Monday, October 27, 2014

The do-over is done... #ppdb2b

Thankfully, this race had a different ending than Chattanooga four weeks ago.  Had it not, this post would have been an ad to sell my bike.  :)

It was back to Wilmington for Beach2Battleship last weekend.  This was my third time at this race so it has started to feel like home.  If you need to know anything about B2B, ask me.  Seriously, I could write the athlete guide at this point.  As I mentioned in my last post, there was a debacle getting my race bib.  Long story that ended with my bib number being assigned only a few days before the race.  I didn't find out my race number until I checked in.  As I expected, it ended up being '666' which in an odd way ended up more of a blessing than a curse.  The race number was the topic of conversation pretty much all weekend.

Since this is my 'home' race, I felt very relaxed going into the race.  Met up with some friends for the pre-race athlete dinner which was well worth the $1 entry fee.  They had a good assortment of veggies, salad, pasta and chicken.  A little something for everyone and tasty too.  Not your typical pre-race pasta dinner.  

a little sparring with the devil

Sweet trucker hat race SWAG
Woke up about an hour before my alarm on race morning.  There was no going back to sleep so I checked out Facebook for a bit.  This entry was in my feed.  It felt very appropriate for the day...  that was my plan - to finish with joy.

After I updated myself on all things social media, I got up and ate some yogurt, a banana and the first of three uncrustables for the day.  (apparently it has become my go to food).  This was a good sign considering in Chattanooga I couldn't choke down even half of the yogurt.  

My friend, Meredith, was also doing the full so we met up at the bus to start our journey.  It was nice to have someone to hang with at the start and someone to look for on the course throughout the day.  We did all the usual bag dropping, bike prepping, uncrustable eating, etc. and made our way to the swim start.  Before we knew it, Eminem was blasting over the loudspeakers and we were off.  

The current was with us this year and I was out of the water in good time with only minor hand to hand combat.  I took one good breaststroke kick to the shoulder but, other than that, the swim was not too bad.  I made the rookie mistake of stopping at the smallest female wetsuit stripper I could find and ended up helping her help me with the wetsuit.  LOL.  It took me at least 60 seconds.  What was I thinking?  ALWAYS go to the big burly guy to get the wetsuit stripped!  In the scheme of things, not that much time but if you know how quick that process can be 60 seconds to get your wetsuit stripped feels like forever.  Wetsuit off, fresh water shower and on to T1.

The weather was around 50ish warming to 75 throughout the day so I decided not to change for the bike.  Helmet on, shoes on and I was out of there.  

In 2012, I lost my aero bottle on a big bump within the first mile so was glad to pass that bump with no issues this time.  Turns out my issue was going to be on the grating on the drawbridge.  Some years, they have down carpet or other things to help minimize problems but they said none of that seemed to do any good so this year we rode directly on the grating.  I slowed down to cross but still managed to do a huge fishtailing maneuver from one end of the bridge to the other.  I should go back and look at my heart rate for that section because I was pretty sure I was going down on that grating and STILL cannot believe I saved it.  I knew there was another bridge with grating at mile 111 so it gave me plenty to think about for the next 110 miles.  ;)

The ride itself was uneventful.   I will mention nutrition since I had trouble last time.  This time, I went with skratch for hydration and one bonk breaker bar every hour along with a salt stick tablet.  At special needs, I had premixed three bottles of skratch.  I swapped those out and ate my final uncrustable of the day.  (ha ha).  I ended up stopping twice during the ride; once at special needs and then once 30 miles or so later just to use the port o let.  Sometimes you can pee on the bike, sometimes you can't...  and it felt good to stand up for a minute at that point.

Leading into the bridge I had decided that it might be best to get off the bike and walk it across.  Once I rolled up on the grating, there was a woman in front of me so I just decided to kind of follow her over.  I slowed it waaaaaaaaaaaay down and didn't have as much trouble as I did on the first bridge.  #whew  From there it was a short ride into T2.   The announcers and volunteers laughed as they called out my race number.  666 the ongoing joke of the day.  Get out of my way!  :)

A sea of white bags.

While T2 is basically a run around the inside perimeter of the convention center, I am not sure why my T2 time was 9 minutes.  I didn't change clothes I simply put on shoes and a hat.  Clearly I did that very slowly.  I think I had Chattanooga in the back of my mind so I wanted to make sure I was good before heading out.

