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It Could Go Either Way

September 5, 2012 Fear, Fitness, Fun 2 Comments

We came.
We raced.
We survived. triumphed!

As athletes were milling around the transition area before the race, a guy walked up to me and said, “I feel like this is a cross between Disneyland and The Hunger Games.”  I concurred. In some ways, it was The Happiest Place On Earth ™ because of the positive energy and music and hugging going on. On the other hand, we were all dressed up in our “costumes” and equipped with our “weapons,” ready for battle. There was a calm surrounding us, knowing that we were competing in something that would test our mental and physical strengths to their very limits.

I’ve read enough race reports to know that you can be well-trained, well-rested, well-hydrated, well-everythinged – and STILL have a shitty race. In a 10-17 hour day, there are just so many things that can go wrong. You get to a certain point where all you can do is hope for the best and try to stay positive if something does go wrong.

Admittedly, I didn’t have a lot of confidence going into the race. I had been questioning my training for about six weeks. I didn’t exactly feel rested. I had never swum farther than 1.7 miles in open water, never biked farther than 98 miles in training, and never run farther than 20 miles. There would be a lot of milestones on race day. I knew I would finish, but I didn’t know just how bad it would hurt or just how long it would take.

I estimated I would finish around 14 hours. This was a very realistic goal based on my training times. It was a big number to wrap my head around. Most of my “normal” days were about 15 hours long. I would often think of Race Day on a normal day and consider all of the things I had done that day – worked at my job, completed two workouts, showered, prepared and ate (many) meals, exercised Miles, etc… And all that time, I’d still be out there on the race course. This mental preparation was the most difficult, and probably the most helpful.

I expected a 1:30 swim. I didn’t know how long it would take me to even start actually swimming with that many competitors. I didn’t know how far off-course I’d have to swim to get around the two turn buoys. I hadn’t ever swum that far and didn’t know how slow I would be.

I expected a 7-hour bike. My long rides were averaging 16-17 mph with the wind and climbing; I knew this course would offer up more of the same. I also knew I was not intending to kill myself on the bike, thereby leaving nothing for the marathon that would follow.

I expected a 5-hour marathon. Based on how every other long (70.3) race has gone, I knew I would lose it on the run. I knew I would be walking every aid station and probably more than that.

I expected my transitions to be as long as 10 minutes each. I’m not fast in transition as it is, and this would give me a chance to take in the moment and catch my breath a little if I needed the break.

I saw a homemade sign around Mile 100 of the bike course that said, “May the odds be ever in your favor” – a reference to The Hunger Games. I had to smile. The odds had been in my favor. Unlike so many others, I was having a great race! Many panicked people were hanging onto the kayaks and buoys on the swim. I saw people stopped for flat tires and cramps. Two people crashed their bikes right in front of me because they ran over stray water bottles or CO2 cartridges. I knew the run would bring more carnage, and I hoped that I had hydrated enough to stave it off for myself.

There were several large muscle groups threatening to cramp up in the end of 26.57 miles, but I made it! Every time I crossed a timing mat, I knew that those who were tracking me would be able to see that I was still going strong. I truly did carry your thoughts and well-wishes along with me the whole way.

My finish time was 12:59:58.
Greg finished in an amazing 10:51:57.
Our friend Mike Kidder signed up for the race 8 weeks ago and finished so strong at 12:37:56.


Nonstarter (almost)

August 22, 2012 Fear, Freewheeling No Comments


Greg and I love a road trip even in a “normal” vehicle so we have been looking forward to the 1000-mile trek to Ironman Canada in The Van, perhaps even more than the race itself. (Why? The driving will take ~19 hours and will be done over two days. My race will take ~14 hours and has to be done all in one shot.)

Greg has worked tirelessly getting The Van ready, and most of the work has been done expressly for this trip. It’s our first long over-the-road trip in it and he wanted things to be as comfortable as possible. He thought of so many details and everything came together. Load ‘er up!

We had the bikes mounted last night, the cabinets and fridge full, and our clothes + race gear packed and ready to be loaded first thing this morning. The plan was to be on the road within 30 minutes of waking. Around 10 PM last night, Greg remembered that he needed to add a power supply for his phone in the new mount system. So, electrical engineer that he is, he went to work to quickly take care of this issue. In order to get to the wiring, he had to have the key in the On position and the transmission in Neutral. He completed the task of wiring power to the phone holster and started putting things back together. Done and done. When he went to turn the key off and lock everything up, the situation took a turn for the worse.

