Closure

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2014 ended rather abruptly around here and so I’m going to put a bit of closure on that chapter before moving on to the next one.

Last year was a tough one. Good races and bad.

It was a battle, plain and simple.

Me vs Myself.

I had to face some harsh realities about my mental fortitude during difficult training sessions and how I race. It’s not all that fun to look deep within yourself and admit that while you may… “talk the talk, you’re not always… “walking the walk”!

I had to figure out a way to stop coddling myself like a mother would her child. I had to learn how to no longer accept the negotiations, that went on inside my head, as if I were writing a UN peace treaty. I had to truly embrace the challenge of a difficult training day and carry that with me to racing.

Was I successful? We should ask my coach, but I’ll go ahead and give my thoughts…

I made great strides. I’m closer now than ever before, but it’s constant work. Some days are easier than others.

My last race of 2014 was River Roux 70.3 in the worst conditions I’d ever faced. Conditions I don’t think I could’ve imagined and I’ve got a pretty wild creative streak in me.

Nine months of hard physical and mental training got me to the finish line that day.

And when I got there, I cried. Hell, I started crying when I SAW the finish line.

And just so you know, I’m not a crier. I didn’t cry at my wedding, when my son was born, when I finished my first Ironman….I’m very practical and pragmatic. I typically don’t get that emotionally “spent”.

But on that afternoon I was fried. Sure I was tired physically, but mentally; it was the hardest thing I’d ever done.

Every now and then though, we get rewarded for our efforts.

My time was far from record-setting, but that was the nature of the day. Part of my battle was being able to “let go” of what my computers were telling me, keep the frustration at bay, and trust my training. All of it.

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I earned 1st place (40-44 women) at River Roux. I wanted more, but on that day…for the 1st time ever…I can honestly look at myself and say that I left everything out on that course.

I’ll carry this with me and continue to build upon the foundation that was laid, creating what I feel will be a remarkable 2015 season.

-Whatever the mind of a man can conceive and believe, it can achieve…..Napoleon Hill

See y’all soon!

 

 

One…or Two for the Record Books

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The 2014 race season has begun and it has been one for the record books, in more ways than one.

images-2First there was the half-marathon (out-of-town!) that was cancelled after standing in a local restaurant watching the electrical monsoon on radar from 6-10am….HOPING to get a break in the weather, long enough, to eek out a 5k. Nope. Didn’t happen. I would’ve had better luck racing a kayak. This was a first for me.

 

A PR in race cancellation. Go ME!

I suppose the first time is always the hardest.

I still don’t like talking about it. Quite frankly, just thinking about it still pisses me off. Mother Nature and I have been butting heads for well over a year now and it’s getting a little tiresome. Sadly, it’s not likely to change anytime soon either.

1618654_704801236219574_290373926_nNow I’m left to running a local half marathon in 2 weeks. It’s going to be hilly and it’s going to be windy, as it’s along the beach then up and over a few bridges. Despite simply using these 13.1 glorious miles as a fine-tuning event for my 70.3 in early May (pace, nutrition…ie no taper for me), there’s no way to enter into it without some serious reservation. I know the route well and it’s going to be hard. A lot harder than the one that got rained out! So wish me luck and for Gods sake, some decent weather! That which doesn’t kill you, blah…blah, blah 🙂

sigh…

On a more cheery note, last weekend I finally DID get to race and even set a few records of the right kind!

I officially kicked off 2014 (better late than never!) with a duathlon!!! If you know anything about me, you know I find it totally rude to exclude a swim from any event. I’d just assume swim-run-swim or swim-bike-swim or just SWIM as opposed to anything else, but race directors never seem to approach me for ideas. Go figure??!!

And so the 2014 opener was just that….a RUDE wake up to the season, but man it REALLY felt good to race again!

It was a short event at 2-16-2, but it was challenging. It was about an hour north of the coast and it chocker full of rolling hills. I did several of my long 80-90 mi+ Ironman training rides/bricks out there so I know the roads oh-so-well!  As a side note, it was also the first time I got to take out this lady and put her to good use, along with a new fit which happens to be drastically different from what is seen here…

All KINDS of changes going on!

Jenns Bike

Recovering from Ironman has been a very interesting process with more ups and downs than I could ever try to explain. Regaining any semblance of speed has been difficult and frustrating. One day I’d have some, the next I was too tired to hit my warm up swim set. No way to describe it besides….Ridiculous. It was right around the first part of March that I began to notice a difference though. I could effectively hold a variety of paces, in all 3 disciplines, day after day. I was recovering better, I wasn’t feeling as sore and beat up, my mood was better….and I WANTED to race agin. The apathy was lifting. The bad case of “whatevers” that had seemed to plague me for months was waning. Almost 4 months after IMFL, I finally felt recovered.

And the timing couldn’t have been better!

There really isn’t a lot to say about a duathlon and if done correctly, not much time to think about the finer details much less write about them.

Run hard…not too hard though. Build the bike leg to the point the legs feel like they’re going to spontaneously implode, all while wondering how in the HELL are they going carry you through another run. Then run one last time…like your life depends on it.

Last weekend, I’m proud to say I nailed it. I’m not the best pacer in the world and that recklessness is magnified when I have to sprint. It’s something I’ve been working very diligently on across all three sports this off-season. I’ve been far less dependent on the technology and more on me. I still have the Garmin, power meter, and all that other “stuff”, but I’ve better learned what those numbers “feel” like. More importantly, I’m learning the art of “building” to a certain pace, speed, or wattage. It’s not an easy skill to achieve, but the benefits are well worth it.

My 1st and 2nd run were within 10 secs of each other and I rode well above my FTP for 50 minutes or so. In layman’s terms: I’ve gotten a little stronger, a little faster, and maybe even a little smarter. Naturally, I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be (particularly on the bike), but for the first time…maybe ever…I walked away feeling like I executed a race properly. Not perfectly, but I acted correctly…with purpose and intent. A definite first for me!

My reward….

I earned 1st in the 40-49 AG and received an awesome gift card to use at our local tri shop! Keep the medals and trophies…gimme cash to spend!! woo-hoo!

More importantly though, I finally got the chance to see where I am now, almost 5 months out from completing Ironman. I recovered really well from the duathlon which was the biggest indicator that I’m finally healed up, back to 100%, and ready to go full throttle once again.

Now if Mother Nature will just cut me a little slack…

But as I listen to the rain pelting the bayou behind the house and wind whipping the trees that doesn’t seem to be in cards anytime soon!

That which doesn’t kill you…..

Run Happy, My Friends!

happy runner

Ironman Florida: The Final Chapter

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It’s hard to believe its been well over a year ago since we all stood in front of this truck, after a day of volunteering, ready and excited for the challenges lie ahead.

r600x600A year later and an easy hundred years wiser, we all gathered again to celebrate the accomplishment…..and to to pay a bit of gratitude to those who were kind enough to TOLERATE us while preparing to go the distance.

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got cake?

Folks, it is not easy being the one that has to listen to this garbage day in and day out so it’s always nice to say a little thank you. Especially if you have ANY intentions of doing this crap again! 😉 But before we celebrated all that was right in the world, I had to attend to 1 looming issue….

a meesly 5k.

Once again, Mother Nature did not fail. A cold front blew in around 2am so the temperatures dropped and the wind howled. No it was not sub-zero and snowing, but just like you northerners have issues racing down here in the deep south come April/May (which really, it is NOT hot), we have issues acclimatizing to 35-40 F in November/December. But at least the rain had stopped!

There wasn’t a lot to this race because I’d had no Zone 4 work in a year. The only Zone 3 I had under me was when I would skate the upper end of Zone 2 during a half-ironman or when I was on the brink of heat exhaustion during summer training. So I really had no idea what to expect other than to not enjoy it one single bit. I find it’s better to just be brutally honest with oneself!

