Sunday, September 30, 2012

Half Marathon Saga

Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. ----Inigo Montoya

A couple of months ago, I volunteered to run a half marathon with a friend who was ditched by her friends. This was going to be her first half marathon. Her *friends* had committed to running it with her....then decided they were going to do a race on the following weekend instead.

In my book, that's pretty slimey. 

I felt so bad for her that I checked my calendar, the weekend looked good. So, I decided to run it with her. 

I did this because I ran my first half marathon alone. I really wished (back then) that I'd had someone to run it with. For those of us who do these types of races regularly, we can forget what it's like the first time you do a new distance. Having someone to ask questions or talk to...someone to help keep you focused or make you laugh while running....all of that....It makes a huge difference.

I signed up.

RIGHT AFTER I DID that, my friend at Master's says "We're still on for RNR Las Vegas, right?"

OH GEESH.  I had forgotten that I had committed to running Vegas. 

Trying to remember when Vegas was, I replied, "OH YEA! I'm in!"

I rush home to look it up online. 

Vegas is 3 weeks after my other half. 

Well, the positive is that they aren't the same weekend, right?

The negative is that I really hadn't wanted to run so much this winter. One half marathon is one thing, but two? That's  awholenuther thing.

It's not the 13.1 miles. I've been really concerned about getting back into that plugger mentality when I've worked so hard to gain speed at shorter distances.

Of course, Coach has built-in "Anti-Tea-Plugger-Devices" to my training plan. That means, I have mile repeats for breakfast; long runs with shorter stretches of higher intensity running; hill repeats; two-a-days (and yea, I'm talking TWO RUNS in one day); y'know typical "Let's make Tea cry" type of workouts.

And the workouts are NOT easy. 

I realized they will NEVER be easy. No matter how fast you get, a mile repeat is a mile repeat. The pace might change but the heart zone doesn't. 

Over the past few weeks, I've really given this a lot of thought.

I came up with this:
The November half is for Her. 
The December half is for Me.

Why not? The November half is about getting her to finish line. To do that with someone, it's really special. If you've never run a "first" race with someone, it's one of those bucket list items, seriously. This one will be one of my favorites because she has overcome incredible challenges this year. I'm warning you. There will be tears.

That's my plan. I've been taking my running more seriously. I'm more focused on nutrition. I am planning on running Vegas hard. Hopefully, I'll have a decent finish time. Although I'd love a PR, I'm not quite there yet. I have a plan. I'm going to stick with it. 

The finish time will be what it will be.

It feels kind of good to be running a half marathon again. 

It's been a few years. 

Eat Papa Eat

I wrote several posts this week that I didn't publish. NOW, I have to go back and summarize.

I think we can agree that I don't "summarize" very well.

Here goes:

1.) I've had some nutrition issues. I've been unable to finish master's swim. My long runs have been really tough.

2.) My long runs have been really tough.

How's THAT for summarizing?

Dealing with my frustration is one thing. Dealing with My Mike's has been something else. "You gotta tell Ricci about this. Maybe he knows someone you can talk to."

And of course there was JMan with, "You need to eat more calorie dense food."

I know.  They're right. 

Before I contact anyone, and the reason I didn't post about this to begin with, I just wanted to see if I could make some adjustments on my own.

The first adjustment I made was....basically....stuffing my face. No, I haven't gone out and gotten dairy queen once a day. I've been a lot more responsible than that. One thing that I realized, and I admit, it was silly that I didn't recognize it before:  My caloric input had dropped. Since the temperatures have dropped, I have not been having my Super Smoothies. In the summer, I would have them once a day, sometimes twice depending on what my plan called for. 

The second adjustment was in training nutrition. The master's swims that I've been struggling with have been after another harder worker. I switched my master's drink to a higher calorie + protein drink. In between the two workouts, I also started to eat a bigger meal. Fortunately for me, I can pretty much eat anything before swimming.  (I haven't been able to see how this goes yet. I only started making these changes on Thursday).

This is what I don't understand. I'm not a very big person. How can it be possible that I need THIS MUCH FOOD?

