Thursday, November 26, 2009

Perfect T-Day Morning

Oops, guess the racing isn't done yet! PRs all around Thanksgiving morning for the Prazak girls. Of them all, I couldn't be more proud of my sister Karlee. At the end of October, she decided she wanted to do her first 10k run—her first organized race—at the Dana Point Turkey Trot, and it was my mission to prepare her in 25 days. She had never run more than 4-5 miles, let alone at any sort of "race pace." However, she is athletic and exercises up at Cal Poly, so we at least had a fitness base to work with.

Her goal was to run the 10k in 1 hour, a ~9:39 pace. Definitely a challenge for her. Not easy for me, either: I had to assign her adequate training miles without overdoing it or causing injury in a very short time period. My first test as a coach. Her longest run was 7 miles, about two weeks or so before the race. I incorporated a good amount of cross-training too.

Then, of course, she got sick—as do most college students who party, work, study and burn the candle at both ends. She still trained, but even up to Thanksgiving morning she wasn't in perfect health. Basically coughing up a lung. The day before she was clearly uncertain if 1 hour was possible—and the way she sounded sick-wise, I wasn't too sure either.

Mom & sis on race morning... cold

But, my sister has that competitive spirit that is deeply innate in my family, and she got her 1-hour 10k! And now she says she's ready to tackle a sprint triathlon in 2010! Yaaayyyy.

My mom also pulled off a PR performance crossing at around 50 mins, a solid 3 min improvement from years past. Gettin better with age... excited to see what she pulls off at Vineman 70.3 next July!

See Mom in blue, bottom right, charging through. Notice the major congestion in this 4,000-person 10k!

As for my 10k, a few things: 1) The knee appears to be ok & problem fixed, let's hope, so I was cleared to run. 2) I'm in total recovery/offseason mode so no big expectations; however, 3) in all my previous 10ks I was in way crappier shape, so chances of me PRing were high even without trying my hardest.

Plus, Sara was running with me, and I think that got me to push the pace a little more... we were side by side the whole time, and according to my Garmin, we averaged 7:18 miles (negative splitting the whole time) and finished in just over 46 min. If that doesn't add up it's because the course was long, ~6.4 mi.

Sara & I

For the most part I felt pretty good; although, that "goodness" started fading toward the end... ouch. Amazing how fast you can lose fitness, learned this in the pool over the week too. Sara, however, was solid the whole time—or at least she looked that way. I love having fast friends/training partners, doesn't allow me any room to slack off!

I couldn't help but laugh, and be pleased, looking at my past performances at the DP Turkey Trot:

2007- 53:06, hey-o slow! Must have been hungover ;) I do remember a shoe coming untied.
2008- 48:24, coming off knee surgery & in torrential down-pouring the whole time
2009- 46:06, a week after half-ironman

I need to start building a running resume. I've actually never raced a half-marathon (only in 70.3s) nor have I had an "A" priority 10k—they've all been for fun or on a whim. But that will change in 2010, first with C-bad half in January. Should be interesting!

Prazaks happy like we're on prozac... I'm thining- feed me turkey and pumpkin pie mmm!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

70.3 Championships: Last RR of the Year

First off, THANK YOU! The most special thing about racing in Clearwater was the support I received from everyone--family, friends and my random Internet amigos. I traveled out to Florida all on my own; yet, never once did I feel alone. At the beginning of this year, I could count my triathlon friends on one hand... no longer the case. And that does wonders for my racing. To know people are Athlete Tracking me or even just thinking of me is the best motivator possible. So thanks to everyone who reads this blog and to everyone who sent me a good luck message at some point.

