Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Eagleman 70.3-- My day to Fight back





I had some great blog posts written in my head before I left for the race last week. Training has been going really well in the big picture,  but not without some true highs and lows. If I get into all that, this race report will be much too long. Instead, I'll stick to my June 8th stories and I guess write my own prequel since that seems to be a thing these days. 

Eagleman 70.3 has been a race I've thought about for a number of years. I've always known people racing there and heard stories about the flat but oh so windy and hot course. In addition,  they have a few coveted Kona spots,  so it's also super competitive. I have been drawn to new experiences and races over the past few years. I'm a bit tired of some of the great places that I started racing so to keep my passion and excitement for the sport, I've chosen to stray away from home to locations with challenging terrain and weather. 

Maine has been cool and wet this spring. I think I had one hot run ( over 80 degrees ) leading up to this. And on that very short T-run, my HR was sky high and I felt way way off. Alright! haha... not a good sign Bub! ( inside joke. )   In addition, I live in the foothills of Western Maine.... I don't think I can string together more than 2 flat miles in one place around here. But besides that, I was ready to go!  Bring on the challenge! Seriously, I wasn't all that concerned. A race is a race in that each one offers Something hard that we might not be used to. It's part of what makes it worth trying! 

We left early Friday morning after the crazy morning scramble of getting the kids to school, saying bye, packing up the cars, and closing up the house. I decided I have "Pre-Race OCD" and it really makes packing and leaving a total PITA at my house. I just Can NOT leave laundry undone or the counters dirty in anyway. ugh. I drive myself crazy sometimes!! 


The flight to MD was easy and uneventful. We also traveled with a friend who is a Pro Triathlete here in Maine.  It was fun to have a fellow athlete with so much experience and fun stories to share. Friday and Saturday were smooth for the most part. I had a small hiccup with my bike that resulted in the need to stand in a line for mechanical help for a while but that got resolved. Mike talked me through the course, we rode the run course, we ate, we relaxed, we ate more, and I got nervous. I don't think he did. :) Normal pre-race stuff....

I laid down and looked up at this tree for a little while to relax on Saturday. It was a Gorgeous day. 
Saturday afternoon, I finally bumped into Jen!! I was coached by Jen Harrison several years ago and have remained friends with her since. Jen has inspired me so much along the way. I found her blog a long time ago before I hired her & knew from her stories that we had a lot in common. There have been times I felt like I could have written the words she wrote.  However, Jen and I have never raced since she lives in Chicago and I'm way over in Maine.  This would be a fun first. Jen and I met in the hotel lobby and got to say hello before we both headed off to chill until the race start. 

The night before the race is brutal for me. I hate the feeling of the nerves that are truly part of the process ( for me! ) and yet so uncomfortable. Lots of deep breaths and routines get me through. Lights were off by 9 and the alarm was set for 3:40 but I was awake a long long long time before that. Sigh.... 


We hit the road by 4:15 with Mark as our helpful and always willing Sherpa. Thanks babe. You just never squeak a word of complaint at my early morning antics and needs on race day.  


I was happy to be with calm pro- Mike and then to bump into some more familiar faces when we got there. I saw Jen H. again, said a quick hi to more pro friends Kim Schwabenbaur and Amber Ferrerra both of whom have inspired me so much along the way with personal racing together and then with me watching from afar. 

My wave was Late! 8:05 was the  scheduled lift off for the 40-44 Women.  The downside was the potential for more heat and more wind on the course, more people to swim through at the start and loads of people to bike around and with while out on the ride. It was going to be a hectic few hours.  But the upside was that I had plenty of time to go in and out and in and out and in and out of the porta potty all a.m.! Yes, potentially TMI but if you're involved with this sport, you Know what I mean!!!  And, really, it is significant to the day sometimes.  I was nervous and I just got in and out of lines all morning. 

I thought I was finally ready to go so  I stood with Mark and  1000s of others on a hot pavement parking lot waiting for my wave and sort of watching those who had already started swimming.  As I put my cap on, I was Stunned to look over and see a PBM kit. What??? Anne??? No, Anne, Sarah AND Jen! There were 3 of my fellow Maine athletes right there! I had NO idea more of us were coming! So, time passed from that point on because  I got to chat it up with some girlfriends. (And, new competitors! Those ladies are FAST! ) 

All of a sudden, it was time for me to split. I had to be alone. I need those last 10 min to just focus and get back inside my own head. I said "bye" to Mark and headed to the corral for starters. 


I had some time to gather myself and then right at the start, I stood with Jen. We commiserated with our nervous bellies and smiled and reminded each other that it was Good because it meant that we still 'cared.' Indeed. 

Ange & Jen at the race start



I spent the next 5 minutes adjusting my goggles. I always do. With about 2minutes to go before we were instructed to get in the water, SNAP! #$%**(^@!!!!!!  You know that word? Yup. Me too. My goggles BROKE!!!! 
LUCKY for me, Mark was Still standing right there by the fence with my bag of 'stuff' that he likes to tease me about. I may have pre-race OCD and an over-packing disorder but I am Prepared!!!!  After 10 panicked seconds, I raced over to Mark and grabbed my spare pair of goggles. There. Crisis averted. Back to business. ( hint to all-- always have a spare pair. And, maybe have them WITH you at the start!! :)) 

Race time!!! Ah Finally! I know!  Enough yapping about all the boring pre-race stuff.  


Swim time!! 

That morning, they announced NO Wetsuits and I was of course, thrilled!!!  I dislike swimming with my shoulders all constricted and it is a bit of an advantage for me as well. I lined up out front and felt Great in the cool-ish water of the Choptank River. The water was brown, there was no visibility, but it was at least moving brown water and not warm with snakes like TX so I was fine with it. Plus, I had goggles. The salty water would have Killed my eyes if I hadn't been saved by Mark standing there. 

We were off before I knew it and I am happy to say that once again, with the starting gun comes the complete and total disappearance of my nerves. NOW I can just do what I do all the time. Swim, bike and run and fight 'til I fall down.  
our wave 

I was off ahead of my group for a little bit. I can always sense where I am in the swim from the beginning. Nobody came with me to start. But about 200-300 yards in, a zippy woman came up next to me with a turnover rate like a young college girl. Hmm... I can't make my arms turnover like that anymore! I tried to grab onto her 'cadence' and go with her. I hung on her feet a bit but as I knew would happen, we swam upon the waves ahead of all  ( all 15 or so of them ) and I lost her. The brown water made it hard to see feet until we hit them. I just did the best I could and swam on.... 