The other issue that I had was the simple fact that my long runs have not gone well.

I looked back over the past month of training. I realized that my running volume has jumped up quite a bit. The Fri-Sat-Sun trifecta of running has been kicking my butt by the time Sunday rolls around. 

(This plays into the nutrition piece too.)

This week, I got a break on Sat. (No running just riding).

AND I ate like a crazy person on Sat.

AND this resulted in a really good run today. 10 miles. I didn't care how long it took me (1:52). I just needed to finish my run without calling for a rescue and without have to walk because my legs were dead. 

Sometimes I feel like a little kid. I have My mike & jman telling me what to do. I have Coach telling me what to do. I have Swim coach telling me what to do.

With all this expertise around me, you'd think I'd learn.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Another New Normal

I need to deal with an issue. 

I've not hidden the fact that I'm beyond busy. (Have I? Have you felt that I've been pretty honest with how things are going? Somewhat?)

The business has exploded in the last month because we launched our new site. Expecting this, we'd hired people to handle the volume. We also had a staff on board all summer helping us get everything ready.

Of course, now that we are live, there are little things that need adjusting. Those things fall onto my plate. Perfectly fine.

What I did not account for was how hard it would be to do my regular job along with all the fix it jobs. 

Perfectly ok.

The whole thing has been great. We become more efficient in *this* way which gives us more time *over here*. 

Some of those things take time to set up and test. They just do.

Perfectly ok.

I am running out of hours in the day. I know that I have to dedicate the time NOW to save time down the road. 

I have to admit that it is making me a little bit crazy. 

Even that is perfectly ok.

It's crunch time, so to speak. There is a lot of work to do. The holiday season is approaching fast. We have new fall inventory. New processes. 

Fortunately, we hired someone several weeks ago who is looking like she might actually be my helper. YES. Someone who I could hand off my stuff to and go on vacation without having to bring a laptop. 

Why am I going on about all of this?

Because I couldn't be happier that it is my off-season.

I am struggling to get my workouts in. As of this writing, I still haven't gotten my run done. Now, it's looking like it might be late or not at all (given the workouts that I have tomorrow).

I know that I have full responsibility to myself to get my workouts in.  I know this. I haven't really missed any (today's yet to be decided).

I have to figure out how to deal with this. It's kind of funny because I get to master's swim every tues and thursday with no hesitation. 

It's the OTHER workouts that I do alone. It's not as simple as putting it on my schedule. Trust me. I've done that.

I get up early to do it but some fire comes up and it needs my attention immediately I end up missing my *appointment* with myself then I get hungry, and I can't workout because I have to eat in order to work out but then it gets later and I've never really liked working out in the evenings so I don't know how to plan for it then it's time for dinner and it's some spicy Indian dish and I can't workout after doing that so it gets late then I can't workout because if I do it too late then I can't sleep.


Sometimes I just think, maybe I should just aim for 1 workout a day (on the insane days). I can easily prioritize by the simple fact that I have a half marathon coming up. 

Running would be the priority.

There's something bigger here though. 

I have friends and family that assume it is easy for me to set the alarm at 4am every day and get my workouts in.

What they don't realize is that I'm no super-scheduling-super-mom-super-business-owner-type. No one can live up to that standard. The Super-woman of the 80's was bullsh!t. 

It takes work. It takes consistency. It takes knowing when you are at a breaking point. 

Only YOU know when you can push on and when you are simply looking for excuses to skip a workout. 

I'm not at my breaking point. I just need to figure out how to get the priorities done each day. 

I'm a list person. Each day, I am going to write my list of the the things that MUST get done. For the fires that pop up during the day? I have to be honest about what is TRULY an emergency and what is something that is merely *important*.

Here's my commitment to myself:
1.) I will get at LEAST one workout in per day.
2.) It will be the first thing I do every day after breakfast.
3.) I will not allow myself to be pulled into anyone else's stress. In fact, my stress level seems to determine everyone else's stress level. I will remain calm and accept that there will be days where not everything gets done. 
4.) I will not be baited into missing a workout for issues disguised as emergencies.
5.) I will set my alarm to ring at me to remind me to go do my workout.

