Friday, May 23, 2014

Race Report: Summer Open Sprint - Longmont, CO

  • 0.5 mi Swim
  • 12.6 mi Bike
  • 5k Run
And now, ladies and gentleman, for the highly anticipated race report! I know it's late but I had to wait until my fingers stopped being sore. Yes, my entire body ached afterwards. No, I didn't crash or anything, I just didn't do the training. But I finished and not last (I know that shouldn't matter to me... but it does).

Let's start the night before the race.

So much gear. So little time!

Friday, May 16th, 2014.

I believe mom was the first one of all of us to go to bed. Kylie was out with her Fiance, Alex, and went to bed at some ungodly hour. I went to bed about 3 hours later than I planned, at 10pm after running some last minute errands... like buying new shoes (which I wore in the race... like a dummy), buying a bike computer and installing it, laying out my gear and triple checking my list, and pounding some of Olive Garden's Fettuccine Alfredo... and a few bites of salad.

 Saturday, May 17th, 2014. Race Day.

We (me, mom, and eventually Kylie) woke up at 5:30am. It was a glorious, dark, cold morning. I was pretty quiet. If you've read any of my other stuff on here, you might get the idea that I was NOT ready for this race while at the same time putting an inordinate amount of pressure on myself to complete it. Crazy? A bit. But that's me. Rather than our usually workout pump-up music of the Dixie Chicks we tortured mom with a little Kanye and Eminem.

We arrived a tad early. When I'm nervous I get arrive early. Them's the breaks, I'm afraid. Kylie may not have been happy with me, Alex (her fiance) even less so. Haha. We checked in, got body marked (the volunteer did mine wrong--one of the down sides to being the first ones done...), set up our transition areas, used the port-a-potties and after berating me for getting us there so early, Kylie decided we needed to get our wetsuits on, Stat. So we did. Then she said we needed to head down to the water. So we did. We may or may not have been the first ones down there. I can't recall... Anyway, it was freezing. Did I mention that? The announcer said that at last check the water was a balmy 49 degrees. Yikes. Luckily we had prepared for this... kind of. We had gone to a friends lake twice and floated around in our wetsuits screaming about how cold it was... That is the type of "preparing" we did for this race.

Slowly wading into the water, we started "warming up" with more and more of the other racers. One chick strolled by sans wetsuit and hopped right in the water in just booty shorts and a sports bra. I believe seeing her marks the first time that day that I peed in my pants. TMI? Then you're in the wrong place, I'm afraid. It is possible that it will only get worse. But don't worry, my wetsuit was a little too big for me and there was plenty of water flow. Which also means, unfortunately, that I was only warm for a few seconds.

We were in the final heat for the staggered swim starts as mom had registered us both as "first timers". This was a loose interpretation of the truth that Kylie and I both decided we could live with and we went with it. Also in our heat were the Athenas (women 150 lbs plus) so it was a good group and where I would've been anyway.


I know it shouldn't matter, but there WERE people still swimming.
Um... I've read a LOT about open water swimming. I've thought A LOT about this. I've gone the distance and then some in a pool. And I've proven to myself that I float with a wetsuit on. When reality strikes... I'm sure all of those things helped. BUT. I know my threshold for quitting as I did just that last August (with a broken ankle). This was a close call. So I suppose all of those things ultimately were the difference between quitting and not. No. That's a lie. The ultimate difference between quitting and going on was K.Y.L.I.E. I know she wanted to throttle me several times because I was zoning out bad, but she kept my head on straight when I wanted to panic. She told me to count to 5 when I started hyperventilating. And she just kept moving ahead of me when I wanted to stop for a few minutes which the competitive side of me just wouldn't have. Lastly, she stayed with me. The whole time. It is true that I did teach Kylie the very basic basics of freestyle going into this and that I was her only coach for efficient swimming in this race. But out there we were just sisters.

Ok, that's enough of that. She has my thanks. Moving on.

That I was on my feet at all is a small miracle.

We waddled into Transition 1 (T1) to get ready for the bike. It's important to mention here that Kylie had had a dream about the triathlon the night before (of course). It involved a killer whale being set loose in the reservoir and me ditching her after she got me through the swim because I had decided that I could probably win the whole thing if I left her behind. So the first part had come true (no, not the part about the Orca). She had gotten me through the swim. Now I was supposed to leave her in the dust on the bike apparently.

