Friday, June 29, 2012

Move over Amway and Melalucca!

When I was looking for a job out of college about 1/10 employment ads were really multi-level marketing opportunities. I quickly learned that most of those opportunities weren't really jobs but simply a way to empty ones wallet.

Yesterday I was invited to join a MLM for organic grass-fed beef and dairy products. Really. I know.

Amazingly, I was able to resist the totally not overwhelming desire to participate :-)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My first 100 miler

Okay full disclosure it was 100 miles over 2-days.

Had you there for a minute didn't I :-) (wink, wink).

I did my second ever trip to Clermont this past weekend. Which is where we flatlanders go to find some rolling hills. It's in central Florida. Home also to the National Training Center (NTC) where rock stars like Sara McClarty train full time.

The weather sucked for the drive up - solid rain for the whole trip due to Tropical Storm Betty in the Gulf. Amazingly it was cloudy but dry for the whole day Saturday so we did 67 miles.
This picture is not actually me in the front it's another Miamian named Janet. But there behind her in the pink with the white arms that's me. And that bike on the ground way over that's Meli - if you were to zoom you'd see I'm looking at her saying come on get up and go go go.

Then Sunday it rained. A few people in our group didn't ride. I however wanted to face my fear of riding in the rain. For Motivation Man it had looked like it might rain all day and I was really nervous about that. I don't want to be afraid of something outside of my control. So off we went. The first downhill was terrifying. But then we did a loop around the lake 3 times that was flat.  We did 34 miles. It was good practice because now I am more comfortable with how my bike handles in wet ... really wet conditions.
I'm actually in the car with the bikes on top. Roof racks are cool. Efficient I'm not so sure but cool and cool looking yes.
So my toosh is sore. But otherwise I feel pretty good. I need/want a light for my bike. But I feel solid with my bike mileage at the moment.

In other news two of my friends became Ironmen this weekend. One at Coeur d'Alene Idaho in 15;24 and another in France in 15:10. Both had 8 hour bike splits. I cannot imagine being on the bike for 8 hours. Cannot imagine it at all.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The (aspiring) Ironman - my new normal

Believe it or not I know two people going for their first Ironman distance races this weekend.

One in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and another in Nice, France.

Cool, eh.

Nowadays this seems very normal to me. I am sort of surrounded by Ironpeeps all the time. To be honest, I see an ironman distance race in my future and while it's a big goal - a very big goal. Strangely it doesn't seem impossible. It is something not everyone can do so I don't take it for granted but at the moment it seems doable.

But it wasn't always this way. Sometimes I forget that not everyone is an Ironman ... not everyone goes off for the weekend and does 100 mile bike rides. Not everyone gets up pretty regularly at 5 am to go swim or run.

I was thinking about it this morning. That way back when I started training for a marathon - that seemed like the biggest goal ever. Even then I didn't know anybody who had completed an ironman distance race. Or even an ultramarathon. I just knew aspiring marathoners and those who had already done a bunch of marathons. Some really exclusive folks who had done the amazing - qualifying for Boston.  But no ironmen in my circle.

Over the years my family and my friends have gotten used to my daily and weekly endurance running. And when I added biking and swimming a few years ago - they took it in stride. We don't plan Friday night events. My husband knows that I don't stay up late. My inlaws and friends are not surprised or shocked to hear that I biked 60 miles or ran 10-20 miles.

But every once in a while I end up in a circle of people who aren't ironmen. It catches me off guard. There won't be any tatoos on calves - no funny shorts tanlines. No water bottles or compression socks. If I mention that I'm going to run 10 miles a person might be amazed or even find it bizarre. It catches me off guard because this little segment of the world this endurance Ironman clique has become my new normal.

I love it.

We have our own language, bricks aren't for building buildings, zones are for heart rates. We get up early, we rarely stay up super late. We obsess about food.  We read obscure forums, we accumulate shoes and race bibs. We carry compressed air for bike tires. We trim our fingernails to avoid ripping our wet suits. We sport bizarre tan lines and there isn't enough sunscreen in the world to prevent it.

So, this weekend my friends Jim and Benji will go out and do their races and I'll continue to train  (probably 100 miles on the bike over 2 days) because sometime in the future - most likely September 2013 I'll go out and complete mine. Then I'll have an even newer normal not the aspiring Ironman but the veteran Ironman.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bad Mango Tree!

Well hello, Mango Season.

Did you know it was Mango season?

Well why yes  here in South Florida it is Mango Season and guess who happens to have a Mango tree? Me!
Here is the mango tree in my back yard. See the little yellow balls - those are ripe mangos.

