Friday, May 31, 2013

Words on packing for a race

Packing for an "away" race is always a bit tricky. For me, I always like to pack light, so adding an extra collection of running gear to what would otherwise be a small duffel bag is a necessary evil. I have, however, managed to make trips so short that I only pack running gear, such as my trip to DC for the Army Ten Miler.

The key to any packing process, though, is laying everything out, making sure it is there, and then packing it all at the same time. For trips, I typically start laying my packing list out a day or two before I actually need to leave. This lets me visualize everything I need, and see what I'm missing. Once things are all together, then you can pack them up; if you start putting things in a bag in bits and pieces, you might forget what you packed, leading to unnecessary doubles, or not pack something, thinking it's already in the bag.

For a race, the gear that I need to bring just for the race includes:
- running shoes
- underwear (sports bra and non-cotton underwears, as needed)
- running skirt/shorts
- running top
- socks x 2
- sunglasses
- hair band and/or visor
- race belt
- weather permitting: arm warmers, gloves, sweatshirt for before/after
- flip flops for post-race bag
- ipod and earphones
- gels x 2
- Clif bar for breakfast
- water bottle
- sunblock/bodyglide

For the most part, I can pack all of the clothing into a packing cube by itself, and all the odds and ends (ipod, gels, sunglasses) into a drawstring bag that I can use either for a checked bag, or hand off to my husband to bring to the finish line. In my bag I usually also throw my phone and wallet, so I have my ID and some cash ready at the end. Photo ID and, usually, a signed waiver is required for packet pickup; this I usually pack in whatever I am carrying to the race expo.

I'm headed to the expo for RnR San Diego tomorrow morning! My friend isn't coming down until tonight, so we'll have to go do packet pickup when she gets in.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ready for an #EpicSummerRun!

Everyone is getting ready for Rock n' Roll San Diego this weekend! The signs are up about road closures all over town, downtown is starting to get busy, and I am so excited!

The last week has absolutely flown by! Last week I visited my best friend in Huntington Beach, and got in a 6 mile run along the beach. If every run included this view in the middle, I would definitely be running a lot more:

While in HB, I also got in a visit to the Portola Coffee Lab in the OC Mart Mix at SOCO Collection. My friend described it as specialty coffee; what she meant was it is pretty much literally a lab. I loved how open the service area was, so you can see the roaster and all the gentlemen brewing every cup of coffee as it is ordered. I got a simply cappuccino, since I was worried about being late for my train back to San Diego, but watching them was just fascinating. This is their Kyoto drip coffee is apparently the most popular, and they were out when I was there :( Here is the contraption they use, though, which was absolutely mesmerizing to watch:
I never said I was a good photographer. 
For Memorial Day, Kevin and I spent some time down at the beach in La Jolla. Here's a beautiful San Diego sunset!

We also scouted out the new Stone Brewing Bistro in Liberty Station, ostensibly to try their Hops for Heroes IPA, which included Louisville Sluggers in the process. Beer that includes baseball bats, and raises money for veterans' charities? Another round! They were unfortunately out of the two items on the menu I wanted (mussels and pretzel grilled cheese) so I unfortunately ended up with the lobster roll. What a disappointment:

As you can see, I have been preparing well for this race! It is such a problem, to be here with beautiful weather and perfect streets with sidewalks, and yet I'm in full vacation mode, too lazy to want to do anything. Hopefully the beautiful scenery will be enough to push me through a sub-2:00 half!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Greetings from Sunny California!

I made it! Despite not liking the current status of the Southwest/Airtran merge, I made it all the way to San Diego, and kicking myself daily for not enrolling in a law school here. The weather is beautiful, and there's just so much to do!

Since my race Sunday was cancelled, I've been trying to make myself do a few workouts this week, which I had originally marked as "recovery." The perfect 72 degree weather with perfect sunny skies has been helping. I did an easy 4.5 miles this morning, and feel great! This weekend I'm headed up to Huntington Beach, and will try to fit in an 8 mile run to pinpoint my goal pace for the Rock n Roll San Diego, only 11 days away. I figure if I'm going to run 8 miles anywhere, it might as well be in heaven.

