Monday, October 24, 2011

Johnny's Run Like Hell Race Report

On Saturday, I raced a 5K called "Johnny's Run Like Hell" that is one of my favorite local races. It starts at 3 pm at a bar (Johnny's Irish Pub), and ends at the same bar. Awards are given out in the bar. Prizes? Bottle of wine. Throw into the mix a fantastic long-sleeved, Halloween themed, t-shirt and I am sold.

Several people I knew were doing the race: Kim A., the Krazy Kellmans, K-Dub (our resident neurosurgeon who was on call during the race), Travis and his sister Jenna, along with some others.

Travis, Kim, me, Dave, Jennie, MK post-race

I met Kim and Travis at his sister's house (which was 1 or 2 blocks from Johnny's) at around 2 pm. We hung out as she got her family ready for the race (i.e. her husband donned his Willy Wonka costume and their 2 twins, their oompa loompa paint). It was hysterical and adorable! Kim, Travis and I then made our way to the race site, I did a brief warm up (because it was chilly out!) and we lined up.

Willy Wonka and 2 of his oompa loompas!

I had no expectations for this race, based on my fluctuating off-season training and lack of running any distance over 6 miles since Ironman Wisconsin. But, this would be a good test to see just how much fitness I had lost, how much slower had I gotten after an intense long course season of 2 Ironmans, and just a good race that I was planning on enjoying. I wore Gary the vibrating Garmin and my HR monitor to collect data for Mary.

I am never good at pacing 5Ks. I figured I would take the first mile out at 7 min. pace and go from there. My 5K PR is just under 22 minutes (21:48 or something like that) and it was actually at this race in 2009. That year my average pace was just under 7:00 min/mile. So I figured this was safe, as the first mile is always a little fast. Plus, at this race, the first mile has a significant downhill. I have always run 5Ks with this particular strategy: run your first mile conservatively, the 2nd mile steady, and then push the last mile. The last 0.1 is the kick into the finish. I think I picked that up running XC in high school and it has worked fairly well for me (although I never actually negative split anything anyways).

Anyways, the race started, and I was off and running! I hit 1 mile in 6:55. Oops, a little fast! Mile 2 had a medium sized hill to run up and then there were some twisty turns. Mile 2s pace was 7:15. I blame the hill. Mile 3 has this long, unfortunate hill to the finish (the same one you run down at the start) where you can hear the announcer but you can't see the finish, and then when you finally do see the stupid orange cones, it takes FOREVER to get there. By this point, I was tired and cramping and was ready to be done. My 3rd mile split slowed to 7:29.

Overall time: 22:56 (per my Garmin) with an average pace of 7:15. (Per the results: 22:57 gun time with an average pace of 7:24). Weird how they are so different.

So, while this was ~70 seconds slower than my 5K PR, I was THRILLED to go under 23 minutes. I haven't run a 5K in over a year, I have barely been running, and all of my run times in triathlons during the year have been crappy. I know it's ridiculous, but I was worried that any speed I had managed to develop over the past few years had been destroyed, so I am happy to know that it's still there somewhere!

And now, please be as amused as I am by this photo montage taken by Tim (big head in the hat) with his iPad 2 while we were hanging out after the race outside the bar. Who brings their IPAD to take photos with? This guy! But it was hilarious because as he was holding it up to take the panorama, we all saw ourselves in the screen and were giggling/trying to get into the shots.

I was 11th female and won my AG, so I took home a medal and a lovely bottle of red wine!

me (AG winner), Jennie (overall W winner), Matt K. (AG winner)

After the race, Kim, Travis and I went back to Jenna's house to change into warm clothes, and then headed back to the bar for post-race drinks, socializing, and award collecting. We hung out for a while with various friends, and then we went back to get our cars after everyone started to get cold. Travis and Kim left, and I went back into the bar to go to the bathroom, saw Matt Kellman still in there, and the next thing I knew I had a beer in my hand and I was having a conversation with John Tuttle, who ran in the 1984 Olympic Marathon. He's now a competitive Master's runner who was in town for some Master's championship in Perinton that I had no idea was happening. Anyways, it was pretty cool to meet a running legend! Even one that was very, very drunk and raced in the Olympics the year that I was born. I also made 2 new friends who were being entertained by Matt Kellman and Tim Dwyer's bar antics.
me and John Tuttle
'84 Olympic Trials - John Tuttle is the 2nd from the left (the tall guy in the back)

So to sum up, I ran a 5K, won some wine, got a sweet t-shirt, met an Olympian, drank 2 beers.. good way to spend a Saturday afternoon/evening!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Skipping Workouts

I find myself in a situation that I have never been in before. A sort of structured off-season.

