2013 Rock ‘N’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon Race Report

Finished.
Finished.

What a difference an hour and 58 minutes makes.

Let’s back up.

Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll is a giant cluster. I was going to write about the logistical nightmare that this race is for me (and for anyone else who doesn’t live inside Seattle), but I don’t even want to waste anymore words on it. And I refuse to even go into the cost that is in addition to registration: parking for expo, parking for race, the gas to get to downtown Seattle twice in two days since I live out in BFE. So, I’m ending my rant with one paragraph. Moving on.

I don’t want to rag on the race because it is a fun one. The atmosphere is party-like and it’s cool to see so many friends on the course. It’s A TON of people, though, and I am getting older because and do not like being around so many people. Also, get off my lawn!

Next year, IF I’m in town, I will happily spectate, take photos, make a funny sign, ring a cowbell, dance around like an idiot because I drank too much….you know; the usual.

Friday before the race, 8-months-pregnant Mel (Tall Mom on the Run) and I went to the expo together. I drove and we actually found a cheap place to park (only $7!). Last year, I paid $15. We felt like rock star Seattle drivers. We saw many friends at the expo, and spend a lot of time chatting. I decided to completely ignore those wise words of running—“Don’t try anything new on race day”—and I bought a super cute “Half Crazy” black burn-out tank top from the Gypsy Runner. (Plus, I got another sticker to add to my car. It’s little and red and says “I love to tri” and it was only a buck!)

rnr13_expo
Stacie (Impossible is Nothing), and Mel and me in matching shoes.

We were there for a couple hours, and I was able to eat “lunch” with the amount of samples available. Washed it all down with some Watermelon Nuun.

It’s all fun and good until you remember you have to run 13 miles the next day.

You guys. I had no business running this race. My longest run was 9 miles…on May 12. May 12 to June 22. Is that too long of a taper? I ran the Rainier to Ruston Relay (including the tough, muddy 7-mile trail portion of it) on June 1. Since I totaled about 13 miles that day, I called it a long run.

The weekend BEFORE the half, I completed my first triathlon–a sprint triathlon. I’m sorry, but the word “sprint” totally makes it sound easy. But it’s still over an hour of exertion. For me, an hour and a half! I don’t know anyone who can sprint for an hour and a half. So, I didn’t run much the week between the tri and the half. And by “I didn’t run much,” I mean I ran once.

The two things I had going for me was weight loss and strength work. I was down 5 pounds (now 6 since it’s taken me a week to write this), and I have been really concentrating on strength and interval training. So I’m stronger and a little leaner that I was at the beginning of June. That doesn’t really qualify me to run a half marathon, though. Although in my head, it does.

Unfortunately, I had some other things going AGAINST me besides the lack of training. One, was my brain. I was not in it. I was in denial about the race. I didn’t want to think about how to get to it. I didn’t want to think about running it. In fact, I didn’t really want to run at all.

The other was my schedule.

As you may know, our family hobby is dog shows. Bennie, who is finished (which means he’s an American Champion), is now what us crazy dog show people call a “special.” This means we show him in the “Best of Breed” ring only. He competes against other specials and the day’s winning class dog and bitch (haha, yes I said bitch—it means female dog, get over it). If he wins Best of Breed, he gets to move on to the Working Group ring. Do I need to keep explaining this? If you’re curious how a dog show works, click here for an explanation from the American Kennel Club.

Pretty Bennie.
Pretty Bennie.

In addition to me being entered in the Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll half, Bennie was also entered in a dog show…in Oregon—just outside of Portland. That’s about a 3-hour drive (plus a little more). Normally, we would take our coach down there and camp with the other dog show freaks, and no problems. But because I had the half, we didn’t do that.

The plan was to drive back and forth since the show was so late in the day on Saturday (1:20) and not too early on Sunday. My husband was going to take our son with him on Saturday while I enjoyed the race and the “after party” that Brooks Running was hosting for some bloggers…even though I confessed I’d rather go to the dog show than run.

That was the plan.

Seattle RnR Half Race Morning

Got up at 4:15 since the other part of the plan was to leave the house at 5:15. I was driving my husband’s Malibu since he needed the Odyssey to haul the dog and kid to Oregon. I was going to swing by and pick up my neighbor and first-time halfer, J, then stop about 20 minutes down the road and pick up Christine.

Kasey, who was running her first full, was staying with a friend not too far from me, and met me at my house. She was early and I was running around making last minute decisions. Do I want coffee? Should I take all my keys? No. Wait. I need to lock the house. Screw it; I’ll just take the whole thing and leave them in the car.

We hit the road about 5:16, but each stop put us farther behind. Nobody was late or anything. I just didn’t factor the stops into our overall travel time. When we got off the freeway about 6 a.m. in downtown Seattle, the road I’d planned on being open was closed. Remain calm.

I stayed mostly calm, drove up a couple blocks and we were able to get through and get to our pre-planned parking lot. Whew!

It was 6:15 when we were finally heading up the road a couple blocks to the start. We still needed to check bags and go potty before the blogger meet-up at 6:40. Well…

Kasey and I were JUST getting in the potty line at 6:40. Oh well. There goes the blogger meet-up. NBD. Remaining calm.

rnr13_kasey
Kasey before her first full!

About 6:50, my phone rang. I figured it was Zoe (Run, Zoe, Run) or someone wondering where we were. So I was surprised to see my husband’s profile on my phone…for about a second. As I was answering, I knew why he was calling and my stomach dropped into my double-knotted Brooks.

I. Had. All. The. Keys.

My van key was on the keys I decided to take with me at the last minute because I needed to lock the front door…in the Malibu…now parked in downtown Seattle. I learned the van spare, which I’d been wondering about its location for weeks, was in the Malibu…now parked in downtown Seattle. The keys to the coach? Both sets? In the van…parked in the driveway, but whose keys were…in the Malibu…parked in downtown Seattle.