I will accept my new normal.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Beast


Have you done them?

If not, you're in for a TREAT.

A TREAT, I tell you.

They are ugly, hard. And, they make me make weird noises that sound something like a cross between growl and a, I attacking gorilla? 

go ahead, experiment.

No, you will NEVER understand until you do them.

The tabata workout is about 30-35 minutes long. 

Last night, Beast starts in on me, "We're going to get up early, right? We're gonna KNOCK OUT those tabata's right? Give us plenty of time to recover before Master's. Let's do this. 5:30am! SET THE ALARM"

You know Beast.  

Beast is that little voice inside you that says you can accomplish INCREDIBLE things. YOU ARE AMAZING AND CANNOT BE BEAT.

Of course, Beast is a GREAT motivator, but sometimes she's not the brightest bulb in the box.

For example, she doesn't know how I think. I'm thinking, "tabata's are big and scary. They make me grunt like an attacking gorilla. Let's have coffee first."

5:30 rolls by

and 6:30

and 7:30

and finally 8:30 rolls around. 

I HAVE to get on the bike now or I won't be done in time for Master's. 

My INGENIUS plan of pushing tabatas later and later didn't make them easier.

It just meant more people were around.

So when I left the room, I saw the sign someone had posted outside the room:

You will hear noises.
Do not be alarmed.
Smile and Move along.

Monday, September 24, 2012

For every bad day, there's an angry Eminem song

Have you ever noticed that?

No matter how bad your day/week was, there's ALWAYS an Eminem song that makes your upper lip curl up, fist pump at the sky and yell out: F&$% YEA M&$^A F&@$%#!




Normally, I don't write about work. Since it IS what led up to my Eminem explosion during my long run yesterday, I think I should explain.

I had a bad week. A really bad week. It all started a month ago. YEA....let THAT soak in a bit, but it culminated last week.

So much so that at one point, I slammed down my NOTEBOOK. YEA, MY NOTEBOOK! (Take THAT desk), and I walked out. 

Long hours, frustration, being pissed off, not getting much sleep resulted in a less than happy Tea over the weekend. 

I don't get mad very easily, so trust me. It was a DOOSIE.

Sunday rolls around, and I'm pretty mad at life. I'm mad at coach for the STUPID workouts....for no other reason (at this point) than I'm still just plain tired. I'm mad because I can't stop eating. (Although, I've never really gotten mad at eating before). I'm mad because I have to go do something stupid. I don't know what. I just know that I'll have to do something stupid at some stupid point during the stupid day, but first I have to do this stupid long run in the middle of the stupid day when it's stupid hot because I didn't get up in the stupid morning because I'm so stupid tired because of this stupid shipping problem!

I never said my anger made sense.

My long run was supposed to be 9ish miles, but I made it about 6.75 before I placed a rescue call.

I chose to run the hilly route.

My legs were tired. (Not as tired as the previous week but tired).

I didn't want to run.

I'm only running because of that stupid half marathon.

I'll never get fast.

I hate running.

I'll always be stupid slow.

This is stupid. 

I hate running.

It's hot out here.

I hate this.

I hate running.

I hate hills.

I hate heat.

I hate running.


EMINEM came on.

Yea buddy.


And all of a sudden, I had a friend who was suffering with me.

My lip curled up.

I started head bobbing.

fist pumping. 

I had to go to that place to get to this place.

We'll walk this road together.

That right Em. You sing the TRUTH.

And everything became right in the world.

I'd exhausted myself.

I couldn't be angry anymore.

I was disappointed that I just couldn't go on anymore, but I'll live to run another day.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Know your why

For the past few years, I've talked to people who were new to triathlon. Immediately, (many....most) of them say that they want to do Ironman.

I would always say to them, "Before taking on that distance, make sure you know why you are doing it. Because it will be called into question during your training."

The most amazing thing happened today.

I figured out my "why". 

It happened in the most unusual way. 

Someone that I look up to, sent me an email asking me several seemingly harmless questions.

