Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Just some pictures I want to share:

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Journey complete: my Ironman Hawaii race report
October 29th, 2006
Let me just start by saying that this race was one of the top 5 coolest experiences of my life (I had two such experiences in this trip). Anyone who is a true triathlon or sporting fan should at least go to Kona once and enjoy the carnival known as Ironman Hawaii.

We got to Kona late in the afternoon on Monday of Ironman week, see previous post. I couldn’t get my laptop to work so didn’t get a chance to post there except once. One of the things that really surprised me was the amount of walking we did! We stayed close to race site so really didn’t need to do much driving. Walking around and seeing all the stars of triathlon just milling around like normal folk was awesome! I’d like to say I shared a cup of java with 2006 Ironman champion Michellie Jones but really she was sitting at a table a few feet away… cool is that! Anyhow, there’s a lot to do and see and we didn’t waste much time in the condo. We didn’t do the carbo dinner because my family had arrived and we wanted to spend some time with them.

I did a ride on the Queen K a bit North of the Airport on Weds and got severely blown around! Luckily, there is quite a wide shoulder on that road and even that isn’t too forgiving on a 104 pound frame. There were several semi’s on the road and I was really freaked that I would get blown off the road. I tried to swallow my fear and remind myself that many race days are this bad out here. I was supposed to go up the road for 30 minutes then turn around and meet the Dane back at the airport in one hour. I turned around after about 15 minutes of this as I was so scared, my heart rate was really high and decided this was doing more harm than good in the long run. I returned to the airport about 30 minutes ahead of schedule and waited and tried to call the Dane but he didn’t hear the phone. I decided to continue on until he called back which was about 10 more minutes and closer to town. So, I stopped once I saw him go the other direction and waited at a guard rail. The first person on the bike to slow up and ask if I was ok was none other than Michellie! How cool is that! (I promptly said ‘no thanks’ and ‘good luck!’). I did have a couple runs and swims prior to race day as well. When we got there, the swells were pretty big and the water was rough….this was the least of my worries, I must say. The couple runs I had were ok, my legs were ok, heartrate was high and I had serious side stiches in my stomach. I did have some problem with this during the summer training but felt is was due to poor hydration. This would play a role in my race….

