Friday, June 28, 2013

Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2013 Race Report: Pre-Race

So here I am, on the other side of Ironman Coeur d'Alene.  It was amazing.  I want to do it again - soon.  It truly was one of those days where I did (pretty much) everything right and raced to my training and my potential.  Putting this day into words is going to be tough.

So here's the pre-race report

I decided to wear my very best, most obnoxious tri-dork wear.  Hot pink compression socks and my clashing pink Brooks PureFlow2s, along with short shorts that highlighted my cycling tan lines.  I was a looker.  Somehow Will didn't mind being seen with me.

We flew from Denver to Boise and then from Boise to Spokane.  We were sitting in the airport in Boise, looking at the hill for the 70.3 that scared the bejezzus out of me 4 years ago and laughed.  "I eat hills like that for breakfast".  Its true.

We got to Spokane at noon, had my friend (and her kids - my "nephews") pick us up and take us to the rental car place downtown (saved us $200), and then we headed to CDA for check in.  I wanted to get this done ASAP so I could chill out for a bit.  It was raining and cold.  The expo - a grassy park - was now a mud pid.  And there were hardly any vendors about.  It made for a lame expo.  I got my packet along with the prized Ironman backpack.  It is pretty cool.
freezing here.  and trying out some pig-tail braids.

I spent too much money on gear.  Seriously.  Its ridiculous.  I got a cycling jersey, a visor, a long-sleeve tech shirt with my name in teensy tiny font on the back, and a mug with a guy doing butterfly for the swim.  I thought about getting a tri jersey as well, but the sizing is crazy and I needed an XL.  I figure they'll go on clearance and I can pick one up then. 

I also got some stuff for my friend Ryan, who wasn't getting to the expo until the next day.  The weather was crap and I was freezing (still in my shorts/socks outfit), so we decided to head back to Spokane for the night.

Friday I was supposed to do a 20 min swim, 45 min bike, and 10 min run.  Being that I was in Spokane, I decided to skip the swim and just bike/run.  I hit the Centennial Trail, thinking, hey, its along the river so it should be flat.  No, it was the opposite of flat.  In fact, I think that there isn't a spot of flat land in Spokane.  It was misty and cool and BEAUTIFUL.  There's just something about riding through the forest that makes me happy.

I hurt my foot wearing those dumb Normatek compression boots in early May at St George, and recently the pain had gone away.  Well, wearing my compression socks the day prior aggrivated my foot and I was a bit worried.  And I felt a bit sluggish on the bike.  But my run was fast and solid with a very low sub-140 bpm heart rate. 

I got done with that around 1 PM.  I still had to shower and eat lunch, and then we had to drive the run and bike course, check in to our hotel in Hayden (about 15 min north of the race), and then be at a friend's cabin on Lake Hayden at 5 PM for dinner.  Sounded like I had a lot of time, but I was pretty rushed.

We drove the run course.  There's a 6% grade that's a 1/2 mile long at mile 5 and 18 - not super nice.  But otherwise the run is along the lake and it's pretty.  The bike course uses part of the run course and then heads to along the west side of the lake for the big hills.  We drove the bike course and the hills were longish but not overly steep and very doable.  The second loop would be tricky but I have definitely ridden worse.

Hotel was nothing exciting, although we had a fireplace (WTF?) and a jacuzzi tub.  Then we booked it to the cabin for dinner.  And from the cabin, we went to the athlete meeting.  We got there around 6:40 and got a good chunk of the athlete dinner talk, which went over until nearly 7:20.  I'm glad we had dinner on our own, as it looked like they served pasta on paper plates.  Of interest was the swim start protocols, which were totally new and untested.  The were having us group up on the beach by our own self-professed swim time.  That's a little problematic on its own.  But the time groups were HUGE.  Sub 1-hr, 1:00-1:15. 1:15-1:30, etc.  15 minutes is a HUGE gap.  Ugh.

There were 4 of us racing from my club and strangely enough, I was the IM veteran.  We posed for a photo and noted how light it was at nearly 9 PM (which was our projected finish time).  Then it was back to the hotel and off to bed.

me, Mark, Ryan, and Adrian.  This was taken at 8:30 PM - look how light it is!
Oh, big day.  This is the day I hate the most.

My coach told me that Friday night and Saturday morning were the critical meals, so I made sure I got a good breakfast of ham, eggs, and potatoes.  Actually 2x the potatoes.  mmmm, carbs.  Then we headed over to Walmart for bright duct-tape and ribbon so I could decorate my gear bags.  It was actally the most pleasant Walmart experience we've ever had - probably because it was 8:30 AM and everyone else was still asleep.

Then it was to the hotel to pack my run and bike bags and to get my bike ready.  Everything had to be dropped off today.  I hate this part.  I took a photo of the contents of my bag, so when the inevitable "I didn't pack X" freak out happened, I had a photo to reference. 

