Saturday, February 23, 2008

IC track meet

Hey everyone!

So yesterday I stepped out of my comfort zone and ran in a real track meet...I ran unattached in a 3000m indoor race! My friend Kim ran track and XC at Illinois College, and they invited the alumni to come back to this particular meet and race she hooked me up and I got to run too! 3000m was the longest event, (1.86 miles ish?) still too short and fast for me, but I figured it would be an amazingly hard speed workout...

Kim ran the mile and was pleasantly surprised at the speed she has maintained since she ran at IC! She looks awesome when she runs- strong, fast, like she could bust out any second. Courtney (another friend) ran the 55m dash out of nowhere- she never did a block start before, never ran track, and ended up 2nd of the 3 girls in her heat! hahahaha.

Robyn and DAAAAAAN were there too as our support and cheering crew! Robyn was the official photographer and Dan was the official block-holder (for Courtney) and coach/timer (for me).

So...I decided to go all out and wear a skirt for this track meet! Keep in mind this wasn't just the alumni and friends, this was an actual inter-collegiate track meet! Like, real teams and stuff. This is why I was really nervous- there were 3 other girls entered in the 3000m, all who were decked out in their track uniforms...while I proudly wore a black Nike top and my red snowflake gymgirl TRIKS skirt! Gotta represent the triathletes in the house! Haha...

Well I warmed up real good, I took it easy this week...TOO easy since I tried to get a lot of homework done before my special visitor showed up this I figured my legs were "well rested"....but oh my gosh was I nervous- like a 6 out of 10. I knew there weren't going to be any consequences if I did bad, I didn't even know anyone except for my people, but I was hoping I wouldn't make an ass out of myself.

My friends and Dan all told me the same thing- you gotta stay with them from the get-go or you don't have a chance! "This isn't an Ironman, you don't pace yourself like you usually do, this is balls out!" I didn't like the sound of it...I know at previous 5Ks I've gone out way too hard, heart rate skyrocketed and I died by mile the hell would I do this?? I seeded myself at a 13:30 (a little over 7minute miles?) and the three other girls were seeded at a 11:30, 11:50, and I thought maybe I had a chance at beating one? I really wasn't too concerned about that since there was no way I could win it if the seed times were accurate, but I would be disappointed if I ran slower than 7:05 min/miles (my 5K pace...)

Balls at the staging area, after peeing like 3 times...I took off my warmup gear and unveiled my smokin' running outfit =) and the other girls I was running with were like "OOOH my gosh that is so cute!! You're going to run in that?! What's your tattoo (referring to my MDOT) ??" They were really nice, so that took a little edge off! At the start line, I saw my friends, I was smiling, I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be. Waterfall start...SET...step up to the line...BAM!! and we are off....

One girl took off pretty quick...she was gone. I stayed right with the other two. Breathing, check. HR monitor not working, took it off before the race. RPE = as fast as I can go. The first lap felt alright (fast, of course, but I wasn't hyperventilating!) at :45...yowza 6min miles!! 2nd lap....1:30....goodness there's no way I will keep this pace...I think at this point the 2 girls starting breaking away just a bit, which was fine by me, my goal was to go hard and maintain it!

The 1/2 mile came up at a 3:06 (which is my fastest ever recorded 1/2 mile, referring to my 800 repeats!) So I slowed a bit which was a good thing...So, as I was running, twice during the race I heard (female) spectators comment..." ooooooooooooh her skirt so cute!!" That put a little smile on my face and kept me motivated! If I'm not gonna win this better believe I'm gonna look damn cute running in it!

By about the 7th lap, it started getting hard. Now I'm realizing that I am really just punishing myself- running AS HARD as I can, for AS LONG as I can. ouch. Seriously, what could be worse?? It's a good's a good workout...great'll be faster at Ironman...

At the mile I came in at 6:30 (the 2nd 800 I averaged a 6:48 pace)...

THE BEST THING that kept me motivated and working my ass off was Dan and his coaching!! He was on the back stretch, and every time I came around he gave me encouragement and useful comments that I focused on for the next lap- " Relax your shoulders" "Your strides are looking a little short..." "Push off!!!" He tried to get me to be competitive- "go get em!" BUUUT that didn't really work, I still don't have that "kick someone else's ass" attitude in me yet =) I was going as hard as I could, I didn't care!

