Saturday, December 19, 2009

It gets me every time

The IronMan World Championship broadcast was on TV today.  I didn't make the coverage, which may be a very good thing considering how fabulous (heavy sarcasm intended) I probably looked.

It was fun watching and telling Jeff, I remember "xxx" happened there.  I remember that guy.  Remember that woman?  Oh, there's the bike turn-around.  Yeah, I wasn't feeling so hot at that point.  The woman who had severe back spasms...I remember seeing her on the way back into Kona on the final part of the run.  And hoping that she would somehow be able to make it.  I remember seeing Matt, the Biggest Loser guy, on his way into the Energy Lab when I was on my way out.  I remember thinking he'd have to hustle.

And I seem to have forgotten how difficult and exhausting and hot and humid it was. And, and....exciting and motivating and yes, even in some ways, fun.  I told Jeff, "I want to do that again."  And meant it.  That damn broadcast is why I threw my hat into the lottery ring last year, and it got me again.  It gets me every time.  The inspirational stories, the sights, the sounds.  It all gets me.  And so, yes, I want to do that again.  And if I can get lottery luck again some day.....I will.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Blah humbug

I've noticed, and not just in my own house mind you, a lack of ho ho holiday spirit this year.  So many people I talk to either haven't bought a single gift, or put up a single decoration, or like me....both. 

I'm not exactly sure what the story is this year.  Maybe it was just an epic kind of year and I'm wiped out emotionally.  Maybe it's that work is draining the life out of me with two big deadlines in as many weeks.  Maybe it's that I've been bombarded with Holiday "cheer" (read: marketing opportunities) for more than a month and a half already.  Maybe the holidays have finally lost their novelty.

I think it's easier to get into the spirit when you have little ones around.  But Bam doesn't seem that excited about the holidays this year either.

Any way you slice it, our house is feeling pretty Blah Humbug.



photo courtesy of T, from when Bam was much younger...
and without so much white in her face.....
but with the same grinchy attitude

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Lessons in nutrition

I had an appointment last week with another one of my goal achieving army. I did a nutritional analysis and spoke with the nutritionist to see what changes I could make to lose weight, but keep or increase muscle mass. Big surprise....I'm not getting enough protein. Overall she was quite happy with most of my eating habits and where my nutrient levels were at. All except the protein. And of course if you up one thing, you have to reduce another to keep the calorie count the same, right? So, a little less carbs and a little more protein. Like I said....big surprise. Pleasantly surprised tho that she doesn't have anything against a little treat....a couple of cookies, a piece of candy....as long as it's not all day, every day. I *can* have something every day. Just can't have dessert at lunch AND dinner. *sigh*

I like her approach in general, that we're not really restricting anything. It's small changes. And her goal is that I'll say "piece of cake (not literally), I can do this forever" and not feel like I'm starving.

We discussed weight and weight loss history and how every body is different. And how bodies tend to have a set point where they're happy, and it can get to be too much of a hassle or get too frustrating to try to kick them out of their happy place. And from my history, it's quite possible that my body is at it's happy place. And it will be tough to evict it.

We talked about likes (quite a few), dislikes (also, quite a few), and various ways to get more protein into my diet. My biggest goals are to increase variety and make sure I get at least 2, preferably 3, food groups per meal. So instead of snacks that are carb/fruit or veggies I need snacks that are protein/fruit or veggies/small carbs.

This week begins my diet modification. And yes, I realize I picked the *perfect* time of year to give this a whirl. But if it doesn't work out.........next year is right around the corner.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Setting goals

I find as the holidays approach (or pass...uh, hello and goodbye Turkey Day), that I have little to no motivation for the things I *should* be doing. And lots of motivation to ignore those things and do other things instead.

Unfortunately there are 2 (or were 2....1 is now wrapped up....knock wood) big deadlines at work in between T-Day and X-Mas. One of the big hematologic oncology meetings happens the first weekend of December, and we had an oral presentation as well as a poster presentation to prep. Hopefully those are now in the bag, especially since the attendees are leaving...um, yeah, tomorrow. Whew, one down.... UPDATE: Boss just walked out the door, without asking for any additional info or changes! Woot!

But I digress! Goals...yes, that's where I was headed.

I've set some goals for next year. I figured I can start working on them now and get a head start. In no particular order......

1: Clean house. And I'm not talking about that superficial cleaning that has been my go-to for the last too-many-to-count months. I know, I was a little busy doing other things. Fun things. But the house seriously needs cleaning. The simplest thing may be to bring in a fire hose and blast it all outside, but there are a few things I'd like to keep. One being my dog....and my bike on the trainer.....oh, and my husband......ahem, in no particular order of course. I did get started on this, but the two toughest rooms are still waiting. Both the spare bedrooms, which have boxes and boxes, and drawers and drawers, of "stuff" in them. I'm feeling a need to simplify. Get rid of a ton of "stuff." If it's in a box that has dust on the top....out with it! Don't even open it. Yeah, okay, I can't do that either. Open it, but throw away without a backward glance. And keep the husband away while doing it. Historically I throw, he comes by usually when I'm not looking, and starts pulling stuff back out. *sigh*

2: Drop some weight, or at least some fat. Neither of which will be easy considering this is the season of eating. Altho......the boxes of candies, cookies, cakes, and various treats that we get from vendors hasn't started arriving. Perhaps the state of the economy will put a damper on those this year. That would help my cause for sure. Evidently I'm a see food person. If the food is in sight, I *must* eat it. At least it seems true for the foods that I *shouldn't* be eating. Maybe that's a simplification. I think it's more that I tend to let myself get too hungry between feedings, so then I grab the first thing available. And that tends to be the crap....the delicious, decadent crap that hangs around this time of year. I did start working out again with my weight trainer, Elena (another evil, evil woman who enjoys making me suffer), this morning. And thought I might die. Yeah, I can pedal my bike for hours on end, but one hour with her and I want to pass out...what gives? Evil, I tell you. But in the pursuit of the lower fat me, she'll be a good ally. Remind me of that when I can barely move tomorrow.

3: Get faster. I feel the need...the need for speed....on the bike. And the run. And why not..the swim too. And the best thing is....if I get faster/better/smarter at the bike, it helps my run. Bonus! I've set a somewhat ambitious goal for my biking, with an appropriate reward if said goal is met. It may take more than just next year. But I'm patient (HAHAHAHA....who am I kidding?!?!). Okay, I will try to be patient with this. As I've been told....it takes time. And the reward, plus evil workouts from Coach Liz, will push me to harden up. Included in this is the need to find a 'good' Masters swim group. I've been less than impressed with the couple I've tried so far. Two more on tap to test out but I'm running out of places within a reasonable driving distance.

4: Get my resume in order. I don't have an immediate need, but big things should be happening either for better or for worse at work early next year. Best to be prepared. And as much as I bitch about my current job, there really are quite a few advantages, so replacing those will be tough. I may try to flip to doing consulting/temp work if things fall apart here. I'll have to see. At least there still seems to be *some* market for my skill set.

Let's start with those, shall we? And let's raise a glass to progress toward goals! Cheers!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More pondering going on

Less hours of training time=more time spent thinking about training...seriously?

For the last several weeks, well ever since I got back from Hawaii really, I've been thinking about this whole tri thing. And what I've accomplished. And what I've learned.

I was *not* an active kid. I had (had?!?! ok, ok, have) issues and was, while maybe not 'fat', definitely not average. Let's say I was above average, shall we? In 2005 my uncle was diagnosed with Leukemia and I decided to train for a marathon with Team in Training. I did my first few sprint triathlons in 2007. I did a half iron in 2008 and then this year I went slightly nuts and did a marathon and 2 IMs.

Which leads me to my introspection about this year.

First off...HELLO....I did 2 IM distance races this year. And not just this year, but in a span of just over 2 months. And while neither one of them was the race day I would have liked to have, yeah, it's still pretty freakin' awesome. Couch potato to double IronMan inside 4 years. Seriously, who does that? Me, that's who. Awesome.

Ok, but seriously.....my points of pondering....

