Monday, June 30, 2014

Ramblings - IM Peak Training Edition

Here I am 33 days out from IM Boulder - here's what rattling around in my little brain.

The training this year doesn't seem nearly as scary/hard as the past two IM builds.  Really, it seems like I've just been s/b/r'ing along at a "normal" volume.  Things didn't really start to feel too crazy until last week when I hit 16+ hours.  I know I've been training a bunch, it just hasn't felt like it.  Probably because this volume has become my new normal.

I officially went into food lockdown mode last week.  No bread, no sweets (except my nightly dose of dark chocolate), no fruit.  Just lots of meat, veg, sweet potatoes, avocado, and nuts.  I dropped weight successfully last year and am hoping to do the same this year.  For whatever reason, I think I'll be a bit heavier than last year, but I do think I've gained more muscle since then.

My motto is now "just survive the next 3 weeks".  I figure I have 2 really hard 20+ hour week, a medium-hard week, and then sweet, sweet taper.  One of my friends actually asked me if I was starting my taper soon and I just laughed.  I'm a month out.  Its too early to think of taper.

I need to stop comparing myself to my friend's training schedules.  I have several friends who already have several 100 mile rides under them.  My longest ride (yesterday) was 87 miles.  I was so wrapped up in this that last week, I went and printed off my TrainingPeaks schedule from 2013 IMCDA and compared it to where I am now.  Turns out, I'm the same to even slightly ahead of last year.  I will be fine.  Deep breaths. Chill the f out.

As usual, I'm still dinking around with my nutrition.  I'm trying to eat real food.  Do you know how much crap you have to carry with you for a 7 hour bike ride, fueled by real food?!?!  Its a ton of food.  I quickly learned that the FeedZone rice cakes, while tasty, are not at all practical for IM bike rides.  I've been trying to use Salty Balls, but they get really sticky and are hard to swallow (insert joke here....).  They're enough of a pain where I find that I'm not eating enough of them.  And I have to carry them around (bento box, special needs).  So this past weekend I tried Bonk Breakers.  They're at the aid stations for Boulder (so I don't need to carry 7 hours worth) and are gluten free.  Each one is 220-270 calories, so I'd need to eat ~1 1/3 per hour. They're also less sticky and go down a bit easier.  For this weekend's ride, I packed 6 bars and 2 packs of Honey Stinger Chews and did ok.  The main issue is that real food takes freaking forever to chew and swallow.  I even timed myself - 3 minutes.  And when you're eating something every 15 minutes, I'm spending 12 minutes PER HOUR chewing.  Blech.  My stomach was happy though, so I think I just need to get over the chewing thing and consider it race entertainment.

My shoulder is finally happy.  I did something gnarly to my left rotator cuff, causing it to snap like a rubber band.  I finally found a chiro/ART guy who is pretty aggressive with my treatment.  I've had 4 pain-free swims.  No time like a month before your IM to get your shoulders back and happy, right?

My 20 year high school reunion was this past weekend.  They had a Friday night happy hour and a Saturday afternoon BBQ.  The Friday thing was downtown and cost $40/per person and from what I could tell only covered the cost of a private room and some appetizers.  Doesn't that seem excessive?  I mean, if I was travelling to town for this, I'd probably go with it and call it a "vacation expense".  But to spend $80 for both of us and only get appetizers?  Not to mention the fact that it was going to be a lot of "on my feet time", I'd likely have to go and eat dinner somewhere else before the event, and I'd probably have to leave early since I had to get up at 5:20 and run/swim before the BBQ.  I dunno, maybe I was being cheap, but it was hard for me to see many pluses.  I went to the BBQ, only got 2 plates in me.  Will continued to be a great sherpa, telling me to quit talking and get more food.  I saw some people I really enjoyed catching up with, but again, I don't know.  With facebook, it seems that you can find people you want to re-connect with and develop relationships.  Talking to someone for 5 minutes every 10 years doesn't seem all that meaningful.  Maybe I was just tired and cranky, who knows.

The long training stuff is starting to build up.  I'm trying to find pretty places so it isn't so awful.  Saturday I had a 2:15 run and a 0:45 OWS.  So I parked my truck at Chatfield (where I swim) and decided to run up Waterton Canyon.  This run is a bit deceiving, as it is a pretty steady uphill as you go up the canyon (and then downhill on the way back).  But I think the IM Boulder run course has shallow uphill grades, so this type of terrain should be good for me.  Plus, its pretty:

I'm not really working much right now (long story that I don't want to get into here).  On the bright side, this gives me plenty of time for training and napping.  On the not-so-good side I don't have much money and with me being home more, I have access to more food.  So I'm eating more.  But I kinda don't like being at work when I'm not being paid, so....