I actually don't love the taste of Mango. But my kids do and I love that they love it and I like to eat things and serve things that come out of my back yard. Connecting to food and all that. Our Mango tree ripens early because it has Honey Mangos (artufo mangos?)which are smaller and yellow instead of Red. Not that it matters much - it doesn't.

So, in anticipation of the upcoming mango season I had purchased a Mango Picker. It's a pool cleaning pole with a sharp part at the end and a basket.

The Mango Picker got off to a bad start when my son gave himself a doozy of a bad cut on his hand from reaching in at the sharp part. Luckily he did not take off a finger or need stitches so we are basically no worse for the wear here at casa de Mango.
Nope not the pool skimmer - the mango picker. See the razor blades up there at the top (just under the yellow danger / peligroso sticker) yup Jack and Ana didn't see them either.
The cuts happened when he was mango picking with our housekeeper, Ana. Two days later to make sure that neither Ana or Jack were traumatized by this experience I lead the next Mango Picking extravaganza. I was dressed for my track workout (shorts, singlet, shortie socks) which immediately followed the Mango picking. We picked about 50-60 Mangos off the tree. It was fun - Jack climbed the tree. Ana helped Jack and everybody was all smiles. My husband came home - and I set off for the track.

I did my track workout, including stretching where apparently my hands touched my legs- ate sushi with my track buddies and came home where I took a quick shower because I smelled bad.

I went to bed and around 5:30 AM I woke up with what I thought was a super annoying mosquito bite around my knees. I got up and was sort of amazed to see that my legs were covered in itchy, red angry hives. While scratching frantically I saw that so were my arms and what's this on my chest ... ack is this crap spreading!?!?. Oh boy this was not good. The red angry mounds were swollen and hot to the touch and as mentioned before - itched like crazy.

Hmmm... did I mention my husband was out of town. Ugh ... single parenthood with an itchy rash. Wonderful!

So, I showered again. Smeared aveno creme all over me which neither helped with the itching nor smell good. Got the kids to camp and went straight to the doctor/nurse practitioner. I had seen her a few days earlier for a patch of itchy on my arm. I was blaming the intracoastal swim ... she had said that was most likely not it but we couldn't figure what it was so I went on my merry way.  I did not have an appointment ... I just went in. Had the office been closed I may have gone to the ER I was miserable. But the office was open. The receptionist said ... oh Poison Ivy. I said, I don't think so. She put me into a room where I tried not to scratch non-stop. I'll be honest I wasn't doing a good job of that.
I took this picture of my hairy leg just a moment ago. Notice the red part? That is a remaining part of the rash. I had that all over my legs and arms and chest. Interestingly I noticed that this "strip" is exactly the length of my thumb - coincidence, me thinks no. I think I probably rested my hand here while driving the car.
The Nurse Practitioner came in. She took me through what I had done the day before. (swam, ate breakfast, mommyhood, lunch, mommyhood, mangos, track, sushi, heat game, shower, bed). When I finished she said ... it's most likely the Mango Tree.

The sap is a relative to Poison Ivy. Lots of people can't even touch them. You probably got sap all over you. Aha ... news to me but okay then it's the mango tree.

Stupid Mango Tree! It makes sense - the Mango picker does cut the stem and they ooze sticky sap. Several high up mangos missed the basket and would bounce around on the ground I probably did have sap all over me.

She found samples of itch creme and gave me a giant prescription for more. Told me it should last a week. A week sounded like forever when surviving a minute was all I could do. I filled the prescription and then went home and sat on the couch covered in creme trying not to scratch. It was agony.

So I've applied the itch creme 2-3 times a day and the rash is going away. Slowly. But it is better. Alas, no more mango picking for me unless I'm totally covered with clothing because this sucks!

But you gotta pick the mangos because if you don't the fruit all falls onto the ground and attracts critters that you want in your yard even less than you want an itchy rash.

Also - PS - tie in this is my excuse for not training Friday. My Saturday and Sunday excuse is slackerdom.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I ate Hemp seeds ... do I look healthier?

I went to Whole Foods because I needed chia seeds. Also I recently watched Food inc., as a result I may never go to a traditional grocery store again...until next week.
yup ... I bought hemp hearts.

I picked these up because Hemp has been on my mind. I read a book, Brendan Braizer's Thrive. In it he refers to hemp as a source of protein. News to me because I had always thought it was a source of marajuana.

Turns out it's both. Talk about a multipurpose plant.

I didn't burst them out right away as a snack because quite honestly I was expecting them to be disgusting. This is because I find most vegetarian sources of protein to be ... a little gross. By this I am referring to mainly tofu, and tempe and perhaps other fermented grains/beans that I may have tried in the past. I have no issue with legumes ... other than that they give me gas.

