Sunday, September 25, 2011

1 Week

I cannot believe that in just 1 short week, I'll be sitting on a plane headed to Hawaii!!  A few weeks ago I was nervous about leaving and saw the date as overwhelming - like it was looming on the horizon.  But after a good couple of weeks of training and realizing that I AM READY, and I am going to HAWAII, I find myself getting more and more excited!

To say I have Kona on the brain is an understatement.  A friend may be talking about something completely different, like say, politics or the economy, and I'll jump in with the weather forecast for Kona.  Which looks something like this......

Sunny with isolated showers in the morning....then partly sunny with scattered showers in the afternoon.  Haze through the day.  Highs to 87.  Southwest winds around 10mph shifting to the west in the late morning and afternoon.  Chance of rain 20%.

every single day.  Sounds a lot like paradise to me.

PIC and I are totally geeking out on everything Kona.  It is great because we can do all the nerdy triathlon things that only triathletes want to do and we don't have to drag our families with us!  Coffee boat, stalking looking for pros (shouldn't be too hard to do in Kona right?), meet up with all our twitter/blogger friends, meet Macca, take an open water swim clinic, find the KSwiss house, find the Oakley booth, see how much schwag we can come up with:)  And, see how much quality feet up time we can get too.  (I promise Chuckie, just see how good I can get at relaxing)

PIC gets in Saturday and is tasked with finding a farmers market (can anyone help with this one?), I get in Sunday.  We have a cute little condo that is billed as a "romantic getaway"......and I promised to hold PICs hand on a walk.  Not like we haven't done that before:)
Nationals in 2008 I believe despite what the picture date says.

It's true, I've already started packing!  But leave no doubt - I'll be panicked on Saturday with packing!  Not quite sure how I manage that every single time I travel but at least I know what's going to happen.

Anywho, it's a lazy Sunday morning here after yesterday's near-epic ride to Poudre River and last brick.  It's going to be hot today - darn near 87 so I'm putting off my run for a few hours to make sure it is nice and warm.  Then a swim.  Then a get-together with some peeps that have signed up for IMCDA.  Good times!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Step Back and Harvest Moon

It's September and lots of you have finished your seasons or are about to go into that scary place called off-season!  If you are thinking about a coach next year, I have a few spots open!  Send me an email (my address is to the right under coaching), DM me on twitter, or just leave a comment here if you'd like to discuss.  If I have any more spots open at the end of October, I will post another reminder!  



Was it just Friday that I actually stated out loud and on "paper" in this blog that I was feeling ready for Kona?  Silly, silly, silly me.....why would I ever put that out there!  Even if on Friday I did feel ready.  I know better than that - it's almost like a jinx.  Because today is Monday and there is no way I am ready.  No no no.  OK, I am 2/3's confident.  I am 1/3 a total mess, not confident and wondering why the heck I signed up for this thing!!

What happened you ask?  Oh, just a half iron distance triathlon yesterday.  A lovely, local race just 20 minutes from home called Harvest Moon.  A race that takes place on roads that PIC and I have ridden time and time again.  And almost run off the road time and time again.  (seems the folks out east don't "appreciate" cyclists and have a fondness for staying on the correct side of the yellow line)  I love this course!  It was windy though so fast bike times were not going to happen.  Last year, I did the aquabike so maybe I didn't give the race the proper preparation it deserves.  And I have just been tired.  All week.  But whatever.....

Here's the race report.
A gorgeous, windy morning

Michael was racing the aquabike this year, so the entire family headed out the door at 6:00 or a bit later.  So I was a tad bit rushed when we got to the rez.....there was a bit of traffic and my wave was at 7:30.  Doing the math, I realized my warm-up might be compromised.  I rushed to transition, Katy from KE (get used to this name....she was everywhere on Sunday!) bodymarked me, I did a quick set-up and started putting my wetsuit on.  But I had to use the potty and the lines were long!  I finally got in the water and did a bit of a warm-up but with the wind blowing it was warmer staying in the water - and then they delayed the start 15 minutes or so.  Guess I should have stayed in the potty line:)  I finally met up with PIC since we were in the same wave and saw Lauren too.  It was great to hang out with them before the start. Time to race!!

