It’s All Fun and Games Until The Bib Numbers Come Out!

It’s All Fun and Games Until The Bib Numbers Come Out!

About 11 months ago, my dear training BFF, Meg, and I got the bright idea to register for Ironman Texas in 2019. We had such a fine time at Ironman Florida in 2016, it seemed only natural that we reprise our roles and jump into the insanity that is Ironman once again.

We waited… And we waited… And we waited some more until the glorious day – July 18, 2018 – when registration finally opened for the 2019 race. We held our breath, put in our credit card numbers and hit the submit button.

DONE!

I updated the “Countdown” on my Garmin screen and it read 283 days. 283 days… It sounded like all the time in the world! My training block wouldn’t officially start until October – everything seemed so FUTURE!

But, as time has a way of doing – especially once you hit middle-age – those 283 days have blown past – well, 247 of them anyhow – and here I sit 36 days away from the start of my 2nd Ironman 140.6 race. Tomorrow, I have a 4 hour bike ride… The next 14 days are the “peak” of the peak training block – century rides, 3 hour runs, long, long swims. It’s both terrifying and exciting, all at the same time.

This morning, I noticed that the Athlete Guide for the 2019 race had been uploaded to the race site. This afternoon, the Bib List was uploaded. You know, it’s all shits and giggles until they assign you a bib number!

So, 36 days to go… hundreds of miles of training hay still to put in the barn. There is only one thing that I know for sure… Everything being equal and disasters aside, I CAN DO THIS! I’ve done it before. I’ve overcome A LOT to get to this point and I’m 15 pounds lighter and a world more experienced than I was in 2016. Will I be fast? Probably not… Will I finish? Oh yeah, just watch me!

What’s Next!

What’s Next!

“What’s Next?”  It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for a couple of months now.  Trying to figure out what my “A” Race for 2017 should be was not nearly as simple as it has been in year’s past.  At the end of 2014 I knew I wanted to step up to a half-iron distance race (or two), so I easily chose Gulf Coast Triathlon 70.3 and Beach 2 Battleship 70.3.  At the end of 2015, I knew I wanted to fulfill my Ironman dreams, so (albeit with some angst and stress) I registered for Ironman Florida for 2016.

But this year is different – and difficult!  Signing up for another Ironman feels like the most normal and natural thing to do, but as I teased apart in my post on the Post-Ironman Blues, that’s not a good enough reason to put my body, my business, and my family through another Iron-year!  So, I was looking for a race that would be a challenge, but not require the ridiculous time commitment of a full iron-distance race.  I thought about just making 2017 the year of the sprint triathlon, but even though they are fun, I prefer long-course and I have a hard time getting myself motivated to train properly for them.  I know that I could embrace it if I focused on the right things, but I’m just not feeling it.  I thought about registering for one or two 70.3 races, but the ones I really WANT to race are not a good match with my calendar (IM Gulf Coast 70.3 is on the same day as our daughter’s college graduation, and IM Eagleman 70.3 and IM Augusta 70.3 are both on days when our non-profit holds races).

gft-logoI hemmed and hawed… I thought about not racing at all and just plowing into our business this year – afterall, I took so much time away from it this year, it seems only fair.  Then, I positively GRIEVED over the thought of not having a nice, juicy race goal on my schedule, so Deb told me I HAD to race SOMETHING!  Then, one day about a month ago, I got an email marketing piece from Sommer Sports advertising the Great Floridian Triathlon on October 21, 2017.  This race is marketed as the 2nd oldest full iron distance triathlon in the continental US.  But it’s not just a full iron race!  There are also 1/3 and 2/3 distance races on the same day.

Essentially, the GFT course in Clermont, FL is broken down into a 0.8 mile triangular swim in Lake Minneola, a 37.3 mile bike loop (described as a “hilly beast” in one review I read – yes, there ARE hills in Florida and apparently, they are ALL in Clermont!), and a 8.73 mile run course.  The 1/3 distance racers make 1 loop of each… the 2/3 racers, make 2 loops, and the ultra (full-iron) racers make 3 loops.

