Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My amazing life

Greetings!  I have never been as busy, nor for as long, as I have been this summer.  I pull up my iCal and I am floored that I have been able to do all that I've done!!  The pace seemed to pick early August with unique and amazing events and I'd like to share them a bit here.  My paternal second cousins, once removed (it's accurate, we spent a lot of time trying to figure that out!) reached out to reconnect with me, after not seeing them for probably 24-25 years. Christine lives locally and Tom lives in New Orleans. Tom was coming back to Cleveland for his 40th HS reunion and inquired about a get-together. I was thrilled and excited to see them all again. Christine is still married to the man I met as a young girl and hers was the first wedding I ever attended. It was wonderful to spend time with them, talk about old times, exchange stories and catch up. I really hope that we can maintain contact going forward - my kids were excited to learn these super nice, fun people are blood relatives and keep asking when we can do it again! We'll definitely make it a priority, and hope to get my brother and sister involved for the next one. I think I've got a great reason to tackle Ironman New Orleans in 2012 (2011 is just 2 weeks before IM St. George - I'm crazy, but not THAT crazy!!). 

In the next few days, I would be preparing for the arrival of a guest: Blair Ryan, a talented photojournalist who is doing a project on the Triabetes team captains. She is, quite literally, traveling around the country in a large oval-esque pattern to hit every region, every captain, for film footage and interviews.  She'd be spending 3 days with me at my home. My kids? SUPER EXCITED! Me? Nervous. Stressed.  I sent an email in an attempt to prepare her for my kids, the pets, and my lack of preparing anything remotely close to a meal.  If you don't know this about me, you should. I am about as domestic as a snowblower. I don't cook. Ever. My kids forage for their food. I will shop, but I don't make meals. Blair was fine with this. I felt a wee bit calmer knowing that I wouldn't need to attempt to pretend I'm June Cleaver.

Blair arrived, and just as everyone said, she's sweet, laid-back, friendly and easy going. She's one of the most likable people ever!  We went out to Pickle Bills for a nice dinner and got to know her a bit.

The next day, I had a few hours to work so she came along and took some pics, footage of me examining a pet, then did some errands as I finished appointments and did a surgery. After work we head home where I found my new Dexcom continuous glucose monitor had arrived!!! Woo hoo! But first, we had plans: head over to Headland's with the kids and try on my wetsuit for the first time. I think she got some great pics as I struggled - STRUGGLED! - to get into it in the water. Apparently it's easier to put on when you are dry. Which I've always done. I have no idea why, in my infinite wisdom, I chose to put it on in the water. But it provided much comic relief.  :)

After swimming, we high-tailed it down to Cuyahoga Valley National Park for a run. Blair and I signed up for the 10K Shatter the Silence trail run, proceeds benefiting rape crisis center. My daughters signed up to run the 5K trail run. This would be their very first 5K trail runs!  I learned that night that I am NOT cut out for trail running, and, I feared a tree root could take me out both for my triathlon planned on Sunday, and even for the big event, a full IM Sept. 12th.  I decided to settle into a safer pace and do my best NOT to injure myself.   I did the run in 1 hr. Blair, the amazing woman she is, got lost and ran probably a lot further, all the while, running with a video recorder!  I am in awe.

Friday we took on a 50 mile ride. We left Mentor and rode Lakeshore virtually the entire way downtown. We stopped at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for some nutrition, then head over to Ted's building so we could re-up our beverages and she could do a quick interview with him. Then, back to Mentor. I was losing steam on the return ride so Blair took the lead most of the way. She is a very strong cyclist!!

After returning, Blair prepared to leave and embark on the next leg of her journey.  I enjoyed every minute she was here! It was very fun and I found myself relaxing a lot. I am glad to have had that experience! What a neat person she is.

Next up, I was headed to Springfield, OH with a friend to run a 70.3. Let me explain ... I had an Oly scheduled for Sunday, but a good friend from high school, Mike, sent me an email saying that he was coming into town this weekend and would love to catch up. He lives in California and we haven't seen each other in YEARS! I knew the race he was talking about because my friend Elizabeth has been training for it all summer. It was her KEY race! I knew I'd be using it as a training day, as my full IM is about 3 weeks out. So, I jumped on board and was excited to embark on a fun weekend. The biggest issue I encountered was that it was my "kid weekend" and I typically don't travel to do races those weekends. Logistically it made no sense to drag my hubby and children to "watch" me do another 70.3.  Old news by this time! Ted was helpful and agreed to stay home with the kids while I went to the triathlon. Next I asked Elizabeth if she'd want to room together and possibly share a ride. She was all about it! I backed out of the Rev3 preview day - it just would have been too hectic, and, I'd seen the course back in July. This gave us a relaxed time line to get to Springfield.

We picked up our packets on Saturday and it was so awesome to see Elizabeth enjoying this first 70.3 experience!! She was so excited!  I just love hanging out with her - she's an amazing person and I consider myself lucky to call her a good friend!

We then met Mike, his wife, new baby, Tyler, his dad and sister for pizza Saturday evening. It was really nice to just enjoy their company and get to know each other.  After dinner, Liz and I partook in some ice cream and then settled in to bed early. She's a super roommate and I had a ton of fun and lots of long talks.

