Hummingbird Triathlon

Please excuse the clouds of dust as I crack open this long-neglected blog. I have been training and racing the last few years, just not as intensely (nutshell: I’m slower). 

The Hummingbird Triathlon in Sierra Vista popped up in my Facebook feed a few weeks ago, and I decided to go for it. I like sprint tris, and it was only $45 total (no website or USAT fees!). I had just completed a 70.3 in Boulder a two weeks ago and had done almost no speed work in the past year (no sprint tris in almost two), so I had no idea how this would go. Sierra Vista is about 2000 feet higher than Tucson, which meant cooler temps (yes!), but might also mean slower times.

The race started at seven, so we left the house at five. The drive was easy, and we picked up our packets and set up our bikes in transition without any issues. There were only 50 individual entrants (along with some relay teams) and maybe nine triathlon-specific bikes, including ours.

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After a quick briefing, the slowest swimmers got in the pool. The swim was 800 yards and each person got their own half-lane. The rest of us lined up in no particular order, and as soon as someone exited the water, the next person was called down. Ross and I were toward the back of the line didn’t get into the pool until about an hour later. At least we got to wait indoors and right next to the locker rooms.

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When it was my turn, the timer entered my number in her laptop and started me. The athletes did not have ankle chips, so our splits were not recorded in the result, only our finish times.

For the first two hundred yards of the swim, I felt a little out of breath and chalked it up to the altitude. Eventually, I settled into a rhythm and felt pretty good, but had no idea what my pace was. The guy who shared my lane lapped me a couple times and got out when I was about halfway done, while the person in the adjacent lane breast-stroked slowly. I had the full lane to myself for the rest of the swim.

Volunteers counted the laps and put an orange sign into the water when there was one to go. After the swim, it took two tries to hoist and flop myself onto the deck. I had given 14:00 as my estimated time and finished the swim in 14:37 (1:50 / 100 yard).

I made it to transition before Ross (who started later), and he showed up before I left. As I headed onto the bike course, I figured he’d pass me quickly. The course is pretty straightforward: an out-and-back largely on one road. In some parts, we had it to ourselves, other times, we shared it with traffic. Police gave us the right of way at all the intersections. The road was in decent shape, but there were a few rough patches and some cracks.

The course looked flat on the way out, and I was in my big ring and feeling great. Maybe all that 70.3 training and race day magic were making for a great bike performance. It’s hard for me to look at my watch while I’m riding, so I’m not sure how long it took for Ross to catch me, but it felt longer than I was expecting. It seemed like I hadn’t been riding for long at all when I hit the turn-around. Uh oh. Maybe I’d been going downhill and not realizing it. It didn’t take too long to realize that was the case, and I spent most of the way back in the small ring. Since it was a small race with staggered starting, the riders were pretty spread out which was nice–crowded courses and close passing make me nervous. All in all, two people passed me and I passed five. My bike split was 41:59 (18.5 MPH).

During transition, my friend Sean, who was already done and ended up nabbing the top spot, warned me that the run would be hot and to take the water offered at the single aid station.

I had been going for about an hour when I started the run, so I knew my 1:20 goal was out of the question. The run course was on a mix of road, sidewalk, and asphalt multi-use path. It wasn’t hilly, but there were some mild rollers. The heat wasn’t an issue until about halfway, but it wasn’t too bad compared with other runs I’d done over the summer. I felt like I pushed myself, but at the same time, those faster gears just weren’t there, and I wasn’t on the verge of spontaneous combustion like I have been in other races. When I turned back toward the race venue, the finish line was in sight, so I picked up the pace a little bit and felt mildly pukey by the end. My run split was 25:31 (8:14 pace).

20190818_160115.jpgMy overall time was 1:25:34, which was good enough for second in my age group and fifteenth overall. Ross got third in his age group (sixth overall) and beat me by 7:17. I was about fourteen minutes off my sprint PR from six years ago. I knew I was going to be slower, but I didn’t think it would be such a big difference. 

Afterward, oranges, bananas, Oreos, and fresh water were provided. We hung around for the award ceremony and received medals. 

We both had a nice time and are planning to do it again. It’s a friendly, low-cost race and provides a nice respite from the blistering Tucson summer.

We have two more sprint tris coming up later this year (Tri for Acts of Kindness and Anthem Holiday Classic) as well as some running races. I’m taking a break from longer distances for a while, so I hope I can get some of my speed back. I miss going short and fast.

Full results here. Garmin data here

 

 

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A Mostly Nice (and slightly naughty) Holiday Season

Ah, the holidays. When sleeves get longer as days get shorter. The hours are crammed with activities and faces are crammed with edible delights. Each year I strive to strike a balance between enjoying what the season has to offer while not throwing healthy habits to the wind. Here’s how I spent the merry month of December.

For the second year, my boyfriend Ross and I competed in the Anthem Holiday Triathlon. It’s a short, beginner-friendly event, and the men and women race separately. It makes for wpid-dsc00657.jpga long morning, but it also provides a rare opportunity for us to cheer each other on and play photographer. It was snowing when we left Flagstaff and raining in Tucson, but overcast and pleasant at the race site.

