Sunday, September 27, 2015

Dousman Duathlon Race Recap

2 race recaps in a row?  Have I lost my mind? Probably, but after last week's duathlon, Mr. R&R and I were both itching to do another one before the season ended. Enter: The Dousman Duathlon.  I didn't do a whole lot in the training department in the days leading up to the race since I was still recovering from Lake Country, but we decided to show up and see what happened.

I managed to escape from the office at 5pm on Friday, rushed home, threw on my bike clothes, and Mr. R&R and I hightailed it to the New Berlin trail to get in a decent, but not killing it ride per the Brent's pre-race ritual - hey, it worked last weekend, so obviously this is the new procedure going forward.  I wasn't really in the mood to ride at all.  I had been so insane at work that I'd barely eaten all day, thus I was starving. I was exhausted from not sleeping well all week.  In short, I was on the edge of becoming a raging hosebeast.  I felt a little better after spinning my legs out for a bit, but when the chamois pad in my shorts began causing issues 6 miles out, we turned back - and not a moment to soon.  By the time we made it back to the car (after dodging a pair of deer that were running across the trail) it was almost completely dark out.   We hustled home, dragged all of our stuff into the house, and got down to the serious business of stuffing down dinner and gathering all the required stuff for the next day.

The alarm went off at 4:30am and we were out the door by 5:30 and on our way to Dousman.  We had a little trouble finding the parking area thanks to some ambiguous directions from a volunteer, but we quickly unloaded the bikes, pumped our tires, and walked the three or four blocks to transition.

We stopped to pick up our race numbers and timing chips and I discovered that while I was bib #73, they gave me chip #33.  Not cool.  I didn't want to be racing for someone else!  I asked the guy in charge of chips to look into it and he pretty much waved me off like I was a nuisance and said it was fine - that the chip was just mislabeled.  Ummm...not really encouraging.  I got all my stuff set up in transition and after thinking about it some more, I went back to the timing guy, because I was not confident that my efforts weren't going to be recorded for the wrong bib number.  After some serious persistence on my part, I was finally taken to the director of timing and sure enough - the chip was wrong!!!!  I knew it!  The timing director recoded my chip to match my bib and I was back in business.  Unfortunately the whole debacle had eaten up all the time I'd allotted for my pre-race shake out ride and transition was closing in 10 minutes.  Grrrr.  I tried to shake it off as I made one last check of my transition area and headed out for a quick jog to wake up my legs and hopefully clear my head.

Locked. Loaded. Ready to Race.
When I got back, I discovered Yada Yada chatting with Mr. R&R - he had come to 'pay it forward' for our support at his half ironman in July - and he was putting off his 13 mile run!  It was great having him there because 1) When you know someone might see you, you're less likely to slow down/walk/give up. and 2) He played the role of paparazzi for us since there were no official photographers at this race.

Photo Credit: YadaYada
Athletes were called to the start line in waves of 50.  The first five waves were release a minute apart and the remaining waves were released two minutes apart.  Mr. R&R and I were in Wave 2.  The airhorn blew and we were off.  Mr. R&R took off like a shot and after about 30 seconds, I lost sight of him.  The first bit was a cross country run across a park before turning onto a sidewalk.

 I definitely went out too fast (7:42/mile pace). I looked at my Garmin as I turned onto the sidewalk and pulled it waaaaay back.  Mile 1 clicked by in 8:56.  Mile 2 felt a little tougher as we wound through a neighborhood, up a curb, and out onto the Glacial Drumlin Trail.  I found it a little ironic that every time I ride this section, I end up thinking what a nice place it would be to run - and now that I was running on it, I wanted off of it!  The trail spit the runners out onto a road crossing, through a parking lot, and then it was another cross country run across the park to T1.  I was feeling okay, but got a little annoyed by the fact that the last 15-20 feet into T1 was through sand!

Run 1: 2 Miles (1.93 miles according to Garmin)
Official Time: 17:25 (9:02/mile)
Garmin Time: 17:24 (9:01/mile)

I was really fortunate that my bike rack was right by the Run In/Out, so I didn't have far to go.  Off came the sand covered running shoes, on went the helmet and bike shoes and I ran my bike out to the mount line.

Official Time: 1:29
Garmin Time: 1:32

Almost immediately, I dropped into aero and started cranking since the road was relatively smooth and flat.  I was feeling pretty decent after my somewhat lackluster first run.

Photo Credit: YadaYada
This bike leg was 20 miles long (3 miles longer than last weekend), and I was surprised at how fast the first few miles went by.  Then the hills started.  I would slowly chug my way up and then fly down, only to repeat the process again.  I tried to take my mind off of it by looking at the scenery since we were deep in bumble%*@! nowhere farm country.  There were a couple of Turtle Crossing signs painted on the road and a farm advertising 'Show Quality and Companion Llamas For Sale'!  I couldn't help but wonder what leads someone to want to keep a llama as a pet - and how much space one would require.  As an upside, all the roads on the course were actually paved and in really good shape - unlike last weekend's soul sucking chip seal/crush 'n run.

Somewhere around Mile 12, the giant hills became rolling hills and my speed picked back up.  I was in the midst of climbing one of these hills when a draft marshal came by and told me I was 'getting a little close' so I needed to speed up.  Uhhh....what?  There was no one in front of me, which meant I wasn't drafting off of anyone.  The same cannot be said for the chick who was practically on my back wheel!  Whatever.  I tucked myself deeper into aero and sped up some more to drop the chick.  I wasn't about to end up with a bullshit drafting penalty when I wasn't the one drafting!