It was uneventful honestly. I just swam. I wasn't swimming HARD -hard  but I was trying to.... I was "alone" so it was hard.   I made every effort to keep pushing and stay focused with a strong stroke. As Mike told me it would be, the water was VERY Shallow for the ~500 yards or so and Most people around me were walking in. I kept swimming with an occasional dolphin dive. 

Other than walking in a hobble with my legs collapsing from time to time, this is what I have left to show from the race. A pretty impressive chafe spot on my arm from the salt water rubbing the speedsuit. It hurt a lot that day! 

Onto the beach, goggles off, smiled at my name being yelled ( not sure who! Jerome? Kari? thanks for the yell! ) and off to the bike. My swim split was a good 3-4 or so minutes slower than my "normal" half ironman swim but it sounds like most people's were. I didn't give it another thought. Some swims are fast, some are slow. Doesn't matter at the end of the day. I was out to race the person next to me. Or in front of me. Or to stay ahead of the ones behind me. Not to stress or think about a minute or three on any of the legs. Let's see who crosses the Finish line first, that is all. 
Heading out of T1


The bike-
I was excited to ride. I never ever get to put my head down and hammer on flat roads. I knew I'd be challenged to stay in that position for so long and I knew the winds were going to potentially get us, but I was still feeling ready. I've been working really hard in on the bike this season with my new awesome coach, Jeff Capobianco at BPC, so my confidence was 100% on this ride. 
I took off and settled in. 
Ahhh.... it only took 5 minutes before I knew Plan B was going to have to be pulled out of my pocket. Shoot. I took a few sips of perform and had instant PAIN in my gut. Ugh. You know, all morning my stomach was off. ( remember my pre-race portapotty dance ). Yup, I knew. I gave it a few minutes, settled the HR a bit more and tried again. Ouch. :( I didn't panic or get too worried but I was sad. I have had so many workouts with my nutrition being spot-on. Why now? What did I miss along these past few days...??
I spent 20 min trying to eat/ drink. It wasn't going to work. I was going to cause myself more issues if I didn't seriously act. What I've learned along the way-- stomach distress-- slow down and / or stop taking it in. I decided to back off the power a hair and give myself until 60 minutes to settle things. I did take a few sips of h20 at an aid station. I didn't want to risk getting dehydrated. That could Certainly come back to haunt me if I hit the run on the low side. 
The clock hit 1:01 and my pace and power were good. I was where I wanted to be. I was having a lot  of fun passing loads and loads of people. And, the belly was better. I hoped. I took a few shot bloks as planned. All good. Started to drink. So far so good. Ok..back on track. 
Only 1 girl had passed me. I had expected her in fact. She won our age group last year and I Knew she was a kick a-- biker. Indeed she was. Wow did she fly by me. When I grow up, I want to ride my bike like that. Unreal. 
Until... about mile 30 all was good and uneventful.  But at that point,  I sat up to drink, certainly don't Remember hitting a bump or anything, but when I got back down into the aero bars, something was wrong. The right bar and pad for my arm were askew. They were angled off to the right. What?? I was confused. I tried to twist it back. Nothing. It was tight. I shifted. All was fine. It baffled me and ticked me off, of course. 
Well.... it was time for me to either lose my focus completely and all upset or to just count off the miles and ride it in. 
:) You know what I picked. 
The bars did move and get worse and worse as I went. My right shoulder was sore and uncomfortable but it was 'ok.' I knew the faster I kept making forward progress, the sooner I'd be running. Head down, just ride. 

I had rallied with nutrition though I could feel an ache and dull pain in the gut. My right quad was 'talking' quite a bit and I was pretty warm. And yet, I felt strong. My power was nearly the same as when I started and I hadn't lost any speed. One more girl passed me though. I think we had about 8 miles to go. I was able to see her the rest of the way in and wondered about her run legs. And, I wondered about mine.... 


The Run- Where the race Really begins. 


For me, the first few steps off the bike on the way to the rack almost Always feel BAD! But, once I change shoes and hit the road, I often surprise myself. My run training has been solid lately. I have had some challenges and some 'scares', but I have also had some moments of "I want to race Right Now!" I was excited to get out there. 


The sky was clear and full sun was on us. There is NO shade on this route. None at all. Not a single tree.  I have no clue what the temp was, but it was hot. That being said, I know it wasn't as hot as other years. And, it was nothing like a few hot races I've done recently.  I train consistently and I train honestly. I work very hard and I take care of myself. But, those things aside, I think one of my biggest advantages these days as a ahem, masters age grouper, is my experience. Running in hot mid-80 degree sun on Sunday was really hard after our cool wet spring, but I have raced in temps near 110 degrees with Much higher humidity a few times lately and that memory, of surviving those races, helped me keep my cool ( pun intended) the other day. 


I was off and running and felt pretty good. My pace was under 7 or just above and it felt somewhat easy. I did still feel that spot in my right side.... and I just crossed my fingers that it wouldn't come haunt me at some point. 

I made a plan.  Keep this even keel... don't overrun, just keep the effort steady and strong, manage the heat with fluids and ice and then, with 4 -5 miles to go, I could drop the hammer if need be. 
It was time to race. 

Honestly, the first few miles are blurry. I felt pretty good, I know that.  Within the first mile, I caught the girl who caught me at the end of the ride. I thought I was in 2nd at that point. I was running at a fairly fast pace, but I was brainwashed, once again, at the aid stations. I don't think it's a bad idea to walk the aid stations, in fact I often recommend it to others. But, I have become a little too dependent upon that habit. I did it during a few really great Ironman races I had and now I can't get off that mode. I see the tables and something just Makes me stop and get 'stuff' in. I did this from the first mile.... ice in shirt, water on head, drink down the hatch. Onward. I'd make it quick, keep walking, and run immediately but still.... that took a toll on my pace in the end. 6:55 min  miles became 7:20s.... it adds up.  Again, like pre- race, Sometimes I drive myself crazy and that was one example. I didn't WANT to stop but my body just seemed to have it's own plan each time I hit a table. 


