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Ironman Canada – BIKE

September 16, 2012 Fitness, Friends, Fun No Comments

The day was far from over! If you’re just joining us, my story picks up as I exit Lake Okanagan after finishing my Ironman Canada SWIM.

I entered the Transition Area with a lot of confidence, ready to take on the bike leg. I was already ahead of the game from where I expected to be and that put a little extra spring in my step. I didn’t even have my wetsuit down to my waist when I got to the Wetsuit Strippers (<– great job title). They ripped that sucker off of me as other volunteers were grabbing my stuff from the Sea O’ Bags.

I had my bag waiting for me by the time I was back on my feet. I opted not to go into the tent (not knowing if it would be a madhouse) and completed my transition just outside. I could also see more of what was going on this way and continue to take it all in.

I’m not fast in transition and I don’t necessarily care about it during a long race (70.3+). Especially on this day, I wanted to enjoy what I was doing and make sure I didn’t forget anything critical just for the sake of moving fast. I expected my transitions to be 10 minutes or so, just leaving time to have a minor meltdown. I quickly put on a thick dose of facial sunscreen, my helmet, sunglasses, and gloves. I had also packed and donned a second pair of tri shorts to give that extra padding that I knew I’d want and need. I downed a 5-Hour Energy and ripped open a single-serve packet of Chamois Butt’r, squeezed it into my hand, and did the ladylike thing of jamming that hand down to my pants to apply it liberally. So glad I did!

Official T1 time = 5:04
Greg’s T1 time = 5:21
Kidder’s T1 time = 13:59

I left the transition area on top of the world. I had a great swim, a great transition, and I knew I had what I needed for a great ride — food, fresh-ish legs, and a good attitude. Just after getting on my bike and pedaling, I heard part of my support crew yelling my name (the other part was busy taking these photos!). I already had a big smile on my face and it was great to see and hear my friends heading into the longest part of the day.

I was on my way! And I love seeing that genuine smile on my face! Looking back now, I can tell you with total honesty that this 112-mile bike ride did not totally suck the life out of me like I thought it would. My training rides were REALLY sucking and I was scared. My shoulders/neck would be so pinched by ~40 miles that I’d involuntarily cry in pain to look over my shoulder for traffic. I was dehydrated, despite stopping at every known water fountain and/or convenience store for refills. You can imagine my anxiety going into this race because of issues like that.

Couple that with the doubt I had going into the taper about not being well-trained, as is often the case with the “taper crazies.” As it turns out, I am very satisfied with the training I did. I came to dread weekends because Greg and I purposely chose long and brutal routes. We’re talking 6500-7000 ft of elevation gain over ~80-90 miles, with a massive headwind for at least half of it. That punishment paid off. As miserable as I was every Sunday leading up to this one, I felt awesome on August 26.

Based on how my training rides had gone, I expected to finish in 7 hours or just over that. That pace is slower than my usual (shorter) race paces, but not slower than my long training rides had been. I had to “shift my paradigm” on the whole matter and get comfortable with a slower pace that would accommodate the situation.

It was ~40 miles until the first climb (Richter Pass), and much of that was on a flat road with a tailwind. What’s not to love? That section travels alongside three beautiful lakes, and then we wound around into the orchards and vineyards. It felt very much like California, and the people certainly made us feel at home as well. I couldn’t believe the number of spectators along the entire bike course.

My average speed going into Richter Pass was 20.6 mph. I knew I’d had the benefit of a tailwind, but I was using it to my advantage. I never let my heart rate get above 145. I was saving my legs. I was enjoying myself.

