Posts Tagged With: race

Graniteman Triathlon

graniteman logo

It’s racing season!

Now that the lakes are finally thawed, triathlons are in full swing around Minnesota. I decided to forego the Buffalo Triathlon this year (which was my first tri ever last summer), since I’m a huge chicken and the water was FREEEZING. It’s worth mentioning the Buffalo Tri, however, as my rockstar buddy Jared WON the dang thing. First place, people!  So impressed by him.

buffalo tri - jared

The Graniteman is a series of 3 different triathlons in MN and is now in its 10th year. I managed to convince my sis-in-law to “try a tri” with me. She lives in St. Cloud, so the Graniteman was a logical choice. It’s fun to have someone to do these kinds of races with (and of course, to celebrate with and drink beer afterwards).

graniteman start

graniteman body marking

We have been getting some very serious storms this year and when my alarm went off at 5:15 AM the day of the race, it was raining cats and dogs with high winds and lightning. Not promising. But it looked like the severe weather was going to subside and the race was only delayed by ½ hour.

Swim – 1/3 mile : 13:18

The water temp in Lake George was a bit shocking, but with a wetsuit (albeit a sleeveless one), not too horrible. I managed to cut my foot on a rock right as I was running into the water, and ended up plucking rock chunks out of my cut foot later on that night. This was my very first open water swim of the season. I have been feeling much more confident in my swimming since I took a total immersion class at the YWCA this winter, however, the pool just can’t fully prepare you for the open water. Overall, I felt as though this swim went much more smoothly than the 2 other tris I did last summer. Baby steps, right?  It was also further than normal– 1/3 mile vs the standard 1/4 mile which is standard for a sprint distance triathlon.

T1 – 2:21

Out of the water and into the transition area. A bit sluggish in getting myself in order. Wetsuit off, goggles and cap off, feet wiped, socks & shoes on, helmet on, sunglasses on, hair in a ponytail, go. Looking like a drowned rat on a bike.

Bike – 15.? Miles: 53:28

The ride was out of St. Cloud and onto County Rd. 8 and back. The whole ride out was a gradual incline, which was a bit of a rough way to start (but would’ve been a much worse way to finish).  The way out was also against a pretty fierce wind. I struggled to stay above 15mph, until the turnaround – then the wind was at our backs and we were on a gradual decline the way back. I was able to stay between 19 and 22 mph pretty much the whole way back into town. My overall average speed was 17.6 mph.

They claim it was a 15 mile ride, but my bike computer (and their official course map) told me more like 15.5.  hmmmm…

T2 – 1:42

Switched into my new running shoes, grabbed a Gu, and headed out for the run. The transition area was pretty huge – quite some distance between the timing mats considering the number of participants. On a positive note, there was plenty of space for bikes and you weren’t running into people during transition.

Run – 3.1 Miles: 25:25

The run was pretty uneventful, and per the norm, my legs felt like they just wouldn’t move as fast as my brain was telling them to. I kept a pace of 8:46 per mile, which I’m content with. With about ¼ mile left to go, I spotted a girl up ahead with a “4” on her right calf (my age group) and decided there was no way I was going to let her beat me…. so I sped up and passed her about 2 minutes before crossing the finish. On the final stretch I started to sprint and was neck and neck with some guy – I looked at him and smiled and asked, “So… wanna race?”. We both sped up and sprinted across the finish line… Yep, I kicked his butt 🙂

granteman finish


I finished the race in 1:36
– I’m happy with my results personally, but in the grand scheme of things, I got schooled. I think a lot of the “average joes” like me probably decided to bail on the race last-minute due to weather (there were over 100 no-shows)….leaving me to contend with the die-hards.  I missed placing in my age group by 2 minutes. There’s always next year!

graniteman results

This was a fun and well-supported race, and I actually liked that it was much smaller than the others I’ve done. I wouldn’t hesitate to do another Graniteman event in the future.

