get heavy and started slowing down, not just to check out the view either!!!! The last few miles were slow and hurt, (thats what you get for starting way to fast), but a fun finish. I learned later I had won my AG (because really 1st place was in the top 3 OA) and was 11th OA female with 10th just a few seconds ahead. Cool prizes a Widmer Brewing mug and a free micro beer from Widmer Brewing Co.

Now we are home and facing reality again. Loads of laundry and thigs to unpack, back to work, and oh yea. I signed up for Racine. Crazy me. I found my bike yesterday and went for a hard ride hanging on Adam's wheel for a 2 hrs. Vacation is over.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

trying to stay in shape on vacation!

Lucky for me when I go home to visit my family, I travel west to the mountains. I have been looking forward to this vacation for months! A trip home to Portland, Oregon! Vacations for most mean indulging in treats, staying up past bedtimes, sleeping in without an alarm clock, playing, having fun and spending the day on all kinds of adventures, napping and sitting around doing nothing. A vacation like this for us in the summer is a challenge. It is race season, not just for Adam and I, but all of the clients we coach. However, we have managed to plan a great week out in Oregon with a little something for everyone  My goal on this trip is to relax some, train some, and have the time to take off on adventures and not stress about fitting in a ton of workouts. I didn’t even bring my bike. I questioned it several times knowing how awesome the riding would be, but opted to go without. I did pack my running and swimming gear though.

The running has been great, cooler temps perfect for running and hills. Lots of them. Long ones, steep ones, rolling ones. Hills with awesome views when you get to the top making it all worth it, hills through trees with rushing streams off to the side, and hills with fresh air that smells like pine and evergreen. I did find a pool for some lap swimming. From the website it sounded great as a few club teams swim out of there. Adam and I showed up in the morning to swim and it was mostly “old timers” and the pool was nice but for some reason everyone was “open water” swim training because they didn’t have the lane lines in. They must also be training for Midwestern races with water temps of 77.5 and wetsuit legal. Nice warm water that feels good going in but ½ way through your set can feel your head sweating under your swim cap. I’ll be ready for the next “hot” swim on my schedule 

When on vacation and back in this part of the country you always want to try out the good stuff you can’t get at home. There are awesome coffee shops (the local kind!) with incredible baked goods, awesome restaurants and local micro-brews Oregon is famous for. Restaurants with outside seating and amazing views. We ate last night at the Stone Cliff…..famous now for being filmed in “TWIGLIGHT”

The adventures have already been amazing. We spent one day at Cannon Beach during the Sand Castle weekend.

Now here is a competition for you. Spending your day building the most creative and amazing sand castle. We tested the waters. Typically ocean water here is very cold. On this day it wasn’t so bad. If my legs had actually been trashed or sore, it would have made for an excellent ice bath…Pacific Style! We also headed into downtown Portland 1 day taking our kids with their cousins to an amusement park. Chasing after them in a place like this is a workout. They “ran” from ride to ride. By the end I felt like I had done a huge brick!

Today we head over the mountains to Bend. On the weekend are the Pacific Crest races. There is a race of every distance and type throughout the weekend. Because its vacation I opted to just run the ½ marathon. Adam is racing the ½ and Olympic distances triathlons. We rented a house, the whole family is coming and we are going to fill the day’s fun. Hopefully I can manage to keep some fitness together with all the fun.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Last week I had the chance to try out the ALTER G....anti gravity treadmill and since I was still sore and recovering from Kansas with sore lead legs and blisters; I jumped at my invitation to come check it out.

I treat many injured runners and triathletes as a physical therapist, as well as coach many athletes to get faster I couldn't wait to see what this was all about and the potential it has for keeping athletes in action...but had to experience it myself first hand.

Lucky for those of us in the far western suburbs this is right in our back yard. Apparently there are only 2 others in all of Chicagoland, both being downtown in the city. I learned that NASA developed this treadmill technology and it has been tested by Nike headquarters.

