Wednesday, November 30, 2011

IM Cozumel race report

I actually was nervous about the swim. I had planned to start my swim training at the point that Jesse got sick so that was out and I ended up with a short season (5 weeks) of swim. But back when dinosaurs roamed the earth I swam (AAU) so I figured that would have to do. I had done one 3000 m swim and felt strong and figured that was a good sign. I jumped into the front group hoping find a spot to avoid and melee and on the way there was a giant eagle ray in the water. I must be jaded cause I was thinking it wasn't that big a deal and when they are a meter away from you (as they are in our bay) they aren't quite THAT neat looking. :) As I started the swim it occurred to me that I had no idea where I was going. I really should have looked at the swim route more carefully if for no other reason then to know about where I was in the swim. I tried to remember to finish my stroke but honestly it was insanity out there. There were few opportunities for clear water and I mostly was looking at bubbles or scuba divers or boats. I don't think I saw more than 1 fish. It was alternatly long and short - by the end it felt shorter than 1:30 (it was 1:15ish) but I was ready to be done with swimming. Getting out was interesting but I had read it was "interesting" so that wasn't a huge surprise. My legs were more wobbly than I thought they'd be though.

I WALKED to T1. I wasn't having any of the run to T1 madness - I was there for the experience and not to make a certain time. Course that didn't last long with all the spectators egging us on so I jogged the almost .25 km to our tent. Dumped out my bag (I'd read of others doing that and it seemed to make sense) and stripped. I really brought a lot of stuff in my jersey and at the last minute had stuffed my camera in there too. I had a numbing (lidocaine) cream (which became a lifesaver on lap 2 and 3 of the bike), a normal chamois cream (which got lost) 3 packages of Perpetuem, camera, Endurolytes, GU, etc. My jersey pockets were LOADED down. I took around 12 min in T1 and it flew by. Before I knew it I was headed out, one leg down but that marathon still looming out there.

I enjoyed the HELL out of the 1st lap. I had energy and was egging on the spectators trying to get their energy up. According to the stats I was still in 3rd place after the 1st lap but got slower on the 2nd lap. I started USING the spectators then as my stomach went from bad to worse. I couldn't stomach the power bars or their gels so I stuck with my Perpetuem and GUs until I knew something had to change. I saw the family both loops which was awesome. I tried to do a bike-by kiss with Jamie and I think I managed it. I saw Zach on this loop also (he was finishing up and lapping me) and cheered him on. The last loop was harder. It seemed like everyone in the world was passing me (only 400 people, it turns out) and here I dropped from 3rd in my AG to 18th. I also lost out on the tailwind this loop as the rain hit and down here when the rain comes you're looking at serious wind. So a bit dejected I came into T2, knowing my goal of a 6:30 bike was going to be more like 6:45 to 7:00 (it was 7:00 with all the stops included).

The T2 tent had potties so I availed myself and was glad to see I was still peeing. I had been taking 3 Endurolytes each hour on the bike but there was no way I wanted to carry those on the run so I tried something brand new - GU fizzy stuff. I am frugal enough that I refused to throw away my water bottles on the bike course but instead saved them up to throw to Jamie when I saw him and picked up a course bottle for the run. I changed, vaselined my blistered toe and headed out, glad to be out of the cold downpour and worried about the run. Course the picture (coming out of T2 shows I wasn't showing that worry).

The first lap was demoralizing. I tried to go 15 min run then 1 min walk but my feet would have none of it. I was soon down to 10 min/1 min. I was worried I wasn't going to be able to run and would have to walk the entire thing. I'd finish but I really thought I should be able to do 15-16 hours and didn't want to be slower than that. I also was wearing the colors so I didn't feel like I could walk in town at all but once I saw other (obvious) Mexican athletes walking through the cheers I gave myself permission to walk when I needed to. I had never run further than 21 km and the signage was weird beyond belief. To either cut down on signs or cost and to include the Luddites using miles, the laps would have signage with mile 4, km 15, mile 25 etc. all on the same leg. I tried to convince myself that it *could* be only a 2-lap course but adding things up (I figured each lap had to be 14km) made it 3. The people lining the course, however, MADE the run. I had 2 waiters and a cook run out of their restaurant each and every lap I did to cheer me on. Wearing the colors means you get NOTICED and cheered like nobody's business. And that really carries you along and allows you to keep on keeping on. The crowd support of this event is mind blowing.

