Monday, August 27, 2012

Yet Another Training Conundrum

I've been working on weave pole entries with Strummer this summer.  Just 3 poles in the back yard.  I was good about it for a while with multiple session each day.  The main thing we were working on was entries on the soft side since that's a big weakness for him.  He always wants to enter between poles 2 and 3.  It took him weeks but finally he was having nice, consistent, successful sessions, nailing the entry from all manner of extreme angles.

Then a few weeks went by where we didn't practice at all.  I decided to remedy that today and took Strum out for a short session this afternoon.  He had a few early successes then started going around the poles to enter with the first pole to the right of his right shoulder.  I can't recall him ever doing that before.  And he kept doing it and doing it and doing it and I don't care what Susan Garrett says I couldn't let him keep doing it and  hope he figured it out for himself because he was stuck in a loop and not trying anything different and in my experience with this dog it's best to set up for a few successful reps then end the session when this happens.  So I sent him in at a couple easy angles and called it a session.

I went back out later tonight and same thing.  This time I shot some video.  I started out with the easier angles but as soon as the angle is such that my shoulders are rotated towards him, he's going around to the wrong side.  When doing these exercises I position myself towards the weave poles such that my shoulders are facing the space between poles 1 and 2.

Yes, I know, my clicks are late and I'm throwing the ball too late so he's turning and looking to me but I've got a bigger issue here and I'm not sure where it came from or how to solve it.  Plus I'm in dire need of a hair cut.  Holy split ends.  My hair has taken a beating this summer with all the training and hair washing, sometimes twice a day.  I'll make an appointment tomorrow, I promise.

If any one has run into this and has a solution I'm all ears because this is a new one on me and I don't want to continue to have him practicing this.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Xterra Lory 2012

Xterra Lory
1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 4.8 mile run
6500' elevation, Lory State Park, Fort Collins area

Arrived at around 6:18, got great parking spot near transition.

I love this race.  Beautiful scenery, great course, well organized.

I was chilly first thing in the morning but quickly warmed up.

I couldn't figure out why the transition area was so cold since last year I remember the sun beating down.  I finally realized it was because it was way closer to the beach this year and thus shaded by the cliffs.  The water level in Horsetooth Reservoir is at record low levels due to the dry summer.  Last year the sandy beach area by the red inflatable arch was under 10' of water.

The sun just missing transition.

I was curious to see the fire damage.  The High Park Fire came into the western part of Lory but I wasn't sure how extensive the damage would be.  Thankfully the damage was minimal and probably good for the park.

Last year for comparison.  The pointy peak is the same in both photos.

I went into the race feeling maybe too rested.  Not much training between this race and Indian Peaks 3 weeks ago.  Lots of hiking and swimming, a little running, not so much biking.  But the bike course is not technical or super steep anywhere.  Lots of short gradual climbs, a couple very short steep bits but nothing I have to walk except one very short rocky, technical part, just a few steps.  The hard part about Lory is the run, a steep 2 mile climb with no shade.  I've been preparing for it all spring and summer with loops of hills and hill repeats and oh so many hills.

Swim - 1/2 mile

Water temp is 72 degrees, perfect temp. for me.  I wear my full wetsuit and I'm perfectly comfortable.  I start to have jittery, panicky feelings at the start of my swim warm-up but after a couple of minutes I can almost feel the shift in my brain, almost like a switch going off, and I feel confident again.  Such a weird sensation.  I'm fine for the rest of my warm-up.  I'm in the 4th of 7 waves and this time I'm not distracted by a moose and leave right on schedule with my wave.  Swim is really good from start to finish.  No feet to draft off of but plenty of room and I don't have to waste a lot of energy sighting.  I pass a lot of people in my wave but only one, and he's breast stroking, from the wave ahead of me.  Such a short swim and they put some extra time in between my wave and the one before so it's not a big surprise.  Waves are arranged by bike ability then swim ability rather than age group so not too many stragglers in the quicker waves.

The buoys seem to fly by but I've lost count and I'm not sure if I'm at the turn around or not.  Seems like I should be but because of the low water level we swim much further into Horsetooth than normal.  I'm swimming directly into sunlight and can't see another buoy but I do see the splashing of other swimmers up ahead and no one around me slows for the turn so I keep going.  Finally I hit the turn around and the buoys fly by again on the way back.  I love it when the swim goes well.

I hit the beach and look at my watch - 14:40!  I can't believe it, normally it would be around 16 something.  This is a pace of 1:40/100 yards and I'm very skeptical of that.  My swim time is posted as 16:47 which is when I crossed the timing mat so I'm not sure if that 880 yards includes the beach run or if the swim was just measured short.

The beach run was hilarious.  The sand was not sand so much as mud and a wet, mucky, quicksand, ankle sucking type mud at that.  I'm amazed my timing chip stayed strapped on my ankle.  I saw a guy climbing out of the water on some rocks well away from the swim exit but he got to run on dry sand and even though it was longer it was totally worth it.  Wish I had spotted that in time.  Not much I could do once I was ankle deep in muck.


Wetsuit comes off way easier this year.  I'm finally getting used to getting it off or maybe it's stretched a lot over the year.  Transition is quick-ish this year, especially since I'm wearing socks.

