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

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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

Alive and Well…

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It’s a good day!

I’ve made it through the biggest build phase for Gulf Coast 70.3 and so this week I’m rewarded with some well deserved rest….plus a little sprint tri on Saturday.

My last event was back in May, but March 2012 was actually the last time I took part uninjured. This was also when things began to fall apart. 2103 has been a year of change in effort to keep this body in motion!

images-2The most monumental thing I’ve done is hire a coach.

When I decided to race IMFL, I felt like I needed the help to get through the year uninjured. I really believed I trained fairly hard and so maybe a little help backing off would keep me in the game, so to speak.

Time would show I wasn’t REALLY working as hard as I thought!

It was fun and games through base training.

Then we began the building blocks. Every day was harder than the next and I started to quickly see where I had been slacking in the past.

I quickly learned it was a bad idea to look more than 1 day ahead in Training Peaks. It was just better NOT to know!

Amazingly, as hard as it was though, I was able to complete each session, recover, and get up and do it again. Most evenings I went to bed feeling like I’d been in MMA fight, but by morning I was ready, willing, and able to repeat the process. The ability to absorb what she was giving me was simply remarkable.

I wasn’t carrying residual soreness or on the brink of injury.

During this last week, which naturally contained the highest volume and intensity to date, my hips started to get a little snarky. I have to believe a 4 hour bike/run brick followed by a 2 hr run the next day would do that to most of us mere mortals though.

It was a very manageable snarkiness and as I come up for air (and coffee) today, I’m realizing how vital it was/is to have an experienced coach to guide me through the process.

The race results will be what they will, but to make it through these workouts successfully after the year of injuries I’ve had speaks for itself.

Everything happens for a reason….

If I hadn’t been graced with the stress fracture, I would’ve never understood how much day-to-day help I needed. I would’ve never made that step to align myself with what will, no doubt, end up being the most valuable training tool I have…..

My coach…

Yesterday, as I finished up my run…hot, exhausted, and with sore feet…it truly felt like the end of a long race.

It didn’t matter how fast I was going only that I was still able to go….

I knew the hardest of the work was done and my body had held up. I was so happy and so grateful to have been able to complete every single bit of it because you just never know.

Sometimes we take that for granted…

injury…illness….it changes perspective a bit.

So now it’s race week and ohhhh it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to chase that carrot!!

Time to pick a tri kit (blue or red??), get the pedicure, pull out the wetsuit, and grease the chain…

Good times are ahead!

Race Happy, My Friends!

racer

Weekend Shout Outs

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This is a HUGE weekend for racing all around the country!

Lots going on from coast to coast.

From Vineman and Lake Stevens out on the West Coast to Ironman Racine 70.3 in the Midwest.

Despite the scorching temperatures, I’m a wee bit jealous to be a spectathalete this weekend and not suiting up in my spandex.

😉

Have no fear though, I shall be utilizing every ounce of personal endurance to stalk track all of y’all, sending good mojo your way…

The badass award of the week will have to be shared amongst Steena and Jeannie.…both of whom will be finishing their 1st 70.3 this weekend!!

Rock on Ladies! Way to set a goal and get it done!

Good Times will definitely be had by both; a day to remember!

Also there will be some others out there mixing it up doing great things….

Becca taking on Vineman 70.3 and kicking its ass again this year. Stuart will be tackling it as well after battling injury these past few weeks. Gee, we all know a thing or two about that around here, don’t we???

Corey and Jeff will be out at Racine 70.3, with Steena, setting course records on the bike/run no doubt!

And as for the rest of you racing and I know there are many….

Well, y’all know what to do,

Race Smart….

Race Strong….

and as always….

Race Happy, My Friends!

Memorial Herman 70.3 Re-Cap

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I know, I know….

I’m slow.

I’ve had a lot to catch up on, tons to figure out, and even more to come to grips with over the past week since our return from Galveston.

More on all that later.

As y’all know, this race capped off a very stressful 3 weeks. Again I will say how much I appreciated everyone’s support and encouragement.

The online stalking and the text messages/tweets/phone calls were a very welcome sight upon making my way to the truck. I thought of y’all often…especially as I wondered what in the hell I was doing out there with only 1 functioning leg.

Then too, I’d see someone like Brandon.

Brandon is a blind triathlete from Houston who races with VERY…and I mean VERY minimal support. You can read his story here, but seeing him out there racing was AWE-SOME-INSPIRING.

