Monday, September 15, 2014

28 Days

Actually it is 26 days...I skipped the first two...til the Big Dance in Kona. H and I leave on October 2nd. A mere 17 days away-Eeeep!
I lay here in bed, coffee cup in hand, having awakened at 4:00 AM. I decided to head up to Chama yesterday for my big 6-0 birthday week. I often wake up super early and this is one of those days. Listening to James Taylor, I am looking out the window at the stars still shining brightly until dawn appears. My hubby will join me up here tomorrow. My goal was to "clean" the cabin before he arrives tomorrow. I usually clean the place about twice a year. However this cleaning day may get scrapped since I feel a little bit like I was hit by a Semi Truck.
A weekend in the life of the IronMaiden's quest for Ironman Kona-starting at home in ABQ:
  1. Get up Saturday AM, eat a big breakfast
  2. Head out around 8:00 AM for my long run. Ended up running over 12 miles in 2:40. Not bad for these old legs..
  3. Head home, eat brunch made by my wonderful hubby, catch up on emails, laundry-the never ending laundry that exists in our house with massive training!
  4. Go to the pool. We had to go to the local club pool, which is in my opinion gross by any standard. Murky water, god knows what people leave in that water..there are always people standing in a group in the first lane, just talking. There is an awful moldy smell always at one end of the pool. Often older, overweight men just hanging around the hot tub staring at people. Not in it, just sitting around it. It is creepy..Anyway, I digress. H and I swam for 30 minutes. I swam with my Finis music earphones, and kept my eyes closed a lot to avoid seeing the water and imagining the worst. My choice is always a city pool, where they gave figured out the art of using chemicals to keep the water crystal clear! Swim done...
  5. I feel tired. Try to relax but know there is much to do before my trip to Chama so start packing the car.
  6. Do 2nd run in the evening. I ran 20 minutes since I overshot my morning run by 10 minutes. It was difficult to drag my ass out there again. I went over to get some body parts waxed after dinner and it made sense just to head out and do the quick run done.
  7. Home by 7:00. Packed up car more, I was dropping my Tri Bike off yesterday to my local bike shop to be picked up by TriBike Shipping today. But was taking my road bike up to Chama so packed that in one car and my Tri Bike in the other since was riding it yesterday in the Century Ride. Confusing, right? I was confused also. Had to make lists so as not to forget anything. In bed by 10:00.
  8. Sunday morning I woke up way before our 5:30 alarm, so decided to pack the rest of my stuff in the car I was taking to Chama so I could leave directly from Century ride and head to Chama. This seemed like a good idea until it was time to leave and I was still packing-woops! H got there early in his car and I finally arrived only to miss the group we were going to ride with that left at 7:00. We missed them by a minute or two. Oh well, off we went anyway.
  9. Started riding the "Tour of the Rio Grande" century ride, which is flat, flat. It was a gorgeous day, hardly any wind but generally had the wind at our backs on the way back. I had programmed the "Tour of the Rio Grande" course in my Garmin and for once, something electronically magically worked for me! So although the course was clearly marked, we had directions..Only crap, it did not record my ride data..oh well, H had his Garmin to gather our ride data at the end. I started pushing on the bike, hanging on to anyone's wheel I could who was going faster than us. We drafted a few folks but mostly I pulled us in Kona training mode down in my aerobars, trying to look fierce! I took all my Kona nutrition to train my stomach as well. We only stopped a couple of times for water and potty breaks. I ran into a buddy from Grad School (we graduated 12 years ago). Great to see an old schoolmate! Saw some other team friends along the way. I soaked in all the encouragement about Kona. My poor hubby got dragged along my quest for a century ride with minimal stopping. Stuck to my nutrition plan-no issues at all. I felt strong and was able to push the pace pretty much the whole ride. My legs got a little tired at the end but nothing I couldn't push through. Finally we hit Rio Grande Road and we were almost there! I couldn't figure out how to look at my speed and the course map at the same time but knew we had done these 100 miles fast! We were finished and H turned to me and said we had down the ride in less than 5:30. Whoopee!! Later he told me we actually did it in 5:20, averaging 19 miles/hour. Oh, if only I could run a marathon after that! Maybe I could?? That would be nice. I headed back to my car, said goodbye to hubby-see you in 2 days!
  10. Put my running shoes on, and pushed my tired body into a 25 minute run. This sounds so short, right? But I was counting the minutes. It was getting hot. I was tired of eating gels and wanted food!
  11. After the run, I drove to the bike shop and said goodbye to my Tribike (by now had my 2 bikes in the car and all my s#%t for Chama). I felt a little nervous just leaving my bike, which they are boxing up and getting ready for Fedex to pickup today for the long trek to Kona. I will pick it up on the 4th in Hawaii, all put together and ready for me to ride (hopefully). My first IM 10 years ago, I shipped my bike Fedex and they managed to lose the shipping label so got a call from Texas Fedex office saying it was a good thing I had thrown a luggage tag on my bike so they knew who's it was...lesson learned. Needless to say, my bike was labeled clearly this time!
  12. Ok, now I am literally starving!! I head over to "Which wich", an awesome sandwich place! After grabbing a sandwich, chips and diet coke, I started scarfing down the food. Of course had to have the chocolate brownie too. I don't think I have ever been so hungry after a long ride! I ate as much as I could, got gas, filled the cooler with ice and off to Chama by 3:10..
  13. Drove to Chama. The 2:45 drive seemed quick! I arrived and unpacked the car. This guy was here to greet me:
So peaceful and beautiful here...I was again starving and ate the rest of my which-wich, along with many other chips and an O'Douls. I finally sank into a chair and watched stoopid TV. Then I got really, really tired-off to bed (after more snacks) where I dreamed strange dreams and woke up at dark o'clock!
So a weekend in the life of a Triathlete Ironman in training I have a 90 minute spin with 20 minute run off the bike and Yoga.
Think I will stay in bed resting til then..oh and await the 60th anniversary of my birth in 2 days. Wow, where has the time gone?? Just the other day, I was riding a tandem with my best friend Allison, age 11 or 12-us giggling and not a care in the world!
(H doesn't believe it's me but yes I m the one in the preteen "awkward stage")


