Yeah, it’s been a while. I got sucked into the timesink that is Facebook, and also had a less than stellar training/racing year due to knee issues, lack of motivation, etc. But, I’m back on the bike, doing my knee exercises, swimming a bit, and even going to yoga, Total Body (strength training), and spinning classes at a nearby gym that I joined. The knee is getting stronger, though I’m not really running on it right now, but I hope to get back into that soon, slowly. I’d like to do another half marathon or even possibly a marathon or half Ironman triathlon within the next year, so I have to be serious about off-season training and base-building. Stay tuned.
A week ago today I did the Mattoon Man Olympic-distance triathlon in Neoga, IL. It was the championship race of the Mid East Championship Racing Series (MERCRS), which the Ann Arbor Tri Club was in contention to win. Going into the race we were 3 points behind Team Toledo, who was 3 points behind a club from Indiana. We sent 21 people to the race, including 8 who competed in the Steelhead Half Ironman the day before. Team Toledo sent 34. The Indiana team, I think, sent one.
The .9 mile swim looked pretty intimidating from the beach, but once I was in the water it wasn’t too bad. I stayed pretty relaxed the entire race, much more so than I did at Waterloo. The one annoying thing this time was that I had people trying to swim over me more than at Waterloo, but I handled it fine and didn’t panic. I felt myself kick a couple of people at times who got too close to my feet. Oops. Pretty soon it was over, and I was out of the water running to the transition area, hoping I had enough energy for the bike leg.
I was in and out of T1 pretty quickly, though I lost my balance a bit trying to don my shoes and socks quickly, so probably lost a couple of seconds there. I was off on the bike for a very flat 24.8 miles through corn country. Cornfields everywhere, as far as the eye could see. The scenery along the course was kinda boring, not nearly as nice as Waterloo with its rolling hills and curves. The nice thing about the course was that there were two out-and-back sections, which meant I got to see all of my teammates who were ahead of me (which was most of them), as well as the ones behind me, twice. This meant lots of opportunities for us to cheer each other on, which we did enthusiastically. I didn’t feel nearly as good on the flat bike course as I’d hoped, I definitely seem to do better on rolling hills. My legs definitely felt fatigued through most of the bike course, which had me kind of worried about the run. Finally the bike leg was done, and I was heading into T2 to switch to the run.
Heading out of T2 I definitely felt a bit wobbly and fatigued, but not quite as bad as I’d felt at the beginning of the run at Waterloo. In this case, the flat course helped, and I just kept reminding myself that my legs would loosen up, and tried to concentrate on relaxing as much as possible, and not going out too fast. The run was also an out-and-back, so again I got to see all my teammates during the race, cheering each other on once more. Toward the beginning of the race (or maybe the middle(?), it’s kind of a blur) I’d been slowly gaining on one woman ahead of me as my teammates were passing me cheering me on. When I finally passed her she said “Are you Tina? I keep hearing people cheering for you. Good job!” A very cool moment, I have to say. I definitely felt better as the run went on, passing quite a few people along the way, including one Team Toledo fellow right at the end as I sprinted into the finish, to the cheers of my teammates who’d finished ahead of me.
Initially when they posted the results, my name was on them nowhere, which worried me. It turned out that I was on a sheet they’d printed that was all people who hadn’t yet finished, so they didn’t bother putting it up. Next, they posted the “Age Group Results”, which were that in name only, as they weren’t actually organized by gender or age group. Still, from those I was able to see my times, and that I’d improved both my transition times, and had earned a 10K PR in the run portion, improving my pace by 25 seconds per mile over my Dexter-Ann Arbor Run 10K pace! “Can that be right?” I said as I looked at the results. How could I have run that fast after swimming almost a mile and biking almost 25? Even on a much flatter course, it’s pretty astonishing. But that wasn’t my last shock of the day.
Next was the awards ceremony, where I cheered for teammates who earned age group awards. They finally got to my age group, starting with the winner, and I was flabbergasted when they announced my name! Actually, first they announced the winning time, and I thought “that sounds familiar”, just before they called my name. It was amazing, totally making up for Waterloo when they didn’t announce my second place finish b/c they didn’t have the updated list. I just about fell over from shock! There were only 4 people total in my age group, but who cares? I beat all of those other girls, and worked pretty hard doing it. I’m thrilled! And very proud of my nice, new trophy!
