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Wildflower Long Course 2013

May 23, 2013 Family, Fitness 3 Comments

The Wildflower Long Course triathlon happened nearly two weeks ago. I think I’m still in denial and still trying to forgive myself for signing up again. The aftertaste that lingers in my mouth is quite bittersweet. I don’t have a lot of pictures to share and I’ll keep this brief.

SWIM: 1.2 miles = 38:09 (2012 = 33:02)
As well as my swimming had been going in the pool, my  one open water swim prior to the race proved to be slower than expected. I wanted to be optimistic going into this, but chose to be realistic. When I was sighting every ~10th breath or so and the buoys kept moving farther away, I knew I was right to be realistic.

I did try to stay “in the moment” during the swim and remind myself that this would be the most pleasant part of my day. I was in cold water, which was a welcome environment compared to the 95 degree day we all endured.

BIKE: 56 miles = 3:24:49 (2012 = 3:14)
Last year, it seemed like the bike was “no big deal.” It was harder this year. That’s either a function of me being less trained, the heat, or a combination of both.

I was again surprised at how hard the Mile 2 climb was, and saw many people walking it. My left foot started charlie-horsing at Mile 7 of the bike and finally let up around Mile 20. Right then, I knew it was a whole new ball game. As hot as it was, I told myself to drink at least two bottles of water between every aid station (which were ~45 mins apart). I did this and more, and still had no urge to pee at any point. I had no Nuun or salt tablets with me.

By the time I got to Nasty Grade (Mile 40), I was done. I wanted to quit. By the time I finished Nasty Grade, I had talked myself out of running. Seriously. I had nothing to prove — I had already done this course and had done a full Ironman. No need to prolong the misery. Right? RIGHT???

As I was riding back into the festival area, I was looking for Greg on the run course. There’s a spot where the runners travel on a trail that is adjacent to the road. Miracle of miracles, I saw him! I hollered, “G!!!! I haaaaate this!” He saw me and hollered back, “You look great, baby! I hate it, too!” He said that the runners near him laughed at our exchange, everyone hating ourselves for doing this. It was so good to see him; he was running and looked so strong.

There were only a couple of miles left back into the transition area and I thought about what I would do. If there was one aspect of training that I had actually focused on, it was the running. I had not focused on speed. I had focused solely on running hills. For the last ~30 miles, I had been talking myself out of and back into doing the run. I really really really just wanted to be done.

I thought of what I would say to Greg and Kidder, to our friends we were camping with, to YOU GUYS who read this blog. “Yeah, I quit. I just didn’t want to do it, so I didn’t even try.” That didn’t feel very good.

I pulled into the transition area and had a Really Big Decision to make: to run or not to run.

I am not a quitter. I would run.

RUN: 2:27:24 (2012 = 2:18:06)
I left the transition area with all kinds of caveats:

If I puke, I can stop.
If I cramp, I can stop.
If the apocalypse happens, I can stop.

I wanted any/all of these things to happen. I don’t pray, so I was employing every other possible tactic to give me a reason that I could forfeit (read: not quit). Last year, I walked within the first mile and adopted a run 3 minutes/walk 30 seconds plan (that did not work). This year, I RAN the first four miles. This was a huge mental boost for me!

Mile 4 is the Death March that everyone walks. It truly isn’t worth it to run it. I got to the top at Mile 5 and started running again. There had been ambulances all over the bike course and now there were rescue crews in the trails. I’m sure the heat was taking its toll and people were succumbing to heat exhaustion and dehydration.

At every aid station, I kept repeating all of the above caveats, assessing my physical self all the while. Do I feel like puking? Am I cramping? Do I see Jesus? The answer to all of these was no. Keep going…

At Mile 7 or so, there was Team Bourbon & Bacon. They were serving both. It was 95 degrees and they were frying bacon in a frying pan on a grill on one side of the trail while a teammate was holding a bottle of bourbon on the other side. I thought to myself,

“If I take a shot of bourbon, I’ll probably puke. Then I can be done.”

But alas, I was still running at this point. You might call it shuffling… but not walking. Not cramping. Not barfing. I kindly declined their offer and kept going. The next “out” was at Mile 8. Our camp was right on the other side of those bathrooms, you see. I could retire to The Van

But I was still running/shuffling. Someone was offering Coke and Twizzlers. I had both. They were delicious and sugary; I kept running. The nice lady at Mile 8.75 had orange wedges. They tasted like heaven and I thanked her profusely, as I did last year.

