Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ironman Louisville...

It's a long one, you've been warned.

The road to Ironman Louisville actually started over 18 months ago. No, I'm not that good at planning ahead, but that's when it was determined that I would participate in Ironman Florida, 2014 and I started this blog. And of course how I got to IMFL through a social media contest, and this was before Ironwilled!

Most of you know about the "ironbrick" instead of triathlon that occurred at Ironman Florida. That's right, they canceled the swim. No, it was not a duathlon. It was a modified race because of safety concerns for participants, volunteers, and safety personnel. I completed the race that was presented to me (not everyone did) and considered myself an Ironman. Most of the people in the triathlon world that I look up to and respect felt the same way. But, there were many that disagreed. Some of these people were crass enough to express their disagreement not just out loud but directly to the athletes impacted. Others were couth enough to keep their opinion to themselves. Some who were very vocal had never completed an 140.6 event (either they had never toed the line to start or they started and DNF'd (did not finish). The 2 sides got into heated debates. This was my take on it (and I still feel the same way).

Moving on...I felt incomplete. I did view myself as an Ironman, but in my head, there was an asterisk. Because I acknowledge that my life is very uncertain, I wanted to fill my PERSONAL void while I knew I had the time. I signed up for Ironman Louisville and since it is a river swim, there is no reason to think the race wouldn't go off as planned... unless green slime invades.....

Now that you all are on the same page, let's talk about my IRONMAN LOUISVILLE.

The months and weeks leading up to IMLou, I was a mess. I was constantly worried about not finishing before midnight. The bike caused heart palpitations and tears. Legit (only in my head) fears of a DNF for time. Irony: the only part of the event I wasn't worried about was the swim which is the only leg I had been worried about in Florida. 4K Fridays for the win!

Hear me out on why I was so worried about finishing IMLou before midnight. As I mentioned in another blog before I registered, it was already announced the race would start at 7:30, not 7. That meant there was 16.5 hours to compete the event IF you are the first person in the water. But IMLou is a time trial start (swimmers entered 5-10 at a time). I could have not started my race until 8:15/8:30am. What does that mean? Worst case I get a total of 15.5 hours to finish instead of 17 hours. So what? Rule of thumb is to take your 70.3 finish time, double it, and add 1-2 hours to estimate your finish time for a full. My most recent 70.3 was Lake Logan where it took me 7:25 to finish. Simple math: 7:25+7:25+2 hours = 16:50. See, based on arithmetic, I could be in trouble.

I knew I could do the 140.6. I had trained. I was ready. I was fearful that I wouldn't time qualify and I would disappoint my friends, coach, Ironwilled women and I would embarrass myself. It took till almost race day to come to grips that the handful of people who would be tracking me and hoping for my failure just didn't matter and that the hundreds of people who were pulling for me did.
As race day approached the support and encouragement from all over the world started pouring in. I know my coach wanted me to cut back on social media, but what I explained to him was that it was an incredibly supportive space for me. The women of Ironwilled and my friend Kristen were just amazing. I had already left any group that was drama-filled and I had unfollowed anyone who was causing anxiety in my head.
Compliments of Jeanette
And now the recap of what really happened this race weekend:

Friday I went to check in, attended the athlete's briefing and did a little shopping. As I'm waiting for the athlete's briefing to start, I see this group of women walking towards me.

My heart melts. I mean I know we did a special t-shirt order for the ladies form Ironwilled heading to Louisville, but every time I see someone in Ironwilled gear I have to rub my eyes to believe it's real! I get to meet these awesome women as well as see many other friends. AND, the most important announcement of the weekend: THE SWIM WAS ON! (whew.)

Friday night we headed out to dinner with a small group of solo travelers from the group and Kelly who is local and the volunteer captain of the finish line. She provided a lot of insight for the race.

Saturday was the practice swim. I wanted to get in the water, but Coach really didn't want me in the water any sooner than necessary. Even without the green slime warning, the Ohio River is not known for it's cleanliness and there are many that end up sick from it. Since I was already dealing with some allergy issues, I followed his urging and skipped the swim. However, I did get to meet a few more IW women.
It was a bit brisk that morning.
Not only did I get to meet up with some IW women, I had a chance encounter with my teammates that were also racing.
Vallee and Katie, just 2 of my many incredibly talented teammates.
Now it was time for me to really focus on the race. I headed out on to the course to get a quick ride on MP to check gearing and make sure he was ready to roll. Of course he was, he had just been to Curtis & Crew at Cannon Cyclery. A quick shake out of the legs and it was time to get off them.

