Monday, December 09, 2013

sponsored by the Duct Tape Advisory Council (aka IMCOZ 2013)

me and my ole man keeping it SFW.  look at my nephew in the background looking for a hole to crawl into...
I know most real triathletes (or those who put at least enough attention to remember to add socks (when they wear them) to their run bag and really... not even one sentence into the post and I'm off and tangent running, but hey, its hard should it be to remember SOCKS?  I'm guessing most real triathletes have lists and what not, but I fly by the seat of my (scorched) pants) put a little more time and effort and thought (yes! finishing that sentence now!) into race planning but this year I was The Most Apathetic ever.  I just couldn't get my head into the game.  I forgot my swim cap and left socks out of my run bag.  I McGyver'ed protection for my coral and rock bloodied heel in transition just before the swim.  I had no respect for the event.  I should have been paying attention to the warning signs.

But I'm a huge proponent of denial and so far, that's my favorite river, so off I headed into the bliss of the unknown.  Since the swim had been shortened I was pretty sure I could do that much, especially as it would be all current assist and likely no rocks or coral to get bashed into.  I still kept a close eye out for the human-hungry cuddas that took out a couple swimmers a couple years before but generally enjoyed the float and took it so easy I almost fell asleep.  I had started waaaayyy to the right of the bouys and had finally made my way over to shore.  I wondered how far I'd gone and for the absolute first time I had a watch on but never really wanted to check it.  I think I was worried I would see 10 minutes on there knowing I had a good hour to go.  I figured it would take me an hour and maybe more.

About 1/2 way through the float we hit a wall.  I was way over near shore with a small pack of 3-4 swimmers, following Mr. Bubbles (I found 2 Mr. Bubbles during the swim and hung out on their feet, letting them do the work and I just followed their strong, bubble-inducing swim.  I actually got a bit miffed when I managed to misplace my Mr. Bubbles but luckily found another) when the current not only stopped carrying us down the coastline but actually reversed on us and our little group along with another group to our right were stopped short and now had to work for our advancement.  This was not the swim I signed up for.  I was promised a float down the Lazy River and I'd be damned if I had to actually exert some effort.  Didn't Cozumel know I'd just gotten over typhoid?  Didn't the current know I'd been tumbled around rocks and coral the day before and the only thing keeping the bulls and tigers (yeah, they're out there, lurking...) away were 2 strips of duct tape keeping the blood contained?

This was NOT the float I had signed up for.  Hmph!

It was a short lived section though, and within 100-200 m we were free and back to our float and before I knew it we were hauling ass up the stairs.  I took my damn time in T1.  Last year I booked it out of there but this year I didn't know how far I'd get before I'd have to abandon (let's just not think about that nasty thought, shall we?  have another martini on de Nile...) so I took my damn time, got as nekkid as an old man in the YMCA dressing room and got all parts situated before heading out.  I think it ended up being close to 10 minutes.

Lap one of the bike was good.  Immediately out of swim my neck was killing me and I was very worried that I would never last the whole bike as your neck just gets more and more sore as the day goes on.  I tried to stay aero in the wind and sit up on the tailwind to try and save my back and neck as it had been so long since I'd been on a ride longer than 2 hours.  By the end of lap 1 my neck was fine and that was a relief.  Saw the famdamily and stopped and then headed out for 2.  Lap 2 I knew the winds would creep up and they did.

I was really surprised by the course marshals though.  I know everyone on slowtwitch was bitching about the lack of course marshals on the bike but in comparison to years past and the halfs the last couple years I was incredibly impressed with the bike marshals.  I don't think I passed 1 penalty tent on lap 2 that was empty.  There were 3 distinct marshals I saw on lap 2 and they were doing their best.  For some strange reason I really believed I had a chance for 6:30 (or even 6:00 - maybe typhoid fever was coming back) as my bike computer was stuck on miles instead of km and I thought my average could be close to 30km/hr since I was without reference in miles.  Maybe the power of positive thinking would convert those pesky miles to 30kph average?

Unfortunately by lap 3 of the bike I couldn't ignore the clock and knew it was going to be about a 7-hour bike.  I should have been happy to just finish it (and holey moley by lap 3 I was VERY READY to get off that bike) and it was incredible seeing the family out there but the thin veil of de Nile was almost gone and I was very worried about the run.  I couldn't help but acknowledge to myself that I was going to have to run a marathon and I was not in any shape to even try that and had no business being out there.  But the famdamily was yelling and cheering and you'd have to be brain dead not to respond to that love, so off the bike, kiss for the old farts (nothing like 80 yo parents to make you feel young again) and off to T2.

