Sunday, June 4, 2017

RACE REPORT: Noda 5K

TRAINING WEEK:

Shorter week, due to the Memorial Day long weekend.

Tuesday, May 30:
6.0 in 48:23, 8:04 ave.  This was a recovery run for me.  My right side was sore and tight from volunteering on Sunday.  One of our tasks during Course Build was to move sandbags (one of the obstacles) to the designated part of the course.  We did two trips of 3x20lbs, about 0.3 mi per trip.  I was bucket brigading it, shouldering it, deathgripping it to make it.  Anyway, I needed this run to help reset my body's imbalances.  At first, I figured that I'd do maybe 4 miles, but I got to 6 ok.  I could've pushed farther, but I didn't want to overdo it for Noda.

Wednesday, May 31:
For an A-race like a marathon, I do strength sessions no closer than 10 days to the race.  I decided to do one on the Wednesday before a Saturday race, though, because I needed to keep up on Green Beret 24 hr Challenge training.  Furthermore, when I had looked up last year's Noda 5K results, it looked liked my typical times may only get me 3rd in Age Group, at best.  They had stiff competition attending.

I did more Deez Nutz WOD exercises.  I thought that I'd be getting stronger, but I kind of stay at the same level.
  • Situps (in 1 min, hands behind head): 31, 34, 32, 36, 36... target is 40.
  • Lunges: 135
  • Flutter Kicks (4-count): 60 + 45 + 45
  • Plank: 2.5 + 2
  • Push-ups (in 1 min): 30, 25... target is 40
  • Squats: 130
  • J-jacks (4-count): 100
  • Assorted dumbbell exercises (10lb)
On Friday, my hammies and some of my glutes were really sore.  I'm surprised.   I thought my body would be used to the squats.

THE RACE:

This was my first Noda 5K, although I had been to this facility before, to pick up last year's prize from the USNWC Brew Stash Dash.  I was looking forward to a good beer run.  It was hot, fully sunny and 86 degrees.  Parking was limited, so I came early, although it meant finding ways of dealing with the heat while waiting.  I was inside for a while, and iced off, which helped for a while, but during the warm-up time, I feel like I went back to being really warm.

I started pretty close to the front, along with one other girl who had been doing a long warm-up earlier (I did just my typical 2-min jog, then dynamic stretching).  I was determined to pace smartly this time, vs. how I did at Rugged Maniac, where I faded after 1.5 mi.  It was already hot and uncomforatble, even just sitting around.  It would be downright painful to bonk during an over-exerted 5K.  We went out... nobody went to crazy, which is good.  We were respecting the heat.  I was surprised to be in 2nd for the women early on.  I wasn't going overly fast.  Not too long after, another woman caught up and passed, so I was in third.  Mile 1 came in 7:02, reasonable.

We went through residential areas.  It was nice to see some great views of downtown.  My feelings on living in downtown vs. outlying areas is that the outlying areas give you the awesome views of downtown... seeing the beautiful forest, vs. being amidst the trees.  So I thought that the place where the race was held was awesome, because of that.  There were a couple of stretches of road that offered the great view.  There were some trees every now and then, which offered much-needed shade.  Wished there was more, but you appreciate any shade you can get.  Volunteers were great.  There were water stops at 1.5 and 2.5.  Mile 2 ticked off at 6:53.  There were some rolling hills, so I didn't take it as necessarily going faster.

I debated whether to slow down a tiny bit to get water at 2.5.  2nd place was still in view.  It was better to get the extra cooling and mental help of the water, to have enough for the final push, though.  I kept the effort pedal on.  I was very, very slowly reeling in 2nd.  It wasn't until the final 0.3 miles that I started really gaining, though.  Mile 3 went down in 6:37.  I had truly been speeding up.  It wasn't enough, though, and I finished 7s behind her.  She had paced well in the heat, and she was 10 years older than I was, so her 2nd place finish was well-deserved.

