About Me

When I was 8, I was always the last one picked for dodgeball. Now at 29, I'm training for my first Ironman.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Worth a Thousand Words

Ironman was a little over two weeks ago.  So I've been obviously been meaning to post about it, but I've just been sort of busy doing all the things I wasn't doing when I was training for Ironman - like working and sleeping, for example. And I just couldn't really figure out what I wanted to say.  I was trying to set aside time to write a really lengthy description of every minute of that day.  But then I got my pictures and realized that wasn't really necessary.  Because this one says it all. 

I got kicked in the head, the lip, and the ribs during the swim.  It was freezing and choppy and scary.  I loved every minute of it.  I was on the bike for 9 seconds shy of 8 hours.  That's a long f*ing time.  I ate poptarts and shot bloks and applesauce and oreos and watermelon and cookies.  (All of which fueled me perfectly much to the surprise of many)  I didn't get sunburned at all thanks to the amazing volunteers who literally bathe you in sunblock.  I followed my plan for the run and did 9 minute run, 1 minute walk intervals for the first 22 miles, and then I just ran.  I laughed, I smiled, I talked to people.  I enjoyed being outside and just playing all day.  Being healthy and alive enough to be there in that moment on that day.  There was not one single moment when I thought about quitting.  Not one. 

I did this race exactly how I wanted to - smiling the whole time.  Nothing else really mattered.  And I loved every mile - all 140.6 of them.  Every hour - all 14 of them.  Every minute - all 23 of them.

It was perfect.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lady in Waiting

Now I know what it feels like to be 9 months pregnant and just waiting ... Ok, maybe not exactly.  But I imagine it's similar.  Or maybe like a prisoner on death row, waiting for execution day.  Ok, not that one either.  But it's somewhere in the middle of those two.  Regardless, I am happy to report that I am calm and excited, not nervous or nauseous as I expected.

This has been a great week.  We left Fresno on Monday and drove to Bend, Oregon.  We enjoyed a nice relaxing day in Bend on Tuesday and then made the rest of the trip to Coeur d'Alene (sp?) on Wednesday.  We emptied our bank accounts at the Ironman store on Thursday, got in a little bit of swimming, cycling and running on Thursday, Friday and today.  And we waited.  A lot of waiting.  It has been a really nice relaxing vacation.  I've read a lot, had some great food and had a lot of fun.  But seriously, I'm tired of waiting.  I'm ready to be an Ironman.

I have plenty of pictures to go along with plenty of stories from this week, but I'm too lazy to email them from my phone and upload them right now, so that will have to wait.  Which is fine, because my favorite moments from this week haven't been captured on film at all.

Like Tuesday when we we decided to go swimming at the resort we were staying at in Bend.  And it turned into an impromptu swim lesson from our resident expert swimmer, Becki.  We all ran back to our room to get goggles and worked on our swim strokes in our regular bathing suits in that little pool with confused tourists looking on.

Like Thursday night when, after a day of shopping and then sitting around reading, and then eating bbq for dinner ... I just needed to run.  So one of my fellow Ironmen-to-be went out there on a little Mongoose bike (the condo where we're staying at lets us use them) and rode alongside me for 5 miles at 9:30 at night.  A taper tantrum at its finest.  But I felt so much better afterwards.

Like yesterday in the lake when I stopped thinking about how cold it was and just thought ... it isn't "if", it's "when."  I'm going to swim 2.4 miles in that frigid lake.  And then get on with my day.

Like on our bike ride yesterday morning when I made Becki stop with me to pick two of the biggest dandelions I have ever seen (seriously the size of baseballs) and make a wish.  I can't tell you what my wish was.  But I bet you could take a guess.

Like today when I had to re-charge my phone 3 times because it was blowing up all day with well wishes from so many friends who I know are cheering us on.  There are so many good people in this world.  I'm lucky to have a lot of them in my corner.

I am so excited about tomorrow.  I just can't even explain it.  The weather might be crazy.  The water might be cold.  My special needs bag might get smashed (I hope not - I have watermelon in it!).  I might get a flat tire.  Or 4 (but not 5, I only have 4 extra tubes).  The sky might fall.  The world might end.  The only thing I can control is my attitude.  And I choose to SMILE.  Because sometime before midnight tomorrow, I will come down that finishing chute, high fiving every person along the way and wearing a smile the whole time.  And I will be an Ironman.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Time to Say Good-bye

Please excuse me, but this one might be a bit sappy.  It's been an emotional weekend, and now I'm all packed up, waiting for the last leg of the journey to Ironman to begin ... the 18 hour drive to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (which, conicidentally, I still had to google for spelling).

I had a decent final week of training/tapering in Fresno (heavy on the taper, light on the training).  I was travelling for work Monday through Wednesday so I just ran and then swam one afternoon at a downtown gym pool in Sacramento between appointments.  That was one of those trainings that really felt Ironman-esque - not because it was intense or anything like it - just because I was willing to do anything to make sure I got it done - like walk several blocks in heels, pay a $30 daily use fee, swim in a tiny two lane pool in a bricked in room, jump in a lane where 2 people were already swimming and spend my whole workout darting around them since they refused to do a loop swim, and then have my last client meeting of the day with wet hair and a weird explanation.  You do what you've gotta do.