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Harvest Moon Half Ironman Race Report 2014

Two nights before race:
We traveled to and spent the night in Pueblo, CO Friday night since packet pickup was ending at 11:30 Sat AM, not very good organization for out of town peeps in my opinion. But we ended up only 2 hours from Denver, where Saturday we drove and easily got our stuff before checking into our hotel in Aurora early afternoon Friday. This did enable us to head out to the lake and take a quick swim and observe the race venue. Our friend Jim scoped out the bike course and said it was "very hilly", which I knew looking at the profile but it proved to be very correct.

H came down with a cold Thursday. I started pumping he and I full of Zinc & Airborne. I felt somewhat panicked about the possibility of being sick with Kona looming. So far, so good. H was able to race and I am still healthy. I took a nasty spill on my bike 2 weeks ago and managed to get road rash down my left arm and shoulder. I cleansed and treated my injuries meticulously and stayed out of the germ infested pool, so far it is healing nicely. I was very lucky not to break anything or anybody else I was riding with. I was in a group and hit a patch of asphalt while busy chatting away with someone. Never saw it coming:

 Some lovely lady stopped in  her car after my spill. She offered and  drove me and my bike from Isleta to my home in the Heights (about 20 miles). Bless her-there are good people left in the world!
So I made it to the start of Harvest Moon half IM with no cold and healing road rash-yay!