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The Value of a Training Schedule

 

finish line

The weather here in MN is FINALLY starting to warm up, although we have had about the rainiest spring in history (seriously, rain all but about 5 days out of the last 40…C’mon!!). With the warmer weather comes the all too short-lived patio season. After a long day of work, it’s so tempting to forego your planned workout in favor of a margarita and some sunshine with friends. “I’ll just do it tomorrow”, you say. Again, happy hour beckons.

As our motivation to exercise is inversely related to the presence of sunshine, now’s the time of year to keep yourself in check. If you’re one of those people that can wake up at 5AM and get your workout in, way to go (I’m giving you an air five right now). Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people. Trust me, I’ve tried.

In discovering my interest for organized races like 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, duathlons, and triathlons in the past year or so, this time of year is characterized for me by a set training schedule for whatever event happens to be coming up next. I’m really not kidding – check out my recent tri training schedule that I’ve been carrying with me everywhere for the past 12 weeks:

 Tri Schedule

This is not to say that you have to follow the schedule to a “T” and never hang out with your friends on those rare, gorgeous, sunny days. I switch around my workouts regularly based on my plans for that week. but the mere fact that I HAVE the schedule to reference keeps me accountable. Sometimes I’ll get to the end of the week and have to make up those I missed on the weekends. And sometimes I miss one here or there entirely – but you know what? I certainly get more training in than if I were to just “wing it” and go workout when I felt motivated enough.

What do you want to achieve? There’s a training plan that can help you get there. These websites have easy-to-follow plans that can get you started and keep you driven to cross the finish line strong:

www.beginnertriathlete.com

www.trinewbies.com

www.c25k.com

www.runnersworld.com

www.shape.com

www.marathonrookie.com

www.triradar.com

Whatever your fitness level, there’s sure to be an event in your area that can both challenge you and keep you in check this summer. Visit a race site like www.runningintheusa.com to find a fun event/race near you. The first step is to register – once you’re committed, you’re more likely to follow-through on your training plans. Yeah, there’s a time and a place for burgers on the grill, margaritas, and pool lounging…but it will be all that much sweeter after you rock your scheduled workout 🙂

 

How do YOU stay motivated in the summer months?

 

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Cinco “Du” Mayo Duathlon

cinco du mayo logo
Well, the first race of the season is officially in the books!

It has been a rough “spring” here in MN to say the least. 2 snowfalls in May…what? So, when the forecast was showing rain and temps in the lower 30’s for our Duathlon last Saturday, we shouldn’t have been surprised.

The Cinco “du” Mayo Duathlon is always held the weekend closest to Cinco de Mayo in Stillwater, MN. There are 2 courses to choose from – the long course, consisting of a 5k, 20 mile bike ride, followed by another 5k, or the short course – a 2 mile run, 10 mile bike, and another 2 mile run. For the 2nd year in a row, Mike and I decided to do the short course.

We woke up Saturday morning to a balmy 33 degrees and rain. Started the day off on the wrong foot when our bike rack broke while trying to mount it to the car. Somehow Mike was able to finagle it to function well enough and we were on our way. We arrived in Stillwater about 5 minutes before they were scheduled to close the transition area. Lucky for us, the race coordinators were pretty lax on the rules…probably on account of the nasty weather we all had to deal with.

 cinco du mayo mike and ash


Run leg #1: 16:06

It was so chilly, we were all jumping around trying to keep warm and just couldn’t wait for the race to start so we could heat up. I started out my personal blunders by failing to double-knot my right shoe, which came completely untied after the first ½ mile. I wasn’t about to stop in the middle of such a short run, so I just dealt with the loose shoe and hoped I wouldn’t fall flat on my face. I finished run leg #1 in 16:06, or 8:03/mile avg…a pretty decent clip for me.

T1: 2:17

This transition was a disaster. If I really cared about my time, I would’ve kicked myself for how poky I was being. The quick run had warmed me up enough to remove my bulky jacket. In doing that, my headphones and phone got stuck around my race belt and I spent far too much time untangling everything. Plus with the ground being wet from the rain, I spent entirely too long taking off my running shoes and hopping around on one foot like an idiot to get into my cycling shoes. I’m sure the spectators found it pretty entertaining.

