Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Injury Update

So I saw an ortho (knee dude) on Monday. While laying on the table, they twirled my knee around, I suppose to check for involvement of muscles, and of course, all that negative (I don't have much pain when laying on my back). The conclusion was chondromalacia--deterioration of cartilage behind the kneecap (and sometimes the back side of the knee cap is rough--I had my left one smoothed out years ago), and that it's referring pain all around the knee. A prescription for 3 PT visits given, and I have scheduled those. Goal is to strengthen my quads. I've sensed my hamstrings have taken over and can tell from how they look, but honestly, when they do those silly "contract this muscle" tests, it's under pressure, so who knows? Do I really have weak quads? Maybe. Compared to what? Hopefully, in PT they will measure the relative strength of the 2 muscles, because that's where it's at.

I've stopped running and biking, and as of today, I'm also giving water running and elliptical a rest. So nothing but swimming. For the past 2 days, really since I stopped running last week, I don't feel the tightness/pain (whatever it is--I'm not entirely sure) in the gastroc, but continue to feel lateral just above the knee, where the biceps femoris tendon is, pain. Sometimes. It still feels to me that I have an issue with the hamstring, so I'm acting like I do, I guess. In either case, rest from aggravating things is in order. Yesterday I actually got on the elliptical (a different, harder one!) and had zero pain, and zero pain after. I was going up and down stairs with aplomb. But then late afternoon I went outside and picked up pine cones (a service I provide to my neighbor that benefits me, too) and did a bit of leaf and pine needle sweeping, and when I got back inside, OUCH! There was some knee bending involved, but again, that could be the patella or it could just be the hamstring. I'm writing this down so I don't forgot to report all this to the PT.

Obviously, this is very frustrating, and I feel like an idiot for not catching/abating this sooner, and of course, those feelings of being a loser and setting such high expectations for myself come into play. That's a normal reaction, right? I do try and push those thoughts aside, but they do manage to creep into my consciousness a few times a day.

At this point, I would be happy if I knew I could go for a WALK without doing further damage and not being in any pain. I know other people have far worse problems than I do, but this is my passion, and so it makes me sad. I spend a lot of time stretching, doing body work, warming up prior to exercise, getting massages, eating right--all those things I'm supposed to do. Oh and I forgot that the ortho gave me the "you're getting old" talk which really made me feel great (NOT). Only the way he said it was, "You need to realize that at your age you are pushing your body's limits." Same difference!

So right now I'm in that limbo where I really don't know quite what the fuck all is going on with my body. I always say I wish I just had a broken bone--there's a pretty standard protocol and recovery period for those--whereas this? I have no fucking clue, and I'm not even convinced I have a proper diagnosis. I still do have an appointment with the podiatrist, and hope that results in new orthotics. Which who knows when I will get to use them?

Here I thought I had fixed one problem and now this. On the bright side, I'm closer to and higher up the wall with my hands/feet in pursuing a handstand. And I don't need my goddamn knees or hamstrings to do that, either. One day at a time, huh?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Woohoo! I'm Injured!

Shit happens. It happens when you don't want it to. But it's a cost of doing business, and I have to find a way through it, and I will, with my coach's help.

So what's the deal? I'm not fully diagnosed yet, but it presents as hamstring and/or gastroc tendinitis in my right leg (the one with the Morton's Neuroma). I believe it arose due to the following factors:

  • Decreasing my bike volume significantly in September while simultaneously
  • Increasing my run/walk volume significantly in September
  • Doing a 50k that I thought I could legitimately train for near home. I was wrong. No way I could do enough hill work in 6 weeks to be ready for what I faced, nor do I have access nearby to the level of rocky trail I ran on. Still, I'm glad I did it, and I had a blast. It was a real mental exercise!
  • Doing a 5k 8 days after the 50k.
  • Doing a hilly 25k 2 weeks after a hilly 50k. That was just plain stupid.
Did I see this coming? Well yes and no. I had an intermittent niggle in my right calf/knee in September, but it was so intermittent I didn't think much about it. I felt tightness in my calf when I would sit in the yoga child pose that got progressively worse, but I could still sit that way and ease into it pretty easily.

Things got slightly less intermittent before the 50k, and I did have some concern that I might just DNF, but I wasn't really in pain so much as I felt really tight. So I just kept up stretching and I never felt the tightness or anything limiting me during the 50k. 

Then the plan was for me to not run for like 10-12 days, but then that Corn Maze 5k got rescheduled for 8 days after the 50k, and it was just for fun and I surely wasn't going to race it, so I went. My right calf was tight, but it still didn't feel painful, so I stretched right before the race, and I really didn't feel anything while I ran, albeit slowly. Still, I was super tight after it.

Then I started formal training with coach, and since I wasn't reporting in on any particular trouble, 2 days after the 5k I had a hill workout. That kinda sealed the deal. Now I recognized actual pain, but still not enough for me to consider modifying anything. I began a research, search and destroy mission to see if I could figure out what was going on and maybe fix it. I gave it my best shot, and I have a theory (which I will get to shortly), but I found myself needing medical help to figure it out.

So the day before Thanksgiving I got myself into an Immediate Care facility to get checked out. I said I was in level 9 out of 10 pain (really hurt going down stairs and sometimes just walking), but honestly I don't know. I have a very high pain tolerance for these sorts of things--I continued running for 3 years with pain from the Morton's Neuroma!

The doctor ordered an X-ray of my knee and an ultrasound. The X-ray showed I have very minor (negligible) arthritis. Yay!. The ultrasound was to check for a Baker's Cyst behind the knee--that was also negative. So the doctor gave me a prescription for 600mg Ibuprofen (not sure it helps but I'm taking it anyway), and we talked further. I asked her if she knows about Morton's Neuroma, and she said yes, so I laid my theory on her: For the 3 years I spent running on it, I had adjusted my leg's mechanics, notably the knee joint (and probably some in the hip, too), and since April of this year when I found a way to stop the pain and get my foot operating properly, my knee is rebelling and hence my issue. However, I believe that reducing biking played a factor in that biking puts my feet (and knees) into a rather locked, good ergonomic position, and that "protected" me from the ravages of running.

In fact, back in April, I had some trouble with my knee and resorted to a lot of water running for a few weeks, and I corrected it.

So the doctor buys my theory, and so now I get to see an ortho AND a podiatrist. I think my orthotics need to be rebuilt. I may actually have overstretched tendons, too, but I won't know that until Monday.

So in my customary fashion, I've been testing what I can do that DOESN'T HURT to substitute for running. Water running--CHECK. Elliptical (which I abhor but will do)--CHECK. So until I get a diagnosis on this, that's what I'll be doing. I don't want to try actual running for at least a week, but I can do more biking in the meantime, too.

So while I wanted to bawl my eyes out yesterday, I'm good with where things stand. And I'm actually happy that I scored a decent physician who understood that my foot may be the cause of all this.

So, Disney will be whatever it is--walking, running, standing around. Whatever I can do there is what I will do and be OK with it. If I don't have any actual muscle tears or severe tendinitis (which I don't think I do--nothing is swollen and I can use the muscles just fine they just feel super tight), I would guess I can get back to actual running in 3 weeks. But we shall see. 

I'm keeping a daily log of activities, stretching, and so on, so on Monday I can tell the doctor how things are progressing. I also traced this guy's rear right leg so I can show the specific points where I experience pain while doing certain things.  He lives on the door in my weight room.

I am nothing if not prepared when I walk into a physician's office!

So wish me luck that this is just stuff being readjusted, needing some time off from running (that I should have taken earlier LOL) and new orthotics.

Meanwhile, I'm thoroughly enjoying the swim workouts I'm doing, and even seeing flashes of getting faster. And I'm remembering what hard bike workouts are, and I'm progressing on my quest for handstand and pullups. So I really can't complain.

I'm just fortunate in that I live so close to my Y and can do the deep water running and whatever else I want to do there. Plus I'm really REALLY determined. But honestly, I can't wait to run pain-free again!

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Little Race Report and General Updates

For all 5 people who read this blog...

On Saturday, 11/12, I "did" (I'm not calling it raced since I didn't feel fully recovered from the 50k) a rather hilly 25k about 15 miles from home (note to self: I should go run there more often). It was on crushed limestone trails in Palos Park. I'd done the fall version of this race (Paleozoic Fall) 2 years ago, but the course that year wasn't as hilly as this year's model.

In *my* version of training plan, I predicted 3:15, allowing to having done a 50k just 2 weeks before, in other words, it would be a nice, easy, long run. Coach put down 2:45, and said that if it took me less time than that, to run later to make it up. He also said to go out nice and easy and run hard on the second half.

I looked at this and thought, well, that would be really nice if I could do all that. I made an elevation map of the race a week prior and here it is:
So just under half the gain of the 50k in half the distance. Fuck!

I've been nursing an issue with my right leg for a little over 4 weeks that has made walking down stairs (or running down steep hills) a little painful. I've been testing out different hypotheses as to what it is, but didn't have it figured out by the race, either that or my fixes hadn't yet kicked in.