After that, life was a series of rolling hills until around Mile 14, when the top of the box where my flat kit lives popped open!  WTF!?!?! I thought I'd solved this problem on the long ride with YadaYada and Texas a few weeks ago.  I wasn't about to have my stuff scattered all over the road, so I pulled over to fix it - losing about 60 seconds in the process - and then it was right back on the bike, into aero, and powering on.  I was pretty damn happy when Mile 20 clicked off on my Garmin, but there was still a bit to go since the bike course was apparently 20.59 miles long.  There was a pretty strong head wind and I was starting to chafe really badly despite a very liberal application of Chamois Butt'r, but I stayed in aero and cruised to the dismount line.

Photo Credit: YadaYada

Bike: 20 Miles (20.59 miles according to Garmin)
Official Time: 1:13:08 (16.9mph)
Garmin Time: 1:14:29 (16.8mph)*

I felt pretty good off the bike this week and actually managed to sort of jog back to my rack.  After nearly knocking some relay runners, who were standing right by my rack, out of the way, I racked my bike dropped my helmet, and switched back to running shoes and headed for Run Out.

Official Time: 1:17
Garmin Time: 25.3 seconds*

The second run was almost a mirror image of the first.  Through the sand, across the field, out onto the sidewalk.  I was absolutely exhausted by the time I made it to the sidewalk portion - and my pace showed it.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't work up anything that resembled speed.  I. Was. Toast.  I did my best to keep plodding along, took a quick drink at the water station half way through, and was more than happy to make the last cross country run to the finish.  This week there was no sprinting, just a slight pick up in pace to the finish.

Photo Credit: YadaYada
Run 2: 2 Miles (1.91 miles according to Garmin)
Official Time: 19:11 (9:57/mile)
Garmin Time:  18:51 (9:53/mile)*

As soon as I finished, Mr. R&R (who killed it again this weekend) and YadaYada were directing me to the bottled water (which was in a trash can) and excitedly telling me that there were pancakes in the food area. I collected my water and a couple of rather spongy pancakes and met up with them.  We hung out, pretty much had a postmortem on the race, and waited for results to be posted.

Apparently all the fast people showed up this week.  I ended up 7th out of 12 in my age group.  I have no idea how I placed overall because the online results aren't broken down that way, but here's what I do know:

Official Finish Time: 1:52:30
Garmin Time: 1:51:08*

We hung around to watch the awards ceremony, said goodbye to YadaYada, collected our stuff from transition and headed for home.  Once home, there was a quick wardrobe change and a walk up the street for brunch and a beer/consolation prize.

Timing chip issue, sand on the run course, and annoying relay people aside, this was a really good race. The course was well marked. There were a ton of very helpful and encouraging volunteers. I think I could have done better had I not been still recovering from the previous week's race, and yet I would definitely do it again in a heartbeat. The run course, while kind of blah in the scenery department, was incredibly flat.  And the bike course was challenging in some spots, merciful in others, and absolutely beautiful in terms of both road quality and scenery.  I'd definitely consider adding this race to my 2016 calendar.

*Full Disclosure: When I went to upload my Garmin data, the file was corrupted, so I'm not entirely sure how reliable it is.  For example, I only have data for 17 miles of the bike and at least 4 of those are completely hosed. I've reset the device and downloaded some updates, so hopefully this doesn't happen again.  If it does, I may have to as Santa Claus for an upgrade!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Lake Country Duathlon Race Recap

I came. I raced. I won (my age group)!  That came as a total surprise to me, but let's back up a little first.

Mr. R&R and I got up at Stupid O'Clock, went through all the usual pre-race stuff, loaded up our bikes and set out for the race site in the dark.  As we made our way West, we could see the sun rising in the rearview mirror and once we turned off onto the rural highways, watching the low fog rising off the fields as the sun broke over the horizon was absolutely stunning.

Per the Brent-recommended pre-race ritual, we were among the first people to arrive at the race site and when we got out of the car, it was absolutely frickin' freezing out!

We bumped into Dr. Beast, stood around lamenting the cold, and she informed us that the bike course was a serious hillfest.  It turns out we took a wrong turn on our course preview last night and missed the worst of it!  I already had incredibly low expectations going into this race after checking out results from 2013 and 2014.  My best case scenario going into this race was finishing around 2 hours, which would have put in me in the bottom 5-10 in previous years.  Dr. Beast's warning had me mentally preparing myself for a Dead Last Finish.  After we parted ways with Dr. Beast, we continued to follow Brent's ritual: got on our bikes and went for a quick 2-3 mile warm up/shake out ride.  It was so cold that I couldn't feel my hands after only 2 miles!

Following our warm up, we racked our bikes, set up our transition areas (pretty easy for a du), and went for a quick 2 block warm up jog and stretched out.  I usually go to a start line feeling cold and stiff, and I was actually feeling pretty good as they called the athletes to the Start Line.