Bike leg: 38:55

As soon as I crossed the mount line, I clicked in and started going, only to have my pant leg catch in my bike chain. Whoops. I had forgotten to put on my ankle strap (probably because you shouldn’t have to wear PANTS to a race in May!).  So I had to stop, click out, get off my bike, put down my kickstand, and attach my strap…then get back to it.

This bike course is considered “highly coveted” training grounds for triathletes, due to its many rolling hills. Man, they aren’t kidding. The cold temps, combined with the wind and the hills made for a tough ride. Over the short 10-mile course, we climbed almost 500 feet in elevation. And for some reason, it seemed as though what went up did NOT come down. It felt like we were climbing hills about 80% of the time.

I averaged about 15.5 mph on the course. I feel like I definitely could improve my speed here. I foresee hill training is in my future…

cinco du mayo bike photo

T2: 1:56

Another sluggish transition…although I did make sure to double-knot both of my shoes this time around!

Run leg #2: 16:42

Coming off such a hilly bike ride, my legs felt like lead for the first mile or so on the run course. This is another one of those things I really need to force myself to practice if I plan on doing an Olympic triathlon. It felt like my legs were independent of my body for the first 10 minutes, then I got my momentum back. 36 seconds longer than the first run, but still managed to average an 8:21 mile. I closed the gap with a super speedy girl in front of me (who I later met and found out is a marathon runner), but couldn’t manage to pass her and ended up literally crossing the finish 2 seconds behind her. I was thankful that I was trying to pace with this chica or I imagine my 2nd run would have been much slower.

My first “Win”

I ended up finishing the race in 1:15:53, which is about a minute slower than last year. But when the race results came in, I was surprised to read that I had actually WON my age category, and took 5th place overall female! Of the top 4 women, 3 of them were 35 and one was 48!  Looks like some things do get better with age.

I was pretty stoked to get my very first ever race “trophy” – an etched margarita glass – which we promptly filled with a celebratory margarita when we got home!

 cinco du mayo finish

 

This was a fun, laid-back event and a great start to the spring, despite the yucky weather. Plus, you can’t really go wrong with free tacos and post-race margaritas 🙂

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Preparing for my first 1/2 Marathon

 

This Saturday I’ll attempt to run my first ½ marathon. With about 14,000 other runners. Holy moly!

The Monster Dash is apparently one of the largest ½ marathon events in the upper Midwest. And it’s also supposed to be a total blast. I’ve yet to comprehend how running for over 2 hours can create a crazy party-type atmosphere, but I guess I’ll find out in a few days.

This is my buddy, Jared. He likes to party.

There is a costume contest, and live bands every mile or so on the course…which is pretty much awesome. I haven’t decided if I’ll dress up. I think this time around, it might be more important to be comfortable than costumed.

So many runners!

My “Training”

There are a zillion different training schedules out there for people like me who have never attempted the 13.1 mile endeavor. You can check a few of them out here, here, and here….

Frankly, I couldn’t fathom the thought of running 4+ days per week and ignoring all other forms of training. When I trained for my first Triathlon last spring, I did just that – nothing but swimming, biking, and running for 3 months. I really missed weightlifting and found it tough to get back into it after the Tri. So, needless to say, I wanted to get the ½ marathon under my belt, but decided that a traditional run-heavy training plan was just not my cup ‘o tea.

Full disclosure: I will say that I certainly do think those 10-20 week training plans are smart, and a great way to increase your mileage slowly and avoid injury. So, in doing it “my way”, I took precautions and didn’t register for the event until a couple of weeks ago (once I had successfully completed an 11-mile “long run” and felt confident that I could take on the distance).

I do one “long run” each week. About 2 months ago, these “long runs” consisted of about 6-8 miles. I then gradually increased this mileage by about 1 mile per week, until my final long run of 12 miles last Monday. In between, I only run once or twice again each week…always under 5 miles.  Not your traditional ½ marathon training, but I have been able to improve my endurance, so apparently my way works too J

Pre-Race Checklist

A few items I won’t leave home without…

Pedialyte – WAY better (in my opinion) at hydrating than sports drinks. This stuff has been my savior on many of my long runs. 1 packet mixed with 8 oz water beforehand to pump myself full of electrolytes.

