Paul Moore Foundation “Fight like a Girl” 5k Race Report

The Paul Moore Foundation is a non-profit that Rob’s cousin founded to help support young families with a critically ill parent.  They raise money for these families so that the family can focus on treatments and spending time together instead of worrying about the financial burden that comes with serious illnesses.

Last year, I took part in the first annual Paul Moore Foundation 5k.  When I learned that the tradition was indeed continuing, I was excited to take part again.  This year, the 5k was a benefit for Kristy Carpenter, a young mom who was diagnoses with cancer shortly after the birth of her second child, hence the “Fight like a Girl” label for the race this year.

I planned to use this 5k as a fitness test.  I wasn’t sure where Ironman training had left me in regards to speed over shorter distances.  I decided to shoot for a 7:00/mile pace (21:44).  I did a prediction workout and was able to run 4 x 1600 at 7:00/mile, so I felt like that pace was within my reach, though I wasn’t sure how I’d do running in a small race without the track or other runners to keep me aware of my pace.

I woke up Saturday morning to a wet, miserable mess.  And it was cold—around 46°.  I had no idea what to wear (as is common during the first few weeks of fall and then winter), so I just brought everything.  I wore ¾ length tights under some looser pants.  And I had on a t-shirt under a dry-fit under a running jacket under a hoodie.  Rob and I ended up arriving at the race about an hour early while all the volunteers were setting up the tents and booths.  He immediately found his cousin and started helping out, and I eventually wandered over to the check-in/registration tent, trying as much as I could to keep my feet dry.

tents
Okay, so this was after the race.

After checking in, I stripped off one layer and went out for a warm-up jog.  I probably ran a little over a mile and a half, and during that time I got hot.  I had been planning on running with my dry-fit over my t-shirt, but I decided to race with just my t-shirt instead.  After my jog, I did some stretching and some fast striders in the parking lot.  I warmed up more completely for this race than for the races I’ve done in the past, which is something I’ve been working on.

othertrees
This too!

Fortunately, as the runners headed over to the start, the rain stopped.  Rob decided to go track down some coffee at a gas station and took off.  We all lined up at the start and waited around for quite a while.  I had shed all my layers and was starting to get pretty cold.  After fifteen minutes or so, the organizers called us to attention.  They talked a bit about the organization and Kristy’s story before the countdown.  Three… two… one… go!

I took off at what I hoped was a controlled pace.  And I was all alone.  I heard footsteps behind me for about 50 meters before they faded.  At that point, I figured that, unless I faded pretty significantly, I was probably going to be running by myself the entire race.  I had to rely on myself as opposed to other runners to keep my pace consistent.

I crossed my first “checkpoint” (.24 miles) almost 20 seconds ahead of schedule.  I shortened my stride and put on the brakes a bit.  I didn’t want to burn myself out.  My pace felt easy, and I felt strong.  Rob drove by, coffee in hand, and cheered for me out the window.

It wasn’t long before I was approaching the end of the first mile.  I wasn’t sure whether to expect a mile marker or not, so when I didn’t see one, I wasn’t too worried.  I had enough “checkpoints” written on my hand to keep me aware of my pace.

Near the end of the first half, the race turned onto a paved bike path.  When I checked my watch at that point, I was around 9:07, still over ten seconds faster than the 9:22 that I was supposed to hit at that point.  I knew I’d be turning around in just a minute and a half and used that as a motivation to keep my pace up.  However, when I did eventually turn around, I saw I had gone from over ten seconds ahead of pace to over ten seconds behind pace.  I knew I had not lost a full 25 seconds during two minutes of running, and I thought maybe I had miscalculated my original checkpoints.  I was a bit disappointed because it was pretty clear at this point that a PR or 7:00/mile pace was out of my reach.  However, I still wanted to finish strong, so I stayed in the game mentally.

After the turn-around, I got a view of who was behind me.  There was one man a little ways back, and then third place was another woman.  Neither of them seemed like immediate threats, but I knew I couldn’t fall apart and stay in front.  I didn’t pay as much attention to my checkpoints on the way back.  I was already behind, and I didn’t want to get discouraged.  Instead, I just focused on keeping the pace hard.  Some of the folks still on their way out called out to me or cheered for me as I passed.  I tried to acknowledge some of them, but I didn’t do a very good job.  I was almost completely focused on running hard at that point.

During the final mile, I just focused on looking for the turn, keeping my arms active, and keeping my cadence high.  I felt the beginnings of a side stitch, but fortunately, it never fully materialized.  I made the second to last turn and then started looking for the final turn.  I was scared I’d turn early, so when I saw a street that I thought might be the finish, I quickly changed my mind and figured it was probably the next street.  As I ran by the street, however, I heard someone yelling, so I quickly turned around and did indeed see the finish line down the street I had just run past.

I turned on the street, trying to finish strong and make up a little of the time I lost from the navigation error.  I pushed through and stopped my watch after crossing the line.  22:30.  Huh.  I was vaguely disappointed, as I had hoped to run faster than that (and felt I had the fitness to run faster than that as well).  However, it was fun to come away with the win.  I thought it was especially apropos that a woman win a “Fight like a Girl” 5k.

A few minutes, the second-place guy crossed the finish line.  The woman I’m assuming was his wife went over to congratulate him.  Then she turned to me.  “I’m so glad a girl beat him!” she said.  I responded with my typical nondescript noise that I make when I don’t know how to proceed in a conversation.  Then the guy commented on how I must race a lot and how fast I was for a girl.  I tried not to act completely confused.  When Rob came up, I told him how confused I was.  “I mean, I’m fast-ish, but it’s not like I’m really fast.  I don’t get it.  If he’s run many races, he’s been beat by plenty of women.  But if he hasn’t ever run a decent-sized 5k before, why is he hung up on getting beat by a woman?”

The mystery remained unsolved, but we moved past it.

One of Rob’s cousins crossed the finish, and I chatted with her a bit.  I saw that she was wearing a Garmin, so I asked, “What did you get for the course length?”

“I got 3.2-something,” she replied.  “And it was still looking for a satellite, so I didn’t start it until about there.”  She pointed to a tree about a hundred meters or so from the start line.  The course was relatively straight and didn’t have many turns, so I don’t think that tangents would account for the added distance.

So I’m totally going to be the blogger that says the course was long.  It makes sense, as it was a small charity race with the turnaround on a bike path.  It would also explain how I stayed on pace so well except for on the last stretch before the turnaround.   So, if the course was accurate, I ran a 7:12/mile pace.  However, if the course was long (somewhere between 3.2 and 3.3 miles), I ran anywhere from a 7:02/mile pace to a 6:50/mile pace.  There’s no way to know for sure, which does make me tempted to sign up for another 5k to see what I can do.

After the race, we enjoyed the silent auction and some time with Rob’s extended family.  I also got a chance to try a common LDS vice for the first time.  Because Mormons don’t drink coffee or alcohol, many of them have adopted “dirty sodas” as a treat.  These are essentially sodas with shots of flavor or puréed fruit.  I had never heard of this before I moved to Utah, but it was pretty good.  And I’m a big fan of soda after I run, so it was a nice treat.

sodamenu
Soda menu

As Rob and I were getting ready to leave, we passed by a young woman sitting with second-place guy (his daughter, perhaps?).  She said, “Oh, are you the one who beat him?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s great!  He’s told, like, thirty people already, so I think it really bothers him!”