The miles ticked on and the head games began. I started and stopped conversations like this, "You know, I think this will be the last race I do before Hawaii. I'm not sure I have much more racing in me. I really hurt. I don't have anything to prove. I've done the best I can so I should feel good about that.... STOP!!! HAVE THIS CONVERSATION TOMORROW!  NOT at mile 5!" Yes, I would talk like that ( in my head ) to myself while racing. My head goes ALL over the place out there. And that is Not the time to make decisions! 


I shut off the brain and shut down the voices and just ran. My right quad started talking again. I was limping a bit. Oh oh.
I took a salt. 

I grabbed a gel. 
Things were getting long. The road went on forever. I hadn't seen any other girls my age. I had passed lots of women.... but there were no signs of my age group ladies. I wanted and needed to race if I was going to ignite the fire in me. I was getting tired of just being alone with my tired brain.  

Finally, and I really can't explain how oh very long it takes to get to that 6.5 mile turn around spot, I made the turn and slowly trotted around the cone to head back! Yay!!


And yet now it was the moment of truth. 


What would I see as I headed back....who was there. Was I was ahead? Was I being chased? If someone was there, would I care? Did I have any fight in me today?? 


Time would tell. 


I ran a bit but wasn't fully focused on those coming towards me. Things were getting real. It was hot, I was hurting and I had a really long way to go. 


And then, out of the corner of my eye almost after she went by, I saw Jen. I hadn't seen her until he was basically next to me so I turned back a bit to see if I was right. Yup! She looked super strong and was moving fast. Ok! I knew we'd be close together.  At that point, I thought I was in 2nd with that wicked fast biker ahead of me, with Jen a bit behind, but not far! I wasn't sure how far but I think 1/4 mile? Maybe not that far. Probably about 1.5-2 minutes back. Who knows.... 


I ran a bit and tried to have some little talks about how I felt and what I would do now. Did I have it in me to pick it up? What was the plan.... 


Next thing I knew, I was at an aid station doing my walk fast and grab stuff shuffle. ( GRR!) 

And before I could even grab my cup of ice, SHE went by!  A girl with a 43 on her leg! HEY!?! WHO are you  and where did YOU come from??? Jen was behind me, who are you?? I was totally frustrated and threw my arms in the air a bit. I guess, in some ways, I had a moment of giving up. 
oh oh.

She was very tan and running really well. She didn't look tired. why wasn't she tired like me? I didn't get it. I was mad for a few minutes. I decided that her tan meant she was from the south and used to the heat so of course she was running well. Nobody from Maine has a tan like that yet.  I gave myself an excuse. 

NOT a good idea. Excuses are Not how we win races. 

I ran on for a bit longer but something happened. I stared at this woman's back as she moved further and further away from me and I had yet another little talk with myself. 


"You know Ange, 99% of the time, if you get passed on the run, that is it. Maybe 100%.  Can you be that person that fights back? Can you go back after her? Can you? How tough are you? Are you just an ok athlete or are you the one that doesn't let someone take it from you. Who are you today? Take a risk girl, what's the worst that can happen? You're really really tired for the last 2 miles? Well, you are anyway! Seriously, get tough and do this right." 


After all, Jen and I had stood on the water's edge and agreed we were nervous because we still cared. So, it was time for me to act like I still cared and RACE! It was time to hurt. Time to bring it home. 


I picked up my pace and found my fire again. Races can be such mind games. You can be so revved up and then lose it all without warning. 

I was suddenly on a huge high because I made the decision to go after it again and I knew I had it in me. 

I could feel that I was slowly but surely closing the gap. It took a few miles...this wasn't a quick deal. I just stared at her back and kept the faith. I could see her shoulders look weaker. I think she thought I was left in the dust. She had no idea... 

I never ever took my eyes off her. 
The gap was continuing to grow smaller. And then she veered off to the left to run under a tent with water spraying in it. Ahh...a weakness. She's hot. She let her guard down. I ran straight and gained even more time on her. 
I think we had about 4 miles to go now....and without hesitation I slipped right behind her and tried to quiet my breathing so I could run in stealth mode-.Yah... that didn't work. I was pushing hard and my breathing was what it was. And, she was now going slower so I had to step to her side. We were only inches apart. Running shoulder to shoulder.
I had the Hugest grin on inside, but my face showed Nothing. I kept my eyes straight ahead and I hammered on. I felt her turn to her left and look at me. And then she did it again. I knew what she was thinking but I didn't let on at All.  SHe wanted to yell, "What?! I PASSED you! And you gave up when I went by." 

Ha! tricked ya! 

I was having a blast. What's that song Michelle? Click here to listen:  Ever since my friend I read Mama Simmon's blog last week about her Honu race, I've been singing this song. And I was singing it at this moment too. ( thanks MIchelle. :) :) !!! ) 


I ran so hard. I never looked at the garmin again. I just focused on my race and my love of the sport. I falter sometimes, I wonder why  I am still bothering, I wonder if it's silly of me to keep trying to get faster as I get older but then, all I need is a little kick in the butt and the whole reason I do this comes back to me. I. Love. To. Race. Period.
Those last few miles that hurt SO SO Much. I mean, I was in agony. I wanted to LAY down and there sometimes felt like a force field was going to pull me from the ground right down to the ground. But the will to race and not let anyone else get me was way way bigger than the pain. 


I saw the finish arch from a long ways away. I heard the announcers. A spectator or two yelled my # and some great comment like,' Wow TriMoxie! Your form is awesome great pace!!" Just what I needed.... 

Someone else yelled, "Around this corner, less than a mile, let the screams pull you in...." 
Deal.

I was on high focus mode. I was all business. Nothing was going to stop me. 


And then.... down the long chute. High five with Mark, a cheer from Mike, I heard my name a few other times and Bam! DONE!!!!!!!

Hands on knees, breath, breath, water, down again, then I stood up, turned around and there she was... 
maybe 15 seconds back... and she nearly collapsed. I held her arm and told her great job. I helped her get help and then I wandered away. 
Jen was just moments behind her. 
Ahh...what a race. Never ever count us 40+ year old women out. We mean business. 



And with that, I felt happy. I fought back. And I will never ever give up after getting passed again. Age 44 and I have a breakthrough. The fun continues!! 

