Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pre-race bike drama

This story is pretty embarrassing but I'm going to go ahead and share it...

I'll be the first to admit that I know next to nothing about bike maintenance and repair.

On Saturday evening I checked my tires and decided that it would probably be worth it to add a bit more air.  However, instead of adding air, I managed to let all of the air out of my back tire.  Then when I tried to reinflate it, the tube didn't seem to be taking air.  I checked the valve and noticed that it seemed to be broken.  My tires have presta valves and the piece that you unscrew wouldn't stay unscrewed at the top.  Instead it seemed to be collapsing down on itself.  Of course, I immediately panicked.

I called my brother, the only person I could think to call that knew something about bikes, and he confirmed my suspicions that I probably needed to replace the tube.  It was during this conversation that I checked the tire repair kit attached to my bike and realized that I had no spare tube.  As background, when I got my bike from my friend in January I took it in for a tune-up.  I told them that I knew nothing about bikes, but figured I needed to purchase a basic kit in case I got a flat.  I purchased the one that the employee recommended and I was told that it could be installed during the tune-up.  To be honest, I can't remember if there was any conversation about the spare tube that I would also need to purchase, but I guess I just assumed that I had purchased one of those as well.  Apparently, I had not.  I also had not thought to check out the contents of the kit until this very moment.

My brother said he had a spare tube at his apartment, but that he couldn't be sure it was the right size and that if I could go buy one, that was probably the best idea.  At this point it was about 7:45 pm.  I realized that the bike shop near my apartment might close at 8:00 so I hung up with my brother, sprinted to my car and drove over there.  Sadly, it had closed at 6:00.  So, I called my brother back and he said that if I could pick him from the party he was currently attending and drive to his apartment, he could get his spare tube and come back to my place and help me install it.  So I picked him (and his girlfriend) up at the party in Arlington, drove into DC to go to his apartment and then came back to my apartment.

It appeared that his spare tube might be slightly too large for my tire, but we decided to go through the whole process because we thought it still might work.  I got a crash course in removing the back tire on my bike and how to replace a flat tire/tube.  However, as soon as we put some air in the tube it was clear that it was too big.  There was no way that we could have put the tire back on.

Although my brother had asked me if I was sure that my original tube wasn't taking air and I said I was (pretty) sure, at this point he tested it and it did seem to be taking and holding air (thus confirming that I am completely clueless when it comes to all things bike related).  So, we reinstalled the original tube and were able to fill it and put the wheel back on.  And yes, I was totally embarrassed and apologetic about the whole situation.  Fortunately, they were good sports about it and I returned them to the party that was still in progress!

When I got back to my apartment I noticed that my wheel was now rubbing against one side of the frame.  I was kicking myself for not noticing this before he left, but somehow I realized that it was probably screwed in too tightly on the side.  I was able to make the necessary adjustments and get it centered and spinning freely.  A small win that made me feel slightly better about myself and my abilities to approach problems logically and rationally.  (I also may have texted my brother again in a panic, but had managed to figure out what to do by the time he got back to me suggesting the same strategy).

By the time all of this had wrapped up it was around 10:00pm and after all the (self-generated) drama, there was no way I was going to fall asleep right away.  So much for my planned 9:00pm bedtime before a 4:00am wake up call. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Week in Review - 5/22-5/28

Sunday May 22
Bike 15.97 mi, Run 2.82 mi
This was only my second ever brick workout.  I figured it would be good practice for my upcoming race and a good chance to test out my race day outfit.  I went to spectate my brother's tri first so by the time I got out on my bike it was after 10.  It was pretty hot and I was reminded that I am not yet adjusted to summer workouts.

safety first, even in the car 

sweaty mess afterwards
Monday May 23
Swim 2700 yds
Another successful early morning trip to the pool.  I tried to throw in a bit of speed in advance of Sunday's upcoming race.  I'm not sure how much speed there really was, but at the very least it was a harder effort!