The real highlight of the weekend was the send-off party that Bob and Becki hosted for all of us doing the event and the supporters who have seen us through the training.  I had no idea how many people from Fresno will be travelling to Idaho this week to take part in this same adventure.  It was exciting to meet them all and to share stories from our training.

The Fresno Contingent for Ironman CDA 2012!

This weekend was more about packing and making plans then it was about training.  Packing was by far the longest training exercise I had all week. It was a multi-stage process that kept me up late last night, and I'm sure I forgot something, but I'm also sure there's a Target somewhere between here and Idaho.

Swim. Bike. Run. In Style.  Go Ironmanda!

This will get me through only 14-16 hours of the next 10 days but is the bag that took the longest to pack.

I was able to squeeze in one last bike ride with my dear understudy, Kelly, and my friend Rochelle on Sunday morning.  We just rode easy out to the Shell Station in Friant and back. On the way back, I got a flat tire, on the back.  And I changed it in less than 5 minutes.  I'm getting pretty good at this.

Love her.

On Sunday afternoon, I went up to Bass Lake to see my grandpa for fathers day.  I jumped off the boat and swam to the shore.  No wetsuit, no goggles.  Just me in a red bikini.  I felt strong and healthy and adventurous.  And that's what this is really all about. I wasn't always adventurous, and I wasn't always the type of person you'd point to and say "I bet she'll do an Ironman." I have spent much of my adult life forcing myself out of my comfort zone, sometimes painfully so, but almost always to wonderful results. 

It really hit me on the way back that from my ride Sunday morning that this is it.  Even though the event is still a week away, the journey is already coming to an end.  When I signed up for Ironman last summer, it was because I wanted to spend more time with these amazing people that I had grown closer to while training for Barb's Race (half-ironman) last summer.  I wanted to smile the whole time like I saw Kelly Irwin do when she completed Vineman last year.  I wanted to go on crazy, endless bike rides with Dave Kurtze, and Jason Miller and Michelle Eskew.  I wanted to meet Bob and Becki McKee for Friday night swims at the lake. In a lot of ways, the training has lived up to all of my expectations, and in some ways it hasn't ... but that's been ok too.  Michelle got hurt and I missed out on training with her - but she'll be back and there will be plenty more miles to bike.  Friday night swims turned into Tuesday or Thursday or Friday mornings ... but they were just as fun, and even more beautiful.  Dave Kurtze led us on plenty of crazy bike rides, and one hot afternoon last week, I was even able to keep up with him and Jason.  And most importantly, I have smiled a lot.  And I'm confident that I can channel a little bit of IronKelly next Sunday and let her mockingjay pin carry me through the rough patches : )

This has also been a solo journey in a lot of ways too though.  It is completely impossible to have someone there with you for every single training (although Kelly and Jason came close).  And in the end it will be a solo journey on Sunday too.  And like it or not, that's what I need, to know that I can do this on my own - without my faithful friends - Kelly, Jason, Dave, Mark, Rudy, Matt, Katie, Jill, Steve, Christine, Cheryl, Bob, Becki, Shelley and so many others that have swam, biked, or run with me along the way.  But someone once told me that there is a difference between being lonely and alone, and I know that I will not feel lonely for a single stroke, pedal, or step.  They will be with me all the way.

What I saw when I opened my garage to leave for my bike ride yesterday .. and a beautiful reminder that I am lucky to have spent so much of the last 6 months exploring the amazing world we live in.

Monday, June 11, 2012

May the odds be EVER in your favor...

Wow! What a crazy week - full of snakes, grasshoppers, fires, chile verde and even a mockingjay!

Had a good week of workouts - long swim at the gym Tuesday, solo bike ride to Sheri's and back on Wednesday (really made myself work hard!), another good bike ride to Friant with Jason and Dave on Thursday (I kept up!), and a swim across the lake and back on Friday morning with 4 of my friends who are also doing Ironman CDA! The water was so perfect and calm on Friday too - it was like the lake thanking us for putting up with it while it's been so windy and choppy.

Took this picture of myself while riding back from Sheri's ... that's right - gone are the scaredy cat days of keeping the hands at 10 & 2!
Ironmen to Be!! Shelley, Chris, Bob, Becki and Me!

Saturday's schedule called for a short bike/long run brick.  It was fun.  I rode my bike from my house, just out to the top of Hospital Hill and back and then ran to Starbucks to meet Katie.  She graciously ran nice and easy with me ... but fast enough to get away from the monster snake on the trail!

Look at the snake!  It was spread across the whole trail before I started getting my camera out...

I swear we didn't plan to be twins

As if this wasn't enough activity for Saturday, I went to Jason's kid's b-day party at SkyWalk - a gigantic warehouse just filled with trampolines and kids.  Not sure how their liability insurance allows it, but adults are allowed to jump too, so we did.  That was a tough workout!  Ironman training did not prepare me for it...

No Ironmen-to-be were hurt in the making of this photograph

Sunday's schedule called for a 3 hour bike and 25 minute run.  I was originally planning on riding with a group to Superior Dairy in Hanford for ice cream, but a lot of people couldn't come so we decided to change our plan. I was bummed, but in retrospect, that would have been 70-80 miles - a lot more than I needed.

