Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pushing Boundaries

Before I didn't finish the RRCA 10-Mile Challenge, I did finish talking to a roomful (at LEAST 100. Prolly more like 200. Or 2000.) of candidates for D.C. Tri's New Triathlete Program 2009.

I was asked to join the volunteer coordinators at the NTP Orientation last Saturday. and just "talk about your experience."

So we all know that fear of public speaking ranks before fear of death, right?


Though I was a little nervous beforehand, I felt like I knew my subject—me—pretty well.

So here's an abbreviated version of what I told them, in no particular order.

I told them that the club president, answering my general query about the NTP, talked me into doing the Olympic distance race that the program was training for. How other people believing in you can make YOU believe in YOU.

I told them I got an "F" in gym in high school. That I had run for a few years. That I was 52.

I told them that last year was hands down the best year of my life.

I described my journey to my first triathlon, the Philadelphia Insurance Sprint, and how I almost cried at the start because I thought my life would be ending soon—that's how scared I was.

I told them that I am the shyest person on earth (quite possibly true) and that I forced myself to go to things where I didn't know anyone, and how scary, but crucial, it is to do that.

I told them about the first "bric-nic" I went to, which I had to drag myself to because I didn't know anyone and had a crap bike, but how I went anyway and had So Much Fun It Should Be Illegal.

I told them that it takes guts to finish last.

I described the misery of being the last swimmer out of the water at the New Jersey Tri., racing to the bike racks only to see them empty, riding that long course by myself, running 10k in the 200F weather, and having to run past the finish (at this point my co-presenters started clearing their throats. What, you don't think this is a great sales pitch???).

But I eventually got to the punch line, which was: Coming back down the final leg of the run, down the hill, convinced everyone was gone and I was last, only to see and hear my NTP peeps had all WAITED FOR ME and were rushing the net cheering MY name.

Quite simply one (out of two) of the best days of my life.

I told them some other stuff too. How much help they would get from other triathletes—even Ironmen rode 12 mph with me, helping me out. How they'd be their own best mentors, to show up for stuff, to put themselves out there and take risks.

Kind of like I did standing up in front of a roomful of strangers.

Plus? I think they liked my little talk.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My 17 1/2 Minute RRCA 10 Mile Challenge

We had a choice this weekend, either run 12 miles at an easy pace OR run the RRCA 10-Mile Challenge at 8 a.m., located approximately exactly 31.5 miles from my house. I chose the race.

Error #1.

I got there at 7:57, parked, and learned that check-in was 1/4 mile away, so raced over. Had I pre-registered? I had.

"We don't have your name. Fill out these forms please."

Errors #2 and 3.

Then? Sudden Dire Digestive Issues requiring immediate, but late, use of bathroom. Use your vivid imaginations.

Error #4.

"I can still do this," I said to myself. Just a nice 10-mile run in the middle of nowhere. On streets. With cars. On a course billed as "one of the most competitive and challenging races in Maryland."

I ran the 1/4 mile back to where I'd parked, since that's where I'd seen all the runners at the start, and I kept right on going.

"Girl," I said to myself, "you might just want to make sure you are going the right way." There was one cop up ahead, sitting comfortably in his idling cruiser. "Is this the right way?", I asked.

Um, no, he said. This is the FINISH line.

Go back the way you just came.

Son of a %$@!!

Error #5.

I turned around and ran that same #@$# 1/4 mile again, this time meeting two other runners coming towards me. I told them they were going the wrong way. They turned around.

My race had finally started!

There were no cones, no mile markers, nothing. Another passerby told me to turn right at the next intersection, marked with a teensy little sign with an arrow that i would NEVER have seen.

Me and the two other losers latecomers crossed the heavily trafficked road and started up a hill that snaked through a lovely neighborhood.

It was dark and dreary.

Two cars slowed down to point the way for us.

I started thinking. There would be no cops holding back traffic for us, and certainly no volunteers, and definitely no water.

Then a van came by with a guy in a bib sitting in the passenger seat.

It was That Van. I had never yet succumbed to the temptation of That Van.

"I'm out," I said to my companions.

17 1/2 minutes.

I hadn't even hit mile 1.

The other runner had a real excuse: severe shin splints. Me? I just had a Bad Attitude. We were dropped off back at the registration area.

I jogged the 1/4 mile once again to my car, and starting thinking. "Just drive directly to your usual trail and run 10 miles. You can still do this!!"

To which I answered: "Or, you can go home, take a nice hot shower, and climb back in bed."

