Monthly Archives: April 2010

Do it now!

C’mon, do it now!

Today is the last day to register for Rev3 KNOXVILLE! Race day festivities include a half iron distance triathlon (1.2mile swim, 56mile bike, and 13.1mile run) and the premier event- the Olympic distance triathlon (0.9mi swim, 24.8mile bike, and 6.4mile run). There are so many pro triathletes registered, its not even funny. This is going to be amazing. Will it be awkward if I run around the race expo tracking down the pros for autographs? I can see it now: “OHMIGOD! OHMIGOD! It’s Amanda Lovato!!!! I follow her on Twitter!” as I stand up on my tippy-toes waving and flailing to get her attention…

Ok, now that I already admitted to my upcoming social demise, I should also add: Rev3 Knoxville will be the first time I get to meet (in person) my awesome Trakkers teammates. I can’t wait to meet them (including but not limited to: Sonja, Michelle, Laura, and Jamie!). I feel like I know them all so well already, thanks to their awesomely illustrative blogs and twitter and facebook pages…

The race is going to be off the hook. Totally rad swag (including a visor, towel, and finisher’s awards) and a great expo await. Stop by Team Trakkers’ booth to meet me and my teammies, too!

For a $10 discount on entry, use my code: trakkers118. Register here!! DO IT NOW!!!!

Image courtesy of WorldsFairPark.org

P.S. If you’ve never been there, Knoxville is awesome. The race location is right at World’s Fair Park, so spectators will have a good time when you’re out on the bike course! I love the springtime in Knox- the dogwoods are in full bloom and its not too hot. Add in the southern hospitality that’s present year ’round, and you’ve got one of my favorite towns in the Midwest!

See you next weekend!!!!

A change of pace

In high school, I was a runner, and I was seriously committed to becoming a better athlete with each day of training. I ran what my coach told me to run, I rarely complained, I dug deep and breathed heavy and pushed myself as hard as I could, taking comfort in knowing that my efforts would pay off. My ultimate goal was to break the 800m record (again; I broke it my freshman year, but it was snatched up pretty quickly by my French friend, Vanessa). My dad never missed a race, and I would hear the trademark whistle of my coach when I was gaining on my competitors, which translated into “Go- go- go!”  Although I never grabbed the 800m record again, I did compete at the state level practically every season (sans the Frenchie-exchange season, of which I was injured. I watched her crush my record at the state meet, and it was absolutely amazing).

Then I went off to college. I chose Michigan Tech, aside from the location and program of study, because I could continue to run competitively. I joined the cross-country team and life continued as normal. Well, maybe not normal, but the transition wasn’t too abrupt. I still had a team, albeit new (and majorly fast) girls. I still had practice. I still had a routine. I still got nervous before races, listened to certain songs before putting my spikes on, and sat with my parents, who would travel great lengths to watch me race. Although the practices were much different in college, I got to experience a new aspect of training that made me faster with every year. I had hills to run up, snow to run through, and trails to get lost on. I hammered down my personal best in the 5K and then I’d peak for the season on Lahti repeats. I could hear my old coach’s whistle in my ears. In college, I met some amazingly strong and incredibly smart women, women that wouldn’t just settle for mediocrity. The carrot would dangle and they’d chase after it. We’d all chase after it. The finish line could keep taking less and less time to get to, but our race for being our best would never end.

And then I went to New Zealand for study abroad. And I got tendonitis from hiking in the South Island and then I drank a lot of beer. When it was time to get back to the U.S. and train for my last season, I was out of shape and ten pounds heavier than when I left. I worked my butt off and ran the longest run of my life at the time (18 miles) and I was convinced by our team captain to join the Nordic team. I continued to race through the winter, and I got faster and stronger every day. I admit that I cried a lot.  I cried going up the Balsam hill on skate skis. I cried going down Cemetary on skate skis. I even cried while riding in the van with five half-naked freshman boys (but that was from laughing so hard). My last track season seemed to come and go like the spring in the UP (which is really fast, by the way), and then I was done. It was quite anticlimatic.

Then I was in Montana. I signed up for some local 10Ks but nothing serious. I felt burnt out, and I even stopped running for about 9 months. I just didn’t feel like going. I started lifting weights, thinking that I’d find some enjoyment out of pushing myself harder in my brute physical strength, but I got bored. And eventually, I found my way back to running. I signed up for the Bridger Ridge Run and tried to prepare as best I could. I raced for nearly four of the five hours with a heart rate about 170, and I puked. After that, I signed up for my first marathon and trained my butt off. Discipline drove me to run on the treadmill every day, sometimes twice, during that harsh, frigid Montana winter. I’d run tempos and hills with my iPod shuffle in hand and America’s Next Top Model on the TV. I’d watch the weight lifters doing what I admittedly didn’t want to do. And I ran once for three hours, just plugging away with the belt moving beneath my feet.

