Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 In Review

I'm less interested in recapping miles and races this year and more interested in remembering the amazing things that made 2013 memorable.  It had its ups and it had its downs but it was one hell of a year!

January - we spent 2 amazing weeks biking through Central America as part of the grand prize I'd won in a vegan sports nutrition product sweepstakes. Trip of a lifetime.

February - I coughed up the big news that I was moving to Boulder and explained the process in excruciating detail.

March - I puked my way to a new personal best power on the bike.

April - we visited Stanley's sister's adorable puppies and celebrated a birthday for a special dog friend.

May - I was not eaten by sharks.

June - Woofstock, baby.

July - We made our last trip to the beach with our best friends.  Little did we know we would lose 2 of them so soon afterwards :(  We said goodbye to California and hit the road for Colorado.

August - I moved in to our new home in Boulder, sent my husband on a plane home and fell in love with everything Colorado.  Also, it was hot.  Really hot.

September - Jeff visited.  It was still hot.  Then it started raining and thus commenced the great Boulder Flood of 2013.  We evacuated to three different hotels at different points in September.  I should teach a class on this.

October - We moved into a new home after the final straw with the flood and old apartment.  Jeff visited - it was hot again! I continued to train for a marathon in the prettiest place on earth, got chased by a cow, we got our first snow, and I did science.

Also…my mom came to visit Colorado for the first time and we went all over sightseeing. No, really.  Really.

November - I flew home and surprised Jeff and my family as he packed up our house.  I ran my last 20-miler at sea level and learned how awesome it is to live at altitude.  We sold our house in one day on the market.

December - I ran a marathon. Survived finals week and got As in my classes, spent 3 weeks eating like an asshole, and miraculously got back in the pool and on my bike.

If you're still reading and you care about the racing/mileage crap…
I swam 224,171 yards (~128.8 miles), biked 2376.17 miles, ran 903.91 miles, did a little over 26 hours of strength work, and got faster than ever on my lowest mileage in ~5 years.   I raced and podiumed in 2 duathlons and successfully swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco.  I started tri season well with a 4th place in AG, then podiumed in the next 2 races and crashed and burned in my first outing at AG nationals.  I ran 4 run races, made the podium in 3 of them and PRed the shit out of the last one.     Life was a bit hairy this year but I managed some huge improvements and I'm happy to put this racing year to bed and focus on the next one.

With that, I'm off to drink sparkling cider and eat spinach for dinner, hang with the dogs, and go to bed at 9pm.  2014 kicks off early and I need to be well rested!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Before Christmas, I joined the gym next door to my apartment.  For the new year of training, I can't have any excuses to miss swims or other workouts - the masters group I joined when I moved here simply doesn't have convenient (EARLY morning) hours for me and the city pool lap swim hours are a bit too limited with my work schedule, plus if we're experiencing "weather" it's hard to get myself in a car and drive there.  Instead I now have access to an OUTDOOR pool, a block from home, with a hot tub and sauna and ridiculous number of other amenities.  I swam nearly as much in my 3 weeks of off-season as I did in the previous 3 months of marathon training combined.

Miracle. (And it's truly that nice of a pool)

The beardies and I are back home in Boulder after a week in Arizona visiting Jeff and Puck.  We survived the 13 hour, 880 mile drive back and beat the snow to Boulder by about 5 minutes. And none of the crazy New Mexico drivers managed to kill us either.


I was thinking about holiday miracles earlier this week, when I consumed three rather large vodka-based beverages while out at sushi dinner with Jeff and then three large beers with Jeff and Nigel after. And woke up feeling…amazing.  Like seriously, no hangover, all hydrated and everything. And then busted out my longest swim in ages.

Miracle for sure.

While visiting Arizona this week, I also got back on my bike, outdoors, for the first time in…well, months.  Of course we started with a  ride up a (small) mountain - I assumed I'd be far off the back of the boys, sucking wind and cursing life.  Instead, I felt FABULOUS and strong right on up that mountain.  I rode with Jeff on Christmas and felt super as well.

(Living at elevation and coming down to sea level is a) Miracle.

After 3 weeks of eating a "Western" diet (high fat high sugar), I've managed not to die.

Absolutely a miracle.

