Monthly Archives: July 2008

7/28/08 Just Getting Warmed Up

7/28/08  Monday.  Seems hard to believe Ironman was a week ago.  I did a lot of celebrating last week and I think I’m celebrated out.  I really didn’t party that hard, it was more the socializing than the drinking and eating.  I feel really good physically.  In fact I feel BETTER now than I did before Ironman.  I’m not sure I really got 100% rested before the race but now I feel really strong, well rested and charged up to start the next phase.  I think my recovery was very fast. I have not a single ache or pain in my body.  That’s amazing if you ask me.

Two days after the race it was hard for me to sit down or stand up but the more I moved the better I felt.    By Wednesday I was fine to drive back home with some stretch breaks.   Felt about 80% recovered.

On Thursday I had the second part of my cycling test at the sports institute.  I knew I would be riding for 2 hours and wasn’t sure how that would go.  It went fine.  In fact it felt good to move.  Before getting on the bike, they hooked a bunch of electrodes up to my muscles and asked me to kick very hard so they could measure my effort.  Then during my effort they stuck a big magnet on my quad and issued a pulse to see if I was really maxing my muscle or could they make it work harder.  Then they had me do nothing and just sent a charge through my muscle for 4 seconds to see if they could make my muscle work harder all on it’s own without me telling me to tell it what to do. 

After that I had to get on the bike and ride for 2 hours maintaining a certain heart rate.  First 15 minutes I was not getting my heartrate up so I had to stand and ride for a bit to get it up.  Finally I got it to the place they wanted and just kept pedalling.  Every 15 minutes they stuck a tube in my mouth to measure my breath.  Then they made me sprint for 1 minute.  We repeated that for 2 hours and then they made me to a final sprint for 6 minutes.  The point was to try to get my muscles exhausted.  I was tired when I got off but I don’t know if I would say exhausted.  Then we repeated the first part of the test with magnets.  The magnetic charges definitely hurt more the second time when my legs were tired.  Anyway it was my little contribution to sports science research. 

The cool part of the test is that my peak cardiovascular and peak ventilatory responses like my VO2 and VE rate exceeded the predicted (Okay I don’t know what VE is yet, but I will be looking it up).  For example they predicted my VO2 ml/kg/min would be 30.2 and it was measured at 44.6.  I’m not really sure what it means but they said I was 147% over the predicted and that was because I was very fit.  (They could have just been saying that to make me feel better, for all I know it means nothing.)  The predicted numbers were against other women in my age group.  Other numbers on the report I could tell like the heart rate were right.  I’m a good 11 beats below the predicted average.   Anyway the guy gave me reports of all the numbers and said “most of our subjects don’t bother with taking copies of the output but I’m giving these to you because I have a feeling you’ll love pouring over them!”   ROFL, who me?  Charts, graphs and data, what’s not to love?  They were all nice and said the test went just perfectly.  And you know I love to hear the word perfect so I was happy to have volunteered.

After the test I felt the endorphins of a good workout and I knew I was 100% back.

I’ve been running around doing a lot of errands and socializing so no real workout.  I figured I would start today with a long walk and maybe a swim.

I’m very excited about all the possibilities open to me now for workouts.  I just don’t know what to do first.  I know I want to take the Tuesday and Friday yoga class again.  I know I want to play tennis at least twice a week (might have to do a couple of drill sessions to regain some consistency).  I want to keep up with my swimming and biking (worked too hard to let that all just go away) and I still have to run 4 times a week to get ready for the marathon.  I also want to get into the gym for some strength training and toning.  Maybe that would just be once a week because I’m not sure how to fit it all in.  I feel like an import ban has been lifted and I can buy any ole cigar I want — options, options everywhere.

I think the big lesson I am taking away from Ironman is one I knew intellectually but maybe not experientially.  It is about the journey and not the destination.  Ironman is a lifestyle not an event.  The race is already starting to fade in my mind but moments along the way seem to taking a more prominent place in my memory.  Even during the race the awful parts are fading away but the parts with my friends seem to be very strong.  Ironman is not just the 16:20 minutes it took me to do the race it is all the time and preparation leading up to it and the new life I will lead now after it.

I notice I have been sleeping a lot the last week and although I seem to have a lot of energy when I am awake I seem to fizzle out faster.  I almost fell asleep during a bridal shower yesterday and it wasn’t because of boredom it was I was just ready for a nap!!   I’ve noticed I’ve been hungry this week too so I’ve been trying to trick myself by eating a lot of fruit and salads.  I was up several pounds after Ironman but I knew that was all water retention and now that seems to be dropping away quickly.

I had a great meeting at WW on Friday and was so happy to be back to my meetings.  Everyone there was super supportive and I was so glad to be able to return a year later with good news for a change.  I am also strangely motivated to get right back on the weight loss train (last 3 weeks before Ironman I was eating out of nervousness).  I feel calm again and ready to shop, chop, plot and plan my way to my next goal. 

Everything is good.  I feel very motivated and ready to rumble.  Ironman is over but I am excited about all the new activities ahead.  Still swim, bike, run but now tennis, yoga, strength train, stretch class — I even thought I would try out some rowing on the Hudson river — doesn’t that sound fun?  I want to get back in touch with non-training friends and keep those relationships alive.  I have a lot of work to catch up on too.   I don’t know where I will find all the hours to get all of this in there.  But I’m grateful for the abundance of choices I have in my life and plan to make the most of them.

Just getting warmed up!!!

Namaste

Okay this is the funniest video.  I watch this and it cracks me up.  First you have to understand that in my mind I was really struggling in the final hours of Ironman.  Gutting it out, dragging my feet.  My face was not happy and I was ready to die.  My brother-in-law took this video of me coming into the oval.   Look at that smile!   What a totally dweeb I am!!!  ROFL.  No dignity whatsoever!!!  And bad posture to boot!!  But, watching this video makes me totally crack up.

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7/21/08 Chasing Midnight

Tuesday.  Well it is official, as of 11:20 P.M. July 20th, 2008, I crossed the finish line and they said (so I hear, the crowd was releasing a deafening roar so I didn’t actually hear it) “You are an Ironman!”   Hopefully they will post the finishline video so I can watch it.

I don’t feel any different today other than soooo appreciative of the amazing support from my brother and friends, teammates and coaches.  Truly, truly I would not have been able to have finished without their support.  I think through these epic adventures you find out a lot about your own inner workings but you also find a new appreciation for the sometimes unimaginable depth of caring of other people. Ironman was certainly my own journey, but I sit here this morning overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and love that was showered on me for the last year and through last night.  People stood by my side from pre-dawn to the bitter end and I will remember that for the rest of my life.

I am not unhappy with my performance because I will say honestly given my level of fitness and the conditions of the race (acknowledging every race has it’s own adverse conditions), I did the best I could with what I had on that given day.  Demons were out in full force, dissapointment, futility, fear and anxiety took turns shooting arrows into my psyche.  I am a stronger person for completing the Ironman not because of the physical effort (I believe any generally healthy body could be trained to do it) but for the mental effort and ultimate victory over my own self-doubt.

