Monday, October 27, 2008

Ultraman musings...

Last weekend was alot of long slow distance for me. 2 x 2.5 hours on the bike trainer, 5 hours of riding in the foothills, and 5.5 hours of walk/jog/hiking. Lots of time for me to think about this race.

This race is a biggie for me. It was the start of my ultra-triathlon binge, it is a race that has beaten me three times (the first by clock, 12:44 on the run day. The second by water, a bad swim in bad conditions eliminated me on day 1. The third by sickness... nausea and vomit by mile 30 of the run left me unable to contonue).

This race is an opportunity to catch up with my friends, and a time for me to face the worst of my internal demons. I go into this race filled with hope for a great finish to what has been an exceptional season, and filled with doubt in my ability to beat the clock three days in a row.

The format of the race, 3 days in a row with a 12 hour cutoff each day, is a challenge to me. I tend to do better when I can just keep moving from the start through the finish, the stage race format exposes my nutrition and rest difficulties. The first two days are swimming and biking, and provided conditions are not horribly bad should go rather well. The last day is the run... hot and brutal along a highway through the lava fields. My worst event, in the worst conditions... this is where the rubber meets the road for my 2008 season.

And, that's whats been messing with my head. Can I finish the run in under 12 hours? My training says likely. My head says likely. My heart says I'll give it everyhting I have. The little demons in the back of my head laugh and giggle and tell me there's not a chance. I'm working on ignoring those little guys, and giving it my best shot and no matter what the clock says I will finish and know I did the best I could.

In 5 weeks it will be over and time to rest and recover and to look ahead to miles and miles on the bike... I have just under 5 weeks to shut the demons up and to find that happy place to race from so I can be the best Leslie I can be.

In the end I realize that I am an incredibly lucky girl to be able to go and challenge myself like this in such a beautiful place - surrounded by friends, supported by a hubby who loves and believes in me and by Marsha and Robin who think I'm nuts but love me anyways.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Denver Marathon

Yesterday was the Denver Marathon... really cool course through downtown Denver hitting some nice parks... lots of hills and totally perfect weather. Both Drew and I ran, and then he headed to work for several hours while I did some other training (and whined alot).

Drew had a really good day with an easy 3:08 on very little marathon specific training (he's done a long run of like 1:30 since his 7:20 IMKy marathon)... He's now thinking maybe all that training he did for Boston (he followed a 18 week plan) was a bad idea... Drats. How do I enforce good training patterns when he can go snap off a 3:08?

For me the weekend was good hard. Saturday I split a little firewood, then went down to swim, to pick up my race packet, ran 5, and did a 35 mile bike. Was kinda tired by the end!
Sunday was the marathon. I think the cold I was fighting last week coupled by a good day Saturday made it a good test for running tired.

It went okay, but not really inspiring. I ran 4 minutes, walked 2 minutes from the start (it was a test to see if this strategy works for me). I felt that really slowed me down in the first half of the race, and I didn't feel particularly "fresh" at the end of the race. The soles of my feet were quite sore (ordering yet another new pair of shoes today for the end of the season). It was nice to have the beeping to force my to run in the last 6 miles of the race. My time was 5:45… okay… that gives me a 15 minute "cushion" for the third day of Ultraman but not great. I think I am not fast enough to balance the slowness at the beginning of the race with the running ability at the end.

My strategy for Ultraman is now looking like run easy the first hour (downhill and no sun) and then maybe go for something like run 8 minutes, walk 2 for as long as I can hold the 8 minute run. Then maybe switch to 4 and 2 at the end when I'm really tuckered out… The run day at Ultraman is right on the threshold of my abilties, but I will finish it! Hopefully the clock will be with me and I can be a legal finisher, but even if it is not I want to hobble away from this knowing that I did it as best I could.

For the Rim Rock Run (21 miler through the Colorado National Monument in 3 weeks... An AWESOME race I must recommend to you!) I might test this concept a little with run 4/walk 2 up the first 8 miles of incline, then run 8/walk 2 through the next 10 miles of rolling/slight downhill, and then run the rest (walking only the water stops) as the downhill is steep the last 4.

