Friday, June 25, 2010

112 miles + 2 for extra credit

Yesterday was my first ride of over 100 miles -- all at once -- ever.

Chisago Triathlon hosts several preview rides of their 1/2 iron (56 miles) and sprint bike courses, including a ride held yesterday.

If you are ever doing an event that offers a course preview, take advantage of it. Seeing any course before you actually swim/bike/run/golf or what ever on it is very very helpful. You'll know where the tough parts are, the easy parts and you'll get familiar with locations of hazards (like potholes).

Natalie and my coach wanted us to ride the course twice for 112 miles. The first 56 would be supported by the preview; the second loop would be on our own.

Our good friend Gary, who is also doing the 1/2 iron with us, came to the preview too. One other running friend of ours, Patrick, who is also training for Ironman Wisconsin was there, along with a about 40 or so other riders.

Nat, Gary and I all did Chisago 1/2 iron last year. We thought we were familiar with the course. As I remembered it, it wasn't a terrible course... some really nice, long flat stretches with only a couple of "uh oh" hills.

What I didn't remember is that last year, apparently, the course was altered because of road work....

We were in for a little "schoolin'" about this year's course.

Starts out innocently enough, but then there are some kick ass hills. I will admit that a couple of the hills are really nice DOWN hills, but then you pay for it on the way back up.

At one point, we make a turn on to a stretch of road that looks innocent enough, but is really a slow, sly incline that takes you to some more kick ass hills. The incline is very deceiving. I was pedaling, pedaling, pedaling and going 12 or 13 mph.

What? How can this be? Oh yeah. I suck at hills.

Natalie, who flies like the wind on the bike, was way up ahead of me. At one point, I stopped to take off my jacket and Gary caught up with me. We rode mostly together for the rest of the ride. It was nice to have the company and to have some time to catch up.

We pulled in to transition after loop one and Natalie was there...waiting patiently...The photo at the top of the page is of the three of us after completing the first loop.

We took a bit of time to refill water bottles (using Nunn), go to the portapotty, stretch, take a couple pics, put on some sun screen and to do other general stuff to prolong going out on the second loop.

Then it was just Natalie and me.

By this time, the sun had broken through the clouds, the temps came up and so did the humidity. But, surprisingly, the ride was not too uncomfortable and we were making pretty good time.

Natalie decided to pull her pace back to stick with me. (I think she did it to make sure I wouldn't turn around early... :-) ) We were doing pretty well and feeling pretty good.

At one point, we were out in the middle of nowhere and Natalie was a little bit ahead of me. I saw her slow down. I looked to the left and saw two big dogs running toward her. I was wondering where those two dogs came from when I realized they were deer! Two fawns were crossing the road. One stopped right in front of Natalie and one came bounding toward me. It stopped, stared and then bounded off in to the high grass on my right. I always like seeing deer -- although I was glad that they leaped out of the grass in front of us while we had some time to react. It would not be good to hit one.

I think my nutrition was good: I had some Infinit, water with Nunn, gels and a couple Uncrustables. I just didn't bring enough stuff. I ran out of pretty much every thing about half way through loop two. Natalie also ran out of liquids about the same time.

We were still okay until mile 90. This was just past the horrible hills and only 22 miles to go. By now, we were both thirsty with no gas station or QwikE Mart on the course.

So, naturally, those last 22 miles just dragged. And dragged. And dragged.

At the point my odometer read 110.00 miles, I knew I was more than 2 miles to the transition area. I had forgotten that, earlier, we had taken a wrong turn, so I'd be riding more than 112 miles. That was a little discouraging, but... what could I do...

My pace went back to turtle pace, so Natalie went a head of me. As I turned back in to the city for the last 1.5 miles, I rode up to a motel. I got off my bike, went in to the lobby and filled my water bottle with ice and bought a well needed and appreciated water. It tasted heavenly.

Finally I hit the last turn back in to the park, which takes you under the tunnel, which takes you back to transition.

HURRAH! I survived! We survived! We did it! Awesome!

We walked -- very slowly -- to the beach and got in to the cool water to soak our legs. The water felt great and really helped to start recovery.

The good news: we did it. We got through it. The course was hilly, which should help prepare for Ironman Wisconsin.

The bad news for me: it took me a very, very long time. Now, I did putz around a lot in-between loops and I did stop on the course quite a bit to stretch. Not so sure that I'll do this during Ironman. Still, my pace, especially on those hills, was not stellar and could put me in "not making the cut-off" danger.

Good thing we still have 12-weeks of training left. I see me doing lots of bike work, hill work and brick work between now and September 12th.

In other news:

I accomplished a great psychological challenge by completing a one-mile Open Water Swim in Lake Harriet sponsored by USMasters Swimming.

Why was this such a big deal?

US Masters does not allow wetsuits -- or "help". Meaning all my swimming comforts were left at shore.

I love the wetsuit because it adds buoyancy and eliminates my fear of drowning and sinking like a stone.

I like "help" (meaning being able to hold on to a kayak or a buoy) when the crowd gets too thick or I panic or I just need a little "break".