The rest of Saturday was running errands, racking my bike, turning in my transition bags and meeting up with my folks for an early dinner. Oh, and mess with my coach some...we might have sent him a text that said, "Tomorrow's race plans have changed some." He wasn't amused and I couldn't keep up the joke. He called in a panic and I caved almost instantly telling him I was completely fine.
Mom has limited mobility so we learned from IMFL last year, rent a chair to help her get places faster/easier.
Off to sleep nice and early with 4 alarms set in hopes that I would actually sleep some. It worked. I did actually sleep.

Sunday morning, way before the sun was up, Stacy humored my race anxiety and had me standing in line for transition (drop bottles on my bike, add air to the tires, turn in special needs bags) by 4:55. In and out of transition as quickly as I could and then she drove me to the swim start about a mile away.

I made friends with the people waiting around me (I know this surprises you...) and settled in for a 2 hour wait. Remember I said I was irrationally worried about cut off times? Solution: Get as much time on the course as possible.

Eventually we put wetsuits on and headed down on to the dock.
photo cred: Kelly's family
There are 2 lines to hop into the river. One puts you about 10 yards further from the finish. I stuck close to the river and saved myself 10 yards of swimming.

The first part of the swim is up river in a mostly protected cove. I didn't really feel like I needed to fight any current and settled in to my swim. There was a little contact that I was prepared for, after all I'm a mid pack swimmer jumping in ahead of much faster swimmers. But it was nothing like the washing machine I have heard about in others' reports. Oddly enough, it wasn't until we were in the HUGE river that someone insisted on swimming into me a few times. After the cove broke, then I felt like I need to push and fight a little to progress up the river. And then, there was the lovely red buoy! (The turn buoy was the first benchmark for me as far as relaxing into the race) That's the one we turn around to head back down river. It was definitely a down river swim, but the current did not seem overpowering.

I swam right up to the steps where 2 volunteers grabbed my hands and pulled me right up to dry land and then coming out Katie spotted me and said hi.

In sum: FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC swim: 1:22:46 (25 minutes faster than what I thought, spot on for Coach's estimate.) Fueling: I remembered to eat the Gu before the swim.

Training plan said to SIT DOWN in transition. Take my time, don't miss anything, it's a long day. I grabbed a volunteer and began to change. Bike jersey, cycling shorts, arm sleeves on. T1: 11:50
The next benchmark I was waiting for was mile 60 of the bike. The cut off for mile 60 on the bike was 3:30pm. Yes I knew this. It was time to get to mile 60.
photo cred: Joana
I rolled out on to the course. I was spotted by my cousin and then I saw Stacy doing what she does best, when not racing, being Sally.
photo cred: Dynamo Betty & Ernie
The bike course starts off nice and flat. I ride as far to the right as possible so it's easier for others to pass and pass they did. That's okay: my race my pace. After a bit of flat there is a narrow out and back that has some rolling hills. The road was freshly paved and smooth as a baby's butt! Coming back out there was a wreck that took down at least 3 cyclists. Everyone slowed down and got around them. I think I heard one of the women broke her arm.
Done with the out & back, it was time to do the loop, twice. More hills. I stuck to my plan: easy up, power down. I tried to keep my heart rate in zone, but it was hard with that many hills. There was some great cheering on the course. I saw some friends, and some friends spotted me. The Dynamo cheering crew was at about mile 30 on the bike. LOVED hearing Betty's horn and voice cheering.
Coming back around on Rte 42 to do the loop again, there was a bit of a head wind, but it was nothing like Florida. And then, and then, we approached the 60 mile mark. I asked someone what time it was. They said is was about 1:30. HELLZ YES! And then the fun REALLY began. I was this close to hopping off my bike to do a happy dance! With that small bit of information, every single ounce of concern, anxiety, fear was swept away. I was so excited, that I almost took the beer that was offered to me on the course.

about 5000 feet of climbing
I kept riding. Up and over, up and over. The sun was out. The air temperature was perfect. It was a beautiful day to be out riding my bike. I was spotted a few times by some of the women in Ironwilled who said hello as they passed by. I love getting to meet my Facebook friends IRL. A quick stop at special needs to replace my bottles and I was rolling again. Then it was time to turn on to Rte 42 for the ride back. It's a straight shot to a right on River Road which takes you to transition. This should make me happy. And it did, but the head wind. Uggg. No, no, no, I'm not whining. Was there a head wind? Yes. Was in unmanageable? No. Everything is relative and compared to IMFL 2014...whatevs.
As it warmed up, I just slid my arm covers into my pocket, photo cred: Joana
In sum: Bike: 7:25:35 (exactly what Coach and I both thought). Fueling: 1 bottle of Infinit every hour on the hour mark. 1 Salty Ball every hour on the :30. I didn't screw this up.