I am slow. I am likely not ever going to be fast. But I can be less slow. And I seriously need to be less slow on the bike before I do another IM. Yes, I know, I just said 'before' and not 'if'. I'm about 99% certain it's just a matter of time. I need time to develop my bike skills/technique/speed/nutrition so that my legs aren't fried and I can actually run at least some of the marathon instead of death marching it. But there's something about IM, granted it may be the finish line, that is addicting....and of course there's the thought that "I could do that better....I just need to xxxx/yyyy/zzzz". There is a nagging itch in my head that says the *next* one might just be the one you're waiting for. You know more about your nutrition, more about what to expect, more about IM in general. So far, I've shut that voice right up. But really, it's only a matter of time. Of course the counter argument (all inside my head of course) says something about...maybe IM is just not a distance that's for me. Maybe I just sweat too much or will always have some kind of digestive issues. Hard to say with a sample size of two, don't you think?

I started thinking about how cool it would be to do Kona about the time I did my first sprint tris. And now, I've done it. Not well, but I've finished it. And that's left a kind of hole in my motivation. Seriously, I've already completed the holy grail of iron distance triathlon. I've completed one of my 'bucket list' items. The magnitude of it has me spinning a bit. I certainly never imagined that I'd get in on my first entry into the lottery. Well, ok, I admit, there must have been *some* idea that I'd get in, or why bother entering. There's a part of me tho, that wishes I had waited until I was more prepared. More ready. Stronger. But then another part that says there are no guarantees. It's a little morbid, but really none of us knows how long we'll be around. Why wait for the big ticket items. Go for it and enjoy it! And I feel like I did....as hard as it was....the hardest day of my life....and I still enjoyed it.

Jeff and I went hiking with some friends recently. Just a short, easy hike. Lots of chatting going on. We were talking about my recent accomplishments and what's the next step and Nora asked me, "Do you think you'll ever, I don't know, stop?" An interesting question. Jeff and I have typically latched onto an activity, thrown ourselves body and soul into it, and then....moved on to the next thing. Right now, tri is my 'next' thing. And the thing is....I feel like it's something that could stick for quite a while. Let's face it...I'm not very good at it. It's a challenge. There's so much to learn and do. So much fun to be had.

Speaking of which. This is all supposed to be about fun right? I mean, I don't make my living at triathlon. It's not my job. It's my fun. And I need to find a way to make it fun more of the time. Even though I'm not fast, I tend to be driven by a goal. And if I'm not living up to the goal, the fun goes away. I need to make it fun more of the time. Stop taking myself so seriously. It doesn't mean that I can't be competitive with myself and push myself. But let's have fun! Enjoy the journey and the destination. Be thankful I am out there swimming....biking....running. Don't take it for granted.

Well, enough with my rambling for the day. Happy short work week!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Feeling off

It's been just over a month since my last event of the year. I spent three weeks of that month doing a whole lotta nothing much. Weird then, that when I get out to do some exercise, I still feel 'off'. One would think that things should be getting back to normal. My normal anyway.

But evidently not. I've still got some lingering aches/pains/un-normalness going on. I can motivate myself to get to the pool most times, and to run, the bike....not so much. Maybe if it was *my* bike it'd be a different story, maybe not.

Coach, evil woman that she is, has basically given me permission to slack off for another 4 weeks. I'm sure there's a method to her madness, something about deep recovery after a mary and 2 IMs this year. But I have already warned her that me+lazy/slacker+holiday food is going to = ugly. :) Yeah, she replied with the 'smiley devil' emoticon. I told you...evil.

Anyway, I'm still not doing a whole lot of anything. A few runs here and there. A few swims here and there. Bikes on the trainer on Jeff's bicycle, or on the bike at the gym. Oh! And a few strength workouts at the gym with weights. I've actually missed weights. I like that shaky arm feeling that lets me know I've used some neglected muscles. I like that "good" kind of sore. The kind where you know you're getting stronger, building muscle. And my trainer almost fell over when she saw me, I think. And wants to know when I'm coming back for some punishment. Soon, Elena, soon.

Hopefully before too much holiday food has had a chance to settle around my arse.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We now interrupt this program......




In lieu of any kind of update........I *seriously* need this shirt. Especially lately.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Back to the beginning

I've had three weeks completely off of training. The most strenuous thing I did at any point was walk my dog. And it went by so fast! I guess nature really does abhor a vacuum because I sure filled up my time with....I don't even know....stuff.

There was work, of course, and lots of reading. Ah....reading. I do love to read. Unfortunately I tend to want to get thru the pages as fast as possible so I can move on to the next book. Jeff always accuses me of not reading all the words. Silly...of course I don't....I only read the important ones. As a result of all that reading my house didn't get nearly as clean as it should have in this down time. Ah well....there are worse things than a cluttered house I guess.

Now I start over with training. Short stuff. Easing back into it. I went for a nice lake swim and a 4 mile trail run with some folks yesterday. The trail was a bit hillier than I had expected and my legs are evidently still a bit miffed at me even after three weeks of slacking off. My quads were quite tight and sore today. Which made getting going with my short run interesting for sure. And it feels like I've forgotten how to run. "Run." Time to work on form. Luckily coach has me covered there for the next couple of weeks. A quick 40 minutes today and then some good stretching. Yep, just easing my way back into movement.

Now, excuse me, but I have a book to finish.......

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not just another day in paradise ~ the finish

A little run.....26.2 miles.

If I could make.....when I would make it....I would be an Ironman again......

Things started off ok, altho my legs were feeling pretty shaky. I was also completely sunburned, which I didn't find out until later. I had put sunscreen on for the bike ride, but it was 1) apparently not rated for 8+ hours and 2) not water proof enough for 8+ hours of dumping water all over yourself. Huh....who knew!

video

You can hear how awesome the crowd is...even at this late point in the day. And I don't mean just my family, who are *the best*, but also complete strangers. You can hear my aunt letting me know that the Butterfinger I'd been eyeing all week was waiting on the bed. Like a pillow mint but so much better. I only had 26.2 miles to go to get it. This is a nice little clip. It's almost the entire amount of running I was able to do. Maybe not quite. But close. I mostly looked like this:


I dug myself quite a hole on the bike. And I felt it when I tried to get moving on the run. My stomach would start turning, but mostly it was my head. It would start to spin. And I'd be slowed to a walk. I was getting little bits of water and Gatorade in, but was reluctant to try any gel or food just yet. I'd hit an aid station and grab ice, dump it in my top, both front and back, then grab water and Gatorade and drink as much as I could get down. Before I had gone too long I started to think that time-wise it was going to be *close*. I kept telling myself that I would make it...just keep moving forward. I remembered what Liz had said, "If you have to walk, walk like you have somewhere to be." I didn't let myself lolly gag around. At least I didn't *think* I did. I kept telling myself...at the next mile marker hit the stopwatch. Start checking your times on the miles. Make sure that you will make that finish line. And a mile marker would come up...and I'd....completely space. It was like I couldn't even remember what I had just told myself.

The spectators...again...awesome. Many had the list of participants and would look up my bib number as I came by and would call me by name and give encouragement. I passed my family at one point, and was slowly running. I don't even remember what they said to me or what I said to them. But I kept moving forward. Looking for the turnaround. Before too long, a truck went by and a volunteer jumped out and hooked a glow stick around my fuel belt. "For your safety," he said. No problem. It was getting *very* dark. Eventually I made it to the turnaround. Only somewhere around 21 miles to go. But I wasn't moving fast enough. It was going to be *very* close.

Just before I got back to where my family was sitting, I saw Jeff heading towards me with a little flashlight. "Do you know where you're at? Do you know what time it is?" he asked me. I remember that I said, "I know it's going to be close. I'm doing the best I can." He asked if I wanted the flashlight, but I just didn't want even one more thing. I just wanted to keep moving forward and cross that finish line before midnight. I *had* to cross that finish line before midnight. Not long after this, I heard a familiar voice ask, "Is that Kris?" It was Liz on a bike riding along with Chris, her husband. I told her it was me and that I was getting sick and dizzy when I tried to run. I know she told me something like, it's ok...just keep walking...lots of folks are doing it...you've got plenty of time. I'm pretty sure she was trying to reassure me, because I'm not so sure I had plenty of time. I think it was the mile marker after this where I finally remembered to start timing my miles. I made myself power walk, pumping my arms and moving my feet as fast as I could. I was hitting 13/14 min miles walking. I could live with that. That would get me there.