21:46 in 7:01.  About a minute slower than my usual time, but given the heat, I'm happy with it.  I was glad that I had paced it well, and finished feeling less pain than usual.  I did wonder if I could've started kicking earlier, to make up the 7s, but at least I got 3rd.


The swag at this race is maybe the best I've seen for a 5K, especially a 5K that was only $30-ish for registration.  They offered ladies and mens tanks or tees, which are choices you don't normally get.  They looked cool.  Plus, there were awesome medals... my first beer-related medal.  You got a beer.  There was also a sponsor offering free printed pics.


One thing that I was really excited about was that my race number was none other than.... 360!


After the race, Noda had live music, and their outdoor beer garden has boccee, disc golf, and corn hole.  A fun place to hang out.  Everyone was having a great time.

 



Geowoodstock XV, Tour de Fat, Memorial day, Spartan Kids

First, non-Geowoodstock stuff...

Sunday, May 21:
After qualifying for OCR World Championships the previous day (being able to say that will never get old, haha), it was time to start long-term prepping for the October race, and it was time to get serious about the impending Green Beret 24 hour Challenge : Behind Enemy Lines (GBC BEL) that I was going to do in late June.  After taking into account 10 weeks of strength taper, I'd only have a few weeks of training time available.

I did a 40-min body weight strength session, continuing with some of the Deez Nutz WOD exercises.  I did the GBC-relevant exercises in the style of the selection test that they'd be giving, to assess how I'd fare.
  • Sit-ups: 38 in a minute and 70 in 2 minutes but with hands on shoulders instead of head, 40/min with hands behind head, 38/min, 38/min.  The target is 40, hands behind head.
  • Push-ups: 35/min starting really fast then really fading, 27/min, 25/min, 22/min.
  • Flutter Kicks (4-count): 40 + 40 + 35 + 35
  • Plank: 2.5 + 2.5 + 2
  • Squats: 90, with legs not 100% integrity.  100 more with 7lb kettle bell raises in alternating arms. 
  • J-jacks (4-count): 100
  • Assorted dumbell arm exercises
 Monday, May 22:
10 mi in 1:23:15, 8:20 average.  I discovered today that the treadmills at work's gym has a function that lets you change the default 60 min workout timer to up to 120 minutes.  Yay, I'm no longer constrained!  Of course I could've done 2x 60 min sessions, but after stopping, it's hard to get my legs feeling ok starting again.  I celebrated this discovery with the 10 miler.  I was feeling awesome afterwards, and felt like I could handle a long-ish run like this multiple times per week.... not really true, but it felt like it at the time.  It was a little less than 2 weeks out from the Noda 5K, so this was a good time to get in a last long-ish run.

Wednesday, May 24:
Biking session at the gym, covering 13.6 mi in 60 min, after an 11 hr workday.  Celebrated getting a long-awaited task done at last.  Going to the gym has become a post-work treat that I look forward to.  I did some burpees afterwards.  I think it's the first time I've done them since finishing the 10,000 burpee challenge.  I threw in extra pushups in the last 10 reps, about 15 extra total.  Also did a bit of pull-ups, since I'll need that for GBC.  Did 20 and 10 more push-ups after that, too.

My dad was visiting for the long Memorial day weekend.  On Friday, we went to a local park - Latta Plantation.  We hiked the Cattail Trail (0.8 mi), half of the Audobon Trail (~1.2 mi), an unnamed horse trail (1 mi), and parts of the Treasure Tree, Catawba, and Shady Trails (2 mi).  It was by the water and pretty.  Some mosquitos.  Got a geocache while I was there.  I rucked it, to prep for GBC.  I used to go to the gym in my neighborhood and would ruck the 1 / 1.4 / 1.8 mi that it takes to get there and back (with optional side trips for a Pokestop).  I've been going to the gym at work these days, though, so I haven't rucked as much.  I need to start getting my body used to it again.