Bike - 12 miles

Not much to say about the bike.  I have more difficulty with people passing me this year and feel like I lose a lot more time and even worse, momentum.  Not sure why.  It's mostly people from the earlier waves passing me on their second lap.  Maybe I'm in too fast of a wave but another 5-10 minutes wouldn't have mattered much.  Doesn't seem to be much way around it with a 2 lap course.

Towards the end of my second lap I hear ambulance sirens and as I come up on a tight switchback I see an EMT heading for a woman on the ground.  I stop to let him by.  She had fallen on her hip and didn't seem to be able to move.  Hope she was o.k.  At least help got to her.

The one good take home lesson I have from this year is that I seem to lose the most time on the turns on the flat.  Lory has a lot of straight, flat, fast sections followed by random turns that you can't see ahead of time due to the long grass.  I get way ahead on the straight parts then lose too much speed on the turns and people catch me up and pass me.  I'm being particularly conservative because the trails are extra dry and loose, even sandy in places, and I don't want to hurt myself before Nationals.  But this costs me a lot of time and momentum when I have to slow or stop to let people pass.

My cyclometer reads 1:18:44, 12.6 miles.  My official bike time is 1:19:44, not sure where the extra .6 miles came from.  This means I only had a minute of stoppage time but this year I did a lot more slowing down and moving over rather than stopping.  In any case, this is 5 minutes slower than my time last year.  My cyclometer measured 12.3 miles last year and the bike course was slightly different at the end.


Helmet/bike shoes off, running shoes on, dump bottle of ice water over head and go.  The only glitch is that someone has racked their bike in my spot.  I've got the end spot on the rack, how hard is it to know that's not your spot?  Though probably the person knows fine well, they're just too lazy to put the bike in their spot.  I wish people had better manners.  If you want the good spot on the end, get there earlier.

By now it's hot and there's no debate about me carrying a spare water bottle.  This year I've got a waist pack carrier for it since last year carrying it in one hand seemed to throw me off balance too much.  I struggle with the waist pack as I start the run.  Can't seem to get it to buckle.  In my haste I'm trying to put it on backwards.  Doh.  At least I'm futzing with it while I'm running and not wasting too much time.


The water is heavy and weighing me down but I know I'm going to need it so I suck it up.  I was so hoping for the steep climb to seem easier this year.  Temps. are hot but still around 81 degrees rather than pushing 90.  Somehow I fail to notice the difference.  The climb is hot, steep and hard just like it always is.  My fellow competitors aren't helping matters.  'Whew, sure is a long climb.'  'Boy it's getting HOT.'  'This climb goes on forever.'  And so forth.  Normally I'm pretty good at turning around other people's negative suggestions but today is more challenging than normal.  Thankfully there's a guy at the top yelling words of encouragement to everybody.  He smiles when he sees me, 'Do you feel tough?'  I reply, 'Yes, tough, absolutely' and give him a thumbs up.  'Go get your downhill!'  he yells after I pass.  Yes, the downhill, that hill seemed to take forever but somehow the top has come so quickly.  So happy to see the downhill.

I don't go speeding down as quickly as I have in years past, maybe because I'm running mostly on my own.  A guy goes flying by me, jolting me out of my reverie and I remember, 'oh yeah, the race' and pick up my pace.  Some women come up behind me and I pick up my pace.  One passes but the other doesn't, putting some much needed pressure on me from behind.

I have a lot more energy for the last 1.8 miles than I normally do and for once it feels good to be running for the finish line rather than shuffling.  I even have a little bit of kick for the end but not enough to make it across the wretched Slip-n-Slide.

Photo from last year.

I get a splash from the hose and once again climb over the side to avoid the gross brown pit of doom at the end.

I feel much better at the finish then I probably ever have.  In the end my time is exactly 1:00 minute slower than last year but my run is 2:31 faster.  Doesn't seem like much but so happy to see some improvement, however small.

Once again, no vegetarian food, not even any bananas or bagels or horrible oreo cookies.  The only food is chips, salsa and fish or chicken tacos.  And the woman dishing out the chips gives me a small portion, couldn't even spare a few more given that that's all I had to eat.  Wouldn't be an issue if my car was nearby, I brought extra food, but it's back at transition, probably a good 1/2 mile or more.  So I stay just long enough to see my results then leave for most of the awards ceremony.  It's the only unfortunate thing about this race.

I end up finishing 6/10 in my age group, better than I thought I would.  I don't feel as tired after this race as I have in any other previous year.  Not sure I could have put much more into the run and I think the passing situation got the better of me on the bike this year.  Despite feeling rested I also feel a bit flat.  Four races at 3 weeks apart was a lot for me, never done anything like that before so it was an experiment.  Don't know if I'll do that next year.  Or I could train harder and get in better shape.

Next up is Nationals at Snowbasin in Utah.  So excited for that.  Will definitely get some better training in in the upcoming weeks.

