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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Spririt of Racine Half Ironman - Random Thoughts and Ramblings

What can I say about SORT? This was my third Half Iron Distance event and the second time I have completed this particular course. I have been calling this a catered training day all summer, so I really didn't put a lot of thought into planning this day or strategizing. My goals for this day were simple:
* Better last years time for this course
* Try not to be DFL (That would be dead freaking last to the uninitiated, yo)
* Get an idea where I need to expend the greatest effort in the last 8 weeks of training for IMoo.
This year, we opted to stay in Janesville and commute the 80ish minutes to the expo and the race. It was cheaper than staying in a hotel getting nervous, we didn't have to leave our home vulnerable to the big ideas of teenage boys home alone on a weekend, and we got to sleep in my own bed instead of tossing and turning in a cruddy hotel bed. Although it made for a lot of time in the car, overall I think it was a good move this year. Except for the nearly an hour we spent in a traffic jam outside Alpine Valley caught up in concertgoers for the Dave Matthews Band, that was a little rough...
The race itself? Overall, I'm feeling pretty good. The swim was point to point with the current, so it felt really fast. In Google Earth, it measured 1.1 miles instead of 1.2 miles, but whatever - it was close. it will be tough to compare to last year because last year there were fog and cold issues with Lake Michigan an the course was moved in at the last minute and was way short. this year, it took off farther up the beach and ended further down the beach, so was longer than last year. The buoys were placed close enough to shore that it was about waist to chest deep through out which prompted a lot of people walking instead of swimming.
My swim wave was huge, and I mean GINORMOUS! They sent off a group of women that included all women 35 and older and Athenas. We counted up from the results that that meant our wave was over 250 women. It felt like a mob scene and I actually had to stop and collect myself 3 times when I got punched (PUNCHED!!!) in the face by other swimmers. I swam over people and swam over myself. At one point I took a forward stroke and ended up punching another lady square in the crotch.......that couldn't have felt good.
actually, i think this was a good experience because it was good practice for the in-water mass start for IMWI known affectionately as the "Washing machine." I now know I ca take a solid punch and keep going.
The Bike? I felt awesome on the bike. Sweet Lucy didn't let me down at all. I remember last year thinking people were crazy for calling this a flat course, and this year I really did fl like it was a FLAT course. There were just a couple of hills to conquer. I stayed in the big chainring the whole time and just hammered it as fast as I could.
The drafting packs I saw coming at me from the previous waves and fast riders were pretty ridiculous. I can't imagine if you got swallowed up by one of the peletons it would be easy to break free as they were big and fast. Being more toward the back of the pack, I had not a lot to worry about from a drafting POV. I lost time at the 45 mile water station when i stopped to pee, but it had to be done. Pulling up sweaty spandex bike shorts is no easy feat!
The Run? Here is where I identified my weakness as if I didn't already know. Once off the bike, i could not motivate myself to make my legs hurt enough to run. Could not make myself do it. First I was going to just walk a half mile and start running, then it was a mile, then I would take a couple blocks of running and peter out. I saw Jen Brady pass me early on starting her second loop and she was running like a freaking gazelle. I watched person after person fly by me as I tried to muster the weakest of shuffles. I knew at some point I would pass Alison, and then Mike, and then Phil so I tried to run until I saw them so they wouldn't see me walking. What happened in actuality was as soon as I saw them in the distance, I would start to run and then I would stop for a "walk break" that lasted until I saw the next SWATtie coming along and then the fake out would begin again. Pretty sure I was fooling no one but myself, but whatever.
This is a double out and back half marathon course, much like her big sister IMWI. For those that don't know, you go out a quarter of the distance, turn around and comeback a quarter of the distance, go to about 50 yards of the finish line and turn around to start the second half of the half marathon and do it all again. Last year, I got all weepy at the turnaround by the finish line and this year was no different. I cannot express how heartbreaking it is to see the finish line and know you are only HALF done. And to make it worse, people are shouting "you're almost there" and "way to finish!" and any number of encouraging finisher phrases because they don't know you are not headed to the finishers chute.
This is where I wish I had family or friends that were actually interested in spectating these events. it would be such a lift to have some say "you're doing great, we love you, and we can't wait for you to get back here!" or better yet, to be out on the course (which is decidedly sparser once most of the field has finished their second loop) and offer encouraging words that are meaningful.
I go to a very dark place on these second lonely loops. You see a lot of people you don't know saying things that sound trite and disingenuous but are intended to be encouraging. it really does the opposite to me. I hear someone say "Looking good!" and I struggle to smile and have to stifle a "Bite me."
Once I got to the the second turnaround for the final 5K, I begin to count the number of people who are behind me and calculating a) whether I would make the cutoff time and b) how many runners were behind me, who looked like they would have started with me or after me on the swim (basically old women, fat women, and old men), and how likely they were to catch up to me and beat me to the finish. I counted 11 people behind me. That doesn't mean they were slower than me necessarily as they could have started later, but they were behind me at any rate giving the illusion of besting them.
So, the run was mostly a walk. I knew Phil was walking up ahead of me about a mile ahead after the first 5K, and I tried for a while to catch up to him, but since he is about 10 feet tall with legs up to his neck, i just could not get it done.
Funny thing:
*On the run, I stopped to use a potty at an aid station. I opened the door to find some tall guy standing at the urinal with his pecker in his hands. I shut the door quick and then had to stand there and wait, then look him in the face when he came out of the john....... Had I not been so tired I would have been able to come up with something funny to say, but honestly WHO doesn't know how to lock the door behind them in a unisex portapotty??
*one of the things I chanted to myself on loop 2 was "You can all kiss my double out and back ass." Like a mantra, over and over. In hindsight, inappropriate and kind of weirdly funny. Glad there was no one around to hear THAT!
* On my last pass through the aid station, a teenage girl held up a huge tray of Oreos. I grabbed some in both hands said "I LOVE you!" and pecked her on the cheek. Pretty likely she thought I was crazy.
What comes next:
*I was not DFL. But I definitely need to spend some time on the run miles. Apparently, not running more the 5-10 miles a week since a half marathon in May did not prepare me to run a half at the end of a HIM. Who knew?
* Ride that IM course several more times. Learn where I can turn it on and where I need to conserve myself.
*Figure out the nutrition thing for going long. I didn't eat nearly enough and had no plan for meeting my calorie needs which had a lot to do with running out of gas on the run. I wasn't bonking, but I was not fueled right either.
(We stopped on the way home at Rocky Rococos for the Muy deliciouso, Batman.)
The numbers:
last year: 37:25 (1219/1379- 88%)
this year: 34:17 (1107/1206- 91%)
net effect: 3:08 faster
last year: 3:32:52 - 15.8 mph (1363/1379- 99%)
this year: 3:17:29 - 17mph (1108/1196- 92%)
net effect: 15:59 faster, moved forward in the pack by 7%
last year: 3:15:29 - 14:55 min/mi (1362/1379)
this year: 3:22:30 - 15:28 min/mi (1174/1176)
net effect: 37 seconds per mile slower, lost 7:01
last year: 7:37:50 (1367/1379)
this year: 7:22:58 (1164/1176)
net effect: 14:52 faster overall improvement, but improvements on the swim were cancelled out by regression on the run.
We got work to do - Toughen Up Buttercup!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Trek Triathlon- Pleasant Prairie

