3/1/08

Snickers Albany Half Marathon Race Report

The ride north to Albany was uneventful. No traffic and a few potty breaks brought us to Albany in less than 6 hours. The town is small and there are more walgreens and rite-aids than grocery stores. I picked up my race packet around 4:45pm but the process was kinda hectic. They had plenty of goodies (Snickers marathon bars and Kuodos bars, Mars company is stationed in Albany) and the t-shirt for the race is really nice. Before picking up Karel's race packet at a different hotel, we had to settled for Ruby Tuesdays last night due to lack of options (I couldn't find the outback!!) but I filled up on yummy salad bar selections, incluiding some bread and some of Karel's pasta. No big deal since I wasn't planning on "racing" the race and if you think about it, how often do we really "carbo load" before a "long" run. I think when we take a race seriously we should prepare nutritionally to the best of our ability. In this case, as long as my blood sugar doesn't drop (I carry my nuts with me at all times) the day before and I get in 3 good meals and plenty of snacks I would be ready to run 13.1 miles at a comfortable pace. The Days Inn was better than expected (seeing that our expectations were low :) hehe) and we were in bed by 8:45pm ready to fall asleep. Although I was not nervous for this race on a competition side, I was a bit anxious because I haven't ran 13.1 miles since Kona. Actually, since I got injured and stopped running on Sept 4th (a month before Kona without running) I only did the Ironman in Kona (yes, I said "only", I just realized that) and one long run of 10 miles last sun. Again, no expectations for this race but to try to stay healthy throughout the race and enjoy every footstrike. I actually hoped to finish under 2 hours and not walk so that I would actually have a goal in order to push when I felt weak. Although I wouldn't be upset if I walked or came in after 2 hours, I just wanted to feel like a runner, with goals and a little competitive side. I woke up every hour last night, just checking my watch to make sure I didn't miss the 3 alarms on my cell phone. I don't even laugh when I say that because that is so me to be anal like that...even when not racing. I still get nervous for local sprint triathlons....but I always have fun no matter what my finish time. So I finally got out of bed at 5:20am and prepared some istant coffee (no surprise, there is no starbucks in Alabyn GA!). After a few minutes of me getting myself ready in the bathroom, Karel was up just laying in bed. I didn't want a lot before this race so I prepared 1/2 packet of oatmeal w/ a little bit of a banana and a few raisins. The same pre race breakfast but just less in calories. I finished off a full 24 ounce water bottle of water/sports drink and I was ready to walk/jog to the race start. Karel was getting his breakfast ready so a quick kiss/good-luck and good-bye and I was out the door at 6:10. Burrr..45 degrees out and I had a long sleeve Zoot dry-fit shirt and shorts. Perfect for running but my Florida blood hasn't really had a chance to get use to cooler temps. Once I got to the race site (10 min. later) I stood in the Hilton for 20 min. to get warm. Then over to the race start by the civic center. I heard a familiar voice and it was Tom Ziebart announcing the race (he is the race director for Escape from Florida in Clermont and Florida 70.3). I was standing around and all of a sudden I hear a voice asking if he could get a pic of me....guess who??? Karel came down with one of his friends to wish me good luck prior to Karel's warm-up on the trainer in the hotel room. So, a quick pic of me for my "fan" and then it was time to line up for the race. The race was just perfect in size (around 1000) and the course was amazing. It was really homey and the scenary was beautiful. There were very few moments without fans and although the race was feautured as "flat", i think that term is very relative, especially for someone in "flat" florida. There were several rollers but I didn't mind the climbs and descents. At 7am we were off. I kept track on my watch to see if I could hold some type of pace and most importantly to my non-distance running legs, I didn't want to go out too fast, too soon. The first 4 miles went by slow. I was enjoying my time running but I wondered if I could make it 13.1 miles running. I self-talked my way into a few more miles and by mile 6 I was feeling GOOD. Apparently, it is kinda hard to run slow and my legs were remembering how to run semi fast. So now I was beginning to pass the people who were passing me and I was getting into a zone. Although I was keeping track of my pace, I was noticing that I was getting faster during the second half of the race. I never got excited during the race because the race wasn't over until I crossed the finish line. Now, with a leg that hasn't ran 13.1 miles in over 4 months, I needed to be sure to focus on my form, strides and foot strikes. All was good until aroun mile 12 when I began to hurt in my right leg. It wasn't pain but my leg was tightening up. Really tight! I was having trouble keeping a steady rhythm and I couldn't really lengthen my stride. Luckily, there was a 1/2 mile incline which couldn't have come at a better time. Right before mile 13 I had almost 4 min. to shorten my stride. At that point, I felt ok and I knew i would be able to finish this race. You could imagine my worries when at mile 12 I look at my watch, see a better than expected time and think that i might have to walk the rest of the race. Well I thought about my last couple of months of rehabing my leg back to running and I thought about what I could do to work this injury out. Throughout the entire race I just thought about all the good runs I had and I had several smiles when I was running just thinking about pushing hard, oh so many times. Without spoiling the finish for my blog readers, I kept checking my watch and by mile 9 I realized I was going to beat my expected time of 2 hours and in fact, I was going to go 2 hours or less. I guess I picked up the pace just in case I had to walk or slow down but when I rounded the corner at mile 13, I was so happy that I was able to get through this race. With a finishing time of 1:47, I finished 66 overall and 3rd in my age group. I am very happy with my performance and I am just moving a bit slow right now. Not in pain (thankfully) but the normal post-race, half marathon soreness which is expected. I really did push hard and to only be 8 min off my PR I am pleased. Off I go now to cheer on Karel for his crit. This morning's TT went well for Karel. He finished in around 4 minutes and 30 seconds after 12 turns, a crazy roundabout and mega inclines and declines for only 3.6K. Thanks for all the good luck wishes everyone!
Here are my splits: 8:20, 8:34, 7:53, 8:25, 8:19, 8:05, 8:01, 7:59, 7:56, 8:16, 8:12, 8:13, 7:28, 1:44 = 1:47.33

