Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I had hoped that things would get better before Monday night. However, as I drove to the store, it took me significantly longer than usual and as I rushed from car to doorfront, the temperature down to the single digits, I shivered to think about running this evening. A quick check of weather.com and it predicted the temperature to drop a few degrees and, with the windchill, it would be feeling about -8 for our run.
But runners are some of the most loyal, dedicated, don't-interrupt-my-schedule type of people. A little darkness, icy surfaces and below freezing windchills are not enough to stop us. We are prepared with our double and triple layers of technical clothing, reflective vests and headlamps all designed to keep us moving during the most treacherous conditions. So off we went!
Surprising even myself, I found myself overheating in the first mile of the run. I had to unzip my jacket to let the bitter cold come just a little closer to me. Unfortunately, the damage had been done - I was already sweating! And once you sweat in these obnoxiously cold temperatures, it's pretty difficult to keep warm because your clothes are now wet. So now we picked up the pace just a little bit. Believe it or not, the rest of the run was rather comfortable. I'm sure we got plenty of stares from people in their cars with huge, warm jackets on and heaters a blazing, but it didn't matter. Another wintry run is in the books!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I was very comfortable temperature-wise and my legs felt great. On up the Beeline, I just told myself how great the return trip would be. It felt like it took me a long time on this second trip up the long, steady hill, but I just stuck to my plan. I was being passed by many men, sometimes riding way too close or cutting over before they should have - again, I wonder why people do that? I mean, it's a pretty big road! And with my right contact still not in the right place, it wasn't a good situation.
On to my third lap, I realize I drank my Perpetuem much too fast. I only have a couple of sips left and I have over 30 miles to go. For a split-second, I wonder if I just screwed up my race. I am no longer comfortable in the aero position. I had to get off the saddle and re-adjust every 10 minutes or so. One of my projects for next year is to find SOME WAY to remain comfortable for the duration of one of these rides! Now I'm at mile 90 or so and out of nowhere, both legs cramped up. OWWW!!! I quickly stood up on the pedals, stretching out the calves. This happened to me briefly, once, in Ironman Wisconsin. I think - OK, what does this mean? Salt. I whip out the Endurolytes Sally so graciously gave me in the minutes before the race started. Worked like a charm - thank you Sally!!
Almost immediately, my legs feel heavy. Uh oh. What did I do? Bike too aggressively? Not really, I stuck to the plan. Well, let's just go with a comfortable pace. About 1 mile in, my feet start burning. I think they were first NOW thawing out!! I take a minute to take off my sunglasses to rub my eye to get the contact back in place, but something is still off. I put the sunglasses back on and just kept blinking. The Saint was there at the second water station (close to our hotel) with my brother on the scooter cooler. It was a pick-me-up to see them both. I managed a thumbs-up, but I was already bumming with the lack of pep in my step.
Heading around for lap 2, I now know what is in store for me. There are more hills than I realized. There were a couple sections of gravel – one with big, loose rocks. It was a very short section, but it was on a steep downhill and because I could only see with one eye, I slowed a lot for fear of tripping over a rock. On this second loop, the Saint and my brother were joined by Sally’s crew and they were all cheering me on. It was another little boost for me, but I knew I was slowing down. My face was covered with salt. I’d take a sponge every few aid stations to wipe off my face, but then I saw them recycling sponges. That ended that little ritual. There wasn’t much music along the course and I didn’t care for much of what I heard. I played my favorite iPod playlist over and over in my head to pass the time.
Third loop – right contact is beyond irritating, so I just ripped it out. I’m almost done, anyway. The sun is setting and I wondered if I should’ve put a long-sleeved shirt in a special needs bag for this (I didn’t even do special needs bags). The last pass I see my “fan club”, I smiled and said, “Only 8 more miles to go!” I felt better on the last loop than I did on the second loop. My legs are still heavy, but my pace is staying constant. With 10K left to go, I realize I could break 11:30 if I didn’t walk. I started skipping aid stations just to make sure I didn’t run out of time!
