Where I've Been and Hope To Be

Where I've Been and Hope To Be

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pre-race Jinxes

Each and every time I have had a big race this year something has happened right before the race to throw me way off.  Not kidding.  What started out very annoying and upsetting has become comical.  Here's what I mean:

Kinetic Sprint Triathlon - Lil Buddy stayed up ALL NIGHT screaming and I got about an hour of sleep.  He was super cute at first, but then it was just not funny at all.  Hubby and I got into a huge fight about how to deal with the baby, so it was screaming all around.  Not the best lead in to my very first big race.

Rock Hall Sprint Triathlon - I wound up sick for 3 of the 4 weeks leading up to the race.  First it was a stomach flu, then a regular run of the mill cold/flu thing with congestion, coughing, etc.  Missed a lot of training and mentally felt very unprepared.

Tri the Wildwoods Sprint - During the Crystal City Twilighter 5K I aggravated my plantar fasciitis and so my foot bothered me leading up to the Wildwoods.  But I was pretty familiar with the pain and was ready to suffer through it.  Completely unrelated, however, a week prior to this race I had to have a root canal.  Oh well, no big deal right?  Except that I got an infection and the morning of packet pick up I found myself in New Jersey, away from any doctors or dentists I know, in so much pain I couldn't chew.  The pain pulsed and increased in intensity in waves throughout the morning.  Thankfully I was able to have my dentist call an antibiotic in to the local CVS and I got the pain under control - but not gone - by morning.  Talk about a major mental destroyer.

Nation's Triathlon - I wound up having to switch my registration from the triathlon to the aquabike because by this point my foot was in pretty bad shape and I wasn't supposed to be running.  Ok, fine.  I'll still get to do the swim in the Potomac which is the whole reason I signed up for this event in the first place.  The night before the race there was a major rainstorm, sewage flooded into the river, and the swim was cancelled.  So now I was registered for a VERY expensive bike ride.  Grrrr.

Waterman's Sprint - Early October.  On a course I was familiar with and ready to crush.  So excited for my last triathlon of the year!  Until I saw the forecast for the weekend and learned that it was going to be in the mid 30s for the first time this fall.  This sent me into a total tailspin of triathlon wardrobe panic.  What does one wear to keep warm in the 30s when they first have to get wet, then get on a bike and fly into the wind?  Talk about a mental meltdown.

Rock and Roll Vegas Half Marathon - I forgot my socks.  Not just my favorite running socks that I had trained in, but I forgot to bring socks.  Like no socks.  WTF is wrong with me???

John's Creek Turkey Trot - Read the email wrong and thought the race started at 8:30 instead of 8.  Got to the start line with 4 minutes to spare.

Clearly, I don't ease into race situations gracefully.  Some of the anxiety is created by my carelessness but much of it has been completely out of my control.  I can do a much better job of double and triple checking race start times and packet pickup directions.  But there's not a whole lot I can do to control the external jinxes that seem to find me before each race.

What I can tell you is that despite this absurdity, I have performed well this year.  I'm really proud of the way I raced in all but one race.  And that was Tri the Wildwoods where I let my head get the better of me.  And I knew it when it happened and I checked out anyway.  But I have learned from each of these experiences.  If I put the work in before race day with my training, then it doesn't matter much what ridiculous bump gets thrown in my path because I can just roll over the bump and crush it.  This is the lesson I look forward to taking into 2015.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Race Report: Decesaris Prout Jingle Bell 5K

It's been a while since I've run a 5K race.  I think it's fair to say that this is the first time I have RACED a 5K.  The distinction was lost on me until this race and I learned a bit about myself and about racing because of it.

This is the third year of the Decesaris Prout Jingle Bell 5K, held at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, MD.  Decesaris prout raises money for lung cancer research.  I ran with Hubby and the kids the first two years but this year Hubby was rehabbing a strained calf and Big T had baseball practice, so Big N and I were in it to win it together.  We all trekked down to Annapolis the night before to pick up our packets and enjoy the Bay of Lights holiday light display at Sandy Point State Park. (Save your money - I thought it was pretty lame).