He was out there giving 110% with what he had and VERY happy to be out there doing it in the Texas heat.

I’d love to have the privilege of helping someone complete an event such as this one day, and so my “Bucket List” has grown a tad longer now.

Isn’t that how it goes…

Scratch off 1 thing….add another! 😉

Ok, so as the weekend unfolded we had a hell of a time getting out of here on Thursday.

To make a very LONG story short….

What could go wrong did….

We ended up leaving Mississippi around 4pm for the 7hr drive to Houston.

The original plan was to leave at noon…..didn’t happen.

We had to make an hour pit-stop in Louisiana to have my husbands 1080 race wheel repaired because no one on the MS Gulf Coast could get their heads out of their asses long enough to get it done. We gave them a week and Thursday morning I had to retrieve the wheel and hope it could be repaired in Houston before the race. Luckily, a shop in Mandeville (right on the way) said they could do it lickty split and they did…

Yeah for The Spokesman!!

BUT, another delay…

so around midnight we roll into Houston…ARG!

We spent Friday just relaxing at my parents house, hanging out with my brother and his family; then come Saturday we tried to make the quick drive to Galveston.

HA!

The normal hour drive, took almost 2 1/2. It was bumper to bumper, grid lock traffic the entire way. WTF???

I had the privilege of listening to my husband explain, ‘THIS is why we live in BFE. I would shoot someone if I had to put up with this crap day in and day out. I have 2 red lights to get to work and 2 red lights to get home”

blah, blah, blah

To which I replied, “Yes, and we are lucky enough to have 2 Wal-Marts, 20 Dollar Stores, and 15 Waffle Houses between those 2 red lights. What more could a girl ask for in life???”

This is an ongoing debate in our house as you may have figured and why I’m convinced I DO actually live in hell…or at least slightly north, in purgatory.

We finally make it to Galveston and the 1st thing I start looking for is the wind. The flags are whipping and the palms are swaying. DANDY! I get that “pit” feeling in my stomach..

Then remind myself, “Lady you LIVE in these conditions and ride in them all the damn time….suck it up buttercup and quit your bitchin!”

We stayed at the host hotel, Moody Gardens, and it was wonderful. We will definitely do THAT again. Traffic is a nightmare in this town, so to have the luxury of parking and not NEEDING to drive again (and listen to a certain someone) was bonus!! 😉

We got our race packets, I did a little expo shopping, hooked up with our friends from New Orleans, tried to solve our friend’s ever-present 12hrs before race “my power meter doesn’t work” problem (which never got rectified…), and then racked our bikes.

It was now 6pm. The 4 of us had 6:30 dinner reservations and we were all a hot sweaty mess. So much for a nice and relaxed pre-race afternoon.

I think I made it to bed by 10:30 or so.

4:20 the alarm went off and I headed to my spot in the bathroom to make coffee. My husband is NOT (gasp!) a coffee drinker and slept in until around 5:15 and then showered to loosen up….that’s his coffee! whatever!!

Transition opened at 5am and closed at 6:45am.

1 thing AquaDoc does NOT like and that is to be surrounded by  a bunch of nervous energy as it screws with his head. He’s normally very calm and sedate until you get him around a bunch of jacked up folks. Then he starts getting’ all jacked up himself.

Transition=Jacked Up Folk with Nervous Energy

Therefore, we usually get to body marking about 30-45 minutes before the place closes up.

The plan was to get down there around 6.

As I drink my coffee, I’m analyzing every ache in my knee and leg. I start thinking about the breeze I can hear outside the room. I hear my dads voice as he warns me about the front coming through and the winds “picking up”. In my head, I see those buoys in the water and wonder if all those miles I’ve been swimming will carry me…

I wonder why the damn hotel doesn’t have a mini bar??!! Kidding….sorta…not really…

Then I go back in time, and pull out a file from what seemed like so long ago:

Obviously a very different plan was in mind when I originally wrote and posted this, but the fact that it still pertained to the day ahead struck me as both ironic and symbolic.

A little back peddling….

Friday there was some concern that my leg/knee pain…whatever the hell it is….may not be ITBS but more of a “baby” stress fracture.

Apparently the bone bruise/bone marrow edema and the joint effusion on the MRI is not really indicative of ITBS at all. I guess that would show up as a thickened band and that’s not whats there al all. GREAT!

 So while I wasn’t forbidden to participate in this event, I was advised to take it down several notches.