Race morning we got there very early. Elizabeth and I are both "early" types, always relieved to stake out our real estate then relax a bit.  We met Mike there after a bit and went through our pre-race routines, where I discovered a FLAT TIRE!  I took my wheel and spare tube up to bike support and a nice guy changed it out for me in no time at all. He and I started chatting and I learned he's in for the Rev3 full as well, and planned to race today too! Nice guy, and he was pretty supportive as he passed me on the out-and-back run portions.

My race: My swim went super!!  I had my new wetsuit and I wanted a good swim. I had that tiny period where the HR jumps up and panic can set in, but I remained calm and swam through it, and it went away.  To my knowledge, no one in my wave (ALL women) passed me, and I was passing the previous wave - men. That made me feel pretty good!  The water was a bit rough - more so than you'd think for a lake. The distance seemed long - it was 2 loops and, per seasoned veterans, the swim times were slow.  Water conditions wouldn't account for it though. I know at one point I veered off a bit, but it likely had a negligible effect on my overall time.  I'd give my swim an A-.  Next time I race a 70.3 I'm going to put a little more "hammer time" into it - I held back because this was supposed to be my training day.  :)

The bike: Well, the course was nothing like Quassy or Rhode Island! Much better, but there were a few good climbs.  I liked the little offshoot of ~3 miles ... you climbed up, turned around, then FLEW down!  FUN!!!  I held a decent pace for the first loop then began to feel a bit tired. I settled into a slower pace - don't want to burn and die before the IM.   It was partway into the second loop that Elizabeth came flying by! She settled in next to me and said she was going to ride with me.   ABSOLUTELY NOT!!  I'm settling into a training pace and this is her key race - she's strong and flying! You GO girl!!!  And away she went!!  Looked strong and I was so proud of her!!

The run: Well, here has been my achilles heel lately.  I've been frank about my neglect of the run of late and the subsequent demise of my ability to pace and hold my run. It's gone in the shitter to be frank. I was healing from some blisters - and they did fine, actually.  I had an injury on my heal that I have NO IDEA how it happened, but it was unrelated to anything training-wise.  I got some waterproof bandages and painted the edges with New Skin - it held up beautifully for the entire race and didn't hurt at all, which surprised me. On Friday I was in a lot of pain (superficial, skin pain, not a musculoskeletal injury!).   My goal for this run was to do more running than walking, and even shoot to run all but the water stations.  Well, that didn't happen.  My gut was bugging me a bit early on. I had that dreaded "sloshy gut".  I was hot and thirsty, but the more fluid I took in, the more it felt like a vat of beer in my gut. Then ... GI "distress" ... the adrenal glands sent out epinephrine and created what I've always referred to as "flash diarrhea".  That feeling you may get when you have a very scary event. I suppose this may be a factor with my nerves before IM!  Anyway, there was some discomfort there, but no real "event".   I discovered COKE at one aid station and LIFE GOT INSTANTLY BETTER!!!!  The coke soothed, it broke surface tension, it tasted good, sweet, gave me some carbs. Life was better!  A few good burps and I felt a bit more like running.

I had been playing cat and mouse with a 20 yr old guy so I was mentally working on that.  I saw Mike as he finished at 5 hrs - amazing!  I saw Elizabeth and she was looking super! She didn't have a watch so when I saw her on the last loop, I said, girl, you can go under 6:15 - GO!  She asked how far did she have and what time was it now ... it's 5:55 and you have just over 2 miles.  It's yours, go get it!!  AND SHE DID! 6:14:35 I believe. Got SECOND in her age group!! I am so happy for her.

I found myself with 6 miles to go and 60 minutes to do it in, if I wanted to go under 7 hrs.  I wasn't sure I could pull it off today.  But this was my 3rd 70.3 of the season and I'd sure like to go UNDER 7 hrs today, even if it wasn't my "balls to the wall" effort.  I then realized that if I didn't do the 10 min. miles for the last 6 miles, that it would be me GIVING UP, not going for it. The only issue I had at this time was being a bit tired and NEW BLISTERS.  My feet were a bloody mess. I knew this would end with chopped liver for toes, but hey, that heals quickly! No reason not to accept that. So, I went for it! And I ended up finishing 6:52  :)   And now I have ground beef for toes!!  My run: a C - (and I'm being generous - I almost said D, but I made some progress with the mental demon I wrestle with.)

I saw the Wheelie Fun guy, Ryan Campbell I think, and he said the first time we saw each other: "what were we thinking??"  The next time, he saw me struggling and I said I was thinking about downgrading from the full IM at Rev3 to the half. He emphatically said "No! Don't let the doubt and darkness creep in! You can do the full!"  I'm thinking: How does he know??  But, I do appreciate the encouragement. I get it. I know that now, with under 3 weeks until race day, I'm very scared. Very.