In answering her questions, I recognized something in myself. 

I have wanted do Ironman. I've written about it. I've also listed fears that I've had. Deep down inside, I knew everything that I said was a cover for something else.

I never knew "why" I wanted to go back. I just had this feeling that I needed/wanted to go back and do it again.

I don't have any need to prove anything. I don't have any need to hit a certain time. 

Because I didn't really know why the desire was there, I kept putting it off. 

Every time I think I get closer to my "goal", I change it, so I can put it off longer.

"When I hit 6 hours, I'll do ironman"

then there was

"When I hit 5:45, I'll do Ironman."

then finally,

"When I hit 5:30, I'll do Ironman."

All I kept doing was delaying my decision to register. 

So, I'm going through and answering these questions that she laid out, and I realized that the reason I want to do Ironman again is to close the circle.


It just so happens that when I was going through my IM training last time, there was also some really bad stuff that was going on. I realized today that all of that stuff is behind me.  I've "known" it was behind me, but sometimes it takes a long time to recover emotionally from a series of downward spirals. 

Here's the irony. It all started at right around the time of Ironman, but Ironman didn't cause everything to happen. They weren't even related. 

In my mind, it all started with Ironman, so now it can end with Ironman. 

Up until today, all my excuses up until now were just that EXCUSES, like placeholders until I figured it out. Little did I know, all it took was for a friend to ask the right question at the right time. 

I'm not afraid now. I'm ready to do it. I know my why. I won't change my goals anymore. No, I'm not ready right this minute, but I can realistically set goals.....and maybe not drive coach crazy anymore.

When I say I want to have a positive experience, you'll have to trust me that it has nothing to do with the training or the race itself. It has nothing to do with finishing or going sub 15 or 14 or 13. 

It has everything to do with closing the circle.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


A RIDICULOUS thing happened. 

At Master's a few weeks ago, we did pacing workouts to get ready for off-season training. 

I had my fastest swims to date, coming in at a 1:20 per 100m. 

I mentioned this to COACH, and of course he says: Your goal for the winter is 1:10.



Let that sink in for a minute.

It's not EXACTLY EASY to go from 1:20 to 1:10 in an off season.

Of course, I'm NOT going to say anything because the last thing I want to do is end up holding plank for 5 minutes.

Smart a$$, YES.

Stupid, NO.

Fast forward to Master's today. 

IT'S MAKING ME CRAZY. Since the season has ended, my form is all jacked up. I feel like a beginner all over again.

Master's Coach decided that since only a few of us showed up, she'd treat us to a SPECIAL kind of punishment

4 x 50's: fast. take the average speed.


4 x 100's AT THE CRIMINALLY INSANE 50M PACE. If you swam a 1:00 50, you'd had to swim a 2:00 100. Got it?




Can I say something?


Whatever happened to the good ole days of stuffing my face with pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and sitting back to watch Netflix movies?

This is SO NOT GOOD.

Back to my MAIN point.....this swimming thing is starting to get hard. Really hard. It's been pretty easy for me up to this point. I worked on form. Pushed the pace here and there, but that was it.

That thought. That little thought RIGHT THERE....made me tumble down into thought oblivion.

Running is always a struggle. Not in a bad way, but of the 3....I know when I'm working hard on the run. It's hard for me. When I finally hit my running goals, no one will be able to say that I didn't work for it. 

I've never experienced that on the swim (until now) or ever on the bike.  

WHAT IF, I put the energy that I put into my running into my swim and bike?

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. (The best quote, and I wish I knew who said it).

I'm not gonna lie. I have some talent on the bike, but shouldn't that alone drive me to be the BEST that I can possibly be on the bike? Not just trying to be #1? Shouldn't I strive for more than that? AND the swim? Come on, not everyone can jump in the pool and just knock out a 1:20. I know that. 

This was my point when I posted on Twitter about dreaming big and not allowing anyone to tell you that you can't accomplish something.

SOMEONE did....sort of....snicker....when I told them about my 5:30 half iron goal. 

As if.



ME. The person that (for years) wasn't just last in my AG, but often times one of the last to finish.

