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Salado Smokin' Spokes 2017 ride report.

Our 100 miler! After a winter of riding on the trainer, maybe even when it wasn't strictly necessary, we've actually been riding outside for our longest rides. We did 70 at Pedal Thru the Pines, 85 on Parmer the next Saturday, and now finally our century, 4 weeks before the big race (and one week before our half Ironman).

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Training update, March 2017.

I was giving Trista a hard time for not posting an Ironman training update on her blog the other day, then I realized maybe if *I* posted one, she'd feel guilty and have to post hers. Hi, Trista.

44 days until Ironman Texas! Though technically I'm mostly counting down until the Galveston half Ironman, which is 23 days away. After Galveston, we have one more build week, then some taper, then IMTX.

I can sum up my training just like I've ever summed up any triathlon training: The swim and the run are going great. And then there's the bike.

But my swim and run really are going great. I'm where I need to be, distance-wise, if not a little ahead of where I've been in the past. Not having a coach, I have nobody to tell me I'm running too far on my long runs, so I've decided I'm not! It's an experiment. My swimming is going great, and has been 99.999% Masters swimming. And one very cold Quarry swim on my birthday. I feel strong and confident in the water, which will probably not translate in any way to a lake full of other people trying to kill me.

5. Quarry swim.
2 laps in the 58 degree Quarry on my birthday!

Aaaaaand then there's the bike. With 45 days to go, I have done exactly one ride outside in this training. All other rides, during the week and on the weekends, have been done on my trainer. (That's not strictly true: I've ridden outside to commute to work, but I don't really count that.) That's not ideal. And it's not enough volume on my long rides. But I have grand plans to change that, by cramming a lot of long rides in during the remaining weekends! We're doing Pedal Thru the Pines and Salado Smoking Spokes, which will force me off the trainer and make me get in longer rides. I'm excited, because I love charity rides. I just do not love the fact that all cars seem to be trying to kill all cyclists lately. So I've just been pretending that I live up north, where they CAN'T ride outside, and have to ride on the trainer.

First outside ride of the season! Turns out, Parmer still has a stupid headwind. Good to know!
Our one outside ride!

Otherwise I'm just trying to stay awake. This training has featured a lot of early mornings. Even for me. With only one car, I depend on the bus to get me to campus. And no bus that I can walk to gets me to campus early enough to do Masters swim. So I've begun riding my bike to work once a week, usually leaving the house at 4:45am. Unless swim practice is early, in which case I leave the house at 3:45am. Surprisingly, I feel 99% safer riding that early than I do riding any other time. No cars on the road.

I'd like to thank Big 12 Swimming and Diving (and the Masters swim cancellations and reschedulings resulting therefrom) and Being a Single-Car Family for this new Earliest Bike Ride personal best.

I've also started doing back to back Something To Work during the week. Like riding to work to do Masters on Wednesday, then running to work on Thursday. That requires a shocking yet satisfying amount of pre-planning. On Tuesday I have to bring in my lunch and snacks for that day, plus the next 2 days. I have to bring in two additional sets of clothes and shoes, which I then swap around at the end of the day, according to what I want to leave at work to be available the next day. This is still a work in progress, which has left me having to wear still-damp running shoes for a whole workday, or end up going home wearing a bonus tshirt I had at work on top of my other shirt, because I miscounted bras, and have to leave the one I'm wearing to wear when I get to work tomorrow.

Sadness is the beautiful Swim Center pool drained and under emergency repair until May.
Unfortunately a pipe burst in the main pool, which means we have to swim in the diving well, which means sharing the diving well, which means reduced practices, and probably a lot more 5am practices, which means a lot more 3am alarms. YAY.

So basically what I'm lacking in cycling, I'm making up for in early rising and ridiculous logistics. This pleases me, right up until the moment when I have to ride 112 miles on 4/22. I'm sure it'll be fine. You can fake an Ironman, right? Right.

Fortunately this is all for fun! My goal is to go out and enjoy the day as much as possible, finally share another Ironman with Karen, and most importantly, cheer for Trista and Cecilia as they do their first Ironman!

Now I just have to figure out what I'm going to wear...
happy running

3M Half Marathon 2017 race report.

This was the second of the races in my half-baked, ill-conceived training plan for Ironman Texas. The first was the Decker half marathon, and my general plan was to run Decker undertrained as a baseline, then try to run 3M a little faster. I kinda figured that would take care of itself, given how much easier the 3M course is.

Then life happened.

As it always does. But I went into 3M not at all where I'd planned to be, training-wise. I won't drone on about excuses, but as an outline of what I WOULD drone on about, if I were to drone, I just didn't make myself do the speedwork I intended, the first two weeks of 2017 were probably the worst work weeks I've ever experienced, I had a COMPLETE motivational failure of an 18 mile run that turned into a 6 mile (this almost NEVER happens to me, so I can't even be too surprised or upset; mostly I just find it kinda scientifically interesting), and I had a random evening where I went from Fine to Unable To Walk Without Limping Terribly. What happened remains a complete mystery, but 24 hours of sitting or being in bed with a heating pad on my leg, then a week of no running seems to have cleared it up. All of that combined into some non-ideal preparation for a speedy half marathon. Then I spent the day before 3M walking, standing and marching. If I really cared about my time at 3M, I would have stayed at home on Saturday, but instead I went out to show solidarity with the women (and many men) at the Austin Women's March. Did it impact my race? I'll never know, but even if it had meant a 4 hour half marathon the next day, I would have zero regrets. I can run 3M next year. This was something so much bigger and more meaningful to me, and I'm glad I got to be part of history.

