Saturday, December 29, 2012

Year's End

2012 has been a huge year:  getting married, getting a PR at Nationals and again at Lobsterman, starting a new job, twice!

I also topped 700 miles of running this year, despite 10 weeks of not running with the stress fracture.  722 miles to be exact.  That's over double the distance I did in 2011.  Woohoo.

Looking forward to next year, things are still feeling fuzzy.  A combination of missed workouts and no A race have led to a lack of focus.  Between holiday pool closures, a thumb cut so deep that swimming was forbidden for 2 weeks, some planned rest and recovery in response to the Chilly Half performance and now a cold, I just haven't been in a good rhythm.

Additionally, I have yet to choose my tri season yet.  Not planning on going back to Nationals this year, since it's in Milwaukee.  I've looked at races in the area and even a few in towns with family, but nothing has emerged as a clear A race.  Any suggestions?

What is clear is the marathon.  It's just 11 weeks out, and it's the only race in 2013 that I'm registered for.  And my goal is not just to finish it.  I'm going to try to qualify for Boston 2014.  For my age group that's 3:35 or an average of 8:12 per mile.  I'm a little nervous that putting a time goal on a new distance is just begging for trouble, but I also think that given my current fitness and speeds, it's not an unrealistic goal.  Despite the recent funny business, my training has been going well.  My longest run to date was 17.3 - a complete lap of the river loop from the museum of science to Watertown, which in 10 years of living in Boston, I've never done.  Two weeks ago, I did a 13 mile run, including 8 x 1 mile repeats at 7:24.  I left the house before dawn and ran to the track with my headlamp.  I watched the sun rise as I nailed my repeats - so much so that Alan has sped up the repeats to 7:15s.

Longest. Run. EVER!

Under my Christmas tree this year, was a reflective running vest and a couple of very bright blinkies.  Even if I don't know what to expect for summer 2013, I'm fairly certain January and February will include many more miles and sunrises.

Have a safe and happy new year.  See you in 2013!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Operator Error

This year's HR distribution
Well, I didn't run my goal of 1:36.  In fact, I didn't improve on my time from last year.  I ran a 1:42.  Last year's goal.  That's two races in a row that I haven't improved upon.

The thing that most threw me off was that I knew from last year that my watch measured the course a little bit short, but yesterday every mile marker I got to seemed to be further down the road by as much as 10%.  So my watch said I was running a 7:20 pace, but I got to that first marker around 7:40.  It messed with my head.  Were the markers off?  How were they going to catch up?  My grand total distance on my watch was 13.9.  Did they change the course?

Last year's HR distribution
It wasn't until I uploaded my data that I found the problem:  I had neglected to turn the GPS on.  My watch also has a footpod to collect cadence data, so all of my distances and paces were being estimated based on the footpod, not on the actual GPS.  According to my watch, I ran 13.9 miles at a 7:20 pace.  I wonder, had I had the GPS on, if I would have adjusted my pace down to run the 13.1 at that pace?

I somewhat doubt it.  I ran at the top end of my HR zones throughout.  Basically, I ran harder (see graphs), but not any faster.  In general, I feel fitter than I did last year.  A summer of PRs supports this feeling.  And this leads me to think that perhaps I am over-trained/under-rested.  I did race Devil's Chase 2 weeks ago. And, though I did both Devil's Chase and Chilly last year, I was coming off of a less consistent training base from the summer.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed.  I want to PR every time, but sometimes, it's just not in the cards.  I will to use this experience as the impetus to review my racing and resting schedules, but I also don't want to read too much into one race.  The plan has been very successful for me in the last year, a little fine tuning is not a bad thing.

Friday, November 09, 2012


Talking with a friend the other day, he mentioned making a placard as a kid out of poster board and yardstick.  I realized, I don't own a yard stick, and I asked:  neither he nor his girl friend owned a yardstick.  Does any one own a yardstick any more?  Maybe if you sew?  Why did this seeming ubiquitous item just disappear from households?

This weekend's Chilly is the same course and very similar conditions to last year.  It's a figurative yardstick for performance gains in the last year.

Last year, I exceeded my goals by 2 minutes, improving 6 minutes over my previous PR.  This year's goal is a further 4 minutes improvement.  The plan is to take off at a 7:20, then be governed by HR for the remaining 12 miles.  I should know by mile 3 if I'm gonna hit 1:36 or not.  I will need to be able to run faster at a lower HR than I did at the Devil's Chase.  I've had a good taper this week, and low resting HRs, so I'm hopeful this is possible.

I'm looking forward to the race.  It's been a sorta crazy week at work, so I haven't focused much on it.  But I have hit my workouts, eaten well (even without the cheese), slept pretty well and had nice low resting heart rates all week, so fingers crossed that all equates to a speedy new PR.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Moo Cow, Don't Bother Me

I've been having some tummy troubles.  And not just while I'm training.  I've been trying to manage the symptoms with over the counter aids, but it's started to feel like some sort of arms race between my gut and my meds:  at some point I'm the one who loses out.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to track what I was eating and my symptoms and see if there were any patterns.  I bought an app called Food Allergy Detective, which monitors likely food offenders.  They suggest tracking for 4 weeks to have the best data, but after two a few things are clear (1) I eat some dairy with every meal and (2) dairy does seem to coincide with symptoms.

I've suspected for a while that dairy may be a problem.  When I would drink a whey-based protein shake the symptoms were at their worst.  But I've also tried lactose-free whey protein, and I still had trouble.  I've also tried taking lactaid with meals with large portions of dairy (hello, cottage cheese snack), and not had much improvement, so I worry it's more than just lactose that is the problem.

Here's the trouble though.  I love cheese.  On our second date (the one where Paul flew down to Australia for two weeks), we went on a wine tasting tour and spent more money on cheese than on wine.  We often point to that day as a definitive sign that we were meant to be.  In the past, when I've gone on diets, I have always found ways to maintain just a little bit of low-fat cheese to preserve my enjoyment of the meals.  In fact, I just can't bring myself to try to go dairy-free until after this election night pizza party tomorrow.

But dairy-free I will go.  I've got coconut cream for my coffee in the mornings, and several stir fries planned for dinners.  My goal is to do 2 weeks dairy-free and see if that addresses symptoms, then to try adding back in one item at a time to see if I can identify if it's all dairy or just lactose (hurray for lactose-free cheese!)

If you have favorite dairy-free recipes, I'm all ears.  I need something to keep my taste buds happy in the next two weeks, so please do share.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Twenty Six Point Two

Maybe it's the cabin fever.

Maybe it's the rest day today.

Maybe it's the fact that registration fees increase by $30 on Wednesday.