The run has been slightly different every time I have done it.  They continually make it better from year to year.  You run right past the finish line on the way out and back which normally might be cruel but I kind of liked it.  ...and by right past, I mean if you jumped the barrier, you would have been in the finish chute.  The run is two 13 mile loops.  I saw Meredith somewhere along the first loop as well as her Dad and Grandfather a little bit later on which was kind of nice.  They were sitting on a bench waiting to see her come by.  On my way back out, I stopped to tell them Meredith wasn't too far behind me.  Later on I saw another friend, Todd who had done the half, and took a run selfie.  

Backtracking a bit to discuss nutrition, I should mention around mile 10 I ran into the Base Endurance people.  I had heard of their product in Chattanooga.  They gave me a tube of their salt product and seemed like they knew what they were talking about so I followed their instructions to take 2 hits before the next aid station and then one every aid station from then on.  I am sure this is how people get started on drugs, right?  "I met this guy on a street corner and he told me to take two hits..."  So trusting.  Which is unusual because, a. I never take food or drink from those little homemade aid stations you see at races sometimes - it is official race food or nothing and b. hello, nothing new on race day ever heard of that?  of course you have....  Anyhow.  I had been taking my salt stick tabs every hour up until then so made a game time decision to make a switch.  Other nutrition was huma gels every 3-4 miles along with coke and water at most aid stations.  Around mile 18 or so, I was over the gels and went to coke, the salts and water.  It worked.  I'm sticking with the salts from here on for the run.  It was easier than having to take a pill and it seemed to work so there you go.  

...and back to the run.  One of the things I liked about running past the finish on the loops was when I was closing out the first loop, I looked up at the clock and saw that it said 10 hours.  This gave me a lift as I knew I could finish out the next half in 2:30.  My goal was around 12:15 to 12:30 so this made me happy.   The second loop was kind of uneventful, I spotted Meredith a time or two, there was a concert I could hear over by the amphitheater and I spotted a few other people I had met over the weekend.  Before I knew it, I made the turn down the cobblestone road to the finish.  The announcer said "here she comes, #666" (the crowd laughed and I did too).  My name was not printed on my bib so people had been calling me beast or 666 all day which was only awkward when I went through the aid station manned by a local church.  I almost felt like I needed to apologize...  ha ha.  But I digress.  

Back to the finish line!  Made it in 12:32 which felt great.  This race was a mid-atlantic qualifier for the Age Group Oly Nationals in 2015 and I qualified which was icing on the finisher's cake!   All in all, a great race.  So happy to have shaken off my attempt at Chattanooga!  

Thanks for reading, I realize it was a bit more rambling than usual....   next up is a 50k in January.  Going to have to re-stock my Base Endurance Salts and Skratch.   


Monday, October 20, 2014

Here we go again #140.6redeux

So here we are again.  Race week.  This gap between IM Choo and B2B has felt a lot like the movie Groundhog Day.  I woke up and basically repeated everything I did for the past weeks leading up to IM Choo.  I'd look at the assigned swim set in my Training Peaks account and think "that looks familiar.... oh yeah I did this workout 4 weeks ago.".  Of course it seemed I repeated all the crazy long swim sets too, not the short ones.  :)

In addition to obsessing over the weather and worrying about sharknados (check out this feeding frenzy in NC - no joke!), I am anxiously waiting to find out my bib number.  There was a little debacle in my transfer from the half to the full which I have straightened out but don't know my number yet.  The last number assigned was 665 so am hoping I am not 666.  Normally not a good omen but, at this point, I think that would just be funny.  I'll let you know!

In the past three weeks, I basically had two weekends of long rides and runs and then was right back into taper.  That first week, I was cursing myself for jumping right back into another race.  It felt like I was in remedial IM training.  If there was a summer school equivalent to triathlon, this felt like it.  I didn't *quite* get it done during the regular season so was doing extra credit to make it up.  Strange feeling.  I think mostly because in that last month or so before an ironman you keep telling yourself that if you can just get past this weekend you are done and it will be break time.  Now I am going through all those emotions again.  Serious deja vu.  I finally unpacked all my gear from the race a week or so ago.  Not sure why.  I should have just let it sit there ready to go for the next one!

