Monday, July 22, 2013

Boilermaker 15K Recap

The fact that I am posting over a week late has everything to do with how awesome this race is! Ok....maybe that's not entirely true...but The Boilermaker Road Race is a one of a kind event that convinced me it is cool to "race" 9.3 miles and then drink endless beer at 9:30 in the morning.

Alright, rewind to the night before. I am sad to say that I left the camera behind as it was a whirlwind weekend and too tough to think about cooking, running, and visiting in all of 36 hours. This race sold out in a matter of four days and it is capped at 14,000 runners. This year was the fastest it ever sold out so I knew it would be a good time. Not to mention, my Dad's entire family lives in Central New York so of course I had to do a race in Utica! 

I had planned on running alone since I have gotten used to that by now - and one is certainly not alone among 14,000 others. But lucky for me my sister had an idea up her sleeve and connected me with some friends who were Boilermaker veterans. I got some advice the night before and then hitched a ride to the start first thing in the morning. My sister volunteered to cart my stuff around, my post-race essentials: camera, dress, flip flops, coconut water, chocolate soy milk, wallet. ESSENTIALS! 

Of course there was disorder and it was impossible to appropriately line up according to finish time, so we chose the first place we could find and stood...and waited....for what seemed like for. ev .er. This was my first 15K and I was a little concerned about the distance (9.3 mi), but more about how I would possibly find anybody at the finish.

The race started at 8:00 and we crossed the start at 8:04:29 ... woo, what a wait! This was the first time I had ever seen people just leave the course left & right to pee anywhere they could find. It was quite amusing and occurred for the entirety of mile 1. Mile 2 was the "International Mile" which I enjoyed, being a non-profit person and all. Mile 3 was my mental prep for THE HILL....and I obsessed about conserving energy for this monster. I think my photos found here were just after hitting that marker.

I had kept the elevation chart in mind so I knew that the peak of the hill was at the fourth mile marker. But with all of the people and beautiful scenery, I didn't notice how far along we were. So when we reached mile 4 I got a bit obnoxious yelling "THAT WAS THE HILL? WHAT? THAT'S IT?" Hahaha...tell me this elevation chart is not horrifying, I dare you! I did not actually read the numbers on the left-hand side...obviously.  

I happily breezed down the hill with the excitement of "conquering the beast" and got to use that coasting form I have been trying to perfect. Both of the guys stayed with me for mile 5 then one took off, and the other took off at mile 6. And then mile 7 hit.

Did I mention how there was music all along the course? I swear either a band or a DJ played at half-mile intervals and it was SO FUN. People were cheering continuously on either side of the streets, the zoo brought some animals out to play, it was awesome! And then you hit mile 7.....all is're on an overpass that is made of grooved concrete....and you're on the tiniest bit of an incline. I was alone, the road was wide, and spirits were low. IT SUCKED. I got bored and slowed down to a 10 minute mile because I lost interest.

In retrospect, I am disappointed that I let the atmosphere bring me down, but I came right back to life as the crowd thickened through miles 8 and 9 - both mostly downhill. Once I hit the 9 mile marker I was ready to sprint but panicked....where was the finish line?! I was looking for a big overhead clock and scanned the horizon, finding nothing. I even asked out loud and nobody responded. Then, with about .15 miles left, I found it and zoned in.

When my Dad prepared to shoot this picture, he said that he had me in the lens in front of him. Do you see me? No? Yea - that's because I flew! I had reserved energy to sprint the last .3 and was so bummed that I missed out. So I made the most of the time I had left and weaved in and out of those stragglers nearing the finish. Alright......that's an exaggeration, but I am unhappy to report that there was no competition as I neared the finish. 

This race definitely lived up to its claim that it is basically a party through Utica. There were so many people and so many djs, water stations, and showers that you could run through. Food was decent, I pretty much shoved everything resembling food that was thrown at me (no meat in sight). Certainly grabbed my two beers then reunited with the group. When we went back over for seconds, the jets flew over and the National Anthem was sung once more.

Under no other circumstances will I willfully run a race in mid-summer heat then proceed to hang out with 40,000 people at an after-party drinking beer on a Sunday morning. But the Boilermaker? That's a different story. I am so siked to make this an annual race, and my family is pretty siked about that!

BY THE WAY: I finished in 1 hr 26 min - that's an average pace of 9:13. Not too shabby for me, the girl who melts in the heat and humidity. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Quaboag Plantation Triathlon Recap

As I have just arrived in upstate NY to run the Boilermaker, I should probably write a recap on my triathlon from last weekend, eh?

On Saturday my Mom and I participated in the Quaboag Plantation Sprint Triathlon in West Brookfield. Neither of us had ever been out there before and we were both pleasantly surprised. I found this race by accident and only signed up because it worked with my schedule and was low cost ($50) for a Tri.

If you care to remember, this race occurred during an awful heat wave that had me, the one who can’t get enough of the outdoors and sunshine, glued to the coach under a fan. Yes, it was that hot. Or maybe I just need to move further North?

