Thursday, July 6, 2017

Race Recap: Monticelloman 70.3

Family!  Friends!  Loved ones!  Triathlon aficionados!

What a welcome!  Aw, you shouldn't have.  Thanks for coming over.  Sit around and crack open a nice cold bud light while I real-men-of-genius recount this latest race for you.

That really doesn't even make sense.  Wait, don't go.  I'm sorry, please stay.  I'll have beer at the end if you promise to hang around until the end.  Just kidding, that was a lie.  I have nothing for you.

Anyway.  Race season finally arrived after what seemed like the longest off-season ever.  After Vineman in July, I basically shunned triathlon but continued to work out so I could also continue to fill my excessive need for tacos, pizza, and alcohol.

It's a super healthy lifestyle and I highly recommend it.

I've definitely been training a fair amount.  Putting in some solid hours on the bike, lots of running, and the bare minimum for swimming (if we're being honest, and i think we are).  Swimming hasn't been a lot of fun with a sore, aching shoulder, but it too is coming around.  I was excited and nervous going into the first race of the season - aren't we always?  I was also very interested to see how my legs felt off the bike and how the bike would feel in general with a new QR and the amount of training I've been doing.  The gearing on the QR is a 53/39 with 11-25 in the back, my cervelo had 50/34 with 11-28 in the back.  Very, very different.  Not knowing too much about bikes and having only done a few outdoor hilly-ish rides, I wasn't super concerned.

Ignorance, they say, is bliss.

My friend Charlie from undergrad was also racing and came down Friday to hang out and do race prep with me.  My intent for the day was to sit and do nothing except watch movies all day.  However - I ended up a hot mess.  We ran errands, went to Arlington Cemetery and paid respects to his classmate that was buried there, and then attempted bike stuff.  I borrowed my teammate's (thank you Liz) new Zipp 808s and proceeded to inflate them and immediately found that one of the tubes was blown.  DAMN THE BIKE GODS.  and the valve stem on my spare tubes are great for anything less than an 808 so off to the bike shop we went.  I also had a dilemma about the carbon break pads - I wasn't sure if the QR came with them or not given that the race model comes with carbon wheels (which I didn't purchase).  After taking my cervelo's brake pads off and comparing them - it turns out I already had carbon pads on there.  Awesome.   The living room was a mess of bikes and parts and via telephone to Bicycle Pete, i next learned how to widen the brakes to fit the 808s.

What it comes down to is this - I'm basically a bike mechanic now.

Ordered sushi for dinner, watched Frozen and passed out.  So much for sitting on the couch all day watching movies.

Saturday morning - day before race: got up and took all the gear to Hains Point for a quick 45 min spin and 10 min run.  It had rained a fair amount the night before and for the first time in my experience, parts of HP were flooded.  Bike shoes got a bit soggy but not too bad.  Quick shake out run around the Jefferson memorial and it was back to the apartment for waffles.  Packed up and headed down to Charlottesville for race check-in.

Arrived at check-in around 2 pm.  Picked up all the stuff and met up with Joe, Mark, Ellen, and a few of the RTTC ladies.  Quick swim in the new Xterra Vengeance wetsuit to test her out and I felt good to go.  Love this wetsuit and the shoulder flexibility!  I also discovered the legs are cut shorter to mid-calf which is much better than the ankle cut in my opinion.  Its a size smaller than my old Xterra and that makes a world of difference in terms of fit - so much better!  Who knew?!

Checked into the hotel, got gear ready and packed for the following day and watched the Derby.  Headed to dinner and had a seafood pasta with one Stella which hit the spot.  Back to hotel for sleep!

Up at 5ish - late race start of 8:30 am so nice to "sleep in" a bit on race morning.  Transition opened at 6:30 - arrived at 6:45 or so.  Set up transition, milled around for a bit.  Used the bathroom a couple times.  Made sure to eat 1 & 1/2 Thomas blueberry bagels with peanut butter and 1 banana prior to putting wetsuit on around 8 am.  Ate a gel with water around 8:15 as I headed to the water.  Men started at 8:30 and women started at 8:33.  The familiar feeling of anticipation started to take over my chest and I could feel my heart start to race.  "Chill the eff out Prochnow", I told myself, "Swimming is your thanggggg".

swim:
Started out at the front of the group and ran/dove in from the beach.  Immediately, there were 3-4 girls around me for the first few minutes and eventually they dropped off until it was just myself and one girl to my left.  and... NO ONE IN FRONT.  its hard for me to maintain a race pace with no one to race and no one visible to catch.  so, I swam.  a bit too comfortably looking back - the pace was easy but i could see we were catching the men after a short time.  no memorable encounters with anyone during this go-around, though a quick tip to the few men who swam perpendicular to my line of sight - "you're going the wrong way dude... buoy is 90 degrees to your left...".
Saw the beach finally and headed in.  The girl crept up a bit - so i did too.  She managed to get out seconds in front of me.  *shakes fist and dizzily runs into transition.*