Regardless, I am officially signed up.  Hopefully, DC will have recovered from Sandy by then.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mental over physical

Well, that was... a bit disappointing.  28 seconds slower than last year.  The plan was to run the first 4.5 miles at a hard pace, then increase to very hard and very very hard for the last 2 miles.  I stuck to the plan, but somehow my hard heart rate translated to a 7:44 pace.  This pace felt a little slow.  And I spent those miles watching the competition pass me by, hoping that my increased effort at the end of the race would allow me to catch back up. 

At 4.5, I kicked it up a gear and finally felt like I was moving.  I passed the 5 or 6 people who had passed me in the last mile.  Then I set my sights on a woman who had started with me, but left me in the dust when I tried to maintain my effort level in the first mile.  I slowly reeled her in, and in the last half a mile, I passed 4 more women, so that felt good. 

The end results are that with a slightly slower finish, I had an 8th place in age group (versus 6th last year) out of 272.  I can't really be disappointed about coming in the top 3% of my age group, even if it wasn't the performance I'd hoped for.  This wasn't an A race, and I didn't have A race preparation, taper or mentality going into it.  Having a solid race should be a good result.  My bigger concern is that I have an aggressive goal for the Chilly half of a 7:20 pace.  Averaging 7:29 here does not build confidence.

Much more exciting (and less sulky):  my friend A had a stellar race!  She improved her time by nearly 3 minutes.  That's almost 30 seconds per mile.  She hit her goal and really raced out there today.  So happy for her.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Breaking new ground

Last week, I ran the most miles I have ever run in a single week.  My previous record was just over 27, in the week of the Chilly Half.  Last week I ran just over 30.  I know in the world of marathoners that is not a big number, but for me, this is pretty huge.  That was 30 miles in just 3 runs, nestled in amongst 2 hours of swimming and 2.5 hours of biking.  Hell yeah.

But that will likely be the longest run, I'll see for another month.  This weekend is the Devil's Chase 6.66 miler in Salem.  I'm feeling good for this race.  Last year I did this race at an average pace of 7:28, for a total time of 49:08.  My plan for this weekend is by heart rate, so I don't have a good sense of what to expect time-wise.  I believe I'm faster, but I haven't raced a 10K in the last year outside of a tri.  My best was at AGN, but that was a 7:32 pace.  So, yeah, faster.

Then in 3 little weeks I've got the repeat of the Chilly, so I don't imagine the training will get back up to 30 miles until after that.  Here, we're targeting a 1:36.  This feels legitimately fast.  And a little bit scary.

But not as scary as signing up for a marathon.  I've talked about, I've researched, I've put it on my race goals with my coach, but I still haven't signed up.  Because I'm scared.  Marathons have always been this big looming beast.  I've always had too much trouble with injury to even flirt with a full marathon, but here I am, running healthy and looking at that 26.2 boundary.  The deadline for early registration is next week. I'm sure I will register by then, so I get the discounted rate, but I just can't seem to do it, yet. It will mean many more weeks over 30 miles.  It will mean running in the brutal cold and dark.  It will also somehow legitimize the possibility of doing a full ironman at some point in my future.  Marathons are scary.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Fairweather triathlete

As the storms rolled in on Friday night, I was reminded of Quassy.  Going into that race, I was completely unfazed, but during the actual ride, I was hating it.  With Duxbury, there wasn't a lot riding on the race, so I actually considered pulling out of the race.

My logic on Friday night, however, was that every other athlete was thinking the same thing, and maybe the fast ladies wouldn't show up, so I was in.  Unfortunately, where this logic fails is that the other fast ladies came to the same conclusion as I did.  When I arrived at the race on Saturday morning, there were some very fast looking bikes making their way through the puddles to transition.

And puddles there were.  The road out to transition had puddles about 8 inches deep.  Transition itself was in a paved parking lot, and my transition area in particular was in a puddle about 3/4" deep.  Try as I might to set down plastic bags to provide a dry spot for shoes and towel, it was not going to happen.  Everything got wet.

As I finished setting up transition, the rain stopped, but the wind started.  I put on my wetsuit and went to hang out in the registration tent to keep warm.  When it was finally time to head down to the water, I huddled up on the shore, shivering, waiting for my wave.  I seriously considered pulling out of the race right then.  I don't think I've ever come so close.  But it occurred to me that I'd just have to wait until the swimmers were all in to get my bike out of transition, might as well race.

The strange part was though, as soon as the my wave started, all those doubts evaporated.  I was racing, and I loved it.  The swim was rough and choppy, but so much fun.  Wasn't my best swim, came out 4th in my AG, but still just fun.

I took a bit of extra time in transition to put on a jacket, and I'm so glad I did.  Then, just as I was about to mount my bike, another athlete rode her bike right into me.  I still don't understand how that happened.  She apologized profusely, but I just stared at her bewildered.  My bike and I were fine.  And then neglected to hit the button on my watch, so my data showed a 43 minute transition, followed by a 3 second bike.

On the run, I stuck to the plan, I was chasing a girl who came out of transition just ahead of me.  She kept her distance for the first mile, but then I slowly started to reel her in, and made the pass on the back half of the course.  My run came in at 21:45, a new PR for the distance. 

Overall 10 seconds slower than two years ago (with a different swim) and only good enough for 4th place on the day.

Looking at my season this year versus last year, the clear improvement has been my running, which I think is a combination of better pacing on the swim and the bike, and just sheer leg speed.

Here's what my percentile rank in AG looked like in 2011:

And here's 2012:
It's good to see how my run rank has improved, and how I didn't blow up in any race this season.  But I've traded a bit with the swim.  However, I think that's more to do with who shows ups.  Now I gotta get working on that bike!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Wedding (Cow) Bells

What does one do with a wedding at the end of the summer and a trip to age group nationals just 3 weeks before that?  One combines the bachelorette weekend with a triathlon.  

The weekend after nationals was the Cranberry Tri Fest.  A and I were registered as swimmers in Sunday's olympic distance on team with some friends from my work.  While R and L (and R's boyfriend D) were all registered in Saturday's sprint distance.  Both R and D's first triathlons.

When I suggested combining the two events, A was thrilled or at least feigned it well.  She found a little bed and breakfast in Plymouth about 30 minutes from the course that we basically took over for the weekend.  We headed down Friday night for a quiet, but lovely dinner, then got up early Saturday morning for racing and cheering.  I had signs and cowbells that I had bought especially for the race, really nice cowbells, and yes, the quality does matter.  I've gotten blisters from poorly designed cowbells in the past.

R was a little nervous about hitting the water, but D had take no prisoners attitude.

Every one made it through with smiles, at least by about 20 minutes after the race, if not the finish line.  Then there was brunch, naps, a little running, then it was time for the bachelorette festivities.  After a few party games and gifts, much delicious cheese (my friends know me so well) and some champagne, we headed out for dinner on the water, followed by partying in Plymouth.