Race morning:
I woke up at the ungodly hour of 2:00 AM, unable to go back to sleep. I wasn't feeling all that nervous about the race, just unable to sleep. Going to the hotel lobby, I found even the coffee wasn't out yet. The desk guy graciously made me some and I started chatting with a friend on the East coast who was racing yesterday also. We encouraged each other and I ate the the last piece of carrot cake I had brought from home. Not exactly a breakfast of champions (it was the first of 3 pre-race meals) but tasted so good going down!

Finally, around 5:45, we loaded our bikes in the car and drove the short 10 minutes to Aurora Reservoir where we were met with a 20 minute long line of cars waiting to park and get to transition. I felt frustrated with the situation. Why can't they make these pre race logistics run smoother? Geez…finally getting into the park, we racked our bikes, all my anxiousness for nought. H and I had perfect spots in between swim in and bike out. The race is small, only about 900 competitors in the half IM. The vibe was pretty mellow, less intense than the M -Dot races, which made me feel less nervous.

Dawn at transition..

The race for me, was just a "practice", warm up race for Kona, which is a mere 5 weeks away. I had communicated with my awesome Aussie coach Michael before the race to strategize my race plan. It was as follows:

Swim: getting into a comfortable rhythm early and picking up the pace slightly toward the end of the swim ( last 5 mins)

Ride: I'd like you to ride as hard as you can for the entire ride and consistent through out so that your back half is as quick as the first. You've done the work to have the back end strong so I really want you to work hard on the bike.

Run: using your run/walk method I'd like you to work the run sections a little harder than you would normally without over doing it. Get into a good rhythm out of transition and make sure to get nutrition going straight away. Work the run sections so that you're keen for the walk section. Don't need to over do it, aim is to even pace the entire run.

I felt I could implement this plan..I love having "a plan".  Fills the Virgo need in me so well..So all I had to do was follow the plan, dial in nutrition and just do it!

Swim: I had swam in the Reservoir the day before and was pleasantly surprised at how warm it was. I had done the swim as part of a relay about 6 years ago and the water temp was barely 60 degrees, it was miserable! Yesterday it was almost a balmy 70 degrees-yay! The outside air was cool, but not cold at all. I was in the first wave and soon realized I would be swimming directly into the sun for the first half of the 1.2 mile swim. I had not brought my tinted goggles…bummer (**note to self**. I seated myself inside near the buoys and we took off! I thought at first I was off course, as I didn't get bumped or kicked at all. I headed into the sun. My sighting was simple-head toward the sun! Keeping the buoys on my left was a bit challenging as I am a right breather but I managed to make the long half mile turn around without too much veering. Rounding the buoy and swimming back there was a bit of a headwind and chop. I took a good gulp of lake water at one point and choked a bit. After settling down I swam into the shore. I took it fairly easy on the swim, seemed like it took forever and ever but swim time ended up being not bad:
Time-38:56- a half IM PR, what do you know?

T-1: OMG, what was I doing?  Took me forever to get my wetsuit off, get my arm coolers on, whatever, it took me a long almost 6 minutes to get out on the bike. I was hoping the sunscreen I had put on in the AM was enough for my face and the rest of me not to get too cooked on the bike. 

Bike: The rollers started immediately out of transition. My plan was to race down the downhill and push as much as possible on the hills. None of the hills were long, just long enough to have to downshift a bunch up and by the time I ran out of gears, it was time to fly down the hill again. The first part of the 56 miles were rollers with a net down. Then flat for a bit, then up and up as the rollers went back up in altitude. Just like my Garmin profile looks:


10203040504,9005,0005,1005,2005,3005,4005,5005,6005,700Elevation (ft)
I felt strong drinking, eating gels on my time schedule. I had to pee and didn't want to stop so managed to pee on the bike while pouring water down my legs hoping I didn't regret this decision. The temps were now in the 60s, sun blazing so was very comfortable. My trusty 8 year old Tri bike has still got it. For the first time in 9 months I have no weird sounds or funky shifting, finally getting a bike to work perfectly with the help of several mechanics. Mrs. Venge will not be making the trek to Kona, my Cervelo will have to take me to the big dance..There wasn't suppose to be much wind in Aurora but we did have a headwind up the hill on the way back. And so it goes... I was starting  to get really hot at one point so poured water on my arm coolers, which really worked to cool me off.