By lap 10 I was thinking "GEEEZ why didn't I just enter the 1600?? I still have 5 LAPS to go!!" Trying to put this into perspective, I tried consoling myself- "Less than 5, more like 4 minutes Laura, that's it!!" But 4 minutes seems like a LONG ASS TIME when your quads are burning and it's taking every ounce of effort and energy I have to suck in as much oxygen as possible per breath, drop my shoulders, and actually push off each step. I wanted to give in so bad!! During a marathon, it's perfectly acceptable to "survival shuffle" ya know, drop the intensity for a couple minutes, collect yourself, then get back into a nice aerobic groove. NOT the case here!! BALLS OUT THE WHOLE TIME!! Yes, there is lactate in your blood...yes it hurts a lot...yes you are probably maintaining a HR of 190-195 right now...but you can do this!! Don't give in!

So I kept on truckin...and I got lapped lol by the girl who took off at the start ( I think around lap 12 or 13) so I tried keeping her in my sights....Kept running hard...kept listening for the fab 4 to cheer me on and then coming around that first turn, all I wanted to hear was something new to focus on from Dan...then I got lapped AGAIN by the second girl (who broke away from her teammate...) But gosh I can't reiterate how excruciatingly painful those last 4-5 laps were!!! I'm thinking these track races are so much harder mentally than endurance events (well, take into account the short duration....but still...I'm not used to it!)

So in my mind, I was not doing any mental math of what pace I was running, what my finishing time might be etc. during the last 1/2 of the race...I was really just occupied by trying to regulate my breathing, shoulders, stride, push-off, and NOT lose intensity...I wouldn't say that my mind was blank, but it certainly wasn't busy like it is during a marathon or Ironman!

SO FINALLY my last lap came around (I did most of it by myself lol) and I was extremely happy when I saw my time- 12:38!!! Almost a minute faster than what I thought I would run!! So my last 7 laps I averaged about a 7:03 min/mi (slowed down QUITE A BIT, even though I was going HARD). My overall average pace was about a 6:45 min/mi.

So yes, I got last. But I didn't make a total ass of myself. Hey, if I was running for a team, I would have earned them 4 points. And I was really proud of myself for not giving in- I ran hard the whole time! I was also really surprised how fast I could go! I stepped out of my boundaries and I think it was a success! I'm totally up for it again. I'm not sure how I would do things differently- should I start out slower? I mean, my first 400 was a 6 minute pace, and I ended up running 7's at the end? I don't know, I'm not really an expert at the whole track competition thing. So the fast stuff hurts A LOT, but it's also a lot of fun!

-2 more girls commented on the cuteness of my skirt, and of course, I gave everyone the info! TRIATHLETES REPRESENT!
-My entire respiratory tract BURNED- throat, nostrils, lungs, everything! Couldn't really do anything about it - it died down a little after 20 minutes, but I felt it for about 2 hours afterward!
-I IMMEDIATELY got sick? Dan, Robyn, Kim, and Courtney watched me go from a healthy state into a sneezing 3-5x/minute, mucus-flowing freak within 20 minutes of running! Very weird, and it's happened before - after I did an intense track workout at Horton. It's better now, both both times it lasted about a day to a day and 1/2. I'm thinking it has to do with the fact that my body is working with well over 100L of oxygen per minute while I'm exercising that hard (think about lining up 50 2L bottles of pop) and if there was something funny in the air, even a small little bacteria, I probably sucked it in...Any ideas?

So, now it's Sunday, and Dan has left =( quads are still sore, but I feel accomplished! Here's a quote (that you've seen before) that sums up this experience:

" Your greatest challenge isn't someone else. It's the aching in your lungs and the burning in your legs and the voice inside you that yells "Can't!". But you don't listen. You push harder and hear the voice that whispers "Can..." and you realize that the person you thought you were is no match for the one you really are."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Internship Offer #1 !!

Well after an awesome masters swim this morning, and a network outage of all sites, it's blogger time. =)

Yesterday was very eventful for me! First thing in the AM, Dave (my Velotron contact) FINALLY called me back...I was freaking out a little bit-I need this thing for my thesis project (I'll tell you all about it later)...meaning my graduate degree...and he was supposed to bring it here either Friday last week or Mon/Tues this week....and after numerous phone calls and messages starting Thursday, STILL no answer! My professors were giving me funny looks!

So he called, and said while in transport, a part on the bike broke, so he is contact with Chuck (VP or something of Racermate) in order to get the part, fix it, and get the velotron to me SOON. He'll let me know better be by the end of this month!! very nerve-wracking...I just need to know if I'm going to get it, in time for data collection before the end of the semester (I COULD start up again in the fall if needed...but not preferable.)