Two days later, and I hurt so bad. That to me = a job well done. I worked to the point of misery for the next few days. haha.. I left my heart, soul and legs out on that course. Just as it should be. 


3rd Age group for Eagleman 70.3 

Someone else snuck in there!! I never knew she was there. :) 

Time to recover! Off for ice creams with my boys...( they love my post-race weeks... ! ) 



thanks for reading!!!! 


















Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Just call me Bat Girl!






Several mornings each week, I set my alarm for 4:02 so I can haul myself out of bed and drive a few towns over to swim. I turn my brain off and just go through the motions at that hour. You know, if I was to really think things over at that hour I'd come up with at least 10 good reasons Not to get up that day.  Reasons that seem perfectly logical at that time, but two hours later when I get up (yes, I've blown off the alarm a couple times ) to go through a normal morning, I am  full of regret and disgust at my laziness. 

The thing is, it's Hard to get to bed early enough to make that hour less painful. I have 3 boys with busy evenings full of everything from lacrosse to concerts to homework, just to name a few things.  I think 95% of the time, I go to bed before my oldest son these days.  The point is, those pre-swim mornings are short enough. But throw in this fun & it's even better when the alarm goes off. ha..

Last Tuesday night I set my alarm and climbed in around 10. That's about the best I can do. That gives me 6 hours IN the bed but not necessarily 6 hrs of sleep. I try to make up for it other days, it's just part of my deal. 

In the middle of the night that night, I had the most annoying feeling on my neck. After  a bit of confusion, and swatting and screaming, "Something is biting me!" I did in fact realize I was Not dreaming and I really was feeling something on my neck and now on my hands as I tried to fling it off me. 

I remember my husband saying something along the lines of, "what? stop it. What's up with the chain?" (He told me later, and we laughed very hard at this, that he thought I was whipping a chain around in the air!!?? Turns out, it was the sound the bat was making!!!! Ewwwww!!! So gross. But the chain part is pretty funny. ) Before too long the light was on and he was standing next to the bed, looking down at his pillow. 

I proudly pointed and said, "SEE! I told you!!!" 
(one of those moments I secretly wished I was wrong!!" 



  
Ok, it really bothers me to post that and to LOOK AT it!!!! ( this is not OUR bat, just  picture but it's close ) -- There were other pictures of bats online showing bats with big wingspans and teeth and they looked more like bats. But what we saw, was a little blob. 
IN OUR BED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

Mark just stood there with his hand over his mouth and said, "I do NOT like this." 

I actually kind of laughed and then started yelling, "Let's get it! Do something! WE have to go back to bed, I only have an hour!" 

Seriously..it was 2:53 a.m. and what was on my mind?? The alarm going off at 4 so I could swim. I know... why was I so worried about that at that time? Tunnel vision I guess. I hate missing workouts! But, It would have been the "Perfect" excuse for myself 65 minutes later! :) 

The thing took off and started dive bombing around our bedroom! What the heck???? 
This is where I win wife of the year. 

Mark starts running around the room with a big towel to catch the thing while I pulled the covers up over my head and hid and screamed a few times when I peeked. I remember thinking, "phew, it's hot under here... hope he gets that thing soon!!" Seriously, I was a lot of help. ( eye roll at myself ) 

He did get it pretty fast I must say. He caught it and we opened up a window and chucked it out. I didn't look at the clock again but we had the lights off and went back to bed asap. I had a few dreams about bats (really... lots & lots of bats in the dreams ) over the next 45 min but the alarm went off as it always does and I went to the pool! I was proud of myself for that. 
When I got home a few hours later,  we talked and we thought about it. Hmm... bats= Rabies. Oh #$%^$!!!  I didn't have any broken skin on my neck at all. There was a tiny red spot but that may have been there before. I was probably fine. I didn't want to overreact and seem silly. And yet, I called my doc and they said to come in to see them. I really felt like I was probably wasting everyone's time. However, they called back a bit later and said we had to go to the ER ( not avail at the office ) for an immunoglobulin injection + rabies shots. Turns out, if you wake up in the same room as a bat, you have to do this. Or... risk worrying about death by rabies. And you know, that's not really what we need. Three boys left because parents bit by a bat? Sounds a bit dramatic and like a bad tv show but seriously... we went in for the shots. 

How did it get in there? No clue. We have new windows and the house is tight. Or at least most of it is. I think it came in the attic or was there Before we had work done last fall to tighten a few places up. Gross. 

Why didn't we kill it!!?? No clue on that either. It didn't cross our minds. They eat mosquitoes is what Mark's said in the past.  Ha..that's the last time we don't kill it. We could have had it tested and avoided some VERY pricey shots.  

Last Wednesday, I spent over 2 hrs in the ER getting round 1 of the shots. I had to have 4 that day.... one in each leg and one in each arm. They did two at a time. It hurt but I thought I was fine, until I stood up. My heart started thumping, I was HOT and then very very dizzy... so down I went. But 5 minutes later I was fine.  At first, Mark was very resistant to getting treated. He hadn't felt the thing on him and didn't see the need for double whammy ER bills PLUS the cost of the meds. Well.... doc examined him and he had several decent sized scratches on his shoulder. I think I Flung the thing off me and onto him.  It was on His pillow after all...... thank god I convinced him to get the TX too. 
The stuff is weight based, so he needed more of it. And, they had to inject it all around the site of the wound. So he had about 8 little injections on his shoulder + two in his hips and arms too. Thankfully they said they couldn't put it in my neck so I only had arms and legs shot up. 

Saturday, we both went back for more. And today. And again next week.  

But hey, we wont' get rabies!!!! And if another bat comes near me again, it better run for it's life! 

That is Enough about that!!! 




















Friday, April 18, 2014

Day 3- Madiera Canyon Climb or where I remembered how to be tough

Once again, my day started here. Perfect. I actually loved my early mornings that week. It was very easy for me to get up to my 5 a.m. alarm since 1) I'm used to an even earlier 4 a.m. call for my swims at home and 2) I probably never fully switched my body's clock to AZ time. 