My friend H. won the women’s duathlon overall, and some of the Steelhead folks won age group awards as well. Oh, and our club earned MAJOR cool points when they announced both during the pre-race meeting, and during the awards ceremony, that we had 8 people doing the race who’d done Steelhead the day before. Most of them wore their Steelhead race shirts to the awards ceremony, and we yelled “Go, Steelhead” every time one of them collected an award. We ended up losing to Team Toledo by just a few points, which was especially annoying considering the incredibly obnoxious Team Toledo member who screamed “Tolllleeeedoooo!!!” at the top of his lungs every time one of them won something. (Our “Go Steelhead” cheers were nothing compared to his shrill screeches, trust me.) Oh well, there’s always next year. And we’ve already begun strategizing.:-)
It was a beautiful day for a race, couldn’t have asked for better weather. The water was a comfortable 77 degrees for the 1/2 mile swim. I was in the last wave to go out, and started toward the back since it was my first race and I wasn’t sure how I’d handle the melee that is the triathlon mass swim start. I started off okay, though it took me a while to get my rhythm and relax. I had some trouble sighting the buoys near the beginning, but had an easier time as the crowd thinned out. Once I rounded the first buoy it got easier, and by the time I rounded the second, I was feeling pretty good.
Soon I was out of the water and running to T1. Threw on the sunglasses and helmet, slipped on socks and bike shoes, and I was off on the bike. The course was 16 miles of rolling hills, much like the A2 Tri Club brick course (only shorter), and was lovely. I got passed by a handful of people, and passed a handful as well. Ended up with my best average speed ever for a ride, at 17.6 mph, which exceeded expectations. My best average in training was 16.9, and I was hoping to break 17 at least.
Came into T2 after the bike to discover there wasn’t much room on the bike rack for my bike. Started to move the bike directly next to my transition area over a bit before remembering that touching another athlete’s gear is a Big No No. Ended up racking my bike directly over my stuff, it’s so small it actually just hangs there without even touching the ground! Took off the helmet, slipped out of my bike shoes and into my running shoes (yay, elastic laces!) grabbed my running hat and number belt and shuffled out to the 5-mile run course on rubbery legs, worried I may have left all my energy out on the bike course.
The run course started out pretty rough, I felt like I was doing 12 minute miles. If I was lucky. We started on paved roads through the park, before turning onto a gravel road shortly after leaving the park, about a half mile into the run. Even as slow as I felt, I still managed to pass one guy who was walking the hills. (Clearly, not a member of my running group, as our coach makes sure we can handle those!) Again, it was a beautiful course, which certainly helped my mood. As the run went on, my legs loosened up and I started to feel better. Somewhere after mile 3 the course turned onto a trail and I started to get a second wind. I do love the trails! Back into the park and heading for the finish, I got a nice boost from friends cheering me on, and sprinted the rest of the way in. My average pace ended up being 10:15, so maybe those early miles weren’t as slow as they seemed!
I ended up getting second in my age group, though there were only three people in my age group. Oh well, I’ll take it! I was a little disappointed that they didn’t call my name during the awards ceremony though, apparently the announcer had an earlier version of the finisher’s list, printed before I finished my race. I did go up and talk to the volunteers manning the awards table, and picked up my trophy, which is the important thing! I had a lot of fun doing this race, and can’t wait to do another one!
And it looks like I won’t have to wait long; I’m going to be doing an Olympic distance tri two weeks from tomorrow! The A2 Tri Club is trying to win the MidEast Regional Championship Racing Series (MERCRS), and the championship at MattoonMan Triathlon is August 3rd. If we can get enough people to register and finish, we’ll have enough points to win! So, I’m taking one for the team, and signing up. About five team members will be doing MattoonMan one day after doing the Steelhead Half Ironman race, so if they can do an Olympic a day after doing a Half IM, I can do an Olympic three weeks after my first sprint. So the theory goes. Hotel and gas will be comped by our club’s sponsors, so I only have to pay the entry fee and food. We have a ton of people signed up, so it should be a fun time; wish me luck! (I’ll need it for the 1.5K swim, 40K bike, and 10K run!)
