More Data for Better Living – Swim Stroke Rate

So I know my stroke rate in the pool is slow – usually around 44 spm. I was racing on Sunday and my stroke rate was ~60 spm. I know that a faster stroke rate is better, and it’s definitely better for open water – I hadn’t been aiming for it, I just fell into it. I went back and looked at my previous four races this year. Same deal – my arms always move faster when I’m racing.

I’m much faster in the water when I race and I had been chalking that up solely to the wetsuit but now I’m thinking it’s a combo of wet suit and a higher cadence.

Race Report – Discovery Bay Tri

Well, I set some goals, let’s see how I did.

Discovery Bay Tri – Sprint Saturday, April 22, 2017.

700 Yard Swim – 16 (15.4) Mile Bike – 5k Run

There were family logistics to consider so I didn’t sleep at home, which meant that I didn’t sleep. Not too much of a bother and I was up bright and early. Or really, when my alarm went off I lay in bed and visualized by race for twenty minutes.

Got to the race on time, got checked in and set up. Set up the technical error for later and chatted with fellow racers.  There were quite a few first timers and this was a good race for them! Very small (about 160 registered), flat course, easy water.  I handed our some spare equipment and advice, mostly to wait at the start of the swim and not go off too fast.

“Here comes the sun, little darling…”

As it always does on race day, the time flew by. There are always first timers showing up fifteen minutes before the start like it’s a 5k and they can stroll up. I never know whether to laugh or feel sorry for them. I didn’t feel too nervous until I had to put on my wetsuit and then I started getting butterflies.

The Olympic Race went off at 8 (a very civilized start time) and I got into the water ten minutes later to warm up. I really warmed up, not just paddling around to get used to the temperature, which was a perfect 66 degrees, but really revving up my heart rate a couple of times. Getting out of breath with a few accelerations and then hanging out waiting for the start.

Swim – Goal 17:30 – Race Time – 15:29 – Woo Hoo!!!

We were swimming north, which is great because we never had to sight into the sun. I was nice and warm. I had confidence from my training and I went for it. Not too hard but definitely pushing my pace. I was aggressive at the start and going around the buoy. My sighting was good and I finally figured out how to keep my goggle from fogging up! I could actually see for the whole race and it was awesome.

T1 – Goal 6:00 – Race Time – 4:16. This seems good but let me tell you what happened.

I have a bit of pride around my transitions. So much pride that I kept my bike shoes on my pedals, even though I haven’t practiced getting into them while moving since last May. Yeah. Good T1 time that led to a complete stop 400 yards into the bike to put my damn shoes on. And it was a tiny transition area so even if I had run in the shoes it wouldn’t have cost me much time at all. I lost the forest for the trees right there but I was able to laugh at myself and learn from it.

Bike – Goal – 1:00:00 – 16 MPH   – Race Time 57:06 – 17 MPH

Despite my technical snafu, my bike time was good.  It felt amazing. I was able to laugh off my jackassery and get stuck in. The course was very well marked and volunteers were doing a great job. My handling was not confident as this was my first outdoor ride on my road bike this year. So there are a couple of minutes I could have shaved off with better technical execution.

My effort was steady and strong, with a good cadence. I never got tired. I spent a solid amount of time in the drops – which is something I’m working on improving. There was a woman in my age group who was right in front of me for half the bike. I passed her just after the halfway point but she passed me right back (and then slowed down to the same speed so she just wanted to be in front). We turned east with about four miles to go and I noticed two things. 1) We had a headwind and 2) she hadn’t been in her drops the whole race. I got in my drops, passed her and dropped her. I was going too hard at that point but damn if it didn’t feel good. She was a few seconds behind me coming in to T2 (Spoiler, she didn’t pass me on the run).

T2 – Goal – 2:00 – Race Time – 1:05

Still got it!

Run – Goal – 32:30 – 10:30/mile – Race Time – 33:40 – 10:52

Well – I’m ok with it.  I raced hard. The run was pancake flat with no cover. It was a slog. About a half mile out from transition a newbie triathlete I had been chatting with passed me. I saw that she was in my age group. Ugh. I stuck to my pace. She was about 100 yards in front of me at the turnaround. I thought I could get her.

Last year my age group was six people and I really wanted a podium. I kicked it up just a tiny notch. She wasn’t coming back though. We were both passing people at the same rate. I was hurting. Then I saw her walk to take a drink from her bottle. She started to look tired.

There are two ways you can go at the end of a race. There is the “horses coming back to the barn” surge of speed and there is the “Whew, that’s over with” relaxation and slowing. There was a slight downhill and she didn’t speed up on it. I started pushing harder. Then a tiny up hill to a hairpin turn and the finish chute. I pushed up the hill and turned she was ten yards in front of me.

