Monday, September 30, 2013

Call me the Mad Hatter

Because I was Late Late Late

Total Bummer
Long story short  - I overslept for the triathlon I was supposed to race on Sunday morning.

Now I could say it was user error I set the alarm for afternoon but nope it was correct. I have once of these fancy alarm clocks that will keep sounding for I think 15 minutes and it will keep getting louder. When it's at it's loudest I can hear it all the way through the other side of the house. So I didn't just oversleep I OVERSLEPT. 
 This is my son getting ready to swim 25 yds backstroke. He swam 3 25s and one 100 freestyle. It was a few hours of swimming cuteness. 

It was a lesson in humility because I have to admit to myself that I simply cannot do everything. We had a very long long day on Saturday with a kid swim meet and birthday party plus bike check in. I went to bed exhausted at 10 pm. And apparently it came together that my little old body just could not get up at 3:45 on Sunday morning. This is not a feel sorry for me thing though because I know plenty of people who ran 18 or 20 miles on Saturday then worked at their jobs and they still made the race. I just didn't.
My daughter ready to swim. She swam 50 free, 50 back and 50 breast plus 100 IM.

What happens when you oversleep?
Well in a smaller race I could have just bagged the day and relaxed. But because Escape has mandatory bike check the day before I had to speed down there to get my bike back.  So I did get to watch the race and cheer for my friends. It was a fun day.

Then I got my unused bike and headed home. Not the result I had wanted but it is what it is.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Escape to Miami - Preview

Sunday I'll "race" Escape to Miami for the second time.

I feel underprepared for all aspects of the race except the swim. I have never ever ever said that before.

I'm not actually concerned about finishing. I'm just not really prepared to "race" it. So we'll see what happens. I have only been doing my weekend rides and I've skipped pretty much every other one of those. Oops. And I haven't run more than 7 miles for a long run since ... um June. Again ... oops.

So the goal is to have a good swim (don't forget to take off the speed suit in t1), safe ride and enjoy the suffering on the run (yeah ... right).

Last year I had a 1/2 iron a month after this race so I was really really ready and I swam 32:36, biked 118 and ran 1:03. Other than the swim I'm not sure I'll see those times this year. I feel like I have been (to put it bluntly) goofing off. In fact I'm procrastinating my 30 minute run right now. Yesterday I did actually ride the trainer for the second time honestly since I got back from France.

But I'm happy I get to race. This morning a girlfriend of mine deferred her entry till next year. She has a painful hip injury. It was going to be her first olympic-distance. So, I'm lucky I'm not hurt.

Monday, September 23, 2013

More about Jellyfish and Lighthouses than you ever wanted to know

Saturday I was part of a 4-person relay for the first annual Swim around Alligator Lighthouse.

There were about 150 people/teams that took part in the event (I think ... I don't know this). They were either solo swimmers, 2-person relays or 4 person relays.

There was some confusion around the logistics of this event probably because it was a first time event and who knows maybe it will always be a little quirky. I think that endurance swimming is a quirky type thing and anything that happens in the Florida Keys is bound to be a little quirky. For example we could not figure out where it was actually starting until the night before the event.

Packet pickup was uneventful. I picked up for everyone since we were all arriving at different places and times. Honestly while there was some communication confusion this event was well organized. Especially during the event I had no confusion.

Before dinner we went to scope out the start because it was a little confusing to know where it was from the non-directions. We were pretty sure we had it wrong and that we were at somebody's house but we walked around the house and voila there it was.

Then all but one of us got together for dinner. Since we were a 4-person relay there was more adult beverage drinking than I'm used to before an endurance event (that's usually none so I'm not saying there was excessive drinking here).

The next morning we found the start much more easily since the beach was covered with lunatics swimmers.

Our plan was this. Everybody takes one mile legs in rotation except the final swimmer was going to do the last 2 because she's swimming Ironman Florida in 6 weeks she wanted to do it together. It was an okay plan but I would do it differently next time. I'll talk about that at the end.

I took the first leg. It was fine not a jellyfish to be seen anywhere. Apparently the kayaker saw plenty but I didn't so that was perfect. Then the next swimmer went and it was the third of our swimmers who began to encounter jellies. He only did 1/2 his leg and then got out to treat the stings. I then went in for another leg with my jellyfish suit. I was fine but twice I encountered a "wall" of jellies I couldn't get through. The first time I followed a swimmer through the swarm letting him - clear a path. The second time this happened I had a minor/major panic attack that I am really happy is not on video :-)
All those little white circles and dots are moon jellyfish. They really are pretty. In real life they look pink to me. When they are spaced out I just sort of swam around them.
More jellies. At the beginning I was just trying to enjoy them. But that only lasted so long.

The advance advice about the jellies is to just swim through them don't even think about it. The force of your stroke usually pushes them away. That's what most people who made it through did. Like so many things in life it's really a mental thing. As long as you're ready to be stung and you know that while it's unpleasant it goes away it's best to just not let it bother you. But since it's mental that's not always possible for everybody. At least it was hard for me.

I did a total of 4 swims 3 were filled with Jellies and I'm pretty proud of myself. During my second leg I got all itched up on my face, hands and feet but I don't think I actually hit a jelly. I think I must have went through a section of jelly puree from one of the motorboats. Then on my last leg I got one on the leg. OUCH!
me swimming. I know I look stunning. I'm the only person who looks awesome in a swim cap and goggles, ever.

They are beautiful but not much fun. Although I'm a lot less fearful of them than I was when I started.

It was a fun day. It is a beautiful swim. I'm sure even with all the jellyfish this event will grow in popularity.

That little dot out there is the lighthouse. I'm already on the boat so we're at least one mile closer than shore. 4 miles is far to swim. The people who did this solo are superhuman.
It was billed as an 8 mile swim but most people think that the mapped course was a little longer than that. Of course, nobody swims exactly straight so the personal measurements  on Garmins probably don't really matter but I wonder if they will adjust the measurement in the future. Who knows.
The lighthouse up close.

We didn't come in last and we also didn't come in anywhere near first. But we had a good time and that's what mattered.

If I do it again I think the thing to do is have the rotations based on time not distance. So rotate every 30-40 minutes. Rotations are key to making this race work. We were going by the seat of our pants here and we lost time there (but we weren't really going for time so whatever). Then there is the fact that like all open water events the buoy markings may not have been exact so it was a little harder to say if we'd gone a mile or more. Switching every xx minutes is more reliable. Also we ran into strong currents in part of the race. This is easier to see from the boat than in the water so rotating the swimmer often keeps the strategy on track. The winners of the 4-person relay finished two hours ahead of us and they were all 4 collegiate swimmers. So if you want to win come ready to go fast :-)

Everybody on my team except me went home after the race. We stayed and ended up at the awards dinner restaurant later. It was at The Morada Beach restaurant. If you do the race stick around for this. It was very very nice on the gulf side, casual restaurant watching the sunset. Very good time.

We stayed the next day and went snorkeling the next morning with the kids. This is their first time snorkeling and they both loved it. They were nervous to get off the boat at first but once they saw the reef under them and saw fish they were thrilled. They can't stop talking about it. There is nothing quite like seeing children discover something new so this was a really special experience.

I have the cutest kids.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Something new - Alligator Lighthouse Swim Relay

I have been lazy in posting mostly because I felt like I didn't have much of interest to say.

( aha the question is ... is anything I ever say interesting ... i know..i know)

This weekend - tomorrow actually - myself and 3 others are off to the Florida Keys to swim a swim relay. We start in Islamorada and swim 4 miles of shore (through reported hordes of jellyfish ... won't that be fun) to the Alligator lighthouse and back.

We're a relay so there are 4 of us swimming 2 miles each. I'm swimming the 1st and 4th miles. So that's good then. The one of us who's idea this was is prepping for Ironman Florida. So she'll be doing the final 2 miles. She has super sensitive skin so she is currently freaking out about the jellies. I assume I'll have to shove her off the boat to get started after she watches them bobbing around for the first 6 miles. Ha!

The goal will to be avoiding these guys.They are pretty though aren't they?

In the spirit of planning ahead I ordered a full-body lycra suit to wear to avoid the jellies. Sadly some royal FedEx mess up has resulted in this suit arriving here 3 days after the swim. Not helpful. So I'll be trying to pick one up in a local dive shop on the way down. Otherwise I'll just wear a rashgard shirt and hope for the best. Apparently they are big and easy to see so it will be like swimming reverse wack-a-mole: swim swim dodge the jelly swim swim dodge the jelly.

This is a ridiculous promo video because it doesn't show the lighthouse but whatever. Also why did they pick such crazy music? I am impressed by the ability of the swimmers to hold the camera so steady while swimming one-armed. So there's that.