But today the kids were at camp and I was hungry and so I opened the bag. The instructions are to put the seeds on cereal or in yogurt but I don't eat yogurt or really cereal. Okay perhaps I should have read the instructions before buying the product. Whatever. I sniffed the bag. No odor really. I reached in and picked some up. It does sort of feel like chopped nuts. I ate them. They taste kind of like chopped nuts. Pretty good actually. I poured some into my hand and gobbled them up. No problem.
these are the little edible seeds in my hand.

Why would anyone eat Hemp Seeds?
Good question. One obvious answer is vegetarians searching for more protein in their diet. I however am not a vegetarian although I try to eat only a little meat.

So Hemp seeds have protein in them and amino acids (which I thought were a biproduct of protein so that's a little confusing) and also Omega 3 and 6.  Source: The Nourishing Gourmet.

They do come from the same plant that some of us may have smoked to alter our consciousness at various college-related parts of our lives. But apparently the seeds in the grocery store don't contain any of the mind-altering goodness. In fact the manufacturer even takes a pledge that it has no THC in it which they print on the bag. So don't eat them if you want to alter your consciousness.

I also found another blog extolling the benefits of these. According to the Clean Cuisine & More blog the Omega 3 & 6 are good because they reduce inflammation. I can speak from experience that other things that reduce inflammation are good things when paired with long endurance events: ice baths, ibuprofen :-)

How will I eat Hemp Seeds?
A little online research revealed that a lot of people put these into their smoothies. Can you say a lot of people eat hemp seeds? Probably not. Let's try again ... a large percentage of the admittedly very small portion of the world who eats hemp seeds put them in their smoothies. (Better?)

I am probably not going to do that only because when I make smoothies it's for my kiddos and they are pretty boring with their ingredients.  They like bananas, strawberries, rasberries, blueberries juice and ice. They did not like my green smoothie experiments. They don't like when I put greek yogurt in or chia seeds into the smoothie. They did accept mango the other day which is good because we have about 500 mangoes on our tree right now. But I digress.

What I might do is add a scoop of these to my Saturday and Sunday morning oatmeal. I used to put nuts in my oatmeal and loved it but we have a nut-free house because my youngest has a nut allergy so this might be exactly what the veggie doctor ordered.

I also think that these could be used if you bread things for frying which is something I don't really do anymore but they are almost the consistency of panko or bread crumbs.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ultra-endurace and my heart

Recently there was an article published by Scientific American entitled, Ultrarunning Might be bad for your Heart.

My husband saw it first. He felt strongly enough about it that it was the first thing he mentioned when he got home from work. I hadn't seen it because I avoid most news on a daily basis. But I looked it up. It got my attention.

My father died from heart disease. I had just completed a 7 hour triathlon - you can see the connection.

It seemed like a pretty damning set of information. It also seemed one-sided and that set my little journalist-training sensors off. While I certainly don't work as a reporter I actually went to school to be a journalist. I still have my copy of the AP Style Book stuffed into a box somewhere. Okay, okay, a photojournalist but I still think I took an entire class on research.  I'd have to check my transcript to be sure,  it may have just been parts of other classes.

I seem to remember that if you're reporting on something it's a good idea to have more than one unique source. If I remember correctly a unique source means that they should be really separate - unrelated. So you shouldn't source one report on heart disease and a supporting source which contributed to that same report. Instead you would try to find a totally separate source (like a cardiologist who treats endurance athletes but didn't contribute to the report) regarding the same information. That way the reporting is as unbiased as possible and also hopefully accurate.

My first online search found the news release from the Mayo Clinic. You can find it here.

I read it. And I watched the sourced video.

And my stomach turned sour. Not because of the information contained but because that's what it is. But it seems to me that the Scientific American Article may have come entirely from the News Release.

It took me 7 minutes to request the full study. Which is now available to the public here

Seven minutes. I requested it at 9:20 in the morning. I received a reply at 9:27.

It took me about 10 minutes to read the report.

My point is - I'm pretty sure that the reporter could have made her deadline and gotten the original source rather than the just the news release.  Maybe she did read it - I actually have no way of knowing.  I did send her a tweet - she didn't respond. My tweet may have been a little irritating in tone so if the positions were reversed I may not have responded either. I also can't say that having the full article would have changed the content or tone of the finished article.

If you're curious read the actual report and form your own opinions.

Another Study - the power of Google
Even then it would have just been one source. Here's an example of an article on Runners World that has 6 sources. Just as an example. This article happens to be older but you get the idea. More sources might equal more well rounded article and better information for the reader.

So, I did what any person with a question and too much time does: I googled it. I'll be honest I was hoping for a flurry of articles disagreeing with this articles sentiment but instead I found this one from the New York Times which does in fact point to more research questioning whether too much exercise can cause heart damage. 

