Sunday, January 28, 2007

Race Report: Frost Yer Fanny

The race that almost wasn' least for me! Several days leading up to the race, weather forecasters began calling for another winter storm to hit central Oklahoma, dumping between 4-8 inches of snow (chump change for northeasterners, but for Oklahomans, this represents, as Justin puts it, Armageddon). The forecast eased off a little as the weekend got closer, and I was in a mindset to hang around the house and just train. We raced and travelled so much last year, I've been really enjoying just training at home. Saturday morning when we got up, it was raining (not snowing), and we decided at 7:30am to go ahead and head down to Austin. We had the dogs with us in our new Honda Fit, but driving conditions were horrendous. It was raining pretty well, and as we crossed the border into Texas, it seemed as though the number of big trucks multiplied by five. As we passed Waco, Haley, our red heeler began foaming...and promptly (and silently, no less) gagged up a big old wad of foam onto Jordan, our hound. Jordan proceeded to (not so silently) attempt to clamber into my lap. We exited the freeway and took a walk to clear the motion sickness...nevertheless, Haley sat in my lap for the remainder of the trip with the window cracked open (in the rain).

Our USAT region (south-midwest) does regional awards, and we attended the awards dinner banquet with Justin's parents, who had driven down from Arkansas. Rankings are such a hot topic for people, in terms of whether they really reflect abilities, but similar to the USAT national rankings, our region does its own set of rankings. This year, I was the top female for both triathlon and duathlon. There is a lot of talent in the region, so it was a nice honor to have, even knowing that there can be some issues with how the rankings are produced.

The next morning, we were up and out the door of the hotel in plenty of time to get a good breakfast (I'm a big fan of good breakfasts...I opted for harvest grain pancakes at the nearby IHOP instead of the oatmeal I usually get). Justin decided to opt out of the race since his knee had been annoying him for a few weeks leading up to the race (it's in good shape now, though!), so it was just Dave (Justin's dad) and I racing. Justin had the girls to keep him busy during the race, and it sounds like they had a great time smelling out the entire park. The weather was pretty nice, a chilly start to the day (near 40 degrees), but the sun was out. The weather forecasters expected the temperature to get to over 60 degrees!

The race site was pretty nice, although with all of the recent rains, there were quite a few mudholes, and since a good part of the run course was cross-country (ugh...I'm not used to slip-sliding on grass), the mudholes were little challenging obstacles to deal with. The race organizers started the race in three waves, with the women and relays in the last wave. We were started, and immediately 10 or more women flew off ahead. I have been really trying to work on proper pacing, so I held back, hoping they had no idea about pacing...and I started passing a few. I felt much more comfortable on the part of the course that had an asphalt trail, so I suppose I need to run a bit more on grassy trails to get used to the slippery feeling. I finished the first run in eighth place (I guess) and transitioned onto the bike. We had not biked much in the week leading up to the race, unfortunately, because we'd have several commitments in the evenings that we had to attend. It's amazing how consistency helps both the physical and mental preparation, and I think my bike leg could have gone a lot better. The course was flat, although there were quite a few turns and areas where I had to slow down due to road washouts and construction. I passed all the women ahead of me but one by the time I pulled into transition. I changed shoes (my trail runners had been great, but they were covered with mud, and they didn't have quick laces anyway) and took off. It might have been better if I had used my trail runners instead of my racing shoes because I felt like a slipped a bit more on the grass during the second run. I managed to hang on for second overall.

The race went pretty well for an early season race. My run splits are slowly improving (20:29 and 21:47), but I've got a lot of work to do. I did fine on the bike with respect to the other women, with the fastest female time, but I think I could have done a lot better. Duathlons are tough - that extra run is hard! I congratulated the woman who won the race, Kristin Villopoto, on her great race (she beat me by ~2 minutes...a great runner!). She's planning on going to short course duathlon worlds in Hungary, and I'm sure she'll do fantastic (good luck, Kristin!).

Frost Yer Fanny Results

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Ugly Running Clothes

I've been on a running focus - I never ran in high school or college, I don't look like a runner, but damn it, I'm going to try and be a faster runner. So, I've been putting in the miles and suffering through the intervals. Hopefully, my plan will work out, and my run will significantly improve...time will tell.

Yesterday, I got off of work and took off on an hour run from the museum in town. Justin and I carpooled, so I thought I'd get in a run in town before picking him up. I usually run around campus and towards Justin's weather building, where there is a lot of construction going on because the roads are so nice and quiet...and I can just focus on my workout without distractions. Yesterday I really wanted quiet roads because I had managed to grab the UGLIEST combination of running clothes ever - I have these brown (seriously) tights with red and black (how classy, eh?), and in my rush out the door in the morning, I grabbed a black long-sleeved shirt with big circles all over it. My bright orange Adidas Supernovas and a green hat capped off the look - it was beautiful in the sense that when my dogs take a crap, if you look hard, you might be able to imagine shapes in the crap, like people imagine the clouds making pictures in the sky. Or not. You get the picture. I was a running freakazoid with no sense of style (my least I was running!).

I hustled over to the quiet roads and was doing my run, happy in my general solitude, but my enjoyment was cut short by a red SUV that appeared to be stalking me. I was pissed and freaked, so I ran to the OU police department (conveniently located near where I was running), placed a report, and then headed back to the museum (luckily I had been able to get my full hour in). After picking up Justin, I drove back to the station to see if they'd checked out the SUV, but they hadn't. Why do there have to be people out there like that? I'm not going to be intimidated, but I will be very good about carrying a cell phone...and maybe a crowbar. Wouldn't that be funny? Maybe people would call the cops on me...