Thursday, May 17, 2012

One Might Think I am Racing!

That's how excited I am about this weekend; you'd think I'm racing!

I'm captaining the transition aid station located between the swim exit and the entrance to transition.  Then I'm working the Finish Line, early evening, watching these athletes achieve their dreams.

Damn, I've got chills already, just thinking about the energy.

I'm also getting the opportunity to attend a small meet-n-greet with Chrissie Wellington!

Aaaa-annnd, thanks to tri-peep-friends who work in the book store, I've secured my copy of her book and can't wait to meet her, see that infectious smile in person, and have her sign my book... oh wait.. maybe my aerohelmet.

Damn... choices!  What's a girl to do!?!

I'm certain some dribble, or nothing at all, will come out of my mouth since I'm likely to be completely star struck, but hey a girl can dream that she'll be mysteriously gifted with the talent to gab. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How Things Work & Remembering

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of losing my friend and "sister" Elysha.  She's been on my mind since late last week, when I finally retrieved my tri jersey from her Husband.  I hated to ask for it in a way, because no matter how I asked, I just felt like a jerk!

Honestly though, I'm glad I did.  That jersey is even more special to me now.

When I got the jersey, it still smelled like her.  I know that may sound creepy to some, but it was comforting to me.  After all, I was racing the following weekend, why wouldn't I want to "feel" her with me?  And I know she was... in every picture taken I was smiling. :)  Even the pictures taken when I was running!

How things work...
Today is the anniversary of her death and I remember her fondly.  Today is also the day that my single, closest friend, besides Elysha, had some extremely wonderful  news of goodness coming her way.  I was so happy for her.  This friend is one of the most special people I've known and I'm proud to call her my  BFF :)

It doesn't end there though.  It's only beginning.  My BFF wants to help me achieve my ultimate dream in a big way.  I can't say much more, but as we were talking about it, it occurred to us that there is no doubt  Elysha is orchestrating from above, especially since I got the news today, of all days.

Between my supportive Husband going along with the new bike, my great race, my amazing BFF, I am not sure what I have done to deserve all these blessings.  It's like all these things were happening when I was just starting to feel like maybe my Ironman dream was a lot  farther down the path than I hoped.

So much to look forward to.  So much to be thankful for.

Race Report: 2012 TriGirl Super Sprint

Finishing strong!
If you've been reading you know that TriGirl Super Sprint was my "redemption" race after my very first DNF at Kemah.   I feel it's important to get back on that horse, so to speak, after something doesn't go well.  While it's not the same distance, it served the purpose.  See, the thing with Kemah was for me to finally see all my training come together.  I knew things were improving, but I just needed an opportunity to execute. :)

Race morning breakfast consisted of a sweet potato and 2 eggs over medium, 2 hours before my race start, so I had to take it with me.  I picked up fellow Mom and triathlete, Kathy, and we were on our way to celebrate Mothers Day with a race to start our day.

My new ride got a bit of attention from my friends.  I love how happy and supportive they were for me.  Riding this bike is like going from a Jeep to a Cadillac, seriously.  It's just amazing to ride.  I didn't really think there could be such a vast difference.

I got setup in transition and completed my usual routine (checked and re-checked my stuff, checked the ins and outs, did a short little run).

The first thing I took notice of was the water.  It was windy and therefore choppy.  I also learned that it wasn't an in water start!  Usually I get in the water and slink my way to the front.  Not because I'm the fastest, but because the fast people know how to swim around people.  The average swimmer wants to stay back, but that's the worst place to be (I think!).  This time I got stuck in middle-to-back of my wave and stood there a good :45 seconds before I even touched the water.  That part blows, but what are you gonna do about it, except be better informed next time.

