Ironman Muncie 70.3 Race Recap

November 27, 2013 - 9 Responses

I did it.  Officially became a Half Ironman in July.  And I legitimately had fun doing it.  I know, I can’t believe I’m saying that either!

Pre-race:
I drove up on Thursday before the race, and I’m glad I did.  It gave me time to get settled into the hotel and ready for the long weekend.  I arbitrarily picked a hotel in a nearby town and I’m so glad.  It really wasn’t far from the expo or the race site (because nothing is close to that!).  It also was centrally located to a strip with plenty of dining options and stores if I needed anything.  And the best part, my room had a large mini-fridge and small microwave.  This was a useful luxury!

On Friday, I slept in and drove up to Muncie for the expo and race meeting.  Downtown Muncie, how adorable.  I got to meet up with a Twitter friend who was also doing the race and drove all the way down from Maine with his young son.  Nice little father son bonding trip!  We went to the first athlete meeting together.  Then I finished checking out the expo and got some lunch before heading out to the middle of nowhere race site to check out the course.  Definitely glad I did that.  There is no easy way to get to the race site and it’s pretty confusing.  I did the race in reverse order, starting with a quick run, a short bike to check gears, and then a little swim to check the water and the sighting to the finish.  The shallow part of the water has quite a few rocks, so I was really hoping we didn’t have a beach run start. After that, I drove the remainder of the run and bike.  The run looked great, and those “rollers” weren’t going to be a problem.  I confirmed the bike is in fact flat, but a lot of the course was really rough, so I kept that in mind.  Then I drove back to the hotel to have dinner and an Epsom salt bath and get my gear ready for the morning.

Race morning:  I knew that there is really only one road in to the race, so traffic gets backed up early.  Therefore I planned on getting to the race site as soon as possible to when parking opened at 4:30am.  I set the alarm for 3:15am, got dressed, loaded the car, and packed some coffee and breakfast for when I got there.  I lucked out and got parking on the 3rd row.  I hit the porta potties before transition opened at 5am.  Then, I started unloading my stuff to take to set up transition.  We were lucky that pre-race bike check-in was optional.  I have separation anxiety from my bike.  Also, many thanks to the nice volunteer who checked and topped off my air pressure in my tires!  After getting set up, I went back to my car to relax and eat my breakfast and get my sunscreen started.  We got word that the water temp was 75 so it would be a wetsuit legal race, which meant some extra Body Glide.  While the pros were starting I got a little practice swim in to get used to the water.  Then I was ready to go get in line for the start line chute.

Swim:
Fortunately, we got to start a few feet into the water and get away from the rocks embedded in the sand.  I was surprised how small my wave was.  Usually my age group is pretty big, but this helped me relax about being in an aggressive swim wave/washing machine.  I lined up on second or third row out on the edge closest to the buoys.  When the bull horn went off, we started swimming.  I felt pretty good.  I did have one woman, who just wouldn’t leave me alone.  I couldn’t tell if she was just being especially aggressive towards me or was doing a terrible job of swimming straight and cutting me off and yanking on my feet on purpose.  I think I finally lost her when we caught up to the guys ahead of us about the second buoy and I trapped her between the buoy and the slower men.  I had a hard time sighting on the swim because the line out to the first turn is at a diagonal to the left, and we started running into the slower men in the wave ahead of us.  But for the most part it was manageable.  About halfway between the first and second turn, I was swimming behind a line of about 3 people across.  Then a guy wearing an orange cap (I think from the wave behind us) decided to swim diagonally across them.  And I caught his heel directly into my left eye, shoving my goggle deep into my eye socket.  I had to stop and adjust, and assess whether I thought I might actually have injured my eye.  It seemed to be ok (I could see), but hurt pretty badly.  But I was the furthest away from the shore that I could be so I had to keep going.  I was just hoping it wouldn’t be all bloody when I got out of the water and they would make me quit my race then.  I was also glad it wasn’t my nose.  A broken nose is a definitely DNF, something I didn’t want.  After the second turn, it started getting much more congested in the water as all the swim waves start catching up with the slower people in front of them.  I was worried about the sighting since the sun is rising over the shore, but it actually created a shadow on the buoys and wasn’t that bad to sight.  Plus there were enough people around me all going the same general (straight) direction back to shore. Once out of the water, I started running up the hill to transition.  We were told there weren’t going to be any wetsuit strippers, but I saw a group of teenage boys who were more than happy to yank that suit off me, pull me back up and get me back on my way to transition.  It’s amazing how efficient strippers are!

