Monday, July 25, 2011

Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay

I better get this down before the hazy memories start fading. It's funny how lack of sleep can affect the memory. Since this was a race I had to travel to, it was really an epic 4 day weekend.

First off, the temperature was pretty close to perfect the whole time. It varied a bit and sometimes you needed a jacket, but I loved the temperature. Second, Washington state is beautiful. Someone mentioned it about every 30 minutes the whole trip. It's so green and it's just beautiful.

We didn't have a lot of time on Thursday, but the single girls from Utah mostly walked around downtown Seattle for a few hours. Pikes Place Market was cool. I had a really, really good sandwich from an Italian shop. Possibly the best thing I ate the whole weekend. Saw a glimpse of the Pioneer Square district. I was sad we didn't have enough time to go on the Underground Tour. I love underground city tours. I'm over it though. Another trip.

It took a long time to get to Whidbey Island. We wanted to take the ferry cause that seemed the touristy thing to do. The line was pretty long so that took about an hour wait and it was only a 15 min ride. I enjoyed all 15 mins. Love boats.

The island is gorgeous. I want a summer house here. Most of our local runners were from the Oak Harbor area. We all met up at a local eatery, Flyers. Excellent burgers, and the sweet potato fries were pretty good too.

It's funny because I hadn't actually met any of the other runners in Van 1 before. We've just talked on the phone or emailed, but I have facebook blurked. As soon as I saw them it felt like I knew them though. I can't say enough about how fun and awesome and generous they all are. They totally opened their homes up to a bunch of strangers and took really good care of us. Did I mention how fun they were too?

Another highlight of the trip was spending time with a long time friend of mine back from my San Diego days. He's a big deal doctor in WA now so I invited him to join the team and he was able to get the time off. Miracle.

I was feeling pretty trashed when I got up Friday morning. I was on the tail end of a sinus infection from allergies and it kind of came back a bit. Plus I had not had enough sleep the past couple of days. The rest of the team was so excited it was contagious and I was just happy.

One of the first teams I saw when we got to the start was the Lord of the Ragnar. They were on my list of teams to look for. They were hard to miss. Full Lord of the Ring costumes (which they totally ran in). They had a bullhorn and used it. Best entrance to a start ever. I think they were a family team. Good for them.

These races are insane. Not only are 12 people going to run 190 total, but most people do it in the most ridiculous get ups. We were team #90, RagStars. Think 80's rock stars. I guess I was more of a groupie. I made my own t-shirt but I never fully got costumed out. I had pink hair and some other stuff, but by the time we finished the race, I was too tired to get into it all. So unlike me.
My first leg was awesome. It was only 2.8 miles up a hill then back down. I was flying on the down side. I glanced down at my Garmin and it said I was doing 7 min miles. I tried to slow down a bit but it was such a small distance that it was too tempting to push on.

We rested at a park thing along a river at Exchange 12 just as the sun was setting. So pretty. My second leg was at night. I also felt pretty good for that one. 7.8 miles total. It was through some city so nothing too exciting but you can't see much anyhow. I was at a pretty good speed still (thank you elevation advantage). There is a stretch for about a mile that is a boardwalk/trail thing right across the bay. You couldn't see much but it was just really cool. I passed a guy right as I got to the trail. Apparently he didn't like getting passed by a girl cause he stayed right on my tail. I'd speed up a little but couldn't shake him so we started up a conversation instead. I dropped my mp3 player about 1/4 mile from the finish so after making sure I was ok, he took off and finally broke away.

At the next major exchange I left everyone in the van and went down to find our last runner. It is really, really dark out there when you get away from the lights. When I tried to find the van I got lost which seems ridiculous now, but was very frustrating at the time. This was at about 2 AM and I hadn't had any sleep yet. The road went down but I remembered parking on a hill so I kept going in circles. My stomach was cramping up too so I was not in a good place physically or emotionally. Also I had forgotten my charger and my phone was about to die. And they people I texted didn't have coverage where they were at. I almost sat down on the side of the parking lot and cried I was so frustrated. And then I walked a little bit farther the next loop and realized the road went down and back up. Teehee. If you don't have at least one break down during the race, you didn't race hard enough.

I think I got 2 hours of sleep before we were up and going again. Sigh. I forced myself to eat a piece of bread and a gogurt. I was going to try eating ginger to settle my stomach this time, but I forgot to pack it. These things can really mess up your digestive system. Fortunately I only get stomach cramps, but still not fun. I didn't fuel really well before or during the race. It's harder when you're away from home. Once you are in deficit, there's no getting back to even. I never got a headache so I was glad for that. I think I hydrated really well at least.

