Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Running Around, Even in a Race! (RR Included)

What a weekend! From a picture-perfect long ride along PCH to a unexpected late night out with good friends Saturday (so fun, but so not conducive to my lifestyle) to an awesome house guest on Sunday-Monday, and so much more... it was a good one. Somehow I even managed to work a little every day too (workaholic, much?). Needless to say, I feel totally wiped out today from all the running around as of late, and it might turn out to be a day off from training, despite "the plan." We'll see. Must listen to the body. With all I've been doing, I can't believe I haven't gotten sick yet, but right now I feel like that could soon change.

Scene from long ride along the coast... pretty much the standard scene for the weekend:

The highlight of my long weekend was running the Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half Marathon Monday morning. It's been more than a month since I've done a race (so sad) because "real life" has taken over -- I've had to budget both my time and dollars wisely, and racing hasn't fit into that scenario, unfortunately. I wish I could do it all, but that's life. So you can imagine my excitement to run the half, even if it was a C-level race on fatigued legs. Self-inflicted pain? Yes please! In fact, that was part of my excitement. It's been another two BIG weeks of Ironman training, with one day off before the half. I wanted to see how my body would fare amidst this IM training stuff, not to mention a "new" life that's keeping me busy outside of training, but that's another story ;) Even on Sunday, walking up stairs burned and hurt, so I knew I was in for it on Monday.

I didn't set a specific finishing goal, and I told ER to expect me anywhere from 1:35 to 1:45 (she was doing the 5K to test her speed sillzzz, so she'd have to wait around for me. Btw, her 5K pursuit sounded crazier than what I was doing. 5Ks suck, but I was stoked for her wanting to test that side of fitness). Anyways, in an A race, I'd be much more focused on setting time goals, establishing a detailed strategy, doing course recon, that sort of thing. But this race was simply a fun way to replace my usual weekend long run and feel a little bit of that race adrenaline I was craving. That said, A- or C-level race, I'd still give it my all because, heck, I don't do it any other way. Bring on 13.1 miles of hurt.

The LH Half Mary course is interesting. It's lots of rolling hills the first 70% of the race, with the first ~5 miles netting a slight elevation loss overall. You hit Aliso Woods Canyon for the middle chunk, and that is a combo of ups & downs, outs & backs. The ups hurt, but then again so do the downs ;) The last 30%, or about 4.5 miles, is all uphill, some parts steeper than others, but overall a gradual climb back to the finish. Ouch! Everyone was saying how much that last section would hurt and to "save some" in the tank.

The gun went off just after 7 a.m., and I kept it moderate RPE-wise not "bat outta hell," which put me at ~7:20s in the beginning; that would help me still stay sub-8:00 in those last tough miles. My legs and hips -- heck, my whole body -- felt very stiff until about mile 3+. Pretty standard for someone in IM training from what I've been told. Or maybe it was the couple glasses of wine the night prior. Who knows ;) Thankfully, my HR and cardiovascular system felt great for the pace.

I ran with one of my athletes, Ray (the one with the hair) for about a mile, and that was a blast. I pulled ahead of him and then saw another friend who's a member at my gym. He's getting faster, I can tell... I say it's the fitness classes he takes with us!! :) Then at mile 5ish, I saw my boss/training partner, Mike, and was like, "What's up biaaatch?! There you are! I thought you bailed on this race!" (I didn't see him lined up at the start like I expected.) We chatted for maybe 2 minutes then he took off at a pace that was too much for me.

About 50-60 minutes into the race I thought disaster might strike. I didn't take a second bathroom break before the race because I would have been late to the start line, but I knew I needed that break. I was starting to feel it. I prayed that I wouldn't have an accident. God must have answered me because that terrifying sensation of needing "to go" went away. Was it mind over matter? Was it God watching over me? Was it my experience of having to hold it? Who knows, but I was glad I got past that.