The first wave was made up of elites (like Dr. Beast) and relay racers (1 person did both run legs and another did the bike).  My wave was next - everyone 35 and under, followed by athletes 36 and older (like Mr. R&R) 3 minutes later.  Usually the 35 and under crowd is pretty thick at these things and I was shocked to see maybe 20 people around me.  The gun went off and I started running.  I quickly found myself toward the back of the pack - and I was running around 8:38 pace!  I ended up passing a couple of people who had gone out too fast as the course wound uphill and I felt like maybe I had a chance at finishing better than dead last.  I was extra happy when the way back was all downhill!

Run 1: 2 Miles (1.86 miles according to Garmin)
Official Time: 16:39 (8:57/mile)
Garmin Time:  16:40 (8:57/mile)

I flew into transition, stripping off the fleece jacket I'd worn for the run since I was sufficiently warmed up at that point, jammed my helmet on, and hauled ass to the mount line.

Official Time: 1:39
Garmin Time: 1:37

No sooner had I mounted, I heard a horrible noise.  I pulled over to investigate thinking that maybe one of my wheels had gotten knocked on the rack and was rubbing against the brakes or something like that.  I wasted a valuable couple of minutes trying to figure out what was going on, but nothing was obviously wrong, so I got back on the bike, hoped for the best, and set out to tackle 17 miles of hills.  The first few miles were pretty good.  I stayed in aero as much as possible, did a little passing, and generally didn't hate life.  Then the rolling hills started.  I kind of sucked on the ups and felt awesome on the downs.  Periodically, when I found myself getting super-tired, I'd eat a Shot Blok (like a big, caffeinated, gummy bear), take a drink, and find the ability to keep going.  There were several sections of road that were just awful.  It was so bumpy that it felt like riding on top of a washing machine (and incredibly rough on any part of me that was touching the bike seat), and I ended up cutting the inside of my lip when I went to take a drink from my aero bottle.  Fortunately, the fields and farmhouses lining the roads were nice to look at, so it took my mind off some of the hills.

I got passed a lot on the bike, but I made it my personal mission to pass every mountain bike I came across and not get re-passed.  I'm pleased to say I was successful.  The last one was tough since I had to attack her on a steep uphill.  I got past her and hauled ass to T2 - so ready to be off the bike.

Bike: 17 Miles (Garmin Distance: 17.11)
Official Time: 1:03:20 (16.1mph)
Garmin Time: 1:03:28 (16.3mph)

I dismounted and attempted to jog into transition, but that was not happening.  My legs were pretty shot and wobbly, so I was reduced to shuffling back to the rack.  Just as I was hanging up my bike, Miss Mountain Bike was suddenly racking next to me!  Damn...I thought I put her further behind me.  I finished tying my shoes and attempted to start running.

Official Time: 1:31
Garmin Time: 1:28

The second run was pretty much identical to the first run and I felt like I was practically crawling as I left transition, but a quick look at my watch said I was running at 7:42/mile pace!  I guess there's something to be said for being a little numb from the waist down, but I knew there was no way I could hold it, so I dialed it back a bit.  On my way to the hill, I was able to see people still coming off the bike, so I knew I wasn't dead last.  Yes!

The uphill was rough, but I knew if I just kept plugging away, it would be downhill and flat to the finish.  I hit the turnaround and started counting the people still headed out, trying to figure out how far in front of Dead Last I was.  I counted about 24 - give or take.  I was so happy to see the volunteers waving me into the last turn toward the Finish Line.  I'd been trying to chase down a guy for the last half mile and wasn't having any luck, so I was ready to be done.

I sped up a little, but not my usual full out sprint.  Out of nowhere, I heard a grunt over my right shoulder and there was Miss Mountain Bike, sprinting like hell.  Nuh-uh. I started sprinting too. Holy hell...she gave me a run for my money. It was a really tiny race (only 115 people), but people started hooting and hollering and the announcer said, "This guy has no idea what's about to hit him!"  He wasn't kidding.  This chick was out for blood and I wasn't about to give her mine!  We blew across the line - much to the guy's surprise.  I went to to shake her hand afterward and I swear she would probably have preferred to slap me instead of shaking my hand.  Oh well.

Coming in hot...and surprising the heck out of this guy.
Run 2: 2 Miles (Garmin Distance: 1.9 miles)
Official Time: 17:15 (8:38/mile)
Garmin Time: 17:16 (9:05/mile)

Total Time:
Official Time: 1:40:21
Garmin Time: 1:40:06

I found Mr. R&R (who finished in a speedy 1:29:49) and Dr. Beast (who won her age group and took 4th place overall among the women) and we traded war stories while waiting for the results to be updated.  When they were posted, you could have knocked me over with a feather: 2/6 in my age group (which was actually one of the slowest age groups instead of the fastest like it usually is)!

Well, that sealed the deal.  We were staying for awards.  If I was shocked at being 2nd in my age group, imagine my surprise when they called me up as the winner of the 35-39 year old women.  It turns out that the overall female winner was in my age group and you're only allowed to win in one category - so obviously she took the overall win, which bumped me into 1st!  My prize for my first (and probably only) age group win: a water bottle.

I won my age group?  

We hung around to watch Dr. Beast collect her award and then headed off to collect our stuff from transition and head home - in search of coffee and a nap!

Let's go home.
To say I'm absolutely stunned by what happened today is an understatement.  I went from mentally preparing myself for possibly being dead last to winning my age group.  This was not an easy course, but it was a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it again in the future - and more importantly, it re-ignighted my love of multisport racing! I can't wait to race again.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Lake Country Du/Discovery Run - Week 3 & 4

Week 3 (September 7th - September 13th)

Question: What do you do when you want to knock off another section of the Ice Age Trail, but your training plan calls for a run?  

