Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spring Thaw Duathlon / Spokane River Run

Can you find Phaedra?

Those pictures at the top of my last blog remain appropriate. I know I'm just singing to the choir if I berate the spring weather (and the forecast!), but holy gosh darn heck I'm sick of cold, snowy, windy, icky, non-bicycle friendly weather. Okay, that's out of my system now. It's time for belated race reports. Despite my whinging session, 2 weekends ago we had brilliant weather. Stunning amazing glorious 60+ degree sunshine. Even though I had to work all day Saturday, the enthusiasm of everyone who came into work from the Centennial trail was contagious, and it was a great day. My hot new Scott

Sunday was the 1st spring thaw duathlon and the temps topped 70 degrees! The race itself was really fun. I got a bit nervous during the first run because of the stellar female runners out there. After the 2-lap, 2.2 mile trail run, I came into T1 just behind Janet Collar and had a relatively smooth transition with my Zoot shoes. I decided, due to the longer, rough nature of the transition zone to wear my bike shoes through transition. Just as I mounted my bike, I saw Annie sail by with a flying mount. I had no idea she was so close behind. Luckily, she still had to get her feet into her shoes, and I was able to establish the lead at the start of the bike. Because it usually takes me a while to warm upon the bike, I felt pretty rotten hammering from the start. With only 10 miles to ride, there was no time to ease into the ride, but I was able to focus for such a short period of time. I expected the last run to feel horrible, but it was quite the opposite. I felt way better than I had the first time around (maybe I need to warm up more before these things?), my stride felt more relaxed, and I didn't run any slower. In the end, it was a fun, productive race, and I took a bit of time off of my course record from the year before. Final Run

Afterwards, a rather large group of us went for a 45 mile ride around Long Lake. I remember being killed by Conrad, Troy, and Pete the year before on a brutal 60 miler to Wellpinit, but the pace this year was MUCH better. Still challenging, but not completely daunting. It was wonderfully novel to wear shorts, a short-sleeved jersey, and no booties, hats, jackets, etc. At this rate, it's something we're not likely to experience again until July, but it was sure nice.

Fast forward one week to the Spokane River Run. I happily discovered this race a year ago, and it's one of my favorites now. It's a fundraiser for the Garfield Elementary APPLE program, and there are 5km, 10km, 25km, and 50 km options. I chose the 25 km option. All of the courses are completely on trails in Riverside State Park. In fact, during the 25km race, we only touched pavement once wjen we crossed the centennial trail just before the finish. It's not an easy course, with interesting footing in areas and lots of climing and descending, but I think it's a really good warm-up for Wildflower. Last year I had ridden 90 miles the day before (back when we actually had nice springs), and was predictably slow on the climbs. This year, I was just slow on the climbs.

The first 3 miles of the race are relatively flat, and I kept my heart rate about 6 beats below my typical 1/2 marathon race effort, figuring I would save a bit for the hills and the extra 3 miles. I owe a huge thanks to the guy who chased me down at the very start when I ran the wrong way. According to my Garmin, it was only about a .1 mile detour, so no big deal in the end, but I did have to endure ample chiding from everyone who saw me completely ignore the giant yellow arrows and run the wrong way. It was not the first time I have run off course in a trail run. I managed to do it 2 years in a row at the Tiger Tri in Colville.

After the first major climb and a 1 mile section on huge chunks of rock along an abandoned rail bed, the 2 guys I had been running with pulled away, and I completely bonked. I'm a bit upset with myself for not bringing some GU along, because sports drink wasn't available at the aid stations until about the 10 mile marker. Normally, I would just stick with water for a race of this distance, but it fell at the end of a particularly tough 3 week training block, and I don't think I had much in the way of glycogen reserves. The last 7 miles or so were really tough, but I managed to stick with it and held off a fast closing Martin Scates, who, incidentally, nearly caught me at the finish last year. He seems to be much better at pacing himself in this race than I. Regardless, I secured the top female spot, and learned a bit about using perceived effort rather than heart rate when my body is tired. The river is so full right now, it's spectacular. This is a picture of the race from a different year, but as you can see, it's not a bad place to run.

Friday, April 4, 2008


The past week was my 2nd best spring break ever. The 10 days in the Bahamas in college will forever remain atop the list, but I probably laughed more during my week in SoCal than I have in the past year. Shelby, Steven, and Phaedra absolutely kept me rolling. I would love to throw out random quotes from the trip, but they would be irrelevant to the majority of my blog readers - all ten of them. Anyway, the break couldn't have been more timely. As I packed up my bike it was blizzarding outside.
These pictures don't really capture the giant horizontal snowflakes, but I assure you, it was a treat to leave. I'm told that it continued to snow the entire week that I was gone and admittedly, it was a bit disconcerting to fly back to a completely white landscape when I returned. It's supposed to be spring!

