Monday, July 30, 2007

Pride and The Fall

Note: I apologize for the inordinate amount of time it took to get this to y'all. Apparently, the "spam blocker robots" at Blogger thought this blog was spam. That kind of freaks me out but - thankfully, the Blogger gods have been appeased and I'm free to go on with my blogland life. Thanks for waiting - and for wanting to hear this. I can't tell you how flattered I am that there are people out their asking me to get off my butt and post - Thanks!

It was an interesting weekend in the world according to Phoenix.

As I reported on Friday, I had a VO2 Max test Friday evening and a 10K race the next morning.

The test was pretty cool. The coach, Adam Zucco, started by asking me my level of ability - to which I modestly replied "Beginner" with emphasis. He asked what races I'd done and I said I just completed a "mini-sprint". He used this info to set the test up - he chose to start with a low effort and build from there, which I was relieved with. The last thing I wanted was to crash and burn after 3 minutes in front of a room full of people. So, I got on Pyro, put the mask thingy over my face and started peddling. He confirmed that it was a very easy effort for me at the start and off we went. Every minute, he upped the effort required to complete a revolution and after 10 min. or so, I started to feel it. But not enough to drop my cadence, just enough to get my attention and get my respiration up. He asked if that was my normal cadence and I said "Yeah." He said it was at 90. Cool! Though later he said the top Iron man finishers don't touch 80. I assume he meant they had lower cadence/higher gears. Anyway, after 20 minutes, I was still going strong and Adam was making encouraging remarks about my fitness level. The one that really went to my head was "She said she did a little sprint but she didn't tell us she trained for it like she was doing Louisville." That made me blush and pedal harder. There was also a huge storm outside and I started to visualize that I was driving the rain - it was kind of a fun visualization and it kept me from slacking on the pace. Unfortunately, my storm building ability was a little too good and the power went out just before the 21:00 mark. And I had definitely not maxed out yet. Bummer. The important thing, however, was that we got my aerobic threshold, my lactate threshold, and my power output as well as some interesting metabolic information. So it was all really useful - and they didn't even charge me for the cost of the test. My aerobic zone is about where I thought it was - around 154 on the bike and, using the crude method of adding 10 beats to that, 164 on the run. My LT is 174 on the bike, estimated 184 on the run. Like Rural Girl, I'm a hummingbird. My power out put at lactate threshold is 150 watts. I don't know if that's good or bad, it is what it is. The bummer result was my metabolic data. Turns out I burn exclusively sugar - absolutely no fat. Which, of course, only requires one look at my rear end to see the truth in that. Yeah, tell me about it, I don't burn fat. Dang. He suggested I eat more protein and less carbs - especially simple sugars. My diet is relatively close to that ideal, but I know it can get better. So it will. He also theorized that I may have more fast twitch than slow twitch muscle fibers - which as I was a sprinter and long jumper as a kid makes sense. It also explains the disparity between my 5k and 10k pace as I will be getting around to in just a sec. So, especially when marathon training and next season role around, I will concentrate on more of the LSD and less of the intensity. It is in my nature to prefer the higher intensity workouts - even on longer distances. I like to burn hot. Go figure.

On to my 10k race report. I got to bed about 11:00 Friday night - after the VO2 Max test, a glass of wine and some cereal for supper. Not my usual carbo loading, sleeping, kind of optimal pre-race habit. But the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning and I felt as ready as I could be. I put on my race clothes, went upstairs for my usual pre-race oatmeal and coffee, and went to kiss Hubby goodbye only to find out he was coming along. He had thought about racing but he cracked a rib on our trip (I'll just let your imaginations run with that one for awhile) and wasn't up to running - so I thought he'd choose to sleep in rather than driving an hour to watch me run a rather impromptu race. But, he's Hubby and he was not going to miss an opportunity to cheer and take photos and generally make me feel supported and loved. That's one of the reasons I love the guy.

