Posts Tagged With: preparing for triathlon

Ironman NC 70.3 Race Recap – Part I

I’d be lying if I said I was completely happy with the result of my 4th triathlon, the Ironman NC 70.3, in my hometown of Wilmington, on October 22nd, but I would also be lying if I said I didn’t have a total blast with this race. It’s taken me a few days to really digest and absorb everything about it, learn from it, **I was going to put a spoiler in here but mwahahaha, you’re just going to have to read the WHOLE THING to see if I met my goal**, and well, my parents were in town last week so we were often found shenaniganing around the town or in someone’s kitchen. I am so glad I had an endurance race or I’d probably be up about 5-10 pounds about now from all the shenanigans I ate and drank. Yum-o-rama!

So let me start from the beginning. I signed up for the 70.3 last fall. It was a looonnnggg time ago, and when I signed up, I decided that I didn’t want to “just” participate, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I wanted to push my tri goals a little and aim for a PR (sub 6:03) and goal time (5:30). My sister gave me my first love/hate Christmas present, the gift that keeps on giving, ahhhh, coached swimming sessions. I decided I was going to take the fins off my back and face my strong desire to never swim again, and swim a ton. I became a little more comfortable in the water, and I actually. Started. To. Like. My. Coached. Swims.  I should’ve bought a lottery ticket because I never thought that would happen. Maybe it’s because you have friends to be tortured with and the time seems to go fast, except when doing those workouts when the pool water was over 90 degrees and you just want to take an ice bath.  My goal for the race was to get through the swim as fast as possible, which is basically, just making it through successfully, with the least amount of chafing possible and to be sure the wetsuit stripper didn’t grab my tri shorts by accident.

I got my tired butt out of bed to frequently find my anaerobic threshold (i.e. barf-o-meter) on my bike, chasing my coach and friends along the island of Wrightsville Beach, back and forth, never to fully catch up, but enough to feel a significant difference in my overall bike performance.  I biked with faster people on the weekends, often coming back to the parking lot with a feeling of euphoria that I could actually do what I just did. 22mph average for 58 miles? Why, yes! Ok, that was only once, but still, I’ll never forget how my legs felt that day and the days that followed, the power I could feel building as my bike speeds and strength progressed over the months. My goal for the 56 mile bike was a sub 3:00 time, which was a 19 mph average. I was confident my hard work would pay off on race day.

Because this summer felt like we lived in a jungle placed directly on the surface of the sun, running was extremely difficult for me. I think it was for a lot of people, but I think I should win the “whiniest summer runner ever in history” award.  I swear (and I did, A LOT), the heat and humidity were relentless until two weeks prior to the race. During the worst of it, my fast pace at the track was an 8:00 mile that I could hold for a whopping ¼ mile before literally melting into the track or throwing myself down next to my bag of ice cubes in a heat tantrum. wtf6

So anyway, my run goal went from a 1:45 half to “I hate running during the summer so I don’t care” goal. Really, I wanted a 1:49:59 for my 13.1 miles, and I knew I could do it if I stopped whining, if race day wasn’t 75 or warmer, and I got my game face on.  “Embrace the suck” was the theme this summer.

Everything was lining up, I stayed healthy, and my parents decided to come from Missouri and see me finish the race and visit the family. I was deeply honored for that, and then I could point to all the other athletes and prove that I was NOT the only crazy one out there, we were literally EVERYWHERE. And now they can say they’ve seen and heard Mike Reilly give people their Ironman crowns….I digress.

I have to mention that IMNC 140.6 and 70.3 were just purchased by Ironman/WTC, and it was a unique experience to have both the full and half on the same day. We were all a little wary of how bike traffic would go because of the increased participation, but we figured the full bikers would be pretty much out of the way of the 70.3 people. Then Hurricane Matthew happened. I live in the middle of Wilmington, really close to the coast, and we closely watched as the hurricane barreled its way up the coast. Fortunately for me personally, we only had 3ish inches of rain from the whole event, and we are now in the process of getting the roof replaced on our house. We have a house, insurance with a really high-but-less-than-the-cost-of-a-new-roof deductible, and we are lucky.