I again uttered my go-to nondescript response.  After we left, Rob and I picked up the conversation about what that guy’s deal was.  We weren’t mad or upset about it.  He seemed friendly enough.  It was just weird.  We could not figure it out.  Eventually, we settled on the idea that this guy was the fastest guy at his Crossfit gym (no offense, Crossfitters!), so he felt fast even though he wasn’t a serious runner.  Some sort of active participation in another form of exercise was the only thing that made sense.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the race.  The day before and morning of the race, I was just kind of dreading it.  I didn’t want to run it.  I even briefly considered trying to find an excuse not to show up at the race.  I wasn’t feeling it.  However, after running the race, I felt like I had seen my strong base from Ironman training in action.  It renewed my interest in doing some shorter races this fall as opposed to killing off that desire for a while like I expected it to.

The main take-away from this race was that I need to start being a little more structured in my training again.  It’s time for me to start planning my workouts at the beginning of the week again and training with more of a purpose.  I know what I need to do to make the progress in triathlon that I want to make.  I need to keep swimming.  I need to add in interval work on the bike.  And if I have the time and desire to make some strides in my running, I’ll do that as well.

thumbsup

Weekly Recap (9/19-9/25)

Monday: Swim—2450 yards
I stayed up fairly late on Sunday (impromptu movie date, which is always fun!), so I wasn’t really happy about getting up early to go swimming.  Once I went, though, I ended up having a good time.  We did a lot of kicking which is one of the weak parts of my stroke.  So while it was a tough workout, I know it was the kind of workout I need to do more often.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
5 x 50 (catch up)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
Whistle kicks (250 yards)
200 build
Whistle kicks (250 yards)
200 easy
4 x 100 (kick)
100 easy
The last 100s of kicking were hard, and they left my legs burning.  However, I felt good about how my kick is progressing.  One woman that I swim with used to have a much faster kick than I do.  Now she just has a somewhat faster kick than I do.  Progress!

Tuesday: Run—6.5 miles (54:59); Strength—15 minutes
I went on my run in the morning from my office.  I felt better than I did Sunday, and the run was actually almost pleasant.  The route that I run from my office is actually remarkably scenic.  It takes me by a river and onto some country roads.  So it was nice to get out there again and be all alone with my thoughts.  I actually managed to run under an 8:30/mile pace on a run that was longer than a couple miles for the first time in who-knows-how-long.  I also hopped back on the preventative strength training wagon.  During lunch, I did a short 15 minute session.  I need to get back into the habit of strengthening my hips and glutes so I can avoid future injuries as much as possible.

Wednesday: Swim—2600 yards
On Wednesday, we typically focus on a single stroke.  Today, much to my elation, that stroke was freestyle.  Because the focus of this workout was on form, we did more drills than usual.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (kick, swim)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
200 easy
3 x 50 (10-kick barrel roll)
3 x 50 (10-kick barrel roll, ¾ catchup)
3 x 50 (catchup)
3 x 50 (¾ catchup)
3 x 100 (build and descend)
100 easy
2 x 100 (build and descend)
100 easy
100 fast (1:15)
I noticed a slightly different metric of progress during this workout.  I am so much better at meting out effort than I was when I first started swimming with Masters.  For the build and descend sets, we were supposed to build speed throughout each 100 and swim each full 100 of the set faster than the last one.  In the past, I would have felt totally blind starting a set like that, with no idea where my starting effort level needed to be.  However, I felt much more comfortable approaching the set on Wednesday.  And I did manage to both speed up throughout each interval and get faster overall for each 100.

Thursday: Swim—3000 yards
It was a distance day at Masters.  I got some good feedback on my stroke early on (my hand is misplaced during my midpull), so I spent the practice concentrating on that particular aspect of my stroke.
500 swim
300 kick
4 x 50 (distance per stroke)
200 (catch and midpull)
250 (breathe every third stroke)
300 (6-beat kick)
250 (breathe every third stroke)
200 (catch and midpull)
100 easy
500 negative split (3:50, 3:30)
200 easy
This workout didn’t look too hard up on the whiteboard, but it ended up being a tough one.  I swam hard, so by the time I was coming back down the ladder, I was really fatigued.  I took a decent break before I did the 500 at the end.  As usual, I wasn’t sure quite how fast to start out.  So I took a guess.  I ended up starting a little too slow.  Ideally, the negative splits would have been closer to each other (say, 3:40 and 3:35).  But I still felt really good about the workout.  I made an adjustment to my stroke that should have me swimming faster in a few weeks.  I really pushed myself.  And I am getting better at judging my pace.

Friday: Rest
I took a rest day because of my race the next day.  I enjoyed the rest, but I did notice I was bouncing off the walls at work.  Usually, I go for a walk during lunch, but I couldn’t do that either because of the rain, so I suspect that was part of it.

Saturday: Run—5k (22:30)
I ran the Paul Moore Foundation 5k on Saturday.  Despite the cold, rainy weather before the race, it went fairly well.  I’m not sure my time reflects where my fitness is currently (more to come in the race report), and I’m somewhat interested in signing up for another race with a larger field to see what I can do.

othertrees

Sunday: REST
I had planned on exercising, but I woke up and didn’t really want to.  So I didn’t.  I’m really enjoying that aspect of recovery—guilt-free skipped workouts.  The off-season rules!

“Fall into Swimming” Swim Meet Report

I was a bit apprehensive to sign up for this swim meet.  Because it was an “all ages” meet, I suspected it would be mostly kids, and I was worried

Considering I’ve never done a swim meet, I had a fairly easy time setting goals for each of my events.  US Swimming has a list of “motivational times” for people of different age groups.  There are several tiers of times, ranging from B-standard to AAAA-standard.  My times in practice for the 50y freestyle and 100y freestyle were within one or two seconds of the B-standard, so my goal was to hit that B-standard for both events.  Striving for mediocrity!
50 yard freestyle—0:31.99
100 yard freestyle—1:09.39
Going in, I was more confident in hitting my goal in the 50 yard freestyle than the 100.  My fastest 50 in practice was a low 32 (so close) whereas my faster 100 in practice was right around 1:11 (still at least 1.5 seconds off).  However, I wasn’t extraordinarily attached to these goals.  This was my first swim meet ever, and I wanted enjoy it and learn a lot.

I was a bit apprehensive to sign up for this swim meet.  Because it was an “all ages” meet, I suspected it would be mostly kids, and I was worried I would be pretty much the only adult there.

I woke up the morning of the meet and checked my email.  The meet director had sent out a list all the heats that would be swum.  I scanned through, looking for heats assigned to the “17 and up.”  I only saw two… both with a single, lone swimmer.  And, of course, I was that single, lone swimmer.  I was literally the only adult who had signed up for the meet.

“Are you sure you still want to go?” Rob asked after I told him.

“Yes,” I said. “I already paid for it.” (I like to selectively ignore what I learned about sunk costs in my one college economics class when it suits me.)

I would be the only adult, and I would be literally the only one swimming in my heat.  At least I was going to win my age group!

The swim meet wasn’t until the afternoon, so in the morning, Rob and I headed to his company’s employee sale with a friend/co-worker of his.  There was a lot of standing in line and a lot of walking around.  We found some great deals.  Rob’s haul included a bike trainer and a pair of $300 cycling shorts, both purchased for a dollar a piece.

The sale was worth it, but by the time we got back to Rob’s place around 12:30 or so, I was relatively knackered.  I fit in a quick power nap and felt a little better (though still somewhat fatigued).  We left for the pool around 2:40 or so and arrived around 3:15, just in time to check in for the meet and warmup.

20160917_164846

I headed to the check in table and gave them my name.  I decided to embrace the awkward, so I announced, “Yeah, I’m the only adult” to the guy checking me in.

