Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dear Good Night's Sleep

Dear Good Night's Sleep,

We've been struggling lately. No more late night cuddling. No more dreaming of what could be.

It's been tough on me. I even admit that I've been cursing you each day for leaving me.

But who's to blame? Have you found another? 

Maybe it's my fault.

I can change.  You know this happens every winter. I have to cut back on my exercise and intensity level.

It affects me in ways that I don't really like. Sometimes I'm moody, irritable, but it's all because of you. You left me when I needed you most. I need the rest. Yet, you leave me alone.

I sleep better when I pummel myself with hours and hours of exercise. My mood is better. My outlook is better.

Yet, a body needs to rest too. I can't go 100mph all year long.

I can commit to this. 

I can change.

I am going to change, TODAY. I can't handle these late night wake up sessions any longer.


Will you please take me back?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What's Next for Tea

Prior to Vegas, I couldn't even think about next year. 

Then, I took a few days off....lost days....I didn't want to do anything. I didn't want to think about anything other than getting myself up and off to work (ie---drag my butt to the loft).

Things started coming together. I started doing some strength work. Then I biked. Then I ran. Then I attempted a swim. (We'll just leave that one alone. I'm sure the gym will let me return once the excitement dies down).

I started thinking about what I want to do, what I want to race, what I want to focus on, etc.

Maybe I could do things a little differently this year? 

Last year, I felt like a first time triathlete all over again. I was trying to take in so much. I wanted to become a better runner, not just faster but BETTER. 

Of course, I was faster when I was racing. I can honestly say that I didn't become a better runner until recently. It took me a year. I know I haven't even scratched the surface. 

Thank you Coach Mike for being so patient with me.

Does that sound crazy? That it took a YEAR? It really is true. I've told Coach this before. I've read articles. I've researched online about becoming a more efficient runner.  Until I had someone say to me: DO THIS EXACT WORKOUT. I didn't get it. RUN THIS PACE. RUN THIS HR. DO IT. DO IT NOW. 


Maybe that's not EXACTLY what he said, but it's pretty close.

Finally, after a year, all the pieces fell into place. It didn't happen at a race. Nope. I was running one week, and I noticed that I felt different. I noticed my stride was different. EVERYTHING was different.

So much so that the family unit has taken it upon themselves to declare Wednesday nights as "let's make fun of how Tea used to run."

HOURS of good old fashioned family time.

Some families play board games.

Mine makes fun of me.

I'm trying to say this.

I have a long way to go with my running. After seeing what I've done in one year, I'll be patient. I'm not the fastest runner, but I'm not the slowest either. I'm way above average. Maybe I'll never break into a 9:00 pace in a half marathon, but maybe I will. Maybe I'll even get into the 8's. Who knows? If I'm having fun doing it. That's the most important piece.

And I AM enjoying running, for the first time in years. 

Over the coming weeks/months, I have a TON of shorter races on my schedule. They're fun. They keep me going in the winter. 

Another thing I've learned is that the more I race, the more I can enjoy races. Not every race is for a PR. Sometimes I goof off (like in Florida). Sometimes, I work on different strategies. Sometimes I test out Indian food the night before a race. 

Whatever my plan is for that day, I can have fun with it. It is WAY more fun for me to not treat every single race as the BIGGEST MOST IMPORTANT RACE IN MY WHOLE WORLD.

I've come up with a schedule that let's me do my tri's but gives me a lot of chance to work toward my 2:15 half goal.

Running isn't my only goal.

I want to really work on my bike. I'm not quite sure what happened last year. I need to prove that my bike speed last year wasn't a fluke. 

After the winter races, then I'm running a half marathon in NY with my brotha from anotha mutha. Given that it is about a month from my first tri of the season, I will probably run this one for fun. Definitely using an easier running strategy than I did in Vegas.

Rumor has it, I'll be going to AZ in March for a week. We'll see.

June, I'm thinking about a sprint tri
July, I've got a sprint tri at the beginning of the month and Then Rocky Mtn at the end of the month. 

Rocky Mtn will be my priority race. I would really like to see what I can do. I had a great race last year. I think I can beat it.

August, I'm thinking about doing an Oly.

A ton of the swim/runs (either at cherry creek, aurora or boulder res), and I'll call it a season.

Then, I'm into Sept. I'm going out to KS to run a half with Sam. There are a few at that time of year that look pretty good and that Sam is familiar with. We'll see how this goes (leading up to the race).  

Is it too close to Vegas (Dec 2nd ish) to run hard? Hmmm. We'll see.

Moving on....

ROAD TRIP anyone?

I would LOVE to visit IM Lake Tahoe (also September) and check out the course.

October: Maybe that's more of MY off-season. Nah. Because in November, I'll go back to attempt to annihilate my 2012 4mile Turkey Trot PR.

Also in November: I might be going to IMAZ, check out THAT course

December, it's back to Vegas.

And that's it. 

I think it's a great schedule. I'll get to visit some friends and have fun at local races.

I'm looking forward to it all.  After all the racing I've done this year, I think that's a good sign. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How I ran a 10 mile warm up for a 5k

This is now my 3rd attempt at writing a race report. 

