Race Report: Gulf Coast Triathlon 70.3

Whether anyone actually reads these posts or not, I should apologize for my “blog neglect.”  No other excuse than there have been too many competing priorities over the past few months and chronicling my never-ending routine of “Swim-Work-Bike-Work-Sleep-Run-Eat- Repeat” seems just a little repetitive and boring.

So, to catch ya’ll up, I have been having lots of foot issues this year.  The long run has been very difficult due to some PF in my right foot and what feels like neuroma (only it’s not) in both feet.  I’ve been seeing a wonderful chiropractor for the past month or so and she has worked miracles.

IMAG0155Back on March 29, I ran the Tomoka Half Marathon up in Ormond Beach.  It was a lovely race and I ran really well for the first 9-ish miles, and then I ended up run-walk-hobbling the last 5K.  I was so hoping to run a sub-2 hour half, but it wasn’t in the cards.  I ran it in 2:07:40 and finished in tears.  I went to see Sam the next week.  We’ve been working through the issues with weekly adjustments, cold laser therapy, and custom orthodics for my running and cycling shoes.  The regimen seems to be working.  The past month has also seen me running on the elliptical moreso than on the road.

All of this was leading up to my first “A” race of the year – Gulf Coast Triathlon 70.3 on May 9th in Panama City Beach, Florida.  This race was exciting on a number of levels.

First, it was my first half-iron distance race – a 1.2 mile swim in the Gulf of Mexico, followed immediately by a 56 mile bike, and then a 13.1 mile run.  Accomplishing a goal like this would have seemed utterly impossible even 2 years ago.  Deb asked me over the weekend why I do these crazy things.  My answer:  “Because I can,” followed quickly by “Oh, and to prove to myself that all the people who told me I couldn’t _______ (insert any number of things) were dead wrong.”

Second, a bunch of my Swim-Bike-Mom Ambassador Teammates were also racing Gulf Coast – including, our big kahuna, Swim Bike Mom herself, Meredith Atwood!  I was so excited to finally meet these ladies (who I had come to adore so much in cyberspace) in real life!

SBMAT  IMAG0354  

IMAG0353   Allison

Teammates   Therese

Third, this was a meetup race for my Sister Trives – a group of us goofy tri-gals who hold each other accountable to our goals, day in and day out.  Megan, Carrie, and I were racing the half (the first for Carrie and me and Megan’s second); Courtney was racing the sprint, and Kim was our sherpa for the weekend.  The only one missing was Crystal and we certainly DID miss her.

IMAG0364   Trives

Deb and I arrived in Panama City Beach on Thursday, hit packet pickup (very nice race SWAG – cool t-shirt and a lunch cooler) and the expo (I bought some purple calf compression sleeves and a couple of shirts), and then just chilled for the rest of the day.  We went over to the beach and stood in the water – it was so beautiful and clear.  I texted with my teammates and we decided to meet on the beach the next morning for a practice swim.  Deb and I had a nice dinner by the water and called it a night early.

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(left to right) Kim Oural, Therese Slecta, Meredith Atwood, Karen Vickers, Courtney Cappello, Megan White, me, Allison O’Connor, Lynn Kirkland

On Friday morning, my Trives were rolling in.  Megan, Courtney, and Kim arrived in time to catch the swim.  It was BEAUTIFUL!  The water was so clear and calm – PERFECT OWS conditions.  I had an epiphany this weekend.  It is not the OCEAN that freaks me out – it’s the inability to SEE what’s around me IN the ocean that sends me into hyperventilation mode.  I feel claustrophobic in the murky water.  But I was perfectly calm and really enjoyed our time in the water.  On the way back to shore, I looked down and swam right over a sand shark and didn’t even begin to flip my shit – I could SEE it, therefore, I was not afraid of it… Weird, but true.

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Xterra Off-Road Pro, Craig Evans

Deb and I went back over to the expo and stopped at the FusionSportsUSA booth so Deb could buy a shirt she had her eye on from the day before.  The Fusion rep was at lunch and who was there to help us find what we needed?  Xterra Pro Triathlete, Craig Evans!  He was super nice and super helpful!  Craig placed 5th overall at GCT – his training day… LOL!  We hope he has an awesome race at the USAT Off-Road Triathlon National Championship race next weekend!