Hurricane Matthew

Inland, on the other hand, just 10-15 miles away from my house and for several hundred miles west, it was a different story. The rain was relentless. From the reports I’ve read, this was not a 100 year event or 500 year event. The rain from Hurricane Matthew caused a 1000 year flood event in North Carolina just two weeks before the Ironman races, and part of the massive flooding was on the bike courses.

To make a long story short, the Tuesday before the races, Ironman let the athletes know, because of the flooding, the bike course for the half would be reduced from 56 to 50 miles, and the full from 112 to 50 as well. I was not happy about the news regarding my race, but I felt a punch in the gut for all those athletes who had trained their butts off, sacrificed hours and hours to train for a 112 mile bike ride and would not get their race. I honestly did not think there was anything Ironman could do, it was cancel the race or shorten the course. The county resources were already stretched thin, and I assume to try and change the course would have been a logistical nightmare, if completely impossible for anyone to pull off. I felt the sadness and anger from the full athletes, and I certainly did not blame them, many of them being my friends and training buddies.  I know that you can be empathetic towards the flood victims and upset about your race at the same time, but it crossed the line when some of those athletes became mean and nasty about it, none of which were my friends, of course.

On Thursday, about 30 seconds after I had accepted and really liked the fact that my bike had been cut short, it was announced that both bike courses would be 56 miles, the half participants would get their “full” race, and the full got an additional 6 miles. It was good news, but there was still an air of disappointment for those who were racing the full.

This may seem irrelevant, but it’s actually a key point. My schedule during the two weeks before my race was packed, a lot more than usual. I don’t know what the heck was going on, although I’m sure my calendar could speak for itself (but I’m too lazy to get up and look at it), but I was just non-stop busy. Extraordinarily busy. School festival, band event, volunteering, team dinner, coaching, working, shopping for food, cooking the food, eating the food, you name it. I was exhausted. Part of that is how I normally feel before a race, but part of it was because I never had a chance to just breathe. I did my personal race stuff, volunteered at the Base Performance tent, met up with my new team at Team Blue Line (I can’t wait to talk more about this!), got in my last bits of training, ran my bike here, ran my run stuff there, had dinner, worked my two jobs, and took care of my kids and house stuff, you know, pretty much the normal stuff but with a big endurance race added to the mix.

I may or may not have sent this to a few people so they would just be aware.

Because I am me, I started checking the weather, not quite obsessively, but frequently that week. It was really warm in the days leading to the race, and it looked like a cold front was going to move in right before race day. You know what a cold front means? Yeah, WIND. Yuck.Little did I know.

Pre-race rituals set in, and I got all my stuff settled in the day before the race. My parents made it into town safely, and my sister had made plans to take me to the beach and let me hang out at her friend’s house right by the start. I was nervous, as normal, about the wind, about pushing myself hard to meet my goal, and about the race in general. After I ate my ritual chicken sandwich, complete with cheese and an egg, with fries and a huge glass of water, I said “Goodnight” to everyone, set my alarm for “ass o’clock early” the next morning, and quickly fell asleep.

Part II: COMING SOON!!!

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Categories: anything is possible, beach 2 battleship triathlon, fueled by base, ironman, open water swimming, running, swimming, temper tantrum, training for half iron distance, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

B2B Triathlon Race Recap Part One – Pre-Race Stuff

The Beach 2 Battleship Half Iron Distance Tri is done.  Mission Accomplished.  What a whirlwind! I really don’t even know where to start, so I guess I’ll start from the real tri prep last week to paint the full picture of the race experience. This is long, but I didn’t want to leave anything out, partly because it’s nice to be able and look back at this and partly because it shows how much you have to friggin’ do before a tri!

