Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It's the coldest day in weeks, of course today is the first official open water swim!

So the beginning of May has been wicked nice and warm; nothing but sunshine, flowers, birds, everything Springy you can think of. We were still having classes in the Aquatic Center until last Monday.  Maury made the announcement we'd be moving to open water in a week. EEEK! A few had already made the plunge and reported it wasn't that bad, well someone elses "wasn't that bad" is never the same as your own "wasn't that bad."

As Monday got closer the temps began to fall. I don't do well when it's cooler and I get cold very easy. I have a wetsuit for the times it's a little chilly but no booties, gloves or thermal cap, those are for the crazies-Maury and Nelle. Then it rained for a few days and the temps dropped some more. I really wasn't looking forward to getting in any body of water, especially at 6am!!

Monday morning came and although it was nice not to get up at 4am, it was still cold out. I didn't dare look at the temp. I knew others would be swimming so I couldn't skip out. I was so temped not to set my alarm but then I'd feel guilty ALL day.  So I gathered my stuff and clothes for running after, I knew that would help warm me up. We all arrived at the same time, except for Steve, he always starts his swims at 5:30am.

To add to the nippy temps it was windy, just my luck. We walked down to the water and I'm pretty sure it got colder! Nelle brought me some booties and gloves to wear and Leah let me borrow that special cap. I put it all on and felt like Randy from A Christmas Story, the one stuffed into his winter suit and "can't get up!"  I glanced up as Maury casually walked into the water with just his swim shorts on, see I told you he was crazy. Leah and Steve were waiting for me, they better get used to that.

Everyone started swimming and I didn't want to be left behind. Maury and Nelle were already half way across the lake! I took a deep breath and walked in. Didn't feel much with the booties on but once I got up to my waist it started leaking in my back. Pretty sure I let out a few squeaks! Once I was in I was ok, really it "wasn't that bad" I swam for 30 mins.

Now it was time to exit. The air was colder than the water but the water wasn't warm. So you get stuck in the cycle of getting up, getting cold, ducking back under. It can be endless really. But you have to overcome it and power through it! All the while I'm picturing the nice warm pool a few miles away.

I had all my stuff ready to run but I left my sneakers and socks in the car, thought it would be easier to change up there. The car was about a three minute walk up a gradual hill. That's not that far, right? I started the quick drying process so my sweats wouldn't be wet when I ran. By the time I wiped one leg, the feeling in my hands started disappearing. I moved quicker.  I got dressed and tried putting my wetsuit in the special wetsuit compartment of my triathlon specific pack. By now I couldn't work the zipper. I bet Maury was laughing inside. My teeth started chattering and my knees vibrated like a sewing machine. This is the beginning stage of hypothermia, (I know this, I was just certified in Wilderness First Aid and because it's common sense). I did my best to close my bag, grabbed my wetsuit and told Maury (who was taking his time like it was 65º out), I'd see him Wednesday (yeah right). I was wearing Crocs with no socks and my hands didn't want to touch the cold wetsuit. As I walked quickly to the car my posture started sinking as I was trying to keep myself warm. I probably looked like a chicken, hiking my feet up high, pressing my upper body towards the ground. My feet hurt so bad, but if I stopped I'd be further away from my socks. I arrived at the car and wiped my feet with a towel and tried getting socks on my damp feet, just about impossible- my hands were of no use, they simply weren't working. Steve was in the exact same boat as me. We were laughing and chattering at the same time. It probably took us 10 minutes to get our socks on! We ran for 15 minutes and kept announcing when we could feel certain parts of our feet. It was quite comical. We finished and Steve still couldn't feel his toes. Mine were that burning sensation you get in winter. Hopped in the car and cranked the heat. I'm sure Steve did the same.

I was cold for most of the day. I couldn't wait to hear what my evening workout would be, I was hoping for "just relax in the hot tub tonight Meg, you've had a pretty chilly morning". Steve emailed me at 10am. This afternoon we'll do a training tri he wrote. My jaw dropped, I've got to get back in that water?!! He's nuts!

So we did, but this time I brought my socks. The sun was out so I was thankful. I borrowed Steve's sockies. They don't go as high as booties so I knew the water would get in. But I took what I could get.

