Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Race Report-Timberman 70.3

Timberman 70.3

Final Time: 4:56:15
1st AG/101 6th amateur woman OA/424
111th overall (men & women) /1900

It was a day to remember. It was fun. It was nerve wracking. It was Hard!! It doesn't matter how fit you are or how fast you are relative to the field, I believe that endurance racing hurts for every one of us out there. It's a long day. When you put yourself out there and leave nothing back on the couch, it's going to hurt. However, dare I say there are few things more satisfying than conquering that pain and getting to the finish line. All the suffering is worth deep sense of satisfaction. It is a remarkable high....

I was nervous last week. But I was able to maintain a clear head. I was feeling reasonable with my nerves. I wanted to do my best. I had specific goals and I felt they were within reach. I do always wonder how taper will work. How will my body react to the nutrition plan I had in mind. Will I be able to push through the pain.
Saturday arrived and I was feeling calm and relaxed. I had a great warm up. It was a fun day with Mark, Mary and Andy. I was able to finally meet my coach in person and that was great.
Before I knew it...that relaxed fun day was over and beep beep beep. My alarm was ringing 4:01 across the hotel room.
I stood in the middle of the room and reality hit. My hands shook as I brushed my teeth. This was it.
After watching Michael Lovato and Simon Lessing go through the same breakfast routine as me in the hotel's pre-dawn continental breakfast, I had a wave of calm again. They are just like us. They may be super fast, but their mornings start just like ours. They are sleepy and staggering around fixing oatmeal and coffee. It was a nice way to start.
We pulled into the park around 5:00. Like last year, I was struck by the flood of athletes making their way into the dark transition area. Lit by flood lights it is a bit surreal. Slow motion. Thousands of people moving through their own ritual.
I found Mary after a short time. We talked quickly and then separated again. It was time to start the non stop porta-potty trips. I swear I spent more time in line for those stinky blue cases then I did getting ready for my event.
After standing on the beach for 45 minutes and yes, waiting in line for the porta potty again, it was finally time to get in line. I wanted a few more hours. I wanted to set my clock back. At the same time, I was ready to hear the gun and go for it. Two thougts battling in my mind at once. That is normal for me on race day.

I edged to the front of the pack and right next to the orange start buoy. The thing flipped towards me a few times and I had bad flashbacks from my near drowning incident at the Portland race.
Ten, nine, eight, seven.....GO!
I felt great. The swim started and I took off comfortably. I didn't get hit by anyone. Smooth sailing. I looked behind me after 15-20 strokes and realized I was alone. I headed off and never looked back again. I felt really strong and smooth for the swim. I didn't have much trouble getting by the people in the waves ahead of us. It went well this time. Finally the orange triangle buoy appeared and we headed to shore. It was really choppy but I love watching the crowd on the beach grow bigger as I sight to shore. It's one of my favorite things about triathlons I think. There's some kind of rush in that for me.
I hit the beach and heard, "First blue cap!" Yeah. That's me! I heard and saw Mark and Andy screaming. Mark yelled my split for me. 29:10. Right on. I wanted to break last year's time of 30:57 and get under the 30" mark. 1st amateur woman in swim.....cool. Goal # 1....Check...
Transition was easy. I skipped the wetsuit strippers. They haven't worked for me. I was calm and methodical and went through the routine that I've grown used to this summer. Off I went. 2:04 not bad.
Bike--This was actuallyFun this race! I dont' usually say that about the bike segment. However, I felt great. Coach had told me to work the hills since I can gain the most there and take it easy on the decents since it's hard to gain much on that. Unfortunately, there were remarkably few downhills! So the first 10 or so miles are up up up. I worked them all and felt amazing. Strong and light. I kept cranking the whole ride. I was cautious of drafting and blocking and all those annoying and hard to avoid bike laws when there are 2000 racers!!! Mark and Andy were on the course in several spots (thanks Guys!!!) and I got great smiles from them, enthusiastic cheers, and quick updates on Mary!!! She and I were nervous about flats so I had to make sure she was doing ok!!
The way back was kind of annoying. There was a headwind. The hills continued to go up up UP even though they did that going out. How is that possible? It sure did feel that way. I was watchign the clock and working hard to get in before 2:45. I Really wanted to break 5 hrs and knew I had to come in around then in order to give myself a bit of a cushion on the run. I was still feelign good but my quads showed signs of fatigue. Just a touch. I took salt. Hammer gels, Heed, water. I kept fueling and hoping I was doing it right. Plus...no flats! No penalties! And NO Blood!!! Woohoo! Mom and Dad will like that last one. :o)
Finally, 1/2 mile to Ellacoya...YEAH! I was at 2;39 or 2:40 and knew I'd make it. Big smiles for this girl. That's about 20+ minutes off last year's time. Final split: 2:43.20 3rd in my AG on bike. Goal #2....Check!
T2 was fine as well. In and out in 1:42. Not bad. I had to change my socks. They were soaked from squirting water all over my legs to wash off sticky Heed. Guess that slowed me a bit. That's ok. Worth it I think.
Well, before the race, Mary and I had agreed that we just wanted to get to the run. We knew we'd be ok once we just got off the bike.
Um........woops. We were Oh SO wrong!!!
I knew almost immediately. I wasn't quite right. I wasn't breathing too hard. My stomach was fine. But my legs. My Quads. OUCH!!! they were on FIRE!!! They felt like they each weighed 50lbs. I was suffering right from the get go. Mile 1 was 7:20 and then the next 2 were under 7. That was great. Good splits. But there was way too much effort involved here. I was a bit stressed. I worked very hard to keep my head in the game. I shuffled. I was barely moving. "Put One foot in front of the other" was goign through my head. I had it in my head that if I made it back to the park, the half way mark, I woudl get a boost from my husband and Andy and then I could fight my way to the end. That turn around at 4+ took Sooooo long to get to. It was hot. It wa in the 80s and while in reality it was a gorgeous day, it wa hot to me. It has been cool and rainy for 3+ weeks in Maine and these temps were hard. I drank so much gatorade, water, squeezed sponges, and took gels. I was trying everything. I knew that I had to try something different. I know...COKE! I never take Coke. But I've heard stories about it really helping some people. I gave it a try. Magic!!! I had a boost and could run again. Not for long and not hard, but I had some relief. I drank so much soda on that run. There are aid stations Everywhere. It's awesome that way. I found myself dreaming of slush puppies the whole way. I couldn't wait to get back to the lake to jump in and to somehow find a slush puppy. I had to make this dream come true. It's all I could think about between painful steps. Slush puppies and staying upright. Either my legs would give out and I'd tip over, or I'd make it allllllllllllllllll the way back to the finish and have my dream meal of icy fruity slush.
Meanwhile, I had not been passed by a single woman all day. That felt good. Until mile 11. There she was. Girl in Red. Damn. Her leg had a 3 on it but not the 2nd digit. I almost asked her point blank, "listen. How old are you? I am really tired and really don't want to race right now. " Instead, I raced. How could I give up? We ran shoulder to shoulder until 12.5. At that point, what seemed like 100 of her teammates ( I learned later...at the time I thought people just picked Her to cheer for!) came out to yell GO RENEE!!! Hey! What about me? :) One guy ran right up to us and said to her...dont' wait! Get her now! Ugh. I was too tired for this! I was in so much pain but my running legs had come back. I did fight. I pulled a 6:55 for my last mile. But...she outkicked me. That's ok. I got it in the end. She started in a wave ahead of me. I beat her anyway! Ha! Take that! :0) I did give her a big congrats at the end and thanked her for saving me from the dead. She forced me to work the end of the race which is what I really wanted to do anyway.
When I crossed the line, I almost hit my watch. But at the last minute I remembered to smile for the camera! My attempt to do that resulted in an expression that I'm sure looked like a dying animal of some sort. I can't wait to see that one !
After hanging on to a fence for a while after crossing the line, I had a nice cold towel thrown on me and get this ...FREEZE POPS!!! CLose enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I almost hugged the guy. He gave me 5. I hit the cooling tent and ate my 5 freeze pops and all was good again. I did it.
Run 1:39. 52 (1 min slower than last year) Pace: 7:38 2nd in my AG for run. 11th amateur woman in run. Given how bad it felt, I'll take it. I didn't meet my goal for the run, but I'll take it. I did what I had to do.

Final time: 4:56:15 Goal #4 Big CHECK!! I broke 5 hrs!!! And finally, my last goal was to earn my Clearwater spot. Goal #5... Check!!

After hugging Mark at the finish, I said, "hun, I think I won." He confirmed it. I got my spot. While running out there, I wondered if I'd ever do another tri again! It hurt hurt hurt. But, after a little cool water and frozen fruity slush, I accepted my spot and am psyched for Worlds 2008!!!

That's that. My day on the race course. Now, I rest. I can't walk. I'm exhausted. But I'm So so Happy. It all came together.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A few pictures of our day....race report will appear soon....

These all loaded backwards!! Scroll down to start in order.
Here I am post 70.3. Not a pretty picture but I'm SO happy in the cooling tent with my wet towel, medal and freeze pops. More on that later!
Half way done with the run...