I had a roll of duct tape and some Second Skin scrounged from the 7 yo first aid kit from the car.  I took my Damn Time AGAIN, got nekkid as an old man in the YMCA locker room AGAIN and taped up that bloody appendage.  (note, it is 8 days after the IM and my bloody appendages are still healing)  Changed into new clothes (nothing more refreshing than stripping out of stinky, disgusting clothing and putting on clean, new ones) and headed out.  Spent only 7 minutes in T2.  Don't know how I did it that fast.  I ran a lot of lap 1.  I found it incredibly easy and so refreshing after the bike.  I wondered to myself if I should try and do a walk/run and save myself for the other laps and went back and forth, doing some walk/run but mostly running, in awe that I was still out there and feeling better than I had all day.

Maybe I take a REALLY long time to warm up.  

Or maybe it was the calm before the storm.  You know how dying folk get a little better and seem to improve just before they die?  Yeah, I'm thinking it was something like that.  I had eaten 4 GUs (2 hammer and 2 Acai), 2 cliffbars and 3 bottles of Skratch on the bike.  I also had a banana and a bottle of perpeteum before the swim.  I figured my calories were pretty well taken care of.  Now a real triathlete would have planned that out.  I've gotten used to planning nutrition and having that all go to hell and making due on the course.  So I decided this year to just cut to the chase and figure it out on the course.

It killed me to pass by all that nutrition LITERALLY on the bike course.  There were multiple GUs and bars and nutrition All Over the bike course (is this normal in all IMs?  do people just dump stuff and decide not to pick it up?  Every year I see the same and one of these years I'm going to have to do an IM literally eating off the course - picking up all the nutrition that people drop on the course) and it Killed me to leave it all out there.  I kept sending Jamie telepathic messages to pick up bottles and stuff on teh course but would he listen?

Back to the run.  Lap 2, I decided to take on Pepsi.  I did water and Gatorade on lap 1 and figured I'd likely need some sugar for lap 2.  But my stomach really didn't like the Pepsi.  Actually, my stomach didn't really like much of anything and decided to reboot.  And it rebooted a couple times.  Worked just about as well as you'd expect.  Around the turnaround point I got weird.  i was stumbing around like a drunkard and had not a care in the world.  I was damn tired but I was in the middle of something I couldn't stop.  so I kept weaving and stumbling until a Swedish couple (with whom I had gone back and forth most of the bike) stopped me and in very broken English (to my Spanish, I guess when I get drunk I speak Spanish) told me they were taking me to medical.

I argued with them for a bit (I don't think they understood Spanish) before and angel appeared (really, it was very wooo wooo) and spoke to me in Spanish and offered me a nirvana Gatorade.  Last year and the year before when we got to T1 we got these nirvana Gatorade thingies that really revived me the previous years.  It is too weird to imagine that out there in the dark of the course, some angel would speak the language I've decided I speak and offer me the only nirvana I've ever found, but assuming it wasn't a hallucination, I took her offer and within minutes was able to walk without weaving.  The Swedes were happy and I recovered enough English to thank them and head back to town to the waiting famdamily.

dayum it was good to see them.  by the end of lap 2 I was getting tired.  i Really Really wanted to lie down and sleep and I really missed the Brazilian band that usually plays under Punta Langosta but the crowd was on fire (as usual) and the family showing me with love, so off for the last lap.  Normally, my last lap is my fastest and I had vowed to run most of this one.  But a funny thing happened on the way to Intention Land. 

I walked and walked and walked and then tried to run but every time I'd run I'd reboot.  and then dry heave.  and then I'd try to take on liquid because I figured I needed something in me to get through 14 km but stomach was in rejection mode so I would wet down my mouth or swallow something just to have something to come back up.  I hated the walking.  I hated the rebooting.  I hated the dry heaves.  And I really was pissed that I was going to have such a slow time.  And then I started trying to figure out how to cheat the course.  I kept wishing the timing mat wasn't at the end of the loop but there was no way around it, to get through the loop I had to get all the way out and then all the way back.  and runnign wasn't going to happen.  it was going to be slow, with rebooting and dry heaving and walking.

Every IM people say you have to have a reason that you're doing the damn thing.  I never have had one.  I got the closest on this last lap though.  I thought of my dad with bladder and prostate cancer and my sister with sarcoma and how they don't get to choose to do the hard shit but I have a choice to do a hard thing.  So I did it.  I thought of my sister and kept walking.  I still hated it and if my brain could have wrapped around a way to cheat I would have been sorely tempted because it was beyond demoralizing walking and rebooting and dry heaving but that's what I had to do so I did it.

And the finish was beyond amazing.  I was able to run again (oh how feeble the body is when the mind is strong) once I got to the lights of town, took a short break and ran again after the passenger ferry and the absolute GLORY of the screaming fans (not yours - yours are at the finish) and my SON!  at Mega my lovely boy ran out to meet me and then ran quick like a bunny to the finish and the bright lights and This Time, THIS time you don't have to make the turnaround back to the dark of the 14 more km of "run", THIS time you head to the bright lights and the announcer and you know the end is near and THIS, THIS is the reason you do this damn thing.  Six triathlons and for the first time I saw the famdamily at the finish line.  Each and every year (even the half!) I cannot find them and walk/run through the finish in a daze looking and wondering where they are and THIS time I spotted all 13,931 of them.