Answer: Find a short section and go for a trail run!  

Mr. R&R and I did an out and back on the Waterville Segment (hiking blog update coming soon).  We ran from the trailhead where it intersected the Glacial Drumlin trail and about half a mile later we were spat out onto a country road full of big rolling hills for just over a mile.  Not really trail, but the road section is a temporary connector.  We ran the flats and downhills and walked the most of the big hills.  Finally, we reconnected with the actual Ice Age Trail.  The trail run made the road section worth it.  There were only a few monster hills, I only tripped 3 or 4 times (caught myself and didn't fall), and the handful of prairie sections were short and scenic.  It was the best 6 miles of trail I've ever run and I look forward to doing it again - soon!

Trail Running Perfection
After a relaxing week off, it was back to the salt mines. Fortunately it was pouring down rain all day, so being stuck inside all day was a little traumatic.  Since I'd put over 50 miles on my body in the last 3 days, it was a rest day.  I used the down time to:
- Grocery Shop - so we won't starve or go out to dinner this week
- Iron A Few Things - so I don't have to go to work nekkid or in running clothes
- Blog - because I was 2 weeks behind and I still need to work on the hiking blog

What is it about work and sucking all the motivation out of a person?  I had every intention of parking my butt on the trainer for an hour, but only managed to put in 30 minutes before my growling stomach demanded that I go upstairs and eat - NOW!  Fortunately it was a good 30 minutes.

Neither Mr. R&R nor I wanted to do a damn thing tonight, so we compromised with a 3 mile walk while catching up on each other's day.

I took the night off to have dinner with a friend I haven't seen since her oldest child was 3 months old - and she's going to be 4 in a few months!  I guess time really does fly, but if you would have heard the two of us chatting, you'd think we'd just hung out last week.  I definitely missed hanging out with her and will NOT let 4 more years go by again.

Q: What happens when Yada Yada gets a tri bike and his road bike spends an entire season hanging in the garage?

A: He and Texas convince Mr. R&R to test ride it as a possible upgrade.

We headed up to Yada Yada and Texas' house early Saturday morning to fetch the bike before they left for a century ride a few hours further north - and ended up having the most delicious diner breakfast I've ever had.  As a bonus, I kept expecting Sam and Dean Winchester to walk through the door!

Waiting for a demon to show up an cause lots of trouble.

Once we got the bike home, we got Mr. R&R roughly fitted to it and went for a ride.  We worked our way slowly along the pothole riddled roads to my mom's house to check out her latest home improvements and then continued on to the New Berlin Trail.  That was just plain fun.  Mr. R&R took off like a bat out of hell and I used the long stretch of straight pavement to practice riding (and drinking) in aero.  The ride back was even more fun since it's a slight downhill, so free speed is the name of the game.  At one point I was flying down the trail at almost 23mph, fully in aero, and having a blast!  The ride home was at a pretty pedestrian pace due to lots of busy roads and then of course, the thing I absolutely loathe happened...the dead standstill tip over.  We were riding on the sidewalk up one of the busiest roads in the city and when I unclipped my left foot to stop, I didn't lean far enough to my left to put my foot down, so I tipped over onto my right side.  I fell about a foot off a curb into a parking lot with lots of rocks and gravel.  Ouch!  When I finally managed to unclip my right foot and lift my bike off me, the bike was fine and I was missing a bunch of skin on my right elbow and right knee.  Damn.  That's the same side that took all the abuse/damage a few years ago when I crashed at the Shoreline Duathlon.  I really need to figure out how to spread the pain better!

I was pretty sore after my fall, so working out wasn't happening.  I went to work for a couple of hours  and then Mr. R&R and I headed to Madison to watch the run leg of Ironman Wisconsin.  Remember a few years ago when I went out there to watch the Iron Cheerleader finish IM #4 and he swore it was the last one?  He lied. He was going for IM #5 and another one of my tri friends was going after his first and I didn't want to miss it!  We parked at the Alliant Energy Center and watched a few bikes come down the hill (lots of pretty bikes to look at) before catching a shuttle that dropped us off about a block from the finish line.  We started walking along the run course and found an opening around Mile 12.  A quick check of showed that both my teammate and the Iron Cheerleader should be passing by our post within the next 20 minutes - they were within minutes of each other at the last checkpoint.

We passed the time cheering for the athletes as they ran by and checking out the various signs people were waving.

First came my teammate (sorry - no pictures) and a few minutes later, the Iron Cheerleader appeared. I shouted his name and he paused for a quick hug and hello before continuing on to the halfway point and his special needs bag.

Mr. R&R and I trotted a few miles down the road and waited for them to come by again.

The Iron Cheerleader came by looking much happier after retrieving a can of Pringles from his special needs bag.  We figured we had at least an hour and a half before either of the guys finished, so dinner was our next order of business.   We spotted an Indian restaurant with a 2nd story balcony overlooking the run course - perfect!

Another quick check of after dinner showed that it was time to start heading for the finish line.  Both of them had some how picked up speed and were flying!  As we hustled back up State Street, I had to stop and take a picture - this is what the athletes see as they're headed for home.