The last few weeks have included a couple of 80+ mile rides.  One of those rides was a solo ride in which I felt like I nailed the nutrition and that gave me a big boost.  That same weekend I also pulled off a hilly 18 mile run which was another feather in the cap as they say.  Made me feel a lot better about my fitness level and that maybe that race in Chattanooga was just an off day.  In my solo ride, I was ON TOP of the nutrition.  I have tried different things over the past two IMs without great success so am going back to what I know worked for me in 2012.  A bottle of skratch every hour, a couple of bites of a bonk breaker every 20 minutes and a salt tab every hour.  I know I have to be on top of things at B2B if I don't want a repeat performance.  Feeling pretty good about it!

In other news, this weekend I ran a 5k.  I also WON a 5k.  I think there were 9 participants.  It was a benefit for St. Jude Children's Center put on by a small gym down the street.  I go there from time to time and needed to get a run in so thought I would support the cause.  The race started at 8:00, I pulled into the parking lot at 7:45 and there were no signs of a race.  No people milling about, no registration table, nothing.  I sat there for a minute and finally saw a few people do into the building. I followed them in to register.  I knew the race would be somewhat small but had no idea how small.  In driving over I had not noticed any race signs or cones to indicate the route.  In the pre-race chat, the race director seemed to be very specific about giving me directions so was getting worried about getting lost on the route.  Luckily I was only a mile from home so worst case, I knew I could at least find the main road and get back to my car.  I am a true survivalist.  No bug out bag necessary.  If the zombies come, I'm your girl.  ha ha.  Anyhow, we walk out to the start.  "I'll say go and start my watch.  The finish is that crack in the sidewalk there".  One of the guys said a prayer and we were off.  Let me tell you, this is the first time I have ever led a race (as you might have guessed) and it is a strange situation to be in.  I kept thinking surely someone must be right behind me.  Pacing is also weird because you don't have anyone to chase, you are just running.  Anyhow.  Long story short.  I did not get lost. I ended up 1st overall and got quite the trophy for my efforts.  I will say I was a little disappointed that there was no finisher's tape for me to break through. ha ha.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IMChoo. Sometimes you finish. Sometimes you don't.

I debated whether to even write a post.  Not because I didn't have anything to say but because I have left this blog hanging for three months.  It doesn't have the instant gratification of likes that instagram or facebook have or the favorites of twitter.  I am not much of a twitterer although I do log in from time to time when Dancing with the Stars is on to see what people are saying about the contestants.  (LOL and sad but  true).  And while it might not get instant gratification, sometimes you have a story to tell and this is the perfect place to do it.  So here goes...

IM Chattanooga was on Sunday.  I did not finish.  The end.

My finish line for the day. I kind of love that Rick got a shot of that exact moment.

Totally kidding...  I have a story to tell, remember?  I won't bore you with my details of checking into the race and how much I love the backpack SWAG.  (which I do love, BTW).  My story actually goes back to a half iron race I did in August and you could maybe even trace it even further back to Louisville.  If you recall, back in Louisville I basically walked the last 13 miles due to nausea.  That race has been in the back of my head for the past year.  Not entirely sure what went wrong there but had pretty much chalked it up to the heat.  Flash forward to Toughman Alabama.  Blazing hot as you would expect from Alabama in July.  Ended up getting sick there too.  Gah.  Again, I assumed the heat but also started to pay more attention to the nutrition just in case there was more to it.  I wasn't all that worried about it but was definitely praying for cooler temps in Chattanooga.

Saying bye to Rick and getting on the bus to the swim. For some reason this always chokes me up.

I got my cooler temps at IM Choo.  Got up race morning and tried to eat some yogurt and a banana.  I knew I would be waiting in line for a while at the swim start and had a PBJ with me to eat a little closer to the race.  I could only get down about half of the yogurt which was kind of odd.  I mean, they are little cups not like a I was eating a quart of it.  Later on, in the swim start line I tried to eat the sandwich and could only get down half of it.  I was a little worried at that point because you really don't want to start the day with that little food in your system.  Jumped in to the swim and was on to the bike.  Felt GREAT on the first loop of the bike.  I was on top of eating, drinking, keeping the pace where it needed to be, etc.

