Thursday, February 1, 2018

Race Recap: Ironman Lake Placid - "Take a good look gentleman, because they're the ones getting off easy."

"Great moments... are born from great opportunity. And that's what you have here, tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight. One game. If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight, we stay with them. And we shut them down because we can! Tonight, WE are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players. Every one of you. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em. This is your time. Now go out there and take it."
-Herb Brooks

my thought process in signing up for IM Lake Placid was four-fold. 


4. Iconic Ironman race.  

i've always wanted to go to lake placid and visit this two-time olympic town.  its the site of one of my all-time favorite sports stories - miracle on ice, when the 1980 USA hockey team defeated the Soviets, who were nearly undefeated in the previous 7 olympic games (they won gold 6/7 games).  

theres a movie.  its awesome.  please watch it now, whether you've seen it 39 times or not.  watch it... AGAIN.  and while you're at it, watch cool runnings too because i'm feeling very olympic today. 

(im so proud of how i put that last paragraph together.  if you understood all of it, you are my spirit animal and i just virtually high fived you.)

momma flew into DCA late wednesday night in prep for us leaving early thursday morning.  my chiropractor, dr. taylor taylor at full motion life and sport in arlington, virginia (seriously, now go there) graciously agreed to meet mom and i at 6:30 for some last minute work on my wonky neck and then we headed to the great green north that is upstate new york.  

3 starbuck stops later (with a short layover at panera), we arrived in the town of lake placid.  i fell in love immediately with its adorable adirondack decor as mom and i headed over to the conference center (AND THE SITE OF THE HOCKEY RINK) to register and check it off the to-do list.  mom took pictures, i waited in lines, and we reunited at the hockey rink.  in my frantic, overly-excited state, i had mom take too many pictures at the ice rink, never realizing how small it seemed compared to all the pictures and video i'd seen of the 1980's games.  

yep.  this isn't it.  please don't tell the freak in the picture.

guys - this is because it was the 1932 rink, not the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena - which i didn't realize until monday afternoon.  but i was ignorantly happy for four days, so who cares. 

oh hai Mark #2.

we headed to expo to grab the signature IM backpack and then i decided to squeeze that 45 minute run in before the BASE team dinner.  I ran part of the bike course on the fairly flat and shaded area along the lake.  so freaking beautiful, i couldn't stand it.  i couldn't keep my HR down, i just wanted to GO FAST!  

Dinner with the BASE team was delicious - went to the Three Bears - highly recommend.  had a bloody mary with my salmon and potatoes - SO GOOD.  we finally made it to the house where everyone was staying, unpacked and got settled and went to bed fairly early.  

there was a cat.  hi, CAT. 

up at 6 am for 7 am swim.  met up with matt and angela - who i didn't realize was angela naeth until 5 minutes into the swim because im a moron.  

watch out - the claw will get you.

beckie and i, SOAS sistas 4 life

had a quick 20 minute dip in mirror lake - felt awesome - followed by 45 minutes on the bike and a 20 minute run.  i biked the run course which was beautiful and goes past the olympic ski jumps and ran a short 10 min out and back along the end of the bike course along the lake.  was feeling solid and pumped to be done with everything before 9 am.  


we went to the expo to buy things and visit people.  i got to hang with angela's dog, zoey, as well as the race wheels dog.  DOGS.  

mom and i went grocery shopping and stocked up on snacks and meals to tide us over for the next few days and headed back to the house.  i napped for awhile in ellen's normatec boots (stellar) and relaxed watching tv on my ipad. 

while hanging out in the afternoon, i decided i needed to try the infamous descent into keene so mom and i drove out and i borderline survived my quick 7 mile trip down everest the hill.  
pasta primavera for dinner with a small salad and it was early to bed again.  no issues sleeping, but do i ever?

similar morning for saturday - 15 min swim sans wetsuit preceeded by a photo op with angela, 45 min spin on bike (run course again), and 10 min run.  weather was awesomely cool.  we checked out the expo and the pro panel.  cynthia was on the panel (WHOA celeb status) as was shawn booth (the bachelor dude) plus the pros.  i loved hearing andy potts talk - very humble and professional, he seems like a really cool guy.  we should be friends.  somebody tell him.

customary pre-ironman big breakfast

angela and i 

cynthia, ann marie, and i 
(ann marie did IMNC last year when the bike course was cut to 56 miles - cynthia and i met her because she did the second 56 miles at the BASE trainer party while we cheered her on after she completed the swim, shortened bike, and run - total bad ass lady. so awesome to reunite with her!) 

it was back to the house after the panel because my brother was arriving!  SO EXCITED.  he stayed back in the house and napped while mom and i dropped off transition bags, checked in bike, and drove the bike course.  it didn't seem as bad as the elevation map made it seem so that boosted my confidence a little bit.  i didn't even realize we'd driven "the three bears" until we were past them!
dinner for the evening was the standard chicken parmesan - which has been the go-to meal for most of my races in the past couple years.  

