Friday, June 30, 2006

Squirrel terrorists

There is a war on squirrel terrorism going on in our backyard.
I got home this afternoon and was out watering my poor drought-stricken plants when I heard an awful dog scream, and then turned around to see Jordan flying through the doggie door to one of the trees in the back yard - she'd seen a squirrel, apparently. Justin came running through the door (not the doggie door) because he thought she had been hurt (it was an awful noise). She sat at that tree for a good twenty minutes. Impressive for her (she prefers to be indoors).

Haley, on the other hand, treed a squirrel a couple of weeks ago in a crepe myrtle that is MAYBE 14 feet tall. I had to drag her inside, and it took an hour for that squirrel to feel comfortable enough to take off for safer ground. After the squirrel was gone, I let Haley back out, and she guarded that tree for hours. Dogs 0, squirrels 47. I'm not looking forward to when the dogs score.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pseudo-Race Report: OKC-Velo Wed. TT

We did the 9-mile time trial yesterday put on by OKC-Velo (part of the summer series that includes crits and a circuit race) - I like these races. My time seemed alright, I suppose - 22:42 or something like that. 5 seconds faster than the last time I did the ride, but I almost crashed twice. I decided to ride in the gutter to get off of the nasty pavement (part of the Draper Lake course is on really nice pavement, while the other part is on absolute crap), and I was humming along in pain (par for the course for a TT) when Justin caught me. He passed me like I was standing still, and I kept on a' movin', but apparently was not paying as close attention to the gutter due to the distraction...and I hit a block of cement that was probably 4-5 inches tall. I am amazed that I didn't flat immediately...that I didn't bend my wheel in...that I stayed on the bike! Then, a little further along, I must have put my front wheel into a crack because my bike swayed under me, and I had to grab it to keep from going down. Finished the race completely parched - Justin had offered to carry some water to share so that I didn't have to put my aero bottle on. He was lollygagging a half-mile away after the finish while I was desperately trying to make spit to relieve the dry mouth...I ended up 4th or something like that for the B division (these races are not split by gender or category - there is an A [fast!] division, and then a B [the rest of us] division), while Justin's stellar blast-off performance won 1st in B. He's riding quite well. I was 2 seconds away from 3rd...paying attention on the course and cutting the corners (in triathlon, you can't cut corners on the's illegal and called blocking) may well have cost me 'dem seconds.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Race Report: Ozark Valley SprOly Triathlon

This is the second year that we've raced the Ozark Valley Triathlon out at Lake Wedington (west of Fayetteville, I believe), and I love this race. There is a 1000-meter (non-wetsuit) swim, a 19-mile bike on a fun, rolly course, and a 4-mile run that is done in two loops (to ensure you have to clamber up a pretty decent hill twice). The venue is absolutely beautiful - lots of trees and interesting topography. This year, as we did last year, we spent the night with J's folks in Bentonville and then drove down the morning of the race, in plenty of time (we thought). Yet, again, as we have noted in other races, people in this region are always unbelievably early to races! So, even though we were easily an hour early, everyone else seemed to have been there 2 hours early! I like to be early, so it felt like we were actually late, which is not totally ideal! We ended up with decent spots on the transition racks because the organizers had to pull out more. The one other "glitch" for the race was that there was a huge swath of gravel where the park was doing some repaving or something right at the entrance to the park, which meant for us that we would finish the main part of the bike course, dismount and run the bike on carpet over the gravel area at the park entrance, get back on the bike to the actual transition area, and then finally get off the bike to go into T2. It helps to keep your shoes on your bike for these things!

The race went just fine. I started in wave 3 (all the women), and there was plenty of room. I took it out at a moderate pace, and right away I saw two other women who were strong swimmers swim with me, and then move on ahead. We had to weave our way through the slower swimmers in the previous two waves. I exited the swim as the third woman out, but apparently passed a woman in transition. I saw Dave on the side of the road, as I was starting out on the bike, and he told me the woman ahead of me was only about 75 yards ahead. I saw her pretty quickly and recognized her (I saw her at this race last year, and at the Tulsa triathlon last year) - she's a very good swimmer. I passed her and then settled into the bike, trying to focus on keeping a heart rate in the 160-165 range. Originally, I was shooting for 165, but it was a little tough to keep it up there, perhaps because of the rolly course (downhills reduce the HR significantly!). It was fun pretending that I was slingshotting myself around the bikers I was passing who had started in previous waves (I am easily entertained)! I came into T2, had a good transition, and took off on the run. The run was easier (strike that..."less hard" is better) than I remembered from last year because there were some flat and easy downhill sections that helped move you along. The big hill was slow, but it was fun running down it! I finished, and the announcer mentioned that I had won the female overall last year, and then apparently he looked at the results and announced that I had improved my time by ~5 minutes. I was pretty pleased with that! It's so fun to improve! Justin had a really good race, too...finally a decent run for him where he wasn't breathing out of his ears (his description!). There were some other Tri-OKC'ers that came, and I think everyone placed in their age-groups (Buzz, Coop, Dez, Jerianne, Jane). We saw Chris H. and chatted with him for a while. We enjoyed the awards ceremony and definitely had fun at Lewis and Clark Outfitters using the gift certificates! The race organizers had gift certificates for overall male and females, as well as for the fastest swim/bike/run time for male and female (I won the bike and, to my surprise, the run). The plaques that they gave out were really pretty nice, too - the two we brought home look nice on our little shelves in the bike room! Anyhow, it's a good race, and if you're considering doing it, you should!

Ozark Valley Triathlon 2006 Results

Friday, June 23, 2006

Being smarter to go faster?