Image05082015153733This was my first race where I checked my bike in the day before the actual event and I was quite surprised by how unnerving it was.  I made sure to let some air out of my tires, racked my bike, and walked away.  Red looked so lonely there on the rack all by himself.

flat-angieDeb and I had a nice dinner at the resort.  My “last supper” was a potato-crusted salmon, veggies, french fries, and a Blue Moon (I should’ve taken a picture, but I inhaled it too quickly).  After dinner I packed my transition bag and started the mental prep for the next morning.  I also spent a few minutes with the girls.  Carrie and Megan had prepared goodie bags for each of us with all kinds of fun stuff – socks, snacks, goofy things – it was awesome and sweet!

I set my alarm for 3:15am and fell asleep before my head hit the pillow, I think.

The next morning, I woke up ready to go.  THIS was the day I had been preparing for for MONTHS!  All those hours of swimming, biking, and running, came down to the next 8 hours.  I felt pretty calm, which was a nice change – normally I am so  jacked up about the swim that it messes with my stomach.  I had my coffee and a snack, and headed over to meet Megan so we could get to transition when it opened.  I prepped my space, checked and rechecked, ran through each stage in my mind and set things up the best I knew how and looked at my watch… It was 5:10am… So, I grabbed my wetsuit, swimcap, goggles, transition bag and bike pump and walked back to our villa to get away from all the nervous energy in transition.

swimGCT-swimmapDeb and I made our way to the swim start area and met up with Meredith and the Swim Bike Family.  I was so glad that Megan and I were in the same swim wave.  We’ve been training together for months and it was great to be able to plunge into the water together.  After some tense moments with my Garmin, I was ready.  The first swim wave was off.  Then it was our turn.  Off we go!

I like to keep to the outside edge of the swim course – it minimizes the contact and I knew than 5 minutes after we took off, the men’s waves would be coming and many of those guys are fast, fast, FAST!  I really wasn’t interested in being swam over top of.  The first 1000 yards went by quick.  I looked over and there was Megan – YAY!  We turned the buoy and somehow I got off kilter and started swimming diagonally out into the Gulf – way off course.  A kind kayaker pointed me back in the right direction, and I got back on track.  Obviously siting in the open water is something I need to work on!  Some more meandering and I could see the bottom lightening up and suddenly I could touch the bottom.  I unzipped my wetsuit and pulled it down to my waist and out of the water I came.  I am not a strong swimmer, but I have come a very long way from the girl who could barely make it across our backyard pool.  Swim Time:  49:26

I took my time in transition.  I didn’t want to rush and forget something.  I got out of my wetsuit pretty quickly, but I had sand everywhere.  I squirted myself off as best I could with a water bottle, dried off my feet and put on my shoes and socks.  Helmet, sunglasses, race belt, hydration, nutrition, bike, go…  T1 Time:  5:20

GCT-BikeMapOverallThe bike course was great!   All those hours on the trainer had definitely paid off.  Even on my roadie I was passing very strong and felt good.  The course went along the gulf for about 6 miles then turned north on US 79.  It was warm, but the sky was a little hazy still, not the full sun that was promised for later in the day.  We followed Hwy 79 up to Pine Log Road and turned left and followed that road for about 4-1/2 miles.  That was probably the suckiest part of the course – it was bumpy and seemed to be uphill going both ways (well, hilly being a very RELATIVE term – I live at the beach and the only hills I have to ride are the bridges over the intracoastal waterway).

Another first for me was grabbing water on the bike from an aid station.  I had plenty of Performance left in my bottles, but I really just wanted some cold water, so I slowed down and one of the volunteers held the bottle out from the bottom and I grabbed it from the top.  Perfect-o!  Then I did something that I’ve never done in a race before, but it’s probably the best decision I made all day.  I rode to the end of the aid station and I pulled off the course and stopped.  I drank 3/4 of the bottle of water and poured the rest over my head.  I quickly ate a bar and drank a Slam.  All in all, it may have been a 2-3 minute stop, but it refreshed me so much!

