Wednesday, March 30, 2011

MBW: Race Reports

The Monday Brain Exchange is brought to you by Jill.

This Weeks Question: Do you enjoy writing your race reports? Do you use them later for reference?

I enjoy writing race reports, but sometimes when I race a lot they can seem like a chore or repetitive to me. It's often hard to put into words an amazing experience, but I like to capture what I can remember from each race, what worked, what didn't work, and stats on my performance. 

I reference them often for inspiration and when formulating my strategy for an upcoming race. I like to read then to relive the moment, such as my first half or a PR or first marathon, when I am feeling down or when I haven't raced in a while. If I feel like I'm not making any progress in my running, I look back through all my reports and remind myself how far I've come. This almost always makes me realize the plateau is temporary and not as bad as it seems in my head. To help with that, I put together a spreadsheet so I can easily see at a glance all my race finish times, and their corresponding paces color coded. You can see it under my Racing History Tab.

This blog is mainly for me to document my journey and reflect on it, but I do hope that my race reports  help someone researching an upcoming race or inspire them to train for a new distance. Now I have some questions for you:
  • what do you look for in a race report when researching and upcoming race? 
  • do you follow a format/formula when posting your race reports, or just wing it?
  • what do you always include in every race report you write?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Race Report: Winter Park Road Race 10K

Digging Deep for Final Sprint - Winter Park Road Race 10K
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I ran my 3rd race of 2011 on Saturday, which was my 5th 10K. I finished in 1:06:50 with a new PR by 1:45 from last year's attempt at this same race! Here are the rest of the stats:
  • clock - 1:07:53 
  • chip - 1:06:50 
  • pace - 10:45.4
  • overall - 1466 / 2053 
  • ag - 128 / 210 
  • gender - 711 / 1149
  • splits - 11:32 - 11:10 - 10:56 - 10:53 - 10:05 - 10:25 - 9:05 (.2 in 01:49)
  • intervals - 2/1 until mile 4, then 3/1
The best thing about this race is that the start is within biking distance of my apartment, which makes for a great warm up, and I don't have to deal with parking. Jason and I rode 6 miles to the start after a little detour because Mead Garden wasn't open yet and we had to double back. It was a little cool when we left the house, so I wore windbreaker pants and jacket over my race outfit and was nice and warm by the time we got to the start. I didn't have time for a warm up run, but I walked around a bit to make sure my legs were loose after the bike ride. I found my place at the start line, connected with a few friends, and before I knew it we were off!

The race itself is a bit of a blur to me right now, perhaps because I was digging deep and also because the route is familiar (I run these roads with my training group weekly, and I also did the race last year). The weather was perfect for a PR, and I gave it my all. I wore a short sleeved shirt, a running skirt and knee high socks, and was never too cold or too hot.

The first mile was really crowded and I ran it a bit slower than I planned for my initial goal of 1:05 but I knew that shaving almost 3 minutes was a tall order and that I'd be happy with any kind of PR. I picked up the pace a little after that and was cruising along at 2/1 intervals, walking through the water stops to eat -- I ate a few shot blocks before the start, then 1 more at mile 2 and a gu at mile 4. At some point I started only walking for 30s, jogging slowly for the next 30s and then pushing it for 2 minutes. After mile 4, I switched my intervals to 3/1 and pushed really hard for the last 2 miles.

I kept giving myself pet talks, telling myself to dig deep and push it, and that it would be over soon. It's amazing what a little positive affirmation can do :) When I rounded the corner just before mile 6 and saw the finish line clock under 1:08 (my previous PR was 1:08:35), I realized I could PR even by the clock so I dug deeper. I was so in the zone and pushing hard that I missed Jason entirely at the finish line.

