Saturday, July 24, 2010

Race Day

Race Day started bright and early. I woke up three times in the middle of the night, without my phone alarm going off. I was glad I woke up the third time, because fumbling around with my phone the second time, I had somehow killed the battery. I set another alarm, and then I was up at 5 a.m. sharp. I got ready, ate my banana dog (wheat hot dog bun, smear of peanut butter, and banana), made my electrolyte drink bottles (with my by now partially frozen water), packed up the car, dropped the hotel key in the little mailbox outside the manager’s office, and bade farewell to the Bates motel.

I parked at the Target parking lot and got on a shuttle over to the race site. I drank up a large diet coke on the way over, since I can’t get along without caffeine. It was a pretty warm morning, and muggy. I checked on my bike, took the plastic bag off my bike seat, and set up my transition area. I made a huge tactical error at this point. In my first 2 tris, I had simply brushed the sand off my feet after my swim and then put on socks and shoes for the bike. While preparing for this race, I had been advised a couple of times to use a squirt bottle of water to rinse the sand off my feet, and I set one of those up as well on race morning.

So, my transition area looked like this: scrap of towel flat on the ground under my bike, with running shoes and dry socks inside, and baseball cap with race belt with number laid across the running shoes. Toward the front of the towel I had my clippie bike shoes, with bike helmet (race number sticker on it already) upside down on top of the shoes, dry socks, sunglasses and rubber bands inside the helmet, and bike shorts on top of that. Then there was the squirt bottle of water in front of the whole setup. I also put my two water bottles full of electrolyte drink into the cages on my bike. I left my bag by the bike’s front tire, and I headed off to get my number re-written on one arm and written for the first time on the other arm. I had my swim cap with me, and I had one earplug. The other earplug never did turn up - perhaps the cleaning staff at the motel made good use of it.

I walked around the lake to the swim start, and started getting nervous. The race organizers had arranged to have two extremely perky women do a zumba demonstration while we all waited for 7 a.m. to arrive. Not my bag, but it did take my mind off my nerves. Finally, the elite wave went off, and then the trek women team wave went. And then it was time for the third wave - survivors and some of the older age groups. I bumped into one of my mom’s friends who does several tris each summer (!) in the wave start, and I heard her name announced later in the day as one of the top finishers in her category.

I wore my heart rate monitor and kept an eye on my time as I swam. I felt pretty good during the swim, but I went slower than the previous time. This was disappointing, and I did not really get over the disappointment until well into the bike leg. The lake felt good and cool during the swim, and I was able to go straight, mostly doing the breaststroke, since I had so many cramping issues every time I did the crawl while I was training.

I trotted through the transition area and got to my bike. I used the squirt bottle to get sand off my feet, pulled on the bike shorts and put on my socks and clippie bike shoes. I put my bike helmet on, pulled the bike out from under the rack and walked it over out of the transition area. I got on my bike and started pedaling. There were way more hills than I had planned for during training, because the bike route had changed the week before the race. I started out slow, and had a difficult time when I was going up the hills, for all of the ride. I was able to get some good momentum, but at the bottom of at last two hills, we had to turn, and I had to brake so as not to go through the corner too fast. Boo for wasted momentum! About a third of the way through the bike course, I started feeling better, and I cranked through the rest of the course, doing my best to stick with it going up hill and to try to be aerodynamic whenever I was going downhill. My right foot fell asleep during the bike, and it didn’t wake up until almost the end of the run.

Finally, I was back at the transition area, and I got off the bike without falling over, got it back to the transition area and pulled off my bike shoes. I decided not to change socks again, got my running shoes on, put on my cap, chugged the remainder of my electrolyte drink and walked over to the start of the run. I started out running fairly slowly, and then I saw DH and my son. I was overwhelmed when I saw them. I gave them a high five as I went by. Partway into my first mile, I started to walk. My feet were hurting lots (I ended up with several blisters from putting the socks onto wet feet after the swim), and I needed to stop a few times to adjust my chip strap, which was digging painfully into my swollen ankle (swollen from the heat, not any sort of injury).