So I did. Ok, not really.

I was going to lie and say this was when we got back from the bike and that's why all the other bike racks are empty... It's not. Everyone else was already out on the bike...
We left transition on our bikes and about 1 mile into the 12 mile ride I turned to check on her and she was no where to be seen! There were other people behind me but no sign of the green, granny bike she was riding! I was horrified. She didn't have any gear to fix a flat - she didn't have any gear bags on that bike so I was carrying for both of us. I slowed from about 16 mph to 8 and let those people pass me but still couldn't see her. I started to worry that something might have happened and she may have had to drop out. 

Again, try to ignore all the bikes already back...
I kept moving ahead slowly trying to let her catch me. I got to the turnaround and lost something from my bike. So I unclipped and got off to figure out if I had lost something important. It wasn't, but one of the motorcycle cops came up to check if everything was ok. I asked if he had seen Kylie. He hadn't. Crap. I turned around and started up a monster hill and halfway up saw Kylie, intact! I waved furiously and... she kept looking straight ahead. Uh-oh. She's pissed. I yelled "I've been looking everywhere for you!" She yelled back "Yeah RIGHT!" Yep. She's mad. 

I stayed slow down hills and went at about 50% and she still didn't catch me until the end (I found out later that she dropped her chain at the turnaround. As we neared the end of the bike I could hear her ringing the bell on her bike repeatedly. I was laughing pretty hard. I had survived the bike! This was where my race ended last year. The bike is my favorite/weakest leg. I was now officially dreading...


Kylie and I made up. AFTER I promised that I truly didn't ditch her on purpose thinking I could win the whole thing. She told me she'd spent most of the race swearing under her breath after I told her I had spent most of the race praying to not crash. Hahaha. 

We talked a lot on the run/walk. It was nice. There was a 57 year old man that we just COULDN'T catch! I was wearing my new shoes. So dumb. We did a lot of walking because I couldn't feel my feet. Woof. We had a fight. It was a nice time. We would walk a bit and jog a bit. And when we could hear the finish line we started running. They were finishing up the award ceremony. We had a nice crowd cheering for us as we came through the finish chute. I shoved Kylie, she shoved me back and then we made eye contact and took off sprinting to the finish line. It was great. Because I won. Hahaha. Our official time was tied at 2:25:27 and we'll take it. (Believe it or not, that shaved an hour and a half off of Kylie's time in Aspen!)

Yes, I realize this is more the length of an Ironman Race report, but I don't care. It's my first completed race and means more to my than I can express in words. I can't believe we did it more or less successfully without preparing for it and I know that that is thanks, in huge part, to Kylie. 

This race started as a gift from our parents on Christmas morning and ended up being a gift from Kylie too. I know I worked hard and have to be proud of myself too but I just felt so grateful afterwards. I still do, obviously. It was a great day and I can't wait for the next one! Who's with me?!

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Runner's Roost. Thank you. Thank you for my running shoes that motivate me to go on painful run/walks, thank you for my elastic shoe laces that help me not look dumb in transition during races, and thank you for my future purchase of Newtons and a race watch. But most importantly thanks for last night.

Last night Runner's Roost and TriRock Triathlon (which I'm doing in two months, yay) hosted a Q&A with Tim "HotPants" O'Donnell (5th place finisher at Kona in 2013 and best American Pro in the field) and Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae (2 time and reigning champion at Kona)! Oh and Bob Babbitt. ;)

Great interview. Very fun and informative. Ok, and yes, Tim's hot.
It was awesome.

I may or may not have been in the front row like a nerd...

But it was awesome and I learned so much and got some much needed inspiration.

Best moment? Probably when Mirinda (she hasn't asked me to call her Rinny. Yet.) said something to the effect of "not being Macca" - saying she's gonna win everything as she has a little more respect for her competitors than that.

So this happened. We could totally be related... distantly.
Made my night.

