2015 Wrap up/2016 What’s ahead

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog, but I’ll try to keep it brief.  A lot has happened since July.  I went back to work full time as a high school math teacher, continued training, and I raced my “A” race which was Augusta 70.3.  I PR’d with a 5:44:41.  I’ll spare you the details since I forgot to write a timely race report, and quite honestly, I don’t remember the details, but I was thrilled with my results.

After Augusta, I had Marine Corp Marathon on the books for October.  With teaching full time, training became pretty difficult, so how do I compensate?  Register for IM Lake Placid of course, and as if that wasn’t enough, sometime during the last quarter of the year, I thought it’d be wise to register for a second IM when North Carolina opened.  Training for MCM continued, and I survived.

The weekend of MCM, Dani and I drove to Washington D.C. Friday night after I got off work.  We arrived at our hotel around 4AM Saturday, raced Sunday, and drove home Sunday.  I wouldn’t advise my travel strategy, but it worked and I got a PR( 4:13:21).  Gotta love road trips, but 20 hours(10+ each way) in the car the weekend of a marathon might not be the best choice.  I like to do things my own way though.

After the MCM, my race season was finished.  I decided in November that I needed some time to figure out my training schedule, so I asked my coach to let me go a couple of weeks unstructured.  He came back with “why don’t you take a month or two off and come back mid-January?  You’ve been training 3 years straight with no time off.”  Ummm, ok.  I needed him to say that in November because honestly, I was on the verge of burn out.  With working full time, the crazy finish to my race season, and signing up for the upcoming IM’s, I was feeling like I was drowning.  I think he had caught on to this considering my Training Peaks account had a lot more red than it has ever had in the last 2+ years with him coaching me.  So, I agreed to take the time off and come back mid-January.  BEST ADVICE EVER!  I honestly wouldn’t have ever decided to take that time off without the prompting from him.  It was the fear that if I took the time off I would lose some fitness and starting back would be hard.  It was also (believe it or not) a feeling of weakness to admit that I needed a break.

Needless to say, my coach knows me, which brings me to this last part.  Just after Christmas, my coach informed me that he was switching to a different team.  I immediately told him I was going where he was going without hesitation and without know what team he was going to.  It wasn’t a question of a team.  It was a matter of staying with the coach that I had chosen 2+ years(3 years next month) earlier and who had gotten me through 4-70.3’s, 2 marathons, and numerous other races with PR’s that were still coming left and right.  I also have my biggest year yet coming up, and I wasn’t changing coaches going into my IM year, so there was no doubt I was going where my coach was going because it was about the trust and relationship we had developed as athlete and coach.  Would I miss my teammates? Yes. Would some teammates not understand why I’d jump ship? Probably. Would feelings be hurt? Yes. Would I still see my teammates? Yes.  Was I disappointed to have to change teams?  Yes.

So, at the end of December I left my old team and followed Coach Chuck (Charles Sims a.k.a BAMF) to TriCoachGeorgia ( http://www.tricoachgeorgia.com ). For someone who keeps her circle small, coming into a team like TriCoachGeorgia should be hard, but they have made it surprisingly easy.  I will probably continue to take my time meeting people in person just because that’s how I am, but the group is very active on their private Facebook page which encouragement, joking, training, etc.  I feel like I’m getting to know a lot of their personalities already, and they have all be extremely welcoming.  The “Do Your Job” phrase they use runs deep with the team through the positive energy and work I see each of them doing.  Talk about motivation, no being a slug with this group of athletes around you busting their tails.  They truly are a fun group that likes to banter back and forth….my kind of people because I’m quite the smart ass, but I’m keeping that on the down low for now. ;-)  I think we’ll only let Coach C see that side still for now.

All in all, the transition has been super easy and fun.  I can’t wait to spend this upcoming year racing with this group of misfits!

 

 

Goals accomplished from 2015 & 2016 goals

2016 GOALS:

I’ll keep this list short

  1. Complete IM Lake Placid
  2. Complete IM North Carolina
  3. Finish season injury free
  4. Finish one IM in under 13 hours (yeah, big goal, this is the icing on the cake for the year)
  5. Complete coaching certification-attending class in April in Myrtle Beach

2015 Goals:

So, here are my goals that I posted to my blog in Feb and how I did at completing them.

