Monday, June 20, 2011

Vancouver Half Marathon, Running with Manager John, and Zumba!

Inaugural Vancouver Marathon

Sunday, July 19 was the first ever Vancouver (Washington) Marathon, and I would say, a complete success, both as a community event and personally. I participated in the Half Marathon as it fit perfectly into my training plan for the October 9 Portland Marathon.

It really was a nice route, weaving through downtown, through the historic Fort Vancouver area to Evergreen Highlands, and back along the Columbia River. We shared this course with the last half of the Marathon course. The full marathon headed first out Mill Plain and Lower River Road to Frenchman's Bar and back, a route Christine and I ran two weekends ago and is really not that pretty of a run, so I was glad the half marathon took the last half of the event.

The course was mostly flat, other than a hill at the halfway mark.

The weather was great, misty rain at the start, overcast and cool throughout, a bit humid, and a touch of sunshine on our backs for the last couple of miles. 

I was really pleased with my run. I decided to go sans headphones again, as I seem to be running quite a bit faster without them, setting my own pace. I started out great with sub 9:30 minute miles for the first half, but slowed after the hill at the halfway point. No shin splint twang like I had at the Blue Lake tri (I made sure my shoe tongue was properly positioned) but I did have a right side ache the entire run! Another new something, argh! I don't think I hydrated enough the day before. But, I ran though it and ended up with a new Personal Record of 2:13:14 for a 9:58 pace overall! Very excited about that!

Running with Manager John!

Manager John and GAG of the Gag the Manager podcast spent a few days with me this week while they visited the other Vancouver! He was beginning his taper for the Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon June 25th and wanted to know if we could run together while he was here--Absolutely!! He needed to do a 9 mile run, so I took him through Fort Vancouver and along the Columbia River trail. Great weather, high clouds, perfect temperature. We did a 9:58 minute mile pace, chatting up the sights on the way. I'm not used to running with someone, so that was a new experience for me! Thanks John!


Manager John, GAG, Mother Superior, and I went to the most energized Zumba class I've ever attended! The class was led by Steven "MrXinu" Klassen of the GeekFit podcast at the Open House Ministries shelter here in Vancouver,  Washington. This whole event blew my mind! I seem to remember hearing about the GeekFit podcast in passing as another podcaster in the area but had never had a chance to listen to his show or meet MrXinu. Steven has been on a fitness journey, losing an amazing 150 pounds, and is now a licensed Zumba instructor. He has an infectious smile, great energy, and his class was fantastic! Check out his podcast and blog links above.

I am so impressed with Open House Ministries (OHM)! I have lived in Vancouver for 15 years and was shocked to just learn about this shelter and amazing resource. OHM is a shelter for families, providing residential apartments, daycare facilities, and on-site educational programs to transition parents and families from homelessness to independent, functional living. Volunteers with OHM gave us a tour of the facility and their program. Very inspiring and I am very proud of this organization working in my community. OHM has found that exercise programs, such as Zumba, are an important part of growth, confidence, and overall wellness for their residents. The class was full of women and girls of all ages, with amazing energy and spirit. I recommend that you check out their program to learn more. I went back a couple days later to make a donation to the program and would like to see how I can assist them more in the future. Kudos to you, Steven, for your work in our community!

That's it for this week's report. Wishing everyone a super week ahead!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Is that poop or pudding?

So I'm sure you're wondering about the title of this blog! All to be revealed...!

Open Water Swim Clinic

photo by Athlete's Lounge
Athlete's Lounge put on another great clinic last week. Their triathlon pros took us through a two-hour open water training session at Blue Lake Park in Fairview, Oregon, location of several triathlons this summer. We started with warmup laps, and proceeded through the same drills we did in the pool: drafting, contact, sighting, mass start, buoy turning, etc. They also included two new skills that we couldn't do in the pool, "dolphining" at entry and exiting the water.

Dolphining the water entry is an efficient way to give yourself momentum at the start of the swim. Unlike the pool, there is no wall to push off of to get you going. With this technique you run into the water until you are about knee deep, at that point the water around your knees basically trips you while you try to keep running, so you let it and do a very shallow dive with your arms extended like you would with any other dive. You will glide under the water, grab the sand with your hands, tuck your feet at your hands by bending your knees and then push up out of the water into another shallow dive. You can do this as few or as many times as you want until you are ready to start swimming. Note, you need to make sure you keep your head down and arms outstretched during the dive or you'll risk dislodging your goggles...and that doesn't help you be speedy at all! Here is a link about dolphining from HowStuffWorks.