In other news, Iron Girl has made everyone a very generous offer after the cancellation Sunday. They sent out an email Monday with the following offers:
- a discount entry to next year's event, which will be sent out at a later date
- complimentary entry into any other Iron Girl event this year, except Columbia, Syracuse, and Rocky Gap (the only 3 that fit in my calendar, of course)
- a $10 discount to the Acworth women's sprint tri in August

This was very generous of them, and more than I was expecting. I did contact them about getting a priority wait list or something similar for the Columbia or Rocky Gap events, since, again, they are really the only options for me. If nothing comes of it, oh well, I'll be first online to register for them next year!

And, just for fun, I crunched some numbers to see how much it would cost to do the Lake Las Vegas Iron Girl in October.
Entry: complimentary
Flight: $350+
2 nights at Westin Lake Las Vegas: $200+ or SPG points
Bike transport: $100
Missing a day of class

I don't think it's quite worth it, though if I could, that would definitely be the one I'd want to do!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Recap: Iron Girl Atlanta

Iron Girl Atlanta was cancelled due to severe weather. BOOOOOOOO!!

This was very disappointing. I guess Mother Nature just didn't want to cooperate. At all.

Everything started out ok. Saturday morning I woke up bright and early (read: 4am) to drop my husband off at the Augusta airport for his flight to San Diego. I then caught a little more sleep before heading to the Run as One 5k with Team RWB. I was planning on walking most of it so my legs would be fresh Sunday morning, so it was a pretty chill run. I then went home, finished all my packing, and hit the road. My GPS took the scenic route over the longer but faster highway route to Lake Lanier, so I got there right at 3, in time for the course talk.

I always like to go to the course talk for races because I usually can't see the entire prior. A few things changed for this race from last year, so I wanted to hit the talk again. The swim course apparently was planned to be a weird trapezoid shape that finished on the same beach that it is usually held on, and was going to be a bit shorter as well. Also, the day before the race was scheduled, water was 65 degrees. I think that's a bit chilly.

After browsing the expo a bit, my friend and I walked our bikes over to transition to drop them off. It's a pretty good 15 minute walk over there, which you have to do in the morning, so we just got a little extra familiar with it. We dropped our bikes off, picked up timing chips and straps, and headed to our hotel for dinner.

After dinner and laying everything out to make sure we weren't forgetting anything, I got in bed to read at about 8pm. Since I'm usually a little edgy, I had some chamomile tea, took a few notes to remind myself to check my tires in the morning, and fired up my Nook. I think I was asleep by 8:30.

Around 3, I woke up and noticed that it was raining. Really hard. Also, very loud thunder. And lots of lightning. Uh oh. Not good. After drifting in and out of sleep until my alarm went off at 5, I kind of knew this race wasn't going to happen. Iron Girl announced that the event was cancelled right before 5am, and sent it out through email, twitter, and facebook. I feel bad for everyone who showed up when transition opened at 4:30. A while later, they announced that transition would be opening to pick up bikes and turn in timing chips.

After a little more sleep and a hot breakfast, my friend and I headed back over to pick up our bikes. They were also handing out the finisher's medals. Do you think I should hang it up backwards, or just stash it away? Here's the swag we got from the race: my bib, swim cap (red wave), bike helmet number (my bike number was already on my bike), a strap for the timing chip, which had pink velcro and the Iron Girl logo, and finally, the race medal. It's not like they could reuse them.

We also got wristbands which were put on at checkin, and we wore all weekend to get in and out of transition, pick up our bikes, etc. It helped us identify our fellow pissed off people at breakfast the next morning.

I know this is the sort of thing the race directors have no control over whatsoever, and I'm kind of waiting to see what will come out of it. I plan on emailing and asking if they'll be offering maybe some sort of priority waitlist status for ones that are already sold out (read: Iron Girl Columbia) or a nominal discount for next year. I feel that most races have insurance for major cancellations like this. I'm sure a lot of people were very disappointed, and out a lot of money.

