A Sub-30 Minute 5K 
Sunday, May 24, 2009, 11:28 PM
Posted by Administrator
After finishing the Dave's Run for ALS 5K in 30:00.4, I was determined to add some speed to my weekly workouts and run a sub-30-minute 5K. However, between my work schedule and my IT Band, I never made it to the track. Shocking, I know. I showed up for the Tucson 5000 feeling not very confident about a fast time, but feeling just fine with that. That's one of the advantages of being slow - no pressure.

We lined up on Country Club for the start of the square course around Reid Park and the race director announced that the race's only water stop had been stolen - water, cups, table and all. Who would steal an entire water stop?

When the gun went off, I tried to find a comfortably hard pace and chose people in front of me to stick with for motivation. I felt great on 22nd Street, but started tiring as we turned onto Randolph Way which has a slight incline - very slight, but I could feel it. I was not having much fun, but was on pace for the sub-30 and so kept pushing it. On the bright side, this part of the course was on a nice, shady path, which was very welcome considering the above average temperatures.

As we approached the turn onto Broadway, I was relieved to see that the race volunteers, not to be outdone by the somewhat unusual vandals, had made it to the store and back, and had set up a new aid station out of the back of a truck. I walked long enough to get some water in my mouth and over my head, and then picked it up again. Luckily, we were on a slight decline, but it still felt hard.

With about 1/2 mile to go, my heart rate was skyrocketing and I decided to walk for a minute to get it back to a sustainable pace. It wasn't long before a woman twice my age ran by me breathing like an asthmatic. This sight shamed me into running again - no matter how bad I felt, it was clear that I wasn't pushing it nearly as hard as she was.

I passed her and a few others and kept looking at my watch as I approached the finish. I crossed in 29:32 feeling pretty much like crap - yet pleased to have accomplished this goal. It took a few minutes to catch my breath and about half an hour for the light-headedness to go away. Did I mention it was hot? My time was good for 252 out of 337 total racers and 15 out of 28 in my age group.

Next up on the race calendar is the Firecracker Tri on July 5. (I've stuck faithfully to my twice-weekly swims for over a month now!) However, next up on the endurance event calendar is MDA Summer Camp from May 30 to June 6. Which is why my guest bedroom looks like this...


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A Quick Weekend Report 
Sunday, May 10, 2009, 10:15 PM
Posted by Administrator
Although I didn't engage in any traditional exercise on Saturday, I was on my feet from 7:00 a.m. until noon working at the MDA Stride & Ride. It apparently had some effect as my legs were pretty tight this morning. And there's no better way to loosen them up than going on a tandem ride!

Paul and I hit the road this morning around 7:15 a.m. while the temperature was still a lovely 73 degrees and our forward motion created a nice, cooling breeze. By the time we returned home, two and a half hours later, the temperature had risen 20 degrees. And while our motion did not offer quite the same cooling effect, it was still preferable to the oven-baked feeling we got when stopped at an intersection with the sun beating down on the asphalt.

Today was a banner day for wildlife sightings on the bike. We started off the ride with a bobcat and finished with a rattlesnake. Unfortunately, we forgot my camera and so the photos, taken (from a safe distance) with Paul's IPhone, are not the best quality.





Plans for tomorrow include a morning swim at L.A. Fitness and an evening 3-mile run with the Meet Me at Maynard's group. A great way to start the week!
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Back From the Blahs 
Sunday, May 3, 2009, 06:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
My recent posting hiatus is due primarily to the fact that MDA Summer Camp is looming on my horizon. The closer it gets, the more time I spend in the office, skimming through piles of barely legible camp applications, thinking up feasible arts and crafts projects and trying to find a good price for the forty 48" beach balls I need to buy for the wheelchair soccer tournament. I try to remind myself that, someday, I will have my evenings and weekends back. That day is June 17 and it will definitely involve a bottle of wine.

Take the long work hours, throw in an excess of physical activity (I, apparently, overdid it on Easter weekend) and you get a few weeks of "blah" workouts. Every bike ride felt hard; every run made my legs ache; my IT band flared up. Even a massage and new running shoes didn't give me the renewed energy for which I was hoping.

This situation called for drastic measures. That's right, I went swimming. For the first time in six months, I entered the water-walker-infested pool at L.A. Fitness with a goal of swimming 800 yards. Though forced to rest every 100 yards by a skyhigh heartrate, hyperventilation and noodle arms, I am proud to report that I met this goal. When it was all over, I felt good. And so I registered for the Firecracker Triathlon. I know that swimming helps keep me injury-free, but I also know that I need motivation to do it regularly. The possibility of embarrassing myself at a triathlon is fantastic motivation.

This morning, Paul and I participated in the Cinco de Mayo 10K. Taking into account my general lethargy of the past few weeks, I decided to take this one nice and easy. Now, I've said this before only to get caught up in the race excitement, run all out, and then take a week to recover. To avoid repeating this mistake, I knew I needed some insurance. The plan? Find someone else looking to slum it and chat it up with them for 6.2 miles. Luckily, shortly after the starting gun, I heard someone call out my name and was pleased to find it was Jackie, fellow Tri Girl, work associate and, now, perfect running partner.

Cinco is a decent-sized race for Tucson, drawing about 600 people to its scenic, if hilly, course. The out-and-back route gave me the opportunity to cheer for Paul, friends, and all of the other Tri Girls racing. We had a good showing of purple at this event with Beatriz, Eve, Robin, Sheryl, April, Anne and more.

I'm happy to report that, together, Jackie and I reached our individual goals. We crossed the finish line at about 1:09:53, sneaking under her 1:10 time goal. And I had a nice, easy, painless, enjoyable run. Around mile 5, I suddenly realized that I felt good. No aches, no fatigue, no overwhelming desire to halt forward motion. Mission accomplished.

Post-race festivities featured breakfast burritos, mariachis and a hilarious kids race involving 25 sombrero-wearing tots running their hearts out and then beating the hell out of a pinata. Happy Cinco de Mayo!
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Going Downtown 
Sunday, April 19, 2009, 08:39 PM
Posted by Administrator
Paul and I often lament the fact that Tucson lacks a downtown. Sure, there is that area referred to as "downtown," complete with city hall and a few tall buildings, but it does not offer much to entice Tucsonans to venture down there on a weekend afternoon. And so no one was more surprised than we to find ourselves in downtown Tucson twice this week, with plans to go a third time tomorrow. Maybe there is something to this Rio Nuevo thing...

It all started on Thursday evening with the opening night of Cinema la Placita, a series of (usually) classic movies shown outdoors at La Placita Village. In the spirit of Bike to Work Week, the 2009 series kicked off with Veer, an enlightening documentary about Portland's cycling scene, which includes a crazy activity called "zoo bombing," involving adults riding kid-sized bikes down steep hills at insane speeds.

I encourage all you Tucsonans to head downtown and check out Cinema la Placita this season. They provide popcorn, chairs, the flick and a unique setting in which to watch it. You bring the family, a few bucks for a donation and, if you'd like, a picnic dinner. It's a fun and inexpensive way to spend a Thursday evening.

Unfortunately, Saturday was primarily a working day for me. I manned the beer garden at the MDA Harley Ride, selling drink tickets and trying not to appear too horrified by the sad spectacle of the bikini contest.

But, Sunday brought us downtown again for the inaugural Urban Assault Ride. A team bike ride scavenger hunt with checkpoints and obstacles - what could be more fun? Paul, however, did not share my enthusiasm for a cycling event that might involve Big Wheels, Bike Jousting and Inflatable Slides, and so there was no Team Vyriotes at this event.

I suggested that we bike downtown today just to check it out and, upon arriving, immediately regretted not twisting Paul's arm a little harder to enter as a team. We chatted with some friends and took in the spectacle of 300 participants talking strategy with their teammates while waiting for the starting gun. Pictured below is Tri Girl (and sometimes pirate), Elaine, with hubby, Zac.



The photo does not do justice to the hilarious stampede of helmet-wearing, costume-clad cyclists running for their bikes. While many duos sported matching outfits, some went above-and-beyond with wigs, capes, argyle socks and more.





One of my favorites was the Pink Taco team.



After the start, we grabbed a late breakfast at the Cup Cafe and then meandered home, hitting a few of the checkpoints along the way to watch people ride while balancing water on their heads, do a beer bottle ring toss and participate in a 3-legged race involving Frisbees and tennis balls. Next year, we're in!

Lo and behold, yet another sports-related event will be held downtown tomorrow evening. In an effort to support the revitalization of downtown, the Southern Arizona Roadrunners are holding social runs every Monday evening at Maynard's. Rumor has it that last week's event, the inaugural run, brought out 200 people. In an effort to be the change we wish to see in the world, Paul and I plan to rush home from work, throw on our running gear and join the crowd.
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Catalina State Park Race Report 
Sunday, April 12, 2009, 10:51 PM
Posted by Administrator
When Denise arrived at my house at 6:00am to carpool to the Catalina State Park Race, the skies were overcast and the temperature was a raw 50 degrees. The race did not begin until 7:30, but, being averse to the cold and having seen the rainy forecast, our top priority was securing a parking spot at the race site, thereby guaranteeing shelter from the elements, as well as a place to store dry clothing for after the race. As it turns out, we would have been safe to sleep for another 30 minutes or so, but we had plenty of time to chat in the warm car while watching unhappy-looking people emerge from the race shuttle buses and stand around in the cold.