I'm more than a little worried about the heat for Boulder.  I'm pretty heat sensitive (IMTX didn't go well for me - it has h.o.t !!)  The good thing about not being trapped in an office for 9 hours day means I can do my shorter rides/runs at the hottest time of the day.  That way I get some heat training in but I can also recover.  (My long runs are early in the morning - I have no desire to run for 2+ hours in the heat).

We did a ride in Boulder yesterday where I tried to hit the "highlights": St Vrain out and back, the eastern portion of the course (not really a highlight, but we needed to see it), and the "3 Sisters" (3-ish hills at mile 99 of the Boulder bike course).  The forecast was 95 degrees and this would be a great test to see how Osmo would treat me.  Normally I get heat headaches and afterwards, I feel like I have a hangover.  After 5:15 of riding (87 miles) no heat headaches, no stomach issues, and today I don't have that familiar "I've been run over by a bus" feeling.  Awesome!  Also, the course isn't so bad.  While St Vrain is a mean trick on the part of race organizers (you zoom down the hill at 40+ mph only to turn around and ride back up the hill), there's really only one steep bit where you have to work.  AND its early in the ride, like mile 15 so you're fresh.  The "3 Sisters" at mile 99 are doable.  The first hill is the steepest, so you just need to turn the corner and immediately gear down and you'll be fine.  Remember to not be a hero and things will be ok.  (but they'll still suck - any hill at mile 99 on a ride sucks).  The true trick to the Boulder course is the 10+ miles of false flat, into the wind portion east of I-25 on CR-19.  Its not hard, but there's nothing to look at but farms and oil fields.  You feel like you should be going a whole lot faster than you are.  And if you're not smart, you'll cook yourself.  Definitely a good place to ride by power/HR to avoid killing yourself.
Miller Farms, along the Boulder bike course.  Aka Radiator Springs from Cars.
There's my brain dump!  Happy training!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Just one of those days

Today was a day where very few things went right.  But boy am I happy those things did go right.  I had my usual Friday swim-bike day (no run, thank goodness).  Swim practice was ok.  Then I was going to meet a swim team friend at 9 AM to ride up Deer Creek Canyon (13.5 miles and 3k ft climbing).  She had a 2 hr ride, I had a 3 hr.

I left the house and immediately realized my nutrition was on the counter.  Turned around, retrieved it, and also discovered that my Garmin was sitting on my desk in the home office.

The whole drive over (a whopping 30 min) I wanted to pull over and take a nap.  I was so tired that I missed my exit.

I parked, got my bike set up, and quickly realized that my Garmin was d-e-a-d DEAD.   Ugh.  Ok, backup plan was to set the timer on my phone and map things out afterwards.

My friend shows up, we start riding.  I do NOT feel well, my stomach is revolting and my perceived HR (dead Garmin = who knows what it really was).  I gave it 25 min and a few steep-ish hills and I knew I wouldn't be going all the way to the top.  I probably could have made it, but it really wouldn't have been fun.  We stopped, agreed to do something else.  I checked my phone and it decided to shut off.  Lovely.  So no time.

We rode for 2 (estimated) hours, I returned my friend to her car and I continued onward. 

I stopped to refill my speedfill with my rear bottle of Osmo and dumped a good 1/4 of it on the ground.  Awesome.

About 5 minutes later, I heard an incredibly loud POP and realized my rear tire had exploded.  The force was so great that it blew the tire off the rim.  The tube had a good 3-4 inch gash along the rim side.  I have no idea what happened.  And I hadn't swapped out my emergency supplies after Boise, so I still had my very expensive 80 mm tubes.  I took my time and successfully fixed my rear tire.  Hurray.

I rode on and ran out of Osmo about 15 minutes of my car.  Lame.

And then I got back to my car, went home, and took a nap.

So, the good parts were that I did my time on the bike, even if I didn't do the specified route (I was short ~1k of climbing).  And I did a good job of fixing my flat.

Hopefully I got all of the cycling bad mojo out of my system now.  It seems like I hit all the highlights in this one ride.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Adventures in Idaho

We actually took a 12 (!!) day vacation to Idaho, in what I ended up calling our "Idaho World Tour".  I think the longest we stuck at one place was 5 days.  I really hate living out of a suitcase, but as is the case with these sorts of trips, you end up doing a bunch of travelling in order to see everyone.

This trip was hatched when I had to pull out of the Boulder 70.3 to be a bridesmaid for my friend that I've known since 6th grade that is marrying my husband's cousin.  That's been a mouthful to explain and I'm so happy that I can now simply refer to them as "my cousins".

