Race Simulation Weekend #1 – Complete!

I got a tiny bit of a late start but still made it out the door before 8. I tackled the first 30 miles of my ride on my own, checking out the Sligo Creek Trail for the first time. It was really nice and there was very little traffic, which is always a big plus. I did get lost a couple times but realized early on and was able to get myself situated.

Also, I only got cat called twice in Wheaton, so I think I may have been doing something wrong?

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Eventually I found my way down into Rock Creek to meet up with D and R2 (not to be confused with R2D2) who also decided to join us. We did the standard 50 mile Potomac loop…which is starting to become pretty familiar territory for me. The rain held off until about 10 (40 for me) miles in, but then it kept up pretty much until we got back to the city. I got us lost a teeny tiny bit, but it only added about 3 miles, which actually ended up to be perfect by the time I hit the overall mileage. I must say we were pretty blessed with cool temps and the rain did a lot to keep us even cooler. It’s going to be a different story if/when it ever gets to be summer.

I stayed as faithful as possible to my instructions to stay in Zone 2, especially to keep out of the higher zones on the hills. My average overall heart rate was actually high Zone 1, but that includes the stopping, looking at the map, etc…so I think I did OK on that front.

I followed my nutrition plan pretty well. I ended up downing 5-6 bottles of Infinit (over the course of an almost 6.5 hour ride), plus two stinger waffles, a half a banana, a clif turbo shot, and a packet of cheese/peanut butter crackers I bought at the quick stop (I was really in the mood for something salty!). I took the clif shot with about 10 miles left in the ride, because my legs were feeling a bit heavy. It did the trick because I felt pretty good all the way to pulling into the driveway. All in all I felt pretty darn good for the extent of the ride! I clocked in at exactly 80.01 miles. How’s THAT for route planning?  My average moving pace was 14.5 mph. Slower than I’d like it to be but at least that included slowing down and moving through traffic. Average overall pace was slower, including stops…it is no secret that the bike is where I need to work the most in the coming weeks! Even so, I somehow only ended up hearing one recent dating story from, and a short one at that. What gives?

I dropped my bike at home, tossed back half a serving of Infinit Napalm, grabbed a water bottle, and headed out the door. I turned back about 5 minutes in to grab a clif turbo shot after realizing I had left the house without any gels and I intended to really practice that sort of thing to see how my body would react. Legs were feeling heavy but otherwise I was good to go, until about 3 miles in when I had some stomach ish (*cue dramatic music*). I thought I might be in big trouble, but I powered through, and with just a couple minutes of walking the problems dissipated and I was fine for the rest of the run. With 9 minutes running, 1 minute walking, I still averaged right on at a 10:00/mile. Happy with that. Again, it’ll likely be a different story when it gets hot…

As I was finishing the run I actually thought to myself “I feel like I could really keep going and going….” Glad I didn’t though, because look what was waiting for me when I wandered back inside…


I called my coach to give her a quick phone report on my successful race simulation. Meanwhile, she was waiting to watch her husband/my other coach pass in the process of CRUSHING Ironman Texas! He finished in 9:37, 2nd AG, and qualified for Kona! SO AWESOME!!!

Also of note – Pro Rachel Joyce (yeah Rachel power!) finished IMTX in 8:49 – 8th overall and ahead of many of the pro men! It’s majorly exciting watching so many amazing women come closer and closer to catching up with the men in this sport!

Back at the ranch it’s recovery time…don’t even pretend you aren’t jealous of my mad style.


Btw, I’m still waiting for the cicadas to arrive. These cool temps are no doubt delaying their emergence, but I think it may be time to start a cicada watch counter here on the ol’ blog, no? Today’s count: still 0….

Anyone else knocking out big workouts this weekend?

Anyone racing or following race results closely?

Race Simulation Weekend #1: Game Plan!

This weekend is my first big race simulation extravaganza!

Tonight, I swam 3500 – 6 x 500 after a 500 warmup. I was pretty worried that it was going to be super duper boring. I’ve been trying to use these long swims as a bit of meditation time…counting my strokes and getting into a zen zone. Tonight was longest so far and with long sets to boot…luckily I felt a *bit* more zen than “omg this is why people buy those silly pool mp3 players gah!” I am actually really happy with how it turned out. I managed to keep a good and consistent pace all the way through the workout.


