Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ironman Lake Placid 2010---- My Race Report from a Spectator's Seat! Part 1

The past weekend was another fun, action-packed whirlwind for my family. After moving home last week from our time at camp, I repacked the car for the annual trip to Lake Placid. This year, I was the spectator and my younger brother, Jeff Small, was the athlete. I was Psyched to watch him!!! I also had a bunch of friends competing and one of my athletes as well. A great day was in store.
This packing job took extra thought and care because we were Camping!! In a tent!! I lost my partner in crime this year ( Mary ) because two years ago our families camped out and it rained. And rained. And then, it poured. It was the "rain year" at Lake Placid and kids ended up in puddles and mothers ended up with damp pillows and mushy food. Not so good....... But! I have 3 boys and this is the perfect weekend for me to put in some good camping time to appease them.
So off we went.... I can tell you lots of stories about riding 6+ hrs with 3 boys, about setting up our campsite that was a big sand pit, the great ride around the Lake Placid course with my Maine buddies, the fun at night around the fire pit with even more Maine friends that had also converged into the Ironman town, and about visiting my little bro the day before the race... but Ironman day is long enough. So I'll just keep my report about the big day.

The wake up:
The alarm on my watch went off at 4:45. The wind was whipping outside the tent. We were scattered on the air mattresses in our sleeping bags and things were peaceful until that moment. I hoppped up, unzippppppppppped the door (it's SO long and Loud!) and snuck away down the road to the shower house to wash up a bit before getting up the family. The road was peppered with other families there with the same mission. People were stirring everywhere getting ready to head up to town. I hustled back and woke up the kids. Mark and I scrambled to find clothes and some food for the boys while we basically shoved them into the car and headed up the hill. The traffic was already thick and we just hoped we'd get there in time to park within a mile of the lake.
Mission accomplished. we pulled in behind some friends who were also camping with us. We attempted to figure out what we needed for the first few hrs while we watched the swim, and then we planned to come back for extras--the cooler of food, the chairs, the rain gear, the running/swimming clothes, and who knows what else we thought we needed for the day. We hiked through a path in the woods and crossed the street to our home base. We had a canapy tent set up on the hill at Hot Corneer so we could have a place for our bags etc and also, refuge if it rained.
While we walked there we realized our mistake...they were in the process of putting the final touches on the fences that went around the bike and run routes...once they're up- you're stuck. You cant' get through. you have to go AROUND!! Which, is not a short walk. And it's even LONGER, with all our gear. Shoot. We had to go back to the car and get more junk......

Finally.. we were settled and ready for the action. The boys were fine so far. My brother appeared and seemed pretty calm. My parents were there, my sister in law, my friends Nat and Mary-Lou, Bob, Mike, Meg, Kurt, Nate and his wife Megan, Stacy and Erin. I had many many nostalgic moments this past weekend. And watching them don their wetsuits was one of them. I remember that so well... I remember thinking, " it's here. The time has come. I need to put all doubts aside and go do my job. There's no turning back. " I truly remember the nerves and the excitement---and I watched them and got goosebumps.

The athletes walked off and we scrambled to find the ideal spot on the lake. It was Crowded!! I grabbed one of the kid's hands and wiggled my way through the crowds. I maneuvered through people and found a spot on a bit of hill with a view of the start.The kids were a little unsettled and unhappy when it started to rain...and they still hadn't had breakfast. I worked at finding patience because I really really really didn't have it in me to deal with sibling bickering or boredom or hunger. I was there to watch the Ironman! Didn't they get it! Forget about the fact that they had been up too late for two nights, slept in a tent in hot/ humid conditions and had been shuffled around doing grown up things for two days. See---they were being troupers and I knew it. They had a little meltdowns here and there but this is where the spectating challenges began. I was NOT racing..I did want the family there with me, so I had to buck up and handle it.

15 minutes to go... I watched the swimmers work their way into place. 10 minutes to go..BAM...the Pro Field was off. At that point, I began seeing the scuba divers. They were lined in front of the swimmers with their hands in the air, holding them back. And then, all together, they submerged. Then, at the exact same moment, the kayakers pulled out into the lake... the countdown began.
BANG! They were off.

The hair on my arms stood up and I had goosebumps.