I met a very nice woman who walked with me for about a mile and a half. We did pick it up to a jog for the photographers, but otherwise, we walked briskly. Her coach came and ran with her for the last half mile or so of the race, and I started running again soon after they took off. I was never so happy to see Sally Edwards as when I rounded the curve to the finish line. I skipped over the finish line and gave her a double high five as I went past her.

DH and my son found me soon after I crossed the finish line. I had some cherries and water they had brought with them, and then I sat while DH went and hunted down my flip flops from the tree I had left them under near the swim start. I counted up my blisters, and when DH arrived with my flip flops, I realized one of the blisters was from the flip flop. Hobbling ensued.

We took a bunch of team photos, and then I went and got my car keys from my race bag. We took more team photos, and DH left. I took our son with me for the rest of the day, because I had missed him an awful lot. Not long after, we decided to go back to get my car, so we waited for a while in line for a shuttle bus, rode back to the car, and then I drove it to the race site, so I could put my bike on my bike rack and head home.

My overall time was 16 seconds different than the last time I did this race. My swim was slower, my bike was faster, and my run was slower. My transitions were slightly better. And now I have not done a lick of exercise (other than playing some volleyball) since the race.

I am glad I did the tri, and I want to do it again. But I am feeling ambivalent about my "progress." I guess I saw such a drastic improvement between my first and second race, and I really wanted to see similar improvement again. Perhaps I should just start working on aerobic fitness/running, and then develop a training schedule I actually stick to next year.

Photos/links are in process.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


The run-up to the race was great. I had a bike workout scheduled for July 7, which would have been the last team workout after work. However, we had a thunderstorm, with lightning and everything. So, I skipped the final bike and had delicious sweet potato frites at one of our sponsors. Not exactly brilliant training, but the frites were delicious!

On Thursday, I was entered into the annual Storm the Bastille 5k run, which started at 9 p.m. this year. I had never done the run before, and I was really surprised by how crowded it was. It was pretty impractical to run for the first 5 minutes or so, and after that I could either run with the folks doing 10 minute miles, or I could do broken-field maneuvers around the folks doing the fun walk. I tried walking briskly, after I noticed my heart rate was way too high when I was running. Ultimately, I took the course turn for the walkers, which meant I did a mile and a half in about 25 minutes. It was crazy hot and humid, even at that hour, so I was happy to call it a night when I did.

The next day my friend wore her team jersey when she biked to the office, and I became fixated on getting my jersey so I could wear it around and try getting it wet, etc. I stopped by my teammate's house around 7 p.m. and picked up my jersey and proceeded to wear it until I went to bed.

Packet pick-up day started bright and early at 6:30 a.m. I packed up all the gear and my bike and toddled off to the survivors' breakfast. This year, in contrast to the one I wandered into late in 2008, did not have its program start until 8:30 or so. Then Cathy Daldin, Maggie Sullivan and Sally Edwards all talked to us about the triathlon experience and team survivor. I sat with the wonderfully welcoming team from Madison. I did not cry this year, although I did tear up any number of times.

Then we headed over to the RecPlex and stood in line until I was at the front of the line to get my race packet. I noted that I had been assigned to wave 10, which I later determined was not that far from the last wave. The first year I did the race, I was one of the last waves to set off, and I ended up being the last one to finish (if you don't count Sally Edwards, who was doing her gig as the final finisher and so ran across the finish line with me). I started a slow panic, which I ultimately defused by getting my start wave switched so that I could start with the survivors. Wave 3, baby! I had my bike's tire pressure checked, and then I attached my race number to my bike frame and racked my bike. By now it was about 11:45 a.m.

I tried to check into the hotel I thought I had a reservation at, but the rooms were not ready at noon. More on this later. Since I couldn't get into the hotel, and I was scheduled to meet the team at 1:30 p.m. at the RecPlex, I darted to the grocery store and picked up diet coke, hot dog buns, peanut butter, bananas and some bottles of water. Then I headed back to the RecPlex and sat through the end of the course talk and then saw Sally Edwards talk. It was a lot of fun, and it was very nice to see the team.

Three team members were staying at a different hotel, and the rest were driving from home on race day. I talked with the Madison team survivor coordinator, and the four of us who were staying in the area were welcome to join them at dinner at an Italian restaurant. Then we split up to go check into our hotels.

