19 May 2009

An embarrassing confession

The weekend recap:

I officiated for the Columbia Triathlon on Sunday, so I had to adjust my weekend workout plans. Normally my long run is on Saturday, and the long ride is on Sunday. This weekend called for an 18 mile run, and a 100 mile bike. Due to the race Sunday though, I was forced to skip riding with my awesome teammates.

Except, some of my awesome teammates also needed to do their ride on Saturday. I took a group down to Prince William Forest (thanks again, Ray!). Tony and I went down early, since he had a 3 hour ride with some threshold work. He figured he'd do his threshold work trying to keep up with me on a loop. I don't know when I got the reputation of being "fast", but I digress. After a nice loop, we met up with the others who had to skip their ride. We rode the out and back to the visitors center for a quick trip to the bathroom, and then continued on our way. I kept dropping back to chat with everyone to make sure life was good, figuring I'd get my solid workout after the 40 miler's were heading home. I looked ahead, and watched Jackie go down all of the sudden. Not a major crash, more like slowly veered into the grass and fell over. Once I reached her, it turned out her chain dropped and then locked up in her triple. So, I taught her how to get it undone (which, came in handy when she raced Columbia the next day and dropped her chain!), and we continued off to the visitors center for another quick stop, since Jen's cleat was acting up. That's when the following conversation took place:

Teammate: ... How come no one makes fun of you? You're riding with long dangly earrings, hot pink nails, and yet you're a badass rider and had no issues fixing a greasy chain. Seriously.... how do you not get made fun of?
Me: uhhh. Good question.

So. My embarrassing confession: I'm occasionally girly. When I'm not blowing snot rockets, spitting up sports drink, covered in sweat and road grime, I'm kinda girly. Not overly, but I wear long dangly earrings, and I paint my nails. The hot pink nails were just to see if I could stand it (which, I can't... I usually paint them a darker red, navy, or gray). There. There first step is admitting I have a problem.

Continued the ride, stopping to teach Andrea how to fix her chain when she dropped hers as well. The girls left, and Tony and I did another loop. I wasn't really in the groove of the ride, so I decided since he was leaving, I'd go ahead and head out too.. I'd just finish my ride on the trainer, and then head out for an uber-long brick. About 5 minutes onto I-95 and guilt washed over me... so I turned around and went back to the park to finish my ride. Got in some miles on the feet after the ride, and called it a day.

I was up early on Sunday to drive up to officiate for the Columbia Triathlon. The day started off cold, windy, and misting. I've worked a few times under the head official, and apparently she likes me, because I was assigned to the Pro's in transition. Suddenly, waking up at 3:15 was totally worth it - nothing like seeing a bunch of hot guys in spandex with insanely nice bikes first thing in the morning. All of the pro's were EXTREMELY friendly, well, with the exception of 1 who was a complete tool and threw a fit because I wouldn't let him move his bike to another rack. Met fellow DC blogger Lesser is More,while he was doing his first officiating race (though I don't think I ever introduced myself regarding my blog - so.. hi!) I was the first official out after the Pro's on the motorcycle, and then came back in after a loop on the course to grab my mountain bike to head out on the run course. Its been a hot minute since I've been on my mountain bike - it needs some work in the shifters, and wow, did it feel heavy. 34 pounds vs my road bike that is around 18... HUGE difference. Stuck around after for a while, and one of the Pro's came up to thank me for officiating... He and I ended up talking for about an hour and half after we took our bikes up to the cars. Awesome guy, and he gave me a lot of suggestions to implement into my training. I'll see him up at Placid.. though he might be done with the race before I'm at mile 3 of the run.

This weekend is a huge training weekend up at Placid. Pictures to follow... Gina dared me to swim, so that means I'm getting in for a brisk swim in Mirror Lake. Needless to say, I'll be packing the wetsuit. :)

14 May 2009

Sports Photography.

First, the pictures from Kinetic Half (kindly lifted from TriDuo):

I look like I *might* fall over... Clipping in up the first hill. Good thing they got a clear shot of the rest of the sky, and not my tires.

Somewhere on the bike route.

Heading back into the park. Happy to be almost off my bike.
Probably one of the best pictures of myself I've seen in races lately...
Bike's in view, you can almost tell what I'm riding..

WTF am I doing?? I look like an albino Stevie Wonder running.
Race Photogs: WTF. I'm not moving that fast at this point... and this is the best moment you can capture?
Again, no need for the bottom of the SUBJECT here, but the trees in the top are pretty nice.

Finish line. It looks like we are doing some version of a 3-legged race.
I'd like to submit this to Steve in a Speedo - I got you beat with 3 pirates in 1 picture.

Interesting selection of pictures. I don't remember seeing photographers with the exception of the third bike picture... I really do just smile that much while racing.

Race photography has been the subject of many debates: Why do they charge so much? Why are the pictures terrible? Why do they pick the worst locations? Again, WHY are they, on average, $30 a picture?! I'd like to address some things regarding race photography, based on my experience as an actual paid photographer... (I can send you some examples of my work, if you'd like).