The whole point behind doing the Boulder half and full was to keep things local and to keep costs down.  With Boulder out I had a few options.  A) skip the 70.3 and just do the full (HA.  and no).  B) do other Colo 70.3s (HITS in Grand Junction or a race in Steamboat).  Both of these would require driving and lodging, which takes away the cheap part of racing.  or C) race Boise the week before the wedding, stay with family, and hang out for a week until the wedding.

Obviously we chose C.

Thurs - Saturday (days 1 - 3) are chronicled in my Boise 70.3 Race Report.

The rest of the trip is probably better told with photos and a bit of text.

Sunday after the race was nearly a luxury day.  We slept in.  Cousin Jason (1 of 7 of my husband's cousins) made us waffles and home-grown beef bacon (they're ranchers).  We then went out into the desert to check on some spring.  Jason and another family friend went in his pickup, Will was on a dirt bike, and I was on the side by side (off-road golf cart).  It was dusty but super fun.
happy husband on a dirt bike

ranch roads

its not a ranch adventure unless something breaks down.  This time a wire got loose on the Toyota.  Simple fix.

foreground: me  middle: Will  distance: Jason and Patty

hello ladies (and babies)

this is one of my happy places

We got back from our ranch shenanigans to find that the wedding couple had arrived from their drive from Boulder.  We had dinner and stayed up until midnight talking and drinking beer.

Monday was a super fun day.  Chase (the groom) had an old ~1969 (?) Chevy pickup ("Belle) that he was restoring.  It was housed in his dad's barn in central Idaho.  The family decided to pitch in and restore Belle as a wedding present surprise.  Monday was the day Belle would be unveiled.

The logistics were interesting.  The happy couple woke up at the ranch by Mountain Home, went into town to get their marriage license, then headed up to Chase's home in New Meadows.  Jason was storing Belle in his barn (which we locked to prevent snooping!) and we had to drive the pickup (on a flatbed) up to New Meadows before Chase and Deanna got there.  This meant a whole bunch of back-road driving and sneaky texts and phone calls by various family members to get ETAs from everyone.

The surprise was worth it:

I think we spent 6 hours in a pickup that day (which is terrible when you're recovering from a 70.3) and we got home at midnight.  But it was soooo worth it.

Tuesday I got in a 40 min run on the ranch, just going along the ranch dirt roads and exploring things.  Thankfully, I didn't see a rattlesnake.  Then a trip in a cool old water truck to water the cattle. And then it was a 2 hour backtrack east to my mother-in-law's house in Kimberly for a few days.

Sidenote: I think I averaged about one hamburger a day.  That's the thing about cattle ranchers, there's a ton of ground beef to go around.  It will be a while before I want to eat a burger.  Some days I even had 2.  Oof.

Wednesday I needed to get in a 3 hour bike ride.  At first I was kinda cranky, because the Kimberly trip was a bit last minute. We were hoping to spend the week at the ranch, but when your mother in law asks you to stay for a few days, well.....  Her area is pretty flat and very agricultural.  There's a lot of dairies (Chobani just built a huge factory there, Cliff bars is building a huge bakery).  There's a lot of farms.  And a lot of smells.  There's also a lot of big trucks/equipment that aren't used to looking for cyclists.  After some research, I found out that I could ride from her house south to the South Hills Recreation Area, which is in national forest.  Boom.  I was now excited to ride out there.

The ride was pretty cool.  Lots of cool rock formations.  I surprised a snake who was sunning himself on the concrete in front a pit toilet.  And there was a mild amount of climbing.  Lots of blue skies and extremely friendly but minimal traffic.  And only one dairy, which I swear had me gagging.  Oof.

Basalt cliffs

I was really happy there was a 2nd pit toilet.....

way better than riding along dairies.
I think this seals my mother in law's thinking that I'm certifiable.  I kept hearing for the rest of the week, third party, about how I rode my bike for 45 miles when I stayed with her.  I suppose her other house guests don't really do that.

Staying at her place was actually really nice.  It was quiet, we took a nap, and we went to bed at a normal time.  Thursday I got up a bit early and did an hour run on quiet country roads.  I somehow managed to miss the ONLY turn on my way back and did a little bonus running.  I must have been in the zone, I really have no idea how the hell I missed it.  I came home to be greeted by my husband cooking me breakfast.  YAY.  Then it was off again, 5.5 hours north to New Meadows / McCall for the big wedding.

We got to our amazing cabin rental, which was 5 minutes from another aunt/uncle's ranch (the groom's family), settled in and headed to a beach on Payette Lake for a bbq dinner (featuring you guessed it - more burgers!).  The family brought out their boat and were giving rides on the lake.  So pretty.