In other news, I had my annual performance review at work yesterday, and it was STELLAR! I was told I really should seek a promotion to the intermediate clerk level. All I have to do is write a letter saying why I think I deserve the promotion, and turn it in to my boss who will give it to the head of the department. I’d been meaning to do it for a while, but since I’d gotten some not so great feedback from my boss several months ago, I wasn’t sure if I stood a good chance of getting it, even though I KNOW I’m very good at my job. Now that the uncertainty is gone, I’m going to get right on top of writing that letter! I could certainly use the 3% raise the promotion would bring, which will be over and above our annual raise which comes in September.
This week I am on vacation. Wonderful, relaxing, beautiful vacation. In Northern Michigan. On a lake. Life is good.:-)
My plans for the week include the usual training, only not with my training group. I’ll miss the company, but it will be nice to be freed from the constraints of the group workout. I may just get a little crazy and do my long run on a Friday. Yeah, I’m an animal. I also have a pile of books I plan on reading (one down already, as a matter of fact.:-)) I’ll take the opportunity to get in some transition practice in the parents’ yard, test out the wetsuit I haven’t worn in about 10 years, and do some yoga, which I never have time for. And get back into doing my rehab exercises for my knee, which I can tell needs it. I’ve been a baaaad girl lately in that regard, and now that the marathon training has started (but still in its early stages), I really need to get back at it if I want to make this a reality.
Today I am catching up on blogs I haven’t read in ages, like Orangette and one of my fave online comics, OOTS. I also intend to call a couple of friends and see when they might be available to hang out this week. It feels so good to know I don’t have to go back to work for another week!
Speaking of work, I didn’t get the job I interviewed for, which is fine. I would’ve turned it down anyway, as the pay wouldn’t have been right. It would have been the same base salary, but without the significant bonuses I stand to get within the next 10 months. I’ve decided to stick with this job at least until those bonuses come through. Then, we’ll see.
Once again, I’ve been remiss in updating; I guess that’s to be expected when one is as busy as I am. My life lately, in a nutshell…
I’ve been training 5-6 days per week for the Waterloo Triathlon in mid-July. So far it’s going well! I joined the Ann Arbor Triathlon Club, which has been great so far! Between them, and the Running Fit 501 program, I have group workouts 3-4 times per week, only doing my swim workouts on my own. The people in both groups are great, and there are several others who, like me, are in both groups. It’s wonderful to have such friendly, supportive people to train with.
Last weekend was the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run; I did the 10K, many of my friends did the half marathon. On Saturday, I volunteered at the expo handing out race packets, which was a lot of fun. The people I worked with were very friendly, and I even ran into one of them right after crossing the finish line Sunday, which was pretty cool.
Sunday was the race, which was my first 10K so I was guaranteed a PR. I ran into Sarah just before the race, and we warmed up together before the start. My original plan was to take it easy, setting a soft PR that would be easy to improve upon. That plan lasted for about a quarter of a mile after the starting gun went off. At the most. I was feeling good, and decided to just listen to my body and run at a pace that was comfortable. A slightly sub-10 minute/mile pace was feeling comfortable, so that’s what I maintained. I kept expecting to hit the wall at some point and have to slow down, but I never did.
We started on Maple Road, going down the hills to Huron River Drive, and turning left, running almost to Wagner before turning around and heading to Barton Park, turning around again and returning to Maple, heading back up those (dreaded) hills before finishing at the new Skyline High School. Mile 6 started at the bottom of those hills. According to my Garmin, it was my fastest full mile of the race, a 9:29 pace. As I headed around the corner at the high school and caught site of the official time clock, I saw that I could finish in under an hour if I turned on the afterburners and sprinted the last .2, which is exactly what I did. I did the last .2 in a 7:15 pace, and finished the race in 59:31, with a 9:35 average pace.
