Monday, April 27, 2009

St Anthony's tri, er, duathlon - sort of

So, the winds picked up on Saturday in St Pete, just as predicted on the Weather Channel. I wasn't too concerned about the wind - after surviving Kona in October and getting through New Orleans 70.3, I felt it wasn't going to be anything new. Get to transition on Sunday morning, doing the normal bike checks and finishing touches and the announcement comes, the swim for the amateurs is cancelled. The girls in my wave were all sort of standing around wondering if it was a joke and if the elites would get the option to swim. No joke, no option, no swim for us. I've been busting my butt and swimming quite well (in the pool) for me so ready to get a new PR for this course. Not to be and the rest of the day was very strange to say the least. The Bay was a washing machine and the pro's, who had to swim, echoed this for the most part. I had a nice long run warm up with Cassie M then we headed for the "line up" for our time trial start. A start I've never done as I'm sure most people here hadn't. Totally not warmed up, we sprinted through transition, got our bikes and started the bike portion of the race as if it was a normal race. It wasn't. It's really hard to go into the bike hurt box with no warm up. That said, we were all in the same boat. I rode really hard at the outset, wanting to get warmed up in a hurry. It was quite windy but not as bad as New Orleans, IMO. I settled down into my pre-planned power zones and went for a new bike PR for the course. A few packs of girls got away but I had a couple girls that wanted to keep trading the lead and we did the last ten miles or so legally pacing which kept me engaged mentally. Got off the bike and had my usual slow transition but got out onto the run and didn't feel hot but I've come to the conclusion, I'm not supposed to feel good off the bike if I ride hard enough. Settle in around 6:30 pace but gradually slowed and wanted to be done! I got passed in the finish shoot and though not happy about it, I couldn't do anything. Felt bad because Brian Harrington was saying such nice things about me (Bri, thank him for me!). I wasn't happy about my overall result but the positive is I biked a PR and ran about 2 minutes faster than last year. We can all pontificate about what the swim would have done or not done but the result is what it is for everyone. I likely won't do this race next year because of New Orleans 70.3 which is going to be one week prior and I know I can't recover that fast - I barely recovered enough in three weeks! Age is a real buzz kill! The Dane got his top ten finish and hardware he so desired and his body is ok so we can move on. We will do some open water swimming and see what 70.3 races we can do to get the Dane into Clearwater since Disney is closed. We had a lot of fun post race hanging out with everyone and trading war stories and made sure the beer tent volunteers were busy and entertained! Thanks to everyone who cheered me on and if I didn't acknowledge you, I heard you! Onward.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

And, oh by the way...

If you haven't seen this, (and who hasn't) it inspires me on a whole 'nother level. Go Kara G.(she reminds me so much of Cath, my BFF).

Pre St Anthony's Tri

Cool flyover in NSB

Relaxing in NSB

So, we're on the eve of St Anthony's tri. One of the biggest olympic distance triathlons in the country and very competitive. Time to bring the A-game. Unfortunately, I think I left my A-game in the Big Easy. That said, I am racing tomorrow in the Elite Amateur division so the ass kicking will be big. Got a target on my back (locally) and that's ok and a compliment. The expo was awesome and the Dane worked his arse off and hopefully, helped Outspokin. I, on the other hand, can't sell anything! Off topic, the Dane and I just watched "Seven Pounds" and I only recommend it if you have a box of kleenex nearby! It did, however, remind me how lucky I am to be doing this sport on this level. It was only 11 years ago that I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and thought my athletic life was over. It wasn't totally over, just slower and I truly appreciate every athletic adventure that I can embark upon because I do really think of all of this as a gift. If you ever wonder, just ask me. So, my only message is to do what you can with what you have because you never know when your body will take a nosedive on you! As Spencer (smith) says, go to the hurt box and embrace it! I will do that tomorrow and be at peace that I am able to still do this. Tick, tick, tick......
Kia Kaha

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pics from New Orleans 70.3

I'll walk you through this agonizing blog. First pic, yup, took the time to remove my wetsuit prior to hitting to swim timing mat, duh. Next is biking the bridge, headwind is ugly here (no, I wasn't drafting, just getting ready to pass). Next, boy, I didn't think I said anything nasty to that girl but I sure have the bitch face on! Next, yes, it was hot (note red face)! And, finally, glad as hell to finish!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fun weekend, not racing!

Gorillas in the mist, er fog

The Queen of the Fort and me

The Athena battle starts!

