IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Metric Melon

Last minute decision to do this ride...I'm typically not a "last minute" type of person, but a few other things fell through and even the original ride we were going to do today was changed after 7pm last night to be the MELON METRIC!

Close to home, weather predicted to be pretty good and a strong group of riders indicated today was going to be a good ride. We arrived, signed up and were ready to go BEFORE the scheduled time. The roads out here, we decided were excellent! Nice and smooth, pot-hole free. Nothing like the Spirit of Racine race that several of us did just the week before.

It was a little chilly starting out, I think the temperature was about 62 degrees. But it was supposed to warm up to 80 and I really didn't want to carry arm warmers around the whole day. Everything going well, get in and out of the first rest stop pretty quickly...on the way to the second stop (which felt like forever), we were witness to a dog running a biker off the road. We pulled up, watched as the irresponsible dog owner tended to her dog, not even caring about the cyclist, called 911 and told the guy to just sit. He seemed OK, helmet was cracked, but no road rash. Thankfully, he had ridden off the road in the ditch when the dog ran up on him. He knew his name, but not much else. The dog's owner came over to ask, "Did he bike you?" but she didn't seem to care about the fact that this guy had fallen off his bike and hit his head. It was weird. The ambulance got there and we headed back on our way, shaking our heads. Had that dog come up on us, it's likely several of us would've gone down.

We get to the next stop, quickly do what we need to do, and we're back on the road. Our pace is strong, but not overreaching for any of us. Then we realize something is wrong as we pull back into the first rest stop. Apparently, we followed the wrong arrows out of that second the heck were we supposed to know that?? They were just color-coded, but I guess there is one way to go for the century and another way for the 65 mile route...SHOOT! We decide to go back to the same place we just left in order to get the 100+ miles we were after.

A train of about 7-8 guys on road bikes pass us, I think we were slowing for railroad tracks or something. I notice a "fist bump" at the front of the line and now I'm irritated with this group. We continued to ride our pace and these guys were getting no further. It was like they just kicked up their pace to pass us, but then hung out. We didn't draft, but slowly passed them back. Once we passed, our pace picked up noticably. It was kinda like we had to put some ground between us and them to make sure they stayed back there this time. It worked. And it was a solid stretch of ride for our crew! We pass by the house with the attack dog and lo and behold, the dog is in the house...homeowner out front doing yardwork, eyeing up all the cyclists passing by.
At this rest stop, we feel like we're in the Twilight Zone - coming or going, we don't know what we're doing and everything feels like deja vu. As we're reloading our water bottles, I see some woman looking at JS's bike and commenting on how nice it is that his aerobottle is up front on his handle bars, making it easy for him to drink. She then says, and this is the quote of the day, "He even has a little sponge to wipe of his face!" She was referring to the yellow netting in the aerobottle that keeps the water from splashing out when you go over some rough road. I almost spit out my Gatorade at that comment. I had to walk away fast.

Now we were on the way home. We knew we'd be over 100 miles, but weren't sure by how much. We tried to lay off a little on this last stretch, but we really didn't slow down much. The roads on this last section were the worst of the day! I opted out of the group's transition run after the ride...I mean, my race is not for 4 more months! WHY ON EARTH am I out here doing 100 miles??!? Sheesh.

Great day. Wonder why I've never done this ride before.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It's Coming Off

That's right, triathlon fans, I am about to go through the first-time experience of losing a beloved toe nail. After my very respectable run at the Spirit of Racine Half Ironman last week, I complained of severe pain in my second toe...the one right near the big toe. I have never before experienced this pain, nor could I figure out why this race had produced such pain.

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

Spirit of Racine Half Ironman

After spending all day working the Expo on Saturday standing on my feet, I wasn't quite sure what to expect for this race. I was feeling pretty relaxed about the whole thing because I haven't been able to get my run miles up where I'd like them to be. I hadn't run 13 miles since NOVEMBER! And the water temperature was said to be 56 degrees. It's one of the only times I was heard saying, "I don't want to do this swim."

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., 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 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

Valparaiso Triathlon Race Report

Whew! One race weekend after another! I found myself heading down to Valparaiso on Saturday morning to participate in a sprint triathlon. I've always wanted to do this race because it's so close to home, but then again, with a measley 400 yard swim, I've never pulled the trigger. This year, I did it.