So I went into the race figuring that the downhills might be touchy. Anyway, prior to the race, it appeared I was the oldest female registered for the race, and I didn't count on any other old ladies showing up. Also, the morning of the race, we finally had our first frost! But it wasn't that terribly cold, which makes for good running weather.

I wore my CW-X tights, trail shoes with gaiters, a light thermal top, a wind vest, light gloves and a lightweight hat. I get cold pretty easily, and since I knew we'd be in the woods, and there was wind, that I probably wouldn't get too hot. I laugh at people who show up in shorts for these things. Kudos to them, but you will see me in tights even with temps in the 50's!

I carried 3 hours worth of Infinit, figuring that would last me for 3.5 hours if something went horribly wrong. Although my right leg was giving me fits at home before the race, once I got there and started running, it felt fine to run on. So this is why I suspect it's more a nerve thing, but I digress.

I started out easy, and experienced hills pretty quickly, some that were so steep (10% grade plus--see here for what different grades look like) that it was hard just to walk up! About 40 minutes in, there was a large puddle, or should I say a pond, on the trail. Trying to go off trail through whatever was growing was not possible, so we had to run through it. Wet feet! Yay! At least it wasn't cold enough for this to cause problems, but of course I hoped I didn't develop any blisters because of it.

About an hour in, my legs felt absolutely dead. I did a 1:30 run on Wednesday and a 3 hour ride on Thursday, and by the end of Friday, I'd racked up 13.75 hours of training (M-F), and I'd run a 50k 2 weeks before, so this didn't particularly surprise me. Still, it gave me pause as to whether I had enough fuel onboard and the night before. I carbed up at dinner on Friday, and on race morning, I had my typical egg, English Muffin, and a can of Coke. I suppose I could have tried to choke down more calories, but I didn't really feel I was out of fuel. So I just soldiered onward.

I did have to stop to pee (and poop!) about 1:10 in, but it was quick (and dirty ha ha). Since I didn't want to lose time (I don't think this cost me more the 30 seconds), I just pulled up my pants, knowing I'd probably chafe, but too bad. This probably contributed to the feeling of dead legs I'd had earlier, because after this, I felt a bit better in the legs department.

I got to the halfway point exactly 1:30, and thought, OK, so I can do this in 3 hours. There were at least 5 people milling around the one aid station. Because there was a 50k going on at the same time, there was candy, pretzels, cookies and assorted other stuff, but the people who were there were 25k runners, and it made me laugh that they were all chowing down! I just refilled my water bottle, chugged 2 cups of Pepsi (not Coke, but still YUM!) and got out of there. I think that because of my quick stop, that put me ahead of 3 or 4 people.

Now, coach told me to go hard on the second half, but I seriously didn't think that was possible. Still, I got it in my head that I could walk less and just keep it going and that might allow me to negative split. Since the course was an out and back, I was going to face the same hills and such on the way back.

After maybe 2.5 miles on the way back, I could see 3 more runners ahead of me, and I was closing in on them, and that got me motivated to try and pass them. All it took was really powering up the steep hills and then resuming running immediately at the crest. I seriously enjoyed passing people on the uphills, especially since I needed to take it easy on the downhills because of my knee issue.

And the knee issue was there, but it wasn't bad, and besides, the trail was leaf covered, so you couldn't tell what you were running on, so I ran gingerly on the downhills anyway. On the plus side, my quads never hurt during the race!

So I did pass those 3 people and was re-passed by only one person. Because of the wet feet, the little gel toe separator that I have to wear to prevent my right foot from hurting from the Morton's neuroma came off the toe and was moving around in my sock. But it stayed under my small toes, and I knew what it was, so I just acknowledged it and kept going. I hoped the ball of that foot wouldn't start to hurt, and it never did.

As I got close to the end (based on my watch), I failed to recognize where I was. Funny how that works in a trail race! Same thing happened to me in the 50k--I knew I was close, but nothing looked familiar! But I kept seeing the trail marking, so knew I was probably going the right way, until I saw the orange plate that said, "Aid station 1km."  I'd only seen this for the 7.5 station, and in my dazed head I thought maybe I'd made a wrong turn. But a girl came up on me and said we were 1km from finishing and then I was happy! I didn't look at my watch the entire second half, just tried to go a bit faster than on the way out, and when I finished, I'd gone 6 minutes faster for the second half!

So 2:54, and I checked on my 2014 result for an easier course and it was 2:57, and I thought I was in BETTER running shape 2 years ago! So yay, thanks Coach! Turns out I was the oldest female finisher, so I won my AG and got a nice beer glass, and I was 21/34 women overall, so not too shabby!

The medal and shirt are so cute! Before the race, they had a few packages of tiny dinosaurs and you could take one, so I took the orange one that looks to be the Dilophosaurus. They had beer for us at the finish, and I drank one after I had some of the hot soup. In the photo above, you can see I've rolled up my gaiters to let my shoes dry a bit and so I could take the chip strap off.

Well now back to my knee...when I got home from the race it hurt like a mofo. I iced, then later in the day stretched and then pain walking down stairs! So I've concluded that what's going on is a seriously tight/messed up soleus, with maybe a little participation from the popliteus. So, I keep on my stretching and trigger point work and hopefully lick this thing in short order. I know my knee was a bit wonky since it's been trying to readjust after correcting my foot mechanics. So today, I'm just left with sore quads--but not like after the 50k.

And now back to the rest of my training shit...look what I did for WEEK ONE WITH THE COACH:

He doesn't give me strength workouts (that's on my dime), but still, that was some serious shit! Honestly, when I saw it at the beginning of the week, I was like, "OK...sure..." but then I did it! Also, I must add that this week I also started my extra strength work towards my handstand and pullup goal, and that made things entertaining with all the swimming--my serratus have been yelling at me! I really didn't feel recovered from the 50k all week, but I suspect that by tomorrow, I'll be all good. The 5k swim I did yesterday was a bit in slow motion, but it felt good, and it helped to shake out my legs.

So it's onward and upward to see what I can accomplish this week. I am already liking this coaching thing and think I will be motivated and coached and pushed to new levels of fitness! One day at a time!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Started with my new Coach!

As of 11/7, I am operating under orders from my new coach, Nick Logan. We met in person maybe 10 years ago at an Ironman after finding out about one another via the Slowtwitch forum (which I rarely view anymore). He was a serious weight lifter turned endurance athlete, and I was, well, a Crackhead. It was fun to meet!

Fast forward to 2014, and Nick was doing his first Ultraman, and he reached out to ME for any advice I might have. I'd trained for Ultraman while working full time (hint: REALLY FUCKING HARD!), and so I had one perspective on it, and I'd done it self-coached.

Move to 2014, where I once again thought I'd be able to do Ultraman Hawaii. That never panned out because work stress and other things conspired to knock that goal down. At the time, though, I did a concerted search for a coach and had considered Nick.

Having retired (permanently? who knows?) this year and feeling like I can give big goals another go, I decided Nick was the person I wanted to coach me. Why?

  • He knows how I typically like to train. I.e., A LOT.
  • He knows I've had some fairly good race results and that I consider myself fairly competitive.
  • He's done Ultraman and so in case I decide I want to go that route again, I consider him qualified to coach me.
  • He's morphed into quite a successful triathlete, and frankly, I wouldn't even consider being coached by someone who wasn't.
  • He's very down to earth--at least compared to me. 
We started the conversation after I announced I wanted to do BIG THINGS next year, and I decided that the formal time to start would be after I'd finished the 50k that I did on 10/29. The reason I picked that date was because I needed to see if I could even DO that race (I know, I know--self-confidence crisis!) and see where that left my fitness.

So we began talking in earnest last week while I was taking a huge rest week from the 50k. Whereas in my own training plan, I would continue a relative rest period this week, as it turns out, I'm not resting this week! But that's fine by me! Nick is testing me to see what I can do this week, and we're fine-tuning some aspects of how I need to operate in order for him to coach me as best as he can--things like equipment (gadgets, swim tools), workout terminology, and some other things like when can I ride Death Machine?

Meanwhile, on my own, I've started my quest to be able to do a handstand and 10 pullups. While it would be really cool if I accomplished this by the end of the year, in reality, I have no idea how long it will take. However, I have committed to almost daily work towards the goals. Right now this involves doing wall (or couch or shelves or whatever I'm around) planks, additional dumbbell rows (I already do those as part of my strength training so now I just get to do them every day!), Smith machine bodyweight rows (I'm doing these at my Y, but I'm going to see if I can rig up something at home or maybe it's time to get a squat rack) and dead hangs. I already know that I have great core strength because the wall planks are more arm/upper back things than core things for me.

Another thing I'm working on is correcting a problem I'm having with my right calf/behind the knee area possibly popliteus muscle. I really don't think I'm injured, because sometimes the pain/discomfort is completely gone. I think it may be related to correcting my right foot mechanics and also driving more. In that vein, I'm adding additional stretches and body work to my daily routine, I've ditched the office chair again for the stability ball, and I've reinstalled a cushion in my car seat because bucket seats mess up my soleus and back (as they do to most people--contact me if you want to know more about this), and I've been driving a lot this year and forgot how that messes me up. I have 100% confidence I'll lick this all soon enough. It hasn't stopped me from running or biking.