I'm pretty tired today, and have some foot tenderness I'm not happy with including a bit of facia pain proximal to my left heel. Will ice it this week for sure. This week is pretty easy runs through the week, with a 2 hour hike Sat (and 8-10 hour bike) and a 5 hour hike Sunday (with a 4-5 hour bike) to get some time on my feet but still allow for recovery from last weekend. Next weekend is "running camp" which basically means a high volume running week with very little biking and swimming.

Less than 6 weeks to go for me to Ultraman, and 5 for Drew to qualify at IMAz... 3 more weeks of good focus and then it'll be time to get ready to go play with my friends!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Taking charge...

This is Leslie and I now have the password to edit the blog.... (insert evil laugh here)

I don't know if I'll do any better at updating than Drew, but I'll try... will see if I can throw in at least some update once a week...

It's October now which my big running month, got to get my body ready and my head wrapped around finishing Day 3 of Ultraman in good form. Gorgeous fall aspens and nice weather have helped!

Drew is trying to motivate for Ironman Arizona... he's going to have a great race... I can feel it!

Other than that we're firewood splitting, TV watching, and watching the sunrise as we drive down the hilll to go to work. Days are getting shorter and the "off-season" (December) is just around the corner after we both rock the end of this season...

Keep on runnning...


Hoodoo 500 - Sept 13th

As ya'll know, my big plans are to do the Race Across the West next year, and then RAAM in 2010. So, this season is my last season of Ultra-Tri for awhile… but, I figured it made good sense to jump into a long bike race now and just make sure that this cycling thing is really what I want to commit to.

So, I entered the Hoodoo 500, a 518 mile bike race on a single lap course through Southern Utah. The past two weeks haven't been ideal lead up conditions, with (my favorite local race ever) the 24 Hours of Triathlon (didn’t write a report on it but it was a really good time and an okay race for me) and then a business trip to NYC where I was putting on my first conference… We drove out to Utah Friday morning, got in with just the right amount of time to set up the car, meet my support crew and coach, spin on the bike for a few minutes, eat dinner, and go to the meeting. To set up the car we needed to put my race number all over it, put two yellow flashing lights atop, add a "Bikers ahead" magnetic sign, and oh yeah organize all the food, supplies, coolers, wheels, etc inside.

My crew consisted of my hubby and best supporter, Drew, and a friend of my coach's from Vegas, Larry. This was my first time meeting Larry and he is just great. I found him to be warm and supportive, funny, awake and alert, and just a really kind man. Drew tells me he had some good stories, and as a couple of Civil Engineers they had some good things to talk about as they whiled away the hours of the race in the car. My coach was there supporting another of her people, a really fast and nice guy Urs who went on to finish 2nd. She kept asking if I had any questions, but I reckon I didn’t know enough to know what to ask… I was just ready to get on with the biking! She provided a lot of good tips, and I think she and Larry talked occasionally throughout the race.

I also picked up my ride-along. The "Bow". There is a group of women cyclists who have this bow made of ribbons that travels around the country and goes on bike rides. A few weeks before the race Deb, the co-RD for Hoodoo, had the bow riding with her at the Tour of Utah which is a week long tour on the same course as the Hoodoo. She asked if I would bring the bow with me on the race, and of course I would never turn down the good luck. The bow was attached to my seat post, an fortunately had seen all the course before because I'm afraid on this ride she got a slow tour looking at my bum.

The race started with a neutral 8 miles Saturday morning. Brian (Deb's hubby and co-RD) rode us out and we had the usual morning chatter. Finally we got to the real start and the fast guys just took off. We there was a slight grade and I settled in and tried not to look back to see if I was last. We hit a road ("Hwy 9") that I thought we were supposed to turn on, but it wasn't really the T intersection I expected. The guy ahead of me went straight, I got stopped by a light, and a guy rolled up next to me. I asked if we should turn or go straight and he said in very accented English "go straight". Okay, light changes, we go. A few miles later the other guy is coming back at us. Drats. I call Drew and ask if we should have turned at 9 and he said yes, so quick Uturn, a reminder to myself that this will be a long day, and back we go. Up and down and then psst… Flat tire. DRATS! I'm still a few miles away from where I can meet my crew so I try calling again, no cell service at their end so I leave a message, take a deep breath and change the tire. Repeat a gain slowly. It's a long day. At least I've got the bad luck out of the way now. It's a long day.