As I head back down 79, I reminded myself to just soak in the moment… To be grateful for the day… To be present… And I was.  The rest of the bike was lovely.

I didn’t spend all of my pennies on the bike like I did at Battle of the Bridges, but I was very ready to be off my bike by the end.  Finally, I arrived at the dismount line.  I said something about selling my bike for $1.  Just a half mary to go.  Bike Time:  2:59:38

I’m not exactly sure what in the heck took me so long in T2.  I know I changed my socks and drank a bunch of fluids, and I may have eaten another bar… Honestly, I just don’t know… T2 Time:  5:58

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The first steps of the run were just awful!  I had no idea HOW on earth I would manage to make it 13.1 miles.  I set off on my intervals – 2 minutes running, 30 seconds walking.  Both IT bands seized up at Mile 2.  I walked and rubbed and happily they loosened up.  It was about  11:00 by this time and it was sunny and HOT!  The course support was incredible though!  There were aid stations at most a mile apart (often only 1/2 mile) with water, ice, Gatorade, food, gels, and cold sponges… OH THE SPONGES!!!

I settled into a run 1 minute/walk 1 minute rhythm – it wasn’t fast, but it worked and I honestly felt I could have kept that up all day if I’d needed to.  I walked through every aid station and got water or gatorade, a cup of ice (which promptly went down my bra in the front or the back), and a sponge or 2, which I squeezed over my head.  By the turnaround, I was squishy-squoshy in my sneakers and I rattled when I ran from all the ice in my kit, but it felt GREAT!  I talked with the other runners that I was playing leap frog with – so many nice people.  Triathletes are just a really cool bunch of people!

At mile 12.5 I could hear the finish line, I could hear the announcer and the music.  There was a volunteer motioning me into the Edgewater parking lot, and then I saw Deb who ran with me around the last corners saying, “You DID it!  Just around that corner… Just a few more steps!”  I turned the corner and there was the finish line… I heard my name and the announcer said “Look at that smile!” as I crossed.  Someone “caught” me and asked if I needed medical.  I said I was okay.  Someone handed me my medal… someone else gave me food and beer tickets… Another lady handed me a cold bottle of water…  I was done!  I finished a half-iron distance triathlon!!!  Run Time:  2:35:46

Total Race Time:  6:36:05

My time goal for this race was 6-1/2 hours.  I missed that time by 6 minutes and 5 seconds (but, you know what, I’ll take that kind of failure any day of the week).  But, I had a more important goal – to finish the race with a smile and to want to race another 70.3. I accomplished those goals in spades!  I’m really looking forward to Beach 2 Battleship 70.3 in Wilmington, NC  in October!

OH!  But when we went back to our condo and I looked up the results, I found out that I actually placed 5th in my age group!!  Awards went 5 deep, so I actually got a plaque!  How cool is that?

Triathlon may be an individual sport, but there is no way I could have gotten to that finish line without the support of a small army!  Thanks so much to Deb and Josh for all your love and support during the process – for always picking up the slack when I had training to do and for keeping me positive when the dark thoughts started to creep in.  Thanks to my training buddy, Megan White, for pushing me harder than I would EVER have pushed myself alone!   You made all those 5am swims and runs bearable! And, although you may not be entirely satisfied with your outcome, I can’t help but be awed and inspired by the fact that you overcame a flat tire and a busted CO2 cartridge at mile 2 of the bike and came back to PR your race!  Just incredible!!!   Thanks to my coach, Pam Giese, for all your Yoda-like wisdom during the process – you are awesome!!  Thanks to my other 4 Sister Trives for their cyber-accountability – knowing that they would be checking in on my workouts each day was just what I needed!  And finally, thanks to my SBM Ambassador Teammates for their incredible examples of dedication and perseverance – I hope I did ya’ll proud!

 

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Carrie made us this INCREDIBLE Sugar Skull 70.3 Nutella RiceKrispie Treat Brownie amazement to commemorate our race! So AWESOME!!!

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Happy 2015! Got Goals?