And it was glorious.

(but next year my shorts will NOT be that short)

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Prerace jitters - IM Cozumel 2013

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  It was the good, the bad and the very, very ugly.  It was Ironman number 3 and by now I should be able to throw one down without a second thought.  I had a few challenges this year, dengue in July, trochanteric bursitis in September, and typhoid in November.  I had an AMAZING half in September and the first time I really raced hard.  I need to look back to that race to remember this year.

I wasn't even the slightest bit concerned about either the IM or the HIM after dengue and somewhat concerned after the bursitis but figured I'd just ride hard when the doctor gave me clearance to ride again.  I had 2 runs in the bank after getting doctor clearance and was hit with typhoid.  Looking back at my training log I was completely out for 10 days.  Once I was finally able to get out of bed and train again, I had less than 3 weeks before the IM and one of those would be a "taper" week.  I had just been 2-1/2 weeks off of bike and run due to bursitis and I was desperate to try and salvage some fitness and finish the IM.

I usually have family visit for the IM in November - it is a perfect vacation time for them with Turkey day and all but it is exam week for the Mexican kids.  This year in addition to a 2nd appearance of the grandparents (my folks) and a 3rd appearance by my sister (and 2nd by her kids and husband), we had the fortune to have the company of my other sister, her husband, and their 4 kids.  Both sisters and most of the kids spent a few days here with us at home before most of us headed over to the island.

I got over to the island super early this year.  Normally we head over Friday but my sister had half her family coming to Cozumel on Wednesday so we all headed over on the early ferry and down to their luxury villa on the south side of the island.  I spent a lovely night in the luxury of the mansion but sleeping alone, I was up at 3am and unable to sleep.  Luckily, we decided to take the kids out of school Friday and Monday so they could enjoy the maximum time with cousins possible and Jamie and the kids headed over to the island Thursday after school and we all headed to our little house after a lovely dinner at the mansion.

By Saturday I was desperate to swim.  I hadn't been in the water all week, between working, logistics and travel it just wasn't going to happen.  All the Ironman swims had been cancelled due to rough water but I didn't really think it was worse than the year before and figured I could handle it and decided to put in around Villablana, the usual spot we go in Cozumel.  I didn't want to spend the gas to drive all the way to Chank.  I got in the water pretty well even though the dock was continued to be hammered and rendered unusable by the storm.  I picked a spot between big waves and got out before they smashed me back into the dock.

Once away from solid objects, the water was fine.  Full of sea grass (ugh) but definitely swimable.  I swam up the coast a bit and then aimed to come out of the water at a spot I had figured out from shore was my best bet.  It might have been my best bet but it was a bloody exit.  I was hammered pretty hard into the rock and coral and days later found more spots that had been scraped up.  It was one of the more stupid things I'd ever done but I had my head planted firmly in De Nile and typhoid or no typhoid, bloody appendages or no bloody appendages, I was going to do the damn event one way or another.  I had been pretty apathetic about it however, not really envisioning the race and just hanging onto the hope that I would finish.  I figured I could likely do the swim, the bike was a question over 130 km and the run was a giant question I had no desire to confront.  I'd stick with De Nile and hope for a miracle.

How bad could it be?

Friday, November 08, 2013

pulling hard for things happen in 3s

this evening the fleeting thought of coffee crossed my mind, so quickly I had to double take as it flew past my brain for it to register.  I have been without the Dark Lord for 4 days now and after 3 days of my throwing out my glorious cup, Jamie didn't even bother to offer me any this morning.  I just would have thrown it away also after trying a sip or two.  And it really didn't even bother me.  I thought maybe the coffee was off.

That's when you know you're really sick and ready to die  - when you go without coffee for 3 days and that doesn't ring the LOUDEST bell in your noggin as a SIGN that something is drastically wrong!

i had just started running and it was so nice to get back out there after 2.5 weeks of bursitis-induced rest and i was feeling somewhat encouraged that maybe i'd still be able to pull our a good race.  i have been thinking for a while now that i should be able to get down to 13 hours and this was my goal for this year.  unfortunately i was hit with a wicked fever after only 2 days return to running which eventually turned out to be typhoid. 

good thing i finally went to the doctor because of all the sickness going through my head, typhoid was not on my radar.  i suspected maybe dengue and more likely flu and every single day that passed without a workout of any sort was i was getting more and more stressed.  i'm now on day 4 of antibiotics and yesterday was my first almost full day out of bed.  i'm getting dressed every day now and spend most of the day out of bed.  i still need a nap and/or rest in the afternoon and today i considered very strongly going for a run. 

