Archive for the 'triathlon' Category

Ironman Texas 2014

When I stopped blogging a year ago, I needed to make more room in my life for my family and training, and that’s exactly what I did. I made much simpler meals, spent a whole lot of quality time on my bike, in the pool, and in my running shoes, and stopped spending so much time on my computer. It was great! In the days following Ironman, I realized I wanted to post my race recap, even though I’m not sure anyone reads here anymore. It just felt right to come back and talk about the race that I set out to do a year ago. So here’s how Ironman Texas went down!

Pre Race
All my stuff had to be in transition the day before, so race morning was pretty chill. I woke up at 4:50, ate a bagel with peanut butter and drank some water. I got all my swim stuff ready to go and we headed to transition, where I put my nutrition on my bike, pumped up my tires, and started the one mile walk to the swim start.
I got there, found my family, and relaxed by the lake as the sun came up. I drank my Osmo pre-hydration drink but was too nervous to eat anything. I told my dad and husband I expected the swim would take about an hour and a half. When they announced that the pros were starting in a few minutes, I zipped up my wetsuit and made my way into the water

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The Swim
I was lucky to get into the water about 10 minutes before my race, so I swam around a little bit and then floated on my back and took deep breaths. The morning was absolutely beautiful – clear, calm, and WETSUIT LEGAL!

I stayed near the back of the pack and before I knew it, the cannon went off and I started swimming.
There was a LOT of contact during the swim, but none of it was violent, which was a huge relief. I found a rhythm pretty quickly and tried to find some open water, which was hard because it was basically like swimming in coffee – I couldnt even see my hands when they were in front of me, so I found myself basically on top of people without realizing it.

The buoys were numbered but I couldn’t remember how many there were in each direction, so I just assumed there were 10 and was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the first turn buoy appeared. After turning around, sighting got a lot harder because were swimming directly into the sun. The second half in the open lake FLEW by and I was shocked when we turned into the canal, knowing the swim was already more than ⅔ complete. I had heard the canal would be really tough because it was so narrow, but it wasn’t bad at all. It was really fun to be able to see spectators on both sides. The canal felt like it was taking a lot longer than the lake, but my arms felt really good. All of the sudden I realized people were stopped and we were at the stairs out of the water. I climbed up as the announcer said the age groupers were at 1:13. I couldn’t believe I’d gotten through the swim that fast.

I ran up to the wetsuit strippers (best feature EVER!), grabbed my bike bag, and headed into the transition tent. I sunscreened up, changed my clothes, and did what I thought was a great job of applying body glide every possible place (uh, not quite). I ran out to my bike and hopped on. I saw my family as I got on the bike and headed out. (T1: 5:50)

on bike

The bike
The weather was still nice and cool, and I decided to take everyone’s advice and go SUPER easy at first. People were FLYING past me but I knew I had to stick to my plan. I ate a picky bar right away (I was already feeling hungry) and started in on one of my two bottles of Fizz. My plan for the bike was to eat 4 Picky Bars, drink 2 bottles (~500 calories each) of perpetuem and drink Fizz at first, switching to water with salt tabs later.

The first 35 miles were awesome, even though I was getting passed by EVERYONE. I wasn’t wearing a Garmin, so I had no idea how my speed was, but the road was really smooth and it was cool and beautiful. I was working on my Perpetuem, drinking lots of water and Fizz, and having a fantastic time. Not much later I realized I REALLY had to pee. I thought for like 30 seconds about peeing on the bike, but then a few people passed who obviously had, and they smelled so bad I realized I just couldn’t do it. At mile 40 I stopped to reapply sunscreen and go to the bathroom. The next 10 miles it started to get a little warmer but I stuck to my plan drinking lots of water (by then I was done with the fizz and onto salt tabs about every 12-15 miles).

Somewhere around the 50 mile mark the roads changed to really crappy chip seal and I started noticing the wind. It was heating up, and I started to feel like it was going to be a long day (I mean, obivously. 112 miles on the bike IS a long way…). I stopped to pee again at mile 60 (bummed to have to wait in line for 5+ minutes but feeling like it was worth it not to end up in the med tent with an IV because I didn’t hydrated) and pick up my second bottle of perpetuem and another picky bar from my special needs bag.

