Thursday, July 29, 2010

They can't all be good rides

First, Saturday, I took on another Brick of Doom. That's right: 2.5 mi run, 30 mi bike, 2.5 mi run, 30 mi bike, 2 mi run. Phew. 4.5 hours later, it was done. Special thanks to Jeff from BPC for taking this on after 6 weeks off the bike.

Then on Sunday, Paul and I joined a few other triathletes for our first ride together since the Prouty. Not our most successful ride:

  1. We couldn't find the key to one of the bike racks to lock the bike on.
  2. We couldn't find the key to unlock Paul's bike from the bike rack.
  3. The local bike shop wasn't open to try to get a spare key from.
  4. Paul took his first (and second) tumble while being clipped in (had to happen some time).
  5. Paul's back wheel was not true and was rubbing on his brake.
  6. Paul's waterbottle cage was loose and rattling.
  7. Our 28 mile loop was actually 34. And I missed a turn and took us an additional half mile.
  8. Paul was out of water and ready to be done at 25 miles.
But we made it. The next ride can only get better from here, right?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mass State Race Report: Managing expectations

It wasn't quite what I had hoped for. I finished in 2:44. A minute slower than my PR. But, I did finish 5th in my age group (out of 12), and I did have the 2nd fastest swim in my age group. And I did go hard. Here are my highlights:

  1. If I make my oatmeal a little on the soupy side, I can just drink it if I forget a spoon.
  2. I bought new sunscreen for the race. I opted to go with Mission cause it's made by "athletes and scientists." But apparently not industrial designers. I couldn't get the bloody thing to spray, the cap just wouldn't lever enough to depress the internal plunger. Luckily, I discovered this on Saturday, and Paul helped me pry off the outer cap. Other than the can, the sunscreen worked well. I'm a fan of spray, because if you do it in light coats it doesn't smear your race number, obviously a must for the discerning triathlete.
  3. I still find it quaint that races in the US insist on singing the National Anthem before every race. I don't think I ever heard Advance Australia Fair at a single race, but it's a nice touch.
  4. I gotta remember to hit my start button on my watch.
  5. On the first lap of the bike, it became clear that my goal of averaging 19.5 was just not going to happen: there was a head wind on the flat, and the mile long hill killed my momentum in the first few meters. After 12 miles I had a 17.5 average. I reset my expectations, and decided to shoot for a 18 average. Just as I turned into the park to head to transition, I hit 18. Woohoo.
  6. Putting my gu for the run in my bike bento box was not a good plan, I forgot to move it to my pocket.
  7. Sub-one-minute transitions!
  8. My teammate Christina commented on how salty I was after the race. That's right, I was covered in salt crystals.
  9. I need to re-evaluate my goal setting practice. I've never swum 1500 in 25 minutes in open water, I've never run a 50 minute 10K on its own. Why should I think that I could do both of those things for the first time in this race?
  10. I've got an awesome team.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mass State Race Plan

This Sunday is the Mass State Triathlon ( I'm doing the olympic distance race. (Check out the video of the bike on their site).

I haven't really been too focused on training since the Patriot. Still training, but nothing exceptional. Some weeks even taking 2 rest days! Low key rides, nothing longer than 50 miles, nothing faster than 17. Long open water swims with friends. Overall just enjoying the training and not going crazy. This could mean that I'm super well rested for this race, or it could mean that I'll just be slow. Guess we'll find out in a few days.

My goal for this race is to go hard. It's been almost a year since my last olympic distance (since Mooseman didn't really count). Patriot was about pushing, but still reserving something in the tank. This time, I want to go all out and see what I've got.

My 2:43 olympic PR was from Mooloolaba last year, so it's been a while since it's been truly tested. I went into training last fall with a goal of having a 25 minute swim for 1500m, which translates to 1:40s per 100, by the end of this season. Seems like this race is a good chance to test out how close I am to that goal.

On the ride, I'm not entirely sure. It's a mostly flat ride, but has 1 hill (done twice) that's about a mile long and at points it's 4%. I held 18.8 for the first 27 miles of the Patriot, so seems like 19 should be doable. 19.5 is the stretch goal. It would make the ride exactly 1:15.