i got quite close to actually going but between teh typhoid itself and teh strong antibiotics, i'm not quite there yet.  which leads to the realization (finally) that i'm going to be hurting so incredibly bad during the IM I'm beginning to wonder why start?  i know i can do it (when not felled by typhoid) so, why?  And all i got is that too very many others don't have the bodies or opportunity to do so and if i have the opportunity and my body shows up for the show on december 1st, it is my responsibility to at least give it a try.

course it may be a moot point talking about doing an IM when i'm not yet spending teh day out of bed...3 weeks to go. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

kitchens and rest

Since I seem to have loads of extra free time now that I'm only allowed to swim, I've been catching up on blog reading.  Some of the expats around the country are sharing kitchen photos and I'm jumping on that particular bandwagon (since it is the only jumping I'm likely to be doing in the near future).  I'm really having a hard time with this imposed "rest" as I should be in a huge build right now, training 15 to 20  hours a week and all I think about is how my ass is spreading and how life is going to suck so badly going into the IM half assed.  Blah, blah, blah.  But really, I'm very disappointed.  Not sure if I'll go back to the doctor Friday...

So, back to kitchens...  Here on the peninsula, most all kitchens are outside.  It really is quite logical to have all the heat producing outside your sleeping area and whenever we go to Cozumel and stay in a house I'm once again reminded how weird it is to have all your heat producing activity inside the house where you want to be cool.  But then again, I'm always FLOORED at the shock of warm water coming out of a faucet anywhere, so there is that.

The kitchen is at the back of the palapa  (keeps the dust and dirt and malathion or DDT or whatever they spray) a bit removed from the food.  Actually when the spray trucks come by, we cover most of the kitchen with towels and move the moveable stuff (anything on counters) into the girl's recamera.  The big white fridge is not dirty - that is rust and, yeah, likely some dirt also.  Funny story about that fridge.  We had a very small (for our family) 6 cubic foot or something fridge and a neighbor was upgrading their fridge so they put that one out on the road.  It might have been there 10 minutes and I grabbed Jamie and we wrestled it into our palapa and 4 or 5 years later it is still working like a champ.  We have only one shelf in it though, so all the tall stuff goes there.  We really needed a 2nd fridge as, with 4 kids, you can imagine we needed more than 1 shelf for fridge space so we got the silver fridge on deep discount at Sams.

this is what is the other side of the counter looks like.  We (obviously) have no doors on the cupboards - how would the jungle animals get their snacks or the cockroaches get their homes or the spiders get their meals?  We're thoughtful that way.  Down here it just doesn't make sense to have cupboard doors as stuff inside the cupboard will mold and rot without the air flow.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

and the long stuff begins

So I've actually been able to drag Jamie out with me on the longer rides this year.  We did a 125 km ride the weekend before last, out the road to Coba from Tulum and it was really nice for him to ride on a new road.  I've ridden out that road a number of times before and honestly I don't like it.  There are dogs out there and the road surface sucks but it was really nice to listen to him oooohing and ahhhing over all the new stuff.  When you have only 1 road for hundreds of kilometers, you get excited by the smallest things.

then last weekend we were aiming for 5 hours and ended up headed down past Tulum a little south of Muyil.  We passed a lot of newly developed cenotes once past Tulum and I have an itch to go check them out.  Might have to wait until after IMCOZ.  Might be good to check out with the folks.  The road was SO QUIET out there- no dogs, no cars, just the road, the sun, the jungle and us.

a very hot Jamie with 45 km left to go on his longest ride yet (150km). stopped in Tulum for cold drinks

I had a 14km trail run scheduled for Sunday (tomorrow) and had been wondering how I was going to fit in work Saturday, the run Sunday, taking Ellen for nail polishing, more work, and a long ride.  I inadvertantly found a way on Thursday night after my bike ride.  I've had achy hips for probably a year now but only on the bike and figured if it was a real problem I would have them on the run also.  Made sense to me...

even the bikes had shade in Tulum.  So after my usual Thursday ride (and I'm getting better and better keeping my HR at 85% on those short rides) it really hurt to get off the bike.  My left hip has been off and on waking me at night and bothering me but not enough to really call my attention.  This got my attention.  By bedtime I could barely move and was in enough pain to take tramadol (which allowed me to sleep fitfully).

i figured it would be better by morning but it wasn't.  Google and the guys at Slowtwitch didn't really narrow the diagnosis down much so Dailene gave me a referral to a doctor who treats Los Tigres in Cancun and Jamie and I headed off last night to see what he said.  Apparently it is trochanteric bursitis and he gave me a few meds to take since I declined the injection.

Honestly, if you want your patient to get an injection, don't describe it as "a really, really long needle and I'll try to aspirate what I can, but the fluid is gelatinous, and then I'll inject a TEEENY TEENSY TINY, just the SLIGHTEST HINT of steroid".  Really?  that's your pitch?  Immense pain followed by more intense pain followed by the slightest hint of pain relief? 