Race plan worked so far. My bike time was 3:17 (officially 3:20 as I did stop and pause at an aid station).This was an average time for me at a half IM distance. All the many many miles over the last few months paying off. I felt good knowing that my hard work was finally rewarded..My average speed was over 17 MPH. I'll take that!

T-2 went so much smoother. I racked my bike, grabbed my race belt, nutrition belt, shoes, hat and off I went. I even brought my little sun screen, which I managed to apply somewhere on the run. Time in T-2 2:44. Half the time of the first transition.

Run: I took off feeling my legs were super heavy, which surprised me, all the bricks (run off the bike) I had been doing didn't seem to matter the first few miles of the run. I had my electrolyte tabs with me that I kept adding to my 8 oz handheld water bottle. They immediately were so fizzy they drained out of my bottle as soon as I filled it. I resorted to adding tabs in the water cups at the aid stations and downing them. This seemed to help with the legs. I finally ditched the handheld-piece of s%&*t! My foot was hurting on the toe I had managed to stub in the hotel room in the dark getting up to the bathroom in the middle of the night Saturday night. Ouch! I ignored  it, plugging along a rather hilly run course around the Reservoir. This surprised me, H said he didn't think it was hilly at all so I guess perception is everything when you are tired:


33:201:06:401:40:002:13:2008:0012:0016:0020:0024:0028:00Pace (min/mi)
 I didn't want  to stop and pee with my one piece Tri suit so discreetly ran on the dirt and proceeded to pee on myself, dousing again with water. The clouds were rolling in, I thought I heard thunder at one point. I was getting toastier as the day wore on so the possibility of rain actually was a welcoming thought!  It never rained, but the cloud cover was so awesome! I followed my run 4 minutes/walk one min. Religiously, trying to do the run part faster per Coach Michael's suggestion. This was, at times easier than others. I had to pay attention to my Garmin constantly since my "running faster" kept feeling like it was faster than it really was. Then there were bugs..nasty little annoying bugs trying to fly into my mouth so had to pay attention to keeping my mouth shut. The wind was pretty nasty the last 2 miles up on top of the Reservoir before the halfway turn around. The turnaround was a welcome site! The volunteers at the aid stations every mile were mostly teenage kids, I was grateful for them for the most part. One guy was trying to put water in my bottle and managed to douse it down the front of my suit. Dude! I said, trying not to be the bitchy Grandma but was getting pretty tired at this point. The only thing that saved me was the walk/run. Those walk breaks really gave me something to look forward to especially the last few miles. My legs were exhausted but I was still in fairly good spirits, making myself sing song in my head, usually only the first few lines then would get brain fuzz and have to start a new song. I saw a woman with an Ipod.. Hey wait that's against the rules in a Triathlon!!  I secretly wished I had an Ipod to replace my feeble attempts at self singing, which wasn't working so well to keep me going the last couple of miles. I passed a bunch of young men that were walking-this always makes me feel better...selfishly.. I finally had to stop and go the the bathroom-the real thing. No porta potties in sight I found the only bush I could see in the near distant and hoped the teenagers didn't spot me…I lost about 2 minutes here. Somewhere along the way, I spotted H, who was heading out to the turnaround. He looked in pretty good shape for racing sick!  I was glad he was still out there and smiling.

I finally heard the crowd and I was gonna finish! I had done calculations and thought I would finish in about 6:50 but I guess the pauses and stopping added time so as I crossed the finish line, the clock said 6:58. I was good with that-I broke 7 hours and was certainly happier than the last half iM finish in Austrailia-the race from hell/Geelong 70.3!

