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Santa Barbara Tri – Race Report

September 9, 2013 Fitness, Friends No Comments

For the first time in four years, Greg and I competed in the Santa Barbara Triathlon this year. While I can’t admit to being gung-ho about the race, I love Santa Barbara and we have a bunch of friends there so I knew it would be a fun weekend.

You’ll recall that we raced on June 16 and I pretty much stopped all tri training from there. I still worked out 5-6 days/week, and it felt so good to do what I felt like doing (which was never swim/bike/run at prescribed distances and speeds). Miles and I would go on runs together, I would still ride my bike home from work, but otherwise it was HIIT workouts, yoga, and other quick-hit things. I finally “got serious” about training after 4th of July. That left ~7 weeks to whip myself into shape for a 1 mile swim + 34 mile bike + 10 mile run.

Olympic distance race? No problem. But this was longer than that, and the 10-mile run was the obvious culprit. I spent a couple of weeks working myself back up to running 10 milers and then did 10 mile runs every weekend until the race. My right knee was giving me all kinds of trouble and I was contemplating signing up for the aquabike race instead. In the end, I gutted it out.

SWIM – 34:18
I was unpleasantly surprised at how cold the water was in sunny Santa Barbara! Greg and I swim in the San Francisco Bay and the water here is warmer than it was there. Not only that, the water was a bit choppy on race morning. I drank A LOT of salt water. <– Wait for it!!

Mostly, it would behoove me to swim in a straight line.

T1 – 3:02
They changed the transition area, making it so that you not only had to run uphill on the sandy beach, you had to run the length of the entire transition area before being allowed to enter the transition area to find your stuff. Everything there went off without a hitch. No better than my swim went, I was pleasantly surprised to find most of the bikes near me still there.

BIKE – 2:02:18
It was a lovely day for a bike ride. I kept telling myself that. If it had been *just* a bike ride, I would have been in heaven. If I had signed up for the aquabike and didn’t have a 10-mile run hanging over my head, I would have been pleased. If I could have stopped and collected every perfect avocado that I saw in the trees and along the street, I’d be smothering everything in guacamole until Christmas.

I think they changed the bike course a bit from the last time I did it, and the change included an extra hill. That certainly didn’t help matters. Regardless of an extra hill or not, my legs felt flat. I woke up with sore hip flexors on Saturday morning, which I’m pretty sure is because I led the Martz boys in some calisthenics on Friday. I didn’t want to push myself too hard on the bike, trying to leave myself enough to get through the run. I had hoped for a 17 mph average, but couldn’t pull it off in the end.

T2 – 3:04
Depending on where your stuff is in the transition area, T2 is either super short or super long. In my case, I had to run the entire length of a parking lot TWICE, just to get to the actual start of the run. I wanted to take my first walk break when I hit the timing mat signaling I could begin running.

RUN – 1:37:42
Actually, the run started off better than usual. I was chatting with a guy until we got past Shoreline Park, which is most of the way up the big hill. I saw Greg at my Mile 2 and he was on his way to a strong finish. I saw Kidder just before my Mile 4, and Joe Andrulaitis about a half mile after him. I took the opportunity to walk through the Mile 4 aid station to eat a GU and wash it down with water. I knew it would be all downhill at the turnaround. Ahhhh.

The saltwater had been plotting its revenge all this time and the GU was a catalyst in the revolution. The last half of the run was an exercise in contracting my sphincter while maintaining something of a run. This was neither fast nor efficient. I took several walk breaks to hold it all together. Of course, there were bathrooms along the way, but I’ve been in this situation before and with ~3 miles left, it was better to finish and go all at once than to try to go a little bit here and make it a few yards down the road and need to go again.

As I headed into the finisher’s chute, everyone was there cheering me on. I looked at Greg and said, “I’m about to shit my pants!” I crossed the finish line and Nancy snapped this picture of me:

I then asked her to kindly escort me to the nearest restroom. I made it!

Total race time of 4:20:24. Not my best work. Pffft!! I put the bare minimum of training into it and got through a tough course. When Greg and I were reunited, he had already been recovering for over an hour and was ready for his first beer.

