Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: August 2018 (Page 1 of 2)

Week 5, 6, and 7 – Woahhhh, halfway there…

Woaaaaah, livin’ on a prayer… take my hand and we’ll make it I swearrrrr…

Trying out all the Roka things.  Do these goggles make my eyes look fat?  And of course a little Wattage Cottage in there because, well, duh.

Yes, I’m going a little nuts.  We’ve just passed the halfway mark in the training plan.  In seven weeks I’ve taken myself from a very sprint focused triathlete to getting some endurance legs without losing much speed.  We’re not there yet, but I feel like if the race was tomorrow I would SURVIVE it.  Barely.  Thankfully, I’ve got two more “blocks” left before the first race and I think I’ve allotted just about the perfect amount of time to build for this race.  Much longer and I’d get burned out and bored.  Less, and I’d be “cramming” endurance.  I’ve done a successful 8 week build to a 70.3 but it is definitely a quick ramp up and a lot of tired and sore and I’ve done 16 weeks successfully but it was after a long offseason.

Week 5 was not supposed to be *quite* as taper-y as it ended up being, but I’m actually glad it went down the way it did.  I only got in a short swim and bike (Tuesday and Wednesday) before heading to Cleveland, but considering how rough I felt after the trip, I’m glad it took it slow the week before.

All the funny faces.

Week 6 was kind of a strategic retreat.  I figured I’d be a little pooped from two hard efforts back to back, and I’m actually pretty proud of how NOT flattened I was from the racing itself.  What took a toll on my was the sheer time on my feet the whole weekend and lack of rest/recovery.  I had almost 20k steps on Friday with no workouts, and Saturday and Sunday I had over 30k both days, when the racing only accounted for about 12k and 6k steps.  All told, I had almost 100k steps during that long weekend trip (92,062 steps per my Garmin from Friday – Monday).  That’s approximately 50 miles, friends!

Also,  I slept about 4-5 hours both Friday and Saturday nights (thanks wedding DJs!).  Due to late flights and changing time zones, I didn’t have super restful or normal sleep Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night either. In terms of recovery, I didn’t have my normal recovery tools while away, just a dinky travel foam roller.  I survived it, but I was BEAT afterwards.

I made it to my swim that Tuesday, but my heart wasn’t in it.  I dragged myself out for a 6-10 mile run on that Thursday morning and the answer was SIX ABSOLUTELY THE MINIMUM NOT A FOOT MORE and that was even pushing it, and I skipped all sorts of sessions I had penciled in in favor of sleeping in and maybe drinking a little more vodka than I should have some days.  My head, heart, lungs, and legs were all in agreement that I needed a rest week even if the previous week was kind of a rest week too in terms of training hours.

Note to self: Lost Creek after 35 miles of OTHER hills is not advised.  At least on this bike.  Probably on any bike, though.

I did rally for the Wattage Cottage hill challenge that Saturday.  This ride was a brutal 3200 feet of climbing in 40 miles.  I brought my tri bike in hopes of keeping up with the 16-18mph pace (which is easily within my grasp on a ride like Shoal Creek/Veloway/Parmer/etc).  However, the gearing on it is not exactly conducive to things that go up and up and up.  I only held 13.6 mph, and that’s not counting a few stops (and more than a few contemplations on just calling an Uber and forgetting about this whole nonsense).  I finally tackled Lost Creek, which is kind of a big deal around here, and while I’m a little ashamed to say I had to get off and walk one of the hills, it was in the last few miles of the ride.  On completely shredded legs just after I’d powered up the previous killer hill and the 20 million before that.  One day I’ll have my revenge!

Proof I’m not being unreasonably whiny.  This ride almost exactly 2 years ago involved cycling up a freaking mountain in Grand Junction.

This was this weekend.  Similar ride distance, no mountains, but yet still more elevation.

It was an amazing, terrible, wonderful, challenging, and terrifying ride.  Thanks to Wattage Cottage enough for setting it up, and Roka, Floyds of Leadville, Foil Wheels, for providing prizes, and Cryofit for supplying the meet up place.  I feel like I’m a better cyclist and much more comfortable on my TT bike after the last two weekends of riding it in towns.

After the ride, I was smashed.  I ate two whole PBJ sandwiches and drank two bottles of water in about 5 minutes.  We had planned to change and run 3 miles around the area, but the idea of more hills and no shade in that heat just made both of us feel like crying.  However, we are triathletes.  We went from bagging the run, then on the drive home, we decided we could do a mile.  Just twice around the block.  Then, I talked myself into the whole run, but whatever pace.  Slow was fine if I had to.

