Army 10 Miler

(Race Date: October 24, 2010)
I think I can honestly say that the Army 10 Miler (ATM) is my favorite race of all time.  That’s a pretty serious statement, and I thought long and hard before writing it down for the whole world to see, but there’s just no denying it.  I LOVE THE ARMY 10 MILER! And here’s why:

1) My Mom.  ATM weekend is OUR mother/daughter weekend.  Just the 2 of us to do whatever we want and no (my) sisters to interrupt us.  Since moving to D.C. in 2007, this has become our tradition.  And while we don’t technically run together, we both run the race and we both finish the race, together. 
Note: For those that don’t know, I’m fairly certain (like 99.9999999999% sure) that my mom is the reason I’m a runner.  The day that I was born my mom went for a morning run (the neighbors thought she was crazy).  I was literally born to run.  So, I think it’s really special that 27 years later, we are still running together.  

2) Home Turf.  ATM is on home turf.  Racing doesn’t get much easier than that.  And it doesn’t hurt that we run through the Pentagon and our Nation’s Capital.  Pretty bad ass, if you ask me. 
3) Weather.  I don’t know how we get so lucky with the weather (knock on wood).  This is my 4th year running and I’ve had awesome weather every race. 
4) Soldiers.  WOW!  I love seeing our Soldiers running the ATM, especially the ones who have been injured.  I mean, if watching a double amputee running 10 miles doesn’t inspire you, than I don’t know what does. 
A special “Thank You” to all who have served and are serving our country, whether you run the ATM or not.  
5) The “Feeling”.  I get an awesome feeling when I run this race.  People are everywhere, cheering on the runners.  The volunteers are incredible, with more than 1/2 being our Soldiers.  The after-party is fun!  There are bands everywhere.  
6) Expo.  I am a huge sucker for expos, especially the ATM expo.  Awesome vendors.  Awesome prices.  Awesome gear.  
I had a great race this year, and while I didn’t beat last year’s time (6:58 pace), I felt good about my run given (my lack of) training.  My mom and BJ both improved their times by 10 minutes – so I have a lot of work to do for next year (I can’t have my mom and BJ beating me – sorry guys, I just can’t).  
Stats: 
Overall Time: 1:12
Overall Place: 1,451/21,699
Sex Place: 179/9,601
Division Place: 58/1945


Recap:  I just publicly declared that the Army 10 Miler is my favorite race, ever.  So, I will, of course, sign up for ATM #5.  #5, I plan on beating #4!  Watch out!   
My crew: BJ and KP


SavageMan Triathlon

(Race date: September 18, 2010)

SavageMan is my favorite (and last) triathlon of the year. I love everything about this race:

Area – Deep Creek, MD is gorgeous (and hilly)

Course – Ohhh, it’s “savage”, alright

Volunteers – they are all so nice and wonderful

Racers – they are also, surprisingly, nice

Post-race grub – Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream? Yes, I will!


I’ve already made it perfectly clear, here and here, that I had not been training. So….the goal of this race was to have fun and finish! I can do that.


The water was very cold, even with my full body wetsuit, so it took my body and breathing a good 15 minutes to adjust. Another factor contributing to the breathing problem: I had not been swimming since EagleMan in June. Talk about a 4-month shocker. Overall, felt good (all thing considered) coming out of the water.

Swim: 31:03


For 2010, the course architect changed the bike course. It’s hard to say which course was harder – both have massive hills and challenging climbs. Bumblebee Mountain has an elevation gain of some 450 feet in a very short period of time. It’s not easy stuff. However, the best part about the bike course, and what keeps me going, are the motivating signs. And by motivating, I mean hilarious and sometimes, down-right mean (in a funny way). Here’s a few of my favorites:


“Outta Gears? Outta Luck!”

“Don’t you wish you had a 3rd ring, now?”

“Kyle Yost, Course Architect: 202-248-XXXX”

“You’re not almost there”


And, to make matters even worse (or better?), spectators are dressed in devil costumes. Not. Even. Kidding.

I love this race!!

Bike: 1:22:03


I felt strong coming off the bike – and even for the 1st 2 miles. But, around mile 2, something funny started happening with my right foot. It fell asleep and did not want to wake-up. (Has this ever happened to anyone??!) I ran/walked the last 4 miles with a prickly foot. It was painful. Overall time, not terrible – I’ll take it, prickly foot and all.

Run: 52:52 (8:30 pace)


Total Time: 2:51:10


Overall, I had a great day and enjoyed the race. It was fun to see BJ and a few friends along the course. I actually PR’ed – I’m using this term very loosely – from last years race (2:51:21) – but with little-to-no-training I’m happy I was even able to do that. 2011 – you’ve got yourself a rematch! Plus, I’m going back for mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Stats:

Swim: 31:03

Bike: 1:22:03

Run: 52:52

Total Time: 2:51:10


Recap:

In 2008 I finished Savageman in 3:06:32; 4th place for Women 25-29

In 2009 I finished SavageMan in 2:51:21, 4th place for Women 25-29

In 2010 I finished the race in 2:51:10, 4th place for Women 25-29

(with no training, and by “no”, I do mean NO)


It looks like like I’m destined to be 4th. Maybe if I train for SavageMan 2011, I’ll come back better than ever and maybe, just maybe, place 3rd!



EagleMan 70.3

(Race Date: June 13, 2010)

I thought it would be cool to do a half-ironman 3 weeks before my wedding.


In reality, I had signed up for the race before I got engaged (and started planning a wedding). It just happened to fall pretty close to a pretty important event. Since I hadn’t been training properly, BJ and a few friends tried to persuade me not to do the race “No one will think anything of it” or “You can always do it next year”. I paid $300 for the race. I was going to do the race!

Anyway, it’s just a half ironman. No big deal, right?

Wrong.


Let’s just say I almost died 3 weeks before my wedding.

