Saturday, September 17, 2016

Rev3 Cedar Point 70.3

It's a wrap!!! I've completed my eighth 70.3 ! It has been a long year of triathlon and health ups and downs. I had enormous hopes for my 2016 racing season. On paper things looked perfect. But stuff happened. Life happened. On the way to Ohio I sorta started writing this blog post in my head. I planned to outline the various ways that 2016 set me up to not have a good race. Excuses why I was unable to do the full and bumped down to the half. But then something clicked in me when we pulled up to the race site on Saturday morning. Something amazing, something that hasn't happened for several years. But...I'm jumping ahead.

Amy, Cort, and I piled in to my jam packed Toyota Yaris hatchback and left Ayer, MA around 11:30 on Friday morning. By the grace of all the gods and goddesses of road tripping we made it to the Comfort Inn in Sandusky, Ohio at 12:30 am on Saturday morning. And we were all still speaking to each other, laughing (mostly), and loved each other still. It was actually a beautiful road trip and fun.

There was a sprint and a kids race on Saturday morning so we arrived at Cedar Point Park around noon on that Saturday to register and drop off all my gear. Turns out that due to impending storms bikes and gear were not to be dropped off that day, but in the morning. I was a little grumpy and nervous when we drove over to the park, but as soon as we pulled up and I saw the roller coasters and Rev3 signs I got excited. Really excited! I had trained so hard all year long. Dealt with some silly illnesses and injuries, that were just big enough to put dents in my training. But I was there! I was there walking on two legs, with two arms, a good head on my strong shoulders, money in my pocket, a girl on my arms, and a good kid in tow. I am a lucky womyn and have been given the privelage of racing and training. Year after year.

My beautiful partner, Amy, and Cort always volunteer for my races. Even though I did't have to be at the race site until about 7 am, they needed to be there at 6. So a 5:20 wake up time it was for all of us. Thank you Starbucks for being open! I had more than enough time to set up my bike and transition area before the race. I was nervous, but more excited than anything else. The last three races I have been filled with more dread than excitement on race morning. I had forgotten what it felt like to love to race long distance triathlon.

The swim was switched from Lake Erie proper to the bay due to high winds. HOLY crap Lake Erie is HUGE! I've seen Lake Michigan once or twice, but not since I was a kid. I felt like I was looking at the ocean when I looked at this lake! WOWZA! This meant that there was an 800 m run from the swim to transition. The course looked pretty simple on paper and from shore. What I did not realize was that there was a right hand turn for an out and back. For the first time in my tri career I got wicked off course during a swim. And it was a bit foggy on the water due to warm water and cool air. My swim time was pretty slow, BUT I felt strong throughout and swam an extra yards. With the exception of swimming off course I sighted like a pro! I popped out of the water, got my sneakers on and jogged over.

It was a quick T1 onto the bike and off I went. It was a bit windy, but not terrible! When I first got on the bike I could feel water sloshing around in my stomach. The water was a bit choppy and I think I swallowed a ton of water. The first four or so miles was on this gorgeous road along the lake. One one side gorgeous homes and on the other side an span of beautiful water with only the sky on the horizon. Around mile fifteen I was averaging close to 19 mph!! This was not what I had been training at, at all. BUT I was feeling fantastic. I said fuck it and decided to see what I could do. The course was a mix of gorgeous farm land, cute communities, and lake coastline. It was nice flat terrain mixed with fast ups and downs. There were so many people along the course cheering us on. Due to the wind, I was unable to get down into my aeros as much as I would have liked so my back was a little achy by the end. BUT I averaged just over 18 mph! WOOT! And I was smiling most of the time. AND I chicked about 18 guys on the ride. Never under estimate a short girl with a lotta gusto! I hoped off my bike in T2, sneakers on, port o john visited and off I went.

As soon as I started to run I knew that I had pushed it a little to hard on the bike. But I was still having fun. And that is the most important thing. The run was a mostly flat course with two little blurbs at mile 2 and again at mile 11. We ran down the Cedar Point causeway, through cute neighborhoods and the center of Sandusky. One of my favorite moments was running past a cute bar on the corner right in the center. On the first loop I screamed out that I wanted a pint and the whole patio erupted with cheers. One the second loop there was a hilarious interaction between drinkers of beer and a guy wearing a Spiderman kit. It provided a distraction and smile that I needed!

It should have been a super fast course. I stayed in line with my plan: run with the exception of 20-30 steps at mile markers and drink every 10 minutes. I felt pretty good for the first 6-8 miles and then. Then the nausea took over. There were no pretzels on route and I did not have any. My muscles felt really good and I think had it not been for the swooshing in my belly I could have had a killer run. But Lake Erie was still slooshing around in my gut. Lesson: always keep something solid to eat on the bike and run, just in case I take in too much water on the swim.

I had the privilege of being on the Champions team this year, as well as last year. I was given the opportunity to race Cedar Point at no charge because of this. The team is comprised of folks from all over the country with varying degrees of speed and experience. Throughout the year I've seen the team virtually support each other. And seen the achievements of all. It's been a pleasure to be part of this team and I hope to be for years to come. I was also a member of Northeast Multisport this year. There was not a lot of group training sessions, but I did some great open water swims in and met some cool folks.

The REV3 staff and volunteers were amazing! Each volunteer station and road crossing were full of energy and kindness! The folks of Sandusky, Milan, and other surrounding towns sat on their porches and lawns to cheer on us crazy athletes. I could not ask for a better race experience. I'll be back at this venue and other REV3 races for sure.