NEXT, I got an email from Carol, the Human Performance Lab Manager at the National Training Center in Clermont FL, and she told me that I have been accepted as an intern for the summer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh my gosh! This place is AMAZING! It used to be the USA Triathlon Training Center, but they are no longer directly affiliated with USAT....they still have all the same training facilities though!! A 70m outdoor pool (with masters swim), 400m track, a xc course, a human performance lab with all the toys and services I desire, physical therapy, massage therapy, big weight room, big cardio room, group fitness classes, group tri workouts and training...the area has a lot of triathletes, hills, and lakes...The NTC puts on a triathlon race series in a local state park. The NTC hosts a ton of tri camps, and groups of athletes , such as the Austrian tri team, come to train for extended periods of time...


My friend Don had an internship there a couple years ago- didn't sound like it was paid or anything, but geez he was swimming next to Sheila Taormina (Olympic triathlete and swimmer!)

So I emailed her back and told her that before I accept the offer, I have a few questions...

1) What will my experience and responsibilities as an intern entail?
2) Will any pay/compensation/stipend be provided?
3) What are the housing options?

I have applied to three other awesome sites, which I will from hopefully within the next month, and if I'm accepted to another one, these three questions are going to help me determine where I intern this summer. The first is the most important- I want to be doing performance testing and research, not leading a senior wellness program. Second is also VERY important. If I'm accepted to 2 sites, both sound good, one is paid and one is not, guess which one I'm going to go with....Third goes along with the second.

but HOW COOL IS THAT?? Worse case scenario, I'm going to be in Florida at an amazing training facility this summer. darn. =)

Finally, to top the day off, I got my Ironman stuff I ordered in the mail. exciting.

Yay! =) I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

you are getting veeeery sleeeeepy....

Another fun day in the life of LV....

slowly but surely getting the bike volume up...I brought my bike and trainer over to Tamara's, and we did an awesome 2 1/2 ride, first watching Triathlon: Through the Eyes of the Elite then an Endurance Spinervals workout =)

I'm a little confused on how to quantify the resistance on my Computrainer in stand-alone mode, so I just guess based on RPE. I found it tough to get my heart rate up during the first 1/2 of the ride (no higher than 120!)- I kept my cadence around 85 (lower than my usual 90-95) and tried to add more resistance than usual...I'm also getting pretty comfy in aero position, usually it kills my back and shoulders at the beginning of the season. I'm generally switching 5-10 mins aero, then 5 mins on the bullhorns for a break.

During the spinervals workout, they had us going at some high cadences, which definitely got my heart rate up! By the end of the workout, I was around 160-165 a cadence of 100 rpm.
My legs felt pretty good since I ran 18 yesterday, so I'm happy about that. They were burning a bit when I was going 85 rpm, so I wasn't going TOO easy...

Tamara's awesome, we are pretty close in fitness levels, and we have a lot of the same goals this year, so she's a great training partner!

Then I went to Mettler Athletic in Champaign today for the Sport Performance Symposium; the main speaker was big name in my field of exercise physiology- Dr. Craig Horswill, Principal Scientist at the Gatorade Sport Science Institute in Barrington IL. GSSI just started doing these grassroots education seminars, so it was pretty cool to see Dr. Horswill in a small setting with maybe 35 people as opposed to the massive ACSM conference I last heard him speak at with 200 people. The symposium covered three main topics - Hydration & Nutrition for athletes(GSSI), Biomechanics and functional training, and Sport Motivation and Focus.

Exercise and nutrition intervention research is a huge interest of mine, and that is exactly what they do at GSSI - check out their crazy labs at This is where they do the research to determine the needs and responses of athletes so they can perfect and create new Gatorade products. They can have you exercise in a temp controlled chamber, have you cycle in a plastic bag so they can collect your sweat that drips off, stick tubes down your throat while you exercise to determine stuff like esophogeal temp and rate of nutrient uptake....o man I would LOVE to wear a lab coat and do that kind of that stuff!

So I mailed an application to their facility 2 weeks ago for an internship this summer...however I found out that they are not taking interns for awhile since they are revamping the program...but like I said, I sent my stuff anyway. Going to Champaign was a chance to at least meet Dr. Horswill (again...I introduced myself at ACSM in May) and listen to the cool research he would present.

He talked primarily about dehydration and hyponatremia, and presented a few neat studies, including one that included a bunch of seasoned marathoners - they ran a 10 mile time trial, and they had to guess how much sweat they lost, and how much fluid they took in, and they compared these "estimates" to their actual values. They found that the athletes pretty accurately estimated how fluid they consumed, but underestimated their sweat loss by about 50% bout that.....

