It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

May 22, 2012

Not What I Expected - KC Triathlon Race Report

Well, my day started off with a bang – literally.  I backed into my neighbor’s car.  Not the way you want to start your race day.
The race didn’t start until 7:30 am, but transition opened at 5am.  I like to get to the race early and be there as soon as transition opens, so I was leaving the house at 4:30 am to have time to pick  up Michelle and get to the race at 5am.  It was pitch black and my car was full, with my bike and Michelle’s bike, my tri bag, my wetsuit, etc.  My neighbor’s car was parked in the street right behind my driveway.  So as I’m backing out of the garage….bang.  I got out and looked at the damage.  I broke my tail light and had some scratches, nothing major.  Unfortunately I hit his car in the quarter panel, and it was completely dented in.  Crap.  Not wanting to disturb my neighbors at 4:30 am, I called Jim and asked him to let them know later in the day.  Definitely didn’t do anything to help calm the nerves.
I try to shake it off and head over to pick up Michelle.  My stomach is already in knots.  This is a big race.  It’s a 5150 Qualifier race and brings out a slew of competitive athletes including 10 pros.  These people mean business.  I am Slowly Tri-ing – I am not in the same league as these people.  I am so nervous.  It’s a 1 mile swim.  I have never swam that far in a race before.  Seeing the buoys the day before I panicked.  It is soooo long.  I was afraid my shoulder would not hold out.  I had told myself over and over, just go slow and get the swim done, but I wasn’t sure if it could be done.
As we pull up to the race my stomach is flipping and flopping.  I haven’t been this nervous before a race since my first triathlon.  I want these nerves to go away.  I set up my transition area and try to focus.  Talking to myself.  Remember this is not a race.  It’s a training event.  Just get through it and finish.    Slowly my friends start showing  up.  It helps calm the nerves to hang out and chat some.
My transition area all set up
We get our timing chips and head to the bathroom.  While in the porta potty I hear someone yelling beside me in the next toilet over “F..k, F, F, You’ve Got this, You’ve Got this, You’ve Got this!!”  Apparently someone was giving themselves a little pep talk in the john.  It was hilarious and makes me realize I’m certainly not the only one who is nervous.
Before I know it the announcer is saying, “Transition closes in 10 minutes!”  Holy!!  It’s almost time.  Well sort of.  Transition closes at 7:00 and my swim wave doesn’t start until 8:01, but it’s almost time to get out of transition anyway.  I had waited til the last minute to put on my wetsuit, not wanting to stand around in it too long since it’s so hot.  So I hastily go to put it on.  I bend over to pull up the legs and ouch…..there goes my back.  I knew it the instant it happened.  I threw out my back.  I have struggled with my back for the last 6 years, but have been relatively healthy for quite some time now.  CRAP.  It’s not my day.  First the car, then my back.  I had already taken an aleve to help combat the inflammation in my shoulder.  Now it would have to do double duty.
During the next hour while waiting to start our swim wave (wave 10 of 13), I stretch, and stretch and stretch out my back.  It hurts, but I feel ok.  I am hopeful the swim will actually stretch it out and the adrenaline will keep the pain out of my head and back.  It does help focus my energy on that and not on my nerves.  By the time I started the swim, I feel calm.  I’m really not too nervous at all.

The Swim
Finally it’s our turn to go.  I jump in the water and start swimming.  I settle into a decently slow pace pretty quickly and feel pretty good.  I focus on sighting and keeping an eye on the farthest buoy.  I reach the far buoy which is approximately 1/3 of the way.  I feel ok.  My shoulder feels ok.  I continue swimming for what seems forever.  Somewhere past the halfway point I swallow a large amount of lake water.  This turns out to be an issue for most of the race as I apparently managed to get it down in my lungs.  I'm trying to cough it up while in the water which seems almost impossible to do.  I just stay focused and keep swimming, swimming, swimming.  Finally, my hand touches the sand and I stand up to start the very long run to transition.  For weeks, all I had focused on was getting through the swim no matter how long it took and then just biking and running like that was going to be the easy part.