I had a Stella, as is customary, that i spilled on the table when i got excited that MARK MHLEY had arrived.  its true, i can no longer do ironmans without this man.  he's been present, either racing or spectating, at 4/5 races i have done now.  thank goodness for this human. 

we went to bed - chris and i turned on miracle (duh) and i fell asleep pretty soon after.  


up at 3:45 am and didn't feel stellar.  the goal was to get out of the house by 5:15 am which we easily accomplished.  i ate 1/2 of a blueberry bagel with peanut butter and a banana, but my stomach was feeling strange and i was not at all hungry - which is weird.  each bite felt like i was chewing cardboard. 

mom and i headed to transition - she dropped me off and i checked my bike and loaded it up with water bottles and nutrition.  tires were full, put in a low gear and bid daisy good-bye.  i walked out and met up with mom and did a short 10 min shake out run.  i felt terrible.  i was sluggish and my stomach was jumping around.  as soon as i finished, i wanted to cry, but instead i attempted to eat more of my bagel.  i was getting stressed that i couldn't eat a solid breakfast.  when mom went into subway, i sat on the curb and dry heaved a few times but nothing came up.  

we walked over the swim start, i put on my wetsuit and got ready to go.  i wasn't excited, i was dreading the day that lay in front of me and just had a bad feeling in my gut.  literally.  i lined up with the 1 hour group and before i knew it, i was running into mirror lake to start the day.  

i swam about 100-200 meters before i felt like I COULDN'T BREATHE.  i've had panic attacks and asthma attacks before, but never while wearing a constricting wetsuit in deep water surrounded by a mass of neoprene-wearing humans.  i put my head up and breaststroked a few times and decided that this was where i would die.  i struggled to get to the first kayak (yep, i was that person) and held on for dear life.  she asked if i was okay, i attempted not to continue drowning.  a minute later, i decided i was good and set out only to discover not only was i decidedly not good, but i was, in fact, worse

kayak #2 (yes, thats as far as i made it the second time) asked if i wanted to pull out of the race.  i honestly paused for 5 seconds and considered it.  "nope.  i'm good now," i responded, lying through my teeth.  i slowly swam away from the kayak, staying on the tow-line which was surprisingly not crowded.  i knew i was swimming slow, but it was forward motion, so i made peace with that.  i made it back to the beach in this fashion, looked down at my watch and saw 35 minutes.  oh hell.  at this rate, it was going to be a 1:10 swim, my slowest by many minutes minutes.  i ran out and back into the water telling myself i was on the homestretch, not even thinking about the majority of the race that still lay ahead.  the second loop was uneventful.  the water temperature was lovely, i didn't encounter anyone significant and it was easy, clear swimming. 

swim: 1:08 something.  oh christ - slowest swim ever.  

T1: out of the water.  thank god.  i ran to transition in a blur, thankful to have survived the swim - what a crazy new concept.  grabbed my gear and headed out to miss daisy, crossing my fingers that the day would improve.  

i saw my family as i headed out on the bike - YAY!  i started off awesome, taking in the calories i had depleted earlier, staying on top of my game for the first two hours.  i wasn't breaking any personal speed records, but i was biking a smart and conservative race.  the descent into keene was a little unnerving due to the wind - i was thankful i had done the descent prior to then and knew what to expect.  by no means was i in aero for more than a minute at a time - no, no, no - too scary.  rubber side down prochnow.  the psychological wheels started to come off between 2-3 hours when my gut started to act up.  

crap.  literally.  

i dry heaved a couple times, but things were staying down, so i was hopeful.  kept HR low in the climbs and before i knew it, i was back in town.  i hit a small bump and i felt some rubbing on the back tire.  in my head, i had a rear flat and i was not happy about this.  i kept going for another mile and it seemed to be consistent - i could feel and hear a constant rubbing.  i looked back and my bento box was cockeyed and i reached back to grab just as it started to fly off the back of the bike.  

so now im in town where the crowds are, carrying this large, hard plastic QR bento box in my right arm and steering the bike with the left for two miles, looking like a damn fool.  i head into special needs and try to re-attach it, but the plastic piece is busted so i throw it in the special needs bag, not thinking to grab anything in case of a flat tire.  i chugged a mt dew, ate a couple EL Fudge cookies and headed out for round 2.  

the next three hours are blurry.  i vomited multiple times.  stopped in the porta-potty for liquid lava to pass through my body.  literal crap.  i ate food only for it to come right back up.  i was a mess.  i was miserable and angry as i watched my avg speed decline.  i was hungry but i couldn't chew my food.  it was one of the least fun 3 hour stretches on a bike i have ever endured.  as i cruised back into town, i started to feel a little light headed and i almost cried thinking about the marathon that still lay before me.  

eff this bike and eff this helmet and eff these shoes.  i lubed up my toes and put on happy socks.  i grabbed my hat and sunglasses and water bottle and headed out, dizziness still present.  

i realized i still had bike gloves on.  i heard someone yell, "go heather" and i whipped around and took off my gloves and handed them to... a complete stranger.  "you're not my mom!" i wailed in the face of this random lady, confused about the situation.  i looked down and realized this nice, innocent spectator was only reading names off of bibs and did not, in fact, know who i was.  i turned around and started to run, figuring i would just throw the gloves away.  i then saw my mom and chris and threw my gloves and an assortment of wrappers from my kit at them.  "i feel TERRIBLE!" i cried to them, and my brother, supportive as ever, ran a block with me as i lamented about my day thus far.  "i'm so proud of you sis" he said, and i straightened up and attempted to run.  

i saw the rising tide gang and mark at the bottom of the hill and when they asked how i was i said, "terrible!  HAHAHAHA!" with a panicked laugh and lisa ran with me while i shared my day.  at the first porta-potty, i stopped and realized i had actually gotten my period, since the day just couldn't get better.  i had an inkling it would happen that morning and lisa - bless her heart - gave me a tampon that morning which i shoved in a side pocket.  "HALLE-FREAKIN-LLUIA".  Also, more lava.  GREAT.  

