Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Augusta 70.3

The day before I was pretty calm, and nerves only hit while I was in line with all these amazing people wearing shirts from other ironman and half-ironman races. I felt a bit….small. But, I saw many friendly faces, chatted and relaxed and moved on quickly. Enjoyed the inspiration dinner (Shout out to Cliff. He gave a very inspirational speech. Loved it.). Soon after I went upstairs to sleep…which I did…until 2:59.

Race day came and I felt pretty good. We met in the lobby and I remember how good the peanut butter smelled. Mmmm…I promised myself peanut butter after the race. I stuck with my pre-race meal – it works for me.

There was a call for rain that day. Luckily I had garbage bags for my transition gear. First time syndrome set in. First I forgot if I set up in front of or behind our front wheel. I knew my set up, but was clueless where it went. Thought of Darren for the first of many times of the day. Luckily I had many experienced teammates around to ask for a reminder. I had no problem, though, with the order and positioning of my gear. I fussed and fidgeted with my transition – trying to decide if I wanted to put all my gear in the garbage bag or not. Finally I decided I could do no more…left my transition set up in the garbage bag and headed out to catch the shuttle to the swim start. I caught up with Susan, Belinda and a few other team mates and so hopped the bus with them. Grateful for the company

I walked to the swim start with Cameron, Chris and Lindsay. Once at the swim start Alec joined us as well. Our group slowly grew until we dispersed in preparation for our swim start.

I was in the woman’s 35-39 age group…and it was an awesome group. There were about 13 of us from the GA time there: Joanna, Barrett, Susan, Pam, Belinda, Kim, Lauren (two of ‘em!) I can name off the top of my head.. I loved it. As we moved up I felt very relaxed – chatting, dancing to the music and laughing. I hopped in the water no problem and moved up towards the from of the line. As I looked back I saw how huge our group was. They really could have broken our group in to two. Wow! And before I know it the horn blew and we were off. I started off OK, but then couldn’t breath because of the water lapping in my face. I tried keeping my head out but I quickly realized that if I kept turning my head side-to-side I was going to exhaust myself. I did what I could and decided to turn on to my back and backstroke. I was worried, confused, and honestly felt like I was not going to make the swim. I swam like that past the bridge still doing the back stroke…still keeping pace with most people. I decided then and there that I need to try a 5k swim to practice.

I started to relax and decided to flip over. Still didn’t work, but it was better. I retuned to my back for a few strokes and then returned to my front and it clicked again. I found my rhythm. I didn’t think, I just kept going, counting my strokes. I was afraid to sight, but did periodically. More often I glanced to the side and made sure I saw some yellow swim caps around me. At least with the river current I could not swim too far off course! I started sighting more, relaxing more, and feeling more confident.

After this point I never thought I wouldn’t finish. I never thought of the finish, but I never had any doubts creep back in. I was ready and felt great!

When we finally reached the swim exit I started running up – and heard Mary and Mike yelling and cheering. I started smiling – something that didn’t leave my face until well after finishing. I had gotten the swim done. After that my heart beat remained normal, breathing normal, and I just enjoyed.

I messed up here, and put my helmet on before my sunglasses. Darren’s talk about transition and the order to do things was running through my head – accent and all. Dang. I dinked around a bit trying to get them inside the helmet bands and quickly decided to undo my chin strap and move on. I was set. I grabbed my bike and headed out.

I felt great on the bike. Loved it. It was raining at this point, but it was the first time I have ridden in the rain and ignorance is bliss. I honestly felt like we were given license to play in the rain. I smiled the entire time. I went little faster than my other rides, but I felt great and my legs were not tired. I went with it. I was comfortable with the course and knew the hills would not really be a challenge. I felt ready. I passed people, and also became very familiar with the woosh-woosh-woosh of the disc wheels as the riders with them passed me.

I loved the course: getting to click through the gears and feel my speed increase. You can thank Jane Eastman for creating that monster in me. As I looked back to my first long ride thinking “How will I get through 56 miles” to how much fun it is now that I am watching for opportunities to gain speed, and listening and watching for when I need to change gears and reading my body – wow! Exponential increase in enjoying the bike. That combined with all the activity on the course my time on the bike just flew by.

The home stretch came up fast. I knew what to do, and started spinning out. I was at a great pace. I was a little nervous remembering Darren talking about how a little extra speed on the bike can kill you on the run. But I had felt great on the entire ride and was still feeling good.

The transition went well. I was not speedy. Loved my dry socks and shoes. Worth the time.

Once geared up I headed out.

I felt strong and did not struggle, but I had no speed in my legs. Every other run off the bike I had had speed. This time…nope. Darren returned to my head with his talk at Moe’s about how just a little increase in bike speed can kill your run.. However, I took it as it was, was glad I felt strong and went with it. I headed out and saw Mary, Mike and Darren cheering away. A little cheering does good for the legs.