Heading out, I had NO idea what my best stand alone 5k time actually was and I didn’t want to know….I didn’t want it in my head. It wasn’t going to change anything for the better and MIGHT do so for the worse.

As everyone lined up, I picked out a few  people to “follow”, one of those being my husband. The gun fired and we all head out. The advice I was given was to just ease into the 1st mile. From there, instructions shifted to more of a”gimme 2 and make it hurt” approach. For what it’s worth, I don’t know if there is any possible way to ease into the first mile of a 5k, but I certainly kept it in mind.

During the first half-mile, I kept my husband within 100-200 ft, but then he was gone. I was still cold despite a nice warm-up and even though I felt like I was “working” hard, it didn’t feel impossible. Yet! I crossed 1 mile and saw 7:45 on my Garmin. This was unchartered territory outside a sprint triathlon (always run faster off the bike) and since I “eased” into the first mile I told myself, “Carpe Diem! This thing started sub-8 and it now gets to finish sub-8!”

So while I lost my husband (because little did I know he had visions of 22 minute 5k), I did pick out a couple of people who I needed to keep within my sights. There was one person, in particular, that I was keeping closer than normal. When the 2 mile chime went off and I saw 7:51, I was relieved to be holding pace since things were becoming increasingly difficult. Only 1 mile to go! Little did I know, this last mile would be into the wind and up a slight hill…

Ok, maybe it was more of a driveway-ish incline…

The nice thing about completing 140.6 miles is that it sorta gives the feeling of empowerment. That last mile was HARD and I REALLY wanted to stop for a second to reset my stride (excuses?) and catch my breath. In the past, I just might have done it. This time, I was able to think rationally despite both being hypoxic and drowning in lactic acid. I convinced myself that, “NO…stopping is NOT necessary! Its ONE MILE, less than 8 minutes…get over it, get it done!”

And so I did.

Almost a month to the day after finishing my first Ironman, I ran my fastest 5k…..Crossing at 24:29 and surpassing my previous time by 1 minute and 1 second. That effort was rewarded with 3rd in the 40-44 AG, 9th female overall, and 38th out of 200 runners. Consistency is a marvelous thing and I give a ton of credit to my wonderful coach that stresses THAT above everything else.

So what’s a girl to do after a year like this?

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Naturally!

As of Friday, we will be spending the next 9 days at the most magical place on Earth!

Here’s wishing all of y’all a safe and festive holiday season!

And always…

Run Happy, My Friends!

happy runner

Ironman Florida 2013- The Day

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The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing – Henry Ford
 
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Ironman Florida has come and gone and like most races, there has been a lot to process.

On the whole, the day was pretty good. There were no real mechanical problems, my nutrition was perfect for the most, and my training left me feeling more than capable throughout the event.

However, there are ALWAYS issues and the longer the race, the more ones (errr…my) weaknesses tend to effect the overall outcome. My biggest problem, during any race, is moving through the course with a sense of urgency. This, once again, proved to be my nemesis and left me crossing the finish line feeling very frustrated with myself.

Here’s how it all shook out….

We headed out, for Panama City Beach, on Wednesday afternoon. The drive down proved uneventful and that evening we hooked up with a friend, had dinner, and hit the grocery store.

Thursday we slept in and eventually made our way down to registration. I spent some time at the expo and then it was back to the condo to pack up our race bags. Our support crew was heading in that afternoon and I didn’t want any distractions as I got everything in its proper place.

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Bags packed and bowed for easy identification along the course

We woke Friday to an approaching cold front and along with it some very nasty wind, torrential rain, and high surf advisories. Any notions I had of a quick little swim and/or ride were quickly abandoned as the risk simply didn’t outweigh the benefit. Eventually we decided the rain was not going to stop anytime soon, so we braved the elements to check our bikes and drop off our transition bags.

This is NOT your sunny Florida!

This is NOT your sunny Florida!

Oh what fun! 🙂

With the bikes and bags taken care of we settled in for the rest of the afternoon/evening. We kept one eye on the weather and the other on whatever movie my husband could find….

My mom and dad had arrived the day before armed with our 16 yr old and a enough food to feed an army. It was so nice to not worry about what to eat and to also KNOW exactly what we were eating. There are not enough thank you’s for their hard work in keeping us all fed, hydrated, and relaxed….no easy task for sure!

Just around sunset the weather broke and we finally had a shred of hope for the following day….

sunset the night prior

sunset the night prior…water still choppy

I headed to bed around 9 pm feeling calm, confident, and ready to finally work out again. All week I’d been feeling very good. I wasn’t nervous. I didn’t have any anxiety. But the extra rest was leaving me stiff and achy. I was ready to MOVE!

RACE DAY

I woke up at 3:30 am….10 minuted before my alarm. I had slept the entire night. This is very unusual for me. I still can’t decide if maybe a little bit of nervous energy might have been a good thing….

Next Time..

We got breakfast, headed down to drop our special needs bags, load our bikes, pump tires, and then went back to the condo. The seas were still somewhat rough and my husband has an awful time with seasickness. He threw up throughout the entire 1.2 mile swim in May, in these very waters, and they were not NEAR as turbulent. He becomes violently ill when he scuba dives, participates in OWS events, and goes deep-sea fishing if conditions are not 100% ideal, so we knew today was definitely going to be an issue. So at approximately 6 am, an hour before we were to get in the water, I was giving him an IV dose of Zofran (anti-nausea drug used after surgery, during chemotherapy treatments, etc..) in hopes of making a bad situation tolerable. He has tried everything else, over the years, so this was our very last resort.

On a wing and a prayer…

side note: this actually helped reduce, but not eliminate the nausea and vomiting attributed to his seasickness. He had 2 minor episodes throughout the entire 2.4 miles but no residual problems once he got on the bike. He still managed a 1:15 swim.

IV meds in, wetsuits on, and we were off to the beach. I was still feeling good, not nervous or anxious. I was actually a little tired. It was a very weird.

Once we got to the beach, we made our way to the water’s edge. The waves that SOUNDED large from the road, were enormous up close. So much for the winds flipping to the north and laying the water down. It seems Mother Nature didn’t get the memo. We did get in for a few minutes to simply get wet and acclimated to the water temperature. There was no way you could do a warm up “swim” in those conditions.

SWIM:

The 1st loop, of this swim, was the most terrifyingly insane thing I’ve ever been through in my entire life.

I knew I wasn’t going to swim my predicted 1:10 because it was going to take forever to make my way thought the breakers. I elected to place myself in the back of the 1:10-1:20 group. Once we got into the water, I realized this had been a very bad decision.

This was a self-seed mass start. I honestly believe a straight up mass start would’ve been a better option. It would’ve allowed people to place themselves in a more strategic position, along the beach, and as a result made for an overall safer swim. I originally wanted to start to the far right of the buoys and let the current pull me into position, but I was unable to do so since that was where they placed the slower groups. Then there was the fact that the self-seeding process was a nightmare in and of itself. It seemed no one took into account WHERE they were swimming (the Gulf of Mexico is NOT a lake!), the conditions they were facing, and how that would affect their ability/swim time.

The water was rough, but these people were out of freaking control. The didn’t know their asses from a hole in the ground once the first breaker slammed them to the sand. It was downhill from there.

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The contact was brutal. I was punched, jabbed, dunked, elbowed, shoved, pushed, sat on (yes someone sat on me like a surfboard!), and kicked the entire first 1.2 miles.

I was about 300 yards in when someone grabbed the back of my head and forced it under water. As soon as I came up for air, someone grabbed my legs and pulled me under again. I got a few strokes under me before I was punched in the left eye socket. I had an excruciating headache until I was able to run across the beach and re-adjust my goggles before the 2nd loop.

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When I could find space to swim, I felt great. But those moments were few and far between during that 1st lap. During this time, I was having serious doubts. I’m a fairly capable swimmer and I have no open water issues, but that morning I was scared for my life. I questioned whether or not I’d be able to do another 1.2 miles like this. As I was spiraling deeper into worry and despair, I thought back to the words of my coach…..