I passed my bike off to one of the volunteers and began my walk in to transition. I wasn't in a rush. I had plen-TEE of time. I grabbed by bag and Karen came running screaming my name. Funny one she is, I saw her in Augusta running her race and she wished me well on  my upcoming race.
photo cred: Karen
A volunteer grabbed me this time and took me over where it wasn't so crowded. She helped me shift gears from bike to run. I decided to leave my cycling jersey on which meant I didn't need a fuel belt. I tossed my Gu into the jersey pockets, switched shorts, shoes and grabbed my race belt and I was out. 
T2: 11:01

Heading out on to the run, I turned a corner and saw Felicia. Stopped to say hi to her and she shooed me on. Bye, Felicia! Just a mile in to my run was my mom, dad and Stacy. HUGS for EVERYONE!
Stacy and Dad were in the middle of the road cheering everyone on, Mom was hanging on the side.
My race plan was to run aid station to aid station and walk each station. This would allow me to get in water, fluids and fuel as needed. I tried to stay low Z2 for the first part of my run. I was a little high early on and then settled in. The fun part of the run is that people are moving slow enough to say hello and cheer on.
On the early part of my run I saw Vallee flying to the finish earning her 2nd in AG and a Kona slot! Then I saw Katie and she was crushing it! 6th in age group! Day-um my teammates are incredible. I spotted Betty on her bike. the run is like playing "Where's Waldo." She hung up on Maria to chase me down for a goofy picture. I actually asked her to call Maria back and tell her I had a great swim.  Nadya and I met in the middle for a quick high-5.
I was running. You know, after swimming 2.4 miles and riding 112 miles, it is just logical to run a marathon.
I really need to work on my running posture.
It was a pretty flat course that is a double loop on mostly closed roads and some good cheering groups. Heading back in on my first loop Joe D caught up to me and I held pace with him (he slowed down) for a couple seconds and then I enjoyed harassing him as he ran in to a crazy fast finish. Just after that I saw Les and I thought he would catch me too, but I had to use the port-a-pot and I think he passed by while I was, um, busy. At about mile 12ish I got to hand off my sunglasses and say quick hellos to mom, dad, and Stacy. A very quick stop in special needs to grab my Gu and it was back on my feet.
As I headed back out on my second loop you could tell who was on loop 2 and who was just heading out. Doing what I do, I was chatting up people as I passed them, or ran with them a little. In an attempt to remind myself, as it got later, I started telling other runners it was a beautiful day to be an Ironman.
You hear about hitting the wall. Physically, mentally, I only lost my focus briefly and I wanted to add an extra walk break, but that wasn't the plan and I couldn't come up with a reason to not stick to the plan. I also remembered something Matthew sent me:
Stay Present. Don't project forward.  Don't harp on the past.  Stay in a 5-second window: the three ahead of you, the second you're in, and the second that just passed.  Make decisions in a 5-second window and live here for as much of the day as possible.
I stopped thinking about how many miles were left and just kept running. I synced up with a guy from Philly for miles 23-25. I wish I could remember his name, but when it was all over, everything became a blur. He and I chatted until the last aid station and then he had some pep left, so I assured him he should go. He and his wife (please, you didn't think he was single did you?) found me after the finish area, but there was so much going on I couldn't focus.
I come back in and Stacy is waiting there for me with a huge grin and a big hug.
All that's left is to turn some corners and head to the finish line. I run right into my friend Ron's arms for a huge hug and then it was time to finish the party.
I'm running down the shoot (ok, trotting) and I'm giving out high-5s and I'm trying to find my folks. I knew they would be there. I couldn't find them.
And then I did. I couldn't see them in the spot lights and right as I stepped across the mat, I heard my father. Sad face. I wasn't sure what would happen if I went back over the timing mat so I went to the side, blew them kisses, turned around and there was Felicia!
photo cred: Felecia
Run: 5:15:36 (12 minutes faster than IMFL and faster than my first stand alone marathon). Fuel: Gu about every hour, chicken broth and towards the end cookies and chips (don't judge!)
I got my medal, took my finisher pictures, and finally got to thank Ann for cheering and volunteering all over the course.
I think I look a little happy....
The volunteer who hands you your medal, also walks you through until you see someone you know. First familiar face I see:
Did I mention I have amazing teammates? Vallee and her husband came back out to cheer me in and I got a text from Katie apologizing for not coming back, but she got detained with her parents. What?!? Such great people I've gotten to connect with this year.
Stacy found me and helped me find my folks...
And then these guys who had finished a few hours earlier insisted on see me before heading back to their families.
Rob and Joe are just 2 of the guys that I got to meet because of this race. They were congratulating me on a great race. (Their finish!) We were talking about time and I said I thought I went about 15:30. I had no idea, I was working with the time on the clock and my math was faulty. Rob pulled out athlete tracker and told me my time. You should have seen my eyes light up. I NEVER thought I'd have this great of a race. Apparently everyone else knew, I just wouldn't listen....
Total: 14:26:48