I had rented a GPS tracker thingy and based on IMTX, it was a bit awkward on my race belt (its a bit heavy).  I wanted to pin it on my tri jersey so I was playing around with options.  The best option was on my lower back with 4 pins.  I thought about pinning them on my jersey in T1 or having a volunteer do it for me, but that seemed really stupid from a time standpoint.  I decided to pre-pin the GPS on my jersey and then toss my jersey in my bike bag.  That meant I'd have only a sports bra on under my wetsuit and people would see my gut.  I decided that it was worth it to save a few minutes in T1.  I also decided to not put any jackets in my gear bags and I'd check the weather on race day and make last minute adjustments.  I also had my cool wings and some socks-turned-arm-warmers in my bike bag.  And the usual other things that go in your bike and run bags. (I did forget to pack my sunglasses in my bike bag and my visor/hat in my run bag... because I was wearing them. dummy).

We headed out to the race expo around 10:30 AM.  I wanted to get all this crap done early on so I could spend the afternoon chilling in my hotel room.  I dropped my bike first.  I actually had a pretty sweet bike rack spot - towards the bike out and 4 bikes in from the main aisle.  I'll take it. 

Merlin is ready for action!
Then I dropped of my run and bike bags, again I had pretty good locations.  There was a sign with 600-XXX and I was 608, so that put me pretty close to the signs.  It was looking like rain but I didn't have any add'l plastic bags.  I thought about pulling my running shoes to keep them dry, but ultimately, I decided to leave them in my bag and take my chances.  I then headed over to get an idea of where the heck swim in, bike out, bike in, etc was.  It was confusing and the volunteer had to explain it to me 3 times WITH the map in front of me.
how I figured this out on race day, I have no idea...
Then we attended a little seminar on "secrets of the couse" which of course contained little new info.  But it was an opportunity to sit down and see my friends.  After the seminar was done, they went to lunch and I went in to swim 15 minutes.  I didn't have anything official for the day but I thought it was important to at least touch the water before the race.  The water was cold but not anything colder than St G or what I swim in at home.  I did some out and backs and then I did a few mock beach run outs and run ins so I could remember what to do.  No one else was doing this.  So I felt smug and prepared.
rocking my coach's two piece wetsuit.  I don't look like a whale!

I love, love, love this photo.  Good job, Will!
For lunch, we drove out of the congested downtown area and found a place called Jonsey's.  It looked like other tri-dorks were eating there and I was hoping for something fresh and not full of bread.  They served breakfast all day, so I got a pesto pork chop, 2 eggs, and roasted potatoes.  Perfect.  Will got a bacon cheeseburger and I glared at him. I also wanted pie, but I needed to stay away from gluten so I resisted. Their waffles looked amazing, so I vowed to return there after the race.

Then we headed back to the hotel.  I was planning on watching Netflix but we both were super tired so we took a nap.  I wasn't planning on napping because I wanted to go to bed early, but I figured if I was that tired then I shouldn't fight it.

We met friends for dinner and went to a not-super-appropriate place for me.  It was all sandwiches and pizza and salads.  Ugh.  So I got a salad but picked around most of the lettuce.  We also went for fro-yo, which made me happy because then I got some carbs that didn't involve bread.  Yay! 

Bedtime was somewhere around 9 PM and we had a 4 AM wake-up call.  Yikes.

Up and at 'em, and I actually slept really well.  I got up and immediately checked the weather.  The forecast was wonky, changing from nice to rainy to windy in the days leading up to the race.  I was so worried about rain that I made an emergency trip to REI before we left for Spokane for 2 light weight rain jackets.  The weather was looking good so I decided to not bring a jacket. I did have my favorite long-sleeve shirt and my cycling sleeves in my run special needs bag, in case it got cold.  I changed, had Will apply sunscreen (I used Planet Sun this time around), and I ate a breakfast of 1 Honey Stinger protein bar and ~200 cals of EFS.  We hit the road at 4:45 and didn't have too much trouble finding parking.  I think we had to walk maybe 5 blocks.
Super Moon (which sadly I couldn't see because it was cloudy)
I had heard the day prior to drop the Special Needs bags off first thing, as they were a ~10 min walk away from the bikes.  I happily handed my bags over to Elvis, which was amusing.  We walked along the lakefront and the fog was really spooky but pretty.  You could barely see the buoys and we all thought swimming was going to be interesting.
I went straight to Merlin and filled up my water bottles and nutrition.  I had 40 oz of 50% diluted EFS in my Speedfill, 2 Honey Stinger chews in my bento box, another 4 packages of chews in an empty water bottle on the back, and 6 "hours" of concentrated EFS in a bottle on the back.  I aired up my tires and made a TON of friends, as the line for compressed air was ridiculously long.

