Top 10 Lessons from Foxy

Time Pace Max Speed
07:30 14.0 mph 40.1 mph

I can ride 106 miles

The distance definitely wasn’t an issue. Sure, I’m sore. Sure, I’ve got some chafing in places I’ve never been chafed before, but 60 miles or 106, there doesn’t seem to be much difference.

Not all downhills are equal

The 40 miles per hour on the nice hills felt safer than the 25 miles per hour on the cruddy roads. Downhills are great, nice downhills are better!

Peanut butter and jelly bagels are the best!

I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a food item as much as the bagels. Add in the Fritos for some great saltiness, and I really loved the food they had for fueling.

Road quality matters

See the downhills comment, and make it true everywhere. Regardless of the silent uphills and downhills, the same grade on a bumpy road makes 13mph seem tough, while a beautifully paved road without bumps makes 17mph feel simple. Fortunately, most of the roads were well maintained, but for being a “bike-friendly” city, there were definitely some poorly kept roads in the Davis farmland.

650s+Tri Bike < 700s+Road Bike

Not that this was any new learning, but a hilly, long course is definitely better on a road bike than a tri bike, and 650s are much better at rolling hills than long climbs. I did enjoy the drop bars on the downhills; having that much control while down on the bars felt awesome. The main reason I used my tri bike was to make sure I had more saddle time on it prior to Ironman Arizona, not because it was the right choice for the ride.

The Davis Bike club puts on great events

The food was great, the volunteers friendly, the amount of support fantastic… the Davis bike club was fantastic. It definitely makes me want to join a club.

Route arrows rock

I love the arrows from Having the arrows tied to the color of the wristbands was fantastic, and they were easy to spot, seemed to deteriorate, and were the best road guides I’d seen.

I can ride through cramps

The worst part of the ride was cramping up at a few points on the ride. I had to get off and walk at a few places, because my legs were cramping beyond what I could take. I found I could ride through it on a flat, but definitely not on a hill. Either way, I made it back on after walking and stretching out the cramp, and that was a lesson worth learning.

Social rides are more fun

Talking with Josh for the first thirty miles, with the two gals we met around mile fifteen, with the old guy on cardiac hill… what’s really been different for me between running and cycling has been the social aspect. This changed that opinion, and for that, I’m thankful.

I can do Arizona

The most important lesson was that I can do Arizona. I’ve now done all three pieces of an Ironman separately, and I had no problem walking or jogging after the ride. Undertrained as I am, I’m now confident that I can finish Arizona.

The Route – I love my Garmin!

I love this map, so I’m definitely including it. Not part of the “10 lessons,” just something that I want to show off.

Disneyland Half Marathon – Round 3

Div Place Place Time Pace
676/4381 871/11643 01:51:00 8:28

The Race

What can I say, Disneyland is my favorite run of the year. Running through the park before-hours, running around Angel Stadium, participating in a race with over 11,000 participants… the energy, the support, the thousands of volunteers, the fantastic organization, no run I do beats this. It may not be Boston or New York, but it’s amazing.

So when I look back and see that I preferred to socialize over perform, I have no complaints. I spent the first five miles with Harry, took my first ever half marathon bathroom break, and walked with Harry through a couple of water stops. I also spent the last few miles with a MMA-fighting entrepreneur, running with a brand new eight-inch plate on his tibia, waited for him at the water stops, and enjoyed the time meeting someone new. And after the socializing, I didn’t push myself or make any extra efforts, I just ran for fun and training and had a fun time. So if 8:30s wasn’t my best run (closer to my worst), I’m still happy. I had a fun run, I came out ready to walk all day long, and complain the least of the family over pain… enjoying the entire trip.

Tri for Fun #1

Div Place Place Time Bike Pace Run Pace
30/42 159/556 01:36:20 14.5mph 7:47

The Results

Quite the disparity between my division place and my overall, this race attracts a nearly equal proportion of female racers to males, a healthy distribution of ages, and generally, a lot of first time racers getting a taste of triathlons. So seeing myself, only on my third triathlon, but generally well versed with the sport, come in three tenths of the way down the spread isn’t surprising. However, I am slightly surprised by how far down my age group that result represents.

The Race

All in all, the race went pretty painlessly. I was out of the water in a reasonable time, feeling fine regardless of my lack of training in the water, and was ready to hit transition. Transition went very smoothly, thanks to a lot more exposure to triathlons, and I saw Josh off on the TBF racks while I readied my bike.