I started making a list of things that I thought I would need in transition two weeks before the race. I did this for Boston and it was really good to have a notebook where I could just add items when I thought of them. There’s things you may not think of, like sunglasses and chapstick (an absolute essential for me), so when I thought of something, I just wrote it down. I revised the list a few times the week of the race, and ended up with a nice, complete pile of things that I would need. I thought marathon list-making was tedious, but with triathlons, there’s just a lot more to think about. By the time Tuesday had rolled around and I got all the groceries I would need for the week, I totally shirked all my other responsibilities around the house. Had it been a few more days, mayhem would have ensued and the dust bunnies that are primarily composed of cat hair would have probably taken over the entire house.

On Wednesday, I started my pre-race partial carb loading like I do for marathons.  I don’t do pure carbs like many do because I get the dreaded carb crash “they” talk about and end up hungry and jittery. I have to mix in a lot of protein, so basically, I ate a LOT of well-balanced meals. I had lunch with two other half distancers (not sure what else to call us besides “participants also doing the half iron distance” or something long like that) and our coach. Her main advice was this: SWIM – know where you are at all times. BIKE – drink, drink, drink. RUN – don’t go out too fast, pace yourself. We talked a little more specifically about the bike hydration/nutrition and I got totally confused on what I was going to do. I have an aero bottle that holds about 30 ounces plus two other bottle holders on my bike, and I knew I needed close to 25 ounces an hour, some water and some with my EFS in it, but I didn’t know how I was going to coordinate it all. Coach also said we needed about 300 calories an hour total and not much more to overwhelm our systems, so my mind started blacking out and I think I actually short circuited my brain. I had a plan already in place in my head, and this was just too much for my fragile mind to wrap itself around.

I went home and wrote my requirements out, then found the calorie content of my energy bars, chews, and EFS. Then I ignored it. My mental state, other than the bike hydration/nutrition stuff, was fine. I was getting excited, but I wasn’t nervous. I was calm. No big, right? Just an event I haven’t done and 70.3 miles to cover, right? Yeah, I was excited to just get on with it!

On Thursday, I had brunch with an experience triathlete friend of mine to see if I could get any other information she deemed necessary for my race. The theme was how important it is to hydrate and eat during your bike. Basically, you’re riding 56 miles to run a half marathon, so don’t be stupid! It was nice to talk to her, and she is in taper mode for her first full Ironman this coming weekend, IM Florida. Good luck, Renee, you’ll kick ass!!!! One other VERY good tip I got from her was to put a tiny drop of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo in my goggles, rub it around, let it dry, then rinse it out. This was to hopefully prevent them from fogging up considering it was cold and my body was not. After our lunch was over, and I was TOTALLY jacked up on coffee and diet coke, I went to the grocery store and got some baby shampoo to at least hedge the probability of my goggles fogging over, which is a huge pain in the ass.

After the shampoo stop, I headed to the bike shop to pick up an extra tube so I would have two, because I just knew the tire would be flat when I checked on my bike before the race on Saturday. I was CERTAIN it would be dead as a door nail, so I wanted to be prepared.

I headed down town to packet pickup, so I could digest everything and not rush in getting my transition bags ready.  There were a lot of people already there, and it was very fast and easy to get all my stuff for the race. I thought the expo was nice and the music was good and loud, but also sort of lame. For one of the best iron distance triathlons in the world, I figured there would be more vendors peddling their wares, sucking me in to spend money on things I don’t necessarily need. I enjoy looking around and seeing cool stuff. There weren’t many there, so I walked and got sucked into the compression sleeve zone and bought a set. I refused to buy a 70.3 sticker since I hadn’t done one and if something came up and I had a DNF, I didn’t want the thing whispering “you failed” at me.  Near the exit of the expo, they had a chip check, THANKFULLY, and it registered just fine. But that’s when I realized I didn’t have the ankle strap the chip is attached to in my packet. I wound myself around to the actual packet pickup area and got one. One of the ladies casually said, “Oh I guess we missed one”, which I was HORRIFIED to hear, because what if someone like me didn’t know you were supposed to have one and THEN WHAT??! Gasp. Well, I guess most people have been to triathlons before so they knew what they were doing. I got one and wound through the expo again, picking up a small purple PPD football for my boys along the way, also confusing some of the people selling stuff because they were looking at me like, “you look familiar”.