Everyone had to wear our race bibs on our backs during the bike ride; our names were written on them. I thought it was a good thing because you could let someone specifically know you were coming around them — “John, I’m on your left!“. And you could get to know the people you were riding with most of the way. I was happy to make friends with people, specifically one guy from Colorado named Tory. We’d play cat-and-mouse, chatting when we were riding at the same pace. Having trained largely by myself, it was so great to just converse with someone for a mile at a time. This was his first Ironman also, and we were comparing notes on training and such. On Richter Pass, I talked with a woman named Fiona who had a small sign on the back of her bike indicating she was a Bride-To-Be with a wedding date of August 28. One guy crashed about 100 yards in front of me, rolling over a CO2 cartridge or a water bottle. It was intense in those few seconds to see a bike and cyclist on the ground with 10-15 other cyclists trying to make way for him at the same time.

See that blue mark across Greg’s bib? He got a penalty! Drafting is illegal on the bike and there are several rules about what that means and how to handle it when you are passing someone or being passed. A rider started to pass Greg and was having trouble getting around him. The rules state that Greg had to drop back and allow the other rider to overtake him. He did this, and continued riding at his constant speed. The rider that had just passed him slowed down enough that Greg could easily pass him back. So, he came around the other rider and the officials on a motorcycle monitoring this sort of thing came by and gave him the penalty. You can imagine how pissed he was! He had to sit in a penalty tent for four minutes. No water/food/bathrooms there. Just idle time. His average speed going into the penalty tent was 25 mph and it dropped to less than 24 by the time he was allowed back on his bike. The four minute penalty cost him 8 places in his overall finish. Yeah, pissed.

Let’s talk about bodily functions for a minute. I needed to pee starting around Mile 30 on the bike. I peed twice while swimming with no problem. I tried and tried and tried peeing on the bike, with no success. I need to be able to relax enough (meaning no pedaling) to do it, so I thought I’d be golden (<– see what I did there?) on the descent from Richter Pass, but I couldn’t do it. SO FRUSTRATING.

I saw my new friend Tory again on this stretch of road, who had been successful in peeing on the Richter descent. Bastard! I caught up to Kidder at Mile 65 and it was nice to ride with him for awhile, and that’s where I learned about his less-than-stellar swim experience and the trouble he had in transition. We rode back and forth together (to not get called for drafting/aiding). The Cawston out-and-back was the worst part of the ride for me — other than seeing Greg on his way out and Caryn on my way out. I knew it was the course directors’ way of adding distance. I knew it was where the Special Needs bags were. And I knew it was where I’d have to stop to pee. As in, get off the bike. Along with the Special Needs bags, there were several porta-potties. By this time, my kidneys were aching and my bladder was sloshing so much I was afraid of a UTI or other infection. Time to take care of business. While in the stall, I ate the rest of my sandwich and swallowed a few more salt pills with a full bottle of fresh water so I didn’t feel like it was totally “wasted time.”

Back on the bike, I felt somewhat refreshed and ready to take on the most challenging climb of the day: Yellow Lake Road. Richter Pass is a long, slow climb — about 7 miles all told. You just get in a gear you can handle and grind it out. The road snakes along the outside of a mountain pass, so you can look down at the valley below and marvel at your awesome strength to climb this behemoth.  Yellow Lake is a little different. It’s shorter and steeper, especially at the end. Melanie and the boys were spectating there, and we were going slow enough that they could see us and we could exchange a hello. That was nice! After one steep climb, the road flattens out a bit and then pitches up again for a very steep finish at the top. You just have to remind yourself that it’s all downhill into the finish from there.

Yep, all downhill from there. Except remember that tailwind we all enjoyed for those first 40 miles? That meant a nasty headwind for the last 20 miles. As much as I couldn’t really imagine the idea of running a marathon next, I wanted to be off the bike. My shoulders were pinching. My lower back hurt. This position was not relaxing anymore.

We got back into Penticton and were meeting the runners on their way out of town. The crowds were thick and there was a lot of excitement in the air. This made it easier to forget how tired I was and what lay ahead of me. I was on the lookout for my friends and was thrilled to hear them cheering for me! I was also thrilled as I looked down to see that I was going to finish more than 30 minutes faster than I had intended. Just like in the swim, this gave me tremendous confidence going into the marathon.