Swim - I was super excited to be in the first wave.....nothing like open water!  Until I realized that meant there were no swimmers in front of me (duh) and we were heading directly into the sun.  So I was going to have to be a bit more on top of sighting than usual.  I counted the buoys and knew the general direction but it's always a different story when you get into the water!  My fast swimmer friend Kathleen was racing and we lined up together with a couple of the elite men at the front.  I knew she wouldn't whack me (or at least that was what I was hoping) but I wasn't sure about those crazy men.  The first few strokes were mellow and I was almost lulled into thinking this would be an easy start!  That was when I received the first blow to the head.  On the right side....it wasn't Kathleen:)  This elite guy just wouldn't give me any space!  Kathleen on my left, lots of kicking in front, and this guy kept hitting me on the right.  As usual, Kathleen took off in front of me to the left and broke free of the crowd.  I was still dealing with the man who wasjustooclose.  He finally dropped back but then I was "all by myself"  (sing the song everyone).

It looked like Kathleen was heading to another buoy but I was fairly confident in my direction even though I had to sight a million times.  You would think that after the turn buoy (I was on-course) sighting would get easier.  But it didn't.  There was some fairly good chop and the only buoy I saw was for the outgoing swimmers.  Fortunately, Katy from KE was in a kayak and kind of blocked me from heading to the wrong buoy!!  THANKS!!!  But I was also confused because she was leading me but Katheen was in front - there is no way that I'm the lead swimmer, right?  But I couldn't see her so I figured she was swimming like a 23 or something.  As I swam to the beach, all of a sudden there she was!!  We exited out of the water together and ran up to T1 together.  She looked at me and said she made a wrong turn.  Bummer.  We high-fived over the timing mat and were 1st out of the water and on the bike.  Pretty cool.

Bike - It was windy out east today so I knew that times would not be as speedy as last year.  And because I know this course, I knew exactly where the "ride" would begin - the road back to Quincy from Bennett.  It seemed to take forever for my heart rate to come down to a reasonable range - that run up to T1 kills me every time!  On the out and back section there was a decent cross wind and I just smiled that it was a windy day - good Kona race practice:)  My legs weren't as fresh as I was hoping for the first part but I patiently waited for them to feel better.  My heart rate was in the right place finally and my watts were starting to go up - good direction.  Everything was great!  I was smiling and people on the course kept yelling first woman - kind of an odd feeling to be out front but strangely cool!  But I saw PIC on the out and back and knew I had a target on my back so that kept me nice and motivated.  Honestly, this was a very uneventful ride.  My legs never felt great (not like Boulder when they felt like butta) but my watts were stable and so I was cool with that.  PIC passed me at mile 45 and we played just a quick round of cat and mouse!  Fun!  And, there was Katy from KE again cheering us on! Those last 10 miles I felt like I started dragging just a bit and my left hip was being cranky.  I kept thinking of my last few runs off the bike and how stellar I had felt and told myself that was how I would feel today so I was looking forward to the run.

T2 - I have decided that I love sitting down for a few quick seconds to put on my shoes in a half!!  That way I don't have to worry about possibly falling over due to unsteady legs after 56 miles.  Maybe next time I'll bring a chair and set it up next to my bike.  That would be great!
All smiles!  And look how pale I am??! What happened to that nice summer tan?

Run - Oh, the run.  The run.  The run.......I was all smiles coming out of transition and I was feeling pretty OK, waved to Troy and the kiddos and got a nod from Chuckie.  Got my belt and hat on and tried to settle into that first mile.  First mile was good, not overly fast by any stretch of the imagination but decent.  I thought I could settle into a pace 15 seconds slower but that was just not to happen.  I always seem to get a bit of a breathing cramp coming out of transition, and Sunday was no different.  But this time it wouldn't go away.  And it was on both sides, not just one.  Very annoying.  So I slowed down hoping it would release.  It did just a bit.  Tried to pick up the pace.  Nope.  Cramp back.  Slowed to a walk.  Cramp faded.  Started to run, cramps back.  And so it went for the next 5 miles.  Walk, Run, walk, run.  I drank water and gatorade at every aid station.  I seriously considered DNF'ing because I just really didn't want to walk/run for 13 miles.  And I felt tired.  But I have never DNF'd and I'm just too stubborn.  Around 5.5 miles, I was fooled into seeing the turnaround but made a deal with myself to run to the turnaround and back without walking regardless of the cramp situation.  I knew it would be the fastest way back to the finish.  But I did it.  And I tried to do it with a smile!  It was so great to see so many friends on the course - that really is the best part of a local out and back race! And, of course, Katy from KE was cheering everyone on from the run course - love that girl! The cramps finally gave way but by that time my legs were so heavy that I felt I could barely lift them (my stomach is still sore from the cramps on Sunday!!).
Heading to the finish and surprisingly still smiling!  And look how tan I got in those hours on the run course!