Another decision point that I had been contemplating came at Mile 9. I could choose to do the mentally torturous out-and-back from Mile 9-11…or I could just go back now. This becomes Mile 11. I could just be done in 2 miles. Now. Just be done. Now. But… I’d made it this far. I couldn’t QUIT now. I wasn’t cramping. I wasn’t barfing. I must keep going. What would I tell the people? How would I feel about myself? I trudged along. Walked the hills, ran the downhills and flats. I saw stars when I was “running,” knowing that it was going to be a real race to the end to not black out.

As usual, our friends were at the top of the hill at Mile 12. Martz offered me a margarita shot. I wanted to partake and laugh, but I had been near tears since Mile 10 and had no extra moisture to spare, so I took a shot of apple juice instead. I hoped I would not lose it on the mile to the finish.

FINAL: 6:44:44  (2012 = 6:15:20)

I’m really proud of myself for finishing. I had talked myself out of even starting the run halfway through the bike. That said, I’m really dejected because I actually ran more of this race than I did last year. I walked far more of the course last year, and last year’s split was faster (my average pace was almost 1 minute/mile faster last year).

I know the heat was a factor. I remarked in last year’s race report that it was 81 degrees. It was 95 degrees this year, and that absolutely makes a difference. I peed at 7:30 AM and not again until 11:30 PM — after over 400 ounces of non-alcoholic fluids taken in.

Within seconds of sitting down after finishing, every muscle in my lower body started cramping — quads, hamstrings, calves, feet. Greg got me a Nuun drink and I tried to keep moving. Putting my legs in the cold water before picking everything up from the transition area helped.

As at Ironman Canada, the Kidder family was so wonderful in spectating and keeping Miles (14-YO Kyle Kidder did the Sprint Course!). It was so delightful to finish and see so many familiar faces. All of us dreaded making the famed trip back up the hill to our campsite.

After a couple of V8s, some chocolate milk, and a lukewarm shower, I finally enjoyed a glass of well-earned wine. Let the fun really begin!

 

 

 

70.3 in 11 Days

April 23, 2013 Fitness 1 Comment

I have my *A Race* in 11 days and I haven’t talked a bit about my training all Spring. You’re welcome and/or I’m sorry. 

So, Wildflower 70.3. Let’s break this down:

The outlook was pretty poor from the start. My knees were the main culprit, creaking all the time and causing pain doing simple things like standing up  from a seated position and descending stairs. Things were really looking bad as I considered running a ridiculously difficult half marathon after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56 hilly miles. But my magical chiropractor evaluated me and said that it’s the scar tissue in my calves that is causing the issue. He gave me some homework that I have been good about and things are going much better. I did have a literal run-in with Miles’ 85-pound girlfriend Lola — straight to the side of my left knee — and that has me a bit concerned. I went to yoga over the weekend and it was sore in Warriors 1 and 2, but it was fine on my long run after that. I will keep icing everything and hope for the best on race day.

My swimming is going well. I am in the pool at least twice a week and everything there feels very consistent and good. I have to remind myself to focus on my form (rather than figuring out what I’m going to wear to work, for instance) and that helps my interval times tremendously. Go figure. I expect the swim will be my best event at the race. Update: my goggles and Ironman swim cap were never recovered. Karma’s a bitch, people. Watch out. Miles and I went for an open water swim on Friday to cool off and I went on my first real swim in the Bay yesterday. It wasn’t as fast as I maybe would have liked, but it wasn’t a disaster.

Cycling is what it is. And by that, I mean I don’t care. I’m just not driven this time around. I bike three times a week, two shorter mid-week rides and one long weekend ride. I force myself into incorporating punishment like hills and sprints. I know I will be glad I did when the time comes, but I’m not enjoying the process. I finally got on my tri bike on March 16 — the first time I had ridden it since Ironman on August 26. This expensive bike had collected a lot of dust in the garage in that time. The good news is that getting back on it was a treat. I am actually far more comfortable on this bike than my road bike. The bad news is that not even a fancy bike can make me fast like proper training does.

