Sunday, June 26, 2011

glory days

I'm convinced that these are my glory days. I swam competitively as a kid and even did a triathlon when I was around 25, but these 50s? They are the glory days. I'm in better shape (or senile, either one is really a very good possibility) than I've ever been and stronger than I've been. And looking back at the beginning of this month, I'm thinking, those were my glory days BECAUSE I'M STILL NOT WORKING OUT!!! I can't swim (had to blow off the Aguas Abiertas at Bacalar this weekend) due to the ear, and the chest gunk is Just Now starting to fade. I'm not alone - the entire family (except Ellen - go figure on that one) got sick and Jesse missed the last 2 weeks of school. So it hit All of us Very Hard. But dayum, are my glory days over? Will I ever hear again on the left side? Will I ever NOT be dizzy? I can't ride because of the dizziness and today I decided I'd run. Except I forgot to check the weather. Tropical disturbance and waves of storms chased through all day. So, maybe tomorrow? This picture is from the HIM - apparently there are supposed to be lots of pictures of me (I guess I was the only broad with braids as the photographer commented that he recognized me because of the braids) and this is one freebie. I was looking through pictures today and feeling nostalgic for the glory days of 3 WEEKS ago and boy, I really need to get out more. Tomorrow to run. Or buried in a tropical thingie. Actually this tropical wave is supposed to organize in the Bay of Campeche and I'm hoping good thoughts for Texas.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

crawling towards the light

For the first time in 11 days I'm looking forward. This sickness has totally hammered the entire famdamily except Jamie and Ellen. Sissy has been in bed for a week, Jesse is missing all his exams (and on the 4th or 5th day of school missed), Pike might be coming out of the woods today and even Kilo (the dog) has been off. Maybe just because nobody has been well enough to walk the poor guy. I had an appetite 2 days ago. I had energy the day before yesterday. Yesterday sucked but today I'm starting to feel good again - and just in time as I have a (forgotten) open water swim competition this weekend! Ack! I'm still not sure what I'm going to do about that as my left ear is totally blocked with blood behind the tympanic membrane. Docs at the clinic are stymied and gave me a last ditch dose of dexamethasone yesterday to see if that would help but it doesn't seem like it has. We have all been dozing and recovering for what seems like the entire month of June, but I know I did a triathlon back at the beginning of the month so it can't have been a month, but dayum, it sure feels like it.

I had visions of going for a run yesterday but the dizziness (from the ear issue) made it difficult to walk and then I had a little tiny relapse of the "sickness" so that was out and then I passed out for my daily nap(s) and that was that. Today I'm hoping for a run. I need to get on my bike. I've lost 3 kg (which is good) but it is probably all muscle mass. You know your priorities are weird when you're not happy with weight loss (even though it is a "good" thing) because it is likely muscle mass. I still have 3 kg I'd like to lose before I decide what I want to weigh and I know I have it to lose but I HATE losing that muscle I worked so hard for.

Doctor is going to make a house (or palapa in our case) call today - no fee whatsoever (as she's still chasing down my particular problem) and we'll see what she says about the ear and the competition this weekend. If nothing else, maybe Jamie and I will just take a drive down to the beautiful laguna Bacalar for the day and pick up my t-shirt. Sigh. There is also a triathlon on Puerto Morales (sprint) I'm eyeing in a week or two so I guess that's another sign my mojo is on its way back.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I was pretty sore (quads) a couple days after the HIM and after sitting in a car for 2 days I was sure I saw edematous ankles, but now I've got dengue-like body aches, fever of 38.5 (101+), gunky chest and the energy of a nursing home resident. After my fever decreased this morning I treated myself to some Tylenol which magicked away the horrific body aches and head-in-a-vise headache, but I'd like return the liquid shit that seemed to come with it. Is there another symptom I'm missing here? I've never had so many symptoms of so many illnesses (dengue fever, flu and gastroenteritis). I had hoped to be back training again by now.

