Sunday, September 28, 2008

ChesapeakeMan Race Report or Lake Placid Redux (Minus the Hills)

That which doesn't kill (or drown) us....makes us stronger, right?

The drive up to the Eastern Shore on Friday midday was great, and the weather cooperated pretty well with just a few smatterings of rain here and there along the way. Coach Grandison came along to cheer and sherpa. She rode up with me while Patty and Heidi caravanned behind. Crossing the Choptank River bridge into Cambridge, we were elated to see calm water and few clouds. It was quite humid, but we still hoped those conditions would hold out through the morning. We breezed through packet pickup, and drove over to the race start to rack bikes and check out the (altered) swim course. It would be a 2 loop swim in the bay to the left of the boat ramp (for those who know the Eagleman course) instead of the point-to-point originally scheduled from the Hyatt upstream. There we met up with everyone doing the race: for the Aquavelo it was me and my IMFL peeps Sharon, Patty, Shawn, Charlotte and husband Fred; IMWI peeps Heidi, Tammy and husband Brad; and brave TriGirl Molly (giving the distance a try before IMFL signups). For the full ironman distance it was Coach Som and Karen. We decided to meet up post race briefing to get dinner and went off to check in to our various hotels.

I had just last week booked a room online--it seemed it was the last room available in the area so I just took what I could. Granted the reservation was for a smoking room, but I added a note asking to please change us should a non-smoking room become available. Given the crappy weather forecast, I was sure they'd have a cancellation that would work. Hopeful, we pulled into the Days Inn just down the street from the Hyatt. Most everyone else was at the Holiday Inn Express. At the desk, I reiterated our request for a non-smoking room to the manager, several times. No dice on changing rooms. Now, I'm no dummy and I have a brother-in-law that works for Marriott. I know that like airline desk agents, those managers can easily (if they so chose) change reservations to accomodate certain requests, especially if they have open seats/rooms. The manager at that Days Inn was NOT budging--even though he admitted to having a non-smoking room available! His excuse was that absolutely NO changes were allowed with a prepaid reservation, not even if I was willing to pay any difference in rate. Ugh. Defeated, Grandison and I headed upstairs. I was hoping the room wouldn't be bad....

Well, if the stairwell and hall were any indications, we were in for a fun night. Oh man! It smelled like a smoker's convention had parked themselves in the halls for a year. They were so bad, the room was a breath of fresh air in comparison. But after 2 minutes, it was awful too. We opened the window and joked about having to burn a bag of popcorn to make it smell better. All I could think about was how the heck I was supposed to get a good night's sleep breathing in that stench. Grandison was trying bravely to make the best of it, and set about getting ready for dinner. I got on the phone and called the Holiday Inn. They had quite a few cancellations and did have a double, non-smoking room available. YEY! I ran downstairs, berated the poor woman who had replaced the manager at the front desk for not switching us, then drove the car around to just below our open window. Grandison threw our stuff out (it was easier than schlepping it all back downstairs), while I loaded it in the car, and we did a drive-by check in at the Holiday Inn before meeting up back at the Hyatt for the pre-race briefing and dinner. We all were able to get order good prerace meals, then trundled off to pack our race bags, watch a little of the debates, and hit the sack. Grandison ordered up a 5am wake up call, for a 7am race start.

We made it to the race start at 6:30, after having dropped our special needs bags and extra cars at the high school finish. We barely had enough time to grab our timing chips, load our nutrition on the bikes, and suit up before it was time to get in the water. Ooops. Note to self--allow at least an hour so I'm not rushing around...I hadn't made it all the way to the white start bouys before the gun went off. It had started raining just as we got to the race start, and it poured for the first 15 mins of the swim, which was pretty much par for the course the entire day. The first half of every swim (no matter what distance) I always have a hard time calming my nerves and settling into a rhythm. Up to the first turn bouy, it was fairly calm and shallow enough to stand almost the whole way. Once around the bouy, the chop picked up quite a bit. I was sighting poorly (only breathing to one side), and needed to swim about 10 yards back to the pack. As usual, I also couldn't find any feet to hang on. Close to the last turn bouy on the first lap, I got stung by jelly fish on my arm and wrist. Ouch. I caught sight of the clock as I rounded the bouy--1st lap 43 mins and change.

