Right now, I’m in the proverbial second half of the 70.3 run, or the last 10k of the marathon – survival mode. I decided to pool my vacation days for almost a month off in December, which will be AWESOME once it gets here, but very stressful getting everything ready to go enjoy that. Light. Tunnel. Getting there. But, since I have a spare moment, I wanted to write about a few things I’ve been up to.
Hurling turkeys isn’t as bad as it seems…
Since we weren’t running a marathon like normal, we signed up to do the Thundercloud Turkey Trot downtown Austin. 25k people registered = 25k people in traffic going to exactly one spot, so we finally made good about our idea to cycle down and back. It took approximately 75 minutes to do that and I’m pretty sure it would have taken longer to drive, sit in traffic, park, and do the reverse once the race was over. And… bikes!!!
The ride was a little chilly on the way down, but with gloves, three layers on top, and leg warmers on the bottom, I survived, which is good recon for longer rides in the winter. This is new territory, folks! It was a nice, chill, mostly-downhill 8-ish miles there as a warmup, we got the benefit of bike valet which meant a bag check (when the race wasn’t offering it), and we had plenty of time to tinker around before lining up.
My goal was to race this as hard as I could, because, why not? I lined up, was feeling my music, and crossed the start ready to play parkour with a billion other people. I did that up the first (pretty much mile long) hill, and hit low 9-something once my garmin beeped the first split. I felt kind of terrible but in that “I just ran really fast up a hill” way, and had faith that when the course flattened out, I could catch my breath a sec and rock it out.
Once the course flattened out, instead, I got hit by the worst cramp I’ve ever had. I’m still not 100% sure if it was girlie time fun or something bad I ate fun, or just a twisted amalgamation of both fusing together to cause me agony, but it was ROUGH. I convinced myself that “fuck it, I had less than 4 miles left, race through it”, but soon after I started feeling dizzy and dizzy is not something we ignore. I pretty much stopped in the sea of people (sorry, I hate when people do that), and started shuffling.
Thankfully Zliten had caught up and found me just as I was pulling over to the side. I sat for a bit, searing pain and dizziness not letting up. I convinced myself I needed to get up and walk to the aid station, so we started… and then I had to pull over on the side of the road and be sick. This is not only the first time this has happened to me during a race… but I’ve never hurled during a workout either. But here I was, mostly collapsed on the side of the road, heaving into the grass. I pretty much thought I was going to die.
Zliten and the nice officer right there (sorry guy!) kept asking me if I wanted medical. I couldn’t envision going anywhere but that little patch of dewy grass right then, I said no and kept allowing more my breakfast to rejoin the earth. Oddly enough, after whatever needed to work itself out of my system was gone, I sat up and everything felt, like, magically better. We tried walking and it was fine. Once we were up the hill and to an aid station for some liquid, I said we should try running again.
I certainly didn’t break any records with the rest of the race, but we clipped along at a 10-something minute mile chatty pace. I felt like my brain was packed with a little cotton by the end, but I really think I just needed some calories since I was really and truly empty. One hour, four minutes, some seconds official race time – for 1 great mile, 1 terrible and terribly long mile with about a 10 minute break and some walking, and 3 joggy miles.
After the race, we hung out with our friends for a while, and then we rode bikes home (uphill) and had a wonderful turkey day with family eating all the things and playing cards. It was a total blip on the radar, about 15 minutes of sheer agony, but totally not a day-ender.
In retrospect, it’s great Ironman training. I’m sure that at some point, something will be wrong with my digestive system during that 14-17 hours. I’ve never had my stomach go THAT rogue on me before, but it’s a situation I’ll be prepared for if it happens. In general terms of discomfort, everything in that moment was terrible. I not only didn’t want to finish the race, but I wanted someone to come pick me up and carry me to a car and drive me home at that point. Then, less than 10 minutes later I was walking, and then, less than 20 minutes later, I was running comfortably. It’s about managing the dark spots to get back to the bright ones, no matter how dark they feel in the moment.
Granger Lake bike adventures…
It’s been a month since I rode anything of distance or consequence, and we got an invite to ride bikes around the Granger Lake area, so it was time to get reacquainted with evilbike and friends. Zliten, Matt, and I took off from his in-law’s house before 9am and rode into the wind which was somehow coming from every direction (as it tends to do in the Texas country). We took turns pulling and chatting and got a little lost (extra miles!) and enjoyed a morning of bikes.
It was a super pleasant ride. Once we got used to the blustery day and got a little warmed up, the layers I had on were perfect (jacket, sleeves, short sleeved jersey, bibs with leg warmers). We stopped a few times to get pictures of things and eat snacks and stash layers and stuff. We flew down the nice flat dam road at 20+ mph for fun, but that was really, by and large, the only EFFORT (captial E) we made that day.
It’s nice that 60 miles is not the edge of my fitness right now. The edge of my comfortable fitness, sure. My quads had a bit of that long ride sting. My hands were shot from chipseal. But honestly, I was more concerned for Matt being late to his Thanksgiving meal (which ended up delayed until SEVEN THIRTY, so no worries about rolling in just before 2pm) than dying to get off my bike.
I did the stupid shit I do the last quarter of small group rides where I speed up and think I’m pulling everyone but end up dropping them and having to wait because slowing down at the end of a bike ride LITERALLY MAKES ME DIE INSIDE for some reason. Joel and I raced down a 30 mph street trying to beat the speed limit around 50 miles in. I intentionally fell off the nutrition at the end so I would fade a little but with proper fueling I think I would have been up for more. I think I’m mentally and physically ready to start pushing the kind of bike mileage needed to train for the Ironman and that makes me happy.
We need a little Christmas, like right this very minute…
Normally, I’m a big fan of keeping the holidays kind of low key until real close to the day of. No Christmas shit until after Thanksgiving, and frankly, since we normally head to Florida the day after turkey day, it’s a while until we’re fully ensconced in the holidays.
This year is different. I feel like we really need it. Like *I* really need it. So, we bought wrapping paper 9 days ago and I didn’t even flinch at the massive set up at Big Lots. We set up the star showers the night before Thanksgiving. I’ve got most of my shopping done already and a lot of it wrapped. We have our lights and tree up, and it’s halfway decorated (and the iguana has already broken ornaments). We’re watching the shows we normally watch during the season. It all feels so right.
The great thing about it being the holiday season and in the 70s? Holiday light rides. We spent an hour winding down every street in the neighborhood looking at lights. We may or may not have gotten in the spirit ourselves as well (see above for the setup). I’m aware we’re ridiculous and make zero apologies and give zero fucks.
And… such is life. Back to the push of the last few
miles productive days of the race year. I know I’m going to finish survive, I just need to keep my head in the game and get there.