“Oh yeah!  When I saw that an adult had signed up, I was going to sign up.  But my boss needed me to work instead.”  I silently cursed the man’s boss and gave an internal sigh of relief.  At least one person here didn’t think I was a total idiot signing up for a kid’s meet.

I warmed up with an easy 300, two 100 yard builds and a few starts.  There was at least one benefit of being an adult at a kids’ meet—I think all the kids were afraid to hop in my lane, so I got to warm up in a lane all by myself.

20160917_154137
The adults on deck, however, were still more than willing to stand in front of the starting blocks when I needed to use them.
20160917_153135
Warming up in the pool.

After warming up, I sat on the deck, surrounded by a bunch of kids while they all swam their events.  There were a bunch of high school guys who had pretty clearly never swam and were there for a good time.  I’ll admit that it was a little funny to watch them get totally defeated by the races.  One kids dragged himself out of the water halfway through his IM (individual medley) and moaned, “I think I’m gonna stick to football.”

Before I knew it, it was time for my 50 yard freestyle.  I couldn’t understand the commands the starter was giving very well (megaphone in a bustling pool area), but I knew the noise to listen to for the start.  I crouched down in the blocks.  BEEP.  I dove into the water, focusing only on getting streamlined quickly to avoid losing my goggles.  The goggles stayed on.  And I started swimming.  The 50 yard freestyle is an all-out sprint.  Start as fast as you possibly can and lose as little speed as possible.  I felt strong coming into the wall and executed a solid (for me) flip turn.  I held up my speed well through the second half of the race, only started to feel fatigued during the last 10 or 15 yards.  I hit the wall with some force (to make sure I activated the timing pad).  I popped my head out of the water and looked at the scoreboard, which was tracking time.  30.04.  The woman timing with a stopwatch on deck gave me a time of 30.23.  I wasn’t sure which was more “official,” but I honestly didn’t care.  I was thrilled either way.  I hopped out of the water and gave Rob a big grin and a double-thumbs up.

20160917_162528
I’ve never actually seen myself do a swim start, so this photo was cool to me.
20160917_162558
You can’t see it, but there’s a giant grin on my face.

The woman running the meet came up to me after the 50 yard freestyle, told me I had swum well, and asked if I swam with a Masters group (was I just recruited?  Who knows!).  She also asked if I had a kid swimming in the meet as well, but she didn’t seem creeped out when I sheepishly admitted that I did not.  After talking with her, Rob and rendezvoused on the stairs for a couple minutes afterwards, and I told him how happy I was with my time before heading back down and waiting for my heat of the 100 yard freestyle.

I hopped up onto the blocks for the 100 yard freestyle.  The horn sounded, and I took off.  Since the 100 is not (for me) a full-out sprint, I was a little worried about going out too easy or going out too hard.  After the first lap, I felt tired but not spent and decided to keep up my pace as well as I could.  My final turn was subpar, and I didn’t get nearly as much of a push off the wall as I would have liked.  The last 25 was strangely familiar because it felt very similar to the last 100 of a 400m running race (which was a distance I ran pretty frequently in relays in high school).  I was working so hard but felt like I was barely moving… and I had no real idea how fast or slow I was actually swimming.

I (finally) hit the wall and came up gasping.  The big scoreboard showed 1:04.94.  Shocked, I climbed out of the water where the woman on deck told me I had swum 1:07.1.  I was a little confused considering the gap between those two times.  This time, despite knowing that I would be absolutely thrilled with either time, I did care some which one was correct.  Two seconds is a big discrepancy.

20160917_162557
Finally at the wall.

20160917_164304

Rob and I took off after I was done swimming.  He spent half his afternoon watching me swim about a minute and a half, and I didn’t want to force him to spend more time watching a bunch of kids struggle through the water.  And I was ready to not be the sole adult in a sea of children.  As we left, I asked if the official results would be e-mailed out.  I was told that they would be, but I haven’t received them yet, so right now I’m waiting to see if I hit a 1:05 or a 1:07 for the 100 yard freestyle.

As I expected, I’m very glad I decided to face the uncomfortable situation of swimming with a bunch of kids.  I was thrilled with my performance in both races, which far exceeded what I thought I was capable of.  I’m looking forward to signing up for at least a few more meets over the winter and getting a better idea of my potential as a swimmer.

Weekly Recap (9/12-9/18)

Monday: Swim—3000 yards
I didn’t feel great when I woke up.  I was tired and feeling a bit run-down for whatever reason.  I even briefly considering skipping practice and went with the idea that I’d work hard but not beat myself up if I wasn’t swimming well. And it ended up being a lesson in not judging how a workout will feel by how you feel beforehand.
500 swim
300 kick
4 x 50 (distance per stroke)
10 x 100 @ 1:35
4 x 50 (distance per stroke)
8 x 75 (kick) @ 1:35
200 strong
We finished our warm-up and the coach showed us our workout.  The workout is generally the same for all lanes, with the interval being different depending on what the “speed” of your lane is.  When I saw 1:35 for our lane, I almost nope’d out of there.  I held 1:35 for five 100s a couple weeks ago, and it was rough.  No way could I do ten.  But the lane one below mine was only holding 1:45, and that’s relatively easy for me these days.  I knew at least one of the women in my lane was around my speed and that if I failed to make the interval, she probably would too (which is kind of a jerk thing to think, but that affected my decision).  So I stayed in the lane and decided to go for it.  And I made it!  I made the interval every time.  By the end, I was holding just around 1:30 for each 100.  I was pretty stoked that I nailed this workout.  I knew I was close, but I thought it’d be another month or so of swimming 3-4 times a week before I’d get 10 x 100 @ 1:35.

Tuesday: Rest
I took a rest day.  I was able to get some stuff done around the house and get to bed nice and early (before 9:00pm).

Wednesday: Swim—1750 yards + open turns
It was IM (individual medley) day at swim practice which means we did work on all four strokes.  It was absolutely exhausting, but I know it was good for me.
200 reverse IM
200 IM kick
200 inverse IM
4 x 50 (kick, swim; IM order)
4 x 50 (closed fist; IM order)
6 x 125 IM (rotating fast 50)
Turns
For the 125s, we would do 25 of three strokes and 50 of one.  We were supposed to swim the extended stroke fast.  So we started with a fast (ha!) 50 of butterfly followed by 25 of each of the rest of the strokes.  During the next 125, we extended the backstroke leg to 50 and swam 25 of each of the rest.  You get the picture.  It was hard.  I was swimming with the faster of the two lanes I use when I usually choose to swim with the slower lane during workouts that aren’t focused on freestyle.  So I was struggling to keep up.  I was definitely bringing up the rear, but I never really got left behind, so I was pleased with my performance.  At one point while swimming the butterfly, I actually thought, “This doesn’t feel completely horrible!”  We did open turns at the end of practice, and it’s clear that I need more practice on that front, but I have no plans to race anything other than freestyle for a long time, so needing more practice isn’t a bad thing at this point.

