Monday, April 18, 2016

Race Report: NOLA 70.3 2016

First things first - I'm SO happy to say that I'm on a new triathlon team!!!  My very first day as a resident of Pensacola I went to Gulf Coast Cycle & Tri and I was super impressed with the shop, the inventory, the friendliness of the staff, and the knowledge of the mechanics.  Not to mention that the first thing I saw was this bad a$$ Felt IA hanging in the window, beckoning me to go inside:

Turns out the tri team members are just as awesome as the shop, so I jumped at the chance to race w/ this crew!  We're working on a team blog so stay tuned...

So, NOLA, my first race of the 2016 tri season and I really wanted to do well so I could justify my spot on the new team.  I haven't been training excessively (as is required to improve in triathlon), but I still expected to finish this race within 5-5.5 hours.  Instead of the sweet taste of victory I was left savoring the flavor of humble pie.

I anticipated that this race was going to be windy.  It was so windy when I did this race back in 2011 that there were waves in Lake Pontchartrain and they wound up canceling the swim.  Since then, the swim has been moved to the marina, but winds were 20+ mph, creating white caps on the water.  Allison & I were in the same wave and when we got to the front of the dock they told us to jump in after the sound of the beep.  The beep went off and like an old reflex from summer swim team I dove into the water - crap I thought, did I just get DQ'ed?!?!  The swim felt like swimming in the ocean.  There was a lot of chop and some people were definitely panicking.  I swallowed some water (but no used sanitary hygiene products - thanks Mike for putting that thought into my head).  I tried to steer clear of other swimmers and focus on staying as true to course as possible.  I knew that it was going to take extra effort to get through this one, so the less extra yardage I added on d/t poor navigation, the better.  I didn't do a terrible job, especially given the weird "N"-shaped course!

I finished the swim in 37:42 (1:47/100 yds).  Had the water been flat, I would have been looking for closer to 1:35/100 yds, but exiting the swim I felt pleased with that split.  I've been swimming twice per week at a masters group at the NAS Pensacola and this was a good result for the work I've put in.

I got out on the bike course and it was ridiculously windy.  I was thankful that Allison, Aaron, & I had ridden the day before because it boosted my confidence about my handling skills.  In the past the wind has been a real nemesis for me.  I have ridden a few 70.3s on the handlebars the entire time b/c I was scared to ride in the aero position.  However, not today!  Today I put that fear to rest.  There were times when I was going super slow and times when I got surprised by powerful side gusts, but I was confident I wasn't going to get blown over.  I made a point to make sure to eat on schedule; I figured other people would probably forget to eat d/t battling with the wind and that it could give me a leg up later on in the race.  I started getting into a pretty good groove and was catching some of the 25-29ers and a few women in my age group - fantastic!  However, when I was about 5 miles from the turnaround I started getting some unbearable pain in my upper hamstring/groin/muscles around the sit bones on both legs.  I've experienced this before in flat windy races, particularly when riding into a headwind, but have never been able to figure out what to do about it.  It got so bad that I was wincing with every up-stroke and started tearing up a little bit.  I tried sitting up, getting out of the saddle, shifting my weight forward and backwards on the saddle but nothing helped.  I stopped at the turnaround and figured I would try to walk it out/stretch it out because it had become too painful to keep going.  I want to make it clear that it was not a muscle cramp.  The only way I can describe it is that it felt like complete muscular fatigue.  But the frustrating thing was that it was muscular fatigue of those specific muscles - I wasn't tired, my quads & hamstrings were fine, my heart rate wasn't out of control.

I pulled over to the side after going over the timing mat and tried to get off my bike.  Lifting my leg up caused me so much pain that I had to try a few times before I could lift my leg over the saddle of the bike.  An official came over to me and I told him what was going on.  He said, "Well you're not going to throw the towel in now are you?  You still have plenty of time before the cutoff."  Oh wow thanks.  Just what I was hoping for - to make it in before the cutoff.  I hobbled around and tried to stretch, while all the while masses of people were passing me.  I was so frustrated and pissed off that this was happening and in so much pain I started debating quitting.  "If I keep going, I know my time is going to be bad and my new team is going to think I'm a slowpoke." "But if I don't keep going and I DNF they'll think I'm a wussy with a capital P."  I weighed a lot of pros (no more pain) and cons (having to tell people I quit) and about 30 minutes later decided to get back on the bike.  It still hurt like a biatch.  I rode another couple miles and pulled off to the side again, so angry that my body was not holding up and all these other people were whizzing by me.  I was mad that I finally had the confidence to ride in the wind and I couldn't even show it.