Every year the race takes place in Cambridge, MD. EagleMan is known as an extremely flat course – but also extremely HOT and windy. There isn’t even an area of shade the size of a small leaf on the entire course. June 13, 2010: 104 degrees, with an even hotter heat index. KMS.

At 6am, the morning temperature was already so hot that wetsuits were completely illegal. Race officials wouldn’t let you in the water if you had one on. (Note: Some races allow you to wear a wetsuit, even if the water temperature is above the “wet suit legal” temperature. However, your time doesn’t count if you win or place. This race wouldn’t even allow that!)

1.2 mile swim without a wetsuit: Yikes! I’d never done that before. (Rookie mistake #1)

9:30am, I am the last wave to start. The water was nice and warm. I felt pretty good for the first 30 minutes, but the last 28 were brutal. I knew right away I hadn’t trained enough. Swim time: 58:44

Out of the water, complete outfit change in transition and I was on my bike. (Right now I should point out that I was 1 of about 10 people who didn’t have a triathlon bike. In real life, a completely flat course is not made for a road bike. Rookie mistake #2). Initially I felt great on the bike. This was the only part of the race that I had kind-of taken seriously. But at mile 40 I completely hit a wall. Couldn’t wait to be off the bike. So hot that I had a massive heat headache. And just plain angry. Bike time: 3:20:30

F-i-n-a-l-l-y made my way into transition, complete outfit change and I was on the run. (Right now I should point out that I had consumed 3 bottles of water and a handful of jolly ranchers on my 3 hour bike ride. Rookie mistake #3). I ran the 1st mile and felt okay. After the 1st mile, the heat headache that I talked about before, came back with a vengeance. I knew I was dehydrated but couldn’t stop. I kept telling myself, “You don’t start a half-ironman and not finish”. I also told myself it was okay to run/walk/run 13.1 miles (a VERY hard thing for a runner to come to grips with). So, that’s what I did. I ran and walked the 12 miles. Then, as I approached the last mile and looked down at my watch, I thought: “if I run the last mile, like I know I can, I can finish in 7 hours”. So, I sprinted my heart out, crossing the finish line in 7:00:32. Run time: 2:32:44

After I finished, I posed for a couple of pictures (Duh, I had a bad-ass medal and I just finished a half-ironman). About 1 minute later, I was throwing up and being rushed to the medical tent.

2 IV bags, an ambulance ride, and 2 more IV bags later, I was good enough to be discharged from the ER. Diagnosis: severe dehydration and nausea. To this day, I still can’t eat an orange.


Stats:
Turns out the swim was 1.6 miles instead of 1.2 (thanks race director) but other than that, I’m out of excuses. I just didn’t train enough…
Swim: 58:44
Bike: 3:20:30
Run: 2:32:44
Total: 7:00:32

Recap: I’m down for another EagleMan – as long as I have a tri bike!

Suntrust Richmond Marathon – 8k

I have a confession to make:

1) I have not run since the engagement. Yes, I got engaged 17 days ago.

2) I have not properly trained since my last triathlon in September.

Trust me, I have my excuses:

1) I got really sick 4 days after the engagement and was out of commission for 3 days.

2) I have been wedding planning like crazy (it’s practically all I think about right now)! We want to get married in May – June of 2010 but I’m running in to some problems:

a. Since it’s a short (7-8 months) engagement, most places are booked.

b. We can’t do 5 of the 9 weekends in May or June (due to previous commitments including my little sister’s high school graduation and our half-ironman in June)

c. I live in DC – things here are so expensive (and it’s depressing).

Okay, so I’m telling you this for a reason: I ran an 8k today. Originally I had signed up for the half-marathon but due to said confessions and a foot problem, I decide to switch to the 8k. I’m glad I did. (I’m sore as hell!)

The race went better than expected – and I’m glad I decided to run. Since 8k’s are fairly uneventful I don’t have a ton to report. It was a nice, flat (and slightly downhill on the way back), out and back course. Like most of the races I run, many people started when they weren’t suppose to – so I spent the 1st mile running in and out of people. Around mile 1.5, I finally got into a groove. Literally. There were bands and DJ’s playing awesome music along the run – which is fun and motivating since I don’t run with an iPod when racing. At mile 3, I started to feel tired – and this old time runner who was about to pass me (he was probably 50) said: “Come on – don’t let up now”. Okay, okay. So, I picked up the pace and ran the last 2 miles with him. I really needed him and am thankful that he didn’t let me “let up”! The last half mile he said: “This is it – let’s push it in”. And that’s exactly what we did! Glad to be finished, I turned around to give my new running partner a high-five – and he brought it in for a hug. I love runners!



Stats:

Overall: 134/3542

Age Group: 5/559

Gender: 19/???

Time: 35:23 (7:07 pace) – shocking, but a new 8k PR, too!




PS – the race shirts were awesome: long sleeve, wicking and gender specific. Hint to all other race directors: get good shirts!

Army 10 Miler (ATM)

Race 4 of 4, in 4 weekends

Every year since I have lived in the DC area, my mom has come up from Florida for a Girl’s/Army 10 Miler weekend. My favorite part about the weekend (besides running 10 miles) is that I get my mom all to myself! When I go home to Florida, I have to share her with my dad and sisters – Army 10 Miler weekend, it’s 100% uninterrupted Mom/MP time – and I love it! Since my mom is the reason that I am a runner, it seems fitting that our girl’s weekend would include a 10 mile run. No shopping sprees or mani/pedi’s for us – we are all about the Army 10 Miler!

Expo: One statement – I love Expo’s! I love getting 20% off running shorts. I love discounted running shoes. I love One More Mile slogans, like “One Bad Mother Runner” and “Toenails are for Sissies”. I love to people watch.

