Sunday, August 31, 2008

What's Next?

So, I have put Ironman behind me, for now. Next year's IM Canada was accepting on-line registration for the first time since I've been involved in the sport. The race usually sells out in 1 day to those who live in or are visiting Penticton, but not this year. I have to admit, I did think about signing up, but not for long. I am going to stick to my plan of losing weight, getting faster, and doing some shorter races.

I returned to work last week. This means I have less time to work out, but it also means a return to a structured schedule and a routine. I like routine. I have been running more frequently, 4-5 times a week. My plan is to run at least 4 days a week, swim twice, weights twice, yoga once, and cycle when I feel like it.

I will be doing the 1.2 mile swim as part of a relay team at the San Diego Triathlon Challenge on October 26th. This triathlon is the main fundraising event for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and is my favorite day of the year! I am doing the swim so I can spend the rest of the day cheering on athletes and soaking up all the inspiration I can. Since I started doing triathlons 3 years ago my goal has always been to survive the swim. At Vineman this year, I pushed a little harder when I was swimming with the current. I took 20 minutes off my previous IM swim time, and felt good coming out of the water. So I think I need to revise my goal for the swim. Since I will only be doing the swim at the SDTC I can experiment with swimming a little harder. I will have a time goal closer to race day. For now, though, I have a fundraising goal of $3500. If you haven't already done so, please consider making a donation today. Thanks!

I'm not signed up for any other races in 2008, but I am considering the following: Manhattan Beach 10k on Oct. 4th, Bonelli Olympic distance triathlon on Oct. 5th, and Santa Barbara Half Marathon on Nov. 1st. I am registered for 2 races next year: Carlsbad Half Marathon on Jan. 25th and California 70.3 triathlon on April 4th. This should be enough to keep me honest.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


It's unofficial because I missed the cut-off time on the run, but I DID complete the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile swim in just over 17 hours.

The day started off great. The Russian River was 74 degrees (which made it a wetsuit legal race) and very calm. I finished in 1:32! A PR of over 20 minutes! The first loop of the bike was great. I was happy and I felt strong. The second loop was TOUGH. The temperatures climbed to 97, and I felt it. I took more time at the aid stations. Volunteers poured water over my body to help cool me down. I was drinking a lot of fluid - Heed/Carbo Pro and water, but I did not eat very much solid food. I was slowing down, but felt okay until mile 90. I got off my bike at the last aid station and immediately felt dizzy. I sat down on a chair in the shade while a volunteer poured cold water on me. I felt better and continued on. 10 miles later I hit Chalk Hill (the biggest on the course) for the second time. About half way up, my quads cramped up and I had to get off my bike. Again, I became dizzy. I found some shade, stretched out a bit, and cooled down. Another rider stopped to make sure I was okay and waited with me until I started moving again. I walked up the remainder of the hill. A first for me.

The run course is 3 loops and is filled with lots of hills. And it was still hot. The first 8+ miles took me 2:25. You had to start your 3rd loop by 9pm in order to continue, and I knew I would not make this cut off. I also knew that I would continue to run even if they did take my chip. 3 of my teammates were in the same boat. We ran together, which was great. It was dark and lonely out there on that last loop. Several of the volunteers stayed out even though the course was officially closed. Hank was stationed at the turn around point. They took the cone away, so he put out a little lamp for us to run around. We thought we were the last runners, and Hank followed us in his car, giving us light and moral support. Hank is the Honored Teammate for the Santa Rosa team. He was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2003. Last year he was on the course until 1am, walking with a TNT participant. He followed us until we were about a half mile from the finish line, and then he went back to his post at the turn around point because we saw at least 3 more runners still on the course. He went back to support them. Amazing!

I know I said this last year, but I think I'm done with the Iron distance. I'll stick to more reasonable 70.3 races.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


So, my shot at redemtion is just a few days away. I have been a mentor for this year's Ironteam with Team in Training. This is their A race. I had been planning to go up and cheer the team on. Now I will be racing with them. Coach Paul first mentioned this possibility in the airport the day after IM Coeur d'Alene. I dismissed the idea at first, but then it grew on me. I am already trained, I was traveling up there anyway, it made sense. And it's close enough for my brother Mike to come cheer me on :)

The course is open for 16 hours. CDA was open for 17, and last year I finished in 16:40. So besides NOT DNFing again, I have to take 40 minutes off my time. This is good ... I like a challenge. How will I do it?

  • I should be able to take 10 - 15 minutes off my swim time. The water will be warm and calm, and the river is not very wide. I can't get too far off course!
  • The bike is flatter than CDA and wind is rarely a factor. I plan to carry all nutrition with me so I don't have to stop and dig through a Special needs bag. And I WILL NOT have any stomach troubles. I should be able to take 20 - 30 minutes off my bike time.
  • I am hoping to take 30 minutes off of my run time. I have been doing a 6 min run/1 min walk in training. This way I should be able to run more than I did last year.

Best case scenario, I finish in 15:25. And I do have some wiggle room should anything go wrong. To make it to the finish line I need to stay in the moment and focused on the task at hand. And so I will.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What went wrong?

I lost sleep for a few nights thinking about this question, and then I moved on with my life. I know that the DNF is not the end of the world, and I am now able to tell people about it without crying. I am returning to the question now because I am going to give Ironman another try in just a few weeks, and I certainly don't want a repeat performance! When I was out on the bike in Coeur d'Alene, I thought I would NEVER do this again, when I missed the bike cut off, well meaning volunteers asked if I had another Ironman on the schedule for this year. I looked at them like they had 3 heads and said NO! One, I would never want to do more than 1 in a year, and 2 they sell out a year in advance, so I couldn't just pick a new race now. (Or could I? More on this later.)