Training starts up again tomorrow so today I return to vegetables and healthier eating.  I've never missed something so badly in my life!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

From Stanley, Max and Puck

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tucson Marathon Race Report

When I left Boulder last Saturday morning, after a 3:45am alarm (HOLYMOTHEROFGODITSTOODAMNEARLY), it was -5 degrees out.  We'd been dealing with a weeklong cold snap that necessitated boots and coats for dogs for every single walk plus a ridiculous amount of bundling up for me. Every. Single. Walk.  For the most part I was just grateful I made it to the airport without encountering any ice.  And to think I was flying somewhere where everyone had been complaining about cold…compared to Colorado, I was looking at it as t-shirt weather (more on this later).

I flew to Phoenix where Jeff and Puck picked me up and we road tripped about 90 miles down the road to the Tucson area.  Got through the line at the busiest Starbucks ever, spent 5 minutes at packet pickup, had lunch and spent the afternoon relaxing in our hotel.  All the while eating and eating and trying to keep to bland white foods (I am not very good at this).  I had an early dinner and was off to bed around 8:30, with yet another 3:45 alarm on tap.

I practice my pre-race routines for every long workout so they really don't tend to be stressful or different for me on race morning.  I applied sunblock, lubed up, dressed, put my new throwaway sweats on over my race clothes, and started chugging caffeine as Jeff drove me to the high school that served as the bus depot for transit to the start line, way up the back side of Mount Lemmon.  I made friends with my seat mate who was doing her very first marathon and was very nervous.  I wasn't nervous at all, but I knew I was trained and ready for this and I had a very good idea of what kind of PR we were talking about.

It was not especially warm at the start, probably 28-30 degrees with a STRONG wind and an occasional drop of something frozen from the sky.  I reminded myself that I've done all my long running in Boulder in a sports bra and a pair of shorts, even when it was 35 or 40 degrees out, and this was WARM compared to when I left!  Eventually it was time to line up at the start - I set myself up around what seemed like the appropriate pace groups, took off my sweatpants, and decided to keep my fleece till the 1st aid station.

An anthem, a little fanfare, and we were off!  The first few miles were pretty fast as we were rolling up and down but mostly down, and the pace group leader took off like a bat out of hell, at a much faster pace than the time goal she carried.  Still I kept the effort feeling easy and backed off - with 90% of the pace group - when it didn't.  By the aid station at mile 2, I was ready to shed my fleece and settle in for the long haul.

Miles 1-5: 7:55, 8:22, 7:52, 8:16, 8:12

After 5 miles we turned out onto the bigger state highway and the course leveled out a bit, with less obvious rollers.  I felt pretty good and just kept my effort steady and my nutrition/hydration on schedule.
Miles 6-10: 7:52, 7:59, 8:16, 8:15, 8:20

Just before the 10 mile mark, we took a turn onto Biosphere Road and began the long slog upward to turn around at the gates of the Biosphere.  As I got closer, I wondered what had happened to that 3:40 pace leader.  I saw the 3:30 pace leader go by the other direction when I was nearing the turnaround and 30 seconds behind him there she was!  Um…pretty sure you aren't supposed to be that far up the 3:30 group's ass at mile 12 - no wonder she'd lost everyone that followed her! 

We turned around at mile 12 and rolled up and down back to the highway, reaching it a bit after the 13.1 mile mark.  I was probably at my lowest point here…stomach feeling a bit queasy, legs tired and just tired of running into the darned headwind!  I made a restroom stop around mile 15 and upped my water intake - both things I think paid off down the line.  I should add despite the wind and all I was never cold! I got a lot of funny looks for not wearing as much as everyone else but I was comfortable and it was probably like 45 most of the day - WAY warmer than where I had come from!
Miles 11-15: 8:44, 8:52, 8:26, 8:42, 8:35

From Biosphere Road I knew we had about 7 miles before we turned off the highway.  My legs were starting to hurt - A LOT - but I just focused on strong form and keeping my cadence high.  "Your legs are going to hurt regardless. So make them hurt faster." The wind continued to be strong in our faces and where possible I drafted off big dudes.  Still it seemed like no one was quite going my pace - either I passed them or they surged past me and then I would repass them at aid stations.  The road rolled up and down and you never quite could tell what was coming off in the distance until you got there (the joy of open desert scenery).
Miles 16-19: 9:06, 8:25, 8:46, 8:44