Instead, me, Jason and Kelly rode out to the Peach Blossom Cafe where Kelly's husband met us for breakfast.  We stuffed our faces and then rode the 20 miles back.  My chile verde omelet turned out to be not nearly as bad of a choice as I thought.  Maybe I'll stuff one of those in my special needs bag... Kelly's husband, Dave, was very clever and drove their sedan rather than their SUV so we couldn't be tempted to ask for rides home : )

Wait .. we have to ride home now?

The weekend's animal apocalypse continued on the way home when we road straight through a mile of grasshoppers covering the road.  As we rode through them, they jumped all over us.  Kelly is deathly afraid of grasshoppers, so this was quite entertaining ... until one jumped right onto my mouth.  Ewwwwwww!  I guess that was karma for making fun of Kelly.

The excitement didn't end there.  As we rode through the park to get home, there was a huge fire right in Woodward Park!  Of course, we stuck around to see all the excitement ...

Surpisingly, the firemen were not the highlight of my weekend .. that honor would go to my Ironman send-off gift from my dear friend, Kelly.  While I was hoping the gift was going to be her stowing away in my suitcase and doing this thing with me, she gave me the next best thing ... my very own Mockingjay pin to keep me safe and victorious at the Hunger Games Ironman.

And when I finally sat down last night to read the official Ironman Athlete's Guide, I realized this might be a little bit more like the Hunger Games than I originally anticipated ... if you break the rules you have to sit in a "penalty box" ... you can hold onto a kayak during the swim to take a break but you cannot use it to help you make "forward progress" ... and the run course description claims there is one "defining" hill.  What kind of description is that?!  13 days...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You're Almost There...

That's the worst thing to say to someone while spectating an endurance event.  Hands down.  Even if they are almost there.  Seriously, ask any endurance athlete and they will agree.

But that said, I'm almost there.  In 19 days, I will be an Ironman.  *Note that confidence - this is not "I'm going to try to be an Ironman." or "I might die."  I know now - I've got this.

Last week's trainings were a little sketchy because I was travelling for work, but I was ok with that considering the crazy weekend I'd had (90 miles bike, 20 miles run, Alcatraz swim).  This weekend was pretty great too.

On Saturday, Jason and I did the Bass Lake Olympic Distance Tri.  I was very happy with how I did - no PR or anything on this super hilly course, but I placed in my age division for the first time ever in a triathlon (2nd place, missing 1st by just 4 seconds!) and just overall felt really good.  I also tried out my race day wardrobe (tight run shorts - aka booty shorts - under the wetsuit for the swim, pulling on cycling shorts over booty shorts for the bike only and then off again for the run to save time in transition- winning!) and nutrition (margarita shot blocks, gu, and then pop tarts will be my secret weapon).  Overall, a good dress rehearsal.

My mom came to spectate and was pleasantly surprised to see that I seemed so happy and not in pain at the end.  Not true of some of the events she has seen me at before : )

I'm smiling bigger than him because I beat him.

The swim felt like it was too long (and it was only 2 minutes faster than my Wildflower swim which should have been .3 miles longer .. hmm..) but I felt strong regardless, especially at the end of the swim.

My goal on the bike was to keep it in a low gear on the hills and just spin up - no getting up out of the saddle and trashing the legs for the run.  I really focused on thinking about a lot of the tips my friends have been giving me for bike form and technique too and worked on staying in the aeros as much as possible.  The run is my strength, so I need to save myself for that.  And it worked!  Aside from a quick pause to give poor Jason my extra tube as he sat stranded on the side of the road with a flat and a busted replacement tube, my bike was good. Oh, and that of course meant that I beat him.  (Which he quickly said didn't count and accused me of sabatoging him since I had been nice enough to pump his tires before we started - nice guy ; )

Then came the run.  I. Rocked. It.  45 minutes flat for the 10K.  That's only 3 minutes off my 10K PR and here's the clencher - I was not necessarily trying to run fast.  I knew I had a long day of running the next day, so I told myself to just let the pace come to me.  It felt great - even on a somewhat hilly course. 

We celebrated with Forks Burgers and then drove home to Fresno so I could make a quick shower/pack transition and get down to San Diego ... except for one little glitch.  On the way home, Jason's new tri bike flew off the freaking rack on the top of his car.  Crazy.  The carbon fork had snapped.  This is the second time in the 6 months he's had it that something bad has happened to that bike.  It's cursed.  I swear.  Poor Jason.  I felt really bad for him.  Good news is, the repair will only be like $400, but still, no bueno.

So, onto my quick shower/pack and then headed on down to San Diego with my fellow Team in Training coaches, Mark and Katie, who had both rocked the Shadow of the Giants 50K that day while I was doing the tri up in Bass Lake.  We made it to SD a little after 10 and were up at 3:30am to get out to the San Diego Marathon. 

This was my first event coaching for Team and I had a BLAST.  Mark and I ran back and forth on the freeway portion of the course (Miles 6-11) for the first three or four hours and then cut up to Fiesta Island where the runners finish their final three mile loop.  We got to run with almost every single one of the runners we coached, including running most of them in for that final 3 mile loop to their first marathon finish.  I was so proud of each and every one of them and it was amazing to share that special experience with them.  Even cooler, when I looked down at my watch after running in our last runner, I had exactly 26 miles logged.  So, of course I left my Garmin on until we got to the Team in Training tent and it said 26.2, and then asked them for my medal. Lol.  I accepted a sandwich and a soda instead.