Heading out for my run.

Getting closer....the smiles are a little more forced here. At least I can see through them to our nerves.

I love this one. This race was so much fun because Mary and Andy were there. Here we are moments before the swim. We were looking fairly relaxed!

5 a.m. race morning...all smiles on the outside. On the inside, my stomach was churning and I was Nerrrrrvous!!!!

In short...

Clearwater 70.3 Here I Come!!!!!!

I got my spot! 1st in my age group at Timberman 70. 3 yesterday earned me a spot at Worlds in November.

Race report to come....I need to recover and regroup a bit before I write the story.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

State of Mind

Have you ever been in a race and thought, "Ugh....I'm so tired. I think I'll just back off a bit. Who cares anyway? It's just a race. This just wasn't my day. So what. I can't always go that fast." blah blah blah.
You know, this happens to me at some point during almost every race.
But you know what, I fight back. With this:
"What the hell are you saying? You Go Girl! You've worked so hard. Your legs are strong. A little fatigue won't kill you! Rest when you're done. You've fought through the pain before, do it again. It's hard for everyone right now. What makes you think you can rest? Fight fight fight!"

It's a mind game for me. I don't know if I'm alone here or not. I imagine some superstar athletes out there have their Lazy Racing Demon hidden so far in their minds that she doesn't have a chance to emerge during competition. I could use a little injection from Michael Phelp's supply of confidence.
It's not that I don't have confidence. I do. I know I can work hard with the best of them. I know it. It's maintaining that strength when things get tough.
It's been a great season. I've raced a lot and I've raced well. I'm very satisfied with how I've performed this year. It's rewarding to do well after putting in hours and hours each week. This triathlon adventure is a high maintenance hobby. It takes thought. It takes discipline. Money. Time. Patience. Grit. Consistency. Day after day after day. We all know what it takes. I imagine anyone reading this has made their own sacrifices and fought their own battles to get to the starting line prepared for the big day. It's been a fun journey but it hasn't been easy every step of the way.
That's what makes the finish line feel Oh SO Good!!!
Sunday is my big day. It's the race that I have focus on all summer. My body is ready. I have put in all the time in the water and on the roads. My muscles have been worked and now they are rested.
But is my Mind ready? That's what it's all about at this point. 100% state of mind. It's time to believe. To feel strong--inside my head. It's time to hide my lazy demon and fight the urge to let her surface in the middle of the race. I can not let her come to get me. Things will get tough out there. But I can do this. I can feel the pain and savor it. I will savor the fact that my body can overcome the discomfort and reach a new level on the race course.
After all, if it was easy, everyone could do it.
Game on....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Just have to say....

Team USA Swimmers ROCK!!!! If you're not tuned in yet...I highly recommend it. They are inspiring!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Training Hurdles....

Since it's taper week and my training at this point is quite minimal and boring, I thought I'd talk about something we all deal with. Hurdles. Those hoops we jump through to make things work.
My biggest hurdle is pool time. Time in general is a big thing for me but I've figured out a way to make that work.
Pool time is a different story. I'll try not to get too fired up here. I live in an area without a local pool. I almost makes me cringe just to write that. I've been a swimmer since I was 8. I was lucky enough to grow up in an area with a beautiful town pool.
Now, the closest pool is 35 minutes away. It drives me nuts.
For the past few years, I have driven there for their 6 am swim. I leave home at 5:03, arrive there a 5:40, and hop in the water at 5:50. You see, the man who has lifeguarded the "early bird swim" for the past 14 years is nice enough to let us in 10 minutes early. I swim until 6:22, jump out, dress while still wet and drive like a maniac to get home so my husband can get to work at 7:00. Lucky for me he works ~1 mile from home and can leave here at 6:58!! Phew. That's a whopping 2000 yds most days! A whole 4000 yards/week! Yeah. Way to get fit! Sorry for the sarcasm. It just bugs me.
Things are even more annoying right now though. Our devoted lifeguard is out for 5 weeks. His sub does not see things as he does. She opens the locker rooms for us at 5:58. Arrrgh!!! What a waste of time! It's driving me nuts.
I tried to very calmly and politely explain to her today how much every minute counts and if she'd be willing to open at even 5:55 it would help. I offered to swim the lane lines down the pool to help her. She was ok about it...seemed to understand...sort of.
Somehow I need to convince this town of ours that the area needs a town pool. And then I need to raise the mega bucks to build it!!! Any ideas??
We all have hurdles we deal with to train for this sport. That's mine.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

6 days

There are only 6 days left until my big A race of the season. The Timberman 70.3 will take place on Sunday.
I'm getting nervous.
And excited.
Will it all come together?
Can I pull some speed out of this body that is feeling sluggish and slow in the middle of this taper week?
I know that there's nothing more to do this week that will improve my level of fitness. But I also know that if I handle this week incorrectly, I could lose some ground.
I must eat right.
Sleep well.
Rest the body but not stop the body.
It's a tricky process I think.
My trust is in my coach. I am following the plan and hoping that when the gun sounds next Sunday, all the hard work will funnel into a rock solid 5 hrs...or less! :o) Let's hope.
Today was a rest day. This always Always leaves me feeling blah and lazy.
Tomorrow I will swim a little and run a little with some short bursts of speed.
When do I start to feel the pent up energy? I want to feel that caged animal inside me ready to break out of it's cage.
Let's see what happens this week.
Now I'm off to watch some faaaaaaaaast Olympic swimming to get myself psyched!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Slug Dodge

That's all I could think of on today's run. Slugs. Everywhere. Dead slugs. Big slugs. Slugs squished into piles. Gross, I know. But so is the weather in Maine right now!!! It's wet wet wet and damp and cool and drizzly and gray!
AHHH!! I'm losing my mind.
You know, I'm ok with a good rainy day every now and then. It's a good excuse to stay inside, get things done, play quietly with the kids. Except I have 3 boys. Today I had a 4th here. Yesterday I had a 4th here for that matter. Ages 4, 6, 8, and 10. These little people need, I mean Really Need some good-hard-active outside time Every single day!! Trust me. Quiet inside time is very limited. And, it's August. There's only a few more weeks of summer vacation. And it's been raining and raining and raining!

On a good note, I did have a nice 6 mile run this evening. My husband came home and agreed to make dinner while I ran. Perfect. And it was just that. 45 minutes to myself PLUS a relaxing shower after!!! All while someone else made dinner!!! Heaven.
Except for the slugs. They really were everywhere.
That's about all I have to say about my run.
Except, I felt quite sluggish and slow. It's taper time. I know people feel odd during taper. I know it's not quite time to feel zippy and ready to race. But it's hard to feel off so close to a big race. Instead, I am going to focus on the wonderful afternoon alone time I had instead.
Mr. Sun...PLEASE come back!!!
There's my rant for the day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bethel Sprint Race Report...Yes, Another one!!

