Happy Independence Day Ya’ll

Happy Independence weekend everyone.  Not just a long weekend, in which for me is a 4 day weekend, but a time to reflect as well as enjoy.

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This weekend I am taking to to reflect on myself and my own personal independence while also doing my part to give back to the community.

Today I participated in the nationwide event the RWB Eagle Charge.  Hosted by RWB which is an amazing veterans outreach group, read more here at TeamRWB.  And one can sign up for the eagle charge here, EagleCharge!. Today we celebrated not only Independence Day, but veteran enrichment and personal achievements.

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TeamRWB – Fairbanks

I am lucky to be involved with this amazing group. We run, triathlon, read books, help the veteran community, and provide outreach to the greater community.  It truly is a life changing group.  We are a glorious mix of active servicemen, veterans, spouse, and civilians.  We are open to all. My dad proudly served in the United States Army and retired with honours after a long career. Now it is my turn to give back in a capacity that fits who I am.

The weather held for the duration of the event. And well as usual me and my buddy Cassie made sure we got our pre-race selfie in.

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Then off we go most of us choosing the 4 miler, with one lone 7 miler.  Of course we chose a hilly course, because a challenge can only make us stronger right? Scott, one of our Marines, was the lucky flag bearer for the start.

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The route was pretty simple and I think we all had a great time.  I was the red lantern in the 4 miler finishing in 42 minutes.  Overall, not my best but far from my worst 🙂

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Thats a hill!

All in all it was a pretty darn good day and a good turnout at GoldStream Sports on a rainy, grey day.

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Cassie and I post race w/Old Glory

Cassie and I posed for one final photo, we do love a camera, with Old Glory.

Have a great holiday weekend, get outside, do some personal reflection, and give thanks for the great country we live in which affords us with so many choices and freedoms. Focus on the good things and find positive way to affect change and to support all of the things that are close to our heart.  This weekend I celebrate personal freedoms and having the ability to be and live our lives in way that is meaningful to our selves.

 

 

Running for 12 hours…sounds fun right?

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I am not sure when I decided that running for 12 hours sounded like fun, but somewhere along the way I  must have. Either that or my dog accidentally registered me for a 12 hour endurance trail run.  Im leaning towards the dog having a good laugh at my expense.

Fast forward and BOOM it was race week.  After the disastrous Two Way Torture Test, which is a 13.1 + 13.1 that goes relentlessly uphill on pavement, that Patrick and I ran just a week earlier, I did not have high hopes for the 12 hour Alaska Endurance Trail Run.  I did not even bother to set a goal, other than to keep moving for more than 8 hours out of the 12.  My sister Susan said I should go for at least 40 miles, I just kinda laughed at her.  She is my task master always pushing me to be better, she is everything I wish that I was 🙂 The Alaska Endurance Trail Run (AETR) is a 6 mile loop through rolling hills of our nordic ski trail at the University of Alaska.  From wide trails to very rooty single track with a few down trees as obstacles.  I run on this section of trail at least 2x per week as it is just a few steps from my office at the Uni.

Friday afternoon I hook up with Don, the race director, and we head to Sam’s Club to buy feed station food and post race BBQ foods.  I am not sure either of us were prepared for the Sam’s club onslaut…first of the month on a friday afternoon, it was cray in there! But we got just about everything on his list and I trucked it all home to hold for after the race. Friday night, I got all of my things together.  Lots of shoes, sock, and my measly food stores.  I carbo’ed up with the meal of champions, Taco Bell. Yes, Taco Bell.

Saturday morning came early at 5 am with the sun already shining. In the land of the midnight sun of Alaska, this time of year it always is!  The weather was looking at mostly sunny around 65-70 degrees, with an isolated shower possible in the later afternoon.  OK, this looks promising. I have my early morning Cafe’ Caramel protein shake and get ready to head out the door for a 7 am check in time.