Somehow, I missed the mile 25 marker, but I knew I was close because I was getting near the group of spectators. There is one point on the course that has 2 signs. One said “Laps 1, 2 and 3” with an arrow. The other sign said “To Finish” with an arrow. I was DELIGHTED to be on the path “To Finish”!!! The fans are cheering and I am trying to pick up my pace. My legs hurt but I am so close now. A quick little detour through a parking lot, back out on the street and then one sharp left turn to see the finish line. There it is! I cannot help but smile. I am going to break the 11:30 mark! And for the very first time, I actually heard the announcer say my name and call me an IRONMAN.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
THANKS SO MUCH TO EVERYONE FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT. I cannot believe how many people either wished me luck, followed me online, or congratulated me afterwards. I appreciate each and every one of your kind words.
Report will be up in the next day or two...stay tuned.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
These are the CW-X Insulator Stabilyx Tights. You've probably seen the advertisement...some guy has a piece of sidewalk with the mailbox attached and it says something about the speed of his run....or another one has a guy holding (on one arm, mind you) a pile of people he passed during his run because of these tights. Well, I can't say I've ripped out a piece of road or passed a ton of people wearing these tights, but what I can tell you is - WOW - do my legs feel energetic while wearing these tights! The key is to get the right size - they are compression tights, so you will be squeezing into these a bit - and then you need to make sure the diamond part in the stitching is over your kneecap. This gets the compression part over the right places in your leg.
These fantastic little tights have this "wind proof panel" covering your thighs so they will be warm in the chilliest conditions. (wish they'd put a little of that over the butt cheeks!!) They seem to support your legs exactly where you need it and they are just so comfortable, you'll want to lounge around your house in them (okay, maybe not).
They're a little pricey, but I've found that with technical apparel, you get what you pay for. I had to shell out just over $100 for them, but the comfort they'll bring me in the upcoming chilly months will far outweigh the cost.
I'm still not happy about it being so cold out here. It seems every year around this time, I wonder why the heck I live here. If I wasn't able to dress warmly enough to run comfortably outside, I'm thoroughly convinced I would no longer live in the midwest.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Of course having someone to share the experience with makes it all that much better, so another fellow IMAZ competitor (SH) flew down to AZ for the weekend also. We arrived on Friday night and, trying to keep expenses to a minimum, we opted not to rent a car and decided to walk to dinner. This was Halloween night and I am now convinced that girls in college use Halloween to get away with dressing like hoochies. We also had some drunk college student talking to us as we walked past and actually burped as he was speaking. It was impossible not to laugh.
The two hour time difference screwed with us a little, but it allowed us to get a good night's sleep before the ride on Saturday. We headed down the street to get some bagels, bananas and peanut butter to fuel for the long ride. After clearing out the couple of ice machines the hotel had, our Camelbacks and water bottles were full and we were ready to go. It was already warm by Chicago standards - a balmy 68 degrees or so.
I'm not going to give a long, detailed description of the entire ride, but know these important parts:
- The Beeline highway has a very deceiving incline
- You get hot even in a dry heat
- Wind and desert can make for a nasty combination
Though the ride was not brutal, it was tough. The drastic temperature change from the 32 of Chicago to the 97 of Tempe was hard to deal with...and I love the heat. At each stop, we filled up the water bottles and Camelbacks with ice, but our fluids never really seemed to stay cold. Biggest disappointment: I don't even have any tan lines after being out there all day.
Had my brother come and pick us up for some dinner. It was great to see him and AZ seems to be treating him well. Dinner was fabulous and we ate every bite. It was our first real meal of the day. Another early bed time.
Got a little confused because now the time had changed. But it doesn't change in AZ. So weird, I walked around the rest of the day not really being sure of what time it was. We ran 1 loop of the 2 loop run course (or something close to it). No real challenging hills, but definitely some ramps that will probably not be all that fun come race day. It was fun to see so many other people out there - on what was Nov. 2 - outside enjoying the day. There was an Autism walk this day and had an amazing turnout! We thought about snatching some water from some of the sponsors, but decided to head over and grab some recovery food at the Einstein's on the way back to the hotel.