As for my running, I am 98% hill-centric. I have done the majority of my training on very hilly terrain that largely mimics the Wildflower course: hot, dusty, hilly terrain. I am doing almost no speed work. My average run pace is slow, but very consistent. I’m fine with that; I left this race last year saying I’d never do it again. I realize that everything is relative, and I want the suffer-fest to be relative as well. Slow and steady will win this race for me.

I don’t know what kind of race goals I’ll put together. I want to say something arbitrary like, “Just have fun!”, but who am I kidding? First of all, that’s not a measurable goal. Second, I’m competitive enough that I’m sure I’ll endure a fair amount of discomfort if I see a lot of people in my age group passing me. The best news of all is that I don’t have to train for a full Ironman once this race is over. It will be a blissful summer compared to 2012!

 

 

 

And so it begins…

February 17, 2013 Fitness, Fun No Comments

Training.

Half Ironman training, to be precise. Today marked my first “real” bike ride. My first “real” climb since Ironman back in August. I guess it’s official that triathlon train has begun once again.

On all the “fun” rides I’ve gone on this winter, I’ve had to force myself to go. It hasn’t been enjoyable, even on the nicest days or the best routes. I just don’t care anymore. It’s a concerning feeling, going into training for the hardest 70.3 race I know of.

Today, I climbed Tunitas Creek. Greg and I stayed in The Van over on the coast last night, kind of on a whim. I threw my bike in the last minute, kind of on a whim… The idea being that I’d ride back home from the coast.

You know, forcing myself into it. No way out. One way home. UP AND OVER.

It was in the low 40s when we woke up this morning. Cold and overcast, but not miserable. We took Miles for an hour-long walk on the beach and I was delighted when the sun started burning through the fog. By the time Greg dropped me off south of Half Moon Bay, it was in the low 50s and mostly sunny.

The climb is significant, and I hit it just 1.89 miles into my ride. Luckily, I came upon another rider about a mile in. He’d never ridden Tunitas before and looked at me with bug-eyes, breathing hard, asking how long the climb is. It was with some veteran-of-this-climb pleasure that I informed him that Tunitas Creek Road is 9 miles from bottom to top. The serious climbing portion is about 4 miles, but the mental game of having to continue pedaling to the end of the road is quite taxing.

We made it up in reasonable time, chatting the whole way about our various endeavors and how much this sucked. I was certainly glad for the company. I can say with honesty that the entire ride was much better because I had someone along for those 9 miles. I burned a lot of calories today, I feel like I made a very big stride in my cycling training/fitness, and I will sleep very well tonight.

All good.

Yeah…so

February 7, 2013 Fear, Fitness, Fun No Comments

That whole Wildflower thing. Yeah.

You know what slapped me in the face last year? Everything is relative. When I battled the Wildflower Long Course last year, it was The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done (–> at that time). I got to Mile 12 of the run and declared to my friends, “I want to die.”

Now, Wildflower is only a 70.3 triathlon. That run — as brutal as it is — is only 13.1 miles. My whole frame of reference since the day I completed Ironman Canada 2012 is, “As long as I don’t have to run a full marathon after [whatever it is you want me to do], I am good to go.” And you know what? Almost no one asks me to run 26.2 miles in addition to their original request.

The race is May 4, so I’ve got ~12 weeks to train. I’ve stayed active through the off-season, especially with HIIT workouts and running. Swimming and long-distance biking? Not so much. In fact, Monday was the first time I had been swimming since September. But that’s the beauty of the human body and mind. There is muscle memory, and all those muscles do remember.

Plus, the party that always ensues at Wildflower is worth it!

 

Wildflower 2012 Race Recap

May 16, 2012 Fitness, Friends, Fun 3 Comments

I’m kinda over this race, so I’m not going to totally belabor it. I probably should, for no other reason than to save future unknowing fools who sign up for the Long Course thinking it “won’t be that bad” or that “everyone exaggerates how hard it is” or that it will be “good training.”

This race is hard. It is technically a Half Ironman distance (1.2 swim + 56 bike + 13.1 run), but the notoriety of its difficulty has kicked it up a notch in triathlon circles to “3/4 Ironman” status. I really hope that’s true, because I think I can do 1/4 more work than I did at Wildflower. Doing twice as much will be a real test of everything I am.