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EagleFire with Travis

I get to the check in and see a happy familiar face, Travis from my RWB group is there cheerful and awesome as ever. EagleFire! We snapped a quick photo and I got down to business of sorting out my gear.  I settled on a my clothing, went with an INKnBURN skirt and racerback tank. The skirt had two generous pockets and the singlet was nice and light. I figured if it showered later I could pull on a tech t. But the sun was starting to be nice and warm so I figured the tank was the best choice. The trails were mostly dry, which is not normally the case this time of year, with a few downed trees and some mushy spots. But nothing that could not be navigated easily around.  For once my feet stayed dry the whole time 🙂

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PreRace meeting, Travis snapped a photo!

Pre-race briefing, with Don the race director and off we go!  The first loop was GREAT, I felt amazing. Kept to my pace of about 11:30 per mile just to get my feet under me and to get a jump-start on the long day.  I had my audio book all ready, the BBC Radio dramatized version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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Normally this part of the trail is a mini lake!

Somewhere around loop #2 I started to feel the beginnings of a hot spot on the inset of my foot near my big toe. So at the end of loop 2 I stopped and put some moleskin on that spot on both feet. This tends to be where I get tender and/or blister spots.  I decided to keep on with my Hoka One One Speed Goat trail shoes for a little longer.  After loop 3 I got a nice surprise, my running partner Patrick was waiting for me at the starting line 🙂  YAY!!! I got a huge lift of spirit when I saw him as I was running up to the line.  Love this man to death, he is so awesome and always so supportive of me and the crazy schemes I come up with for us to do.  He tweaked his back earlier in the week so he was unable to run or participate this year.  We talked a little, and I got a bite of my Quest strawberry cheesecake protein bar and some poweraid zero.

At this point I decided that I needed to run with my handheld as it was getting warmer.  So I popped a NUUN tablet in with my water and off I went.  I did this each lap, drank some poweraid zero, a few nibbles of the Quest Bar and then filled my handheld with NUNN water for the running part.  Lap three was mentally HARD. I think I walked more this loop than I did any other loop.

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Just keep moving forward!

 

I got an amazing lift at the completion of lap 4 I had a gift left by my girlfriend Skye, who was walking the 12 hour or at least most of it.  She had left to course for a little bit and brought me back a bun-less cheeseburger. It was the best damn patty I ever had.  It was perfection!  That gave me the energy to pick up the pace.  I also took this time to take an extended break of about 15 minutes. Re-applied my moleskin, new socks and then I changed into my Brooks Adrenaline’s, these are a little on the big side and my feet had began to swell so they felt amazing.  Lap 5 uneventful…more running. I tried to keep a strategy of running the first 2 miles, run/walk 3-4, and running the remainder.  This seemed to work well. I felt really good the whole time so far.  My motor was strong, my body felt good, other than my feet were getting really tired. Lap 6 was my last full lap.

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Ran through some brambles getting around the downed tree.

 

The last 2 hours of the race a shorter course was opened up, which was roughly half a mile. This way you could maximize your mileage. Strategy is involved in that this small loop was muddier than the rest and much hillier than the big loop.  I got in my 36 then decided to change shoes one more time to my old Hoka Clifton 1’s as they have the widest toe box.  I drank one protein drink and decided to hit the small loops. I could have possibly made one more big one, but I did not want to chance it.  Only full loops counted and I didn’t want to make it all that way to only not have it count.  So off I go on the mini loops.

 

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Rachael taunting me to do MORE!

I did run/walk a small loop with my work and running buddy Tom. He is awesome and was doing the 6 hour version. He is a running machine. I want to be like him when I grow up 🙂 At this point time was winding down and I had made sister Susan’s goal of 40 miles.  I decided to give it one more baby loop just for good measure.  At the end of my final loop Stacey and Rachael were trying so hard to get me to do just one more, even offering to run it with me……but I was DONE 🙂  Extra beer stamps on my beer card were not enough to get me to run more.  I finished the day with 40.50 miles. I also ended up out of the 12 hours moving about 11:05 of the time…whoa a lot more on my feet than I thought I would do.

