Friday, December 31, 2010

Where Have I Been and What's Next

"Work hard. Be dedicated. That's all." Charles Foster

I always like to do a post on the last day of the year to recap the year and see what I've done. I'll get to the whole year in a minute.

Since Ironman Florida, I've been taking it pretty easy. I didn't do any running for a week and then tried to ease back into it. My longest run since then has been 6 miles (not much for me). I wasn't worried about speed, but did run a 5K the day after Christmas and tried to race my son. Tried is the operative word. He isn't trained for a 5k and I figured he would go out too fast and then lose steam and I would pass him at the end. Boy was I wrong. After holding him back (relative term) for the first two miles, he took off for the third and crossed the finish line about 45 seconds ahead of me. I finished in 27:11, which was good for me considering I haven't been working on time.

I haven't been swimming since IMFL, but intend to get back in the pool at least once a week starting soon. I also haven't been back on the bike outside, although I have been on the trainer a few times.

Some of my reasoning for taking it fairly easy was to give my body a break, but I've also had a pain in my knee recently that I've never had before. I'm trying to be safe and smart and not let it turn into an injury that will keep me from running for a long time. I love to run. I'm ready to get back out there for some longer runs and with consistency again.

2010 in Review - So what did I do in 2010?

My main goal of 2010 was Ironman Florida. I got to the start line injury free and crossed the finish line in 13:56:00, which was faster than I had anticipated. Along the way I set PRs in the half marathon, sprint triathlon, and half ironman triathlon distances. I also racked up some serious mileage:

Bike: 3612.66 miles 225h 15m 03s
Run: 1105.31 miles 189h 46m 44s
Swim: 224,194 yards (127.38 miles) 85h 09m 19s
Strenght training: 8hr 45m
Bowing: 1hr
Massage: 3hr 25m
Mountain Biking: 1hr 5m
Volunteer at Races: 1hr 30m
Stretching: 3hr 15m 10s
Walking: 8h 02m 10s
Yoga: 29h 40m

Overall, 2010 was a successful year.

So what's next in 2011?

Going into 2010 and Ironman training, I decided 2011 would be my "fun" year. I do have a few races on the schedule that I normally do and I think I want to do another marathon this year to get further along in my goal of running a marathon in all 50 states. However, I want to throw something fun in along the way.

I'd really like to do a running relay race. There are two in Texas that I am interested in, but need to figure out if I can pull it off. The Texas Independence Relay is the first weekend of March, which I think is a little too quick to get a team together and is also probably the first weekend of soccer for my son. The Capital to Alamo relay is the first weekend in August. That would give me more time to form a team and get details figured out, but that is the weekend the fall season starts for my son's soccer and my daughter will most likely have volleyball scrimmages that weekend. Hmmm.....what to do? Maybe I should look at a relay somewhere else :)

I also wouldn't mind doing some kind of adventure race if one works out in the schedule. I'll have to look. And this year I read of a "doggy-du". I think it would be a blast to swim and run with Roscoe. I'd have to "teach" him to swim first, but it could be something to try. And then there is always the possibility of an ultra run. I'm not ready for a 100 miler at this point and really not even a 50 miler, but a 50K might be doable.

The other thing I think I want to try this year is running in vibram 5 fingers. A lot of people really enjoy running in minimalist shoes. I go barefoot almost all the time anyway, so I might enjoy it. Who knows. I may get me some and VERY slowly integrate running in vibrams into my schedule.

I'm also looking at some more strength training this year. I think one of my limiting factors in bike speed is weak quads. You would think that with all the running I do my quads would be strong. And they are, but not strong enough for the power I need in cycling. Plus, I sometimes have arm envy. Especially of Jillian Michaels or Kelly Ripka.

Speaking of Jillian. I fould a "Hot Bod In A Box" by Jillian at the bookstore the other day and bought it. I bought it mostly because it has strength excercises on cards and it will be easy to travel with and you can rearrange the cards for different workouts. Plus, it has some cards with pre-determined circuits already on it. I did one this morning. That 30 minutes kicked my rear! We'll see how that goes.

So while I don't have a lot figured out for 2011, I do have the following on my calendar:

1/30 3M Half Marathon
3/27 Cap 10K
May - Dfest 5K
6/19 Lake Pflugerville Tri
October - seriously considering the Chicago marathon

I'll also do some pay rides to get the bike mileage in.

No matter what I do, I plan to work hard and be dedicated. That's all.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


“I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we’re all cowards.” Alberto Alazar

The short summary – I am an Ironman!!!

My time was 13:56:00.
Swim Time: 1:24:27
T1: 15:25
Bike Time: 7:01:43
T2: 10:14
Run Time: 5:04:13

Now, if you want to read the long version, grab a cup of coffee or something and get comfy.

After basically training for a year for this, race day was finally here. My alarm went off at 3:30 am. I got up and started getting ready. Heat the water for the oatmeal, get dressed, take my medicine, eat breakfast, drink my shake. Patrick called at 3:45 like I asked him to make sure I was awake. I made sure all of my jewelry was off, made sure I had my chip around my ankle, put on my warm clothes and grabbed the rest of the stuff.

Patrick came to get me about 4:40. We grabbed the special need bags and my morning clothes bag and drove toward the starting point. With all the roads blocked off, Patrick pulled up just where the run special needs drop off point was. I got out with all my gear and was alone again for a little bit while he went back to park the truck at the house and walk back to meet me. In the meantime, I dropped off the run special needs bag, went across the street to drop off the bike special needs bag, and then made the short trek to transition.

When I got to transition, I found someone to body mark me. I had to take my warm clothes off to get marked. Brrrrr! But once I had my numbers on I entered transition. I headed straight for my bike and put my nutrition on. I remembered to get my computer out of the zip lock bag, put it on the bike and reset it. I found a nice volunteer who was checking tire pressure and made sure mine was where it needed to be. I had also rented a GPS tracking unit, so I turned it on, put it in its pouch and placed it in my swim-to-bike bag so I could put it on in T1. I ran into a Kathy G and got a quick picture and then stood there for just a bit to soak it all in. The atmosphere was amazing. There was nothing left to do in transition. I called Patrick and he was almost back, so I headed out of transition and met him so I wouldn’t be alone.

We walked to the beach side where the swim start was and sat there for a little bit, but it was in the low 40s and I was getting cold. I would be out in this all day, so no reason to be out in it now. We found the lobby of the hotel and went inside to get warm. During the time we were in there I used the bathroom several times (just to be sure) and ate my second breakfast.

As the time approached 6:30 I figured it was time to start putting on the wetsuit. That’s always fun and today was no different. Pull here, squeeze here, pull some more. I made sure to put body glide on areas I thought might chafe, but especially on the neck area. I got my arms in but didn’t zip up yet. I put the sweatshirt back on over the wetsuit and we headed down to the start.

After being here to volunteer last year I knew the sand would be cold, so I had worn some mammoth crocs to the start. This worked perfectly. I handed everything to Patrick except my phone (so I could make sure to find him), my swim cap and my goggles. I entered the arch that said “swim start” and crossed the timing mat. There was no turning back.

I walked to the right along the barrier between the athletes and spectators and found Patrick again. I wasn’t planning on leaving until I saw my family and it was almost time to start the race. As I was waiting, I checked my goggles and realized that when I put the defogger in, they didn’t get rinsed well enough and they were streaked. I couldn’t see clear through them. I had been smart and put a second pair in my morning bag, so we got those out and I went through the process again making sure to rinse them well. I took my sweatshirt off and handed my phone to Patrick. Still no family. They had called and I knew they were heading my way, but it was time for the pros to start and almost time for me to walk to the water.

Finally I saw my kids. I got some great hugs from the family and teared up thinking about what I was getting ready to do. It was time to go. I took my crocs off to hand them to the family and when I did, the sand got on my goggles. Which were wet. Crap. Grabbed the water bottle and rinsed them again and then took off to the water. I saw Kathy G right before the swim start and that was nice. It helped calm me down a bit. With one minute to go, I hit start on my watch and tucked it into my wetsuit sleeve. I put the goggles on and enjoyed the moment. The next thing I know, the cannon had gone off and we were moving forward. I was doing an Ironman.

Since Florida is a beach start, there is some walking to start with. After being in the cold with the feet on the cold sand, it felt good to be in the water. The water was warmer than the air temp. It felt good. And then it was time to start swimming.

I was in the middle left to right and probably somewhat toward the middle front to back as well, but still in the mix of a bunch of folks. I just looked for an empty spot and went horizontal. It was crazy, but exciting. I was doing fine for a while. Sure, I’d bump people here and there or they would bump me, but nothing bad. I could feel that I was in the whole draft of the hundreds of folks before me and thought I should try to stay there as long as possible. And then, about the first buoy, it was like we hit a brick wall. Everyone stopped. I don’t know why, but there was no way to swim forward for a split second. With my head out of the water, I looked around and took it all in.

Back to swimming we went. I got into a rhythm with the waves and tried to use them to my advantage when I could. And I also started swimming more toward the buoys and ended up swimming the buoy line.

The next thing I knew we were at the first turn. And wow was that crazy. People everywhere. I just wanted to get around the buoy and try to find an open spot again. And then I just tried to follow the people in front of me. At this point, we were swimming directly into the rising sun and I could not see anything. Finally I caught a glimpse of the next turn buoy and just kept swimming. It didn’t take long to get there and turn to swim back toward shore.

At this point it was thinning out a little, but I was still in the middle of a lot of swimmers. That made me feel really good because I am not a super fast swimmer and am sometimes lonely at the back of the pack. As long as I could see people around me I would not panic that I was at the back. As I got closer to shore I could hear the announcer and the music and got excited that I was almost halfway through the swim. I swam until the shallow water again before standing up and heading in.

I ran up the beach glancing along the sides to see if I could see my family. I had no idea where they would be. I crossed the timing mat, grabbed a cup of water to rinse out my mouth and continued on my way. As I was going diagonal in the water to start the second lap, I spotted Brandi. I figured someone else was there with her and started waving my hands in the air, hoping they would figure it was me. And then it was time to start the second lap.

