Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Irongirl Duathlon Race Report

All I can say is, Wow, the body is capable of amazing things!  I have previously written about my struggles to recover and have a decent run after my 70.3 in July as well as the everyday fatigue and sleeplessness that has been plaguing me.  (Read those posts here, here, and here.)  I was amazed last weekend to pull out a 10K PR even though I was running with the stroller.  After this weekend, I am even more amazed!

I completed the Bloomington Irongirl Duathlon at a pace I would have expected to had I been training!

My friend Traci and I  had a great girls weekend based around this race.  We chose to stay in Bloomington both Friday and Saturday nights and really have some quality girl time!

Friday night we went to Parma 8200 and enjoyed a delicious Italian dinner.  I had the gnocchi.  I really love gnocchi.  Following dinner, we went back to the hotel and enjoyed a few more glasses of wine at the hotel bar. 

Saturday morning, we were happy that we hadn't drank any more wine than we did!  Both of us were just a little sluggish that morning! 

We picked up our packets, browsed the expo, then went to lunch.  It was nice to not have anything on the agenda, no husbands, and no kids.  I had been wanting to visit Gear West Bike and Triathlon for a while and since we had time, we did!  I purchased a new bike computer to replace the one I lost in my last triathlon and some Honey Stinger waffles (yum!).  We then visited their run/ski/soccer/ side of the building where I bought a headband (my bangs had been driving me nuts all day) and a long-sleeve shirt to wear for the race (all I had packed was a sleeveless shirt).   We also visited their casual clothing store, but I didn't buy anything there. 

After our short shopping excursion, we went back to the hotel, got our race gear ready and had a supper at the hotel restaurant.  We went back to the room with the intention of getting to bed early, but the TV sucked us in and we didn't turn it off until after 10pm.  It didn't really matter, neither one of us slept very well anyway. 

We awoke to the alarm at 4am.  We got ready, picked up our grab-and-go breakfast that was provided by the hotel, and loaded our bags into the car.  After breakfast we walked to the start of the race.  We had found the parking ramp the Irongirl packet said to use and it was only a few blocks closer than our hotel.  It was chilly, but a nice walk. 

We arrived at the transition are at about 5:20am and found our racks.  There weren't very many people there yet so we had a lot of space to choose from.  Then we waited.  Transition was set to close at 7am and our waves didn't start until 7:50 and 7:55.  As cool as it was, there was no way we were going to leave our jackets and pants in transition any earlier than we had to!  We visited the port-a-potties, stood under a tree during a short rain shower, then headed back into transition to drop our warm clothes. 

The worst part of the day was definitely the wait between the close of transition and the start.  I got quite chilly standing around that long, but I knew that once I started running, the extra clothes would just make me too hot. 

By the time my wave started, I was so cold I had my jaw clenched.  It took me a couple hundred yards to relax and just worry about racing.  I loved the run course.  It was one loop around a lake and three-quarters of it was on the bike path through some trees.  It reminded me of high-school cross-country.  I even felt a little stab of the competitiveness I used to feel back them.  It's been so long since I've felt competitive with the other runners.  Usually I just competing against myself and the clock.  It was a cool to feel like I was really racing again. 

The timing mat at the entrance to transition was just a little short of 2 miles by my Garmin (1.94 miles) and I crossed it in 16:46.  The fastest two miles I've run since I don't know when. 

I changed my shoes, put on my helmet, grabbed my bike, and ran out of transition for a T1 time of 2:09.

The bike started with just a little bit of an uphill.  Possibly the worst one of the day, simply because I hadn't been able to build up any speed yet.  Somehow my bike computer, which I had set to read speed, distance, and cadence prior to the race was no longer showing cadence.  Part of my goal for the bike was to maintain a high cadence so I wouldn't trash my legs for the last run.  Instead, I just settled into what I thought felt good. 