February 18, 2015

1. Complete a marathon (not in misery) – done 1/25/2015 Time: 4:30:17 completed again at MCM on 10/25 in 4:13:21

2. Complete an Olympic distance triathlon – yep, that little oversleeping incident last year means that I haven’t actually finished an Oly. Done: Lake Hartwell Oly June 27th, 2015 2:45:58 and Lake Logan Oly August 9th, 2015 2:49:32

3. Finish NOLA 70.3 April 19th, 2015 in the same time or better than I did Augusta 70.3 2014 – the swim isn’t downstream, so I have some time to make up on the swim, so I’m not looking to necessarily beat it, just want to at least meet it. Done: 5:52:06

4. Complete at least 1 century ride – need to figure out which one to do or do my own wink emoticon frown emoticon Decided to skip this one this year. It never fit in with my race schedule

5. I will be attending Peak Racing Team’s IMFL camp this year in September – I have some work to do before then to prepare for the camp since it is a 140.6 camp…..Camp was cancelled.

6. Attend the Peak Racing Team’s Gaps camp and complete the rides. I am honestly more concerned about completing the rides at this camp than I am about anything else on this list. I don’t know that I’ll be quite ready to do this in March, but we’ll see. DONE! I survived with the help of Peak Racing Team. Big thanks to Alfonso Ahuja for leading me up the last bit of Hog Pen. It was a great camp and confidence boost going into the season.

7. Run a 5K in under 25 minutes – yeah, that’s going to be a challenge. I originally thought 26, but I’ve come pretty close to that in the middle of a half marathon, so if it doesn’t scare you, you’re not setting your goals high enough, right? I have a 5K in March which will be my first in almost 2 years, so it’s time to set a new PR. I’m hoping to be under 26 minutes at it. Done: The ShamRock ‘N Roll 5K in March came in at 24:46, and I placed in my age group.

8. Register for an Ironman for 2016 – the idea of this no longer scares me, which makes me question my sanity. Done: Ummm, yeah, apparently someone should slap me when ideas no longer scare me because I registered for 2 in 2016! Lake Placid and Beach 2 Battleship, guess it’s going to be a busy year.

9. Finish Augusta 70.3 in under 6:05 – um, yeah, not sure if that’s crazy or what. That’s taking just over 20 minutes off my time of 6:25:39 from last year. I’m hoping to take off about 13-15 on the bike, 5-7 on the run, and maybe 1-2 on the swim, so we shall see. Done: Augusta 70.3 2015 was completed in 5:44:41 I added a tad over 1 minute to my swim unsure emoticon, took off over 26 minutes on bike, and over 13 minutes on the run.

10. Finish Raleigh 70.3 in under 6:30 in May 2015. Since this one is only a month after NOLA, no big plans here….just looking to finish. Done: Finished in 6:09:01

11. Finish the Marine Corp Marathon in under 4:15 – This could be hard considering it’s only a month after Augusta, but we’ll see. Done: Longest run going into MCM was 15 miles, so I wasn’t sure if I’d blow up around mile 20, but I finished in 4:13:21 with strong splits in the last half of the marathon.

12. Finish 2015 injury free! DONE!!!!!!

 

Judge Me By My Size, Do You?

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, and actually putting it to paper (so to speak) is not very appealing because it means opening up and being vulnerable.

yoda

Yoda is very intelligent as we all know, and I LOVE this quote.  Let’s dig a little deeper…

How many times have you shown up at a race and sized up your competition by their size?  How many times have you sized up your ability against your competition because of your size?  Do you often think you don’t stand a chance because everyone else is so fit looking?  Do you ever think you have the race in the bag because the others don’t look as fit as you?  Have you ever not done a race or activity because you didn’t think you were fit enough because of your size?

comparison

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, but who really doesn’t….at least occasionally?  Yes, it is something I work on not doing, but dang, it’s hard.  We all would like to get on the podium at least every once in a while, so if you’re like me, you like to at least think about your chances of placing…..at least at the smaller races(of course, I used to think this was never a possibility).  Then, there’s the thought of racing an Ironman.  Last year, I never thought I’d want/be able to complete one.  Partially because I really thought that everyone that did them was ripped or at least extremely fit looking.  I mean really, who would try to race for 14 hours unless they are in top physical shape and that has to translate to appearance.  I realized at the Augusta 70.3 last year that there were all sizes competing and finishing the half, but still a full????  I honestly expected a different crowd, until I went to IM Florida to spectate.  People of all sizes and ages were finishing, and they were just as amazing in my book.  Maybe a full wasn’t out of the question just because I’m not ripped.