And tomorrow is the BIG day. I’ll head out bright and early for a total of 80 miles on the bike, to be followed by an hour run. I’m going to do the first 30 miles on my own, then meet up with Miss D in Rock Creek to do the 50 mile Potomac loop together. I’ll be doing my best to keep it in Zone 2 for the whole ride, which means I will probably feel like I’m barely moving up some of those hills on River Road towards the end…because I will be barely moving up them. There is some chance of showers but we’ll ride through it unless it’s an absolute deluge, or thunder and lightning. 80 miles will be my longest ride yet, so I’m glad I’ll have a week’s worth of D’s stories about her online dating hijinx to keep me entertained.

Once we finish the loop I’ll ride across town to home, ditch the bike for a visor and water belt, and run for an hour. More precisely, run 9 minutes, then walk 1 minute.  Times 6. Yeehaw. Looking forward to seeing how I feel/hold up on the run. What? Looking forward to the end of a 7 hour workout? Yeah I am…what is wrong with me!?

Of course, the big goal for tomorrow is to make it all the way through the work out without feeling like poop. The key? Nutrition and hydration! I’ll be throwing back one bottle of Infinit per hour (I mean it!) on the bike, supplemented with a ProBar or two, a banana, and a PB&J. Yuuuuuuuummmm. Then I’ll do a gel and water on the run. Then home to a big ol’ bottle of chocolate milk, my couch, and multiple glorious Buffy eps on streaming. 

AtIYLDjCEAI8dzzHey, Buffy marathons are only appropriate after a day of badassery. And also every day.

All the while through my race simulation, I’ll be tracking one of my coaches (Mr.) kicking butt and taking names at IMTX! This (plus like a million hours due to our relative speediness differences) will be my constant mental reminder of what’s really in store for me in 11 weeks…

Any race simulation workout tips?

Anyone else still watch Buffy wayyyy too often?

Weekly Plan: May 13-19 (11 weeks to IMLP)

So last week was kind of a bust, weather-wise and therefore bike-wise. I ended up doing all three rides on the trainer due to rain or the serious threat of it. BLECH. No good. I even pounded out my long run (3.5 hours) on the trainer on Saturday morning because the forecast called for scary thunderstorms. Which of course never materialized, but I sure as heck didn’t want to end up stranded in Potomac with lightning and thunder all around. Annoying. *Grumble infinity*

I did, however, have a fantastic long run on Sunday morning. We were up in PA to celebrate my ma-in-law’s birthday so I got to try out the path in Peace Valley Park. I forgot to grab my Garmin so I ran tech-free for the first time in quite a while. Kind of nice to have a mental break from obsessing over those numbers for once. It was such a beautiful morning – sunny and perfect temperature – and I ran two peaceful 10K loops around the lake for just over 12 miles.


Weekly Total – 13 hours 52 minutes
Swim – 2 hours 50 minutes, 7400 yards
Bike – 6 hours, ~80 miles
Run – 4 hours, ~23.5 miles
Yoga – 1 hour

This week, and every week from now on, is all about the BIKE BIKE BIKE! Coaches have instructed me that IT’S GO TIME! and updated my master plan with prescribed bike distances for every weekend from here on out. It’ll be double bikes every week with the exception of races (Eagleman and the Aquabike at Rev3 Williamsburg), and race simulation workouts. Woo hoo!


And on THAT note….this weekend I’ll be knocking out my first of the two big race simulation workouts because I’ll be 10 weeks out from race day! This means a loooooong bike followed by an hour long run right off the bike. It’s gonna be all about nutrition and hydration, friends. I’m even going to draft up a nutrition plan for coach approval! I’m excited to have an excuse to try some new ProBar flavors.

For the rest of the week, I really only have one workout each day (with the exception of Thursday which is telework day so I’m doubling up). Here’s how it looks…

Monday: swim with aids
Tuesday: threshold interval bike + short off the bike run
Wednesday: 50 minute run w/strides
Thursday: swim/pull interval swim + bike w/short intervals
Friday: long race simulation swim
Saturday: big race simulation workout! 80 mile bike + 1 hour run. Ride, run, chug chocolate milk, (do not under any circumstances) repeat.
Sunday: REST

I’ll also be throwing in a couple of short strength workouts for hips/IT band.