I am going to make this my best attempt YET at staying on topic. If I manage to go off on tangents just skip to the parts you want to read about. My feelings aren't hurt.

What race?

Rock N Roll Vegas--half marathon

Before I even go into my race report, let's talk about this for a minute.

I had a lot of people complain about the price of the race, the price of travel, the cost of the hotel accommodations....

Here's the deal. There are THOUSANDS of half marathons and marathons. I bet if you looked hard enough, you can probably find one near your home.

THIS IS A DESTINATION RACE. YES it's expensive. YES you have to pay for all that stuff.

DON'T GO IF IT'S TOO MUCH FOR YOU. This was a race that I had planned with my friends. It was a getaway weekend that was a BLAST.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I recommend this race to everyone. I knew that I'd eat alot. I knew that I'd be up late at night. I didn't even care. 

I'd heard some people complain about the race from previous years (when I was at the start). I'll go through all of those. Either the RD listened to feedback or I just didn't have any of the issues people have had in previous years. 

The day before the Race

I signed up for the pasta dinner because it was the only night I didn't have plans. My friend Suzanne arrived earlier in the day and was meeting a friend for dinner. 

You know how the pasta dinners are, rather mediocre and bland. But, I really wanted to hear John The Penguin Bingham and Frank Shorter speak.

Due to a comedy of errors, I barely made it. I got to the dinner after the speeches were done and the dinner was almost over. 

Wasn't exactly what I was planning. I was tired. I had walked miles and miles getting from one place to another to the expo to the dinner and being lost all over the place.

When I got back to the MOST AWESOME room EVER, I decided to call it a day. I'd gotten up early. My legs were starting to get sore from the miles. (Probably not good the day before the half). I stretched and relaxed.

The Day of the Race

For those of you who are unaware, last year RNR made this race a night race. So, we have all day to hang out in Vegas.

I met Suzanne for the RNR Brunch. THIS time we got there almost right at the start. Still, all the tables were full with the exception of one table in the front.

This table has a wonderful couple from NZ, a guy from Ireland and two other guys.  We were all talking when the announcement was made that The Penguin and Shorter were going to speak!

BONUS! I was going to hear the speeches after all!  I turned to the guy next to me, and say, "I'm so excited I missed this last night!" 

But he didn't hear me because the two gentlemen had gotten up and were heading to the stage.


I was having breakfast with The Penguin and Frank Shorter and had no clue. If you know me, that shouldn't surprise you. 

After breakfast, it was a blur. I honestly cannot remember what we did. Somewhere in there, I had these banana crepes that I just drooled all over....really....THAT good. 

I don't know. 

At some point, I needed to get off my feet. 

BUT I JUST COULDN'T. Suzanne played blackjack. She couldn't walk much because of her broken foot, but that didn't stop me!

OH worthy of a mention here. WHAT TO WEAR was a pretty big deal. Suzanne and I went back and forth. The highs were going to be 70, but the CA storm was bringing in 40-50 mph winds. During the day, it was quite comfortable.

But once the sun goes down AND it's windy....I decided to go with the long sleeved shirt that I brought. My thinking was that I've run races and been really hot. If it turns out that way, I'll drink a little more and deal with it. I just cannot stand being cold, and I have a low tolerance for cold. I run in the cold, but I always bundle up.

The night of the race....well, afternoon really.

If you plan on doing this race, make sure you stay at a hotel that has a free shuttle to the start. The walks are not that far. (My hotel was 1.5 miles from the start). BUT, there is a ton of walking once you get to the start, and it's a long wait for the half marathon start and then for your corral to start. I was in corral 19. Suzanne was in 26. From the time we waited to catch the shuttle to the time I started running, 3 hours had passed.

None of this bothered me. You have to enjoy the experience. We stayed at the Palazzo. They had the best set up for the shuttle. It was incredibly organized.

The RD had tons of water and snacks at the start. Bands were playing. We all went over and watched the marathon start.

This is more than just a race. The whole experience was so much fun. I think the participants understood this. I talked and met so many people, and they were the nicest people I have EVER met at a race.

Just FYI: port-a-potty lines were long. Took me 30 minutes to get through it. Get in line early! (When I saw the lines, that's exactly what I did).

When Suz decided to go check her bag, we lost each other. I had to move from where I was as the street cleaners came through. With 60,000 people, be prepared to lose your friends.

Another note, please don't bring family and friends to the start. Sign them up for the text tracker and have them cheer you on from the hotel. Honestly, it will save THEM a ton of headaches. I didn't mind all the supporters there, but you could tell they were tired, especially the ones with small children. It's a long time to wait with kids. 

I'm a little sensitive toward the sherpas because poor Mr. Tea watched the boys for many years when they were small. He always looked more tired than me at the end of a race.

Learn from my mistakes.

The Race

This was going to be my 3rd race in 3 weeks. Until I did the half marathon in FL, I hadn't really considered going for a PR.

As I said before, there were SO MANY reasons why I shouldn't go for a PR here. 