To best exit the water, make sure you increase your kicking the last couple hundred yards so you get the blood circulating in your legs. Most triathletes do minimal kicking during the open water swim to conserve them for the bike and run. Swim until you feel your fingers hitting the bottom but don't get up until you can grab the sand in your hands, this ensures the water is shallow enough not to impede your ability to run in the water (below knee height).

cue music.....
Hahahahahaha Wipeout!

I had two spectacular wipeouts this week, prompting a paramedic from another agency who saw my posts on Facebook to ask if he needed to get me a safety helmet for my swim and run workouts! Normally I wouldn't blog about my wipeouts, for if you know me, I am a supreme klutz and trip, fall, tumble, etc. often, but both of these have teaching points!

The final drill of the Open Water Clinic was exiting the water and running to the transition area while pulling down your wetsuit. The unfortunate thing was that the safety fence was still in place at the swimming area as this was not a closed event like a triathlon, so we were forced to exit up concrete stairs. I don't suggest running up concrete stairs after a long swim while doffing your wetsuit...I caught my right big toe and fell, my arms stuck behind me trying to remove my hands from my inside-out sleeves, landing on my left knee and catching myself on the metal railing with my left upper arm. Ouch! Fortunately I did not break anything, immediately iced and elevated, and kept a compression stocking on my knee for as long as I could tolerate it while sleeping. I still cannot kneel on that kneecap and I have a horrendous black bruise on my arm the diameter of a large grapefruit. But feel very fortunate to not have sustained a season-ending injury.

Later in the week I had the opportunity to go on a trail run on the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park in Portland, Oregon. It is a beautiful park and the Wildwood Trail weaves 30 miles through evergreens and lush forest. I have never done a trail run like this before; I would have considered it a hiking path, bare dirt, roots, rocks, narrow, and switchbacks. We headed out for a 5 mile run. At mile 2, at a bend at the top of a climb (you can see it on the map), I caught my right foot and fell forward. I put my arms out to catch myself but the trail descended at that point, so I ended up sliding down on my belly with my arms stretched out in front of me as if sliding in to home base! No real injuries that time other than some scraped elbows, and it was actually fairly entertaining to me, but unwitnessed by my running partner who was ahead of me.

Despite my tumble, I do think that there is a lot of merit in trail running. This was so different than my normal runs, even what I considered trail runs which are graded gravel. This required more attention to my task, focus on footfall, variation in terrain. And, while there is the risk of ankle injury in just doing it, I do think that it would help build ankle strength. I hope to add more of this to my training to find a protective safety bubble to surround myself in!

Vegan Fitness Nutrition

All the clinics I have been attending recently have been talking a lot about nutrition, however, the information they are sharing are based on animal protein diets and include commercial energy drinks and gels, none of which I use. There are several vegan drinks and gels, but as I have been trying to eat as "clean" as possible (whole foods, largely raw, minimal processed food), and my previous experience of getting sick from Gu Energy Gel during a half-marathon, I really wanted to do some research and find what I could do for my fitness nutrition.

I learned about Brendan Brazier when I first researched triathlon last fall. As a lark, I entered "vegan triathlon" into an internet search and his website came up. Brendan is a professional Ironman triathlete who discovered, through trial and error, that a vegan diet worked best for his performance. His smoothie formula is now produced commercial through the Vega brand and he has written three books about vegan diet and fitness: Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performnace in Sports and Life, Thrive: The Vegan-Based Training Program for Maximum Strength, Health, and Fitness, and The Thrive Diet: Whole Foods to Thrive.

I purchased the first book, Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, because it included many recipes for raw vegan, whole food electrolyte replacement drinks and gels. The book is fascinating, and I will probably devote a whole blog post, at least, to what I've learned from it. I've made several different recipes and am very impressed by them. I particularly like the pudding recipes he has for pre-workout/event Energy and post-workout/event Recovery. They seem to work for me. I also learned that one of the best electrolyte drinks out there is simply Young Coconut Water, which the Brazilian soccer team has used for decades. I am trying several different brands and will let you know which is my preference.

I know this is a quick overview and not a lot of meat to it. I will soon devote a posting to just this topic because there is a wealth of information to share. I will add this helpful little chart from his book on nutritional content for optimal performance based on the level of intensity (thanks, Christine, for the cool Excel chart!) which can be used for both animal or vegan diets.

For more information, you can check out these websites:

Brendan Brazier


Thrive Fitness

Also, Brendan has created a free 30-day online learning program Thrive in 30. The program consists of a daily email with a link for that day's lesson. I am currently on Day 5 and the information has been great, follows the information in the book. I highly recommend it--it pertains to non-vegans as well as vegans. Nutrition is so important, has such an impact on performance, that I think all athletes should spend some time researching and finding what works best for them.