I am really happy to be working with a coach again! Seriously, without me working, I'm inclined to train myself into the ground, so I need help to not do that, but I also am pursuing serious competitive goals and I needed help with that. And even though I am quite self-motivated, I am already finding that just having someone else to be accountable to is raising my motivation level, and possibly my work output! I so want to do well! I'm fortunate in that I only live .8 miles from my pool, can strength train (which I'm still doing on my own--Nick isn't writing workouts for that!) and do treadmill running at home, so I have zero excuses for not being able to do workouts. I can plod through snow if I have to to get to the pool!

This is all so exciting for me and gives me a renewed sense of purpose. Now if I can just figure out how to make time to study for that damn personal trainer certification...seriously, though, my life is so much better doing the amount of training I like to do while not working. When I did it working, I had ZERO play in my schedule. Now I can visit with friends and family regularly, attend beer club meetings, take time to chat with others before/after workouts instead of rushing off to get back to work, cook nice stuff for myself all the time, spend more time supporting my friends' athletic efforts, and I think, just be a better person. Because when all is said and done, that's why I do all this stuff--it makes me a better person. Now, sure, I want to be better than certain other persons in my age group, but other than that, I just want to be a stand-up human being, good friend and someone people like to be around.

EIGHT WEEKS TO DOPEY CHALLENGE! SHIT! This weekend I'm doing a 25k race that has almost half the climbing of the 50k I did just 2 weeks ago! I have no idea how I will do, but at least I know I won't be running on rocks! I've got 2 black toenails and 2 more that are sketchy that will probably join in after the 25k. Oh well! It's past flip flop season!

In summary, it's always a good thing to change things up--your S/B/R training, your stretching, your strength training. I dare you to make big changes of your own!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Las Vegas Backcountry 50k Trail Race 10/29/2016 Race Report and Trip Summary!

Holy fucking crap where do I start? A full set of photos from my trip are on Facebook.

I planned this race and trip for my 60th birthday extravaganza that I would share with my best friend, Susan, back in July. I don't remember if I planned this before or after I figured I'd go for a BQ and KQ next year, but it doesn't matter. At any rate, I knew I'd need to train like a mofo for 50k, and it actually frightened me a bit since I hadn't run a marathon since late 2013 during Ironman Cozumel.

I know there are a number of people who probably scoff at my crises of self-confidence when it comes to endurance sports, but honestly I do have them because I have a great deal of respect for "big" things, and a 50k is a big thing, especially when it's a trail race. I also have much respect for FAST things like sprint triathlons and 5k/10k races. Those things can put the hurt to you, and unless you intend to just waltz through them as a participant, they require devoted preparation and mental focus.

If you've never done a long, true trail race, let's just say that their objective is to fuck you up, especially if you don't train on the race's terrain. In my case, what I have available to train on near me is basically crushed limestone and the one big hill at Greene Valley. What I actually ran on in Rainbow Gardens (part of the Lake Mead Recreation Area) was rocks of every color, shape and size, plus sand plus rutted trails in the mountains! It was fantastic!

I'd tested out my gear and nutrition in training for the race. I did a number of weekends where I did back to back long-ish runs, although my actual longest run prior to the race was only 14 miles! I also did a lot of fast walking/hiking to get lots of time on my feet in training. My highest volume of combined running and walking was the week of 10/3, where I put in 11.4 total hours/59.62 miles. I figured that was enough for a 50k, and actually I could have run 50 miles depending on the terrain.

One of the things that's important about training for these big endurance festivals is putting the hurt to yourself in training, because you know it's going to hurt while you are out there racing, and if you can't handle pain, then you have zero business doing these things. Because the pain will come--both during and after the race itself. And you need to be OK with it. I definitely put the hurt to myself in training, and had sore legs for much of the lead up to the race itself.  I've done this sort of thing before, and I'm very attuned to my body, so I can tell the difference between actual muscle damage versus expected soreness and/or referred nerve pain. I never actually hurt myself in training, but I sure had referred nerve pain and soreness! But that's what swimming, stretching and massage are for!

Two weeks ago, I basically felt like crap, and every time I ran, I felt like crap. Like I had zero power or speed in me, and shit hurt. Shit hurt so much I was actually frightened I might not be able to finish the race. But that turned out to be normal shit, and I'd just forgotten that that's how tapers go much of the time (thanks Debby for reminding me of this!). But the Saturday before I left, I had a great 1-hour run on the treadmill, and that was a good confidence builder! But what the fuck--I was going to be running a lot farther than that!

I did a full week of formal heat acclimation, following the protocol I found in Meredith Kessler's book, "Life of a Triathlete." Buy the damn book and read it if you are at all serious about competing! The heat acclimation worked like a charm during the race--while it got probably into the lower 80's, I never felt hot, even at altitude (the race started at 2100 feet and we climbed another at least 1000 feet twice). I knew I was sweating, but I never felt icky (it's a "dry" heat, right?), and I never felt overly thirsty, although occasionally I would just shoot water over my lips and not drink it. I drank my custom Infinit mix for my race nutrition and nothing else. That worked perfectly!

For breakfast on race morning, I ate 2 hardboiled eggs, had a Powerbar Triple Threat and 300 calories of Ultrafuel. Plus maybe 3 mugs of coffee, and then I drank a bottle of water on the way to the race. I took a cab from Mandalay Bay because I knew I wouldn't be able to drive myself back, and my friend Susan was to pick me up.

I'd told Susan to be at the race 7 hours in, as I thought I should probably be able to finish in that amount of time. Where the fuck did I get that number? Fuck if I know! It just seemed reasonable, even though I had no fucking clue what the actual terrain was, since there is no course map published on the race website!

I got lucky with the cab driver, because he knew all about ultrarunners and didn't think I was too crazy until I told him about Ultraman. Then he put me in the loony bin category! I'd printed Google Maps directions to the race start and had him look at them knowing I had it precisely right and there was only one way to get there.

We got to the little kiosk--really just a tiny wooden stand--and the race people were setting up, so there were lights in the pitch black. It was beautiful to be able to see the stars not that far from Las Vegas! Of course, in the dark, I could not see where the hell we would be running! I met a man from England, Stuart, and we chatted, and I told him I hoped to go 7 hours (he was doing the marathon), and he said that would be a pretty good time for this race. I still had no fucking idea!

As I collected my bib, chip and shirt, as usual, I got the dry heaves, and one of the volunteers asked if I was OK, and I said this is normal for me prior to a race! I used the porta-potty a few times, the sun came up, and it was GO time. I could see the mountains off in the distance, but still had no clue what the route was. The marathon and 50k people started at 7:00, and the 5k, 10k and 1/2 marathon started at 7:30. Someone blew a horn and we were off!

Most people took off like jack rabbits. I had no fucking idea what I was going to be running on, and right away it was rocks. And you had to pick your way through them--these trails are also used by off road vehicles--and there were ruts from the heavy rain the week before, so it was all very uneven footing! And we started climbing pretty much right away, and I had sunglasses with me, but I never even wore them because I had to see what was right in front of me the entire time!

We did 2 out and back sections--the first was about 17 miles, and then the other part was about 14. I had (2) 3.5-hour bottles of Infinit concentrate--one with me, and one in my drop bag. I thought the drop bags were at the 16.5 mile mark, but I got there in 3.5 hours and the guy said it was 17 miles, so I was ahead of schedule! I only out and out walked the first section when I had to drink Infinit, which I slugged every 30 minutes. I could grab my water bottle whenever I needed to and sometimes carried it.

Oh--here's all my crap laid out the night before the race:
I had made 1/2 hour marks using a Sharpie on the 2 bottles that held the Infinit. You can see my trail shoes (with the neon laces) and the gaiters (with the skulls!) that I wore. I'd worn my entire outfit/kit in training, so nothing felt weird on race day.

Anyway, I'm running the first out and back and just laughing to myself inside because I'm thinking I had never run on anything like this ever before! But I just ran a comfortable pace with a short stride and picked my way through the rocks and didn't worry about where other people were. But after maybe 8 miles I started passing people. Not that I was going very fast, I was just steady and not slowing down. I passed my buddy Stuart, and I think he was a bit surprised. The marathon and 50k people were on the same course through maybe 21 miles. There was a guy I kept leap-frogging with that I eventually passed for good right before the marathon turnaround.

Anyway, the scenery was gorgeous, and it looked different in each direction, because you had to pay so much attention to your footing and you could only look around so much. But it was stunning! The entire time I was out there I felt so grateful to have the fitness and financial means to be in such a beautiful place running! I held back on shedding any tears, though, until I was maybe a mile from the finish.

So I finish the first like 17 miles and I'm excited and thinking I can finish this fucker! Maybe I don't suck so bad! And while the first out and back had a decent climb in it, it was NOTHING compared to the second part! As soon as I grabbed my second 3.5-hour bottle of Infinit, we started going UP! And it was this big fucking mountain and I thought, holy shit how high are we going? But I kept picking my way uphill and didn't walk too much on the way out on this section, and I totally spaced where the marathon turnaround was but wondered why I didn't keep seeing some people...oh well, I never expect my brain to function 100% during these things!