Saturday was Geowoodstock day in Waynesville, NC, near Asheville.  We wanted to make the most of our day there, but I had also won tickets to Tour de Fat sponsored by New Belgium, back in Charlotte.  So... we left Charlotte at 4am, to go hiking at Purchase Knob Trail, a part of Great Smokey Mountains National Park, before the start of Geowoodstock.  It's a service road up to an education/training center.  It was pretty in its own way, despite being a service road, with a bit of water features, some wildflowers, and nice views from the top.


Once we got back to the car, time for Geowoodstock!  Last year, my dad and I had flown all the way to Denver for my first Geowoodstock (GW14).  At the end of last year's event, they announced that the following year's GW would be within driving distance of me!  Denver's event had been awesome.  Fantastic planning, side-events, and SWAG.  I was curious how this would stack up.

We got there just 15 minutes after opening, perfect.  We registered, found Signal the frog, and signed the log for the event, a VW Beetle.





In the morning, they had the annual picture... so many ardent geocachers!  People traveled here from all over the US, and some even from other countries.  A bunch of crazies together ;)  Over 2K people attended.  Not everyone is even pictured here, since some come later in the day, or were still at the main event area at the time.


We visited vendors, where I got 3 National Park-related geocoins.  There was an exhibit where someone showed off some of their gadget cache designs.  There weren't any geocaches on site like they had last year, but they did had lab caches, which are temporary caches where you get a code word to plug into a website to get credit for a geocache.  They were all gadgety, which was cool.  The funny thing about geocaches at mega events is that there are always lines of people behind the cache, so there's no real "finding" required... so the gadget element gives you a good incentive to stay in line to be able to try it for yourself, even if some of the element of surprise is missing.  It's a good strategy.



I saw the Geocaching Vlogger there, filming for a youtube video:


He does great videos, is really enthusiastic, and spreads the word about geocaching.




We also traded trackables.  You get to pick up as many as you drop off, so thankfully, I still had the Casino chip trackable that I had found in Charleston, SC.  I traded it for a mini cookbook from Hungary!


They had trackables that were put on display for discovery.  They're typically gigantic ones that can really only be traded at events, and not placed in geocaches.





There were also a couple of Geocaching-related games... one where you try to ID mystery containers by sticking your hand in a box, and another where you sort through a bunch of film canisters to look for one that contains a log sheet, rather than a fake sheet.



Our time there ended with lunch, since we wanted to get back to Charlotte.  They had BBQ, which is my favorite.  Fun times at GW15!


Onwards to Charlotte... I did grab a true geocache at a park-and-ride on our way back.


Tour de Fat probably didn't have as many people attend as they had hoped, but it was great.  They had jumbo games, circus acts, live music, and a funny and engaging singer + comedian + host guy that goes by the name of Fire Leopard or Snake.






Sunday, I volunteered for Spartan Race for their kids event at the Jimmie Johnson Fit Fest.  I worked with a crew to build some obstacles and mark the course.  I'm always proud to be able to build anything, since I'm not good at that kind of thing.



That night, the Whitewater Center hosted a memorial day celebration.  They had music and competitions all day, but we didn't make it out there until 8pm.  We did get to watch some music from afar, we people watched, enjoyed the scenery with the water and all of the activities in the area, and then came a nice fireworks show.






The next day, my dad came to volunteer, too.  We directed parking, and then came back to help on the course a little bit.



Those obstacles were no joke, and it was adorable to see little kids, future Spartans, take them on with less fear than their many of their adult counterparts.  

Monday, May 29, 2017

RACE REPORT: RUGGED MANIAC NC SPRING 2017

TRAINING (MORE LIKE "RESTING") THAT WEEK:

Monday, I rested, to recover from Savage in time for Rugged.  Tuesday, I slept 10 hours, but even that wasn't enough.  Another rest day Wednesday. 