There was also a pesky cut off (45 minutes) which I was a little worried about.

But I got in to the water, along with friends Angel and Carla, and swam away.

Swimming out to the first buoy wasn't too bad. The water was fairly calm and I kept up with other swimmers.

The turn around to go across the lake was where the rubber met the road. There was a lot of wind over the water, so the lake was very choppy.

When I came up to breathe, I got a mouth full of water. If I lifted my head up straight to site, I got a mouth full of water. Although I never felt unsafe, I did start to really understand how someone who can swim can drown.

Fortunately, a kayaker was never too far away from me, so I thought if I went under, he'd be able to get to me pretty quickly.

I kept trying to swim forward, but progress was slow. I finally started to side stroke, so I could at least see some movement. This took me off course (naturally), so I just flipped back to the crawl and I literally crawled my way to the buoy.

I finally hit the turn back buoy and I just swam to shore.

I got out in 39 minutes and some change (before the cut off!) but was last of the field. I did not care one bit. I got through a tough swim without my "comforts", which was a huge victory for me.

Twelve weeks to go! Lots of fun training stuff coming up. I can only get stronger and faster. Right?

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Postscript: a few hours after I posted this, I received a very nice message from the person who uploaded results from the Tri...He apologized profusely for not having the times for the last four finished and did, in fact, enter our times on to the log.

I ended up at 7:32:33, which, while was still 3rd from last, was a 7:38 minute PR for me....I can now stop thinking of the DNF as a IM WI omen...

Liberty 1/2 iron was yesterday.

I'm really bummed because I'm listed as DNF in the stats, which is not true. I finished in about 7:31 and some seconds -- approximately 4th from LAST of all finishers. The problem is that it looks like the organizers turned off the timing mats before everyone crossed the finish line.

The rules of the race only listed one cut off. Everyone had to be off the bike course by 12:30 pm. If you weren't you were not able to go on the run course.

I made the bike cut off and finished the course. I'm ticked that I'm listed as DNF.

My biggest problems with being listed as DNF? 1) It isn't true. I completed every inch of those 70.3 miles. 2) I DID pr, but only by about 7 minutes and some odd seconds. 3) My ego is bruised, if the truth must be told.

The day was cold, gray and rainy. Our normal high temp for this time of year is about 79 degrees. Yesterday, when we got in the water, the air temp was 61 degrees; the water temp 68...Neither got much warmer as the day went along.

I felt "okay" about the race. Not worried about the distances, having covered all of them separately. The "stitching them together" in one event had a me a little concerned, but I thought I'd be fine.

My swim took me much longer than I thought it would. When I first got in and started swimming, my breathing was off. I'd breathe in and as I put my face back in the water, I was continuing to breathe in. Swallowed a bit of water a couple of times, so I thought I'd just hang out at a couple of buoys to calm down a bit. That seemed to do the trick.

I got to the turn around in about 23 minutes, which I was not happy with, but could live with. I swam back and was thinking that I was doing a better job: no stopping, just doing my thing. Got out of the water in 50 and some change. So it took me much longer on the way back.

Bike: I had previewed the bike course a couple of times. It's a two loop course that is very pretty with some rolling hills and some doozy hills. I rode the first loop pretty well and then started the second loop.

I did not see another person for miles and miles and miles. I thought I was the last one on the bike course and was worried. I checked my watch: still plenty of time before the cut off and I knew that that was not going to be my issue.

I finally got passed (by a 61 year old man, by the by) with about 14 miles to go to the end. By then, the wind had picked up and a weather front was moving in. With 11 miles to go, the rain started.

I like to run in the run if the temps are nice. It can be very refreshing. Yesterday, it was cold, so it was just a cold rain, which is not-so-nice. I also had some concerns about wiping out, so my pace dropped back and I was getting tired.

With about 8 miles to go, I finally found some other bikers. Hurrah. I was not last on the bike course. I was pretty soaked and my left hand had fallen asleep. I think my watch band hits against my aerobar putting pressure on a nerve. By the time I pulled in to transition, it was not really moving much.

Another reason DNF ticks me off? As I was coming in on the bike, I had given serious consideration to pulling out of the race. I was cold; there was no sign that the rain was going to let up; my hand was asleep, and I just thought "screw it".

But, when I got back in to transition, I got my shoes on, grabbed my stuff and went out on to the course.

The out-and-back run course meandered through Baker Park and was really beautiful -- even with the rain. There were water stops about every mile -- volunteers were great and mentally, this helped me keep going.

I did a walk run thing: first it was 3/1; then it was 4/1; then it was about a 1/2 mile, then it was "To that big tree" or "To the aid station". I did what ever I could to keep moving forward.

I FINALLY passed a 32-year old guy. Then I passed another guy (in his 40s). I also passed a woman still on her way out on the 1/2 marathon course. She had her right leg all taped up and was being followed by the sag-cart, but she was moving forward with a smile on her face.

By the time I crossed the finish line, the finish clock was down, but the announcer was there and he called out my name as I crossed the line. I looked at my watch, which read 7:31 something and I was done. I got my medal and wobbled to the car where Nat was waiting.