After getting my picture with her... maybe I jumped at her as soon as they were finished, maybe not, I can't remember exactly... we chatted about where she was from, I was all, "my sister married an Aussie, they live in Brisbane (where Mirinda is originally from), well Maloolaba." And she was all, you dumb American, that's way down from Brizzy. Ok, not really, she just laughed and said "that's down on the sunny coast!" I laughed and said they were probably just simplifying for me and just saying Australia probably would've sufficed. Smooth recovery, hey? See, I speak Aussie.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Training Log: Swim

Me in the middle with the arm meat.
Hey all. So this is my first training log. I think I'm just gonna talk about the workout and go from there.

I did a 800 yd swim or about 1/2 mi. I decided I should make sure I can swim a little farther than I am supposed to swim this Saturday. It took me 30 minutes. I'm not upset about this. Yay!

It was confusing and hard. I have the hardest time tracking how far I've gone! On the way to the rec center I thought very hard about how many lengths that would be. I'm still hesitant to say what I came up with because I might have been wrong. I suppose it's nearly time to invest in a fancy watch that counts all that stuff for me. Woof.

I arrived just as a water aerobics class was ending and waited for the lifeguard to set up the lane ropes. There were a few other swimmer swimmers waiting with me. They were less patient and started swimming right at these poor chatting ladies (ok, in fairness, I was thinking 'a little more walkey, a little less talkey ladies!'). That cleared them out pretty fast.

Kylie swimming uphill.
I heard on a podcast this week that kicking isn't that important for triathletes in the swim (Yay!) which I must have known subconsciously as I don't really kick. I have noticed, however, that not kicking has lead to my legs dragging lower in the water and slowing me down. So I decided to try a few laps "swimming downhill". When I actually did it my legs went up. Like MAGIC! Now to figure out how to get my head to the surface for air...

So I like that. Will use that. Probably not on Saturday when it's FREEZING though. I'll probably be "swimming uphill" with my precious face out of the water completely. Like a moron.

Next swim: One last open water swim with Kylie on Friday.

Next workout: I Don't know! This week is packed with non-workout tri stuff. Ironic.Tonight is my first tri-club meeting and tomorrow I get to meet Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O'donnell! Priorities.Might try to get in a jog at lunch tomorrow.

Mirinda Carfrae = 5 feet 3 inches of bad assery.

Go TRIbal

Ok. Below is an article I wrote for - it's a great website. Check it out. They are also doing a profile on me in their newsletter. I'm gonna be famous-ish. The facts are these: I'm NOT going to be famous but the profile wants to link to my blog... Yeah. So. Because I'm too cheap to pay for a website and I already had this sucker up and kind of running, I have decided this will also be my Triathlon blog. Read if you wish. It will be riveting and moving and... I'll actually post on it.

So here's the article. More on it later.