The bottom line is that I executed all of my race goals. I guess I can’t ask for more than that, right?

PRE-RACE
It’s a camping event, so no one really plans to be all that well-rested the night before. We had the luxury of sleeping in the van, so that helped tremendously. Greg’s pre-race plan is to make a smoothie the night before and set an alarm to wake him so he can drink it at 4 AM. It was really awesome that his alarm woke up me, the dog, and everyone else in our surrounding area… It took me awhile to go back to sleep, so I laid there and actually visualized my race. In detail. It sounds a little hokey, but I think it was extremely helpful. I would have forgotten two things for my transitions had I not done this! It also helped calm me to visualize myself crossing the finish line.

We got up with the sun around 6 AM and did all the pre-race things. Eating, drinking, bathrooming, making jokes, and finally collecting our things to head to the transition area.

I had my toes done to match my race kit.

Greg and Kidder’s wave started 25 minutes before mine, so I saw them off and  got myself mentally prepared to do this thing. I started 1:20 after the first wave of the day at 9:20 AM. While it’s nice being able to have a somewhat leisurely morning, the down side is being out on the run course in the heat of the day.

SWIM
There were only 75 women in my wave, so this “mass start” wasn’t that brutal. I’m a pretty good swimmer, as it turns out, and I’ve learned that it’s better to be right in the front of the pack going into the water. We’re allowed to swim around for a couple of minutes before our wave starts (after the previous wave) and I’ll tell ya, the water right there is pretty warm with all the athletes peeing one last time before the race starts. My biggest concern was getting my goggles in a spot where they weren’t going to leak or fog over.

The horn went off and we all ran into the water. It’s chaotic, but I’m not a panicky swimmer in this environment so it’s “fine.” My biggest problem was that my goggles were leaking and fogging over. I could not sight the first buoy at all and following the crowd is not always a good thing. I felt like I was way too far to the left, but got my goggles figured out and recovered from that. As is usually the case, it’s hard to get into a rhythm until that first buoy. Things tend to spread out from there and get easier, and that was the case this time.

I knew the lake had been choppy and full of debris (seaweed and sticks) at last year’s Long Course, but that was not the case this year. The water was really quite smooth and clear. Well, not “clear.” This is what you saw when you put your face in the water:

 

It was a good swim for me. I wasn’t killing myself out there, planning for a 35-40 minute swim. I got out of the pack of women in my age group and was passing people from three waves ahead of me, so I knew I wasn’t faltering too much. My Garmin was in my swim cap, so I didn’t have a way of knowing my time/pace. That was fine – I was going by feel anyway. A couple of times throughout, I thought to myself, “This is going to be the easiest part of your day, so enjoy it.” That helped to keep things in perspective and live in the moment. Not to mention fulfilling my goal of having fun!

I got out of the water and got my Garmin out of my cap as I stepped on the timing mat. 33:02. WOO HOO!

T1
I was not pushing myself during my transitions. During an Olympic distance race, fast transitions can make or break your race. This wasn’t an A race, it’s a huge transition area, and I know I’m not going to be Speedy Gonzalez in transition at Ironman. I made putting on sunscreen a priority, and I’m glad I did!! T1 time = 4:44

BIKE
My goal for the bike was to drink enough water and eat at the appropriate times to finish the race without GI issues, and to leave enough in my legs to have a decent run. I had gotten a professional bike fit the week prior and had done a long and hilly ride to test out the adjustments. I felt very comfortable going into the ride and had a solid plan worked out.

Everyone talks about the long hill that starts around Mile 40 of the ride — Nasty Grade. What no one talks about is the hill that happens around Mile 2. It may be even more difficult than Lynch Hill (that the Olympic distance athletes have to climb). I couldn’t believe how many people I saw walking it!

I had to pee starting around Mile 26. I have never even needed to pee on the bike, so this was a good thing. I knew I was drinking enough to stay hydrated! I tried to pee for over 20 miles and could not relax enough to do it. I can’t let my sphincter release while pedaling, obviously. I was close a couple of times, but no go. So disappointing! I even picked up an extra water bottle at the aid station for “clean-up.”