Good thing IM training doesn't start until July.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Day before triathlon and triathlon

Saturday morning I was up early and working and decided to forego the planned swim of the triathlon as we'd found out the night before that not only had the bike course been changed but that the swim would not start from the island (due to unanticipated early turtle nesting) so there ended up being no swim familiarization anyway. When I was done working for the morning, everyone but Jesse (as it turns out, the smart one) headed down for package pickup. I had No paperwork whatsoever, not even my emails but somehow my mind remembered my FMTri number and they located my information and package. If you hadn't affiliated with the national triathlon federation you needed to pony up an extra $100 ($8USD) and affiliate for the day and fill out all kinds of computer stuff and the wait for that was rather long, but I just needed to photocopy my ID (FM3) and hand it over for pickup which inlcuded....SALT TABLETS!!! The girl handing them out acknowledged that they indeed, were NOT available anywhere in Mexico so they must have imported them. With the forecast for 38C for the day I was over the moon and Very excited to get such a treat.

We ended up timing package pickup with the first junta previa and since the meetings were obligatory I headed out for it (at a different hotel from entrega de paquetes) while Jamie, the girls and Pike hung out at the beach at the first hotel. The meeting was super long as the first order was a long drawn out apology and explanation for not leaving from the Isla de Sacrificios. I was okay with it and it seemed like most were and then there was the bike re-routing explanation and once we got to the run route explanation (don't think there was a change there) I pretty much understood the bike route. They said they'd let us know if the swim was clockwise or counterclockwise the morning of the event. They'd wait for the capitania del puerto to decide which would favor us best. It was a long meeting with lots of questions and that is where I found out they were Very Serious about no drafting and that Jamie would not be able to hand me Electrolit on the course BUT they would have Powerbars and GU for the bike and run. Except they really didn't. Luckily, I had accidentally planned for that.

I tried taking a nap in the midafternoon and I'm pretty sure I got some sleep in as I had been getting up at 5am to work and going to bed at 10pm or later by this day it was really catching up with me. I know your taper week is supposed to be a resting and hydrating week but mine was pretty much the opposite. That night as Jamie and I headed out for dinner (the kids stayed in the hotel) and found The Best pastor tacos we've ever had I got hit with incredibly awful stomach cramps and diarrhea and I was worried enough for the next day that we headed for a farmacia and got cramping meds.

I then had to figure out what I was going to wear for the triathlon. I really wanted a swimsuit for the swim, bib shorts and jersey for the bike and shirt and shorts for the run and got everything together. I had purchased some wide elastic and sewed it to make a belt for my first sprint triathlon in March and pinned this to the elastic of my shorts to change into in T2. I wasn't sure if there were bathrooms at transition for changing so I brought a large towel along just incase. I filled my bike jersey pockets with the salt tablets, a cliff bar and 2 GUs along with a CO2 cartridge and probably more. I refrigerated 2 750 mL bottles of 1-scoop Cytomax and got to bed.

I was up at 4:45 am without any alarm. I made coffee and completely changed my race wardrobe and dropped the swimsuit and bib shorts for tri shorts and a run top over a running bra. Jamie was up a little before 6am (transition was open from 6am to 6:45) and we squeaked into transition at 6:30. there was absolutely No Place to put my stuff - the ladies on both sides of me had taken all the space. So I put my bike shoes in front of my bike, hung my sunglasses and helmet on my bike and left 2 bags of my stuff directly under my bike and behind my bike and headed out of transition to the beach. We had to get out behind the sets of breakers to see the course and I finally decided I had pretty much the gist of the course and as all the women started together (and dead last) I'd just follow the waves of men ahead of us. The elites were off first and while I didn't see any women there were apparently 2 elite women in there. One finished just over 5 hours, the 2nd in 5:25ish (and I beat her bike time).

