Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend 2011

It was a long weekend, but a good one.  It kicked off with a swim workout after work on Friday, followed by me going to bed before 10 pm.  Exciting huh?  Why did I go to bed so early on a Friday night you might ask?  Well, because the alarm was set for 3:30 am as I was meeting a friend at 4 am to head up to Chicago to race the Soldier Field 10 miler.
Shockingly, I awoke with my alarm, met at the pre-arranged spot at 4, and made it up to Chicago to check-in and get to our starting corrals along the lake shore just to the east of Soldier Field.  The weather was decent.  Nice cool temps in the upper 50s, but one big problem (for me anyway): 100% humidity.  It wasn't raining, but if you moved fast enough (say, at 7.5 mph or so), you would pick up moisture.  Compound that with my natural sweatiness issues, and I was soaking wet as I crossed the finish line on the 50 yd line of Soldier Field.

My race time: 1:22:22 (8:14/mi pace)

So, a little faster than my half-marathon pace last month.  With just a few runs longer than 5 or 6 miles since then, I was pretty happy with that.

A few "highlights" during the race included:
  1. A number of unprepared people for a 10 mile race.  I overheard multiple conversations between miles 3 and 5 where folks were worried about not making it.  That is a bad sign when you are not even to the halfway turnaround.
  2. Two racers passed out receiving medical attention between miles 7 and 9 (I didn't say these were necessarily good highlights).
  3. The jackass in front of my jumping up to touch the finish line sign as we crossed it.  He tripped and fell.  And rolled his ankle.  It made me smile.
After the race I got in another swim workout. That pesky half-ironman is not going to train for itself after all.  On Saturday night I met some friends out for Italian food, and then we saw Bridesmaids.  Good movie by the way.

Sunday morning I woke up naturally at 6:30 and was out on my bike by 7:30.  Temps were supposed to reach 90 with humidity, so I wanted to get my miles in early.  I ended up riding south into the wind to Tuscola and back.  Turned out to be just under 50 miles with a short detour caused by some "curious" (read: evil) dogs whose owners felt it unnecessary to chain up.

Sunday afternoon we grilled at my house.  It was a pork-stravaganza with brats and hots dogs from Nick's Meats in southern MN and pork burgers from a local butcher. There was also some fruit.  And beer.  And sipping tequila from Cabo. And some German tortes, brought by a friend who just happened to be in Germany last week.

Monday was kicked off with some yard work, followed by my first swim workout of the year in the 50m outdoor pool.  It feels good to swim with the sun shining on you, and I really like how different sections of the pool have different temps based on where the sun is at in the sky.  Also, 50m is longer than 25 yards (more than twice as long for those of you who struggle with metric conversions).  Having less than half the "breaks" when you turn around at the pool wall is noticeable.  Take my word for it.

Around 12:30 I headed out on my bike to Vermillion County.  It was about 30 miles to one of my friend's parents home where we did a shrimp boil and got a farm tour.  And played bags. And wiffle ball. And drank lots of wine and beer.  Binge drinking is, after all, the most American way to honor our troops.

It was a good weekend.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Racing Against Myself

My race season was kicked off the past two Sundays with the May Madness sprint in Effingham, IL on the 15th and the Land Between the Lakes sprint+ in Albert Lea, MN on the 22nd.  Both races went well, unfortunately age group podiums don't extend to 5th place. 

I am somewhat happy to report that 1) I handily beat the 2010 version of myself in the Land Between the Lakes race by about 13 minutes in spite of the run leg of the event being lengthened by about 0.7 miles, and 2) I would have won my age group in both races if I was a chick.

Some of the less embarrassing photos from Land Between the Lakes. No pictures from May Madness as I was there by myself and find stopping to snap pictures (of myself no less) during the race increases my time considerably.

Water was surprisingly warm

Transition area was a mudhole

'Cross racers would not be impressed with my mounting ability
The dude on the right with the Zipp-equipped Orbea would catch me around mile 8

Setting a blistering pace out of the transition area

The final few hundred feet

My strong finish, 13 minutes ahead of the 2010 version of myself
I received multiple compliments on my Leinie's jersey from the volunteers in both races.  Unfortunately, neither event offered Leinenkugel's products at their aid stations.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Successful I Challenge

This was the weekend of the Illinois marathon.  Being registered for the "I Challenge", I ran in the 5K on Friday night and the half marathon on Saturday morning.  Personal records were set in both, although I am not sure it is fair to talk about PR's quite yet having done only a few 5K races in the past 4 years, and 1 pathetic half marathon last year. 

5K result: 25:36 (8:15/mi pace)
Half-marathon result: 1:49:11 (8:20/mi pace)

Considering I was just hoping to break 2 hours (or run ~9 minute miles) when I started getting ready for this in January, I am pretty happy. 

Now I just have to figure out how to run this far after a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike by August 14th.

Half-marathoners bookending the better looking relay team
I suppose now I have to start thinking about training for a full marathon.