Monday, July 27, 2009

Chisago -- awesome swim; okay bike and then.....

Chisago 1/2 Iron was yesterday....there are some good things to report and some, well, not so good things:

First: everyone in my posse of friends who signed up for the event finished. That is good news! For Gary, Marc, Dave, and Joe it marked their first 1/2 iron distance event. I saw them all at one point or another along the course and, although they wouldn't agree, I thought they all looked strong and magnificent.

Marcia, Mary and Cheryl did the course as a relay team. They rocked the house. Again, I saw them all out there on the course and they all looked great.

Nat -- ah, Nat. She and I started the event in the same wave. Once the gun went off, so did she and I didn't see her again until I passed the finish line. By then, she had already had a snack, rested and PICKED UP HER TROPHY. Yes, that is right: she placed 3rd in our division. She PRed by over 35 minutes. GO NAT!

Other highlights: seeing Steve Stenzel, who was racing, along with his CVA Tri team...finally getting to meet his lovely bride, Pharmie...even if it was a "meet and great" as she was running back in on the 1/2 marathon course and I was walking out. (Yes -- walking. More about that later...)

So -- where does that leave moi? Well, here we go:

I actually had a very good swim. I came in at 43:26, which was almost 6 minutes faster than I did at Pigman last year. I felt totally comfortable in the water, just did my thing and enjoyed the swim. What a big difference from years past where the water freaked me out totally.

My T1 time was also better than Pigman -- about 2 1/2 minutes better. Zip in, zip out.

Bike -- okay, so the new bike is great and all, but for what ever reason, the position of the saddle did nothing but bug me for 40 miles.

When I bought the bike, I didn't have my bike shoes with me and, Bob -- the really wonderful guy at Now Sports, told me to bring the bike and shoes in before the race so I could get the saddle readjusted.

Did I listen? No. I thought "how much different could the positioning be"? Well, apparently it could be a LOT different.

The bike seat hit my seat in a very uncomfortable way -- especially where my left sitbone connected with it. I squirmed a lot trying to find some comfortable spot, but really couldn't get in to a comfortable position. I tried to overcompensate my position, which impacted my lower back and neck, and, well -- you get the picture.

The course is pretty flat, with a couple of exceptions The first exception is at mile 40, where there is a short, but steep incline. I started going up the hill and shifted down, but couldn't get my gear to drop from the big ring to the little ring. I lost my mo-jo, cadence and speed and had to get off the bike to walk it up the hill.

That is when the friendly bike support guy showed up. He pulled over and helped adjust my gears so they would slip easier. (Apparently they were a little too tight). I asked him if he could adjust my saddle and, voila! He did and the ride got a whole lot better.

I came in over 6 minutes faster than Pigman.

But, when I got in to T2, I was spent. I was fully convinced I was not going to do the run. At all. I was going to DNF and I was really okay with it.

Mary and Marcia were in T2 and when I told them I was done, they said "What? Huh?".

I had to give it a minute or two to work myself through the idea of at least getting out on to the run route. The only way I could do it was to say "I can turn back at any time".

So, I got on my shoes and walked out of T2. (Even with all of this, my T2 time was 45 seconds faster than Pigman).

So -- dear Reader, you must be saying: All of these great times! Much better than Pigman! She must have PRd!

Ah, not so much.

I walked out of T2 and pretty much walked the entire 1/2 marathon. I could not get it together to run much more than a minute or two at a time with very long stretches of time where I just walked.

I had a mental cut off point for dropping out. If I got to Mile 4, there was no turning back. (Logic: If you get to 4 out, you have to come 4 back, and that is 8, which is more than half the total distance...)

Let me tell you, I had plenty of conversations with myself at Mile 1; Mile 2 and Mile 3. But I kept my head down and my feet moving forward.

I got to 4 and figured I was in for the long haul. Fortunately, there were lots of people walking on the course. The big difference is that they were walking IN. I was still on my way OUT.

I just could not muster the will to run much at all. Walking felt okay, but running did not.

I had another dark spot between mile 6 and 7. The part of the course is a one mile loop around a residential area. I was the only person out on the course -- I thought: I'm done. I'm getting to mile 7 and I'm dropping.

I got to the water stop and asked the friendly volunteers "Am I last"?

