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 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

The Day I Quit Triathlon

I Quit Note Isolated on whiteLast week I quit triathlon.  Yes, you heard me right.

I QUIT!!!

For like 20 whole minutes!

You see, I’ve been training my butt off for my upcoming half-iron distance race at Beach 2 Battleship in October and I really thought I was making progress.

Faster swim… check

Stronger bike…check

But my run… LAWD, my run!

You see, I have bad feet.  I don’t if they just genetically suck, or it it’s the fact that they are so damned big that something was bound to go wrong with them, but running makes them hurt.

And not just achy-suck-it-up-buttercup-it’s-distance-running-and-it’s-supposed-to-hurt kind of hurting, but knives-stabbing-into-the-balls-of-my-foot kind of hurting on any run over about 6 miles.  So, I’ve been running on the elliptical machine for almost all of my runs since June.

Fast-forward to last Wednesday…

Megan and I decided to run our virtual Remarkable River Racing Series 15Ks (9.3 miles) early that morning.  I can’t run the events live because I am so bogged down with race management duties on race day and Megan wanted to volunteer on the course, hence the virtual runs.

We met up at 6:30am and started running and all was well until about the 5 mile point when the wheels started to come off the bus.  Oh, did I mention that I fueled this 15K on a banana?

ONE stupid banana for 9.3 miles – What in the actual F*#K was I thinking?

At 6 miles my right foot felt like I was pushing off a bed of nails with each stride.  I had to pee really bad too.  😦

At the top of the bridge

At the top of the bridge

Thankfully, we encountered a port-o-potty on the route or things could have gotten gross.  I’m just sayin…

Then, there was the bridge.  I was already dying and we had to run the bridge – well, walk/run the bridge… Well, walk UP the bridge and run down the other side… (heavy sigh).

We weaved through a neighborhood and then headed BACK over the bridge…  WHO designed this stupid course anyhow? Oh wait, I did!  Crap!!

My calves were sending up these electrical pulses that made my legs want to collapse out from under me, but we somehow finished.

God bless Megan for not dropping my sorry butt – because, she surely could have.  I was pitiful!

Somehow we finished the 9.3 miles.  My time was wretched…  My legs were aching and my feet were wrecked.

And I have a half-ironman in 5 weeks?  This was NOT good.

I went home and in the shower I made my decision – I QUIT!

That run had shaken my confidence.  I should not struggle with 9 miles at this stage of the game.  Obviously the elliptical is not building my run strength the way my coach and I had hoped.

And then I went into my office and looked at my training schedule…  Sooo much work has been done and so much work is left to be done.

And I don’t like to quit… EVER!

So, RRRS5KI re-decided that I would really give these next 4 build weeks my all – and that I would run outside as much as possible to build my run back.  Heck, I ran a marathon not so long ago, and muscle has memory, right?  I can do this! And besides, I LOVE TRIATHLON!!

On Saturday, I was still aching from my 15K adventure and I had a 2.5 hour bike ride and a 50 minute run brick on my schedule.  I was dreading it so much.  I promised to run with my almost 13-year old son who IS running the 15K this Sunday.  We stuck to our neighborhood.  I took it slow – run the straight stretches and walk the cul-de-sacs.  I did 4.47 miles in 50 minutes.

Yesterday, I swam and then ran 3.  Today I biked and ran 5 (in under 50 minutes), so progress!

Tomorrow is the test… 14 miles for my long run…  We shall see.

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?

 

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.

OWS2

(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.

craig_evans

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

GCT-runmap

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!

 

brownie

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

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