That long day of running was also good training for me -- I really feel like the Energizer Bunny right now.  I'm confident that I can swim/bike/run forever right now - as long as you let me do it at a slow pace : )  In 19 days, I'll get to prove it!

This week is my last week of double days.  Yesterday, I slept in because I didn't get home until midnight after a long drive, so I just swam 3000m in an hour at the gym  after work, but skipped the bike because it was really windy anyways.  Today I've got a short bike/long run brick in the evening.  Tomorrow is an open water swim in the am and a bike ride in the pm.  Friday might be a good day to revive Friday night lake swim/potluck.  And then this weekend has another short bike/long run brick on Saturday followed by the highlight of my training season - our ride to Superior Dairy in Hanford for ice cream on Sunday! Woo hoo!

And then it's really time to shut it down and rest up... We're almost there...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Final Exam

This weekend was my final exam for Ironman training.  I am happy to report I passed with flying colors.

It all started Friday.  Well, technically it started Thursday when I rested up for these big adventures.

But back to Friday - I ran in the morning - our regular 7 mile loop at a decently fast clip (about 7:45) and then swam in the evening.  It was ugly - windy and rainy but Kelly and decided to laugh in the face of Mother Nature and go anyways.  Afterall, I had my new wetsuit, and I was not going to let a few rain clouds stop me from trying it out before Alcatraz.  So we swam, and when we got half way across we decided that today was the day to just go all the way across and back.  Of course, the weather got ugly as soon as we decided to go all the way across.  Oh well.  It took us about an hour we figured.   I felt great - really strong, loving the flexibility of the new wetsuit.

New wetsuit day!!

Saturday, my schedule called for a 6 hour ride followed by a 25 minute run.  I should have checked the weather report more carefully before I dressed in a jersey, shorts and cooling sleeves.  It was windy, a little rainy and FREEZING.  Oh well.  I rode with Bob, Becki, Sumer and Mark... more precisely, I rode behind them .. up to Sheri's, then on up to Prather, then back down to Copper, up Willow to Friant and back to Starbucks. 

Me and Becki freezing after the climb to Prather

All the others were done with their bike workout at that point so I was left to my own devices.  I rode home, grabbed a jacket, and headed back out for another hour and a half.  Of course, the sun came out and I started roasting in my jacket.  But I digress.  I decided to ride out Avenue 10 to Madera and then come back Avenue 12.  I should have done Avenue 12 the whole way, but I'm not that smart.  Avenue 10 was bumpy with lots of stuff in the road ... including a tiny metal shard that wedged itself into my back tire at Mile 75 .. just as I was about to turn around... I slowed to a stop and started slowly coaching myself, "It's okay.  This is exactly what you needed to happen.  You need to make sure you can change your back tire all by yourself.  This is a perfect opportunity..." And so I did, slowly and methodically, changed my back tire all by msyelf ... and successfully put it back on my bike.  I was so excited I started jumping a round a little, took some pictures of myself with my tire and smiled the whole way home.  90 miles, averaging 15 mph, and a successful back tire pit stop - I was happy.

Who can change her own back tire?  This girl!

I jumped off the bike and transitioned to the run.  I kept it at a steady 8:45 to 9 minute pace and by the end of it, my legs were finally starting to lose the heaviness.  I know I could have run a marathon : )

Sunday, my schedule called for a 3 hour run.  I decided to join my usual running group for a hilly run from the Friant Shell station to the boat dock at the backside of Millerton and back, and then up to the Millerton courthouse and back.  It was  slow, hilly, and it hurt like hell, but I got it done.  And we got ice cream sandwiches at the end.

My ice cream sandwich with a view of Broken Bridge - the first hill we climbed - in the background

I hurried home to ice bath, shower and pack.  Time to head to SF for the final leg of my longest Ironman training weekend - the Alcatraz Swim Challenge.

At exactly 8am on Monday I jumped off a ferry docked at Alcatraz into the Pacific Ocean and swam back to the East Beach at Crissy Field.  It was by far the most surreal insane thing I've ever done.  They have 4 minutes to get all 320 swimmers off the boat , so after they counted down to the start they had all of us running to get off the boat, jumping three at a time and if you hesitated even the slightest bit, there was a nice volunteer from Tri-California to push right in.  I would expect nothing less from the fine people who brought us the torture filled Wildflower long course.  I literally jumped in on top of someone else and then quickly moved out of the way before I suffered the same fate.  The water was freezing.  I was thankful for my double cap and my boyfriend's insistence that I wear my blue seventy swim socks.  I also got quickly reacquainted with the taste of salty sea water.  Bleh.  And then I started to swim.