 

Things I would do differently:  Better nutrition.  I am sure that I did not get enough calories, with 2 protein drinks and a single kid sized burger patty and a single Quest Bar. But that said, I was never hungry nor did I feel like I crashed.  Better Hydration. I drank the whole race, but never once had to use the bathroom.  I never felt thirsty, but I think I needed to add more electrolytes, maybe…. Tape/moleskin up right from the start my normal hot spots.

At the start I had no idea that I could do this.  But it was amazing fun. And the thing is I was not as tired as I thought I would be. I still had gas in the tank and legs to run at hour 11, I figured by that point I would have been reduced to crawling.  I learned yesterday that my body is capable of much more than I give it credit for.

Today I feel pretty darn good. I feel less tired today than I did after the Two Way Torture Test that Pat and I did the week before, its kinda amazing.  My legs are good and surprisingly not a single blister to be found, now that in itself is a miracle.

Onward and forward to the next Ultra!

 

Why Not Tri…..

Another Sprint Triathlon in the books this past weekend.  I traveled down to Wasilla, Alaska which is about 5 hours via car from my home.  I neither saw Palin, nor Russia, so in that respect I was a little disappointed 🙂  This is one of my favourite sprints in the state. It small and friendly.  It is still early season here, so the swim is conducted in the Wasilla Pool, but the best thing is for a pool swim its 2 per lane!  NO circle swimming.

The good news is that I got my new race wheels in, bad news is I was not sure if I had time to mount them. So I took them over to GoldStream Sports and had them look them over and tube and rubber them up.  Thank goodness they are so awesome.  It took like 20  minutes from start to finish.  Heck, some days it takes me 3 hours, 3 beers, and a lot of explicatives to change a single tire.

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OMG, So Pretty 🙂
I drove down early Friday morning so that I could pick up my bib.  It was raining most of the way and the forecast was not looking so great. The forecast was cool temps, wind, and rain. Sigh….this might not be pretty at all.  I pick up my packet and back to my hotel on Lake Lucille.  I took a short walk around the lake to get loose from the long car ride.  Hopped over to my favourite sub shop and had dinner.  That sub shop is the ONLY decent place to eat in this town, sad to say.

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Windy at Lake Lucille
I got up super early and had my yogurt and half a Quest bar before I headed over to set up for the race.  I was bib #2, so I had a first wave spot and a primo rack spot.  This is one of those small races where you have to bring your own bike stand. Lucikly no rain. It was super overcast and 46 degrees.  I was pretty lucky. After I finished the wind really picked up and it started to lightly rain. So glad I did not have to bike in the rain.

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Bring Your Own Bike Stand
Swim was one of my worst. The pool was so hot, it was like swimming in a bathtub.  I am used to swimming in the UAF pool which is one of the coldest in the state.  The hot water really slowed me down.  I also was off on my strokes and kept coming up half a stroke short of the wall, so I had reach and it really messed with my turns and push offs.

 

I head out of the pool and meander to my bike. I felt that my transition was slow, but because it was so cold I took the time to put on my socks with my bike shoes as well as an ear band under my helmet.  My bike was pretty darn good.  I had no idea at the time because I was not timing or using my garmin for this race. I forgot to turn it on as usual.  I motored on through the hilly bike course, with an average of over 17mph, which for  me on a hilly course is pretty darn smoking!  I did unfortunately bike an extra mile.  The course volunteer got confused between the bike and the run legs and sent the first handful of bikers onto the run course at an intersection.  Bikers should not have turned but she kept yelling at me I listened to her.  I have done this race many times before and knew the course, but because of her yelling I thought they must have had a last-minute course change for some unforeseen reason.  Well I should have listened to my instincts.  Even so I still had an amazing bike.