So we climbed for maybe 4 miles and then we went downhill to the turnaround and then it was back the fuck uphill again. Holy fuck, by this time my legs hurt like mofos. Actually, they'd begun to hurt about 3 hours in, but I expected it. I alternated between quads hurt, lack of hip flexors (always a fun feeling!), and even my adductors were pinging me because of all the stabilization I needed to do with the uneven footing! I did end up walking uphill maybe 30 minutes on the way back, but felt that I wouldn't be running much faster, so I just kept going. I even passed a few people while I was walking!

All I could remember about this section of trail to gauge where the fuck I was was by the humps around me. I knew there was a major hump at the start of this section, and I was like WHERE THE FUCK IS THAT HUMP? And I was starting to become mentally weary and worry about whether I would go over 7 hours because I didn't want Susan to have to wait for me! But then the big mountain receded from view and I knew I was almost home, and this song came on my MP3 player (it was set to shuffle):

and then I started bawling my eyes out because I was looking around me and it was so beautiful and I was going to finish this thing and now I just kept running and when I finally saw the cones with arrows for the finish line I was so happy! I thought I would go under 7 hours, and we had to climb this stupid little hump that you almost had to clamber up, and then it flattened out for about .2 miles to the finish, and I knew people could see me and that I had to run it all, and now NOTHING HURT ANYMORE and I just kept going and I broke 7 hours!
I could see Susan standing there and truly I was relieved she hadn't needed to wait for me any longer! Stuart was there with her. Before the race, I found out that Stuart had taken a cab as well, so I told him he could get a ride with me back to his hotel, and he'd already met Susan before I arrived! I asked how they knew who they were, and Stuart had overheard Susan asking about where I was on the course (they had no idea as there were no interim timing mats), and he approached her and all was well!

A volunteer told me I was 3rd woman overall so I got a stainless steel cup award. Here's my medal and shirt and stuff:

The medal is a piece of rock! How cool is that?

I am still overwhelmed that I was able to do this thing in a respectable time and now know that I can go the distance again! This race was so fucking hard that it will make Disney seem like a cake walk! I am so grateful that I can do this stuff and that I have such great friends that support me in my insanity. Honestly, there is nothing better than having your best friend waiting for you at the finish line! I told Susan how much that motivated me, but I know she knows that a lot of it was my usual (over-?) preparation and mental toughness. I am just happy that maybe I got all that back and can keep going at this shit for a few years. This was an amazing experience and I get why some people only do these hard trail races--they really are a different animal. I don't know when I'll go back and do this race again--I definitely want to--but now I am thinking I want to climb Mount Whitney, which isn't too far from Susan's house. Maybe 2018. It would be nice to add another different endurance event!

Hope you enjoyed reading, and GET OUT THERE AND RUN IN BEAUTIFUL PLACES!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Hay is in the Barn...Almost Too Much Hay!

Recall that I officially began my training for the upcoming 50k on 9/5. So I've trained for 6 weeks for it, and during that time I only biked around 3 hours per week. Below is what I anticipated doing for those 6 weeks side by side with what I actually did:

Now, in pencil on my paper calendar view, I'd added in anticipated walking time just to add to my totals, so that is one reason there's a big disparity in actual vs. planned. In reality, the actual running time isn't that huge--my maximum was 6.33 hours. That's not huge running. However, that represents a 35% increase in run volume over 6 weeks. That's quite a bit. That's why my legs are still a bit of a mess. But my legs will recover--what's really messed up is my mid- and lower-back. I didn't figure that out until a few days ago, but I'm glad I did so I can take care of it.

In those 6 weeks, I attended 3 Ironman races--Wisconsin, Chattanooga and Louisville! And those weekends definitely contributed to slightly overdoing things, but I expected that. But I wouldn't trade those experiences for the world! I so enjoy helping others reach their goals and providing some bright spots in a tough day.

Now it's my turn. I ran a 1/2 marathon the first week and did OK, and then I ran one yesterday and was a bit slower. I didn't expect big things, and my legs told me I am not really tapered down yet. That will happen this week in a big way! And it's my birthday week! Which kinda sucks, since it's nice to have cake and champagne and stuff on one's birthday, but I really won't be training enough to do that. I'm actually already watching what I eat (and drink) so I don't put on any weight during these next 2 weeks, and I'm slated for a big birthday bash in Vegas after the race. So it's not like I'll be suffering this week!

I got a bit nostalgic on Facebook yesterday and posted some pictures from 2010 Ultraman Canada. I was just thinking about it and how even when I did it I couldn't believe I was actually doing it. Now I'm seriously considering Ultraman Hawaii in 2018, and if all goes well and I feel I have the stamina to train properly for it (just to finish--that is all I need to do!), then I will do it. If I qualify for IMHI at IMWI next year, then I'll do both IMHI and UMHI in 2018. They are about a month and a half apart. IMHI would be a great tuneup for UMHI. I would probably just stay in Kona between the 2 races because why bother flying back and all that shit? Wouldn't that just be tits and a half? I think so!

But first I need to conquer this 50k. I'm sure I can get it done, but I don't want it to be a walking festival. I'm shooting for 7 hours which is a 13:33 pace. I think I can do that, but we shall see!

Meanwhile, the order of business for me right now is to rest as much as possible--this means sleep (and I'm sleeping a bit more already), laying around being lazy, and if I'm not feeling it in a workout, to just cut it short. But also watch my diet. The lighter I am for this next race, the better I'll do. And I could stand to lose 2-3 pounds. I am not TRYING to lose weight during taper, but it might just happen. We'll see.

I was kind of a maniac this weekend considering I should have been tapering already. I ran the 1/2 marathon on Saturday, and then I walked for about 45 minutes right afterwards. You might think walking is no big deal, but try that sometime and keep doing it after all your long runs and get back to me. Then today I was supposed to do a fun 5K run in a corn maze, but after driving 60 miles, I get there and it was cancelled due to all the rain we had last night and this morning. Oh well! So on the way home, I'm thinking I could just rest and do nothing, but the temperature was quite mild today, so after a brief stop at home, I went to Waterfall Glen and ran about 3.5 miles and walked about 3.5. I felt fine doing it (albeit not too fast running--maybe 10mpm), and didn't immediately feel tired when I finished. But then about an hour later, I was like FUCK I'M TIRED! And I could feel my quads telling me maybe I should have rested but oh well. So I stretched and rolled and poked and massaged everything thoroughly and I am now being a lazy bum.

I was admonished to mention a long-lost friend, Susan Airheart, who I met at IMLP 2009 and saw at IMLOU just last week! She's a great lady and is one of the few people I actually consider taking advice from! On that subject--I've chosen a formal mentor for myself--William Pruett--because he knows his shit about all things triathlon from Ironman on up, and he's been a good friend for over 10 years. Between the 2 of them and my coach, Nick, I think I am going to do well these next few months.

But first a 50k! In Vegas!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Excessive Ironman Spectating

When this is most of your laundry from TWO DAYS of training and spectating, I think it means you're doing it right!

I love spectating at an Ironman race and supporting friends and strangers! However, I always end up training/exercising more than I have scheduled for myself and end up in a calorie hole the day after.

On Sunday, the day of Ironman Louisville, I took in:

  • a Balance Bar (about 225 calories) and a hard-boiled egg (about 72 calories) for breakfast. 
  • I drank 24 oz. of Infinit (about 240 calories) while running and walking before and during the swim (until about 8:30)
  • I drank 2.beers mid-day (1 prior to driving around the bike course and one with lunch) for about 280 calories
  • I had 2 fish tacos, a good number of chips and salsa, a little bit of refried beans and about 1/3 cup of rice for lunch. I'm guessing 600 calories?
  • I did not eat dinner, but at the end of the day had some really good pretzels with sinful cheese dip. Let's say 300 calories.
Well that's a problem--that only adds up to about 1700 calories taken in for the day. I need at least 1800 just to survive without exercising.

The KNOWN exercise (there was more walking, but how much who knows?) that I did:
  • 1 hour of running
  • 1.5 hours of walking (probably more). This was the deliberate stuff that I actually measured. I'd planned on 30 minutes, but then Shelley and I walked back to our hotel from the race site.
  • 19.5 miles of biking. Let's call that an hour
Let's say I burn 500 calories/hour for the running and biking and 320 for the walking. So I burned about 1500 calories that I know of. Huh. BAD CALORIES INTAKE!!! So at the end of the day, I was at least 1500 calories down. I probably depleted most of my glycogen reserves.

On Monday morning, I ate another Balance Bar and an egg, then I had a McGriddle when we stopped on the way from Louisville to Indianapolis. As I was driving from Indianapolis back home, I drank a 24-oz. bike bottle of Gatorade. I got home and felt sated and not hungry. Then I went for a swim. 2800 yards. I drank maybe 4 oz. of Gatorade. As soon as I got out of the pool, I was like hmm...I think I'm bonking. And I was. I drank some more Gatorade, showered, managed to stretch for 5 minutes in the sauna then I rushed home to eat. That was the point I realized I was physically tired, too! So while I thought I might get in a short run, I decided it was best to just bag it for the day and give my legs some rest. It's been 13 days since I didn't run, walk or bike on a given day!