Well if there’s one thing I can do, it’s sprint forty yards for sixth place! I passed her right before the line and had to bend over to not fall down. I very properly negative split my run and ran so hard at the end I nearly threw up – so a standard day at the office for me.

Total Time – Goal – 1:57:30 – Race Time – 1:51:35

Overall 31/64  Division 9/25  Age Group – 6/11

It’s funny, last time this race was run, that time would have gotten me second in my age group – so I hit the time I wanted.

Super fun day. I would absolutely recommend this race, well organized, well run, would race again.

Onward!

-FH

First Race of the Season!

Woo Hoo!

Discovery Bay Tri – Sprint Saturday, April 22, 2017.

700 Yard Swim – 16 (15.4) Mile Bike – 5k Run

Continuing my two year tradition – this will probably be my first open water swim of the year.  Not exactly setting myself up for success. I may try to get a quick one in this weekend along with some transition practice.

Last year I managed to mount my bike with the shoes on the pedals and get into them while riding (and not knock either myself or anyone else down). I did not manage to get my feet out while riding. I had practiced the maneuver with dry feet. When I tried to take my feet out at the end of the bike leg, the moisture from the swim had stuck the shoes to my feet and I couldn’t get them off. This year I will practice with wet feet and lube my bike shoes so they slip off more easily.

(I don’t do the “flying mount” (shown at :55) or dismount. I run my bike to the mount line and then mount regularly, using my clipped on shoes as pedals until I get some speed, then put my feet in. On the way back my goal is to get my feet out, stop the bike and then dismount regularly. The time savings I get is from not having to run in my bike shoes.)

This is a very small race. Last year in the ten year age group there were six women. I think I have a chance at coming top ten! Actually, I think I have a chance at the podium – so that’s exciting/motivating/scary.

The swim is in a freshwater marina, so no current and a very “honest” swim time. T1 is ~400 yards. The bike and run are dead flat and T2 is short. I’m thinking it will be fast but not super fast. The training plan I’ve been following hasn’t had much in the way of outdoor riding which gives me very little context for what my effort level is going to look like in terms of speed.

I’m going with a conservative prediction on this one.

Swim – 17:30 – 2:30/100y  Swim training has been going quite well. I’ve been able to hold 2:36/100 for 1000 yards and that was moseying along. I’m not giving myself any wetsuit credit or drafting credit. I will be wearing a wetsuit, so this could be much, much faster.

T1 – 6:00 – Big cushion here. I have done a slightly shorter transition in under four minutes but I don’t know the terrain.

Bike – 1:00:00 – 16 MPH  As I said, no idea what my outdoor speed is right now. My last flat bike race was a touch over 17 and that was almost a year ago.

T2 – 2:00 – I haven’t transitioned in 10 months. This could be crap or it could be under a minute.

Run – 32:30 – 10:30/mile – Running has been going ok but I’m not feeling super fast right now. Holding 10:30 will probably actually be really hard and this could be closer to 35.

I’m aiming for fun, fast fun, but mainly fun.

Onward!

 

 

Finally, progress!

Not me y’all, Lake San Antonio!!

Wildflower was cancelled and took the rest of the TriCal season with it, which totally sucks as they have been a bulwark of the independent triathlon scene for a long time. They said that they would return to Wildflower when Lake San Antonio was once again above 20% capacity and they could hold the swim at the Lynch boat ramp.

I’ve been tracking the reservoir levels and they have been dropping, slowly, all year.  Even when the rain started, even when rain fell on the lake, still the level went down. What was going on? Was the ground that dry in the lakebed and watershed that it was all just getting absorbed? Considering how dry it has been for the past five or six years, yeah.

California is in the midst of a massive rain storm and I checked in and yes!!! Lake San Antonio got an inch of rain in one day last week (for non-Californians – that’s a lot) as well as continuing direct rainfall and rain on the watershed. It has gone from 6% full last week to 11% full as of yesterday. That includes an increase in overall depth of more than 12 feet in three days this week and an increase of 1.3 miles in length. If you have been to Lake San Antonio that will mean a lot to you, as the actual lake has been really, really far from the Transition/Finish Line/Festival Area for years.

Now we all now that this was just an elaborate ploy to keep Jesse Thomas from 7-peating but as soon as Wildflower is back, I will be there and I hope you will too.

-FH

Unplanned Racing What?? – Tilden Tough Ten Race Report

I plan my race year. The whole thing, January to November, training and racing are plotted out.