Anyways, the water was approaching 80 degrees by 8 am and we knew we were in for a tough race. My thoughts at the start line were “who cares about racing, I want to finish without walking” and “as long as I get in for 1:21 I’m good.” Yep – just a little confusion.

Swim ¼ mile in 10:35: The swim start was from a narrow entry point and they split the women up into two waves, under/over 40 years old. I learned right off the bat that the participants in this race were mostly strong swimmers and I fell back pretty quickly. I did maintain pace with one woman throughout the whole swim and we ran up to transition together, so it was good to not feel alone out there. My least favorite part of a tri is when you can’t find the shore due to the sun’s glare….how do you sight without a landmark?! Definitely one of my weaker swims and I was a little disappointed by my time.

T1 1 min 35 sec : I think I actually started to get excited during this point because this is the first transition where I dropped things and had difficulty tying my shoes. I was so excited to get on my bike and catch up to the others in my group!

Bike 12 miles in 41:41: Oh, the scenery was so lovely out here! I wish I had a camera because this bike was just beautiful. I recall the course as rolling hills with lots of trees and sunlight streaming through, but I might be glossing over the tough parts. There was definitely one hill that I had to stand up for, I saw the traffic jam of racers before I knew what was coming on that one. I passed 4 or 5 women here and about 9 miles in the men over 40 started to catch up with me. I can proudly say that I was the only one doing the passing for women under 40 – new for me on the bike! My pace averaged out to 17 mph which I guess is pretty good? I’m gaining confidence and taking advantage of the downhills & the drop handlebars. Considering my not-so-fun past with cycling & injuries, this is a HUGE step for me. OH – and I used some new energy snacks that I had gotten for free at the co-op awhile ago, they were some jelly bean type deal. They were SO good and worked SO well – I was pleasantly surprised. Ate these around mile 10 of the bike, easy to pop in and chew.

T2 58 sec : Quick, easy transition…other than more difficulties with tying my shoes. Apparently I came into T2 at the same time as the first finisher crossed. That excitement didn’t even phase me as I was ready to RUN!

Run 3 miles in 24:45: Did I mention it was a hot day? I mean….I have never been so hot while swimming in my life. I came out of the water with a red hot face, that’s how hot it was. The first part of the run was uphill with full sun exposure – ah! Luckily I just had some sugar & caffeine so my energy was high despite my tired legs. I splashed some water on myself and prepared for the run. I felt that I had a good pace and was not as tired as at my last Tri, that’s a win in my book! The run is always funny because my position in the pack just shuffles. I always pass around 10 people and feel awesome, then a 65 year old woman will sprint past me followed by 9 more. Every. Time. It’s interesting and exciting, there’s always more camaraderie on the run in a tri than anywhere else. Since running is you know, what I do, I feel that my big smile contributes to that. I depleted my water and homemade energy drink stores on this run and felt strong and hydrated throughout. The finish was downhill and at the end of a dirt path so it was easy to end on a great, fast note. Rather than try to calculate what 84 minus 5 equals and what that meant in regard to my 1 hr 21 min goal I just ran as hard as possible. Math just slows me down.

Imagine my surprise when I finished in 1:19:35! Only 35 seconds sooner and I would have been 4th in my age group, but I got 5/10 for F 20-29 and 63/121 overall. Most importantly – I crushed my goal time once again! I based my goal on my pacing for the last tri so I was proud to see improvement in only a month. The course was beautiful and I will gladly do this race again next summer (if I’m in MA!). If only I could do a triathlon every weekend……

PS Did I mention the awesome hats? QPT in the front and Swim Bike Run / West Brookfield, MA on the back. Sweet!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Summertime Blues

Now that my summer class has finished, I have time to write again! In the food world, my CSA has begun and the heat has demolished my appetite. I have a nice twist on a staple recipe but I've pretty much been eating whatever I can stomach. Lots of soft, bland food. In the exercise world, I am on Week 4 of marathon training and I have a triathlon tomorrow. The tri I have not been able to train much for due to my insane schedule, but I did manage to fit in two double workouts this week, so I should be  ok. Worst comes to worst, I know I can do the distances without a problem and I won't race it.

ANYWAYS - I came on here to write about heat. I am a little frustrated because I am usually good at compromising with my training and moving workouts around to fit my schedule. Enter summertime and I am just a wreck. My question is this: What do you do when your only two training days for a long run are under heat advisory? I think the common sense answer would be to wake up at an insane hour and leave before the sun comes up. But I am not a morning distance runner as of yet.

I just attempted 10 miles but something about my fuel belt and my outfit is not working - the belt was bouncing around ridiculously, even at the tightest fit. It's a good thing I decided to turn around and change because once I got most of the way home dizziness set in. Now I am sitting in front of a fan guzzling energy drink & water wondering where all my strength went.

Is it really ok to split up my long runs two weeks in a row? Last weekend I did 3 separate 3 mile loops spaced throughout the day. Today it looks like I'm doing a 2 miler plus a nighttime 8 miler.

Obviously I am going to get those 8 in just to finish off my training week successfully. I'm just not a big fan of this summertime training. This running thing is always a learning experience....