Women's March Austin

That's a pretty dramatic paragraph! All that being said, I'm actually just fine with my time at 3M. I didn't have a formal goal, and if I had, it would have been faster than what I ran, but I'm not upset about it.

I decided to run to the start line, to get my warmup in, and so that I could leave Matt the car, since we only have one. It ended up being 2.7 miles from home to the startline, and it was into a generous cross or headwind the whole way.

Ohyeah! The wind! After 60ish degrees and terribly humid at Decker, for 3M we got 60ish degrees and 20mph winds, gusting to who knows what. Warm AND windy?! My favorite! So I intentionally overdressed for the warmup, knowing it would be dark and windy and early and bleh.

I got to the start line just after 7, hit the portapotty, which took forever, dropped my long sleeve shirt at the clothing drop (I had run with my dry clothes bag wadded up in my pocket!), and waded into the start chute. At like 7:25. Not my best idea. I shoved and pushed and weaved, but I could only get up to where the fence started, which was behind the last pace group (2:15). Buuut there was nothing I could do, and it was my own dumb fault, so I just stayed there and froze in my short sleeved shirt as the wind buffeted us.

It took me a couple minutes to get over the start line once the race started, but then I just tried to settle in, while simultaneously weaving around all the people who had seeded themselves appropriately.

People had been saying "hey, it's a point to point run, so it'll be a tailwind most of the way!" That was not true. It was a crosswind for most of the way, a headwind for a small part, and then some tailwind at the end. The crosswind was pretty demoralizing at times, though. If you let your guard down, you'd suddenly find yourself staggering a couple steps to the side, as the wind rudely shoved you. It was annoying, but hey.. at least it kept the temperature a little cooler? I was comfortable in my short sleeved shirt, would have been fine in sleeveless.

3M 2017

I never looked at my watch, just tried to run comfortably hard in the beginning, settling in, trying not to fight the wind too much, just lean into/against it. As always at 3M, there were tons of friends out running and cheering, and I cheered back at them as I saw them. Including Matt and the dogs just before mile 6! I knew they planned to be there, and I looked forward to it the whole first half of the race. I saw them way before they saw me, and I ran up and the dogs were So! Surprised! Suddenly mom! I stopped and got a million kisses, left the small handheld water bottle I'd been carrying with them, and headed out for the second half.

3M 2017

Which was pretty uneventful. I just plodded along, survived Great Northern, trudged up 45th St directly into the sun, but with a lovely tailwind, and then down Duval into campus. I tried to pick it up for the last two miles, but I felt pretty stiff-legged. That last uphill after campus is always supremely unwelcome, but Rogue was out with a big cheering squad, and that helped motivate me up, around the corner, and across the finish line.

Amy and Karen after 3M 2017

As I said, I'd never looked at my watch, but I really felt like I'd run a stronger race than I had at Decker. So I was briefly a little surprised and bummed that my 3M time was a 1:56:03 (compared to Decker's 1:55:32, which I had been surprised and happy with). Who knows which of those excuses played any role in the difference in performance, or if I'm just stronger on hills than flat courses, or if it's just random.

But it's another half marathon in the books, my first 3M in 5 years (13 minutes slower than my 3M/half marathon PR of 1:42:23), and a lovely day to see so many friends, so I'm gonna call it a good race!

And a strong finish!

9:10, 8:47, 8:52, 8:53, 8:52, 8:53, 8:49, 8:42, 8:52, 8:55, 8:28, 8:31, 8:34

Well, that was windy. Thank you to everyone who was out cheering, and congratulations to everyone who ran!
happy running

Turkey Trot 2016 race report.

Turkey Trot! One of my favorites.

This year Kate and Karen would both be in town, so we could get the whole gang together with our ridiculous Thanksgiving costumes from last year for the first time. The complication, of course, was that Karen would be exactly 4 days out from Ironman Arizona. She wasn't even sure she'd be able to run, and if she could, how she'd feel. But we figured we'd just wait and see, and at the very least we could get ridiculous start line photos together.

My goals were modest for this year. I haven't done much speedwork since the Tahoe Triple, and I'm really not concentrating hugely on speed in preparation for Ironman Texas, so I figured I'd use it as a standard workout, to include a warmup and then a few tempo miles, if I was feeling good. And if the weather was good. Which is the big unknown for Turkey Trot. Especially when you're wearing a lot of warm costume.

Kate and I carpooled, grabbed a selfie, then did a 0.69 mile warmup over to the corner where we were going to meet Karen. Another photo of the whole gang, and then a 0.43 mile warmup with Karen, to see if her legs even worked. They did! Perfect.