By then we were weaving through Aliso Canyon. I can't even describe how perfect the weather was at 8 a.m. -- cloudless and brisk but warm -- and how beautiful the natural scenery was in the undeveloped canyon. "This is why I do this," I said to myself. I also love the entertainment I get during races by looking at the other runners. Got to love the peeps in tutus, or women in full makeup or how about the folks with enough nutrition strapped on them to last for a week ;)

Then I noticed reality: My pace was starting to slow a bit, and on uphills I was dipping into the 8:00s. No good. I started playing mental games of "shit how am I going to hang on to my sub-8:00 pace for another 5ish miles if it's only going to get more difficult?!" Then on an out-and-back I saw a couple people I knew who weren't that far behind me, people that I had to beat. That was the little motivation I needed to go hard in the last ~4.5 miles of uphill. During that stretch another fire of motivation lit within me when I saw the 1:40-pace-sign-holder dude. My goal became to go sub-1:40. "I may be fatigued from Ironman training," I said, "but I refuse to go over 1:40 in an open half." I was cutting it close, though, so I really had to get goin.

Those last miles were in the 7:30s overall. I was on pace to go sub 1:40 by mere seconds. Then the very very last section was the steepest hill of all! Bastards! (Just kidding). But seriously, it was maybe only 50 yards, but steep as hell leading into the finishline chute. I was going 150% to make it in time. And I did. 1:39 and change. Turns out, I was 2nd in my AG. That never happens in open running races, everyone probably slept in I guess haha.

Being the competitor I am and with how much training I do, of course I would have liked to have finished closer to my PR time of 1:36 and change. (Ian, your "drink the night before and PR the next day" theory didn't work for me. Probably just didn't drink enough haha.) But all things considered, it was a great race for me all around on a tough little course. I did what I set out to do: enjoy a morning geeking out on a race (man do I love geeking out on races!), push my body hard and test how much Ironman training is affecting my body. It was eye-opening to see that, yes, I may be missing a little bit of that speed I'm capable of pulling off, but the positive finding is that I know I'm able to do more and more SBR day after day after day after day without blowing up.

ER and I post-race. I'm wearing my new Ignis kit! And no, D, the Zoot bottle wasn't strategically placed :) I must brag that ER killed the 5k and podiumed in our AG too!!! And she was running on fatigued legs as well. Ya girl!

The rest of the day rounded out what was an ideal weekend, in a double-life kind of way. (I'm not going to try and explain that one, but trust me it makes sense. It's an odd style of "balance" you could say.) Anyways, ER and I hit up brunch and mimosas at a local Laguna Beach cafe followed by some shopping (she bought, I browsed) and then had some much-needed beach time/girl talk. Great day. I was out cold by 9 p.m.

*Note to self (because, yes, I refer back to race reports to remember things haha): Keep an eye on that nagging R leg thing that surfaced after Fri ride and in the middle miles of half-mary. Must keep that at bay.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sigh of Relief

Time for a full life update. Last week was a big one on all fronts. Had that big presentation to give, lots of work to do, talks with new people about potential new work, more shopping for the new place, lots of structured training (for once!), and last but not least... school projects, finals and the end of grad school. I was fired up to get all of it done with my best effort.

Starting with the presentation at the PT clinic. I was nervous as hell, but I really enjoyed the whole experience. Can't wait to do another one. Let's just say it was very different than presentations in school. No grade on the line, but possibly potential clients/business ;) A couple pics:

With Matt Fitzgerald and my friend/boss/training partner Mike, who owns my gym, SPI (we're both doing IMC):

Training. After three weeks of mediocre, unstructured and overall "weak" training, I was itching to get back at it and do quality work. I did. Yay. Ended up being about a 15-hour week that provided a lot of stimuli to make my body go "hot damn that's gonna leave a mark!" I cannot believe how sore I am today. Not just fatigue, but actual soreness/DOMS.

Besides some really solid workouts at my gym involving everything from bike trainers and run intervals to deadlifts and sledgehammer swings, the highlight was the weekend.... what I was waiting for.... I made sure to eat my beets and chia seeds all weekend in hopes of any extra boosts for the training on tap ;)

3,200 swim
11-mile hilly trail run

Swim - solid, uneventful, feeling stronger, put me at 10k for the week. Run - I was planning to run 14 street miles, but last minute I decided to hit up El Moro in Crystal Cove. Anyone who knows this trail, which is where one of the Xterra Trail Run races takes place, knows that the trail/terrain/ascents/decents are NO JOKE. I have not run my beloved trail since I did the Xterra race early 2010 due to injury, and then later rain storms destroyed the trails leading to a long closure. But all is good now, not to mention my place is only 2 miles away. It's definitely going to be back in the routine on a regular basis!