Official bike time = 6:26:43
Greg’s bike time = 5:29:07
Mike’s bike time = 6:45:31

Finish this race with the RUN recap.


Ironman Canada – SWIM

September 12, 2012 Fitness, Friends, Fun 3 Comments

Let me fill in the details of Ironman Canada, beginning with the swim.

More than 2700 athletes lined up on the shores of Lake Okanagan to begin an epic day. Greg and I got there just as O Canada! was being sung, about 3 minutes before the horn went off at 7 AM. We arrived at the race site later than intended (what else is new?) and were both still in line for the bathroom when the pros started at 6:45 AM. Nothing quells those jitters like being late for the biggest race of your life…

There was no time to get in the water to warm up or test the goggles. This was it! Hug, kiss, “See you in 14 hours!”

I'm the one in the pink cap on the far left...

My swim plan was to stay on Greg’s feet as long as possible. If there’s one thing I can do well (relative to Greg), it’s swim. My swim times have rivaled his, so we’re well-matched in the water. Like every other athlete out there, I wanted the benefit of drafting. We had practiced this just once before race day, during our practice swim on Friday. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, Greg went out like a bullet and I was breathing WAY TOO HARD for a 2.4 mile swim within 100 yards of the shore (as I found out later, so was he). Not exactly the shore — it’s literally a rocky swim start. So everyone kind of hobbles into the water for several yards before it’s deep enough to get down and swim.

I lost Greg and was on my own. Sighting was easy because we were swimming away from the sunrise. The course measures 1800 meters out to the first turn buoy, a short distance to the next turn buoy, and 1800 meters back. I have my Garmin set to beep at me every 10 minutes and every 1 mile. I was thrilled when it trilled at me indicating I’d swum a mile. I checked my Timex watch (tracking overall time) — 26.34!! Faster than my fastest mile EVER! This gave me confidence.

I rounded the first turn buoy, spotting the SCUBA divers below with their GoPro cameras! I waved! It was then that the gravy train pulled into my station.

I happened upon a girl who had a super strong kick and I latched onto her. It was amazing. She was probably just a little bit faster than I would normally be, sighting well, and easy to follow because of all the bubbles. I gladly let her tow me around that lake for the final ~1.5 miles.

Regarding the mass swim start and being “beaten up” because of so many bodies: I was very concerned about this. I anticipated a 1:30 swim because of how my open water swims were going, and knowing it would be worse with all of the jostling. It was not nearly as bad as I expected. There were a few minutes-long sections where I was swimming in a crowd of people and it was uncomfortable, but there were also long sections of clean, open water where I was by myself. No one was overtly rude, kicking to make a point or purposely swimming over the top of me and pushing me under. In fact, the only times I had to get a little aggressive was when someone tried to get in between me and the girl who was pulling me along. Ha!

My Garmin beeped again at 2 miles — 52 minutes. I was holding a steady pace! I held on to my sherpa as long as I could and marveled that I was not totally out of breath (as I had been in many training swims). I wasn’t killing myself to move through the water. I wasn’t sighting straight into the sun. This swim felt effortless and I was truly having fun! Similar to Wildflower, I knew this would be the easiest part of the day and I was glad that I was enjoying it. I thought about Greg, wondering if he was having as much good fortune as I was. I also thought about Kidder, who is a phenomenal swimmer (easily able to swim 2.4 miles in under 1 hour), and wondered if/when I’d be able to catch him on the bike.

I got to the last buoy and saw many people standing up, hobbling over the rocks to the shore. I knew right then I was taking a different approach to the finish. I swam over all those rocks until I reached the sand and stood right up. What the heck was wrong with those people?? I checked my Garmin and was thrilled to see 1:14:16 (though I saw the timing mat was still painfully far away). I also noticed that my total distance swum measured 2.7 miles. What the  ?! I know that Garmin data isn’t *totally* accurate, but it did make me wonder what my swim time would have been if I hadn’t over-shot it by 0.3 miles…

Even so, I was very happy coming out of the water. Completing the swim in 15 fewer minutes than I anticipated gave me confidence. Not feeling exhausted or beaten up gave me such a positive attitude heading into T1 and the bike. The day was off to a great start!

