RACE WEEK - CHATTY 2018

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RACE WEEK - CHATTY 2018

I can’t believe it’s here! It’s already race week. I leave in only a few days and I am excited and nervous and ready as I’ll ever be.

It’s been a crazy season. I haven’t written much about it, but it’s been wild. I’ve gotten injured (hamstring), I had a hard spill on the bike, I had a big race A-HA in August, a big race meltdown in September and we had a major hurricane disrupt life and training. It makes me feel unprepared in many ways, but maybe I’m even more prepared than I know. I can use my experiences as an excuse or I can use it as fuel.

Here’s what I do know, I am looking forward to a new race experience. Chatty is new to me and I know from my past races that I can thrive that way. Similar to France and Santa Rosa, this race will mean new terrain and a slightly different climate. The swim is a down-river-with-the-current course, the bike is 114 miles (not the traditional 112) up and around Lookout Mountain and the run will be the hilliest I’ve ever done.

Of course, I’ve had a few full-circle moments in the lead-in to this race. Last year during my Level II Endurance certification clinic, I created a presentation about Stephanie - a triathlete with her first Ironman in her sights. She wanted to do Chatty and place in the top ten of her age-group. I immersed myself in that Chatty race. I found pictures and a few race reports and blogs to add to my presentation. It was shortly after that that I signed up for this race myself! On September 1 of this year, I turned the page on my office wall calendar to find a picture of a runner on the Walnut Street Bridge in Chatty, the one I will cross twice and the one that will take me into the finish area of the race on Sunday.

The quote for September:

Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run.
— Steve Prefontaine
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COACH'S CIRCLE - CATCH-UP DRILL

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COACH'S CIRCLE - CATCH-UP DRILL

This story is not about a swim drill. This is my way of speeding through all the things I want to write to get caught up. Sometimes I feel like this blog is a good friend and I've got to catch her up on all the fun stuff that has happened in order to convey all the new stuff that's about to happen! So here we go......

 Happy Place: in a Hammock outside our clinic classroom.

Happy Place: in a Hammock outside our clinic classroom.

USAT TRIATHLON CLINIC Last October, right after my last race of the year and my 50th triathlon, Ace and I took a vacation/work trip to Hawaii! It was my first time there and I was spellbound. It was a combination of everything I love: ocean, adventure, relaxation, play and yes, triathlon. My primary intention for the trip was the USA Triathlon Level II Endurance coaching certification clinic. It felt like play to me. Even though we spent FAR too much time in inside, I relished every morsel of swimbikerun education that the Level III coaches fed to us.

I was in heaven. It was three days of high-level coaches teaching about long course triathlon. Plus, there were only 11 other coaches there for the clinic. It was a small group of talented, diverse and inspiring mentors for triathletes. There were presentations on nutrition, strength training, video analysis and athlete psychology on top of swimbikerun tips, techniques and theories.

My favorite part? The final presentations. Each of us was given a case study of an impossible athlete. My athlete was Stephanie and she was a piece of work. She wanted to do Ironman Chatty - but never take a day off. My presentation (which had to take into account all that we'd learned over three days) had to show how I could make that happen. In ten minutes or less.   I pulled out all the stops, created a kick-ass slide show complete with a Wonder Woman slide and practiced in my off time! I will brag and say I got a huge round of applause, but it may have been because I was last and we were all ready to get out of there!

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And go play.

Because, oh......did I mention that all of this was happening during the IRONMAN World Championships? More on that to come.........

 

 

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THE SANDLING BEACH 50

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THE SANDLING BEACH 50

WAAAAAY BACK IN OCTOBER........I did my FIFTIETH TRIATHLON! I wrote about it, but never published it. I'll tell you why later. In the meantime, here's the recap:

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NUMBER 50 IN THE BOOKS! On Sunday, I took on the Sandling Beach 50 - a one mile swim + 40 mile ride + 9 mile run - for my fiftieth triathlon. The headline news: I missed first place in my age-group by THREE SECONDS! The subtitle: Number 50 might have been my best race ever. 

The day before the race at check-in, I presented my USAT card and signed my waiver and said, I'm number 21. Nope, said the race timer (and my dear friend Renee). Your number had been changed - to NUMBER 50! Suddenly I was STOKED to be racing. How cool! I'd been downplaying the significance and it really was a BIG deal. The next morning, I found a balloon at my bike rack that said: Happy 50th Triathlon! on one side and Go Beth Andrew on the other.  Even the temp on race morning was 50 degrees!

I had been downplaying the race in my mind. It's not a big deal. It's the last race of the season. I've done six races in 12 weeks (I'm tired!). I'm not trained for hills. I had achieved so much already this season. But, suddenly - it was a big deal! I got so excited.

Somebody asked me the other day if these races remain competitive to me and Sunday proved: YES. Yes they are.

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The swim was a self-seeded rolling start which meant you could start anywhere in the line. I started in the first 20-30 people and tried to be one of the first women out. We crossed the timing mat on the beach and entered the water about 10 seconds apart. It was a beautiful swim. It was two lap loop and I got to see Renee and John and Bill (Set Up Events pros) at the turn. They gave me an atta, Girl! and I gave them a thumbs up and jumped back in. The swim seemed to fly by and the only trouble I had was on the first loop - sighting on the shore and the turn-around. I think that the sun was in just the right spot to annoy my view of the wiggly man and turn buoy. I finished in 27:42, faced an uphill run into transition and headed out on the bike.