I have been racing a lot. I felt it at this last race. It's called the Maine State Triathlon and it takes place in Bethel, ME. I love this race. It's a small town race but it draws some great triathletes each year. It's close to my home and a bunch of family members usually show up to cheer us on.
My husband raced the B2B on Saturday. That's the Beach2Beacon 10K road race. This is an 11 yr old race in Maine. It's Maine's largest road race drawing about 5000 runners including some of the world's fastest. It was created and is now organized by Joanie Benoit Samuelson. I skipped it this year. It was a bit hard to watch the finish but I know I made the right decision. Mark kicked butt. He had a PR of 39:33. I'm so psyched for him.
We hurried home after the race (1+ hrs away), I did my pre-race workout, changed adn headed back to Portland after dropping the kids with my in-laws. It was the night of my 20th HS reunion! Never a dull moment. I wasn't too revved up for this event. However, we were having dinner before with my best friends and that was the whole reason I went. It was so nice. My friend Chris (Hi Chris! :o) ) lives in Chicago now so I never get to see her. Even though our visit was short, it made the whole double trip to Portland worth it. I just wish I had hrs more to sit at dinner with the girls.
Sunday am came so fast. We headed to Bethel and I tried to get into race mode. I was nervous. I had another shot at racing "fast girl" from last week. Last year at this race we got 1st and 2nd. What would happen this year?
We surveyed the transition areas. T2 had a Long grassy hill with mud at the bottom! We had to dismount and then head down this hill! Oh man, did I need this again? Another fall at T2? I am getting tired of this. It was my goal to make it down this hill without Falling!!! I was determined.
We rode over the the swim start. There were two Transition areas again. I racked my bike next to a big bike with a kickstand and a tin of water for rinsing feet! Man that person took up a LOT of room!
Finally it was time to start. I was scanning the crowd for my in-laws who had our kids. They are there each year with some of Mark's sisters cheering us on in the water. There was no sign of them but....MY MOM!!! Oh my gosh. My Mom and Dad showed up!!! They absolutely rock I have to say. They have travelled around this country since I was 8 yrs old to see me race. Here it is, 30 yrs later, and they're still doing it! They had asked a lot of questions the day before but I never thought. It's 1.5 hrs from their house and for a sprint tri! They would see me for all of 5 minutes! I just hope that I can be the kind of parents they are as my kids grown. They are just always there for me. It made my day. I waved like crazy and my Dad peered out of his hiding place and smiled. Very cool.
Ok, the men's wave was first. There were only 3 waves. Small race. Three minutes apart. Clearly not enough. We watched the back of the pack swim just a short distance before we took off from the beach.
First, I got trampled at the beach! I am not sure who it was but some seriously aggressive women were in that pack! Look out. Time for Ange to pour on the speed and get Away from that mess!! I kicked like mad and took off and got into clear water. Phew. close one. I was confident that I could at least draft off 'fast girl' since I stayed with her in the water at the Portland race. I got to the first buoy and was doing fine when whack!! Some guy doing breaststroke kicked me in the face. I was mad. My goggles flew off. I had to fix them and that was that. She was gone. Shoot. I just motored on and hoped I wasn't too far behind. The rest of the swim was spent dodging the men's wave. They were all over me. I got trampled a lot. Oh well. That's part of it I guess.
Here's the funny part. My husband likes to talk while he races. He just doesn't ever seem too tired to say a few words. I was swimming along and suddenly realized I was next to him! I could just tell it was him. Sure enough, he saw me, stopped and started mouthing words!!! I had to laugh. Of course I didn't even slow down but I did flash a smile while I breathed. We laughed about that later for sure.
Ok, out of the water. Where was she?? I hurried to T1. What a disaster. I did a bad bad job this time. My bike got stuck on kickstand bike!! Not good. I had to lift the rack up to get mine out from under it. Then I headed the wrong way! I was flustered. Ugh.
I started biking and that's when I felt the past few races. My glutes were aching. My legs were flat. I started to doubt myself. I started to make excuses. I thought about my hard 70 mi ride + 6 mi run from 3 days before. Blah blah blah. Not good thoughts.
I am not sure where my attitude changed but it did. I got back in the game. I felt decent and pushed hard. I kept imagining I could see her ahead and was gaining.
Ok, T2. Here's that grassy, muddy hill. Focus Ange Focus! I can get down this hill. I think I can I think I can. Woooahh!!! Nope! She stays on her feet! No fall to laugh at this time! Ha...time to get those sneakers.
I hit my rack and started this process. I was in there alone. I hear this calm and quiet "HI!" I turned my head to see my 3 little boys standing there about 10 ft from me smiling. What a riot! I managed to flash them a smile and wave and off I went.
Alright, this run is like no other on the Maine "circuit." It's great. It's TOUGH! But it is oh so fun. My sister in-law, an x-Olympic nordic skier, always head out on these trails to help us. You see, the run is a trail run through some XC ski trails. It's so cool. We headed out into a field and I kid you not, we had to run through knee deep water that was about 20 ft long. It was a riot. Leslie yelled to me as I came upon it and made a face, "Go ANGE!! Just GO! EVERYONE has to do it!!!" Ok I yelled back and in I went. After that it was all about mud, roots, rocks and hills. Up and over adn down and around and look out for that mud hole!!! 3 miles of it. It's a challenging course for sure. I felt strong and ran hard. It was the best leg of the day for sure.
Coming back across the field and into the knee deep water I could see my Mom, Dad, 3 boys, Father and Mother in-law, sister in law, her fiance, their 3 kids and 2 friends standing up on a hill yelling for me. Can't beat that!!! I pushed so hard.
It was not my day to beat her. Perhaps someday I will. But she is making me faster and keeping things interesting.
I was 2nd woman. I was 7th overall. 1st in my age group.
3rd fastest swim--men and women
My time was 1:23 which was 4 minutes faster than this race last year. Can't beat that!
I was about 1:30 behind the winner. Not too bad.
It was a fun day. Mark did great too after a hard 10k the day before.
The kids had fun playing with their cousins while they watched Mom and Dad...again!
My parents enjoyed the event and told me they were proud. My Dad won't stop talking about the different images he's gaining from this. They do enjoy watching us race. It makes me happy.
It was a fun family day.
Now, it's time to taper. I need it now. I have been mentally "on" for a while. I hope I can regroup this week and get excited next week.
10 days 'til the big one.
Timberman 70.3 here I come.

Friday, August 1, 2008

ZUE Race photos

Here I am on the run at Zone Urban Epic Triathlon. This is right before the guy came upon me and said about the Pro woman 5 seconds ahead of me, "Are you going to catch her? You're not running around with all that blood for nothing are you?"
I couldn't make these pictures line up right. There I am moments after the big crash on the bike. My face says it all-click on images for close ups of my pain! :)