After work I headed out to Tysons to have dinner with Lauren who was in town for work.  We had a great time discussing Hunger Games, YA literature and running over a large amount of carbs at the Lebanese Taverna and cake at the Cheesecake Factory.  Apparently we both fail as bloggers because even though we talked about taking a picture multiple times, we forgot to do it.

Tuesday May 24
Run 3.23 mi
I had to drop off my car for some minor repairs so I went in my running clothes and ran home.  For some reason I always love combining errands and working out. :)

Wednesday May 25
Bike 14.37 mi
I have really been working to make sure I put in more time on the bike and I can tell it is starting to pay off, at least in terms of my comfort level.  I'm even starting to think about whether or not I can handle the leap to shoes and clipless pedals (gasp!).

Thursday May 26
Run 5.25 mi
For some reason I really didn't want to run on Thursday when my alarm went off, but I knew that I would be mad at myself if I didn't go.  So I headed out, unsure of how far I would make it.  Fortunately after a few minutes I was feeling fine and completed the full loop I had originally planned.

Friday May 27
Bike 18.8 mi
I met up with Sarah for some early morning loops around Hains Point.  This was my first time riding with someone else and it definitely made a difference!  Plus I think I went a little faster than I normally would since I wanted to keep up with her and I was distracted by our chatting. :)  She may have also pushed me further in the direction of switching to bike shoes as she just made the change last week!

Saturday May 28
I tried to be as lazy as possible since I had my first sprint triathlon the next day!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Triathlon Race Goals

On Sunday I'll be racing my first sprint triathlon!  I'm pretty excited about it.  I don't feel too nervous about it since it's my first one and I have no previous time to beat.  I haven't been biking all that long and I'm getting back into swimming, so I don't expect this to be a particularly speedy race.  However, I am hoping that it will serve as a good baseline and make me even more motivated to keep training (and not head back to just running).

Swim - 300 meters
I made a rough estimate of my time for a 300 based on how I have been swimming recently and the pace I held last year in a shorter than sprint triathlon.  I also had to do a yards to meters conversion.  I ended up entering myself with a 5:20.  While I am hoping that is a relatively accurate prediction, it is probably on the faster end of what I am capable of when you eliminate flip turns and require crossing under lane lines.  However, since this is a snake swim, I'd prefer to be passed by a few people than have to pass a number of people myself.  I don't see this as starting with the 7:00 minute milers when you hope to run a 10:00 minute pace, it's more like starting with the 7:00 minute milers when you hope to run a 7:00-7:30 minute pace.  Hopefully I will be able to be right around 5:20 (or faster), but I'll be happy with anything sub 5:30.
Goal - sub 5:30

Bike - 12 miles
On page of the website says the bike leg is 11.75 miles and another says 12.4.  I'm just going to assume it's somewhere around 12.  I'll just keep riding until I'm finished and see how far I went. :)  I really have no idea what to expect out of this portion of the race.  I'm assuming that I can probably go a bit quicker than I have in my training rides, but that is no guarantee since a lot of them have been around pancake flat Hains Point.  I've been averaging somewhere in the 11-13 mph range, though that always includes some slowing at intersections and then starting up again.  So my goal is to finish this leg of the race in under an hour.  I think I should be able to hold a 12mph pace in a race setting (even with hills).
Goal - sub 60 min.

Run - 5k
I'm not exactly sure how this will go since I've only done two brick workouts.  But both times I've actually run at a pretty quick pace (faster than I "felt" like I was going) and both times I rode farther than 12 miles.  I'd think I can hold a sub 9:00 minute mile pace for the run, though I'd like to shoot for faster.  I'm just going to start running and see how it goes.
Goal - sub 28 min

So, I guess with transitions that puts me somewhere in the 1:35 range?  I'm not really too focused on the time (overall or for each leg), my real goal is to just get out there and complete it (maybe with a little racing thrown in).

It's going to be hot on Sunday (even at 7am), so that adds another fun element to the mix.  This morning for the first time I successfully drank from my water bottle while riding my bike.  So I'm not sure how much hydration will be happening on the bike.  Fortunately, it is only 12 miles and I guess I can just chug water in transition.  I also don't have a wetsuit, so let's hope the pool water has been warmed up slightly by the recent temperatures.  At least I know what I am doing while running (though I do need to remember to put the speed laces on my shoes)!