Final Stats

Swim:  880 yards, 14:40 swimming/2:07 dash up the beach for official time 16:47 (last year 16:44 mins./1:54 per 100 yards)

T1: 1:56  (last year, 2:03)

Mountain Bike:  12 miles (12.6 by my cyclometer), 1:19:44/9.2 mph (last year 12.3 miles by my cyclometer, 1:14:48 hrs./9.8 mph)

T2:  1:05 (last year, 1:29)

Trail Run:  4.8 miles, 1:06:250/13:22 min./mile  (last year, 1:09:21 hrs./13:53 min./miles)
               Mile Splits:
               Mile 1:  15:09  (all uphill)
               Mile 2:  16:24  (all uphill)
               Mile 3:  13:08  (mix of uphill, flat and downhill)
               Mile 4:  10:44  (all downhill)
               Mile 4.8:  11:19  (mostly downhill, some slight uphill and flat-ish)

Total:  2:46:19  (last year, 2:45:19)

218/271 Overall  (last year, 199/273 Overall)
48/98 Women  (last year, 56/99 Women)
6/10 Age Group  (last year, 5/8 Age Group)

Swim:  5/10 Age Group, 61/98 Women, 189/273 Overall

T1:  3/10 Age Group

Bike:  6/10 Age Group, 66/98 Women, 220/273 Overall

T2:  2/10 Age Group

Run:  8/10 Age Group, 74/98 Women, 228/273 Overall

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Taper Day

Xterra Lory is tomorrow and I'm feeling nice and rested.  Maybe too rested.  Does it count as a taper if you go into it straight from recovery from your last race?  I've had maybe one hard run workout in the last 3 weeks, been on my bike only once for a short spin and managed to fall and skin my shin while straddling the bike.  I've been to the Rez and skills masters but no hard interval sessions.  The was partly due to needing to recover from the last race but also due to going on many hikes.  Hard to let summer slip by without hitting the high country for some hiking.  So tomorrow will be interesting.  I'm at least hoping for some improvement in the run.  At least it's the shortest, easiest of all my races.

And I got my invite and secret squirrel password code to register for Xterra Nationals so I don't need this race to qualify.  But a race is a race and I want to do well.  I registered for Nat's. as soon as I got the code because they were only giving me until Sept. 2 and then they were going to roll my spot down to the next person.  So now all that's left is training.  I have 4 weeks and I'll get in as much as I can manage after recovering from Lory which hopefully won't take as long as after the other races.

Spent the day feeling antsy, packing up the car, chores, letting dogs in and out for the millionth time.  So I decided to wander the 2 blocks to the end of the street to watch the USA Pro Cycling Race.  It was fun to see but I'm glad I didn't invest anything more in it than a 2 block walk.  I shot some video and almost got run over by a motorcycle.  Hope they were a little more careful with their driving to the finish up Flagstaff which had a zillion more spectators and way narrower, steep, winding roadway to pass through.

The lead breakaway pack

The main peloton

I shot a few photos of the stragglers.  The shots aren't that great but I love how they show off the hills in my neighborhood.

And speaking of pro road racing, I'm hoping upon hope that Lance Armstrong doesn't decide to enter Xterra Nationals again now that he's banned from racing or rather banned from races that USADA has jurisdiction over and I don't think Xterra falls in that category.  He's already slumming it at a low key mountain bike race in Aspen today and a running race in Aspen tomorrow.  I really really dislike him and don't want to have to deal with him and his entourage at Nationals but I guess that's all out of my hands.  I did see a good article about his fall from grace.  I'm sure there are zillions of articles but I like that one in particular.  A quote:

The most important lesson of the Lance Armstrong story, though, is the hardest to prepare for and guard against: our own gullibility and willing complicity. What is astounding and disturbing is that one man – a dominant personality as well as a dominant athlete – was able to enforce his will, isolate, bully and silence his doubters and critics, and win the world's top cycling event year after year and make people believe in him, despite there being, apparently, dozens of witnesses to its utter phoniness. Too many people had too much invested in the Lance Armstrong story, and the power of persuasion followed the money.

Actually I never liked him right from the start and was never sucked in but I think I'm in the solid minority on that one.  As far as I'm concerned his bullying, ruining of lives and careers, arrogance, use of cancer victims for his own ego and career advancement, and role in keeping drugs prevalent in road cycling are far more bothersome than the doping but I guess you can't strip someone of their titles and ban them from racing for being an asshole.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

USDAA Road Trip

Strum and I had a little road trip up to Laramie, WY for a USDAA trial.  It's only just over 2 hours away but that's far enough to warrant an overnight stay.  Unfortunately I've not had good experiences with hotels in Laramie.  Last time I paid $90 for a room in a fleabag motel and I'm pretty sure the occupant next door was dead.  I got no sleep all night thanks to the t.v. from the room next door blaring so loud and just about every cop in Laramie showed up the next morning and swarmed the door.  I got out of there before they found the body, or worse.  Apparently a lot of  the dog friendly hotels are also ridden with bedbugs.  So I decided to sleep in my Honda Element as I did 2 or 3 years ago, the last time I did 2 days of this trial.  Turned out to be the best sleep I've had in weeks, maybe months.  Overslept in fact, got up at the shockingly late hour of 6:15 and had to rush to get the car put back together so I could get to town for coffee before walk-throughs.  Though I slept so well I hardly needed the coffee but it was good anyway and I ran into lots of dog ladies at the Starbucks.  Maybe I should sleep in my car at home, I haven't had a night's sleep as good as that since I got back.

I only entered Team and Standard so I was able to leave early on the second day and it was a good decision.  By the end of our run at 2:00 I'd had enough.  We were on a nice, laid back, fun, no pressure team and we all had our Q's for Nationals.  I entered to get practice for Nationals on some USDAA Masters level courses.  Also the thought of driving all that way and spending the night just to do Starters classes was not appealing.  So glad for this decision, I loved running the more challenging courses.  We'll never get out of Starters this way but oh well.

