Monday, July 30, 2007

What a week!

Amidst the torrential periodic rain storms, I had a GREAT workout week!
Upholding my pledge to up my running miles, I logged 29.4 this week. (And it would've been closer to 32, but on Thursday we thought we were running 3-mile loops, but they're actually only 2...and had we know, we probably would've done another...but oh well...)

But more important than the actual miles was how those miles felt.

On Monday I ran 7. I expected to feel a little sluggish since I had just raced Marble Falls the day before, but I actually felt good..not strong..but good.

Tuesday, I ran More Pricks than Kicks and it was fun to go fast! ( least fast for me...)

Thursday we ran instead of doing Mesa hill repeats because of the freakin' rain. We were supposed to do one loop at tempo and as Shorey, Stacey and I were running...or apparently jogging... along, Panther came up on us and blustered and bellowed and instructed us to get our asses in gear and pick up the damn pace (or something to that affect....I think there might have been a f'nheimer thrown in there for good measure). So, we all picked it up.

I was going pretty hard and wasn't quite sure I was going to be able to maintain my pace, but I just kept saying to the next street lamp....ok just to the next corner...ok, now to the next curve...and soon enough I was holding my hard pace all the way around! Once I could see the end of the loop, I knew I had it in the bag, so I just kept my foot on the gas and kept going! WOOT! It felt great!

I still needed to get a few more miles in, so on Friday I loaded up the little man in the jogging stroller and in between rain storms did a 6 mile spin together. I'm sure we look hilarious to the passerby's. Devon, chillin in the stroller with his spiderman sunglasses, baggie of goldfish on the left, sippy cup of water on the right, Bose headphones clamped over his ears and two pudgy little hands holding a video iPod (thank god for Disney podcasts and cartoons...) and me with my iPod and all pinked out..pure comedy. It was a tough run pushing all the extra weight, but the cloud cover made it bareable and we finished without a single meltdown. VICTORY!!

And then came the saturday brick. It began with the Lost Creek ride. Since I had done it once before, I at least knew what I was in for in terms of the it wasn't a surprise. I was able to keep up with the lead group until the last couple hills in lost creek. Last time, Kris dropped me right at the beginning of lost creek...damn, she is strong! (But of course, this time she had just returned from a work trip all week and also had to run 6 BEFORE we started riding.....but let me have my moment of joy, please....).

Then after the ride was two 3-mile loops in Travis Country. The first mile was, as always for me, hard as shit. It just takes me awhile to get my legs back under me. And lord was it getting HOT! And I knew it was going to be tough, so I brought my iPod with me for some support. Went to turn it on...DAMMIT....someone freakin' remind me to charge it up from time to time! CRAP! Now I'm gonna have to slog it out on my own. shit. But so I did...

I finished the first loop and threw my iPod into the car (since it wasn't doing me any damn good, I certainly didn't feel like hauling it around for another loop...) and went on for the next round. Granted I wasn't speedy, but I was steady and I just kept after it. I was heading down the big hill preparing for the up when I came upon Menard going up the hill...backwards... What?! Is that fooker just toying with me, WTH? I knew he was kicking my butt...but did he really have to finish, come back for me and then jog up backwards????

But it turns out that Menard (who by the way has just recovered from pneumonia -- but can still kick my ass on the bike and run) was taking it easy so as not to try to do too much too soon. Phew. Although, I'm quite sure had he been feeling 100%, he totally could've come back, run backwards and still been faster than me....

Anyway, finished the run strong...negative split...although since my first mile is always such crap that isn't really that hard to do... But more importantly, it felt good!

Sunday was Pfinally Pflugerville...although I think we should rename it to Pfucking Pflugerville. What an adventure! Two flats, a pit bull attack, lost riders, maxing out at 27 trying to hawk Panther down after he dropped the hammer on us, a rogue car trying to take out Panther with a car door and swerving to try to hit other members of our group and lots of bonks. Aside from that, I actually had a good ride. This whole eating on your bike thing? What a wonderful concept!! I LOVE IT! Makes you feel good! I was even able to turn it up at mile 45 and ride hard the last couple of miles. WOOT!

And then we followed the ride with a dip in Bibi's pool with beer, brats and other yummy things. What a great way to end a fantastic workout week! Thanks everyone who ran, rode and drank with me this week. I had a blast!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Just this close (aka Marble Falls Race Report)

Overhead Announcer: Thank you for training with Camp Punishment this morning. We're looking forward to our on time departure of 7:06am under cloudy skies but an otherwise beautiful day.

