Thursday, July 31, 2014

Challenge Olympic Triathlon relay race recap

I am so sad to see this summer winding down.  I have gotten the chance to make cross-training (swimming, Body Pump, core class) an integral part of my training, and I have honestly loved it.  With school starting up, I am very worried about fitting in even a quarter of what I've gotten to do this summer.

I won't dwell on that, though. I actually had a race this past weekend!  I competed in my first triathlon as a member of a relay team!  My best runner friend Jen asked me back in the spring if I'd be interested in competing on a team as the swimmer, with her husband (who is a super speedy sprint triathlete) as the cyclist and her as the runner, and I immediately said yes.  I knew I'd need some time back in the water, as I hadn't swam in almost two years, which is why I signed up for the adult swimming fitness class at the rec center this summer.  I only got in two open water swims (one in the lake in Delaware, and one in Lake Erie on our vacation last week), which worried me a teeny bit, but I figured I could wing it.  My sweet runner/triathlete friend Melissa let me borrow her wetsuit for the race, so it was nice that I truly felt like a triathlete at the start!

There were storms predicted for the morning of the race, but thankfully it turned out to be a gorgeous sunny day, at least for the swim portion.   

Alum Creek Beach at sunrise

The race start was overwhelming for me.  I've never even watched a triathlon, so to see all of the people... all of the bikes racked in transition... it was exhilarating!  Jen dropped her husband Curt off at the lake because it was a point-to-point race, meaning I'd swim, then he'd bike to her, then she'd run a loop to the finish. 

Pre-race selfie, before Jen left to drive to transition 2

Curt was a fantastic "tour guide", telling me everything I needed to know about triathlons.  He is such a cool person and loves the sport so much.  I really enjoyed watching the many waves of athletes start their races. The best part was watching my sweet childhood swimming friend, Meredith Kessler, who is a professional triathlete.  She competed in the half Ironman race that day, and just to chat with her for a minute before the race, and then cheer her on through transition 1--totally inspiring!!!   Another friend from my swimming days was also competing in the half as an elite amateur; I got to talk for a bit with Amanda Wendorff at the expo the day before.  I love seeing my former swimmer pals! 

Back to the race, though.  I was in the very last wave of athletes to start, since the half Ironman competitors went first, and the Olympic distance ones went second.  They had the Olympic relay participants in the final wave, along with the mens 50+ age group.  I made sure to position myself at the front of the pack for the start so that I wouldn't get caught up and dragged down by slower swimmers.  It was almost surreal when the race began... I haven't raced in swimming in almost 16 years!  I was confused when, after around 200 yards, I started catching several women.  Then I realized it was the wave that had started 3 minutes before me--the women's 35+ age group.  The rest of the race was spent trying to keep the buoys on my left, and not swimming over top of the people I was passing.  That was totally the hardest part of the race--all of the passing!!!  I estimate that I passed at least 50-70 people.  Other than that, though, things felt great and soon enough, I saw the final buoy and the transition area.  I ran up the beach through the transition, and found Curt easily.  I had to pass off a velcro anklet that had our timing chip on it, and he was on his bike and racing within a minute or so.  I chilled for a bit in transition and was lucky enough to see my marathon friend Stephanie come in from her own swim and head out on the bike. Then I headed to my car to wait in the long line of vehicles headed to New Albany, where the bike portion of the race would end, and the runners would start and finish.  It was an adventure in and of itself getting there, but I made it eventually and found Curt, and we watched Jen finish the race.  Jen knew that we were one of the top relay teams, and we found out shortly after she finished that we were the #1 co-ed relay team.  Woo-hoo!  I was super excited to find out that we'd placed. We all came back later on in the day to receive our really cool (and heavy!) champion medals.  My split time was a 29:02 for the swim (1500 meters).  I have no clue still if that is any good, but I am just happy that we came out on top and that I had such a fun time!

Getting our cool medals for 1st place!

All in all, it was an amazing experience.  I had a lot going on during the weekend with my oldest son Hunter, who was at the hospital dealing with a behavior crisis, but I was able to channel my anxiety into my race, with him on my mind constantly as an inspiration.  I really would like to do an individual triathlon, but it probably won't happen till next summer.  As a former swimmer, I have an advantage over other athletes... it's just the bike portion that will be my stumbling block. 

My next race is in less than 4 weeks. I'm running in the Emerald City Half Marathon.  Last year I raced the quarter marathon at this race, and that was my plan this year as well.  However, I decided last month that I really want to get in a fast half marathon before I run in my next full in October.  I have a half in late September, but it is only 3 weeks from my full, so I won't be racing it--just running it for fun.  As long as the weather cooperates, I will use Emerald City as a way of seeing if I'm on track in my training for the Columbus full.  I've got big goals... those will come up in my next blog post, though!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Westerville Rotary 4th of July 5K race recap

I kind of feel out of practice with race recaps... it's been over 2 months since I last donned a bib!  This was my second year running the Westerville Rotary 5K race, held each year on July 4th.  Last year, it was my 2nd-ever 5K.  I came in with big goals, and I was stoked to accomplish them.  My big goal was sub-25:30, and I went a 25:21. It was a huge PR for me (by 2 minutes and 44 seconds!), and I felt awesome about my race.  I placed 89th out of 435 runners, and was 8th in my age group (30-39 year old women).