There's not a whole lot more to say about the 'run'. It was a very long walk. It was very dark. The aid station volunteers were amazing. I tried to encourage other people as much as I could. I was finally able to get some fluids and calories in me and even pick up the pace slightly. I was still toasty warm and dumping ice and water on myself quite often.

And...I'm about to blatantly confess a breaking of the rules here, so tune out if this will offend your triathlete sensibilities....but Jeff was so worried about me, I think both my physical as well as mental state, that he walked along with me. Not always right beside me. Sometimes off to the side, sometimes a bit behind, sometimes a bit ahead. But definitely *with* me. Almost the entire way. And he wasn't alone. Quite a few of us out there in the late night, in the dark, had company. Some on bicycles. Some walking. Just moving along with us. Our guardian angels, if you will.

It was along walk out the Queen K and back.

We passed one guy who said he knew he'd make it if he kept up 16 min miles and that he was on track. I hoped he would make it.

We had one guy from Costa Rica walk with us for a while, but lost him at an aid station when he had to stop. Jeff said he could see him sit down and take his shoes off. Guillermo. I hoped he would make it.

We passed Matt from the biggest loser when he was heading out to the energy lab and we were heading back to town. I hoped he would make it too.

At this point, I *knew* I was going to make it. I knew. We were getting closer and closer. I thought I could make it by 11:40. 20 minutes to spare.

Somewhere around mile 24.5 or 25 we were back into town enough that we could see the finish line lights. We could hear the crowd and Mike Reilly announcing the finishers. I'd make it. I tell Jeff that once we make the turn onto Palani back into town, he could go straight down and wait for me at the finish line. I had to make a loop through town and then down Alii Drive. As we hit Palani, a nice downhill, I started to run...very slowly...down the hill. There were still quite a few spectators. And all were yelling encouragement. I made one turn after another, and then....and then....I was on Alii Drive. And everyone was clapping. And telling me...only a few hundred yards. You're going to do it! Keep going! And then I could see the lights. And the crowd. A crowd like nothing I imagined. Wall to wall people lining the finish line. Everyone wants to high-five. I feel like a rock star. I jump up and down "YES! YES!" People are cheering. I see my family. I'm smiling a huge smile. And then....the finish line. I'm here. I'm finally here.

And as I cross the line. There's Tina with a huge hug. And there's Jeff waiting for me. And there's Chrissie! Chrissie Wellington! Who gives me a lei, a hug, and congratulates me. And in my fuzzy headedness, I don't make sure to get a picture of it. Oh well, I don't think I was *all* there.


video

And so ends a very special day in paradise.

Thanks to my Mom, my Grandma, my Aunt Pat, my friends Tina and Matt, for journeying to Hawaii to support and cheer for me.

Thanks to my coach, Liz, for her support and encouragement all season long. She knew before I did that I'd make it.

And huge thanks to Jeff, who went for the longest walk of his life to help make my dream come true. I always tell everyone that he supports my crazy endeavours, but never dreamed how true that would be.

Aloha and mahalo.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Not just another day in paradise ~ part 3

When I last left you, I was....prepping for a little ride around Kona, no?

I exited the changing tent at a slow trot. In retrospect it might have been a better idea to carry my bike shoes and put them on at my bike....but whatever. I was here to enjoy the day and see that finish line, not set any records. I made it to my bike, after overshooting my rack by a row or two and slapped on my helmet. And I have to say....those bike racks were pretty empty by the time I ran up to Ruby. More evidence that this was not just another event. Not that I'm ever in the front half of the pack, but I'm usually somewhere in the middle....at least after the swim, I am. :) Grabbed Ruby out of her parking slot and headed to the mount line. I hadn't seen my family yet, but figured they'd find me somewhere out there.

I started spinning, trying to find my bike legs. I went by a big tower where Mike Reilly, at least I think it was Mike, was calling out numbers. I must have had a huge grin on my face because I heard "And there's a BIG smile, number 1387, Kristi Mahadocon from Fremont, California." That was fun! And not too far up the road I saw Jeff and gave him a big smile. I'm in Kona! I'm doing it!

video

And just as Liz predicted it wasn't too long before everyone and their mother was passing me. These folks were going ALL out. That's ok, let them go. I had my plan and I'm sure they had theirs. Heading back down the route, getting ready to hit the hill on Palani and then out for the long ride on the Queen K. And I saw Tina! She had an awesome sign and was cheering and that was fun too! I tried to soak it up as much as I could because I knew I was going to be out there, pretty much alone, for a long time.

As soon as I got into a rhythm I tried to keep my hydration and nutrition on pace. So far, so good. Soon enough I passed my favorite sign on the Queen K. All along the road they had posted signs "Caution Athletes in Training." But my favorite had been converted to:


Again awesome! Although I knew that by the time I hit this sign again, on the run route, I might not find it quite so amusing. For now tho, I was feeling good.



I was following my plan and feeling good. Even though I was constantly getting passed like I was standing still. Drink, drink, drink, a LOT and eat at little. I have to say, it was HOT out there. From the second bike aid station it went something like this....chuck a water bottle, grab a bottle, fill aero, chuck bottle, grab another bottle, finish filling aero, dump rest on head....pedal on. Eat a little, salt tabs, sweat, pedal, repeat. I was doing fairly well and feeling pretty good....until the climb to Hawi. I knew it would be long and take a while to get there. I also knew that the turnaround was a little *more* than half way. I just needed to get there. I did start to get worried because I hadn't needed to make a pit stop. In more than 3-1/2 hours. Not good. I was supposed to be hydrated enough that I would need to stop at the most every 3 hours. I was putting in what my plan called for, but in retrospect it was very hot, and started to get very windy. Both dehydrating factors. I finally made the turn around, a bit behind schedule, but I kept up the positive thoughts.


At the turnaround, I made myself climb off my bike and hit the bathroom. The bad news was that I didn't even really *have* to go. I really just wanted a brief stretch of the legs. Just past the turnaround I grabbed my special foods bag and pulled my extra salt tablets out. Then I was off again. The downhill out of Hawi was fun. Luckily there wasn't much of a cross wind on this stretch and I was able to just cruise down the hill. It was lonely out there, not may of us left on the course. The wind picked up and at some points I was heading down hill, not coasting mind you, but pedaling downhill at about 10 mph. I shook my head and turned around, sure that I would see I had been on an incline. But no. I was *actually* going downhill. I still had about 40 miles to go and I was already getting discouraged/frustrated/worried. I remembered one thing I had heard several times throughout the week. "The only thing you have control over is your attitude/response to the situation." I tried to stay positive and just kept reminding myself that I was lucky to be here. At some point this reminded me of Willie Wonka. The one with Johnny Depp. And he's meeting the kids and tells Charlie.."and you, well you're just lucky to be here!" That was me....just lucky to be here.


I was trying to keep up with my fluids/food. But things started to go south. I started burping and throwing up a tiny bit. I tried to remember what I was supposed to do if this happened. I stopped putting food in and tried to get my stomach settled. I kept sipping water, and tried to keep sipping Gatorade. The aid stations were shrinking too. Although the folks that were manning them were still so supportive and encouraging, it was depressing just to see them breaking stuff down. I was in a pretty dark place at times. More than once I thought about climbing off and walking. Seriously, couldn't I walk faster than I was moving in this stupid wind?!?! And then I'd talk myself out of it. Look at the ocean. Happy day, remember?? Lucky day, remember??? Just keep moving forward. As Liz said, "Don't stop until you hit that finish line!" At this point, I knew I was way behind my prediction of when I'd finish the bike. I hoped my family wasn't too worried, and that the athlete tracker was being updated so they'd know where I was. I was not doing well. I kept looking for the airport, as I knew I'd be home free once I could see it. It refused to show itself. Refused, I tell you. I was moving at a snails pace and I started to worry about something I had not even imagined I'd worry about. Missing the bike cutoff. How did this happen? I know how it happened. I completely underestimated how hot and windy it would be. I completely underestimated how prepared I was to handle the heat and wind. Now, you may or may not know, but I sweat. I mean I SWEAT on a cool day. And it was at least 90 degrees out there, not including the heat baking up from the asphalt and lava rock. I think Chrissie Wellington said it best "It was like riding in an oven." And I was spending more time in that oven than most.