But this morning I'm thinking I might just take the bus up there sometime next week as the clinic is SUPER close to the bus station and get a nice injection.  He said last night 3 weeks before I can train again.  I have 7 weeks to IMCOZ.  Ramping up my training from running injury.  Honestly, I can't afford the time off.  BUT, since I can't train this weekend, you will find me glued to the computer (either working or watching IM Kona coverage) and taking my youngest to get her nails done.  I should have no excuse to hit 12.5 K swimming next week now that my shoulder is back to normal.  Dayum, bodies tend to break down when you get old, eh?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cozumel HIM 2013 recap

So I really thought I had no chance.  I had convinced myself that my lack of swimming the past few weeks and complete lack of run and huge decrease in bike the last 2 months had doomed my chances.  I had trained well in the beginning of the year, up to about July, but July and August sucked in training due, no doubt, to dengue.  I was hoping my early season training might get me through the race in a respectable time but I had very little hope.  It was the first time I'd not visualized a race at all - I was very meh about the whole idea.

Last year I had the same time goal but with more bike and run training;however fell quite short and had a didn't do the time I thought I should have.  I was really avoiding thinking about the race and had no expectations.  I think I finally got into the race about an hour before it started.  We took the longest ferry again.  The ferry on the Friday before a race must always run a couple hours behind schedule and be loaded to the brim.  We finally got over to the island about 5 hours after we left the house (5 km up the road and 10km across the water).  This picture is from the ferry line.

Pike and Jamie went with me to package pickup and then we just hung out at the house the rest of the day.  We invited one of Ellen's friends over (and she took the ferry over by herself!) and she and the girls decided to skip the swim start so race day it was just Jamie and the boys to accompany me to the swim start.  We left much later than usual and found out a very important piece of information.  Most all the street closures happen between 530 and 6 am, so leaving at 6am will have you in a bit of a panic trying to get out onto the malecon.  I got to the start with about 10 minutes at transition before we headed out to the water but frankly, that was about all I needed.  Maybe next time I'll leave a little bit more fudge time. 

 rooftop view from the house we stayed at.  definitely a 10/10 especially with FIVE beds!

Again, like last year, the oldest of the farts started first, right after the pros and we were off pretty quickly.  I snagged some feet and a hip for the first time in a long time and pushed the pace.  I had to keep reminding myself that this was the half, not the full, and I could afford to go harder, though I honestly had no game plan other than to push as hard as I could but still be able to hold on for the run.  I didn't feel like we had a current-assisted swim this year but neither were we against teh current.  It was super tranquilo and flat seas. 

I was All Over the course though.  I kept choosing the wrong person to follow.  I noticed that only one wave had caught up and was somewhat encouraged by that but had no idea how I was doing.  At one point I rounded a buoy and had empty seas ahead of me until I popped up and realized I had started swimming BACK across the course and had to reverse and come back to the course.  Empty water rounding a buoy is a great clue for me now to make sure I'm actually on course.  :)  I was shocked that the end had come up so quick as I had expected a much longer swim but was very happy to find the steps and exit (not before completely missing them and starting to swim under the pier).  I was definitely  direction challenged today.  I found out later that most likely the swim was short, so my most excellent time was likely not quite so excellent after all.

I had not seen any of the boys or Jamie before the swim, coming out of the water or heading out on the bike.  I figured something must have happened or the boys had to leave early (they were volunteering at the finish) so off to the bike.  For the entire road across the island to the East side, my legs were just gone.  I was doing 25-27kph and my heart rate was in the low 140s and high 130s.  I was really worried that my legs had forgotten to show up for the event and my goals were were quickly disappearing.  I was getting passed by group after group and at one point identified a lady in my AG blatantly drafting off 2 of her compañeros.  I was getting very discouraged.

Luckily, I came upon an aid station and upon realizing I had inadvertently left my planned bike nutrition at transition, I added a bottle of gatorade to the 2 bottle of Skrach and very shortly, just after turning onto the windy side my legs woke up and I started to ride.  I remember being SO GLAD they showed up AND that it seemed we actually had a tail wind on the East side (rather than the usual howling cross winds) and my speed climbed to 31-34 and my HR fell to the very low 130s.  I kept looking down at my legs and thanking them for showing up over and over almost the whole ride.  I then lived off the course to ensure I had enough sugar to keep me moving.

I found another lady in my AG who was being very blatantly drafted off by another lady in our AG and thanked my legs again for showing up to the dance and decided to hang back from them about 7m (legal draft).  Watching them, it seemed like the lady in front had no idea of her little leech but she also wasn't against sitting on a guy's wheel for a while.  I passed her a few times but she always made a point to pass me back so I figured she just liked being in front and let her lead.  I also let her decide the pace.

