Charleston Chews

January 16, 2012 § 1 Comment

Before I recap my Charleston weekend, some of you may be wondering how my super-star OT qualifying friend Chrissie did this weekend in Houston. Unfortunately, Chrissie withdrew from the race at mile 20 due to some hamstring trouble. She tells about the experience in her own words on our TWSS blog here, and I can say that finish or no finish, she’s still #1 in our hearts 🙂 Live to run another day of course!

Also going down this past weekend amidst all the trials-hype was the HURT 100. This still stands as without a doubt the hardest race I have ever run, and prior to the weekend I can I was almost glad not to be facing that race this year! However, as the twitter and text updates started rolling in, those feelings changed and yes, I was missing it! But I was lucky enough to run vicariously through a fellow HB athlete, Andi, and follow along with her race throughout the weekend. I am sure this race lived up to Andi’s expectations – and she nailed it, finishing in  34 hours. I got goosebumps looking at her finisher pic with super pacer-Dave (I think it’s HIS turn to run the race next year 🙂 )

Now on to Charleston where the 5 of us spread our talents over 2 of the 3 races going down last weekend. Ryan and Conrad were tackling the marathon. With a goal of getting that BQ time for 2013, Conrad ran with Ryan for a good chunk of the race and they achieved this goal easily. Well, kind of. The wind and not-so-scenic race course presented some challenges, but they got it done and it was especially neat to see Ryan come off with a huge 7 minute PR. Less than 8 weeks after an Ironman he managed to recover, then train for an open marathon. That is not an easy feat folks!

In the 5k, Ed, Andy and I represented all the way. Ed ran away with the win in the men’s race, while Andy helped pace me through 2 miles of my race, ultimately helping me get that first place female spot! My time was a 19:05 but before you investigate that too much, yes, the course was short. We believe it fell just at 3 miles  and would estimate a true 5K time in the realm of 19:45. But with a goal of running under 20, I was very pleased. And yes, I do realize that I am a lucky girl to have managed to find a 5k I could WIN as my first one. I’m also excited for the race pictures as I had a sweet outfit on despite it being pretty darn chilly that early:

Is there more short-distance racing in my future? Probably. But for now it’s back to swim camp!

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You’ve Gotta Play…in Luray.

August 17, 2011 § 4 Comments

This past weekend 6 of us – me, Ryan, Pat, Mike, Ben, and Andy headed down to Luray, VA to race the Luray International Triathlon and then get in some good training on Sunday. I have mentioned before that this weekend in particular is one of my favorites. For one thing, it would be my third time at this event and it is one that I really enjoy. The course is tough, the competition is strong, and David Glover does a great job as RD. The other part of the weekend I love is Luray itself. Nestled on the side of the Shenandoah National Park, with Skyline Drive just a few miles away, there are mountains and trails and woods all over. I nominated myself to find us a cabin again this year, and, well, if you know me you would know that I really like being out in the middle of nowhere. We stayed at the Blue Ridge Getaway, in Rileyville and it was absolutely gorgeous. The only catch was that it was a steep drive up a Jeep road to get there – and seeing as I had the only car with 4WD that meant a lot of the party would make a few trips hiking up and down the road with bikes and other important items, like beer and watermelon. But once you were up there, it was definitely worth it.

Friday night Ryan cooked up a pasta dinner that we enjoyed out on the deck before calling it a night. Oh, but not before I managed to miss the bear walking through our backyard! As luck would have it, in the five minutes where I grabbed Ben and asked him to help me as I turned my car around on the steep road, we missed it. Oh well. We made the drive to the race site in the morning, where I was pleased to find out that the water had cooled down a little to 78.5. A much better result than the 89 degrees of NJ a few weeks back!! Right from the gun I felt good on the swim. My placement was right – I knew I was with the lead group and had even found some feet to swim on. That didn’t last past the first couple buoys, but by then we had caught the other waves and people were everywhere anyway. I came out of the water in 26:30 (2 minutes faster than last year) and headed into the long T1. Helping make this transition even longer was me just getting confused. Luckily, when I checked in that morning that had written my race number on my hand (as if I couldn’t read it on my shoulders), and I literally had to look down to remember what my number was. Oh yeah, I thought, and headed to that rack.

Jumped on the bike and got ready to roll. My goal here was to go hard for the first loop and then in the second loop keep up the intensity but try to keep my cadence up as much as possible to keep my legs spinning and ready to run. I had done my homework and knew my competition, and knew that as long as I had good running legs left I had a shot at the podium. This bike course has a lot of climbing, which suits me, so I just settled in and went for it. Because it was a two-loop course I felt like I was passing a lot of people but it was tough to tell who was in front of and behind me. There is one final climb before a descent into the transition area, so I took that time to get some more water, GU and salt in me before the run. As I entered the park I was told I was in second place, then I saw the lead female heading out on the run and knew I needed to keep her within at least 3 minutes if I wanted any sort of shot at running her down. Came off the bike in a whopping 1:14:56, about 10 minutes faster than last year! The thought of her ahead propelled me through T2 pretty quickly and out onto the run I went.