Again I took a few tries to dismount the bike and I walked it over to two police offers and said, "I think I have to stop."  They called in a car to come pick me up and told me it would be a while.  I leaned my bike up against their car and kept trying to walk and stretch it out, all the while feeling sorry for myself that the race was coming to an end like this.  About 15 min or so went by and I'm in the middle of wallowing in self-pity when a dude rides by with 1 arm.  Seriously!?!? That was it.  I didn't care if I had to ride back at 10 mph, I was going to finish this damn race.  Here I was out on the course on a nice day, doing a supported ride, in the middle of a race of the sport I love to do, healthy, alive, and nothing to complain about other than #triathleteproblems.  Witnessing this amazing athlete hit me like a gale and my ego blew away in the wind along side all the discarded gel wrappers and abandoned water bottles.  I told the cops to cancel the car and got back on my bike.  I figured at worst I could coast most of the way back since the wind was so strong (24 mph as per Garmin Connect).  I started out really slowly, but then it seemed like I was able to start putting a little more force into the pedals.    I clocked a few 5-mi splits that were 22-23 and I knew I could make it back to transition.  My focused changed to turning the race into a hard training day.  I caught up to the incredible athlete and told him how much he had inspired me to finish the race.  He said, "It's been a tough day out here for everyone, but we're almost there now!"  I thanked him and may or may not have started crying a little as I pushed on towards T2.  When I got there I noticed that 99.9% of all the bikes were back on the racks.
My official bike split was 3:42:05 (15.13 mph).  Had I not had issues, I think I would have been somewhere around 3 hours, but who really knows...

The muscles around my sit bones really hurt when I first started running.  But, I knew from past experiences that the motion of running has never made this issue worse.  I was running a little gingerly the first 2 miles.  I stopped at a porta potty at mile 1 and a volunteer jumped ahead of me - this normally would have made me mad, but I just figured getting angry at this point would be much to do about nothing.  Around the second mile I was able to pick up the pace and enjoy the full benefits of the massive tailwind.  I could tell people were really struggling on the way back and mentally prepared for 6.5 miles of suckfest on the return trip.  The only other interesting thing to note about this run was that I felt like I needed some salt and was asking the aid stations for it.  The only thing one of the stations had was pickle juice!!!  LOL  I was like what the heck and swashed down a dixie cup of the stuff (Alli I hope you are proud of me).  And honestly it didn't taste too bad, haha.  I would definitely do it again.  The last few miles of the run got really hard, as to be expected in a 70.3, but with every step I knew I was getting closer.  And there were so many people out on the course, I passed the time by playing the passing game and singing Iggy Azalea songs in my head.  My run split was 1:42:37 (7:50/mi), not stellar for me but I'll take it given the day.

So there you have it, my total time was 6:07:55 (17th in my AG, 101st female), making this race my slowest half ironman to date but at the same time, one of the ones I'm the most proud of!

Congrats to all participants, especially my fellow GCCTriathletes Allison (who picked a helluva 70.3 for her first half-iron distance tri - seriously you don't even know how hard this race was compared to other 70.3s), Erik, and Aaron (who qualified for 70.3 World Championships)!  And a huge thank you to Mike & Karrie for being awesome sherpas and having to go all day without food and almost all day without beer ;) - you guys rock!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Race Report: Run Pink Pensacola 5K

So, it's official now.  I'm a real resident of FL and I have the driver's license to prove it!  I recently moved to Perdido Key, which is in Pensacola, and I haven't even been here a week, but I love the area already!  It's beautiful, has a vibrant down town, and I can already tell that it has a tremendous endurance community.

I signed up for the Run Pensacola race series to find out firsthand what "We Run This City" is all about.  The race distances range from 5k to 1/2 marathon, and although I don't typically do that many 5ks (because they're so painful) I figured what the heck,  it'll be a good way to force myself to incorporate some speed work.  The first race of the 11-race series was this afternoon, with a 2 pm start time.

It was held in down town in a really cool area called the Seville Quarter.  I thought it was cute and had quite a bit of character.  I did about a 1.5 mile warm up, with some pick ups and drills to get my legs moving.  I lined up at the front of the starting line and the cannon went off (literally they shot off a cannon and it scared the hell out of me!)  The first mile was a breeze.  There was a slight tail wind and I felt great.  One of the golden rules of racing is "don't start out too fast," however I think this goes out the window a little bit with a 5k.  My first mile was 5:55, a tad faster than I was expecting.  As soon as the second mile started things started getting progressively harder.  The course turned back into the wind and I felt my legs getting tired.  The second mile was the worst, but I knew if I could get through it, then I could carry myself to the finish.  Once I hit mile 2, I knew I only had a little more than 6 minutes of pain left and each step was one step closer to the finish line.  The course was well-marked & I enjoyed the cheers of the people on the streets.  I got to "break the tape" when I crossed the line and my jaw dropped to see that I had run a sub 19!  I've never been able to break 19 minutes in the 5k, even when I was doing speed work.  My official time was 18:44, a new PR!!!  How exciting!  I honestly chalk this up to drinking a boatload of Beet Performer Beet Juice this week.  I moved from Panama City Beach to Perdido Key and had nothing in my refrigerator for the last few days except for 2 cases of beet juice, so I probably consumed an inordinate amount!  See my blog on beet juice for how it can make you faster & if you want to try it for yourself use the code "martine6" to get 15% off your order at amazon.