I’m DONE FOR THE SEASON. Bring on the short workouts and leisurely runs with Miles!

Vineman Monte Rio

Greg and I raced the inaugural Vineman Monte Rio olympic distance triathlon on June 2. We had visited the Russian River area of Sonoma County a couple of weeks prior to that and rode part of the bike and run courses, just to see what it was like. The roads were flat, newly paved, and shady. Sign me up!

The nice thing about competing in a difficult half Ironman race so early in the season is that then you’re basically ready for anything after that. In fact, we’re racing again this weekend! The olympic distance is so fun and relatively painless after the Wildflower Long Course.

Vineman Monte Rio makes the sixth multi-sport event these race organizers host each summer. Since this was the first running of the event, we weren’t exactly sure what to expect, but these folks know what they’re doing and it went very smoothly.

Packet pickup was quick and painless. There were just a handful of sponsors since it’s the first year of the event, so we were in and out of there quickly. Monte Rio is a small community with limited parking, so they were encouraging participants to park three miles away at the rodeo grounds and take shuttle buses in on race morning. This meant leaving bikes in the transition area overnight. Greg and I were staying at a campground adjacent to the rodeo grounds, so we chose to just ride our bikes the ~3 miles in. This worked very well for us.

RACE MORNING
The Van really does make things easy on race morning, the MVP being the in-house toilet. This was a low-pressure race for both of us, so I was able to take care of breakfast, getting dressed, and all necessary “business” before Greg was back from trotting Miles around the campground. I had built in the necessary time that would allow us to run behind schedule (as is always the case) and arrived at the race site with plenty of time to spare.

SWIM — 30:37 (2:03/100)
The water was warm (~72*F) compared to the outside temperature (~60*F), so it felt good getting in. I made the mistake of not being in the front of my age group and started behind 3-4 rows of women bobbing around in the river. It took several minutes to finally swim around everyone and get in a groove. While I am not swimming as strongly as I was last year, I start fast and finding “clean water” makes a big difference in getting into a rhythm.

The water was shallow and a lot of people were standing up to walk, especially in one section on the way back in. For anyone with open water anxiety, the Vineman races are very good for this reason. I was able to swim through it all, which was great. I’m much faster while swimming than while walking in knee-deep water. I assumed I’d end up somewhere around 30 minutes and was really pushing myself at the end. Just as I stood up in the water, my Garmin beeped at me that it had been 30 minutes (I keep it in my swim cap in a Ziploc bag and have it set to beep every 10 minutes, just to give me an idea of how I’m doing). I was disappointed that I couldn’t break the self-inflicted time barrier, but also feel better knowing that the race directors said the course ran ~150 meters long. At my 2:03/100m pace, I would have finished sub-30 if the course had been accurate.

I swam into three other age groups in my mile-long trip up and down the river and had no idea where I was in my own age group. There were no other orange caps around me at the time I exited the water and felt pretty good about things.

T1 — 4:18
I say this all the time – I am not fast in transition. This course made it difficult for everyone because of the long distance from the water’s edge up to the transition area and because that run was on small pebbles. We were all hobbling down to the race start, lamenting our transition times before it even began. Some people left their flip flops at the water’s edge and found theirs in a sea of other flip flops for the trip back up…but most gutted it out.

BIKE — 1:16:10 (19.5 mph)
This was a fantastic bike ride! Greg and I rode a section of the course a couple of weeks ago and then drove another section of it Saturday on our way to the campsite. The main road out to the coast was recently repaved and was pristine – perfect for racing! The course took us on a bit of a detour on a less-traveled road that had a little bit of elevation gain and was in poor condition. Other than that 7 mile section, this bike course was a dream.

I saw Greg just before I made the turn onto Highway 1 into Jenner; he was on his way back in. I had a race plan to eat my Larabar at the turnaround. I got it out of my bento box and promptly dropped it as I tried to open it. Now I know why people over-pack for short events… I tend to not eat very much while training/racing anyway, so I wasn’t totally concerned, but I knew I didn’t have much in my race belt for the run and I’d have to take advantage of the aid stations on the run.

This bike ride ends up being a PR for me in an olympic distance race. I passed 7 people in my age group on the course and was passed by one woman who was flying.