On to race day. I’ll point out some of my many mistakes (rookie mistakes, mostly) as I go along, they’re too numerous to number out and will take away from the fact that I truly did enjoy myself. Anyway, I got up pretty early, around 3:30 am on race morning. I actually slept really well Friday night which is atypical for me. I took a bottle of Boost and went to the bathroom and got ready to walk down for body marking. First mistake was I normally take more calories prior (this one’s kind of big). Walking to body marking was normal for an Ironman morning, nothing special. They put these really nice number on you thought which is cool. We met up with my family after body marking in the finishline stands and stayed there until walking in to the water. I usually take a Gu prior to start, another mistake (not as huge). I went into the water early, about 6:30am, because I read it’s hard to get good position if you don’t. I forgot how much it takes out of you to tread water for 30 minutes! I was feeling quite claustrophobic with all the people grabbing at arms and kicking legs (and this is before the start!) so I moved back quite a bit (another mistake). I was happily chatting with another woman and the cannon went off and so were we! Here it goes, the moment I’ve waited for! I got more punished in this swim start than I can remember in any other! Firstly, I started way too far back (another mistake) and I couldn’t swim because there were too many people in front of me. I kept calm even thought my goggles nearly got completely whacked off a few times and just remembered my goal was to cross the finish line. I did find some feet after 15-20 minutes of utter abuse but they were (no offense) slow feet. The trip around the turnaround boat was less than fun also. Coming back I did have some space and actually swam with a normal stroke for about 10 minutes, ahhhhh. We had to squeeze a little to get back into the South side of the pier so many people there, which I didn’t care about because the “real” race was about to begin! My time was unthinkable coming up the stairs, couldn’t believe I went that slow but then remembered my goal…..finish. The women’s transition tent was fuller than I’ve seen in a while but I sat my butt on a sliver of bench and got done what I needed and I was off. I get the the end of transition with my bike and guess what, no timing chip! Oh no, now I have to wait for that. No worries, my goal is to finish. Chip on the ankle and I’m off! My heartrate is super high which is not good when you are pacing off the heartrate! The course is quite hilly in general. Nothing steep just long and gradual (some not so gradual like Palani hill). I honored my heartrate monitor as planned. Unfortunately, this meant riding alot slower than I had planned. No worries, I’m riding on the Queen K in Ironman Hawaii!! The ride up to Hawi is much easier in a motorized vehicle than it is on the bike! Howling headwind and gradual climb mean slow climbing! My bike computer set-up is good, my aero-bottle is covering my speed, all I can easily see is my heartrate! I get to Hawi and await the wonderful tailwind but get greeted with a wierd tail-cross wind. These winds are very squirrely up here and I hung on to the handlebars tight for fear of getting knocked over……..worries of things to come, I don’t know. I actually enjoyed the ride back from Hawi after the winds settled a bit. My heartrate finally dropped some and I was able to pick up the pace, even in the headwinds on the way back. I felt strong and was passing people who flew by me on the way out. I must also mention that I really enjoyed (probably too much) watching the pro race while on the course and cheered them on as I was able to recognized them! How cool is this! The rest of the ride was uneventful and I felt, like the swim, I finally found a rhythm. I knew that because I had obeyed my heartrate so well on the bike, I was going to have a run to remember and couldn’t wait. Got back into town and was soooooo happy to see civilization again! I hydrated very well, urinated three times on the bike (sorry for the squeemish, no I didn’t get off the bike for this) which is unusual for me. Transition was great, volunteers here are absolutely wonderful!!!! Went out of T2 like a bullitt! I had to keep reminding myself I was running a marathon and slowed to a jog. The feeling (for a runner) of running down Ali’i Drive on the run is absulutely magical! I cannot even explain…..and I’m just starting the run! I jogged through transitions, no time to waist. I felt really good in the legs, I have never felt this good! Then, mile 8 or 9 goes by and the old side stitches start. NO, NOT NOW!!!! The problem with these other than shear pain is that I have to slow down and really control my breathing to just keep running (not have them go away). I have had these enough to know that they don’t go away unless you stop running which wasn’t an option, obviously. I wanted to keep running strong until the climb up Palani hill to Queen K because this where my family and the Dane were situated. I wanted them to feel like I was strong and feeling good…..which I was, from the hips down! I will mention that I greeted MJ coming in for her win on Palani hill and stopped to cheer this year’s winner on, she deserved that! Once you get back up to the Queen K, you’re on your own! It is so desolate out there and defines “aid station to aid station” for those of you who know. After what seemed an eternity, I got to the Energy Lab. Little did I know (another mistake) this is where the special needs area is (usually is half-way but here is at 17 mile point). The only problem with this is my second Gu flask was in that bag. No worries, I’m going to finish! I felt cramps in the stomach and stitches but my legs were really good coming out of the energy lab! I couldn’t believe how great my legs were at this point! I had to stop in the aid stations because of my stomach and was more frustrated than you can imagine!! I ran the rest of the way once I got back into town because, somehow, all those issues you dealt with on the Queen K disappear!! It was as magical as I dreamed of running down to Ali’i Drive and up to the finish line! I wish I could bottle it, I would be rich! The Dane met me on the finish ramp and I think I told him “that was hard”. That WAS hard but also the most enjoyable athletic experience I’ve ever had. I will tell you, I get tears just typing this. Like I said, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done; the most awesome athletic exeperience for sure!

The other wonderful and magical experience I had was marrying the love of my life and best friend, the Dane. We had an absolutely beautiful cerimony on the little known, Turtle Beach. It was a small cerimony but absolutely beautiful as the sun set on Kona, Hawaii. Don’t worry if you weren’t there, I thought about all of you who are meaningful in my heart as I stood there and as I rode through the desolation of Hawaii. We have magnificant pictures and can’t wait to share them with you all. Thanks to everyone who made both of these experiences not only possible but thoroughly enjoyable! So, keep training and pushing yourselves, we still have the Ironman70.3 World Championships on Nov. 11th! I, believe it or not, cannot wait for the mainland version of Kona! I’ll do the best I can, you can count on that! See you there and will keep you posted prior. Aloha and my deepest maholo!!!

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Alive and well in Kona
October 18th, 2006
Since my laptop doesn’t seem to want to participate in WiFi, I’m sitting in the lobby of the King K hotel where they were nice enough to set up a few PC’s. We made it here safe and sound despite the earthquake. Our luggage was on the flight after ours so no worries there, especially since we’re only about 10 minutes from the airport. We went to a breakfast put on by the MarkAllenOnline coaching people and Mark and Luis spoke to us after which was nice. Then, we headed to the pier where I did an interview for the people wanting to follow my story (see a few posts back). Funny, they wanted to have me run a little bit down this sidewalk and I still had weird legs from the 14 hours of sitting on a plane so I’m sure I looked drunk or something. Well, I wasn’t. Then, I went through registration and they were all very nice and very organized. This place is truly surreal. The energy you feel here is real. We are going to do a swim in the am then I’ll ride for an hour or so. No other real plans for tomorrow but I’ll probably want to do something non-race related!