I’m not saying that you won’t improve your own times by losing a bit of weight, but don’t be so quick to count yourself out because you aren’t as fit looking as others.  This is a real struggle for me personally.  I often look at others and think they’ll kick my ass because they are 20-30lbs lighter than me.  It’s taken months and several races with a few placings, but I’m finally starting to realize that my size doesn’t affect how fast I am in comparison to others.  Can I be faster by losing a bit more?  Yes, but just because I’m 5’6″ and weigh 145 lbs doesn’t mean I can’t kick the 110 lbs person’s butt or that the 165 lbs person won’t kick mine!

Recently, I raced an Olympic distance triathlon, and I honestly didn’t think I’d place overall.  It was a small race, but there were enough others there that looked more fit that I figured I’d be out of the top 3.  I placed 3rd overall and shocked myself.  I ran a decent size 5K in Atlanta in March, and I never expected to place in my age group because I’m just not the small fast runner type and plenty of others were.  I somehow pulled off 3rd place in my age group.  At the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta with 54,000+ runners, I would expect someone my size(average I’d say) to maybe finish around the middle(average) of the pack.  I finished in top 9% overall and top 4% of the women.  I often doubt my abilities due to my size, and it needs to stop!  That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to lose a few more pounds to make myself a bit faster (than my current self), but I don’t need to judge my ability to complete a race or to place by my size because so many more things determine that!

Determination, perseverance, consistency, dedication, faith in your abilities, and mental strength have more to do with your ability than your size does.  With those things, you can finish the race, and you can often beat others who are lacking some of those things even if they have the fit body and talent.  You(preaching to myself here as well) have to believe in yourself.

I have some BIG goals for this year at Augusta 70.3 and the Marine Corp Marathon.  I may be average size, but that doesn’t mean my goal times have to be average as well.

So, lose some weight if you want, but don’t let the size you are now hold you back from trying something or make you think that you’re not as good/fast as someone smaller, and NEVER let anyone else count you out due to your size!  Tell them to sit back and watch, then go prove them wrong!

 

IM Raleigh 70.3

6 weeks prior, I PR’d NOLA 70.3 with a 5:52:06, and yet, I was going into Raleigh, shooting for a 6:15 due to the difference in the courses.  The race started with the Pros at 7AM, and my swim wave wasn’t scheduled to go off until 7:56.  About 7:15, I drank my 3 scoops of Ucan.

SWIM:

They were telling us as soon as we had arrived that the swim was not wetsuit legal.  I was disappointed in this since swimming is my weakest event, and I need all the help I can get.  I did have a new swimskin though that I brought, and what better time to try it out for the first time than on race day.  ;-)  Pfft…. nothing new on race day takes the adventure out of things.  The time went by pretty quick, and before I knew it, it was go time on an absolutely gorgeous morning to race.  For the swim, you walk down the beach under the timing arch to an in water start by waves.  I lined myself up to the inside of the course which was a triangular shape.  I found a bit of room here where I felt like I wouldn’t be immediately swam over by others in my wave.  They sounded the horn, and we were off.  I actually remembered to start my watch for the first time ever in a race at the start.  I tried to hug the inside of the course since it was pretty open space there for the first section.  As we rounded the first turn, I moved a bit wider since people moved to the inside on the turn, and I stayed out a bit for the first 200 yds or so of the back stretch.  The water had been pretty smooth until this back stretch, and suddenly, I had waves smacking me in the face, and I was getting mouthfuls of water.  I switched my breathing to the right for a few strokes and it seemed better, then the big waves seemed to disperse.  The next issue was the younger & faster men that started behind us were starting to catch me about this time, and I was in the middle of the course instead of either side now, so I made my way to the inside right next to the buoys because it seemed pretty open until a guy came from inside the buoy line and sideswiped me.  I stopped and let him go then continued on.  The back stretch seemed to go on FOREVER, but I finally reached the second turn buoy and headed into the final stretch.  Going down this stretch, a fast guy came up on my left, and as he bumped me once or twice and I moved to my right, he continued and then pushed me, so I switched to the breaststroke, and yes, I did try to kick him.  There was no sense in how aggressive he was being, and there was plenty of open water.  I caught his arm a bit, but I wanted to catch his face at the time.  Approaching the final two buoys, I caught up to a guy who was backstroking, and I left him plenty of room if his stroke was anywhere near where it should have been, but rather he grabbed the top of my head when I was in line with his shoulder and pushed it.  I’m still not sure if that was intentional or not, but it seemed to be as he practically dunked me, and the position would have been a REALLY awkward spot to be able to grab someone’s head in the backstroke unless you were just skimming the top of the water with your stroke all the way through.  The swim exit was up a boat ramp that had mats on it and was easy to exit.  I was simply glad to be done with this swim that seemed to take a lot longer than normal.

swim exit

They caught me removing my ear plugs, but the look of exhaustion is about how I felt at this point

I stopped by the wetsuit strippers who now had very little to do, and one of them unzipped my swimskin for me, and I headed to my bike.  Arriving at my bike, it looked like everyone in my age group had already left…. geesh, I must really suck at swimming is what was going through my head.  My swim time was 49:00, and I was 86th out of 151 starters in my age group, got to work on that.

BIKE:

I grabbed my bike, headed to the mount line, remembered to press the correct buttons on my watch, and was off.  Goal was warm up and ease into 80-85% FTP.  Again, that seemed a bit high, and my quads had definitely not recovered because they were feeling tight for some reason, but I figured I’d just see how they loosened up.  56 miles was a long way to go, no need in getting in my head this early.  We had a little bit of climbing in the first 5 miles that seemed to help loosen up my quads, and I quickly found myself settling into a good rhythm and feeling better.  The next 25 miles or so had more elevation loss than gain and was an extremely easy ride. I had been told that the second half of the course was a lot hillier, and the elevation profile showed that it should have a total gain of 2700 feet, so I was prepared for the course to get difficult.  The next 5 miles presented a bit of a climb, but nothing that I thought was significant, then the final 21 miles had more loss overall than gain again.  The bike course was fast!  Yes, there were some hills, but they were rollers and not hard climbs.  I kept looking for the hills that people were referring to, but I didn’t see them.  I know there were some changes to the course this year due to road construction, so perhaps that was why it was easier than expected.  I ended up with an elevation gain of just over 2200 on the bike instead of the 2700 shown on IM’s site.

If you are from Atlanta, this ride was easier than the Silk Sheets route, so train there, and you’ll think it’s a breeze.  Silk Sheets’ hills are definitely longer, slower climbs than this.

The only issues on the bike course I had was traffic.  The officers did a great job of stopping and directing traffic for the riders, but there was one stretch where cars were really backed up coming towards us, and a driver(seemingly annoyed) whipped out in front of us going in our direction.  The driver then proceeded to ride right on the back end of a slower cyclist, but they stayed towards the right edge to prevent us from passing him and the other cyclist.

I came in from the bike with a time of 3:02:12, and I headed into the somewhat weird transition.  Transition is split into two sides by a bit of a zig-zag due to shrubbery.  Odd, but it wasn’t that big of a deal.  I racked my bike and proceeded to put my socks and shoes on.  As I was putting my stuff on, I was rather annoyed when I saw a fellow age grouper run in while a male volunteer pushed her bike and racked it for her as she started putting on her shoes.  After getting her shoes on, he told her to go, and he then put her gear in her bag for her.  I guess volunteers aren’t technically outside assistance, but I think this goes against what the rules allow.  Volunteering so you can provide unequal assistance to someone you know is cheating if you ask me….just my $.02.  I will say that I was very pleased with the lack of drafting I saw by competitors on this course.  I never saw any groups fly by who were obviously drafting.