Josh and I took off together on the bikes for a quick hello, but he shortly pulled ahead, and I stayed at my own pace. The whole bike trip, I was feeling good… before the race, I had noticed that my brakes were rubbing slightly, and after the bike tent guys helped me fix it, I realized that my horrible performance on my last two rides was in part due to this! So, feeling like riding was effortless, I focused on one thing: “relax, or you’ll kill your run!” And so I did, keeping up with only myself, getting passed, passing a few women, and generally accepting that my bike isn’t going to do well, so just keep going.

That said, when I got through T2, and onto the run, I was doing mid-7s. I was probably a little too relaxed on the bike, because I was doing sub 8s on the run! With about a half mile to go, I passed Josh, made my way towards the finish line, and sprinted in. I felt fresh, everything had gone well, and I was ready for the race the next day (that I didn’t end up doing :-/ )

The season begins

In two days, the beginning of my tri season begins. I’m entirely untrained and unready, and am prepared for quite the humbling results. Hopefully, back to back triathlons will be the kickstart to full training for IM Arizona!

Shamrock’n, take 3

Div Place Place Time Pace
49/206 467/3603 01:45:50 8:05 min/mi

The Race

I usually like writing these blogs after I’ve had a day or two to answer people’s questions on how my race went. I do this for a very specific reason, the more I talk about it, the more I analyze what I did, how I did, and how I felt. Yet if I wait too long, I run the risk of editing the story in my head of how things went. So as I began to look back at this race on race day, my initial opinion and feelings were poor: two years later, and my time is almost exactly the same! Yet as I began to talk to friends, I began to realize that, though the times may look the same, my running definitely wasn’t.

In 2007, when I ran Shamrock’n three months in to running, and as my first half marathon, I ran all-out. I kept my eyes on the back of runners in front of me, focused all my energy on run form and breathing, and ran… and ran… and ran. I remember at mile three being jealous of a few guys in front of me who were able to chat with each other: I don’t think I could have gotten out more than a few coherent words in a single sentence. For Shamrock’n 2008, I began the first ten miles of my run at a pace that I found moderately easy, kept my heart rate around 160-165, running 8:15s, and then kept up 7s for the final three miles, brining my pace down to 7:52s. For this race, I was somewhere in between. I was trained less than 2008, and so my 8:15s took me to a ~170 heart rate, my conversation level stayed moderate for the first 7.1 miles, my energy level was great, and I felt natural in the run. Whereas my first run was a mental battle of continuing to push myself, for this race, there was no battle, it just felt natural and normal. For the latter 6 miles, after departing from Harry at the relay point, I pushed myself to a 180bpm heart rate and sped up a little, though without the training as the previous year, not nearly as much as before.

The other difference that I look back to, in slight comparison to last year, is that the route was a little hillier, the wind a bit heavier (though I’m not positive on this, as the “wind-tunnel” of the stadium wasn’t as bad, so this may be an excuse and not a fact), and the minor route changes may have been enough to push the heart-rate up a few beats. If that’s true, and not an issue of re-building the story in my head, then my run was nearly on-par to last year, and definitely much better than 2007. So, though I was disappointed at first, in retrospect, my running has matured significantly in the last two years of running.

The Course

Some parts of the course changes were more subtle than others, while others were quite obvious.

One of my favorite parts of the 2008 course (which was there in 2007, but I didn’t like as much), was the Red Bull arch down the there-and-back on Riverbank Road. This year, with the extra two miles running throughout downtown and old town, there was no there-and-back down the road, and apparently no Red Bull sponsorship, either.

Whereas the original course went only to third street, this year, we went down to seventh, ran out to the same point along the river, but instead of running along the river (where there seemed to be more construction than last year), we followed closer to the freeway, then as we progressed under the bridge as before, instead of coming up to the bridge directly, we headed into old town. I was originally worried about how running on the cobblestones might go, but fortunately, we cut back down an alley before we hit first street. The rest of the route, excepting Riverbank Road, was pretty similar. The choice of using one of the square blocks in West Sac to do the relay exchange, whereas runners went on one side of the block, while relayers went on the other, was a great idea. And all-in-all, the route was as good as I remember it, with a few extra hills thanks to the alley and other areas, a lot of opportunities for spectators, and a nice view of varied parts of town.

