Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vineman 140.6

My day stared at 4:30 am with a cup o joe and a pb n banana on a cinnamon raisin bagel. I set three alarms to be sure I woke up. How much would it suck if I overslept!! I slept surprising well and was feeling ready as I shoved a bagel in a groggy me. The air temp was cool, in the low 50's. I arrived at the race site 30 min before T1 opened and it was already hopping with athletes. Having flown here I did not have a bike pump, so thank you to the nice dude who not only let me borrow his pump, but discussed the road conditions with me and actually pumped my tires at my decided pressure.

As I stood inline with my ipod listening to all my pump-me-up music I was shaking in my shoes. I was worried that I would bonk, forget how to swim, have a panic attack, a mechanical on the bike, not be able to run, or have some crazy GI issue. After organizing in T1 and doing a quick run warm up I felt calmer. I went through my race plan in my head and thought of all of you. There was nervous chatter as we donned our wetsuits. I had time for a quick warm-up in the water before it was my time to go! One more time I grabbed my necklace and touched my earring for good luck.

The swim start an in water, two 1.2 mile loops. I decided to start mid-pack this time; my one and only mistake of the day. After doing some good strokes; I got pulled, kicked and swam over. I had a brief panic moment, but worked my way to the right and resumed my swim. The water was cool, but comfortable, murky and shallow. There were times when taller swimmers were walking. WALKING! The turn around point came faster than expected! I kept up my slow and steady pace all the way to the finish. I did not once feel tired! I excited the water more confident that I would finish. To my surprise there were wetsuit strippers! SWEET The day is off to a good start. We were instructed to place all of our T1 belonging in a bag. Knowing that I would be cold at the finish I also packed warm clothes. My T1 was the longest I have ever had, largely because I had to organize and pack a bag! And I had to put arm warmers.

Finally I leave T1, choosing to jog up the short steep hill because it is crowed with cyclist. No need to end the day 'cause of a crash. I hop on speedy, chug some water and a bit of power bar. I chopped bars into thirds for easy consumption. Down into my aero's I go. Riders were passing me and I had to remind myself that I had 112 miles to ride and that it would be smart not to kill my legs just yet! I found a good rhythm and cruised thru the first half. The course had some good climbs and one killer hill! I also had some fantastic descents and flats. The hardest part of the day between mile 60 and 70. It was a flat section, with few cyclist and no spectators. I started checking off miles in my head and thinking about the food I would eat the next day. At this point I knew that I would almost-definitely-maybe-probably finish. I was making good time, having zero cramping, weirdly energized, and mentally strong. If need be I could walk and still finish! Finally I get back to the rollers. Change of terrain keeps me distracted and mentally alert. At my second pee stop of the ride I ate a 1/4 of a PBnJ; quite possibly the best PBnJ I have ever eaten. Refreshed I was off and finished the ride strong. My legs were screaming a bit at the end and I definitely had a slower second loop, but I finished with a decent bike time! I cruised into T2, put on more sunscreen, changed my socks; into my Newtons and I was off!

The run was an out and back loop that was done 3 times. This meant that there were runners around you at all times! There were also huge clumps of spectators and so many great volunteers. It also meant that there were aid stations at every mile! I expected my legs to scream at me for the first few miles based on how my quads were feeling the last hill of the ride, but they felt great. I helped myself back, staying around a 9 min mile. I immediately got into my normal running rhythm and I felt fantastic for the first 18 miles of the run. I had a Clif Shot/water at every other mile and gatorade/water at the alternate mile up until mile 10. Then I switched to coke/water/pretzels. I walked thru every other aid station, following my game plan. I found many people to chat with along the way making the time go by so fast. One mile into the third loop my lower legs started aching more and more with each step. I started getting intermittent twinges in my R medial calf, then my ankles. I got a cramp in my L oblique, then my R. Each time a pain came up I stood taller, breathed deeper, and thought about the finish line and all of my friends and family. At one point I listed the names of all of my friends and family. I focused on getting to the next mile marker. The weather was amazing and I was less than a 10k from becoming an iron(wo)man. There were frequent adrenaline surges.