I was so upset with myself. It completely ruined my mood. I said I would come home, but my husband said that would be silly.

I know. I KNOW! It’s JUST a dog show. But we’d specifically entered under the Saturday judge because he gave Bennie his final win in his championship last summer. So…opportunity missed for Best of Breed or Grand Champion points because of ME and this freaking race.

In addition to feeling like an a-hole, I was getting upset because Kasey and I had been standing in the potty line and barely moving for like 25 minutes. Not going, though, was not an option, okay.

The race started. Sure, our corrals were not first to go across the start line, but there’s something about being in your corral for the start. The energy and excitement is contagious. We should’ve left my house earlier.

Luckily, some super informed dude came by our section of the potty line and told us that if we just went up the block a bit we would see that there were several shorter lines for the potties. Dude! We were in and out in about 5 minutes after that.

Since the race had started, Kasey and I just found an opening in the corral fences. “What corral are you in!” we’d holler. We were waiting for 11 because I really wanted to find my ol’ running buddy Zoe.

While waiting we met two other bloggers…and now I can’t remember who they were! If you’re reading this, comment pretty please! I was in a foul mood and then running 13 miles after that pretty much did a number on my brain.

I suspected Mel’s husband, Muscle Man, and Zoe would be together and when 11 came by, there they were! I was so happy to find Zoe. Even if it was just to start. I needed to find her! It helped with the bad mood I was in from the Great Car Key Mishap of 2013. Kasey and I jumped in and we jogged with the corral to the start. Mel spotted us and took pictures. Why we are so excited to torture ourselves, I don’t know.

rnr13_start
Fakin’ it, I guess. Muscle Man, me and Zoe at the start.

The Race

Then we started running. It was crowded, but not that bad considering the amount of people in the race…about 12,000, I think.

Seattle Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon Course Map.
Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon Course Map.

The start was a little different this year. It’s basically the same start as the Seattle Marathon—run down 5th under the monorail—except the Seattle Marathon is in late November/early December and it is still dark and there are twinkly lights on the trees. That race is magical (but cold). This race…it was already sunny and warm. We’re melllllting!

After a couple minutes of running, I blurted out, “Whew! I’m tired. Are we done yet?” I got some awesome looks.

Mile 1: 8:39 (weaving)

Mile 2: 8:16 (downhill)

Right after that, Zoe remembered that she forgot to bring her inhaler. But then she had an idea. Nuun was set up just outside their office, which is on the course. So, at about Mile 3, we stopped at Nuun. One of Zoe’s co-workers ran in and got her extra inhaler from her desk while we hydrated ourselves. He was fast; probably only 90 seconds. Neither of us were “racing,” but I was hoping to get under two hours, so I was anxious to get running again.

Mile 3: 9:54 (stopped for inhaler)

We had fun high-fiving the cheer squads along the course, pointing out weird outfits (silver lamée shorts…on a dude), and just running in silence—maneuvering around slower peeps, finding openings in the pack, etc.

Mile 4: 8:07 (I think this is when I pointed out we were going too fast)

Mile 5: 8:42 (got water; had first GU)

We noticed some course changes along the way. The steep hill that I remembered from last year being around Mile 5 was gone. That was nice. *understatement*

At Mile 6, the course meets up with Lake Washington. It’s really pretty and I enjoy the two miles along the shore. Two miles. Out of 13.

Mile 6: 8:24 (cruise-mode)

Mile 7-8 is where the Leukemia Society and Wear Blue to Remember folks set up pictures of those who have passed. It is heart-wrenching. I tried to keep my hand on my heart as I ran past the soldiers’ families and friends. I choked out “thank you,” a couple of times, and I cried a little. Gets me every year. At Mile 8, you start a gradual climb, then it turns into a monster hill to get up onto the I-90 bridge and then the dreaded tunnel.

Mile 7: 8:40 (I said to Zoe, “This pace is comfy.”)

Mile 8: 8:48 (heading uphill; still “comfy”)

After that, into the almost 1-mile-long freeway tunnel we went. It’s slightly uphill, but it’s also creepy and weird in there. We booked it through the tunnel as usual. We passed people right and left. It was tough, but not too hard. It was like a tempo run. A volunteer was passing out GU and I grabbed one. I held on to it because I didn’t know where the next water station would be and I don’t like to take GU without water.

Mile 9: 8:47 (not sure of the accuracy because Garmin lost signal in the tunnel; felt like we were going much faster)

Heading down from the bridge during Mile 10 and still no water! I ended up taking it amyway because Zoe kept asking me about it. “Did you take your GU yet? Did you take your GU yet?” Alright, woman! I will take it! Sheesh!

Of course, after the race, I found out she was bugging me because she could tell my energy was low. We’d slowed a little. The pace that had been comfy (8:40) was becoming difficult. She could tell I was hitting a wall and we were headed into the hilliest section of the course. So, I took it and then had to deal with the icky thickness that sticks around on your tongue till we found water half way between 10 and 11.

Mile 10: 8:55 (slowly hitting a wall)

Seattle Rock 'N' Roll elevation
Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll elevation

But by then I really hated distance running. I was very negative inside my head…and maybe on the outside, too. And my feet were bleeding. Well, not really, but it felt like they were. The soles of my feet hurt very bad. They hurt like someone pressed them with a hot iron. They hurt like full marathon feet do.

Plus, I could feel the blisters I got at Rainier to Ruston (R2R) four weeks earlier coming back. Okay, so this is partially my fault because that morning when I put on my socks, the same socks I wore during for muddy Leg 2 of R2R, I noticed they still had some dirt stuck to them.