Meanwhile, look what Hubz picked up for me at the fancy Wegman’s yesterday morning…

IMAG0455Now y’all know I’m a sucker for fancy chocolate. And see that description – “popping candy exploding in dark chocolate”? This biz has POP ROCKS IN IT. Amazing. Chocolate has evolved and it is delicious.

Were you sidelined by the weather this weekend?

Tried any fancy new chocolates lately?

Race Recap: 2013 Rock and Roll USA Half Marathon

The morning started off pretty well.  I actually hopped out of bed right at 5:30 when my alarm went off, had some standard pre-race peanut butter/banana toast and hot tea while watching a BBT rerun, and shuffled about and up and down and around the house for 20 minutes trying to make sure I had everything on me or in my gear bag that I could possibly need.  I nabbed a Car2Go and drove down to park at Hubz’s work building.  It is only about 4 blocks from the race start so I figured I’d use the nice, clean, warm bathrooms there rather than brave the port-a-potty lines.  A smart choice, it turns out.  I got a text from M that she was running late due to single tracking on the Orange line (really, Metro? bad weekend for that….) so I was on my own. 

I left the office with about 25 minutes before the starting gun – which I foolishly thought would be plenty of time.  Unfortunately, I had failed miserably at pre-race recon, and thus didn’t realize that bag check was on the opposite side of the start line and corrals from me.    I busted my hump over there and realized the bus corresponding to my last name was a full 2 blocks further, so I busted it some more.  And then it dawned on me just how SLOWLY The bag check lines were moving.  Luckily mine was moving much faster than average, but I still only got to the front a few minutes after the starting gun.  One major ding for the race organizers – the bag check was not well organized or sufficiently staffed at either the start or the finish line.  People were getting ANGRY.

Luckily, I was able to get away and jog to the general area where my corral had moved up to by that point.  I only had about 3 more minutes of standing/shuffling before my corral was released and off we went!


I LOOOOOOOVED the first 3 miles of this race!  We took off from the Washington Monument, headed down the mall toward the Lincoln Memorial, and then crossed (out and back) on the Arlington Memorial Bridge.  Such beautiful scenery and one of my favorite areas to run in the whole city.  I felt really good for these first three miles and my pace was better than I had expected (I *should* have taken this as a sign to slow down the pace just a tad, but….you know.)  The only major problem at this point was that the course was still pretty congested, but that is often to be expected early on in such large races so it was no big.  I even stopped to take a really terrible photo of the view down the mall as we were crossing back over from Virginny.


Next, we headed straight down into Rock Creek.  Cue the part of the race that sucked.  The run in Rock Creek itself was fine: wide road, pretty trees, etc.  I tried to enjoy those three miles as much as possible because I knew what was coming.  I threw back a Gu and some water around mile 5 (turns out this may have been a bad, bad idea.)

And then, the dreaded Calvert Street hill.  Right around mile 6.  As anyone who has run in the park knows well, what goes down must come back up (ew, but you know what I mean).  Calvert is one of the major ways to exit the park trail and get back into the city.  Seriously, this doesn’t even start to do it justice:

usa13-elevation-halfOf course, I knew Calvert was coming, so I paced myself as well as I could and took a very slow, long-course triathlon approach to it (i.e. walk breaks).  Still, I was spent once I got to the top and barely had the energy to enjoy the beautiful view running down across the bridge from there.  Of course, as you can see, the subsequent mile was more and more climbing up Columbia Road in Adams Morgan.

