Choo Cheering, Here I Come!

This weekend is IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga.  You may remember that I very excitedly registered for this race back in September.  Clearly, I’m not racing.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not going.

I’m headed to Chattanooga this weekend to cheer on my teammates and a whole bunch of strangers (who really are just friends you haven’t met yet).  I’m really looking forward to the weekend.  I thought I would be dreading it a little bit, what with not being able to race, but I think because I’m clearly still in no shape to race (or at least run a half marathon), it’s less of a struggle.  And even if my hip were in good shape, just taking a month off and then getting into race shape in less than two months would have been a bit of a nightmare.  Definitely high stress and hard on my body.

I’m glad I made the decision to still go to Chattanooga.  Sure, I could totally use the money I’m spending on accommodations to help fix the dent in my budget from all of the medical expenses, but I think if I stayed home, I would spend the weekend being sad that I wasn’t there and feeling sorry for myself for being injured (plus splitting a house with three other ladies means it’s not terribly cost-prohibitive).

I’m also really, really excited to go cheer.  So many of my Coeur and Collective Beat teammates are going to be at the race, many of whom I haven’t yet met in person.  I’m so excited to give so many hugs.  And of course, to scream at strangers on the street for most of the day.  I have my cowbell packed.  My goal is to drive the people around me absolutely crazy with my antics.  I think I can do it.

I’m planning to be all over Instagram with updates from race weekend, so if you’re interested, make sure you’re following me!

 

 

Training has officially begun

Kanenori / Pixabay

So my first race of the season is in 7 weeks, and I’m finally officially back in full training mode.  Structured workouts, following a plan, the whole kit and caboodle.

No, I don’t think you should only train for an olympic triathlon for 7 weeks.  But hey, I live on the edge.

All along, I’ve been saying that my only goal for Williamsburg is to finish the race in as little pain as possible.  So if that means walking the entire 10k run, so be it.  However, I’m starting to mentally set some race goals.

The time limit for the race is 4:30.  Given my race performance there over the past two years, I’m not terribly worried about that, though you had better believe it’s going to be on my mind until I get off the bike and find out how much time I have left.  If all goes as planned, I should be on the run with at least 2 hours to spare.  I can absolutely walk a 10k in 2 hours.

But the hope is that I won’t totally be walking.  I’m slowly (slowly) easing my way back into running.  So slowly that my next walk/run workout involves exactly five 30 second easy jogs.  It’s going to be a far cry from last year’s PR, but I’m okay with that.  I’m excited to get back out there and be able to race something!

I’ll be honest – I know it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows.  It’s hard when you have a setback like this, especially since last season was so phenomenal.  Reframing my expectations means everything.  This year is just a bit of a stepback year, time for recovery and rebuilding, and then next year, I can once again attack the course with full strength.

Race Insurance – Worth it?

stevepb / Pixabay

In a couple of weeks, I will be at IM 70.3 Chattanooga to cheer on my friends (and all the strangers).  I was initially registered to race, but obviously, with my body falling  apart upon turning 37 (kidding… sorta), I had to pull out.

Thankfully, I had purchased the race insurance, so I got my money back.  I had another few races that I also had to pull out of, but hadn’t purchased insurance for those, so I was just out the money.

I’ve seen a few questions out there about how IRONMAN race insurance works, so I thought I would share my experience.  In short, in my opinion, race insurance is absolutely worth it.

IRONMAN Race Insurance is provided by Allianz, a pretty well-known travel insurance company.  If you’ve purchased travel insurance before, it’s possible you’ve had an Allianz policy.  For the 70.3, the insurance cost $40 and covered the full $297.00 race registration, which included the processing fees.  Basically, if I had to pull out of the race for a covered reason, I would get everything back save for the $40 fee.

When it comes to a 70.3 or 140.6, most of us are usually thinking about injury.  If I get injured, can I pull out of the race without penalty.  And the answer is yes, assuming you can get a doctor to fill out the form.  But there are a lot of other covered circumstances as well, including:

  • travel delay
  • death of a family member (or yourself)
  • job relocations or layoffs
  • jury duty
  • vehicle issues, including traffic accidents

Nuclear contamination is specifically not covered.  In case you were wondering.

Pregnancy is a big question mark, and I will say that the information isn’t clear in the policy as to whether you are covered if you get pregnant after you register for the race.  The way it’s phrased is that pregnancy is a covered condition if “your physician advises you to not attend the event for which the ticket was purchased.”  However, later in the document, it says that normal pregnancy is not covered.  I suspect this is because this type of policy is a general event ticket policy and not specific to a race.  For example, say you had event protection for a big concert and you found out you were pregnant.  In general, for a normal pregnancy, you could likely attend a concert at five months pregnant.  But your doctor may not want you doing a 70.3 at five months pregnant.  I’m not the expert, of course, so I would recommend calling the insurance company before signing up.  I have heard from friends who have used the insurance option upon getting pregnant, so that’s a promising sign.

Once I knew I wouldn’t be able to race, I started looking at the insurance website to find out how the refund process worked.  I have to admit, their online forms never seemed to work for me, which was a great frustration.  I emailed their help desk and was quickly sent a copy of all the forms I needed to submit and told to simply email them back once I had them filled out.