It wasn’t as crowded anymore, but I still got bumped and even got kicked in the jaw at one point. Good thing the water was clear. I started watching for feet and protecting my face. I had checked my watch at the turnaround point and knew I was having a good swim, so I just kept doing what I had been and enjoying the moment. As I turned around the second turn buoy to head back to shore I was excited. It was a little harder at that point, though, because the waves kept pushing me out to the right and I kept having to swim back in to the buoys. I didn’t swim as close to them on this lap as I did on the first, but that was fine. I just kept focusing on the swim finish.

I couldn’t believe it when I got to the shallow water and stood up again. I still had to cross the timing mat, but I had just finished my swim. I was VERY happy. I finished faster than I thought I would and that meant even if I had a bad bike, I still had time in the bank.

As I exited the water I unzipped my wetsuit and got my arms out. Because of the cold temps I wasn’t sure if I wanted to use the wetsuit strippers or if I wanted to wait to get out of the wetsuit in T1, but I made a quick decision to use the strippers. I found an available male, laid on the ground and stuck my feet in the air. He ripped that wetsuit off in no time and grabbed my hand to help me up. I was on my way. The only bad thing is that so many people were in the wetsuit stripping area that I was pretty much on sand, so I stopped under the showers to rinse off the sand. I probably stayed there longer than I should have, but I wanted to make sure the sand was off as much as possible.

After going through the showers, I ran up the path and through the archway to the T1 bag area. I knew where my bag was and ran that way. Then I was running to T1.
And my feet were cold. And numb. And they hurt. But I kept going. I was doing an Ironman!! Just before entering the changing area, I heard someone yelling for me and looked to see my family. That was awesome.

I had used the changing tent during the Redman aquabike to get a feel for the experience, but this was nothing like that. I turned the corner to enter the tent and was amazed. It was packed! I wasn’t sure where to go so I just kept walking to the back hoping to find a place. There was not a free chair anywhere. I finally found a somewhat open spot and dropped my wetsuit and bag and started getting out of the wet clothes. Since the temps were so low I had decided to change into dry clothes before starting the bike.

I got out of the wet clothes and dried off as best I could before putting on my tri jersey for the rest of the race. I did tap the volunteer next to me on the shoulder and get her help in pulling down the back of my jersey. Other than that, I did everything myself. My transition time was slow, but I wanted to make sure I did everything I needed to and that I had everything I needed for the bike. Once I was sure that was done, I stuffed my swim stuff in the bag, gave it to a volunteer and headed out of the tent.

I had to run back down the long chute, but saw my family again on the way. I did stop at the port-a-potty and then found the volunteer who had my bike ready and waiting. I grabbed it from her and headed to the bike exit.

As I was heading down the bike chute to the mount line, I saw my friend Brandi on the phone and heard her say “she is wearing her green jacket.” I assumed she was talking to my family who was probably further down, but at that point I had to concentrate to get on my bike and get clipped in without hitting or getting hit by anyone. There were lots of people in the chute at the same time as me and I was just ready to get out on the road.

After watching weather forecasts all week, I knew the bike was going to be tough for me. Winds were forecasted to be 10mph or more with gusts of 20-25. And the direction they were forecast to be blowing meant a headwind or crosswind for much of the ride. The forecast was not wrong.

I told myself to do my ride and not worry about anyone else. And it was a good thing I did. As I was heading out past the hotels, I got passed by a LOT of folks. That’s ok. I just let them go. This was going to be a long day and I wasn’t going to use all my energy the first 10 miles. I got settled in and just pedaled at a speed that felt comfortable to me.

As I got to Hwy 79 and turned to head north, I knew it would get tougher. We would be in an almost direct headwind for that stretch of the road. I didn’t want to worry about what speed I was going. Again, I knew I just needed to do my ride, even if that meant riding slow. I would try to make it up on the parts of the course where we might have a tailwind. And I was hoping I’d get that chance as we turned to head east on Highway 20. I did pick up some speed here, but not as much as I hoped. Regardless of which way I was riding, I felt like I had a headwind. It was still cool and I still had my jacket on.

Normally in a long ride, I am known for having to stop and use the restroom about mile 20 or around an hour into the ride. I had planned on this and knew I might have to stop at the second aid station, but I didn’t. I made it to mile 30 or 40 (can’t remember) before I had to stop for the first time. There was a little bit of a wait, but I knew if I didn’t stop it would hurt me in the ride. I did my thing and got back on the bike.

Since I stopped so late for me, I pretty much decided at this point that I would not stop at mile 56 where the special needs bags were. The only thing I had in mine anyway was extra CO2 (and I hadn’t had a flat), extra nutrition (and I had four extra bags in my pocket), and peanut M&Ms (which I could do without). I did not need to stop.

The out and back section that contained the special needs stop was interesting. Most of the course was on very smooth, great roads (especially compared to what I normally ride on). The first out and back section was a section of road that had some bumps on it. It almost felt like when you cross a bridge and you cross the expansion joints between pavement if that makes sense. A lot of people thought that road was horrible, but it was still better than the roads I train on. Even though it wasn’t that bad, it was nice to be done with that part. Well, except that I knew the next part of the course would have some long rollers with a headwind or crosswind. Onward I went.

The section of 20 coming back to 79 had some long rollers and it seemed that everyone was getting beat up through here. It was tough to get a good pace going if you were following the rules correctly and staying 4 bike lengths back from the bike in front of you. And when they were slower than me, I knew I didn’t have the energy to pass them in the required 20 seconds. Occasionally I’d get up out of the saddle and get it done, but then I’d have to recover again. There was definitely some leap-frogging going on. And some illegal drafting by others. I didn’t realize how much until I saw pictures.

Around mile 70 I stopped again to use the restroom and to refill my bottles with more nutrition. And as I was getting ready to leave the aid station I hear my name being called. My friend Patrick had taken his motorcycle and had ridden out to find me with my daughter on the back. They were there taking pictures. That was a nice surprise to see them at that point.

I continued on 20 and saw the next intersection. For some reason I forgot that was 77 and not 79, so mentally I was preparing to turn and hopefully enjoy a tailwind. Wrong. I still had a way to go. I just kept pedaling. Despite the fact that I was slower than I wanted to be, I wasn’t doing too bad and I knew I was not in danger of missing any cutoffs.

When I finally got to 79 to turn to head back to town I was happy. I knew there wasn’t a lot of course left and I knew I’d have a little bit of a tailwind at least. I was able to pick up speed at this point, but not as much as I hoped. Somewhere along this stretch, though, the toll of the wind caught up to me. I have issues with the wind drying my contacts out and not being able to see. It has happened in other rides and it was along this point that I realized I really couldn’t see all that clearly. I kept trying to blink my eyes to wet them and hoped that it would go away. It was also along this stretch where I saw Patrick again, but this time he had my son on the back of the motorcycle. I was glad they both found me.

When I got to the turn for the second out and back, my family and Brandi were there with signs and were yelling like crazy. One of the riders told me I had a huge fan club. That was a nice surprise as I had told them before the race that I didn’t expect to see them on the bike course. And with them being there, that meant that after I did the out and back, I saw them again. Well, I would have seen them if I could see. My contacts were getting really bad at that point.

After stopping at mile 70 I had decided I didn’t want to stop again unless I absolutely had to. But after turning onto 79 to head in, I saw some port-a-potties and decided to stop one last time. But the main reason I stopped was to put drops in my eyes to see if it would help. After a quick stop I was off. I knew I only had about 15 miles to go.

Crossing the “big” hill on the way back was challenging because coming down the back side I got caught by a huge crosswind and felt like I was going to be knocked over. It made me slow down and lose some momentum in speed. The drops were not helping my eyes. It was hard to see and the winds were still beating me down. But I kept pedaling. The faster I pedaled, the sooner I’d be done. And it was nice when I got back to Thomas Drive and the stretch by the hotels. It was even nicer when I made that last turn and headed down that last little stretch before entering the chute again. I rode all the way to the dismount line and got off.

As soon as I crossed that line, an awesome volunteer grabbed my bike and I ran to get my T2 bag. Before I got in the tent, I had my helmet and gloves off. This time, the change tent was not so crowded. A volunteer asked if I needed help. I don’t do a lot in T2 except get rid of the cycling stuff and change shoes so I didn’t need help, but I still couldn’t see. From listening to the girl next to me, I wans’t the only one.

When I had all I needed for the run, I left the tent and headed for the run exit. In the meantime, I turned on the garmin (I wore one on the bike and a different on the run to make sure the battery lasted the whole time) and hoped it would find a satellite quickly. It wasn’t. I needed to set it to the interval training so I would have my “beeps” for my run and walk segments, but I had a hard time seeing the screen. It was very frustrating. Once I got it ready, I left transition and began my run.

As I started the run, my legs felt a little heavy but really not bad at all. I’ve trained for this. I knew they would get better. I told myself to just stick to my 4/1 and go. It worked great. After a couple of walk breaks my legs felt great. I passed Kathy G and she told me I looked strong. I felt great. The only problem was that I still couldn’t see. At least it was still daylight. For now.

Run/walk, run/walk, run/walk. My plan was working like a charm. Soon I was in the state park turning around to head back. I knew I was averaging just over 10 minute miles and I was very pleased with that. It was great being out on the course with so many people. And for a large part of the run I was close to Jack Chen (the inspirational hero who was blind) and his running partner. It was amazing to watch them run together, only connected by a short rope. The guide would warn Jack when they were coming to a speed bump or when they would be turning. He would let Jack know when they were coming to an aid station and help him get water. Truly amazing.

Before I knew it I was at the halfway point. As I rounded to corner, volunteers were shouting out numbers for the run special needs bags. I knew I was going to grab mine because the sun was almost down and it was getting colder. I wanted my gloves that I had put in there. And, another nice surprise was that right as I was turning the corner I saw some friends from home that had gone to watch some of their other friends. Seeing people you know on the course always gives you a boost of energy.

