Sunday, October 30, 2011

Beach2Battleship - October 29, 2011

It's long race - it gets a long report :-)

New favorite words and phrases and some things NOT to say

The setting: Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington, NC, on Saturday, October 29 at about 7:30a.  The start of the Beach2Battleship (B2B) 70.3 triathlon on a foggy day where we’re expecting rain and wind for the morning, sunshine at about 12:30p and temperatures in the 50s all day long.

May I pause for a moment and say that I am a spelling and grammar purist and the fact that the word “to” is a number 2 in Beach2Battleship bothers me?  Yes, it makes a catchy abbreviation, B2B, that is very recognizable in the state and associated with this race.  But it’s a little too hip and trendy for me.  I’m rather fond of my “to”, “two”, and “too”, thank you very much.

Go north about five hours to Washington, D.C. and there is snow. On Sunday is the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., which is what I was SUPPOSED to be running today before I found out that triathlons are highly addictive. There are some uncomfortable comparisons to addictive drugs unfortunately, like “spend lots and lots of money (on gear), devote time away from work and personal life, talk about not much else, and have little energy afterward” addictive. Some wonderful people to meet along the way, though, and the types of physical risks to your body are usually recoverable.  Next October, I’ll write my Marine Corps post – hopefully with some additional family members joining me. But I digress.  Again.  Back to Wrightsville Beach and the start of B2B.

You’ll note that I try to use the phrases “70.3” or “140.6” – and not “half” or “full” and definitely not “IronMan”.  A few years ago, when the triathlon craze started spreading, companies started putting on races at those two distances and calling them “IronMan”.  IronMan is a trademark brand and that company didn’t want its brand diluted and threw up a fuss.  As a result, you may hear “Half-Iron Distance” or “Iron Distance” on a race that is not sponsored by IronMan.  Not that I really care about hurting IronMan’s feelings or getting a lawsuit, because I have a better reason.  When I say “70.3” to you, especially those of you who are not triathletes, you can immediately grasp the significance of a 70.3 mile race, right?  It’s more impressive and saves you the trouble of having to ask, “what’s that?”  A 140.6 is a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride, followed by a 26.2 full marathon.  A 70.3 is a 1.2-mile swim, followed by a 56-mile bike ride, followed by a 13.1 half-marathon.  I’d like to point out to the IronMan people that the town of Marathon in Greece, where legend has it was the destination of the very first marathon ever run, does not seem to trademark the name “Marathon” or throw lawsuits at companies who sponsor marathons.  Of course, that same legend says that the first marathoner, who ran the 26 miles to deliver a message, promptly died when he completed his task.  So maybe they don’t want to put a trademark on that.

I’m hanging with Jaime, Julie and Jaime’s husband Tim, who very graciously got up at 6a on a Saturday morning to schlep us and our stuff around and take pictures and be a calming presence at the start of our race. Having a person who is NOT racing as part of the crew is a joy – they may be fighting fatigue and will have some insanely boring parts to their day, but they are the voice of common sense and reason when competitors are feeling any combination of nerves, anxiety, stress, lack of sleep, overthinking, second-guessing and frequent needs for bathroom breaks.

As we look out over the water, we see lots and lots of stand-up paddle boards and kayaks and a Coast Guard ship.  This is an open water channel that has been closed for the morning only for this race and 1800 competitors.  The logistics of this are amazing. 

The course is advertised in this manner:  “the swim takes place in a channel that is connected to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway; so it's a salt water swim but not in the ocean. An incoming tide with participants swimming with the current will make for some very fast times. The water temperature will be in the upper 60's to low 70's - perfect for wetsuit use.”

We can easily see that the current is moving pretty fast, and this will be my very first “ocean-like” swim in salt water and with a current.  That’s fairly intimidating; I grew up in Missouri and Iowa, so we didn’t go to the beach every weekend like many of the North Carolinians I have met here.  Oceans are beautiful to look at, but I don’t think I want to swim in one, and definitely not 1.2 miles.  Too many ugly stories about getting carried away by rip currents.  The reassurance about so many paddle boards and my neon pink swim cap is that they can come over and find me if I drift too far off course and risk going out to sea.  Those of you who know my color preference know that I revere purple and hate pink, but I was grateful for the neon pink today.

My last swim practice was eight days prior, on a Thursday evening and after two back-to-back flying nights that ended after 1 a.m.  The delayed flights had eliminated one run session and more importantly about six hours of sleep.  On Thursday morning, I ran in Umstead for a speed work session, went to work for 8 long hours of back-to-back calls, and then went to swim at Jordan Lake – all on 4.5 hours of sleep.  At the swim, we did a triangle course, 10 laps total.  I felt okay the first couple of laps, and then just lagged.  No energy and couldn’t keep up with the group I usually swim with.  We’re not the “faster” group, but we’re the “faster soon” group, as Coach Marty calls us.  That’s super sweet, isn’t it?  And he says he’s not sentimental.  On the last lap, I was last by a LOT, and as I rounded the final buoy, I saw a dark shape near me that hadn’t been there before – Marty had come out to swim back with me because I was so far behind.  I had planned another swim with Cary Masters before B2B, but work travel eliminated that possibility as well.  So that dismal swim and the eight day layoff from the water was NOT the pre-B2B confidence booster I was seeking.

As we are watching, we see three swimmers from the 140.6 race that started at 7 a.m., and they are not just swimming, they are sailing.  I’ve never seen anyone take one stroke and cover so much distance.  Their lead was huge as well; just an amazing combination of effort, technique and the right conditions to look as if they were being propelled by a motor.  As the other swimmers passed by, it was reassuring to see that maybe my swim would be “passable”.  Marty had shared some tips on navigating the course and the turns, which Jaime repeated to us in the car as we looked at the swim course map so it was fresh in our minds.

Time to get dressed in my least favorite but most necessary piece of gear – the wetsuit.  There are few things more comical to witness than watching someone get into their wetsuit.  There is no way to do it gracefully and it involves putting a lot of Body Glide around every surface than can rub and then slowly working the neoprene up your legs and around your waist, with some squats to try and move the material higher.  The goal is to get the neck of the wetsuit to not pull at your neck like choking, as the last thing you want is for that sensation to plague you for 45 minutes as your putting your head in the water repeatedly.  Feeling like you cannot breathe just isn’t good. As you’re putting on the suit, if another person can grab the back of the wetsuit and lift you off the ground, it’s even better.  I’ve gotten fairly proficient at it, but it’s still humorous to watch.  I’m already in my one-piece tri suit and had decided to wear my Garmin heart rate monitor chest strap – first time I’ve worn it in a race, and I wanted to see how I handle the different phases of the race.  Jaime and Julie invested in swim booties with good soles, because at the end of this swim, we have a 1/3 mile run across sidewalks and street to get to our bikes.  Swim booties are now on the list of “things I really want to have and can justify them as a ‘need’”.  We also put on our swim sleeves, which allow us to maximize our sleeveless wetsuits (no constriction on the shoulders) but still retain some warmth.  They be awesome.  Caps and goggles and we’re ready to go.