The water was the same and it wasn't windy....great. As I babied my way in the water wincing like a little kid, Steve smiled and took off. He didn't wait.

I chased him across that lake and back. Transitioned at the beach and ran to the car. We started the bike and my quads turned to ice blocks. I don't ever take my tri suit off, I just layer up over it and I'm usually fine but I'm not usually swimming when its 50º out! I couldn't pedal like I needed to. Again Steve didn't wait. Towards the end my toes went numb...awesome. We transitioned to the run together. Eventually I could feel my toes and my quads thawed out after the burning phase. I ran with a purpose and felt strong. Steve finished a few minutes behind me. I realized this might be his first triathlon. I had to get a picture of him finishing. That smile tells me he's ready for a real race!

It was his first, I was so excited to be there with him! We layered up and grabbed a quick picture.

It was a good evening, although I had been dreading it since 10am!

This doesn't make it any easier for Wednesday morning, but I will set my alarm and I will get in the water and Steve won't wait.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Weekend of Racing

So it’s the end of the week and I’m just now getting the chance to write about last weekend. I’ve got a 4 hour ride to VT for a friend’s graduation and if I don’t get carsick I’ll be able to finish.
Last Saturday we had the first Team Skidmore fundraising event-the Hill Thrill 5k! Hill Thrill started a long time ago when my friends Regina and Tami moved north from Boston to Randolph, New Hampshire. They live up on Randolph Hill Rd and the view is breath taking.
They wanted their friends from Massachusetts to enjoy the view, the fresh mountain air, play games, camp in the yard and have a nice relaxing weekend. This has continued almost every year for 12 years! If there is a special event happening they recognize it at Hill Thrill; graduation, big birthday, someone racing in the World Triathlon Championships, etc. There are many hiking trails in Randolph and we designed a 3 mile loop starting right in their yard and named it the Team Skidmore 5k! We made race numbers, had an official registration, official time keepers-Jean & Laura, a course marshal- Mr. Ed Good, photographer-Felicia and an event director-Gina.

Last year at the start of Tami’s 50th 5k it snowed an inch over night and was 27º, this year it was a beautiful, cool, sunny morning- perfect for running. This is a fun run but when some of us slap on a number, it’s an all out race! We gathered at the start where Gina held the pre race meeting.
She explained the course, and announced there were prizes for the top three runners and walkers, I decided that I wouldn’t count. She told us there was a big bucket of goodies out on course and we had to come back wearing one or two of those items. Gina counted down and Jean blew the whistle and we were off- down the back of the yard and into the woods. Many of us had run or walked last year so we knew the course. I knew I had to push it right off because ¾ of a mile in there was a pretty steady hill. At the top of that hill Gina had made a life size Meg sitting on a bike for some encouragement, it came out great!

The course gradually climbed up the end of Randolph Hill Rd and as we turned into Carlton Notch Cutoff the big blue bucket was waiting, I grabbed a lei and a party hat and climbed the next hill. At the next trail junction we began the long 1.5 mile descent down the Jimtown logging road.  I very rarely look back when I’m racing and I didn’t until the next junction onto Icy Gulch and thats when I saw Eli. I was surprised, I know he runs but I’ve never raced with him, he was running a great pace. I stepped it up as we climbed the ½ mile (including a river crossing!) until we were back on the only flat section of Randolph Hill Road. I looked again as I made the turn and caught a glimpse of Eli again. There was about ¼ mile to the finish. I knew he wanted to catch me so I gave it all I had. I crossed the finish line in 24:59! I was super pumped with that time, Eli was just about a minute behind me and I cheered him in. I should have elevated my legs and stretched but I wanted to see the finishers so Eli and I went back out on the street. Felicia got some great finishing shots.

After the race Gina and Tami had an amazing breakfast buffet; eggs, sausage, 3 types of yogurt, granola, juice, coffee, bagels, an assortment of muffins, fresh fruit salad, Sue made banana and berry bread, and Laura brought more muffins- all this at no charge. The sun was still shining and the post race chatter had me feeling pretty good that we had all exercised and were outside in the mountains. Next up- awards! The prizes were all made in Randolph. The top three finishers had a choice between a handmade handbag by Laura Brockett; homemade jam from Susan or a ½ gallon of syrup tapped and bottled a few days prior by Gina’s neighbor. 