Pre-race I had a lot of excitement at registration.  When i got there, I had to stand in line while they pulled each athlete’s name printed on an 8X10 card from fileboxes neatly lined up.  When I walked up and said “2503” she said “how funny, look that is the card that is sticking up out of the box.  2800 or so names and it was my card sticking up about 3 inches from the rest.  I thought that was weird.  I took it as a good sign.

Then when they handed me my swim cap and we saw it was bright pink (my signature color) the Boas sisters (who had been accompanying me on my rounds) let out a small yell.  We all took it as a sign that this was to be my race.

I tried, to the best of my severely lacking organizational abilities, to follow all the pre-race checklists and pay attention to every detail that I could.  I think I did all my prep work pretty well as far as packing and planning.  I had been following weather.com daily to track the weather.  The forecast changed every day but ultimately called for scattered showers in the p.m.  Hopefully I would be off the bike by the time the rain hit.

Here is one of the pictures of my race morning set up with little notes I wrote to myself reminding me to do everything from take my pills to go to the bathroom.  I even had to write on my bottles to remind me of what the heck they were for.  I still managed to leave one extra one behind (it was okay it was an extra bottle for the run in case I felt like carrying it which I didn’t).  I particularly like the juxtaposition of the bottles of Tangueray and red wine (in the background) against my race day formula in trilife bottles. (Don’t worry I didn’t drink any of that although I may experiment for next time!)

Everything pre-race went as planned and expected.  No real sleep (few people get sleep the night before a big event day), couldn’t decide what the heck to wear in case it got cold so I put three different outfits in my special needs bag.  You’d think I was packing for a vacation, not a race.

My swim was uneventful.  I was seven minutes slower than last year which was a great disappointment to me and frankly I just don’t get it.  I know I lost a lot of training time due to my accident but I truly thought I had worked threw the hitches and bad habits I had developed.  I thought I was doing everything right. Rotating, rotating, rotating.  Reaching long.  Leading with my elbow, catching the water and trying to push myself forward in a streamlined position.  If you had asked me before I saw the clock how I thought I was doing, I would have said “very good.”  I think the biggest problem with my swim in my own delusions of how I’m doing. At least in tennis you get immediate feedback.  I may think that serve was fantastic but the fact that hit hit the back fence tells me immediately to adjust.  Swimming gives me no feedback so I just continued merrily on my way until I was finished.  Second loop of the swim I literally swam beginning to end on top of the infamous line (a rope that runs underwater the length of the swim course.)  I was positive I had done everything right.  I was surprised to see 1:38 on my watch when I exited.  Even more suprised to see that the rain had already started and it was coming down seriously.  Oh well, hopefully the bike wouldn’t be too slippery and wet.

When I got on the bike it was raining.  For the entirety of my bike and 20 miles of my run it was just non-stop.  Anytime I thought for one second that it was about to let up, the skies let out a little rumble laugh and just rained harder.  I have to say from beginning of the bike to the end of the bike it was a nightmare.   I mentioned to my friends that in all the triathlons I have done there was never a single one where I did not think at some moment on the bike that I was enjoying the ride.  I love to ride.  This was horrible.  This was frightening.  This was everything I had dreaded and more.  The entire time I was yelling to the heavens, ‘you have a very sick sense of humor mister, sick!”

Of course I was nervous about revisiting the scene of the crime of Ironman 2007.  I was ready for that.  I was rehearsing over and over in my head “relax your hands, relax your shoulders, relax your back, look for anyone doing anything stupid, focus, relax your hands….” It seemed everywhere I looked I saw one yahoo after another doing strange things.  Is that person really stopping her bike and unclipping on the road?  “You should pull your bike off to the side and not stop in the road” I yell to her as I maneuver around her and pass her.  Yahoo number 1.  Two guys talking to each other like they are on a Sunday ride as they climb up a hill.  Note to self, yahoo number 2 and 3, stay away from them.  The sad irony was I was actually passing people on the uphill this year but as soon as we hit a downhill they passed me.  I wanted to yell “hey, I can go a lot faster than this” but then in a quiet voice had to admit ‘if i wasn’t so darn scared for my life.”  I would like to say I was frightened but that really wasn’t the right word.  I think I was really almost terrified.  The rain, the yahoos, the hill.  This was a 40+mph hill I was riding 15 mph.  I had to abandon all hopes of a good bike split within the first hour of being on my bike.  It took me an hour to get to Keane (I believe my normal time in practice had been 48 minutes but I’ll have to double check that.) 

I kept breaking the ride up into segments.  Trying to concentrate on nutrition and constantly reminding myself to stay focussed.  Puddles can hide cracks and bumps and rain can bring debris onto the road.  A flat tire or two could put me out of the race.  Oh lo, please don’t make me have to have come this far just be be denied again.  Why are you doing this to me?  I got the pink swim cap.  Wasn’t that a sign that this was to be my race?  Why would you make it rain like this during the only part of the race where I can gain a little advantage?  What did I do?  (It did occur to me for one second that perhaps the weather patterns of the universe were not revolving totally around me and my Ironman goals but I quickly dismissed that and returned to thinking this was a personal attack against me and another attempt to thwart my efforts.)

And that’s how the bike went and went and went — rain and yahoos for 112 miles.  I took it one section at a time but was denied over and over again any spot where I might open up and ride with any freedom.  The rain never stopped, the idiotic behavior of other cyclists was non-stop.  Granted they were probably freaking out too so let’s cut them a little break.  One woman passed me on the right going up a hill and as she passed she said “oh my God, I’m so sorry, I didn’t even realize what I was doing, I know I shouldn’t pass you on the right.”  I told her no problem but I called her yahoo number 17 under my breath.

By the second loop I started getting cramps in my right leg and achilles pain in my left.  I tried to drop my heels more and take more stretches but my legs were really hurting.  What the heck?  I’ve ridden 100 miles plenty of time.  I’ve never gotten cramps.  I had even added an extra salt tablet to each of my bottles just to make sure I would get enough salt.  I couldn’t understand why that was happening.  In retrospect I think that maybe I was so tense and nervous going down the big hills that I caused my legs to cramp.  (And I am also thinking that is why I have suspicious residual soreness in my deltoids — from white knuckling 112 miles of road.)

I knew that I was losing more and more time on the bike when I didn’t see a single member of my team on the second loop.  That was dissapointing, it would have been nice to see a friendly face but I was glad that they were rallying on and got through the yahoo soup to where it seemed I had been banished.  Just do the best you can, I kept telling myself.  One section at a time.  My new bike computer had stopped working because I had put the aero bottle too close to it so when I hit bumps it must have hit buttons or something because I had no data.  I had my watch going but I had to keep subtracting the swim and adding back in my transition time and my math skills were suspect at this point.  I was riding with no data.   I’m not sure having any data would have changed anything, I was still petrified so I think I would have had the same results with or without a computer.  Here are some pictures that the race people took.   I was not looking very happy in any of them.

 

I think the last picture says it all. 