Our trip today will begin with a 1000m slice through Lake Marble Falls. Traffic control tells us that visibility is somewhat limited and there may be some debris to move through, but we believe it won't be a problem.

The second leg will be a 'hilly' 23 mile spin. Control also warns that there will be additional traffic, so everyone be sure to look around and see what else is traveling by us.

And our final leg will be a meandering 4.4 mile tour through a great neighborhood. We are testing out some new equipment and are hoping to pick up some additional time during this portion, so we are planning on conserving fuel during the first two segments.

We know you have a choice when you train and we'd like to thank you for choosing Camp Punishment.

Training Attendant: Welcome, Dionn. How are you doing today?
Dionn: Fine thanks!

TA: Here's your chip. Will you be checking anything or carrying everything on board?
D: I'll need to check one item please. (Hands over Ego)

TA: Ahh! Yes. Will you be picking that up at T1, T2 or the Finish?
D: T2, please.

TA: Here you go. (Hands over claim check #175)
D: Thank you! (Places claim check in pocket)

Overhead Announcer: We are now ready to depart. Have a great trip!

And so it began! Having securely checked my ego at the gate, our swim wave was off. Yes, the water was brown and murky, but because my goggles fog in the first 100m I can never see anything anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

Our swim wave was for all women 39 and under. You know folks like, Amy Marsh and about 5 other sub 1:30 pace swimmers. It was a wet start with a triangular counter-clockwise course. I let almost everyone jump in the water and swim out to the start. I got in towards the very end and started my swim in my favorite place, front row outside lane. It was a good distance to the first buoy and turn, so it didn't make any sense to me to scoot inside and battle with everyone. I just pointed my nose at the buouy and took off when the horn blew. It was SO tempting to snuggle up to the leaders and try to draft, but I looked in my pocket and saw my claim check and decided to settle in to a nice pace using long, strong pulls and a gentle roll and just make my way through the swim. Other than inhaling gas fumes during the first half, it felt good. I loved the long stretch of the triangle-shaped just begs you to find your grove and settle in. I swam strong with no bang (!) and followed the race plan.

Turns out I had a GREAT swim! 1:43 pace, finishing the 1000m in 17:13. Second out of the water in my age group. (Last year's course pace was 2:01, finishing in 20:05)

Off to the bike. So the first mile is straight uphill. I looked in my pocket and saw my claim check and settled into a nice spin up the hill to get things going. I have to say that all the hill training we do TOTALLY pays off. It was definitely a hilly course, but was not concerning. SEVERAL times, however, one of my age groupers would come whizzing by and it was all I could do not to starting turning the cranks harder, but I kept thinking about the run and just let them go.

Ended up finishing the bike with a 18.7 pace. Last year's pace was 18.5, but I distinctly remember going as hard as I could on the bike portion of the race last year. So while I was glad to see that my not-hard pace this year is faster than my hard pace from last year.

And then the run. I turned in my claim check, grabbed my Ego and headed out! The goal was to beat my pace PR of 8:09 (set at Danskin this year). It was tough (as always for me), but I kept slogging through. My first mile felt slow, but I chalked it up to getting those cinder blocks off my legs that someone snuck in and strapped onto my quads. Each mile I tried picking up the pace a little more and a little more. I was wearing a watch but kept forgetting to check my times at the mile markers to see how I was doing, so I would end up doing some quick mental gymnastics to see how my overall time broke down to my pace. It was going to be close. I definitely went anaerobic a couple times going up hills, but try to use the next downhill as a recovery.

Shorey passed going the other way and hollered, "Drop the Hammer Dionn!" I frantically searched around, hammer, hammer....where is my FREAKIN' HAMMER? All I could find was one of those small mallets used to check your reflexes. shit.

I kept after it and gave it all I had. But, I just missed it.... run pace, 8:12. DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT! Surely I could've found 3-4 secs in each mile from somewhere! Next time, I'm totally going to have to work the splits on my watch.

...sigh.... there's always the next race though!!

And while I didn't hit my race goal, I smoked last year's run pace of 8:55 and my overal time of 2:09:45.4 (vs last year 2:16:11) was good enough for 6th place (vs last year's 9th place) and a PR for the whole course. WOOT!!

So...I'll see ya on the run!!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Marble Falls Race Plan

Yes, my run sucks. I know it sucks. There..I've said it...again.

HOWEVER, if all goes well, following tomorrow's race I will have fulfilled my promise of running at least 25 miles for the past two weeks. So here's to working on NOT having my run suck. HOORAY!!!!!