I am not particularly interested in what most people think about my goals. 

But let me break it down for you.

35 minute swim (mission accomplished)

2:40 bike (mission accomplished)

2:10 run.

throw in transitions


Or as Coach says: When you're fast on the bike, you can go slower on the run.

And just fyi: I'm not far off from that 2:10 run. 

And I'm still 2 years off from the next 70.3.

And you can bet, whether or not I hit 5:30, I'm going to be damn happy with my finish, because it's going to be the biggest PR this side of the Mississippi.

In other words: When you come in bottom 10% for so long, YOU CAN'T BE DISAPPOINTED. You just can't.

So when asked "What will happen if you don't hit 5:30? Are you still signing up for Ironman?"

Me: Hell yea. I'll just work a little harder, better, smarter.

I'm certainly not going to lock myself in a closet and cry about hitting 5:52 (remember? That was my FIRST GOAL)

People are strange.

Fortunately, their fears don't stop me from reaching my goals. 

Regarding my Long Run

Sunday's Post

Today was my first *real* long run of my half marathon training. I really enjoyed it. I did another 8 mile run a couple of weeks back, but I was still in tri-mode. 

I had a few thoughts:

1.) I might need to work on my nutrition. I did 1 GU at the start, and 1 each 30 minutes. I didn't run out of energy as much as I was starting to feel it in my legs. However, it might not have been a nutrition issue (see #2). I have to learn this all over again. I used to take in too many calories, but I did it because I had severe anemia and didn't know. I'd run out of energy and think "I need to fuel more". Now, I have that problem fixed, but I don't know what I'm supposed to take in. Again, see #2 because this might not have been a nutrition issue. 

2.) Prior to my long run, my Saturday workout included a 1 hour LT bike workout + a 2.5 mile run. I had a great bike and run on Saturday. I noticed on Sunday, right from the start, my legs were a little heavier than normal. At first, I thought it was because I was carrying the extra weight of the water. Then, I started thinking that this is the first time in over a year that I've done a hard Saturday (bike/run) and then a longer run. I probably need to get used to it.
3.) I missed my pace (that was in my training log), but again I think this had to do with several things. 1.) I ran when it was hotter outside because the race is in Florida. My heart rate monitor kept beeping at me to slow down, but I felt fine. So, at mile 3, I decided to turn it off and just run as I felt. The result was that the first three miles ended up being quite a bit slower than I think I could have run. 2.) My house is at the top of a 2 mile long hill. My pace always drops off for the last 2 miles. The GOOD NEWS is that it's not dropping off as much as it used to. I was VERY HAPPY!

4.) I am enjoying running longer again. That's a really good thing. I had started to hate it. Now, I look forward to it. I'm really going to have to work on not going too slow because that's how I have always run. It will take me a little while to get out of the "plugger" mentality and to overcome the desire to just stop and walk for awhile. (I do stop when I take Gels or when I take water, but it's only for a few seconds.) In the past, I would just stop running and walk for a long time. Baby steps.

I'm going to call today's run a success. I felt really good about it. I know I have a lot of work to do, but I can see where I struggle. I think doing the short races with a few longer races mixed in is a really good idea for me. I'm not quite ready to jump into doing half marathons, but a 5k feels super short after running +8 miles.

7.7 miles in 1:30 = 11:40(?) pace. Goal pace was 11:15.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

After my last two posts, I got a rather interesting email from someone we shall call Anonymous.

Because that's how the email came through.

Apparently, my comments were rude, insensitive, and I *have* no clue.

Which of course made me go all.....

sad face


Most of my friends...because really only my friends even read this blog....know me well enough and have enough history to understand where my comments came from.

STILL, I figured that I would entertain an explanation.

and NOT an apology.

The primary concern of ANONYMOUS was that I really incredibly rude to woman at the gym.



1.) This woman who plans on doing her first triathlon is a PITA. She is a snob and will say whatever she can to tear other people down.

As far as I'm concerned, if she doesn't like me because of my response. I have no problem with that.

regardless of what type of person she is.....