We had a mixed bag of results, a nice run and first place in Team Gamblers, decent runs in Jumpers and Relay with only a 2 fault refusal in each, and then, ahem, the 7 point Snooker run and the heartbreaking E on the second to last obstacle in Standard.  It always hurts to have a beautiful, perfect dogwalk in Standard and then screw up somewhere else.  In the end though my team ended up with a Q and 6th place.

Strum's Standard run was beautiful except for, of course, the dogwalk.  Ugh.  We only need one more stinking Standard run to get out of Starters and it's always a bar or the dogwalk stopping us.  Oh well, we'll get it eventually.

There was a contingent of really good, fast small dogs, I think maybe came from Utah, many of them mixes.  Very fun to watch, CO has almost no small dogs in USDAA.  The ones we have are very good but it would be good if we had more but I totally understand why the wee dog contingent doesn't heart those USDAA jump heights.

Overall a fun trip considering how much I hate traveling.  Didn't like the drive but had a great time once I got there.  And I've got a list of things to work on before Nationals.  If only I could get my butt back out to the practice field.  Mornings are starting to get cooler and swimming at the Rez stops in a week or 2 so I should be able to start getting out there.  Plus Nationals will be here before I know it.

Trial Stats

Team Gamblers Q, 1st place

Team Q (DAM), 6th place

Dogwalks:  1/3 (33%) 

A-frames:  5/6 (83%)

Weave entries:  2/4 (50%)   didn't pop out at all, one entry was my fault

Knocked bars:  1 in Masters Standard, my fault, out of position for a serp.

Teeters:  5/5 (100%) I think they were all good, no naughty ones

Table: 1/1 (100%) fast, perfect table

Off courses:  2, 1 in Master Standard, out of position in same serp as the knocked bar, 1 in Snooker, shoulders were rotated the wrong way.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Strummer's Perfect Day at DOCNA

Strummer had a great day at FRAT's DOCNA trial today, getting 4/4 Q's, his first ever perfect day.  Well, sort of perfect anyway.  DOCNA doesn't ding you for refusals and you can have 12 faults and still get a Q in the North America Challenge so if your super fast Border Collie decides dogwalk contacts are for sissies you can still qualify for Championships.  And apparently you can tear past the finish jump on your way to the super fun water hose, get halfway there, come charging back into the ring and take the finish jump and still get a Q and 1st place if you're fast enough.

And somebody was fast enough.

On the one hand the courses were easy today.  On the other hand we've had 2 practices in the past 6 weeks since his July 4th trial and probably even less the 6 weeks before that.  And no trials since July 4th.  So I was extra happy with the day.  We're doing Team at USDAA next weekend and I entered one day of this trial so we could work the rust out of our gears so the easy courses were just the ticket.  We had some missed dogwalks, some refusals, a pop-out of the weave poles, an iffy teeter but no off courses, missed A-frames or knocked bars so I feel confident going into next week's trial.

We were done with our 4 runs by 2:00 p.m. and it never got horribly hot, low 80's with a nice stiff cooling breeze.  Can't complain about that in mid-August.  Seemed like there were a whole bunch of people there that I didn't know.  Don't know if they were newbies or folks who only do AKC who were branching out.  This was the case with 2 people sitting near me but not sure about the rest.  Kind of a strange atmosphere for me though.  Some people also having some not so very nice sportsmanship.  Thankfully I only heard about this and didn't hear or see it personally but still I think if you're getting bent out of shape about a placement at a small local DOCNA trial it's maybe time to take a little agility break.  Go enjoy the last few bits of summer left up on the mountains.  Or something.

I did get one run on video, Strum's North America Challenge run.  Despite the missed dogwalk this was  Q and qualifies us for DOCNA Champs in 2013 which will be in Golden again, about 40 minutes from my house.  Funny to think they haven't even had this year's Champs yet and we're already qualified for next year.  Not sure that I'll go but it's nice to know that I have the option and that I won't have to spend any more money on that expensive entry fee.

DOCNA AUG 2012 VER 2 from colliebrains on Vimeo.

Final Stats

Specialist Strategic Time Gamble Q - 2nd place

Specialist Standard Q - 3rd place

Specialist Jumpers Q - 1st place

Specialist North America Challenge Q - 3rd place (5 faults, missed dogwalk)

No titles that I'm aware of.

2/4 (50%)

4/4 (100%)

4/4- (100%), though one was iffy

Weave pole entries
4/5 - (80%), one popout near the end of the poles

Bars down

No off courses.

Several refusals.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Making Strides at the Stroke-n-Stride

I have to confess a small amount of concern after last weekend's race.  I haven't had to rest on a kayak during the swim in a race for 5 years.  And that was a similar situation with cold water, high elevation and I ran out of breath.  When I went through my hypnotherapy training I volunteered to be 'demo dog' for most of the classroom demonstrations of techniques since no one else was interested in volunteering and I was quite happy to have all my problems fixed for free.  One of things I had the instructor work on was my panic during the swim of a race and it worked great.  Aside from the work he did I have other techniques I use to calm myself and up until last weekend I'd had no problem.  On the one hand I knew it was from being out of breath at high elevation before starting the race but on the other I was still a bit concerned.

So I entered this week's Stroke-n-Stride, an informal swim/run race that Racing Underground holds every week in the summer at the Boulder Reservoir.  I'd been meaning to go to at least one anyway and the one I tried to attend was cancelled due to high bacteria levels in the Rez. 

