Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Leaving Maine

I just got home after spending the last week in Maine with my parents and my best friend and her kids. It's always a crazy, exciting, exhausting time when Alina's kids are there with mine. I shed a few tears when leaving. (My tears were nothing compared to my oldest daughter's, though. She was so sad to leave!) 

I love the beach, I love being away from the humdrums of home, I love hanging out with my my good friend from high school! I also love working out in Maine. I was able to get in a few ocean swims, a nice ride out to Fortune's Rocks in Biddeford, and a few good runs. 

This morning's run was the best and my longest since Timberman. It was very cool , almost autumn-like and very quiet because it's so late in the season. I was able to do the middle 4 miles at marathon pace (8:00) so that's good. The rest of the run was pretty slow. I did two ocean water swims--both around 40 minutes. 

On Saturday I went with Alina, which was great, except that it was hard to keep close to her. The ocean was very rough with huge swells and I had a pretty hard time keeping a straight line.  

My bike ride to Fortune's Rocks took me through downtown Biddeford and then out to the coast. I had wanted to see Fortune's Rocks because many of Anita Shreve's books take place there, including the one I just finished, her latest, Body Surfing. It was very beautiful there, but I didn't have a long time to explore because I felt I should get back to the kids. (Andy was there, which is how I escaped in the first place!) 

The last few days I have tried to pick up my mileage for Chicago. I might try to do a 20 miler this weekend. Actually, if I finished 18 I'd be pleased. While I try to pick up my mileage, I've started back to work. The last few days were teacher days and the kids come after Labor Day. I feel ready, but very sad to leave this summer of total triathlon/fitness focus. Teaching full time and being with the kids when I'm not working doesn't leave me a lot of time to train. Weep! It also doesn't leave me a lot of time to blog. Sadness. 

 Here's a few pictures of the kids living it up on the beach. I love summer in Maine! Here is Noah running int the waves, Jordan and Maria (Alina's daughter) about to run the kids OP 1k race and Lara, peering out from under her sun hat at the beach.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Timberman 70.3 Race Report

I did it! I did it! 

What a fantastic day! 

Here is the full report: I woke up at 3:45 a.m. and couldn't fall back asleep. I was scheduled to get up at 4:15 a.m. anyway, so it wasn't so terrible. I was shocked that I was able to sleep the night before. It could have been that I was exhausted from all of my anxiety, and my body just wanted to let go. 

When I got up a tried to eat, but my stomach was in knots. I managed to get down a Clif Bar and some water. It took a 1/2 hour to get to the site, and another 1/2 hour waiting to park. That was okay with me because I was able to sip my Gatorade and try to relax. Andy dropped me off (he and Mark, Ange's husband were scheduled to meet) and I headed to transition. We had to rack our bikes the night before, and Little Red was right where I had left her, waiting and eager to take on the day. (Okay, okay, I know I'm a loser personifying my bike!) 

I found Ange and Petra, who miraculously were really close to me in transition (the same rack! It must have been done by age group) and then proceeded to the port-a-potties were I spent the next hour in line. SO fun. I did have lots of reassuring chats with other athletes in the line, who helped to convince me that I would survive and that I might even enjoy myself. It was awesome to have Ange there. We were both freaking out, and that made it easier for me--that is, that my good friend who I knew would be fine in the race was also freaking out.  

At about 6:30 we put on our wetsuits and began walking to the race start. We were the 8th wave, and it was a little torture-filled to have to watch all of those waves go off ahead of us. The buoys looked so far away; I almost cried when I saw them! When it was finally our turn to enter the water I went way out to the start buoys, over my head, and tread water until the start. This allowed me to be in front of most of the pack, and the strategy worked. I probably saved myself a minute and I missed the chaos of the start. Most people just don't want to start over their heads I don't think. 

At the GoGo GO! I started my watch and tried to relax. The water was great and I felt strong and fast. I reached the first buoy and started passing people in the next waves. I did see a few of my wave around, but I knew I was doing well, because there weren't many. When we rounded the first buoy it became very hard to sight because the sun was directly in our eyes. I had to just sort of swim in the direction of the water movement. When I started to get close to the end of the swim I actually wanted to slow down I was enjoying myself so much. Final swim time: 33:45. Not bad for taking my time and enjoying myself!  

I ran out of the water, smiled for Andy and Mark, and ran to the mat where I flopped down to have my wetsuit stripped. That was nice. I hate struggling with that thing. Then I jogged to T1, put on my socks and shoes, helmet etc and headed out. TI time needs to be improved--3:10 or so. The bike was fabulous. The first part was slow and really hilly, but I like to climb and I'm pretty good at it because I'm small and I don't have a lot to carry. 

The one bummer was that at six minutes into the ride the sponge flew out of my ProDesign bottle between my handlebars. Of course! Ange was so worried about securing hers, but I just didn't deal with it and naturally it flew out immediately. She secured hers with a thin sliver of Duct Tape. That worked. I knew I had to start taking in carbs. I took in quite a bit of Gatorade and water, and began taking Clif Shots. I am so sick of GU that I just couldn't deal with taking one. I ate all nine Clif shots and a piece of a Clif Bar before I finally gave in and had one--not until about mile 45 or so! I was averaging about 17.5 mph at the first hour, so I knew I should pick up the pace a little on the second 2/3 of the ride. This was relatively easy because the middle part of the ride is really quite flat/barely rolling. It's an out and back course, so I got to go down the hills I went up at the end, which was great. I loved that part and even let out a yelp of excitement when bombing down the biggest hill at like 35 mph. Most people pass me on the downhill. I don't have the body weight to pull me down. What helps me on the way up is my weakness on the way down. Overall I thought Little Red and I did awesome, though. We passed a ton of men and women on super snazzy bikes. Little Red is just an awesome machine, even if she is a lowly Canondale road bike! I love her. Final time: 3:02. Average speed of 18.4 mph. 