As good as the swim was, I didn't feel strong on the bike. I felt cold. And off my game. I also just didn't care. I was apathetic and felt like I was just along for a spin. My legs felt a little heavy. At the start of the second loop I was wishing I was finished - and I still had 20 miles to go. Parker and Anna were even out on the course with an AMAZING sign and although it gave me lift, I just wasn't right. And then, a woman with a 49 on her calf passed me. And it got worse.  Oh well, I thought. That's okay. It's not my day. I'm just happy to be doing number 50.  I soft-pedaled up the next hill.

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And then, I woke up.

All of sudden my competitive fire lit up. Burn it up! I said out loud. Just stay with her as long as you can. You are strong. Keep her in your sights. You don't have to beat her on the bike, you can catch her on the run if you stay close. Stay with her. And I did. I was within 30 seconds of her for 10 miles. I spent that whole time counting landmarks. She'd reach a landmark and I'd count how long it took me. Eventually, her lead stretched out and I could no longer see her. But something had clicked. What would normally have been disappointment turned into determination. I was going to catch her.

But, she had an 11-minute lead going into T2. That is a pretty big lead in a nine mile race. I had two advantages, I didn't know she was 11 minutes ahead and I knew I'd be able to see her on the course. There is something about seeing my competition that makes me want to race. If I can see you ahead of me or if I know you're behind me, I will race you. Plus, I had two process goals: to run with my metronome and to not walk.

I had been training with my metronome on my Garmin for about two months and had already done two races with it. It is a three-fold wonder: it keeps my turn-over on track, it gives me something to think about and it regulates my breathing. I had it set a little high, but knew that even on the hills, I would be able to keep up with the alert or at least get back into the groove. I had done two September races without walking on the run, but I had trained most of the year (for Santa Rosa) with a walk/run strategy. It is so nice to walk. And I knew I'd be tempted to walk up the hills. I promised that even if it was just a shuffle, I would run up those hills.

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And I did. I counted nine hills in those nine miles. I ran up all of them - with 10 steps of fast walking on hill number 7. The great thing about this race is that there are four spurs in the two loop course. That means you can see the other runners and how close they are to you as you pass on the out and backs. I finally spotted number 49 as I climbed the second major hill. She was coming toward me and I started counting again. I was about seven minutes back. Yikes. I stuck to my plan and saw 49 at mile 3.5. She was probably five minutes ahead. But, she was walking up a hill. 

I'll pause for a 20-second commercial break and say it was an amazing run. The weather was perfect. The sun was shining, it was low humidity and the temps were in the mid-60s. The best part were the volunteers. Right near transition,  a group of young women volunteers directing traffic. Evidently, they had seen my balloon and heard about it being my 50th - and thought it was my BIRTHDAY! So they cheered and sang and wished me happy birthday every time (four!) that I ran through that area. It was hilarious and I wasn't about to correct them. Especially, when they remarked how good I looked for 50! Ha!

Anyway, back to the race! I did not give up my plan even though the next few times I saw her she was running and looking strong. Instead of getting discouraged, I just kept my my feet moving to the metronome and moving forward. In fact, I did not pass her until mile seven. She sighed and said, good job when I passed and I said Atta Girl! C'mon! Let's do this. I slowed for half a second thinking she would take the challenge but then changed my mind - afraid she would take the challenge. I felt like I skipped up that last hill. I suddenly felt like Mirinda Carfrae in the 2014 Ironman World Championships. I had come back from a HUGE deficit and had overtaken my rival.

I was giddy and pushed to the end.

I crossed the line in 4:17:23 - my run time was 1:26:12. Renee was there to celebrate with me and watch as I jumped up and down. I grabbed a water and waited under the finish tent. We turned around and waited for 49 to come across the line. When she came in view I cheered and screamed like I'd known her my whole life. Congrats! I gushed when she crossed the finish. You kept me on my toes and running for my life! She. Was Not. Amused. She mumbled something like thanks and walked away. Renee looked at me and we both busted out laughing. Oops.

A little while later the results were posted.

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THREE SECONDS.

The funny thing was.....I was not disappointed. Okay, maybe a little. But - I was also really proud of myself. I joked about it with Renee. I got teased about it by one of the event directors as I stood on the podium in second place. [Three seconds? Three seconds? he asked into the microphone.] I called ACE and Anna and three other friends on the way home to tell the story.

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I fought hard. I was my own best coach. The good wolf won over the bad wolf. I pushed myself. I didn't give up. I worked hard and focused on the processes it took to get the outcome I wanted. I might as well have won! I was smiling from ear to ear. [It also helped that even after John made fun of me, he also made a big hoopla about it being my 50th triathlon!]

My favorite thing about triathlon is the lessons I learn about myself along the way. It's one of the reasons why I keep at it. There is always something knew to discover and uncover. It took me one race - that first one -  to learn how to move past my comfort zone. It took me until this last one to learn how to really fight until the end. I can't wait to see what happens in the next 50.