To make it easier, this was the view out my window. So, I could set my alarm for 5, look at this, grab a cup of coffee, get back in bed and call home ( 8 a.m. there ) and catch two of the boys before they went off to school. ahhh... 
Then, I'd just get dressed and have a short, quiet walk down to the pool.  One morning I even saw a little bunny hop in front of me as I walked across the lawn. All this made me smile and enjoy the time on my "vacation."  
The day before, at the very very end of the Mt. Lemmon climb to the ski area, I was alternating between, " pedal pedal pedal & @#%^^%!!!! " as I climbed what I was told  was only a portion of a mile but it actually was a LOT more. ( I honestly don't know how far it was... but it was way more than I thought, and after 25 miles UP and 103 miles the day before, I wanted OFF that bike for a few minutes. ) So..as I made my way up I thought about the next day and had it in my head that it was going to be 'easier.'  But then, some guy came up next to me on his bike, looking like a fresh little mountain goat and tried to have a  big ole' conversation with me ( as I tried to breath) about how I should go FURTHER beyond the ski area because it's... ?? I can't remember why he said I should. Because honestly, there wasn't a chance in hell I was going Beyond where the group was. Nope! I was done. 
But when I told him we were riding Madeira the following day, he made this noise. And then said something about the road going on and on and then UP. Yeah, whatever... I was so focused on the present moment that I didn't pay that much attention to him... 
ooops. 
He knew what he was talking about.... I should have begun my mental prep Right then. I needed it. 


Later that night, a few of us looked up the profile for the ride the next day. Hmm... that has a sharp little curve to it. Ok... but really. They were all starting to look like that. Plus, the total ride was only going to be 60 or so miles instead of 80+. Again, Easy day! Right??
Ahem.

We drove a ways to a safe starting point and started the re-assemble bikes, get ready process. When I headed to pump the tires, I discovered a flat. And then I pulled out a small tack. Someone had actually thrown tacks on the Mt. Lemon road --- nice. Several of us were lucky enough to pick them up. I'm just lucky the flat didn't appear while I was trying to escape the bees the day before. 
Finally, we all headed out. 
The first 15 or so miles were  basically flat. I felt good! Miraculously I wasn't screaming to sit on the bike and the legs were responding well. Alright! I had a few strong segments along the way, sometimes alone and sometimes with some guys for a few miles. Our awesome support crew of Josh & Jenny { fellow camper who got sick while we were there :( } were at a corner letting us restock our bottles and make sure the bikes were ready to roll. We didn't stop much on these rides & since I rode alone most of the time I appreciated being able to talk to folks for a few minutes and gather some needed moral support. 

I think my bike read 15 miles at that point. One of the guys told me we were heading up to about the 30-31 mile mark. Ok... that is what Stuck in my head. Call it 31 miles... 

And with that, off we went. 

The sun was shining and the mountain was off in the distance. But I had no idea what we were heading towards. This is the view we were looking at: 


I knew we weren't going ALL the way to the top of that. So, what were we climbing? Where was that spike? Maybe it really didn't get like that? 
By now, I was alone. I had been riding strong and fairly fast. 
And, I wasn't all that concerned about what was left.  If we were only going to 30 or so miles, how bad could it be? I still couldn't see any steep grade so it must not really be that big of a deal... right? 

So I rode and I rode and slowly but surely became very frustrated. I think I looked behind myself a good 10-15 times. What the heck? I am NOT moving!!! What's wrong with this bike? I'm not climbing... am I? { look behind} -- Repeat that self- talk over and over and over. 
I was sure I sucked. I had officially run out of gas and was just crashing. look behind..
I kept waiting for the other campers that had been back from me a bit to catch up. Surely, everyone was about to ride up next to me and say, "What's wrong Ange??"  I think there was wind, I can't seem to remember that part but I do remember talking about it. 
All I know is, just like that fresh mountain goat rider on Lemon had said, "the road goes on Foreevvvvver." It did. He was right. The words he had said to me, the ones I was ignoring at the time, seeped back into my head.  I could see miles and miles in front of me it seemed. And, while it didn't LOOK like a hill, oh believe me it was. We were climbing 10 miles of relentless, demoralizing grades. I realized this on the way back DOWN when I FLEW without pedaling for miles and miles. 
I lost myself during that part. I was lonely and bored. I was SICK Of it. I really really wanted someone to talk to. Someone to commiserate with me and assure me yes, you ARE in fact going nowhere but so am I. (I did have to stop at one point for some cows to cross. :) Yup, there were 3 big cows wandering in the road and I really didn't know what they would think of me. And since I was moving like a turtle, I decided to let them move along before I went their way. ) Truly, I think I was moving about 6 mph along a road that didn't Look like a hill. As I said, demoralizing. I was in a bad place. I kind of pride myself in being able to stay OUT of those bad places during my training and racing so the fact that I had slipped there was discouraging too. 

The Good news was, I was nearing mile 30 on my clock!!! The signs said, "MADEIRA CANYON " so... I was almost There!!! Yay!  Not sure that that peak was all about because we were almost there and the road did NOT spike. IT was a nasty long climb, but no peak. yay! 
fake picture in my head at this time on the ride 

insert maniacal laughter right here.

The scenery changed now. It looked less like a desert and more like home. Madeira Canyon is surrounded by the Coronado National Forest so the hills are tree covered, there are streams and apparently it's filled with many bird species and a favorite area for those who enjoy watching birds! 
There's a Very cute B&B up there ( stopping to snap a photo would have resulted in me falling OFF the bike so you'll just have to believe me) and the view from there is: 
It was definitely nice to see the landscape change from barren  desert to lush forest on all climbs. 
Back to business. 

There was an evil laugh echoing in my head as I made a turn and realized the last 10 miles of "climbing" were just a little warm up.
AT this point, I am Expecting to see my group any second since I thought were finishing around mile 30. 

I saw no one. No one with a bike that is. 
All I saw was the road, tourists enjoying beautiful little picnic areas with food and shops and then my hands....clenching the bars. For dear life. And, to stay UPright! 
why?? 
because the road, without warning went STRAIGHT UP! 
At least that's what it felt like since I was on a Bike! You can't just push the gas pedal wait for the engine to shift gears, you must NOT hesitate or pause because you will FAll over to the side and crash. And then you'll never be able to get going again.     :) :) 
seriously, it was that steep. 

