Tuesday, June 30, 2009

26 Thoughts on my First Marathon...

  1. Waking up before 5:00am is tough, but I love to be up when the sun rises.
  2. For breakfast I had Erin Baker's granola and a banana...I seriously love Erin Baker's products (and I'm not just saying that because she's a sponsor!).
  3. It was a picture-perfect Pacific Northwest day for the inaugural Rock 'N' Roll Seattle Marathon!
  4. Since this was my first marathon, and I wasn't sure how I would do, I made two goals for my finish time--one more reasonable (under 4:00:00), and one more ambitious (3:45:00).
  5. It was overwhelming to be counted among the 25,000 runners, all there for the same goal--to cross the finish line.
  6. There were also 25,000 people needing to use the bathroom. I waited about 25 minutes for a port-a-potty.
  7. On the back of my hand, I wrote out my target pace for each mile.
  8. On the palm of my hand, I wrote Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through him who gives me strength."
  9. I have the most wonderful, most supportive husband in the world! Scott dropped me off at the race start in the morning, then waited for me at mile 17/20 to take pictures and cheer me on when I would most need it.
  10. The first 10 miles felt great; I ran at an easy, steady pace.
  11. Those who were running the full marathon got to cross the I-90 bridge, where the view of Mt. Rainier was incredible. It will forever be etched in my mind when I think about running my first marathon.
  12. As I was heading out on the bridge, a fellow Team Fastt teammate, Patty Bredice, was coming back in, and she called out my name. It was great to see a familiar face in the crowd.
  13. The most memorable band for me was the one I heard while going through the first tunnel--they were singing the song "Dancin' in the Streets."
  14. I hit the wall at mile 20. My legs felt like stone!
  15. I stopped four times on the course--three times to walk a little, and once to kiss my husband.
  16. Several times I saw medical personnel with a runner on the side of the road. Each time I thought to myself, "That could be me, but I hope it isn't."
  17. For the last 6.2 miles, I was in constant battle with my conscience.
  18. I lost quite a bit of confidence when I ran my first 10-minute mile at mile 22. Ouch.
  19. Throughout the race, I played leapfrog with a man wearing a Marathon Maniacs shirt.
  20. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I prefer triathlons to marathons. If I ever do another marathon (which I expect I will), I hope it's at the end of an Ironman :)
  21. Even though I was suffering by the end, I still finished strong for the last 0.2 miles, passing a few people on my way to the finish line.
  22. I had tears in my eyes as I neared the finish. I'm still not sure whether it was because I was overjoyed at completing my first marathon, or at the thought of finally putting an end to my suffering. Likely, it was some of each.
  23. I was disappointed that there wasn't any chocolate milk offered for post-race recovery. Alas.
  24. Afterwards, as I was stretching, the man mentioned in #19 came up to congratulate me. He said I looked strong most of the way, but faded at the end (which was true). He also said that this was his 78th marathon. He really is a marathon maniac.
  25. As it turned out, my timing chip didn't work, so I'm not listed in the official race results. But according to my watch, I finished in about 3:55:30 (it's an estimate because I left it running about a minute after I crossed the finish line). I'm pretty happy with it, though bummed about not being listed in the official results.
  26. I can't help but compare my races to the spiritual race we all run (or don't run)--and realizing how important it is to have people we know and love encouraging and pushing us along the way (and for us to do likewise). Thanks to everyone for their support, both in this race and in life. You rock!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Riding at the Olympics

This past week, my husband and I took a trip to the Olympic Mountains with my mom, who was visiting from out-of-state. As most triathletes know, it can be difficult to fit training into a vacation (or vacation into training, depending on how one looks at it). But for this trip, I ended up having one of the best bike rides I've ever had--a 12-mile hill climb up Hurricane Ridge! I was a little nervous about it at first (Would my legs survive climbing for that long?!), but once I got started, it was incredible! I was surrounded by God's awesome creation, and even though I was riding for 1 hour 20 minutes, the time flew by. When I reached the top, there were my husband and mom waiting for me, supporting me in this triathlon craziness we all love. I'm just glad I didn't have to ride back down--uphill is much more rewarding :)
"I lift my eyes up to the hills--
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth."