They say to always race your own race and not your competitor's race but she had a good pace, I could hold it, I didn't want to lose my placing (thanks legs AGAIN) and my HR was okay.  I managed to jump in front of her just before the timing mats though to keep my placing.  Just before T2 I saw the whole famdamily and I had to stop and greet them which resulted in her beating me to T2.  I hoped she wasn't a strong runner but I wasn't about to just ride by my family and yell out a greeting.  They deserved hugs and kisses so I stopped.

Once on the run course I checked my watch and realized my bike MUST have been under 3 hours and that knowledge kept me going strong. I pushed the pace as much as I could on the run with the only goal being to hold off the rest of the old ladies from passing me, run the entire run (no walking) and keep the rubber side down.  The 2nd lap the skies opened, DUMPED, lightened up and then dumped and dumped and dumped to such a degree that we were running through water up to our calves in normal and deeper at other super flooded areas.

I got SO MUCH energy from the crowds on the first lap, this course is like none other.  The fans are AMAZING and they make the event such a great experience.  I couldn't help but think, however, how hard this was and the full is double.  At the finish the clock was not working and I didn't start my watch until the bike, so I had no idea of my swim or finish time, but seeing my boys at the finish, working as catchers, pushed any idea of a clock out of my mind and I grabbed the both of them and we headed towards pizza.

Even though I've done the full twice before, today has really scared me for the full.  This was hard for me - I pushed in all 3 events - and while I know I can't hold these paces for the full, I'm worried I'm just not up for the full this year.  I'm stiff, sore, feet are like hamburger and I'm hurting tonight.  I hate to think what that means for the full....but I am Very Proud of this race.  I was racing it, not just doing it.  I was checking the calves of any female coming near me (checking for AG identification) and other than 3 aid stations where I took on Pepsi, I never walked AND I kept the pace up (for me). 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

off road triathlon. how hard could it be?

Earlier this year when I saw the rise in sprint prices from $500 to $1000 and more I realized I wouldn't be doing too many triathlons.  When I started a couple years ago I was doing the first edition of triathlons offered and the sprints ran around $500.  I figured that was reasonable.  However, the sport is exploding.  This year we got a state organization and sprints are popping up all over the place but the kids aren't going to put themselves through school, so I knew I'd be backing off the races this year.

I was intrigued enough, however, to sign up for an off-road triathlon that couldn't quite get enough participants the year before.  I just needed a mountain bike.  Well, I figured I did.  I thought it was likely that the event would be just on gravel roads versus paved roads but figured I might fall with the road bike.  Boy, was that an understatement of thought.  I liked the distances - 1km swim, 21km bike (how hard could that be?  we do that in around 30 minutes on our road bikes...) and an 8km (ish) run through the jungle.

I had seen mention of a beach finish and figured people were just being pussies and bellyaching about the sand run.  At any rate, with no concrete to run on, my hips would thank me as well as my complaining ankle.  So I signed myself up and tasked Jamie with cludging a mountain bike out of spare parts.  And he did.  It was more steel than rust (pretty much) and the gears decided what gear they'd be in, not me, but the wheels rolled and the handle bars steered and the seat stayed in place.  After all, it was only 21k; how long could that take?

I looked up the finishing times the night before and was floored to see women finishing in the 3- to 4-hour range.  This was very confusing.  I figured I'd take some gels and Skratch (electrolyte mix) and see what happened.  I found out that there was no water on the bike course so I decided to take 2 large bottles on teh bike and 1 small in my jersey.

I had a GREAT swim and came out first woman (it was a small field).  I threw my bike jersey on and headed out on the bike only to find it was a ride comprised of slabs of rocks, giant boulders, tree roots, logs crossing the path.  I figured it was likely hard at the start but it HAD to get better/flatter/more like a road, RIGHT?  ah, no.

I caught trees in my handlebars, waddled through deep sand I couldn't ride through and kissed a lot of slabs of rocks.  Towards the end of the first loop I was so done I was just going to quit.  I was having No fun, it was Sissy's birthday and it just didn't seem worth the trouble to be away from family on an important day doing something that was so NOT FUN.  Unfortunately I was on the 2nd loop before I knew it and figured I may as well finish the thing.  I thought I was muddy from spray from the course until I took a bath in a rancid mud puddle after one of my many falls.  then I KNEW
I was muddy.

I was never So Glad to get off the bike.  The run was back out in the jungle, on the single track, and much more manageable when you only had to dodge trees with your body and not bike.  The run ended with about 750m of deep sand run because apparently the event needed to make it just that extra bit harder.  I'll never do one again.  My hands were full of blisters, cramped into claws from holding the handlebars and I had a hard time locating the blood and bruises under the mud.

Punta Venado is a lovely location though and the organizers are putting on a run there in October.  That just might pull me in, especially since there will be NO bike involved!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

here we go again

so i guess this is getting to be old hat now - I'm a grizzled veteran of the triathlon circuit after only 3 years.  Go figure.  I guess if you keep doing the same ones over and over and 2 of those 3 same ones are on the same course, you get grizzled in only 3 years.  I've done the full twice and this will be my 2nd half here on Cozumel, so this will be the 4th time on this course.  In November I'll have #5.  It is a GORGEOUS course and that really helps.  Not having the $ to go anywhere else even though Cozumel is a "destination" triathlon for so many might be another reason for my lack of excitement. 