We meet up with Meg and Jon, who drove down specifically to watch the race and cheer us on.  How cool is that?  Meg is a fellow Ironman CdA’er (Coeur d’Alene, and it’s an Ironman sponsored race, so I can say Ironman here), and Jon sold my bike to me, patiently translating my, “I want to try a triathlon but I haven’t ridden a bike in 15 years and I don’t want to spend a lot of money” into my very cool Kuota that has proven to be well worth the investment.  Especially once I learned how to shift gears.  Jaime has accidentally forgotten her water, so Meg volunteers to go get some – she and Jon are on their bikes and the store is down the street.  Again, the friends and volunteers who support this sport are simply fantastic.  We connect with Mary, Tori, Frank, Jon and Marty – fist bumps exchanged, Gu ingested, Pam sprayed on our legs (thanks Frank!) and it’s time to swim.

I have two cherished phrases that I take from this race, and the first one is “swimming with the current”. My goal at the start of a swim is just to get clear of everyone in a calm fashion so that I don’t panic and can stretch my stroke like Marty has instructed.  I was able to do that fairly quickly, fortunately, and felt like I was moving right along.  Cool!  Turn left at the buoy, head for the middle to catch the strongest current like Marty suggested and Jaime had repeated an hour before the race, and try not to swallow any of the nasty salt water.  Just keep swimming, as Dory says.  It was a dreary gray overcast day and the fog made it even more challenging, so sighting the buoys was difficult.  Fortunately, we were wearing the neon pink caps, and while it won’t make me like pink at all, I was grateful to see a lot of pink caps in front of me marking the way.  Make the next turn and get parallel with the shore.  Don’t overshoot the docks.  Stay within my ability – this is a long race and I can’t blow all my energy in the first leg.  Stretch my stroke and pull.  Watch the paddle boarders, who are using their oars to point us in the right direction.  See the flying Gumby-like inflatable.  Wait, Gumby?  We’re done?  That was quick, and that’s not a word I usually describe for my swims. 

How quick was it?  Here are my approximate times for my three Olympic-distance triathlons of 1500 meters this summer:  36 minutes, 32 minutes and 36 minutes.  A 1.2 mile swim is 1931 meters.  I swam it in 31:01.  “Swimming with the current” – every swimmer should get to do that at least once.  Glorious.

My new favorite volunteers?  Wetsuit strippers.  Sit on a bench and they pull that thing off in 15 seconds.  I have spent minutes in other races trying to get the wetsuit off.  My wetsuit stripper woman was cold and very wet and smiling the whole time.  Volunteers Make. The. Race.  Thank you to every one of you.

Run through the sprinklers to try and wash some of the salt off, especially my head and face.  Later in the race, I will be sweating and while I don’t want the sweat to get in my eyes in any situation, having extra ocean salt in it would be bad.  But don’t spend too long – because This Is Transition.  Hurry!  Run up the sidewalk in my bare feet and run across the street in my bare feet.  I don’t like moving in bare feet, and concrete hurts my tootsies.  Why didn’t I buy the swim booties when Jaime suggested it?  This is why I can almost justify it as a need, perhaps a little lower in Maslow’s hierarchy than food and shelter. 

During the run, I see Coach Bri and Alysia and Jen and Meg and Jon and Heather and everyone is cheering.  The best part of this year by far has been meeting these wonderfully talented and extra supportive people.  I had read that the triathlete community is special – they prove it.
Get to the bike, towel off and grab the bag with clothes.  My packing for this race involved two complete sets of bike clothes, because we didn’t know if the forecast of wind, rain and 50* temps was going to hold.  You don’t want to overheat on the bike, but you can’t be miserable.  I’m going to be on that bike for 3 ½ hours.  Jacket for warmth?  Or my sleeveless jersey and lycra arm sleeves for some warmth but some coolness – I don’t like to be too warm when I exercise.  The arm sleeves are great, but not terribly warm.  Julie and I have between us five pairs of arm warmers, and I had loaned a pair to Jaime.  Hat or no hat; jacket on or off?  The night before the race, Marty and Bri invited us to their rental for pasta, and several of us are talking through our clothing dilemma.  We were also engaged in an animated and slightly disturbing conversation about peeing during a race, and if it’s ok to pee in your wetsuit or on your bike.  (My answers for me are No and No, in case you were wondering).  Then Marty walks up to me, Julie and Frank and gives us fleece One Step Beyond arm warmers.  And suddenly my clothing strategy is clear.  FLEECE arm warmers, plus my jersey and my capri bike pants and warm socks.  Done and Done.  Dry off, get dressed, get the bike and go.

One of my essentials is my aero bottle that fits between my handlebars, so that I can just lean forward, bite the straw and drink my G2.  It’s super convenient and helps me stay hydrated without fumbling with a bottle down by my feet.  I see at least five dropped bottles in every race, which means that person has to now rely on what’s provided at the race – not good if they like and train with G2 and the race is distributing Heed or just water.  You don’t want to be introducing something in a race that you have not trained for, especially nutrition and in a salt water race.  It’s just not a wise idea.  So my aero bottle might be in my top three gear items of the year, and I’ve invested in a LOT of gear. 

In the first mile of the race, we have to navigate several quick turns and hit three speed bumps.  This causes the Velcro holding my aero bottle to come undone, and almost fall off the bracket.  The rubber bands that I also use to secure it are not enough, so I’ve grabbed my very precious aero bottle with my hand and now have to figure out what to do.  I could stop and secure it, but that Velcro is a pain – I have to get off my bike and work on it from the front.  That’s a lot of lost time.  I’m thinking that I can wrap my left hand around my aero bar and support the front ridge of the aero bottle with three fingers.  It means I cannot take my hand off to do anything else, like brake, switch between big ring (which I really didn’t think I would do much of anyway) or hold the bike steady.  It means my left arm is a little extended, which is causing my shoulder and neck to hurt more than it should.  But I can keep riding and not stop.  And if I made it through the Flying Jacket experience of the Pinehurst sprint, I can deal with this. 

Along the way, I’m thinking that people will read this and think, “you’re an idiot.  Throw the bottle down and race”.  It’s thirty dollars, but I’ve spent so much money already, and I don’t want to lose the G2 even though I had two more bottles on my bike. 

I held that #*$@&! Bottle for 55 miles.

I thought THAT would be my story of the race.  Pretty benign.

The wind was brutal in the first two thirds of the race.  I stayed in aero position, kept my legs moving and my cadence at a pretty good rate, and watched my borrowed power meter to see where I might have been expending too much energy for little return.  Getting to 17 mph was exciting.  And rare.  I ate three packs of energy gels and managed two Gu’s – with one hand.  I was calculating in my head how long this ride would take and just tried to not mentally get down on myself for not being a stronger rider.  I’m already executing the plan to take care of that by June’s IM.