Gahhh….and all that climbing fed right into the next problem: tummy troubles.  I have experienced the occasional tummy upset on training runs and rides, but I’ve never been hit too hard during a race before.  Until now.  Starting around mile 8, I had major pain and rumblies in the tumblies set in.  I managed OK as long as I kept my heart rate fairly low and my breathing easy, which meant more and more walk breaks (especially on anything even barely resembling an incline).  This was *SO* frustrating, because my legs felt great but the rest of my body just started freaking out.  So I cranked up the mental game to keep moving forward as decidedly as possible.  Luckily around mile 10 there was a patch of port-a-potties with NO LINE, so I pulled off and stopped there.  After the pit stop, with a few more minutes of easy running, I got to feeling more normal and was able to hit a normal pace again, more or less.  I was even more annoyed because those miles 7ish-11ish were the part of the course I was most looking forward to – the part that goes through “real” DC neighborhoods, with much awesome crowd support from locals out on their front lawns.

I had planned to take another Gu around mile 10, but after the tummy trouble I wasn’t about to mess with putting anything else in my system.  I did take in a little water at mile 11, but that was it.  Although my legs still felt good and my tummy was calm again, the other stuff was still troubling me…my heart rate was higher than it should have been and breathing felt hard.  But I powered through with the help of some good music and an *absolute* resolve to finish in under 2 hours.  Which I did.  Just barely.  1:58:42.


I stumbled through the finish chute and grabbed some chocolate milk, some gatorade, and of course my medal.  I didn’t get a space blanket because I figured I would head right to bag check and quickly retrieve my sweats…foolish assumption, again.  The bag check lines were, again, REDONK:


I literally waited in line for 45 minutes to get my bag.  The first 20 minutes of which I was 100% stationary.  I haven’t the foggiest idea what the problem was.  I wasn’t in a rush since I had some time to kill while M finished up, but I was FREEZING and wanted my dang fleece!  Luckily I was stuck in line with some friendly folks so I chatted it up to make the misery pass faster.

Once I finally had my bag, I circled back around to the finish chute to wait for M to cross.  I knew she started in one of the last corrals because she wayyyy slow-estimated her finish time when she signed up.  I only had about a 10 minute wait before she texted me “Finished!”  When I found her she was like “I feel like I’m 85 years old, but I’m SO HAPPY!”  It is so fun to re-live the first race experience threw a newbie runner friend!  We then met up with M’s friend who had made her an amazing cheer squad style sign.  Look at that big smile!


Yes, I suffer from temporary conehead disease.

Of course we promptly celebrated with a delicious brunch.  As I always say, who needs chocolate milk when you can refuel with bloody mary?!

PROS of the race:

  • Parts of the course were beautiful.  
  • There was great crowd energy.  
  • Awesome bands – I even passed both a brass quintet and an a capella vocal group, not to mention the amazing and always kick butt Batala
  • Hometown pride!
  • Decent swag – the tech shirts were nice and they even had women-specific sizes for the first time this year, which I love because I don’t like tripping over my race shirts.


  • Serious organizational problems especially when it came to bag check.
  • I’m not sold on this Rock Creek park thing, which was part of the new course changes this year.
  • Some problems with finish area traffic flow.  I witnessed several folks who were very confused about their inability to get back into the finish festival after getting their bag check (undoubtedly, also after a long long wait to do so).  There was a way back but it wasn’t clear.
  • If you ask my Hubz, the course blocked off WAY too much DC traffic.  It took him 1.5 hours to drive about 4 miles to get to the darkroom.   

And, the primary lesson from this race is one I already knew but was ignoring – practice your fueling on your long workouts!  Because I hadn’t really been “training” hard on any long runs (and really hadn’t done that many long runs at all), I hadn’t practiced with Gus, gatorade, anything.  When both my legs and my digestive system are in running shape, I can handle Gus and they really do make a difference in my pace and energy.  But when I haven’t practiced with them…recipe for disaster.  Lesson learned.  And I have a feeling I’ll be trying to get friendly with some Infinit products in the near future.  And as my coach said when I told her about my race “Sh*t happens!”  She also reminded me that similar problems are almost certainly going to happen AT LEAST once during my Ironman, so it’s good to experience it and figure out how to tackle the problem.