T1:
working on those quick transitions, had a three second debate about arm-warmers or not - determined it was too much work and ran out.

bike:
chilly getting on the bike, but i wouldn't regret the lack of arm-warmers in the minutes to follow.  I got into a groove and felt all right for the first loop.  however, i was having trouble chewing food and swallowing - bonk breakers are dense and still apparently difficult for me to swallow (did I learn nothing from last year?) so I struggled with nutrition.  it got to the point that every time 15 minutes came around and I went to eat the small 1/4 of a bar I got upset with myself and my stomach got queasy.  it would just sit in my mouth for minutes which made me want to throw up but i knew i had to eat something that was my only option.  hydration wise, i was good to go.  i started off with 2 full normally concentrated bottles of rocket fuel (2 scoops hydro, 1 scoop watermelon amino, 1 scoop salt) and 1 double concentrated bottle with only 1/4 filled with water - the idea being i can grab a water bottle at an aid station and mix my own drink without dealing with powder while not carrying the full weight of an additional 1-2 bottles.  worked awesome - i ended up drinking 3.5 bottles during the bike - easy peasy.  by the second loop, my legs were getting tired - rolling terrain was hurting, I wasn't able to fly up those hills with my current gearing like I used to and that was frustrating.  i got a little light headed, felt nauseous due to lack of eating, but forced myself to swallow chunks of the BB bars whole or I knew I would feel much worse on the run.  Definitely not the bike time i was anticipating and was disappointed about that as i headed into T2.

T2:
screw you bike, i'm out.

run:
there has been a lack of "happy place" in my race running for a couple years now - or really running in general until the past 6 months.  we did some run focused prep over the winter and i started to love it again so i was curious how this would translate into tri.  heartrate was a little low off the bike and i felt a bit sluggish as i started into the run.  i did hear "3rd female" as i left T2 and then "... but they're at least 5 minutes ahead of you!".  i actually laughed and said "thanks dude!"

i appreciate honesty in sport.

i knew i wanted to build HR throughout the run - increasing about every few miles.  i started out at a good pace for me - high 7 - but the course was rolling.  very very rolling.  with every incline i told myself "good placid prep, yay!" and forced myself to believe it.  around mile three i could hear footsteps coming on strong - i hadn't been passed yet but i had a gut feeling those were female steps.

sure enough, a women surged past me and kept going.  i felt myself mentally shut down as i watched third place literally run away from me like i was standing still.  i let myself feel like a failure for a few seconds and decided i had enough gas in the tank to pick up the pace a bit without blowing my HR through the roof too early.  "just stay with her prochnow, only 9 or 10 miles to go." even thinking that statement felt a little ridiculous to me, but what was the worst that could happen?  i run out of steam and slow down to a walk?  this race means NOTHING at this point in the season!  so, i picked it up a bit - and she stopped gaining on me.  slowly, over the next couple miles, i crept up on her.  i could see that the inclines were not her friend and i took that opportunity to gain a little more with each one and ZOOM down the other side (free speed! use the hills!).  around miles 5-6 i found myself running on her heels and feeling my gas tank slowly filling back up as the pace slowed while i sat on her feet.  an uphill was ahead and i decided it was time to pass her and put some distance between us.  as i ran by, i told her how strong she looked - because she did.  she looked awesome.  i told her i'd been trying to catch her and she said she had taken it out too fast.

"anything can happen in a race regardless of who shows up to race."

i passed her and i charged a bit into the turn-around.  lo and behold, three more girls were coming up on my fast friend.  "oh crap... MUST-GO-FASTER-MUST-GO-FASTER." (thank you, Dr. Ian Malcolm).

i ran away from them as if that t-rex really was after me in my 1993 jeep wrangler.  around mile 10, i heard more footsteps and a strange yell - i turned around and a girl was RIGHT FREAKING THERE.  OH CRAP!  for the next 15 seconds, i wondered why she had made that strange noise and i turned around she was gone.