Psalm 121:1-2

Monday, June 15, 2009

Where is Boise?

Boise 70.3....a great race once you get there!

It seemed like a long way to drive ~ a quick plane trip sounded optimal. Lisa and arrived to the airport on time and we were at the gate...heck, she was even through the gate when they stopped me, called her (and a few others) back off the plane and told us their was a "mechanical malfunction". We were told to go ahead and leave but check back. We did just as we were told but when we got back the plane had left. No what? Quick thinking...we hopped on a flight to Spokane. Spokane must be close to Boise right? Once on the plane we looked at the back of the Alaska Air magazine to find out Spokane wasn't any closer to Boise than Seattle was. Who knew...wasn't Spokane and Idaho both east? Once in Spokane, we learned the next flight out was not until 4PM. That won't work...we need to get to packet pick up and rack our bikes. Drive? Nope...apparently it takes 8 hours. The laughter kept us going as we learned that SOuthwest had a flight out that would get us there just 3 hours later than our origianl plans. Problem though...the flight is oversold and we are on a wait list. Begging, pleading does work! They either felt sorry for us or just couldn't wait to get rid of us...giving us our boarding passes early. What a blessing...we were headed to Boise and things were looking up...briefly.

We've landed, lets get a picture! Where's the camera? Plane? Which one? Airport? Which one? I felt horrible...the Team FASTT camera was gone...or so i thought. After many phone calls I learned it traveled to Reno and then L.A. and would make its way back to Seattle. WHew! I didn't lose it (well, not for long) and i wouldn't have to 'smile' for a snapshot at every Kodak moment...and Lisa finds a lot of them.

Friday night is just a blur...and how do you get ready for a 2:00 start? It starts with sleeping in. No 3AM wake up calls. Sleep long, eat well and end the day with a race...perfect!

A cloudy day, nice breeze and no rain...not yet anyways. The swim was tough conditions with a lot of waves but eventually i exited the water and climbed the big hill towards transition. It was worth the climb...wet suit strippers everywhere. With a quick exit i was on my bike and heading down the fast decent. As soon as i hit the the bottom of the decent i felt my first raindrop. WIthin seconds the sky turned dark and the rain became a downpour. It never stopped but for those of us from the Pacific Northwest it was all too familiar. The difference being that it was 70 and raining in Boise ~ rather than the Seattle rain; cold and wet. It was a great bike course...fast...with the last 2 miles a downhill to the city. By then the skies were dark, rain became a torential downpour and shoes were sloshing.

Finally...T2...warm socks and dry shoes (even if only for a few steps). The rain did not keep away the spectators...cheering and yelling all the way to the finish.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Third Tri's a Charm!

Saturday marked the start of my first full triathlon season and my third tri ever. And this time I would get to race in TF blue! Needless to say I was stoked and couldn’t stop smiling. This day was also particularly meaningful to me as my 19 year old brother would be participating in his first triathlon.

I woke up bright and early after a very restful night of sleep. My family, who had spent the night to limit drive time in the morning, was up at the crack of dawn as well. My dad kindly made my brother and I breakfast while we gathered our gear and loaded the car.

I was really surprised by the absence of butterflies in my stomach this morning. This was a first for me. I think the lack of nerves might have partly stemmed from the fact that my brother seemed to have enough for the two of us. I felt like I needed to be calm and relaxed for him to feel more comfortable. I think that ended up helping us both.

The drive to Issaquah was so great. I was enamored by watching the sun rise this morning. It was so glorious cresting over the mountains as I drove along I-90. What a beautiful start to the day.

We arrived to the race at 5:35ish, were greeted by Tory and Tracy in the parking lot (Can I just say that I love this team) and then checked in. Saw Kris who kindly helped me place my bike number on my bike and then told me to take off my tire changing kit and reflector as they just added weight (thanks for the tip!). After getting body marked, I headed into the transition area. I did start to feel a little rushed by this point as I didn’t realize how long everything would take especially when you’re trying to help out a first-timer, even though it is only your 3rd time and you’re still figuring things out yourself. Good thing my brother is pretty independent and managed to set up most of his transition area by himself. He was even smart enough to pick the premo racking spot on the end! Lucky!

