07 December 2009

Seriously... AGAIN?!!

Not a true post, but a quick update/venting session.

I went to the dentist this morning because it felt like one of my veneers was coming loose (if you remember back, there was an issue with some bad bonding agent and I had to have most redone). Specifically, its the tooth to the right of my right front tooth, or the #7 lateral incisor. I noticed at the beginning of last week that it bothered me when I'd bite down. Upon further inspection, I found that I could wiggle the tooth back and forth a little bit more than normal. Well, I should say normal for me - my front 4 teeth haven't 100% stabilized from the accident last year, and they all have a bit of "wiggle room" (clearly a technical term). I'm thinking they might pop off the veneer and cement it back on again... no big deal. Surely it's just an issue with the veneer.


The tooth is dying off.

... Are you effing kidding me?!

So, Wednesday I'll have a root canal at 7 in the morning (good morning!) in an attempt to save the tooth from totally dying. If it dies, I'll have to have an implant done. This isn't a complete shock to me, as I was warned initially that at any point in my life the teeth I damaged can just die off without warning. It's a phenomenon that dentists don't truly understand - you can be fine for years after a traumatic incident to your teeth, and then suddenly the body kills the tooth off. I just didn't think this would actually happen.

Here's to hoping my teeth stay in my mouth.

23 November 2009

21 miles of freedom

Okay, I've REALLY been slacking on blogging. Whoops. I've been busy doing a whole lot of nothing stuff.

The past few weeks have been filled with traveling and catching up with friends I missed while I was on crutches. Two weeks ago I was released from having to use crutches. Words can't even describe my excitement. I asked the doc what the timelines looked like for my recovery. In short, the news was promising: I could return to cycling immediately, running in about 2-3 months. I'm allowed to be on an elliptical until my hearts content.

Naturally, being tired of staying indoors, I jumped at the chance to ride outside. The team had a few different rides going on, ranging from 18 miles for our newest of cyclists, to a quick 40 for those recovering from Ironman Florida. We met at Rileys Lock (near Potomac, MD) on Sunday for a beautiful fall ride. The weather was perfect - in the 50's and sunny. Cool enough to require a long sleeve jersey, but warm enough that the toes didn't freeze.

I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant getting out on the streets with the potential for heavy leaf coverage. Those of you who have been around for a while might recall my nasty run in with leaf cover approximately a year ago. I laughed as I donned my lightweight full-finger cycling gloves, still stained in blood from last year's crash (what, I washed them...). Lucky for me, the roads had recently been cleared and there was very little leaf coverage on the ride.

So how did I fare riding for the first time in two months? Overall, surprisingly well. My left leg was definitely doing more work and started to cramp a bit towards the end. My right ankle didn't hurt pedaling. The most notable issues were my ankle getting extremely cold from metal cooling due to the temperature, and the shock of every crack/bump in the road transferred directly from the road to my ankle. Ouch.

Time to spend the next few weeks building my leg muscles back up. I've invested in some Spinervals to help with my indoor training, as well as a better trainer (sadly, not a computrainer). Things are looking up.

Shortly I'll be writing a review on Vibram Five Fingers. I'm using this fashionable footwear to build up my feet again. So far, I'm really digging the feel of them. I never knew so many people looked at what shoes you wear though - the number of "are you wearing socks" and "are those really shoes?" I'm getting is remarkable.

Heading back to the 'Rowdy for Thanksgiving tomorrow night. (Whats the 'Rowdy you ask? Akron is also known as the AK Rowdy.. comes from a rap song about the city. Sadly, part of the lyrics include 'AK rowdy rowdy north side of summit county'... and as you can see, we're actually to the south side of the county... Never said our rising rap artists were educated). I'm absolutely EXCITED about eating Thanksgiving this year like a normal person, instead of through a syringe. Though, I must admit, sucking mashed potatoes through a syringe at the dinner table was a very classy maneuver.

09 November 2009

Spectating the hard way

Crutches are officially ranked as one of the hardest ways to spectate an Ironman.

That begins on a beach.

Trying to catch up on some sleep after an amazing weekend in Panama City cheering on my friends! A full update later.

30 October 2009

Into the fishbowl

For many, the idea of swimming laps brings about thoughts of dread and despair. Swimming back and forth is boring. Marginal yields of improvement over time. Never understanding why they don't have the speed in the water as others do. Never feeling the water. Only in the water to "survive" the swim in a race.

I'll never understand their mindset. And I can only hope that they can experience mine.

For me, there are very few things in life that top being in the pool. Often you'll hear a runner say the run to escape. I believe the pool is one of the ultimate escapes. Even in a crowded pool, it's difficult to be truly disturbed while swimming laps. No cell phone to worry about. There is nothing worth looking at on the bottom of the pool, so your attention doesnt wander. Sounds become nearly inaudible background noise as your eardrums become submersed and devoid of the outside world. To me, it's nice to have a small part of life that involves focused external stimulus of any kind. You're insulated in the pool, and have a completely clean slate allowing you to think quite clearly for the duration of the workout. There's no person on the treadmill chatting on his cell phone. No catching glimpses of the strange workouts people do in a gym. No SportsCenter blaring on the TV. No worries about changing to your next favorite song on your iPod. Its just you and you head, which is a rather rare and welcomed experience.

I've been cleared to swim, only with limited kicking. Sunday, I went back to the pool for the first time. It was just me and Sebastian in our lane.

I sat on the side of the pool, worried. What if I lost the feel for the water? How much muscle have I lost? What kind of toll has no cardio in 5 week taken on my abilities? What if my ankle hurts too bad to swim? My nerve endings jumped at the cool water on my skin as I slid in. Goggles adjusted and swim cap secure, I ducked under the surface and pushed off, awkwardly, with my left foot. I felt like a kid playing underwater again. Reaching the surface, I began the mechanical routine: catch it in the palm, pull back, rotate... you're gliding through the water. And then I struggled. Where are my feet? I can't roll.. my strokes off. whats happening to my form?

I'm dependant on my kick. Too dependant for a freestyler, and perfectly tuned for a backstroker. Explosive, tight kicks coming from the hips. Propelling the body forward as the arms assist. Feet pointed to make the lever as long as possible. It's what I know how to do. And suddenly, it's forced to be subsided. I struggled as I awkwardly tried to mimic those I've swam with that insist the legs need to be saved for the bike. Attempted a subdued two beat kick to facilitate roll. It just didn't feel right. The electric feeling of being in the water was slowing fading. Once back at the starting side, I grabbed my fingertip paddles and took another go. 25: Nothing. I couldn't catch the water right even with paddles. Somewhere between 25-50 meters in though, I felt it. Rocketing through the water, feeling the small twinges in the lats and triceps. I was back.

Last night I did a few threshold sets with the team. Feeling sheepish, I dropped down a lane because I didn't think I could keep up with my guys. I wasn't ready to commit to the testosterone driven sprints maintaining a paceline just yet. No paddles, no pull buoy, I grabbed onto the back of the lane beside me. I don't know where the speed came from, but I felt like I wasn't even completing pulls, yet I was running over these people. Convinced to go in the front for a 400 build, I pushed off the wall, again awkwardly with one leg.

A few small dolphin kicks later, I broke the water halfway down the pool and began the stroke. Smiling. It felt good... 3, sometimes 5 strokes before nonchalantly taking a breath. Still, dragging my feet in a paralyzed state behind my hips. 100 down, turn, pick it up. Alternating 1 to 3 stroke breathing. 200 down, turn, pick it up. Feel the arms burn, starting to kick a little. 300, down, turn, pick it up. Sprint. Slicing through the water, feet in a steady, tight 6 beat kick. turn, 50 left. make it hurt. It hurt. The rest of the lane was over a length behind me. I focused on increasing the speed of each passing rung on the ropes. Reaching the end of the set, my lungs were lit on fire from oxygen deprivation. It felt amazing. Submerged up to the neck while out of breath is an addiction. No need to lean against a wall or curl over onto the knees: The cool water lends its hand to support and keep the rest of the body relaxed, like a chilled omnipresent friend.

I've missed being in the fishbowl.

14 October 2009

Post-Surgery update

Considering I have been doing a whole lot of nothing for the past 3 weeks, you would think I would be more up to date with blogging. Sadly, I haven't had the energy to do much of anything (**including, if you've emailed me... I discovered a whole list of drafts in my gmail from where I apparently started to respond, and then ended up passed out from percocet. My apologies, and I'm catching up on those emails now!).

I had surgery on 9/28. I sent the following email out to my teammates to let them know how things went, in true race report fashion:

Woke up at 5:30 am Monday morning. Tossed on some clothes and mom drove me down to INOVA Fairfax. I hobbled in and received my wristband for the event and listened to the pre-race briefing. I signed off on some papers, took my pager (think restaurant pagers) and sat waiting to be taken back. Scoped out the competition - I was totally going to beat the little girl in a froggie onesie to the operating room. I'm a seasoned pro at surgery, afterall. To calm my nerves and pass some time, I brought along a book. My mom noted how pathetic I looked with my leg propped up on a crutch, wearing a race t-shirt (to be fair, thats about the only type of tshirt I own anymore) and reading "Once A Runner". My beeper finally went off, and I headed to transition to get ready. It's always nice passing Team Z faces with smiles and encouraging words. Kitty and Jeff were back in the pre-surgical room with patients of their own, but both stopped by to chat and see how I was. Some more body markings (doc signing the leg that was being operated on) and a few more pages later, I got the good stuff and was wheeled off for surgery. Had a great time of 2 hours in surgery, and woke up in the recovery room. After making some new friends there, and heading over to the second recovery room, I was ready to be done with the day. Came home and slept. Had some visits from some Z'ers, which are always nice.Tuesday was filled with by far the most excruciating pain I've ever been in... no amount of narcotics would help. I was warned it would hurt, but had no idea what I was in for.. so if you called or wrote yesterday, sorry for not getting back to you. Life is back to okay today

Okay, in all seriousness, the surgery went well - I think I have 2 plates in my ankle... I think they decided against the third but I cant remember what the doctors said to me as I came out of the anesthesia. I don't feel an incision on the back of my leg, but I guess I'll have to wait until my next appointment to find out whats up. I go back October 12th to have the cast removed, and will be put into an air cast at that time. No weight bearing for 6 weeks, so after my mom leaves this week, I'll be actively recruiting people to do a little grocery shopping for me... especially since I'm not "allowed" to drive right now (they doubt my mad left-footed driving skills).

Columbus day was spent getting xrays and having my cast taken off. I had to have the x-rays done first before my appointment, so I scoped them out in the elevator to see what they did to me:Suddenly my ankle began to hurt. Ouch.

Once in the doctors office, my cast came off. I'll spare you the extra gross pictures of my leg looking like it was jaundiced from the remaining betadyne. I didn't even want it to be part of my body when I first glaced down. 10 stages of bruising and discolorations, and two long lines gracing either side of my ankle, crusted over with blood. Ew. I snapped a quick picture of the x-rays once they had them up on the light box, and later pictures of my semi-cleaned surgery sites:

My leg looks huge... but thats just the cast.

Blurry pictures, but thats probably for the best.

I'm still not allowed to walk - no weight bearing until sometime around November 11th when I go back for my followup. They said if PT goes well and I can bear weight slightly beforehand, then I'll to go to IMFL to cheer on my teammates (being on the beach on crutches sounded pretty disasterous). My doc expects a full recovery with minimal side effects.

After some serious soaking in the bathtub, I have a lot of the dead skin off and removed the surgery tape. The lines look pretty clean, so I'm hoping for minimal scarring. As I was laying on my couch watching TV, I noticed how sad my leg looked. I've worked so hard for amazingly muscular calves... and in 3 weeks time - POOF.. gone.

Editors note: awkward flourescent lighting makes my legs look unnaturally colored.

Oh - I also had another surgery in the middle of all of this (of course...)! I had the implant done for the missing tooth FINALLY! My oral surgeon just shook his head when I came in on crutches.
Him: Please tell me this wasn't another biking accident.
Me: Nope. I was walking.
Him: Were you chewing gum?
Me: No need to be an ass... haha
At least he has a good sense of humor. Surgery went well, and now I just have to wait another two months for the post to fuse to the bone, and they'll add the crown on top so I have a tooth again. Horray!

Hope everyone is enjoying the end of the season/taper for the last big race!

24 September 2009

When Asthma and VCD Don't Matter

When you can't train anymore.

So what might you be looking at? That'd be my right foot, with 3 breaks in the ankle. Not the best x-ray (I don't suggest going to Garrett County Hospital EVER), but you get the hint. On the right, you see a chunk of bone that should be connected to the bone above. What you can't see are the two breaks on the left that are both sheared outwards. Go big or go home, right?

How does one pull off such a badass break? Storytime. My Savageman non-race report:

I was walking down the stairs between parking lots on the way down to the race. It was very dark, but I had my headlamp so I could see. Between the bottom of the stairs and the next parking lot was a 2 foot section of grass. As I came off the stairs, I stepped down with my left foot onto an uneven patch of land and started to roll my ankle. I quickly tried to correct and shifted my weight over to my right foot, which was between the grass and the asphalt. With the uneven ground and the sudden shift of my bags, I rolled my right ankle first to the inside, then to the outside. I heard the bones snap on both sides, and fell to the ground. Hoping that I was imagining things I tried to move my leg, and noticed that my ankle didn't lift from the ground but my leg did. After refraining from puking, I decided I needed to get someones attention. So, I started yelling for help until a ranger and a few Z'ers found me. After a short ride in the ambulance and a few shots of morphine later, I arrived at Garrett County Hospital. I won't go into details, but I don't recommend this hospital, and decided against having my surgery done there. Huge thanks to my teammates for following me to the hospital, contacting the doc's on our team who work at INOVA Fairfax, and set me up for the red carpet treatment once I got to INOVA

Susan, Ray, and Annie packed up my car so Annie could drive me home. We encased my ankle with ice and I downed a Lortab to embark on a narcotic-induced rambling ride home. We pulled up to INOVA, and beat the other kid with a broken leg out of the car (noting our awesome transition times). We asked the triage nurse if she knew Dr. Miller, and she had no idea who we were talking about. Turns out we were at the wrong hospital (Fair Oaks). So, we hopped back in the car and went to Fairfax. After witnessing a woman storm the ER only to be quickly removed by security, an old lady with the swine, and a crazy man yelling about his job, we made it to a room. Scored a hot resident working on me who used to do triathlon in college... and also sent me a message on Facebook since Annie was taking pictures that she thought I should use as a profile picture. After having the worst X-ray tech ever (who knocks someone's foot that is clearly broken?!), and Annie yelling at people until I got pain killers (if you EVER need something taken care of.. Annie will set someone straight), we were taken back to the room to wait for the results. We were updated on who beat who, where everyone placed, and that Team Z got that Savage Cup again! The docs came back in and injected my foot with a numbing agent, doped me up some more, gave me oxygen, and went to work resetting my ankle. Huge props to the staff - it didn't hurt even though it looked like they were going to rip my ankle off.

I have a temporary cast on now, and go for surgery on Monday morning. My mom will be in town to take me in to have plates and screws positioned to reset the three broken bones. I broke the left, right, and back side of my ankle... Good to know I don't do anything less than 110%. I'll be off my foot for 6 weeks minimum, but should recover fine. No IMFL for me; however Annie and I are planning the first annual IMFL Power Hour race.

So, there's the last 2009 race report you'll see from me. I'll update on Monday after my surgery. Possibly with some more pictures as well.

15 September 2009

Post Epipen madness: I might not have asthma

Needless to say, after having to use the epipen to open my airways (okay, I could have gone to the hospital.. but that is way more drama than necessary)... I went to my asthma docs on Wednesday to find out what the deal is. ***Sidebar - if you EVER have any allergy/asthma issues and are in the NoVa area, check out Adult and Pediatric Allergy of Northern Virginia located in Herndon. The practice has a special expertise in sports-induced breathing disorders, and routinely work with Olympic and collegiate "high performance athletes", as they call them (us?).

Anyway, after describing the issues I was having and doing a few lung function tests, the doc looked at me and said "there is no possible way you have this severe of sports induced asthma.. or for that matter, most likely any asthma at all." She handed me a home lung function monitor, explained how to use it, and sent me on my way for the time being. I have to test my lung function morning, during/after exercise, and at night. I also have to record my heart rate and general notes. She thinks I have
Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement (PVFM), or Vocal Cord Dysfunction (go ahead... "what?"). The symptoms are usually confused with asthma because they are so similar. The key difference is with PVFM/VCD, you have issues breathing in... where as asthmatics have a hard time breathing out. I head to a pulminary specialist in two weeks who will make me exercise until I have an episode, then promptly shove a camera down my throat to check out what my vocal cords are doing. Yummy.

You might be wondering where this came from... Apparently not to much is known about the disorder. Some think its brought on from stress/psychological disorders, especially after traumatic emotional stress (ahem.. possibly my accident/losing dad).. some think its from acid reflux (used to have lots of issues with ulcers in college). It can also be tied to brain trauma and injury (lets see... I slammed my head into the pavement... also the chin strap from my helmet left significant tissue damage to my throat, which is still sore to this day)... which is where the doc thinks the newfound breathing problems came from - my accident.

So much for no lasting side effects. :(

Nothings going to stop me though... Onward to Florida!

A few posts behind: Rehobeth Beach

I have about a dozen half written posts in my drafts over the last month that never have been finished.. So I'll be posting a bunch over the next few days. I still need to add pictures, so bear with me.. they'll get up later.

From 8/31:

A number of us from Team Z went up to Rehobeth beach for a long training weekend. Why Rehobeth? Training in the ocean and on long flat stretches for Ironman Florida.

Since I had off Friday, a fellow teammate and I decided to make the hike up on Thursday night after traffic died down. Easy drive, got in around 10pm to an absolutely HUGE beach house. Seriously, there were 12 of us staying in it, and we could have easily fit 30. Grabbed dinner and went to bed.

Due to the tropical storm lingering along to coast, Friday was spent saying "lets go to the beach!" followed quickly by a roll of thunder and rain. It would clear up again, and then go back to thundering. No beach on Friday... Sad. Met up with the Z'ers in town for dinner and a few drinks, then off to bed for the 100 mile ride in the morning.

Woke up and felt great heading out for the ride. At least 50 people rolled out for the ride, so it was a great showing. The plan was 3 loops, each getting progressively shorter. I was instantly amazed at how fast I felt when I wasn't climbing hills. I'm a HUGE fan of flat terrain now. Unfortunatly, my airways didn't seem to agree. I felt like I was having bad asthma issues the entire ride. Around 55 miles in, it got to the point where I had tunnel vision because I couldn't breath. I called our fearless sag crew, and someone came and got me. I figured I'd be fine if I just laid down for a bit, but no luck. 45 minutes later I had Coach Ed inject me with my epipen to open my airways. I'm not afraid to use one, but he wanted to learn. So after giving him instructions and a very awkward bearhug on my leg later, he realized it wasn't so bad. Until he pulled out the needle and saw how long it was. I attempted to ride about a half hour later, but my thigh hurt to bad from putting a needle through my quad... so I ended up sitting around drinking long islands in the parking lot cheering on the other riders.

Sunday was spent on the beach. I swam about 2 miles in the ocean, getting used to being tossed around. Unfortunatly the jelly fish were out and about, making the swim a bit more uncomfortable than necessary. I had planned to get in one last time to do a swim around 4, but the jelly fish were in full force. One wrapped around my ankle as the tide came in standing on the beach.. So the plan was abandoned. :( At least I didn't get a jelly fish up the pants like someone else...

19 August 2009

Oh yeah.. I forgot I blog.

An ultra busy few weeks after Ironman has lead to a minor void in the blogging lately. I'm back on track now and have plenty of entries to update.

Last Tuesday, I flew back to Ohio for my sister's wedding. I arrived into CAK from DCA after 50 short minutes, in comparison to my standard 5.5 hour drive. After how easy that was, I'll be flying from here on out. Now I just need to convince my mom to buy a car so I don't have to drive the minivan when I borrow it.

Wednesday was spent laying in the pool, helping my mom around the house, and visiting two of the three must-go places when I'm home: The A&W Root Beer stand on the circle and Stricklands (the third being Swensons, which I sadly did not get to). This particular A&W drive up has been around forever, and same as it has always been. One of the few places I know that is still cash only. There's nothing better than a coney dog with cheese, french fries, and a frosty mug of root beer. I'm slightly sad I didn't take a picture of it in all of its glory, but maybe next time. The pictures were swooped off the internet. Stricklands is a frozen custard joint that has been around since the1930's. Prior to becoming a franchise, there used to be two - Stricklands, which is located across from Akron-Fulton airport, and Stricklands II, which used to be beside the local grocery store, about 3 miles down the road. The original was only open during the summer, and II was open year round. Both had different "Flavor of the Day" which is actually 2 flavors, as well as chocolate, vanilla, and a frozen sherbet, and lasts typically 3 days. Best.Frozen Yogurt.Ever. My friend's family growing up owned it, so I ate lots of free ice cream. Unfortunately, the two owners had different visions for it, and it has since been franchised. Still the same machines that make the custard though. If I would have been home every day, I would have stopped by. Unfortunately, I missed Banana - one of my all-time favorite flavors.

On the way to my sister's wedding, we stopped by the cemetery to place some flowers on Dad's grave. Lucky for me, the construction crews were out in full force setting up the section on the other side of where Dad is buried. So, I grabbed my camera, and I finally have pictures to go with this strange entry. I'll add them into the post shortly, but for your viewing pleasure:

A view from the road.

Sod waiting to be laid on the front of Dad's section. Not quite sure why the dug up the grass.

A view of the vaults. Note that each one is also numbered with the grave number. In the background, you can see construction on the above-ground vaults for ashes.

Construction vehicles would grab a vault from the
back and place them into the rows.

Not the best pictures in the world, but there was a group of workers right infront of Dad's grave, and mom didn't want them to think I was nuts for taking pictures.

After the cemetery, we were off to my sister's wedding in Columbus, Ohio. Very beautiful wedding. I'll post some pictures from the photographer once I have them, but here are some from the occasion (not all of them are mine..):

On the way to the church

My lats and bad tan lines came too.
The rest of the bridal party is out of the picture.

Sister and Brother-in-law leaving the church

First Dance

Cutting the cake

Bridal Table

Classy. Too bad two of those weren't even mine.
And, ew. why are my fingers look jacked up? Stupid hyperextension..

30 July 2009

Ironman Lake Placid - DNF Report.

It still pains me to type those three letters.

Lessons learned:
-Don't leave your Garmin on the cradle after it is done charging - it WILL drain the battery once unplugged.
- Don't ride the brakes without pulsing to give the rims a chance to cool down.

I had a GREAT swim - I've been beat up more in Oly starts than Ironman. I started a little to the right of center, 4 rows back. In hindsight, I should have started closer to the buoy line, as I got caught up behind a group of slower people. Came out of the water in 1:14, much slower than I should have, but alas, unscathed. Quick transition, and it was off to the bike.

First loop of the bike was uneventful. After turning my Garmin on in transition only to find the battery had almost died from sitting on the contacts, I decided to leave it off for the first loop. Kat loaned me her Polar, since she thought I was nuts for doing ironman without an HRM. I realized I took the first loop extra slow at 4 hours when I rolled through town, and planned to make up serious time on the second half.

Turned on my Garmin and planned to run it until it died. I went down the first half of the Keene descent barely tapping my brakes. As I began the second part of the descent (shown between the 55-70 mile marks), I was riding about 45mph, which was a bit out of my comfort zone. I hit the very steep section and rode my brakes hard. The brakes started to feel like the wheel was out of true. Suddenly I heard a crazy noise, looked down and saw my tube and about 5 inches of rim tape coming out of my front wheel. After pulling a Fred Flinstone to stop as I skidded down the hill, I had a sigh of relief that the road didn't claim my skin or teeth, and began to pull my front tire off. I burned my hand taking my wheel off, so I let it cool while I pulled my tubes out of my saddle bag. As I took the damaged tube out, I accidentally dropped my wheel on my spare tubes, which melted under the heat from the rim. I was able to flag down the SAG vehicle, who had no 650 stuff to help me out. So, I sat on the side of the road as they pulled away, balling my eyes out because my day was over at 1:15pm. Watched a few other teammates head down the hill, including Kai who seems to only see me in ditches on the side of the road. An ambulance picked myself and my bike up, and dropped me off at a run aid station, where after a few hours spent volunteering at said aid station and running barefoot with my teammates, I finally got a ride back to town.

Bluntly put, it sucks to train so hard for a single day, and for it to end badly. I've been through worse, so it isn't going to break my spirit (though, it was close on Sunday). I've signed up to do Florida this year since many teammates are doing the race - yay charity slots. I'm coming back with a vengeance on the MDot races. Plans are to either hire a trainer or work with one for a few run and bike sessions to see where I can improve and really blast the course. I'll need to get more comfortable in the aero position, as I'll likely be in it for about 6 hours.

IMUSA in Red, IMFL in Orange. Safe to say, I won't need my brakes.

So, following the rest of this week off, I begin training for the second Ironman in a year. I'll still do Nation's Tri and the Army 10 miler, but I will be scrapping Marine Corp, which falls two weeks before Ironman Florida.

20 July 2009

Odd Facts about Cemeteries

I am sure this was the last thing you thought I'd be writing about with Ironman just around the corner.

My mom frequents Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery to visit my dad's grave. Over the past few months, she has called with interesting stories about the happenings around the cemetery (who knew they were so.. active?). Western Reserve has plenty of land to expand to, and with the rise in death rates of veterans, has been doing a lot of work in the cemetery. Adjacent to where dad is buried is a large urn garden. They have been constructing another urn garden beside the first one, which will hold another 5,000 remains. Beside Section 11, where dad is buried, they have been prepping another "section" of land for burials.

Ever wonder what goes into prepping land for burials? Well, here's the process, as accounted by my mom's phone calls:

Step 1: Dig up the ENTIRE section, 8.5 feet deep. Why not 6 feet deep? Double vaults. At OWRNC, both the vet and their spouse, military or nonmilitary, can be buried together. So, everyone gets double deep vaults. By entire section, I'm talking about a space for about 300 burials. Make everything perfectly smooth.
Step 2: Arrange the burial vaults with about a six inches of room around each vault. Gotta have a little bit of elbow room down there. :) Place caps on the vaults.
Step 3: Fill the entire lot with gravel. Yes, gravel. Ever wonder why Arlington National Cemetery (for the DC folks) looks so perfect, whereas most of your city owned cemeteries have a more "bumpy" look to them? Gravel. It prevents any type of ground sink that traditional cemeteries encounter when they backfill with dirt.
Step 4: Spread dirt over the top few inches of the gravel.

When the lot is going to begin housing deceased, the particular plot is dug up, the body is placed at the bottom of the double vault (or top if their roommate's already there), and then the gravel is replaced along with the dirt. Once a whole row is filled, the cemetery will lay strips of sod across the grave sites.

I keep telling my mom to get pictures of the construction in action, but she says she would feel weird snapping pictures. I'll update the post if I ever get pictures, but I happened to find this whole process very interesting. Something you never really think about - I had no idea there was such a science behind grave digging.

I'll update tomorrow once I'm finished packing for Placid - including a how to on ghetto-rigging some new decals for your race wheels.

16 July 2009

Lucky number... 6?

It appears I have to rescind my recent post; no longer is it lucky number 5, my odds have moved back to 6. Another girl registered recently, as there are still community fund slots left. My guess are her intentions are to try to qualify too - I'd assume most people don't just wake up in the morning and register for an iron distance race 2 weeks prior to toeing the line. She could be fast, she could be extremely under prepared.

***Post edited for negativity. If you happen to have Reader, you might catch a glimpse of it. But, I was apparently just in a bad, bad mood when I wrote last night. ***

Work's been rough - got the layoff notice on Monday. I knew it was coming, but it doesn't make receiving it any easier. I suppose I'm young and naive.... I feel like I've done nothing but bust my ass for the company, took on jobs that I absolutely did not want, but was promised better things by taking them, and in the end, I was still screwed over. I suddenly understand why working for big companies make people calloused. It has made me calloused. I have money being thrown at me to stay, and a decent sum as severance benefits. I'm not sure that I'm going to take it though... How does someone wake up every day for 5 months knowing that you're only doing work to finish losing your job. I'm a very hard, determined worker. Everyday this week however, I've been plagued with no desire to even go into work, and have hardly done anything. What's the point - I feel like I'm cleaning up the girl before me's mess, so its easier for the folks in Oak Ridge. Why am I making their life easier? The company has officially made me extremely cynical at work.

I'm looking forward to this weekend - a massage, getting things packed up for Ironman, and a guy I used to be pretty close with is in town for some training. I went out with him Wednesday night, and realized how much I really did miss him. I'm looking forward to spending some more time with him before he goes back to Chicago.

13 July 2009

Feed Me

So. Hungry.

I've been cutting back my caloric intake so I do not gain weight before Placid. With the reduced training volume of taper, I hear it is pretty easy to pack on a few extra pounds. No need to haul anything more up those mountains than necessarily. Unfortunately, my metabolism (and subsequently stomach) are not that thrilled with my decision. Officially for the first time since about 2 weeks after my jaw was wired shut, my stomach growled at me. For the first two weeks of the liquid diet, my stomach was mad, then it realized I just wasn't going to feed it, gave up, and I haven't had hunger pangs since. Until this morning. ::grumble::

12 days left until Ironman Lake Placid. Yesterday's 55 mile bike ride turned out to be an interesting one. Rode on a busy highway at one point, took an exit ramp, looked at the Route 17 overpass (which we were supposed to be turning left on.. I left my go-go-gadget legs at home, so I couldn't hop up to the overpass 30 feet ahead), and was told "good luck getting back to Virginia. I took 2 water bottles with me on what I figured would be a short, 2.5 hour ride.

Dehydration FAIL.

I believe someone said it was 87 degrees out. And every small town we rode through only had a "general store", which, remarkably are all closed on Sundays. Around mile 40, I finally found a 7-11, and enjoyed a nice cold bottle of water. Dehydration had definitely set in though. Around mile 50, something flew into my helmet and attacked my head. I was able to stop and pull off my helmet, but lost the group I was riding with. I started to get chills and became blackout dizzy when I started up again, so I stopped on the side of the road and called Marlene (Sagging for the team) for a ride back. Luckily, the chills and dizziness stopped, as I had NO desire to jab myself in the thigh with my epipen

06 July 2009

Lucky Number 5

It used to be Lucky Number 6. But due to unforeseen circumstances, its been moved to Lucky Number 5.

So whats the significance?

Back here, I stated that I was going to focus into improving as much as I could over the next few months, and take the idea of qualifying for Kona a bit more serious. I would say there was about 90% honesty to that - in reality, I knew that I would not be able to make the physical leaps required to hit that target, but still, it was a fun idea.

While I had some downtime, I thought I'd stalk scope out the competition for Lake Placid using Athlinks, just to get an idea of what kind of racers I was up against. Scanning the names, one of them looked familiar. When I pulled her up on Athlinks, I saw why:

A quick check of the Qualifying Slots showed that she nabbed a Kona slot (with that rockin time) at Eagleman this year.

And then there were 5.

The remaining 4 girls I'll be competing against are either average, or good runners but pretty bad swimmers and average to below average cyclists. There's actually a chance that I could come in second in the age group (Miss 4:41 will be first, my guess) and take a slot. How freaking cool would that be?!

So, as I enter my taper into Lake Placid over the next 19 days (16 hours 51 minutes...), I will be concentrating heavily on not blowing off my workouts, and very conscious of every calorie that goes into my body. I had hit the proverbial wall two weeks ago with the epic 2 hour swim, 20 mile run, 130 mile ride weekend (By far the most mileage in one weekend for me)... and was just ready to be DONE with Ironman. Luckily I've only skipped one workout, when my mom came in town for the 4th of July, which I plan to make up this week.

Work has been beyond overwhelming as we transition into a new financial system (try telling multi-million dollar contracts that we aren't doing any new purchasing or subcontract agreements for 10 days... not fun). Luckily thats over, and things should be relatively calm over the next 19 days (16 hours and 49 minutes).

Happy Training, and good luck to Es - rocking out Ironman Switzerland this weekend!!!!

18 June 2009

State of my State

Two posts in under 24 hours?! I know it is exciting.

Key points:

  • Work is overwhelming
  • I’m trying to figure out what to do next
  • Dealing with Dad’s death doesn’t go away
  • Training is intense

Work is exhausting right now. We’re moving onto a new financial system, which requires us to go through multifarious training courses – many with nothing to do with our specific roles in the company. Not only am I endlessly clicking through purchasing training, but I am also the POC for Goods Receipt and P-Cards during the Costpoint Conversion. That means I get to take training for 3 positions, instead of just one, and respond to everyone’s emails about their GR/PCard issues. Lucky me. In the meantime, I also have to find time for daily functions. Lately many of the offsite projects I support seem to be in a horrible mood (most likely due to the upcoming conversion) and attempt to drag me down as well. Oh, and to round out my bitching about work, I’m most likely losing my job anyways… I’ll find out the week before Ironman Lake Placid. Well, I’m not so much “losing my job”; my job is moving, and I won’t be moving with it. No hate to Oak Ridge, but its just not my style.

Which brings me to what I’m doing with my life. I have some good leads on jobs in the area that I will pursue once I have my separation date. The question becomes, do I want to stay in the DC area? Its been a great place for the past 2 years. But, I’m young and unattached… I should get out and see new places, right? Ideally, I’ll land a job that requires a good deal of travel (dreaming of a job like Ray's, sending me all across the world to do presentations, but realistically just hoping to travel a bit in the US) and I could stay right where I’m at living-wise. But, should I move to another area? California to be with a number of my friends? Hawaii to enjoy the amazing weather? Up and change countries for a hot minute? Who knows, but its got me thinking a lot. Luckily I won’t have to make these decisions until sometime after Ironman.

I just passed the 6 month mark from my dad’s death. It’s hard to believe that 6 months have passed. I have my good days and I have my bad. I’ll go a week or two without even thinking about it, and then it will consume my every thought. I ran across the adjacent picture when looking for something else on my camera. The flags at my dad’s work flew at half-staff the week my dad died through his funeral. I’m glad I caught a few pictures of the two flags flying with the trucks in the background (the closest truck being the first color scheme that they had when Dad started, and the subsequent trucks being the new line that came out a few years ago). The 6th month mark fell exactly as it did in December; he fell on Tuesday the 9th, and we removed the life support on Thursday, December 11th (actually, that's when the hospital declared him as no longer a patient… he stayed on life support until Friday for organ donation). June 9th was a Tuesday, so the week repeated itself. Last week was a very hard week… and to be honest, I feel like I floated through the week oblivious to anything around me. I shut my office door and cried almost every day. I went home and laid in bed, skipping many of my workouts. My body may not have needed the break, but it was precisely what my mind needed. I had a good weekend, until mom mentioned my aunt had a buyer for Dad’s car. I was speechless. She didn’t even tell me she was thinking about selling it. Last I knew, my brother was taking it. He decided he didn’t want it, and my mom has a hard time looking at it every time the garage opens. I get that, I’m sure its hard. But I was crushed that she didn’t even bother to check to see what I thought. I’m considering buying his car to tie me over until my next car purchase, but I haven’t made a decision. We both had 2002 ZX2’s – his navy, manual, and has a sunroof, mine – silver, automatic, and has about 45,000 more miles. I remember going home one weekend and asking my dad what he knew about the Mazda 3 5-doors, because I thought that was going to be my next car. He just started laughing and said “I’ve been looking at them lately too, and decided that its the next car I want”. He went into a long discussion comparing the Mazda 3 to the others in that same class, and why it was, in his opinion, the best choice. I’ve got my eye on the 2010’s, but will most likely wait until early next year (read: price drop because I’m poor).