There are so many people to thank I'm going to miss someone and in advance: I'm sorry.

The coaching staff at Dynamo: Maria for not getting frustrated with me and my faulty steering wheel and flat tires; swimming is hard. Shanks for answering questions and helping me work with Champion Systems for Ironwilled. Haley for being awesome. Matthew for patiently waiting for me on the long rides at camp and letting me cry and then not saying a word when I got back on my bike and pedaled away. Thank you Matthew for the email and text around race weekend and for encouraging me and for making me feel just as significant as your athletes you train who podium.

The Dynamo triathletes I got to meet in Chattanooga and Pine Mountain: Thank you for welcoming me into your family. Canada Cat and Linda for showing me that teammates help teammates reach their goals.
photo cred: Vallee
#MyCoachisHot, Brent: Thank you for figuring out how to keep me progressing despite my crazy schedule in the spring with lacrosse. And working around my commitments with Ironwilled: Kids who Tri in the summer and every other thing I wanted to put into my schedule this training cycle. Thank you for listening to me and encouraging me and believing in me when I didn't believe in myself. Thank you for being at Lake Logan all the way till the end. Thank you for riding with me my last 14 miles of my first ever 120 and then even running with me. Thank you for encouraging me to get out of my comfort zone. Thank you for the perfect race plan. Thank you for coaching me beyond just putting workouts into Training Peaks.

Stacy: Thank you for encouraging me to join the Dynamo Family. I used to not like when you would tell people, "Shawna isn't the fastest athlete, but she has more heart and determination than anyone you'll ever meet." I now know what an incredible compliment that is. Thank you for being an amazing friend and mentor. #womenbeshopping

Eric: For many many long rides.

The Louisville Smack talk group: For many many laughs and for allowing me to be a fly on the wall of the men's locker room.

Ironwilled: Women Who TRI: My tribe. Y'all are awesome. Period.

My family: I know you think I'm completely nuts but you love me anyway.

What's next? I am taking a year off from 140.6. This had actually been determined Labor Day weekend. No matter what happened in Louisville, I was cutting back on distance to focus on some other things. Am I returning, who knows? Let's see what life brings my way. Maybe I'll start dating again, I know y'all miss the stories and Facebook posts. I also have some personal things I need to spend some time focused on.

What I do know is this: I am sticking with Dynamo and I'm staying on Team Brent.

Much love and respect and thanks to everyone who played even the smallest part of me reaching the finish line at Ironman Lourisville.

I had: If you have gotten this far wow....but instead, let's end with:


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Too Many Thoughts to Keep Bottled Up....

"You've been really quiet this year." "I was just going to message you and ask you if I'd missed your blog postings."

Pretty sure I've mentioned before that I didn't have much to say this go round. I made a conscious decision a few months ago to deactivate every and any dating profile that I had posted anywhere. It wasn't that I was/am opposed to dating, I just decided I didn't have the time or emotional energy to put in to forcing it. That means I have no dating stories. No good. No bad. No ugly. Simply no tales to be shared.

So let's talk training. Ironman Louisville is in like 20 days or something ridiculous like that. I'm really trying not to do a count down. I'm out of the primary Facebook group for IMLOU. It just doesn't have the same vibe as the IMFL group and after one too many panic emails to coach he finally said, "I need you to leave that group. Please." So I did. I've also unfollowed a bunch of people who are posting countdowns and panic postings. I just can't right now. I'm really trying to focus on me.