Muddy socks.
Muddy socks.

 

When I stretched them, a little poof of dust went into the air. Still? I rinsed them with the hose and then washed them in the washing machine weeks ago. As I was putting them on the morning of Rock ‘N’ Roll, I noticed it, but I did not want to waste time changing my socks. Plus, it’s so much work to get compression socks on! Am I right?!

Stupid! The very fine layer of dust/sand/whatever felt like I was rubbing sandpaper on my feet…for two hours.

Yeah, so I think it was between Miles 10 and 11 that I decided I need a break from long distance running. I really hated running right then.

However, I kept going. I don’t like to give up, so I kept cranking my legs. Miles 11-13 are the hilliest of the whole course. It’s really, really hard. I thought about the full marathoners and how much that was going to suck for them. I thought about how I hate this course and how I am glad I did not register for next year. I thought about the fact that I’m signed up for a full in December and how I might have to sell my bib because why did I sign up for a full? I thought about how much running sucks.

Mile 11 climbs up on Highway 99. The view is amazing: the Seattle waterfront, the Sound, the ferris wheel, the Olympic mountains. But it’s uphill so you REALLY can’t enjoy it. Zoe pointed out a little plane pulling a banner (from Brooks) that said: “Run Happy.”

“Bah,” I mumbled.

Zoe was pulling me along now. Where earlier in the race, I’d had bursts of speed to pass people or to high-five a spectator (or a whole row of cheerleaders), now I was just trying to keep up with her.

Drafting. Later, she told me I should’ve scheduled 3 GUs. I think she was right.

Mile 11: 8:41

There is another tunnel at Mile 12ish. Inside the dark tunnel, the road is extremely banked for a bit. It sucks. It hurts. At the end of the tunnel, a guy was down. He looked like he is probably a pretty fast runner. The medics were treating him…talking loudly to him. Headed into the tunnel were two more medics with a stretcher. Poor guy. So, so close.

Mile 12: 9:20 (not sure of accuracy since Garmin lost signal in tunnel; I might’ve been slower than this)

Once out of the tunnel after Mile 12, you go downhill and straight into a blind turn, then WHAM: There is the hill to the finish. It is a mother. I let Zoe go. She has an amazing finishing kick, and she destroyed that hill.

According to Seattle RnR’s elevation map, the elevation at Mile 12.5 is 48. The elevation at 13.1 is 106.

I simply could not move my legs any faster up the hill. I willed them to go with all of the very few brain cells I had left, but I could only muster slow-mo. I felt like I had 20-pound weights strapped to each foot.

I didn’t walk. But I probably should have because at the top of the hill, the finish line is farther away than you want it to be. Probably not a quarter-mile, but close. The top of the hill doesn’t really flatten out. It’s still an incline. And your legs are so dead. I hate it. It’s not a fun way to end a race…feeling like death.

Apparently, Mel was yelling at me. But I was busy dying so I didn’t hear her.

"I hate running."
“I hate running.”

Mile 13: 9:20

.1: 3:17 (9:36 pace)

After crossing the finish line, I had to just keep moving because I felt like passing out. I was super grumpy (this seems to be a recurring theme for me), but Zoe kept a smile on her face. And we got to see Sybil, which was nice! (Sorry if I was being a Ms. Pissy Pants.)

I just snuck in under 1:58 with a 1:57:48 chip time. People thought I was disappointed with my time, but I was just grumpy about running in general. No worries.

Results:
1:57:48
121/1305 (F35-39)
671/7998 (Female)
1962/12420 (Overall)

We got some photos from MarathonFoto. If you want to see them, click on the link. I don’t want to steal.

After that, I needed to call my husband. It was only 9:45 a.m. and since I was practically brainless at this point, I thought maybe I could leave right then and make it home in time to drive down to Portland for the show at 1:20. Remember, the drive to Oregon takes about 3 hours. Plus the time it would take for me to pick up my checked bag and navigate the closed streets of downtown Seattle then drive home. Duhr.

After Zoe and I picked up our bags, we reunited with friends and hung out for a while—Mel and Muscle Man, Tiffany, Alyssa and her BF, Christine, and my neighbor J even joined us. I was still sort of hating running.

rnr13_dumb
“Running is dumb.”
Mel, Zoe and me
Mel, Zoe and me
Alyssa and her BF
Alyssa and her BF
Me and my neighbor, J
Me and my neighbor, J
Christine and me
Christine and me

Me, Tiff and Zoe headed to the beer garden to claim our “free” Michelob (aka water).

Zoe, Mel, me and Tiff.
Zoe, Mel, me and Tiff.

Side note: Can’t RnR Seattle get a good craft beer? Seriously. This is Seattle. Coffee and craft beer. It’s like our thing.

We then headed over to the Maxwell Hotel for a Brooks After Party that OnlineShoes.com invited some bloggers to. They had lots and lots of pizza and salad to eat…and of course shoes to look at.

We were also treated to gift bags. I was really tired (and grumpy) so I hope I didn’t seem ungrateful at the event. I am pumped to try out the new Women’s Brooks Ghost 6 and the Glycerins. I’m also very excited about my new hat.

rnr13_runhappy

Thanks, Brooks! I will “Run Happy!” (Unless it’s more than 3 miles.)

That reminds me…I saw this guy and totally had to have my picture taken with his shirt:

Yep.
Yep.

After the Brooks and OnlineShoes.com party, I ran into (So Not) Super Runner Mom and we chatted on our way back to Seattle Center. But then I had to locate my husband’s vehicle. Alone. I’d hoped to stay and watch Kasey finish her full, but now that the hubs and son were trapped at home with no keys, I had to leave.