But did I mention my run sucks? In fact it sucks so much that I've received the following instructions from beloved Coach Panther regarding tomorrow's race. And I quote:

"I'm not even going to look at your swim and bike times from Marble Falls tomorrow. I want you to PR the run. It's that simple. Do whatever you gotta do to make that happen, but that's what I'd like you to shoot for. ..... There are a lot of races left in the season for you to approach from a "big picture" perspective, and you NEED WORK on the run. " that's the plan. Here comes the hard part tho... and I quote:

Panther: "Ease into the swim, holding back as much as you can without feeling like you're just letting everyone in the water pass you."

-- y'all know the swim is my thing...that's gonna be tough

Panther: "Hold back on the bike. Again--if people you want to pass are passing you, kick it up a notch, but I want you to try to throw away your ego for the bike and save up."

-- throwing away your ego during a race....that is definitely a challenge...BIG PICTURE, BIG PICTURE. I think that's gonna have to be my mantra on the bike , BIG PIC, BIG PIC!

Panther: "FIRE YOUR GUNS on the run. Give it everything you've got. When it hurts, KEEP PUSHING! When you're barely able to breathe, KEEP PUSHING! If you start to go anaerobic, slow down a little and recover, but then, as soon as you're recovered, FIRE YOUR GUNS again! Keep up the intensity. I want you to blow that run course UP!"

So basically the plan will be reach that marvelous spot of just shy of throwing up at the end of the run. That's the plan....I'M ON IT!

Pace PR is currently 8:09 (Yes, I sucks) That's the time to beat.

(As a side note, while my run definitely sucks, it has significantly improved over last year -- which means last year sucked even more. Last year's Pace PR? 8:45. ugh. On the bright side, look how much I've improved already! WOOT!)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Good Monday

Trying to keep up with my pledge of increasing my run mileage, I set out yesterday around 9:30am to get in a nice, easy 7 around the lake before it got too hot. On my way out the door, however, a call came in that I had to take. And then another..and another. By the time I was done it was 1pm and blazin hot outside.

I hadn't had lunch or even drank anything since breakfast. HOWEVER, I was determined to get my miles in. Since I was running out of time, I decided to do my 7-mile Riverplace loop the hot, hot, blazing sun with no breeze and no shade. Great.

Even though I was running easy, it was way tough, and did I mention hot? Around mile 6, I was momentarily relieved when I started feeling cooler, but then realized that I was actually getting the chills and decided that probably wasn't a good thing. Fortunately I was almost back home and done with the hills so I managed to bring it on home without passing out mainly because I kept thinking: Scott's out of town until Tuesday night, no one's even going to notice I'm missing until after 6pm when there isn't anyone to pick up the kids from camp ... I have to survive!

After downing about 64 ozs of fluids, the chills subsided and I felt much better. Phew!

And then, I had a great impromptu ride with Shorey and JJ out at the Veloway/Autobahn in the evening. We did a couple loops around the veloway and then headed out to the Autobahn for a few laps. I employed all of Panther's pacelining tips and snuggled up to JJ's wheel and let him pull me up the hills when I was getting too tired to keep up. They either worked or JJ was being nice...either way, it was a great ride for me!

Awesome way to start the workout week! YAY!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Marriage Retreat (aka The Couples Triathlon Race Report)

Relationships are about balance. There are ups and downs, compromises, give and takes, you carry me then I'll carry you, back to back against the world, all that good stuff.

This weekend was one of those opportunities for me to say a big THANK YOU to my husband for all the support he's given me in my triathlon endeavors. Big Daddy's work schedule is much more demanding than mine and not even remotely as flexible. So for him to find time to train (on his own) has taken monumental efforts and dedication to get it done. GO SCOTT!

It's also quite humorous to recall all of the crazy things I've dragged him into over the years:

"Big Guys Dancing"
- a rousing, encore-inducing dance routine I choreographed and directed for him and 15 other Tuxedo-clad Big Guys (minimum requirements were 6 ft tall and 200 lbs) at our business school year-end show. Come over for drinks...we have video.

Snow Skiing
- as a high school and collegiate quarterback, Scott rarely had the chance to do other sports until his retirement. So I dragged him out to the slopes, stuck him in ski school for a day or two and then took him out on some black diamonds. He's always such a good sport!