Thursday, May 18:
This was a recovery and body reset run.  Joints were a bit achey and stiff, but it was ok.  Arms felt normal again.  4.0 in 33:20, 8:20 average.  Held back, since it was close to Rugged.  I'm tempted to push the pace when there are others at the gym, but I wasn't really tempted this day, which is good. 

PRE-RACE:

Drove out to the Rockingham speedway - my first time in that part of NC.  Lots of small, quiet roads on the way there.  My start time wasn't until 9:45, so I didn't have to get up insanely early, like I have to do for some other races, especially the ones that are farther away (like 3 or 4am sometimes). 

I got there with plenty of time to get ready.  Check-in, porta potties, parking, and bag check were all very smooth.  I prepped in the tent with lots of tables and chairs, which was convenient.  There was another girl there who looked like she meant business, and I think she might've ended up finishing second.  This was going to be an A-ish race, to try to qualify for OCRWC.  It's 5K, so I was going to do my typical 5K warm-up.  I forgot that it starts at 9:45, rather than 10, though, so when they announced the loading of the elite wave's starting line, I rushed to the start.  I was tying my shoes right before the race, tightening it like I do, and my lace actually broke. 

I panicked for a moment, before remembering that laces can be tied to themselves.  Problem solved.  Some people complain about the durability of the Reebok All-terrain shoes, but I've used mine since 2014, for about 15 events, including an Ultra Beast an a HH12HR.  They have some holes that have developed where the toes bend, but that's mostly cosmetic.  If anything, it may help with draining.  It may let in a bit more sand, but that kind of happens anyway, so not a huge deal.  I'll still keep using them, at least for non-A races.  I do like them, though, so I bought 2 more pairs (newer models).  They've done well for me.  I like the grips on them, and the drainage.  Drainage is key.




THE RACE:

I started at the front, albeit on the far side.  We were off.  It was more congested at the beginning than at my previous/first Rugged, but then again, this was the Elite heat.  I really wanted to do well.  I counted the number of girls in front of me.  Started off in 4th, got to 3rd quickly.  The first obstacle was a low-ish wall.  A good amount of running vs. obstacle ratio early on, to spread the herd.  Some sort of A-frame was next, and I was on 2nd's tail.  Running, steps where people normally spectate car races.  Then quad burner sand dunes. 

 

The design of the course is pretty much an out and back in shape, although on different courses that don't really see each other, so you could figure out when you were about halfway, when you turned around.  Barbed wire crawl, see saw.  It helped to have run one Rugged before, so now I was familiar with the obstacles and didn't have to be so tentative when taking something like the see saw on. 

I started feeling the early portion's hard pace.  I could tell that I was going to pay for it, as I started slowing.  At least the obstacles would help me catch my breath.  Bang the gong, cargo net, a more difficult heavy carry than the one in Charleston (still short, but this time with a hill), guillotine, more crawls, fire jump.  Mid-race fire jumps are always a bit of a strange feeling, for someone who's done many Spartans.


Trampoline, swing shot, ring rig, trenches, frog hop.  I was really in the pain cave.  It was hot.  Claustrophobia, where you crawl through a completely dark and skinny tunnel, was particularly intense, because it was surprisingly hot in that tunnel, and it was already hard to breathe from running so hard.  Keg hoist, gauntlet, crag. 
 


The end was in sight.  Just had to get up the warped wall, and go down the slide.  On my first three attempts, I either under-shot the ledge, or couldn't get my fingers around it.  After each attempt and failure, I had to catch my breath and muster strength for another attempt.  At any moment, 4th may come.  I had to get this.  I moved towards the middle, and that time, I got a good grip and was able to get over it.  It's a good feeling to get the warped wall.  It's probably not that the wall was any different... it may be a matter of where your steps fall on the curve of the wall.  Crawled up the cargo, leaped down the slide, wanting to waste no time. 


