Pat and I ran the UW Running Club Valentine’s 5K last weekend. It is put on by the local university running club, and even though it’s an off season race, some of the fastest people in Madison turn out to run it. The bad weather definitely selects for a more hardcore group of runners! It was a little icy and a little windy, but I’ll take those conditions over Wisconsin’s humid and hot summer weather any day.
The race is set up as a team competition. Neither of us had our best race, but we still managed to take 8th place out of 54 teams. The fastest couple ran 17:51 and 16:05 races! That is so fast.
The price was right for the race – it cost only $8 for the two of us to get out their and check our off-season fitness. Time to get things in gear to be ready to race in May!
My last weekend in Wisconsin, Pat and I headed down to Chicago for the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. I have to admit, I almost didn’t run it. I was originally really excited for the race and started training for it in February. However, since May it has been unreasonably unseasonably warm in the Midwest. Temps in the 90′s to 100′s every day = not ideal training weather.
Despite my reservations, I decided to run. I admit, I may have been a little last minute about this. We got the the race expo to pick up my packet just as they were tearing things down, literally with minutes to spare.
The race started early, at 6:30am, but it was still muggy. This was by far the biggest race I’ve ever done – around 20,000 people participated. Luckily, my predicted start time put me in the second corral, so I only started a minute back from the elite wave. It was nice to start the race and not have to worry about trying to pass huge crowds of people.
The race itself was a ton of fun! There were bands at every mile and there was a lot of crowd participation. Everything from cheerleaders to little kids holding signs to friendly neighbors with a very welcome garden hose. Pat ran around the race course, so I was able to see him three times during the race. He later told me that he estimated that he ran six miles!
The biggest problem with the half was, well, the running thing. For some strange reason, the course didn’t have mile markers, so it was hard to tell what my exact pace was. Finally at the 10K mark, there was a clock. When I saw how long it had taken me to run a 10K, and that I was less than halfway done, I wanted to sit right down on the curb and call it all off. It was pretty frustrating to work so hard leading up to a race only to have my training derailed by global warming the weather!
I soldiered on and finished the race. It was really nice that the last section went along the lake. It was so pretty I almost forgot that I was suffering! I wasn’t very happy with my time, 1:44, which is just under 8 minute miles. My “safe” goal time was at least 5 minutes faster and my “dream” goal time was 10 minutes faster. Whomp, whomp. At least I met my goal of finishing in the top 10% of all female participants!
All that hard work and all I had to show for it was some blood blisters and a participation medal:
The best part of the race was being able to proudly wear the jersey of my favorite running brand and sponsor – Brooks. Every time I run I am thankful that they have supported me through the ups and downs of the last three years. Even if I didn’t have personal ties with the company, I would only run in their products. I really can’t get enough of anything they make, but if I had to pick two favorites it would be the Pure Project Pure Connect Shoes and the Infiniti Shorts.
I originally started this blog as a way to keep a record of my races and workouts when I was neck deep in the triathlon and cycling scene four years ago. Loyal readers (Hi Dad!) may even remember when I had a race calendar and training plans posted on the site. The combination of med school and overtraining injuries sidelined me for the last two years, but I’ve been getting back into running in the past few months. This time, I’ve added mileage gradually and really focused on listening to my body. To really kick my butt into gear, I accepted an entry to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon in July. Now that I have a reason to train – not embarrassing myself in front of my Brooks ID colleagues and friends – I’ve kicked my mileage up to about 35 miles a week. This is far more running in a week than I ever did when training for cycling or triathlons. So far the results are paying off. I feel fitter than I ever have.
As a “tune up” I signed up for the Follow the Child 5K put on by the Madison Montessori School District. I wanted the pressure of a race situation and the race fit my schedule. Needless to say, the event today was very low-key. There were no mile markers, no timing chips and no…. Regardless, I felt enough pressure to push myself so the mission was accomplished. Timing wise, I was close to a 5K PR, but the 90 degree heat made the race much slower than I had hoped. It was definitely a suffer fest!
I did manage to get first place overall (med and women) in the race. It was a family-focused run, but it still felt great to cross the finish line first in my nightlife yellow Brooks ID kit!
I will forever remember Tri-ing for Children’s as the race I got lost in transition.
But I get ahead of myself!