Pretty cool, huh?
We opted to stand about half a mile from the end rather than fighting the four-deep crowds at the finish and it was a good choice.  I watched my teammate fly by on his way to a 12 hour, 43 minute finish and the Iron Cheerleader thundered by on his way to a 12 hour, 58 minute finish (16 minutes faster than he did in 2013).

Mr. R&R and I worked our way to the finish line and somehow managed to find the Iron Cheerleader in the crowd to congratulate him.  He swore, once again, that this was it.  No more Ironman for him.  Somehow I have a hard time believing him, but only time will tell.

The Home Stretch

(Insert Your Name Here), You. Are. An. Ironman!
Watching Ironman never fails to inspire me. I hope that someday I can be half the athlete that these men and women are.

Week 4 (September 14th-20th)

It was a loooonnnngggg day at the office after getting home late from Madison.  I really wanted to crawl onto the couch and take a nap, but I somehow talked myself into going for a run.  Ugh.  Total mess of a run, but I guess three crappy miles are better than no miles.

I was going to ride my bike in the basement, but Mr. R&R beat me to the trainer (we need a second one) so I decided to try to redeem myself in the running department.  It was much cooler and less humid out - and the run went so much better.

Mr. R&R spent his evening at Emery's getting his new bike custom-fitted and I spent those hours glued to my desk chair.  It was super late and I didn't have enough in the tank to do anything major when I got home, so I joined Mr. R&R for a quick mile just to shake out the legs before dinner.  I also put my bike in the trainer to test whether or not my skinned elbow had healed enough to allow me to ride in aero.  It wasn't the most comfortable experience of my life (elbow is still pretty bruised), but it was manageable.  Phew!  I really didn't want to have to race my old bike this weekend.

I thought I got home late yesterday.  Hah!  I didn't get home until almost 7:30pm tonight.  The only things I was capable of doing was eating a bowl of macaroni and cheese, petting bunnies, and going to bed.  On a more fun note, I put up a few Halloween decorations in my office so I don't have to feel like I'm totally missing out on one of my favorite holidays.

Crazy day at work - so crazy that I ate a banana in the morning and then completely forgot about food until about 5pm.  Not the way I want to lead up to a race.  I came home, scarfed a Clif Bar and hustled off to see some friends at the bar.  It was fun and I managed to limit myself to one beer - and enough water to fill a swimming pool.  That was followed by lights out at 10pm.

It's amazing what 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep can do for your state of mind.  Mr. R&R and I walked a couple of miles for coffee and breakfast and then came home and changed into our bike clothes.

If you've been reading here for a while, you probably just heard the metaphorical record scratch and are now saying something like, "What?  She went for a ride the day before a race?"  Yes, I did.  Mr. R&R was telling me that Brent Emery gave him a new pre-race strategy to try out, so  I figured I'd try it too.

We hit the New Berlin Trail for about 14 miles at a reasonable, but not killing it, pace.  I was pretty pissed off when less than a quarter of a mile in I had a mechanical issue.  My chain dropped - and Mr. R&R was too far ahead of me to hear me shout that something wasn't right (he's ridiculously fast to begin with and even faster on his new wheels), so I got to work figuring out how to fix it.  My hands ended up covered in grease and gunk, but I finally got the damn thing back on, wiped my hands off on the grass and then on my jersey, and got on with the business of riding.  The whole debacle only cost me about 10 minutes, but it was a loooonnnng ride staring at my filthy hands on the aero bars in front of me.  Oh well.  Better today than on race day.  I stayed aero as much as I could, only sitting up at road crossings and a couple of times when the wind was so strong that I felt like my bike was going to fly out from under me.  I met up with Mr. R&R at the turnaround and we rode back together. The overall pace was fairly respectable and I had a couple of seriously kick ass miles in there!  Maybe Brent is on to something?

After our ride, we set up shop in the back yard to clean, degrease, and re-lube our chains.  I wasn't really planning on doing this, but after getting up close and personal with my chain, it was a necessity because that thing was foul.

Next up was a quick run to Endurance House about 30 minutes away for packet pick up and then we decided to drive out to the race site since it's totally new to us.  Once there, we attempted to drive the bike course based on a rather crummy map.  We drove at least half of it, noting where the turns are, significant hills, rail crossings, and one spot that seemed to have quite a bit of broken glass that will need to be avoided.  Good things to know.

Finally, it was time for all the usual pre-race rituals: high carb dinner, gather the race gear, hydrate, and try to get some sleep because the alarm is going to go off at Stupid O'Clock.

Lake Country Duathlon!  Check back tomorrow or early next week for a race recap!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Let's Du This (Lake Country Du/Discovery Run - Weeks 1 & 2)

If I want to return to multi sport racing and distance running, I need to train.  I'm usually the queen of setting myself up with a training plan that looks fantastic on paper, but is damn near impossible to execute unless all the stars align - which they rarely seem to do.  So for these 2 races I'm going to try something a little different.  If I miss a workout, it's gone. No going back. No making it up.  Just keep moving forward.  Hopefully this mindset will help with the constant feelings of anxiety I get from missing a workout - and maybe, just maybe, fend off the mid-training cycle meltdown(s)!