Cost: The biggest gripe about race photos is the cost. $30 for a picture. I understand this seems like a lot, however its likely that the photog's only made around $1200 for the day (3 cameras at $400 for the day). In the photography world, this isn't much. So, they rely on sales to increase the profit once labor to upload/sort the photos is factored in. But in reality, how many people buy pictures @$30/shot. At least digital downloads have slowly become more common - though I've seen prices for them hover around $15, and no volume discount for multiple images.

Quality: No matter how cheap though, no one is going to buy a crappy picture. Its just not going to happen. Lets take for example my pictures in the above race. The first shot on the bike is crap. The "subject" of the picture is half cut off. Fail. Don't even upload this to the site. The second and third pictures are of decent quality... I can't complain too much. I'd love to see more photographers get complete side shots of the racers on the bikes, such as the one to the right. It's much more appealing to see the side angle of the rider on the bike than a front shot of us hunched over with a knee in chest. Take a picture with some woods or something nice in the background. If I had a race picture of me from a side view instead of head on.. I'd most likely buy it and send it to my mom. She collects those things, and it would look more "artsy"... On the run, it shouldn't be too hard to do the same thing, as we're moving at a quarter of the speed on the bike. Maybe 1 head on, 1 side view would be ideal.

Location: Directly in line with quality comes location. I'm not sure who told the photogs that setting up on the exit of transition, when your subject is fumbling to get situated on their bike going 8 mph is a GREAT location to get some bad ass race pictures.. but they lied to you. Nor is the corner where we turn to head back in, have slowed down, are sitting up, etc etc. Find a place where the runners aren't totally clogged up together (often at the beginning of the run), and never ever sit at the very beginning or the turn of a bike. We're slowing for the turn.. not too focused on "dropping the hammer" on the bike.

3 things that are easy to fix, and yet time and time again, I see these big race photog companies failing miserably at doing their job. They cannot possibly look at their pictures and say "wow, we captured AMAZING pictures". Looking at the pictures, I would much rather see a race contact a local high school with a photography class, offer 10 students $100 for the day, and set them out along the course. Have all photos uploaded to a single site (Use Snapfish, Google Pictures, whatever), based on location and time stamps... Racers know about what time they passed XX mile marker. All picture free for download, students are allowed to use their shots for portfolios. Sure, the first few pictures might suck, but they'll get used to it with 200+ people to practice on. Alternate options include enlisting the handywork of a family member, friend, or random stranger you pay $30.. I guarantee you will get better results than what is often captured by the race photographer.

11 May 2009

Kinetic Half Iron Race Report

Kinetic Triathlon (Half-Iron Distance)
Swim: 36.52
Bike: 3:33(15.8 mph)
Run: 2:41 (~12 minute miles)

• Ensure Banana Crème Shake
• Banana
• 3 Endurolytes

This was my first half-iron race, and intimidation doesn’t fully describe my feelings as I finished my in-water warmup. I was very unsure of how to “race” the day, but figured the best was to go slow and finish with a smile. Coach said it was a “training rac
e”, and not to go out too hard since Mooseman I supposed to be my A race prior to IMLP. I was in the second wave, and the gun went off at 7:03. The water was very murky, and I couldn’t see feet until I was practically on top of them. I settled in to my own space, and kept it very slow. I wanted to swim faster, but I decided to cut almost all kicking (which I am a very strong kicker), since I had a long day ahead of me. Kinetic is a two loop course which includes getting out, running across the beach, and then back into the water. My first loop was lethargic feeling to me, and when I felt good coming out of the water and was surrounded by blue caps (M 34-Under) from the previous wave, I figured I couldn’t be too far off. I turned up the second loop, but still refrained from kicking very much. Never felt like my heart rate went up, which was my initial plan.

Swim Total: 36.52 (42/105 Women)

The bike for Kinetic holds a slightly more rolling terrain on its two-loop course than expected. After a 3 minute transition (double checked everything I did – didn’t want to forget something), I climbed out of the park. I settled into a low heart rate and kept smiling. I knew I needed to nail my nutrition in order to have a successful day, and I didn’t want to go out too hard and not be able to digest well. I started out with a great pace, and stayed aero for about 95% of the ride. Aside from the pollen which felt like rocks in my eyes, the ride was beautiful. Never too hot, good roads for most of the race. I had a few issues with traffic on the roads that didn’t know how to pass cyclists, which caused multiple times of having to slam on my brakes both on descents and ascents. I wasn’t happy with the traffic situation, but there was nothing I could do to change it, so I pedaled on. Around mile 30, I whipped out my Uncrustable for the best snack of the day. It tasted like heaven in between to smashed pieces of extremely processed bread. I must have looked like I was enjoying it, because as a pretty fast looking guy passed me, he sat up, tapped his brakes to fall back with me, and asked me what I was eating. I sat up from my lounging aero position, chatted with him for a few minutes, and he was envious.. he’s bringing one for his next race. Around mile 40, I ran into a long line of horses, probably about 10-12. I heard something about a horse show in the area, and a group must have been out for a ride. It made things interesting – riding along with horses being freaked out by bikes/traffic on my right, and traffic being freaked out by the cyclists/horses. Bad combination, but I made it out without hitting either. I did ask one particularly hot guy (cowboy?) if I could have his extra horse for a little while. He laughed, not realizing by that point, I was slightly serious. Finished the bike, managing to avoid any incidents with people failing to know how to operate bottle hand offs. Please people, learn to grab a bottle properly, and don’t just spray it in your aerobottle then chuck it DIRECTLY behind you, nearly hitting me.

