Tuesday, February 21, 2012

im not a sprinter

Hilton - Springfield, IL – February 18, 2012
Hilton is a short race (32 floors), mastered by the sprinters and those that call this tower home (i.e., Oz, Roxanne, Karen, Justin, Joe, etc).  It’s got a funky unique stairwell, unlike any others that I race in.  There are about half the amount of turns since each floor consists of about 10 steps, a flat landing and another 10 steps before finally reaching another landing where you turn.  The rail is only on the inside; it’s yellow and kinda thick and disappears on the flat landing between flights.  There’s a wall that juts out on the landing where you turn and the rail doesn’t exist there either.  My tiny legs and short arms aren’t really made for this building neither is my normal climbing style / technique but that’s a whole other story. 
Last year I did the ultimate (ie torture yourself and see how many times you can climb in an hour) at this race, it was my first ultimate and I did 10 climbs in an hour.  My first climb was about 3:20 which was good enough to win it for the females; I held back a little since I was expecting the next several climbs to feel a bit rough.  The 10 climbs in an hour also got me a first place trophy so I took home two that day which was pretty sweet.   This year I was signed up for the ultimate again but I’ve been racing so much recently and it seems as though the faster I go and the harder I push myself towards the extreme limits, the more tore up my body feels.  This was new to me, usually I feel fresh and totally fine after climbing but this year it was beating me up and my calves were feeling it! 
With Hancock a week after the Hilton, I decided to drop from the ultimate.  I knew Hancock was more important and I had some lofty goals for that race.  The single climb at the Hilton seemed more appealing, would be less abuse and I could take a no pressure approach towards the race.  I knew that even if I told myself to go easy during the ultimate, there would be no holding back once I started. 
The Week Before
The Saturday before, was the day of the double stair workout where I hit my best 3 climb average.  Then it was back in the stairwell on Monday, where I did 2 decent climbs followed by a speedier one at 2:20 pace.  Tuesday took it easy, Wednesday back in the stairwell for an attempt to break our 5-climb record.  I was feeling kinda banged up and negative during the climbs but ended up with an average of 2:34 (which is about the same as my previous best so not too shabby). 
Brady was eager for a time trial, so Thursday was another day in that dusty dingy stairwell.   We did a few floors as a WU then were ready to start.  I felt kinda nervous, my previous best was 2:17 and I was just hoping to hit like 2:15.  I started first; Brady was going to give me a 20 second lead before he chased me down.  I came through floor 11 around 0:58 which is what I would do for a 10 floor sprint, ha.  I could see Brady’s bright yellow shirt out of the corner of my eye and he was gaining on me, he was on my heels way to quickly!  Was I going too slow or was he way quicker than normal?
I just hung on those final 11 floors, tried to keep ahead of Brady.  I was worried I would slow him down, wasn’t sure if I should move aside but figured he’d let me know if he wanted to pass.  My arms were feeling it on this one, I reached the top, checked my watch and I had pulled out a 2:08, shocked.  Brady finished with a 1:59 which is also like 10 seconds faster than his previous best.  Afterwards, he realized he had only given me about a 10 second lead, no wonder he was right behind me so soon!!  This was encouraging.  Hilton would be about 6 floors more than the Z tower and maybe about 40-45 seconds, that didn’t sound too bad. 
The Hilton
I wasn’t really putting too much pressure on myself for this race, wanted to have some fun and thought maybe I could do a few extra climbs to get a decent workout in.  3:00 sounded like a good goal and with my recent Z tower PR, I thought 2:50-2:55 might be possible so I wanted to be around 1:25 at floor #15.  Cindy, Roxanne and Karen were all signed up for the ultimate climb so I knew my only competition in the single climb would be Kourtney and she’s a rock star when it comes to the sprints so I knew I had little to no chance of beating her and I was just fine with that :)
Brady and I went to hang at starbucks for a while before the race; the amount of caffeine (in the forms of coffee and espresso) that we consumed was excessive.  My heart was racing, I was feeling jittery, and I think I had a bit too much, ha.  This was my first race wearing my vibrams too, luckily i got them on before the race started, haha.
We were standing in the start line and my heart was beating out of my chest.  I insisted that Kourtney go in front of me, I didn’t wanna slow her down but she had no interest.  PJ had his camera so wanted to go first so he could film our carnage at the top, we gave him about a 3:30 head start.   Brady was off after that then I was up. 