Sunday night brought us right back home. It was not as cold back home as I expected. Of course, I was hoping for freezing, sleeting conditions here while I was away!! This time, my bike and box made it back safe and sound (huge sigh of relief!) and now my hardest training weekend for IMAZ is complete.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Training for such a late season Ironman is not fun. Most of my training buddies have long since called the season a wrap. Not many people want to do a nice 20 mile run just for fun. Can't say I blame them. If I was finished with my racing for the year, I would be doing the same thing as them! On a positive note, the time change this weekend will help with the next couple weeks of workouts. And then it's time to taper so the need to start at the crack of dawn isn't there any more.
This is normally the time of year to start thinking about the schedule for next year. And while I have my "main" races targeted, I'm sure I'll be playing around with what works and what doesn't for 2009 in terms of races. One thing for sure is that the season has, once again, begun to feel like it's never-ending for me. I tend to fall into the trap of starting early, like everyone else, because I'm anxious to take advantage of the small window it seems triathlons are locked into. But most others seem to finish around the end of August. While my training volume has been pretty large the last couple of weeks, I am hearing rumblings of people who feel they've "lost it" from the summer and are now ready to start training again!!
So just a little over 3 more weeks to go. I'm sure it will just fly by and I'll have to keep reminding myself to back it down. I'm looking forward to a little desert heat!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I arrived plenty early at the Hospitality Suite hosted by a local running group to meet up with the "gang". Little did I know this would be such a hot spot for seeing other people I knew! It was like every time I turned around, there was another familiar face! It was fun to see everyone and the room was just buzzing with energy, but I will admit that made it a bit distracting. Even though this was just a training run, I still wanted to be prepared.
Several trips to a nearby bathroom were necessary because I knew the porta potty line down near the start would be a zoo. It was very convenient and, despite my multiple trips, I never had to wait in line. Bonus! I went over and over and over all the nutrition and supplements I had brought along to get me through the race. Meticulously, I placed everything into my pockets in the opposite order I'd need them in to make for easy access while running. Donna even decked me out with one of those pace tattoo thingys.
With about 40 minutes to go, we headed out toward the start. I had already ditched my throw-away shirt because it became a little toasty in the hotel. Once outside, I didn't even miss the shirt, a sure sign of the warm day ahead of us. Of course, I had my compression socks on and wasn't even feeling self-conscious about them. This year, they had the starting chute blocked off for what seemed like FOREVER and we ended up entering in at the 13 min/mile pace. This meant we had to zig zag our way through the dense crowd to try and squeeze up into a more adequate running pace.
Once in a position where all of us agreed we should be, we joked and laughed and tried to take our minds off the upcoming run. We paused for the national anthem (GUYS - PLEASE take your hats off during this!! I was shocked at the number of men who left their hats on during the anthem!) and the crowd moved up slightly toward the start line. I don't even remember hearing the official start, but soon everyone began walking forward. Next thing I know, RT is pointing to me where the "official" start clock had been running for some 5+ minutes. Huh. Ah, it doesn't matter.
Crossing the start line is always a little chaotic. People every which way, dodging the left over water bottles athletes just placed on the ground and jumping over piles of clothes kept on to keep warm (I don't advise jumping over anything at this point). There were spectators lined across 2 bridges right away that gives you a little boost. Not much cheering this year, though, as we ran under those. Sometimes, because of the echo, people like to make a lot of noise over there. If you're lucky and a lot of people are feeling overly enthusiastic at this point, it can be deafening and motivational! Today, however, that wasn't to be.
The pace seemed to be a little quicker than I thought it should be, but I didn't want to run alone, so I stuck with BC as he dodged his way around the slower people who had lined up a little ahead of us. Within 2 miles, I was already sweating, which is very unlike me. Another telling sign of the heat to be experienced this day. NOTHING like last year, but definitely warmer than ideal marathon conditions. Another mile or 2 pass and we see JM just ahead. A couple of strategic moves and we ran up on each side of him to start up a conversation. He seems to be running well, but really just wants to listen to his tunes. We run with him for about a mile or so and press on.