Thursday: Run—10,000m (6.2 miles)
Track day!  I decided to do a 5k predictor workout.  So I turned to my trusty companion Google and started looking.  I saw a few options, but the one I decided on was 4 x 1600.  Simple and elegant.  I had no idea how easy or difficult this workout would be, and I wasn’t even sure what pace I should be targeting.  I decided to target a 6:59/mile pace which comes out to a 6:56 for each 1600.
1600m warmup
4 x 1600 w/400m recovery (6:54.1, 6:55.2, 6:51.8, 6:53.3)
800m cooldown
This workout was harder than I had hoped.  I had hoped I would nail it and feel great the whole time and realize that all that time away from any tempo work hadn’t affected me negatively at all.  Not quite.  I hit all my paces, but I had to work for it.  And while I currently have a large aerobic base and my baseline anaerobic speed, that area in the middle is not quite up to par with the other two.  I’m still pleased with how the workout went.  I hit my pace for each repetition even with the jogging recovery.  I got faster instead of slower towards the end (and would have been able to run that last 1600 faster than I did if I hadn’t developed a nasty side stitch).  I feel comfortable pegging my current 5k pace around 7:00/mile, which was the point of this workout anyway.  I just wanted it to be epic and groundbreaking, and instead it was just a regular ol’ solid workout.

Friday: Swim—1750 yards + sharks and minnows
I did not want to go to the pool on Friday.  I was tired and had stayed up too late the night before and was feeling lazy.  But I dragged myself out of bed and went, mostly because I wanted to ask the coach about recommendations for warming up before a meet.  It was “fun” Friday, so we played a game after a short workout.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
6 x 50 (closed fist)
4 x 25 (underwater)
2 x 75 (kick, scull, swim)
20 x 25 @ :30
100 easy
Sharks and minnows
The 25s felt hard, but I was swimming them almost as fast as I could.  My time slowed down pretty significantly over the 20 reps.  I started at 16ish seconds and my last ones were almost 20 seconds, but I think that’s to be expected when you are swimming so many fast intervals in a row.  Then we played sharks and minnows which was fun, but eh.  I wasn’t too into it (see above reasons for not wanting to get out of bed in the first place).  But once I got to work and drank my daily cup of coffee, I was feeling a little better.

Saturday: Swim meet (650 yards)
I had my first swim meet!  I’ll save the recap for a later post, but it went well.  I warmed up by swimming 300 yards and then doing two 100 yard builds.  I also did a couple starts.  I raced the 50 yard freestyle and the 100 yard freestyle for a total of 650 yards.

20160917_153135

Sunday: Run—7 miles (1:01:56)
This was my longest run (by a long shot) since my Ironman.  It’s strange… while I returned to swimming and cycling with no trouble after my race, running has taken a little longer.  I didn’t feel awesome on this run, partly because my calves were still a little sore from speedwork and probably partly because I haven’t been running much.  I’ve enjoyed the speedwork I’ve done lately, but I haven’t really wanted to do any tempo runs or longer runs.  Obviously, this doesn’t bode well for focusing on the 5k this fall, but I’m still in the “do what I feel like day-by-day” stage of post-Ironman life.  After my 5k next week, I’m going to start finalizing my off-season “plan.”  And, whatever my focuses end up being, finalizing my off-season plans will likely mean biting the bullet and adding some more running into my schedule.

On looking stupid

Last week, I registered for my first ever swim meet.

Our Masters coach mentioned it to us as a good meet for beginners because it wasn’t sanctioned by USMS (US Masters Swimming) which meant that you didn’t have to pay the $40+ USMS membership fee to participate.  Plus, it was relatively inexpensive in general.  It would only cost me $18 to sign up for the two events I wanted to do.

fallintoswimming
Any skill level?  It’s so welcoming… what could go wrong?!

However, the other effect of this meet not being by USMS is that it’s an all-ages meet, meaning that anyone aged 6 and up can participate.  There are age groups, of course, with the oldest group being all swimmers who are 17 or older (this is obviously the group to which I belong).  I had a niggling worry in the back of my head from the moment I heard about the meet.  It just sounded like it was a meet geared towards kids which is great, but imagining myself competing at a meet full of kids made me feel a bit like a creeper.

So I asked our coach about it.  “If I sign up, am I going to be the only adult there?”

“Well, there you’ll probably see a few other adults, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was going to be mostly kids.”

Great.

If I signed up for this meet, I was going to be the tall, gangly, creepy 28 year old lining up behind a bunch of 12 year olds, all of whom would be faster than me.  It would be me and a bunch of kids competing, and their parents (who would probably be my age, by the way) would all stare at me and wonder what in the heck my deal was.

In other words, I was going to look really stupid.

I immediately started reconsidering whether I wanted to do this meet or not.  Now, the odd thing is that I wasn’t worried about my performance, per se.  I wasn’t worried that I would swim way below my ability (I’m pretty consistent in shorter races).  I wasn’t worried that I would be bringing up the back of the field (I already knew that was probably going to be the case).  I was straight-up scared of looking stupid.

It wouldn’t be the first time I let “looking stupid” be a huge factor in making a decision.  And, to be honest, if I had been on the fence about the swim meet, “looking stupid” would likely have been the reason that tipped the scales towards me not signing up.  But I wasn’t on the fence.  Usually, I race reluctantly and because I like the way I feel after.  But my swimming has improved a lot, and I wanted a chance to see what I could do in a race.  I was actually uncharacteristically excited about racing.

I see-sawed back and forth for a bit before I realized that literally the only argument my “don’t do it” side was making was, “But what if you look really stupid?”  And regardless of how pervasive that fear is, it’s not a strong enough reason to change my mind.

So I drove about a thousand miles out of my way (well, 15 miles, anyway) on the way home from work and dropped off my registration.

That night, I had a dream that I showed up at the meet and it was literally just me and a bunch of six year olds.

It’s a very real possibility that said premonition won’t be too far off the reality.  And that’s okay.  It’s okay if I get weird looks from twelve year olds who are wondering why a grown-up is swimming with the high schoolers.  It’s okay if some of the moms wonder what the heck I’m doing with my life if I’m still competing with kids even though I’m clearly no longer a kid myself.  And if I look stupid?  Oh well, I guess.  It wouldn’t be the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last.

Weekly Recap (9/05-9/11)

Monday: Bike—1:33:46 (21.97 miles); Swim—2500 yards
Rob and I went for a bike ride in the morning.  It was a beautiful autumn day, so we took it easy and did some bike exploring.  We rode through some gorgeous neighborhoods and some wonderful older neighborhoods.  He showed me the house he used to live in when he was a young kid, as well as the way he used to walk to school every morning.  It was a low-key ride, but it was tons of fun.

Later in the day, I went to the pool for a swim.  Since my kicking is weak compared to the rest of my stroke, I wanted to work some on that.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (kick, swim)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
5 x 100 @ 1:40
10 x 50 kick @ 1:15
2 x 250 easy
This workout ended up being tough.  I think the heavy-for-me week of swimming last week caught up to me.  I swam the 100s well (all between 1:21 and 1:24), but I was glad that I only had five of them.  Similarly, I kept up my pace well on the 50s (around :55 seconds each), but they were rough.  I had tentatively planned on doing another five fast 100s after the 50s, but I wasn’t feeling it, so I did some easy yardage instead.

Tuesday: Rest
I was surprisingly tired after my swim on Monday, so I took Tuesday as my rest day.  I had a relaxing evening where I did nothing in particular, and I got to bed early and slept well.

Wednesday: Swim—2100 yards
I dutifully went to Masters on Wednesday morning so I could learn other strokes besides freestyle.  Apparently, it’s “good for me” or something.  We did breaststroke.  I mostly did freestyle for the warmup until the drills that we did.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
6 x 50 (2 kick, 1 pull)
6 x 50 (3 second glide)
3 x 50 (breaststroke with dolphin kick)
3 x 50 (piston kick, easy breaststroke)
3 x 50 (kick on back)
3 x 50 (cobra drill, easy breaststroke)
100 easy freestyle
4 x 50 breaststroke @ 1:10
As you can see, a lot of the workout was drills.  As tedious as drills can be, I know I need to do a lot of them when learning these strokes that I’m not very good at yet.  Once we hit the actual breaststroke reps at the end of the workout, we were already running out of time.  I was actually surprised at how fast I managed these.  I ended up swimming them in about :55 each when I didn’t think I had any hope of swimming them under a minute.  I mean, that’s still slow, but it was faster than I thought it would be.