I did NOT anticipate how exhausted I would be when I got out of the swim.  I had been in the water 43 minutes.  When I reached the beach my legs were quivering.  Had I kicked too hard??  Too much??  I tried to run, my calves started cramping.  I decided to take it easy.  I walked up the hill from the beach and once I finally reached pavement I tried a slow jog through transition.  I was exhausted.  How and the heck was I going to bike 25 miles and run 6.2?  I finally reached my bike - which was .2 miles from the beach.  It was a LONG transition.  I was still shaking.  I ate part of a cliff bar and drank some gatorade.  I had to sit down to take off my wetsuit.  I wasn't going to risk hurting my back even more.  I finally head out to bike - 5 minutes and 22 seconds later.  Due to the distance of the beach to transition most people had long transition times - around 2-3 minutes...but I had taken a really long time.

The Bike
Because I was in such a late swim wave, and because I'm such a slow swimmer, almost all of the bikes were gone from the racks when I started.  This was a bummer, as I already knew I was very behind most people.  I didn't have alot for the bike.  It's a pretty hilly course and my legs just felt dead.  I think I heard "On Your Left" about 300 times.  I was seriously beginning to think it was my name or something.  Yes, yes I know you are on my left.  You are passing me.  So is everyone else.  Congratulations.  By the time I started loop number 2 there was almost no one left on the bike course.  At least I wasn't hearing on your left anymore, but it was a weird feeling.  Even though I'm used to be in the bottom 25% at most races, I've not really experienced racing when no one is around.  I was starting to panic a little bit.  There was pretty much no one behind or in front of me.  I knew I was going to be running alone too and this was a very deflating feeling.  I finally finished the bike.  I wouldn't know my mph until later, but I knew I had been pretty slow.  When I got my results I averaged 15.1 mph, which was much slower than any of my training rides had been.  I was on the bike 1 hour and 38 minutes.

My second transition was a bit faster at only 2 minutes and 25 seconds, but it still could have been quicker, but I was really feeling tired by this point.  I threw on my running shoes, race belt, and visor and headed off.

The Run
I always struggle with the first mile of the run after the bike, and today was certainly no exception.  My calves were cramping almost immediately and I was just exhausted.  I was coughing like crazy.  That water I had swallowed during the swim was still in my lungs.  I couldn't seem to get it out and it felt like a weight on my chest.  I dealt with that until about mile 4 when it finally seemed to clear out of my lungs.  Mile 1 (and Mile 4) have a pretty steep hill to climb.  I stopped to walk several times and when I finally hit mile 1, I had an amazing 12:42 pace.  Yes, after months of improvement on the run and times in the 10s and 11s, I had just ran an almost 13 minute pace. I was feeling pretty discouraged.  I felt a little better during mile 2 and actually managed an 11:30 pace.  I ended up walk/running most of the 6.2 miles - much more running than walking, but still walking a little in each mile.  The run course is 2 loops.  Several times I would pass people during the first loop and they would say "you are almost there, stay strong"....they didn't realize I still had one more lap to go.  They saw how far behind I was from everyone else and assumed I must be almost done right??  Wrong.  I finally reached the 5K point and 3 of my friends come running out to tell me I'm doing a great job.  2 of them had done the sprint so they were already finished, and one was actually working for the race.  It was a nice little boost to help me get through those next 3 miles.  Those last 3 miles were tough.  So many people were heading home.  Part of the run course was the path to people's cars.  So at this point in the race I had to dodge in and out of pedestrians, which was very frustrating.  There was some of this during the first lap, but it was awful during lap 2.  At about mile 5, there is a girl dancing all by herself with a sign that just say Hooray.  When I run by I said "I need some of your energy".  She said well here you go and gives me a high five, and then proceeds to smack me on the butt!  It was hilarious.  I just had a totally stranger smack my ass.  This gives me a little jolt of injury - at least for a few minutes.  I finally see the finish line in sight.  And I see my friend Michelle cheering for me.  Then I look over and see my husband Jim!!  I hadn't expected to see him and that was so awesome.  He had decided to incorporate the race into his morning run and "swing" by and see me finish.  The run took me an 1 hour and 14 minutes.  It was a 12:01 pace.  It was my slowest run in months.  But..........I had FINISHED my first Olympic Distance Tri.  The race took me 3 hours, 43 minutes and 52 seconds!!