Then I was in California. I was toeing the line for my first ever marathon, surrounded by half naked, anxious and excited runners (that oddly resembled in figure that of the freshman boys). The sun was rising and I was off. I listened to my body and I felt my lungs breathe in the most fresh and clean air I could imagine. I ran with two women for a few miles who were shooting for a 3:35. I left them. I ran for a guy using the marathon as a “training” run (something I thought of as absolutely absurd at the time… go figure). After six miles or so, I left him. I ran past vineyard after vineyard, aid station after aid station, and cheering crowd after cheering crowd. I ran by myself for the last 10K. I dug deep and felt my feet hit their rhythm on the pavement. I wove through the subdivision and felt my legs burn. Felt my arms burn. Felt everything just burn. And then I saw the spectators, the finish line, the clock, and I heard my coach’s whistle in my head. I felt everything disappear.

Then I was back in Michigan’s UP, running and training and racing, and I’ve not stopped since. It’s been just over 3 years since I ran my first marathon, and two weeks ago I finished my sixth. Racing marathons has exposed me to a whole new world of athleticism- and it helps nip my travel bug as well. Triathlon is not much different. There’s so much dedication and passion involved in endurance sports, and so much potential that I keep striving to reach. The further I push myself, the deep I reach into the giant vat of opportunities in sports like these. I see this pursuit for personal bests every day in my training partners and teammates. We don’t just settle, we keep advancing. We keep training. We keep racing.

Then I was in Madison, Wisconsin… racing my first Ironman. Then I was in Ohio, beating my personal best in the marathon 5wks later. It will go on and on.

Next weekend, I’m tapping into my retired fast-twitch muscles for my first Olympic distance triathlon. This will be the first triathlon of the season, and the first I’ve ever done shorter than than the half-iron distance. I’m nervous and excited. I’ve got my iPod charged and ready to rock with some of the classic pre-race pump me up songs. I’ll have my dad cheering from the crowds, and I’ll have my teammates beside me. I’m ready to go.

lucy activewear- review

I finally own a washer and dryer. I bought them used off craigslist when we found out our new place had hookups. Let me preface this by saying that I love living in the Upper Peninsula. Among other things, housing is cheap and used stuff is practically given away. So I now am able to wash (and dry! although I hang dry all my running gear) my clothes more frequently, no longer have a clothes pile of stench brewing in my bedroom, and can run more regularly in my favorite clothes.

Luckily for my wardrobe I had stocked up on running clothes prior to owning a washer and dryer. In the days when I had trek it to the laundromat with five hundred pounds of denim, lycra, and wool, I managed to buy enough running clothes to run in something clean for approximately two weeks. Yes, I have at least ten pairs of shorts, four pairs of capris, and too many running tops to count. My rate-limiting-factor, at least during the pre-washambrian era, was underwear. My stints between laundroramas were about five weeks, though. Do the math… I definitely re-wore my favorite items (particularly my Saucony Run Lux shorts and Empress top that take refuge in my locker at the gym) more than I would like to mention. But, all is fair in love and war (and that statement has nothing to do with anything I am talking about)- and with the arrival of Dame Washer and Sir Dryer, I could breathe a sigh of relief (and send the shorts I still have from high school off to Goodwill).

A few weeks ago, I received an email from lucy activewear asking if I’d like to review some of their new products for the spring. New running clothes? For free? That are stylish? What girl could say no (even this girl that has so many running clothes they are pouring out of their cubby)? The bag of goods arrived promptly after I agreed to “give ’em a shot”- and off we went for a jog or two. Or maybe ten… since it’s been over a month since I got the package! I have definitely had a chance to run, wash, repeat with all the items that came in the minimal-packaging from the west coast.

Note for my dude readers: Not all is lost by reading this review. If you’re shopping for your mom for Mother’s Day or your girlfriend because you did something wrong, you might want to read ahead.

Here’s a little info on the stuff I got, and what I think about it-

High Hurdle Capri Skirt– These are actually somewhat hidden on lucy’s website. My first impression of a capri-with-a-skirt-over-it was: “Oy”. I (no offense intended) first associated this item with ‘something a running mom might wear’- not that such a thing is bad for me to wear, but I definitely am one to prefer sports-bra-and-low-rise-shorts running. I have gotten into wearing running skirts as of late, though, and I do like a select few pairs of capris, so I thought- what the heck. I’d at least give them a try.