On the bike, I consumed 50 ounces of water mixed with 6 scoops of Osmo and a 200 calories Kind bar.

RUN:

Out of transition I headed, and up a hill…… a hill that lasted 3 miles.  Ok, there were a few breaks, but overall, the first half of the loop was uphill.  I HATED this.  There just wasn’t a good chance to get your legs to relax off the bike and find them for the run in that first 3 miles.  With my calves getting tighter by the minute and trying to cramp, I took some Base Salt (ok, I took a quick triple dose).  The aid stations were all well stocked with ice, water, Gatorade, Coke, pretzels, oranges, bananas, Gu, sponges, etc.  I have to say, the volunteers and race rocked at keeping the supplies going on the course!  Kiddie pools had ice in them with sponges, and many of us were grabbing ice by the handfuls out of the these.  The volunteers were on point with keeping cups filled and offering stuff to you as you passed.  I hated the run course, but LOVED the crowd support and volunteers!  As I got close to the 3 mile mark, my calves were starting to loosen FINALLY!  After the turn around, the course was more or less downhill back to the loop start before having to start the wonderful climb again.  Around mile 8, I ate an orange slice (again, new stuff, why not?) because I was just starting to feel hungry.  My left hamstring started tightening up on me on this uphill, so again, I took a bit of Base Salt (  http://www.baseperformance.com/ ) and lots of water to wash it down, and soon enough, my hamstring loosened back up.  Base Salt rocks!  After the turn around, I again picked up my pace on the way back, but continued to walk the aid stations to make sure I got water, ice, and other needed items.  Feeling hungry still, I grabbed pretzels around mile 11 before my last push to the finish.  My run time came in at 2:10:31 which was 1 second faster than NOLA.

run

Gu and water, fuel and hydration

 

On the run course, in addition to the Base Salts, orange slice, and pretzels, I had 2 Gu’s, 1 Roctane, and 2 scoops of Osmo along with lots of WATER.  The run course had very little shade and the weather was pretty hot, but the humidity and temperature didn’t seem as bad as the NOLA 70.3.

post race

Glad to be done!

 

Another great race in the books thanks to the guidance of Coach Charles Sims.  I couldn’t do it without his help!  My overall time came in at 6:09:01 which was below 6:15, so I was happy with my performance.  My “A” race this year is the Augusta 70.3, and I look forward to testing my limits with that race.  Go big or go home!

 

IM Raleigh 70.3 (Pre-race)

I’m beginning to realize that this season may be more about me gaining confidence in myself than anything else.  Preparing for my first 70.3 last year, my biggest concern was getting physically able to complete the distance.  I now know that I can complete it but figuring out just how well and where my limits are this year is now my challenge.

After NOLA, I had 6 weeks to prepare for Raleigh, and Coach Chuck ( http://peakracingteam.com/chuck-sims/ ) decided to change up a few things to help improve the run.  I have flaws (yeah, I know, you never knew), and one of those flaws is the stupidity to continue to push when my body is screaming at me that it needs rest even when my coach says to rest or gives me optional workouts.  Needless to say, the continued push started to catch up with me around May 9th (about 3 weeks before Raleigh).  At the end of a long day of riding in the Gaps, I felt pretty beat.  Coach C said we were doing a drop down week that coming week, and then hitting it hard one more week before Raleigh.  I should have taken advantage of the drop down week and skipped (oh yes, I am admitting sometimes skipping a workout is necessary….finding my limits) a workout or two, so I could go hard the next week, but my stubbornness didn’t allow that.  The drop down week ended up not allowing for the recovery my body was screaming for, and the ensuing hard week was miserable culminating with a double brick scheduled on Saturday with Coach C of a 25 mile ride, 3 mile run, 25 mile ride, 4 mile run.  I showed up at Silk Sheets feeling like I’d been hit by a mac truck that week, and apparently I looked just as bad by the end of the workout which I shortened.  Afterwards, I told him I was beat, and my Training Peaks may be red all week.  He said to just do what I felt like and to recover….for once, I heeded his advice.  I honestly didn’t think I’d recover in time to do much of anything at Raleigh how I felt.