Kick Boxing
- always looking for an adrenaline rush, I took up brazilian kickboxing in the offseason (to my pro cheerleading activities). Turns out dancing legs are pretty good for kicking your opponent in the head! Who knew? Scott, on the other side, from his quarterbacking days, had very fast and very strong hands. Fortunately, when we sparred together, he wasn't allowed to hit me in the face! (My best defense was that I could roundhouse him to the head and still remain out of reach of his hands!!) Scott actually fought an official amateur fight at an event. He won by KO in the 2nd round, breaking his hand on the guy's head in the process. It was awesome. Come over for drinks...we have video.

And now, Triathlon
- Not a sport designed for the bigger guys. In fact, one of Scott's biggest issues is finding cool cycling jerseys made for guys bigger than say, Adam! But nonetheless, he took the sport head on! GO SCOTT!

So I had the distinct pleasure of being Big Daddy's Domestique at the Couples Triathlon (800 meter Swim, 11.2 mile bike, 3.1 mile run). It was the perfect opportunity since I know this course like the back of my hand and had just raced on it for the Danskin in June. I tried to let him in on all the secrets we've discovered (some the easy way...some the hard way) about races.

The swim was great! Because of the dry start, we just waded in across the mats and took off in the water when we were ready. No having to be in the craziness of the pack or anything. Scott always breathes on the right and I always breathe on the left, so I positioned myself off his right shoulder and just a bit ahead. I tried to act like one of his old lineman and block for him. So I made sure that he stayed on course and that no one tried to swim into least from the right. He did freestyle the whole way! Awesome Job!

The bike was fun too. I let him set the pace and stayed 3 bike lengths behind for most of the ride. Occasionally, I would pedal up to him to tell him something about the him the heads up about the right turn with the steep hill, which sections were good for water breaks, passing him gel blocks (which I think is technically illegal, right? receiving aid from a non-race official? oops.), etc. The funny part was on the big down hills, his size advantage would show up and he'd go blasting down the hill. I'd have to get a big gear, get small and pedal hard to get back close to him.

The run was hard. I'm sure he will tell you that he needs to do more bricks. And that last hill on the course is a bitch, even when you know it is coming. But he never stopped. He just kept chugging up the hill. When we got to the top, I told him he'd better not sprint faster than me and blow me away. (He can still beat me in a 40... but something longer, I think I might have the edge.) He said he wouldn't! We neared the finish, picked up the pace and crossed the finish together. GO TEAM SCHAFFNER!

It was an awesome time for me to be able to be a part of the race with him. I love that he isn't scared to try new things, even when he may not be the best at them. It was great to give back some of the fantastic support he's always shown me and my crazy ideas.

Big Thanks to Big Daddy!

(here's a pic of him at the day job...)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mastercard Moments

4 Airplane tickets to Cincinnati, Ohio: $2,000

Drive time from Cincinnati to Orrville: 3 hours each way

Grandma's reaction to a visit from her great grandsons: Priceless

The first pic is of Devon (2) and Great Grandma Flossie (93). Second is Shay (6) and Great Grandma Flossie.

I love being a mom.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (aka The Women's Tri Race Report)

It began as any other race morning would...the anxious check of the clock at 2:30am, 3:45am and 4:30am.....(I always have the worry that my alarm won't go off when it is supposed to...don't you hate that?)... and finally, the alarm going off at 4:45am.

I followed standard Imperial procedure before jumping to hyper-speed and got rid of the trash on my star destroyer. Then showered to wake up and coax my crazy curls into some semblance of a ponytail so my 'fro would fit under my bike helmet. Picked up my gear bag, loaded the bike and headed to Shorey's for a carpool down to the Texas Ski Ranch.

I then followed my typical pre-race plan which includes hitting the potty at least 2 times before the National Anthem and then one time after that before my wave swims off, wandering around somewhat aimlessly taking in the atmosphere (read: checking out the competition) and getting my game face on. Note that this did not include any of Panther's pre-race instructions for warm-ups (except I did get in the water and paddle around a bit)...which as I was properly chastised for later and so, I (raising my right hand), Dionn Schaffner hereby promise to include in the next that was probably a contributor to the "ugly" factor mentioned below.

After identifying two Ironwomen in our age group (one complete with a smokin' Cervelo and Disc wheels) and an old-time nemesis, Tracy Lord (yes, that is really her name...), I knew that it was going to be a short but tough race and I'd better get my shit together and focus.

The Good:
The Rogue Women's Tri was a GREAT event between all the great volunteers (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!), race site decorations and accouterments (changing tents and showers!! although I ended up deck changing in transition while chatting with Shorey and Panther... I don't think Panther noticed though...), and waiters handing out Mimosas. Does it get any better??