I'd had a cliff bar back at the hotel around 6am and since I'd actually tested this nutrition on my very last brick at home I knew it would work and was happy with the choice. I tried to swig some Electrolit, expecting a very hot day but had to leave it all in transition. The swim wasn't bad once we got past the breakers and I think I swam through 2 waves of men before exiting but my time wasn't all that hot (41 min) and I know I swam way wide for open water. I thought I had taken a short cut (direct line) at the base of the triangle (300 m) but maybe I was actually way off course. Hard to say. It was GREAT to have the swim over and one part finished and done with. Bike was next.

I ran into transition (not far from swim exit) and took off the run top which had chafed me badly under each arm and stepped into my bike jersey and headed out. While on the swim someone had dumped all my bags of stuff on the ground under my bike and taken the towel (we weren't supposed to have backpacks or any bags there but I had no room to put my stuff so I left everything in bags) and I figured I'd figure out the run stuff in T2 and headed out on the bike. It turned out I was 21/68 women and I thought sure I'd done better than that so definitely room for improvement there.

It apparently had rained HARD during the swim and the roads were very wet and full of large deep puddles. I found it impossible to keep my HR under 150 for the first 18km lap and durin gthe 2nd couldn't keep it under 140 so I just gave up and in the headwinds took it easier and tucked tight on the downhills. I ended up averaging just under 30km/hr at 3:01 for the bike. Exactly where I'd hoped I'd be. Jamie was on the course for at least the 1st lap and maybe then 2nd and then headed to the hotel to get the kids. I saw them the 4th and 5th laps and drank both water (1L) and poweraid along with the Cytomax I'd brought and 1 Cliff bar I'd brought and took 1 salt tablet at one point thinking I'd save the last 2 for the run. I never saw those again.

The bike really was very good. I didn't suffer at all and I did not let 1 single female pass me from any age group. I was very happy with my bike portion but I was really worried I had not left enough for the run. I knew I'd worked hard - not ridiculously hard - but hard and I was shocked at how high my HR had been because in training I had to work So Hard to get it that high and during the race I just could not bring the intensity down at all but it wasn't really hurting. I guess that means I trained well.

When I came into T2 I had an amazing sight - 3 racks of bikes, mine, the one to both left and right were EMPTY! I'd beaten at least 3 age groups of females into T2. I grabbed my run shorts, stripped off my jersey, put on my run shirt and ran to the bathroom to change and tentatively headed out for the run. I knew it was going to hurt and it was a huge question as to whether I'd actually be able to do it or not. I had not gone further than 12 km in training and this was going to be 22 km. I was scared.

My plan was to Gallowalk - 9 min run and 45s to 1 min walk. I spotted a guy in front of my coming out of T2 who was shuffling quite a lot like I was and I wondered if I should just shuffle with him or Gallowalk but after 3 Gallowalks I had left him quite solidly behind me. I expected to start feeling worse and worse but by 30 minutes (5km ish) I was feeling better than expected. Not great by any stretch but not like I was going to die and I started thinking I just might be able to finish. I kept looking for "U" on calves but never saw one the entire race. I was sure I had one of my age group ahead of me but wasn't sure. I kept to my 9m:45s and found that not only did the promised Powerbars never appear on the bike leg but that the promised GUs never appeared on the run leg. Luckliy I had brought 3 GU with me just in case and stashed them in my bra coming out of T2.

The rest stations along the run were heaven. They had pretzels, coke (not defizzed but I drank 2 anyway) rasins (I was afraid to take these that they'd give me gas), ice, Poweraid, water, oranges and bananas. They had a fire truck throwing a DRENCHING shower at one end of the course. They had a water tunnel at the other. On the 2nd lap the rest stop volunteers poured ice cold water in a shower over you if you so desired. There were private citizens along the course with ice cold baggies of water, gatorade, oranges, other drinks, coke and incredible spirit. They MADE the run course. Towards the end of the laps there was one guy who was VERY LOUD and YELLING at you, encouraging you, calling you out by number and what an inspiration. There was one family with empty water bottles filled with rocks shaking and yelling "VENGA VAMOS" and encouraging us. By the 2nd lap I really looked forward to all the little groups of people yelling for their own athlete and the rest of us as well. By the 2nd half of the 2nd run loop I knew I was going to finish. I decided to stop run/walk and just run but stop in the rest stations to pick up ice and poweraid. I had to stop taking in liquids a couple times on the bike due to sloshing but paced myself well enough on the run that I never got bloated or sloshing tummy thankfully but I really wish I'd had more solid food available. I did take pretzels 3-4 times on the course hoping for the salt to kick in.