Digging Deep for Final Sprint - Winter Park Road Race 10KJason came along to be my paparazzi and followed my progress on facebook via Runmeter updates. It's great hearing his comments of encouragement throughout the race. I took manual splits with my watch, and I wonder if the mile 6 marker was in the wrong place because I was pushing hard at the end and don't understand how I could have run mile 6 slower than mile 5. This was a great race, and one of the few 10Ks in Orlando. I really like the 10K distance and wish there were more nearby instead of the plethora of 5Ks.

After I crossed the finish line, I found Jason and rehydrated while we watched the rest of the finishers and waited for Shannon to finish her first 10K. She did amazing! By the time I made it over to the post-race food, the smoothies were gone so I grabbed a banana before we got on our bikes for the ride home. The weather was still amazing and we had a nice 5 mile bike ride home. My legs were not as tired on the ride back as I expected; maybe I didn't push hard enough on the run =P After showering and refueling, I took a nap before heading over to meet my new nephew and a going away party. I was a bit sore the next day, but wearing the calf sleeves on Saturday helped a ton. I can't wait to do this race again next year :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Five: Vegetarian Recipes II

Here's another 5 vegetarian dishes that are on our regular rotation. 
  1. Aloo Matar - This is an indian dish made with potatoes and peas in a tomato sauce seasoned with garlic, ginger and indian spices. We've been eating it pretty regularly for a while now, so I'm going to experiment making it with cauliflower instead of potatoes for an even bigger nutritional kick.  
  2. Vegetarian Korma - We had this at a friend's house and this week finally made our own. It was absolutely amazing! You can use the recipe as a guide and add other veggies you like. We skipped the pepper and added cauliflower and chickpeas. We served it over brown rice with some warm naan. 
  3. Chickpea Vegetable Bake - This is a super easy and tasty dish that you can make with any vegetables you have on hand. We've tried it with various potatoes, asparagus, and butternut squash. The only hard part of this dish is all the chopping, which isn't really hard just time consuming. I love the subtle flavors and usually add spices like thyme or rosemary and just a touch salt and pepper. 
  4. Sweet Potato, Corn & Black Bean Hash - This is another super easy recipe that only requires a little chopping of the sweet potato. 
  5. Orzo and Black Beans - I love the subtle flavors in this pasta dish and how quick it is to prepare. I usually use a frozen vegetable mix of corn, peas, carrots, and green beans. I reduce the amount of butter to just enough to add some flavor (usually 1 Tbsp) and substitute chick peas instead of black beans for a smoother flavor. It makes the other veggies shine even mo
BONUSPerfect Brown Rice - I've always had trouble making brown rice: it either came out mushy or cooked unevenly. This method works amazingly well and I'm now in love with brown rice. I use the leftovers to make some healthier fried rice loaded with veggies.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Race Report: Gator Half Ironman Triathlon

(This is a guest post from Jason Buckner)

I finished my second half ironman triathlon today and I did it over an hour and a half faster than my first! My first one was in Clermont so the hills don't make this a very fair comparison, but I was much better prepared for this one. My swim time was 33 minutes, the bike was 2:52, and the run was 2:03 for a grand total of 5:35:04 with transitions. I felt strong for most of the race, but I felt like I undertrained for the bike ride. For the first time, I can say that I enjoyed the run more than the bike. Overall I enjoyed the race, but the way it was run left much to be desired.

Setting Up

The day started early. We were up at 5:00, packed up all of my gear in the car, and were on the road by 5:45. The park was only about 15 minutes away and we were allowed in the transition area at 6:00. We got to the park and I set up my transition area. Instead of the bike hangers I've always seen at triathlons, they used slotted wooden stands that you put your wheel into.

Unfortunately, they didn't mark the stands so there was no consistency in how the bikes were being set up. At some of the better races I've been to, they make sure the bikes alternate back and forth so you don't have two bikes butted up against each other. They also didn't group the stands so it was very difficult to find your bike. Once again, most other triathlons will put numbers on the stands like 1-50, 51-100, etc. so you have an idea of where you're supposed to rack your bike. This lackadaisical transition area pretty much set the tone for the rest of the day.