And this year, I love TRX. Since the website says it better than me, TRX Suspension Training gives athletes, military personnel and fitness pros a complete total-body training tool and the cutting-edge training programs they need to take their performance to the next level (yes, I will) . The main reason I love TRX: I won one – for free – by winning the “low row” contest. My new friend Shawn (see picture below), told me that he would give me one, on the spot, if I could do 30. I made it to 24 and had to call it quits. However, 24 placed me #1 for most female rows. So, I still won (awesome, right?!)! I seriously think that TRX will take my workout routine to a whole new level – and I can not wait to start using it! (Thanks Shawn!)
After we left the expo, with new shorts, a pair of running shoes and 3 running tops, we headed to my favorite pre-race restaurant – Faccia Luna – and ordered a delicious pizza. Since high school, I have eaten pizza before every road race – it’s the one routine superstition that I can not give up. Delish dinner with mom and BJ, wine, dessert – and off to bed. I needed as much “dreaming-of-a-PR” sleep as possible.

Race Day: We woke up to awesome weather – it was a little chilly but I knew it would warm up, so I wasn’t concerned. The forecast: 72 and partly sunny. I love awesome running weather! Mom, BJ and I got to the race about 1 hour before the 8am start. We got to see the beautiful sunrise, the Golden Knight parachute team and cheer on the Military Veterans and amputees who started at 7:45am. 8am race start – I was ready to rock the ATM!

Since the 2009 Army 10 Miler marked the 25th Anniversary of racing, they opened the race to 30,000 runners! Since there were 30,000 runners, they had specific waves for specific race numbers (all color coordinated by having same-color race numbers and balloon arches indicating the wave). Since I was bib number 2245, I was in the wave (#2) behind the elite runners. However, like any big race, with 30,000 runners, 96 year old, Grandma Betty, with bib number 29,987, thought she could start in wave #2, too. Sorry, grandma – you can’t! My biggest frustration (besides not enough water) is runners who think that they can start whenever they want. There are wave starts, bib numbers and timing chips FOR A REASON! If you’re not in my wave, don’t start running with me!

Miles 1 – 1.5: I spent the entire first mile (and next half mile) running in and out of people that started in the wrong wave. I had to slow down, break my pace and actually walk around people. I had to yell: “on your right”, “or your left” and “in the middle” too many times to remember. Seriously, people, you think that’s acceptable?! Now, please don’t get my wrong, I am not an elite athlete nor do I think that I am “so awesome” that I’m not human, but I just don’t understand why people start in the wrong wave. It is clearly marked, there are a million color-coordinated balloons to help you, should you get confused, AND, for the love of God, you know you are not running that fast!

Surprisingly, I crossed Mile 1 in 7 minutes (it should have been faster but honestly, I’m surprised it was that fast).

By mile 4 I realized that I was consistently running 7 minute miles and wondered if I could keep that pace for 6 more miles. I felt really strong – plus, my mom gave me some awesome advice the night before. Awesome mom advice: it doesn’t hurt any more to run a 7 minute/mile than it does to run a 7:15/mile or a 7:36/mile (my pace from last year). What the hell – I’ll keep running a 7 minute mile – and I’ll be done sooner! I love mom advice, especially because moms are generally right.

I saw BJ around Mile 7 (for me – and Mile 5.5 for him). We always get excited to see each other and I love when he tells me that I look strong, or yells: “Go Melly go!” Since he knew that I was a faster runner than him, even before we started dating, he is the most supportive and awesome boyfriend on race days!

Approaching Mile 8, I still felt really strong, continued to pass people and knew I only had 2 miles left. A little blister started to form (I really need some blister advice – how do I make them stop??) – but with 2 miles left, I knew that I could run through the annoyance and deal with it later. Still on a 7-ish pace, I tried to pick up the pace, even if just a little tiny bit. I hit Mile 9, only 4 laps around a track left, and started to pass runners one by one. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but as a former 400m runner, I still feel really strong at the end – and am usually able to find a little extra kick somewhere deep down!

With (probably) half a mile left, I looked down at my watch and realized that if I kept running hard (and fast), I would:
A) Shatter my time from last year (2008: 1:16:01)
B) Run under 1:10:00 – which means my pace would less than 7 minute/mile.

I sprinted to the finish line – and crossed in 1:09:58!! Even, if just barely, that’s a sub 7 minute/mile pace – and 6 minutes and 2 seconds faster than last year!! (YAY!!)

Overall Time: 1:09:58 (6:59 pace)!!!!
Overall: 1,016/21,289
Sex: 95/9566
Age Group: 32/1966

I am so thankful for:
A) Awesome weather!!!
B) My best ATM ever (this was my 3rd year running) – I ran 10 miles at a 6:59 pace!
C) My mom being able to run the whole race – and not stop (It’s a LONG story but my mom had a terrible horse accident less than one month before the race and she wasn’t even sure she would be able to run)!!!
D) A PR for BJ, too!

Awesome things about this race:
1) Location – close to home, the race starts and finishes at the Pentagon
2) Supporting our Troops! I’m an Army Brat, so I have a special place in my heart for the men and women that serve our country! I clapped and thanked every amputee I saw on the run (and after) – they deserve it.
3) Washington D.C. – shit happens here. It’s cool to run 10 miles in and around our Nation’s Capitol!
4) Hundreds of AWESOME volunteers – some civilians, some Military personnel.
5) The ATM is beyond organized – probably one of the best organized races in the U.S.
6) Awesome expo – see 3rd paragraph, above.
7) The after party is so much fun! There are tents everywhere, good food and everyone is having a good time.

Not so awesome things about this race:
1) Very, very crowded. Because this race is so well organized, 30,000 runners just barely works – however, I am NOT happy about the “laissez faire-ness” of the bib numbers and wave starts. There are HUNDREDS of [handsome] military guys working this race – you need to enforce it, fellas.
2) 30,000 runners – YOU ALWAYS NEED MORE PORT-A-JOHNS. Yes, trust me, you do! (I almost missed the start of the race but thankfully a very kind man (who was obeying his later wave start/time) allowed me to cut in front of him – I just barely made it in time.)