So, we were off. We arrived at the race 30 minutes before start, rushed through registration and got ready to rumble. I was feeling confident, even in the muggy, hot conditions, until I ran into a truck. Not figuratively. I literally ran into a truck. Lemme 'splain. As I was jogging around the parking lot, warming up, I passed a group of cyclists heading out for a ride. Part of me was salivating and wished I'd brought Pyro to ride instead of run but, alas, it was not an option. ANYWAY, as I was running by, I heard a voice say "I used to love running." I turned around to answer the voice and was only able to get out a little laugh before I ran into a pickup truck parked right in front of me. Luckily, I was only warming up. If I had been going at my full, lightening fast speed, I would've broken something. Like the truck. Thankfully, it was only my pride that was hurt. Still, it didn't bode well for the race that was about to start.

I took my place at the starting line, Big Shark Bra Top and shorts making me feel like a poser. Everyone was looking at me like I actually had game and, alas, I felt that I did not. I seeded myself just behind what I thought was the front of the pack and waited for the air horn.

When it went off, I started slow and easy, keeping 21stCenturyMom's advice to take the first two miles slow and surge from there. There were three races that were running simultaneously - the 5k which took off to the right at the start, and the 15k and 10ks which both went left. The 15k people veered off after less than a quarter of a mile and it was just us, the 10k warriors, left to battle it out on the corn-lined course. With the subtraction of the 15kers, I was surprised at the small number of people ahead of me. There was one woman that I could see and I just decided to keep her in my sights (she was pretty far ahead of me) and bide my time. I was passed by a couple of guys, one of them sounded like he was working really hard already. The hard working guy only made it to a few feet in front of me then he seemed to slow to my pace - again, I let him be and marked him for later. In the first mile, one woman passed me, Pink Chic. She was struggling, poor thing, and I knew she wasn't going to spend a lot of time in front of me. So, I let her go, and kept an eye on her. "You, chica, are mine. You are going down. But I'll let you stay in front for awhile. If that makes 'ya feel better." As you can tell, I'm totally working on my race mentality.

The first two miles felt like cake - though my heart rate stayed at 183 the whole time. Once I passed the two mile mark, I picked it up just ever so slightly. At this point, Pink Chic fell victim to my burning speed (tongue planted firmly in cheek) and I passed her. She took it hard but she stayed passed. Sorry, Pink Chic. Hard Working Dude, also known as The Dude in Black stayed ahead of me but the distance between us was getting smaller. I passed the first water stop, took a couple of sips, poured the rest and picked it up again. Before I knew it, the half way point had come and we were passing the finish line. I heard Hubby say "Go! You're half way there!!" So I went.

I passed The Dude in Black and he stayed passed. (You can see the chic that was way ahead of me in the front, yellow tank top - I was closing in)

Shortly after that, I heard her. There had been a couple of good hills on the course but I was blowing through them pretty well. We had come to the steepest hill of the course. I was feeling it, but I knew what I could handle and I knew there was plenty left in the tank. I could hear her breathing behind me but I knew surging now would do me no good. I let her go. She was a little thing with cut legs and a blue technical tank on. She was fast. As soon as she passed me and I tried to pick it up a bit more to keep her in the radar, I knew she was way faster than me. She would beat me and she would earn it. So I watched her get farther away and did not allow myself regrets. I was running my own race and that was all that mattered.

After mile 4, I removed the safety tabs. My heart rate climbed from 186, where it had been for the middle two miles to nearly 190. It. Was. On. Who it was actually on with, I'm really not sure. There was no one around except for - Yellow Tank Top Chic. The one who started so far ahead of me. I was closing on her fast - and she was struggling on yet another steep uphill. I didn't feel the hill, I just had her in my sights and I was attacking. She stopped to walk, I flew by. Another one down. Now it was just me and my watch and the last couple of miles. Unfortunately, those last miles had some killer hills. I ate each one for breakfast, promising myself that the downhill was dessert. They came and they went and I kept going. The last mile was almost all uphill and now it was starting to hurt. I was seeing fuzzy, wavy lines in front of my eyes - but I was still running and so I just kept running. I found that if I focused on the finish line, which I could see in the distance, the lines were less obvious than if I looked at the road ahead of me. So I looked at the finish line. This race was actually a wee bit over 10k, but they had considerately put a sign up at the Exactly 10k mark. It was there that I hit my stop watch. 56:40. Just over 9:00 miles - a pace thiry seconds per mile under what Runner's World says I should be able to complete a 10k in, according to my 5k PR. Not stellar. But not too bad for a former 12 minute miler. It was OK with me and it was the best that I could do on that day. The finish line was really close now, so I started to sprint. I'm not sure how I did, but I did. I ran like a bear was chasing me until I crossed the line.