After that, I went to my run bag to put my two hats in there (a visor and a hat, depending on what the weather was doing).  Then I went to my bike bag and put my sunglasses in there.  Then I spent forever in a port-o-pottie line.  Which was actually ok because I ended up standing next to a facebook friend (and friend of a real life friend).  I was putting on my wetsuit and realized that I didn't have an inhaler on my person and transition was closing.  Dummy.  So I booked it through the crowds back to my bike, where my inhaler was located in my bento box. 

Action shot of me taking off to get my inhaler.  Also: I went with pigtails for my hair.
I took 3 puffs, figured it was ~30 min before my swim start, and that would be good enough.  I also decided to drink my ~100 cals of Liquid Shot + 1/2 scoop of Pre-Race.  I then ran back to the swim area, told Will goodbye and stood for the national anthem (we both got teary).  Then it was time to go see what the swim start business was about.  I went to the beach, saw the people with signs, and decided to do a bit of a warm-up in the water.  Really, it consisted of maybe a minute of swimming, but it was nice to get in the water, have the shock of cold hit me, and be done.  I then lined up in my "1:00-1:15" group by myself, trying to make friends.  I ended up finding one of my friends (Dimity), mainly because she's so dang tall, and waited to go.  Just me and 2500 of my closest friends.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thoughts going into Ironman #2

My first Ironman was all about firsts.  First time running over 15 miles, first time riding 100 miles, etc.  I spent much of my time thinking that my coach was trying to kill me, wondering where I was going to get these long rides done and how I was going to manage to do big back-to-back days.  I spent most of my training by myself (I had just moved back to Denver).  Mostly, my experience was fueled by fear and questions.

This time around has been completely different.  If I had to put it into words, I'd say that my mind and my heart were much more "open".  It wasn't that I wasn't willing to put in the work last time, it was just that I had many other emotions overshadowing the work.  This time, life is calmer, and I know that a) I can finish the race because I've done it before and b) I know what the work feels like.  This takes out a lot of the noise and allows me to focus on getting the work done.

My workouts, especially cycling, have been so much harder than last time.  The first time I saw Deer Creek on my trainig plan, I was pretty freaked out, but I realized that all I needed to do was to try it and see what happens.  I can take my time.  If its hard, I can go as far as I'm able and turn around.  The training isn't the race - its what gets me ready to race.  My muscles didn't care if I had to take 3 breathing breaks on High Grade - it was making it to the top that mattered.  My run paces have been faster than ever as well.  I've approached them with a "just try it" attitude as well.  So what if I do my first repeat too fast?  Try and hit that pace for repeats 2-4 and I may suprise myself.  Essentially, I tried my best to take out the negative talk and be open to hurting and to seeing what I could do.  And I'm pretty damn impressed with what I was able to do.  I've never been able to run mile repeats sub-9:00.  But two weeks ago (on very tired legs), I did that 3 times.

I've moved from saying "I'm terrible climbing hills" to seeking hills out and trying them out.  I'm still not very fast, but I can climb pretty well without feeling like I'm going to die.  And more importantly, I don't look at hills with dread.  Like during Elephant Rock a few weeks back, I just shook my head and laughed, and rode up the hill without drama, no big deal, its just a hill.

Another difference is that I've had people around me this whole time.  I've had training friends for all of my long bike rides.  I have a swim team that understands and supports me.  My tri club is awesome.  My network of friends don't respond to my race as "you're insane", but instead they say "you're awesome".  Mentally, this process has been incredibly positive.

And here I am, race week, and I am calm.  I've had only one set of butterflies - that was last Friday when I set up my race paces.  I can theoretically take 2.5 HOURS off of my IMTX time, and I'm not even proposing crazy fast paces.  1:12 for the swim, 7 hrs for the bike, 5 hrs for the run.  Not unreal or unrealistic paces.  If I was doing these as stand-alone events (and not even really pushing that hard), these times are completely realistic.  I've been doing these paces in training.  Honestly, what scares me is that, to hit that time, I really need to force myself into my pain cave for the run and get it done.  I have to balance hurting against that goal time and wanting it.  How bad do I want it?  I pride myself on being tough, but it is a bit scary to look a time (and a huge race) in the eye and say "do I want it and by how much?" How much am I willing to hurt?  So much of this race is mental and it all depends with how "open" my heart and mind are.

These are questions that will be answered in 6 days.  It should be a good ride.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The people who keep me injury free

I've had a pretty bad history of being injured.  And very randomly injured.  I've broken both feet while running, had shin splints and ITBS for very extended periods of time.  And a bunch of aches and pains.  I'm fortunate, this time, to have settled in with some really great people who help to keep me on track.  I spend probably too much money on this stuff, but I really feel it helps.  And I'm going to toe the IMCDA line injury-free.  Hurray!