Last week, I put in 39 miles of running, 20 miles of walking, 78 miles of biking, 10,300 yards of swimming and about 1:45 of strength training. Well no wonder the fuck I was bonking yesterday after spectating for a day!  I should really know better by now to try and eat even more when I am doing that. I did OK for breakfast and the big lunch, but dinner FAIL. It's just hard to stop for dinner when you are busy looking for people you know and cheering on the strangers! That's ok--it's well worth the sacrifice! Note to self: next time I do this, at lunch I will get a sandwich to carry and eat later. 

Today, I'm back on my game. I am actually tapering this week for my 50k, although I am racing a 1/2 marathon on Saturday and doing a 5k as a fun run on Sunday. I want to do well at the 1/2 marathon, even though I'm swimming 5k the day before. Such is my life! Also, unfortunately, I will be attending a funeral for a friend's son who just passed away. It is things like that that make me so grateful for the life I have.

Speaking of grateful, last Friday I decided it was time for me to knuckle down once I was back from Louisville. So today I wrote 10 things for me to do on the big mirror in my bedroom. They are probably a little hard to read:
what with the light and mirror and all. What they say are:
  1. No more candy. I am giving the rest away. I really don't need it at all. See #2.
  2. >Fruit which means eat more fruit. I have not been eating enough.
  3. Quit being fat. Yes, I can stand to lean out a bit more. If I do #1 and #2, that will take care of this.
  4. Read! I have so many books that are unread or started. I don't really WATCH much TV, but I have it on, so I will focus more on just turning the damn thing off and reading the books! The 2 I am going to finish up are "Life of a Triathlete" by Meredith Kessler and "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" by Richard P. Feynman.
  5. Go Hard! 
  6. Enjoy!
  7. Be Grateful
  8. Love
  9. Don't Give a Fuck
  10. Win!
That about covers me through at least January; probably more like March! At that point, I suspect I'll be in some pretty intensive training and I should be able to cross out #1 and #3. #4 might go by the wayside, too, but the rest should remain pretty much constant.

I am happy I'm not traveling out of town for 3 weeks. Even though I'm racing this weekend, and my birthday is the following weekend, not spending hours driving and being away from home will give me some much needed rest. And I can focus more on my own training and racing. I still have planning to do before this weekend's racing, and of course, for the 50k. But that's fun stuff! Today (aside from what I've already accomplished) I get to run and bike, and I'm breaking in new running shoes. That will be fun! Of course, obsessing about races burns calories, so I'll stay on top of that, too!

Have a great day and week!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Let's Keep This Thing Rolling!

Let's see--my last post was on Friday. A lot has happened since then! On Saturday, I ended up running on the treadmill for 2:10 and covered just over 12 miles (so nice, easy pace), and then I walked 6 miles in 1:20. I had fun while I was on the treadmill at my YMCA, and periodically had visitors, so I asked one guy to snap a picture of me:
I think I ate everything in sight once I was home! My legs were sore, but I expected that!

Then on Sunday, I went to Greene Valley so I could do my second long run in the flats and then end by walking up and down the big 1-mile hill. Only I really ended up more or less running up and down the hill! My flatness running time was about 9.5 miles in 1:30 and then I did another about 5 miles up and down the hill in :57. I had a great time on Sunday, too--the weather was great, and I tested out some other equipment that I might use in my 50k this month--I forgot I had the awesome trail hat. It has a skirt, but I didn't need it on Sunday. And I wore the arm coolers--not sure I will need them, but they felt nice on a cool day. And of course the Fuel Belt loaded with Infinit. Here I am all decked out:

The above pic is while I was running in the flats. Here I am at the top of the hill. I ditched the Fuel Belt and just carried a 12-oz. bottle. What a gorgeous day it turned out to be!

So for the weekend, I put in a total of about 32 miles on my feet. Just over 50k! A FANFUCKINGTASTIC RUNNING WEEKEND!

On Monday, my legs were predictably trashed, but I still managed some good training. I swam 2900 yards in the morning, and it felt great. I did 10 minutes of water running when I was done, and that felt great on my legs. After I ate something (it seems I am always eating something!), I decided that actual running was not in the cards, so instead I walked 4.5 miles in just over an hour. I enjoyed it! I was dressed as if I were going to run, and I'm sure it puzzles people to see me just walking dressed that way. Then, just after lunch, I did 30 minutes of strength training. I need to stay on top of that!

On Tuesday, my legs were still a bit rough, but I figured I'd be good running as long as it wasn't the treadmill or pavement. I did 21 minutes of strength training in the early morning, then I did about 1.5 hours of yard work (cutting down perennials and bundling the stems), then I suited up to go running. I headed to Greene Valley again (I LOVE that place!), and parked at the Dog Park and ran from there. The objective was to run for 50 minutes, but I ended up going for 55 minutes because I made a wrong turn at one point, which made me laugh! My legs were a tad sore but nothing bad. I got home, ate something (AGAIN!), and then I headed out to bike on Death Machine for 1:30. I don't think I rode very hard, but I sure was happy to be on a bike again!

Yesterday I was scheduled for a 2900-yard swim, a 1:30 run and an hour of walking. That's a lot for a day, and in retrospect, I should have used Infinit on the run. Keep reading!

Here is the sky in the morning. Beautiful! It portended a great day, and a great day it was!

I did the swim, and it went quite well. Every swim I do I use paddles for at least 1200 yards. It keeps me strong. After I swam, I was really hungry, so I had a Hot Pocket. My body feels very revved up now--I am just moving A LOT! Then I mowed the lawn. Even though it's not what I consider exercise to mow, my body is in the mode that ANY MOVEMENT IS A FUCKING WORKOUT, and in retrospect I should have eaten more before I ran. But I drank a Coke next.

Then I headed to Waterfall Glen. In the back of my mind, I was thinking if I felt good enough I could extend the run to 1:45 which would mean I could run less on this Saturday, but that didn't happen. I did an out and back to Mile 3, and when I was just 2 miles in I felt light-headed. I did a body check--am I sick? NO. Am I dehydrated? NO. Must be lack of calories. At least I knew it. When I got back to my car, I ate a gel, drank half a bottle of water and chugged more Gatorade. Then I headed back out going clockwise (backwards!) and was going to just run 3 more miles, but I got motivated to get some of my walking done during this stretch. So I ran out for about 1.5 miles, then I walked about a mile out, walked about a mile back, and then finished running. Finally, I walked another 2 miles. During the second stretch, it got quite warm out and the sun finally came blazing out! As it was, I got some more suntan, and it felt good! All in all, I covered 9.2 miles running in 1:30 (a nice, easy pace for me) and just over 4 miles walking in 1:01. A good day on the feet!

When I was back at my car the final time, I finished the bottle of water, chugged some more Gatorade and ate a piece of string cheese I had in the cooler. I got my bottle of Endurox R4 out of the cooler for the drive home.

On the way home, I stopped at Brookhaven Market to pick up some salmon caviar that I have become addicted to. When I was on my way in to the store, a man going to his car saw me and I heard him say, "What the hell!" I think he was just reacting to my mirrored sunglasses and the neon green hat that are in the picture above from Sunday's run. It made me laugh. I suppose I looked like some kind of alien being! Either that or I looked like the biggest badass that man had ever seen. Honestly, I think there are times when I DO look like that! I guess I wasn't smiling much at the time because I WAS FUCKING HUNGRY! Never get in my way after I've been working out for hours and I'm hungry.

I finished the Endurox R4 on the way home, then I showered (BEST SHOWER EVER!), ate some caviar and then a Lean Cuisine and had a beer. Then I did some more light yard work after donning compression tights. While I felt overall tired, my legs did not feel too bad! And they don't feel bad at all today! They were a little stiff when I first got out of bed, but there is no quad soreness!


Today I just have a 1:30 ride, and I will probably ride LGL if it's nice outside. If not, then I'll do a Sufferfest video on the trainer. I will do :30-:45 of strength training and get organized for the weekend.

On Saturday, I'm scheduled for a 2 hour run and 1.5 hours of walking, but then I'm driving for hours, so I think I'll walk 45 minutes today so I only have to walk 45 minutes on Saturday. I signed up for this virtual run where the entry benefits bone marrow recipients. I get a bib (below) and a medal! I want to get this done on Saturday, so however long it takes me to run 13.1 miles is what I'm going to do!
I will wear the bib while I'm running whether it ends up being on a treadmill at my YMCA or outside somewhere. If I run outside, I suspect I'll go back to Waterfall Glen so I can get in another dose of hills. I LOVE FUCKING HILLS!!! Well, not really all the time, but I try and alternate flat and hilly. And yesterday had some hills, but I NEED MORE HILLS!!!

I seem to be in a training groove right now--at some level, I can't believe I'm able to do all this--but on another, I've been going at it for years, so I should be able to do this. I won't really know the outcome of any speed improvements until next week when I actually race another 1/2 marathon--that will be interesting! In the meantime, I just need to keep eating constantly to fuel the machine! Time to eat again!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Training Update

I made this meme this morning. It cracks the fuck out of me! I thought, "What would Thor say about not giving a fuck? THIS! Imagine Chris Hemsworth saying it!