After setting up my transition area, I put my wetsuit on and they did a pre-race meeting at 7:00. At the meeting, the announcer went over the basics, but when one lady asked him a question about the course, he responded with "you should have read your maps". Unacceptable. While I agree that people should look over the course ahead of time, when you're in the middle of the race, your brain is not functioning and good signage is absolutely necessary.


We got in the water around 7:15. It felt much warmer than I was expecting. It could have been the wetsuit doing its job, but it certainly didn't feel like the 68 degrees that they said it was going to be. The course was set up in a big rectangle around the lake. Two large buoys on one side and two smaller buoys on the other. The buoys were fairly close to shore, which meant the group was packed in a pretty tight area. This made it very difficult to spread out and get some breathing room.

We started at 7:35 and, as expected, it was a madhouse. I was being kicked and slapped nonstop and I couldn't get out of the crowd to avoid it. Another pretty major issue I had was a near panic attack halfway down the first side of the course. This was my first open water swim with the wetsuit and it felt like it was choking me and that I couldn't get enough air. I basically had to stop and convince myself that I knew I was going to be okay and just to take it slow and remember my training. I almost considered taking the top off of my suit off, but that would've been even more difficult.

After I rounded the first buoy, my breathing calmed down and I was finally able to get in my groove. Also just after the first corner, I sensed the sun just coming up over the horizon, which brought a sense of happiness and calm to me. The rest of the swim went really well and I finished in around 33 minutes. The way we had to get out of the water was a pretty steep incline instead of a ramp, which made exiting the water rather difficult. On to the bike.


My transition to the bike was definitely slower than usual because of the wetsuit, but it went smoothly. I got out on the course and, after the first mile or two, got into a nice groove. In the first mile, I dropped one of my water bottles, but that didn't bother me much. I just had to make my other one last to mile 20, where the first water stop was. As usual, my legs really didn't warm up for at least two miles so they were really aching from pushing hard.

The bike course was really open and flat, which was nice, but it also meant there were not many trees to block the wind. As the day went on, the wind got stronger and changed directions so we had a headwind on the way out and on the way back. Not fun! For the first 15 miles or so, I was playing leap frog with this group of women until this really fast rider passed us and they got in his draft and I never saw them again. There weren't any course officials so people were drafting.

The course was poorly marked. They used these tiny arrow signs that I nearly missed several times. When you're moving fast and your brain is not functioning at 100%, you need large, unmistakable signs that you can see from far away. Fortunately it was almost all right hand turns so we could rely on that.

It was a very rural course on 55 and 65mph roads and I got some really close fast buzzes. I eventually moved into the lane and just controlled it. I don't like doing that during triathlons because you're supposed to leave the left for passing, but I got sick of close calls.

I started to lose my momentum around mile 30, but was still able to maintain a pretty fast pace. At around mile 40, my legs were screaming at me and by mile 50 I was almost in tears from the pain and the headwind. "How in the world did we have headwinds in every direction?" I kept asking myself. I did a lot of focused breathing out there just to keep my mind and body in check.


Finally I got back to transition and I was almost in a stupor at this point. I had to slowly walk down the aisles of bikes to find my transition area, since they didn't mark the locations of the numbers. Kitzzy had to point my spot out to me and I racked my bike. I kept thinking to myself how happy I was to be off the bike and I had a renewed sense of vigor that I had finally moved on to the run.

That vigor turned to irritation when the chip anklets (a velcro strap) started bouncing around at every step and pretty much rubbed my ankle raw. I tried to ignore it, but it was kind of hard to when every step I took reminded me of it.

The course was okay. About half of it was through an industrial park and the other half was around a lake, which allowed the wind to really kick up. There was a decent amount of water stops, but some of the younger volunteers were being kind of snarky, which annoyed me. After my first lap, they completely abandoned one of the crucial water stops that we passed four times so the runners were left to fend for themselves. I did not appreciate that at all.