We’ve been doing a lot of sprints and faster climbs during our workouts so I’ve been getting better at going faster so using that same approach and technique seemed like a great idea.  I got in there and started off like I normally would, I felt so sloppy and like I was all over the place.  My feet were tripping and dragging, my arms were flailing about, I couldn’t get into a rhythm and I just felt all out of whack.  What was going on?!?  It was floor 10 or so and my legs were starting to feel it.  Checked my watch at 15 and was 1:31 so about 6 second slower than I wanted to be and just wasn’t feeling it.  At that point my rhythm was getting a bit better and the floors were ticking by because of the decreased amount of turns, I kept thinking I had double the distance to go.  I could see Kourtney out of the corner of my eye and had the same feelings I did when Brady and I did the TT a few days earlier.  She wasn’t super close but I kept thinking, do I need to step aside, am I slowing her down?  The next thing I knew it was floor 28 and there was nothing to do there were only 2 floors left, the race was almost over.  Even at that point I tried to pick it up but it was too late, those 2 floors went by quicker than they should’ve and I was confused because the race was already over. 
I stumbled across the mat, kinda bounced off a wall and staggered down the hallway.  I collapsed in a little pile a few feet away and Kourtney popped out of the stairwell shortly thereafter and curled at my feet.  My watch read 3:03, eh I guess that’s ok.  It was about a 17 second PR which in a short race is pretty decent but it was slower than I wanted so I was kinda disappointed.  I found Brady lying on the ground and he had the exact issues I did.  He tried to do our standard Z pace and technique and found himself wasting energy and flopping all over the place.  What a mess!  Haha.  My throat was on fire and the coughing was uncontrollable, I just felt bad all around.  How can a 3:00 race make me feel so gosh darn bad!
 I was frustrated with this race, stupid mistakes.   Just felt so out of whack.  Brady and I wanted redemption.  We decided to hit the Hilton again on Sunday morning and take another stab at it.  We talked about how we needed to fix the start of the climb, start out steady, relaxed then pick it up throughout.  Seemed easy enough and I was sure that I would go sub 3:00 if not close to 2:50-2:55.  I was gonna do this! 
Got up, had some coffee and headed off.  We did a few WU floors and were ready to roll.   I started off, felt relaxed but on rhythm.  Turns out it was too relaxed, got to 15 and I was 1:37 so once again I was too slow!  This time I was 6 seconds slower than I was the day before and about 10 seconds slower than I really wanted to be.  I needed to make up some serious time but knew that it was impossible to really hit the time I wanted.
I immediately started to pick up the pace, my legs felt somewhat fresh so I bounded for several floors, eased up and surged again.  Once again the floors flew by and the next thing I knew it was 28 again, geesh!  Here we go again, only 2 floors left and it was over before I knew it.  My watch showed 2:59 so yay I was under 3:00 but should probably add about 2 seconds to account for where the timing mats were on race day so maybe I was only about 2 seconds faster than the day before.  Not exactly what I was hoping for.  I’m not sure this second attempt on tired legs was worth it either, my throat was on fire again, my abs and lungs hurt from the extreme coughing and I just felt all around abused. 
Brady on the other hand chopped like 8 seconds off his time on race day so mad props to him, at least one of us paced it right. 
Morale of the Story - I’m Not a Sprinter
I’m not a sprinter, nor do I want to be.  These short climbs aren’t really my forte, can’t say I excel at short towers.  Give me something a bit taller and I’m good to go.  But I don’t know how to race these short ones, I’m still learning how to pace it and am figuring it out.  I think the sprints and faster climbs are helping but I still have a ways to go before I master the sprint ones.  My training really isn’t conducive to going super fast for such a short period of time either, I’m a cardio junkie.  Give me something longer, let my lungs do some work.  Shorter races are for those with supreme strength and power; usually guys are super fast and can really yank the rail with their arms.  My chicken arms don’t provide much relief when my legs go but they’re definitely working more the past few  months because I can feel it. 
3 of my 4 most recent races have had pacing issues, they’ve all been funky buildings though and it’s all a learning experience.  
Brazil – another short climb that I went too easy and it was over before I could get my final burst in there.  during longer climbs, I can give myself a “go” floor and usually I attempt to speed up but in the shorter ones you gotta be "going" almost the entire time.
Empire – started out too quick and lost it towards the top.  So the opposite of brazil but still a pacing error. 
Aon – paced that sucker just right, might’ve been able to push a smidge harder but had an awesome race.  good thing hancock is very similar to Aon because that I know I can do right :)
I have high hopes for Hancock in a few days :)

oh and by the way, the vibrams worked great for this race  but i think they'll get left on the shelf for hancock until i get used to jamming my little toes in there!

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