I would imagine that anyone that tackles an IM is scared for the first one. Hell, maybe all of them! My fear? Failure. Not just a DNF.  If I DNF because of an injury, illness, or metabolic disaster, I can accept that.  The fear is of the "mental "quit"" (And, yes, I did just us quotes within a quote - intentionally). The fear is that my mind will tell me it's too much, too scary. That my mind will make the decision to quit.  I HOPE I have more say, but when you are in that dark, hard, hurtin' place, the mind is screaming "QUIT you idiot" ... That would be the DNF that would be failure.  I fear failing on race day.  I feel reasonably prepared physically. But the reason I race every weekend? To strengthen my mind. To feel more in control of the part that says to quit.  I think it's working, but it's still not a for-sure.  What really is, though? This I get.  But I'm trying to desensitize myself to the fear that is brewing. I think, for me, it really has worked, but we'll ultimately see on September 12th.  The ball is in motion and I plan to roll with it!!

So, here I am, nursing my superficial, but very painful, wounds. I'm in good shape otherwise! The day after the race? Not. Even. Sore.   But my feet need to heal and toughen up.  I had this happen before, 3 weeks before my first half marathon, and it worked out perfectly.  I'm doing aggressive wound care and hope to be back running by Sunday. I did make a poor decision, however.  After lancing and draining the blisters, I trimmed off the skin. NEVER. DO. THAT.   It was like having a burn wound open, raw and painful.  Leave the skin on to dry out, but protect, the skin below it.  My bad decision was further exacerbated by working 2 days in a row, on my feet, all day, with shoes on.  The pain on Tuesday was right below my kidney stones. Not good.  Today, less painful and I'm wearing flip flops until further notice. They are healing well because itching has set in. I'm fortunate to have some triamcinolone available to help with that. I think I'm over the hump and on the road to mending. Oh, and that toenail? Still black. Still there. Will fall off one day, I just pray it's AFTER 9/12.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monster Ride Day Part Deux

So... to recap, I'm on my long-awaited 8 hr ride trip and I'm 3.5 hrs into it, around 60+ miles. I'm heading east on Valley Parkway and about to embark on the unfamiliar territory. 

I descend a fun hill to find that the road intersects another and I must choose left or right. I take a moment to pull out my iphone and use the GPS, which directs me to go right. More descent and a few minutes later I'm at a 4 way intersection. Straight ahead it says it's some trailhead for the Towpath. The road ends in a parking lot and there is a train station. I'm familiar with the train, it's the same one that goes through CVNP and Peninsula - the one that blasts it's horn and scares the snot out of my children. I doubt that's the way ... again, back to the GPS, and it turns out it IS the way I want to go, only I'll be following the Towpath.  I head out and find several places where I must decide to go left or right or straight. Continuing to check the iphone GPS I think I've got it figured out.  10 minutes into the ride I check again and whoa, not the route I'm supposed to be on! Do I  backtrack? Do I forge ahead? I just want OUT of here. GPS gives me the option to go "a short distance" on a path to the left, which should - SHOULD - take me out of this forest.  I'm feeling like I'm not in Ohio anymore ... it feels like West Virginia. I think I hear banjos!  I'm sure I'm in the middle of a Deliverance experience. I just want A ROAD! I just want OUT!  I go left and - holy crap - it's a MAJOR mountain I'm climbing! Just dirt path. I can barely even walk up this path ... it's clear I'm climbing out of the CNVP.  Where will I end up??  Is this a HUGE mistake? How come I can't just cycle on roads to get back to Mentor? I think I'm dehydrated. And I'm hungry! Now it's HOT. My body needs an Oreo blizzard. Why don't I have a flare?  My phone battery is getting LOW. I think I'm dying.

At the top of this MOUNTAIN, I see houses. THANK GOD!  I continue toward them and finally - FINALLY - emerge from the CVNP. I'm in some RICH town. These houses are millions of dollars. I'm on a cul de sac, with countless branching cul de sac offshoots to the left and the right. I continue on what seems to be the main cul de sac and it's STILL A CLIMB! I'm exhausted now. I want to be done. Where the hell am I??   GPS says that Rt. 82 (or is it 84? I can't recall) is somewhere close.  I forge ahead and end up at a Marcs.  I need water, but I WANT an Oreo blizzard.  I need a Dairy Queen stat! I'm looking for one but it seems this area is too poor to have a DQ (I'm about 5 miles from the rich area).  I'll settle for a Dairy King. Or even a freezee. Hell, McDonalds will do at this point! Chocolate milk shake will make everything better. And I need protein!! My protein bars were an epic FAIL. The didn't withstand the heat - I even froze them and put them in with a cold pack. No dice, a melted amorphous mass of EAS protein - almost liquid in consistency. I suppose if I get desperate I can shovel this stuff in, but it's pretty much the last thing I want to do. I'd pay $20 for a hunk of chicken right now!

The area is totally unfamiliar to me. I keep thinking somewhere soon I'll see a familiar fast-food place. Nope!  Nothing.  Next I come upon an industrial area. No shade. Crappy roads. Trucks flying by.  I'm unhappy. It's hot! HOT! GPS says turn right. I see signs for 271 North! Yippee!! Oh. Wait.  I can't take 271 north! Crap.  I pass UNDER 271 North and end up in yet another unfamiliar city. How come I've never heard of these towns? Oakwood? Glenwillow?  I follow Pettibone Rd. down a nice descent and plan to intersect Rt 91 - worst case scenario, I can follow that north. 