The next 25 or so miles I was in a dark place. The wind was strong, the hills (yes, there really WERE hills) were getting to me, and it was getting hot. I was pouring ice water all over myself at every aid station, but the shaking from the crappy pavement was just making me tired. FINALLY we turned onto 1488, the section of road I had seen during my 45 minute ride on Thursday, and the road improved tremendously. The wind was no longer straight on, and I picked it up and passed a few people. A cop said “only 15 to go!” and I realized that the bike portion was eventually going to end!

The last 15 had lots of turns through neighborhoods and it was still pretty hot. I was thinking to myself “they expect me to RUN A MARATHON after this?! How the hell is that going to happen!?” My legs were tired, my neck was sore from being in aero, and my butt NEEDED to get off the saddle. I finally made it back to transition, handed off my bike, and jogged into the tent. (7:02:05 on the bike)

bike in

My volunteer was AMAZING. She poured water over my head, saying “I know it’s cold, but you need it!” and put vaseline on the underside of my arms. She sent me out of the tent to the sunscreen people and somehow, life re-entered my legs. I saw that the race clock was somewhere around 8:40 and thought I had a chance at being somewhere around 13 hours, but I quickly shoved that idea out of my head knowing there was still tons of work to do. (T2: 5 minutes)

The Run
I saw my family as I ran out of transition and entered the waterway. It was like a huge party and I was immediately energized. People were so enthusiastic, the music was so loud, and I felt pretty fresh. I decided to see if I could run the whole first lap.

sunscreen

I started out by alternating Perform and Coke at each aid station because I didn’t feel like my stomach could handle solid food. My legs felt great and I settled into a manageable pace. It didn’t feel as hot as it had on the bike, and I happily watched the miles tick by. There were some great signs on the course (“If this were easy, it would be called crossfit” and “if your relationship is still functional, you didn’t train hard enough were two of my favorites) and my aid station plan of drinking some calories and dumping water over my head seemed to be working. I skipped my special needs bag and kept running through the neighborhoods and back towards the waterway. I remember hitting mile 6 thinking “this is the marathon and I feel great! I can do this!” I saw my family again and they yelled that I looked really strong (which is how I felt!) and kept on my merry way.

As I started the second lap, I had the same feeling that I had at Wildflower – like someone was squeezing my chest. I knew I needed some more calories, but I also felt really sick to my stomach. I stopped to use the bathroom at mile 10 which helped a little bit, but I knew I was going to need some food. I tried some chomps at one aid station and then potato chips (I love them during trail runs but it was an AWFUL idea here!) at another, but I still felt really nauseated. At the aid station just before mile 13, someone offered grapes and I took them. AMAZING! They were exactly what I needed, so I took a small handful of them at each of the next few aid stations (as well as Ice down the bra and a cold sponge on my back).

As I started my third loop, I was feeling a lot better. I started thinking about actually finishing the race, and was so happy that I’d managed to run everything except for my aid station walk breaks. My legs were starting to feel a dull pain, but I focused on each mile as it came. I skipped my special needs bag again because I was feeling good, and was sad that the lululemon cheer station was already gone (they were so great the first two laps!) I was passing a lot of people who were walking, watching the miles tick by, and trying not to get ahead of myself knowing I still had about an hour out on the course. As I hit the waterway for the last time, my IT band was feeling a little sore but I kept moving. My family wasn’t in the same spot they had been, but they had moved down closer to the finish line. I yelled “I’m going to do this! See you at the finish!” and almost burst into tears on the spot. I still had about 3 miles left to go, and I could feel myself slowing down.

run

I kept a steady jog around the last few turns and out and backs, and FINALLY hit the branch-off point to the finish line. I could hear Mike Reilly announcing names and got a surge of energy as the finish line came into view. The music was loud, people were cheering, and I high-fived a bunch of people lining the finish chute. I was so overwhelmed to see a time in the 12s, and trying so hard not to cry that I didn’t hear my name, but it didn’t matter.

finish

I tried to soak up every precious second as I ran towards the finish line, so relieved and exhausted and elated and surprised. The day had been such an amazing mix of emotions, filled with such fabulous volunteers, high fives from my daughter, encouragement from my family, cheers from thousands of strangers, and most of all, an overwhelming feeling of gratitude that my body was able to carry me through this race and the grueling weeks of training.