I was expending everything I had.  I un-gracefully hopped over the edge of the balloon slide, and finished.  I got third, which was sweet news to hear.  The race official took down my name.  After I got my medal, water, and orange slices, I ducked under one of those 3-foot tall A-frame signs, to have a spot in the shade to cool off and catch my breath.  I was that desperate.  Once I had recovered, I showered off, changed, etc.  Awards were fun, getting to be on stage.  2nd was about 3 minutes faster, and 1st was a minute faster than 2nd.  Well done to them.  I pushed hard, but they were better.  Hopefully, next time, I'll pace a bit better, and get the warped wall on the first attempt. 





Afterwards, celebratory beer (Harpoon - woo hoo!), and volunteering.  Punched my ticket to Worlds!  So excited.  Mission accomplished.  Can't wait for more Ruggeds to come!



Sunday, May 21, 2017

RACE REPORT: Savage Race Charlotte 2017

I think many who have been doing Spartan races for a while have been branching out into other OCRs in recent years.  Maybe some have always done so.  But at least some, based on Facebook posts, have looking for other, innovative obstacles, among other things.  I've been doing this, too.  This would be my first Savage Race.  A number of my hard-core OCR facebook friends are big fans of Savage, so I had to see what it was all about.

I went the route of volunteering, then racing same-day, which would mean racing in the 2pm volunteer heat.  My main goal during the race was to see what their obstacles were like, and to see whether I'd be able to compete in the elite heat.  Savage has mandatory obstacle completion, with the option to try as many times as you want.  If you don't make it and are running in the elite heat, though, they cut off your pro wave bracelet.  I wouldn't care so much about speed.  I wanted to complete as many obstacles as I could.

TRAINING THAT WEEK:

Monday, May 8:
7.0 in 55:58, 8:00 ave, 2 degrees of incline.  Felt good and easy, after taking 3 days of needed rest.  Tempted to go a bit farther and harder, but that would've wrecked me for a few days.  Tempting, but I decided to hold back a bit and allow my body to do more miles later int he week.  Most training is supposed to be at an easy pace, anyway.  Splits> 8:28, 8:12, 8:12, 7:55, 7:57, 7:46, 7:24.

Wednesday, May 10:
I decided to go to the Whitewater Center for an outdoors run after work.  8.9 in 1:42:33, 11:31 ave.  sunny but shaded.  Sometimes, my legs feel like they wouldn't be able to handle overly repetitive motion, at a forced, fixed pace like what you'd get on a treadmill.  On trails, your feet and legs hit all kinds of angles, and you get to naturally adapt your pace at every step, based on how you feel.  A mid-week burst of nature doesn't hurt, either.  Got thirsty in the last mile, making it mentally harder.

Thursday, May 11:
1 hr biking session, covering 12.9 9miles.  After a nearly 12 hr workday.  Need the stress relief of a workout, though.

VOLUNTEERING AT SAVAGE:

I had made a facebook friend via a Spartan page a while back, and we'd check up on each other's training every now and then.  We finally got to meet in person, volunteering this weekend.  His family came, which was awesome.  We were able to join forces on Water Station 2.  The Savage course at this farm had many obstacles around a big field, which was nice, because you could watch a good bit of action from there.  We had big water bottles to give out, although most people didn't need nearly that much water.



They were a lot of fun to work with.  It was cold in the morning (like, my light jacket and volunteer shirt were not nearly enough), but it got almost a bit too warm in the sun later on.  

RACE TIME:

They let the volunteer+racers out at around 1:20, to start getting ready for the 2pm volunteer wave.  I changed and checked in.  Pumped!  
I had gloves with me, for obstacles that didn't require good grip (like monkey bars), but where I wanted to protect my hands.  I also had a shirt on, because I didn't want to get cut up or get any grass-related rashes.  I'd be racing Rugged Maniac the following weekend, and that would kind of be my A-race, so I didn't want any lingering effects of Savage to bite me later.

It's interesting to see how different race series pump up their waves.  At Savage, they had us do movements and chants, like a tribe of Savages, almost.   Just before the start, they released a deep blue smoke-maker.