The point of my post was that EVERYONE refers to themselves as being SLOW.  PEOPLE WHO RUN WAY FASTER THAN me.

I'm tired of it. 

You know what. I'm fast on the bike. You know what else? It has taken me a long time to get here.

So for me to LIE and say "oh I'm so SLOW"....I'm not going to do it.

When did it become a crime or when did it become RUDE TO SAY YOU ARE GOOD AT SOMETHING.

If you are reading this, and you ARE faster than me. THEN GOOD FOR YOU, BUT IT DOESN'T MAKE ME SLOW.  IT JUST MAKES YOU FASTER.

For goodness sakes Anonymous, LIGHTEN UP.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Attitude Adjustment

I got to go to the gym today, which was GLORIOUS. I love love off season strength training.

While I was there, I was talking to a woman who is a runner, thinking about doing her first triathlon.

She asks me, "Are you fast? How fast do you go?"  

"Are you fast?" I think to myself, "Fast? Compared to who? Compared to the pro's? Fast compared to the coach potato streaming season 3 of Mad Men from netflix?"

I chewed on this question a moment, wondering how do I respond? 

%&*# this! I'm not playing this *slow* game anymore. Any and every triathlete will answer that question with...."I'm a slow runner or I'm a slow cyclist".

I'm putting a stop to it.

"Yea. I'm fast." I said, "I go really fast."

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Race Lessons

I had a race yesterday.I've been trying to figure out the best way to write my race report.

I struggled with different ideas because I had some weird things happen. I didn't want to write a report that led people to say "Wow, you really *toughed* it out". 

Because I didn't see it as *toughing* it out. I was prepared. Whatever happened on race day, I was prepared to handle it. I felt like the race was a huge success, regardless of the outcome.

I started thinking about what lead to this success. I can tell you that if this race happened 2 years ago, I would have been crying on the bike. I might not have quit physically, but I would have quite mentally. 

How did I get here?

I *know* a lot about triathlon. My first race was in 2005. I KNOW everything. 

But I didn't learn anything until I signed up with Coach.Everything I am about to say, I knew it all. It just took me awhile to learn it.

  1. You need a coach. Trust me on this. When I started doing tri's, I really didn't have the money to hire a coach. I was starting my company. Every bit of cash went into that. I KNOW, money can be a deterrent. Once you sign up, there are a few things you should know.
    • Most coaches offer many different types of training plans for all different budgets. You *can* afford it.  Shop around, talk to other athletes. Find out what they are doing.

    • Don't lie to your coach. Coach is there to help you. If you *complete* workouts that you didn't actually do. That doesn't help you. I admit. There have been weeks that were personally challenging. I looked at my plan, and I just wanted to pretend I got it all done. Instead, I wrote an email to my coach explaining what was going on. I don't miss many workouts. He knows that and understood what I was going through.

    • Don't be embarrassed about your abilities. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Your coach has seen it all and has a recipe for success. When I signed up with my coach, I was running 5ks at around a 12:00 pace. Set your ego aside. You're a team, not competitors. 

    • MOST IMPORTANT: DON'T DOUBT YOUR COACH. Don't add in a workout. Don't skip a workout (because you don't like it). Coach put the workout together based on your abilities. As you improve, your workouts will change too. The first time, he put mile repeats on my plan, I thought "No way. I can't hit that speed." The day came, and I just did the workout. It was THAT day that I realized that he knows me better than I know myself.

    • CUSS, yell out, let it out. This isn't supposed to be easy. Research has shown that people who curse while experiencing pain, can handle MORE pain than someone who doesn't curse. Let your freak flag fly. (Just make sure your coach knows it not directed at him/her. It's a COPING mechanism).
That's the warm fuzzy stuff.

If you found a good coach, you're also going to get a reality check. You're going to find out that you're not unique. You're going to find out that you're not ready for a certain distance.


Yes, you should get along. No, you don't have to be friends. 

You have to respect Coach's knowledge. It goes WAY beyond what you read in Triathlete mag and Lava.

Here's what I learned over the past 9 months.
Coach rule #1: Race often. Race as much as you can. So, I did. The pay-off was yesterday.  

I can't overstate the importance of racing often. At every race, SOMETHING is going to happen. Every race. Racing regularly prepares you for anything. It forces you to become creative. You WILL forget something. How will you handle it? I think this is even more important than learning how to pace because the mental battles are the hardest ones to overcome.

Yesterday's race:

I was late getting to transition because there was some traffic issue. A drive that should have taken me an hour, took me 1:20. When I got to transition, I needed to get set up as quickly as possible, so I would have time to get my warm ups done. 

Coach Rule #2: DO YOUR WARM UPS.

Over the months of practicing different lengths of warm ups, I've learned that I need really long warm up times. Run for almost 30 minutes, swim for that long, the bike, I'm usually go to go around 20 minutes. 

As I was setting up transition, I noticed 2 things very quickly:
1.) I forgot my aero bottle cap.
2.) I forgot my towel.

Well, the towel, no big deal. I've forgotten that many times this year. (Race often).

The aero bottle cap. That's a little bigger issue. It's going to be HOT. I have to have 2 bottles on the bike. Think think think. I could put a bottle in the behind the seat in the bottle cage. It'll work, but it's not ideal for me for a sprint. I want to go fast, and I'm not completely adept at grabbing a bottle from behind me. 

Would a water bottle cap work? No. It's too big.

I look in my bag. There's a swim cap. I bet I can stretch the swim cap over the top of the water bottle. Perfect fit. 

Coach Rule #3: Race Often

Yes, I know. It's rule #1 again. As I mentioned, something will happen at every race. The more you race, the better prepared you will be to handle something. I've dealt with cramping, losing nutrition, poor pacing, forgetting equipment, extreme heat, etc. etc. etc.

Prior to the race starting, I realized that I was getting stomach cramps. They were only mild during swim warm up, and they came out of no where. I've cramped during the run. But at the start of a race? This was new. I otherwise felt fine. I grabbed a gu and a bottle of water and chugged it down. 

It didn't help. I needed more, but my wave was getting ready to start.

The swim was uneventful. Courtney and I swam side by side the whole time. (Uh, sorry if I groped you, but that dude from the previous wave...doing the back float....I couldn't get away from him!)

The cramping was gone during the swim. As soon as I stood to get out of the water, it hit me full force. Really glad, I got the aero bottle thing figured out. I could drink and drink and drink.

As we exited T1, clouds really moved in.

It was no surprise when our 95 degree race start turned into a downpour with really terrible wind. I've done a lot of runs in storms. This was the first time I've ever raced on the bike in such bad conditions.

And I was scared.

And the bike course had been changed, just this week, from 17 miles to 23.6 miles.

I'm leaving the res, make the turn on to the main road, and the rain hits. It's really coming down. For the most part, the first few miles are uphill. 

Coach Rule #4: Take the first 1-4 miles easy on the bike.

Under normal circumstances, I would go hard from the start of the bike. I thought back a few months ago. I remembered what I had learned from to pace. It's raining. I've never raced in the rain. Take it slow. Learn how to handle your bike in the rain. 

Today will not be a PR. Safety first. But, it will be the best that I can give today.

Coach Rule #5: Adapt to the environment.

After about 4 miles, I started feeling pretty good riding in the rain. I thought I could pick up the speed. 

So, I did.

We turned on to Nevada. The rain was down to a drizzle. The road seemed mostly dry here. THANK GOODNESS.

Then, the wind hit. I have NEVER ridden in a crosswind like that. 

I read once that in a drunk driving accident, the reason the drunk driver usually has fewer injuries is because they are unaware of what is happening and therefore, they don't tense up.  On the other hand, the victims see the accident and tense up.

I could no longer be aero. I couldn't control my bike. I could barely control my bike upright. But I was tense. I knew that I wouldn't be able to react quickly if I was tight. I focused on loosening up my shoulders and arms.

Coach Rule #6: Focus

I stared straight ahead. Normally in a race, I like to choose a rider ahead of me and calculate how long it will take for me to pass them. 

