Monday, May 27, 2013

4 weeks from yesterday to Ironman France

The countdown is on.

I should be counting in days actually at this point. Kind of like how we age babies but in reverse.

26 days.

Intuitively, you'd think now would be time for the last big push but with long races ... not so much really. Soon, I'll start to wind down. I think I have one or two big runs left and also I'm going to push the swim volume up for confidence. And then ... the taper.

This past week was a recovery week. It was glorious. Recovery is glorious. Resting is glorious. Sleep is glorious.

My long run this week was 13ish miles. I forgot to turn my watch off at the end so I don't have a correct distance. oops. But what was important about this run is that I started with Jim who runs quickly and I finished with Ben who also is a speedster. What's important about this is that I need to remember that I can go faster and not feel like crap. Really I can. So I should because then I'll be finished faster.

Moon before the start of the run.
After the long run I swam like 2 minutes. My heart was in my throat the whole time. I made light of it last week but I wasn't actually joking. The bird thing did get into my head. So I need to do a lot of ows to get my groove back there. It'll happen I just have to stick to it. 

My long ride this week was in the hills of Clermont. In central Florida there are lakes and hills and that's where we flatlanders go to train.

I will admit that when I committed to racing in France I thought I would train in Clermont probably once a month. That didn't happen. I've been there twice in the last 6 months and one of those times it was so cold the ride was cancelled. This is to say that training does not ever go as expected.
Notice the puffy eyes. That's from lots of hydration. Lots including pedialyte the night before. I didn't sleep really well but that's to be expected. I have to remember to ask for a room away from the elevator. 

But I did want to do at least one 100 mile ride in the hills. I was nervous but it went better than I expected. Much better. That's a good feeling. I climbed somewhere over 3000 ft which is about half what I'll do on race day. In an ideal world I'd do more than I would on race day but that isn't happening so I'll just have to live with it.
This is the map route.


I was so happy on my road bike. I definitely have the right bike for this race. I have been to Clermont on 3 different bikes. This bike was perfect. Descending was a dream - it was so much fun. Okay well the first descent I was scared but after that it was awesome. No braking :-) Me ... no braking. Woot Woot! Going up was fine. Really. And interestingly I was able to tell the grade by feel which was a good feeling. I would say this is 6%? And Frank would confirm with his watch. That's good because I have speed, cadence and hr targets depending on the grade. I was ready to stop when we got to 100 but I could have kept going. I wasn't dying at all.

My nutrition was good. I drank Infinit 2 sips every 7 minutes. I was easily able to do this while climbing. I had one GU, one bag of sport beans, one salt pill every hour and one snickers bar at 70 miles. Close to great actually. Having the timer beep was key. The only thing that didn't work was the sport beans. They were a pain to get out of their little bag. so I need something else. But I have a plan. I'll try it next week.

It was just me and the coach. I feel really lucky about that. He did a lot of talking to me about the mental challenges of the race. Which is definitely going to be the trick to this whole thing. He suggested thinking about the kids growing up, getting married things like that. Macca talks about it in his book very simply by saying have a plan for what you're going to think about in the dark spots. That's what I'll be thinking about this week. He also said the key is committing to finishing. "Commit to Finish" I think that's probably true about this and also about every big project in life. I definitely thought it was true with nursing my kids (a totally different kind of project but still). So I'm focused on that. I am actually committed to finishing - not if it means being stupid (broken bones - hospitalization) but yes when it means to getting it done.

I talked to him about the foot cramps. He suggested bigger socks which sounds like a good idea so I'll try it. Apparently just like we move up in running shoes to account for swelling cycling socks it helps too. I also took off my shoes at the 2nd stop and I had no real issues. My plan is to take my shoes off at special needs halfway in the race for this reason.
This is the 100 mile smile.

The race is very close. And luckily I'm feeling like I'm as close to ready as I'm gonna get and that's all I can do.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

30 day jitters

My  first Ironman is less than a month away. I will confess I am a little nervous.

Jitters
I think it's normal and natural to be nervous for a first iron-distance race or even half-iron distance but still I'm writing about it anyway. If you're reading this and you're beginning to train for your first full then file it away as things to expect about 30 days out.

Why 30 days. Well I think it's because the training is almost done now. What's done is done and there isn't room for a lot of "improvement" between now and the race. So how do I feel about that?

I feel okay. Nervous but okay. I haven't skipped workouts (except for when I had the flu) and that gives me some confidence but not enough to fully shake the jitters.

What is causing the jitters? Mostly uncertainty.

With a race this long I won't have completed the entire distance in one day until race day. That's just the way it goes.

I already shared my dream about looking for goggles so that's one example. (note to my brother ... I should sign you up for IM Frankfurt just so you have to try to remember how to say goggles in German).

I'm also afraid I'll get sick before the race. I'm nervous that my bike will break in shipping. I'm nervous my nutrition will be confiscated by customs. I worry that I won't find my special needs bag on the bike. I'm nervous about the stress of the travel. I have had both good and bad experiences traveling for races. I'm worried about the swim being really rough in terms of contact between the swimmers. I'm worried about being alone on the course surrounded by strangers. I'm worried about getting dehydrated like I did at St. Anthony's.

I know these are all silly small things. That's the way I get nervous. I worry about little details that can go wrong. It usually works for me - I make contingency plans and then I'm not nervous on race day about those things.