I headed home and started to get my transition bags decorated before the kids got home from school. I spent the rest of the night organizing, checking things off my list, eating, and just hanging with my older son while my husband took the young one to football practice. I didn’t know why, but I was way mellow, and I didn’t know if/when the nerves were going to hit. Thank you to Kecia from PushMyLimits for her words of encouragement that ended up on my transition bags.

I decorated the back of the bags so they would be easier to find in transition.

I decorated the back of the bags so they would be easier to find in transition.

On Friday morning, I had a mini tri workout scheduled and had arranged to meet a friend at the beach so we could do ours together. The swim was a little weird since I hadn’t been in the water for about a week and a half, but once I got into the groove, it was fine. We swam for about 12 or so minutes, then we headed out on our bikes for about 15 minutes. After our bike, we had a 10 minute run.  I felt good. This was the first time I’d ever done a swim, bike, and run all together, so it was good to at least have a mini practice before the race.

After that, I went home and got my gear ready to drop off. I had to head back to the beach to drop my bike and T1 bag off, then back down town to drop my T2 bag off. Because I didn’t want to be alone, my husband came along with me. Thanks, Andy! It was really good to see so many people from my running group, too, so I did get in a good amount of gabbing at our stops.

In front of T1

In front of T1

Daphne all tucked in for the night. Would the tire be flat when I found her the next day?

Daphne all tucked in for the night. Looking good at about 15 years old, ay?

 

A little drinky drink at the expo/bag drop. I was so tired.

A little drinky drink at the expo/bag drop. I was so tired.

I hadn’t eaten much and we didn’t have time to eat down town so we could be home to get the boys off the bus, so we stopped at Whole Foods and got one of their huge chicken pesto sandwiches. Delightful! I started to really feel like shit at this point, and didn’t know why. I wanted to take a nap but knew that if I did, I’d never sleep that night. I was worried I’d wake up with a sore throat, the flu, or ebola. I didn’t know what the heck was going on, but I was nervous.  I felt like complete crap the entire week before Boston, so I figured it was just part of the game, but still, was worried.

I FINALLY decided on my bike hydration/nutrition late Friday evening. I would have one 24 oz bottle with concentrated EFS to keep the entire ride, my aero bottle would be filled with water, then one additional bottle of water. I would try to drink two of the aero bottles and the EFS bottle, if not more, but I knew from past experience, I probably wouldn’t drink more than that. I cut up my bonk breaker bars into pieces so they would be easy to grab out of my pouch as I rode, and I took out my two packages of blocks and honey stinger chews and put them into a baggie so I could eat them at the end of the bike in preparation for the run.

I went to bed around 9:30 with two alarms set for 4:00 am and 4:05 am. I slept like a rock! I wasn’t really thrilled at getting up, but I woke up without nerves and got ready to race. I had taken a bunch of extra clothes to Goodwill a few weeks ago, holding back one pair of shoes that I could have at the swim start. There’s no bag drop there, so anything you’re wearing that doesn’t swim with you, you do not get back. I bought an Ohio State jacket and had an extra sweatshirt and my shoes, so was good to go. Until I tried to put my shoes on. D’oh! I saved two lefties, so I ditched that plan and brought a pair of flip flops I didn’t like instead.

This wasn't going to work.

This wasn’t going to work.

Things were “working out” the way they were supposed to, and my sister picked me up at about 5:40 so we could get to the beach before the traffic hit. Things were so smooth, and I had to wonder if it was going too well. The forecast was perfect. No wind. It was going to be slightly warmer than what I prefer for the run, but I knew that I needed to just be smart, and be careful. I couldn’t salt bonk for two of my biggest races in one year, so I was determined to be smart about it.

