Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Moonlight Margarita Run

Last Thursday was the Moonlight Margarita Run benefiting The Trail Foundation. Lauren, one of the members of my running group, managed to land 8 passes to the gala for our group. So, after a little pleading on her part, several of us decided that we would go ahead and do the run; and of course the margaritas at the end. Our coach, Panther, was going to be doing the race with us and thought that it would be a great idea for us to do this as a costume run.

I am a fan of dressing ridiculously (life is too short to be serious all of the time) so costume to me means just looking like an idiot. In February a friend and I were planning on doing a Valentine’s Day themed pajama run only to have it canceled due to weather the day of. Sadly, I had already purchased my “pajamas” for this great event and have not had any opportunities arise in which to wear them. This seemed like the perfect occasion to break them out! So my pink night gown with orange hearts and orange frilly collar was called to duty! Along with some orange and white tie-dye knee high socks and my incredibly short race shorts.

Panther showed up decked out as Elvis, JJ came in a coconut bra and grass skirt, Lauren as an island girl, and Fitty in his fat Hawaiian tourist getup. A running group has never looked to distinguished. So after a few pictures with strangers we started to work our way to the start line. For whatever reason, I had decided that I wanted to try to actually race this thing. It was still 98* and I had done 8.5 miles in the Barton Creek hills that morning; obviously everything was setting up for a great race. So I amble up to the front of the starting line and get a lot of weird looks from the other runners. All of their eyes were saying the same thing, “Great, someone that I will have to try to dodge because they want to get right up to the front of the line to run 15 minute miles.” Oh well.

The air horn sounded and off we went. It was certainly warm, and my incredibly tight cotton gown was not as breathable as my typical no shirt running style, but for the most part I was feeling OK. That feeling quickly disappeared, my mouth got dry and I started to think that I might have started out a tad too fast. As I approached the Mile 1 marker I looked at my watch and confirmed my thoughts; 5:35, fastest mile ever. Gulp! I refused to be the idiot in the costume that took off like a bat out of hell only to finish it off at a crawl. Too make matters worse, the first water stop was unmanned so I had to forgo it. OK, I run in the heat all the time and cut-down workouts are painful, but I can do those. Let’s rock this!

I made the turn and started to head back down Cesar Chavez and took advantage of the downhill to just pull me down without pushing too hard. Mile 2 at 11:32. OK, I have slowed down, but still sub 6. This last mile is going to suck! And my downhill was gone, but there was water. Oh thank you merciful volunteers and your sweet elixir! By this point in the race I was starting to see some of my friends going the other way and really owe them a lot for the cheers they gave me. The cat calls from strangers helped too. ;) By the time we made the turn to Austin High I was completely spent, but I had been going back and forth with this one kid for most of the race and had just pulled ahead of him and was not wanting to give that up. (This guy is actually Taylor that I had met a few days prior at Jack’s Generic Tri where he got 2nd in our age group.) Gut check time.

As we made the curve around the football field I tried to start kicking with everything I had knowing that I had about a quarter mile left. Finally the finish line was in sight and never, with the possible exception of the Austin Marathon, has a finish line looked so welcoming. As I came down the stretch I heard Evil say, “Nice top!” which brought a smile to my nearly permanently grimaced face. As I looked down at my watch I saw that I had crossed in 18:17. Nearly a 3 minute PR and the first time I had managed to average a sub 6 minute pace for a race! Oh my 3 miles can be painful!

As I was chugging my water and enjoying my ice towel I saw Elvis (Panther) cross the finish line in a sub-20 minute time. Pretty damn impressive for someone wearing polyester long sleeves and pants. Plus a black wig! We watched and cheered in the rest of Riff Raff and even gave an interview for some UT student. Once everyone was accounted for we started making our way to the gala for margaritas and Mexican food. Great race and even better times!

(I will try to put more pictures up as I get them.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Jack's Generic Tri Report

Hey, a race report not too terribly long after the race - what a concept!

Jack’s Generic Tri was somewhat of a breakthrough race for me I believe. My placing in my age group wasn’t outstanding, but my overall place floored me and I finally feel like I can hang with these guys.

