Friday, December 20, 2013

History of Insanity....or my Friday Morning Thoughts..

(I may have already written much of this info in past posts but it is on my mind again today and I get a bye on this because I

Can't remember when I went from "I do Triathlons" to "I am a Triathlete" but the metamorphosis was slow, subtle and a work in progress.

My first race was in 2001, the year that my oldest sister died. She was 52 y.o., I was 47. These two things had no relationship at the time. I had the dream of "maybe doing a Sprint Triathlon" some day after witnessing the Finish line at Kona, quite by accident in 1997. We were suppose to go to St. Thomas in the Caribbean in October that year to attend a law conference for H's career. There was a hurricane on the Island the week we were suppose to go to the Carribean, so somehow we ended up in Kona, Hawaii for the long weekend. It was fate. I never even knew what an "Ironman Triathlon" wasmuch less that the World championships were in Kona, HI every October. We had been sort of watching the event live on TV the day of the race in our hotel. It looked pretty intense and cool. On a whim we ended up in a restaurant at the finish line that evening. I am pretty sure we couldn't get in that easily these days! I witnessed in awe the athletes crossing the line after this mega event of swimming, biking and running. I seriously could not believe it..who does these things?! These must be super humans, built with super powers or something..I was in tears watching as these fit specimens of men and women crossed the line with Mike Reilly announcing with each individual as if they had won the race, "(fill in the blank), You are an Ironman!!" Mike Reilly you see, is the "voice of Ironman." He has  announced all the WTC Ironman races and finishes for the past 25 years. So when Mike says your name at the end of this long day, you know you have made it, you have won in your own right! There was nothing farthest from my mind that I would indeed be one of those people crossing the line at an Ironman race someday. Sipping cocktails on the beaches of Hawaii were more my style at that time..Little did I know...

Fast forward 4 years..I began "The Dream" of "doing"a Sprint Triathlon, which means in short I wanna just finish the damn thing... Just a short little race but monumental in my mind..I was in my mid forties and well, my mom taught me from a very early age that you can do anything you put your mind to. You can will yourself to do most anything. I had an employer tell me once as I was walking out the door You are too smart for this job. Find something you think is too hard..and do that!  This boss was an asshole to work with but his words never left me..I was in my mid forties and thought why not? I can swim, bike and run...if I put my mind to it.. I saw an ad for a Women's Triathlon Camp in Boulder, the triathlete capital of the world. It was a 4 day workshop with an ex Triathlon Pro. I went with my Mountain Bike, if I remember right or maybe my new low end road bike, which was all I had at the time..The last thing we did in the camp was a "Mock Triathlon" with a pool swim, followed by a bike and run. I thought I was going to die...literally at the end. But I did it and knew I could do my first Sprint Tri a few weeks later. Yes, I felt like I was drowning in the first open water swim I swam at my first race, thought the bike course (13 miles) were the hardest biking I have ever done and well...running 3.1 miles in 104 degree heat in Dexter, NM was torture..But I did first triathlon race. I got 2nd place in my AG. Sure there were only 2 of us but 2nd place at my first race! I often wonder if I would have been as enamored by the Sport had I gotten 12th instead of 2nd at that first race, as I have many times. But I began to believe I had that thing, that athletic gift..maybe just a little, to do this fun little sport. After all, I could swim, which many Triathletes find a challenge. Although my first open water swim threw me for a loop because well, I forgot there were not lines at the bottom of the pool in the lake. I didn't take into consideration the fact that you have to warm up before the swim to keep from hyperventilating....I still learned a lot and kept learning with every race I undertook after that.

I got to know the woman who won first at that race and as it turned out she was a rocking runner and athlete. I kept in touch with her, she gave me such confidence that I believed that I could actually do the next level up, an Olympic distance triathlon in the summer held in none other than Las Vegas (New Mexico, not Nevada). I began practicing with and meeting other triathletes who were my heroes as well, fellow learners and believers that they too, could indeed do this thing..I did better at that race, although not fast...I did not freak out in the swim, I managed the really, really hard bike course and the hot run..I found training buddies!

The Spring and summer of 2001 was the beginning. My sister died December 27th of that year, unexpectedly from Multiple Sclerosis. My mom and dad had died in their 60s. I suppose some of my impetus to keep going with the racing was my fear..Fear of my life ending too soon as had these 3 loved ones. It just kept snowballing until one day I thought Hey I am a triathlete!  It just rolled off my tongue one day as I was describing to someone what the hell I was doing training all these many hours, days, weeks, years..These past almost 13 years have been the most challenging physically for sure but also the most rewarding in so many ways. When I did my first Ironman in 2004, I was turning 50 years old, was still working in a career in my own business and had a very busy life. It can be done! Now that I am retired training feels like a job sometimes, creates much needed structure in my life I suppose. A goal, a reason to travel, a reason to not lay on the couch in front of the TV and eat potato chips as I watch my retirement years waning...

I won't go into details of all my racing experiences here but since then I have done at least 52 races including running races, Triathlons-Sprints, Olympic, half Ironman distance and Ironman distance races..I picked that thing that was too hard to do, and did that. Which ultimately ended up being an Ironman. I am about to embark on my 6th Ironman race. Last Ironman, Arizona in 2012 was One for the Thumb..For what reason am I doing my 6th? Well, after we got the email inviting us to participate in the "Asia-Pacific Championships" i.e.; Ironman Melbourne in March 2014, how could I resist?? A race in Australia again, one of my favorite places ever..on earth? Yes, sure we will send you that mega money to feel tortured for 14 hours-why not?  I caved..big time..I am still hooked on crossing the finish line and the complete satisfaction that I can still do that thing that is too hard!

So today I gaze out of the window in our little Condo in Tucson, where we live for the next 4 weeks because we want to train in warmer weather for a few weeks. This just may be first hint of becoming snow birds, I suppose. It is pouring down rain today, hmm a good day to take off I think, although with IM Melbourne looming in the short future, any missed workout may mean a minute more of fatigue in the race...My dilemma today, whether to swim or not..I am one lucky lady to have this be my challenge of the day!