Most folks left after breakfast and the awards but the rest of us rallied for an intense game of old fashion kickball! Team 2 was winning 7-0 but Team 1 came back and tied it up. Some great catches were made, Eli off the apple tree, Troy the 7, almost 8 year old pitcher caught a line drive, after several tries to hit the runner, Ben finally nailed Gina, she was safe but bruised. After we all thought the game was over Gina had a proposition for Ben-if he could score one run all by himself his team would win the game. Of course he agreed! The pitch was slow and rolled right over the plate. With a running start he booted it!
It flew over the motor home and into the next yard-Ben was a hero! 

The rest of the day was filled with reading, more games, tons of food and friendship. We had a potluck dinner under the tent and then I had to head home to rest up for my first race in the Maine Time Trial Series, three hours away in Camden, Maine. Team Skidmore sold over 20 t-shirts about 50 raffle tickets and 24 participated in the 5k at $10 each. It was a great start to a summer of fundrasing for Team Skidmore
The alarm sounded at 4am, I awoke excited to race! Steve was arriving at my house at 5am for our long drive to the coast. I double-checked my bag to be sure I didn’t forget any race gear and we packed the car. Two bikes, four extra race wheels, two aero helmets, gear box, pump and snacks. Steve navigated and we talked about lots of stuff, mostly racing of course!

The race began at 9am and we arrived at 8:15. I had registered online and checked in. I discovered that the earlier you registered the closer to the front you start. Time trials are bike races with individual starts about 30 seconds apart. I was starting 6th, and wasn't excited at all, especially seeing the super nice bikes in the parking lot. I said to Steve "Oh man I’m going to get passed by so many guys!” “Get that out of your head right now, race your race and worry about passing those ahead of you.” He replied with a stern look on his face. Yeah... Ok I thought. We pinned each other’s numbers on and Steve shooed me out for my warm up. I thought we'd do that together but he had just registered and was starting 20 minutes after me. I knew what I had to do and couldn’t decide on wearing a jersey over my sleeveless tri suit or just go with arm warmers. I warmed up with a jersey and wasn’t that cold. I was starting at 2:30, 2 minutes and 30 seconds after 9. When I checked in I was told not to be late. I finished my warm up with just under 10 minutes to start. I still debated on wearing a jersey I felt a little funny because everyone else was wearing one. I was number 6, 6th to start. I lined up and checked my Power Tap computer, it was flashing. It wasn’t reading the computer in my hub. I’ve trained looking at numbers since August. I tried everything and was frantically looking for Steve to finish his warm up to help me. He wasn’t back yet. They started the first racer and I still had flashing dots. Earlier in the week I had broken the mount for my other computer and forgot to glue it back on. A few minutes to start and there was nothing I could do. I was so worried about it I didn’t even think to set my stopwatch to see my time. Racer ready…  3 2 1 go. I was off and 20 seconds in of course I see Steve just coming back in from his warmup. I had no data to go by so I had to refocus and race on just how I felt. We had driven in on the course so I knew what to expect. Steve had raced the course before so he gave me some pointers. It wasn’t a technical course, straight out and back but all rolling hills. I needed to make sure the transitions were super smooth. Riding into the hill, up the hill and cresting the hill shifting with precision and keeping my cadence near 100. When you don’t have the computer telling you it gets pretty tricky. I had one goal, not to get passed by too many others before the half way turn around. I passed two guys and two passed me so I felt pretty good! On the way back I was feeling solid, I still had more left so I pushed it a bit more. One more guy passed me and I couldn’t stay with him, but trying hard cut a few seconds off! I was almost done and I knew there was one more hill but I couldn’t remember how long it was or how far away I was from it. Looking back on it I should have blocked out the hill and just tried harder. I finished but I had no idea how long it took me; I turned around to spin for my cool down. I spun for about ten minutes and saw Steve; I waited for him and joined him for his cool down. We discussed our tactics and how we felt. Steve hasn’t been riding much but said he had a great race. We returned just in time for the awards. I mixed my recovery drink, shared my oatmeal raisin cookies with Steve and we joined the group anxiously waiting for results. The fastest time was 33:47 that’s just over 2 minutes per mile! They awarded the top three male and female and I was super surprised when they called my name for second female with a time of 43:26 just over 2 minutes behind the first place female and over three minute ahead of 3rd place. I was 23rd out of 44! Not too bad for my first TT. Steve raced in 40:42 placing 5th in his age group and 11th overall! It was a super day and made for a good ride home.