I had some really good momentum almost the entire time on the run and cheered on runners as they passed. I even started pacing with this other guy and we actually had a nice long conversation. Turns out he lives not far from me, in Baldwin Park. Unlike my first half ironman, I ran the entire time, except through the water stops. I walked through them and took the opportunity to eat a Shot Block or two.


While I did much better than at my Clermont Half, I did not feel better. I think my bike ride put me in a bad place and the way the race was run put such a negative spin on the whole day. I'm proud of my accomplishment, but the way I'm feeling right now, I may just stick with Olympic-distance and shorter for the foreseeable future. I don't have the same sense of excitement as I did when I finished Clermont and I definitely won't be doing this race again. Maybe in a day or two I'll reflect some more on today and change my mind about doing another Half (or even go for a Full), but right now I'm just not feeling it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Race Report: Orange Blossom Half Marathon

Orange Blossom Half Marathon
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I finished my 8th Half Marathon this morning with my 2nd fastest finish time. I was trying to PR, but I gave it my all so I'm thrilled with my performance. Here are the stats:
  • 2:30:26 finish time
  • 11:29 m/m pace
  • 78 out of 107 females
  • 162 out of 202 overall
  • 8 out of 8 in age group
  • splits:
  • intervals: 2/1
I woke up at 4:30 a.m. (it amuses me that we woke earlier for the hot air balloon ride the previous day) and were on our way to Tavares by 5:15 a.m. We had an hour drive, I still had to pick up my packet, and Jason needed to register for the 5k. After we did all that, we returned to the car to stay warm until the start.

With about 10 minutes to spare, we walked to the start and found Maddy. Everyone was standing around wondering where the actual start was, and eventually everyone shuffled over to it. This being a really small race, about 260 total for both the 5k and half marathon, there was no starting mat. While waited at the start, I met a few girls also doing the Galloway method who happened to be Yolanda's friend. It wasn't long before we saw Yolanda. She and her friends were a great cheering section throughout the course. The race started about 20 minutes late, which worried me because the forecast called for thunderstorms around 9 am and I was hoping to miss most of it.

Thankfully the rain never materialized to more than a drizzle for a few minutes, but it was really windy the entire time because the course was adjacent to a lake. At one point my hat flew off, and I had to run with my head down to keep it from flying off again. When the wind was not blowing, it felt really humid. This was a really tough race because of that, but I gave it my all and that's all that matters. I pushed really hard and still negative split the race even if not by as much as usual.

This was a really small race, but it was well supported and monitored. The course was a bit weird, with two out and backs, but it was flat except for the slanted roads near curves. The 5k started after the half, and the half ran the 5K loop before going for the 2nd out and back, so it was cool to see Jason finishing as I was nearing mile 4. Speaking of Jason, he finished the 5K 2nd overall! Apparently when I saw him the 2nd time, the 1st place winner had just passed him. I'm so ridiculously proud of him! 

After I finished, I headed for the food tent but there wasn't much left. The bananas were gone and all they had was hot dogs (yuck), cookies, and mini donuts. I took a bite of a coconut covered mini donut, but it didn't taste so great, so I threw the rest out. We went to Perkins instead for some eggs and potatoes. Yum!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February 2011 Recap

Another great month, with 2 more miles of running than last month. I'm finally back into the groove of regular exercise, including yoga and core/strength. Not much else to say, so I'll let the numbers speak for themselves.

Goals/Races for March 2011
February Stats
  • walk = 31 miles
  • run = 60 miles
  • longest run = 10 miles
  • # of runs = 15
  • bike = 125 miles
  • longest ride = 16 miles
  • total = 246 miles / 36.5 hrs (avg 1.2 hrs/day)
2011 Goals Progress
To be on track, percentages should be around 16%
  • Run/walk 
    • 189 / 1100 (17%)
    • 94/mo
    • 24/wk
    • 3/day
  • Bike 
    • 273 / 2000 (14%)
    • 137/mo
    • 34/wk
    • 5/day
  • Home cooked meals = 92%
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