We were lucky enough to have many of our friends get together with us on Sunday afternoon for lunch to send us off. It was really wonderful for everyone to show up and celebrate with us and we really appreciated it! The Dane and I feel so lucky to have such wonderful and supportive people in our lives! So, I hope ya’ll can follow along on Saturday but, like I said, I may enjoy it so much I want to spend more time on the course! Aloha and mahalo!

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Finally packing
October 15th, 2006
Well, there’s no looking back now! I will get in an easy 40 minute run today then the rest of my workouts will be in Kona. I’m sure I will feel very small and unfit compared to all the great athletes I’ll see out there! I will continue to remind myself, though, of all the hard work I have put in to this. I have anxiety about the trip, mostly surrounding my bike case not getting there and stuff like that. I don’t have anxiety about my fitness and training, which for me is unusual leading into an ironman race. I usually feel like “I should have run more” or “I should have done more open water swims”…stuff like that. I don’t really feel that this time - maybe I will once I’m out on the race course! I am looking forward to having a really fun time out there and will try not to ruminate over the stuff I cannot control. I’ll try and blog from Kona but don’t know about wireless access out there. So, I’ll sign in from Kona and blab about all the tri geeks I’ve seen! Can’t wait! Train and race smart and aloha!

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Made it to taper in one piece!
October 10th, 2006
So, it’s officially taper time! Yahooo! So, I won’t be talking about any epic training weekend today because those are all in the books. Now, time is better spent resting, sharpening and getting mentally ready. I’m planning to treat this like any other ironman as far as taper. I’m not totally following the plan in my MAO training program because I can’t due to limitations on pool times. Suffice it to say, I won’t be doing a lot but what I do will be high quality. I have to admit I’m nervous about competing in Kona but I will take what the day gives, do the best I can and try to remain positive all day out there. I know a few people anyway, think I’m going to do really well which is really nice, but my only goal is to finish. If I should happen to do well, that’s great but I’m not going to make that my goal starting out. That’s not because I’m not competitive, it’s because this is a whole different ball game and, from what I hear, in Kona plans and goals can get squashed in a heartbeat. It is my first race out there afterall, so I want to make sure I finish - which is my first goal in any ironman I have done.

The weekend consisted of a 3 1/2 hour ride with a 4-mile brick on Saturday then a 90 minute run on Sunday. The ride and brick went fine, although I’ve noticed I feel better running off 100+ mile rides now! Sounds crazy, I know. The run Sunday was weird. I felt very achey in the legs and quite washed out all day. I’m not too concerned because I know this can happen at the beginning of taper - the body is used to doing major volume then that gets cut back and leaves you feeling really tired. That feeling should resolve in the next couple days……..I hope! I don’t have a whole lot planned this week. Just swam about 2500 yards yesterday. Will do some intensity on the bike trainer tonight. Do another swim in the am tomorrow and a run with some quick sections tomorrow after work. I’ll decide on the workouts later in the week once I see how these next couple days go. At any rate, I’ve done some great training volume and feel really ready, just want to go in fully tapered and rested. Almost aloha time………

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October 4th, 2006
I have the nicest friends/swimming partners. They brought in a huge basket full of goodies for me at swimming this morning…….at 5am, mind you. Isn’t that just the sweetest thing? I sure think so. Now when I say goodies, I’m talking Gu, MotorTabs, Gatorade, Aleve and, my favorite on long rides, salty beef sticks! These are goodies to an Ironman. No, we’re not normal. Just in case that was in question. Getting closer…….

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October 2nd, 2006
The bib numbers are up for Kona, I’m 1262 (my new favorite number)! I’m so excited actually having an official number now! Keeps my motivation up when it lags at times, which isn’t very often.

Good weekend of training overall. The Dane is back and all is right with the world! We rode 110 miles with 4 mile brick on Saturday. Have to admit, my legs were feeling pretty dead about 80 miles into the ride, must be cumulative effect of weeks on end of long rides/runs. The brick, however, went really well. My heart rate stayed lower than previous attempts with faster pace. Long run Sunday went really well. When I downloaded the info into the software for the Forerunner, it showed 17.45 miles at 8:05 pace with average HR of 140. I was surprised at my heart rate being so low. Yes, it was a bit cooler but I wore a shirt to make sure I heated up some during the run. I know it’ll be much hotter in Kona in the middle of the afternoon but I think I’m prepared for that. When I compare the run to all my other long runs, it’s at faster pace with lower heart rate which is the main objective. I am ready for taper but doesn’t really start this week, except long ride and run are a bit shorter. I may shorten them more if I need to - I’m typically very aggressive with taper because I’m usually so shelled going into it! We’ll see how the week goes. So, another week of regular training basically, although I get to stop the weights now. Gee, a whole hour is freed up now! Train smart…