T2 — 2:27
I was in the run transition area with another woman from my age group. She was chatting with her husband, saying that this run was going to take her a long time. Of course, “a long time” is all relative to how fast someone’s normal running pace is, but I did feel a bit confident coming off a great bike ride and feeling good for the run.

Spoiler: that woman got the 3rd place podium spot.

RUN — 52:19 (8:27/mile)
I think I’ve mentioned that my running training has focused on hills and consistency rather than speed this year. That was all due to the sufferfest that the Wildflower run is. I signed up for this race kind of on a whim, just because it is a beautiful venue, the distance is [relatively] easy, and it would be a fun weekend getaway.

I hit the 1 mile marker and was delighted to see my pace at 8:17. That is fast for me! And yet, everything felt good. I kept on with it, not paying attention to my pace, only with feeling good while running. The run course is absolutely flat and 99% shaded. The only sun is between mile 3.0 and 3.1 at the turnaround. It was blissful!

I saw Greg at my Mile 2 and he looked good heading into his last two miles. I was chatting with people and otherwise feeling good about life. I had a half package of Clif Shot Bloks as I started the run and decided to take a gel from the aid station at Mile 4. I don’t usually use these for training because they upset my stomach, but I knew I needed an extra shot of energy because I’d lost my food on the bike. Despite everyone saying it’s “just like frosting,” I don’t often eat frosting (!!) and it was hard to suck it down. It did seem to work as prescribed and did not give me any stomach distress, so that was a win and I plan to employ that this weekend as well.

I felt good all through the run. I didn’t explode. I never had the desire to walk. No stomach/bathroom issues. I was passing a lot of people and not being passed by anyone in my age group, so that led me to speculate on where I was in the field. I rounded the last corner across the bridge and saw Greg cheering for me. I turned into the finish area, which included winding around the transition area and up a steep hill to the finish line. This bit of terrain led me to ask aloud,  ”Who puts a fucking hill at the finish line?!” and several spectators laughed.

I was so proud of my finish! I thought it was a PR for me, but it turns out the olympic distance I did last year (the one I am doing tomorrow, in fact!!) was a 2:41:32. I did better in the swim, run, and transitions at that race last year, causing a little bit of anxiety this afternoon…

FINISH — 2:45:51
Greg and I hung around for 30 minutes or so, waiting for them to post the final results. The post-race food was pancakes and sausage, so I made-do with drinking half a Dr. Pepper and waiting to eat until we got back to The Van. As proud as I am of my finish, I was totally bummed to get fourth place in my age group AGAIN. I think this is the fourth time I’ve missed the podium by one spot! Even so, it was a fun morning and I was glad to be part of the inaugural running of the race.

POST-RACE
We rode back to our campsite to rescue Miles and spend a couple of hours river-side before taking a leisurely trip down the coast. This delicious concoction includes Stoli Chocolate Coconut Vodka, chocolate almond milk, and coconut milk. The latter two items are known for their recovery properties, so I feel like it’s all good…

And almost nothing is better than watching our sweet boy fetch his ball up and down the river.

We’re headed to Morgan Hill this evening to camp somewhere (hopefully) and race the Reservoir Triathlon tomorrow.

Enjoy your weekend!

Pics from Wildflower

I want to share a few Wildflower photos that were taken by friends of ours. First, an early morning shot of all the athletes racing:

The three guys on the left (Joe, Martz, and Kidder’s 14-YO son Kyle) were smart to do the Mountain Bike race. Their race didn’t start for two hours after this photo was taken and their smiles were just as big an hour after that. I’m totally doing that race next year!

Here’s a family shot from after the race. I was happy to be standing at this point. Greg finished about an hour before me and was feeling pretty good. Miles wondered when we were going back to the lake.

Our camping setup is pretty sweet, what with The Van and all. We arrived at our usual spot near Mile 12 and started nesting. Greg rolled out the new awning and carpet and we were ready to welcome visitors.

When the Martzes arrived, their older son Colin took great interest in the van. He has been researching an RV for himself, you see. He’s 10. The one he wants will arrive at his door in Santa Barbara for a mere $130,000. It was so fun to take him through our van and show him how everything works and why we did things a certain way. Apparently he took it to heart.