So, what am I doing about it?

Well, I'm putting it out there for the world to see. Ironman training is a pretty solo venture but also you can't do it alone. So, I told my husband I was nervous and he gave me his nod.That's what he does nods. He's busy with work at the moment and I know that once he starts prepping for the trip I'll feel better.

And last night I wore my I'm training for Ironman France shirt to a meeting and when people asked how I was doing I admitted I was nervous. That was helpful because it gave me a chance to hear how others were nervous.

And now I'm telling you guys. I'm a girl ... talking helps.

Oh, and I'm going to stop reading online forums. Today I was reading a race report and somebody told a person who DNF'd at IM Texas that the problem may have been that he only swam 7k a week in training. My heart pounded because I usually swim 7k a week. But then I turned it off. I have to trust the plan or else I'm lost. 

The dark voice in my head says maybe you aren't ready
Yesterday wasn't a great workout. In fact I've had 2 bad swims in a row. The first was the bird attack. I have to just let that one go because there won't be cormorants in France. Plus seriously that was just odd.

Then yesterday was supposed to be a 2 mile open water swim but we were having stormy weather. So, I couldn't even do masters practice instead I ended up at LA Fitness in the pool in the basement which I hate. I really do hate this pool. I admit I went in with a bad attitude.

I planned to do 5x100 warmup then 2x1600. It didn't go as planned. I started feeling woozy and icky and I was swimming really slowly. It took me almost 15 minutes for those first 5 100s which should have been closer to 10 minutes. I started to get really down on myself and question my swim fitness.

In fact at about 600 yards into the second 1600 I was so frustrated I took off my cap and threw it on the deck. And then I felt like steam was escaping from my head. I was hot - really hot. This pool is very warm I don't know how warm but easily 80. There's no chill when you step into the water. And the room is warm too from the jacuzzi that's in the same space.

So then I started swimming again and I began to think that my slowness and ickiness might be in fact from being too warm. After taking my cap off the pool water felt really cool on my head and I felt much better. So I went on and finished and I gave myself some wiggle room in that I stopped after each 100 or 200 not to rest but to let my body cool off some. I stood up, raised my hands over my head to let heat escape and counted to 10 before going again.

Still in the last 25 I thought I would puke. I did actually stand up and gag mid length. And then I had to get out and sit on the deck till I could stand up from the nausea. I do get this feeling from strong swim efforts to I sat there and I thought ... is this because I'm swimming beyond my effort? I owe it to myself to give this honest thought because nothing is dumber than walking into a 2.4 mile swim without the swim fitness to get it done confidently.

But, I wasn't breathing hard, my heart rate was practically resting, I wasn't fatigued. So I really do think this was from the heat. Then when I walked into the locker room which is air conditioned it was such a relief. If I wasn't overheated I would have been chilled from the cool air - this was a very pleasant feeling. I could feel the heat coming off my skin. So, I really do think that this was because the pool was hot.

But I want to be honest with myself about this because most people I know can swim in this pool without incident. They don't love it but a strong swimmer can basically swim wherever and be okay. So I don't want to give myself excuses. So, I am of course also questioning my swim fitness. While this week is almost done I think I'll be putting in lots of time swimming in the next 4 weeks to quiet these voices. That's really all I can do I think.

Now to make myself feel better since I signed up for this race I have logged:

101,140 yds swimming, 441 miles running and 124 hours on the bike (my trainer miles don't log miles so I use time there). While it may not be enough it is for sure a lot.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

ahhh ... pre Ironman panic

Last nights pre-sleep panic was a little dream where I'm in France and my goggles break but I can't figure out how to ask for goggles at the expo.

Why would I have this dream? Because my friend Jim had his goggles break at the start of his race at Ironman CDA. Bummer, eh? His are prescription - a much bigger deal than mine would be. His wife had his spare pair and just handed them to him so it worked out.

And in case your curious - goggles is apparently: les lunettes de plongee. My daughter and I looked it up this morning.

Monday, May 20, 2013

5 weeks or one month till Ironman France - and oh yes I was attacked by a bird while swimming

I leave for France June 19th but that's still 5 weeks away.

I know - I don't understand it either. Just go with it.

I was attacked by a bird while swimming
This is of course the big news of the week. Sadly I did not take any pictures so my words will have to do.

Many of my training mates were off in Haines City slogging it out in the heat - I mean racing Ironman Florida 70.3. Not me - I was here. Luckily so was my buddy Jim. The plan for the morning was 10 miles then a 1.5 mile swim.

The run was uneventful. Also because I wasn't alone it was faster than normal. I really do wish I could convince myself to run faster alone but I'll take what I can get.

The swim started out really well. The water was great. We swam out 7 buoys (yes, here in Florida we have a permanently marked measured course ... yes you should move here) and turned around and came back.

Between buoy 2-3 I thought I felt something nibble my toe. I stayed calm and kicked harder for a few strokes to discourage whatever animal had confused me for a snack. And then it bit me.

IT BIT ME!
I turned around and found one of these behind me. It's a cormorant.

I have always operated with the understanding that I'm (this is the royal "I" including all other humans near me in the "I") the biggest thing swimming around out there and therefore all other marine life will most likely ignore me. Jellyfish don't count because they don't have brains and therefore if they are in the water ... I try not to be in the water because they can't be avoided and they hurt a lot.