I kept a respectable pace for a few miles and then started to die and slowly came to the realization that i was going to struggle to COMPLETE the race in one piece.  granted, i'd be in under 13 hours - god willing - but that number in itself was a little heartbreaking considering i'd never had a finishing time over 11.5 hours before.  i tried to fake smile for my family and friends but they knew how bad it was going.  the majority of the marathon is a blur.  i ran some, i walked more.  i eavesdropped on conversations around me like the creep that i am.  i made all kinda of portapotty stops.  

as the marathon dragged on and i shuffled in a somewhat forward motion, i began to high five kids.  and smile.  i wanted them to think this was fun (was i delusional?  it was effing miserable).  i was still feeling horrendous, but eventually, there were only a few miles left.  a man with a "63" on his left calf came running up next to me.  his name was chris and he had done this race countless times.  he pushed me to stay with him and i valiantly tried until we reach the last big hill and then... he crushed me.  and my soul.  damn.  i tried to keep him in my sights and i made up a smidge of ground as the streets flattened out but i never quite caught up to him.  we skirted the edge of the olympic oval and before i knew what was happening, the finish arch was looming.  

i remember nothing about the chute, the finish, or anything - except for seeing my mom.  thats when my memory kicks back in.  i saw her, i collected my shirt and hat - all the while keeping eye contact with her.  i don't remember if i even took a finisher photo.  when i made my way to her, i collapsed a bit, and i cried.  i cried in relief for the day being over, i cried for the time spent training only to end the way it did, i cried for just the damn fact that i felt bad.  

so - we sat on the lawn.  moments later, i heaved the remnants of gels and coke onto the grass with my head between my legs, recounting the day in between bouts of vomit.  at least by then, i had almost finished crying.  

its glamorous, this sport.  dead sexy even.  

my brother wandered over and the first thing i smelled was rum.  i love this kid so much, but alcohol was the last thing i wanted to be smelling.  however, the fact that he was pretty drunk took my mind off the odor of Captain permeating the air around us because he always makes me laugh until i cry.  then he gave me a hug and told me he was proud of me... and i lost it again.  i switched from vomiting to bawling.  like kristin bell says, if I'm not between a 3 and a 7 on the emotional scale, i'm crying.  

i was at a solid 12.  

i cried and laughed and cried more.  it meant so much to have my brother and mom there and I really missed my dad.  eventually, i got on the phone with dad and with some friends and they helped calm me down and make me feel better.  it was such a hard day - physically and emotionally. i went to some dark places and really had to push to keep moving one foot in front of the other when i just wanted to curl up around a trash can in sweatpants with my dog.  but those are the moments in time that make you stronger.  just like climbing the wintergreen mountain at camp will forever be emblazoned in my memory, as will that one time i did that one race at lake placid.  

we meandered our way through the crowds to get my stuff and drove home.  that first shower after a race is always glorious and this one did not disappoint.  i put on some comfy clothes and mom and i headed back to town to meet the spectator gang and watch the midnight finishers - always my favorite part.  



the next day was the highlight of the trip - OLYMPIC GLORY.  


Miracle. Herb Brooks.

Nerding out so bad to Olympic everything. 


And then... it happened.  I got to see the actual arena where all the magic happened.  My heart skipped a beat.  I'd waited years for this moment.  


we also luged.

we won medals.

We celebrated the Olympics all morning and ended our time in Placid on a very high note.  Will I ever do this race again?  Nope, I'm good.  But I learned so much about myself and what I'm capable of doing that I have no regrets.  as they say - anytime you finish an Ironman is a good day.  

I did leave New York feeling significantly unfulfilled and - as fate would have it - a college friend and her family would soon leave me feeling overwhelmingly inspired.  So, Ironman Maryland ended up being next on the list for 2017.  Some day, when I get my life together, you can read all about it... 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Race Recap Maine 70.3: The toils and troubles of toilets and tubular tires

well my friends... it finally happened.  A DNF.  Did not finish.  Ugh.  UGH!  But - silver lining - i'm about to brighten your day with this damn near epic hilarity of a story.

lets begin as we always do - with a long, drawn out lead-up to the actual race with very little detail paid attention to the actual race in itself.  however, this time - the lead up is just awesome.  And involved toilets.  I hope you're ready for this because I just can't type this fast enough.

so, I get to Maine after 9ish hours in the car.  songs were sung, podcasts were listened to, i talked to myself for about an hour - the standard solo road trip.  i put the borrowed wheels on my bike and rode it up and down the street with great success.  i did notice the valve was a bit finicky when i filled the tire, but it seemed fine and holding air so i though nothing of it.  holli, thomas, and i headed to the beach for a quick 25 minute swim.  first time ever actually doing quality swimming in the ocean - it was chilly, but after 10 minutes, i felt awesome and the swim on the way back in felt all downhill.  we even rode a few waves - SO MUCH FUN IN A WETSUIT.  i lost holli and thomas on the way back and momentarily thought they'd been eaten by sharks.