During his talk, I asked a question regarding electrolyte tablets on the market (pretty pricy- are they worth the investment, or can endurance athletes receive adequate electrolytes from formulas like Gatorade Endurance?) He responded with a study they conducted where endurance athletes drank Gatorade Endurance/water combo and took Gatorlites (not advertised), which worked well....

Afterwards, he actually came up to me and recognized me from ACSM! Woooow! =) We chatted briefly...he told me they are revamping the intern program, but asked when I was going to be done with school (the only way I will stay in IL is if I could get a job there haha) and he also wanted my contact info so he could put my name in the subject pool for GSSI research projects...that would be

O man I wish he would have a change of heart and let me intern there this summer!

So that was the highlight...I stayed for the next talk, but I didn't stay for the last one, because my eyes were closing closing closing...sleeeeeep....not that they were boring, but I've been sleeping very badly this week because I'm so freaked out with school, and with this training, it's catching up to me FAST. I can't function or stay awake on 5-6 hrs of sleep!

Goals for this week:

SHOOT FOR 8, at LEAST 7 hours of sleep each night
3 swims (only did 2 this week)
3 bikes (hopefully get a 3 hr on Sunday morning, but there is one factor that will influence that...)
5 runs (not going long until next Tuesday...but I have the 3000m on Friday! not setting a time goal on that b/c i have no clue!) So one speed workout on Tuesday, 2 short/quick 3-4 milers, then the 3K on Friday...then a 10-12 miler on Sat.

Well, I have like 10 definitions to do before bed for homework...not gonna grade, I'm too tired. aNd I don't feel like it, thus the blogging...haha.

Stay tuned for Motivation Pt. 2 and Hit With a Brick posts!

Saturday, February 16, 2008


woo hoo finished up an awesome 18 mile run! ABC run, lots of LRC'ers and Tri-Sharks out and about the west side of Bloomington. I was not even aware that there was a running trail out there, so I was happy about running in a new location, I'm trying to get away from my home stretches of the constitution trail, since that's where I've been running for the last six years...

Merlin mapped out a nice out and back 5K course- most runners ran a 5, 10, or 15K. I wanted to run 18 today, and I had some pals help me along the way!

we had a cold, sunny morning during our run- I bundled up pretty good (polyester turtleneck, thin fleece, Chicago marathon thermal jacket), and I heated up pretty quick! We started out at a normal long-run pace (about 9:15-20) but my heart rate and rpe were higher than training slacked a little bit this week, so I wasn't unusually sore...I'm thinkin it was due to my clothes and not getting enough sleep this week (crazy school...) nothing to serious though =)

So the first loop (9 miles) We had a great little group- Tamara, Tom, Saori!, Frances, and Amber. We all were comfortable with the running pace and had some great chit-chat about training, races, work, etc. Merlin also made a few appearances. I love running with great people!

After a quick stop back in the hall for some mid-run "nourishment," Tamara, Amber, Tom, Merlin and I headed out again. Merlin turned back a little early to go meet Meg and clean up, Tamara and Amber turned around to finish up 13, and Tom and I finished up a full second loop for 18. The second loop felt much better than the first for me! HR was back to normal, even though we picked it up a tad bit. Ended up running 2:45 for 18, A nice average pace for that distance. I guess I need sleep and good warm-up =)

After the run, I went over to Courtney's apt., because she wanted to interview me for her sports motivation project- basically, she wanted to hear my story about how I got into this Ironman business, the story from the start, and why I'm still doing it...

It's very cool to think about it....Ask yourself some of these questions!


***2002 - I sucked at sports, all of them, when I was younger and through high school...I started running my senior year of high school because I wanted to be thin and athletic-looking like the cross country girls!***

***2003 - My freshman year of college, I saw a flyer at home (Schaumburg) for a local sprint triathlon...I knew how to swim since I took swimming lessons when I was younger (haha), anyone could bike, and I could run three miles...I could do this! As I trained for the event, I became fascinated with the sport! I trained alone, since I didn't know anyone who did I learned and observed a lot- the bikes, wetsuits, transitions, race gear...whew! Does this sport EVER get boring? Also, great way to lose weight- those triathletes are smokin'!***


***03-04 - Sophomore year college- I found the ISU triathlon club, where I found GREAT training partners and friends! I started going a little longer (runs and triathlon distances) just to prove to myself that I can. I also took on a leadership position in the tri club as president! Triathlon was social, lots of fun. That's what my friends and I DO- we get up, meet up and workout, support/encourage/push eachother, then talk about it afterwards at breakfast! I'm seeing the crazy stuff my friends are doing...marathons, even half-Ironmans! That's amazing that they could push themselves like that...and a whole lot of calories burned too!

