Friday, May 28, 2010

Warrior Dash Pics

Love these.... I don't usually see many (hardly any) good race pictures of myself. These two are keepers!

Sprint tri micro training plan week 1...

My sprint tri is about 9 days away now. I am feeling pretty good about it despite the lack of real preparation prior to this week. As I have said before, I never go into this trying to win a medal, fortune or fame but I would like to improve my time. The last time I did this race was 2 years ago so here's hoping something has improved!

This week, I decided to drop boot camp for most of the week in favor of getting more swim, bike and run sessions in. The decision was made easy after one of the components in boot camp on Monday involved cartwheeling from one end of the basketball court to the other. Have I told you my childhood gymnastics experience? It is a short story but scarred me for life. LOL. As a youngster, I went to gymnastics for a few sessions. I don't think I was all that old, maybe 5? Anyhow, one of the little girls in my class stepped on my foot and told me I had fat toes. I never went back. It is funny now but is also the reason I don't cartwheel across the gym today (the guys in boot camp weren't crazy about it either) Ha ha.

Wednesday, I got a swim in. I only did 1000 meters but got a sense of my time. I should be able to complete the swim in about 8 minutes barring too much pandemonium at the start. For my workout, I did a 400 swim, 2 x 200 pull, 100 kick, and 100 swim to finish.

Since my biking is my weakest leg and I haven't had an opportunity this week to ride outdoors, I decided to give spin a try. I have taken a spin class before at Lifetime and remember thinking it was a little boring, I was watching the clock the whole time. I kind of think it was the instructor. I went to the early class this morning with a different instructor and loved it! For me, it was a big help to concentrate on pulling up on the pedals. I can really tell a difference when I take advantage of the clips on my shoes and use them properly. Hopefully, this will translate to my ride next week!

Post spinning, I did a quick 500 meters in the pool. I could definitely feel the difference between swimming fresh and swimming after an hour of spinning so took it a little easy and worked on my form. In my last masters session a while back, the coach said I was dragging my right arm a little low when I pull through. I have noticed that when I keep my elbow higher, my legs stay up higher as well (less like pulling anchors through the water). Hmmm.... The things you learn when you actually pay attention to a coach's advice!

All in feeling confident about next week's race. A few more days to get some work in before it happens!

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Warrior Dash...

Trash Bags to keep the car clean on the ride home:

Thrift Store Clothes to toss at the end of the race:

Zip tie from CR's tool box so my key won't get lost at the bottom of the lake:


Sludging through 3 miles in the mud with thousands of people you don't know:

I may not have words to adequately describe how incredible this race was but you know I will try and have some muddy pictures to prove I was there! Normally, I would not sign up for a 5k two hours from the house but the Warrior Dash is not your ordinary 5k. It is a 5k with all sorts of crazy obstacles built in. As I made the drive there this morning, I wasn't sure what to expect other than to come home dirty. I had NO IDEA how dirty.

The race was held two hours north of Atlanta near Tallulah Gorge (the one the Flying Wallendas walked over back in the day). If you don't know who they are, ask CR, my favorite stunt person aficionado. North Georgia is so lovely with the mountains and greenery. The race was actually at a campground in Clayton, GA. The locals were BEYOND enthusiastic.

As I got closer to the race, I noticed all the signs from the various merchants welcoming "the warriors". This race is HUGE! It is a two day event with several hundred people being sent off in waves every 30 minutes. I parked about a half mile from the site at someone's business. They were charging $10 which was the going rate and offered me a "huge hot dog". My stomach turned over a bit at the thought of a greasy hot dog pre-race told them maybe when I got back ;)

I walked to the entrance of the campground where people were literally being dropped off by the busload. This race is no joke but the real draw is the party atmosphere. There were bands, beer, and costumes galore. I was truly amazed at the number of people at this race.

Costumed warriors... part of me wonders what that costume will look like post-race

As I mentioned, it was a party atmosphere. It is not often you find the participants lighting up before a race.

I picked up my race swag which included my number, timing chip, warrior helmet and shirt and headed to gear check. My wave was officially 2:00 but they weren't really keeping an eye on the times so I jumped in with the 1:30 wave since I was early. Normally, as you stand in the corral, there is a murmur of chit chat and stretching. This corral was chanting and clapping and enjoying the moment. I have never seen so many costumed runners (particularly men) in any of my races (including the 3 at Disney). I only wish I could have brought the camera along for the run. I saw a couple people with I-pods which just seemed crazy. I am sure they were completely trashed post race. (The i-pods not the people...)