Congrats to all finishers and can't wait for the next Run Pensacola race!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Off-Season Volunteering, Training, & Racing

I haven't blogged since IMCHOO, partly since I've been really busy with my new job as Health Promotion Dietitian at Tyndall Air Force Base and partly because I've been doing nothing.  Nothing, as in I took a month off of training after the race.  I really think it's important to take an "off season" because it lets your body recover and it also refreshes you mentally.  I did stay in the tri scene though by volunteering at Beach2Battleship and IM Florida.  Here's a brief recap of those experiences.

Beach2Battleship 2015

I flew back up to NC for B2B since I've been on the run course committee all year and wasn't about to check out for the main event.  Under the strict eye of run course committee chairman Brian Bohrer (aka Brian#1), Brian Moxey (aka Brian #2), Robert P. Cristman (aka Ricky Bobby), and I executed all directives to the best of our abilities, though sometimes our best wasn't good enough.

Brian #1
Brian #2
Ricky Bobby
When Ricky Bobby & I got there at 5 am on race morning our first task was to set up all the arrows for the run course.  We marked every turn with black arrow signs and every straightaway with neon green duct tape.  After about 2 hours we were done and reported back to Brian #1.  He was moving a million miles a minute and was 7 cups of coffee and 1 granola bar deep (little did we know that he wouldn't consume a single additional calorie for the rest day).  "What do you think this is?" he barked, "A YARD SALE!?!?"  Apparently he thought the arrows we put up looked like sh*t and we had to go back and remove every single one, velcro them to bigger signs that had the B2B logo on them, and place them back in the all right spots.  He was also displeased that I had put double sided duct tape arrows on the pavement instead of taping down 2 directional arrows in opposite directions.  I tried Brian #1!  I tried!  And honestly, I will say that once we had the arrows with B2B logos on them, it looked 1000% better.

We spent the rest of the day (and by that I mean until 1 am the next day) doing odd jobs and filling in wherever was needed, including but not limited to:
*directing runners on course, including the finish cute (i.e. stay left to finish, stay right for the turnaround, no you're not done you still have another 13 miles to go)
*working crowd control to keep spectators off of the most crucial part of the run course
*shuttling high school volunteers to and from aid stations, which was like herding cats & quite possibly the most difficult task of the day
*watching Brian #2 show off on his fat tire bike (don't worry we didn't tell anyone you went over the handlebars ;)
*cheering on participants
*picking up injured participants in the sag wagon
*cleaning up the course after all the fun was over

Heading out to the lake
Overall it was an awesome day and a super fun experience to be on the other side of a race!  I was very impressed with how well the B2B committee communicated with each other.  They had the walkie talkie system down pat.  They squashed any and all fires that came up and I want to say a huge GOOD JOB to everyone involved.  I've raced the B2B full once before and the B2B half a few times and have always had nothing but good things to say about the race and now I can say that I know why!  I also have to say that it was amazing to see all my Wilmington buddies again and I miss you al!!!!

IM Florida 2015

When I moved to Panama City Beach, FL one of the things I was super excited about was of course IM Florida!  I immediately signed up to be a volunteer chip collector from 9 pm to 12 am.  Once I moved down and started hanging out with my former Rev3 teammate Chloe and her posse, I was invited to be a draft marshall with them for the race and I accepted.  First of all it was pretty cool during race week to run along Thomas Dr. and see all the hype starting for the race!  I went to a draft marshall meeting the night before the race where we reviewed all the penalties and got our blue and yellow cards, as well as some pretty official sweet gear.

Race morning they had a nice breakfast for us and the motorcycle drivers at the host hotel.   After marshals were paired with drivers I went out to the swim start and met up with the Wilmington crew.

It was so great to hang out with the Wheeler's, Davis's, Wellersdick's, and Miss Christensen again!  I was pumped for Doug & Phillip's first IM (congrats guys!!!) and Shawn's enthusiasm for spectating and getting the perfect picture was unrivaled!  The surf looked rough to me that morning and the red tide was burning my eyes, but the racers didn't seem to mind and I'll admit I was a little bit jealous that I wasn't out there racing myself!