And then it started raining.

Now, if I was a different kind of person, I would have Sucked It up, driven to the trail, and run a nice 10 miles, and been right back on The Plan.

Too bad I'm this kind of person: I called and woke up Number One Daughter to get her to tell me what to do. She declined.

Next I called my friend Tri-S. to get her to tell me to go home, take a shower, and climb into bed. Which she obligingly did. I heart Tri-S!

And then it started snowing.

And then my internal bickering began. "Just go the trail and run!" "No, I don't feel like it!" "You'll be done before you know it!" "I don't wanna!!!" "A run in the snow will be beautiful!" "You're a lowdown lying liar!!!"

And then I passed a Starbucks.

And then?

I ordered a grande decaf skim latte and an apple bran (possibly not the wisest choice) muffin, sat there, and read The New York Times, as the snow gently drifted down.

Just another day in the life of Not Born to Run.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Speak Track

Tonight's track workout made my head spin the first time I read it:

6x800 @I=Interval pace
4x100 @R=Race pace
400/100 recovery

I mean seriously. That's almost as bad as swim workouts!

With my handy magnifying glass, a sturdy cup of tea, and a thesaurus, I uncovered the hidden meaning:

Run around the track twice (=800), six times, at your interval pace (according to the chart our coach had previously given to us based on our 10k pace—calculate your own track paces with McMillan's race calculator—it's endless good fun!)

Wait, where was I?

Right: run around the track twice (=800) six times at your interval pace: 5:00 minutes.
After each 800, run once around the track (=400) to recover.
After you finish all of that, THEN run 100 meters (the straightaways) at your Race pace: :34 seconds, with 100 meters recovery, and do THAT four times.

Oh yes and don't forget to warm up for 1 mile and cooldown for one mile.

As usual, I was in No Mood. My pace group has dwindled from 10 or so women to me and one other chick (the one I lied to last week, heh). We are well matched. She was in No Mood either.

Here's how it all Went Down:

1 mile warmup: 12:14

6x800 @ 5:00 minute pace/400 recovery
1st 800: 4:47
2nd 800: 4:57
3rd 800: 4:56
4th 800: 4:59
5th 800: 4:59
6th 800: 4:54

Next: 4x100 @ :34minutes/100 recovery
1st 100: :29
2nd 100: :27
3rd 100: :29
4th 100: :26

1 mile cooldown: 12:15

We totally could have done the 800s faster, but I kept slowing us down so we would hit our pace. The 100s we did faster than we were supposed to because we both just wanted to get it the hell over with. When I play with McMillan, I get an 800 time of 4:41.1 to 4:54.1, so no comprende where the coach is getting 5:00 minutes from, not that I'm complaining.

I just do what the man at the front of the room tells me to do.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Stink

No, I seriously, honestly stink (maybe I don't have try so hard to convince any of you who have traveled with me on my fitness rounds).

I have a (semi-) finite number of clothes that I wear to run indoors, to run outdoors, to wear to spin class, and on the treadmill. The minute I put them on, it starts. The stink is so foul you can practically eat it with a fork.

So I have to wash them (and I usually—don't judge—do) every night. Which is fun without a washer in the condo. But no matter how many volcanoes of baking soda and white vinegar I pour over my clothes while washing (a tip given to me by a concerned friend), the outcome is always: all stink, all the time.

So it was with great delight that I replied with a hearty "hell yes" when the ProWash peeps asked if I wanted to review their product. Besides, all the cool kids had already reviewed it.

I had already tried a sample of ProWash, given out as schwag at some race this summer—and I had liked what I didn't smell.

From the ProWash site:
ProWash™ is designed to target perspiration and odor molecules (ewww) in the wicking of the garment which ordinary detergents cover with perfume. This innovation actually removes odor molecules and detergent residues left by ordinary detergents.

I got this lovely package in the mail:

with a bonus "microfiber gym towel" in its own little carrying case! Score #1.

ProWash comes in a fancy soft plastic-y pouch, with a spout on the side and a measuring spoon that slips over the spout. How cute is that?? Well it's cute, but is it GREEN?

As a company we are concerned with the earth, its resources and the health of its inhabitants.