Or maybe it is the fact that I had hopes (where I get these ideas into my head I have NO IDEA) of placing top 3 this year.  Honestly, I just don't think I've put in the training to achieve that result, but just like last year's expectation of hitting a 6-hour time (that was unrealistic) again this year I have (what will likely be) the unrealistic goal of 6-hour time AND top 3.  I mean, if your first goal was unrealistic, why not pile another one in there too?  I can't even blame this on lack of sleep and being up since 3am as I've had this goal for a while. 

The ferry, as usual, took FOREVER (yeah, I'm jaded about a ferry ride on the Caribbean).  By now we should be used to this but rushing around to get the kids from school, pack the car, (one of these years I am going to make a LIST), get to the ferry terminal and then wait for 3 hours to board.  I always try to get the planta baja as it is so much easier than dragging the van's ass on the metal of the floor as we attempt to drive up the 45 degree (so it seems) ramp.  I got super luck this time but we were about the 3rd last on the ferry.  Ferry was so packed they turned one truck away.  Don't think I've ever seen that before. 

Course, last on = first off and while we were packed in so incredibly tight that the only door that could be opened was the drivers (and this was after a car was moved so we could get that one open) we probably got off about an hour before those waiting on the 2nd deck.  I really felt sorry for the folks waiting for the ferry going back across.  Last one of the night and we docked an hour late.  They will have had a LONG night.  These races are getting bigger and bigger here in Mexico and each one I see more and more athletes and bikes and fancy stuff on the trip over to the island.  Other than truck drivers, I think everyone on the ferry was coming for the event. 

We are LOVING this house.  I think we get a different house each trip and this is the best so far if, for absolutely nothing else, EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN BED.  When you have 4 kids and not so much $, you tend to crowd kids wherever and the boys almost always end up on a couch IF they're lucky.  This place has THREE bedrooms and FIVE BEDS.  I can't remember the last time we had enough beds for everyone.  We didn't get here until after 9pm so no clue as to the rest but we're SUPER close to T2 and that's about as good as it gets.  I've been up since 3am getting some work done (I had no clue how early it was when I originally got up and tried to go back to bed but no dice) so I am sure I'll be napping later IN MY OWN ROOM!!!  Doesn't take much to impress me. 

I really need to start visualizing the race and preparing for it because I seriously have not given it a second of thought.  Goal 1:  A 6-hour race.  Goal 2:  Place in top 3 (likely 3rd if I get lucky enough).  Rationalization and/or training to achieve the aforementioned goals?  Um, well, that could be a problem.  If this race had been in July, I might have had a to come.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

the rest of bacalar

We had SUCH a good time in Bacalar we decided to really drag out the day coming home.  IIRC I let the kids take a day off school and we found a rancho I'd read about and the girls took us on a horseback ride.  They really wanted to run the horses but these were not jumping horses.  Both girls did, finally, coax gallope out of both their mounts but I think they had more fun running the horses in the ring than the lovely passage through the jungle to the laguna.  Jamie and I had a GREAT time watching but riding a horse is definitely Not My Thing.  It sure was fun to have them be the masters looking out for us and telling us what to do though.

Chilling at Laguna Bacalar after the swim

 the rancho had a pool also and we put it to good use

sissy getting her mount to gallope

almost at the laguna - took about 30 minutes from the rancho

sissy giving Jamie pointers

the laguna via horseback

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

three-quarters of a year.

I guess I somehow deleted the beginning of this...So Jamie and I decided to do a 40km time trial out towards Cancun in the spring.  I got lots of good advice from Slowtwitch along with warmup and training advice and thought I might have a chance in the top 5 to 10.  They were only paying out top 3 though and I really wanted my entry fee ($200 pesos) back, so I was hoping.

We had gone out the weekend before to get a feeling of the road and thought we figured out the start and turn around and found that while it is pretty easy to average 32kph here (with and against the wind) out there seemed to be a strange vortex of energy or whatever that kept our HR up high and our average speed pretty pedestrian.  Very strange.  After our pre-race reconnaissance we were rather worried we would place very low (if at all) and I was hoping against hope for more women in my age category as I didn't think I had much of a chance against the young women.  The same organizers put a team time trial on later in the year but we never managed to put the energy into finding a 3rd person for our team.

 I killed myself, averaging 148 HR or so and with 3 km left completely died.  When I finally crossed the finish line I could barely stay on my bike and actually just got off and lay down in the road.  At least I left it all out there.  I somehow managed 2nd in my age group (25+) and 3rd overall.  Beat by a teenager (IIRC) for overall position!  :)  Jamie took his category by at least 15 minutes or more.  Kicking some old man ass. 