I'd never been to Plymouth.  But it's got a cute downtown waterfront area, and a few bars I'd scouted on my run earlier.  But none seemed to be happening.  As we walked down the street, we heard, what I thought was karaoke, but turned out to just be a local cover band (!)  We head in, and we are easily some of the youngest crowd there.  Many, many 65+ year old ladies came over to congratulate me and a few to warn me away.  We danced and belted out the lyrics, and I got exactly one free drink, from one of the aforementioned ladies.  I think Paul was a little worried that there might be many dudes, but nope, there was nothing to stress him.  I think we headed back to the b&b around 11:30pm.  Really, it was a perfect evening:  great friends, good food, lots of songs every one knows, and still in bed at a reasonable hour for our races the next day.  My kind of party.

The swims went well.  Andrea's team beat my team, but I had a super fast swim (faster than nationals) that I was very pleased with.  Maybe not the average bachelorette party, but it was absolutely perfect for me.  And I was so grateful to have such wonderful friends to celebrate with.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Season closer

Fall arrived last weekend, and it's feeling cooler and crisper, but triathlon season is not over, quite yet.

Duxbury beach sprint triathlon is this weekend.  I did it two years ago.  In fact, I won my age group two years ago, so I'm looking forward to tackling the course again.  This year, with the tides, the swim isn't the spectator-friendly, along-the-bridge swim.  Instead, it's a simple triangle.  Otherwise, the course is the same.

As a fast, flat, short course, I'm looking to go out hard and leave nothing in the tank.  Not much else to the strategy, just get faster with every step of the race, and hopefully, regain my title.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Marriage takes at least 15 seconds off

6am - somewhere between Boston and Freeport

"So, what time is your wave?" - J
"Uh, no clue." - me
Yeah, so this was easily the least prepared for a race that I've been all season.

But somehow despite that, I posted the best time of the season, and I did break the 2:35 barrier.  In fact, I ran a 2:33:53.  Over a minute better than Nationals and almost 7 minutes faster than last year.  But this year, the fast ladies were out:  I placed 4th versus 2nd last year.

Check out the results (I'm in red). Each marker is time check (when the athlete went over a timing mat, i.e., swim, start of bike, end of bike, start of run, finish)

My swim was 25 minutes (2 minutes better than last year), but only good enough for 7th in the swim.  Fast ladies.  But I had the #1 fastest T1, so I passed some one in transition.  

I had the 6th fastest bike (over a minute faster than last year), and passed 2 ladies, putting me in 4th place going into the run.  

I felt great heading out on the run, going up and over that first brutal hill.  Around mile 4, I got passed by the woman who finished 3rd.  She was motoring.  She had the fastest run of the age group.  But shortly thereafter, I passed the 5th place woman, returning me to 4th place.  I ran a 47 minute 10K, 2 minutes faster than last year.

Once again in this race, I didn't check my total time until I hit the finish line.  As I was running through, the clock said 2:53.  I was pretty sure I started 20 minutes after the first wave, but it wasn't til I made it through that J confirmed that I had finished in 2:33.  There were many hugs and high-fives all around.  Then beers and burgers.

This is such an excellent race.   And great to do it back to back years for comparison.  2:33 is serious, and it makes me think that something in the 2:2X might be possible next summer.  One more tri to go this season:  the sprint in Duxbury in two weeks.  Then it's time to focus on running, cause I've convinced myself that it's time to take on 26.2.  Watch out DC Rock n' Roll Marathon.  I've got your number.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Motivation deflation

Lobsterman is tomorrow.  I am completely unprepared.  And I don't care.

I have a few posts that I owe you:  a bachelorette party post and a wedding post.  But right now, I'm exhausted.  My motivation to do just about anything, save looking at wedding photos, is zero.

The wedding was amazing and joyous.  It was so much more than I ever could have hoped for.  But it was also just incredibly draining.  Planning the wedding felt like death by a thousand cuts.  My brain seems to be protesting organizing anything at this point.  We took a few days off after the wedding, but I feel like I could have used a few more.  Motivating myself feels like pushing on a deflated balloon:  I just bulge out to the sides, but very little movement actually occurs.

Which brings us to Lobsterman.  It's my last olympic distance race of the season.  I signed up for it thinking that there was a good chance I wouldn't want to race the weekend after my wedding.  But as I was riding high on the post-wedding, good feelings, I decided I should go for it.  I had originally thought that I might be able to post a new PR tomorrow.  Lobsterman was the site of my PR from last year.  And damn it, if I still don't want to shave those 10 seconds off my time to get down to sub-2:35.  But I fear that, at present, I lack the ferocity necessary to go out hard and red line the run.  Hell, I don't even have stretchy laces in my running shoes at the moment.

Thus, the plan for tomorrow is to just go out and have fun.  I love racing.  There's no pressure on this one.

I leave you with one of my favorite picts from the wedding.  I have no idea what Paul said that was so funny, but I just love how happy we are.  That's how it felt the whole day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


The day before the race felt like Christmas morning:  the anticipation was huge.  I'd like to think my attitude was endearingly exuberant, but Paul might beg to differ.  We each had taken Friday off from work, but I had told him we didn't have to leave until 10am.  I awoke at 7am in a hurricane of activity:
  • Went to the park to practice my transitions one last time
  • Mounted the bike on top of the car
  • Showered
  • Finished packing
  • Ate breakfast (with coffee)
  • Re-watched the relevant portion of the webinar on bodymarking and equipment stickers (I had watched the whole thing earlier in the week along with the full recording of the bike course - what can I say, I like to be prepared.  It paid off:  no fewer than 3 teammates asked me about the location of the race numbers)
  • Decided that we needed an audio book for the drive
  • Scoured the internet for a book and the car for our FM transmitter dongle (no, our car does not have one of those fancy audio-in ports)
  • Decided we were better off with a book on CD
  • Looked up bookstores on our route
  • Called our local bookstore to discover that they were both open AND had an ample supply of books on CD
  • Giddily greeted Paul and offered to go to the bookstore to pick one up before our 10 am departure.
I thought my phone was on its last leg in March when the ear speaker died, but I've soldiered on with it on speaker phone or using headphones.  Last week various portions of the screen became non-responsive, leaving it far less functional than I would have liked.  Standing in the store and trying to look up Amazon reviews for these audio books with a keyboard that would interpret "It's murder, my son" as "Is mrdr m sn" (which even google can't decipher) was the last straw.  I cursed myself for not replacing the phone the day before and vowed to replace it on my return to Boston.  I grabbed a book based solely on its cover and price (always sure signs of quality), and returned home to get Paul at 9:45.  Only to discover that he had already read that book.  So back to the bookstore to exchange for another book.  A book we discovered when we went to play the first disk was 21 hours long.  An inauspicious start, but from there things became much less fraught.