Race morning I had pretty strong race jitters despite this being "only" a 5K and one that I've run twice before.  It's a low key casual event with plenty of Christmas themed costumes and jingle bells for your shoes.  Big N and I opted to leave the bells at home.  We learned the hard way last year that the extra weight of the bells helps your shoelaces work themselves loose which causes the bells to go flying from your shoe causing a treacherous obstacle underfoot.  I was not adding that nightmare to my race plan again.  Despite my best intentions to leave at 7:30 am, we rolled out at 8:15 for a 40 minute drive to a 9 am start.  Oops.  Cutting it ridiculously close.
Pre-race trying to stay warm

As I left the house I told Hubby how nervous I was feeling.  I had two goals for this race.  The first was to shave as much time off of my 5K personal record as possible.  The second was to run it in under 30 minutes.  This was the harder of the two goals.  My previous PR was back in August when I ran a 5K in 31:52.  And that was a huge accomplishment at the time.  I was pretty confident I could run faster than that, but to shave all the way down to below 30 would be a huge push.  My coach had sent me an email about a week prior to the race telling me he thought I could go sub 30. I read it and laughed.  No way could I run that fast.  But the more time I had to think about it the more I thought it might actually be possible.  By race morning I knew I was going to go for it but was really nervous about making it happen.  Hubby told me to just go out there and race the race.

Race it.  Huh.  Race a 5K?  Instead of just run it?  Implement racing strategies?  Actually put thought into how I exert the effort?  Not just go all out and collapse at the end and see where I land?  Or the reverse, not go out at a steady but conservative pace to make sure I finish the damn thing?

What I had not considered was that I have gained a lot of running fitness since previous 5Ks.  And I don't mean just speed, but actual fitness.  Running 3.1 miles used to be the challenge in and of itself for me.  My previous 5K goal was run the whole thing without walking.  But I've run a ton more miles than that in recent months and 3.1 is very doable for me now.  Finally I have built up the fitness to consider pacing and racing and pushing the speed on the distance without worry that I can't actually finish the distance.  It hit me like a ton of bricks that I could actually race this thing.

In fact, it didn't even really sink in until about a third of the way into the race.  We did get there in plenty of time and did a little warming up and a last bathroom break before lining up in the front of the pack.  Despite it being a small race, there are lots of kids at this race every year as well as casual runners that run side by side and enjoy each other's conversation along the way.  The route is on a very narrow trail through the woods and I wanted to be in front of as many of the causal runners as possible so I didn't lose time weaving and waiting.

The air horn went off and I took off at a solid but aggressive pace.  I wanted to really get going and then reign it back in a bit if needed.  I quickly realized that I was running at a sub 10 minute mile pace and felt good.  I was nervous because this is pretty fast for me (I've never maintained that speed over the course of a full mile I don't think) and I didn't wat to go out too fast and blow up like I did over the summer at the Crystal City Twilighter 5K.  However I knew that I was in much better shape now.  And it didn't feel too fast, it felt strong but comfortable.  I made sure to keep my cadence high and just kept pushing forward focusing on my form and foot placement.

All of a sudden I realized I was at the halfway mark of the race.  Uh, how did this water station get here so fast?  One of the benefits of racing the same race year after year is that I have become very familiar with the route and the organization.  I knew from previous years that the one water station is at the halfway mark just after the trail crosses the main road into the park.  While I remember relief at reaching that point the last 2 years, this time it was a pleasant surprise that it came up so quickly.  It felt like a completely different race.  What a different perspective it is when running faster!  I felt pretty confident that I could maintain my pace for the rest of the race.  I had some doubts and was worried that mile 3 could fall apart, but I told my brain to shut up and legs to keep moving forward.  I figured if I blew up I blew up, but if I played it conservatively I might save more energy than necessary and I'd never know what could have been.  So onward I went at a sub 10 minute/mile pace.