"No".

"Really -- drat! Can't quit if I'm not last..."

Then I asked "What would happen if I wanted to drop? Would I have to walk back or would I get a ride"?

The head volunteer said she didn't know and proceeded to make a call to the Race Director.

The Race Director didn't pick up the phone, which I took as a sign and pressed on.

Marcia and Mary, who had parked themselves near the water stop at mile 5/10, were STILL there when I got back to 10....They had their own marathon, just sitting there waiting for me.

Marci volunteered to go to the finish line and to then walk back to meet me to walk me in -- a very kind, motivating gesture.

So, I trudged on until she found me and some how I got to the finish.

Here is the interesting part: All in all, my finish was less than 10 minutes slower than Pigman, so...not really as dreadful as I thought.

And, even though I was S L O W walking those 13.1 miles, there were actually people that covered the distance taking more time than I did. (They just happened to smoke me on the bike....)

I'm glad I toughed it out. I'm fine with finishing the way I did. I'm grateful for friends who stuck with me till the end and I can't wait to do it again NEXT YEAR -- although I'll probably need to do a few more bike-to-run bricks, you think?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

One week to go: Chisago

Chisago 1/2 Iron is next week Sunday.

Am I ready?

No.

But...it will be what it will be.

What will be fun about the event:

A bunch of friends are doing the 1/2 event too: Nat, Gary, Marc T and Dave H. (It will be the first 1/2 event for the boys).

A team of friends partnered to do the 1/2 as a relay: Marcia will swim; Mary K will bike and Cheryl will run.

It is always nice to have a posse of people all doing the same event. You can cheer each other on or commiserate or fret or even congratulate.

It will be fun to have so many familiar faces in the transition area and out on the course with me.

What will not be so fun about the event:


As evident by my complaints in this blog, this has not been my year of dedicated training. Sure, I've biked; I've swam and I've run, but I really didn't put in the total time I should have for the races I'm doing.

So, I'm expecting a bit of a painful race.

It will be what it will be.

--
Last week, I was in Charlotte delivering a week's worth of training. I had hoped to get in a lot of uninterrupted workout time, but got laid up with a nasty head cold. So instead of killing myself with workouts, I babied my self with sleep.

I did do some training while I was out there and then wrapped up the week with a really great long run yesterday and a 3-hour bike ride today.

So -- it will be what it will be.

---

The ride today was a sponsored ride hosted by my tri club. Riders could go up to 100 miles -- Nat, Mary, Mark, Dave and I only went out for about 3 hours.

It was a good ride, but Marc ended up with 3 flats and Nat had one. Marc's tires are very old -- so he had the same tire pop three separate times. Nat has "sensitive" tires, and popped her tube while riding over some fine gravel.

At least they both figured it out today and could take care of the problem. Next week, flats during the race would be a big drag.

---

After the bike clinic, I met Kathy T (Marc's wife) and Sarah at Lake Harriet. We all went to a Women's Sailing Clinic. I shared a boat with Sarah. Cynthia, our skipper, was a really great instructor and, even though we had very little wind, we had a great time.

--
After the clinic, Hubby and I grilled steaks and veggies and were able to enjoy delicious food and a beautiful evening.


It was a very full weekend and a great way to move in to taper week.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

LTF finished: the "short" RR

Today, Lifetime Tri went much, much better than Rochester Tri did two weeks ago.

It really, really, really helped that the wind today was only about a quarter of what we had in Rochester. I was able to sustain 17.1 mph on the bike, as opposed to the paltry 12.7 I did battling 20+ mile headwinds in Rochester.


My swim time was much better than last year (go me).


My run was slightly slower than last year but significantly better than Rochester.


All in all, I'm happy, considering the extra lbs I'm carrying (and didn't really "see" until Hubby took all the photos below. YIKES! ) and the mediocre training I've been doing.

Came in first for my age group/Athena category again. (This ain't no big thing, since usually there are only one to three people in my category). This year, I was in it alone. Still nice to see "1" after my name.


Of all Athena's, I was solidly in the middle of the pack. I feel okay about this, since I was the oldest of the bunch.


THANKS to Nat, who volunteered as a body marker (and got to the course at 4:15 am); Hubby for being there to cheer me on; Mary and Marcia for coming down to watch and who helped keep me going.