Transition 1 :
Tossed my wetsuit into my pile of stuff, grabbed my helmet and glasses, sprayed some sunscreen, grabbed my bike of the rack and ran to the “Bike Out” sign.  I had practiced a couple times with my shoes already clipped to my bike and I’m glad I did.  Our transition was in grass and it was much easier running barefoot and not getting grass or dirt stuck in my cleats.  Though I almost forgot and started to mount before the line, but caught myself.

Bike:
The bike course is over a lot of really rough roads.  It took a while to get comfortable where I could start putting my feet into my bike shoes and then longer before I could reach down and lock down the straps on my shoes.  The bike course goes out several local roads and through one neighborhood with moderately bumpy to smooth roads.  Once you turn on to the main highway, it’s really straight, flat, and smooth.  It was at this point that I got to see the lead male and female pro racers flying back the other direction on the course.  After a few miles, we turn off on to really incredibly rough farm roads.  There are several “no pass zones” but people aren’t observing them.  Apologies to the really fast people who were stuck behind me.  Then it’s miles and miles of relentless bumps and vibrations.  I kept having to shove my aero bottle straw back down into the bottle, the bumps were knocking it up out of the bottle.  I dodged numerous marked and even unmarked pot holes, ejected water bottles, and even an ejected rear water bottle cage (that poor person).  I passed several people who were fixing flats.  I took it easy on the bike.  It’s not my strength and why burn myself out just to blow up on the run where I can really make up time.  Plus, the whole goal for the race was to finish, not explode.  After the turnaround point, I was beyond done mentally with the bumpy roads. I started singing songs in my head to try to get through it.  It was difficult to fuel and hydrate with all the bumps and having to focus so hard on keeping a handle on the bike and dodging road obstacles.  I think the other side of the road for the second half was actually a little bit better and not as rough.  But I was definitely happy to get back to the smooth main highway and head my way back to transition.  I even smoothly handled a water bottle handoff!  I grabbed the bottle, dumped it into my aero bottle, tossed it before the drop point, and got in 2 tabs of Nuun to help with hydration and flavor!  So glad I had those Nuun tablets in my bento!

I definitely feel like I dialed in my nutrition plan just right for this race.  For me, my stomach doesn’t always tolerate a lot during the run and especially if I’m going hard or long in a race.  So, the key is to get everything in on the bike.  My plan was as follows (if nothing else it gave me something to do for 3 hours of pedaling):
Every 15min – sip of Nuun from my water bottle
Every 20 min – go up gear and pedal out of saddle for a few seconds
Every 20 min – fuel (On the :20 and :40 I took in a fig newton, on the hour I took a Hüma gel)

Transition 2:
I managed to get my shoes opened and my feet out before dismount. I hopped off my bike and ran barefoot in the grass back to my transition spot. Threw off the helmet and sunglasses, grabbed a hat and my race belt that I pre-loaded with gels and my bib.

Run:
This was by far my favorite part of the race.  Not just because it’s my strength, but I honestly had a good time!  I was, as usual, very happy to be out of the saddle and back on my own feet.  The course was great.  It says it is a challenging roller course, but really it wasn’t hilly or what this Tennessean would call a roller.  It wasn’t pancake flat (like the bike course), so it actually gave you a break from the constant pounding, and wasn’t enough of a roller to feel like you were climbing or breaking down a hill.  Just enough of a change to give your different muscles a break.  I started out at a great pace, maybe a little fast, but I was feeling good.  After a couple miles we turned on to the out and back portion.  At this point I saw a guy running back around his mile 11 with so many sponges stuffed in his tri top, he was easily taking a cue from that time I figure skated as Dolly Parton to “9-to-5″ as a kid.  It provided some entertainment for the start of the run.  Eventually the miles ticked off.  I saw some athletes from back home heading back and hoped I could catch some of them after the turnaround.  My Coach had warned me to take it easy on the bike, but that most people go too hard on that flat course and leave nothing for the run.  During the run I grinned from ear to ear (that’s never happened in a 13 mile run ever!) and just had fun.  I bounced from water stop to water stop, grabbing a cub of ice and pouring it into my sports bra (seriously, “boob ice” is the best thing ever) and taking a sip of the cola they offered, with the occasional ice water dumped on my head just for fun.  At the turn around point, I couldn’t believe I was already there and had to actually ask the volunteer if it was “for real.”  She said yes, and I did a little hop and a dance right there, then kept running.  After the turnaround, I caught up to many of the athletes from home who were running, said hi, and passed them.  I think I passed pretty much everyone I was running with.  I’m not sure I really got passed much myself.  It felt great.  I’m sure I looked a little strange munching on my “boob ice” in between water stops.  I was feeling so good I almost forgot to take some gels, but managed to get down a couple of them.  I’m not sure if it was the sugar and caffeine from the cola or just pure adrenaline, but I was all kinds of excited.  As I got to the 11 and 12 mile markers it was hitting me that I was getting close to the finish.  Not only was I going to finish my first Half Ironman, but it was also almost done.  After 6 hours of racing (and countless hours of training), I was done. When I saw the 13 mile turnoff, I quickly threw out all the ice from my top, straightened my bib and hauled it in to the finish.  I literally skipped and bounded to the finish line!  My heart was exploding. I was so happy and a little sad it was already over, I was having so much fun!