swim       bike     run

My training buddy, Megan, had done the bike and run legs of the 1/3 distance in October on a relay team as a lead up to Ironman Florida and she said it was a tough course – a lot like this year’s modified IM Augusta 70.3.  My iron-friends, Beth and Malachi, said it was very similar to the IMLOU course.  The more I thought about it, the more it resonated with me.  I liked the thought of the 2/3 distance!  It was longer than a 70.3 ( it’s 92.6 miles) so it would still require a stout training effort.  It had a very hilly bike course and I’ve never raced in hills before.  And, as a bonus, Clermont is only 90 minutes from my house, so I can train on the actual course and we don’t have to travel far for the race.  And let’s discuss that the registration fee was only $250 (as opposed to $380 for IM Augusta 70.3)…

I messaged Megan, who has been going through her own “What’s Next” battle, and asked “How do we feel about GFT 2/3?”  We bantered a bit and she liked the idea too.  So, yet another year of training together is set to commence.  I am terrific-ly excited about this!  I went ahead and pushed the “Register” button yesterday morning.  Here we go again!  T-minus 305 days to go!!!gft

Things I Wish I Had Known BEFORE I Signed Up For An Ironman…

ironmanlogoWell, here we are in mid-August and it’s been 3 full months since I posted on this blog.  Why?  IRONMAN

See, that’s my blanket response for everything that has gone wrong, everything I have forgotten, procrastinated, messed up, or otherwise needed to come up with an excuse for.

Seriously, it’s a joke in my family about now…
Deb: “Ang, did you get those mushrooms at the market?”
Me:  “Oh crap, I totally forgot!”
Deb:  “I know, I know… IRONMAN…”

Ugh!

As of today, there are 82 days before I get this particular monkey off my back and can hopefully rejoin the world of productive adults.  Until then?  Well, it is what it is!

I have learned a lot over the past 4 months and there are some things that I wish I had known BEFORE I ever registered for an Ironman.  I mean, some of them are kinda “duh” things, but I guess I never really teased it all apart in my brain beforehand.  So, for those of you who may be interested in climbing the Ironman mountain at some point, here’s my list:

  1. repeatIt’s a part-time job…  Only it’s harder than any job I’ve EVER had in my life!!  I just started the “peak” phase of my training plan this morning.  This week, I will work out for 18-1/2 HOURS. That doesn’t count the time involved in packing bags, filling bottles, commuting to/from the gym, doing laundry, showering (more on that later)…  and this is only Week #1 of Peak…  It just gets better (worse) from here… At the “peak” of “Peak” it’s 22 hours.  LAWD!  And before you say “Oh boo hoo, poor you…” I know, I totally signed up for this myself – no one was twisting my arm.  I own it all!  I’m just putting it out there – Ironman takes a TON of time.
  2. im-sorry-post-itYou will fuck up… A LOT!  I can’t tell you the number of times I have said “I’m sorry” to Deb or one of our kids or Freddie or my Mom or a client, because I have Ironman brain and can’t keep a thought in my head to save my life.  Case in point:  My son’s first day of 8th grade was today.  Yesterday Deb asked me if all was good to go with the morning bus schedule.  Wide-eyed, I just blinked at her… Bus schedule?  Was I supposed to do something there?  I quickly banged out a web address and sure enough, Josh was not assigned to a bus.  SHIT!  Fortunately, there are a lot of middle-schoolers in our neighborhood, so the bus did indeed stop this morning and he did make it to school… Whew!
  3. You will miss out on stuff…  Because training takes a lot of time, you’re going to miss some stuff – maybe even important stuff.  I’ve missed swim meets, kisses goodbye in the morning, meetings, travel opportunities, parties, dinners out, and more because I was either training or going to bed while the sun was still up so I could get up the next morning to train…  This morning was Josh’s first day of school… and I missed sending him off to the bus for the first time ever… Yeah, put me up for Mom of the Year, stat!
  4. tiredYou will be tired…  I think this kind of goes without saying, and of course I knew I would be tired, but I was ill-prepared for the type of bone-crushing exhaustion that I feel almost every day.  I do sleep in on my Rest Days, but OMG!  I’m TIRED!!  Most mornings I wake up at 3:15am so I can do my personal development (don’t ask, it’s just my jam) before I head to the pool at 5am or get on the trainer.  I try to get to my desk in the office by 9am, work until 5pm, pick up Josh from swim team, eat dinner, and go to bed by 8:00pm, so I can do it all again the next day.
  5. You will stink… Dear LORD, why didn’t anyone tell me about the SMELL?  So today, I had a brick workout that went from 5am-8am and then I had errands to run.  I skidded into my office at 9:03 and sat down to work.  Shower?  I had no time for a shower… And so, I minimized my contact with people and grabbed a shower at lunch time.  :/  Triathlon STINKS!
  6. hungryYou will be constantly hungry…  I thought I was hungry when I was pregnant with Josh.  Pregnancy hunger has NOTHING on Ironman hunger!  I feel like I eat all the time.  It is not uncommon to catch me with my head in the refrigerator with a rice cake in one hand and an open container of hummus in the other double dipping like a crazy person!
  7. You will be bi-polar…  While we’re on the subject of pregnancy, you know how emotional pregnant women are?  Yeah, THAT!  I find myself in a heap in my closet or in the shower WAY too often, just crying it out.  Trying to figure out how the hell I got myself into this mess.  Wondering if there is a way I can get OUT of this mess without eating crow.   Pretty sure that I am losing my ever-loving mind!  I guess it goes hand in hand with #4.  And I thought it was just me, but I got a text from my training partner this weekend who was packing for a century ride and was sitting on the floor of her garage sobbing.  I guess it’s not just me…  Then there are other days when I feel like the Queen of the World and NOTHING can bring me down.
  8. You will feel so guilty and selfish… I don’t know how you get around this one.  You’re going to take time away from your family – you just will, so make peace with it or feel guilty about it.  I feel guilty about this all the time – and I have the most supportive group of cheerleaders EVER (my family) in my corner.  And yet, every time I head out in the dark on a  Saturday morning and know that I’m not going to be home until late afternoon, I feel so guilty about it.  Triathlon is a very selfish sport.
  9. Malachi-MegIt takes a village…  There may be those people who can survive an Ironman training cycle on their own, but I am not one of them.  I am 51 years old, people, and I have a freaking TEAM of people who routinely put Humpty-Dumpty back together again!  My training partner, Megan, keeps me sane and motivated and tells me that I “can,” even when I’m pretty sure that I “can’t.”  My chiropractor, Malachi, keeps me rolling and running on feet that do not like this whole running/biking thing. And then there’s a whole legion of people in my Swim-Bike-Fuel community who keep me grounded and eating what I should rather than what I want in any given moment (pizza/ice cream/cake/donuts/froyo…).
  10. You will amaze yourself time after time…  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have been dumbfounded at the end of a workout.  Maybe it was just because I lived through it… Maybe it was a new PR time in the pool… Maybe (like on my birthday) it was averaging 20 mph over 60 miles on the bike (thanks Malachi 🙂 )…  I have shocked the hell out of myself over and over again.  It truly is amazing what the human body is capable of if we just get out of our own way!