The 2nd lap was really hard. I was a bit down knowing how far I had to go and the huge doubt I had that I'd make it. I totally expected myself to be walking. My hips started hurting bad towards 21km but it actually was a good thing as during my 21km at the HIM my hips had been very very painful from way before the end, almost from 15km so I figured that was a good thing. I got bags of ice for my hips and as I started the 3rd lap got ibuprofen and hoped for the best. I tried to tell myself it was only one 4 mile lap and one more 4 mile lap and I certainly could do that. I've read enough marathon reports that I knew there was a wall out there waiting for me also and I was really worried about that. However, as I passed through the throngs (the crowd pumped you up SO MUCH) and danced with the locals (under Punta Langosta?) I started to get a 2nd wind or something. I felt strong, I felt good and I wanted to run as much of the 3rd lap as possible. Once darkness settled I had given up on 10/1 as I couldn't see my watch so I'd run from aid station to aid station. And more. This lap I wanted to maximize the run and I did it.

Until 40km. Something about knowing I had only 2 km to go and I KNEW I could do it - but man oh man, those last 2 km were the longest of the race. I had been mentally adding up the hours and my suspicion of my run (I figured the swim was 1:30, transitions were :30 total and the run should have been 2 hours a lap) I figured I was in for a 15 hour time. I thought it could be as long as closer to 16 hours and I was pretty depressed about that but just kept running, just kept running, that's what we do, we run. So I did. And I finally came to the Most Amazing Finisher's Chute in the free world. I high-5'd everyone possible and picked up the pace and then I saw the clock. I don't think I even heard the announcer as the 14 or 15 I had expected to see was a THIRTEEN! I was so stoked about my time I forgot where I was. I crossed the line and thankfully my son taped it because I didn't remember any of it other than that beautiful clock.

I couldn't believe I'd run a marathon. I wasn't that impressed with the swim or bike but the accomplishment of the marathon is something that kept coming back to me over the next couple days. I ran a MARATHON! oh yeah, and other stuff too. :) I decided as we got off the ferry that I'm in for next year. I want to take an hour off. I'd love to see a 12 on the clock. :) I think I'm addicted.

We had such an amazing time with Zach and Kristin and headed to the east side the next day as a trip to Pig Island (that is what we call Cozumel in our family, due to the wild pigs on the east side) is not complete without a trip to the east side. We are going to miss them greatly. What lovely folks. And Zach got FOURTH. In the whole damn thing!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

prerace crap

I really should have done this yesterday because I'm already in the post-race glow/haze and everything is already a rosy, fuzzy memory. I was really worried that Zach would be overwhelmed and freaked out by the chaos that is our family but that man and his woman, the amazing Kristin were able to roll with each and every punch (and boy did we dish them out). We had saved them some turkey day leftovers in the fridge and left them to sleep and next morning (Friday) we were headed to the island. Zach and Kristin went, accompanied by the girls, to the beach for a swim and a run while the girls hung out with Kristin. No, we didn't ask if she was okay with that. I was working and Jamie was getting shit ready to go. We planned on the 3:30 pm ferry so I was able to work until noon and then we turned into tornadoes of packing.

We teased the hell out of poor Zach. He is a professional triathlete and we gave him No Respect at all for his elite status. Kristin is no slouch either as a competitive swimmer, accomplished triathlete in her own and a RAAM rider. But since Zach is a pro, he got all of our teasing. They really rolled with it though and took it all and Zach even got a couple little zingers in on his own but the poor man was completely outnumbered and didn't have a chance. On Saturday, as we were headed out to take our bikes and bags to the dump off place (T1 at the swim start) Chris and I pretended we were paparazzi and pestered him with photos and questions as he tried to escape us down the exit to the street. I never called him his correct name until probably the last day. Jamie then started messing up Kristin's name. They either think we're insane or senile. Both are probably correct.

As the days passed, however, they really stole our hearts with their sweetness and quiet acceptance and openness and we are all of us, even the kids, missing them now that they're headed home. We hope they know that they will always have a home here whenever they decide. There aren't many people who can roll with 2 adults who can't seem to call you by your name AND 4 kids and a dog and the chaos that surrounds us. They not only rolled, they grooved. What incredible ambassadors for their support, strong competitors and just great all around human beings they are. We are so lucky to have had the opportunity to get to know them.

And yes, I will be starting a Zach Rubble (but we'll call it Nate, natch) fan club.

So, thanks to Kristin and Zach I figured out where to put the numbers and what to put in the bags and what to bring and had a plan which pretty much worked out. We all loaded up to go to package pickup where I got a cap, metal water bottle and a jacket. I think I got the Mexican special for either being an old fart or competing for Mexico. Jamie was drooling over all the expo stuff but the rest of us were just DONE with the car and the event and wanted out so too soon for Jamie but not soon enough for us, we headed to Chedraui for provisions and home. Zach was leaving 20 minutes before I did so we had to be at the start the next day really dark (as it turned out) and early.