Week 1 (August 24th - 29th)
I started this training cycle with a really awesome 4 mile run. The weather was a key factor because for the first time in what feels like forever, it was in the low 60's, overcast, and breezy instead of the hot, humid, sweatbox we've been in for quite a while.  Since Mr. R&R was with me, I deviated from my usual high-traffic road route and was able to take previously unknown to me loop around a large retention pond.  I normally would stay off this loop because it's hidden among lots of tall grass and I wouldn't feel safe venturing off the road alone.  It was relatively flat for awhile and then slowly began gaining elevation as it meandered back toward the road.  If I thought that little hill was tough, there was a long, steep, beast awaiting me.  My pace skyrocketed going up that sucker, but fortunately what goes up, must come down and I was able to do a decent job of fixing my pace on the downhill.  I felt like I was flying.  I ended up finishing about 37 seconds slower than my PR at that distance, so it was a pretty damn good time!

Distance: 4.0 miles
Time: 38:46
Avg. Pace: 9:41/mile

Tuesday was another really good cool weather run.  For as much as I bitch about Wisconsin winters (and they are truly miserable) I really love fall and spring here and I think I'm ready for fall.

Distance: 3.0 miles
Time: 28:33
Avg. Pace: 9:30/mile

Wednesday should have been an easy run, but between work (trying to get ready to be out of the office for a week) and some issues I've been having with my left foot, it was a couch day.

Nothing says fun like an 11 hour day at the office followed by a Groundhog Day workout.  I have a love/hate relationship with running repeats.  They're really f-ing hard, but I feel like they do a lot to make me faster and these repeats weren't the standard 400 meter type.  The training plan called for 4x800.  Oh yeah...800 meters (about a half a mile) of running really fast, followed by a 2 minutes of recovery time.  It was almost completely dark out by the time I finished my warm up, so I ended up doing my intervals by running back and forth down the main drag of a nearby, well-lit, and heavily patrolled office park.  I may have looked ridiculous to the security guys, but I'm pleased to say that I nailed my goal paces for the workout.

Warm Up: .5 miles @ 10:14 pace
Interval 1: .5 miles @ 8:38 pace
Interval 2: .5 miles @ 8:48 pace
Interval 3: .5 miles @ 8:44 pace
Interval 4: .5 miles @ 8:42 pace
Cool Down: .17 miles @ 10:02 pace

Now I need to work on doing the rest periods at a slower run, not a pokey walk!

Friday: 10 hour work day + last minute errands = No Workout

Saturday: It would have been nice to take my new ride out on the road, but the all day mist interspersed with downpours made that impossible.  Mr. R&R and I started our day out with a damp walk through The Zoo for a special behind-the-scenes tour event.  The "special" tours were pretty unimpressive with the exception of the fish/reptile tour.  There's a 55,000 gallon fish tank known as Lake Wisconsin, containing examples of native fish species, in that building and we got to see it from above, which was really crazy looking.  Apparently there's 55,000 gallons of water in the main tank and another 55,000 gallons of Lake Michigan water being tempered for circulation below it - and they get water deliveries daily!  Additionally, some of the fish in that tank would be considered record-sized if they were caught in the wild.

Lake Wisconsin From Above
As unimpressed as we were by most of the tours, there were plenty of other animals willing to ham it up for our amusement; including these bongos who posed for their best impression of American Gothic.

After a few hours of schlepping around in the drizzle, we headed home and Mr. R&R hit The Cave while I hit the couch for a short nap!  Once he finished his workout and headed off to his monthly massage appointment, it was my turn.  I figured out how to get the new bike into the trainer, set myself up with something to watch, and spun in place for the next 45 minutes.  Holy sweatfest.
I rode for 45 minutes and covered about 12.5 miles at a pretty decent speed - the best I've done on the new wheels so far.

I was dripping sweat after the first mile and was pretty sure that I was going to keel over when I climbed off, but I scurried up the stairs and into the rain for a 1 mile transition run. 9:23 average...not bad right off the bike!

Sunday: Gone Camping

Week 1 Totals:
Bike: 12.58 miles
Run: 11.15 miles
Total Miles: 23.73 miles
Total Time: 2:34:10

Week 2 (August 30th - September 6th)
I may have been gone camping, but that doesn't mean that I sat on my ass with a book and a beer the whole time - just most of it. Mr. R&R and I hiked about 5 miles of the Ice Age trail in blistering sun and swarms of mosquitos.  Activity always makes me feel better about my beer consumption!

Tuesday was all about packing up, heading home, and doing the mountain of laundry that results from camping!

I was on vacation all week, so I laced up my shoes and went for a nice 4 mile run around 8:30am.  It was already pretty hot out and I'm happy I got it over with early.  It also did't hurt that it meant not having to ruin my hair right after The Mane Wrangler finished covering up the grays and making it all shiny, straight, and pretty!

I also made a pitstop at Emery's today to pick up an aero bottle which will allow me to drink on the bike without having to come to a complete stop and wiggle a water bottle out of the cage inside my tiny bike frame.  After some installation issues, I hopped on and gave it a try.  I think some fine tuning is going to be required.

I spent 90 minutes auditioning yet another massage therapist.  Ever since my massage guru left the industry at the end of May, I've been working my way through other therapists in the practice trying to find a match.  The first one was a resounding 'No' (The guy left me in pain for 3 days after).  The next two were good, but not as awesome as the therapist I was used to.  I think my search may finally be over - and not a moment too soon.