I got my transition area set-up, grabbed my shoes, found Tracy, and went for a 10 minute warm-up run. I used to think people who spend any amount of time exercising or “warming-up” before the race were crazy. I would think “What are you doing expending precious energy before the race?” or “Why would anyone want to get into the water before you had to?” Now I just laugh at myself for thinking that. Warming up is so important. I felt loose, refreshed, and eager to race after my short run and swim warm-up!

Team prayer was great! What a perfect way to start my race. Seriously, the support from this team is incredible.

The Swim: Chaos! I was kicked, pulled, pushed, run into, etc multiple times but I confidently held my own. I never panicked! So different from my last race where I ended up swimming half of it on my back panting and gasping the entire time. As I rounded the first buoy I was hoping that a lane would finally open up as we were still clumped together and I kept swimming into road blocks (meaning other swimmers). I looked up after rounding the buoy and sighted my path with no swimmer in immediate view. I locked in and got in a groove. I was swimming pretty smoothly and felt like I was going at a great pace without expending too much energy. Every now and then I would brush up against someone to my left. It took me a couple of buoys, but I finally looked over and realized that I was totally drafting off of someone’s hip! That felt great, especially as I finished the swim in record time! A PR from my previous race by over 2:30 minutes.

T1: I located my bike easily thanks to the graduation balloon someone hung on the rack in front of mine. I exited my wetsuit in about 5 steps (still working on that 3 stage exit), slipped on my bike shoes, then glasses, helmet, and was off. I took a moment in the mounting area to clip my left foot in before pushing off and swinging my right leg over. For the first time I wasn’t frazzled, didn’t loose my balance, and most importantly didn’t drop my bike like I had before.

The Bike: My FAVORITE leg of the race! That no passing area in the beginning was rough! I wanted to pass so badly, but rules are rules. I caught sight of Tracy up in the distance once we turned onto East Lake Sammammish Parkway. Goal: catch and pass her. Reality: Easier said then done. When we came to the first hill, I passed a handful of people one of them being my brother. I didn’t realize I had passed him until he rode by me on the down hill while I was taking a drink from my water bottle. As he passed me he looked over and said, “I just love the down hills” I was like what, Luke! I quickly put my water bottle back and sped up to him, told him awesome job, and left him behindJ. There were 3 other riders that I kept ping-ponging with. They were great and so encouraging each time we passed one another. One of them even asked if Tracy and I were teammates. Then said “you should train together” I smiled proudly and said, “We do” At the turn around I finally caught and passed Tracy, but that didn’t last long as I was soon looking at the back of her Team Fastt jersey again and that was how it would remain.

T2: Amazing! Just last Wednesday I had no idea how to quickly mount my bike, let alone dismount my bike. After some practice, I was able to pull my feet out of my shoes, swing my right leg over and through, and taking off running with my bike still in motion. It felt so great to pass the 10 or so people dismounting their bikes as I came in. I do think I took my feet out too early, but that timing will come with more practice. I also realized that my toes were numb, making it a bit more challenging to stay on my shoes. I lost my footing a little when I first pulled them out and almost lost a bike shoe. Yikes! Got my heart racing for a moment, but I stayed composed and was able to regroup. I was out of transition in record time, :49 sec, for me and right on Tracy’s tail.

The Run: My LEAST favorite leg of the race. As we were running along path by the beach I saw Lisa snapping Tracy’s picture and then Lisa turned to me, took my picture, and then yelled “catch her!!” I totally tried, but “someone” had rockets attached to her shoes! My HR was in zone 4, 194-197 the entire time. I was hauling, well for me at least, but Tracy just kept getting further and further away. So I changed my focus to passing one runner at a time. I got an extra burst of energy at the turn around, picked it up, and sprinted the final bit through the trees to the finish line. My goal was to finish the run in 23:30 which I thought was still a stretch for me, but I ended up with a 22:19 run! I was quite pleased.