as holli would say, "YOU'RE GOING TO WANT TO WATCH THIS" as she described the optimal way she'd want her friends to watch her die in the ocean - which involved actually having us watch a shark consume her alive.

i can't even.  moving on.

the next morning, i did an easy 45 minute ride and 10 minute run to wake up the legs.  i felt great.  i was getting excited to have a hell of a race and get out there and see what i could do.  ive been training well the last couple weeeks and i was ready to put placid behind me and have a really fun day racing with friends.  we dropped off bikes and went out for lunch.  i had my first lobster meal, a lobster roll - my favorite - and i was in heaven.  i spent the afternoon watching movies, napping, and relaxing - a really lovely way to spend the day.

i packed my transition bag for the following day - a quick task now that we are well into racing season - and went old school for nutrition.  i packed uncrustable sandwiches in my bento box - something that i love and am always excited to eat.  in 15 minutes, i was ready to go.  my bottles were made and in the fridge and i had my nutrition packed and ready.  dinner was chicken, pasta, and a sweet potato and we hit the sack early.

race day!  3:45 am wake-up call since the race started at 6:20 am.  i had no issues with my blueberry and peanut butter bagel, unlike the horrors of placid morning.  drank some coffee and downed a banana as well.  we put on our race tats and, as usual, i put my age upside down and backwards.  we then started the walk to transition, only about 15 minutes from our house.  i was getting nervous and i had to tell myself multiple times to chill the eff out and not become an epic head case.

this, my dear friends, is where life got a little bit better.

we cut through the expo and found a line of porta-potties - we will now refer to these as PPs, as i will go on to mention these multiple times.  we stood there for a couple minutes and realized there was no movement to the first half of the PPs, but they all appeared locked.  holli knocked  multiple times on one door and no one answered, so she yanked open the door and it was empty.  both her and thomas did the same thing to the PP next to it and again, it was empty.

do you see where this is going?

i took it upon myself to try the same thing on another apparently empty PP.  i knocked.  i knocked again.  no signs of life presented itself so i yanked it open, as my friends before me had successfully done.  i was greeted by a large man with his pants down and i slammed the door shut and ran back to where pete was waiting, as he just shook his head at me.

the man came out of the PP and held the door open for me.  "after you miss."

i died right there, laughing.

when i came to, i replayed the event to holli and thomas and continued to giggle as i replayed the scene in my head.   we continued to transition uneventfully and set up our respective areas.  i topped off the tires with air, and laid all my stuff on my red nats rally towel.  bottles on bike, bento box strapped back on - i was ready.  i stared for three minutes as i played out T1 and T2 in my head and i was feeling pretty good about my set-up.  holli and i decided to hit up the PPs one more time before walking to swim start.  we chose the slowest line, as is murphy's law, and waited for 10-15 minutes before we took our respective PP turns.  i get in, do my thing, and put my hand down to the left of the toilet seat to get up.  in that same movement, i looked down and saw that my hand was millimeters away from a HUGE PILE OF HUMAN FECES.

what in the actual fuck.

triathletes are disgusting creatures.

i immediately felt my breakfast jump into my throat but i kept it down as i busted out of the PP like it was on fire.  the nauseous drool had begun and i didn't even think to warn the person about to face my feces-filled-hell-hole.  im a horrible human.

im not entirely sure why i felt so seriously ill, but then the dry heaving started and i just couldn't stop.  we walked over to pete and every 15-30 seconds i had to lean over and spit up saliva, praying that my breakfast would stay in my stomach.  we walked over to swim start as i continued the annoying dry heaving.  i attempted to drink water and i spit that up immediately and that was the trick.  i was instantly healed as soon as i had something to throw up.  i laughed.  what is with my stupid sensitive stomach?  its just poop.  i touch poop everyday.  animal poop, but still.  this is the most amount of times i've seen poop in a paragraph in awhile.  you're welcome.


we stopped to put on wetsuits just before reaching the sand.  quick pic and it was time to jump in and attempt some quick cool water acclimation.  it didn't feel that bad.  truthfully, our swim two days prior felt colder.  i was pumped.

"hey pete - YOU'RE GOING TO WANT TO WATCH THIS!" i yelled at him and i laughed, grateful to feel relaxed headed into the swim.

holli and i started side-by-side as thomas and carolyn were seconds behind us.  holli sprinted into the water like she was in baywatch, saving a small human's life.  holy hell.  clearly, i need to step up my beach start.  i started swimming and i had an immediate placid freak-out flashback.

oh crap.  or rather, poop.

i then thought of the shit-filled PP and i laughed and just told myself to relax and do what you know how to do.  just freaking swim, girl.  i was still pretty wound up going into the first turn buoy - i still hadn't relaxed, but id survived the first third of the swim.  freak out time had passed and i was ready to swim.  the gently rolling waves and cool temperatures to the water were blissful.  i was actually enjoying the swim for the first time in awhile.  it seemed to be taking longer than usual so i wasn't surprised with swim time out of the water but dang, i didn't expect that.

swim: 33:53 (poop).