I grabbed my special needs bag and attempted to get to my gloves, but my hands were cold so the volunteer asked what I want and got it for me. Awesome! The volunteers were amazing.

I knew that for me, for doing a marathon in an Ironman, I was having a great run. I was excited to head back out on that second loop. I saw my family several times on the run and that was nice and I chatted with other participants along the way. As the sun went down and it got dark, though, it got tougher for me. Not because I was sore or tired, but because I had a harder time seeing where I was going. There are parts of the course, especially the part through the state park, that are really dark. In order to try and help, the race director had gotten extra spotlights to light the course. This was great when the lights were behind you, but when you were running toward them it was as if the sun was right in your eyes as it’s setting and you couldn’t see a thing. So, not only could I not see clearly through my contacts, but now I also couldn’t see anything because of the blinding light in front of me. I ran toward those lights with my hands shielding my eyes a lot of times. And I just hoped there was someone in front of me to follow. I could only imagine at that point how jack Chen felt running the whole thing without being able to see at all.

I think one of the highlights of the run was between mile 21 and mile 22. I was running one of my run segments at that point and there was another female runner next to me. We passed two guys who happened to be walking at that point and I heard one say to the other as we passed, “dude, we are seriously getting chicked”. Getting “chicked” means a female is kicking a guy’s booty. I had to smile and laugh. I also thought to myself, “yeah, you are probably getting chicked because you probably pushed too hard on the bike.”

Toward mile 24 it started getting harder to run again after my walk breaks. I knew I had slowed down but tried to keep running. Since I couldn’t read my watch, I had no idea what my elapsed time was or how well I may be doing, but I knew I would finish. There was no doubt in my mind about that. I walked for a while and just enjoyed being out there. I talked to folks, I told them good job, I thanked the spectators. It was an amazing feeling.

And then I turned toward the finish. There were lots of people lining the finish chute. I still had a ways to go and was still walking at that point. And then I heard someone say “you are almost there, you can run it in”. And so I started to run. And I ran down that chute and I heard people cheering and I could see (kind of) the finish line. Since my eyes were still foggy I didn’t even try to find my family. I just ran. And then I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face.

Patrick had volunteered as a finish line catcher and was waiting for me as I crossed which was great, because I couldn’t see a thing. I wasn’t even able to read the finish line clock to see what my finish time was, so I asked him. He told me just under 14 hours. Really????? I never imagined I would finish in that time. I was excited. It turns out my marathon time was only 20 minutes slower than my stand alone marathon PR. Wow!

I walked around to keep my legs moving while he went to get my morning bag and my warm clothes. I had my medal, my finisher hat and my finisher shirt. I stopped to get my finisher picture taken and then as I was heading to get my massage I ran into my family and Brandi. I was glad I got to see them there because I know how chaotic the finish area can be. They went to get warm while I went to get my massage.

After the massage I put on some more warm clothes and we called my parents to see where their car was. I was not going to walk back to the house. They picked up me and Patrick while Brandi and Joel went to get my bike and transition bags.
Once back at the house I ate a salad and cole slaw from Chick-fil-a and drank a coke. Then we enjoyed some cookies they had made me and toasted with some champagne. What a day it had been.

Once everyone left, I lay on the couch for a while longer and read my facebook messages from the day and also read some posts on the triathlon forum. It is truly amazing to me how many people checked in through the day to see how I was doing. I am truly blessed.

Eventually I got up and took a warm shower and crawled into bed. I’m pretty certain I fell asleep really fast, but I do know that I fell asleep knowing – I AM an Ironman!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rain Go Away!

“The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It’s your mind you have to convince. “ Coach Lombardi

Tuesday morning I left home and headed for Panama City Beach. We made it to Biloxi, Mississippi, before stopping for the night. After getting up, getting in a short run, and eating breakfast this morning, we loaded the truck and continued our journey – in the rain.

Yes, folks, it has been raining all day. I don’t know if it is outer bands from the tropical depression in the Atlantic or if it’s just a system moving through, but it better move through.

Once we arrived in Panama City Beach (PCB), we ate lunch and then I headed to the rental house to check in and unload my stuff. After that it was off to the athlete check-in. I got my wrist band, my race numbers and my swim cap. Only the guy writing my number on my swim cap didn’t know what he was doing. I’m #2484, but the way he wrote the numbers on it, it looks like I’m either #2424 or #8484. Good thing I have a sharpie with me.

After getting all my stuff and doing a little shopping, it was time to get my massage. The only bad part was that it was under a big tent – outside. The massage was good but it was a little cold with the wind blowing and sometimes the rain would blow in and hit me. Oh well. I have hot chocolate at the house.

After some dinner it was time to hit the grocery store. Then it was time to start laying things out. And now it’s time to hit the bed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Final Countdown

"I told myself there was no way I was going to let this training go to waste. It was my time, and I was ready to go." Katie Hoff

In four days I will be standing on the beach in Panama City Beach, Florida, to start my final journey of becoming an Ironman. Those last 140.6 miles will be the sweet end to a long journey.

I will leave in just a couple of hours to head to PCB. A lot of thoughts are going through my head, but in my heart I know I am ready. I have done the training and I have put in the time.

The following is something that I found on the triathlon forum I visit. I did not write it, nor do I know who did. It was not written for me, but for another athlete, probably by their coach. But it says it all. Everytime I read it, I get excited, nervous, emotional, and yes, a little teary eyed. Enjoy.


Right now you are about to enter the taper. Perhaps you've been at this a few months, perhaps you've been at this a few years. For some of you this is your first IM, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to a race that few can match.

You've been following your schedule to the letter. You've been piling on the mileage, piling up the laundry, and getting a set of tan lines that will take until next year to erase. Long rides were followed by long runs, which both were preceded by long swims, all of which were followed by recovery naps that were longer than you slept for any given night during college.

You ran in the snow.
You rode in the rain.
You ran in the heat.
You ran in the cold.

You went out when others stayed home.
You rode the trainer when others pulled the covers over their heads.

You have survived the Darwinian progression that is an Ironman summer, and now the hardest days are behind you. Like a climber in the Tour de France coming over the summit of the penultimate climb on an alpine stage, you've already covered so much ground...there's just one more climb to go. You shift up, you take a drink, you zip up the jersey; the descent lies before you...and it will be a fast one.

Time that used to be filled with never-ending work will now be filling with silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, your mind cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you.

It won't be pretty.

It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren't ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn't know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth:

You are ready.

Your brain won't believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish - that there is too much that can go wrong.

You are ready.

Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It's the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides in April, and long swims every damn weekend will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, "How will I ever be ready?" to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go...knowing that you'd found the answer.

It is worth it. Now that you're at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it.

You are ready.

You will walk into the water with 2000 other wide-open sets of eyes. You will look upon the sea of humanity, and know that you belong. You'll feel the chill of the water crawl into your wetsuit, and shiver like everyone else, but smile because the day you have waited for so VERY long is finally here.

You will tear up in your goggles. Everyone does.

The helicopters will roar overhead.
The splashing will surround you.

You'll stop thinking about Ironman, because you're now racing one.

The swim will be long - it's long for everyone, but you'll make it. You'll watch as the shoreline grows and grows, and soon you'll hear the end. You'll come up the beach and head for the wetsuit strippers. Three people will get that sucker off before you know what happening, then you’ll head for the bike.

The voices, the cowbells, and the curb-to-curb chalk giving you a hero's sendoff can't wipe the smile off your face.

You'll settle down to your race. The crowds will spread out on the road. You'll soon be on your bike, eating your food on your schedule, controlling your Ironman.

You'll start to feel that morning sun turn to afternoon sun. It's warmer now. Maybe it's hot. Maybe you're not feeling so good now. You'll keep riding. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep moving. After all, this is just a long training day with valet parking and catering, right?

You'll put on your game face, fighting the urge to feel down as you ride for what seems like hours. You reach special needs, fuel up, and head out.

By now it'll be hot. You'll be tired. Doubts will fight for your focus. Everyone struggles here. You've been on that bike for a few hours, and stopping would be nice, but you won't - not here. Not today.

You'll grind the false flats to the climb. You'll know you're almost there. You'll fight for every inch of road. The crowd will come back to you here. Let their energy push you. Let them see your eyes. Smile when they cheer for you - your body will get just that little bit lighter.


You'll plunge down the road, swooping from corner to corner, chaining together the turns, tucking on the straights, letting your legs recover for the run to come - soon! You'll roll back - you'll see people running out. You'll think to yourself, "Wasn't I just here?" The noise
will grow. The chalk dust will hang in the air - you're back, with only 26.2 miles to go. You'll relax a little bit, knowing that even if you get a flat tire or something breaks here, you can run the damn bike into T2.

You'll roll into transition. 100 volunteers will fight for your bike. You'll give it up and not look back. You'll have your bag handed to you, and into the tent you'll go. You'll change. You'll load up your pockets, and open the door to the last long run of your Ironman summer - the one that counts.

You'll take that first step of a thousand...and you'll smile. You'll know that the bike won't let you down now - the race is down to your own two feet. The same crowd that cheered for you in the shadows of the morning will cheer for you in the brilliant sunshine of a summer Sunday. High-five people on the way out. Smile. Enjoy it. This is what you've worked for all year long.

That first mile will feel great. So will the second. By mile 3, you probably won't feel so good.

That's okay. You knew it couldn't all be that easy. You'll settle down just like you did on the bike, and get down to your pace. You'll see the leaders coming back the other way. Some will look great - some won't. You might feel great, you might not. No matter how you feel, don't panic - this is the part of the day where whatever you're feeling, you can be sure it won't last.

You'll keep moving. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep eating. Maybe you'll be right on plan - maybe you won't. If you're ahead of schedule, don't worry - believe. If you're behind, don't panic - roll with it. Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for Ironman, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is like trying to land a man on the moon. By remote control. Blindfolded.