I ended up crossing the finish line in 1:12:06 which was over a 16 minute improvement from my last race! Aside from having a great race and a ton of fun, I loved sharing this day with so many teammates and friends!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Issaquah Triathlon - Tracy's Race Report

Triathlon season has officially begun! My first race of the season was the Issaquah Triathlon at Lake Sammamish State Park in Washington. The weather couldn't have been more perfect for race day. The view of Mt. Rainier on the drive from Woodinville to Issaquah at 5:30am in the morning was breathtaking. As the sun rose over Issaquah, filling the valley with its light, so the Holy Spirit rose in me, filling my veins with life as I prepared to run the course set before me. It was a course I was familiar with, as this was my third time doing the Issaquah Triathlon. It is a great course to kick off the season, and after a team prayer before the start, I was ready to race.

With a silver swim cap to indicate the 29 and under age group, my race started out a little rocky. Alongside friend and teammate Louise, I was in the front near the center of the group, not the ideal spot for someone who isn't a really strong swimmer. I got kicked all around, and then took in an unexpected mouthful of water that momentarily paralyzed me. I coughed and choked it down, but couldn't breathe regularly, so I had to swim about a minute with my head out of the water, trying to catch my breath. All the while I was thinking, "This is not a great start to my race." But we must do what we can with whatever circumstance we're in. I eventually made my way to my favorite swimming spot on the outskirts of the group--it may add some time to my swim split, but it also adds a lot of enjoyment. I love the swim, but not when I can't actually swim. Despite the rocky start, I finished with a new personal record of 6:37.

My T1 went relatively smoothly, though there is room for improvement. I'm just not sure how willing I am to do the jump-on-your-bike thing, especially since I prefer the longer distance triathlons where the transitions aren't quite as important. Plus, I don't want to get injured. And it scares me!

On the bike, I was looking forward to racing with aerobars for the first time. I had also gotten a shorter stem so that my oversized bike was less oversized. I felt great, though wondered if I might have pushed myself too hard too soon. The turn-around point was a bit of a surprise because it was sooner than I had expected, which I'm assuming means that the bike course was shorter than in previous years. As I turned the bend, I heard a familiar voice just behind me, Louise! I had finished the swim just seconds before Louise, who then caught up with me on the bike. She is the stronger biker, something I'm trying to work on. :) She passed me shortly after the turn-around. There were actually four of us playing leap-frog with one another, until I leapt ahead at the dreaded hill, though Louise was always just behind me. There's nothing like a friendly push to make you go faster!

My T2 was less than one minute, which was way better than the previous year (1:21). This was the first time I attempted taking my feet out of my shoes before dismounting my bike rather than clipping them out and taking my shoes off in the transition area. It definitely saved me a few seconds, which is a lot in a sprint triathlon.

Then began the run, which I consider to be my strongest leg in triathlons, though it never feels that way when I start running in a race. I kept reminding myself that it's only three miles, which doesn't seem like much when you're also training for a marathon. But three miles is a lot to sprint! I kept pushing myself until the end, where I caught up with a man just before the finish line who started racing me as I passed by. I didn't think I had any more power left in me, but my competitive side took over as I raced this man to the finish line. Too bad I thought the first mat was the finish, rather than the second. Oops. The guy racing me noticed I had stopped sprinting and graciously nudged me to keep going. He even let me cross the actual finish line first, which I did while laughing at my stupid mistake. What a gentleman!

In the end, I beat my goal by ten minutes, with a finish of 1:10:43, though that was with a shorter bike course, so it isn't a perfect comparison, but a PR nonetheless. Yeah! And even though I didn't win anything, some friends of mine got me a delicious cake from Whole Foods to celebrate. You can't eat a medal, anyway.

Some things I learned from this race include getting a more appropriate position at the swim start, training harder on the bike, and remembering to keep my eyes fixed on the finish so I don't stop too soon, and likewise to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. It is for His glory that I race.