SHE finished the race IN UNDER 6 HOURS! A HUGE PR for her! She has been just rocking it this year and it shows. GOOD FOR HER!

Steve Stenzel had a great race -- first in his AG; Pharmie also had a great finish. Other "non-bloggy" friends finished well too.

Hurray for them!


On the positive side, my nutrition went well. I drank Accelerade Hydo with Carbo Pro; had some Gus; ate some gold fish on the run and did not feel bad nutritionally.

On the very bad side, I am now very, very worried about my Ironman dream. I know I still have time to get ready (14 weeks to be exact), but I am feeling very scared about it.

I'm going to have to figure a way to shake off this doubt...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Give me (a) Liberty (pr) or give me....

Saturday is my first 1/2 iron distance event of the summer: Liberty Triathlon.

It is funny how your mind works when you are knee-deep in to training for an Ironman. Two years ago, I was getting ready to do my very first 1/2 iron distance tri. The 1.2 mile swim/ 56 mile bike/ 13.1 run seemed like such a loooonnnnnng distance. I was unsure I could finish the event.

Now, two years (and one-and-a-third* other 1/2 distance tris later), the distance doesn't scare me so much.

*the "third" comes from competing in a 1/2 iron distance tri as part of a relay team...

I've previewed the bike course a couple of times, so I know where to expect rough road and/or hills. I've covered the distance in the pool and have been in open water, so.. that part won't be so bad. I've completed an official 1/2 marathon and a 15-mile race, so I know I can cover the distance.

The trick will be to stitch all three together and complete the race in a "decent" time.

What does that mean?

I'd like to PR.

There. I said it.

I want to finish in a reasonable (for me) time.

Do I think I can do it?


Depends on lots of external factors (wind; choppy water; rain) but the biggest "maybe" that typically gets in my way is my head.

I still struggle with thinking/believing/trusting that I can actually "do this". Push my self. Just a little....

I have got to get over this personal block.

"NC" should be able to help me with this. He's been my coach for less than a week and he's already pushed my training and challenged my internal beliefs. (We've already had our first fight, when I refused to do lunges. This is actually pretty good!). I think he is going to be very, very good for me and my training.

In the mean time, I'll continue to spend time pouring over my 1/2 iron distance stats to try to figure out where I can shave some time on Saturday.

I'll also be praying to the Weather and Wave Gods for calm weather and smooth seas.

Oh! I'll also carbo-load!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

PRs and Divorce

First the good news:

Buffalo Triathlon was today.

I have not done this race since 2005, which was the first year I participated in triathlon. The event is always scheduled for the first Sunday in June, which is also the same weekend for the Edina Art Fair.

Hubby is a part-time photographer and has been a selected artist of the art fair ever since 2006. We typically have spent this weekend manning the booth at the fair making Buffalo an "event of the past" for me.

Not this year. Hubby decided to take a break from the art fair so I had the chance to register for the sprint distance event. My goal was to do better -- MUCH better-- than I did in 2005.

Well, yippee-eye-yeah-cai-yo, I achieved my goal.

I beat my 2005 time by almost 21-minutes (20:56 to be exact). Best of all, I placed 4th out of 11 in my age group. I am estatic (if I do say so myself).

I had a great swim, a pretty good bike ride and a pretty good run (even with waiting in line for the portapotty...).

Three other friends (Nat, Marcia and Sara) also did the sprint distance course today. We all had great races and a lot of fun.

Buffalo is a very well run event; they give away great schwag, have very enthusiastic volunteers and I was very happy to be able to do the event this year. I highly recommend it.

Now on to Subject Number Two: Divorce.

No, Hubby and I are not getting divorced.

That is an event I can not even imagine happening. I love him with all my heart, even after all these years of togetherness...

I had to divorce my IM coach. At least moving away from him felt like a divorce.

We'd been working together for several months and on the POSITIVE side, I'm running better and feeling stronger than I have in a long time.

He is an awesome athlete, his company is undergoing restructuring and he is a very busy guy.

I need more attention. I need more u-rah-rah. I need someone who will actually require me to log my training hours and give me feedback.

My old coach (now lovingly referred to as "OC") didn't have the time to check logs or provide much advice. (In his defense, during our divorce proceedings, he said that I was paying for a service. His service provided workouts and advice if I were to proactively ask for it. He said that if I wanted him to be more proactive, I could pay more money. That did not seem like a good deal to me).

I thought about this long and hard and decided that if I was going to make a move, I'd have to do it now. There are only 15-weeks left until Ironman Wisconsin and my training can not skip a beat at this point.

So....I divorced him last week.

And you have to know that our relationship was a polygamous relationship (meaning OC obviously has other clients...). One of his other clients was also unhappy, so she divorced him too.

We've both entered a new relationship with a NEW coach -- "NC". NC is already sending unsolicited emails with lots of advice and encouragement. He is also sending training plans that look like they are going to challenge us and get us stronger.

Perhaps it is only a honeymoon period, but we both feel that NC will get us through the next 15-weeks and to the finish line.

The only question now is whether we should register at a local tri store for some gifts.....