The key wouldn’t move. He couldn’t turn the engine over, he couldn’t turn it off. He frantically went to work searching the Sprinter forums, the owner’s manual, the error code reader he installed on his computer. Nothing turned up. He had to disconnect the battery as not to drain it while he continued troubleshooting. He came to bed defeated.

At this point, Greg was convinced that The Van was a DNF for Ironman Canada. He told me to start loading everything into his car — a Honda Element. Ummmm, there’s no way everything we had packed food-wise, clothes-wise, and gear-wise was going to fit in the Element. Add a big dog and it was a laughable thought.

Or it would have been laughable, if it weren’t so devastating.

I refused to believe we were not going to find a solution and be on our merry way. I tried calling my German car mechanic, but couldn’t get in touch with him. I called my dad, but he didn’t have any other suggestions than the ones Greg had already tried. Greg finally got in touch with the “lead tech” on the Sprinter forum he follows and that guy said that it wasn’t some fancy computer switch or anything, so it was probably the tumbler in the lock cylinder. He suggested we try a locksmith.

I was encouraged by this, though Greg kept saying there was no way he could fix anything in time. We’d be better off loading up the other car and going, the sooner the better. Undeterred, I called a local locksmith. He said we’d have to call a mechanic. All the while, Greg was still fiddling with the key in the ignition. Confident in knowing it wasn’t a computer issue, he applied a little elbow grease to the key while poking his needle-nose pliers in to create a little more space.

VOILA! The key came out!

With trepidation, he sprayed WD-40 into the key hole and inserted the key again. He was able to turn it over and turn it off repeatedly. We were back in business! By this time, it was 9:15 AM or so. I hustled to get all of the last minute stuff loaded while Greg took care of his few final chores. We pulled out of the house at 10:25.

I think the lesson learned here, which just became my mantra for Sunday, is DON’T STOP BELIEVING. (Plus, it comes with its own theme song… You’re welcome.)



Sleep Trumps All

August 12, 2012 Fear, Fitness, Fun No Comments

Ironman training is over. We have reached the taper. I made it! Well, I made it to the end of the training period anyway…

I signed up for an Ironman knowing what it would take to train for it and compete to my satisfaction. All of those realizations — and fears — are coming true right now. It’s hard. It requires commitment. I have a training plan and I follow it pretty much to the letter. I’ve dropped a swim workout here and a strength workout there, but I’m 98% compliant.

Here are the things I’ve learned as I move into the final couple of weeks before competing:

The human body is an amazing machine. I ask my body to do really hard things and it does them, even when I don’t want to or think I’m too tired. I have watched and felt my body become stronger and more efficient. While I have not lost or gained any weight along the way, my body does look and feel different. I trust it.

The human mind is stronger than any body will ever be. It will make or break you, so learn to be friends with it. If you tell it nice things, it will respond in kind. “Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re right.” <– Henry Ford was a smart man.

High-end gear is a nice-to-have. The will to do it and belief that you can do it is a must-have. That said, treat whatever gear you have with respect. Know how to change a flat. Clean your chain every now and again. Wash the spilled sports drink off your bike frame and don’t leave your Garmin out in the rain just because it’s waterproof.

Don’t underestimate your support system. Support comes in a lot of forms: a team you train with, your at-home people, friends and coworkers, online buddies, and yourself (in the form of positive self-talk). Figure out who is supportive of you and be up-front with them about what you need. Some days you’ll need a cheerleader. Other days, you will need someone who will listen to you bitch. You’ll always need people who believe in you and, as crazy as this whole thing is, don’t insist on reminding you of that every time you see them.

Few things are more sacred than a solid 8 hours of sleep, more if you can get it. Don’t skimp on your sleep.

The work has been done. Doing any more at this point is counter-productive. I have to believe in my training and believe in myself. Thanks to everyone who has believed in me along the way!

Here we go!



Did/Did Not

July 21, 2012 Fear, Fitness 2 Comments

Things I did today:

Swam 1.7 miles in open water.
Biked 80.5 hilly miles.
Ran/walked 7.15 miles.
Consumed 200 ounces of fluid.
Lost 6.4 pounds in 9 hours.
Revised my estimated finish time at Ironman Canada.