To begin you have to pull on some tight spandex -like biking shorts that "zip " you into the liner on the treadmill. These fancy shorts alone felt good on sore quads. Tight and supportive. Once zipped in, the treadmill calibrates your weight then you are ready to roll. I started out running at 50% of my body weight at a good clip much faster than any warm up pace I would normally hold especially with post race legs. The first thing I noticed is how quick my cadence was ...without even having to focus on it. This is because with less "ground time" your stride rate increases. After warming up at bit, I decided to take it down to 25% of my body weight and increase the speed some more. As I did this my turnover increased, my legs were firing quickly, and I felt like I was running with very close to normal run form...just at a very fast cadence. I felt like I was getting a good workout, and was sweating, but my heart rate stayed as if I was working in zone 2, and my breathing was normal as if I was out for an easy jog. I was able to hold a conversation running at 5:15 pace LOL!

As a physical therapist treating injured runners this is a fabulous way to keep an athlete training and running through and injury. Imagine finding out you have a stress fx 6 weeks out from an Ironman you paid nearly 500$ for 1 yr prior and couldn't run. Now there at least are some options other than pool running which....lets face it is boring and really doesn't feel like running at all. From stress fractures, other overuse injuries such as ITB syndrome or plantar fascities athletes could keep running.....while addressing the the source of injury of course via rehab. And it is an absolute must that any athlete suffering from and injury would have to have physician clearance in order use use the G-trainer.

As a coach, and athlete myself, there is great potential even for the uninjured. This forces you to run with a quick cadence and turnover. It also forces a good foot strike and placement. So for an athlete needing better efficiency and run form this is a fabulous training tool. Alter G also trains the neuromuscular system to fire quickly. Have you ever had that feeling on the track or a hard run where your fitness and engine felt great like you could run faster but your legs were wobbly, and uncoordinated they just couldn't make you go any faster. That is the connection between your brain and muscles being murky; or not understanding how to really get it going. Running on the Alt-G allows those connections between the brain and muscles to happen and your running muscles can fire quickly. Even from a volume standpoint, someone who really wanted to ramp up some run volume without risking injury from pounding out too many miles on the road could do so by incorporating some mileage on the G-Trainer.

Thanks to Physical Therapy Advantage for inviting me to experience the alter G! For more information go to

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kansas...a good day!

I'm not going to lie, that I almost pulled out of even doing this race. The week before Memphis I had several long chats with Thomo (my coach) about whether I wanted to still race Kansas 70.3 I was having some major doubts that I had done enough training, that on top of feeling like molasses at the end of a hard training block didn't leave me feeling too confident. Of course I knew I could finish, but when I do a race, its because I want to "race". So I came home from Memphis, did a big brick 2 days later and felt great and decided to quit thinking so much, trust the training (gee I say that to my athletes all the time) and go race already!

Lawrence KS is one of those really cool college towns. We stayed in this incredible hotel called the OREAD. It was brand new, and right the campus. We had this incredible room with huge windows that overlooked the city, and a balcony. It kind of made we want to stay a few days after the race .....or go back to being an undergrad because of amazing views of the campus.

We did our pre race routine in nearly 100 deg temps and air as thick as soup. I was sweating just standing in line to pick up my packet and check in my bike. This venue was beautiful and the race site was fabulous, but it was a bit logistically challenged. A double transition area, long walks from parking to the expo and between transitions, shuttle buses in the morning made for a lot of extra effort just getting to the start line. Thankfully once it was all finally in cooled off and race day had perfect temps for racing.

Race morning came with a very early start. We were up at 4 trying to allow enough time to get to the race, shuttle ride and transitions. There was a long traffic jam getting into the campground, which left me a little short on time to get set up at both transitions because I was in a very early wave. I did not have much time left to warm up by the time I walked from T2 down to T1 and set everything up. Thankfully I was feeling loose and ready, and used the long walk from T2 to T1 as my warm up. This would not cut it in a short race!

What is it with these warm lakes this year? The water was wetsuit legal but barely. This time I did get HOT. Insulated in neoprene and swimming in warm water, left me nice and toasty. I felt great on the swim other than being warm. The course was very well marked and easy to navigate. Several people said it was marked long. I have no idea...maybe it felt long because there was a little head current coming back in. But its all relative. I was so glad to be done though and peel off my wetsuit and hop on my bike.