The fit was quite welcoming, and I was warming up to the capri quickly. I found myself wearing the “skirpris” to work on the weekends. I felt confident wearing them, too- I felt like I was showing off my legs without actually showing too much of my legs. And the skirt was key- no way in heck I’d be wearing capri tights to work and having everyone stare at my seriously-tight-pants (wondering why I didn’t have undie-lines… or whatever they may be wondering). A sweetly located (and seriously huge) pocket on the left leg makes this a great bottom to wear in a race too (stash the gels, yo!):

I definitely pull these skirpris out on cooler mornings and evenings. Having a bit more coverage helps me get through my workouts a bit easier. Plus, I feel alright about running through town, not worrying about whether my old capris wore a hole right through the butt seam (um… don’t ask). Kudos for lucy for having a very well ventilated skirpri, that didn’t give me any weird rubbing or hot spots. The pocket is big enough to fit my digital camera (Lumix DMC-TS1). The material is lucy truetek, which is an extra durable, moisture-wicking micro-fiber jersey with high compression.

My only issue with the skirt-capri is that it rides down. I know this is probably an atypical problem- most people have issues with stuff riding up. But since I like to run commando in my running duds, I like my duds to be, well, snug. These weren’t so much. The longer I ran, the more the movement of my knees pulled the capri-part-of-the-ensemble down, and away from being snug. I never felt like the waistband was going to drop below any region that I didn’t want exposed, but I got a little annoyed by having to tug on the waistband to get them more-snuggable. Perhaps lucy knows about this issue, and that’s why the skirpris are hidden on the website?

Propel Jacket – This jacket is the cat’s meow. I wear this jacket all the time (not just when I am walk/running like the website says its ‘intended for’). It fits absolutely perfect for me, which isn’t always easy because I’m not the most femininely shaped gal out there. My shoulders are broad, my rib cage is big, but my chest is small, and my waist is lacking any shape besides flat (which I don’t consider a bad thing). I got the jacket in Grass, size small, and it looks goooood. What is my obsession with green?! 🙂

The full-length zipper on this jacket is lined with reflective fabric, which makes me a smidge safer when running at dawn and dusk. The material used for the jacket is lucy tech, which is a “heavier” (and I use that term loosely) fabric that seems to be able to withstand just about anything. The jacket really is lightweight, even though the feel of the material would make you think it should weigh a lot. Does that make any sense?

The pockets are streamlined to be hidden, but I can run with my keys in my pocket without them bouncing around a whole lot. The arm length (and this is where a lot of people are really picky about their running jackets)- are PERFECT. They are long enough to cover my hand, if I so choose, and they have a “thumb loop” which is actually a thumb-less mitten. The end of the sleeve covers my entire hand minus my thumb. Amazing. And again, the length is perfect, it doesn’t make me feel like I am stretching the jacket at all to put the mitten on, and putting my thumb through the loop is natural. If I don’t want to wear it with my thumb through the loop, the length of the sleeves are just long enough that they don’t annoy me to push them up a bit.

I wear this jacket practically everywhere. To work, to run, on the plane, at a friend’s, everywhere. And I sometimes don’t notice when I had worn it the day before and spat on myself and then wear it to a friend’s for dinner. Or maybe I do, and just don’t care enough to be separated from it long enough for it to get washed. Ok, maybe that’s a little too over the top.

Qualms with this jacket? Nada. There are no tags to bother me, the zipper doesn’t rub my chin, and the fabric is stretchy and smooth (and a great color). Love it.

Quick-Zip Tank– My first thought when pulling the QuickZip out of the bag was: “Padding? Really?” I took the bra-lining-padding out (very easily, I might add), and tried the top on. It fit – as did the other things – perfectly. I liked the “sneaky cleavage” that the top offered. It looks like there are two different pieces, and the bottom layer is peakin’ through the top, but its really all one piece. The mesh bra is smooth and not abrasive, and wicks moisture really well. The material is mostly moisture-wicking lucy tech- with a coolmax and mesh lined shelf bra.The print is cool, too- digitized print- from a distance, it looks like a pattern (maybe islander? maybe artsy?) but up close its just a bunch of squares. The length and the fit are very flattering. I like that the top comes below my hips, and it compliments the skirpris well. It isn’t super-tight below the ribs, which is also nice when I am feeling like I ate too much pizza the night before. And the support-area isn’t so tight that it makes me feel like I am getting the air squeezed out of me, but its tight enough to keep me from being uncomfortable. I like to call that “Just-tight-enough.” I definitely don’t need to wear another bra under it, the shelf bra is plenty for this 34A gal.

I think this will be a great training top for riding my bike this summer. If I didn’t already have an amazingly flashy-and-fast race top, and it had a pocket in the back- I’d consider it. I’ve worn this top on several rides under my jersey, and I haven’t noticed any issues with under-arm rubbing. I haven’t taken it out on any long runs yet, though… Maybe this weekend!

Propel Run Skort– This might very well be one of the best running skirt I’ve found. It fits so snug, doesn’t move around at all, and the liner shorts are like spandex race bottoms that are a bit longer to prevent my thighs from starting a fire by friction (13.5inch inseam!). There are pockets on both the right and left sides of the shorts under the skirt, and the right one is inverted (which is perfect for carrying gel wrappers or – in my case – an inhaler). The inverted one is actually to make this skirt usable for tennis too, but since I don’t play tennis… I will just use it for my inhaler. The left one is big enough to fit an entire EFS Liquid Shot bottle in it, which I found amazing.