The swim was a challenge, for sure, and very similar to Kemah without the horrible, salty water.  I had to swim freestyle with my head up out the whole first length of the triangle course.  I was amazed by the shear number of women panicking and calling for kayaks.  I felt badly for them and it was hard to block-out that maternal instinct to assist -- no one was in harm's way.  They were more scared than anything.   I have to say, it was not good conditions for a first-timer swim, but not impossible either, if one took the time to actually train in open water, and in different conditions.  In short, if you survived the swim it's brag-worthy to anyone who will listen. :)  My swim time, however sucked.  It was 7:20 for 200 meters -- I just got slowed down by navigating and getting caught up in the anchor lines for the noodle ropes -- at one point on I was swimming on the inside of the triangle!  It was madness.  Unless you were in the first wave (no one in front of you), Everyone's time was slow; because even my time put me 9th out of the water in my age group of 39 athletes.  Yep.  I said Age Group -- there was no Athena category for this race!  My first time racing age group. 

I had a smooth transition in T1 for 1:38.  Off I went on the bike.

Me and "Caddy"
My new bike is so comfortable.  I just feel solid on it.  My new Garmin Edge went into standby, and since it's still pretty new to me I didn't know the buttons without reading them -- which I couldn't do without my glasses!  Doh!!  I rode the entire thing blind -- no clue as to Heart Rate, exact cadence or average speed.  I did have current speed though, so that's something.  This course is nice and the same one I run the RunGirl 13.1 on.  It goes through a densely wooded park with huge, tall trees.  There's a couple little rollers, nothing worth sweating... or really mentioning either.  It's just a nice, pretty ride.  If i used passing people was my gauge, I felt like I was riding well.  Although I was having a hard time believing my speedometer was telling me I was riding 21-22 miles an hour, but okay, I'll just go with it because I felt good!

The USAT official (on motorocycle) came by me  about 3 miles in on the bike course and just kind of hung in my general area for about a mile. The course was a bit congested and full of people clearly were not fully aware of passing rules.  I saw people being overtaken, but then the person being overtaken never dropped back out of the passing zone.  I was afraid if I passed someone who didn't know better, they wouldn't drop back, and I'd get handed a mistaken penalty.  I'm sure there was a way to do it, but my experience with passing this many people on a smaller, congested course is limited.

Anyway, the ride was great and I felt strong.  I finished the ride in 23:38 -- that's an average of 20.3 mph -- I HAVE NEVER DONE 20+ IN A RACE OR ANYWHERE BEFORE!  This was a total first and when I learned what I had done, I screamed, then teared up.  This also gave me the 3rd fastest bike split in my age group!  THIRD!!  I recalled my very first tri where I averaged 10 mph doing the bike portion on a relay team.  I've come a long way since then.  A long way.

Another smooth transition, after I found my visor, for T2 and I was off on the run in 1:39.

All smiles leaving transition -- that's Kathy in the pink, behind me... ready to overtake me, for sure!

Another first... I raced this race with no running skirt on the run.  I always wear my skirt sports race number skirt (it's nifty, it has snaps on it to snap your number on the front).  I've always worn it because I'm completely self conscious of my lower belly's loose skin, and don't think anyone should look at "Mannus" the pannus, jiggling up and down as I run.  Since dropping 25 lbs. since February 1st, I need to get over it.  While I know I still have plenty of LB's to drop, I still decided there was no time in a super sprint to stop and put a skirt on over my shorts.  I was going to roll with it and just keep smiling.

I left on the run and felt like I was moving slow as molasses.  I started my run before some of my friends who are super fast on the bike.   In fact, I kept waiting for Kathy, the Mom who went with me to the race, to catch me and then pass me on the bike, but she never did catch me on the bike, but came out of transition just behind me starting my run.  She passed me and cheered me on... telling me, "You must have had a great bike; I never caught you!"

I continued my run and took a :30 second walk break at the 1 mile mark and headed back to the finish.  At one point I took a :10 walk to shake the rocks from under my food and the girl behind me said, "Don't you start walking, you're keeping me running!"  "Every time I want to stop I watch you keep going."  I said, "Don't worry, I'm on my way."  I finished the 2 mile run with a 23:17 for an 11:38 pace!  I was running 13:45 (on a good day) last year.  Unfortunately with my improvements the run was far from good enough to place leaving me 28th of 39 in my age group for the run.  It's all good though...  huge improvements, so I can't be happier... AND I ran sans running skirt!! 