Training has been intense for Ironman. Of course it has been.. its for Ironman. I’m often tired from training, and maybe even slightly grouchy because I can never eat enough. After the below outlined Mooseman Fail, I was very concerned about my ability to do Lake Placid; not because of the physical requirements, but the mental. After recovering, I’m ready to tackle it. I didn’t quit at Mooseman, so it must be a good sign. This weekend is the peak of training – 2 hour swim, 20 mile run, 120 mile bike. Bring it on.

Well, maybe. I have to have some medical tests run on Friday. Report to follow.

17 June 2009

Mooseman Half Iron Race Report

Clearly, I’m behind. Mooseman was over 2 weeks ago, and I’m just now getting around to the post. I’ve been dragging my feet, because to be honest, I didn’t want to recall how bad of a race I had. Lucky for you, blogosphere, you get the extra short version:

Swim: 35:18

The swim course is a rhombus of sorts. I lost a good amount of time between the two furthest points. I’m not good at swimming in very very choppy water. If I’m not in a wetsuit, I’m fine… but if I’m in a wetsuit, I get some variation of sea-sick. Not fun. I enjoyed the 59 degree water however, unlike many people. Newfound lake is also one of the 10 cleanest lakes in the US. So clean I probably drank a little too much of it since I wasn’t hesitant about what I might be ingesting.

Bike 3:49

A full 40 minutes longer than I wanted to be on the bike. Mooseman is a relatively hilly course. I came prepared with a newly installed compact crank. Mooseman is also known for its sketchy pavement. And by sketchy, I mean terrible. Well, except for the first 6 miles, which have been repaved. I started off strong on the bike, feeling good after recovering from the near cookie-tossing session on the far side of the lake. I eased right up Devils Hill. On the backside of the course, there are some nice descents. Well, they would be nice, if it wasn’t for the aforementioned shitty pavement. At some point, a crosswind caught my 404’s when I wasn’t paying attention, and it threw me around a bit. By a bit, I mean a lot. On the shitty pavement. I already have a fear of crashing and head trauma, and with it being almost 6 months to the day of my dad’s death, I lost it. By the time I hit the bottom of the hill, I was balling. I didn’t want to be on my bike, and if there had been an aid station anywhere close, I would have dismounted and turned in my chip. I continued to cry. I thought about my dad. The fear of crashing/head trauma finally caught up to me. I wanted off my bike. I was thinking about how I could sell my bike/tri stuff, and make at least $2000. That would cover my investment into Ironman registration, my hotel room, and recover other sunk costs. That is how much I didn’t want to be on my bike… and it was serious thinking, not just “oh I should sell my bike and be done with this sport.” But, I kept pedaling, because the only choice I had was to do so, or sit at the side of a cemetery. The tears slowly dried, and I made my way back to loop 1. I was still having issues with hyperventilating, and hadn’t eaten/drank in at least 45 minutes. As I came in for the second loop, the electricity of the race drove me out onto the second loop. I got up Devils hill again, and continued the climb to the summit. Once I reached the summit, I quickly wondered “What Was I THINKING”? I quickly went through round 2 of hyperventilating and the fear of crashing. I was more prepared for the crosswinds on the downhills this time, and made it through safely. I was mentally diminished at this point, and figured I’d rack my bike and stop.

Run: 2:23

But I didnt. I realized I couldn’t hurt myself on the run, so I’d go out and get it done. Besides, there were too many teammates there. Off I went, and I got my legs pretty quickly. Miles 1-2 went by great. MIle 2.5, ::gurgle… gurgle:: Stomach’s not happy. I throw down a gel and 1/2 a glass of water at the aid station. As fast as I threw it down, it came right back up. Awesome. I walk, sipping water again, trying to get my stomach to calm down. I can feel I’m way under-fueled at this point, and throwing up the gel was the exact opposite of what I needed. I walked some more. Shuffled a little. Walked. Aid Station comes up, I sip on Pepsi. The Stomach (now a proper noun at this point, demanding I respect it) decides it does not want Pepsi either. I Pepsi’d some foliage on the side of the road. I walked… shuffled.. walked. Next aid station, after letting Stomach know we had another 9 miles to go, and surely it did not want to convulse that many times… I took some orange gatorade. Stomach approved. I shuffle a little. Stomach decides it still is okay. I drink the rest of the cup. Waited a minute, fully expecting a revolt. It didn’t come. I picked up my pace, and I ran. I ran fast. I stopped to pee, so at least I wasn’t dehydrated. I crossed the finish line. I cried (into my new Mooseman Finishers shirt and towel)

My time was faster than Kinetic, but not much. I hoped to break 6 hours. I hoped to take one of the top two slots. No luck. It was the hardest race I’ve done. Not topographically. Mentally. I joke about quitting triathlon after Ironman, selling my bike, and taking up scrapbooking. Joke. I was serious when I was on the bike. I guess that goes to show, you shouldn’t make decisions while riding that don’t pertain to navigating the course or eating.

Outside of the race, I had a GREAT weekend. Got up there Friday, swam, cheered on racers in the Oly on Saturday, got a great brick in. Monday, a few of us hung out on a dock in the lake, chattin, drinking wine, eating leftover cheese, grapes, chicken, and pretzels. If you ever have the chance, Mooseman is a FANTASTICALLY run race. I mean seriously, TOP NOTCH. and Bristol is absolutely gorgeous. The community was out in force supporting the race, which was awesome.

I had a very hard time accepting how this race went. I’ve accepted, and I’ve moved on. My focus is Ironman. I’m excited. I really look forward to it.

09 June 2009

A long hiatus

Clearly, I haven't been doing many updates. I've been stretching my time between driving, work, training, and sanity, sometimes wearing thin in each category. I wouldn't go so far to say I've been in a funk, but things just haven't felt "right". I loathe that sensation.

A brief synopsis of the last few weeks:

Went to Lake Placid. Camped Thursday-Monday. Cheap, but still a mistake when you factor in sleeping on the ground, then beating the crap out of your body for a few days. Had an awesome tour of the Olympic center. My run went well on Saturday (one loop of the course). I wish I could say the same about the bike. I'm not sure if I was just tired, too tight from not stretching post-running/sleeping on the ground or what, but my quads were on fire. I rode the course last year on a bike that didn't fit me, and I was in much worse shape. I struggled to make 1 loop. Decided it was time to switch over to compact cranks. My legs won't be that drained before Ironman, granted... but it will be a nice security blanket. Gave up on the bike, and hopped in the lake for a swim in 50 degree water. Cold, but manageable. I kept clenching my fists to make sure I wasn't going into any type of hypothermic state. Oh, and I lost a veneer. *pissed*.