The pace still seems quick, but my Garmin is malfunctioning. I keep losing the signal. I am happy I'm trying to keep splits on my good ol' Timex and note that the pace is about 15-20 seconds faster than target. I wonder how this will bite me later on, but still don't want to run alone, so I press on. A few people here and there commenting on the compression socks - then I notice they have them on too, so then I don't feel like they're making fun of me. I pass Elvis - in a very heavy blue outfit studded in gold...he's shuffling along, though!
I'm having a bit of a hard time trying to keep up my end of the conversation and wonder how much longer I'll be able to keep the pace. I think we were at mile 9 when I asked if we were coming up on mile 12. My Garmin said we had 11.23 miles in...how frustrating! My heartrate is in zone 4 and I'm concerned, but I don't want to give up. I pass Elvis again...now how did that happen?
At each water stop, I fall behind quite a bit and have to quicken the pace to catch up. It's at this time I believe I lengthen my stride and the hamstring starts talking to me. Once I catch up, though, the pace isn't slowing down. Now we're progressively running each mile faster. Around mile 15, I'm ready to slow down. Now the pace is about 25 seconds faster per mile than planned and I am struggling. Can I do this for 5 more miles? BC had pulled out the metronome and it was funny watching people look around trying to figure out what the heck it was. Better than that, it made me focus on smaller steps and made the run go by just a bit easier. Another bonus was that when we had to split up for a while, I could always hear if he was next to me or behind me - so I never had to look. Just focus on keeping that sound nearby.
By mile 18, I knew I had it. No, it wasn't getting easier, but I knew I was stopping in 2 miles. Just 2 miles! No problem. In fact, the last 2 miles were 2 of the fastest miles of the run! And though I seriously thought about continuing on to the finish, I knew that just wasn't smart training. We finished the 20 in what was one of my strongest runs of the season. The heat was a factor, but didn't seem to cause a problem. I was happy to stop at 20 and call it a day!
Monday, September 29, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
We're lucky one of our runners, Jim M., had a cell phone on him and we were able to get this quick shot. The picture doesn't really do the water in the background justice, but if you've ever run at WFG, you might recognize this spot and have a better idea at how amazing this was. You can just barely see the railing of the bridge if you look to the right of the guy (Jason) in the orange shirt. I'm sort of surprised Jim's camera didn't fry out. You can't tell in the picture, but it was still raining hard when we took that.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Unlike last year, the predicted weather was just perfect for racing. We picked up Jess and arrived in transition at about 5:15am. We pulled up right next to AJ and then Caroline pulled in rightnext to us! Not sure how many total participants in this race, but transition is tiny. I like tiny - fast transitions! I was too late to get the first spot on the rack, but second wasn't bad. Truthfully, there is not a bad spot in all of this transition area.
I helped Elizabeth with a little tire problem and was pretty distracted...so distracted that when I was about to get into the water, the Saint asked, "hey, where's your chip?" I HAD FORGOTTEN TO PICK IT UP! Yikes! I ran over, pickedit up and slapped it on my ankle. I skipped body marking all together. (did I mentionI was distracted?) My feet were really cold, so I got in the water to warm them up. Swam a couple strokes and the water was a good temperature. Walked over to Caroline, got this quick photo and jumped over to line up for the start.
The first section of this swim is directly into the sun. The buoys are pretty far apart and it was a bit difficult to see them with the sunglaring in my face. After the first turn, I was already running into people from the previous wave. It was easier to see now. After the second turn, I had to stop more than once to find the next buoy...spaced too far apart. I didn't trust that the swimmers in front of me were on the right track. The swim felt good and I ran into transition and got out of there in a hurry. Nice to have small transition areas!
This was my first race on the new aerobars. I know I didn't put in as much time on them as I should have, but theyfelt pretty good. I had to rearrange the aerobottle and computer, so the whole set up was a new experience for me. Seems to have worked out! The first 10 miles of the course was turn after turn after turn. There was no time to get up to speed before having to slow down to go around a corner. Thankfully, the volunteers learned this year that we do not want unopened water bottles on the bike! They still don't realize it's easier to hand us bottles as they run in the same direction we're riding, though. My handoffs were pretty good because they had the stops right after the U turns on the course. I need to practice getting through those faster!