This year, I planned everything, including my first Long Course (Half Iron-esque) race. Good times!

Then my half iron got cancelled. Then I needed to pick another race to use that reg fee for. New stress, new pressure. Total meltdown. Crazy work project. No training. Nada.

So how does a girl carry forward her amazing Wildflower fitness?  She’s sees an e-mail that the really fun race she couldn’t fit into her schedule still has open spots. It’s Friday, race is Sunday.

She goes. Same day registration is open!  She pays. She gets a bib and she wonders (in the third person because that’s how she is rolling today) “If I can complete a hard International Distance triathlon, does that fitness carry over to being able to run 10 miles at a decent clip?”

Fun facts! When you’re a triathlete, you get used to showing up 1-3 hours before your start time to get everything situated. I showed up 1:15 before race start. I was so early the volunteers weren’t there yet . Got great parking and then had nothing to do for ages. Such a different scene than I am used to.

Race plan was simple: Go out first mile in zone 2, then stick it in zone three for the duration. Goal: 2 hours.

It was very fun.  No pressure, just a fun race, great weather.  I hooked up with a single serving friend about a half mile in who was going at my pace.  He was running a bit faster than I had planned to but sticking with him kept me moving well.  We chatted and ran and all was right in the world.

He moved off at mile four and a half (and put fifteen minutes into me over 5.5 miles – brother was moving!) and I trucked down to the turnaround.

The course is out and back. At mile four you turn off the paved path onto a fire road. There is a small climb and then you plunge down a steep, sandy slope that had my heart beat well above threshold. There’s a flatter section, then you descend again, down a rough fire road. You spend a half mile going straight downhill knowing that once you hit the turnaround you have to go directly back the way you came.

I kept it easy after the turn around.  A runner came up on me wearing a Wildflower shirt, so we chatted about how the uphill was like Beach. He passed me right as we came back to the paved section. I wasn’t marking the time, I was running on effort.  I heard a woman running behind say that she wanted to make it in two hours and she was just on pace. I checked my watch and thought “Oh shit, I need to get on that if I’m going to make two hours!”

I hit two miles to go with exactly 24 minutes left and my  heart rate had been solidly in zone 4 for a least a mile. That was scary for me. I was expecting a blow up or a throw up. I got stuck in and committed fully to my two hour goal. Time for…

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I have never run so hard for so long. If I had planned it I would not have written “After the turn around, peg your heart rate in Zone 4 keep it there no matter how much you are hurting.” It worked though. I was keeping it under twelve minutes a mile. I passed my Wildflower friend when he stopped to walk an aid station (handheld water bottle, for the win).

I took a short walk break on the last hill and pushed up to the finish.  Throughout the race, the miles had been spray painted on the paved path.  As I crested the last hill on the ground it said “9.9 GO!!” Given that the end of this race tends to sneak up on you and I often miss the kick, I really appreciated it. It’s the little touches.

I did indeed “GO!!” and finished with about a minute to spare on my two hour goal.

A fantastic, if unplanned, day at the office.

-fh

Race Report – The Wildflower Fantastic Four

I am sooo sunburnt, I have the Evan Borders style whale tail sunburn and my shoulders are on fire. How did I get this way? It all started long ago, on Friday (April 29)….

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The husbeast and I packed up a whole bunch of crap & the Little Miss and traipsed down to Lake San Antonio for the Wildflower Triathlons.

I was set for the Olympic Distance race, on Sunday, which meant that we had plenty of time to get the lay of the land. Friday we settled in. Sam from OTC had laid claim to a goodly camping area that was very close to a bathroom. We checked out the festival/finish line area, watched the pro interviews (yay, Bob Babbit!), got the last beer served of the night, and generally tried to chill out. Pip had trouble settling down in the RV (did I mention my dad bought an RV? It’s an ok thing. I appreciated the bed, for sure). It wasn’t the best night of sleep ever, but it was alright.

Saturday was more chilling.  When I camp, I tend to go to bed around sunset and get up with the sun so I was up early. Burned pancakes on Paula’s super hot propane camp stove (still delicious), drank not too much coffee, and went to watch the Long Course race finish.

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Race Family Robinson

 

Now, I know this is not common, but I am a fan of triathlon. I know the pros, I follow some of them, I play fantasy triathlon and generally get super duper excited about the people who do this for a living.

Jesse Thomas won his sixth Wildflower Long Course in a row. Crazy sauce considering he broke his foot doing number three, couldn’t race for like, a year, came back just in time to win number four. It really is the Jesse Thomas Invitational.  Terenzo Bozzone, the course record holder came in second, making it exciting.