... wait, what?  i did a double take and sure enough, she had disappeared.

super weird, but whatever!  i kept running and slowing building my speed and HR - i was feeling really strong through mile 11 and i could feel my quads start to tighten and my stride shorten.  i thought to myself, "only two more mi---"

i heard the weird yell again, interrupting my self peptalk and realized the girl was behind me again.  WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON?  i gunned it for 15 seconds, turned around to see where she was - and she had vanished.  now, this particular part of the course is a straightaway, so after the second time this happened, i questioned my sanity.  now, sitting here, rehashing the race, i'm a little worried i was seeing/hearing things.  but i felt fine.  i actually felt really good all things considering at mile 11 of the run.

the last two miles are a bit of a blur - i tried to pick up the pace further and just hold on to my suspected third overall spot.  before i knew it, i was taking the left to the finish and the arch was right there - looked behind me and saw no one but at that point, who even knew where the ghost girl was at?  ran through the finish and saw my time - 5:15 - not great, but it was a rough bike.  my run was 2 minutes faster than 2 years prior when i considered myself to be in good run shape so I was really pleased with that.

overall, the run was a huge mental victory for me.  i stayed mentally strong instead of giving up and i worked my strengths and stayed patient.  im really proud of myself for how i handled the run and aside from the two-time break from reality (was that girl ever really there?  was i going crazy?), i had a strong, consistent run and i fought for my place and raced.

i ended up 2nd OA thanks to the collegiate category taking the first OA girl out of the open results.  ellen got 1st OA so we got to share the podium and were showered in prizes!  really cool.  joe won overall male, so DC Tri did pretty well in our first halves of the season.

on to the next one!  till next time...










Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Race Recap: Rock n Roll DC Half-Marathon

first race of 2017 in the books.  Guys!  it went way better than I anticipated.  I actually felt like I could sort of run again.  Haven't felt this way since early 2015.  HELLOOOO LEGS!

i was coming off a mini (and very much needed) break in Florida.  I only ran once down there but did manage to drink my weight in mic ultra and top shelf margaritas and spend every night in the hot tub.  Which - to my knowledge - is the same as actually swimming.  i also floated around in the gorgeous ocean next to the boat while my friends made sure i didn't get eaten by sharks.  it was pure heaven.  

i worked an insanely full day friday but managed to leave just shortly after 7 (only leaving 2 hours of notes behind).  drove to Holli's to eat dinner with her and Lori, who was in town to run the full (and play with us, duh).  Lori made dinner - god bless her, shes amazing - and we sat and chatted for a couple hours until it was time to get to sleep.

it was a balmy 20 degrees when I woke up and walked jazz.  for a second (just a second), i considered the alternative option of not running.  damn it prochnow, i told myself, don't be an ass clown.  i really wanted to wear my lulu capris so i paired that with obnoxious neon yellow compression socks.  wore a thick thermal layer and lulu vest with snapple cycling jacket.  the only issue was my hands - when they get cold, im miserable.  that broken finger with the plate/screws gets totally numb and stays numb for hours which is actually a little painful.  i brought my hincapie cycling gloves and hoped for the best.

i ate a couple of english muffins with peanut butter and honey for breakfast with half a cup of coffee.  i also chugged a bottle of BASE rocket fuel just before walking out of the apartment.  bryan and i metro'd over to smithsonian, checked our gear, and walked to the W to meet up with Holli at the VIP area.  a glorious, lucky turn of events then occurred.  not only did i get to use an actual bathroom - i found handwarmers.

thank you thank you, dear creator of handwarmers - i wish to bequeath to you my first born.

you can have monster too.

with less than 10 minutes to start, we jogged over to corral 2 and got ready to run.  it was windy.  i wasn't excited about that new meteorological addition but there was no turning back now.  literally.  i was stuck in corral 2.  it was go forward or get trampled by thousands of runners.  saw ellen, jan, and justin and we all took some pictures and i pretended to be excited about 13 miles of running.  jan gave me a hug and i considered stealing her very warm purple puffy coat (sorry jan).

there was a countdown and a lot of forward motion and a minute later, ellen, holli and i crossed that line.

and so it begins!

the idea was to gradually build HR every 3 miles (145, 150, 155, 160, then haul ass for 1.1 miles).  so, i gradually built to 150ish over 2 miles.  whoops.  my legs felt a little tight (not warmed up) but i was running what felt like a good, sustainable pace.  i could see ellen ahead and i knew holli had to be right behind me.  i kept between 150-155 for the next few miles, slowing down a bit on rock creek parkway.  the first 5 miles are fairly flat so HR was easier to control.  holli passed me at some point around mile 5 and i pulled up next to her.  i yelled over - "good mornin!" - she looked strong and we ran the next mile near each other.  i knew erin would be cheering around mile 6 and i was eager to shed the snapple windbreaker.  the mile 6 horrible incline into georgetown began - which is also where the "wear blue: run to remember" group with american flags and pictures are.  so awesome.  i tried to look, but i couldn't - last year i got super choked up.  luckily, erin was right there with her #blessed sign (love her) and she ripped my jacket off and i continued running.