For some reason, I associate the beginning of the end with special needs at mile 53.  I don't know why.  In past races, I have taken my bag gotten off to the side, mixed my bottles, port o potty, etc., and move on.  This special needs felt crowded.  Spectators were screaming for the participants, bikes were whizzing by, there just wasn't a lot of room.  I was handed my bag and proceeded to go through it while still holding my bike.  Tried to mix my bottles while holding my bike and my bag and it was just a bit of a mess.  Nothing that would have ruined the day but WAY more chaotic than I had experienced in previous races.  It rattled me a little bit.

Got to the start of the second loop and felt great.  I looked at my watch, I was on pace to be done with the bike leg at about 6:30.  Was super pumped but it didn't last long.  Not long after making that turn, I got that feeling in my stomach.  Again.  You feel like if you eat or drink anything you will be sick and as much as you KNOW you need to figure it out on the fly, you aren't sure what to do about it.  In addition to my infinit, I had bonk breakers which I was eating along the way and had brought some Huma gels with me just in case.  I decided to take a gel drink plain water give it 20 minutes and see how it went.  Nothing really changed all that much so I kept on with my infinit and a couple of bites of bonk breaker every hour.  As the miles wore on, I knew this was not going to end well.  I was fighting back tears because I knew how much walking that last 26.2 miles would hurt.  I passed aid stations and debated whether or not to stop and ask them call race support.  This went on for 50 miles.  I kept going because I wasn't sure how Rick would find me if I quit early and didn't want him standing out there at the bike finish wondering where I was.  So I kept riding.  My 6:30 finish had long since gone out the window.  I was just riding along making plans to sell my bike and cursing myself for buying a new helmet because what would I do with it now that I am selling the bike.  Duh.
This is me finishing. Smiling because I am glad to be done!
Finally made it to the finish and saw Rick screaming my name, taking pictures and being the super fan he always is for me.  (He even scoped out where my Run bag was in the pile so I could get to it quickly - he was trying to tell me where it was when I was handing off my bike - love that.).  Anyhow, I grabbed my bag and was trying to run along on asphalt in the bike shoes.  Recipe for disaster. Rick yells "how are you feeling" and I just look and shake my head to keep from crying.  I keep running.  Darn shoes, I thought, I should just take them off.  I get to the tent and met a lady who was somehow affiliated with my tri club, she asked how I was feeling and I told her I was going to stop my day here.  She sat with me for a bit and then told me to just sit for a bit and decide.  I changed into my running shoes, took of my timing chip and handed it to a volunteer as I was heading out of the tent.  I ran into a couple I sort of knew from the gym who chatted with me for a bit and helped me get my race bags.  I ducked out the back entrance which felt perfect and odd all rolled into one.  I mean, I didn't want to make a big production but at the same time it made it feel even more like a failure of sorts. Rick had been watching and met me around back and we headed back to the hotel.

A couple of bright sides from the day - 1.  I went sub one hour on the swim.  The current was ridiculous.  2.  That was my longest bike ride ever at 116 miles.  (the IM Choo course was longer than the traditional 112).  and 3.  Despite my ever slowing speed on the last 50ish miles and the extra four miles on the course, my split for Chatt was better than my split at Louisville.  I'll take that.

And where does that leave me today?  well...  It is kind of a weird feeling.  I wasn't all that upset about things once I got off the bike and made my decision to quit.  I knew there was no way I wanted to gut out a marathon at that point and am not even sure that I could have done it had I made the decision to continue.  Had this been my first IM, I probably would have at least tried to keep moving.  I think the part that does make me sad is that I knew a ridiculous number of people doing this race.  Seriously, I could probably name 50 people off the top of my head.  Seeing all their pics and posts on facebook stung a little.  Not that I wasn't happy for them but disappointed with myself and sad that I missed all the fun of the spectators on the run course.  The run is my favorite part and I missed out.  The reality is it was one race.  it doesn't change who I am.  I have crossed that finish line three times already so am still an Ironman.  I mean, no one has called me to ask for my medals back or anything.   Yet.   :)

I won't say that it didn't leave me feeling incomplete.  All that training, you know.  Luckily, my favorite race of all time, Beach2Battleship is in three weeks.  I was planning on doing the half but upgraded to the full.  Two weeks to train and then taper.  Sounds pretty perfect to me!

So what went wrong Sunday?  Really, I don't know.  I am stepping into pre-menopause so it could be a hormone thing. I can no longer blame the heat so it makes it even more of a mystery.  For now, I am just going to be super careful about my nutrition, try some ginger chews for nausea and hope for the best.  B2B is October 25th so here we go again...