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!!!

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