2/28/08

This could be interesting



I've been to Karel's races (and ran before he started) and Karel has came to my races (either biked before or biked to the race). A dream of mine was that Karel and I would both be racing together on the same weekend, in the same area. When we were in Georgia last summer for one of the GA cup races, I decided to race Cat 5 Women during one of Karel's road races. It was a great race (I was 3rd even though I lead the whole race!! hey, I wasn't about to draft for the 28 mile race, I'm a triathlete!) and I finished just before Karel started hi 80+ mile race. Karel and I will be heading up to Albany, GA tomorrow for the first GA cup race of the season. We both LOVE georgia and love the cycling up there (especially the mountains!). When I heard about Karel's race I did the same thing I do for all of his races that I attend...check the web for running races or triathlons. I have never found a race close to one of Karel's races (besides the 100K classic in Atlanta which I didn't do the 10K because I was still training "long" on my weekends for Kona) and I have been waiting to have a weekend where we can both race. Well, this is the weekend! Karel and I will BOTH be racing this weekend. The Snickers Half Marathon and Marathon is on Saturday March 1st and Karel will be starting his 3-stage race on sat. I will be running 13.1 miles at 7am on saturday and Karel will be warming up for the 3.6K all out prologue TT (12 turns, totally technical!) which starts around 8am. I will be running on the same roads as Karel's race sat afternoon (crit at 4:30pm) and I will be running on roads right next to the TT while he is sprinting it out for around 3 minutes. How exciting is this!! Not sure how many people can relate because some people are in relationships where there is only one athlete. That is totally fine and probably a little more relaxed than our situation. I always knew that I couldn't spend my life with someone who didn't have a similar lifestyle as me (it's fine to have different likes and passions but it is most important to share a similar healthy, active lifestyle). So when I met Karel, I knew racing, traveling and traveling to race would be in our future. So now I question myself...how is tomorrow going to play out???
Tomorrow morning we will both wake up early to warm-up. Karel on his bike as I head to the Y treadmill and then a jump in the pool. We both packed tonight so after a good complex carb breakfast (oatmeal for both of us...there is no question with that one!) we will be on the road for our 5 1/2 hour drive. In my racing world, I go to the race site EARLY and just relax. I am an awful traveler and I don't relax until I am at the race site...with my race packet. So in my mind, I need to travel 5 1/2 hours for my race (which I am not really racing, just participating and hoping to have a decent time for my first event post kona, after 6 months of dealing with my leg injury), check into the hotel (days inn baby...2 nights, less than $100!!!!), walk to the race site (Days inn but we are 1/2 mile from all the action. Both of our races are on the same road!) and pick up my packet and then try to find an outback for my ritual pre race meal of bread, sweet potato (everything on the side) and a salad (w/ the cinnamon pecans..yum!). Then to bed! Oh, it is freakin' me out already!! As for Karel, he is easy. He just takes his time (Oh, he just told me he will finish packing in the morning...errrr...hehe), stop in Jacksonville on the way to pick up some free stuff from his team (free is good, I can deal with that) and then get to the hotel when we get there. What about dinner, what about my race packet, what if the outback (that I already mapquested) is busy, what if something is wrong with our room...oh jeez. So now, two athletes who love each other, are in their own world. How will this play out? I can only imagine when Karel and I both do an Ironman together one day in the future...I think I'll plan on booking seperate rooms for that event!
I will try to keep my blog updated this weekend. here are the links to the events...