Look, I’m just a middle of the pack age-grouper.  I’m never going to win a long-course triathlon – EVER.  I’m never going to qualify for Kona.  And that’s okay.  Triathlon is HARD!  Ironman is HARDER!  But, as Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, the hard is what makes it GREAT!  I’m really looking forward to crossing the finish line on November 5th and joining a club to which only 0.01% of the people on Planet Earth can claim membership.  That will really put an exclamation point on the major transformation I’ve undergone over the past 6-1/2 years.  It may not be fast and it may not be pretty, but one way or another, I’ll get there.

So even though I’m stinky and scatter-brained and walk around like a starving zombie most of the time and cry at the drop of a hat and feel like a horrible Mom and partner sometimes, at the end of the day I am pretty damned proud of myself.

Oh, and if I can do it, ANYONE can do it!!

ironman florida 230x120

#82days #iCANdothis #IMFL2016

Here We Grow!

13119690_mIt’s been a while since I last posted.  To say it’s been busy around here is the understatement of the century.  Deb and I spent the month of March on the road with a terrific group of folks from Ambit Energy, traveling around the country training their team.  It was great fun and we met some amazing people, but WOW, was it exhausting!  And the piles that we returned home to – OMG!  I am happy to say that I have just about caught up with everything… Finally… Mostly…

See me fly?

See me fly?

So, when we last met, I had just returned from our awesome (but unseasonably chilly and rainy) trip to Key West.  We had a really good time.  And for the most part, I achieved my goal of not eating my way across the island.  There was one slight mishap on the exercise front though.  On the first day of our trip I woke up bright and early to head our for a 1 hour run.  I had mapped out a beautiful route along the water before we left home and all was well until about 30 minutes in I found myself face down on the pavement out of nowhere.  My first thought – as I was falling – was that I had tripped on something, but no, that wasn’t quite right because I was flying through the air…  In actuality I had been plowed into from behind by a kid (maybe 12-13 years old) on a bike who was trying to avoid a puddle on the sidewalk on his way to school and he just didn’t see me.  I came down hard on my left hand and knee (one would think after doing all those front falls in karate over the years, that would have been my default, but notsomuch 😦 ).