And, we're off.... The pyrotechnics shoot out of the start banner and we take off. The race starts on a narrow paved path. I was mid-pack and had a hard time fighting my way through the crowd to get some free running space. About 1/2 mile in, we hit the first obstacle. They had several 2x4s attached together stretched across a lake. They were a little tricky because they were bobbing up and down but managed to jog across them easy enough. Obstacle two followed which involved a jump down a short muddy incline into a lake. The lake was up to 4 feet deep in spots and had drop offs so you might go from 2 to 3 feet with no warning. I debated trying to swim it but did aqua jogging like most every else. Like most of the sections, they were just deep enough to make it hard to run but not so deep you could actually swim.

As you came out of that section, you climbed up a muddy bank at which point you are completely drenched which I am sure was a sight. There were loads of spectators in this area which was a short 20 foot run to a tire run. I tried to step through a couple of them at which point someone yells, "step on top of them, its easier" followed by "go pink". My thrift store outfit I selected for the race was all pink so I appreciated the shout out. I flew over those tires like nobody's business once I got that tip.

Another short run followed by another obstacle. This one included three 3-foot high wooden walls you had to scramble over. Done and done. More running.... Pulled myself up an incline with a rope followed by more running... Probably the hardest obstacle for me was the cargo net climb. I don't recall doing anything like that before and wasn't expecting the rope to be moving. Not all that difficult but I was a little surprised and had a hard time for a quick minute trying to find my footing to head down. Next was a short run up and over four junk cars (being careful not to cut myself as my tetanus shots may not be up to date).

After the car graveyard, we headed to the "black forest" which was essentially and 3/4 mile or so run on a single track trail with logs to jump over and branches to beat out of your way. The trail was a significant climb so there were lots of walkers. I employed the slow jog/partial walk uphill, fly downhill strategy when we finally got to the downhill towards the end.

At the end of the trail were pipes to crawl through and then a short run down the rest of the trail ending in a mudslide down a hill. As you approach, the volunteers are yelling at you to "slide down it like you are sliding into second base", which I did. I wasn't really a softball player and didn't slide so much when we played kickball in the street so it was more of a slide and pull yourself through the mud getting as much mud as possible in your already ill-fitting shorts. The mud hill went right into a pit of mud that had tape along with strings of barbed water across the top of it. I crawled through it like I had been mud wrestling all my life. Some people chose the run and duck under the wire approach. I could feel mud being slung in my face and hair all the way across.

Up and out of the mud pit into the log roll section. I believe this was designed to get the mud off but it didn't work that well for me. Basically there were three logs in the lake (like you see in the lumberjack competitions only they are standing on them trying to stay on the logs). You swim a few feet than maneuver over each of the logs and finally pull yourself up a little incline out of the water. At this point, I was wet and beyond muddy.

The final obstacle was fire jumping. They had two fires stretched across the length of the raceway so you jumped twice. I had seen pictures of the ones in Texas and I am not saying they don't do things big in Texas but their fire was nothing compared to ours. I wasn't worried too much because I was drenched but it was more of an intense fire than I expected. Jump, jump, 20 foot run and I was across the finish line and eating a post-race banana.

SO.MUCH.FUN. If you have an opportunity to run one of these races, please do! You will not regret it. The only thing I regret is the filthy state of myself post race... You can't see it in this pic but my hair is coated in mud, my ears are packed with mud and it is all over my forehead and sides of my face.

They were accepting all the filthy shoes for a charity post-race. Apparently, they clean them up and give them to people in need.

I was beyond any level of filth I have ever achieved, even in my childhood. I was probably even dirtier than the time I accidentally ran through an alligator pond in Florida as a kid. (Have you seen the ones that are green like the grass?) My hair wasn't just wet, it was caked in mud. By the time I got home, the mud had hardened to the point where it felt like I had a helmet on my head. Not kidding. It was pretty funny. I had 2 clips in my hair and had a hard time locating them because my hair was stuck to my head and crunchier than even my best 80s hair. I even managed to pull out a couple of small twigs. I had worn an old white sports bra because I knew it was going to get trashed. It is now dark gray. I was filthy to the point where I really needed to hose off before I got in the shower. Underneath the clothes I was black with dirt. I was insanely filthy but it was so worth it!

Tomorrow's plan is to get up early, load up my bike and head to Lake Lanier for a trial run of the bike leg of my triathlon. I have run the race before so the course is familiar. This particular ride is only 12 miles so it is the perfect length to dip my toes back into the sport. I feel pretty good about it. Swimming has always been easy for me and I have been running regularly enough so I think if I can just get some pool sessions in, I should be comfortable enough to string it all together come race day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I have been bitten...