Friday I was maybe (?) in the bridal doghouse because they were decorating the reception at 10 AM and I had a 4 hour bike ride.  I chose the bike ride, figuring there was more than enough family to help decorate.  I did some research and ended up riding from Payette Lake up Warren Wagon Road.  This was BEAUTIFUL.  It was also cold - I think it was ~45 degrees out at 8 AM when I started riding.  I started in my short gloves, road 3 minutes and went back to the car to get my long gloves.  Thank goodness they were in the bag I had randomly chucked in the car when we left for the trip.

The ride was really beautiful and I told myself to soak it all in, including the cold.  This ride was a privilege and I'm certain I'll be begging for cooler temps on August 3rd.  I got to see lakes, crystal clear rivers, forested mountains, fresh snow on those mountains, waterfalls, clouds that looked like rain, then rain, a rainbow, and then sleet.  Yep, I got sleeted on at the top.  I had my short Couer shorts on (of all days to wear my short cycling shorts) and I kept looking at the water drops on my legs, which were oddly staying put, and checking them to see if they were frozen.  The drops were still liquid but my feet were soaked and turned into blocks of frozen toes.  My hands weren't much better.  Thank goodness I had a rain jacket.  It was 2 hours up and slow 2 hours down, with lots of stopping to stomp my feet and warm my hands.  When the ride was done, I didn't touch my cold recovery drink but instead booked it to the nearest coffee house for a mexican mocha and a huckleberry muffin.  mmm, I love huckleberries.  I then went back to our rental and warmed up for a bit, then headed over to decorate the reception area just in time to get pizza and to learn that they were done decorating.  Good timing, bridesmaid!
morning on Payette Lake

happy Merlin by the river
bathroom break selfie

I know, its just so ugly here.  

misty mountains

frozen Erin

We then went to the 4 PM wedding rehearsal and then the rehearsal dinner.  Then we invited everyone over to our rental cabin for beers.  I was hoping to utilize our fire pit, but it was raining.  Up until midnight again.

Saturday was the wedding day - we woke up to dense fog in the valley.  It was beautiful.  I was supposed to get in a 30 min run, but our cabin was halfway up a mountain, so there was a whole lot more hiking than running.  I picked a snowmobile trail and made a whole lot of noise in case I came across a bear.

Sidenote #2: I saw ZERO wildlife this whole trip (unless you count cows and antelope).  There were moose and bear signs all over and I saw nothing.  :sad Erin:

The hike was really pretty. The fog was lifting off of the road, exposing the mountain and the valley.  Ahhh.
view of Meadows Valley from the deck of our rental
And then it was time to get our hair done and get the wedding on the road.  I got a fancy updo (reverse braid in the back and curls at the top).  The wedding was fantastic.  I somehow managed not to cry (unlike the rehearsal, where we all cried).  Will and I signed the marriage licence (we are the reason Chase and Deanna met).  We then did a wedding party only (no parents!) photo shoot in a family meadow with Belle.  That was so much fun.  And then the reception, which included PIE.  A family friend made huckleberry apple and I made the catering company save me a slice.  It was delicious.
fancy wedding hair

my adorable 8 month old nephew in his wedding finest

don't we all wish our wedding photos were this amazing?!?!?
I ended up recreating my Boise finish line jump

Sunday was a family brunch.  I blew off my 2 hour bike ride.  And then it was a 5.5 hour ride BACK to Kimberly for the night.  Then a 6 AM departure and an ~11 hour trip back to Denver.

Vacation success  :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Boise Race Report 2014

What is it with this race and me?

In all honesty, I'm being ridiculously hard on myself here and I should just get over it and be happy.  This was my 2nd fastest 70.3.  I did really well on the run.  I did some really good trouble shooting.

But I didn't couldn't race to my potential and I'm crabby about that.  After 2013 being the "Year of PRs" its really hard for me to NOT PR, especially when I'm in even better shape than I was last year.  I know logically that PRs are rare and hard to come by, but I knew that I was capable going into Boise.

So, the race report:

There's nothing like a ton of driving to make for an awesome pre-race set up!

We left Denver at 6 AM on Thursday and arrived in Kimberly, ID around 4:30.  We did NOT get pulled over for driving Greenie and potentially having our 15 gallons of wedding homebrew (for a family wedding the following weekend) confiscated or us being fined in Utah for bringing beer into the state illegally.
Idaho!  With some other tri-dorks stopping to admire the sign.
I went on a 30 min shake out run on country roads.  My mother-in-law was super sweet and prepared a (mostly) gluten free dinner.  She even quizzed me on whether or not dinner rolls fit into my diet:
Do you eat white bread?
No, I don't eat anything that's bread or made with a grain.
hmm, I was going to make dinner rolls as a treat
that's fine, make them for everyone else.  I just won't touch them.
no, I don't eat any bread period.
And then she made "fancy" asparagus with a lemon grenata and covered it in ...  breadcrumbs.  *sigh*  She put a ton of effort into this dish and it was clearly directed at me and my food snobbery so I ate it.