The swim is a 200-yard serpentine that’s completed twice. This year they started the oldest swimmers first (last year we organized ourselves by swim times), and the pool got congested very quickly. At one point my lane was so clogged that I stood and walked. People were also resting on the walls between laps, so there were a few times I stopped short and changed direction. I hope they change back next year.

It was windy, which made for an interesting bike ride. It was a three-loop course, complete with climbs and descents. I hadn’t ridden my tri bike much lately, so I stayed out of the aero bars when flying downhill and during the narrow and twisty sections of the course. Ross, who is a beast on the bike, stayed in them the whole time. I was passed by three women, and he wasn’t passed at all.  wpid-dsc00700.jpg

The run is a loop, with a short out-and-back part. The first half is a net downhill, which makes it rough toward the end when you’re already tired. Ross had finished his race in 1:05:29, and I figured I’d be about 10 minutes behind him. My time was 1:15:36. It was nice to see his smiling face at the finish line.

We had decided to relax after the race, and booked a Jacuzzi suite. We ended up with three bathtubs: a Jacuzzi tub in the bedroom itself as well as normal tubs in the two bathrooms. Pretty flippin’ fancy.

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A few days before Christmas, I got a special surprise. As I was getting ready for work, I looked out my back window and did a double-take. The weeds that had overtaken the yard during the rainy season were gone, and several herbs, vegetables, and flowers had been planted. Ross and his parents had come by the day before and transformed my backyard into something beautiful. I can’t wait to prepare meals with food from my own garden. It was by far the best Christmas gift that I’ve ever received.

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On Christmas Eve, my friends Keith and Shokofeh, who head up the Tucson Runners Project, hosted a hot chocolate run on Mt Lemmon. It was chilly when we arrived, but the combination of sunshine and uphill running warmed us quickly. We did 6.6 miles with a couple of other friends while stopping for a couple of picture breaks. Afterwards, we hung out for a while and enjoyed treats, views, and conversation.

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One of my blogger friends, Shannan, tagged me in a cookie recipe challenge. I enjoy cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, but I don’t bake that often. In the spirit of my blog, I wanted to make something fairly healthy. I had made black bean brownies in the past, and wanted to see if I could find a bean-based cookie recipe. Google showed me how to make peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with garbanzo beans.

Here are the modifications I made to the basic recipe. I used sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter because it’s a little easier to stir and is already slightly sweet. I replaced half of the honey with liquid stevia, and found the cookies to be sweet but not overpoweringly so. I also multiplied everything by 1.5 to use the full can of wpid-2014-12-30-14.07.02.png.pnggarbanzos. The recipe warned against doubling because it could ruin the blender, but my Ninja Prep Pro handled it with ease. The batter was tasty, and with no eggs, I didn’t have to worry about eating it raw. Confession: I have eaten raw batter that contains eggs. Just one of the ways I live on the edge.

The cookies were a little soft after ten minutes, so I baked them for another two. It didn’t change the texture much, and I decided to stop there rather than risk burning them. The outsides had a hint of normal crisp-cookie texture, but the insides were very soft. I prefer a soft cookie, though, so it wasn’t a big deal. They were delicious and not beany at all. The original recipe is gluten free, and can easily be made vegan and/or sugar free. I would definitely make them again.

My holidays weren’t all exercise and bean cookies, though. I did enjoy some cheesecake, brownies, and chocolate treats. The evil geniuses at Trader Joe’s hooked me with their Taste Test of Caramels. Indulgence meets guessing game? You win this time, TJ’s.

It’s been a wonderful holiday season, and I am grateful for all of the friends and family that I got to celebrate with. I am enjoying some time off work, while I catch up on some R & R and much needed housework. Marathon training has also begun.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and I look forward to seeing what 2015 brings.

Firecracker Triathlon

I have no one to blame. I know better. Don’t mess with things right before a race. Here’s what happened: I had read that one way to decrease rolling resistance on the bike, and therefore go faster, is to use latex tubes instead of the standard butyl ones. They cost a little more, but compared to other my other bike upgrades, it was pretty inconsequential. I had bought the tubes weeks ago and promptly stowed them in the cabinet, where they remained until 9 PM the night before the race. After I swapped out the tube and started to put the tire back on the wheel, I realized that the valve was too short for my race wheels and I wouldn’t be able to use them. The things you don’t think about…

I removed the latex and wrestled the old tube back into the tire and and the tire on to the wheel. It had been a while since I had changed a tire, and my clumsy and somewhat forceful efforts damaged the original tube around the stem and caused a leak.For a panicked moment I thought that I wouldn’t be able to race, but I still had my stock wheels lying around so I created a bike mullet (business in front, speed in the back!). Crisis averted, but I was now worse off that I would have been if I had just left well enough alone. As an aside, I am now the proud owner of two shiny, new valve extenders.