This little bugger had not gotten that memo. He was about 2 feet from me giving me his little beady eye. It was creepy. So I yelled at him, "Go Away!" And then I swam like hell for about 25 yards in the direction of my fellow swimmer Jim. I was kicking like mad to discourage this fowl from biting me again. Didn't work.
Here's another picture. In his little brain he's probably thinking mmmm your toes look delicious.
 IT BIT ME AGAIN!
Each time it bit me was on a toe. And it didn't break the skin or even hurt very much. But it did seriously creep me out. So now I took a new tactic which was basically to scream at this bird like a banshee and flail about. Part of my master plan was to splash the bird. Which in hindsight is stupid because it lives in the water and didn't care at all about my splashing.

These birds swim under the water. So I would give me it's beady eye and then go under water where I couldn't really see it - probably looking to take a bite out of my clearly delicious toes again. I could practically hear the soundtrack to Jaws playing and I would scream and splash and it was generally a ridiculous situation.  It's okay to laugh because it was pretty ridiculous.

At some point Jim popped up and asked, "is this bird following us?" I said yes and explained how it bit me. He did what I probably would have done which is looked at me like I was a little crazy and swam off- calmly. I in turn decided to swim frantically towards shore. 

I was in full-fledged panic mode and after a few strokes when I had to stop to ... well breathe. I then realized the bird was going after my friend instead of me.  While it doesn't make me a good friend I'll admit I was relieved and I then actually flopped onto my back in full survival float mode and tried to get my heart to stop pounding out of my chest.

Then I head Jim yell, "Hey, it bit me!" I was of course a little validated that he now knew I wasn't making it up. And then somehow he got the bird to actually fly away and he swam on. I don't know if he hit it or if it was his deeper voice that scared him off. But what I do know is that where my friend Jim is one cool cucumber - I was a mess. I swam the rest of the way in about 2 feet deep right next to shore because every shadow, every piece of sea grass I saw and touched even the little swells in the water I was sure was that stupid bird back to get me again. 

Seriously these things only happen to me.   Since I didn't have my camera I drew you a picture with the doodle app on my phone. 
Those little black things are my goggles and yes I was wearing a green swim cap.
 Other less exciting training news
This was my second 18+ hour training week in a row. Yes I am tired. I ran 18 miles Saturday. 10 in the morning and 8 in the evening. For the second run I sported my new lululemon running skirt - didn't love it. I know how is that possible - everyone loves them. I dunno the skirt sort of smacks me in the legs. I feel that one should not "feel" ones running shorts. I also have this new little in-hand water bottle. It's a little annoying but perhaps not as annoying as the around the waist bottles. 
I know if my family truly supported me they would be there to take the picture of me in my skirt. But nooooo they were at "dinner." seriously where are their priorities?
Then Sunday was a 5 hour recovery ride. Yes "5 hour + recovery ride" in the same sentence. It means I rode slowly and easily but still for 5 hours. My coach stressed the not fast part with capital letters and lots of !!!!!! So, I listened. Also my legs were really tired so it wasn't really possible to push without discomfort.

It was fine. I set my timer to beep every 7 minutes and took sips of Infinit then and what do you know I managed to drink all my Infinit.  I will admit I'm pretty sick of it at this point but that's neither here nor there because I've got another 5 weeks of Infinit goodness on the bike.  

I continue to have toe cramps on the bike. My bike trainer thinks it's my shoes that I would benefit from a larger toe box. Maybe. I think it might also be from tired muscles. Either way I now understand why people complain about cramping - it hurts a lot.

At the end of the ride I had some heat rash on my thighs. This is mysterious because it's not totally under my bike shorts that this happens (note the fab bike short tan line) and it's on the top of my thighs. I don't understand it. I also don't like it. Today I'm wearing pants and applying cortizone cream. Hopefully it goes away on it's own. 
Say it with me, eeewwwww.
And that's pretty much it. Today is a rest day. I was tempted to go and swim anyway but I'm gonna go ahead and rest since I can. Did I mention I'm tired? Also, I feel that keeping the heat rash out of the sun is best. That's based on nothing except that it's a little embarrassing and so it should be hidden from sight.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Six ... 6 weeks until Ironman France

Why yes I did have a happy mother's day. Thanks for asking!
This is my son and I at Kindergarten Mothers day tea. He's adorable, I know. I did this instead of going to swimming on Thursday. It's one reason I came up short in swim yardage but the bigger reason is I was too lazy to get up at 5 am.
my kids and I went to the beach Sunday morning. It was pretty terrific. I also got home made presents from all 4 kids. That was also fantastic.

This was a big training week. It was sort of a repeat of what last week was supposed to be since I was off still from the flu last week.

Summary First
Bike 8:56:44 (100.54 miles plus 2 trainer sessions - I don't know how to get mileage on the trainer)
Swim 2:30 (5450 yds this was a little light but sometimes that happens)
Run 6:56 (33.25 miles including a 16 mile long run)

Total 18:23:33 Gad zoinks that's a lotta training.