JANESVILLE, WI Age: 40 Gender: F

Distance: Short Course
Clock Time 01:42:03
Overall Place 1181 / 2544
Division Place 32 / 74
Swim 00:15:24
Swimrank 389
Trans1 00:04:23
Bike 00:37:40(Mph 19.1)
Bikerank: 204
Trans2 00:03:08
Runrank: 2120
Run 00:41:27 (Pace00:13:22)

Up at 3:30 AM to drive to Kenosha area (OUCH!!). Got parked, walked to the Rec Plex, set up transition and got ready for takeoff. (Special thanks to Jeff for 1-going back to the car for my sunglasses and 2- hailing the Trek rep to get my race wheels pumped up when I could only figure out how to let air OUT of them which was not really helpful.... SUPER SHERPA award goes to him, hands down!)

The 3:30 wakeup call was a problem in the pre-race "routine" ....... could have easily resulted in one of these ----------------->
but managed to overcome the feeling when I looked at the portapotty line that was easily 200 people deep.... LOL.
Swim went well, passed through at least 3 colors of previous waves and managed some trick maneuvers in noodle dodging.

Bike course? Flat and fast, finished up with the 700 number women (I was 1369). Felt like a fricking rocket, smiled the whole time.

Run? Flat course, had zero gas left, lost all ground gained on the bike and probably more. My running sucks, it is what it is....*sigh*.

Great weekend, had fun with my sisters, who did awesome! would love to do something different with them next year!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Sometimes I am left wondering about my attachment to reality. I know you are shocked to hear that (not I have gone from a life of relative inactivity to the opposite extreme, and yet I still find myself feeling like a total sloth when I compare myself to the people I surround myself with socially. And by socially I mean some pretty hardcore, driven triathlete type people. People who get up early to swim or workout, bike all the time, and who give you shit if you take a rest day that wasn't on the plan because you are tired, it's rainy, or life got in the way a bit. I can always seem to find a way to compare myself to these folks and feel inferior to their skill or their perseverance.

Is that really reality?

Once in a while I get a snippet of how "regular people" see me and what I do. A few months back, Mike was bantering around with some of Lucas's friends on Facebook, talking to them about how he was willing to help them organize a summer running group. Justin referred to us as "the running gods of Janesville." As in Mike and I. Running.GODS. ....... Really? My first thought was that the poor child really should get out more and meet some folks. Most days I don't feel particularly god-like. Chugging Freight Train, maybe. Not a God.

Tonight, I was kicking myself for going for dinner and postponing a scheduled run. We ran into someone who works in the same building as Mike. He introduced to his wife, who said "Oh, you guys are THE Athletes." It really took a lot to stifle a big giggle. She called me an ATHLETE! Ha! As is athletic..... as in skilled, fast, maybe nimble even....... An.Athlete. Interesting, since I really have a hard time classifying what I do as athletic. It is slow, sometimes painful, almost always slower than those around me, hardly what I would call athletic. But I guess it is a matter of perspective and what you see as your own reality. I surround myself with people I consider athletes so that I can learn from them, draw motivation from them, and hope that someday, somehow I can achieve 1/10th their speed, strength, and stamina. But to someone who has more contact with mere mortals and not superhero types? maybe, just maybe, I might qualify to be way far in the back of the pack of what might be called athletes........

OK, you can call me an athlete, but you have to use air quotes when you say it, that's the new rule.

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