Debating the 2017 Season

ironman-20160925-0045For the first time in a long time, I’ve hit November and don’t have a big race planned.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a few races already scheduled (Donna, Rev 3 Williamsburg Oly) and a few more that I’m hoping to get into (Cherry Blossom, Army Ten Miler), but I don’t have a goal race yet.

I’m up in the air about doing a 70.3 this year, and a big part of that is scheduling.  I want to pick a good race, but I also want to make sure that it fits in with the other things I already have scheduled (family trip, and a friend’s wedding, date TBD).  I can race anytime, but big events and trips definitely come first.

I really enjoyed the training this year.  It was hard, but I liked it.  It wasn’t like marathon training where I just felt like I was running all. the. time.  It did take up a lot of time, but it wasn’t time I dreaded.  I just wished I had more time for the other things I wanted to do.

Now that I know what I’m doing with a 70.3 and how my body will react, I can really set goals.  I can really work on improvement.  Before this year, I think my longest bike ride was about 50 miles, and it was a day long adventure with a lot of breaks.  This year, I topped that many, many times.  Suddenly, a 40 mile ride was a stepback week.  So mentally, I think the next season will be easier.

But having a rebuilding year wouldn’t be so bad either.  Step back, really work on short distances, focus on dropping some weight and improving my speed.

So it’s something I’ll have to debate over the next few months.  A big part of it is just going to be scheduling.  I’m not just going to do any race – I want it to be the right race with the right timing.  I have some ideas.  We’ll just see where I land.

The Internet Bullies are At It Again

So it’s Wednesday, which is usually a workout recap day for me, but something happened on the internet yesterday that I wanted to talk about.  The internet bullies came out in full force.  I wasn’t their target, but that doesn’t make me any less angry and disappointed about what happened.

To briefly summarize:

A woman who ran Augusta 70.3 (who I had “met” in a Facebook group and who seems pretty darn nice) posted in a Facebook group about an experience she had.  She was wearing her Augusta finisher’s gear and a stranger came up to her and told her that it was inappropriate for people who didn’t do a race to wear finisher’s gear.  She considers herself a “bigger triathlete” so I guess this person didn’t think she had the right look to have finished a 70.3.

Does this look like a triathlete? Yes, because I'm finishing a triathlon.

Does this look like a triathlete? Yes, because I’m finishing a triathlon.

That’s a feeling a lot of triathletes have.  “I’m too big to do this.”  Sure, it’s easier to bike up hills if you’re carrying less weight.  It’s part of the reason I’m working to drop some pounds – I want to get faster.  Does it mean that I can’t do it at my current weight?  Nope.  Does it mean that I couldn’t do it 20 pounds heavier?  Nope.  So this woman wanted to share her story, share her frustration, and also her pride at having finished the race.

For the most part, people were friendly, congratulating her for having a good comeback to the guy, applauding her pushing through and finishing.

Then someone decided to go look up her finishing time.  (This is an a**hole move to begin with, let’s be honest.)  Turns out, she was an official DNF at Augusta.  Different race companies have different rules, but for IRONMAN races, if you finish over 8:30, you are officially a DNF.  They still let you finish, they still give you your finisher’s hat and your medal, but you just don’t have an official time.  Did you then finish the race?  I think so.  Maybe you’re not official, but you covered the distance.  It’s a very different situation from races where they give you a medal even if you get swept.  I suppose technically, you’re not a finisher, but you pushed through, got to the finish line, and now you have a goal to beat.

(As an aside, my personal opinion on this has more to do with what you put into the race.  Did you follow your training plan?  If you got sick or injured and had to miss some training, that happens, of course.  But if you put in the work, and on race day, things just didn’t go your way, you deserve that finish.  If you didn’t train, thought you could just rest on your laurels, and showed up and got an official DNF, well maybe you shouldn’t be getting all the accolades.  Heck, if you didn’t train and finished within the time limits, you probably shouldn’t be getting all the accolades.)

This guy calling her out on the official DNF didn’t stop there.  While plenty of people were still saying she had every right to wear the gear, others started to pile on the negativity.  And then it got worse.  Someone created a Facebook group to make fun of her as well as others, using her finisher picture as the header picture.  But this wasn’t just a private group.  No, they actually invited people they wanted to bully to the group.

People.  How old are we?  This is incredibly childish (actually, I think it’s an insult to children to refer to these idiots as such).  What is the point?  How awful must you feel about yourself to bully someone from behind a keyboard?