Untitled-1_edited-1HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  It’s hard to wrap my brain around the fact that it’s 2015!!  I will be FIFTY ( that’s 5-0) years old this year!  Crazy!

Earlier this week, I was writing a content piece for one of our online programs about the difference between New Years Resolutions and true goals.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my goals for this upcoming year over the past few months – looking at my personal goals for our family and my athletic endeavors, while being mindful of the balance that needs to be struck with our business – which is, quite frankly, exploding in a major way!  This is why I made the decision to defer Ironman Florida until 2016 – there is just no way to devote the amount of time needed to train for something like that AND manage our household AND give my all to our company – without being a total mental and physical train wreck on the other side.

8356198_sI gave up on New Years Resolutions a long time ago.  It was just another opportunity to wake up on February 1st and feel like an abject failure because I had given up by January 15th!  My New Years Resolutions always centered on giving up something:  Losing weight, quitting smoking, quitting drinking, cutting out sugar/carbs/gluten/dairy/blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…  I HATE giving things up!  And I wondered why I was never able to follow through with my resolutions.

See, there is a basic formula for success in anything in life is:

Success = Burning Desire x Belief x Expectancy x Action

And the thing we have to realize is that if any one of those terms is missing (a 0 on the scale from 0-10), then our chance of success is also ZERO!  I did not have BURNING DESIRE to “give up” things, so that variable was a “0” – the math holds – ZERO chance of success.

34141757_sThe past few years, I ditched resolutions and made real goals!  My goals are about bringing things INTO my life, not removing things from it.  It’s an entirely different consciousness.

Do I still want to lose weight?  Hell yes, I do, but I reframe the goal… Now, it’s about achieving my optimal racing weight so that my performance is optimized, not just about shedding pounds.

Now, most of the time, most of my goals scare the crap out of me, because I have absolutely no clue HOW I an going to achieve them.  But I choose things that I want badly – as badly as I want to breathe.  I BELIEVE I an achieve them and I EXPECT that I will achieve them.  And then, I take ACTION toward them each and every day.

And guess what?  I have achieved pretty much every goal I have set for myself over the past couple of years – baby step by baby step – one day at a time.  As I was setting my goals for 2014, back in the Fall of 2013, I knew I wanted to run a half marathon.  I was not a runner, and when I tried to run I found I was plagued with injuries.  I didn’t know HOW to run or how to train to run properly, so I hired a coach who did know – someone who had already achieved every goal I aspired to in the athletic world.  And workout-by-workout, day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by month – with Coach Pam’s help and guidance – I ran my half marathon, and it was awesome.  And then I went on to run a few more AND even my first full marathon last year… I kept moving forward each day until I crossed the finish line.

And that’s what we all have to do, right?  Decide what we want to accomplish… Make it a big, scary, juicy goal so that it inspires us and drives us to keep going… Go as far as we can see and then when we get there we’ll be able to see how to go farther… And never, ever quit!

GCTLogoBeach2Battleship-Iron-Distance-TriathlonIn 2015, my athletic goal is to conquer the half-iron distance triathlon – 70.3 miles of swimming, biking, and running.  I’d really like to do it in under 6-1/2 hours – under 6 would be amaze balls!!  I have 2 half-irons on my race schedule, and training starts on Monday.  Just keep moving forward and trust my coach, trust my body, and keep loading the hay in the barn.

I wish you all the happiness, health, abundance, and prosperity you can stand in the New Year!

2014 In Review

2014_in_review_image1_1_1Well, here we are, another year is in the books – and my what a year it has been!

Sometimes, we all get so wrapped up in our day-to-day grind that it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, and it’s only when we hover above all the minutia and really take a “bird’s eye view” that we can see how far we’ve come!

2014 was an #epicwin year for me!!  I accomplished so much!

Personally, I celebrated both my 1 year and year and a half anniversaries of wine-sobriety.  That’s right, sports fans, I have not had a drop of vino since May 5, 2013.  And that’s a HUGE deal for a chick who, in my hey day, used to pound down at least 4 bottles of wine per week!

Deb and I celebrated our 4th year together, which makes me a really lucky gal, four times over!