The last 3 miles were the longest 3 miles of my life! I did not stop once to walk. My pace had slowed, but I keep pushing. I dug deep. When I made that right, less than a 1/2 mile to the end, I got shivers up and down my body and a bit teary. Everyone was walking in front of me. A spectator shouted "858 your passing everyone!". I pumped my first and sped up. The last turn before entering the finish shoot was in view. I made that turn and the street was still lined with spectators. We were given bracelets so race folks could keep track of us, so everyone knew it was the end for me. People started cheering congratulations, you are an ironman, you look so strong, high fiving me; and I kept standing taller, smiling harder, and running faster. That final 300 yards was amazing. I was the only one in the shoot. The announcer said my name. I lifted my hands above my head and let the energy of the crowd flow into me and took mental snap shots of that moment. That medal was placed around my neck, my picture, was taken, and my finisher tee given to me. I stumbled around looking for some grass to collapse on. In a state of disbelief I chatted with finishers, ate and drank.

To all of the volunteers, spectators, and race officials: you produced a fantastic race. I could not have asked for a better venue, course, or folks on and off the course. To everyone who had great signs out there for your friends and family. To that cute girl who said she loved my hair and that I really rock it. To all the spectators who said I looked strong. To the my friend from Toronto who chatted and raced with me on the bike and the run, to my buddy from San Jose who carried me through the second lap, to the man wearing a speedo (what?!!?). I want to thank you for a frickin' amazing day and boosting me at just the right time.

I entered this journey unsure if I would get to the start line, let alone the finish line. I stuck to my training plan like it was a bible and to my race plan. I stayed hydrated and fueled. I felt surprisingly good through 90% of the race. I experienced cramping twice. I was mentally alert. I experienced highs and lows on the ride and run, but without a doubt highs>low. Vineman 140.6 was the best athletic experience of my life, and in the top 5 for sure of general experiences. The course was tough, but fun. The day went by so very fast. I tried to take in the scenery while still riding fast. I My emotions are still swirling and its difficult to describe how I felt crossing the finish line and completing a 140.6 mile race. The best word I can come up with is: unreal. And with that I will leave you.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


As I sat in Logan airport on Wednesday evening my heart started racing both in excitement and anxiety. I have dreamed of this trip for months...even years really. Finally I am in a place financially, emotionally, and physically where it can be realized. The plane ride was long, but transitions (HA!) seamless. SFO is amazingly easy to navigate. With my GPS and Toyota Corolla and all my gear I headed north to Guerneville at 1:15 am; having only slept a few hours since 8 am Boston time. I was riding on nothin' but adrenaline. The ride went fast and I crashed as soon as my head hit the pillow. I love everything about this part of CA thus far. People are nice, friendly, helpful. It's gorgeous. I can see myself living here in the not too distant future.

For the first time in my life people are identifying me as an athlete and a triathlete. It is certainly a big ego boost to know that all my hard work is actually showing on my little body. There may always be a tiny voice that remembers being called "fat" for so many years. Take that boys! There are times that I walk by a mirror and do not recognize myself.

As the day wore on yesterday I got a bit more nervous. After seeing the swim venue I became slightly less anxious about that aspect. The river is calm
and super shallow. I did see a giant snake yesterday, however. I suppose all the athletes will scare all wildlife away that day! The question remains how I will feel towards the end. Will I have a PR marathon? Will my body fall apart after 6 hours. People keep telling me to believe in my training. I do. I believe in the workouts that Megan gave me (damn lunges). I believe that I have prepared myself to go 140.6 miles tomorrow. I believe that I have trained my mind to keep going when my legs tell it to stop. But doubt remains and I suppose it will until I finish or at least I until I start the race!

Today was registration and expo day! So many athletes, so many fit people. So many expensive bikes and shoes!! I did 20 min of each sport with some pickup. It felt great to workout today. I met some cool folks at the expo and made a few new friends. Turns out most of us are pretty nervous. There are a lot of newbie iron-people at the race.