The end of the route has a few small hills that seem like mountains by the time you reach them.  The route also brings you back within sight of the finish line even though there is still a quarter of a mile to weave on the trail.  It's almost not fair - you can see the finish line, but know that there is still a short stretch of punishment ahead.  At this point I was frantically looking at my watch.  I knew coming in under 30 minutes was going to be close.  I was tempted to just slow up and ease the pain, but I wouldn't let myself.  I knew that I was close enough to finish on sheer willpower if I had to.  I kept my foot cadence high and plowed forward up the last hill.

Finally I approached the last turnaround.  My watch had me at 29:40.  I had 19 seconds to get to the balloon arch finish line.  I didn't think it was possible.  In fact, I was pretty sure it was impossible.  But I literally said "fuck it" to myself and turned on the after burners.  I blew past a narrow line of women ahead of me and went full speed at those balloons.  Another woman did the same.  We were hauling with everything we had at that finish line.  I threw myself over it and stopped my watch.......

The watch said 30:09.  Oh god oh god please tell me that the chip time is faster.  Please tell me I started my watch a bit too early and that I actually came in 10 seconds faster.  It's so close it's so close.......

Nope.  My chip time was 30:06.  Daggers!  It was a great PR and 3 consecutive miles under a 10 minute pace.  Both of those things are awesome accomplishments alone.  But to be that close and miss it.....  Looking back on the race I cannot think of a single moment where I let off the gas and blew it.  Could I have run 7 seconds faster somewhere?  Probably.  But there is no spot in the race that I can specifically identify as a place where I could have picked it up and didn't.  I never took it easy or got lazy.  I pushed and pushed.

This guy ran the race in this tree costume complete with gifts on his feet

This is what I mean by racing instead of running.  I kept a close eye on my pace and my cadence.  I paid close attention to my breathing and perceived heart rate.  And I made sure that I didn't let up on the gas at all.  And in the end when I desperately wanted to quit I pushed harder and gave it everything I had.  Despite being bummed that I came so close to running under 30, I am really proud of this race.  The first year I ran it I was pregnant and lumped through it in 40:39.6.  Last year I was post baby but still nursing and still WAY out of shape and struggled through in 35:35.  So things are looking up if I continue to shave 5 minutes off of my time each year - haha!  In all seriousness, it's nice to have a race that I run every year that I can use as a measure of my progress.

It's also great to see the kids pushing at these races.  Big N came screaming into the finish line with all of the effort he could muster and posted a 34:31, a great time for him.  Looking forward to having the whole family back in tow and shedding more time in 2015!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

November Recap

November was a month of running.  I skipped a lot of my other workouts due to a lack of motivation and a need for an offseason.  But I had to get through the Vegas Half first.  So here's how the month shaped out:

Run 46.22 miles.  I thought that was going to be much higher.  Even so, lots and lots of running.  Sometimes I have pretty significant ankle and knee pain after a run, sometimes no pain at all.  I wish I could figure out the pain free formula on a regular basis.   

Bike  70.93miles.  Life back on the trainer in the basement.  Only one outdoor ride this month thanks to early winter.  I'm hoping for a few warm weather surprise days in December.  Also really looking forward to some group spins.

Swim  2.33 miles.  I swam exactly two times in the whole month of November.  Ouch.  Will be swimming a lot more in December.  A lot more.  Already have one good session in the books.    

Races  Rock and Roll Vegas Half Marathon and Johns Creek Turkey Trot 10K

I've been reading a lot of triathlon blogs and books.  Nothing so amazing that I am compelled to share.  Trying to get caught up on TV shows, but that will mostly wait for Hubby's winter break from school.  Lil Buddy is growing like a weed and trying to figure out what the big indoor tree in the living room is all about.  Looking forward to unstructured fun workouts for December.  Yay offseason!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Race Report: John's Creek Turkey Trot 10K

Many months ago when we confirmed that the family would be traveling to Georgia for Thanksgiving I immediately got online and looked for a Turkey Trot to help offset the outrageous food consumption I was already dreaming up.  Hubby wound up finding one for me in John's Creek, Georgia.  It was a little over an hour from his parents house, but only 45 minutes from his brother, so we planned to stay with Hubby's brother Wednesday night, race Thursday morning, and then transfer to the in-laws for Turkey Day and the rest of the weekend.