I am learning to accept that I am almost 60 years old, for crying out loud. I need chiropractors, massage therapists, rheumatologists, alternative doctors for alternative joint shots, just in order to keep this aging body going in order to do such taxing things to it..the last doctor looked at me after diagnosing many back issues, some age related, some genetic and said And how long are  you planning to do this running? Eeekkk..didn't need to hear that..**Fingers in ears***lalalala...Until after March, thank you. Just fix me now, for crying out loud!

And as ever, I always say this is my last Ironman!  But in all honesty unless I figure out what else to to with my time, energy and challenge in will probably be there..maybe...In the meantime let's go for a swim in the rain!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tucson Triathlon Training: Wess Style

14 weeks to go until my 6th Ironman Triathlon competition...I've been asked how come no blog yet?

Well, I guess I haven't been feelin' it...the inspiration to write. This could be for many reasons I tell myself:
A. I don't have anything mind blowing, important to say. Actually, I quite bore myself sometimes!
B. I'm not good enough to write anything fabulous.
C. Why am I doing this?
D. I am simply out of practice..
The mind rattle can go on forever like this I suppose..Then I remember what a teacher taught me many years ago. Maybe in college? Nursing School?
K.I.S.S- Keep it Simple Stupid
I go to my fall back KISS plan: The List!

1. We are in Tucson to train in warmer weather..Which so far has turned out to be a great idea. As rides are being cancelled right and left in ABQ because of the bitter cold and indoor trainers have become the norm, we are cycling outside in the lovely Arizona sunshine. Not always "no jacket" weather by any means but warmer nonetheless. Well, except for that nasty rainstorm the first weekend we were here in which we said no f-ing way were we riding the Tour de Tucson in a complete deluge of rain from morning til night! This is a rare occurrence in this part of the desert. We did get to see a few ABQ friends anyway at least and enjoy some great social time!

2. Living in a 1000 sq. ft. Apt./Condo has its benefits..I can empty the dishwasher without taking a step, just turning from dishwasher to shelf. The cabinets however, are on backwards so that I have to close the dishwasher to get the soap out to fill it-who designed this place?? A small concession I suppose..H and I can't be in the kitchen at the same time though, just not big enough. We are learning to share the kitchen space.
The whole place took me less than 2 hours to clean yesterday. I am very spoiled at home and we hire someone to clean our house there every 2 weeks. Cleaning is a skill that comes back easily, even the toilets!
H and I maneuver the smaller space quite nicely in all, I can see how "older people" like to simplify their lives and move to Arizona it seems. The average age of inhabitants in this complex seems to be about 75. We haven't met any neighbors, if we have any close neighbors, we rarely see them and they are sure quiet..

3. To bike here is a dream. The whole city of Tucson seems to have HUGE bike lanes, plenty of bike paths, very cyclist friendly. There is a bike path loop planned to go around the entire city of Tucson, which will be well over 100 miles once completed. We have seen much of it in our travels. We were given a tour of 2 bike rides from our new friend here, who is bike savvy and gave us some great riding suggestions the first week we were here. Thanks Alli!
Since we have been in Tucson the past month, we have biked 460 miles in this lovely city.
The people we have contacted to ride with have been really nice, we just can't seem to haul our asses about of bed early enough on Saturdays to join anyone yet! So we brave the bike paths and lanes ourselves, which so far has been pretty easy. There is no way to get to or from our condo without climbing some hills so we were getting some awesome hill training under our legs..
Yesterday,we ventured out to follow a Garmin route, which as it turned out (poor planning on my part), ended up being 96 miles, 12 miles longer than we thought. We finished in the almost dark, moon over Tucson time of day: 

4. Running is just as spectacular. We are 1.5 miles away from Sabino Canyon, where a myriad of running trails abound. We have ventured there a couple of times. The trails seem easy to follow, it's just finding the time to get it all in! There is also a bike/running trail literally right out the door of the J.C.C., the Club we joined to do our swimming. Not only is there a concrete bike path but a parallel marked dirt running path for miles. Choices, choices, choices!
Total run miles since here: 79 miles.

5.Swimming-the JCC is a great club. After searching for the puurrrfect place to swim and do strength training, the JCC won our hearts. All the pools here are outdoors, well because it is "warm" here yearlong I suppose, but "warm" is a relative term. The pool is heated, thank goodness although outside, with a skin suit, 2 caps and earplugs, I found it quite toasty on the days I swam with the temps in the 40s midday. This was a rather cold spell for Tucson, most days have been in the 50-70 degree range, which is lovely outdoor swimming weather, I must admit. The JCC pool is clean, empty of swimmers mid afternoon and clear lane lines so I don't go wandering into H's lane at any given mindless moment of time. We have adopted a swim program in which we are swimming 3 times a week for an hour...nonstop..The whole rationale being well, if I want to run a marathon, I run long. If I want to ride 112 miles, I train doing long rides. It would only make sense that to swim 2.4 miles nonstop in a race, I would train by swimming long swims. We learned this from a coach online so we will see if we can withstand the absolute boredom of such a plan. I have gone through no less than 3 different swim music devices to help cut the monotony of swimming 2 miles at a time with no stopping. So far, no cigar-it seems my teeny tiny genetically engineered ears won't hole the earphones of pretty much any underwater music device earphones. I finally broke down and bought this:It is a music device that works by conducting the sound waves through the bones in front of your ears-who the hell knows how that all works. I don't care-I just want my music!! The first one I bought was defective (of course), I am now on Finis Neptune music swimming device number two, which I will try tomorrow. Total swimming yardage since being in Tucson: 18,150 yds.
I have done Yoga at a local studio a few times, I am honestly having trouble getting out the door to keep up but I know Yoga saved me last year while IM training. Saved me from injury, insanity and tight muscles. I need to cultivate some discipline here cause nothing like a little Yoga to keep me grounded!!
Strength training, weight training-whatever you want to call it, is one of those necessary evils in the world of Multisport. I do it, begrudgingly a couple times a week.