Finally, for the run, I've always wanted a 50 minute run. That's 8 minute miles. My run at Mooseman was 51:21. I don't really have much of a reason to think that I can go faster than that, but it can't hurt to try, right? Or it will hurt, but it will be temporary.

25+1:15+50 = 2:30 without transitions. So with transitions 2:35? Shaving 8 minutes off my PR seems ambitious. So how about a hierarchy of goals:

1. Go hard!
2. 2:40 overall time.
3. Meeting one or more individual discipline goals
4. 2:35

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Doing what we came for

Yesterday was the Prouty Charity Ride up in New Hampshire. It was Paul's first charity ride. It was also his first ride of the season. In fact, it was his first ride over 10 miles (35!). And it was my second race in New Hampshire in the pouring rain. (Does not bode well for Timberman)

Paul is not a cyclist. Despite his dedication to the Tour de France coverage, he's more of a team sport guy. The non-binary nature of the sport (no single winner/loser) doesn't appeal. On the contrary, that's actually the thing that has drawn me into triathlon. Each race is determined by me: there's no team to support me; no one to let down. If I go a little faster than last time, then that's a victory. If I ride a little further, that's a new challenge to have vanquished.

It's tough to keep perspective when the rest of our team rode 100 miles (after a night a pretty serious drinking [after we went to bed] nonetheless). But I don't think that should overshadow Paul's accomplishment.

This week Paul had been joking that he would only do 10 miles of the race. At 10 miles in, I asked if he wanted to do the 20 mile course, but Paul says no. We're doing what we came here to do.

So, I'm pretty excited for Paul's longest ride ever. We held a pace of almost 16 mph, took on a few serious hills and didn't even stop at the 3rd (and final) rest stop. The last hill, by and far the worst, was one that he thought he might have to walk up, but he didn't. He made it. When we passed through the finish line, he first laid his bike on the ground, then laid himself on the ground next to it and said that hill might have been the hardest thing he had ever done, EVER.

Now that's something to be proud of.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Fourth of July

It's actually been 4 years since I've been in the US for a Fourth of July. Hard to believe, but last year I was in Mexico for Toby and Brooke's wedding (yay!) and the two years before that were in Australia. I can't even remember what I did for my last American Fourth.

This year a friend of mine invited us to her Beacon Hill apartment to watch the fireworks from her balcony. But before all this, Paul and I went to watch the Pops rehearsal on the 3rd out on the Esplanade. It's not entirely fair to call it a "rehearsal" when thousands of people show up, and they do a full run-through with no stopping. We got there an hour early, and they had already filled the oval in front of the hatch shell. But we found a nice spot near storrow that still had views of the big screens and great sound. We brought a picnic and a crossword and just all in all had a great time. Here we are:

Awesome. So we were well-prepped for the actual Fourth festivities. We made the mistake of picking up beer near our house to bring to the party, necessitating lugging it from our house, to the T, off the T up Beacon Hill, passing 4 or 5 liquor stores on the way. Ok, seriously, we will not make this mistake again.

It was a great party, met new people, enjoyed some amazing homemade pizza (why does my crust never come out like that?). And watched the pops on TV, including the patriotic sing-along. Which Paul and I dominated with "to the oceans, white with FOAM!" Yes, that is what was missing from my Fourths these last 4 years. Some one to belt out American songs whose words are burned into my memory from years of chorus.

Then finally the fireworks:
Not a bad view from the balcony, and those weren't even the big ones.

The only real hiccup in the whole performance was trying to get back home. Estimates were that there were over 800,000 people on the Boston side for the fireworks (only 600,000 people actually live in the city of Boston), so getting home was a bit of a nightmare. We walked to Charles/MGH, to find it overrun with people, then crossed the bridge to Kendall - also overrun, continued walking towards Central and finally caught a cab home.

But we did get to experience the surreal feeling of walking down the middle of a busy Boston street that was closed to traffic. Here we are, in the street:

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