Ever since I started doing the group bike rides, I have had the overwhelming desire to get back into triathlons. I have really had to hold myself back from registering for the 70.3 in Augusta. I have a bad habit of loading up my plate with too much and not enjoying the experience because I am too busy jetting from one activity to the next. I have spent much time perusing in search of a race. The 70.3 Pigman in Iowa caught my eye, Augusta is insanely close to home... It is all so tempting but I have a couple of big races already on the calendar for later this year and am not sure I should shoehorn another race in the mix.

Several ladies from my tri group are doing their first tri in two weeks. It is a sprint and one I have done before. I was on the fence about registering as summer tennis starts that weekend (refer to previous mention of overloaded plates). Late yesterday, I received an email from the race organizers promoting the race. It was fate. It was as if they knew. It was... Ok, they really just had my name on file from 2 years ago and want to fill up the race, whatever. I signed up. Now to see if my BFF Hal Higdon has a 2 week triathlon plan.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Skirt Chaser 5k

On tournament weekends, I spend a lot of time in the bar area selling snacks, powerade, etc. Every once in a while, there will be a young kid in there trying to entertain themselves while their brother or sister plays their match. On Saturday, there was a VERY mature 7 year old in there. You would have thought she was 12 if not for her size. We discussed her plans for the summer (she was "going to stay at home and do something creative"), how to stop a bleed (her Dad, the ENT told her you should apply pressure to stop bleeding), the mystery flavor of airheads (a kid favorite - apparently the mystery flavor is almost always cotton candy) and then she drew me a picture (she said it was "to attract customers"). At one point, she pulled a dollar out of her pocket and said "I have had a nice time, I am going to give you a tip". LOL. Too cute... I told her to keep it in case she got thirsty later and needed to buy a drink.

Post tournament, I headed to the Skirt Chaser 5k. Such a fun race! The ladies are given a 3 minute head start on the guys and the guys chase them down. The first guy passed mile marker one. Speedy Gonzales. I was pretty pleased with my time, just a few seconds off my PR at 26:49.

Hubs came to enjoy the festivities which included beer, burritos and a live band. It was great weather albeit a little warm (88 degrees) but nice. Here we are chilling before the race and before I realized I was sitting on an ant pile. LOL.

These little guys were in our race bags. Have you tried the energy bites from powerbar? I really like them, they are sort of like little powerbar truffles with a crispy coating. I might have to try these again!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Racing strategy...

I received this in an email from McMillan Running Company today. You've heard of them, right? They are known for the McMillan Pace Calculator, custom running plans, etc. It looks like good information to me so a little copy, a little paste and here you go....

A Strategy for Better Performance
- Go Zone Racing -
by Greg McMillan, M.S.

In analyzing the splits of hundreds of competitive distance runners, it's clear that personal records and breakthrough performances at distances from 800 meters to 10K come only by getting out of your comfort zone and into your "Go Zone."

Go Zone racing involves serious mental toughness and some risk-taking, as well as a heavy dose of pre-race planning. It is not for the faint of heart. It is for runners who want to perform their best, who want to challenge themselves, who want to go beyond their previous bests.

In short, Go Zone racing puts particular emphasis on the most critical race stage -- the stage where you likely fail to stay on pace and the goal slips away. For most runners, this occurs in the third quarter of races (see chart), the time that is usually the No-Go Zone. But with the right mindset, you'll turn this into your Go Zone and your next races into breakthroughs.


In your mental prep in the hours (and possibly days) leading into the race, get mentally ready to run fast. The efficacy of this is demonstrated in the "Carlsbad Phenomenon." The Carlsbad 5000 in California is the site of multiple world records and untold PRs by inspired non-elite runners. These records are not because the course is fast; it is not hard, but it does involve two 90-degree turns and two 180-degree turns, plus two slight inclines. It's the mindset. Everyone knows the race is going to be fast so they get mentally ready for it. They expect it to be a fast race, and so it is. Transfer the Carlsbad Phenomenon to your next race. Go into it expecting it to be fast and it likely will be.

The Start:

In the Start Zone, you must be aggressive. You must get out strongly for the first portion of the race (the first one to three minutes of a 5K, for example). Your Start Zone pace for most races will be slightly faster than goal pace but still under control and not too fast. While you won't win the race or PR here, you will set the tone of the race.