We got into town on Wednesday after a dreaded 14 hours in the car with 3 kids.  The drive is only 9.5, but with traffic, food, and bathroom breaks it took FOREVER.  We stopped by packet pickup and I grabbed my t-shirt and bib and was back in the car in under 5 minutes.

We had a lovely evening with my brother and sister in law and Lil Buddy was on his absolute best behavior.  I think he would have done anything to charm us out of putting him back in the car.  We went to bed relatively early as we were planning to leave the house at 7 am for a race start of 8:30 am on Thursday morning.

After an hour in his portable crib, Lil Buddy decided to wake up and scream his head off.  We plopped him into bed with us and I made every effort to get a decent night's sleep.  The kid really knows how to throw off my pre-race mojo. 

Thursday morning we were running a few minutes late, but nothing major.  I had packed a decent cushion into our travel time and we were expecting to arrive at 8 - 30 minutes before the start.  Except that I double checked the start time after we had been on the road for about 10 minutes and realized I had read it wrong - the race started at 8!!!  Hubby turned our boring minivan into a sports car and with the complete lack of traffic, we made steady and quick progress.  The only other complication?  My stomach was not happy with me at all and I knew I needed time in a port-o-potty before I got started or else there was no point to starting the race at all.  We made it to the start at 7:54.  Hubby dropped me off and went to look for parking.  I flew over to the port-o-potties and found the line with the most men. (Why do women take so long in a portable toilet?  What is there to do in there??)  Just like that I was in and out and over to the race start.  Turns out with plenty of time to spare.  This race began almost 20 minutes late.

I had left my sweatshirt in the car since I knew I didn't want to race with it.  It was so cold.  Especially for Georgia.  The temps were in the low 30s and I could see my breath as I waited with the other racers.  Finally we got going.  It took a while to get up to speed since the course was pretty crowded in the beginning. 

The race distance options included 5K, 10K, 15K, and Half Marathon.  All of the courses were the same 3.1 mile loop - the longer your chosen distance, the more loops you completed.  So the first loop was really crowded with everyone on the same course.  I settled into a steady pace and tried not to worry too much about time.  However a couple of times in the first half mile I looked down and saw I was running at a sub 10 minute pace.  There was no way that I could have sustained that for the whole 6.2, so I forced myself to slow down a bit and just made sure to stay under 11 minutes a mile as much as possible. 

The weather stayed cold and overcast.  We never got a glimmer of sun.  So I stayed pretty chilled and uncomfortable the entre time.  I run in cold weather all of the time and typically warm up quickly.  But it just wasn't happening this morning.  It was good motivation to keep moving and finish quickly.  This race course had one water station right at the beginning and another about halfway through.  It was plenty of water given the distance of the race.  But otherwise there were no spectators out on the course.  And it ran through an office park so there was nothing decent to look at.  It was just boring.  A good morning jog with friends or family, but I was out there alone and had to just get the mileage done.  It was kind of hilly at times so it was good practice for me since I tend to avoid hills at all costs.

I kept looking for Hubby and Lil Buddy toward the start/finish cheering with the other spectators, but never saw them.  I couldn't figure out where they could have gone.  Turns out Lil Buddy was too cold and was refusing to stay in the borrowed stroller we had with us.  So they spent the entire race staying warm and eating cookies at the grocery store down the street.  Lil Buddy is going to have to get with the program!

Once again, I turned on the burners to come in for a strong finish.  My goal had been to finish in under 1:10 and I did it comfortably with a final chip time of 1:08:04.  Not only did I run the entire thing, but I probably could have pushed it a bit harder.  I just wasn't sure how hard to push this distance without blowing up at the end since it was my first 10K.  My 10K split at the Vegas Half was 1:30, but that included the ridiculous 11 minute bathroom break.  Either way, this was a solid run and I'm really pleased with the outcome.  Gives me hope as well as something to improve upon going into the 2015 triathlon season as I increase my race distance from Sprint to Olympic which requires a 10K run instead of the 5Ks I've been used to.    I'm looking forward to continuing to build a stronger running base so that I don't lose all of my races in the third portion each time.  This race gives me hope that the rest of my off season will help me do just that.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Race Report: Rock an Roll Vegas Half Marathon