Recap
In order to have Sunday off I did my long run on Friday. The whole family juggled so I could get an early start but when I woke up it was storming (thunder). So that was a downer. I was psyching myself up for a long rainy run. But I got up and got ready and by the time I had driven my water cooler out to the route it had stopped raining. That was lucky. The run was uneventful. Not the fastest I've ever run but not the slowest either. When I went back for my water cooler after the run it was gone - that was unlucky.
This is me after. I was pretty tired but my legs felt fine the rest of the day. It was good. I look like crap after training. I have an acquaintance that takes these beautiful pictures of her after training ... I don't quite understand how that works.
The bike ride. Riding 100 miles after running 16 miles hurts much more than the first 100 miler which followed an 8 mile run. My legs were burning the first 5 miles. Once the lactic acid flushed out I felt much better but the last 1/3 was really tough and a little slow. I could really feel the fatigue in my legs. The only other thing that bothered me was my shoulders / neck a bit and of course the old toosh takes a beating after 100 miles in the saddle.

Let's talk nutrition here. I haven't been nailing my nutrition on the bike which leads to bailing on the tranisition run. I also got my first cramps in the bottom of my foot (my toes) on my first 100 miler. It hurt a lot. A LOT.

So,  to try not to get those cramps again I did 3 things. I bought a new water bottle because I think that one reason I'm not finishing my infinit is because the straw was too far away with the speedfill. I did not take a picture of the bottle it's the new profile design bottle if you're curious. I'll do a review later this week maybe.

I also got salt pills which are anecdotally supposed to help with cramps. Couldn't hurt so I picked some up.
I packed 7 salt pills but only ate 3 on the ride. It feels bizarre to have "medicine" along on the ride.



Lastly I packed a sandwich for 1/2way.
This is me eating a Pb&J sandwich halfway through the ride. It was yummy.


We also had some weather issues. In a 100 mile ride I'm learning it's like a camping trip you will experience all kinds of things during the duration of the ride. On this ride we had wind and lots of it and heat.
That's right it was 89 when I finished and did this capture while sitting at home. 16 mph winds from the SE. Bleh.
I kept telling myself wind is hills in disguise. Doesn't make it any easier let me tell you.

But I finished. I did again have toe cramps this time in both feel during the last 20-25 miles. It hurts soooooo much. It goes away if I take my foot out of the shoe and just stretch them out for a second. But otherwise it's super unpleasant.

I think these have got to be conditioning related just because they come at the end of the long rides. I'll continue to take salt pills but I just really think it's because my body is tired.

All done! Too hot and bothered to do the transition run. My training buddy Jim is getting ready for Kona 70.3 in a few weeks. I was lucky to have him along for the duration of this ride. He's a much stronger biker than I am and I hid from the wind behind him.
Nutrition recap
So just to recap the nutrition for this ride I did about 4.5 bottles of Infinit. I was moving for 5:45 so I should have been closer to 6 bottles. But honestly I get really sick of the Infinit after well lets say 4:30. Not sure what to do about that really. Part of the reason is that it gets warm and warm drinks are gross. My infinit is 225 calories a bottle so approximately 1012 calories. I also ate 2 gus for 200 calories. a pb&J sandwich say 180 calories, and 1/2 a strawberry smoothie say 200 calories. So just under 1600 calories. There won't be a smoothie on the France course so I'll have to drink more Infinit to be sure. We'll practice that again next week.

When I got home I ate what was kind of a bizarre recovery meal. But it was delicious!
Left over pasta with meat sauce eaten out of the container, scrambled eggs and water with lemon juice to get the taste of Infinit out of my mouth. Yum.
Sun exposure
I do worry about a pale face such as myself being out in the sun for these long rides. So I recently upgraded my sun screen to a brand called Waterman. I also cover my arms as much as possible and I reapplied sunscreen about 1/2 way through the ride. I had good success except 2 little strips that got toasted where my arm covers gapped to the sleeve on one side and the glove on the other. Not bad I'd say.
You can see the little stripe of red where I missed reapplying the sunscreen. Otherwise pretty good I think.
And that's it for this week!

Just for kicks I'll leave you with the map of my 100 mile route.


Friday, May 10, 2013

My thoughts on SwimSmart

Yesterday World Triathlon Corporation announced (to much fanfare) their new swim safety program.

They call it SwimSmart.

I digress for a moment to wish that companies would stop squishing words together and adding unecessary capital letters but that doesn't really matter to anything except my annoyance level.

There was a lot of online hubaloo on slowtwitch and beginner triathlete about these changes. And to that I say, "yawn."

I won't repost the whole thing here - go and read it and see what it says. But at some races they will be changing up the traditional mass start of the swim.  At all North American races they will have a warm up area and they will have floating rescue rafts.

I read it. I have to say I think that the changes they are making are reasonable and probably will have an impact in the comfort level of swimmers in these races. A best case scenario what they change has an impact by saving a life.

Also it's interesting because I admit that going into Ironman France I do have apprehension about being a part of such a large swim. So I had - as I mentioned been looking at videos of the start already trying to mentally prepare myself.

What I think is pretty good
Specifically, I find that an active warm up in the water helps me a lot in reducing panic at the start. So I think that's good.

Secondly while some people online are joking about the rescue rafts I think this is a potentially really important change from a safety standpoint. Think about this for a second because it allows for standing guards to scan the swim area from up above. This should massively improve their sight line looking for swimmers in distress.

It also provides a platform within the swim area for rescue efforts including CPR which simply cannot be done on a kayak, maybe it could on a paddle board but a larger floating dock seems superior. Yes, swimmers can also rest here but the biggest advantage of this that I see is for a standing life guard with much improved visibility.

