Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Charlotte Ride Report: Puppies, Roosters and a bit of ADD

If you read my last blog entry you know I did my first Charlotte ride this past Saturday. Here are some reflections on 120 miles of QT with my bike and my good friend Stephanie...

Ready for the long stretch
Getting closer
The ride to Charlotte traverses some beautiful NC countryside and I would totally recommend it to anybody who needs to get some good mile in before and Ironman (or just for the heck of it). We started from the Food Lion in Carrboro where we had a firm departure time of 8am. Sometime around 8:45 we managed to roll out. Being girls ;) we made it about 15 miles before our first rest stop.  Once I cleared my system of the 2 cups of coffee we made it about 30 seconds before we got ADD and made our next stop. This could not be helped as there were puppies AND roosters playing together by the side of the road and pictures were needed. Mental note: keep camera available for photo ops during long rides. By the time Steph dug her camera out they had disappeared into the bushes so sorry, no pictures. :)  Right before we hit Highway 49 Steph got some hard family news. However, being the trooper she is we decided to push on and get the ride done. 49 was the longest stretch of road and offered up some great rolling hills as well as a few solid climbs and, my personal favorite, some long gradual downhills where we could really fly. I got in about 50 miles of tempo during this section which I was pleased with since we had decided to be slightly conservative on the first long ride of the year. The hardest miles for me were the first 40. I think it was partially the daunting mental task at hand as well as not being warmed up well.  The rain held off until mile 90. From then on we had a steady and fairly heavy amount of rain. Looking back, it would have been smart to tie our raincoats around our waists, but you know what they say about hindsight! The rain wouldn't have been so bad, but the rain/cold (approx 40 degrees) combo really started to get to us the last 15 miles. 5 miles before our stopping point we were looking at our rain soaked map and shivering and decided to call it. At that point we were shaking so badly and riding through heavy rain and traffic that it no longer seemed safe or an effective workout. We found the closest CVS and a great deal on some hoodies (75% off the sticker price) and waited for Richard Armstrong, Stephanie's Coach, to come rescue us.

 We didn't make it quite to our destination, but 120 out of 125 miles ain't bad and Stephanie is going to kick some butt at Ironman St. George!

Oh yeah, almost forgot we played the animal counting game and here is our tally: Roosters, puppies, cows, goats, sheep, ostrich, emu, horses, mini donkeys....Steph, what am I forgetting? :)

Finally warm!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

'Tis the Season for Epic Rides

Stephanie and I riding last summer
One of the things I love about spring is all the quality hours you get to spend with your friends on those looooong base rides. Of course, if you have friends like mine, there is always the added element of seeing just how far we are going to push it.... Cue Epic Ride #1 for the season. The route will start in the lovely town of Carborro, North Carolina (hopefully still in the happy throngs of a post-UNC Basketball win hangover)and spit us out somewhere near Charlotte, NC (No, I have not actually looked at the whole route), where we will be rescued by Coach Richard Armstrong to dry out and recoup at his parents house. Yes, I said dry out, not because we will be sweating buckets in the beautiful sunshine, but because we are lucky enough to pick a day which will allow us the added mental challenge of riding 125 miles in the rain. If this doesn't get Steph ready for Ironman St. George then nothing will!!! But, in all seriousness I'm very excited to attempt this ride. While I expect to get some solid cardio benefits from the sheer volume, the most important thing gained will be the confidence boost it provides for the future when I'm faced with another daunting challenge or painful race situation. So Happy Riding Season to everyone and I will let you know how it turns out. :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Back in the Game!

Whew! The first race of the season is done and the cobwebs are all cleared away (hopefully). Due to my injury the second half of last season this was my first race since July. That, my friends, is apparently plenty of time to forget some key things...like how to do a transition. :) However, back to the beginning….

 Last Thursday night I packed up everything I thought I remembered that I would need to survive the Azaela Triathlon and then I optimistically threw in two bikinis for amazing tan I was planning on getting at the beach!