I started to swear again. I was SURE that every time I went around a corner I'd see the van and the 6 or so people that were ahead of me. 
WHERE WERE THEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!  
I was sort of losing it. I mean, at least I Knew I was on a hill now so I didn't have to wonder why I wasn't moving. That helped. A little. 
It was survival...each leg stroke was just to hold on. 
I saw so many of these: 



Seemingly Perfect rest areas to stop and rest. Or eat. Or just STOP RIDING UP! 
Yeah... I wasn't in my happy I love this sport place. 

I passed a few people walking Down the cliff. I was starting to wonder if I was going the wrong way! What if I had gone BY Them!!! NO!!!!  So I spoke up: 

 "I'm looking for some other bikers. Have you seen them?" 
"OH! yes!!"
"Are they close??"
insert laugh... "No." 

@#$^$$%#@&&**@~!$!!!!!! 

What is going on??? 
AT that point, I was done. Done with the bad place. That wasn't me.  I was sick of my tantrum and little pity party. After all, as I had been saying all week, I WAS there to work. Suck it up babe and get up the damn mountain!!  I put my head down and just kept going. AT some point, I knew I would have to get there. 
33 miles now... 
ugh! 
Crazy crazy how LONG those 3 miles had taken!!! 
I got to a corner and saw some kids at yet Another perfectly good rest area...
I asked the same question I asked the last group. 
But this time I got: "Oh yeah, they're right over there!" And he pointed UP. 
YES!!!!!!!!! See.. I knew I'd make it if I just stopped all the bitching in my head! 

I rounded that corner and heard them first. I gave it all I had left and finally, finally, reached the very TOP of that road with my friends, in their typical Awesome fashion, Cheering me up and then high fiving me upon completion. I think I maybe dropped the bike as I dove for a bench. It was like a race-- someone grabbed it from me. I have no memory.. so if you're reading this and you were the one ( Bob? Rick? John? ) Thank you! 

I smiled. And then,I sat there and shook from exhaustion for a few minutes. It was that hard. 

The next guy finishing and getting the same awesome welcome and GOOD JOB at the top. What a Great,  great group. 


I was happy to be there with others for a few minutes. Again, the camaraderie is everything. Everything. It made me happy to see how wiped everyone else was too and that even those kick-axx rider friends of mine  who crushed that climb thought they had flat tires etc on that long long nasty non- hill climb on the way to steep crazy peak.  We took off and FLEW back down. Ahh.. much better! 
I was almost to the bottom where we made the turn back to the regular road home when I felt some things hit my leg. I brushed them off and then felt the sharp sting. Huh?
I had to stop. Unreal. I had a stinger in my leg! I got stung by a bee. What was UP with me and the bees!?  I rode on and wondered if  actually was a bee or something else. I didn't really see what hit me. But the leg started to HURT. Great... This might not be good. 
And then as quickly as it had come on, it went away. The pain just disappeared. 
I was fine for the rest of the but later on, it swelled, turned red and hurt a Lot. Oh well.. I can handle 1 bee. The swarm turned away from me so I was just thankful for that one little bite. 

Just like the day before... we drove home, changed up, and then hit the road for a little run. 

Big mental toughness gained that day!!!  
In the bank. 



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mt.Lemmon





If you go to Tucson, Arizona to train for triathlon, chances are a ride up Mt.Lemmon is on the agenda. I attended a training camp back in 2010 with Coach Jen Harrison and we did this ride. I was looking forward to doing it again after a few more years of experience. 

My legs were no longer fresh and sitting on the bike for another 4+ hrs was definitely going be a challenge after the big ride and climb on day one. But hey, that's why I traveled across the country! Hard work was part of the plan! 

Our coaches changed our original plan and decided to load the bikes into the car and drive to the base  ( 5 miles away ) of the Mountain rather than ride over. GOOD CALL! The roads on the way there were horribly rough & very busy with city traffic and construction. It was a 45- 50 min ride in addition so it would have been a very long day with that too. I consider myself to be pretty organized. I am also very rarely late. I packed my bag the night before and had everything ready to go so I could swim, eat, get dressed and be at the van ready to depart without any issues. yeah... I did do just that but I am embarrassed to say that after driving about 30 minute in the car with 3 of my friends ( multiple vehicles drove) I had a sinking feeling and shouted out, " OH NO!!!!!" 
Ugh. My helmet was not in the car. @^%$^$$^#$&&**!!!!
I was horrified. And a little stressed. Now what? 

Well, I'll tell you what happened. 
On that same ride, just a few minutes before, my friend that was driving, Pat Kelley, said, " You know what one of the best things about this sport is? The camaraderie." We all agreed and chatted a bit about how great all our friends in the sport are and how everyone looks out for one another. 
Well.. I Insisted we drive to the meeting spot without any stops. I knew the stores weren't open yet and I had to own this one. I thought I would drop them off and either go back for my helmet or get to a bike shop once they opened. I would have to do the ride alone and catch up later, somehow. 
My three friends in the car with me, Dave, Pat and Jenny wouldn't hear of it. They started searching shops on their smart phones and before I knew it, Pat and I were running through a super Walmart in our bike shoes for a new helmet for me. I think we lost about 10-15 min. I took a little ribbing from the other groups, but not much. My friends totally rallied for me and made sure I got on the road for that ride. It was really really cool of them. Sadly, we couldn't find a Dora or Spongebob helmet to don instead of a boring Bell. We had laughed that that would have been a much more memorable way to remember my slackness. 

I decided to cut off the giant tag in the end. 

 With that taken care of.. it was time to climb. 





 Mt. Lemmon is about 25 miles up! I must say, I did enjoy this ride. I started out alone, then hooked up with my friends Bob and John for a few miles and pushed just a wee bit harder than I would have alone, and then I let them go. As I said on the post about day 1, I rode alone for most of this camp. I was fine by myself this day. I knew some were ahead and some were behind but we were essentially all out there together challenging ourselves up a long long relentless climb. I worked hard this day but stayed at a steady state. I didn't stop once. I was proud of that. The temps were great... warm and sunny. Towards the top, as you can see on the chart, the road dips down and it gets cold!! I did quickly pull over to pull the arm warmers back on for that part. Finally... I was at the corner to turn Right for the final ascent. Bob was there to alert us of the turn so we wouldn't miss it. Let's see..what did he say? " Less than a mile!"  I think that was what he said. HA! It was Much longer than that! That final climb was Brutal! Steep and never ending. Little did I know.... Madiera was the next day. 