Things I did not do today:

Complete the additional 6 miles that were scheduled.
Puke (though it has been touch-and-go several times even since I got home).
Have fun.


Share The Road

February 26, 2012 Fear, Fitness No Comments

I burned a day’s worth of fear calories this afternoon as Greg and I set off on our long bike ride. We left the house at the same time and headed toward downtown San Mateo. Greg always takes a different route through town, and it’s fun game to see which of us is faster. It largely depends on hitting the traffic lights just right more than anything else.

He got lucky and sailed through one of the lights that takes forever to turn. I was stopped on the other side of the intersection as he made the turn, looking back at me with a big smile that he had “won.” It was then that a Mazda minivan came out of nowhere and directly into his path. I saw the whole thing.

Greg has excellent bike-handling skills and was able to swerve  in order to avoid a more direct hit. He skidded a little bit and caught his balance, though it was clear that the drive had clipped him. The van pulled into a parking spot next to where Greg had gotten off his bike to check the damages. This whole thing happened in 12 seconds. I know this because the pedestrian countdown was ticking away those seconds as I waited for my light to turn green.

This is what happened: the driver of the minivan did a u-turn in the middle of the street (seemingly to snag a parking spot on the opposite side of the street). She didn’t see Greg as she made her turn, as he was coming fast on his bike around the corner. She wasn’t going fast at all, but did turn directly into him.

Greg got very lucky that he was not personally injured. I could see that the car hit his left leg/ankle, based on the way he was wobbling to regain control. He said that it felt like his foot got caught in the front wheel well and he couldn’t get it out for a few seconds. There are a few scuffs on the rear drop-out of the bike. Once he got stopped, he immediately removed the front wheel to test its integrity. Ruined. Greg just got this new tri bike and today’s ride was his second time on it. So disappointing…

Of course, it’s just a piece of equipment and things could have been so much worse. We really dodged a bullet on this one. The driver is trying to say that her light was green (which it wasn’t, because I was waiting at the same light on the other side…) and that doesn’t matter anyway because she made the illegal u-turn before the intersection. Now it’s a matter of whether to fight it or not. The wheel will cost over $300 to replace, not to mention if he has the scratches buffed out on his brand new bike.

The public service announcement to everyone is to WATCH FOR CYCLISTS! This includes motorcycles as well as bicyclists. You don’t have to like us sharing the roads with you, but you do have to respect our right to be there.


This is a stick-up!

February 9, 2012 Fear, Fun 5 Comments

I was minding my own business this afternoon, working busily on a spreadsheet at my desk. (It has been a great first week on the job!) My mobile phone vibrated to indicate an incoming call. It was from a local number, but I didn’t recognize it and didn’t answer. I waited a few minutes and checked the voicemail.

Expecting it to be a wrong number, I wasn’t really listening until she got to the part about being a lieutenant with the DEA and that a package has been confiscated with my information on it. There is a warrant out for my arrest.

I was instantly sweating, racking my brain for some illicit activity that I had forgotten about and was now catching up with me. Nothing. My drug of choice is wine, and that’s legally shipped in/to California… I looked around the office. My coworkers were minding their own business, unaware that I was panicking.

I logged into my personal Gmail account to IM with Greg, letting him know that the house would be ransacked when he got home and I’d be wasting away in a women’s correctional facility. He would be on his own for dinner. He reassured me that everything would be fine and that he’d bail me out if it wasn’t too much money. Har-dee-har-har.

One of my coworkers walked by and I must have given her the deer-in-the-headlights look as she acknowledged me. She asked if everything was okay. (I work with really nice people!) I told her what had transpired and that I was freaking out a little bit. By this time, three other coworkers were at my desk to get in on the action.

Honestly, my biggest concern was that it was a mistake of some sort, but that I’d be dragged into an investigation to clear my good name and all the bullshit and time that would go along with that. This isn’t exactly the best first impression to make with a new employer…

We listened to the voicemail over and over again, surmising it was a scam, but couldn’t find anything with a reverse number lookup. The DEA does not make a courtesy phone call to give you a head start on your way out of the country, right? We finally called the number back using my work phone and then Googled the lieutenant’s name. That’s when all the search results on scam info came up. WHEW!