I went back to the Super 8, where I had stayed in 2008, and they could not find my reservation. I dug out the letter I had written, with my credit card number, (weird reservation system, but it had worked in 08) and, lo and behold, I had made a reservation at a different hotel this year. Oopsie-doodles. I drove about 10 minutes or so, and then I saw my hotel. The sign by the side of the road said "MOTEL" in big, block letters. The registration desk/manager's office smelled like curry, and there was a sign posted regarding the weekly room rate. Suh-weet.

I lugged my stuff up to the second floor room in three trips, cranked the A/C up to high and super cold, and plugged in the mini-fridge. Thereby changing the swampy, hot, stale smoke smell to a somewhat cooler version of the same. Then I tried to get online to update my blog, but could not hook into the wireless. I found out after dinner that this was because the wireless was based in the "office," which was too far away from my room to allow me to connect. This caused my tardiness in the blog update, which I regret.

Dinner was a lot of fun. The team from Madison was very friendly and nice, and it was excellent to spend a little more time with my highland honeys team. The portions of food were huge, and the pasta alone could have been my dinner. We had the outdoor patio all to ourselves, and the serious rain held off until we were done!

I headed back to my lovely sleeping quarters, and gave myself a bumble bee pedicure, packed my race day bag, put drinks in the now cold refrigerator, packed up all of my stuff into as few bags as possible, talked to DH on the phone, and turned off the lights by 9:30 p.m. I woke up in a panic about three times, convinced I had overslept. The third time was the charm - I had done something to my phone (which was serving as my alarm) the second time that killed the battery, which would have left me without an alarm. Luckily, I was able to reset the hotel's alarm clock, which then went off right on schedule. Race day will be a separate post, hopefully later tonight.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Finally, a great brick, and a breakfast invitation

I received an email invitation today for the survivors breakfast the morning of the expo. It starts at 8, and based on a prior year's breakfast, I believe there is an actual program that starts then. Boy was my face red when I wandered into the first breakfast late - I thought it was more along the lines of an open house reception, as opposed to a fancy sit-down deal. They were very nice about my late appearance, but I don't plan to be late like that again.

July 5th workout

I wanted to do a 30 minute swim (I'm in the "taper" week!), but on this day there was a pretty good wind, and waves that slapped me with a mouthful of water every other breath or so. The current was also pretty strong against me as I swam out. I turned around much earlier than I had originally planned, and the current pushed me home rather easily. All told, I was probably in the water for about 25 minutes. I was winded when I was done though, and I can't imagine facing tougher conditions in the sweet little lake where the race will take place.

I'm feeling pretty good about the swim leg on Sunday. I just haven't quite committed to what I'll wear to swim in. I've got a comfy swim skirt bottom thingie, and I've been swimming in the lake in a jogbra and sleeveless tank. Then I've been pulling on bike pants and changing my wet sleeveless tank for two dry sleeveless tanks for the bike and run legs. The team top may or may not arrive in time for the race, and I'm feeling ambivalent about wearing something I haven't had a chance to practice in. It may come down to how comfortable and cute it is.

July 3rd workout

I had a bike-run brick scheduled for this workout, and it was awesome! I took the bike out on a new route I had not ridden before. There were hills, and for 3 or 4 miles, it was a "rustic road." It was beautiful, and the time just flew by. I may have gotten a little lost, but I just kept turning toward the direction I *thought* home would be, and eventually, I got there. My 45 minute bike turned into a 55 minute ride, but I was very happy with the results.

I did a speedy transition and set off on the run. I was scheduled to go 45 minutes, but I ended up going for more like 35 minutes, to keep on schedule, and to keep from restraining my hip. The run was good, and by the end, I was really psyched up for the race next weekend. I went without the music, which was good practice for race day as well.