As we neared Burlington, Paul asked me about my goals.  I told him I wanted to execute the plan.  Although I've adopted the practice of writing the relevant power and HR numbers on my gel flasks for races, this one included, I had inadvertently committed this race's plan to memory.  I recited it for Paul.  He pushed back, "Yeah, but what time do you want."  I really didn't have a goal number.  I wanted to break 2:40, I wanted to PR, but anything less than 2:40 would make me happy, particularly if I felt like the race itself had gone well.

Panoramic shot of the swim course

Pre-race with my honey
We made a quick stop at the expo, where Paul scoped out the goods while I waited in line for my packet.  Then got the heck out of there to limit the race hubbub's intrusion on my pre-race calm.  We headed up to the beach for a quick swim, bike and run to refresh the muscle memory.  I'm so glad, I got in the water.  It was choppy, reminiscent of swimming in the ocean north of Brisbane.  Walden just can't prepare you for this.  I convinced myself that because the actual swim was in a protected bay, that this would be worst that I could expect from the actual race.

The only real error in planning on Friday was going to the fabulous Farmhouse Tap and Grill for dinner.  It's just cruel to go to a place with 30 beers on tap and local cheese plates on offer the day before a race.  We returned there Saturday night to fully enjoy their menu.

Race morning, we arrived at transition to sunny skies and WINDY conditions.  There were white caps even within the protected area.  We watched many waves go off and adjusted my sighting plan to account for getting blown around by the wind.  Once in the water, I found feet quickly to follow.  Out to about the halfway point, I was on those feet.  I did my best to find another set, but at some point, I was just out there either by myself or passing men from the wave ahead of me.  But I felt strong.  I came out of the water and hit my watch through my wetsuit (I keep it under my sleeve so I can get the wetsuit off easily), I wouldn't find out the final time until after the race.
GPS of my swim

26:59 (1:39 pace, 1:37 faster than last year)
Rank in AG: 37 / 95

The bike was all about being in the moment, hitting my power and heart rate numbers, and not gunning it over the rollers, so I still had legs left for the run.  My coach had admonished me not to get competitive with others in the race to the detriment of my overall time, focus on my plan an execute.  As I got passed by girls in my age group, it occurred to me, I must've had a pretty good swim.  In many races, I narrate the ride to myself:  I'm already writing my race report in my head.  In this bike, there was no chatter, there were numbers to hit, and that water to drink and sometimes gel to take but otherwise, my head was blissfully quiet.  It's the most being-into-a-race that I've ever been, and it was awesome.

In the second half of the bike, I had a little trouble stepping the bike up to a harder effort because of the rolling terrain.  I also had the signal on my power meter go out a few times (I'm thinking a loose wire is the cause, and I'm not thrilled about having to replace it.), but it didn't faze me during the race.  I've done workouts where my power meter's battery has died, and I've still gotten them done.  A little less data wasn't going to impact this race.

1:17:56 (19.1mph and 4 seconds slower than last year)
Rank in AG: 66 / 95

Run course elevation
On the way out to the run
This run course starts with a beast of a hill, then is mostly a gentle downhill to the finish.  I had expected that no matter what I did my heart rate would sky rocket on that hill, then I'd need to focus on getting things back under control.  Although it did increase dramatically, it didn't get into the red zone.  I thought, maybe I'm not pushing hard enough on this hill, but this feels like the speed I should be running.  Cresting the top of the hill, I fell into a really comfortable pace and cadence.  I kept thinking about staying relaxed and swinging my arms.  I felt great.  I checked in with my heart rate, and it looked good.  My first mile was my slowest and also the only one over an 8 min mile.

As I fatigued, I had to work really hard to keep my cadence up.  When I hit the mile 5 marker, I switched into my last gear, and brought that mile home in 7:27 (my second fastest mile of the run).  I saw the finish line and I sprinted, passing people left and right.  Final time was 46:45.  This is my fastest 10K on record, stand-alone or as part of a tri.  And it beat my time at Quassy when I had such a slow bike and really put everything I had into that run.

Sprinting to the finish

46:45 (7:32 pace, 5:34 better than last year!)
Rank in AG: 49 / 95

I crossed the finish line 6:11 faster than last year, and though clearly most of that time came from the run, I think I've made improvements on the bike as well.  I pushed the same time as last year but at a more conservative effort, allowing me to run on legs that weren't completely thrashed.

Last year, when I came to this race, I was plagued with doubts.  Did I really belong at the National Champs?  This year, I was confident.  Not that I was going to win or make the national team, but that I was going to have a great race.  I thought going in that I was going to let the best in the country spur me on to a PR.  In the end though, I was immune to the competition, focused on my race and my plan.

Post race with my honey
Finally, I can't take all the credit for this improvement.  I get great support, and not just from my team, and from A and R.  My fiance Paul forgives me when I wake him up in the morning to train, is understanding of my absence for half of the weekend as I get in my long runs and rides, and schleps both me and my gear to and from races.  I started training with Coach Alan almost exactly a year ago.  I went through a pretty structured process of researching, shortlisting and interviewing coaches.  I wanted to find some one who would take the guesswork out of my training and who cared about my races (almost) as much as I do.  I found these qualities in Coach Alan.  To say that my training programs have been detailed almost misses the point:  they have been perfectly tailored to meet my goals.

I took a look back at the goals I sent to Alan on Sept 5 of last year:

  • Be injury-free-  Ok, this took some work considering I had already injured my leg (which became the stress fracture) when we started training together
  • PR at Newton Chilly Half-  DONE 1:40:02 a 6 minute PR
  • 6 mos: Increase power on the bike- DONE. 2011 AGN = 133W, 2012 AGN = 152W
  • Qualified and race at AGN- obviously DONE
  • Place in the top half for my age group at AGN-  Close.  57th percentile for my AG (an improvement from 68th last year), needed to shave a little more than 1 more minute off to break into the top half.
  • Set a PR for an Oly under 2:35-  I almost wanna give myself a pass on 10 seconds, but I've still got one more oly of the season to go, so I'm not gonna close the book on this one yet.
Thank you, Alan.  Thank you, Paul.  I couldn't have done it without you.

Friday, August 10, 2012


One week from tomorrow, I'll be racing for the second time at the US Age Group Nationals Olympic Distance Race.  But somehow, I'm just not really focused on it.  Perhaps it's because a month from now I'll be married.

Though most of the pieces are falling into place for the wedding, there's still a general wedding-hum in the back of my brain that doesn't really allow for other thoughts to be fully realized.  There are still open questions though, like cake.  Will we have cake?  If so, must we do a cake tasting?  People seem to get very excited about tasting a bunch of free cake.  I like cake, but frankly, it just seems like another chore to be done before the big day. Will any one care if I just order a few dozen, untasted cupcakes and call it a day?  I think not.