I had a good bike ride. I executed my hydration and nutrition plan, I paced myself and didn’t give in to hammering unnecessarily. I drank 20 ounces of water every hour and ate an almond butter-filled date every hour.

I was passing people in Greg’s age group — they started 25 minutes ahead of me (and they’re men)!! Nasty Grade wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be, but I will admit that the last 10 miles of the ride are the hardest. As I was descending Nasty Grade, I saw the medical helicopter landing just up ahead. Someone else was not having a good race… Greg said that he saw the athlete still laying on the ground when he passed by. I don’t know what happened or what became that guy.

I finished the bike in 3:14. Again, this exceeded my time expectations. I didn’t feel totally spent, I knew I wasn’t dehydrated (as is usually the case), and thought I was in pretty good shape to tackle the run.

T2
My 4:32 time in transition is extremely slow. I’m not sure why. I don’t really care.

RUN
So this is obviously where things fall apart, right? Good swim. Good bike. And for the first few miles, things were working out according to plan on the run.

Mile 2 - Still Having Fun

I had to stop to pee right out of the transition area, but that was expected. The potty stop took 56 seconds. I adopted a Run 3 Minutes/Walk 30 Seconds plan starting around Mile 2.5 — which is right about when the hills started to become a problem. This was a good solution and was working well. When I was running, I was running reasonably fast. The walk breaks brought my heart rate down and gave my legs a break.

And then somewhere around Mile 4, this happens:

That hill is no joke. Add in that it’s 2 PM on an 81-degree day and it’s like living in Hell. I don’t think there was a single person running that hill while I was on it. I’m actually not sure which is more demoralizing: that EVERYONE is walking it, or if you see some crazy-ass superstar running it (especially if she’s in your age group). There was chatting amongst us, mostly commiseration. It helped pass the time. And then, when you get to the top and start running again, you think that everything is going to be okay — until you have to climb the next super steep, albeit short, hill.

The whole thing fell apart for me right there. FIVE MILES IN. It’s hard to even want to start running again on the relatively flat parts. I looked at my splits and knew I could finish within my goal time of 6:30 even if I walked most of it. But I didn’t want to be out there that long; I wanted to finish as fast as possible. I started running again and found a couple of people who were going at a pace I could handle. My biggest problem on the run is not being able to pace myself. When I’m running, I’m running fast. Too fast. So I stayed with them awhile, but let them drop me as I walked through an aid station and stretched my right glute.

From then on, my MO was basically to walk all hills and run the downhills and flats. There was a lot of self-talk, and most of it was reasonably positive. I have never been more certain about finishing Ironman than I was on that race course. I was in a similar situation to where I had been in past races (dying on the run), but in this case it wasn’t because I had hammered too hard on the bike or because I was dehydrated.

It’s because this run is a Bitch. With a capital-fucking-B.

I vowed to remember how miserable this 2 hours of my life was and to NEVER EVER sign up for it again (unless in a relay). I thought of Greg and Mike and wondered if they had suffered as much as I was suffering now. I remembered Greg saying last year that he would NEVER EVER do this race again, and how he had to eat those words and do it as a “training race” for Ironman.

There was a male college student around Mile 9 wearing nothing but a sombrero (the race was on Cinco de Mayo). He wanted to high-five me after slathering sunscreen all over his naked body. No thanks.

The later water stations offer Coke and it’s an effective tool for several reasons (fizziness, caffeine and sugar). I declined this time. Some nice college kids were offering beer. I thought about it, but declined. I WAS EXECUTING A RACE PLAN, DAMMIT!

And then, Mile 12. The top of the last hill, and where I knew I’d see my friends. I came trudging up that hill and threw them my water bottle mentioning briefly, “I want to die” as I passed them and started to run. From there, it’s 1 mile down a steep hill into the finisher’s chute. I have never been more thankful for gravity in all of my life.

I finished in 6:15:20. A full 15 minutes over where I thought I’d end up at “somewhere around 6.5 hours.” It wasn’t a fast run. It wasn’t a fun run. It has left a bad taste in my mouth for over 10 days now. But I also didn’t have any stomach issues during the run or after finishing. I didn’t have any chafing. AND I FINISHED.

I made it out of the post-race food fest after eating more than I’ve ever been able to stomach and hobbled down the stairs to the transition area to pack up.