“there will be ups and downs along the way and the bad patches will pass. The key is to just keep moving forward….”

So as the mayhem continued, so did I. And I found it particularly ridiculous that I was having such a bad “patch” 15 minutes into a very long day!! All I could think was, “Great, wonder what’s next??!!”

hmm, I wonder….

As I made my way to shore, wishing I was doing a 70.3 so the swim would be over, I was able to find sand and stand. I thanked GOD that I was still alive, ripped off my goggles, and my headache was gone….just like that!

AHHh, relief!

I had a gel flask in my wetsuit so I pulled it out, chugged it, and then pitched it as I ran across shore. Then I remembered my watch….

35 minutes for the 1st 1.2miles….Not bad considering I just swam through hell and back.

I rinsed my eyes with water (from the aid station) since I’d been swimming with a google full of salt, rinsed my mouth, said a prayer, and got back in for the 2nd loop.

It was like a totally different course. The water was still rough, but I wasn’t having the shit kicked out me and fighting for my life. It made for a MUCH more pleasant and relaxing swim. So much so, that I had to remind myself at the turn to stop lolly-gagging and get a move on.

Made it to shore once again and was feeling SPECTACULAR! I headed up the sand to the wetsuit strippers and then off to transition.

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

T1:

I grabbed my bag and ran into the changing tent. I didn’t sit, but I did a full change….which I will not do again. Trying to get a tri-top on while wet is a time-consuming task.

Helmet on, shoes on, sunscreen on, sunglasses in back pocket, crap back in bag, and out the door!

How this takes me so long, I have no idea. I have a really bad concept of time though because I swore I was only in here 5-6 minutes at the most. Not quite!

Time: 13:07

BIKE:

riding easy

riding easy

Ohh the bike! It’s where Ironman dreams flourish or crumble. And folks, I’m here to tell you, it’s not always about what happens on the bike! Sometimes things go quite wrong when you’re not even physically peddling!

I had a GREAT plan (by a great coach!) and I followed it to the letter.

Easy first hour, cruising like a granny going to church. I focused on hydration and eventually on nutrition. I let everyone who came out of the water AFTER me, pass me like I wasn’t even part of this event. No worries, it was going to be a long day. All I was thinking about was the 26.2 miles of unchartered territory to follow. As time clicked on, I finally hit the magical point where I could increase my speed a little and settle into my IM pace.

Not long after, I saw a group of people slowing, pointing and swerving to avoid something. As I got closer I spotted another racer on the ground. He was pretty skinned up, his bike had lost a few parts and pieces, but no one has stopped to check on him. So I did.

He was able to talk. I knew we were close to an aid station so I asked someone to let them know a racer was down and I went through the process of making sure this guy didn’t whack his head. He was still a little out of it from just the shock of crashing. His entire right side was fairly torn up and full of road debris, but that seemed to be the main complaint. Somehow his aerobar pads were dislodged when he hit the pavement so I retrieved those, his nutrition that had spilled, and made sure his bike was functional. The important stuff!! Race marshals eventually arrived with a radio and called for medical assistance. At that point, the downed racer thanked me and sent me on my way. I never thought to get his bib number or name, but I really hope he was able to continue and finish his day.

I got back to riding and just before the 30 mile point my stomach started to bother me. This NEVER happens (ok rarely) and it has really never happened on the bike. But then I don’t normally ingest a gallon of salt water prior to riding either. Honestly, I was grateful I just needed a porta-potty and wasn’t barfing my guts up like some folks riding along the course. Salt water is wicked!

I get to an aid station, pop in, take care of business, and I’m off again. I’m thinking to myself, “hey that didn’t take too long….not bad at all.”

And this is where it all went wrong. My piss poor concept of time allowed me to justify stopping. I convinced myself it would be faster to stop and do what needed to be done instead of multi-tasking…..working on the move.

I proceeded to stop at 3 more port-a-pottys, along the course, AND at bike special needs. I didn’t have any more stomach issues I just had to pee, wanted to re-apply chamois cream, or needed to mix a bottle. Sometimes stopping was more important than others, but the thing is, it AWAYS took longer than I thought. In my case….about 6 minutes longer per stop than I “thought” it was taking.

I went from planning on making bike special needs my only stop of the day, to stopping at 5 different points throughout the course. All totaled, it added up to just over 30 minutes of non-moving time that day.

GAAA!!!

When I set up my head unit, I elected to remove time from the display. I knew my wattage parameters, I had mph up on display, and felt that was enough. I didn’t want to be frustrated by how long it was taking me to move through the course and push for an overall bike split that would come back to bite me in the ass during the run. A fine and dandy idea, until I decided to stop half a dozen times.

The ride itself was pretty uneventful. My nutrition was perfect. My pacing was spot-on (minus the stop and go nonsense). The weather was beautiful.

It was typical Florida cycling with some rollers, a bridge or two and a lot of wind in every direction, but nothing unusually difficult. I felt great until some stomach/gas pain popped up during the last 20 miles and I was able to deal with that fairly effectively.

As I made the turn down Thomas Drive I was feeling pretty good about things, but still had no idea what my cumulative race time was at that point.

I slipped out of my shoes, rolled up to the line, and dismounted. A very nice gentleman took my bike from me the same moment I glanced at the race clock and saw 8:22. I said something along the lines of, “Well, that’s just fucking fantastic!”

I’m sure he was a tad shocked….

or maybe not…

I thanked him for taking my ride and trotted off to grab my run bag in a less than stellar mood.

Time: 6:48

T2:

I ran into the changing tent trying to figure out WHAT exactly happened out on the bike course. Obviously, I didn’t know THEN all that I know now and I was very confused. I expected to ride 6:10-6:20…6:30 if things weren’t going my way, but 6:48? WTF???

I was rational enough,however; to know that the middle of T2 was not the place nor time to dissect my Ironman bike split. I needed to get going. I changed shorts, grabbed my visor, race belt, gel flask, put on my socks and shoes, then ran out for the first marathon of my life.

Woo-Hoo!

Time: 8:36

RUN:

I headed out feeling pretty good. My legs felt nice, my back felt good, and my stomach pains were gone. As I made my way past the crowds, I looked at my watch at saw I was running a 9:00 min/mi and knew I needed to slow down.

1st and last mile was full of spectators

1st and last mile was full of spectators

My goal was to pace the run as evenly as I could. I was so focused on that pacing that I didn’t recognize friends on course, my husband until he screamed my name, or even what mile I was on until I would ask an aid station volunteer. I never had the cumulative time or distance pulled up on my Garmin. I ran with only the current lap/mile time and pace, nothing else mattered.

I was not a fan of this run course. It was 2 loops, out and back. It went into a residential area and then peeled off into the a state park. There was very little crowd support with the exception of the 1st and last miles. That wasn’t as much of an issue as the condition of the roads. I ran the HIM version in May and had similar thoughts, but it was raining and I felt maybe I just got a bad impression. Nope. This day only solidified my opinion. The roads were full of gravel and potholes. There were numerous portions where we had to run over very wide speed bumps (no going around…only up and over) and through sandy patches with makeshift plywood bridges. There was one section where we actually ran through a sandy/grassy patch of an outdoor restaurant. Bizarre and I didn’t like it, but that’s just me.

I was told I would feel pretty good for the first 10 miles and this proved to be spot on. The first 6 miles ticked off fast. I couldn’t believe how easy it felt. It seemed like my watch was chiming mile alerts one after another. I remember thinking, “only 10 will seem easy???…pfft, this is gonna be a piece of cake!” 😉 yeah, right!

I made it through the dreaded park (maybe it’s just me…I loathe that park) and was headed back to the turn-around and special needs, a place I need not ever stop…..but on this day, I did.

2nd loop, the effects of fatigue jacking with my form.. even though I didn’t “feel” it

I was feeling pretty good as I got close and had some decisions to make.