Stand up Pouches have 9X less effect on the earth than plastic bottles:
# 9X less warehouse space required
# 9X less landfill space consumed
# 9X less fuel consumption
# 9X less consumption of wood for pallets and paper for corrugate
# Pouches use only 40% of the plastic of the same size rigid bottle

*** Source: Mid Continent Packaging, Inc. Analysis Reporting 7/1/08 ***
Score #2.

And, like many of my favorite stores, it has an iron-clad money-back guarantee:
ProWash™ Activewear Detergent is the only sport detergent brand that gives a 100% Guarantee! If you are not completely satisfied, send the retail package and your cash register receipt for a replacement or refund.
Nothing to lose!

But does it work?

After several trials, I can truthfully say (and you should feel free to join me): Thank God Almighty, the stink is gone!

I love this stuff, and not just because they gave it to me. I want to wash everything in the house with it. It's a miracle!

Score #3.

Go, stimulate the economy. $26.64 for three 24-oz pouches at Amazon. It's not cheap, but you can prolong its use by mixing it with regular detergent, although I haven't tried that.

And if ProWash would like me to review it again, they know where to find me. I also like chocolates, New Balance shoes, and am mad crazy to visit England. Where I'd be very happy to introduce ProWash.

If you hate it you can always return it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

48th Annual Washington's Birthday Marathon and Marathon Relay Report

48th Annual Washington's Birthday Marathon and Marathon Relay

First leg: 9.7 miles (Jeanne)
Second leg: 7.3 miles (Z.)
Third leg: 9.2 miles (S.)

You will note, should you click through to say, the volunteers page, this:
* The Course closes at 4:30 pm (6 hours after the start time). *

Or say that you look at the FAQ, you will learn this:
Q. Is there an early start?
A. Yes. If you expect to take over 6 hours, please consider joining the 9:30 group. Our volunteers cannot be asked to be out beyond that. An announcement to head for the start will be made at the registration table about 9:15. If you join this group, you will be out of contention for an overall or age-group award. (An exception may be made for men over 70 and women over 60.) There is no early start for the relay.
and scrolling further down the page, you will see this:

Q. Is there an "early start" for the marathon relay?
A. No. All relay runners must have their first runner start at 10:30 a.m. There has never been a relay team to take more than 6 hours.
What you won't see anywhere, is any notice that the "COURSE WILL BE CLOSED TO ALL RUNNERS AT 2 P.M."

Because? It doesn't say that.

This is a lovely marathon course, through open fields and woodlands out in Greenbelt, Md. It's a 3-loop course. The weather was perfect, in the 40s, blue skies, sun, if a bit windy.

There were some serious uphills, but then some lovely downhills too. Lucky for me, my two teammates were not interested in setting any records, and we anticipated a finish close to 6 hours.

I struggled through and finished 9.7 miles in 1:51
.7 8:33

an 11:30/min mile. Not my best, but not my worst.

Z. did her 7.3 miles and finished up mile 17 around 2 p.m.

Then S. took off for her 9.2 miles. Z. and I headed for the car to drive to the finish, but before we got there S. came running back, yelling that "the course was closed!"

We had noticed that the race marshalls had taken down the time clock before Z. had even run in. Now they had told S. that the "course was closed." WTF?

S., after standing around for 4 hours waiting her turn, was a wee bit perturbed. And we were all confused. What the hell just happened? When S. was turned back so was some guy who had flown in from Wisconsin just to run this small marathon, which is a Boston qualifier. Can you imagine??

We finally located the race director, after some fruitless encounters with several race marshals, none of whom had heard anything about the course being closed. The RD also said that the course did NOT close at 2, that that info was just wrong, and was transmitted by ham radio operators to the race marshals, and that even had the course closed at 2, no runner would be stopped from running. Runners would just no longer be supported—but would never be told they could not run.

So, we were not happy campers.

The RD was understandably upset, and asked what he could do. I asked for only three things: an apology (since no one had said those magic soothing words), a refund, and not to be listed as DNF since it was their mistake.

I feel sorry for the RD. This is the 48th year of this race, so I feel bad that this happened on his watch. I feel bad for S. who stood around all morning pumping herself up to race, but I really feel sorry for that poor guy from Wisconsin.

Filed under "S*** happens."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Birthday Blowout

First of all, there's the loot:

1 new pair of running tights (thanks, E.!)
1 box of fancy schmancy chocolates (thanks, L.!)
1 cool funny birthday date book (thanks, J.!)
1 10-mile run (thanks to NO ONE for that fun adventure)
1 4-hour-nap (thanks, NOD!)
1 dinner party with NOD, J, L., and J!
1 CakeLove birthday cake!
1 lecture at the National Cathedral
1 birthday lunch
1 yoga class (thanks, D!)
1 passion-fruit Starbucks tea (thanks, D!)
1 writing session
1 princess balloon and matching card (thanks NOD!)
1 new outfit (NOD again, although there is some discussion about the fact that my jeans have bling on them. So 1987. So Dallas.)
Not one, but TWO birthday phone calls, and a card, from my favorite Australian triathlete

whew. I'm exhausted.