Saturday Pat and I drove to Ottawa Lake Campground in Kettle Moraine State Park. On the way there we caught an amazing sunset:
It was pretty late by the time we arrived, so we set up camp and hit the sack. Morning came all too early when the alarm went off at 5:00am. This whole triathlon stuff starts way too early! Luckily Pat was on coffee duty:
Setting up transition went much smoother this weekend and I was able to make enough time to actually get a swim warm up this time.
I initially thought the swim was 750m (traditional sprint distance) but right before the start I learned it was actually 400m! Oops! Good thing I had time to get the wetsuit off! 400m is too short to make a wetsuit worth it.
The swim went fairly smoothly. Halfway through I got stuck behind a couple of girls taking their sweet time but I figured it wasn’t worth the energy trying to pass them for the last 150m. I still finished with a faster than last weekend with a 1:52 pace.
Off to transition! This is where is happened – I could not find my bike. I went to my rack and – nothing! I started searching every rack and had no luck. I was about to ask a volunteer if it had been moved for being racked improperly when I noticed a key detail – there was another section. I had somehow failed to notice this key fact when setting up – back to that whole triathlons being too early thing.
I quickly ran to my appropriate section. Despite the fact that this ordeal felt like it took five minutes, my chip time read TI 1:38!
After a few issues getting my feet in my shoes after my bike mount I was off for a speedy bike split. I felt like I was flying. I passed person after person as if they were standing still!
T2: Uneventful, 1:09.
Run: The first mile I wasn’t sure I would finish. But it’s my last race to the season so stuck with it and limped in with the slowest 5K I’ve run since my first one two years ago. Good thing I have some much needed rest time coming up!
I finished 1st in my age group and 8th female overall but my time was 6 minutes slower than last year. It’s definitely been a long and frustrating season.
I’m so lucky to have been a part of the Geargrinder team this year. I just wish I would have been able to race as much as I had planned! Thanks so much to all my teammates and to John White, our fearless leader!
During the race, Pat enjoyed nature and cheered for me as I ran past him between events – triathlon definitely isn’t the best spectator sport!
It was great to hang around after the race and spend some time at Ottawa Lake. Yay camping!
I’ve been struggling with an IT Band issue since Collegiate Nationals in April, so I haven’t been able to train the way I’ve hoped this summer. To put in in perspective, in a good week, my legs will allow me 10 miles of running, no more than 3 a day. I thought last summer’s shin splints were frustrating, but this is definitely 100x worse.
I decided to compete in the Evergreen Lake Triathlon last weekend because it is outside of Chicago and I had plans to spend the weekend in the city. I’ve heard good things about the race and the entry fee is very reasonable ($40 for college students).
I signed up for the sprint because I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to do the run at all. The Evergreen Lake sprint distance is a bit unique though: it has a 500m swim, a full international distance 40K bike and a 5K run. I figured since biking is my strongest event, the longer bike would favor me.
I drove down to Evergreen Lake on Friday night and stayed in the “primitive triathlon camping area” with my teammate, Kelley Hess. Basically, for $13, you could put up a tent anywhere you wanted in a field about 100 feet from transition. It was a great idea and nice for people like me who are on a budget.
There were only 50 women in the sprint division, so the entire group of us started in one wave. I definitely struggled in the open water swim. I tried to start near the front, but somehow still ended up trying to fight my way past people who were slower than me. I got knocked around pretty hard by another racer which resulted in some lost time. The second half was better, but the swim was over before I could find any rhythm. 2:00/100m pace. Yikes.
Transition went smoothly, my time was 1:30, which seems slow, but the sprint racks were the furthest away from the exit so I think only 2 or 3 people had faster times than I did. I also did my first flying mount of the year – bonus!
It was scorching hot by the time I was on the bike but I quickly found a rhythm and passed at least 100 people (from my wave and others) on the bike section. A couple of guys with fancy equipment looked at me with disbelief as I passed them, which just spurred me on even more. I averaged 22.2 miles/hr according to official race results but the course was a bit long and my Garmin read 22.6. Good enough for the 2nd fastest female bike split of the day!
T2 was also 1:30 due to having to wheel the bike all the way back to the furthest rack, but still well within the range of my competitors.
I wasn’t sure what my legs were capable of on the run so I started slowly, just hoping my leg wouldn’t start to hurt. If the IT band flared up I’d have no choice but to walk, something that would make the 5K seem like eternity. I started out with a 9:00/mile pace but as I hit the turnaround point I realized I was feeling pretty good. By the end I cruised in at around a 7:20/mile pace. Overall average was 8:22/mile pace which I’m happy with considering I was worried about walking/DNF!