Ibuprofen – I’m generally against pills of any kind…but I’m not gonna lie. I will be taking 3 or 4 prior to the event to reduce swelling and pain in my knees and ankles. Do what works for you.

Well-fitting sports bra – I made the mistake of wearing a loose-fitting sports bra on one of my long runs. Never again. Owie.

Gu – I’ll bring along one Chocolate-flavored Gu packet, just in case. I may not end up using it, but would like to have it as an extra source of energy in case I hit a wall halfway through.

Music – this race actually allows headphones/iPods, etc.  Not that it will be necessary, with live bands every 10 minutes….but I’ll bring it just in case I require a Ke$ha fix to keep my feet moving.

CardioTrainer – Along with my music, my phone has an app called CardioTrainer that I use religiously when running. I literally will not run without it. Every couple of minutes, it tells me my speed and distance. This is OH SO IMPORTANT for me in a race, so I can pace myself and resist the tendency to start out too fast and bonk before reaching the finish line.

 

Ready or not…

I may not be the fastest (BAH!) but I feel as though I’m ready to run on Saturday. I’m going to be smart and listen to my body, take a couple of walk breaks if I need to, and try my best to have FUN while I’m doing it.

…Bring it!

How do you mentally prepare for your first attempt at a particular distance or event?

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YWCA Women’s Triathlon

 

I have been a bad blogger lately. Life is busy…what can you do? Post your race recaps months after you complete them? Ok, deal.

 

The YWCA Women’s Triathlon on August 12th was a random, last minute decision on my part. I literally registered on the VERY FINAL day that they were accepting registrations. Needless to say, I hadn’t been doing much biking or swimming at all since my first triathlon in June. But what the heck. I’m not out to break any records.

 

It was about 65 degrees and drizzly that morning, which is actually pretty awesome for the athletes. However, I did feel bad for all of the shivering spectators who had to stand outside and wait for their loved ones to cross the finish line (sorry hunny).

 

Swim: 13:06

As I may have mentioned once or twice (or a dozen times), I am not the best swimmer out there. I did my best to keep my head down as much as possible during the 500 yard swim and to not get kicked in the face. I’d like to look into getting some swim coaching this winter…if anyone is familiar with a good program in the Twin Cities, hit me up!

 

T1: 2:44

It was quite a long transition from the beach to the bikes. Plus, my bike rack was in the very back corner of the parking lot. ugh. I wiped off my sandy feet and threw on my socks and bike shoes…helmet, check. Sunglasses, check. Go!

 

Bike: 48:51

I think this bike course was the flattest 15 ½ miles I have ever ridden in my life. AWESOME. I was only passed a couple of times by some pretty badass looking chicks, but most of the ride I was doing the passing (yay!). The bike definitely continues to be my strong suit, and I stayed over 19mph throughout the whole leg.

T2: :53

Helmet off, bike shoes off, running shoes on and go. Speedy Gonzales….zoom

 

Run: 27:37

Well hello, brick legs!  The run took us around Lake Nokomis and was a nice flat course. There were plenty of spectators cheering on the participants, which is always my favorite part about these events. I was a little disappointed with my time on the run; as I know I’m capable of a sub-26 minute 5k…guess it just wasn’t my day.

I crossed the finish line for a final time of 1:33:09 and came in 179th out of 967 athletes overall.

 

This was a super fun and laid-back event. There were several hundred first-time triathletes who participated, so it is very beginner-friendly. I may or may not do this one again next year…However, I would highly recommend it to anyone (females only, sorry guys) who has thought about doing a Tri but feels intimidated about being a first-timer. It is a well-supported race throughout and there are ton of people who participate with the goal of just finishing and having fun.

Why do you race? Is it to keep you motivated and on track?  Just for fun? Or to consistently challenge yourself?

