Thursday, October 30, 2008

The View from the Other Side

A year ago I came to Florida to volunteer and sherpa for my friends. It was such an amazing experience! Here it is, a year later and all of a sudden, it's my turn. All day Shawn was saying she was having a hard time grasping the thought that it's her turn, not Karen's. I am too, although sitting in registration, having the band put on my arm gave me more than a moment's panic. Am I really ready???

Shawn, Karen, Som, Steve and I were on the same flights down from Richmond. All the travel plans went well and I was able to catch a ride into Panama City with Steve and Som. I was a little bummed about not getting to hang in Pensacola with Marit, but she will be coming to PCB tomorrow and staying till Sunday. Last night I had dinner with fellow IMFL peeps Shawn and Sharon, and their sherpas extrordinaire. This morning we all met for our inaugural dip in the Gulf. It was pretty darn cold out, and my feet froze while I was putting on my wetsuit. The water, however, was much warmer! It was also calm--not much chop, no strong currents, and no big jellyfish. I'm glad that I did the whole loop, to know how far it is between bouys, and what to sight on, and where it gets deep. I was sad to get out of the water. It was far warmer in the water than out! We then headed back to Shawn and Karen's place for breakfast and quick showers before going back to hit registration. We all found where we'll be racking our bikes (I'm right behind all the pros!), and then lined up. Then after a little shopping, a little checking in with the Community Fund and Janus folks, and lunch Fred, Charlotte, Sharon, Shawn and I biked the run course. That turn around in the state park is going to seem so far away on the 2nd loop. This afternoon, while some peeps went out to drive the bike course, KateG and I hit the grocery store. I am now lounging in the condo, watching the sunset with a Corona in hand, and I'm contemplating dinner. My husband and kids come in later this evening, and I can't wait to go shell hunting with my Maddy Moo. Tomorrow we rack bikes and turn in our bags, maybe do a little swim, then rest and hydrate! I wish you all could be here with me!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Doctor's Office

This is what Joey was doing while I was snoozing in the waiting room at the doctor's office (make sure your volume is turned on). Goofy kid.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Swimming to Florida

It appears that my taper workouts will have to change. At this point, I am swimming (or more specifically PULLING) my way to Florida since I'm having issues with my hip. I was very lucky not to have fractured/broken any bones in that bike crash two weekends ago. I did, however, really whack my hip when I hit the pavement. The evening after the accident my hip was really swollen. The bursa in my hip are still inflamed--with blood. The sports medicine doc was going to give me a cortisone shot in the hip to alleviate the pain yesterday, but instead ended up drawing off a few cc's of blood. Yeah, I almost passed out seeing that syringe! Her Rx: ice the area for 30 mins 3xs a day to get the swelling down; no biking or running; use a pull-bouy in the pool. We will reevaluate by the end of the week. If I can get the swelling under control, I can then go in Mon/Tues for a cortisone shot before I leave for Florida.

My PT and my coaches say I am trained and will still be ok for the race. I am trying to remain calm, follow doctors orders, and focus on getting all my stuff ready for the trip. But then there's that nagging little voice in the back of my head, screaming "WHAT???? You've got to be f*%#ing kidding me?!" I turn my bike in on Saturday to ship, and won't see it again until maybe Thursday or Friday next week. That would mean the last time on my bike would have been this past Saturday, and the last time I ran...well too long ago. Don't panic, don't panic. Just make like Dora in Finding Nemo: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim." (Right, Marit?)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The good, the bad, and the truly SCARY

First for the good:

Today we took the kids apple/pumpkin picking. It was the most gorgeous fall day--about 60 degrees, crisp, and not a cloud in the sky. Several years ago, Joe found a nice p.y.o. place about 20 minutes south of Wintergreen, in the Blue Ridge. Dickey Brothers Orchard has been in the same family since the 1750s! We try to get there at least once a year and on several occasions have sent some of their apple gift boxes. This year we went with a co-worker of Joe's, his wife, and daughter. We came home with 4 pumpkins and 54 lbs of apples. Mmmm mmmm. After that, we took a short hike up toward Crabtree Falls, on part of the Appalachian Trail. The family portrait was taken by hanging the camera in a tree. Here are the pictures (Bree, I tried to get shots of the foliage for you):

The bad:

I spent all day Friday in the hospital, keeping my uncle company while my aunt underwent surgery for cancer that was discovered earlier this week. Stage IV uterine cancer. She is facing a long haul of chemo and radiation after she recovers from the surgery which went well. Saturday's workout was something of a bust. I didn't get home from Williamsburg Friday until about 9:30--and getting up at 6:30 for our last long brick was not a fun prospect. I met up with Sharon and Shawn at 7:30, and I remember as I was pulling into the parking lot that they seemed overdressed--tights, jackets, ear name it, they were wearing it. Duh. It wasn't even 50 degrees that morning, and I was SEVERELY underdressed. I barely made it through 30 miles; it's hard to bike when you can't think straight for being so cold. When I got home I had to take Joey to the doctor (ear infection), but I was so tired I fell asleep in the waiting room. Joey apparently amused himself by taking pictures of his lego men and me sleeping. I came home and slept some more (3 hours!).