We pretty much took most of last week off from training due to soreness, my cut up feet, generalized fatigue and getting slammed at work. The Dane is still rehabbing his bum hip but we think we've nailed down what it is. We got to go and watch the Escape From Fort Desoto sprint tri on Sat which we normally race but we were not in any condition to do so this year. It was super foggy, very strange for this race - normally, it's so windy that fog never has chance to form! It figures I miss the one year that there is no wind on the bike! We had our fair share of wind in New Orleans 70.3, that's for sure! It was a lot of fun to see people I haven't seen in a while because this is usually the first race of the season for local triathletes. We had a guest appearance by Cassie M (an age group, mine of course, 70.3 World Champ) and it was fun to spend some time with her; she, literally, ran away with the overall win for the women! Bravo Cassie. We had the Mad Dog party after that and the 70.3 World Championship lottery give out, I don't need one for '09 now! for Easter Sunday, an easy ride today with the Dane, short run then an open water swim in the chop. A perfect Easter Sunday for us - a long day on the beach! Two weeks to St Anthony's and hoping the legs come around this week so I can do some fast running and hard biking to prep for that race. Hope everyone had a great Easter! I think the race director for New Orleans 70.3 should put me on the payroll because I told everyone I know that it was an awesome event and we'll be back in '10! Official invite for my family to join us for a super fun event!
On to Easter dinner that chef Anders is cooking!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

pics from Nola

Click the link, I'm not buying these but I liked the suit I came up with...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Laissez les bon temps roulez 70.3