Now massage, that is a different story, I endulge myself once a week, even got a Pedicure once last week..ahhh, the carrot at the end of the endless training stick!

So this is my journey so far in training for Ironman Melbourne, which seems so far away in distance and time..I know from experience that 14 weeks goes pretty quickly, the older I am getting...sometimes I think yikes, am I ready for another one of these? I am sure most of our friends and family think we are nuts except well, the other nutty ones who do these silly endurance events..It gives us aging retired folks something to so, to look forward to. A purpose in life..for now anyway. The big payoff comes when one of our granddaughters said to H as she got done with one of her first soccer games Look Grandpa, I am an athlete like you!
Now that folks, is priceless..

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ironman Austin 70.3, 2013

We traveled the 11 hour journey last Thursday to arrive in Austin way past dinner time. After getting lost trying to find a restaurant, we finally settled on a steak house near our hotel. The meal tasted great-we both got sick the next day and everything ran through our systems at lightening speed...Word to the wise "Longhorn Steakhouse" in Georgetown, TX is maybe NOT the best place to eat..We arrived safely and stomachs full at our hotel, bikes and all our crap in tow. We fell into bed and finally had a good night's sleep. 

I knew going into this race, Ironman Austin 70.3 that I was not totally trained for it. I struggled in the last 2 half marathons I raced last month, was sick in May with Pneumonia, blah, blah, blah...but there is always that teeny tiny voice inside that says maybe?? I will surprise myself. 

There were 20 ladies signed up in the 55-59 age group. Wow, that's a lot of "older women"! It was my last triathlon in my 50's. Starting January 1st, I will be racing in the 60-64 category. In triathlon you compete at the age you are December 31st of that year. I'd like to say "woot! " for my new age group but these older female athletes seem to be aging up with me. I remember the good old days when there were 2, maybe 3 in my AG in my 50's at most races..sigh..

So this was a race against myself really. I felt like I had been swimming quite a bit coming into the race, biking a fair amount but not running enough and it all reflected in my times. There were no real surprises for me in that regard, except I wanted my secret super powers to come out and override all of that. Uh, guess what? There is no substitute for training!! No magical thinking or race fairy will change that- Lol..

The race was weirdly set up. There are two transition areas, one for the bike and one for the run, about a mile apart. This particular event was a "clean transition" area, which to me says simply "we don't have to do as much work tearing down the transitions" ( the Ironman workers). This made not too much sense to me. Usually you can set out all your stuff at one transition and leave whatever you take off there when you change into biking stuff, running stuff. In a "clean transition", after the swim portion, you had to pack up all your swim crap and put it in bags at T-1. Then at T2, all your run stuff was in a bag where you rack your bike and after you dumped said contents, you had to shove all your biking gear into the bag, including helmet and leave it there. What this all means is that in my befuddled mind that I forgot nutrition, bike tubes and other important items at the T-1. "Clean" transitions were about 4 times longer than they usually are...bummer!

We went to swim at the lake on Friday. The water was perfect! There was some discussion online about the water being potentially too warm for wetsuits (has to be over 76 degrees) but H and I deemed it cool enough, the water felt great. We also biked a bit and ran. There are many, many stickers (burrs, goatheads, etc.) around the transitions to cause potential bike flats. I had read from other previous racers that it was a good idea to carry our bikes in and out of transitions, so as not to have a flat before the race even started. 

On Saturday, we dropped our bikes off in this manner and thank goodness it worked-no flats so far! We covered our bike seats in plastic along with our bike handlebars. This eventually came back to haunt me. I though it was a lovely ideas to wrap mine in colorful tape so as to be able to spot my bike in the sea of the other 2499 bikes in T-1...We drove over to T-2 and dumped off our run bags in transition, then get to the pre-race meeting. The forecast called for thunderstorms in the area right at the time the race was suppose to start on Sunday, as well as the night before. They told us about the contingency plan for such a set back, so I felt better hearing that. The RD told us carrying our bikes out of transition to the bike portion was a "good idea" and that if we do, we shouldn't have the flat tire problem. He said they hadn't really had problems with many flats in the race in previous years (lie #1) and didn't foresee them in this race. We met some lovely folks from Albuquerque, there were quite a contingency of us here, which was very cool! H and I decided to drive back to T-1 and fill up our bike tires Saturday, since we didn't want to have to fuss with that on Sunday AM. The RD said that this was a good idea (lie #2), since it is an "urban legend" that bikes lose their air or pop from the heat overnight before the race...hmmm..not what I have heard but oh less thing to think about race morning.

Saturday night before the race, we had a lovely dinner with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter at a nice Italian restaurant. They live here and were such great support for us at the race!! We got back to our hotel and were in bed by 9:00. I woke up at 4:00 A.M. to putz around because I hate to feel rushed, wanted to eat my bagel and take a shower. I checked my stuff and all the pre-race details before we walked out of the hotel at 5:15 AM.. At 4:00 AM I had heard the crack of thunder and said "uh-oh, maybe the contingency plan will be implemented here". I tried not to worry too much. Rain is one thing, thunderstorms in the lake is a totally 'nother thing..Traffic was light until we got to the lake, then we sat in a line of cars for 45 minutes just to get to park, then got on a shuttle bus to take us to the lake at T-1. I was trying not to feel stressed out, listening to my iPod soothing music and trying not to think bad thoughts about our decision to leave late..It was very dark, raining slightly but no more lightening..Whew! I sorted out my bike gear, somehow thinking it was a good idea to leave the plastic and tape on my bike seat and handlebars until after the swim...wrong choice!! The ground was muddy and gross, I was already dirty before I even started the race. I was thinking Triathlon is so messy, so complicated compared to running races. Let's do running races next year!  H and I found each other and headed down to the swim start. Had my earplugs in, wetsuit on and felt pretty good...H and I were in the first waves after the pro start. The sky was starting to lighten. Then they announced the race was delayed 15 minutes because of the clusterf%*#k at the car entrance and not all the athletes were there yet..better traffic planning next year?!?