And finally, for the truly SCARY:

My Ironman Florida bib number is 83!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Is it time to panic yet?

Does anyone remember that scene from "Diamonds are Forever" where Sean Connery and Jill St. John are on this oil rig and some guy keeps counting down, "SEVEN SECONDS AND COUNTING" while all hell breaks loose? I've got that voice stuck in my head, but it's saying "17 days and counting...."

I must say I'm doing alot of visualization--of myself running down the finish chute whiles Michael Reilly says, "Kate Oliver, YOU are an Ironman!" But that has also been tempered by dreams of being late to the swim start because I haven't organized all my stuff or pumped up my tires.

After last night's brick--our last out at West Creek for the year--Sharon and I went to Mojo's for a small "circle of happiness" hour. Our coaches say we're ready. I'm not sure I quite believe it. I felt more ready just after ChesapeakeMan than I do right now. Maybe part of it is the crash, or maybe it's that feeling that I think many people fall victim to of "oh my god, I haven't done everything I can to be ready." It could also be that I think I've caught whatever virus Maddy had at the beach last weekend, so I'm feeling run down and tired. Thank goodness this is our last long workout weekend, and it's just a 50mi bike/10mi run!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A crash course in breaking in a new bike

This past week, the kids had both Thursday and Friday off from school as a combo Yom Kippur/Columbus Day long weekend. Off to the beach we went, with Joey's friend Zan in tow. The weather was supposed to be iffy--calling for rain late Thurs/Fri, but clearing up and windier on Saturday. It worked pretty well that the kids had those days off since the Ironman Florida and Arizona girls had a fun century ride/brick planned on the Eastern Shore on Saturday.

I was super excited to find my new bike had been delivered to the beach house on Wednesday, but I couldn't get it put together at the local bike shop until the compact crank came the following day. Thursday turned out quite nice, with the kids spending most of the day on the beach. They even swam in the ocean and pool. This is Zan and Sophie:

Around 2pm the crank was there! I loaded my Kestrel, new crank and bike in the car and took off to the local Conte's--only for the mechanic/bike fit guy to say he couldn't have it put together until 5pm. So much for that Thursday bike ride....but then I spent 2 hours on the trainer with him later that evening during the fit. While warming up, the gears on the new bike kept slipping. Turns out the brand new Dura Ace chain was broken! Argh. On with a new chain, and of course I needed to pay for it. He tweaked quite a few things from my fit and I was wondering how Saturday was going to feel--luckily I had Friday to give it a go.

The weather Friday had turned overcast, with some intermittent drizzle, and much more wind. Joe took the boys to the Go-Carts, Maddy had developed a fever and was lounging/reading in bed, so off I went for an hour and a half ride around the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I'm glad I only rode that long. The new saddle that came with the bike was PAINFUL! At just 10 minutes into the ride, my pubic bone was screaming, and I knew something had to change if I was going to ride 100 miles on Saturday. Back to Conte's I went after my ride. Luckily they had a saddle that would do the trick and SCORE! it matches the bike beautifully! (If anyone out there wants a white Fi'zi:k Arione Wing Flex saddle, let me know!) That evening, my poor Maddy was feeling lousy and was running a fever, so we put all the kids to bed pretty early. Before I hit the sack, I tested Joey's blood sugar, since he was at the lower end of his target range before bed. He was dangerously low (35!) so I stayed up pumping him full of juice to get his blood sugar back up before hitting the sack. I was due to get up at 5am for the drive up to the Eastern Shore to meet up with my TriGirl peeps.

I forgot to set the alarm on the cell phone to ring on the weekend. Ooops. I glanced at the clock around 5:10 and, thinking it was probably just a few minutes off, thought I may as well get up. Nope, the clock was right. After scrambling around getting dog and crap and bikes together, I kiss sleeping kids and husband goodbye and drive off with breakfast in my lap. I don't recommend driving across the bay bridge/tunnel at 6:30 am when it's windy while trying to eating yogurt and granola. I got to the cabin at Kiptopeke State Park with about 20 minutes to spare before everyone was headed out. Whew!

This was the third TriGirl-organized century ride from Kiptopeke, but my first visit there. The cabins--built in 2007--are great! Ours slept 16 people in 6 bedrooms, with a comfortably furnished main room with full kitchen and 3 bathrooms. They even had all the beds made, and towels provided. The park is on the bay side of the peninsula, just 3 miles from the southern most tip of the eastern shore. There is a swimming area, playground, places for campers or RVs, and even yurts! According to the website volunteers capture, examine, weigh, band and release resident and migratory birds each year and observe and band hawks, kestrels, osprey and other birds of prey from September through November.

Our century route took us up the eastern shore on flat, mostly well paved (the first and last 15 miles were pretty BUMPY), and very scenic roads from Kiptopeke to Onley and back. We got to see lots of interesting sights, like turkey vultures picking at a dead deer, tidal marshes, tomato fields, old falling down farm houses, and fields of green and yellow. On the way north, we had some tough head/side winds. We stayed in a pretty tight pace line--tight enough that at mile 48, my front tire got clipped by Heidi riding in front of me in a gust of wind from our right. I over corrected, and ended up lying in the middle of the road. Ouch. Luckily Charlotte riding just behind me was able to avoid me, and there was no traffic coming right behind or ahead of us. I lay in the middle of the road for a while trying to figure out how bad I hurt. After a few cars went by asking if I needed an ambulance, I decided I would be ok and slowly got up. Road rash on my elbow, a contusion on my ankle, and one hip that will surely turn a beautiful shade of black/blue soon. My helmet was ok, and luckily my beautiful new bike was relatively unscathed.

The next 10 miles to our turn around/rest stop were tough. I maintained a good distance behind people in front of me, and staying aero hurt my elbow. At the rest area, I was able to buy some Tylenol and gingerly rinse off my arm. Walking hurt, more than pedalling. I figured that if I crashed during Ironman, I'd want to do my best to finish the race, so I looked at the second half of the ride as a test. If I can get through this, I can get through Ironman. We were happy to be headed with the wind though, and were able to maintain an 18-19 mph pace for most of the way back.

Then Shawn announced we would rotate the lead in a pace line in 5 min increments...

Shawn led first, then Sharon, and Patty. Those three girls kept us right at the 18-19 mph pace. The rest of us thought the purpose was to push hard for those 5 mins up front. Heidi pushed on, and then Kate G. I was working hard to keep up with Kate, not realizing everyone else was falling back. Then it was my turn. I got up front and pushed really hard. After 3 mins it hurt, and I kept checking my watch for my turn to end. I had not moved my bike computer over to the new bike, so I had no idea how fast I was going. At the end of my five mins, I started dropping back. But there was no one behind me. It turns out I apparently was going about 25mph! I had stopped, thinking the other girls had stopped for some reason, then they caught up and flew by me. Now the shoe was on the other foot, and I had to catch back up. But by then my legs were shot. Those last 15 miles were really hard. Heidi, Kate and I stuck together after that. We were so glad to see the green house indicating our final turn back to the cabin. After the ride, we grabbed the Sophie monster and ran for about an hour. This is us before the run:

Those showers afterwards felt great, as did the beer! Karen, who is in her hard-earned "taper" for HalfMax in Las Vegas, made the best dinner of meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese. We gorged ourselves on the good food and promptly went to bed at 9pm. We repeated the gorge fest at breakfast...mmmm mmmm!

Home now, I am feeling quite stiff, and tired. I am still in love with my new bike.

So let the taper begin!

Many congratulations to Rachel Ross, who placed 3rd in her age group at Kona this Saturday. Amazing!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The best laid plans

Yesterday I headed out for a long bike ride. It was gorgeous outside, crisp and a little on the chilly side, but promising to warm up nicely. I planned to warm up with a lap or two at West Creek, then head out to Miller's Lane for a few hills, and then back through Manakin. I had my new arm warmers on, nutrition loaded up, and I was feeling good. Got 20 miles. I should've just kept going, but I thought my rear tire looked a little low, so I stopped at my car to check the pressure. The damn presta valve came clean off the stem in my hand--augh. No more biking. I had not taken the zipps off the bike from last weekend, and I don't have a spare tube for those wheels. After cussing a little, and wondering how long it might take me to drive home, swap wheels, and drive back out, I decided just to throw on the running shoes and do the loop. It was, after all, still a beautiful day for a run. Today I headed back out to West Creek again, with my regular wheels back on the bike, and got in another 2 hour ride. While riding, I got a call from the guys at Guru--my new bike will be in next week! I can't wait!

I love this fall weather. We're sleeping with the windows open, and it gets nice and chilly in the morning. Perfect running weather, but I would prefer sleeping IN weather. On tap for tomorrow is our last long run (22 miles) starting at 7am, but only AFTER an hour on the trainer. Yawn. I better go check to make sure we have coffee.

Happy running!