Technique. We all need to work on it. Join the Bradbury Fitness team to improve yours.
Whether you’re a beginner or advanced triathlete, you can always practice and improve your technique. Join USAT All-American Mary Bradbury and 2x Olympic Trial qualifier and Team USA Champ Janet Smith-Leet and obtain the skills you need to train smarter and race faster with less effort.
This 1½ day camp will focus on skills across all 4 triathlon disciplines: swim, bike, run, and nutrition. Joining Mary and Janet will be Bradbury Fitness coach Scott Bradbury, Village CycleSport owner Vince Boyer and his team, and Runner’s High N Tri owner Mark Rouse and his team.
Dates: Saturday, March 23rd from 7 am to 4:30 pm, Sunday, March 24th from 6:30 am-2:00 pm
Location: Runner’s High n Tri, Sub 5 Performance Center, & Chicago Swim School in Arlington Heights, and Village CycleSport in Elk Grove Village
Who: Swimmers, bikers, runners, and triathletes all levels…everyone is welcome!
Bradbury Fitness Triathlon Camp Includes:
CompuTrainer bicycle session with feedback on fit, power, and technique
Hands-on bike maintenance workshop and riding skills session
Bio-mechanic run training session and group workout
Swim videotaping and analysis with specific feedback provided for each athlete
In-pool swim drills and efficiency session
Nutrition workshop conducted by dietician Amy Baltes with guidance on in-race and out of race nutrition
Expert run shoe fitting
Triathlon transition boot camp
Contact Mary Bradbury at firstname.lastname@example.org to register!
The Chicago Marathon 2012 was my 3rd marathon. Back in January of 2009 I’d run my first at the Phoenix Marathon, finishing in 3:28 and realizing that (1) marathons were very hard on me physically, and (2) I need to put “qualify for the Boston marathon” on my bucket list. I endeavored to figure out how to manage the former and target the latter by running the Chicago Marathon in 2010, thinking that the 3:20:59 or under qualifying time I needed was challenging, but attainable. October 2010 arrived, and so did a heat wave, with temps in the 80’s on race day, and that race and my qualifying attempt went right out the window as I limped home in 3:37. Just to add insult to injury, the Boston Athletic Association soon thereafter lowered the qualifying standards by 6 minutes for my age group – meaning that going forwarded I would need a 3:14:59 to qualify.
Fast forward to January, 2012. I signed up for Chicago again. Same goal in mind, same determination to qualify, but humbled and realistic in knowing that this goal was a stretch goal for me, and something that may take more work and effort that I could put together in the 9 months leading up to the race. Since Phoenix in 2009, I’d focused entirely on running, put the triathlon bike on mothballs, hung up the swim goggles, and slowly but surely rode the roller coaster of committed single-sport focus: nagging injury after nagging injury, accompanied by slowly improving times across all the lesser (5k, 10k, half-marathon) distances. I loved the simplicity of “just running,” and started to figure out how best to manage all those nagging injuries. Since the start of this year I put in 1049 miles of training, started my marathon focus in May and averaged 50+ miles a week since July. I PR’ed my 5k and 10k in September, so I was feeling good, but I still knew a 3:15 was right out on the very edge of possible, and I would need the stars to align come race day to even get close to that BQ time.
Race day this past Sunday dawned crisp and cold with temps in the 40s but not much wind at all at the start. I’d been a little under the weather in the week leading up to the race, but I woke up feeling the best I had in days. I downed a PowerBar, half a bagel and some peanut butter and drove down to the Loop and parked in the same garage off Monroe we use for Symphony parking…so things felt nice and familiar. I walked to the bag drop area where I hit the porta pottie, dumped my bag and headed over to the B corral with plenty of time to spare. I had on a thick plastic garbage bag and nylon pants that I ditched a few minutes prior to the start, and under that shorts, a short-sleeve shirt, arm warmers, and a long-sleeve shirt that I planned to ditch once I got going and warmed up. I also had gloves and a winter hat and my baseball-style running hat, but went with the baseball hat right away and shoved the winter hat in my pocket.
The gun went off at 7:30 and I got to the start line a minute and a half later, and off we went. The first mile is hard because you go through the lower Wacker tunnel, so my Garmin is not reading and giving me an accurate pace, I didn’t have any feel for how I am pacing, and it’s a little congested and squirrely up through the first turn at .7 miles. My goal pace was 7:26 and I knew I needed to start there and stay there if I was to have any chance…but I went through the first mile at 7:43 and was instantly freaked because even though I wanted to avoid the classic mistake of going out too fast, I hadn’t meant to go out that slowly. I put the hammer down a bit and went through miles 2-5 averaging 7:13’s. I’d started at the back of the corral, and worked up past the 3:25 and 3:20 pace groups until I was right up behind the 3:15 pace group, where I had planned to stay. I did not want to run with them (too crowded) but wanted to run behind them with them in sight. I felt amazing. I was working hard but it felt easy.