I see Todd with Golden Hands Massage Therapy every two weeks.  I saw him initially in Sept or Oct 2012 because I had a groupon and I immediately knew that he was fantastic.  He really knows his therapies and isn't shy about really getting to the root of all my knots.  His massages aren't fun (in fact, this is a running joke with us) but they work.  Maybe after CDA I'll get a "nice" massage that's relaxing and stuff.  His pricing is also fantastic - $80 for a 90 min massage, but if you buy 4 you get the 5th free, making the price $60 for a 90 min session.  Sweet!

I started to see Dave Kaplan of Colo Acupuncture Studio based on a recommendation from a friend.  Back in February, my hip started randomly hurting and I thought I'd give this a try.  I'm not sure the acupuncture helped my hip (I think the chiropractor did more to fix this), but Dave is really helping me in other ways.  I really don't quite understand what acupuncture does.  Dave feels my pulse, sometimes looks at my tongue, makes statements like my pulse is sluggish and stagnant, and then sticks a bunch of needles in me.  He strongly feels that my lungs are my biggest limiter (and after really paying attention to my body during hard efforts, I agree with him.  My muscles are rarely the problem, I feel like they could go faster.  Its my lungs and heart rate that are screaming at me to slow down) and we're working to make my lungs heathier.  He prescribes chinese herbs for the lungs and he's also got me on some herbal "tea" to help make my blood flow (which promotes healing) during and after my peak training weeks.  What also interesting, is that Todd will do reflexology on me and identify organs that aren't happy (usually kidneys - dehyradation, duh!, and my liver).  Without even telling Dave any of this, he will confirm Todd's evaluation and stick needles in me to help out these organs.

Its also pretty relaxing.  I know, relaxing with needles in your body is a weird concept.  I'm usually there ~1.5 hrs per session (we do a lot of chatting, he's a cool guy), and most of the time is spent lying on a table letting the needles do their "thing".  I generally fall asleep during this time.  Its awesome.
This was from last week, after weeks of peak training.  This would be a "lot" of needles.
I see Dave usually every two weeks, although we'll increase the frequency if needed.

I loved, loved, loved my Houston chiropractor.  He was awesome.  I have had a hard time finding someone similar here in Denver.  I saw three different chiros before I found Dr. Jay Fullinwider, based on a recommendation from Dave.   Jay doesn't take insurance (boo) but he has package rates that work out to $40 a session.  He is extremely thorough and effective.  He even found that I had a rib out of place (!!).  As a bonus, he does some muscle manipulation and ART work, in addition to chiropractic adjustments.  I've been seeing Dr Jay every two weeks as well (sense a theme?).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

IMCDA Nutrition Plan

When I was riding with my coach last Friday, she said it was time to start developing my race plan.  I, very sarcastically said "I suppose 'survival' won't cut it this time?".  Um, no. 

So, here's my nutrition plan.  I'd say its about 85% proven.  There's always a bit of an unknown factor, but hopefully this will work for me.  One big change: no salt pills.  Coach doesn't like them.  And after my 8 hr ride in Boulder, I don't think my gut likes them much either.  I was using PowerBar Energy Blasts (I love the cola flavor), but I read the ingredients and the glucose is wheat-based (really guys?  really?) and it turns out the Honey Stinger chews have a higher electrolyte amount.  Plus they taste good and they don't stick to your teeth.  And my stomach seems to like them too.  So I'm on board with Honey Stinger.  And the EFS line has electrolytes too, so lets just hope I get enough in for the race.

Race Morning:  Green Tea Extract (for caffeine), EFS, and a Honey Stinger Protein Bar.  The bar needs to be eaten no later than 4:30 AM since my swim start will be ~6:45 AM.

Pre-swim: about 30 min (maybe 20) before the swim, 100 cals of Liquid Shot + Pre-Race.  (seemed to work well at St G)