Here's the course profile. You run up for about a mile then run down an extremely steep trail that puts you close to sea level again. (So steep you have to go slow.) Then it's up, up, up again for a hard 1.2 mile death climb, then more climbing ensues but it's not as relentless. Basically the first three miles are torturous (in a good way), probably some of the hardest running terrain I've ever encountered. It never gets easy, either, because you're always going to push your limits. I like that.

Btw, the last Crystal Cove/El Moro Xterra race I did, I got 1st AG and did well overall I think. Don't know if I ran it that well this past weekend haha. Better believe I'll be racing it this year!

70-mile/4-hour bike ride
3.5 mile/28 min t-run

Instead of doing another 5-hour'er in the saddle sans t-run, I opted to cut the ride a little short, go harder and do a t-run after. It was my first time ever doing a t-run after a bike that long. My legs were definitely feeling Saturday's El Moro run big time as soon as I was wheels down, but I just sucked it up and did work. Only took one quick pit stop to pee, which I did at my parents' house. After the 70 miles I was wary about the run. My Garmin had died and I didn't feel like finding my HR monitor, so I ran by feel. I figured in my condition I'd produce 9-min miles, so I settled on doing a 27-min run (I'm all about even mileage numbers haha). The run ended up being 28 min, and I later mapped the route and it was 3.5 miles... hm, a little faster than I expected.

On both Saturday and Sunday afternoons/evenings I was totally worthless. It wasn't just the training, but the nonstop week of stuff that was taking its toll. I was tired, smashed and unable to do anything productive except grocery shop and eat food. It was nice not having 10 million other school or work things to do and even nicer not driving AT ALL... but it also felt weird just being able to relax and chill at my new home. One thing I'm loving in Laguna is exploring all the good eats here in town! The Thai here is to die for. Sara and I found a new Thai place Thursday and I ended up finishing both the main dishes we ordered (curry = yummmmmy). This pic isn't from the night with Sara, but yet another amazing night of Thai:

Next, grad school. I'm done! Except for comps. But classes are done forever and I can technically now call myself "Tawnee Prazak, MS." Sa-weet! It's weird to think that this grad school adventure is already over. Feels like just yesterday I began, but it's been nearly three years. Good times for sure.

Last but not least, now that things are starting to calm down a bit I am so excited to start focusing on my work with all of my heart and full attention. I love my jobs and all the great clients and people involved. I'll also try to start increasing the blog frequency ;)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Just picture everyone naked

I am a talker. I probably talk too much at times. But there's one major exception to that: Public speaking in front of large groups. Freaks me out! Always has. But, heck, I guess I'll never get comfortable with it unless I start practicing more, right? So, that said, I'm pretty excited that I've been invited to be a guest speaker Tuesday night at a local PT clinic, where I'll be "opening" for Matt Fitzgerald! I have a whole 30 minutes to be in the spotlight, and I've heard that there are already 50+ RSVPs, so here goes nothing!

Here's the link to the event if anyone's in or around OC tomorrow night! I guarantee I'll be fun to laugh at ;)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Finally home

I really thought after last weekend's marathon of moving and house shopping that life would get back to normal pretty quickly. Boy, was I wrong. Starting from scratch is hard! I'm just now starting to feel like all the basic living essentials are all taken care of and I am "at home." Thus, training has still taken a back seat to bigger priorities, but I am getting some workouts in so it could be worse. Heck, I guess lifting furniture and heavy boxes up to my place counts as something, too, right?

Of the workouts lately, running has been the best because I've been super amped to get out my front door and explore my new environment. Ya know those runs where you're in a new place and can just go mile after mile never wanting to stop because step is a mini adventure? That's me right now. Besides the beautiful coast, I'm stoked that there are lots of steep roads to climb around here. Hill repeats baby!

Anyways, so how about some pics...