My cheering section was supposed to be at mile 3, but I missed them (we had a little miscommunication on which side of the road to look for them on). I had another sluggish mile at 7:37 as we wound through Lincoln Park, but rebounded again at 7:18 and 7:21 through to mile 8 when I did see Mary and the girls and the rest of the crew. Big cheers and big smiles…and it gave me a chance to ditch my gloves and winter hat.
At this point I knew I was about 30 seconds ahead of my goal pace, and I knew I should try and conserve and hold back some, but instead I surged myself up past the 3:15 pace group by a little bit – it was a big group and they were slowing and surging around the aid stations – and it was annoying me so I decided to move ahead and try to stay ahead. I was taking Gatorade and water at every aid station, but my gut was cramping a bit and I was starting to feel a little flat so took a gel at mile 12, and passed the half-way point at 1:36:44. Perfect. I was up to 45 seconds ahead now. I clicked off the next 5 miles right at 7:24 pace – steady as she goes and about 2 seconds per mile ahead of where I needed to be. I saw the cheering section again at mile 18. I took another gel.
People have asked what I thought about for those miles.
What I was thinking was “I feel amazing, but I can’t possibly keep this pace, just make it to the next mile marker and hang on as long as you can.” Passing half way is a big step because you can then start counting down the remaining miles and mentally that is a boost. At mile 20 I hit Chinatown with its surge of enthusiasm, and shortly thereafter the doldrums before the final turn north onto Michigan Avenue at mile 23 ½ . I knew that whole last stretch would be into the wind that was strengthening out of the north and that I would need to have something left in the tank in order to stay on-track and not give back the now 1:20 cushion I had built up. I was waiting for the wheels to come off at any time, but I always felt like I had a little something left in the tank…an extra gear I could go to if I needed to.
But I was starting to believe…and starting to think it was all possible, and while my legs were now feeling the effects, and I was sore and tired…that mattered less as I realized that with now only 2 miles to go, no matter what, I was not going to let this opportunity slip through my fingers.I saw the cheering section for the last time at mile 24. I ditched the arm warmers, and their yelling and enthusiasm washed over me.
I tried to tuck in and draft off of other runners around me to save energy, but did start giving back a few seconds per mile from 24-26.
Finally, off in the distance, I could see the giant American flag that they hang over the course at the final right-hand turn at mile 26. It seemed like it took a day to run that last stretch up to the turn. I kept looking up at the flag and the looking to see where the buildings on the right ended to gauge where the turn was…hoping it would just hurry up and get to me. After the turn you hit the only hill on the course. It’s only 200 meters long and really not that steep, or long, and it is stretch of road I’d tackled in other races many times before and I knew it was a final hurdle that would not be my undoing. The crowds were thick and loud and I reached the top and saw the 200 meters to go sign and took the final left-hand turn to the finish.
There is a picture in my head…a finish to this race I had played out in my mind endlessly since the 2010 Chicago Marathon. This visualization has 2 versions. In version 1 it is a picture of me turning that corner and staring down the finish straight to the finish line and then glancing down to my watch. And that watch would read 3:15:00. And I would know that I had come up short, and that on that day it was simply not meant to be. I would live to fight another day, but on that day, I had not been able to reach what I was seeking.
In version 2, it is a picture of me turning that corner and staring down the finish straight to the finish line and then glancing down to my watch. And that watch would read 3:14:00. And I would know that if I sprinted from there I would be able to cross that finish line in 50 seconds and the dream would be realized.
But on October 7, 2012, as I reached the top of the hill and took that turn, and saw that finish line, and looked at that watch, it did not read 3:15:00, it did not read 3:14:10…it read 3:13:03 and I finally knew for certain that the stars had aligned for me that day and that something I barely though possible was going to be a reality. As I passed the grandstands I fumbled to take my headphones out so I could hear the crowds and crossed the finish line in 3:13:53. Mission accomplished.
I was in disbelief, elated, just completely blown away. I always thought I could get that BQ time, but I really this would be the year to get me half-way there. I’d run a 3:20 or so, and build on this next year and try again. But a 15 minute PR? It might be possible, but I’d need the perfect race. It just turns out I had the perfect race.
My garmin file is here. Ignore the HR line – I threw my HR strap off at mile 2. It was just making me mental.
I also charted out my pace relative to my goal and have pasted that in below.