I knew I was over the half-marathon point and I was pretty much done with my gels by this point, so I elected to NOT grab my 2nd flask. I  had switched to coke at the aid station prior to special needs so I knew that’s how I was fueling from this point forward.

I’d had some ITB issues after my bike crash, a few months back, and ran the 1st loop of the run with my orthotics in hopes of keeping it under control. Now those orthotics were making my feet sore so I elected to switch to my regular insoles. In retrospect, probably not the best idea.

I grabbed a jacket, tied it around my waist because it was supposed to get cold and took my hand-held light to navigate the inevitable darkness.

This took me just around 6 minutes. The magical number for the day!

I headed back out for the 2nd trip and the miles are not ticking off near as fast. I didn’t “feel” tired, but I can’t seem to get my heart rate elevated enough to move any faster and it’s a very uncomfortable feeling. I drank more coke and then more water. For a minute I thought I might be volume depleted, but then I realized that would be near impossible.

At some point my left IT band really started to hurt and my left knee would periodically buckle. I was still able to run, but I’d have to stop and re-set my form every so often. This distracted me and I ended up skipping an aid station, which meant I skipped my dose of coke. This left me dizzy and feeling like crap before I could get to the next one. I made a quick mental note to never do that again….

The rest was pretty much more of the same. I ran until my knee wouldn’t allow it. Then I’d walk for a second because any longer than that and it would be impossible to start running again. And I always remembered the coke!

I never felt “bad” or even unusually tired. I just remember that my knee hurt and I was generally annoyed with the situation. Looking back, that’s probably a pretty good indicator of my overall fatigue.

At about 22 miles I was just “over it”. The run/walk seemed ridiculous and as the minutes ticked on I was growing a strong distaste for the state of Florida….Panama City Beach in general. I really wanted a nice hot shower, a toothbrush, and to ingest something other than coke. I also knew it was almost over.

The last mile was lined with spectators so it passed quickly. I could hear the finish line and was trying to dig deep and pull out a positive attitude. You hear so many stories about people doing cartwheels and crying when the cross the finish line. I was pretty certain I might be the first to throw my hands up and cuss like a sailor when I saw the clock. I still didn’t know my race time.

At that moment I had a short talk with myself. It went something like this….

What’s done is done. There’s no going back, only forward. You were fortunate enough to be here, healthy enough to start, strong enough to make it through the day, and you’re now armed with knowledge to carry forward. The only bad result, at this point, would be a bad finish. And the only way to have a bad finish, is to not take the time to enjoy the moment you’ve earned.

So as I rounded the corner and came down the chute, I promised myself to not be distressed by the number on the clock, but to be grateful for the end of a fantastic journey.

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smile!

And just like that it was over…

Time: 5:12

Overall Finish: 13:43

And yea, there was a little bit of, “13:43 are you serious?”

But that’s just who I am; always acutely aware of how I would’ve done things better.

Truth be told, this journey began closer to 5 years ago when my husband asked me what was on my ‘bucket list.” At that point neither of us even owned a bike and certainly had never even thought of entering a triathlon. We both grew up swimming, worked out daily, and ran here and there……but nothing remotely close to what we do now.

The evolution has been fun, exciting, and at times very frustrating….but it’s never boring.

So did I sign up for next year?

No.

I don’t have a great big urge to race IMFL again. And I don’t have a big desire to sit on my bike, for thousands of hours, for months on end quite so soon either.

Next year I’m going to stick to half-ironmans or shorter and work on the “little things” that have a tendency to add up over a long day! I’m fairly certain, my coach will use this opportunity to re-aquaint me with pushing the envelope a little, as well as to remind me that feeling uncomfortable (at times) is an actually good thing. 😉

If there is one thing I DO love about Ironman it’s the pace at which you train and race! And I’ll be ready for that again, armed with the knowledge and experience of Ironman Florida, in 2015….

at Ironman Texas!

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Run Happy, My Friends!

happy runner

Ironman Florida- 5 weeks and counting….

3

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Week 5 gave me a chance to finally chase the carrot once again!

While I was excited to finally be at a race, I felt very disconnected from it at the same time.

I wasn’t nervous, excited, or even remotely anxious. I slept the ENTIRE night before, which is totally unheard of for me. This was very much a business trip.

I mentioned last week that Augusta was about testing the plan. I did EVERYTHING I planned to do in Florida, to be sure it would hold up and for the most part it did. There were a few snafus along the way, some things I determined I would not be doing, and a malfunction (or two) as well. But through it all, I was able to remain levelheaded and get the job done.

The Augusta course is a lot like the New Orleans 70.3 course except with hills. The roads are narrow and rough which leads to a very crowded 56 miles on the bike as everyone is trying to find their own piece of smooth ground. I’ve never seen so many water bottles, cages, bento boxes, and flat kits all over a course as I did last Sunday.

The run is 2 loops through downtown and while some parts have great spectator support, other parts are pretty desolate. Fairly typical I think. The streets are chipseal and cambered for drainage. I was constantly searching for level ground, usually found right down the middle of the street. If you’ve ever run in a southern city, on roads that routinely flood with a heavy rain, then you know what I mean. New Orleans is the exact same and after a while the ankles and ITB typically voice their displeasure. Luckily, mine were quiet till very late in the game.

Oh and that infamous Augusta swim….

I think people must flock to this course because of the swim and the notoriously fast current. I decided (in the middle of my swim no less) that weaker swimmers probably benefit most here as far as times go. The “better” swimmers, on the other hand, can just sorta coast through and conserve their energy for later in the race, still banking an acceptable time in the process.

Let me just say, the weather was PERFECT! We started the day at 55F and 42% humidity. I CAN NOT even begin to express how nice it was to be cold! I didn’t sweat until the last quarter of the run when temperatures reached 82F and I’m not 100% it was happening at that point. There was never a point where I was hot or even thirsty. The sponges actually gave me chills! It was such a foreign feeling to be cool and not just wet! At one point, I actually questioned my need for salt tablets, but opted to “stick to the plan” and not make any changes.

It was so, so, SO nice to be out doing this stuff; to be fairly comfortable and not always be focused on managing my core temperature or be attempting to rectify early heat stress.

Very nice indeed! 😉

Here’s how the day turned out….

relaxed, not sleeping...I swear!

relaxed, not sleeping…I swear!

SWIM: The current was unusually fast this year and as a result we had to jump off the docks instead of treading water, prior to starting. My plan was to ease into things and conserve my energy. After the initial pulling and clawing for a lane was over, I went to some very relaxed swimming. If only Florida could be this easy! I had no concept of time, but the buoys were cruising right on by so I figured that was a good sign. Eventually, I was ready to ride so I swam harder to wrap things up.

Time: 27:33 (24/222)

T1: It’s a long run up from the water, through a mouse maze to reach transition. I was SMACK in the middle! I got to my goods, got my stuff, and out I went…Took forever (5:30)

BIKE: Ohhh how I love the bike and ohhh how I hate the bike….All week I had gradually seen my strength return as my legs finally got some rest, but then I developed all this glute pain. I think it was basically just part of the taper, only I didn’t really go through a full taper so it never went away…UNTIL AFTER the race….as in 2 hours after I crossed the finish line…POOF! Glute pain…GONE!  Bizarre.

Anyway, the course is hilly and I don’t care what anyone says about being a fast course or having their fastest times here…blah! blah! blah!

Its hilly….

My “plan” was to ease into the ride. Basically getting settled, riding at Ironman watts, and starting my nutrition plan. I hit the first climb and my wattage skyrocketed and I knew, despite everyone telling me to stay in my big ring, I was going to need the smaller in order to achieve the days goals. So I shifted….and dropped the chain!

Got off, in front of a course photographer, no less, repaired said chain and took off again! Rode along for a bit, shifted again to the smaller ring again and off it went…After that repair, I decided NO MORE of that!