Oh… and one other comment. If you like almonds, this year’s race had the BEST post-race food bag, ever. If you don’t like almonds, I’m sorry. The two fig newtons weren’t quite enough. Good for me, I love almonds. I just wish they had all six of the bold flavors Blue Diamond offers: the salt and pepper sounds great, as does the lime and chili.

The Comparison

And now, lastly, thanks to my original feelings of inadequacy on my times, I began an analysis of all of my halfs so far. I wanted to see if I really was improving, staying the same, had backslid, or if this was truly business-as-usual. So, without further ado:

Statistically, my results fell into the 38.6th percentile against average (good!), though if I discount the two >100 degree days as handicapped, then I’m up closer to the 70th percentile (bad!).

So, it’s not exactly a bad result, nor is it a good result, but it’s an appropriate result for the effort level and training I’ve done, and is completely consistent with my expectations. I did fine, I felt fine, and I am sure my next race will be just about the same time… again.

Race Time
Shamrock’n ’07 1:46:13
Ave of the Vines ’07 1:44:20
Disneyland ’07 1:59:34
Four Bridges ’07 1:49:36
1st Half CIM ’07 1:45:14
Shamrock’n ’08 1:43:07
Ave of the Vines ’08 1:50:10
Disneyland ’08 1:41:34
1st Half CIM ’08 1:47:16
Shamrock’n ’09 1:45:50

CIM 2008 – A Personal Worst, and then some…

Div Place Place Time Pace
376/400 4434/5198 04:53:21 11:13 min/mi

The Race

One problem with doing your second race, is that it’s either a PR or a PW, there’s no in between. Well, the first half of this race went well, 01:47:16, or about 8:10s, a conservative pace by 10-20 seconds for me. And considering my training has been lacking, and really only gone up to 13 miles, doing well for the first 13 makes sense. Last year, I began to fall behind at this same point, for this same reason. The difference, though, is that this year, I cramped up badly… very badly. Like, walking for the whole last ten miles.

So, at about mile 19, I decided to hit my lap button, just to see how bad the pacing was. By then, my average pace on the front 19 had dropped from the low 8s to 9:08. The last 7 miles? 16:37, or 3.6mph. Not even a brisk walk (4mph), but at least better than a slow stroll, and that includes having to stop and try stretching several times.

So what have I learned? Obviously, training is important, and while I can skate by on a half (and have several times), there’s no easy route for me on a marathon. Also, that when it comes down to the mental game of “This sucks, I hurt, I should quit!” I can make it past the mind battle… or at least could this time. And lastly, my friends and family still love and support me, no matter how badly I do.

Disneyland Half-Marathon, take two

Div Place Place Time Pace
43/593 335/10849 01:41:34 7:46 min/mi

The Race

Overcast, 80 degrees, man was this better than last year! I was disappointed a little that we didn’t get to run through Angel’s stadium again, but the in-park portion of the course was better attended by characters, parade floats were out and turned on, and the run through the park was even better than I remember. With water at ten of the thirteen mile points, thousands of spectators, cheerleaders, scout troups, and more, this is definitely the best of the races I’ve done, and I look forward to doing it again next year.

The PR

I started out with a 1:45 pace group, and having the support, distraction, and people to talk to kept me at a strong pace, and pushed me a few times that I needed pushing, and kept me happier in times that I needed nothing. Rachel was a great pacer, though a bit of a cynic, and kept me chuckling at her comments on “training the spectators” and her commentary on racing throughout the world. Her helpful comments like “relax on the downhill and stay perpendicular to the ground” or “pump those arms and get yourself up this hill” helped keep us at a steady pace, up and down, and her group seemed to stay strong.

At mile ten, after sprinting through to “high-five” the hands of scores of boy scouts, I decided to keep my break-away lead from the pacers and push the last three miles, as I did in my last PR. And like Shamrock’n, I was able to keep the pace up, knock out a few miles at a 185+ HR, and take a few minutes off my steady pace. I loved it, and am very glad to add this to my results page, especially when I see that I’m in the top 4% of racers and top 8% of my AG. w00t! An average HR of 177 and max of 195 says I really did push myself, but it stayed sub-180 for the first ten miles, and only in the final push did I spike upwards.

The Conclusion

I trained less, and did better. Racing smarter, having help and support to push me, and knowing when and where I can push, cut another two minutes off my PR. Add in a flat race with great weather and fun, and this race was wonderful once again. I hope to be back next year!

