Race Reports

  • Team Alchemy's Nicole Chyr Takes 3rd at the Greenland Trail 25K

    This past weekend Team Alchemy's Nicole Chyr toed the line in what was an incredibly deep field at the Greenland 25K. With a weather warning from the Race Director which included temperatures in the 80's and a strong Southerly wind, not to mention a course that basically goes straight up and straight down, "challenging" would be a bit of an understatement!

    Running this race for her second time, Nicole felt more prepared for this year's race by carrying a water bottle of her own to make up for the fact that there are only two aid stations. Wisely deciding to race her own race early on, Nicole was racing with her eye on this year's Colfax Marathon (which she won last year!). Even while coming off a bit of an injury and being relatively conservative, Nicole ran her way to a two minute course PR and third place!

    Next up for Nicole is the aforementioned Colfax Marathon where she'll be defending her title!

  • How to Run the Boston Marathon 2012: Part IV

    BY:

    Mark Cucuzzella MD, Professor West Virginia University School of Medicine, LtCol US Air Force
    2006 and 2011 Air Force Marathon Champion and Air Force Marathon Team Member since 1988

    Now a few extra ways to get from start to finish quicker on the same gallon. 

    • If you can add a little gas along the way then you can go more into gas mode.  This works a little at best.  If running too fast you shunt all blood to working muscles and nothing digests.  If you are in hybrid the early going you can continually add fuel- the key is not only the correct fuel, but the right pace.  A Powergel every 25 minutes is easy to digest and tops off the tank.  Carry them with you at the start.  The weight is nothing compared to the benefit you will get.  If you do the gels then you can drink water instead of the energy drinks which are often less predictable on the run. Boston has a Powergel station at Mile 17.  Carry 4 at the start (one every 4 miles or so) and reload at mile 17.
    • Maintain effort on uphills.  Your pace will slow. You can easily use all your gas here if your effort increases.  Shorten your stride, relax, and use your arms.  Then allow gravity to take you down. Do not over reach and heel hit on the down hills- remember run over the ground not into the ground. If it is windy get behind a group.  This can save lots of physical and mental energy.
    • If you are having a “bad patch” – try to refocus on relaxing, fuel a bit (sometimes a blood glucose drop triggers the sense of doom), and have faith in your training and race plan.  Another nice trick is when you hit mile 21 it is not 5 miles to go, it is 4 and change. Mile 22 is 3 and change to go.
    • Do not over drink water. This can lead to a dangerous condition called hypontremia.

    The fun of the marathon is that we are always learning and enjoying the adventure of it.  I’ve done over 70 marathons now with a couple under 2:25 in my younger years.  We learn from experience, taking chances, and occasional failures. My first marathon was the 1988 Marine Corps was 2:34, when I could run about 30 minutes for 10 k.  24 years later I hope to get near this time again and my current 10k is about 35 minutes (2011 Boston was 2:37.00).   I’ve learned a few things in 20 plus years on how to train and race efficiently and economically, but still there are uncertainties every time you line up.  So relax, taper up, and seize the day.

    I’d like to especially thank all the Armed Forces Members around the world who sacrifice daily in the service of their country and for all the volunteers who make the Boston Marathon a Patriot’s Day celebration.  May the wind be at your back, like 2011!

    (Click here to read part 1)

    (Click here to read part 2)

    (Click here to read part 3)

  • How to Run the Boston Marathon 2012: Part III

    BY:

    Mark Cucuzzella MD, Professor West Virginia University School of Medicine, LtCol US Air Force
    2006 and 2011 Air Force Marathon Champion and Air Force Marathon Team Member since 1988

    So how do you know you are running in your best hybrid mode? 

    This is difficult because the sense at this level (Aerobic Threshold) is not as profound as Lactate Threshold (or Anaerobic Threshhold).  A slight increase from your optimal pace will switch you from hybrid to all gas without you realizing it, and the effects are felt miles later. Charging up hills early will tap your gas quickly.  If you want to speed up early....DON’T. Relax and maintain effort, not speed.  You should feel easy in the early stages, it is a marathon.