Then I ran 9:30/mile pace for 3 miles in feels like 103 degrees because either I’m a badass or I really just wanted to be done for the day.  Maybe a little of both.

Week 7 marked the kickoff of the last 3 week block of training before taper.  This is the last push, folks.  I can do it!

When you can’t handle ONE MORE 5:30am alarm you instead start your long brick workout at 7pm Friday after work and finish up around 11:45.

Things I nailed:

  • 11 mile run at 10:42/mile pace, sans music.  While the last two miles started to be a little tough, I was still able to speed up at the end and not fade.  And I’m happy to report that with liberal use of foot powder multiple times, I had ZERO blisters.  Obviously can’t do that during the race, but at that point it won’t matter too much.
  • 2 brick runs off the bike that were in the 9 min/mile pace range.
  • Finally, a more-than-race-distance open water swim!  With my new Roka kit and swim skin and goggles even!  New stuff makes swims better…
  • A three hour trainer ride keeping myself in a power range I decided on beforehand – 150W average.  Though my power meter died 40 minute before the end, my speed held constant without any resistance changes, so I’m confident I did it even though Strava doesn’t say so.  Even if it was THE HARDEST RIDE I’VE EVER DONE OMG I hate the trainer *grumble grumble*.
  • Hitting the other sessions I had planned – one weights session, one pool swim, and an hour easy ride.

Things I did not nail:

  • My brick ride the day after that long run was reallllly sluggish and I could only hold 142W power average which is worse than my 3 hour ride and should not have been.
  • I skipped one weights session because work was crappy, I had a ton of errands, and honestly, a glass of whiskey was higher on my priorities than hitting the gym. 
  • I did not stretch or use the foam roller enough.  I’m very tight today.

All in all, successful week.  Two more like it please!

I had a note on the last two weeks of this block to take stock and decide whether I felt like I needed more speed or endurance.  Normally, around this point, I’m slow as molasses but feel like the distances are no problem.  This year has been all about speed, so I’m in the opposite boat.  I’m actually quite speedy right now (for me), but I definitely feel like I can use some endurance practice. 

Doing a double digit run a few more times at race pace is going to do me more good than hitting shorter speedwork (which I’m kind of doing on my brick runs anyway).  I’ve now done 50 miles once on the bike (and multiple rides in that same 3 hour range that were slower but harder than the race will be), but I’d like to hit 56 at least once or twice more.  Ditto for the swim.  I swam longer than the race distance yesterday, but it was slow.  I’d like to come in closer to 40 minutes than the almost 50 it would have taken me at that cruising pace.

Sometimes #sockdoping is the only thing that helps you make it through.

I’m not going to deviate ALL my training to long and slow(er), but my Tuesday long run and Saturday long bricks will stay long, and I will have to actually do my long swims even if they’re inconvenient, instead of deciding that it’s easier to just swim 1000m over lunch in the pool and calling that good enough.  This week looks like this:

  • Monday: lunch weights, easy ride PM
  • Tuesday: 12 mile run AM (10:30-11 min/mile pace)
  • Wednesday: brick AM, race distance swim lunch or PM
  • Thursday: off
  • Friday: weights AM, swim lunch (or vice versa)
  • Saturday: 56 mile bike, 2 mile run.
  • Sunday: off

My non-training goal is to stretch and roll at least five times this week.  One down this morning, four to go.

One more week after this one and then it’s time to taper!

As for nutrition, I feel as if this is probably my most successful build in terms of eating mostly not junk food and also actually still making some weight loss progress.  Baby steps, but still in the right direction.

Although, it’s frustrating to be slated to be losing so slow, I’d rather lose 2 lbs per month than maintain or gain.

And, let’s face it, I’m not being perfect, not in the slightest.  I ate with reckless abandon in Cleveland.  I couldn’t stop eating the whole day after the Hill Challenge to the point where I even surprised myself on my food consumption and had no idea how to track it after the fact because I couldn’t remember everything I ate, let alone the quantity.  Let’s face it, while I am eating good food and tracking *most* of the time, I’m not as religious about it as I was in say, April, so I can’t expect those kind of results.

Some of the wonderful and terrible things I put in my mouth in Cleveland.

It’s not really worth it to go back and assess diet quality or calories because I’ve got so much missing data, but it’s encouraging to see the line still going down.  I’m real real real real close to start seeing 169.something.  Even if it’s slow, I’ll keep hanging on to live in the world where that happens.

