Monday, May 25, 2009

It happened

I've been waiting for something to happen.
Some told me I might never actually get this feeling. Some told me it arrives slowly.
I have been waiting patiently for my body, my brain, my heart to show me signs that I was ready.
140.6 miles
2.4 swim- of course. no problemo. Ready to go for it here...
112 bike-yup. I can do this. Will it hurt? surely. Will I swear at the 19th climb? definately. But can I do it? absolutely. I am ready for this too.
26.2 run-I've done 6 marathons. Some prettier than others. I've hobbled to the finish line, I've sailed in feeling strong, I've been lifted along the final miles by the crowds in Boston, and I've nearly collapsed from heat exhaustion in Chicago. But I have finished each and every marathon. PR of 3:27. A decent time. I'm proud of it.'s the catch. I have never done a marathon AFTER the aforementioned events. Ha! We all know THIS is the trick to the Ironman.

I have been working hard for....years.
I conquered the Half Ironman twice last year. I won my age at Timberman and then was 5th at Worlds. I have a good base...
I have been working harder this spring.
Miles upon miles upon miles.
However, I must admit, regardless of the long bricks, long runs, long rides, I still had an inkling of doubt.
Could I actually do this??

Saturday I had a workout and now folks, I am convinced. Yes, I can. And, I am ready. In fact, if someone had told me the race was that day.....GO! Hey LADY! The Ironman is NOW! Keep runninging.....20 more miles! I would have chuckled, smiled, grabbed a few more gels and been psyched as hell. 'Cause I had IT that day!! What a feeling.

I had planned on this long brick...I knew it would be on my plan before it was there. At the last minute (aka-earlier that week) my family planned at workday at the cottage. ugh. conflict. Conflict. conflict. I do NOT do well with this......I carefully explained to my Dad that I had this committment. I went through the awkward explanation of why I couldn't change things around. It was tricky for me. long story short....I was convinced by him that it was FINE. (for the record-my parents are my Biggest supporters....100%...Dad has a picture of me riding as his screen saver for example...) The other cool thing-my husband insisted that he go early with the kids and put in the work. pretty awesome. I owe him.
Because of all this, I was determined to get up and out the door even earlier.
So I was up at 4:30 and out the door within an hour. (had to have some breakfast, coffee, and who knows what else. It just took me this long)
I rode and rode and rode and rode and rode. I covered most of southern Maine I think. I had a route from my friend since I was doing a point to point ride. She gave me some super roads to ride on and a great 30 mile loop in the middle of my journey.
I had to stick z4 efforts in every 30 minutes....OUCH! that is hard. z4 on the bike is practically all out for me.
That's ok, I was feeling it that day.
I worked hard on the bike and enjoyed the ride.
A little over 5 hrs of riding and there I was at my parent's house...
I ran in, threw on the running gear and headed out the door for my 30 min run. I was feeling the pressure to get down to camp to help. Everyone had been there for hours.
But as soon as I stepped out to run, I forgot about all that. What was this?? My legs! They were...FINE! I mean, Fine! Ready to run. And run. and Run. At home, all of my T runs start with a 1/2 mile climb. It's tough. It's just what I do though.
This was flat for a mile or so. A treat. I was easily holding a 7-7:15 pace. Sweeeeeeeet. I stayed rigth there. My HR stayed in the 140s-150s. Aerobic for me. Totally fine. My energy levels were even throughout the 6 hours. My brain was focused. I was in the zone. My body was responding.
That was it.
As soon as I ran in the driveway, wishing I could continue running, I knew I was ready.
Two months from tomorrow.
Now-I know I can do it.
People can tell you you can and assure you it'll be fine-but you need to feel that certain something.
I felt it. I am going to be an Ironman. Yes!
Thanks Jen. :)
When I told my husband I could've done it that day, he just chuckled and said, "Jen knows what she's doing with you. She's playing you like a fiddle....of course you can do this Ange."

The next day wasn't recovery..not yet.
I had a 1:30 run. The bulk of it was spent alternating between 5K pace and marathon pace. Hmm...marathon pace. I could pick from 1 of 6. Instead, I picked a pace that I think I should be able to hold. That was 7:30-7:45. Maybe not for Ironman, but for a flat Marathon.
It was Hard! My legs responded though. I wasn't shot from SAturday. I didn't shuffle and struggle. I worked hard, got the HR up, and pushed the pace. Success.
Next up: ice bath.
Two days at our new camp with lots of R&R.
No complaints from this girl.

Two weeks 'til Mooseman. It's going to be a blast.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A couple days-A couple stories

I have to share this. It really makes me laugh.
A few nights ago, I plopped on my son's bedroom floor during story time and decided to show one of them (there are 3, I can't remember who it was) how to arm wrestle. It think I was distracting him from something.
This totally amused the kids. They all took turns with each other and little Nick was absolutely cracking up. They loved it.
This ended in a dual between Mommy and Daddy. Now, of course Daddy is stronger. Right? He's 6' 3" & 195 lbs and well, a guy.
Ha! We were in a "stalemate" for several minutes. His eyes grew wide and he just laughed. "Honey! Oh my god. I can't believe this! Ahhh!" He was cracking up. He couldn't budge me! Finally, my arm was tired. He got me in the end of course.
The funny part? He got up and lifted the next day.
Girl power.

What can we do to make the swim longer in triathlons? I've had a good week in the pool. I am not sure what changes from week to week but sometimes you just have it. Sometimes you don't. Some days I can move along and feel good. Not bad. But certainly not great. Clearly there are many factors that influences daily performance. I realize that. In fact I'm clearly aware of things that affect daily performance.
But all I care about right now is that this week I have felt great in the water. A few days ago I had a swim with a few fast sprints. They were as fast as I've been all season. Today, I had 6x400. The intervals descended down to 5:20. Those would be tough to make. Right? Nope! I nailed 'em all!! All safely under 5:20. A few under 5:15 actually. I Like that. I pulled out my "open water distance stroke" and it felt smooth. That might sound strange but I do swim differently once the wetsuit is donned and I am moving for 20-30 min in the case of a Half Ironman.
Later on I knocked out a fairly strong 3 hr ride. I had some zone 3 work in the middle. Z3 is Tough!! On the bike anyway. On the run, not so much. But my bike Z3 Starts at 153 bpm. I have a high HR I think. But I have to kick my ass to get there. And then to hold it....ouch. But I did it. My quads feel it now baby.

My final mission this week is more work on nutrition. I am constantly playing with my nutrition. I am constantly thinking about it anyway. I am reading more and more about clean eating. I have emptied a few things from our cupboards that I never realized were so bad. My kids are thrilled. I made some yummy homemade granola bars. We are nearly free from refined sugars, enriched flour, and other processed foods. Hmm...wonder if this is why I am feeling so good.

Finally, we have a new kitten. he is awesome. So cute. Pictures to come. But rigth now, the little nut is on my legs crawling in circles and playing with must stop. He's going to rip a hole if I don't stop him.

see ya!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Moose, Black Flies, and Success

I had a good training week last week. I logged 20.5 hours. A new record. And you know, I feel pretty good.
My longest workout was on Saturday. A 6 hour brick. I was determined to get up and out of the house before everyone else awoke. There are a few benefits to this. Of course, I get home earlier and have more of the day to spend with the family, to do other things, and it alleviates some of my self-imposed guilt about being gone so long. But the other reason is that I can actually focus and get ready within 45 minutes instead of more than an hour. So I was up at 5:30 and almost ready when....boom boom boom. My 7 yo is NOT quiet when he comes downstairs. The boys just walks like an elephant. It's unreal. So, 5:57 and the little ones all appear. Not so bad I guess...I got a few sweet early morning hugs as I headed out. I was almost ready to go so despite the fact that they were "starving" and I had to find a little pre-breakfast snack, I was able to hit the road by 6:30.
The forecast was great for the day. But, it was cold to start. It's nearly impossible to dress for these workouts. I mean, when you start at 6 a.m. and finish after lunch (with all the stops..) the temperature changes dramatically!!!! It was 46 when I started and 77 when I finished.
I was following a map that a friend gave me. He had a route that I would love. Let's just say I was cursing the guy by the time 60 miles hit. You see, I live in rural Maine. Riding 80+ miles either takes me south or east into much more populated areas OR...the other way. I went the other way this time. I am not from rural Maine originally. I love the peace and quiet here. Dont' get me wrong. I no longer have patience for traffic lights that last more than 1 minute. I get irritated with traffic. I love the mountains I run and ride over (usually) and I love the big yards with tons of privacy. But I have my limits. This ride took me to my limits.
After about 30 minutes (thankfully hubby was awake by then and called to check in) I was completely out of cell phone reach. Nada. Zip. No bars. Gone. For hours. Ok, fine. Hope I don't crash, again.
I think I rode nearly 2 hours without seeing a car. Sure this sounds like dream. It's safe. It's quiet. It takes away some stress...but it's LONELY OUT THERE!!!! Oh my god. Nothing. Trees. A pretty lake from time to time. That was nice.
And you know, while my feet were absolutely frozen, my body was heating up as the sun rose. I did have to stop to shed layers...a lot. First I had to lose the leg warmers, then the headband, the coat, the shirt under the bike went on and on. And each time I stopped, I got ATTACKED! Now, this isn's a Rural Maine problem. It's widespread. You see, it's black fly season. And they were out with a vengeance that day. Imagine looking up and seeing 1000s of little black things swarming your head. Gross. And irritating! It did make my stops fast I must say. But I also learned to ride with my mouth closed! Yes, I had to spit out a few of the little nuisances. Yuck.
I felt good out there on the bike. I was keeping a solid pace and I was pleased that I hadn't been riding over mountains all morning. And then I ate my words. What is that? I was now in Sweden. Sweden, Maine. Don't ride in Sweden, Maine! Nothing but up and down and up and down. And I thought I already had that in Paris. Nope. Sweden is worse. And the ups are So so steep that my bike was wavering back and forth across the road. I felt like I might tip over a few times!
While I was huffing and puffing up one of the many 2 mile hills, I heard a rustle. I looked over and rigth on the side of the road, 10 feet away, was a big Moose! He had fallen and was standing himself back up from a mucky spot in the woods. I pedalled harder. Just in case.

Finally I made it back to my town but I still had 2 more hours of riding to go. I didnt' mind finding nice roads close to home to complete those miles. I had had enough of no cell phone signal, of roads leading to nowhere, and the final stretch road that was so torn up and bumpy I felt like my insides were being rearranged. I even threw my arms in the air and cheered when I saw Norway good to be home.

After my ride it was Hot! But I was excited for my hour T run. I wanted to see how I'd hold up. This was my longest brick to date. When I leave my driveway I climb a 1/2 mile hill. That hurt. It was slow. But on the flat mile after that, my legs came around. I felt good!!! And that translated into relief and happiness which made my legs feel even better. I had a great run.
I am sure I could have kept going but 7.5 miles did the trick that day.

Success. Confidence. That was the biggest gain this weekend.
This Ironman is intimidating. I am training hard. I am doing all my workouts...being consistent and solid. I am working hard on nutrtion. I am focusing on getting to bed earlier. I know I am a strong athlete. I have a good base...
And yet, I would lie if I didn't say the 140.6 gives me major nerves. Can I do this? I remain in awe at all the people who have conquered the distance. I get goose bumps just thinking about my name being announced at the finish line.
I have been assured that I have plenty of time left. I am choosing to take comfort in those words. And yet....every week that goes by, no, every day, I do the countdown. It'll be here before I know it.

USAT rankings came out and those were fun to read through. I knew lots of people on those Honorable mention and All American lists. Congrats to everyone!!! It's kind of fun to see your name in a magazine. I made All American this year after being Honorable Mention last year. I was ranked 37th/2073 in my age group. Not bad. A fun little fact that was cool to share with my kids.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. In no particular order

If they were in order, that would suggest some sort of organization in my life. And right now there is none.
Here goes:

  • Good- finishing a 85 mile ride and feeling good
  • bad-the utter pain of my frozen feet thawing out in the hot shower after said ride
  • ugly-swollen/red eyes from riding without glasses because of pouring rain
  • good-riding in a short sleeve shirt
  • good-sleeping in on Mother's day after 4:30a.m. wake up calls all week
  • good-hubby telling me to "take my time" on workouts
  • bad-that sweaty, sticky feeling when pullling my bike in the house after a long ride knowing I have to scramble to change into running shorts for a run. RIGHT NOW!
  • Good-3 miles into that run with the legs feeling strong
  • ugly - the dozens of scars over my body from crashes, surgeries, crashes, slips, bangs, and more clutzy moves I have made
  • ugly-my hair. The pulled back look is getting old. I think I "do" my hair maybe once/week
  • bad-walking into preschool dressed head to toe in workout gear/or sweats over them while most Moms are looking coiffed and pretty ....or is this Good? Hmmm
  • good-running around the house after a 72 mile hill ride, feeling fine
  • bad and probably ugly- the first 10 seconds of an ice bath
  • good-the next 9 minutes of the ice bath
  • good-post long brick meal!
  • bad- the 6th gel of the day on that long brick
  • ugly-the black circles under my eyes after my 3rd 20 hour week
  • good- ALL finish lines
  • good- the tempo runs that you nail
  • good-sub 1:10 100s
  • ugly-my face under the water hitting that sub 1:10!
  • ugly-goggle eyes for the next 2 hours
  • bad-Mommy smelling like chlorine for all her kid's morning hugs
  • g00d-finishing a long long workout that you dreaded and wondered if you would make. Finishing it and feeling stronger than when you started
  • good-knowing you can out run any other Mom dropping their kid off at school
  • ugly-the Dad's faces when/if they find out you can also outrun them
  • good-my husband being at peace with this
  • good-showing my kids how strong women can be
  • bad-dead legs
  • bad-running on dead legs
  • ugly-my face while running on those dead legs
  • good-a good night sleep + rest day
  • good-overcoming those dead legs and fighting back with even stronger legs
  • ugly-my ever enlarging quads...what the Heck??
  • ugly-my toes
  • bad-flats
  • bad-my fear of flats
  • bad-constant aching body parts and fear of injury
  • good-not being injured despite the worry
  • good-2.5 months to Lake Placid
  • Good-knowing I Will make it to the start line
  • Awesome-Imagining the feeling I will have when I make it to the Finish line

I know I forgot a lot. Please feel free to add your own.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

PolarBear Sprint Race Report

The day started with nerves and rain. Honestly, the nerves started the day before. I expect a lot out of myself. I admit to putting pressure on myself. But you see, I have been racing in one way or another since I was 8. I compete every time I go out there. I pay attention to who is around me. I do the best that I can do, and I am not unrealistic about my abilities, but I expect a lot. I have big goals. Why not! It keeps me fired up year after year and I enjoy it.

That said, I was particularly nervous this time.

I had to dust off all the racing gear to prep for yesterday. My race number from Worlds was still on my racing belt. That brought back memories of course. That was a huge race with Pros and all the fanfare. And you know what, I was just as nervous yesterday as I was that day in Florida. Goals. I have goals. I have dreams. In each race. I visualize each part of the race. I visualize the finish. I visualize the outcome.

The rain dried up but the nerves did not.

I set up transition like a rookie. It took me way too long to lay out a very simple mat of bike shoes, sneakers, helmet, hat and race belt. If not for my brother talking nearby about which lenses to use in his glasses, I absolutey would have forgotten to lay mine out. I need my bike glasses. Thanks bro.

I warmed up my run. I felt loose. Fast. Ready.

From there I was off to the pool for another warm up. Again, felt great. I learned at that time that we had to pick our own lanes. They didn't tell us where to go....we did it ourselves. This was good. I wanted a deep lane. I wanted to see my girls. I am good about getting places on time so I knew I could be successful and not get stuck in a crummy spot.

Before the race started, I was SO happy to see my boys. Mark and the kids arrived just in time to give me hugs before I headed to the deck. Remarkably, my 3 boys had a calming effect on me. (note: 3 boys don't typically do this to a Mom. ) I had nice hugs from the little ones and it made me feel great. I was off.

After swearing at my new 1 piece tri suit because I had to wiggle in and out of the thing ~8 times pre-start to run the ladies' room....I was finally ready. Man, that was a pain! Note to self: that suit is Only good for sprints!!

I was literally shaking. Unable to hold a conversation. I was really really nervous. I was excited. Ready. Feeling Strong. But yet very very nervous. I had these big goals.

So what did I do to settle myself? I put myself in the Same lane as my main competitor! Was I crazy? Or smart? I wasn't sure then. I'm still not sure.


Race time.

I was in the middle of the pool. I was next to my girl. She and I have a friendly relationship. I honestly really admire her. She dominates. She is tough! She donned her stoic game face with about 3 minutes to go before the send off. She knew I was after her I think.

This was not the first time she and I have gone at it. Well, I have gone after her at least. She just dominates so I dont' think she's all that concerned about me.

A little background. I have been 2nd to her 6 or 7 times. Nuff said.

Off we went. Faaaaaaaaaast! But, stroke for stroke. However, it was the kind of stroke for stroke that I could feel she had the edge on me. Still, I was hopeful.