I was given a hint of things to come when Shelby and Steven came to pick me up at the airport along with Steven's Buddha, which was secured in the backseat (seatbelt and all) due to lack of space in his bedroom.
I'm trying to remember how exactly we stayed occupied during our pre-race week, and I pretty much just recall laughing a lot. We swam in her parents' retirement community pool, which was lovely despite it being a bit like a game of frogger with lots of people meandering around with their noodles. There were some mean ping pong games and I was slaughtered in my first ever game of Wii Tennis (and still have a nagging shoulder injury as a result). I also met my first ever hairless cats, which were at once scary-looking and surprisingly affectionate. I was lucky enough to run into the runwithryan.com crew, who appeared to know where they were going as I ran aimlessly around the Balboa Park trails. Thanks for letting me tag along guys. I'll find you again the next time I'm in San Diego.

We visted the velodrome hoping to hop into one of their "come try it out" sessions and also managed to leave the car unlocked and running (with radio blasting) in downtown La Jolla for the better part of the evening. Who does that?! Things got even better when Phaedra showed up, with more hilarity and, unfortunately, less sleep. I forgot, during the off-season, how annoying pre-race anxiety can be. I'm not a particularly nervous person, but this was my first ever race as a pro, and the field was stacked. It sounds negative, but I was really scared that I would come in last.

Four-o-clock am wake up calls are never welcome, but when I woke up Saturday morning, I knew that the only way to calm my nerves was to actually get the race done, so I slipped into my new ZOOT Ultra Team race kit and headed to Oceanside with Phaedra. Shelby had left the house at 3 a.m. because she foolishly volunteered to work the transition area. It turned out to be a great for me - she was my body-marker and she put the first ever "P" on the back of my leg. Phaedra caught my attention just as I was about to walk down the swim ramp for some last minute encouragement. The terror almost felt like Kona all over again, except that the water was about a million times colder this time around.

The swim was rough. Something funky has been going on for the past several weeks in the pool (not to mention that I was really struggling to fit swim sessions into my schedule at all), and it showed in the race. It's amazing how lonely a race can be when you're in the first wave and the entire swim pack drops you in the first minute. I never even saw them again. I didn't come out of the water dead last though - just 4th to last. The best part of the swim was my new ZOOT Zenith wetsuit, which was awesomely flexible. For the first time ever, my shoulders didn't feel at all fatigued at the end of the 2000 m wetsuit swim, even with my Wii injury. I didn't know that was possible. (34:00)

The first 25 miles of the bike were equally lonely and very interesting. I never saw anyone, with the exception of the odd male age-grouper who whizzed by. When you're a good 6-10 minutes behind the majority of your competitors, it takes a while to catch back up to them. It did ultimately happen, however. I passed a pair of women at the 25 mile marker and then proceeded to tick off at least another dozen during the rest of the ride. My SCOTT plasma was absolutely dreamy and smooth. I've only had it a for a few weeks, but I'm getting dialed in fit wise, and am enjoying (most) every moment I spend with my new bike. I probably should have ridden a little harder, but the 25 mile solo time trial was a good experience (2:42).

The run was okay. I never felt like i was pushing terribly hard, but my pre-season fitness isn't yet high enough to allow me to run much faster. I did get passed by a small handful of women managed to pass one, but for me a 1:31 half marathon is decent for my first race of the season. I certainly felt like my legs wanted to run more quickly, and I'm confident that that will come as my training starts to include more speed and strength endurance. It was also my first time racing in the new ZOOT Ultra shoes, and T2 was awesomely quick and smooth as a result. It was fun to notice Shelby's (Charmin's) chalk art along the run course. She was the best course volunteer of the day for sure!.

Phaedra started the race almost an hour after I did, so I had plenty of time to take advantage of the post-race massage service while I waited for her to finish. The thing I didn't manage to do was eat very much (Katie at the Metabolic Institute will be so disappointed in me!). When we finally made it to a restaurant around 4:30 pm for my first solid food in 12 hours, the only thing they could bring out asap was french fries, and we absolutely devoured them. So much for trying to get in a 4:1 ratio of carbs:protein in post-race. How about fat? I don't even think there was much potato in the fries. They were really just the crispy outside part. Sorry Katie!

Then Shelby and Phaedra dropped me off at the new Sheraton in Carlsbad for the ZOOT Ultra Team Camp, which was probably the fanciest hotel I've ever stayed in. Unfortunately I didn't get to spend much time between the crisp, clean sheets, but the five hours that I did spend in bed were blissful. The reason for the lack of sleep was the ZOOT/Timex/Triathlete Magazine party which probably would have been mostly tame had Phaedra and Shelby not come to liven things up substantially.

Flattering, I know.

I give myself credit for outlasting the rest of the Zoot-ers, but those Timex athletes put me to shame. Granted, they didn't have to walk home in the rain or get up for a 6 am team run the following morning, but I nonetheless must credit their stamina. I was sad to have to leave camp early the next day, but I'm glad I got the brief opportunity to learn more about the products I'll be using this season (Zoot, Fuelbelt, GU, Scott, Zipp, Suunto). It was especially nice to meet my teammates, as we'll be surely seeing each other at races all over the country this summer. Until then I'll be cranking through my last quarter of organic and biochemistry and braving through the snow that continues to fall. Many thanks to those who made this week surpremely fun and memorable.