Two weeks after the race, we got a postcard in the mail, as shown below. It was from the Martzes. Colin had recreated all of Wildflower with Legos, including our van. Nancy took a picture and sent it to us, which will be a memento we keep forever. I love it so much!

As you can see, he built the van setup flawlessly, right down to the awning, bikes mounted to the back, and the sunroof. It even has the hitch on the back bumper! I love that he included me, Greg, and Miles. My favorite part? Greg is holding a bone for the dog and I am holding a bottle of wine. Ha!!

As we get ready to race again this weekend (Vineman Monte Rio), it is fun to look back on Wildflower through these photos. The beauty of Vineman is that it’s an Olympic distance race and we’ll both be done racing by 10:15 AM. Even with temps at 90*, we can enjoy the day on the river.

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!

 

 

 

Ironman Canada 2012 Photobook

March 14, 2013 Family, Favorites, Fitness, Fun No Comments

I created a Shutterfly photobook that chronicled our Ironman Canada adventure as a gift for Greg’s birthday in January. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift because I thought it was a project that would take a few hours to complete. Uhhh, more like a few weeks… Shutterfly has so many (too many?) idea pages, embellishments, and layouts to choose from. My project really came to life as I was building it and I got more excited about it with every page. This required hunting down more pictures, telling more stories, and finding more of their awesome embellishments! It was a little overwhelming, but I am very happy with the results.

Now that training for Wildflower has come into full swing (two-a-day workouts, unlimited laundry, unlimited hunger and fatigue), I have been referring back to the photobook for some race day inspiration. It’s maybe working.

 

NOTE: I have friends at Shutterfly (it’s a Bay Area company), but this project was my own doing. In other words, I’m not being paid to say any of these nice things about the company.

 

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!

 

Eating My Words

February 5, 2013 Fear, Fitness No Comments

I’m eating a few words I spoke last year, and it’s going to be a big meal.

How many calories does fear burn?

Ironman Canada – RECOVERY

October 22, 2012 Fitness, Friends, Fun 2 Comments

It’s been awhile since I posted. My next post will tell you why… In the meantime, here’s where we are for those just joining the program:

Ironman Canada – SWIM
Ironman Canada – BIKE
Ironman Canada – RUN

(Sadly, there are no photos… This is as much for my own recollection and others who want to know about what it’s like.)

After my photo was taken, I was given a space blanket and ushered into the athlete recovery area. I was absently wondering where Greg was, but he’s kind of notorious for missing my finishes and I had more pressing things to worry about anyway. Namely, not passing out.

I luckily saw Kidder sitting there and he motioned to a chair for me. He said he could not stand up to get it for me because he got dizzy every time he tried to stand up. I remember watching for my running buddy Jason to come through, but I didn’t see him. I even remember looking for Caryn, but I think I totally zoned out for long periods of time so I don’t have a true sense of chronology.

The volunteers kept coming by to ask if I wanted anything to eat or drink. I declined each time because I was so nauseous. I had wild temperature swings from being absolutely freezing to sweating so much I had to remove the space blanket and fan myself. Kidder finished the race 25 minutes before me and finally started to come around. He got a bag of chips and said the salt was helping. I still couldn’t imagine eating. Neither of us knew where Greg was.

Low point of my life: resting my head on a public trash can, waiting to vomit.

I finally did vomit, only there was nothing left in my stomach so it was dry heaves. Even better/worse. I was currently experiencing the worst hangover of my entire life. After heaving, I knew I had a short window of feeling well enough to get to the massage tent. The therapist I got was great and he worked on me for a long time. (Note: I have no concept of time at this point.) He said that people were “dropping like flies” and since there was no one waiting, he’d just keep working on me. This was awesome for my body, but my stomach was revolting and I knew the minute I stood up I’d be heaving again. I was right.

But the heaving bought me another window of time for Kidder and me to get to the transition area and retrieve our gear. I saw Melanie and the boys + Miles at this time, which was a welcome sight. They’d had an epic day spectating!