I picked up PS at the designated meeting time - 5am. It was dark, rainy and stormy but the race was several hours away so I had hopes of it clearing up. Besides, I already PAID for this race. Once we were on the road, we noticed we were driving into lighter skies. Excellent, it was like we were driving our way out of the storm. But the rain was coming down hard and I got a phone call from the Saint saying, "You guys are nuts, there's no way you're going to race today." We pressed on.

Once at the race site (we arrived very early), we put on our rain coats in anticipation. By the time we walked all the way to registration, we decided it was too hot for the rain coats - besides, it wasn't raining. A stop in transition to drop off the bike, a trip back to the car where we dropped off the rain coats and got the rest of our gear, and we were headed back to transition. Now it seemed the skies were getting darker in every direction, but we proceeded to set up transition. We met up with BP, his girlfriend and KK and it started drizzling. I ran back into transition to place both pairs of shoes in plastic bags (lesson learned from the Naperville race that soggy socks are NOT fun to run in!). Now it started POURING. I grabbed a light jacket I had in my bag and cursed myself for leaving the raincoat in the car. Within minutes, we were drenched. Not many places for shelter at this small race, but we were standing under a tree to try and keep from getting even more wet. (I've always found this ridiculous...where should you NOT stand when there is a storm that includes lightening? UNDER A TREE!) The 5 of us stood there, shivering, just waiting for an announcement. Someone did get on the speaker and said, "THIS RACE WILL GO ON!" We were shocked. None of us wanted to race in this monsoon. We stood there, looking around, each trying to talk each other into packing up and going of those, "If you go, I'll go" back and forth.

About 10 minutes before the race start, there was a flash of lightening. 30 minute delay. Shivering, I silently hoped the race was called off. Teeth chattering, goose bumps covering my arms and legs, I wondered when it was going to stop raining. There was no way this race was going to happen...

Next thing we hear is that the first wave needs to line up. WHAT?? You mean we're going to race? I was in shock. And then I was scared. Lots of rain means lots of wet pavement means dangerous conditions on the bike. I stared at the athletes lining up in this really happening? Yes, it was. A few more times our little group talked about packing up and going home. But no, I drove all the way out here to race. So let's just do it!

Once my wave was finally called into the water, it was like a relief to have warmth on my feet and hands. It only lasted instantly, but I hoped once I started moving, I'd warm up. Ready, set go and our wave was off and thrashing about. Very quickly, superstar amateur athlete Chris Wickard shot out to the front. I couldn't even get a draft, she was just too fast. I watched as the rain drops hit the water of the lake as we went along...they finally stopped about half way into the swim. I could still see Chris' light blue cap up ahead of me, but couldn't catch her in such a small distance.

As I came out to head to transition, I was disappointed that I wasn't warm. I was pretty chilly as I ran to my bike. Once there, it was a fiasco trying to get my things from out of all the plastic bags! My fingers were waterlogged and pruny and pretty much refused to work for me. I put my sunglasses on but wondered if this was going to work...once they get so much water on them, you really can't see! The pavement out of T1 was very slippery and I almost fell 3 times as I headed to the bike course. I hopped on and promised myself to be safe.

Safe meant excruciatingly slow turns. In fact, I felt like I was practically stopping as I took each corner! However, it was better than the alternative, so I just hammered on all the straightaways. It wasn't raining any more, but there was some standing water on some of the roads and every now and then, a blast of wind would come and blow all the water from the leaves down on me. BRRRR! The wind was feisty and it tossed the disc wheel around a bit (I had forgotten my other rear wheel, so it was the disc or nothing!)

Once safely into T2, again fussing around with another plastic bag that contained my running shoes. Now I can't decide to take my sunglasses with or not. I picked them up, put them down, picked them up and put them down again. Then I had to move them just in case the guy next to me came in and might run them over, breaking them. WHAT AM I DOING, I'VE GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE! I grabbed my hat and number and headed out. It was a bit confusing in transition and I ran into 2 guys going the wrong way (everyone was to go counter clockwise in transition to make it equal distance for all participants). It was interesting to say the least.