Towards the end of my ride I see one of the coaches coming down the hill.  Oh great, they sent the troops out looking for me.  I must be way over the time limit or something.  I had stopped trying to do the math on my time.  My brain was in a knot and all I knew is had to get off the bike or I might scream.  The coach told me I was doing fine which was probably his way of talking me down off the ledge.  I was no longer scared, I was just tired and achy and starting to doubt whether I should be out there.  Maybe this was just not meant to be, maybe this is just going to be another nightmare.  I finally made it up to civilization and God love my friends they were out there standing in the rain cheering for me and waiting ever so patiently for me to drag my soggy butt up the final hills and get off the bike.  (I found out after the race that my bike time was 7:55 which in my wildest dreams I would never have taken that long unless I had flat tires, I was thinking about 45 minutes less than that in my race plan.)

One of my worries since St. Croix is dry socks.  I had such a miserable experience there with wet socks, wet shoes and having to borrow my friend’s socks that I packed several pairs in every bag to which I would have access during the race.  (They allow all the athletes to position what they call special needs bags on the bike and run course that you can access as you ride/run by).  When I got to the transition chaning tent, I immediately pulled out my running shoes with socks tucked neatly in them.  Drenched to the core.  Oh no, not again, please God, don’t make me run in wet socks again.  I had no choice I put on the wet socks and the gal who was helping me dress pulled out a small baggy with bandaids and said “looks like you have another pair of socks in here.”  Yes, yes, oh yes, I had packed another pair of socks in a baggy just in case.  Thank you God, thank you.  I put the socks on only to discover the only way out of the changing tent was to walk through a deep puddle that had formed by the exit.  No way out but through the puddle.  There would be no dry socks today.

I started my run.  Despite my disappointing swim and my horrific bike, the most important part of my Ironman experience happened in the first hour of my run.  I had said all along that if I was off my bike by 4:30 in the afternoon I would be able to finish the Ironman because I could walk it in 7 1/2 hours.  But now it was 5 p.m. (or close to it) and I was not 100% sure that I could walk it in 7 hours.  Right then every demon I had ever experienced in my life came out for a party.  It was their Carnivale in the streets of Lake Placid.  Self-doubt, self-loathing, fear and insecurity all had their own special floats in the parade.  The biggest float was the one with “WHAT IF?”  painted all over it in bright Brazilian colors.  What if I can’t get to that finish line by midnight?  Am I going to be denied again?  I’m not sure I can do it.  I was starting a marathon with legs already cramping and achilles pulling and I knew that it was only going to get worse.  So there is was, my worst nightmare turning into reality right before my eyes.  A marathon?  A freakin’ marathon?  I have to run a M.A.R.A.T.H.O.N. now?  After what I just went through?  My emotional energy was all spent on that freakin bike I had nothing left for 26.2.  It was over and I how was I going to tell my friends and family that had all come yet again to Lake Placid to watch me finish this thing that yet again I didn’t have what it takes to cut it.

My plan had been to run to every aid station and walk one minute through the aid stations.  When I hit the first mile I saw it was a 12 minute mile and I was kind of surprised.  Okay it was downhill so that’s why.  But it was a weird little feeling of “how did that happen?”  I was expecting to have walked it.  The next mile was a 13 minute mile but that was still better than the 15 or 16 minute mile I had in my head.  The third mile was back down to a 12 minute mile (another downhill.)  Hmmm, wait a minute, I ran down both of those hills and I didn’t feel any pain.  Was that a glimmer of hope I saw peeking through the clouds?  Then I heard something so softly whispering deep, deep in the back of my head.  It was barely audible but I strained to hear it.  “If you try, you can do this.”   Whaa?  Whaaa?  Are you crazy?  Do you know how long a marathon is?  That’s 26.2 miles.   ‘If you try, you can do this.” 

That’s when the most important dialogue of my Ironman (and maybe my life) started in my head.  A really strong voice took over and started to lecture me.  You must banish doubt.  From this moment on you will not entertain doubt.  You will believe and if you want to survive this you must from this moment forward believe.  “buh, buh, I’m not sure I can believe.”     You must believe.  And then I took that mythical leap of  faith.  I decided that I was going to believe.  I decided that no matter what I would keep going and keep moving forward.  Focus Forward, Failure not an option (weight watchers lives in Ironman!)

Then I started focussing on all the positive things.  Slathering my legs in Tiger Balm made a lot of the cramping go away.  HEY, NO KNEE PAIN.  Not a smidge, not any.  My calves were fine.  I had wet socks but they weren’t really bothering me, my feet were not sloshing around.  My head was really clear so I knew that as horrific as that bike had been I had done my nutrion right.  Every new positive thought strengthened my resolve.  By the time I had reached mile 5 I was in it to finish it.  I wasn’t thinking 26.2 miles any more I was thinking next aid station.   I was in the moment and focussing on just what I had to do right then and there.  I would do this aid station to aid station and trust that I would continue doing what I was doing until I couldn’t anymore.

My friends were great, they had come down the back roads and positioned themselves out in the more desolate areas.  I saw my coach who reminded me to keep  a positive outlook. I said with 100% conviction “I have a positive outlook.”  And every mile I was getting more and more confident that I could do 26 miles, the only problem was I had no idea if I was on track to finish by midnight.  My watch was working but for some reason I couldn’t do the simplest math.  I ran a mile with a guy who was super nice.  He was on his second loop but he had this perfect little pace going that was just a little faster than I wanted to go but I liked his foot fall.   He told me I was doing great and if i just kept going I was going to finish with no problem.  “By midnight?  Can I finish by midnight?”  I asked him.  “Absolutley, just keep this pace going.”  He ran off to use the bathroom and I was left running by myself again.

On the way back of the first loop I met another guy who assured me that if I kept to under 15 minute miles I would finish in plenty of time.  Just do the math he said, 4 miles in an hour. You have 20 miles to go, that’s 5 hours.  It’s only 6:15 you have plenty of time.  Do the math, do the math.  I couldn’t do the math.  I was looking at my watch and it meant nothing.  Why couldn’t I do the math?  I started to do little math problems in my head.  What’s 4 times 15?  What 60 divided by 4?  What’s 1 plus 1?  I had to let go and just trust someone else’s math.  I’ll just keep running to the next aid station and walking.  Every time anyone ran up to me and tried to walk or run with me I kept asking them, will we make it?  Yes, yes, they were all so confident.  I wasn’t.  But everyone kept telling me “you are looking great.”  I was feeling pretty good.

I knew I had dry socks in my special needs bag.  I wanted to stop and change my socks but I was so afraid that I wasn’t doing the math right.  What if I change my socks and those would be the two minutes I needed to cross the finish line.  I saw my other coach and asked him to do the math.  If I do less than 15 minute miles can I stop and change my socks and still finish?  Suddenly dry socks became the only thing in the world that mattered to me besides finishing by midnight.  He ran by me and said you have time to change your socks.  I stopped at the special needs booth and I opened my bag and found all the clothes I had packed.  I chose the rain resistant jacket (because yes it was STILL raining.)  I pulled out my ziplock baggy and there were two of the most beautiful things I had every seen in the world.  Dry, plush and comfy socks.  I took off my wet socks and some guy came over and asked if wanted some lube.  Yeah good idea, thanks.  My feet were totally water logged.  I rubbed them with lube and put on the dry socks and my jacket.  13.1 miles to go and I was feeling okay, better than okay.  Dry socks = empowerment.