I have no doubt that it will be an interesting race.  Hope everyone has a nice long weekend.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Patience (My bike and I - 2)

This is my second post detailing my attempt to become a competent cyclist (with an eye on triathlons).  You can read the first post here

I'm sure it comes as no surprise to most of you when I say that I have been pretty frustrated with biking.  I still don't feel like I am really my bike using it to its full capacity (or my full athletic ability).

I think most of this was hinted at in point 3 of my Three Things Thursday two weeks ago.  I had a poor ride that morning and just wasn't sure if I wanted to keep scheduling time on the bike, something I would have to do if I committed myself to a triathlon.

After thinking about it for a few days, I realized that even though I was saying that I knew that I needed to be patient and that progress was going to take time, I wasn't acting or thinking that way.  I was expecting to transform myself into a strong cyclist in a matter of months on one ride (or less) a week.  I only have to look at my experience swimming and running to know that it's going to take a lot of hard work and time to get better.


I started swimming relatively late, at least when you consider most competitive swimmers start at the ripe old age of 5 or 6.  I joined the summer team at my neighborhood pool at 11.  Our team was actually highly competitive and had so many kids interested in swimming that there was an A and B team.  I spent four years on the B team, swimming in the developmental meets and making slight improvements, but coming nowhere near the speed I would need to make the jump to the A team.  I finally had a breakthrough (and a bit of luck with age group slots) at 15 when I finally qualified to move up to the A team with my 50 breaststroke time.

After my summer success, I decided to join the high school team my sophomore year.  My freshman year I had "played" on the freshman basketball team, though I use the term play loosely since I spent most of my time on the bench, and really had no shot at making the JV team.  I struggled with the jump to racing longer distances, but saw slight improvements in my times by the end of the season.  I didn't make another big leap forward until my senior year when I decided to join a USS team and was practicing six times a week.  I had decided that I wanted to have to option of joining a (Div. III) college team and knew that I needed to get better in order to do so.  I did end up swimming on my college team and saw more progress after an intense practice schedule that included doubles twice a week and regular weight lifting.
conference championship, my senior year

So what does my swimming experience tell me?  That it took a lot of yards and time in the pool to see improvement.  I got faster after years of work, not weeks or months.

I've shared a bit of my running background before, but although I first joined the track team in middle school, I didn't consider myself a runner until two years ago.  Which, if I really think about it, means that I was running (inconsistently) for almost twenty years before I felt like a runner.  When I was flipping through my college photo albums looking for a decent swimming picture, I was reminded of the fact that I was on my college track team for two years.  And yes, I honestly forgot that.  The team wasn't extremely competitive (at least on a team level, some of the individuals were very good) mainly because of the small size, so they were welcoming to everyone.  One of my good friends on the swim team was a pretty good runner and convinced me I should join her for outdoor track.  So I did, because I had done multiple sports in high school and was used to having some kind of practice on my schedule.

After college I ran sporadically.  I would sign up for races and then train for a while and then slack off until I registered for another race.  I think part of it was figuring out how to adjust to exercising on my own schedule since I was so used to having everything laid out for me.  I'd always had a marathon on my "list" so I decided that 2009 was going to be the year.  It was through following a training schedule and running on a regular basis for almost six months that I finally fell in love with running.