We'll definitely be back for the next event they have though.  There were very pro-looking teams coming from all over the peninsula.  Apparently, quite the event. 

On the kid front, Sissy's school participated in the millon a pie (can't remember what the engish version was) but a world-wide event, which involved one of her newly found loves (thanks to school), dancing.  Apparently the moms were also invited to participate.  They held the event just off the beach and it was really fun to watch them.  Plus they got about 1/2 a day off school!

Jesse's school then put on their 10th anniversary concert at a local bar and we all spent the day at the beach (such trials and tribulations :)) and had a great time listening to the music, watching the dance and getting a sneak peak at their newest performance, Les Miserables.  I had been very skeptical of this musical as i didn't think they'd be able to touch their amazing performance of All Shook Up but the entire family really enjoyed Les Miz once the performance rolled around.  That school continues to amaze me with the quality of their performances.  The girls ran the Ak Lu'um 5k again this year which Ellen topped with a 1K for the kids as she still had energy left over.  The girls don't really race it, they just go to support Ellen's school and have fun.

I'm have so many pictures I'm just going to have to post them separately.  This is going to get long now... :)

I decided to race a 10K at Father's Day and Jamie and I spent a lovely day in Akumal afterwards snorkeling and hanging out.  I was pleased with my time (56 minutes) and will definitely do this one again and maybe next time be able to entice the family to come spend the day in Akumal.  Such a nice spot to spend a Sunday and The Best way to recover from a 10K run.

Both girls had a horse competition the day of my usual sprint triathlon so I consoled myself with a sweet jersey from this year's event and had a GREAT time with the girls.  They both eventually decided to compete both days (instead of just one) and Ellen just missed out on medals.  Sissy took home some great prizes (AI certificate and plaques) as well as a first place on the 2nd day.  Both girls looked GREAT on their mounts and, more importantly, cheered on their fellow competitors and had a great time.  The biggest disappointment was that the paleta cart had no corriente so we had to scarf down enough paletas on the first day to content us for the entire competition.

I then set my sights on Bacalar for their yearly open water event.  Last year I somehow missed the date and the year before I was wicked sick with a chest thing.  I've been wanting to do this event for 3 years (even paid one year) and this was going to be my year.  We found a house to accommodate the dog (it is a small town and this event completely fills all the hotels there, so it wasn't an easy task) and headed down.

(a 3-hour tour.  this is why we need a van - to carry our MOUNTAINS of crap)  Actually we had planned to do some riding in unfamiliar lands while we were there but Jamie got sick and I decided to just hang with the kids and had to be content with my swim and then outsmarting the federales trying to fleece me for $3000 for imagined infractions.  I finally broke down and did the stupid tourist "I no speak espanish" (having used the subjunctive tense previously, I miraculously lost all ability to speak Spanish and could only speak English) and it worked.  From now on i think I no longer speak Spanish when it comes to cops.  We left super early in the morning and it about killed me to bypass this place offering coffee, but I managed to survive.  Barely...

We actually stayed out of town by 5km or more and had a great time there.  We walked to the river (that feeds Laguna Bacalar) and had a great time paddling around in the kayak.  Jesse managed to cross the river but also to lose his snorkeling mask.  I think Pike was the only one uninterested in the river, but we had fast internet and a massage chair at the house and those were hard to compete with.

We all really enjoyed hanging out in the house with the lovely view of the laguna and fresh breeze.  The girl ran about the GRASS!!! in the backyard when we weren't in the water, running from the law or swimming 5k.  It was a GREAT vacation.

fresh from kayak and swim

the kids room.  one each to a bed, sissy in the hammock and pike made himself a bed in the closet.  worked for them!

I had just, about a month before, started increasing my swimming, trying for 10k/week but failing miserably but hoped to just have a good time.  The first lap wasn't that bad but that second lap was trying.  The water seemed to have a good chop to it and the base of the triangle of the swim seemed to be very difficult to swim against current.  But I've never done a 5K in the water before and figured it was par for the course.  When I got out and noticed my time I was severely disappointed.  I guess I get used to being a big fish in a small pond (what with the infancy of the sport here and my age, I'm usually a shoe-in to at least place in most all events) and this was a HUGE blow to my ego.

It is SUCH a pretty event though that I know I'll be back next year - even if I have to downgrade to the 2.5 K.  :)  SO worth it!

 However, it really caused me to look hard at my swimming and put a much greater effort into it.  Luckily, soon after the event, the triathlon message board I frequent started a swimming challenge which soon got me to 10k/week.  But I first had to get over dengue, which I must have picked up in Bacalar.  That really set my training back and after my saddle issues last year at this same time, I'm beginning to think I need to dedicate a rest month to July or something will cause me to have a rest month one way or another. 

I'm going to have to put this past weekend's race in a separate post and maybe that will keep me updating more regularly.  Can't hurt.