 

Liz Lyles repeated her win on the women’s side, Laurel Wassner came in second (at the wonderful age of 41),  and SF Bay Area local favorite Emily Cocks came in third.

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Liz Lyles repeated as champion, and completely blanked me on the high five.

I got some high fives and some videos and went back up to camp to chill. It was not chill.  I got race tires, thinner and slicker than my commute tires and wanted to put them on my wheels before I checked my bike in, Saturday night. I could not get my old tires off, or my new tires on, to save my damn life.

I do not react well to stress.  I was feeling time pressure, there being only two and a half hours left to get my bike checked in (which I could also do in the morning, so this was an overreaction). I was snappy. I broke somewhere between three and five tire levers getting the new tires on. ARGH!!!  Evan came to the rescue with both tire levers sacrificed and advice well given.  The new tires were applied and my stress level returned to manageable levels.

I was very afraid of riding down Lynch Hill. I’m still building my descending skills on the bike.  I grabbed my transition bag and rode down to familiarize myself with the hill.  And it was really not bad at all, especially compared to coming down Snake. The Bay Area really is one of the best places in the world to train.  Apart from having altitude to sleep in and extreme weather, we have such a variety of terrain that you can train for anything.

Fears assuaged, I set up my T2 and racked my back.  There was a guy there who was helping someone else set up. He opined that every single other person who had set up and racked their bike and set up their transition wrong. Every, single, other person had done it wrong and he knew the right way. Whew! I needed that little laugh. Got my stuff set up safely under my back tire and caught the shuttle back to the campsite.

wrong

My dad and Jon collaborated to get the shower in the RV working so I got my own, private, very, very, very hot shower (oh god, I really nearly burned myself severely) before bed. There was a moment when we figure out that the switch to turn the water pump wan’t on, we flipped it and I heard water running. It was the bathroom sink, where all my race morning gear was, getting water poured on it. As my dad looked chagrined I yelled out “You’re lucky I’m a triathlete and it’s all designed to get wet!”

Chaos over. Actually got the little lady off to sleep in a reasonable amount of time, set my alarm for 5 AM and got perhaps my best night before the race sleep ever.

I got up to use the bathroom around 1:30 AM.  As I walked out, I could see, even without my glasses, the amazing number of stars in the sky.  I’m a city girl, so big constellations are all I’m used to. As I stared up I saw a shooting star.  I took it as a good sign. Right before I got back to sleep a coyote started howling close by.  It was very cool, especially given I wasn’t in a tent and I was very sure it couldn’t get at me.

 Let’s get to race day!

I set some reasonable goals and I meant to stick to them.

Up on time  (Pro Tip – start your day with success).

Eat the food, put on the clothes, forget to put on sunblock and burn massively later. Check, Check, Check. Hang out and chat with the Club, watch the Sprint racers leave hours before me.

I got on the shuttle with Erin and Sarah, two mighty athletes who took top spots in our age group. I chatted with a lovely woman name Juliette on the bus as we drove to Harris. Then we waited for the porta potties for an hour. No joke, no exaggeration. But there was nothing else to do.  It turned out that four of the eight porta johns had the indicator stuck on red and were empty. One racer in an orange vest was a hero and went through the whole bank of them knocking and getting them back in rotation.  She was a hero of our tribe.

National Anthem, Sprint Race Start!! I walked down to my T1A spot. The sprint racers were all at the top of the boat ramp, which is reallllllllly steep and scored concrete – fun for running in bare feet! The Olympic distance racers were down by the water and your truly was less than fifty feet from the swim exit. Score!!

I set up my shoes and hat and saw a bunch of OTCers come out of the water, including Lydia.  I screamed at her and slapped her on the wetsuit clad butt. Because that’s what you do when you want to encourage someone to do their best. I went back up the ramp for one more bathroom visit. Going up and down the ramp was a pretty good warm up!  I got body marking and then went down to get my wetsuit on. It was very warm in the sun, clad in black rubber.  My zipper stuck but Dio Ann’s boyfriend Eric was there and got me zipped up in time. Go Team!

Swim  – I hadn’t done any open water in six months, so I knew that was going to be dicey. We got a couple of minutes to warm up, I did a few strokes of butterfly and then got ready to go. It was rough. I had a lot of panic and my goggles fogged very badly.  I don’t have prescription goggles so I was flying blind for a lot of the swim.  There wasn’t too much contact, I was afraid of it though. I did a lot better with sighting on the way back from the turn. There was some boat wake that had me feeling seasick which I solved by sighting every stroke – first time for everything.  I was super happy to be done, it was a slow swim and my heart was screaming at me as I came out of the water.

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I do not feel particularly well at this point in the race.