After making sure we were both okay, the boy and I parted ways and I did what any sane, normal person would do.  I turned my bloody, sore self around and ran the other half of my workout back to our condo.  My knee was fine – just a nasty scrape.  My wrist was not so fine.  Any lateral or backward bending hurt – a lot.  We went to Walgreens and I bought a wrist support and then I texted my chiropractor friend, Malachi, and asked for his advice.  He recommended a trip to urgent care for an x-ray.  So, the next morning – on Deb’s birthday – we spent several hours at Advanced Urgent Care.  The x-ray did not show a break and I got another super-cool wrist splint and was told not to use it for a week).

Anyhow, that was my excitement.  To be honest, it’s just now (over 2 months later) that my wrist doesn’t hurt.  I’m not so sure the x-rays weren’t wrong, but it’s all good now.

Pics from the trip (yep, mostly food…):

KW-collage

Did more treats slip in than I would have liked?  Yes, of course (case in point, the frozen slice of key lime pie dipped in dark chocolate that I conveniently forgot to snap a picture of… 😉  If you haven’t tried this, you must – it was AH-MAZING!!!).  But all in all, I was pretty pleased with the decisions I made.

Then we launched into March with travel to Stockton, CA; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; and Erie, PA.  Crazy busy, but so, so fun!

SBF        M-and-M

Fun and games came to a screeching halt on April 1st!  I signed up for “Swim-Bike-Fuel” – a one month nutritional training program for triathletes presented by USAT Triathlon Coach, Meredith Atwood (aka SwimBikeMom) and Sports Nutritionist, Meredith Vieceli.  We’re not even half way through the month and I have learned so much terrific information.  Some of it is new.  Most of it supports what I already knew, but had forgotten, or just wasn’t being consistent with.  I need to be very intentional, not just with my training, but also with my fueling to get me to the finish line at Ironman Florida in 205 days (but who’s counting… 😮 ) and I will do whatever I have to do to show up as my very best self on race day.

On April 11th, my 30 week Ironman training program started and next Sunday (4/24) I have my first triathlon of the season at St. Anthony’s in St. Pete Beach, FL.  It’s been a stout training week and I just finished a 9 mile run that my body just didn’t want to do.  I told my friends that it was like a toddler in Target who didn’t get the toy they wanted – every part of me was bitching and whining and crying to stop, but I just kept moving forward… slowly, but forward nonetheless, and soon enough it was over.  I kinda want to curl up into the fetal position when I think about having to do that run 2 more times after more than 100 miles on a bike and more than 2 miles of swimming.  It seems impossible in the present moment, but every worthy goal always does until you grow into the person who achieves those goals.  I have 205 days to grow baby, GROW!!

grow

The Law of Relativity

normal-illusion-spider-fly-quoteTwo weeks ago, I felt the need to invoke the Law of Relativity.

You know, that universal law that states that nothing has meaning until we compare it to something else.

As my 2nd 70.3 triathlon approached, I NEEDED to have something much worse to compare my measly 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike to that made it seem… EASY (a half marathon sucks all the time, I don’t care who you are) by comparison.

So, my BTF (best triathlon friend), Megan, and I decided to do 2/3 of an Ironman triathlon.

2-4-swimOn Friday morning, we met at the pool and swam 2.4 miles – and it was hard, but it wasn’t hard at all until about the 3500 yd point (refer to my previous post on the 75% Rule of The Suck), so 1.2 miles (or 2,112 yds) is a piece of cake – especially at Beach 2 Battleship where the swim is with the tidal current.

Then on Saturday morning, we over near Orlando to a trail system and rode 2 56 mile loops – 112 miles on the bike.  And it sucked and was really hard and really hilly!  But it wasn’t hard until about the 85 mile mark.  So my measly 56 mile bike on flat roads at Beach 2 Battleship should be a piece of cake, right?

112-milesPiece of cake swim + piece of cake bike + hang on for dear life on the run = PR 70.3, right?

Well, that’s the plan, anyhow.  We’ll see how it actually goes down next Saturday.

I ran 6 miles this morning and it felt terrific.  If I can manage to pull together a decent run next week, I have a really good shot at a sub-6 hour half-iron race, which would be pretty cool indeed!