Once we got out further into the course, it felt windy in almost every direction we rode. Not terrible, but enough to make it loud in my ears. Lots of unleashed dogs running out onto the course. Very dangerous! I heard one run up barking after me and I freaked out a little and started riding faster to make sure he didn't take a chunk outof my leg! I yelled at several others as I rode up to them...they were just standing in the street and would begin chasing biker after biker as we rode by. Insane! I was working on keeping a steady power output. It turned out to be not quite what I was looking for, but taking into consideration all the slowing for the turns and U turns on the course, it wasn't too bad. Not a very fast bike split for me. I was getting uncomfortable in places I don't want to talk about and was happy to see transition up ahead.
Super fast transition (about 40 seconds I think) and I was off and running. My toes on both feet were numb. It's not fun to run when you can't feel your toes. I think it took until mile 3 for them to warm up. Note to self: put on toecovers when it's below 70 degrees in the morning! I've never complained of my feet being too hot during a race. The run course was rather boring. It was a "C" shape and to cover the 13.1 miles, you had to go out and back and out and back...I cannot imagine the people doing the full ironman today...they had to do that FOUR TIMES! Good God! Had some pain in one foot...something I've never felt before, but it didn't seem to slow me down. I stuck with my regular nutrition on the run and felt good until around mile 10 when the hamstring pain kicked in. I slowed, but not too much. I only ran the second "lap" 1 minute slower than the first one. I was happy to be done.
Weather conditions were perfect...aside from the little wind on the bike, the day was just beautiful. Don't get many days like that, so you have to enjoy them when you get them! I'm now suffering from a considerable amount of chafing. And now the Ironman training begins.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Talk about an absolute opposite change in conditions today! It was chilly, maybe 62 degrees at the start, but the ground was dry as a bone and there was not a cloud in the sky (the sun wasn't up yet!). I forgot that transition closed at 6am because the race started at 6:30am! I think that's the earliest race start I've ever seen.
The racks were pretty jam-packed and there were a few women nearby complaining about it. What are you gonna do? You don't like it up where it's crowded, move your bike. I tried to ignore them, but I couldn't...I knew these are the same women I'd be battling it out with on the course. I tried not to let them bother me.
Almost brainlessly, I set up transition and waited for MN to finish setting up her stuff. A quick walk over to the "secret" porta potties revealed they weren't so secret. We had about a 15 minute wait and transition was closed before we got back. I then realized I had forgotten to leave a gel in there for the run. I easily snuck into transition to leave a gel with my running shoes, then began peeling off my outer layers to squirm into my wetsuit. A little mishap with the wetsuit zipper stressed me out for about 5 minutes, but it was under control in plenty of time before the race started.
In order to get to the front of the swim start, I camped out by the rail that corraled the upcoming waves. Piece of cake, I was in the front row on the outside for the start, right where I like to be. The horn went off and some girl ran in 3 big steps and took a huge dolphin dive and immediately got a good lead. DAMN! I swam along side one woman for about 200 yards until she petered out...then I just happened to see a light purple cap (my color) in front of me. Well, we must be about the same ability if we're both out here, so I jumped on her heels. She was quick and I was working harder than I'm used to, but I knew the draft was a good thing. She was swimming a little crooked, but every time I tried to get around her, I never made up ground. I decided it best to just stay on her feet. She was doing an awesome job navigating around the other swimmers and once she cleared the way for me, I had less effort to put in.
I stayed on her heels until the finish. One of the best swims I've ever had in this distance. Thank you, whatever your name is!
I was able to get out of the water and had the wetsuit half way off before I reached my bike. My breathing was a bit labored, but I knew I'd settle in on the bike after a few minutes. I seemed to be the first bike off my rack, but I still had this feeling that first dolphin-swimmer-girl was out there somewhere.