The weather helped. It was cold – mostly cloudy – not too windy. If it had been hot this probably would not have been possible. What else made the difference? It was a combination of dozens of little things. I hadn’t missed a training run all summer. Not one. I hadn’t made every time interval (just go back and read about my Bad Day) but I had put in every ounce I had into every mile. I ran in rain. I ran in storms. I ran in the middle of the night with a failing headlamp. I ran in heat…and this summer that heat was often unrelenting. I took care of my body. I did over half my miles (including 80% of my runs over 14 miles) on traiIs to soften the pounding on my legs (if you ever want to know anything about the Des Plaines River Trail – I know every inch of it from Chicago to Gurnee). I wore compression socks almost every night. I got fitted into better shoes (thanks Pom!). I ate better, and in the last week before the race I ruthlessly cut down my diet to drop another 2 pounds, knowing that I could save nearly a minute of time over the 26.2 miles per pound lost. I trained with the nutrition that I knew they’d have on the course. I stretched…I foam-rolled…a iced…I soaked…I ice bathed…and my plantar fasciitis, tight IT bands, ankle tendonitis, and hamstring strain that have forever haunted me instead slowly faded away.
I’m not an amazing physical specimen. I’m not a natural-born runner. I needed all those little things to add up to one special day…and they did.
All summer Mary and the twins put up with all this running, and the ridiculous logistics of trying to manage her training schedule, my schedule, and the kids’ schedule – but it was their encouragement and support that I thought of most during those 26.2 miles and provided endless inspiration.
On race day the cheering section was amazing: Mary, Sarah, Courtney, my mom, my sister Allison and her family (Josh, Nolan, Andrew), Aly Sander and Matt, and Mary’s cousin Martha. I felt blessed and inspired to have them out there for me cheering me on. It makes a difference to be able see and feel that support.
So it’s on to Boston, but I’m waiting until 2014. 2013 is too close. Now I’m off to find some other items for the bucket list…and also to check the results page one more time, because I keep going there and staring at it…not believing that it all really happened.
Sarah and Court are 5 1/2 and we finally decided to take them to our alma mater, the University of Illinois, to attend a football game. I was really looking forward to the weekend as I knew it would be incredibly nostalgic for me. You see, my dad graduated from here too and starting early on, my parents introduced us (my brother and me) to the fascinating world of tailgating. They would dress us up in orange and blue from head to toe and I loved it. I can even recall being decked out in an orange and blue stripped sweater and socks, with blue corduroy shorts, and penny loafers. Yep, I was cool! 😉 But what I looked forward to most from these weekends was hanging out with the Schmidt’s and Browns. (The patriarchs were fraternity brothers of my dads and Cathryn Schmidt, to this day, remains one of my very dear friends).
Unfortunately, Saturdays game had an 11am start time and we couldn’t leave until that morning, so not much tailgating for us. We arrived around 10:15am so only had time to walk by some cool parties and, of course for the girls, to play in a bouncy house for a few minutes. I’ll wrap this part up quickly and just say the game and experience for the girls was much fun. The results of the game were another story. Regardless, we will always bleed orange and blue.
Game over, more driving ensues, but only to Danville. Not a place with much to do, but Sarah and Court love any place which has a pool. So within minutes of checking into our hotel, they were fully chlorinated. And with Scott there too, I finally had some time to indulge in a book poolside, yay! After oodles of swimming, we had a hankering for some grub and we choose the best restaurant in town, Subway. The place was a bit dicey so we opted to take the food and have a picnic in our hotel room. While cleaning up and getting prepped for the race, my bike called out to me and inquired why I had neglected it that day. Holy cow! I actually forgot to work out!!! AND, my coach was with me all day too so apparently he forgot too! Well, that was a first! Being asleep by 9pm was also a first.
Having only signed up for the Boilermaker tri about a week ago, under the coaches directive, I had no idea what to expect except that it would have a large collegiate contingent. I didn’t even look at the course map until I arrived at the race, which I did about an hour before the gun went off. There was a long line for packet pick-up and by the time I got mine, they were out of caps. I found this odd since the race was small and I was pre-registered. No biggie though as I got to do a little advertising wearing my Bradbury Fitness cap. 😉
I had been dreaming of a race with low temps all season and I certainly got it. Though it surprised me some as the race had a late start time of 9am. It was still cold then, especially for the spectators as the very long, and sharp, grass (it was a field) all around the transition area was wet and cold, so all their shoes and jeans quickly became that way too. It was quite a walk to the race start so many of the athletes were complaining about not just about the cold, but walking on so much prickly grass as well.
The moments prior to the start were refreshing though. Collegiate athletes were doing their team cheers, which was fun to witness. Some of them even became earworms during my ride, which made me feel a bit younger. That was not the case at the race start though! I felt OLD there, thankfully there was a good group of us in the last wave, the 40+ers. Off we went and within 2 minutes I caught someone from the wave 2. After that, I spent the entire swim, which was about 300 yards short, weaving in, out, and around the vast majority, if not all of wave 2, and most of wave 1. Yea!
Up a slippery hill into T1, found my spot, and then fell while attempting to take off my wetsuit. I actually giggled and just kept at it. The bike leg was fun, pretty, and windy. The first girl I passed had an Illinois race kit so I said, ‘ Go Illini,’ as I went by…no response. Oh well. This bike was more fun for me than most races as I was actually picking off a lot of people and only 3 men passed me.