Bike: ok, this is where it gets complicated.  Goal is 250-300 cals per hour.  I've been doing more like 260 in training, but if I can get more down, I'd like to.  I'm hoping for 7 hrs on the bike but am planning for 8 in case there are issues.  That means 2,100-2,400 cal for the bike.
  • diluted EFS + water, 1 scoop per hour (100 cals).  I'll have 200 cals in my Speedfill bottle and I'll have a concentrated 500 cals in a water bottle in my rear bottle cage.  I'll also have a concentrated bottle in Special Needs in case I lose a bottle.  Drink 100 cals per hour, or refill my Speedfill with water + concentrate every other aid station (or so).  I'm doing more of a "eat your calories, drink your hydration" approach.  This will give me some electrolytes but not mess with my stomach too much.
  • 2 flasks of Liquid Shot (400 cals each).  One is up front in a handy little flask holder, one will be in the void space in my rear bottle cage.
  • 4 packages of Honey Stinger Chews, 2 in pomegranate passion and 2 in lemon lime (for caffeine).  I like the cherry cola ones, but the color is too close to the pom ones, and I'd like to just grab chews and eat based off of color and not have to worry about which little bag I'm digging in.  I'll start with 2 bags of chews in my bento box, and I'll probably have a 2nd (empty) water bottle with another 4 bags crammed in there.  I did that for Elephant Rock.  You have to stop to extract the bags of chews, but I figure I can do that during a bathroom stop.
  • Timing:  Drink to thirst but at a minimum, every 15 min.  Honestly, I'm going to try to drink everytime the thought "drink" pops into my little pea brain, because I don't think I drink enough.    Every :15 and :45 take a good swig of Liquid Shot.  I am shooting to use a whole flask in 3:30-4 hrs.  Every :00 and :30 eat 2-3 Honey Stinger chews, alternating btwn pom and caffeine flavors.
  • Watch for stomach sloshiness and moderate (reduce) calorie and fluid intake accordingly.
Run:  whooo, boy, this is unproven ground.  Well, not completely.  I've done 2 bricks with the above bike plan and this proposed run plan and I've had 1 long run with this plan.  But I've never actually raced with it.  Yay?  I used to drink a concentrated drink mix or do Liquid Shot (sometimes with caffeine), but I've had issues with it.  My stomach would cramp or it would taste icky so I wouldn't drink it.  I did try Liquid Shot + water + green tea extract on a long run (where I also had chews) and I found that I gravitated more towards the chews and barely touched my hand-held bottle.  So chews it is, because this girl needs to learn how to take in calories while running.
  • Handheld with water, so I can drink to thirst between aid stations.
  • 2 Honey Stinger Chews (30 cals) per mile.  This works out to be ~800 calories.  Hopefully I'll be "running" for 5-6 hours, so this will be 130-150 calories per hour. I'll have the same flavors as on the bike so I can easily choose between normal and caffeinated ones.  This is a ton of chews - 6 packages.  I don't have a whole lot of room in my tri kit, so I will definitely be making a stop to special needs halfway through the run.
  • Supplement with Coke as needed.
Hopefully this works for me.... there's only one way to find out.  :)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Faux-taper week

I mistakenly thought that my 3rd week out would be a taper week.  Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled when I say 19 hrs on my training calendar.  And that was with taking Monday off.  Oof.

But, typical to how I've approached this thing, I just put my head down and did what was asked of me.  Tuesday was a 4 km swim workout, including 30 x 100 free at IM pace.  Ick.  Wed was a 1:30 run.  I am sooo over running.  Thurs was a 1:30 bike and 30 min run.  But I got them done.

Friday was another swimbikerun day with 3.6 km swim and my usual Deer Creek - High Grade bike adventure and a run.  My coach insisted on riding with me, which is intimidating, but also but cool.  I usually do the Deer Creek ride solo because I just need to do it on my own terms.  I don't want added pressure of keeping up with people or feeling guilty about stopping if I can't breathe.  But in the end, it was a good thing Michelle went with me.  Immediately upon leaving my HR was in the 160's.  At the start of the climb, my HR was 175.  It is normally 165 in that section.  I had to stop and bring my HR down.  Lame.  Especially when my coach was with me.  On the easier section, my HR was still way too high so we decided to just make it to the top of the switchbacks.  My HR zoomed to 180, which was really odd because my legs pretty much spun up the hill.  We got to the top and Michelle declared that my ride was done and had me turn around.  Even coasting down the hill, my HR was 125-130 and on the flats I was at 140.  She pulled the plug on my run as well and told me to "go home, eat, nap, and watch a movie."  Ok!  I needed to get my body rested enough so I could hit my targets for Saturday and Sunday.  So I got some food, went home, had a nap (supervised by both kitties) and then hung out on the couch all night.  Really lame for a Friday night, but I needed it. 

As much of a bummer as that was, it was nice having Michelle with me.  If she wasn't, I would have been stubborn and forced my way (very slowly) up the damn hill.  She did tell me that my bike fits me perfectly (it should) and that my legs are really strong (yay!).  And for the first time in my training, I actually cracked.  I've had other times where I was really tired and then somehow ran the fastest mile splits of my life.  This time, I was really, truly too tired to perform.  Michelle was beginning to wonder if I was bomb-proof because I just kept on going.  If there was a good time to crack, I suppose Friday was it.  It shows that my training load has finally caught up to me.

Saturday was a 5 hour ride and a 40 min run.  She had notes in there about riding 80 miles, but I had strict instructions to keep the ride at 5 hrs and to keep my HR around 135 for the whole ride.  Ok.  I met my friend Ryan and he took me on a random 2-wheeled tour of Littleton, Denver, Wheatridge, Golden, Red Rocks, Morrison, and Deer Creek.  I wish I had pics, especially around Red Rocks, but I just didn't feel like messing with my phone.

