Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tri for Free and Half a Vineman

So after taking off 6 days from training, I got back on the saddle, and back in the wetsuit on Saturday morning for the first Annual Tri for Free, sprint triathlon at Lake Anza. See, they have these sprint triathlons that they call Tri for Fun, and they were having one at Shadow Cliffs that day, but they cost $65, and I don't see anything fun about paying $65 to do a sprint tri. So my friends and I planned our own sprint tri. We swam about a mile in Lake Anza (40 minute swim), then did a very hilly 17 mile bike ride out and back on Grizzly Peak, and then a three mile run. I didn't do the run, so I guess I only did the Aqua Bike, but it was super fun. I really think this should become an annual event. We had great food afterward, and we even got T-shirts!

Then today a lot of the Iron Team (plus Dave and Alex) did one of the Vineman loops. I started out the ride falling off my bike before we even started and knocking down my friend Jenn. 

Now I may have matching scars on my knees!
Well after that, things did get better, the ride was nice, even though I got lost twice. Word of advice, don't forget to take a copy of the directions, do not think you are going to just keep up with people, because everyone can kick your butt, and then you just have to ride around the valley asking random people if they know how to get to Chalk Hill or if they have seen other riders in green and purple!

It was super hot out there today, says it was over 90 degrees. I was so hot and tired when I got back to the parking lot after 4 hours and ten minutes, I went straight to my sandwich, and started eating it, and drinking a coke, when I realized a lot of the girls weren't around. I asked where they were, and was told they were all running!  Oops...I guess we were supposed to run after the ride. Another word of advice, running after eating half a sandwich and coke in 90 degree weather after a 57 mile bike ride is no fun! But hey, I kept telling myself at Canada I won't be done with my bike until 4 or 5 in the afternoon, so I won't be running in the heat at noon!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Survived the East Bay Century!

It's already Wednesday, and I have been thinking about writing about last weekend, but I keep putting it off. But if I don't do it now, I won't ever do it.

So last Saturday was our East Bay Century ride. 97 miles of pure torture, including about 8,000 feet of climbing. I had been looking forward to this ride, because I like to be challenged, but my body wasn't in the best condition on Saturday. I got sick last Monday, and by Saturday I wasn't feeling too hot. My doctor had given me an inhaler to use because she said I was wheezing a little, but she didn't tell me not to do the ride. So Saturday I woke up after only 4.5 hours of sleep and got ready for the longest ride of my life (not longest in distance, but in time).

The weatherman had said it would be warm and sunny, but for the first 50 miles we were riding in the fog/clouds/ and wind.

Our first 10 miles were spent climbing to the rangers station on Mt. Diablo. It took me about 2 hours, which means I was going slower than 10 miles per hour! I felt so sick and I couldn't breathe well. I used the inhaler, but I kept thinking that maybe I was wearing myself to thin. Maybe I was pushing too hard. I didn't want to push myself to the point of exhaustion and then not be able to continue with my training, but I also didn't want to give up. I was having a huge debate in my head.

Part of me thought it would be best to pull out of the ride, and go home and sleep all weekend, and wait to train until I felt better. But I really didn't want to give up, because it was such a big event, I wanted to do it, and be able to know that I had done a ride that was that hard. At the ranger station I began to cry, because I was sure that I was going to have to quit before the ride was over, because of how I was feeling, and I was really disappointed in myself.

But when I got off Mt. Diablo, Grace caught up to me and we began biking together. We were talking and having fun, and she would wait for me when I had to stop and take my inhaler. She let me draft behind her when I was tired. She even found my street for me!

We had just turned on to Redwood here. I was still considering skipping the Three Bears, or getting sagged in. But the funny thing is, I began to feel  a little better. We were taking it slow, and having fun, and I think I had hacked up most of what had been in my lungs. Not pretty....Grace was super nice to stay with me. I was quite disgusting that day.

And then Tony comes riding up. Actually a lot of people came riding up because they had 2 start times. Slow people started at 6:30 and fast people started at 7:30, so by about mile 45 all the fast people were catching up and passing us. So Tony rides up and chats with us for a while. I complain that I am sick, and then he tells me he is sick too, and describes all the symptoms I have...phlegm, tiredness, sore throat, etc. But the thing was, he wasn't complaining about it, but just telling me because I asked. He was in such a good mood (like I guess he usually is) and then he went on up the mountain in front of us. So then I thought to myself: I am either sick enough that I need to stop now and get sagged in, or I am not that sick, and I can do this, and if I can do it, then I need to stop complaining and feeling sorry for myself.