It was a sign...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Massachusettes State Triathlon

Last week was a Blast for my family. As I mentioned in my last post, we moved into our camp (only our 2nd summer there as owners...but it's on an island that my husband grew up on with his family at their camp) and spent the week swimming, boating, waterskiing, tubing, toasting marshmallows over the campfire, visiting with family, building a rowboat with the kid's Grandfather, swimming, picking blueberries, swinging on a rope swing..... sounds great doens't it. It was perfect. The family settles into relaxed mode very quickly and when that happens, my 3 little muskateers seem to get along swimmingly (see a theme). We are very very lucky to have this little camp tucked away on secluded little island. Prescious memories are being made and our kids are experiencing something Mark and I were lucky to have as kids and that is very special to us.
Of course, I continued to train. This was easy because I had a race scheduled on the weekend so the load wasn't too heavy. I swam at a nearby pool on a few mornings, I had a Fun fun brick that was bike/run/bike/run (I LOVED that Jen!!!), and even a few days that were barely recognizeable as training. It was perfect for a relaxing week.
A Race?
I thought I was on vacation. Why do I have a race?
Do I really?
Oh man.... I signed up for a race during our vacation. doh.....
my bad.
I completely missed the little typed note on the monday of last week that said: "To island. Mark's vacation..."
When I registered for this race, I was in search of a beefier (is that a word?) race for the mid-summer. Maine only seems to have sprints these days and well, I like to go longer! Where are all the Olympic distance races these days?
I found one in Western Massachusettes. yup... hours and hours away from my perfect island getaway.
As the week wore on I grew less and less excited for this race. Originally, I thought a certain competitor was going to be there...and that was a huge draw for me. (she didn't go...)
When it came time for me to leave.. I was a mess. I walked in and out of my room, sat on the bed, got up, walked around--should I go? how could I leave??? It was a PERFECT Summer day on the lake. The boys had Just launched the rowboat they build over the winter with their Grandfather. A friend was having a party that night at a camp nearby. the kids were Not really into Mommy taking off...
I left. I had trained for it. I don't quit things. I signed up. I was racing. I drove away. Alone. And I cried. For a while.
If the traffic heading north (I was going south) hadn't been a virtual parking lot on the highway, I just may have turned around. Blek. No way to start a race weekend huh. Hardly HARDLY my typical pre-race energy and excitement.
My body drove down route 95 but my heart and soul were still back on Lindsay Island.
It was an unsettling feeling. So I decided to Buck up and make the trip Worth it!!
I got my race packet at the site. Often, that is a bit of a social event! But not this time. I barely even spoke. I just got my stuff and hopped back in the car and off to find the hotel. It was so strange....the whole day was just odd. I never travel alone like that...I didn't like it.
The hotel was nice and I just settled in and got ready. I had a HOT shower which I admit, was nice after living without power and well, a shower all week. (don't worry..we had the lake and I went to the pool to swim so I did shower there..but still..)
next thing I knew, the alarm was buzzing and I was off. I clicked into pre-race auto pilat and headed to the car. I had a job to do. The faster I did it, the sooner I could get back to my little piece of heaven with my family.

There was one little ray of sunshine that morning I must say! And it didnt' last nearly long enough. My friend from blogging and facebook, Michelle Sewell Spina was there! She and her friend recognized me and next thing I knew I heard, "Ange!" How cool is that?? It made my day. Later, on the run, she even recognized me despite the hat, sweat, suffering look on my face and yelled Hi again! Thanks Michelle!!! You made my day! (we didn't get to chat nearly long enough...we'll do better next time!)