Nope! Pettibone Rd. has construction going on and I must turn left onto Cochran Rd.  Now this is major industrial parkway and trucks are flying by me once again. Plus, it's 3:30 and apparently a lot of shifts end at 3:30 b/c it was BUSY!!  The roads suck too.  I'm surprised I didn't end up with a flat. Needless to say, there was NO DAIRY QUEEN either.  At this point, I'm kind of delirious with this whole debacle and I'm kind of cracking myself up with the dialogue in my head.  I am just looking for a FAMILIAR ROAD so I can relax again and enjoy the ride.  Another issue I'm facing is TONS of traffic lights, which I won't encounter in an IM race. These lights are making my forward progress look less and less impressive.  I was holding a great pace - ~18 mph - for the first part of the day. Now I'm dealing with traffic, bad roads and stop lights. Plus stopping to use GPS. I really did a poor job of planning here!

Cochran Rd. takes me across Solon Rd. and into Solon. FINALLY! A city I've been to before! I recognize this a bit. :)  Still no DQ though :(  I see signs for 91.  I hit many stoplights and am in what feels like rush hour traffic.  As I get to the sign that says turn right to get to 91, I peer down the lane to find it's an ON RAMP TO 422! No, I don't want that!  I continue past it - fortunate to have a courteous and tolerant truck driver who allowed me to merge back into traffic and sped up to get through the intersection.  That was SCARY!!

 Now I'm north of 422 and my GPS says I can go right on Cannon to hit 91. Of course it's uphill.   I pull over in a tree lawn, under a tree, and feel like crying.  I'm thirsty. I'm tired. My phone battery is almost dead, and I'M NOT EVEN CLOSE TO HOME!  I had a little pity party for myself, had some warm water and a gel with caffeine, and got back in the saddle.  A few minutes later I was on 91 North. At least I knew how to get home from here!

91 North wasn't a fun ride. Narrow berm. Gravel. Bad road and people in Beemers and Escalades not real tolerant of having to share the road.  It's kind of hilly out there too. I was running on empty so each climb was a challenge.  I passed MANY private schools. And OF COURSE, no DQ.

My good friend Katie lives in Mayfield Hts. (Village? whatever) so when I saw the sign I had a great idea! I'd stop at her house for water!!  Katie just had a baby 5 weeks ago so I was hoping to find her home. I'd normally call, but I had no battery left.  She's right off of 91 so I headed toward her house and was ELATED to see she was home.  I tried not to startle her as I knocked. She's a "go with the flow" kind of girl so she was fine with the impromptu visit.  I sucked down 3 bottles of water and a Dr. Pepper - which I don't even really like but it did taste good!  I enjoyed the brief visit and felt rejuvenated when I got back on the bike. 

The rest of the trip home was smooth! Zipped up 91 north - all familiar. That makes soooooo much difference.  I found myself in rush hour and seemed to hit every. single. light. I came across, but that's the had I was dealt.  I chose to go through Willoughby and cut over to Lost Nation and hit Lakeshore. I had just enough battery to text hubby that I was still making my way home and would be there shortly.  I finished with 8 hrs in the saddle - exactly.  I stopped the watch when I was at Katie's, the golf course, and my melt down on the tree lawn, so the time I rode was the time in the saddle. It was ~113 miles I believe.

Honestly, this went way better than my first century ride. I did learn a few things too! I need a different protein source for the hot rides. I think Clif bar is granola-esque and may be an option.  Any suggestions?  I also think I need to be more detailed in the unfamiliar areas, mapping them out in greater detail.  In the future, I'd do that ride again, but in reverse.  I'd get the unfamiliar part over earlier, when I'm fresh.  I'd avoid N. Marginal Rd. And obviously I'd like to avoid being in the wilderness with my ROAD BIKE!  I'd map out several Dairy Queen options along the way.  And I'd set out earlier than 8 am - I should have pushed off at 6:30.  I didn't attempt the run afterward. I just didn't have it in me. I was SO HUNGRY!  The saddle sores were much better this time after incorporating Butt Butt'r into the routine. I used up my samples, now it's time to purchase the tub-o-Butt Butt'r.

My bike needs a bath. She also needs to see the doctor. I'll be in touch with Sherman to set up a check-up before the Rev3 Ironman.  I'm hoping she's in good shape, but after hearing James Isom's experience of breaking a chain, I know that I don't want to risk having everything fall apart on race day, so a tune-up might identify potential problems. Let's hope there's no pricey repair!

There you have it! I'm glad I did it. It was fun - mostly! I feel a tiny bit sore today. But not bad, really! Today is my 12 mile run day. Better get going on that!

Peace out!

Monster Ride Day - Part 1

So, I've been talking about this ride day for quite a while. It was scheduled to happen last week, but due to computer malfunction I lost a 100 question final exam I was working on and had to re-do it from scratch. Oh, then after work Monday evening, I had a dead battery so I waited around for AAA to bring me a new one, getting me home after 10pm. Solution: reschedule Monster Ride Day to NEXT Tuesday.

I mapped out a 100 mile loop around Cleveland. I would be familiar with all but the lower eastern quadrant - like 3pm to 6pm region on a clock.   I set out at 8 am.  In hindsight, I'd leave at 6:30 am.  The first 25 miles would take me from my home in Mentor to the Cleveland Browns' Stadium.  Most of it was familiar, except the North Marginal Road portion, which I've run - Cleveland Marathon, but not ridden. I now know why - IT SUCKS!!  It's in bad shape and tough on my bike tires ... which translates to my crotch.  It wasn't fun at all. 