So, after a lazy day of Barnes & Noble, Cheesecake factory, and REI, I'm now checked in to my hotel near the Atlanta Airport and getting everything ready to go for my flight tomorrow. I can't wait for some awesome time in San Diego!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Iron Girl Atlanta: it's a wash

Unfortunately, Iron Girl Atlanta was canceled today due to weather. I've really been looking forward to this, so I'm super bummed right now. My poor bike got pretty wet. At least I get to fly to San Diego in the morning! I'll have a review of the rest of the weekend up soon!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Packing for a triathlon

I am very good at forgetting things. Even when I make a packing list and lay everything out, I still tend to forget things. Despite that full disclosure, here is my system for packing for a triathlon:
Here's my packing list. I'm sure there is something missing, but it's just a base.

Everything laid out:
I try to pack things in order of use. Also, I probably won't be wearing these shoes since I don't have the elastic laces for them.

I keep a small packing cube for the transition area with all the odds and ends in it:
Some things in my odds and ends bag that probably aren't on the list:
- Tea bags. I bring a calm tea bag for the night before, and an Awake tea bag for the morning of. Coffee seems just a bit too much
- Goggles AND extra goggles. Just in case something happens
- A contact. Just in case one gets knocked out during the swim. If both get knocked out, I probably won't be able to find my way back to transition anyway
- Breakfast. I never eat much breakfast, so a Clif bar and/or Stinger waffle are usually my pre-race snack
- SPRAY sunblock. Easy to spray in between transitions
- Body glide, for everywhere
- Foot powder. To get extra sand off your feet after the run from the beach
- Duct tape. I tape my gels to my bike so I don't forget them

A few more things to remember the morning of:
- race number! Obviously. I attach it to my race belt before leaving
- wrist band, if applicable. Larger races have wrist bands with your number on it as ID to get in and out of transition, pick up your bike, etc
- a plastic bag for all your wet stuff after the race
- sandals/flip flops for before and after

Using the packing cubes works for me, because it keeps everything neatly together when I throw it all in my bags. I use a separate one for shoes, because they get dirty, ones for clothes, and everything else in a tote bag ready to go. Laying everything out beforehand lets me think about what I'm missing.

What am I forgetting this time? 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Trying out the wetsuit

This weekend I pushed myself (and Kevin) out the door to do an open water swim with my wetsuit. I figured I should probably try it out before the Iron Girl Triathlon next week, but haven't tried it in open water yet. The pool at Fort Gordon has been plenty cold enough to warrant a wetsuit, though I know the chlorine is probably bad.

The triathlons I did last year were all during the summer, so I didn't think I needed to buy a wetsuit. After deciding to do a Half-Ironman distance this year, I figured it would be a good investment. I purchased a 2XU ST:2 wetsuit:
I wanted something sleeveless because of the extra maneuverability , and because the water around here usually isn't quite cold enough that a full wetsuit is necessary.

USAT rules permit a wetsuit for age groupers when the water is below 78 degrees. As I mentioned, the pool at Fort Gordon where I usually swim is typically about 68-75 degrees or so during the winter. From what I recall, the water temperature at Iron Girl Atlanta last year came in at about 69 degrees last year. I did not have a wetsuit. It was rather cold.

So, in preparation for another cold swim this year, I ventured out to the beach in somewhat cloudy weather, and lubed up. I didn't get a real temperature from the park office, but I'm guessing the lake yesterday was around 68 degrees or so. This swim wasn't really for a good workout so much as just a familiarity swim. I did about 500m or so with different strokes, trying to see how flexible the suit is.

I also practiced not freaking out when my face is underwater, since that seems to be a problem every now and then. I know jumping in with my wave will be a different experience, but now I'm more prepared. I know to breathe as needed, rather than every 4 or 5 strokes as I do in the pool.