My head is starting to shift a little.  I am starting to transform from pudgy me to athlete me in my brain.  I’m starting to mentally grow into the current size I am now and it’s pretty nice to have my self-image catch up with the positive changes my body has made.

So, this is life right now.  Work.  Training. Trying not to eat like an asshole.  Showing up for the important stuff for family and friends.  That’s about all that’s above the suck line right now.  During heavy training, and frankly, during HOT training, I feel so zapped after it’s hard for me to rebound and become a person.  As weird as it sounds, my version of self care is sitting on the couch watching Star Trek or reading about sports psychology and drinking whiskey without having to talk to another gorram human for hours.  Quiet, relaxation, silence.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be more of a human person in the coming months, but I need to be a little introverted right now to get through the rest of my training with my sanity intact. 

The gorgeous Hyatt Regency at the Arcade where we stayed.  Half my pictures are just of the hotel…

The one thing I can report is that I have edited all my photos!  Krause is HERE, my (much smaller) Cleveland set is HERE.  While I hope to chip away at getting the best ones up to my iStock, Adobe, and Shutterstock sites, it’s nice to know that I won’t have any more editing to do until I get back from Cozumel.  I also sold one more photo, the same one (the crab) on the same service (Adobe).  I thought that was a little bizarre until I went searching for it myself and it’s the second photo that comes up when you search “crab underwater” so I got the keywords right on that one at least!

12 days until I’m officially in taper.  Approximately 15 more workouts.  A few hundred more miles.  Only about 4 more pre-sunrise wakeups.  I can do this! 

Krause Springs Pt 2 – Bikes and Hikes and Hammocks

When last we left off, I was heading to bed early (ish) Thursday night because Friday we had another sort of adventure planned…

This year, instead of our mountain bikes and riding a few miles around the property, we brought our road bikes.  Matt was also on vacation fairly close to us, so we met up to go play bikes.  The weather was supposed to be rainy until 10am, so we planned that as our meetup time, but the sky held out on us so it was just humid and gross and sticky.  At present time, that kind of weather is no big deal, frankly, I’ve not only ridden but ran 10k in worse conditions a few weeks ago, but at that point I hadn’t acclimated yet and was WHINY AS HECK. 

I also started with not very cold water and no ice in my bottles, and one had watered down crystal light ice tea.  This is not the recipe for success.  I had to pull over a few times to cool down when my heart rate spiked.  We tried to get water on the way back at a trailer park but no one was around to let us use their spout, so we rode back to town on fumes and I went immediately to the cold pool.  In my kit.

While at least half of it was a miserable ride, the views were worth the suffering. 

Again, it’s funny how your perspective changes halfway into triathlon season.  Now, this ride wouldn’t have been a big deal.  Seven weeks ago, two hours on my bike in the heat tuckered me out!  Acclimation is real, y’all.  The rest of the day was for eating and reading and some dips in the pool and a side order of napping.  It didn’t suck.

I got up for a few minutes to take pictures of the sunset and then went right back to being a sloth.  It was lovely.

My only goal for the day was to play with the fireworks setting on my camera while burning some sparklers.  It was a super productive evening!

On Saturday, I did have a major thing on my To Do list I needed to check off – take pictures of the falls area.  It was one of my favorite places to take pictures last year, and that was just with my crappy phone camera. 

However, the weather had other plans for the first part of the day.  After a lunch of chicken, sausage, onions, and peppers, we had barely made it out of the pop up to hike down to the lake with our cameras when the storm started to blow in.  It did make some really neat pictures, though.  Maybe not the best quality, most ended up super blown out and I had to massively level and color correct them, but I think they convey how SURREAL it looked out there.

Later in the afternoon, we finally got our window and we hightailed it down to the falls area. 

The fifth picture in the set will be my new age meditation album cover when I get around to recording it, hah.  The seventh picture in the set is one of my favorite pictures I’ve shot ever of all time.  It looks like fairyland.  I was a little grumpy about the lack of sunlight, but I’m pretty sure they turned out alright.  I think a grey day is kind of a rarity mid-July and I’ll certainly be able to get sunny sunlight pictures next year when we come back (because, yeah, that’s happening).

I’ve never seen the falls and the springs area so empty on a weekend!  I know it was raining, but we don’t melt, people!  I know I don’t, so I enjoyed the extra elbow room.  I tried to not be super pathetic and sad that we were leaving the next day, but it was hard because it was the truth.  I consoled myself with the last of the hot dogs and pasta salad for dinner and stayed up way too late not wanting vacation to end.

While I could have probably used more sleep Sunday morning, I got up around 9am so I could do a bunch of “one last things”.

I took one last read and nap in the hammock (and a few pictures of the view as well).  I took one last dip in the pool.  We made one last batch of bean and cheese breakfast tacos.  I saw one last froggie.  And then, we put turtle home away and drove our hippie selves back home for one of the most satisfying showers in the history of the universe.

If six nights wasn’t enough last year, five nights was DEFINITELY not enough this year.  Obviously, it’s too early to really completely solidify next year’s plans, but I think I’d really like to camp the whole week.  I didn’t get a chance to break open the paints, and we didn’t touch any games we brought, I could have ridden bikes more, and even without all that, I could have just read, relaxed, and taken dips in the pool for another few days, happily. 

Even though it’s just seven weeks removed, this trip feels like a lifetime ago.  My day to day has gotten so hectic, which is absolutely normal for this time of year, but still, it’s a stark contrast to the peace, the easy days, the silence.  I can’t imagine having so little to fill my time, so little to do, but not being bored in the slightest.  I’m looking forward to remembering it all over again next year.

You can see my full gallery HERE.

Cleveland National Championships Race #2

After what I had just done, and what I was to do the next day, I knew I needed some massive food.  My goal was to redo my pre-race meal plan with a turkey sandwich for lunch, and considering I was already in the hole, it needed to be epic.  The Butcher and the Brewer did not disappoint.  It is one, if not THE best sandwich I’ve ever eaten (top left corner).

After lunch, I finally got cleaned up with the most painful bath/shower.  Humidity + my gear not really fitting right because of weight loss = SO MUCH CHAFING.  Ow.  Then, we had a glorious little nap before we had to wake up and do the whole commute to the race thing all over again.

Zliten rode the tri bike, I rode a bike share bike, and he dropped off his steed.  I then rode my ride share bike up to the closest place I could rack it (1 mile away) while he walked there, and then we walked a mile to where there were two bike share bikes, and rode those the two miles back to the hotel.  I had 33k steps that day, and the entirety of my running race was approximately 12k.  It was not exactly super restful!  Good thing I walk A LOT.

We had 15% off at the hotel restaurant, and it sounded like the easy option, so we dined there.  It was actually really, really great and stood on it’s own even without the convenience sake!  We started with salads, and they had super yummy homemade dressings, and then a chicken, mashed potato, asparagus main course with this delicious dijon sauce.  We split some blackberry wine sorbet for dessert that was drool-worthy as well!  It’s actually kind of fun to eat back all those calories versus indulging in post race beers… though I probably won’t make a habit of it.  I really like post race drinks!

I slept a little better that night, even though I think the next night’s wedding DJ was EVEN LOUDER, but still I woke up dragging ass.  I figured it was due to racing the day before, two bad nights of sleep, so I just did all the things I did the day before as if by rote.  The shuttle was just as convenient and we got set up and started to walk down to the water, and then an announcement came through about 10 minutes before the first wave started: the swim had been cancelled due to unsafe currents.

Well, considering my experience the day before was considered SAFE, I was JUST FINE with them cancelling the swim.  However, they decided to make the format a run-bike-run situation, and if there’s something I don’t like lately, it’s running fast (or at all, really) without a bike ride first.  I was happy that today was simply for funsies, and I stayed loose while lining up with my wave of ladies.  We were sent off in groups of 4 per “karate chop”, as they called it.

Just hangin’ out with the leg lamp.  As you do.

Run #1:

I poisitoned myself in the back for various reasons, and it went exactly how I expected it to go… everyone ran out at “sprint to the finish” pace because everyone else next to them was doing the same thing, leaving me in the dust going about 8:45-9 minute miles (which was probably too fast for me anyway, but still felt like I was running through sand compared to everyone else). Then, we hit the first big hill and I passed a bunch of people who did not expect to go up quite so quickly.  I started feeling awful but I figured it was just sprinting upwards faster than I should have and I just tried to run through the terribleness.

But the terribleness didn’t go away like normal.  On that stupid hill of the first run of a sprint duathlon, I got lady cramps that went from zero to 11 in about 2 minutes.  Looking back, Zliten said it makes sense because I was really out of it that morning, but I just figured travel, lack of sleep/rest, and racing two days in a row.  I tried to keep under 10 minute miles, then just tried to keep running, then found a bathroom at 1.2 miles and crashed there.  I couldn’t stop sweating and shaking and just sat hunched over trying to either cry or puke or do SOMETHING to expel the demon from my body.  I had stopped my watch at that point because I was just DONE.