    You must rehearse a bit in training.  I focus on relaxation and breathing.  If I’m breathing one cycle to 5 steps, then I’m hybrid.  If I’m breathing faster I’m using mostly glucose as fuel.  Belly breathe- allow lower belly to blow up like a beach ball on inhalation and pull your belly button back to your spine on exhalation.  Then you will fill the lower lung areas where oxygen exchange occurs. Notice the breathing efforts of those around you and many are rapid breathing- they tend to suffer somewhere past half way.  Rehearse complete relaxation from the top down- eyes, jaw, shoulders, allow your legs to relax and extend behind you, relax and soften your knees and ankles.  Find you own cue for this.  If you use the Heart Rate Monitor in training strongly consider one during the event.

    In a marathon, the last 3-4 miles you will be mostly gas to maintain the same speed as fatigue sets in and heart rate rises.  The breathing is usually on a 3 to 4 steps per breath cycle- that is OK.  Still stay relaxed and use the cues that you have rehearsed to keep your form. Speed up only when you can “smell the barn”, this occurs when you see the Citgo sign (Mile 23).

    Land softly, especially on the early downhills.  I run with a forefoot/midfoot landing harnessing elastic recoil. Focus on posture and hip extension. Use a slight forward lean from the ankles (think “face forward” and look ahead).  I’m never sore after marathons now and feel I can keep doing them until I enter the retirement home. I won the Air Force Marathon in 2:38 four weeks ago and feel fine now for another effort.  With good form it is “No pain…thank you”.

    Your shoes matter too.  Make strong consideration to not running in minimalist racers unless you have trained substantially in them and adapted your structure to a natural barefoot style gait. I advocate gradually adapting all of your training into more minimal and level shoes.   If you relax your lower legs and load the springy tendons in your feet and Achilles, these shoes with no heel elevation put you in perfect position to allow natural elastic recoil of plantar fascia, Achilles, calf muscles, and hip flexors.  New research and runner’s experience is now making the case for running with a more efficient stride and questions modern running footwear. The evolving world of modern sports medicine is going back to the future too and rediscovering what evolution has taught us.  My shoe for the last 3 years at this race has been the Newton Distance.  A fast and efficient shoe for those who have worked on form.  For a library of information of footwear, running form, and biomechanics visit our website at The Natural Running Center( http://naturalrunningcenter.com). You can view lots of minimalist shoe information on http://www.tworiverstreads.com

    Tomorrow: Now a few extra ways to get from start to finish quicker on the same gallon.  

    (Click here to read part 1)

    (Click here to read part 2)

  • How to Run the Boston Marathon 2012: Part II

    BY:

    Mark Cucuzzella MD, Professor West Virginia University School of Medicine, LtCol US Air Force
    2006 and 2011 Air Force Marathon Champion and Air Force Marathon Team Member since 1988

    So how does this apply to you in your Boston Marathon, whether you are going to run 2:20 or 4 hours plus?

    As you enter the weeks prior to the race here are a few strategies to help you set your plan.  Running your best marathon is part art, science, guts, faith in what you can do, and a little luck.  Running your best 10k is mostly about fitness. The best analogy I can think of is this: if you have trained your body properly with the right mix of aerobic level training and some up tempo stuff in recent weeks, you have built your efficient hybrid engine ready to race the marathon.  Many of you have driven in a Prius and watched the subtle shifts between gas and electric on the screen.  You do not perceive these shifts. Your engine(muscles) runs on a mixture of gas and electric, and how much of each depends on the effort.  This is why slow aerobic training is critical for marathon success, you build a massive electric engine.

    You are starting the race with one gallon in the tank- assuming you have eaten a nice meal the night before with a breakfast top off.

    • If you are in all gas mode, your engine will run about 1.5 hours at a strong pace….then you are out of gas.
    • If you are mostly electric you can run all day, but maybe not so quickly.
    • If you are using the proper mix you will go quick and efficient for duration of your event, and you can even do some topping off along the way.