I have to say that as much as I might have wanted to quit and call it a day, I just couldn't. I most likely would not have another chance at *this*. Kona. And everyone who was here to support me. I couldn't let them down. But mostly I couldn't let myself down. And so I kept pedaling. And trying to drink something. Everything on my bike was lukewarm. I'd grab something from the aid station, whatever they had left, and before too long it would be lukewarm too. Not enticing in the least, I have to tell you.

Finally! Finally! The airport came into sight and I was never more relieved to see something in my life. I was almost there. And I was going to make the cutoff. And I was already calculating what I'd have to do to make the finish. Because I was not feeling very perky and I knew it was going to be ugly. But...I was one step closer.

Rolling in close to the finish, I saw my aunt. And then I saw Jeff. And I'm not sure, but I think they were almost as relieved as I was. Jeff later told me that they started to worry when it took me so long to reach the last check point on the bike. Yeah, you and me both!

I finally made it to the dismount line. I had pulled my feet out of my shoes in an effort to dry them out a bit. All that water dumped on head, basically all day long, had left them feeling like prunes. That would make 26.2 miles extra fun, I'm sure.

Tina was actually there to catch me at the line. And I think she was just as relieved/excited as everyone else that I had *finally* made it in. She grabbed my bike and I took off for the long, slow trot around transition to find my run bag and head back into the changing tent. Where another volunteer was waiting to help me and she was just as awesome as the first. She grabbed me a cup of Gatorade and a cold towel. I sat down and must have been in a daze. I didn't think I was in there *that* long, but Jeff would tell me later that I had spent almost 10 minutes in T2. What was I doing all that time? Trying to find my legs. Trying to find my mind. I changed clothes. I wiped my face and shoulders and legs with that cool, cool towel. I smeared my feet with aquaphor to try and limit blisters. I skipped the sunscreen, I remember that. What was the point, it would be dark shortly. The volunteer asked me if I needed my Garmin. I looked at it for a moment. No. No, I don't think so. I have my watch and I just don't want to get worked up about how slowly I'm moving. In what seemed like moments, but was of course, actually about 10 minutes, I got myself moving. I was slowly jogging out of transition, where Tina was still cheering me on. "Just a little run," she said.

And so....I had just a little run left.....and as Liz had told me on Friday.....more than enough time to walk it if I had to.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Not just another day in paradise ~ part 2

Pre-Swim
I'd have to say I slept "okay" for the night before. I was up before the alarm went off at 4 tho. My family wanted to have a good view for the start, so we planned to leave the condo around 4:45. I got dressed, ate my oatmeal and toast, grabbed my pre-swim bag and we were off. There was some traffic, but not bad. I got booted out of the car as my relatives jumped out to find a spot along the sea wall to watch the swim start. I made my way to the special needs bag drops, through body marking...no sharpies here! No sir. They use ink pads and number stamps....very neatly stamping me with 1387 down each arm. I wandered out of body marking towards transition and stopped to check my weight on the scale. Coach Liz had said I shouldn't be surprised if I saw I had gained *another* 5 pounds since registration. A little niggle of worry entered my mind when I saw that I had actually *lost* 4 pounds since then, but was too caught up in the events of the day to really think about it.

Off to find Ruby,



pump up the tires, and stock the bento box with my picnic lunch. Again, a little intimidating to see so little food on the ladies' bikes next to me. Obviously they weren't planning on spending quite as much time out there as I was. "Lucky to be here, lucky to be here, just enjoy it as much as you can!" I putted around for a while with my bike. Got her all ready to go, put on my PZ3 speed suit, liberally applied the Body Glide to my neck and arms, packed up my pre-swim bag and dropped it off at the bag drop. Then I headed over to the water entry just to see if I could see my peeps. I saw a group of pink that *had* to have been the awesome t-shirts my mom had printed up for my support crew.



My Gram and my mom (pink hat) awaiting the start of the day

I saw Jeff's signature hat and waved and waved. I willed him to look over at me....but he didn't get my vibes. I put my head down for a minute, got a little choked up, and thought to myself, "You're really here! Enjoy it as much as you can. Take it all in. You *will* cross the finish line eventually. Soak it up." It was a feeling unlike any other, I have to say. A day unlike any other.

Swim
It was getting close to 6:30, the time Liz had said I should work my way into the water. The sun was up.....the Navy Seals had parachuted into the water.....and the pros were soon off on their journey. I took off swimming along the sea wall to warm up and yell up at my family. I was so glad to have people there looking out for me. I smiled up and told Jeff "I'll see you in about 16 hours!" A guy sitting next to him yelled back at me something like "Race hard! Go hard! Go for it!" The water didn't seem bad to me, although I've read other people say there was moderate chop. It felt just like the practice swims I had done...except for that I was out there with 1800 or so other folks, there was excitement buzzing in the air, and there were spectators as far as the eye could see.



I headed out towards the swim start, sticking to the left as planned. I was here....in Kona....ready to start the biggest event of my life. I chatted with some other participants and realized I had somehow gotten a bit too close to the start line. I definitely didn't want to be in front! I overheard someone say they were hoping for a 1:30 swim and felt like I was in a good position sticking in that general area. Before I knew it, the countdown was on and the cannon went off. I put my head down and started swimming. I was pretty calm. I felt good.

video

At some point I had drifted close to the buoy line and it was pretty crowded, but people were surprisingly polite. My only 'major' contact was an elbow to the head, and the guy that delivered it immediately said "Oh! I'm sorry!" "No worries," I said and put my head back down to start swimming again. Sighting wasn't too much of a problem, as there were always quite a few people around and the buoys were easy enough to spot. I was able to latch on to some feet for at least part of the swim and before I knew it the turnaround was there. A right turn, swim a little, and another right turn and I was headed back to shore. Just after the turn around, I felt something under my arms, and realized that I was starting to chafe. Lovely salt water. I wished I had grabbed some of the Vaseline for my arms, instead of just using Body Glide. It felt like the swim back was shorter than the swim out, but that may have just been anticipation. I found some feet that were slightly faster than me and hitched a ride. I stayed with those feet almost the whole way back. I swam until I could touch sand, then popped up and pulled off my goggles. The spectators were still everywhere and it was amazing. Out of the water, up the stairs, under the freshwater showers to rinse off and then into the changing tent.



Just like everything I've heard...the changing room volunteers were awesome. Pulling everything out of my bag, helping me with my clothes, my shoes, my sunscreen. Taking my sunglasses out of the case and handing them to me. Then when I was ready to head out, packing up my stuff into the bag for me to pick up at the end of the day. And so encouraging. And cheering. And it was just....awesome.

Time for.......a wee bike ride!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Not just another day in paradise ~ part 1

Pre-race
We arrived in Kona about a week prior to the big day. My Mom, my Grandma, and my Aunt all arrived from Illinois a couple of hours before we did. The week is kind of a blur of activity, non-activity, and an active attempt to stay out of the hub of energy as much as possible. I did some short swims, some short rides, some short runs. I picked up my race wheels and arranged to have my bike shipped home. We did a bit of sight seeing. I ate, drank water and Gatorade (in retrospect, probably not enough of either), experienced the heat of Kona, previewed the course.

The sight of so many super-fit, super-serious athletes was pretty intimidating. I started to have the sense that I didn't belong, I was some kind of impostor. I tried to tell myself that while I may not have qualified, I got an invitation to participate, I paid my money and I had just as much right to be here. Not everyone can be front of the pack. It did make me realize tho just how different this event would be from Vineman. It was going to be very lonely out there. These were the best of the best, and there would be precious few folks back where I'd be spending my day.