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TIME-OUT

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TIME-OUT

FOUR WAYS TO TURN YOUR SET BACK INTO A SET UP FOR A COMEBACK

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It's been a long time since you've had a set back, said a friend about a month before my hamstring quit playing. Sigh. I think she jinxed me and now I want to set her back. [You know who you are.]

It's true though. I've been lucky. The last time I had an injury was 2014. I broke my calf. Well, It felt like that anyway. Way back then, while warming up for a 5k, I started my skips and bounds and then BOOM. You know that sound of the bass drop when the space ship jumps to hyperspace? Yeah. I heard that. I thought I'd been shot. And I nearly dropped to the ground. It made me nauseaus and woozy. I hobbled into the expo of the race and found some ice for my calf and a glass of wine for my feelings and cried while all my friends finished their race. The next morning,  I remember lying on the floor of our sunroom and crying to Ace; whining that I couldn't run and that it hurt to sleep and I'd never be able to race again and and blah blah freaking blah.

This hamstring injury was not as dramatic as that.  But, I AM. And I'd knew I'd have a come-apart at some point. I haven't had as many tears, but I did have a mini-freak-out about two weeks in. There is a fear that snuck in and said - it's over. Discouragement took over. It said: you'll never get it back. Shame played its part: how could you let this happen?  Pity had a party: everyone else is running, why can't I? and But, I don't want to be injured.

I knew what to do: I called my coach/mentor/friend to talk me off the ledge. The next day at swim practice she brought me a goodie bag. It was filled with lotions and potions and her Compex and a note that read: you are a ROCKSTAR. It made me smile and I stepped away from the Cliffs of Insanity. 

I decided to see this as a TIME-OUT. In basketball (#goheels), time-outs are called for various reasons: to stop the momentum of the other team, to change up your game strategy, to draw up a specific play, fire up the team or rest your players. I'm resting this player.

GIVE GRACE: It's one of the 4Gs. In the middle of this GRUEL (another G), I am giving myself a little GRACE. A little forgiveness. A little time. A little love. Whenever there's a run in my plan, I've given myself the gift of a massage, or a PT session, or a freakin' nap! Give it to yourself and your aching body. Don't rush the process.  Give yourself the time to heal. Rest.

DRAW UP A SPECIFIC PLAY:  Make a plan to get back into the game. Make it as specific as you can. I often tell my athletes that my advice for coming back from an injury is the same that a doctor would give to an addict leaving rehab and fearing relapse: YOU CANNOT GO BACK TO THE SAME DOSE YOU HAD WHEN YOU STOPPED. So create a plan - or hire a coach to help you create a plan - that eases you back into your normal training load. Otherwise, you will overdose.

FIRE IT UP/LOOK FORWARD: Get excited. I have had to drop three races off my schedule this spring. Instead of wondering what could have been, I've had to shift to thinking about what IS on my schedule. I've gotten to make new goals.  I've fired up my YouTube browser to find inspirational videos. Use this time to imagine what it will be like to come back from the setback. How will this add to your story?

LOOK BACK: Reflect on your successes from the past few months. Enjoy your victories from last year! And, you can always go back to your one word. Go back to the word you chose for this year and ask a million questions, starting with: how can I see this as............? [Gratitude? Resolve? Honor? Posture? FillintheBlankWithYourWord].  My one word for 2018 is FULL-CIRCLE. So, my question is: How can I see this as FULL-CIRCLE? The answer: One of the reasons I got into triathlon is because I got injured running! I was bored and had a now-forgotten injury (bursitis in my hip?). I knew that swimming and biking would make me a well-rounded athlete and was great cross-training. Plus, it felt just like being a kid again! How's that for FULL-CIRCLE?!

Plus, the year I had my calf strain, when I didn't run for six weeks and wore a boot at night and acting like a whiny-wort was the year that I had my best Ironman (by an hour) and placed third in my age-group. #thebestisyettocome

Whether you're injured or stuck, you can use these four tools to set yourself up for the next right step. How do you set yourself up for your comeback?

 

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PIGGY-BACK

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PIGGY-BACK

It started with a piggy back ride in Haiti. With a kid on the front and a kid on my back I raced back and forth on the gravel yard against Jennifer who had two other kids from the orphanage hanging from her neck and shoulders. We took turns loading kids, running to the sour cherry tree and back. Those out and backs almost felt better than crossing the finish line at Ironman. Almost.

 ECHO Haiti

ECHO Haiti

My functional strength training prepared me for all the squats to get kids on my back. It helped me lift kids over my head. It helped me balance and dance and play duck-duck-goose.  I felt a little sore all over later that evening and was pretty sure I had kick-marks on my booty from the piggy-back rides, but overall felt strong. Haiti was good for body, heart and soul. 

Fast forward to the week before Easter.  I did water aerobics with my class instead of teaching on the deck. I attended a 15-minute boxing demo class at the gym while waiting for my spin class to show up. I did the step climber, too. On Thursday, I put on my prettiest golf skirt and hot pink sweater and headed to the Country Club for the annual adult Easter Egg hunt. The starter yelled GO! and off we went to find the plastic eggs filled with Mega Million lottery tickets, wine vouchers, free dinner vouchers, chocolate and more. I ran 50 yards at a good clip and as I climbed the 18th green I felt the world jolt beneath my left leg. 