 

The run course would deviate from prior years; this year instead of 2 loops, it would be one out and back. What I didn’t know was that the extended 1.5 miles of the “out” portion was a gravel road. Luckily, my ultrarunning days of miles and miles of gravel roads prepared me for this and I think I fared well on the terrain. I could tell some others were not so fortunate. (Note: I also always race in flat-trainers….also known as Flainers. I essentially wear my trainers down until, in my head, I believe that they are now flats. I believe this because 1. I have never actually owned flats, so I am able to convince myself of this and 2. I can’t keep buying that many shoes so I have to figure out some way to recycle them! I realize this is absurd. And I realize most people will tell me I’m hurting my feet. And it is, but I haven’t, so I’ll probably continue doing this until I finally swallow my pride and buy a pair of flats. BUT my point is that the soles of these shoes were very well suited to the gravel, as opposed to Mike who had to stop and pick rocks out of the bottom of his fancy-pants flats!)

But, back to the run. The good part about having many friends racing is that there is a lot of motivation out on the course. One by one I saw them as they were on their way home and they all gave me some words of encouragement. And by words of encouragement, they mostly all raised their eyebrows and told me to get moving, because the girl in first was going hard. I hit the turnaround and was able to calculate that I had made up time, but I was still about 90 seconds back. Would it be enough? Unfortunately right after the turnaround is a big hill, which sucked some of the life out of me. So, I wasn’t able to make much more of a gain on the way in, but I did finish the run in 46:33 – another 2 minute improvement from last year!

My final time was 2:30:48, 2nd of 201 females. This is easily one of the best races I have had in the sport.  I felt in control of each discipline, and for the first time I hit the run and was ready to run someone down – not just look back and hope I didn’t get caught. It also felt good to be hanging with girls who consider this distance their specialty – and giving them a run for their money. I wasn’t the only one who picked up some wine-themed hardware though (pictures to come) and the group of us packed up and headed back to the cabin.

Saturday afternoon brought burgers, corn husking, and Justin Bieber. I took a nap but that still didn’t keep me from getting to sleep early Saturday as we had a big day on Sunday. I had one more long ride to get in (though it was allowed to be easy).  We had talked about getting out to Skyline Drive to ride for quite some time, and finally were able to make it happen. Keeping it easy was actually the toughest part of the day as a 4 mile climb up to Skyline was the start of the day! Since I was always a bit back from the boys, on one of the stops I attempted to enlighten them on another Alyssaism…if you ride slower, you’ll get faster. Needless to say, they didn’t buy it, haha.  From there you’ll still find a lot of climbing but the road conditions, and the small amount of traffic – not to mention the views – make it a great ride! It would be really cool to go back and just ride that as a workout.

After the ride we packed up and headed back to Baltimore, where we lucked out and missed the torrential rains that had been in the area. All in all, this was the perfect way to enter my taper mode. Now it’s time to relax and get everything set for next Thursday when Ryan and I roll out to Louisville!

>Last Weekend

November 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

>This past Saturday I hung out with 300 of my friends. We met around 5 in the morning and took a few buses together to our favorite hangout spot. Before leaving some of us conferred about what to wear – shorts were the final decision. We said goodbye to the others we’d be leaving behind with a smile and a cheer. In the beginning there weren’t too many conversations. We bonded in silence as the sun came up and we were greeted by the most beautiful sunrise in the Blue Ridge Mountains I’ve ever seen.

Throughout the morning we got a chance to catch up with those we haven’t seen in awhile. We introduced ourselves to those we didn’t know and found out how much we had in common. We found some good places to eat with plenty of food for all of us. Some of us decided to leave early.We said goodbye to them with heavy hearts.

The afternoon came rolling in and the temperatures started to drop. We made fun of each other for having worn shorts in the snow. We told jokes. When one of us got a little tired or frustrated or sad, they were met with a smile and a hug. Sometimes we found ourselves separated from each other. We were alone with our thoughts, but knew that we were never far from a friend. As the sun began to set, we all gathered again. We were goofy and silly and tired and happy. There were smiles and there were shrugs as we said goodbye to each other; just until next time.

Sometimes I race. But last weekend I went out and ran 50 miles with friends. And I had a blast.

Bring on the HURT.

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