Marine Corps marathon 2009

Baltimore Marathon 2010

For the last two years I saw slight improvements in my times, but it was not until the beginning of 2011 that I really made a giant leap forward.  Obviously I don't know exactly what lead to this breakthrough, but I have a strong hunch that it was all of the running that I did in 2010.  I ran almost twice as many miles in 2010 as I did in 2009.  It seems that my large base helped me to pick up the pace for shorter races.
So where does this leave me with cycling?  It's pretty clear that my successes with both swimming and running have taken time, as well as consistent and frequent practice.  Realistically, I'm not going to be able to get out on my bike 5-6 times a week.  But I think I can get out there 2 or 3 times a week.   I may not see all that much progress this summer or even next summer, but I'm going to stick with it.  If I work hard enough and put in the time, I know that I will see improvements eventually. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

When I did my brick workout on Sunday I wore my planned triathlon race outfit to make sure that there were no comfort issues.  This included my Kinvaras.  Two different people commented that they loved the fact that my shoes matched my bike (as they passed me, of course)!  I hadn't noticed this, but I guess they do. :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Week in Review - 5/15-5/21

Sunday May 15
Bike - 20.5 mi
Swim - 2500 yds
I started off Sunday by registering for the Army Ten Miler and then headed out on my bike.  I set a new personal distance record, covering 20.5 miles!  Then later in the day I headed to the pool for a swim.  I have to say that I'm not sure how all of your half ironman and ironman competitors do it, I was exhausted after my double!  Maybe I would eventually adapt, but I don't know that I could do multiple doubles a week.

Monday May 16
Run 5.1 mi

Tuesday May 17
Run 3.12 mi
This was a quick run after work and it was just what I needed.  Recently my legs have been feeling speedy when I run after work so I just try to go with it!

Wednesday May 18
Swim 2600 yds
Another early morning swim success.  I also attempted a bit of speedwork (most of my swimming recently has been at a relatively steady pace) and timed myself in a 300 so that I could have an idea of what to expect in my tri next weekend.  I had to estimate my time when registering and fortunately it seems like my guess was pretty accurate!  It's a snake swim in a pool so hopefully I put myself in the right place in line and won't have to do too much passing (or be passed a lot).

Thursday May 19
Bike 12.53 mi
This was my second week of fitting in a morning ride and I think it is going to make a big difference for me!  I know that the more time I spend riding, the more likely I am to improve.  Just going once on the weekend is not going to cut it for me.  If I can get my act together and purchase a lock for my bike, I can incorporate this into a bike commute.  Right now, I'm just going out for an hour or so, then coming home to get ready for work.

Friday May 20
Run 7.0 mi
I knew my Saturday morning was going to be busy so I decided to do my longish run for the week on Friday morning.  Since I'm not training for a specific race right now, I'm trying to maintain a long run in the 7-10 range.  This run was relatively average, but I love the feeling of heading to work on a Friday and knowing that I have completed my "long" run!

Saturday May 21
Run 5.25 mi
I wasn't sure if I was going to have time for a run on Saturday morning, but I managed to fit it in between taking my car to get inspected and meeting my friend and her kids to visit the Lego exhibit at the National Building Museum.  There was less Lego architecture on display than I was expecting, but we did have fun building our own Lego creations. :)

I have a real future in architecture

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Three Things Thursday - Food edition

1. Last night one of the other residents in my apartment complex organized a birthday party for our unofficial on-site manager who was turning 92!  I hope that I can be in half as good of shape as he is when (if) I get to that age.  Someone asked if the faucet in his apartment tapped into the fountain of youth (he has been living in the same apartment since the 1950s), and he laughed and said his advice was to “eat lots of vegetables!”

2. Over the last year or so, my office has implemented a series of “healthy living” initiatives including on-site exercise classes and lunchtime meetings/demos with nutritionists.  And, sadly, I discovered the other day that these initiatives have now reached the vending machine.  While I am all for healthy options, I was really craving a candy bar on Tuesday afternoon.  I don’t visit the vending machine all that frequently, but the last time I did, there were plenty of choices.  Unfortunately, that is not the case anymore.  There were nutrigrain bars, fiber one bars, low-fat looking cookies, trail mix and baked potato chips.  No chocolate in sight.  So I went back to my desk and had a fiber one bar (one that I got at the grocery store and did not cost me $1).  It was such a disappointment.