I am now only 4 weeks out from a 50k. My last marathon was at Ironman Cozumel in December, 2013, and it wasn't pretty. My Morton's Neuroma was well ensconced, and my hypothyroidism wasn't well-managed. The race wasn't a disaster, but it was a big disappointment.

Fast forward to today. My Morton's Neuroma appears to be well under control. This past Saturday-Sunday I ran 3:03 and walked 2:12. Actually, I'm pretty sure I walked even more during Ironman Chattanooga. I also biked 25 miles on Sunday during the race. That is a lot of time on feet, and my right foot was just fine! I was in running shoes while I was on the bike to make things even worse, and a lot of that biking was done standing up.

In terms of the hypothyroidism, in cooperation with my doctor, I'm getting things checked frequently, and will stay on an every 8 weeks schedule from now on, as I'm formally training, and it's critical I be regulated properly. Prior to my recent test, I didn't get tested since April, and that was when I really started ramping things up. I knew I was out of whack recently due to the sleep disturbances and maybe 1-2 excess pounds. I know that sounds ridiculous but I know my body extremely well, and know that I manage my calorie intake really well, and with all the training I've been doing, there is no way I should be putting on weight. But it's not much, so all good.

Kudos to me for tracking my sleep and TSH levels against my training volume, because I can see when I'm likely to get out of whack, so hopefully I can manage this well now. I don't lose energy when I go more hypothyroid because for me it's mind over matter, but the body finds a way to punish you for trying to do more than it can physiologically support, and the way my body punishes me is with lack of sleep and a few extra pounds.

My quads were really sore through Wednesday this week from all the running on pavement and the standing up biking. I felt really good yesterday, so good in fact, that I lifted legs and then did a Sufferfest video--Local Hero--and did it quite well. The video SUCKS BAD. It is fucking hard, and yet I cranked it out really well. And then my quads were sore again! BRILLIANT!

Today I was scheduled for another 5200 yard swim and a 50 minute run. I was wary of my ability to perform either well after getting only 6 (maybe 5.5--not sure--hours of sleep) and with toasted legs. But I usually feel pretty good once I get in the pool, so I got in with a Coke in a bike bottle and got started. I really tried to dial down the intensity since I didn't care how fast I went this morning. But guess what? I'M GETTING FASTER AGAIN! FUCK YEAH! I know from past experience that I only get faster swimming when I'm putting in at least 9k/week, and I'm up around 11k now. And I'm only doing 3 swims per week--the big, huge one, and 2 shorter ones which this week were 2900 yards each. It's nice to see that despite the punishment I'm dishing out to myself that I'm improving again!

I decided to cut the run short by 5-10 minutes depending on how I felt. I got on the treadmill (it's been miserable cold, rainy, shit pissing fucking weather here) and fired it up and felt surprisingly OK! I mean my legs hurt, but running didn't feel that bad! I did Zone 1 and Zone 2 stuff on the treadmill for 26 minutes then went to the indoor track. I did a mile as 4x400, then a 200. Now, when rested I can run those things at 8:00 or less, but today was 8:30 which is good considering. I ended up running 45 minutes in all, and it wasn't bad.

After working out this morning, a new friend, Lucy, who is the grandma of a baby girl down the street bought me lunch. We had a great time and then I took a nap and I am coming around again. Now I can stare at my fucking training for the weekend--a 2:00 run/1.5 hour hike and a 1:30 run/1 hour hike. WHO THE FUCK WRITES THIS SHIT???

We are supposed to have rain tomorrow but dry on Sunday. My preference would be to do the longer of the 2 sessions on Saturday, but that will mean treadmill. Then again, running on treadmill will ensure I keep my pace down so maybe that's a good thing. As it is, I get eye rolling when someone at my Y hears I'm running 2 hours, but then when I tell them I'm going to walk another 1.5, I dunno, they might think I'm batshit crazy. But I am, and I COULD NOT GIVE A FUCK. I will have to take a cooler with me, because the one thing (and I've only learned ONE FUCKING THING IN ALL THESE YEARS) I've learned is that cold fluids keep me happy during long runs on the treadmill. So I guess I just made my decision! I will start off with a Coke and then degenerate to caffeine-laced Infinint. OH JOY!

Apparently, I did training like this back in 2009 when I was getting ready for a 50-miler. But now I feel like I'm actually in better shape than I was then. Isn't that weird? Maybe because I've had 2 relative "rest" years ("rest" in Crackhead terms is I'm still training way more than you, so shut the fuck up) or maybe because I'm turning 60 and it's magical or maybe there are unicorns in my butt. I just don't know. Yes, blah blah blah I have the most amazing base known to mankind, and that's true, but a huge part of this is MENTAL. And I'm mental, for sure! Seriously, I have to be of the mindset that I can do what I need to do to excel! My coach already has my psychology nailed--when I asked him if I could do Triple T, he said it would be a good training weekend. Then a few hours later he said, "But you have to win." I told him I can probably win my AG and hopefully also the Masters Female division. The first rule of winning is that you have to BELIEVE you can win. For the 4 stinky multisport races I did this summer, I would say that at the first one I had no idea but felt good, for the 2nd I felt pretty confident, and then the last 2 I wouldn't say I thought I was a shoo in but I was VERY confident.

But, I have to take things one day at a time. If I can nail all the running this weekend, I feel confident in my ability to conquer the 50k and be well trained to begin a final push for Dopey Challenge.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ironman Chattanooga Training and Spectating Report - Part 2

Saturday, September 24
On this day, my training called for a 1:45 run and 1:00 of walking. Lori needed to do a short brick workout and then check in her bike and her bags. The night before, both Lori and I took a melatonin and an Advil PM, so we slept like dead people with no alarm set. I got 9.5 hours of sleep! It's been months since I slept that long!

Since it was going to be FUCKING HOT again, I didn't want to use my Fuel Belt, so I dump the Gatorade out of a 12-oz. bottle and filled that with Infinit. That would last me for about an hour or so of running and walking.

After some breakfast (of course, I was STARVING when I woke up!), Lori set up her transition area and got her bike ready, and I was all suited up to run:

Lori left, then I left. I headed approximately northeast from Karen's house. I knew it would be hilly. It actually wasn't that hot when I started running at around 8:45. It was beautiful where I was running, but I had to run on the road which I almost never do, and it was cambered, and so I had to try and switch sides of the road otherwise my legs and feet would be fucked up. I ran out for about 30' then walked up this switchback that was VERY steep! It went up onto the mountain thing, and I stopped when I was standing on about a 25% grade. I could barely walk back down! But it was beautiful. On the way back, Lori drove by on her way to check in her bike. She remarked that that was about as fast as she'd be running (I was on a hill again!) on race day. I ran back and reloaded another 12-oz. bottle of Infinit. The first part of my run was 1:00.50 running and 14:17 of walking.

For the second part of my run, I went the other way from Karen's house, as it should be more flat, although as it turns out it was an uphill grade all the way out. On either side of the road were these very steep hills and at some point I decided I needed to go up one of them just to change things up. It was fun, as at the top, I was barely running, but it was still great!

For the second part of my run, I ran 46:27 and walked 45:55. I alternated running and walking on the second part since I was on asphalt again. I knew my legs would be sore from this, but oh well! Of course, during the second part of the run it was FUCKING HOT! I think I achieved a whole new level of suntan, too!

Back at the ranch, I showered, Lori came back, and she and I went into town and decided we'd get lunch and get carry out for our dinner later so she could have all her food in early, as is customary when you wake up around 3AM the next day for an Ironman. We went to a Mediterranean restaurant, Taziki's, where of course, I ate twice as much as Lori (I had dolmades appetizer and then a sandwich with rice on the side and she had only hummus):

Lori got a salad for later and I got another sandwich (it seems I eat a lot of sandwiches on these junkets). Lori needed to get some yellow ribbon that she wanted to wear in honor of her dear son, Patrick, who sadly passed away this summer, so we headed to Walmart. When we got to the mall where it was, Lori asked me if we had time for a mani/pedi. Hey--it's HER race, we can do whatever she wants! So we parked and decided she'd get the pedi and me the mani. When we got in there, I asked if we could have a beer while we were prettied up and they said YES. So I walked next door to a Mexican restaurant, and they said they wouldn't let me take it out, so I walked some more (did I mention it was FUCKING HOT again?), then ended up walking to the Walmart where I picked up a 6-pack of Sam Adams Cherry Wheat (one of my favorite beers), and I also got the yellow ribbon that Lori needed. On the way out, I spotted one of the lifeguards from the Y and he recognized me! That made me smile (as do most things, except for certain things that don't). I gave Lori a beer and I picked the colors for our nails (neon green with green sparkles!), and we got fixed up:

We returned to the ranch where Lori had to get her final bag preparation done and I needed to get my shit together for race day! Did I mention my legs were already sore? Oh well, too fucking bad--I'm training for a 50k and that is going to be happening a lot! Here is Lori doing her final prep:
And that was all she wrote for Saturday.