Once swimmers started making it to T2 I met up w/ the draft marshall crew and we got out on the bikes.  I've never been a big fan of motorcycles but it was pretty fun to cruise the whole course on the back of a Harley :)  It was like I was right in the thick of the race, but without all the suffering!  I don't think I'm cut out to be a draft marshall because I just don't like handing out penalties!  I didn't mind carding people for blatant offenses like passing on the right, but I did not like dealing with people arguing about whether or not they were drafting.  For the record, I let anything go that I thought was even slightly questionable.  All the drafting penalties I gave out (~10) were extremely blatant.  Later on in the race people stopped arguing the penalties - I think that they were so tired that they just grunted at me to acknowledge that they knew they needed to stop in the next tent.  It was a cool experience and I'm thankful I got to be a part of it.

After we got back to transition I went home and crashed for a quick nap.  I got back up and headed back out to the finish line for my second volunteer gig.  They had enough chip collectors and "catchers" so I ended up calling out every number that came across the line to another volunteer who wrote down the numbers, as a back up to the timing system.  This was actually quite difficult at times when people came in together in bunches.  I really enjoyed watching the end of the race!  It was so inspiring to see everyone finish, especially those who weren't sure if they could or would make it! More than a few people hobbled across the finish line and there were a couple collapses.  There were lots of triumphant fist pumps, impressive muscle flexes, and epic hugs.  Some people started crying because they were so happy and overwhelmed.  This made me feel like I was going to start crying too b/c I was so excited for them!  It was an emotional 3 hours :)  Needless to say, by the time 12 am rolled around I was ready to sign up for another IM!  My initial plan was to sign up for IMFL 2016, however I'm 99% sure I'm going to do IM Cozumel instead!

Off-Season Training
So now I'm back to light training and base building.  I've done a LOT of yoga, which has been awesome for mind and body.  I found a spectacular 90-day yoga challenge on YouTube by Lesley Fightmaster that I highly recommend!  I've only been on the trainer a few times for 45-60 minutes each time and have only swam twice since IM CHOO.  I have started running consistently again, but only about 20 miles per week (if that).  I plan to slowly build back up in each of the sports and then start focused training again probably in January.

Draggin' Tail 18-Mile Challenge
My friend Ron invited me to do the Draggin' Tail 18-miler as part of a 3-person relay team.  I thought he said "Dragon Trail" and so I agreed b/c I thought a trail race sounded like fun.  I've almost sworn off all 10ks & 5ks b/c I think they are too dang painful, but this would be 6 miles on trails and I knew that would be more enjoyable.

We showed up on race morning and I'm like, "So where are the trails."  Chloe and Ron were like, "Uh, what trails?"  "Isn't this a trail run...?"  Turns out, there were no trails to be ran.  The entire race was on paved roads through a neighborhood.  I was signed up for the 2nd leg of the race which I was told was the hilliest part, and they were NOT joking about that.  You think there's no way it can be hilly in Florida, but in Sunny Hills Florida there are indeed real hills!

I felt good for the first two miles and clocked in at 6:17 for the first mile and 6:20 for the second.  Then the hills hit and I had a hard time keeping it under 7:00 pace.  I passed a couple people who were running the whole race solo, but couldn't make up much time on the relay team ahead of us.  I was just hoping that I could run faster than my former marathon pace ;)  I finished the 6 miles with an average of 6:34/mile and am pretty happy with that.  It gives me a good starting point as I start increasing training again.  It was really fun to race as a relay & congrats to Chloe & Ron on our awesome 2nd place finish!

Next Up
I plan to keep increasing consistency and mileage.  Not going to worry too much about speed.  I'd like to force myself to get back in the pool, but we'll see if that happens...

I may run the PCB half marathon in December and I'd like to target another half marathon in January as a time trial.

The only other two races that are on my to-do list at the moment are NOLA 70.3 and IM Cozumel, but I'd be willing to bet that more will be added as 2016 gets closer...

Monday, September 21, 2015

Saucony Shoe Review

I recently realized that in the last year and a half I've had 7 pairs of Saucony shoes (5 different models total) and that I should write a brief review of the brand in general and a little comparison of the models I've worn.

First off, I'm sure you want to know how the heck you pronounce the name of this brand for real.  Here you go:

Saucony was founded in 1898 in Kutztown, PA.  The word "Saucony" comes from the Lenni Lenape Native American word "saconk," meaning "where two rivers run together."  Inspired by the original location on the Saucony Creek, the logo represents a running fiver marked by three boulders.

My experience with Saucony running shoes has been fantastic!!  I think they make a very high quality shoe and I haven't found one that I don't like yet.  As you will see, I've run the gamut of their neutral line from super light racers to full cushion pillow top trainers.