A word about triathlons and one of the key points of the sport.  You rely on yourself.  This is not a team sport, although there are relay categories where an athlete takes each leg and they hand off a chip to their next competitor.  I would not be able to enjoy this nearly as much without my coaches and friends and fellow triathletes, so there is indeed a team environment.  I really appreciate how people tell me “Good job” or “Hang in there” as we pass each other on the bike or run.  But to get from the start to the finish in the race – it’s just you.  No one is to help you except the all-important designated volunteers who strip off your wetsuit or hand you water or point you in the right direction.  On the bike in a triathlon, everyone knows the “no drafting” rule.  This is not the Tour de France, and there should not be any pelotons or people riding within inches of each other.  You get penalized for that.  When someone passes you, you have to defer to them and drop back so that you don’t benefit from their extra speed – that’s just one of the breaks of being a slower rider.  Deal with it or get faster. 

When the group of six passed me, perfectly structured in their two triangles to create a much easier ride for four of the six members, I found that aggravating.  Evidently so did the triathlon gods, since shortly after they passed me, the woman in the back, enjoying the maximum effect of the draft, dropped her bottle.  Karma.  Heh.

On today’s ride, I tried to appreciate the pretty colors of the trees despite the fog and the misty rain that  was cold.  The fleece arm warmers were outstanding – thank you so much Coach Marty.  I had OSB arm warmers and my OSB jersey – OSB rules!  Next up is OSB socks and a hat J  I stayed in aero position for all 3 ½ hours with the exception of maybe five minutes total.   Never stopped and barely had to slow down for turns or intersections – the great volunteers and police force had stopped or redirected traffic for this race, even along the highways.  Just ride ride ride.  Don’t worry about the time, just make it through the ride and then I can run.  My run at Pinehurst was by far the best running experience so far, so I was looking forward to the run even though it seemed like it would be hours before I could get to it.  I make a right turn, and my second favorite volunteer says what must be the most exciting words in cycling.

“You have a tailwind now.”

I had been hitting the lap button on my Garmin every ten miles, using my chin to press the lap button because I’m still holding the aero bottle.  Here are my paces:
16.0 - 15.4 - 15.0 - 16.2 - 19.1 - 17.7

Guess where the tailwind started?

The first 36-38 miles were HARD.  The last 18 were just fantastic.  I should have switched to big ring but was getting so much speed so comfortably that I didn’t want to push it on the bike and not have anything left for the run.

We did hit a monstrous bridge on the final mile that suddenly dropped me to 12 miles an hour, but it was the final mile, so I was pretty excited to just spin easy and get ready for the run.  When I came into transition, my third favorite volunteer took my bike and paid close attention to my caution that, “this bottle is loose – please don’t lose it”.  When I picked up my bike later, the bottle was right where I had left it.  And my fingers were bright red from the red G2 that leaked onto my hand.  But I did not lose the bottle.

Hello Transition Tent with chairs to sit on to switch shoes.  Sweet!  And hey - it’s Julie Paddison, my weekend roomie and fellow FitBit soon-to-be champion and winner of an iPad2!  Julie “yes, I got hit by a car while on my bike three months ago and fractured my pelvis in two places, but I’m still doing the AquaBike at B2B” Paddison.  She is TOUGH.  We chatted for a couple of minutes while I was changing.  It was so great to see her there and to hear her encouragement.  I believe I even said “See you in a couple of hours.”  It was sunny outside too, so when I got through the transition and went outside, I was feeling great and mentally ready to go. 

Leading up to this race, Jaime, Tisha and I had practiced so many brick workouts that I was eager to get through the first ten minutes of “Ugh” of the run and then settle in.   At Pinehurst, I was so mad after my ride, I just got angry and took off.  I clearly couldn’t do that here, as a 5K just isn’t the same as a half-marathon. Plus the last 90 minutes of the bike were so great that I wasn’t upset at all.  In fact, I was really happy and looking forward to laying down a solid time.

The first ten minutes of a run after ride are just painful.  The challenge is just to suck it up and wait for your body to adjust from spinning to running.  I plan on a walk break during this time and I focus on trying to relax my shoulders and neck and just breathe easy.  Get through it and then you can increase your speed for the remaining part of the race.  I had a weird tightness around my chest that felt like a really strong guy giving me a bear hug.  I thought that would pass and just tried to gut it out.  The neuroma in my right foot that I’ve been fighting for three months also flared up.   Stick a knife in the bottom of your foot between your third and fourth toes. Then run.  Ow.

First mile, slow.  My chest is not feeling better, even when I walk.  The bear hug is constant and it hurts.   I try to keep my breathing even, since breathing with a bear hug just isn’t comfortable.  Fighting the neuroma in the foot, which is tolerable and something I’ve dealt with for a while.  But this chest tightness thing is completely new and not good.  I had asthma for a long time when I was younger, and this wasn’t an asthma attack.  I could breathe okay, although it hurt, but that’s because of my chest, not my lungs.  I had put on my heart rate monitor for the first time in a race, and the little tiny numbers were telling me 130’s – that’s good for me, especially when running.  Those of you who know my dad know about his five heart attacks and two bypass surgeries and that of the three arteries that support a normal person’s heart, all of his are either completely blocked or 80% compromised.  I know cardiac symptoms; I’ve been with him in the ER or with his cardiologist far too many times.  I don’t know how it feels personally, but I am as educated as a non-healthcare professional can be.  I had a treadmill stress test last year before I started all of this training, and it came back fine.  I had put that heart strap on at the last minute, thinking I was just curious about the data.  It turned out that was the thing that stopped me from panicking – I could see my heart rate was fine.  So either that strap wasn’t working from the swim / salt water, or it wasn’t related to my heart. 

I could run for two minutes, and then it would force me to walk.  I saw Mary, then Tori, then Jaime.  They all looked great, running so easy.  After mile two, the neuroma went away, so now I could focus on just getting over the tightness.  It wasn’t easing.  My mental routines weren’t working and I could not get any way to relax.  Finally at mile five, I decide to use a portajohn and see if that would help.  Unzip my OSB jersey, unzip my tri-suit and try not to sit on the seat.

Remember the Tom Hanks scene in “A League of Their Own”?  No, not the “There’s no crying in baseball” scene, although there probably is some of that in Texas this week after being one strike away from the Series win twice and then losing.  The other Tom Hanks scene.  You know the one.


But I felt better.  The tightness was certainly there, but I’m fairly sure that was over a pound of fluid I just got rid of.  So I was lighter and able to at least run faster, down in the 8’s where I was supposed to be all along.  I could run for five minutes, endure the tightness and then take my walk break.  That lasted about twenty minutes, during which time I saw Frank just ahead of me and was trying to catch him.  Some of the runners of the 140.6 were now passing me, looking like they were just out for a 3 mile jog and not on mile 120 of their day.