I finished the race in 57 minutes, taking 11th in my age group (not Athena!) and 112th out of 600 -- that's like the top 18%!!!

What to do better:
- Find out about the swim start and place myself strategically.
- Become more familiar with my timing devices!  I had 3 different devices that day -- either I failed them, or they failed me!  LOL In any case I was 0 for 3!
- Stay confident!  I'm slimmin' down -- loosing the skirt = shorter transition time!
- Learn to be more aggressive with passing riding and swimming!
- Find good, portable recovery food!

What was good:
- Good pre-race b'fast
- Hydration on bike
- Hammered it, but not too much, on the bike; saved just enough legs for the run!
- Run was steady and consistent.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Holy Tri Bike, Batman!

Just last week I was reading Jen's story, of her fairy-bike-god-family, helping her get her dream bike -- and now she's living happily ever after.  It's quite a story... sometimes it takes a village and her support system sounds like an awesome group of friends/family so go read it if you like. :)   In fact, the bike she got was also one that I admired as well -- what's not not to like about my favorite shade of "tough" pink. :)

Sooo-ooo... there's this bike I've been lusting over for a number of years... I first saw it leaning up against a tree -- had no idea who it belonged to, but I just thought, "Now that's a pretty bike!"  In general, bikes all look the same -- but this one looks completely different to me.  It's a Fuji D6 Pro.

I dare anyone to say that how a bike looks and it's color scheme doesn't impact their desire to purchase.  I fully admit it; I love how this bike looks -- it's what got my attention.  The fact that it's pimped out with SARM Red -- that's just a bonus.  :)

I thought I'd never own a bike like this -- an all carbon, pro level ride?  Me?  Furthermore, what would I do with a bike like that?  I mean, I'm not competitive.  I'm not a pro level rider... why do I need a bike like this?  And really, I probably don't. 

But... it's so pretttyyy! 

The other day I received an email from one of the local triathlon groups.  This guy and wife were leaving triathlon behind and selling their bikes. He had purchased the bike, trained and did 1 Ironman.  He had tried to sell this particular bike once before, but couldn't sell it for the firm price he was asking.  Some months later, he dropped the price again and with the exception of one tiny little nic from a rock, it is in mint condition.  It was perfectly kept inside the house.

I did the quick math in my head and thought, "If I sold my current bike and my race wheels, it would wash!"  I started burning up Hubs phone at work we were emailing back-and-forth -- me with "look how pretty?" and him thinking, "Oh no... here we go, she wants a new bike." Because in the name of full disclosure, I had promised, "No new bike until I signed up for Ironman."  My current bike would be completely fine. :)

Hubs, being as supportive as he always is with my dream of doing an Ironman, also knows I've loved this bike from afar. He also knew it was a ridiculously good deal.  The guy was selling the bike for little more than the clinchers alone are worth!  I could easily part the bike out and get more than I paid for it!

So here she is. My new family member.  A friend coined her "Caddie" as in Caddillac... cuz, you know, she looks like one!

And, she's mine!  I can hardly believe it, really.  I never thought in a million years I would have bike like this.  This is my Ironman bike. One step closer to my dream.

Funny thing is, 3 months ago, I was above the weight limit of this bike.  

Today Caddie and I go to the bike fit guy, so he can work his magic.  Wish us luck, that we can make this potential match made in heaven work!

Wish us luck!

Thank you Lord for this blessing! :)

Race Report: Kemah Triathlon (Olympic)

I followed my usual routine, prepping for my race.  I had a "normal" pre race dinner of me consisting of a lean grilled burger, veggies and sweet potato. Next morning ate my sweet potato and eggs for b'fast and downed a bottle of Extend (amino acids) and some Gatorade.  My sleep, the week leading up to the race, was not that good.  I have not been getting to bed on time and I have to admit I felt it a little.  :(

I arrived to transition early, as in before they opened! They were letting athletes in, so that was good. I got setup, checked my ins and outs, found my training buddy, and headed to the boat.