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Fitness Friday 9/14


A recap of this week’s efforts to maintain a strong, healthy body…

 

Saturday
Warrior Dash!  This was the first “mud run” event I have ever done. How FUN! I love getting dirty – it makes me feel like a little kid again.

 

Sunday
Owwwwww….I feel dumb. I had decided to do the Warrior Dash in my Vibrams to avoid squishy, sloppy running shoes and to help me climb through the obstacles more easily. It worked like magic, but when I woke up on Sunday I could hardly walk. My calves were like bricks and I felt like I may have created a stress fracture in my foot. Nice going, Ashley. No exercise for me. I even had to call in injured to work!

 

Monday
We had suite tickets to the Twins game and….get this…they actually WON the game. Yes, really. It’s a miracle. The suites at Target Field are amazing. I’ve been in suites at many a sporting event, but this was over the top nice. There is even a private elevator that takes you to the suite level and an attendant to press the button for you. Thank goodness, because I don’t know if my dainty fingers could have managed. We noshed on free junk food, drank Bud Light, and were able to watch the US Open final, an NFL game, and the Twins game all at the same time.

 

Tuesday
my legs and feet were still definitely not up to par, so I decided to do an intense upper body workout instead. I did P90x Shoulders & Arms, combined with 6 sets of pushups (140 total)

 

Wednesday
Sushi happy hour for a friend’s birthday at Fujiya in uptown…that lasted until 9pm. Oops, no workout today!

 

Thursday
I was feeling super sluggish since I hadn’t done anything cardio-related in almost a week. I’m still nursing this stress fracture/deep bruise/whatever the heck is wrong with my foot, so I’m trying to avoid running for a while. Instead, I went to the gym and did about 7 miles on the stationary bike and 25 minutes on the stair mill, followed up with 160 pushups. This 100 Pushups android app is sure deceiving. Um, app people? 160 > 100. I’m sure you are aware of this. How many more is it going to make me do!? I promise, you will not catch me doing 500 pushups a day.

 

 

Happy weekend, friends!

 

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Spirit of the Lakes 10K

 

I signed up for the Spirit of the Lakes 10K race in Mound a month or so beforehand, with every intention of training for this distance. I had cranked out 6 miles a couple of times on random days when I was feeling particularly ambitious, but had not consistently run more than my regular 3.5 mile loop around the golf course. So I went into this event feeling pretty unprepared to say the least. Lucky for me, this year was the very first time this race has been held, so it was somewhat small and not at all intimidating 🙂

I made sure to properly hydrate for several days prior, as I have made the mistake of not drinking enough water before, then bonked halfway through the race.  When the gun went off, I had to keep mentally repeating that I would pace myself, and not try to keep up with those runners who would inevitably pass me.

So I did just that. The course was VERY hilly and wound in and out of neighborhoods. Plus, it was getting hotter and more humid by the minute. There were 3 people ahead of me that I kept in view the whole race. The last couple of miles, I realized I still had plenty of gas left in the tank, so I picked up speed and ended up passing all 3 of them during the last mile…glad I started out slow!

According to CardioTrainer, my times were:

Mile 1: 9:04
Mile 2: 8:57
Mile 3: 9:16
Mile 4: 9:06
Mile 5: 9:10
Mile 6: 8:33

I crossed the finish at 54:46, according to the race clock. I took 2nd in my age group, with the winner coming in just 14 seconds ahead of me. This was a nice opportunity for me to see if I like longer distances, as I’m considering trying a ½ marathon or 10-miler before the snow flies. I decided that I like doing longer distance races, but I hate training for them…it’s just so boring!  Maybe I need to join a running club or something to keep me entertained during long, lonely training runs…ideas??

 

How do you motivate yourself to do long training runs? Do you run with a buddy or group, or rely on your ipod for entertainment?

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Turtle Lake Turtle Trot

We took an extended vacation over the 4th of July and relaxed at the family cabin in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin for a whopping 5 DAYS!  It was just what we needed to recharge our batteries, and the weather was PERFECT for being extremely lazy… 90+ degrees and super humid. We did lots of swimming (and floating) in the lake and even more lounging under big umbrellas.