I have a smartphone, but the problem is that you have to be smarter than the phone to use it. I was getting very confused looking at the little walking directions and I kept going the wrong way, then I went too far. I felt like I was walking in circles. My husband texted me to see where I was. I told him I was lost in Seattle. On foot. By myself. In my flip flops. With all my stuff.

My feet hurt. My brain was foggy.

I texted him back, “I just want to come home!” Yeah. I was a baby. I cried and walked and walked. I added at least another mile or two on my day before I found the little black Malibu all alone in the parking lot.

Final Thoughts on Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll

Tough. This course is tough. The last three miles… I was undertrained, yes. We ran too fast in the first half. Probably. It was warmer than usual. Definitely.

I don’t know why I can’t just run and relax, and enjoy myself. The one time I did that was during the full marathon and I had a blast. For some reason, though, I feel I have to try to “win” every time. And then I end up hating myself and anyone else around me.

I was the most sore I’ve been after almost any race for the rest of the day and Sunday. My stomach muscles, quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves…they all hurt. Most annoying was that my knees and ankles hurt, and my shins. My joints hurt? I’m getting too old for this.

What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting Much for the Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon

Saturday is the Rock ‘N’ Roll Seattle half. I haven’t been running that much, though, so I’m not really sure what to expect.

My last “long run” was my three legs of the Rainier to Ruston relay, which equaled about 13 miles throughout the day. Before that, it was 9 miles on May 12! Um.

I’ve been working out a lot, but I’ve been concentrating more on strength and sprinting, and trying to get my diet under control. Most of my runs have been around 3 miles. But whatever, I guess. We’ll see what happens.

My goal is to finish uninjured. Originally, I wanted to get around a 1:50 (or at least be under my 2011 half PR of 1:52), but since I haven’t put in the endurance work, those time goals are unrealistic. True, I’ve been running my shorter runs faster, but how long can I hold the pace? I just don’t know.

Mostly, I’m concerned about what I’m going to wear. Should I go with the pink/orange/white argyle RunningSkirt, white compression socks and an orange tank with pink nails? Or that same combo with pink socks? Or, should I go with the argyle skirt, black compression socks and a black tank and black nails?

skirt_argyle

OR…my bluish-purple/white ruffle Lululemon skirt and last year’s white (with a blue design) Rock ‘N’ Roll shirt with purple nails?

skirt_ruffle

OR, should I wear my gunmetal Team Sparkle skirt? I love me some Team Sparkle, but I feel like changing things up a bit—I’ve sparkled in my last 4 or 5 races (including the triathlon).

The downside of the argyle skirt AND the Lululemon skirt is that I will have to wear compression shorts under them and both already have built-in shorts (HOT). Well, the argyle skirt has “undies,” but it’s a little short on this long torso girl, so I need something under it. And the Lululemon skirt has boy shorts that NEVER stay put. It’s also a little short.

OR…I could wear my black pleated Lululemon skirt and a black tank. Would also need compression shorts under that one. Ugh! Decisions! I also have grass green socks and deep purple socks…

I’m also thinking about doing something rock ‘n’ rollish with my hair…maybe getting some of that spray-in color. Maybe I should do a Gwen Stefani looks and have red lips and white hair and wear a black and white outfit. Would anyone get it? What other rockers have specific “looks”?

Yeah, so not really thinking too much about the actual run.

I am thinking about the parking situation, though. It sucks. Last year, a few of us were really lucky because we spent the night at Chelsea’s and then like a total rock-star friend she shuttled us to the start, cheered us on, and met us at the finish with treats! This year, she’s out of town. Next year, she better be running the thing herself (but if she’s not, she’s not allowed to go out of town).

Downtown Seattle parking makes me shudder. I wake up in the night with nightmares because of it. Are you going? What are your parking plans?

I don’t think anyone’s mentioned a place to meet up the morning of the race. Why don’t we meet by a corral. I’m not sure how many corrals there are, but I think around 20-something. Why don’t we meet by Corral 7 since that’s sort of in the middle? Okay? Okay.

If you’d like to meet up before the race and maybe take a big group picture, like we did last year, meet at the front of Corral 7 at 6:40 a.m. That should give us at least 15 minutes to say Hi to everyone and then get back to our corrals before the 7 a.m. start, yes?

See you there!

Dilettante Women’s Triathlon Race Report (My First Tri)

dilettante_me-s
Me and my new friend, S, before the race. Both of us were first-timers!

Have you ever done a race where even after you’ve started it, you are thinking: I can’t believe I’m doing this?

That was me on Saturday during my first triathlon (as an adult; I did IronKids when I was in the 8th grade, and I’m counting that), the Dilettante Women’s Sprint Triathlon. (There is also an Olympic distance.)

On Friday, I volunteered to help the race director for the Dilettante Women’s Triathlon and BuDu Racing set up the bike racks as a way to calm my fears a little bit. My friend, Jill, had met me the week before at the race location. We rode one loop of the bike course, tested the lake (to see if  I really needed to rent a wet suit), and ran a little. But volunteering really helped me see where everything was going to be so I could be prepared in my mind. I met another first-time triathlon mom, S, that day, too, and I’m glad we had each other because on race morning, our two experienced triathletes couldn’t make the race due to a family emergency and illness.

Even though, I knew a couple of other people that were going to be at the race, it was comforting to see S on race morning.

My bike is on the right end of the rack! Thanks to BTO Multisports for the photo!

The race director reserved the volunteers an entire bike rack, but it turned out we only needed two spots so we shared with the Luna Chix Tri Buddies team whose reserved racks were filling up.

dilettante_me-julie
Me and Julie before the race. Julie was my “safety blanket” before the start.

