Sunday, May 30, 2010


I was second in my age group at the Fly by Night Duathlon. No official results have been posted yet, so no race report yet. And after 4 hours of driving to get there, two hour of racing, and three hours to get back, I am ready for food, shower, and sleep, in that order.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fly by Night Duathlon Race Prep

So.... Today is the Fly by Night Duathlon. It is taking place at the Watkins Glen International racing facility, after a Porsche Clash. This is only going to be my second multi-sport event, the first being the Azalea Triathlon, in March. The race isn't until 5 or 6 tonight, so I only need to be there by 3 for registration (and Porsche oggling). Can you believe the transition area will be in the pit lane? Awesome. The race consists of a 1.86 mile run, followed by a 10 mile bike ride (3 laps of the track), followed by another 1.86 mile run, followed by yet another 10 mile bike ride, followed by (finally) another 1.86 mile run. So yeah, that's going to take me a while.

My goals for this race are pretty straightforward:
C Goal: I want to run a good/smart race: not blow up in the first 3 sections, go really hard on sections 4 and 5 (last bike and last run).
B Goal: If the track permits, I want to get my runs at under 8:20 pace, and my bikes at at least 17 mph average (although there are some speed turns and hills).
A Goal: I want to get my runs at sub-8 pace, and my bikes at at least 18 mph average. And place in my AG. There, I said it.

However, I have not trained for either my B or A goal. I have been focused on the half-ironman in August, meaning that I have been working hard on my endurance, and neglecting my speed. I also did not taper for this race, since I am putting all my energy in the half-ironman training. I am doing this race for three reasons: 1) it's going to be fun, 2) hubby is away so it will be nice for me to do something that is going to keep me busy and around others, 3) it is great racing practice.

I have about 1 1/2 hours to prepare, before leaving. According to google maps, it is about a 3 hour drive. If I leave by 9 or 10, I should be there in plenty of time to put my bike back together, test it, pump up the tires... My hubby usually does those things, but this week, he is is living it up in Europe, leaving me to fend for myself. I was also supposed to clean and lube the bikechain, but I got home late last night and focused on carbo-loading... Pasta and Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra. Yuuuuuum!

My little plan to eat more healthy backfired a bit. I managed to eat more fruit and vegetables than I normally would,protein at almost every meal, and slightly less junk (but still had bagels, lemon cake, ice cream, pasta, pretzels). However, I lost 1.2 kg in three days and my digestion has been a bit turbulent. So for today, I will stick to carbs, carbs, and more carbs, because I do not want any surprises, either for the 2 x 3 hour drive or the 2 hour race...

I need to go finish packing. I hope you all have great races and great trainings this weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Do Fruitbars Count As Fruit?

So... I have been thinking about my eating habits lately and decided it was time for an intervention. Even since I started training (January), I have been eating and eating, and when not eating, been hungry... I guess going from 4 hours to 10-14 hours of exercise does that to a person. Before starting, I was at a scrawny-yet-flabby 62 kg, and I ate pretty badly but not too bad (think loads of carbs, little protein, and very little fresh fruit and veggies, but also very little processed food).

After I started training, I started eating a lot more, yet instead of adding healthy foods to my diet, I just kept on doing the carb thing. I initially put on about 3.5 kg (well, actually, I put on 2 kg over Christmas break when I went home to visit the folks and failed to lose those, before putting on another 1.5 kg when I started training) and have remained pretty stable at 65 to 66 kg since. So nothing dramatic weight wise, most of the extra weight is muscle (but the initial flab remains) and I still have good energy levels. However, I just can't imagine that eating so little protein, and so few fruits and veggies is good for me. And how will I feel if my food intake was a bit more nutritious?

So... cue challenge #1. My goal for this week is to
1) eat 5 servings of fruit and veggies every day (I usually manage 2 oranges a day and that's it)
2) at most 2 of those servings will be the same thing (aka no 5 oranges in one day)
3) eat one serving of protein at each meal
4) lay off the carby snacks unless I am hungry for them.

So how did I do on day #1 of challenge #1... No too shabby. Breakfast was 1 orange, 1 glass of milk, and one croissant with nutella, lunch was a huge avocado, egg, and romaine salad with 2 slices of whole wheat bread (1 with cheese, 1 with chocolate sprinkles), dinner was pasta with tomato sauce and a huge bag of cookies. When I got home I had two oranges and a fruit bar (can you spot it behind the oranges?). So, even though I only succeeded in part 1) of the challenge, I consider this good progress, but now I need to crank it up a notch...
Do fruit bars count as fruit?