Avenue of the Vines – 2008

OverallDiv PlaceTimePace

A PW Record

Well, the PW doesn’t include Disneyland, but between a lack of training, gross heat, and bad fueling, this race was a personal worst time. And well… that’s okay. Listening to other racers, comments like “This isn’t a day for a PR” or “I did five minutes worse than normal” says that my results came in just right. So yay?

In all honesty, the course was better than I remember, with actual wine fields that I ran by, and only a single dairy farm; the food afterwards was much better (Togo’s), the race management significantly improved, the problems of last year well resolved, and everything would have been great, were it not for the 100+ degree day. The end result was a fairly exhausting and miserable race from the heat, but otherwise a good race. Not much else to say, but I will be here next year.

My first first place finish

The “Race”

Not just first in my AG, but first in the race! So there were only 20 racers or so, I was wearing a bib, so it felt official!

USAA, for their employees and family, held a 5k walk/run that was sponsored for their employees’ health benefits: race food, bibs, course markings, and everything! While I don’t in any way qualify as family, Diane allowed me join her since running is my cup of tea.

About twenty people were on the running circuit, and another twenty were there as walkers. The course was laid out as a four-lap circuit of the USAA campus, part of it along the streets and part along their run track. I wasn’t there to push any kind of 5k PR (I’d just been sick in Thailand, and I hadn’t really been training at all), so I paced Diane’s boss Cherie for the first three laps. Feeling great thereafter, I decided to pick up the pace to a normal 5k pace for me and finish at the front of the pack.

So, my time wasn’t great, and the race was small… but hey! I got first place in a race, and I don’t think I’ll ever get to say that again. So yay!

Shamrock’n 2008

Div Place Place Time Pace
24/112 273/2644 1:43:07.7 7:52/M

The Race

I have to start again with a thank you. Thank you to my friends who support me enough to come out and cheer me on. Thank you to my training buddies who help me get to the race and succeed. And thank you to everyone who supports me in continuing with what has become one of my favorite things in life. I’m sorry you weren’t here, Amanda, for this second round and season kickoff, but I know you’ll be back running with us soon!

The race, in short, was awesome. The course was a bit different, but not horribly noticably so, the logistics seemed a bit cleaner (at least it took less time to park), and my performance was a PR, so I can’t complain!

I started the race pacing Harry. He said when we were starting that he had decided to try and keep up with me, and I was happy for it. I usually start at about a 7:45 and end at an 8:15, averaging 8s. With Harry there (and a bit tired, as he was), we started at 8:15s and kept that steady.

Where I’m normally fairly tired through an entire run, and having to think about my breathing and staying strong, I felt chatty, was smiling, and was generally having a great race! Every race I’ve done in the past has been a very solitary thing (excepting Clarksburg), so to have someone with me for 10, someone to keep my mind off things, and someone to chat with (or to, most of the time), was fun!

From about 6 on, Harry began struggling, and while he made it all the way out to 10 before he broke off, he just couldn’t keep up, and I wanted to keep my 8:15s at least. Let me cut to the end on Harry, he finished keeping up that 8:15 pace, and only had to take 20 steps, twice, at a walking pace to catch his breath, so PR to Harry, too! Now me, at that split point, I decided that I needed to burn through all of my extra stored up energy, and took those last three miles at a 7min pace, or so. I brought my 8:15 average down to 7:52 in three miles! I even got to sprint my last .1 miles, and loved every second of it. And now, I still feel fresh and ready to go! This was an awesome way to take a race.

Pacing the last three miles

Training Tidbits

I said earlier that I felt great afterwards. I still do. So looking back, I was interested to see what my effort level was. It felt like I kept a good, steady pace, but I always feel like that. So doing some heartrate comparisons… for CIM, I spent 20.4 miles, or 78% of the race in Zone 5. Something maybe okay for my “A” race, but probably a bit excessive for my overall health. This race, the one I’m feeling great in and did my best performance in, I stayed in Zone 4 for 9.3 miles, or 71% of the run. And did my performance slip? I did better on these 13.1 miles than I did on the first 13.1 at CIM, and I’m not in better shape, so I’d have to say that based on this single datapoint, keeping myself in Z4 seems to work pretty darned well for overall performance, and I know it’s better for my overall fitness, too!