The first thing I did when I got to the race that morning was having the bike expert check my bike. Glad I did! My tires were only half full! He also showed me how to strap my little bike pouch under my seat properly and gave me some shifting tips that really helped me out on the ride. Total noob here.

After I had my bike situated, I wandered around looking for people I knew because I didn’t know what else to do (S hadn’t arrived yet). I still had a good 30 minutes before transition closed.

I looked for Lindsay, but couldn’t find her. But I found Julie! Hooray!  A familiar face…and someone who does triathlons. She seemed very calm; it was reassuring. I was a nervous ball of energy.

Finally, it was time to get ready. But since I didn’t have a wet suit, I didn’t have to do much. I chatted with S while she got her wet suit on and waited until the last possible minute to take off my sweat pants and sweat shirt. It was going to be a warm day, but the early morning air was cool–especially in the shade. And the grass was wet and cold.

Soon, me (in a loaned pair of tri shorts and tri top–thank you, Jill!) and S, in her wet suit, were walking down to the beach for the pre-race meeting. I had to run back to transition and drop my flip flops into my basket because I forgot to take them off, though.

Down on the beach, we found Julie, then Lindsay and her friends. I kept watching for my cheer squad (my husband and son) because I’d asked them to come. I don’t normally ask them to come to my races, but for some reason, I really wanted them there on Saturday.

After the pre-race meeting, all the Olympic distance racers went over to the start. Julie and her nice husband let me talk their ears off. I was nervous and was dealing with it by just blabbing, blabbing, blabbing. I don’t even know what I was saying half the time. And I kept checking for my family.

Soon, it was our turn to go over to the start area. The lake, 5 Mile Lake, was 69 degrees when the race director took its temperature on Friday. But we had to stand in the shade for a while before we started so I was getting pretty cold in just a tri suit. I wished I had a wet suit.

About 5 minutes before the start, my husband and son showed up. It was perfect timing! I was so happy to see them before the start. Gave me a boost of confidence for some reason.

dilettante_swimstart
A hug from my son, who just turned 5, before the start.

Then it was time for the the green caps to go (Lindsay and S were both in the green group–caps were determined my age).

Thank goodness Julie was also a pink cap so I could continue to have her as my “safety blanket” before the start. She was just so calm–it was very helpful! Very thankful to Julie!

Eek! Then it was time for the pink caps to get in the water for the start. We stayed at the back of the pack, standing about calf-deep in the water. Pink caps were ages 35-44 (my actual age group was 35-39, though).

Once the race director blew the horn, it was time to go! I just let everyone else go and I basically waded in up to my waist before I could dive in and go.

The scene at the pink-cap sprint tri start. Can’t see me; I’m off in the back on the right side. Again, thanks to BTO Multisports for taking pics!

Immediately, the water took my breath away. It wasn’t that cold, but it was a shock to the system. That, plus the excitement and the thought–I can’t believe I’m doing this–made my heart race.

There seemed to be a clump of women just sort of breast-stroking, so I had to breast-stroke also to kind of get around a few of them before I could get to the outside of the pack. I had trouble picking a spot to “sight” behind the first buoy–there wasn’t anything that stood out in particular. Finally I picked a trio of tall evergreen trees.

My breathing was so sharp, I breathed every stroke on my right instead of bilaterally like I’d practiced. I sighted every third stroke or so, but I also found myself doing a couple of breast-strokes every 5-6 arm turns (of freestyle) or so because my heart was beating so fast and I was breathing so erratically. It was so annoying! I couldn’t get into a rhythm at all.

I mean, I’d planned to take it slow, but this felt ridiculous. I grew up ocean and lake swimming, this little mineral lake was nothing. It didn’t even bother me that I couldn’t see anything under the water. After I turned the first buoy, my breathing got a little better, but my heart was still pounding. So, I continued to freestyle for 5-6 strokes with sighting every 3 or so, then breast-stroke, breast-stroke, then freestyle…until the second buoy. I talked to myself in my head and told myself to calm down.

By the second buoy, I’d actually passed a chunk of people. I’d stayed to the outside and I guess that worked because I only ran into one person. Once I was around the second buoy, I found my rhythm. I calmed down, but I only had the short swim to shore left.

Then my goggles fogged up and I couldn’t see where the shore was because of the glare from the sun. I decided I’d rather wash out my goggles than veer off course, so I had to do a couple of frog kicks, but then I was off and determined to swim as much freestyle as I could to shore. Pretty soon, my hand touched the bottom.

It went so fast. I was just getting comfortable! Turns out I passed all but 7 swimmers in my age group group, too.

Swim (400 m) time: 10:35
Swim place out of 23 (age 35-39): 7

Once I stood up and looked to shore, I saw my husband and son, so of course I had to wave. I’m so hard core like that.

dilettante_swimexit1
Super hard-core triathlon mom waving to her son on the swim exit.
dilettante_swimexit2
Okay, now focusing on getting out of the water…
dilettante_swimexit3
My son, telling me: “You didn’t win the swim, Mom!” Thanks for letting me know, kid.

Once on land, my son let me know I did not win the swim. My husband says I walked to transition, but I remember running. Maybe it was a really slow “wog,” hon.

As I headed across the grass to transition there was a woman in a green cap next to me. “You doing the Olympic?” I asked her. She said she was and it was the farthest she’d ever swam before. Awesome! We took our caps off and looked at each other, and realized we knew each other! But we couldn’t figure out from where. By then we were in transition, so back to the race.

Once I was at my stuff, I realized I was very, very dizzy. S had filled a bucket of water to rinse her feet of grass and sand, and told me I could use it, too. I had to hold onto the transition fence to steady myself while rinsing my feet. Then I had to sit on my towel. Just sit there…to stop the spinning.