With a week of more red than I think my Training Peaks account has seen as a total over a few months, I showed up to Raleigh unsure of how the race was going to go.  I told Coach Tony on Saturday that if someone told me I couldn’t race the next day I wouldn’t be upset.  I enjoy races, and I look forward to them.  I don’t usually get nervous, and I wasn’t nervous about the race.  I just wasn’t excited in any way, shape, or form to be there.  I just didn’t care.  I was hoping I had recovered, but I wasn’t sure since I missed so many workouts.  I was hoping I could pull off 6:15 or better, but if I didn’t it wouldn’t be the end of the world.  The time in my mind was more about me not wanting to be on that freaking course any longer than that on Sunday.  It had nothing to do with PR’s or any logic to that number.  It was simply a number pulled out of a hat that was mentally as long as I felt I could stand to race Sunday.

Saturday morning, Angela and I attended a breakfast with Base Perfomance ( http://www.baseperformance.com/ ). Angela is sponsored by them, and she was able to bring a guest, so I went with her.  It was a fun start to the day meeting the owner Matt and learning a bit more about the company and products.  I had Base Salts and was using them for the first time during a race(more about that later) for this race, but I hadn’t tried any of their other products.  After learning a bit more about the Base Amino and hearing some reviews though, I think I’m going to give them a try soon.

After breakfast, we took our bikes out to T1 to drop off.  It was about a 40 minute drive both directions, so it ate into the day more than I thought it would with a lunch stop along the way at Chipolte.  After a bit more running around, we ate dinner at Mellow Mushroom with the Peak Racing Team (http://peakracingteam.com/ ) before heading to our room to prepare our bags for the next day and go to bed.

dinner

Peak racers at dinner

 

Up at 3AM, I prepared my nutrition, packed it in my bags, and was off to head to T2 where I needed to drop off my run bag and catch the shuttle for my 40 minute ride to T1.  For some reason, we couldn’t lay out our stuff in T2 by where we’d rack our bikes, but instead we had to leave it all in our bags on the ground.  Seemed odd, but you have got to roll with it, so we did.  With nothing left to do at T2, Angela and I loaded the shuttle bus and headed to T1.

Arriving at T1, I got body marked, and we both made a quick porta potty stop before heading into transition.  We were again told that we had to leave everything in our bike gear bags here as well, so I basically dropped my bag in front of my bike, poured my hydration in my Speedfil, and headed out to go chill.  That was the last time I saw Angela before the race.

pre-start

I found the Peak Racing Team, and we headed to the shoreline to watch the sunrise and hang out as we waited for the race start.

sunrise

Up next, the race……

 

 

IM 70.3 NOLA

Yes, I’m a slacker….once again.

My goal going into New Orleans (NOLA) was simply to meet maybe slightly beat my IM Augusta 70.3 time, so I needed to beat 6:25:39.  I would have been happy with 6:25 flat.  The weather was going to be hot and humid, and there was a possibility of rain leading up to the race, so I kept my expectations low.

First thing we did upon arriving in NOLA was check-in to the hotel and head to packet pick up.  It had been moved to the Hilton Riverside, so it was within walking distance from out hotel.  Packet pickup went smooth, and at athlete briefing, we were informed that mandatory bike check-in on Saturday was now optional due to possible storms on Saturday.  Times for check-in had also been shortened to 3PM-8PM on Saturday, and transition would open early at 4:30AM on Sunday due to the non-mandatory bike check-in on Saturday.

peak

Peak Racing Team in NOLA

 

Skipping ahead to Sunday, since I decided to wait and take my bike that morning, I got up at 3AM Sunday to eat an early breakfast at IHOP and to head to transition at opening at South Shore Harbor.  With a few delays at IHOP(drunk people in NOLA at 3AM, go figure), and a small accident on the highway, we arrived pretty close to transition opening.  A few others had decided to arrive early as well, but overall, there weren’t an abundance of cars which surprised me considering the lack of a mandatory bike check-in meant that there would probably be close to double the number of vehicles coming to that area that morning since bikes can’t go on the shuttles.  I also like to arrive early though anyway to get my stuff settled, then relax and watch the morning rush, so maybe my expectations are just off.