We were on trails the first 2:15 of the ride, until we got to Golden.  And from Golden to Chatfield Reservoir, we went through random neighborhoods that had a lot of hills.  My HR was much better though.  Average HR was 132 and I think it peaked out at 165.  Good deal.

My MP3 player died 2 hrs into the bike so I had to do the 40 min run without music.  It was also a bit hot out.  But my legs and stomach felt good - I ended up going 0.15 mile farther than last week.  (of course, I had ridden 2 hrs less this week).

I think I finally have my nutrition figured out, which is awesome.  My bricks in April and early May had MAJOR side stitches for the first 20 min of the run.  Like "hurts bad enough I need to walk and stick my fingers in my ribcage every 4 minutes" kind of bad.  We've been working on my bike nutrition and I think I finally have it nailed down, because my past 2 long bricks have been awesome.  It seems that the key is to dilute my drink mix and to eat most of my calories.  This is kind of a pain in the ass to execute but I will do it if it means my stomach is happier.

After the brick, my friend and I went and got wings and beer, and laughed about how a 5 hr ride seems short.  Our waitress thought we were crazy.  Ironman: where insanity is all relative.

Sunday required some pep-talks.  I had a 2:15 run, where the middle :45 needed to be at HIM pace.  And then I had a 1:30 recovery ride.  I decided to get up semi-early (6:15 AM) and drive over to the High Line Canal for my run.  High Line is a nice, even, wide dirt path that goes all over Denver.  You've got green grass, pretty mountain views, and mansions to look at while you run.  And it is fairly flat.  So if your run sucks, it will at least be pretty.

This was another one of those "just get it done" kind of workouts that ended up being pretty great.  The first 30 minutes really sucked, my legs were really heavy and my stride was choppy.  Then around 35 min I realized I was running smooth and kinda fast.  I started my 45 min HIM pace at 40 min into the run and I was really suprised with how well I did.  I was using this run as a test for my nutrition, which is probably the least proven on the run.  At every mile, I'd walk for 0.05 mi where I'd drink and eat 2 chews (30 cals).  This seemed to work, I had good energy and my stomach was fine, even at the harder efforts.  Even better, my peak 5k pace was 10:22 min/mile and my peak 1 mile pace was 10:15 min/mile (which includes the little walk breaks).  Solid!  And the really great part is that for the efforts, my HR was only around 150-155.  I can only hope to do that during my race.  I had 45 min remaining in my run so I chilled out and ran at a slower but comfortable pace.  I then realized why my coach had me run the HIM effort in the middle of this run.  It was so my legs would get tired and I would have to finish my run on tired legs.  Ah hah!  That coach of mine is so smart sometimes.  I finished up the run with 12.34 miles and a pace of 10:58.  A full 30 seconds/mile faster than last week's long 14-mile run, where the last part was awful.  What a difference a week makes.  I sooo needed this run and the confidence boost that came along with it.

Then I did an easy 1:30 ride on the trails by my house and that was the end of the week!

This week looks much more tapery.  12 hrs.  Swim and bike seem pretty easy.  Running is not easy with Tuesday having 4 x 1 mile fast efforts and Saturday's 1 hr run having 3 miles at sub-9:15.  That's a 5k on a 9:15 pace.  I don't run that fast, or at least I didn't 6 months ago.  I think I do now.  We shall see.

Race day is 13 days away and so far so good.  No freaking out, no crazy dreams, just a feeling of good solid training and knowing I'm ready to get it done.  :)

Monday, June 03, 2013

100 Miles of Elephant Rock

alternate titles: holy headwind, the elevation profile on the website was way wrong, and yay - its my last long ride before CDA

Yesterday was the final big day of my final big 18-days-without-a-day-off training block.  This training included two 20 hr weeks, back to back, with no rest.  Fatigue is my friend.  Or at least my companion for the past few weeks.

A friend (who is also doing CDA, Ryan) and I were going to try and ride together, or at least start together and then hang out afterwards.  The plan was to show up at 5:45 (this meant waking up at 4:45, ugh) and starting at 6 AM.  Well, traffic was bad and we didn't get rolling until 6:30.  It was also freezing (or 45 degrees).  We were wearing our tri kits (which have small pockets) and didn't want to dink around with sleeves.  I opted to wear my Cool Wings, thinking that fabric of some sort would be better than bare skin.  I'm not sure I was warmer or colder with them on - I just know that I was cold.