After tomorrow’s ride and Sunday’s swim/run we’re in Taperville and all bets are off.

Tune in next week to see if I manage to keep my sanity or if I completely self-sabotage – there’s a 50/50 shot!

T-minus 7 days to go!Beach2Battleship-Iron-Distance-Triathlon

The 75% Rule of “The Suck”

the-suckI have been playing around with endurance athletic events for a couple of years now.  I’ve run several half-marathons (Disney Princess 2014, Lighthouse Loop 2014, Reindeer Racer 2014, Melbourne Music 2015, Tomoka Half 2015), a full marathon (Space Coast 2014), a half iron-distance triathlon (Gulf Coast Triathlon 70.3 2015), and I’m about to tackle my 2nd 70.3 at Beach2Battleship in 2 weeks and then embark upon training for Ironman Florida (or other 140.6) in 2016.  To prepare for these events, I’ve logged thousands of training/racing miles (to be precise:  Swimming: 120.63 miles; Biking:  3,699.48 miles; Running:  1,079.74 miles) and I have come to the conclusion that there is a phenomenon in play that I have dubbed “The 75% Rule of ‘The Suck.'”

The 75% Rule states that any workout/race will feel awesome up to the 75% of total time and/or distance prescribed, at which point it will SUCK!

I have looked back over my own training logs and blog entries and this rule seems to bear out over and over again – whether it is a 2 mile training run, a 5K race, a marathon or a 70.3.

Of course, I am a completely unscientific sample size of ONE, but the rule tends to hold.

At Space Coast Marathon last year, I felt AWESOME until about the 19.5 mile mark… 75%

At GCT in May, I was golden until about mile 43 of the bike when my feet started going numb… 75% (the run sucked the entire way because of cramping – another story)

Last Wednesday, I had a 12 mile training run and everything was awesome until 9 miles – then I was pretty sure death was imminent… 75%

On Saturday, Megan and I went over to Clermont and rode 112 miles.  I felt FANTASTIC through the entire first loop (56 miles) and even into the 2nd loop.  The wheels started coming off at about 85 miles, when I really just wanted to throw my bike in a ditch and walk back to the car… 75%

Heck, even yesterday I had a simple 3 mile run and I swore I was going to die at the 2-1/4 mile mark… 75%

womens-running-t-shirt-embrace-the-suck_designObviously there is a major mindset thing at work here.  I need to come up with a way to honestly fool myself into thinking I have to go further than I really have to go.  If I could persuade my mind to believe that I have to run 10 miles when I really only have to run 7 or that I have to ride 75 miles when I really only have to go 56…

I’m usually pretty good with the mind games, but I would love to hear how you “trick” your mind during long (or short) workouts.  Leave your thoughts in the “Comments” section below.

Of course, at the end of the day, I know that the point at which the workout begins to “suck” is the point at which I start improving.  So, while I look for this magic mindset that will conquer the 75% Rule, I will take solace in the fact that every day, with every workout, I get just a little bit better.

embrace-the-suck

Bubble Wrap and My Love of The Bike Trainer

bubble-wrapIt seems that my friends on the Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Team are slowly trying to kill themselves!  In the past couple of weeks there have been multiple bike crashes with potentially race cancelling results, a busted toe, cuts, scrapes, contusions…  It’s enough to make me want to wrap myself in bubble wrap until October 17th!

THIS, my people, is one of the many reasons why I choose to do 80% of my cycling training on the trainer.  There are plenty of people, including a lot of my friends, who think I am doing myself a disservice by spending so much time on the trainer.  And they may be right, but the trainer works for ME!  Could I be a better technical cyclist if I rode outdoors more?  Probably.  Will I ever win a triathlon with or without more on the road time?  Uhm, NO!

pottsdellcary

Gratuitous pic of Andy coming up out of the swim…. Soooo pretty!

Pro triathlete, Andy Potts, trains almost exclusively on trainer. He’s won a bunch of 70.3 and 140.6 distance races over the past years.  He says, “The only time I ride outside is when I race; otherwise I am always on my CompuTrainer.”  Why?  He’s a professional triathlete, he can train where he likes, why does he choose a trainer.  Because, if you do a trainer session right (and note I said IF), it can be a more effective cycling workout than out on the road.2012_03_Power_Up_Andy_Potts_16

 

Think about it, you control your cycling workout – 100%!  There are no stop lights… no intersections… no cars or trucks buzzing by you with only inches to spare… no rough pavement…  no animals running out in front of your path… you don’t have to worry about the weather or getting stuck miles from home with a flat or a mechanical issue… you can test out new hydration and fueling strategies without worrying about “issues” popping up… you are always working since there is not coasting… and so on.  It’s very controllable.