Amidst this cake-infused buzz, race day anxiety is getting drowned out.  I'm sorta wondering if that's a good thing.  Last year I was fretting.  I went through a stressful complete overall of my bike just a month before the race (not recommended).   I don't feel under-prepared (I've already put together my packing list and listened to the pre-race briefing), I just don't feel that anxious about the race.  I know what I'm getting into.

The only time I've really lost my cool was Monday night.  I went for my swim, got a little over a thousand yards in and had a pinchy pain in my left deltoid.  I massaged it, swam a lap, and it still hurt.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  The battle between the panicking inner monologue and the zen inner monologue waged:

"OMG, this is just like how you rolled your ankle last year three weeks before nationals and remember how that became a stress fracture that benched you for ELEVEN weeks this winter!!!" 
"It's just one swim, stop swimming, let it rest, you rode 60 miles in aero yesterday, the muscles are probably just fatigued."  
"But you've been working so hard for the last year to go to this race, what if this shoulder ruins everything just 10 days before the big day."
I called my coach from the pool door and told him about the swim and that the panicking inner monologue was winning.  He reminded me that the swim is 95% technique.  That's technique that I wouldn't lose over the next 10 days even if I didn't touch the water between now and the race.  I started a regimin of twice daily aleve and ice.  I took Wednesday off from swimming and went back to the pool this morning for an easy 1000 yards to test it out.  It passed with no pain, so yay.  Heading to Walden tomorrow morning for a race practice.

Goals for this race:
  • Keep the anxiety in check - so far, so good.
  • Follow the race plan and don't get competitive when you get passed, cause you will get passed.
  • Find that balance of pushing on the bike, while still having the reserves for an awesome 10K.
  • Also, no coasting.
  • 2:3X:XX
Live updates on the race will be here:

My wave goes off at 8:52am.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A love letter to Garmin

I've been threatening to write this post for a while.  Those who know me, know I'm a little data obsessed.  Pair that with a remote coach whose 8-page monthly plans specify minute-by-minute desired heart rate down to a 4 beat range, and you've got a love affair with a $450 watch.

Disclaimer:  I do a fair bit of heart rate based training in the Mark Allen/ Phil Maffetone/ Joe Friel schools of thought.  I also have workouts that are power, pace, or perceived effort based.  I know many people have strong feelings on the best way to train.  Personally, I'm very pleased with the progress I've made over the last year of training this way (see a virtual 10 minute improvement over last year's Mass State).  Regardless of your philosophy, I believe that the Garmin can accomodate your training well.

The hardware:

I train with the Garmin 910XT.  It is their top-of-the-line triathlon watch.  I had some concerns last year that I wasn't "triathlete enough" for this watch's predecessor the 310XT.  I was also a little put off by the expense and the bulk, the thing looks like a TI-85 strapped to my wrist, but in the end it's swim functionality won out, and I shelled out the cash.

Prior to the 910XT, I had the 405CX.  I liked this watch fine.  In fact much of how I use the 910XT was how I used the 405.  The touch bezel, which is the biggest complaint about the old watch didn't give me much trouble.  My bigger concern was that it just wasn't very practical for a tri.  I couldn't swim with it on, so it added one more thing to deal with in transition.

One thing the 405CX didn't prepare me for is that the 910XT doesn't have a "sleep" mode where it just operates as a watch.  I guess Garmin determined that this is not the watch you wear out to dinner and thus having that "sleep" mode was unnecessary.  I turn the watch on just before a workout and turn it off when I'm done.  It does keep track of the time (always available from the menu pages), but that's not really why you bought it.

In addition to the watch itself, I have the heart rate strap (just the hard plastic one that comes with it, not the more expensive soft version), the foot pod for tracking run cadence and treadmill distance, and the bike sensor for cadence and speed.  The one element of technology that does not play well with my Garmin is the SRM power meter on the bike.  I have an older version that is not ANT+ compatible (the standard protocol for wireless transmission that Garmin uses/owns).  So my SRM tracks speed, cadence, power and heart rate (if I wear my polar HR strap), and Garmin track all of those things minus power.  This is an area for improvement when I win the lottery.

The software:

I use both Garmin Connect and Training Peaks.   Garmin Connect's interface is prettier, but slower and has less analysis than TP.  That said, it offers much better visuals for swimming.  GC is also free and comes with your Garmin purchase.  TP is what I use to communicate my workout metrics back to my coach and what he uses to provide feedback to me on those workouts.  There is a free version of TP, but it doesn't give the same metrics and analysis a paid membership gets, so I have the paid version.

Resting heart rate:

I've posted more in depth on this before, but putting on my Garmin strap is the first thing I do every morning.  I record my resting heart rate, while I'm still in bed.  I record in "other" mode.  You tell the 910XT what activity you're doing (swim, bike run or other).  I also turn the GPS off when I'm recording this cause 1) I'm not moving and 2) it drains the battery more quickly.  I record for 5 minutes while I check my email/surf the web on my phone.  Then I set about the rest of my morning routine.  Check out that other post for the gory details of how I find my minimum heart rate over a minute.


There are two basic modes that I use for running:  HR and time alerts for my long slow run, and workouts for higher intensity brick runs.

The first is pretty straight forward.  Once in Run mode, under the Training menu, you'll find Run Alerts.  Select HR alerts from here and enter your desired upper and lower limit.  If you're using GC and you've entered your zones there, you can just select the desired zone.  If you have message tones turned on (meaning the volume is on for alerts, under Settings > System > Tones and Vibration), then each time you enter or exit your zone, the watch will alert you.  If you're HR is too low it sings a little "Doo-do-Doo-do-do" song.  If it's too high, it's the same tune, but an octave higher "Dee-da-Dee-da-dee".  The screen also flashes a message to let you know these things as well, but I find the audio cue the most useful.  I don't have to look at the screen to know how I'm doing.  It has also had the unintended effect that I don't listen to music when I run any more.  Originally, I tried just listening in one ear, but now I'm completely broken of the ipod, and I sorta like it.

The watch also has a vibration mode to alert you.  I like this as well and will frequently use it on the bike as sometimes it's hard to hear the tones.  But it doesn't give you the extra auditory information of the little tune.  With the vibration it's really just the watch saying "look at me!"

On the long slow runs, I also use the time alert to remind me when it's time to eat.  I have one of those big hydration belts that carries 32oz of water, and I add a gel flask.  Every twenty minutes I take some gel, when the Garmin reminds me to do so.  With the water, I just drink when I'm thirsty and take note if I come back home with a lot of water.