It's from a totally different study. So, while the information scared me a little bit I was happy to have read it. 

I will say that I found the New York Times article to be much more balanced. Much more informative. Less panic inducing and generally a better article. That's probably why it never made it to page one of Yahoo news.

But now I'm at about 40 minutes of work and I've found a second supporting source that would have given more support to her article. I asked myself what else might have made this article better?

I took a moment brainstormed what other sources might have been interesting to hear from as a reader related to this topic. Here are some that I quickly came up with:
  • A cardiologist who works with endurance athletes. I already mentioned that above.
  • An actual competitive endurance athlete. (Scott Jurek, Dean Karnazes, Lance Armstrong)
  • An actuary. Those are the folks who figure out mortality figures for life insurance companies. They might have an estimate for the risk of dying from this versus other stuff.
  • Dr. Oz (he always seems to have an opinion).
  • A coach working with endurance athletes perhaps Alberto Salazar who himself has a heart condition and is currently training elite runners? That would be interesting to me to hear his opinion.

Unfortunately, I still have a bunch of unanswered questions after all this time I've spent fretting about this.
  • How does this impact me - the middle of the pack, middle-aged athlete with a family history of heart disease?
  • Is this slight risk of this outweighed by the known risk of a sedentary lifestyle?
  • Is anybody else researching this?
  • Does this condition occur in the general population and if so to what degree?
  • Can an athlete test for this? Is there a way to prevent it?
  • Who was in this study? The study only mentions men so is it possible women have different results?
  • Could there be other factors implicit in this condition (diet, heredity)?
  • Who financed these studies - and why? I'm a little cynical and I fear that many medical studies are done to promote somebody's financial gain.
Anyway what's the point of this blog post?
Well even I'm not sure. I get a little heated when I see what I think is lazy reporting and even I'm not sure why. It's one of the reasons I don't work in the news industry but the main reason I stopped was the crappy pay. So I should just let it go. When I ranted to my husband, he listened and nodded and said, "let it go."

Wrapping it up
Definitely, this connection between extreme exercise and heart damage is something to pay attention to. But in my heart of hearts (pun intended) I really do think that the changes training for these events makes to my lifestyle are better than the alternative.

Both of my parents were overweight and when they turned 40 they got a present from their doctor which was a prescription for high blood pressure medicine. My father died a few years ago of heart disease and my mother has some weirdness happening with her heart too now. I'm 38 and my blood pressure yesterday was 112/68. My weight is good (115), I pay a lot of attention to what I eat to eat whole foods to fuel my lifestyle, I don't drink heavily and I get adequate sleep most of the time.

It seems to me that this has got to be better for me in the long run than sitting on the couch and drinking beer. Of course, there could be more moderation in my lifestyle. I could train for 5k's. But for me that just doesn't have the appeal at the moment of the marathon and possibly (still just possibly) the Ironman. So, that's what I'm gonna do. Keep training, keep racing and keep paying attention.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Trying a new swim group

I'd like to get faster at swimming.

I feel like I've been saying that forever. But still that's the plan. Last year I just swam on my own with a basic plan getting ready for Trinona - my first Olympic event. I did fine. Then moving up in longer distance events I now have a coach and he's great. He gives me a detailed workout in training peaks and wherever I want to do that workout is fine with him. I was hating my pool at LA Fitness (because it's gross, and crowded, and more gross) and I decided to buck up and join a masters swim group.

What I was doing ... that wasn't really working
There is allegedly a Masters Swim Group around the corner from my house at Gulliver Prep. So, I started getting up early to go there. I say allegedly because it's really more of an open swim session. Don't get me wrong - it is a fantastic pool. Brand spanking new, huge digital clock and just super cool. But it was a good thing that I had my own workouts because there is a different coach every day that you go and it seemed to me that they just sort of made the daily workout up every day. I would ask what the workout was when I got there and I never got a straight answer. Plus I would watch as swimmers would say, "hey what's next" and I always felt that the coach just would sort of make it up, "oh, uh 10 50"s on the 30 or whatever." Once I went and we had to swim the lane lines out, which is no biggie but if you only have an hour it eats into your time and then once I went and there was nobody there to open the pool. Okay it was "open" but no coach was there. So, I swam because I was there and I was pretty sure I wouldn't drown but I'm sure I wasn't supposed to swim. And then it looked like they were cutting the morning hours for the summer which was a drag. They ended up not doing that. Anyway ... not feeling the love there.