Sorry for the delay, but finally I'm getting around to my Vegas race report.  I wish I had written it a bit sooner because I fear I've forgotten some of the details, but I have plenty of pictures, so they can tell the story for me. 
My meals leading up to the race hadn't been particularly smart or well thought out.  I was struggling with enjoying the vacation experience and being race ready.  I did, however, want to bring a peanut butter sandwich with me to the start line so I had familiar food for actual race fuel in addition to the gels I had packed.  Finding a peanut butter sandwich in Vegas is not the easiest task.  But fortunately Johnny Rockets was able to accommodate and we were on our way.

The race was scheduled to start at 4:30, but my wave was expected to cross the start line at 5:20 given the enormous number of people in attendance - somewhere between 35,000 and 40,000.  Even though I didn't have to be ready to run until later, I still wanted to check out the pre-race entertainment and make sure I was in the right place when things started to happen.  So we were down at the race start by 2:30.  After the concert, Angela and I went over to Mandalay Bay to use the bathroom one more time and get some Advil for my beginning headache.  I had already used the port-o-potties twice so I really thought I was in good shape in that regard.  Nope. 
I was back outside and joined my corral in plenty of time.  I was in corral 34.  The road was super crowded and there were plenty of people lined up in the wrong place.  It was kind of a circus.  And it was really difficult to hear the announcements about the waves ahead of us until we got closer to the start line.
Walking to the start line with the strip and race course in the background

The masses back from corral 34 facing the start line way down the road
The weather was colder than I originally planned.  The week prior I had scoped out the temps and was expecting to run in the 50s.  The official start temp was 52, but it felt so much colder.  The dry air trapped no humidity or heat and there was a wind that felt like it was cutting through bone.  I was wearing arm warmers, but they weren't doing much for the very long wait to start.  Almost an hour after getting in my corral I was up at the start ready to go.

Finally the energy of the event was palpable and body heat was keeping everyone warm.  Next thing I knew we were off.  The start takes the runners away from the strip and toward the airport for a brief stretch before turning and heading back into town.  I was fighting a major internal battle about whether or not to stop for photos along the way or take the race more seriously and run it with my goal time as the priority.  Ultimately I wound up in the middle by taking some pics and passing on others.  I really struggled with stopping to take the photo of the welcome sign - I'm glad I did.  I know I would have regretted not getting it.

Welcome to Las Vegas!

Everything is bright and colorful in Vegas
Planet Hollywood in the background.  All of the lights make these pics tricky

The whole idea behind the Rock and Roll Marathon and Half Marathon events is that they have bands and DJs along the route to keep the runners entertained.  It was hard to really pay much attention to the bands and I can't say that they contributed much to my experience.  There is already so much to look at in Vegas and many of the hotels and restaurants already pump loud music into the air.  So the Rock and Roll aspect of this event was kind of lost on me.  Even so, all of the distractions were just that - perfect distractions.  It made the miles tick by faster than they would have otherwise.

Angela was waiting for me to come back by Mandalay Bay.  At this point I was about 2.5 miles in.  It was great to see her familiar face in this sea of strangers and also dump off my arm warmers.  Once I got going I warmed up and definitely didn't need them anymore.  She got some action shots and then I was on my way.

All was going according to plan.  My race plan was to go 10 minute intervals with 8 minutes at a run, 2 at a walk.  In the beginning I was tempted to ignore it and just run until I needed to walk, but in my heart I knew that was stupid for the long term.  So I stuck to the plan from the beginning.  I got a couple of miles in and REALLY had to go to the bathroom again.  The ridiculously long wait to get started completely cancelled out all of my pre-race bathroom trips.  At mile 4.5 I saw a single port-o-potty.  I had no idea how much further up I would next see a bathroom opportunity and the line didn't seem terribly long. After initially passing it, I doubled back and got into line.  Bad idea.  The line took FOREVER.  11 minutes to be exact.  This would come back to haunt me big time in the end.

