Monday, August 30, 2010

Ugly Betty

.....that was me on Sunday in Chicago!

or maybe I should title this...'where did that go' as a sequel to my last post! HA!HA!

The crazy thing is that I was feeling good about things going into this race and crazy enough this was supposed to be my big race of the year, and the 70.3's the side races which I was really unprepared for! I had some great workouts on the bike, running, and even in the pool going into Chicago.

Doing the Chicago triathlon is always an adventure. Many people swear it off, others do it every year. I find it hard to pass up a big competitive local race. With the elite wave you can bypass SOME of the congestion and race against some REALLy fast people. That is exactly why I like to put up with the huge expo, the very early morning start (my alarm went off at 3:30!), the massive transition area, biking over the bumps and cracks on Lakeshore Dr., the ordeal it is to get your bike out of transition after the race, the huge hotels and crowds everywhere. But I like the competition and going fast, especially when it all comes together.

So when Sunday finally came, I was ready to race. It had felt like a long time since I raced last. I woke up before my alarm and didn't have the Ugh feeling like...yikes what am I doing!!! I was fired up to race. It was not going to be cold like last year, ick,...I hadn't raced in a while so bring it! I wanted to race, no holding bike for 70.3 efforts, hard!

The I lined up for the swim and my wave was the elite women and a lot of men......not sure what age or who they were but it was a big wave. They were actually quite nice to talk to at the transition area. My instructions were to be aggressive and go out hard and then find your pace. The start was so crazy and fast I was pummeled. Worse than Iroman. The narrow section of water and short distance to the first bouy with elite people and big men trying to go fast made for a CRAZY start. I inhaled so much water and hyperventilated so much I wanted to either die or swim to the wall and get out. Now my swimming is not where it used to be, nor where it should be, but even unless I were Michael Phelps I think it would still have been just as crazy. But...I knew if I just made the turn at the bouy I'd get some open water find some feet and be fine. Which is exactly what happened, I think I got swum over by some big men, but did find some feet after the turn. However it felt like I was swimming upriver the entire way to swim finish.

Biking on Lakeshore Dr. is its own beast. Its flat (really not my strength, but who cares), its fast, sometimes you can see your competition coming at you or behind you at the turns. But the road is awful. You really have to be careful of those seams and bumps and the sprint wave out there. I felt good on the bike and rode hard. The second loop was definitely more congested but I felt strong and tried to push it hard. This was the best part of the day. I have biked faster there, but knowing how I used to train and what I do now, I was happy with the effort.

The run felt good for about .5 miles. I felt good on the grassy section until you hit the pavement near the museum, and then it was sooo ugly. Sorry to those who came up behind me. After being bent over puking 2x, I wanted to quit, again. I at 1 point even started walking backwards on the course because I felt so bad after throwing up that I just wanted to quit and be done. That is so lame though unless you are dying or a pro making a living off of your results. So I turned my sorry AS@ around and shuffled to the next aid station drank a bunch of water and mosied on. I started to feel a little better at mile 4 and then cruised it in. I simply could not go fast. Seriously......isn't this what people experience in Ironman! Near the finish I saw Adam. Waiting. He probably thought I died on the course because I was soooo slow. I ran over to him 200 ft. from the finish and bent over so embarrassed with tears, and frustrated. I do not know what happened, I felt great going into the race, yes it was HOT, but its been hot all summer. Yes I inhaled a ton of lake Michigan, but I've done that before too. Who knows, its wasted energy trying to figure it out.

In every race, key workout, or test set you do there is something to be learned. Good or Bad. My Dad,( an awesome coach ), told this to me before the race. What did I learn from this ugly performance?? Hmm still trying to put my finger exactly on it this time, but maybe that I'm not a quitter, or I like to step up to the challenge and compete, or I should not do Chicago Tri anymore, or get to the pool more often, or time move on to cylclocross. Its 1 lesson learned the hard way.

Friday, August 20, 2010

where did that come from?

My track workout today was a workout to remember. Don't you love those? They are so rare or they wouldn't be worth remembering. I have plenty of icky ones stuck in my vault of workout memories, more than I'd like to share, but some really good ones too and now a new 1 for the collection of greats. My workout was a version of a set of 1000s which I have been I've been doing off and on all season. Thomo and I even talked by skype week and he gave me a good pep talk (he is awesome for that) about my fitness, racing next weekend and specifically this workout. He gave me a set of times to hit and I'll admit that I might have choked on my water and raised an eyebrow when he said the splits.......see, its been a while since I've run like that, but I was up to the challenge.