This race was on the calender because I've never been to New Orleans so it was a good excuse to go. Since I end up using all my vacation time from work doing triathlons, I like to make them count as "real" vacations whenever possible. It also was very early on the schedule, much earlier than I have ever done a 70.3 distance race so we had to be good about training early on when it was still cold. Luckily, we have a great group of people who braved the cold with us many mornings to get workouts in, be it swimming or biking. Thanks to all our great training partners who braved the long winter (for Florida).
On to the trip, er...race. I always thought of this trip as a cool trip with a race in it. I wasn't going to compromise too much on the fun aspect or the walking around aspect, it is New Orleans after all. I figured if all the fun bar hopping we did hurt me, so be it - I'm on vacation. As with any traveling race, if you forget things, which we all inevitably do, you can pick stuff up at the expo. Usually, not here though. I'm sure that will improve - it is a first year race after all. We got into NOLA early on Friday morning and got checked into the hotel and got familiar with our surroundings. We found a micro brewery near the race hotel so tested it out on our way to pick up our packets. Got our packets after an entertaining mandatory race meeting and all was smooth as silk. I'm sure we found another bar on the way back to our hotel on the edge of the French Quarter. Had to assemble the bikes prior to anymore bar visiting so did this then got back out. We ate at an Italian place called Bacco on Friday night and it was yummy. One thing for sure, there is no lack for restaurants in NOLA. Anyway, we did do a short run Saturday morning and felt pretty good in general - should have, I took both Thursday and Friday off which I don't normally do but I was really tired and worried the taper wasn't "kicking in". The bulk of Saturday was spent traveling to transition (you NEED a car for this race), standing in line for the mechanics and checking out the largest transition area I've ever seen. That's why they were saying it's the biggest 70.3 race in the world! Got racked with no issues and headed back to the hotel to gussy up for dinner. We went to a place called Attiki for dinner (actually, just went there for a couple beers but ended up staying) - really good, Middle Eastern flare type of place. Back to hotel early to get up early race morning. I woke an hour before the alarm (3am) with some nerves and excitement for the first race of the year. I looked out the window and it was very cloudy and windy. Got the Dane up and we planned to drive to transition (then take shuttle back afterwards to drive back with bikes - thanks Phillip L for the advice here). I brought oatmeal but had no way to eat it (no spoon, bowl, etc) so just consumed most of a Cliff bar and felt that was going to have to do - mistake number one. Got to transition (which is a Katrina tour each trip - very eye-opening) and had no issues. I had until 8:30am for my wave - the last wave of the day. It was raining a bit and that added a few extra challenges but I felt ok. Did a little run and felt ok. Walked a mile to swim start with 3000 of our best friends. The pro's got off at 7am. Lake Pontchartrain was calm as the winds were out of the south. The Dane was in the wave right before me which was good because we could sit around together and figure out where to line up, etc. The swim is a straight shot, west to east with bouys on the left demarcating the edge. I had a good start but tussled with a couple girls early on and had no draft the entire way - bummer. Got out onto the bike and could feel the wind straight away. I also could see that my SRM was not registering speed (or distance as result) so this would be my "power only" race. The roads for the first 20K are pretty bumpy concrete but not unreasonable. The roads also, some of them major highway, WERE COMPLETELY CLOSED! This, my friends, is a treat. I was concerned, being in the last wave, of the bike traffic but it was pretty well spread out and pretty easy to get around people - which is what I did for 56 miles. I went by power only and pretty much nailed my numbers. It was very windy, second only to Kona in my experience, but I concentrated on my power numbers and that kept me very engaged on an otherwise releatively boring (unless you like swamp land) bike course. The only hills were the bridges heading out and back in. Not much drafting going on except for the guy on the P3 who felt the need to sit on my wheel for a long stretch - not much draft off a 105 pound 41 y/o woman, must be desperate! Anyhow, totally uneventful ride but the wind gets to you after a while - the last 20 miles or so (no odometer here) was into a block head wind and reminded me of the Queen K so I kept my head about me. What I didn't do, is drink enough or take salt - mistake number 2. It was very humid and I was sweating a ton but I was totally focused on getting around other people and not getting my front wheel into a hole in the road. Off the bike, back onto the feet-cutting mile long transition area. Onto the run and I knew straight away I wasn't gonna have the run I wanted. The first 3.5 miles were into a really stiff, steady headwind. I felt horrible and tried adjusting pace to get better - the only adjustment that stuck was running much slower. Saw the Dane at just over mile 5 standing there waiting as he had a hip problem and couldn't continue. I was worried but he told me to continue, so I did. The only other gripe about the race was that the aid stations were 1 1/2 miles apart on the run when I'm used to (and plan for) every mile. This wasn't good as I was already dehydrated and not feeling well at all. I got quite dizzy and woozy at mile 9 and had to full stop. I thought I might pass out for a minute but gathered and walked a bit - there wasn't an aid station in sight. I jogged again and once at the next aid station, took everything they had. I was quite warm and humid at this point and wanted cola......bad. They had no cola at any aid station which is not something I'd planned for (these races always have cola at least later on). It was brutal and I had blood pooling in my shoe a bit from the chunks of skin I'd lost in transition area. I was ready to be done. Got to mile 12 and saw 4:52 on the watch. I wanted (and expected) to get under 5 hours so really had to hustle here. You get closer to the finish and thus closer to the French Quarter, it is amazing and loud. This finish gave me goose bumps! It was second only to Kona in number of people and excitement level - I thought I was winning the Olympics or something. I didn't quite get under 5 hours (went 5:00:11) but felt like I did what I could on the day. I hustled around to get on the shuttle back to transition area to find the Dane because I was worried about him. Got there and he was sitting on the curb near his bike, poor thing. We hobbled back to the car and drove back to the hotel. Got to the awards party right on time, took my Clearwater slot (thanks Pam K - I owe you) and went for a wonderful dinner at Nola. Pampered and fed, we hit the town for a while and just absorbed New Orleans. I loved it and will be back. Aside from the cut up feet, saddle sore the size of a walnut and one toenail coming off, this was an awesomely fun race in a totally unique locale. I'm sure it will get more competitive next year but I'll be ready and hopefully, won't make all the rookie mistakes. Thanks to everyone for the well wishes and everything. We're going to heal up, volunteer at Escape From Fort Desoto sprint tri Sat and prep for St Anthony's on 4/26. P.S. the woman on the song that pops up, Irma Thomas, sung our national anthem for the race. The whole town of New Orleans was so nice and positive - you get such a good vibe here. Great for racing! I'm sending an official invite to my family to join us next year for all the NOLA fun!

Monday, April 06, 2009

quickie report from NOLA

I'll do a proper report from home but wanted to say a few things now while my body still feels the pain of racing. First, this was one of the best, coolest races I've ever done. We had the roads all to ourselves and a finish line experience that was a very close second to Kona. I wasn't particularly pleased with my times but a win is a win. I actually won overall Masters which I've never seen awarded at a 70.3 event so that was really cool. We have to pack up to return home today - wish we had another day to hang out. The Dane was rocking this race until something seized up in his hip early on in the run - he couldn't run through it and was very hobbled to even walk. He was really upset about this because he was having a great race. We'll return home to repair our bodies and move on. Thanks for all the well wishes.
laissez les bon temps roulez

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hi from NOLA

From my most awesome iPod touch, blogging from restaurant in Nola. Bikes are checked and ready to rock. The Dane and I are having a real vacation, it's nice and fun. Race tomorrow, NO expectations.