Then the pain came back.  Tighter.  Walking didn’t help any more.  It just never eased, and I’d been fighting it for 90 minutes.  I could run for two minutes and then would have to walk for two minutes.  During one of those two minute running stretches, I saw Coach Bri and Marty and was able to tell her I was miserable and heard Bri say in response, “Marty said the same thing.”  This is rather shameful to say, but hearing that he felt the same way (although hopefully he wasn’t feeling tightness in his chest like this) during his race made me feel better.  I had seen him on his 12th mile when I was on my first, while he was on his way to placing in the Open Masters category, and he was so focused I don’t think he heard me yell at him.  It’s odd to find comfort in someone else’s misery.  I was also slightly relieved that the two times I saw Bri on the run course, I was running.  Of course, I was averaging about a 12 minute pace, but at least I was running.  She had seen me earlier at the swim transition, so she knew I had been in good shape.  Julie could tell her that I was feeling great leading out to the run.  But for the last 75 minutes of the race, all I had in my head was her other advice about the week leading up to the race: “listen to your body.” 

As usual when your body hurts in one area, you try to compensate.  Maybe you stride a little differently or hold your arms in a different manner, or move your neck back and forth to stretch.  Nothing worked.  Two hours of chest pain, although I was trying not to think of it with that particular phrase.  My back is starting to hurt, my neck is already sore and I just want to be done.  I tried to get out of my head and not feel it.  It didn’t work.  Listen to your body, Michele.  So I walked.

Now I got mad at myself.  And sad.  This was the part of the race I had looked forward to and had really dedicated a lot of training to, and it blew up and I didn’t even know how.  Two really good legs, and a time goal that I was within reach of and I wasn’t even close.  I had three miles over two bridges with 20-30 mile gusts of wind to think about it.  I was cold and tired and embarrassed and sad.  I was trying to focus on something someone said to me at the beginning of the year when I confessed that I use walk breaks during my runs, “so I don’t run the entire way”.  He said in response, “do you cover the distance?  Then you run the marathon.”  But I was walking at least a third of this one.  I worried about my marathon in five weeks, which is my A+ race of the season – now I can’t even run a mile. 

A woman was walking near me and we ended up swapping stories, as us walkers sometimes do.  Nora was fighting her asthma and we able to run a couple of minutes at a time.  So we endured the bridges together, shared our respective dilemmas on our first 70.3, marveled at those on the full who just looked fresh and strong, and talked about the beautiful medal we would get.  I speculated that maybe this was indigestion or heartburn and that maybe I could get some Tums at the finish line.  Nora was ready to be warm and breathing calmly.  There is a wonderful bond that occurs during racers when you get to have a conversation; it’s a cathartic bond that we don’t find in many other situations.  It was helpful to walk with her for 15 minutes – she helped me put the day in perspective.  And when I got the most painful case of hiccups in my life (imagine having a bear hug, a lot of muscle pain because of 2 ½ hours of coping with it and then a really hard hiccup – it was impossible to stop the hiccup and the ensuing “Ow” whimper), she just helped me focus on something else for the two minutes.  Thanks Nora.

I ran the last half mile, because by that time it was downhill and almost done and I had decided I needed to find the medical tent and figure out what was going on.  Crossed the finish line, got my medal and saw Jon and Meg and Julie immediately.  How cool that they waited to look for me – I was pretty sure I was the last one of our group on the course.  And how reassuring.  Meg asked how I was and I was able to say, “not good” and “my chest is really tight” and express the need to find a medical tent.  I got my finisher shirt and Meg brought over a woman in a red shirt.  Meg also offered to stay with me, bless her.  That’s when she found out that Julie, Jaime and I had listed her as our emergency contact person on the pre-race form.  We only did that as a cursory thing – you never think you’re going to need the emergency contact person.  But we listed her and thank goodness she was here.  So she came with me.

Once again, I know the medical stuff.  I did train and work as an EMT briefly about 20 years ago.  I’ve briefed enough ER nurses and doctors about my dad to know to choose my words carefully.  I did not say, “I have chest pain.”  I said, “my chest is tight, like someone is giving me a bear hug.  It’s not my heart.  And it’s been that way for two hours.  I think it’s indigestion if I could get some antacid.”  But there are trigger phrases, and “chest is tight” is one of them, and the woman in the red shirt looked at me and marched me into the medical tent.

Well, it wasn’t a medical tent.  It was a M*A*S*H unit.  It was huge, warm and almost fully stocked.  They take my vitals and three people hear “chest pain” from the triage nurse – instead of my carefully worded “my chest is tight” and now I’m having a full cardiac workup.  They’re taking my blood pressure twice, my temperature and my heart rate – a very even 95 bpm and a 98.4 temp, thank you very much. I’m trying to be very cordial and crack some jokes and put them at ease that no, I’m not having anything remotely close to a heart attack.  Didn’t work.

They made me sit on a cot and reclined me into a 45 degree position.  And with that, the pain went away.  Immediately. 

No one would believe me.  I had to have the baby aspirin and the full EKG and two EMT’s and an RN and the ER doc come over to look at me.  My EKG would not register, so they switched leads.  It still would not register, so they strip off the first set of stickers – OWIE – and put on a second set.  “Are you wearing any metal?”  Everyone looks at my necklace and my sports bra and they’re deemed okay.  The tri-suit is still on, but I’ve pulled it down to my waist so they can get the leads on.  The EKG still looked very fuzzy, and they couldn’t get any clear signal.  Be still and don’t talk (kinda hard to do when they’re asking questions and I’m shivering).  Strips are not clear.  Now Meg and Julie have come to be with me, and Julie the critical care RN is looking at the display (not the strip) and I can tell from her that it’s okay.  Christine the medic thinks it’s okay.  Plus, oh by the way, the pain is gone.  I’m sore, because I’ve been coping with it for so long, but it’s not the acute pain it was.  Don’t know what caused it, but it’s not there anymore.  Ready to leave now, thank you so much for your help.

However, the doctor wants a clear EKG, so now I have to strip further.  Then we remember that my Garmin is still on my wrist and active.  That’s a GPS device, so that must be the problem.  Turn that off, and the strips are still very fuzzy.  Now I have to take off the sports bra – Julie and Meg hold up a sheet and I’m pulling it off around stickers – it’s not easy to get off when you can’t sit up.  EKG still doesn’t work.  I’m shivering despite two warm blankets but I’m really really feeling better.  Please let me go and be with my friends – they’ve waited for me long enough and we want to get somewhere warm.  I’ve been okay for 20 minutes, my vitals are normal – not even elevated as they should be after 6 ¾ hours of exertion – and Christine the medic decides to recommend that I be released.  Doctor Todd agrees, and I’m able to thank everyone and leave the fantastic medical tent. 

And I felt fine.  Had I been able to run then, I’d have run a two hour half, even after running the other half.  I can run today.  Because I ended up walking so much, I’m in very good shape for the marathon, even though this race ended so slowly.  Walking is good recovery. 

That night, we went to dinner.  Prickly pear margaritas are yummy.  Eating with friends celebrating a race is even better.  So is Mexican food, my favorite.  And as I finished my enchilada, the tightness came back.  Indigestion.  Good freaking grief – it was indigestion.  Really?  Are you *$(#&@ing kidding me?

Julie suggested I add one Zantac a day to my “week before race” diet.  Done.  Absolutely done.  And a roll of Tums in my fuel belts and Bento boxes.  Never again.