The kids did GREAT getting up the next morning and after driving all around the closed streets (with Zach no doubt getting more and more worried we'd never arrive and visions of DNS dancing in his head) we finally made a quick stop for Pepto and Jamie dropped us off, hoping to find some parking somewhere to rejoin us. Zach and I headed in to the secure area but his bike was (pro, natch) right up by the "commoners" fencing (to keep the commoners away from the elites) so the whole famdamily (Kristin included) was right next to Zach as he readied his bike. I TOTALLY did not fit in with the pros gathered around and the TV guy was eyeing me nervously as I handed Zach the bike pump (he used OUR PUMP! We have his sweat on our PUMP! We'll NEVER wash it!) and kept looking at Zach for the slightest sign of "get her the HELL AWAY from me!" but I must have pleased the pro as he never gave the signal to cart me away with the rest of the riffraff. The kids were egging me on to go make funny faces or something more rotten behind the athlete being interviewed on TV but I (being the adult here) declined. Kinda wish I hadn't though.

Then it was off to the 45 minute portapotty line, I totally missed the Mexican national anthem (which I had MEMORIZED DAMNIT) did a quick undress and headed off to the water. I was shocked (but I had been looking for them) to find the whole famdamily (which now includes Kristin, natch) right alongside our walk-the-plank start and I got so surprisingly emotional I started tearing up. I had been avoiding thinking about the event the last week or so as I had trained thinking about it all the time and just didn't want to deal anymore. I was a little worried about the swim - I knew I could probably do it no problem but I didn't want to fail at any point. Before Jesse got sick I had specific times I wanted and after taking 8 weeks off I had to throw those expectations away but really, I never did. They were just my A goals and I was really hoping to attain them, lack of training or not. Still that marathon had me super, super worried, never having run farther than 21 km (half a marathon) ever. I tried to just be in the moment and experience each moment and not worry about the next. But that marathon was like a dark cloud looming over me and it was hard to avoid it.

I wanted to get out in front not because I expected a strong swim but because I wanted to find a spot out of the melee. Ironmans are notorious for WWF-like swim starts and I did not want my goggles ripped off, bloody appendages or broken bones, after all blood + bull sharks just couldn't be a really good equation. I wanted clear water and I figured that being up front I could scout that out. I think I would have had to go about 2 km out to sea to find it though. I was way in front but since the field was so stretched out it wasn't the bloody melee of normal swim starts, just jockeying and thumping and bumping. I did get one particularly nasty blow to my quad which made me wonder if I'd be able to bike, but that was around a buoy and not the start. So the start was good.

I really should have gone to the "mandatory" meeting though because I had no idea what the swim course was. Zach and I both figured in Mexico, where we ignore the cops and stoplights are mere suggestions, the "mandatory" meeting wasn't really all that mandatory after all and he'd rely on past experience and I'd rely on....well...I was screwed. The swim started and I figured it was probably a big rectangle and I'd just keep the buoys in sight and since there was no chance I'd be leading the field I'd just follow everyone else. Like follow the leader.

Friday, November 25, 2011

a 3 hour tour...

So we took a little trip on a barco (larger than the Minnow) and ended up over here on Cozumel. For some strange reason that are lots of REALLY FIT people here! and lots of super expensive bikes! And people with weird helmets. and lots of athletic stuff for sale along the malecon. It is a strange place. Not our usual Cozumel. Oh, and there's this guy with us who says he's a "pro" but I forgot to ask pro WHAT? and yeah, forgot why we're here.

I'm on that lovely Nile.

Feels like I've been going a million kph between work and getting palapas ready for people and cleaning and working and a teensy bit of training (forgot why) and packing half the palapa for a long weekend and today I figure out where all the outlets in the new construction go.

We picked up Nate (damn, I keep calling him Nate but his name is really Zeke. No, not Zeke; it is Zach) at the airport late Thursday after having a nice potluck dinner at home. Their plane was a little late and Jamie and I were incredibly entertained with the "invisible man", the planeload of Germans from Frankfurt and the Panamanians who were obviously athletes and carrying 6 large bike bags but assured me they had no idea what "Ironman" was and no, they had no bikes. Shrug. Today I was up early to get some work in before packing like mad and manuvering the power brakeless van onto and off of the ferry. Poor Nate/Zeke/Zach must think we're trying to kill him. Got to the house we usually stay at here and headed down to check in. I am pretty much relying on my sister and Nate to keep me informed as to what to do and I'll just translate as I'm too Mexican to be bothered with knowing what needs to be done and when. I figure everything will sort itself out evenentually and what will happen will happen. Got a cap and a metal waterbottle gift at checkin along with a nice Iwanman jacket.