Evidence of my improving sighting skills. 

Swim Time – 42:49 2:36/100 yd  That’s actually a solid time for me. And here’s a challenge of racing in a later wave. You’re going faster than a lot of people but since they left somewhere between five and forty minutes before you, you’ll never see them, you won’t pass them in the back half of the run and get that little bump. You race on your own and find out who you beat later.

T1A felt slow.  I hadn’t lubed up my forearms or forelegs and my suit wouldn’t slide off.  The angle of teh ramp was steep and I had to sit down to get the suit off.  I never sit down in transition. I felt like I was flailing and failing and generally the slowest T1A of everyone.  My transitions are my pride and joy and there I was, royally screwing up. The results say that yes, my transition was 4:58. It was also the third fastest in my age group and 204 fastest overall. Imagine how well I can do if I practice this!

T1A Run -26:03 (11:45/mi) this is the bit that people are wary of. You run 2.2 miles from the water to your bike. HTFU people. You’re a triathlete and somehow you don’t want to run? I didn’t mind when I signed up and I actually really liked it. I did have to duck into some bushes and risk a penalty. I also surprised Sam as he came around a corner to find me peeing. that’s what stories are made of! I kept to my overall Zone 3 heart rate target and chugged from Harris to Lynch.  I was very glad I had my hat for the first run. The sun was out and there was no cover at all. There were college kids (have I mentioned the amazing volunteers from Cal Poly SLO? These kids brought so much energy all damn weekend. Rock Stars) out cheering.  As I ran by a couple I shouted that I wanted Darth Vader’s theme from Star Wars.  They were confused for a second and then started belting out “Daa Daa Daa, du de daa, du de daaa!” with gusto.

 

Easy Peasy

 

Bike – 2:03:47 12.05 mph

I am very content with this time for the bike. I set in Zone 3 on the heart rate and had no heads up speedometer.  I think that might have frustrated me, so it’s a good thing.  The bonus of running for 26 minutes is that, unlike the Long Course where you get on the bike and have a mile or so to settle in before you hit a big ass hill, the Olympic gives you a couple of hundred yards before you’re chugging up Lynch at 13%. I climb much better on warm legs.  I transitioned and ran out on my bike shoes.  I realized as I went to mount that my bike was in too high a gear and I couldn’t get in on the tiny incline at the mount line. I sucked it up and managed to get in and not fall down, so, yay for me! (Spoiler, I didn’t fall all day!).

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I knew my family were waiting for me at the top of Lynch. I sat in and kept it going easy.  I joked with the people who passed me.  I saw the guy from Every Man Jack walking his bike down the hill.  He needed a tube.  He would pass me at about mile 14 on the bike in full #beastmode. I got to the top and there was my dad, my husbeast and my little falcon. I waved to them and rode on.

I overhydrated.  I was drinking to time and not thirst and I ended up using the bathroom twice during the bike.  Not _on_ the bike (for an Oly, no no no). I stopped at the aid station that was halfway on the out and back section.  As I popped out to leave I said “When I come back I want you to play the Imperial March from Star Wars for me!”

I was rolling along, trusting my training, keeping the effort even. Feeling pretty much totally amazing. There were a couple of riders I was in touch with the whole ride. A few from earlier waves that I passed. More super fun volunteers, and I came back to the midway aid station, to once again use the porta pottie. As I pulled in I heard “She’s back!” “Wait, wait, play it while she rides off!” “What’s your name?”

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Say my name!!!

These glorious kids had gotten the Imperial March on MP3 and as I rode off the blasted it out of the speakers while they yelled “Rachel!Rachel! Rachel!” So, that was pretty awesome.

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Yes, I do this on the bike. Yes, I am a huge dork. One time Mark Allen threw me a shaka and I will do this forever and ever.

I was getting tired as the bike wound down. My shorts are only good for up to an Oly and I was feeling it, especially as the hills had my sitting and grinding it out a lot of the time. I passed the fam again at the top of Lynch and safely and happily descended to T2.

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They are on the left, under the tree, cheering wildly.

T2 1:38 – Faster than five pros from the day before. Enough said.

Run – 1:22:07 (this includes the T1A run time)

I went off feeling the hills in my legs. Frankly, I went off feeling like ass. It was hot. But my heart rate was on point and there was less than an hour to go. The first mile was wonderfully shaded and a bit rolling – just right to get the legs into gear. Within that mile I passed a women I had been chasing for the whole bike. Every time I passed the college kids cheering or watering, I would yell pop music lyrics at them, this got a good response. “Shine bright like a diamond” is my standard (lifted from watching The Ginger Runner’s videos – thank you amazing ultra running dude).