The second loop was much better. The outgoing part was blessedly calm, and I felt much more confident and relaxed. That lasted until the chop started again, and I started feeling a little queasy. I definitely wanted to keep whatever nutrition I had eaten that morning firmly in my stomach--I knew I needed every calorie. I finally got to that last turn bouy and felt the current from upstream on the last 20 yards to the boat ramp. It would have been a great swim as a point to point--no chop in the face and a following current! As I crossed the timing mats, I was surprised how quick it seemed to be done and I knew I could go the distance in Florida. One discipline down, one to go. Total time (not confirmed) about 1:35.

After waving at Grandison, I grabbed my gear bag and headed for the change tent. Lo and behold, Shawn, Sharon, and Charlotte were in there! After bitching and griping about the jellyfish, and pulling sports bras on wet torsos (I need to just swim in my bike gear!), we were heading out. I had a few issues getting my bike off the rack since I approached it from the wrong side, but managed to keep it upright and run over the timing mats. Off I went, assuming Shawn, Sharon and Charlotte were just up ahead. Heading out of town, I was coasting down the street, easily maintaining 18mph. Wow, I thought, this was going to be a breeze! As I approached the Gun/Bait/Beer store on the right, there was a lady turning left into the lot in front of the store. It wasn't raining just then, and I knew she saw me, as she had just passed a few bikers in front of me. I figured she'd stop and let me pass before completing her turn. NOT. She almost ran me over. I was able to swerve and go behind her, thank goodness. The next guy that passed me saw it, and commented to me that I did a great job avoiding her. I already had consumed one bottle of my drink, and had to pee. Had I been a guy, I would've turned around and peed on her car! Stupid lady.

As we came up on the turn around, about 10 miles in, I was happily cruising along and had seen Karen, Terry, Som, Brad, and Fred. Then I turned around and slowed down. WAAAAY down. My mph hit about 15, and I couldn't figure out what happened. Then I realized...headwind. Damn. I really am slow as molasses. This is going to be a looong ride, all alone. Headed back toward town, I passed the rest of the girls. I thought I had missed a turn since they left the change tent before me. Turns out they had stopped to use the port a potties before heading out on the bike. Me, I just peed 3xs in my wetsuit during the swim, so I was fine!

The first 40 miles went by pretty quickly. People were pretty chatty, and would ride side by side just for a minute or two to say good morning. Inevitably, people that stopped at the aid stations would catch back up, so many games of leap frog were played. It made it more bearable--you had familiar faces/jerseys to keep you company. I worked hard to eat but this time I had a hard time pedalling and chewing food. Bananas were ok (luckily they weren't hot and mushy), but everything I brought just didn't look appetizing. Another reason to get up extra early for ironman: I can eat much more before race start and hopefully front load alot of calories. It was still raining on and off. Then we hit about mile 55, in the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge. Parts of the road were already under about 2-3 inches of water, and high tide was going to hit during my second loop. It was kind of fun pedalling through the water, and the scenery around us was beautiful marsh land.

Close to the high school, about mile 60, there were 2 ladies tailgating by the side of the road. As I approached, they grabbed their cow bells and cheered me as I went by. The emotional boost that gave me was indescribable--wouldn't it be nice to have the entire 112 mile route lined with cheering crowds? Then I got lapped by the guy who ended up winning...he pulled into the bike finish, and I was just getting done with 64 miles. Ugh. Grandison and another Richmond friend spectating, Monica, were working the special needs station at the high school. They held my bike, helped me sort out what I wanted, found water for one of my bottles, and let me pee in the grass (very discreetly)! It felt so damn good to be off that bike, even if just for a few minutes. But inevitably I had to get back on, and finish what I started. Just 48 miles to go--even at my best pace about a 3 hour ride.

Right at mile 70, I hear a familiar voice behind me. It was 3 of my IMFL peeps! Shawn, Sharon, and Patty had just pushed hard from the special needs station to catch me so we could finish the ride together. It was soooo great to have them there--especially since just about then the rain started pelting down but good. Course marshalls be damned, this was a "training ride" for us, and we stayed pretty tightly together. Enough so, that Shawn and Sharon were assessed pentalies for drafting. Ooops. Those miles were the longest, but now much more bearable given the company. This time as we went through the Wildlife Refuge, the water was so deep, my shoe was totally underwater at the bottom of my pedal stroke. We saw a bald eagle drying his (her?) wings in a tree, and many white egrets fishing.