I stuck to my plan and just made sure that every mile was under 15 minutes and they were.  Unbelievably, they were mostly 14 minutes including the walk time.  I ran that way up until mile 20.  My friends and coach were out there on the most desolate stretches.  God love them.  They stood out there in the cold and dark and rain waiting for me.  I know my friends drove back but my coach just stood out there in the dark and rain and waited for me for hours.  Above and beyond the call of duty.  I felt so guilty.  I was okay, I’m slow, everyone should go home and get warm.  I wanted them to go back and not have to be out there but I was so appreciative of them being my little lighthouses out there.  Here is a picture someone took of me running in the dark.

 

Believe it or not, I was feeling pretty good.  Whodda thunk that the first smile on my fast during the Ironman would be on the run?

After I left my friends it was very lonely and dark out there.  Though the rain let up, I started to walk more.  The speed walkers that I had been followed left me behind.  (I couldn’t walk as fast as them but my walk/jog kept me close). Some guy ran past me at a really fast pace and I was surpised to see someone running that fast.  Then he stopped to walk and I jogged to catch up to him.  We chatted for awhile and we had some similar interests (losing weight, getting fitter in the later parts of our lives.)  He said he was running fast now because he had been walking most of it and his plan was to get to the top of the hill and run the rest.  I told him I was sticking to my run/walk but i would start running with him at the top of the hill.  When we got there we started running but he lost me quickly.   I didn’t make it too far before I had to walk.  He turned around and was so encouraging “Run, Run, swing your arms it will help.”  I thought that was so nice that he was trying to help me as he was swallowed into the night.

I was walking, trying to swing my arms, trying to count, trying to figure out 15 minute miles, what if, what if?  Then I saw Jackie.  “Hey there.”  She said like she stands out in the dark streets all the time looking for lone walkers to encourage.  I was glad to see her.  It gave me a little hope.  I wasn’t feeling that bad, it was just my muscles were exhausted.  I kept telling them to move but my legs were heavy and it was hard to lift them.  But then I decided to do the old, 4 lamposts on 2 off like we would do in practice.  So that’s what I did.  Ran a couple of telephone polls and then walked a little.  I told Jackie when I hit the corner that’s when I would run all the way to IGA hill.  She was good morale support and stayed far enough away that it didn’t appear that she was pacing me.

We rounded the corner and I knew I would hit the Boas sisters and Linda and Karen.  I wasn’t sure if they would still be there but even if they weren’t I was okay.  I was pretty sure I could finish.  Of course they were all there, waiting and cheering.  I was chasing midnight but my fears were going away.  I was feeling better than most.  Then I saw coach Scott and he and Jackie ran ahead across the street shouting out occasional words of encouragement.  We hit IGA hill and I started to walk.    I promised that I would start running again at Art Devlin (That had been my strategy in practice).  I didn’t remember there was  little hill after that.  Ugh, I’ll have to walk again.  That’s when I saw Donald and the rest of my SHBC gang on the top of that stupid little bump, they were all cheering for me.  Oh, okay, okay, I guess I can run up this stupid little, annoying bump that seemed like Mt. Everest.   I started running and all the cheering fueled me up and around the bend. 

Then the coach started yelling to me “You did not train to walk this finish, run.  Tell your legs to run. Do whatever you have to do, count, swing your arms, sing.”  Oh God, I don’t want to run, my legs were like cement pilons.  They felt so heavy but I didn’t want to dissapoint anyone.  My coach was out there running ahead.  He must be so tired.  My friends must be exhausted.  Everyone is waiting for me me.  I can’t run, I must run.    One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four.  If you can’t push your legs back, swing your arms back.  Ouch, ugh, ooph, how far do we have to go?  There are the walkers that I had been trying to catch up to.  Now I was passing them.  They will start running now I am sure but I passed them, I passed them.  Then I saw the guy who walked with me up the hill “you’re doing it, I told you you would do it!”  So nice, how could everyone be so nice after so many hours?

We reached the turn around.  Marisol was with the coach.  Oh God she shouldn’t be running.  Stop running.  Go sit down.  It’s late, everyone go to bed, I’ll finish this.  Then I passed the guys with the disco music.   It was some song from the seventies that I knew and it gave me a little push.  They saw it  pushed me. They all cheered and slapped my hands.  They were great.  It’s all come down to this?  These last two miles that are killing me?  16+ hours, rain, relentless, torential rain, darkness, muscle cramps, two years of waiting and it is down to this?  Making my legs run even though they didn’t want to?  Get to the finish line.  Get to the finish line.  Don’t forget that the run around the oval will seem like forever.  Remember St. Croix, the finish is not until you see it.

The most gracious thing about the race is that you run downhill into the finish oval.  Unlike NYC marthon where they make you finish running uphill, the Lake Placid Ironman finish is actually kind.  Okay, okay, you made it this far we are going to give you a little push and let you run into the oval.  I saw a guy walking in the oval and he turned to me and said “you did great.”  I wanted to tell him to run with me but I was too afraid to say anything.  I took the night light off my neck (they gave it to me out in the dark) and I handed it to some strange guy.  I don’t want this thing.   Then I saw my friends hanging over the side of the barrier.  I slapped their hands as I turned the corner.  Whoa, the finish line is right there, it is not far at all.

The music was loud.  It was a big blur of people.  I looked for my friends and saw their faces but it was all moving too quickly. I couldn’t hear the announcer it was just a roar of people and the white clappers everyone was pounding.  There was the finish line, the finish line.  I ran toward it and I couldn’t believe my eyes as I ran through.  There was my teammate Jen from last year in her Trilife jacket with a medal to put around my neck.  How did Jen get there?  It was over so fast.  So long and yet so fast. 

All my friends had pushed through and everyone met me behind the finish line.  One of my teammates Lynne was there.  She was crying, all my SHBC and all my Rumble Girls and Deluca and Coach Jay and of course my Brother and Peter, and so many people there to cheer and give me hugs.  Everyone so happy.  I think I was happy, my face said I was happy.  It was just so fast, it all happened so fast.  The fastest 20 months, 16 hours and 20 minutes of my life.

Namaste

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7/17/08 The Mojo Shift.

Thursday.   When I used to play tennis matches (seems like a million years ago) we used to always comment on the shift in momentum during games.  My partner or I would turn to one another and say, did you feel that.  The shift?  The Mojo working for us.  Then all of a sudden, after losing game after game, we could do nothing wrong.  That’s how I felt yesterday like all of a sudden the Mojo shifted in my favor.  All kinds of little things working in my favor.  Each one seems silly but by the end of the day I really felt like I was being looked after.

By Tuesday night I hadn’t packed a thing.  Nothing.  I went to bed exhausted because I had last minute client projects and my apartment was a disaster area and the only thing I had done for my planning was print out the packing lists from the coaches and put them on a clip board.  For some reason I felt putting them on a clipboard gave me the appearance of being organized.  (If you can’t BE organized, LOOK organized…)  I was already thinking that it was looking like I would need another day before I left for Placid.  UGH, why is everything so difficult?