My #1 goal for this race was to finish.  I thought best case scenario, I could maybe pull off a 6:30.  I finished the race in 6:09.  It helps we had really great weather, and I trained hard.  I took the course one step at a time and didn’t push myself really hard because ultimately I just wanted to cross the finish line.  So, of course now I want to go back and try to race and see what I can really do on that course, with more determination and background of the course.

muncie finish

Big Announcement: I’m running a marathon

September 4, 2013 - 16 Responses

(By the way, I know I’m beyond overdue for race reports.  Many have been started and they are on their way.  I promise.)

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Never say never.  I always said I’d never run a marathon.  I mean, c’mon, 26.2 miles??  Really, even 13.1 miles is absurd.  So anything over a half marathon is just plain ridiculous.

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But I have plenty of friends who run marathons.  They love it.  But I just don’t know that my body is meant to go that distance.  I ran 15 miles once this summer and it was awful.  {insert Grumpy Cat meme}  Granted it was the day after I rode 70 miles and it was during a heat and humidity wave.

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Nonetheless, I’ve decided I’m going to run a marathon anyway.  But…you know me, I can’t just run any marathon.  If I’m going to do this, it may be the only time I ever do this.  So why not do it in style?

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So, instead of just running a marathon.  I’m going to warm up before the run, by swimming 2.4 miles.  Yeah, crazy huh?

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But ya know what? That’s still not enough.  I’m going to also ride my bike for 112miles.  Absolutely nuts!

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So I guess you figured out what my big announcement is by now…

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Tracking a race

July 10, 2013 - 6 Responses

So race week is here.  The race is just a couple days away.  Six months of intense training will be tested on Saturday.  My goal for my first Half Ironman is to FINISH.  Honestly, that’s it.  Yes, I do have a range of time in mind for my finish time for a good day and a bad day, and maybe I’ll share that after the race is over.  But I really just want to finish.  There are a lot of things that can happen in the several hours it takes to finish a race like this.  I have a lot of things in my favor, relatively flat course, excellent weather forecast, possible wetsuit legal swim. So I have my fingers crossed for crossing that finish line myself and not in the medical tent.

If you want to follow my progress on Saturday morning, here’s the information you need to know:

Saturday, July 13, 7am Eastern time.

I am bib #975.

My swim wave takes off at 7:35am Eastern time.

Track all athletes here (I don’t know if they will have finish line video or not)

My swim, bike, run, and transition splits will be posted there.  Note, it is my experience that sometimes the splits are a little delayed.

No-Fail Molasses Cookies – Gluten Free!

July 4, 2013 - 6 Responses

gfmolasses

Whenever I need to bake something that is quick and will be a crowd pleaser, I always fall back on my No-Fail Molasses Cookies.  I’ve posted my once closely guarded recipe here before.  But I can’t share these fabulous cookies with my gluten sensitive friends.  So I decided maybe I should experiment with trying to convert the recipe.  I’ve baked gluten free before.  And this is a fairly simple recipe, I figured I’d give it a try!  I clicked on 3 links did a little research online about converting baking recipes and took a stab in the dark.  Whoa, on my first try I actually have an edible product.  It’s not exactly like the original version of the cookies, but it’s a damn good substitute!  So I made these just in time for my gluten sensitive friend’s birthday and shipped them to her.

Gluten Free Molasses Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen

250g gluten free flour*
1 cup sugar (plus extra in a bowl or plate for rolling)
1/2 cup + 2 tsp oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2+ tsp (plus a pinch or two) salt
1 tsp cinnamon (plus extra to taste)
1 tsp ginger (plus extra if you prefer more of a gingerbread cookie)

Preheat oven to 300°.