So, that's the long slow run.  Two types of alerts with the volume on.  My brick runs, I program in.  I use the GC interface to do this.  From the Plan menu, choose Workouts.  Here you can enter intervals of a time based workout.  Let's say I have 5 minutes of warm up, followed by 5x1 mile at a set pace, with a minute and a half of recovery in between, followed by a cool down.  I can enter all of that into a workout, choosing whether I want the intervals to be time or distance (or on lap button) based, I can save that workout, and I can download that workout to my watch.  (Note in Garmin Connect, you select the type of interval it is "Warm Up," "Recovery," etc, but on the watch it doesn't actually display that information).

To do the workout, I go into Training > Workouts > Custom, select the workout and hit do workout.  If you have message tones set to on, it will again beep at you when you change intervals or when you are outside of the desired metric for that interval.  In addition to the too high and too low tunes, it also chirps when you're in zone.  I wish it did this with the regular alerts.

Although the 910XT offers many screens of data to scroll through (or auto-scroll through) during your workout, I typically just stick with one screen.  I have that screen set up to display instant pace, total time, instant HR and instant cadence.  I find that given the types of workouts I do, that's the most relevant data.  I keep total distance on the next page.  If you use a custom workout, the watch will create a special workout page, but you can still just scroll through to your normal pages as well.

One note on instant pace:  I have my watch set up to do one-second recording not "smart" recording which records less frequently if data is unchanged from the last recording.  I find that one-second recording is more accurate for instant pace, but that the 910's instant pace is still not as good as the 405's was, sometimes varying by up to a minute in either direction.  Thus is a bug that Garmin is aware of, but has yet to put out the proper fix.  I hope they will do this in the near future as it is incredibly frustrating, but since most of my workouts are primarily HR based, it is not a major issue for me.


This is much simpler than running.  If I'm on the trainer, I don't use the Garmin.  Since I can get all the data I need from the SRM, I just use it.  When I'm out on the road though, I use the Garmin for HR and GPS info.  TP does a pretty good job of merging the two files together.

On my long slow bikes, I use the Garmin similar to the long slow runs:  I set up bike alerts for HR and use time alerts for fueling reminders.  If I wanted to be most efficient, I would probably use a workout for these long slow rides because they usually have some sort of higher HR effort at the end, which the Garmin not-so-helpfully reminds me that I'm exceeding my HR.  Holding a constant anything (speed, HR, power) on the bike is challenging due to the ever-changing terrain.  If any one out there has suggestions on who to improve this, I'm all ears, I certainly haven't mastered it.

As for my home screen on the bike, I choose instant speed, total time, instant cadence and instant HR.  Again, distance gets the short shrift because my workouts tend to be time-based.


I love this watch for swimming.  I love that it counts my laps and my strokes.  I love that if I get a little lost in the workout (and who doesn't) Garmin knows exactly where I'm at.  I love that I can see my splits by 25s even when I haven't been hitting the lap button.

It's not 100%.  It does occasionally miss a lap or add a lap.  It has most of its trouble when I'm not "swimming" but rather "drilling."  And I can't really blame it.  It's hard to count strokes when I'm only stroking with the other arm.  I wish that the 910XT had the "drill mode" that the Garmin swim watch has, where it just operates as a timer but doesn't try to guess what stroke your doing.

Multi-sport mode:

This is, after all, why you by a multi-sport watch.  I get my Garmin all set in Multi-sport mode (Mode > Training > Multisport).  You can choose if you want to keep track of transitions separately.  The answer here is YES.  Why would you ever want to add your transition time to your other disciplines?  Hitting the lap button switches between disciplines.  If I'm wearing the sleeved wetsuit, I get it all set and ready to go, all but the start button to press, then put the suit on overtop.  I start the watch through the suit (no visible screen), that way the wetsuit doesn't get stuck on the watch during transition.  And, like the workouts, you can easily scroll to your pre-set discipline pages.  I practice with my Garmin when I do transition work to keep the button pushing fresh in my memory.

Before any race I make sure to turn off the HR alerts in biking and running as I don't want to be operating in that low of a zone during a race.  I keep my time alerts on though to remind me to eat throughout.


And that's pretty much it.  Happy to take questions.  If you want even more details and much prettier pictures, check out DCRainmaker's blog.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Incredibly lucky

And now a break from your regularly scheduled triathlon posting.

 Holy crap!  The big tree in front of our house came down in a freak storm yesterday, falling, luckily away from our house.

That's my house.

From the other side.

Neither of us was home at the time.  The storms rolled in around 4:30.  I was waiting them out at work cause I'd biked in, so I watched the radar as a big red splotch moved over our neighborhood.  At 6:30 it looked safe to return.  I was much more concerned about cycling through an electric storm than anything else.  Mostly the roads looked fine.  There were some big puddles but otherwise unremarkable.  Until I got to the fields near Alewife.

Bike path near Alewife.
Other side of that tree.  Sort of amazing how shallow the roots were for such a big tree.
Bike path between Alewife and Lake St.

It looked like a tornado had hit.  And from there the warzone continued.  Streets were blocked with branches and debris.  More neighbors than I've ever seen were milling about.  Without power, most were surveying the damage, pulling branches from backyards to the curb, and taking pictures of the damage.  Then I pulled up to my house.  Other than the tree blocking the bike path, our was easily the biggest.  But, shockingly, luckily, it seemed to do very little damage.  Even to our neighbors across the street.  The tree was resting on the power lines, but hadn't done any structural damage.

We are, it seems, the worst disaster-prepared people ever.  Do we own a flashlight?  I think so, but I have no idea where it is.  Matches?  A lighter?  Same story.  With no power and a phone battery already down at 20%, it wasn't going to be much help.  I have a small, battery-powered reading light that I used to navigate, and I borrowed a box of matches from the neighbors, so I could light the stove.  I was hopeful that the power would come back on, so I didn't dare open the fridge.  Pasta with olive oil and garlic salt for dinner!  Maybe we should have a few more staples to choose from.

At 10:30pm, the city's tree removal crews rolled in.  I watched them for half an hour as they sawed off branches as big around as me and winched them into the wood chipper.  It took them about 3 hours, but there's almost no sign of the tree this morning besides some saw dust and a ruptured sidewalk.  It had been awe-inspiring to see the raw destructive power of mother nature, but equally amazing the ability of man to clean up the mess so quickly.  Our power came back on once the tree was removed.

Where the tree was.

We also lost a few branches on the side of the house.

Seriously, this tree has seen better days.

I still can't get over how lucky we were.  No structural damage.  All our windows were closed, so no rain damage.  Time to invest in a flashlight.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

That final kick

I'm no good at surprises:  I schooled last year's time of 2:44 with a 2:25 and (mostly) broke my oly PR.  I say "mostly" cause, with a bike course that's only 22 miles, it's not a totally fair comparison.  If the bike had been 25 miles, and I held the same pace, I would have come in with a 2:34:46, which would still be a new PR, beating the time I set at Lobsterman last year by over 5 minutes.