For me, the best part of the race was that I picked up some speed on the bike portion this time. I DID follow Panther's instructions and pushed as hard of a gear as I could and keep it at (well around) 90rpm's. I employed the "Just on more Click" technique and really saw where in the past I'd been settling in to a gear thinking that was as big as I could turn, but in actuality, just one more click plus a little extra push to get the cadence back up and then I'm turning the same cadence but a bigger gear! It really paid off for me this race. At the rookie (same course), my bike pace was 18.5. At this race it was 20.4!! Which was the 4th fastest in my age group! Wahooo! I'll totally take it!

The Bad:
All I know, is thank goodness I had a good swim, because as I'm pickin' em up and puttin' them down on the run....I started to get that know the one where something or someone really scary is right behind don't want to turn around and look, but you can just feel them there...lurking...getting ready to pounce?

Enter Tracy Lord, Texas Iron. Just after the turnaround, I could totally hear someone settle in just behind me, matching my pace. Since I hadn't passed Tracy going the other way on the run, I was pretty sure it was her. Just then Shorey was coming the other direction and I silently mouthed to her as I pointed over my shoulder "Is that her, is it Tracy??". Shorey gave me that ever so slight raising of the eyebrow as she glanced past my shoulder. Dammit. And then not 15 seconds later, we passed a Texas Iron going the other way who yelled, "Way to go Tracy...keep it up!". BUSTED! The jig was up. She knew I knew she was there...and now, it's ON!

Knowing that her cover was busted, she pulled up beside me and we ran stride for stride until just before the last incline before turning left into the ranch. I knew this one was going to be down to the wire. I could hear her breathing and knew that she was working just as hard as I was. I was comforted somewhat...and started strategizing. Ok, so I don't have to be fast, I just have to be faster than her, right?

So, as we started up the hill, I actually slowed down the pace, figuring she would match me...and she did. About half way up the hill, I did a quick systems check. Calves - not cramping. check. Quads, tight, but not twitching. check. Fuel gage - not empty. Double Check.

We crested the hill as Ruth yelled out, "Alright Dionn! Stay on the mats, there's less mud!" Check.

The other thing I like about this race course is making a left turn into the final stretch. It takes me back to my track days, where you made that last curve before hitting the final sprint on the straight away home. It always felt like when you take a car fast into a kinda lean into it....imagining the road banking like on a race track....and you punch the accelerator after you hit the apex and go shooting fast out into the straight away...

FIRE YOUR GUNS! So I hit the left turn, leaned into it and fired my guns! I used my long legs to hit the mats, stay out of the mud, and pick my spots to get firm footing. I pranced my way through the mud, hit the sidewalk and let it all go.

As I came through the crowd near the finishing line, I heard Adam saying my name, but more importantly not saying anything about it being a close finish (which he usually comments on when there are folks trying to beat each other at the finish).... but I didn't let up. I kept my foot on the gas, HARD...until I crossed the finish line....ALONE!! WAHOOOOO! Turns out, I put 5 seconds on her from the top of the hill to the finish.

We joked and talked about it afterwards, took pictures with her kids, etc. But I know she's out to get me....

The Ugly:
Two words for ya.... MY RUN. Although I managed (somehow) to beat Tracy, my run pace was abysmal. 8:33. That's just ridiculous. That's not far off my half-marathon pace from the fall...WTH??

Truth be told, I have not been putting in the running miles as I should (as Panther was so kind enough to point out...well, that's his job as Coach...) ... and I have no one to blame except myself.

(Raising right hand...again) I, Dionn Schaffner, do solemnly swear to run MINIMALLY 25 miles each week. So, now armed with the Camp Punishment CD downloaded to my iPod...I am at this moment heading out to begin the fulfillment of said task. (well as soon as I spell check the blog entry...)

Overally, it was a good race. I was really bummed at first because I didn't PR on the course...however after talking with a bunch of folks, the swim was staked out a little longer than the 300 before...and looking at everyone's swim times, it is clear that the swim was definitely longer. So just looking at my bike/run times combined, I was 4 secs faster at this race vs. the Rookie. Still wouldn't have beaten my 1 hour goal that kinda sucks. I really have to get my run together.

Here are my final stats:

Swim: 4th 6:33.03
Bike: 4th 35:22.40 (20.4mph)
Run: 8th 17:01.60 (8:31) YUCK

Age Group Place: 4th
Overall: 12th