Kate and Amy pre-Turkey Trot 2016

We waded into the sea of humanity that is the start line, not bothering to try to get up near the front. We were just running for fun. We found Meghan on the way, so the four of us chatted until it was time to go. And then it was time to go!

Because we started so far back, we had a very slow start. Nobody was concerned. We weaved in and out of people, dodging walkers, trudging our not-all-that-warmed-up legs up the first hill. Somehow, despite Karen getting ahead of us initially, we all managed to stick together through the first couple miles.

Karen and I got chatting, and she told me about her experience in Ironman Arizona, and we tossed around some ideas about training for Ironman Texas and plans for the further future. Just having a lovely time. The hills were tough, but we chatted through them. The sun was out now, and where we'd been chilly standing around at the start, we were no longer chilly now. I pulled my arm warmers down to my wrists.

Kate, Karen and Amy pre-Turkey Trot 2016

Once we got done with the hills, we started picking up the pace more. We didn't discuss it, it just sorta happened because there was downhill. We chatted with the folks we saw that we knew, cheered for other people in costume, got lots of compliments on our costumes (which we kept forgetting we were wearing), and realized that we'd pulled ahead of Kate and Meghan.

In the last two miles, I started to reach Peak Ability. I could feel my lack of speedwork, and I was getting right to the edge of my comfort zone. Karen, however, was feeling great. I commented on how she certainly didn't seem like she'd just done an Ironman. I could barely keep up with her. And it was warm enough, with the sun out, that I had to take my arm warmers off entirely.

And then in the final mile, I COULDN'T keep up with her anymore. She pulled ahead of me, and I was doing all I could just to keep her in sight. She started looking behind her, waiting for me to catch up, but I yelled that I couldn't go any faster, I was doing all I could. She said she knew, she just wanted to cross the finish line together, and she'd fall back a bit. That continued over the final mile, with her mostly running ahead of me, and then in the finish chute, finally falling back to run beside me so we could cross the finish line together.

I really had no idea what we'd run. Our total time was 44:19, which I knew was fairly slow compared to my recent Turkey Trots, so I figured my suffering at the end was me just being out of speedwork shape. Turns out, no, we just started really slow.

Perfectly executed accidental progressive pace run? Don't mind if I do!

9:58, 9:22, 8:39, 8:13, 7:53

7:53! No wonder I was suffering. I think I've only run one other sub-8 this year, and that was in April. And even though my overall time for this year's Trot is slower than last year's my last two miles were faster than any of the miles from last year.

It feels good to discover I CAN still run fast! And man, I wish I could be four days out from an Ironman and be that fast/faster.

44:19 (8:52/mile)

History shows that I'm continuing my trend of getting slower every year. I think it's pretty healthy, and shows how far I've come, that I really don't care. This year was about fun, and I got some surprising speed as a bonus, and overall I'm happy with the whole experience.

2004: 52:24 (10:29/mile)
2005: 52:45 (10:33/mile)
2006: 47:54 (9:35/mile)
2007: 44:35 (8:55/mile)
2008: 39:48 (7:58/mile) (suspect it was short)
2009: 40:59 (8:10/mile)
2010: 36:35 (8:05/mile according to official time) (definitely short)
2011: 40:29 (8:06/mile)
2012: 38:58 (7:48/mile)
2013: 39:45 (7:57/mile)
2014: 43:51 (8:46/mile)
2015: 42:41 (8:32/mile)
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What's Next: Fall 2016 Edition

At some point, when you don't do something for a while, you have to stop and ask yourself, "... Was that it? Am I done with that? Am I retired now?"

Between 2007 and 2013, I did 6 Ironmans. In 2014 I did Ultraman Canada. Since UMC, I've done exactly one triathlon, and it was a sprint. Two years with only one sprint triathlon. Does that mean I'm done? It would be a logical time to stop. I have plenty of friends who have said, "That's it for me" and retired.

Well, turns out, I made a promise. When Ironman Texas entered the scene, I said I had NO interest in doing an Ironman in Houston in May. That's just crazy. Talk to me if they ever move it earlier or a lot later in the year. And now they called my bluff, and moved Ironman Texas to April.

So making good on a promise to my friend Coach Karen, I'm signed up for Ironman Texas 2017!

It's been months since I swam at all, and I had to actually pump up both tires from flat to put my bike on the trainer. I'm a long way from where I was when I was doing an Ironman a year. I'm not competing against that Amy. I'm out to discover whether this is something I still want to do, and remember how much I enjoy long rides with my friends and early mornings at Masters. And see if that finish line is still magical.

I have many months to get ready, so I'm wading back in slowly. But I'm tentatively pretty excited, you guys.
happy running

Tahoe Triple 2016 race report.

Oh, geez. Where do I even start? By the time I finished day 2, I'd forgotten most of day 1. I considered making this into three separate race reports, but it really feels like one event, so one race report seems more appropriate. Hopefully I've forgotten so much that it won't end up being so long I can't post it on livejournal. Because I'm so good at brevity.

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