The Kidder guys and I slowly made our way to where The Van was parked. We figured that was as good a place as any to find Greg (and it was where all of our phones were, so the only way we’d have to get in touch with one another). As we walked the many many blocks to where it was supposed to be parked, I looked ahead and saw it was no longer there.

Good news: Greg was alive and had moved the van, probably closer to the race finish. Good intentions, sure. No way of getting in touch with us made it the wrong move. Remember? All of our phones were in the van…

Bad news: I was sicker than sick, laying in someone’s yard trying to hold it together. I needed someone to take me home. Now.

Phones were not an option. Kidder and I didn’t have ours. His boys have an iPod Touch, but its battery was dead. We sent one of the boys back to try to find either Melanie or Greg (I have no idea how this was supposed to work). We even stopped an innocent passerby and asked to borrow his phone, to no avail. All I know is that Greg gallantly appeared on the scene. He was not only alive, he was well enough to be riding his bike. I wanted to kill him. And/or vomit, not necessarily because of how good he felt and how rotten I felt. In his defense, he was very concerned about my well-being, asked about my race, etc… before rushing back to the van to drive it back to me. It was quite clear I was not going to be able to walk back to the finish area.

He returned and we got ourselves loaded into the van — me, Greg, Kidder, and Miles. The boys rode home with Melanie. It’s often the three of us heading to/from an epic race, filling each other in on how our respective days had gone. I was laying on the floor of the van, Miles laying with me. I’m sure he thought I was dying the way he was tending to me.

From the floor, I made a declaration: “I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN! In fact, let’s all agree that WE are never doing this again! Let’s remember how terrible we feel right now! Why would we inflict this upon ourselves? We agree, right? Right?” I was met with silence.

Greg didn’t feel terrible at this juncture. He had spent 3 hours in the medical tent because he was vomiting uncontrollably after his finish. (So uncontrollably that he was almost sent to the hospital.) He received prescription anti-nausea meds and IV fluids that finally had him feeling like a million bucks. He was ready to do it again! All this time in the medical tent does give him an alibi for missing my finish… :) When he finally came-to, he asked what time it was and was shocked to learn he had been out of it for so long.

Kidder was approaching the opening of his pain cave and selective memory was kicking in. Fuck them. I should have gone to the medical tent. We got home and I was able to shower (read: find all of the chafing spots) in between dry heaving and dizziness. I showered sitting down. I made my way to the couch and the group gathered in the living room to hash it all out. We all had a story to tell. From our living room, we could hear the race announcer from across the lake and we all gathered on the porch at midnight to hear the final finishers crossing the line. I was so thankful to be done.

I was finally able to take in fluids (first water, then chocolate milk) and keep it down, but I was still very dizzy if I stood up for longer than a couple of minutes. I kept water and a trash can by the bed during the night, knowing I would not sleep as well as I deserved wanted to. I was up several times, drinking a little and thinking I’d vomit. I was glad to be rehydrating, though my sleep was not restful.

I tried eating on Monday morning, but my stomach was still too precarious. I was still very dizzy and moved from chair to couch to chair until afternoon. I didn’t need to pee until around noon that day. Ah, dehydration. We finally hobbled out of the house in search of a late lunch. I had Greg order me a large glass of pickle juice and that helped me turn the corner. It literally was the worst hangover ever. I ate a few bites of my lunch and kept it down. Success!

As for body soreness, all of us were pretty sore on Monday. The house we rented was two stories and it was comical to watch any of us go up and down those stairs. Greg and Kidder both wore compression gear during and after the race and believe it helped them. I believe that the on-site massage I got after the race was critical in helping my stiffness. My legs felt even more stiff on Tuesday but by Wednesday, I was not sore at all. Fatigued? Yes. But not sore.

Bottom line: I did not expect to be as physically sick as I was. In fact, we all had brought fresh clothes to change into so we could watch the finish of the race at midnight. Ha! Several of our long training days left me feeling spent and sick-ish, but nothing like this.

I took a full week off, doing nothing more than light walking during our stops as we made our way home from Penticton. I don’t think I’ve taken 7 FULL DAYS OFF in, oh, five years. It felt good to rest and reflect on what I had just accomplished, honoring my body and taking care of it. And the itch to ride my bike once we got home was a welcome feeling as well.