Friday we slept in a bit and left her house at 10 AM for our second destination in the Idaho state tour - the family ranch by Mountain Home.  We got there around noon, unloaded our car, and I went on a 30 min shake-out ride by the ranch.  It was WINDY and I just hoped race day would be a bit kinder.  Also: Merlin does not like going over cattle guards.  Ouch.
on the ranch - one of my happy places on this planet
also: my sweet husband got this shirt for me because it matched my bike

I got done with the ride, my husband picked me up (I had to drive to pavement) and we went to the ranch to say high to people and we were treated with lunch.  Awesome!  Then it was time to head to Boise (1 hr away) and do check in and bike check.

Check-in was nothing exciting.  This year it was in a park instead of the local arena, which was nicer.  The check-in process was the least-enthusiastic I'd ever experienced.  The volunteers were just flat.  I was handed my packet by a guy and just sat there, expecting him to go through it with me and put the bracelet on.  He just stood there, avoiding eye contact, while 2 other volunteers were helping racers.  It was just awkward.

Bike check-in at Lucky Peak was no biggie either.  We stayed focused and were back at the ranch around 5:30.  Then it was feet up time!

Race morning is weird for this race since the race starts at noon.  I got up at 7, ate some FeedZone bacon/egg rice cakes (2.5 servings, probably 500 cals), had some coffee.  At 8:30, we left the ranch with the goal of getting to T2 to drop by bag around 9:30 and catching the bus up to Lucky Peak by 10.  I think everyone had that idea, and they maybe had 2 buses going, which made the line HUGE.  They finally got their act together and pulled all the athletes into one line for buses to ensure we'd make it up there before T1 closed (how nice of them!).  Will was left behind and I just hoped he would make it up there.  I sat with a really nice lady for the ride up.  I got to Lucky Peak around 11 and had ~45 min to get things set up and chit chat a bit.  I found Sonja and chatted to her for a bit.  I was happy to see that she's a friendly (but FAST) racer and was happy to talk for a bit.  (She also killed the race - 5th woman overall, including pros).

Will found me and I left transition and we went to find a shady spot to hang out.  Lucky Peak is very open with no shade to be found.  I saw the ONE 10x10 tent by the swim start and somehow wiggled my way in there.  It was a smart move, as once I wiggled my wetsuit on (which isn't easy to do when you're hot and sweaty!) I was a roasting little penguin.
The good thing about the pavement being so hot was that the 60 degree water felt AWESOME once you got in it.  All the ladies were pretty chill, no major jostling or anything as we swam to the swim start.
proof that I was in the same place at the same time with Speedy Sonja

No count down, no announcements or anything.  Just a horn and a "oh, ok, its GO TIME".  Nice guys. Thanks.

My mission was to keep my head down and find feet.  I think I did an ok time of that.  My head was down and I found feet, but my effort was pretty comfortable.  In other races my effort was comfortable and I had really good swim times, so I wasn't too worried about it.  The water was clean and everyone was playing nice, which was really good.

Then came the first turn buoy.  And it became a bit chaotic.  I remember looking around as I sighted/breathed and seeing more than your average number of water support present and hearing a lot of voices.  That's not really a good thing.  The water was pretty choppy and I was having a hard time figuring out which side to breathe on.  Neither side was a good option and I took in water/air on the back leg and on the way back to the swim finish.  I found some decent feet and just focused on keeping my head down and swimming.  My shoulder also decided to play along and behave, so that was good as well.  My stomach wasn't very happy and I was burping and having an internal debate about puking.  I hate puking more than anything and decided to keep things down.  I heard more voices (this time from the swim announcer) and was happy that was done.  It was not a fun swim.
Swim stats:
Time: 40:03
Pace: 2:04 / 100 m
Age Group: 25 / 72
Overall: 504 / 1295

not my best but not my worst, either.  I'm ok with this, given the chop.  But maybe next time if I feel like I'm cruising, I should step it up a notch.
this is funny now, but I was NOT happy then.
I dropped my cap/goggles not once but TWICE.  The sunscreen I was using made me crazy slippery.  Even my tri shorts were wiggling around on my legs.

I got to my bike and wrestled with my stuff.  I forgot to undo all my velcro.  Shoes were velcro'd closed.  Got to my gloves and crap, THOSE were velcro'd closed.  Idiot.  And then I wrestled into my cool wings, which IMO were mandatory for me to wear but were also a HUGE pain in the ass to put on when you're wet and in a hurry.  This transition felt stupid long - and it was.

Time: 4:31
a bit happier now and trying to give a thumbs up
And it was game time.  I had hills to conquer and something to prove.  The plan was to keep my HR around 150-155 and to go a comfortable fast pace.