I know of no other way to describe the experience then imagining that your plan has crashed in the ocean and you have to swim back to shore ... in a wetsuit and a hot pink swim cap and blue seventy swim socks of course.  It was insanity.  The waves were huge and the current strong.  I kept trying to sight to the three buildings at Fort Mason and then to the Exploratorium dome as they suggested, but the current kept getting the better of me.  One mean kayak nazi kept yelling at me to swim left.  I wanted to yell back "I'm trying! You try to swim left!"  A nicer kayak Nazi helped guide me to the finish.  I wanted to hug him.  I'm proud to say I didn't really freak out though.  I really took in the whole experience - even glanced back a few times to realize that I was, in fact, escaping from Alcatraz .. channeled a little John Paul Scott (Alcatraz' sole confirmed escapee). Swimming towards the SF shore is just surreal too.  There was no fog and the Golden Gate was in full view.  Seriously, an amazing bucket list experience.  I finished in just under an hour and felt completely frozen and out of it.  Jason was there to greet me with warm clothes and the news that I'd been beat by a 9 year old, who also had time to be interviewed by the news while I was still swimming.  Lol.  I'm pretty sure I swam about 5 miles instead of the prescribed 1.5 due to my poor ability to navigate the current.  Oh well.  I got my money's worth ; )


After.... covered in ocean nastiness, but I escaped from Alcatraz!

Somewhere out there in the middle of the Pacific, I had a really happy realization that I'm going to be just fine on June 24th.  If I can swim and bike in the wind and the rain, change my back tire, run 20 miles of hills the day after 90 miles on the bike, AND swim back from Alcatraz, I can certainly finish the Ironman.  It's just doing all that stuff in one day instead of a holiday weekend.  No biggie.

I rested yesterday and ran easy along the Embarcadero today since I'm in San Francisco for work.  If I get home early tonight, I could bike or swim.  Tomorrow I will bike and swim.  Not sure about Friday yet.  Saturday, I'm doing the Bass Lake Olympic tri as a mini-dress rehearsal for IM.  Sunday, I'll be coaching my Team at the Rock n Roll Marathon ... and then it's time for the taper!  I have never been more excited to taper!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Best. Weekend. Ever.

What a great weekend!  Seriously, I would not change a thing about it.  Not even the weird sunburn patch on my leg (it's part of a larger 'fading' project to fill in the gap between my run shorts and the shorts I wore at Wildflower - it is not dermatologist approved).

Saturday was the bike ride - I emphasize ride because it's a ride not a race.  Some of our faster friends did not get that memo, and boy did they miss out!  We started out with a group of six but Cheryl and Christine were doing the "mini-metric" so we only got to hang with them for the first 20 miles. 

The rest of the day it was just the fearsome 4 - me, Jason, Kelly and Becki ... or "Jason and the Flaming Hoo Has" as he aptly named us.  I love my new saddle, but 100 miles will anger any hoo ha.  But enough about that - my mom has already informed me that she didn't think it was "appropriate" to talk about my butt hurting on facebook, so I can only imagine what she's thinking here.

The official facebook photo stop at Mile 68

Jason and Me at Rest Stop #2 Blossom Trail Cafe .. I told him I had a groupon ... we almost stayed and had breakfast...

So, back to my point ... ride not race .. So there were "rest stops" every 15 miles or so and they were FABULOUS.  Like full on Vegas buffets.  And while faster cyclists might just race on through, we decided that (1) we wanted to get our money's worth and (2) it would be rude not to make the volunteers feel needed.  So the list of what I ate to fuel my first century ride is as follows: chex mix, cheetos, part of a subway sandwich, lots of red vines, strawberries, oranges, and a handful of m&m's.  Since I left my watch going the whole time and Jason stopped his at rest stops, I can accurately report that we spent over an hour combined at the 5-6 rest stops along the way. 

Cycling wise, I felt great.  Huge confidence builder for Ironman.  Like 100 miles is going to hurt, but it is not impossible.  I kept a steady 15-17mph pace while we were riding.  Riding on the freeway was pretty fun - especially when we saw our friend Michelle on an overpass! 

IronKelly and Me flying down the 168 ... or at least keeping it above the required 8mph minimum.

There was only 1 really serious climb (about 1500 feet over 3 miles) and I powered up it like a champion.  I was passing people right and left, complimenting them on their handlebar tape (camoflauge!), jerseys (I want a chipotle one!) and cheering people on who looked like they were dying.  Truth be told, they probably wanted to punch me.  I waited for my friends and the next rest stop and they quickly dubbed me 'Queen of the Mountain.' 

My glory was fleeting, however, as my possee quickly ditched me on the terrifying descent.  (Super extra terrifying after I saw a heart spray painted in the road where a girl DIED on this course last year.  Yikes. Yikes. Yikes!)  But I just stayed to the right, on the breaks and handled my bike as well as I could. 

We spent the last half of the ride mostly in pace lines with our group and others.  The awesome Ms. Becky Cutler came out and found us at mile 75 and pulled us in for a lot of that last portion.  The last 10 miles coming into town were a lot of fun.  We almost hitched a ride with Crazy Eddie's towing and he cheered us on with some loud honks.  Random homeless people cheered for us as did people waiting for the bus who were probably cursing us for riding bikes when we don't have to.  All in all, it was just a great day - we finished in just under 8 hours.  And I just can't think of a more perfect way to spend a Saturday with friends.  And yes, I know that makes me a bit insane.