On Wednesday I hit the expo, registration and the 'official' merchandise shop. I warned Jeff that I was going to buy everything the shop had and while I didn't quite do that.....yeaaaaah.....this was going to be an expensive trip. Registration was the first time I experienced the amazing volunteers this race has. Already everyone was so nice and extremely helpful. Instead of treating me like a 'lowly lottery winner' they seemed even more excited for me when they found out I was one of the lucky 150. Registration was quick and before I knew it I'd been weighed in (coach Liz was right....I was about 5 pounds heavier than I thought I'd be), filled out a medical and emergency contact form, received my race packet, and had my chip activated. Now I just needed to sort out my gear and food into the appropriate bags and check everything in.

On Thursday Jeff, Aunt Pat and I checked out the underpants run. No I wasn't wearing underpants...well, I mean I WAS wearing under pants, but they were under my pants.....err shorts....you know what I mean. We donated some cash for a good cause and got souvenir t-shirts, a visor, some compression socks and watched the run get under way. Later in the day I made sure to get my bags ready for check-in on Friday. Special needs bike and run, bike gear bag and run gear bag. I included anything and everything I thought I might want, even extras of shorts and tops just in case. Better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it, I figured.

Friday was a swim with Liz and Tina. Liz watched us swim a bit and after a couple quick suggestions for me, I proceeded to draft her for the rest of the swim. Well....I had to rest up for the next day....that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Then I met Liz at Lava Java for a discussion about what to expect during the event. Based on my times from Vineman, when things did not go as well as planned, we figured I could walk the marathon and still make it (cue foreshadowing music). She reassured me that I would make it across the finish line. Around 4:30 (after 'dinner') I went to drop my bike, bike gear and run gear off at transition. All the athletes are funneled through a chute where first your helmet is checked, then a line of folks tally up equipment. They count bikes, components, saddles, aero bars, wheels, etc and publish a tally of how many of what brand were represented. I'm sure I looked (and definitely felt) like the 'poor country cousin' with my road bike/clip on aeros next to all the tri-bike eye candy. But I tried to maintain my attitude of 'I'm just lucky to be here'. Evidently there were a lot of freebies handed out earlier in the day, but everyone was pretty much gone by the time I got there. So it was fairly quiet, which was okay by me. The butterflies didn't need the extra excitement. I got a sticker for my bike that says it was "checked in" or something like that and rolled up to the next stop, my escort around transition. I hear someone say 'I got the girl in pink' and look up to see Matt, T's husband, heading towards me. Nice to see a friendly face. He took me to my transition spot where we parked my bike, reminded me to let some air out of my tires (I already had) so the tubes didn't blow from the afternoon heat, explained the flow of things thru transition and took me to where my bags would be stored. And with that I was officially 'checked in'. Ruby would spend the night surrounded by greatness. I hoped some would rub off on her. Home to finish packing up and early to bed.

Next up......the big day.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Idiocy

I'm home now and it's back to work tomorrow.

And I've finally realized that I truly am an idiot. Or there's something seriously wrong with me. Yep, it's pretty much confirmed. In the last week, the glow of finishing Kona has started to dim and I've been feeling like I should have done better. See, told you I'm an idiot. I don't know why it is that I have trouble being satisfied with my results. Just a few short years ago I hadn't even done a single triathlon. Forget the idea of doing an IronMan.....let alone Kona! And now, I successfully finished a marathon, and 2 Iron races in one year....one of them the world championship. That sure seems like a big accomplishment. So what is wrong with me that I can't just enjoy the success of that? *sigh*.....I guess that's something to work towards.

I'll put together a race summary soon........maybe even with pics. :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Almost here

Things are falling into place.

Bib number....check (1387).

Dog nanny set up.......check.

Packing list......check....even some stuff packed.

Bike box borrowing......check. Bike and box will be dropped off at the shop on Thursday for packing up and then bike goes on the plane.

Race wheels...almost check....should hear back tonight about the details, but am told that the wheels are on their way to Kona as we speak....er write.....er whatever.

Panic...check....excitement....check.

Of course, there are still a million things to do, but there always are just before vacation it seems.

Once everything arrives safely in Kona, I'll feel much better. Well, better at least. I'm sure the butterflies will get worse, but the excitement will build too. I think my coach really helped get it through my head. This is going to be harder than anything I've ever done. Kona is an animal unto itself. Finish and have fun are my only goals. I'm almost laughing now as I think about it....I'm going to KONA for goodness sake. Freakin' Kona. Hot daaaaamn.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Expectations

I've been thinking lately about how to manage expectations. This is a difficult thing for me, I'll admit. Oh, I don't mean other people's expectations of me, but my expectations of myself.

I have a *bit* of a competitive streak. And it runs even more deeply when the competition is with myself. Although on one level I know it's just not possible, there's a niggle in my head that every event could be a PR.

So I come down to my last event of the year. *The* IM. Kona. Now I obviously won't be competitive with anyone else there, but the competitive fire with myself has been seriously fueled by my disappointing performance at Vineman. Okay, okay, I *know* it's not really a disappointment. There were folks that didn't finish. That's a disappointment. But still....I guess I only know it on a superficial level. It hasn't sunk down deep just yet.

With that said, I've been contemplating how my day will go at Kona. I've read a lot of race reports, the athlete guide, etc. And I've come to the conclusion that no matter how much I might like to smash my Vineman time to bits....I'm going to have to be satisfied with just enjoying the day. Now don't get me wrong...I'm still planning to do the very best that I can do. I'm not going to just coast through the day! But the conditions....the ocean swells, currents, the heat, the wind, the hills combined with wind.....I just don't know how my body will respond or how truly difficult it will be.

And so I have to get it through my stubborn head, that I'm just so lucky to be there....ENJOY IT. Soak up every minute and store it away. It's not likely that I'll be heading back, so make the most of it. Repeat this 100 x to self. Eventually it *might* sink in.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mutiny

Yes, folks, there's a mutiny in process.

My body is telling me that it has had *enough* thankyouverymuch. I have an increasing list of aches and pains plaguing me. Nothing serious yet and mostly they subside with icing/stretching/anti-inflammatories (in limited quantities). But I can almost hear them threatening to stick around if I don't start getting the message.

My workouts this week, the last BIG week prior to Kona, have been mostly less than stellar. HR up when it should be down, down when it should be up. Legs feeling like they weigh about 100 pounds each....and no, I haven't gained *that* much weight in pursuit of IronMan, although sometimes I feel like it.

I just need to make it through a big ride (7-ish hours) this weekend and the taper will start once again.

Coach is reassuring me that I've put in the work, not to worry. Better to be rested and not over trained heading to Hawaii. These last big workouts are more about nailing nutrition than gaining any kind of additional fitness. I'll definitely defer to the expert on this one.

So hold on legs, arms, lungs, and most especially heart and head. Stay in the game for just a few more weeks and I promise you a just reward. I see a long stretch of down time in the not-too-distant future.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Grounded

I spent this weekend.....cleaning house, seeing a movie, walking my dog. Why yes, yes it is the weekend just before my biggest Kona training week. I was supposed to do a 2.4 mile OW swim on Saturday, and a bike test/run on Sunday. But...I was grounded.

My rest week had not been very restful it seems. Work conspired to take away some of my rest and my body just didn't seem to want to recover from the workouts I *did* have. My HR was too high on my run on Wednesday, not bad for my bike on Thursday, but my Friday run brought not only a higher than expected HR (for what was a decidedly crappy effort), but also shin pain. New shin pain. Well...not *new* shin....*new* pain.....but you knew that. So my trusty, trusty coach said, "You're grounded." Okay, she actually said something like, don't do the swim, and stretch, stretch, stretch, ice, ice, ice the calf/shin, you need more rest, etc.

So Saturday was spent running errands, taking the dog for a long walk and vegging out. Which as it turns out was okay because the swim was canceled. We had a very unusual (for us) thunder/lightening/rain storm come through Friday night and although it had mostly passed through the area by Saturday morning, they canceled the swim anyway.