  • Georgia Cup Race


  • Snickers Half Marathon
  • 2/27/08

    I'm not a baker

    I love to cook..but I'm not a baker. I guess I'm not really a big desert fan. I've tried to play around with recipes and make deserts "healthier" but it never works. I guess you can't really make a desert healthy. Well, perhaps we are so used to rich, sugar-filled, calorie loaded deserts and therefore, it is almost impossible to find healthy deserts. And I'm not talking about a marni desert of fruit and nuts, a sugar free/fat free frozen fudge pop or sugar free/fat free pudding (I know, it is sad what Karel has to live with, hehe). You can only find so much sugar-free food before you start finding low calorie foods which are loaded with sugar alcohols and who knows what chemicals, additives and perservatives. I'm all for low sugar/high protein but I still believe the less ingrediants the better. But when it comes to deserts, I'm talking about rich breads, cakes, cookies, brownies and ice cream. You know, the real stuff. We live in a society where the yummy stuff is loaded with calories. And therefore, we see those foods as "bad, off limits, too much sugar for our training/performance and diet unfriendly". It isn't your fault that you can't have those foods! If anything, a little bit of everything is fine in moderation. I'd be lying if I told you I didn't have a little piece of a chocolate chip cookie cake that my lab partner brought to class today. :) However, it is nearly impossible to have a little of something because we are tempted by the big servings! we eat with our eyes and therefore we aren't "full" until the food is finished and cleared from the plate. Think about it, you have a snack size snickers or a medium/large snickers. If offered either one you would eat it and probably not be full regardless of size. HOwever, your craving would be satisified with either one. That goes to show you that sometimes we just need to satisfy a craving. I know it is hard to avoid all deserts but don't be afraid to create your own. And when offered deserts, don't be afraid to pick off a piece or have 1/2 of a cookie. I am a picker so if I want a desert, I will just have a little piece of everything. I will just pick off a little piece and enjoy the bite. I'm sure it is annoying to see a cookie, piece of desert with a little mouse size chunck out of it, but it is the only one I will feel satisfied without overdoing it on calories (and of course, sugar!). So I don't do it all the time but why are deserts so big? why is it that indulging food is so big and loaded with calories? Why can't we have bit size deserts? And more so..why do we always need deserts? I would say that most people know they want something sweet after dinner BEFORE eating dinner. Probably because you know that ice cream or cookie is waiting for you and therefore, your mind is telling you to crave for it. So, if that food wasn't there, you wouldn't crave it and you couldn't eat it. BUt if you know you want something which is semi healthy and within your calorie range (because you cut back on 100-200 calories at dinner) go ahead in indulge. Just be sure you are prepared for the after effect of that desert. Even if you are within your calorie guidelines and portion control, the body reacts to all food that you digest. Therefore, even if you only have 200 calorie worth of a desert and cut back on 200 calories in your dinner meal and eat within 100 calories of your daily recommendations and you exercised for 2 hours early that day...the body will still react to those calories, sugars and fats. Your performance the next day may suffer and you may find that you have trouble controlling your blood sugar and consequently, you crave everything and can't stop eating..ok, so this may be in extreme but try to combine carbs (sugars) w/ protein. So when you want that desert, have a few nuts, a glass of milk or a piece of cheese before eating that desert.
    Since i don't bake, I like to create my own deserts. Karel likes the Pillsbury low fat croissants (which come in a container, by the butters, eggs and milk) and he puts low-sugar jelly in them. I took my on spin on things and got really creative one night. First i prepared some fruit (strawberries and bananas) and melted dark chocolate w/ a little vanilla soy milk (my version of milk chocolate). I then drizzled the chocolate on the fruit. Yum! Karel licked the spoon and was heading for the bowl (before I stopped him! :) hehe.