Format Changes
Next some races will change from a mass start to a rolling start with a self-seeded coral system based on time. The 2h20 cutoff will begin with the last swimmer. Each racer will have a clock time and a net time.  Two races will not use this method IM Florida and IM Mont Tremblant have a wide-enough start area that they will simple use corals on the beach so that swimmers self seed and they will have a standard beach start.

These start changes got a lot of online flack from some seriously opinionated people. The first race that will see this happen is Ironman Coeur d'Alene. What's important about this is that IM CDA has one of the roughest IM swims by reputation. I have a friend that raced it last year and he said it was full contact including seriously scary contact at all the buoys from start to finish. That sounds to me like a race where some improvement might be needed. But that's just my opinion.

Additionally the water at CDA can be extremely cold. In fact a few years ago it was so cold that it is the only IM swim where booties and neoprene caps were allowed.  Cold water with no warm up is one of the factors that may potentially lead to in-water anxiety.

To give you some perspective this is the 2012 CDA start. It looks like it takes about 2 minutes for all the swimmers to get into the water.

So there is no IM race that I know of that currently has the rolling start with the run over the mat start. Therefore no video to share. But the race I'm doing in June does have self-seeded corals for the mass start. This is what WTC is changing for Mont Tremblant and Florida. Here's what that looks like.
What I want to point out with these 2 videos is that the races both have about the same number of participants 2500 ish. But both races take about 1 and 15 seconds to get all the IM France racers in the water. That's it.


So in reality it doesn't seem like that change makes much of a difference.

WTC isn't making anybody go to a time trial start.  IM Louisville currently is a time trial start. There are some things about this start that people really don't like.

All 2500 racers line up in a first come first serve basis and they go one by one  into the water. Even this way it looks like it takes about 15 minutes to get all the racers into the water. The 17 hour clock starts when the last swimmer enters the water so that that person gets the full 2h20 minute time for the swim. Apparently slower swimmers will get in line hours in advance to get the benefit of that extra time. 

Starting in front of faster swimmers is a double-edge sword because you will then be passed by every single person who is faster than you in the swim. I have only ever done one time trial start race (Lifetime MLPS) and sure enough it was very congested with slower swimmers blocking my path.

So, there is some concern that with the new format weaker swimmers will self-seed in a too fast group and cause a bottleneck for the faster swimmers. Could happen - I don't know - My gut says not too likely. I would think that if it's only a 2 minute difference there is less incentive. I can also say that while I'm neither the fastest or slowest swimmer I prefer to pass people than to be swum over so I for one will never do that.

In Conclusion - My thoughts
I was a little entertained by the emphatic online banter that ensued following the announcement.

But after a while: yawn.

It is after all just a race. Plus it is the race director's playground - they make the rules. They figure out what they are going to do for the course, for the start and whatever and our choice is do we want to do their race. That's really it.

Now, I can see the point if you were super excited about a 2.4 mile wrestling match in CDA and it's been changed on you 45 days from the race you could be upset. But I would say that if you happen to be super upset about this change perhaps you need to dial back your testosterone supplement because it really isn't that massive a change.

Sure maybe some people will try to game the system for a slightly longer time to swim ... whatever. Newsflash: there are always people who work the system. There are (gasp) always people who cheat. Our decision as participants is always limited to will that be us. All I can say is that it won't be me.

As a last word for those who are stuck rigidly in the "tradition" argument of this. I am not an Ironman expert or historian and I've only been in the sport 3 years. But, I think that if you went back 10 or 15 years the races weren't the same as they are today.

Time marches forward and in another 10-15 years there will be other changes. To be sure some of this is because the races have gotten much larger in the number of participants. I agree that there is probably a part of this where WTC wants to make sure that these races can get as big as they can for bigger paydays. Whether we like it or not they are a for-profit company and that's their job. I think that they will always make the choice to make more money whether that's adding more registrants or more races or offering generic cola on the course.

That's it - those are my thoughts. Feel free to share what you think in the comments below.
Race safe everyone.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Today's daily inspiration - Hector Picard - Hands for baby Jameson

It was at either the first or second triathlon that I did that I saw Hector Picard for the first time. It would have been a Trilogy on Key Biscayne and they have a first wave for elites and physically challenged.

After the mass of speedy swimmers went by I saw a person swimming / bobbing along on his back. Looking closely you see that he doesn't have at least one arm. I didn't know his story or why he was doing the race but it looked really challenging to say the least.

I now know Hector's story because he's a local athlete who clearly loves to race triathlon so if you go to a local race chances are you'll see him racing.

Of course, when you learn he has no arms the first thing to come to mind is how does he do this? At least that's what came to my mind. Because he's a fixture on the local race scene I learned from other triathletes the basics of his story. He lost his arms from being electrocuted at work. He races triathlons ... because he can.

Over the years he has started his own foundation Don't Stop Living which carries a really good message I think.

My Kids and Hector
I drag my family to my races. At one point my kids saw Hector and what happened then was pretty interesting. It started with the normal, one of my kids shrieked, "mommy look he has no arms."  Why kids can only say things like that at top volume is beyond me but it always happens. I told them the basics about Hector's story and they too were filled with questions and they peppered me with them the whole way home.