Speaking of cranks, I took my awesome bike for a spin today. 55 miles of hills, hills and more hills that I tried to fly over. I went out really hard and kept the hard effort for the entire 55 miles. 3:40 minutes and 1,800 calories later I got home, drenched in sweat, but ecstatic that my bike skills are improving so dramatically, so Wiesbaden 70.3 sounds a bit less scary.... The weather was also just awesome, doesn't hurt right?

How Geeky can I Look?

At least the glasses were hiding this...

This afternoon I went for a short swim, and then spent the evening battling a statistics software for my dissertation data analysis... Hubby is out of town, so I can work late... Heck, I am supposed to work late.

I hope y'all are having fun!!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

First Annual Rock Your Socks Half Marathon Race Report

Yeah! I did it. Second half-marathon in three weeks. Thank you Tonia at Racing with Babes for inspiring me!

So, about a month ago, Tonia and her teammates decided to host the First Annual Rock Your Socks Half Marathon and 10K. At that time, I was struggling to get my long runs in, so I thought this would be great motivation to get my long run in, at least for one week out of the 27 weeks of half-ironman prep. So I signed up!

Fast forward to this week: I am so glad I did. This is my third week post Pittsburgh half-marathon and the first week that I had some decent workouts. Being a running/multi-sport newbie, I thought the half-marathon would be pretty much like a long run, maybe with a few extra days of rest, so I did not budget rest in my training plan. So, for this week's half, my plan was to really treat it like an extra long, long run, so that I would not jeopardize any more half ironman training.

The day started so and so, with a headache that happily did not progress into a migraine (although it did mess with my digestive system a bit). However, by noon it was gone and I was ready to Rock my Socks. So I got ready, chose a pretty pair of socks, then took them off since I realized it was actually quite warm outside. I skipped lunch, ate some pretzels and a Luna bar instead, filled my water bottle, packed some Jelly Beans, the iPod, and the Garmin and headed out!!!
Sporting my awesome pink plaid socks

Realizing these would be much more practical

And it was awesome. It was my longest long run, my second half-marathon, and a jolly good run! The stats:
Distance: 13.1 miles
Time: 2:18:54 (moving time 2:18:06, there were a few lights)
Pace: 10:36 min/mile
Calories: 1,500 something.

Obviously, this was a far cry from my sub-2 hour Pittsburgh half, but 1) it was a training run, 2) it had a lot more climbing than Pittsburgh, 3) most of it was on the trail with a lot of rocks, mud, and obstacles. But it was as satisfying since it is a lot harder to run 13.1 miles solo. The splits were: 10:22, 10:31, 10:25, 10:05, 10:20, 10:55, 11:07, 10:49, 11:02, 10:24, 10:20, 10:18, 11:10 (included hill-from-hell), and the last little bit was 1:00.

The route was a combination of my two usual haunts. The first two miles were quiet road, in a residential neighborhood, followed by 2 miles along a fast high way. At mile 4.3, I started the trail/gravel section, with a 4.1 mile x 2 (out and back). The last little bit was a very steep hill (123 feet of climbing) that led to campus. I finished my run at my favorite cafe, Webster's, where I got a steaming hot chocolate milk latte. I also picked up some ice for my ice bath.

Post run...

I think I did everything I needed for the best recovery possible: chocolate milk, coffee, ice bath, compression socks, walking (a bit) and rest. If there is anything I am missing, please let me know!

Thank you Tonia for organizing this, it was a great way to get inspired to get some miles in!

In other news, I would like to welcome a new follower, Molly from I'm a Sleeper Baker! Hi Molly! Thank you for joining!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Running Mojo is back too..

So yesterday, after a lovely 20 mile bike ride with Nate, I went for an 8 mile run, which also went really well, despite being blasting hot. I averaged 09:28 miles/minute and managed to (almost) do every mile faster than the previous one. My splits were: 09:43, 09:48, 09:43, 09:25, 09:37, 09:30, 09:21, 08:37.

This morning I woke up with a bit of a headache. I am waiting for it to go away so I can do the Rock Your Socks Half Marathon. In the meantime, I am entering every giveaway I can find. A couple of weeks ago I won my first one (thank you Momma Twitch!!!!) so now I can't get enough. There is so much cool running/biking/workout stuff being given away from awesome bloggies. So far, I found:
RXSorbo until May 25th
Silver Maple Jewelry until May 25th
"Choose You" Healthy Style until May 26th
Bondi Bands until May 26th
CEP Compression until May 27th
Peaceful Mountain until May 30th
Tanks and Tunes until May 30th.

I even added a special sidebar.

But the even more important thing is I get to "meet" new bloggies :-)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bike Mojo is Back!