My husband and son came over. My son was telling me to get moving. My husband was thinking it, but didn’t say anything. I got my socks and bike shoes on, then took my GU and  tried to drink my strawberry lemonade Nuun. I didn’t have anything to hold a water bottle to my bike, so I knew I needed to drink enough before I left, but I was sputtering and choking because I was so dizzy. Ugh. It was annoying, but I was worried I’d either fall running with my bike or just fall off of it completely if I tried to get on.

THREE MINUTES AND 55 SECONDS LATER…I was leaving transition with my bike. Ugh! Luckily, this was my first tri and I’d taken the pressure off myself completely. I really didn’t care about my time. I did care if I was having fun, and I was! I was excited!

As I got on my bike, it took me a bit to get my left shoe clicked into my pedal, but once I did, I was off. And every fear I’d had about the bike melted away. I felt good. I felt confident.

The bike portion might’ve been my favorite part of the tri. First of all, I like to go fast and there were plenty of rolling hills on the Dilettante course to get some speed on the downhills. I had my bike computer on mph, so I could see 23-24 mph on the downhills! Unfortunately, I also so 8, 9, 10 on some of the uphills.

For some reason, my bike computer did not record the data of the ride. That or I bumped it when I put it back in transition and erased it. Because I had the bike computer, I didn’t use my Garmin on the bike. Oh well.

I had a blast. I was passing people a lot, but I also got passed by some super fasties with aero helmets and fancy tri bikes.

By the second 6.84-mile loop of course, I had a better feel of when to shift–how to get more out of the downhills and how to climb better on the uphills. I really love riding my bike. I can’t wait to get out more this summer!

Because I’d ridden the course with Jill, I knew when I was almost done with the first loop (and where the monster hill was: right before the end of the loop). This helped tremendously. As I passed the the entrance to the park on the first loop, I saw my husband and son, and it gave me more energy!

I tried to thank all the volunteers on the course. They were awesome cheering for everyone and stopping cars at intersections.

Out on the course I noticed all the different types of triathletes. All ages, shapes and sizes–it was awesome! I also saw quite a few mountain bikes and had some serious respect for those women.

Also while I was out on the course, my son asked my husband: “Where’s Mommy?” He told him I was out on the bike course. “Well,” said my son, “She better hurry up!”

After the second loop, I turned back into the park and dismounted without any problem. Honestly, I was a little sad the bike portion was over. I had so much fun!

Bike (13.68 miles) time: 50:42 (16mph)
Bike place out of 23 (age 35-39): 5

(My bike time felt faster than this. I want to be faster on the bike. How do I do that?)

I ran into transition, racked my bike, changed my shoes. Took a GU, drank more Nuun, slipped on my number (I’d attached it to my Team Sparkle skirt since I don’t have a bib belt) and ran out. My husband says he and my son were on their way over, but I was gone before they got there. So, my second transition was way faster: 1:44.

dilettante_run
Me, in the Team Sparkle skirt, doing what I do best: Going out too fast on the run.

I’ve done brick workouts before, so I knew my legs would feel like tree trunks and my feet like cement blocks. But it also felt like I was hardly moving even though I was passing people. I felt so slow. Once, I turned out of the park and onto the road, though, I looked at my watch and saw I was running a pace in the low 7’s. I made myself slow down so I wouldn’t die later.

The run was pretty. It was on a portion of the bike course, so occasionally, a bike passed me. I consistently passed people, and I got tons of compliments on my Team Sparkle “bling,” even from other runners.

I had a pretty good run for having biked for almost an hour before it. After about a mile, I started to feel normal. There were some rolling hills, which were tough, but I was finding my rhythm about halfway through the run, which was nice. I got passed by only one woman on the entire run!

Mile 1: 8:25
Mile 2: 8:22

Once we made the turn onto Military Road, I knew we were on the way back to the park. I also knew from Jill that the finish included a loop inside the park. I stepped things up a bit knowing the end was near.

I turned into the park and onto the gravel trail through the park and was gunning for the finish line. I passed a woman I’d been trailing for about a quarter of a mile and she said, “Whoa! Way to just blow by me!” Seriously nice people out there Saturday.

Gravel trails are my expertise since that’s what I run a lot at home and I passed a few others on the way to the finish. I ran as hard as I could through the finish line. I sprinted, even though my son says I was not sprinting and just jogging as he demonstrated for me later. He’ll make a great coach someday. *sarcasm*

Mile 3: 7:58
.07: 7:13 pace

Running time (from Garmin): 25:16 (8:14 pace)
Running time + T2 (from timing chip w/ second transition time): 27:00 (8:53 pace)
Running place out of 23 (age 35-39): 3!!!!

dilettante_finish
Finishing my first triathlon of my adult life!

Right after the finish, one of my new tri friends came over to say congratulations and I saw Lindsay–she did so well, go read her report. And my son and husband were there. And even though I did not win, I think my son was proud of me, and I know my husband was. I was very happy. It was just so special to have them there to support me–I’m tearing up as I write this.

I was also sad. Sad it was over. I can’t believe I almost didn’t do the tri. I’m so glad I did.

Age Group place out of 23 (age 35-39): 5th!
Overall place out of 158: 51st

Maybe someone can help me figure out the results because the person who got 4th in my age group didn’t have a bike time and took an hour and 10 minutes to run 3.07 miles. Is it possible her chip didn’t separate her bike and run times? So weird.

Officially a triathlete. I'm hooked. Had to leave before results were up. Doesn't really matter; had a blast.
With my husband and son after the race. Having them there made this race extra special.