Uhhh, ok so whats that?

I was advised to use it as a long training day, to hover around Zone 2-lower 3 keeping RPE right in the middle. This wasn’t a day to prove anything and I was supposed to start accepting that.

Thanks for the 48hrs notice!

So with that in mind, we head down to get body marked and set up our transition areas.

My husband was heading into the water at 7:20am and I wasn’t jumping in until 8:20am. I had a ton of time to continue coming to terms with the rest my day!

I do loathe sitting around and waiting…

Lets move on to the good stuff, shall we??!! 😉

THE SWIM

I spent a good 90 minutes watching everyone else line up, walk to the end of the pier, jump in and swim.

Those buoys seemed sooooo far away. I tried not to focus on it as I chatted with a few people hanging around watching as well.

I did see 1 swimmer be rescued and felt really bad for her as she had to dismount the jet ski, climb up onto the pier, and walk through the long line of racers heading TO the water. It would seem to me there would have been a better way, but that’s just me!

 The 40-44 women (that’s us in purple caps!) lined up about 8am and started walking towards the end of the dock.

We jumped in at about 8:17 and had to tread water for exactly 3 minutes before the horn fired.

The last thing I remember thinking was that my husband was already out on the bike course and that I was sooo jealous!!

Once I started swimming everything was fine. All worries were gone and I settled into the nice groove I established earlier in the week at the pool. I knew how I wanted this to feel so I simply found it and stayed there. A few times that natural tendency to push kicked in and I sped up, but quickly I reminded myself of the length of the day and dialed it down.

There were only 2 uncomfortable moments.

1 was when I got kicked in the jaw, rather forcefully, by someone doing breaststroke and the 2nd was when we passed the men from the previous wave. A rather large man swam on top of me as I rounded the 2nd buoy and for a brief moment I couldn’t get out from under him. These were more annoyances than anything else and remaining calm was key to continuing on without any difficulty.

I swam until my fingers dug dirt and rose to my feet. I wasn’t dizzy, winded, or aggravated… which meant I swam it right…FINALLY!

My goal was a comfortable 40 minutes.

I looked at my watch as I was coming out of the water and it read 8:59.

39 and change BINGO!

I headed to across the timing pad and to the wetsuit strippers.

Then it was into T1…for a short eternity.

Official Swim Time: 40:36

T1

First I will say I was a long way from bike out. Then I will say I just really wasn’t in a real big hurry to get anywhere. I need to work on that attitude and it is one of my focus areas for the rest of the season. I lolly gag in transition and its gotten worse with time, not better. I have no idea WHAT I’m doing, but I’m pretty sure its non-productive.

That being said….feel free to hold me accountable to lowering my transition times! It shouldn’t be hard! Are you ready for this….

Official Time: 6:10

BIKE

To say that the Galveston community was a little focused on the cycling portion of this race would be like saying a kid kinnda likes Christmas.

A certain “someone” was in town and all eyes were on him….including many of us out on the course IF we were lucky enough to have that opportunity. I was not one of them.

My husband was. And now he will spend the rest of his life wondering why HE too can’t ride a bike like that??!!!

The course was 28 miles down the seawall and 28 miles back.

Not too technical, but I didn’t have a computer and somewhere around mile 15 I started going stir crazy.

It was windy, my ass hurt because I opted to use my Cobb saddle instead of the ISM Adamo(….don’t ask??!!), and I had no clue where I was from a mileage standpoint. I was wearing a simple Polar watch to keep time of day ONLY…so I knew how long I’d been out there and could approximate the distance, but without a computer everything was a guess.

It was terrible and I’ll NEVER do that again.

Once I hit the turn around my mental status improved, but my physical one deteriorated. That saddle had made riding in aero near impossible. I was up and down, up and down, up and down. I was squirming every which way to find a comfortable spot and there was just not one to be had. Finally, I decided to ride the rest of the way out of the bars. I was more comfortable and felt faster despite being a sail in the breeze.

While my crotch was burning like a California wildfire, my legs felt spectacular! I could’ve ridden ANOTHER 56 miles at that pace (with the right seat) and at some point during my thought-provoking ride, I decided THAT was just what I would do.

I was going to do a FULL Ironman!! Yup, what a great time to make truly rational decisions. But I had nothing else to do out there, so I started planning for the future.

I also saw some GREAT pieces of property, so if you’re in the market for a home on the water… Google: Galveston Beach!