Due to construction, the bike course was changed this year. It was 2 loops of the sprint course, which I wasn't really happy about. The first half of the ride was more scenic. All too quickly, I was making my way up the overpass and the quads started burning. I just pushed the chain down to the easiest gears and tried to spin up so I could catch my breath from the swim. I was breathing too hard. Then a nice little downhill and we're already making our first turn. This year, the wind was steady and I questioned the use of my disc wheel. The turns were plentiful and though the first loop was easy (and a little short, I noticed), the second loop was majorly crowded and I was tired of yelling "on your left!" just to have few people move. It's like they never heard it before. Many, many riders riding just to the right of the double yellow, so I'm forced to sit back, pass on the right (illegal) or cross the double yellow (also illegal). It was frustrating after a while. The entire bike leg, I felt sluggish, just never found my rhythym, I guess. I was happy to be off the bike and this was a short ride for me. Just not a bike day for me.
On to the run, I felt pretty good. No hamstring pain and my breathing was under control. I thought I could push harder, but I knew I was off the podium already. With 1 swimmer ahead, 1 passed me on the bike and then another passed me immediately on the run, I just decided to do my own race. I was comfortable all the way around. It was great to be able to see so many friends on the out-and-back-and-out-and-back course. You wanted to look strong at all times because you couldn't be sure who'd see you next!
Other than the wind getting a little gusty, this was just a beautiful day. Some thought it to be a bit warm on the run (there is absolutely not one speck of shade for you), but I found it nice. The wind actually cooled me off just enough. My last Olympic distance race was this same race last year. Hard to believe a year has gone by so fast.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
It has now been 6 days after that race, and after 3-4 days of the second toe throbbing, I've noticed the coloring under the toe nail going more and more black with each passing day. Today, just about all of the surface under said toe nail is blue/black/purple. The pain seems to have gone away, but I am thinking this is what happens as a precursor to losing the toe nail. And because I'm such a nice person, I'm choosing not to post a picture of the nasty-looking sight at this point in time.
With any hope, the discoloration will go away without the toe nail falling off. I've also been told that if this toe nail falls off, it won't be for a while, but that it would fall off some time while pulling off a sock or (gasp!) while in the pool! YUCK! For now, I'm happy it no longer hurts, but I still can't figure out why this even happened in the first place!
Monday, July 21, 2008
Per the usual race ritual, I couldn't sleep the night before the race. Tossing, turning, looking at the clock every 15-20 minutes or so to make sure I wouldn't oversleep left me pretty tired when it came time to get out of bed. I looked out my hotel room window to see that it had rained overnight. I quickly got my things together and headed out to transition in the darkness.
I was surprised at how calm I was. Transition was set, a couple trips to the porta potty, I walked with CR to grab my wetsuit and prepare to walk the mile down the beach to the start. I had both a neoprene cap and some nifty neoprene booties. In fact, I tried the booties on in the hotel room the night before and they are quite comfortable! I am considering using these as my house slippers this winter. I put them on before the walk down the beach and my toes stayed nice and warm. (too bad they don't have gloves I can use)
It was very foggy - so foggy, they delayed the start of the race by 15 minutes...again, and again and again. Now the race was a full hour delayed. I silently hoped we weren't going to swim. The temperature was now 55 degrees and I went in for just a few second and it was shocking to the system! I was almost upset when they announced that the first wave was about to take off. Now I've spent so much time worrying about how cold the swim was going to be, I've practically forgotten about the fact that I still have to bike 56 miles and run 13 miles after that!
The fog was still thick when we started and sighting the buoys was challenging! I ran a few steps and jumped into the icy lake and kept my head out of the water the first 200 yards or so. It was a pretty smooth start, though...didn't get beat up too much. Once we turned to parallel the beach, there seemed to be plenty of space. I tried following the flow of athletes in front of me, but at points they were so spread out, it was impossible to know who was going in the right direction. A couple times, I had to stop and look around to find the next buoy before continuing on the swim. It felt long...I was tired of swimming. I just wanted out. A few people were walking and we were still no where close to the end of the swim. Finally, I spotted some trees so I knew we were getting close to the finish. Again, people stopping and walking well before they should...they made for a few obstacles for me! Once my hand hit the sand on the bottom, I stood up...still very far from shore. It's exhausting to try and run through almost knee-deep water! A quick check of the watch tells me the swim was probably 200-300 yards short.
I immediately heard MN yell for me out of the water. It was really cool...nice to have someone cheering for you. As I ran to transition while stripping off the top half of my wetsuit, I saw her running along side, talking to me. It was encouraging. She mentioned many people were off course. I don't doubt it, it was TOUGH to see anything out there!