Q, mommy how does he swim. A. On his back, actually.
Q, how does he bike. A, I don't know actually. (I didn't know then, I now know that he uses a customized bike)

The questions continued on and off for days. How does he eat? How does he hold his water bottle? They were very curious and also inspired by his story. I think that his message of overcoming is very easy for kids to understand because the challenge of not having arms is easy for them to understand. My kids swim and they use their arms so how does he do it with no arms? Same with the bike. My kids haven't met him yet but when we all end up in the same spot I'm going to introduce them.

Hector is an Ironman
Last summer when Hector attempted his first IronMan event at Ironman NYC, I followed his progress online. When he finished it was amazing. I will admit that on days when I think I can't do something it does come into my mind, if Hector can do this with no arms then I can certainly get my little bike workout in today.  He has actually completed 2 iron distance events. Take a second and think about that. I'm getting ready for my first Ironman event and I'm stressed about the swim with my full able body. But Hector does it.

About a month ago I went to a local triathlete club meeting. (Team Hammerheads... we're the coolest). Hector was there talking about his latest project, Hands for Baby Jameson. I picked up two posters for my kids. The next morning at breakfast you would have thought these things were made of gold. My kids fought over them and then each put one up in their rooms. To put it in perspective I also brought them autographed cards from Olympian Hunter Kemper last year and they could have cared less. But my kids are true fans of Hector's.

Hands for Baby Jameson
So now he's got a new project. He is raising money for a baby named Jameson in Spokane, Washington who was born with no arms or hands. He is doing this by biking from Miami, Florida to Spokane Washington. Yes ... Biking the whole way.

So he is of course, collecting money for the cause and the trip - you can donate here.

He is also looking to give talks at bike shops along the way so check out his itinerary and if you're on the route and can connect him to a local shop that would be fantastic. Hector's email is on his web page so if you have suggestions just reach out to him there or on Facebook.

Specifically he's looking in these cities.
*Ocala, FL - June 10th or 11th
*Macon, GA - June 13th
*Atlanta, GA - June 14th or 15th
*Birmingham, AL - June 16th
*Memphis, TN - June 18th
*Columbia, MO - June 22nd
*Kansas City, MO - June 23rd
*Denver, CO - June 28th, 29th, 30th


You can also like his Facebook page for the journey for more information about what he's up to.

So that's your daily inspiration from me. If you have a chance to see Hector as he makes his journey across the country do it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Trainer Tuesday

Today I'm back on the trainer. Fun times.

Actually, today I figured out my Netflix "issue" appears to just be with the iPad not the little phone. So, it was less boring.

Some high cadence sets where I guessed the cadence because I haven't moved the sensor over. And some high gear stuff,

And now I'm done. Breakfast and then the pool and later a little jog.

Monday, May 6, 2013

7 weeks until Ironman France

You know what's not on an Ironman training plan?
A week off for the flu - that's what. Not anywhere in the plan. I checked. But I had no choice there was no way I could do anything but rest last week.

On Thursday I checked in with my coach that I thought the weekend plan of 16-18 miles Saturday and 100 miles Sunday was not gonna happen. He agreed and when we met Saturday we modified the plan a lot.

Slow followed by slower
The run I did 8 sloooow miles Saturday morning followed by a 100 yard dip in the ocean. Then I went home and napped. Then I did 6 more miles in the evening. Those six miles were even slower than the morning miles - it was crazy. For a total of 14 miles so it's not a total waste of a training day. And for the record yes this is taking it easy when you're training for an Ironman.

Sunday - Bike
Coach had said it won't be 100 miles but I had secretly made a back up plan for how I would get my 100 miles in anyway. Luckily those plans fell through because I was completely trashed after just 50 miles. Back at the parking lot he looked at me and said, "home ... rest. Do another hour on the trainer later." So I went home and again I napped. I did put another hour in later on the trainer - nothing crazy - just pedaling.

Both days these were heavy duty out like a light naps. Drool and everything. I haven't napped like this since I started training. At one point my son came to wake me up and I really did intend to get up and I couldn't ... needed more sleep. I really do feel like I'm just starting over fresh with the training. Which is a little unnerving to be honest.  I tried to do some research for information so I would have an informative post here but I found nothing helpful. Some anectdotal evidence that my HR might still be high ... it could take 3 weeks to get back to normal.

So, I'm taking it easy. For example today I did not get up and go to early swimming. Instead I'll go at noon :-) for an hour.

I can't believe the race is only 7 weeks away ... no I don't feel ready are you crazy?

I did find something interesting online this week or last week which is that on RunTri.com http://www.runtri.com/2010/07/runtri-benchmarks-easiest-ironman.html

They have a chart of toughest/easiest Ironman races and Florida and France are sort of side by side. Which is a little crazy but I'll take any encouragement I can get here.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lesson Learned - The St. Anthony's Race Report

This is a little late and also if you're a regular reader you'll note that the weekly Monday post never made it. That's all because I've been belly up in a viral-induced, chest infection potentially flu related sick-fest.

Yup, tons of fun here. But just wait it gets worse.

First let me say St. Anthony's is a great race, good venue the whole thing is really great. Now onto the story.

The plan
For those of you who don't know my life is complicated and very busy. I have 4 kids (2 of those are adult step-kids). As it worked out St. A's was the same time my step son needed to be picked up after his Freshman year of college at UF. So the plan was to drive up to St. Peterburg in two cars. After the race I would drive home with the kids and my hubby would drive up and get Justin and come home Tuesday. It was a good plan but it didn't work out exactly that way.