How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don't waste energy worrying about things - just do what you have to when you have to, and keep moving. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Just don't sit down - don't EVER sit down.

You'll make it to the halfway point. You'll load up on special needs. Some of what you packed will look good, some won't. Eat what looks good, toss the rest. Keep moving. Start looking for people you know. Cheer for people you don't. You're headed in - they're not. They want to be where you are, just like you wanted to be when you saw all those fast people headed into town. Share some energy - you'll get it right back.

Run if you can.
Walk if you have to.
Just keep moving.

The miles will drag on. The brilliant sunshine will yawn. You'll be coming up to those aid stations fully alive with people, music, and chicken soup. TAKE THE SOUP. Keep moving.

You'll soon only have a few miles to go. You'll start to believe that you're going to make it. You'll start to imagine how good it's going to feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs just don't want to move anymore, think about what it's going to be like when someone catches you…and puts a medal over your head... all you have to do is get there.

You'll start to hear the people in town. People you can't see in the twilight will cheer for you. They'll call out your name. Smile and thank them. They were there when you left on the bike, and when you came back, and when you left on the run, and now when you've come back.

You'll enter town. You'll start to realize that the day is almost over. You'll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run a 10-minute mile (if you're lucky), but you'll ask yourself, "Where did the whole day go?" You'll be standing on the edge of two feelings - the desire to finally stop, and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as possible.

You'll hit mile 25. Your Ironman will have 1.2 miles - just 2KM left in it.

You'll run. You'll find your legs. You'll fly. You won't know how, but you will run. The lights will grow brighter, brighter, and brighter. Soon you'll be able to hear the music again. This time, it'll be for keeps.

Soon they'll see you. Soon, everyone will see you. You'll run towards the lights, between the fences, and into the night sun made just for you.

They'll say your name.
You'll keep running.
Nothing will hurt.

The moment will be yours - for one moment, the entire world will be looking at you and only you.

You'll break the tape at the finish line, 140.6 miles after starting your journey. The flash will go off.

You'll stop. You'll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and capable of nothing more.

Someone will catch you.
You'll lean into them.

It will suddenly hit you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

10 Days

I don't have a quote tonight because, frankly, I'm being lazy and don't want to go downstairs to get my folder that has the quotes in it. I have 10 days until Ironman Florida and I am in taper mode. I still have workouts on the calendar, but they are shorter and the body is saying "take it easy".

I had a swim and a bike on the schedule today, but we also had haircuts, so my time got cut short. I went to do the swim and about 30 minutes in decided I was done. I came home, grabbed something to eat, made myself a cup of hot chocolate and am now relaxing in the recliner. The bike will not get done tonight. I may move it to another day. Or I may not. At this point I'm not going to gain any additional fitness. I can just maintain.

I have short workouts this weekend and will spend my "free" time packing. I will be heading out early next week. I am getting excited and can't wait to be around other triathletes doing the race. We got bib numbers assigned this week, so that made things more real. I am #2484. At least it's fairly easy to remember.

Stay tuned in the coming days for more updates. I will try to do some updating from the road and once I get to Panama City Beach. I'm sure I will have lots of thoughts going through my head.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

25 Days Until Ironman Florida

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Last November, on the day after Ironman Florida 2009, I took the single step to begin MY journey to become an Ironman when I got in line to register for Ironman Florida 2010. After covering thousands of miles in the pool, on the bike, and on foot, my journey is closer to becoming a reality. In 25 days, I will be participating in Ironman Florida with the goal of crossing the finish line before midnight.

With 25 days to go, I thought I would share with you 25 things that I have learned along this journey.

1. Your body is capable of doing more than you think it is. In the past when I would train for just a marathon (no swimming or biking), I would follow the plan, but still not reach 100 miles of running a month. With Ironman training, I have hit over 100 miles of running in a month several times, in addition to the swimming and biking. And my body seems to be handling it ok.

2. Getting up at 4am to get in a workout sucks. But once you are up, it’s really not that bad. And running at 4am when it’s dark and quiet outside is actually kind of peaceful. Unless you encounter skunks, or dogs, or the crazy paper boy/man.

3. Speaking of said paper boy – he is a crazy driver and it is best to jump up on the sidewalk when you see him coming. He does not stop at stop signs, nor does he obey the speed limit sign. At least not in my neighborhood.

4. I should have asked Chick-fil-a to sponsor me and hope for free food. That seems to be my choice of post-long-ride refueling these days. I know it is weird for a vegetarian to love Chick-fil-a so much, but the side salad, cole slaw, fries and a coke are perfect for re-energizing my body.

5. Compression socks and sleeves are my friend. The hot pink ones are the best for embarrassing the kids.

6. I’ve always loved college football, but I love it even more because it provides a perfect excuse to lay around on Saturday afternoon and evenings (in compression socks) and recover. No one cares that I am unproductive because everyone else is laying around watching college football, too.

7. Massages are not a luxury, they are a necessity.

8. Time management is critical. I have been able to work my job, get in my workouts, and still make almost all of my kids’ volleyball, soccer and football games. The few that I have missed have been missed because I had a race scheduled before I knew of the game, or because I’m at the other kid’s game. I still haven’t figured out how to be two places at once.

9. Sometimes you have to choose between eating, stretching or sleeping. There just aren’t enough hours.

10. You don’t have to be old to go to bed early. There have been nights where I have been in bed by 8:30 or 9:00. And I’m ok with that. Sleep is good.

11. When you sign up for an Ironman a year in advance you think you have time to do all kinds of things. Next thing you know, you have 25 days and lots to do!

12. Either spend a fortune on a bathing suit or buy a LOT of cheap ones. The chlorine of the pool will make certain parts of your suit very thin and you will NOT want to wear it to the pool.

13. Race wheels for the bike ROCK!

14. Chipseal roads are not fun to ride on. Period. And neither are roads with potholes or huge cracks. If I wanted to ride on those kinds of roads, I’d ride my mountain bike.

15. Headwinds and hills can be brutal (in cycling or running), but they will make you stronger.

16. Skipping a workout every now and then will not be detrimental to your training. Your mind may think so, but your body will thank you.

17. It is next to impossible to find a hot pink and/or lime green tri top. I knew I wanted something that would stand out so that family and friends can spot me on the course easier. I happen to like hot pink and lime green and the search was on. I found some cycling jerseys in those colors, but nothing in a tri jersey that was sleeveless. I settled on an outfit with those colors in it. I did, however, find some hot pink arm warmers if I need them.

18. You can try to be as prepared as possible, but there are things that you just can’t prepare for. Like the weather. But also, course changes. We just found out the Ironman Florida bike course is changed for this year. I drove it last year so I would know what to expect. Now I will need to drive it again this year when I get there.

19. You will have good days and you will have bad days. That’s why it’s called TRAINING. If you have faced it all in training, hopefully when race day gets here you will know what to do and you WILL cross that finish line.

20. Most people who ask you about your Ironman will tell you that you are crazy. Just smile and say “yes, I am”.

21. Your kids will hate it when their coach finds out what you are doing, because they will expect your child to have the stamina and endurance you have.

22. Some foods can be eaten before a big workout and some cannot. Stay away from the ones than cannot.

23. It’s ok to walk during some of your run. Chances are you aren’t going to make it through the whole 26.2 miles without walking on race day, so it’s ok to practice during training. Plus, it makes recovery a little easier.

24. Everyone will have an opinion about what you should or should not be doing. Trust in YOUR plan. You picked it for a reason.

25. You can’t get to the destination without the journey. My journey is almost over. Final destination – Panama City Beach, Florida, November 6, 2010.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Redman Full Aqua Bike Race Report

"That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Short Report: Full Aquabike in 8:45:00

The training plan I am using for IMFL has a half Ironman 8 weeks out from race day. I did not feel I needed to do another HIM, nor was there one that fit the schedule. Many people I know who have done full IMs however, have done full AquaBike races for training and Redman had one 6 weeks out. I thought that would be the best thing for me to do, so I signed up.

I left for Oklahoma City Thursday after work and got there late in the evening. I checked into the hotel and watched tv to relax. During the show I kept hearing what sounded almost like constant knocking and I kept thinking “this better not happen tomorrow night” as the race was Saturday morning. Eventually I figured out it was actually a “gurgling” coming from the pipes in the restroom. I made a note to tell the front desk Friday morning.

Friday morning I slept in a little bit and then got up and headed over to the race sight. They say never do anything new for race day, but several people had convinced me to get some race wheels and try them out and I wanted to ride my bike with them Friday to make sure all was ok. I also wanted to check out the race venue. I took my wetsuit and stuff in case I decided to swim, but by the time I got down to the water they were not letting anyone else in the water. That was fine with me. I got on the bike and road on the path around the lake for about 30 minutes. Wheels seemed fine, so I packed up and went to find some breakfast.

After breakfast and a shower I decided to drive the race course. The bike course changed this year. Last year it was a two loop course. This year it would be a four loop course, so it wouldn’t take too long to drive. There were lots of 90 degree turns, some really rough roads, and a few decent rollers. There was also one section indicated on the map as a “no passing” zone. It wasn’t too long so I figured that wouldn’t affect me much.

After that I grabbed a sandwich from Subway and a quick 45 minute nap. Then it was time to head back to the race site and check in. I got my race numbers and my race swag and then decided to try to find the massage people. The website had said they would be there and my back was killing me from the very uncomfortable bed at the hotel. Found one guy and it turns out they have had low response in the past so they decided not to offer massage this year. However, since I was there he said he would work on me. The best thing was he knew how to kinesio tape and I know that works on my back, so he taped me up.

While there, they were also doing the first of the athlete meetings so I sat in for a bit to see if there was anything new I needed to know. Remember those rough roads? Well, normally in a triathlon on the bike you have to stay far right or you get a penalty for blocking. The roads were so rough in areas they told us we could ride where we felt safe and we would not get penalized. Yeah, they were that bad.
At that point it was getting late and I decided to go ahead and check my bike in. Then I would go back and pack my special needs and transition bags and bring those in the morning since that was an option. So I left my bike on my spot and headed to get some pasta for dinner.