I stopped at the stadium and texted my husband, Ted, who is an attorney and works downtown.  I was hoping to catch him so he could babysit my bike while I used the bathroom and refreshed the water supply.  No luck. He later told me he was in court.  C'est la vie.  Onward. I continued down West 3rd then took a right onto Superior, where I encountered my only rude driver of the entire day! A guy started screaming at me. He had his windows down and a woman in his car.  He honked and screamed. I was in a lane CLEARLY marked and labeled: BIKE LANE.  As fate would have it, he got stopped at a stop light and I pulled up right next to him - in my BIKE LANE.  I looked at him, pointed to the sign and the markings on the road and said: "Dude ... It's a BIKE LANE!  I'm riding in a BIKE LANE!"  He proceeded to mumble something I couldn't hear, and the woman, who was closest to me, could have died.   He then continued to talk about me as we sat at THE LONGEST LIGHT EVER!  I ignored him for about 20 seconds then looked back at him with laser eyes, giving him "the glare"!  He said, "what, you don't like what I'm saying?" (none of which I could hear - I'm substantially hearing impaired - TRUE FACT) but I replied with "you are just highlighting your ignorance. The law says I can bike on the road, and you should learn to share the road with cyclists. Regardless, I'm in a BIKE LANE!"  I'm very certain that my words of wisdom changed him into a new man who now respects the cyclist on the road.  I have a way of influencing people with my words. He'll probably be the new face of cyclists' rights.

Light turned green and he peeled out - clearly humiliated by my words.  I began the moderate climb that is the Superior bridge, and with my adrenalin pumping out from the confrontation, my HR was off the charts!  Oh, and luckily we ended up at the same place, juxtaposed, at the light on the west side of the bridge. Goodie! More fun dialogue!

Onward into Lakewood then, finally, the Metroparks.  The serenity of the valley parkway was welcomed after that urban tour.  The miles seemed to fly by as I headed south into North Olmsted (where I grew up!), Olmsted Falls, Berea, Strongsville, North Roylaton, and then Brecksville.  A lady cyclist passed me in Berea and I kept her in my sites for miles.  Then, I started running low on water. :(  I knew I needed some pronto, but none was revealing itself to me. No stores, no spigots, nothing.  The lady cyclist stopped at a busy intersection and was eating Skittles and drinking as I approached. I asked if she knew of a place I could re-up my water and she said 2 miles back was a spigot.  Ugh, I didn't want to back-track! She did offer me some Skittles!  I declined, I was okay with sugar, loaded with gels, but just needed fluids!  I looked around, considering going left or right and leaving the parkway, when I saw a sign for a golf course! Ah ha!  Seneca Golf Course, I'm coming to your clubhouse! 

The clubhouse was filled with seniors.  FILLED!  They all gawked at my sweaty, dirty, nasty self as I made my way to the counter.  A guy came up and I placed my order: 2 bottles of water, a fountain Coke, a G2 - Blue, and oh yeah, a Snickers.  Would I like it frozen??  ABSOLUTELY!  Total cost: $5  What a deal. I'd have given him $20!  

A brief reprieve to eat, hydrate, update Facebook and check in with the hubby, who was worried I was stranded.  After eating, I felt MUCH better and off I went.

Now here's where things got ugly ...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Greater Cleveland Triathlon Race Report

Well this is a race report I've been wanting to write for A LONG TIME!!! Today I did GCT in Mentor, OH. The race director is a friend, and lots of tri peeps do this event. It's a great time to see everyone. They also put on a kid's triathlon the day before and all 3 chicklets did that this year - each doing very good and learning what it means to struggle with exhaustion, cramps, not getting first place, and exhibiting good sportsmanship.  I'm very proud of all 3 of them! :)

Yesterday I was beat. I mean tired to the bone. I napped. I went to bed early.  I have been getting a lot of grief from various "well meaners" who feel I'm over training. I don't happen to think that's so, but I HAVE been over extended with work responsibilities, family stuff as well as training. My teaching assignment ended this week and a few students are griping about their grades, which causes me stress. I truly believe my body is tired because, for once, it CAN be. I actually have a tiny bit of down time and I think my body is making the most of that.  Anyway, early to bed last night.

This morning when I awoke, I got up to make coffee and, for the first time, had a fleeting thought: I don't really feel like racing today.  That's SO unusual for me! I've been nervous and wanted to eject, but not indifferent. Anyway, I paid for the race so, barring injury or illness, I was going to use it as a training day, as I typically do.