Plus I feel stalled in my swimming. I did take a lesson a few months back from the Stroke Doctor. It was very helpful. I could definitely take more lessons from him but sadly his masters group meets in Davie. I knew that I was sort of phoning in my workouts if you will. The workout would have 8 x 50 fast with :20 recovery and I would do 4 and then move on to the next set. When I swam my 1.2 mile swim last week in 1:05 I was motivated to get more with the program. I mean that is just forever to be out there. Admittedly I think I took the scenic route but that's partly due to the fact that I wasn't able to keep up with the pack and therefore not get lost.

What I'm trying now that I hope will work better
So, there is a newish program at the University of Miami. Specifically for Triathletes. It's not officially a Masters Group (meaning affiliated with US Swimming).  It's only 2 days a week Tuesdays and Thursdays. They have added an evening session and hope to add more mornings but not yet. It is just this one guy leading it so I understand that everyday at 5 is a little early. It's sort of expensive ($90 a month if you can't finagle a discount). There is a standing discount for members of the Alien Endurance team ($65 a month). So I'm trying to finagle a discount even though I'm not an Alien Endurance athlete. There is a coach there, Aaron. Tuesdays are drills, Thursdays workouts. See I like this so far - there is a plan. I like having a plan.

I got there and followed somebody into the pool people were arriving all at the same time. This made me happy. I am always intimidated to start a new swim group but I was encouraged by this and not too nervous. I introduced myself to somebody on the pool deck and she was super helpful and helped me find Aaron who was handing out today's workout to the folks on the deck.

I introduced myself and he got the regulars going and then asked me some questions about my history and got me started with the workout. He seems like a good guy. They have all levels swimming he even offered to start me in the shallow end if I wasn't comfortable swimming the whole 25 :-). I said oh no that's okay I swam 1.2 miles in the event the other day I can handle the deep end.

Since I started a few minutes after the others I wasn't doing at exactly the same thing at exactly the same time as the others but I still really like doing the same workout as other people. There was sculling on the workout. I did some sculling drills last year which involved me looking up videos online and then floundering about in the pool pretty sure I was doing it wrong. So I asked before I started. He explained it and then as I was about 15 feet down the lane I heard him say, "good, that's right." What is this ... feedback in a swim? What's a girl to do? Once I got the hang of the sculling it was actually very helpful to feel my body position in the water and I think that's the idea.

The yardage was a little light (for where I hope to be). I swam 1550 in an hour. But I only swam for about 50 minutes probably since I started late. And I've been getting the barfies during my morning swims so I'm not going to rush the yards.

All in all a good swim day. I'll be forking over my credit card today and back on Thursday for more.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Battle Scars and Lessons Learned from my first 70.3 distance triathlon

My only goals for the first 70.3 were to finish with a smile and "learn" about how to race the distance.

The good news is that the day went basically by the plan. Admittedly the plan was basically take it slow and see what happens all the while paying close attention to nutrition. But I did learn some things.

Lesson - SWIM MORE
I learned that if I swim with arm coolers I get this beautiful chaffing mark. Ouch. I actually felt this on the swim and rolled over on my back and rolled the arm cooler down. I was out there a long time - there was time to do this. Perhaps this was when I drifted completely off course :-)
Ouch. This one hurt a bit during the race and after in the shower.

I also learned that I need to swim more. It's like a mantra I have after every race -- geez Amy, just swim more.

One interesting thing about the swim is that I have been having a huge problem with nausea during swim workouts in the pool. After 30-40 minutes I get really queasy. Sometimes but not always I actually toss my cookies. As a side effect this has led to a lot of pretty short workouts lately and that made me nervous going into this swim. But here's the odd part. I swam non stop for just over an hour in this race and I didn't get queasy at all. So I would really like to try to figure out what the issue is in the pool so that I can make it stop :-)

Lesson - More varied tastes on the bike
My next lesson learned is about nutrition. I had three bottles of liquid nutrition all the same flavor. By the end I was really tired of that flavor. So the lesson is to have different flavors. Also, it's good to eat solids but a little complicated so I need some practice with that.

Also very important - pull the bottom of the bike shorts down out of ones crotch in transition before mounting the bike. *** note do not actually pull the shorts off - that would be even more awkward than the previous sentence already is*** During the swim my shorts had worked their way up at the top of my legs. Not a wedgie but just accumulated where you bend your leg and then that got uncomfortable quick while cycling. I was able to adjust this on the go but lesson learned. 

Lesson - reapply sunscreen and bodyglide
Next lesson - Sunscreen. Oh man I totally failed at this in this event. I actually applied a very thick coat of bullfrog sunscreen to my arms, neck and shoulders and face before I left the hotel room. However, it was not sufficient. I should have repeated with spray at each transition point. Everything except my face is crazy sun burnt.
do you see the top of the 8 in my tan. This is from the marker on my arm. The bottom was covered by the arm cooler.
can you see the short tan line. That's gonna look sexy in my regular swim suit. Would it be super dorky if I showed up in tri shorts to the pool ... yes I know it would.
this beauty is from my try top. Interestingly It didn't and doesn't hurt at all. But it looks terrible. It totally freaked my husband out because it's red like it's bleeding. It's not good for race wounds to worry ones spouse if said racer wishes to compete in more races.