The next thing to do was to go get some chocolate! Dilettante supplied finishers and their families with plenty of chocolates to taste–and oh man, their chocolate is so delicious. I had a chocolate and a mandarin orange, looked for Julie, but then we had to go. My son had a t-ball game at noon back by our house and I needed to clean up first. I was sad to go so quickly–I didn’t even have time to find out my results–but I was glad we left when we did because traffic on the highway was awful due to a nearby summer concert.

Final thoughts:

I FREAKING LOVE TRIATHLONS! I cannot wait to do another one. I want to see how I can improve. Maybe I won’t spend 4 minutes in the first transition next time. Next time, I’ll wear a wet suit. Next time, I’ll bike faster.

Also, the Dilettante triathlon was an awesome race for a first tri. Smallish and not overwhelming. Friendly for racers and their families. Easy to park, etc. The race is growing in popularity for a reason!

And, to those of you who think you might want to try a tri…DO IT! It seems scary, but it’s really not. Just take one sport at a time. You will have a blast!

Rainier to Ruston Relay 2013 Recap: Legs 2, 6, 10

r2r13_collage

I don’t know how to recap this relay. There’s just too much. Too many inside jokes. Too much fun for words.

Last year, I did a pretty extensive recap of each leg. The legs didn’t change much this year, except Leg 2 had even more mud pits and Leg 10 was even more overgrown with weeds. It was warmer this year and each Team Honeybuckette runner experienced some issues, mostly stomach, because of that.

This year’s event was also much larger than last year’s. Just our division alone more than doubled in size. Last year there were four 4-woman teams (and we came in 1st!). This year: 11. We came in 4th with a time of hours and 25 minutes.

r2r13_prerun
Here we are up at the starting line: Me, Alyssa, Zoe and Tiffany.

We all chose to do the same legs as last year with the exception of Mel as she’s a little busy growing a human. Alyssa filled in for Mel and rocked as Runner 1. I was Runner 2 again, Tiffany 3 and Zoe 4. And Tiffany’s husband reprised his role as relay driver!

The day started off warmer and drier than last year. It was hot (for us in the Pacific Northwest) by the time I was done with my first leg, Leg 2—the notoriously difficult trail leg at 6.8 miles. I was hopeful that I could blow my 2012 time out of the water since I knew what to expect, but I only finished 3-4 minutes faster. I lost a couple minutes, at least, when my shoe got swallowed in the mud pit that was Mile 3.

The last half-mile or so was different this year: It was sunny and in a chute…of blackberry bushes probably 6-feet tall on each side. I became extremely dizzy after crossing the finish and tagging Tiffany. Luckily that passed, I stretched…then I remembered to stop my Garmin.

Leg 2 of Rainier to Ruston Relay

Here’s a short recap, mile by mile, of Leg 2 (6.87 miles – approx. 1:08:42 – approx. 10 min. pace):

1 – 9:38 pace: technical trail–lots of logs, roots, rocks on single-track trail up on Rainier; more muddy than I remember from last year; trying to go out fast because I know I’ll lose time in mud pits in the middle of the leg

2 – 10:53 pace: I went out too fast and felt done–lots of people passed me; I’d forgotten about altitude

3 – 10:30 pace: Just trying to power through the streams and shoe-sucking mud pits instead of being timid like last year; ran through the streams on purpose to wash the mud out of my treads; felt blisters developing

4 – 11:11 pace: Shoe got swallowed by a mud pit and I had to go back, get it and put it back on

r2r13_mud
Mud that was UNDER my socks.

5 – 9:29 pace: My attitude was pretty poor at this point since the mud seemed worse than last year, but seeing my friends at the bridge lifted my spirits; Tiffany’s husband Will had even come down to the trail to take pictures, but when I heard them yelling, “You’re not muddy enough,” I stomped through the mud pit in front of him; shortly after this, I rolled my left ankle pretty bad and scared myself for a second, but it only felt sore not injured, so I kept going

6 – 9:04 pace: This is where it turns into more of a logging road and it’s less muddy and more jagged rocks, but pretty flat and straight

.87 – ?: Forgot to stop my watch, but Garmin says 13:43–I’d guess it’s closer to what I ran during Mile 6 or even faster since I knew I was almost done and the footing was much better. I’d done my stretching, etc., right next to the finish, so I did not add much mileage. The manual says the leg is 6.3 miles, but both this year and last year, it’s been more. Maybe from dodging and weaving mud pits?

r2r13_blackberrychute
The freshly mowed blackberry bush chute.
r2r13_leg2_done
Handing off to Tiffany, and announcing I’m done with Leg 2 for all future R2R races.

Mel met us in Orting and hung out with us for a few exchanges. It was fun to see our other member of Team Honey Buckettes, who is busy growing a human.

r2r13_mel
Honey Buckettes 2012 reunited: Me, Mel, Zoe and Tiffany.

Leg 6 of Rainier to Ruston Relay

My second leg, Leg 6, I planned to blow through. It’s short, flat and on a paved trail I’m familiar with. Turns out, I only ran it NINE SECONDS faster. Here’s a short recap of Leg 6 (2.73 miles – 22:24 – 8:13 pace):
Leg 6 of yesterday’s Rainier to Ruston Relay: My legs were shot from Leg 2, but since it was a shorter distance I wanted to power through and run hard. Unfortunately, the sun was making it rough on us warm-weather wimps from the PNW.

1 – 8:06: Went out too fast, yet again; hot

2 – 8:22: dying

.73 – 8:14 pace: trying to catch the team in front of me, but needed another quarter mile or so

r2r13_leg6done
Tagging Tiffany after finishing Leg 6.
r2r13_mezoe
Me and Zoe waiting for my dreaded Leg 10.