Verdict: I love this race for a number of reasons, including my mother/daughter weekend, great weather and another reason to support our troops! I’m 3 years strong – and I hope I can run this for (at least) another 25 years. We will be there in 2010 for round #4!

Overall Score: 9

Inaugural Clarendon Day 10k

Race 3 of 4, in 4 weekends

I have two statements that I can not wait to share:

1) I got 3rd overall (women)
2) I won prize money
YAYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!

Almost 1,500 runners gathered to run the Inaugural Clarendon Day 10k. Since this was my 3rd race, in 3 weekends, I was ready for a no frills, no travel, close to home, easy race. I could not have asked for anything more perfect. The race started at 9am; BJ and I left the place at 8:50am and walked to the start, 2 blocks away. The weather was great: a little overcast with a nice, cool breeze – it was perfect running weather.

BJ and I got to the start (I like to be as close to the start as possible to avoid running around everyone), saw a couple of people we knew and casually chatted to the runners around us. Since this was such a casual race and I had no expectations, I was really able to enjoy myself (sometimes my competitive side gets in the way of me having fun). My only goal: beat my 10k PR time, which was 45:33.

The first mile was flat, fast and downhill. I hit Mile 1 in 6:06. I was running toward the front of the group but felt strong and didn’t want to let up. Since the 5k and 10k races started at the same time and shared the first 2.5 miles, I couldn’t tell which runners were my competition or 5k runners. At the 2.5 mile mark, 5k runners split and 2 women that were in front me went the 5k direction. Okay, cool! At this point, I was not sure where I “stood” among the 10k runners but I knew that I needed to keep running strong and not worry about the runners behind me. Mile 3: 19:00. Mile 3.5 – Turnaround point: I’M IN THIRD!! Now, I definitely felt strong! I did see one girl, who I “know” from the local running community, that might have been able to catch me – and I did not want that to happen. Must.Run.Faster! As I was running back I saw BJ – he was so excited to see me and yelled: “I think you are in third – get it Mel”. I yelled back: “I am…!!!” (now, that’s a good feeling!!!) I hit Mile 5 and for the first time the entire race I thought, I’m tired – but I knew I was so close to the finish that I could push through any pain that I felt. Mile 5.5 – back in the game. Less than 1 mile to go – and still in 3rd – I picked up the pace, and sprinted it in.

Finish Line: 3rd place!!!! (WaHoo!!)

Ok, so I never win anything – I’m always right on the verge – and always 4th. But I got 3rd! Overall! And I CAN NOT believe it!

BJ was so proud of me – and it was just really fun to have my favorite running partner cheering me on when I got my 3rd place prize money!

Overall
: 37/884
Women: 3/ I can’t figure out how many women ran the race but I promise it was more than 3!
Time: 41:37 (6:42 pace and new PR!!)

Verdict:
This was a great inaugural race – and really well organized. I love Pacers – it’s a family (of runners) owned business and they put on great races (plus, it’s where I met BJ)!! The volunteers were great, the after party was fun and the rain just held off. My only suggestion would be more water – but that’s only because I always think there can be more!

I’ll be there next year, I have to try to defend my title. ha!

Score: 9.5

SavageMan Triathlon 2009

Race 2 of 4, in 4 weekendsSavage – barbarous: (of persons or their actions) able or disposed to inflict pain or suffering; ie: cruel tortures; fierce, ferocious, or cruel Man – the human individual as representing the species

Are You Savage Enough?

BJ and I end our triathlon season with SavageMan – pretty much the hardest triathlon in triathlon history. While it is, hands down, the hardest race of the season, it is also the most fun!

If the name alone doesn’t scare you, just wait until climb the first huge hill….less than 0.5 miles into the bike. It’s uphill from there. Literally.

I had 2 goals for the race:
A) Beat my time from last year (2008: 3:06:06)
B) Finish under 3 hours

I knew that #1 would be easy – all I needed to do was shave a few seconds off of my transition times. I was skeptical about #2 – the course is brutal and I had less than 1 week to recover from The Nation’s Triathlon.

Rematch: SavageMan 2009 vs. SavageMan 2008

Here we go:

SavageMan takes place at the Deep Creek Lake State Park in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains in Western Maryland (yes, mountains!). Deep Creek Lake is so beautiful – the lake is crystal clear, the leaves are changing colors and the weather in September is perfect for a race. It’s hard not to look around and enjoy the sights, even while grinding it up a mountain and cursing Kyle Yost, the course architect, for creating a race that brutal! Simply put: it’s the perfect place for the hardest race.

Pre- Race: Race day morning was a little chilly but warmer than last year so I knew that by my 9:30am start, I would be fine (no long sleeves for me). BJ competes in the Half-Ironman distance and starts 1 hour before me, so I was there extra early (compared to the other Olympic distance triathletes). I had the place to myself – and set up a pretty legit transition area. Transition closed 15 minutes before race start, so I was able to go-in-and-out accordingly. I love how laid back it is.

Start: 9:30am – All Females (excluding Elite)

Swim
: The water temperature was 69 degrees and wetsuits were “strongly encouraged”. The water still felt cold even with my full body wetsuit so I can’t imagine what it felt like without one! Once I was comfortable in the water, I positioned myself front and center. I felt really strong in the water (that doesn’t happen very often) and was totally rocking the navigation! The lake is great – the water is clear and you can actually see the bottom. My friends cringe at the thought of me swimming in the Potomac River [for Nation’s Tri], so there is something surprisingly refreshing about being able to see the bottom for a mile. For once, I enjoyed the swim (shhh, don’t tell anyone). Fastest swim of the season – Time: 28:39!!! (YAYYYYY!!!)