As far as my time is concerned, I’m not thrilled, but I’m not crushed either.  I was 5 1/2 minutes slower than last year.  BUT I’ve been training hard, most of which is not speed-focused running training, and I didn’t taper, so I was far from having fresh legs.  Plus, I lost serious time to the upset stomach.  All considered, I took it happily (and moved right on to my bike workout less than 24 hours later…)

I will definitely run this race again.  It’s hard to say no to a local marathon or half.  Plus, the St. Patrick’s day scheduling makes it a super fun vibe all around…all the way to the end while you’re heading to get on the Metro to leave RFK as attendees of Shamrock Fest are emerging to begin their debauchery.  I would also consider running the full next year, depending on how other training and life considerations are going.  Maybe next year I’ll even resurrect my Four Courts tutu for the occasion!  Or a full body Green Lantern-ess costume?


C Race Zen: My Rock and Roll Half Marathon plan

Tomorrow morning I’ll be up bright and early to run the Rock and Roll USA Half Marathon.

As I am reminded every time I look at this week in my Training Peaks plan, this race is a “C” race for me.  Meaning…yeah this is a race, but honestly it’s more of a training workout than anything.  It’s important to keep it in perspective of the big picture of IM training.


Easier said than done.  Last year I hit a major PR in this race – finally cracking the 2 hour mark and blowing my prior half PR out of the water by almost 10 minutes.  That’s not going to happen this year.  Last year I was training hard for speed at the half distance…this year I’ve been logging slow run miles in the context of IM training.  Before last week’s Four Courts Four Miler, I hadn’t run a single race since … my 1/2 Iron in September.  My legs are not in the shape to be hitting running PRs.  (This explains my four miler pace of about :15/mile slower than last year – I imagine an even bigger drop for the 1/2 mary distance).

As much as I have meditated on this “C” race philosophy this past week, and tonight, I know it’s going to be a different story when the starting bell sounds tomorrow morning.  I will continue to repeat this “C” race mantra…and when it slips I’ll remind myself of the 2 hours on the trainer I have in store for me on Sunday AM (not to mention all the remaining cleaning and cooking to prep the house for book club Sunday afternoon!)  And if nothing else, I’m sure that awful Calvert St hill coming out of Rock Creek will help me slow it down…

But I’m still going to have a blast at this race.  A potentially waterlogged blast, but a blast nonetheless.  And I’ll get to celebrate with my lovely coworker M as she crosses the finish line of her first half!  I can already tell she’s totally been bit by the distance running bug, and she doesn’t even have the medal yet.  🙂

So instead of stress away like I normally would the night before a race, I had a delicious dinner out with the DC DOC crew at Ping Pong.  I even had a glass of wine.  *GASP*  Now I’m dumpling stuffed, and hitting the sack relatively early.  So buenas noches all, and happy racing!

Three Things Thursday

1. Daylight Savings Time.  Seriously cramping my early morning workout style!  I suppose the extra hour of daylight at the end of the day is nice, but I’m really hurting for it in the AM.  Sunrise at 7:15 AM just doesn’t help me for a 6:30 AM workout.  Ironman training is tiring enough – I don’t need the extra encouragement to stay in bed in the morning, nor the extra added exhaustion that comes from my body clock being so thrown off!


2.  Monetizing things that should not be monetized.  I got an email from the Rock and Roll race series yesterday advertising runner tracking for Saturday’s race (I’m running the half).  I always send out emails to my family and close friends before a big race asking them to track me.  (I like attention. A lot.)  I also like to sign up for the tracking texts/emails for myself, because I am obsessed with numbers and it’s much faster to look at a text than wait for the official results to come up on the website several beers hours later.  Plus, I’ve used tracking for years to keep tabs on and get cheering notifications for my friends when they are running important races.  In my memory, all these tracking options – be they live online, by text, or by email, have always been 100% gratis.

So you can imagine my surprise when I clicked through to the Rock and Roll site yesterday to learn that it would cost me $2.00 to track an athlete (plus $1.00 for any additional athlete).  Plus, it would cost me $5.00 just to email 5 of my closest friends and family and encourage THEM to sign up – presumably also for a charge!  Unbelievable.  Poor form, Rock and Roll.  Your races are already super expensive, and this is not helping to endear me to you.  Grr.


3.  Rain, rain, go AWAY!!!  The forecast for Saturday morning is calling for rain, rain, rain and temps in the 40s.  Yuck!  I am considering investing in one of these for the race:kelsey