I couldn’t get in touch with Greg (coverage is spotty at best in this remote area), but had planned ahead and brought my bathing suit to take a cold swim in the lake. That helped a little and then I entered the famed “4th Event” at Wildflower — trekking back up the hill to our campsite.

There, I enjoyed refreshing post-race beverages with my friends. It is always so fun to exchange stories with the other folks competing. Greg and Kidder did the Long Course. Martz and Joe did the Sprint Distance (<– they’re smart). The van provided the perfect lounge setting.

I took a week off to recover. I was asleep by 9 PM every night and slept in until at least 7 every morning — no 5:37 AM wake-up calls for early swims. I did do recovery runs on Monday and Thursday and a quick ride on Wednesday, just to keep things moving.

Now, we’re on to the Real Deal. I’m 3 days into Official Ironman Training and had to laugh when I looked ahead to this weekend’s training: Saturday – run 16-18 miles on rolling terrain + Sunday – ride 80-100 miles. Wheeeeeeee!

Wildflower 2012 Race Goals

May 4, 2012 Fitness No Comments

We’re on the highway heading south to Lake San Antonio. It’s Wildflower weekend! I can’t believe how many cars and vans we’ve seen that are loaded with bikes and camping gear. None, of course, are as awesome as the setup we have.

I’m surprisingly not nervous about tomorrow’s race. I think there still some denial that it’s actually tomorrow, but the real reason is that this is not my A race. So it’s a lot like a very expensive training day with friends. That said, it would be totally unMolly-like to not set some race goals.

1. Execute my Ironman nutrition and hydration plan.
This goal is actually two-fold. If I can get my food and water dialed in, I won’t have a stomachache during the run and for a few hours after finishing. This has plagued me at every race and I really want to do better this time.

I have trained my body to work pretty efficiently while working, so I don’t need much food. But hydration is another story. By the time I feel dehydrated, it’s too late. I anticipate the bike will take over 3 hours and I need to drink one bottle per hour. I’m going to be drinking water and Nuun, taking in my calories from food. I had Greg install a water bottle between my aero bars that has a straw so I won’t have the hassle of coming out of the bars to grab a bottle. It has an easy-fill opening and I’m planning to pour new water in at the aid stations. I’ll carry an extra bottle as backup in case I miss an aid station.

As for food, I don’t do that well with the gels and manufactured food. I’m going with my stand-by from Barb’s Race and having almond butter-filled dates. I am going to aim for about 200 calories/hour and keep my belly full of water so that everything is moving into my small intestine quickly and not sitting in my gut sloshing around.

2. Pace myself.
This race is a training race, meant to test strategies for the full Ironman in August. I am going out with the understanding that I need to be able to go twice the distance at X pace. I am competitive and it’s hard for me to not want to really hammer on the bike. I succumb to this pitfall every time I race and I die on the run. This is a notoriously difficult run to begin with and I need to pace myself to not be defeated when I’m out there in the heat of the day.

3. Have fun!
Because there isn’t a tremendous amount of pressure to hit a time goal, I need to remember to enjoy myself while I’m out there suffering. I’m already somewhat burned out on training, so I need to use this race to recharge my batteries a bit. I’m fortunate that I am able to do hard things like this, that my body accommodates everything I ask it to do. It’s a beautiful venue and a fun weekend spent with friends.

4. Realistic finish time. 
I honestly don’t have a defined time goal in my mind. I’ve kind of backed into it based on what I think I can do at Ironman Canada. I suppose I’ll finish this somewhere around 6.5 hours. My first 70.3 time from 2010 was 5:39. Last year’s time was 6:02. I expect to finish the swim somewhere around 35-40 minutes. Spend a couple of minutes in transition. I’m shooting for under 3.5 hours on the bike. Another minute or two in transition, and then hit the hot and hilly run course. It will take over 2 hours, but I don’t know how much over. I want to stay under a 10 minute-mile (which just sounds slow as I type it out), but I’m really trying to be realistic.

Thanks to all who have sent well-wishes! I’ll carry them with me on the race course!

 

Barb’s Race Recap – Part 1

August 7, 2011 Fitness, Friends, Fun 3 Comments

Rather than drag one post out, I’m going to break it up into sections and provide a little more detail with each — learnings, interesting tidbits about the course, and the like.