3. I need some new quick and easy dinner ideas.  As I posted on Twitter yesterday, all too frequently I spent some part of my afternoon thinking about great tasty things to make for dinner and then I get home and am too hungry, tired, or lazy to take the time to cook anything and just have a giant bowl of cereal.  Or I heat up a can of soup or frozen dinner.  I have a range of excuses: it's annoying to cook for one, I don't have a dishwasher so the clean up from multi-pot dishes is annoying, I don't have time to make something complicated, etc.

Last night I actually managed to cook a big batch of "filling" for veggie burritos. It's a very easy (non) recipe that I got from a friend and attempt to make on a semi-regular basis.  I just brown an onion then add corn, tomato, black beans and green chilies.  I usually just use one onion and a can of each of the others, but I'm sure fresh or frozen would work just as well.  Last night I threw in some peppers (frozen) as well.  I either throw it in a tortilla with some cheese or with rice.  I end up with leftovers for one or two other meals, which is nice because I don't have to go through the dinner dilemma for the next few nights!

If you have any easy favorites, please share.  I could use the help!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Broad Street Run photos

My Broad Street Run pictures are not good, mainly because I don't appear in most of them!

 that's me...I think

 not here

or here either

Based on the first picture, I assume that I am somewhere off to the left on these other two.  I can only guess I these were linked to me because of the finish time.  Is it better to have an awful race photo or a race photo that you aren't even in? ;-)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Filling up my Schedule

My race calendar for the next few months has been looking pretty empty.  But I'm slowly working on changing that.

Yesterday, like many of you, I registered for the Army Ten Miler.

Today, I got over my tri commitment issues and signed up for the BRATS Salute to the Military Sprint Triathlon.

Yes, this race is only two weeks away.  It is being held on May 29, 2011, not May 30, 2010 as the picture would lead you to believe (but the 2011 image did not copy as nicely, so I went with this one).  I just so happened to get an email about this race on Friday, the day after I had complained about how I wasn't sure if I was feeling up to tri training and was waffling about whether or not to sign up for a race.  For many reasons, I decided that this was the race for me.  The price is reasonable, it's not all that far away (and offers race morning packet pickup!) and it's relatively small (right now there are only about 120 people registered).  And I see the fact that it's only two weeks away as a bonus.  I know that I can complete the distance and this gives me less time to get worried or stressed out!  I figure it will serve as a good baseline to see where I am and I think (hope) it will make me more excited about continued tri training.

And now I have race registration on the brain.  I should probably be careful or my credit card will be getting quite the workout.

Two Weeks in Review - 5/1-5/14

When I went to write this week's review, I realized that I forgot to do this last week.  I guess that's what happens when you go out of town for a few days. ;)  I also apparently forgot to take photos over the last two weeks.  I apologize in advance for how boring this post is.

Sunday - May 1
Broad Street Run (10 miles) - 1:28.17
This race didn't go exactly as I had planned, but I'm glad that despite my ill-advised too fast start, I still managed to meet my goal and PR by six minutes.  You can read my full race recap for all the details.

Monday - May 2
Run 3.0 mi
This run may have been somewhat ill-advised.  I had thought about taking the day off, but on the way home from work I decided I wanted to do something.  My gym is always super packed in the evenings so I decided a short, easy run would be fine.  I went slowly, but my legs never really loosened up like I hoped that they would.

Tuesday - May 3
Elliptical - 35 min
After Monday's run, I decided a few days of cross training were a good idea.

Wednesday - May 4
Elliptical - 40 min

Thursday - May 5
Run 4.45 mi
I left on Wednesday night to head to my friend G's house to spend some time with her before her wedding.  I did this run with another friend, K, who is significantly faster than me.  She kept insisting that I would probably leave her behind because she typically only does 3 mile runs.  I wasn't shocked when that didn't happen.  This also happened to be my fasted average pace run in a while.

Friday - May 6
Run 3.83 mi
Another pre-wedding run, this time without K who wanted to run at her normal pace (and not slow it down to run with me).  That was fine with me since Thursday's run was more like a tempo effort for me!

Saturday - May 7
Dancing counts as cardio, right?

