Sunday, November 22, 2015

Off-Season Volunteering, Training, & Racing

I haven't blogged since IMCHOO, partly since I've been really busy with my new job as Health Promotion Dietitian at Tyndall Air Force Base and partly because I've been doing nothing.  Nothing, as in I took a month off of training after the race.  I really think it's important to take an "off season" because it lets your body recover and it also refreshes you mentally.  I did stay in the tri scene though by volunteering at Beach2Battleship and IM Florida.  Here's a brief recap of those experiences.

Beach2Battleship 2015

I flew back up to NC for B2B since I've been on the run course committee all year and wasn't about to check out for the main event.  Under the strict eye of run course committee chairman Brian Bohrer (aka Brian#1), Brian Moxey (aka Brian #2), Robert P. Cristman (aka Ricky Bobby), and I executed all directives to the best of our abilities, though sometimes our best wasn't good enough.

Brian #1
Brian #2
Ricky Bobby
When Ricky Bobby & I got there at 5 am on race morning our first task was to set up all the arrows for the run course.  We marked every turn with black arrow signs and every straightaway with neon green duct tape.  After about 2 hours we were done and reported back to Brian #1.  He was moving a million miles a minute and was 7 cups of coffee and 1 granola bar deep (little did we know that he wouldn't consume a single additional calorie for the rest day).  "What do you think this is?" he barked, "A YARD SALE!?!?"  Apparently he thought the arrows we put up looked like sh*t and we had to go back and remove every single one, velcro them to bigger signs that had the B2B logo on them, and place them back in the all right spots.  He was also displeased that I had put double sided duct tape arrows on the pavement instead of taping down 2 directional arrows in opposite directions.  I tried Brian #1!  I tried!  And honestly, I will say that once we had the arrows with B2B logos on them, it looked 1000% better.

We spent the rest of the day (and by that I mean until 1 am the next day) doing odd jobs and filling in wherever was needed, including but not limited to:
*directing runners on course, including the finish cute (i.e. stay left to finish, stay right for the turnaround, no you're not done you still have another 13 miles to go)
*working crowd control to keep spectators off of the most crucial part of the run course
*shuttling high school volunteers to and from aid stations, which was like herding cats & quite possibly the most difficult task of the day
*watching Brian #2 show off on his fat tire bike (don't worry we didn't tell anyone you went over the handlebars ;)
*cheering on participants
*picking up injured participants in the sag wagon
*cleaning up the course after all the fun was over

Heading out to the lake
Overall it was an awesome day and a super fun experience to be on the other side of a race!  I was very impressed with how well the B2B committee communicated with each other.  They had the walkie talkie system down pat.  They squashed any and all fires that came up and I want to say a huge GOOD JOB to everyone involved.  I've raced the B2B full once before and the B2B half a few times and have always had nothing but good things to say about the race and now I can say that I know why!  I also have to say that it was amazing to see all my Wilmington buddies again and I miss you al!!!!

IM Florida 2015

When I moved to Panama City Beach, FL one of the things I was super excited about was of course IM Florida!  I immediately signed up to be a volunteer chip collector from 9 pm to 12 am.  Once I moved down and started hanging out with my former Rev3 teammate Chloe and her posse, I was invited to be a draft marshall with them for the race and I accepted.  First of all it was pretty cool during race week to run along Thomas Dr. and see all the hype starting for the race!  I went to a draft marshall meeting the night before the race where we reviewed all the penalties and got our blue and yellow cards, as well as some pretty official sweet gear.

Race morning they had a nice breakfast for us and the motorcycle drivers at the host hotel.   After marshals were paired with drivers I went out to the swim start and met up with the Wilmington crew.

It was so great to hang out with the Wheeler's, Davis's, Wellersdick's, and Miss Christensen again!  I was pumped for Doug & Phillip's first IM (congrats guys!!!) and Shawn's enthusiasm for spectating and getting the perfect picture was unrivaled!  The surf looked rough to me that morning and the red tide was burning my eyes, but the racers didn't seem to mind and I'll admit I was a little bit jealous that I wasn't out there racing myself!