Finally meet up with the crew and we settle into the bike race. They give me a walkie talkie, which is kinda cool because as I go up this 3ish mile climb I hear "You are almost at the top. Looking good". I think I like this thing! (Note to self, make a mount for it on my handlebars for the next long race). Go through Colorado City but I don’t see any interesting people there (I was looking… since the town has been in the news a lot recently). Get a nice long flat downhill, and eventually make it to the first CP. I see one other crew a lot, turns out they are the Finnish guys sisters and he speaks very little English (I wonder what he thought about out little getting lost earlier).

After the CP there's a 5ish mile climb and some kids go by in a convertible and throw cheeto's at me. Made me laugh! Michelle has this thing about eating cheetos in long races and I wondered if it was a sign!

The miles pass. Many climbs, most long (20-30 miles) and gradual. Lots of pee breaks. Bryce canyon, gorgeous. I see some racers on occasion, enough to not feel too isolated. I did the first night downhill alone (pretty steep and fast) and we decided from then on my crew would sit behind me on downhills. Scary stuff going that fast without much light. Somewhere in the middle of the night on a long climb I decided to take a nap. An hour in a sleeping bag on the side of the road. I didn’t sleep, but I did rest and it felt good. In the end I'm sure it didn’t hurt me, but I'm not sure it helped. Finally daylight came again and more of the same.

The scenery was absolutely gorgeous. The miles just passed by. I wasn't moving fast but I was really having fun. It was hard to eat solid food, got my gag reflex up, but we tried to get nibbles into me as often as possible. I thought about everything and nothing. This is the best part of the deal for me. I had flashes of good riding, flashes of laziness, and generally just rolled along. Finally we were at the "last" 30 mile climb before a big drop-off and then 85 miles of "easy to downhill" to the finish. The climb was pretty fun for the first 25 miles but then it was dark and I was tired and it got endless. At some point (Saturday I think) my breathing got all weird, I was breathing rapidly and shallowly. It didn’t seem to bother me, but was just strange. On this climb of climbs I would stop and just hang over my handlebars for a minute, then get back on a pedal some more. The guys were following me in the car and would get out and see if I was alright and I was, just pooped. I'd ride. I'd stop. I'd ride some more. Finally to the top and Larry says the next 6 miles are short steep climbs with downhills between. I think I screeched at him "WHAT, I thought I got to go DOWNhill". (The section wasn't actually that bad). I added all the clothes I could and we headed out and then started down a 20 mile 8% grade into a town. I was shivering so bad my front end was shaking, but I was flying down this hill. A couple of deer came across the road and fortunately I was too tired to react. Instead it was more of "huh, glad I missed them".
I thought about stopping when we hit town, I was cold and tired and ready to be done but Larry bounced out of the car in town and said "Great, it's easy from here, take off some of those clothes and lets get going" so I did. It seemed easy and warm, and then 5 miles later I started climbing again. WHAT? That's not easy! The map showed a slight grade but this was not slight. 30 miles took over 3 hours. The last 5ish were downhill and froze me solid. All I could think about was that it was 2am, I was cold and tired, and we had a 9.5 hour drive back home and no one had slept. Stopped at the next turn and I just was done.

So, I called the race a 471 miles (on my bike computer) and 42:08. I learned a lot and I am really excited about the next two seasons when I focus on this bike racing stuff. I am going to go back to Hoodoo next year I thing, with specific time goals in place for the checkpoints, knowledge of the course, and some decent hill training and I'll see about finishing with a good solid time.
This season still holds Ultraman. So, in two weeks I go to Tampa for some long ocean swim training. Then October is running month (200 miles, one marathon, and one big back to back weekend). The November is Ultraman. Finally the monkey will get off of my back!

Thanks for reading my stories… I'm really looking forward to the journey to Annapolis (where RAAM will end in June, 2010) and if you keep reading, I'll take ya along…

Keep the rubber side down and a smile up,