I arrived at 6:15 and got my bike racked. I prepared my transition area then off to use the portapotty.  I put on my headphones to try to distract myself and get in the groove a bit. After using the facilities, I returned to transition and was abruptly grabbed by none other than the Transition Nazi. Frankly he startled me and was very abrasive in his tone and demeanor, as he pulled me over to the side. Dude, DON'T TOUCH ME! I was immediately pissed and wondered what the heck this man was doing to me. He began to chastize me for using headphones. Now, I've attended the USAT rules clinic, as well as reading many pre-race instructions, and I'm aware that headphones are restricted in USAT sanctioned events, however, in the hours preceding the events, we've been allowed to use them. This was addressed specifically in my Rev3 races and other local races too. I've never seen it written that headphones are prohibited at any time - only during races. I suppose that is possibly true, I don't dispute that yet, and will look into it, but the point here is the abrasive and confrontational manner in which this was addressed with me. I literally was startled by how this man handled me!  He would not let me enter transition. I asked what was his solution, then? He said they must be immediately taken off the premises and that I was not to go into transition with them. I informed him that would be a problem for me, because my car keys were in transition ... how shall I proceed Mr. Transition Nazi??  He was clearly very angry and continued to chastise me about it being MY responsibility to KNOW THE RULES.  Well, dude, I did think I knew them! And I still think you are wrong ... I'm still not convinced I'm wrong, but I'm not looking to argue this with you right now.  He then reluctantly let me go into transition to get my car keys. I did a big FU to him by NOT returning the ipod to the car :)  I tucked it into my tri bag.

This year, the weather was great and there would be no cancellation of the swim. We had a pre-race meeting - which NO ONE COULD HEAR! It sounded like the teacher in Charlie Brown's class: Wa wa, WAH, wa, wa WAH.  We all shook our heads and laughed!

Now down to the beach for the 1 mile hike to the start. I would be swimming sans wetsuit again, as apparently I'm not a SMALL, but a Medium :(  Had to send it back - hoping to have it for the half in 2 weeks! My wave would go off third. The wind was picking up and the waves were rolling pretty big.  Off we went. I felt good, had NO panic, and my swim stroke was long and strong, as I passed people left and right. As I raised my head to sight, I couldn't see any other yellow caps, only purple and pink. I must have been one of the first in my heat! :) Swim time was approximately 26 minutes, and given the fact that we were swimming against the waves, I wasn't too upset with that time. And, I'm loving the fact that I'm okay swimming sans wetsuit!

Transition went well, no hiccups! Off with my bike and mounted smoothly, easing into the road without incident. Last year a very tall dude mowed me over and my chain came off, leaving me needing help to get it back on. I was happy to not have that to deal with this year!

My goal on my bike was to stay consistent and strong, leaving some gas in the tank for my run, lately my weakest leg. I felt my bike went pretty good! Now there is this pretty nasty hill at about mile 10 and I have to admit that I dismounted and walked ~ 50 yrds.  Walking it was even hard, I could get NO PURCHASE on the pavement to propel myself forward. Once it crested, I mounted the bike again and felt that was a good decision, as I had a good deal of juice left to finish the rest of the climb.  Then later, there's this really fun part where you go flying downhill for quite a while! I loved that!!!  The rest of the ride was uneventful and I came into transition feeling ready to run and had about 60 minutes to complete the 10K run.  I knew I'd have to push real hard to go under 3 hrs, which is what I really wanted!

T2 went smoothly and I started my run.  I pulled off to use the facilities, only to find the bathroom locked. WTF??  No worries, I used a bush. I have no shame and the wasted time would be WELL worth it!  However, at this point I tore my number from my race belt :(  Time to rig it by rolling it under my race belt. No one had a safety pin so that would have to do.   

I plodded ahead.  I had forgotten my Garmin so I didn't have the pace available.  I used my watch to continuously calculate how I was doing, and would I be able to go under 3 hrs?  It was hot! I did a small bit of walking, but way less than usual and my run was a little faster than usual.  I found myself passing people, rather than being passed. There were some good hills on that run! I love running DOWN hills.  Up? Not so much! When I do walk, I power walk.  I mean my walk is equivalent to some people's jog. I should mention that when I was 14 I was at the National Junior Olympic Championships for racewalking! It's not something I'm proud of, especially at age 14.  I was blackmailed into doing it by my track coach!!   However, when I walk now, it's NOT racewalk ... but I could do that for some comic relief!! 

As I approached the end, I could see that if I held my pace I'd go sub 3!  I was starting to cramp a bit in my right thigh. And, I was hurting. I was pushing myself to my max and it had me outside my comfort zone. But, I really, really wanted to break the 3 hr barrier, and new that the sacrifice of pain now would be worth it.  As I hit the 6 mile mark, with only 0.2 miles to go, I was hurting, but I held strong.  I finished!! 2:52:11.  Woot, woot!!!!

My hubby, Ted, and my 2 youngest, Jaime and Kevin, were there to help me, and more importantly, Ted brought me the NECTAR OF THE GODS: PEPSI!  (only post-race, otherwise, I don't touch the stuff) That was so delicious!!!  I was careful to check blood glucose after the colas (I had 2, I must confess!).  Surprisingly, after the race, the colas don't spike me? Not sure why that is!