Friday
Friday we checked into the hotel the Alden Resort and Suites. We had elected to stay on the beach so my hubs and the kids could play while I did my thing. It's an older hotel and our room was very musty. Not great but we'd make due. The kids were dying to get to the beach so we immediately suited up and headed to the sand. My son took 2 steps into the ocean and sliced open his big toe on a shell. Blood everywhere. Not fun. But we didn't panic because to be honest he's a little boy and he's prone to stuff like this.  We looked and decided it wasn't stitch-worthy so we headed to the room to put on a band-aid.

Saturday
Now that Jack would let me actually look at his toe. I took two giant shell splinters out and shockingly he felt much better.

Then I was off to do a brick workout with the group and pick up my packet and check my bike. My throat was scratchy and I hadn't slept well in the musty hotel. I figured it was related. The brick workout went well and I left my bike in its spot - everything was going well. I self-diagnosed myself with allergies to the dust in the hotel and picked up some zyrtec at the Walgreens on the way home. The kids had a great day with their dad on the beach.  I got my race stuff all ready to go for the next day and we met the group for dinner in downtown St. Pete.

Sunday - Race Day
I slept okay. I got up and took a zyrtec still not feeling 100% but not feeling horrible either. I saw the announcement that the race was wetsuit legal (not a surprise there actually although I personally have no idea where they measured the water). Made what was honestly the worst coffee on the planet in the hotel room. Threw that out. Grabbed my stuff and headed to the race. I drank my gatorade on the way. I parked my car and walked over to transition. It was very windy and cool temperature-wise like low 70s. Brrrr. I talked to a local guy who said no worries the wind was going to die down with the sunrise and we should we swimming with the outgoing tide. Sounded good to me. 

I wrestled with my Fuelselage ... that thing can be annoying but got everything set up. I didn't find any of my teammates but no biggie. I was starting earlier than them anyway. So I headed over to the start. Wiggled into my wetsuit by myself thank you very much and did a little warm up swim. Watched the pros start. And then they announced the swim was shortened for the age groupers. Bummer but whatever. The start was delayed for about 15 minutes while they reset the course.  I did another warm up swim. The water was really warm and extremely salty. I swear it's saltier than the ocean on this side. I'm not sure how that can be but I really do think it is.

Swim
Finally did the swim. It was fine. It was actually a deep water start which is to say I was floating in my wetsuit waiting to go. I made sure to put my face in the water several times. I also did my little count to 3 after the start to miss most of the melee. It didn't work. I was in the thick of the group which was fine actually. But I did get kicked in the chin ... ouch! I concentrated on staying slow and calm in the swim and I only did 2 little pop ups to catch my breath. The first was after I got slammed in the face the other was just because. So I felt fine on the swim in fact I would say I was just sort of getting warmed up as I rounded the last buoy. I swam until my fingers were dragging in the sand mostly to avoid walking in the sea grass which I totally hate. And I still had probably 50 feet of mid-knee deep water to walk though. Then it was a 1/2 mile jog to transition. Running in the wetsuit ... not fun.  Lots of people were complaining about the chop in the swim but to be honest I didn't think it was that bad.

see ... all smiles!

Bike
look at me cruising along in my socks. These were my lucky socks but perhaps no longer.

I was off onto the bike and felt good. I did finish my fluids with about 6 miles to go but I figured that was okay. Nothing eventful on the bike. I leapfrogged with a few girls near me the whole time.

see ... still smiling on the bike. What is up with me not noticing that my shorts were all messed up?

Run
Onto the run. Felt fine. Gu in hand I ran out. The plan as always to run to the first water station and take my gu. At the water station I took the gu, drank all my water and then ran on. I felt fine. The problems started at mile 2 when I noticed that I wasn't sweating. My arms were dry, my face was dry, my head was dry. Not good I thought.

I'm not a heavy sweater but I do sweat and on a hot day on a 6 mile run I'll be wet with sweat. I got extra water and gatorade at the next water stop and made sure that I drank the whole thing. Then I headed back out. I stopped at every water stop and drank 2 cups of water and a few sips of gatorade. I also poured water on my head and body. But by mile 4 I had goose bumps on my arms and was shivering. I knew I was in bad shape. Just before mile 5 I saw my coach on the course he was running the other way and I was a mess. He said go to the next water stop put ice in my top and my pants and just take it step by step. I did that but I'll admit it was crazy hard. I was walking a lot and I was really dizzy. If there had been anybody on the course except young volunteers I would have given up. Sometimes there are groups of medics with little golf carts. I was crying a little bit and just trying to get to the end.
This is the finish line chute. It looks like that is almost a smile on my face but it's not it's a look of sort of concentration. Look at how tightly my hands are into fists ... it's not my normal gleeful I'm almost done look.

At the finish I went straight to the medic tent. Actually I have to admit that I must have looked in bad shape because I was led to the medic tent by a doctor volunteer before I even got my medal. I couldn't even really talk. They sat me down and covered me with cold towels and then made me sit in the ice pool while I drank my Gatorade. I was there probably 30 minutes and then after I peed in the porta potty they let me go. I had some pizza, chocolate milk, fuit, chips and more Gatorade. Then I headed into transition to get my bike. It was probably 85 degrees out and while I was waiting in the sun I was shivering so much that my teeth were chattering. I was in short - a mess.