All day, I’d been dreading Leg 10. In fact, I’d developed a very poor attitude toward running and let everyone know that “Running is dumb” and “I’m so over running” and “Running is overrated.” I mean, after a couple miles, what’s the point? Yes, I realize I have a marathon this year.

r2r13_dumb
Our awesome relay driver, Will, and me complaining about running.

Leg 10 of Rainier to Ruston Relay

Anyway, Leg 10 is a horse trail, and it’s sandy and overgrown with tall grass-like weeds that try to grab your ankles as you hop between the two skinny tracks (take the one most traveled and less weedy so as not to fall). I had high hopes it’d been mowed or something. It was worse than last year.

However, it felt like it went by faster. And I did run it a couple minutes faster than last year. It wasn’t as bad as I’d remembered it, but then again, I did get cloud cover for my last leg.

Here’s a short recap (3.13 – 29:32; 9:26 pace):

Leg 10 – Rainier to Ruston Relay: My final leg! I’d been dreading it all day because last year it was sand and overgrown vegetation and no shade. Since it is below a levee, one section of the trail was flooded. But Alyssa and I did get our picture taken for the Tacoma News Tribune at the exchange before my leg, so that was cool!

1 – 8:59: Wow. This surprises me.

2 – 9:26: The weeds were often as tall as me and some were bent over across the single track sandy trail. It was like they were trying to trip the runners.

r2r13_weeds
Once again, my team surprised me at a clearing. Here I go…back into the weeds.

3 – 10:01: The flooded section was toward the end of the leg, and it forced me and several other runners to climb the steep levee wall, run along the road for a 50-100 yards, and then go back down the levee (which was very, very steep; honestly, I was scared to go back down it but it actually wasn’t bad at all). Up on the road, you could see where the flooded area ended, and you could see the transition area. I wanted to be “fair” by not running on the road too long and went back down to the sandy trail. As I ran in the sand, I saw another runner pass me way up high–she was still on the nice, paved road. “Oh, hell no,” I thought. “Not fair!” She did come back down toward the end and I sprinted (well, it felt like sprinting) so as not to let her beat me to the finish.

.13 – 8:15: “Sprinting” in the sand

r2r13_leg10done
Cheater girl is right behind me. 😉

This leg was not as bad as I remembered it to be (more weedy, though); it felt like it went by much faster than last year. And I got cloud cover! My bad attitude was all for nothing.

r2r13_postrun
At the finish.
r2r13_done
Team Honey Buckettes 2013

A Treadmill Workout I Actually Can’t Wait to Do

I wouldn’t mind having a body like Allyson Felix.

I’m taking a rest day today after an impromptu (and tough) late-night brick workout Sunday and a hot stop-and-go 3-miler on the track during my son’s track practice the next day, my quads are toast. Tomorrow, I’m playing badminton on my lunch hour, but when I get home (and after I make dinner, do dishes, take my son to t-ball practice, bathe him and put him to bed), I am having a date with my treadmill!

I mean, I think I am. I really want to do this treadmill workout–it actually looks like fun. Fun and treadmill aren’t two words I normally put together. But, also, it looks like an ass-kicker, and I’m not entirely sure that’s a good idea seeing as I have my first triathlon on Saturday.

But what the hell! I’m just having fun at the tri anyway, right?!

I got the workout from JillFit, but it was written by Emily Saunders, a Metabolic Effect Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. Click the link to go straight to the “35-min Advanced Treadmill Interval Workout,” on JillFit.

I have been watching a lot of track and field lately, and I have decided I would like a sprinter’s body.

Speaking of…one of my favorites–Sanya Richards-Ross–will be featured in a new USATF reality show called “USATF 36: Sanya Richards Ross.” The show, which airs at 7:30 p.m. (EST) on June 21 on NBC Sports Network, will follow the Olympic gold medalist for the 36 hours leading up to her season opener at the Nike Prefontaine Classic.

I hope I get this channel! Click here for a trailer of of the show.

Sanya Richards-Ross

Anyway, the treadmill interval workout includes lots of sprints with rest intervals, plus jumping off the treadmill to do squat jumps and stuff. I know I will feel like a bad-ass when I am done!

I AM Getting Out of My Comfort Zone and I AM Doing the Dilettante Women’s Triathlon on June 15

“It’s good to do something out of your…comfort zone,” I told my friend approximately 60 seconds after I said I’d decided not to do the triathlon I’m signed up for on the 15th. I realized my contradiction and felt like fraud.

But I was still going to back out of the tri. I reasoned with myself that I was undertrained and unprepared. I haven’t been to the pool in a few weeks. I haven’t been outside on my bike. I have humongous blisters from Leg 2 of Rainier to Ruston Saturday.

But, really, the real reason I don’t want to do the triathlon is fear of the unknown. And, if I don’t get over the fears now, when will I?

I’d still planned on NOT doing the tri until this morning. There was a road bike in the warehouse at work. Same exact road bike I have. After a little investigation, I learned it was my boss’s bike—he rode it to work. So I just went into this office to say, “Haha. We have the same bike.”

An hour later, I came out of his office knowing that I will do the triathlon.

Turns out he was a tri-hard. For 5 years, he did a tri almost every weekend in the summers. He walked me through the entire thing. He answered my questions. He told me to go ride the race route. He told me not to worry about the swim. He told me to stay at the back of the wave. He even could tell me a little about the lake I’ll be swimming in on June 15th. He told me to just take my time through the transitions. Just take it easy. Who cares about your time—especially on your first tri? He even told me to bring my bike in so I could practice changing a tire. How cool is my boss?

So, I am going to be out of my comfort zone on June 15th, but I’m going to do this thing.

You know, you can still “do this thing,” too. You can get $10 off your entry fee for the Dilettante Women’s Triathlon by using the code INSANITYDWT13. Click here to register.