Mix all ingredients until fully incorporated.  It will be a sticky gooey batter, a little stiffer than brownie mix for example.  Scoop out a chunk of dough and roll into a 1″ ball in your hands.  Then roll the dough ball in sugar, coating evenly.  Place on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper about 2″ apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes (12-14 for airbake cookie sheets).  After about 1/2 time, rotate cookie sheet and sprinkle extra sugar on top of cookies.  Do not overbake the cookies, they will get really hard if you do.  The cookies will flatten out when they’re ready and be slightly stiff on the edges, but soft in the middle.  Allow to cool a couple minutes on the cookie sheet before transfering to wire cooling rack.

* Gluten Free Flour  
You can use any gluten free flour or make a mixture of your own. For this particular recipe I used the following that weighed out to 250g together:
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
50g white rice flour
remainder brown rice flour (just shy of 200g)

*TIPS:

  • I like to add extra salt, cinnamon, and ginger to the recipe to taste.  An extra pinch of salt or two gives it a nice sweet and salty taste.  I also like to add nutmeg and some all spice if I have it.
  • The cookies will continue to bake a while on the cookie sheet after you remove from the oven.  Keep this in mind since you take them out a little underdone, but also don’t leave them on too long or they will get crispy.
  • Let the cookie sheet cool a little between batches for a more even batch.  I alternate cookie sheets to allow for this.
  • This mixture is much stickier and more gooey than the original version.  I found it was best to put a little bit of sugar in my palm while I try to roll it into a ball to get it into a ball and not stuck to my hand.  Then I rolled it in the sugar.
  • I found that if I let the batter sit a few minutes after mixing it didn’t stick to my hands as much.
  • The cookies will flatten out to thin cookies, so allow enough room between the cookies to spread.  Also don’t worry if the balls aren’t exactly round, they will flatten out perfectly.

My First Metric Century Ride

July 2, 2013 - Leave a Response

CRAM Metric Century Ride

I did my first metric century bike ride recently in May.  Ok, first let’s get some vocabulary out of the way:

Century – (a) A time period of 100 years.  (b) A bike ride of 100 miles (a.k.a. a really long way!)

Metric – ya know, that universal method of measure that the rest of the world uses, e.g., kilometers, liters, grams.

Metric Century – A bike ride of 100 kilometers, or 62 miles.

So, yes, a metric century is a really, really long bike ride.  Not as insane as a century ride, but still not something you want to attempt without having had some serious saddle time already.  My longest ride to that point had been 50miles.  So I was pretty prepared for it.  I had also been training on very hilly routes and the CRAM is famously flat as a pancake.  In fact, many people try to ride the full century in under 4 hours.  Let me paint that picture for you, that’s riding over 25mph for 100 miles for 4 hours.  That’s insanity.

I’m really glad I did this ride.  The course is really similar to Muncie in that it’s incredibly flat and goes through a lot of farmland, but can be windy at times.  Fortunately we had no wind and the weather was really nice, starting out fairly cool,  and warming up after a couple hours.  I had never done any kind of mass group ride like this before and was pretty nervous, but it was a good laid back ride.

I found a couple people I knew from another training group and latched on to them so I’d have someone I knew to ride with, especially since I knew I wouldn’t be fast enough to hang with my friend with whom I carpooled to the race.  (Thanks for the ride Ken!!)  I felt like the course we really well marked and the rest stops were great.  Thumbs up for peanut butter sandwiches and pickles and extra sunscreen!!  Loved riding past all the farms, including seeing the Mennonite farm with the horse drawn equipment.  And to the packs of men who kept trying to pass our trio of women and then were more than happy to tuck in behind us and let us pull for the rest of the ride….bless your hearts.

It’s a no frills ride, no special finish line, no crazy party, no medal or fancy shirt (plain T with logo), but the registration only cost $30 the week of the race, so I can’t really complain. At the finish we had spaghetti and Dairy Queen ice cream sandwiches.  But for a last minute registration and a completely flat course only an hour away from home, I thought it was a great option.  There is another one in the fall on the same course.

Last rest stop. Follow us men, we know where we're going.

Last rest stop.
Follow us fellas, we know where we’re going.

One Month

June 13, 2013 - Leave a Response

One Month.

4 weeks.

30 days.

720 hours.

43,200 minutes.

There’s a lot of “time” in a month.  Temporal time, yes.  Actual time?

4 weekends.

2-3 really long brick workouts.

2-3 really long runs.

3-4 track workouts.

8-12 swim workouts.

7-8 bike rides.

4-5 mid-distance runs.

2-3 strength training sessions.

22+ 5am (or earlier) wake up calls.

2 weeks of taper.

1 long car ride to the middle of Indiana.