I got my stuff together. I made it to the car and back to the hotel room where I took off my wet clothes, took my temperature (102) ate some tylenol and climbed immediately into bed and fell asleep.

Modified Plans
My husband observant that he is quickly picked up that I wouldn't be driving to Miami that night. So new plan number one. Rest and we'd all head out the next day.


The next morning though despite a full night of tylenol and ibuprofen I was in the same shape - worse even. I could barely stand up I was so dizzy. Fever still 102. I announced I needed a doctor. We found a walk in doctor that would open at 9 and the new plan was to leave one car in St. Pete and all of us would head up to Gainesville pick up the collegiate and then all come back and drive home. If I still couldn't drive he could drive the second car back to Miami.

Marc packed everything .... everything. I lay in bed feeling craptastic.

The Nurse practitioner looked me over and announced I had an upper respiratory infection (technical speak for cold) and prescribed amoxicillan and mucinex dm. As a note they did take my blood pressure which was 89/56. In hindsight I wonder why they didn't flag that as low but who knows why anyone does anything these days.

We stopped at CVS and filled the prescription which I took right away and we headed North in the car. We stopped about 40 minutes later because the kids were hungry and I was all for stopping because I felt carsick and I had only eaten 2 bananas all day so I thought food might be a good idea.

Getting out of the car I will admit I felt LOUSY. I was very dizzy and walking was a real challenge. I was moving very slowly. I sat at the table and had a vew sips of apple juice when I was pretty sure I was going to throw up.

I stood up and made it about 3 steps to the hostess table where I must have stopped and grabbed on for balance. I remember the host asking me if I was okay and it was pretty clear to me that I wasn't okay. I called out for Marc and that's all I remember.

I fainted. Luckily Marc had made it to my side so I didn't hit the ground or anything when I collapsed.

I came to about a minute later and proceded to throw up all over myself and the floor. It was awful. I will say that in all honesty I have never in my life felt as bad as I did at this moment. My vision was all screwed up and like I was looking down a tunnel. Voices sounded off and I could hear the blood rushing through my head. I was covered in a heavy cold sweat all over my body.

I was also really embarrassed. Seems silly but here I was wearing basically pajamas with complete strangers sort of swarming around me and did I mention I was covered in vomit and a sheen of sweat?

The nice folks at Denny's had called 911 when I collapsed in part because Marc shrieked, "CALL 911!" and when they came they took my blood pressure and the top number was 70. There was apparently no bottom number. Not good. They announced that I needed IV fluids. And after my husband realized that yet another set of plans would have to be redone he agreed too. So they put me in the ambulance and hooked up the IV. It wasn't fun. I will tell you that they had to lift me 100% out of the chair I had no strength at all. But I will say that I did feel better even as fast as when that first bag was in.

Of course, my mother-in-law called my husband while he was following the ambulance and he took that oportunity to just say, "I can't talk mom I'm following the ambulance with Amy in it!" She's called every ten minutes since then to check on how I'm doing. 

They took me to the Pasco Medical Center where I spent a few hours mostly getting another bag of IV fluids but also ruling out other causes of my fainting. CT scan, chest scan, EKG, blood work and urine analysis. Then they let me go with instructions to keep pushing fluids. Pushing fluids they explained to me meant keep drinking even though you don't feel thirsty.They also changed the antibiotic in case it was some kind of allergic reaction that pushed me over the edge although everybody agreed I just got myself super dehydrated with the combination of the cold and the race.

Back in the car I kept falling asleep but Marc would wake me and remind me to keep drinking my water and Gatorade. We made it to Gainesville where I climbed back into bed and fell immediately asleep. I ate dinner in the room and I wasn't able to eat much but I did drink my whole 20 ounce gingerale which I considered progress.

Monday Morning
Thankfully my husband went to Wal-Mart and got me a clean outfit. If I had to wear the vomit pants another day I would have been very sad.

I was able to eat a light breakfast normally and we headed South. No more drama except the DVD got stuck in the machine... oh and we got a flat on Alligator Alley which was a pain but the Road Rangers changed it and we were back on our way. While I was outside when they were changing the tire I felt a bead of sweat drip down my arm and I was secretly thrilled that my body was working again to cool itself. Gross but true.

So what's the lesson?
So, what's the lesson? The lesson for me is don't race (or train I guess) when you feel like you have a cold. It's not worth it. Personally I won't need a reminder I can honestly say I never want to feel like that again, ever.

Since then both my kids have also gotten sick so it was definitely some kind of bug that was making the rounds. The pediatrician actually said my daughter had the flu but one day later my son flunked the flu test and nowhere in my comprehensive weekend of doctors did anybody think I had the flu ... so who knows.

I haven't worked out all week because I've been healing. Yesterday was my first day of 3 solid meals and today I actually cooked two meals and went for a walk.

Unfortunately this week was supposed to be a key week in Ironman training. Tomorrow was supposed to be 16-18 miles and I haven't looked but that means 95-100 miles on the bike on Sunday but neither of those are happening. So I'll make a new plan with my coach tomorrow. I would have been anxious about skipping the trainings but honestly I was concentrating too hard on getting better to even consider swimming or biking.