The result?  My slowest half to-date.  To say I'm discouraged is just a bit of an understatement.  But, it's two days after the race and I'm getting over myself.  I know that when I get off the plane in Kona, I will be ready. There are a couple of hard weeks left........and I will be ready:)

Now, here's the fun part of this race.....the slip 'n slide at the finish!!!  Although I had no interest in the slip 'n slide, my kids would not take no for an answer.  They ran me through the finish line (clearly NOT an Ironman event) and basically herded me to taking a dive:)

Thanks Troy for taking care of the kiddos and the fantastic pictures!
Charlotte, Annie, and Isabelle playing around in the clean water......imagine how that water looked when I jumped in...ewwwwww.




Oh, and the results:  6th female overall, 2nd age group.
Not my kid but love this picture with PIC's kiddo Annie

Congratulations to Peter and Cody!  They had great races and are well on-track to their countdown to Ironman Florida and Arizona!
Peter on top of the podium!!!  
And congrats to Michael too.....he loved the aquabike!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

32

A little number that got my stomach churning, tears flowing, and shaking of my head.  No, no, no - how can Kona only be 32 days away? (yes, I realize that as of today that number is actually 29!!)

It was an innocent question posed to me at the end of season pool party on Monday.  I was laying on a chair licking my wounds from a HUGE weekend of training (more on that later) when an innocent bystander (friendly neighbor) asked me...how are you?  how's training?  how many days now?  Don't get me wrong, I know it's close.  I mean, it's September.  Kona is in October.  But lately I have let myself get a bit "foggy" on the exact details.  Like how many days left to the Big Dance.  So I got out my trusty smart phone, logged onto the Ironman site and right there.......the daily countdown.  32 it said.  And the 2011 athlete guide is out too.  Instantly, I had butterflies dancing in my tummy.  My legs felt weak (OK, they were already weak due to the big training weekend).  And tears filled my eyes.  It's here.  There's no way to stop the train......hold on cuz we're going to Hawaii!

Of course, I clicked on the athlete guide even though it's the same guide year in/year out, they just change the dates.  And then I got really overwhelmed.  Athlete check-in.  Athlete dinner.  Ironman village.  Bike check-in.  Gulp.  I turned off my phone and took a deep breath.  And gained some inner calm.  Training has been going very, very well.  This weekend included a 2.4 mile swim at Boulder Rez, a couple of long bikes and lots and lots of "crazy" laps at IM effort, a couple of run-offs.  A BIG weekend!  Yes, it was exhausting but I embraced the week.  I embraced the miles and miles on the bike.  The long runs.  And my last week in the outdoor pool (pools close way too early here - silly Labor Day "rule").

The process of training for an Ironman is a long one.  It takes physical prep and mental prep.  You have face your demons on long rides when all you want is to be off your bike.  You have to keep getting in the pool and looking at your "friend" named Black Line.  You just keep running.  And you do it even when you are tired.  You do it when you want nothing more than to get back in your bed.  You do it even on a Saturday and you miss seeing your kids all day.  But you keep at it because the task at hand demands it.  I know that at some point on Ironman day it's going to get really HARD, but I know that I can handle it.  It's been really hard countless times in training.  I have bonked and come back, my legs have flipped me the middle finger (interesting visual) but I have coaxed an effort out of them, I've been bored, tired, hot, energized, sweaty, cold, upset, happy, sad, angry, disappointed - and sometimes in just 1 day......you name it I have more than likely been through it this year.  I have put all those experiences in a box, put a pretty little bow on it and deposited it in my training bank.  I will be making a big withdrawal soon......

The number of really hard training days have whittled down and I can now count them on one hand.  In 20-some days, I'll be in Hawaii.  I started this countdown in the 300s after qualifying in Arizona.  Last November.  It's crazy that those days have passed and Kona is right around the corner.  It's been a slow building process this year but momentum is gaining and I'm starting to feel.......ready.  

29 days.