A good dismount into T2 and off I ran. I felt ok, but as usual, it took a good mile+ to get into a groove. Then I felt really good! Have you ever heard me say that about a run??? Yep, it’s pretty rare. (Maybe it’s because I actually forgot to work out Saturday, another first)! Anyway, as usual, I didn’t wear a watch as it messes with my head so I had no clue as to my pace or mileage. Typically I know the latter as most courses have mileage markers every mile. Not here, not one mile marker! So after running in, around, back, and forth in a brand new residential area, I headed back onto the main road and could see the finish line. A volunteer cheered me on and said I was almost done. So as I made my turn to the finish, other volunteers were directing me to run past it, go around the lake, and continue the last 2 miles. What!?! I thought it seemed short to finish, but 2 more miles?!? See what I get for not studying the race course? Bad me! I really wouldn’t have minded it as much except those last 2 were mainly on grass and uneven terrain. I was a bit disheartened as I knew I had a great run in me, one of me best, but I also knew I needed to be a bit cautious and not injure myself with Worlds 3 weeks away. So, the best part about approaching the finish line this time? My awesome sherpa, Sarah, and Court were there cheering me on and once again, the girls got to run with me the last 25 yards or so. I LOVE that!!!
Results: good swim, best bike of the season, and sound run. 1st overall female! There is orange and blue in my blood baby! 😉
Now it’s off to cheer for Scott as he’s running in the Chicago Marathon tomorrow! Go Scott Go!
It was odd coming into a race of this magnitude without having tapered. I mean there is some TOUGH competition here and I wanted to race well. But, I also had to keep perspective as the World Championships in October is my main race this season. Still, it didn’t take away from the desire to do well, really well and I was quite nervous as usual.
The first wave started at 7:30am and my age group didn’t go off until 9am! Grrr! I do not like waiting around that long, however, it actually helped me and Betsy, Bruce, and Vachee as we were able to see what not to do. There were some mighty winds and waves and several swimmers were WAY off course. Due to the rough water, some had trouble sighting, others just got shoved to the shore as they weren’t sighting enough, many were simply taxed from fighting the waves and rested on the kayaks. Sadly, one swimmer had a cardiac issue and passed away. My heart breaks for him and his family. He wasn’t newer to the sport either, he was rather experienced. Many condolences…
By the time my age group started, the waves had diminished some, but it was still quite choppy. I didn’t mind that at all, but with the odd shape of the course and difficultly sighting, as usual, I stopped 4 times to seek out the buoys and I’m glad I did. My fear was going way off course like so many others. I did ok there and didn’t do too many extra yards, but certainly could have done better.
I knew I was out of the water in 3rd at 21:46 and did my best to hold that position on the bike, to no avail. I felt pretty good, but managed to get passed by 4-5 ladies in my age group. I tried to keep up with each one of them, but I also wanted to stick to my race plan and not blow up too early and die on the run, which often happens to athletes in every race. Overall I had a mediocre bike – 3 minutes slower than last year on the exact same course.
Ugh, the dreaded hill coming out of T2 is nasty! Actually, I was somewhat looking forward to it as I remembered it well from last year and knew to not push it. I didn’t, but regardless of pace, even walking, this one would still hurt. The entire run hurt though. I tried to embrace the pain and I did, yet my breathing/wheezing didn’t allow me to push as hard as I wanted. I took my inhaler prior to the race, but perhaps I need something stronger! 😉 Regardless, I was content with my run time as it felt so much slower.
All in all, I’m not pleased with my performance. No, I’m not being hard on myself. It’s perspective as last year my bike ranked much better and I placed overall better as well. I ended up 13th in my age group versus 10th last year and 7th the year before that. (I did qualify for the World Championships next year so I’m happy about that). I’m keeping my eye on Worlds though and have faith it will all come together then!
Congrats to Vachee on racing his first Nationals and placing 6th! That qualifies him for the World Championships in London next fall! Woohoo!
The best part of the weekend? Hanging with good friends & clients (Bruce & Betsy Noxon, Mark & Kim Morgan, Stephen Ban, and Vachee Loughran), seeing old friends, fine dining, and going to the amazing swimming hole in Bolton. We bought some beverages and hung out there for a few hours, it was simply beautiful. (Google Bolten Potholes and you’ll find it). It was great to see Kari, Jen H, Griff, among others too!
A HUGE shout out and thank you to Filipics, Sangers, and Palmbergs for taking such good care of Sarah and Courtney! We could not have taken this trip without you!!! (We had some sitting coverage issues arise the day before we left so I was incredibly stressed)! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Last weekend we traveled out to Sonoma county, California so Mary could compete in the Full Vineman Aquabike. Vineman is a very cool Ironman distance race that has been around 20+ years. They are one of the few last remaining independent non-WTC races, and one of the only ones that runs an Aquabike (swim-bike) version of the race…so 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike. There is also a half-iron distance race run on the same course earlier in the year, and that is now officially a 70.3 WTC race.