Finally the gun went off for the Pros, I went in 10 minutes later..5 minutes after H. I started to the far right, not wanting to get kicked and punched the whole swim since I was traumatized by Ironman AZ last year, where I got literally knocked around for 90 minutes. I knew it would cause me to swim some extra yardage, but for some reason, I kept swimming to the right, away from the bouys and course. I bet this added 200 yards to my swim. It was all I could do to stay to the left on course. I need to figure out how come I kept veering off so badly, maybe because my stroke needs work? I started out slow to warm up, then after about 500 yards, I picked it up.The water felt great, I felt strong and got out of the water at 40 minutes. Not my best, not my worst at this distance. I was good with that..

Swim (1.2 miles) time: 40:19.

I tried to find my water shoes I had left at the side to run the 200 yards up the sticker filled grass to T-1, to no avail-someone must have taken them? I prayed I didn't get goat heads in my feet, as I had the day before making the trek. I didn't, thank goodness! The wetsuit strippers were about halfway up the hill..they were awesome! I found my bike fairly quickly but the plastic bag, tape thing took FOREVER to get off the bike seat. I wasted precious time here but did manage to get all my stuff on, minus the stuff l forgot to grab in my post swim delirium...I headed out of T-1 and carried my bike(in the mud, gravel and stickers...uh not so great for the bike shoes as it turned out!) another 75 yards out of transition to the mount line. A very sweet young man offered to carry my bike for me..I gratefully declined but dang those Texans are nice!

Transition #1 time: a record breaking slow time of 8:46.

I got on my bike and alas my cleats would not clip in my pedals.. It took me a few minutes to realize I must have much s#%t on the bottom of my bike shoes! therefore couldn't clip in. Almost everyone had the same issue. I stopped 3 times to try and get the mud, rocks out, to no avail. Now my hands were filthy, my shoes were muddy and my bike soaking wet. Hmmm...time to go with the flow. Finally someone at an Aid Station had a hose and sprayed the bottom of my shoes. Hallelujah, I was able to clip in and off I went. I was glad I managed to remember to pull on my new hot pink thin rain was cool outside with the rain and all, plus being wet anyway. The rain basically stopped at this point, there was cloud cover all day..Perfect! I felt I was dressed appropriately. The bike course was, well hilly and not much flat ground to ride on. The roads were pretty bumpy and jostling for the most part. I wasn't surprised, we had driven the course. I felt like I was going pretty fast for the conditions. It was a tight squeeze to pass in, only half the already small road were blocked off much of the time. I started noticing folks on the side of the road fixing flats..then I noticed LOTS of people changing flats, I would say at least 30 people I observed in the 56 miles, including one nasty wreck aftermath, where 2 people were on the ground, basically not moving. I heard a few ambulances in the distance. One poor guy was walking his bike, I asked if he was OK , he said both his tires had popped and he was out of tubes. Dang! I thought, if only I would have remember my extra tube, I would've given it to him! I could only send positive vibes his way ..The young guys started about 90 minutes after my swim wave so now I was hearing the "zoom, zoom, zoom" of disc wheels absolutely flying by me! I felt like I was riding pretty fast until I was left in the dust by yet another disc wheel rider. One guy passed me and said "You are my hero!" I thought, wow, I must be riding so well, so fast and look good too!" Then I remembered my age written on my back calf..oh yea, what he really meant was: Wow! So awesome an old lady like you can do these races?!. Ha! I knew it was meant as a compliment and thanked him, always bewildered that being in my 50s and doing Triathlons is a big deal! I mean I know I am super lucky and l blessed to be healthy and strong enough to race.. I don't feel 59 so when I hear these things I wonder..whaaa? Well, that thought didn't last because around mile 40, I started to realize, yes Debi, you are 59! My back started hurting, first on one side, then both. My neck was cramping from riding in aerobars..oh yea, you have to actually practice riding in aero position before the race-duh!! Of course having forgotten Ibuprofen or Tylenol in T-1, I just had to suck it up the last hour..I sped through most of the Aid stations, passed a couple of women in my AG so was feeling pretty good about my bike time, although I didn't have a watch or bike computer on..I was really tired of being on the bike by mile 50..just get me on the run!! At one point I heard something in my tire (I spent much of the bike praying for no flats). So I stopped to check and clean my tires. H passed me and asked if I was OK, I said I think so...not flats-yay! Finally, we rounded the last corner, my "flat paranoia" left and I was never happier to get off my butt and standing up!

Bike time (56 miles): 3:28. Much slower than I thought it would be..oh well, lots of folks considered it to be a tough bike course, so I guess it was!

T2 was another "clean transition area". I dumped my bag on the ground, took my shoes out of the extra baggies I had them in, since I left this bag overnight in the rain-everything was in extra bags. To avoid foot problems, I changed socks, taking more time in T-2 but running in wet feet=blisters. I wore short compression socks for the bike and was sorta annoyed I didn't pack dry CS's for the run, so regular socks would have to do..again a slow ass transition as I had to pack everything up in the bag again..gahhhh!

T-2 time: 8:41

Off on the run at last!! Only now I started having right sided back cramps/pain. I tried eating salt tablets, Tylenol, Advil, gels, drinking water, thinking it might be an electrolyte problem but I guess it just was sore muscles. This went on for the first 10 miles or so. It was super annoying!! I did my run 2.5 min./walk 1 minute pace, which for the first lap felt amazing! The run was 3 loops, about 2 loops too many! The first loop the hills were fairly easy. All that extra oxygen in Texas after training at 5-8000 feet felt awesome. They call these hills? I thought to myself. By the last loop I was thinking these f^%*ing hills! I hate them..haha..what a difference a few miles make!! I will say the weather was perfect, and I mean perfect. There was cloud cover for all but about 5 minutes when the sun popped out. Otherwise the temps were in the 60s-70s, somewhat humid, all in all we were very lucky to be racing in these conditions. The crowds were great, since there were all the loops, folks could stand near the loop turns and cheer 3 times. There were some cute Aid Stations around the end of each loop, which had very loud microphones with people yelling your name (we had our first names on our bibs). One person yelled over the microphone, "hey we are missing the Cowboy game for you. You better run fast!" I was amused. At the end of my first loop, I saw my family!! Lane had made us such a cute sign:

Our own personal cheering section! We saw them 2 more times. Getting hugs from a Grand kid is always inspiring!