Overall, Barb’s Race was a success. I spent the week with a black cloud hanging over the whole race because I missed my goal time by 2 minutes. Oh, and because my dog died. I appreciate everyone who came to watch me race, everyone who has asked me about it, and everyone who has congratulated me on a job well-done. I am a well-supported athlete!

Everyone (including the baby) was sporting a 'Team Molly' shirt.

I have several explanations excuses for missing my goal time. One of them is that I chose to use a porta-potty rather than gut it out (or worse) once I started running. But the bottom line is that my legs weren’t cooperating on the run and my mind wasn’t strong enough to get a compelling message to them.

Triathlon is a mental game. I have known this all along, but it has never been so in-my-face as it was last Saturday afternoon.

PRE-RACE
The packet pick-up process was a little cumbersome, but maybe that’s because we were there early. The race organizers set up a mandatory orientation meeting for all participants. This lasted roughly 30 minutes and was only marginally helpful. It was probably more helpful for first-time triathletes, but I honestly think it was a tactic to offset having a zillion people in the packet pick-up room at once. This was also ineffective. The meetings ended at 12:30 and packet pick-up didn’t open until 1 PM. Most people didn’t go to the expo to buy stuff, they stood in a long line for 30 minutes and tapped away on their phones…

Once we got back to our house, I went to work getting everything ready for the race. This was uncanny behavior for me. I usually screw around and/or socialize and/or have a glass of wine . But for some reason, I wanted everything done ahead of time while it was fresh in my mind. And thank goodness, given how the night was hijacked! I was so thankful I had done everything with a clear head and knew I had what I needed!

Race number: sticker for bike, sticker for helmet, sticker for T1 transport bag, bib for race belt
Nutrition: see below
Gear: tri top + shorts, HR monitor, timing chip, flip flops, Wet Ones, wetsuit, goggles, Body Glide, ear plugs, swim cap, Timex watch (for overall timekeeping), transition towel, sunscreen, race belt, bike, helmet, sunglasses, socks, cycling shoes, Garmin FR405 (for bike + run splits)

Argus got sick around 6:30 PM and died around 7:30, I think. I’m not really sure what time it all happened; time seemed to stop. We left Monte Rio to take him to an emergency vet clinic in Santa Rosa just as it was getting dark and arrived back at the house around 10 PM. Greg and I mindlessly ate dinner (I was nervous how this would affect my bathroom abilities at 6 AM, but needed to eat) and went to bed. I slept restlessly all night.

NUTRITION
I changed my race day nutrition from what I did at Wildflower. I know that using gels (like GU, ClifShot, AccelGel) are effective during a race, but they really upset my stomach. Therefore, I never train with them. I decided to use “real food” nutrition during this race, similar to what I do during my long training sessions.

Pre-race Dinner: Homemade chicken parmesan + whole wheat pasta and sauce + red wine. I ate smaller portions than I would have earlier in the night, given I was eating so late. Some people are real sticklers about drinking booze during training and especially before a race. I’m just not that hard core. I train with wine. I race with wine. (See also: my dog just died.)
Breakfast:
Leftover pasta + sauce, Chobani lowfat yogurt cup, 12 oz. low-cal FRS
Pre-swim: 5-Hour Energy shot. This was a race day gamble; I’ve never taken one of these before. It’s mostly B-vitamins and some caffeine and the packaging promises it won’t cause a crash at 5:01. Living on the wild side!
Bike: I brought two hydration bottles, one with plain water and one with full-calorie FRS. I train with this and like it. I purposely used two throw-away bottles in case I needed to swap one out at the on-course water stations. I ended up drinking most of my FRS and about half of my water. For food, I packed one-half PB+banana sandwich and four almond butter-filled dates. These were packed in separate snack-size Ziploc bags and stored in my bento box. I tried eating half of the sandwich around Mile 18, but I struggled to chew it and get it down so ended up throwing it out. I relied on three of the dates (Mile 19, Mile 38, Mile 51) and believe they did the job for me — protein + carbs and easy-ish to eat. They were a little messy getting them out of their baggy, but I think I can rig something better next time.