The run was the hardest part. I walked all water stops. My stomach was telling me if I ate anything sweet it would consider causing problems. I ended up running the 13.1 on water, one salt packet, and 4 sharkies. My stomach cooperated though. Victory!

Where the first lap split from those finishing the 13.1 I saw the TNT tent and people I know cheering wildly. I know I picked up my pace a little (naturally).

As I came to the end of the run I started picking up my pace. I threw off the sponges I had in my jersey and handed Carlos my water bottle. I rounded the corner to hear the cheering of Mike, Mary, Darren, Mary, Jessica and teammates. I actually had enough kick left to sprint it in. I finished and was thrilled! Loved it! I was stunned with my time, excited (even if I was disappointed with my run speed – it still beat my expectations). I am so ready to go again…and go for more!

I wasn’t emotional until Tuesday at work…putting together how far I have come in two years, remembering how grateful I am for so many people who love life and share that love willingly. Without Team it would have been another mark in my life – a challenge to finish and move on. With Team it is friends, heroes, inspiration, and an experience of a lifetime! And about eating peanut butter and enjoying every bite.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Looking ahead

Today was our last group ride before Augusta. It was short - 20 miles. We are deep in taper mode. While riding today I realized how much I love gathering speed as I shift through the exhilarating.It is a high..

We have one more group swim, a few short workouts on our own, and then it is event weekend. Always sad to see an event pass; to have a team end. Always exciting to start training for the next event, and to be part of a new team.

I am pretty excited about the Augusta Ironman 70.3. It is my first triathlon. My wave start is 8:18 with the 35-39 women age group. My bib number is 1201. I have no idea what to expect really. Well, let me rephrase that - our coaches and teammates have been talking about what to expect, and I have some idea, but in reality this really means I know what I need to do...I am not sure how it will all play out. I know I can swim strong. I know I can keep a 17 mph average on the bike. I know I have had fast runs off the bike. Will I be able to maintain that run for 13.1 after riding my heart out for 56 miles? Is my pace too fast? I am not sure...but I plan on doing the best I can and suffer (and learn from) the consequences. I am ready. I have learned what I can, now it is time to play...and learn from that for the next time!

I don't like to look past an event, but I am looking forward to what's coming up after. I have had the opportunity to join a relay team to run the Southern Odyssey relay. 200 miles from Athens, GA to Marietta Georgia with a team of 12. I am really excited.

After that I plan to run Richmond, VA. This is exciting as I have family there, and I can't wait to see them. I don't go to Richmond to see my family there nearly enough, and am really looking forward to seeing them all, and enjoying the visit and getting to run the marathon. I am a little nervous about the actual run. I have done great cross training, but I am a little worried about stepping up my running (a little) and getting in two long runs after Augusta. One long run will be in relay form at the Southern Odyssey. Not ideal, but fun and worth it! Luckily I have spoken with a few people - one being a team mate (Lauren) and she is running New York 6 weeks later. She build up my confidence about my being able to still do well at the event just when it was waning. Gotta love my team mates.

Then I plan on resting...relatively. I was planning on running Napa Marathon, but will be delaying it. I want to start running some hill repeats and tempo runs....start building strength. Then, January 8 the fun begins: Ironman training.

So, there will be a lot to write about over the next few months.

Oh yeah - one last thing. I hope to order room service after Augusta. First time in my life! I'll let you know if I go through with it or look at the prices and go down to a breakfast buffet!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


For this entire season tri training has been pretty relaxed. Intense, but relaxed. We can mix things up for training, switch rest weeks, and more. Now it is less than 10 days to the event and....we learn the rules. Most of them are with regards to the bike: no drafting, you must stay 4 lengths behind anyone except when passing, when passing you have 20 seconds to pass, you must remain on the right side as far as possible or else you are blocking, et cetera. At three penalties you are disqualified. There are time penalties for violations. You actually have to go sit in a penalty tent.

You must put on your helmet before taking your bike off the rack, and leave it on until it is back on the rack.

Other rules include you can not receive any external help and people can not join you at any point along the course.

All these rules make me a little nervous. I don't want to mess something up and get disqualified.

And so, in less than 10 days I will be participating in my first triathlon. Besides being nervous about the rules and possible mechanical failures on the bike, I am pretty excited. It's all new to me. I have loved training, and think this will be a fantastic experience. I hope so as I have signed up for more next year! 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Great weekend for a holiday!

This weekend's weather couldn't have been more perfect. So many friends have been posting about terrific runs and rides. Love it!

And so this weekend is the first of two as we peak for Augusta. It started off with a 68 mile ride in Cartersville followed by a 2 mile run. Yesterday was a 16 mile run, and today a 2500 meter swim in open water. It has been terrific! Add to it a lot of time spent with teammates and friends and well....I can't ask for too much more. None of the activities this weekend have been official group training sessions (GTS), but I still spent a lot of time with my outstanding teammates.