By mile 80 though I could tell that my nutrition was a little off, and I was getting tired. I started in on my Gu's--one for every 10 miles left to go--and that really helped. We picked up speed with the last 8 miles (up to 20ish mph), and the body hurt a lot less. I think that was just knowing that soon I'd be off the damn thing. When we got to the guy who said "2 miles to go" I was ready to be done and cranked it in to the finish, a couple of minutes ahead of Shawn and Sharon. Patty had already pulled away much earlier. My final time: 8:50 (swim+bike). If I can do that in Florida, or even come in at 8:30, I'll be ecstatic. As it was, I was very glad I didn't have to run, and as soon as I saw the massage tables set up in the gym, I was lost. Oh my, that massage felt sooo good. The poor guy got me on the table even before I could shower, and I kept apologizing for the way I smelled.

Everyone finished well. Tammy's husband Brad survived 3 flat tires and an hour and 47 minute wait for the sag wagon, but still came in before the last two bikers. We all got cleaned up as best we could (those high school showers left something to be desired), ate some soup and cookies, and waited for Karen to finish her 2nd lap of the 3 lap run course. Grandison was anxious to get home since while we were away her baby had been running a fever (always the case that when Mom goes away, all heck breaks loose), and I wanted to sleep in my own bed too. We pulled into town about 10:30, said our goodbyes, and made it home. Today I've been tired and loungy all day. I need to eat some more...isn't it all about nutrition?!

I'm very glad to have done the race. I feel much more confident that I can tackle less than ideal swim and weather conditions, and finish the bike with plenty of time to spare. This week I think we jump back into the running part of the equation, and next weekend I get to run one of my favorite races, the Army 10 Miler up in DC. Happy training and, for you Kona folks, happy tapering!

Friday, September 26, 2008

What a glorious feelin'.....

Instead of singing in the rain, it looks like we're swimming and biking in the rain and gusty winds this weekend. ChesapeakeMan Aquavelo. 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike on the same course as Eagleman. Whoo hoo!

I did check the results from last year's race. There were only 4 women in my age group. I think the TriGirls will be bringing home some hardware this weekend, provided we don't drown or get blown off the road.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Incentive to go faster?

I'm signing up for the wrong races. I want to race against (with?) him:

Yowza. Matthew McConaughey at the Malibu Celebrity Sprint race (1/2 mi swim, 18 mi bike, 4 mi run). JLo finished in 2:23, but according to People magazine, "Lopez was accompanied along the way by her trainer Gunnar Peterson, who was not racing himself, but was there to help out." Along what way? The course? WTF?!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fall's arrival.....zzzzzzz.

As I headed out this past Thursday morning for a bike ride, the temperature gauge said it was about 55 degrees outside. You could tell fall was on its way. To me there is a certain smell to autumn, a crispness to the air that's hard to define. I was wearing bike shorts and my Ride to Cure Diabetes jersey, and once on the bike, it was downright chilly. It might be time to break down and buy some arm warmers! On my first two solo laps around West Creek, I saw a group of deer grazing close to the edge of the woods.

My friend Rab joined me and we headed out to Goochland for a 40ish mile loop. Since he hadn't ridden out there, I picked a route that would be easy for me to follow, but I forgot how many hills were on that course. Rab sets a pretty good pace, one where I'm always working hard to stay on his tail especially on the hills. I am learning that those long training sessions take a lot out of me, and I feel their effects for days, especially when combined with missed meals or snacks. Most of the roads we were on were pretty empty--up to the main drag back toward West Creek. I think there are several quarries or something along that portion of road, and we got blown around by many many dump trucks whizzing by. I finished up 50 miles by 11am, and as Rab left to go to work, I was eating my lunch and trying to gear up for another 50 by myself.

No sooner had I broken out my peanut butter sandwich, than I was overcome by exhaustion. I was so tired. I decided to sit down in my car, and I just leaned my head back to close my eyes for just a minute and fell fast asleep for over 20 minutes! After I woke up, I gulped down the rest of my lunch, reloaded my water bottles, and got back on the bike. I made it another 10 miles before my body was saying it was done--go home and go back to bed now! So that's what I did.

Friday afternoon Joey went to play with a friend after school and Maddy had dance team try-outs, so I was able to get in the pool for an hour. At the Y, all lanes in the lap pool except one were taken up by older gentlemen swimming really slowly. Surpise! Rab was in the other one, grinding out a speedy 1000m main set. I joined him in his lane and tried to count how many times he lapped me (too many!) while I swam the first half of my steady 2600m. As he was leaving, Rab commented that I'd be a lot faster if I did flip turns. Apparently Mr. Collegiate Swimmer doesn't realize that real triathletes don't do flip turns. After that I was thinking that I am so going to get my ass kicked by Jen at training camp in February.