After I caught my breath, I made my way to the results board, only to find that I was assessed a penalty for drafting. 2 minutes.  First off, I don't draft.  I'm a chicken, and I hate being near other cyclists, so I'm always giving everyone a wide berth.  Second, I don't even really know HOW to draft.  Is that even a real benefit? If it is, I surely don't do it.  If I'm gaining on someone, I yell "on your left" and pass - yes, within 15 seconds.  I know of this penalty, but seriously, never thought it would affect me because I don't draft!!  Not sure how it was called on me, but, oh well, I know there is no point in debating this with an official. Add the 2 minutes if you will - it STILL keeps me under 3 hrs. I'm not going to let that penalty dampen the mood - I still had a great race, and I know that I absolutely did not draft, nor benefit from anything remotely close to drafting. It's just not how I cycle. I'm such a loner on the bike, and a nervous rider, that I hate being near other cyclists :) 

How ironic that the day I least feel like racing is the day it finally all comes together? This seems to happen to me with workouts as well - the days I WANT to workout, those are only okay or blah, but the days I really DON'T want to workout, I usually have a kick ass workout. I try to keep that in mind as an additional form of motivation.

Peace out peep!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Rev3 Preview Day-July

Rev3 Preview Day hosted by CTC

July 17

I was happy to have a preview day offered by our triathlon team. It provided many opportunities to learn and experience, as well as hang with some of my favorite tri peeps, and meet some new ones! I’m always very impressed with all the opportunities that are offered us by CTC! If you aren’t taking advantage of these things, you really ought to be!

I headed out to Sandusky Friday evening. I was looking to avoid the drive for Saturday morning. Bunked up with a few CTC friends and, as always, enjoyed great conversation and many laughs!

Saturday we gathered at Sawmill and checked in. Next we headed down to the lake where Leah, from Liquid Lifestyles, gave us many tips to try and utilize while doing open water swim. The lake was calm and pretty clear, and I had 4 nice loops around the makeshift course set up for us. I’m starting to feel so much more calm in open water! Practice, practice practice! I’ve been doing OWS on Tuesdays in Mentor and it’s amazing how much that’s helped me!

Next we set out for our ride. The plan was for us to break into compatible groups and do a loop of the full course – about 50 miles. I had other plans though. Today I would attempt my first century ride! I was in group B2 and most other riders had their goals for one loop, so I quickly learned I’d be going it alone. I was prepared! I had my camelbak on and got some razzing for that … yeah, little did you know I’d be on my bike for 5 ½ hrs in 90+ degree weather!! Being diabetic, I have additional challenges and nutritional needs. I was prepared with cash, snacks, phone, extra liquids, and sunscreen. I was unprepared for the mental abuse I’d be facing!

The first loop went lovely! I felt great. As I turned away from my group for the second loop, I began to feel shaky. I stopped in Milan to take my BG … it was low, at 51. Yikes.  I took a gel and some amino vital, rested under a shade for about 10 minutes, then got back on the bike. Miles 50-60 were rough.  Once I got to the gas station at the furthest point, I refilled my liquids and got some ice. A guy asked me if I was biking out there? Yup! He said: it’s TOO HOT! ... Yup, tell me about it!

The next leg of the ride was a bit better, until around mile 75, when I started to feel pretty miserable. My saddle was causing me great discomfort and I was tired. Being alone was probably my biggest mistake. I did pull off and rest in the grass, under shade, for about 5 minutes. I needed a pep talk! I swear, if I could have called someone to come get me, I would have! But my husband was in Columbus and the SAG wagon was long gone. 

I found myself going slower and slower. There were times I was going 9-10 mph.  I was running out of steam physically, mentally and emotionally. I began to have doubts. I thought: I can’t do a full, this is crazy! I’m going to have to downgrade to the half. I don’t think I can do this.

As I neared the finish, and the miles crept up slower and slower, I was getting agitated and exhausted.  I finally arrived back at Sawmill. Now to drive home. I seriously considered napping, but just wanted to be HOME! So off I went. Things felt better once I got home. I had some first aid care to deal with, as my poor body was in bad shape from that ordeal.

Once home, I relayed my concerns to some people and was lucky to get a lot of support. I got some great advice, some motivation, and some pep talks, that really helped! Thank you to those of you who chimed in with support!!

Next time I will do it a bit different. I think this is all part of the journey that is part of training for an Ironman. That day was difficult, and fun in a twisted way, but it was necessary and I learned a lot from it!

Rhode Island 70.3 Race Report

Catching up: Ironman Rhode Island 70.3

I’ve been “off the charts!” busy these past weeks, and subsequently, haven’t had the opportunity to do a race report for Ironman Rhode Island 70.3, which pains me! I love reliving the experience through blogging!

This was my first time to our smallest state, as well as my first IRONMAN brand race. I was told that the course was hilly and that this race had a split transition. I really had no idea what that meant for me … but I’d soon find out! Ted, my husband, joined me for this race. This would be his first experience as a spectator and supporter for this distance triathlon. I was sure to forewarn him that we’d be looking at a long day for him and I knew what a challenge that would be, especially with the heat wave we were experiencing.

We began our drive to the east coast on Friday afternoon and drove partway, to about Albany, NY. Our first attempt to get a room resulted in a 15 mile detour, only to find out there was no room available. Onward to the next attempt, which got us an overpriced room with a continental breakfast. We were sure to take full advantage of the breakfast, and even considered loading up the cooler for snacks for later!  

Sat. we finished the trip to Rhode Island, checked into our room in Coventry, then headed north to Providence.  It was a lovely sunny day, and it was pretty toasty out. We headed to the Convention Center to pick up my packet and do a little shopping. I bought bike shorts and a cycling jersey with the IM Providence logo – a risky move, because I knew would need to finish this race to feel like I could wear it and be “legit” – not a poser!