Saturday's ride was 68 miles. One group was leaving at 7 (eh - we left at 7:12) and a second at 7:30. This would be a.m.! I felt strong up through mile 48, and then periodically would get a "legs of jello" feeling. However, it would soon fade (as I have learned) and even towards the end we were averaging 20+ mph on the flats. Seven of us stayed pretty close to each other until the last 15 miles or so when "horse to the barn" syndrome takes over...and you just go as best you can. There is a section at about 5 miles out where you can just put the hammer down...and it feels great after pushing through all the hills. Then getting of the bike to it, even though it is hard. The transition from bike to run is rough. However, I have great times on my run after I bike (sub 9 minute miles). I know for Augusta I am going to have to rely on my Garmin to slow me down to about a 10 minute mile, or the run portion will not be pretty! If my Garmin doesn't work that day for some reason, I know I can rely on my watch and mile markers. Regardless, I love running off the bike. I think because it is hard. However, I have my nutrition down, and that makes a big difference getting to the run.

Sunday was a run. I ran 16 - a mile or so more than posted, but I wanted a 16 miler to prepare for the marathon I want to do 7 weeks after Augusta. I started the first 8 with two friends - Joanna and Tushar. Most times, the day after a long bike, I run a 10:30 - 11 minute mile. Yesterday we ran a 9:45 average (and Joanna has been injured). It must have been a combination of the weather, flat terrain and company. For the second half I met up with someone else i know from TNT. We have chatted at the last GTS - Duane. I know he has done Ironman triathlons, but I jumped in. We averaged 9 minute miles or so - and he ran with me for 6 miles. I finished the last two on my own. While we were running he mentioned his wife, and it turns out I had been her mentor for Marine Corps Marathon last year! So I get to see Christi on her birthday! Yea. Funny thing was we had met before, but I hadn't put everything together...until Duane and I ran together. Anyway, I was impressed that I could keep up, and hold a conversation with him. He did slow down his pace a fair bit to run with me...and he pushed me along. Always exciting to know you can push yourself just a little bit more.

Today there was a group meeting for an open water swim - 8:30 we met (a.m. again here!). I got to sleep in! Woo hoo! Anyway, I love open water swims. My body and mind hit a zone pretty quickly that I hit in running at about mile 8 (my favorite part of the run). Once you are in that zone you just go...and I went. I will not win a swimming race, but I can swim strong and well, and enjoy it.

All of this is topped off by the fact that before and after each sport I got to talk with friends - hear stories, get to know them a bit. I eat out a lot more than I ever did in the past...all to spend time with my teammates and now friends. I actually value this time as much as training. I get annoyed when I have to pass up these opportunities because a client may call, or I have work to do. This is new. Sometimes I feel like a slacker...but then I remind myself that there is more to life than work. Work is important, but it is not everything, and everything in my life should not bow to work. I know many would disagree with me. I spent many years of my life that way. If I find a job I am passionate about things may change, but for now it works for me. For now I am grateful for the opportunities I have to reach out and meet others. For now I am grateful to be a part of something bigger than me, and bigger than what my goals are. For now that all makes me very happy.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

An introduction

Usually I am a pretty closed off person. Today, though, I decide to take a risk and start my own blog. Over the next few months I will talk about training for Ironman Arizona in November 2011. Training starts on January 8, so I have plenty of time to talk about other things...such as Augusta 70.3 coming up September 26, and the Richmond Marathon on November 13.

I know a lot can happen in the next 15 months. I have no idea. Injuries that end my adventure can occur (although I hope not and will do my best to take care of myself), accidents can happen, sickness (one of which I am raising money to cure) can happen, family events occur and...well...who knows. But, this is something you have to plan, and take the punches as they come.

I know there are times I will be grouchy and in a bad mood (so I have heard - to what extend I shall learn). I know I will be pushed as I have never been pushed before. And I can't wait!

So, welcome to my blog. It will be an adventure. I am excited. To me this is living...early bed times, early mornings, long rides, long runs, swims....Yea!

About the title (warning - thoughts will start wandering. I will usually be direct, but this has been a wandering path influenced by many). It comes from the movie Life is Beautiful. I remember the first time I saw it I cried at how hard so many people fought to live. And there I sat with opportunity slowly killing myself...staying safe...staying distant...and I sat there and cried. I was embarrassed and sad. I have worked for a long time to regain my vibrancy and my zest for shed my fear of judgement.

When I started running with Team I was immersed in a group of people that truly love life. I was immersed in so many heroes that are fighting for life. This time I was immersed, and life was demonstrated to me every day. This time I was ready...and I slowly put the pieces together. A friend died of cancer. His blog that he wrote as he fought inspired me to live. I started seeing life and love everywhere - families, smiles, tears, fears, finding a plan B: it all made life.

And here i am - so excited about a new adventure. So excited that I get to train for an ironman! So excited that I get to swim, bike and run. The ironman is a goal....getting there is the adventure and a big life event in itself. Life s messy. Life isn't always as you plan it. Life is what you make it.

La Vita e Bella!