Sunday - May 8

Monday - May 9
Run 4.14 mi

Tuesday - May 10
Run 6.0 mi
Monday's run felt perfectly normal, which is why the pain I felt on Tuesday night came as a big surprise.  Unfortunately since I was running home from work I couldn't really cut it short, but I did take several stretch and walk breaks.  My calves were extremely tight and I also had some sharp pain in my left knee.  The knee pain was totally different from the IT band tightness that I have occasionally and not the same as what I felt when I was having some knee pain on the bike.  I was pretty concerned by the time I got home and decided to take off a few days from running.  I was hoping that it was from more time in high heels that normal (due to all the wedding festivities) or the fact that I did three runs in a row in my older shoes (I rotate two pairs and accidentally ended up wearing the older ones three straight runs - I was planning to replace them at the end of the month, so this was probably a factor).

Wednesday - May 11
Swim - 2550 yds
I finally got myself to the pool in the morning!  Big win! :)  I had been thinking about it for weeks but was worried that I would get there and it would be really crowded or that I would have bad morning practice flashbacks from my years of swim team.  Fortunately neither of those happened and I had a good swim.  Hopefully I can keep this up!

Thursday - May 12
Bike - 11.67 mi
Keeping up with my trend of new things, I decided it was finally time to ride my bike in the morning.  It wasn't the best ride, but I got it done.  I realized afterwards that I hadn't been on my bike in over two weeks, so that I was probably the biggest reason for my awkwardness.

Friday - May 13
Bike - 12.11 mi
After reading Amy's post about overcoming bike fear, I decided the best way to get over mine (and my general bike awkwardness) was to keep trying.  I also saw rain in the forecast for Saturday-Thursday, so I figured that I might as well ride while it was dry.  I felt a lot better than I did on Thursday.

Saturday - May 14
Run 9.0 mi
After three days off, I decided it was time to test out the knee.  I didn't have a set plan, but figured I would just turn around at any sign of trouble.  Fortunately there was only a bit of tightness at the beginning (but none of the sharp pain) and it loosened up nicely a mile or two in. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I haven't been posting recently because I am still catching up from my weekend.  I left town last Wednesday to spend a few days with my friend G (and a few of our other friends) and then attend her wedding on Saturday.  The food was incredible, which unfortunately means that I won't be able to eat any frozen or takeout Indian food for a while without being disappointed.  The highlight was definitely was definitely the naan that we got straight out of the clay oven.  A carb lover's dream!  Congratulations and best wishes to G & C who occasionally stop by and read this blog (and are currently honeymooning in Hawaii)!

2. On top of the distraction of all of the wedding related festivities, I haven't been feeling too motivated since Broad Street.  I've been doing shorter runs and some cross training, but it hasn't been too exciting or anything to write about.  My legs have also felt pretty beat up and seem to be taking longer to recover than I expected.  The legs aren't a major issue since my next race isn't for a month, but the lack of motivation is slightly concerning.  Which leads me to my current dilemma:

3. Tri or not to Tri?  I've been talking/thinking about a tri for a while and have worked on adding biking and swimming into my routine.  But I have yet to actually register for a race.  Now I'm trying to decide if signing up for a race will rejuvenate my interest and bring back my motivation or if maybe I'm just not all that interested and should stick with running this summer.  I just don't feel as excited about fitting in all the different disciplines as I would like to be.  I'm sure part of that is because I still feel pretty awkward and uncomfortable on my bike.  Ultimately, I do all of this for fun, so I don't want to commit to anything that will making working out feel too much like a chore.  And yes, I do realize that I'm only talking about a sprint tri and could probably complete it with a run-dominated training schedule.  What would you do?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Broad Street Run Race Report

I signed up for the Broad Street Run because one of my friends who lives in Philly raved about it and was going to run it as well.  Unfortunately, her training was derailed by injury and she wasn't able to run.  I was disappointed, but figured I have run plenty of races by myself before, so I wasn't going to let that stop me.  I found out that another friend's sister, Katie, was running and contacted her to see if she wanted to try to meet up before and after the race.  Not only was she interested in meeting up, she offered to let me stay with her as well.  I jumped on the opportunity since not only would it be easier not to have to find her in the crowds, she is a local who has run the race several times before and knew all of the logistics.  And, more importantly, she's a lot of fun to hang out with!