The weeks leading up to the race, I didn't want to tell anyone. 

Then I read a quote on twitter. The gist of it was "Nothing great happens from conservative goals."  

Coach and I had already come up with a plan. I thought about it, and I said, "I want to be more aggressive." 

What did I have to lose? 

He sent me a new plan, not my traditional, 5/5/5 plan....noooooo, he sent me a beast of a plan.

If you want to know what it was, you have to hire him and go through all the punishing workouts that I endured over the past few months.

I will say this though. The first thing I thought was, "This is really going to hurt."

But that's what I wanted! I've spent too many years plodding along and just finishing half marathons. My times always come in a minute or two north or south of the same time.

At this point, I was willing to do whatever I had to do to get close to a PR. 

The question was, would I be able to handle it? If you have truly raced a half marathon, you know what I'm talking about. I don't care if your pace is a 6 min mile or a 13 min mile, if you are racing it.....it feels different.

I packed my garmin. I set my race, and I was going to go for it.

Of course, I had some parameters. I wasn't worried about the first 5 miles. I had to clear 10 miles in under 1:50 if I wanted to have a chance at a PR. 

I didn't care about the wind (which lived up to the forecaster's warning).

I was going to go for it.

I didn't execute perfectly. In fact, I screwed up in some spots. I ran too hard early and really throughout, but I was so into the crowds yelling and the other runners and bands playing. Given that, I think I did a pretty good job. I just wasn't as disciplined as I could have been. I don't think it really cost me. But I don't know, maybe it did.

It took a lot of discipline, though, to NOT check my time. I didn't want to stress about not making the 1:50 time for 10 miles. Finally, at mile 9, I realized how much my pace was dropping. I knew that I was going to make my goal of 1:50. 

miles 8 and 9 were a  pretty hard effort. When I hit mile 10 in 1:47 or 1:48, I knew I had a chance at a PR.

BUT I COULDN'T SLOW DOWN. I had to give it everything. Anything that I had, whatever it was, I had to give it if I wanted the PR.

At mile 10, 80% of the field was walking. It was a matter of weaving in and out for me. I would run all the way from left side to the right side. It was crazy.

I kept thinking "Stay focused. keep moving fast. don't slow down."

That's when I saw her.

A woman, dressed exactly like me, running my exact pace.

She's the one. For the next 3.1 miles, we raced. We didn't just run. We RACED. There were times, we bumped each other. There were times we lost each other at the aid station. 

But we were running. The previous 10 miles were just a warm up for this last 5k. Over the 3.1 miles, my pace dropped from 10:50 to 10:40 to 10:34. 

Let that sink in, my average for the entire half marathon dropped to 10:34 over the last 5k. 

It was the hardest I have ever run at the end of a half marathon.

My watched click: 2:19
Then 2:20.




Then we saw the finish. 

I didn't think I could hold it. The longest part of a half is that .1 miles. 

THEN I lost her. I stepped on the timing mat, and I couldn't find her. The person that pushed me to run harder than I have ever run. 

I was so tired.

Every part of my body hurt.

I just wanted to hug someone. I just PR'd. 

I wanted to thank her. She was gone.

The finish shoot is the longest finish shoot in history. I limped my way out. I started walking back to the hotel.

Still in disbelief. I did it. I thought I was a few years from getting a PR. Yea. I wanted it, but I....don't know. The reality hit me as I walked thinking about all of the hours I've put into training this year. 

Just then, I looked up. 

She was walking right in front of me.

I went up to her. I told her thank you. I told her that if it weren't for her pushing me I don't think I would have PR'd.

Then, she gave me a funny look. 

And with a very heavy Jamaican accent she said, "Lemme get a look atchoo girl."

She squints at me, "NO. Wait."

Then she grabbed my shoulders, AND I thought she was going to give me a hug. Instead, she spun me around.

"AH YES I RECOGNIZE that caboose! YOU! You made me run faster than I have ever run!"

WE talked and walked for a few more minutes before going to our own hotels.

The one really special thing about running in Vegas is the crowd. As I walked back to my room, people were giving me high fives. They were yelling CONGRATS RUNNER!

It was really amazing.

When I got to my floor, I was just overwhelmed. I was tired. I was hungry. I was hurting. I was happy. I wanted to tell my special people about my race. I knew they were tracking me, but I couldn't thank them. 

I started crying. Not just the little tears running down my face. I was bawling, right there, in the hallway of the Palazzo.

I finally reached my room, and I laid down. It was the best bed EVER.

And at that point, I won't say anything else. EXCEPT that it was a very late night consisting of eating and dancing until the wee hours in the morning.....as much as you can call what we are all doing "dancing".


The whole experience was amazing.

I thought I wouldn't be ready for a half marathon PR for a few years. 

If I did it once, I'm going to do again. I don't know when, but I have my sights set on 2:15.

Maybe next year. Maybe the year after.

When I finally do get to 2:15, I'll be ready to tackle the 70.3 again.

Until then, I'm going to enjoy this PR. I usually don't save my race medals, but this is one that I'm definitely going to save....at least until my next PR.