Friday night my sister, Leigh, my boyfriend, Chad (support crew, not racer) and I loaded ourselves in the car and made the two hour trek to Wrightsville. When we got there it dawned on us, or more so Leigh who couldn't top shivering, that it was freaking cold out...and it was going to be colder on race morning. Oh well, the race must go on. Our friend Dave had a great house in Carolina Beach that he was generous enough to offer it up for the race. We all did a bit of pre-race basketball watching and then hit the sheets fairly early.

Leigh, Chad and I enjoying the beach (sans bikinis)

Leigh and I were both swimmers growing up and since this was a serpentine pool swim both of us would be starting the race early. At 5:45 am, the sisters were in the car and on the way to the University of Wilmington pool with only a slight detour so I could get my coffee (I put Irish Cream -the creamer - in it for good luck which obviously didn't work). We set up everything and went for a 2 mile jog on the run course. Chad and Steph arrived soon after and since it was Chad's first Triathlon spectator event I was very excited for him to see all the festivities. He proved to be a great helper as both Leigh and I dumped all our clothes and shoes on him to carry back to the car. After a quick swim it was time to go.

Working hard to catch the guy in front of me!

Lesson #1. When getting ready for a sprint race make sure you put plenty of intensity in your warm-up so you are ready to go. The gun went off (figuratively since I was actually the 8th person, but first girl) and the 300 was over in a jiffy. Transition one...what can I say but U.G.L.Y! I couldn't make a decision on what to put on so I wasted valuable time and eventually went with nothing because it didn't feel that cold. Lesson #2. My transitions need WORK...or I need to only do long races. What can I say about the bike and run except I just felt flat. My bike time wasn't too bad but my legs were sluggish and that continued on the run. By the end of the run my turnover was actually starting to pick up, but the race ended much too quickly. As I crossed the finish line, feeling way excessively energetic for the end of a race, I heard people yelling something at me....Lesson #3. USAT would like you to turn your race belt around for the finish so they don't have to award you a lovely two minute penalty!!!

Azalea Race Crew - Post Race
The best part about this race was all my friends out there cheering for me and getting to cheer for them once I finished! Any race that you can take away three lessons from is a valuable learning experience. Bonus, my long run after the race felt great and I got a cool Azalea Triathlon blanket for my cat, Sammy, to confiscate, and UNC won the basketball game! :) Oh, and we did get to spend a bit of time on the beach, just not in bikinis....


Monday, February 28, 2011

Lucky Me! (Time To Get This Thing Started)

So I've been sitting there staring at my empty blog, totally clueless about how to start, and to my chagrin realized that I already had a follower! Time to entertain the masses and get this thing rolling... First, thanks to my little sister, Claire, for following and empty blog...now that is loyalty! This got me thinking about all the other people in my life who are so supportive of this crazy dream that I am chasing. My amazing parents who only think I'm slightly insane and, I'm sure, will think up increasingly embarrassing ways to cheer for me at my races this year. Leigh, my other sister (who is not yet following my blog, hint hint) but who started doing triathlons last year at the same time I was getting back into the sport. Someday, when we all need a good laugh, I will chronicle our first bike ride adventure through New York City, which culminated in us walking our bikes 30 blocks decked out in all our cycling gear and shoes. However, she stuck with it and is now one of my favorite training partners and I will be the one cheering hard for her in Eagleman this June. Fortunately the two of us hooked up with some great training partners last year when we moved back to North Carolina thought the IOSDT (Inside Out Delta Triathlon) who have now become our big triathlon family.

 It makes it so much easier to push yourself through those hard swim workouts or chase Mike and Dan for 70 miles on the bike when you know your reward is Mexican food and hanging out with friends at the end...or riding on the Jet Ski until it runs out of fuel (Kevin). :) Finally, having that special person in my life, who does not do triathlons, but puts up with my early bedtimes, absentee Saturdays and occasional moodiness (OK, more than occasional when I have too many early mornings) and still manages to kick me out of bed for swim practice and surprise me with a dinner waiting after a too long day makes me feel like the luckiest girl around. Win or lose this first year as a pro, I know that I have amazing people in my life and I will be taking their strength with me into every competition this year. I'm ready for some fun and hard work...Let's do this!!!