(Apparently, somewhere on the Internets is a photo of my butt in the jeans, but I'm too much of a lady to reproduce it here. I have standards, people.)

Yoga kicked that bejeweled butt Sunday night. By the time Monday rolled around, I was ready for work, so I could stop with the partying already. I wisely took Monday off from working out.

Tuesday was spin class in the a.m., and then six hill repeats with my Speed Development Program. You know, when you say "six hill repeats" like that, it sure doesn't sound like much. It doesn't sound like, say, "I just ran up Mt. Kilimanjaro, gave birth, and then flew." But it should sound like that because that's how it felt, for pete's sake.

The hill was .3 of a mile long (I know, I checked with the car odometer). We split into very large groups again and about 30 of us went with one coach, who had us run around a parking lot for a very long time to get "warmed up" (it was an unseasonably 55F), and then jog down to the bottom of a bottomless pit. She then sent us back up the hill according to our 10K paces, slowest to fastest.

It was dark, there was no place to put our stuff, we were on a "sidewalk" in Gaithersburg, Md., where no people have ever actually been SEEN walking. So the sidewalk was full of muck and cracks and bumps and did I mention it was DARK? And that I was going to fall?? And where would we all be then, I ask you. I was in full-on bitch mode, and warned everyone around me. Plus? I had overdressed. And it was starting to rain.

Oy. Vey.

After repeat #1, I was ready to call it quits.

But! I soldiered on, as one does when one doesn't want to embarrass oneself in front of one's peers.

At the top of the hill, everyone waited until everyone was up, and that was a great strategy because a) you got to stuff your lungs down in your body again, and 2) we all cheered for everyone else as they came up.

I have NO IDEA how I made it back up that hill five more times, I just know that I would never have done it by myself. No how, no way.

Oh, and each time we made it down to the bottom, our coach gave us another little tip for running hills, so we had something to look forward to!

Short stride, feet close to ground.
Lean into the hill, from the hips.
Use your arms.
Exhale all the way if you feel you're hyperventilating.
And I had my own little tip: Pretend each trip up was my last! Sadly, I believe I said out loud to my running friend: "Last time up!" and she, sadly, believed me.

Oh well! Joke's on her! HA! (She wasn't laughing.)

Here's how I did, your moment of zen:
#1: 3:10
#2: 3:17
#3: 3:01
#4: 3:11
#5: 3:11
#6: 3:16

Good? Bad? I'm calling good because the feeling I had afterwards was the feeling I imagine I would have if I ran up Mt. Kilimanjaro, gave birth, and then flew.

Top that, I dare you.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Oh Yes She Does

I am so loving these track workouts that I figure you are all as fascinated by the details as I am. (However, on the off chance that I'm, err, wrong about that presumption, you know how to let me know. Just be kind.)

Tonight's track workout:

4 x 1000 (that's 2 1/2 times around the track, 4 times) with 200 recovery
Target pace = 6:40 (threshold pace--whatever that means)

1 mile warmup: 11:43

1st 1000: 6:11 (too fast)

200: 1:33

2nd 1000: 6:22 (closer)

200: 1:30

3rd 1000: 6:37 (better)

200: 1:30

4th 1000: 6:42 (bingo)

200: 1:31

1 mile cooldown: 12:09

I will say that our recovery was amazingly consistent.

Now David, I know that intervals are not supposed to go from fast to slow, but I'm just using my old Timex ironman watch so it's tough to get it right.

I ran with a little group of three tonight (within the larger group of about 100), and they anointed me timekeeper, cuz I was the only one with a watch. I had to keep slowing us down to nail 6:40, which we finally did during our last 1000. I may eat these words later, but this workout seemed a little too easy. I could definitely have run it faster, but I am trying to listen to our coach into who's hands I have placed my running career, and who swears that he knows what he's doing.

Afterwards, a nice bowl of soup at Panera with S. (my first time there, I know, don't mock me), and chocolate!

Aren't I supposed to hate track workouts? So far, they are like a happy drug for me. It's a hill workout next Tuesday. We'll see how happy I am about that.