Some shots taken on the way down... 







I stole this from my friend, Pat, who watched these crazy kids on Longboard Skateboards descend the Mountain!!!!!????




I made my way back down in slow careful fashion. I was very very bundled after nearly freezing on my way down Kitt Peak the day before. I had too much on for Lemmon. It wasn't that cold. After getting off the hill, I stopped to take off all the layers. I had a 5 mile ride back to the van. My feet hurt too, so I took the shoes off while I peeled off the jackets etc. Why does that matter? 
Well... I thought I heard some more bikers coming. I heard a low frequency strange humming-like noise behind me. 
I turned-- straddling my bike, shoes on the road, layers 1/2 way off 1/2 on..NOT ready to go anywhere fast and I saw this: 



BEES!!!!!!!  
I was SCARED!  I have never seen anything like it. A HUGE HUGE swarm was behind me and the buzz went RIght into my gut. Thoughts of the swarm engulfing me and stinging me to death freaked me out and while I panicked, I did react. 
I grabbed my shoes in my hand, left my clothes and started to just ride off with my sock feet on the pedals. But in a moment, the fear turned to oh PHEW as the swarm 'took a left and headed off towards the desert. The sound of that loud buzz was very very unnerving. Very quickly I put my shoes on and grabbed my shirts around my waist and BOLTED back to that van. I had a cold sweat with a high HR for a while.... 
But I was fine. 

The group all came together, we gobbled some calories, put the vans in the car and made the long drive back. 

Once again, it was time to run. 

Ouch. We were staying on a hill so the runs were all up up up, down down down. My legs were trashed, I was tired and it was hard. But, a few miles were in the book and another great day was logged. 




Friday, April 11, 2014

Camp!!!

Last fall, my friend  Bob invited me to join his group in Tucson, Arizona for their annual training camp.He's a coach with E3Training Systems. I'm not an E3 Athlete, but they were allowing non-E3'ers into the camp.  While the invitation was much appreciated, I admit I wasn't sure it was what I wanted to do. 
Why was I so unsure? It's a lot of work to go away without the family! Getting things all organized to continue on while I'm gone really takes some time and prep. And, it requires a lot of time off for my husband &  of course, there's the big expense of travelling across the country with a bike to boot. I went to TX for a training camp last year and really wasn't sure I wanted to take the time away to do that type of thing again. 
I waited until after Ironman Cozumel so I would at least know what my 2014 season would be focused on. After securing my spot in Kona, I knew it was probably  a good choice to kick off the season with some strong training out west. Maine is unpredictable this time of year and as it turns out, our winter was very snowy and even though it's mid-April, I'm still not able to ride outside safely here in Western Maine. 
Taken a few days before I left! :) And, we'll be back there again tomorrow! {that's Mark, my husband..}

I'm home from the AZ camp now. And wow, I am So so happy I went!!! I worked my tail off everyday, I spent some much needed time by myself &  away from the daily grind, and, I had a Blast. Seriously.... so much fun. I laughed to the point of almost tears almost every day I was there. Perfect. 

Day 1-- 3 a.m. wake up call and out the door by 3:30 en route to the airport. My 6:15 flight was delayed 2 hrs so that messed up the entire itinerary. Great start! But, lucky for me, the lady working the counter was quick and rerouted me on another airline with the same schedule! Bam! I had to hurry and haul a lot of gear by myself ( bike, suitcase, carry-on, purse) but I made it happen and was on my way by 6 a.m. Three flights later, 4 hrs next to a guy I think was on his way to rehab somewhere {yikes... what an interesting flight that was.. }, a  shorter trip with a young guy who believes in aliens and was sure the crop circles we were looking at were put there by them and I landed in Tucson HAPPY to see a familiar face! Our on site bike mechanic, sag vehicle driver  Josh Freeman, picked me up and shuttled me over to the group at our great resort in Tucson. I was really happy to visit with Josh & then arrive at the hotel with the rest of the crew. By 4:30 p.m. ( 7:30 Maine time...getting to be a long day since I started at 3:00!), we were off on our 1st little run to kick off camp. I can't say the legs felt good. But I didn't expect them to after the long trip. Heavy and tired. No big deal.... shake it out and get to bed. 

Day 2-- My 5:00 alarm didn't seem too bad even though the day before was nearly 21 hrs long. I was pretty excited.After all-- this is what we were doing by 6:00: 




Swimming outside!!!  Yes! The air was cool but the water was warm and the sun rose over the mountains off in the distance as we worked out. You can't beat that!!! 

Seriously!!! That was our view!



After the swim, we hustled back to our rooms to eat and prep for the long ride. A few of the groups made breakfasts in their rooms for the group or we could just eat what we had on our own. I did a bit of both. Borrowed some peanut butter, grabbed a few bites of pancakes, and took care of myself with a bagel & coffee each day. 



8:30 a.m. and the group gathered for the first ride of camp and MY first ride outside since that 112 spin around the Island of Cozumel on 12/1. I was a little nervous....we had a 100 miles ahead of us. Not only was it my first ride outside ( was for most of us ) but it was a LOT longer than I have been riding so far this spring.  
We headed off together but we all split up into small groups or on our own pretty quickly. When there are 17 people, there's a good chance you have a lot of different ability levels. I was with some people for a while, but then they went ahead. Some were behind me. After a while, I was by myself. And  honestly, I spent a large part of camp riding by myself. I was fine with that. I knew my friends were around me. Some of the guys were just too darn fast  & I rode ahead of some others. It gave me a lot of time to take things in and concentrate on my own riding. After about 50 miles, we came to the turn for Kitt's Peak. All I knew at that point was it was about a 12 mile climb. As we got closer, this is the view we saw: 




I wasn't sure where on that mountain  we were headed but the peak was clearly significant.  Game on! 

I liked this climb. It was steep, but not too steep. I felt strong. It was day 1 so the legs weren't trashed yet. I found a few friends to say Hi to on my way and that broke things up. E3 Coach Jorge rode by us at the top blasting: 

Seriously!!! How great is that? I had about 2 miles left to climb and one of the most kick ass songs from the 80s is being played next to me as I pedaled! haha.. totally made me smile. 