I will say this. If you thought planning for a triathlon was complicated a swim relay is a ridiculous complicated mess. We need a support motor boat and kayaker to accompany the team. And I'm still not entirely sure how the whole handoff of the timing chip will work.

Plus this is an inaugural event. And so of course they are still giving us details today - one day before the race. Winning!

But I'm hoping the weather is good - the jellies are all blown out to sea and a good time is had by all.

Monday, September 9, 2013

New Toys - The Flo Disc Wheel

I have a new toy.
Just the disc wheel not the whole bike. The bike I've had for a while.

So, I've taken it out twice now to play. Even though I was very excited to have it. Ride it all the time was the plan. That hasn't happened for a few reasons.

First getting it on the bike was tougher than originally planned.
  1. step one add tire. the wheel arrives without a tire (or tube if you're paying attention) easy peasy. happened immediately. quick trip to the bike shop.
  2. step two remove old tire. I had never taken the back tire off this bike but that happened okay too. Although I did wish momentarily for extra arms or perhaps that awesome stand they use at the bike shop to hold the bike and wheels in place. 
  3. step three. Insert new tire. hmmmm. tight fit. Use big swimmer arm muscles. Very tight fit.
  4. step four. try to figure out how to release rear brake. consult internet. dig out user manual. examine super confusing diagrams of brake assembly. admit defeat at this attempt. 
  5. step five, Ride bike down street and back with  rubbing brake pads. 
  6. step six. Sigh.
  7. step seven. back to the bike shop (again) to adjust the brakes.
It's the  trips to the bike shop that slow me down mostly. But I did learn that this wheel is much wider than my normal Reynolds wheels. This means that the brake has to be opened way up to fit this wheel and when I take it off they will need to be tightened back down. Also the brakes on this bike (perhaps many tri bikes) are not easy peasy to deal with. They are under the bike and there is no "open switch" like I have on the road bike.

So the wheel is on there. And it's going to stay on there through Escape and then I'll take it back to the shop to have the wheel switched back and that will be the procedure for races where I use this wheel. Not a big deal but figuring it out took a little time. Also, I now understand why people take their bikes to the mechanic to have race wheels put on versus just doing it themselves. That's because it's not necessarily a 15 second wheel swap like changing out my trainer wheel.

The other thing slowing me down is that this wheel may not play well with others. Surprisingly I don't feel unstable on it or anything but I might move a little more side to side if I catch a strong cross wind. So even after I got the wheel bike thing figured out the road bike has been going with me on the group rides because bumping into your friends on the bike shouldn't be quite that literal.

So what's  it' like to ride?

It's a little noisy when it goes over bumps but that doesn't bother me especially during a race it won't because I'll be wearing the aero helmet and seriously I can't hear anything in those things. As for the people around me ... well sorry, in advance.

It has a giant space for access to the valve. Apparently when you pay $1500 more for a zip disc that includes a snazzy cover for this so that it's totally sealed. In order to save $1000 I will cover this hole with black electrical tape on race day.

Next observation it feels really fast. Honestly with most things that are supposed to make you faster on the bike it's hard to tell if they really do. Not this.

I don't know if it's my imagination but this feels much easier to go fast. Really. This is similar to shifting from a hybrid to a road bike for the first time.  It could really just be in my mind but that's my initial impression.

It's much more stable than I thought it would be. I haven't been out in huge winds but around 10mph which is enough to seriously slow me down in a headwind. But I didn't feel blown over at all when it was a cross wind.
See 13 mph wind. This was a little later than I rode but seriously - it is still way too hot in FL.

Plus, (I think) it looks cool.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Here we go again - Ironman Chattanooga

Since I got back from France - maybe slightly before I've been thinking about what would be the next full Ironmnan.

I was considering Ironman Lake Placid, Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman Florida. Which is why I this week I signed up for Ironman Chattanooga.

Makes sense, right? No of course not. This is me we're talking about.

I trained for Ironman France mostly solo and I really wanted to be able to train and race with others. So when my coach called on Wednesday morning and said he and his brother were putting together a group for Ironman Chattanooga I called my husband and we made the decision to go for it.

That was at about 11:30 EST. Registration started at 12:00. I meant to swim at 12 and I thought I'd come home and register. But Frank suggested I register first and be a little late for swimming. Okay no problem. I went downstairs I got my wallet pulled out my USAT card and noticed it was expired. Okay. So I went to USAT couldn't remember my password requested a new one. Waited a minute retrieved that email. Logged into my USAT account renewed my membership. Then headed to and hit the register button for Ironman Chattanooga made my normal 2-3 mistakes filling out the form and miracle of miracles I registered without incident.