T1
: Long, slight up hill run to T1 (but way easier than last year). I had a hard time getting my wetsuit off – I really need to figure out a better strategy for getting that sucker off. Time: 2:28 (#2 fastest T1 time)

Bike: The bike starts off with a hill – and it only gets worse from there! Let’s just say I didn’t plan on setting any records on the bike. The hills are long and hard only to be followed by an extremely curvy downhill, a sharp right [or left] turn at the bottom and immediately back up a hill mountain. It. is. hard. I couldn’t wait to be off the bike. Time: 1:27:25

T2: I slipped when I tried to rack my back and it scared me a little – but I was in and out – and ready to run. Time: 1:11 (#2 fastest T2 time)

Run: The run course is hard, especially after biking through the Alleghany Mountains – but I’m a runner and I know that this is my strongest part of the tri. The course is completely shaded and perfect for running. No one passed me on the run – instead, I passed people like crazy (I love that feeling). I felt really strong and was on course to run a major PR! Must. keep. pushing. through. pain. and. up hills. With about 600m to go, I sprinted to the finish – and the announcer said, “MP from Arlington, VA – that’s the biggest and prettiest smile I’ve ever seen”. Duh, Mr. Announcer – I just shattered my time from last year!! Time: 51:40 (8:19 pace).

Overall Time: 2:51:21 (15 minute improvement)

Overall: 43/230
Division Place: 10/87
Age Group Place: 4/14 (missed 3rd place by 14 seconds!)
Swim: 28:39
T1: 2:28
Bike: 1:27:25
T2: 1:11
Run: 51:40

Awesome things about this race, besides EVERYTHING:

1) The venue is amazing – unparallel to any place we race all season.
2) Everyone is having a good time. No jerks, no super serious (Type A) triathletes. Even the pros are friendly. (Bjorn Anderson apologized after the race for not saying “thanks” when I said “good job” to him; he was really suffering on the run)
3) Awesome volunteers (!!)
4) PLENTY of water stations
5) Really well organized – the race director is genuinely concerned about the safety of the athletes; the bike course is clearly and very well marked
6) A PR for me and BJ!!! BJ beat his 2008 Half-Ironman time by 45 minutes.

Not so awesome things:

I, seriously, can not think of one thing I would change about this race!

Verdict: This race is awesome and probably my favorite of the season. The weather is perfect this time of year and everyone is having a good time. I made new friends, chatted with the race director, got to see BJ a number of times throughout the run portion and cheered everyone on. It’s like an unwritten rule but everyone says “good job” to everyone, even if you are passing them. I think that’s cool – and totally reflects the vibe of this race. I’m sad that SavageMan is our last triathlon of the season – but that just makes me want the 2010 season to start already!

Overall
: 10 – can’t wait for 2010!!!!

P.S. In true Half-Ironman training (my 1st is in June 2010) I ran the first 6.5 miles with BJ. It hurt! Like Hell!

The Nation’s Triathlon

Race 1 of 4, in 4 weekends The 2008 Nation’s Triathlon was my very first triathlon ever. One year later, I’m hooked and actually say “yes” when someone asks me if I am a triathlete.

I’ve trained harder, faster and stronger in 2009 than I ever did in 2008.

So, you better believe that 2009 wanted to kick 2008’s @$$!

Rematch: The Nation’s Triathlon 2009.

Since said training, I was really hoping for my best race of the year – namely a PR and a couple of margaritas. Unfortunately the race didn’t go quite as well as I would have liked…

6,000 athletes registered for The Nation’s Triathlon – doubling the size in one year. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that many athletes – but I’m leaning toward “I don’t like it”. The transition area was huge – 240,000 square feet to be exact. So big in fact that the “Bike In – Bike Out” was at least 800m from my transition area. Yes, that’s 2 laps around a track or half a mile. The swim waves were equally as huge – each age group was a wave within a wave. For example, the F25-29 age group (the AG I fall under) had 3 waves, A, B and C, with approximately 120 athletes per wave. Bottom line: too many people!

Pre – Race:
The best part about doing a race so close to come is the convenience of race morning. We woke up at 5:00am, hopped in the cab at 5:45am and we were in transition by 6:00am. BJ and I love races that are close to home – especially triathlons because typically, they aren’t close to home! Race day weather was awesome – almost perfect for a race: partly sunny and a high of 81. It was just starting to get hot when I finished the race. Race Start: 7:00am
Wave 20: 8:00am

Swim: The swim waves were approximately 3 minutes apart. I was in the 3rd to last wave – so there were already a lot of swimmers in the water when our wave jumped in. I positioned myself in a great location for swimming straight out, under the bridge and back. I felt really strong on the way out – passing other waves that had started before me. But, the way back was a bit of a different story. At one point the Potomac looked like a rainbow river: red caps, pinks caps, green caps, yellow caps, blue caps and white caps e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. Too many swimmers! My other beef with the swim (and I complained about it last year, too) is the fact that the sun is coming out at the same exact time that we are swimming back. Bright, rising sun + bright yellow buoys = can not see anything! Now, I know that I’m not the only triathlete affected – it jacks us all up – but C-O-M-E O-N! [If any Nation’s Triathlon officials are reading, here are a few tips: more buoys, different colors!] I was literally swimming blindly for the last ½ mile. The last ¼ mile is a cluster of madness: people swimming on top of people swimming on top of people swimming on top of more people. I was glad to be out of the water! Time: 33:29

T1: I felt good coming out of the water – but had a little difficulty getting my wetsuit off in T1. It was pretty uneventful – but had to prep myself for the longest run to “Bike Out” e-v-e-r. Time: 2:18

Bike
: Initially I did not feel strong on the bike. Since we live so close to the race, BJ wanted to bike into DC the day before to attend the mandatory briefing and bike racking. Logistically, we ended up biking and walking way more than we should have the day before a race. Oh well, now we know future race day endeavors. The course is flat and fast so by mile 5 my legs started to feel better and I was in a good grove. Then, mile 10 happened – and I lost my chain while attempting to shift to the big ring. (Of course I did) I slowed down, tried to pedal slowly and shift, in hopes that my chain would work its way back on. No luck. I pulled over to the side, got off, played around with the chain, accidently dropped my bike, had to pick it back up, played around with the chain some more and finally, got my chain back on. That was a 2.5 minute penalty. I felt like crying once I was back on the bike – and mentally it took me awhile to recover. For half a second I thought about quitting since the chain cost me a PR – but I wanted to get my $165 worth (plus, I don’t quit)! My attitude improved at the turn around point and I was fired up – I wanted to crank it out on the bike – 10 more miles to go.