Being a split transition, there were lots of logistical issues for me to consider. I’ve never had to think through my needs for one transition vs. the other, so this would be challenging. For T2, I put in my running shoes, a pair of socks and a bandana … is that it??  We were told that it was to likely to rain overnight so I tied the bag to the rack in hopes of keeping everything dry if it were to rain. We then headed over to get some lunch at Joe’s and while we were eating, the sky opened up and it POURED! For at least an hour: torrential rain! I began to worry about my shoes! I was tempted to go check on my shoes, but the point was mute. I resolved to “let it be” and tried to let it go. Struggles of a type A personality… 

Next we headed south to the ocean and T1. It sure felt like 56 miles south – when we arrived there, it was sunny and dry – not a drop of rain.  We were given 15 minutes to drop off my bike, and after racking, I covered the seat and computer with a bag. One of the workers noticed my license plate on our way out and said, “Sorry to hear about LaBron, you guys got screwed” … La Who?

Now that the majority of the day was over, we headed back to the hotel and just mellowed out for the rest of the evening. I laid out my clothes and equipment and tried to figure out just what I needed for the next day’s race. Off to bed and up at 3:30 am to prepare … eat, PRP, dress for the race. We left for the race. As usual, there was a pretty good caravan of triathletes heading down to the start.

Got there in plenty of time. Checked my tires, laid out my gear and on last visit to the portapotty. I was surprised and dismayed to see a guy standing among all the athletes SMOKING A CIGARETTE! Boo! :(

The ocean looked pretty rough. This was my first experience racing in the ocean. My wave was FIRST – a huge change for me, as we “over-40 women” are usually last.  The excitement was building. My biggest goal for this swim would be to have a consistent swim with no panic attack. 

The heat went off and out we went. The course was a rectangle and the “out” portion was met with pretty big waves! I had a little challenge with the waves, but no panic. Once we turned for the “back portion, the waves proved to be helpful, as there was a small degree of body surfing that could be done! I was happy to end my swim and was a little disappointed with my time, but thrilled not to have had a panic attack! Later I was told that many people had slower times due to the water conditions, so that made me feel a bit better about it.

Transition went smoothly as I easily peeled out of my wetsuit. One of the volunteers was there to assist me - ??? – this was new! But I didn’t need any assistance. The volunteer commented: WOW, you are good at that!
My ride went off smoothly as I set out to ride 56 miles north in Rhode Island. It was scenic and pretty. There were quite a few challenging climbs, but I managed to stay on my bike. I knew there would be 2 places where I may need to dismount, but I vowed to do my best not to. Before I knew it, I had climbed both hills and didn’t need to dismount! WOW! I’ve come a long way!  Around mile 40 was a pit stop for a potty break. Then, shortly after that I came across a cyclist that had taken a good spill. I could hear the ambulance en route and I would come face to face with it as it turned onto the road I was turning off of.  I had to slow way down to give him room to maneuver the turn. I later saw this cyclist with a splint and crutches. Bummer for her.

The last 10 miles in Providence were over crappy roads! I truly feared a flat! It took us through the roughest part of the city (I think, if that wasn’t the roughest, then they really are in trouble!) before finishing in Providence. I entered T2 and racked my bike. This was the time I needed to check my blood glucose and take some insulin to be prepared for the numerous gels and Gatorade I’d be consuming during the run portion. Now I was ready to tackle the run.
Checking the sugar and taking some insulin!
Boy was it hot! Most of the run was in the sun. It was a 6.5 mile out and back, to be done twice. The most challenging part was a very steep, long hill in what seemed to be a university campus area. This hill brought MOST of the athletes to a walk as they ascended the hill. It was a brutal hill – probably the steepest I’ve run (walked!) that I can recall. The return took us down the hill, which I really enjoyed. I do love running down a hill! Most of my friends seem to disagree, citing quad abuse, but it doesn’t bother me and I love the use of gravity to propel me forward!

Came across Mike Rosenberg on my last loop – he was looking good and I later learned he improved on his 70.3 time!

At my first loop I asked Ted to have a coke for me at the finish line. I’m telling you, there is nothing like the deliciousness of a coke after finishing a race! The carbonation helps with the bloat that develops too. I found myself approaching the finish line … with an uphill climb! But I was bound and determined to make it strong so I plodded forth until I could kick it into the chute. Crossed the line in 7:11 and was happy to get that yummy coke!!  Whew, that was a pretty fun race!
Best coke evah!!!
Overall, I felt pretty good about everything. Things generally went very well! However, I’m not a fan of the split transition.  Just seems to eat up much of the day.  I did feel a bit bummed at not being able to go under 7 hrs. I am definitely a stronger athlete that I was when I tackled my first half last September, but the courses I’m doing are pretty challenging, which is why my times look kind of cruddy. It was pointed out to me that all courses are different so to compare times is about as logical as comparing scores on various golf courses. It would make more sense to compare times on the SAME course, rather than various courses. It might be helpful if they came up with a rating system to rank the difficulty of the courses … but alas, that’s not the case so I just need to accept it. And I do! :)     For more pics, you can visit my album here.