The rest of the ride was just a lot of up and down, bumpy roads, and some wind thrown in for good measure. Most of my ride was spent focusing on nutrition and effort, with a little bit of “OMG, I can’t believe how cool it is, I’m not even sweating!” thrown in as well.

Someone told me it was downhill from mile 40 on….

That someone lied!

I was still going up at mile 50. It wasn’t awful, but we were rarely flat….a BIG a test of my mental fortitude with my biggest concern being my ability to run 13.1 after this kind of riding.

I was able to follow my IMFL nutrition plan to a tee and it worked like a charm!

Time: 3:01 (46/222) damn chain! 🙂

T2: Moved through pretty quickly, but I had to stop and pee….YEAHHH!!  Well hydrated! Legs felt good, I felt good…I was ready to run! (5:49)

finish line!

finish line!

RUN: I run out of T2, at what I think is a snail’s pace, get around the corner, look at my watch, and see 7:48. Immediately think, “Slow the f*%k down!” And I try. I get to mid 8s, then I’m back to 8 flat…..Finally I reach an aid station and I slow to a quick walk…Start to run again and I’m in the 9s. phew! Sanity prevails.

I ran in the mid 9 range, walking only at aid stations. Some had ice, some did not. Few had sponges, most did not. Sometimes they were every mile, other times they’d be every 2, and then maybe every 3/4 mile in some spots. There was no continuity so it was hard to plan, but something is better than nothing. However, it did add a nice chunk of time to my “aid station walk through”  waiting for them to find ice, coke, or whatever I needed/wanted….

Mile 9-10 I was met with the usual urge to start taking walk breaks, but this time I was ready for it. I waited for it to come and I could feel it creeping up on me….slowly.

In the past, I’d try to ignore it, pretend it wasn’t there. This time, I brought that feeling of discomfort to the forefront and faced it head on. I knew the sooner I acknowledged it, made the conscious decision NOT to succumb to it, that it would dissipate.

And it did.

By mile 10 I pitched my gel flask and switched to coke.

Something about that stuff, it’s like a jet fuel and an anti-depressant all in one. Almost as soon as it passed my lips, all was right with the world.

The run nutrition worked perfectly. I was having some issues with caffeinated gels while training and ultimately elected to keep them on the bike, but eliminate them for the run. It turned out to be the right choice, although it does take about 24 hours for my body to forgive me for dumping so much maltodextrin in it.

The run itself was a bit slower than I wanted, but knowing I would stop at the aid stations in Fl, my goal was to average a 10 min/mi (or less….hoping for less) for the 13.1 with stops. My run pace held steady 9s and so I just need to focus on being a bit more “forceful” at the aid stations. I’m picky about what I need/want, so I’m going to HAVE to speak up in order to get through quicker.

Time: 2:11(46/222) 10:01min/mi…

  • Overall Time: 5:51:58
  • 46/222 40-44 AG

So the question all week has been, “would you go back?” And my answer is, “Yes, but…”

I’d go back, but not because it’s the greatest course in the world. Galveston, is still by far my favorite because I like a 3 loop run. But like everything else, that’s a personal thing….

I really like the timing of Augusta. It’s a great race, don’t get me wrong, and its challenging. It gives me the opportunity to do some quality riding during the summer months when running billions of miles is near impossible with the temperature. It’s the perfect race, at the perfect time….

I don’t think I’ll train for an Ironman through the summer again. It’s just too hot and too humid. But having Augusta on the fall schedule would be perfect to keep me in shape THROUGH those dog days. Then, I would be ready to tackle the longer training once the weather broke to prepare for a spring Ironman…

hmmm, Texas???

First things first, gotta get through Florida!

28 more days!

Train Happy, My Friends!

thumbs_up_happy_face

Ironman Florida- 17 weeks and Counting…

0

Unknown-3Training and Racing…

It’s not as easy as it sounds, but sometimes it’s gotta be done.

Last week I crossed over into Texas….First stop was The Woodlands to pay a visit to my parents as well as my brother and his family. Later, we went a bit further west to San Marcos (about 30 miles outside of Austin) to get some pacing practice under our belts.

If training and racing is hard, throw vacationing into the mix and it might be downright impossible to do 100%.

Kuddos to you folks who race in Cabo, Cozumel, Switzerland, and Hawaii. I have no idea how you do it!

Once I got to TX, it was a constant struggle to stay on task with so many other things to do!! My coach was kind enough to back down the weekly workload to between 8-9 hours for the week and it helped to make things very manageable.

Traveling is just hard on the body…no way around it! So are all the other things that do and DO NOT occur while away from home and the normal routines. ouch!

Training was pretty much status quo, so I’m going to re-cap the race real quick since it was the most exciting thing that happened this week!

A little background….

I have not had good experiences racing in July in Texas. The most recent was a few years ago. During that short race I swore to myself:

  • I was going to die, that moment, on TX soil and
  • once I didn’t die, I was never racing in Texas, in July, EVER again!

Uh-huh…

Time has a way of dulling the pain I suppose.

I also don’t have very fond memories of the whole Olympic distance race itself. In fact, I didn’t even do a write-up, after the NOLA 5150 last summer, because my experience was so miserable I couldn’t think of one positive thing to say…

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t day it all…..right??

Uh-huh…

Again, that time and pain dulling thing must’ve been happening big-time this past year because once I saw this “fast and flat” Oly race advertised the same time we’d be visiting Texas….

I wasted no time signing up!

And just let me pass along….

Mississippi “flat” is night and day different from Austin, Texas “flat”….

The last bit of information to have is that not only was the Oly event going on, but there was also a sprint, Oly aquathon, sprint aquathon, and duathlons of varying distances happening as well. Basically there were hundreds of people racing and there was no way to distinguish who was racing which event….That 42 on the back of my calf meant absolutely nothing….

This day was all about personal time, which is how it should be….

But sometimes that gets lost in the heat of the moment, ya’ know how it goes!

Alrighty then…

SWIM:

This was a 1500 meter (or 1 mile) swim in a residential ski lake. It was a time trial, jump off the dock kinnda start and the Olympic Triathlon folks got to go before anyone else. The water was hot, like everything else in Texas. The plan was to swim a sprint pace. Well about 500 meters into that “plan” I felt like my head was going to erupt into flames. Thankfully my breaststroke pace is about the same as my free-style because I needed it. I had to get my head out of that hot tub for a minute. I quickly told myself to slow the f*%k down and returned to nice long, gliding strokes. All was fine until about 1000 meters when I ran into the herd of sprint swimmers who appeared, for the most part, to not be moving. It became a swimming obstacle course and for the first time in my triathlon career, I swam OVER several men. My apologies, it was not intentional…there were just so many people in the water not moving anywhere…I finally made my way to the slippery ramp and decided to exit to the right, in the mud instead, because people were…well, slipping. It was a good call. There was the little business of a 400 yrd run to the timing mat (whats up with this???) outside of transition….hearing the “beep” the swim was done….

Official Time: 31:25, out of the water in 29:42 though so I need to hustle to T1 a bit quicker

BIKE:

I thought it was flat, it wasn’t. I’m sure for some of you it would be, but for those of us who struggle to find ANY elevation it was like riding the Alps. I can handle climbing, I don’t, however; descend very well. And descending into 90 degree turns, loaded with gravel, makes me really uncomfortable. ALMOST as uncomfortable as racing on 24 miles of fresh chip seal. The roads were, by far, the worse I’ve ever ridden on to date…..and we have some shitty roads here in South Mississippi! Despite the days obstacles, the work got done. I was a little disappointed in my power profile as it hung right at my HIM wattage the entire time, but I was gently reminded of the fact that I was training for an Ironman not an Olympic distance event…..very different systems being utilized so in actuality the numbers were quite good! Well then….go me!