As of today, I am officially one month out from my first Half Ironman.  On the morning of July 13, I will be lining up along the shore of a lake outside Muncie, Indiana.  Once my group is called, I’ll swim 1.2miles, run to transition, then hop on my bike and pedal for 56miles.  After dropping my bike back off at transition, I’ll throw on my running shoes and run a half marathon before finally crossing a finish line.  My goal is to finish.  Over the past 6 months I have put in the training and have faith in my coach, my training, and my body to get me there.  But I still have one more month.  One month of training left.  One month of doubts.  One month of excitement.  One month of fears.  One month of confidence building.  A lot can happen in a month.  A lot can happen over the course of the day on July 13.  But I’m willing to do everything in my power to get myself to the finish line.

affresh_muncie

Portable Protein

June 10, 2013 - 2 Responses

I’m in the heaviest load of my training for my first Half Ironman.  I make a lot of jokes about training and eating, but I love food.  No seriously I really love food.  Partly why I exercise so much is so I can eat all the delicious things the world of gastronomy has to offer.  But the cycle is vicious, because when I train at these extraordinarily high volumes (burning twice my daily caloric intake in one workout at times!) I find myself needing to eat extraordinarily high volumes as well.  Seriously, you might be appalled at the tonnage of food this petite redhead can put away.  Often triathletes are accused of “hoovering” their food, it’s not pretty.

All jokes aside, I do need to make sure I’m getting enough calories, especially protein for muscles and sustained energy, throughout the day to get me through to the next workout.  I started making these “Egg Muffins” a couple years ago when I was working a flex schedule, arriving at the office at 6:30am, working 10-11 hours, and running or working out at lunch.  I needed something that would give me enough calories to get through the long morning.  I’ve become addicted since then.  They’re very easy to make, don’t require a lot of special ingredients, portable, and very satisfying.  Best part, you make 1-2 weeks worth in advance!  I pack them in my lunch and eat them at work, or as a quick protein snack on the go any other time!

Egg Muffins
(see notes below)

1 muffin tin
10 eggs
milk
salt and pepper to taste
“mixers” (any veggies or meats will do)
Cheese mixers (whatever you have on hand)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Crack eggs in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add milk or whatever you usually add to scrambled eggs.  Whisk eggs thoroughly.  Add mixers.   Add cheese mixers if you like.  Mix well.  Grease muffin cups if they are not nonstick.  Pour or ladle eggs into muffin cups about 2/3 full.  Top with extra mixers or cheese mixers.

Bake 25-30min.  The muffins will puff up as you bake them.  When time is up and they appear to be puffed, turn off the oven.  But leave the muffins in the oven to cool down with the oven!! If you take them out and let them cool at room temperature, they will sink in the middle.  Once cooled enough to handle the tin, remove from oven and allow to cool before storing.

To reheat: Microwave for 30-60 seconds depending on microwave strength.

mushrooms, spinach, monterey jack

mushrooms, spinach, monterey jack

NOTES:

Storage:  Muffins can be stored in containers or sandwich bags in fridge for 1-2 weeks.  They can be frozen for quite a good bit of time too.  I do recommend allowing them to thoroughly cool before freezing to avoid any frozen condensation and allowing to thaw before reheating to prevent extra moisture.

Muffin tins:  I prefer the oversized tin with 6 cups instead of 12 for larger muffins.  But when I’m not in heavy training, I use the 12 smaller ones instead.

Eggs:  I pick 10 eggs because it’s not quite 2 eggs per each muffin (it’s actually 1 2/3), but any amount will do.  Decide how much or little protein you want and go crazy!

Mixers:  Don’t over think this.  I take stock of whatever I have in my fridge/pantry that needs to be used.  I love mushrooms so I usually cut up mushrooms very small and add them.  If I have spinach on hand I add that for the potassium, just tear it up into tiny pieces.  The key is adding everything finely chopped so it distributes evenly.  Fresh herbs from the garden are lovely in the summer, or any other kind of seasoning you like.  You can also forego mixers and go natural.  I like regular egg muffins too.  Also, sometimes I wait to add the mixers until after I’ve put the egg mixture into the tins.  There is no wrong way to do this!

Cheese mixers:  I just check what I have on hand in the fridge. Then I sprinkle, cut up, grate, dollop whatever cheese or combination of cheeses I want into the mixture/tins.  I like to sprinkle some kind of shredded or grated cheese over the top of the muffins so it bakes in on top.  Parmesan or regular shredded mozzarella or cheddar is great for this.  But also like to cut up chunks of other cheeses like havarti into the eggs.  A nice herby goat cheese chevre bakes up lovely too!

Not the prettiest food, but so delicious.