Race time was set to start at 7AM, but due to traffic back up leading into the start area, it was postponed until 7:30AM.  If there had been a steady stream/backup of cars since transition opened at 4:30AM, then I’d have been understanding, but knowing there wasn’t, I was rather annoyed.  Luckily, I don’t drink my 3 scoops of Ucan until 45 minutes prior and I was in the last wave, so I had the luxury of waiting until almost race start to drink it.  Some people I am sure were not so lucky, and even though it was only 30 minutes, it could throw off their nutrition.  It also meant that I was getting pushed 30 minutes later into the heat of the day simply because people didn’t plan to get to the race in time by planning for unexpected delays.  Nothing I could do about it, so I dealt with it by drinking a ton more water and peeing a million times more than usual.

pre-swim

Waiting…..

 

SWIM:

The swim was on the verge of being cancelled on Friday due to some rather frightening readings of bacteria levels in the lake in various spots, but WTC requested a sample be taken from the actual swim site in the harbor, and the results came in late Friday that it was 374.  I don’t know all the details, but there were some comments regarding the EPA listing safe swim levels below 200 and USAT’s standard as 450.  I guess USAT knows more than the EPA…..well, the EPA is managed by the government, sooooo…..  Either way, the swim was on, and we were happy, and maybe a little concerned.

Sunday morning, we all started in age group waves by time trial, so basically, each age group went off in groups of 8 jumping in from the dock.  This actually went much faster than I had thought, and we were all in the water within an hour I believe.  The course was an “N” shape, and the first line was down the side of the harbor by the seawall.  The water inside the harbor was very smooth I thought and cold enough for our wetsuits.  SCORE!  I basically sighted off the wall for the first leg of the “N.”  The diagonal was a bit harder to sight.  The lack of buoys other than one in the middle and one at the end made it hard to tell where you were going other than following the crowd and sighting the last row of boats since I knew the turn buoy was there from checking out the course the day before.  After the last turn, I was able to sight using the ends of the rows of boats until I got close enough to see the last buoy to turn and head in.  The exit is made of metal steps, but they were easy to maneuver.  As we made our (extremely long) way to T1, I stopped for the wetsuit strippers, then proceeded towards T1.  My swim time was 35:01. Augusta was 30:11. The swim was about 300ish yards short though from everything I have seen posted and from everyone’s Garmin that I know.

swim

FINALLY!

 

BIKE:

The bike course is kind of a “Y” shape out and back which was nice because we had the roads to ourselves for the most part.  My race plan said some non-sense about slowly building to 80-85% FTP.  Umm, yeah, I thought around 75% sounded more reasonable for me, so I tried keeping it around that, and I seemed to end up around 77-78%, so I split the difference with my coach. ;-)  Part of the reason 80-85% concerned me was seeing my 5 mile split times over the first 15 miles or so showing under 15 minutes per 5 miles, and I wasn’t even to 80% yet.  I knew that was over 20mph.  I had never averaged anywhere near that pace on any ride, and I psyched myself out a bit on the thought of maintaining that power level much less increasing it.  The wind was behind me & my power was where it was supposed to be for the start, so I tried not to think about it, but I did, and so I stayed closer to 75%.  Towards the end of the bike, the wind was in my face and slowed me down & my power increased to that 85% range, but I was also trying to get away from a cluster of girls drafting that were playing leapfrog with me & pissing me off.  I’d say my biggest gripes about the bike course were the ridiculous amount of drafting going on and the rough bridges.  Otherwise, I was pretty happy with the bike.  During the bike, I drank the 40 ounces of water mixed with 7 scoops of Osmo I carried, ate a Kind Bar around mile 20, and picked up and drank about 8 ounces of an extra water bottle from the last water stop.  My bike time was 2:56:05.  It could have been a bit faster maybe, so I might eventually try that 80-85% range my coach suggest.  He’s probably correct, but I also have to not psych myself out with the pace that means.  Augusta was 3:29:53 (um, yeah, my cycling has come a LONG way!)