During the info video my stomach flipped and I cried a little. I felt anxious for the next few hours. But after some texting with friends and a good ride (and a samich) I felt good. Excited and nervous, but more calm. I am here because I LOVE triathlon and I LOVE challenging myself. I LOVE adventure. Part of the thrill of doing it is that it IS hard and there is question of success. Tomorrow will be a workout, be it a long one, with 1000 of my friends in beautiful Sonoma. One stroke at a time, one breath at time, one pedal stroke at a time, one step at a time. One mile at a time. Here goes nuthin'...............

GEAR: TYR carbon 6" tri shorts, vomax TE tri top, garmin forerunner 305
2XU sleeveless wetsuit, TYR googles
TREK Speed Concept 7.0, Bontrager wheels, SRAM, SIDI T2
Newton Distance with green yanx
Powerbar, Clif Shots, Hammer Endurolytes, Gatorade Pro

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Three days and counting!

Today vacation officially started after a not so grueling day at the clinic. I am feeling rested and ready to go! I am more than excited to get to CA and surround myself with triathlon energy and like minded folks.

I am feeling a bit sad that I will not be surround by my friends and family during the race. But it has become abundantly clear in the last week that I will have SO many people cheering me from New England. Case in point: A patient who was a triathlete in the late 70's and 80's and who has been following my training for a long time gave me a hug today and said "Kristi, you are already an ironwoman. Go get em out there kid (he calls everyone kid). Good luck.". I got a little teary eyed, I will not lie

Because I won't have the physical presence of folks in CA I will, instead, carry with me a: diamond earring of my sister's, a Pandora charm of my mother's and an Aquarius symbol from my Grammy Davis around my neck, and a bit of Puerto Rico sand in my shirt pocket. As well as a Red Sox hat in my bag from poppa Paradis. I have collected numerous signatures from friends and family on a piece of fabric that will be worn on my race belt during the ride/run. Should I need inspiration I will grasp any or all of these objects. You are all in my head in and in my heart. It is because of all of you that I am able to train and compete. You have trained, sweated, and shivered with me. And for that friends and family I thank you. I will take all of those moments with me. Lastly, I know that I will also draw from my fellow competitors and spectators!!

9 months ago I signed up for Vineman 2011. I have logged hours and hours on a trainer, run through a crazy winter, swam countless laps, learned the butterfly (WHAT!?), learned to swim more efficiently and a tad faster, awoke at 4 am for workouts, worked out through lunch, and after 10 hour work days. My friends have seen me, at times only when there was food involved. I have eaten who knows how many bars, banana's, oatmeal, PB n J samiches, and burritos. Miles logged. Brain trained. Ready or not here I come Vineman. I will return from CA a different person no matter what happens there. Next update: Guerneville, CA!

Friday, July 22, 2011

7 days!

In just 7 days I will be (with any hope) sound asleep dreaming of SWIM BIKE RUN IRON(wo)MAN!

Feeling awesome after week of good workouts. Its been hotter than a biscuit, as my mother is so fond of sayinng, in good ole Boston. I've managed to get some good rides in on my road bike. Today I sucked it up and did an indoor workout: 105 on spin bike and 30 on treadmill. It was 106 degrees and humid, so I think I made the right decision.

I picked up my pair of Newton distance shoes today. They are basically the same shoe I've been running in but lighter and with slightly less support. No worries on the support as I have orthotics! I ran in them today and they felt great! And they're yellow, orange, and green. Awesome!

It amazes me how calm I am feeling. I feel confident that I can do that swim in the Russian River. I will be so excited to be done with the swim. Its the thing I am most worried about, but also confident that I can do it. Then its just a fun 112 mile ride on my little speedy in Sonoma Valley with 900 friends! O and then there's a marathon. pshaw I can do that. hee hee Maybe the heat is getting to me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

T minus two weeks.