My sister is documenting everything so lots of pictures to follow (most are on Facebook now). Zeke wants to bike tomorrow - he swam and ran at our bay this morning - so that's what we'll do. I'll figure out bags and T1, T2, whatever tomorrow. I guess I also need to figure out what I'm supposed to put in the bags at some point too. BAGS? We don't need no stinking BAGS!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Between the jungle and the road

Pike (15yo) has been riding with Jamie recently and the other day I was able to join them for the first part of my ride. We have now nicknamed him "El Zorro" as he tends to wait and then jump, very predictably, on certain parts of the route. He is a little hammer and just needs some endurance now. I've been wicked tired lately and last night finally got a solid block of sleep - I passed out around 7pm, woke at 3am and managed to get back to sleep (!!) around 5am and finally got up around 7 or 8 am. I'm hoping that will help with the washed out feeling I've been having. I also have been using the rescue inhaler much more often than usual and doing 2 puffs on the long-acting one. I wish Dr. Google would diagnose me already and put an action plan together. I think once the IM is over I'll drop the Advair and then get some PFTs. I recently read that swimmers have a higher rate of asthma and wonder if that is what is going on - all those hours as a kid in pools and with the recent storms I've been swimming in the pool more than the sea.

I went for a run the other day and finally identified the weird sound out in the jungle I've heard before - I wild pig. The next day I smelled a smoke fire and I'm hoping someone roasted that big bad boy and are enjoying a tasty dinner. He was not too keen on backing down but when I made weird guttural noises took off into the jungle but each time I go down that stretch of path I think of it as the "pig's home." Just like the crocodile stretch (got turned around once during a storm by a croc who was snapping his jaws at me) and the snake stretch - well the snakes own the entire path but I almost stepped on one hiding under a palm branch. On my last ride with the boys Pike managed to run over a snake (on his bike) and almost immediately afterwards we all had to avoid a croaking, jumping frog. I was waiting for locusts, but instead I got RIDERS. For the first time in a year we came across riders! They were going pretty slow (at that point) so we chatted for quite a while and I found out one of them had won the Veracruz HIM (I later googled him and found he came in 2nd in his AG at the Miami HIM). It was such a treat to ride with others and 2 of them are training for Cozumel.

The cudda chased me out of the water again the other day - I hate that damn cudda - but for some reason swimming in the sea is much easier on my old shoulder injury than the pool. Can't quite figure that one out at all. I'm beginning to wonder what the hell I was thinking earlier this year in signing myself up for this - I've never run a marathon - what makes me think I can do one at the end of an IM? and also worried I've lost all my "distance" bike fitness by not having done anything longer than 120km for weeks but then I got such a sweet email from the pro we're picking up on Thursday that I got a ray of hope.

I had a massage yesterday to try and work out the scar tissue in my calves and was sorely disappointed. It was a 2-hour massage but each and every time she came close to the pain she would back off. Incredibly frustrating. I wanted the pain, I wanted the knots worked out, I was ready to suffer, but she was all "energy" and "center" and "light" and "negative" and whispers and scents and woo woo. I should have known; she lives in Tulum. :) Jamie and I are off on a 90km ride and now I will be adhering to the real plan and go into serious taper next week. I've been going over the plan up to now but next week will be serious sloth taper week.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Caught between denial and dread

So I finally got the courage, after almost the entire season, to go topless. It finally got warm enough (we've been hit with norte tras norte) and I've slimmed down enough to wear just a jog bra. Well, maybe those around me didn't agree wiht the jiggle. :) I'm starting to realize that the long brick I did the other weekend is what has put me into the blahs. It was just too much I think. I just hope I recover in time to do Cozumel. All my big talk about a short taper turns out to be just that, talk. I rode only 5 some hours last week and ran only 4 or more and with only 3-4 hours swimming that made for a short week of training - lowest in at least a month. So much for taper. Fortunately I think I have the saddle issues on the run (so to speak) and will find out for sure today. Jamie also fixed my lack of shifting and what a nice surprise to be able to shift again!

So this week I think I'll adhere to the taper schedule and really back down on the running as I think this is where I really need to be careful. I'm alternately scared about what to come and excited (as my sister is muling down a SHITLOAD of crap), oh and there is that Ironman thing too (lalalala I can't hear you). I know it is going to hurt. I know it will be awful (Jamie keeps telling me about his horrific Terrible Two experience) but I'm hoping it won't all be hell. After all, I'm planning to do it again next year. (the ignorant are so cute, aren't they?) Yesterday I swam a straight 3000 m set and I was surprised at how strong I finished. Hoping it all holds together. Maybe duct tape?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Taper but not like the worm

because here, we definitely got the worm part DOWN!