Last night I took the camera out during sunset in my new backyard:


And here's a peak at my new place:

Kitchen area where lots of good eats will take place. That's a pretty crazy retro design thing going on there with the wooden posts, huh? Good for storing my kobacha squash (see it over there?)
Living "area" (can't say living room because there isn't a specific room for that lol). Also, my money tree was not happy with the move. He's looking sad :(
View out the front window
~View out my kitchen window overlooking Laguna cliffs

So, yea, I'm loving it... just ready to get back to a routine!!! I'd also love to start decorating my place too so the walls aren't blank, but first I have to make some more money haha.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Moving On

Things are happening in my little life, but sadly training isn't one of them. I miss it terribly. But I'm also stoked beyond belief about the other things so I can deal with two weeks of mediocre (read: crappy) training.

What the heck am I talking about that's so important that it screws up my training (very few things can do so)? First off was the wisdom teeth surgery and that required some major downtime. I managed. I was expecting to come back and hit it hard, which I started to do but that only lasted for two days. Then life took over. But, I cannot complain whatsoever because I love what's goin on! I've been waiting for this month for a loooong time. Let me explain. When I quit my job as a newspaper editor a few years ago and started grad school in a new field, I set some goals for myself. May 2011 was the deadline....

One - Pay for grad school all on my own without student loans, which required me to live at home with the parents and still work.

Two - Slowly increase my workload over the 2.5 years in order to save money and, more importantly, be doing what I want to do for work by the time I graduate. I wanted to avoid having a shocking moment in my life of, "Now that school's done, what now?"

Three - Graduate and MOVE OUT in May 2011. Preferably move to the beach, specifically Laguna Beach.

Sounds easier when I just simply write that out... but my what a journey it's been. The good news?! Well we're in May 2011 folks and it looks like all goals will be achieved!! Actually, I did have to get an extension on my comps exam, which will now be taken this summer, but I still get to walk and graduate now. Could be worse.

Soooo......the biggest and best news right now is that last week I landed a sweet little one-bedroom apartment in Laguna Beach walking distance from the beach and downtown area, and I can actually afford the place all on my own. Yea, I can hardly believe it either. As you can imagine, Laguna is an expensive place to live -- I was preparing to have to live in a studio if I wanted to make it happen, so I am beyond grateful that I found my new place. It's cute and manageable with my budget. I think it's meant to be too -- the onsite property manager is an active woman and she and the tenants even have an organic veggie garden growing in the complex... all are welcome to take part in it! Seriously?! Oh, and did I mention I'm 0.3 miles from Golden Spoon and Whole Foods? Trouble! Not to mention, walking distance to do ocean swims (no excuses now) and a mile from the gym where I work and train.

So needless to say, it's been a crazy past week with this turn of events. My workouts started suffering big time on Wednesday because I had narrowed the apartment search down to a few places and was busying meeting with real estate agents, applying, etc. But it was worth it. By Friday I got the news that my application to the one I wanted was accepted, so I dropped everything to start the moving process. Being just one person moving into a small place has it's perks, mostly that I call the shots on what I want. My main goal is: Minimalism. Keep it simple! Extra important when your place is tiny :) On the flip side, the bad part about being just one person moving out of mom and dad's is that I own nothing in terms of furniture, kitchenware, etc. Hence, lots of work. Saturday was long. I was so excited I woke up at 2:30 a.m. thinking about all I wanted and needed to do. After a 6 a.m. run with friends (12 miles, woot woot!) and teaching class at the gym, we moved the bulk of my stuff, had a celebratory dinner in town, yada yada. Before I knew it, the clock read 2:30 a.m. Yikes, a 24-hour day! Sunday I had to make a decision. Do my 4-hour bike ride/long-ish T-run or finish getting moved in so I could actually live in my place. I chose the latter. Yea, I have an Ironman to train for, but you only live once and I knew my workout would be crap because my attention and focus was elsewhere. So, Sunday was a marathon day running around Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc, etc, etc. My mom was gracious enough to spend Mother's Day helping me with all that. She rocks.

The basics are pretty much almost all done. I am now a single chick livin in Laguna Beach. And, no, MTV will not be doing a reality show on me lol.

Oh, and very important to all my triathlete/cyclist friends: Anyone riding on PCH near Laguna Beach, please don't hesitate to call/text me for a pitstop... I'm one block from PCH and will always have lots of GU to hand out :)