The boat ride was fun with my tri-peeps, and before we knew it we heard the National Anthem and a flyover by the Coast Guard; then the pros and elites hit the water.

The water was choppy -- definitely more of a challenge than last year.  I'm told there was a 1 knot cross current, making staying on course a challenge.  I noted on the way out that the buoys were all kinds of crooked, and therefore determined I would have to sight well on the shoreline to swim straight in for the the shortest distance. 

I had been having my recurring nightmare that someone would jump in on me from the boat, after I jumped in. The Friday before the race, I spent my time at Masters learning a life saving jump (Only pros and elites are allowed to dive off the boat).  This type of jump minimizes plunging deeply underwater.  On race day I was confident and I did it perfectly -- kept my goggles and all!  Whooo!  Though someone did jump in on my legs, but I was sort of on my way, so it wasn't a big, scary deal.

Started swimming and I just couldn't find a pattern to the swells for what seemed like the first 10 minutes.  I kept taking in water each time I'd breathe.  The current was a challenge, but I was staying strong, and and pretty straight!  After the first 10 minutes and everyone now spread out, I finally relaxed and the swimming became easier.  I was sighting well and pretty much at the top of the swells.  Yay!

I made it out of the water in 37 minutes. Not a stellar swim, but last year I did a 35, and it wasn't near this challenging.  So I'll take the 37 and be okay with that.  Overall the swim was fun.  I actually love this swim in this particular event.  :)

I exited the water and my stomach felt horrible -- the rest of me was fine, so I just kept moving on.  Dropped to my butt and had my wetsuit stripped.  I headed into transition and headed out on the bike.

I knew I'd been jostled a bit in the water and took in a bunch.  I was hoping my stomach would calm, but it was crampy the whole time.  It made riding the first 12.5 miles into the headwind (gusting up to 25mph)  even more awful.  My plan was to ride high cadence, keep my heart rate in check because we knew there would be a headwind.  On the way back, slow down my cadence a little, get into a good speed gear, keep my HR in check and enjoy the tail wind.  On the way out I rode somewhere around 13-15 mph... at times 11mph!!! Descents that normally take me at speeds  >25 mph, had me descending at 17mph!   I was patient and kept to my plan.  At the turnaround, I totally enjoyed riding 23-25 mph all the way back -- it made the ride out worth while for that piece of fun alone.  Sure enough I was passing folks who burned their legs up on the way out.  That coach of mine is pretty smart. :)   Seriously though, the tail wind was so strong I was climbing overpasses at 18mph -- which I never do!  LOL  I hoped on the way back my stomach would settle some, not having to keep a high cadence, but it wasn't getting better -- in fact, I felt like a visit to the port-a-potty was in store.  Bike time was 1:32 for a staggering average of  16.5.   Blah.  Tough Day, but I survived. 

I dismounted my bike and started running to my rack.  I immediately started puking -- there goes breakfast!  I started dry heaving and probably should have called it right there, but my kiddo was working the aid station and I didn't want her to see me quit.  I took a 6 minute transition and decided while today wasn't going to be the day my training progress would all come together, I could still go slow and steady and finish the race.  I left transition and made it about 2 miles.  I was dry heaving the entire time.  Finally I was just down for the count.  Medics came a took me; that was the end of my day.

Boo for me.  Admittedly we already knew this race was compromised from my bone bruise. 

So what did I do next?  I went home and signed myself up for TriGirl supersprint on Mother's day.  Yeah, it's not an Olympic distance, but it's not something I've ever done; just go hard as hell for under an hour.   I need to move forward from the Kemah event and forget about it, just as quickly as I forget where I put my keys.  :)

There's always next year.  

 PS:  Boo to the professional photographers who took my picture in the med tent!  Really?