We were off.  People went sprinting out, like literal sprinting, even above the usual race pace hard effort.  Some of them were walking about 200m later, which was odd, but this was a volunteer wave, so not a big deal.  The beginning of the race is running, to help spread people out a bit before the obstacles start, which is smart.  I caught up to all of the boys and was leading, after maybe 0.7 miles.  Climbed a ladder.  At the 8-foot wall, I had to try 4x before I made it over.  During my re-tries, a few guys passed me back.  They were really nice and offered to help, but I wanted to do as many as I could, on my own.  

They have some unique obstacles that I've never seen before, like squeezing yourself under big rain barrel.  They also have some standard stuff, like jumping over fire and barbed wire.

 

I encountered my first ice water tank during an OCR.  It was a warm day, and I like cold, so I thought it would be comfortable.  It was almost painfully cold, though.  There's a wall that forces you to dunk your whole body under it, too.  You just keep telling your body to move forward, though, and you get through it.  


As a runner, I haven't had a lot of upper body strength, so I'm always the most excited about being able to complete monkey bar-style obstacles.  The most impressive obstacles at Savage, in my view, are Davey Jones's Locker, which is mostly a mind game of jumping off a ledge into water... not a super-high ledge, but it looks high when you're up there.  There was also a steep water slide, which was similar, in the feeling that you get at the top.


There was a traverse wall, with rock wall grips instead of Spartan's wood blocks.  It felt longer than the Spartan walls.  It was slightly tilted downwards, too, making it harder.  This wall took a lot of patience, where you had to be sure your grip on both feet and both arms were good before progressing, and it was long enough to really start sapping your strength towards the end, but I made it.  

There was a log on chains, kind of like a swinging balance beam.  I was a bit too tentative on it, and took more time than I should.  This one is probably more a mind game, too.  It's probably more stable than it looks. 



There was also a tube on a see-saw.  It seemed easy, but you were already wet, so it was hard to get traction.  The challenge for small people like me, was to make my body take up as much space as possible, to get enough friction to climb up the smooth surface of the tube.  I heard that it was hard for tall people, who had trouble getting their knees under them to crawl up.  

They had a drone flying around all day, giving "live" facebook coverage.  I watched it after the race, and it was really good.  It was extremely professional-looking and seamless, even though nothing was really pre-planned, and they were just driving and narrating on the spot!  I found myself in one screenshot, rolling being the nearest wall, under some barbed wire.


I ended up pushing harder than I had envisioned, during the running of the course.  It's hard to resist pushing, when in a race setting.  Not a crazy effort, but kept the foot on the gas pedal.

Towards the end was a gauntlet.  First, a rig called "twirly bird", which had alternating mops and rings, sort of.  I made it about 2/3 of the way before dropping from lack of grip strength.  I re-tried a couple more times, but did progressively worse as I used up more and more of my remaining grip.  This would be the first obstacle that I missed.  The next obstacle was another rig.  I only made it about 15% of the way, maybe.  I wonder how I'd do at it, if I was fresh.  No way this time, though, especially after the previous Twirly Bird.  And lastly, "Tree Hugger", which was a line of poles... umm... nearly impossible for me at this point.  I struggled so much to even get on the first pole.  

Well, now I know that I'm not capable of doing the Pro wave at this point.  It turns out that only 2 women were able to complete the course, so it is hard.  I don't know if I'll ever get to the point where I can complete it, but I can at least strive to do a little better next time.  Rig-style grip obstacles are where I probably have the most bang-for-buck improvement opportunity.  It's hard for me to get gains there, though.  


On the bright side, my pure race time was really good, thanks to the running.  5.5 in 1:16:22, 13:53 ave.  A good learning experience, a fun day, and good prep for Rugged next week!  Now to recover in time.

The next day, I went out to volunteer for course teardown.  I helped to collect signs and course markings, I got to drive around a gator (awesome!!!! like a tank had a baby with a golf cart and a race car) and collect trash.  I also took down the elements from the rigs.