I woke up Wednesday and just started putting things in my new organizer that my friend Stella had shown me how to do.  Basically you take a big shoe bag, the kind you can hang over the door.  It should be clear so you can see what is in them.  Then she made me little cards to put in each pocket.  (Tylenol, bike lube, body lube, running shoes, biking shoes…. you get the idea.)  I had a big bag on my bed for all my race day apparel.  I just used the check list and started putting everything in the shoe organizer and the bag.  Check, check, check.  Within 1/2 hour I was done!!!  Weird.  Then I started packing my regular clothes.  That was so easy.  Basically I did my laundry and everything that was in the laundry for the week was what I was bringing with me.  Instead of an all day affair, by 8 a.m. I was all packed and ready to go.  Good Mojo.

I had a lot of stuff to bring with me.  I had booked a rental car because I knew I couldn’t fit all my stuff and the returning passengers but i had to go up town to get it and i knew they would take forever.  Charlee volunteered to help me.   I got up to the car rental place, instead of waiting for 45 minutes (as I do at 40th street) it was click, click, click, here are your keys and your car is right there in space number 3.  A mini van ready to go.  (I had my new temporary licenseand I was worried that with no photo they wouldn’t let me rent, but no problem!)   I pull out of the garage, fumble with the back seats for a bit and there was Charlee.  We go to my place and we found a parking spot right in front of my building.  We popped a quarter in the meter, went upstairs, grabbed all my stuff and check, check, check everything in the car ready to go.  I dropped Charlee off and as I entered the Westside Highway noticed my watch said 10:30 a.m.   Wow!!  I was ahead of schedule, how the heck did that happen?  Good Mojo.

I was worried about driving up to Placid on my own.   How boring would that be?  5 1/2 hours of highway driving?  But in the end it turned out to be strangely calming.  I had a lot of time to just sit and think with myself (and Pink Floyd, Tom Petty and John Cougar Mellancamp.)  About half way there I started to feel a strange sense of calm.  You know this Ironman thing may turn out to be fun afterall.  I could use a good long swim and I’m feeling ready to bike.  Eh, if i shut my eyes during the first half of the run, I won’t even notice it.  So i’ll suffer for the last 3 hours, I’ve suffered for longer than that.  I was feeling pretty good and strangely calm.

I made it to Placid a little after 3:30 which is fine because I made a couple of stops and I drive like a grandmother so 5+ hours is very good timing.  I found the rental place no problem and the woman who checked me in was super nice.  Found the condo, everything as it should be.  Unpacked, check, check, check.  All was good.  I got nervous for one second when I realized I didn’t have photo id.  I looked in my purse and my passport was still there from last week when I had gone to get my new license.  Good Mojo. 

My friends Ro and Wes were here already.  They came over and took me to dinner.  Very nice.  We stopped and bought a few groceries and then home and to bed.  I like my room, very comfy and it is so nice and quiet I am sure I will sleep well.

So it was a weird day for me.  No problems.  Everything running smoothly.  It was like Lake Placid was welcoming me back with a hug saying “what argument?   oh that silly little disagreement we had last year?  you were worried about that?  pshaw….’   I feel strangely welcomed. 

I wish I had done a little more exercise this week.  I’ve done basically nothing.  Mon, Tues, Wed.  Eek.  Today I will do a short bike ride, tomorrow a short swim and run.   I wish i had done more okay at least some work outs over the last couple of days but as one of our coaches says “better to be a slightly underbaked cookie (soft and pliable) on race day than an over baked cookie (hard and crumbly).  Hmmm….  I wonder what he thinks about plain ole doughy?

Namaste

Our condo overlooks a golf course and this is the sunrise through the mist this morning.  Very peaceful.  Good Mojo.

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7/15/08 Five and Counting

Tuesday.  How can it be only 5 days to Ironman.  5 DAYS?!?!  Oh lo, is it too soon or too late?  Not sure.  I flip back and forth between feeling tough with a “let me at it” attitude to “holy moly I can’t do an Ironman, what the heck?!?!?!”  One thing is for certain — I’m going, I’m racing, I’m putting it all out there.  The rest I leave up to destiny.

I’ve been getting a lot of rest this week.  Mostly because I’ve been really tired and falling asleep at the computer or while loading the dishwasher.  All of my aches and pains are gone (yeah!)  I had my final accupuncture appointment today and there were only a few spots here and there that he had to work on.

Of course I leave tomorrow and I’m not packed!!!!  Why is it when you have so much to do you get more stuff thrown at you?  Anyway, like the Ironman, I’m just going to put one foot in front of the other and get everything done.  Worse case scenario, I’m just tossing my entire apartment in suitcases and bringing it with me — I’ll sort it out up there!!!

My official race number is 2503.  I can be tracked online at www.ironmanlive.com

The part that makes me nervous is the unknown.  I know I can swim 2.4 miles.  I know I can ride 112.  I think I can run 26.2.  I’m pretty sure I can do them in a row.  I know it will hurt.  I know I will cry at some point.  I know I will laugh at some point (probably at the finish).  It’s all the what ifs that get me.  I’m not going to list them because I don’t want to think about them, but they are like little gremlins running around my apartment that jump out just when I’m starting to relax and yell BOO!  What if?!?!  Then I get nauseous and have to refocus into the present moment. “That will be then, this is now.”

I was telling my friend the other night that I feel like the Ironman is a big door I have to walk through.  Before my first couple of Olympic distance tris I used to get so nauseous and worried.  After enough of them I didn’t get worried any more and I could relax and enjoy the entire process.  Same thing with the half ironman.  At first it seemed so undoable.  A half ironman?  Me?  Then I did one, and then another and another.  By the time I got to Tupper Lake last year I wasn’t nervous anymore.  I had to seek out St. Croix to get that nervous feeling but even then not so bad.  I need to get on the otherside of Ironman so I can enjoy doing more of them without feeling so nervous.  I’m not saying I’m doing another one tomorrow, but let’s say 2010 — on the other side of the Iron Door.

I’m not doing much in the way of exercise, I really don’t have time with all the stupid little things I have to do.  Once I get up there tomorrow I can kick back a little and take a swim in the lake a spin on my bike and a little run.  Not all in the same day.

Lot’s to do.  Lot’s to pack.  Nervous.  Nauseous.  Excited.  Shaking my head asking myself “what the heck did I get myself into this time?”

No Turning Back Now

Namaste

My estimated times:

Swim 1:35

Transition 1   :10

Bike 7:10

Transition 2   :10

Run 5:50 (or longer)

That would bring me to 14:55 which sounds a little undoable.  I’m thinking it will end up being 15:15.

Anything less than 17 is good enough for me!!!

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7/10/08 When all else fails….

Thursday.  Almost better, just a little soreness in my calves and I want to give it one more day before I try to do anything with them.  That’s over FOUR DAYS of soreness — I think after 2 days it is called injury.  The sad part is I feel pretty stupid about what I think is the cause.  Basically I got lazy.  As Mr. Leland my 8th grade geometry teacher used to yell at us all the time “when all else fails read the directions!”  (For an entire year he said that just about every freakin’ day…  But I still can recite SOHCAHTOA so he was doing something right.)