Lesson - pack extra GUs.
I planned my nutrition but I should have brought extra. Always bring extra. I borrowed a stinger from Meli for before the swim because I left my gu-luna bar in the hotel room. And I didn't bring extras. I actually took a gu on the course which worked out fine but might not always so I should bring more.
 Lesson - cola
I never drink cola anymore. But it's offered on the long distance courses. I decided to try it. Apparently, it can help stomach distress and it has caffeine. What it did for me is make me burp. And that might be a good thing. I ended up with stomach "pressure" towards the end of the race and after. Turned out that I had crazy gas bubbles in my belly. They worked their way out naturally through the afternoon / evening much to the delight of my 5 year old son who loves all things relating to farts. But perhaps if I had had a little more cola in the run I would have burped a little more and been more comfortable toward the very end.

Final Lesson - push
The really interesting this about this race is that I didn't find any part where I was in a dark place mentally or physically. What that means is two things. One my nutrition was adequate. Carb replenishment is when my mental status begins to dip. But it also means that I could have pushed more probably the whole way. I did sort of expect that to be the case because that was the case with my first and third marathons. So next time I'll push a little more. It's a long day so a little consistent push all the way through might make a big difference in the net time gain.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Race Report - Motivation Man - My first 70.3

My expectations for this race were: hot, lonely and slow but get it done and make the best of it. Officially 6:50 with a smile. And I pretty much got that.

What I didn't expect was a tropical depression to move into South Florida the day before the race and apparently settle forever. We had tropical monsoonish weather complete with Flash Floods the whole day before and until about 4pm the day before race day the forecast was for rain all day the day of the race.

I was in a bit of a panic. But as it turned out - it didn't rain during the race. So that was good.
Here's the bike all loaded up for the drive to West Palm Beach. Thank you to Target for the rain gear.

Packet Pick up
It was sprinkling during the packet pickup and we were outside but it was okay. I found most of my friends racing and heard the pre-race meeting which was almost funny because there was a lot of - well this is a first time race so we aren't sure. That's not so reassuring.
New bike - new spot for the number. The new bike got lots of fun attention before and after the race from fellow Shiv enthusiasts. That's fun.

TriJungle was there so that I could buy a fuel belt because I had left mine at home (oops).
Me and Meli getting set for the race. Notice the new fuel belt :-)

I racked my bike - covered the seat and handlebars in plastic and said good night.

So one of the title sponsors was Colavita Olive Oil. So these two adorable olive oil bottles were in the swag bag.

I ate dinner with my family at a thai restaurant across the street from the hotel. Pad Thai - no nuts. It was fine. I only worried a little bit about straying from my pre-race pasta bolognese :-) Then a quick stop for ice cream - none for me.
Notice the grey sky back there. Scary. Superman swirl for the girl. Rainbow sherbet for the boy. Pre-race nerves for mommy.

Then I packed my bag for the next morning and went to "sleep."

I didn't feel like I slept very much but oh well.

Wake UP - 4:20 
That is so early. But the start was 6:30 and what's a girl to do? At least it wasn't raining. I ate. Covered my body with body gluide, chamois stuff and then sunscreen wherever I could reach. I was using Bullfrog waterproof. Goes on thick and sticky. But it was no match for the tropical sun as it turns out.

4:45 into the car. 
I took a taxi to the start. No issues. Nice guy driver. I concentrated on relaxing.
Pre-race portrait. Notice the raincoat. Also, I'm so nervous I couldn't even muster a smile. eeek.

5:10 Body Marking, Chip pickup and into transition
It was a relaxed transition set up. I think everyone was just happy it wasn't raining. I put in my bladder (ha that sounds funny). And set up my stuff. I kept my run stuff in a ziplock with the hope that it would stay dry if it rained while I was on the bike.

The bike made it through the night on the rack. As a note my new bike is so small it actually doesn't touch the ground when it's on the rack. Pretty funny but also made me nervous that it would swing in the wind and bonk into neighboring bikes. Oh well - didn't seem to be an issue.

6:15 Down to the Start
Here's where the first time race started showing it's face. Nobody could understand the swim course. The poor announcer had to explain it a few times and the chatter was so loud it was really hard to hear. Eventually we got it figured out. I thought the course looked long but I always think it looks long. I figured out my sighting markers. Building, Cranes, Dock.  I actually wasn't nervous. My buddy Melissa was white as a sheet with nerves. But then she found her mojo. When she couldn't hear the instructions she marched right up to the stage and told the guy she couldn't hear and that's when I knew she'd be okay this race.