Last night was a perfect night for a race, overcast, not too hot and no storms/lightening to shut down the swim portion.

I did the swim portion of the race as a relay last year but this was my first time doing the full race on my own.  It's a very laid back race, meant more for practice than serious racing but it's a great way for me to work on my swim race and push myself during the run.

I chose the 1500 meter swim/5 k run format which is 2 loops with a short beach run in between.  Xterra Nat's. is 1500 meters so this was perfect practice.  I don't feel like I push myself enough on the swim and since this race is so short I can test out what it feels like to push myself a bit.  I also wanted to make sure I was confident swimming in a race, getting right back on the horse so to speak before my next real race.

I warmed up with plenty of time to get my heart rate back to normal before the race start.  I was a bit worried about being too warm in my full wetsuit in 74 degree water and high 80's air temp. but in the end I was o.k.  A little warm but nowhere near overheating to a dangerous level.

The goal for the race was negative splits, meaning a faster time per lap on the swim and per mile on the run as the race progressed.

The plan was to start the swim slowly, nice steady pace to build my confidence then pick up the pace for the second lap.  I wasn't nervous at the start and maybe 1/4-1/2 way to the first buoy I realized I was fine and picked up the pace to my normal race pace.  It was very crowded and I had to sight a lot more than I'm used to which can get tiring.  Eventually I latched onto some feet and followed a woman in a yellow cap almost to the finish until she veered way off course.  I beat her out of the water but halfway across the beach she caught up to me.  I decided to walk the beach portion since running would drive my heart rate up.  Several people ran past me then stood around a bit when they got in the water, probably catching their breath, and I passed them up right away never to see them again.

I managed to catch a draft here and there on the second lap, picked up my pace and started picking people off though the crowd had thinned a lot so it was only a person here or there.  My second lap ended up 17 secs. faster than my first so I was happy with that.  But my pace was so slow, 2:01/100 yards, the slowest time I've had in a long time.  Makes me wonder if the course was long.

I got confused in transition though, went to the wrong tree and couldn't find my gear and wasted a bit of time.  I also chose to put socks on.  Didn't need them for such a short race but wanted to get the practice in for my real races where I will need them.  But this was a time suck as well.

I was surprisingly out of breath for the start of the run and I never felt like I ever really caught my breath the whole rest of the race.  I'm not used to running flat courses and since it was flat and short I felt like I needed to run as hard as I could for the whole thing.

It's an out and back course so you can see all the other people ahead of you as they double back to the finish and near the turn-around I saw someone I know from masters who swims in my lane.  We're very close in swim ability so I was surprised she was as far ahead of me as she was but I realized I had lost a bit of time in transition and sure enough looking at the final numbers she was 9 seconds ahead of me out of the water but I lost another 12 seconds to her in transition.  But now I had someone to chase and I set my mind to catching her.  In the end I couldn't quite do it but the motivation of having someone to pace off of gave me a third mile split that was 23 seconds faster than the second mile and the negative split I was hoping for.  In the end I finished 35 seconds behind her.  I was happy with the negative split and the opportunity to get a good hard run practice in.  I wasn't so thrilled with my slow 5k time but I have to remember to stop comparing myself to how I ran in my 30's.  I can see it's going to take some patience and hard work to get my running form back but this was somewhat encouraging and gives me a baseline for comparison.  I've been training by heart rate on hills so I had no idea of my run pace on a flat course.

After the race was over I hung out for a bit, chatting with my masters lane mate and my transition area neighbor who was a guy in his 60's who's doing an Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky in 2 1/2 weeks.  I'm always inspired by this, gives me hope that I'll be able to continue with racing myself.  He said he was never a runner when he was younger, took up the sport at an older age and his running kept getting better and peaked in his 50's.  Age is not an excuse.

Overall had a great time, got in some great practice, feel confident again about my swimming.  There are 2 more races left this season and hopefully I'll be able to do at least one more.  So lucky to have such a great race just a 10 minute drive away.

Final Stats

The total time doesn't add up to the splits.  Don't know why since it was chip timed but oh well, it's only 2 seconds off.  The lap and mile splits came off my watch.

Total:  1:06:30

Swim:   34:13 including beach run, 32:59 pure swimming time (2:01/100 yards)

Lap 1:  16:38
Beach Run: 1:14
Lap 2: 16:21

Transition:  1:46

Run:  30:33 (9:52 min./mile)

Mile 1:  10:02

Mile 2:  10:05

Mile 3:  9:32

Mile 0.1:  00:54 secs.

2/4 age group
23/30 female
66/88 overall

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Race photos and Olympic Coverage

Some photos from my race last weekend. 



I'm currently sitting in 5th place out of 18 in my region/age group and 13th place out of 82 in the country in my age group so it gives you an idea of how competitive my region is.  Xterra takes the top 10 in your region for Nationals and with only 3 weeks left of racing I'm going to get a spot for sure.  I moved up 2 spots with this last race but it feels a bit unearned since both women had races that they DNF'd and both had beaten me at other races so not quite the way I'd like to move up in the rankings but oh well.  I'm just happy enough to have my spot for Nat's.