Once back at the room I started laying everything out. I was glad I did this race with all the bags, etc. because that’s how Florida will be and it was a little bit different for me. I would be able to get to my bike in the morning so I had to think about what went on my bike and put that in its own bag. And I wanted to use the change tent even though I didn’t really have to so I packed a swim to bike bag for T1. I also packed a special needs bike bag just to get use to that. Then I had my run stuff. Even though I was only doing the AquaBike I was going to do a brick run after, so I had to have that ready. The other thing I had to do was put my “tattoos” on. This race had your race number as temporary tattoos. That was neat, but the numbers were huge and covered all of the top part of my arm. Then it was time for bed.

The alarm went off nice and early race morning. I got up and got moving, ate my prerace meal and got dressed. Made my nutrition for the bike and put it in the bags. Made sure I had all my bags and headed to the race site.

At the race site I turned in my T1 and special needs bags, got my bike set up, and set up my run stuff for when I was done. Several of the girls doing the aquabike were doing it in prep for IMAZ or IMCozumel. I wasn’t the only one doing this as a training race. When it was time, I put on my wetsuit and headed down to the water. Water temp was 74 degrees according to the race director.

As a full aquabike participant, I would be going off in the first wave with the full distance athletes. While smaller than an Ironman branded race, this was still good for me to go off in a mass start with male and females. When they announced 30 seconds until start, I started my watch and waited for the gun to blow.

The starting horn actually startled me a bit, but I dove in the water and started my swim. I had started on the right hand side about 3 deep back. Next thing I know, however, I’m inside near the buoys. It’s my natural instinct to want to hug the buoys and get the shortest swim I can. The interesting thing in this swim that I noticed was that there were lots of people walking. The course was a rectangle course and the first long leg ran parallel to the shore. And apparently, the water was shallow enough almost the whole length of that leg that people could stand up and walk if they wanted. Many people did. I did not. I thought to myself “I won’t be able to stand up in Florida if I get tired, so I’m not doing it here”. Yeah, I know in the beginning at Florida I will be able to walk and at the end, but if I’m out at the far buoy I won’t be able to stand. Besides, I wanted to SWIM the 2.4 miles.

That first leg, I did get kicked, I did get an elbow to the head that made my ear ring, and I did get to “enjoy” a little bit of the washing machine effect of a mass swim start. That was good for me mentally. As I rounded the first turn things seemed to be thinning out a little. It usually does for me as I am not one of the faster swimmers. The back side of the loop was deeper water so no one could walk here. It was also an area with pockets of colder water that actually felt good but made me glad to have the wetsuit on. As I round the last buoy to head back to the start I decided that when I got there I would stand up briefly to check my time and then swim again. At Florida, we will actually have to get out of the water and cross a timing mat, so I wanted to kind of simulate that. I got back to the start, stood up and saw 43 minutes on my watch. I was very happy but just hoped I could keep the same pace for the second lap.

The second lap was much less congested. In fact, when I would breath I would also check to make sure I wasn’t the only swimmer still out there. As long as I could see another swimmer I was ok. And I just kept telling myself that this was a training day and I would make the cutoff time, so what difference did my time really matter. I got in my groove and swam.

I was happy to round that last buoy and head into the finish area. I swam until I reached the volunteers who were standing at the start of the boat ramp. I stood up and made sure I was safe on the boat ramped, glanced at my watch and saw around 1:28, smiled and then started unzipping the wet suit. I got it unzipped and got the sleeves off and then headed to a stripper to let them do the rest. I only had one lady helping me and the wetsuit got a little stuck coming off my ankles, but she managed it and helped me up. From there I headed into the changing tent.

As I said before, I didn’t really need to use the changing tent, but I wanted to go through the motions. I had put stuff in baggies thanks to advice from more experienced ironman finishers and that seemed to really work. I got my socks out and on my feet, I put on my HR strap and turned my garmin on, I put on my gloves and my sunglasses, set my shoes aside, stuck my extra nutrition in my pocket and then shoved my goggles, cap and wetsuit back in the bag. I left the bag there, grabbed my shoes and ran to my bike. I waited to put my shoes on until I got to my bike because it was a pretty long run and I could run faster without them. When I got to my bike I got them on quick, put my helmet on and took off.

Leaving transition was a little interesting as we had to go a certain way and that meant lifting the bike up onto the sidewalk, down the sidewalk for a bit, and then back down into the parking lot. Not a big deal, but not as fast as just rolling the bike out. I crossed the timing mat, crossed the mount line, got on the bike and took off.

For a little bit it seemed like my computer was bouncing around. It would show 13mph then 24mph then 18mph. I didn’t really know what speed I was going but told myself to not push it. I had 112 miles to go on some pretty rough roads.

I am notorious for having to stop and pee at about 20 miles or around an hour of being on the bike. I had hoped to make it through at least on loop before having to stop, but those rough roads heading out seemed to jostle my intestines and my bladder and I knew there was no way I would make it. At the halfway turnaround spot there was an aid station and I decided to stop. Unfortunately so did several others so I had to wait, but let’s just say it was worth it.

Once I emptied myself and was back on the bike I felt great. At least until right before you get back and turn to head to transition. For some reason that spot was a huge wind tunnel. It was a false flat, but nothing steep and it was all I could do to go 10mph. I thought maybe my wheel was rubbing or something and seriously thought about stopping to check it, but once I made the turn I picked up speed again and knew I was ok. Later I would find out other people had problems there as well.

I made it through the second loop without stopping and was still feeling pretty good. I have been told that special needs at Florida is around mile 50, so I had told myself I would stop at special needs which was at the 56 mile mark. Besides I had 2 empty bottles and needed to mix more infinit. And while there, I might as well use the potty, right. While I was waiting for an open potty, a volunteer brought me my special needs bag and I grabbed a few peanut m&ms out of there. Another volunteer brought me cold water to mix my bottles. It worked out well. Back on the bike for 2 more laps.

The third lap went fine, but you could tell the half folks were done because the course was a lot less crowded. It was good because you didn’t have to worry about drafting and when you went through the rough spot you could pretty much ride in the middle of the road. The third loop went fine and I thought I could make the fourth loop without stopping. However, it seemed the sun was finally warming things up and the heat was getting to me. I decided to stop at the mid way aid station this time and drink some cold water as well as dump it on my head. I did just that and it felt great. After that, when I passed an aid station I grabbed a bottle of water at the start, drank several sips, squirted some on my head and then chunked it at the end of the aid station. This worked well.

After doing the loop so many times I knew exactly where I was on the course and exactly how much I had to go until I finished. I pushed it hard on the smooth spots, put it in an easy spin gear on the rough spots and climbs and even got out of the saddle in parts just to get off the seat for a while. My legs were feeling great and I was happy. I had a huge smile on my face coming into transition. I stopped, got off my bike, headed to my rack and went through the motions of putting my shoes. From there I headed out to officially “end” my race. At Redman, they make the aquabike folks run out of transition just like everyone else, but then you turn a different way and actually cross the actuall finish line. It’s a long run out, but I liked the concept and got to cross the finish line.

Once across, I got my medal, some cold water and my finisher shirt. And then I headed out for a short brick run. My training schedule for the day had me doing a one hour brick run after my long bike. But since I did a longer bike than the schedule called for I decided I could do a shorter run.

I started out running and felt good. And for a while I was actually on the run course for the race. After I got a lot of “you’re doing good” and “keep it up” and “good job” comments I didn’t feel right about that and headed off course. And this meant I didn’t pass any aid stations and didn’t have any water. And it was hot. I did a 9/1, then 2 4/1s and then I walked back to the transition area. I got 35 minutes in and decided that was good. Grabbed some more cold water and headed to the massage tent to get my much needed massage. After that, it was time to load the stuff and get back to the hotel for a shower and some food.

I was very glad I did this race and very pleased with how my day went. I know now that as long as I stick to my nutrition and stay positive that I CAN finish Ironman Florida. I also have an idea now of how long it will take me to do the swim and the bike and know how long I may have for the run.

Sunday morning I went to the awards banquet and found out my time was good enough for 2nd place in the female masters division! (Masters are 40 and older, so it pays to be 40 now!!!) This is probably the only time I’ll get an award for this type of distance and I’ll take it.

Now I just need to get through the next six weeks of training.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

How Hot Is Too Hot?

"You have a choice. You can throw in the towel,or you can you it to wipe the sweat off of your face." - Gatorade

Training during the month of August in Texas is never fun. I think last year we had over 60 days of 100+ temps during the summer. We haven't had that many days over 100 this year, but the days we have had have seemed hotter. In August alone, I think all but maybe 5 days have been over 100 degrees. The high on two days was 105 and one day the high was 107. That's the real temp. The "feels like" temps have been up to 110 degrees. That's just too hot to be working out in.

So what have I been doing? Well, there have been some mornings where I've gotten up at 4am to get in my run before work. I don't really like getting up that early, but it does beat running in 105 degrees. Don't get me wrong. It's still hot at 4am. Like 80 degrees with 100% humidity. I came in one morning from a run and looked like I had ran through someone's sprinklers. I hadn't. But I was soaked. You could wring my clothes out and get a puddle. But it still beats running in the afternoon heat.

There have also been days where I've hit the treadmill or the trainer. I prefer not to do that either, but I'm not going to risk a heat stroke by going outside. I tend to runner slower on the treadmill, so you know my training is ramping up when I've done several treadmill runs and I will have my biggest run month ever this month (so far anyway). I've already run 107 miles this month and I still have at least 3 hours of running to do in the next 3 days.

Speaking of ramping up the training......Ironman Florida is just a little over 2 months away. This coming week will be the start of my peak training weeks. I will continually increase volume until about 3 weeks out and then will enter the taper phase. During my peak, my long bike ride will get up to 6 hours and my long run will get up to 3 hours. I'm just hoping and praying the cooler weather gets here fast.