Once I got running on my last leg, the stomach felt better though. My last leg was 4.8 miles but it was harder than I expected. The uphill felt harder than I thought it would be and the downhill didn't matter. I felt stiff and full of cement. I think I was close to my target pace, but it didn't feel as good as the previous 2 legs.

We finished in 28:08:25. I think that may be the fastest I've done any of the relays. It's hard to compare though because they're all different lengths, but with a 9:01 ave pace, I think it was the fastest. We placed 143rd out of 302 registered teams. We were 10th in our division (submasters, mixed). There were only 22 of those teams, but 10th sounds awesome. One advantage to aging is the competition starts dwindling.

People sometimes ask me why I do these races. Especially after hearing about some of the discomforts. Or I get strange looks like they just outright think I'm crazy. To each his own, I guess but long-distance relays have become one of my favorite races. If you are on a fun team anyhow. Here's why I like them so much:
1. The challenge of training and performing something difficult
2. I get to wear costumes and/or act ridiculous and it's ok
3. They are always along beautiful though hilly/mountainy terrain

4. Runners are some of the nicest, coolest, funnest people in the whole world
5. I've met some of my dearest friends and continue to expand my circle of running friends every time I participate (running or volunteering) (it's always fun to run into people I know at every race even when I'm out of state, it's a small world when you are a Ragnarian)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cache Valley Super Sprint Tri

My first triathlon ever was the CVSST. I think that was in 2005? I can't even remember now. I usually do one or two a year now. A couple of weeks ago my friend Candice was like, let's do it, and I was all like, ok. I start sounding like a valley girl when I get spontaneous.

Friday night we all stayed at my parent's in BC. Didn't really get a whole lot of sleep. Whenever the dog has an interuption in her schedule she has to pee at random times of the day and night. Like 2 AM. Wasn't super pleased. Wasn't super pleased at 5:42 when she started licking my face again to go out because the alarm was set for 5:45. Three minutes that early matter. But then at 5:46 when I realized the alarm didn't go off (it was set but not turned on, brils Amy), I was thinking what a good doggy.
I didn't take the address to the start with me cause I knew how to get there. Except there was road construction which took us on a detour. So after a short "lost" period, we finally found the start, get signed in, and set up our stuff.

My final time was 1:33:11. I can't remember exactly what my sprint record was before, but I know that is a PR. The swim was not so good. It was just over 17 min for 500 meters. I realized I haven't been swimming since I broke my shoulder last August, so I can't really have expected to do well, just saying I would have liked to.

My first transition was about 2 min which is pretty good. I swam in my clothes (compression shorts & tri top) so it went faster. I was able to keep my balance and put my socks and bike shoes on. A trick I learned was to fold the socks over half way. Then you just have to put your toes in and pull them on.

The bike was fun. It was only 12.5 miles. Once I adjusted to the transition to the pedaling motion, I started to pick up a little more speed. I averaged about 16.5 mph, which is ok. It was a flat course. I kind of wanted to push a little more but my plantar fascitiis started flaring up. I have suspected I developed it doing spin for 3-4 hours a week in the winter. I believe my suspicions are confirmed. It actually got quite painful at one point. I focused on activating the msucles that support the arch in the foot and it helped.

Also during the bike ride whenever I was about to pass someone I would pretend they were Alberto Contrador and I was one of my favorite cyclists like Mark Cavendash or Thor whats-his-name. It totally helped me push harder. Then if someone passed me I just pretended it was Andy or Frank Schleck and I was ok with it.

Next transition was 1 minute. It went almost perfectly. I was able to do the trick where you take your feet out of your bike shoes (must be attached to clips on the pedals of course) and then you put your feet on the shoes and finish pedaling in on them. The only hick up was when I started running after changing into my totally awesome favorite Zoot tri shoes. One of the volunteers asked me if I was planning to run with my bike helmet on. My bike was next to the fence so I just tossed it over and got running.

Of the 99 women, I finished 35th for the run portion. Not bad. It was just over 27 mins at a 8:41 min/mile pace. Very nice. I was actually surprised I was running that fast. I had stomach cramps for about the first 3/4 mile. There's always a weird transition in the legs between the bike and run. It went away just before the stomach cramps. I think it was the last shot blok I ate just before the end of the bike. I don't think I drank enough water with it. Regardless, I had a good run. I was defintely faster the 2nd lap.

Did I mention I had run about 12 miles the day before? It was my last 3x in 24 hours before I run the Ragnar Northwest Passage relay. I ran 4.5 mile Fri morning, 7.6 miles Friday evening. I needed to run 3 more miles and I did. And swam and biked. :) Well, at least I know I can run my three legs while tired (thank you Milly) and then some.