Today, it was all about safety. I see the riders ahead of me getting pushed around by the wind. All I could think about was that we were all in this together.  We all need to get through this, safely.

(You might want to skip this next section because it contains TMI).

I'd been on my bike for about 20 minutes. I needed to take in my nutrition.

As soon as I took a drink, it came right back up.

On the other hand, with the wind, I'm REALLY glad I came up with an aero bottle lid. There was NO WAY, I could take one hand off my bars and reach backward. (RACE OFTEN)

But throwing up, that's not good. Over the course of the bike. I tried 4 or 5 times to get my fuel in. Water was fine, but that was it. 

Water it is. I will deal with the run when I get there. I can ride with the cramps.

Coach Rule #7: One event at a time.

We finally get to turn.

I tell you, I was NEVER so happy to ride into a headwind, even a headwind that has you riding uphill.

Coach Rule #8: DO your drill work.

I've done drill work in the past, but I always did it half-ass. I never committed to it until this year. 

High cadence work. One Legged drills. DO THEM. 

Basic cycling info: cycling is about the legs, not the feet. It's about going in a circle, not top and bottom of a pedal stroke. If you know what I'm talking about, that sentence will make perfect sense. If you haven't gotten there yet, it won't. I know because it didn't make sense to me until this year.

Like I said, I know everything about triathlon, but I didn't learn anything until this year.

Headwind. Uphill. The best strategy that I could employ: drop the gear and spin fast. If I mash, I won't be able to run.

The last, maybe 4 miles were pretty uneventful. The wind wasn't as bad. I wasn't sure if I was on a flat or a slight incline. I looked at my garmin, I realized that I had averaged 20mph. With 4ish miles left, I set a goal to do whatever I had to, in order to maintain that 20mph. I hadn't seen another woman in my AG. I had no idea where they were. But I had a feeling that if I could maintain 20, I might be able to be first.

I pulled into T2. That's when I noticed, there were no other bikes on my rack. I might have just gotten my first, FIRST on the bike. 

"If you're not first, you're last"--Talledega Nights

I hopped off the bike. My right leg seized up. #&$(@(*&%$&#*! It hurt. I didn't have any luck keeping nutrition down on the bike, but I was going to force it down now. I grabbed a bottle of water and GU. I chugged both down and started running.

On the run, the cramps were by far the worst. As soon as I started running, I knew that it would not be a PR, but it didn't matter. I was going to keep running. I wasn't going to walk. I knew cramps can hurt. I know they can be debilitating, but I wasn't there yet. (RACE OFTEN). I had really bad cramps during a super hot race early in the season. Fortunately, yesterday's race had aid stations all over the place. At every station, I grabbed two cups of water and walked.

I saw Courtney hit the turnaround. She smiled and said something. I think I grunted and grimaced back. And that's how friendships are born...a few grunts and grimaces. 

By the time I got to the 2nd mile, I was running like Forrest Gump when he had the braces on his legs, but I was so focused on running that I didn't feel it so much. I didn't notice other runners. I didn't see the finish line coming up.

I kept thinking "This is it. Your last tri of the season." I don't know why it felt so epic this year. Maybe it's because in the past, my *last tri* was also my 2nd tri of the season. 

I've had PR's at every single race this year. That's unbelievable to me. 
On a day that, in the past, would have caused me so much stress, I was calm and focused.

It's not that I OVERCAME or CONQUERED or anything like that. I was just prepared. Whatever the day handed me, I was ready for it. It's going to rain? Fine. I'll slow down. Wind? Ok. I can relax and spin. Cramps. No big deal. Just keep moving forward.

You might think I'm crazy. This might have been my most successful race of the year. 

What's next?

I head into my off season now. I have two goals that I know I will hit next year. I want to go sub :30 in the 5k (of a tri), and I want to hit an avg speed of 23mph on the bike during either a sprint or an olympic race. I'm very close to both of those.

I think it was a good thing for me to end the year with a race that was not a PR. 


Because now I'm biting at the bit to hit those goals, and I have all off season to get there. 

As my Mike says, "Next year, you're going to be a handful."