I passed a 75 year old guy and he was my hero! I said "Wow you will won your age group!" He informed me there were 2 men in his AG, how cool is that.. Later, I saw him finish-woot! Then there was the guy running with one leg and prosthesis.. He spoke little English, only Spanish but I told him I was impressed! A guy was running dressed in full Fireman suit and gear. I was sweating with just a tri suit, can't imagine his discomfort..and told him so..and thanked him.I saw H on the run once, he was ahead of me, I knew he was having a good run. There were at least 3 women that passed me in my AG, flying by me really. There was no chance I could catch them...I kept hoping that they were the only ladies in my AG, but OMG no there were 13 women ahead of me! The last loop of that run were a suffer fest.. I switched my pace to 2 minutes, run/one minute walk. Some of the harder hills, I just trudged up on the last loop. As I rounded the last bend into the shoot, I saw my niece, Erin, who had come to surprise us cheering us in!

Thanks Erin and Gavin!!

Allison, Mike and Lane were inside the arena, where the race ended. The reverberation of the crowd inside the arena was amazing- I was finally at the end!!! Wow, hard race for me, as they always were but my times were disappointing, even though I know logically I did the very best I could for the day. My first comment off the finish line was: I am too old for this s^&%t! lol..Allison said You always say that mom! She knows my crazy pretty well because well, I keep racing these things! 

Run time (13.1 miles): 2:49

Final time: 7:15

14th out of 19 in my AG-boo!

467th out of 659 overall women-not bad..

1849th out of 2219 overall in race-well, I did beat a few folks..

The first 5 women in my AG did the race in 5-6 hours. The winner in my AG did it in 5:03. This astonishes me!!! She beat men half her age. I want her drug tested.. Me and my sour grapes!! Lol!

The best part of the day was seeing my husband get his 2nd place award in his AG. He ran some guy down at the end and came in 2nd, almost qualifying for Ironman 70.3 Worlds in Quebec, Canada next year. The winner of his age group claimed the spot-dang! Oh well, he is a stud, that hubby of mine!

We hung around for the awards ceremony, of course to see H get his reward for all his hard work!

Would I do Austin 70.3 again? Maybe in a relay..I would do it again if my daughter and son-in-law do the relay with me! 

The positives were; 
1.The people were super nice, althletes/volunteers-much less intense atmosphere than say, Boulder 70.3, etc.
2. Aid stations were well stocked-all of them.
3. The swim at Decker lake was awesome-perfect water temp, smooth, great, well marked with bouys, lots of kayaks, etc.!
4. The crowds at the run lap turnarounds were so inspiring an helpful..

1. The "clean transitions" made my times there painfully slow! Major PIA..
2. Getting into the parking area on raceday was a nightmare. Open another source to get in and open up both lanes!
3. Would it be so hard to put down more carpeting in transition and the run to the bike start??
4. Roads we biked on pretty much sucked. Alot of people had issues with bikes, tires, crashes, etc.
5. The award ceremony started about an hour late (close to 5:00). We were so sore and tired, this was annoying.
6. PLEASE don't tell people there are no problems with flat tires!! Last year and this year many folks had flats on the bike. Tell us to bring extra tubes!

Monday, I woke up at 3:30 AM sore and hungry.. I think I burned something like 7,000 calories on Sunday, now it seemed my body wanted that replaced!! We drove the long drive home to ABQ. This is not the greatest plan after a half Ironman sitting in the car all day but we wanted to sleep in our own bed last night. Today, Tuesday-I am sore and still hungry..I plan on vegging out most of today-time for some recovery!

Then we start seriously training for Ironman Melbourne which will be held on March 23, 2014. I will be in my new age group! Hot damn..

Monday, May 13, 2013

Middle-aged Female Triathlete Gets Pneumonia; a new Endurance Challengefor Me..

