>QOTD

July 27, 2010 § 4 Comments

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“The title ‘world’s greatest endurance athlete’ some writers have
given to the Ironman champion is wrong,” she said. “I don’t want to
sound egotistical, but it is not that hard a race to finish. I have done
the Western States 100-mile run and the Iditasport, 100 miles on
snowshoes in the Alaskan wilderness. Both of those involve much
less intensity for a much longer time. The thing that is truly difficult
about the Ironman is the intensity. The Ironman distance demands a
lot, but what sets it apart is how fast they go. No other race gets that
good an athlete on that kind of course. You add the fatigue from the
swim, the fatigue on the bike, and the fatigue on the run, and what
results is a huge fatigue, an exponential multiplier of fatigue.”
–Sally Edwards, a pioneer in women’s endurance sports (taken from the book 17 Hours to Glory)
 
 
Dear Triathlon Spirits,
 
On September 12, please give me speed.
 
xoxo,
Alyssa
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>Can’t be tamed

July 26, 2010 § 1 Comment

>There are 2 things I love about the sports I do. One, is winning. The other, is getting my butt kicked so much I don’t even know why I bother. In the past few weeks I have had the chance to experience both.

First, the ass kicking explained: This summer I have found a spot in my heart for cycling. Maybe it was the buildup behind Lance’s “final” Tour. Maybe it was boredom from all the running miles in the spring. Maybe it was the new road bike I got myself for my birthday. Whatever the cause, I have ridden more miles in the past month than I did all of last summer before IM Louisville, times two.  Yeah, that much.

And, it’s awesome.

I am truly enjoying learning the process of cycling. With a little bit of work, I have already come so far. But, that has come at a price. This is the first year where I have trusted myself to go out and ride with groups. I have always worried about getting dropped, but also about my own bike handling skills. Now I am comfortable on the bike, but still get dropped. Alot. By people who you would look at on the street and never know how fast they could ride a bike. No matter how good I get at this, there is always someone better. And someone a lot better. And someone a lot better than that person. Cycling is humbling, but it is also exciting and fun. It reminds me of the days when I’d do 2-a-days with the high school soccer team, going all out and feeling so tired and beat down that you can’t move. But you don’t want to stop either. Because getting your butt kicked every now and then is a neccessary evil for an athlete.

Now, for the winning part. Last weekend I ran the Rosaryville 50K. Being the 2nd year that this race was offered, I figured it would stay pretty low key, giving me a good shot to go for the W. I headed out to Rosaryville State Park that Sunday, set out a cooler of goodies on the loop (3 loops of 10ish miles) and headed to the start. I had to get through 1 loop on my own, then my awesome crew of Arjun, Jen and Cheese were coming out to run the others with me. And its a good thing too, because I started that first loop and certainly had my doubts about the day. My legs felt horrible going downhill which is never a good start. Plus, it was getting hot fast. I made it through though, and Cheese and Arjun jumped in for round 2. The first 5 miles with them to the aid station were good, I was still able to run comfortably. However, in this time I tried to take a GU and realized that it was just not going to happen. I had been drinking Perpetuem, so I was getting good calories that way, but I was still looking for a few extra. At the aid station I pounded mountain dew and like a gallon of water, and felt strong for a mile or two before my stomach really started to get upset. But, taking it slow and walking a bit, I got myself under control. Cheese and Arjun brought me in that lap to swap with Jen. At this point I started feeling really bad again. The next few miles were a huge struggle. Jen was great, just reminding me to keep sipping on water and saying I was doing well . We hit the midpoint aid station and I was just so thirsty again I couldn’t get enough water. I refilled the bottle though, packed my sports bra with ice (it really was hot….like, texas….or africa hot as Lance would say) and went out for the last section. I’m not sure if it was mentally knowing it was almost over, or I had finally found a balance of calories and liquids that worked in that heat, but I was able to run a good pace in to the finish. Coming in to the final aid station I was told I was the first place woman. I kind of laughed and told Jen that wasn’t right. I was thinking I was 2nd or 3rd, possibly even 4th. It was real confusing though because 2 other races had started behind us, so the women who passed me could have been running other distances. Sure enough, as I crossed the line in 5:16 they announced me as the first female! And, being only the second year and having beat last year’s woman’s winning time by 3 minutes, I know have the female Course Record too – pretty sweet.  They did awards as people finished, so I collected my bling and headed to Wawa with the crew for some much needed food and bevs. A great day all around!