In terms of the medical information, I just had to tell them what the general reason was, and I had a simple form for my doctor to fill out.  It wasn’t extensive at all, and definitely didn’t involve sharing any of my medical records or test results.  Basically, if your doctor says you can’t race and will sign the form, that’s good enough.

My claim was paid out within 2 weeks of having submitted all of the paperwork.  With the exception of the website being completely wonky, the process was pretty simple.  While you may decide that race insurance isn’t worth it for every race (it all depends on the cost of the insurance and if the race company will let you defer or transfer your registration), but for something expensive like an IRONMAN 70.3 or 140.6, I think it’s definitely worth it.

Is it okay to cheat if everyone’s doing it?

This past weekend was IRONMAN Texas.  Huge, huge race.  I was tracking a number of friends who were racing, and naturally, got a bit worried when I saw one teammate disappear from the tracking.  Not long after, her husband disappeared from tracking.  Obviously, we were very worried that she had been injured.  And we were right.

I’m not going to tell her story here, but thankfully, she will be okay.  However, what happened was that she got surrounded by a peloton (a pack of cyclists riding in a group) and when one person swerved, she was crashed into and knocked over.

Bike accidents happen in races.  They happen when not racing.  But the problem is that these races aren’t draft legal, meaning that riders are supposed to be six bike lengths apart.  If you are a full six bike lengths apart (or even only three bike lengths), you clearly can’t be riding in a pack.  And yet the scenes from IRONMAN Texas showed a lot of people riding in these packs.

 

There are huge speed benefits to riding in a pack.  It’s simple physics.  Someone else is cutting through the air.  If you are drafting behind another person, you actually have an easier time riding.  It’s why in the Tour de France, teams work together in packs where they can to keep their riders strong.  It takes a lot of skill to learn to ride in a pack.  And you certainly shouldn’t be doing pack riding on an aero bike because you don’t have the quick control.

That’s why it’s not “legal” to ride in a pack in most triathlons (some are designated as draft legal races, but that’s a whole different event).  And yet, at IMTX, the photos, the traffic cameras, they all showed huge packs of people.

Yes, it’s possible to get swallowed up in a pack, but it’s pretty clear to see who was trying to get out of the packs when you look at the videos.  But don’t worry – no one was unfairly penalized by the officials.  Why?  Because there were no officials out there.  Pretty easy to cheat when no one is watching you.

I’ve even seen some riders defending their drafting.  “Well, everyone else was doing it, so it would unfair for me to not take advantage.”  And yes.  You would get a speed advantage if you drafted.  But is it right to take that advantage and cheat, even if you know you won’t get in trouble for it?

The riders aren’t the only ones at fault here.  I think a lot of the fault lies with IRONMAN – they need to re-think how they start their races again to help space out the athletes.  They are also likely accepting more athletes than a course can hold.  Most importantly, where were the officials?  Why were they not out penalizing people?  Think about how much traffic slows down when people see a cop sitting on the side of the road.  People think “Oh, I shouldn’t break the law, I might get caught.”  The same result would happen here.  “Hey, there are officials, I had better not ride so close.”

I’m proud of all of the athletes who made a point to not ride in the packs, who said “Hey, I need to follow the rules.”  Racing clean is about more than just doping – it’s about not taking any advantages that are against the rules.  Maybe some of those racers ended up lower in the results, but they can hold their head high, knowing that they respected the race.

Doing the right thing isn’t always easy.  But it’s always important, even if you think no one notices.

April Mileage Update

Another month, another mileage update.  It’s pretty clear that I’ve not been doing a lot of blogging lately.  It’s mainly because I don’t feel like I have all that much to say in terms of training, but also because work has been insane and the last thing I want to do when I get home is get back on my computer.

I’m still working with my physical therapist on my hip.  The best thing is that for the most part, I’m not in pain on a day-to-day basis.  I’m still not running, but I have been doing a lot of biking.  This is a big difference from December and January, where I wasn’t running but still had a lot of pain.  So the strength work I’m doing is definitely helping.  It’s just going to be a slow process.  But that’s okay.

I’ve been trying to do more walking now that the weather is nice, and this weekend, I did try to take a few running steps, just to see what happened.  It was maybe only ten steps, but it didn’t hurt.  I certainly didn’t want to push it, and I don’t think I can call ten steps running, but just a few weeks ago, a few steps caused immediate pain.  So this is certainly improvement.

I didn’t end up completing Zwift’s Tour of Watopia and I’m 100% okay with that.  Some of those workouts were just too much.  Sure, I could have completed, but I didn’t want to ride my bike for 4+ hours in the middle of the week.  Still, it was fun to participate and I need to do more organized Zwift workouts.

April Totals
Swim – 3.5 miles
Bike – 217 miles
Run – 0 miles

I’m looking forward to getting back to more regimented training.  I said all along that I was going to wait until May to really get back to formal training, and well, it’s May, so it’s time.  Still not sure if I’m going to be doing this coached or on my own, but either way, I need to set a routine and stick to it.

And actually go to the pool.  Which I have not been doing as faithfully as I would like to.

2018 Totals
Swim – 13.8 miles
Bike – 650 miles
Run – 4 miles
(one of these things is not like the other…)