T1: it was a bit of a jog to transition and i overshot my bike by a rack or two (amateur) but i quickly put on helmet and sunglasses, made the snap decision to not wear socks, and away i went.

or so i thought.

i rolled out, feeling that familiar cool breeze on my wet skin/kit and before i could even think about biking, i heard a rhythmic and unfamiliar thump, thump, thump. i thought the breaks were rubbing so i got off and checked it out, no issues that i could see.  started to go again - thump, thump, thump.  again, i got off and looked at the bike, as if that would fix whatever new issues had cropped up between leaving transition and now.  i crossed my fingers and got back on the bike.  no dice. a thought struck me and i gingerly touched the front tire.  100% flat.


i was more than 1/4 mile away from transition so i turned around and jogged back with the bike.  all the funny comedians came out of the woodwork with hilarious comments like, "the race is the other direction!" and "done already?!" and "it works better when you ride the bike!"  "hahaha" i responded as i internally flashed them all my middle finger.  i saw pete and he had a pump, but i was reluctant to take it - does

once back in transition, i sprinted straight back to the mechanic (at the very back of transition) and lo and behold - they were gone.  you'd think at least one would stick around until the swim was over?  i was in the first group out of the water so its not like many people had already taken their bikes and left.  i panicked and sprinted back to pete.  f*ck it, i thought, i'm going to use his pump and if i get DQd for outside assistance, then so be it.  i pumped up the tire, all seemed right in the world, and away i went, losing just about 10 minutes in the process.

i was annoyed to say the least.  slow swim, tire struggles.  i was about 13 minutes back from where i wanted to be and i'd only just started the bike.  but - it was what it was and i was going to have a hell of the rest of the race to make up some time.  the weather was gorgeous and the roads were nice.  i was enjoying myself, eating my uncrustables with delight and keeping hydrated.  just before mile 20, i got an odd sense that something was wrong with the bike.  it just didn't feel totally smooth anymore, but i couldn't pinpoint why.  maybe its just the road, i thought to myself.  i was holding about 22 mph at this point, lovely tailwind and heartrate was right where it needed to be.  over the next 1-2 miles, i couldn't shake the bad feeling in my gut that the bike was having an issue.  i wasn't losing speed and i wasn't working any harder so i pressed on.  sure enough, minutes later, that front tire started thumping again.


i had the fix-flat-stuff taped to the back of the seat but to my surprise, the nozzle had fallen off and it was just a canister with no top.  i was done.

at that point, i wanted to kick daisy to the curb... but given that she was already laying on the curb, i gently kicked the front wheel.  damn you tubular tire.  damn you to hell.

for the next 40 minutes, i watched bikes whizz past me.  a lot of them called out to see if i was okay, i waved them all on.  after awhile, i got bored so i started walking daisy on the other side of the road in the same direction the other athletes were headed.  i figured i'd eventually run into someone and get a ride into town. a man called out from his driveway - "do you need a phone?"  "yes, thank you!"  i frantically tried to look up the Ironman website on his Iphone3 but it wasn't working great.  what are you left with when you feel hopeless?  i called my mom.  i had her try to get ahold of pete via facebook but at that minute a bicycle truck pulled up - and i was saved.

he drove me to the previous aid station and i was handed off to a nice gentleman who took me the rest of the way to town.  i walked up to transition at the exact moment that holli and tom came in off the bike.  i stashed daisy next to a tree and ran up to them non-chalantly barefoot holding my bike shoes.

me: "oh hey guys!"
tom: "hey!"
holli: "hey girl, you are having the race of your l---.  wait, what are you doing?!"
me: "oh, my bike broke.  okayyy have fun!"

i ran back to my bike, walked her home and jumped in the shower with my first of many ciders.  via my broken ipad, i contacted pete and attempted to meet up with him on a beach cruiser i borrowed from the shed.  i packed up the bike with multiple ciders and set off to the run course.

eventually, i met up with carolyn and we walked to the finish.  we met up with pete, watched the gang finish, and cashed in the tickets for the lobster bake.  i was not about to miss my lobsters and they did not disappoint.  by 1 pm, i was a little drunk and happy.

during my 40+ minute stint on the side of the road, i made peace with the DNF.  i conquered an ocean swim, overcame that strange swimming anxiety, and had a great weekend with friends.  i tested my faith in the humanity that is triathletes via a few choice PP encounters as well.  i really can't complain.

on to Maryland!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Race Recap: Ironman Eagleman 70.3

Finally got around to signing up for an Ironman branded 70.3. My last (and only) was Racine in 2014.  For two years, I'd heard nothing but wonderful things about this race and I knew I just had to do it.  The weather - BEAUTIFUL!  The course - epically SCENIC!  The Cambridge location - SO EASY TO GET THERE.

In truth - it was a very well put together race. Gerry Boyle does a phenomenal job with this location and he truly cares about the athletes.  They can't help that it takes place on a weekend where you can't discern between Earth and racing on the surface of the Sun.  Or that famous DC traffic... actually, really any traffic in the 100 mile radius of Virginia/Maryland/DC - its all terrible.

Holli, Bicycle Pete/Honest Sherpa, and myself stayed at the Comfort Inn, a few miles from transition - easy to navigate around town.  We arrived Friday evening and got checked in, thrilled to have that activity checked off the list of stuff to do the following day.  In an idiot move, I realized I had thrown my xlab aero bottle straw away (it was moldy and i'm only so into building up my immune system within reason) so I purchased some profile design products so I could fashion a new one.  In a McGuyver-esque move, I was able to drink water from the bottle while laying in bed since the straw was three feet long.  a completely useless party trick but amusing all the same.