Well, by the time I hit the turn around point, it seemed the other 5,999 athletes did too. Some points on the Rock Creek Parkway are narrow, one lane each way. You can imagine how crowded that can get with thousands of athletes on the course. Then, when you throw the typical M40-44 “I’m-too-cool-for-school-triathlete-because-I-ride-a-Cervelo-tri-bike” jerk into the mix, things get dicey. For full disclosure, I do not think that all M40-44 are jerks nor do they all ride Cervelo tri bikes – however, this is their last “hoorah” as strong, male athletes and I personally believe that some of them are they are trying to prove their awesomeness – or lack there of. Case in point: I was riding behind a F34 athlete and we were in the process of passing a fellow athlete. As we were passing, we started to hear: “On your left, on your left, on your left, ON YOUR LEFT!!!!” We didn’t have anywhere to go – nor were we in the wrong since we were passing before this “cool” tri-guy (age 43 – he was being followed by another guy, age 41) decided to pass us. WELL, as we got over, the “cool” tri-guy pushed the girl in front of me on her hip – as his way of saying we should have gotten over sooner. I was furious – and shouted profanities that are not appropriate for this blog. If he would have done that to me and/or I would have gotten his number “cool” tri-guy would have gotten reported. Here are my thoughts and what I would like to say to “cool” tri guy:

A) WTF – and who the F do you think you are!!!
B) Do you know how dangerous that is? That could have caused a MAJOR accident!
C) There are 6,000 athletes doing the race – what do you expect?
D) The road is extremely narrow – where do you want us to go?

This continued for the last 10 miles – and at one point I just stopped getting over for them! I didn’t have anywhere else to go! Plus I was doing my own weaving in and out of athletes – and I was getting tired.

Oh, and one last point: you know that there are too many triathletes in a race when everyone you pass or get passed by is drafting! Too many bikers! Time: 1:18

T2
: Prepped myself for the long run back to my transition area. Bike shoes off – running shoes on – and out of T2. I felt strong and knew that the run would be flat! Time: 1:47

Run: The run course was super flat and fast. BJ and I ran the course the week before – and I’m glad we did because I knew exactly what to expect. Unfortunately, my calves cramped for the 1st 3 miles so I stopped to stretch them out. I’m glad I did because the last 3 miles seemed easier. Surprisingly (and thankfully), the run was over before I knew it! 400m out, I sprinted to the finish and was glad to be done!! Fastest run of the season – Time: 49:00 minutes (7:55/mile)!

Awesome things about the race:

1) Home Turf (!!!)
2) Insane weather
3) Super flat and fast course
4) Really well organized (especially given the number of athletes)
5) Awesome volunteers (!!!!)
6) Plenty of aid stations
7) 6 bikes/rack (as opposed to 8 bikes/rack in most races)

You need to fix some things, Mr. Nation’s Triathlon Founder:

1) TOO MANY ATHLETES – stop being money hungry, it’s dangerous.
2) 6,000 athletes = Yes, you still need more port-a-johns!
3) Buoys, water, sun – they all look the same. I’m talking orange buoys and more of them!
4) Post race festival: there were PBJ’s and fruit for free – but then there was food you had to pay for (the good stuff – like Skittles). I DO NOT WANT TO PAY FOR FOOD – I just spent $165 to do the race (that’s $990,000 total) and if I want Skittles, I should get them. For free.

Ok, now on to the Rematch results:

2009
Overall Place: 1153/4500
Division Place: 37/353
Sex Place: 143/1459
Swim: 33:29
T1: 2:18
Bike: 1:18
T2: 1:47
Run: 49:00
Total: 2:44

2008
Overall Place: 949/2200
Division Place: 47/233
Sex Place: 181/956
Swim: 35:45
T1: 3:46
Bike: 1:20
T2: 2:28
Run: 54:39
Total: 2:57

Congrats – 2009 is declared the winner of The Nation’s Triathlon rematch!

Verdict:
This is a great race because it’s close to home, flat and fast. But honestly, I’m not sure if I will do this race in 2010 – and I haven’t said that about any race this season. I hate to keep saying it, but 6,000 athletes is just TOO many (ask someone who did Chicago this year, too – they will say the same thing). I have 75 days before the 2010 sign-up: I’ve got to do some serious thinking!

P.S. I’d be lying if I didn’t disclose that my falling short of a PR didn’t influence this verdict, just a little. I’m bummed about my chain and upset that I couldn’t crank out a PR when I was more ready than I’ve ever been!

Score: 7.75

New Jersey State Triathlon

Four words: I ROCKED THE TRI! I had my best race ever and finished 18 minutes before my best time last year! Yay – a new PR (and a margarita)! Now, on to the race review:

The New Jersey State Triathlon was awesome. Mercer County Park is no-joke-legit – and a great place to have a race. I live in an urban jungle and while I see trees and grass and the sun, I have not seen a park like MCP in a very long time. There’s grass. Like, lots of it. And an awesome lake, an awesome playground for kids, tennis courts, a skating rink, a dog park, running and biking trails. I could go on but you get the point: MCP is nice.

Awesome thing #1 about the race: the location.