That's the close of the 2011 tri season.  The word for me is "transformation."  New friends, new adventures, and a great time doing something new at my age.

To my fellow B2B racers - Julie, Tori, Mary, Jaime, Missy, Frank, Steffen, Jon and everyone else - you are all rock stars to me.  Those that did the 140.6?  Michelle, Avril, Jenn?  Amazing.  I hope that I'm smiling as much as you were when it's my turn in June.

Thanks to Coach Bri and Marty - it has been such fun working with both of you.  I'm getting a little smarter and a little stronger each time, and i so appreciate your time and patience and helping me get there.

To the supporters who came just to cheer for us - cannot say thank you enough.

Volunteers Make. The. Race.  Go be a volunteer!

I had been looking forward to sleeping without an alarm, just to sleep as long as I could.   On Sunday morning at 5:21 a.m., I woke up and realized at that moment, I had my one piece trisuit on yesterday while in the medical tent.  I had pulled it down to my waist so they could put the EKG leads on.  The trisuit zips up.  Metal zipper?  Probably. 

Oops J

Next up - California International Marathon.   

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Someday I will do a load of laundry that is less than 3/4 workout wear.

Michigan State's black and green football uniforms (in their game against Michigan) are just really ugly.

Other than my dad and me, I don't know anyone who can tell me the final four teams in the baseball playoffs.

Christmas comes for me on October 28 this year. Yay!

I am now officially a former US Airways customer.

If you run 8 miles, then take a nap, and then run another 8 miles, can you legitimately say you ran 16 miles?  Or do you have to say you ran 8 and 8?

I have not seen a single new television episode of any show this fall season.  My DVR runneth over.

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Day Off

Doesn't happen often that I take a day off and don't reschedule it, get onto a customer call or end up doing some work. I know - it's not healthy and it doesn't solve anything and all that.  However, on this one, my boss was insistent, and he's rarely insistent.  So I scheduled a doctor's checkup, a bank run and a 50-60 mile training ride. No way to get around any of that.  Only replied to five emails ;-)

In response to the Pinehurst ride yesterday, Coach Bri emails and reminds me of today's ride:

"Have a nice ride tomorrow - do not do something stupid and try to recreate the race and see your mph - more important to stay steady and get the mileage in. Just saying :)"

Coach Bri is 30 weeks pregnant with her first child, a boy.  And I think the pregnancy has brought about some serious mind-reading ability.  She's really good at warning me to not do something before I've even suggested that maybe I could.  That will be an invaluable parenting tool.

I was definitely not going to recreate the race, but I was hoping to see a little better mph.

However, the fact that I had today off from work seemed to cause my brain to stop working entirely. Sat in my driveway ready to leave and trying to remember what I forgot. Bike shoes. Ok - back in the house to get the shoes out of my tri bag that I did not unpack yesterday. Got in the car and drove all the way down to High House (ten minutes) when I remembered that my helmet was not in my car. It was connected to the same tri bag sitting in my bedroom. Really Michele?  So back to the house for a 20 minute delay.

But I had everything else and started out on the same route Tisha had plotted last Sunday. Should be about 63 miles and there was a 10-mile lollipop extension I could cut off if I wasn't feeling that great. I decided I didn't want to stop at the store or restroom - just ride for 3.5 hours and let the traffic stop me when it had to, but other than that, just ride. I wouldn't stop during a race, so it's best to get used to sitting on a bicycle seat for 3.5 hours. Please only let it be 3.5 hours.

Little ring, high cadence. Enjoy the day. About 60 degrees and sunny, some wind, I think (my says the wind was 6 mph, but it felt a lot stronger than that). I was wearing my jersey, arm warmers and long-route bike shorts - noting that so I remember next time I have these conditions.

First 30 minute segment - about 16.3 mph with a pretty good cadence. Ok, I can work with that. The next three 30 minute segments: 15.0, 14.9, 14.6 - at two hours I was only 30 miles in. Ugh. Just trying to pedal pedal pedal and not care, but I was caring. Just gut it out, eat more Gu, drink more G2, stop doing the math that says this will be a 4 hour ride in B2B if I don't find some speed somewhere, and suck it up.

Having a route that is a single loop in an area I'm not terribly familiar with means that there are no shortcuts. So at mile 30, when I was contemplating what I would write in my log if I didn't do the 50 (excuses, just weak excuses), I realized that I didn't really have a choice. I only knew the way to cut the lollipop, but that was the only shortening of the route I knew from 63 to 52. I was going to have to do 50 at 15 miles an hour, so I had close to two hours left. And I'm alone and everyone I know is working right now - although I probably could have talked someone into a quick look at to help me out.

The cue sheet led me to the lollipop start at mile 37. Okay, skip that and go to the identical entry on Beaver Creek at mile 47. Turn around and head back down Beaver Creek for what would now be my mile 37 up to 52.

And that's where the cue sheet ended.

Uh oh.

There's a second page somewhere, I'm sure. But it's not with me and that's what is important right now.
There are many really good reasons I love to ride with Tisha - and rising fast on that list is that she knows this area and I just ride and don't worry about where I'm at. So now I'm trying to figure out where I am and where her favorite Holland road is and wondering why in the world every other road in this area has "Chapel" or "Church" in it's name. And I've never actually seen a Catholic church anywhere out here - next time I ride by one I'll say a little prayer to St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, in the hope that I will learn better internal GPS ability.

I finally found a stop sign where it said Hwy 64 to the left or north. I also pulled out my phone, and because someone loves me, I had a signal. And Tisha gets off of work at 4:00, which because of my lollygagging pace, it was now 4:20. So she confirmed my direction back to Jean's Berry Farm. And I was able to get back to the White Oak ATT lot.

Thank goodness.  I had hoped to maybe do a 20-minute post-ride run, but given the time of day, a slight ache in my leg and my intense desire for food, I decided not to. Plus I did not have Coach Bri's okay to add a run to my training plan. I've already heard the "Mom Voice" that she is practicing - don't deviate from the training plan.

If only I listened to my boss as well as I listen to my coach.

So I went to Waffle House

Off to swim - it will be amazing if I don't sink to the bottom of the pool :-)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Catching Up

So I created a blog, wrote an introductory post about all the writing I would do, and then didn't post for a month.

Ok. That's got to get better.

Since I titled the blog, "Learning to Tri", I thought I would start by putting up my race reports from the summer. Some are triathlons, some are running races, and some are just random practices. I'll write more about other things as I get into a better habit. For the next few weeks, it will probably be training updates, as Beach2Battleship (B2B) and the California International Marathon (CIM) loom closer and closer.

It bugs me that I didn't post the race reports in chronological order, and I can't change them now.  Ugh.

But other posts will just be random bits of anything. Kinda like this one.

Chiefs won. Sweetness is in the process of losing. Good football day for NFL and bad for Fantasy.  Baseball playoffs are really interesting. Seriously.

It's October now. Wasn't it just July?

Ok, NBC just showed a bunch of live crab, then sorting the crab, then steaming the crab dead, then serving a whole bunch of the crab in the restaurant. I like crab cakes, but now I'm thinking I don't want to eat crab. Ever.