Friday evening Joe and I had a fun dinner date with 5 other couples to celebrate my dear friend Lynn's birthday. At the restaurant, I tried to be good considering my 20 mile long run workout on tap for Saturday morning by limiting my wine intake to 2 glasses. Yet after dinner, we decided that the party needed to keep going, so most came back to chez Oliver for more wine and games of pool. We called it a night at 2am. Needless to say, I was not up in time to make our 6am start at Maramarc. After a pretty lazy day of recovery and cotillion shopping with Maddy, Lynn joined me this morning for all 20 miles of my run. It was another blessedly cool morning, but when we finished at 1pm it was close to 80 degrees. Brunch at Boychick's deli never tasted so good!

Tonight I'm going to bed at 8pm.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The end of summer

Our last day on the beach was perfect! After Labor Day, dogs are allowed on the beach anytime so we brought Sophie with us to hang out in the sand and play in the surf. We all had such a good time. While it was hot out, the ocean was the perfect temperature--cool enough to be refreshing but not so cold as to keep you in the shallows. Maddy and Joe pretty much spent the whole time on the boogie boards, and Joey, Sophie, and I took turns going on them as well. We saw a ton of dolphins, just 100 yards off shore frolicking. We wished we could have stayed another day.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunshine and Happiness...

....and a sore crotch!

Another long training weekend down! Yey! Saturday a group of us TriGirl/Maramarc folks did the Heart of Virginia century ride. To date that is the farthest I've ever ridden a bike. It wasn't the most hours I spent on the bike; that was last year's Ride to Cure Diabetes in Sonoma, a death march bike if there ever was one of brutal (some over 26% grades) hills. Total time on the bike then was 9.5 hours, yesterday we came in just under 7 hours. I am stoked about how we did--since it was a pretty hilly course and we stopped for two flat tires, one of which was mine. After our 80 miler two weeks ago, I still had doubts about my cycling, but slowly I'm gaining confidence and am ALMOST looking forward to the next one.

Before the ride....

During the ride....and post-ride ice cream sitting in the A/C. BLISS!

I kept up with my nutrition leading up to Saturday and during the ride, and it really helped! (Duh!) With the weather so warm, I made sure to drink almost everything in my water bottles too. This weekend was back to hot and humid weather, with yesterday topping 93 degrees, and today supposed to hit 97. We stopped at mile 60 for the provided lunch--sandwiches, grapes, and chips. I'm going to have to figure out how to eat that much during ironman, since I'm not sure how I would've done eating just clif blocks, sport beans, and gu's all day. Ideally I'd love to bring cash and hit a McDonald's drive thru, but I hear you can get DQ'd for that during the race! I have several more century rides, including ChesapeakeMan AquaVelo in two weeks, to figure that out.

Joe had taken the kids to the beach Friday evening to give me the weekend to get the workouts done with no guilt. After we talked Saturday afternoon I missed them and wanted a day to play at the beach with the kids, so I quickly showered, grabbed some food, and threw Sophie in the car and drove down yesterday evening. Surprise! We had a good family game and movie night evening and then this morning I got in that 9 mile run before 9am. It was already pretty blistering hot, but I made good time (1:20!) and can now enjoy a day catching up on my magazines/catalogues while lounging on the beach!

I hope everyone has a fun, restful Sunday! Many hearty congratulations our Iroman Wisconsin finishers Aimee, Blake, and Dr. Rick. This was Aimee's first IM, and she did amazingly well. We're so proud of you guys!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It takes a village...

Talking to Jen the other day I told her I have no idea how some women juggle the ironman training with jobs. Inevitably, my days are scheduled around a work out of some kind, but the rest of the time gets filled in very quickly. Take yesterday for example: At 9am Joey had his endocrinologist visit and at 10:15 I was supposed to go to PT, but Joey's visit ran late since he needed to get his blood work done. I couldn't reschedule that, but after dropping Joey back at school, I grabbed a quick lunch at home, moved laundry around, and did dishes before running to my acupuncture appointment at 1:15. Home again at 2 to pick Joey up from school, then run back out at 3 to go to the doctors (for me). By the time I got home at 4, I still needed to bash the kids over the head to get homework done, check emails and then get them out the door for dinner at the Thai restaurant. We did get home in time for 8pm bedtimes--myself included! Since I was a single mom last night, there wouldn't be any swimming. Sigh. My "village" includes coaches, a nutritionist, a physical therapist, an acupuncturist, a doctor, multiple training buddies, and of course the husband and kids. All I'm missing are a personal chef and cleaning lady!