    When the oven was heating I took the croissants (each around 90 calories before adding my ingrediants) and opened them up. I spread them with fat-free cream cheese, sliced almonds and strawberries. I got really creative on some of them by tearing the croissants in half (before baking) and rolled them w/ a little PB and chocolate no sugar added powder and raisins inside (YUM!). On the side I also french toasted two piece of bread with raisins (I french toast my bread a lot..what better than egg whites on bread..perfect protein-carb combination!). Even though I'm not a baker and not even a big desert fan (You give me bread, however, and I will be one happy camper!) I really enjoy taking the healthy foods in my place and dressing them up to make healthy deserts. Enjoy!

    2/26/08

    No More Sunday Races!!!

    Well, the studying was productive this weekend. I had one mid-term today and one more to go tomorrow (Wed). My spin class that I teach was moved up to 5:30 (from 5:45) tomorrow morning so I will have a bit more time after my spin/run to study prior to my 11:00 class. Then, my last mid-term of the week at 5:30!!! I've been studying most of the day (45 min on the treadmill at the Y this morning an another 30 min. this afternoon...just walking, no running) and I can't wait for tomorrow to be over!!!. Karel just got finished watching the Amstel Idol 2001 cycling race on DVD and now I'm taking a study break to watch Idol. I'm sure I'll be in bed early tonight. My morning swim came early today and my 4:40 am alarm came before I knew it and now, 16 hours later, I am a bit tired. I did have time to make a great dinner. Once a week Karel and I have omelette's. Tonight was omelet night...yumm! Egg beaters w/ a little mexican shredded cheese and chili flakes (I love hot food!!). I cooked fresh mushrooms, crumbled veggie meat (vegetarian night for Karel..he had his share of meat for lunch :), onions, corn and peppers w/ a little olive oil. I made a little risotto rice for karel and I had some cottage cheese. We topped off our omelets w/ salsa. Ole! Fiesta night tonight...and we were both blowing our noses and sniffling..I guess I added a bit too much chili pepper flakes :)
    So things are going well for Karel and I. Training for me...good, but the adductors are a bit sore. I want to say it is my groin (uninjured leg!!) but it only bothers me if I accelerate quickly. I took it easy after my swim today...even though Coach Matt made me do 4 x 50's on 40 seconds..ouch, that was touch and go!! And that set came after I had just finished 3 x 300 pull, swim, pull on 4:30. I think I am getting faster in the pool...that's a great feeling!
    Well, I guess I should give the update on Karel. Sat was great and his 6th place finish landed him a little money (gas $) and a great boost for sunday. The weather was perfect and the field was big! Lots of cyclists and Karel said he was ready to have a good race. Of course I am sitting at home after my 10-mile run/10 mile spin just waiting...waiting, waiting, waiting. Finally, 2 hours after I think he is going to finish I get a phone call. It goes a little something like this....
    "Hi. I have some bad news. I crashed"
    So here we go again. I expected another broken bike part and a little road rash. But another crash, two sundays in a row! Before last sunday, karel didn't crash for over 2 years!!! The only time I saw him fall was in GA when he was descending to come and get me as I was climbing one of the mountains and his front AND rear tire blew out. He flipped over into the side (kinda grassy) but he was ok. I was a little freaked! He has great bike skills and as a bike tech, his bike is always in great working condition..so why another crash? I think this crash was more like a Natasha Badmann crash..unfortunately, no one to blame the crash on but a stupid cone in the road. Although Karel can't recall much about the seconds before the crash, he said someone hit a cone and it rolled in front of him. He hit the cone and then a sandbag. Next, he flipped over his bike and landed on his head. The helmet now has a big crack in it and Karel's shoulder, back and fingers are covered in road rashes. Just a bit on the knees but mostly on his upper body. And in addition to last weekend, we are finally making use of all the bandages, neosporin and tape in our closet. Karel really hit his head hard and in addition to all his cuts and bruises, he was really dizzy after the crash....but the story doesn't stop there!!!
    Just because he stopped for a crash, the endorphins were still going. So, as you know...I am engaged to one of the most passionate, dedicated and hard-working cyclists you will ever meet (Ok-so I am a little biased). Here's a guy who would give anything to race as a Pro but a 45-hour work week and only 300+ miles/wk, training in flat Florida sometimes takes the best of him. Now that he has a powertap and a great coach (Adam Baskin--awesome coach!!), every workout is quality and worth looking back on. So, what do you think Karel did after his head-hitting, road rashing crash...up we go...back on the bike. Totally dizzy and very much out of it, Karel jumped back in the race and ended up....wait for it, wait for it...11th!!!! Holy cow!! Can you believe it??? I just don't get it!??!! That took a lot of guts and courage to get back on the bike and finish. After you crash you lose that confidence and energy which is required in racing. To make it a good thing, not only did he finish 11th but they paid 12 deep so he received a little money as well (we could use that money for a good first aid kit!). Karel said he needs to stop racing sunday's..bad lucK!! Well, I think the bad luck is behind him and there are good things to come. We are heading up to GA this weekend for the Georgia Cup Albany race. 3 stages (prologue, Crit and road race) and I know he is going to do great. Lots of big teams (Jittery Joe's will be there..yum, love that coffee!!) and great riders. I think we just need to leave FLorida for a weekend and break this curse!