    The glucose utilizing pathway (glycolysis for the science folks) is the gas. This is your stored liver/muscle glycogen and blood glucose (pasta meal and breakfast) – easy to access for ready energy.  The fat utilizing pathway (gluconeogenesis for the science folks)  is the electric.  In marathons you must be in hybrid the entire race.  Hybrid is where your energy (ATP) is coming from both sources.

    Many runners are in great “10k shape” (an all gas event), then run their marathon in the gas mode- and usually crash.  Glycogen sparing strategy need not apply in races of less than an hour as long as you had a good pre-event meal to fill the tank. In marathons and ultras- top end fitness matters little and can only be applied very near the finish. Glucose gives 36 ATP per molecule, fat 460 ATP per molecule.  You must tap into the fat burning tank. Now you know how a bird can migrate 7000 miles without a Powerbar.

    Tomorrow:  So how do you know you are running in your best hybrid mode

    (Click here to read part 1)

  • How to Run the Boston Marathon 2012: Part I

    BY:

    Mark Cucuzzella MD, Professor West Virginia University School of Medicine, LtCol US Air Force
    2006 and 2011 Air Force Marathon Champion and Air Force Marathon Team Member since 1988

    I’ve had the pleasure of running the Boston Marathon 18 times with a string now of 10 consecutive.  My only misses were for military and work duties and a foot surgery.  In all these efforts had 5 under 2:30, 6 between 2:30 and 2:35; 3 between 2:35 and 2:40; 3 between 2:40-2:44; and one DNF (my first one in 1989 with all the rookie mistakes J ). My best learning experiences were when the men and women started together and I had the privilege of running alongside and witnessing the patient approach and incredibly efficient running  of the top ladies.

    In the 1998  Fatuma Roba, the Marathon Gold Medalist in Atlanta and 3 time Boston winner, scooted over the ground with an incredibly efficient motion.  She hydroplaned along the ground, hips extending, arms relaxed, and face always relaxed.  She stayed out of trouble by tucking behind the lead pack of more aggressive ladies.  I followed behind the train and we hit half way in about 1:13.  Fatuma then opened her stride up in the second half moving away from all of us to run a 2:23.  An amazing second half effort.  I was pleased with a 2:27 that day and credit Fatuma as any thoughts to go faster sooner were mitigated by her patience.

    A few years later in 2001 I witnessed multiple world champion and Boston winner Catherine “the Great” Ndereba employ the same strategy.  Her light springy stride and complete relaxation of effort were a contrast to other ladies in the pack who’s body language and breathing displayed they were putting out more energy than Katherine.  As a group we hit the half in 1:14.  Katherine kept relaxed down the last set of downhill during mile 17 then tightened the screws with a huge acceleration over the Newton hills, running a 50 minute last 10 miles for a 2:24.  Katherine helped my day.  By cueing off her pacing and relaxation I ran an  even race and finished in 2:29.

    The other runner who taught me to have fun out there was the legendary 3 time Boston winner Uta Pippig of Germany.  In 1997 I ran with her until she dropped me at Cleveland Circle mile 22.  The crowds loved Uta and the noise escalated as she approached.  She smiled the whole way.  Maybe this was her cue to relax, feed off the crowd’s energy, and have fun in the moment. In marathoning you must be present in the moment; not thinking about how far you have to go,  what you may feel like later, wondering if you are going to slow down, fearing  the wall is coming.  Uta ran a strong fourth place that day in 2:28 and I finished a few strides back in 2:29. She is an example of how our brains govern our effort....when we are positive it flows.

    All of these ladies made sure to get their fluid and nutrition at all stops. The few extra seconds used here paid dividends down the road.  They ran over the road not into the road, especially on the downhills…you could hardly hear them land as they did not employ hard heel striking technique.  Their posture was tall and their arms always relaxed.  But most vital was their efficient energy conservation and utilization strategy.

    Tomorrow: So how does this apply to you in your Boston Marathon, whether you are going to run 2:20 or 4 hours plus?