This morning, I did a 4 hour bike ride followed by a 45 minute run. I started as soon as the sun came up and I have to say, it was a very pleasant (maybe even a bit chilly for me) 68 degrees outside. The first couple hours of the ride were very nice! But, by the time I got done with the ride and started running, the heat was in full force and I did have to wipe the sweat off my face a few times. I'm not throwing in the towel just because of the heat. I am, however, looking forward to the cooler temps of Florida in November.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Has It Really Been That Long?

"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always gve up. It is always tired morning, noon, and night. but the body is never tired if the mind is not tired. When you wer younger the mind could make you dance all night, and the body was never tire. You've always got to make the mind take over and keep going." George S. Patton, U.S. Army General and 1912 Olympian

Wow. I can't believe it's been over a month since I've updated this blog. I guess I HAVE been busy - with training as well as with family stuff. So what's been going on?

Well, I spent the first part of July getting ready for two big events. The first was the trip to Australia that my son went on with the People to People Student Ambassador Program. We needed to make sure he had the clothes he needed, Australian money, and all the essentials for a 14 hour flight. He left on July 14th and returned July 28. He had a wonderful time and brought back lots of memories.

The other thing I planned for was the camping trip we took my daughter on while my son was gone. She wanted to go camping in a tent, so we began our quest to borrow as much as we could and come up with a menu of good tasting vegetarian food to cook while we were camping.

Both of these events were successful in my opinion and I was still able to get my training in. It was actually kind of nice to see deer on my morning runs while we were camping. It would have been so much nicer to not run, but I have a goal and so I made myself get up and get it done.

Training is going well, but it is increasing in volume and I am starting to feel the effects. I can't sit down at night in the recliner to watch tv without falling asleep! My muscles feel fine, but my body needs rest. And with the increase in volume, it's getting harder to fit everything in. A couple of times I've had to set the alarm for 4am to get up and get my run in before work because I knew there would not be time after work. I've gotten pretty good at rearranging things to make it work. We'll see if I can keep that up, though, because things are getting ready to get busier.

At the beginning of August, my son's soccer season started. He had team camp the first week and has scrimmages 2 out of 3 weekends in August with an out of town tournament another weekend. That same week, my daughter had high school volleyball tryouts. She made the freshman A team and her schedule is packed. They had scrimmages Friday and Saturday and they have 3 games (none at home) this coming week. I feel 4am calling my name.

The training plan I'm following has a few more weeks of build. Then I will enter a few weeks of peak training before tapering. During that peak phase, my bike rides will get up to 6 hours of riding. While I'm not overly worried about being on the bike that long (I did a century ride in mid July and felt great), it will be hard to squeeze 6-7 hours of training into a Saturday morning. Mentally and physically. But my mind will have to make my body do it. I have to be ready in November.

I just keep telling myself, "three more months and then I can rest". Ha!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Six Disciplines of Triathlong

"Make friends with pain, and you will never be alone." Ken Chlouber

Everyone knows the three main parts of triathlon - Swim, Bike and Run.

I've always kind of considered the fact that there are really two other parts to doing triathlons as well. And know I'm discovering yet another part to being successful. Lets look at the six parts.

1) The Swim - this is the first discipline of the race day. It's pretty self-explanatory. You have to get through the swim before you can continue. It doesn't matter what kind of stroke you use (and let me tell you, after being a swim angel at the Danskin tri earlier this summer, there are all kinds of strokes used in the swim). There is a lot of debate about how much time to spend on improving the swim, but you do need to be able to get through swim and still have energy for the bike and run.

2) The Bike - again, pretty straight forward. You can technically do the bike on any kind of bike, but as you get better, you either have a road bike or a tri bike.

3) The Run - or the walk. Whatever way you can get through this part on your own two feet is good.

As people first get into triathlons, these three are usually the only thing they focus on. As they improve times in each discipline and/or increase distance, they start focusing on the fourth aspect.

4) Transitions - between the swim and the bike and between the bike and the run, you go through transitions to get ready for the next discipline. These are known as T1 and T2. In the beginning you don't really care what your transition times are, but soon you start to see that if you can cut time from here, your overall time gets lower. You start looking for ways to cut time - go sockless on the bike and/or run; do a running mount to get on/off the bike, etc. Some people have lost out on a podium spot because they had a slower transition time than a fellow competitor. When you're trying to get an award, transition times count.

Once you've got all that down and really start looking at longer distance tris, the fifth part comes into play.

5) Nutrition - For the sprint and even Olympic distance tris, you can probably get by with water and gatorade as nutrition. You may even have thrown in a gel here or there. And you start watching what you eat for breakfast to make sure it doesn't upset your stomach. As you increase distance to the Half Ironman distance, nutrition plays an even bigger role. Mess up your nutrition at this distance and your race may be ruined.

At my first half ironman, the temps were close to 100 degrees. It was HOT out there on the course. I had never experimented with salt tablets and wasn't going to for the first time in a race, but I probably needed some. I was sweating like crazy and losing electrolytes faster than I could replace them. Because of this, I ended up walking most of the "run". Since then, I've experimented with ways to avoid this problem. And with an Ironman looming on the horizon, nutrition is even more important. How do you prepare your body to work for you for anywhere from 10-17 hours and not have any "real" food? It's all about the nutrition. You have to figure out how much your body can take in and process. If you don't take in enough, you won't have the energy to go on. If you take in too much, your stomach will revolt.

With all of these taken into account, you should be set to go. But what I don't think a lot of people think about is the sixth part of triathlon.

6) Injury/Recovery - as you increase distance the potential for injury increases and you need to know how to prevent it or how to recover from it when it happens. This is the part that I never figured into my training plan and am now having to do that.

I mentioned in my last post that my back was hurting me the day before and during the Lake Pflugerville Tri. On Monday I went to my chiro thinking that if he could get a good pop out of my back I might be fixed. That wasn't the case. And based on what he saw, he told me to rest. Well, that just wasn't going to happen without another opinion. A guy in my office has had success with an Airrosti practitioner, so after confirming insurance coverage I called for an appointment.

Airrosti is a different approach to things and I liked the philosophy behind it. My first visit was kind of like a deep tissue massage/physical therapy session. He evaluated my range of motion and strength several different ways and then went to work trying to loosen up the tight area in my back. After that I went across the hall to foam roll and stretch. Then I was told I need to foam roll EVERY day and I need to stretch and ice the area.

Every day? Yeah, I know I need to, but who has the time? I'm already doing all I can to get in the workouts in between work and the kid's activities. Add in stretching and foam rolling and that adds another 30 minutes at least to the day.

But if stretching and foam rolling will keep me able to do my workouts, then I'm willing to do what I can to get that time in. If I have to stay up a little later I will. I've been doing a pretty good job of getting it in during the past week, but I keep getting new moves/stretches added to my routine of things to do. I can tell the difference from foam rolling and I've seen a big difference in the pain level and range of mobility in my back since doing these things, but I need to keep doing them.

To be successful at the Ironman distance, my triathlons have six parts to them - not just three.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lake Pflugerville Triathlon

"The gun goes off and everything changes....the world changes....and nothing else really matters." Patti Sue Plummer

Today was the local sprint triathlon that takes place in the lake and on the roads where I train. I've done the race since it started. This was the 4th year and it continues to get bigger and better (and more competitive).

I woke up this morning a little unsure of what the day would bring. Every now and then I move a certain way and tweak a nerve or muscle in my lower back. Well, yesterday I did that and could hardly stand up straight or walk normal. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to race today, but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway.

I woke up early and had my standard oatmeal breakfast and then loaded the car and headed to the race site. I got there early because this race is open racking and I wanted to get a good spot on the end. Got body marked and found a spot and then was told the bike out would be on one side and the bike in on the other and everyone would have to make the entire loop at one point or another. After hearing that, I moved my bike to the mid way point near the run out. I hit the port-a-potty and kept trying to stretch the back out. Since it was a local race I saw lots of folks I know.

As I was exiting transition I saw my family. Then I headed to the swim start area where they had the pre race meeting and stated that they were changing the bike in/out and you could now go in or out on either side. I was not happy as I had had a perfect spot in the beginning. Oh well. Too late to change now.

Next thing we know, the swim is starting. All the men went first and then the women went off in age group order. This meant I was toward the end, but I think there were 2-3 waves after me so at least I wasn't last.

When it was time to enter the water, I headed to the front and positioned myself on the inside. I've done this swim many times in practice swims and wanted to follow the buoys as straight as I could. When the horn sounded I took off. I started pushing fairly hard and felt like I was in the front of the pack. I decided to keep pushing as long as I could. By the second buoy (about 200 meters) I passed a swimmer from the wave in front of me. This gave me the energy to keep going. As I rounded the turn bouy to head back to shore, the sun was in my eyes and I had trouble seeing the next buoy. I finally found it and once I passed that I just focused on the yellow flags on shore by the swim exit. And I swam as hard as I could. And I kept swimming until my hand touched bottom and then I stood up and ran. Luckily for me the back seemed to be ok at this point.

Swim Time: 10:56 for 500 meters

I headed into transition. As I bent to put on my bike shoes I realized the back was not going to cooperate and I had to sit on the ground to get them on. I usually don't do that. I got back up, got the gloves and glasses on, put the helmet on, and off I went.

T1: 2:12

As I got on my bike I just hoped my back would cooperate. The first part of the bike course can be very fast if you do it right. Again, I've ridden this course many times in training and knew what I was capable of. I wanted to see if I could beat my best time and I wanted to be above 18mph for the course. A couple of miles in, there is a decent turn that heads right into a decent climb. If you don't know about it, you will slow for the curve and not have momentum to climb the hill. I got lucky and didn't have any riders near me heading into that curve so I was able to maintain my speed. I felt like I was doing a good job of pacing and was passing people, but really only got passed a few times during the bike portion.