“One of my favorite things about cycling is that it can reward suffering with joy. Another thing I love about it is that it often rejects those who don’t understand this. Cycling teaches you that there’s such a thing as necessary suffering and such a thing as unnecessary suffering, and that sometimes a short cut is a dead end.”
– Bike Snob NYC

>Who needs a boyfriend…

July 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

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When you get bling winning races?
1st place female @ Rosaryville 50K today….Race report to follow soon!

>The Flip Side of the Coin

July 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

>Last month I had the priviledge of heading out to Squaw Valley as part of the crew for Russell Gill, of Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports, who would be running the Western States 100 mile. After the debacle of a race I had there last year, I was psyched to get to go out and not have to race! However, I would be getting my first true experience as a pacer.

I arrived in Reno on Thursday, got my rental car and headed out to one of my favorite places on earth, Olympic Village in Squaw Valley. Everything about this place is awesome, especially the fact that it’s like a little hideaway in the summer, even with the race going on. Right near Lake Tahoe, there is just so much to explore, and so many beautiful sunsets. But it wasn’t all play, as we spent Friday getting the game plan together for the race. Francesca and I would be driving separate cars to certain aid stations. They are pretty hard to get to, so its impossible to get to them all in one car. We’d basically be leap frogging each other the first 60 miles before convening at Foresthill where I would start to pace. Logistics and maps ready, aid station bags packed, coolers filled with ice….we were all set!

I will let you read Gill’s report here, but the long and short of it is that due to extreme stomach issues, he made the (wise) decision to drop at Green Gate (mile 85). I don’t want to focus on the outcome of this race as much as I do the concept of a pacer. To be honest, I was pretty nervous about the task – the day before, it finally hit me that I was running 30-40 miles myself…and with a pack! But, Francesca was there as my backup so I knew I’d be okay.

To prepare for pacing, I thought about the times that I have had a pacer. What do I like? What do I hate? Do I have enough stories to fill 8 hours of time? As a pacer I felt that I had to take care of my runner on 3 fronts – keep them strong physically, keep them strong mentally, and keep them safe and on course.

In the end, all of that went out the window. Unfortunately, Gill had been struggling to eat or drink for about 10 miles by the time I was with him. The first 5 or so miles I was with him was a battle of wills. We tried everything to get calories in his body, but nothing was taking. As time progressed and our paced slowed, it became moreso an issue of keeping the both of us safe on the trail. We still had to get 15 or so miles before any decisions could be made about his race. Darkness had fallen, and we both knew it was going to be a long night. Still, he never broke down. I have seen my fair share of tears on the trails, and have witnessed some pretty epic breakdowns. But, despite a painful pace (mostly due to stopping to puke every 5 minutes), the lonliness of the night, and the pain of 80 miles in his legs, Gill kept a good attitude. He counseled me about pretty much everything in life – from boys to careers to money. I pointed out the moon over the river, which just happened to be picture perfect that night, and despite a race which many would call chaotic or describe as “wheels falling off” he remained calm and collected. There was nothing left to be done but get to mile 85, so we just had to help each other make the time pass.

In the end, my duties as a pacer ended up being very different than I expected. But, it gave me more of an insight into what a pacer is really there to be. In a 50 miler or 50k, a pacer is probably used to push your pace, or keep track of time and when to eat and drink. But in a 100 miler, it’s a whole other ball game. In a 100, a pacer is there to be your friend. Because when things start to spiral away from your plan, the trail is a lonely place and your mind can easily depress you. Your pacer has to be there to keep you company. To remind you that you’re not alone. To laugh at you as you vomit and fart at the same time. To just go through the utter shittiness with you. An 8-hour 20 miler is not what I thought I had gotten myself into that night, but there was not a single moment where I’d have rather been somewhere else.

Where Am I?

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