Hubby has the video and I can see the moment it happened. My arm flies up in the air as I steady myself. I watch as I fasthobblewalklimp to the rough around the 18th hole bending to pick up as many eggs as I can get my hand on. I walked back to Hubby with a slight limp and groan: I think I broke my hamstring. 

True story. It's a low grade proximal hamstring strain.  Literally a pain in the butt. 

It's been two weeks and five days and it is finally feeling better. I've had to drop out of an upcoming half ironman and I won't be running for another four weeks. But, there is good news:

  • I can swim without kicking and without pushing off the wall with my left leg.
  • I can bike. I haven't pushed the intensity, but Lucinda and I went outside for a ride on Saturday morning. It was glorious!
  • I can do Pilates. 
  • I can write! 

One of the benefits of being injured is that there is more time in the day to do the other things that you think about doing when you're swimbikerunning. Whenever there's a run on my calendar, I stretch. I sit on a heating pad. I have started using the COMPEX. I have used my compression sleeves.

Apparently, I think about writing a lot and so.....here we go. 

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I QUALIFIED FOR KONA!

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I QUALIFIED FOR KONA!

Ha! Made ya look! But that is my other big news.

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Truth is, I am going to Kona! I did qualify. But not for the Ironman World Championships. Back in January, I applied for the USA Triathlon Level II Endurance Certification course. And I got accepted. So, I'm headed to THEBIGISLAND for three and a half days of triathlon education!

But, I WILL get to see THE Ironman. It's my Super Bowl.  It happens to be the weekend after my certification class. So, I will get to see it all first-hand. Ace and I have even signed up to volunteer for body marking on race day. I'm hoping to spot a few of my favorite pros (Alicia Kaye and Sarah Piampiano and Mareen Hufe)  and meet some amazing age-groupers. I really, really, really want to see Chrissie Wellington get inducted into the IM Hall of Fame.

Right now, I'm more excited about the certification than the race. In the last week, we've gotten the schedule and some content. I've been re-reading some of my content from USAT Level I certification and studying up on TRIATHLON SCIENCE. I've read up on the case studies we'll be assigned and prepping for a presentation we'll have to give on the last day. I am totally nerding out.

Honestly, I've never really wanted to do the Hawaii Ironman. I will never qualify by time - I'd have to be top one or two in my age-group (although IRONMAN's motto is: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE). I may someday qualify for the Legacy program - but that would be years from now. Plus, Kona is hotter than White Lake hot.

I will say that I have always wanted to coach an athlete to Ironman. That is my Kona dream. This experience is going to launch me in that direction. I already have the athletes on my roster that are poised to become Kona qualifiers.  This is the tipping point for all of us and I can't wait to see what happens.

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THE BIG FIFTY

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THE BIG FIFTY

 My very first triathlon in 2008. The Charlotte SheRox.

My very first triathlon in 2008. The Charlotte SheRox.

I've teased in a couple of posts about what's on the horizon for the rest of the season and so here's the big reveal! The first one:

In two weeks I'm doing my FIFTIETH triathlon!

Whaaat?!

The Sandling Beach 50 in Raleigh is a mile swim + 40-mile bike + 9-mile run and it will mark my 50th triathlon since 2008!  [HERE'S the story of my first one.] The idea started earlier in the year, but I don't quite know what sparked it. I was hoping that IM Santa Rosa was going to be THE ONE. I counted up all my tris - including relays - and thought I could make it. But, I skipped two races this spring and one got cancelled and so I had to readjust.

What it means is that I'm cramming FOUR races between August 19 and October 1:  Riverlights Sprint, White Lake International, White Lake Sprint (the next day), the WB YMCA Sprint and finally the Sandling Beach race.

 The White Lake Sprint in 2009. Thinking peaceful thoughts before my second tri.

The White Lake Sprint in 2009. Thinking peaceful thoughts before my second tri.

I can't believe this will be number 50! I've come a long way and I can't wait to do 50 more!

 Fifty shades of cray.

Fifty shades of cray.

 

Next up: the biggest news yet!

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COACH'S CORNER

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COACH'S CORNER

This year marks my fifth year as a USA Triathlon coach. It is my favorite job I've ever had. I don't know what's better, watching newcomers finish their first race or veterans of the sport beat their best. I love the little victories that my athletes experience in training and the big ones when they reach a racing milestone. I can tell I was born for this when I get off the phone with an athlete and say, out loud while clapping, I love doing this! Every. Single. Time. 

I started with two volunteer athletes on my personal roster. After I took the USAT Level I certification and passed the test, I promised I would coach them for free to gain experience in planning and practice. That year, both of them finished an iron distance race. The next year, they both PR'd their race - one by 30 minutes (on the marathon) and finished in the top ten of her age group and the other bested her previous time by almost two hours. Although I realize that their talent and determination counted for 96% of their success, I am proud of the 4G% that I contributed to their training and race experience.

This year, I have grown to 12 triathletes. Plus, I am the run and bike coach for our YWCA tri club (which is 10-20 athletes strong).  I love them all.  I want them to grow and succeed and learn. I like to see them gain confidence, connect to their professional or personal life and have fun.

In the past, I haven't written much about my coaching or my athletes, but through the end of this year and in 2018, I'll be able to feature the stories of first-time athletes from sprints to IRONMAN, swimbikerun comebacks and more! 