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This was uphill, but smile for the camera!
Off came the helmet and on come the running shoes and my trusty Brooks running cap.  Dang it, I forget to take my gloves off. So I stripped them off and dropped them at the aide station that was right after the run-out spot.  Which I proceeded to forget to pick backup after the race. Guess I need to buy a new pair now 🙂  The run was uneventful.  I did walk for about 1 minute out of transition so that I could get my hat secured and my race belt on.  The run course mimics much of the bike course but just a much smaller rectangle. So the first 1.5 miles of the course is up the big hill and the next 1/4 is downhill and the last 1/4 is mixed. I was able to keep the turnover good going up the hill, which was my big goal for this race.  I am pretty pleased about my run. I only got passed by one female runner, who was hauling tail coming up the hill 🙂  It was during the run that I was super happy that it was overcast and cool. I did not have to worry about over heating.

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Hey Look…..Another Camera….Smile Pretty!
As I cruised into the finish line I was fairly confident that I had made a Personal Record on this course.  Finishing time 1:22 Officially 8 minutes PR, but if I deduct the extra biking in it was more like a 12 minute PR.  Which is AWESOME!  This is my 3rd triathlon so far this summer/spring and each race has been a course PR.  My targeted training over the winter has really made a difference in my early season races. I am also pretty sure the 10 pounds I have dropped have made a difference as well, especially on the run part.  I also find my runs increase or decrease the most when my weight fluctuates up or down.

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Finishers medals were awesome this year 🙂
I really enjoy this race and I hope to race again next year.  I have another sprint coming up in June. That race is a brand new one for me, so I have nothing to compare that course to.  This looks like it is shaping up to be a great season for me 🙂

What Does it Take to Clock a 15 Minute PR?

Two words.  Hard Work.  Who would have thought that hard work and consistent training would make all the difference?  Not the shiny new bike or the fancy new kicks. I guess I have been doing it wrong all these years.

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I have been training hard over the winter.  Lavaman was my reason to keep training during the winter on a structured plan.  I certainly didn’t want to travel that far to do poorly due to under conditioning.  Well that hard work really paid off during the season opener triathlon this past weekend.  Our season opener is the BreakUp Triathlon, which is for Fairbanks, Alaska, an early season event.  Because it so early season for us we do our swim in the University pool instead of open water.  The ice that still covers all the lakes it a pretty strong deterrent from swimming.

I have run this race every year since it started and my time has been fairly consistent within 3-5 minutes. But this year, all bets were off and I knew I could run a course PR based on my performance at the Lavaman Olympic distance.

Race day started out a little chilly, which always makes it hard to know what to wear.  I decided to go with my club kit.  My club Tri-It Together is based in Temecula, CA so I hoped it would bring a little luck and a lot of the So.Cal sun and warmth.

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Even my hat matches!

I bought an early lane bid. I hate circle swimming and will gladly pay the charity donation in order to avoid it. And the bonus is I get to start in the first or second wave so I finish early instead of rolling the dice as to what my start time will be.

Swim was uneventful.  Just right about where I normally am, so no surprises.  Glad my lane partner was a little faster than me, it pushed me to try to keep up which kept my speed up. Transition was slow’ish which is normal for me, but I got out on the bike easy peasy.

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Look at those high elbows 🙂

Now is when it gets interesting.  No socks, so my feet immediately get cold and stay cold and clammy.  I felt a little off the first two miles or so.  Turns out  I was in the small chain ring instead of the big, like I should have been.  Crap no wonder I felt like I was spinning out of control. Get that taken care of and honestly struggle a little though the first half. I felt really slow.  Then notice, crap, I forgot to start my Garmin. Of course I did.  I buy a fancy Garmin 920 and half the time I forget to actually push the button. So I have no gauge on the bike to know how I did.  The course is flat-hill-rolling-flat. With the hills around the turnaround.  After the turnaround I felt a lot better and was able to pass the one racer that passed me going out. I passed her and did not see her again until the run portion.