The first time I tried out the skirt was the day it arrived- and it just so happened to be hill-repeat-day on Ingot Street. I trolley-la’d over to the Fairgrounds feeling pretty prim and proper. I mean, the skirt has ruffles for cripes sake! I had no idea. But, the snug fit and lightweight material made me forget quickly that I was wearing a skirt. The skirt material never hindered my stride, and I was able to rock some pretty serious sprints with it. It’s made out of something called lucy truetek™, which wicks moisture and has UPF 50. Can you tell? My skin is still see-through.

I like this skirt so much, that I ran the Salt Lake City Marathon in it. True, I didn’t have my Saucony race kit yet, but the skort was pretty flashy. I am proud to say that my inner thighs came out totally unscathed. Sweet! So light, so fast.

I didn’t even need to use them, but the Propel skirt comes with drawstrings in case the waistband needs to be tightened. Like I said, I didn’t have the skirt move on me whatsoever, so I just tuck the drawstrings inside the skirt. The material for all the lucy items that I received is smooth, wicking, and incredibly comfortable. I was hesitant to dive into their products, so I am incredibly grateful that they were willing to send me some of their new products to try out. To my relief, the stuff has held up thus far well in the washer. I even had to wash the jacket twice before wearing it, because the not-so-new washing machine didn’t quite get all the detergent off (and speckles of detergent made it look like I spat all over myself about six times. Maybe I did?). I even throw the stuff in the dryer too, set to low heat, and nothing seems to be affected. Elasticity is maintained in the skirt, the jacket still fits perfect, and the seams are all still tightly sewn up.

Their line is definitely driven with the female athlete in mind, and their product spans all levels, from entry-level jogger to yoga instructor. Although most of their items are affordable, I’m not too geeked about paying nearly $40 for a seamless racerback bra. But! I can vouch that $44 spent on the Propel Skirt is totally worth it! And 88 bucks isn’t too bad for a jacket like the Propel Jacket, considering that last year I bought a Sugoi Helium jacket (retails at $100) that is like wearing a garbage bag.

For the cost-conscious gal, lucy.com has a lot of items that are on clearance, including casual wear! They stock tunics! And the tunics are cute! Who’da thought.

AND! Get this: lucy activewear sells other stuff, not just clothes, including hydration belts! You can get the Nathan Quick Draw in the same shipment as your next bra. That’s pretty cool.

All in all, I think lucy makes a great product that can actually withstand the rough lifestyle of a competitive athlete (and still look cute). The flat-seams that all the items I received have keep the pieces fitted, but also help it have a longer life.

Disclaimer: lucy activewear sent me these items free of charge to review on my blog. I did not receive any money for this review, and I am reviewing their products honestly.

I didn't mean to coordinate..

… But I just realized that my new bike matches the colors on my website! Perfect.

I definitely hit the nail on the head when I chose the perfect shade of green on my site. My flashy, new Trakkers race kit makes me feel like I planned it all out in advanced.  Or did I? hmmm…

Dialing in the bike

I could go on and on about dialing it in. Start out conservative, get a feel for the terrain and route. Listen to your body and know when to engage and when not to. My training partners and I do a lot of “dialing in”- especially when we do hill repeats and k-repeats on the track. My old cross country coach used to heed us warning with Lahti repeats: “Just dial the first one in … (and give’r on the last five)”.

But today, I’m talking about a different kind of dialing: Dialing in the bike. I know only a little about sports physiology*, and I can’t really coach you to having the best race strategy or even training philosophy. I do, however, know quite a bit about sports mechanics. Dialing in your gear is just as important as dialing in your mental psyche. Having a good bike fit is key to having your bike dialed in. Poor mechanics can translate into poor efficiency, poor alignment, and put one at a higher risk for getting injured.

Last year, I went to ProFit Bikes in Sylvan Lake, Michigan (inside Peak Performance), to get my QRoo Caliente fit for me. Prior to the fit, I had ridden it on the trainer once or twice, very uncomfortably, and took it to the road once. The road ride was a complete disaster, as halfway through the ride the aerobars shook loose, and about a mile from home my saddle fell completely off. There’s nothing quite like stopping at a four-way stop to feel your saddle fall out from beneath you.

Ok, before I get too deep into this: Yes, you can adjust your bike all by yourself. Everyone at least has an idea about what is comfortable for them. If your hip hurts on one side, your saddle might be too high and you might want to drop your seat post a smidge. If your neck hurts when your on an hour-long road ride, you might be too stretched out and want to try a shorter stem. Whatever the case may be, using your best judgment to get the bike to where you feel good is key. However (here’s the caveat), if you want to get the most power and advantage out of your bike (or rather, out of your body), you really should consider getting a professional bike fit. The biggest thing I got out of having my bike fit: I used the fit basically as my first step (soon after the new bike arrived, especially since it was my first ever triathlon bike, I had itpro-fit to me alleviated the headaches of small tweaking that would have come with small self adjustments).

