I'm starting my 30th year of running. I really think of it as my second running career. My first started at 11 years old and went through my late 20's. I had a several year break where I worked on my career and had children and began running again in 2004 (at 36). I am now looking forward to new events, new PR's and new distances.
June 26, 2010: Running is a family affair!
I've had a fun spring full of running which peaked Friday night for me running with Olivia in the Midnight Sun Midnight 5K. I wasn't even sure my kids could stay up till midnight let alone run a race at that time but they assured me they could. We decided to see the 9:15 showing of Toy Story 3 and then head over to The Lakewalk. We got our numbers and timing chips then Henry and Olivia did a pretty extensive warm up. They were definitely ready.
Olivia and I started near the back (mistake) and she had a goal of running the whole way. Her previous best 5K was around 38 minutes where she walked only a few short times. She told me she had been training for this race by running to the mailbox and back (which is a 0.6 mile round trip). I don't think I ever saw her run to the mailbox, but, whatever.
We started with many walkers and spent the whole 5k weaving around people, difficult given the narrow course. We came up on a young boy maybe the same age (7 or so) and when he saw Olivia he immediately picked it up. Every time we caught up to him and he saw her he did a little sprint to get ahead. Pretty funny. Usually older guys aren't as obvious when trying not to get "chicked". Anyways, she did run the whole way and really picked it up when she saw the finish. A close sprint with the little boy but to no avail, he crossed first. I assured her she most definitely beat him via chip timing since we started so far back.
I also ran a PR at Grandma's this year. It was my ninth marathon (which doesn't include ultra's, training runs and Ironman's) and my 3rd Grandma's. I had so much fun. I was using it more as a training run for Voyageur but was still able to run faster than I ever have at that distance.
I started with thoughts that I could run 3:30 and even perhaps faster. I started slow and after the first mile a woman jumped out of the woods (pit stop) and it was Tracy. Her and I caught up to the 3:20 pace group and hung out there and talked. We ran together for about 12 miles which went by so fast. At mile 13 I saw another old friend up ahead and caught up to him and chatted for awhile. He and his brothers run Grandma's every year and between the 3 of them they will do their 100th Grandma's next year. Wow!
I came through the halfway point in 1:38 and still felt really good so I decided to try and push it a bit. I cranked out a few faster miles but eventually started struggling a bit. I don't know why, but I always feel like crap on London road. It started after crossing Lester River and lasted until after cresting Lemon Drop hill. My legs were heavy, my toes were sore, I felt queasy. I tried to shake it off. Fortunately, I started feeling better after going up 14th Ave. East. I saw my family across from St. Luke's cheering and then I improved dramatically. I was going back and forth with a guy running his first marathon and we decided we could make a push for the finish and when I saw another friend volunteering at the Fitgers waterstop who ran with me for a hundred yards or so I felt on top of the world. I crossed the finish line with a big smile on my face with a PR on the clock, 3:21:45! I felt as good as I did 24 years ago finishing my first marathon at Grandma's.
Afterwards I collected my shirt and medal and got my clothes bag. I made sure I got my free beer and then made my way back to my family (via The Lakewalk). I felt good when I got home and after some prodding from my dogs, decided to take the mutts for an easy 45 minute run.
Now on to Voyageur! I have a few smaller fun events prior to the 50 mile undertaking, but the goal is to break 10 hours so I'm not taking anything else too seriously.
Congrats to everyone who ran Grandma's, Midnight Sun Midnight Run, or any other run. Being able to run is truly a gift and you are all such an inspiration to me!
May 31, 2010: Back to Running
I've been kinda laying low since my Ironman. I've not had much desire to bike and I was still enjoying swimming until the YMCA closed their pool for 6 weeks! Guess I'll have to get in the lake for that. Running has been fun as always, however. I did one of my most fun races recently. I ran the Superior Hiking Trail 25K. What made it so much fun was running with Henry. He decided a year ago that he wanted to run the race and at the time I thought "yea right". Over the year he kept talking about it and we went for many runs through the woods where he would talk about it. He isn't a speedster but he really seems to enjoy running through the woods and talking (ok, he likes talking all the time). Eventually he broke me down enough where I said yes, ok, we'll run the 25K together. I'm pretty sure he'd get lost on his own and I didn't really know if he could run 15 miles. I knew he could hike that far because we have done some tough hikes and he is always leading the way so at the very least I thought we could hike it if he got tired of running.