Run time: 2:50. I had 2:45 on my Garmin so 5 minutes of farting around time (again).

They were announcing the awards ceremony were to be held in 5 minutes...whaaa? Guess no award for me. Ever the competitor, whether it is a "practice race" or not-When I checked  with the timing folks they didn't have anyone in my age group listed in yet. They went back and printed out new results and said I was either  first or second, two 60-64 ladies had come in. I saw my friend Jim, who was recovering from a hard race. I tried to eat the "Mexican food" they were serving post race and it was disgusting.. So water and animal crackers would have to do. They did the awards and alas I was first place, by 40 seconds! I hugged the 2nd place gal. I looked later at our times and I beat her out of the swim, she beat me on the bike and her run time was much faster. Just a few more minutes and she would have run me down! Wow, I was lucky and thankfully I am a decent swimmer-which finally paid off!

This is me trying to act cool while waiting to see if I won my AG..

 Me trying to climb up on the podium and having a hard time. I was pretty out of it and sore right here!
Delerious, but happy with my first palace award despite the kind of lame mesh bag and USAT hat I received. No prize money or great award Schwag but I am happy with the whole outcome in a race I had no expectations other than to plan my race-race my plan-I did it!

H came in a bit later. He did well, especially with being not 100 % from having a cold. We came back to the hotel, showered and went to dinner with our friend Jim..hmmm barbecue!:

I came in first out of 5 women. In a short 8 days, I turn 60...I guess aging up has many advantages. I haven't experienced  being the "baby" of an age group in quite awhile. At Harvest Moon, I felt kind of like a big fish in a little pond, it boosted my ego. I have no illusions about Hawaii next month. When I saw the first place lady last year did Kona in 11 hours something, I laughed! I am going to enjoy the ride..

And as my coach said, luck has been with me. I came home to my front tire flat, oozing Stan's and looking like this:

Time for race tires to be installed!

In 23 days, I get on a plane to go to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI. I can hardly believe it! The race is in 32 days. I feel a bit numb about it all but excited..Last month of IM training-let's go!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Back to my Real Job, oh wait I mean Hobby..

Well, here it is June 1st, a mere 19 weeks until the big day in Kona. I know that 4+ months will go by quickly, it always does unless I am on a 5 hour training ride closer to the end of the plan. Then time seems to go particularly slowly.  I feel like since I am after all, training for Kona the IM World Championships, I can't really complain about training. Wait, yes I can. It is Ironman training after all and just given that fact, I am allowing myself just a little whining!

I do not feel particularly excited about starting to train again for October so I need to keep my eye on the prize. I have spent the last 2.5 months doing not a whole lot of anything, a lot of doing "what the hell I wanted to do"each day exercise wise without the ever looming pressure of a future race coming up. This was suppose to be my year to do a few running races, you know just to mix it up a bit...But alas, Kona calls!