Official swim time = 1:14:29
Greg’s swim time = 1:10:02
Kidder’s swim time = 1:00:15

Turns out, Kidder had a horrible swim. The strap on his goggles BROKE THREE TIMES! Talk about bad luck! He was literally stopped, treading water while fixing them as all the other fish passed him by. Still, he was able to narrowly miss the one-hour mark — good enough for 8th in his division and 102nd overall.

You can read my BIKE recap here!


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.



September 3, 2012 Favorites, Fitness, Fun 1 Comment

My gratitude to Jeff Barker for this video. His enthusiasm embodies all of the love and support I felt from everyone that day.

I can’t not cry when I watch this.

YouTube Preview Image

More stories to come, I promise.


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!



It’s All Relative

August 9, 2012 Fitness No Comments

I can run 20 miles. Yeah, that number kind of shocks me, too. I went out to Sawyer Camp Trail two weeks ago for a long run and let my mind wander as my feet plodded forward. I purposely don’t run with music; it’s a good chance to stay in tune with what my body is telling me. For these long runs, I set my Garmin to a screen that only shows my heart rate and I just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I know that’s how it will be at Ironman, so I’m not getting attached to a pace or a time or anything other than how I feel. “Active meditation,” if you will.

As I got to the 2.5 mile marker, I looked at it and remembered it used to be a milestone for me. It was halfway to five miles. FIVE WHOLE MILES. That *used* to be a long run for me! I remember the sense of accomplishment I felt after running five miles. How hard it was, how good it felt to have done it. And I remember feeling that way after every milestone after that — 6 miles, 7 miles … double digits!

In the scheme of 20 miles, 2.5 is nothing at this stage of the Ironman training game. The stiffness has been worked out and yet things don’t really hurt yet. I don’t need food. It’s long division if I’m doing fractions in my head (“I’m 1/8th of the way done. Just do that same thing 7 more times and it’s over.”). On the one hand, it’s hardly worth noticing. On the other, it is a badge of honor for every mile I have put in since then. For every time I have passed that 2.5 mile marker and kept going.

Further Proof

This relativity has been a fun and interesting thing to contemplate during my training because it’s all relative. Sure, I can swim a couple of miles at one time and ride 100 miles and run 20… But that’s all at a pace meant for long distance.

This past weekend, we had to do a “Tempo Brick” that consisted of a 30 minute run at 5K pace (fast), a 45 minute bike ride at lactate threshold (hard), and finish with a 20 minute run at aerobic threshold (less hard). Considering the prior weekends’ workout plans, this one looked easy! In fact, it looked so easy I didn’t take it seriously. Big mistake.

Oh, I did the workout to the letter. I pushed as hard as I could with the idea that “I can do anything for 30/45/20 minutes.” That statement is true: I can and I did. But it hurt worse than a lot of my long workouts have hurt. I thought that all my sprint interval workouts would make me invincible for short distance events. I know now that that isn’t what they were designed to do. They were designed to make my body work more efficiently over long distances. I stand, quite winded, corrected.

This was a very good and effective training day mentally and physically. I absolutely respect the short workouts more than I did before. Shorter distance doesn’t mean less hard.

Everything is relative.


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.


The Great Rash of 2012

June 24, 2012 Fitness 2 Comments

I worked a trade show in Milwaukee a few weeks ago and I came home with more than just an appreciation for all things Bead&Button and tired feet.

I kept up with my workouts while I was there and saw I was getting a spot or two consistent with heat rash. No big deal, just a red spot where my sports bra rubs. It wasn’t alarming. In fact, you’d kind of expect it. It’s summer in the Midwest, after all. That means hot and humid outdoor runs.

And scenic outdoor runs! I had no idea how pretty Milwaukee is!