Whatever I was doing was working!  I passed a lot of people on the bike.  The only people that passed me (except for one girl that I played leapfrog with the whole second lap) were flying past me!  I was comfortable with my pace, but was once again having problems with my chain slipping and my rear derailleur not shifting correctly.  I was sure I had it in proper working order before the race.  I really need to take it in before I throw it on the trainer for the winter.  The Garmin measured the bike course just slightly long at 22.75 miles, good for 17.1mph!

The thing I hate most about dismounting after the bike is running through transition with my bike shoes on.  I don't know why I bother to try to run.  I seriously think I could walk faster.  Anyway, I re-racked my bike, changed my shoes and took off my helmet, and was off again on the run.  T2 time was 1:57.

The second run felt like I expected.  I felt like I was just plodding along, although I knew I wasn't.  I passed quite a few women that were obviously not used to the dead-legs sensation that comes after the bike.  I wanted to tell them to just run through it, that they were really going faster than they thought, but I was sucking air while wrestling with my own dead legs and didn't have the energy to say anything.  A two mile run at the end isn't really enough for me to get rid of that dead-legs feeling.  I could really feel the after-effects of the bike all the way to the finish.  But as I neared the finish, I knew I was close to the two-hour mark.  A time that I had earlier said would be my ideal time but was not going to be realistic given my recent lack of training. 

Finish time: 1:59:17!  Holy cow!  I am amazed that I had that in me.  I am amazed that I was able to run my two fastest miles in at least six years.  I am amazed that I was able to do that well on the bike leg considering my slight mechanical difficulties and the fact that I hadn't been on my bike in two months! 

I am rejuvenated in spirit to resume more regular training.  My body, however, decided to come down with a nasty cold on Monday and I've spent the last couple days walking around in a fog.  I felt better today, and hope to go out for a nice easy run with Liam in the stroller tomorrow.  Body and mind, please get on the same page!  I am looking forward to enjoying training again soon!

Thanks to Irongirl for putting on an excellent event!  Everything was great from the course, to the volunteers, to the food, etc.  I may not be back every year, but I will definitely be back! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Turkey Day 10K Race Report

First, I want to say thanks for all the kind words and support for my sleeping troubles.  I am happy to report that I got a couple decent nights sleep this week.  The last couple nights I've had trouble again, but at least I had a couple good nights and I feel like I was able to bank some energy for this week. 

Now on to the race report...

I was all ready to wuss out on this one.  Looking at the weather that morning, it was in the 40's and the wind was at 12mph (when we left and it was getting worse).  I had to run with Liam in the stroller if I was going to run.  I first worried that he would be cold, but when we went outside to get in the car, the temperature actually wasn't too bad.  My next problem was running with a jogging stroller in that wind!  I half hoped that I would get to town to pick up my Dad and he would have decided not to run, therefore giving me license to not run as well.  That didn't happen.

Neither one of us said much on the drive to the race.  I think we were both pretty nervous about what was to come.  Dad had originally planned on pushing the stroller the whole way.  I told him I'd run with them and he said that would be okay, that we could take turns pushing the stroller.  What Dad didn't know was that I didn't intend on letting him push the stroller at all.  Dad has a bone marrow condition that has really affected his running ability over the past few years.  He gets tired far easier and at a much slower pace than he would like.  I knew that pushing the stroller on a good day would be hard for him so I decided that I would take it the whole way.  At least I'm used to running with it. 

The race started a few minutes late (it always does) and we were on our way!  I had asked Dad on the way over what pace he hoped to run without the stroller and he had said 10:30-11 minute miles.  (He also walks a minute every mile so this pace includes the walk break.)  I had a run a 5.5 mile run earlier in the week with the stroller at 11-minute pace so I thought that sounded pretty good.  I knew we would run the first mile a little faster, race day adrenaline and all, but I was surprised when we neared the first mile marker to see that my Garmin said we were headed for a 9:45 first mile!  I asked Dad if he was okay with the pace before I told him how fast it was and he said it was fine. 

We did our planned walk at the first mile marker, then resumed running at our previous pace.  We walked for one minute at each mile marker and were able  to maintain  a pace (including the walking) of just over 10:00 per mile.