Jesse ran the last 6km wiht me (in CROCS!!) and talked me as I shuffled along. Sometimes he walked while I "ran". I was very happy to be done as those last 6km my hips were KILLING me - I'm used to running on non concrete and this was all concrete and asphalt. Plus there was the lack of training and distance. So my first 1/2 marathon was at the end of a triathlon. :)

I finished in 6:22 and ended up winning my age group. We never were able to find the prize ceremony but honestly I was very happy to finish, to win my AG and to have my family around to celebrate with. I could not have asked for more. But honestly, an IM is TWICE this? ACK!!! NOW i'm REALLY worried!

Got to Veracruz and only stopped by each and every military checkpoint.

We got stopped by all but 2 military retenes but I was thankful for the 2 that they were actual military retenes and not fake retenes. Pike was rather bothered that we were constantly targeted by the military for revision and we had a good discussion about the drug trade and why it would make sense to pull us out of line for revision. I was a little apprehensive (to say the least) going through Cardenas, Tabasco but we had no problems going through. I won't say why but Google might give info. I was pretty sure I spotted spotters along the road into Cardenas though.

The road was quite familiar from our previous journeys through this area and looked forward to the pineapple plantations of Veracruz but by the time we got there we were too worried about finding a hotel in Veracruz to stop for the glorious cold juice. This is a usual stop for us and as pineapple is pressed fresh from the field and iced, it is quite a treat on a hot day. When we had left Frontera I had looked up the hotel we'd planned to stay at on Google Maps and found they located it nowhere near the beach (and thus the triathlon route) but way in the middle of the outside of the city. The hotel website, however, showed it much closer to the beach and specifically said it was on the street name of the malecon (Google locating it on the same street name in a radically different location) so we were not sure if we'd have to find a dog-friendly hotel once we got to town or not. Mexican sineage is challenging at a minimum and were it not for our "friends" in the black truck we might still be on the road. We were very happy to find that our hotel was, in fact, right on the malecon and the projected triathlon route. Well, except not really.

We quickly got rooms on the THIRD FLOOR and headed out to find something to eat. Jesse was hoping to revive an old (ridiculous) tradition of KFC on some traveling nights and off we headed for the worst the Coronel had to offer. It was truly The Worst Chicken in the world and even the coleslaw (what I had to eat) was only barely edible. Jamie and I then headed out for water and breakfast supplies and we were in bed by very late o'clock.

Monday, June 06, 2011

On the road again...

(picture is at the Tabasco border where the military asked for car papers but I told him we didn't have them, had FM3s and the permit was valid. He gave a cursory glance at the permit and waved us on)
So in order to get to the HIM in Veracruz I'd either have to try and figure out shipping the bike, pay upwards of $1200 airfare for the family and rent a car or we'd take a 2-day drive. Drive won out very easily. The girls weren't all that happy about missing out on horse-riding time (as their lessons are on the end of the week and weekend but Jesse was happy to miss out on some of the more boring classes. Pike was looking forward to a change of pace. So pretty much everyone was looking forward to the drive. I had thoughts of leaving super early (like 5am) to get most of the drive done early in the day but Jamie had remembered that the last time we drove to Frontera (our first planned stop) we got in sometime in the early afternoon and didn't really need to leave all that early. So it was only left to find an internet solution so I could continue to work. Telcel has been advertising their G3? USB stick for a good year now so I figured the bugs would have been worked out by now and thought it would allow me to work while on the road. Unfortunately, Jamie and Jesse were never able to either get the red tape worked out (turns out they wanted a CURP as I'm not a Mexican national to register the USB) or availability worked out to purchase one, so the afternoon (like 5pm) the day before we planned to leave I headed into town to get one. (picture above is lunch stop in Escargeca Campeche) Chedraui had one but they wouldn't register or activate it, the Telcel distributor next to Chedraui did not have the stick but they could register one if they had one to sell but she located one at another distributor and we headed off there. (picture to the left is of the Tabasco/Veracruz border where there was a multikilometer backup southbound - you can see in the background)