Post Race
It was a weird feeling.  I was "Happy" because I had just finished my first Olympic Distance Triathlon.  I had also come in right around my predicted time.  But I was also extremely disappointed.  I know I shouldn't have been, but I was.  I had not expected to feel so exhausted on the bike and run.  I had expected a much stronger race.  I thought I would be an hour on the swim, and I was only 43 minutes, so I thought I would end up finishing a little faster than anticipated, but it just didn't turn out that way.  I had my slowest bike and run times I've had during any of my training.  And, to top it all off I finished dead last in my age group - 41/41.  I have never finished last.  Towards the bottom - yes.  Last, no.  I was also 638 out of 650 overall.  My results were so disheartening.  I have learned to accept my slowness and realize it's just where I'm at, but for some reason this particular race was really difficult.  I have just never been that low on the totem pole.

I thought about things, and tried to shift my perspective. Yes there were 650 people in this race, but only 205 females.  Only 205 females even attempted to do this and I was one of them.  This was a major race bringing in some major talent.  I just did something so many people could never do, or ever even be brave enough to try.  There are 5 of us training for Racine and all 5 of us had planned to do the Olympic Distance.  Of those 5, only myself and Michelle finished the Olympic Distance for various reasons.  I had met my goal time, and I had finished the race.  End of story.  It was meant to be a training race.  I now know what I have to work on.  I could keep beating myself up or I could be proud of myself for what I had accomplished. 

After the race, I met up with my friends.  They were all super encouraging and telling me what a great job I did.  I began asking people how they did and several people I know did well enough to qualify for the 5150 Championship race in September, including my friend Michelle who was awesome and came in 10th in her age group!!!  Michelle is an amazing athlete!

I think I learned alot about myself during this race.  I was disappointed with the race, but I finished.  I never gave up.  I won't lie - when I came by the finish line and knew I had one more 3 mile lap to go on the run, I considered turning in and being done....but I could never do that.  I may be a slow triathlete.  But, I am  TRIATHLETE!!

May 16, 2012

Bound for the Olympics

Ahhh….fooled you right?  You thought I had somehow catapulted my slow self to Olympic competitor, but alas no.  What I meant to say is that I am bound for the Olympic Distance Triathlon this weekend.
For those of you who have been following my blog for awhile, you know I was supposed to do my first Olympic Distance Tri last Sept, and just a few days before the event I severely injured my shoulder and was unable to compete.  It devastated me, and I kind of promised myself I would never be quite that “vested” in a race again. 
So, maybe that’s why I haven’t made a big deal about this race.  It’s just kind of quietly snuck up on me.  It will still be my first Olympic tri, and it will also be my first ever wetsuit race so it should kind of be a big deal, but I’m really looking at it as more of a training race for my 70.3 in July than anything.  It’s my check point to see where I’m at – it’s my deciding point to see if I officially sign up for the Racine 70.3.

I won’t lie.  I don’t feel ready for the swim – AT ALL.  I am terribly nervous about that part.  My shoulder has still not healed (and I’m not sure it ever will without surgery).  I have had to baby it a lot during my training.  If I swim one day, and it hurts I may go 5 or 6 or 7 days before I swim again.  I have only been swimming 2 days a week max, and many times only 1, when my plan calls for 3xs per week and starting last week I’m supposed to be swimming 4xs per week.  My longest swim in the pool has been 1800 yards and that includes drills and breaks.  My swim Sunday is 1700 yards or 1 mile.  It is not going to be easy.  I am terribly afraid my shoulder will give out during the swim or hurt so bad afterward that I’m not able to swim for weeks.  All I know is that if I manage to make it through this on Sunday, my swim needs to be my focus for the remainder of my 70.3 training.
I feel ready for the bike and run.  I’ve have been putting in 100+ miles a week on the bike and I’ve completed 3 half marathons in the past 3 months.  But, I’ve never put this kind of bike/run distance together before so who knows what might really happen.  I’m hoping once I get out of that water though, that I’m feeling ready to go.