So Florida. Imagine sunny blue skies, high temperatures, humid air, mellow sea breezes and a sparkling crystal-clear ocean. Then throw all that away and replace it with overcast gray skies, cold temps, angry oceans and gnarly winds. Yup, that's what I arrived to. Well, actually, I arrived at 1 a.m., so I couldn't really assess the weather till sunrise. From my hotel room in the Holiday Innnnnn, this is the ickiness I saw: This pic doesn't do the choppy, currenty mayhem justice:
I meant to get in a little workout Thursday, but the day got away from me. From meeting up with friends, athlete check-in, bike pickup and finding the local grocery store to stock up, before I knew it the sun was setting and I was headed to the Athlete Dinner with Ben and Perry (met Ben back in Kona). We rode our bikes over to Sand Key Park--probably not the best idea because it was pitch-black riding back, but I let the boys lead the way so they could eat it and not me. (No one ate it.) By the way, I was very impressed with the dinner served to us. Honestly, it was better than what we got in Kona! And we even got big ol' M-dot cookies!

Thursday night, I noticed the problem with my bike. Thank god I was able to get it fixed Friday. Lesson learned: Always get to an Ironman with at least two days to hang out before the race to adjust, settle in and take care of any potential disasters.

Friday morning I went on a ride with fast people from SD: Chris Berg and Lauren Chiodini. It was my first time hanging out with Lauren, and glad I did! Besides the fact she's A LOT faster than me, we are very similar: same age, from south OC, played volleyball for the same club, high schools were in the same league so our VB teams played each other, college in SD, mutual friends. Parallel lives that finally crossed in Clearwater. Small world. I'm stoked b/c now I have another chick training partner who kicks ass! (It's always good to have fast friends rather than AG rivals)
After the three of us rode part of the course for about an hour, it was time to check in the bike and gear bags. It's pretty cool to get your own escort through transition. Very VIP-ish.
As tempting as it was to play outside all afternoon (the weather had improved a ton!), I instead sat on my butt for probably eight hours watching movies, texting, talking on the phone, FB-ing, eating---RESTING. I did nothing that actually required intelligence. It was pretty awesome. And since I had a kitchenette in my room, I didn't even have to leave for dinner. I was all prepared and had a perfect pre-race meal.

For the first time ever I didn't have trouble sleeping. Woke up energized at 4:30. Did the usual routine, had the usual oatmeal concoction then headed out and walked the ~15-min trek to transition. Once there, I realized I forgot my swim goggles. Crap. The only time I was wishing I had a sherpa with me; instead, I jogged back and grabbed the goggles. Still made it to transition with time to spare. Whew. Chatted with friends, and was feeling calm. Even in those few last minutes as I got corralled to the swim start line, I was talking with Colleen, and it was as mellow as if we were in the ticket line at the movies, not about to start a half-Ironman Championship race. Sucked down a last gel and it was go time.

As you may have heard, the swim course changed from the Gulf to the bay due to the insane chop and currents in the sea. As a result we had a "time trial" start. Huh? A first for me; I was clueless until I was doing it: single-file line, walk to the end of a little dock, plop into the 3-feet-ish deep water (no diving) and get going one at a time. It was weird. A very anticlimactic beginning to the race.

As always, I was blinded by the rising sun. Ridiculous! My saving grace was being in the mix of swimmers and letting them guide me from buoy to buoy. The good thing about time-trial starts is that there's no massive crowd of people thrashing around at the beginning. However, about 10 min into my swim, the faster guys who started behind me were catching me and I got the token MAJOR blow to the head. Had to stop and regroup for a good 30-40 seconds. Ouch. But overall, I felt pretty good swimming. The only other bad part was the taste/smell of the water--like pure diesel. Nauseating.

Exiting the swim was a challenge. We had to narrow into a tiny little dock, while dodging wooden poles in the water. The exit was right by a red pirate ship (random), which helped to sight. Still, I slipped and tripped climbing up that little ramp. By the time I hit the mat it was just over 35 minutes. But I think my swim time was sub-35 if you don't count the inefficient exit I had. A PR for me! (Now I'm setting my sights on 32 min or faster for Oceanside in March.)