Less than a month later, I ran my 3rd-ever 5K in 24:21, and that's where my PR has stood for almost a year, as I haven't touched a 5K race since then.  I just don't enjoy running 5K's.  They're too short and too fast for this lover of distances and negative splits.  That being said, I was really looking forward to today's race, for many reasons. One: several of my awesome friends were going to be joining me.  There was a huge representation from the Moms Run This Town group that I run with, and we arranged to meet up before the race for a picture.  A few of the mamas even met at my house and walk/ran to the race start with me!  Also, a couple of my "marathon buddies" (Stephanie and Carolyn), who I picked up during the full at Toledo, were going to be there too. I love seeing friends, it makes it more like a party than a race! 

#tbt The Glass City Marathon with Steph, Carolyn, and Elisa!

Two: the weather today was amazing.  I mean, couldn't ask for better. At race start it was 61 degrees, with 75% humidity.  Pretty much perfect for a July race.  And three: I had huge plans for this race. I have been training really well, and I just knew I was going to run well.

I had a pretty good night's sleep, and woke up 2 minutes before my alarm went off at 6:18 AM.  I had my banana, did my usual dynamic stretching routine, and before I knew it, it was 7:00 AM and my friends Laurie, Andrea and Christine had arrived.  Just like last year, I had planned to walk a mile, then do an easy 1-mile run, to the start of the race, which is almost exactly 2 miles from my house.  My friends thought that sounded like a great plan, especially since parking isn't so great at the race start, so they joined me.  It's so much more fun with people coming along!  We chatted our way to the start, and met up with some more moms from our MRTT group.  There were actually a total of 13 of us running in this race, so this picture doesn't include everyone.

 Love my MRTT mamas!

After our pic, I did a few more dynamic stretches and some quick strides (short sprints) to get my legs moving.  I felt good. Nervous, but good.  I headed up to the race start where I was stoked to find Carolyn and Stephanie.  Carolyn had forgotten her watch, so she planned on hanging with me for the first mile at least.  The race start kind of snuck up on me (I was having so much fun chatting with my friends); all of a sudden, Steph's husband Nate said the race was starting in 30 seconds and I was shocked!  But again, I felt ready.  Carolyn and I took off, and my friend Jen (our honorary MRTT cheerleader for the day) was right there cheering us on.  I love to hear her voice during a race! 

The first mile pretty much went perfectly.  I had told Carolyn that I wanted to go around 7:15, and that is exactly what we went.  I lost her right at the 1-mile marker.  I felt pretty good, although I could tell when we were about halfway into the race that my plan of negative-splitting this race (going faster each mile) wasn't going to happen.  I tried my best to keep my eye up ahead on Andrea, who is Jen's super-speedy friend.  She wasn't too far in front of me, and watching her kept me focused.  Mile two clocked in at 7:15 again, which I was surprisingly fine with.  I felt I could push mile 3 and end up with a strong finish.  

It was at around mile 2.1 or 2.2 that I realized that I just didn't have it in me.  My pace was inching up.  I started to have trouble regulating my breathing, which isn't usually a problem for me.  I kept telling myself that there was less than a mile to go, that I could do this, but I just couldn't go any faster.  I still was passing people, but my pace wasn't where I wanted it to be.  Mile 3 ended up being my slowest, at 7:21.  I was able to push the final 0.18 of the race (it was a bit long, probably due to the winding trail we ran on), finishing that part of the race in a 6:41/mile pace.  I definitely gave it my all at the end there, and I knew that I was going to be close to a sub-23, which was my "A" goal for this race.  Jen was cheering for me at the finish, and I just kept hoping it would be over soon! 

Jen's pic of me at the finish

Sure enough, I passed under the finish arch in a 23:02 on my Garmin, and that was also my official race time.  I can't be upset with a 1 min 19 sec PR, right?!!  I'm happy with the PR, but I honestly felt like I'd go faster today.  I was even more bummed when I found out that I just missed out on an age group award (the top 2 girls in my age group were 1st and 3rd overall, so I was 4th in the age group awards).  Final place was 6th out of 88 in the 30-39 women, and 64th out of 607 total runners.  Looking at those numbers, compared to last year's, I really have improved a ton.  I am not an experienced 5K runner, so I know I can only get better.   I already have a goal of placing in my age group next year--I want a Fleet Feet (running store) gift card! 

After milling around chatting with my friends, watching people finish, and taking more pictures together, we got some food (bagels, bananas, and of course Cheryl's Cookies!).  We stayed for the awards ceremony as Andrea had won 1st place in her age group (40-49), and then Jen dropped off Andrea, Christine, Laurie and me at my house.  It was a really fun race, and I'm so glad that I did it.  I need to be proud of that shiny new PR!  I just know that I've got bigger things in store, and that fire in my belly grew a bit stronger after today.