The other bad news is that once I stopped running and was standing in line I was freezing all over again.  It was a loooooong 11 minutes in every way.  But then I was back in the pack and making my way up the road.  Tried to get a better pic of the Stratosphere, but I just couldn't get it to focus with all of the lights.

Another pic I knew I had to top for was the outside of the pawn shop made famous by the show Pawn Stars.  Hubby and the boys watch the show regularly and I knew they'd get a kick out of a photo from mom.

At approximately mile 7.5 the route heads off the strip and through a small portion of downtown Las Vegas.  There were no flashing lights, no spectators, no aid stations, no DJs or bands, nothing.  For 2 miles.  And when you get to miles 7.5 - 9.5 out of a total of 13.1, this is when you most need the extra support and this was the part of the course that was barren and it was really hard to stay motivated.  My race plan allowed for 7 minutes of running and 3 of walking.  I took advantage of the extra walking for two 10 minute intervals, mostly because it was so boring which, unfortunately, allowed me to focus on body parts that were starting to hurt.

Finally at mile 9.5 it was like coming out of the darkness and back to the party.  The lights started back up and there was an aid station with water and gels.  It was like a breath of fresh air and got me excited to turn back onto the strip and finish this thing off!

I stayed on my interval plan until around mile 11.5.  Then I decided I was going to run the rest of the race.  I was desperate to come in under 3 hours and I knew it was going to be close.  Secretly, I had REALLY hoped that I would be closer to 2.5 hours, but it didn't take long into the race before I realized that 3 was the accurate goal to shoot for.  As I was heading toward the finish there were more and more people that were only walking.  And the race course was incredibly crowded.  I had to spend a significant amount of time and energy fighting my way around people and looking for holes to slip through.  It became fairly frustrating.  And I am no speed demon.  The course was just that packed with people. 

When I had only a tenth of a mile left I turned on my jet burners and my legs churned as fast as I could make them go.  My feet felt like they were barely touching the ground.  In fact, my whole lower body felt disconnected from the top - as if they belonged to someone else.  After completing 13 miles at an average pace of 13:28 a mile (with the running and the walking) I crossed that finish line at a pace of 7:54 a mile.  I had no idea I had that type of speed in me at all, never mind after 13 miles.  It felt awesome to tear it up at the end and finish strong.  I teared up as I finished in a state of disbelief that I actually pulled it off after getting started on my training weeks after I had originally planned.

From the finish line it was to the finisher medals, foil blankets, water, photos, and meeting back up with Angela.  Final chip time: 3:02:46.  Daggers!  Over 3 hours!  Thankfully, I had paused my Garmin watch while I was in line for the bathroom back at mile 4.5.  So I know that my actual running time without the pit stop was 2:51:45.  My official chip time has done nothing but haunt me since the race.  I am so annoyed that it was over 3 hours even if I know why and can document that I ran in under 3.  Silly, I know, but super frustrating to be that close.  Just means I have to run 13.1 again!

My overall experience was positive.  It was a fun atmosphere, Angela was amazing race support, and I had an incredible weekend overall.  But I didn't love the Rock and Roll event itself.  The music didn't really make or break the race for me and was lacking right when the course needed it most.  The size of the race was way to big for me as well.  To get stuck behind a ton of walkers when I was trying to run was difficult.  Additionally, because the R&R events tend to draw a lot of new racers, they aren't necessarily familiar with race etiquette like moving over to the side when taking a walk break to make way for people still running.  It just created some frustrating moments that are so easily avoidable.  But I would do the one in DC since it's local and I wouldn't have to travel for it.  And I'll definitely do 13.1 again.  I need redemption and a race without such a long bathroom break!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Viva Las Vegas

Traveling to a fun destination like Vegas to run a half marathon is something that other people do.  People with fun money to blow and less responsibility.  Never in a million years did I think that I would get to do something so fun and so indulgent.  But with some begging, support from Hubby, and careful planning, I was able to enjoy this amazing weekend.

The Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon and 1/2 is particularly unique in that it is held on Sunday night.  The idea is to run up and down the strip in the dark to thoroughly enjoy the lights and the full spectacle that is Vegas.  I flew in on Friday so that I could maximize the weekend but also so that I wasn't traveling and wearing myself out the day before the race.  My bestie from high school, Angela, met me and we began our girls weekend.

We stayed at Bally's which is right in the center of the action.  I forgot how great the people watching is and got some good action in while waiting for her to arrive.  I had been to Vegas once before a number of years ago under very different circumstances.  While I was in town this time for a 13.1 mile racecation, last time I was there to PARTY and party I did.  Vegas looks and smells a whole lot different when you are sober and a reformed smoker.  But there is plenty to enjoy no matter your perspective.  When Angela arrived we grabbed some dinner and then headed to the room and to bed.  It was late and we wanted to get a full day in on Saturday.

Saturday we slept in.  Like really slept in.  I cannot tell you the last time I stayed in bed until 10 am.  And it was 10 am Vegas time which is 1 pm my time.  It was GLORIOUS.  No screaming toddler wake up call, no breakfast to make, no appointments or activities to be at.  Nothing.  Such a treat.  When we finally did get out of bed we headed to the hotel gym for quick runs and then after a shower to the buffet brunch at Paris.  I love a good buffet.  It is always so much fun to try a bunch of random stuff at one meal and this one did not disappoint.  It wasn't exactly my typical day before race meal, but since the race was Sunday night I had some extra time to digest and get my stomach under control.

After we ate it was time to head out to the Las Vegas Convention Center for packet pickup.  We took the monorail and enjoyed the views of the city.

The convention center was packed.  So many people were swarming the place picking up bib numbers and tshirts as well as shopping the many vendors of the expo.  In addition to picking up my race gear I was on a mission to find a vendor selling Swiftwick socks.  Of all the things to forget at home, I forgot my favorite socks which are the ones I have been training with.  The last thing I wanted was a blister from the run and not having the right socks was throwing me for a loop.  At long last, as we were about to give up hope and leave, tucked away in the corner I spotted a lonely booth with my socks!  Thank the running gods I bought 2 pairs.

From the expo we made our way back to Bally's and to dinner and a show.  I've wanted to try BLT Steakhouse for ages and there was one right in our hotel.  We indulged in delicious soup, popovers, steak (salmon for Angela), parsnips, and stuffed mushrooms.  We would have crammed dessert in too if we weren't running late for the show.  Again, not my typical pre-race dinner, but what the hell, you only live once! (All of this eating came back to haunt me a bit).

We bought half price tickets for the show Jubilee, also in our hotel.  It's a traditional show girl show with singing and dancing and the girls in wild feathered outfits and enormous headdresses.  Both Angela and I would have died for one of the headdresses.  They were too cool.  The show was entertaining, but not fantastic.  All of the dancers were incredibly subdued - almost as if the entire cast was on valium.  But it was a fun way to spend the night out without traipsing all over the city and wearing out my legs before I needed them to run.  Mostly though, it didn't matter what we were doing because it was so great to get caught up and laugh after not seeing each other in a year.

Sunday.  Race day.  Once I was up and awake (again after a decent late sleep) I started to get nervous.  What the hell was I about to do?  Run 13.1 miles after my longest training run was only 9.5 and fairly miserable toward the end?  Insane!  We found a good carb filled breakfast and I filled up my stomach early in the day so I didn't have to eat a ton later.  It didn't matter - I really couldn't eat much later in the day anyway.  We took our time getting ready and headed toward the start line on the monorail.  It was fairly easy to find our way since half of Vegas was headed in the same direction.  Somewhere between 35,000 and 40,000 people took place in this run and that doesn't include all of the family and friends that were there as spectators.

Pre-race entertainment included an hour long concert by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.  We hung out listening to the music and chatting with a woman from Illinois that was there to run.  I had been worried about being properly hydrated in such a dry climate especially after a five hour flight.  So since Friday night I had been chugging insane amounts of water loaded with my Skratch electrolyte mix.  And I had not needed to go to the bathroom nearly as often as I thought I should.  This made me even more nervous about being properly hydrated.  Well the floodgates opened when we got to the concert site and I spent a fair amount of that time in line for the portopotties.  All of my fluid intake also came back to haunt me during the race.