I didn't realize how lucky I was. Turned out the event sold out in as little as 3 minutes, maybe less. Also, I learned afterwards that tons of people had trouble on and were kicked out during the process. There are hundreds of pissed off people who didn't get in. They need a sedative - it is a bummer but it's just a race. So I was pretty lucky.

I guess it's meant to be :-) I'm pretty excited.

Of course registering is the easy part. I've been generally lollygagging around eating too much - training just a little bit. Soon I'll need to start up the process and get training for this big race.

Monday, September 2, 2013

These kids have got spirit!

To start September off with a bang I dragged my kids and my husband up to North Miami for the Miami Kids Triathlon.

This is actually a series of 4 races but we've only made it to one. Last year we did one of this exact race so my kids have both raced this course before. The race director has made good improvements and it looks like the race has caught on so that's great.

This is my daughter's third triathlon and my son's second. He got a trophy last time so he was very excited to race again. My daughter not so much. In fact through the day before she was saying she wouldn't race. But she did race. I told her she didn't have to but she would have to go since her brother was racing so she went ahead and raced.

The younger kids went first but my daughter's pics are first so I'm sure you'll be able to cope with this irregularity.

Her race was 75yd swim, 1 mile bike and 3/4 mile run.
This is my daughter swimming. She did a great job. She passed the person swimming next to her and they start one by one with a little gap so that means she went pretty quickly although it's hard to know since we didn't get a split. There was no swim split because she dropped her ankle chip.

This is my daughter finishing her 75 yard swim. Her chip had fallen off in the beginning and the guy just handed it back to her with no instructions of what to do. She's looking at me to say, "what do I do?" I told her just carry it to transition and ask someone to help you put it on there.
My goal for the day was just to stay relaxed and not be a crazy tri mom. I both succeeded and failed in this goal at times.

I succeeded when I stayed calm when my husband tried a new route and instead of getting there early we had 2 minutes to make it to check in ... stressful. I failed when I yelled like a tiger mom for an inattentive volunteer to help my little one with her chip in transition (pay attention people - that's why you're there).

My daughter takes her helmet wearing style from me - I can never get it right. She's a very cautious cyclist and to be honest she doesn't love it. She fell last year on this course so I was thrilled to see her come in unhurt. In her age group there are girls on road bikes already and they compete head-head so she'd have to really push it to win and we were there just to have fun.  Although she said at breakfast, "I wonder if I had a road bike if I would have gotten third?"

This is my daughter sprinting to the finish. She had the fastest run split of her age group. I'll try not to mention that 50 times in the next paragraph but I'm pretty proud.

 My son's race was 25 yard swim, 1/2 mile bike and 1/2 mile run. It seemed like the whole thing was over in a minute. The little ones are very cute.
This is my son finishing his 25 yard swim. He was pretty nervous and did about 6 strokes before he remembered to breathe. Then he did one of those roll over onto your back kind of breathing things that kids do. It was cute.
My son took off on the bike and I thought he was going to smash into another kiddo who was ahead on training wheels but he didn't. Biking etiquette is sort of lost on the smallest group. I stress to my little maniac to try to avoid hitting anyone. He had the 3rd fastest bike split in his age group. He's a little speed demon and he loves it.

This is my son sprinting to the finish. He started the run going the wrong way and lost about a minute. He asked a volunteer where to go and the volunteer apparently wasn't sure .... um hello, wrong answer! My husband finally got there and told him where to go. He also ran the first half of the run with his helmet on. Funny stuff. He saw this picture and said ... look you can see my abs. His abs ... seriously?  Yup that's what he said. He cracks me up!
In the end my daughter came in 4th and my son 6th in their age groups. When you're a kid age groups are one year but you age up like adults on 1/1.

So they both had a good time even though there were no trophies and the reason was really because they both knew other kids there from swim team and school. That makes all the difference in the world for my kids enjoying the day. 

Final Thoughts
I wish this series was closer to us. I wish any kids tri series was closer to us. But if it's our only option we'll do this one again next year.

This race was better run than the one of this series we did last year. In fact my overall feedback for the event is two things - the volunteers need to be better prepared and the course near transition needs to be more clearly marked for both racers and also parents.