So today I headed to the track like I have been doing off and all summer. I was psyched to run on the track, because I love those workouts, but was a bit nervous and somewhat doubtful. I didn't let the doubt get in the way though, because that can be the death of the workout. Instead I just let it fire me up..something to really shoot for. It was so hot and muggy already in the morning, and I felt awful warming up and even thought, maybe I just don't even want to do Chicago. Its an insanely crazy race, but I kep warming up, did my dynamic warm up, drills, and strides and started feeling better. So off I go on the first 1000 feeling good thinking about cadence and turnover. I felt good but only peaked at the watch just a smidge because I didn't want the numbers to get in the way. I felt great and thought I'd be close to the high end of times that I did last week, but no! To my surprise I hit the exact time he wanted me to! I was thrilled; almost did a cartwheel on the track but probably would have cramped up. So I continued on with a little more pep in my step for the next few even going 1 sec. faster on 1 of them! I did my cool down with a big smile on my face trying to remember the last time I ran those times and I believe it was the year I was training for Worlds in Switzerland, which was 2006! Yikes (which by the way is 1 race I would love to have back; all others I'm sure I got what I deserved good and bad...this one though I think I was in my best shape of my life and got a flat tire).

I"ve been working with Thomo for about 1.5 years now,

and this season we have had about 2 key run workouts that have been the staple through the entire season. Nothing fancy or earth shattering, or magical; just different versions of the same key workouts each week, like more intervals shorter rest, or fewer intervals more rest various paces based on where I am with racing. Needless to say I have run a lot of 1000s and I've grown to like that distance on the track. I've been consistent with the workouts and plugged along having many decent ones, some ugly ones too. But today it came together. I think we as athletes forget how the training accumulates and all feeds into the overall fitness leading to a great performance.

Whatever happens next weekend in the mass of thousands racing, this is a fun little win for me to nail the times on the track back down to where they were pre-40ish!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Surviving Solo

For the last week I have been manning the fort, been captain of the ship, president of the estate or maybe more like the Queen B! Adam has been gone Kona training in California which I'm sure is more interesting than riding and running a zillion miles around tall corn fields, at least the heat and humidity lately has been close to Kona like giving me my own bit of Kona training at least to spectate. So for all those Kona bound or want to be Kona Ironmen... I say get out there and feel it. Its been ALMOST like it is in Kona. I've been overheated just watching the race and my feet burn from just standing on the Queen K. But I digress, that's not the point of this post.

I usually do very well, I must say, at keeping things running smooth and getting everything done plus some. So far, I have had only had 1 minor catastrophe involving milk left outside in the Oberweis cooler, but the big milk drinker is gone anyway so no harm done. Yesterday though I did come the the realization that I need a wife. My own wife. One that will do the laundry and actually put it away, keep the cupboards stocked full of the right food and have a healthy well balanced meal ready for dinner when I get home from work!

My training does go into survival mode. And I have to admit that I sometimes have to go to plan B, and other times priortize workous. I have gotten creative at fitting in some good bike workouts by resorting to the trainer (something I don't like to do mid summer because I love riding outside, but hey it works), and running on several occasions with Jack on his bike. Now that he is older and likes to ride, I can actually run, and do intervals etc. I'm not likely to get more than maybe 1 hr run in doing this (along with maybe a few bribes). My swim workouts end up suffering the most because its difficult to make a 5:30 a.m. masters and an evening masters 40 min away is a challenge when you are trying to fit it ALL in. So I solo swim when I can fit it in amongst everything else.

There is a short list of positives that come with surviving solo, like...the sweat drenched clothes that go into the washing machine are just my own and the laundry pile is a little smaller. I can listen to my playlist or choice loud while cleaning or paying the bills, or watch chick flicks when I crash at night(hmm sounds good, but I haven't done that one yet). I can fix a kid his favorite meal which might be something simple and pour myself a bowl of cereal (easy yes, but I don't recommend it if a big training day is on the horizon). Trust me on this one.