This all started with a virus, maybe slightly more sicky than usual when I get this stuff. Colds necome viruses, viruses become bronchitis, bronchitis becomes lingering "Stites cough" (I coughed my whole childhood, my kids coughed theirs and now the grandkids), is the usual course of an illness for me. It all started about 3 weeks ago. I was just starting to get back into weightlifting again. I was doing Yoga a couple times a week and training for Ironhorse. Hoping to be part of the Red Cross Disaster Team as a mental health volunteer, I was taking courses at the Red Cross. After joining the NM Counseling Association again, I was in the midst of volunteering to be on the leadership committee of the New Mexico Association of Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling. In summary, I am one busy retired person!
My biking was as good as its ever been. My running was slow but steady, not doing too many long runs. I was even finally able to keep up with the "big kids" biking much of the time. Dread Pirate and I were planning to do Valles Caldera half marathon in June (mountain running race, I love this race). Apparently these 2 do not think I have ever had to miss an event because of illness. Ironhorse is a bike ride out of Durango that goes like this:
I know it's hard to tell but this is a hardass ride!
And this half marathon the beginning of June:
I have done this race before-it is beautiful and I was gonna run with my buddy, Dread Pirate. Damn!
My thoughts about illness
The very unexpected nature of getting sick is enough to send a Virgo to a mental hospital, in madness. I live in a world where my retired husband and I are indestructible. No really!! We retired 7 years ago and have not looked back, not even once. We travel, we train with friends, race all over the world with each other and this makes me feel loved, happy and like I belong. I am use to being in control of all aspects of my life, where I go, what I do, how long I do it. I eat a healthy diet, exercise, don't drink, don't smoke, try and take care of myself mentally, emotionally. So when this STOP hit, I was thrown for a loop. Not to sound too dramatic or anything, but it feels like a big deal in the moment, at least the doctor has communicated more than once Debi, this is a BIG DEAL. You need to rest, I'm not kidding!
What does sudden STOP feel like? Well, the first few days I didn't care..honestly..I felt like a major Mack truck had hit me. If I never ran, biked or swam or even got out of bed for that matter, I didn't care. STOP feels like some foreign force invading my space, taking all my control away and saying see how you like that-POW!
I have been one sick puppy. After seeing 3 doctors in 2 weeks, I think I am finally starting to heal. I first went to Dr. #1 two weeks ago, who assured me it was "just a virus" and did not prescribe antibiotics. After starting to feeling better, I had run/jogged that day, Saturday and felt great. Then all of a sudden that night, H and I were watching TV and I started to shiver uncontrollable. Teeth rattling, someone plopped me onto an iceberg sopping wet, shivering. I started running a fever and felt really all  happened very abruptly. I still had "the cough" but this was all new. Waking up drenched in sweat that night and for days afterwards, made me feel gross. The next morning I had a sharp pain in my left rib and felt short of breath despite taking 2 inhalers and Ipubrofen, still had a fever. Having the worst headache ever in the back of my head, scared me to death (sister died of meningitis). I went to the ER the next day, Sunday and without going into too much detail, it was a nightmare really..Healthcare has changed so much from back in my nursing days (70s-early 90s)! Even in my sick related brain fog, I was horrified. Dr. #2 did, however diagnose me with pneumonia and assured me no, you do NOT have meningitis. I was so relieved about this! After a very rushed IV dose of antibiotics and a prescription for oral anti's, they scurried me out the door and told me to come back if I did not get better in 2-3 days..uh, yea over my dead (or sick) body...
I honestly thought they had made an error. Such an incompetent system at the ER, they probably got my X-Ray mixed up with someone else's or misread it, the possibilities were endless. How could I have pneumonia? Isn't that what "old people" get who are smokers, frail, sunken eyed- the "unhealthy ones"? I was trying my best to deny, deny, deny... On Monday I made an appointment with Dr. #1 as a follow up and surely he could clear this whole mistaken mess. ER Doc #2 had said come back to ER if I was not better on Tuesday. I was worse on Tuesday but was committed NOT to go back to the ER if I could help it.
So had an appointment with Dr. #1 for Thursday as a follow up. I felt worse by Tuesday, thought I would ride it out til I saw him. Then Wed afternoon, Dr. #1's office called and canceled my appt with him for Thursday, said he would be gone- no explanation why, just he wasn't going to be in the next day. By now, I was feeling quite desperate and asked them to at least ask the doc's nurse to call me  that day for some direction. I felt worse and did not want to go back to the ER. Even after leaving a rather urgent message, no call from nurse until the next day.. When she did call, no apologies, no sympathy, nothing! I was so sick and scared, I even forgot to ask the stoopid ER Doc #2 which lung, copy of report or anything. I usually am so on top of these things..
By then H had pulled some strings and gotten me in to see one of his old friends, a Doctor #3 here in ABQ. I saw him Thursday AM and he too, was horrified the ER let me go and did not admit me to the hospital. I not only had pneumonia but a pleural effusion (fluid around lung). Doc says " I could either admit you to the hospital or you could go home and be on bed rest for a few days" (what the heck is bed rest? Lol). The "stay in bed, only get up to the bathroom" kind of bedrest. I chose the latter because well, frankly I am now scared to death to be in any hospital here. Currently, I am taking 2 different anti's, 2 inhalers, cough medicine, hauled out the 'ole Vicks vaporizer and am laying low. I no longer have a fever and am walking around a little but the shortness of breath is my limiter. Dr. #3 says I will probably be feeling better by Monday (today) and probably no training (bike/run) for 6 weeks. I have not felt this sick since I had appendicitis when I was 19 years old..I am now on Day 10 of this odyssey. despite being short of breath if I walk across the house or am up more than an hour, I am better. No fever, lots of coughing still, appetite slowly coming back, yet I am very fatigued. Guess that is my body's way of saying Uh NO you are not ready to actually DO anything yet. But I am breathing, not in a hospital and have the most excellent private nurse, Nurse H to take care of me. No, he has not had to as of yet, empty any bedpans..ahh..something to look forward to in the future! He has taken such good care of me- I feel stoopid every time I have to ask him for something..I am trying my best to not order him around and tell him how to do dishes, control issues at work probably because I feel so powerless.
I wistfully watch as Hartley walks the door in his bike or workout gear. I'm at the point in the sickness where I am only mildly jealous. It has not been not such a big deal for me up until now. I heard the words that "I need to spend a few days in bed" coming out of the doctors mouth and I feel a certain sense of curiosity. A few days of that? What does that look like?! I realize in this moment that I'm not 30 years old..I have to limit my Cyberchondria to only 10 minutes a day or I will definitely find some rare, foreign disease that caused all this. I can't explain it but it feels like something must have caused this, does something happen so randomly? Another example of my control issues.
I don't think the impact of what I will be missing has sunk in yet..major suckitude if I look at it that way...I could choose to look at the positive:
List of list of things I'll do while I am recovering.
  1. I will never be late making my moves in online Scrabble. This should make my competitors happy!
  2. Never be late paying bills because I am too busy to open them.
  3. Pay attention to Facebook, even write some posts myself..
  4. Catch up on reading...books..real or electronic.
  5. Surf the net endlessly without feeling like a slug.
  6. Watch the last and catch up with seasons of "Game of Thrones"
  7. Organize my 5,000 or so photos into some kind of order.
  8. Make lists of lists on how to organize, fix, replace. all the things I see in my house that has to be done.
  9. On that note, I get to obsess about everything that I haven't done in the last three years that we've lived at this house.
  10. Blog about my recovery..not as interesting as traveling or Ironman..on second thought that may just be depressing..
  11. Read all the blogs of friends that I have not had time to read..
  12. Watch endless movies/Series/Documentaries on Netflix.
My activity all depends on how I feel up walking around. A trip across the house seems to get me winded these days. Breathing is a great Leveler right now. I find myself wondering if only my crazy triathlete/running/biking friends know how hard it is to define "taking it easy". Does it mean only running 5 miles today? Not biking up a mountain pass? Yoga only 3 times a week? See, I need some thinking adjustment here!
It is now Monday. I am still weak but eating more, even going to venture out for a field trip- a trip to the doctor today! My back is sore from lying around so much. I fight the urge to "try and do some Yoga" but stretching doesn't sound like a bad idea. I am fighting grumpiness..If I hear "this is your body/ the universe telling you to slow down", although well meaning-I will explode!
However, I am so grateful for my friends locally, Facebook friends, my awesome kids and all that are sending me well wishes. I feel the healing vibes. If love could heal, I will be well very soon! H has been so patient with me, he understands how frustrated and sad I am at times.
So STOP just try and ruin my present life- I am Ironman!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What Bollywood and Yoga have in Common