Sunday, September 25
Holy shit! I swear that the way I do it when I'm in training that spectating and supporting at an Ironman is just as hard as the race! It takes much coordination, costume changes and leaves little time for food. I awoke at maybe 2:30 before my alarm that was set for 3:15. My first job was to have coffee ready for when Lori awoke. First I made mine, then prepped my own breakfast, and when Lori got up I had her coffee all ready to go. I needed to be ready to get down to the swim start with Lori, and then I would come back and run, then I would go back with my bike for the marathon.

We managed to leave on time at 4:15 and first stopped at transition so Lori could put stuff on her bike. Meanwhile, Karen went and retrieved a friend of hers to take her to the swim start. Then Karen (bless her soul she was such a workhorse for us!) came back to get Lori and me and drive us to the swim start. The race had buses for the athletes, but we were on the EXTRA AWESOME VIP SERVICE PLAN, so we got dropped off! It was so cool for me to be able to stand in line with the athletes. I made a trip for Lori to calculate about how many people were in front of her, and I guessed about 130, so she was pretty much up front. I absolutely love this picture of Lori and me in line:
Lori is wearing a pair of my earrings, and I am wearing her Ironman necklace and a tie that she gave me to wear in honor of Patrick, who was a rabid Star Wars fan. I had made a yellow ribbon thing and pinned it to the tie. Both Lori and I were sporting some temporary tattoos. Lori has some actual ones, too, but I have got her in the habit of adding a few for race day. I have a huge stash of them!

Most people in line thought I was racing, but no! I was actually a little chilly so early in the morning, but nothing I couldn't handle, as I knew it would be FUCKING HOT before long!

Time passed and soon enough, it was time for Lori to get suited up to start her day. Here she is all ready to go!
I wished her luck, sent her off, then I began making my way to the start area. I would walk down the point to point swim course, try and catch Lori in transition and maybe a few other peeps, then hook back up with Karen to take me home so I could do my run from there. Usually, I like doing my run on race day on the actual run course, but since I would be walking first and didn't yet have my bike, I needed to go back home anyway, so I thought I'd run there. Besides, the marathon course for IMCHAT is FUCKING HILLY! I didn't really need to run more hills.

The walk along the swim course was more like 3 miles, as the path alongside the river was quite winding. Here is one sample of people in the river:
The athletes, due to the time trial start, were basically spread across the entire length of the swim course! I was worried I might miss Lori in transition, so I hustled on my sore legs to get to the cramped area where people were trying to catch their athlete in transition. I finally spotted Lori but didn't get a picture of her coming in as it happened so fast, but I did catch her running to her bike because my aerohelmet is easy to spot:
You can see her kind of center with the red and white stripes on the back of her head. I was happy I saw her, and hung out a little more, but then knew I had to go run while she was on the bike and then shower and eat and show back up on my own bike!

Phew, I'm exhausted just writing this!

Karen retrieved me, and by now it was FUCKING HOT. The expected high for the day was like 95. I felt so bad for the athletes--I would have melted in those conditions, as I did in 2005 when I DNF'ed Ironman Wisconsin, that had a real high of 110 that day!

I repeated the allegedly flat part of running from Karen's house and got in my planned additional walking as well. Holy fuck was I getting time on my feet or what? But that's what happens at an Ironman. It was FUCKING HOT and I showered and got my bike onto Karen's rack and she drove me back down. By this point, I am already an exercising machine, and I am the fucking Energizer Bunny. I have to be in order to do this!

Karen dropped me off and I found a place for a brew and some lunch:

It was the Brewhaus, and it was on the marathon course. They asked if I wanted to make a sign for my people, and I declined, since I'd be biking all over the fuck place and wouldn't be holding up any signs! Lunch was delicious, especially since I knew that was basically IT for me eating until after Lori was finished! You just don't have time to stop and get and eat food because you are afraid you will miss your athlete or others!

So now I started riding my bike. It was FUCKING HOT, but I was only wearing a swimsuit (as planned) so my peeps could spot me. Plus I was wearing the Star Wars tie. I'm sure I looked like a fucking goof, but as you know I COULD NOT GIVE A FUCK.  I managed to get to the first part of the run course and camp out around Mile 5. I was pretty sure I'd see Ryan first (he being the fastest of the bunch of my peeps), and I got a nice spot in some shade with a volunteer. It was amazing I didn't vomit it was so FUCKING HOT. Finally, I saw Ryan come cruising up:
I think he was happy to see me, and why not? He looked great, and FAST! Then I had to begin the process of waiting for Lori, who I expected next. It took much longer than I expected to see her, and I didn't even get any pictures of her at this spot, because next she started telling me what to do and when (which I fully anticipated so no worries!), and I said I'd do my best, even though it was already becoming difficult to navigate around this marathon course due to the bridges and roads and paths and such. But it was my job so I had to do it, right?

At this point, it would take me 2 months to write every detail, but let's just say I managed to see my friend, Rich, and I shepherded him at a point when he thought he was going to be chasing the cutoff, but he made it, and I saw Ryan again with just a few miles left to go in his race (he did AWESOME!), then I relocated Lori and rode near her for her last few miles all the way into the finish line, and I was SO HAPPY for everyone who managed to finish this race on a bitch of a day!

After Lori finished, it wasn't too long before Rich came out of transition and I was so happy to see he'd finished and he'd done SO WELL! Karen picked up Lori and me, and we went back to the ranch. I let Lori shower first, as she is the athlete. Meanwhile, I checked my bike computer and it turns out I'd ridden 25 miles! Who knows how much I walked and ran, too? All I know is I was tired and low on calories. After Lori showered, I did, and then we cracked open the bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne that I brought with me to celebrate:
Karen looked up a lot of results and there were a whole shitload of DNFs. So sad, but honestly, I expected it.

I will end here on a good note: I am SO PROUD of Lori, Ryan and Rich for finishing on such a tough day, and I am so honored I got to be out there for them. I think it was sometime during the marathon that I figured out another reason I love Ironman so much--not just doing it, but being there at a race--because I get SO MUCH ENERGY from it. These people give ME energy. It is the diametric opposite of people who SUCK your energy from you. That is why no matter how much training I am doing while I'm at one of these things, I feel great!

On that note, I hope you enjoyed reading this, and guess what? I'm going to do it again in 2 weeks at Ironman Louisville! However, that is not so far from home, so I will drive to Indianapolis on Saturday to meet Shelley, and then we will drive down and stay for Sunday. So I won't need to pack all my triathlon shit. I will still do a long run on Sunday, this time probably on the course, and I will be on LGL for the marathon. I am looking forward to it and I'm already tired in advance!

Ironman Chattanooga Training and Spectating Report Part 1

I decided months ago to attend this race in support of my 2nd BFF (or as we now like to say, my younger sister!) Lori, as she was racing and needed the support after one of her sons, Patrick, passed away this summer. I've supported Lori at Ironman Wisconsin twice, and she knows that I have pretty great Sherpa skills, and we would drive down together, so the trip was all set up.

A whole shitload of pictures have been posted to Facebook, so I'm not going to include them all in this post!

Wednesday, September 21
Lori flew from Denver (she now lives in Boulder) to Chicago and picked up a rental car. She stayed with her son, Jon, and planned to pick me up the next morning to drive down to Chattanooga.

I had moved my own workouts for the week around knowing that I wouldn't be doing anything on Thursday, so on Wednesday I ended up swimming, biking and running. I also needed to mow my lawn on Wednesday. Normally I would swim first thing in the morning, and I got ready to do that, but decided to go to Home Depot first to see if they could help me with a project. While cleaning out my garage in advance of Garbage Amnesty Day (you pay for 4 cans of garbage and then you can throw out unlimited amounts of crap), I found a long length of copper pipe. I decided I wanted to make it into a cube. My neighbor, Chuck, cut the pipe into 9" lengths for me, and so I need corners to connect the pieces. He delivered them to me all nice and bundled up!
I loaded my swim bag into my car and got to Home Depot around 6:15. I had fun chatting with 2 of the employees about how to do what I want to do. Bottom line was they don't have the parts I need. What I really want is a 3-way COPPER corner, but that doesn't exist, so I'm going to improvise with red PVC once I talk to a company who makes that about how I could join the two.

Anyway, I leave Home Depot and the sky is beautiful with the sun coming up, and I'm excited to get to swimming. I walk out to my car, get in and look north, and am like what the fuck is coming here? The sky was nearly black, so I check my phone and there is an ugly looking storm front coming down and we are going to get rain SOON. So I rush home so I can mow at least my back yard before it rains, because if I don't, I won't be able to do it and will need to ask my neighbor to do it. He would, but I didn't want to impose. So I get home, leaving my swim bag in my car, and I get to mowing all while looking at the approaching black clouds. For some reason, though, I wasn't scared. I would have taken pictures, but I didn't have time to stop! There was a shelf cloud, and then some mammatus clouds, and those things usually mean bad weather! But I managed to get my back lawn done (it took about 20 minutes) just as the raindrops began to fall, and then it started raining really good, and I was like PHEW! My front lawn would survive not being mowed since it had been really dry and it gets a lot of shade and never grows as much as the back.