In the morning, Holli and i geared up and did a 45 minute bike on the run course and a slow 10 minute run.  the temps were rising and by 10 am, it was getting a touch uncomfortable.  we reunited with BP/HS and traveled a few blocks up the road to a diner to enjoy a big breakfast and relax.  shortly after, we packed up the bikes and dropped them off in transition.  I bid miss daisy adieu and told her to behave herself overnight.  there were a lot of pretty bikes and i didn't want her getting distracted for the ride tomorrow.  like rider, like bike I always say.

back in the hotel, we settled in and relaxed.  and laughed a lot.  we danced.  okay, i danced.  i didn't feel a lot of race jitters - i was pretty happy hanging with my friends for the weekend, nearly forgetting at times that in less than 24 hours we would be done racing.  rotisserie chicken and sweet potatoes for dinner - capped off with a handful of E.L Fudge cookies, water, rocket fuel, and osmo preload.  mmmm SALT.

i coerced the group into falling asleep to titanic as i showed my skill at knowing nearly all the words to the 3 1/2 hour movie.  i don't want to brag but... i'm pretty cool.

race morning - up at 3:45ish.  obligatory 1 & 1/2 thomas blueberry bagels with peanut butter plus banana.  another bottle of preload to wash it down.  SALT.  YUM.  plus one bottle of rocket fuel to carry around for the morning - thank you BASE performance for the ever-so-excellent hydration products.

pete, holli, and i set out for transition - by the good grace of god, some fellow DC Tri-ers had a house 1 block from transition and were generous to let us park in the driveway and take over their abode for race morning (thanks you guys).

friends were doing a relay and adam had asked me when i thought it would pass him on the bike.  they were starting about an hour before i did.  my random guess?  mile 43.  we would see...

set up transition - bike was already there so topped off air in the tires, added bottles and nutrition, and set up camp on my red washington nationals rally towel.  good to go.  hung back at the DC tri house with a short solo dance party and then headed to swim start.  wetsuit on, quick little freak out with Joanna (bless you friend for your hugs), and it was time to go.

i honestly recall close to nothing about this swim other than people were obviously cutting the swim short which is lame.  as in - i could see them cutting buoys.  meh.  swam my swim, easy to sight with the sun way up (we were in one of the last waves), and it was pretty clear water, not a lot of wading through people with the lines i took so that made it easy.  water temp was a little warm, very comfortable in wetsuit.  really like my xterra vengeance for the shoulder flexibility and the rocking lavender sleeves.  before i knew it, i was at the arch and running out.

wetsuit off, everything already on the bike, so quick ponytail adjustment, helmet and sunglasses on and it was time to roll.  literally.  pete hollered out that i was 22nd AG.  we laughed.

goal was to keep HR at 140-145, i have the HR of a sloth, i know.  the course is pancake flat, fast, and fun. i borrowed a pair of 808's from liz and felt like i was on cruise control just steady spinning - which i LOVE.  none of those silly hills, just a constant high cadence and forward, steady movement.  i felt great nutrition wise for the first loop - had all my calories in via honey stinger waffles and downed 2 bottles of rocket fuel - which is delicious cold but less than stellar when it is warm.  as my heartrate set into the low 150's, i realized the heat was having an effect on me.  i didn't feel tired, i actually wanted to push it more, but i actively slowed and conserved energy to follow the plan.
early into the second loop, my stomach stopped cooperating and as i forced half a waffle into my mouth, i took a big swig of rocket fuel, swallowed, leaned over my aero bars and watched that waffle and liquid come right back up and all over my arms.  solid regurgitation at its finest.

well, bleh.  that was nasty prochnow, i thought to myself.  then a few lines of nasty girl ran across my brain and i laughed and looked around, still covered in puke.

this sport is pure glamour, start to finish.

i had my eyes peeled for adam as i rode into mile 40.  sure enough, at mile 42.8, i passed adam - BOOM!  "hey baby", i yelled at him, puke remnants still visible on my arms.  damn, who wouldn't want to date me?

as i cruised into the final mile, a rider two bikes up fell in the no passing zone which caused a fairly abrupt slow down and stop.  damn.  so close but so far... we waited a little bit and then were able to continue the two blocks into transition.

aka re-rack, helmet/gloves off, adjust ponytail, grab all your shit and keep running.

the plan here was to start with HR @ 140 for the first few miles- this is also known as fast-walking-in-the-heat speed - like 9:30-9:45 min miles - pretty awesomely sluggish.  i shuffled along for three miles, ate a gel and water, loaded myself with ice/cold water at the aid stations, and marveled at the squishiness of my shoes this early in the race.  i imagined the epic blisters that were likely forming with water going everywhere at all the aid stations/directly on my feet.  I picked it up through miles 3-6, still feeling really slow but good in the heat.  this wasn't a race to PR or set any records, more of a long training day and i understood that - though the competitor inside didn't love it.  definitely a lesson in patience and HR regulation.  after mile 6, i picked it up more and finally felt like i could run.  pace started to drop quicker and i moved into the mid-8's for another 3 miles.  I passed a few people as I myself got passed and i knew i was out of the top 5 - but again, training day.  the last few miles were low 8's, high 7's and i felt fine.  i could feel my quads tightening up around mile 11, but thats the homestretch!  you just have to get to the finish, which i did.  wasn't happy with the time, but for the 40th time, i reminded myself that i was sticking to ironman plan.

bigger picture, prochnow.

i felt a little weird for the first 15 minutes after finishing - i was just so hot.  got some water, sat down, and felt normal pretty quickly.  it was warm out there!  saw teammates, old friends, new friends - the beauty of a "local" race - so awesome.