We arrived on Saturday, just in time to catch Uberman – “The world’s fasted triathlon”. 20 elite men and women race the fastest course ever – 200 yard swim, 4 mile bike and a 1 mile run. It’s over in, like, 17 minutes! It was cool to watch these athletes just totally grind it out. We stayed for the race briefing (not mandatory), checked out the swim course (I asked the race director if it was an Ironman-distance swim because it looked about 10 miles long!) and figured out where our bikes would go. I remember a time when I was annoyed that we had to rack our bikes the night before but now I really look forward to it (it makes race day so much easier). Unfortunately, we couldn’t rack our bike the night before. And while there were signs indicating the area where our bikes would rack, it was a free-for-all from there. Approximately 45 bikes per row of numbers had to find a way to fit while still trying to be in an ideal location. Fortunately for me and my crew, we showed up early and I got a great spot – but then there was the girl who showed up about 2 minutes before transition closed and asked people to move their bikes so she could fit on the first rack and not have to go to the end. It’s a good thing she didn’t ask me because I would have laughed in her face – too bad the girl next to me was a sucker!

5 am wake-up call on race day. We woke up to the sound of rain. We were all a little bummed because every race we have done this season has been in rain. Mentally, I think we were drained and couldn’t fathom another race in dagger conditions. But (thank you, God!) the rain stopped about 5 minutes before we left our sweet penthouse suite. The sky looked promising so our spirits improved.

We got to transition around 6 am and set up our gear. My transition looked great and I was ready to rock some awesome T times! Transition closed at 7:20am – and we had awhile before our start times, so we ate an awesome peanut-butter-on-wheat-bread-with-bananas breakfast and did some yoga.

Crew Start Times:
8:50am – BJ
9:10am – MP
9:20am – JJ

Swim: Wave 20: Women 25-29. First time in years that the race was a wetsuit legal race (thanks rain!). I rocked my wetsuit because I love the little extra buoyancy that it provides. The swim course was really well marked with buoys everywhere and plenty of kayakers. I felt pretty good in the water – but not my fastest swim. (I really need to join a Master’s swim team) Time: 33:08

T1: Thanks to a new little trick I’ve been testing with my wetsuit – it was easier than ever to get off. I also wore my race top under my wetsuit so I didn’t have to put on a shirt. I quickly dried my feet, socks on, bike shoes on, sunglasses on, helmet on. After my last race, when I had to fix my hair in transition because my helmet wouldn’t fit, I tested out a new hairstyle, too. It worked like a charm. Time: 2:06

Bike: I love my bike but it has been giving me some issues lately – it made a funny noise the whole time – and I just prayed that nothing bad would happen (like at The Columbia Triathlon). At one point, my chain did come off (ughhh) – but after TCT, BJ told me to back pedal if it ever happened again – and that’s exactly what I did. I back pedaled and the chain went back on. I didn’t have to get off the bike (thankfully) but it was still a 30-45 second ordeal. Fortunately, the bike course was flat and fast. I told myself that I needed to average 19-20 mph to “get a good time” – so I really powered through on the bike. I felt strong and the conditions were close to ideal – some strong wind at times but nothing detrimental. It was my fastest bike ever (at first BJ didn’t believe that my average mph was that fast!) Time: 1:11.29

T2: Let’s just say: I love my bungee laces! I took my bike shoes off and slipped on my running shoes. It was that simple! It took me a minute to get my visor on but once it was tight, I was off. Race belt in hand, I ran out of T2, feeling good! Time: 1:09 (62 second improvement)

Run: By the time I started running, it was a little before 11am and it was hot! Thankfully, the run was sometimes shaded because running on the black asphalt was painful. The course had 8 water stations (awesome!!) and cooling rags at 2 stations (even more awesome!!)! The course was nice and flat – 3.1 miles out and back, run by transition and another 3.1 miles out and back (picture a figure 8). I felt strong on the run. I mean, don’t get me wrong, my legs were tired but I was feeling good and passing people. Until mile 3… The run by transition runs by a water station with Heed (the worst drink in America) – and a volunteer accidently marketed Heed as water! It’s easy to confuse the two because Heed is clear like water BUT it does not taste like water. It tastes like the worst drink in America. I took a “water” and after one big gulp realized that I had just made a huge mistake! I have a very sensitive stomach. I can not take any type of gel or electrolyte drink or eat anything, I mean a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g, within 1.5-2 hours of running. I kept running, wishing, hoping and praying that I would be fine. Unfortunately, I wasn’t. I had to run and walk the last 2 miles due to a bad case of throwing up. It was not fun – and I was mad! My run was still a run PR – but I know that it could have been better. Moral of the story: NO Heed for me (angry post to come). Time: 51:50

Swim: 33:08
T1: 2:06
Bike: 1:11.29 (improvement)
T2: 1:09 (improvement)
Run: 51:50 (improvement)
Total: 2:39.39

Age Group: 10/46
Female: 56/295
Overall: 255/743

Awesome things about the race:
1) Location – MCP was awesome
2) Race Support – volunteers everywhere!
3) PLENTY of water stations (!!!) and cooling rags
4) Post-Race Event (food, including pasta and soft pretzels and drinks, including water, coke, beer)

Not-so-awesome things about the race:
1) HEED (worst thing in America – and I’m not the only athlete that hates it)
2) Transition area/bike racking free-for-all

Verdict: This was an awesome race and I can not wait to do it again next year. The volunteers were great and really helpful! I had an awesome race – my only wish is that the Heed episode would have been a bad dream instead of a reality.

Overall Score: 9

2 races – 1 weekend (yes, I’m crazy!)

I know I’m a little running crazy but this past weekend takes 1st prize in all-time-running-craziness: I did 2 races in 1 weekend! On Saturday, I ran a 10k and on Sunday I did an (enhanced) Sprint triathlon. Best of all, I rocked them both and felt awesome (physically)!

10k Stats
Time: 45:33 (7:19 pace)
Overall: 54/689
Age Group: 5/78

(Enhanced) Sprint Triathlon Stats
Time: 1:28:23
Overall (women): 8/53
Age Group: 2/53 (I got a medal!!)