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Epic and lonely
September 26th, 2006
So, last weekend was the longest ride on the training schedule. Supposed to be 7 hours, I got back home in 6:40 and felt rolling around the neighborhood for 20 minutes just to satisfy my log was pointless. I did get in just over 118 miles, most of it on my own. I had some company for the first 2 1/2 hours although I did a lot of the pulling with this small group. I felt ok except I had a bit of nausea for most of the ride and I’m not sure why but I did manage this by switching from gatorade to water for a while and it mostly resolved. Kind of scary because I have a history of getting some pretty bad nausea in long races but have been ok the past couple years. Hopefully, this won’t come back to haunt me in Kona! I just think my drinks were not dilute enough. I also had (have had) a problem with my left foot getting numb. I always thought it was my cycling shoes but I think now it could be my saddle because Val noticed that my butt hits the saddle different on the left side. Once I thought about it more, it’s actually my entire left leg that gets painful after sitting in the aero bars for extended periods. Since I still have a few longer rides remaining, actually two, I went ahead and changed out my saddle to one that is a bit narrower in the back to see if this will be more comfortable. We’ll see. On a good note, my brick off the bike was awesome. My legs felt really, really good and I ran quite a bit faster than before with similar heart rate. Good sign!

The long run Sunday was a bit of a death march the last 45 minutes or so. I ran 2:40 and got in about 19.5 miles, roughly a 8:16-17 pace. I didn’t eat as well as usual on Saturday because my training parter/love of my life/chef is in Europe. I don’t like to cook and didn’t eat real well Saturday and I felt it on the run Sunday, just not fueled well. No major problem, just need to be more on top of the nutrition. But, I can partially blame the Dane anyway as he is castle-hopping in Vienna (he calls it work though)! I am all fueled up for another week and hope to get through it without any major setbacks! The Dane gets back home on Thursday night so I can stop scraping together crumbs, yeah! I have a trainer ride tonight, intervals, then off to the gym for weights. Tomorrow, swim in the am then run speedwork after work. Thurs, 10 mile run in the am then moderate ride after work. Friday is swim in am then moderate ride after work. The weekend will be 6:15 bike with brick on Sat then 2:20 run on Sunday. Hopefully, all will be with company! We’ll see how it goes with the new saddle. Until then, train smart…..

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Story and long ride Saturday
September 22nd, 2006
So, I get a call from a guy from Ironman who tells me that I have been chosen to be interviewed because of my “unique and inspirational” story. A synopsis of my story can be found here:;_ylc=X3oDMTRpZzc5NjNuBEFjdGlvbgNWaWV3IG1lc3NhZ2UESW50bAN1cwRMbmtUeXADUmVndWxhcgRSZXNQb3NBAzMEUmVzUG9zUgMzBFNyY2hDdXJyA21lc3NhZ2UEU3JjaERlc3QDbWVzc2FnZXZpZXcEX1F1ZXJ5SWQDMjEzMTEyNDE3MjQ1MTQwZjA2NDNmMTYEX1MDMTUwNTAwNjg0?MsgId=6499_0_101604_1534_2586466_1069607_7374_3359091_2760434194_oSObkYn4Ur5HQVz1mWzmsdtICT7CWEuHctpMSanfSdZ_qYleLUuWGBaBoN5_ocf5RpV8agjLMFGZphVzoW3x.js9JWSJwtxe9CWc9GMcUEyKSGuKYjI4h1NB9Vm3lmbLedHay7nwkqz_Ec07c27Zg_D9iwsT1TYALSQVSjs-&sbox=%40S%40Search&Idx=0&pos=0&Search=1&box=@S@Search&&

The guy on the phone says that they want to do an interview with me on site in Kona with a bit about my story and they are looking for someone to give interview for the local (Tampa Bay) tv affiliates. Not really sure what they want to do with this but, of course, I told him yes. So, he will call me again when I arrive in Kona to settle on day and time for the interview. I thought it was pretty cool and I hope that I can inspire someone else to do something they may not have thought possible and follow their dream. Speaking of dreams, the reality of training is that I have a seven hour ride with 30 minute brick on Saturday and a 2:40 run on Sunday. I have a few people who will do a few hours of the Saturday ride with me, then, I’m on my own since the Dane is in, well, Denmark. So, I’ll check in again after the weekend to report on my progress. Until then, train smart…