Plus, stay tuned for some exciting news about my coaching career.........

 With my YDUBTRICLUB coaches: Lance Tate and Alan Sandrin

With my YDUBTRICLUB coaches: Lance Tate and Alan Sandrin

 With my YDUBTRICLUB girls! Cassie, Maria and Tonya rocked out on the Azalea Tri in March 2017.

With my YDUBTRICLUB girls! Cassie, Maria and Tonya rocked out on the Azalea Tri in March 2017.

 

 

 

 

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IRONMAN SANTA ROSA - BEYOND THE FINISH LINE

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IRONMAN SANTA ROSA - BEYOND THE FINISH LINE

The finish of the race is never the end of the day. Believe it or not, I not only need to keep walking, but usually spend an hour or more at the finish area. Standing up. And, we walked almost a mile back to the hotel! I am so grateful that Ace and Sunshine were there as soon as I walked through the finish area to pick up my medal, my tee, my hat, my aluminum foil cape and get my picture. I'm pretty sure that Sunshine jumped the barrier before I crossed the line. I hugged her and kissed him and made my way out of the barricades. I got a hug from Boss and Yoga Spice and they took care of me - wrapped me in warm clothes, found me a port-a-potty and followed me to the food tent.

The finish of the race is never the end of the experience. Hours later I remember what the lake tasted like, what the sun felt like on my shoulders on the bike, what the dirt tasted like in my gum on the run, what the finish chute sounded like. Days later, I am content and satisfied and wearing my medal everywhere I go. Weeks later I am giddy and proud and amazed (at even myself). A month away, I will dream of the hills or the peace at the swim start and I will relive my favorite parts of the day. I still dream of biking in France and running across the line with my two best friends - one in 2013 and one in 2016.

I get lots of questions as I return from the MDOT bubble. Here are a few, plus the replies.

WHAT DID YOU FEEL LIKE AFTERWARDS?  Immediately after this race, my right shin was sore and both of my lifters (my hip flexors) were tender. But, I have never felt stronger after a race. I will say that I was I was too uncomfortable to get a good night's rest. My quads were puffy and sore to touch and my neck and shoulders hurt. And I was sunburnt. And chafed by the zipper of my tri top down the front of my body. And mini Wrunder Woman had scratched a hole in my spine from my back pocket.

HOW MANY CALORIES DO YOU BURN? AND WHAT DO YOU EAT ALL DAY? My Garmin showed that I burned 6000 calories that day. I was in an aerobic heart rate zone most of the day and was probably on target. Once the race started, I ate: seven GU or CLIFF gels [Caramel Macchiato, Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter, Raspberry (which eaten together is a PB&J), Mocha, Vanilla and Root Beer), 400 calories worth of my Infinit Custom mix (named GUSTO GRAPE), three packs of CLIFF chomps (new Gingerale is AWESOME), two bananas, one packet of Justin's Vanilla Almond Butter, 1/4 cup of Cola Gummies, at least two Red Bulls and some cola.

 Me and Honey at the Iron Horse Vineyard.

Me and Honey at the Iron Horse Vineyard.

WHAT DO YOU EAT AFTERWARDS? I am always so hungry right after the race. I crave salt. Usually, I want a ChickFilA sandwich. This time, I filled my plate with delicious local pizza (which I gave to hubby), french fries, pulled pork tacos and two chicken sliders. I ate about 10 french fries and maybe an ounce of the chicken. And it took my 30 minutes just to get that down.

The next day I was able to eat a full breakfast including scrambled eggs, potato wedges, a bowl of fruit, bacon and sausage. I also downed a whole bag of my new favorite chips.

And I drank some wine (#toomuch) and had a normal lunch. And I've been eating ever since. My sweet tooth has been off the hook since the race. I joke that I left Whole Foods last week with only junk food: two boxes of pop tarts, banana muffin mix, chocolate cake mix, coconut milk ice cream (two flavors) and fig newtons. [But hey! They were gluten, soy and dairy free!]

ARE YOU NAKED UNDER THE WETSUIT? No!

WHAT WERE YOUR MANTRAS? I mentioned in a previous post that I tried to think of a new mantra for every four-minute interval on that last loop. Here are a few I remember:

I AM ONE WITH THE FORCE AND THE FORCE IS WITH ME

I AM STRONG AND FAST. OUTRUN. OUTLAST.

YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU BELIEVE. YOU HAVE GREATER POWER THAN YOU KNOW.

I AM STRONG NOT FAST. I'm BUILT TO LAST.

I AM MOANA OF MONTANUI. YOU WILL BOARD MY BOAT. 

MENTALLY TOUGH. FAST FEET. STRONG LEGS.

SCOOP YOUR BELLY. TUCK YOUR TAIL.

NO MORE RHYMES NOW. AND I MEAN IT. ANYBODY WANT A PEANUT?

 

 

DO YOU GET THE IRONMAN BLUES? Yes, but not yet. I actually think this gets better each time. WHAT DOES THAT FEEL LIKE?  I miss each race after it's over. I miss the experience and the challenge. I miss the training. I miss the interaction with other athletes.  I feel relief - which wears its own sadness. I am relieved that I am safe.  I am relieved that my body faced the test - and passed. That we traveled to and from a land Far Far Away. I am grateful. Which doesn't make me blue but does fill my heart to overflowing. I am grateful for my life. For my husband and his support and encouragement. For my friends who traveled 3000 miles. And for my friends and family and training buddies who cheered from home.