Fast Rhythm Zone:

The next section of the race is about finding a relaxed but fast rhythm -- that cadence and stride that is quick but relaxed and where you are smooth and fast. You are simply trying to stay on pace but cover ground as easily as possible. If you can do this and do it relatively relaxed, you'll be ready to attack the Go Zone.

The Go Zone:

This is it! After you pass through the halfway point, you enter the Go Zone. In this section, significantly increase your intensity and attack the race. This is vitally important, as the race will be getting harder and harder. You simply must increase your intensity to keep the pace going. Know that if you can just push harder through this section of the race and keep your pace on target, you will achieve your goal.

A good idea is to not only increase your intensity internally, but also to focus on something external. If racing in a pack, move up in the group. If racing in a line of runners, pass someone. If racing alone, pick out a point up ahead on the road or somewhere on the track and focus on running harder to that point. Then, pick another point or pass another person. Do whatever you must to keep the pace going. It's going to hurt -- breakthroughs always do -- but the suffering will be minimal compared to the days and sometimes weeks of knowing you didn't give it your all.

The Get-Time Zone:

Once through the third quarter of a race, you enter the Get-Time Zone. We can all sprint at a pace faster than goal pace. The key is that you must start your push toward the finish line earlier than you normally do. Don't wait until you see the finish line. You can't score too many precious seconds in the last 100 meters. But if you start your push to the line earlier (the last 1 to 2 minutes to go in a 5K or 10K race, for example), you'll score several seconds that can be the difference in your performance. It's not easy, of course, but if you can get your brain to risk it, and your legs to obey, you can Get Time.

It might take several races before you get the hang of Go Zone racing. But try it enough and eventually it will become the norm. If your experience is like that of others who have mastered it, get ready to re-write your personal record book.

Go Zone : Racing Rules

1) You must be race fit. For that reason, Go Zone tactics work well later in the race season.

2) You must be realistic in your racing goal relative to your training. No wishful thinking or exaggerating what is possible.

3) You must be willing to straddle the fine line between going too fast and going perfectly fast. Even "failure" will help you better understand where that line is.

4) You must be engaged in your races and specifically focus on the task of each zone.

Greg McMillan is a National Champion runner, USATF certified coach, and exercise physiologist.

This article was featured in the April 2009 issue of Running Times Magazine (

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Where did the week go?

I guess every single post I create could have that title. This week seemed particularly whirlwindish. In desperate need of some form of time off, I took off Thursday and Friday and created a long weekend for myself. My "no weekends" at the hills was short lived as I had an 11 hour shift there today and work there all next weekend. The long weekend was really just to get a break before I another long working jaunt.

Tuesday and Wednesday...
Tuesday, I did some speedwork on the treadmill. I really need to get outside and run as the treadmill was a drudgery on this particular day. Some days you have the mindset for it and some you don't. It didn't help that I slept a little later than I wanted but all in all I made it work and marked speed intervals off my list for the week. I followed that up with boot camp on Wednesday.

I headed to Stone Mountain for a 5 mile run. I decided to top off the run with a 1.3 mile hike up the mountain. Let's just say it has been a while since I powered up the mountain. In my head I had minimized the difficulty a little too much. It certainly isn't rappeling and rock walls but a little more intense than I remembered especially after a 5 mile run. It was a great work out. As you approach the top, there is a fairly steep section. There was a man up there running hill repeats on the top section. Pretty impressive.

Did I mention it was hot?

I had forgotten a lot about the walk up the mountain over the years. Along the path, there are several cool carvings where various people throughout the years have etched their names in. Not a lot but a few random ones. Mostly over 20 years ago (I noticed one newer one but it was done in a sharpie, I guess the art of carving is gone...LOL). This was one of the older ones. It is pretty cool to think someone was here over 130 years ago.

Found this on the internet about them... apparently they dated for 5 years (or more)before they were married. There was some speculation on the internet site that Mrs. Goodyear might have been a chaperone.

The Georgia Enterprise, June 22, 1883:
Mr. Josiah A. Carter, city editor of the Atlanta Constitution, was married to Miss Annie Logan Anderson, at the residence of her uncle, Col. Newton Anderson, in Covington, Saturday last. Rev. J. N. Bradshaw performed the interesting ceremony. We wish the newly wedded pair all the joy and pleasure that a life of love and hope can grant. To such a well-suited pair the future is sure to be one of peace and plenty.'

This is the beginning of where the man was doing hill repeats. Here and then to the top which has another steeper section.

Thursday evening was my first group ride with the triathlon group I mentioned on Tuesday. The ride started out great. It had been quite a while since I had taken out the bike and it was well, just like riding a bike.... It took about 10 seconds to recall which levers controlled which gears and I was off and running.... for about 5 miles.