My garmin says I sat there for a little over 6 minutes, but it felt like an eternity.  While I didn’t actually HURL, it was the exact same feeling and situation as this fateful turkey trot.  Just as it passed last time, after a while, I found the ability to at least stand up and take some steps forward.  I was at least going to make it back to transition on my own accord, even if just to hand in the chip.

Once I got out into the fresh air I felt a little better, and I walked a little faster.  And then I tried jogging.  Then, before I knew it, I was back at a steady, if conservative, run clip and I figured it couldn’t hurt to try to ride the 12-ish miles, even if it was slow.

Run time: 23:13.  I came into T1 last by at least 5 minutes.

Transitions:

Note: I’m actually going to skip transitions on this one since I don’t have a record and they don’t either.  My finish time includes about 6 minutes unaccounted for by run/bike/run time, and about 3 minutes each seems reasonable to me considering the size of the transition and the state I was in.

Bike:

I got out, got going, and noted that I felt OKAY, so I got a gel down (I know caffeine is a bit of a painkiller and I didn’t have anything stronger on me…) and got to working.  I had too much chafing to put my heart rate monitor on that morning, so I don’t have any of that data to work with, but I do have power and I averaged 5 more watts THIS day vs the day before (9 more normalized), so I didn’t completely soft pedal, but I would definitely say it’s one of the more conservative sprint rides I’ve done this year.

On the way out, the same headwind plagued us, but I was ready for it.  On the way to the turnaround, I started seeing ladies that looked like they might be in my age group, so at the turn around I went hunting.  I caught 7 people from my wave, 2 of them from my age group.  It was fun racing a similar bike course two days in a row!  I didn’t love some parts of the freeway we rode on, but all in all, it was a pretty great course.

Also, my husband is a rockstar ninja cyclist.  I didn’t see any of this happen, but a woman passed him very aggressively about half a mile to the finish, and then as she flew down the hill, she wrecked her bike by overcorrecting a turn.  She flew off her bike and it skidded across the road.  It actually hit Zliten in the leg and then on his bike frame but he leaned into it and stayed upright.  He actually ran over her skidding bike tire and continued on to the finish without wrecking.

My bike wasn’t so eventful, however, I didn’t have any debilitating cramps and rolled into transition like I might actually finish this race.

Bike time: 39:38 (18.8 mph)

Run #2:

I got back out on the run course and at this point, my goal is just to flipping finish.  When I started on the course the second time, the 60+ year old men were getting their “karate chops” to start the first leg of their race, and some of them just FLEW by me.  I jogged up the first hill very very conservatively and the demon cramps did not appear, so I increased my pace a little.  I worked on hunting people down but I kept the effort to something like a 10k-half marathon paced run versus what I’d normally try to run the closing 2 miles of a sprint triathlon. 

I flew down the last hill for the fourth time in 24 hours and crossed the finish line.

Run #2 time: 16:17 (9:30/mile pace)

Overall time: 1:24:59 – 70/72 AG

If I was able to match Zliten’s time of 1:11 (and we’re usually fairly even so I imagine I would have been close if not a little behind due to fatigue), I would have hit approximately mid-pack for my age group, which I would have been stoked about.  In this case, I was just extremely grateful for my patience to wait until the cramps passed, and my wisdom to not overdo it to try to make up time (or conversely, give up) and have a decent performance when I wasn’t in a bathroom, hoping to die.

After the race we hung out with friends (and I sat two chairs away from THE SISTER MADONNA BUDER at the food tent and was too out of it to realize until later), and puttered around until they let us grab our bikes.  We made the final commute back (four round trips in three days…) to the hotel, with a parade full of people riding on tri bikes.  We got cleaned up and then we spent the next day and a half playing and sightseeing and eating reprehensible bar food in Downtown Cleveland!

We actually even went INSIDE the Rock and Roll hall of fame the next day!

I had a super fun time, and glad that this was just a “for fun” race – the travel delays and the sheer amount of non-race related activity would have frustrated me otherwise, but it was a fantastic training weekend (and practice run) for Cozumel.

The same race is there again next year.  The deal is, if Zliten qualifies, we go!  I have to say I would NOT be disappointed to go back.  The cool temperatures, the fun downtown area, the neat hotel we stayed at, and the AMAZING food definitely made me indeed think, “Cleveland rocks!”.

Cleveland National Championships Race #1

After finishing all the things right on time at work, with a huge sigh of relief, we headed out to the airport to jump on a plane at 6pm to Cleveland, Ohio.