RUN:

nola run

Heading out

 

It was H-O-T!  The run course doesn’t have ANY shade on it since it runs along Lake Pontchartrain.  It is an out and back one loop course.  The sun was beating down on my shoulders, and I could feel them baking in the sun.  I decided I’d run and just walk the water stops to make sure I got what I needed, and I think it was a good plan.  I was able to grab ice and cold water at pretty much every water stop.  I drank the 2 scoops of Osmo I carried, took salted caramel Gu at mile 2, Gu chews around mile 5, and a Roctane around mile 9 which was almost a mistake because I felt a bit sick after the Roctane, but I made it to the end with negative splits and a strong run.  My time for the run was 2:10:32.  Augusta was 2:15:34.

caddies

The best support crew around

GOAL RESULTS:

I crushed any expectations I had and went under 6 hours with a 5:52:06.

Would I recommend NOLA 70.3?

Hard to say, I liked it, but many people on my team weren’t thrilled with it.  I could definitely tell this was handled by Premier rather than WTC due to little things here and there as well as the delay.  I enjoyed hanging out in NOLA the two extra days after the race that we stayed.  It’s definitely not a great family race to bring the kids to, but it was a fun weekend, the course was fair and flat, but it was hot.  I probably won’t race it again, but that’s just because there are too many others that I want to try.

 

JLA ShamRock N Roll 5k/10K Atlantic Station

I’m a tad behind on blog posts, so I plan to get caught up over the next few days.  I’ve put off writing this post because I was waiting to see if I ever got my t-shirt….

I’ve ran this race 2 of the last 3 years.  The first year I ran it, there were issues with the 10K course.  It was said to be certified, but it actually wasn’t, and it ended up being about 1/2 a mile short due to confusion on the course.  Almost the entire field missed a turn.  I’m happy to report that they have fixed this issue.

Race morning, I showed up to pick up my packet rather than driving up to Atlanta the day before the race.  Packet pick up went smooth other than them trying to give me a different size shirt than I had registered for.  Several others in the line had issues with shirt sizes as well that morning.  It seems that they didn’t hold the shirts for those who had preregistered and gave out shirts to people who registered late, so they said they would make another order of shirts and get them to us….ok, no problem.

I returned all my extra stuff to my car, took off my warm layers, put on my bib, and did a short warm up before heading to the start line.  As I approached the start line, I noticed people had lined up on the front row with their dogs.  I knew this was a dog friendly race, but I hadn’t expected people to line up in the front with their dogs.  Since I was trying to PR and it is only gun timed, I decided to line up close to the front as well.  As we waited for the start, the two dogs on the front row were getting tangled up.  I made sure I was lined up off to the side, so I could avoid what looked to be a disaster waiting to happen.

The race started and I took off faster than I had planned to get out ahead of the crowd, then quickly settled into my pace.  My goal was to run this race in under 26 minutes even though my year end goal for a 5K is under 25.  The race started off with a downhill before a short climb up Fowler St. followed by a small longer incline up 14th St. before it levels a bit.  I knew the course going into the race from running it two years earlier, so I knew the only real significant hill was up behind Ikea, and after topping it, the race would finish downhill.  I just needed to get to the top of that hill!  As I topped it, I was on target to definitely make under 26, but there was a chance that I could go sub-25.  With the downhill to the finish, I was able to hang on to finish in 24:46, so I met goal #7 on my list.  Does that mean I need a new 5K goal since this was done in March?

I did finally get my t-shirt.  About a month after the race, I received an email letting us know that the t-shirts were ready, and we could come pick them up at the JLA office.  What?  I specifically didn’t do early packet pick up to avoid driving to downtown Atl twice, and now, you want me to drive in to pick up a $6 t-shirt?  I don’t think so.  I’d spend more in gas and my time with the 45 minute drive, so I sent an email letting them know that I was disappointed, and they did offer to mail it me, so I finally got my t-shirt a little over a month after the race.

The big question…..would I recommend the race?  Hmmm….that’s a hard one.  If you want to PR a course, then it’s a good one provided you start at the front and get ahead of the dogs, but after running it twice and having a major hiccup the first year, and a minor one the next time, I’m inclined to not race it again…..but I will need another PR, so who knows. 😉

shamrock

3rd place in my age group and a PR!