Not the prettiest food, but so delicious.

 

Dickson Endurance Tri

June 5, 2013 - 4 Responses

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I raced the Dickson Endurance Triathlon last month.  It was my first tri of the season.  It was also the longest and hardest tri I’ve ever done. It is a really long race (between an Olympic and Half Ironman distance tri), and it’s really early in the season for that distance race, which means a lot of training has been done indoors or in the cold. It’s also a very difficult course with lots of steep and long hills.  It’s a newer race and it falls in between 2 popular local/regional races, so it’s not a huge race, or most people do the shorter, less challenging course sprint race.

Ready to race.

Ready to race?

I got 3rd Overall female! Out of 4. And 4th place was actually Masters Overall winner. So yay, overall podium finish, even it was last place.  I knew it was going to be a small race with only 7 women officially signed up and I was the only one in my age group.  But only 4 of us showed up.

Warm up done.

Warm up done.

Pre-race: I stayed at my mom’s house because she lives only a couple miles away and it’s about an hour drive from my house.  So I saved some time in the morning (and more potty breaks), and I also got to spend Mother’s Day with her.  I arrived at the race site early and with plenty of time to get set up in a good spot in transition, get body marked, and warm up on the bike and run.  I even had time to pour myself into my wetsuit and get in a warmup swim before they started the race.

New dance craze called "The Wetsuit Squeeze"

New dance craze: “The Wetsuit Squeeze”

Swim (1 mile- 34:15):
Water temp had dropped to about 68 degrees from the rain.  But it actually felt perfect, was warmer than the air temp, and much warmer than the local lake I where had been practicing.  I wore my wetsuit, and I also wore an extra cap under the cap they gave us, partly to conserve heat, but also I hate latex caps that pull my hair.  After they sent off the sprint racers, they did a wave of all men, then after 3 minutes, they sent the 4 of us off.

And then there 4. Also, totally swimming beyond rope!

And then there 4. Totally swimming beyond rope!

I really wish they had just done one wave for this race, and included us with the men.  That was a really lonely swim.  I had nobody to draft off of and any men I caught up to or passed were having trouble so I couldn’t swim with them.

Swimming at my own risk.

Swimming at my own risk, just like the sign says.

It was also a 2 loop swim.  I feel like I had to work extra hard for this swim without any help from drafting and even though the wetsuit helps with floating and speed, my left arm started getting tired from pulling that neoprene.

Wish you could really see the hill climbing back to transition.

Wish you could really see the hill climbing back to transition.

Then coming out of the water was the longest steepest hill I’ve ever seen that I had to run up to transition.  In a wetsuit.  I thought I’d never get back up there.  And I thought my inner thighs were going to stick together from the neoprene.

T1. Wetsuit off, get on bike.

T1. Wetsuit off, get on bike.

Bike (38 miles-2:24:27):
So this is where I went through several stages of grief.

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I knew coming out of the swim I was in 3rd among women, but about 6 miles into the bike, the 4th woman passed me and was long gone!  It’s a 2.5 loops course around the outside of the park.  As I finished the first loop, I heard the cop directing traffic say into his radio “Last 2 on the Endurance race.”  I freaked out.  I knew I was near the back, but I couldn’t believe I was so far behind and that many people had passed me already.  It was a really lonely bike ride for a while, because it’s a small race over a long distance and I was near the back.  Then I started getting really sad; I couldn’t believe I’d be the last to cross the finish.  I still had a hilly 9.3 miles to run once I got off the bike.  Then I got really mad that I was finishing this race alone, and at about 1/2 way through the second loop I started seeing some of the bikers ahead of me.  I could tell they were starting to struggle on the uphills.  I was mad, I wanted to catch them.  I’d get close as they went up hills (I’m a strong climber because I’m light), but lose them on downhills. Finally on the last 1/2 loop, we started climbing the longest hill of the race for the third time.  I could see 3 bikes not far ahead of me and I knew I could take them.  One by one I picked them off, including the 4th place woman at mile 30 who had left me behind 24 miles ago!  Yay!  I wasn’t last place anymore.  I played leap frog with this one older guy (how all of my races have been going lately) for the last 5-10 miles.  As I was riding back into transition (including the worst hill climb of the day) I realized I was beyond last place.

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Run (15k-1:27:56):
I got back to transition and took off on the run.

I don't look too happy.

I don’t look too happy.

This was going to be the hardest part, even though the run is my strongest leg, this course was brutal even without having swam and biked right before.  As I was running, I saw people still coming in on the bike.  I was SO far away from being last place.  I was relieved.