How Triathlon is Saving My Life

The idea of Triathlon was first planted in my head through an uncle that had picked it up and was going wild with it. We all thought it was cool but I don’t think anyone in the family really knew or understood what it was all about. I vaguely thought it was pretty bad ass though. Fast forward a few years to an overweight, depressed, drowning woman. That was me. After a shattering end to my marriage I found myself at my biggest and at my lowest. I was surrounded by family that loved me but had no concept of self, let alone self-love.
Enter triathlon.
Everyone kept telling me to find something new to do. Find a new hobby. Learn a new skill. I toyed with everything from learning to play the cello to boxing. But one day at work I started looking at racing. Straight running has never appealed to me and probably never will so I looked into Tough Mudders, Spartan Racing, and other extreme obstacle races. This felt closer but still not quite right. Then as I was looking at local races that triathlon thing came up again. Dozens of articles later I was pretty sure I was hooked. It appealed to me on so many levels: list making, scheduling, new gear to buy. That last one in particular really got me in a perverse way. I've always struggled with impulsive spending and all of these articles kept warning and apologizing about the expense if you got hooked. New toys to buy and all in the name of fitness and doing something for myself!
I printed off four race options to take home as a surprise to my sister, Kylie. I knew which one I wanted and it was the one she immediately chose. Aspen. August 2013. It just so happened to coincide with the anniversary of my separation from my now ex-husband. It was my self-reclamation. Lucky for us it was a pool swim so it felt like we were taking things one step at a time. My sister and I started training. I had apps on my iPhone, more articles printed off and brought home to force on my sister, and a size chart indicating when I would fit into the trisuit I had decided on. 
Time passed, our training was very on and off again. As the weather cleared up we really picked it up again and started feeling prepared and scared. I had dropped 30lbs and was ready... kind of. 
Me and Bailey, while Kylie was "pumping herself up" in the front seat. 
My mom, other sister, niece, and dog came along with us for the weekend in Aspen. We threw our very heavy, borrowed bikes in the truck and drove off. I had read everything I could find about completing your first triathlon. We knew what to eat. What to wear. The one problem was that we hadn't managed to ride our bikes the distance of the races bike leg (16mi). Let alone with the elevation increase of the Maroon (Hells) Bells (look it up, it's a thing). This fact was haunting me and probably Kylie too but we didn't really talk about it probably hoping our sheer stubbornness would carry the day. 
Body marking. Hmm, small numbers make my muscles look so big!
We did the swim. They cut everyone off at a certain time and let you continue even if you were short. We both were at exactly 700 of the 800m distance and were thrilled as we had both shaved approximately 15 minutes off of the last time we had done that distance... Yeah. Maybe the bike leg wasn't the only one we were unprepared for. I flew through transition (all of my obsessive reading and insistence that we practice transition rearing it's head) only to face the 8mi trek up a mountain and 8mi's flying back down on a 30lb bike. I clipped in (yes, another splurge had been clip-less pedals for my bike. Oh how fancy I was) and headed out. Once the climb started in earnest I thought I had better stop and wait for Kylie. We hadn't addressed this beforehand but as we had done all of our training side by side it only felt right. Oh yeah, and I was sucking major air. She came along soon enough and as we took off again I didn't push off hard enough and tipped over with my foot stuck in my new-fangled pedal. I had a little road rash but more than that I had wrenched my ankle trying to catch my fall. I made Kylie go on while I sat there and thought "well I guess that's it". I cried. My ankle swelled up and someone came and got me after an EMT looked at it and said it probably wasn't broken. 
I quit. 
Kylie finished DFL (dead effing last) AND first in her age group at the same time (gotta love those small races). She had a medal and I was devastated. Bottom line? I could've gone on and I knew it. I should've gone on but I suppose I was still knew to this whole "I'm a bad ass triathlete" thing. There was still a large part of me that was still that fat, divorced, failure. So I quit. I went home and almost immediately went back to old bad habits. I was injured, it was the off season, and I told myself I needed a break. From what? I don't know. Living a better life I guess.
After the race on a gondola. Not doing so great.
Let's one-two-skip-a-few again here. 
Christmas. Me and Kylie were gifted the registration to a local triathlon--one of the first of the season--by our parents. I'm certain they saw what was happening to me more clearly than I did. I was not moving forward. I was going straight down. So I woke up a bit. I was thrilled with the gift. This was just what I needed. 
I got the apps back on my phone. I pulled my old-new gear out of the closet and headed off to the rec center with Kylie on the 2nd of January. The gym was packed. We had a frustrating workout. A few days later we had an even more frustrating swim. We were back at ground zero after all the hard work we had put in last summer. It was very discouraging. We stopped working out. I changed jobs. Time moved on. Kylie got engaged. Workouts were in the very far corner of my mind. I made a workout chart. A few weeks later, I made another one. Then we had a heart to heart. Is this going to happen? Are we going to do this? "Yes" I said while thinking, "I HAVE to do this". Not much changed. Oh, Kylie started working out fairly regularly. Not this guy, though. This guy started searching online for articles about going from the couch to a sprint in 5 weeks. Then 4 weeks. At 3 weeks out we finally went out to ride the bike course (a flat and easy 12 mi). We pumped up our very flat tires. Forgot our helmets. And off we went. I ended up with a skinless knee after doing the exact same thing I had done at Aspen. I tipped over. In gravel this time. I'm ok, but I suppose I'm glad I got it out of the way now rather than on race day. 
Race day is under 3 weeks away. I haven't gone swimming recently. I've biked the race course and did ok but had to take my sweet time. And I've been running exactly zero times. This is a terrible idea but I'm doing it. I'm very likely going to be DFL but I have made my peace with it. I'm scared but I know that after what happened last time what I am NOT going to do is give up. I felt like it was important to share this story now. I'm scared. I'm overweight again. I may very well DNF (did not finish) but I'm moving forward as the blogger Swim Bike Mom says. And that's what is important to me. Win, lose, or tip over, I'm going to keep going matter what happens.