Overall I am very pleased with my race. There have been points in the last year when I've "raced for others" to push myself past crappy races. I still find myself thinking that, but I am also racing for me. Not selfishly, but to make myself a better person. To be happy more. To be able to take the ups and downs of life better. To be a better partner, step mother, PTA, friend, daughter, and sister. To find myself again. I pushed myself beyond my limits and kept going. Even when I was bent over trying to vomit I was loving the day. I thought of everyone that I loved, everyone that has touched my life, all of my kids at work. I remembered why I do this sport. Why I get up at 4 o stupid in the morning to train. Why I kept going when it was fun. To eventually get to this point again. PLAY ON!

Monday, July 18, 2016

bumps in the road. just tiny bumps

I've sat down to write a post about my 2016 rode to Rev 3 Cedar Point full a hundred times, but couldn't find the mojo to write. There are a lot of new pieces to my training this season. I live a mere three miles from home. Things are good, really good. I love my job. I have a loving and supportive partner. I am happy. I am using Generation UCAN for my fuel and absolutely loving it! I chose Endurance Nation as my coaching company this year. And I left Team EnVision. TE was my rock in the world of triathlon for many years. They were integral in informing my first triathlon family. TE is one of the best, cohesive, supportive, and kick ass teams that exists. When I moved northwest of the city I was too far away for most of the events and sadly had to say goodbye. I've joint Northeast Multisport, though a good team, is not quite what TE is to me, but I'll give it some time. Overall I am happy with my choices and all of the change that has encompassed my training this year.

On the first week of training I threw out my SI joint (something that happens from time to time in my body). It took me about a week to recover. From week one until about a month ago things were going pretty good. My swimming and riding were coming along. A bit slower than is years past, but getting there. My running has been clicking this year. My gait and cadence are on target and I've been getting faster! I wasn't sure if I'd ever get fast again, but.....fingers crossed seems to be happening. Last week I ran a 9 min/mile off the bike and felt amazing. My longer rides have feeling easier and I am in fact getting stronger.

A month ago I was badly scratched (maybe bitten) by a friends cat. It happened so damn fast I don't know what happened. Except that it hurt. A LOT. That week following I missed some workouts (and work) or adjusted them because of the pain and inflammation in my right forearm. I recovered and actually had an amazing "BIG DAY" that following Saturday. In the last month things seem to have been clicking more. Faster. More endurance. Thinner. More muscle mass and definition. I have been gliding more during speed intervals. Been able to push harder. My heart rate zones are getting better.

And then....last Thursday my arm blew up again. It was never 100%, but I'd been able to do everything I had to do at work, home, and in training. Friday it got worse. Saturday I woke up sore and it was huge. I rode for two hours and decided that I needed to go to an urgent care center. You guessed it; the infection is back. It's worse this time. More edema and more tender to palpation in a localized spot. Activities are not as painful, however. I was warned by the MD not to be too active. No work, no swimming, no biking, no tree top adventure for three days. Or risk damage to tendons and muscle. SIGH. I've been smart over the past three days. I have mostly sat with my arm elevated, taking ibuprofen and antibiotics, and doing a warm compress. It's better, a lot better, but not nearly 100%. Tomorrow it's a run day again. I hope to bike and swim on Wednesday.

I need to be smart. I need the full function of my right arm for work AND play. As much as I want to toe the line and cross the finish line of Cedar Point full, I cannot be an idiot and risk my profession for a race. I am giving myself three weeks to get back on track. Worst case scenario I can likely bump down to the 70.3. I've never backed out of a big race, but I also need to be realistic and smart. I hope that I've built up enough and will bounce back quick enough enabling me to have a great race.

Here's to a kick ass next few weeks, rapid healing, and lots of grit.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

once upon a time there was a spaniel

14 years ago I ran my first marathon. My friend Shawn and I decided that we would run the Boston Marathon as bandits. I had just moved to Maine and just come out. I was 26. I met a girl while training. Shawn and I finished the marathon somehow. Seriously it may have been a small miracle, cause I am pretty sure we did not train properly! After finishing I call this girl and she told me that she had a surprise. My post race brain was thinking food! And a cold beer. Shawn and I drove home in post race daze fueled by diet coke and gas station food. To my surprise there was a floppy black and tan cocker spaniel puppy (and also a beer....). The girl didn't last but, I feel in love with Tootsie at once and the rest is history.

She and I went through a lot together. Girls, jobs, 9 apartments, one house, two Ironmans, various other races, hikes, walks, cries and laughs. Yes she was a dog, but she was my best dog friend. Through all of my ups and downs and turn arounds she was my one constant. The one thing that I could count on after a shitty day to make me smile. We had to make the painful decision to let her go last week. The feeling of total sadness and emptiness is gone. I have actually laughed a few times in the last few days. But I miss her so very much. It is amazing how much of my life (of my families life) was in twined in hers. Everything I do is different now. Everything. I keep thinking that she is going to come back. That somehow she has just been away for a bit and will return. Her little spaniel stub and butt wiggling out of control because she is so happy. The adorable look of guilt when she had done something wrong and had been caught. The way she knew exactly when someone needed extra love. My life will never be the same without Tootise. Someday we will get another dog, but s/he will never replace Tootsie. She was my litmus test for everyone that was a potential partner/lover/friend/roommate. She and I grew older and wiser together. I feel so fortunate to have had her in my life. In the end she and I found where we belong.

This is one of the reasons that I am thankful that I have triathlon. It is helping me to process the many emotions I have with her loss. Speaking of triathlon.......

I spent much of January being sick. Working in a pediatric facility for the first time has introduced me to A LOT of illness! I am finally feeling better and like myself. I worked out through the month, but much of it was modified due to not feeling well. I had built up a solid base from the fall and don't feel that I have lost too much going in training for Cedar Point. This week was a solid week of training! I will spend the next few weeks continuing with intervals for all three sports (in small durations) and lots of strength training. By March 1, I will likely be in good shape to start the first phase of official training. I am looking forward to the journey to the start and finish line that is before me.