That summer I went back to Schaumburg and started working at a running store with Mark Rouse and Theresa Rouse, big-time Ironman finishers! I learned an incredible amount about endurance sports, heard their stories, seen where they've traveled...wwoooooowww...I stepped it up a bit and completed several Olympic distance tri's...and after crewing for some pals at Minnesota Border to Border race, I was ready to sign up for the Chicago marathon that October...=)

**04-05 junior year:

Back at school, I was observing my friend Don in all his excitement in preparation for Ironman Wisconsin...he was doing THE IRONMAN. Holy cow! I didn't even know what that WAS until this summer! I decided to go up to Madison that September for the weekend and that was fun. The whole Ironman village, expo, people....and I did a little "preview" of the run course - I ran one loop of it...I couldn't believe that people would be doing 2 loops...after 114.4 miles in the lake and on the bike.

After seeing the mass swim start from the top of the helix , Coldplay Clocks playing in the background...I wanted it. The rest of the day, watching so many people digging deep, reaching for their personal limits, and the ultimate place to see what Ironman is all about- the damn finish and I could watch an Ironman finish line for hours and not get sick of it...Could I do this? Next year? I've never accomplished anything this big...I haven't even done a marathon yet...I would definitely get an awesome body...I've heard from Ironman vets I could do it...I want it...BAD.

I signed up the next morning.

and THAT was the beginning of my Ironman adventure!


Sunday, February 10, 2008

getting hit with a brick...part 1

*** Please note that this is a loooong post, and I wrote parts of it on 5 different days!***

So my spring semester is off to a rolling start...and as great as it is...I feel like I'm about to get hit with a brick. I'm working hard to just barely keep up with everything! Don't get me wrong, I LOVE every single thing that is occupying my time...but it's ALL happening at one time. Stay tuned to learn about what's going in my life right now!

1) Cardiorespiratory Function and Exercise: My one "class" that I'm taking- the workload is not too bad at all so far. Learning a lot about the air and oxygen we much air can we hold? How much can we move it during exercise? How efficiently do we use it? Can we improve? How do we use it? How does disease affect it? Lots of cool labs that we do to quantify and measure this stuff...This class meets Tuesday nights for 3 hours...I would say on average I've been spending 2-3 hours outside class workin on homework, quizzes, and labs.

2) Independent Study- American College of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Instructor Certification (ACSM-HFI cert.): This a well-respected exercise professional certification- one of the toughest in the business, so as I enter the professional field, this certification will label me as a well-rounded and educated candidate...For credit, I am to summarize 12 of the 188 KSA's (knowledge, skills, and abilities) that the certification test will cover, and email these summaries to my faculty advisor each week. This is much more work than I thought it would be! Instead of a single definition, concept, or explanation per KSA, each one is very broad....Each group of summaries range takes me about 5-8 pages to cover. The studying and writing probably takes about 3-4 hours total- I've concluded that I will doing these last minute, every week.

3) Graduate Assistantship- I teach undergraduate level activity classes to offset the costs of my tuition and to receive a small stipend each month...Three days a week I teach aerobics (Oh yes, the whole "grapevine with a clap" deal) and four times per week I teach Personal Fitness. Aerobics...goodness. I NEVER was coordinated, until they asked me to replace a GA who left last year! I freaked out...but I learned, and got an AFAA group fitness certification, and now I'm an old pro. I'll show YOU how to mambo! I was even featured in the Pantagraph for my skills. Aerobics is one of the more time-consuming GA positions, because you actually have to plan and practice what you are doing, make up routines, opposed to say volleyball, where the students play each other. I like it though, I get some fun "cross-training" in =). I am required to assign some homework and tests, but that only takes up maybe 1 or 2 hours outside of class (2 if I start making up new workouts or routines- I spent A LOT of time doing that last year, so I have enough material to cover me this year =) )

Personal fitness is a cool class too- It's a 3 credit class, the students go to lecture 2x/wk with Karen Dennis, one of the Ex Phys professors, and they learn about health, disease, nutrition, exercise and diet programming, then they go to lab 2x/week with ME, and I do their pre/post fitness assessments as well as lead them through a whole bunch of different workouts - I love the variety and the workouts- I have all different fitness levels and interests, so I get to be creative when I make them up! Now if it was just working out and attendance, it would be a breeze - however, I have to have SOMETHING to that means I am bombarded with a bunch of silly "labs" that they get out of workbook- it's not hard to grade, just time consuming. So I have 2 sections of this class, meaning I teach it 4x/week, 1 hr each, then the grading....

7) ***TRAINING***