So the plan was to hop off the bike, change into run shoes and run for 30 minutes.  But they had ice cream and tri-tip and the finish line and all of our fast friends were already there .... so Kelly and just pulled off our cycling shoes and ran around the stadium in socks for 10 minutes.  It was enough to reassure me that my legs will still work after 100 miles and I will still be able to run a marathon.

Sunday was also wonderful in a completely different way.  When I woke up, my legs were screaming.  Even those first few steps of the race hurt like a mo fo.  But I just had this feeling of "I don't care.  I want to do it anyways."  I'm tired of running slow and making excuses about it.  I wanted to remember what it felt like to run fast, to run past the pain, to put myself in 'the hurt locker.'  And so I did.  I started out at a 7:15 pace and my overall pace was 7:24 so even though I dropped off a little, it wasn't nearly as bad as I felt.  I had constant company for almost the entire race - thanks to Teresa, Becky, Lea, Bethany and Katie for running with me for bits and pieces of the race.  I crossed the finish line in 1:38:47 - only 3 minutes off my PR and good enough for 1st in my age division and 10th or 11th overall female!!! (someone was blocking my view when I was trying to count at the results booth and officials aren't posted online yet)

Screenshot from me on the live news feed!
Katie (who ran with me from 11-13), me and Kelly

That run gave me a lot of confidence - not just that I'm going to be an Ironman, but that I haven't wrecked my running and I will probably come back from this stronger than I was before.  CA Classic Challenge - Check.  Two more weeks of insane-o training and then it's time to taper!

The two medals separately
The two medals when you clip them together!

Friday, May 18, 2012

It's coming together...

Ironman training has a lot of similarities to training for the bar exam ... long hours of stuff that makes you uncomfortable, comraderie with insane people, a little too much time inside your own head, weirdos at public facilities (whether they be gym pools or libraries), accomplishments on a grand scale ... and this week I found one more similarity ... that moment where it all starts coming together.

When I was studying for the bar exam, I'd heard about it from other students and even other bloggers that I followed.  This moment a few weeks before the exam where the panic calmed down and you had this sudden peaceful realization that (a) you probably weren't going to die and (b) it's almost over.  And even better that (c) you might actually fare better than you initially thought.  I remember that moment distinctly when I was studying for the bar.  I was floating around the pool at our apartment complex, slowly reciting the elements of something I don't remember anymore to myself, and I was suddenly impressed with myself and felt calm.  I wasn't just taking the bar exam, I was going to pass.

It happened again last night.  But let me back up ...

It's been an impressive week training wise. 

On Saturday, I ran 19 easy miles with my Team.  Perfect training for the slower-than-normal miles I will undoubtedly run on June 24th.

On Sunday, I rode my bike to Bass Lake to see my Grandma and mom for Mother's Day.  There was nothing easy about that ride, but I got through it and felt strong.  Except for when Kurtze had to change my tire for me.  But we'll get back to that.

This is right after the worst climb and right before I told Kurtze it was only a mile or 2 more.  It was actually 5.

Woo hoo!  We made it! And my mom knows my friends are just as crazy as I am!

See how they're looking at me like I'm crazy?

On Monday, I started the day with a 4000m swim in the gym pool.  4000m.  Also known as 2.4 miles.  Also known as the Ironman swim.  And I was fine.  I felt strong.  I went and worked all day and then got on my bike and rode 32 miles to and from Sheri's roadhouse - a decently hill ride.  Either as a result of good conversation or just me getting stronger, the climbs felt easy.  I even ran a couple miles after I hopped off the bike.

On Tuesday, I went to the lake in the morning with Andrea and a couple of people from the tri club.  The three of them are phenomenal swimmers.  I was immediately half a mile behind.  But it was so amazing to try to chase them.  Even with the humbling experience, I felt strong.  That evening, I went out for a quick bike ride before the Team in Training track workout.  And I got a flat tire.  I was alone.  Just me, my flat tire, a new tube and a CO2 cartridge.  And I did it.  I didn't even get frustrated and it didn't even seem to take that long.  As I quickly rode home, changed into my running clothes and hustled over to the track to get in some fun miles with Team.  I couldn't stop smiling all night.  I had changed my own tire.  Check that off the list of things that would not prevent me from becoming an Ironman on June 24th.

On Wednesday, I ran a hard figure 8 (a hilly mile loop) workout with my usual group in the morning and decided to give myself a mental health night off.  I hadn't wandered around Target in a really long time : )

On Thursday, I ran our usual 10 mile loop in the morning, went to get a proper bike fitting and a new saddle at Rubber Soul at lunch, and then at 4pm yesterday ventured out on our very own triathlon - We called it Court to Condo to Chipotle .... or the Triple C Tri.  Jason, Kelly and I swam about 3/4 of the way across Millerton and back ... then Kelly and I transitioned to the bike and had a very windy 15 mile bike ride home (new fit and saddle are amazing by the way) ... then at my house we transitioned again and ran to Chipotle for dinner (where I had parked my car).  It was so much fun. 

Smiling at the Start of the First Annual Court to Condo to Chipotle Tri

Still smiling at the Finish of the Triple C Tri.  We were pretty excited that we both made it on the podium.