Today was a beautiful day. I got to ride my bike again, no wind, no falls. Just pure joy. So today's ride will hereafter be known as Mojo-is-back-Ride.

It all started a couple of days ago. The awesome guys from Freeze Thaw Cycles have been helping me make some adjustments to my bike. Last week I got a new crankset with bigger chainrings and a outboard bottom bracket (hubby helped put this sentence together). I don't know what that means, but is sure is faster!!! I first tried it on Saturday (also known as first metric century Saturday), but did not really notice any difference. I was still riding scared from 1) fall Wednesday, and 2) windy Saturday. But today was different!

The other change (on Tuesday), was a minor adjustment to my saddle (lower and further back). On rides over 1-2 hours, my back starts hurting me and my neck/back muscles get very stiff and painful. So Jordyn from Freeze Thaw Cycles, bike fitter extraordinaire, suggested I try this first, and then report back. Sadly, the change did not improve the back/neck problems, but it sure made me faster...

Not being very adventurous (especially when riding alone), I like to stick the same route, with minor modifications. The advantage is that I can time myself. So today I started with State College to Bellefonte on Seibert Road (I have four different ways of going from State College to Bellefonte). My old record on that route was 44 minutes and 16.6 mph average. Today, I did it in 43 minutes and 17.4 mph average (it's about 13 miles). That part of the ride is relatively flat.

The next 20 miles I tried to find long uphills (3 miles +). I did three of those (followed by the inevitable downhill that follows) and then went back on Seibert road again. I did 48 miles in about 3:25 hours, not including a couple of stretching, eating and drinking breaks.

In addition to getting my biking mojo back, I also practiced nutrition (2 x 100 calories in jelly beans and 1 Luna bar) and drinking on the bike (1 1/2 bottles ). Even though I did not completely bonk (an improvement over other rides), I was still well below what I needed. I also worked on going faster on downhills and am happy to report that I hit 35 mph (still below my 37 mph record) and exceeded 30 mph on several other occasions.

Post mojo-is-back ride, I made wubby and myself an epic lunch (included egg, peppers, onions, cheese, with salad, avocado, loads of bread (and butter), and Nutella... I think I was eating for over an hour, and my plate kept on looking full...

In other news, next week is the Fly by Night Duathlon, consisting of run-bike-run-bike-run on The Glen, a racing circuit. They still have spots open, so please join if you can! The more, the merrier!

Life is good, biking is better! Happy training!

Monday, May 17, 2010

First (Metric) Century and Bullets

My dissertation has finally taken off (yeah for nice people filling out online surveys) so training has taken a hit. For the sake of saving time (so I can go workout and you don't get bored) I thought I'd break with my ultra-long post tradition and post the highlights of the past two weeks in bullets, in chronological order.
  • Monday & Tuesday post half-marathon I could barely move, so no workouts
  • Wednesday I went on a very enjoyable 40-something bike ride and fell when stopping at the red light, 0.25 miles from my home. I forgot to unclip from the pedals, in front of the lunch hour traffic... No injuries except for bruised hip, sit bone and pride, and sore abs from laughing.
  • Friday feeble attempt at running. Slowest 6 miles since I got the Garmin... (10:10 min/miles)
  • Saturday AM, aborted bike ride. Tried to beat the severe wind-related weather alert but ended chickening out after being blown off the road a couple of times.
  • Sunday was an even slower 8 mile run (10:30 min/miles)
  • Monday-Tuesday I was stuck in the office working on my dissertation. My knees were hurting from sitting too long. It was pouring down rain too...
  • Swimming did also not work out this week, the pool was only open noon -3pm...
  • Wednesday PM was another 8 mile run, slightly faster than Sunday's but still very slow... (10:04 min/miles)
  • The metric century was Saturday and was AWESOME. I went first out on my own for about 30 miles then Ondrej (hubby) and Bob (personal bike guru) joined in and we did another beautiful 30-something miles to Bellefonte and Centre Hall. The weather was perfect. Due to my European heritage I reserve the right to celebrate 100 kilometers as an achievement.
Now my question is, how long does it take to recover from a half-marathon? I thought that after a day or two I should be back to full training mode, but my running legs were gone for the past two weeks.

In other miscellaneous things, I finally cut my hair since it was getting to the point that I did not have the time to wash it or even brush it, both very time consuming activities when you have enough hair to keep an army warm. However, aside from hubby, few people have had positive responses... Is it really that bad?

And, the best for last, I got my first follower!!!! Hi Erica!!! Thanks for joining!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We interrupt training for...