I started out feeling OK, but it was now getting sunny and humid. I was glad I left the sunglasses anyway because I had changed the lenses to clear, so they wouldn't have helped with the sun, anyway! Just about to the half mile mark, I could see the bikers coming in on their second to last turn of the race. Just as I looked over, a girl who was turning too fast skidded, flew off the bike and the sound of metal scraping the pavement gave me chills. Spectators all turned to look, but I didn't want to see it! I hoped she was OK.

Mile 1 and it felt like an eternity. I felt like I was slowing, but at mile 2, I see that I got just a little faster (that is, if the course was marked correctly). There were some little hills that got my heart rate up and right around mile 2 was when the hamstring started talking to me. Oh come on, I'm almost done here, though! I tried to keep the pace and as I neared the finish, I saw PS and heard him yell, "Hurry, don't let the girl behind you get you!" So I tried to push harder...not really sure if I went any faster, but when I turned around, there was no "girl" there. Was he just toying with me??

I was able to capture first in my age group, but not by much. I was surprised that my struggling run was able to hold off the second place finisher. And to think we almost turned around and did not race...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lakeside Triathlon Race Report

I can't believe I haven't had time to write up a race report on this!! I have been doing so busy and doing lots of great things, but I can't skip a race report! The race was a week ago, so the details are now fuzzy memories, so I'll just give a quick recap.

First off, I almost cancelled out of the race. I had a little scare with my beloved labrador retriever and he trumps a race any day. A quick visit to the vet in the morning assured me he wasn't in pain and that he was going to be OK. I was a bachelorette over the weekend, so I needed to bring my little angel to the race (it's like bringing a small child...OK, almost)!

Mapquest never fails me and got me to packet pick-up with plenty of time to spare. While wandering the "festival", I ran into BC, his better half and some friends of his. I was quite distracted, I was so focused on tending to my baby. They told me I missed the trailer where packet pick up was set up, so I said goodbye and headed back. I got my things and headed to the hotel. I got a little lost getting to the hotel and just decided to get a sandwich and call it a night. I didn't want to leave the dog alone for long if I didn't have to.

I think there were drug deals being done at my hotel. Throughout the night, doors were slammed, lots of voices in the halls and just a general stench in the hallways when I walked through them. (what do you expect from a place that accepts dogs?) I slept horribly, but was happy that the dog seemed to be doing OK.

I picked up Neumann at her hotel and we headed to transition before sunrise. It was quite warm and humid already and I ditched my jacket quickly. I really enjoy smaller races because they're low key and I don't feel the pressure like I do at the high-profile races. It was exciting because this was Neumann's longest triathlon to date! We were in the same wave, so we were able to rack our bikes together. Do some socializing, take the bikes for a small test ride, play around with transition set up, meet up with BC for a quick run warm up and before you know it, the race was about to start!

Just before my wave started, three young girls jumped in front of me. Great, I thought, I'll get a really nice draft! These girls looked like they were in high school (I found out later they were). Off we go and these girls hammer it out. I found a sweet pocket and just coasted, smiling to myself because I wasn't working at all at this point. I was a little cramped, but I wasn't getting hit and we seemed to be moving. About 400 yards into it, these girls slowed dramatically. Now I was in trouble. I couldn't get around them! There were women to my left and right and straight across the front. Oh come ON, where is a gap when you need one??? It seemed like minutes, but there finally became a small space and I brushed right past two of the girls. I could see other caps with my color in front of me, but they were too far for me to try and catch them for a draft. So I settled into a rhythym and made for a good, easy-paced swim.

T1 seemed so slow. I felt disoriented and scolded myself for not practicing transitions more. I was the first one off my rack though, so I had lots of space to do my thing. On the bike, I felt good. I was breathing a little heavy initially, but got it under control in the first few miles. The same woman that flew by me on the bike last year did so again this year...but much earlier! I picked up my effort and kept her in sight. She is definitely a masher...I don't think she ever takes the bike out of the big chain ring! Whatever she does, she's very effective! One of the greatest things about this race is that they have PLENTY of volunteers and IL State Police covering the course! The way back felt easier and my legs felt good. As we neared transition, it's back through the hilly section of the course and my legs started to feel heavy. I could now see the runners and the leaders of the race!