My transition area.  Cheesy as it is, I love that my socks say "Run Fast"
Many things worked well for this race.  I felt better prepped, having gotten into town the night before, registered early, driven the bike course with A (she drove while I navigated with her phone displaying the route, my phone displaying our current GPS location and Coach Alan's description of the elevations) and gotten a full nights sleep.  As much as a 9am start puts a damper on doing much else on race day, it does give a nice sleep in.

I've also been trying to visualize my races beforehand.  Last year, in the run up to Nationals, I was so anxiety-ridden at the thought of the race, I couldn't even really think about it.  The butterflies were so intense.  This year, since I've done the course once, I can easily visualize myself at each step of the race.  I picture having flawless execution, and I picture what I'll do if shit happens (goggles get kicked off, puncture, etc) and how I'll move on.  I picture being calm and collected at the start, being excited, but not anxious, going through transition quickly, but not in a hurry.  I've been visualizing Nationals for a couple of weeks now, usually in those quiet moments before I fall asleep.  Last week, I did some work visualizing this race, and I feel like it really paid off.

With water temperatures a toasty 77 degrees, wetsuits were only just allowed.  A and I traded, so she used my sleeveless and I used her sleeved.  Despite Coach Alan's recommendation to use the sleeved one whenever they're allowed, I think A got the better end of this deal on such a warm day.  I'm comfortable with letting the real swimmers take off at the start, but I usually expect to be at the front of the pack of triathletes (not swimmers) in the water.  This swim started off the same, but heading down the back stretch, I got caught by a girl who was not wearing a wetsuit.  I swam on her toes for a bit, but she was just a bit too fast.  Then another girl caught up with me, and we swam shoulder to shoulder for a good 500 yards, until my stomach started cramping with effort, and I let her go to focus on my own form.  I came out of the water 20 seconds behind the first girl and 16 behind the second, but just ahead of one more.

Time: 24:38 (1:39 pace)
Rank in AG: 3 / 16
Rank in Women: 17 / 124
Rank overall: 47 / 343

The transition to bike felt a little off.  I was lightheaded from the effort on the swim.  My heart rate was high, and I took it a little easy running out to the mount line.

Once on the bike though, things settled in.  I got passed by a girl whom I thought was in my age group (but turns out was not) pretty early on, and I turned my attention to just executing the plan and hitting my heart rate goals, and not coasting.

A few weeks ago a friend posted his power file from a race, and the thing that struck me was that his power never dropped to 0.  This means he never coasted, never even freewheeled, he was constantly applying the pressure.  This is not typically the case for me.  I stop pedaling... a lot.  I coast when I'm going downhill, I coast when I'm coming into a turn, I coast when the road surface is bad.  So, a goal for this ride was to pedal throughout.  Here's my cadence file:

You can see only a few coasts.  First to put on my shoes, next as we went through town and the road was narrowed, once cause a car almost pulled out into me and one pot hole.  I'm pretty pleased with this.  Except for the car part.  This car was coming into the road from my right and attempting to make a left turn.  The driver was looking right and inching into the lane without realizing there were bikes coming right toward her.  I actually yelled "HEY!" at her, and swerved around the back side of her.  She stopped short and the two riders behind me passed in front of her.  It was a little scary, but seemed like an acceptable reason to coast for a bit.

Despite this I passed a woman on the bike.  In fact, looking at the results, it looks like I passed two, but on the course I only noticed passing one.  Still!  Yay!  Passing a woman on the bike!

Time: 1:07:55 (19.44mph)
Rank in AG:  6 / 16
Rank in Women: 34 / 124
Rank overall: 180 / 343

Getting out on the run, I figured I was in 3rd place at best, depending on how I'd done in the swim.  I thought about looking at my total time to calculate how fast I'd have to run to break my PR at this race.  But I also sorta liked just being out there for myself, not getting too caught up in the competition, just trying to be in the moment, and making the best of it as it came.  After such a well executed bike, I looked to the run to continue the trend.  I pulled out my gel flask to find that my cheat sheet had been completely worn off.  I knew what the top end of my heart rate zones should be, but I wasn't sure what the mileages were supposed to be.  So I sorta guessed.  

Around mile 2, I was feeling good, picking people off, and I passed a guy, and he got right on my heels.  And stayed there.  For four miles.  I started thinking of him as my shadow.  He fell right into my cadence, sped up when I sped up, slowed when I slowed.  I wanted to shake him off, but I couldn't without spiking my heart rate.  I hated the idea that he could put in a stronger final kick at the end and pass me, but I tried to put that out of my mind.

Just as we were nearing the finish, I caught up to a woman who had been just ahead of me for most of the race.  At first I thought she was 37, but as I got closer I saw she was 34.  My age group.  I looked up, and I could see the finish line tent through the trees, so I picked it up.  I was on a mission.  I passed her, and I didn't look back.  I didn't want to see what she was doing, I just wanted to put as much distance between the two of us as I could.

Finishing kick
That final kick finally shook my shadow (shirtless guy in the pict) and dropped my competition, moving me into 3rd place in my AG.

Finish line
Check out that sub-2:30 finish!  I finished 12 seconds ahead of 4th place.  This run was still around 51 minutes, so much better than last year, but still not a very solid 10K.  Could I have run this faster?  Maybe, but my heart rate was hovering just above where I thought I should be (and more than that in the last mile).  I felt like I ran this very close to the limit.

The F30-34 podium.  More glassware - love this race!
Time: 50:52 (8:12 pace)
Rank in AG: 2 / 16
Rank in women: 27 / 124
Rank overall: 135 / 343

Thanks for sticking with me through this one, seems like I can't get a brief race report this season.

A had a good race: a nice solid swim, surprised herself with her bike, and a tough run that she persevered through.  She beat her goal time by almost 25 minutes.  And her toe held up well.  Congrats!

Finally, I've uploaded my cleaned up spreadsheet of the results to google docs here.  I've fixed all the times, so they add appropriately.  I've also shown cumulative time at each of the timing mats, so you can see what position you were in relative to your competition.  Fun!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Not long now

This weekend is the Mass State Triathlon (it's not a championship of any sort, that's just the name).  It's my last race before nationals, so last time to work out any kinks before the big show.

I've done this race for the last two years, and both years it has been hot.  This year looks to be a little better, though still humid.  Hopefully, I'll be done before the temps hit 80.  

There's a non-zero chance that the race will not allow wetsuits due to the water temperatures (they didn't two years ago and the difference between that swim and last year's was about 5 minutes).  So I'm hoping for a wetsuit legal swim.