I mentioned in a previous post that on the bike I had to avoid at all cost thinking about how far I had to go in the race. I caught myself in those hours after the race thinking about how far I'd come. One hundred and forty point six miles. In one day. It put me on the verge of being emotional in those days following but, it it has actually taken more than a week for it to finally hit me that I did an IRONMAN.  Again.  It's a feeling I want to hold on to.  It's clarity and happiness and holy-cow-ness and power and love and joy. I want to feel that and put that out in the world. Because these days, we sure do need it.

DID YOU WIN? ..............

WHAT'S NEXT? HOW SOON DO YOU START THINKING ABOUT YOUR NEXT RACE? ARE YOU DONE YET?  I am not done. I have already started thinking about next year. I have several ultra distance tris on my bucket list and I can't wait to get them on my calendar. Mt. Tremblant. Boulder. Copenhagen. These are the dreams of those who will never qualify for Kona.

I am also not finished with 2017. But, I will save that for next time.

 Boss, Om, Me and Dirty Spice

Boss, Om, Me and Dirty Spice

 Day After: Me, Boss, Honey and Sunshine at the Iron Horse.

Day After: Me, Boss, Honey and Sunshine at the Iron Horse.

 Day After the Day After. We turned on the fire pit at 9:00AM and sat in the sunshine.

Day After the Day After. We turned on the fire pit at 9:00AM and sat in the sunshine.

 

 

 

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IRONMAN SANTA ROSA - THE RUN

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IRONMAN SANTA ROSA - THE RUN

THIS IS GOING TO TAKE LONGER THAN I PREFER. Those were my words to Michelle as I passed my crazy crew at mile seven-ish - near the end of the first loop.  I wasn't feeling so hot and the same feeling that I had had on the bike was chasing me on the run. I didn't want to do this loop two more times. It's too early to feel this way. It's hotter than I prefer.  This gum has dirt in it. 

My first four miles had been great. I stuck to my plan of a four minute run + 30 second walk. But, somewhere on the out and back spur I made the mistake of worrying about the outcome. This was not going to be the run I wanted (4:45ish for my 45th triathlon), my friends were going to have to wait so long for me to finish. I was not going to finish in under 12 hours. Worry. Whining. Wimpy. Whipped. Walking. Not 4G philosophy. Not Wonder Woman words.  I could barely hear the sound of my friends cheering for all the whining in my head.

 This was my mini Wrunder Woman. She was in my back pocket for the swim, bike and run. Here she is protecting my Emergency gels.

This was my mini Wrunder Woman. She was in my back pocket for the swim, bike and run. Here she is protecting my Emergency gels.

But, as soon as the words left my mouth, I was able to let it go. I need a reset, I thought. I pulled out my mini Wrunder Woman (yeah, I spelled that right) and walked for two minutes. I danced through the BASE SALT energy tent (they were playing Lady Gaga -- loudly -- and dancing). I made my way up out of the greenway and into the fan zone: three blocks of spectators, plus special needs and an aid station. I was back on it and ready for loop two. I danced back through the BASE SALT zone (Gangam Style) and past my crew. Sunshine was screaming U2 lyrics at me, Ace was taking pictures and cheering and Boss & Jess high-fived me.

I loved the run course. There were parts that were in the sun and parts that were packed gravel and the return lap is up a gradual hill. But most of it was paved and shaded. It followed Santa Rosa creek and felt far away from downtown. It was quiet and there were places I could hear the creek below and see the runners on the north side as they headed back in. I saw wild turkeys (including three minors), I spotted a musical performance of Much Ado About Nothing in the park and saw Mr. Push-It again. This time, he was wearing only a sign (or so he made it look with his bare chest and exposed legs). I think his sign said: IF YOU WALK, I DROP THE SIGN. As I passed with a group of women, he said: eyes up here, girls! Eyes up here! And pointed to his own eyes.

I had been dreading the second loop but it actually flew by. I admit it:  It may have been the Red Bull. I had waited until mile 8 to drink one and it was worth the wait.  Plus, I liked ticking off the spots that I'd only have to see one more time. I only have to go up this ramp one more time. I only pass by this aid station one more time. I passed my crew, then the BASE salts [I wanna say DONTCHA by the Pussycat Dolls], then the fan zone, then the BASE salts [Baby, You're a FIREWORK], then my crew. They headed to the finish line and I finished up my last loop. This loop was even better. I could tick off every spot that I was going to see for the last time.

I played leap frog with two other runners who were also run/walking. I made up six new mantras and repeated one for every four-minute run interval. I counted to 100 in French. I ran my secret goal pace (9:30/mile) for two of the four minute intervals and it did not feel great so I quit looking at my pace. I read the signs that my crew had written on the sidewalk: HI! WANNA BE FRIENDS? and IT'S NOT A HILL. IT'S A SUNFLOWER and 4G: GUSTO GUMPTION GRUEL & GRACE and UNC GIRLS ARE FAST. Hey, wait a minute!