So now I was like, OK when can I swim? I'd missed the morning lap time, but could resume again at 9:30 and basically had until 11:30. I decided I'd run first indoors since it was still raining, and then swim, and I would bike later. So I packed up run gear and headed to the Y. I ended up running 10' on the treadmill and then the rest on the indoor track. I got in a nice quickie of a track workout! I was actually running much faster than I've seen in MONTHS!  Yay for fucking me!!! After the track workout, I headed to the pool and swam my 2800 yard workout.

Then, I was scheduled for 1:30 of biking, but knew I'd end up biking during the marathon at IMCHAT, and I was now running out of time to be all packed for Thursday, so I cut the bike short to 1 hour and did it on the trainer to avoid spending extra time making a bottle and all that. Besides, the roads were now all wet and full of crap. I finished biking at about 1:30. Then I got to my almost final packing. I had all the food crap and gear crap organized. I also like my house to be relatively clean when I go away, so I worked on that.

Thursday, September 22
I woke up probably 2:30AM after sleeping for 6.5 hours. Yes, that is how I have been sleeping for almost 2 months now. I had my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) retested, and as I suspected, it's out of whack. My thyroid is UNDERperforming again. Seems odd, right? You'd think that since I'm sleeping less it would mean I was becoming hyPERthyroid, but I know my body, and what's happening is that since I've been training super hard, my poor thyroid is trying valiantly to keep up with me and failing. Anyway, in a few weeks as I increase my Synthroid dose, the sleeping issue should take care of itself.

But I needed the time on Thursday morning to choose my training and regular clothes and get it all organized, as Lori would be picking me up around 6:30AM. I got it all done and she arrived, and she'd rented a mid-size car, so all my crap fit in there. I had clothes to run in 3 times, La Gazza Ladra, which I'd ride during the IMCHAT marathon, my wetsuit in case I decided to swim in the river, a bag of fluids (Gatorade, water, Infinint, Endurox R4), a bag of bottles (bike bottles, Infinit mixing bottles and a Fuel Belt), a bag of car snacks, a bag of dry foods (including wine and champagne, crackers, bananas, English muffins), my regular clothes and a cooler containing cheese, Coke, water, hard boiled eggs (Lori and I love those for breakfast), sandwiches for the road, and some string cheese. I also brought my skull aerohelmet that Lori planned to wear unless she found a new one at the expo. All that crap fit into the car nicely!

The rest of the day was driving. It was about a 10-hour drive, and then we lost an hour moving into the EST timezone, to get to Hixson, TN. Lori's friend, Karen, graciously volunteered to put us up for the trip. We arrived, unpacked our stuff, and then Karen, Lori and I went into town and ate dinner right next to the transition area.

On our way back to the car, who should flag me down but one of my former coaches, Rich Strauss? It was nice to see him! He was there training for Kona and supporting his athletes. We chatted briefly, got a picture and were on our way:

I ended up staying up later than I should have, but it was worth it to spend time talking with Karen about some mutual bad life shit we have experienced. I then slept really well.

Friday, September 23
On this day, my training called for a 5k swim workout and a 40' run. I was aware of the athlete-organized river swim, but decided I'd rather be away from that for the day and instead go swim at the YMCA. At 5PM, I'd agreed to meet my friend, Rich, who I met on a bike ride in July and was doing his very first Ironman at IMCHAT, at the Underpants Run, so there would be about 2 miles of running in that. Lori needed to retrieve her bike and ensure it was in working order and check herself in.

Karen dropped me off at the Y at about 7:30 or so. I had swim stuff and run stuff. I figured I'd swim first and then run about 2 miles inside, since it was FUCKING HOT and I would be running more later. The downtown Chattanooga YMCA is an awesome facility, and the people are really nice. I had to fill out a waiver form, but with my YMCA pass, I got in for free. They have a dedicated lap pool, so I didn't have to worry about when lap time was available.

I chatted with some women in the locker room and then decided to check in on someone else who was racing--Ryan--because we were maybe going to meet up in the afternoon. It turned out he would be driving in from Memphis leaving around noon, so we agreed to just meet up for dinner. I ended up wasting some time and not getting in the pool right away, and didn't start swimming until 8:20. Here is the evil Ironman-style workout I did:

WU: 800 your choice
1200 at race pace, 1' RI
3x600 30" RI at race pace and last 50 of each a sprint
1200 pull w/paddles race pace or faster
CD: 200

So it's 5200 yards total. I'm doing this workout through October and then I will begin adding yardage to my Friday swims to prepare for a 10k swim on New Year's Eve or Day. I ended up PR'ing the time it took me to do the workout! This made me happy! I got out and spent a few minutes in the hot tub, then headed to the locker room to shower and change into running clothes. I made the transition then headed to a treadmill. After I ran for maybe 10 minutes, I had to go potty, so I left my stuff on the treadmill, then came back and some guy was on my machine! I was like WTF wasn't it obvious *I* was using it? I didn't say anything and just grabbed my Gatorade and cup of coffee (YES THEY HAD FREE COFFEE IN THE LOCKER ROOM!) and moved to a different machine and finished up.

I hadn't really sweated all that much, and I knew it was FUCKING HOT outside, and that I'd be sweating like a pig, so I just left my running clothes on. I drank my Endurox R4, left the YMCA, and walked to the expo. I let Karen know I was finished and to let me know when Lori would be done with her massage and then they would both be at the expo.

I walked into the expo and what should I see but a BEER BOOTH! I was like FUCK YEAH THIS IRONMAN IS AWESOME! It was Sierra Nevada to boot! $5 for a beer! YES PLEASE! I'd already had the Oktoberfest, so I opted for an IPA that was DELICIOSO! Walking around an Ironman expo with a beer? DOES NOT SUCK! Of course, everyone was looking at me and figured I was racing, because people tell me I look like one of those people who does those Ironman things. Karen called and let me know they were on their way, and so I meandered around with my beer. I was able to get a Little Debbie bike bottle (they were happy to give them to anyone!) that I will cherish. I wandered around and saw a girl at the Zoot booth wearing MY RUNNING SHORTS, so I went up to her, and turns out it's someone I met years ago that still stalks my blog! It was hilarious! This is Kate:
We were laughing our asses off about life and where we've been and what we are doing now. I didn't remember Kate at first, but was really glad to catch up with her! As you can tell, we had a giant laugh fest!

I got a call that Lori was arriving, so I had to leave Kate and meet Lori and Karen at the bike tech area. I was out of beer, so I picked up another one. I know from all the times I've sherpaed in the past that I need to grab any form of calories whenever I can because I am going to be running low no matter how often I manage to stuff my pie hole. Besides, did I mention it was FUCKING HOT???

Yum--beer.  Bike tech couldn't fix Lori's brake issue, so we got out of there and I don't remember what happened for lunch, but we ended up visiting 2 bike shops and got Lori's bike all squared away, I bought a new pair of sunglasses ( I NEED TO BE FASHIONABLE AT ALL TIMES), and then we headed back to Karen's house to reconnoiter, and I needed to get ready for the Underpants Run. I made a plate of cheese and crackers for Lori and me, and we cracked open a bottle of wine I'd brought with me. Yum! I showered (see I told you I was going to be all sweaty again) and changed into my UPR clothes with some real clothes over them, we ate and drank a little, and headed back to town.

We parked near Rich's hotel, got out, and then met him and we began walking to where the UPR started. It was at least a mile. I felt bad for Lori (who wasn't running) that we were making her walk, but I was cool with it, and we had a million laughs on the way. Rich is a real character! We got to the running store where the run started, and Rich paid my $10 and I dropped off my canned goods donation, and we disrobed and Lori held our clothes. I think Rich and I were styling for the run:
I made that bra. It's funny that I rarely wear a bra (I have nice pecs but not what I'd call boobs), but it looks like I have proportional boobs to my frame, I guess. Of course, even at 5:30PM, it was FUCKING HOT. All the racers were laughing and we looked around at everyone and then it was time to go. We ran from the store up to the Pedestrian Bridge
and over it and then we stopped for calisthenics (jumping jacks basically), and then the leader did a thing where he asked how many were first-time Ironmen/women. Then he asked who had done at least 5, then he kept upping the number, and you left your arm up if you'd done that many. It came down to me and one guy, and I guess the leader couldn't believe I kept my hand up. Anyway, my current count is 18 and there were no women there even close--although IMCHAT would be Lori's 17th! Then there was a guy there who has done 30! Lots of people came up to me and said I was awesome and a few young women said they want to look like me! How very flattering! I try...

Then we ran back to the running store where we each got a glass of beer and a beer glass!

Wow, so the day wasn't yet over--we walked back to our car and left Rich at his hotel, and Lori and I headed back to Karen's so I could shower (AGAIN, BECAUSE IT WAS FUCKING HOT) and change for dinner.

Karen drove Lori and I to Bi-Bas's Italian restaurant, and Ryan met us there. We had a great time, and the food was great!
Just before we left, Xavier arrived with his friend, Billy. Unfortunately, we had to go, but it was nice running into them! Xavier had stayed at my house a few weeks ago when he was here to do the Big Shoulders 5k swim in Lake Michigan. He will also be doing the Double Ironman next year in Portland when I do it as a team with my friend, Brad.

Well, so that was one helluva day, right? Did I mention it was FUCKING HOT???

OK so this post is getting long, so I am going to split into 2 parts. END OF PART 1!!!