At that point I decided I was going to do the whole thing. Grace and I were having a really good time, and I didn't want to leave her to do Three Bears by herself, and I was actually feeling a lot better. The sun had come out, and I had made the decision to be happy, and that helped me feel better.

Eddie ended up catching up with us too, and we took on the Three Bears (all six of them). We may have been going slow enough for me to take pictures while we were riding, but we did them all, and then we did Pig Farm Hill, and the Reliez Valley (which is NOT a valley but a big, mean, long hill), and made it back to our start in about 10 hours and 20 minutes.

I was super tired when I was done, but so happy that I had stuck with it. Now I know if I can do that sick, I can totally do an Ironman healthy...that being said. I know it might not have been the best decision to actually stick with the ride. I need to take care of myself and get healthy, so I can continue my training and actually complete this thing. SO I am taking 6 days off of training, Sunday to Friday, and I am going to go to bed early and rest. And hopefully I will be rested enough to start my training again this weekend.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My First Marathon!

I am still in a little bit of shock...I just ran a marathon yesterday.

This weekend was great. I flew down to San Diego on Thursday night and hung out with my brother and his wife, Kathy. Kathy and I went to the expo on Friday and picked up our race bibs:
I had lied on my application saying I would finish the race in 4 hours and 30 minutes, when I was really aiming for 5 hours and 30 minutes, but I wanted a lower number than last year. :)

The night before the race I  made homemade spaghetti sauce, with turkey instead of beef, in order to be more healthy. I've realized that I have begun to eat like crap, since I've been working out so much. But that probably doesn't give my body the fuel it needs, so I am going to try and make healthier decisions when eating from now on. It's about making sure I feel great when I do my events, not about being able to eat whatever I want just because I train so hard. I want to feel really good when I am doing Ironman Canada...and I think it will help to eat right. I am also thinking I will give up alcohol for the month of August.  I think it will be good for training...and after that I should be a pretty cheap date. ;)

Homemade spaghetti and southwestern salad...weird combo, but it worked:
 So the morning of the race, I got up at 4:15 am. I had put all my stuff together the night before, and I actually got a fairly good nights sleep. It's weird, I didn't feel that nervous. I knew the race was going to be more than I had ever done (the longest run I had ever done was 18 miles), but I also knew that with all the great coaching and training I am getting from Iron Team, that I would be able to do it...even if it was super hard.
When John dropped Kathy and I off, we did what everyone should do when they are at an event with 40,000 participants: we got in line for the bathroom:
I actually had to go three times before the race started. I was worried I wasn't going to be able to start in my corral, but I found a line that was going quickly, and got back to my corral just in time to start on time.

So now for the breakdown of the race.  Like I said, I had never ran more than 18 miles before, but when I had done those 18 miles I had felt pretty good. I maintained an 11 minute 45 second mile throughout the whole thing. So before the race started, I thought if I could just maintain that pace for the whole thing I would be pretty happy with my race and would come in somewhere around 5 and a half hours. But then the race started, and there were so many people, and I was so excited, and I felt soooo good, since this was the first long run I had done without having done at least a 7 hour workout the day I started running faster than the pace I had been planning on. I stuck with the run 10 minutes/walk 2 minutes, but when I reached the first 5K at about 33 minutes, I realized I was going faster. But it was so much fun, and I didn't feel like I was pushing myself too hard, so I just kept at that pace. Or tried to...I think I was still good at 10K, but after that I started to notice that each 5K was getting a little slower. 

Now it's hard for me to do math when I am working out, but I kept thinking if I was doing 11 minute miles then I would have been doing 5ks in 33, then 66, then 99 minutes, etc. Anyway, I was still feeling good at 20K and when I passed the 13.1 mile marker I thought to myself: "Wow, if I had just signed up for the Half marathon I would be finished...that wouldn't have been a very good workout." At this point I was still feeling great, and was happy to see that I was at about 2 hours and 20 minutes, which meant, I could possibly get in under 5 hours. 
Me at mile 14: I still look super happy!

Then at mile 16 my legs started to feel heavy, and there was this huge long out and back on the most boring street ever. No view of anything except the other runners coming back in. I knew I had to go out to some unknown point that I couldn't see, and come all the way back. I also thought it was weird that my legs had started to feel the run, because when I did the 18 mile run, I hadn't felt bad at all. Now of course I realize it was probably because I had been running faster than I had run before. I know...bad me, I totally did not get negative splits at this race.

So at that point, when I realized I had 10 miles left to run, I switched from 10 minute run/2 minute walk to a 4/1 ratio. When you are tired, the thought of running 10 minutes sounds incredibly hard, but I found that running just 4 minutes seems somewhat doable. 