I finally got some data for my dissertation. That, combined with the atrocious (cold and rainy) weather we have had the last couple of days has lead to a lack of training which will probably persist until the end of the week.

Here is what I look like before the 1,200 surveys....
and after...

Happy training!!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pittsburgh Non Race Report

Here are still a few pictures of our awesome weekend in Pittsburgh with Dan.
Amtrak pulling into Altoona Station

Dan and I getting off the Amtrak in Pittsburgh (very sleepy)

Our first sighting of Pittsburgh

Breakfast on Saturday: Dan-and-Ondrej-without-glasses-totem
Ondrej and I on one of the many Pittsburgh bridges

The Monongahela Incline

View from the top of the Monongahela Incline
The Best Soft Service Ice Cream

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pittsburgh Half Marathon Race Report

UPDATED to add pictures

Finally! Another adventure has been lived, a new milestone reached, in the quest for the half-ironman. Yesterday Dan and I ran our first half-marathons. And we both thought it was an amazing experience!The short story: Dan finished in slightly over two hours and I finished in just under two hours (chip time was 1:59:24) and reached my best case scenario goal. I also was 108th out of 738 women in the 30-34 age group which I thought was incredible since I really am not a runner.

The longer story: On Friday, Dan, Ondrej and I skipped work/school/obligations a bit early and drove to Altoona, PA to take the Amtrak. We got to Pittsburgh nice and early, and walked briefly downtown before heading to Dan's place. After getting there we treated ourselves to ice cream, watched some telly and went straight to bed.

On Saturday (the day before), Dan, Ondrej and I spent the day visiting Pittsburgh. This entailed a whole lot of walking, eating, sightseeing, fun-making and picture taking (one of my favorite hobbies) and therefore was fantastic.

Meet and Greet at the Expo

Dan and I first went to the expo to pick up our packets and then went on to visit the Monongahela incline with Ondrej (another post with many more pictures will follow). I was a bit worried since my knee was hurting but I was definitely not willing to sacrifice sightseeing. In the evening we went to some funky church-turned-restaurant-brewery for some serious dinner. I ended up eating way too much and had heartburn most of the night.
Modeling my new bag (I love bags)


Sunday! I think I woke up every hour between Saturday night and Monday 5.30 AM. I usually am a very sound sleeper but I was THAT excited (the heartburn may also have had something to do with it). Finally 5.30 came and I jumped out of bed, got dressed and made breakfast. We were supposed to leave at 6.00, but when there are so many people involved (and so many bathroom visits) things get delayed a bit. Finally, Dan and I made our way out at 6.30 and went to the bus stop. After a few minutes we saw some women that were clearly on their way to the marathon walking and bypassing the bus stop. That is when we realized that we really did not know whether 1) the bus was going and 2) if yes, how often. WHOOPS!!! So we decided to walk.

It was already 6.45 or so, and the race start was 3 miles and 45 minutes away so we hauled our rear-ends. We got close enough to the race start at 7.15 that I felt comfortable pausing and using the porta-potty. There was quite a line but it was moving quickly. However, while I was waiting, they started playing the US national anthem. I am not a US citizen but I still took my hat off thinking that was the appropriate thing to do. I was surprised that most people did not, and all continued going in and out the porta-potties. I guess I am being a bit over-sensitive in the whole "respecting other cultures thing" but I was glad that the anthem was over before it was my turn.... That was also my first time using a race porta-potty and I am glad to report no disasters. I was expecting the worse, but there was paper, hand-sanitizer and a flush...

At 7.25 Dan and I made it to corral D. That was the corral that included the 2:00 half-marathon pacer. It was pretty packed but I was completely relaxed. I think I was as prepared as I could be, I had a goal, and I was willing to let go of that goal depending on how things went. Finally the countdown to the start finished and we were off!!! It was amazing! There was such a joyful spirit, people were happy and excited. Here is a youtube video of the start... I started my Garmin but it was autopaused for a while. I think it took me about 2 or 3 minutes to get moving and another 1 or 2 to cross the start. I lapped the Garmin at the start line so I would have a better idea of how long I still had to go.

My first two miles I really took it easy. I focused on keeping my pace, passing people that were much slower than me and not tripping. I did the first lap in 9:30 and the second in 9:21. My awesome hubby was waiting for me around mile 2 or 3. We had agreed on a very specific spot for him to say hi and to take a picture. I saw him first and gesticulated like crazy. He was so worried about spotting me and got so distracted by my antics that he forgot to take the picture. Very funny! I ran up to him and gave him the pre-race Luna bar that I did not eat and the pack of tissues I did not need for my visit to the porta-potty. Then I resumed running, stopped, and went back to give him a much appreciated kiss. I figured if I missed my sub-2 hour goal by 30 seconds because I went back to kiss him that would be time well spent...