I know the hard work and dedication it takes just to make it to Kona, let alone the effort it takes prepare to perform your best there. Surviving solo can be challenging at times but I've mastered it and it will be worth it in the end to see the Ironman run down Alii Dr, hopefully with a smile on his face.

Monday, August 9, 2010

shifting gears....

Do you know when its the right time to shift gears? Do you sometimes find yourself in the wrong gear going up or downhill? or maybe when trying to surge ahead and drop someone when passing in a race. I have on occasion found myself in the wrong gear trying to stay on a wheel going up Town Hall, or trying to sprint at the end of a crit race. It leaves you feeling kind of helpless for a short moment until you shift and get it in gear! the right gear that is.

What about in some of the choices we make as athletes....(like Lance in the tour this year;) do you ever find yourself pushing the limits maybe 1 too many times and wind up injured or blowing up huge and ending on a sour note? OR on a more positive turn.... things are clicking along great with training so why not switch gears and step it up a notch, enter a race in the elite wave, or go off to Nationals or pick a race with some real competition. Shift gears and move ahead and take it to the next level!

This year August has come so fast and I am already feeling a shift in gears so to speak. I have to turn lights on earlier in the morning and in the evening, I've been school supply shopping for a 2nd grader and seen football on tv. Adam is gone off Kona training and I have only 1 more triathlon on the schedule. Work is slammed, and I say SLAMMED with people wanting to come in hurt, to be fixed and put back together before school starts back up. I had seriously thought about ramping it up for Nationals or another 70.3 ..but laughed at myself in the mirror realized I would be crazy to attempt this now and I might wind up like Lance with a big L on my forehead. So after Chicago its time to shift gears.

I already feel the shift in my training too. Shorter more intense workouts, the kind I LOVE and fit best into my world. Chicago Tri is the last triathlon on the schedule for me so I've been trying to find more speed and snap with workouts involving a lot more intensity.OUCH but love it. While Chicago is the last tri, it not the last race for me. I'll be stepping up the biking and gearing up for cylcocross season which begins in Sept.and finishes in Dec. at Montrose. Like here

I hope to make it on the call up list each week and race at the front of the pack. So even though 1 race season is coming to an end, another one is just beginning!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Look

We headed to Michigan for the Steelhead 70.3 this past weekend; me to coach and cheer on friends/ athletes, Adam to race. I did manage a little training along the way with a stop in Naperville for an outdoor masters swim on our way out of town Thurs night, and a good ride on the course Friday.

Watching a race is never easy for many reasons; its a long day, its hard standing around waiting, if you're an athlete you'd rather be racing. The Steelhead course isn' too spectator friendly and the day started with rain. If you do watch, you can learn some things from some of the best, like when the fastest win.....most of the time they look like it hurts too. Its not a cake walk. You can also witness some crazy things of what not to do in a race like put your helmet on backwards, take off on the run with your helmet still ! (yes I've seen it)

This weekend though, I witnessed "the look". I saw it on more than 1 occasion. The look of pure determination, 100% focused, in the moment that you are going to do this thing! I've seen this look from our kids when they are giving it their all trying something new and big. Andy Schlek had this look chasing down Contador after he made the gutsy move to attack him during a mechanical.

Jack racing in his first triathlon

I saw it on Kelly Williamsons' face,(first place female pro) as she was coming into the finishing chute to win her first 70.3. It made an appearance on my client Sara's face who was digging deep and finished her very first 1/2 IM ever, doing so under 5 hrs.

I showed up in its greatest form this weekend on Adam's face as he was rounding the corner into the last finishing stretch. I had just said to the friends I was with "if he is having a good day we should see him any minute"....and a few seconds later there he was running fast.....with that look. I wished I'd had the camera, but don't know if I would have captured it. I knew from that look he was having his day and it had all come together. I sprinted through the sand and people to the end of the finish (got sore calves from that!) and find him. When I did, the look was still there, because it was one of those races we all are in search of. Where it ALL comes together.

I don't think "the look" is something you can just pull out of anywhere on some random day, or workout. You can fake one sometimes but it is just an false image of that true "look". You may see glimpse's of it at times when you are digging deep and putting out a good effort, but it really makes rare appearances and when it does show up you know there is something amazing happening!