There were a few times I decided to check my heart rate, for old times sake and 135-138 tended to be my range.

I gave myself a pat on the back for following “Plan B”!

Despite coming out and only using this as a long workout, I really wanted to be off the bike in 3hrs. Didn’t happen. Damn!

Official Time: 3:09:03

T2

Glory Days. I was finally able to get my ass off that seat!

A quick look at my watch and I saw it was a little after noon.

GREAT! 80F…. 85% humidity….High Noon Sunny….and I don’t think I can really run 13.1 miles so this is gonna be a long afternoon.

I got my bike racked, changed shoes and decided to stop and pee. No records were being broke today so I decided there was no need to piss my already funky britches.

Another day…Another time!

I chatted with a couple of very happy guys in the porta potty line…I guess everyone’s giddy once they’re pardoned from bike seat hell….got bathed in some of the most acne inducing sunscreen known to man (I’m STILL breaking out from that crap)….said a few Hail Mary’s and begged the Tri Gods one last time to let me run this thing…

and I was off and running, sorta…

Official Time: 7:06

RUN…err WALK…err SHUFFLE

1st I don’t want minimize the task of running 13.1 miles and especially 13.1 miles after swimming 1.2 and cycling 56.

We all know what our bodies are capable of doing. My annoyance was not with the time as much as it was with the fact that my body couldn’t perform to its full ability.

That being said, this was a hot 13.1, but definitely the easiest for me b/c of doing it so slow.

It was a 3 loop course that covered the grounds of the host hotel PLUS a mile strip at an airfield just outside of the transition area. THIS airfield sucked! BIGTIME! It was hot, lonely and seemed to go on forever. I heard more people complain about that than any other part of the race. I kid you not, we all looked like zombies making our way around that loop. It was sheer misery!

I ran from aid station to aid station and my knee held up for the 1st 6 miles doing this. I would break and walk for a minute or so when I did reach an aid station and get water, oranges (My LORD, I’ve never eaten so many oranges as I did on this day!), and cold sponges.

No doubt about it, it was hot as hell out there and people were dropping like flies…mostly from various types of muscle cramps. My husband included. He ended up walking the 2nd half of the run course and having a VERY difficult time doing that because of some wicked calf cramps. He had ZERO electrolyte support during his training and racing and it came back to bite him in the ass. I saw him on my 2nd loop and was surprised to a) see him because I figured he was long done and b) shocked that he looked as awful as he did. I was ready to stop for a second and chat, but there was no way he could stop moving for even a second or really muster any form of conversation because he was so focused on a certain pattern of movement to keep his legs from seizing. In the end, his run time was almost as long as mine! But this type of thing was going on everywhere around me. So I felt pretty good about my nutrition plan. I think even if I was truly running, I would’ve been fine.

After about 6 miles, my knee started giving me problems and I ended up having to walk more than run. However, the more I’d walk, the more my quads and hamstrings would start to tighten so when I attempted running again it was a tad difficult getting started. I was also growing a lovely set of blisters from my wet socks.

Sponges are awesome…wet socks are not!

And neither is Ironman Perform in mango. Really??? How about a more neutral flavor folks??!! YUCK!

I ran, walked, shuffled, hobbled, “oh, ow..not that way’ed” myself to the finish…

FINALLY!

Subtract 1:20 and that’s how I got it done that day

As for the run itself….I suppose it’s not too bad all things considering…

but it still makes me pause as I write it…

Official Time: 2:39

  • OFFICIAL RACE TIME: 6:39:17
  • 40-44 Women 83/126
  • OVERALL Women 413/760
  • OVERALL 1693/2670

Horrible?

No. Indeed not, but far from where I held myself accountable to finishing.

My original goal was under 6 hours.

I’ve allowed myself a week to study the results and mourn.

A proverbial, what could’ve been….

What would’ve been…

Official Time: 6:29:31

My husband pointed out if I would just move my happy ass outta transition swiftly, I could shave 10 minutes right there. So true.

As with any race, we take the lessons learned and apply them to the future.

My #1 piece of advice for anyone embarking on this journey, for the 1st time, is to enjoy the process…

The day before the race I was stressed out and tweeted something to that effect. I received 1 back from Base Performance that simply read,”Relax and Enjoy the Journey.”

It was just what I needed to hear/read at that moment.

Sometimes we get so tied up in performance (or lack thereof) that we forget to have fun.