Now, you can’t put your bike up on the trainer, hop on and spin with zero intention and little or no resistance and expect to get better.  I have specific workouts that I do on the trainer and I am a sopping wet MESS at the end.

AND, I can hear my tri-friends saying that you HAVE to ride outdoors to prepare for race day conditions – what if it’s windy… what if it’s raining… yada, yada, yada.

I DO ride outdoors sometimes… I just ride on the trainer MOST of the time.

IMAG0053Plus, I think riding on the trainer builds mental toughness like nothing else.  I know people who would rather gouge their eyes out with a spoon than ride their bike on the trainer.  I get it – It’s BORING as F–K!!!  But ride 112 miles on your trainer and tell me you don’t feel like a major badass when it’s over!  Like there’s NOTHING you can’t do!

Another big plus FOR ME about riding on the trainer is that I can get up early and get a long ride in before my family wakes up.  THIS IS HUGE FOR ME!!!  My family is awesome and they are so supportive of this crazy triathlon thing I’m doing.  I train between 10-15 hours per week preparing for a half-iron distance race and I don’t feel right about stealing that time away from my partner and my son when I already work 50-60 hours per week in my business.

I will NOT ride in the dark – it scares the hell out of me.  God love you people who do it, but I can’t make myself go there.

And at the end of the day, I am a safe cyclist on race day – I follow the race rules, I keep my distance from other riders, I pass appropriately, I am mindful of traffic, I am respectful of what CAN happen on a bike course.

And I train 80% of the time in my living room.

Hey, if it’s good enough for Andy, it’s certainly good enough for me!

Okay, just one more

Okay, just one more

 

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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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

RACE REPORT: 2014 Battle of the Bridges Triathlon

battle-bridgesMy only triathlon of 2014 was this past weekend in Melbourne, FL.  The 16th Annual Battle of the Bridges triathlon featured Sprint distance and Olympic distance races.  I decided to step it up a notch and throw my hat into the Olympic distance ring for the first time.

The race consisted of a 1500m swim, a 43km bike, and a 10k run.

The weather in east central Florida was a bit cooler than normal and VERY rainy the week before the race, and it even unexpectedly rained the night before the race.  Rich (aka Shark Bait) had gone down to pick up his race packet and drive the course on Thursday and called in with some recon.  The major concern of the entire course was a small metal drawbridge that we had to go over that, if wet, would be slick as ice!  Other than that it was, as its name suggested, “Bridge-y,” which is, of course, about as close to HILLY as we get in Florida, outside of Clermont.

BBT-swimDeb and I drove down to Melbourne on Saturday afternoon, picked up my race pack, checked into the hotel, and then headed out to check out the swim venue, drive the bike course, and grab a good dinner.

I had never actually seen a 1 mile swim course laid out in a single loop before – usually it’s been lesser distances that you had to swim multiple times.  No doubt my swim is my weak link in triathlon, so seeing how far I had to go right there in front of my face was intimidating to say the least!  The bike course left the transition area and went about 5 miles north, turned to the east over Pineda Causeway, then south on Patrick Drive on the beach side, then we jogged right over a drawbridge, and back north on Merrick Island (the road had speed humps every mile, which made the ride interesting), then BACK over Pineda Causeway, back down Patrick, to the Eau Gallie Causeway, then into T2.  A very doable course.

1411934924005-Battle-of-the-Bridges-Triathlon-5We went to Squid Lips for dinner which was right on the water at the base of the Eau Gallie Causeway so I could spend my dinner staring at the 8 buoys  would be swimming around the following morning.  Great food and, of course, I had to get am official “Squid Lips” t-shirt! 🙂

Per usual, I slept GREAT from 9pm-2:30am and then couldn’t sleep well the rest of the night… So many thoughts blow through my mind the night before a big event – and I could hear that it was raining outside… SUPER!

