Friday, May 24, 2013

PRs in Portland

I had a nice blog drafted on my recent half-marathon up in Portland, but I wrote it on the iPad and apparently I didn't save it correctly so it disappeared into cyber space. Bummer. So this time I'll keep it relatively short and concise. Stay tuned for part 2: the Portland food and drink blog with mini reviews and pics of the amazing places we hit up while in town.
Yes, John stepped up to the plate for many of my needs,
including the putting on of my
beloved 110% Play Harder Compression socks!

PR stokedness rockin the cast.
*I PR'd by 2+ minutes with this broken wrist (1:34 and change, but that time was for more than 13.2 miles of running, so I actually ran a 7:09 average on my Garmin, faster than official results). Yay! PS- I don't think the course was long, there were just a lot of turns and I probably didn't run them as "tight" as possible.

*The wrist situation was the big question mark, as I did not know how it was going to feel in those latter miles at a rather intense effort. But it held up beautifully. Arm swing was normal. Grateful.

*I think I ran too easy. No, I know I did. HR confirms this. Subconsciously I think the wrist had me a little worried and I held back-ish, especially in the beginning. During the run I did not pay attention to any data whatsoever except for glancing at mile splits as they popped up. The first few miles were ok (7:15-7:30ish pace), but my breathing was really mellow so I picked it up a bit finally. Near the end (when I knew the wrist was gonna be fine) I was going sub-7:00 and realized I could have started that earlier on.

*I now feel confident that I can work my way to going sub-1:30. New goal.
Hawthorne Bridge over which we ran. Love the bridges in Portland.
Pre-race breakfast of champions: Bonk Breaker
and straight up espresso.
*Nutrition and hydration were pretty much non-existent during. A few "drops" of water at aid stations, and  an attempt at trying a new gel made with chia seeds (tasty, but I dropped it so only got a few slurps). I'll revisit that gel talk later... Also, note breakfast to the right:

*Rock N Roll races are very well-run events and I would definitely do another one! Oh wait, I am. Looks like I will be doing the SD half next weekend! With all the training I have on tap ahead, though, I'm not sure I can expect yet another PR.

*The Portland course was awesome and weather was ideal. Do a race in Portland if you ever get the chance. It's a great area that offers a lot of cool things to do, great food, urban yet outdoorsy, and lots of great breweries to explore! And that, my friends, will be the topic of the next blog, which I'm writing now!

*Last but not least, John PR'd big time to shaving something like 5-6 minutes off his PR from last year around this same time on a similar course elevation-wise. I guess that's what happens when you live with a coach!

*Monday the "run bug" was still in us and we drove out to Hood River stumbling upon a breathtaking trail secluded in nature and just gorgeous. We ran more than 10 miles and it was, to me, the perfect run -- exploring a new place, enjoying it with my man, ignoring the data, and feeling good knowing I could still run decently after nearly 20 miles the previous 2 days.

Gorgeous land. Easy to add on double-digit miles even after a half-mary with this as your view.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


If you had asked me last Sunday what my next blog was going to be about? Well, I was out in the ocean swimming and kayaking with the family for Mother's Day, so never would I have imagined the topic of today's post...

I wish I had some glamorous story to share about fighting off a mountain lion or falling from a ledge on an awesome MTB ride. Nope. Monday I was rolling out of the driveway to continue on my long ride after a pitstop at mile ~32 to refill bottles (it was in the 90s and we started the ride midday, hot!).

I had a momentary lapse in balance and coordination. Right foot was clipped in and left foot was going in, but I fumbled and before I knew it I went down like a ton of bricks on my right side. I was unable to clip out in time on the right to stop the fall. My wrist took the impact on asphalt. The pain I felt was unlike any pain I've felt before. It's not that the pain was so much worse than past wipeouts, it was just different. F-bombs ensued like crazy as I cradled my wrist and everyone rushed to see what the hell just happened.

I sat on a chair waiting for the pain to die down with intentions of still continuing to ride. Seriously. That's the denial part of injury right there haha. After some waiting and icing the pain was just as bad if not worse and I couldn't even move my wrist. Eventually I gave into to accepting a car ride home. I still don't think I had cried at that point.

Got home and my first shower in my new state was a joke. Um, ouch? And how am I supposed to do THAT is THIS pain?!

I felt pretty helpless and didn't want to do too much to aggravate it. I was still thinking it was just a sprain and/or the wrist was just angry and it'd be fine soon... I've never broken a bone or had severe injury like that so I'm used to my body bouncing back relatively fast from spills and whatnot.