The episode did add a little excitement to the afternoon. I’m looking at it as a bonding experience with my coworkers. A few others shared their best (worst?) scam stories, and my adrenal glands finally calmed down. Fun times!

Have you ever been scammed? What was the pitch?




February 2, 2012 Fear, Fitness 1 Comment

I did not do today’s workout because I wanted to. It was a beautiful day and I had a nice dog to run with. I woke up and instantly put my running clothes on — ready to go! But that didn’t make it any easier getting myself out the door. In fact, I didn’t actually go on that prescribed run until 2:30 PM. And I was ‘dressed and ready to go’ at 7:30 AM.

As I think about it now, I don’t want to do tomorrow’s workout. It’s a low-mileage speed workout on the bike. The forecast is sunny with high temp of 63*F. Ideal, really.

Of course, I’ll do it.

I do each day’s workout not because I WANT to, but because of what I DON’T WANT: I don’t want to look like an asshole and feel even worse than that on race day.

See you out there tomorrow! And the next day, hey!


At 36

September 28, 2011 Fear, Fun 2 Comments

I am officially the exact same age that Greg was when we met in early November 2003.

The difference between 28 and 36 is not insignificant (and I don’t just mean calendar years). I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be together if we had met at any other time in our lives. And considering we were living 2000 miles apart at the time, there were a lot of invisible hands bringing us together. Also, a few not-so-invisible ones. (Thanks, Kidders!)

Here’s a self-timer picture taken on the weekend we met in-person for the first time.

I feel everything again when I see this picture. All of the anticipation. All of the chemistry.

I burned a lot of fear calories that weekend!

And I fell in love.


Pants = Soiled

September 20, 2011 Fear, Fitness 12 Comments

Consider my pants soiled. For the next 11 months or so.

P.S. Greg’s doing it, too!


My Body is Revolting

August 31, 2011 Fear, Fun 1 Comment

I just love a good double entendre, don’t you?

The real point I am trying to get across is that it feels like my body is working against me. I’m becoming paranoid about it, either because I can’t explain what’s going on or I don’t want to accept the explanations that are plausible. The evidence:

Last week, I had four zits on my face at one time. FOUR ZITS. I can’t remember a time when this ever happened, even during adolescence.

During the same time, I developed a canker sore in my mouth.

I also developed a stye-like sore on my left eye… except it was on the upper lid. It hasn’t gone away. It doesn’t hurt like a stye hurts anymore (it did in the beginning), but now it’s just a red bump on my eyelid.

It’s the off-season and I have been eating less (including consciously eating fewer carbs) to offset the reduced exercise with the intention of maintaining a reasonable level of “feeling good” about my body, how I look, and how clothes fit. On the contrary, it’s as though I am the new mascot for Stay-Puft.

I get weird pains in my back or arms or legs seemingly for no reason. I’ll be sitting there doing nothing (riding as a passenger in the car, for instance), and there will be a burning/pinching/stinging sensation somewhere that eventually goes away on its own as randomly as it came.

My fingertips also go numb at random times during the day. My fingers and toes will do this when I’m cold due to Raynaud’s Syndrome, but the randomness of why it’s happening now is somewhat troubling.

The obvious conclusion for a lot of these symptoms falls under HORMONES, right? But it isn’t/shouldn’t be that time of the month. Maybe that’s another “symptom…” I have the Mirena IUD (which I love love love) and I haven’t had a real period in four years. But I do still cycle and I know when I’m having PMS symptoms. JUST ASK MY HUSBAND. The things that are happening now are not coinciding with that cycle. Please tell me it’s not perimenopause. I’m only 36 years old! Technically, I suppose I fall within the normal range for this to be an explanation, but I really hope it’s not.

Perhaps it’s just the calm after the storm from my last race and Argus dying? My body isn’t jacked up on adrenaline and endorphins and other forms of distress/eustress and is manifesting all the shit that was lurking beneath the surface.

I don’t know. It’s frustrating, that’s for sure. I have my Well Woman Exam (the first one in three years) scheduled for tomorrow, and I’m actually looking forward to it for the first time in my life. Not the actual exam part… but the consultation. I just want her to tell me I’m healthy.

I don’t want to alienate any male readers I may have out there (are you there boys??), so let’s just assume that no news is good news on this one. I won’t belabor this female stuff if there isn’t good cause for it. Okay? If any of you gals can provide insight, I’d love to hear it!