Thursday: Run—5800m
I didn’t know what to expect when I headed to the track Thursday morning to do some speed work.  I decided to treat it like an evaluation to see where my speed/fitness is and allow myself to go with the flow as the workout progressed.
1600m warmup
4 x 400 (1:33.4, 1:30.7, 1:29.3, 1:24.8)
1000 (3:59.9)
4 x 200 (35.4, 35.1, 36.3, 35.7)
800m cool-down
I guessed that my 5k pace was around 7:00/mile (just a hair faster than my current PR).  The prescribed workout, then, was to run the 400s at a 6:45/mile pace and the 1000 at a 6:50/mile pace.  If you look at my actual times, it’s pretty clear that I ran everything faster than I was “supposed” to.  However, I felt strong.  As you can see from my 400s, even though I was “too fast” from the get-go, I ran at a fairly conservative pace considering I just kept getting faster throughout the set.  I ran my 1000 evenly without slowing down much.  And I felt great up until I hit those 200s.  I was nailing it, and the workout felt, dare I say, easy.  The 200s had a little less rest (1 minute of stationary rest versus walking a 200), and they were a lot faster.  And boy, they were tough.  I kept my pace pretty well, and I was proud of myself for speeding up a bit on the last one instead of continuing to slow down.  I expected to be around :40 for these 200m intervals.  I honestly thought that my full-out can-only-do-one-rep time for a 200m in practice would be around :35, so I was pleased I could hold that pace for four of them.  But it was hard.

Friday: Swim—1700 yards + dry land drills
I woke up very sore from my workout on Thursday, which I expected.  I was glad I was swimming instead of running or riding my bike.  And then I got to the pool and found out we were doing a lot of dry land drills.  Awesome.  I had mentioned I was super sore to the coach, though, and he graciously did not add lunges to the list of drills.  He also specifically told me I could modify anything I needed to, but I actually felt okay, so I didn’t.
200 reverse IM
200 IM kick
200 inverse IM
6 x 50 (closed fist)
4 x 25 (underwater)
Snake drill
200 easy
For the snake drill, we swam 25 yards to one end of the pool, hopped out and did a drill, then hopped back in and swam back to the first side of the pool.  We snaked through all four lanes (hence the name) and rotated through eight dry land drills including crunches, push-ups, triceps dips and lunges.

Saturday: Bike—2:21:14 (32.73 miles)
I explored some new ground on the bike on Saturday.  I had been wanting to climb Millcreek Canyon for a long time, but Rob’s description of a section with a 20% grade stopped me.  However, Rob assured me it was easier than Little Cottonwood Canyon which I struggled up last year, and since my Ironman is done and I don’t need to worry about speed or distance anymore, I decided to give it a go.  I left mid-morning and arrived at the mouth of the canyon after about thirty minutes.  Once I started to get up into the trees, it was beautiful.  Rob promised me it would be sylvan, and I wasn’t disappointed.  There was surprisingly little vehicle traffic, and most of the canyon wasn’t too overwhelming.  A few miles from the top of the canyon, I hit the portion of the road that is closed during the winter.  The road narrowed immediately, and the grade became much more difficult.  I would be almost in my granny-gear and standing up to make it up a section, then the grade would flatten out a bit.  This went on for a while until I saw the 20% grade wall that Rob had mentioned.  There was a slight descent approaching it, so I went in with some speed and was able to power up it without too much trouble.  I reached the top and stopped for a rest and snack (Honey Stinger waffle).  Then it was back down.  The descent was a little terrifying, but I played it safe and went slow when I needed to.  I was pretty crushed at the end of the ride, but I was glad I was able to cross this canyon off my list.

millcreek

Sunday: Bike—1:00:31 (15.35 miles)
I didn’t have anything in particular planned on Sunday. I woke up and had a relaxing morning with the knowledge that if I felt like doing something later, I could. After I got back from church, Rob asked if I wanted to go for a bike ride.  Never one to turn down an easy spin, I agreed and we headed out.  It was a little warm, but we had a nice, relaxing ride that worked out a lot of the residual stiffness from my speed work a few days earlier.

Ironman recovery (and some future plans)

Recovering from an Ironman is a strange beast.  It’s been two weeks, and I’m making progress in recovery, but I’m not there yet.

I wasn’t sure what to expect the morning after the Ironman.  After my marathon, I had been so sore I could barely move, despite not running anywhere near my potential.  So I was pleasantly surprised when the soreness was entirely manageable.  Really, I wasn’t much sorer than I was after racing a half marathon (although the soreness did extend to my shoulders and back and wasn’t just concentrated in my legs).  I took a few days off anyway, both because I felt like it and because logistics and travel would have made fitting in a workout hard.

But the Wednesday night after my Ironman, my stiffness was almost completely gone, and I felt ready to test out my body in a workout.  So I went to Masters swim the next morning.  I took the workout very easy.

And I was wrecked for the rest of the day.

I expected my fatigue to stick around longer than my muscle soreness, but I’ll admit that I was taken aback by how exhausted I was after what basically amounted to a 50 minute easy swim.  That’s when I realized that Ironman recovery was going to be quite a bit different from any of my previous experiences recovering from athletic events.

Since then, I’ve tried to relax a bit.  I’ve tried not to jump back into all the things in my daily life.  It’s okay if I don’t get much accomplished with all my free time right away.  I might need a rest day after a hard workout at Masters swim practice.  I don’t need to go climb all the canyons in Salt Lake City right now just because I have the time.  Daily life (with some easy workouts) has been wiping me out.  Every day feels a little bit like that first day you are “better” after an illness.  You are functional, yes, but you are also exhausted after getting home from work.

Still, I’m antsy.  I was certain that my mind would need more of a break than my body.  I thought that I would struggle to find motivation for something new after a year of hard and focused training.  Instead, I’m finding the opposite to be true.  I’m excited about so many things… too many.  I’ll have to make decisions soon about what I want to focus on.

Become a swimmer. I’m strongly considering focusing on swimming this winter.  I’m planning on doing a swim meet in September, and I’d like to do several more.  I’ve made some serious gains in swimming this past year.  But I think there is still some low-hanging fruit for me if I start swimming 4-5 times a week instead of 2-3 times a week.  Plus, I get the feeling that I actually have some talent as a swimmer, and I think it would be beneficial to explore that potential.  I’ve actually been focusing quite a bit on swimming since my Ironman.  So far, it’s been what I’m drawn to.

Learn how to ride fast. The bike is my biggest weakness in triathlon.  I can ride forever, and I’m a relatively strong climber, but I am simply not fast.  I know (essentially) what I need to do to improve my speed—intervals, threshold rides, sprints, anything besides the relatively easy riding that made up the majority of my Ironman training.  I don’t know the granular details about how to approach this goal which makes it intimidating and less exciting… it’s important, though.

Run a sub-20 5k. This is a scary goal that is exciting as it is scary.  I’m certain that I can run a sub-20 5k if I train well enough.  I’m just not sure if it would take more time and effort than I’m willing to put in.  I love triathlon, and I don’t want to put in 15 hours a week running for a goal like this.  My 5k PR is only 21:57, but then, I’ve only run the race twice as an adult.  I may do a bit of a “trial” to see if I think I can feasibly achieve this goal in a few months of focused training before I make my final decision about whether or not to pursue it.