Once we got passed the rollers we turned to head back to town and finally had a little bit of a tailwind. The problem is that this portion is a false flat and if you don't realize that you can lose speed here. I tried to keep my speed as high as I could. I kept thinking "push while you can because your back may not cooperate later on the run". I just hoped if the back DID cooperate that my legs would, too.

Just before hitting the turn to head down the access road of the toll road, a 51 year old woman passed me. Dang it. She made a comment about the tailwind and I told her to get ready to fly when she hit the toll road. I made the turn and gave it all I had going down the slight hill and straight away. You can build up some pretty good speed here. I think I may have built up too much and not slowed down enough for the turn to head back to the lake, though. I had to turn wide and hit the brakes. Oops!

As I got closer to the lake I saw my family, gave them a wave and a smile and kept going. One last turn downhill before a slight uphill into transition. I was happy because I knew I was close to my goal time of 45 minutes.

Bike Time: 45:04 for a 18.6mph average

I stopped right before the dismount line, unclipped and got of the bike. And the back had that pain. I thought if I would run through it it might go away, so I jogged to my transition spot. Once again, I had to sit to change shoes and I never do that. Despite that, it was a pretty quick transition.

T2: 1:27

The run out was a little weird as you had to run up the grassy side of the hill to get up to the run path around the lake. That was a little challenging with the back and my foot hit a hole right before I hit the path. But I kept going. I just wanted to keep a steady pace and try to run the whole way. As I got close to the dam I saw my family again. My back was still hurting at that point but the pain was getting less and less. I kept going and was even able to pick up the pace a little bit. Just before mile 1 I saw a women in my age group and made it my goal to pass her. Mission accomplished. The around mile 2 I saw a lady who was in my age group last year and passed me at the end. I made it a goal to pass her. Mission accomplished.

And so it was for the rest of the run. Just get to the next point or the next "rabbit". But on that back stretch, I got passed by a different lady in my age group and I knew I would not catch her. At this point I had no idea how far back I was, but I did not want to get passed again. At lease by anyone in my age group. I did get passed by several 20-30 year olds, but that meant I had passed them on the bike since they started before me, so I didn't mind. As I got closer to the finish I began to pick it up just a little bit. I crossed the line and was glad to be done.

Run time: 26:11 for 8:44/mile pace

Total time: 1:25:52

This was almost 2 minutes faster than my time last year and was good enough for 5th place in my age group. And that 51 year old woman that passed me on the bike - she won her age group. As the quote above says, once that gun went off, I seemed to forget about the back pain and race my race. But you can bet I'll be headed to the chiropractor this week!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Atlas 4000 Ride

On Saturday, June 5, I joined a few other Team in Training teammates and rode in the Atlas 4000 Ride. The Atlas 4000 ride is the first stage of a 4000 mile ride from Austin, Texas to Alaska. Students from the University of Texas raise money to help cancer research and train for the ride which will take 70 days. The first day of the ride is open to any rider willing to pay the entrance fee and it is a point-to-point ride from Austin to Lampassas. It was the first point-to-point ride I've done, but worth it. We ended up with 70 miles of riding and the final stop was at a winery, so we got to do a little wine tasting. That's a nice way to end a ride.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Where Did May Go?

"No one ever drowned in sweat." Author Unknown

I cannot believe today is the last day of May. It seems like the month has flown by. I do want to take time today, however, to thank the men and women who are in the military and who put their lives on the line to protect ours. Because of what you do, I can enjoy the freedom of choosing what I do.

And as most of you are aware, one of the things I have chosen to do this year is Ironman Florida. I have been following my training plan now for about a month and things are going well. I've had to shift days of some workouts due to kid schedules, but it seems to be working out.

The week after the fun run mentioned in my last post, I rode in the Real Ale Ride. I knew it would be a hilly ride as I have ridden many of those roads before, but I didn't realize how humid, hot, and windy it would be. And I didn't realize how much those hills would kick my rear. I have not trained on hills this year. Ironman Florida is flat, so why train on hills? Well, I don't need to train on them all the time, but I do need to ride more hills to make me stronger.

Within the first 10 miles of the ride, I was struggling. My quads were burning and I was dripping with sweat. I was ready for the first aid station to take a little break. Turns out that I was ready for EVERY aid station on the course. We'd go up a hill at 5mph and come down the other side at 35mph. And as the day went on, the wind picked up. And mentally, it beat me down.

Last year in April during a pay ride, I crashed. Turns out my front tire blew out, but it was a windy day and I still associate the crash with the wind. I don't mind wind on flat roads when I'm struggling to go 10mph, but 15-20mph winds when flying down a hill at 35mph messes with my mind. I went as far as I could but at 50 miles I had had enough. I used the SAG vehicle to get back to the start and called it a day. It was one of the hardest things I've had to do.

My run the day after this ride was a suffer fest. My son was confirmed at church that morning, so I delayed my run until the evening. And despite the fact that summer does not officially start until the end of June, the temps around here tell me otherwise. I am completely soaked after every workout done outside.

During the week, I moved my workouts up a day in anticipation of spending most of the Memorial Day weekend at a soccer tournament. We found out Wednesday, however, that the tournament was not going to happen for our boys. I stayed with the plan, though, and decided my body could use a break during the weekend.

So, on Friday I did my long ride. A 40 mile ride in 2 1/2 hours in the 90 degree temps. But, with proper nutrition, it really wasn't that bad. And it was done. I got up Saturday morning and got in my 1:15 run and 7.82 miles. Then the family headed out to the local lake for some relaxation.

While at the lake, I did try to relax, but I couldn't resist riding a lap around the lake on my newest toy. I have a tri bike and a road bike, but can't ride either of those on crushed granite trails or off road. We are going camping this summer so I figured I needed a mountain bike. Hey, one can never have too many bikes, right? Riding the mountain bike will take some getting use to for me. For starters, I have regular pedals on it (for now anyway) and it feels weird for my feet to not be attached to the bike. Then there is the whole issue of sitting up straighter than on the other bikes. That will take some getting use to as well. I think it will be fun to have, though, if I can enjoy it and not take it too seriously.

Sunday after church we headed up to the state park we will be camping at this summer. We wanted to check it out before we go to see what it was like. Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire ring, so that's good. But, we did get some ideas of things we need to get. We need a clothesline to hang between trees and dry the wet clothes. My daughter wants some noodles or floats for hanging out in the lake. We will need fans and LOTS of water to drink. It's a nice place and I'm getting excited about the trip. In fact, we came home and put up the small tent in the backyard. The kids were going to sleep in it last night, but decided their bed sounded more comfy.

This morning I slept in and then went for my run. Only an hour today. I got in 6.29miles, but the humidity messed with my breathing. And sweat dripped in my eyes. I was soaked again. This will be the norm the rest of the summer. For now I will relax, but this afternoon I will head out to the lake again to get my swim in. I'm meeting a friend who will be doing her first triathlon next weekend. I'm excited for her and have decided to volunteer at the tri so I will be there to cheer her on.

I hope you and your family enjoy the Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hardware is NICE!

"Set your sights high, the higher the better. Expect the most wonderful things to happen, not in the future but right now. Realize that nothing is too good. Allow absolutely nothing to hamper you or hold you up in any way." Eileen Caddy

Ever since I started running (training on a regular basis and enterring races) in 2005, I have dreamed of placing in the top 3 of my age group. Today, that dream came true when I got 3rd place in the women 35-39 age group.

Most races around here have thousands of people in them. The top in my age group run 6 minute miles. I've gotten faster over the years, but I've never seen a "6" at the front of a mile time. My only chance is to run fast in some small races. So, a few years ago I started running in the local 5K which starts just a mile from my house. One year I came in 4th, just 20 seconds behind 3rd place. But today, luck was on my side.

I woke up this morning, went through my normal routine and then headed out about an hour before the race. Since the start is so close, I jogged to the start as a warmup. Once I got there, I got my chip, attached it to my shoe, and did some stretching. I hit the port-a-potty and got in line for the start.

As usual, when the gun goes off, I'm passed by a wave of people who sprint out of the gate. I've learned to ignore it and do my thing. I knew the course had some hills in the beginning, but hit mile one at a 7:50 pace. I knew that with the humidity this morning, I couldn't hold that pace, but I was going to give it my best shot.

I hit mile 2 with a split of 8:17 and told myself to hang on. I only had one more mile to go, but was drenched in sweat. There was a little boy about 8 running next to me and I figured if he could do it, so could I. the last mile and a half is either downhill or pretty flat, so I was happy when I hit the corner and started downhill. Then when I turned on the road to the finish, I was happy. I didn't know if I'd get a PR or not, but I just kept pushing. Mile 3 split was 8:17. The last .1 mile took 51 seconds.

And just like that, I was done in 25:13. It wasn't a PR and I wasn't sure it would be good enough, but I kept hoping. When they posted the initial results, I was 2nd, but I had started right up front so I knew that might change and it did. But I stayed at 3rd and got my first hardware ever. I was very happy.

The sad thing is that on my bithday next month I age up to a new age group. If I had already aged up, I would have gotten first place in that age group today. Bummer! How often do you wish you were older than you are?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Busy Times

"You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it." Charles Buxton

Some people think December is the busiest time of the year. For me, I feel like May can be just as busy if not busier. The end of the school year always brings lots of kid activities. And there are always graduation parties. This year is no exception.

Madison has started "summer" league volleyball and it's not even summer yet. These games pretty much take Wednesday evening as it's a drive to get there and back and she plays two games a night, usually an hour apart.

Thanks to the rain we had earlier this year, Dalton has twice as many soccer games in May, thanks to makeup games. This means games on both days of the weekend for a couple of weeks. Plus, he is being confirmed on the 23rd.

But never fear. Somewhere in there I am squeezing my training in. I've had to rearrange a couple of days to squeeze it in, but it's working. I'm making the time.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lonestar 70.3 - Weekend Recap and Race Report

"Confidence comes from planning and practicing well. You get ready during the week and the confidence will be there on Sunday. This confidence is a difficult thing to explain. Butyou do get it if you have prepared." Coach Lombardi

In trying to figure out my plan of preparation for the year leading up to IMFL, I decided to do an early season Half Ironman triathlon to test my nutrition and fitness level. The triathlon I decided to do was the Lonestar 70.3 in Galveston. I started training for this back in December. It turns out I think I made a good decision.