From that moment on, I referred to the race as an “event” because I was not racing. It took the pressure off and I stopped feeling “bad”.

You only get 1 chance to have your “first time”…so go out and absorb every little detail. It’s a long day, but it’s an AWESOME day. You’re gonna be a part of something great and see some fantastic moments. Take it all in so you can remember every second of your time out there.

In a way, I’m glad I was forced to slow down and take a minute to enjoy the process I was going through. A lot of work goes into getting ready for this and all too often there’s not time to appreciate the fitness we develop and the amazing things OTHER people achieve out on that course because we’re so busy getting ourselves to the finish in record time.

On April 1st, I definitely got a moment to stop and smell the roses. It was a great day and I wish the same experience for everyone, especially those tackling 70.3 for the 1st time.

BUT…as for me…the NEXT go round…

I’ll out there kicking ass and taking names.

And I promise, I’ll be enjoying that journey just as much! 😉

Train Happy, My Friends!

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

10
The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity. – Ulysses S. Grant

I can not begin to thank each of you enough, for all of your support and encouragement, especially over the 3 weeks.

Your comments, emails, texts, and phone calls have meant more than you’ll ever know. I assure you, without them I probably would’ve just succumb to my pride/ego and have not even attempted to finish this thing Sunday.

I tend to be an all or nothing kinnda girl. So to have NO chance at all of meeting my goal…

Well, I was having a hard time finding the purpose of even lacing up my running shoes. I was totally prepared to hand off my chip after the bike and just settle for a DNF.

Tuesday I had an epiphany or maybe I got tired of my solitary pity party….

Quitters never win….Winners never quit.

It’s easy to go out there when everything is hunky dory, but that ain’t life. Sometimes it gets ugly and you have fight for what you want.

And while it may not be the prettiest of days, these are the ones that we remember. These are the ones that we cherish and hold on to because of everything we had to go through to finish.

Later down the road, when everything IS peachy keen again, these moments come back to give us perspective and clarity……they get through the tough moments during future events, because we know that we DO have the capability to dig deep and do just about anything.

Come Sunday I will have each one of you there with me, in spirit, helping me through every single mile.

With no expectations other than having fun and enjoying the day….

…..and crossing the finish line!

To everyone else racing this weekend….and I know there are a lot of you,

GOOD LUCK out there!! Have fun and do great things!!

Race Happy, My Friends!

Every Little Things…Gonna Be Alright

14

And this has become my NEW mantra of 2012 as of late…..

In less than 6 days I will be in Galveston, TX about to embark on 70.3 miles I’ve been itching to conquer for over 3 years now.

As luck…or maybe fate l would have it, as I rounded the corner to start tapering something went drastically wrong with my knee. One minute it was basically fine (well, NOT FINE, but ok) and the next I was limping 4 miles home from an 8 mile run.

That was almost 3 weeks ago. The Tuesday after my “warm-up” race to be exact.

I’ve tried twice, since that day, to run and haven’t been successful. The stabbing pain at the lateral femoral condyle hits almost as soon as I start. My 2nd attempt DID go better than my 1st, but I still wasn’t able to muster more than 2 miles.

So, I’ve swam and I’ve cycled. A LOT. And have been grateful, every single day, that I can continue to do so with zero discomfort what-so-ever.

But mostly I’ve been trying to come to terms with what’s going on, formulate alternate strategies, and at the same time attempting to find ways to heal rapidly.

Once my knee started to buckle my husband insisted on an MRI to make sure nothing was torn. I was pretty sure I knew the diagnosis, but before I sought out treatment, we needed to be sure.

No tears, just a lot of fluid and inflammation. Some deep-rooted, probably from my bike fall; some right there at the femoral condyle.

The working diagnosis has been IT Band Syndrome brought on by the new bike and the overly aggressive position. I wasn’t smart enough to ease into the change, thinking my huge cycling base would cover me. But having a pre-existing hamstring tear on that leg puts me at a greater biomechanical disadvantage than most and I should’ve known better. I rode over 100 miles the 1st week I had it and they were not easy miles. It was windy and we went north and tackled some pretty serious hills. I felt fine doing it, just a little tight and sore. Combine that with being sick and skipping my post-ride stretching routine because I just wanted to shower and rest…and well

Here I am.

It never effected my cycling aside from making me tight and reducing my power. I have since had the position tweaked and I’m back on Lola for a while. Well, right now I’m not on anything.