holli had passed me again - she's so strong!  i took the giant hill slowly and deliberately, imagining the strength i was saving in my legs (man, i am just not good at hills).  finally at the top, i collected my legs and charged down the slight decline.  i consciously tried to run fast on every downhill, using the momentum to keep the legs going and keep the HR up while holding back a little on the uphill portions.  it was a fun strategy - i passed so many people on the declines and it was a good boost of energy.  i then started to pretend that i was sonic the hedgehog in the bonus rounds (you know, when hes running through the swirling rainbow tunnels collecting rings and gems?  get on my level guys.)  that thought led to mariokart - like when you have the mushroom and you pass over the boost in the road and you are just going unreasonably fast and out of control?  yea!  that was me on the downhills.  zoooooooooom!

i grew up with a dad that worked with video games.  i can't help it.

i kept a good clip going into mile 9.  at that point, i sped up again and was feeling really strong.  i could see my average pace ticking down which made it easier to keep pace.  around mile 11, i felt my legs start to tighten... nooooooo... but i kept at it.   just 1 mile to 12.  then only 1.1 to the finish!  at mile 12, it was on.  most of the last mile is on a decline (AWESOME) other than the very very end.  so i cruised.  i passed people.  i smiled.  i knew i wouldn't break 1:40, but hell - it was going to say 1:40 on my watch - not 1:41.  i could see the time on the finish arch, 1:40:35 and i was still a little bit out.

this is what happened in my head for the next 23 seconds - i was ellie sattler in jurassic park.  she's just busted out of the control house and the velociraptors are going to come after her and she just grunts out "run." as she hobbles to the fence.

yep.  i went there.

crossed the timing mat - 1:40:58.  boom.  told you it would say 1:40.

collected medal and turned around just in time to see holli as she finished.  courtney appeared out of nowhere (who also had an awesome run) and we accumulated all the food and drinks on our way to the gear trucks.  i threw on some layers and let myself feel relaxed, happy... content.  satisfied.

its been 2 years since i ran a solid half marathon.  it was just shy of a PR - and I didn't really set out to even race this one (except for the last 4 miles, i was definitely racing those - the last mile was 7:06).  i told myself i'd be "satisfied" with a 1:42 or 1:43 since i ran a horrendous 1:48 last year; i was coming off the flu and stress fracture and had been running really poorly in general.  it didn't seem logical to set a time goal considering i haven't been training for a running race - but i have a hard time thinking about races without time.  i also made the morning decision to run without music and enjoy the people, city, and race itself.  it was a great choice.  i had a really fun day out there, despite the weather.  no GI issues, definitely not enough water, but awesome nonetheless.  

following the race, a huge group of us headed to district taco in eastern market for post-race provisions.  huevos rancheros - youcompletemeiloveyou.  i sat back and took a couple pictures of the group and couldn't help but grin and be grateful to be surrounded by this group.  two years ago - i was just stranger, a DC transplant that wanted friends that shared my passion.  i found that - but also found so much more.  without getting sappy (shit, was that a tear? nah, its probably sweat), i love this life.  the ups, the downs - its all mine.

anyway.  cheers to a great weekend.  the season has begun!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Closing the loops

ive been training my ass off.  literally.  as in, my butt feels smaller.

(... you were just picturing the last time you happened a casual glance at my butt weren't you?  admit it.  im flattered.  thankyouverymuch). 

however - in recent weeks, i've been having that panicked, #ihaveamillionthingstodo feeling in my chest.  i get close to having anxiety attacks at work.  i feel like im struggling just to get everything done at work, at home - and nothing feels completed.  i constantly feel like my to-do list grows and grows and im running backwards-in-crocs trying to accomplish everything while getting nothing done.

guys, feeling this way sucks.

hence, ive been throwing myself into workouts more and more.  when i train, i can control things.  i can control pace, heartrate, cadence, breathing... hell, even just the direction i am running.  it makes me feel accomplished.  plus - my butt looks better.  small wins.

i was biking last week and running out of things i wanted to watch on netflix, so after playing the netflix game for 10 minutes, i headed over to coach's website.  i watched a video on training peaks of all things and how to keep yourself accountable.  and she talked about "closing the loops" - finishing workouts, updating training peaks, foam rolling - all the while checking off the to do boxes in the training world and coming full circle in terms of being an accountable athlete and reducing stress.  leaving all those little things undone or half done can be a cause of mental stress.

i took a real hard look at myself and realized that i am constantly reminding myself of things that need done - both in training and in life.  i feel like it takes up a lot of brain power when all those little things are constantly floating around in my head in a circle.  turns out, it is stressful.

so i ran - and checked it off the list.  i updated training peaks.  check.  in starting this habit over the past couple of weeks, i've also narrowed down my to-do list.  prioritized things.  i finally finished putting up (and now taking down) holiday decorations.  i finished notes at work.  check, check, check.  once i got the ball rolling, it was a lot easier to finish tasks.

*yadda yadda yadda - something about forming healthy habits - i have nothing inspiring to contribute*

closing the loops is a thing.  that panic attack feeling is lessening and, added bonus, the cat seems pretty pumped about having a clean litter box all the time.  go us.