I figured a good night sleep would do the trick and I'd wake up sore but ok.


Even worse pain when I woke up.

People were throwing around the word X-ray, and I was secretly thinking, "ya right, I'm fine." But when I woke up Tuesday I knew then I was not fine. Thankfully I knew a local sports med doc friend of mine was going to be at my gym 6-7 a.m., so I rushed over there to have him take a look. By rush over, I mean: John drove me (he's been a lifesaver).

Doc took a look and said come in for X-rays asap.

The X-rays weren't the clearest and but they were telling enough with a good, hard look: A nondisplaced radial fracture.

My palm is facing up here, so that dark line on the bone on the right (my radius) is
the fracture. Of all fractures, this one is probably best-case scenario. A break in one
of the tiny wrist bones, like scaphoid, would usually require surgery.

A little closer in. See?

See now?

Fuck. (sorry.) So, yea, first broken bone for this girl! Thankfully it's not too severe in the world of broken bones and apparently I can still train, letting pain be my guide. Literally I was told I can swim, bike, run as soon as I want. Seriously?! Yup. It helps that I have a rad "cast" by Exos that was developed for athletes and active people (see photo at top of blog). It's waterproof, and you heat it up then mold it to your wrist -- kinda like certain shoes and sandals these days -- and once it's on, it's strong enough to support a bunch of activities, even swimming! (Crazy, but true.) Wednesday I tried out a bike (trainer) and run and it worked, whew. No swim yet, but we will see....
First trainer session as a gimp. Cool cast, eh?

Training is obviously still going to suffer a bit for the next ~6 weeks as I heal. A bummer, but what can you do? It could be a lot worse. I know many people are dealing with far worse issues than me and it doesn't feel right to get too whiny or upset over my situation.

Ocean swims at home. How could you not want to be in this water?
That said, I went through the pity party stage the first 24ish hours. I'd cry here and there, tears over the inevitable trainer sessions in my future (haha) and tears when I would try to do some everyday normal task... and it hurt... and I couldn't do it... and John had to do it... oh man. The other thing that made me sob pretty hard is the idea of not being able to ocean swim like we have been lately. I am obsessed with getting out there right now and I've never loved swimming more because of it.

On the flip side I'm already celebrating the small victories, like being able to type almost like normal again already. Doing a trainer session and run with no bad pain. Cooking food. Learning to be ambidextrous...

The last important thing to note here is that I have confirmed through bone density scans that my bones are in fact very strong and healthy, and no red flags there. I did NOT break my wrist because I'm weak. So many times you hear of endurance athletes with stress fractures, or worse, female athletes who are frail from training and low energy intake; it's a real issue and I don't to be in that category nor do I want to see anyone there. I try to be as strong as possible through my training, diet and lifestyle, and I also try to be proactive with my health -- getting a bone density scan is one way of doing that. Knowledge is power and the results of the scans show that what I'm doing daily is working for me and not against me. This break was just one of those things.

I still plan to kick ass... so stick with me here!

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Little Racey-Poo

Saturday I did the second race in the LA Tri Series at Bonelli Park. I started doing these races in 2009, and have continued to make the drive up the 57 freeway whenever one of the races fits into my schedule. This year will be the first time I think I can get in all three races in the series, woo hoo!

I've said it before and will say it again, I love this series and I never get sick of the venue. They're tough little courses and there's always some fast folks who show up to make for some fun racing. In the first race last month, a sprint, I later found out the female winner is a San Diego stud triathlete, Katie Araujo, who's raced Kona and all that jazz. That first race also featured Macca, of course, who won but definitely had competition in Eric Nau who was only about 30 seconds back of the Aussie.
Loving our new kits! Thanks Betty Designs, Hincape and all my sponsors! We got lots of compliments.
Trying to do all I could
to feel OK for this race.
Race #2 in the series is an odd distance, something between a sprint and Oly, A ~1k swim, ~16.5-mile bike and ~5-mile run. For the bike/run I am going by my Garmin for the official distance, as it seems a little inconsistent on the results page, etc. That, however, is one of the things I love about the series at Bonelli: just go out and race hard and don't get too wrapped up in distances down to the 1/10th of a mile; it ain't Kona.

So my race? I'll be honest, I actually wasn't feeling too hot going into this race (IM training will do that I guess), but I was committed and am not one to bail unless I'm hugging the porcelain princess or something. We got to the race early, and found out I had a registration issue -- I wasn't registered. Oops! For a second I thought that was my perfect out, but I said screw that attitude dude, and I registered (thanks to Carolyn and the fine race organizers who made sure things were taken care of efficiently), toed the line, and got excited as I felt that first surge of race adrenaline...