After a surprisingly quick transition (tearing off booties and all!), I hopped on the bike. I had to go well past the mount line because there were several people just past the line trying to get on their bikes. It was already congested and we haven't even started yet! The guy in front of me was weaving as we workedour way up the incline. He almost took me out! I was a little chilled at first, but that quickly went away as I started pumping my legs on the pedals. We were forced on a very narrow strip of road and it was difficult to pass. Several "on your left" yells, and still people wouldn't move. They were riding right on the double yellow line. I even had one guy point to the right and tell me to go around him on the right. Um, no dude, you're blocking, YOU move to the right.
I was quite comfortable except for the rough patches of road. Temperature was good. It was a little windy in some sections and I could feel myself being pushed around, but it wasn't too bad. I nailed the nutrition, though I don't think I was getting enough water. The aid stations were crowded and I rode by a couple of them without grabbing a bottle because it just seemed too dangerous. I realized my computer was wrong...I hadn't erased the data from my last ride, so now I have no idea what mile I'm on. I then realized the mile markers were spray painted on the roads in 10 mile increments. 40...50...cool, just 6 more miles. I'm very uncomfortable now on my bike seat. My legs feel nice and strong, I just don't want to be on this bike any more.
It was relief to fly down the hill into transition, just a bit of a bummer that you can't really go as fast as you'd like. Another pretty smooth transition and I was off on the run. Now the sun was starting to peek out from the dissipating fog. There were two pretty challenging hills right at the start of the run that tweaked my hamstring. I shortened my stride and just went slower. Once up that second hill, it was flat and my heart rate dropped quickly. I was on a good, solid run pace. There were lots of familiar faces on the course. Sometimes, though, when someone would yell out, I wouldn't realize who it was until they were long gone. Again, very comfortable conditions...not too hot, not too cold. The shaded parts of the run were well spaced and a cool breeze kicked up every so often.
Once I reached the turn around, I realized I was still feeling pretty good, so I decided to try and pick up the pace. I slowed down again significantly on those two steep uphills at the beginning. I still stopped at every water station, trying to make up for the fluid I did not take enough of on the bike. At one aid station, I grabbed a gel. I ripped it open with my teeth and squirted it in my mouth. Eeeegads, it was HOT! Not just warm, but hot! BLECH! I gulped down two lukewarm cups of water after that. I was trying to check on my splits and it was encouraging. I came close to the 10 mile mark and I realized that if I could keep this pace, I was on target for a half ironman PR. Never mind that the swim was a little short, this is turning out to be a solid race! I picked up the pace a little more, now breathing heavily where it really started to burn a little. Throughout the rest of the run, I was able to cheer on friends coming the other way...now I didn't have the breath. I tried to hold the pace for the last couple of miles, but I could feel myself now slowing. The hamstring has been acting up for the last 4-5 miles, but I'm almost finished!
Through the zoo, I know the end is near. Now I can hear the announcer and the crowd cheering. Do I have any "kick" left? No, not really, but I tried. I started the day hoping to just be able to not have to stop and walk during the run. I ended with a very respectable time and a new love for neoprene booties.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Monday, July 07, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
I arrived early with broom in hand to head out on the course to sweep all the corners to keep the riders safe. About 5 of us rode the course, following the guys putting up the signs for the race, and got out at each turn to thoroughly sweep all the gravel off the road. It was nice to be able to ride the entire course so now I knew I was in for some hills. On the flip side, it took us a while to complete this task, so by the time we were finished and back to the check-in area, we had very little time for warm up.
I headed out to the start, pinned on my number, got the bike out, put on my aero bottle, pumped up my tires and got my gear all on. By this time, I had about 15 minutes to warm up. Not good at all. I'm one of those people that needs a long warm up. I try not to let it stress me out because there's nothing I can do about it now. I just want to get out there and put in a good effort.
At the start line we were waiting for the "all clear" direction to be given. The officials handed a couple of us timers to test them out before the start of the race. Within a minute or two, the green light was given for the race to commence and I took a few deep breaths. As always, they give you a nice little countdown and it was time to go!