Thanks Heidi (Lauren's mom) for getting pics of me! Too nice...

Wetsuit strippers rock. But the whole bag thing/changing tents was new and I was confused. Slower transitions than normal, but whatever.

My one time to shine. Like I said before, I was determined to stay away from any drafting. Didn't care if that meant a lower ranking/slower split. I wanted to ride my own 56 miles. Unfortunately my knee was bothering me right away. I was pissed. But since the bike doesn't pound the knee like running, I said to myself, "Screw it--if there's a change I can't run the full 13.1 miles b/c of the knee, I might as well hammer the bike as hard as I can to shoot for a good split."

Generally the course is pancake flat, but there are several gradual hills--nothing major. Plus there are a lot of turns and narrow roads. It's a good recipe for drafting, even if you're not trying. I can see how it's easy to get caught up in a pack. You literally have to stop/slow way down to avoid them. Which I did. A bummer, but it is what it is.

I still very much loved my bike experience. (In another life, I'll be a pro cyclist.)

I've almost perfected my bike nutrition, this time taking in a variety of gels every 20-30 min, sipping G2, water and water+Nuun—like clockwork. Next 70.3, however, I will bring along some actual food. I need to mix it up with the gels, which get nauseating after a while.

By mile 49 I was so ready for the bike to be over. Another indicator that I'm not yet ready to do a full Ironman. Total bike time- 2:31, avg 22.2 mph—major PR.

Oops, I tried something new. Proof (see shoes attached to pedals)....

First of all, this run IS NOT flat. The bridge you run over 4x is a painfully long ~12% grade uphill—like full on ships travel underneath it, a lot bigger than I expected. Of course, you get to run down the other side, but it still sucks. (Looks like the bridge in the picture posted above.)

I started off strong, ignoring the knee pain as best I could because the thought of a DNF killed me—really, it wasn't an option, I'd walk if necessary. At first, I held a good pace from low 8's to sub-7's. I made it through the first loop in decent time. Then sh*t hit the fan. The knee was aching. My body was aching. I wanted so badly to at least hold an 8-min pace, but toward the end I fell apart. Yes, the knee undoubtedly played a role, but really the fact is my legs just didn't want to go anymore. (Yet another reason why Ironman can wait a couple years.)

I still PR'd the run, going sub-1:50. But I wanted to do better than that! Grrr! With all those painful hours spent running, I should have done better than that!!!

I somehow managed to pick up my pace to ~7:30 for the last mile+, realizing I was getting close to the 5-hr mark. Just missed it. I crossed at 5-0-stupid-1. Immediately, I beelined for medical to ice my knee.

Meanwhile, I was afraid to remove my shoes and see the blister damage on my arches. But, I'm starting to connect the dots: Those blisters are definitely caused by my high-arched-feet-gone-flat, which, in turn causes me to run in poor form and, thus, the knee pain. Ha! Biomechanics in action! Changes are being made.... I think I've caught the problem before it's too late!!!

The post-race food was pretty crappy, especially the pizza. That disappointed me more than the :01 attached to my 5-hour finish. I ate just enough to hold me over, said some hellos to friends, then rode my bike back to the hotel, crazy, I know. Ate some real good food there.

I thought I'd fit in a nap, but it never happened. Next thing I knew, I was headed to the Awards Dinner with Ben, Lauren and crew. A view of Sand Key Park/Awards Dinner from my room:I felt great Saturday night, believe it or not. My body is getting used to half-Ironman racing on some level... earlier this year, after Oceanside I pretty much was worthless by 4 p.m., after Vineman I had about 1 glass of wine and was dozing off at dinner (remember, Ian?). But at Clearwater I charged through the night until almost 2 a.m.