This was my last day to dink around with nutrition.  After last weekend, my coach has issued a strict No Salt Pills policy, because they messed with my digestive system.  She also wanted me to dilute my drink mix some more.  And since I wasn't relying on the aid stations for nutrition, that meant I had to bring everything with me.  I was planning my nutrition out the night prior, freaking out about how the hell I was going to carry 1700 calories with me.  Then I remembered I had 2 flasks for Liquid Shot, which is approx 400 cals per flask.  The rest would be made up by drink mix (100 cal per hour) and Honey Stinger chews.  I was extra crafty and crammed 4 packets of chews in an empty water bottle and put that in my rear bottle cage and I had a second bottle with some concentrated EFS drink mix.  Pockets - who needs pockets?

The main issue for the day was the wind.  When I left my house I immediately noticed that the trees were moving.  Crapola.  We had pretty much non-stop headwind for 2 hours.  And those 2 hours were all uphill.  There was a nasty hill at mile 4 (FOUR!!!) of the ride, which sucked because my legs were not warmed up yet, and with the wind, I was a bit defeated already.  We got to the top of a plateau with rolling upward hills and it was just windy.  I was getting blown around and I was right on the line of whereI didn't feel it was safe to ride.  Other people were really wobbly and there were roadies just blasting past me, too close for comfort.  I was debating my safety - at mile 15 of 100.  I stopped at the first aid station (I saw friends) and I even made some silly comment about "will they call the ride for safety - its so windy?"  Dummy.  I got a reassuring pat on the back from my friends and kept riding.  And in the back of my head I was just thinking that if it was this windy on race day, I was screwed (or in for a loooong day).

I made it to the T in the course at 1.5 hrs into the ride.  Turn right for 62 miles, turn left for 100 miles.  I had overheard someone say that the wind should be better for the 100 because the course goes through the Black Forest (trees!) and the trees would provide a bit of a wind break.  I don't know who that guy was, but I'm so thankful to him for saying that.  

This portion provided a bit of variation, as you headed east or south or west, which meant that you got crosswinds or headwinds.  It was gusty but doable.  The roads were crap and I'm glad the crowd thinned out because you had to be careful about where you were riding.  I had gotten so used to leaning left (while going east) that at some point we did a short jog west and it felt really strange to have to lean right.  I took my planned rest stop at Aid Station #2, where I ran into my two friends again (and got another pat on the back), re-filled my water (with some concentrated EFS) and used the bathroom.  Then it was back on the road.

I remember looking at my Garmin at the 4 hour mark and noting that I'd only gone 48 miles - a whopping 12 mph.  Damn.  I also knew that eventually we'd turn north and get a tailwind.  After the aid station stop, my spirits improved.  It wasn't solid headwinds, I was warming up, and I was just focusing on nutrition and keeping the effort on the hills light.  I was not focusing on miles or time. I was just focusing on getting things done.

Nutrition was a bit sketchy at first, but I got my act together.  With the high winds, I really didn't want to take my hands of my bars to eat.  And I didn't have very many calories in my drink mix.  Doing this for the first ~2 hours of a bike ride is ok.  Doing this in the first hour of an IM is most definitely not ok.  I finally started paying attention to the clock and my food and became regimented after ~3 hrs.  At the :00 amd :30 I'd eat 2-3 Honey Stinger chews (alternating btwn caffeine and non-caffeine) and at :15 and :45 I'd have a good swig of Liquid Shot.  And I was drinking at least every 15 min, although, if I had a thought of drinking enter my head, I would make myself drink. 

At mile 48 we had a pretty good climb that didn't seem to end.  At first I was a bit discouraged but then I realized the hill (and the timing) was pretty much St George.  Once I got that in my head, life was good.
We had BEAUTIFUL views of green grass and Pikes Peak the entire time. 
Unfortunately it was so windy, I didn't take many photos.
Pretty soon, I came upon Aid Station #4, so I stopped to refill my water and use the bathroom.  I ran into Ryan and another club-mate, so yay!  Friends!  Ryan and I left together (where he dropped me pretty quickly) and we got to conquer Roller Coaster Road.  I had friends warn me about this road (which was around mile 60?). Its basically an undulating upward climb with some pretty steep sections.  I had taken all of the hills pretty conservative (as well as the windy sections) because I knew that we had this climb and another one at mile 85, so I had plenty of legs left.  I passed so many people on RC Road.  I felt bad for them, because they were hurting and me (this little girl on a sparkly bike) was spinning past them.  I tried to make a funny joke as I went by, to make them laugh and distract them a bit.

Once you got done with RC Road, it was pretty much smooth sailing west to Palmer Lake.  I was flying along and for whatever reason, something felt off.  I reached back and realized I had lost my bottle with my concentrated EFS.  Really strange because the road wasn't that rough (compared to previous sections).  I'm just glad I was regularly checking my bottles and I knew pretty quickly that I'd dropped it.  I only had to re-trace my path a little ways and there was some nice (and random) guy who dismounted to get my bottle for me.  I had no idea who he was or what his plan was.  Maybe he liked my water bottle.  Either way, I got my bottle back and hit the road. 