Right about at mile 20, something awesome happened - I started feeling FABULOUS.  I may not have been moving a whole lot faster but I got a smile on my face and I started passing a lot of people.  I knew there were still some tough parts to go but I was on the home stretch.  I knew on this newly revised course, there was a steep hill coming around mile 22.5 but I couldn't see it - then we turned a corner and OH YEAH that's a big one.  Still it was not all that different than this one hill I ran all fall on the Boulder Marathon course, back on dirt roads near Nelson Road.  So just control breathing and pace, lean forward and keep running till the top - where I was rewarded by a lovely downhill that I absolutely hammered (because why not? only 3 miles to go and it's not like I'm saving my legs for anything!).
Miles 20-24: 8:37, 8:46, 8:54, 9:05, 8:47

The last couple miles were not the most fun but I knew I was almost there and Jeff and Puck would be waiting for me at the finish.  We also caught up with some of the 19-milers and half-marathoners at this point so the course got busier.  I just kept looking for that last turn!!!  Finally I saw the crowd and the turn into the fire station for the finish chute.  I spotted Jeff and Puck up on a grassy hill (I had promised to not talk to him when I saw him or Puck would notice me and probably rip Jeff's arm off trying to join me on course) and gave him a quick wave as I went by.  Just a few more seconds of running and I was done.
Miles 25-26.2 (or, um, 26.32 if you're me): 8:50, 8:46, and an 8:28 pace for the last 1/3 of a mile.

After I took a few moments to collect myself (look, ma, no puke!), I hobbled over to the timing table to double-check on my time.  Yes, indeed - 3:44:13 - for a 1:02:01 PR over my best open marathon and a 43:44 PR over my best IM marathon.  14th/75 in 35-39 women and 70th/409 women overall.

I knew it was going to hurt and it certainly delivered - but Coach and I have worked long and hard on mental management of pain and it paid off.  Given the changing terrain of the course, my effort was steady and I stuck to my plan well - I knew the downhill miles would be fast and the uphill ones not so much so I conserved well.  That is BY FAR the best I've ever run after 20 miles in a marathon/IM marathon and Coach was in my head all the way keeping me strong and focused.

I hobbled the 1/2 mile to the car (and I'm sure provided much entertainment to spectators) and  Facebooked right about that time: "No. More. Marathons."  Jeff graciously handed me a chocolate milk and drove me back to Phoenix, where I had time to shower and have a meal before my long-delayed flight.  First burger in months, for the win!  With that, the off season is officially upon me!  I'm doing my best to only eat 4 food groups - beer, bacon, cheese and chocolate.  It's a tough job but someone has to do it.

Thanks for all the well wishes!!!  I thought about each of you (and your predictions haha) as I ran.  Of the people who didn't know insider info like my training run times (and my 1/2 PR of 1:44 from a 1/2IM in 2012), Krystyna was the big prediction winner!

PS - this past weekend I got a message from a former tri club teammate who said he ran a trail race with a girl who had run Tucson the weekend before and she mentioned how cold it was and there was this one crazy girl in a sports bra. A blue sports bra! Hahahahahahaha.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Me and the Marathon

I started running on Thanksgiving Day 2005.  I ran my first half-marathon 5 months later and my first marathon 14 months later.  Looking back, perhaps this was not a recipe for success, in terms of letting my body adapt to running a bit more slowly but most of us aren't all that smart when we start out in these things.

Rock N Roll Arizona 2007 - 4:46:14
Raging IT band issues leading into the race, both 20 mile runs in my build done in excruciating pain (and one of them cut short as a result). Didn't run most of my taper and did the race with a lot of ibuprofen but no pain at all.  Never had an IT band problem again.  *too much too soon*

Big Sur International Marathon 2007 - 4:53:40
3 months after the first marathon, on my 30th birthday as a celebration!  Super hilly course, only goal was to finish happy and I did.  Most beautiful marathon course ever.

Rock N Roll Arizona 2008 - 4:58:54
Back a year later, super trained and ready for a big PR.  Then I got sick 8 miles into the race and walked a good portion of the rest of it.  That's what you get for spending time in the ER with a family member during flu season during your taper.