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Head into T2 and get my socks on my clammy feet and grab my hat and head out.  My feet are like frozen blocks. This course is pretty brutal for a sprint in that a huge half mile hill is the first thing out of the gate.  I ran 3/4 up then conserved a little energy and walked up the last 1/4 which is by far the steepest part.  I did try to power walk, but walking was the right thing to do. Helped my feet as well. I crested the hill and was able to run the remainder of the course with no issues.  Its always the first mile off the bike that is the hardest then I can normally find my groove.

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Whoa…is that a smile?

About 1/2 the lady I passed on the bike whizzed by.  But I was able to pass one other runner, which felt good.  Then my team mate John passed me 3/4 of the way to the finish. I was so hoping to hold him off, but I just couldn’t keep up.  Maybe next year I can beat him.  At the finish John said, wow, you were really fast this year.  Considering I had no watch time or clock time I told him maybe 5 minutes or so.  But John disagreed and said it was way faster.  I guess he was right 🙂  Note to self: Never argue with another scientist.  I finished in 1:38 which was a major improvement over the prior year of 1:53.  OMG, I totally killed it.  So much happiness that I was able to that much better.

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Looks like a leisure walk in the park

The rest of my team finish, and all of us did better this year than last year.  This race was bittersweet though.  This will be our last race with our teammate and colleague Georgina.  She is off to a new adventure in the lower 48.  With that in mind I am so glad we all had one last chance to race together and enjoy the camaraderie.  As you can see we were a very happy group of racers.

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Team Nothing to Lose

I guess the moral of the story is consistency really does pay off.  I have another race in a few weeks, also another local’ish sprint tri.  My goal is to do at least 8 minutes better than I did last year.  That may be a little optimistic, but I think I can do it.

Running has always been my strongest, at least until about 3 years ago.  I have been spending a lot of time working on my running and I think that is paying off. Even just a minute a mile really pays off!

 

 

Post Holiday Let Down

I am suffering from the dreaded post holiday let down.  How can you go from tropical beautiful Hawaii back to a still transitioning from winter Alaska with out going through withdrawl?

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Mountain to Ocean view…

I left that, to come home to this…..A grey wasteland

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Time to get to get back to real life.  The semester for me is all done, just a few grades left then the freedom of summer at least for 3 weeks until summer session starts. I am taking this time to focus on my running.

I had a great run last night, it was short, 4 miles, but I was really able to work on my pace.  Prior to my injury I was running sub 10 and in January of this year I was running about 12:35.  Well I have been working hard on my stand alone runs and have been able to consistently run right at 10:45. So I have made progress.  By the end of the season I hope to be able to get back to at least a round 10:00 per mile.  Its going to take a lot of hard work. And the 10 pounds lost so far have been a big help I am sure.

I have one big goal race in October, Beach to Battleship Ironman and one additional goal of getting in an ultra somewhere.  A suggestion from friend, Tasha, has me looking at the Tunnel Hill 100 in October, but dang why does it have to be the weekend after Ironman?  I guess the search goes on to find a good friendly 50, 100 or even another 24 hour race to fill out my schedule.  Do to conflict I will not be able to attend the North Coast 24 hour endurance run again this year.

I am inspired to run. My Girls on the Run ladies are awesome and inspire me every day to keep going.  These young ladies give it their all each practice and that makes my heart happy. I wish so much that I had a program like that when I was that age.  We had a fund raiser for GOTR in conjunction with our 5K Run for Respect and I was amazed at how many came to run our race.  The community here is strong and giving.

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This amazing young volunteer gave high 5’s to everyone!

I have my first Alaska Triathlon this weekend.  I am hoping all my hard work has paid off and I can better my time from last year by 5 minutes. That is my goal. Five minutes, I think thats doable.  I guess we will find out and I will report back 🙂