I got up bright and early on Saturday morning to head up to the expo.  All week I had been getting emails from the race warning that 11-1 was the "danger zone" at the expo.  There was a Phillies game starting at 1:00 across the street and race organizers were encouraging everyone to come to the expo on Friday or early on Saturday.  I was cruising along and on target to get to the expo around 10 when I hit a major traffic jam right after crossing the Pennsylvania border.  This was right about the time that I was also realizing that I really needed a bathroom.  Good hydration + road trip = major discomfort.  I pulled into the expo parking lot a little after 10:30 and sprinted to the closest restroom!  Fortunately I got there when I did, I'm not sure how much longer my bladder could have lasted.

The expo was not nearly as crowded as I expected.  I guess people actually listed to the recommendations to stay away in the middle of the day on Saturday.  I managed to grab Katie's and my numbers and shirts without having to wait long at all.  When I first walked in I noticed that the volunteers were wearing pretty turquoise shirts, so I was a bit disappointed when I picked up our race shirts and they were school bus yellow.  I guess I should have paid the extra $20 to upgrade to a tech shirt since they were a nice light blue.  After grabbing our stuff I made sure to check out all of the vendors.  Fortunately, I walked away without too much damage to my credit card, but I did get some new shorts and a sports bra (both 50% off) and a fun headband.

cows and pigs!

view of the city when I left the expo

On Sunday morning, Katie and I (and her other friend who stayed with us) were up bright and early.  Because of my paranoia about getting to the start with plenty of time (and with memories of National Half Marathon transportation stories fresh in my head), I insisted that we catch an earlier train that they had initially planned.  I was nervous that the train might be too crowded to get on since we weren't getting on at the first stop, where the free race parking was located.  It was crowded, but we managed to squeeze on and were at the start with plenty of time to spare.  Another advantage of hanging out with Katie for the weekend?  Her good friend lived around the corner from the start area and graciously allowed us to use her bathroom.  It's always a bonus to avoid the porta potties!

Right before the race start, Katie and her friend and I made plans for finding each other at the end and split up to head to our separate corrals.  As I said in my goal post, my plan was to start around 9:00 minute miles and drop the pace from there.  I figured that it would be so crowded that I wouldn't be able to go much faster at the start, even if I tried.  Well, it turned out that was not the case.  I definitely had to do some weaving, but the street was wide enough that I never really had to slow down to get around people or felt like I couldn't run the pace that I wanted.  This was a good and bad thing for me.  I got sucked into running what felt like a comfortable pace at the time, but was much faster than I had planned.   Despite the rolling hills, I was running 8:25-8:30 pace for the first four miles.

By mile 5, I knew I had gone out too fast.  Those sub 8:30s weren't coming as easily and my pace starting creeping up towards 9:00.  I ate some Honey Stinger chews at this point and hoped that maybe they would give me a burst of energy.  I felt a bit better but never returned to my early pace.  I also got a boost from the large crowd when we went around city hall right before mile 6, but it didn't last long.

At this point it was also getting pretty hot.  The sun was out in full force and I could tell that wasn't used to running in warmer temperatures.  I'm glad that I decided to carry my handheld because despite the fact that the race never felt crowded, the water stations looked like they were.  I also feel like I get more water when I'm carrying it myself and not attempting to drink from a cup.

From miles 6-9, I just tried to keep moving.  My pace was over 9:00 and I was doing my best not to slow down any further.  I had studied the course elevation profile and it seemed like this stretch was going to be flat or slightly downhill.  Unfortunately, it never felt like that and at points almost seemed like there was a slight uphill.  That rewarding stretch of downhill that I was waiting for never appeared.  During this stretch I was definitely cursing my fast start and inability to stick to my race strategy.  I knew that one of my friends would be watching somewhere near the 9 mile mark so I tried to focus on getting to her.  Around mile 8, I started to have a weird pain in the back of my upper right calf.  It felt like it was about to cramp up.  I was mildly tempted to stop and stretch it, but I figured that stopping would probably make things worse so I kept going.  Fortunately it never actually cramped and the pain went away eventually.