So, I got the new triathlon bike. I had never had one before. I had no idea what was a good position and what was bad. Baberaham would watch me on the trainer before we went for our fit and say: “You need to raise the seat a smidge, your knee is less than 90 degrees” (as my knee ached and I felt my menisci extrude- not really) or “you might want to pull your aerobars back a bit, you look a little stretched” (as my neck craned and my trapezoids cramped up). But, the actual dialing part came when I went and saw Chad at ProFit.

He set me up on my QRoo (on the trainer) and used videography to map out my time-zero fit. It was obvious there were issues, but we had to start somewhere. He asked me what my goals were (comfort first, and then the best aerodynamics I could get with that comfort level- hey, I was training for a long course!) and made a few changes from there. A few hours later, I watched myself on the screen and felt like I was watching Ironman Hawaii on NBC. I looked good. But most importantly, I felt so comfortable. No tightness anywhere. My legs felt strong and I felt power pushing the pedal throughout the entire stroke. I felt my weight being supported by my elbows and not my shoulders, and I didn’t feel like I was crushing my lady-parts with the nose of my saddle (a serious issue I have had for my entire biking career). He wrote down my measurements and handed them off to me for safe keeping (luckily he kept a copy himself, as I am known to lose things).

Jump forward several months: I had raced IMWI, felt strong and comfortable the entire 112 miles (and passed a lot of dudes, I might add), and spent significant time on the saddle. But I sold the QRoo frame pre-season in hopes of getting my hands on a flashy and fast Kestrel 4000 LTD frame. A month goes by, no word on when I’ll be getting the frame. No biggie, I could get a road bike to spin on. Another month goes by,… and another… and then its March, and I hear through the grapevine that my beloved 4000 will not be released in my size until August. Dragging my feet around town, I am at a loss of what to do. Do I call the guy I sold my QRoo to and ask for it back? No. Should I get a Guru because it will fit me out of the box? Hmm… nah. Luckily, my LBS dudes are the best, and they found me a deal on a Scott Plasma Contessa. Since it was the bike I had originally wanted in 2009 (but couldn’t get because they were sold out stateside), I felt good about the purchase.

But there’s a problem. See, the Contessa isn’t the bike that I was fit on. It’s heavier (albeit sturdier, and faster once it gets rolling) and the bike just feels different. It came with different bars, a longer stem, a different saddle. Worse than that, there’s a seat mast- not a seat post. Uh, crap.

Luckily I had the measurements that Chad gave me. B and I set up the bike to the best we could, but cutting off the seat mast with a hacksaw is only so accurate (and nerve-wrecking; it’s very nerve-wrecking, that is when you’re dealing with several thousands of dollars worth of carbon). Granted, the Plasma came with a handy cutting tool that aligns the saw up perfectly with the mast so there are no uneven cuts, but there is also no room for error (in cutting it too short)…

We got within a quarter of an inch for the length between the bottom bracket and the middle of the seat that Chad had written on my cheat-sheet. That’s close enough, right?

Not right. I went out for a spin and felt – uncoordinated. I couldn’t get into aero position for the life of me. I was going to fast, but I couldn’t go any slower or else I’d fall off my bike. My toes were pointed and my neck hurt for days afterward. I had to get on my pursuit bars to change gears, and eventually I just gave up altogether and sat up the last ten miles. I learned something I didn’t want to ever know about a tri bike: extra tape on the pursuit bars makes them more comfortable.

Had I forgotten how to ride a tri bike in just four months? Really?! Why did I feel like I could fall over at any minute, and why do the sides of my shins ache so bad?!

Seriously? this makes all the difference

Well, simply, the bike wasn’t dialed. I got back home and put the bike in the rack, riding my road bike for the next few outings. Was I scared of my tri bike? You bet. Did I want to ride my tri bike? Not one bit.

This was a serious problem. So serious, that a week later, B shaved off less than quarter of an inch from my seat mast. What the heck could that possibly do?

Well- It brought a smile to my face. I took the Plasma out to McLain and back, and sat aero the whole way. I felt in control. My feet were pushing through and powering me forward at the bottom of each stroke. My cadence was high and I felt strong. I could feel my weight through my elbows. I could change gears from my aero bars.

Welcome back, aero position! Seriously, riding aero is necessary in the Keweenaw when you head out by yourself (20-30mph winds are not always easy-peezy to ride through). Now, I just want to ride the Plasma all the time! Hopefully I get over this Funk that I got when I was in SLC (cough, sore throat, etc)… only two weeks until Rev3!