Laps 3 to 5 I picked up the pace a bit. Two minutes after seeing Ondrej, it started raining, really really really hard. That was actually rather nice since it was pretty warm and very humid. At that stage I had already decided to run conservatively the first six miles and pick up the pace the second six miles (I tricked myself into thinking the 1/2 marathon consisted of two times 6 miles... ). I did miles 3,4 and 5 in 9:00, 9:05 and 9:01 respectively. I saw Dan around that time. He had started faster than me and I had quickly lost him. Around mile 5, I suddenly heard "Hey" and there he was, running right next to me. I was still feeling really good, so I decided to pick up the pace a bit earlier than planned.

Mile 5...
Miles 6,7 and 8 I did in 08:44, 08:44, and 08:40. I was really enjoying the course, despite the rain. The spectators were very enthusiastic, the bands were awesome, the bridges were impressive and the people running around me were very inspiring. I was consistently passing people, one of the benefits of starting so far back. The course was very flat, the only uphills being the bridges. I tried to keep a good pace going up and accelerate going down. I also started trying to find the 2:00 pacer. I had lost sight of him around mile 2 and was hoping to see him again before the end.

Mile 9 included a steeper hill which by all standards was peanuts (65 feet according to Garmin) but I pushed it a bit too much I think because my thighs completely jammed up. I still managed a decent 08:57. I knew I was close to the 2 hour mark, so I did not want to slow down.

During miles 10 and 11, I kept on worrying about missing the turn for the 1/2 marathon (and being stuck doing the full one...). Fortunately that did not happen but I was suffering. My legs were really tight, probably a side effect of being wet for two hours but I really wanted that sub 2:00 hours. I was about to slow down when I saw the 2:00 pacer ahead. I did miles 10 and 11 in 08:51 and 09:01. I briefly stopped to re-attach the time/rfid tag on my foot. The rain had messed with the glue so it had come undone.

Mile 12 really hurt. It was endless! I kept inching closer to the 2:00 pacer but could not pass him. I kept remembering that he had started ahead of me, forgetting and trying to catch up, and then remembering. My legs were toast by then, but I still was hoping for the sub 2 hours. I managed a decent 08:58 pace for that one. The last little bit hurt. I was getting passed but I did not really care, as long as Mr. 2 hours stayed close. I have zero memories of crossing the finish line. I only remember getting food, water, gatorade, my medal and my picture taken.

Not once during the race did I think "why I am doing this?". It was more like "when can I do it again" and "when can I do a full marathon?". Fortunately I am already signed up for the Amsterdam marathon on October 17th. Sadly, on the way back the bus still was not running, so we had to walk the same 3 miles back, and this time uphill...

I think I got very lucky with the pre-race logistics. Bathroom issues were taken care off, I hydrated well, I ate even better... I might not get as lucky next time.
I paced myself well. I got lucky with my goal, especially since I think I was a bit under trained running wise.
I had a great time!!! Thank you Ondrej and thank you Dan!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Pittsburgh Half Marathon Tomorrow

Pittsburgh is completely amazing! Dan, Ondrej, and I walked the city up and down and left and right. We also had an amazing breakfast and awesome lunch (and ice cream) and are getting ready to go for a great dinner.

Dan and I went to the expo. I picked up my race bag (which had some awesome goodies). We thankfully also managed to get Dan signed up for the half tomorrow as well (they had messed up his registration). I also got some compression socks that I already am in love with (more in a future post).

Yesterday I did a very easy 20 miles on the bike to try to get some of the tightness out. I swam for 1,100 yds after that. When I got out of the water and got up I pulled something in my knee and it was hurting ever since. However, after some good old Advil (and maybe the compression socks) my knee has been perking up. So all is well race prep wise.

I am sooooooooooo excited. I am still trying to figure out if I am even going to try to go under 2 hours. I don't think I can succeed, but I also don't think I have much to lose, so why not try? My only 12 mile run I did in 2:02:something, included trails, hills and stops to cross busy streets, and I was not even completely destroyed. On Tuesday I ran 6 miles at an 8:50 pace. To finish 13.1 in under 2 hours I would need to run a 9 minute pace for 2 hours. Yeah... When you put it like that... I think I might settle for 2:05. We'll see! I'll keep you posted on how it pans out... Or you can track my (lack of) progress on Facebook. I signed up for some twitter/facebook service that promises to do exactly that :-)

Happy weekend to all you readers (Ondrej, Dan and Stephen)!