When we got to the transition area, which is where we were to catch the trolley to the swim start, it was abuzz with energy. It was so cool! I love the pre-race vibe!  I checked on my bike -THE TIRES WERE FULL OF AIR!! YIPPEEEEEE!!!!! filled them to 120#, and got body marked.

I. Was. Ready.

My outfit is just "delightful", isn't it!?

My outfit is just “delightful”, isn’t it!?

 

Getting body marked.

Getting body marked.

I’m going to keep writing as soon as I post, so stay tuned (if you made it this far!) for the actual race recap!

 

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, half iron distance, iron distance, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

My Triathlon is Saturday and I’m NOT Freaking Out

Here we go!

Here we go!

It’s heeerrrreeeee! My very first triathlon is Saturday. I will be racing in the Beach 2 Battleship Half Iron Distance Triathlon. My swim wave starts at 8:54 am and I’m hoping to finish the race within 7 hours.  I would offer for you to track me, but if it’s anything like last year (and my WordPress the past few days) you’ll see my results after I post them on here. Seriously, it’s like dial-up this week, which is one reason why I haven’t posted. And it’s typing at the speed as if I had a manual typewriter. So frustrating!!!

This week has been full of emotions. It’s been full of lists, preparations, more lists, and some working out, of course. While part of me wants to just huddle in the corner in the fetal position quietly rocking back and forth muttering “mommy”, the other part wants to rip thick phone books apart and eat nails for dinner.  I’m tough, but it would be a lie to say that I wasn’t scared. It would also be a lie if I didn’t think that I could complete this race in good time AND have fun.  To me this week, FEAR is like an annoying fly. It’s there, but I bat it away. It goes away, but it comes back. It’s annoying, but it’s not distracting. I’m able to focus. Mostly on the fact that on Saturday, I’m going to do something that a year ago would have been nearly impossible. And I’m thrilled. I’m in a little bit of disbelief. I’m happy. I’m excited. I’m nervous.

I’m treating this race like a marathon. I’ve got a race plan. I’m going to carb load (or at least my version of it).  I am dividing the race into bits, each section a little piece of the entire puzzle. I’m visualizing me accomplishing each goal, little bit by little bit. I’m watching Accuweather like a stalker.  I’m thinking about each piece and how I’m going to execute it. I see myself crossing the finish line.  And after Tuesday’s short brick workout, I feel like I can do anything. Maybe it’s the cooler weather, maybe it’s the fact that I’m going to be marathon training soon, maybe it’s something else, I don’t know, but I’m truly excited for this race. I’m planning for the best, preparing for the worst.

Just as in running marathons, things are "strange" the weeks right before the race!

Just as in running marathons, things are “strange” the weeks right before the race!

I’ve had some wacky shit go wrong these past few weeks too. Then the problem mysteriously disappears. I get my bike on those bike days and the tire is flat. But I’ve never had a flat during a ride. My gear shifter wouldn’t work right on Saturday, but Tuesday, it worked fine. I’ve had some bad runs. I’ve had THE runs. I’ve had some bad bike rides, too. My shoe clip was slipping around last week, but it isn’t this week. My cadence sensor went funky on me, so I took it in and it was the smallest issue. I felt like a big dope, but the bike guy sees this stuff all the time, especially the week before a big race. I’m just glad he didn’t laugh at me. My shin splints are bothering me this week too. So with all this, I’ll just do what I’ve been training to do: Finish the 70.3 and have fun!!

Anyway, I’ve done what I can to prepare myself in the best way. I must now rely on my training. I’ve asked tons of questions, I’m having a pre-race meeting with my coach and an experienced triathlete friend. And I’m getting my race gear a day early so I have time to digest everything.  Bonus is the weather forecast. Low of 50, high of 73, sunny, light breeze. Couldn’t ask for better conditions!!

b2b2

So what my plans are at this moment is to be smart about the race, do it with purpose, and by all means, SMILE! Oh, and kicking a little ass is always acceptable, too. Toodles!

fearless

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, half iron distance, iron distance, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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