Sniff, sniff, I love my Thursday morning rides but I knew it would be a mistake to go this morning.  I swam yesterday (no problem) and took my bike out for a little maintenance call (new chain, new cogset and new bike computer because I lost it up in Lake Placid on last trip.)  In my short trip of doing errands I knew I couldn’t ride hard on Thursday morning so I decided I would do another day of swimming today.  I wrote my coaches to tell them I was not 100% yet and then an idea hit me.

For some reason I decided to google Newton Running Shoes and calf pain.  I was sick when I saw the number of entries dedicated to calf pain.  Increasing calf pain.  I’ve been running in my Newton’s since December.  At first I was alternating them — I have a trainer pair and racing pair.  Frankly I couldn’t tell the difference when I ran in them and a couple of months ago I just started wearing the racer pair figuring I would save the trainer pair for race day.  I know that sounds backwards but I thought the trainer pair would match my outfit better on race day.  Yes, I’m not embarrassed to say I let fashion come first.  I’m an idiot, I just kept wearing the same old shoes for 3 months.  I got lazy.

After my 18 miler and this last 10 miler I felt calf pain after the run.  Bad calf pain.  This time it was scary.  My acupuncturist had no idea what was wrong with me and when he gets concerened, I get concerned.  I wrote to my coaches and they were suprised read that I had been running in my Newtons non-stop.  I got various feedback from all of them (some of them use the Newtons too) .  Basically the gist is I shouldn’t be wearing just one pair of shoes (I vaguely recall them telling me that at the beginning of the year,  I had big plans to do that.)   When I got onto the Newton website it says that the trainers are good for shorter runs and shorter races and racers are good for longer runs and longer races. 

So I have my other running shoes that were in good condition before I rudely tossed them aside for the Newtons.  I also have my Newton racers which are meant for longer distances.  I’m giving my calves one more day to feel better.  Then tomorrow and Saturday I will do some very short running tests to see how the other shoes feel.  I’ll bring them all with me to Lake Placid.  Although I don’t feel any pain while I’m running, the idea that I will feel even worse than I do now after the Ironman makes me loathe to run in the Newtons.  Hopefully the racer pair won’t do this.

Why did the Newton’s do this?  Well Newtons force you to run more on your forefoot which uses more of your calves.  If you are a heel striker, like I am, you are fighting your natural stride.  I’m also heavier so that adds to it.  I also run at a slower pace on my long runs.  I admit I got a little sloppy with my running technique on Saturday. I didn’t lean forward as much and I kind of lumbered.  End result pain.

Moral of the story is to change your running shoes, OFTEN.  Also when all else fails, READ THE DIRECTIONS!  So easy to get lazy and injured.  As my friend Mo points out “you’ve learned so much about triathlon you’ve forgotten what you already knew and you think it is new information.”  Or something like that.  We get lazy.  I should have bought new shoes already (300-400 miles is a rule of thumb for running shoes.)  I should have marked my calendar like I do for hair appointments.  Also shelf life counts.  Even if your running shoes have just been sitting in the closet, they start to break down.  Unfortunately for me, it is too close to race day to buy new shoes so I’m going to have to trust the pairs left in my closet that have less than 300 miles on them although they are close to a year old….  Oh lo, live and learn.  I just have to make it through another 26.2 then for marathon training all new shoes and I promise to rotate, rotate, rotate!!! Newtons will be for training and short runs, my Aisics for longer runs and races.

This has been an interesting week for me.  I’ve run the gamut of emotions and moods.  I was feeling particularly low on Monday and I got an email from my tennis pro that really struck the tuning fork of truth.  Sometimes you hear or read something and you just know it is right?  I offer an excerpt here because I hope it rings true for someone else:

…Every day we get up and there is a journey that we take, on our job, in a sport, taking a class and no matter what we do, we need to master ‘being in the moment’.

I know you’ve heard this before, and you’ve said it yourself, and so have I countless times to myself and to students on the tennis court. I was fortunate enough to watch the whole match this past Sunday between Federer and Nadal. Incredible. Either one could have won. Both were able to be in the moment a lot of the way. But, it was possible to see when both of them got anxious and were ahead of the moment.

What I read in your Tuesday entry, the crankiness is a function of being ahead of the moment, and getting anxious. Let it come to you. It will come and it will pass. Enjoy the moment. That’s really what this is all about.

Because it’s not really about your body, losing the weight is good, getting in shape is good, but all that will become less and less as you get older.  It won’t be about that anymore. But what will last is will you have mastered being in the moment, at peace?”

Ding, Ding, Ding.  Oh man, did I feel stupid.  I really missed the boat big time on this one.  Of course.  This performance anxiety all over again — I’m worried about the score instead of looking at the ball.  The whole reason I fell in love with triathlon and endurance sports is because it was an arena where I could really explore another side of myself and hopefully find greater understanding of self.  I believe part of the elation we all feel after doing a long run or long race comes from those moments of self-awareness that happen out there.  Yeah you just ran 26.2 miles but more than that you saw a reflection of yourself and maybe you found a little peace with yourself.  My friend is right, you make peace when you stay in the moment, in no matter what you do.  Tennis, Weight Watchers, work, friendships, romance, triathlon, running, praying.   It’s staying in the moment where you will find peace.

All week every time I found myself getting anxious about Lake Placid, I’ve been taking a deep breath and saying “that will be then, but this is now, stay in the now.”  Not only does it make me feel better but it makes me appreciate what is going on in my life right now.  There are 10 days left to race day.  A lot of beautiful and interesting things can happen in my life in 10 days — as long as I stay in the moment and take the time to appreciate them.

I’m blessed to have such great friends and teachers in my life.  I so appreciate it when someone can reach out and set me back on the right path.  I got really wrapped up in the wrong side of Ironman and I think that is easy to do as we get involved with supporter guides, cowbells, beach towels. I’m an amateur of amateurs and I got wrapped up in the commercialism and hoo-rah of the sport.  I have no business taking myself so seriously.

I got caught up worrying about the times and finishing and worried about what different people will think about what.  Even yesterday someone asked me how long I was going to take to finish.  When I told them 15 hours, they said “oh I thought you would be a 13 hour finisher.”  Why did I let that make me feel bad?  What difference do those two hours make over my 9 months?  Next time someone asks me how long it is going to take me to finish, I’m going to say 21 months and 15 hours.  My goals for July 20th have changed.  They are now to stay present and stay in peace.  What happens after that is what happens after that.

Namaste

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” And to change your running/tennis shoes often.

Buddha

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7/8/08 July 21st.

Tuesday.  Eh, don’t really feel like writing the blog but I guess that in itself is important data.  Tired is not really the right word for how I feel.  Restless?  No, not restless, more like I’m bored.  Let’s get this show overwith already.  I’m not even nervous (at least in the last five minutes, that seems to change as often as the Hudson tide.)  I know what I need is a good exercise session to kind of boost the endorphins but I’m on the quasi-injured list.

On Saturday we did a early swim — nothing radical there, at this point just trying to hang on.  I had written my coach with all my theories of everything I’m doing wrong and of course he didn’t find me doing any of those, just that I’m not rotating to my non-breathing side.  I concentrated on that for an hour and it made no difference in my swim speed.  It will be what it will be.  Then I met up with Steph and did a 10 mile run in the park.  We took it easy, I just wanted to remind my legs that yes they can run for some distance without stopping.  That seemed fine, no problem. 