Finally..it was time to swim. I was in the elite group (there were only Two of us!) and our wave also had the 20 and under kids, the 30-34 and..not sure who else.
We lined up in the water between two buoys. I was highly irritated because a group of 4-5 women kept going further and further Past the line of the buoys. come on! Just start where we're supposed to start... play fair people.
Off we went. Three or four of us swam in a clump for most of the swim. It was a no-wetsuit swim again so that was a treat. The water was shallow and very warm..I even grabbed lake slime with my hand at one point... ick. We passed through the wave ahead and moved around the course. I even had fun practicing drafting. The swim was decent. I could tell one girl had pulled away and then there were 3 of us that climbed out together.
When I headed out on the bike I knew swimmer #1 was in front, then the next girl (she was 20... I saw her leg) got out of T1 just ahead of me... and then me.
Off I went.
That was the Last I saw of any women on that course. Actually, I saw women but the sprint distance had started in front of us so they were from that race.
The course was a Lot hillier than I had been told. The first few miles were a long gradual climb. The middle miles were a steep climb. And then, a decent with some flat for a little bit. Unfortunately, the road was very chopped up on that part so achieving good speed was very difficult. It was a two loop course...
I found myself quite bored on the bike. I must say that I have NEVER seen so so many people WAlKING their bikes!??? That was strange... I tried to encourage people who were still pedaling and moving, "Good job! go for it!" I would say. And I think maybe 1 person responded to me.. I didn't like that.
I was off the bike and out on the run. It was Hot!!!
But I felt pretty good. I loved that the course went through a nicely wooded road. It was an out and back... I just pushed and pushed. I found my zone and held on.
At mile 2+ I caught a guy and we latched on to each other. our pace was identical. He told a guy coming in the other direction, "don't let me catch you!" He then told me it was his big brother... ha! I can see that scenerio happening later on in My house! (for the record, we Did catch him. poor big bro...oops..)
As I closed in on the turn around (mile 2.7) I saw the #1 girl heading back. Ok..she's got .4 on me. I saw the #2 girl just ahead. I could tell I was running faster. But now that she saw me, would she find another gear? I saw #4 girl behind me.. not too far.
Game on.
The guy with me kept tabs on them for me. I NEVER turn around.. I just go for the gold. I passed #2 girl at mile 4. I cruised right by her and I knew I was safe.
My pace seemed decent but I knew it was slow b/c of the heat.
Despite the fact that nobody was there screaming my name or ready to hug me at the finish, I found my racing zone. I can find it on the run no matter what. In my head, I had the little high 5s from my boys and friends all around me. I just imagined their support. It worked. all my best buddies had sent me voicemails, texts, and emails the night before and the morning of and that was so wonderful. They were ther with me in spirit.
I crossed the line and knew I had secured 2nd. I felt great about this. I chatted with a few guys that I had been running with and that was fun. I love the post-race chatter. I watched the 3rd and 4th place women battle HARD for their spots. It was a great finish. I congratulated them. The winner was no where to be seen. After a few more minutes of catching my breath and small talk..I headed to Transition, collected my stuff, changed clothes behind the car door, and headed to Maine.
24 hrs later, almost to the minute, I was back on the boat with my family.
The boys were proud of their Mom but happier that I was home. And that felt good.
I know one thing for sure. I LOVE to race and compete.. but what makes it special at this age and point of my life is that I can share it with the friends and family I love. Next time..I'll bring a friend! :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Norway Triathlon

I raced last Saturday on our hometown course. Later that day we packed up our house, searched high and low for our two kitties, and moved into our camp for the week. I've been on vacation at "the Island" this week and it's been heaven. Real life just slips away when we're out here. Our camp is on a small island in the basin of Sebago Lake. We get here by boat...we are truly secluded until we make an effort to be otherwise. I've headed to the mainland each day for my workouts...and those have gone well. I have been focused with each one and also on a mission to Get Back! Today, I left camp for a little (albeit NOT easy) 5 mile run. I found myself truly irrated with the real life activity that was all around me. Traffic, stop lights, trucks, fast food restaurants, and EEK...the grocery store! I was forced to drive there and pick up a few items and I must tell you, I believe it was my fastest trip of all time. (and I can be fast at the store..believe me...)
Thankfully, I landed back on the island with many hours of fun left. I was back in my bikini and on the beach within 10 minutes. I watched the boys and their cousin make sand castles, play on the rope swing, and have football throwing contests. We chatted with 2 little boys (maybe 7 and 9?) driving their own little boat around the island on a hunt for turtles. After a few hours we moved back to the dock for water skiing. After only ONE try each, ALL three kids were up and skiing around the lake. My 8 year old was first. (he has skied before) Next up, the 10 year old and thank GOODNESSS he was able to get up too. He looked like a pro out there. Totally comfortable and even waving as he flew by us. After that, Nick. He's 6. One try. Bam. UP and skiing just like his brothers. It's the "No brother left behind act" here at camp. Later, we grilled, we made smores around the campfire, and then one last skinny dip before bed.
Good stuff.
Oh yeah...I raced. See! I forgot...I have been preoccupied with fun at the lake all week and totally forgot about my blog. I also must add that it's pretty cool that I can even get online here now. The other island secret is that there's NO electricity. It's just a little island after all. We have gas lights, gas powered fridge and water and candles. But! My awesome friend and IT guy hooked me up with a cool little adapter that allows me to use the computer. So the generator is on so I can get this blog up and chat with a few friends.