Run: I brought a handheld water bottle with Nuun with me and this helped tremendously to replace much-needed electrolytes. On the course, I took water at almost every station on the way out and none on the way back (first lap). On the second lap, I drank two cups of full-calorie Coke and loved it. This was a pleasant surprise. I also had a couple of cups of ice. I was having some GI issues, so the only thing I ate was peach slice someone gave me at the turnaround point. It was delicious.
Post-race: I was surprisingly hungry after the race — something that never happens because my stomach is usually so upset. I had none of that this time!!  They had good food at the finish line. The pasta salad would have been inedibly salty had I not just finished a race, but it was pretty good because I was salt-deprived. I ate a few bites of grilled chicken breast and four pieces of fresh melon. I snagged cookies for my cheering section. Cocktails followed a few hours later.

Click here for Part 2 (where I actually talk about the race)! Thanks for reading!

Barb’s Race – Mission Accomplished!

August 1, 2011 Fitness 3 Comments

I’m suffering from a severe hangover today. The highs and lows from the weekend have left me emotionally and physically spent.

I’ll be back with more details, but here are my race splits:

SWIM – 32:43
T1 – 2:54
BIKE – 3:00:12
T2 – 4:25
RUN – 2:22:02

TOTAL: 6:02:15

I didn’t exactly hit my goal of finishing under 6 hours (my disastrous run is the very obvious culprit), but close enough. At least I was smiling at the finish line this year!

So You’re Saying I’ve Got a Chance

July 20, 2011 Fitness 1 Comment

I ventured out into the beautiful morning for my first open water swim since Wildflower.

As you can see, the conditions were perfect. I ended up swimming 1.3 miles in 37 minutes. My 1.2 mile swim time in last year’s Half Ironman race was 36 minutes.

So I guess I’ve got a chance to meet or beat that time this year, even after taking six weeks off due to the injury.

WOO HOO!

Swim Like You Mean It (and WWW: June 12)

June 20, 2011 Fear, Fitness 3 Comments

My doctor is pretty sure that my shoulder injury isn’t a tear, it’s just an impingement — an inflammation of soft tissue. If I had all the time and money in the world, I’d certainly go get that MRI that he has recommended “just because he’s curious.”

But I don’t have either.

Money is one thing that I certainly do not have lying around, but the more important (!!) issue is my race on July 30. After a bunch of hemming and hawing (usually around Mile 5 of a run) that the shoulder injury is a perfect excuse out of it, I have decided that I am officially racing. And with that, I don’t have time to wait for MRI appointments and then physical therapy appointments and then for someone to decide if I can swim or not. Rather, I am falling back on my ol’ stand-by:

The power of positive thinking.

Laugh if you want, I don’t care. Sure, I’m icing semi-regularly (maybe 2x/week instead of every day) and using ibuprofen semi-regularly (maybe 3x/week instead of 3x/day)… but I simply decided I’m going to swim and it’s going to be fine. It’s going to be better than fine. It has been. It will continue to be.

My 1.2 mile (~2100 yards) swim time at my Half Ironman last year was 36:39. In the pool on my first day swimming since my race on May 1, I swam 500 yards in 9 minutes without really trying. I hit that time again a few days later, and I swam a mile (1760 yards) in 29 minutes today. I will be “fine” for the race. The best news of all is that the pain isn’t nearly as acute during the swim OR as lingering afterward as it was before May 1.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep riding and running and chanting:

“I am so grateful I can compete in Barb’s Race with Caryn and the tri club!”

“I am so lucky my shoulder has healed and I am able to swim!”

“My body is an incredible machine that responds whenever I ask it to.”

“I am a triathlete! I will swim! I will bike! I will run!”

“I’m not crazy, no matter what anyone else says!”

Sure, it’s corny, but as much as I can’t afford an MRI, I can’t afford any negative talk around here. It serves no one and won’t get me any closer to competing, setting reasonable goals for my race, and accomplishing them. My riding and running have come too far for me to bail out now. I’m going for it!

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday – 49-mile bike ride + 1 mile run

Monday – 20-mile bike ride + 3 mile run

Tuesday – 10.5 mile run

Wednesday – 60 minutes Jefferson Ave hill repeats (bike)

Thursday – 6.5 mile run

Friday – OFF (+ Book Club hangover — ugggghhhh)

Saturday – 45-mile bike ride + core