The fact that this was happening got shared in a few different Facebook groups I’m in.  And people were supportive and angry at the bullies.  But what makes me sad is that even though there were all these amazing voices out there, those mean voices are still going to cut through for a lot of people.  And some people who are new to triathlon, who are just considering their first race are going to end up stepping away because they don’t look like a “typical” triathlete and don’t want people making fun of them.

The thing is, 99% of the triathletes I have met are AMAZING people.  They don’t care how fast or how slow you are.  At Kona, it’s pretty much tradition that the winners come back out late in the evening to give the last finishers their medals.  You see it happen at other races as well, and it’s not unusual at any distance to see finishers cheering on the people still racing.  Because we all run the same race.

Don’t let the mean people scare you off.  And don’t let the mean people suck you in either.  Making fun of another person is not the way to feel better about yourself.  We’re all better than this.

70.3 Lessons Learned

A week out from my first 70.3 and I’m feeling pretty good.  I’m easing back in to training (except that I have a ten miler next weekend, so that’s not really easing in), and though I wasn’t terribly sore after the race, when I run, I can tell that I put my body through something difficult.

But I have had some time to think about the race and what I learned.

First, training works.  Who knew, right?  But on both the swim and the bike, I was trained for more than the distance, and that was totally worth it.  When you’ve been riding hilly 60+ mile rides, a less hilly 56 miles feels like nothing.  A few weeks out from the race, there was official notification that the course had changed slightly and went from starting with 17 miles of relative flat to 10 miles of relative flat followed by two hills.  This meant a lot of people were panicking about the course.  I wasn’t worried – I knew my training was solid.  I had trained for hills and was ready.  (Of course, if a course goes from completely flat to hilly… well, that’s a different story.)

I learned that wearing my cooling wings is worth it.  For those of you who asked, the white sleeve things I was wearing during the bike and run are Desoto Cool Wings.  I wear the medium.  They keep the sun off of my back and shoulders, and when wet, are supposed to keep you cool.  I’m pretty sure it worked as I never felt like they were making me overheat.  Plus I didn’t get roasted in the full sun.

I did, of course, wear sunscreen, but discovered after the race that on my left leg, my shorts had crept up just enough to leave a pretty line of red.  I do sunscreen under the edges of my kit, but apparently I didn’t go far enough.

One huge key for me was having a plan.  I knew what to eat before the race, when and how to fuel during the race, and I even had planned what water stop to hit on the bike.  I ended up deviating slightly, opting to refill my bottles at the first stop rather than the second, but that didn’t throw me off terribly.    It was so hot that I was drinking more than I anticipated (not a bad thing), but it meant I had to rethink my Tailwind.  I ended up watering down two bottles way more than normal, which worked out okay.

I also decided that I didn’t care about trying to grab nutrition and hydration while on the bike.  I was going to stop and pull over before getting what I needed. No need to stress about trying to grab stuff and saving what, 30 seconds?  Not worth it at the pace I’m moving.

I do need to get different aero hydration.  I use the older style Profile Design bottle and on the rattly roads, it splashed EVERYWHERE. Not an issue if it’s just water, but my poor bike is coated in Tailwind and I’m going to have to have a total bottom bracket overhaul this winter to get it cleaned out.

I tried to fuel as much on the bike as I could because I had a feeling that I wouldn’t want anything on the run.  And I was right.  I had 200 calories of Tailwind in my bottle, and a packet of Clif Bloks with me.  The Tailwind just kept getting watered down as I refilled with cold water, so I eventually got in the 200 calories and only ate one or two of the Clif Bloks. I wasn’t nauseous, but I was hot and tired and nothing sounded good.  Still, I didn’t want to risk hitting a wall either.  So I grabbed a pretzel here and there, nothing big, just little things.  And it seems to have worked.  I finished feeling pretty good.  On a normal half marathon, I might have a total of 300 calories of fuel with me and take in somewhere between 200 and 300 of those calories.   But I’m not starting out totally depleted.

It’s clear that I need to pick up speed on the bike.  My swim is pretty solid.  I’m not first out of the water or anything, and the more I work, the more I will improve, but it was okay.  On the bike however, I was getting passed left and right. Some of that is just the wave starts – I had people way faster than me passing me even though they started later.  But according to the ranks, I also got passed by almost 50 people in my age group.  50 people who started with me passed me.   I’m not saying I need to be a speed demon, but I need to pick that up.  My overall pace was 14.74 mph, including my stops (once for water, once to pee, because I am not peeing on my bike).  I’d like to get that comfortably over 15 for a hilly course.