I am not training for anything in particular. I am not being coached until January when I start with QT2. I have nothing really to work on, but I want to stay active to avoid a backslide.

Last year, after Syracuse 70.3, I went on the ultimate lazy girl streak for probably 1.5 months, where I ran twice in that entire length of time, and otherwise spent my free time eating, drinking, and on my couch streaming episodes of Dexter. I'm not going to say that it wasn't fun, but when I started back up with Mary in December, I had a terrible time getting back into a routine. I had gained weight, I had fallen incredibly out of shape, and it was hard to motivate myself to actually go outside in the cold weather when I had spent the past 45 days curled up in my Snuggie.

This year, I am trying to avoid that. I took 2 weeks completely off after Ironman Wisconsin (for recovery and sanity purposes). Then I started up my workout schedule again - the same schedule that I have been doing all year, minus the "long ride" and "long run" on weekends and with only two swims per week instead of three. This probably gets me around 10-12 hours per week, depending on how long I ride and run on weekends.

What I am not sure of is how strict to be with myself. Since this is technically the off-season, do I let myself feel guilty if I don't want to do a workout? Do I force myself to swim when I am tired (which is what I do when I am Ironman training)? Is it ok to substitute something else (yoga, riding Cherry, going for a long hike) for the typical swim, bike, run that I normally fill my time with?

I'm not talking about skipping tons of workouts. I am talking about a day here and there. When I am training for real, I try not to skip anything. The first year I trained with Mary, I think I skipped maybe 2 workouts altogether in the 6 months I was coached by her before IMLP. The second year (this year) I was a little worse, but not horrible. Sometimes it's hard with the work schedule I keep.

This week I am working overnights. My refrigerator died for the 2nd time over the weekend, so on Monday I called the landlord about it and she said that I would be getting a new one on Tuesday. Because I work nights, I asked if they could bring the fridge as late as possible so I could get sufficient sleep in. The guy showed up at 3:15, installed the fridge, and left by 4:15. At that point, I should have left for the pool but I felt like absolute garbage. I went back to bed, woke up at 6:15 pm, and that was it. No workouts. I could have run, or hopped on my trainer, but I just didn't feel like it.

And now, I am feeling immensely guilty about it.

Last Friday, I skipped a bike ride to nap before going to a haunted house with my friend. And let me tell you, that nap allowed me to have much more fun than if I were to have ridden my bike, not napped, and gone out feeling absolutely exhausted.

Last Wednesday, I skipped an hour bike ride to get my hair cut. However, I did run afterwards.

So, considering that it's the off-season, and I am maybe half-heartedly "training" for a Halloween 5K, at which I have absolutely ZERO aspirations of any kind of PR, is this behavior ok? Is it ok to want to sleep instead of workout (for once)? Or be social? Or run errands (i.e. get my hair cut for the first time since June???)? Or actually keep my apartment clean? Or try to cook meals instead of getting prepared food at Wegmans? Or read a book? Or stream Mad Men on Netflix to my new Blu Ray player that I love so much?

Am I the only one who feels massively guilt ridden when I don't get workouts in?

Is it ok to skip workouts in the Fall!?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chrissie, and some other things, but mostly Chrissie

As everyone is well aware, Kona was this weekend. I had some friends racing (Travis and White Hot) as well as knowing some other people out there as well (Cait Snow as a USA Pro and Pat Wheeler from QT2). Add Chrissie Wellington in there and you have the 5 people for whom I was actively rooting.

I don't know why I am so emotionally tied to Chrissie Wellington. When she pulled out of Kona last year, I was devastated and lost my motivation to watch the race. This year, she crashed her bike 2 weeks before the race and (thankfully) only sustained minor injuries, but still, that's enough to ruin you for an upcoming Ironman. (I know, I am truly just happy that her injuries were not life-threatening, unlike what happened to Jordan Rapp a few years ago). As I sat in my apartment streaming the live feed on Saturday, and Chrissie came out of the water several minutes slower than usual, I started to worry. When she didn't make a big gain on the bike and as Julie Diebens continued to pull away from the field, I started to worry more. But when Chrissie hit the run, I started to believe that she could pull it off. (I never REALLY lost hope, but it wasn't looking so good for a while there - apparently I forgot how truly amazing of an athlete that she is). Her and Rinny were running through the field at almost the exact same pace, separated by ~3 minutes. Chrissie took the lead, and I was literally on the edge of my seat wondering if she could hold off Rinny.

And she did.

And as much as I love seeing Chrissie run away from the field, as she has done sooo many times, it was exciting to see her challenged, fight back, and win. ALL while feeling less than 100%.