I like the breast cancer awareness, NFL, but there are some teams whose colors just don't work well with the pink. I'm looking at you, Green Bay. 

Ray Lewis' expression during the end of the Star Spangled Banner was moving - perhaps he's lost someone to breast cancer? 

Speaking of, Setup Events played Jennifer Hudson's Super Bowl 2010 version of the anthem today. It's a great version, but not when you're standing soaking wet in 45 degree temperatures.  Too long.

However, to all the competitors who didn't, put your hand over your heart. #*$@!  And to the spectators, take off your hats. It's the national anthem. Give it some respect.

Old School Aquathon #3 -

So the Old School Aquathon series, sponsored by One Step Beyond and FS Series. Love it. Love it. Love it. Get permission to leave work a little early on a Wednesday, go pick up Tisha and the assorted Cromwell kids and head for the park. Swim, Run, Swim, maybe Run again. It's super hot in the water, so you think you're not going anywhere. Then you get out and run and all I want to do is get back in the water to cool off.

My overall time was 39 and change. I know I got out of the swim at less than 8:00 by the clock, and my run was 22:46 and a 9:03 pace. Walked about every five minutes for no more than 30 seconds.

It's such a low-key, non-pressure event too - just nice to relax and have fun, but push myself too.

Swimming after running? Not my strength. Kinda glad I won't be doing that for a while.

Coach Bri said I looked strong when I passed her at the water stop. I didn't admit that since I knew exactly where the water stop was and knew she would be there, I made sure to look strong when I ran by it. Hee.

More award winners!
Left to right - Tye Cromwell, Tisha Cromwell, Michele Rivera, Rich Haney, Sandra McKinnon, Teresa Sanchez, Kim Rice
Kim takes the overall series crown and wins an awesome transition bag!

Old School Aquathon #2 - July 6

300 meter swim
1 mile run
Lather, rinse, repeat

Then repeat again because it was so much fun the first two times

I've done a few run-bike bricks in reverse order, but I had never run a run-swim brick. I'll add a couple of those to the Sunday Beaverdam day because, wow, that was different.

Confirmed that the breathing thing is all mental, since if I were really going to have any physical breathing problems, it would have happened during this event. There was one woman on the run course who ran with her inhaler; her wheezing was painful and I felt sorry for her. Of course, she ran right past me, so I didn't feel TOO sorry for her after that.

All three runs felt really good, and that made me happy. I'm very curious about those times - I think I was under a 10:00 pace for all three. I was able to settle into a breathing rhythm fairly quickly where I didn't feel like I was laboring, and then was able to go faster on the third and final leg.

Have no idea of my times, as of this writing, although I think I finished somewhere around 47:00 if I remember the clock correctly. The male winner finished right in front of me. That was impressive, as I was finishing my second run when he finished. Kim Rice, the female winner, was done with her final run as I finished my third swim. Dang.

But I can say that the for the triangle swim, the second leg was HARD. Take a stroke, lose ground, take a stroke, sight, recorrect, try again. Would have loved to blame that on the buoy drifting :-) Earlier this week I wrote about my possible need to get better at bilateral breathing. Yup. Need to. I could have breathed on my left if it had become imperative. But compared to the Aquathon #1 swim, I didn't get kicked or hit at all.

By the way, Kim Rice? She is part of the group that swims at Beaverdam on Sundays and occasionally does the Duke track work that I try to do on Wednesday nights. Of course, she laps me at Beaverdam when we do our triangle course there, but she's been really helpful to try and learn from. I haven't gotten to run with her yet, but that group sticks together at the track even through the winter, so I'm pretty eager to pick up some tips. Between the Beaverdam group and the Brier Creek group, it makes it a lot of fun for me to train with one or the other.

It's such a fun event, and despite the crazy weather (scary lightning!), it was totally worth having to drive up and back to UVA today instead of last night / today. Not because I won a mug - shocker!!! but it's just a good fun workout and total release of frustration from work that I love it. Of course, I'll be super sleepy tonight (may be too sleepy to swim tomorrow), but it will still be worth it.

Pictured left to right - Tisha Cromwell, Teresa Sanchez, Michele Rivera, Sandra McKinnon, Kim Rice
in front - Bella Cromwell

Old School Aquathon #1 - June 1

Harris Lake, triangle swim, two laps. Not a fan of multiple laps on any discipline. The first one is filled with "oh, I have to do this again." The second one is, "been there, done that". Out-and-backs are fine, just multiple laps gets a little old.
Listen to me complain like I've done this for years or something. Ha!

Not sure of my exact time - will see when it's posted.
One stroke hot, next stroke cold.
At the beginning, just did some sculling strokes for the final ten seconds before the the start, then was able to just put my head in the water and go.
LOTS of people. Lots of groping. Lots of people who don't know how to sight. One woman literally landed with her arm and half of her chest on my back. Have no idea how she did that. Another woman hit me solidly on four consecutive strokes until I finally lurched to the left to get out of her way. Had to stop for a second to let two people go, because they were each squeezing me into a shrinking space.
I kept thinking to myself that we're all just here to have fun and no one is intentionally trying to beat me, but if you don't get out of my line that you keep crowding. . .
So it was a mental challenge to just stay calm. I focused on stretching my shoulder and hand way out front like Coach Marty suggested yesterday. No shoulder pain during or after. Stuck with the breathing, sighted every 6-8 strokes.
In 10 days, I get to do twice that. Fun!

Now for the run. The slogan for the Old School Aquathon is "All distances are approximate. This is Old School."

And thank goodness those distances were approximate, because that half mile to make three miles? Would have been miserable. So let's talk about the good things.

First mile = 9:22
Second mile = 9:40
There may come a time when I get accustomed to averaging less than 10:00 miles. I may forget how cool it felt to see that 9:22 = 1.00 on my wrist tonight (figuratively cool, not literally cool. It was 99 million degrees, after all). I might someday take for granted that I can knock out a shorter time and pace. I hope so, as I'd like to think I'm just getting started with all of this and the sky is the limit for me, even at 41. But today, I'm just grateful.

And oh yeah, second place in Age Group?!?

Left to right - Tisha Cromwell, Michele Rivera, Kim Rice, Sandra McKinnon, Teresa Sanchez


I lived in NYC from July 1996 to December 1999, and as I started running last year, I kept wishing I had run in NY when I lived there. I rode my Ross old-style bike in Central Park and on the West Side Highway, but I didn't run. And now I had my chance, thanks to Jacob's bar mitzvah.

My Saturday run was more relaxed - I was taking pictures :-)

Battery Park City

War Memorial in Battery Park

Trinity Church, up the street from where I used to live.

45 Wall Street, where I used to live. Yes, I used to live on Wall Street. Not as lucrative as working on Wall Street, believe me. And now Tiffany & Co. is there.

The NY Stock Exchange, a half-block from my old apartment at 45 Wall Street.

Federal Hall, across the street from the Stock Exchange.