Portland IronGirl Triathlon Canceled!

Much to our shock, Christine and I received notice that Athleta IronGirl Triathlon to be held at Hagg Lake June 26th has been canceled. They are very vague about why other than being faced with putting on an event that did not meet their or the participants' expectations. They are refunding our registration fee and giving us one complimentary event registration for any of their 2011 events anywhere in the nation. So, we are going to do the Athleta IronGirl South Lake Tahoe, California September 18, 2011....which happens to be the day before my 40th birthday!

New Schwag!

The new tri kits (triathlon outfit worn under the wetsuit for the bike and run portion) for the Portland Triathlon came in. I think they look really cool! I haven't done any training in a two-piece kit before, so I will have to do some running and cycling in it before I use it in an event. I really wish they had one-piece kits, because I prefer them.

And, one of my Seattle-to-Portland Bike Ride jerseys arrived, very bright and very cool! I will be getting a special red jersey as I am riding as Medical Support during the event, but that has not arrived yet.

Ok, I think that about does it for today....Oh! Wait, is that poop or pudding?

So after my triathlon, as I've learned from multiple clinics and readings on the importance of eating really good nutrition within 25-45 minutes of finishing your workout, I was enjoying some Recovery Pudding that I had made from Brendan Brazier's book when I saw Trimazing Christine running toward the finish line. I set my pudding down and cheered Christine, and knocked my pudding over onto the biggie. Later, as we were loading the car to go, Mother Superior said, "Oh gosh, I think I stepped in dog poop and I got it all over your floor mat...or maybe that's pudding, I don't know! Smell it!" I was pudding...
So the answer to the question....Pudding!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blue Lake Sprint Triathlon Report

I had my first official event...and it was AWESOME! I had such a great time and, great time! The weather was perfect, slightly overcast and warm, water was warm, and Mother Superior (my mom) came as my support crew and cheerleader.

The Swim - 0:21:18 - 0.5 miles

Mom asked me after the end of the event what my favorite part was, and I answered, "The SWIM!" If you recall from my Mock Tri report last month, I had a rough experience with the swim and it really was only 0.25 miles. Since that time I have worked with adjusting my wetsuit, practiced at Blue Lake and other locations, and have had some individualized triathlon swim coaching and it has made all the difference.

The water was 63 degrees, ten degrees warmer than the weekend before at a practice swim. As I learned from my tri clinics, I donned my wetsuit early and did about 15 minutes of warm-up swimming and practiced my entries and exits. It seemed to take the edge off. I was in the third wave. I positioned outside as far west as I could, halfway back. This gave me a great vector line and set me up for the turn at the first buoy.

When the swim started I dophined my entry and set myself in drafting position behind another swimmer. And then that swimmer stopped swimming and I ran into her. So I swam around her, found another swimmer to draft, and BOOM, she stopped and I ran into her! This happened about four times and then I stopped trying to draft. This is obviously not what the pros experience when they talked about drafting! I made sure to use a consistent stroke tempo, paid attention to my form and stroke timing, sighted occasionally, and made my first buoy turn like I learned from the Athlete's Lounge clinics. There were jet skis out on the course for swim support and my one complaint is that they put out a lot of awful choking exhaust. I would have preferred kayak support, but I continued forward. I did find a swimmer to draft at this point but I noticed she was not sighting well, heading across the lake to the other shore instead of toward the next buoy, and while drafting can often accomodate course corrections, she was heading so severely off course that I had to leave her. After the second buoy some faster swimmers from the men's wave after us caught up, so I drafted when I could, but mostly swam on my own, which went fantastic. I swam all the way in until my hands hit sand before getting up and out. I swam freestyle the whole way, no stopping, no backstroke, face in the water! An altogether different swim than the Mock Tri.

T1 - 00:03:59

The transition area for this triathlon is a looooong way away from the water and is huge (had to accomodate 500 racers, a few more than Mock Tri)! Since I hadn't expended all my energy in poor swimming technique, I was able to run up the exit, peeling off my wetsuit while I ran. I easily found my bike (practiced my approach after setting things up) thanks to my flashing red taillight on my saddle bag carrying my tubes and tube changing kit. (This was a fortuitous mistake, I removed the taillight before the Mock Tri thinking it was unnecessary and excess, but forgot to remove it for this tri and realized after setting up that it would be a great marker to help me quickly locate my bike in the long rack of bikes). I got out of my wetsuit, into my helmet and sunglasses, got my Garmin out of my swim cap and twisted it into the holder on my bike, donned socks and shoes, grabbed a quick gulp of water, and I was run another 0.17 miles with my bike to the mounting area. Total transition distance appears to have been about 0.25 miles!