Every Olympics I swear I'm not going to get sucked in.  The appalling coverage, the huge amount of commercials you have to sit through, the jingoism, the endless hours of beach volleyball and they're all doping anyway so what's the point?  But every Olympics I get sucked in anyway.  Except for the beach volleyball.  Mostly I've been falling asleep on the couch to it at night but I decided to watch the triathlon events on the replay/streaming and the Men's Triathlon turned out to be a special treat.  There were no commentators, just footage of the enitre event in all its glory with the occasional bits of close-up/slow motion shots, so cool, especially of the swim. You can hear the splashing on the swim, the crowds roaring during the bike and run and some occasional commentary when the race goes through the stadium but for the most part you get to enjoy the sights and sounds of the race in its pure form.  Beautiful shots of London too as both the multiple bike and run laps show off the beauty of the city.

Olympic style/ITU triathlon isn't my favorite because they allow drafting and it becomes a completely different race but I enjoyed watching this.  Worth a look even if you don't care for triathlon just for the experience of seeing the Olympics without the non-stop chatter of an annoying commentator rattling in your brain.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Sourdough Trail

I don't think this is exactly a great way to recover from a race but summer is so short in the high country, have to get in all the hiking I can.

Somebody was happy to hit the trails and stretch his legs.  Though he did manage to tear the pad up near one of his dew claws.

Didn't slow him down any.  Sporting the pointy up ears look.

And one up, one down.

Stick.  So fascinating.

Last time I was on this trail was 3 years ago and Cody came along.  It was one of his last hikes in the mountains.  He turned 14 last month and these days he goes on a mile loop through the neighborhood most days.  Lola can still hike but even at 11 she's a pain in the woods so she stayed home and kept Cody company.  I feel bad leaving them home but there's no point denying Strummer a nice hike.

Was going to take Strum to the practice field this morning for a quick dogwalk session despite the heat but his pad is still split a bit so he's on rest.  He's got a practice session on Friday with his Nationals teammates so he needs to be 100% by then.  And a DOCNA trial on Sunday - eeks.  We've had no practice other than backyard, 3-pole weave entries and while he's finally starting to get the entries, it doesn't feel like nearly enough prep for a trial.  Hopefully he'll heal up and we can get some good practice in before USDAA in 2 weeks.  I'm only doing Team and one standard run as practice for Nat's.  We're never going to get out of Starters but I thought the more challenging team classes would be more fun and I need to practice those types of courses for Nat's.  Strum has only ever done one Team competition and aside from that one trial with him I haven't done Team in years and years.  Should be fun but we need to start getting back into a practice groove despite the heat.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Indian Peaks Xterra or Holy Elevation Batman, Where's My Oxygen Tank

Or, 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Swim Start', or, 'So there was this moose . . . '

Indian Peaks Xterra
1000 meter/1093 yard swim
21 km/13 miles off road bike
7 km/4.3 miles off road run
9400-9646' elevation

The day before this race I was not feeling the love.  Usually I'm excited the day before a race, picking up my packet, putting my number on my bike, etc.  But instead I was tired at the very thought of a race.  It was hot and I was starting to feel the strain of races every 3 weeks.  Hard races.  In thin air on steep hills.  I've never done this many races before so I didn't know how they would effect me when I signed up.  Now I know.  I didn't even check the weather until late afternoon before the race.  Usually I start checking several days before.  And when I saw the prediction I couldn't believe it.  49 degrees for transition set-up, 55 degrees at the start of the race, a max. of probably 65 degrees during the race.  Normally I would be thrilled with these race conditions but the swim, people.  The water was 61 degrees last week and probably not much warmer this week with all the rain they've been getting up there.  Air temp. of 55 degrees plus water temp. of 61 degrees sounds like the perfect recipe for hypothermia even with a wetsuit and neoprene socks and 2 swim caps and I wonder if I can wear 2 wetsuits.

It's cold when I take the dogs out for their morning walk, the coldest it's been in months.  Cloudy, overcast.  I sit in the car contemplating not going.  I figure I may as well get my moment of 'this is stupid, what am I doing, I'm going home' over with in the driveway rather than the middle of the lake.  Oftentimes though it's socked in with clouds in Boulder and you get up to Nederland and the sun is shining, beautiful blue skies.  However as I drive up Boulder Canyon the clouds are getting thicker.  And when I turn the corner into Nederland I can't see the mountains at all.  Driving up the shelf road to Eldora is even worse, I can only see the car in front of me.  The road goes right next to the lake we'll be swimming in just before you enter the ski resort and you can't see the lake.  Then magically I turn the corner into the ski resort and there are the sunny blue skies.  So freaky but I'm not complaining.

Blue skies over the transition area

Once I get my bike racked and my stuff set up and I realize it's going to be a beautiful day, my mood shifts entirely and I finally start to feel excited for the race.  There's a chilly breeze but the sun is shining strongly and I'm sure I won't get hypothermia. 

I put a light fleece in transition just in case but I don't end up wearing it, temps. turn out perfect for both bike and run.

