Monday, May 19, 2008

A dry Gear West Duathlon

What a day! Spring in MN and it's been dry for a number of days leading up to this trail run duathlon. Conditions were about perfect.... the wind got old out there on the bike. I think it shifted a couple times? Ever had that? You're going one direction and you swear it is a head wind and can't wait to turn and there it is....more wind! OMG!

Alarm goes off at 5 am and Payton thinks it's another day of going to work... unfortunately she sees us packing up other goods and gets a little excited/nervous. "Am I really missing another event?" She loves the socialization and is a true kid magnet. Even tho we weren't both racing, I was and Erik was taking picture for Yndecam, Payton could not go to this one. She whimpered as we left. Poor thing! I always feel so bad not taking her - especially tri's where she can be running in shallow water and fetching sticks.

Anyway.... get to race site and there is the buzz in the air. It was almost the who's who of MN at this event. This race is part of the Very popular Midwest Multisport race series; it brings out the local Pros to newbies all to in venue. Jan, Kevin, Trent and all of the GW stores staff have always done an awesome job with this race. I've never heard a story of anybody getting lost or off course. (Love the flowers guiding the running path - what personality). Thank you to all the volunteers for making it a safe event.

Toeing the line was wave 1 "competitive wave". Umm who's not competitive? I think half the participants went in this wave. Way too congested out there. (Hint: I hope next year they do a competitive men's wave and a competitive women's wave.) For a race that has 75% of the run on a narrow mowed trail, bottle necks are frequent and challenging. A solid group of us were running about 1.5 miles into it and fellow GW elite studette Becky Youngberg was about 4-5 people in front of me when her race belt came loose and fell off. She noticed the slip a few steps later and turned around. I approached, picked it up in stride, had a quick hand off and she was back off and running really strong. It's great to have Becky back racing after taking 2006 off for starting a family. It was very fun as we kept swiftly moving thru this course still somewhat jockeying for position.... she thanked me for picking up her belt and we exchanged some kind and motivating words. I didn't think twice about the gesture and would hope that most people would do the similar.

The bike was interesting as I experienced a mechanical then mental challenge, is my rear break rubbing? the first third of the bike is against the wind, so it's really hard to tell what the heck is going on ... is it the engine, wheels or just conditions. just a couple miles in and we have our first quick out of the saddle hill climb. I eagerly pop up only to hear the first of several significant RUB.... RUB... CRAP! for real? Adorable Erik is on this hill taking beautiful photos and cheering loud. I grunt out MECHANICAL and proceed to say that my brakes are rubbing. He encouraged me to hop off at the top and get it corrected. GREAT! so I figure this short stop could help big for the rest of the way to go. there was space btwn both brakes - What was going on? so I get back on and work to get back on track. I start to realize that I only hear it on the quick out of the saddle hill climbs.

2nd run - trails historically full of character by this point -were still in tact thanks to our dry May. I leave T2 flat footed, with Gumby legs and do my best to find my lower appendeges and get this baby over with. Soon enough the roughly 3 miles are done. I felt like a slug, but gave it my all. thought I finished 4th overall, but a gal from wave 2-3 squeaked in to edge out 4th and I bumped to 5th.

One thing that is important to me when I race is to keep a positive racing spirit. I'm a true believer that attitudes are contagious and positive attitudes create positive energy. I don't want to be a race day curmudgeon (and hope I never would be) or an excuse maker. We've all either witnessed it or have been there ourselves, recognized it and corrected it knowing that releasing it in public is not in our character. Besides attitude on race day, I always take time to reflect on the race... what went right and... what went not so ideal and what was done and what could be prevented. I stopped at Gear west on my way back home and had my bike checked for a couple areas of rubbing. TK was there with top notch service (Thank you!!). He promptly came up when called from the busy basement, took my bike out for a quick spin and diagnosed a couple things. My rear hub was loose causing the rubbing when the wheel would go from side to side going up the hill. And thought my bearing between the crankset was probably dirty and rubbing. he fixed the 808 and with discussion changed out to an FSA ceramic bearing. We'll test things out at Black Dog on Wed. Wahooo!

Later that day E and I enjoyed a the great sunny day at our favorite home depot.... picked up lots of flowers to line the deck, took Payton for a walk and enjoyed some nice social time with a small gathering at Paul Phillips house (photographer extraordinaire).

Congratulations to all racers for opening up a great start to the season.

Enjoy spring!


Sunday, May 11, 2008

New Month = VO2 max x 3

I love the month of May... May flowers, longer days, people come out of their homes and we athletes are off our treadmills and trainers (most of the time). Spring is also the launch of duathlon and triathlon season. This past week was where we put the training vo2 max efforts to the test.

For the past 4 years I have done the Black Dog Time Trial series. It is every other Wednesday evening from May thru August. The course is a flat 7.2 miles filled with more pot holes every year. It is the introduction of tight lungs followed by rubber legs and the residual hacking cough for 24+ hours. It is normally a balls out effort. This yr I didn't have as much of that, don't know why. Did I not push it hard enough? Maybe my lungs were more ready then my legs. Did I give it my all? I think so. "Think".... well I remember consciously watching for pot holes instead of the constant 16 minutes of focused self talk. Erik has been there for all but 1 for all the years and more recently started taking pictures with Kerry and Yndecam. I remember coming around the corner where I knew he'd be and thinking oh fun there's Erik. From there about a 1/2 mile of pushing it up a slight incline and it's done.... Looking back.. I don't think I was mentally into it, but still posted a time that was faster then last yrs average. It was a great benchmark to start the season, fun to be out with the 100 plus racers that night and getting the dust off the race wheels.