 Alright, That is the pretty elevation profile of this day 1 climb. Nice huh!!  The ride up wasn't horrible really. It was hard, dont' get me wrong. I was just still fresh at that point. As I neared the top, it got COLD! The temps dropped dramatically as we were blocked by big  cliffs. Snow was even  seen in small piles along the road. Brrr.  It was fun to reach the top, high 5 with a few others who were already up, eat some boiled potatoes ( new thing this week for me ), get some encouragement and a warm coat ( only one? !) and then head down. 
Kitt's Peak Obervatory-- this is where we met at the top. You can see the road we were on leading up to the peak.


The ride down this peak, while only 12 miles, was possibly one of my hardest parts ( just one ) of the week and certainly the least enjoyable. ( well....maybe...more to come on the week  ) It was FREEZING!!!!!  It was scary with tight turns, steep sides, and because I was so cold, it was hard to brake. I stopped a couple times just to shake my hands out and regroup. I went so so slowly but was miserable from the hard cold descent. At the bottom, Jana and I actually got into Jorge's car to warm up for about 10 minutes. I was really happy to be done with that part. 

From there... we rode about 35-40 miles back to the resort. Only a handful of us made that final trip back. It was long, but my legs were fine. The biggest issue were the road conditions. Who would ever think that Maine roads would be in better shape than AZ roads? It was horrendous through a few sections. Just extremely rough and beat up.  
103 miles later...... I climbed off the bike. Finally. Hot, tired, and Happy to be done. 
Almost- time to do what we triathletes do next! 
Run!
It was actually a little pathetic. The road around our place was just up or down so that hurt. And made it even harder. It's one thing to ride 103 miles after a long winter on the trainer but it's another to ride 103 then run uphill in the desert. Ouch. There were a few little walk breaks to catch my breath. There were a few little breaks to bend down and stretch out the legs, or at least that's what I was telling myself I was doing. :) It was just hard. 
But, I did it! 
After that-- recovery time! The treat about that? It was truly my recovery time. Most days, my long workouts end with a rushed shower while gulping down whatever my post-wko food is IN that shower or at least in the bathroom then off to get the kids and move along to whatever that afternoon activity is. This post-wko chill time is part of what made this training trip a vacation for me. In addition-- the guys next door made us dinner!!! BONUS! I got to relax AND someone else made dinner. Voila-- a perfect day 1. 

That's enough for one post. I accidentally deleted all the photos I uploaded to use so I'm giving up for today. 


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Goal-> Make THIS year the year to remember

I'm a few months into my 9th year in Triathlon. The race calendar is starting to fill, the family calendar is Full, and my Training Calendar is now back to the way it should be.... full of lots of interesting swim, bike and run workouts that are now pushing me harder than ever before.

Last year ended late... a  December Ironman down in Mexico was a late season race but thankfully, it ended with my goal achieved. When I missed qualifying for Kona by a few short minutes & only 1 place at Ironman Texas, the ache grew deep. It was at that moment that I knew I wanted and needed to go back. At least one more time.

Why? Many reasons... and I  have said before when it comes to my 'why', it's personal.

I worked long and hard all fall and secured my spot at Cozumel. Then it was time for a much needed break. I put aside the gear and enjoyed Christmas, birthdays,  New years, more birthdays, lots of skiing and other things that just needed to be attended to. I did a little of this and a little of that but it was relaxed and mellow. I needed that 'time off.'

My plan for 2014 at that point was to coach myself. After all, I coach others successfully. Why not myself? I am completely disciplined. I have no trouble with motivation. I know what needs to be done. So I tried it.
In all honesty, it was a disaster. I floundered. I doubted myself, I cut workouts short because there are always 100 other things that I need to do, and I never felt pushed. There was nobody watching. I didn't have anyone on the other end who cared what I was doing. I felt alone.

I did not expect that. I've been at this a while and truly thought I could just get the work done and be prepared.
I was wrong.
The value in having knowledgeable and objective 'eyes' on your training is huge.  And,there are always going to be days that are harder than others to get UP and OUT the door for a run or a ride. Or days when hitting the alarm OFF at 4:03 a.m. without Throwing it out the window and punching something is a challenge, but if it is in my training log, I will do it. I do not miss workouts unless I'm sick with a fever.

I knew I needed that support again. I knew I needed the experience of someone else to look over me objectively, examine what I have done in the past and help determine what I need to do now to achieve the big goals I have for 2014.

I may be a little older, but I am still me. I can still do what I did a few years ago. I know this. I don't feel any differently and I am absolutely not viewing myself as past that point of finding my best. I don't give up very easily. In fact, I'm a little stubborn about these things.
It didn't take me very long to figure out who would also believe in me. And perhaps even believe in me more than I believe in myself.

I reached out to my friend Jeff Capobianco at Breakthrough Performance Coaching . We talked and he said Yes to coaching me and I've been on a new training 'high' ever since. THANK YOU Jeff!!!!!

I have known Jeff for several years as an athlete, friend, and as fellow Coach. I have watched not only the incredible success he has had as an athlete, but the successes of many of his athletes. I'm thrilled to be a new team member of BPC!!!!

Since starting with Jeff at BPC I have had excellent feedback and support and I am reaching new levels in some of my workouts. I am finding a new 'gear' that I hadn't even attempted before.

This is a big year for me. It's my last year in this age group. It's a year that will close out with a trip back to the Big Island for the Ironman World Championships. It'll be my 3rd time attacking that race.  I am lucky to have the ability to go to this again and I am not going to waste this opportunity. If I am going to reach the goals I have set for myself, the ones I think are achievable, I need to stay focused and driven. I need to pay attention to details like I never have before.

I am in very good hands now and feeling 100% confident in the plan that's being laid out for me. I am so lucky to have Jeff's support and expertise for this!!!

At the request of our kids, we sometimes plug in the old videos of the kids when they were smaller. One of our favorite quotes is from  Tommy, my middle boy, when he was about 3 yrs old. It was Easter and we were getting ready to hunt for the eggs. He was in his blue flannel pjs, bouncing around the room and throwing his little body on his bed over and over saying, "Can you SEE all my Excitment??!!!"   He was fired up!!

I feel like Tommy did that day. Fired up and excited.