Basically, I’m not sure exactly what the off-season has in store for me.  And I’m okay with that.  I plan on taking a little more time “off,” where I do what I want when I want and where the most important statistic I track is how many Halloween Oreos I can eat. After all, I’ve been training with laser focus for a pretty long time.  I need a break, whether I feel like I do or not.  As I continue to do what sounds fun, I’ll see what I get excited about.  I’ll keep attending Masters swim, go to some track workouts with the Salt Lake Tri Club, and do some interval work on the bike.  And I’ll see what sticks!

halloween-oreos
So. Many. Oreos.

 

Weekly Recap (8/29-9/04)

Monday: Swim—2500 yards
I felt infinitely better during Masters on Monday than I did the previous Thursday.  I actually pushed myself fairly hard and performed fairly close to how I would had I been fully recovered.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (fast kick, easy swim)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
10 x 100 @ 1:40
4 x 75 (kick, scull, swim)
25 easy
100 sprint (1:11)
75 easy
I was the only person in my lane, and I was given the choice of doing the 100s on 1:40 or on 1:45.  I waffled between the two options, unsure of what my not-yet-completely-recovered body was capable of.  In the end, I swam the first 100 as a test.  When I came in at 1:20 (ugh, too fast…), I decided to go on 1:40.  The rest of my 100s were fairly consistently, falling somewhere between 1:25 and 1:28.  I did the 100 sprint at the end from the blocks.  Considering my bad start (I was expecting three commands and forgot that swimming only has two), I was relatively pleased with my time.  I think that I could break 1:10 swimming fresh with a decent start.

Tuesday: Rest
I’m still recovering, and I definitely needed a rest day.  My muscles are pretty much back to normal, and my swim on Monday indicated I can bust out a solid workout.  However, I am consistently wiped out before even the end of the day.  It’s a strange feeling!

Wednesday: Swim—2000 yards
I’ve decided to stop avoiding swim practices where we focus on something other than freestyle.  We did the backstroke on Wednesday, so the whole workout was backstroke, unless noted otherwise.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull (front)
4 x 50 (10 kick barrel roll)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
3 x 50 (rock and roll drill)
3 x 50 (Eiffel tower catch-up)
3 x 50 (one arm each way)
3 x 50 (six beat kick)
100 easy (freestyle)
3 x 100
Backstroke is hard, and I’m am not good at it.  Still, it was a good workout and the focus on drills was very helpful.  I actually felt like I was improving a bit and getting more comfortable doing the stroke by the end of the workout.  I couldn’t believe how tired my neck got, though.  I did some Very Scientific Googling afterwards, and I think that’s normal when one is just beginning to practice backstroke.

Thursday: Run—30:00 (3.27 miles)
I was going to enjoy a nice, easy run in the neighborhoods around my office.  However, I planned to run in the morning, and when I went outside after dropping my things off at my cubicle, it started raining relatively heavily.  I don’t really mind running in the rain, but I didn’t want to get soaked and then spend the whole day in my freezing cold office building.  So I took it to the office gym and ran at an easy pace on the treadmill instead.  I thought about just taking the day off, but I didn’t.  I’m not entirely sure if that’s a good thing or not (is it in the spirit of recover?), but I was glad that I did it afterwards, so I think it was right decision.

Friday: Swim—1600 yards + starts
I was excited to practice starts all day on Thursday, so even though I didn’t sleep well, it wasn’t hard to get up and go to Masters.  We did a warmup and short workout before doing starts:
200 reverse IM
200 IM kick
200 inverse IM
6 x 50 (closed fist)
4 x 25 (underwater)
20 x 25 @ :25
75 easy
Starts
25 fast (from blocks)
I enjoyed practicing starts, and I’m getting much better at them.  I only lost my goggles once, and that was when I was focusing so hard on one aspect of the start that I failed to focus on entering the water in a streamline position.  My starts aren’t great, but they are sufficient for a beginner.

Saturday: Bike—1:28:59 (21.86 miles)
Rob and I climbed Emigration Canyon together.  I took it fairly easy during most of the climb but I really laid on the gas the last couple of miles.  It was nice to get some hard work in while overall enjoying an easy ride.  Not much to say about this ride, other than that fall was in the air!

Emigration
An old photo of Emigration because I was too #lazy to take a new one.

Sunday: Rest Swim—1600 yards
I planned on going for a ride before church in the morning.  However, I didn’t sleep well, and I woke up feeling tired and not all that excited to ride.  However, I had planned it, so I felt some internal pressure to do it.  I realized that was completely not in the spirit of “taking things day by day” and “mental and physical recovery,” so I made the decision to skip the ride.  And later, I made the decision to skip church as well.  And despite some residual guilt over the day, I’m glad I did.  So far, I’ve been getting some housework done and watching Rob play video games.  Good decision.

EDIT: Scratch that.  Later in the day, I started getting bored and decided to head to the pool for a short swim.  Most of the swim was my warm-up (fairly easy), but I did some fast 100s too.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (3/4 catchup)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
5 x 100 @ 1:35
100 easy
I eventually want to be able to do ten 100s on the 1:35 interval, so this was a good test of how close I was to that. I could have probably done one (and maaaaaybe two) more repeats, but I couldn’t have done all ten. My times for these 100s ranged from 1:20 to 1:24.

100B5961

Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Report: Run (8/21/2016)

Pre-race
Swim
Bike

I consciously tried to start out slow on the run.  I had read far too many Ironman race reports where the athlete gets excited, goes out too fast on the run (feeling great!), and then crashes around mile 10.  I had practiced this pace off the bike, and I was going to go out slow.  The marathon course was three out-and-backs that were a little over 8.5 miles each.  The thought of three laps was overwhelming, so I remembered my dad’s advice from the day before—I didn’t have to run the second and third laps until I got there.  I tried to focus on nothing beyond keeping my pace around 10:00/mile.

The heat of the day didn’t bother me until I started the run.  On the bike, the wind plus the faster speed kept me plenty cool.  However, on the run, the 90° weather made a difference.  I was warm from the start and made the good decision to carry a water bottle from my transition bag with me throughout the first miles of the run so I could sip on it and douse myself with it when needed.  By the time I reached the first aid station, I was already soaked.  It was undoubtedly hot out, but I reminded myself that I had trained in the heat and was prepared for it.

100_5950

During the first lap, I just focused on eating regularly and keeping my body cool.  I ate some ProBar chews every twenty minutes or so and tried to drink water and a little cola or Gatorade from the aid stations.  During the first lap, I just focused on eating regularly and keeping my body cool.  I stuffed ice in my tri top and poured water on my head at every aid station.  The run course was populated by plenty of athletes, and the crowd support was amazing.  There were several groups of residents outside their homes offering to spray triathletes with their hoses.  My pace was consistently right around or even a little faster than 10:00/mile.  I felt surprisingly strong and did my best to find other athletes to run and chat with.  No one “stuck,” but I did get to meet a few people, most of whom mentioned how brutal the bike course was.  I was a little surprised as this theme emerged, and I started to realize how bad the wind had been.  I had dealt with it so well (for me) that I hadn’t realized how many athletes it had broken out there.

