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.

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.