When Mr. R&R got home for work, we both wanted to ride, but night was fast approaching so we decided to do a quick local loop. was a local loop, but it was anything but quick due to too many intersections and a multi-use trail that had us riding the brakes the whole way. 35 minutes to ride just under 7 miles?  Grrrrr.  Additionally, my new aero bottle kept getting out of whack every time I hit a bump - and there were a lot of bumps.  More fine tuning will be required before this thing sees the light of day again.

I swear it was so hot outside you could have fried an egg on my driveway.  I had the urge to do something, but the thought of going outside was just unbearable, so I filled up my aero bottle, plopped myself on the trainer in front of a movie,  blasted a fan in my face, and rode for an hour.  I was up and down from aero about every 5 minutes, but it's getting better.  I seem to be able to stay in aero a little longer every time.  After the ride, I had a text waiting from Maverick telling me to hightail it to the bar because everyone (her, Mr. R&R, Yada Yada, WhoHa, and some other people) was there.  I dove into the shower and was presentable and on my way out the door in 25 minutes!

Mr. R&R and I caught the hiking bug again while we were camping so we set out to finish off the Lapham Peak Segment of the Ice Age Trail.  It was hot, but fun - and hopefully I'll be updating our hiking blog in the relatively near future.

After a 4.5 mile hike in the heat, we headed home so I could clean up and meet my little sister and her friends to go bridesmaid dress shopping.  Yep...Little Sis is getting married next spring!  Mr. R&R and I also spent quality time hacking together a tool to fix my aero bottle problems that night.

And let's not forget the most important part of Saturday...Walter's 6th Birthday!!!!!

Birthday Bunny!!!!

On Friday night, Yada Yada invited us to join him and Texas on a long, slow ride from their house to a little town about 20 miles away for lunch.  We loaded up and headed North to ride "All The Hills".  I'm happy to say that I think I'm finally getting comfortable on the new bike, which we were all jokingly calling 'The High Maintenance Bitch'.  We stopped in the town of Cedarburg for lunch (mmm...salty fries) and to refill our water bottles before reversing our route back to Yada Yada  and Texas' house.

Pretty bikes all in a row on the restaurant patio
When we were done, I had officially logged the longest ride I've ever done: 38.55 miles - and my aero bottle stayed put!

Week 2 Totals:
Bike: 64.27 miles
Run: 4.16 miles
Hiking: 9.49 miles
Total Miles: 77.92 miles
Total Time: 9:05:45

What's the longest bike ride you've ever been on?  Done any hiking lately?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I Needed A Reason...Or Two.

It's been a weird summer.  I haven't really had the motivation to workout because I had absolutely nothing on my calendar to train for.  In some ways, I think I'm still recovering from the burnout I was suffering at the end of last year and in others, I think I've just been kind of lazy.  Don't get me wrong, I've still been running here and there and I've spent a lot of time on my bike, but it was all 'just for fun'.  I needed a goal.  A Reason.  So I found two.

That all changed about two weeks ago when I accompanied Mr. R&R to Emery's in search of new pedals and bike shoes.  While he was deep in the process of figuring out what kind of shoes/pedals he wanted, I wandered around the store looking at bikes.  Well...some women are susceptible to shoe sales.  Apparently I am susceptible to bike sales.  I wasn't really planning on upgrading to a triathlon bike (at least not any time soon, but I've slowly been stashing money away thinking it was a possibility), but there just so happened to be a few bikes that caught my eye, so I hunted down the owner, Brent, and asked him about them.  The next thing I knew a brand new, shiny Quintana Roo Kilo was locked in a trainer and I was perched on top of it, pedaling in flip flops.  While this was going on, Brent was telling me about a used bike, a 2014 Trek Speed Concept 7.0, that would be available after the weekend (it was being rented out for USAT Nationals) that I might be interested in as well.  I'm pretty sure I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.  A brand new Speed Concept 7.0 was way out of my price range, but the used one was about the same price as the QR Kilo.  I promptly made an appointment to come in and test ride both bikes the following week.

I arrived at Emery's on the appointed day, which just so happened to be the day and time of Mr. R&R's pedal and cleat fitting, and Brent set about getting both bikes 'rough fitted' to me and then handed me my helmet and instructed me to take the QR outside for a test ride.  GULP.  Mr. R&R accompanied me for a painfully slow loop around the neighborhood while I figured out how to ride in the aero position (nearly laying down on the aero bars).  It was definitely a really cool, and really nerve-wracking experience.  As soon as we returned to the shop, Brent handed me the Speed Concept and I repeated the process. I was still slower than molasses in January, but I felt much more stable on the Speed Concept - enough to take a corner almost completely in aero.  It felt like I was trying to ride a bike for the first time since the shifting, braking, steering, and riding position are all completely different from what I'm used to.

After a little discussion of my likes/dislikes about both bikes, I took the plunge.  I bought the Trek Speed Concept and set up another appointment to come in for a more detailed fitting.  That fitting involved a lot of precision measurements and adjustments, pedaling my ass off for almost 2 hours, a different saddle, and some serious anxiety when I was sent outside alone to try the bike out one more time, but by the end of the night, my new bike came home with me and I was dying to try it out.