As I approached the end of my first lap, I ran by Rob and my parents, all cheering like maniacs.  I reported that I felt strong.  Athletes had the option of accessing their run special needs bag either after the first lap or after the second.  Because I wasn’t struggling, I opted to skip it on the first time around.  As I ran through one particular aid station early on in lap two, I suddenly heard someone cheering for me, completely all-out.  “GO KTP GO!!!”  I grinned and may have mustered a wave.  A former teammate from college was running an aid station and had spotted me running through.  It offered a surprisingly big mental boost.  As I approached the turn-around in the second lap, I started feeling the telltale signs of approaching stomach issues.  I felt bloated, like the things I had been eating were just sitting there fermenting in my gut.  I made the decision to cut back on my nutrition a bit to (hopefully) save myself from a time-consuming bathroom stop.

I hit the halfway point and felt okay, but running was getting harder and harder, and my pace was slowing a bit.  I had a hard time thinking about doing another 13.1 miles, so I just focused on getting back into town and finishing the second lap.  The wind had died down after blowing in the cooler weather (and bringing in some smoke to block the sun a bit).  I stopped dousing myself in water because it wasn’t necessary any more.

Finally, I approached town again for another dose of crowd support.  Rob and my parents cheered me on, as usual, but I was much less dapper this time around.  After my first lap, it hadn’t been tough emotionally to follow the sign to lap two instead of the sign to the finish.  However, turning for lap three instead of the finish was rough, especially since I heard the announcer call out an athlete’s finish just as I was approaching the turn-off.

100_5951

I approached the special needs bags again, but I decided not to stop.  First of all, I had all the food I needed out on the course.  I was still workout through my Probar chews, and they had Cliff Bar shot blocks (chews) out on the course if I needed them.  Secondly, I was a little worried that if I stopped, I wouldn’t be able to get started again.

Heading out of town was tough, and I was close to descending into a dark place.  The thought of eight more miles was almost impossible to imagine.  So I didn’t.  I thought about getting to that next mile marker.  I had been watching my time throughout the run and calculating just how slowly I could do the remaining miles while still hitting my sub-13 goal.  By the time I started my third lap, I had built up enough of a buffer that I could run 13 minute miles and still finish in under my goal time.  I knew that my current run pace would allow me to walk the aid stations and still hit that pace, but I was in a groove (a difficult one, but a groove nonetheless), and I was worried that if I stopped to walk, I wouldn’t be able to get going again.

100B5963

During the third lap, I was running through a field of walkers.  I was passed by a few runners (and passed a few of my own), but the vast majority of people on the course were walking.  Without many people to keep in my sights or pace off of, I felt a bit like I was running alone, despite the sea of people surrounding me.  I didn’t let myself think about a particular mile marker until I reached the one before it.  I knew that, as long as I kept running, I would likely stay under an 11:00/mile pace and would smash my goal time.  So, one mile at a time, I forced my body to keep running.  Any time negative thoughts started to creep in, I slammed the door in their faces and returned my focus to the feeling of my feet hitting the pavement.

Each mile felt like it took forever, but slowly… ever so slowly… the miles ticked by.

19, 20, 21, 22…

I tried to remember the first two laps when I’d see those third-lap mile markers and felt like I would never, ever reach the third lap where they would be applicable to me.  But there I was.

Just keep running.  Just keep running.

At this point in the race, I had retreated deep within myself.  I managed some smiles and nods when I heard someone cheering me on by name, and I think I was still thanking the volunteers that handed me water and orange slices (blessed orange slices!) at the aid stations.  But I wasn’t thinking anything besides, “Keep running” and “How long until the next mile marker?”  The finish line was so close, but I didn’t let myself think about it yet.  I had to think about where I was and not where I was going.

It wasn’t until I hit the 25 mile marker that I knew I had it.  Just a little more pain, and I would be an Ironman.

I ran through the park where my family had been throughout the entire marathon.  They weren’t there, and I knew they were at the finish line waiting for me.

I approached the turn-off, where you go right for laps 2 and 3 and left for the finish.  I moved over to the left of the path, and everyone in the area started cheering.

I got a big, goofy grin on my face as I followed the signs to the finishing stretch, people cheering me by name the whole way.

100B5982

As I made the turn and saw the finish line ahead of me, I looked over and saw Rob cheering.  I ran over and grabbed his hand for a moment before running towards the finish line.  On the way, I gave countless high fives to spectators and two more special high fives to my mom and to my dad.  Running felt effortless, and every ounce of pain I had accumulated over the past 140 miles had evaporated.

When I crossed the finish line, I heard the announcer shout, “Katie Pridgen from Murray, UT…”  I didn’t even need to hear the “You are an Ironman!” part.  Grinning from ear to ear, I ran into the middle of a group of volunteers.  They took my timing chip and gave me a medal and a finisher’s t-shirt in return.  A good trade!

2 (1)

Run—4:25:28

Total time—12:33:13

Rob and my parents were waiting for me outside the finisher’s chute, and the first thing I did when I joined them was sit down on the grass and take my shoes off.  For the first glorious time in over ten hours, I was able to take my shoes off and keep them off.

20160821_185144

For the first fifteen minutes or so, I felt great.  I couldn’t stop smiling and chatting with my support crew who had spent their entire weekend doting on me.  I was still wearing the rubber bracelet that was meant to be given to a volunteer, so I gave it to my dad.  During my entire training cycle, he was there to chat with and bounce ideas off of.  He’s been a huge support of my athletic pursuits from the time I was a kid, so I felt it was only appropriate to give the bracelet to him.  I couldn’t believe how wonderful I felt, and I actually started to wonder if I had, somehow, not gone hard enough out on the course.

Soon, though, I started to get cold.  I was still wet from pouring water on myself during the first half of the run, but now it was cooler and I was no longer exerting myself.  I went to the medical tent and grabbed a space blanket.  I laid down on the grass and was just starting to fall asleep (I’m sure I would have been right as rain after a 10-15 minute power nap) when a medical volunteer came over and told me I should go to the medical tent.

Thus began my medical tent adventure.

They had me lie down on a relatively uncomfortable lawn chair.  They didn’t take my pulse or blood pressure or do any examinations other than periodically waking me up when I was just about to fall asleep.  Eventually, I had had enough, so I left and promptly almost passed out.  This was the only portion of the event where I didn’t feel completely taken care of by the volunteers.  When I almost passed out, they led me back into the tent where I sat there doing nothing again.

I needed to be replenished, but remember those stomach issues that I held off during the race?  They came to fruition, and after one near-emergency bathroom visit, I knew that if I ate anything, I’d have to rush to the bathroom again.  And since I couldn’t get up without passing out, that wasn’t going to happen.  About an hour and a half later, my dad had convinced a volunteer to let him drive through the barricades into the parking lot where the medical tent was located so that I could, with some support, make it back to the car.

I would have loved to stay for the midnight finishers, but I just wasn’t physically up for it.  At least if I had any doubts that I had pushed myself to the limit, they were dispelled with my post-race struggles.  Somehow, even feeling terrible and ending up being held hostage by medical volunteers didn’t diminish the Ironman experience.  I still grinned the whole way back to the home where we were staying.  I ended up feeling a little better after relaxing a bit, showering, and finally getting some food in me and was able to join my support crew in a little birthday celebration for my mom (who, by the way, spent her entire birthday in the hot sun, cheering on her lunatic daughter!).

As for the Ironman afterglow?  It finally started to wear off after a few days (and I finally stopped wearing my medal whenever I wasn’t in public).  But it still hits me now and again.  I’m an Ironman!  I’m incredibly proud at how well I executed my first (and only) Ironman.  I meted out my effort almost perfectly.  I beat my goal time by almost thirty minutes.  I had a strong mental attitude the entire time and, looking at the pictures, I had a smile for a large portion of the race as well.

Really, it doesn’t get much better than that.