It was also crazy to see her looking as shelled as she did after the race.

I truly believe that Chrissie is THE spokesperson for triathlon. She is always humble, she takes everything that happens to her in stride (flat tires, bike crashes, being sick, etc) and always comes back better, faster, and stronger. She is an amazing athlete and an amazing woman, and I truly admire her in all aspects. Which is perhaps why I am entering a race (Timberman) next year JUST for the chance to meet her (oh.. and race a 70.3 - no biggie).

Anyways, enough about Chrissie. I am very, very happy at the outcome of Kona, to say the least. Congrats are also in order to Crowie who obviously won the men's race and broke the 15 year old race record, and one of my other favorite pros, Cait Snow, who I met in Coeur D'Alene, landed myself on her blog, and who had a phenomenal race yesterday which I believe resulted in a PR for her and the only top 10 finish for the USA in both the men's and women's fields! Also to Travis, who had a great day on the lava fields and finished in 10:08 which is a PR for him I believe. His finish line video is truly inspiring (I wish I could share it with you all). Same goes to White Hot and Pat Wheeler - who we watched cross the line as well.

In other news..

On Friday night, I went to a haunted house in the city (The House of Pain) with my friend Ari. We were both excited to go, and we both view ourselves as.. not too girly. Ari is a hardcore mountain biker, I do Ironman, we're tough chicks! Yet, 5 minutes into the haunted house, we were shrieking our heads off, holding hands, and sprinting through the rooms, away from the creepy actors that were jumping out as us. I guess we are women after all!

Then on Saturday I was forced to clean in the morning for my Kona party (which was me, Solveig, and Matthias) that afternoon. The good news is: my apartment is the cleanest it has EVER been and I am loving it! I am going to make a huge effort to keep it this way AND get going on some organizational projects that need to be started!

I also drank almost an entire bottle of wine at the party and definitely felt the effects the next day, especially when I tried to run. I made it 57 minutes, but it was not pretty, and we'll leave it at that.

My god, I love life!

Monday, October 3, 2011

no post-IM blues for this girl!

Hello blog world, it's me, Alexa.

I am alive.

This is my attempt to catch everyone up with the things-that-have-been-going-on-now-that-IM-is-over part of my life!

I am now 3 weeks post IM Wisconsin and life has been grand. I took 2 weeks completely off to be fat and lazy, and then last Monday, I started training again. Swimming, cycling, running - you got it! Feels great! Fall is the best time of the year to be training for the sake of happiness, well being, and love of exercising. The weather is perfect and it's so beautiful outside!

I also have been riding Cherry every weekend and I love it. She has been very well behaved (minus her pasture shenanigans) and has not been lame at all, which means that her arthritis isn't bothering her! That makes me so happy - it's a relief knowing that she is not in pain during daily life and it makes me feel a lot less guilty when I ride her.

Saturday I went to Mary's yoga class. I hadn't gone since March-ish (it's expensive and it's in a hot room so I like to keep it for the off-season as a treat). Wow.. talk about being sore. My abs and my arms still hurt and the class was over 48 hours ago. Combine that with sore thighs from riding Cherry and sore legs from running again and I am feeling achy all over - but it's definitely a good achy feeling!

I bought a new Blu Ray player last weekend that has built in Wi-Fi. So while I build up my BR collection (I only own 2 as of right now) I can stream TV shows and movies from Netflix and HULU. Right now I am working my way through season 2 of Mad Men!

I've seen some new movies recently - I went to see The Lion King in 3D last weekend with my friend Ari. I must have watched TLK at least 20 times when it was released in 1994 (I was 10) and I have loved it ever since, so I jumped at the chance to see it again! And then I found out that the Blu Ray edition is being released tomorrow, so of course I pre-ordered it on Amazon! I also saw 50/50 on Friday with Matthias and it was fantastic!

I am also reading "The Pillars of the Earth" which I am barely able to put down. It is super long - usually I am through a book in 3-4 days if I really like it (i.e. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books, the Hunger Games books, The Help, etc) but this book is so long (900 pages-ish) that I've been reading it for over 2 weeks and I am only 71% of the way through (that's what the Kindle tells me, anways). Highly recommended!

This coming Saturday.. I'm sure everyone knows, is KONA! We have our very own Travis Earley heading to the Big Island to compete which is extra exciting. I am planning a Kona streaming/get drunk/board game playing party in my apartment for Saturday afternoon. Is there a better way to spend the day? I don't think so! Hopefully it will end up being more than just me and Matthias getting hammered on my couch.

Anyone who is local that is reading this and wants to hang out in my too small apartment and drink wine and play Cranium with a bunch of tri geeks is more than welcome to come by!