When I got to mile 18 and I was back from that out and back...which is weird, it must  have only been about 2 miles, but it felt like 50, I saw that I had done 18 miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes. That was 14 minutes faster than I had done it in training. I knew there and then I really, really wanted to get a sub 5 time. So I went up and over the bypass and started running by Mission Bay. I didn't feel half bad, and when I got to mile 20 (where they were passing out GU, which I grabbed a whole bunch to stick in my back pockets...cause I really like them and knew at some point I would want them) I remember Margo telling me: "It's a 20 mile warm up and a 6 mile run" So I started to speed up on my 4 minute runs...I felt great for the first 4 minutes, and then by the second one (after mile 20) I started to get a little cramp in my side. I've never really gotten cramps while running since I started training for I thought I should just slow down a little and breathe deeply. It would get better during my 1 minute walk, but would come back by the end of each 4 minute run.  I remember some people talking about how cramping means you don't have enough salt, so I took out a nuun and put it in my water helped a little. I really wanted to walk at this point (for longer than my 1 minute), but I knew if I did I would never make it in under 5. So I kept pushing myself. I kept telling myself: "If you think you feel bad now, just think of how much worse you are going to feel doing this after 112 mile bike ride" and "just keep doing it, it's only 6 more miles, you can do anything for 6 miles, you have done 6 miles exhausted before, you can do it now." 

I think the only way to get through the last 6 miles of a marathon is to keep telling yourself, you can do it. That got me through to mile 25. At miles 25 I saw I had 15 minutes to run 1.2 miles. I was thinking I could definitely do that, and I should probably stop the 4 minute run/1 minute walk and just run it in, to make sure. But for some reason, during that last mile, my cramps spread out across my entire upper abdomen. It was a pain I had never experienced before. I stopped and walked for a little bit. But I kept looking at my watch and I didn't have time to walk in my last mile. My legs weren't hurting me anymore, so I wasn't worried about injuring myself, it was just so painful to run. I started holding in my stomach with my hands, pushing down super hard, because the pressure made the pain go away a little bit. 

I was so close to the finish line, I could see it, and here the music and I wanted to be able to sprint it in like I did in the shoot at Wildflower, but I couldn't let go of my stomach. Of course then I saw my brother right before the finish line, and he had a camera, so my vanity was able to help me do, what my willpower wasn't, and I lifted up my arms to get a good shot: 
So that looks like a smile on my face...but my grimaces of pain often look like smiles!

I crossed the finish line in 4:59:09, and really the one thing that kept me going that last mile was that I knew I had put in the work that day, I had worked hard all day I wasn't going to let one last measly mile do me in! Of course when I crossed, I bent over wheezing. It was hard to breathe, and I've never felt like that before in my life. I felt like crying because I couldn't breathe well and was doubled over in pain, and none of the volunteers were even coming over to help me. But I kept breathing, and in about a minute or two, I could breathe normally again. Thank goodness!

The first thing I did when I was done (besides eat a banana) was tell my brother I wanted to go soak in the Bay. I thought tons of people would be there, since I couldn't imagine what it would feel like if I didn't soak my legs in ice cold water for 20 minutes. But when I got down there, I was all alone. Those marathoners don't know anything about recovering!
Of course, I am still in a lot of pain today, so I guess it didn't help completely...But I am sure I would be much worse off if I hadn't gone for a dip.

All in all it was an amazing day. I learned that I can run 26.2 miles! And that I can enjoy most of it.
It's time to hang my medal up on my windowsill with the other ones...although I feel like this one should have a special place.
Kathy (who totally kicked my butt) and me with our heavy medals ;)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

3 days left!

Three days left until I officially become one of those people that I used to say were absolutely nuts. Now sure, I know some of you will say that I have already passed over into that realm. Doing triathlons, and Half Ironmans, and training for an Ironman.  But growing up I never really thought about triathlons, and I didn't even know what an Ironman was...but I always knew what a marathon was and I thought the people who did them were certifiably crazy! I remember telling my brother how bad it was for his knees and other joints to run that long. And now I sit here, about to run 26.2 miles in three days! And you know what, I don't feel that crazy.

I feel happy and excited, and I really feel like I will be able to do this! The 18 miles I ran wasn't that bad and I did that the day after I did a double brick that lasted 8 hours. So I am looking forward to Sunday.

And while I sit at the airport, waiting for my delayed flight to take me to San Diego, carbo loading on Hefeweizen, I wonder if I am going to have to eat my words on Sunday afternoon. I really hope it isn't torturous!

Cheers to all you crazy marathoners! I will see you on Sunday: