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race report: iron girl (finally!)

A long, long time ago — August 23rd — I completed my second sprint triathlon – Iron Girl in Columbia, MD. And just like last year, I had a really great time. Let’s see what I remember …

We arrived in the dark, set up our transition area, and went to the swim start where we waited for our waves. The start was delayed 15 minutes, which made it even longer. At least it gave me a chance to hit the port-o-pots one more time before getting in the water!
iron girl
When we were getting close, I joined my fellow pearl-yellow capped 30-34-year-olds in the lake. Rather than waste energy treading water, I conveniently found a rock to stand on. The actual ground was kind of icky. The girl I was chatting with, standing in the squishy grasses, was jealous.

Once they started counting down, I swam closer to the group, and thought I seeded myself well. I seemed to have room to swim right at the start, but then we all bunched up again. Not as stressful as the trial, but it still took me a little while to get comfortable.

When I did relax, though, I felt really good. I felt like I was actually paying attention to my stroke, trying to remember what I should be doing. I took my time and kept a steady pace. Sure, some of the faster swimmers from the next wave passed me. But I also passed slow swimmers that started ahead of me.

A friend was at the swim finish and snapped that shot. I’m glad — the race photographers didn’t get any of me alone!

Once out of the water, I took my time walking to my transition spot, and got ready to bike! No missing-helmet problems like last year, I found a spot to hang it. Everything was ready where I left it!

I have a road bike now, and it made a big difference. Sure, the course was just as hard and hilly as I remembered, but I cut nearly 10 minutes off my bike time. (I think. More on that later.) While it’s a hard course, I felt strong.

After racking my bike, trading helmet for visor, and dashing out of the transition area, I was feeling great. I just remember thinking how awesome it was to be able to do this — to drop off my bike and just start running!

I really didn’t do enough bike/run brick workouts, though. Ouch. I didn’t have much speed left, and I walked some of the uphills. But I still managed to finish the run about 30 seconds faster than last year (I think), so I’m OK with it!

So now we get to the results. Which I don’t really know.

My chip apparently didn’t work for any of my splits. I only have a finish time!

This is a pretty big disaster to a girl so obsessed with her stats that she runs with both a Garmin and Nike+.

I’ve been able to piece things together for the most part, but it’s not the same. I can’t see my standings! I don’t know my transition times! (Not like I practiced transitioning, but still …)

I used my Garmin for the bike and run portions, so I roughly know those times Once the pictures came out, I was able to figure out my swim time by looking at my age group’s results and figuring out who finished before and after me. My swim time should be between 30:42 and 30:45.

While that’s a little slower than my 29:57 last year, it’s not too far off. And there’s been some talk on the race message board where quite a few women felt like the course was longer this year. If so, that could mean I actually did better!

I know my bike time is a little off, because I started my watch when I got on the bike, not when I crossed the mat. But it should only be a few seconds. I clocked 1:14:43, average 14.1 mph. A big difference from last year’s 1:24:16 (12.5mph). I was very happy with this. The bike makes all the difference.

My Garmin run time should be pretty close; I clocked 34:16 – a little over 10-minute miles. But with all the walking I was doing, that’s pretty good. I was happy being able to beat last year’s 34:44, even if I was faster at the trial. I hadn’t biked that day!

Overall (the only official time I have), my time is 2:28:15. Last year? 2:38:58. Woo-hoo!

Registration for next year opens on Nov. 3. I’ve marked my calendar!

weekly winners: back to the beach


August 30 – September 5, 2009

Time for our annual end-of-summer trip to Virginia Beach! The primary reason is for me to run the Rock and Roll half marathon, but we also enjoy the American Music Festival that coincides with the race. Yup, I’ll be posting more music later. I have some shows to catch up with from last week, too. And I’m still working on a couple race reports … including this morning’s race — not my best, but not bad either, and I had a lot of fun!

Anyway, here are my Weekly Winners:

bay bridge
On our way
(the blue is from the car window)
(I wasn’t driving)

lily pads
Lily Pads, at the VA Beach convention center

waiting birds
Eager birds
(The people next to us were feeding them. Ugh.)

birds eating

Those people stopped shortly after this photo. But then some little boys stood right next to me and started throwing food at them. And we went back to the hotel.

stage lights
Lights at a concert. Kinda blurry, but I still like it.

neptune

Neptune, a 34-foot tall statue on the boardwalk in Virginia Beach.

neptune

neptune's turtle

Rewind to the beginning of the week, still at home. We spent our Sunday at the Virgin Free Fest. There were skydivers!

parachuters

parachuter

And finally, not nearly as cool as Neptune, but I kinda liked this creepy naked lady statue at Merriweather Post.

statue at dusk

statue at night

That’s all for now. Visit more Weekly Winners at SarcasticMom.com!

wrightsock challenge – final

By now, I’ve tried all of the socks graciously provided by WRIGHTSOCK and the Runners’ Lounge.

The last two:

I took the Running II pair out on a 10-mile run a couple weeks ago. It was warm, humid, and hilly so I really put them to the test. I was still recovering from the 10 miles I did while at the beach, but those trouble spots weren’t too bad considering the conditions. My feet were comfortable and I barely noticed my socks.

I tried the final pair for the first time a few days before the triathlon. I was mainly going for a bike ride, but knew I wanted a short run as well, so I put on the SLX. These felt great! But I only ran for a mile.

I tried them out again this weekend on a 9-mile run. It wasn’t too warm out, but really humid. I was quite pleased with the socks. Despite the sticky conditions, my feet were feeling good. By the end, I had trouble again with the callous-blisters that have been bothering me for a couple weeks, but I can’t really blame the socks for that.

Overall, I’ve really liked all of these socks!

My favorites are the Coolmesh, which will be coming to Virginia Beach with me for my next half marathon on Sunday. The SLX, SLR and Running II are quite comfortable as well. I especially like fit of the SLX — no annoying toe seams!

The thin SLT, which I thought I would like the best, come in behind the others. I found I preferred the slightly thicker socks, and got a better fit around the toes with the others.

That leaves the DLX as the loser. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t like them! It was just too hot for thick socks. I’ll be happy to break those out again in a couple months!

Thanks again to the Runners’ Lounge and WRIGHTSOCK for inviting me to this challenge. While it is technically over, I’m going to continue to test them against my old socks as the weather changes. I may have to start investing more in my socks!

weekly winners: tippy the turtle


August 23-29, 2009

A few years ago, the yard clean-up guy told me we had a turtle living in our yard. I looked around the deck where he saw him, but couldn’t find the turtle. I’m always on the look-out when doing yard work, but he must have a pretty good hiding spot.

I guess he was finally ready to introduce himself. A couple days ago, look who we saw hanging out in the middle of our back yard!

Tippy the Turtle

Visit more Weekly Winners at SarcasticMom.com!

weekly winners: tri week


August 16-22, 2009

Oh, look. I haven’t blogged since my last ‘Weekly Winners‘ post. I blame the combination of vacation recovery and triathlon cramming.

Yes, cramming.

Sure I’ve been training all summer, but it just seems I haven’t gotten as many swims in lately as I’d like due to a closed pool (weather-related or otherwise). And my bike rides haven’t been long enough and/or hilly enough.

Thunderstorms held off mid-week so I could squeeze in a really good swim on Thursday, and a somewhat short but tough bike ride on Wednesday followed by a one-mile run. I did not do enough bike-run brick workouts this summer!

Anyway, the triathlon was this morning and I expect I’ll be writing about it later this week. For a quick recap, it was a beautiful day, I had a great time, and finished nearly 11 minutes faster than last year. (I bought a new bike that accounts for most of the difference.)

More later. I should really be napping right now. My alarm rang this morning at 3:45 a.m.!

So … photos. Well, I also wasn’t taking too many of those this week. And it was raining when we racked our bikes yesterday so I didn’t even get any fun shots there. Oh well. This is all I’ve got!

stormy night

stormy night

A big storm came through one night, and the windows on our sliding door were fogged up from the rain and humidity. The flood lights of the apartments behind our house made some cool shadows.

jeter

Jeter cat did not pose long for me so I had to move quick. Not one of my greatest portraits, but I wanted to add a little variety to my photos for the week!

Visit more Weekly Winners at SarcasticMom.com!

weekly winners: outer banks


August 9-15, 2009

We spent all of last week in the Outer Banks. Many of my photos look a lot like last week’s post, since we arrived on Saturday. The sunsets were so beautiful, and different every day. I couldn’t help myself!

We had a great week at the beach. Reading, relaxing and dining on great food. The house was perfect; gotta love the location!

early morning view

a few of our neighbors

morning sun

fun on the sound

painted sky

pink and purple sky

end of a beautiful day

peaking through the clouds

it was a dark and stormy night

It’s always sad when our week comes to an end … back to work tomorrow!

Visit more Weekly Winners at SarcasticMom.com!

wrightsock challenge – three and four

Wednesday was not a good-weather day here at the beach. When I woke up to gray skies, I stayed in bed a little longer. And when I finally did arise, it hadn’t improved.

Clouds, light rain, and grumbles of thunder continued throughout the day. We would occasionally see flashes of lightning across the sound. I settled onto the couch with a book, and waited for the storm to pass. I wanted a short run that day, and don’t mind the rain. It’s the thunder storms that concern me!

Well, the storm seemed to be stalled. The sky would get brighter and I’d get hopeful, and then a crack of thunder would shake the house. Back to the book.

I did start, and finish, an entire book that day. And I even did get my run in by the late afternoon! Finally, the thunder stopped.

I wasn’t planning on going too far, about three miles, so I chose the WRIGHTSOCK Cushioned DLX.

The WRIGHTSOCK Challenge

They’re much thicker than what I usually wear this time of year, so I was concerned about them being too warm. Like all the others, they felt good when I put them on. Less bulky than I expected. I think I’m going to like these in the fall and winter.

With the so-called storm, the weather cooled to 75 degrees that day, but with 89% humidity, it still felt pretty warm out there. And the socks were kind of hot as expected. I can’t really evaluate them otherwise since my feet were still recovering from Monday’s 10-miler. No new problems, just re-irritating the old ones!

Today was a bit cloudy, but nothing that would stop us from sitting outside on the deck. (We just didn’t want to drag all our stuff out to the beach, just in case). A little after lunchtime, it started to sprinkle a little bit, and then a light rain started. No thunder — perfect! I got changed for another short run.

This time, I picked the SLR.

The WRIGHTSOCK Challenge

It was 80 degrees and 74% humidity according to weather.com, but since they didn’t realize it was raining I’m guessing it was a bit more humid. Yuck!

The rain would have been refreshing, had it lasted. It stopped completely within my first half mile, and only sprinkled lightly for the rest of my four-mile run. It was a tough one today. I was really hot. My feet were really hot, too.

I’m pretty sure they would be at least a little hot in any socks, but it is possible that the cushioning may have made them a little warmer than a thinner sock. Otherwise, they were comfortable, and my problem areas felt fine. Much better than Wednesday, actually.

I can say with certainty this is the most I’ve ever run while on vacation. I biked 12 miles yesterday, too. And kayaked a mile. (Uh, yeah, I wore my Garmin kayaking.)

It’s been a great trip. I’m sad to head home tomorrow!

wrightsock challenge test two – slt

This morning I actually set an alarm — while on vacation — to get up and run. It was going to be a hot one, and I really wanted to get a 10-miler in.

I hit the road a little after 7 a.m., and chose the WRIGHTSOCK SLT since they are the lightest and most similar to the socks I usually use. It was 80 degrees / 84% humidity when I started my run.

The WRIGHTSOCK Challenge

Much like the first pair I tested, the fit was perfect and the fabric felt better than my usual cheap socks. During the first few miles of my run, I kept forgetting to pay attention to my socks so I could review them, so I guess that’s a good thing.

The happy feelings didn’t last, unfortunately. My already-calloused right toe rubbed a couple of small blisters by the end, and I was feeling a hot spot on my left heel.

I can’t really blame the socks, though. I was asking a bit much of them.

I’m positive that the heel hot-spot is related to my orthotics. I’ve temporarily switched back to my older pair, since I’m having new ones made based on the others. I used to get blisters on that heel, and never linked it to my old inserts. Until now. I actually noticed the difference in the heel as soon as I laced up. Despite the irritation, I didn’t get a blister there.

The callouses were already pretty bad, so it’s not surprising that they rubbed after 10 miles. (Note to self: buy a Ped Egg.) Also, I was using old inserts. Hopefully my new ones arrive before the sock challenge is over so I can compare.

These new socks were still pretty good, though. Even with the blisters, my toe is less-sore than it was the last time I used my cheap socks. So that’s something.

I guess I should have tested one of the double-layer anti-blister socks today, but they’re a bit thick and I was worried about the heat. I’ll save those for the shorter runs!

weekly winners: my happy place


August 2-8, 2009

saturday sunset

saturday sunset

saturday sunset

saturday sunset

birds

Visit more Weekly Winners at SarcasticMom.com!

the wrightsock challenge

I’ve tried a lot of running socks, and I have a few favorites. But I usually stick to C9 from Target low-cut socks. They’re cheap, and I actually like them better than some of my pricier socks. They’re really thin and light, and are pretty much all I use in the summer.

In fact, I had a pair on when I arrived home from work today. I was dressed for my run already, and had a few minutes to stop in to grab some water … and change my socks!

Because look what arrived today:

The WRIGHTSOCK Challenge

Thanks to the generous folks at WRIGHTSOCK and the Runners’ Lounge, I’ve been offered the chance to challenge my old running socks.

For the rest of the month, I’m kicking my old socks to the curb and putting WRIGHTSOCKs to the test.

I chose the double-layer Coolmesh® socks for my first run:

The WRIGHTSOCK Challenge

My first impression was very positive. They are light and soft, and felt a lot better than my Target socks.

The double-layers are supposed to prevent blisters by reducing friction. I’ve (knock on wood) had pretty good luck with blisters lately, though I have been having some trouble with callouses.

I’m an over-pronator, and I seem to have worn through my old orthotics. That was one of the problems they corrected. After my last few runs, I’ve been pretty sore in two places on the inside of my right toe.

Well, I wasn’t expecting any relief until I got new orthotics … but my toe feels fine tonight. I ran the same distance on Tuesday, and actually my run had more hills tonight.

Now, on Tuesday I might have been recovering from a trail race on Sunday that was particularly hard on the feet … but I want to believe that these socks have solved the problem!

Another nice thing is the sizing. I’m a size 6, which usually falls in the smaller end of the size range. I have quite a few pairs of socks where the heel hits halfway up my ankle.

The WRIGHTSOCK “small” range is size 4-6, and they were perfect.

Well, that’s surely the most I’ve ever written about (or thought about) socks. And I soon will have entire series of posts about them. I never saw that coming!

I’m looking forward to the rest of this challenge. So far, I’m impressed!

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