I expect the race to take me just under 4 hours (assuming that I make it out of the swim in around 45-50 minutes – which who knows).  I am excited, but also nervous.  I’m just not 100% sure what to expect.  Going into Hyvee last September, I felt pretty confident.  I knew I had trained exactly how I should for the distance, but I can’t say the same for this race.  The weather is going to be a little on the hot side approaching the mid 80s by the time I’m done. 
But at the end of the day, I love to do tris and I am excited about my first race of the season.  All of my Racine training buddies are racing either the Sprint or the Olympic Distance, so it will fun for all of us to be at a race together. 
It’s going to be a busy weekend though, as my step-daughter gets married on Friday and the race is on Sunday.  I really do like to overbook myself.

Stay tuned for results……………………………………………

May 14, 2012

7 Years of Bliss

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband Jim! It has seriously been nothing but bliss!!  Ha, we all know that's not true, marriage is hard, but it can be wonderful. I am truly married to my best friend.

So here's to 7 great years baby!!  I look forward to the many memories we still have to make.

I'll leave you with a few of the great memories we've already made.

Our Wedding Day 5-14-2005
Our Honeymoon - Maui, HI
Riveria Maya, Mexico
Big Cedar Lodge, Ridgedale, MO
Boston Red Sox Game - Boston Marathon

Walt Disney World Marathon - My first!

Turks and Caicos

May 08, 2012

When Pigs Fly!

What a great weekend!  Sunday was the Flying Pig Marathon (Half Marathon for me)in Cincinnati, OH.  As I've posted lately, work has just been insane crazy and I haven't had a full day off in close to a month, so I couldn't have been more excited to get away for a weekend and have 3 1/2 days off work!!  

I worked half a day Friday, and then Jim and I took off toward Cincinnati on Friday afternoon.  Since we didn't get going until about 2pm, we only drove to Indianapolis Friday night (about an 8 hour drive) and then drove into Cincy on Sat.  We took our time Sat, not having a set schedule.  We got up and had some breakfast, then drove into downtown Indy just to have a look around.  Then we finally headed in to Cincinnati and headed straight to the Flying Pig Expo. 

The expo was great!  Very similar to other expos at larger races, but still fun.  There were plenty of pigs everywhere and of course Jim and I couldn't resist the opportunity to "ham" it up for the camera.  Proctor and Gamble is the major sponsor for the race and had lots of free samples to hand out.  There was quite the line for some dish soap and tooth brushes.  And of course, the chance to photograph yourself on a giant toilet.

Grossest picture ever?????  Yes, probably.
After we walked around the expo for awhile, I called my friend Coy of First in Philly to see how close she was to the expo.  She was only about 30 minutes away, so we decided to wait for her at the expo instead of meeting up later.  I was sooooo excited to see Coy!  We've become great friends since we met up last October at the MO' Cowbell half marathon, literally texting, e-mailing or calling each other pretty much every day.  Coy finally made it, so we ending up going through the expo again for round #2.  As we were about to leave the expo, we also got a call from Jeff at Detroit Runner who had just gotten to the expo.  So we got a chance to meet him and chat for awhile and snap a pic.  It's always pretty cool to finally meet bloggers in person. 

We finally headed out of the expo and went to find some dinner.  I think Jim and I were at the expo for 4 hours!!  We went to a cool little river front area with shopping, dining and a movie theatre.  We ate at Brio, which is a great Italian restaurant.  We have one in Kansas City, so it wasn't anything new, but it was still good.  After dinner we headed over to the movies to see The Avengers.  Which was AWESOME by the way!!  The movie was long though around 2 1/2 hours so we didn't end up getting to the hotel to check in until around 10:30.  This was kind of a bad idea.  We were tired, and we would be getting up very, very early.