Official TIme: 1:16:15/18.7 mph

RUN:

The sun was shining, the temperature had climbed close to 96F and all that was left were 2 loops through a new residential development…..with fresh black top (where was THAT on the bike??) and not a tree in sight! There were aid stations with half-full shot sized cups of lukewarm water or some electrolyte mix every 1.5-2 miles. At one point I did stick my sweaty hand in the Igloo and grab some ice….Sorry folks, it was hotter than the gates of hell! This race was really about the run…..had I done enough training in the heat to survive? Can I pace the 1st two legs correctly, given the conditions, so I have enough to run the entire thing? The goal was simple: don’t think, just GO! So I did….there was a bit of walking, especially when I retrieved aid, but for the most part I slowly inched my way to the finish line. At around 4.5-5 miles I started to get cold and even got the chills. I knew the heat was catching up with me and I needed to wrap up the days festivities. The finish was 1/2 mile trail run down by the river, under a nice canopy of trees. Finally some shade….

Official Time: 1:00:39/9:48 min/mi

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I still look a little swollen from the effects of the heat. My face was puffy for quite a while!

  • Total Time: 2:51:55
  • 2nd 40-44 AG (the husband got 3rd in his 40-44 AG)
  • 13th women
  • 50th overall

All in all, it ended up a good day at the races. No doubt, this is fun stuff…. but it’s a rare treat when the hard work pays off in a tangible reward. Most importantly, I’ve gotten a good grip on my pacing. I tend to be more than a little greedy when it comes to swimming and cycling because I don’t “trust” myself as a runner. Over the past year, I’ve had to let that go and really learn the skill of racing. It’s nice to see it working as it should….

Never stop learning!

Run Happy, My Friends!

happy runner

Gulf Coast Half-Ironman Recap

8

Unknown-2So let’s do this thing…

It has been a really interesting year leading up to this event.

Back in December, when I decided to race IMFL, I hired a coach so this would be my 1st race with her guidance under my belt.

This would ALSO be the 1st 70.3 that I was racing uninjured. Ok, well technically its only my second 70.3 ever….

If you were lucky enough to spend any time around here last year, you’ll recall that I ran myself into a horrid case of ITBism/patella-femoralish something or other..

A little…..OK, major…pain turned into me continuing to train and irritating the femoral condyle right to the brink of a stress fracture, thereby;  ruining my inaugural 70.3 last April in Galveston. I was able to complete it and I actually found it to be incredibly easy (the lack  intensity or running more than 5 feet at a time MAY have something to do with that….)! So easy, that I then decided that an Ironman would be no problem! 😉

HA! Sweet, naive injured triathlete that I was! 🙂

I might have wanted to tackle one of these puppies healthy before becoming QUITE so confident in my abilities!

On May 11th I got my chance to do just that…

Training leading up to the day was perfect. Well, as perfect as you can get on the Gulf Coast in the spring. It was wet, windy, humid, hot, and sometimes even cold.

Did I mention it was particularly windy? I’ve gotten some awesome training rides and running miles along the beach in the wind. It was frustrating as hell at the time and it beat the crap out of me, but come race day I was so grateful I had battled 50+miles in those conditions!

Alright, on to the good stuff…..

We elected to do this race instead of Galveston because it basically IS the IMFL course. So it was a sneak preview of sorts…

We stayed at Shores of Panama and I guess there are plenty of college students always looking for something to do on the weekend because we had some rowdy neighbors. At 2:30am a lady, younger than I, proceeded to beat on her door and scream at her friends to let her in….at least I THINK that’s what she was saying. Her speech, while very loud, was a bit slurred. Every time she passed out got tired and simmered down, I’d fall asleep….for about 5 minutes before she started up again.

At 3:50 I gave up. My alarm was going off at 4am so it was time to get going….

The weather had been looking iffy and so I checked my laptop while having coffee and breakfast.

Woke the husband at 4:30. By 5am we were headed down the street to transition.

And it was gonna rain. The game became….”when do you think its going to happen?”

Got everything set up….computers, Quarq, food…the usual….stood in line to pee, grabbed the wetsuit and headed to the water.

6am or so transition closed.

SWIM

The swim was in the Gulf and actually, as far as sighting goes, as easy as it comes. 900+ yards out, turn left for 200 yards, then 900+ yards back to the sand.

The ladies went before the men and having waited over an hour to swim last year in TX, this made me very happy! I was the 2nd wave…YIPEE!!!

swimcgt

Honestly, I’ve never swam in the open gulf like this so it was a WILD experience. The gulf here, on the MS coast, is surrounded by barrier islands so we never get to play in waves like this (or blue water)….unless a storm is coming in.

We got a little beat up getting past the breakers, but once I got into a rhythm and figured how to sight and breathe, as the wave was cresting, I was good to go.

I felt good. I was swimming at my normal pool intensity and the only time I really had to pick it up was when someone tried to grab my feet. Very annoying.

As were the foggy goggles that were leaking….Grrr!

Swimming out here is just freaky. The water starts off very light blue then gets very, very dark and almost black as you get further out and the water gets deeper. Honestly, it is a bit hard to NOT think about our friends of the sea….with sharp teeth….eeks!

Swim faster!

I was in the lead group of my wave and we were starting to pass the girls in front of us.

As we got closer to shore, those breakers we had to dive under were now throwing us to the bottom of the gulf floor as they came crashing in….

Once I got to the point where the tide was pulling me back out I decided to get up and walk in….

Saw the clock: 41:15…mentally subtracting 5 minutes for wave starts 36:15 (forgot to start my Garmin until I was past the breakers on the way out….)

I ran out of the water and up the sand hill feeling really good.

I stopped at the shower (BEFORE the timing mat naturally!) and stripped my wetsuit there at the bench (no strippers today!) and off to transition…

Official Time: 38:19 4th in 40-44 AG

Lessons Learned:

  • don’t spend so much time rinsing off (1st in AG was 36:25…maybe she stopped at the showers, maybe not…)
  • new goggles on race day…not new style, but new goggles to help with fog issues
  • I need to push a little bit harder…not much….but a little

Overall, very pleased with this. Swimming the open gulf is wildly different from any other type of open water swimming I’ve done. It is much more challenging and in the end more fun I think. However, I’m not sure how I feel about getting back in and doing a 2nd loop for IMFL. I wish they would just leave us in for the entire 2.4 miles!

My husband proceeded to vomit his way through 1.2 miles! The motion of the ocean combined with the usual race morning nerves got to him about 800 yards out and it is amazing he made it back to shore in 35 minutes.

If anyone has any ideas or experience on how to resolve this, please pass it along. He battles it almost every race because if its not the waves it’s the other swimmers creating chop or the rescue jet skis. It’s starting to become a real problem and we’ve got to figure something out before IMFL because I’m not sure he can get BACK in for a 2nd loop if he’s barfing his guts up!

T1

Too long…whats new! Foggy sunglasses from me being cold and the humidity outside made it hard to maneuver. And I’m just slow…gotta work on it.

Time: 4:11

BIKE

This is where I felt the most prepared.

I’ve ridden my ASS off in some not so pleasant conditions so I was ready for what this course had in store.

It’s flat, it’s windy, and if you’re not ready for that it will tear your back to pieces because you have to tuck down and stay down for the entire 56 miles.

I was ready.

What I WAS NOT ready for, was the rain that started at about mile 30-35. Race tires and wet roads equal a scary combination. There were some bad accidents. Some got back on and finished, many did not.

The other thing I was not quite ready for….

The turn back towards the beach…towards and onto Thomas Drive. If you’ve done the race you know….the wind and traffic becomes INSANE.

Its like playing frogger in a wind tunnel…..the winds are blowing you all over the place and cars are coming out of the condos while we’re all riding 20+mph back to transition…

Oh and lets add in that rain….

I ended up with a nutrition fail because I was unable to reach behind me and grab my last bottle during the home stretch.

I figured if I crashed it wouldn’t matter anyway and so I kept both hands on wheel, figuring I’d deal with it later…

Apparently, I don’t “deal” well…

But at the time, I felt like a million bucks and it seemed logical!