The following weekend was filled with running and biking on my own, and meeting up with some people for a swim in Lake Barcroft. One of the few "gems" around the area... if there's once place to learn to be comfortable in open water where you can't see 2 inches infront of you, Barcroft is it. And, its semi-legal to swim in. 2 or so miles later, we were back to J's house for a barbeque. Ate far too much food. Found out Monday that my job's going to get moved to Oak Ridge... and I have no intentions of moving with it. Awesome.

Last weekend was Mooseman. Bad race doesn't begin to cover in detail, and I will post a full report shortly. Briefly, had a slow (for me) swim.. a breakdown on the bike- not the mechanical kind, and threw up a few times on the run. Devistating, as I was hoping to come in around around 6 hour mark. I had very high expectations of myself for the race, and I crumbled.

19 May 2009

An embarrassing confession

The weekend recap:

I officiated for the Columbia Triathlon on Sunday, so I had to adjust my weekend workout plans. Normally my long run is on Saturday, and the long ride is on Sunday. This weekend called for an 18 mile run, and a 100 mile bike. Due to the race Sunday though, I was forced to skip riding with my awesome teammates.

Except, some of my awesome teammates also needed to do their ride on Saturday. I took a group down to Prince William Forest (thanks again, Ray!). Tony and I went down early, since he had a 3 hour ride with some threshold work. He figured he'd do his threshold work trying to keep up with me on a loop. I don't know when I got the reputation of being "fast", but I digress. After a nice loop, we met up with the others who had to skip their ride. We rode the out and back to the visitors center for a quick trip to the bathroom, and then continued on our way. I kept dropping back to chat with everyone to make sure life was good, figuring I'd get my solid workout after the 40 miler's were heading home. I looked ahead, and watched Jackie go down all of the sudden. Not a major crash, more like slowly veered into the grass and fell over. Once I reached her, it turned out her chain dropped and then locked up in her triple. So, I taught her how to get it undone (which, came in handy when she raced Columbia the next day and dropped her chain!), and we continued off to the visitors center for another quick stop, since Jen's cleat was acting up. That's when the following conversation took place:

Teammate: ... How come no one makes fun of you? You're riding with long dangly earrings, hot pink nails, and yet you're a badass rider and had no issues fixing a greasy chain. Seriously.... how do you not get made fun of?
Me: uhhh. Good question.

So. My embarrassing confession: I'm occasionally girly. When I'm not blowing snot rockets, spitting up sports drink, covered in sweat and road grime, I'm kinda girly. Not overly, but I wear long dangly earrings, and I paint my nails. The hot pink nails were just to see if I could stand it (which, I can't... I usually paint them a darker red, navy, or gray). There. There first step is admitting I have a problem.

Continued the ride, stopping to teach Andrea how to fix her chain when she dropped hers as well. The girls left, and Tony and I did another loop. I wasn't really in the groove of the ride, so I decided since he was leaving, I'd go ahead and head out too.. I'd just finish my ride on the trainer, and then head out for an uber-long brick. About 5 minutes onto I-95 and guilt washed over me... so I turned around and went back to the park to finish my ride. Got in some miles on the feet after the ride, and called it a day.

I was up early on Sunday to drive up to officiate for the Columbia Triathlon. The day started off cold, windy, and misting. I've worked a few times under the head official, and apparently she likes me, because I was assigned to the Pro's in transition. Suddenly, waking up at 3:15 was totally worth it - nothing like seeing a bunch of hot guys in spandex with insanely nice bikes first thing in the morning. All of the pro's were EXTREMELY friendly, well, with the exception of 1 who was a complete tool and threw a fit because I wouldn't let him move his bike to another rack. Met fellow DC blogger Lesser is More,while he was doing his first officiating race (though I don't think I ever introduced myself regarding my blog - so.. hi!) I was the first official out after the Pro's on the motorcycle, and then came back in after a loop on the course to grab my mountain bike to head out on the run course. Its been a hot minute since I've been on my mountain bike - it needs some work in the shifters, and wow, did it feel heavy. 34 pounds vs my road bike that is around 18... HUGE difference. Stuck around after for a while, and one of the Pro's came up to thank me for officiating... He and I ended up talking for about an hour and half after we took our bikes up to the cars. Awesome guy, and he gave me a lot of suggestions to implement into my training. I'll see him up at Placid.. though he might be done with the race before I'm at mile 3 of the run.

This weekend is a huge training weekend up at Placid. Pictures to follow... Gina dared me to swim, so that means I'm getting in for a brisk swim in Mirror Lake. Needless to say, I'll be packing the wetsuit. :)

14 May 2009

Sports Photography.

First, the pictures from Kinetic Half (kindly lifted from TriDuo):

I look like I *might* fall over... Clipping in up the first hill. Good thing they got a clear shot of the rest of the sky, and not my tires.

Somewhere on the bike route.

Heading back into the park. Happy to be almost off my bike.
Probably one of the best pictures of myself I've seen in races lately...
Bike's in view, you can almost tell what I'm riding..

WTF am I doing?? I look like an albino Stevie Wonder running.
Race Photogs: WTF. I'm not moving that fast at this point... and this is the best moment you can capture?
Again, no need for the bottom of the SUBJECT here, but the trees in the top are pretty nice.

Finish line. It looks like we are doing some version of a 3-legged race.
I'd like to submit this to Steve in a Speedo - I got you beat with 3 pirates in 1 picture.

Interesting selection of pictures. I don't remember seeing photographers with the exception of the third bike picture... I really do just smile that much while racing.

Race photography has been the subject of many debates: Why do they charge so much? Why are the pictures terrible? Why do they pick the worst locations? Again, WHY are they, on average, $30 a picture?! I'd like to address some things regarding race photography, based on my experience as an actual paid photographer... (I can send you some examples of my work, if you'd like).

Cost: The biggest gripe about race photos is the cost. $30 for a picture. I understand this seems like a lot, however its likely that the photog's only made around $1200 for the day (3 cameras at $400 for the day). In the photography world, this isn't much. So, they rely on sales to increase the profit once labor to upload/sort the photos is factored in. But in reality, how many people buy pictures @$30/shot. At least digital downloads have slowly become more common - though I've seen prices for them hover around $15, and no volume discount for multiple images.

Quality: No matter how cheap though, no one is going to buy a crappy picture. Its just not going to happen. Lets take for example my pictures in the above race. The first shot on the bike is crap. The "subject" of the picture is half cut off. Fail. Don't even upload this to the site. The second and third pictures are of decent quality... I can't complain too much. I'd love to see more photographers get complete side shots of the racers on the bikes, such as the one to the right. It's much more appealing to see the side angle of the rider on the bike than a front shot of us hunched over with a knee in chest. Take a picture with some woods or something nice in the background. If I had a race picture of me from a side view instead of head on.. I'd most likely buy it and send it to my mom. She collects those things, and it would look more "artsy"... On the run, it shouldn't be too hard to do the same thing, as we're moving at a quarter of the speed on the bike. Maybe 1 head on, 1 side view would be ideal.