I’ve found an ART (Active Release Therapy) practitioner and sports chiropractor here in town and in 3 days he’s got me feeling like I CAN run. The PT gave me exercises to strengthen the glutes/adductors as the relative weakness seems to have started this spiral. The chiropractor is leveling the pelvis and working out the kinked fascia brought on by the tight muscles locked in permanent spasm.

And for the past 96 hours I’ve been on repetitive motion rest in the hopes of healing the so-called scab at the lateral part of my knee. It’s hypothesized that while the problem may indeed be fixed, the damage is still there.

Luckily it’s not chronic, but it still has to heal. Every time I cycle or run, thereby taking that hip and knee through the same motion a zillion times, I’m essentially picking off a scab….

OUCH! Message heard…

Today after my ART session, I’ll finally be allowed to run again. I’ll also be off cycling restriction and will be allowed to resume my normal cycling mileage.

So I’ll KT Tape my IT band and knee to the point that someone might just confuse me for Humpty Dumpty being held together by neon blue duct tape.

If it works, we could always rewrite the story!! 😉

So those are the cards I’ve been dealt, but I’m not folding just yet!

6 days to go….I’ll keep y’all posted!

Run Happy, My Friends!

Motivational Monday: Building Blocks

6

Yesterday I officially entered the “build phase” of 70.3 training.

My body has finally recovered from last Sunday’s half-marathon and so I had a nice 41 mile spin to kick things off.

It was nice to finally feel like I was covering some distance, doing so in good time, and knowing I could tackle more if needed.

I know all days won’t be quite so blissful so remaining focused and motivated will be the keys to getting through… both mentally AND physically.

I’ll be planting many seeds of success around here over the next 65 days or so and watering them often!!

If you’ve got something big coming up, and I know many of you do, then hopefully this will help you out as well.

Y’all have a fantastic week out there!

Do great things

and always….

Swim Happy, My Friends!

The Louisiana Marathon- Half The Story

10
 
“It takes a little courage, and a little self-control. And some grim determination, If you want to reach the goal. It takes a great deal of striving, and a firm and stern-set chin. No matter what the battle, if you really want to win, there’s no easy path to glory. There is no road to fame. Life, however we may view it, Is no simple parlor game; But its prizes call for fighting, For endurance and for grit; For a rugged disposition that will not quit.”
Navy SEAL Masterchief 
 

I went into this race, as y’all know, a little beat up and somewhat under prepared.

I came out knowing I could get through just about anything if I set my mind to it.

My longest run was 12 miles way back on Christmas Eve. Over the past 3 weeks, I MIGHT have run a total of 6 times. Only 1 of those could even remotely be considered long, at 11 miles, the weekend before the race. Another was a horrid 5 mile stop and start pseudo-run the day after I strained my left quadriceps.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure if I was even going to run this race until last Tuesday. It was then I managed to complete a 6 mile run, following Sunday’s 11 miler. My leg was tolerating the stress, recovering, and healing as well. I felt like it was safe to attempt the half, while also understanding I wouldn’t be able to run it as fast as I had once hoped.

Ya’ gotta be grateful for the small things and just being able to put on my bib was to be considered a success, but..

My goal, since I ran my last half a year ago, has been to break 2 hours. As training progressed this fall, I began hoping for 1:50-1:55 . I ran a local 10k in early December to measure my race pace/fitness and felt really good about the possibilities.  Then came the leg injury and I knew it was a now an unrealistic expectation. I was back to the original plan of crossing in under 2 hours, but also promising not to beat myself up if it didn’t happen…

I wrapped my thigh, pulled on the tightest pair of compression pants I could get my ass into, and we headed to the state capital.

This was the inaugural event for The Louisiana Marathon and let me say it was fantastically organized. Everyone from race organizers and volunteers to police and safety officials were top-notch. The t-shirts and finishers medals were definitely some of the best I’ve ever been fortunate enough to earn.

Front Side

Back Side..the finishers medal is actually a bottle opener!

I really should’ve checked the course elevation (or maybe it’s better I didn’t), but because the race website said it was flat I took it as FLAT….as in NOLA flat. Well, flat is a relative term and this course WAS NOT flat. In actuality, miles 8-13 were a gradual climb out of the LSU area back into downtown. Some were pretty steep and while its certainly not Mt. Kilimanjaro, it made for an “extra” difficult back half of the course when those miles were going to be hard enough without any additional help.

One really cool thing about this race was that we got to run with the marathoners and use their pacers. This was the first time I’ve been able to do it and it was great to have an opportunity to experience that.

We lined up with 9:05 runners, figuring it was a good place to start. We headed out and within the first mile we ran on and joined the 8:55 group. It took some discipline to stay here, but I felt if I got to the 10k point and still felt good then we could run ahead.

The 6 mile marker approached at 53 minutes and we were easily holding an 8:45 minute/mile. I felt good, my leg felt good, and we were about at the half-way point. We picked up the pace a bit and the goal was to try to maintain an 8:30 minute/mile for the duration.

And then I got to mile 8…

and the hills…

At first they were gradual not such a big deal hills. More slopes if you will.

THEN they become those kind of inclines where you look ahead and you lose runners going down the other side. It’s bad enough going uphill, but the skill it takes to go down those hills without injuring yourself (further) is almost as challenging.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it was around this point that my legs began their revolt and at a record pace might I add. About mile 9 they were forcefully telling me how they were done with this little party. I’d been sucking down gels since mile 3, praying the simple sugars would put off the inevitable, but it wasn’t working.

10 miles down and we are STILL climbing and my legs are on the verge of going on a full-blown strike. I was teetering on the verge of nausea so I passed on the aid stations for the remainder of the race.

It was just past mile 11 when we finally met up with the overpass from hell once again. We climbed this bad boy at the start of the race and I had no issues with it other than knowing we would soon meet again. And meet again we did. It was here my lactic acid eating husband left me for the finish line.

Let me just say…this man runs MAYBE 10 miles over the course of an entire week. He ran 1 long run of 8 miles the week before the race and that was the longest he has ever run in his ENTIRE life until this day. He not only ran this race, he did so without an ounce of struggle and was even able to crack out a sub 8 minute/mile from 12-13.1. He’s jumping around this week like he didn’t even race while I’m waddling around like I’ve got a corn cob stuck up my ass. He’s got some killer DNA in there. I really wish I could him to tap into his full potential a bit more.

The road to the finish was all uphill.

It was rather symbolic actually.

When I saw the clock and my watch and figured my official time was around 1:56 my 1st reaction was disappointment.

A gut reaction.

I was so close to 1:55 and missed it…

“If I had only…” flooded through my mind for a few moments and then I did something I rarely do…

I gave myself a pat on the back.

I worked harder for this than anything I’d ever done.

My body gave up when we started climbing at the 8 mile point. It was pleading with me to stop and walk. Reminding me of how I was injured, how I hadn’t put in the training, and that no one would question that choice. It didn’t have to hurt today. I had a hall pass.

My mind said otherwise.

It wasn’t going to happen.

Not today…

Because 2012 is the year to find a way!

Official Time: 1:56:33

16/99 in my AG

292/1201 runners overall

I’ll take that all things considering….

And just maybe even NOT considering all those things!

My husband got there in 1:54.

Now it’s time to shift focus to the next block of 70.3 training which means a lot of time back on the bike.

FINALLY!

74 days till Galveston

Ride Happy, My Friends!

The Year of the Dragon…Finding Her Way

5

Welcome to 2012!

I survived…how ’bout y’all?

I hope everyone had a WONDERFUL holiday and is back to doing what they love with a vengeance.

The start of a new year is always a good time to reassess things….keep what works, change what doesn’t, and add in a lil’ something new to the mix.

One of may favorite things to change-up each year, is my mantra….

The start of a new year just seems like a great time for a new “go to” phrase to help carry you the distance when you need it most.

Kinnda like in the Chinese Calendar…except for motivation.

Fun Fact of the Day:

2012 is the year of the:

DRAGON…..just incase you were curious 🙂

Well in MY calendar, 2012 is the year of

FINDING A WAY

When it seems too hard, too long, too hot ,too cold, too windy….that there’s not time, that fatigue is too great, or that the legs just won’t move another step….

That’s when it’s time to simply “FIND A WAY”.

It doesn’t have to pretty, set records, or establish new heights of performance.

Just digging deep and finding a way is a measure of success in and of itself.

I think this will carry over well throughout the 2012 racing season as I tackle the 70.3 distance a couple of times and evaluate my desire/ability to complete the full 140.6 in 2013 or 2014.

So how about you?

What changes did you make for 2012?

What worked so well in 2011 that you kept it around for another year?

It’s really good to be back with everyone!! I’ve missed y’all! 🙂

Train Happy, My Friends!