  • Race Report: Rachel Joyce, Abu Dhabi International Triathlon

    Photo

    My 2012 season officially had lift off on the 3 March at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon. With it's unique racing format (3km swim: 200km bike: 20 km run) and location (you get to ride on the Yas Marina grand prix circuit) its an early season race that attracts a top notch field.

    I went into the race with a good block of training under my belt after spending 7 weeks on the Spanish Canary Islands. I wanted to race well and to use it as a build for Ironman Melbourne three weeks later.

    My race got off to a decent start. I was swimming comfortably with the front pack, with über swimmer Jodie Swallow gaining a two minute advantage off the front. Onto the bike I felt good and rode the first 40 km comfortably in a group of three until Caroline Steffan put a surge in and dropped me and fellow Brit, Emma Kate Lidbury on the Yas circuit. I didn't panic and kept to my pace. Two hundred kilometers is a long way and I didn't want to expend too much energy too soon!

    At one point the TV crew pulled up next to me on amotorbike and started to try and conduct an interview. "How was I feeling?", "Was I suffering in the heat?".. Now, I didn't want to appear uncooperative but I was in a race and putting some effort into the bike so I probably wasn't at my most chatty :).

    At about the 100km mark the chasing pack caught me. In retrospect I wish I'd at least

    Photo

    attempted to go with them, but I didn't and over the next 80km they built quite a gap. I felt a little frustrated with myself going into T2 but I'd already resolved that's I was going to give it what for on the run. It was a pleasure to put my new Newton Distance light weight running shoes on and head out not the run. I let my legs come to me and I felt good. I focused on keeping my turnover high and just ran as hard as I could. Although the women ahead had a good head start no race is over till you cross the finish line! Starting the run I was in 7th place and I ran into 5th. Yes, I'm a little disappointed with my overall result but take big positives from my running the fastest in split of the day (1.11:53 for 20km), and setting a new run course record (oh, and 6th fastest run overall :) ).

    I'm now in Melbourne putting in my final preparation for Ironman Melbourne on 25 March. It's all set to be another fantastic day of racing with a really stacked field. I can't wait!

  • Semper Fly: How to Go Fast in the Marine Corps Marathon 2011

    by Natural Running Guru, Mark Cucuzzella MD FAAFP, lovingly reposted from The Natural Running Center

    As a Lt Col in the U.S. Air Force, I have been an Air Force Marathon Team Member since 1988. This will be my 20th Marine Corps Marathon with two Masters wins and two top-five overall finishes. This Sunday, I will be competing again in the Marine Corps 26.2-mile race which is held in D.C.

    While I will be speaking on Barefoot Running Style at the AMAA Sports Medicine Symposium the day before,  please allow me to share some of my own training and racing experience, and perhaps you too can follow some of these recommendation as you prepare for your own race. wherever or whenever that happens to be.

    As you enter the week prior to the race here are a few visualizations to help you set your plan.  Running your bestmarathon is part art, science, guts, faith in what you can do, and a little luck.  Running your best 10k is mostly about fitness. The best analogy I can think of is this: if you have trained your body properly with the right mix of aerobic level training and some up tempo stuff in recent weeks, you have built your efficient hybrid engine ready to race the marathon.  Many of you have driven in a Prius and watch the subtle shifts between gas and electric on the screen.  You do not perceive these shifts. Your engine runs on gas, electric, or a mix- depending on the effort.

    You are starting the race with one gallon in the tank- assuming you have eaten a nice meal the night before with a breakfast top off.

    • If you are in all gas mode, your engine will run about 1.5 hours at a strong pace….then you are out of gas.
    • If you are mostly electric you can run all day, but maybe maybe not so quickly.
    • If you are using the proper mix you will go quick and efficient for duration of your event, and you can even do some topping off along the way.

    The glucose utilizing pathway is the gas. This is your stored glycogen and blood glucose (pasta meal and breakfast) – easy to access for ready energy.  The fat utilizing pathway is the electric.  In marathons you must be in hybrid until the last few miles.  Hybrid is where your energy  is coming from both sources.