The Flying Pig starts at 6:30 am, so we were planning to leave the hotel at 5:15 am to get there plenty early.  That meant getting up at 4:15 - which is pretty normal for me, but since we didn't get in bed until after 11pm - it made for a very early morning.  Going into a race with limited sleep is probably never a very good idea.

I got up and dragged my lifeless body out of bed and got ready.  We of course, couldn't do a race without the pre-race dance party however.  Our friend Coy was invited to join in the party, which she gladly accepted.  I think she might be crazier than we are.  Coy added a whole new dimension to the pre-race dance.  We got a few weird stares from other runners trying to get in the elevator.

I have no idea what is going on here.  Is she rubbing my ear and picking her nose?

Finally, it was race time.  I knew going into this race this one going to be one to do just for "fun".  I had recently set my half marathon PR, and I knew I had no chance for a PR on this course and that was ok.  The course is super hilly.  It pretty much goes up hill for the first 9 miles.  It was also going to be hot and humid.  It was about 65 degrees at race start and close to about 75 by the time we finished, which isn't that bad, but the humidity was near 90%. 

Coy and I both had to go to the potty shortly before the race, so we got in line thinking that if the race started people would clear out.....they didn't.  We ended up still being in line well after the race started.  When we got out of the porta potty, there was pretty much no one around.  It was really weird to start a race at the very end like that.  We ran for awhile without really seeing many other runners, but then we caught up to the back of the pack.  The first several miles were tough trying to work ourselves around the walkers and finally catch up to the other runners.  The first mile I was really struggling.  I felt like I was working so hard.  I looked down at my Garmin expecting to realize that we were doing like a 9:30 pace or something, only to see an 11:25 average I was working really hard for that kind of pace.  The humidity gets me every time.  Our first 2 miles were pretty slow as I tried to acclimate to the heat and humidity, but then we got moving in miles 3 and 4, but then came the BIG HILLS. There was a pretty good size hill at 5, with a nice downhill, but they from 6-10 it's climbing, climbing and more climbing.  I had to stop and walk a few times during some of those super climbs.  I am not a good hill runner at all.  We have alot of hills in Kansas City, but I struggle on them here too and end up walking them more than I'd like.

Finally, at around mile 10 you start the decline.  But after climbing so much, it's a pretty significant downhill.  Aerobically that's great, but it was absolutely burning up my quads, which had already been worked pretty hard.  We gained some momentum in miles 11 and 12, but I paid for it in the last mile. I was hurting - bad in mile 13.  My quads were dead, and I felt like I had nothing left and even had to stop and walk a couple of times in that last mile.  I like to finish strong at the end of the race, but I had nothing left.  The heat, humidity and hills, had got me.  We crossed the finish line and I have to admit I was glad to be done. 

It was a "long" race too, registering 13.44 on my Garmin.  I knew I was in trouble when at mile 1 my Garmin was already at 1.06.  An extra .33 miles is alot, but there was a ton of weaving in and out of people during those first several miles.  But in the end I finished in 2:31 so I was good with that considering the hills and weather and considering I hadn't broken 2:30 for a half marathon prior to February of this year.  So it ended up being my 3rd fastest half and I did have 4 miles in the 10:30s.

Check out that elevation and climb.

We got our medal, which is awesome with the Pig face on the front and the Pig butt on the back.  Then I grabbed some food - yummy stuff too - swiss cake rolls and potato chips...just what the doctor ordered after a tough race.  After the race we had about a mile walk back to the car.  My legs were just dead.  I knew I was going to be sore the next day - especially after a 10 hour drive home.  And I quads are still sore!

 Overall, it was a wonderful race.  The expo, shirt, medal are awesome!  You also get a poster and a duffel bag.  The volunteers were some of the best I have ever experienced at a race.  They were so encouraging and supportive.  Everyone was so friendly and excited to have you there.  Even our hotel staff clapped for us as we walked back in the door after the race.  It was a great added touch.   The crowd support was also wonderful.  There were people pretty much every step of the race.  The route itself isn't super exciting, and it is a hilly course, but I would still highly recommend this race to anyone.