So the men jumped in and were paddling around with the guy yelling go over there to the start and then all of a sudden he said ,"GO!" and about 1/2 of the guys were still 10-20 yards from the "start."

So, I said to the ladies next to me, let's go because we've got to get all the way over there. So we jumped in and went over to where the "start" was. And then he said,"Go!" and we were off. The deep water start wasn't as big a deal as I thought it would be. I let the speedies take off and then off we went.
I'm somewhere in there. The start is between the two first orange buoys ... maybe. Notice not a single kayak directing us ;-)
The water was gross. Practically no visibility but that's not such a big deal. About 1/2 way to the first buoy I flipped over because I could not catch my breath. I saw my buddy Melissa and we said, "hey" and then I went back to swimming. Luckily after that I found my rhythm and I felt fine.

Around the bouy no problem and found my new sighting and fine and then mysteriously there were no feet around me. I bobbed up and saw that I was where I thought I should be but I seemed to be alone. Hmmmmm.... not normal. Looked to my left about 10 yards there was another swimmer with a kayak past them. Then about 10-15 yards to my right another swimmer being brought back onto the course by a kayak and so I figured I was roughly on course. Proceeding.

A while later I was clearly swimming through an oil slick it was so totally gross. I popped up to see where I was and the guy in the boat was there about 10 feet away and I asked, am I off course? He said no just head to the cranes so I did.

The swim was endless. I must have zig zagged all over the place. Here's why:
There were only 2 buoys for the entire 1.2 mile swim. In between them nada.
Of course, as a swimmer, you can't actually see the buoys from in the water when they are too far away. And by too far away I mean about 20 yards is when I can see the buoys. I usually can just follow the feet in front of me but I must have gotten off course and lost all the feet.

So, it took me forever. For-ev-er.  1:05 or something was my swim time. But other than that it felt okay. There's actually some satisfaction to having swum for over an hour without being too tired.

So they started the Olympic swimmers just a bit after us. And so we merged with them as we rounded the second buoy. That was annoying. I was with the men and there was one guy who was all over me. I swam to the left he's on top of me, I swim to the right, he's on top of me. Like I mean his arm is smacking me on my face. I was so annoyed I flipped over to the side and pushed him out of the way with my feet. He didn't even pause. Goober. But then I had my own water.

When I got to transition I was surprised to see that my girlfriends bikes were still there. I figured that they would be long gone since I had been off course. But nope. So I saddled up and headed out ... I did forget to reapply the sunscreen. Oops.

The Bike
I was very relieved it wasn't raining.  The bike course started out with going over the tracks and that was a none issue. Then there were a few little ramps up and down overpasses. I was pleasantly surprised at how well I did climbing.
Here I go on the bike. Notice the black mustache under my nose. Ummm gross! But I didn't know about it until later.

My coach had said we'd be against the wind on the way out so settle in and get aero and just stick it out. That's what I did. I tried to stay above 17 as much as possible. Around mile 5 the guy in front of me totally ran into a cone in the road and fell over. He's fine luckily.

Around mile 10 I got a weird feeling in my right leg. Stiff muscle ... hmmm ... not quite. What is that. Then it showed up in the same place in the other leg... hmmm... I think it was muscle cramps. I've never had that so I can't be sure but that's my thought. I concentrated on making sure I was drinking my nutrition because that has salt in it.

** In hindsight that pain might be from tired legs from such a long swim. I'm still not sure. **

Just after that my training buddy Diane passed me. She said come on stick with me and I said okay and then she pulled away and I was like ... oh well there she goes :-) I could see her up a bit but couldn't quite catch her.
Here's Diane at packet pick up. She's awesome. She's also easy to spot with her orange bike and custom wheels as she speeds by me on the bike. Small but speedy.
Mile 12 or so the Olympic guys turned around. Then it got lonely. Oh so boring and oh so lonely. Pedal, pedal, pedal. sip, sip, pedal pedal. I took my Gu and kept drinking. I had 3 bottles to get through.