The Ride (Version 7, 8.5 oz, 8 mm drop)
The Ride was the first Saucony shoe that I tried.  I had been running in Mizuno Wave Elixirs and was devastated that they stopped making them!  I tried on almost every running shoe in TrySports before deciding on the Ride.  I had just signed up for Quintiles Wrightsville Beach marathon at this time and although there was a little more to this shoe than I was used to, I thought extra cushion might be a good thing considering the mega miles I was about to start running.  Turns out I was right - The Ride is a mid-weight, mid-cushioned shoe in which you can log some serious miles!  I wore out two pairs of these between training for Quintiles & some for Savannah.

The Cortana (Version 3, 7.9 oz, 4 mm drop)
I love love love these shoes!!!  As soon as I saw them I loved them and I loved the way they ran just as much as the way they looked!  They are very similar to the Kinvaras, however I think they have just a touch more cushioning and as per the website they have the slightest hint of stability.  To me, they felt like light-weight neutral shoes with just enough cushion for racing long distances.  I bought 2 pairs of these and used the blue ones for a lot of training heading into Savannah and then I saved the orange ones for racing and they ran me all the way to my sub-3 :)  

The Triumph ISO (9 oz, 8 mm drop)
After returning to triathlon and signing up for an Ironman, I decided to try Saucony's premium cushioned shoe to help save my legs from all the running & cycling I was doing.  This is the heaviest shoe I've worn in a while and by FAR the most cushioned.  At first I wasn't sure if I'd be able to keep running in them because they are SO soft.  It's like running on a trampoline and I felt like I wasn't getting the type of road feel and energy return that I usually like in a running shoe.  I was springing along on every run like a bunny.  However, I stuck with them and I didn't get injured while Ironman training so they served their purpose!  Another interesting thing about this shoe is that is has a seamless sock-like upper, which I like and felt very comfortable on my feet. 

The Zealot ISO (7.4 oz, 4 mm drop)
I like to say that the Zealot is the Kinvara on steroids.  What I mean is that like the Kinvara, it has a low drop and is very light!  But with a little bit more added stack height made from a super compressed foam it gives you maximum cushion.  This shoe is made to compete with the Hoka Clifton and it is indeed very comfortable and very cushioned (not quite as cushioned as The Triumph).  I honestly haven't run that much in it (for no particular reason) but I have worn it a lot around town and while traveling.  This shoe has the same comfortable, seamless sock-like upper as The Triumph. 

The Type A (Version 6, 5.2 oz, 4 mm drop)
The Type A is a true racing flat.  There is not, as intended, much to it.  I ordered these because I have been contemplating what shoes to wear at Chattanooga and I read a lot of glowing reviews about them online.  When I received this box of shoes in the mail I lifted it up and my first thought was, "Holy cow, it feels like there's nothing in here!!"  They are that light.  They are the least cushioned Saucony's that I've run in with the least amount of stack.  They do not want for ground feel.  When you put them on you just feel fast.  These shoes are narrower than other Saucony's that I've worn, which I like b/c I have a narrow foot.  It feels like the shoe is perfectly form fitted to my foot and the first day that I wore them I got 3 compliments on them.  I can't help but increase my turnover in these shoes; they make you want to go from jogging to running to racing.  I ran 10 miles today and felt good, but I'm not 100% sure if I should wear them in Chattanooga or not.  They are so minimalistic and such a departure from the Triumphs....are my legs going to want more cushion after 116 miles of biking?  How are they going to feel 18 miles into the run?  I'm leaning towards wearing them and stashing a more cushioned pair of shoes in my special needs bag just in case, but the jury's still out.  Lastly, to be clear, I wouldn't recommend these to anyone that pronates, is carrying a lot of extra weight, or has poor running form.

So I guess that about sums it up.  If you've never worn Sauconys before, I encourage you to give them a try!  Who knows, you just might #findyourstrong...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Race Report: Lake Logan Half

Wow I can't believe a week has already gone by since racing at Lake Logan!  I gotta do a quick race recap before I forget how it all went down...

I made the excellent decision to drive to Asheville with Jack & Erica and they were a constant source of entertainment on the trip!  THANK YOU guys SO much for being such awesome and fun travel buddies!  It was a super quick trip - we drove down on Friday, raced Saturday, and then drove straight home.  Exhausting really.  But still tons of fun.  A big non-race-related highlight for me was eating at The Laughing Seed in downtown Asheville.  It is an awesome vegetarian/vegan restaurant and 100% delicious.  I highly recommend the Harmony Bowl (brown rice, black beans, tons of veggies, & an Asian peanut sauce).  We ate outside and an added bonus was that right across the street was a climbing wall.  There was a girl climbing it with only one leg; Erica and I made a mental note to remember that if when we started getting tired in the race.

Race morning came early.  We thought we were ahead of the game cause there were very few cars going up the mountain to T1.  Unfortunately when we got to the top, we realized why - everyone else was already there!