The most current panic (weather watches haven't started yet) is the green slime in the Ohio River. Nothing like a national organization saying don't touch the water. There is nothing I can do about the river. If WTC/IM tells me to get in the water, I'm getting in. If they tell us the swim is canceled...well, I've been there before and already have a 138.2 badge for my Road ID.

Before I posted that there wasn't a lot of new this training cycle. There weren't new distances to report. And this stuff is just what I do. Here is what was different this training cycle: I was CONSTANTLY out of my comfort zone.

My bike and I went to:
We didn't just ride our bikes, we cheered too!
  • the Gaps with ITL and thankfully Angela rode with me (sag/coaches were great too).
Top of the last climb with Angela and a foggy camera
It went really well.
  • Chattanooga for tri camp with my coaching team, Dynamo Multisport. Amazing patient coaches and my first 100 of the training cycle with teammates I hadn't met yet who are incredible athletes and super nice.
Photo credit: @WeAreDynamo
  • Louisville, KY to meet up with a handful of women from Ironwilled: Women who TRI to preview the course.
Could not have asked for better tour guides or company for the weekend
  • Pine Mountain, GA for another tri camp with even more amazing athletes, patient coaches and my very first EVER 120 mile ride followed up with 70 miles (okay fine, 69 miles) the next day.
Me ruining a great picture by laughing. Photo cred: Vallee
  • of course weekly trips to the Bud Plant and Silk Sheets (local riding routes) with different friends.
I started going to a Masters Swimming program at Dynamo Swim Club. I've been assured I've improved, but I am usually the first one in the water and the last one out to make sure I get the yardage I needed for my workout. As I explained to someone today, I could swim somewhere else and maybe be in the middle of the pack. But, if I really want to get better, I need to train with the best.

I started going to a computrainer class. Think spin class but on your own bike.

I cheered a bunch of races and even got a chance to provide kayak support. Not because the athletes I am coaching were racing but because it's FUN!

I've been dropped on more rides than I can count. I've also been supported and encouraged and never been made to feel inferior. I got the best compliment from one of my coaches. (I say "one of" because while I have my coach, you know: #mycoachishot, the best byproduct from going to tri camp: I got to know the others coaches and they got to know me.) I told this coach that everyone was so nice and supportive and she told me I earned their respect. I didn't have to be as fast as they were, they respected my work ethic and perseverance.

Coaching with Brent and the Dynamo team has been a really amazing experience for me. And humbling. And encouraging. And frustrating. And absolutely the right choice. I'm going to keep working on becoming more comfortable in my own skin. (Remember, I've acknowledged before I can give anyone a pep talk, but my internal monologue isn't quite as positive.) I've already discussed next year's goals with Brent and we've agreed to continue working together. (Thank God! I've bought a ton of Dynamo clothing to intersperse with my Ironwilled stuff!)

I have similar race anxiety that I did leading up to IMFL. I know this: I have worked my ass off. I've followed the plan I was given. I've been committed 100% to the training/process. You could almost say I should be committed. October 11, 2015 you will find  me jumping into the Ohio River and I'm going to keep going until I cross the finish line or someone tells me my day is done. There are no guarantees on race day, but I promise you this: I'll give it the best I've got. And to answer your question: Yes, I'm ready.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Some Days You are the Windshield....

This weekend was the Lake Logan 70.3 Triathlon. Many of you know it as a half Ironman, but let's remember that Ironman is a brand much like Band-aid or Kleenex.. Just sayin' and moving on....


The original plan for the weekend was to head up to Asheville with Lisa and sherpa for each other as my race was Saturday and hers was to be Sunday. Unfortunately, Lisa is sidelined for the season and we will have to carry out these plans next year. Dropping back to plan B...with Lisa's help, I booked a bed in the "Women's Dorm" at the Lake Logan Episcopal Center. Dorm isn't quite right, camp bunk with foam mattress is pretty accurate. However, after hearing about the traffic nightmare from last year, I decided it was worth the cost for the convenience. Blah blah blah, yada yada yada...let's get to the point.

I get to the sight at about 7pm. Packet pick up is until 7pm. I rush over and manage to get my stuff. Then it's off to settle in and figure out what needs to be hiked up to the dorm and what doesn't. I had frozen my Infinit bottles (liquid fuel for the bike) because I didn't know what kind of resources I'd have for mixing etc. I pulled the ice out of the cooler and left the bottles in the cooler with the lid up.

Fast forward to the next morning, I'm up, dressed and down at the car prepping my bike to walk down to transition. Air in the tires. Stickers on the bike/helmet. My bottles are still frozen. Yea yea, never freeze your nutrition. But I was trying to figure out how to keep my nutrition cold/fresh with no refrigeration or ice. Yes, it bit me in the ass. I set up my aero bottle and dumped what I could from each of the 4 bottles into it. Then we took room temperature water and created an ice bath in the cooler. I'm not sure why at the time I thought that would work in 5 minutes...but we tried anyway. then I poured water into the other bottles and put them on my bike. Nadya was with me and offered up an extra bottle of Osmo. Never drank the stuff, but it was liquid and she was offering.

Down to transition eating a PB&J and banana for breakfast, my usual.

Set up transition, wander around visiting with some, using the bathroom like 5 times and finding my coach. He gave me a last minute pep talk and I told him I was trying to figure out how to do a 15 minute jog to warm up with the sneakers I need to run in the dark on gravel trails with transition closing in 10 minutes. He said to skip it.
Coach had a few athletes racing today, I was very appreciative that he was there.
I went back in to transition to grab my goggle and cap and stared at a Huma gel I had brought with me to eat before the swim. I decided I didn't want it, and left it there. (am I foreshadowing enough?)

Off to get ready to swim. Wetsuit adjusted (THANKS Mike!) and the swim waves started. We started the swim from in the water and it was a nice calm start. I got settled and I started swimming. With purpose. Fingers together, catch and pull, just keep swimming.
The swim was beautiful!
Halfway through the swim, I begin to think I might be hungry. I should have taken that gel. As we approach the exit out of the swim, the water temperature drops about 10 degrees. Until then, the lake was amazing. I get pulled up and out of the water and BOTH calves seize.
How I imagine I looked.
Mandy assures me I was not whimpering, I was straight up screaming and crying. I hear there are pictures, but I couldn't find them when I wanted to publish this report. I wasn't the first and I wasn't the last. The medical staff came over and started stretching me. I couldn't stand up. Both calves were so knotted and tight and I don't remember the last time I felt that much pain. Eventually I regained my breath and my ability to use my legs and wandered towards transition. I couldn't even tell you what the medic looked like. I probably didn't even say thank you. I was truly numb to everything but the pain.

1.2 mile swim: 39:09 and that includes my injured seal impersonation on the dock. THRILLED!

Into transition and I take a quick lick of Base salt which is supposed to help with the cramping and I look at the Huma gel on my towel. Brush off my feet, roll on my socks. Shoes, glasses, helmet, grab my bike and go.

T1: 5:41 (Huma gel unopened, on the towel)

Out of transition and I could hear Coach and his crew cheering me on. Sorry I didn't acknowledge you Coach, but I heard you and thanks! Off I went. This was the piece of the day I was really worried about. I knew there was a tough hill around mile 40. I also knew there was a lot of climbing period. We climbed our way out and then there was a steep s-turn downhill. The roads were slick from the morning dew and a woman in front of my completely wiped out into the ditch. I was going too fast, if I tried to stop too quickly, I was going to join her. Then I heard 2 people behind me ask if she was okay. I really hope she was because not stopping to check on her weighed on me for almost all of the ride. I had a huge internal debate about what to do and I just kept hoping that the women behind me stopped because I didn't and I still feel pretty awful about that.

56 miles of hills. Not 52 like last year, 56. Of hills. Of climbs and descents. Climbs and descents. I never saw a map of the route and I didn't get to drive it. I went in blind. My Garmin says I had about  3169 feet of climbing over those 56 miles. I started sipping on my Infinit and it was really sweet. I kept riding. I was given a pretty aggressive race plan and I was trying to keep to it. I was supposed to go out in Zone 2 for the first 15 miles, then high Zone 2/low Zone 3 for the next 21 miles, and then Zone 3 for the last push.

Side note: Coach and I talked and he reminded me I am not a first year long course triathlete and it's time for me to start pushing myself in races. As a matter of fact, the opening line of my race plan was: At the edge of exhaustion there is a lot of learning to be done. Get yourself tired and let's find out even more. (masochist!)

When given the chance, my heartrate recovers pretty quick. However, if I even look at a hill, I hit Z3. Guess where I spent almost my entire ride?

Bike course elevation. Extra credit if you can pick the spot I dropped my first F-bomb at a hill.
I tried to take it easy in the beginning and push a bit more towards the end. Matter of fact, I had resolved myself to really try and follow the plan for the ride.
Back to the ride.... It went fairly well. I drank the first bottle of fuel in about an hour fifteen and refilled while rolling. I took a sip. Tasted like water. Crap. I go through this bottle and refilled. Tastes like water. Crap. I'm past 3 hours on the bike (this doesn't surprise anyone and I planned on 4 bottles) so I dump the bottle of Osmo in. It doesn't taste like much, but I've never had it before, so I don't know what it's supposed to taste like.

Triathlon 101: You fuel on the bike to prepare for the run. (Come on, surely you see what's coming?)

I'm pleased with my bike. I conquered every hill even though I watched people dismount and walk. I rode straight through without stopping, the first time since IMFL I have ridden for 56 miles without at least 1 stop. I'm feeling pretty good about myself. Going up the toughest hill at about mile 42 I just kept saying to myself and out loud: "up and over", "I don't quit", "You are stronger than you think...I am stronger than I think....I am strong." Boom!

56 mile bike: 3:43:40

I come in off the bike and into T2, rack my bike, switch shoes, grab my hat and run out. The Huma gel is still sitting there.

T2: 3:03:10

Coming out of the run I see Coach. He spots me and runs and chats briefly with me. Quick pep talk. I told him the bike was really hard but I did it. He reminds me nothing but positive talk on the way up. I say on the way up because the run course is two loops and about 3.5 miles uphill before you turn around and come back down.

The plan was for me to go out for the first 6.2 miles (2 5ks) in Zone 2. Nice and easy and get my legs under me. I stayed in Z3 the entire first 10k. I couldn't get my heart rate down. It wouldn't drop. The for the 3rd 5k, I'm to push a little, low end of Z3. 4th 5k was to be a Z3 run and the last mile was to give it whatever I had left. Good plan on paper. I just couldn't execute it.

Anyway, I turn the corner and Mandy is there. She takes a few steps with me and I have a lump in my chest, I can't breathe. I can't catch my breath. I don't know what's going on. I get myself together and I put together a mile run. and that would be the last complete mile I run without walking. I could blame the course. But it wasn't the course.
The run course

It really wasn't that bad.  But I couldn't get my head and my legs to agree. My quads and my calves hurt so bad. My head would say run, my legs would say no. I tried some more Base, it didn't do it. When my legs were ready to run, my head said no. At one point the pain from my calf radiated down to my Achilles. I drank lots of water. I poured water on my head. I sucked on ice. Something in my stomach just wasn't right. Finally about 45 minutes in I stopped and went to the bathroom, but it didn't help. I think around mile 4 or 5 I finally ate a gel.

The course screwed with your head. You came out of transition and saw all your friends. Then you went up hill for 3.5 miles (or so) then you came back to that same corner saw your friends and had to run into a field on grass/gravel and head right to the finishing shoot, but stay to the left for your second lap. Then you ran back out right by your friends. Oh, and back up hill.

By the time I started my second lap it looked like the set of the Walking Dead. It looked like everyone was a zombie. Coach caught me going back out and promised to still be there when I finished. I told him everything hurt, including my jaw, and it was going to be a while.

I started playing games with myself. The street was lined with cones. I would run, and then walk 2 cones. Then I would run 10 cones and walk again. I knew I wasn't going to quit, but if I said I didn't think about it, I'd be lying.

It was without a doubt the hardest and most miserable run of my 'career'. It was harder than my first marathon.

Splits: 11:59, 12:20, 13:34, 13:26, 12:29, 11:56, 13:39, 14:35, 14:43, 14:32, 13:33, 14:05 and then my watch died.

Run: 02:54:47

Total: 07:26:15

My Garmin says I burned about 3000 calories during the triathlon. Let's assume my peanut butter and jelly sandwich was 330 calories and my banana was 105. MAYBE I got about 600 calories on my bike. 100 calories for the Huma gel. So quick math tells me I took in about 1000 calories to a 3000 calorie expenditure. YOU CAN'T RUN A CAR ON EMPTY! I got myself into such a hole, I just couldn't climb out of it.

What did I learn:
  • don't freeze your nutrition
  • I need a back up plan for fuel on the bike
  • I need to start fueling my training runs whether I think I need it or not. I haven't been using anything but water on my long runs, because the long runs have been at Z2 and less than 2 hours. However, I think that bit me in the ass, because I didn't have the habit of fueling whether I wanted it or not
  • I am not the swiftest, but I CAN climb on my bike.
  • My swim has really improved
  • I'm going to have bad days, but I'm not a quitter (about 60 people DNF'd for various reasons)
  • The reality of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is sometimes mistakes get made.
  • I have come such a long way and I AM much stronger than I give myself credit for physically and mentally.
Coach actually wasn't there when I finished because he went out on the course to look for me. Somehow I must have turned a corner and was blocked from his view. When he did find me he gave me a hug, I cried, and he told me many things one of which was:

I spent Saturday night with the plan of cheering the next day of races. This meant I got to hang out with Mandy and Dana and destroy some Dairy Queen Blizzards. I had calories to replace! Lots of laughing, interrupting each other, laughing and interrupting each other interrupted by interrupting each other. So.Much.Fun!
There was an International and a Sprint the next day. Mandy and I went out to cheer, me in the bright pink wig. Mandy knows some of the race staff and they asked her if she'd man a kayak for swim support. I agreed to as well, pink wig and all!
It was quite a different vantage point of the event. I love cheering and encouraging people on their run, but the opportunity to be in the water was incredible. 3 different people came up to me and told me if not for me, they would have DNF'd the swim. I just used the same mind tricks that were shared with me yesterday: breathe, look around because this place is beautiful, and you aren't quitting. I also kayaked the last male novice in to the dock. He finished his first triathlon today.
Mandy and me after kayaking and helping make sure all swimmers got out safely.
After kayaking we went up on to the run to cheer. After we saw the last person finish we called it a day. I took the opportunity to return to the seen of the crime.
 Next project: Unload the car. It looks like a tri store exploded in there.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I've Been Quiet....

I haven't written much lately. Even when I thought I had something to say, I just didn't feel like saying it. I didn't even tell you all about my last race.

This training cycle has been weird. Lacrosse season took more out of me than usual as I was reffing full time in addition to being at my day job as much as possible and training. It's my second time around, so the distance aren't new, I've done it before. I almost regret signing up for another 140.6 without taking the year off I had been planning to. However, I'm not a quitter so I'm in it till the finish line in Louisville. Then, well then the goals shift again.

I'm starting to stress less about Louisville. I've even appeased my coach and switched from #longroadtolou to #roadtolou. I just keep chipping away at my training schedule. My swim is much stronger. My run is good enough for my goals. The bike...the bike is incredibly frustrating. However, I had a breakthrough ride 2 weekends ago when I got up Big Sister without walking and this past weekend when I didn't hate my bike. My pace was slightly swifter than the last long ride as well. Seriously: I didn't hate my bike.

Me at the top of Big Sister. Photo by Kent Ruby
There's been a lot of interpersonal bullsh!t going on also. I finally threw up my hands this morning and walked away. Texts were deleted so I can't revisit. Phone numbers were blocked and set to auto reject. I've got bigger fish to fry in my life than to put up with someone either directly or passive aggressively getting in the way. This morning at the encouragement and logical advice of a valued friend...I walked away.

This summer Amy and I kicked off an Ironwilled Kids group. We've been working with about 5 families and it looks like everyone who participated with us will be completing a triathlon in just a couple weeks. Unfortunately for me, I am already committed to Lake Logan 70.3 that weekend, so I will be looking forward to hearing about their successes. It's been a huge time commitment, but we were lucky, everyone (kids and parents) were terrific to work with. We are looking forward to seeing if we can grow it more next year. Thank you All3 Sports and Big Peach Running, Co for all your support this inaugural season.
Special thanks to All3 Sports for being our host every Sunday rain or shine.
Special thanks to Big Peach Running, Co in Marietta for leading our skill work every other week
Much to Barry's disappointment I am not dating anyone nor am I trying to. If someone were to come around organically, that'd be fine. However I have no interest in the screening and interview process of on line dating. Or maybe it's because I still have short hair.
My brother shared this with me last week.
Not that you didn't know that these are my thoughts and my thoughts alone, but I'll remind you: This is my take on the world. I think one of the reasons I've have less I want to share this training cycle is because I know I am a long course triathlete. Running for 2 hours isn't remarkable to me. Riding my bike for 5 hours isn't unusual. I'm not even batting an eye at the 3600 yard (just about 2 miles) swim workout I'll complete tomorrow morning before work. I no longer surprise myself at what I accomplish in a workout. Truth be told, some of my paces I'm so not happy with, I don't want to share. If you are really curious about my training, you can find me on strava.

To my friends who have provided company on many a long ride or run THANK YOU! And to the Monday night swim crew...thanks for waiting for me on the other side. Trackside Taqueria for dinner next week!

Maybe I'll start writing again more often, who knows....