One of my best buds from childhood, Alina, came last Fri night to stay with me and get ready for her annual Tri in Norway Maine. Alina is a serious Rockstar swimmer but she only does one Tri/year. So far, it's the one in my little town. It made the day really fun. I was so fired up to swim with her.
We got our bikes and gear set and hit the sack early for our pre race sleep.
Here's how close I was to home...I Biked to the race for my warm up! It took about 20 minutes...perfect.
Mark was even racing too. We saw a lot of friends from our town...it was a treat to race with people I rarely see at these events. My Mom and Dad came, Mark's parents came with my kids, and Mary even came with her kids and Alina's! It was very cool.
Ok...to the swim. THe water was like a bath so wetsuits were banned. Yay!!! I was pretty fired up for the swim because I really hoped to stay with Alina. She's super fast but swimming next to her reminds me of our years growing up on swim teams together. We can swim stroke for stroke pretty well when we meet at the lake so I was hopeful.
We were in wave 2...off we went. I did what Jen teaches us to do and Took Off... of course, with Alina. We cruised along towards buoy #1. I felt awesome. I felt like a real swimmer again with my arms free and was really able to dig into the water. I saw Alina sight and take a sharp right..we were off course so I followed her. We rounded the buoy and began passing the first wave. I felt so strong so I jsut went for it. I lost sight of Alina but knew she was right there. I loved the swim and just felt like I could go forever. I saw the crowd on the beach and knew I had passed almost all the people ahead of us. It was a cool feeling...
out of the water and off on the long run through the woods to T1. 1st in water...11 minutes.
Off on the bike...I ride these roads All the time. I just hammered along and loved being at home. It was 11.3 miles on an out and back. I was passed by 1 fast guy. I tried to keep him in sight but he was flying.
I headed for home and saw Mark flying towards the turn. Fun to see him out there.
Into T2 and I started messing with my shoes. I heard a familar voice and looked up to see Mary. (hadn't seen her yet that day. ) HI!! I wanted to stop and chat. But alas, it was t2 and I had one more leg to complete. I headed off on the 5k and felt strong. This course is not that easy...the run is basically UP for the first half and then a lot of it is down and somewhat flat to finish it up. I was passed by 2 men I believe..I almost caught back up to on of them but lost him towards the end.
I finished as 1st woman and 4th overall. Mark was 2nd in his Age group and 9th overall. I think Alina was 8th in our age group and she looked Strong finsihing hte race!!!
It was a blast.

I am trying to shift gears now into race mode again. Vacation has turned me into an unfocused lazy girl but I have a big race on Sunday... more to come on that.

Happy Summer!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


My 6 y.o. announced to me yesterday, "Fourth of July came fast this year." So true Nick. The boys have been out of school since June 11th and summer felt miles long. It's already July 5th and our list of "fun things to do this summer" is still growing.
Last time I wrote was Father's Day!! We've had so much fun since that weekend so I've been negligent with my blog.

There's been multiple trips to our camp on the lake, golf days with the kid's Grandparents, a couple days soaking in the ocean air, some track meets and....well I guess that's about it but all that has filled our time!

During those past few weeks, not only have I continued with my training, but I watched my friend and business parnter Mary race Ironman Couer D'Alene. She was amazing. She executed the race beautifully and really nailed the day. I was inspired. And motivated. And, it re-ignited a passion I have for the 140.6 distance. Oh oh. That wasn't in the plan. At least not quite yet.
I need to do some more soul searching before I make any decisions. I was given some good advice from Jen on thinking it through. I had hoped to have some quality-peaceful time to think this past weekend but it didn't work out that way. Hopefully I can figure out if that is really what I should do next year or not. I am enjoying fewer training hours (read: no 100 mile bike rides) this season but honestly, I feel a little lost. I don't feel particularly driven to one big thing and that is making it hard for me...
I have thinking to do.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my fun win at the Pirate Tri. I may have mentioned that I passed a good friend of mine, Steve, at the end of the race. While this may have been ok a few years ago, it isn't anymore. Steve is faster than I am, hands down. So while I smiled to myself at that moment, I knew something wasn't right with him that day. That's an understatement. Over the past few weeks both Steve (www.mainesport.blogspot.com) and Marit ( www.marit-chislock-lauterbach.blogspot.com) were hospitalized with pulmonary embolisms. Their stories are a bit different but the end is the same. The are OK and they are Lucky!!! I have been worried for both of them and quite shocked that such a thing could happen to young healthy athletes. At the end of Steve's last post, he wrote a quote that he hears on a daily basis from someone who lost his family in the 9/11 attacks. It reminded us to never pass up an opportunity to hug someone you love. I have remembered this daily since reading it. Marit and Steve--So glad you're both ok!!