We flew out Thursday and drove up from San Francisco. We rented a 1BR cottage in the hills overlooking Windsor, CA. It is right on the bike course and turned out to be a perfect place for us to stay. Friday we did a the usual registration, course recon, chill out, etc.. The race was Saturday. The swim is in the Russian River in Guernville, while T2 and the finish are all in Windsor, so Saturday morning it’s up and at ’em at 4am for the 40 minute drive over to the start.
The whole point of this race was to allow Mary an excuse to do some serious bike mileage that will serve her well at the Olympic distance world championships in New Zealand in October…that course is quite hilly and challenging on the bike and she has always responded favorably to high volume with her bike training.
This was not an ‘A’ race for her, and it has been tricky to weave in that long bike training in amongst her sort course schedule.
It was cool and overcast as Mary setup T1. The water temp was 71 degrees, so wetsuit legal. The river swim is a 2 loop up and back…the river is narrow and shallow…and they send the Aquabike waves of after everyone else…which meant lots of traffic for Mary to swim through. This actually works to her advantage, as she is amazing at working through slower traffic. At 6:45 she was off. She had amazing swim. 56 minutes, and many thought the course 2 minutes long. She was on cruise control and not pushing it one bit. Effortless. Fastest female swim of the day.
She also smoked her transition. Fastest T1 male or female. I know it’s an Ironman and therefore the importance of that time savings is reduced, but most everyone was just waltzing around and taking way too much time, even the pros. It’s free speed, people! Get your sunscreen on and go!
Out on the bike…it’s a 2 loop course that has a little bit of everything…rolling hills, flats, curves, sun, shade, good pavement, shitty pavement, and 2 fairly challenging climbs that you hit twice…the highest being at the top of Chalk Hill Road. We followed Mary around tracking her progress, and she was doing great. The goal was to average 20mph, and nail her nutrition. She definitely did the latter, but at about the 80 mile mark I could tell she was fading a bit, and she ended up averaging 19.1 or so. Nothing to sneeze at on that tough course and still one of the top 10 female times of the day.
We haven’t had good luck with the bike mechanicals this year, and at about mile 107 her right aerobar clamp broke. It was not a fatal breakdown, more an inconvenience, but it definitely cost her 2nd place overall, which she lost by just 13 seconds. Think those transition time don’t matter in Ironman? Think again. She ended up 2:30 behind the Aquabike winner…and won her age group so it was a great race and I was very proud.
Overall, it was a great learning experience, but the expected gains in her bike fitness have not materialized this year, in spite of all that training, it’s the first time that “more is more” has not turned out to be true. So next up is USAT Nationals, which we are also not tapering for at all as we turn our focus for the rest of the year to trying to get that short course speed back in time for NZ.
Vineman is a great race. It is super-well run, and the area is simply beautiful with great weather. I highly recommend it…and they give wine instead of trophies!
Coach Scott here with a report from this past weekends Shamrock Shuffle 8k in Chicago.
I’ve done this race 3 times now…it gets a little bigger every year and this year took the cake with 37,000 or so finishers. That’s a big race. The start/finish area is in downtown Chicago…same setup as the Chicago Marathon with identical start and finish lines. The weather was beautiful this year, which almost makes up for the shitty weather we’ve had every other year – in the form of snow and ice.
I think these big races are fun. It’s exciting to be part of a spectacle like that and it’s definitely competitive. The only thing I hate is the previous-day packet pickup rule. For the love of god, race directors, please give us the option to have our packets mailed. I’ll pay the extra 5 bucks. And don’t worry about the shirt, you can keep it, or donate it to charity, or make a flag out of it, whatever. Luckily our friend Amy grabbed my packet for me on Saturday, so I can’t complain one bit.
It was an 8:30am start time so I left the house at 7 o’clock. No traffic at all, so I grabbed a free parking spot on the street in the loop and walked down to the start area. I had plenty of time to check my gear at bag check and do a warm-up. The shorter the race, the longer the warm-up should be, so I got in a jog with some pick-ups, then did some strides.
I was in the A corral (I think they went from A to H), and it wasn’t too crowded, so I milled around with the masses waiting for the start. The horn sounded and off we went.
My goal was to just try and beat my time from last year…when I went 34:57, averaging 7:01 minute miles. I am not in great shape right now. I built my run fitness all through 2011 up until the Hot Chocolate 15k in November, where I peaked for the year, but then took some time off knowing that our Africa trip in February would not allow me to run hard through the winter. Plus, I needed a break, and wanted to sneak in a round of P90x over the holidays – so long story short – not much running going on for me from November to March…maybe 2 runs a week on average.