    Many runners are in great “10k shape” (an all gas event), then run their marathon in the gas mode- and usually crash.  Glycogen sparing strategy need not apply in races of less than an hour as long as you had a good pre-event meal to fill the tank. In marathons and ultras- top end fitness matters little and can only be applied very near the finish. Glucose gives 36 ATP per molecule, fat 460 ATP per molecule.  You must tap into the fat burning tank. Now you know how a bird can migrate 7000 miles without an energy bar.

    So how do you know you are running in your best hybrid mode?

    This is difficult because the sense is not as profound as aerobic/anaerobic.  A slight increase from your optimal pace will switch you from hybrid to all gas without you realizing it, and the effects are felt miles later. Charging up hills early will tap your gas quickly.  If you want to speed up early…don’t. Relax and maintain effort, not speed.

    You must rehearse a bit in training.  I focus on relaxation and breathing.  If I’m breathing one cycle to 5 steps, then I’m hybrid.  If I’m breathing faster I’m using mostly glucose as fuel.  Belly breathe- allow lower belly to blow up like a beach ball on inhalation and pull your belly button back to your spine on exhalation.  Then you will fill the lower lung areas where oxygen exchange occurs. Notice the breathing efforts of those around you and many are rapid breathing- they tend to suffer somewhere past half way.  Rehearse complete relaxation from the top down- eyes, jaw, shoulders, allow your legs to relax and extend behind you, relax and soften your knees and ankles.  Find you own cue for this.  If you use the Heart Rate Monitor in training strongly consider one during the event.

    In a marathon, the last 3-4 miles you will be all gas to maintain the same speed as fatigue sets in.  The breathing is usually on a 3 to 4 steps per breath cycle- that is OK.  Still stay relaxed and use the cues that you have rehearsed to keep your form. Your heart rate is higher now.  Speed up only when you can “smell the barn”, maybe after 20 miles.

    Land softly, especially on the early downhills.  I run with a forefoot/midfoot landing harnessing elastic recoil. Focus on posture and hip extension. Use a slight forward lean from the ankles.  I’m never sore after marathons now and feel I can keep doing them until I enter the retirement home. I won the Air Force Marathon in 2:38 four weeks ago and feel fine now for another effort.  With good form it is “No pain…thank you”.

    Your shoes matter too.  I will be running in the zero-drop Newton MV2, which I wore with comfort and success at the Air force Marathon. Not that you are going to change your shoes in the next day based on my advice, but make strong consideration to not running in minimalist racing flats, unless you have trained substantially in them and adapted to a natural barefoot style gait. I advocate gradually adapting all of your training in the more minimal and level shoes.   If you relax your lower legs and load the springy tendons in your feet and Achilles, then these shoes with no heel elevation put you in perfect position to allow natural elastic recoil of plantar fascia, Achilles, calf muscles, and hip flexors.

    New research and runner’s experience is now making the case for running with a more efficient stride and questions modern running footwear. The evolving world of modern sports medicine is going back to the future too and rediscovering what evolution has taught us.

    Now a few extra ways to get from start to finish quicker on the same gallon.

    • If you can add a little gas along the way then you can go more into gas mode.  This works a little at best.  If running too fast you shunt all blood to working muscles and nothing digests.  If you are in hybrid the early going you can continually add fuel- the key is not only the correct fuel, but the right pace.  An energy gel  every 25 minutes is easy to digest and tops off the tank.  Carry them with you at the start.  The weight is nothing compared to the benefit you will get.  If you do the gels then you can drink water instead of the energy drinks which are often less predictable on the run. Marine Corps has a gel station at Mile 9, 13, and 23.  Carry 2 gels at the start (one every 3-4 miles or so) and top-off  along the way.
    • Maintain effort on uphill.  Your pace will slow. You can easily use all your gas here if your effort increases.  Shorten your stride, relax, and use your arms.  Then allow gravity to take you down. The first hills in Arlington and Georgetown can feel “easy” but if run too hard can drain your gas quickly; so go easy up them.
    • If it is windy get behind a group.  This can save lots of physical and mental energy.
    • If you are having a “bad patch” – try to refocus on relaxing, fuel a bit (sometimes a blood glucose drop triggers the sense of doom), and have faith in your training and race plan.  Another nice trick is when you hit mile 21 it is not 5 miles to go, it is 4 and change. Mile 22 is 3 and change to go.  Just run to the next mile marker and count them down one by one. Smile and enjoy the party in Crystal City. This gives you some mental refreshment after crossing the lonely bridge from 20-22 miles.
    • Do not over drink water. This can lead to a dangerous condition called hypontremia and severe electrolyte imbalance.

    The fun of the marathon is that we are always learning and enjoying the adventure of it.  I’ve done over 70 marathons now with a couple under 2:25 in my younger years.  (i just turned 45.) I’ve had the pleasure of running this race 20 times representing the US Air Force.  My only misses were for military duties and a foot surgery many years ago.  We learn from experience, taking chances, and occasional failures. My first marathon was the 1988 Marine Corps was 2:34, when I could run about 30 minutes for 10 kilometers. Twenty-three years later I hope to get near this time again and my current 10k is about 35 minutes.   In the last 23 years I’ve run a marathon under 2:40 every year except for my year of medical internship when there was no time to find a race. Twenty-one of those years were under 2:35.  I’ve learned a few things in 20 plus years on how to train and race efficiently and economically, but still there are uncertainties every time you line up.  So relax, taper up, and seize the day.

    I’d like to especially thank all the Armed Forces Members around the world who sacrifice daily in the service of their country and for all the volunteers who make the Marine Corps Marathon an incredible event.  Thank the Marines you see around the course and that in itself will give you added spirit.

  • Winter Vinecki Defends IronKids National Championship

    Over 1,000 athletes showed up Saturday, September 17th, 2011 for the Hy-Vee Ironkids National Championships in West Des Moines, IA.  A cold front turned the triathlon championships into a duathlon. The traditional 300 yard swim portion of the triathlon was substituted with a 1200 meter run in the senior division. Winter Vinecki, age 12, (racing  age 13 y/o female division based on USAT age-up rules) was able to strategically adjust her race strategy to help her achieve her second consecutive IronKids National Championship Title.

    Winter used the opening 1200 yard run to quickly open up an early lead coming into the first transition. Though the rain held off during the race, an early morning rain shower just minutes before the start was enough to create hazardous conditions on the bike course. Turns proved to be extremely slippery, as many riders lost control and fell off their bikes. Despite a slick road surface, Winter was able to maintain an 18.7 mph average on the bike, which turned out to be the fastest bike split in her age division and the second fastest female bike split of the day.

    Heading out onto the two mile run course, Winter followed tightly behind her main rival, Gina Johnson, matching her stride-for-stride. A time-trial start gave Winter a 12-second advantage despite being a few steps behind her friend and fellow competitor. Fighting side cramps half-way through the race, Winter summoned her inner strength, reflecting on the fact that no pain she was encountering could match that of which her dad endured during his losing battle with prostate cancer.  The cramps subsided and it was a sprint to the finish. Gina tried to open the gap with 100 yards to go but Winter quickly responded with the speed and determination she has shown all season. Winter narrowed the gap enough to take an 8-second victory over Johnson and secure a repeat performance as the 2011 Ironkids National Champion.

    Tears of both joy and heartbreak were exchanged across the finish line as both Gina and Winter embraced one another in the spirit of the sport.  As she crossed the finish line, Winter looked up and pointed to the sky in a subtle dedication to her father. “This one is for you Dad!”