I went through Palmer Lake and I knew I was in for a treat.  We had now made the turn north.  This meant tailwind AND I knew we got to go downhill.  It was a bit congested but I just FLEW down the hill - max speed was 46.3 mph.  I really enjoyed the way down from Palmer Lake because it is sort-of my home turf.  I know the road so well and what to expect. 

I ended up stopping at Aid Station #6 at mile 85 to top off on fluids and use the bathroom.  There were some ladies with stuffed elephants affixed to their helmets.  They were also on road bikes with platform pedals.  WHY on earth would you do a 100 mile hilly ride on platform pedals?  (I also saw people on cruisers and mtn bikes.... and they were not the super-fit humble-brag type of people either).  More power to these people, but damn.  These ladies didn't know the area, so I warned them about Tomah Road, which has a bit of a nasty rolling hill.  At mile 85 of 100.  Not very nice.  I had ridden this hill twice (at the end of some 50 mile rides) and I wasn't very fond of it.  I had the aid station workers pour water on my Cool Wings and I hit the road.

*random aside*  people were TERRIBLE with their bike handling.  We had the wobbly slow people (understandable with the wind) and roadies.  When passing, I'd give the wobblies a wide berth - and more than once I had people pass me on the left (while I was passing) and I'd have someone zip past me on the right, between me and the wobbly I was passing.  I also had several instances where we had the ENTIRE lane and someone would zoom past me, 6 inches from my bars.  Really?  And I also saw a poor guy wobbling up a hill with a car behind him.  The car was actually being really nice but the guy swerved in front of the car.  When I passed him, I told him to be careful and that he nearly got hit. And finally, at the last aid station, I gradually slowed to a stop at the side of the road (on the white line) and some chick contacted my back wheel (WTF?).  She continued to ride into the aid station (uphill on dirt) and then wrecked.  This was some of the worst riding ettiquite I have ever seen.

I knew what to expect from Tomah and was curious to see how I'd do, 85 miles into 100 and on very tired legs.  I was very, pleasantly suprised.  I passed a ton of people (several of which were mashing and NOT in their easiest gear - WTF?) and again, tried to make jokes as I passed them.  This climb felt easy, which was so cool.  Normally I'd be huffing and puffing and wanting to die.  This time I had surplus air for conversation.  In looking at my stats, my heart rate max for this hill was 12 bpm LOWER (at 2x the distance under my legs).  So, as much as I hate Deer Creek and High Grade, I also kinda love it, because I can climb hills.

I crested Tomah and gave myself a congratulatory fist pump because I knew the hills were done and my legs still felt good.  The ride planners were really mean, though, and made us turn south for a few more miles along a frontage road, and back into the headwind.  I just made myself stay aero and focused on easy legs since I had to run 40 min after the ride.  We got to the I-25 overpass and made the turnaround to go north back to Castle Rock.  I was so distracted by poor riders that I turned a bit too early and actually went on the I-25 entrance ramp instead of the frontage road.  Ooops!  The cops made a comment about how they'd like to see me go 80 mph on my bike on the highway.  Back on the correct frontage road, I had flat terrain and wind at my back.  That meant a nice easy cruise at 23 mph.  Then it was up and over a few hills through a neighborhood to the finish.  I dropped my chain on the 2nd to last turn (WTF?) and then got a bit disorientated as I had parked by a grocery store close to the running trail and not the County Fairgrounds.  I got my bearings, fought traffic, and got back to my truck in 100.7 miles and a whopping 7:14.  My coach had originally planned 7 hrs for the ride and I thought she was dissing me as I'd done 100 miles two weeks prior in 6:09.  Apparently my coach is wiser than me.  Also, the event website is mega-wrong on the elevation gain.  They had 3900 ft gain.... my Garmin clocked me at 6300 ft.  More than CDA.  And my legs felt awesome.  Go me!

Ryan sent me a text saying he was already running (of course) and he'd meet me at the fairgrounds.  I swapped my bike gear for my run gear and headed off for a 40 min run.  I'm always amazed that I can run after a bike ride, but especially amazed after a 100 mile hill ride.  I ended up doing a 0.9 mi run and a 0.1 mi walk (to replicate aid stations) and that worked out fine.  My coach told me last week that she'd like me to run through the aid stations (and to run for as long as possible before walking) but I think mentally, I need a walk break.  It brings my heart rate down and gives me a chance to re-set.    The run wasn't super exciting, but I got it done.  3.5 miles in 40 min.  And then my friend and I celebrated our last long workout with beer and wings.  Yay!

3 more weeks to IMCDA!
Random pretty iris photo from my yard.