My goal was to flirt with 1:10:00 - I finished in 1:08:28; good for 19th overall and 7th in my age group. (8 of the top 20 overall finishers came from my age group.) After my typical warm-up jog with a few strides put in, I actually hopped in the lake for a little warm-up swim as well. I have never done this before, but think that it might be something to start including in the pre-start activity. Swim starts have never been my strong point, but my awesome swim coach, Tenille, has been working with me to start out hard the first 50 or so meters and then find my stride. And my friend Ginny has been hounding me too to have more confidence in my swimming. Somehow I managed to wiggle my way to the front of the line at the swim start so that I had fewer bodies to beat up (and get beat up by) so when the horn went off it wasn’t as painful as normal. After a few strokes though I was getting a bit winded and started to worry a little bit about a Rookie Tri repeat, but then Tenille and Ginny got in my head and told me to suck it up. So I did, and managed to find my own little place in the stream of stuff and kept on trucking. I got out of the water in a respectable 8:17 and headed off to T1.

For the first time on the bike I really started to feel comfortable. Typically the run is the only part of the race where I feel in my element, but by that point you are so tired I am not so sure that element is all too comfortable. But I was off on the bike and not instantly being passed by everyone and their brother which is quite a new experience. About halfway through the race I saw a group of cyclists a decent ways up the road from me and I told myself to just keep them in sight. As soon as I thought that, it occured to me that I was gaining on them. Why wait for the run to try to pass them? So I focused on my pedal stroke and started my chase. Low and behold, I passed them up and continued to find more people on the ride to pick off. On the final set of hills I was passed by one guy in my age group, but I knew that I had passed more people than had passed me so I was pretty confident that I had at least held my position since the swim. As I was coming towards the end of the bike course I managed to get my feet out of my shoes before getting off the bike and avoided having to un-clip at the line. Miraculously I did not fall on my butt while doing this and came off the bike after averaging an astounding (for me) 21.7mph.

Alright, the run! Yeah, my legs were feeling the pushing I was doing on the bike, but if I can survive Panther’s, my run and tri coach, horrendous cut downs and hill repeats, I know I can belt out a fast 3 miles. The first half of the run course is up a gradual hill and definitely makes you feel all that you have already done to your legs. But, what goes up must come down, so the turn around point almost serves as a slingshot. I had managed to pass 2-3 guys in my age group on the way out, but had been caught by one guy right before the turn around. I passed him up in the turn around, but knew it was going to be really hard to hold him off. As we picked up the pace going down the hill I could hear him just settle in behind me. So I slowed the pace just a little figuring that I wasn’t going to do all the work and then have nothing left for him at the end. No sooner had I settled on this strategy than we came up on another guy in our age group. With less than a mile left strategy was being thrown out the window. The three of us all started to speed up a little and jockey for position. Kevin, the guy that had been following me, passed the two of us just as we made the turn around the lake and found a stride that I just couldn’t match. But I did manage to fall in behind the other guy and pull ahead with about 200 meters left and just barely managed to out sprint (that might be a generous word at this point) him to the finish. Somehow I managed to run the 3 miles in 19:37, good for the 9th fastest run of the day.

My standing in the Texas Tri Series will not change after this race, but I certainly walked away with a sense of belonging. Perhaps it was just a great race day for me. Perhaps it was my first week of transitioning to being vegan. ;) Or perhaps it was culmination of the training, coaching, and support that I have been getting over the past year. I will certainly be marching into Austin Tri with a little more confidence.

Sadly, shortly after I finished I heard volunteers talking about a bike rider that had fallen and was being transported to the hospital. A little while later I got a call from a friend saying that it was our friend Stacey that had crashed. Stacey suffered a broken clavicle and is pretty banged up, but she will be fine. In the midst of phone calls, talking with race officials, finding Stacey’s gear, and filling in friends it occurred to me just how small, and wonderful, the tri community really is. Everyone knows and loves Stacey. She is incredibly out going and is that person that turns training partners into friendships that last well after the program. While I was trying to talk to people to get information, they either knew me, or at least knew that I had been around for a while, and tried to help in whatever way possible. Jack, of Jack and Adam’s, was wonderful and got Stacey’s bike and transition bag for me so that I was able to load it all in her car and take it back to Austin for her. I don’t know if this would have even been remotely feasible in a larger, less familiar environment. A large shout out to Jack and the rest of the Jack’s Generic staff. Also, there were no fewer than 20 people that told me to pass along their best wishes to Stacey and to let them know if there was anything they could do. Most of us do endurance sports to learn more about ourselves in some form or fashion, and the depth that this community has really came out yesterday. Thank you all. In the light of a scare, it really made me (and Stacey) feel good.

OK, that’s it for now. In the meantime - run friendly.