    Winter continues to defy the odds season after season.  In the days leading into most races, while other athletes are resting and off their feet, Winter undertakes a grueling schedule. Her coaches beg her to sleep-in, stay off of her feet, rest and hydrate 24 hours before competition.  However, with her job as Ironkids Ambassador and her duty to Team Winter, such luxuries are often not fathomable. Speaking at schools before and after Ironkids events, she delivers inspirational and motivational talks to kids, preaching about the benefits of leading a healthy, active and positive lifestyle. The day before races, Winter speaks at pre-race meetings and works at the Team Winter expo tent. Though busier than most athletes could possibly imagine, she never turns down an opportunity to talk to a young athlete, sign an autograph, give race tips or pose for a photograph.

    For Winter, defending her championship runs much deeper than the simply joy of victory. With an inner drive fueled by her goal of finding a cure for cancer, she relishes in the fact that with each large-scale victory, her message becomes that much louder. For every victory she receives, her first place IronKids trophy is given to a family affected by prostate cancer. Last year’s National Championship trophy does not sit on the family mantel. It is in the hands of Michael Milken; a prostate cancer survivor and founder of the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Since the founding of Team Winter in 2008, Winter and her Team Winter athletes have helped raise over $300,000 for prostate cancer awareness and research. She will proudly distribute all eight of her first place IronKids trophies from the 2011 season, including her National Champion trophy, to various families; reminding them that someone is out there fighting for them to ensure that one day, people will no longer have to suffer from this all-too-common affliction.

    As a means of raising awareness for prostate cancer on a global scale, Winter will be launching a world marathon tour. Beginning in the Spring of 2012, she will be running a marathon in every continent over the next two years in the hopes of raising funds and furthering the awareness of prostate cancer in areas she has yet to traverse. For more information on Winter, her goals, future projects, or to contact Winter herself, visit teamwinter.org. Follow Winter on Facebook (Team Winter and Winter Vinecki) and on Twitter @teamwinter.

  • Race Report: Thom Ward's Denver Half Marathon

    Newton Running's own legal intern Thom Ward breaks down his first podium in a half marathon!

    I love racing, and so despite only 45 miles of running in the past month, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to run in the Denver Half Marathon. I'd been recovering from an IT band injury, but was still certain I could finish the race. I was excited to be running in Newton's Distancia lightweight trainers, and a great singlet from our Singapore distributor.

    The course is a series of loops, and is roughly consists of one-third each concrete, crushed stone, and narrow singletrack, (with a short patch of beach-running). Not ideal conditions for a PR, but the varied terrain kept the race fun and challenging.
    I'm under no illusions that I'm anything but an average runner (Newton-sponsored athlete Craig Alexander ran the same distance twenty minutes faster at the 70.3 championships the same day), but when I'm standing at the start with the national anthem playing, I'm ready to RACE. I ran the first two miles just under six-minute pace, keeping the lead pack in sight, until cramping forced me to slow my pace for the next two miles and walk an aid station.

    After three people passed me, I managed to pick up the pace again, and dial into my goal pace of around 6:45 minute miles. Around mile six, I noticed two men trailing me, one twenty meters back, and the second a bit behind him. I couldn't shake them for the next twelve miles, despite forcing myself to work the hills as hard as I could to open a bigger gap. I finally had my chance to make a gap at mile twelve when we entered dense brush, with visibility limited to five feet ahead. I charged through the brush over the next half mile as hard as I could, knowing that the two behind me wouldn't see me making the effort. After emerging from the brush for the final mile, I didn't see them again, and finished with a smile, third in my age group.

    The Denver Half is in its second year, and is a beautiful and fun course, staffed by cheerful volunteers. However, the non-standard 13.45 distance and the poor course markings lessened the experience a bit. I twice came to an intersection to encounter chalk course markings simultaneously indicating that I should turn both left and right. The 10K course winner was so confused by the markings that he ran past the finish, and entered the finisher's chute from the opposite direction. Still, I had a great day, and most runners I talked to were in great spirits at the finish as well.

    Photo credit: Annette Mitchell

  • Race Report: Wendy Mader - Trifecta

    In 2010 I was the Boulder Irongirl winner and was comped an entry into the 2011 race. Since Irongirl was one of my strongest performances in 2010 I decided I would definitely be back to defend my title.