Then I collapsed in the grass and tried to get out the words "How many women in front of me?" Hubby, who speaks Gasp, said he wasn't sure because a few 5kers were crossing just before I came in. So I waited for the awards. Crazy enough, I took second out of six in my age group. Crazier than that, though they only gave out age group medals, I was third woman overall. Lemme say that again. Third Place Female. Overall. Never, in a million, zillion years, when I was slogging out the miles pushing Boy Genius in a baby stroller and bemoaning how incredibly slow I was, did I ever think I would place Third Overall in a 10k. Even a small one, like this was. Even one with a lot of other slow women, like this one. Never in a million zillion years.

To temper the incredible pride that came before, Lady Tri was kind enough to send a fall. In the form of an endo. Thankfully, an endo onto the grass, so I wasn't hurt. It was a beautiful full somersault which ended with me in a pile and Pyro as the Cake Topper. I was tired. I had just climbed a hill- a hill that came at the end of a 2 hour, 27 mile, hilly ride. My legs were trashed from the 10k the day before. I was almost home. Almost home meaning, I was right in front of my house. I hit a curb. Thankfully, nobody saw. Or, if they did, they were kind enough not to let me know. So I got a healthy dose of both Triathlon Vitamins this weekend. Pride and Humility. Its all good.


21stCenturyMom said...

Humility? How about "I am the master of understatement". How about "I am WAY too humble for my own good". How about "I ROCKED THAT 10K!"

Yeah - that's more like it.

Stud! Total Stud!


21stCenturyMom said...

ps - if you hadn't listened to me you probably would have come in first. Never listen to me again :-)

Tom said...

Fantastic race! "Never in a million zillion years." Ha! And there you were. I've had plenty of those triathlon vitamins you speak of. I hope you don't ever get a dose of bike crash. Been there. Not fun.

Tom said...

Oh wait, you and Pyro did leave the pavement. Just don't do it during a race, like me.

Phoenix said...

Yeah, we were airborne. But we had a soft landing - me on the grass, she on me. It was a pretty cheap endo. I hope I don't do that in a race. That would be . . . bad.

Bolder said...

great 10K! podium finish -- did i miss the words PR!! we, never leave those out...


really enjoyed reading your race report... it was like being inside your brain for 10 kilometers!

what am i gonna do with you? rubber side down!... yeesh, what did poor pyro evah do to you!

Tryan said...

Congrats on the podium. 9 per is awesome.

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

Woo Hoo! You are frickin' Awesome!

aren't Endos fun? Wait - no. Not really. But that 3rd female overall business? KILLER!

jeanne said...

holy cripes what a story!!!! congratulations! you're amazing! it's shock and awe time. you shocked 'em and then you DESTROYED 'em!

my hero!

Jane said...

WOW! Let me call you Speedy from now on. Great report; I like all the details as you went along.

Donald said...

I think you've already won more AG and overall awards than I ever have. I'm not buying this "newbie runner" bit much longer.

Dying Water Buffalo said...

! fkn awesome, woman!

what an awesome race, and a great writeup. Love it! :) and that last picture is a classic.

Vickie said...

Congrats! Sorry I am behind on my blog reading, but I already knew the outcome! I always love to read between the lines though! You don't know your own strength. You have much potential yet to experience. But you are a beginner. (that could be a fortune cookie prophesy). Can't wait for the sequel!

No Wetsuit Girl... overseas! said...

Congratulations! With all these successes you're going to get cocky before you know it! What ARE those triathlon vitamins anyway? Something that would get you kicked out of the Tour de France?

You ran into a truck? That sounds like something I would do!