I came up out of the greenway and was ready to finish. I knew not to start too early because it is about 1200 meters to the finish (three times around a track), but I picked up my cadence and tried to propel myself forward with a bit of a pick-up. I made it past the bike transition, around the changing tents and towards D-Street on the heels of two runners - one much older (he was 75) one younger (she was 26). Go Get that Finish, she cheered as I passed. C'mon, let's go! I shot back. I bolted up the finish chute which was so long - and not long enough. I started yelling my fool head off. YES! I shouted. I AM AN IRONMAN. I DID IT! I started prompting the people on the sidelines to cheer back - fists pumping, arms raised - WOOO HOO! I heard Ace and Jen cheer on my left and high-fived Michelle and Jess on the right. I practically jumped across the finish line, faced the cameras and did my best Wonder Woman pose.

COMING SOON.......THE FINISH & MORE

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IRONMAN SANTA ROSA - THE BIKE

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IRONMAN SANTA ROSA - THE BIKE

I mentioned in my swim post that I have a list for my pre-race routine. That bulleted list includes: ABC BIKE. It stands for AIR, BRAKE, CHAIN. I had completed that checklist on Friday when I handed off my bike to TriBike Transport. (They provided a bike shuttle service from downtown Santa Rosa to Transition 1 which I highly recommend.).  On Saturday, I checked off my list: AIR, BRAKES, CALIBRATE. I did not check my chain.

So, when I rolled out of T1 and hopped on at the mount line, my chain had jumped the track. Duh. Mentally, I could have freaked out. Mainly because my chain was already in my head. I had taken Lucinda to the bike mechanic on Thursday before the race and he had commented on my front derailleur and how worn-out my chain was.

One woman near the bike exit caught my eye: are you okay? she asked. I'm great! This is perfect! I stopped, dismounted, quickly fixed it and off I went.

THIS IS PERFECT was my mantra for the day. I had already written it on my bottle's wetsuit. I knew that no matter what happened it would be perfect for me: perfect timing, perfect lesson, perfect walk break, perfect scenery. You can use it sarcastically or with belief, but if you tell yourself THIS IS PERFECT for 140.6 miles - it is going to be perfect. Perfection has held me back, but if you believe that every moment is perfect for that moment then it can change your whole trajectory.

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I loved the course coming out of Lake Sonoma into Cloverdale and south through the wine country. There was one hill that (as my friend and mentor Sami said) got my attention and took over ten minutes to climb, but otherwise the rollers were manageable and fun. In fact, I wished there were other hills like the big one. The best part of that long, first hill was a spectator K. Chang who had a boom box playing Salt'n'Pepa's PUSH IT on repeat. He had a sign and was yelling PUSH IT REAL GOOD! It would not be the last I saw of him.

My goal for the first 30 miles was to go easy. Ridiculously easy. To keep it low: Watts low. Heart rate low. Yes, speed low. It is so freakin' hard to do. People are passing and I felt great and it feels like a net downhill. At mile 32ish I reached Spiceland! Ace Spice, Sunshine Spice and Boss Spice were waiting for me at the Fredson Road out-and-back. They had a pink raft as a sign that said GO BETH in glitter. They had chalked the road with inside jokes and 4G phrases. I rode down Fredson, hit the turn-around and headed back. I was able to see them again and flash them the 4G!

My goal for the next 50 miles into town was to ride like a ninja. Ride the terrain like a pro. I had taken some tips from Endurance Nation and Matt Dixon in training and deployed those tactics on race day. I played leap frog with another athlete for 10 miles until finally passing him at the Wilson Winery. I hit 36 mph on one amazing down hill and took in the scenery - wineries, redwoods, horses, cows and birds.

I had a low moment as I hit mile 65 at the 4-hour mark. It was the start of the double loop and I knew I'd have to see this point two more times. Plus, I wasn't even at the 80-mile mark yet.  I felt whiny and hot and thought: this is dumb. I've got so far to go. But, I remembered the wise words of Matt Dixon: avoid at all cost the thought of how many more miles you have to go. I remembered that THIS IS PERFECT. This is exactly what is supposed to happen. And I know just what to do. So I stopped.

At the next aid station I took a nature break, got sprayed with sunscreen, I ate a banana, I drank part of a very cold water and poured a lot of it on my head. I ate a Ginger Ale Clif chomp and had some BASE salts. I suddenly felt better. I got back on Lucinda and we headed into town. Right after that, I heard and then saw my peeps. It was a surprise and was the emotional boost I needed.

I did not love the downtown loop of the course. There were a sh!tlotta turns, there was little shade and there was Irwin Road. There were 24 turns per loop! I liked the part through town because there were crowds and the turns and barricades made it feel like you were racing the end of a stage in the Tour de France. As we headed out of downtown, the shade disappeared and there was juuuuuuuuuust enough wind to make it feel like there was head wind the whole way. I did like that we rode for a second on the 101. And then, there was Irwin Road. Sami had warned me about Willowside Drive at mile 56ish and I'd survived it. But Irwin was something else. Potholes, gravel, rutted patches, grass in the cracks. It felt like cyclocross!