The bull, mascot of Wall Street

The new World Trade Center under construction. The Memorial requires tickets, which I did not have. So I ran all the way around it and took pictures.

Now for the Sunday run. This was not relaxed - this was serious business.  HA!

Weather at the start was in the high 50's, which I looooooooooove.
Warmup - 10 min plus 18:27 on Garmin for 3 miles at 9:15 - 9:30 pace (Garmin didn't sync for first ten minutes)

Divided up the 9 miles into 30 minute increments/laps with 1 minute walk in between
Lap 1 30:02 min, 3.56 miles, 8:27 pace, HR = 160
this was the West Side drive, fairly flat, although some side to side zig-zagging
Lap 2 30:13 min, 3.48 miles, 8:40 pace, HR = 159
three significant slopes up here in Riverside Park and Central Park, as well as having to wait for stoplights - of the three increments, this was the toughest
Lap 3 23:23 min, 2.73 miles, 8:34 pace, HR = 159
more stoplight waiting, was also kicking myself for not bringing any Gu. Had eaten a Clif bar before I started, but other than that, I only had the low calorie G2. Not smart.

Cooldown 21:44 min, 2.06 miles, 10:34 pace, HR = 147

Overall 2:15 for 14.8 miles (the synched up Garmin will show different than that). Average 9:01 pace and HR = 154. Considering I have not run since September 10, I was very pleased with how I tolerated the goal pace running. Wish I had brought the Gu to eat halfway through, just to see if that would have helped me stay stronger in the second half. My average for the goal pace was 8:35 without the two 1:00 walk breaks and 8:48 with them. My interval timer seems to have died, so I wasn't able to do a scheduled interval (I'm thinking a 7:15 / 0:45 ratio would be a good one).

Went back to my friends' apartment and inhaled a bagel. Then we went for a walk. For three miles. Which kept my legs moving and prevented the stiffness. Still a lovely weekend in NY. I must go back soon and do some more running. I hear they host a marathon :-)

Huxley Prairie Days 10K - August 28

Some thoughts that may only appear random at first glance.

Bummer - they were out of t-shirts.

In June, when I finished my first Olympic, I was really really frustrated because my run was 1:00:06, and the six seconds just annoyed me for days because I wanted so badly to break an hour. So when I would run after that, especially on speed work, I would think of the Six Seconds as a mantra.

Evidently I had let that go in the last few weeks, maybe had finally gotten over it or just focused on other things.

So Coach Marty was planning a run where he said he was going to average 8:20. At the time, I was contemplating not coming back to Iowa this particular weekend because it was going to be such a short trip - which meant I needed to have a training plan in RDU for the weekend. I was reading that and thinking, "Oh. Well. Okay. Can't do that unless I decide to try and start with him and stay with him as long as I can - which would be about a mile. Wonder what that would do to my ego" Was kinda bummed thinking about it.

Decided to come to Iowa since I couldn't figure out how to get out here for a longer length of time anyway. And oh yeah. Hurricane coming. They freak me OUT. Don't like them.

2 mile / 20 minute warmup (it was more like 2.2 miles). Weather was beautiful - about 65, sunny and a little breeze. Grateful to not be in NC today - sorry :-( I hope Tassie is handling the storm okay.

First mile, I was following the 78-year old man in purple top and purple velvet stirrup pants - I kid you not, they were velvet and purple. He said he runs between 8:30 and 9:00, so why not use him as a pacer? I went out a little too fast and couldn't decide between trying to slow down a be a little conservative or trying to maintain. Decided to try and keep the pace and recorded a 7:53 for my first mile, just so I could say that one of my miles was under 8:00. I had forgotten my interval timer, so I also decided to commit to running and not focus on a walk break.

Second mile, half paved / half gravel. Trying to be very careful of gravel. This weird pain in my right foot happened again last night - right under my third and fourth toe and to the right of the ball of my foot. When I run on pavement, I don't land on it, but I sometimes jostle it on gravel enough to feel it.

Second mile 7:54 Feeling pretty good - breathing regular and decided to try to keep this pace for at least the 5K.

Ugh, slight gravel hills. Not like Umstead, thank goodness. I kept in mind that I had already done Umstead almost every week this summer, so this had to be easier, and it was - not that I was believing that at the time though. When I get to the top of the slope and it levels out, I have to remember for the next minute or so to just gut it out until my breathing recovers.

Third mile 7:49.65. Really? I have never run three consecutive miles under 8:00

5K in 24:12 Woo Hoo! My fastest 5K ever. This would have placed second in my age group and about 40th out of 115 competitors overall for the 5K. Trying to keep pace with a woman who flew by me on an uphill - she was in purple too. Purple power!

Fourth mile, starting to feel it a bit - one of the slopes was just a little much. Changed my Garmin display to show me lap pace and splits and made a game out of keeping it under 8. It was 7:49.12 Stunning.

Now I'm doing the math and, where before I had thought maybe I could pull off a 52-ish, all of a sudden I'm thinking that breaking 50 is a real possibility. Keep in mind my fastest 10K in training is somewhere around 54:30. Coach Bri had said a few weeks ago that I really had not had a chance to see what I could do on my own. This was far more than I thought possible.

Fifth mile. Finally got back to the pavement and decided to walk for 30 seconds. Breathing was heavier and I was feeling my HR higher. Felt much better after the walk and wanted to make up the lost time. Ended up doing this mile in 8:11.

Sixth mile. As Bri recommended, I was trying to think not so much about, "I have a mile left" as "I have ten minutes left." Watching my Garmin and trying to calculate how many minutes I had remaining. I'm still in the habit of calculating on ten minute miles though. Once I realized with about .75 mi to go that there was really about six minutes left and not eight, I was able to stick with my pace. 7:51 Holy freaking cow - 7:51 on the sixth mile. Never ever thought that would be in reach.

Turned the corner for the last .2 miles. I do have a finishing kick because I'm an overly competitive ego-driven person who wants to look good at the end. I'm pretty happy to dig into the kick. I now wish I had kicked it in a little sooner. Finished this at a 7:14 pace.

Garmin Time 0:49:06 for 6.22 miles

Six freaking seconds from breaking 49:00. Six seconds. That walk break now just aggravates me to no end.

Race Time 0:49:11 for an average of 7:56
I was in the back of the pack for the start - no chip timing, so my watch vs. race time were a little different.
I averaged 7:56 ?!?

So maybe I could have hung with Marty for more than his first mile, especially if I could have warmed up for 20 minutes first.

Ran a couple of miles as a cooldown. Had to stop the cooldown at less than three miles though. They were giving awards. There were only about 50 runners in the 10K, so I take this with a grain of salt - I was first in the 40-49 age group for women.

The overall 10K winner ran a 32:14. Whoa!

Didn't get a t-shirt. Got a medal instead. Even better - got a shocking PR in my first ever 10K.

Fun! Fun! Fun!

White Lake International - September 10

Short version of long story - signed up for Nation's Triathlon in D.C. on September 11. Due to lots of rain, the Potomac was deemed unsafe for the swim, and on the Thursday before the race, they cancelled the swim. Quick check with Tisha - we're going to White Lake instead to do the White Lake International.