The run… well, it is what it is.  I think there, I just need to drop a few pounds.  The less I’m carrying, the faster I will run.  I’ve been doing well, dropped about 10 pounds by last January and kept it off until about 3 weeks before the race, when suddenly cookies became an acceptable dinner.  I’ve only put on 3 or 4 pounds, which I’m hoping come off in the next month or so.  But I’d like to slim down a bit so that I have less weight to haul around.  We’re not talking anything drastic, but it seems ridiculous to be thinking about the weight of my actual bike when I could be dropping weight off my body instead.

In the end, my big lesson learned is just to trust my training.  Putting in the work will get you to the finish line.

No really, what is next?

Leunert / Pixabay

I feel like this year, all of my energy has been focused towards late September.  For work, I had a huge project milestone in the middle of the month and a week and a half later, I had Augusta 70.3.

I’m delighted to say that both went better than expected.

But because all of my energy was focused towards these dates, that means that I haven’t done a lot of thinking about what comes next.

When it comes to work, well, that’s pretty easy.  There’s always plenty to do.

But when it comes to training, that’s a bit tougher.  I do have a few upcoming races on my schedule:

Army Ten Miler on October 9 (yes, next weekend)
Space Coast Half Marathon on November 27
And then in 2017, the Donna Half in February

So it’s not like I’ll be spending much time on the couch now that my 70.3 is done.  But it’s time to start thinking about triathlon season for 2017.  I actually do have one race already on my schedule – Rev3 Williamsburg in July.  I’m just not sure what else I want to do.

Escape the Cape has always been a bucket list race.  You jump off a ferry to start.  It sounds INSANE and terrifying, and also amazing.  I like doing things that make people think I’m a bit nuts, I think.

I’m definitely considering another 70.3.  I didn’t hate this one.  There were times that the training was grinding, but what isn’t?  And I’d like to see what a year of training can do.  I really liked Augusta, but I also like the idea of trying a different race.  I really like Rev3 races, so I’m thinking about Rev3 Cedar Point.  Still driving distance (and a bit closer than Augusta) and it’s in September, so the timing’s about the same.

I would like to do the Farm to Fork Fondo in PA again in 2017.  It was so hard but that made it feel like such an accomplishment.

Looking at my race, it’s clear that I have the most room for improvement on my bike.  Clearly, my run could have been better, but given the heat, I’m satisfied.  I just need to keep up with the run training.  But on the bike, I would love to speed up, even by 1 mph.  So I think that will be the goal again this winter.  I feel like I’ve improved by leaps and bounds over the past year, so I’ll be pushing that again this year.  Plus I weirdly like trainer workouts that make my legs feel like they’re going to fall off.

 

 

Race Report: IRONMAN Augusta 70.3

I did it!  I finished IRONMAN Augusta 70.3!

Happy finisher!  All photos courtesy of my dad.

Happy finisher! All photos courtesy of my dad.

This report is going to be long, so settle in.

I was really well trained for this race.  Really well trained.  But I just didn’t know what was going to happen on the race.  I wasn’t worried about any of the individual legs, just how my body would handle that much working out all on one day.

First off, the people of Augusta are awesome.  Everyone was so friendly.  The local tri club was even inviting people to a practice swim on Friday night.  It was only semi-organized, but it was nice to know that around 5pm, there would be a bunch of people in the water.

Liz and I drove in on Thursday so that Friday, we could sleep in and hit the expo.  At the expo, I managed to hold back from buying too much.  After all, if I didn’t finish, would I want a bunch of Augusta 70.3 merchandise?  So I got a t-shirt, a pint glass, and a water bottle.  We sat through the athlete briefing and felt pretty darn prepared for the race.  I definitely recommend going to the athlete briefings.  Even though I knew most of the info already, it felt great to have that reassurance.

We went to the practice swim at the river.  Wetsuit on, I jumped in and swam the whole course.  It wasn’t easy, with a giant cheeseburger still in my stomach, but the current felt fabulous.  When I finally hauled myself out of the water (with the grace of a walrus), my watch read 29 minutes and change.  1.2 miles in 29 minutes.  AMAZING.  So I knew that come race day, I could easily do it in under 35 minutes (giving myself some extra padding for crowds, etc).

Saturday, we drove the bike course.  Definitely a good idea.  It was great to get an idea of what we had ahead of us.  And it wasn’t bad at all.  I was expecting worse hills. So I was feeling pretty darn confident.

Race morning dawned bright and early.  We opted to park at the garage near the convention center and take the shuttle (school bus) to transition.  While on the bus, we started hearing rumblings that the race was no longer wetsuit legal.  People were panicking.  I didn’t really care either way, but waited to hear the word from the officials.  As I started to setup, there it was.  The water temp was 77, so there would be a wetsuit wave.

