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.


  1. I am totally bookmarking this for my first 70.3 in September! thanks for the recap :)

  2. I know those awful cramps too well. I began replacing all water from like Tue/Wed before a weekend race with Nuun - so like 5-6 tabs per day. Then the day before all Nuun switched to Coconut water which has more salt and elctrolytes than anything on the market (I have to add some drops of flavor to make it taste good.) I also eat salty foods 2-3 days pre-race... pretzels, sandwhich meat, etc. Not drinking enough on the bike in Augusta when I did it slowed my run.. no amount of salt tabs was going to fix what I already screwed up. It's all a learning process. Hope your calves feel better - mine were sore for days after cramping so severely.