So glad I switched to this event. Not because I didn't want to do Nation's, but we ended up kinda falling into a great setup for lodging, met a couple of women who have done B2B half and are training for B2B full - new friends! - and the weather was lovely. And a 2 hour drive vs. 5 hours certainly made the return trip easier. Tisha had a hip injury and elected to not compete, so she became the Sherpa. Thank goodness.

Slept pretty well, except I ended up on the couch (ruled out the available air mattress that smelled moldy). Sore back when I woke up, and a little sore on my left hip. Not my last reference to the left hip. Ate Balance Bar and Sugar Free Red Bull at 0600 (race time 0840), then had  Odwalla bar at 0730 and Gu and G2 at 0830. Nutrition was all good throughout the race. Very happy with how I felt and tolerated the combination of Gu, bars and G2.

Swim - I knew I had some rocky moments during the swim but wasn't quite expecting a 35:50. Was dealing with some slightly leaky goggles and felt like I was fighting my wetsuit (should have practiced in it on Thursday night - I had it with me too, darn it). It's a sleeveless wetsuit, but just felt more constricted in the chest and legs today. Got hit quite a few times in the first 300 meters, then ended up in a clearer area as many passed me.
Between 600 and 700 meters, I suddenly found myself way off course. I have no idea if that's because I wasn't sighting correctly due to the leaky goggles or just not paying attention. Was able to get back on track but for the rest of the swim, I was looking up every four strokes to make sure I didn't do that again. The veering off course and the more frequent sighting probably cost me some time. Not good. 35:50 18 of 35

Transition - ugh, struggled with the wetsuit. I know better. Not happy with my time at all. 2:38 19 of 35 women.

Bike - no computer other than cadence and no Garmin. So really no idea where I was. Just focused on a cadence around 85, tried to make sure I was in a gear that would push without causing any muscle stress or overt fatigue and occasionally checked the computer clock to see how long I had been riding. Just go go go.
Gu at about mile 4, as Bri recommended waiting until I was settled on the bike so that my heart rate was a little lower. Good call :-)
Left hip started acting up around mile 4 - but not the same way I had experienced before due to aero position. I don't know what was going on, especially that early in the ride, but later in the bike, I ended up having to stand up a few times just to stretch out.  For those of you who have competed at White Lake, you know about the teeth-shocking bumps every ten seconds and the patching that makes it worse? Ow. Ow. Ow. Reminded me that I will wear a second pair of bike shorts at B2B because my tri suit has basically a layer of cotton for padding.

Was passed by some super fast older men who started after me. Heard a guy yell at me from behind and thought I was doing something wrong. Turns out it was Doug Robinson who saw my OSB jersey and yelled, "Who's your coach - Marty or Bri?" as he was passing me.

I passed him on the run later and re-introduced myself from our Monday runs :-)

Then later in the ride passed a few women. Felt stronger on the last five miles after we got on smoother pavement. Ate all of my energy gels too - which meant I had had two Gu's, the pack of energy gels and a full bottle of G2 by this time. No mental yuck a la Washington, although my mind certainly did wander. I hope I can focus more strongly for the longer rides in prep for B2B.
Ended up out of aero position more in the second half of the bike than I wanted to, as my hip was getting more achy.
Total time for 28 miles - 1:31:42 (18.34 mph) for 15 of 35 women
I'll take that 18.34, thank you very much, especially given how slow some of my recent training rides have been.

Transition 2 1:33 7 of 35. That's more like it.

Run - so I'm starting with an achy right hip. No idea of my time. Over 85 degrees by now and there is no shade beyond the transition area. Plus it's an out-and-back and they basically gave us the shoulder of the highway and put two lanes of runners on that.
First mile. Suck it up and just keep running. I purposefully did not hit my lap button on my Garmin because I didn't want to be looking down at it and fixating on "I'm going too slow - I suck!". Did look down once in a while and saw the occasional 8 or 9. I'm okay with that. Just want to get through this first mile and then I will
settle in.

30-second walk break at the 15-minute mark. I think I will always use some sort of walk break - the question will be timing it. Will probably make it more intentional and planned though.

Mile two - remember the road patching I wrote about earlier and the two runners on a shoulder? So I was staying way to the right, and when I passed someone (which I did often - woo hoo!), I would call out "On your left" and speed up, move around them, and get back to the far right side. Planted my left foot on some of the black road patching and my foot went out from under me.

Yes, I fell. On the RUN. Seriously. Who does that? Other than me, I guess. So so so stupid. And of course, I landed on the achy left hip, plus my left knee and the heels of both hands. Stood up, assessed, grabbed G2 bottle and started running, because I'm now thinking to myself, I've got to finish this run before I stiffen up, which will be about thirty minutes from now. Stopped at water stop for mile 2 to pour water over my hands that were scratched and bleeding, dumped water down my chest and back, and started running again.

Mile 3, pass more people (yay!). Feeling surprisingly good, although slightly embarrassed. Hip is fine, knee is fine. Hands hurt but I don't need them to run, so who cares. Suck down some sport beans and G2. Short 30 second walk break at about 3.5 miles.

Mile 4, 30 second walk break. Checking Garmin more frequently and doing the math in my head. Good possibilities here for the run time. Another 30 second walk break at about 4.6 miles and I decide that's the last one.

Mile 5.1 - hit the lap button and kick in.
The last mile? 8:06.
Stupid six seconds again. Really?

Chip time was 54:16. 9 out of 35 women
Which means that had I not run that 10K two weeks ago, I would have PR'd my overall 10K run at the end of an Olympic tri.
And this was after I FELL.
Fell down, stood up, looked down, stopped at the water stop, and lost at least 90 seconds. Still got a 54:16. That's an 8:45 pace.

Washington, by the way, was 1:04:40. Finally got some closure on that, I promise :-)

Overall time 3:05:56, 15 of 35

Okay, so I'm not real satisfied with that overall time. Swim was much slower than Washington by 3 minutes (evidently I'm on a 3 minute swim yo-yo because Washington was 3 minutes faster than Flowers). T1 was slow. Bike was decent but there's lots of room for improvement there.

But the run? I'm so so happy with the run and what I was able to accomplish physically and mentally. I was passed by maybe 6 or 7 people and I must have passed at least 30. That last mile at 8:06 just felt great. Hard but great. I felt so strong finally.

That's why I want to run more this season.
I will finish B2B and be very VERY happy with finishing a 70.3 triathlon. I will try to not completely wreck myself at B2B but still push for good results. However, I know I will gain more fulfillment out of the California marathon, regardless of what my final time turns out to be, because it has potential to be so far beyond anything I thought I was capable of at the beginning of this year. That really excites me and I've NEVER been excited about running. Before now.

Of course, the first thing Bri advised me about focusing on the run was to remain injury-free, and I'm not sure what my body will feel like tomorrow. BUT I would like to try.

Left to right - Michele Rivera, Deirdre Dowd, Jenn Mayfield, Avril Young