It only took about an hour to purchase, activate and register but I FINALLY had internet and could work as we drove. I was up at 5 am next morning to get some work in before we left and we were finally on the road at 10am. We drove through many fires in southern Qunitana Roo and upon hitting the state line (QRoo and Campeche) we passed through an Aduana stop which I don't ever remember hitting before. Course it has been a few years since we've gone out that way so it is possible it isn't all that new. Unfortunately she wanted our car permit paperwork - the permit itself visibly portrayed in the correct spot on the front window was apparently not nearly good enough - and when I told her we didn't have it she had us pull over. I told her we had FM3s (though mine in in tramite) so the permit didn't really expire but she said she wanted to see the paperwork that we'd actually purchased the damn thing. If one thing I've found, patience is really key so instead of getting upset I just had Jamie pull over and I brought over his FM3 and we chatted a bit and she decided that I really did just need to go to Cancun next time I was there and get the paperwork. We were off to the next state border. (picture to right is not forest fires but "controlled" (questionable) sugarcane harvest fires - quite normal here. This completely obscured the roadway - there was NO visibility under out of the smoke.)

Work was going rather well - there were a number of dead spots where I had no internet but anytime we were at a new town I was able to either upload or download. Work was also a bit slow and I was able to keep up with no problem and I was really happy about that. Somewhere in Campeche the car's vacuum pump began going out (again, Jamie had the foresight to bring a spare as we seem to be going through vacuum pumps like air) and braking became difficult (i.e. no power assist). We had stopped in Escacega for tacos but were getting quite hungry again by the time we finally rolled into Frontera - some 12 hours after leaving home. It was a Very Long Day of travel. We quickly hit our favorite taqueria for 20 pastor tacos for $80 and giant tortas for $20 and by the time we were back at the hotel it was 10pm or so. We had a kingsize bed and a double and we got 3 in the king, one in the double and two on the floor. (to the left is the island the HIM was supposed to leave from in Veracruz. down and to the right is the truck we spotted along the road in Tabasco and them leading us, unknowingly, through the roads of Boca del Rio to Veracruz city)

I was up at 5am again next morning to work as the day before I'd used an entire month's worth of bandwidth between downloading, uploading and roaming charges and got about 2/3 of a day's work in by the time we left (again 10am). We had a shorter drive that day to Veracruz and somewhere in Tabasco state we found a black truck full of tri bikes following a little while car loaded down with more tri bikes - they both carried Campeche plates. They were doing about 120km/hr though and we watched them head out down the road. We were hoping for a 6-hour day that day and took the cuota the whole way. Expensive but definitely got us to Veracruz in good time. I wasn't sure exactly where the hotel was as Google Maps was giving very conflicting information to the hotel website. Incredibly, right when I was trying to figure out which way to go in the maze of Veracruz streets I spotted the black truck and white car and told Jamie, "FOLLOW THAT TRUCK" and enjoyed stress free meandering through the maze of Vercruz/Boca del Rio streets. We finally lost them very close to the malecon and Jamie had to completely round a glorietta in order to try again at hitting a street but it was an easy journey. (picture to the left is Jesse and Sissy racing Kilo at the beach across from our hotel)

I was so nice being on the road again and once I figured I could get a day's worth or work by getting up super early, working 4-5 hours and then working again when we got to the hotel I realized the USB stick was never a necessity in the first place.