We were probably the farthest car parked from the transition area.  This resulted in a slight rush to get everything situated and use the porta potties.  I had to choose between doing a swim warm up or using the bathroom a 3rd time; I chose the latter.  Here's a quick porta potty side story for ya:

Poor Erica had been waiting in line forever to use the lone porta john that was located in the parking lot.  When she finally got to the front of the line a guy came out and said to her, "Be careful in there; a lady who was in there earlier had an accident."
Erica was like, "WTF do you mean an accident?!  What's going on in there?!"
He said, "Let's just say she missed the hole."
"Oh pee on the seat, I'm a PA, that's NBD."
"It's worse than that."
"Ummmm, how the hell does that happen!?!?"
"Apparently it was dark and she didn't have a head lamp or phone light."
"Yeah, but who the f*ck hovers to do a #2?!?!"
She was then faced with doing some risky business or walking all the way to the transition area and getting in the very back of that porta potty line.  And if you've ever raced before, then you know that when one gets to the the front of the porta potty line, one cannot simply go to the back of the porta potty line ... it's not physiologically possible.  Haha, so poor Erica gets in there, rolls her sleeves up, and a lot of toilet paper, hand sanitizer , & f-bombs later, finally gets to build her own nest and do what she went in there to do.
Erica - I still don't know how these things happen to you, but I'm sorry that was the first thing you had to deal with before starting a half iron!  Not ideal, haha!  And, for the record, I'm a little insulted that you almost didn't tell me this story cause you were worried that the woman who had the accident was me!!!!

OK, so on to the race....

The Swim - 1.2 miles - 30:01 (1:25/100 yds)
I hadn't been in the pool once since my accident, so basically for 2 weeks prior to this race.  My elbow was still not fully healed and so I decided to wear a sleeveless wetsuit to prevent having something super tight around my arm.  This worked out perfectly cause the water temp was 74.  I stayed to the back right of the open field because the last thing I wanted was someone to kick my elbow.  I found a good pair of feet to draft off of and essentially did that the entire time.  It was a pretty pleasant swim & was over quickly.

T1 - 2:52
There was a decent run on grass from the swim exit to T1.  I was moving slowly and took my time putting on a cycling jersey for the ride.  In hindsight, I wish I had tried to go faster here.

The Bike - 56 mi - 2:56:31 (19 mph)
The start of the bike scared me to death.  It's about a 5 mile descent down a windy hill and the roads were still damp.  It was the second time I had been out on the road since my accident and the first time riding my road bike in 6 months.  (I took the road bike b/c I didn't want to put pressure on my hurt elbow in the aero pads of my tri bike).  People were flying by me and I was worried that I'd take a wide turn and someone would crash into me while in an aerodynamic blaze of glory.  Thankfully that didn't happen and I made it down without wiping out.  I was pretty tentative at the beginning of the race, but my legs felt good going up the hills.  Both of those things changed as the race went on.  I felt more and more comfortable bombing down some hills on the bike (and actually I could have used another gear cause everyone was passing me on the down hills - my road bike came with an 11-23 and prior to this race TrySports Charlie let me borrow his 12-28 so I could have some climbing ability).  At the same time, I got more and more tired as the race went on.  I saw some drafting which really pissed me off, but I couldn't catch up to say anything to her (pink Wattie Ink).  There was a very large incline around mile 40 or 45 that felt like it went on FOREVER.  I was definitely doing about 6 mph up that thing!  I was successful in doing a water bottle handoff, but that bottle was unsuccessful in staying put in my cages.  It came halfway out at one point and I had to toss it with 10 miles to go cause I didn't want it to get stuck under my wheel or someone else's.  By the end of the bike I was so tired that my brain started telling myself that I felt bad due to residual effects of the crash.  But I had to be realistic and tell myself that that wasn't the case and I was just tired and being a baby.  Remember the one legged wall climbing woman!?

T2 - 1:43
Another stroll through the transition area.

The Run - 13.1 mi - 1:34:20 (7:12/mi)
I was not looking forward to the run, but conversely to how the bike was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be, the run was a lot easier than I thought it was gonna be.  The run is essentially 3 miles up a hill, 3 miles down, 3 miles up the same hill, and 3 miles back down.  I remembered this hill being pretty steep, although this time the gradient seemed milder.  It felt like running into the wind in Wilmington and wasn't steep enough to tear up my quads on the way down.  I was in 10th place off the bike and was quite a ways back.  But I was holding around 7:30 up the hill and 6:50 downhill and could tell I was gaining on people.  I passed quite a few people and was enjoying the shadiness of the route.  I wish there had been a few more aid stations because it seemed like the volunteers got a little overwhelmed at times and I got a coke once when I asked for water - it went down easy though and made me laugh cause Erica had told me a hilarious story about a time when she was so bloated on the bike that she couldn't even take a single sip of water without getting reflux.  She was unable to see her own feet over the profile of her midsection while on the run and it was by taking one sip of coke at a time that she could visibly see her belly deflate and was able to fit comfortably into the waistband of her running shorts for the second half of a marathon in a 140.6.  If you get the chance, ask her for the details on that one - you'll laugh so hard you might pee your pants!  So I ended up passing 5 women on the run, including the drafter who stopped for water at mile 12 and I was like "see ya" like when Macca  passed Raelert FTW at Kona 2010 as described in "I'm Here To Win."