12:53:25. I AM AN IRONMAN.

family

Wildflower Long Course 2013

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.” – John Wooden

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Good news: I did something this weekend.  I made a pretty stupid mistake with regards to nutrition, but I am still completely in love with Wildflower and am determined to go back next year and do it right!

Let’s back up a little bit.  I signed up for this race last summer, knowing it would be a tough one because a)the course is insane and it’s always hot, b)it would be my first triathlon in about 5 years, and c)I had no idea how I would juggle full-time teaching, being Ellie’s mom, and putting in enough training.  I added swimming and cycling to my workout routine in December, and kicked into full-on training mode 12 weeks ago, stepping it up to 12 hours a week. (I wrote about my schedule here).  My goal was to beat my Vineman time from 2005 (the only other 70.3 I’d ever done, and which I didn’t train enough for ), 6:28:43.  I knew this course was a lot harder, but I’d trained a lot too.

I had no idea how much I’d come to love training.  I found a group to do my long weekend rides with, started swimming with a Master’s group, and ran a bunch of early morning miles with Aron.  I also had a few great workout with Page and Jana.  It was a lot of time in the pool, on the trainer, and on the roads, but I loved it.

As the race got closer, I didn’t have the sort of nervousness (and almost dread) that I usually get with full marathons.  I was just really excited to get out there and do my best.  Even on our drive down to Lake San Antonio on Friday, I was super pumped but not really nervous.  When we got to the lake, we set up our campsite (one of the best things about Wildflower is that so many people camp on site) and headed down to the lake for a quick shake-out swim.  It felt awesome.  Then we went up to the expo to hang out…and I met Jesse Thomas! He ended up winning his third Wildflower in a row.  Awesome!

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I saw his adorably pregnant wife (pro runner Lauren Fleshman) hanging out at the booth too, but didn’t realize she was taking this picture.

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Pretty cool.

After checking out the expo, I rode my bike up Lynch Hill for a little confidence boost.  I felt relaxed and strong, and ready to race the next morning.  After an early pasta dinner, I went to bed pretty early and slept really well until about 6 AM.

I distinctly remember the feeling of dread when I woke up the in the morning the last time I did this race.  It was in 2008, and I was doing the Olympic distance.  It was cold and I just didn’t feel like getting out there and getting in the water.  I didn’t have anything like that this time! I was still just really excited to go have fun on the course.

My wave started an hour and 10 minutes after the first one, so we hung out and watched pretty much everyone start the race.  The water was wetsuit legal for everyone but the elites (it was 70 degrees) and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to wear mine or not.  I ended up wearing it and was so glad I did.

Swim: 37:59

I know I’m not a strong swimmer, so the added buoyancy of the wetsuit REALLY helped me out.  I started right in the middle of my wave and the crowd didn’t really thin out for about 600 meters.  At one point my goggles were kicked off, but I managed to make it through without too many collisions.  I felt really good the entire time and was shocked to see my time on the clock.

T1: 4:25

The ramp up to transition is LONG so I walked it, trying to keep my heart rate down.  When I got to my bike, it felt like it took forever to take my wetsuit off and get my shoes on, and I kept feeling like I was forgetting something.

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Bike: 3:33:06

The first 30 miles of the bike were amazing.  The countryside is totally beautiful and I was passing a lot of guys (a benefit of being in the first wave of women after every single man has already started).  I had two full bottles of Perpeteum, plus an aero bottle on the front that was full of water.  I also had a bento box with some Shot Bloks and two Gus.

I ate a couple of Shot Bloks and was really consistent about drinking, but around mile 30 I started to really fade.  I knew that things got a lot harder around mile 40 so I just kept drinking, but for some reason it never occurred to me that I wasn’t taking in enough calories.  I later realized that over the whole bike course I probably only had about 45o when I should have had 700. Oops.