And then....OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!! She TOOK OFF!!!!!!! Like a friggin rocket! Amazing. She literally just seemed to have a 3 and 4th gear! Gone. Faster and faster! I pushed and pushed and pushed but geez, she just kept getting more and more distance on me. Damn. I didn't give up. I remembered last year....she beat me out of the water but about the same amount and I caught her on the bike! So I held on. My mind was in the right place. I was fighting back.
So out of the pool...she was about 25 yards ahead of me....there was hope.
I was fast in transition. 40 seconds
I hit the bike course and just went for it. Within a few minutes I was passed by some faaaaaaaaaaast men. Wow. They make me look like I have the brakes on when I'm actually flying along at 26 mph. (slight downhill) They fly. Amazing.
So, I never caught up here. I never gave up hope either. I just pushed harder and harder on the pedals. It's such a short ride. Every few miles there is a corner so it's hard to keep a solid pace.
Into T2.
Ok, more background. Last year was rainy and cold. Last year I was ahead after the bike. And then in T2, I pulled my typical really cool Ange move. I wiped out getting off the bike. In my defense, it was wet and sandy. I ran into T2 with blood flowing down my legs. Go me. That was last year.
THIS year I was determined to be even cooler. No falling allowed.
Instead, I would take my feet out of my shoes and run in barefoot. Remember, I am fairly new to this sport. I have not yet mastered the art of keeping the bike shoes on the bike to mount in T1 or dismount in T2. ( I know Jen, this is bad. I'm very clutsy you see.......)
Ok, so I take my left foot out and that is good to go. NOw, the right foot. At this point, I panic and unclip!!! NO! That is NOT what I meant to do! Now, I am at the corner getting off my bike. One shoe ON the bike and one shoe Off. I am SO cool! Can you stand it!?
I attempt to take that 2nd shoe off now so I didn't have to run into T1 with one shoe on and one shoe off. God I'm pathetic. But that shoe flies off and I have to stop and pick it up. I think I did it all fairly fast. Mark was rigth there (praying I didn't fall) and Jeff my brother was coming in right behind me, watching the whole thing, shaking his head and laughing. See....I'm known for this type of thing.
But hey! T2 in 38 seconds!!! Not bad for all that nonsense huh!

I'm in and out of there and as I run off across the field, I see her. Mark is running beside me with the 3 boys in tow. 50 seconds hun!!!!!!!!!! GO! close and yet.....I have 3 miles. that's not far enough. Not enough time.
You know what? the old me would have said, "ok she got you again. Just run hard."
Not this time. And this is my biggest success of the race. I did NOT give up !!! HOnestly, in my head I kept the mindset that maybe I could run her down.
This run is 90% off road. Through the woods on a soft surface with lots of tree roots. It's hard to see anyone else unlesss they are right there with you. But a few times I got a glimpse. I saw my family and of course, they gave me the stats. I was losing real estate. The finish line was coming.

I ran hard. I suffered. I never ever gave up. And for that, I am proud.

2nd woman
1st age group
13th overall
400 racers

Noteworthy: The top 4 women were EXACTLY the same as last year. Same order. Same. Again. Unreal.

Congrats to everyone yesterday. My friends all had Great races. It was blast to get out there and move fast. A blast to experience the nerves and adrenaline and remember why I love this sport.
Congrats to Catherine. She is truly amazing. A machine. A force. I am honored to even be able to think I can hold my own against her.

Back to my Ironman training now!!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Game Face

Tomorrow is the kick off to our 2009 Triathlon season here in Maine.
I. Can't. Wait.
I LOVE racing. This is why I do all this after all. I mean, there are so many other benefits to being a triathlete. I was actually talking to my son about some of them this afternoon.
It keeps me in shape. It is fun. I make a lot of great friends. It makes me feel young. I am strong. I am trying to teach my boys to set goals, work hard, and accomplish what yoy put your mind to.
Those are all great things. I mean them seriously. And there are many many more reasons I love this sport.
But when it comes down to the nitty gritty.....
I LOVE to RACE!!!!
I get fire in my eyes. I get hunger in my heart. I get excited. I get nervous. I get so damn competitive. Look out. It makes me feel alive.
So tomorrow I will go for it. I mean Really really go for it. I will put 110% into every leg of this race.
It will hurt. I will suck wind for an hour. I will want to stop here and there. I will feel the burn in the quads.
But I will love every second of it.
What I do not understand, however, is why WHY does it take me SO darn long to pack for these races!!!! I mean, it's a SPRINT Ange!!! What on earth takes me so long? Why do I need SO much Stuff!!!???? I drive myself crazy with this. I am not a veteran at this but I do have some solid experience under my belt. And yet, every time, I take hours getting ready.
check tires, blow them up, check again, obsess over getting a flat, check tires again.
pick outfit, try it on, pick a spare in case, pack them both.
pack socks, and extra socks, and socks for warm up.
clothes to wear To the race, clothes to wear After the race, clothes to wear over tri clothes if it's cold After race but before shower, clothes for warm up.
you get the jist. I'm neurotic.
I'm a self-diagnosed obsessive triathlete with serious over packing issues.
good news is: I'm almost done! My sweats are on for the evening. Dinner will be ready in a little while (just have to decide what to have and make it... ). And half the gear is in the car.

All racing aside. I am truly excited to start seeing my friends again. It's been a long winter. this is a great group of people whom I love to hang out with.

Time to get the game face on...