Total Time - 5:05:25 (5th woman)
Overall I'm pretty happy with how this race went.  It was a good confidence builder coming back off of injury.  It's kind of annoying that I was only 5 minutes from 1st place and you look back and think, "geeze I'm sure I could have cut 5 minutes out of somewhere over the course of 70.3 miles!" BUT I'm still happy with this and I beat my White Lake time by 30 seconds and I know that was a much easier course.  Next up ... Chattanooga 140.6!!!!!

Congrats to all racers, we had such a beautiful day and beautiful scenery to be out there!!!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

What It Feels Like To Be Hit By A Car

I didn't realize that my last blog "Training Peaks & Valleys" was perhaps a foreshadow to what happened to me yesterday...  As I wrote in that blog, we all go through ups and downs in our training and sometimes we have no control over whether we find ourselves in a peak or in a valley.  This past week my training was going awesome!  I did a swim/bike brick on Tuesday, a hard 10-mile track workout on Wednesday, swam and did a solo century on Thursday, ran 20 miles with 3 fast finish miles on Friday, took a day off on Saturday, and then yesterday headed out on the group ride for another 100-mile dose of cycling.

The ride itself went great!  There were so many smiling faces and it felt SO much better to ride 100 in a group vs. alone.  Plus, the miles ticked by a LOT faster (thanks Ren, Mike, Shay, Sami, Shay, Ken, JR, Walker, Doug, & Lawrence!)  At the end of the ride I said g'day and started riding home since I had ridden to the ride start.

I was 1.2 miles from my place when I entered a roundabout.  I'm circling around and an SUV pulls up to another entrance to the roundabout and does not stop, slow down, or yield at all to moi, who was already the "traffic" in the traffic circle.  I yelled at the car but her window was up and clearly she didn't hear me.  I didn't have any time to react and next thing I knew the left driver's side of her vehicle was colliding with the right side of my body.  The force of the impact didn't really hurt, but it knocked me down onto the ground and that hurt a lot.  My right foot came unclipped, my left foot remained clipped in, and I skidded across the ground, almost out of my intended exit from the roundabout.  I was laying there, moaning in pain, too shell shocked to move or get up.  I saw another car coming into the roundabout and I thought "please oh please don't run over me!!!"  Thankfully he stopped, as did the lady who hit me, and a few other bystanders as well.  I don't think anyone knew exactly what to do, if they should just leave me there or help me up.  The woman who hit me was freaking out and asking me if I needed anything (um yes, I needed you to look to your left before entering the traffic circle and yield to the oncoming bike).  I couldn't help but notice when she opened up the back of her van that there were about 5-6 cases of beer in there and it was approximately 12:30 in the afternoon!  One person called 911 and being that I was literally less than 100 meters from a fire station, the firefighters arrived on the scene first.  I sat up and unclipped and someone took my bike off of me; I couldn't help but worry about whether or not the frame was cracked.  At this point, pain was starting to sink in a little bit and I got up and sat down on the side of the road in the shade, feeling a little headachy and dizzy.  The firefighters performed some preliminary first aid and surveyed my road rash - I didn't like that I could hear them talking about how bad it looked.  I gave my dad a phone call that no parent wants to receive, "Dad, I got hit by a car (but I'm ok)" and he was there within a few minutes.  EMS arrived and ushered me into the ambulance.  They checked my vitals, asked how I was feeling, looked at my wounds, and recommended that I allow them to transport me to the hospital for further inspection.  At first I didn't want to go, but they said it'd be a good idea to x-ray my elbow, which had taken the brunt of the impact of the fall, to make sure it wasn't broken.  They also wanted to be sure I didn't have any head injuries, as there were a few pretty large cracks in my Giro.

I arrived at the ER and it was fantastic b/c there was literally zero wait time.  As I was sitting there on the cot, I started to realize how much the right side of my body (neck, shoulder, elbow, side, & back) were hurting from getting all scraped up.  The nurses cleaned everything out, I got an x-ray on my arm, and they gave me a bunch of pain killers.  They told me that things were going to get stiffer and more sore over the next 24-48 hours and, boy, they weren't kidding about that.  Everything is so stiff, especially my neck, this morning and it kind of hurts to move.  I feel like I've been hit by a car.  Oh wait, I was hit by a car!  Damn it!