I went down early for this race so that I could get in a practice swim in open water and get a practice swim in with my new wetsuit. I had tried to do an open water swim with the wetsuit here one weekend but the water was so cold that my feet went numb the moment they hit the water. I really wanted to get in an open water swim in the wetsuit before race day. Friday morning I got checked in for the race and then Friday afternoon I met a bunch of folks I've only known from the online triathlete forum I frequent. We met at a small private lake in Houston. There were probably about 15 people there. Some were preparing for the sprint or Olympic race on Saturday, but most were preparing for the HIM on Sunday like me. I probably swam about .5 mile total and felt the wetsuit fit well and I was comfortable with the open water. After the swim, a few of us went to eat lunch together before heading back to Galveston.

Saturday morning I got up early and headed to the race site. I knew a few people racing today and wanted to support and cheer them on. It was a little chilly and fairly windy, but nothing compared to the 75 mph winds that had blown through around 1:00 a.m. But that all changed right before the swim was scheduled to start. About 6:40, the winds picked up to about 40mph and the once somewhat calm water in the bay was now covered in white caps. The race director announced a 15 minute delay in the start. Not long after that, the announcement came that the swim was being cancelled and the race would basically be a duathlon with cyclists leaving every 3 seconds from transition. This was a big disappointment, but you cannot control the weather. Most people did the bike and run but there were also a lot that did not. Cycling is not fun in 25mph winds, so I don't blame those who chose not to continue the race.

Saturday afternoon I met some more "online" friends for a nice lunch. Then I took my bike to the race to get it checked in and racked and then spent the afternoon laying out my race gear and packing my transition bag. After my normal pasta dinner it was an early bedtime.

Sunday morning the alarm went off at 3:30am. I don't like to feel rushed on race morning and I wanted to be at the race site when transition opened at 5:00am. I got up, got on my race clothes, ate my oatmeal, prepared my strawberry/banana shake, prepared my race nutrition, checked my bag one last time and headed to the race. After getting body marked, I headed to my bike to get my transition area set up.

The weather this morning was much nicer than yesterday. It was a little bit chilly, but with somewhat calm winds for being right on the ocean. The race was scheduled to start at 7:00am with the pro men going off. My wave was the last swim wave of the day, scheduled to go off at 8:15. I knew that I would have a long wait, so after double and triple checking my transition site, I grabbed some extra nutrition along with my wetsuit and headed to the swim start.

At the swim start I found several other Team in Training buddies and chatted with them for a while. I was getting cold so I went ahead and put my wetsuit on and then ate my Lara Bar and drank my Gatorade. One by one my buddies left to get in their swim waves. I was pretty bummed about starting in the last swim wave mentally and it only got worse as the beach got less and less crowded as wave after wave started the race. The only good thing about being in the last wave was that I figured I had a good shot at watching the pros coming back in on their bikes as I was heading out (more on that later).

Finally, it was our time to head down the pier and jump in the bay for our deep water swim start. I was the first one in the water. I don't like jumping in cold water, but when I hit the water, I realized it really wasn't all that cold. I swam right up to the front of the buoys and waited until they said it was time to go. As soon as we started swimming I was immediately passed by lots of women in my wave. Again, this was mentally challenging knowing that I might be one of the last swimmers out of the water. I tried not to think about it and just swim my swim.

The waves were a little stronger than they looked from the shore and it made breathing on the left side a little challenging at times as a wave would hit right as you were taking a breath. Luckily for me, I can breathe on either side. About the third buoy, I passed a yellow swim cap which was the color of the wave in front of me. They had started 5 minutes ahead of us, so I knew that I wouldn't be the last one out of the water. Mentally this was good.

As I rounded the buoy to head across the bay, swimming became tougher. The wind and the waves were now coming straight at my head, making forward progress tough. And because I was so far back, there was no one to draft off of. I did pass a couple more yellow caps and even a couple of red caps from an even earlier wave, but I still new I was near the back. I didn't want to over exert myself though and not have a good bike or run, so I just kept swimming at my slow pace.

Finally I turned at the buoy to head toward shore. It seemed like it had taken forever. They had told us to swim all the way to the ramp before standing up so that our feet would not get cut by standing on the live oyster bed, so that's what I did. I would have liked to stand up sooner, but didn't want to risk cutting my feet.

As I got out of the water I started taking off the wetsuit. Wetsuit strippers were provided at this race and since they will also be at IMFL I decided to take advantage and use them. I got my arms out of the sleeves and got the suit down a little past my hips. As I approached the strippers, I laid down on the ground and stuck my feet in the air. They grabbed my suit, counted to three and yanked it off. It was actually a very quick process. It was only at that point that I looked at my watch and I did not like what I saw. I saw 52:XX on my watch. I had started it a minute before my wave start and I wasn't exactly sure where the swim stopped and T1 started, but I had been hoping for around 45 minutes for the swim.

Official Swim Time: 50:19 (2:38/100m pace)

Even though I didn't like the time, I kept jogging to my bike. I threw the wetsuit down, put on my bike shoes, gloves, sunglasses, and helmet, grabbed my bike and ran out of transition.

Official T1 Time: 3:20

Once I got to the mount line, I got on my bike and took off. The roads leading from transition through Moody Gardens and out to the Seawall were a little rough, so I had told myself to take it easy until I got to the Seawall. As soon as I turned on Seawall, I found a gear I liked and kept a steady pace. I passed several people and got passed by a few. Again, it was mentally challenging knowing that I was at the back of the pack just because of being in the last swim wave.

And just as I previously thought, I did see the pros come back in on the bike. That was pretty cool as there were some big name pros at this race. Of course, looking at them across the road, I had no idea who was who, but it was still pretty neat.

I had driven the bike course on Friday so I knew what to expect. The course was mostly flat. The road on the way out had recently been repaved, so it was nice and smooth. there was on spot at about mile 22 just before heading over the San Luis pass that got a little rough and the 6 miles from the pass to the turnaround were not all that great, but overall it was a good course.

Heading out on the smooth road was nice, but there was a crosswind/slight headwind. I didn't want to hammer too hard and ruin my legs for the run, so I stayed pretty conservative, but managed to get in decent speeds. I kept looking for my friends that were racing to see if I could see them heading back in. I passed one friend on the way out. And somewhere around the pass I saw another one heading back in. Shortly after that I saw the other one. They were maybe 15-20 miles ahead of me so I figured roughly an hour.

Finally, I hit the turnaround spot. The wind was now a crosswind/slight tailwind and I noticed my speed increase with little more effort. All along, I was sipping my Infinit. And I was successful in changing out the bottle to my rear hydration when I finished the first one. I was feeling good and as I got closer and closer to the end I passed more and more people. I think they had gone out too hard to begin with and had nothing left in the tank. It felt so good to make the final turn off of Seawall and head back to Moody Gardens - until the hard headwind slowed me down. I'm just gratefull we didn't have that for a large portion of the bike.

As I got to the dismount line, I stopped, unclipped and took off running back to my spot. My legs were not happy but I made them keep moving.

Official Bike Time: 3:22:06 for a 16.63 mph average.
The first 28 mile split was 1:43:31 for a 16.23 mph average
The second 28 mile split was 1:38:35 for a 17.04 mph average

Once I got back to my spot, I racked my bike, took off my helmet, gloves and shoes and put on my running shoes. I was out of there.

Official T2: 2:09

My legs were still getting that running feel to them but it felt good to know I was on the last leg of the race. The run was a four loop course, so I told myself to take it one loop at a time. As I ran past the first aid station, I grabbed some Gatorade. I decided I would alternate between Gatorade and water. I watched for the mile markers since I was unfamiliar with the run course. I knew each loop would be a little over 3 miles. There were also a lot of out and back parts of the run course so I kept an eye open for my friends. Surprisingly enough, I saw them all on the run course at some point or another.

As I passed each mile marker I glanced at my watch to gage my splits and make sure I wasn't going to fast. I was getting in around 9 minute miles at first. My goal was to try to run the whole thing and I felt ok with 9-10 minute miles. Because the day was heating up and the sun was bearing down, I grabbed something at every aid station. And when cold sponges were offered, you can bet I took them. I got through lap 2 without walking at all, but starting on lap 3 I allowed myself to walk through the aid stations as I grabbed a drink. This seemed to be a good thing as I felt like I was stronger on the runs in between aid stations. And it finally felt good to be in the mix with and passing men. I had no idea what lap most of them were on, but I finally felt like I wasn't at the very back. The only bad thing was that at this point I could feel a blister on my second toe on my left foot. I ignored it and hoped it wouldn't bother me by the end.

As I was finishing my third lap I came upon one of my TNT buddies finishing his fourth lap. I wished him well and continued on. And when I hit the fourth lap still able to run strong between aid stations, I was happy. I knew at this point I would get a PR (personal record for those who don't know), I just didn't know by how much. As I crossed the finished and looked at my watch I was happy.

Official Run Time: 2:13:08 for a 10:09 mile averageLap 1: 30:49 (9:24mm)
Lap 2: 33:36 (10:15mm)
Lap 3: 34:17 (10:28mm)
Lap 4: 34:26 (10:30mm)

I was fairly consistant each lap and was only about 16 minutes off my stand alone PR for a half marathon. And I don't normally run well in the heat.

Official Finish Time: 6:31:02

Yes, this is a new PR. By about 25 minutes. Even though I was disappointed with the swim, I was happy with how the day turned out. It seems my nutrition and pacing on the bike was right on to allow me to have a strong run. And despite the mental challenges of starting in the last wave and being at the back for so long, I didn't let it get the best of me. I learned some things that work for me and I learned some things I need to work on. I have a little over 6 months before IMFL, so I have plenty of time. Planning and practicing will definitely pay off.