And sitting there at Chipotle, in sweaty tri clothes and scarfing down a burrito, it hit me.  I'm going to be an Ironman.  Because I can run 19 miles without thinking about it.  Because I can ride my bike to Bass Lake.  Because I can swim 2.4 miles - 160 laps - in a boring gym pool.  Because I conquered my fear of swimming to the point that I swim in a lake - for fun.  Because I can change a freaking flat tire on my bike.  Because I can swim, bike and run for a few hours on a random Thursday night just for the hell of it.  Yup, this is why I signed up to do this.  Because it's fun to know that I can and will be an Ironman. 36 days to go.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Better Outlook

My last post might have been a bit negative.  I apologize.  Wildflower Long Course will apparently do that to you.

But it's been a good week.  I'm doing a bunch of short workouts to try to allow myself to recover while still getting back into the swing of two-a-day workouts.  I'm also trying to transition my focus to cycling and bricks.  So here's what I've done:

M: Rested
T: am - Swam 2000m at the gym
    pm - Ran 5 miles at the track with Team
W: am - Ran 6 miles of figure 8's
      pm - Swam 35 minutes at the lake then transitioned to a quick 30 minute bike ride
Th: am - Rode 1 hour easy and did a quick transition to a 1 mile run

I'm going to run tonight and then either swim or bike tomorrow morning.

Saturday is a long run with Team and Sunday is an adventure bike ride up to Bass Lake to visit my mom and Grandma for Mother's Day : )

Most importantly, I had a good talk with my friend/advisor/cheerleader Kelly last night.  It's her fault I signed up for this anyway.  She looked so happy and smily when she did Vineman last year it made me think I could do it.  I was starting to think she might have had drugs, so I asked for some.  Just kidding.

We talked about how it's so important to have a good attitude about this and that if you're not having fun, then there's really no point.  She reminded me that when I signed up for Ironman, I envisioned training being nothing more than playing outside with my friends.  And that race day is really going to be the reward for all of that.  And that I might even suffer some post-partum depression when it's all over (I kind of doubt it).  She also reassured me that I am not going to die (or at least it's highly unlikely), so I just need to embrace it and keep a smile on my face.  And it wouldn't hurt to ride my bike more. : )

Monday, May 7, 2012

My thought process right now

What I learned on the Wildflower Long Course...

  1. I am not ready for Ironman.
  2. I hate riding my bike.  Unless I'm with fun people like Kelly Irwin or Dave Kurtze or Jason Miller, and they are going slow enough for me to keep up : )
  3. I hate riding my bike up hills.
  4. My swimming has improved. (3 minutes faster this year than at Barb's Race last summer)
  5. Improvements in swimming will not make or break the day at Ironman.
  6. My cycling has not improved. (3:29 on the relatively easy Barb's Race course last year.  4:30 on the Wildflower course this year)
  7. My cycling probably hasn't improved because I hate riding my bike.
  8. I love running, but running hurts after riding your bike.
  9. I love running, but running hurts after running two marathons in the previous three weeks and then riding your bike for 56 miles. (2:46 half marathon which is pretty much the slowest I've run, like ever.  Barb's Race last year was 1:54)
  10. I am not willing to forego marathons to seriously train for a triathlon.  I like marathons.  I don't like triathlons. 
  11. I might not make the cycling cut-off at Ironman.
  12. I will be wearing cycling shorts for Ironman.  Even 56 miles on the bike hurt in tri shorts. Like, I-may-never-be-able-to-have-children hurt.
  13. I might die at Ironman.
  14. I hate transition Nazis who yell at you for being the rookie who doesn't know the right direction to rack your bike.
  15. I hate triathlons.  Like, I just don't care enough about triathlons or cycling to make myself work hard like I do with running.  As I was walking a good half of the run course, I was seriously saying unhelpful mantras out loud like "This is stupid" and "I don't care" and "F*$! this S&*%"
  16. I hate Wildflower, mostly because they don't have enough porta-potties on their run course.  I won't go until details here.  I may have eaten too much on the never-ending bike ride. (See snack box before ride)  Just sayin'

17.  I hate hills, especially when you have to ride your bike up them. And down them.
18.  I should wear more or better sunblock.

19.  I should wear body glide before putting my wet suit on.

20. I need to ride my bike every day between now and June 24th.
21.  I need to run at least 15 minutes after getting off my bike everytime I ride my bike between now and June 24th.
22.  I like s'mores.
23.  I might die on June 24th.

So yeah, it was a great weekend.  [Heavy sarcasm intended]

This is after we finished.  Jason looks really happy because (a) he rocked it and (b) he'd had an hour to rest while waiting for me to finish.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Back from the dead

I'm back.  With a vengeance?  At least in the blogging department - we have a lot to catch up on.  And lots of pictures to tell the story.

This last month, I have learned some very important lessons.  Such as:

1) Being sick sucks.
2) Trying to just push through and stay on an Ironman training schedule when you're sick just makes you stay sick longer.
3) Giving in to the 'listen to your body' gods really does work.
4) But not as well as antibiotics work.
5) The fact that I can still run 2 sub-4 marathons in a 2 week period means I'm in a lot better shape than I give myself credit for.
6) This doesn't prevent me from being concerned that I may die on the Wildflower Long Course this weekend.

That's basically the last month in summary.  Now here are the dirty details.