Bike - 00:43:23 - 12 miles

The run from the transition area to the mounting area was a mother! It's a lot of work to run in bike shoes on uneven grass! The bike itself was pretty uneventful. I tried to stay on the white fog line as much as possible because it was smoother than the pavement! Got passed, passed others. It was mostly flat with one little hill at the underpass for Interstate 205. I sipped water about every 15 minutes.

T2 - 00:02:42

Back to the transition area, running over grass in bike shoes again! A little bit before entering the transition area I saw Mother Superior. As I approached her she and a bunch of other people I didn't recognize started cheering my name and clapping and yelling and jumping up and down--it was FANTASTIC! After the race I asked her who all those people were and she said, "I don't know, I told them I was waiting for my daughter Cindy and they got excited and cheered like crazy with her when I came into view!" What a shot in the arm that was...look at my smile!

Run - 00:30:21 - 5K (3.1 miles)

No foot numbness after the bike this time. I focused on my posture, form, and tempo, everything I learned at the Good Form Running Clinic. My Garmin showed my pace at 9:00 to 9:30 min/miles initially and slowed a bit. I started to feel a shin splint on my left, something I've not experienced before in any of my running. I don't know if I was running differently due to a fall last week or if the tongue of my left shoe being out of center was causing it. I just kept running, though, and took a few fast walking paces at a couple of points to ease it. It wasn't debilitating, just an irritant. Overall pace was 9:46 minute mile, faster than my 10:33 Mock Tri pace!

There I am, crossing the finish line! I felt great! I knew from my Garmin that I had a pretty good event time as I started it about 5 minutes prior to the swim in order to secure it in my swim cap and forgot to stop it until about 30 seconds after the finish due to my excitement.

 My official time: 1:38:43!!!! Un-frickin-believable!

I finished 29/45 in my age group, but here's a little extra...I thought I had registered for the Athena (150 pounds and over) division, but apparently had not. Had I been in that correct division, I would have been in second place and only 45 seconds behind first place! Holy Cow!

Happiness at the Finish Line!
Lessons Learned:
  • Get to the race site as soon as you are allowed. We got there right after 6AM when they opened the park. I know it was really early for my race partner and support crew, but it did a ton to reduce jitters by not being rushed, being able to deal with the unexpected (like accidentally locking the buttons on my Garmin), walk through the approaches and exits for the transition area, do a swim warm-up, etc.
  • Do the swim warm-up! I did, and it really helped mentally. I knew how the water felt, knew my suit was adjusted properly, knew my goggles were adjusted right so they wouldn't slip and fill with water when I did the dolphin entry at the start.
  • Put Garmin from swim cap onto wrist band rather than onto bike mount at T1. I put the Garmin on the bike for the ride and then had to switch it at T2...would be much more efficient to only move it once. It works on my wrist just as well as the bike during the ride.
Mother Superior and Orange Julius
  • Have support crew! Having Mother Superior there was priceless. I've never had support crew or cheering section at any of my other events, really never thought much about asking people to come. What a difference it makes to have someone to assist, stow stuff during the event, take photos, and CHEER YOU ON!! A familiar face is so refreshing and is such a boost! Thank you, mom, for everything you did that day--I love you!
  • Be true to yourself! Ok, so the fault in not being registered in the Athena class is mine. During registration there was a spot for weight and I didn't enter it...typical girl...and I didn't understand why it was needed. Now I know! I will be checking all my other registrations now to make sure I'm in the correct class.

So that's the race report for Blue Lake Sprint Triathlon 2011! I have a ton more pictures posted on Facebook and incorporated some into the new blog banner. My next event will be the Vancouver Half-Marathon Sunday, June 19 and my next triathlon will be the Girlfriends and Dudes Sprint Triathlon July 19 at Frenchman's Bar on the Columbia River in Vancouver, WA. The Iron Girl Triathlon scheduled for June 26 at Hagg Lake was canceled (more on this in the next blog).

I do want to thank everyone who texted, tweeted, facebooked, emailed, and called with their wishes, support, and mojo the days before, during, and after the event! You have no idea how much that meant and how it helped. You all rock!

I missed a posting for last week and I do have a ton to talk about, but I didn't want to clutter my race report or make this post any longer than it was. So stay tuned for "Is that poop or pudding?" coming up!