I very quickly got into a nice, steady rhythym. It was about 68 degrees at the start and I was a little chilled. But I sure warmed up in a hurry! Everything felt good, though I had already lost sight of my minute-man. I just tried to put forth steady effort on the pedals and downshifted to keep from making my effort too much. About 15 minutes into the race, it started to rain. Just a little sprinkle and I thought, OK, no big deal. But then I heard it before I felt it, the rain started shooting out of the sky full force. It was a cold, pelting rain, stinging my bare arms and I got very chilled. Now I was wishing I hadn't come out for this race. I was just a couple miles into a 25 mile race and I was now freezing cold. And now the pavement is soaking wet and I get squeamish about taking the corners. I wished the rain would go away. Miraculously, the rain stopped. It went away just as fast as it came! A couple miles later, I was already warm again and the sun started peeking out from the dark clouds.
My legs felt a little sluggish, which was to be expected due to the running I'd done just 2 days before this race. But I felt comfortable and strong. Then I hit the section of rolling hills....up, down, up, down. I knew this wasn't going well for me and it was confirmed as I was passed for the first time this day. I tried to stick with my fellow Apache and could do it on the down hills. But as soon as there was any incline in the road, I started to lose ground. It was very quickly after that when another Apache teammate passed by. I couldn't believe how easy they were making this look. The three of us rode together but separate for quite some time. I think having those two in my vision helped push me to work harder.
I came to the turnaround and took it ever so cautiously. Now I was halfway done and still feeling strong, but a little uncomfortable. It is clear to me that I haven't spent enough time in the aero position. Up ahead I notice a big piece of farm equipment moving slowly along our side of the road. I watch as one of my teammates goes to pass on an uphill and I cringe. Man, I hope this thing gets off the road before I have to pass it. Now I start to see other riders coming toward me, on their way to the turn around. Just a few minutes later, I watch my other teammate pass the same wide piece of farm equipment....shoot, I'm next.
I move up to make my pass and I see another rider coming toward me. As I get close to this tractor thing or whatever it was, I notice that the wheels are about twice the size of me and my bike and it makes me a bit nervous. I go to pass when I see that there is a guy making a pass around the biker headed toward me. I fear that I am going to either crash into that rider or be pushed into the big wheel of the farm vehicle, so I quickly grab the brakes. I slow down enough to let the other two riders go by and then try to get up to speed again to pass the tractor. I might have been too cautious on this one, but I'd rather keep the rubber side on the road!
Back along the stretch of rolling hills, I start to feel fatigued and wonder how it is that I sometimes do 112 miles on my bike. I'm quite uncomfortable now and I have to keep getting out of the saddle just to "adjust". One more sharp right turn and now it just feels like I am crawling. What is going on, why am I so slow? Does my computer really say 15 mph? Am I going uphill? Do I have a flat? It was a brutal last 10K of a race that felt like it was never going to end.
I could finally see the finish and I just hammered as best I could. It was at that point that I realized that I once again left a little too much in the tank. I felt very strong and was almost disappointed that I was going to be done without feeling more drained. I was really happy to be a part of Team Apache today.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
The lake was quite chilly at about 62 degrees. But most of us got in and swam about a mile. I think I swam the first 50 yards or so with my head out of the water, but after about 200 yards, I settled into a nice rhythym. No records being broken on this swim, but I felt smooth and comfortable....and couldn't feel my hands or feet.
After a quick trip to the car to drop off the wetsuit, grab the running shoes and the Garmin, I headed off to what was to be my longest run since I did Ironman Florida way back in NOVEMBER. I cannot believe I have not really run for so long. I've been away from it so long, it's like I don't even miss it anymore. Anyway, the lakefront was quite crowded, but the weather couldn't have been more perfect. It was sunny, a light breeze and the temperature was just right for a run. It's nice to get to the lakefront path for a change of pace. There are so many people there, the time seems to go by quickly. Though I struggled with the pace for the last mile and a half, the run didn't seem so bad. It wasn't fast, but it was a run...with just a couple of water stops thrown in. Looking forward to making this one of my regular rituals this summer!