The past week has been a flurry of emotions. I started the week off on a high from my fantastic half iron + race simulation (thanx Becky H and Mona M. for the company) and my great time in Sandwich with friends (thanx Cindy, Rachel, Kevin, and Caitlin!). Tuesday Boston was hit with the dreaded triple threat to athletes: Hazy, Hot, and Humid. Being the iron(wo)man to be that I am I did my brick workout as prescribed but dialed back on intensity. I managed a good bike ride and time, but experienced what I think was heat exhaustion on the run. After stopping at an intersection I felt dizzy and was forced to hold on to a wall! After a brief rest I ran home, mostly downhill at this point. I actually felt pretty good for those last few miles, especially after dosing my head in a water fountain!

It took me nearly two days to recover! I felt that I had to do the workout to get the feeling of w/o in that combination come race day. I know that I will hydrate and fuel better and not have worked an 8 hour day. I also will NOT have had so many cups of coffee. I struggled through my workouts mentally or physically on Thur and Friday. We had a tough week at work and my head was just not in the tri game towards the end of week. It helped that the weather was PHENOMENAL those days. I was at the very least happy to be outside. I just could not get that umph and push from my riding and running. However, after a good nights sleep on Sat I had a great morning pool swim and a great afternoon warm brick. My legs felt springy and alive, my mind alert, and my emotions tapped into Vineman. I've never felt better on a 75 min (woo!) run post 37 mile ride. Today I swam 75 min in Walden Pond. I stopped briefly (15-90 sec)4 times. My stroke and pull were on. I was streamlined and sighting nearly perfectly. My kick was even good! I felt like a real swimmer! I think I swam between 1.8 and 2 miles. WOOT. I ended feeling like I could do the remainder of an ironman. Good thing: CAUSE THE RACE IS IN 13 DAYS!!

The taper has begun, but my workouts are pretty short for the remainder of the time. I do some intensity stuff that final week but for short intervals. The miles, intensity, yards, and hours have been logged. The mental work done, well almost...that will continue until the end. The hardwork is done. Its time to have fun and enjoy the last few weeks and then finally race day.

I dropped off Speedy at Landry's Bike for shipping after that stellar workout. I am a bit nervous about THAT whole process. I will be happy when Speedy is in my presence again. I will have to do the remainder of my w/o on my road bike or a spin bike.

It's official people, I am going to Cali! I am feeling more ready that I have for Vineman. I am sure that I will have more doubts as the day approaches. But I will remember this moment when those doubts arise. I can't wait to step off the plan in San Fran, to see my coach and friend Megan Lynch, to check into my little home away from home in Guerneville, to attend all the pre-race activities, for race day, and for all the post-race fun in CA. Bring it!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The month has arrived

July has arrived. 27 days until race day.

I have sufficiently recovered from Patriot half. It took me a good 7 days to truly recover. I felt 100% on the Monday and close to 90% on Sunday. This past week I felt great on most of my workout. Yesterday I did a 180/15 brick which turned into 195 minutes/15. I felt great-excellent the whole time!! My legs where alive and my brain engaged. Today's swim workout was not the best, but felt good on my run. This may have been that I had two beers last night.

I am reading Chris McCormicks "I'm here to win". In it he discusses creating folders in your brain to draw upon during your race, specifically IM. I have done this a bit throughout the last 9 months of training. In the last week I have intentionally placed good and bad moments in swim/bike/run folders. When I feel really good during a training session I file it. When I feel crappy, but manage finish my w/o I file the way I did that. I file songs. Songs to motivate me. Songs that coincide with a good running stride and with a good climbing pace. I file motivation: faces of my family and friends, Tootsie, pie, a cold beer, and the ability to swim/bike/run due to my health and life options.

I am visualizing more and more: the swim, exiting the swim, T1, the ride, mile 100 of the ride; T2; various segments of the run. AND the finish line. I am physically ready. I am 80-90% mentally ready. Some days I am 100% ready.

Tomorrow I enter my last four weeks of training. WOOT WOOT Bring it.