We signed up. It felt a little odd signing a waiver for my 9 year old to run 15 miles but I can think of worse things a parent could do (xbox, soda, psp, etc.). Anyways, we decided to stay the weekend up in Lutsen and drove up for the pre race stuff. We got some sleep then woke up just as the 50K started and we could see them running by our room. Everyone was all smiles. Henry and I had some breakfast and he packed his waist pack. He had experimented with ways to carry water and run and he determined that the waist pack was the most comfortable. He also decided he likes Heed and espresso gels. For a kid that doesn't have much exposure to caffeine, espresso gels are a very effective pick me up.
We started pretty conservatively and I told him just 4 mountains to climb. We decided to walk up the mountains and run the flats and downhills. Well when we hit Mystery Mountain I had to remind him we still had a long way to go. He was trying to keep up with Liz (I think he gets sick of just talking to me). He finally let Liz go and slowed down and from then on we kept a pretty even pace. It took us 8 minutes longer on the return trip,
which was pretty good. The whole way he stuck to the plan and ran the flats and downhills. He even ran some of the last trek up Mystery Mountain and really picked it up the last 2 miles. I was amazed at how fluent he is at trail running. I stumbled several times but not Henry. He seemed to glide over the rocks and roots like a wiley veteran. Oh, to be young. He said his favorite part was talking and cheering with all the other runners. They were all so supportive and what good role models for my kids.
He was a little quiet at the end and I think I caught a glimpse of an ultra runner in the making when he even got a little crabby and snapped at me. After getting something to eat he returned to his overly outgoing self and within an hour of finishing he was playing tag with several other kids. The next day I went for another long run on the SHT and the family and I hiked to Carlton Peak. Henry didn't even once complain of being sore. I can't say the same for myself. He also informed me that he is going to run the 50k when he is 16. Yea right!
On a shorter note, I ran the Brian Kraft Memorial 5k today down in Minneapolis with the Northwoods team. I didn't know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised by my fastest time for a 5k since I was in my mid twenties, 20:05:0)
May 9, 2010: Ironman St. George
My experience with Ironman triathlons is that there is always something. There is no such thing as a perfect day or course. Ironman St. George (Utah) was no different. I have finished 4 Ironman triathlons and dropped out of 2 (different story). Each was unique and presented with some sort of challenge. St. George was billed as a "challenging" course. However, being from Minnesota, I didn't think the water temperature would be one of the challenges. To make a long story short, the water was cold, the bike was windy and hilly and the run was hot and hilly and I'm proud of my 13:56 finish which placed me 847 out of 1900 or so starters. Longer version follows.
Early morning chill filled the air. My heart was racing but I was warmed by my wetsuit and the many people around me. The excitement was palpable. I wanted to challenge myself and get a good start on the swim. Swimming is not my strong suit but I put in lap after lap in the pool with hopes of improving. I was going to start near the front risking being thrashed and pushed by faster swimmers jockeying for position. The one thing I didn't prepare for was 59 degree water and as I entered the water I realized that I would be best served by waiting to get fully wet. Off to the side I went with hundreds of other people thinking the same as me.
"Boom"! The cannon goes off. I jump into the water and try to get in some open water to start swimming. There is a mass of arms and legs trying to do the same thing. Water in the face, goggles kicked off, pushed under water, grabbed by the ankle. I love mass swim starts. Even though I am a runner, the swim is my very favorite part of a triathlon. I can't explain the exhilaration of fighting for position and finding a small piece of open water. The fight took place for much of the first mile until I was able to slide to the outside and start passing people. The second mile was free and refreshing despite the fact that my hands froze into a semi claw like position and were virtually useless until long into the bike. I passed many people the second half and exited the water feeling good about my swim. Off goal a little at 1:18.
Into the change tent where I prepared for the bike. It was a cool 50 degrees so I put on bike shorts and left on the long sleeved Under Armor shirt I swam in. I put a Duluth Running Co. tri jersey on over it and walked to my bike and started the bike segment. The sun was shining and I felt fortunate to be able to participate in such a fun event. This feeling did change as I rode toward the mountains, however.