20160823_083814

100_5870

Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Report: Bike (8/21/2016)

Pre-race
Swim
Run

The Coeur d’Alene bike course is composed two loops that each consist of two different out-and-backs.  Essentially, it’s a giant L that you ride twice.  The short arm is relatively flat, and the long arm is quite hilly.  I was thrilled to be on the bike.  My adrenaline was pumping a bit again, and the crowd support boosted my spirits even more.  I tried dial in on an easy pace as best as I could under the circumstances.

The first short out-and-back, I was passed a lot.  I wasn’t surprised.  As a decent swimmer who is limited on the bike, it’s quite common for slower swimmers to zoom by me during the first part of the bike.  I just kept reminding myself to ride my race.  There was one noticeable hill on the way out to the first turnaround, and as we were climbing up it, a woman rode by me and said, “I thought this part of the bike was supposed to be flat!”

I thought to myself, “Oh man… you’ve got some fun coming up later in the course!”

Before I knew it, I was riding back into town for the first time.  I saw Rob and my parents and gave them an excited wave and a giant smile.  I also passed the first aid station.  I had to use the bathroom more than I had during transition, but I got caught up in the excitement and thought, “Oh, I can go a little further!”  And then I made the turn to head south, towards those hills that had terrified me on the drive in.

100B5860

As we crossed a causeway over the river that feeds Lake Coeur d’Alene, I realized that I really had to pee.  Why didn’t I just go in transition?! Now I have to wait until the next aid station! I looked up and saw a guy in the distance stand up on his bike on the slight descent out of town.  And then I saw a trail of droplets hit the ground behind him.  He was peeing on his bike!  I bet I could do that. I had never tried to pee on my bike before, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  I stood up, tried to relax, and successfully emptied my bladder.  I was both extraordinarily proud of myself and painfully aware that my left shoe was now filled with urine.  It was gross, but I reminded myself that this early in the race, it was likely almost all water anyway.

A few minutes later, I approached the first hill that winds through the forests surrounding the lake.  (Did I mention that this entire course was absolutely beautiful?)  I shifted down as appropriate based on the grade and just kept riding.  Much to my surprise, I was actually underwhelmed.  This grade really wasn’t any harder than climbing Emigration Canyon.  In fact, I felt great.  Before I knew it, I was at the top of that first major climb.

My mantra for the bike leg was supposed to be “You’ve done longer, you’ve done harder,” but instead, a different phrase kept playing on a loop in my head—easy peasy lemon breezy.  (Post-race Googling has informed me that the proper phrase is actually “easy peasy lemon squeezy.”)  The second major climb was not so extreme, and it had some short descents, but it was longer.  I found myself passing a lot of people on the steeper grades.  Whenever I passed a group of people or finished an uphill section, I would grin and mutter, “Easy peasy lemon breezy” to myself. (I would make sure to wait until nearby cyclists wouldn’t be able to hear me, though! The last thing I wanted to do was discourage other competitor’s with the positive thinking that was helping me.)

I worried some that I was riding this first loop too hard.  After all, I was passing quite a few people on these climbs, and I’m not used to passing people on the bike.  However, my rate of perceived exertion really was low, so I trusted my training and kept at it.  I just focused on eating my waffles every thirty minutes, drinking to thirst, and riding at a comfortable level.  It wasn’t long before I hit the turn-around point.  I roughly calculated my average speed at this point and was shocked at how fast I was riding.  Maybe I am overbiking after all, I worried.  But now it was time to bomb down a few descents and ride back into town.

I stopped at one aid station on the way back for a quick bathroom break (peeing on the bike again didn’t seem worth it), but even with that, I averaged over 18mph on the way back.  It was nice to give my legs a little chance to relax and recover after the long climb.  I hit 56 miles right as I got back into town, and was again shocked at how fast I was going.  I saw my parents and Rob again, and my dad yelled out, “Ride smart!” to encourage me (and remind me!).  I gave them another big wave and grin to let them know I was feeling okay.

I eased up my speed a bit on that short out-and-back the second time.  My shocking (to me) speed had me worried that I had overbiked.  A few miles later, I was rolling up to special needs.  I took my time, eating about half a piece of pizza and drinking about a third of the (still cold!) Mountain Dew I had waiting for me.  After refilling my Honey Stinger waffles with the ones I had left in my special needs bag, I took a quick bathroom break.  I had to wait in line for a minute or so, much to my annoyance, but overall, I lost less than five minutes at the stop.  A few miles later as I riding back through town for the final time before the bike leg was over, my dad again reminded me to ride smart.

BikePap

As I turned south onto the twenty mile stretch of Highway 95, I noticed a headwind.  Just like I had expected, the drop in temperature forecast for Monday was being blown in by a strong wind.  I felt my stomach sink a little.  I really, really hate the wind.  But it was there, and I tried to remind myself to be thankful it had been still during the swim and first lap of the bike.  For the first major climb and descent, the wind wasn’t too debilitating.  At this point, the road was still surrounded by trees on both sides and made several turns which allowed all those trees to block the headwind.

And then I emerged from the trees into a more open field.

There was no hiding from the wind now.

I’ve ridden in some windy weather here in Salt Lake City, and this wind was as bad as any I’d ever seen.  And on top of the wind, I was climbing.  I slowed to a crawl, but I could see around me that others were slowing too.  Even the descents and flats during before the turnaround were slow.  There is nothing worse in cycling than cresting a hill and then descending at under 16mph because the wind is just so strong.  I resolved that I was going to remain mentally strong.  I’ve been broken by the wind before, but I wasn’t going to let that happen on race day when attitude is so important.

So I kept climbing.  And, like the first lap, I kept repeating, “Easy peasy lemon breezy” in my head as I rode, although this time, I was reminding myself that I could do it instead of describing what it actually felt like.  Even on this lap, I was still passing far more people than I was being passed by on the climbs, and, if I’m being honest, that helped my morale more than actively keeping a positive attitude.

I never truly descended into a dark place during this 20 mile portion of the bike, but there were some rough moments.  There was more than one time where I looked down at my Garmin, saw how much longer I had to go until the turn-around and how slowly I was going, and thought, “I’m never going to make it there.”  But I just kept riding, ticking down the miles until I finally saw the turnaround in the distance.

Turning around granted me new life.  The wind was no longer screaming in my ears, and I was now descending with a tailwind.  The ride back to town was fast, and I was holding on for dear life.  For most of the descents, I was riding around 35mph.  It wasn’t quite fast enough that I was completely terrified, but I was never completely comfortable either, especially when I’d get hit with a bit of a cross-wind.  Because of the speed, I was hyperfocused which made the already fast ride feel even faster.  I felt like I blinked and was back in town.

Before I knew it, I was handing my bike off to a volunteer and running into T2.

100B5880

Bike

Bike—6:41:21

The minute I started walking through transition, I realized my feet were killing me.  In my training long rides, I had gotten off my bike several times to fill up water, buy additional nutrition, etc.  During the race, I only got off my bike twice—to go to the bathroom around mile 45 and at special needs around mile 63.  I figured that the pain was just the blood starting to flow to my feet again.  I took off my shoes and started jogging.  Ten or twenty painful steps later, my feet were feeling fine.

100B5890

100B5920

The run through transition was long.  I picked up my run gear back, took a bathroom break, and then ran into the changing tent.  I took some time in there instead of rushing.  I knew I was in a good place in regards to my goal time, so I ate a little pizza and drank a little Mountain Dew while pinning on my race number and collecting myself after the bike.  I left the changing tent feeling as ready as I could be for the marathon that awaited me.

T2—7:38