Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sticking A Fork In It

As I mentioned in my last post, the countdown is on until my big race in Sweden. I've had this race on my calendar for over a year now, since I qualified at USAT Long Course Nationals in Grand Rapids last June. The days in between have since been filled with hours of staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool, biking around Hains Point (and on the trainer...oh the trainer), and running routes that confirm beyond a doubt why my neighborhood is called Hillcrest. But other than the fact it's almost June 27 and I'd better be ready, there are some other telltale signs.

  • I complain about the taper. After a long build of 15-18 hour weeks, dropping down to just 9 hours should feel like I'm on vacation. But yet I still find myself waking up at 4:30 for a 90 minute brick before work. What gives? (Granted, I don't also have a workout after work, but still...)
  • Phantom pains. Everywhere. Did my knee just pop? What's going on with my shoulder? Are these shoes giving me blisters? I know they aren't real but they still get me every. Single. Time. Luckily, I have a (not so) secret weapon...
  • Therapy. I don't mean a shrink and a couch. Before every race, I have an appointment at Rose Physical Therapy for Active Release Technique (ART). Unlike a massage, where you just lie there and the masseuse rubs oil on your back, ART works to identify and treat areas where the muscle tissue is impacting proper range of motion or causing pain--in other words, why my shoulders feel like they have pebbles in them. The therapist uses her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness, and (lack of) movement in my muscles, fascia, tendons, and ligaments. Then, we work together to get things running smoothly again. For example, the PT may put her fingers on my rotator cuff and ask me to stretch out my arm and give the thumbs up sign. Easy, right? And wow does it work! Because the therapists at Rose are also athletes (Holli and Sydney are triathletes, in fact), they know to target exactly where I need it. Plus, it's a great opportunity for me to spend an hour talking about the race and getting psyched up for it! 
  • Social Life! Well, somewhat. I try to use the extra time in my schedule to catch up with friends whom I don't always see during the long training weeks. Did you know that there's more to life than swimming, biking, running, and consuming enormous quantities of food? Plus, this serves as a nice distraction from the phantom taper pains. And speaking of distractions...
  • Voices in my head. Actually, this is a good thing. Starting with my first half Ironman in 2012, I've asked friends and family to keep me company during long races. This will be no exception. Please take a minute to fill out this form, in which you include your name, choose a mile of my race (trust me, there will be plenty), and give me a fun distraction or thought to share with you. I'll be happy to return the favor! 
So that's me. How do you know you're ready to race?

As always, thanks to Rose Physical Therapy and LUNA Bars for getting me race ready, as well as my family and friends for all the support. And beer. And ice cream. 

Ready to race!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Perfect Is the Enemy of Good

Since my last update in February, I have written some fantastic blog posts: how to ride the bike trainer at 5 AM on a dark Tuesday and not feel too sorry for yourself, great running routes in DC, how to [not] race a half ironman in April when the weather is 50 degrees warmer than you've been training in, etc. But I wrote them all in my head and never had the proper time or energy to capture them here. So rather than having a series of awesome blog posts to amuse and inspire my worldwide fan base extended network parents, I have a blank space and a lot of guilt. (No golf clubs were harmed, however.) 

So let's try something different: a quickie. Here's the 90 second version of the past few months. 

  • Winter. Yikes. Thank goodness for Trainer Road + Wahoo Kickr (create a workout ahead of time and the trainer adjusts the resistance so I just pedal mindlessly until my legs fall off). Calculating 95% of FTP for 1:30 intervals is just not going to happen at 5 AM. Also, I'm lucky enough to have similarly crazy friends who are also training at that hour, so we entertained each other by texting animated animal gifs and recommending shows on Netflix. 
Welcome to my winter.

  • DC Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon: Why did I ever think this was a good idea? 40s. Pouring. My timing chip fell off so I somehow did a 5k in 45 minutes but a 10k in 25 (total). Careful, runners--there seems to be a space-time vortex somewhere on the Rock Creek Parkway. On the plus side, a hot shower after suffering mild hypothermia is pretty incredible. 
  • Spring #1: I got to escape DC's never-ending winter at the end of March for the LUNA Chix Summit in Berkeley. For three days, the entire extended LUNA family--from professional triathletes and mountain bikers to sponsored amateurs (including myself) to the running/cycling/triathlon clubs across the country--all gathered near the Clif bar headquarters to eat, run, bike, learn...and eat some more. I think I came home with at least 50 Clif and LUNA bars stuffed into my suitcase. That weekend deserves its own post so stay tuned.
I made some in California.
  • Summer #1: DC may have still been trying to hang on to winter, but it was early April and therefore time to start my race season. In Florida. Sigh. "At least it's not Panama in February" was my spurious logic when I signed up in the fall. I think this race can best be summarized by the following numbers:
    • 50: The difference in temperature, in degrees fahrenheit, between DC and Florida
    • 46: The one-way distance, in miles, between Orlando (where I thought the race was/where my extended family lives) and where the race was actually located (Haines City)
    • 10: The number of gears my borrowed race wheels were designed to hold
    • 0: The number of gears present on the wheels when I picked them up (lesson learned: the cyclist is expected to add their own cassette to borrowed wheels)
    • 882: Number of watts my power meter said I pushed on the bike course. This is incorrect.
    • 0: Number of beats per minute my heart rate strap said I was expending on the bike course. This is also incorrect. 
    • 60 and 4: Respectively, the number of minutes and adults required to disassemble and pack my bike after the race.
    • 0: Desire I have to do that race again. 
Not pictured: all the seagrass, salt, and mud that accumulated during the race

  • Spring #2: DC finally flirted with spring in May. It was nice. 
This happened.
  • Summer #2: And then DC decided that sweltering heat and humidity are more fun. Yay. 
And that leads us to today, where it was "feels like 90" for my 80 minute run at 8 AM. However, I'm not long for this town or this weather. In under a week, I'll be en route to Sweden for the ITU Long Distance World Championships

Me dress fancy one day.

As always, thanks to my fantastic family and friends, as well as sponsors Rose Physical Therapy and LUNA Bars

Thanks to Florida, I now have a Rose PT temp tattoo tanline!