I woke up Sunday morning and my calves were killing me.  Weird, this is the same thing that happened after my 18 mile run weekend.  I did massage them a little but that didn’t help (tried to not massage them too much).  I had to make an executive decision about our 50-60 mile bike ride.  I was pretty sure if I tried to climb any hill on my bike I might actually rupture something.  They were that tight and I was feeling uninspired to begin with.  I decided to skip my bike workout.  I can’t remember a time (other than being sick) where I chose to cancel a bike workout.  I love my bike workouts.  A little voice inside was saying “hey, this is NOT what taper is supposed to feel like, something is not right, don’t injure yourself.”   That was Sunday, this morning they still hurt!!  They are actually sore to the touch.  I have an acupuncture session today so I’m confident that will clear it up.  I wonder if it is possible to sprain both of your calf muscles at the same time?  Probably not but that’s what it feels like. 

I’ve been half on/half off WW for the last couple of weeks.  I’ve been out to dinner way too many times and eating foods I would not eat at home.   I guess that’s it — when I’m home, I stick to good-for-me foods.  When I am out I keep giving myself a free pass.  I put on a few pounds at Tupper Lake and with a few celebrations after that.  They seem to be coming off again so I think I’m okay and back on track.  The next eleven days are all about resting, purging my system of any toxins and putting as many good nutrients in there as I can.  No drinking, limiting coffee to occasional decaf, trying to eat lots of fruits and veggies and some protein (stocked up at Costco so I have a stocked fridge.)

Everyone keeps asking me “how are you feeling? how are you feeling?”  I’m feeling crotchety and sick of people asking me how I’m feeling.  I need to be past July 20th asap.  When I think about the race there is no one portion that I don’t think I can do.  I think I can do the whole thing barring any unforeseen problems.  There’s the worry, unforseen problems.  I am worried about the unknown (I know — no use in worrying about what you can’t control.)  Just letting what is going to happen happen is easier said than done.  I truly, truly don’t care about my times.  If I swim in 1:30 or 1:40 do I care?  Not one bit.  If I bike in 7 hours or 7:30, do I care?  Not one bit.  If I take 6 hours or 8 hours to finish the marathon, do I care?  Okay I really would prefer it not take 8 hours, but as long as I cross that finish line with no disqualifications I could care less.  All I want is to wake up and have it be July 21st with a finisher’s medal hanging in sight and move onto something else.  So I need to get this party started now otherwise I might pop a gasket out of frustration.  I don’t have a lot of patience for sitting around and waiting.   

I know I need to keep my body moving but not sure what I can really do.  I think I’ll do an easy walk this morning and then accupuncture.  Hopefully that will leave me feeling well enough for a swim tomorrow.  I leave for lake placid one week from tomorrow.  We have a brick on Thursday morning which depending on how my calves feel I may or may not do.

So that’s where I am.  Not in a particularly happy mood.  Not in a bad mood.  I’m in limbo.  That’s exactly what I feel like — I’m in limbo.  The waiting game is harder than the Ironman.

Days to the Ironman 11.  Days to mental freedom 12.

Namaste

I have to pick a picture to put in our Spectator’s guide for race day.  I’m trying to search through pictures that will help people recognize me on the course (like who couldn’t recognize me?)  But I’ve narrowed it down to the following four (they are all from Tupper Lake).  I think I like number 2 but then I think the peace signs may be a bit corny (but that’s all I ever have the energy to do…)   I know Donald is only going to approve a picture where I’m not smiling….

 

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7/1/08 Tupper Redux

Tuesday.  Well another Tupper Lake half Ironman completed.  I did not manage to go sub 7 which was my goal.  I did manage to PR by 10 minutes but not in the way I thought I would.

Going into the race I figured I would hold my swim (knowing I am not any better than last year).  I was hoping to replicate my bike from last year (I thought I had ridden it pretty well and was hoping to just maintain that time.)  I figure my knee has been holding up and I have been running a little better this year so my goal was to try to make up the time on my run and tighten up my transitions.  Nice plan, didn’t work out at all.

My swim is just a little confounding right now.  Last year I accepted my 48 minutes and chalked it up to swimming back towards the start line (couldn’t see.)  Imagine my shock and surprise when I saw I was actually SLOWER this year by two minutes!!  I even started further in the water.  But no matter what I did, every 8 strokes I would look up and see I was off course.   I really thought I was swimming fine.  All the weird stuff I had been working to eliminatewas gone.  I was reaching long, I was doing my catch and hold correctly (keeping my elbow high and not doing that weird tennis serve thing with my right arm).  But I basically zig-zagged my way through the course.  I couldn’t stay straight to save my life.  I know it wasn’t the current because on the way out I zigged to the right and on the way back I did the same thing.  Humph.  What was going on?

All I can think is that I have such unequal strength in my arms and shoulders that I’m getting some power with my left arm but my right arm is just too weak to keep up.  Like paddling a canoe on one side with a paddle I am continuously leaning to the right.  You have to balance the boat.  So I’m trying to think of what I can do in three weeks to help this.  I think I’m going to go down to the gym and do a little light weight lifting and in the pool I’m going to try to do some laps where I deliberately put more force into the right hand side and less on the left.  We’ll see what happens.  On the plus side, I had a nice relaxing swim.  So if I’m 5 minutes slower than last year at Lake Placid I will deal with it.

Transition 1 was better than last year but only by 1 minute.  Why is my transition 4 minutes when everyone elses’ is 2?  Doesn’t everyone take a cigarette break or is it just me?  Last year I had an extra shirt and arm warmers to deal with.  This year I didn’t add anything additional (was not as cold as last year and it was actually humid).  So what is going on there?  Maybe my run from the water to my bike is too slow?  My socks do take a little too long maybe I could go sockless next time.  I don’t know.  4 minute flat for my T1 and I think that should be 2 something.

The bike.  Last year I did what I considered a perfect bike.  I thought all my gearing and efforts just right and I was thrilled with my 3:13.  I really didn’t think I could ride it again that perfectly so I was shooting to just try to get the same thing.

Last year I had a lot of people passing me on the uphills and I passed them on the downhills.  It kind of started that way this year.  I took it easy for the first 20 minutes or so, just warming up my legs until I got to the big hill out of town.  I was surprised that I was passing some people on the uphill and although some people passed me on the hill, it wasn’t EVERYBODY like last year.

About mile 20 or so I became aware that I was constantly jockeying for position with some guy number 701.  I would pass him and then he would pass me.  But wasn’t the uphill downhill thing.  I passed him on some uphills and he passed me on some downhills.  The flats we were about 50/50.  He was starting to annoy me a little because I couldn’t shake him.  But he wasn’t making any comments like the guy did last year about my riding (“boy you can’t ride uphill but you sure can ride downhill”).  I think I was annoying number 701 as much as he was annoying me.  But we played fair and when either of us passed we let the other take position and dropped our 3 bike lengths.  So I didn’t hate him that much.