I got home last week after a glorious 10 days with my childhood BFF's in Hawaii. Wow, I am one lucky girl! Not only do I still have my girlfriend buds for the last 45-50 years, but one of them lives on Oahu, Hawaii. We decided 10 years ago at our 50th birthday trip that only Hawaii is good enough for our 60th year-wul yea! We spent the time at Hawaii bud hostess extraordinaire's house for 3 nights. Afterwards we ventured up to our amazing rental house for a week on the beach of the North Shore. I mean we were right on the beach. We watched the sunset nightly with surfers and paddle boarders silhouetted in the foreground, a daily Kodak moment. Or should I say a daily iPhone camera moment? I have gotten lazy in recent travels and used my supposedly high resolution IPhone camera for photography although I will say the quality sucks after dark for the most part. I have tried many Apps to solve this issue, but to no avail. Could be user error..hello! I did manage some amazing photos along with my girls and we have the everlasting memories for life..I learned to stand up paddle-board (SUP in Hawaii speak), swam in my new skin suit especially purchased for the waters of Hawaii and Kona. The ocean water in Hawaii is really clear, warm and I LOVE swimming in the salt water, especially sans jellyfish. Or at least I did not see any in my Hawaii adventures so far. Even the surf was tame compared to Melbourne. The weather was amazing the whole time we were there. Lots of morning coffee in the back yard (ocean), some sight seeing, beach combing and plenty of great meals at home while in the house. We did spend on evening "bar hopping"on Waikiki Beach and crashed a 60th anniversary party (sort of from afar) that had all the decorations we deemed serendipitously arranged for our 60 year old BD week party, backdrop decorations and all! "Bar hopping" has changed a bit in the last 25 years for us old ladies. These days it consisted of one drink on a hotel patio and dinner at another hotel on the beach side. Even the actual "lively bars"were too loud for us, as we are becoming a bit "hearing challenged"and loud sound tolerance is at an all time low for me anyway. We capped off the evening with an after dinner drink/tea at a jazz lounge we found quite by accident at the restaurant hotel. A real treat to top off a perfect evening, complete with the full moon rising along the Waikiki skyline.

So meanwhile back here at the ranch/reality back in in New Mexico, yes the pollen is here still and I have been miserable. Back to nasal inhalers and steroid inhalers to fight the ever looming asthma issues related to potential bugs that lurk around during allergy season. I am ever cognizant that last year at this time I was recovering from Pneumonia. If you would have told me back then that yes, I would win my AG at IM Melbourne and qualify for the Kona Worlds last May, I would have said I could care less. I remember just feeling like it was a struggle to get across the house breathing, much less accomplishing an IM. I can't even wrap my head around the fact that was only a year ago. Thinking back on how sick I was, I feel extremely fortunate to have my health and do NOT take it for granted AT ALL! So inhalers are a good thing..

As for training, I back with my Australian Coach BFF, Michael who is starting me out slowly from his end of the world towards my goal in October. He, as well as I do not want me to become burned out mentally and physically during the coming months. I think Michael is a very wise young guy to understand the challenges of being an "older athlete" and all..So my humble beginnings of Ironman training seem easy at the moment but I know that will change soon enough. I want to get back to being coached because I want to have the structure and encouragement, albeit minimum for the time being. I like being held accountable, if even in my own mind, it puts me on the path of health and feeling like an athlete again. Someday I really will just be a "normal retired person" but while I am physically able, I will stick to being a triathlete legend in my own mind..:)

May totals (this includes my galavanting around Hawaii, where I did manage to run a few miles):
Swim: 4850 yds. (one of these swims was even open water in Cochiti Lake. It was bone chilling cold, quite a change from the waters of Australia and Hawaii!)
Bike: 191 miles, yes on a real bike believe it or not. These numbers are high in my opinion given how lazy I have felt.
Run: 45 miles. Easier to run and much less equipment intensive!
Yoga: One measly hour. This is gonna get better. Lack of Yoga for several months makes for sore muscles!
Weights- 2 sessions this past week. I tried to do a "new routine"a few weeks ago, including pushups for a week and planks, one or both of which jacked up my shoulder, which hasn't been the same since. So much for pushups at least for this amateur. I returned to my tried and true gym workout  (Mark Allen's favorite) which I have used for years. If its not broke..

My bike is in the shop..again! I have had it in several times since I have been home. I think after so many debacles in Australia in training and racing, it may be time to start replacing parts. The clattering noise in certain gears, although much less is still there. I feel like at this point I may scream the next time I hear noises coming from my bike while riding. I told my LBS guy as much, he is sick of me I am sure as I am in there almost weekly whining..I trust he will figure it out though.

All for now. We are in Chama for a couple of days and it is so quiet here and peaceful. I ran for an hour today and it felt like one of those "GI challenged"days and I just didn't have it. Ironman? Yea right, time to get back to being retired for today. A new day dawns tomorrow and a new training session!