I did want to do the bike test. Had been looking forward to it. Had my route all planned out. But big picture has to be getting to the line at Kona healthy. Take care of the body now and it will take care of me later. At least that's what I hope.

I'll be testing out that theory this week to be sure. This is the last big push for Kona. A bit over 15 hours, including a 6-7 hour "Kona simulation" ride on Sunday. Each section has been laid out by coach. XX min of flat, XX min of inclines with tail wind, XX min of climbing, XX min coming back down, etc. I'm planning to head to Livermore on Sunday for this one. Projected temp for Sunday...92. Perfect. Bring it. Let's go. I'm ready.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Old age

My girl had to visit the vet last week. She's been coughing and wheezing a bit. I put it off for a while, thinking it might be allergies, but then T encouraged me to take her in.

When I called to make the appointment, they asked me some questions and then told me that for respiratory issues, the dogs needed to come in on the "cat side" of the clinic. That was interesting for Bam....lots of enticing new smells.

Dr. R came in and listened to her lungs, checked her circulation, etc. I described the problem, "If she really was a cat, I'd say it's like coughing up a hair ball." Then she did something...like pressing on B's throat somehow....that elicited the cough. "Wow, that's quite a cough." Next up....chest x-ray. I was pretty sure Dr. R was thinking lung cancer, based on B's age and the symptoms. They took her to the back room and did the x-rays. Which she ought to be used to by now, since she's had pretty much every joint in her body x-rayed at some point. Dr. R even commented that she did really well, she's practically a pro at it.

The good news...no tumors on the x-ray. The bad news...there's *something* on the x-ray. Dr.R points out some striations in the x-ray along both lungs. She says that older dogs typically have them, and I'm fairly sure she called it 'old dog lung', although I can't find much via Google on that. However, B's were excessive. So, we're trying an antibiotic. Almost had some excitement as we left the exam room and Bam proceeded to stick her head in an open cat carrier that was sitting on the bench. Yes, there was a cat in it. Evidently a very mellow cat. Lucky for B.

I'm supposed to give Dr.R a status update tomorrow. While the cough seems a little better, at least I don't hear it as often, I think the wheezing is worse. Or else I'm more attuned to it. Either way she sounds like a train when we go for walks and she starts panting. Next up, I think, is a stronger antibiotic. But we'll see what Dr.R says tomorrow.

This is the worst part of dog ownership. When they get old, or sick, and you can see that their best days are behind them. I hate that. It's worth it, of course, for all the good times and joy. But I still hate it.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I typically feel slow....but not quite this slow.....

Sunday, August 30, 2009

On heat and addiction

Kona is going to be hot. Yeah, big surprise, right? And what, oh what, have we been lacking in the bay area this year? Mostly, summer. Yes, we've had a few toasty days, but on the whole it hasn't been *that* warm.

So, what does one do to try and prep the body to exercise for prolonged periods in the heat? Wear long sleeves a lot when exercising. Exercise in the middle of the day, when possible (stupid work getting in the way of my life anyway). Try to "live" in the heat as much as possible. So far this has included: riding in the car with the windows up (as Jeff asks me not to give *him* heat stroke in the process), wearing a sweatshirt under my riding gear on the motorcycle, turning my floor heater on at work.

This weekend we had one hot day, one cooler day. I swapped my workouts around to do my long ride on the hot day. Brilliant. I had a route all planned out down in South San Jose/Morgan Hill. I planned to head out in the middle of the day to catch the most heat. I'm a genius! And then Jeff gets a call from a co-worker who lives down there. It was 112 on his thermometer. Um, yeah. I want heat training, I don't want to kill myself in the process. So, I quickly try to come up with a route closer to home, where it's merely in the 90s, with rolling hills ~ as required by my workout schedule, that has loops so I can refuel, and a porta-potty close by. Sheesh, this is complicated stuff. I finally figure something out, the most boring ride in the world, by the way, and head out. The first hour I want to wilt, but make it through. The next loop I stock up on food/liquids and plan for a 2 hour loop. It ends up a bit short, but I've got close to 3 hours in the bank.

Now comes the hardest part about doing so many loops. It would be just *too* easy to get in the car and call it a day. I want to get closer to 4 hours. It *is* cooling off a little. Ah, crap. I head back out, promising myself I only have to ride "to that stop sign". I get close to the stop sign and have a running dialog in my head...."you could go a little further" "yeah, but I don't want to lie to myself, cuz then I won't believe myself next time" "okay, go ahead, turn around at the stop sign". Yeah, I was out in the heat maybe a *little* too long, and cooked my brain a bit. Back to the car. Load up the bike. Change into running shoes and off for a very short 15 min jog/brisk walk. Wiped. Out. I did see some deer and some wild turkeys, which was cool. And I'm 99.9% sure they weren't a figment of my over-baked imagination...

Where does addiction come in? you ask. Well, I've been having 'weekend' headaches. And I finally realized that one of the missing components on my weekend has been FRS. I usually drink one each weekday and skip it on the weekends. So I think I'm addicted to the tiny amount of caffeine in the FRS. And when I skip it, I'm rewarded with a headache for my efforts. The question now becomes....do I continue the addiction to save myself a big headache, or tough out the headaches to kick the habit. Hmph. Lance sure didn't mention *this* in his ringing endorsement of FRS. Maybe he was too busy counting all that money that kicks back to his "foundation". Mmmm hmmm.

Monday, August 24, 2009

If only.....

Let's recap my 'winning' year so far:
  1. Entry into Kona via lottery
  2. Entry into the Nike 1/2 Marathon (after getting no love last year)
  3. Weekend in La Jolla from H2O audio to meet and have dinner with Natalie Coughlin
  4. Rolling backpack from Osprey/MapMyRide Tour de France giveaway
  5. Balega socks from a RoadBunner (blogger giveaway)
  6. Finishing Vineman (I'll call that a win...but I *earned* that sucker)
Jeff says I need to be buying lottery tickets. I say, how about someone flipping me one of those tri-bikes I keep entering to win?!?! If only....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The slow slog

I had a realization the other day.

The first 'event' I tackled was a marathon. Back in 2005. With TNT. That was my first athletic endeavor. No, I don't mean as an adult. I pretty much mean....ever. So I started being athletic as an adult. And I started with a marathon. And I started off with the slow slog.....just make it to the finish line.

The next year? Yeah, another marathon. As well as some 1/2 marathons. And maybe some 5ks or 10ks here and there. I'm not sure what 2007 brought...more 1/2 marathons, and getting started in tris, I think. Then in 2008, I jumped into tri with both feet and did a 1/2 iron. And this year, yeah, well, a bit off the deep end with not one, but two iron distances races.

Slow slogging. Pretty much for my entire athletic experience.

While I'm looking forward to Kona...I mean seriously...it's KONA...I am *really* looking forward to digging in next year and getting some speed in these old legs of mine. I mean, I've never really concentrated on that. And I'm excited to see what might happen. Work hard. Work on fast. I know it's all relative. I don't think I'll ever win my age group. Well, maybe if I can get a little faster and stay that way until I'm about 60. But I'm excited to see nonetheless. To break out of the slow slog.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back to work!

Last week the most strenuous thing I did was walk my dog. And I didn't even take her on the hilly walk. Not even once.

We spent the weekend at Thunderhill race track where Jeff had his car out with the BMW car club. First impressions......the stereotype of Beemer drivers is well founded. And no, Jeff's car isn't a BMW....but his motorcycle is. Hahahahaha! Okay, okay. There were all sorts of cars out there, not just Beemers. An Elise, an Exige, a couple of radicals, an Aston Martin, and I even saw someone in a Hyundai. No. Really. A Hyundai.

It was loud. It was hot. Super hot. And we had to get up early. Not a big fan of that. Safely home, car *and* husband intact. Big fan of that. :)

Oh, and Bam tried out her Nanny. Since T is coming to Kona to root, root, root, for the pink bike I needed to find a baby sitter. Ok, a dog sitter. So even though T cursed at me for not getting Bam last weekend, we needed to see if: 1) the nanny would steal anything :) and 2) if Bam would eat the nanny. Luckily, it seemed to go well. At least the note from the nanny said it did, but they probably say that to all the dog moms. And nothing turned up missing. Jeff says it's probably because that would be too suspicious and instead they'll come back later and steal everything. Bwaaahahahaha.