My home lanes. Great spot to swim, but I prefer open water any day.
My swimming was hit and miss last week until a great ocean swim on Thursday with my crew. I love OWS so much more than pool swimming.  Onto race day, and I just went steady and strong, and I paced by PE, making sure it hurt. A 1k is short enough where you need to swim hard but it's long enough where a swimmer like me can easily blow up. Thankfully I came up out of the water in ~17:30, and the course was true to 1k (even on my Garmin), so that put me at a ~1:37/100 yd pace. I can take that! It helped that the course was well-marked with adequate buoys, so I made it around without issue. However, I did get dunked big time as girls pulled themselves over me, so it was far from a smooth swim and a blow to the ego haha. Not to mention, I still never found those feet for drafting, either. Poo.

All good except for a soaring HR and a timing chip that was literally hanging on by a thread and needed to be secured down with a safety pin. Note to self: do a better job with the safety pin before the race and don't be lazy with that!

The bike course overall is no joke, and super fun for that reason. For 16.5 miles it was ~1,700ft elevation gain with nasty little climbs, longer gradual climbs, killer downhills (where it's easy to get to 40+ mph), technical turns, headwinds, etc. It's the kind of course that keeps you honest and will make you a better cyclist in racing.

It was two loops, but my bike legs only showed up on the second loop. A little too late. Crap. I still had a decent bike in comparison with the rest of the field, and, in fact, I had the second fastest female bike of the day only a hair behind the fastest girl. And the fastest girl and I pretty much started the bike together, and continued to trade spots throughout the whole ride, always within range of one another. She was a good carrot. I avg'd about 20.5 mph and put out some good watts overall, but I know I could have done better knowing me and how I can ride. Not to mention, by this point my HR was so jacked up and I could tell something was not normal in my body. But whatever, the race was relatively short. I could hang.

Made up for lost time with a :52 transition.

Spoiler on the run: I got the fastest run split of the day, which is a first for me and something I am very proud to have earned. The run was my last chance to go big and prove to myself I could execute even if it wasn't "my day" so to speak. Even with the other girls out of the picture, it was a really good run for me and I was surprised to see the speed when speed is not something I've been doing in training lately.

And let's be honest, another reason I ran as hard as I did is because it turned into a race to move up the ranks, which was fun. My HR was still higher than I ever see even in a sprint, so I had to just suck it up and still hammer.

I was out of T2 before the aforementioned chick who I saw throughout the ride, but very soon she caught me on the run and passed, opening a gap of about 25 yd, and I refused to let that gap grow. By mile 3ish I caught her for good and we were told by some dudes that we were sitting 4th and 5th. At that point I could see 3rd-place chick ahead, and she was within catching distance, so that became my new carrot. It also meant digging deep to a 6-something mile pace, which, again, is kinda foreign in my overall training right now so it didn't feel good.

Meanwhile, the run course was hot and hilly, just like the bike. It was seriously getting close to 90 degrees at this point. I was carrying a bottle of Skratch. Don't leave home without it. The course starts on trail and then you get some asphalt, sidewalk, more trail, etc. Rarely is it ever just flat though.

Anyway, I finally passed my new friend who I'd been with pretty much from the beginning of the race and I couldn't let up or she'd catch me for sure. I was totally blowing up but closing the gap on 3rd place, and a couple spectators noticed my efforts, shouting some encouraging words to "catch her"... she was within reach but time was running out and we were getting close to the finish... then less than a 1/4 mile... I was giving it every ounce I had and I'm sure I was at my MAX HR. Annnnd it wasn't quite enough. I finished just 3 dang seconds behind 3rd place! But all good. I know the 3rd place girl, and she's beat me before. Plus, it turns out I was less than a minute behind the 1st & 2nd place women.
The result of sucking it up and digging deep when the body would
rather sleep in. The mind is a powerful thing.
I negative split the run like crazy and at the finish my HR was SO high that I literally couldn't even stop moving... so I kept walking/jogging for a while to chill out. John tried to catch up with me, stop and chat but I waved him off as I went to do my thing alone. That never happens haha.

Lucky for me I got 1st AG, and 4th overall in a time that I can be proud of given the poopy feeling I had going into this race. The top 5 women all finished within a minute of one another, so it was definitely a close one.

And even better was that John had a freakin awesome race! He finished 4th in his AG (35-39), not an easy AG at all. And it was definitely a breakthorugh race for him. And check out how we finished in the overall standings....
I went home and took a nap.