We got back from Africa 3 weeks before the race and I ramped up training as fast as I could, but I also have some plantar fasciitis I’ve been dealing with, so I was trying to be careful not to do too much, but it flared up anyway…more on that later.
With my goal to run sub 7’s I started out the first mile at 6:45, then 6:53. I felt okay, but I was working hard. By mile 2 my heart rate was pegged at 181 and stuck there. My legs were burning and I was literally on the rivet from there on out. Mile 3 went by at 6:51,then I hit mile 4 with a 6:58, so I was confident of making my goal but boy I was maxed out. I limped home in 7:06 for 34:31 total.
I beat last year by 26 seconds and I was happy about that. I was also happy that hung tough mentally and physically. My average heart rate for the race was 180, which is stoopid high for an old man like me, so I know I was giving it everything I had.
Mary and the girls met me afterwards, where we all got in some good stretching.
My plantar fasciitis didn’t bother during the race but it is still something I need to address ASAP, so I’m going to go heavy on the treatment and stay on the couch for at least a week and plan out my next move only once I feel I have things under control. Thanks for reading!
Shame on me for not getting this out earlier, but here are some quick thoughts from the Chicago Hot Chocolate 15k race from back in November.
My goal going into the race was to definitely run sub 7’s, and stretch to try and go 6:50 miles throughout.
I had two good 5ks and a solid 10k in the months prior to the race, and my training had been going quite well. I was averaging about 35 miles a week in October and had switched my training around to incorporate a good mix of long intervals (1000s to mile repeats) and speed work usually doing 200s and 400s.
Race morning dawned clear and cold. Temps in the 40s. Perfect racing weather. This race has gotten quite big, but RAM wised up this year and changed the route downtown to all city streets. No more lakefront path cluster like in 2010. The start and finish in Grant Park now match what they do with the marathon and shamrock shuffle 8k.
Race time rolls around. I hooked up with Noxons and the Morgans in the start corral about 20 yards from the line.
The gun goes off and things open up real quick. The biggest issue with running downtown is that the Garmin can’t handle the tall buildings, so there are long stretches where it’s not accurately showing me my pace. In addition, the first mile starts with the lower wacker tunnel, so I have no idea how I’m doing. I’m holding back, trying to not go out too fast, and it turns out I overdid it as I go thru the first mile marker at 7:10 or so. Oops. Too slow. I picked up the pace to hit mile 2 at 6:41. From there I calmed down and knocked out 6:55 or so for the next 6 miles. I felt pretty good. I was working hard but not losing it.
At mile 8 I kicked it in gear and finished up fast averaging 6:44 or so until the finish. Total time: 1:04:15 for a 6:53 avg pace. Considering my time in 2010 was 1:08:40 I was pleased with the improvement. I was also pleased with the negative split, even though I may could have emptied the tank a little earlier and not gone out so slow.
Afterwards it was chocolate time with the girls!
RAM racing recently got ripped for putting on a crap version of this race in Washington DC. You can read one race report from DCRainmaker here. I was not surprised. I’ve always thought RAM falters when it comes to logistics and course management. They love fancy schwag, and they love cramming tons of people onto their courses (south shore triathlon=unsafe) and constantly spout off like they are the be all end all when it comes to race management. The Chicago course this year was much improved, but they have no idea how to do start corrals properly, insist on a narrow start lane funnel, and the whole day before packet pickup? Huge pain in the ass. Nothing worse than spending 2 hours hoofing it downtown from the suburbs so I can blow 20 bucks on parking just so I can spend 10 seconds grabbing my bib. I’d gladly pay 10 extra bucks to have it mailed and happily pick up my goodie bag day of race.
Back to the race I do have one final tip. If you are wearing a gps watch in a race downtown, turn off the autolap. If the signal is going in and out and you try to autolap at 1 mile intervals you are not going to get an accurate read on your pace. You just have to look for the mile markers on the course and trust they have them measured properly and manually capture your lap times. You can see my garmin file here.
It’s fall and I feel like I’ve been fallllling, or rather failing, for a while now. My back was not feeling better so I took a one week+ hiatus from all activities including my chiro and pt care. That was about the worst week ever!!! Sometimes I couldn’t sleep as my back was throbbing with pain. It just hurt all the time. Go figure as it didn’t hurt nearly as much all summer while training. So I figured what the heck, I’ll try to jog for a few minutes. Well, I made it 20 minutes pain free and opted to stop anyway as I didn’t want to push my luck. Wa-la! It hasn’t hurt since! Now that’s magic! Swimming though is what usually aggravated it more than anything so I haven’t been in the pool in a couple months. Well, I eased into the pool this morning for a 20 minute flip-turn free very very very easy swim. Ah, like a pig in mud I was! I could not have been happier and my back was fine. I SO wanted to keep going, but knew better. Again, I didn’t want to push my luck. So here I am 8 hours later wondering about my future. My back doesn’t hurt, but it feels a little sore or something. It’ll be at least a couple more days before I try to swim again, but I may try to jog tomorrow. I HATE this lack of activity! Usually when someone gets injured there is some sort of activity they can do. Unfortunately, I am not in that boat. This thing keeps trying to beat me down, but I keep rising, I won’t let it win. I know I have to be careful with everything, not just athletics, but playing with our angels, not making sudden movements, etc. And it can be really hard to remember that when all is feeling good. Slow and steady will win this race!