Mile 1: 9:47
Mile 2: 9:48
Mile 3: 9:47
Mile 4: 9:35
Mile 5: 9:35
Mile 6: 9:29
Almost perfect negative splits! I really couldn’t be happier with my finish! After the race I hung out with Sarah and some of my 501 teammates before heading home. Definitely a great day!
Yesterday I volunteered for the Ann Arbor Triathlon, as a bike marshal. I caught a ride with friend and fellow 501/AA Tri Club teammate M, who was competing in the event, and his mom and sister. Once again I had a great time volunteering, and got to cheer on all my tri club teammates as they zoomed by on their bikes. My friend H was competing in her first tri, and I was able to cheer her in both the run leg and at the finish once the bike leg was over. The whole experience made me even more excited for my first triathlon in just over a month. I can’t wait!
Tomorrow, I have a job interview, for a job with more stable hours. Wish me luck!
Holy crap, it’s been a while since I posted anything! The short version: I’m still running. The knee is doing much better, and I had my last physical therapy session last week. As of today I’ve lost 12.5 pounds since January 1st. Last week I started taking the bus to work to save $$$ on gas; I can ride the city bus for free using my work ID. I’ve also decided to do the Waterloo Triathlon on July 13th. It’s a sprint tri, with a half-mile swim, a 16 mile bike and a 5 mile run. I’m pretty excited about it! I’ve been swimming pretty regularly, on top of my running, and trying to get in some spinning at the gym once a week or so.
And this past weekend, when my tax refund came in, I bought a new road bike! My mountain bike is a bit too big for me, quite heavy, and unwieldy. My new road bike is very light, very fast, and pretty cool! It’s a Cannondale Synapse 7. I love it, and am looking forward to many hours of riding! Though, clip-in pedals certainly take some getting used to.
True to form, I fell. Twice.
Posted in Uncategorized
So, I went out yesterday with the intention of doing some walking/running intervals, to see how my knee felt. It had been just over a month since I last went running, and I didn’t want to overdo it. The plan was to do intervals of five minutes walking, one minute running. In practice, I did four minutes walking, 30 minutes running, and two minutes walking. Oops.
While that was probably not the best idea in the world, I don’t seem to be any worse the wear for it. My knee was slightly sore after, so I stretched, iced it twice, and took Aleve right after the run and again before bed. Today, it feels pretty good. Doesn’t hurt when I walk, though sitting in some positions does bother it, if that position puts pressure on the back of the knee, but that’s true all the time now. Probably the Baker’s cyst getting irritated. It felt *really* good to get out and run; psychologically I really needed it!
Tomorrow morning I’ll see my physical therapist, and see how he thinks I should proceed. The doctor had said that decreasing the impact on the joint would help, as well as continuing to strengthen the quadriceps muscles in my left leg. So, I’m thinking that continuing the physical therapy for a while will be a good idea, as well as continuing to lose weight (I’ve lost 6.5 pounds so far this year), to take more pressure off the joints when I run. Supposedly, for every one pound of weight loss, four pounds of pressure are taken off the joint while walking. It may be even more while running. I hope to lose at least 20 more pounds, so that should take a whole lot of pressure off of my joints. The doctor also said triathlon training would be a good thing to do, because the swimming and biking put very little stress on the knees. I want to do that anyway, so was very happy to hear that!:-)
The Ann Arbor Triathlon is the weekend after the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run. I was thinking about trying to do the 10K, or maybe half marathon, at Dexter-Ann Arbor, but maybe I’ll do the triathlon instead. We’ll see.
In unrelated news, REI is opening a store in Ann Arbor. Yay! Fortune magazine has ranked it as one of the Best 100 Companies to Work For, so I went ahead and applied for a job. Great benefits aside, I hate my job. As much as I love the outdoors, REI would be a good fit; it sounds like their benefits are pretty awesome, so why not? I also applied online for a fitness specialist position at Washtenaw Community College’s awesome new fitness center (which I’ll be checking out this afternoon with J~). Wish me luck; I really, REALLY want out of my current job.
“I had a baby, I didn’t have a personality transplant.”~Paula Radcliffe, winner of the 2007 ING New York City Marathon (10 months after giving birth to her daughter Isla), on the British public’s expectation that she wouldn’t continue to run after having a baby.