This bike course was very fun. It is quite hilly with several out and back sections. There were some flats but a lot of climbing a well. Parts of it reminded me of the IM Wisconsin course. A new first for me in a 1/2 IM though....a dismount to cross an oil slick on the road. Could this oil be from the Gulf seeping its way up to Kansas? LOL. They were making everyone get off their bikes and walk across an area with oil which apparently was quite slick. I tried to use my cyclocross skills here! I felt great on the bike but did hold back a little more than I would normally on the uphills. I wasn't sure what to expect from myself and knew it was a challenging course and just wanted to be able to run. Only 1 girl in my AG passed me on the bike and I knew she would as she is a rocket on the bike. I have raced her for years and know she can kill a bike course. On 1 out and back I heard Adam yell at me. He started nearly last and knew he would be trying to hunt me down. Me the rabbit!

I started the run feeling good, it didn't take long to get the legs going. This run course had 3 out and back sections that you did 2 x. Each loop had 1 big hill so you had the pleasure of doing it twice, and a section of a lot of twisty turns on a paved path through the campground. I liked this run and even the big hill was tough in some weird way felt good on the legs. I had a solid run and felt strong the entire way, and even started chasing down a few girls in the last mile or 2. No one in my AG passed me but with all the out and backs I could see I was gaining on 3rd and 4th places. I caught one girl with less than a mile to go, and was quickly gaining on 4th. She kept getting closer and closer, I was digging deep and trying so hard to catch her. By the time we made the right hand turn into the finishing stretch I was nearly sprinting (at least that what it felt like), but ran out of 8 seconds. I have to say it felt so good to be able to RACE at the end of this! I finished 5th in my AG and very happy with my day.

If I had trained any more than I did for this I would be feeling guilty about being a bad mom or wife, but I might have finished a little higher up, but. if I had trained any less I would feel like not racing or prepared to even go do a big race like this. Thankfully quality over quantity works for me and in the end the training was there!

A special HOORAY for my client Courtney....who finished her first 1/2 IM ever in KS. Not an easy 1/2 to start out with but good prep for her big day in Madison!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Off to see the Wizard

I needed the help of the Wizard this past week.

I had an Ironman of a week which included 2 birthday boys complete with including 9 1st graders at the house and a treasure hunt, the other involving friends at the house and a UFC/MMA fight that ended at midnight which is way past my bedtime. Add to it in-laws in town, end of school, all coming off a long trip home from Memphis in addition to the normal work routine and coaching routine. In an ideal athlete world I would have spent some time doing all those perfect things to speed recovery, rest, stretch, eat well, easy workouts and not sit in a car 8 hrs immediately after the race to rush home for work the next day because of a 1/2 IM in the near future. Instead I managed some of the above, and recovered fairly well for me except for 1 huge nasty blister ( wound acutally) that is taking its sweet time healing. I did manage to fit in a few solid 70.3 race specific workouts in the midst of all this.

I haven't done a 1/2 IM in a few years and the last 2 I did ended ugly. Dead man walking in a heat sauna, and a DNF with a dead leg. Oh so lovely. Ugly enough to not avoid anything IM, 70.3, WTC, or super long for a few yrs. These sorry efforts were the result of some bad burn out that I caught and had been brewing for a couple years. So why did I sign up for this race?, a 70.3 ? I don't know, ha, LOL at myself. Trust me I don't need a repeat of those ugly races, but I have overcome my burnout and have found a good groove again. I know the amount of training I can fit in with my crazy life, what workouts and type of schedule I can follow and still keep my sanity with everything else I have to do. It might not be the most idea 1/2 IM training schedule little on the light side with a fair amount of quality but it gets the job done. I simply can't spend every free moment devoted to training, because I would miss out on too many other fun things going on around me with the kids and I'd be back on burn out row trying to figure out how to fit it all in. And that was worse than the actual training.

So I'm off to see the Wizard in Kansas. Maybe he'll have some answers as to why I felt the need to tackle a 70.3. It sounds like a fun race, something different, a new challenge in performing well in a 1/2, a celebration of overcoming burnout. Who knows what he'll say once I get there. All I know is I will be pushing my tail hard as I can along the yellow brick road all the way to the finish line and when I get there I'll high 5 the Wizard.