So now that I can’t have an athletic goal at this time, I’ve chosen to focus on something else, something where I need some improvement, something that could very well improve my athletic performances. That thing, my readers, is nutrition. Now I’ve never had a big weight issue, thanks to my love of working out, but I gain lbs quickly as soon as I stop. My last race was at the end of August and by Oct 1st, I’d gained 9 pounds. Yes, I think it’s absolutely fine to treat yourself after a long season, but an additional 9 pounds isn’t exactly healthy for me, 3-5 would be more acceptable. This happens to me (I do it to myself) every year and I usually don’t shed it until July or August. I’ve never dieted though, I just do my workouts and in time it comes off. This year, now, I’m making a change. Clean is the name of the book I’ve been following to do a 21 day cleanse. Yes, me, the one who has been incredibly skeptical of any diet, fast, or cleanse. Diets are temporary, so those are out for me. Fasting? Well, I’ll only do those for colonoscopies. A cleanse though, I have found many reasons to do one. Losing weight is just icing on the cake. As most of you know, I’ve struggled with GI issues for some years now and it became much more pronounced last year. I was diagnosed with ischemic colitis. Fortunately, that has completely cleared up, but the GI issues remain. So this cleanse will be great way to possibly determine what foods are triggering these issues. Gluten is the obvious enemy of choice, but we’ll see when I’m done…in 13 days. I’ll slowly reintroduce it and see what happens. In the meantime, oddly, I’ve lost all 9 pounds. I suspect much of it is water weight, although I’ve been staying hydrated. I must say, the first 4 days I had a raging headache. Of course that’s to be expected when one consumes oodles of Diet Coke 4-5/times per week. I knew I was addicted to it and I knew that I couldn’t just cut down. I had to go cold turkey. I’ve only craved it a few times, but those few cravings have been really strong. I don’t care for coffee so DC is my caffeinated beverage of choice…with a sporadic Chai Tea Latte. Hmmm, what else? I hadn’t noticed, but Scott said I’ve had an abundance of energy lately. My skin looks and feels better too. Amazing what healthier eating can do! Ok, so to be nice, please don’t bring me any food, ask me to b-fast (my fav) or dinner within these next two weeks. 😉 I’ll report more later…no off to work on our big reveal. 😉
Very excited is how I felt prior to this race. My season officially ended the weekend before so this one was for fun. I really had no choice but to continue my taper last week so I was also eager to see if 1) this body could respond well to a 2 week taper 2) if this body could handle racing olympic distances back-to-back weekends. (Note, I would not have done this if my A race had been this weekend). The lack of 90 degree heat also had me thrilled. I knew high winds would be a possibility, but I’d take that over high temps any day. So, I’ll make this really short and sweet. Did the extended taper work? No! Did my body handle the back-to-back racing weeks? No! I realize the wind did hinder my performance some, as it did most of us,but there was more to it this day.
My swim was good, but my bike and run simply sucked. Ironically, I felt good on the bike and I had a great strategy. I just didn’t have the speed. The run, well that just hurt like crazy, my legs and my tummy. I can handle one, but both is much more difficult physically and mentally. My game was over. It happens and although I’m disappointed with this race, I am happy with my season. As much as we want to and think we can, we can’t race well all the time. Plus performing poorly just makes us appreciate the good races that much more. Same with everything in life right?
On the flip side, all of my athletes did really well. Some even kicked some major a** and had some of their best splits ever!!! And I need to give an extra shout out to Kim Morgan as she did the Triple Threat. She raced the super sprint Saturday morning, did the sprint distance Sunday morning, and an hour afterwards did the olympic distance and did it really really well. Three races within 24 hours! She is quite the trooper! AND people, this is one amazing woman inside and out! Congrats to you all! I’m very proud of you and proud to be your coach. Thank you for the privilege! As you know, it’s a privilege to have such a support system in this sport too. I really wouldn’t be able to accomplish everything without these major players in my life: Scott, my parents, Sandy, Kathy, Dick, Allie, Josh, Jenni, Runners High N Tri, Village CycleSport, Back to Life, my clients, and many friends as well. Thank you so incredibly much for your support and time! I appreciate it greatly!!!