Leading up to Boston, I just stopped looking at my Ironman training calendar.  I gave in and went to the doctor (which I never do).  My brilliant doctor at Kaiser blew me off and when I told her I was just frustrated because my immunity was down and I couldn't stay healthy, she suggested an HIV test.  Really?  We're going straight to AIDS?  Thankfully, the cute medical assistant who took my pulse when I got there mentioned that another doctor at Kaiser actually does Ironmans.  I switched to him.

Anyways, I stopped looking at my calendar, listened to my body, focused on getting healthy and just tried to do one easy workout a day for the week or two leading up to Boston.

Boston was awesome.  Because it just is.  I had planned to go out and get my sub-3:25 PR but the weather Gods had different ideas.  At 89 degrees with 61% humidity, it was the second hottest Boston in history, and I decided to take the advice of my beloved and wise Coach John and just dial it back a bit and have fun.  And man did I ever.  Let me say it again.  I. Love. That. Race.  I love that town.  I love those people.  There is just nothing bad about the Boston Marathon.  Even when it feels like you're running it on the surface of the sun.  I high fived so many people that my hands were hurting more than my legs.  This was very much a "mind over matter" race.  Not in terms of digging deep to get a good time.  I did not worry about my time (other than I always want to be under 4 hours) and stopped looking at my watch very early on.  Rather, it was "mind over matter" because I thought I looked soooo much better than I actually looked.  So I took away from Boston 2012 three very important lessons:

1) My stomach does not look good enough for public display.  It is very very very very white.
That's a fist pump by the way.

2) Just because I'm happy, does mean I look how I feel.  I felt very very happy in these pictures.  I just look hot and sweaty and delirious.

3) I will run Boston every year they let me.

So back to reality ... now my plague-like illness had been improving before I left for Boston, but planes are never good for this type of thing.  I started getting that scratchy throat feeling again the day before the marathon.  Then I woke up the day of the marthon with hardly any voice and coughing up a lung.  Lovely.  Whatever - it did not really affect me in the marathon.  But afterwards ... oh were my lungs angry.  I did not stop coughing all day.  Or the next day.  The people on the plane ride home probably thought I had TB.  I should have told them my doctor just said it was HIV.  That would have made them feel better.  So I called the Kaiser advice nurse.  She said my doctor had noted that I run and asked if I had been running since that last doctor's visit.  "Yes," I replied, "I ran the Boston marathon yesterday."  She laughed.  And then she paused and said, "Wait.  Are you serious?"  Classic.  Yes, lady, I'm serious - now Kasier learned their lesson.  If you don't take me seriously when I come to the doctor (since I rarely do) I will continue to run myself into the ground until you clearly and explicitly tell me to stop.  I got in the next day and got antibiotics for bronchitis.

I thanked my diseased body for letting me enjoy Boston and decided to give it some rest.  I did nothing - NOTHING - for 5 whole days.  I felt ridiculously lazy.  I even skipped the Millerton Olympic triathlon that I was supposed to do on Saturday.  And then I slowly eased back into things ... a little 2 mile race (that almost killed me), slow bike rides (which is the only way I ride the bike anyways), a couple more slow runs, and even a swim at the lake (where Jason thoroughly demolished me even though it has been proven many a time at GB3 that I am a faster swimmer than him - can you hear me Jason? Friday was a fluke!).

And then I ran the Big Sur marathon on Sunday.  It was amazing.  Beautiful, breathtaking views, ridiculously hard hills and howling wind that makes you feel not the least bit guilty about taking a "this is not a race" approach. 

I met my "just don't go over 4 hours" goal with a 3:56.  It would have been faster but we had this pesky little distraction at Mile 17 when my running partner, Katy Robinson, got a surprise marriage proposal from her boyfriend Brett.  So exciting! So happy for her!

The Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge is a really cool thing because of the huge contrast between the two events.  They are both amazing but in completely different ways.  Boston is a big loud crowded party running through towns where the people are the greatest scenery.  Big Sur is a small, quiet, serene Sunday morning where the landscapes speak for themselves.  Oh, and a concert pianist at the top of a really big hill.

Point being this - the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge was a great reminder to me that I don't just love running, or racing, or getting faster.  I love the marathon itself.  It's an incredible feeling to know that I can go out on any given Sunday and run 26.2 miles.  As Pat Hill would say, anybody, anywhere, anytime.  Oh, and still be able to ride my bike to work the next day and take the 3 flights of stairs to my office.  :)

So now here we are, Boston and Big Sur are done and it's on to completing this Ironman challenge.

I am proud of myself that, even though I learned the hard way, I finally let myself rest and get better and then came back slowly.  (Ok, slowly for me - not a normal sane person)  I think the lightbulb finally went on and I'm learning that Ironman is not just about learning how to swim, bike and run for a really really long time.  It's about learning how to take of my body so that it can swim, bike and run for a really really long time.

Now it's time to get back to work.  I let myself sleep in this morning. I'll swim tonight. Probably bike and swim tomorrow, etc. etc. etc. 

This weekend is Wildflower long course.  It is going to be ridiculously hard.  Katy warned me that it will not feel like a half ironman - it will feel like a 3/4 ironman.  I feel like I've lost some of my fitness in the last month of being sick and running marathons coast to coast.  But I'm pretty sure that's in my head.  Either way, it's time to find out.  It's time to get back to work.