I took my own handheld with water – if you do this race, do this.  It is really hot and the aid stations are plentiful but being able to drink whenever I wanted was a plus. Beach Hill was not a plus. I walked it, once again with the heart rate. A woman passed me running – #lifegoals – and another woman was just in front of me the whole climb. I stayed on it. For long efforts, I put my head down and think “it takes as long as it takes.”

We crested the hill and I passed the racer I had been chasing a couple hundred yards later – her taped up knee wasn’t doing well with the downhill. Then there was a dusty, sunny mile from the top of Beach to the top of Lynch. I couldn’t hold my heart rate up anymore. I couldn’t run. I saw racers in front of me trudging and looking done and I would run again just so I didn’t look that defeated. I took a moment to feel that it was really hard and that I was 100% alive. I came into the last water stop next to one of those walkers. I shouted ahead “One water in my hand, two on my head” it got a lackluster response and there were ten kids sitting in the shade so I shouted out “Hey, what does a woman need to do to get some head around here?!”  Well, yelling that got me about ten cups of water on my head and the admiration of the racer behind me as he said “That was awesome!”

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I was walking before and after this photo was taken.

Then it was down Lynch Hill. Thank godtopus. I finish most of my runs at home with a mile downhill so there were no issues with letting myself get down the hill with a quick easy cadence. It’s quite nice, to finish down that hill.  Lots of time to let the suffering go and really begin to let the achievement start to soak in. Right at the bottom is the finish chute which I had all to myself. Even though there weren’t many people cheering, it felt like a lot.  I gave lots of high fives and the photographer managed to catch this one.

The only one that matters
The only one that matters

 

As I came down the chute, the kick I didn’t think I had came and I was cruising along.  I heard that Julie Moss was one of the commentators and I thought “Wow, I want to get a pic with her!” Then I heard her call out “Rachel Tibbetts, Golden Gate Tri Club!”

Umm – I signaled that that was incorrect and she said “Oakland Tri Club!” as I came home. More wonderful volunteers draped me in a cold towel (I could feel my skin cooking, the burn was going to be bad), got my timing chip off and there was Rich, my Club president to give me my medal.

“How was it?” he asked.

“Brutal. Legendary. Amazing” I answered.

done

Then Julie shouted down from the booth that they wanted to give me something for getting my club wrong. I pointed to her and said “I want a picture with you, because you’re a legend.” Two minutes later…

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Yep, that’s me and Julie Moss!!!

 

In the documentary about the Barkley Marathons (which you should watch right after you finish reading this), Lazarus Lake says there is no true achievement without the real possibility of failure. That made Wildflower mean something. If you’re going to avoid this race don’t avoid murky water, or a non-standard format, avoid it because there is nowhere to hide. If you haven’t trained, if you aren’t committed, Wildflower will kick the ever loving shit out of you. It’ll do that if you are prepared, it just won’t suck as much.

 

If you haven’t been to Wildflower here are a couple of pieces of info/advice

-Go to Wildflower – organized, well supported, well marked, amazing energy. The course is really hard and out of the ordinary, step up to the challenge, you will not be sorry.

-Sunblock, hats, water.

-Yep, the hill is big. Learn the shuttle schedule and leave plenty of time to get things done.

-Leather shoes or boots. The foxtails get into everything.

-Don’t leave Evan or Sam in charge of the campfire.

A+ absolutely would race again.

-fh

P.S. Evan and Dio-Ann – you’ll get your new tire levers the next time I see you, thanks again!

P.P.S. Yes, this hurt, but every time it hurt I smiled because it was very much worth it.

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The End

 

Let’s make some reasonable goals!

Wildflower  cometh, and with it the massive amounts of anxiety that can only be dealt with by obsessively playing with triathlon calculators and training data to come up with a a decently realistic set of race goals.

I took too long and too off an off season.  I didn’t take it easy and do some running, biking, swimming and other fun things. I did fuck all for like two months. So I’m slower than last year. Sigh, so annoying but I did it to myself.

I can think about my long term goals, things like “Do a 5k under thirty minutes!” and “Do an Olympic tri in three hours!” but those are to be worked at for years. Those are goals where the process must be savoured, cuz I’m gonna be working on that shit for aaaagggggeeeesssss……..

I can think about my comparative goals. I always compare my speed to the pros on the ITU/Olympic circuit. I try to go half as fast as they do.

For instance, Carolina Routier swam 1500 meters in Abu Dhabi on March 5, 2016 in 18:48 which is just under 1:15/100 meters. I want to swim the swim at Wildflower in 37:36 2:30/100m twice her time. This goal is a bit tricky when you’ve got either tide or current at play (Oakland Triathlon was against the flood tide last year, thus, slow as dirt swim).