Thursday night was the Twin City 1 mile race in downtown Mpls. The main reason I sign up for this, is that they provide the first 600 to register a guarateed entry to the Twin Cities 10 mile run...a run which I have grown to love. I'm thinking the marathon days (that is marathons outside of Ironmans) are behind me, but I love the twin cities course - especially the last 6 miles - the river run and the beauty of Summit Ave in October. Anyway....this was my 3rd yr doing the 1 mile and I'm finally happy with the results. My head says go all out even tho you just did the TT last night and you are racing the first du on Sat. The gun goes off and I'm about 6-8 people deep from the start line. The footing is always tricky as it is so congested. There are about 4 corners that you have to navigate before coming down the half mile home stretch. This is when you put mind over matter and it will be done soon. Each yearr I've approached this race with the desire of breaking 6 minutes, but I'm reminded that the logistics of potholes, corners and crowds makes this all the more difficult. At the half way point, I was at 2:57ish.... cool. But one thing that made this more challenging is that I had to really pee before this started... I looked at the biffy line after warming up and said "it's only a mile I can make it" Sure - but do you know how hard it is to use all your running-hard muscles while "holding it"? OMG! Pretty soon crossing the line I notice the clock say 6:0? and I didn't care - I just wanted a biffy! Finally I could get some relief, recover and get home. Turns out it was a 6:03, 15 seconds faster then last yr - another benchmark to start the season. Meanwhile, the hacking VO2 max cough was getting worse.

Saturday comes and Erik and I are off to do the Oakdale Duathlon, a new race for both of us. It's the 2nd largest duathlon in the state. It is a 3 mile run, 12 mile bike and a 3 mile run. Erik's first race to get the dust off and first duathlon in 3 years. I think the hard part with duathlons is finding my biking legs after running. I did tris for years before I discovered a duathlon, so I'm use to hopping on the bike fairly fresh. Well we head off to start, wish friends luck, a sweet good luck to each other and Wave 1 of 4 goes off. Erik's in 1 and I'm in 4. I had 9 minutes before my wave. Time flies and I look around and realized that the only female faces that I knew were in wave 3. We (35 and over) ladies were the last wave to go. One of the things I really liked about this du is that the environment is so low key. So many people out for their first du ever. Anyway, we get the count down and we're off - the first run was going to be intersting. This wonderful gal Angie (met her after the race) was setting a pretty tough pace. She was getting lots of cheers and was running really really well - smooth like an experienced runner. We could hear each other breathing for the whole run. She kept me going at a strong pace. T1 hits and with a minor buzz kill: where is my helmet? I had this gut feeling that it would be blown off or knocked off with all the people that would be coming thru from waves 1-3. I must have repeated it 10 times before some kind relay gal came over and pointed to one right at my feet. OMG - julie - get a grip, calm down, get on your bike and ride. The winds were picking up to about 15-20 mph with temps at around 45, but funny how adrenaline numbs those factors. Since I was in the last wave and biking is my strength, it was a key time to keep in mind safety first - "On your left" came out many times. Everyone was very gracious with a couple of "OMG you go girl". Coming into T2 I gather my thoughts for a clean dismount, transition and strategy for the start of the run. All went smoothly and only 3 miles left. I felt slower then the first run, but was just giving it whatever was in the tank. Around mile 2 I came upon a young kid (later found out the youngest one of the day, 14) and thought it was cute that he just couldn't let me pass. I'd get a foot or two in front and he'd pull up beside me. This went on for almost a minute and I'm thinking god this kid can run! Finally there was a short hill and I didn't see him again. It was just then that i was maybe a third mile away (a horseshoe style finish for the run) and I hear the announcer greet the first female across the line. Erik's already finished, sees me in the distance and yells his heart out "GO JULES!" I check out my watch and wonder if I could possibly finish in under 3 minutes (the differential of start times). I could see most of where I had to run, but could I cover the ground? I picked it up and bolted the best one can at this point of a race. I cross the line and check my watch and am thinking that I pulled off the distance in 2 minutes, but what good are math skills when I can't even stand up straight. The slim Jerry MacNeil came over and greeted me with a smile and said that's you're 2nd win. Still out of it, I say I don't know... he confirms and tells me "you did win". I definitely do not race to win, if that was the case, I would have quit years ago. The challenge of one's abilities is fun and finishing the race knowing that you gave it all you had feels so Great! Erik had a great race to kick off what I think will be an incredibly impressive season. His running has improved significantly. I can't wait for the races where I start earlier in the race and I can cheer and see him cross the finish.

Knowing that this week would be a wake up call for the racing muscles, I got Erik and me scheduled to tag-team 90 minute massages. It was a great finish to the week; the start of racing season is here. Up next weekend, the ever so competitive Gear West Duathlon. I will be racing and Erik is taking pics with Kerry for Yndecam.

Happy Spring!!