I got my chance to do just that bright and early on Saturday morning.  Mr. R&R and I loaded up our bikes and drove out to Yada Yada's house about 45 minutes away.  Yada Yada rides a similar style of bike and had generously agreed to provide some coaching.  Another friend of Mr. R&R and Yada Yada's, EuroGuy, also came along for the ride.  I was a little apprehensive about riding with all those guys, especially since I knew there was no way in hell I was going to be riding my usual speed while I figured out my new ride, but they were all totally cool about my turtle pace.  It's a good thing too, because Yada Yada took us on a route that had all the hills and corn fields.  I definitely figured out how to ride aero while climbing and on the few flats that existed.

Photo Credit: EuroGuy

 In total, we rode about 22 miles, with a stop for breakfast at the half way point.  After bidding Yada Yada and EuroGuy goodbye, Mr. R&R and I drove over to the little lake Yada Yada had shown us last summer and jumped in for a short, cool down swim.  I'm happy to say that I didn't wear my wetsuit and I didn't have a panic attack!

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I'm kind of missing the multi-sport life, but hopefully I won't be missing it much longer.  If I can get in a few more solid outdoor rides (and back up to a decent rate of speed) I'd like to sign up for the Lake Country Duathlon - a 2 mile run/17 mile ride/ 2 mile run.  It sounds like it might be a good place for my new ride to make its racing debut.

Next up is running.  Obviously I need to step up my running game if I'm going to do the duathlon, but I haven't done any real distance training since Rock 'n Sole and fall usually provides my favorite kind of running weather, so I decided to register for the Discovery Run 15k on October 31st.  Yes...the day after then end of Hell Month.  I figure it's as good a reason as any not to go out and pound martinis after work that Friday night!   I've never raced this distance before, so it's an automatic PR, but I'd like to do a little better than that, so I have a training plan...let's see what happens!

I'm also looking forward to the Discovery Run because it always has a theme and this year's theme is Rocky Horror Picture Show.  A bunch of my tri friends are planning to be there and the race director (who you all know as the Iron Cheerleader) has promised that he will be dressing up as Dr. Frankfurter.  This should be long as he doesn't expect me to do the Time Warp at the finish line! Oh who am I kidding?  I should probably add "dance rehearsal" to my training plan.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Gone Camping

It's been so long since Mr. R&R and I have gone camping that I actually had to look back through my blog archives to see when the last time was (it was April 2013 if you're curious).  Fortunately Mr. R&R and I were able to take a few days off and remedy that!

We packed up on a Sunday afternoon and headed for our favorite state park - and our favorite campsite in that park.  Usually we go camping on weekends in much colder weather, so we really had no idea what to expect in terms of how many other campers would be around.  We were both hoping for 'not a lot' since we were both seeking peace and quiet - and we got our wish.  We set up our tent on the top level of our multi-level site to keep it away from campfire smoke and cooking smells - and to keep it in near-constant shade since the temperatures were predicted to soar into the upper 80's on Monday and Tuesday and neither of us wanted to sleep in a superheated sweatbox.

Tent. Sweet Tent.

After getting our tent all set up, we took a quick walk around the surrounding loops of campsites and confirmed that there were only a handful of other campers in the area.  YES!!!!  We filled up our water containers on the way back to our site and when we arrived, Mr. R&R set to work building a fire and I made a quick dinner (burgers and mashed potatoes).  Once our bellies were full, we plopped ourselves into our lounge chairs with our Kindles.  We also tried something we've never tried before while camping:

Now THAT's a juice box!
Our usual camping beverage of choice, besides water, is beer because it's easy to transport, keep cold, etc.  Move over beer...boxed wine just replaced you on camping trips!  There's about 3 glasses of wine in each little box and they're easy to re-cap, so there was no pressure to drink the whole thing in one go. And don't worry, the glasses are plastic, not actual glass!

We both slept surprisingly well (the temperatures were in the low 60's) and after a quick breakfast, we headed off to explore part of the Ice Age trail.

Follow the Yellow Blaze Trail
The trailhead was about a mile from our campsite and we almost missed it because the yellow blaze was nearly obliterated by the trees.  We headed North along the trail and were both instantly drenched in sweat from a combination of the rising temperatures and the hills.  The wooded section offered some relief from the heat, but had swarms of mosquitos.  The prairie sections were blessedly free of bugs, but it was so hot without tree cover that it left us almost looking forward to another bout with the mosquitos.

After a few miles, and questions about why we don't hike more, we turned around and found a side trail back to the campground. We both chugged lots of water and did our best to stay cool for the rest of the afternoon.  Finally, neither of us could take it any more.  We both made our way to the campground's shower building.  I'm not a fan of showering at campgrounds (or at gyms, pools, etc.), but between the sweat, bug spray, sunscreen, and campfire smell, it was worth it.  There's something to be said for camping in cool weather...where 3 of those factors really don't come into play!

Since Mr. R&R had built the previous night's fire (and all the fires on all of our previous trips), it was my turn to attempt to make a fire.  I always mean to try, but then it never ends up happening.  It took a little doing, but eventually I managed to make fire...

And Mr. R&R made this absolutely delicious dinner:

More wine and Kindle time ensued (I read 2 books and started a third over the course of the weekend) and eventually neither of us could keep our eyes open any more.

This morning we were awakened by some pissed off crows squawking overhead, but didn't mind too much because we'd both slept really well...again!  It was already pretty warm, so we skipped breakfast in favor of packing up and heading home.  All in all, it was a great trip and I really hope it's not another two years before we get out again.