Now that the school year has started, I was hoping to have more "free time" during the day to get in some workouts and avoid calling in the sitter. I've been able the past two weeks to limit my evening training to late Monday night swims and of course the Tuesday bricks. This week starts afterschool activities--soccer practice, dance team tryouts and dance class, lego robotics team. Yet more schlepping of kids hither and yon, thus the need to keep my afternoons free.

I am taking some consolation in the fact that there are only 5 weeks of seriously long training left before we start our taper. My weekends are booked from now until October 11th--alternating long rides and long runs. Looking at the schedule, they all seem doable, with the caveat from Tina the nutritionist that I keep to the meal plan and get in ALL my calories. The only little hiccup I can see really giving me a hard time are the issues I'm having in my girl-parts areas. Not to be too graphic, but in-grown bikini-line hairs + bike shorts + lots of milage in the saddle = unhappy Kate. Anyone got any good suggestions on what to do?

On another note, I've started my Janus Charity Challenge fundraising for the JDRF in earnest by mailing out almost 100 letters. I've raised almost $2000 already! Joey's appointment with the endocrinologist yesterday went well, but his A1C (a 3-month history of his blood sugar (BG) levels) count was up meaning he's been running high more often. It has been hard to get over our fear of his low blood sugar readings--they are what promted his seizures in May and December--but yesterday we have made some changes to his carb/insulin ratios so hopefully that will help. To avoid future health issues, it is important to keep his BG levels within a certain range. Joey was so brave having his blood drawn. Four tubes they filled up, and he sat perfectly still on my lap, watching the whole time, and never cried. No wonder he's my hero! If you click his picture on the left, it will take you to my fundraising page.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Snorkels Optional

Tropical Storm Hanna came for a visit yesterday and dropped a lot of rain on Richmond. MarcoDiablo, in his wisdom, convinced us to slog through it and be glad to have our long weekend run over with so we could enjoy our Sunday morning. Well, he was right. We started off at 7am with one hour on our trainers, in my case trying hard to wake the hell up, and chatting about who was missing and why (Patty???) Before long, it was time to suit up and hit the road. Two 9 mile loops in the pouring rain. In her defense, Hanna did offer some brief respites from the rain--from mile 3 to 7 I almost dried out, only to get totally soaked again. At the mid way point, we all very uselessly changed our soaking socks, shirts, and in Sharons case, hat, downed a gu or two, loaded up the fuel belts and headed out for round 2. I felt pretty good until mile 15, then everything started to hurt. I keep telling myself to get used to the feeling, and to try to run through it or despite it. Ironman will hurt even more. After it was all done, Sharon, Karen, Shawn and I hit Kitchen 64 for brunch and a well-earned pitcher of mimosas. I came home and promptly fell back into bed for a 2 hour nap.

Last night the family headed over to my friend Rob's house to celebrate his liberation from Alcoa, and visit with many grad school friends I haven't seen since May. Man, do I miss those people. Unfortunately I was still wiped out from the run so we came home by 9:30, and I was out by 10. It was sheer bliss to sleep till 8 am, and not be rudely awakened by an alarm clock! Today I'm cheering my friends/coach from afar as they tackle Ironman Wisconsin. Go Blake, Aimee, and Rick!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I need some rrrreeeeeee eeeeeeeest...

So, I'm not Lily von Schtupp, but I can so sympathize with her right now. Like many other blogger friends, I am hitting a point where I just don't seem to recover enough from our long weekend workouts to feel like I'm making any progress on my mid-week ones. On Tuesday I was dropped on the bike and couldn't for the life of me catch back up to the pack. My swim yesterday felt like all I was doing was inventing a new way of drowning, creatively. And then today's long ride/short run sucked, it was so hot out there. This may be TMI for some, but usually on our long bikes, I work hard to stay hydrated and end up having to go to the bathroom (or the woods...) quite a bit. Today I only went once during a 3.5 hour ride, and I had taken in 3 bottles of Endura and one of water. I guess there's some relief in knowing that I will not be hitting the start line in Florida after having biked 80/run 13 just a few days before, but right now I'm having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees.

Tomorrow is a day off, thank goodness. I have PT and then I'm driving up to Northern Virginia to visit my parents' grave (tomorrow would have been my mother's 73rd birthday). I'm packing bottles to take with me so I'll have plenty to drink all day--Saturday we bike 1 hr and run 18.