I ended up finishing in 1hr 50 min which was 1st in my age group and 5th female overall! It was a fun race with great post race food (cheese curds, sandwiches, watermelon, BBQ and cookies!) and I highly recommend this event to everyone. It is one of the few reasonably priced triathlons that still attract high profile competition. Plus, the Olympic division offers prize money!
Congrats also to my teammates, Jack Dudley who won the sprint and had the fastest bike split of the day and Kelley Hess who placed second in the Collegiate Division (7th overall).
I’ve been putting this post off much longer than I should mostly because I felt I needed a few days to get into a more positive mindset before writing. I’m not sure it worked…
Collegiate Nationals. Where to begin?
I’ve already written about the conditions leading up to the race: flood warnings, standing water on the course, cold, wind, etc.
Luckily, it stopped raining the night before the race. For the most part, the water receded off the course. However, it was still cold, with highs in the low 50′s and windy (30 mph winds) the morning of the race.
USAT announced that the swim course would be shortened to 500m due to cold air temps, which is probably the best thing that could have happened to me short of the entire race being canceled. I haven’t made it to the pool much this semester and was concerned about finishing a 1500m swim in below 60 degree water.
Swim: I was in the 6th swim wave, going off at 9:25. I was expecting to be one of the slower swimmers in the race so I started towards the back of the group. This was definitely a mistake as I spent the majority of the very short swim trying to swim around a bunch of girls floundering around in the water. It was impossible to get into any sort of rhythm.
T1: I was cold and disoriented by the time I made it to the swim finish. Thank goodness there were volunteers to pull me out of the water. I struggled with my wetsuit; definitely something I’m going to have to re-practice before my next race. I was shivering by the time I got to my spot; I struggled to put on a windbreaker and long fingered gloves. I don’t fare well in cold weather and I knew it would be worth the time to put on a few extra layers. There is a hill immediately outside of transition so no flying mount for this race either. My T1 time was 3:03 – almost long enough to take a power nap!
Bike: This is my strongest event and where I should have put the most time on my competitors. However, 30 mph crosswinds when you weight 115 pounds make maintaining aero position on the bike nearly impossible. The bike portion was not only a struggle to go forward, but also to stay upright. Exhausting and disheartening. My bike split was 1:25:17, the slowest of my career (1:03:00 is my PR).
T2: Despite being cold and disoriented, I managed a flying dismount. Running to my spot, I could tell I didn’t have any feeling in my feet or toes. I stripped off the wind jacket, slipped on my Brooks Launches, strapped on my race belt and was off.
Run: I felt okay for the first mile of the run, until we had to run through a puddle of ankle deep water that covered the entire run course. At that point, wet shoes and clothes combined with cold air really took their toll. I was also pretty psychologically shot by this point as well. It was all I could do to keep going and not walk. I tried to use my usual trick of telling myself that I’d forget the pain after the race but even then I knew that this was one time that the suffering wouldn’t be wiped out by the joy of finishing. As if things weren’t bad enough, the run course was almost 1/2 mile long. Nothing like prolonging the suffering!
This is part of the puddle we had to run through during the race:
I crossed the finish line and was immediately hit with how cold my body temperature was. I started shivering so badly I couldn’t walk. One of the volunteers was nice enough to escort me to the medical tent. There I was layered with warm blankets and my leg muscles were rubbed down in an effort to warm me up. It took nearly 30 minutes in front of a heat fan before my teeth stopped chattering.
I ended up finishing in the top 1/3 of female competitors. 24th female in the grad division. Two of my teammates, Summer and Kelley Hess had very strong performances and we managed to place 9th in the team competition. Most of the teams in front of us were either military, had no true winter to contend with, or were located at altitude.
The male and female winners of the race were both professional triathletes. This is something unique about triathlons and cycling. Having a pro license doesn’t exclude you from competing for amateur titles!
I don’t think I’ll recover psychologically from this race until I do another triathlon. I really have a lot to prove to myself right now and I need to regain a lot of confidence that I lost this weekend. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to compete again.
I have a lot of really big things coming up in the next few weeks: Collegiate Cycling Regionals, Collegiate Cycling Nationals, my 25th birthday (Friday!) and of course my last block of my first year of medical school exams. I can’t wait for summer!