Besides the most hilarious awards speech ever given by Michael Raelert (winner), the two things Clearwater's awards had that Kona lacked:
Awesome fireworks...
Best mini key lime pies ever... After awards, I got our dinner crew to meet up with the Breakaway Training crew at the Sheraton Hotel bar. With a drunk Chris drinking foo-fooey appletinis, Felipe's birthday, two podium athletes in the mix (Lauren and Ben's friend), me & my wine, a friendly bartender and post-race delirium, good times were had. See pictures on FB.

I continued on to the post-race party at Shepherd's, where only the hardcore racers were still up and energized ;) Triathletes can be like monks before a big race, but man can they also party and drink hard when all is said and done. Pretty funny to see. I danced for quite a while—don't know how considering my knee hated me and the legs were stiff and sore. You only live once, though, and who knows if I'll ever be back in Clearwater to race.

As expected, I felt like total crap on Sunday. Like a semi-truck had rammed into me.... repeatedly. But successfully made the long journey home. And offseason has officially begun. Ahhhhhh :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brief Clearwater 70.3 Recap

I have tons to do today, including getting a new cell phone thanks to a silly mistake on Saturday night, so a real race report on Clearwater will certainly be up soon. But for now, here's a few thoughts (and photos) from my Ironman 70.3 World Championship experience:

1. Drafting
Yup, it's all over the place. Here's how I dealt: I didn't go into the race with hopes of landing on the podium. I knew jumping into a peloton of riders would be my only shot at moving up the ranks, and that just was not worth it to me. So I'm proud to say my bike time was all my own effort; I refused to get caught up in a big group, despite many opportunities to do so. However, in letting the many pelotons pass, I was forced to slow down majorly—like get up out of aero, stop pedaling and go from 23-25 mph to 15-16 mph to let the pack pass... every time it felt like an eternity. I'm certain my bike split would be at least 4-5 min faster had I been able to keep going my own pace and not slow down to avoid draft packs. It's crazy that drafting, and honesty, can slow you down from your true potential.

2. My Goal
I got it! Plus one stupid minute. 5:01... I hate that :01. Oh well. I'm still going to say I PR'd by "about 20 minutes" since Vineman (40 min since O-side). That time was good enough to get me top 10 in 20-24F... I'll take it!

3. I PR'd in all three
Swim- 35 min
Bike- 2:31
Run- 1:49

My swim has improved by 4 minutes since my first half-IM this year at O-side, and my run by about 5 minutes. I wanted a better run, I know I could have executed a better run based on how training was going, but Saturday wasn't my day to do so, mostly because of my knee. As for the bike, given my blatant slow-downs and vow to ride on my own, I'm content with my time and the improvement I made.

4. The knee
So, what's up with my knee? Well, I've had a lingering "issue" for several weeks now—I've been in denial (an "If I don't acknowledge it, maybe it will disappear" sort of thing). But it's there: Medial pain on my R knee (from surgery? who knows). The pain subsided during taper, so I prayed that meant it was gone for good. Nope. As soon as I hoped on the bike, I felt it. I was literally wondering if I'd be able to run the full 13.1. I took Ibuprofen the days before, during and after the race to mask the pain (5 or so?). But I think wanting to finish the race decently well no matter what helped more than some pills. Hopefully I didn't do a lot of damage by running on it for that long. Thankfully, as of now, Sunday, I'm not in constant pain. I'll find out what's really wrong as soon as I can get in to see my knee specialist.
Me on the right:
5. Everything broke and now I'm broke
My bike: When I picked up my bike from TriBike Transport it was making this awful grinding noise and each revolution felt clunky—definitely not normal, not good. Ahhhh!!! Took it to bike tech, and in about 1 min, Taz determined I needed a new chain. What a rookie! $100 later, my bike was repaired and raced beautifully.

My watch: My trusty Timex watch also saw it's last days in Clearwater. Thankfully it waited until after the race to die on me. I'll miss that little guy, he's been through a lot with me in the last couple of years and never failed me. I'm thankful he held on for one last hurrah.