Everyone kind of gives you funny looks when you say that’s where you’re going for the weekend (usually my vacation destinations are a little more… tropical), but then when you say it’s to compete in a National Championship race, they nod and say “good luck”.  I wasn’t expecting much out of Cleveland, but I was pleasantly surprised!

Our flight got in late, around 1am, and that meant we were settling into our room around 2.  Not ideal, but it was much better to get the travel day done with and wake up in the city ready to do all the things vs try to fly in the next morning.  We slept until 11am, and then unpacked and put our bikes together.  Zliten did an amazing job doing it rather quickly, and then we attempted to hightail it down for the official pre-race swim practice that ended at 1.  We left the hotel at 12:30, it was supposedly a 20 minute bike, what could go wrong?

Well, we got HORRIBLY lost, had to backtrack a bunch, and then ran into construction on the bike path.  It took us 45 minutes to go the 4 miles to the race, and we OBVIOUSLY missed the swim, so we just splashed around in Lake Erie for a few and then headed to packet pickup.  After that, we dropped Death Star off for her weekend at sleepaway camp, and split a burger for lunch from a food truck on site because we were DYYYYING by that point and just needed something… anything.  We made the journey back to the hotel, which involved walking about 2 miles and then picking up a bikeshare and riding that 2 miles back with my husband on his tri bike (since he couldn’t drop it off until the next day).  It was suuuuuper fun hauling ass and huffing and puffing my way up the bridge while my husband was taunting me about averaging 17 watts.

By that point we were back on the verge of hangry, and after perusing the area, settled on an Irish Pub for pre-race food.  I had a salad, and then this amazingly decadent meatloaf filled with bacon and gouda.  I would have felt guilty about eating the entire enormous brick of it, but I knew what I had done today and what I was about to go do tomorrow, and did not feel bad in the slightest.  We stopped by Heiman’s, a pretty fancy grocery store, and got some breakfast for the morning and snacks and random essentials, and then headed back to the room to prep all the things and relax.

Then the wedding DJ started in.  Our room opened to this beautiful arcade, which was awesome.  However, they host events there every weekend.  The rooms were these old converted offices from the old Arcade, so they were super substantial, but even through two heavy doors, I could hear the *thump thump* of the wedding DJ until 11pm when it ended.  I did not sleep well the night before the race, for various reasons, and that being one.

4:30am came super early, but I’ve got this pre-race thing down to a science, and this morning was no different.  Caff beans. Tea. Sunbutter honey english muffin.  Bathroom and contacts.  Quick appointment with the foam roller.  One more bathroom.  Kit up and go.  The shuttle situation was REALLY convenient, it took about 20 minutes from hotel to race site, and I was in transition setting up before I knew it. 

I had decided to do a really dumb thing and wear my new kit (just took the tags off) on race day since it was rushed to me.  Do as I say, not as I do… but honestly, I justified it because this race was for funsies and I just wanted to wear my new and shiny, damn the conseqences.  I got nervous about it while I was lying awake in bed the night before and I packed a backup kit just in case. 

Well, I’m super glad I did, because as I zipped it back up after using the porta potty, the zipper failed in the same spot it did on the last one.  I was SUPER frustrated, and I chided myself for being too effing fat for the kit (which, I’m not… my measurements put me one size DOWN).  This started a cascade of all the negative bullshit in my head.  My specially cultivated calm, confident, and slightly egotistical race day persona went right the hell out the window to “what the hell are you doing here, fatty mc fatterson?”.

I changed and tried to clear my head and headed down to the race start about a 10 minute walk away.  However, my head was too clear, and I left my swim cap, goggles, and earplugs in my morning bag, which I had in the bag I had checked.  We walked alllll the way there and back, and I had to run to join my wave and missed the warmup swim.  Oh well, it was consistent with the shit show the morning had become.  Oddly enough, I traded stories about popped zippers with the girl next to me (her wetsuit, my kit, I hoped it made her feel better), and then it was 3, 2, 1… GO TIME!

Hey, look at me, almost the only idiot in Lake Erie without a wetsuit! 😛

Swim:

Lake. Erie.  All the fun of an ocean swim without the salt water.  It had looked deceptively calm in the early morning, but as we headed out, the waves and current picked up.  I cursed myself for not bringing my wetsuit.  It took up a bunch of room in my suitcase, last water temperature reported before I left was NOT legal, and I rarely use it, so I just left it home,  However, some extra buoyancy would have been REALLY REALLY nice in the chop.  I swallowed a crap ton of lake, once even choking on it to the point of ALMOST hurling in the water.  I took a few seconds to breast stroke while I hacked and coughed and then got going again, albiet slower as I continued to try not to yak.