I briefly ventured out into the drizzle to listen to the blame-game among running buddies ("I can't believe you made me do this") while awaiting my turn for the porta-potty. I also caught up with some fellow Tri Girls, some (Shari, Jess and Jennifer) who had braved the damp cold that morning, not to race themselves, but just to cheer the rest of us on. Thanks ladies!

Racers had the option of running the course one time for the 5.5-mile event or twice (minus the first 1/4-mile) for the 10.75-mile event. As I have been struggling with my IT band, I opted for the short course and, come race day, was pleased with this decision. Who knew when the skies were going to open up and let 'er loose? I did not want to be in the middle of a wash when it happened.



But, thankfully, the rain stopped and, while the 10.75-mile runners were getting started, I reluctantly stripped off some layers and did a light jog to wake up my muscles. Then, I wove my way through the starting crowd to find a spot in the middle where I ran into a bunch of old friends from Better Then Ever.



When the gun sounded, we had 1/4-mile of road to jockey for position before the course entered a narrow trail. This is an IPod-legal race and, while I often listen to music on training runs, it's just not appropriate in this environment. All races involve lots of passing, yet much of this trail was just wide enough for two people abreast. Some IPod-wearers jogged obliviously along, smack in the middle of the trail, completely unaware of the traffic jam behind them, forcing people to run through the shiggy to get around them. Let's practice common sense and common courtesy folks, huh? If you feel the need to completely zone out to your tunes while running, then stick to the treadmill - a crowded race course is not the place for you.

This course is unusual with two different loops and two different out-and-backs (double that for the 10.75-mile folks and you could get a little dizzy), but it's really the only way to have a race at Catalina without some serious elevation gain. Personally, I don't mind all of the back and forth, as I got to cheer for friends multiple times during the race. As far as trail runs go, this one is fairly flat, with a few steep, (but short) ups and downs. Paul and I run here frequently and so I'm familiar with the terrain and knew exactly what to expect. This knowledge did not make the final 1.5 miles on the sandy bridle trail any easier, although the silver lining of the rain was that it did pack down the sand slightly.

Last year, I completed this race in 1:04:29 and placed 178th out of 305 runners. This year, I was astounded to shave off almost six minutes with a time of 58:52. I finished in 159th place out of 325 runners, which means I just barely squeaked into the top half of finishers, which, sadly, is exciting for me.

So where did those 6 minutes come from? Partly, I credit the training I have done for my recent endurance races, as well as my hilly, quad-building bike rides. But, I also credit a new-found tolerance for discomfort. In the past, I would often run 99% of the race at a comfortable pace and then, when the finish was in sight, kick it into high gear for a final sprint across the line. But, at this race, when it was time for high gear, I found I was completely out of gas. My legs were spent. I may not have looked very good crossing the line, but I felt great knowing that I had pushed the whole way and had truly left it all out on the course.

After chowing down on eggs, tortillas and smoothies, Denise and I spent some more quality time in the car while waiting for the award ceremony. When they announced that it would begin in a few minutes, we ventured out and chatted with friends until we finally got too cold and left. I'm not sure if the ceremony ever actually happened - apparently there were some issues with the timing, which may have had something to do with participants in the longer race opting to do the shorter race instead.

Overall, it was a well-run event with a festive atmosphere. They even had a raffle whereby one lucky participant won a limo ride to and from the race. On a cold, rainy day, that was a stellar prize! On the downside, albeit in a effort to provide exceptional service, they ordered "womens fit" t-shirts for the female runners. However, these t-shirts were apparently made for a breed of women lacking breasts. While I normally order a small or x-small, I ended up with a medium, for which I am still too busty. And I'm not too busty for anything.

After arriving home and warming my chilled bones in the hot tub, Paul and I hit the gym for a full-body strength workout. In hindsight, this was overly-ambitious considering our plans for a 65-mile Easter bike ride the next morning.

We survived the ride, a reverse version of the Tour of the Tucson Mountains course, although it was not my most enjoyable day on the bike. My quads burned the entire time and I definitely lost steam toward the end. On the bright side, I'm perfecting the art of taking pictures while moving at full-speed.



About 7 miles from home, I got a boost when we stopped at Govinda's to refuel at their vegetarian Easter brunch buffet. If you've never been, you've got to check it out - unless you can't imagine a meal without meat, in which case you'd be sorely disappointed.



Now, I am exhausted and I think I have earned a rest day for tomorrow.
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