Down at the swim start I decide to wait until the race start to warm up since the water will be so cold.  I want to be acclimated to it when I get in for my start.  Last year I warmed up too soon and was cold again when I got back in at the start.  So the race starts and I get in the frigid 61 degree water, get the head freeze over with and after a minute or so it's not too bad, I do a quick swim out and back and it feels good and, well, you know how when your dog who never breaks his start line stay goes and breaks his start line stay say during Steeplechase and you're taken completely by surprise as he races past you and you spend the rest of the run bumbling around trying to save it?  I get back to shore and a guy is frantically pointing to the adjacent shore and there's a huge bull moose drinking from the lake, about 20-30 yards away.  I can hardly believe it, such an amazing sight!  And my camera that's up in transition may as well be on Mars.  I swim out directly in line with the moose and stop to admire him for a bit, so cool, and then I turn to swim back and realize the end of the race is almost in the water.  It's a time trial start and you're supposed to start according to your race number.  I'm number 163 and with 5 seconds between starters I figure I have 14 minutes but somehow after only 5 minutes they're at the end of the line and I've missed my start.

 Edited to add:  Stole this photo off of Facebook, sorry for no photo credit, don't know who took it.  Those cones and flags are the swim finish.

I scramble up a steep embankment to get out of the water and rush to the line, telling them I'm out of order and they say it's o.k., go ahead.  There are only maybe 2-3 people behind me.  But when I get to the shoreline I realize I'm completely out of breath, heart rate through the roof.  No way I can get in the water like this, I won't be able to breathe especially given the 9400' elevation.  So I wait for a full minute and a half until my heart rate goes down a bit, watching the race leave without me.  I halfway consider bagging it but at this point I'm too mentally committed to give up.  The minute and a half of time isn't the issue so much as the fact that now I'm on my own, no one to race with and push me along not just for the swim but for the bike and run as well.  But I eventually get in, swim a few minutes and realize I'm still gasping for air.  A kayak is paddling right next to me since I'm the last swimmer so I take advantage and hang onto the side for I don't know how long, 30 seconds, a minute?  Finally my breathing returns to normal and I finish up the swim, passing people who are doing breast stroke, back stroke, treading water, etc. but I don't think I pass any people actually swimming freestyle.  In the end my swim time isn't as tragic as I thought it would be, 22 minutes 50 seconds including the 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 minutes of down time, putting my moving pace at roughly 1:53-1:55/100 yards, a decent pace for me at such an elevation.  At least I manage to get my wetsuit off in record time with record ease even with the huge house arrest ankle monitoring bracelet timing chip.

Next there's a 650 m/711 yard dash from the lake to transition and it's a steep slog up a rocky trail to the road.  I carry my wetsuit, swim socks and gloves since I'd heard someone in transition suggesting this so that you could save time by putting them on while running to transition.  The only problem is that I've chosen full fingered gloves since I think it'll be cold and if I put these on ahead of time I'll struggle putting on my shoes, helmet, etc.  Unfortunately I figure this out too late to put the gloves back.  And of course I drop one.  Thankfully a spectator has picked it up and she jogs up the hill to give it to me as I run back down to meet her.  Thank you kind woman, whoever you are.

In transition I realize my sunglasses are messed up and I have to remove the prescription insert and re-insert it.  At this point all I can do is laugh at the comedy of errors mounting up.

I think the bike is going to be very lonely but it turns out there are a few guys left grunting their way up the steep service road at the start.  I'm following a guy up the hill and hear a voice behind yelling at us that we've missed the turn onto the trail.  I think there's usually a volunteer at that turn but not this year.  So thankful to that guy from behind, don't know how far I would have gone up that road following the other guy.

I ride in a small group of guys for the uphill parts then they drop me on a longer downhill section and I'm on my own.  I catch up to a guy with a yellow Camelbak at the uphills and he drops me on the downhills and so it goes.   I have to get off and walk at the start of the steep technical climb on the Rising Sun trail and though I'm usually able to get back on and ride the rest I'm so out of breath today with the altitude that I decide to walk for a bit until I catch my breath.  It's a point of pride that I usually ride it when so many people have to walk but I'm breathing so hard and who's going to know but me anyway.  I get out of the way to let someone ride up and as the woman passes me I hear, 'Get back on your bike!!' and I see it's my friend Melissa.  She used to race Xterra as a pro some years ago and finished 4th overall in the rankings her last year.  I know exactly 2 people doing this race and of course one of them has to pass me on one of the very few parts of the course that I walk.  I laugh.  And get back on my bike.  And when I go up Rising Sun for my second lap I stay on my bike other than one very short steep part that I can't seem to get up.

The race gets very lonely and it's hard to keep motivated to go fast so I imagine the cyclist with the yellow Camelbak in front of me and chase him down.  And occasionally I catch a glimpse of the actual real cyclist with the yellow Camelbak but then he's quickly out of sight, like he was a ghost.  On the 2nd lap I finally pass 2 people who are walking up Rising Sun and of course they pass me back on the technical single track downhill on Fatty Mills.  But I catch them up again on a steep climb near the end, first passing the guy and then the woman.  And finally on the last super steep rocky climb I pass yellow Camelbak guy who's walking up the hill.  I catch him up right at the top and he says, 'Awesome' and I thank him, wish him luck and move on.  And of course he passes me on the last downhill into transition.

Thankfully T2 goes quickly without a hitch other than my rack mate's ginormous bike lying on its side in front of my rack space.  I quickly push it out of the way and I'm able to rack my bike without losing too much time.

I'm excited for the run.  My big goal for this race is an improvement in my run.  But it's a bit tricky to measure this since the race director changed the course from last year, taking the course through the woods on a not so official trail marked with little ribbons in the trees.  Lots of twists and turns and rocks and logs to jump - fun!  I love this sort of trail running, I feel like a little kid following the winding path through the secret woods.  But I don't think it's doing much for my time.  But then I decide I don't care, so much fun.