Into T2 I had a hard time spotting my rack (scolded myself again for not checking that thoroughly!). I felt my transition was quick, but the clock told otherwise. I headed out on the run that was .5 miles longer than I expected! There were a couple of opportunities to see your competition on the out and backs. Jen Harrison yelled to me on her way back in...took me a few seconds to understand what was going on. I didn't even see her before the race! She was hauling on that run! I don't expect any less. The hills on the run killed my hamstrings and I felt myself slow and take shorter steps to compensate. It's just something I have to figure out how to deal with! I'm still having fun!

Down the finish chute, the crowd was bigger than last year. The band was on stage to the right and there were bleachers on the left. I didn't feel like I left it all out there, but I put in a solid effort. I was able to watch Neumann finish with a look of determination on her face! She waved her arms at the finish that made me know she was in a good place!

Monday, July 07, 2008

4th of July Ride

This year, instead of the usual organized Metric Ride held in Joliet (I think), I opted to go for an "unorganized" ride. This was going to be closer to home, more familiar territory and give me the ability to control my own pace and distance vs. trying to hang with a group too fast for me. I didn't want to push too hard because of my upcoming race on Sunday. Technically, the day should have been a day off, but when you get a "free" day from work, just seems to make sense to get in a good quality workout!

It was nice to sleep in a little and the weather was just perfect for a ride! The group met up at 7:30am and it was about 61 degrees. It was chilly enough for me to start with arm warmers, but most of the group had short sleeves or no sleeves! We headed out on a nice, easy pace and chatted with each other for the first several miles. For the most part, the group was together for the first - almost half - of the ride.

A few of the stronger cyclists took off at one point and I wondered if this is what they always do as one by one, they just flew by me chasing each other. I started in on the chase and then held off - this was not the goal of today. I needed to save it. I slowed down to have the rest of the group catch up when I heard a loud snapping sort of pop. GH had a flat. It was a weird-sounding flat which I thought could only be made by a pinch in the tube. But how had he ridden 25+ miles without this happening already? It was his front tire and we were lucky that we weren't on a quick downhill at that moment. We found the spot where the tube looked like it had been sliced...a little over an inch long! We were just a few minutes away from the first designated stop - the Elwood gas station.

Heading out, we changed direction and realized we must've had a nice tailwind on the way out. The wind was too loud to talk to one another. We made a couple of side-by-side pacelines and were pushing at a pretty good pace. A couple of people were off the back within a couple of minutes. But we kept on...single pace line, double pace line, blah, blah, blah. Pretty uneventful.

Next thing you know, we're off the designated course a little and we have to ride back to the next designated stop - a 66 gas station - I can't remember what city this was. There are about 6-7 of us and we pull up to the gas station and no sooner did I unclip one foot and I heard some lady saying "yeah, I'm the owner here, get out." I thought maybe she knew one of the other cyclists and she was joking around, but then some of the responses made me realize she was serious! This woman came out and said "You can't hang out here!" Hang out? We weren't even off the bikes yet! So then TR said, "Well, what if I want to come in and buy something?" The woman responded, "Yeah, like you're going to buy something. What would you buy?" TR responds, "Gatorade." She says, "No you weren't, you guys get out of here." It was unbelievable. I was really thirsty, too...and I WAS going to go in and buy water. Instead of instigate her, we moved on up the street a little, just off the gas station property. We knew we were meeting the rest of our group here, so we didn't want to go far. Apparently, this wasn't good enough for gas station lady and she kept staring out the window at us. After about 5 more minutes, she came out of the gas station (no, I'm not making this up) and started waving her hands at us yelling, "I told yas to get out of here. YA CAN'T HANG OUT HERE!" Well, that did it and several of us started yelling back. I mean, she didn't even have any customers, why was she so against us just standing on the side of the road??!?! Then she said she was going to call the police. So I said, "OK, call the police, would you like to use my phone?" More yelling back and forth and she went back into the gas station. I should have asked her if she was on medication. We called the people behind and set a new meeting spot. It was maddening and hilarious at the same time.

I now couldn't wait to get to the next meeting spot because I knew I could get water there. The group sort of split some more, one turned off, a couple went home earlier, so our group was dwindling. Lots of talk about being kicked out of the gas station property. On our next stop, everyone was reminded that "YA CAN'T HANG OUT HERE!" Definitely a ride that will not be forgotten!