Bike Nutrition:
• 2 complete Speedfil’s of water (80 oz total)
• 2 package of Strawberry Clif Blocks, eating 2 every 20 minutes for the first two hours
• 1 bottle of on-course Heed (since I walked out and forgot my Heed. So much for the packing list..)
• 1 Grape Uncrustable
• 1 package of Black Cherry w/caffeine Shot Blocks
• 1 Gu Roctane

Bike Nutrition Totals:
• Calories: 1000 (281 per hour)
• Carbs: 218g (61g per hour)
• Sugar: 89g (25g per hour)
• Sodium: 1324mg (372mg per hour)
• Caffeine: 120mg (33g per hour)

BIKE TOTALS: 3:33 – 15.8 mph (76/105 Women)

I felt great coming into transition, however the first 2 miles weren’t in complete agreement. I clearly need to do many more brick workouts, as my legs thought it was time to go get a beer with the teammates or take a nap, and not run a half marathon. I used my Xtenex laces, and had no issues for the entire run - I'll be finishing up my review sometime this week. The day was heating up rapidly, and after looking at the weather online later in the day, the real-feel temperature was over 100 degrees. Around mile 2.5 my legs came back to play, and I picked up the pace for the next 5 miles. I was hot and starting to get cranky as I could never get my legs to turn over like I wanted them to up the hills. I ditched my jersey and fuel belt at an aid station for parts of the second loop, until I realized without it, I wasn’t doing much for nutrition. I picked it back up on my way through, and the aid station looked at me like I was nuts. By the 3rd loop (yep, gotta go by the finish line twice before actually getting to veer a slight right into the grass to finish), I was done… I had a hard time keeping anything down on the run, so I was hitting the wall hard. I was slowed to a walk for a good portion of the last loop.

Run Nutrition:
• 1 Raspberry Hammer Gel
• 1 (4oz?) glass of head
• 2 (2oz?) shot of Coca Cola
• 1 orange section
• ice

RUN TOTALS: 2:41 – 12:15 per mile (67/92 women)

I picked up the pace along the last quarter mile, and my calves were letting me know they were hurt. I heard two girls coming up behind me, so I tried to sprint a little faster, but my legs just weren’t having it. They split either side of me and then blocked me for the last 10 yards to the finish line. A pretty bitch move for no good reason – its not like any of us were in contention for first place. I’m sure the finish photo will be classy, as I’m literally a half step behind them, most likely looking angry. I didn’t care, because I was happy to finish, and I felt generally great. After my lack of effort to race Rumpass, I seriously considered this to be my last year of triathlons for a while. I just wasn’t happy doing it. I researched distance swimming more, and was ready to hang up the bike and running shoes for a while. After this race, my spirit was refreshed… I REALLY enjoyed this distance, way more than I thought I would. Now that I understand how my bodys going to react during the race, I know exactly where I can improve (I can easily shave 5 minutes off my swim, I’d say another 10-15 off my bike, and at least a half hour off my run). I’m looking forward to Mooseman, and have a good feeling about Lake Placid. I feel like I’m on track for a healthy finish.

07 May 2009

So this is what it was supposed to feel like

If you read my Rumpass report, you'll recall I forgot how to race.

I have my packing list made up.

I've printed my medical form.

I have hydrated all week.

I'm nervous beyond belief.

I'm ready to race my first half iron...
(even if it does look to be 83 degrees and storming..)

05 May 2009

Mail Call - Review to follow

Woohoo, just checked my mail (snail mail) and found these:

Please pardon the terrible picture - this is just a quick cell phone shot and is quite awful.

Xtenex laces are elastic laces, similar to Yankz and Speedlaces. I've used both Yankz and Speedlaces in the past, but have never been a big fan. They're quicker in transition, but using them for long runs have caused problems for my feet. I don't know if it is because my feet are munchkin size (I wear 5's.. and my scrap non-running tennis shoes are 3.5's in kids..) with high arches and almost, but not quite wide, but it always seems that they become too loose on the top of my foot, and tighten up towards the toe box. Xtenex takes a different approach... these little "knots" hole the laces exactly how you want them. You can only collapse the knots by pulling on both sides of the knot. In theory, they should stay better and not tighten, because the knots don't pass through the eyelets on the shoes. I've been asked to give this complimentary pair a review, and I'll be reporting back as I try them out. I plan on running in them tonight, and if it goes well, I might even race in them this weekend at Kinetic.