The bright side of this situation is that I am not seriously injured.  X-ray came back ok and it doesn't look like I have anything other than road rash & some seriously bruised muscles.  I know I got really lucky to come out of that with just some scrapes!  I'm so thankful that it wasn't worse.  And I'm so thankful for all the kind people who helped me on the scene, in the ambulance, and at the hospital!  Thanks for being there for me Dad!

From a preliminary inspection, my bike looks ok.  The carbon fiber base bar is chewed up on the right side and pedals are scratched, but I think my body took the brunt of the impact and actually protected the bike!  I won't know for sure though until TrySports Charlie looks over the entire thing from head to toe.  This will most likely affect my training for the next few days.  The doctor didn't give me any restrictions to working out, so I'm assuming it's to be done as tolerated by pain.  So, this accident has transported me from a training peak to a training valley, though hopefully this valley is just a small one ;)

Cyclists, as always, please be careful out there.  And to drivers, please please please be on the lookout for cyclists and other pedestrians.  It's not worth running someone over to get to your destination 30 seconds faster!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Training Peaks (and valleys)

It's hard to believe that Ironman Chattanooga is less than 10 weeks away!!!  It's scary actually cause I don't feel ready.  After Over The Mountain my training sort of took a nose dive down to around 10 or fewer hours/week.  I kept skipping workouts, was sick for a week where I basically did nothing, did some traveling for work, and couldn't string together any consistency.  There was a 2-week stretch where I didn't swim at all!  This left me feeling unfit and also bummed because prior to OTM things were starting to come together again and I was feeling especially good on my long runs.

Well, I'm happy to say I've turned the training train around and have had a few solid back to back 17-hour weeks again.  I'm feeling fit, though I know I don't have too much time left to get to the point that I had originally hoped to when I signed up for IM CHOO.  That's ok though because I've been immensely enjoying training and am so thankful to be able to be out there doing what I'm doing :)  Here's a quick SBR breakdown of where I'm at:

The Swim
As before, I am still not putting a huge emphasis on the swim since the race is supposed to have a decent current.  Now I've heard rumors that the powers at be are not going to open the dam as much as they did last year - damn it - so my strategy could ultimately backfire.  I usually swim 2-3 times per week around 3000 yds per swim.  I've been swimming in various outdoor pools, which have all been about 85+ degrees, making it more difficult than it needs to be.  I've been too scared to swim in the channel after all the shark attacks on the NC coast this summer, but most of the outdoor pools I've been swimming in don't have lane ropes so that's similar to open water swimming right?!  Thankfully, the YMCA just opened again today so I'll start going there next week :)

The Bike
I have REALLY enjoyed the weekend group rides leaving from Poplar Grove.  It's so awesome to see 20+ Wilmington triathletes showing up for these 6 am rides and it always makes me smile.  I've had the good fortune of being able to ride with some really fast ladies & sick fast dudes which I believe is making yours truly faster!  Plus, I love being able to knock out 80 miles in under 4 hours!  That being said, I know I'm not going to have all these great cyclists to draft off of in my race so today I did a solo century and it took me 5 hours 20 min.  Definitely not where I'd like to be, but it's improvement so I can't complain.  I'm feeling super duper comfortable on my IA and I can't say enough great things about that bike.  *LOVE* it!  My saddle situation is under control thank GOD.  I've also gotten very comfortable riding in the wind, which used to be my nemesis.  Hopefully I can continue to increase my endurance on the bike over the next 2 months and pick up a few mph!

The Run
The run has been rough lately.  Prior to my training hiatus, I was going out on 20-22 mile runs and feeling great.  I'd run for 3 hours and feel like I could keep going forever.  More recently I've been having trouble going the distance.  I keep getting these side cramps under my ribs, which makes it hard to take deep breaths.  Maybe this is due to the heat a little bit or maybe it's due to me running out of my PowerGels and using other gels to get by until my next shipment comes in.  At this point I've worked my long run back up to 21 miles.  I was supposed to do some pickups in my last long run, but it was a victory to just get the mileage in.  In contrast to the long runs, my track workouts are going great!  I keep hitting my paces and have had some good training partners out there which always makes it 1000 times better!  I've got a 20 miler tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes - I'm sure my legs will feel fresh after riding 100 today...

Next up for me is Lake Logan Half, which should be interesting.  There are about 20 open women & masters open women signed up for this race which is going to make it really exciting!!  I haven't raced a half since White Lake back in May.  I'd like to beat my time from then, but then again I recall Lake Logan being a really hilly course.  I'm uncertain how I"ll perform in the hills, but I'm certain that It'll be a good pretest for Chattanooga!