Wildflower is in a lake, so it should be relatively fast. There is no pro field in the race I am doing. The best women’s swim time last year was 19:12 for a 38:24 or 2:20/100 y.  I think I can do that! When I do pull buoy sets I can hold 2:22 easily so I’m going to set 38:24 as the goal for the swim.

Last year’s best bike time was 1:17:19 19.2 mph.  That’s pretty slow, so the hills are a big impact.

And I have no idea how fast I am right now, in any capacity, on the bike.  I do my very hard bike work on the trainer – which is great for hitting power targets and watching fun videos. It sucks for translating into road speed. You can’t take your bike wheel speed because the trainer resistance is very different from pedaling on the road.

I really want to average 16 mph because that’s about what I did for my last Oly tri. Averaging 16 mph on this course would actually make me faster than I was on the flat course from last year. I have been training really hard and I raced that race too easy.

and the run. Is split into two parts. Due to the drought, when we come out of the water, we have to run 2.2 miles to our bikes. After we bike, then we run the other 4 miles. So, ummm, how the hell do you plan the pace?

Heart rate! If I am planning to race for 3:30 – 4:00 then I should be staying in the high zone 3, low zone 4 heart rate zones. That’s it, just forget about pace and focus on effort.  Yeah, I’d like to do the run in something like 1:10 – 1:15 but it’s hilly and it’s going to be hot so I have no idea if that’s realistic in any way.

I should stop bloody worrying about speed and focus on racing at the right intensity so I don’t blow myself up trying to hit an unrealistic pace target. Which means ignore just about everything I’ve written so far (except the swim part, that’s still valid).

My goal for Wildflower is to race in Zone 3 to low Zone 4 for the entire bike and run.  That means not going too hard on the uphills and pushing the downhills.

Effort, effort, effort. Sounds like a triathlon, actually.

-fh

Lake San Antonio Update 2/15/16

In our last Episode of “Obsessing over race venues…”

January 27th, 2016 – “If water levels in Lake San Antonio get above 20%, the Wildflower Triathlon Swim start will move back to Lynch. (No two mile run to your bike) Current level is 3%. The required storage is 70,000 Acre Feet of water. Current level is 10,659 acre feet (up from 10355 at the beginning of the week +304 acre feet). 59,341 acre feet to go!! (Yes, I check this.) ‪#‎ElNinoforPresident‬!”

 

The numbers as of 2/12/16

Update – required storage is 67,000 Acre feet, not 70,000 as written above.

Current level is 3% – 11,598

To Go to Swim at Lynch – 55,402

Increase since 1/24/16 – 1,243

Days until Wildflower – 75

Average increase in acre feet required per day to meet 20% by race day – 738.69

Next rainfall forecast – 2/17/16.

(All Data from the Monterey County Water Resources Agency here.)

Race Report – Beat the Blerch Half Marathon

Beat the Blerch Sacramento Half Marathon – November 14, 2015

I went into this race with a bit of a plan.  A set of numbers really.

2:37 – PR

163-173 – Zone 3 Heart Rate

2:25 – Goal Time (remember this)

The race start time was humane, almost leisurely, at 9AM. I got to the venue two hours before because my homie who was running the full (which started at 8AM) had picked up my packet for me. She even got my bib signed by The Oatmeal! Cheryl is the best and you should run with her.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

The day of the race was the day of the cold snap! We have two seasons in California – warmer and drier and then sometime in November it’s colder and wetter. The drop is 20-30 degrees in a matter of days. No easing into fall, just, BAM, it’s colder now!

Cheryl bought me gloves, because she is the best ever. Gloves I was loving as I strolled around Raley Field – the race venue, while it was 45 degrees waiting for my packet. Looking back , the wandering was good – got me a bit warm, got my nerves out, but stupid. My car was warm!!

I got in a nice little jog with some faster work to get my heart rate up, dumped my jacket and gloves in the car and got ready to rumble.

Bright blue capris on the right.
Bright blue capris on the center right.

For the first little bit the lure of pace was strong, but I held tight to heart rate. I tried to keep it right about 169, not too high, not too low, just even effort. The first mile was the longest. After that it got easier, just run, check heart rate, adjust – rinse and repeat. I took a gel every 30 minutes and carried my own bottle. I started with Gu Brew (Lemon Tea flavour is the bomb) for calories and electrolytes. After that ran I out I switched to water.

There were protestors, as this was the morning after the Paris shootings. Anti-refugee protesters. Lovely. I yelled at them, they yelled at me, I flipped them off and ran away. Literally.  (That’s for you KJ!)