Now that I have FOUR, count them FOUR stickers on my chart, I am starting to feel like a rock star!! I noticed that while I was doing the meditation this AM, I started to wonder if I could just add the affirmations to that to condense things. Hey first light bulb moment! I try and shortcut alot to be efficient but mostly because I am impatient..Am I going to have these insights every day? We shall see..

Yesterday's Yoga was ridiculous. It was called "Yoga for Weight Loss". I would like to name it "Quad Killer Yoga". At the end of class I felt like I had done about 50 squats. Who knew my body would move in such unnatural ways! At one point I felt like this girl:

We were actually doing Bollywood in Yoga. Say whaaa??

I was quite skeptical whether I could manage my run afterwards. After forcing myself to put on running gear, and one change of clothes (it was 40 degrees but felt like 50 with the sun), I was out the door. I wanted to run in the Foothills in my back yard (practically):

It is beautiful and peaceful to say the least. As I started running up the path, I surprised myself by all the energy I had! I bounded through the trail like a gazelle....well a very slow gazelle but feeling pretty darn good. Wow...I thought...Maybe this Weight Loss Yoga is a good thing! I ended up running 8 miles, which is my longest run since Ironman Arizona in November.

I thought for sure I would be sore this AM. Like Quad worried me to think about doing Yoga again today with sore Quads and all...but alas I am not sore at all! The only thing that hurt me last night was my neck and back. Sore back from doing "Ab work" today in class. I do not seem to use my Abs with anything Ab-like. My back usually takes the hit. Is my back considered my core? I think not..My neck has been sore for a few weeks now. The chiropractor tried to do his magic on Thursday which resulted in a big crack! in my neck. Surely this would fix me! Well, it did for a couple of days. He did X-rays of my neck and back. After comparing these to my previous MRIs, he said yes indeed, I still had arthritis in my neck and Lumbar spine. He looked at me and said See this degeneration? If you were not an athlete and training, you would be in much worse shape by the look of your spine. OK, I felt better in my neck just hearing that! If I wanted to go all metaphysical here, it feels like the weight of my little world is on my shoulders...hmm..something to ponder while doing Yoga today..Heat on my neck and back last night worked miracles, that along with a dose of Meloxicam (which I take rarely because it causes my feet to swell)..

Off to do a spin class then Yoga this AM. Tonight I am going to a black tie Oscar affair with one of my kids. Should be a good day!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day 4, 36 to go..

Last night I went to a workshop at the Yoga studio to hone in my "transformational skills". Some really good ideas there. Alot about "intentions" which are really affirmations on steroids. When I am wanting something in my life, I affirm-out loud in a sentence. Like it is already happening ie; I have a pet pig. I have a pet pig. Stuff like that which really sounds good on paper but when I try it, and it needs to be said with conviction then it will manifest...eventually...I have never personally seen this happen for me largely due to the fact that I stop doing affirmations usually in the 1st week. Maybe this 40 day thing will keep me going. There are star stickers and Lululemon involved here, common Debi..

I am on Day 4. Meditating this AM at 5:15 felt like a rodeo. Trying to focus on my breath while roping in those random thoughts every 5 seconds or so..At least I went the 10 minutes without looking at my watch...once..This is progress!!

Affirmations were as I said above. I read somewhere that is you just say Lie to myself, then act like the following statement is true (with conviction): I have a pet pig. I have a pet pig..

I am going to "Weight Loss Yoga" today which sounds to me like a rigorous Yoga workout with weird poses..I am a bit intimidated for sure. Yesterday I felt as stiff as ever and ready to throw in the towel...See how easy I cave?

I also want to run 10 miles today. I love running and will see if this is a good idea or not. Yoga every day and running, weight, occasional spin class. Will have to see if that all is in the 20s outside this AM. Yikes!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

40 Days of MidLIfe Committment

I don't do 40 days of anything unless there is a goal. My goals have been one big "push, push, push until you get there. No dawdling!" This however, is my journey of doing 40 straight days of practices that some may see as "easy" but aren't really. Give me IM training and I am committed...Give me 40 days of healthy, slowing down, breathing in the days and I am challenged!!

This is what inspired me:

In my 59th year of life, I can hear the clock ticking..tick..tick..tick..This is not a dress rehearsal and there is no time like the present and all the other euphemisms, of which I can remember none at the moment..I finished my 5th Ironman 3 months ago, proceeded by two hand surgeries. I had pretty severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a diagnosis I had no knowledge of, until I started to wake up several times a night with numb, very pain ridden hands. It surprised me. I exercise, eat basically healthy, I am beating the clock, right? Well, apparently not...I put off the surgery for 18 months, with every 2-3 months of steroid shots into my wrists, which kept the CTS at bay until I could fit the dreaded surgery in. Finally biting the bullet in December and with much in trepidation, I underwent the knife. First the left hand, then 2 weeks later the right. The first surgery was a breeze, the 2nd-not so much..However, I survived and voile! NO more pain/numbness in hands..