Location: Directly in line with quality comes location. I'm not sure who told the photogs that setting up on the exit of transition, when your subject is fumbling to get situated on their bike going 8 mph is a GREAT location to get some bad ass race pictures.. but they lied to you. Nor is the corner where we turn to head back in, have slowed down, are sitting up, etc etc. Find a place where the runners aren't totally clogged up together (often at the beginning of the run), and never ever sit at the very beginning or the turn of a bike. We're slowing for the turn.. not too focused on "dropping the hammer" on the bike.

3 things that are easy to fix, and yet time and time again, I see these big race photog companies failing miserably at doing their job. They cannot possibly look at their pictures and say "wow, we captured AMAZING pictures". Looking at the pictures, I would much rather see a race contact a local high school with a photography class, offer 10 students $100 for the day, and set them out along the course. Have all photos uploaded to a single site (Use Snapfish, Google Pictures, whatever), based on location and time stamps... Racers know about what time they passed XX mile marker. All picture free for download, students are allowed to use their shots for portfolios. Sure, the first few pictures might suck, but they'll get used to it with 200+ people to practice on. Alternate options include enlisting the handywork of a family member, friend, or random stranger you pay $30.. I guarantee you will get better results than what is often captured by the race photographer.

11 May 2009

Kinetic Half Iron Race Report

Kinetic Triathlon (Half-Iron Distance)
Swim: 36.52
Bike: 3:33(15.8 mph)
Run: 2:41 (~12 minute miles)

• Ensure Banana Crème Shake
• Banana
• 3 Endurolytes

This was my first half-iron race, and intimidation doesn’t fully describe my feelings as I finished my in-water warmup. I was very unsure of how to “race” the day, but figured the best was to go slow and finish with a smile. Coach said it was a “training rac
e”, and not to go out too hard since Mooseman I supposed to be my A race prior to IMLP. I was in the second wave, and the gun went off at 7:03. The water was very murky, and I couldn’t see feet until I was practically on top of them. I settled in to my own space, and kept it very slow. I wanted to swim faster, but I decided to cut almost all kicking (which I am a very strong kicker), since I had a long day ahead of me. Kinetic is a two loop course which includes getting out, running across the beach, and then back into the water. My first loop was lethargic feeling to me, and when I felt good coming out of the water and was surrounded by blue caps (M 34-Under) from the previous wave, I figured I couldn’t be too far off. I turned up the second loop, but still refrained from kicking very much. Never felt like my heart rate went up, which was my initial plan.

Swim Total: 36.52 (42/105 Women)

The bike for Kinetic holds a slightly more rolling terrain on its two-loop course than expected. After a 3 minute transition (double checked everything I did – didn’t want to forget something), I climbed out of the park. I settled into a low heart rate and kept smiling. I knew I needed to nail my nutrition in order to have a successful day, and I didn’t want to go out too hard and not be able to digest well. I started out with a great pace, and stayed aero for about 95% of the ride. Aside from the pollen which felt like rocks in my eyes, the ride was beautiful. Never too hot, good roads for most of the race. I had a few issues with traffic on the roads that didn’t know how to pass cyclists, which caused multiple times of having to slam on my brakes both on descents and ascents. I wasn’t happy with the traffic situation, but there was nothing I could do to change it, so I pedaled on. Around mile 30, I whipped out my Uncrustable for the best snack of the day. It tasted like heaven in between to smashed pieces of extremely processed bread. I must have looked like I was enjoying it, because as a pretty fast looking guy passed me, he sat up, tapped his brakes to fall back with me, and asked me what I was eating. I sat up from my lounging aero position, chatted with him for a few minutes, and he was envious.. he’s bringing one for his next race. Around mile 40, I ran into a long line of horses, probably about 10-12. I heard something about a horse show in the area, and a group must have been out for a ride. It made things interesting – riding along with horses being freaked out by bikes/traffic on my right, and traffic being freaked out by the cyclists/horses. Bad combination, but I made it out without hitting either. I did ask one particularly hot guy (cowboy?) if I could have his extra horse for a little while. He laughed, not realizing by that point, I was slightly serious. Finished the bike, managing to avoid any incidents with people failing to know how to operate bottle hand offs. Please people, learn to grab a bottle properly, and don’t just spray it in your aerobottle then chuck it DIRECTLY behind you, nearly hitting me.

Bike Nutrition:
• 2 complete Speedfil’s of water (80 oz total)
• 2 package of Strawberry Clif Blocks, eating 2 every 20 minutes for the first two hours
• 1 bottle of on-course Heed (since I walked out and forgot my Heed. So much for the packing list..)
• 1 Grape Uncrustable
• 1 package of Black Cherry w/caffeine Shot Blocks
• 1 Gu Roctane

Bike Nutrition Totals:
• Calories: 1000 (281 per hour)
• Carbs: 218g (61g per hour)
• Sugar: 89g (25g per hour)
• Sodium: 1324mg (372mg per hour)
• Caffeine: 120mg (33g per hour)

BIKE TOTALS: 3:33 – 15.8 mph (76/105 Women)

I felt great coming into transition, however the first 2 miles weren’t in complete agreement. I clearly need to do many more brick workouts, as my legs thought it was time to go get a beer with the teammates or take a nap, and not run a half marathon. I used my Xtenex laces, and had no issues for the entire run - I'll be finishing up my review sometime this week. The day was heating up rapidly, and after looking at the weather online later in the day, the real-feel temperature was over 100 degrees. Around mile 2.5 my legs came back to play, and I picked up the pace for the next 5 miles. I was hot and starting to get cranky as I could never get my legs to turn over like I wanted them to up the hills. I ditched my jersey and fuel belt at an aid station for parts of the second loop, until I realized without it, I wasn’t doing much for nutrition. I picked it back up on my way through, and the aid station looked at me like I was nuts. By the 3rd loop (yep, gotta go by the finish line twice before actually getting to veer a slight right into the grass to finish), I was done… I had a hard time keeping anything down on the run, so I was hitting the wall hard. I was slowed to a walk for a good portion of the last loop.

Run Nutrition:
• 1 Raspberry Hammer Gel
• 1 (4oz?) glass of head
• 2 (2oz?) shot of Coca Cola
• 1 orange section
• ice

RUN TOTALS: 2:41 – 12:15 per mile (67/92 women)

I picked up the pace along the last quarter mile, and my calves were letting me know they were hurt. I heard two girls coming up behind me, so I tried to sprint a little faster, but my legs just weren’t having it. They split either side of me and then blocked me for the last 10 yards to the finish line. A pretty bitch move for no good reason – its not like any of us were in contention for first place. I’m sure the finish photo will be classy, as I’m literally a half step behind them, most likely looking angry. I didn’t care, because I was happy to finish, and I felt generally great. After my lack of effort to race Rumpass, I seriously considered this to be my last year of triathlons for a while. I just wasn’t happy doing it. I researched distance swimming more, and was ready to hang up the bike and running shoes for a while. After this race, my spirit was refreshed… I REALLY enjoyed this distance, way more than I thought I would. Now that I understand how my bodys going to react during the race, I know exactly where I can improve (I can easily shave 5 minutes off my swim, I’d say another 10-15 off my bike, and at least a half hour off my run). I’m looking forward to Mooseman, and have a good feeling about Lake Placid. I feel like I’m on track for a healthy finish.