Life. Is. Good.

We decided to actually shower and head into Turtle Lake for the carnival (inter-county fair weekend). The folks grabbed a corn dog and we had some cold beers while listening to a bad cover band. Around 11PM (and several beers in), I overheard that there was a “Turtle Trot” the next morning. For whatever reason, I decided that I was up for it. We then went home and proceeded to play dice for a couple of hours. Oops…

Not sure how I managed to grapple my way out of bed the next morning at 6:30. We headed down to the starting line and I registered on the spot for the 2-miler. Not surprisingly, I wasn’t feeling up for the 10K option 🙂

I learned that the Turtle Trot has been going on for 36 consecutive years. There was even one competitor there who had participated in ALL 36 races…WOW!  Small-town events are so much fun. I was probably one of the few foreigners who wasn’t from either Turtle Lake, Almena, or Cumberland, Wisconsin.

After some brief comedy, the gun fired and we took off…”Take a right at the farm house, go down to the end of the corn field, and turn around at the cone”…This couldn’t possibly be any more Wisconsin. Love it.

Since it was just a 2 miler, I decided to push my pace a little. Unfortunately, I was super dehydrated (from 4 days of drinking beer in the sun, no doubt), and I had a side ache pretty much from the start. I tried to ignore it the best I could and finished the race in 17:25.

I was the 9th place overall female out of a few hundred total participants. It was fun to people-watch and interesting to participate in a non-computerized race. The coordinators were surprisingly efficient at ranking the competitors; given all they had was a watch and stickers for each person. Makes sense…they’ve been doing it this way for 36 years.  If we’re in town for the carnival again next year, I’ll definitely do it again. Maybe next time I will be up for the 10K and will substitute a few Coronas with WATER the day before!

 

Have you ever decided to participate in an event at the last second? 

 

 

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Joe Plant Memorial 5k

Joe Plant was a young St. Paul police officer who passed away unexpectedly in 2008. He was an avid runner, and his friends and family founded an annual 5k race in his honor. The race is called “Living the Dream”, and proceeds go to the Joseph E Plant Memorial Scholarship Fund at St. Cloud State University (my alma mater!) for students in the Criminal Justice program.

I learned about this event from my friend Pat, a current St. Paul police officer and former friend of Joe Plant. He and his girlfriend were planning to participate. I have very few friends who do these kinds of things, so I jumped at the opportunity to have company! On my way to the race at 8AM, I found out that Pat was just coming off a 30 hour work shift and was not going to make it to the race. Wow, I can’t blame him!

So I’m a loner, hanging out with a bunch of cops I don’t know and just soaking in the sun beforehand. It was going to be a HOT day with highs in the 90s. Good thing these races start early.

There appeared to be about 300 or so people in attendance. The horn sounded, and we took off around Lake Phalen in St. Paul. It’s nice to discover new places to run in the Twin Cities, and Lake Phalen was a great change to my typical runs around Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. I don’t plan on driving to St. Paul regularly to run here or anything…just a nice change of pace 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started at a pretty quick (for me) pace of about 7.5mph… after the first mile I had only seen 2 other females pass me by, so I started to think maybe I had a chance of placing.  The rest of the race, only a few additional men passed me, and I paced myself with an older gentleman the last 1.5 miles. I finished confidently (despite REALLY having to pee) for a 5k PR of 25:19.

I am always so AMAZED at how fast some of these runners are. The top finishing guy ran it just over 18 minutes. It turns out I

was not the third, but the fourth overall female – there was another woman about a minute ahead of me that I hadn’t even realized was there. Dang! I think the fact that I was mistaken actually improved my time. If I had thought I had no chance at 3rd, I probably would have slowed down toward the end. The mind plays interesting tricks on us!

Although I was flying solo, I made conversation with some people, petted their dogs, and scarfed some fruit snacks and a chocolate chip cookie. Then I headed home and treated myself to an ice cold cider beer in the sun. Not a bad way to start a Saturday morning!

Have you ever done a race where you don’t know a single person there? How do you deal with heat and humidity on race day?

 

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