    2/24/08

    Memory Slideshow

    Yesterday morning I rode Seduza. It has been 4 months since I have ridden her and it felt great! I love my road bike but I have trained and raced a lot with Seduza. I have only had her since Sept 2006 but it feels like forever! Two Ironman's and many, many, many miles. To keep me motivated during my 54 mile ride yesterday I was thinking back to all the great experiences I had with Seduza. I think a lot during my rides and instead of getting depressed about how fast I was in the past, I think about all the great things I have done in my short racing career. I truely enjoy every moment of everyone of my races and I remember almost every moment (can't help a bonking moment here and there). I absolutely love what I put into every race and because of that, I believe in ghe art (and science) of training for races and not just racing. I love training, working hard for a goal and seeing myself progress as an athlete. No matter if I am cycling, running or swimming I want to push hard and see what I am capable of. I guess my memory slideshow during my ride yesterday had me thinking that we (athletes who look back on the past, and for whatever reason, get sad or feel emotional about fastness or past performances) should take each training opportunity as a new moment to get faster, stronger and healthier. If we keep comparing ourselves to our past we will fall short on experiencing the process of training and miss the moments of seeing ourselves grow as athletes. This morning I did a 10.5 mile run and felt great. A little leg soreness during the last 1/2 mile but other than that I was zoning out and again, my 44 min. turnaround point came before I knew it. The running is a bit slow right now (average 9 min miles, run was around 1:28 w/ around 5 min. walking before and 5 min after) but I wasn't too concerned. Again, to get me through this run I started thinking. Instead of thinking about my speed or overall places at running events, I started thinking of all the fantastic experiences I have had with running. Those experiences didn't come overnight and I am the first to say that things don't come easy for me. I was never the State champion swimmer or the person who wins a race without training. I worked my butt off with swimming but never won 1st place in a big race. I have never won a race and I have never signed up for something last minute and be able to pull out a win. I work so hard just like everyone else and therefore, I am thankful for great experiences. Perhaps we should all look at experiences rather than times, places and finishes. I think deep inside it is the experience (past and future) that keeps us training hard every day.
    Enjoy the slideshow.

    After Ironman 70.3 Florida...feeling pooped but loving it!
    Before our ride around Lake Tahoe. My first ride out in another state, my first time climbing and the first time Karel and I traveled far together.

    Around we go! How beautiful!!!

    Climbing up Brasstown Bald Mountain with the Gearlink guys. 5K, 4700 feet above sea level. Average grade 11% and steepest grade of 24%. I fell on the climb UP the mountain at "the wall" but I made it up to the top. Who knows how I got down that mountain..it took me forever and I hade super hot breaks!


    Kona...there's no topping that! From getting body marked w/ my parents volunteering, to checking my bike in. Finishing that race was amazing. And even with crutches to help me walk in order to travel home and enjoy my last day in Kona...it was all worth it racing injured (Ouch!)





    Ironman Florida 2006. My first Ironman and everything went perfect. I enjoyed every moment and I had my good friend Carlos racing with me, Karel cheering me on and my parents realizing that this race was only the beginning to MANY more races to come.



    The miami maraton was my first marathon. 3 months of training paid off but I totally bonked from miles 18-22. I think this was the start of my found appreciation for sports nutrition. Oh, I hurt for 2 weeks after this race.

    The Boston Marathon was my second marathon. What an experience and ranks 1st of all-time best moments, with Kona as a close 2nd. This was the most unbelievable 26.2 mile race. There is non stop cheering of fans for the entire race and when you finish you feel like you just broke the world record. Oh, and it is freakin' hard! Heartbreak hill is only 1 of three big hills that this Florida girl, newbie runner was a little strucken by. And with 4 miles at the start being downhill, it was all worth the medal and mylar blanket (Still have!) after the race.




    And last but not least, my first triathlon. WE have to start somewhere.