At our 4-mile break, I told Dad that if I could maintain at least a 10:30 pace for the rest of the race, I would break my PR even with the stroller.  He told me that if he couldn't keep up that I should just go.  At the 5 mile marker he told me to do just that and I did. 

Just after the 5-mile point, the race route turned onto the bike path.  I was going along at a pretty good clip, passing quite a few people, until I got blocked by a group of three people running abreast.  They weren't necessarily running together, they were just all running approximately the same speed and no one was getting ahead very fast.  After about a minute, they parted enough that I had an opening and darted through.  My sixth mile ended up being my second fastest even though I had been slowed down on the path, a 9:50 mile. 

The last couple turns take you away from the lake and into downtown for the finish.  I always hate this finish.  It always seems to be windy, even if the rest of the course wasn't.  And that day, the 15mph winds were coming straight down the street.  Until I hit that corner, I had passing people.  Once I turned into the wind, people started to pull away.  Even as I cranked out my hardest effort, I could only maintain a 10:37 pace. 

Finishing time: 1:02:42. 

Actual distance run according to my Garmin: 6.3 miles.  Assuming this is correct, I was able to maintain under 10-minute miles with the stroller for over 6 miles!  That is definitely my best stroller-running effort yet!

My dad ended up finishing about 20 seconds behind me.  He said he could see me ahead and caught up when I got blocked on the path.  I was glad I hadn't beaten him by too much.  I know he is disappointed in his running speed these days, but I think the fact that he's still out running 10Ks and half-marathons is really impressive! 

Next on the docket?  IronGirl duathlon in Bloomington, MN this weekend.  Should be interesting.  I haven't been on my bike since my last triathlon in July!  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lullaby, and good night...

I've been neglecting my blog over the past couple weeks.  This is supposed to be a fitness/training blog.  Lately, I don't feel very fit, and I haven't been doing much training. (I ran a measly 28.6 miles in August.)  The fatigue that started in August has stayed into September and I'm beginning to be more than mildly annoyed by it.

I went to my primary care physician for a physical, hoping it would be something as easy as an iron deficiency or (slightly more complicated, but still treatable) thyroid problems.  Bloodwork all came back normal.  Good, I know, but part of me wishes there were something obvious that could be fixed. 

For now, the plan is to try to get me sleeping better and see how much that helps.  I can't remember if I've talked about it before, but I don't sleep worth a darn.  When I lay down in bed, I lay awake for 1-3 hours before I fall asleep. I don't have any particular stressor that bothers me.  My mind just keeps going (and going, and going, and going...), often about nothing remotely important.  And then I'm beat the whole next day.

For the most part, I haven't noticed that exercise or diet affect my sleep pattern one way or the other. Although, I have noticed that if I eat too much sugar, I feel hungover. 

I don't watch TV or use the computer immediately before going to bed.  I have my routine, I always read or do a crossword puzzle before trying to sleep.  My doctor suggested warm milk, but I don't even like milk cold.  I think Sleepytime tea tastes like crap.  I've tried listening to soothing music.  I've tried mental relaxation exercises. 

My doctor prescribed a sleep aid for me.  I told him I had reservations about possible habit-forming sleep aids, and that I needed to be able to get up with my son in the middle of the night if necessary.  So he prescribed Rozerem.  It's supposed to work similarly to melatonin, a hormone the body naturally produces that regulates the body's Circadian rhythm.  I took it the first night it was prescribed and woke up dizzy the next morning.  I'm hoping it was just a fluke, but I haven't taken it since due to having things to get done in the mornings.  I am thinking about trying it again tonight.  If I get dizzy again, I'll assume that it's not going to work for me. 

I don't know, maybe it's just part of my SAD like I assumed before.  Maybe I just need to buck up and deal with it, but I've tried that, and so far it's just not working for me.  I have a son I need to play with, races I should be training for, cooking, cleaning, gardening, and a LIFE!  I wish I knew how to dig myself out of this hole. 

Do you have trouble sleeping (regularly or not)?
What's your get-to-sleep routine?
Any other tips or tricks?