I got on the bike, took it easy over the bottle-launching speed bumps and enjoyed the nice ~2 mile descent and tried to get comfy.  There was a hill after that and I enjoyed climbing it, remembering how the hills nearly killed me in 2010.

I was trying to ride/eat/drink but things weren't right.  Sometimes my stomach gets cranky with me but it usually sorts itself out.  This time, it wasn't getting better.  Add injury to insult, my right adductor was also cranky and I had to pee.  Sucky, and I lost nearly 3 minutes doing this.  I stopped at the first aid station, stretched while waiting my turn, peed, and got back to business climbing the big hill.  Going up the hill was good, but not as fun as I was hoping, mainly because I knew this wasn't the day I had in me.  I passed 3 people, which was good.  My HR was around 167, which was ok but a bit high.  But I made it and it didn't kill me.  Yay.

The winds were there, but not ridiculous.  Still, they were there and I needed to stay down.  The good thing about all the climbing I do in training is that it makes me strong.  The bad thing is that I'm up on my hoods most of the time and my neck is not used to being aero for long periods of time.  I need to work on this for IM Boulder - I had a hard time staying down for more than 10 min at a time.  I did the out and back on 10 Mile, which was a headwind/tailwind.  My leg was bothering me again - lame.

I hit the world's worst-located aid station and got a water.  Seriously, this is such a dumb spot and I wish they'd change it.  You have a 90-degree left hand turn right to a fairly steep hill.  And they put the aid station in the middle of the hill.  I only had the dexterity to grab one water bottle and couldn't put it into my speedfill until the top of the hill (because I need to coast a bit to get this done).  I really needed 2 water bottles but that wasn't going to happen. And I had to dump my bottle after the last drop spot, which I hate, but the other option was getting off my bike.  The dumb part is that there's a very nice flat section at the top of the hill (maybe 1,000 feet after the aid station).  I have no idea why they do this to us athletes - it sucks.

Also by the time I hit this aid station, I was nearly 2 hours into my race and was STILL having digestive issues.  Every time I tried to drink my Osmo my stomach immediately responded with angry sensations.  Every time I tried to eat, same thing.  Being in aero didn't feel good.  And the pain was starting to move from my stomach to my intestines, telling me I had likely swallowed air as well as water.

I made the executive decision to ditch both the Osmo and my salty balls as nutrition.  Sure, they were my plan, but I wasn't eating or drinking these things and sticking with the plan was not working.  I chucked my salty balls (I only ate 2 (maybe) - I should have had 4).  I got my Honey Stinger chews out of my pockets and filled my speedfill with only water, hoping that a change would do me some good.

A bit after the aid station, my leg was continuing to be cranky so I stopped again to stretch - and lost probably another 1:30.  But by that point it was just a game of getting the bike done without causing damage to myself in the future.  I was a pretty sad panda, with thoughts of "triathlon is dumb" and "shit, I have to do double this in 8 weeks".

By this point, the hills were pretty much done and the water was going down cleanly.  I was a bit worried about my total calories though.  I only had 3 packs of chews - and only one of them was non-caffeine.  I was really worried the caffeine chews would make my stomach worse so I ate the other ones, all 160 calories of them and had ~2 or 4 of the caffeine ones.  The pains in my gut were turning into gas, but that issue was resolving itself as I rode, which confirms that I swallowed a bunch of air.  Really disappointing, as I've NEVER done that before and I'm usually really good with that sort of stuff.

The rest of the ride was just windy and I just tried to stay hydrated and eat what I could without freaking my stomach out.  I had wind to contend with and not wanting to stay aero.  And I was a bit loopy, from lack of calories.  There was one part on Warm Springs where there was a nice strip of new asphalt on the left and I causally drifted over there, looking for easier spots to ride.  I heard a loud "LEFT" as someone came up behind me and yelled at me (legitimately) to get out of their way.  They passed and I realized it was my cousin Jeff.  Ha!  I also was zoned out and too close to someone - I had an official zip up next to me on his motorcycle and that woke me up enough to get some muscle and actually pass the guy.  The last thing I needed was a drafting penalty on top of everything else.

As usual, the last 10 miles of "nice easy downhill to the finish" was solid headwind and it became a mental game to just keep pedalling and to stay down.  And to try and eat a few more chews.

Finally T2 appeared and I got off my bike.  Very disappointing ride, but on the good side, my stomach was actually doing a bit better.

Time: 03:35:09
Pace: 15.62 mph
Age Group: 42 / 72
Overall: 937 / 1295
*new stat* average HR - a whopping 149.  Umm... yeah.  

This also seemed to take forever, probably because I didn't have many brain cells functioning.  I figured I had maybe 600 (more like 500) calories total on the bike. I should have had more like 900-1,050.  Fun!