Josh headed off to middle school and is doing terrific.  What a great kid he is!!  He was diagnosed with ADHD and gluten/dairy intolerances this year and has just taken it all in stride.  Amazing!  Erin headed off to the University of Maryland (College Park) on January 3rd and is a Junior majoring in English and doing incredible.  Nicki is a sophomore at Stetson University double majoring in Religious Studies and Psychology and is also excelling.  We have 3 really smart kids!!! 🙂

Business-wise, 2014 was a breakthrough year for us!  The speaking calendar was full, including a huge national convention in Dallas in August, and several regional trainings for the same company.  We launched several new products, and organized a 5K race to raise money for domestic and family violence awareness.  It was so successful and garnered so much positive attention, that we incorporated our non-profit entity, Building Remarkable Communities, Inc., and are organizing an entire racing series in 2015 consisting of 5K, 10K, and 15K running events spaced 3 months apart so people can progressively and safely train to the next distance.

old_meAthletically, it was an awesome year!  I came into the year a newbie runner – previously having run no more than a really, slow, sloppy 10K .  In February, I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  Then I took some time off from racing pursuits to train for my karate black belt test in July (which I somehow passed).  In August, I picked Swim-Bike-Run back up in a major way to prepare for my first solo Olympic Distance Race at Battle of the Bridges.  Then in October, shifted into pure running mode, as I prepared to take on my longest distance run ever – a full marathon – at the Space Coast Marathon. Along the way, I ran a couple of half marathons and some 5Ks (including a PR 5K at the Operation Changing Lives 5K ).   And to put the proverbial cherry on top of 2014, in October, I was named to the 2015 Swim-Bike-Mom Ambassador Team, which means I, along with 27 other amazing women, get to spread the word that triathlon is for every woman – no matter their size, shape, age – triathlon is a big tent and there is room for everyone!

2014 in Review: 
Swam: 17.98 miles
Biked: 1,156.72 miles
Ran: 573.11 miles
Longest Swim: 3200 yds
Longest Bike: 112.01 miles
Longest Run: 26.2 miles

Looking to 2015, I can only say BRING IT ON!!!  Officially, I will be virtually running the 3 races in our race series; I am running a half-marathon relay at the Melbourne Music Marathon Weekend on 2/1 with my friend and swim buddy, Megan White; Gulf Coast 70.3 triathlon on 5/9; and Beach2Battleship 70.3 triathlon on 10/17.  There will likely be some additional sprint and oly triathlons, as well as some half marathons and other 5K/10K events TBD.

My goal in 2015 is to run 100 miles each month – not sure how that’s supposed to happen, but I am assured that it can be done.

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2015?

bring-it

Only 150 Days…

keep-calm-only-150-days-leftWhen I think about most things, I think of 150 days as being a pretty long way away…

When I think about a trip being 150 days away, it seems pretty far out there…

When I think about a work deadline being 150 days away, it feels totally doable…

GCTLogoBut when I was reminded yesterday that Gulf Coast Triathlon 70.3 is 150 days away, I freaked!  WHAT?  ONLY 150 days?  OH.MY.GOD!!! 😮

In 150 (now 149) days, I have to swim 1.2 miles in the Gulf of Mexico – and it’s not a “swim out past the break and then swim parallel to shore” type swim… It’s a “swim 1/2 mile out to sea, and then turn around and swim back” type of swim – THAT scares the heck out of me…

Then I have to get on my bike and pedal 56 miles…

THEN, I get to dismount the bike and run a half marathon…

It will likely be a 6-8 hour day – the longest race I have ever attempted.

And it’s only 149 days away.

I had planned to take the month of December off from structured training, but now I’m kind of scared to do that.  I’m scared I lose all that I’ve built over the past 6 months.

I know it’s important to rest and recover after the season, and I AM taking it easier, and I AM taking the week between Christmas and New Years off (consider that my off-season, I guess).

Coach Pam is busily preparing my training plan that starts 1/2/15.  I have a huge time goal for my first 70.3 and I know that the only way it’s going to happen is to stay true to my training, train hard, train smart, and no slacking.

I think I’m up for the challenge!

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