We packed the car and stretched a little more. Steve ate some fruit salad and his recovery drink while I called Gina, she was so proud of me! 

The sun was still shining and the air was warm. I was in a good place both physically and mentally!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Team Skidmore T-Shirts and a Late Workout

I spent an afternoon helping Nate at Corrigan Screen Printing and Awards make Team Skidmore t-shirts!! It was so cool to see how the logo makes it onto the shirt. Disclaimer: all details from here on out may be a little off, I didn't take notes! First the image is burned via UV light onto a screen that is held in place by a frame.

After 5-6 minutes depending on the size of the image the screen is removed from the light. Chemicals are then sprayed on it and the reaction with water helps leave a "negative" of the image on the screen. It's sprayed a few times to remove the rest, then it has to dry. This entire process can take up to 5 hours.

Next the screen is placed in a special holder and then lowered down on a small platform.

Every screen is tested before it goes into production in case there is a pin hole or an imperfection. The ink is like goop and never really dries, so if need be it can be left in the framed screen for a few days.

The ink is pressed onto the shirt with a giant squeegee using moderate hand pressure.

If there are multiple colors, individual screens need to be made and the shirt goes under each color separately. If it's white ink on a black shirt it needs to be screened twice so it stands out. After the image is hand pressed onto the shirt, the shirt goes on a conveyor belt through a heated dryer. Then the image on the front goes through the same process with a little more attention to alignment. Nate did 70 shirts front and back in under one hour! And he was distracted explaining the process to me, letting me try and being asked questions from his secretary about other orders and business.

Thanks for letting me help Nate!

I didn't get home until 6:30 and was frustrated since my workout was going to start late. But things happen and I just told myself to relax and roll with it. Workout for the day: 12.4 mile TT (time trial) with 15 min warm up with 3 x 3 PI's (power intervals) with 5 min recovery in between with a 15 min ride home as my warm down=total time 1:20. I had to eat enough that would get me through my workout but that meant my workout would start even later. I made a quick pb and nutella sandwich, took a gel, changed quick and headed out the door. I had to go all out for 12.4 miles after warming up with PI's (power intervals) 3 minutes super hard to get my body primed for the hard effort ahead. I did this same workout last week and completed the course in just over 35 mins. I didn't feel super great so totally wasn't feeling it. I went for it anyways and pushed through! Had to stop a few times for traffic but I beat last weeks time by a whole minute! Spun home and arrived at 8:15pm. In order to be fresh for my next work out the recovery process is vital and takes about 20 mins. I lay on the floor and put my legs straight up for 5 minutes, this helps reduce lactic acid build up. It's what makes your muscles sore the next day, well more specifically, the hydrogen ion in the lactic acid.  After my legs have almost gone tingly, I mix my recovery drink and start the stretching process which is also very important! After that I have to upload the data from my bike's Power Tap to a program on my computer. This is where my coach and I can analyze it. It also simultaneously uploads the data to my online training log-Training Peaks. After that I go in and log exactly the details of what I did and add how I felt during the workout. Because I'm using the free version of Training Peaks I cannot add future workouts. Steve emails me a seven day training schedule but I cannot pre load it in T.P., but if I were to buy the next level of TP I could do this and my post workout routine would be much quicker.

As a result of posting Team Skidmore t-shirts on Facebook my friends were all asking for them. I had to take some time to answer their questions. After chatting for a while, the clock read 9:30pm and I still had to make dinner. If I wasn't training I would just pour a bowl of cereal and hit the hay. That's not nearly enough for me so I needed to cook something healthy. I made hamburg with rice and stewed tomatoes. It was so good! Had a few Team Skidmore things to finish and climbed in bed at 10:45. Way to late considering I had to be up at 4:15 for an hour of swim training followed by a full day at work and a 1 hour road ride and a 30 minute run after work. It was a long day!