On the day I flew home from Milwaukee, I got in at noon and the training plan called for a 90-mile bike ride + a 13-mile run. We could run the 13 miles early on Monday morning if it wasn’t possible to fit it all in on Sunday. Uh, yeah. There was no way I’d be able to pull a 7-hour workout day after a week of long days, late nights, and an early-morning flight.

I did a 72-mile ride on Sunday and called it a day, and then got up on Monday morning to complete the 13 mile run before work. It hurt, every mile of it, but it also felt good. As the week progressed, I caught up on my sleep and kept up with my workouts. The rash spots that had surfaced in Milwaukee weren’t going away, despite my use of antihistamines and exfoliation products. In fact, the rash was spreading. Rampantly.

Within a week, I went from this:


To this:

Complete outbreak, getting worse every day. I have no idea what caused this. Continuing to wear sports bras and spandex shorts certainly was not helping things, but a girl’s gotta train, right? I had not changed soaps, lotions, detergents, clothes/fabrics, or medications. I was taking Benadryl at night, which would put me to sleep for a couple of hours, but not help with the itching. I was slathering my most sensitive parts with Gold Bond Medicated Lotion day and night. I was wearing clothes that did not require a bra or underwear when possible.

Greg shudders and averts his eyes when I lift my shirt or drop my pants to show him.

I finally broke down and made an appointment with a doctor last Monday. She was not very helpful about explaining what it is — I had to ask for the diagnosis after she prescribed a bunch of meds. She said it is not a heat rash, and likely never was. It’s a dermatitis, which is the most generic explanation ever. She gave me a very strong dose of prednisone and Claritin and sent me away.

I have been taking the meds as prescribed, which are not helping. Nights continue to be the worst. I fall asleep from about 10 PM until midnight, then I wake up digging at myself and slather on more IcyHot-like lotions (Gold Bond, Sarna) to soothe the itching. This happens every hour or two until my alarm goes off at 5:50 AM. More workouts. More pills popped. More lotions. More loose-fitting clothes.

I tried to make an appointment with a dermatologist on Friday, but the one that came highly recommended to me was out of the office for the day. I think I *may* have turned the corner on the rash no longer spreading. I bought this stuff called Domeboro and used it as a compress last night before bed. I think it helped calm things down, as I didn’t wake up as often or as uncomfortable.

It hasn’t been a fun couple of weeks with the rash, compounded by chafing from my bike shorts and long rides, compounded by unrestful sleep. As we head into the next long Build period of training, I am ready to put this behind me!


The Elusive Podium

June 4, 2012 Fitness, Fun No Comments

Maybe The Elusive F-Spot is actually the P-Spot. THE PODIUM. Because I have come close to making it a few times now, yet it always eludes me.


It’s a good problem to have, I guess.  Making it into the top 5 athletes, even at a small(er) event, takes a little effort… So you can imagine that I was thrilled we screwed around long enough after the race to check the results as they were being released. I couldn’t find my name anywhere, until I looked at the Age Group Winners page and saw my name in the #4 slot. Yippeeeeee!!!

I didn’t even know what my final time was, so it was a real shock when it said 2:41. But let me back up…

I mentioned in my race goals that we were going to head to the race site and camp. We ended up not doing that. I got myself ready, but Greg couldn’t get himself organized and make it worth it to be down there. We went to bed early with the van packed and a very clear plan of what needed to happen on Sunday morning. The alarm went off at 5:17 and we were on the road by 5:30. I am certain this is a new record for us. We arrived at Uvas Reservoir at 6:40; our races started at 8:07 and 8:15.

We opted to do packet pick-up the morning of the race and that was the right call (rather than wasting more than an hour driving to Sunnyvale on Saturday afternoon). It was a small enough event that it was easy to get parking and do all of the body/equipment marking in enough time. The transition area was first come, first served and we found spots close to each other as we applied Body Glide and sunscreen before putting our wetsuits on.