So anyway, this week we ease back into moving the body. A little biking here. A little swimming there. And I do mean A LITTLE...like 1/2 an hour each day. NO running until next week. Oh. Darn. I say that, but funny enough, I find myself oddly unsettled with all this free time. I *want* to get moving again. And truth be known, I am kind of anxious to do some *hard* work. IM training is low intensity, long workouts. I want to do short, painful stuff that will make me faster. Alas, that will have to wait until October. No, probably November. Recovery from the second IM effort may take a bit longer....we'll see.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Vineman event report

In the course of 7 months, I have....

swam over 110,000 yards
biked over 1600 miles
and run over 400 miles

in the pursuit of a thing called Ironman. Well...Ironman take 1 anyway. There are miles yet to be swam/biked/ridden in the pursuit of the ultimate Ironman...Kona.

The day began early, about 1:30 am, when I woke up and had a tough time getting back to sleep. Eventually I drifted back off and woke up just before the alarm went off at 4:15. Sleepily ate my breakfast and then got ready to roll. Made it into T1 with plenty of time to spare. Everything was quickly set up and it was time to hit the line.....for the port-o. That line took a bit longer than I expected, especially since the volunteers allowed the M 35 and under to cut to the front of the line as their wave was shortly taking off. Hustled back to my T1 spot, squeezed into my wetsuit and headed down to the water. It felt (and still does feel) surreal. So hard to believe that this was actually happening.

The horn sounded and we were off. Somewhere around 150 women heading out on an incredible adventure. Reach, pull, reach, pull. At one point on the first loop, the lead swimmer passes me. Faster than fast. I keep thinking to myself, I really should be pushing harder. Coach said this should be my warm up, but am I warming up too slowly? It's going to be a long day, just take it easy. Reach, pull, reach, pull. Down....back.....down....back. Around the buoys. Swim, swim, look. Before I knew it, the swim exit was there in front of me. Up the ramp, by pass the wet suit strippers and to my spot. Pull down the suit, step out, step out. Shoes, helmet, sunglasses....ready to roll.

Up the short hill from transition and heading out. Feeling good. Hit mile 5 where the sharp right, downhill turn that I hate awaits. I get through safely and start heading along the rollers. I feel good, but my HR is too high. I'm supposed to be Zone 1-2.....for the entire ride. I'm already spiking Zone 3. I ease up. It does no good. I keep easing up, getting frustrated and passed like I'm standing still. Which I feel like I might be. Ok, take it easy. Just work on getting the nutrition in and take it easy, easy. I just feel like I have no idea how much I can push, how much I need to conserve for the long day ahead. I'm mentally lost and getting discouraged. I by pass the first aid station, as planned. I'm carrying enough to get me to the second aid station. Time passes. It always does. I get to the second aid station and stop to use the port-o. Grab a bottle of water and fill my aero bottle. Hop back on the bike and pedal out of town. This section should be where I can push some. Flatter. Get aero and push.

I realize I'm a bit behind in my eating. Maybe I put too much in too quickly. Maybe my concentrated bottle of Infinit didn't get mixed properly when I refilled that section of my aero bottle. Maybe I was too anxious about my HR. I will probably never know the cause. The effect tho is misery. A feeling of nauseousness that eventually, around mile 50 will turn into a pain in my right lower side that leaves me gasping if I try to breathe too deeply. I try pinching it, like you would a cramp. No good. I stop at my 'special needs' bag and dig around for the gas-x I had thrown in to my mix of emergency meds that I thought I might need. Down two of them and throw two into my shirt pocket. Somehow, amazingly, stopping has made it worse. Or at least it feels worse when I start moving again. I start to talk to the stitch..please, please, please, just go away. I sip at my water and skip the Infinit. I try some cheez-it crackers. I try a gummy. Everything makes it worse. There is a time that I think to myself...maybe I have appendicitis. Maybe it will burst and I'll be hauled away. Wishful thinking. I cry a bit, which of course makes breathing harder. And makes my side hurt more. Time passes. It always does.

I bypass the first aid station on the second loop, which is probably a mistake. Halfway to the second aid station, my mouth starts to water at the thought of Gatorade. Which is ironic since it wasn't a fabulous training tool for me. I stop at the aid station and use the port-o again, even tho I don't really need to. Perhaps I just wanted...needed...a break. I come out and decide to try a piece of banana. See how that sits. As I roll out I grab a bottle of Gatorade, take a sip, and tuck it into the back of my shorts. I don't want to drink too much in case it makes the situation worse. I pedal on. The Gatorade and the banana seem to sit quietly.

By the next (last) aid station on the course I've put down the entire bottle of Gatorade and I grab another as a I roll by. I slow to a stop and quickly grab another piece of banana. Down it as I roll onto Chalk Hill Road. I'm less than 20 miles from ending this part of the misery. And maybe, just maybe I'm feeling slightly better. I don't want to get my hopes up too high. I make it up Chalk Hill for the second time today. One guy spectating yells out "There go my favorite tires! Go girl!"

Oh, did I mention I have pink tires on my rented Zipps for the race? I get quite a few comments on those tires, which could be part of what has kept me moving. One girl, as she rolls by, says "I love those tires. They make me happy." I refrain from saying, "Well, I'm glad *someone* is happy." No need to spread the misery. Instead I smile and say thanks. That's the order of the day...smile and say thanks. Thank all the volunteers. Thank all the police officers directing traffic.

Anyway, up and over Chalk Hill to the screaming downhill. I am so close. Time passes. It always does. And then I'm rolling into transition...finally....I lament with another Ironman-to-be about not signing up for the aqua bike. What *was* I thinking. I am mostly just glad to be off my bike. No flats. No mechanical issues. Just body malfunction. *Just.* I am feeling okay now tho. That is I was feeling okay.

Once I start running my stomach starts to churn. Damnit. For the first several miles, I stick to ice chips and salt tablets. I am so thirsty. But scared to put much in. I start to add things slowly at the aid stations. Sometimes Gatorade. Sometimes Cola. Sometimes bananas. Whatever I think might sit still in my stomach. The first loop is long. I feel flat. What a surprise. I keep myself from thinking of the run as 26.2 miles. It's simply get through each 4+ mile stretch. Get to the turn around. Then get to the next turn around. Sip this, sip that. Chew some ice. So thirsty. At the end of the first loop I see Jeff and Bam. I stop to pat her and make sure they know I'm still plugging away. I've calculated what I need to do to ensure I get onto the third loop by 9:00. If I don't make it by then, my chip gets pulled and my long day is not only done, but in vain.

Duck into transition at the end of loop one and I dump all my gels onto the ground. No sense in carrying what I'm not going to get down. Start loop two. A slightly slower repeat of loop one. Sip, sip. Eat some banana. Crunch, crunch, chew some ice. I make the second loop well before the 9:00 cutoff. Dart into transition again. Pull on a long sleeve shirt. Put on my head lamp. I have no idea how long I've been out here. Too long. All I keep watching is the time. I have to finish before 11:00.

As I head out on my third loop, I am handed a glow stick. I put it on my neck, but can't stand the bouncing around. I loop it around my race number belt instead. As it gets darker, I turn on my head lamp. The third loop is a shared suffer-fest. I've been seeing the same folks now for at least two loops. We're all in the same boat. "Looking good", "Keep it up", "Hang in there" said and heard repeatedly. At some point we're just glow sticks passing in the night. I stop checking the time. I know I'll make the cutoff. It's just a matter of how long it will take. At some point I'm walking up a hill as quickly as I can and I pass an older man who is shuffle running. "There's someone walking with purpose," he says. "I just want to be done with this thing," I say. We hit the top of the hill and I start my own shuffle. "She just hit the after burners, " he says. I just laugh. Wow, I can still laugh. Eventually I hit the last aid station and just grab a bit of water. I've had enough Gatorade, Cola, banana. I just want to be finished. I have covered 139.6 miles and damned if I'm going to walk my last mile. I pass one person...."Good pace" I hear. I come up on one of the guys I've seen all night long as he's walking. "Almost there," I say. And he falls into his own shuffle step behind me. Finally. Finally, the turn into the finish chute. Across the line. Medal on my neck. Shirt and water bottle handed to me.