I figured this would slow me down, but I wasn’t too worried.  I was certainly not waiting for a wetsuit wave.  My wave started at 8:20. The wetsuit wave was an hour later.  My biggest concern was the heat on the run, so I wanted to get off that course as early as possible.  There were definitely a few people around panicking though.  A lot of people choose Augusta because the swim is easy with the current.  This was the first time in 8 years of the race that the water was this warm.

We found Anne and then headed back towards the start line and stood on the hill to watch the race start.  Those pro women are fast!  Finally, it was time for Anne and I to head down to the swim start.  When it was our wave’s turn to get into the water, I jumped in and treaded water.  It would have been nice to hold onto the dock, but it was just too crowded.  The current wasn’t as strong as I thought it might be, so I wondered how slow this swim was going to be.

Finally, the horn blew.  And my hours and hours of exercise began.  The swim was really nice.  A bit crowded, but I started to pick off men from the wave before.  What surprised me was the amount of plant material.  There hadn’t been quite this much the evening before.  At one point, I ran into a stick that was at least three feet long.  I popped up to tread and move the stick out of the way.  Swim swim swim and there was the ramp to exit.  I got out of the water and glanced down at my watch.  So much faster than I anticipated.

Swim: 33:13

So happy to be out of the water

So happy to be out of the water

The run from the swim exit to transition was SO LONG.  When I got to T1, I made sure my feet were somewhat cleaned off before I got my socks on.  No need to have a rock in my sock for the next 56 miles.  I also took the time to put on my cooling wings, which I kept on the entire race.

T1: 6:17

Onto the bike.  I had decided that for the first ten miles, I was just going to ride comfortably.  Push, but not too hard.  I’m not used to flats, so I wasn’t sure how this was going to go.  Ultimately, I was riding way faster than I anticipated.  My first 5 miles were 15.5mph and the second 5 were 16.4mph.  Yes, that was a good clip.  But it was also a bit of good padding for the upcoming hills.  I ended up stopping at the first water stop to refill my water bottles and then at the second stop to grab some more water and use the bathroom.  It was hot out there and I was working hard to stay hydrated.

Even with the detour on the route, the hills weren’t bad.  Certainly no worse than the hills I had trained on.  In fact, I think they were a bit easier.  So I felt like I was flying through the course.  Of course, I have a lot of room for improvement on the bike, but I was really pleased with how I was doing.

Bike: 3:48:01

T2 wasn’t anything exciting.  Put my bike away, watched some poor girl completely unable to find her rack.  She just couldn’t figure out how to match up her number with the numbers on the rack.  That’s what stress does to you.

T2: 5:16

By this point, I knew I was going to finish under 8:30.  And I was delighted about that fact.  I also knew I would see my friends and family on the run, and that was awesome too.  This course is awesome for spectators.  There are so many options for them to see you.

This was somewhere on the first loop, I think.

This was somewhere on the first loop, I think.

The run was definitely hot.  The first mile or so was brutal.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through, but once I got some ice and cold water, I felt a million times better.  There were water stops a little more than a mile apart, and they were incredible.  Water, Gatorade, Coke, Red Bull, Clif Bars, Clif Shots, pretzels, chips, bananas, and oranges.  Most stops had ice, though some ran low, which made for some disappointed runners.

ironman-20160925-0061-2

By this point, I knew that if I kept my wits about me, I could get a sub-8 finish time, which would mean meeting every single goal I set for the race.  So I pushed the run, but not too hard.  I wanted to run around 14 minute miles.  But the heat made that easier said than done.  I stayed close to it until around mile 10 when the sun really started to beat down.  I realized that my run pace was slowing significantly, so I opted to power walk, which wasn’t terribly slower and felt a million times better.

Check out these awesome cheerleaders!

Check out these awesome cheerleaders!

I also had an amazing fan club.  My parents and my sister flew in to watch me race, and Nikki and Jenny came in to cheer as well.  It was so fun to see them out there.  There were so many awesome fans out there, but mine were the best.

Finally, the finish line was close.  It was amazing to turn that last corner and see the finish line straight ahead.

I can see the finish!

I can see the finish!

finish2 ironman-20160925-0045

Run: 3:16:38

Total time: 7:49:25.  All goals reached!

This race was so incredibly worth all the work.  It was hard, but it felt so great to cross that finish line.  I’m really proud of everything I accomplished and not giving up when things got hard.  And a huge thank you to everyone who supported me along the way.

Now, what’s next?

Finishers

Happy finishers who really need showers.