Next up: Chisago 1/2 iron. Oh boy.












Friday, July 10, 2009

Lifetime Fitness Tri: Tomorrow. YIKES.

By this time tomorrow (10;25 am, central), I should be wrapping up the bike portion of the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon, Oly distance.

Should be is, of course, the plan/hope.

Reality could be different. V E R Y different.

I'm not racing as well this year as I was last year. (Stubborn pounds that won't go away and mediocre training add up to lousier finish times...).

BUT I am out there and having fun, which counts for A LOT.

I'll break in the new bike tomorrow too.

I've ridden it a number of times already and really like it. It will be fun to race in it and not have to worry about things like:

  • stop signs
  • idiot pedestrians that walk on to bike paths without looking
  • little kids that ALWAYS turn to look when you call out "On your Left", which causes them to steer LEFT

The weather is supposed to cooperate -- high in the low 80s. If this holds, it will be the first LTF tri I've done where it wasn't the hottest day of the summer.

The bottom line for now is I'm excited, nervous and dreading the event all at once.

I'll be getting over to the Expo in a few hours and then on my way home to get my bag ready, carbo load and to "sleep".

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Catching up...

A few minutes to catch up on "stuff":

Rochester Tri, June 28th: Second time participating in the Olympic distance event for me and my friend Nat. The day was hot and very, very windy.

The swim was good, but when I got out of the water, a course marshall asked me if I had rounded all the buoys.

"Huh?"

Then she pointed to one I may have missed. (I am unclear, as my head was under the water for about half the swim).

I told her I thought I had hit all the buoys, but if I hadn't, why didn't one of the happy kayakers come over to me. (I DID see a kayaker -- actually several of them -- as I was swimming along. Not one of them paddled over to me to tell me I had missed a buoy).

The "I think you missed a buoy" news threw me off my game a bit. And I got a little pissy about it.

Then I got on the bike. Did I mention it was windy? So windy in fact, I almost pulled off the bike course... About eight times.

I had problems with my chain falling off, HUGE winds (20+ mph plus gusts), gears grinding and just not feeling "safe" on the bike.

I spent a lot of time using very bad language while trying to not tip over going up hills or blow over going down hills.

I struggled through the bike and then went out on the run. I really was not having any of it that day. I just did the best I could, which was not very good.

Ended up posting my slowest tri time ever.

Nat kicked some butt out there, fighting the wind BUT I think we were both glad it was over when it was over. She finished third in our division, but the race director screwed up and gave her award to someone else..... grrrr.

Then I had another really rotten thing happen. I either lost (dropped some where in transition) or WORSE someone stole my digital camera.

Okay, I'll admit: I was an idiot for carrying it with me in the first place. (I usually have Hubby take photos and hold on to the camera, but he wasn't with us). The camera isn't a great camera but the memory card had hundreds and hundreds of photos on it.

Irreplacable photos. Europe; my birthday; Hubby's birthday; the holidays; friends; events.

And NO, I did not download all of the photos prior to the event. (So I'm an idiot again).

I want to believe that I dropped the camera, but: I placed a Lost and Found ad in the Rochester paper. No call. I emailed the race director. No response. I called the park where the tri was held, no camera. Hubby and I even drove back to Rochester to scour the transition area, the parking lot and the roadside going from transition to parking. Nothing...

I also think if someone found the camera, they could have looked at the very last picture, which was of me and Nat showing off our body-marked arms. The could have IDed me (by looking at other photos), then looked at the race results to find my name and then did a google search.

Seems like a lot of work you say? HA! I would have done it if I had found the camera. It's the right thing to do.

Again, the camera is one thing. Keep it, I say. Return the memory card. It is useless to any one but the memory holder....

I don't want to believe that a fellow triathlete would steal the camera...that is just lower than low, in my opinion.

But...lessons learned. 1) don't bring a camera in to transition. 2) download all your photos as soon as you can, not "tomorrow".

---

Last item on catching up. After my poor performance on the bike, I finally broke down and bought a road bike. I got a Jamis.

I'm hoping it will help me "catch up" on my bike times. I'll find out this Saturday, when I participate in Lifetime Fitness triathlon.