Now, on to the race reviews – but before I start, let me preface with this: “Rain, Rain go away! DON’T come again another day.” I did both races in pouring rain (2nd weekend in a row) and I have had it with the rain. It’s ruining my life – and my brand-new bike computer.

RACE 1: Waterfront Festival Road Race 10K/5K(Alexandria, VA)

BJ and I love races that are close to home and require little effort – it makes the unusually early morning seem not-so-bad. So, it should come as no surprise that we signed up for the Waterfront Festival 10k in Alexandria. I like 10k’s – it’s a great distance and just long enough to feel like you got a great workout. Plus, it’s the run distance of an Olympic triathlon, of which I am signed up for 5 this season, so I could use some practice.

Reasons why this race was awesome:
1. Close to home
2. Plenty of parking (3 huge parking lots within 100 yards of the start) and a metro stop (Eisenhower)
3. AMC Theater!!! Race day registration and packet pick-up were held at the AMC theater – which means that the runners had access to AMC theater, which means that there were lots of nice, clean bathrooms that we could use, which means that we didn’t have to use a port-a-potty, which means…well, you get the point. Since I have the most nervous bladder on the planet (BJ calls me “NB” on race day) and constantly have to go to the bathroom, it was soooo nice to use a clean bathroom for once!
4. Nice course and pretty flat – minus the huge hill right at the end. Just the right amount of volunteers and plenty of race/mile markers and guidance.
5. Small race, low maintenance, no frills, easy and inexpensive ($35 entry fee).

Could use some work:
1. Not enough water stops (I don’t let anyone get away with not enough water). If this would have been a typical June morning, 3 water stops would’ve been 110% unacceptable. Because of global warming and the so-much-rain-I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-myself rain, it was just barely acceptable.
2. Not enough post-race food. I was the 54th person to cross the finish line, so there were a few bananas and oranges left for me. But what about the 154th person or the 654th person – they got NOTHING, which isn’t really fair! All BJ wanted was an orange…
3. I could have done without the race t-shirt…or at least a better design. Plus, who wears 90’s cotton anymore [for a race]?! I found a local race with a brilliant idea: $5 off the race entry fee if you don’t want the t-shirt. Yes, I will! Since the proceeds of this race went to the American Red Cross offer me $1 off – I’d be happy with that!

Since this was my first 10k in a veeerrrryyyy long time (outside of a tri) I really wanted to see how fast I could run. I’ve been running a lot more recently and adding more track workouts into the mix – so I was eager to test it out. Even from the beginning of the race I felt really strong. The last half of the race, I ran side by side this guy who really pushed me. It was great motivation because I didn’t want him to beat me (and he didn’t!!). The last hill of the race was right before the finish line and it was painful to run up but once I was over, it was downhill to the finish line – and I was really able to sprint it in. If I didn’t have the tri on Sunday I probably could have run a little harder but subconsciously I didn’t want to push it too hard and be exhausted for #2. Overall I’m really happy with my run and 7:19 pace – I’m typically a 7:30 pace, so it was encouraging to know that I can run faster!

Verdict: Great race – low maintenance and easy: two things that I love in a race.
Overall score: 7.5

RACE 2: LAVAMAN Triathlon (Lavallette, NJ)

After the 10k, a nice breakfast, a shower and a quick nap, BJ and I headed to the Jersey Shore to hang with JJ. It’s a long drive and proved even longer due to the torrential downpour the e-n-t-i-r-e drive. (Once again, I’m done with the rain!) I’ve calculated that since I’ve had MNB, it has seen rain just as many times as it has seen the sun. WTF – I don’t live in Seattle or Ireland! But I digress…on to the race review:

JJ’s friend is a new USAT race director and putting on a handful of triathlons this season. I like to call LAVAMAN an enhanced sprint triathlon because it was longer than a sprint but not as long as an Olympic: 0.33 mile Swim, 14 mile Bike and 4 mile run. Just the perfect distance after a 10k run!

About 200 people came out for the race despite the terrible weather. We woke up to rain, set up transition in the rain, swam in the rain, biked in the rain, ran in the rain…. When I finished the race my transition area was a puddle of water – awesome!

But, even with the rain, it was a great race.

Swim: point to point (in the bay), really well marked and patrolled by kayakers and a police boat. The water was surprisingly warm but a little choppy, which I’m not terribly use to, but it was fun to swim in the bay and salt water. Time: 11:08
T1: Slow! I couldn’t get my wetsuit off; my bun was too high for my helmet so I had to re-do my hair; my gear was inside my Zoot bag, trying to stay dry, so I had to fumble around for my bike shoes; I couldn’t get my socks on because of wet feet…. Anyway, it was a dagger time but good learning experience and I have ideas for improvement. Time: 2:24
Bike: very flat 3 loop course but offered some confusion because most athletes (including me) didn’t know we had to repeat the course 3 times. Plus, I couldn’t get my brand-new bike computer to work, so I fumbled with it for the first 5 minutes until giving up, completely frustrated. I was really looking forward to trying it out!
T2: Not bad – left my soaking wet socks on and quickly changed into my running shoes. Time: 1:06
Run: the most glorious run of all runs – completely and utterly flat! I don’t need to say anything else about it! I ran a 7:07 (pace) mile!

Time: 1:28:23

Overall
: It was a great race and great distance – I really pushed myself but didn’t feel completely exhausted. My only complaint was the cost: $90!!!!! I mean, it wasn’t in a major city (ie: Escape from Alcatraz which is $450) and only one road had to be patrolled (and it wasn’t completely shut down) – I really can’t see the $90.00 justification. Good thing JJ’s friend was running the race or else I would have spent Sunday morning sleeping in and going to church.
Verdict: 9 (it might be a 9.5 if it wasn’t for the rain)
————————————————————————————————–
I had an awesome weekend! I felt like I really pushed myself and was super happy with both performances!

I kind of feel like a badass!