Then we hit the turn buoy and I was fairly impressed with my time at the moment, thinking I was swimming against the current and would have an easier time from then on.  I turned and found that was not the case.  The next 12 minutes felt like the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the knights run at the castle and it never gets any closer.  The chop often was above the buoy when I’d try to sight.  I almost ran into some boats and had to stop and ask which way to go (I wasn’t far off course, thankfully they were just very tight in directing us).   The swim back was a little faster but I was TIRED from fighting that current and by the time I got to shore I was very frustrated with the swim in general and especially the time it took.

Swim time: 44:06.  My garmin registered 2052 yards which means it was about 400m long.  Some of this might be sighting but I’m confident most of it was not, I stayed on the right path fairly well.  Still, I’d be at least mildly disappointed by this time for a 70.3 swim (which was actually only about three pool lengths longer than this…), so I’ve gotta hope Cozumel is a little less rough.  Or I’m a little better.  Or both.

T1:

I had been thinking “say something nice to Zliten, say something nice to Zliten” the whole way in, and what came out of my mouth was something like “don’t let me fucking forget my wetsuit ever again, that was bullshit”.  Oops.  Transition was a long run but it gave me time to check my head and realize I was about to start my best sport and I was going to be happy about it. 

On the way out, I shouted again to Zliten, “Yay, I get to ride my bike now!” and took off on Death Star to try and catch someone in my age group, as I was fairly convinced I was in last place at that point.  The truth is, I wasn’t quite, there were three people in my age group that took over an hour to complete the swim, and I heard accounts of people (who had legit qualified for the National Championships here, not newbies) getting towed in by kayak or even just making it to shore and handing in their chip for the day after completing the swim.  Regardless, I certainly wasn’t in the normal position I’d be in at this point and I was looking forward to chasing people down on the bike.

T1 time: 5:01.  Honestly, my garmin clocked the transition at almost a third of a mile.  I’m okay with five minutes for that length.

Smiles because I did. not. drown.

Bike:

I ate my gel and I worked the pedals and my speed was just NOT coming up for the level of effort I was putting out.  I was wondering if something was wrong… and then I realized it wasn’t me, it was the weather.  Headwind.  Cool.  17 mph into that isn’t too bad.  I went up and down the hills at the beginning and then got onto a freeway (cool!) and then made my way onto a crazy narrow single lane interchange thing that was super bumpy (scary!) and was relived when we headed into a neighborhood onto better roads.

My speed came up and my legs got under me, and I hit the turn around seeing about 18 mph on the garmin.  Ok, I could deal with that when I knew I had some help on the way back.  I just got to work and ate some blocks and passed everyone I could.  My bike was still doing the delayed shifting thing it has been lately but besides that everything felt nice and smooth and I just kept working my average up until I crossed the line.

The most obvious thing I learned on the bike ride?  If I leave my top tube straw out, instead of tucking it in after each sip, I will drink much more liquid over the course of a bike ride.  If nothing else, this race has taught me that. *captain obvious salute*

Bike time: 1:19:15 (18.9 mph).  Honestly, I paced the thing more like a 70.3 (155W/172W normalized @ 158 BMP AVG HR), because that’s what I’m practicing for right now.  The other “gear” I have is to race a sprint, and I knew going out like that would be a bad idea.  I’d love to race more Olympics and nail what that 25 mile race effort feels like, but for now, I’ll just be happy with that.

T2:

Again violating the “nothing new on race day”, I was feeling incredibly protective of my feet and doing everything I could to avoid blisters.  Even though I knew it would cost me time, I ditched the quick laces for regular ones.  Also, I left my socks OFF for the bike ride, and set them in my run shoes covered in powder so they’d be dry.  I can report that I got ZERO blisters on my feet during the two days of racing so it was worth it.

T2 time: 3:27. Big transition was big.

This is what a happy runner en route to the finish line looks like!

Run:

I got out and my legs felt pretty darn decent.  And then they sent us directly up a big hill.  D’oh!  I knew I only had to contend with it twice so I charged up the best I could without burning too many matches, and picked up my pace once it evened out.  I realized that my legs were definitely carrying me at a Olympic run PR at this point, but feeling like they had a lot more in them.  My options at this point were to pick up the pace or to cruise a bit, and considering I am inexperienced at this distance and also was racing the next day, I kind of cruised. 