Ironman Arizona 2009 - 5:03:00
First Ironman ever, plenty of walking in the back half.  GI issues galore.

Ironman Arizona 2011 - 4:50:57
Second Ironman, more careful pacing, still some walking in the later miles.

Ironman Canada 2012 - 4:27:57
Far hillier IM course than the first two, only walked aid stations in the back half of the course.  Paced it slow but steady and PRed a marathon for the first time in 5+ years.

Tucson Marathon 2013 - ?????

With all of that in mind, I'll take your bets on what my time will be!  Winner wins…the joy of being right.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Long Run Musings

It's late in the 2nd week of taper and I'm halfway between rested and insane.  The dogs and I drove through 900 miles of snowstorms to make it to Arizona for Thanksgiving and reunite the family - that said, I'm really looking forward to being back in Colorado.  I already miss the mountains and smaller-town life.

My last *longish* run was a split affair - 6.5 miles in the morning, 8.5+ in the afternoon.  I stupidly overdressed for the first run and cooked through the entire thing wearing long sleeves and tights when it was at least 40 and sunny out.  I smartly went out for the afternoon run in sports bra and shorts (side note: this has been the year that I stopped caring about people seeing my stomach and just went for it - Coach killed me on far too many track workouts where I overheated no matter what I wore and have opted for comfort) and hit race pace well.

I rolled into Scottsdale on Saturday night in the midst of various rain and snow storms and had my first taper-long run on Sunday morning.  It was funny to see the Arizonans wearing parkas while I ran in, again, a sports bra and shorts, even while it rained, but it was totally comfortable and if anything I had to hold back on my pace.  I even got to run through ankle deep water from some of the flooding they've been having here (am I starting to feel like a flood magnet or what?).  Lower elevation + the legs are starting to feel rested = we are getting there!

While everyone else is Turkey Trotting today, I'll be riding my bike because that's the kind of thing we do during taper.  And because I ran my ass off at the track yesterday followed by enough squats and lunges that I'm having to help myself get in and out of chairs today.  Is it race day yet?

Happy Thanksgiving and thank you to my family, my friends, my coworkers and classmates, and my coach for all the love and support all year!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On the first week of taper, my tri coach gave to me….

Many yards of swimming!
Some decreased run time!
ONE! Hard! Track workout!
12 long run miles, 3 french hens 2 turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree
*ok I may just be a bit excited about the holidays or the caffeine has kicked in this morning*

Taper started this week.  I celebrated by getting back in the pool for the first time in a month.  Don't judge, grad school life is a bit insane and pool access is always the hardest thing to coordinate.  I even attempted to get up and go to masters yesterday, only to find that the 6-7am workout really means doors open sometime after 6 and then everyone rushes in to do an abbreviated workout.  Not cool, BAM, not cool.  I'm looking at other masters options that might make it more likely for me to get in a pool on a regular schedule for training next year.  Anyway, I ended up taking my swim gear to work and going to the campus rec center between work and class.

I have a reasonable idea about what I'd like to do for this marathon, as well as optimistic hopes for a best case scenario, but I don't know the course well enough to know what exactly will be possible.  Still, my last long run at sea level gave me some idea of what I can run over distance and my split long run this past weekend, back at altitude, while difficult, gave me more confidence.  So now we're down to just resting the legs while keeping them sharp and we'll see what happens!  I'll write a post more about my marathon history sometime in the next couple weeks to give some context to whatever happens on race day.

In more immediate news, I am very much looking forward to fall break from school!  There are no classes at all the week of Thanksgiving (very different than when I was in college) and so the dogs and I are heading to Scottsdale to spend the week with Jeff and Puck.  It will be the first time the dogs have all seen each other since July 29th!  I will have a big stack of grading to do for one of my classes and a stats project to work on but otherwise it'll be a lot of relaxing and enjoying the break.

Happy hump day!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Nederland/Indian Peaks Wilderness/Boulder Canyon/Chautauqua (Mom's Photos)

Photos by Evelyne McNamara

Pike's Peak (Mom's Photos)

Photos by Evelyne McNamara

Manitou Springs

Our train to the summit of Pike's Peak

Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs)

Driving through Castle Rock