On the bike, I want to fine tune my power - how hard can I push and not blow up on the run?  The last two years I've averaged ~18-18.5mph on this race.  The beginning of the race season my biking was feeling a bit rough.  I'm feeling a little more confident in it these days, so I'm hoping to improve on that speed.  And the course is changed this year and a few miles shorter, so a PR on this bike is expected.

Last year and the year before both pretty much blew up on the run.  More so last year, but really neither was pretty.  The run is hot and despite what the race organizers say, not shady.  My running has come a long way in the off season, so I'm expecting great things here as well, or at the very least, no stopping.

Overall, if the swim is wetsuit legal, then I should beat my time of 2:44 from last year.  And maybe, just maybe, beat my PR of 2:40.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Little Domination

We can amend item 13 on the anniversary list.  I won my age group at the Webster Lake Tri.

Obviously, an age group win has a lot to do with who shows up.  My age group only had 8 competitors in it.  But, looking across age groups, I was the 5th woman home, out of 63.  That, I'm pretty proud of.  I hadn't gone in with explicit hopes of placing.  I went in wanting to have a low-stakes race where I could work on my race strategy and just go hard.  And I did just that.

The last time I did this course, it was my second triathlon ever, way back in 2007. Throughout the race on Sunday, I kept remembering how I felt at various points during that race all those years ago. 

R (the impetus to this whole triathlon thing), me and A, 2007 Danskin Sprint
A came with and was an excellent spectathlete, but she didn't race herself.  Definitely the smart move with a broken toe, but also a super tough call to make.  We got to the race course a little shy of 90 minutes before the race. Registered, racked, walked through the transitions, bathroom, got in the water to warm up, nutrition, and start.  It all went so smoothly.  The racks were numbered, but we didn't have assigned spots.  When we got there, mine was the first bike on the rack, so I put it right on the end.  I also brought one of those reflective ankle bands to mark the end of the rack.  Coming into transition, I could quickly scan the racks and find my spot easily.

BTT ladies ready to tackle Webster Lake
The plan here was to start solid, then kick it up a gear once the initial chaos had calmed.  This strategy worked perfectly.  At the start I lined myself up directly behind a fellow BTTer, whom I knew to be a strong swimmer (she went on to be the first place woman).  We got the countdown, and we were off.  Immediately, I could start to see a fast pack forming ahead of me, maybe 5-7 swimmers.  I thought briefly about sprinting up to get on feet, but I held back.  At the first turn (it was a triangular course), I started pushing harder, and I started passing people, not just ladies either, I was passing guys from the wave ahead of us.  In fact, I felt like I swam most of this swim passing through the guys.  In the end, I passed most of the girls who had gone out hard in that initial pack.

Distance: 0.42 mi (according to Garmin)
Time:  10:44 (1:27 per 100yds)
Rank in AG: 1 / 8
Rank in Women: 3 / 63
Rank overall: 12 / 185

This course has the longest trek from the swim to transition of any race outside of Pumpkinman (which offers a prize to the "King/Queen of the Hill").  When I did the race back in 2007, I stashed some flip flops near the swim exit and wore them for the run up to transition.  This year, I felt like it wasn't as rocky as I remembered, and that I was tougher than before, so I opted for barefoot running.  I had a consistent, but not super speedy pace.  I got passed by one woman on the hill.  I took a quick look at her, and knew she wasn't in my age group, so I decided not to give chase.  I ended up getting out of transition faster than her anyway, but she overtook me almost immediately, and set the fastest female bike split for the day.

Time: 3:26
Rank in AG: 1 / 8
Rank in Women: 7 / 63
Rank overall:  26 / 185

Looking at the elevation map, it looks like one big hill.  But what I remembered from 2007 was that the hill actually feels like 3 hills, that first one (in red), then the big purple one has a little leveling out that allows you to catch your breath a bit.  I was thankful to remember this.  Just about to the top of the hill, I got passed by another woman.  I wasn't confident of her age group, but I was pretty sure that the second digit was a 7, which would mean I couldn't have been racing against her.  I still didn't know how many women were ahead of me.  It was all dudes out there.  But I stuck to the plan.  The one thing that I seemed to have missed in my race prep was turning on the sound on my garmin.  It was giving me alerts to eat every 20 minutes, but only flashing them on the screen, not making noise.  I thought about trying to fix this as I rode, (which is not uncommon for me) but I decided I'd be better served by just focusing on cranking on the bike.

Distance: 12 mi
Time:  37:49
Speed: 19.0 mph
Rank in AG: 1 / 8
Rank in Women: 9 / 63
Rank overall:  47 / 185

This went exactly as rehearsed.  Yay for transition practice.

Time: 0:52
Rank in AG: 1 / 8
Rank in Women: 5 / 63
Rank overall:  23 / 185

Coming in off the bike, I could see the runners heading out.  I saw the woman who first passed me on the bike, then my teammate, then one other girl, whom I hadn't seen before, so I concluded she must have come out of the swim before me.  I didn't see the second woman who passed me on the bike, but I figured I must have just not seen her.  This meant I was at worst in second place in my AG, and in 5th in the women's race.  As I rounded the corner from transition, A told me she thought there were maybe 2 girls ahead of me in my AG.

Starting the run.  This guy stuck on my heals for about half a mile after I passed him
The goal of the run was to go hard for the first half, and harder for the second half.  In trying to drop the guy in the picture, I went a little bit too hard out to the first turn.  We went over an overpass that was a vicious hill in my memory, but in this race it was an undulation, not a pace killer.  As I was coming into the turn around, I could see the leaders in the women's race.  My teammate in first, the first biker, and the girl I hadn't seen before in third.  I spotted the second biker in fourth.  I thought the gap to her didn't seem unbridgeable.  But when I turned around myself, I didn't find another gear to shift into.  Definitely went a bit too hard on that first bit.  I tried to maintain.  When I hit the turn back onto the main road, I felt like I was running well, if a little gassed.  I ran the first half in 7:00 minute miles, and the second half in 7:11.  Not quite the plan, but still a solid 7:04 average (with the sprint at the end).  I did not catch the 4th place woman, but I also did not get caught by any other women either.

Distance: 2.71 (according to Garmin)
Time: 19:09
Pace: 7:04
Rank in AG: 1 / 8
Rank in Women: 4 / 63
Rank overall:  27 / 185

In the end, this race was incredibly fun.  It's so nice to just have a race go well.  To have no expectations and then to surprise myself.  The day before the race, my friend J, who was also racing, suggested that we should both win our age groups the following day.  I was a little nervous to make that sort of prediction, cause I didn't want those expectations.  But he had it right.  We both won our age groups.  I makes me want to do more (small) sprints.

Prophesy fulfilled, with J

Women's 30-34 podium, with teammate B!

Time: 1:12:00 
Rank in AG: 1 / 8
Rank in Women: 5 / 63
Rank overall: 26 / 185

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