Not tired, not achy, not labored ….legs felt ready!

A little side note about my bike…..my Qunitina Roo has been being rebuilt all winter/spring. It never fit right and my hips were always having problems so we went back and started from scratch. It got an entirely new cockpit, new components, and shorter cranks….I think the frame, seat, and race wheels are the same!

I picked it up 6 days before the race!!

Crazy, I know…

12 hours before I left for Florida I was having final tweaks to the aerobar placement because my lats were so sore I was doubting my ability to even swim!

Racing this bike would, no doubt, be the best or worst decision I’d ever made….

TIME: 2:50:27 (avg pace 19.7) 12th 40-44 AG

LESSONS LEARNED:

  • Spending the time to get my bike fit right was well worth the effort….AND it was a lot of effort, but I’m so glad I persisted
  • Finish up nutrition before the last 10-15 miles…just incase!
  • practice, practice and MORE practice really does make all the difference….

So many times I looked at my coaches plan on Training Peaks and thought, “ANOTHER 4hour ride?? she’s crazy!”

But at the end of the day….or the end of the bike rather, I was just where I wanted to be….

Racing the Kaptain was one of the best decisions of the day (no offense to Lola)!

11th in my AG and only 13 miles to go!

ONLY! 😉

T2

I was racked right next to a Porta Pottie…..YES!

No line so I popped in real quick and then things went a little something like this…

“Where the hell are my salt tabs?? OMG where are my salt tablets….HAS ANYONE SEEN MY SALT?”

I was freaking out just a lil’ bit….not a good way to start a half-marathon, but then neither is trying to finish up the back part of a half-ironman in a rainy humidor with no electrolyte replacement.

DANDY!

Time: 4:23

RUN

UGH!

I don’t really know what to say.

I was in panic mode before I got out of T2 and things went from not good to full-blown bad.

Headed out at around an 8:40 min/mi and backed off……A LOT!

I had been told to take the 1st 3mi slowly and since I didn’t have my salt I was taking it really slowly.

I said a small thank you to the Gods for providing rain…and clouds because it had been sunny its hard to think what may have happened!

So I make the grand decision to stop at each aid station and suck down Gatorade….No offense to folks down in Gainsville, but it really is nothing more than glorified syrup-water. If you look at how much salt is in the stuff vs how much you actually may need out there …

pfft…

I was praying that my husband was having the race of  his life and was back there gaining ground on me. I knew he had 4 extra tabs he wouldn’t be using so if I could just find him….

quickly….

Ohhh, another little tidbit….he broke his toe 2 days prior jumping on our boat so in reality, I knew he wasn’t running the footrace of his life out there!

Now I did see the pills all over the ground at various points, but if you think back to my neighbor beating on her condo at 3am….not everyone in Panama City Beach is there to race so I wasn’t exactly convinced ALL those pills were filled with salt! 🙂

I got to mile 6 holding between 9:30-9:45 and walking through the aid stations, but I was getting very uncomfortable….

Miles 6-8 I had to start walking between the aid stations…

It was raining, I was wet, my toes had blisters from running in the puddles, my stomach was sloshing, I had a side stitch, my ankle hurt, and my right glute was starting to cramp.

I physically hurt everywhere.

15204_554949727870313_1702484667_nThis was no longer fun…I didn’t like, I didn’t want to be there. I felt like everything was going wrong, but more importantly I couldn’t set my head straight.

I could not get rid of the negativity of the day and embrace it for what it was….

I wasn’t breathing hard, my heart rate wasn’t too high…

It just sucked…

Around mile 9 I found my husband and took his salt. He was run/walking on his broken toe and having way to much damn fun!

After the fact, he said I didn’t look so swell….

Ya’ think?

I ate the 1st 2 salt tablets and hoped they would turn my day right-side up…..didn’t happen.

At mile 10-11 I made the very sound decision that I was NOT doing Ironman Florida. Hell, maybe I was never doing another race again…certainly not a running one, but I was 100% out of Florida. They could keep my money and we’d chalk it up to rash decision making….

hmmmmm?????

Then I looked at my time….

No way would I make my goal, but I’d better my Galveston time. It would be hard not too since I started the day “whole”…..

And I became even more pissy….

mad at the rain, at my legs for feeling like bricks…

“WHY can’t you move any faster??”

mad at the bumpy road, back on the bike leg, for causing my salt to fly out of my top….

Shit, I was mad at the girl running the other way with her headphones on…AND she was on mile 2! At least I was almost done!

Mile 11 I decided…no more walking. No more prolonging the agony. No matter how slow, no stopping till the end.

AND BTW, someone needs to learn how to measure because this course is long by about .5 mile. THAT, my friends, is a long way when you’re teetering on the edge….

When I finally made it to the chute and saw the clock, I realized my math skills are still questionable….

The clock read 5:58

and I started 5 minutes after the clock….which means 5:53

I made it in under 6 hrs!

Goal realized!

I don’t cry often….not birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, sappy movies….however that almost got me, but I had no juice to give up.

I’d left every bit of fluid out there!

Time: 2:16:20 (10:25 min/mi for 13.1, but I swear its long!) 20th in 40-44 AG

Lessons Learned:

  • I’ve got to work on my mental game, that’s gonna be huge for me this summer…no more complaining about what can’t be changed….bad habits must be broken! For what its worth, this run was only about 10-12 minutes off what I planned, so while it wasn’t ideal it also wasn’t the great American tragedy I was making it out to be in my head…if I was a mentally sound racer, that time would’ve been a bit better and far less painful!
  • Extra nutrition and electrolytes must be plentiful in the future! Extra…extra…extra…Just Incase!!

FINAL RESULTS:

5:53:38

14th 40-44 AG

335 overall

What a day!

And I’m not gonna lie, I’ve never been so glad to cross a finish line in all my life!

But this was more along the lines of where I expected my time to be last year….

and, if I’m honest, how I expected it to feel too.

This stuff is hard! Last year I was lulled into a sense of security because I couldn’t really race the distance. I went to the event and participated, but I had to lower my intensity and expectations because my knee just couldn’t take it. THIS time I got to experience it all….

And that experience is what will wind up being the best teacher of all.

Oh and incase you were wondering….

I’m still in for Ironman Florida!

Race Happy, My Friends!

racer

Osprey OWS Race Recap

10

Screen Shot 2013-04-15 at 8.04.30 AMI’m a smidge behind around here, so I’m trying to play catch up this week….

About 2 weeks ago, we had our 1st OWS even here on the Mississippi Coast. My husband has been over to Pensacola for the 5k/10k OWS they hold over there, but this was my 1st stand alone open water event.

Leading up to the day, I was so excited to just be swimming! No worries about biking or running!

My excitement dampened as the week progressed because we were inundated with rain and wind as a cold front blew through. We awoke to 47F outside with water temps somewhere around 69-70F.

Mother Nature was has certainly been laughing her ass off this year.

The race brochure stated the 1/4 mi and 1/2 mi swims would go BEFORE the 1 mile and so I had planned to swim with 1 of those groups as a warm up. I’m not really sure what happened, but at 8:00 it was announced that all 1 milers needed to get in the water and wade to the starting buoy….

Obviously we missed a key bit of info as my husband didn’t even have his swimsuit on, much less his wetsuit!

So off he runs (at least someone got a warm-up!) to change and off I go into the frigid muddy water known as the Mississippi Gulf.

My plan was to draft off my husband for the first few hundred yards. I figured by then he’d be at full speed and I wouldn’t be able to hang on to his feet any longer. I had to take what I could while the getting was good.

Well, its nice to have a plan and all….

I see the familiar black and green wetsuit running towards the beach, into the water, and to the starting buoy just as the horn fires. The familiar feet and toes are LONG gone before I can get through 2 pulls.

Oh well!

Now the thing about inaugural races is that there are always kinks to be worked out.