USAT Nationals was my A race this year, the big kahuna. Going into it, I knew not to have a time goal since it was quite a hilly course. Time goals aren’t really something to shoot for in this sport anyhow as terrain, currents, waves, wind and weather vary, distances are often a little askew, high temps can wreak havoc, transition lengths differ, a larger number of participants can slow you down (you get stuck behind or frequently have to weave around them), etc. Anyway, my main goal was to qualify for the World Championships which will be held in New Zealand next October. A side goal was to place top 5 in my Age Group as I placed 8th last year…I accomplished one and I am happy about that, especially with the competition being SO incredibly fierce this year across the board! And Burlington, Vermont was quite the venue for this fantastic event! The area was simply beautiful, the volunteers were incredible, and the food was wonderful too! Fortunately I was able to share it all with Scott, Dick, Kathy, and 4 of my clients pictured above; Bruce Noxon, Mark & Kim Morgan, and Stephen Ban. I really enjoyed spending some quality time with them and getting to know them a little better. How lucky am I to have such wonderful people and athletes in my life?!?
Race morning was awesome as our hotel was just a few minutes walking distance from the transition area. Plus we didn’t have to be out of it until 7am, late compared to most races so I was able to stay in la la land until 6:15am!!! Upon arriving at the venue, I soon saw Mark and he looked like a ghost! The poor guy had a blown tire so you can imagine where his head was. Fortunately, super sherpa Scott had an extra wheel in our car so he saved the day. As Mark’s coach, I felt badly though as I wanted to stay with him and calm his nerves while waiting this out, but I had to stick to my routine and get a warm-up in. Luckily it all worked out. Whew! It didn’t work out so well on the swim though. My stroke and speed were fine, but my navigation skills, well, not so much. This is really nothing new for me, I certainly lack in this technique, yet it always surprises me when I go off course. From the sidelines and start, the buoys always seem to be of such magnitude. It’s totally different in the water as they usually just look like other swim caps. For 2/3 of the mile, I was good, right on course, then we had to take a big turn right into the sun. Immediately I went from seeing several caps around me to just a few splashes about 15 yards away. Where did everyone go? I always oversight (look up very frequently) so how could this be? I looked everywhere and could not locate the next buoy, just the golden sun so I stopped. Did it help? Nope! I just put my head down and went in the direction of the few splashes I could see. Some may think this smart, but no, I just ended up going way left. Of course now that I am off course I can see the next buoy! In the scheme of things, I probably didn’t lose more than 40-60 seconds, but that can cost you, especially at Nationals! Oy, this scenario can really mess with your head, but I would not allow it. I got back on course and came out of the water 2nd…again. (There is a second place curse on me as that’s position I’ve come out my previous 3 times at Nationals as well as the last 2 times at Worlds and was beat by different people every time! So weird)! At least this time I was beat by a mere 7 seconds and by a former Olympian, Susan Williams, who placed 2nd at the 2000 Olympics in triathlon.
Screaming, that’s about all my legs did the remainder of the race.
Riding several rolling and some steep hills will do that to you. I didn’t ride too hard per se, but regardless at what intensity you ride hills, it’s going to hurt. This type of course makes it really difficult to get into a groove and attempt to pace. You just do your best to ride well, but not well enough to trash your legs for the run. And this one started with a pretty steep 1/4 mile hill. Ouch! Going into the race, I had it in my head that I would chill on the hill and then get into a groove soon after. Well, that didn’t happen. I just did my best to keep moving as I was in a bit of pain. Not wearing a watch, I had no clue what pace I was going, but I would have bet my life that I was holding at least 9 min miles or slower. By mile 4, I was going to retire after this race. My legs were in knots, my stomach was a mess, and I was just praying for the finish line to hurry the heck up and show itself. Finally….it did. I tried to pick it up a notch with all the spectators at the end, but I had NOTHING left. I crossed the line, immediately found a trash can, and released some bile! Ew! Ok, now that was a first! And at least I felt a little better. 😉 The result? 10th in my AG with a spot to Worlds! As badly as my run felt, I was no where near the 9min miles I’d suspected. I did 7:20 somethings, so not bad for me at all! This is why I always tell people not to gauge their races/paces strictly by how they feel. (I’ve had one of my worst run times feeling great on a flat course too). And although my 10k time wasn’t super for me, it was pretty good for this course, as was the rest of my race.
My fastest part? The transitions! They rocked! 😉
Even better, my clients laid it on the line too! I am so proud of them and their great races!!! I have to say though, the best part of the weekend was this: What a way to end it! And, the cold water really helped with our recovery…or was that the beer? 😉 A GIGANTIC shout out to Sandy who watched the girls the entire weekend…and they were really sick! 😦 A big thank you to Dick and Kathy for making the jaunt to cheer me on! It’s much appreciated!!! Love you! Scott, you are simply the best sherpa ever! You not only coached and supported me, but you took great care of my friends/athletes! Thank you so much!!!