After all that, it was time to practice stripping! Obviously taking off a wet wetsuit and a dry one are completely different. Easier when it's wet. I'm always a little scared that I'm going to rip it, even though I know the neoprene is pretty thick stuff. Stepping on the legs while I try to pull my fat calves is quick enough, though, so hopefully I won't be rolling around the ground in transition trying to yank the legs off. Finding a safe place to put it out of the way in transition is another concern; guess I'll work on that later!

I can't wait for this weekend! I'm doing the Run as One with Team RWB here Saturday morning, then it's off to Atlanta to check in! Meanwhile, I'll be making packing lists to make sure I don't forge anything for California, and getting ready to go.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

So how's it going?

So how is training going, you might ask. My first triathlon of the season is about 10 days away, and I'm getting ready for an awesome vacation in San Diego. and after a quick review of my calendar over the past 2 weeks, my structured training plan has taken a severe nose dive. While I have been making some improvements in swimming, my twice a week sessions aren't quite enough. I've also cut back on my extra running, since my new unit only does 2-3 mile runs twice a week or so. This first tri is only a 5k, so that shouldn't affect me too much. And biking...well, let's say it's still a weak spot.

My resolutions for next week needs to include a longer distance brick workout this weekend (goal: 15 mile bike and 3 mile run), then some light, 1000m+ swimming, and at least one good run before backing off. Since I've increased some strength training over the last few weeks, and feeling the extra soreness in my legs, I don't want to do anything too stressful the week before a triathlon and a cross-country flight.

This is kind of how I've felt this week:

I wish I could say all those cool motivational pictures inspire me to run. Those, you're lapping everyone on the couch! or, I don't stop when I'm tired, I stop I'm done! posters all over Pinterest.

What motivates me to run more right now, though, is knowing that I have to wear my triathlon shorts in a week. And those make my legs look like fat, pale sausages. Time to get outside.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Happy May!

It's already May! I can't believe we're already a third of the way through 2013! Time is flying by way too fast.

This week was a weird combination of being frustrated with my job, trying to get in good quality workouts, and stressing about the two big events I have coming up! I did get in two good swims, two good runs, a gym workout, and one day of P90X cardio. I also got in one good evening of sitting on the couch with some ice cream and having a Grimm marathon with my husband.

One of the most important workouts I got in this week was a brick workout, which is key before a triathlon. I did a 15 mile bike ride followed by a 2.5 mile run, and remembered why these are so important! Running off the bike is one of the weirdest feelings ever. I definitely have a tendency to tighten up and take super fast, super short strides, before loosening up a little and relaxing into my normal stride.

Because I didn't have time for any long runs this week, both of my short runs were pretty fast, and one was about 2 miles of sprint intervals. Hopefully this will help my run quality overall.

What's my next big challenge? Packing! I'll be heading out of here on May 18th for the Iron Girl triathlon, followed by two weeks on vacation in San Diego, capped off by the Rock 'N' Roll San Diego Half Marathon and a flight back to Georgia. How does one pack for a triathlon and a big race and a vacation? I guess we'll see!! At least my wet suit will get some Pacific Ocean time in!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Girls on the Run Happy Pace 5k

This past Saturday morning I was a volunteer and running buddy for the Happy Pace 5k for the Girls on the Run of the CSRA! Girls on the Run is a program for girls in grades 3-5 that helps them build confidence and develop life skills while also learning how to run. They do a 12 week program twice a week after school, then finish with a 5k that brings together the whole community.

As a running buddy, I ran with one of the girls. My buddy was in 4th grade, and was all about setting her own pace. The course was three one-mile loops, and was super flat. I've never run this course except for the GOTR 5ks, but I can imagine it would be pretty fast.

I think this is a really great program for girls, and I wish I could've done it when I was younger! I hated that all the girls programs seemed to involve tea drinking or sitting around, while the boys got to do fun stuff like paintball and capture the flag. Running is not at all "unfeminine" and we should definitely be encouraging more girls to find their happy pace at a young age!