As we were making our final preparations to head to the swim start, Greg realized that he had FORGOTTEN HIS GOGGLES! So, he hopped on his bike and rode the ~1/2 mile up the road to where the van was parked and made it back in plenty of time… But that’s kind of a panicky moment (especially when you wonder what else you’ve forgotten that you won’t realize until it’s too late).

The water was warm (69* F) and calm. It was an in-water start and we swam from one entry point out to a buoy on the far side and then back to the boat ramp on the other side of the land mass. The land mass was the transition area. Let me assist with a visual of this…

The swim was fine. It was green murky water, but that doesn’t bother me and there were no panicky moments. I easily found an open “lane” and just kept swimming. I swim with my Garmin tucked into my swim cap and it works flawlessly. I have the device set to beep at me after 10 minutes so that I have some idea of how things are going. I am not very good at gauging my effort level/time/pace while I’m swimming, so I really become conditioned to hearing that beep to have an idea of how far I’ve gone. When I made it all the way out to the far buoy, I was thinking that I was either swimming like a professional or I had mistakenly hit the Lap button on my Garmin instead of the Start button.

When the beeping still didn’t happen, I knew I wasn’t tracking my data. Which is bad. I’m kind of addicted to the data. I knew I was swimming in a very straight line and sighting the buoys well. If I was going fast at all, this could be a really great swim for me. I had no way of knowing… I did know that I was passing men who had started 3 groups (12 minutes) in front of me, which is always a good sign. As predicted, I stood on the boat ramp and pulled my Garmin out of my swim cap to see it flashing all 00:00:00 at me. Dammit!

Official time: 28:43. Not my best, but not my worst. I must need to work harder in the water. As straight as I was going and not being winded, I’m kinda disappointed that this wasn’t better.

I had a pretty quick transition at 2:09, considering I got to my bike and the athletes (ahem, MEN) who were on either side of me had knocked my helmet and sunglasses off my handlebars and I had to search around for them in the rush. No worries. Transition areas are always tight quarters.

It was a nice bike ride with rolling terrain, not much car traffic, and a couple of short but decent climbs. The descents on these climbs were pretty technical and I was glad to not be around other cyclists for either of them. Greg said he saw a rider down (crashed) on one of them, and I saw a guy running who had visibly crashed on his bike.

Even though I didn’t feel hungry or thirsty, I kept to my nutrition/hydration plan according to schedule. I drank ~1.5 bottles and ate an almond butter-filled date at 30 minutes and 60 minutes on the bike. I also kept my heart rate within range and didn’t go balls-out, even though there was the opportunity to do so on many of the flats. Even so, my average pace was good and I knew I’d finish ahead of where I thought I would. My average speed was 18.5 mph and I finished in 1:18. Even though I didn’t know my swim time, I knew I had bought myself a little time on finishing the bike early and went into the run with confidence.

Nothing to report here. It was pretty quick in and out — 1:26.

The bike course went out on the same trajectory as the run course, so I was paying attention to the terrain. There were a couple of rollers near the turnaround, but I knew it would be a cinch compared to Wildflower. I had done calculations in my head to finish under 3 hours with a 9:00 minute/mile pace on the run. Again, working to fulfill my race plan, I set my Garmin to ONLY show me my heart rate and I did not worry about pace/speed/distance until the turnaround. When I got there and clicked over to the other screen, I was pleasantly surprised to see my average pace was 8:16. I wasn’t fatigued! I still had fire in my legs! In all of the races I’ve done, I have NEVER felt like that. Hooray for a plan!

I did pick up my pace on the return 5K, but again kept my Garmin set to my HR only and kept it above lactate threshold without going crazy. A gal that had passed me within 500 yards of starting the run was coming into view and I knew I’d pass her. I got to the 5-mile marker and picked it up a little more. I couldn’t believe I still had a “sprint” in me! I saw Greg with Miles about a half mile out, just as I passed that gal. I finished strong and felt good in 50:29 (8:07 pace), though I still had no idea what my overall time was.