 I saw Ange in T2 and I was psyched! She looked happy and strong and it was just so great to see her reassuring smile. Andy and Mark also cheered me on as I came through the chute, and that was great. I slipped on my shoes and headed out. T2 was a bit too leisurely, just like T1, but I figure my slow transitions give me more room to improve. I have to check what T2 was. Maybe 3?  

The run. First stop: Port-a-Potty. I banged on the door and it was Ange! I screamed at her to hurry up, not b/c of time but b/c I thought I was going to pee all over myself. I had needed to go since a 1/2 hour into the bike. I refuse to pee on the bike (save that one for Ironman) and I also refuse to dismount barring something horrible, so I was in serious need of relief. I knew I had lost at least 2 minutes after I left the port-a-pottie, but I was too happy to be on the run to really care. Plus, at this point I hadn't really figured out that it was possible to to go under 5:30 so I was just enjoying myself.  

My first mile (including the bathroom stop) was 8:49. Pretty slow start. But I felt great--so much better than I thought I would feel. I picked up the pace and started clipping off 7:45's. The pace was comfortable. I could've pushed harder, but I feared falling apart during the second loop so I played it safe. At the turn aroun point of the run (1/2 way point of the first loop) they had an imitation Bourbon Street. It was fun. The music was just what I needed. I took water or Gatorade at each stop, but I didn't think my stomach would take food, so I held back on gel etc. 

I saw Ange coming as I finished the first loop coming back to start on her second. She already had at least 2-3 minutes on me at that point. I knew she would crank on the run, so I took it as a positive that she wasn't further ahead than that! I hadn't seen Petra, and I wondered how much further ahead she was than Ange. (I knew she was ahead of us because she had passed me early on in the bike and her bike was gone when we got to transition.) 

On the second loop I started to tire, but I managed to keep every mile under 8 min. pace. By 10 miles I could feel blisters forming on the bottoms of feet. This is weird since I had broken in my feet to the shoes and they weren't flats or anything. The last three miles I really felt the hills, which I hadn't even noticed during the first loop. I came up one hill and thought--I swear this wasn't here before! Still I soldiered on. 

The last mile definitely took awhile (not really, but it seemed that way!). When I saw the final finish banner I was so relieved and excited. It had been a great race! I did awesome! I didn't ever fall apart! Final run time: 1:43 Aoubt 7:55 pace. Final overall time: 5:25: 04. It was a great day!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Blog Reader

I've been reading triathlon blogs. They are inspired. They are motivating. They are helping me keep my cool. All of these people, all over the world are completing in these incredible ultra events--people just like me. I can do this. 

But oh man am I scared! The swim should be a piece of cake--but that's the problem. It 's the part of the race in which I should excel, and I'm so apprehensive about all of those people clamoring for a position. I'm also worried that I will be too spent on the run to really work it. I cannot wait to be on the other side of this issuing a report! I had great experiences at my first three triathlons. They were hard--but doable. 

I have to keep repeating to myself. I can do this. This is exciting. I can do this.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Getting Really Nervous

I've been on vacation with the kids for the last few weeks which is why I haven't posted. I am tapering for the Timberman 1/2 Iron which is this Sunday. Ahh! 

I have been trying to rest, but I have had a few restless nights thinking about race day. Little Red (my bike) is getting a tune up today after I found a tiny tear in her bike tire. Yikes. That would NOT have been good. I am anxious about the whole race, but most about the swim. This has surprised me, since I am a former high school swimmer, and though I'm not screamingly fast, I am also no slouch. I'm worried about the chaos of the start, though. How do you break free of that many swimmers? There are hundreds of us! I don't want to head off to the side because swimming is my strength, and I need to find a direct route so I can use the swim to get ahead. 

I am quite pokey on the bike, so any advantage will help. The bike makes me nervous only because I'm not very skilled at eating and drinking on the bike, but I know I must do this. I am especially worried that I won't be able to pick up a bottle from a volunteer while riding. My plan for the bike is to take it out slow--between 17.5 and 18 mph, and then see where I'm at. I've been averaging 17 mph in my regular rides, but I'm not sure what the translates into during a race, especially a race in which I must save myself for the long run. 

 I am anxious for the run only b/c I fear not having the energy to do what I know my body can do on a regular day. My 1/2 P.R, at a hilly course with wind, was a high 1:36, but I'm thinking if I do really well at Timberman my split will only be around 1:45, and I could be even slower than that. Who knows! Today I am going for a 35 min power run (well--a z1/z2 run) and tomorrow a 75 min. power bike and a 45 min. swim. And that's it, baby! I wish I knew what others do for taper. I've been thinking about coaching. I want to learn enough about this stuff so that I can be my own coach. I'd like to know what percentage of athletes training for this stuff have coaches. If you happen to be reading this will you comment and tell me your thoughts on coaching? On vacation I was able to swim in the most beautiful, clear lake on the Cape. Here is a picture, with my superstar daughter in the foreground.