    Two months before Irongirl 2011 I found out about a GOTRIbal contest to have dinner with Chrissie Wellington on August 26th, the night before Irongirl. I was one of 10 winners chosen. Two weeks before Irongirl I found out I could stay at my friend’s house in Steamboat so I registered for the Steamboat Triathlon. The race was August 28th, the day after Irongirl.

    The Trifecta weekend. Friday night dinner with Chrissie, Irongirl Sprint Saturday followed by Steamboat Olympic Distance Triathlon Sunday.

    I drove to Boulder Friday afternoon, enjoying a long chat with Dave Ward, Diamond BeachBody coach, then stopping to pick up Dura Race Wheels in Berthoud from my Timex Teammate Kim Hager. Thanks Kim! I picked up my race packet at the Boulder Reservoir before heading to Bacco for girls night out with Chrissie. There, 10 wonderful GOTRIbal women shared stories, laugher and friendship (refer to blog post Dinner with Chrissie).

    Saturday morning I headed to Boulder Rez to race the Irongirl Sprint Triathlon (400 swim, 17 mile bike, 5k run). Coming off Ironman Lake Placid on July 25th and the Horsetooth
    10k Swim the previous weekends, I did not know what to expect when it came to racing a sprint, since I have not been doing traditional speed workouts***.

    The Irongirl course is the same at the Boulder Sprint Triathlon course expect only a ¼ mile vs ½ mile swim. I was in the 4th wave and seemed to have passed most women in the first 3 waves. It felt good to run to t1, no nagging ankle or calf pain. The bike course was fast, I averaged 23.5 mph. Quick t2. Again if felt so good to run without any injuries holding me back, quick leg speed and calm breathing. I knew I was gonna have strong finish and was blown away by my 19:29 5k time. I was pleasantly surprised with the results of my race on Saturday. I beat my time from 2010 by 2 minutes.

    After awards I quickly transitioned to my car. Drove 75 minutes to Fort Collins, lots of traffic, to let the dogs out. Then picked up my husband Don on my way up Poudre Canyon, 3 hours to Steamboat. After arriving in Steamboat, packet pickup, dinner with friends, the leg fatigue was setting in. I spent $6 for 20 lb bag of ice followed by a 20 minute ice bath, the ultimate recovery before bed. (http://running.competitor.com/2011/08/videos/recovery-the-ice-bath_15966)

    My legs felt great Sunday morning. I had no expectations for my race performance other then to do what I could on that day. I was having a great weekend already.

    Racing Steamboat on Sunday was my first time doing the entire triathlon. I had been there the first year and swam as a team which made me aware of the weeds in Catamount Lake. The bike and run course is rolling, a fair course for those that are strong climbers and those that prefer flat lands. The rollers were not that steep, short enough to sit or stand and power over. I had some moments on the bike that I was not pushing myself, the thought that someone might pass me on the bike kept me focused to push harder when I caught myself slacking. I was surprised to average 23.2mph even more surprised how good my legs felt on the run. The most difficult part of the run was the steep hill at the turnaround. In the end, I raced my fastest finish time for an Olympic distance triathlon and was the overall winner of the Steamboat Triathlon.

    The weekend ended with a drive back to Fort Collins from Steamboat Springs. Two days, two distances, two wins, plus an amazing dinner with a world-class leader and triathlete and a great group of peers.

    Here are pictures and a video from the race. The weather was perfect Sunday.
    http://www.steamboattoday.com/photos/galleries/2011/aug/29/2011-steamboat-springs-triathlon/

    *** My “untraditional” approach to speed work consisted of Insanity the Asylum, a 30-day BeachBody program I started on August 1st. I had completed Insanity and P90X in the winter 2010 and spring 2011 as an injury resistance program then stopped in May to focus on Ironman training. After completing Insanity, the next step in the progression is Insanity the Asylum. Having some left leg pain from from Ironman Lake Placid, I was able to minimize the pain in August spending some time with adjusting my bike fit and strengthening my glutes/core with Insanity the Asylum.

    www.getfit-getstong-getfast-getwendy.com

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