So, we've been trying to be pretty analytical about our training, asking ourselves what we can do to go faster with the time and resources we have. Justin was telling me about one of the books he's reading (Lore of Running) - how there are three kinds of people: 1) very talented people with low motivation, 2) average people with high motivation, and 3) very talented people with high motivation. I interjected that there were also people that were not very talented at all and who had no motivation (insightful on my part, eh?), to which he responded that those people are pretty much still sitting on their couches watching television and not out racing us on the weekends. Fair enough. So, his point eventually was that the champions are made out of people in category 3, but my take home message is that I am probably in category 2 and could simply be the most motivated person ever...and maybe I might still accomplish a lot! There's a lot to be said for putting in the hours...

So anyway, we've been a bit more proactive about soliciting ideas and suggestions from people that are far smarter than we are in each of the disciplines: swimming, biking, and running...we've been talking to the local swim coach at the pool, and he's been pretty helpful looking at our swim form and suggesting some workouts. It turns out the kids we see every day are putting in between 10-12,000 yards a day, 5 days a week. Yow. And, we're meeting with a friend tonight who knows a LOT about running...our achilles tendon right now for triathlon, so hopefully that's where lots of our improvement will come from!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cycling can blow you up...

We did our first real "circuit race" yesterday at the OKC Velo Wednesday Summer Series on our road bikes. We had ridden Tuesday night with the Norman group for 36 miles at a moderate pace, but I didn't think it had been too bad. Apparently, though, I had no idea what a 12-mile circuit would be like because the whole thing flew by in a painful sort of way and then the finish was all of the sudden there, and then it was done! I think the average speed was 22 mph...which, considering that a lot of the ride was done at a fairly "normal" pace, meant that those mean accelerations must have been pretty impressive. I need to work on being a stronger climber - I am amazed at how quick the roadies are to leapfrog the hills like they didn't exist! I rode in the "B" group - I wonder how crazy those "A" riders rode that course!

I'm still not sure about doing any crits any time soon, but we'll be back for more circuit races and time of these days, maybe I can call myself a cyclist!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Race Report: Tulsa Oly Triathlon

In a nutshell...things were going well until I flatted on the bike. I changed the tube, but both CO2 cannisters blew up in my face when I put the adapters on because they were not the correct size.

Lesson learned...get a threaded CO2 cannister that is the correct size.

I did enjoy getting to be a mile-15 cheerleader for the bike course. And, when the sag wagon picked me up, I thanked each and every volunteer that I saw profusely for all the help they had given (I try and thank people during a race, too, but it's a bit more difficult). People were unbelievably nice with their offers to help, but I firmly think that I needed to be able to handle my own problems, so I waved everyone on. Justin had a decent race, though, so we were both pleased with that. It was hot, hot, hot out, and we're getting better in the heat the more we deal with it! When we got home after the race at ~3pm, I went ahead and "finished" by running 6 miles (in 105 degrees). Not a wasted day, but it would have been fun to finish...oh well!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Race Report: OKC-Velo TT Series #2

This time trial was the third in series that OKC-Velo put on (I did the first race in April, missed the May race due to travelling, and then did this race...the results would be based on the best combined time for two of the three races). Again, this was the 8.4 mile out and back at Lake Overholser north and west of Oklahoma City. The weather was a big improvement from the misty mess that the April race had been. There was still a crosswind, but really, when is there ever not wind in Oklahoma? My race went just fine - I pushed hard and was trying to go under 20 minutes. I ended up with 19:58, good for the best overall female time (I also beat all of the cat 4/5 nice!). I ended up winning the series with a combined time of 40:29, and hopefully, I will be getting some moolah in the mail to help support this expensive racing habit.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Race Report: Route 66 Oly Triathlon

The Route 66 olympic-distance triathlon is the Oklahoma State Championship, as well as the Best of the US Amateur Triathlete Competition qualifier (what a mouthful!). Tri-OKC does a great job with race organization, and the club did well this year despite some hassles with the weather. Justin and I got up at 3:30am or something awful like that to be able to help volunteer at transition before the race (making sure people had been body-marked, had bar-end plugs, helmets, and the like). We took turns at the transition entrance while getting our own gear ready to go for the race. The forecast was supposed to be pretty mundane - warm with light winds. It ended up being warm with 20 knot winds, which, apparently almost took down the transition area while we were all out on the bike course (a gust took hold of the avalanche fencing and everything started slding along...).

The swim was wetsuit-legal, with a mass start. No major problems, except that the last jog into transition was into the was kind of fun, but got old pretty quickly and became irritating because I ended up drinking a little more of Lake El Reno than I really wanted to. Exited the water with Daniel Agnew, who's a pretty good swimmer (I think he's still under 20) and has been training for ITU races. I got out on the bike and settled in, wondering where Amanda Stevens was up ahead of me (our local professional...and an amazing swimmer). Approaching the half-way point, I finally saw her, and she wasn't too far ahead. My legs were feeling alright, despite the TTT races from the week before, so I tried to keep pushing. There was a bit of a crosswind, though, and things just didn't feel that fast...although the road surface for this course leaves a lot to be desired, too! Got to T2, racked the bike, and switched gears for the run, and I was off to the run course...where my legs became heavier and didn't help at all that the wind felt like a wall, and I seemed to be perpetually thirsty. It was a 2-loop course, and towards the end of the first loop, I started getting worried because I was not feeling great at all with the tired legs, and though I knew I was the first amateur woman, I wasn't sure if I would be able to hold off a strong runner. So I started taking splits on the women behind me at each turn, and luckily, even though I was running awfully, they were not getting closer. I finally reached the finish line and was really glad to be done. Justin had a bad run, too - obviously, we were still really, really, really tired from the previous weekend.

I was glad to have toughed it out, though, because I'll represent Oklahoma at the Best of the US Amateur Triathlete Competition in Minnesota in September. The thought of doing a race in cooler weather makes me giddy!