The miles went by so easily, just staying in the Zone, talking to other racers, thanking traffic control and volunteers. They would have gone by even more easily if there had been any porta potties on the course! I talked to the organizers later and there had been a miscommunication so the porta potties were not delivered correctly. I spent mile 3 through mile 10 needing to pee. Right at mile 10 there was a park bathroom right on the course. Good timing to drop some weight and push the effort up for the last three miles.

(Look at that beautiful bastard!)

(And yes, even if your Garmin says it was only 12.8 it was 13.1. Can you say lots of curves and tree cover? Also, the course was lovely and I highly recommend it. Lots of turns broke it up mentally, lots of tree cover, good water stops, well stocked, great swag. A – would race again.)

After my pee break I bumped up into Zone 4. I saw my buddy Noodle at her water stop, high fived her and settled in for a tempo run to the finish.  Now, I didn’t get much faster, but it was the hilliest part of the very flat course. We were going through multiple underpasses and I maintained my speed through the uphills. A half mile before the finish was a wooden boardwalk that would have sucked a lot more if I didn’t run trails.

All through the race I had been near two women running with donuts around their waists like life preservers. The donuts beat me man. Someday redemption will be mine! As we came to the finish they had way more kick that I did.  The half marathon, the full marathon, the 10K were all together at this point. The marathoners finishing at this point were outpacing us all, and I got the nice jolt of passing a crap ton of slower 10K-ers to get me through the last bit. I did manage a bit of a kick on the last 100 yards and passed one person right on the line.

Time?? 2:24:43

Oh be still, my anal retentive heart!! If there is one thing I love more than going faster than I thought I could, it’s hitting my mark over a long distance. It also shows me that the online race time estimator that I used was spot on.  The more than 12-minute PR? Also super dope!!

A great day! Great conditions, good training and fueling, good race organization, and most importantly, spot on race execution courtesy of yours truly.

-fh

Follow your heart…

..Rate Monitor

Sunday was my test race to set my goal time for the Beat the Blerch Half Marathon on November 14. I went out for the LMJS Fourth Sunday run and did the 10k or two loops around Lake Merritt.

10k – 1:04:45 – PR!!

I learned-

-Base goal race times on current fitness, not last spring’s fitness or a bucket list goal time.

I wanted to race 10k in an hour. I was watching the clock during lap one of the lake, trying to keep in a time range. I passed two women in the first mile – they were probably running half the distance I was and who gives a shit if you pass people in the first mile of a race that’s more than a mile long?

Looks like we got a badass over here!
Looks like we got a badass over here!

I was so worried about not being on pace for that goal that I went out too fast and then I got tense worrying about being too slow and then I got nervous about not feeling good on the second lap of the lake. I was a mess dudes, a mess.

 

-Yes, I can run far.

I seem to learn this one and then forget it over and over. I am still afraid in my deepest heart that I just can’t finish. Not fast or anything, I am worried that I literally will not be able to finish the distance. It’s rooted in the fact that my second race ever was a frickin’ marathon and I was genuinely afraid of not finishing. Ten years on from that and a lot of miles later I need to learn that I’m not gonna crack on a 6.2 miler. I only managed to relax and let the race come to me after 4 miles.

relax

 

-Running by effort is way more effective than running by pace.

Lap one – my heart rate was all over the map. Lap two, when I gave up on hitting an hour and focused solely on keeping my heart rate in zone 4 – super even and consistent. The other reason my heart rate wasn’t consistent was that…

-I need to warm up.

I have two warm up levels. One comes after about fifteen minutes of warm up, the other after forty five minutes. My heart rate isn’t “actual” until I’ve been going for a while and the engine is nice and warm.  A few factors were at play on Sunday – mainly that the Peanut was racing! I was distracted and didn’t set myself up to have a proper warm up. I got in a bit of a jog but nothing close to what has been successful for me in the past.

This was worth not getting a full warm up.
This was worth not getting a full warm up.

-I’m going to be fine for my A race…

This race wasn’t super perfect, no biggie. It wasn’t an A race, I didn’t taper at all (speed intervals on Friday) I didn’t fuel aggressively, and I haven’t been training specifically for this distance.

-…If I stick to the plan

The race time predictors I am looking at are telling me that – based on this race – I should be able to run my half marathon in 2:20 to 2:24.  The slower end of the range would be a 13 minute PR. I will be smart! I will run based on my current fitness level, I will run based on level of effort and not speed. I will be patient but not overly conservative.

and I’ll be perfectly happy if I come in at 2:19 😛

-fh