And then all the frustration and exhaustion and dehydration and lack of food of the day spills over. I spend several minutes crying on Jeff's shoulder. Sobbing. Disappointed. Yes, I did it. No, I am not happy with my effort. It really only hits me when I go to work on Monday. I'm describing my day to a co-worker. When I finish she looks at me and says, "Wow. You're so hard on yourself." Hm. Tell me something I *don't* know. But ok, point taken. I've accomplished something I set out to do. Did I have an ideal day? No. Did I meet my super-secret goals? No. Then again, did I miss any of the cutoffs? No again. I am certainly iron.

In any case, it's time to move on. I have another big day ahead, just 9 short weeks from now. Take the lessons learned and keep looking forward.

"If you succeed in doing this, tell me how."
Baz Luhrmann, Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

One down....

The race report may take a few days, as I gather my thoughts, but....

I am Iron.

It may not have been what I wanted. It may not have been pretty. I am coming to the realization, however, that I did it. I took what I was dealt, hung in there, and toughed it out. Iron baby. All the way. Boo freakin' ya.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Taper, taper

And so week 2 of "The Taper" officially begins.

Week 1 concluded with yesterday's 4 hour bike ride. Four hours, pfft. Nothing. (Wow, I never thought I'd say that!) Well, except for that stretch of Calaveras Road that seemed to go on MUCH longer than it *should* have. But then again we haven't ridden out there in quite a while. The hills were both easier and longer than I remembered. A strange combination, I know. And judging from my techie toys, I was taking it much easier than I should have been. Man, what a slacker I've become in taper!

I'm feeling both ready and petrified to get this first big event under way. A lot of packing to do between now and August 1. Good thing it's taper..only 7-1/2 hours of workouts this week. Plenty of packing and panicking time. :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ups and downs



Yesterday was the Livestrong Challenge ride. And as you can see the course definitely had it's ups and downs. And ups. And ups.

I was really hoping for a better ride. I had my ups and downs. And downs. And downs.

I think I let myself get wallowed in negativity early on. Every time I do one of these big group rides (there were something like 3000 riders out there) I realize how much I dislike them. I hate being trapped between or behind other riders. Probably because I have control issues.....oh, like you're surprised by that. I couldn't get comfortable enough to get into my aero bars, which put my aero drink bottle out of reach, which in turn left me dehydrated and under fueled, which I think spiraled me down further.

Highlights:

There was the guy who had his daughter trailing off the back of his bike on one of those one wheeled attachments. When I said "hey, that's the way to go", he was quick to let me know that his girl worked hard back there, she wasn't just out for a free ride. They had done some pretty long rides, with some pretty impressive hills. Awesome.

Seeing all the cancer survivors out there giving it their all.

The course marshall on the ancient Schwinn cruiser who looked so entertained.

Our "friend" who we'd ride with for a while, then drop, then have him catch back up at the next aid station. For a while we shared the duty of cutting through the wind. After the big hill at Metcalf Road, we didn't see him again. Hope he made it all the way.

The volunteers and support on the course was awesome. Unbelievably well supplied aid stations, with bike mechanics at most of them. The best.

Getting up Metcalf with only one stop. On compact double gearing. And passing people who were walking while they rooted for me. Nice.

1.3 million dollars raised for Lance's foundation. Let's hope it gets cancer research moving along a little faster.

Lowlights:

Probably too many to list.....

Just mentally down on this ride, as I've said. Not too many positive thoughts going through my head.

Stopping at all on Metcalf. I really wanted to push on, but gave up.

Not following my nutrition plans. I should know by now that things go much better if I'm fueled and hydrated. No? Really?

Getting passed by riders of all shapes and sizes. I hate being slow.

I'm working on getting over it. Letting it go. It's just a ride, not the end of the world. It doesn't make or break my IM training. There will be good rides and there will be bad rides. I think I'm just in a funk. Maybe some pie would help. Deliveries accepted. :)



Thursday, July 09, 2009

Double marathon...and then some

No, I haven't *completely* lost my mind....I know, I know, it's debatable. I haven't signed up to do an ultra or anything like that.

A double marathon would be 52.4 miles. So far this year, in my training, I've swam more than 56 miles. More than 100k yards. Yeah, I've SWAM more than two marathons. Now that may not be much for some folks, but for me that's huge. I may not be the fastest, or the strongest, but I can get it done. I just have to do the work and get through it.... So let it be written, so let it be done. :)

Sunday, July 05, 2009

This post brought to you by the letter "G"

"G" as in Gravity....about to topple this tree into the creek. I wonder how long this will take. Will I see it down one day?




G as in Girl trying to stomp on tadpoles. Now, don't go calling PETA (people for the ethical treatment of amphibians) just yet. She can't actually get them, she just likes to try.

"G" for go. Just go run. No timing anything, no paces, no goal.

"G" as in Garin. Running at Garin park (the 'baby' side) is how I wrapped up this round of recovery week. I had a hard time getting myself moving, but once I got out there, I really enjoyed it. Just chugging along the rolling hills with dog leading the way...mostly. Except when she was harassing the tadpoles that is.

"G" as in "Get" through it. Next week is a tough one. Roughly two hours a day, with 8 on Sunday, including the Livestrong 100-mile ride. Just gotta' take it one day at a time.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Catching up

When I last posted I had just done a 90 mile ride.

Since then I've upped the ante and did a 111+ mile ride. Yep, just shy of the entire distance. How was it you ask? Well, honestly it was tough. I wanted to cry at some point, around mile 80, when my tush was unhappy and I realized we had about 30 miles left to go. Then we hit the final pit stop of the day and I found another gear. I was just so glad to be close to the end that I felt okay. In retrospect I'm really glad to have that one under my belt. Mentally I *know* I can survive for 112 miles on my bike. Will it be fun? No. Will it be enjoyable? No. But I can make it.

After that it was off to La Jolla for our weekend get-away. We left early Saturday morning and pretty much just crashed at the hotel and did a walk around the beaches. On Sunday we hopped on the tourist train and hit Sea World. I have to say it's quite a bit different than I remembered. The shows are not as spectacular. But it was a beautiful, sunny day and we had fun. On Monday we were going to head out to the Wild Animal Park, but Jeff really wanted to tour the Midway air craft carrier. So we headed down to the harbor and spent several hours doing the tour. It was pretty interesting and that ship is huge! But not so huge that I can imagine 4500 sailors aboard. Talk about cramped. And on Monday evening we had dinner with the H2O audio folks and Natalie Coughlin. Fabulous food, great conversation, and even a swim "tip" or two. All in all a very nice long weekend.




Flew home on Tuesday morning before dawn even cracked, I think. Straight to work, but at least its....REST WEEK! Woo hoo! "Only" a bit over 8 hours of workouts for the week....compared to the 14+ from last week, I'll take it. :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A little tired tonight

After this:



90 miles today on the bike. Yeah, that's a lot of riding. Parts are sore. Parts are tired. Money in the bank for the big day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A little travel

I admit it...I doubted it was going to happen. But next weekend Jeff and I are traveling (thanks to H2O audio) down to La Jolla to spend the weekend. On Monday evening we get to meet and have dinner with Natalie Coughlin, Olympic gold medalist swimmer. Funny thing...she's from the bay area, so we could have saved them some money and met up here. Altho, now that they've announced a partnership with Michael Phelps, it might have been nice to meet him too. :)

It'll be nice to get away for a weekend. Yep, I'll be taking along workout gear and squishing some swimming and running in between sight seeing trips.

Oh, and I hope I get set up with an H2O audio system. That would be the icing on the cake. And any tips Natalie can give me on improving my swim stroke, of course. :)