On that first pass, my torpedo water system on my aerobars became unhitched at the velcro strap. [THIS IS PERFECT] I stopped and tightened it, but couldn't get my Garmin Edge to sit correctly on its mount. It was tilted forward so I couldn't see any of the data. I had my watch, but don't usually use it for the bike (eyes on the road, people).   I was lucky that was all that went wrong. There were more tires and tubes, cages and bottles and nutrition than I've ever seen on the side of the road.

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My goal for those two loops was to feel strongest on the last one - and I did! I made a point to drink more water on this ride (close to 80 oz) and take in more salt and it worked. Plus, I saw my cheerleaders at mile 90 and that gave me another boost. Knowing that I had only one loop to go was exciting - because then I get to run. [Wait. What?] That last loop wasn't any faster than the other but I felt great. I was positive and happy.  I finished in 6:50:23. It wasn't a personal best, but I knew I'd set myself up for a solid run.

 

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IRONMAN SANTA ROSA - THE SWIM

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IRONMAN SANTA ROSA - THE SWIM

IRONMAN NUMBER SIX is in the books! It was fantastic. It was an amazing day and I want to remember it all. All 13 hours, 35 minutes and one second of it. Okay, no. Honestly, there are parts I would like to forget, but here are some highlights:

The day started at 3:00am. I took my meds [more on this to come], prepped a spot of tea and checked and rechecked my gear bags. At 3:40, Ace and I headed to T2 to meet Sunshine, drop my gear bags and hop on the bus. I ate as I walked.

 My team scoping out the swim start the day before the race.

My team scoping out the swim start the day before the race.

My team had debated for days about going to the swim start. The race organizers had discouraged it and early on I had decided to take one of the shuttles from downtown SR to Lake Sonoma. The trick for spectators is that once you are on site, you are required to stay until the last cyclist leaves T1 around 9:30am. Ace & Sunshine wanted to be at the start - but didn't want to get stuck in traffic and miss portions of the bike. They had spent part of the day on Friday concocting a plan in secret and I had no idea if they would be there or not. I felt the butterflies as they stood on the curb and the bus pulled away.  

My bus ride was pretty chill. The white noise of the bus engine was actually soothing.  And it was a relief to not have to navigate through traffic, pull up Google Maps or even have to talk! I popped on my headphones and listened to my IRONMIX. Sunshine had given me a card for each day before the race so I opened the last one marked SATURDAY and read it in the blue glow of my phone.  Like the others, it was filled with U2 lyrics, favorite scripture verses and encouragement. I read my Wonder Woman card from Eliza and Renee. I breathed. I ate (a banana, a pop-tart and a Picky Bar).

We arrived at the swim start at 4:45am and I hustled to start checking things off my list. Yes, I have a list. It's like a scavenger hunt! Written down in the order that I prefer:  Find Lucinda. Drop my bags. Find the port-a-potty. Find a pump to borrow. Pump tires. Load bottles. Load bento box. Do a little dance. Drop bike gear bag. Warm up. Tri Glide. Sunscreen. Wetsuit. Drop morning clothes bag. Walk to swim start. Drop shoes. Swim warm-up. Get in the chute. Do another dance. Shuffle. Shuffle Shuffle. SWIM!

I was amazed at how fast time flew from the moment I stepped off the bus to the time I stepped into the chute. I was as amazed at the way time slowed from the minute I stepped into swim corral til the moment my toes were in the water. I seeded myself close to the front of the 1:10 - 1:20 section and we started the long descent into the corral. It took nearly 20 minutes for me to get in the water.  FOREVER! I kept looking up at the bridge high above and couldn't believe that I'd be biking over it. I kept looking down at the guy's feet next to me (seriously, they were huge). I kept looking out over the lake and thinking, Daaaaaaammmmm (because there was one).

My swim start.

 Photo: Alvin Jornada/Press Democrat

Photo: Alvin Jornada/Press Democrat

The first loop felt easy. I immediately fell into my breathing pattern and found my stroke. It was crowded, but I followed someone's feet and let the crowd pull me past buoy after buoy. It felt like swimming in the channel with the current at home. The steam that was rising from the swimmers was my biggest challenge. Usually I can sight at least a few buoys ahead, but with the surface fog, I could only spot one at a time. Each buoy was more crowded than the next and I got frog-kicked on one and had to readjust my goggles at another. I also got flustered at the turn into the marina but quickly recovered. This was the one buoy you have to keep on your left shoulder and I started veering into the marina too early. I had to readjust my line back to the turn buoy and for a moment felt frustrated at myself. But, I had one more chance to get it right on the second loop!

And I did. The second loop felt fast. I had more space, could see better and found a great rhythm. I loved swimming under the bridge and looking at the sun rising over the dam. I came out ready to bike in 1:12:10.

The biggest challenge in the swim is actually the transition! It is a 10% grade for a quarter-mile to get up to the bike area. I left shoes somewhere along the carpeted path, so I picked them out, put them on, jogwalked 200 yards to the wetsuit strippers, sat down, took off the shoes, let them strip off the wetsuit, put the shoes back on and jogwalked another 200 yards to the bike chute. I predicted it would take me 15 minutes to do all that, grab my bike gear bag, take it to the changing tent, put on helmet, shoes, shades and headband, drop bike gear bag, run to bike and leave. I am thrilled to have done it eight minutes!

TOP TIPS

Take the shuttle to the swim start

Drop your shoes for the run up

Don't forget sunscreen

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