Around mile 20 I though huh I must not be drinking enough because I should be onto bottle 2 by now. Sip ... dry. Right on schedule. Refilling was fun. I've only tried it a bit on the go so this was my first refuel. Went fine except I didn't exactly get the bottle back into it's spot on the back of the bike. Ooops. That is of course when another cyclist came up and saw me. He said something with my number and my bottle and I dunno if he meant to turn me in later or what. There wasn't really anything I could do about it anyway.
This is my nutrition for the race. I measured out the infinit and put it into ziplocs inside the bottles. I took bottled water to mix it the night before and put it into a cooler the night before. Then I put one bottle into the bladder and two behind the seat. The fourth was put into the fuel belt for the run. I kept it in an insulated grocery bag to keep it as cool as possible until the run.
So, off we continued.  Mile 24 ... bottle exchange. Signs were terrible and I missed it so luckily I didn't need it. I ate my honey Stinger waffle. Not so easy on the go actually. I had opened the packet in transition but still eating the cookie was awkward. But I got it done - basically just shoving about 1/2 of it in at once. Somewhere in here I saw my buddies heading back on the other side. That was fun. Then oh blessed things ... the turn around!

And then back we go. The slight wind to my back did make a difference and I was pretty easily holding 20 mph. The leg cramps continued and my shoulders were getting stiff from being in aero. I find aero to be pretty comfy but this is getting to be a long time. Also my shorts were bunching up in my saddle.

I saw my friend Melissa heading out. That was good. Then I saw the last person on the course with a motorcycle escort. That would be annoying.

Mile 30 okay. Boring ... oh so boring. Change the drink mix again that was exciting because I had to use my right hand and I'm not as stable steering with my left. EEEK. But I did it and I managed to get the bottle back into it's holder without dropping it. VICTORY>

Somewhere in here there was a family with a sign that said, "ride it like you stole it!" It was awesome. Cheering spectators make such a difference.

Mile 40 ... this is getting very old. Then finally the little hills started again. I would get out of the saddle to climb just because the change felt so much better. I was playing catch up and pass with another cyclist on a road bike she would pass me on the climb and then I would pass her on the descent. And there you have the difference as I see it in the two bikes :-)

Finally it was over. I wanted to hug the volunteer at the dismount line. I walked my bike to the rack. I tried to jog but it wasn't happening.

T2 -
Racked the bike. Put on my hat. Took off my arm coolers and gloves, changed my shoes. Put on fuel belt. Forgot to reapply sunscreen. EEEEEK.  Put on my watch. Go.

The Run 2:40
I started out at a 10 minute pace. It was approximately 7000 degrees. I stopped at the first water stop to get ice and water and after all that Infinit on the bike. This was the best most fabulous water I had ever had. I had several sips and headed back out.  My pace slowed down a bit continuously during the run 10:30. then 11 and then 11:30 and that I can hold forever so I just slogged along.

What was really interesting was that the 1/2 iron runners were really chatty. I ran with a guy down from Ohio who had run IM Texas when it was 104 but said this was worse. And everybody was grouching about the swim being too long. Ha! I even talked to a lady who measured the swim on her watch as 2 miles. She didn't think it was actually that much too long but just that she was wandering all over the place because there weren't enough buoys. I saw my coach and my teammate Luis running back. And kept going. I turned around and then I saw Melissa who said, "what is all over your face? It's black" Of course I hadn't seen myself so what do I know.

A while later I saw a friend Kike who said, oh, that's grease from the water in the Intracoastal. GROSS!

Then I ran past the finish line to another turn around, past  the finish line again and back out onto the course. I was pretty sure I would hate the loops ... and I did.

I made a new friend, fellow Hammerhead Alvaro who told me that the trick in this part of the race is just to keep it easy. That was definitely what I was doing. I didn't feel bad I just had no speed at all left in my legs. He and I stuck together for a bit and then I started back up after a water stop and he walked more so I moved on.

About a mile back into the course I caught up with my training buddies Diane and Randy. They were walking. So we started back jogging stopping to walk through each water stop and get ice water. I took both my GUs that I had brought and ate one provided on the course.
This was a good moment.

Together we went past the finish line again ... that stunk. And at this point I had to go potty. But there were no potties. Drat. That's no fun. I finally saw my family looking for me. So that was great and the kids even wore their shirts! So back out to the turn around (longest 2 miles ever) and back to the finish line. Diane wanted me to run in strong but instead I ran in with my kids. Jack had on crocs so we went his pace. It was a great moment. And they announced "Amy Stone, from Pinecrest"  :-)

6:54:20 right on schedule :-)

The Finish
My coach put a medal around my neck. Turns out it was his. They ran out of medals which totally stinks but whatever. They'll mail me mine and I'll give his back.
I'm pretty happy here. Notice how Jack stole my water at the finish. He was hot and thirsty after jogging the finish with me!

It's not really about the medal anyway.

I relaxed and informed my hot and sweaty family that I was going to wait for my friend Melissa. Turns out she was the second to last finisher so it was  about an hour. The kids actually went to the car for air conditioning. They were finished.

We saw Meli finish and she did great. Even though she was out there the whole day she didn't need an IV or anything and almost all the others around her finishing then did. So she raced smart.
After the finish. Great group!