Nasty grade really hurt, as expected, but was honestly not as bad as I was anticipating.  I was so happy I’d ridden up Diablo during training – that makes ANY hill feel short!  My heart rate was through the roof and I felt really weak but I made it to the top, and even though I was fairly under-fueled, I kept pushing until the final descent into transition.

T2: 2:19

I was shocked to see that my time for T2.  I was a little disoriented and almost ran out with my helmet… I felt like I was moving in slow motion as I switched shoes, sprayed on some more sunscreen, and put a Gu in each pocket of my shorts.

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Run: 2:25:16

And here is where it all went downhill (not literally, unfortunately).  I saw Mike right after leaving transition and he asked how it was going.  I said something like “hanging in there” but I did not feel good at all. My legs were completely fine, but it felt like someone had compressed my lungs, and my heart was racing.  I started walking and hardly ran at all the first 6 miles.  I never doubted that I would finish for some reason, but I just figured I’d have to walk the entire run course.

Before the race, whenever I talked to anyone about the long course, they warned about Nasty Grade, but nobody ever said ANYTHING about the run!  The first five miles are full of steep, hot, dusty hills and if you haven’t eaten enough, it is completely miserable.  I stupidly thought I was getting a decent number of calories from the Gatorade I was taking at each aid station, but that obviously wasn’t the case.

Somewhere around mile 4, I started talking with a guy who was also having a rough time, and we stayed together for awhile.  I told him I felt like someone had secretly moved the course up to 15,000 feet because I just couldn’t take in enough oxygen. He asked if I had eaten enough, and it wasn’t until then that I realized I really hadn’t.  I took a Gu at the next aid station, and it tasted AMAZING.  Within half a mile, I was breathing normally and running again.

I ran every step of the last 6.5 miles, taking a second Gu at mile 9 and water at each aid station.  I was passing tons of people and felt like I could run forever.  Amazing what a difference a boost in blood sugar can make.

When I reached mile 11, I knew I only had one more mile left before I got to float down Lynch hill and finish.  There was loud music right at the top of the hill and the lake came into view.  I started running as fast as I could down the hill, and when the finish chute finally came into view, I almost started crying.  This race I’d set out to do so many months ago was almost done, and I was going to finish strong.

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I saw Mike just as I hit the last straightaway and gave him a thumbs up.  I knew I’d missed my goal by a considerable amount, but at that point I didn’t care at all.  I didn’t give up when it seemed like I would have to walk the whole thing, and I managed to turn it around and end the race on a super positive note.

This race will forever be my favorite.  There just isn’t any other event out there like it.  This was my fourth year at Lake San Antonio (one year as a volunteer, two years racing the Olympic distance) and I can’t imagine not going back again.  The challenge of the course, the energy of all the competitors, the fun community of the campground… I don’t think I’ll ever love another event this much.

I can’t wait to go back next year having learned from my fueling mistake!

6:43:05
26/82 AG
136/414 overall

A new bike PDR!

I never want to not ride my bike with friends.  This Saturday was perfect.

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Page had 60 miles on the schedule and invited Jana and me along.  A route was mapped and we met up bright and early in Pleasanton to hit the road.  I’ve never ridden anywhere down there, and it was beautiful.

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It was partly cloudy and most of the roads were blissfully free of cars.  We saw llamas, sheep, horses, and cows.  We chatted about training and life. It was mostly flat and the miles were flying by.  And then we hit Patterson pass.

patterson ride

That’s that HUGE hill between 30 and 40 miles.  The worst thing about it is the false summit.  You climb for a couple miles, think you see the top, and then once you round that corner, you’re met with an even steeper hill.  I honestly thought my heart was going to explode and my legs were absolutely dead by the time we made it to the top.

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We stopped for the essentials (pictures and a Vine video, obviously), then flew down the other side and back to Pleasanton.  Page realized we weren’t quite going to hit 60 miles…it would be more like 56.  That’s the farthest I’d ever ridden (as part of the half Ironman I did in 2005) so we tacked on a little loop through downtown and ended up with 57.7, a new personal distance record!

As soon as we finished, we threw on running shoes and did a quick 15 minute run.  A HUGE confidence-building workout with the best company I could ask for!

 



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