To beat (ha ha) the heat, the race starts early. The youth waves started at 5:45 in the morning, with the adults starting at six. To get people through the course as quickly as possible, a serpentine swim is used and each individual racer is assigned a unique start time. I would be going at 7:21, which gave me some time to kill (all bikes had to be racked before the kids started).

I have a streak of besting my previous time each time I have done this series, and I hoped to keep it going. The last time I did a Tri Tucson race, the volunteer had signaled for me to get out of the pool before I had completed all 825 yards, so I am using my estimated time of 1:13:23 rather than the official time of 1:11:42. Firecracker tends to lead to slower times because the pool was set up long-course (50 meters), you have to somewhat awkwardly duck under lane lines after each out-and-back, and it’s really bloody hot, so I knew I had my work cut out for me. On the other hand, I did have my one race wheel and an aero helmet this time.

Swim 
13:26 | 750 meters | 01m 38s / 100 yards
Age Group: 1/20
Overall: 56/279
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/338960136

After doing some easy laps, I lined up according to number and got ready for my start. The pool is cooled during the summer and felt really refreshing. The race director double-Snapshot 2 (9-6-2013 8-39 PM)checked my name and number, and I was off. At a recent aquathlon, my training buddy Ross had noticed that my stroke was choppy, so I tried to focus on extending long and keeping my body as flat as possible. After a few laps, I passed a swimmer, and I felt like I had a good rhythm going. Down on one side, flip, back on the other, duck under the lane line, continue. About two-thirds of the way through, I reached a bottle neck. I had caught up with two other swimmers, and I couldn’t really pass them because of how they were positioned. When I tried to make a move, I kicked pretty hard and got some water down the wrong pipe. Coughing, I had to stop at the wall and catch my breath. Thankfully, there was only one 50-meter length to go.

Transition went fairly smoothly, although it took a couple of tries to get my aero helmet snapped on.

Bike (includes transitions)
37:26 | 11.5 miles | 19.9 MPH (estimated speed after taking transitions out)
Age Group: 1/20
Overall: 74/279
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/338960142

I got off to a good start and felt really solid in the aero position. The song “I’m Flying” from the musical Peter Pan popped into my head as I zoomed down the road (I had played Wendy’s daughter Jane in a 7th grade production. It was a small part, but I got to fly!). Not exactly a push yourself song, but it captured the fun of biking fast. Because of the serpentine swim, the course is a little more crowded than it is during the spring and fall races, but the passing and being passed went smoothly. I saw one woman who had a full backpack on and wondered what she might be carrying.

The course is three loops around the University, so there are a lot of turns. I kept hearing Ross’s voice telling me to downshift before making the turn, so I don’t waste so much energy getting back up to speed. There were a few times where having to steer around people and kept my hands away from the shifters, but I did it for most of the turns. I was happy that I was even able to stay in the aero bars part of the time while on crazy-cracked Euclid. It’s been a slow process, but I am becoming a decent bike handler. I had put a Nuun tablet and a bunch of ice cubes in my aero bottle, but the fluid was warm now and not super-refreshing. Still, hydration is hydration. The good news was that there was cloud cover, so I was spared the brunt of the sun. I hoped that it would stay that way for the run.

Transition Happens. Riveting, I know.

Run
20:50 | 3 miles | 6:56 min/mile
Age Group: 1/20
Overall: 16/279
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/338960149

Last year I had made the decision to carry a small hand-held bottle at this race, and it served me well. I could use my bottle to for hydration and pour all of the cold course water directly onto my head. I was feeling good about keeping the streak going, as long as the heat didn’t suck too much life out of me. There were some kids with water guns on the course, but I was next to another runner when I passed them, and he got the benefit of the soakage.   Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 9.25.09 PM

I saw my friend Pat taking pictures when I made a sharp turn at the east end of the mall, and tried to smile for the camera. The beep of the Garmin alerted said I knocked off my first mile in 6:45, which was much better than I was expecting. I didn’t feel like I was going too fast either, and felt that I could probably hold the pace. I was also passing people at a regular clip, which always makes things more fun. My friend Shannon, who was in the middle of Ironman training and not racing himself, was out cheering, which I appreciated. The second loop was more of the same, and I was almost worried that I didn’t feel worse. I mean, I was running hard, but maybe I was holding back? Mental DJ, cue Linkin Park. I bleed it out, digging deeper… 

The sun started to peek out from behind the clouds as I finished my second lap and headed toward the finish line. Ross was heading out for his run, and we high-fived. I crancked up the effort, but in reality, I wasn’t going that much faster. My heart rate shot up though, and it certainly felt worse.

I bleed it out
I’ve opened up these scars
I’ll make you face this
I’ve pulled myself so far
I’ll make you face… this… now!!!!

Unfortunately, there wasn’t any chase-fodder to provide extra motivation. Still, when it was all over, I had completed my run almost a minute faster than I had in March, and came within one second of beating my official (short) time from that race. It was much better than I had expected to do, and I was thrilled. I also ended my Firecracker podium drought and by winning my age group.

Snapshot 1 (9-6-2013 8-31 PM)Final time: 1:11:43
Age Group: 1/19
Overall: 34/279