One thing I had to give up for 2 months was Yoga. I admit, I am hooked on it. I started with a 2-3 days a week practice in February 2012, with a Groupon at Julia's studio, a mere 5 minutes from my house. At first I felt like a zombie trying to relax and twist into pretzel like poses. I was very unnatural for me, I have tight muscles from all the years of triathlon training. I have a slightly curved spine and 58 years of bad posture habits. I was reassured this would get better...And it did..Soon I was actually enjoying Yoga and was amazed! I started feeling more relaxed in life, began having less and less after training pain.Yoga enthusiasm use to be such a foreign concept to me, now it is part of my life in a huge way. I attribute my lack of soreness, my ability to walk immediately after Ironman to Yoga last year. I distinctly remember the first time I went to pick something up off the floor and easily stooped down with straight legs with no problems....I was amazed and thought Crap! This stuff really works!

Finally at the beginning of February, I inched my way back to "down dog". The wrists were my limiter. They were still sore until the middle of the month. I pushed on, doing what I could first on my own with online Yoga sessions, then back in the studio with my Yoga family at Julia's. I have been going several times a week, trying to "catch up" I suppose to my pre-surgery self. Again, I felt like a fish out of water for the first few times. Seems my short, tight muscles just didn't remember..I have carried on until a few days ago, when The Challenge came. Julia announced the 40-Day Challenge based on the idea that anything done 40 days in a row becomes habit..I didn't think much of this until it was announced that there were prizes! at the end, one of which is an outfit at my all time favorite store Lululemon..OK, that was a game changer. I love to think I would do healthy things just to take care of myself but the whole "I need a carrot at the end of the stick" is very much adherent to my personality it seems. So I went home, got out the 40-day Challenge chart and started writing.

My first decision was that I wanted to make this something to DO not NOT DO (double negative here). In other words no RULES (you can't do this, you can't do that), only things I CAN DO..There is a distinction here. I live my life around rules sometimes....You can't do that... You shouldn't eat that..You need to definitely STOP doing that! A very negative habit I have developed to whip my self in proverbial shape...This only serves me to be a driven, unrelenting version of myself, who never quite "gets there" and so is in constant diappointment about "not ever arriving" to that magical place of perfection! Hey Debi-give yourself a break for 40 days here!

Goals for the Challenge:

1. Do Yoga for 40 days straight. Now this sounds like such an easy task since I am retired, what else do I have to do with my life, right? You would think this was a no-brainer. However, H and I travel alot, probably more than I even think, so hmmmm how to deal with this? Aha! I could commit to Yoga on the road, either on my own or a foreign studio, a walk out on the edge of the branch for sure for me. Alot of effort for Lululemon! However, this was doable. It's only 40 days, right? So when I am in the Q, Yoga at my friendly, neighborhood studio each day then on the road, I need to be creative!

2. Eat 2 servings of fruits and vegetable a day. Now this MUST sound idiotic to some...doesn't a full blown triathlete do this anyway? Wrong! I think the opposite is true. When I train alot, I have a mentality that I can eat anything including a huge piece of carrot cake, any kind of chocolate and bars galore..This should substitute for my lack of fiber and vitamins right? Isn't carrot cake a vegetable?? The consciousness of eating 2 servings of actual, real fruit and veges is foreign to me in general. Now H cooks a very healthy dinner every night, thank goodness if not, I would be eating carrot cake and calling it a night each dinner! So apples, oranges, smoothies made with real fruit/veges, kale (wtf is Kale anyway, isn't that a garnish?) and the like, here I come!

3. OK, this is the toughest one for me: Meditate for 10 minutes- 2 times a day for 40 days. I know full well that meditation improves health, sleep, mental alertness, all that good stuff. My best intentions have gotten me nowhere. Maybe Lululemon will get me there! Does anyone know how long 10 minutes is when just sitting there??? Try feels like an eternity to me. I decided to do said meditating right when I wake up and as I go to sleep. I have always had sleep issues as a adult and listening to meditation tapes occasionally, I know this does put me out almost immediately! How hard could 20 minutes out of my busy, self driven day could it be? Ha-ha snort!

4. Two positive affirmations 2 times a day for 40 days. Now this may seem like a walk in the park too, and it is really (takes less than 45 seconds) but again habit is the key. So if it is on a list, I will remember to do it, right?

I have these things on my Iphone/Ipad combo as a "daily task" so my phone reminds me if I "forget". I have the list on my board right in front of my computer. I would have to be asleep not to see/hear the cues..My plan is to blog as much as possible about my journey (maybe I should have put that on the list), which ends April 2nd, one of my daughter's birthdays. A good way to keep track..reach the goal.

Then there is the "The Chart" (compliments of Julia):

With real life stickers and all!! Just like kindergarten-awesome! Brings back memories but I am a chart person so it works for me..

Day 1-2:

First days of meditation went OK. The first day I looked at my watch when I thought it was 10 minutes and it had only been 4 minutes-this is torture! How people meditate for 1 week or a month somewhere is totally and utterly beyond me!! Yesterday it went better, I am experimenting with guided meditations, just music and eventually just a candle and me..or not..

Yoga has been the easy part. There was a moment yesterday in the afternoon that I was tired!! So on any other day, I would have skipped Yoga but alas I dragged my ass to the studio, knowing I would be glad eventually. Afterwards, I did feel better..Yoga is like feel sleepy, tired at the beginning of a class and by the end, you are a rock star!! I can tell already, I will have to fight the urge to try and do deeper, better, more pretzel like poses each time. Not that this is a bad thing, but when it runs across my brain, it sounds like What's wrong with you! You have been doing Yoga a year and you still can't do that? Try harder!! A sample of my self defeating thoughts that are not present all the time.. They do take up residence when I have the thought that I am so average!! I'll have to find a way to relax and let Yoga (life) happen naturally..this is my challenge!

Fruits and veges...well, so far, so good. I find if I make a smoothie with all fresh stuff, I get my daily dose and more of greens, reds, yellows, orange, etc. foods in my day. Plus the healthy dinners and I am there!

Affirmations...another so far easy one. It's not like I have to believe this stuff yet, right? I believe in myself and such, are not my first thoughts in the day (ever) so this is new to me and yet doable..

OK, so I got stars on Days 1 and 2. I am on Day 3 right now and already managed to meditate and not look at the clock until 10 minutes this AM!! Yee-ha!!