Once swimmers started making it to T2 I met up w/ the draft marshall crew and we got out on the bikes.  I've never been a big fan of motorcycles but it was pretty fun to cruise the whole course on the back of a Harley :)  It was like I was right in the thick of the race, but without all the suffering!  I don't think I'm cut out to be a draft marshall because I just don't like handing out penalties!  I didn't mind carding people for blatant offenses like passing on the right, but I did not like dealing with people arguing about whether or not they were drafting.  For the record, I let anything go that I thought was even slightly questionable.  All the drafting penalties I gave out (~10) were extremely blatant.  Later on in the race people stopped arguing the penalties - I think that they were so tired that they just grunted at me to acknowledge that they knew they needed to stop in the next tent.  It was a cool experience and I'm thankful I got to be a part of it.

After we got back to transition I went home and crashed for a quick nap.  I got back up and headed back out to the finish line for my second volunteer gig.  They had enough chip collectors and "catchers" so I ended up calling out every number that came across the line to another volunteer who wrote down the numbers, as a back up to the timing system.  This was actually quite difficult at times when people came in together in bunches.  I really enjoyed watching the end of the race!  It was so inspiring to see everyone finish, especially those who weren't sure if they could or would make it! More than a few people hobbled across the finish line and there were a couple collapses.  There were lots of triumphant fist pumps, impressive muscle flexes, and epic hugs.  Some people started crying because they were so happy and overwhelmed.  This made me feel like I was going to start crying too b/c I was so excited for them!  It was an emotional 3 hours :)  Needless to say, by the time 12 am rolled around I was ready to sign up for another IM!  My initial plan was to sign up for IMFL 2016, however I'm 99% sure I'm going to do IM Cozumel instead!

Off-Season Training
So now I'm back to light training and base building.  I've done a LOT of yoga, which has been awesome for mind and body.  I found a spectacular 90-day yoga challenge on YouTube by Lesley Fightmaster that I highly recommend!  I've only been on the trainer a few times for 45-60 minutes each time and have only swam twice since IM CHOO.  I have started running consistently again, but only about 20 miles per week (if that).  I plan to slowly build back up in each of the sports and then start focused training again probably in January.

Draggin' Tail 18-Mile Challenge
My friend Ron invited me to do the Draggin' Tail 18-miler as part of a 3-person relay team.  I thought he said "Dragon Trail" and so I agreed b/c I thought a trail race sounded like fun.  I've almost sworn off all 10ks & 5ks b/c I think they are too dang painful, but this would be 6 miles on trails and I knew that would be more enjoyable.

We showed up on race morning and I'm like, "So where are the trails."  Chloe and Ron were like, "Uh, what trails?"  "Isn't this a trail run...?"  Turns out, there were no trails to be ran.  The entire race was on paved roads through a neighborhood.  I was signed up for the 2nd leg of the race which I was told was the hilliest part, and they were NOT joking about that.  You think there's no way it can be hilly in Florida, but in Sunny Hills Florida there are indeed real hills!

I felt good for the first two miles and clocked in at 6:17 for the first mile and 6:20 for the second.  Then the hills hit and I had a hard time keeping it under 7:00 pace.  I passed a couple people who were running the whole race solo, but couldn't make up much time on the relay team ahead of us.  I was just hoping that I could run faster than my former marathon pace ;)  I finished the 6 miles with an average of 6:34/mile and am pretty happy with that.  It gives me a good starting point as I start increasing training again.  It was really fun to race as a relay & congrats to Chloe & Ron on our awesome 2nd place finish!

Next Up
I plan to keep increasing consistency and mileage.  Not going to worry too much about speed.  I'd like to force myself to get back in the pool, but we'll see if that happens...

I may run the PCB half marathon in December and I'd like to target another half marathon in January as a time trial.

The only other two races that are on my to-do list at the moment are NOLA 70.3 and IM Cozumel, but I'd be willing to bet that more will be added as 2016 gets closer...