I truly loved every minute of the bike.  I was having such fun.  It’s a great course, rolling hills (a couple not so rolling) but it seems to me a very generous course.  Not a lot of turns (not any turns except the turn around at the half way.)  No Beast-like hills — nothing even Rockland lake hill bad.  No poser hills either — if it’s a hill it looks like a hill.   I loved all of it.

I was taking water at every station this year.  My aerowater holder didn’t seem to be keeping the water in.  (I couldn’t have been drinking THAT much.)  Nutrition was just fine.  Double Infinit formula in my bottles.  Plain water in my aerobar water holder.

I lost sight of 701 for a few minutes at the turn around.  I believe I was ahead of him.  I looked at my bike computer and saw I was at a good time (I can’t remember exactly what it was but I knew I was on target for meeting my 3:13).   As I started heading back on the course I saw Jac coming.  She wasn’t that far behind me and that definitely gave me a little push.  I knew she was coming for me but I wasn’t going to let that happen without a fight!

Last year I was really proud of how I managed my cadence.  I have to say the same about this year.  I never looked down and saw myself below 90.  I was always 90+.  I was definitely racing but I had two gears left to go before I was doing Thursday morning interval pacing.  I could comfortably maintain this pace for 56 to 75 miles.  Not sure I could say I could maintain it to 112.  I would probably take it down one notch for Ironman.  The fact that I have multiple effort levels on my bike is something that makes me happy.  I wish I had that on the run.  I felt I really had control over all aspects of the ride — cadence, speed, effort, nutrition — and that really pleased me.  Couldn’t ask for more.

Somewhere in the 35-40 mile range we hit some more hills.  #701 had passed me awhile back and I caught him on a hill and passed him.  He actually said something this time “great work.”  I returned the compliment and felt I had made peace with my opponent.  That’s about when I started to notice that my bike computer seemed to be stuck.  They spray painted the mile markers on the ground.  As I was passing them the time didn’t seem right.  I would check my bike computer and then my watch and they both agreed.  It was weird.  It was like the clock was standing still but the miles were moving past me.  I kept adding up multiples of six miles in my head and allocating 20 minutes for 6 miles (figuring that’s what I do in Central Park.)   But six miles would pass and it wasn’t 20 minutes.

Somewhere around mile 45 I was aware that #701 passed me and I never caught him again.  We had ridden the majority of the course leap frogging each other.

Before I knew it I was heading into town and saw a lot of people up ahead.  I looked at my bike computer.  It agreed with the distance but it said I wasn’t at 3 hours yet.  I looked at my watch and it agreed with my bike computer.  I was very confused.  How could this be?  The next thing I know I’m off my bike crossing the timing mat and I’m looking at my watch and I don’t see a three yet but I know it’s about 3 hours.  I see Stella from my team last year and I start yelling at her “I just did my bike in 3 hours!! I just did my bike in 3 hours!!”  I couldn’t believe it.  Not only did I meet my time from last year but I beat it by 13 minutes!!!!  Oh my God, if I could just maintain my run I would break 7 hours for the first time!!  Official bike time was 2:59:45.  #701 beat me by 2 minutes!!!

My T2 was just as slow as last year.  I’m seriously thinking about getting rid of the cappuccino machine because maybe that is holding me back.  This year I spent 4:36 in transition 2.  Again, not sure what is going on there.  I think I’m moving fast, take off bike stuff, put on running shoes, hat, (oh yeah I changed the lenses in my glasses — maybe I could not do that), sneakers, suntan spray, pinned my number to my shirt (didn’t have a race belt and maybe that was 30 seconds).  I was off and running.  Feeling fine.  More than fine — maybe a little too excited?

My goal was to work harder this year.  Suffer more.  Well suffer I did.  As soon as I hit the hills and the open road I was hit with my heavy breathing again.  It was hot and humid and I couldn’t breath and my heart was beating a million beats  a minute (okay 146 beats per minute but with my heavy breathing you’d think I just sprinted a 5k instead of just heading out on mile 1.)  I told myself I had to walk and catch my breath.  I remember last year I didn’t catch my breath until mile 5.  I was trying everything, in through the nose, out through the mouth.  4 counts in 2 counts out.   Maybe that’s wrong, maybe I’m supposed to do 2 counts in 4 counts out.  It didn’t matter what I did, my lungs were working at max and I wasn’t getting air.  My heart was beating so fast it was weird.  My body was fine, it was my hearts and lungs…. again.

To make a long run into an even longer story, it pretty much stayed like that until mile 8.  I would walk, get mad at myself, run a little, get out of breath and watch my heart rate soar, walk, get mad at myself…   I tried 3 minutes running 1 minute walking.  Sometimes I could make it to 6 minutes.  If the sun went behind a cloud I could run.  As soon as it was hitting me in the face or back I simply overheated.   I think I’m just still too heavy and have to lose more weight to deal with this heat.  I kept reminding myself that St. Croix was worse but honestly it felt just as miserable.  I just can’t take the heat.

The sad, sad irony is that my legs felt great.  No knee pain whatsoever.  No hip pain. No quad pain, no hamstring pain.  My legs were ready to run — they were totally willing.  My heart and lungs did not show up to the party.  So sad.

Mile 8 I hit the woods.  Last year I tripped in the woods but I did run through them.  It was nice and shaded.  I decided I was going to walk until I caught my breath once and for all.  I walked briskly but I was trying to just get somewhere near normal.  The shade helped.  When I got out of the woods I started running again.  The sun had gone behind clouds.  I ran pretty much all the last 5 miles with only a quick walk through the water stations and one more bathroom break.  No sun, no problem.  It was warm and a little humid but my breathing was normal.  Miles 1-8 terrible.  Miles 8-13.1, fine.  Too little too late.  I was slower than last year when I had my bum knee.  When I crossed the finish line it said 7:04.  I wanted to yell out, “can I start the half marathon now?!?!?”  I want a do over!!!  I can run now, please, let me go back and do that part again.   Where is the rewind button when you need it?  All of my teammates were there, cheering for me and that was great as usual.

So close and yet so far.  So doable it’s criminal.  Not only could I easily take 4 minutes off, honestly I think I should be able to take 13 minutes off at least!  But only if the sun doesn’t come out to play.   So, once again I have discovered that I just can’t take the heat.   For that given day in those given conditions it was too much for me.  It was only 80 degrees but I think with the 85% humidity it seemed hotter.  Last year I think it was in the 70’s and less humid.   Oh well.

So net/net it is a 10 minute PR for that race and for my half Ironman overall.  I am thrilled with my bike result and saddened by my swim and run.  4 minutes, 4 stinkin little minutes…..  But overall I had fun.  Even in my misery on the first 8 miles of the run course, I was moving forward and the thought of quitting never entered my mind (unlike St. Croix).  So I’ll have to take it for what it is.  One day, one race, one step closer to July 20th and the next race….

Sunday I did 35 miles of the Lake Placid route — the great wall, the cherry’s, the bears (all the hard hills and headwinds.)  The good news is that I never think I’ve worked hard enough unless something hurts.  Well today my butt hurts so I know even if I didn’t make my goal of breaking 7 hours, I worked hard!

Namaste

Picture Mo took of me coming into the finish:

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