After seeing my friend a little after mile 9, I knew I was almost there.  Normally at this point I would try to pick up the pace, but I just had nothing in my legs.  There was finally a significant downhill as we came to the Navy Yard gates and then it was just .25 to the finish.  I was trying to kick it in, but I can't say that was all that successful.

Final time - 1:28:17

The post-race area was well managed and I was get my medal and food (already in a bag, not sure why more races don't do this) without having to wait around or even stop walking.  I reunited with Katie who also got her goal time! 
While I made my A goal, I couldn't help feeling a bit disappointed when I finished.  Even when the race got tough in the second half, I had no doubt that I was going to run sub-1:30.  But I know that if I had run a smarter race I could have done better.  At the half I was on pace for a 1:25.  I think with a more conservative start I might not have run a 1:25, but I would have been faster.  It's possible that I might have even run the same time (more or less), but I know I would have felt a lot better about it.

Now that I have had a few days to reflect, I'm thrilled with my time and determined to use my disappointment about how I ran the race as motivation to work harder.  I know that I could have run a smarter race, but now I have things to work on for next time.  And if I run enough races where I make this same "fast start" mistake (and there have been a number of them!), I will eventually stop doing it.  At least that's my hope!

All in all, it was a great weekend and I came away impressed by the race.  I was pleasantly surprised that despite the number of people running, I never felt like it was too crowded.  I had more traffic jam issues with the National Half Marathon which was a smaller field.  I would definitely run it again if I can get in before it sells out.  If I go back, I'm going to be smarter in the first half and mentally prepared for the 2nd half of the course (which wasn't as flat/downhill as I expected)!

Now I'm also even more excited to run through the city again during the Philadelphia Marathon in November!

Monday, May 2, 2011

April Recap

Miles: 93.86

X-Training: 12 (Bike - 3, Stationary Bike - 1, Elliptical - 4, Swimming - 4)

Rest Days: 3

Race(s): Crystal City 5k - 23:34 (new 5k PR!)

New gear: I finally got a pair of Nike Tempo shorts.  I'm not sure what took me so long, but I guess now I can finally call myself a runner. ;-)

Workout goals: 
Yoga once a week - FAIL.  I just haven't felt like going recently so I haven't put in the effort to make it to a class

Biking and swimming at least 3 times (each) - Done. I made it out on the bike 3x and to the pool 4x
Register for a a triathlon. Not done. I was a hesitant after my knee was bothering me on the bike, so I've been waiting to see how it does for a little while before committing to anything.
Keep up a good running base while training without a specific plan - Done.  April ended up being a pretty decent month for me, mileage-wise
Non-workout goal: Clean up the clutter in my apartment.  Once again I failed to work on this.  I think I may need to focus on something else for a while.

Ice cream flavor of the month: None.  For some reason I ate hardly any ice cream this month.  I don't know what happened, but I believe it is called "Easter candy"

April was a good month for cross (triathlon) training.  I managed to stick to my plan of swimming once a week and also took my bike out three out of four Sundays.  I know that if I want to improve (or even just feel comfortable) on the bike, I'm going to have to start fitting in time to ride during the week as well.  On the running front, I was preparing for the Broad Street Run and also ran a 5k at the last minute.  I knew I had some room to improve my 5k time, but shocked myself with the actual results!

May Preview

Workout goals:  Swim once a week
                            Bike more than four times
                            Get back to the track/speedwork to prep for a 10k in June
                            Similar running mileage to April, even though I have no longer races anytime soon
Races: Broad Street Run on May 1 (recap coming soon)

Non-workout goal: Weed out and donate those winter clothes that I don't really wear and get the rest of them put away for the summer. (Still on the clutter theme, but maybe if I'm more specific I can actually get something done!)