Finally the woman I had passed on the bike catches up to me on the run and at first it seems like she screams past me at too fast of a pace for me to follow.  Then I realize she's not really going that fast and I try to keep up.  I pass her on the uphills, she passes me on the downhills and on a relatively flat-ish part of trail I fall in step behind her, letting her pull me along.  Feels so good to sit back and settle into a pace and have someone to pull me.  But then I lose her on a downhill.  This course is much more rocky and technical than the one 3 weeks ago at Mountain Champs so I can't go bombing down it like I did that other course.  I have to be more mindful of my bad knee and be careful not to fall or twist an ankle or something.  When I picked up my packet the woman passing them out had a huge brace on her leg.  I asked her what happened (I kind of recognize her from masters) and she says she fell during the run at Mountain Champs, about 20 yards from the finish line.  A guy standing next to her asks her is she crawled across the finish line anyway.  She says no, she was more worried about her body going into shock as her knee cap was several inches above where it's supposed to be.  So you can hurt yourself on the run if you're not respectful of the trail.  And you're tired and loopy from all you've already done.

I eventually catch her up again on another steep uphill.  'You must train a lot on hills', she says to me when I pass and I tell her , 'Yeah, lots of hills', because that's what I've been doing.  Hill repeats, long runs on hills, hiking on hills, all the steepy steep I can get.  She follows me through another technical part of the trail through the woods with the little bits of ribbon marking the way.  Last year I was able to follow a guy for this part but this year I'm stuck with the job of finding the trail.  There are a lot of climbs, short but oh so very steep and I'm pretty worked by the time I get to the top of the last one.  And just like at Mountain Champs she takes off as soon as we hit the downhill with maybe a little over half a mile to go and I simply can't keep up and that's the end of her.  Though she finishes quite far ahead of me distance wise she beats me by only 21 seconds because of the time trial start.  But at least she's not in my age group.

There's one last hill before the finish line but this year I'm prepared for it.  I put my head down and grunt my way up without looking to see how far is left.  Soon the finish line arrives and I'm so happy to be done.  The guy that cuts my chip off asks me how it was out there.  I say something like, 'lovely, such a nice day,' and he looks at me strangely.  'Well you're the first person that's said that', he says.  I can imagine.  This is a tough race.

Thankfully there's food for me at the finish line.  The volunteers have been guarding the pizza like prison wardens, making sure people take only 1 slice so there's some left over for the likes of me.  At first they don't even want to give me any until I tell them I've only just finished and not had any yet and then they're so happy to give me my piece, telling me to take some bagels and bananas as well.  I thank them for guarding my food for me, I'm very happy to have something to eat.

I hang around a bit for the awards ceremony.  Melissa's relay team takes 1st, of course.  She may not be racing pro anymore but she's still wicked fast and she has a pair of star teenage swimmer/runners on her team.  There's a chilly breeze though and my clothes are still wet so I have to get to the car and change before I get chills.

Unfortunately I was actually slower this year than I was last year by 2 minutes, 28 seconds, very close to the time I lost at the start and during the swim.  Oh well.  Hard to compare because the run was different.  The new run section was more technical and there was a steep hill added in.  The good news is that I did beat 2 people in my age group, one who came in about 45 minutes after me and another with a DNF.  The points I got for 5th place move me from 7th to 5th in my age group/region.  With only 3 weeks left in the qualifying period and with the chance to get points from one more race added to my score I'm certain to finish in the top 10 and get my spot at Nationals.  Xterra Lory is in 3 weeks and Nationals in 7 weeks.  A couple days of rest/recovery then it's time to hit the hills again.

As kind of a cool side note, a woman in the 50-54 age group, not a pro, came in 2nd woman overall and only 33 seconds behind the first place pro woman.  She also came in 6th woman overall at the Mountain Champs 3 weeks ago and beat 3 or 4 women pros.  They actually held up the results of the race because they thought there was some mistake somewhere.  I guess I can't use my age as an excuse.

Final Stats

Swim:  1000 m/1100 yards, about 21 mins./1:54 per 100 yards (last year 21:11 mins./1:56 per 100 yards)

650 m/711 yard Dash:  6:59 (last year, 6:45 mins.)

T1: 2:04  (last year, 1:47)

Mountain Bike:  14 miles, 1:58:48 (last year, 1:58:02 hrs./7.1 mph)

T2:  0:53 (last year, 1:07)

Trail Run:  4.3 miles, 1:01:29/14:18 min./mile  (last year, 1:02:12 hrs./15:10 min./miles for 4.1miles)

Total:  3:33:34  (last year, 3:31:06)

164/171 Overall  (last year, 195/209 Overall)
46/50 Women  (last year, 52/64 Women)
5/6 Age Group  (last year, 7/7 Age Group)

Swim:  5/7 Age Group, 46/50 Women, 157/171 Overall

Dash:  5/7 Age Group, 43/50 Women, 152/171 Overall

T1: 4/7 Age Group,  34/50  Women, 104/171 Overall

Bike:  5/7 Age Group, 43/50 Women, 160/171 Overall

T2:  1/7 (tie) Age Group, 12/50 (tie) Women, 51/171 (tie) Overall

Run:  6/7 Age Group, 45/50 Women, 162/171 Overall