We arrived at Pineapple Park at 5:45am.  Happily, the rain was gone and since I was early there weren’t that many people there yet,  I got bodymarked, got my transition spot laid out, got my tires pumped and my bike racked, found my timing chip, ate my peanut butter and banana sandwich, had a cup of coffee, and – of course – hit the port-o-potty!  I was nervous, but excited.  A new adventure lay ahead of me and I was eager to see what I could do.

b_IMG_1311-MAt 7:00 the Olympic distance racers were called into the water.  It was lovely!  81.5 degrees and calm and flat – it felt AWESOME!!.  The sunrise was gorgeous!  The race started in 3 waves – 39 and under men, then 40 and over men 3 minutes later, and then all the women and relay teams 3 minutes after that.  My only concern in the swim was just whether or not I could really swim that far – AND how far off course I would drift.  I trained a good bit in the pool, but I only had 2 practice open water swims, so it was a tad sketchy.  And, true to form as we started, a whole pack of us drifted way left and had to course correct – apparently  the announcer who was getting the sprint racers set up had a bit of fun at our expense back on shore.

c_2_IMG_0092-MOnce I rounded the first buoy, I felt good – nothing to do but swim… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, site, repeat.  The buoys went by one at a time and before I knew it, I was at the turn back to the pier.  “Before I knew it” was actually 40+ minutes, but it really didn’t FEEL that long.  Lots of work to do on the swim in the off season, but that’s just fine – plenty of time – and we have a great Masters group here.

A quick run into T1 and I was off on the bike.

d_2_IMG_0078-MI felt really good on the bike.  I felt pretty fast and I felt strong.  I passed lots of people, making up for my slow swim.  I “hunted” – I got someone in my sites and then I picked them off, one by one.  It was fun.  The bridges were fine – the Dunlawton Bridge and all this bridge repeats Coach Pam had me do in training prepared me well.

About 3/4 the way down Patrick the first time a very speedy young woman on a very sweet bike blew past me.  I stepped it up a notch and was able to keep up with her (maybe a little too well because I got a drafting penalty somewhere along the way even though I was very careful to keep the 3 bike lengths between us – OOPS!).  When we made the turn to head over to Merrick Island and head back north the volunteers on the road said to stay left on the drawbridge.  We both hit the bridge on the left, but then for some unknown reason the speedy woman cut back right and it was like she hit glare ice!  Her bike flew out from under her and she literally bounced along the metal bridge, then the slid, and then she rolled.  OMG!  It was so scary – it was like it was happening in slow motion!  I knew she was hurt.  I looked around to see if I should stop (I would want someone to stop for me).  Obviously, she wasn’t the first person who bit it hard on that bridge because EMS was right there – lights flashing the minute she hit the ground.  Thank God!  I found out later that she actually got up and finished the bike leg!!!  She didn’t continue on the run, but DAMN – that takes serious guts!

A bit shaken from what I saw on the bridge, I was more cautious than I normally would have been on the stretch of road with the speed humps and lost a little time, but keeping the big picture in mind – it’s a weekend warrior race – I’m not contending for a win in Kona and I would like to have MANY more races in my life – no need to be stupid and get hurt.

Coming down the backside of the Eau Gallie Causeway I suddenly realized  that the road was quite wet and I was flying down the backside of the bridge.  Small brake pumps, easy, easy… and I finally slowed down to safely make the turn to T2.

Battle of the Bridges 2014-09-27 034About a mile into the run, my left quad seized up hard as a rock and short of having a foam roller delivered to the course, nothing was working to make it let go.  Running hurt A LOT!  Walking hurt too, but not as bad.  I did my best to execute my plan, but let’s be honest, there was A LOT of walking happening.  I tried getting mad and pushing through the pain, but then there was this niggling voice in the back of my mind reminding me that Marathon training kicks into a much higher gear on Tuesday and I honestly felt like I was doing myself damage.  So I walked a bunch.  So what?

Battle of the Bridges 2014-09-27 060My normal 54 minute 10K turned into a 1:15 10K… In the grand scheme of things, who cares?  I finished with a smile and got a really nice t-shirt and medal for my efforts!

At the end of the day, here’s what my race looked like:

Swim (1 mi): 41:47 (2/5 AG)

T1: 2:23

Bike (26.9 mi):  1:29:34 (4/5 AG)

T2:  2:47

Run (6.2 mi):  1:15:15 (5/5 AG)

Total Time:  3:31:43 + 2 minute STOOPID drafting penalty = 3:33:43 (4/5 in age group)

I would totally do this race again – it was really well organized, very well supported, and the racing community down south is really competitive and awesome.

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