I knew the bike course was hilly. I also knew being from Minnesota that I wouldn't have much bike training under my belt by May but I didn't realize the roads would be worse than the roads in Duluth. There were a good 50 miles of chip rock and several more miles of cracks, potholes and ruts. It became grating after awhile. The course was designed in a lollipop with two loops around the sucker. The stem is basically uphill from the r to the start of the loops. The loops are about 22 miles of climbing followed by 20 miles of steep, terrifying, death defying descent. Personally, I'd much rather bike uphill than down an 8% curvy grade. The mountain climb (Pine Valley Mountains) was grueling but I really felt sorry for the big guys pushing their bikes up the steepest mile of switchbacks. I've never seen so many people get off their bikes and push and I, fortunately, didn't have to resort to this even though I was going so slow that I was at risk of falling over. Once over the crest, gravity took over. I topped out at close to 50 mph on my light, narrow wheeled tri bike. It was terrifying. It was so fast that my eyes were blurry and my bike sounded like it was going to fall apart. Unfortunately the wind had picked up in the mountains and a cross wind was trying its best to blow me off my bike. I gingerly reached for my brake and ever so gently started braking. The smell of burning rubber was almost instantaneous. I decided to ride it out and try to stay relaxed enough to get through it without needing a ride from EMS. The second loop was much like the first and as a matter of fact, I even stopped at the same port a pots and aid stations. I rode into town glad to be done biking and ready to stretch my legs. Very much off goal, but not bad considering, time of 7:26 bike leg.
I changed clothes into my very comfortable Northwoods running shirt. This gave me a chance to get some shout outs for Minnesota from spectators and I even had a fan section at aid station #10 where one of the volunteers was from Duluth.
The run was billed as not having a single flat section. Even parts that looked flat, were not flat. That said, I started the run hobbling with very sore leg adductors. I felt out of shape and tired the first couple of miles until I realized I was going uphill. That made me feel at least emotionally a little better. There were very steep climbs that I wasn't able to run but the down hills I was able to stride out and over time I felt much better. I was more talkative than I usually am during a race and I enjoyed talking with the many other experienced Ironmen and women. Everyone was in agreement that St. George is one tough and challenging course and definitely not a PR race. I went from walking to running depending on whether I was going up or down and did the second loop only about 5 minutes slower than the first with a total of 4:50 for the marathon. The best part was the 2 miles downhill finish. I felt great cruising down to the finishing chute where Mike Riley meets everyone finishing with announcing their name and calling them an Ironman. I think it's one of the most exhilarating feelings I've experienced in sports, "Connie Lutkevich, you are an Ironman!" I finished in 13:56 which was 1:24 over my goal but only 32 minutes slower than my PR. I think I'll do Ironman Florida next. I heard the course was flat:)
April 22, 2010: Taper Time
Yea, it's taper time! A little over a week until one of my goal races, Ironman St. George, is here. I have been diligently swimming with the Master's swim group at the YMCA two early mornings a week and just for the heck of it I decided to time myself for 100 yards. I can swim, don't get me wrong, but I've always only swam one pace, slow! I've never swum under 1:40 for 100 yards ever. I could probably swim for 10 hours straight, it would just be slow. I've been working on that because if I to ever want to be competitive at triathlons I need to pick it up in the swim. Anyways, I decided to swim hard and time myself. I did a 1:23! That is probably not fast to those swimmers out there, but in my mind I could have challenged Michael Phelps.
Biking has been a bit more challenging this winter. I joined a weekly spin class and became friends with my bike trainer. It did pay off because when I could finally get outside I decided to hammer Lester River Road and felt really good. I got to Strand Road and was able to do 4 Strand hills, seated, without losing a lung. This is a great improvement for me. Watchout Lance!
Of course, running has never been a chore for me to do. I just love it. I don't mind the weather, the dark, the road conditions, or the treadmill. I use the treadmill as a reason to do speed or hill-work. I did weekly challenging workouts on the treadmill this winter and actually enjoyed them. The trails are definitely my favorite, however, and this spring I've spotted a coyote, 2 bard owls (mating perhaps), a skunk, a huge turtle, many deer, a raccoon and a bobcat! Early morning trail running is fantastic for wildlife viewing.
I was able to get in a couple of races as well. I did the Human Race 8k as part of the Northwoods team. What a blast! I think I ran just under 34 minutes which I felt good about. I also decided to run the Trail Mix 25k. I was tempted with the 50k but since I had the Ironman just 2 weeks after, I decided not to. I told myself that I was going to run the 25k easy. Well, that's not exactly what happened but I was able to run each loop only 40 seconds different and beat my time from the last time I ran it (in 2004) by 4 minutes.
Yes, I have the taper energy. I may have to spend my extra time blogging so I'm not tempted to work out more or overeat. I'll let you know how it goes.
Ironman St. George (Utah) goal times:
swim 2.4 miles - 1:15
bike 112 miles - 6:30
run 26.2 miles - 4:15
With time for transitions: goal time of 12:30!
February 28, 2010: Spring is coming