On to Placid!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Race Recap: Monticelloman 70.3

Family!  Friends!  Loved ones!  Triathlon aficionados!

What a welcome!  Aw, you shouldn't have.  Thanks for coming over.  Sit around and crack open a nice cold bud light while I real-men-of-genius recount this latest race for you.

That really doesn't even make sense.  Wait, don't go.  I'm sorry, please stay.  I'll have beer at the end if you promise to hang around until the end.  Just kidding, that was a lie.  I have nothing for you.

Anyway.  Race season finally arrived after what seemed like the longest off-season ever.  After Vineman in July, I basically shunned triathlon but continued to work out so I could also continue to fill my excessive need for tacos, pizza, and alcohol.

It's a super healthy lifestyle and I highly recommend it.

I've definitely been training a fair amount.  Putting in some solid hours on the bike, lots of running, and the bare minimum for swimming (if we're being honest, and i think we are).  Swimming hasn't been a lot of fun with a sore, aching shoulder, but it too is coming around.  I was excited and nervous going into the first race of the season - aren't we always?  I was also very interested to see how my legs felt off the bike and how the bike would feel in general with a new QR and the amount of training I've been doing.  The gearing on the QR is a 53/39 with 11-25 in the back, my cervelo had 50/34 with 11-28 in the back.  Very, very different.  Not knowing too much about bikes and having only done a few outdoor hilly-ish rides, I wasn't super concerned.

Ignorance, they say, is bliss.

My friend Charlie from undergrad was also racing and came down Friday to hang out and do race prep with me.  My intent for the day was to sit and do nothing except watch movies all day.  However - I ended up a hot mess.  We ran errands, went to Arlington Cemetery and paid respects to his classmate that was buried there, and then attempted bike stuff.  I borrowed my teammate's (thank you Liz) new Zipp 808s and proceeded to inflate them and immediately found that one of the tubes was blown.  DAMN THE BIKE GODS.  and the valve stem on my spare tubes are great for anything less than an 808 so off to the bike shop we went.  I also had a dilemma about the carbon break pads - I wasn't sure if the QR came with them or not given that the race model comes with carbon wheels (which I didn't purchase).  After taking my cervelo's brake pads off and comparing them - it turns out I already had carbon pads on there.  Awesome.   The living room was a mess of bikes and parts and via telephone to Bicycle Pete, i next learned how to widen the brakes to fit the 808s.

What it comes down to is this - I'm basically a bike mechanic now.

Ordered sushi for dinner, watched Frozen and passed out.  So much for sitting on the couch all day watching movies.

Saturday morning - day before race: got up and took all the gear to Hains Point for a quick 45 min spin and 10 min run.  It had rained a fair amount the night before and for the first time in my experience, parts of HP were flooded.  Bike shoes got a bit soggy but not too bad.  Quick shake out run around the Jefferson memorial and it was back to the apartment for waffles.  Packed up and headed down to Charlottesville for race check-in.

Arrived at check-in around 2 pm.  Picked up all the stuff and met up with Joe, Mark, Ellen, and a few of the RTTC ladies.  Quick swim in the new Xterra Vengeance wetsuit to test her out and I felt good to go.  Love this wetsuit and the shoulder flexibility!  I also discovered the legs are cut shorter to mid-calf which is much better than the ankle cut in my opinion.  Its a size smaller than my old Xterra and that makes a world of difference in terms of fit - so much better!  Who knew?!

Checked into the hotel, got gear ready and packed for the following day and watched the Derby.  Headed to dinner and had a seafood pasta with one Stella which hit the spot.  Back to hotel for sleep!

Up at 5ish - late race start of 8:30 am so nice to "sleep in" a bit on race morning.  Transition opened at 6:30 - arrived at 6:45 or so.  Set up transition, milled around for a bit.  Used the bathroom a couple times.  Made sure to eat 1 & 1/2 Thomas blueberry bagels with peanut butter and 1 banana prior to putting wetsuit on around 8 am.  Ate a gel with water around 8:15 as I headed to the water.  Men started at 8:30 and women started at 8:33.  The familiar feeling of anticipation started to take over my chest and I could feel my heart start to race.  "Chill the eff out Prochnow", I told myself, "Swimming is your thanggggg".

Started out at the front of the group and ran/dove in from the beach.  Immediately, there were 3-4 girls around me for the first few minutes and eventually they dropped off until it was just myself and one girl to my left.  and... NO ONE IN FRONT.  its hard for me to maintain a race pace with no one to race and no one visible to catch.  so, I swam.  a bit too comfortably looking back - the pace was easy but i could see we were catching the men after a short time.  no memorable encounters with anyone during this go-around, though a quick tip to the few men who swam perpendicular to my line of sight - "you're going the wrong way dude... buoy is 90 degrees to your left...".
Saw the beach finally and headed in.  The girl crept up a bit - so i did too.  She managed to get out seconds in front of me.  *shakes fist and dizzily runs into transition.*

working on those quick transitions, had a three second debate about arm-warmers or not - determined it was too much work and ran out.