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I held off on taking water and a gel on the run as my stomach was still sloshing around a bit after the bike.  I finally got some Nuun from my handheld at the halfway point and eventually got a salt packet and a gel.  The cups of water they had at the abundant water stop tables was freezing cold and felt great as I poured them on my head a couple times.  I ran as much as I could, but still had to walk several hills.  I was exhausted and some of those hills were just easier to walk because you could get a longer stride instead of the death shuffle running your toes into the grade of the hill.  I chicked a lot more guys on the run.  Every single person in this was race was so incredibly nice and positive!  Everyone said a “good job” or “looking good” or “way to go” to each other.  Every single time.  I love this!  No guys getting their man-panties in a wad that I chicked them.  The last brutal hill back into finish was a killer.  I ran as much as I possibly could but walked quite a bit.  Around 7.5 miles I was ready to be done. I didn’t want to carry my handheld water bottle, in fact I didn’t want anything touching me at all. Over stimulus anyone?  I was so happy to run in towards that finish, and get my chocolate milk and a Coke out of my car, my post-race treats!

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Total: 4:30:56 – 3rd Overall
Pretty sweet haul too.  Every finisher got a technical race shirt, a pretty nice medal (printed on both sides), and a pair of socks.  But I also got a nice plaque, giant tub of drink mix, and the coolest coffee mug complete with its own stirring spoon for my podium finish!

swagdickson

Back of the medal. And I definitely plan to make some hot chocolate in that mug!

Back of the medal. And I definitely plan to make some hot chocolate in that mug!

My biggest hurdle with this race was getting in the distance both physically and mentally, as well as testing and managing my nutrition without bonking or hurling.  I got through both!  I listened to my body and took in fuel/fluids when I needed and more importantly backed off when I needed to.  This was my big temperature gauge for the Half Ironman in Muncie in July. It was a shorter distance and better weather (perfect weather actually!), but it was a much more difficult course.  Now all I have to do is just add on some mileage and some hot weather coping skills and I’m ready for the flat courses in Muncie next month!

BiT months 3&4

May 24, 2013 - Leave a Response

The latest update from Body in Training entries. I’ve decided to keep these as monthly but I’ll only post bi-monthly.

Month 3
Never really got a good chance to get a picture outside with good lighting, so unfortunately this one had to be inside, with less than optimum lighting.  Oh yeah, I got a new haircut.  Does it make me more aero?  My weight, body fat, BMI, and blood pressure are down.

bit3front

Bit3back

Height: 63.5″
Weight: 133.6lbs
Blood Pressure: 117/76
BMI: 23.3
Body Fat: 18.8%
Fat weight: 25.1lbs
Lean (fat-free) weight: 108.5lbs
Total Body Water: 33.6663 Liters, or 60.4%

Month 4
Finally got to get back outside for a picture.  You can see my lovely plants and herbs I’m planning to grow this summer, and a cameo from Diva Kitty eating grass.  Again, my weight, BMI, and blood pressure are all down a little bit.  My body fat percentage went back up.  I figure this is either last month’s reading wasn’t entered properly and/or I am retaining some water from this month since it’s about 5 days out from a race.  It’s only 0.1% higher than BiT month 2.

bit4front

bit4back

Height: 63.5″
Weight: 133lbs
Blood Pressure: 115/75
BMI: 23.2
Body Fat: 20.9%
Fat weight: 27.7lbs
Lean (fat-free) weight: 105.4lbs
Total Body Water: 34.62 Liters, or 60.2%

For comparison, you can find BiT month 1 here, and BiT month 2 here.

Oak Barrel Half Marathon

May 23, 2013 - Leave a Response

finish

I know I’m super late with this race recap, but there was so much awesome in this race that it took me a while to get it all together, then ya know life gets busy.  I gotta say I’ve never been to a race that had such a welcoming small hometown feel.  The runners were clearly the priority that day.  To give you an idea of this race’s demographics: About 1,100 people ran the race (including a lot of locals), and the town only has about 5,700 people in it.  So, with the runners and the volunteers, pretty much the whole town was out for this race.  Every water stop was manned with several people and there was a water stop about every couple miles.  And those who weren’t running or volunteering, were sitting on their porches waving back at all the runners.  The only thing I probably saw more during the race were cows and they’re rude and don’t wave back.

town square

“Downtown Lynchburg” The cutest little square you’ll ever see.

Lynchburg, TN is also the home of Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey.  Yes, it’s made here.  No, you can’t buy it here; it’s a dry county.  Yes, most people who live here work there.  You see the influence Jack all over the town, and they are a sponsor of the race.  No, there wasn’t any Jack at the finish line.