All the lifting this year, and following my mountain goat husband up hills with less complaining has made me a better hill runner this year, apparently.  Everyone was complaining about the hills and I managed them just fine.  There was that first one, and then a short steep-ish one around mile 2, and the third, which I called optional hill because you went off the path simply just to go down and back up a steep hill.  Race directors are mean. 

There was no walking today, besides a few steps at one crowded aid station to get some water down.  I kept my pace fairly even – 9:45s to 10:15s (with a speedier 9:30 for my last mile).  Even though I didn’t feel like I needed it, I ate a gel halfway though just like I planned.  I finished feeling like I had a lot left in the tank, at least one more of the 3 mile loops, without needing to slow down.  For an Olympic run PR, I’ll totally take it!

Run time: 1:00:09 (9:42 average pace).  First sub-10 minute mile Olympic run!  I’m stoked!  And it wasn’t even all out racing.  I’m excited to see what I can do for my half ironman races this year if this is any indication of where my run fitness is…

Overall time: 3:11:58. 138/162 AG.  So close to those top 18 slots that qualify for worlds, hahaha!

I’d say overall, I put about 80-85% into this race, but besides the pre-race BS and the fallacious swim, I had a total blast on this course and couldn’t wait to race it again the next day.  After some food.  And sleep.

Dear self, medals are not food.

After wandering aimlessly for a bit, I picked up my bag and changed into clothes.  We waited around for a while hanging out with friends and then when transition opened, I moved my bike to the place it was supposed to be for the next day.  For our commute, we walked two miles to get to the city bikes, and then rode them back to the hotel.  Next on the agenda was to get cleaned up and food in my face to fuel tomorrow’s race!

Part two coming soon…

Krause Springs Part 1 – fourth of July, butterfly gardens, and wonderful laziness

I had magical memories of our 2017 Krause Springs trip.

I was wondering, even if a little bit, whether the magic I felt was the newness of camping with the popup.  It was just an entirely different experience than any other vacation I had taken in my life and I was hoping that essence would still be there at Krause.

And it totally was.  Even if this trip was different, it wasn’t any less amazing.

After a super smooth set up, we enjoyed our fairly standard first night meal when we don’t race the next day – hot dogs and veggie pasta salad, with an adult beverage this time because we could!  Usually, the first night of camping means being good, because we have to swim, bike, run, or do all of the three the next day, and in this case, we had ZERO plans.  However, our lack of sleep the night before limited it to just ONE and after the little fireworks show, we crawled in bed with our books and proceeded to sleep blissfully for 10 hours.

Wednesday was the fourth of July holiday proper, and we woke up to rain.  We had a delicious breakfast of bean and cheese tacos, and I spent some time coloring, intending to get warmed up to paint later in the week.  Then we took a walk to the butterfly garden.  Zliten spent some time drawing and I ran around and photographed everything. 

I wasn’t patient enough to get a picture of an actual butterfly or hummingbird, but I got some nice scenery before it started to POUR.  We hung back in the camper and made some fairly epic campfire stew and read and relaxed watching the rain drip outside our open camper windows. 

The persistent rain forced us to cook our first meal in the camper, and it actually worked out quite well.  When you don’t have to deal with the wind on the stove, you get a nice even temperature.

We lucked out and got a break in the rain pretty much JUST for the fireworks setup and show.  The rain had kept it cool and I’m sure there was less potential for fire hazards, so it worked out for everyone.  So much BIG KABOOMS!

The fireworks shows here are just plain epic, and I had so much fun playing with my new camera’s fireworks mode.  Zliten had to remind me to actually sit back and WATCH a bit instead of take pictures of every firework.

The next day, we slept until we couldn’t possibly stay in bed any longer, listening to the sounds of  a light drizzle on the popup canvas.  Once it cleared up, we had some breakfast and soon after, lunch because we were still hungry.

There was a lot of wonderful laziness on Thursday.  I read and napped and read and jumped in the pool and then read a little more, but I did take a hike to get some pretty footage of the area around the tent camping areas.

Our one big food experiment was campfire pizza.  It ended up a little burnt on the bottom, and it was more like a pizza inspired casserole, but all the delicious tastes were there.  Would totally make again.

Later, we headed down to the falls.

I neglected to bring the strap for my camera this vacation, so I spent the entire time in the natural springs clutching my camera for dear life.  I can report that I still have it! Success!

As the sun went down, I had to run around the campsite once again to see where the light was pretty and take more photos.  These weren’t the best grounds for epic sunset photos, but I enjoyed watching them each evening!

We took it easy that night and went to bed early to be ready for adventures in the morning.  But for that, you’ll need to skip to Part 2.

If you want to skip the words and just see all the photos, click here.

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