This race was pretty awesome in that the post-race food included Pizza My Heart along with fruit that was fresh-picked just up the road from the race site. It was really low-key and there were lots of dogs and kids around, everyone enjoying the beautiful weather. We took Miles down to the swim start to play around in the water. He loves swimming and we make it a fun game of racing him to the ball or stick that the other person has thrown. He seems to understand the idea of racing and that’s kinda fun, too…

We decided to pack it up after one last slice of pizza and I said I wanted to stop by the Results table to see how my swim had gone and what my final time was. Again, I was delighted to see that I was #4 in my age group! Unfortunately, the podium only has three spots so I was out of a bottle of wine and some other winner goodies again this time. And when we got home, my position had slipped to #5. I don’t know how or why, but I guess I’m still glad to be in the top 5 (out of 25 participants). It does seem somewhat fishy that the winner in my age group finished a 25-mile ride in 53 minutes (faster than the fastest man and overall winner) and her T2 time was 0:16… But whatever.

Greg came in 6th out of 47 participants with an overall time of 2:23.

We then trekked out to the coast and made a leisurely trip home, stopping at our favorite watering holes for a drink and a snack. It was a great afternoon! At 60 pounds, Miles still believes he’s a lap dog and chooses to nap on my lap. Sweet boy!

And it turns out I was right — racing an Olympic distance event is just so doable. It was a lot of fun and a feeling of accomplishment all at the same time.


Reservoir Triathlon – Race Goals

June 2, 2012 Fitness No Comments

I have a race tomorrow. Crazy, huh? As I sit here sipping a glass of wine on this very windy afternoon, I’m in disbelief myself. I guess the up-side to this whole Ironman behemonth is that I am being desensitized to the anxiety that goes along with racing…

The training plan that Greg and I are following calls for an Olympic Distance triathlon this weekend. There just-so-happens to be an event happening about an hour south of here that we signed up for — the Reservoir Triathlon in Morgan Hill. Since I started racing at the Half Ironman distance three years ago, it has been fun for me to walk around saying, “I can’t wait to go back to shorter distances. The Olympic distance is just so doable. I mean, it’s less than three hours of suffering on race day and the training doesn’t affect your entire life.” We’ll see how much of that is true tomorrow. The obvious difference between a sprint or Olympic distance race is that you are pushing your very hardest the entire time, whereas the longer events require you to pace yourself.

It has been an enjoyable week of shorter workouts, culminating with a pre-race brick this morning. We had to bike 30 minutes with four 60-second sprints mixed in, then run 15 minutes with three 60-second sprints. My workout went quite well, and it was a beautiful day to be out there. The fog was still rolling over the mountain at 10 AM — I was glad we were not climbing Skyline today!

Greg just informed me that his plan has been to drive the van down to Morgan Hill and sleep there tonight so we won’t have to get up sooo early in the morning. That was news to me! I’m going into high gear to get everything packed and ready to go.

As for goals, the training plan says to practice transitions and mental aspects of racing while keeping my my effort level (measured by heart rate) at my lactate threshold until the last 5K of the run, where I will pick it up through the finish. So I guess that’s my goal, right? Ideally, I’d like to do that as well as these couple of things:

  1. Execute my nutrition and hydration. My plan is to carry 2 water bottles on the bike (one on the aero bars, one on the down tube) and not stop at the aid stations. I’ll eat breakfast as usual, take a 5-Hour Energy before starting the swim, and have 1-2 peanut butter-filled dates on the bike. I should not need nutrition on the run, but I’ve got Clif Shot Bloks in my race belt just in case. I will not carry water on the run.
  2. Finish under 3 hours. The course looks to be fairly flat and fast, so hopefully I’ll be able to pull this off. I can finish the hilly Wildflower course under 3 hours, so that’s my benchmark. Today’s training brick incorporated those sprints, which did increase my average pace and I may try to test this approach tomorrow.
  3. Have fun! I think this will mostly come in the form of, “At least it’s only 6.2 miles of running and not 26.2!”

Back tomorrow with results!