Oak Barrel Half Marathon – April 6, 2013

Pre-race
Fortunately this race didn’t start until 8am, so we had time to drive the 90+ minutes to get down to Lynchburg, TN.  Normally it takes about 90 minutes, but with the tiny town (and roads) and extra race day traffic, we gave ourselves plenty of time to get there.  Early morning wake-up, make coffee, prep a banana and a bagel with peanut butter and throw on my race clothes, hop in the car and point it south.  I was able to do my pre-race nutrition in the car ride down and made one potty stop along the way.  When we got there, we wound around the town and back fields to get parking, then went to registration and picked up our packets, shirts, and bib numbers.  I made a bee line for the porta potty lines to get one last relief before the race, attaching my bib number while in line.

Race
Pretty soon it was nearing 8am for race start.  We all just stood around near the start line (love small races!) and the race director literally just counted down 3-2-1-GO for the start.  Nothing fancy, no starting gun,  just getting down to business, just how I like it.

We quickly wound around to the main highway for a very short stretch, then were deep into the farmland.  We ran past a cow pasture, that smelled very strong.  Nothing like huffing and puffing along in a race, and all you can smell are cow patties.

Not long after the cows, we started the slow climb towards Whiskey Hill.  As this is a very rural, small town race, you don’t have a lot of bands or cheerleaders along the course. So as we were running into the wooded area and starting the slow climb, I could hear “Dueling Banjos.”  Yes.  That.  Nothing like being in the backwoods and getting flashbacks of Deliverance.  Turns out someone had a generator and a boombox tucked back into the trees.  Nice one.

Whiskey Hill
This is the race’s defining aspect and pops up around mile 5.  It is a mile long hill, and you don’t notice the first 3/4 of  mile, but the last 1/4 mi is character building.  It starts getting really steep, then it turns a corner and it becomes impossibly steep.  I came down a couple weeks before to preview the course and the hill.  I knew what I had in store for me.  I planned to try to run to the top, but it became clear that walking was faster because you could get longer strides rather than trying to tippy-toe your way up it.  That and my heart rate started getting out of control.  This hill has so much character, it even has its own Facebook page.

After Whiskey Hill, I totally expected to just fall my way down towards the finish line.  This race supposedly has negative elevation gain.  Yeah, no.  Once I hit mile 6, I knew I was near another water station. I turned the corner and it was Whiskey Hill’s baby brother.  Another damn steep hill.  I was not pleased.  This was a part of the course I had not previewed, so I wasn’t ready for it.  Actually turns out the entire course is nothing but rolling hills.  The elevation chart is a lie.  You almost never feel the effects of the downhills.  I quickly learned this is not an easy or PR course.  It is a course to have fun, enjoy the scenery and relish the finish line!

I had a goal finish time in mind.  I knew with all these hills, it might be hard to do, but I’d been training hard and I could push it.  Then at mile 9, a side stitch hit.  What?! I haven’t had a side stitch in years.  It got so bad, I actually had to walk for a bit, and if I let my pace drop below 9min/mi it became unbearable.  I could see my finish time slipping away. I pushed through and maybe around mile 12, it finally let up. I seriously had a side stitch for 20-30min! So I tried to haul whatever I had left on the main highway towards the finish in the last mile.

Final Time: 1:55:56 (15/114 AG) I still had a PR, even if it’s just by a minute.

Swag!

Swag!

Finish Line
But the real bonus to this race is the finish line!  You cannot ask for a better race finish!  You get handed a wooden medal, a pair of Swiftwick socks with the logo on it, and your choice of a running hat or visor with the logo on it! All to match the shirt you got when you picked up your bib!

hoecakes2

But here’s the real treat. You know you’re at a race in the South, when there are Hoecakes and SunDrop at the finish line.  Yes, I did partake.  And yes they are the best hoecakes I’ve ever had!  There was plenty of other food and drinks too; pizza, bagels, bananas, fruit, Brunswick Stew, Gatorade, water.

sundrop hoecake

Then they had a little local band set up that was actually pretty decent playing off past the food area.  Love the stage set up around the Whiskey Barrels.

post band

But my favorite (ok maybe second favorite after the hoecakes and SunDrop) was coming across the spontaneous pickin’ session in front of one of the shops on the tiny town square.  You can’t get any more small Tennessee town than this!

All in all, I would totally do this race again.  It was a cheap race registration, had the best volunteer support, and the finish line and swag were phenomenal.  And I’ve learned my lesson to stop trying to get massive PRs on hilly courses.  This is a race to enjoy!

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