Speaking of Rev3– want to meet up in Tennessee? I will be racing the Olympic distance tri on Mother’s Day, but I’ll be in Knoxville all weekend. Find me at the Trakkers Booth on Saturday! If you’re not already signed up, get on it! Get $10 off using my code: trakkers118 . Registration for the Knoxville races closes on April 30th.

Utah or bust: Day 4- Ibex

Our last full day in Utah was spent in the desert, about three hours southwest of SLC in a place known as Ibex. It was quite an interesting trip. We shot some guns, drove fast across the lake beds, and climbed around. Rather, I hobbled around and tried to run across the lake, without any success whatsoever (DOMS, anyone?).

Here’s some photos that can do the trip more justice than my words:

Driving to the lake bed and ripping it up

Finding the next best send

Shootin the car

My new best friend

B rockin

Sand dune festivities

Getting the good views

Shooting more stuff, this time- its chips.

We left on Day 5. We went up Big Cottonwood before heading to the Red Iguana for lunch and a mohito. This was quite possibly the best food-cation I’ve ever had. Never once was I plagued with a “oh what will I eat off the salad menu” ordeal because of my gfree diet. The Red Iguana was interesting. It was in a not-as-fancy side of town (I’ll leave it at that) and it seemed like kind of a hole in the wall, but I guess all the best places do! I ordered a mohito, and it was sweet and minty but not overpowering whatsoever. Perfect balance of lime and mint. Foodwise- I ordered the enchiladas suizas, which were made with avocado and sour cream chicken and (mmmm….)mole. Seriously, this was the most delicious mole I have ever tasted. I wanted to cry because I couldn’t eat the entire helping (but I made Marc take it home because it was just too good to throw away). The mole was nutty, cocoa-y, and smooth. Didn’t taste burnt or sugary, just savor-flavor inside my mouth. Amazing. Best way to leave the city.

Best. Mexifood. Ever.

Salt Lake or Bust: Race Day Extras

Race day went just as planned. I had a great night’s sleep, a good breakfast, no stomach issues at all. It was moderately stressful having to drive Nancy (Marc’s truck) to the race start, but I managed. I felt great during the whole race. Weaving in and out of people, running faster and faster… my feet were happy and my energy levels were well maintained. I decided to lay down the hammer at mile 20, and the last six miles were practically all faster than the rest*.

After the race, B and I hobbled around the parking lot, and eventually Marc found us and took us back to his house so we could shower. We rolled out to Kathmandu, an Indian and Nepali restaurant that Marc’s roommate heavily recommended. Joyous praise to Jimmy was made when we arrived to the Nepali buffet with 15min to spare. As I am typically adamently opposed to buffets, especially those of the American or Chinese variety, I was very impressed with Kathmandu’s feast. They had tandoori, as well as papadom, aloo ko achar, boti, and korma. My favorite was the chicken korma, and my first helping didn’t have any of the big chunks of chicken in it (go figure, I didn’t dig the spoon deep enough into the pot!). It was sooo good.

Chicken korma on basmati rice at Kathmandu

After lunch we stopped by a State Liquor Store, because the only place to purchase booze in Utah is at a designated state-run liquor store. Oddly enough, these stores do not sell other items, such as Coca-Cola or Snickers, so I was a bit disappointed, but I found a bottle of whiskey that probably didn’t need any help from secondary items.

High West Rendevous Rye Whiskey, distilled in Park City

E loves champagne.

It wasnt all that difficult to fall asleep. My legs were sore and my eyes were tired. I had a small glass of whiskey and hit the sack.

*practically all… one mile was a little slower, as it was mostly all up hill (and quite a long, steep uphill, I might add)

Salt Lake or Bust: Day 2

Marc was nice enough to let us stay at his place while we were in town, and B and I got to sleep in a nice, clean, comfy bed. I had stayed at Marc’s place before, but he lived in the smaller off-the-back one-room shack before (on our Napa trip). The first morning we were there, we met at The Park Cafe, across the street from Liberty Park. One awesome thing about SLC is the quality of parks they have. Liberty Park was part of the marathon course, near the end (maybe around mile 23?) and it offered a beautiful view of a lake and greenspace. Running through the park also made me crave Day 2’s breakfast of Michigan Hash.

Find the Michigan Hash

The Cafe had big helpings, the best bacon I’ve ever had, and bottomless coffee. It is actually not-so-easy to get coffee in SLC (I believe that Mormons, who are a heavy proportion of SLC’s population, are “not allowed” to drink hot caffeinated beverages). The atmosphere was very eclectic, and unfortunately I chickened out of taking a picture of a dude with a ‘stache and tight-rolled pants. He had it goin’ on.

Art on the wall at the Park Cafe

After breakfast, we went on a scavenger hunt to find the warehouse building we spotted the night before. What’s in this warehouse, you might ask? Well… Salt water taffy. When we saw it, we couldn’t NOT go. It was a little creepy, walking into the Taffy shop, with the creepy toy-Jack-in-a-Box music playing, but we got over it quickly and filled up bags with gummy bears and salt water taffy. I even bought my runnin’ buddy Marg some licorice, only to find out that it was made in Michigan (go figure). The gummy bears were quite delicious, though- nothing quite compares to freshly made, gooey gummies. There’s a big difference, and the fact that we got to pick what flavors when in our mix (because all the gummies were separated in bins based on flavor) was awesome. No coconut flavored gummies for me…

TA DA!

We went on a do-it-ourselves tour of the Latter Day Saints Temple grounds, and bypassed the many women walking around with nametags and clipboards. The grounds were beautiful, and the buildings were magnificent. The little gold dude on the top of the temple is Angel Moroni, who was believed to direct Mormon prophet Joseph Smith to the golden plates in the 1820s.

The Temple grounds are a significant portion of SLC’s downtown, and the castle-like buildings stand next to modern sky-scraper buildings.

After the Temple and seeing what I called Space Jesus (a big statue of Jesus on the top floor of the visitor’s center, surrounded by a mural of stars and planets), we went to the expo and got our race packets, and then made our way back to Marc’s. Erik headed back out to do some more bouldering for the afternoon, and M, B, and I went for a little jog. My legs were a little sore, especially my quads, and I was a little weazy… but I felt good otherwise. We had dinner at Marc’s, and Adam and I dug into some Annie’s gluten free mac-and-cheese from a box. Classy? Not really. but delicious! I was in bed by 930pm.

Salt Lake or Bust: Day 1

As many of you know (as was emphasized in my last post), Baberaham and I ventured to Salt Lake City, Utah, to knock Utah off my list and his first open marathon off his. Since it’s always better to kill two birds with one stone, I picked SLC because my old pseudo-roommate Marc lives there. Marc and I ran our first-ever marathons together, and little did he know what he was getting himself into. Since Napa in ’07, Marc and I have met up practically every year, and SLC was our third road marathon/half that we signed up for together (sort of).

My other old pseudo-roomie, Erik, headed down from Bozeman, Montana, to meet up with us. Although he’s not exactly a fan of running, he is a fan of Utah’s climbing and roomie reunions. He picked us up from the airport and immediately took us to his favorite food joint, Barbacoa’s. It was quite tasty, and I was lucky enough to find a bike shop next door that sold EFS Liquid Shot (since I wasn’t able to bring my big bottle along). Sha-wing. When Marc was done with his afternoon exam, the four of us ventured out into the wilderness. What better way to explore SLC than by heading to Little Cottonwood for some bouldering festivities. We stopped at a Sev (one of a bajillion 7-11s in SLC) on the way and grabbed a Slurpie and some snacks.

Erik bouldering in Little Cottonwood

Neither B nor I brought our climbing shoes, and I was kicking myself. But, like always, I enjoyed watching Erik and Marc climb. I was also the videographer for the weekend. Luckily, Erik can do good work with video, and I’m looking forward to what he puts together.  Here’s a little recap with some cool photos that you can check out on his blog, Bouldering Montana.

More EC being BA in LC.

After watching a few serious sends*, I tried to keep hydrated to minimize the altitude effects. Chug chug chug, slurpie style. Here’s some more flashy sights from our sweet trip to Little Cottonwood:

E getting creative on his downclimb

M sending

That evening, the four of us headed out for some great Thai cuisine at Chanon Thai Cafe. On the way, we passed a crazy warehouse place called Taffy Town, and I knew we’d be hitting that up at a later time. It is quite possible that Chanon had the best curry I’ve ever tasted before in my life, and I didn’t even order it. Delicious, and great food to end a great first day in Utah.

*Send: verb– to unfaulteringly climb to the top of a boulder route.

Salt Lake City Marathon Race Review

Temperature: 49F at the start, 63F at the finish
Weather: Sunny, 0-6mph winds (calm)
Participants: 5733 half marathoners and marathoners (71 of which were early starters, taking off at 6:15am)

Saturday – Expo: The expo was big and easy to find, although finding parking was a little tricky. Erik did hot laps around the block until we were done getting our race packets. The race shirts are nice, technical short sleeves that are fitted. I got a kid’s sized shirt which I appreciated. The rest of our race packet was lacking in the free-goodies-area, which some people count as a big factor for race quality. I didn’t care too much, but I could have done without all the flyers (I didn’t really look at them; I just threw them away).

Night-before meal: Gluten free Annie’s Mac and Cheese! Lots of Nuun to make sure the altitude didn’t effect me much.

Sunday- Start time: 7am.

Pre-race fuel: Couple handfuls of Peanut Butter Panda Puffs, and then one scoop First Endurance PreRace and 1scoop EFS (Grape) in 20 ounces of water ~45min before start.

Baberaham and I drove Marc’s truck to the U and parked in an engineering lot, about 200yds from the start line. We were right next to a porta potty, which was awesome because there were no long lines (it was like our ‘secret’ spot). We headed over to the start area around 6:30 to drop off our gear bags and make one last porta-potty-stop, but the lines were tremendously long for the loo. I waited in line while Baberaham dropped off both our bags, and when he returned I hadn’t made any progress on the loo-line-advancement. So, without further hesitation, we headed for a tree on the far side of the field.

We made our way with 12minutes to the start The race start was crowded, but it was our own fault for not starting a bit closer to the starting line. We walked to get across the mats and our first mile was a lot of weaving in and out of people run/walking. I expected this, because the race was a half marathon/full marathon start, but I didn’t want to lose Adam along the way. Luckily, he tucked in well behind me as we made our way through the crowds.

The course was beautiful. The Wasatch mountains were seemingly always on the horizon, and the sun was only directly ahead of us for a few miles. We ran through a few parks, including the Sugarhouse Park (from the photo below) and Liberty Park.

Unfortunately, the race route layout was not the best. At mile 5, the marathon and half split, and I felt relieved because we were no longer involved in the R.R.C.F. that was nearly 6,000 runners. I followed the other marathoners through beautiful Sugarhouse Park for a mile or two, but then I saw the stream of half marathoners ahead. We reconnected with the rest of the runners, except instead of being up to pace with the runners we left at the split, we were running with those who were two miles behind us before the split. That brought on a bit of anxiety for me, and I tried to contain it because I didn’t want to be a Negative Nancy with Adam by my side running his first marathon. We weaved our way once again through the runners, and then split off again for good. Once we were alone on the course, it was smooth sailing… until the last 3 or 4 miles…

I was glad I brought along a bottle of EFS Liquid Shot (found it at the Canyon Bicycles) on the race, as this served as my only nutrition aside from an orange slice around mile 19. It fit great in one of my Lucy Propel Run Skort pockets (and my inhaler fit in the other pocket). I finished my entire flask of Liquid Shot before mile 18, and was a little worried that the lack of food along the course would cause me energy-issues. I had Powerade at one of the aid stations around mile 18, but this made my stomach want to turn a little, so I continued drinking water. Luckily, I didn’t feel any bonk, and actually picked up the pace quite a bit toward the end, even with the uphill near the finish. This was probably the first marathon I have ever done where I felt great at the end, energy-wise and biomechanically. I think part of my good-feeling groove came from my caffeination boost with Pre-Race and my sustained energy with Liquid Shot. Running a 30-miler a few weeks before the marathon helped, too. I think I have my nutrition dialed now, at least it seemed like it on race day.

The solid-food nutrition provided by the race was pretty bleak. There were no gels, oranges, or any food available for the half or full marathoners. Some spectators had set up their own tables with oranges and other nutrition (including TEQUILA! at mile 20!), but the solid-food nutrition provided by the race was nil. Marc wanted orange slices. I have to admit, I wanted orange slices, too.

The race finish was crowded. I was disappointed that the half marathon walkers were finishing when the marathon runners were, especially when I reached the cobblestone street that was 6-8ft wide. There was a lot of leaping and maneuvering that was not necessary if the finish chute were only a few yards wider.

It would have helped if the half and the full had pacers, or at least corrals where folks could start with others who are running the same pace. Also, the first half marathon/marathon split should be removed. That was a pain because it was too crowded when we reconnected, and we were running with people much slower pace than we wanted to be running with. So we had to re-weave our way through the slower crowds; very much a pain.

Gear bag retrieval was quite a pain in the neck for a lot of people. Half marathoners were in a really long line, but Baberaham and I cut in without anyone noticing and grabbed our bags from along the railing within fifteen minutes. The bags were apparently all dumped together, half and full racers, so the organization was a little difficult. Plus they organized bags based on last name, and we didn’t put our last name on our bags (only race numbers), so the volunteers couldn’t organize them. Fortunately, not many people put just their numbers on their bags, so riffling through other bags to find ours was not difficult.

Trax was closed, so Marc and Sarah had a difficult time getting back to their car to come back to get us. We didn’t plan that out very well. We should have parked one car at the finish, and one car at the start, that way it wouldn’t have been such a shit-show to get home afterward.

All in all, it was a good race with a beautiful course and lots of racers. I didn’t really like how the start was organized (or lacked organization, I guess). Salt Lake City was not my favorite marathon I’ve done, but it has a lot of potential to improve. This was its 7th year. It is tricky, because I thought- organization-wise- the race was fairly great. There were plenty of aid stations, volunteers, and helpers at the finish line. It was the course layout and quality of aid stations that was poor. I saw so many people wearing hydration packs and I know why now (not that I thought I needed to carry 50ounces of fluid).

What I wore: Saucony ProGrid Guide 3’s, Saucony Women’s Speed Short Sleeve (and Speed long sleeve that was shedded in the first mile!), Patagonia Active Sport High Impact bra, and Lucy Activewear Propel Run Skort