This last week has been hard. Either the long brick I did last Saturday did me in or all the training has caught up with me because I was hard pressed to hit any of my workouts this week except swimming (which is coming along....(yes) swimmingly!). Run is always good after the first 20 minutes. Bike is hard. I don't want to and yesterday I was so tired after the 1st loop I came home, lay down (in the dust, still under construction) and waited. Then joined by my 15yo (and Jamie, again) I headed out for loop 2. I have some open sores and sitting on that seat was just torture. So I only did 4 hours and headed out for a run. I was STARVING hungry when I got back - I figured out I way underfed myself (630 cal for 5+ hours) and it took a croissant and a bowl of rice with avocado to bring me back to human. It was scary and I almost took off my 15yo's head with my insane rantings at one point. I've never been so hungry before in my life.

I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that I probably have some kind of asthma. I used the rescue (albuterol) inhaler before yesterday's ride and got great relief from it - I've been doing the long-acting stuff (Advair) since my last attack (2-3 weeks ago?) and had one instance in the pool where I needed albuterol. I need to find a good lung doc and see what is what. For now, I think I'm doing ok with 1 puff 2xday of the Advair and albuterol when needed. I'm starting to think my triggers are common cold/respiratory illness and exercise but only together as we're all fighting some cold right now and my first attack (4 days hospitalized) came on the heels of a really bad respiratory illness.

Cozumel is 2 weeks away. That alternately bores me (denial) or terrifies me (no denial). I am looking forward to meeting seeing my sister (who is coming down for the event) and have been busily sending her all kinds of stuff to mule down. Poor dear will be loaded down like a sherpa.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


that last long training session was probably the most important one I have done to date. I totally expected that my legs would not be able to handle 2 hours of running after the 180km ride and I would immediately realize I NEEDED to walk/run the marathon in the IM. What I found was that my legs were GOLDEN. I held 32 min for each 5k until the last one (33min) but found afterwards my feet were mashed meat. I have Morton's neuroma with both feet but haven't been bothered (yet) this season. I'd also done a stand alone 2-hour run with no problem so I was pretty convinced that I *should* be able to run the entire marathon in the IM but needed a solid brick to prove it (or not) to myself. I found my legs were great on the brick but I'm going to have to run/walk the marathon and stifle that ego to get through it. Maybe next year. Yeah, I'm already planning for a do-over for next year. :)

Friday, November 04, 2011

Before and After

Gawds it has been forever and so much has happened and I can't even hope to catch up. Getting nutrition nailed down - will do a 2-hr run after ride tomorrow to see if I want to contemplate NOT doing run/walk (my head keeps telling me to go for it - i.e. no walk - so I need to show it how wrong it is) and I think I will do another 6-hour ride next weekend too. Most plans start the taper (3 weeks) after this week but I would like another long ride under my belt (in my head - I really have become to dread them but since I learn something new each and every ride I know they are good for me). So now the 90km Tulum ride is no longer that big of a deal but every time I go for a short (40km) ride I worry about nutrition (so NOT necessary).

I've been chasing cramping issues and it happens mostly at night or in the water. I had one DISASTEROUS swim around the hurricane where my hands were so frozen that they stayed numb for hours afterwards. I was dreading the next swim So MUCH that I stayed away from the pool for almost a week (well, there were other pressing reasons to miss the pool also like a HURRICANE) and day before yesterday had a good swim (except for the damn cramping). I have GOT to get my mule list together as I think the answer just might be electrolytes. We'll see tomorrow.

We're going to help a profession triathlete come to Cozumel - we'll put him (and his fiance) up here Thursday night and then we'll all head over to the island on Friday. Yikes! The event is creeping up on me. I'm starting to envision parts of it (visualization used to be big when I was a swimmer) but I still have so little hope. I figure 1:30 for the swim (hoping for 1:15 but I've been out of the water so long it isn't funny), 7-7.5 hours for the bike and the "run" is going to be a HUGE question mark. Doubling my HIM run I should be able to do 5 hours but I highly doubt that. HOWEVER, my runs off the bike are getting faster. Weather is changing and midday runs/bikes are not even a second thought. It is still nice (warm) but no longer too hot to go out.

There was a thread at BT about weight loss and since I've lost weight over such a long period of time that I've never really had the opportunity to see the change. I've been around 70 all week and today hit 69.8. I still have some to go but nothing like before. The pictures really kinda shocked me - I had no idea my back end had lost so much. Kinda scary to put the photographic evidence out there...