I was very happy with how this workout went!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Injuries not allowed

July 1st workout

Today I was scheduled to do a 55 minute run, with 20 minutes of intervals. My hip is mostly better, thanks to gentle stretching and rest. It is not 100% though, and so I changed the task ahead of me a bit. I did not do intervals. I did run for about 50 minutes. The only way to fit this run in was to do it while I was at work, and then stay late while the kid listened to an audiobook on my iPod. Loving the temporary gig DH picked up here lately. Luckily, the plan worked as designed. I walked to warm up and cool down for 3 minutes on either end of the workout, and I jogged the rest of it. I focused on my form, and did not push my leg, because I didn't want any setbacks this close to the race. Going uphill did not hurt much, but downhill was still pretty sore. I plan to keep up the stretching tonight and tomorrow, which is scheduled as a rest day. Then I'll be doing some sort of workout on Saturday morning. Either the scheduled bike-run brick, or I may cram a mini-tri in on Saturday. We shall see.

June 29th workout

I had a 45 minute swim, followed by a 45 minute run on my schedule for this workout. I rearranged DH and the kid's schedules to make this work. Unfortunately, I seem to have strained my right hip flexor on Monday, and I was not able to do all of the workout. I stretched for about half an hour before I started the swim. The lake was nice and cool, and it felt good once I got used to it. I swam for about 35 minutes, with DH monitoring my progress, because he was worried about the sore hip. Then I went on the run, which I capped at 20 minutes. It hurt a lot going uphill, and it was excruciating going downhill. I gave my muscles the idea of the brick, and then I gave them a break.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cute little bricklet

Today was supposed to be a heavy-duty, serious brick. But life got in the way. I forgot to wear my watch to our 10 a.m. play date, and by the time it occurred to me to check the hosts' kitchen clock, it was quarter past 1! Here's hoping we get invited back. I had a whee of a time visiting with the parents, and the kids played without conflict the whole time.

So, I was able to start my brick around 3:15, and I had to be done by 4:30. I biked for only 30 minutes, but I knew I had a time limit, so I pedaled in a low gear, whipping the pedals around as quickly as I could manage for the time I had to ride. I threw the bike back on the car rack, locked it up tight, traded clippie shoes for running shoes and took off for my run. It went surprisingly well. It was hot and humid and I was tired, but it felt really good to run today. Slow but steady finishes the race, as they say. I do want to finish out the schedule as planned so I can actually enjoy race day.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Making lemonade

June 26th swim

Things are getting hectic with the schedule this summer! I went to a meeting at 7 a.m., and then scooted straight over to the high school pool, so I could swim. I swam for 45 minutes, which tracked the schedule for a change. It was just not fun, at least not as fun as swimming at the lake. I tried to focus on form, and I did try varying my speed. Again, I hesitate to call it sprinting, but I went slow and steady, then sped up, then back to slow and steady, to try to increase my speed. I am just glad to get in a workout per the plan. I'm hoping to do the same with tomorrow's brick.

June 25th activity

I was scheduled to do a bike-run brick which required me to get out to the lake, so my mom could watch the kid. I was late leaving work, and by the time I got into bike shorts, it was 20 after 6. Here is where I got lemons.

I did not want to have the kid up super late due to an eagerly anticipated birthday party on the 26th. So, I made lemonade. The kid has just learned to ride his bike without training wheels, and he loves practicing the skill. I rode with him over to a nearby park, and we rode around for about half an hour, until he got going so fast he popped the chain off his bike. I didn't have a phillips head screwdriver with me, which I needed to access the front gear on his little bike. So, he walked his bike back, while I practiced balancing and cruising very slowly, to save the clippie shoes. I really need to bring spare shoes when I ride with my clippie shoes. It always seems to come back to them.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Firefly running

I bagged the chalk talk about the swim last night in favor of a dinner celebrating the return of DH and the kid. I did go out for a late run tonight, after tuck-in. The team did a stair workout today, but tonight was our last family dinner until the local music festival (and DH's summer job) ends in 11 days, so I enjoyed dinner and put the workout off until a bit later.

It was hot and humid, and my joints were pretty achy. But, I persevered. I ran for a total of 39 minutes, and I spent about half the time running at an increased pace (it would be a stretch to call it sprinting, so I won't), from one tree to the next, jog, run, jog, repeat. I hope that the increased effort will pay off on the big day. I felt pretty tired at the end of it all. The best part of the run was all of the fireflies. Crazy numbers, glowing all over. They make me happy, and so in spite of a being a big, sweaty mess now, I feel pretty good.