Also not fun: leaving your hand-held water bottle on black asphalt to sit and bake all afternoon as you swim and bike.  That damn thing was BOILING.

What was actually fun: running up to my husband and giving him a kiss.  Normally I'm in "serious race mode" and wouldn't take time to do that.  Today, I figured my PR was shot and I owed him a kiss for his sherpa duties.

  1. Time: 3:13

aka: lets see if I can redeem myself somehow in this race
aaka: you can actually run kinda fast when you don't really use your legs on the bike

So I came off of the bike with some pretty negative thoughts.  I decided to turn my head around and try to PR the run.  Or at least give it a good go until I bonked.

I had a few minor mishaps.
  1. my boiling water bottle and no ice at the first aid station to cool it down.
  2. neglecting to start my garmin when I started the run.  I *thought* I did but didn't realize it wasn't going for 0.25 miles.  So that made things interesting in terms of locating aid stations and mile markers
  3. my HR strap inexplicably came undone and was hanging around my waist at the same level as my race belt.  There's no other way to fix it other than stop, put your stuff down, lift your top up and fix it.  So weird!
Once I got that out of the way, I just ran by feel.  I didn't give a whole lot of thought to heart rate other than to keep things sustainable, but I didn't slow things down if my pace was too fast either.  And I played some head games.  I normally walk at each mile marker to eat ~2-3 chews and drink a bit.  I did that.  But then the aid stations were a good ~1/3 mile after each mile marker, where I took the opportunity to get ice and dump it down my sleeves.  That was too much walking but my addled brain couldn't figure things out early on.

Finally maybe around mile 3 or 4 I realized I wouldn't die if I didn't eat RIGHT at the mile marker and told myself I could wait 3-4 more minutes and eat at the aid station.  I didn't consistently do this, but I did it enough where it really helped.  My splits were decreasing in pace and I felt pretty good.

Run 1
2.4 miles
Run 2
5.7 miles
Run 3
8.6 miles
Run 4
11.7 miles
Run 5
13.1 miles

That's pretty solid!

The run course for Boise is actually really, really good.  Its pretty flat, goes along the river, and is shady.  And there's stuff to look at!  The "out" is a slight uphill and the "back" is on the other side of the river and is a slight "downhill".  There's a bunch of people out and some good opportunities for Sherpa's to catch you a few times to cheer.  I actually really love the run course and that's the main reason why I keep coming back to this race.

blowing my Sherpa a kiss halfway through the run

Around mile 8 I decided to take a hit of coke and that was a bad mistake.  Usually coke is fine but this was an instant rebellion.  At the far end of the run you go through a golf course and there was a bathroom right off the path.  I seriously debated using it but didn't, thinking I could tough it out.  I did, but I spent a good portion of the last 5 miles debating on finding a bush, or just jumping in the river and floating to the finish ("no one would notice!")

Around mile 10 I just ran out of gas.  The lack of calories finally hit me.  I had some muscle cramping and just needed to do more walking than preferred to get things done.  I wasn't sloppy bonky - but I was verging on it.  So I just kept moving forward, trying to talk myself into running a few minutes and then "look, the aid station is only another 4 minutes away, you can do it".  That seemed to mostly work.

And then the finish line came and I magically got some energy.  I always somehow awkwardly get behind people who are strolling through the chute, soaking up high fives and stuff.  I don't want to share my finish line photo with them but I don't want to slow down and hang out either.  So I zipped past the guys and got a wild hair and decided to try a Sonja-style jump.  I did pretty good.

I stuck the finish

Finish line video - I'm the bottom video, around ~57 minutes in (finish line clock around 7:12)

Time: 02:26:43
Pace: 11:11/mile
Age Group: 45 / 72  I only dropped 3 position on the run
Overall: 911 / 1295   I actually gained position on the run overall!  Yay!

Total time: 6:49:69

Closing Thoughts
I'm not really sure what I could have done differently to not have taken in so much water/air on the swim, but its something I'm definitely going to think about while swimming from this point forward.

What I'm happy with is my troubleshooting while riding.  I identified the problem and was flexible enough to pitch my planned nutrition (which was causing issues) and moving to a backup (which worked).

I'm also pretty pleased with my run - to have sub-11 splits and to descend them until I bonked is pretty good.

I'm not sure I'll go back and do Boise again.  This was my 3rd go at it and none of them have been great.  I do this race because its close to family and Will has someone to keep him company while I race (usually - although this year everyone was kinda shitty and didn't hang out with him.  In fact, they went for BBQ when I was finishing the run.  Not really cool).  

What I need to work on is mentally being ok with an average performance.  I had high hopes for this race and am really beating myself up over having the 2nd fastest 70.3 time instead of a PR.  

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Race Week!

Its here!  Race Week!