I also started to get a minor headache while we were waiting for things to get started.  I decided it was not going to get better while running so we scooted over to Mandalay Bay to buy some Advil in the gift shop and make one more trip to the bathroom.  Then back to get in my corral and get ready for the race start.

I'm going to save the actual race for it's own race report because otherwise this would become the longest blog post in Vegas history.  But rest assured the race happened and I finished.  Then back to the hotel to shower and get warm.  After changing we headed to a burger restaurant in the hotel and ate soft pretzels, brisket chili, and I had an enormous burger.  There was not enough food in the place.  And I was hobbling around like a crippled octogenarian.  In the middle of dinner I got a crazy hamstring cramp and had to stick my foot on the back of Angela's chair to stretch it out.  I'm sure I looked like an insane Cirque du Soleil wannabe.  But this meal may have been my favorite part of the weekend.  There was something so relaxed and comfortable about the meal and, of course, Angela's company.

Monday morning I could move better than I expected and after Angela left for the airport I wandered down to Hard Rock Cafe to get my traditional t-shirt souvenirs for all of the boys at home.  Then off to the airport where I purposefully went to the wrong terminal so that I could get a pedicure and foot massage.  At this point I was hobbling significantly enough that an airline employee asked if I needed a wheelchair.  Nope, just younger joints, but thanks.  The pedicure went a long way to relaxing my aching feet and then I was on the plane, home, and back to the grind of normal life.

This weekend was just what the doctor ordered.  It was amazing to actually taste my food for the first time in a while instead of shoveling it down as quickly as possible before a screaming toddler climbed into my lap.  It was nice to take care of me on my time instead of fitting my stuff in between everyone else's schedule.  And best of all, I got to hang out with and catch up with my best girl Angela.  She is so much fun and better than any therapist.  She lets me dump my crap but doesn't let me wallow in it.  AND she was great about deferring to what I needed for the race.  She totally got it when I didn't want to traipse all over town and kill my legs the day before the run.  Good good stuff.  I don't know when I'll get another trip like this, but I highly recommend it.  In the meantime, Elvis has left the building!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

October Recap

Yes, I realize November is half over and I'm just getting around to recapping October.  I've been very busy at work lately and still haven't managed to convince anyone to let me become a pro triathlete at the ripe old age of 39 and after only one year of racing.  So the day job still takes priority at times.  Boo day job. 

I also just haven't been super fired up about training or blogging lately.  I've hit a motivation rut.  And like any good motivation rut, it was well timed to coincide with the onslaught of Halloween candy.  Let the feeding frenzy commence!  So I've been doing what I need to do to not slip backward, but not a whole lot to keep forward momentum.  Hopefully I'll get fired up again soon.  In the meantime, here is a very brief look at October.

Run 54.21 miles.  Say what!?!  I only ran 13 miles last month.  I knew my running had ramped up, but I've never seen a number like that before.  I'm actually starting to feel like a bit of a real runner which is nice.  I know that if I can continue to get my running endurance and speed up over the winter my triathlons are going to look a lot different next year.  Half Marathon in Vegas this Sunday!!  So excited!   

Bike  106.32 miles.  I knew it would be down from last month with the Century and training, but I also missed a lot of bike workouts this month.  In fact, running was the only sport that got the attention it deserved this month.  When life interrupts training choices get made.  I'm just glad I was still up over 100.  Not likely for November.   

Swim  4.3 miles.  Swimming took the biggest hit in October and is taking an even bigger hit in November.  It has been really hard to find the motivation to get my swim workouts in.  It doesn't help that I have to either go at 5:30 am or arrange for a babysitter in the evening while Hubby is at football practice.  This should swing back up in the next couple of weeks as football winds down.   

Races  Waterman's Sprint Triathlon

I'm going to cut it short this month.  I'm tired and in bed as I write this.  All before 9 pm on a Wednesday.  I'm afraid my dear friend Angela isn't going to recognize this exhausted homebody in Vegas this weekend.