The thing about racing an inaugural event is that you, the racer, get to experience those kinks!

1 mile in the open water is a long way and a swimmer really needs to be able to sight well. Add a little chop, waves, and current to that mix and it becomes even more essential.

4 buoys over a 1 mile triangular course really wasn’t enough. 2 of those buoys were at the turn so there was a lot of swimming with nothing to guide you in any direction.

The lifeguards were not all that familiar with OWS events and 1 actually ran me over…..nothing major and I kept right on moving, but still….

And then there was just the very unique experience in and of itself. As a triathlete, I’m accustomed to a TON of folks in the water and I never realized how much I use those people for sighting. We had about 40 out there on this day and I felt like I was totally alone.

It was very different from what I’m accustomed to when swimming in the open water and while it didn’t bother me, I could see how it could be a bit unnerving if someone wasn’t very comfortable in the water.

All in all it was a great experience and fun day.

o66wqMy speedy husband got so lost he ended up swimming 1.45 miles instead of 1 and STILL did it in 28 minutes. He came away with 4th overall and 1st in his AG!

He really is part fish!

I only managed a mere 1.02 miles since I can follow directions a bit better and don’t get quite so lost, a-hem… 🙂

30:30 and 8th OA/3rd in my AG.

A huge improvement over the 39 minute 1mi OWS last year and with a hell of a lot less effort as well.

Nothing like seeing all that work in the pool paying off and it was the perfect confidence booster for Gulf Coast 70.3 the following week over in Panama City Beach…..

which meant another OWS in a much rougher, unprotected part of the Gulf of Mexico.

Ahhh, if I had only known then what I know now….

but that’s for next time

🙂

Swim Happy, My Friends!

swimmer

Traditions Triathlon Race Recap

5

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Surprise! Surprise!

I’m a bit behind getting this out….

No rest for the weary around here!

After the race, I jumped right back into a 14 hour training week. It’s taken me until today to catch my breath and put down a few thoughts about the race itself.

There were a few goals and objectives heading into this event:

  • Negative split all 3 areas
  • Improve transition/move through with purpose
  • Race “my” race..DO NOT race to place…***BIG ONE***
  • Come out 1st in my AG in the swim

Most of these were instructions given by my coach, which I agreed upon whole-heartedly….and 1 may have been an expectation that I simply demanded of myself.

Race morning was a crispy 47F outside…

Water temperature was hovering around 60F…..That might as well be Arctic waters for us in South Mississippi. Just so you know, I have to talk myself into the pool at 78F….

So we’re racked and ready…..and decide to head down to test the waters.

It was cold. I couldn’t feel my face, hands, or my feet. I couldn’t tell if I was kicking or feel my stroke at all….My face was the worst…..it was totally numb and I was getting a headache after only being in a few minutes…

Luckily it was a short 600 meters!

However, I did decide this must be how people die during the swim portion of triathlon. They get into this cold water and go all out and have some sort of vaso-spasm or constriction. After being in this frigid lake, I totally see how it could happen, especially on a longer swim. I promptly decided to simply SWIM…..to hell with speed. Nice full strokes and get the hell out was now the objective!

SWIM

It was a time trial start and I was #24. My husband was #25. I hit the water and no sooner than I thought, “Holy shit this cold!” did I see him FLYING by me on the left. I said a small prayer that HE didn’t have a heart attack and focused on smooth strokes and sighting.

I ended up with a really good swim. I went buoy to buoy….didn’t swim ANY extra distance or stray off course. I swam the last 300m faster than the 1st so I achieved the goal of a negative split…

AND….

I ended up 1st in my AG in the swim with an average pace of 1:36/100y. 🙂

I wasn’t so happy with my overall time, but considering the conditions and how I swam.. I’m coming to terms with it more and more each day!

BIKE

This is a hilly course and I don’t ride or race hills often so I knew pacing was going to be an issue, but I was up for the task.

This was also my 1st race with my Quarq power meter. I was given no rules about power/wattage(yeah!!) other than to go all out. I believe phrase “violent effort” was how my coach actually phrased it, but I also had to keep that negative split in mind…

Heres the interesting thing, I rode the entire course and never looked at my speed once. All I checked were my watts and cadence…

It’s official, I’ve been converted to a power meter junkie!

I ended up with an average of 162 watts/18.7 mph for the ride AND I did pick up more wattage on the back half than the front….AND the back half had a touch more elevation as well… so all in all I paced perfectly.

Could I have ridden harder? Probably…hard to tell. I wouldn’t exactly call my effort “violent”, but my ability to pace was spot on so since that is a key skill I’m focusing on for my 70.3 and 140.6 I’m going to take it and run….so to speak

Last time I raced this course, a few years ago, I was averaging closer to 17.1 mph…Progress is a good thing!

RUN

This run course sucks. There is no nice way to say it. It’s VERY hilly, but that’s not the issue. The problem lies with the terrain itself. There are two very steep areas that are off-road.

The 1st area is right around mile 1 and it’s a mix of sand, clay, and rock. The 2nd is closer to the end, around mile 2.5, and is a winding trail with pine straw covered rock.

This wouldn’t pose a problem if you have trails to run on daily, but for those of us…or just me….who don’t and who also have VERY flexible ankles/feet and are running in flat shoes with lock laces it just doesn’t work real well. In order to do this well, I’d need a very supportive shoe and real laces to lock my ankle in nice and tight!

As a result, I walked most of the off-road areas. I simply wasn’t willing to roll an ankle (happened more times than I care to count on much flatter surfaces) 4 weeks away from my half-ironman.

That being said, it was still a good run. I again, was able to negative split the 5k by keeping a lid on myself as I came out of T2. I do have a tendency to go out too fast so I’ve worked countess hours on run pacing strategies and they are finally starting to pay off…

I averaged under a 8:50/min/mi for the 5k and while I expected a bit more, I was generally pleased considering the circumstances.

TRANSITIONS

ehhh….not good, not great.

T1 was a nightmare coming out of that frigid water. Everyone was right around 2-3 minutes and I was closer to 3.

I helped my husband get his jersey on since his hands were numb and to be perfectly honest, my brain was not working….co-ordination was off… I seriously doubted my ability to even RIDE my bike!

T2 was fine. I was on the far side so it took a bit longer to get in and out, but I did so in just over a minute. I was pleased with that…there was not much more I would’ve done here.

OVERALL

I ended up about 3 minutes faster than the last time I was here. I’m told I can’t compare my times, on a course, year over year because so many things other than performance can effect the outcome.

Lucky You….I’ll spare you the paragraph about how I wanted improve more than 3 minutes and all the many ways I would’ve done so!

All in all it was a good day. I didn’t place like I’d hoped, but that wasn’t really the “ultimate” objective.

My coach gave me an A+ for the day and I also gained some precious wattage for training and racing purposes…YEAH!  🙂

I think the most valuable thing I’m seeing develop is that ability to pace successfully.

In the past, I’ve pushed so hard riding in attempt to “make up time” for what I’ll loose on the run because I’m not a 6-7 min/miler…I’ve had a really hard time buying into the, “make it up on the run” philosophy. But by backing off a bit on the bike, I’m able to run a bit closer to my stand alone 5k time….or 13.1 time in day-to-day training.

As days go by, that gap is closing and we continue to tinker with workouts and get closer to the correct formula. It’s definitely an art and takes a lot of diligent effort, but there is no doubt, the longer the race the bigger the return.

So what’s next you may ask??

Well let me tell you because I am SOOO excited!!

In a few weeks we’re having our 1st OWS here on the MS Gulf Coast!!

Screen Shot 2013-04-15 at 8.04.30 AM

1 mile in the Gulf!

I CAN NOT WAIT!

No worries about biking or running after…..or how fast can I get my wetsuit off….

Just 1 mile…

How fast can you go??

Woo-Hoo!! Good Times!!

Swim Happy, My Friends!

swimmer