I am feeling goooooood too.

Boise and I have a history, and not a great one.  I'm hoping that Saturday will change that.  (oh please, I hope I didn't jinx myself).

In 2010, Boise was my 2nd ever 70.3.  I was terrified.  Really. There were hills on the course and I lived in Houston, where there were zero hills hills.  I'd drive 70 miles NW of town to ride in Chappell Hill, which only had hills 150 feet tall.  I'd have nightmares (really!) about having to walk my bike up the hills during the race.  It was also the coldest water I'd raced in (~55ish degrees).  And hello!  This was only my second 70.3 - only 7 weeks after my 1st 70.3.

Race day arrived.  The swim was good - I was fine with the cold water and I was happy it was semi-clear and not swampy.  The bike was the hardest thing I'd ever done.  We had 28-35 mph head and cross winds the ENTIRE race.  I had a 4:04 bike split and came into T2 exhausted and a bit defeated.  Full disclosure: I actually did fall off my bike and have to walk up a hill.  They put aid station #2 right after a 90-deg left hand turn and part way up a hill.  I didn't have the balance to get a water and ride up the hill, so I stopped and got one.  My cousin (Jeff) caught me at that point and stopped too.  We got going again, I couldn't get my pedal turned over quick enough to clip in and I tipped over, right at the aid station.  I was too flustered to try it again so I walked up the dumb hill.  Jeff came into T2 and told the whole family that I fell over and was bleeding.......  

The run that day was my proud moment.  Even with the hard bike, I ran the whole thing.  Sure, it was more of a shuffle-run, but it was not walking!

Total time: 7:32
I was 63 out of 70 in my age group.  
It was absolutely the hardest thing I've ever done.

2012 was supposed to be a redemption year.  I was now an Ironman (IMTX 2011), I'd moved back to Colorado and was riding hills.  I could totally do this race without being scared!  My goal for 2012 was to crush the race.  Instead, I broke my heel a few weeks before the race and couldn't run.

Undeterred, I switched my entry to a relay and found a random guy who had registered but had a shoulder injury and couldn't swim, so he became my runner.  Sweet.  I was going to crush that bike course.

Race day came and it was snowing on the back side of the bike course.  Thirty minutes before transition closed they announced they were cutting the bike down to 14 miles, basically the distance from T1 to T2.  And it was sleeting at the swim start.  I was frozen, borderline hypothermic, and decided this was Mother Nature's way of telling me I really didn't need to race with a broken heel.  So I handed my chip in and watched Matty Reed hop on his bike while wearing his wetsuit.

So, 2014 is now redemption year!  (knocking on wood!)

this year I am:
healthy (except for a few minor niggles which are MUCH better)
not remotely scared  
super excited

In the past 2 months, I've been up Deer Creek / High Grade 3 times and did that Ski Hill ride in Santa Fe in April.  That's ~3000 feet of climbing in 13.5 miles.  The total elevation gain on the Boise course is ~1,300 feet.  I do that in 2 hours on my little ride around town.  There's only 4 main hills to worry about, each with 200-300 feet gain and ~1.5 miles to get up the hill.  I was in the airport last year for IMCDA transferring to Spokane and I saw the big hill that scared me so much in 2010 and remarked to my husband that "I eat hills for breakfast".  I cannot tell you how good of a feeling it is to be excited about hills instead of terrified by them.

Cold water doesn't scare me either because that's pretty much all I swim in now.

And I know I can run, faster than I've ever run before. And that I can run fast in a 70.3.

I know I can put myself in a hurting, dark place and do well.  Last year taught me to be brave, be open, and to try.  Rewards are out there, but I have to chase after them.

This year, I'm excited to really chase those rewards and redemption down.  I'm hoping to be at least an hour faster than 2010.  The whole family comes out to cheer and I'm so excited to have them see me at my best rather than what they saw on my previous attempts at this race.  Also: Uncle Nick will be able to get his margarita sooner, which means everyone wins :)

The race is Saturday at NOON and I'm bib # 634.


Monday, June 02, 2014

May 2014 Training Totals

So another month and another "hmm, I thought I would have done more" feeling.  However, I did have a race (which involved a taper and some recovery) and I had 2 long rides in my basement due to weather (snow and hail).  So really, I had some pretty solid training.  I'm sure June and July are going to be killer, though.

May 2014
Swim: 13h 35m 58s - 37092.18 Yd
Bike: 22h 10m 13s - 297.42 M
Run: 14h 11m 42s - 76.69 M
Yoga: 30 min

April 2014
Swim: 12h 30m - 31878.83 Yd
Bike: 26h 55m 25s - 370.03 Mi
Run: 13h 33m 19s - 68.77 Mi
Strength: 30 min
Hiking: 1 h 15 m