And Finally-- I RACED! I ran the LLBean Fourth of July 10K.
One word to describe that race: Ouch!
10Ks are Hard!!!
We were staying at my parent's cottage for the weekend which is in the same town as a race. What a treat! NO drive to a race! This is unheard of for this girl from the middle-of-nowhere Western Maine!
so I got up, ate, drove 5 min and parked. Shoes on, visor on, gel in pocket...um....there must be more. Nope! It's so easy to just RUN! Far far too much gear in triathlon.
I warmed up a bit and then found my buddy Mike. I found my Dad who is my faithful sherpa. I saw a few other Tri friends and then made my way to the start.
I was nervous but mostly because it had been several years since I ran a Flat 10K. I knew I wanted to just Go after it the whole way...and that was about the extent to my plan.
Perhaps I should have thought it through a bit more...
It was a very warm morning with high humidity. I'll just leave it at that. Most of the East is in a heat wave and Maine is no exception. It was the type of day that you are instantly swaeaty and sticky just from your warm up.
Mile 1 was fast. It always is at this race because it goes Down a Lot! 6:10. I did try to hold back a tad, I promise. I really did try.
Mile 2 is UP. 6:36 I was fine.
Except, when barefoot man passed me. This guy was wearing what looked like an american flag bathing suit (just had that look), a big long gray cotton Tshirt, a camo hat backwards, and as I said, he was barefoot. And he ran by me. I hope I passed him later.
Mile 3 doing fine. panting like a dog. Trying to keep my cadence up. We wind through a little neighborhood with a dirt path that has big huge rocks on it. They feel huge when you step on them wrong...wonder how barefoot guy liked that!
mile 4 PAIN!! I have never liked mile 4. You are smack dab in the middle. you're so tired and yet you have so far to go. I can't remember my split. I have it somewhere. It was slower, let's just say that. Another hill on this mile. It's kind of a hilly course...not obnoxious hills but enough to throw you off and slow you down a bit. Someone yelled to me, "5th woman!" oh...that's good! I was happy with this.
I had been watching a few women in front of me but mostly I was surrounded by men. There was one super fit woman running 10 steps ahead of me for miles 1-3. She looked like a Real runner. She's the type of woman I can sort of accept beating me..but Ha! I got her. I passed her some time after mile 3 and never saw her again. So even though I was crumbling, I was still having some fun and maintaining my competitive spirit.
Hoever, I was also fighting the mental demons during these few miles. Slow DOWN...NO! You love pain! YOU Can embrace it! Savor it! Just keep moving. You're almost done! But it's ok...just slow down a little and then run faster at the end. NO--KEEP GOING!
mile 5 7:06 the only mile over 7:00...We make the turn onto the final road which helps mentally. I saw my friend Tim cheering. It was a nice surprise to have a word of encouragement at that point. Even if I couldn't respond. I was cross eyed and foaming at the mouth. Ever feel like that? I couldn't begin to take water because my throat wasn't functioning. I couldn't breath calmly enough to actually swallow water.
There's a long gradual hill coming through mile 5 into the final mile. At this point, I am chopping the course ahead into pieces. Run to the fence. Run to the Fire station. Run to the sign.
And finally, the stretch to the finish. The crowd lined the streets and it was like a rope was tied around my waist pulling me over the line.
I grabbed a post to help me stand up after crossing. OUch. That's it. that race HURT!
42:25. 2nd age group, 6th overall woman (Joan Benoit Samuelson was 1st) 77th overall > 1200 runners
It wasn't a PR but I guess that's ok. The heat was an issue and well, I tried. I will approach my 10K in August a little differently and insist on a PR from myself that day.

Happy 4th everyone! Today, we're supposed to see high 90s with heat indexes in the 100s. It's hot Even in Maine!
And you know, as miserable as it can feel, at least we are having a Real Summer this year!!!

(blogger continues to refuse my photos...anyone have any ideas?)