chilly getting on the bike, but i wouldn't regret the lack of arm-warmers in the minutes to follow.  I got into a groove and felt all right for the first loop.  however, i was having trouble chewing food and swallowing - bonk breakers are dense and still apparently difficult for me to swallow (did I learn nothing from last year?) so I struggled with nutrition.  it got to the point that every time 15 minutes came around and I went to eat the small 1/4 of a bar I got upset with myself and my stomach got queasy.  it would just sit in my mouth for minutes which made me want to throw up but i knew i had to eat something that was my only option.  hydration wise, i was good to go.  i started off with 2 full normally concentrated bottles of rocket fuel (2 scoops hydro, 1 scoop watermelon amino, 1 scoop salt) and 1 double concentrated bottle with only 1/4 filled with water - the idea being i can grab a water bottle at an aid station and mix my own drink without dealing with powder while not carrying the full weight of an additional 1-2 bottles.  worked awesome - i ended up drinking 3.5 bottles during the bike - easy peasy.  by the second loop, my legs were getting tired - rolling terrain was hurting, I wasn't able to fly up those hills with my current gearing like I used to and that was frustrating.  i got a little light headed, felt nauseous due to lack of eating, but forced myself to swallow chunks of the BB bars whole or I knew I would feel much worse on the run.  Definitely not the bike time i was anticipating and was disappointed about that as i headed into T2.

screw you bike, i'm out.

there has been a lack of "happy place" in my race running for a couple years now - or really running in general until the past 6 months.  we did some run focused prep over the winter and i started to love it again so i was curious how this would translate into tri.  heartrate was a little low off the bike and i felt a bit sluggish as i started into the run.  i did hear "3rd female" as i left T2 and then "... but they're at least 5 minutes ahead of you!".  i actually laughed and said "thanks dude!"

i appreciate honesty in sport.

i knew i wanted to build HR throughout the run - increasing about every few miles.  i started out at a good pace for me - high 7 - but the course was rolling.  very very rolling.  with every incline i told myself "good placid prep, yay!" and forced myself to believe it.  around mile three i could hear footsteps coming on strong - i hadn't been passed yet but i had a gut feeling those were female steps.

sure enough, a women surged past me and kept going.  i felt myself mentally shut down as i watched third place literally run away from me like i was standing still.  i let myself feel like a failure for a few seconds and decided i had enough gas in the tank to pick up the pace a bit without blowing my HR through the roof too early.  "just stay with her prochnow, only 9 or 10 miles to go." even thinking that statement felt a little ridiculous to me, but what was the worst that could happen?  i run out of steam and slow down to a walk?  this race means NOTHING at this point in the season!  so, i picked it up a bit - and she stopped gaining on me.  slowly, over the next couple miles, i crept up on her.  i could see that the inclines were not her friend and i took that opportunity to gain a little more with each one and ZOOM down the other side (free speed! use the hills!).  around miles 5-6 i found myself running on her heels and feeling my gas tank slowly filling back up as the pace slowed while i sat on her feet.  an uphill was ahead and i decided it was time to pass her and put some distance between us.  as i ran by, i told her how strong she looked - because she did.  she looked awesome.  i told her i'd been trying to catch her and she said she had taken it out too fast.

"anything can happen in a race regardless of who shows up to race."

i passed her and i charged a bit into the turn-around.  lo and behold, three more girls were coming up on my fast friend.  "oh crap... MUST-GO-FASTER-MUST-GO-FASTER." (thank you, Dr. Ian Malcolm).

i ran away from them as if that t-rex really was after me in my 1993 jeep wrangler.  around mile 10, i heard more footsteps and a strange yell - i turned around and a girl was RIGHT FREAKING THERE.  OH CRAP!  for the next 15 seconds, i wondered why she had made that strange noise and i turned around she was gone.

... wait, what?  i did a double take and sure enough, she had disappeared.

super weird, but whatever!  i kept running and slowing building my speed and HR - i was feeling really strong through mile 11 and i could feel my quads start to tighten and my stride shorten.  i thought to myself, "only two more mi---"

i heard the weird yell again, interrupting my self peptalk and realized the girl was behind me again.  WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON?  i gunned it for 15 seconds, turned around to see where she was - and she had vanished.  now, this particular part of the course is a straightaway, so after the second time this happened, i questioned my sanity.  now, sitting here, rehashing the race, i'm a little worried i was seeing/hearing things.  but i felt fine.  i actually felt really good all things considering at mile 11 of the run.

the last two miles are a bit of a blur - i tried to pick up the pace further and just hold on to my suspected third overall spot.  before i knew it, i was taking the left to the finish and the arch was right there - looked behind me and saw no one but at that point, who even knew where the ghost girl was at?  ran through the finish and saw my time - 5:15 - not great, but it was a rough bike.  my run was 2 minutes faster than 2 years prior when i considered myself to be in good run shape so I was really pleased with that.

overall, the run was a huge mental victory for me.  i stayed mentally strong instead of giving up and i worked my strengths and stayed patient.  im really proud of myself for how i handled the run and aside from the two-time break from reality (was that girl ever really there?  was i going crazy?), i had a strong, consistent run and i fought for my place and raced.

i ended up 2nd OA thanks to the collegiate category taking the first OA girl out of the open results.  ellen got 1st OA so we got to share the podium and were showered in prizes!  really cool.  joe won overall male, so DC Tri did pretty well in our first halves of the season.

on to the next one!  till next time...