At the 5 mile mark, I got a flat. We all pulled over and assessed the situation. Luckily, the ride leader knew how to actually change a tube as NONE of the rest of us did. It is one of those things I knew I needed to learn buy just had not gotten around to it yet. I did, however, have a spare tube and CO2 cartridge. The unfortunate part is that the guy at the bike shop who gave my bike a once over and put together my road kit for me failed to recognize that my tires are 650s as opposed to the more common 700s. (or something like that). Anyhow, the tube was too big for my tire. Ride leader, pulls out her patch kit. She puts a patch on the hole and attempts to inflate. Turns out there were 2 holes. There goes the CO2 cartridge. Husband of ride leader patches second hole. The tire wasn't quite seated in the rim and blew out as it was being inflated. Random guy on bike comes by and asks if he can help (he had ridden by earlier with a pack of his biker friends). I took him up on his offer, we loaded the bike in his car and hitched a ride back to my car. (My new bike friends took off on their bikes after taking a picture of his license plate in case I never made it back... I might be too trusting of people, that never occured to me). So my first experience with the tri group wasn't exactly as planned (I felt soooo bad). I assure you, they will never forget me AND they all know they need a repair kit to carry on their bikes and have some idea how to change a tube. :)

I took the bike to the tri shop around the corner from my house where I got a new tube and two new tires as it turns out mine were on their last leg anyhow. I feel like it was good the flat happened or I would have had no idea that the tires were in bad shape. I am still not really sure how to tell as there really isn't tread like there is on a car tire. I will have to figure that one out another day. Friday night was the last match of my mixed team's season. I lost my match but the team won overall so we won the division. WOO HOO!

lots of cleaning. Part of that purging I promised myself months ago. Tons of things headed out to the trash, goodwill, etc. and am not even close to being done to my satisfaction. Baby steps :)

Have you guys tried Cheribundi? It is a tart cherry juice with the "jiuce of 50 cherries in every serving". They sent me some samples to try and I might be a little biased because cherry is my favorite flavor ever but this is really yummy! Their marketing material says it tastes like cherry pie and I have to say they are correct. I was given the regular flavor, lite and protein packed versions. All were tasty and would definitely recommend them.

Interestingly enough, in my purging yesterday, I came across an article in a magazine from a few months back talking about the benefits of cherry juice. The article stated that a 2008 British strudy showed that runners who downed 16 ounces of tart cherry jiuce for 5 days prior to and two days after the London Marathon had reduced inflammation, oxidative stress and muscle damage. Might be worth a try!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Isn't it ironic...

Don't you think? A little too ironic. The week I declare that "I most likely will never win my age group"... I win my age group in a race. It definitely was a low participation race and the smallest race I have seen in some time. My chances of winning go up tremendously when there are only around 100 runners. I have never won my age group so I'll take it :) AND, for the record, there were at least 3 people in my age group because there were 2nd and 3rd place awards given. Oh, the BLIMPIE sponsored 12k? NO blimpie sandwiches at the finish. More irony...

This was the best weekend I have had in six months. I did not have to work, I had a great race, it was perfect. I showed up for the race bright and early at 6:30 only to be told the 5k started at 7:30 and the 12k started at 8:30. As I contemplated taking a nap in my car, I ran into a friend from Lifetime Fitness who was with me for my first 5k a couple years back. She was bitten by the bug as well and has competed in multiple races (I think 3 or 4 marathons since that 5k).

My friend is also a member of the running group I was with earlier in the year. I had stopped participating because of job number two but was thinking of hooking back up now that my Saturdays were mostly free again. As it turns out she is learning to swim and is with the triathlon segment of the running group now. My ears perked right up! I like the running group but REALLY wanted to find a tri group close to home. They swim on Tuesday nights and bike on Thursdays. PERFECT for my schedule. I am going to meet them this Thursday for the ride. I am so excited about bumping into my friend and joining with the tri group.

Running the race, getting a decent time and running into my friend all felt like a series of things that were meant to happen. The race gave me a boost of confidence and inspiration that I needed. It just felt good. The distance wasn't all that long but I haven't really been running all that much lately so it felt good to run a little over 7 miles and not really have any issues. It was getting to the point where mentally I wondered if I could do it. Sad but true. The tri group, a bonus!
Isn't it funny how one event can turn your whole outlook and give you that spark you needed? There might just be a 70.3 in my future... All I need is to log some miles on the bike!