My phone: On Saturday night I was washing my face, and it was late. Like 1 something in the morning. I had just gotten in from the night's celebratory festivities and, yes, I had consumed alcohol, but by no means was I wasted. Just exhausted (rightfully so!). In one clumsy sweep, my cell phone was in the sink, in a pool of soapy water. It's still hanging on by a thread, but I'll be getting a new phone asap.

Conclusion: Triathlon = $$$$$. Doing Clearwater all on my own—no travel mates, no sponsors, no financial aid—wasn't cheap, but it was worth it... The nightly view from my room:And on that note, family and friends be warned: this coming holiday season, instead of presents you can expect big hugs and homemade "stuff" from me.

That's it for now. back to work for me. I'll have my full race report in a couple of days. I have lots of good stories, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nope, not giving up my coffee...

...because I'm waking up stupidly early this week to help adjust to Florida time and the extremely early wakeup I'll have Saturday (~1 a.m. pacific time). It's so much easier for Californians to adjust for Kona! But thankfully I changed my flight and am now headed out Wednesday, so by Thursday I'll be waking up in a Gulf-view room on Clearwater Beach... doubt I'll have trouble waking up at that point. (fyi - Southwest didn't charge me for changing my flight, wow.)

I'm also keeping a close eye on Hurricane Ida. At this point, it looks like Ida is a now a tropical storm--it "weakened" as it hit Alabama with winds averaging only 45 mph. Psshh haha.
Photo courtesy AP
Even though it looks like the storm is headed in Florida's direction, the forecast for CW is showing that race day shouldn't be anything too gnarly--predicted weather is partly cloudy, high of 79, 20% chance of rain. What do I know, though. Whatever the case ends up being, I'm ready! The more extreme, the better the race report, right?

In the meantime I have to hammer through two major exams this afternoon, back-to-back, in Environmental Exercise Phys and Stats. (Another reason why I refuse to drop the caffeine this week.) I'd much rather be lounging around stress-free, packing and getting as much extra rest as possible, but life had other plans for me. At least I won't have to study on the plane ride home, yuck. However, I have a power-point presentation to do next Monday in Sports Nutrition and am toying with the idea of practicing in front of the passengers on the plane home. Doubt they'll care about fish oil supplementation though. Maybe if I hand out free samples. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


It's winding down, only 11 more days until Clearwater! I feel as ready as I can be both physically and mentally. I've trained well and have had fun with it, not too much not too little. In short: I'm super excited to race. Refreshed & ready!

Although I've been training hard, particularly on my swim and run, I'm having fun and keeping busy with other aspects of life, too. Maintaining that balance in my life has helped a lot—I'm definitely a happier triathlete! Unless the day comes where I'm an elite racer and have pro potential, there's no reason to live like a monk for this sport. (Acutally, I'm just trying to justify why I stayed up too late and drank too much on Halloween...oops.)

My goal for Clearwater is to PR my half-Ironman time. That's it. Of course I'll always strive to do my best in my AG, but there are fast ladies at World Championship races, and going in the 4:30 range just isn't something I'm capable of yet (stress the yet!!). I'm totally fine with that. Everyone says, "Oh it's a flat course, you're going to kill it." I'll do what I can. And I guarantee I'll race my own race out there.

Until Nov. 14, though, I have a lot going on with work and school (more tests, more presentations, more meetings)... so I'll finish this up with a few pictures that explain why my bike ride on Nov. 1 was not pretty. Yea, I almost hurled on the side of the road several times. But the fun I had on Halloween was well worth it, and thankfully I had gotten in my last key long bike and long run in before the party.

Some of the boys I grew up with (I was the only girl in our neighborhood... hmmm)

This guy (the "Mexican whistle dude") poured a shot down my throat faster than I could react and say no! Ew. Bearded Lady in the background.

My friend Dave's costume... the shirt says "Ask me about my zombie costume."

So I did...

Best costume I saw...