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Epic weekend of training
September 18th, 2006
This weekend, I did some things that I didn’t know I could do and, when I saw them on my schedule, didn’t think I would do! I did them and with pretty good outcomes. This was likely the biggest training weekend leading up to Kona, with exception of next weekend but my long run is a bit shorter next weekend. Started Saturday at 5:30 with some of the crew that is motivated to get a bike ride in early, thank goodness! We didn’t go to the hills to ride because it just takes too long when the ride and brick will add up to around 7 hours! We rode all over Pinellas county and the Dane joined me for the entire ride. Ride was 116 miles, about 6 1/2 hours. Then came the 30 minute brick. Let’s just say I better be more on top of my nutrition in Kona than I was Saturday! I was seriously glycogen-depleted and felt I might just lie down in someone’s yard and take a nap. That said, still ran first mile in 7:43 and last mile in 7:58, way too fast! This is partly why we do these workouts, to remind us how important fueling the body is during the bike so one may be able to run and not shuffle. The reason this was epic for me was I’ve never run off a ride any longer than 112 miles; I know 4 miles is no big deal but it is in my mental artillery for Kona. It should be noted that the Dane did the entire workout with me even though he is training for the 70.3 World Champs, not ironman! That’s dedication from a training partner! Anyway, we recovered with a couple beers at a local watering hole (after much pasta and other leftovers in the fridge) watching Michigan put it to Notre Dame. Sunday’s long run was 3 hours again. Thought this would be a real death march due to the 7 hour workout from Saturday. It ended up being a wonderful run. Got further than the last 3 hour run with a lower heart rate. What was epic about this run was I honestly felt I could hold this pace for another 6 miles - I didn’t feel that the last 3 hour run. I ended up with 22 miles at about 8:13-14 pace with average HR 143. I’m pretty excited about my run fitness right now and hope these long runs really pay off. I have a lot of confidence from all these runs that I have never had going into an Ironman. Especially since my long run last year for IM Florida was 11 miles….. once! So, have another long ride/brick this coming Saturday and the Dane will be gone so will end up doing much of it on my own, which is fine and VERY race specific! The long run is 2:40 and I will do that alone but no biggie doing the long run alone, I used to do all my runs alone. So, really getting geared up here! Train smart…..and start thinking about packing!

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Into the meat of the program
September 11th, 2006
Well, the title says it all. I’m smack in the meat of the training program now. Speed work in the middle of the week on the bike and run (swimming with master’s is always speedwork!), power sessions in the weight room twice per week and then the pivitol long ride and run on the weekend. There is literally no more time or energy for anything else, except work, of course. Had a good week last week except for the weather dictating some of the workouts, I’m sick of the rain! Ran 400’s and 800’s last Wednesday evening with the Dane and Mark A. Started out pretty gently as this can be a long workout if you blast out of the gates. We do speedwork in a park with a crushed shell path and have the 400’s and 800’s marked out by GPS. Started out running around 90 seconds for the first set of 4 x 400, which is 6-min/mile pace. The 800’s were difficult but held about 3:07-3:09 pace for 3 x 800. The second set of 4 x 400 were tough because we were pretty gassed from the workout (hence, not starting out too hard). I managed to run these around 86-87 seconds, which is sub-6-min/mile pace. What? How can I even run that fast? Guess it must be the aerobic engine that I have been painfully stoking for 12 weeks now. I must say, I haven’t run that fast for a number of years so I was pretty surprised. It wasn’t easy but this workout is intended to be anaerobic which it certainly was at the end! Whew. The Dane and I then got up at 4:15 am on Thursday morning to hammer out 10.5 miles before work. We used to swim on Tues and Thurs morning but we lost a coach and now cannot swim those mornings so are doing our other workouts. The weekend ride was excellent. Went 5:45 in the hills with the usual group and got in about 108 miles. The run Sunday was 2:30 and I got in 18.1 miles with super low (for me) average heart rate of 143 - couldn’t really get my legs moving too fast so just settled in for long, easy run. So I get on the MarkAllenonline website this morning and I’m greeted with “you have 5 weeks and 5 days until your ironman race”. If that doesn’t get you up in the morning, I don’t know what will! I’m getting both very tired and very excited, hoping the latter wins out over the former! Train smart……

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For those of you who followed my blog on trifuel, welcome to my new blog. I was getting way too much spam on that site which was driving me nuts! I also, hopefully, will be able to post pictures on this site much easier. I have tons of pics from Kona and can't wait to share them. I have done almost nothing workout-wise since Ironman, which was the plan since we do have the Ironman 70.3 world championship race on Nov. 11th. I will do some seriously unstructured training this next week, resting and eating!