Anywho, on to the race report.

We arrived in Coeur d'Alene early Thursday afternoon, checked into the hotel, got lunch, and picked up our race stuff. I was feeling good and not nearly as nervous as last year. Friday morning we swam in the lake. It was cold but not unbearable. I think the water temperature was up to about 56* by this point. I wore a rash guard underneath my wetsuit, booties and a skull cap. After the initial shock and after my hands went numb, I was fine. After the swim, we rode our bikes for an hour on the run course just to make sure the bike is in good working order and to loosen the legs up a bit. Check and check.

Saturday morning we swam again. The water was a little warmer so I ditched the rash guard. To simulate race day, we got in and got use the water, swam a few strokes, and then got out to "wait for the gun", then we ran in and started swimming right away. I felt good. The water was much calmer than last year, and I could deal with the water temps. We did a quick, easy run after the swim, and then it was on to the free pancake breakfast in the park. After that, we had to get our T1 and T2 bags and our bikes checked in. It sounds like we should have had lots of free time but not so much. I managed to find time for a turkey sandwich in between the pancake breakfast and gear drop off but didn't find time for a nap like I had hoped.

At dinner Saturday evening, my stomach was a little "off" -- nothing on the menu appealed to me, but I knew I had to eat something. I settled on plain grilled chicken (not on the menu) and mashed potatoes (yum!). We were back to the hotel in time for the fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies. I was in bed by 8:30 - 9:00 and asleep shortly after. I woke up once or twice to pee but slept through the thunderstorm. So I'd say I got a good night's sleep :)

A few clouds lingered, but it looked the weather would be perfect. I had my ususal coffee, oatmeal, toast and banana. My stomach seemed fine, except for the standard pre-race jitters. My timing was not great once we got to the race site. I bypassed the bodymarkers because I wanted to put my bottles (which were heavy) on my bike and drop off my special needs bags. The area was very crowded, and I was getting annoyed. I ended up going through the most crowded section 3 times -- not a good expenditure of energy. I had lost most of my friends by then, but Karen and I stuck together. If it wasn't for her, I might of had a major break down. We got in the lake to warm up, and I got hit in the face. Ironman swims are notorious for physical contact. But in the warm up, when I'm just standing there? Really? This woman jumped in and started swimming and just hit me in the face. The good news is that the temperature was reported to be 59.5. I think they said this so we good still wear our booties, which are legal for temps under 60.
The Swim
The gun went off, and I went to work. Well, I waited a few seconds to let all the aggro swimmers go first, and then I got to work. I felt good. I was able to draft off others a little bit while avoiding getting kicked or punched. The first loop was uneventful. The water was a little choppier on the 2nd loop. At one point I swallowed some water, stopped to cough, and thought I might throw up. I did not. I kept swimming. I finished the swim 3 minutes faster than last year. I was happy to be finished but was disappointed with my time. The conditions were not as bad as last year, and I thought I had a better swim than that.

My BFF was volunteering the women's change tent (they wouldn't let her in the men's!) and she helped me get ready for the bike. It was awesome. I let other volunteers slather me with sunscreen, hit the port-a-potty (I tried several times to pee while swimming, but couldn't - I think I need to have my feet on the ground. TMI? sorry), and then I was off.

The Bike
On the first corner out of T1 I saw Laurie's aunt. She recognized me and called me by name. I was touched. Now I can't even remember her name. Jeez! I rode through town, toward the CDA lake loop, watching the riders coming toward me, looking for my friends, and trying to figure out how far behind I was. People were cheering and saying nice things, but I didn't want to hear it. I didn't feel like I deserved their praise. I don't know where these feelings came from. I missed a turn. It wasn't a big deal, and I was very soon back on course. When I looped back around and saw where I went wrong, I thought how in the hell did I miss that? I went through about 6 cones. At one point here, still in town, I saw a car waiting to get across the road, and I thought, "just go ahead and hit me and put me out of my mysery." I did not even know that I was miserable until that thought popped into my head. I probably wasn't even 10 miles into the ride, and I was thinking like this? It's gonna be a loooong day.

It wasn't all bad. At about mile 20, I got passed by the pro men. For a spilt second, I was riding with the pros. How many amature athletes can say that? Mike Lovoto said, "good work" as he passed me going up a short, but steep hill. I then turned the corner, and a guy was using a traffic cone as a magaphone and yelled, "charging up the hill ..." (which clearly I was not, especially in comparison to my new friend Mike who just flew by him). I finished the guy's statement with "Trish Ray from Hermosa Beach, California!" He said something about another crazy Californian :) and I continued on my way.

I don't know exactly when it began, but at some point I became aware of gastrointestinal troubles, to put it politely. More crudely, I was afraid of exploding diarrhea, and to make matters worse I was wearing these shorts
This was only my second time wearing these shorts, and I wasn't sure where the light blue ended and the black began. Exploding diarrhea would be bad, exploding diarrhea in light blue shorts would be devasting. A few weeks prior I had a dream where I was running in a downtown area and desperately searching for a bathroom. I had crapped myself (in running shorts) and was looking for a place to clean up. A bit of foreshadowing, I thought, as I wondered if I would make it to the next porta-potty. I stopped at several but never experienced any relief. I was drinking and/or eating every 15 minutes, as I had planned, but I wasn't taking in very much. And I was slowing down. In the end I only drank 3.5 of my planned 8 bottles.

At mile 90 I knew that it was a very real possibility that I would not make the cut off. I thought about stopping. I thought about riding in easy, knowing that I would be done for the day. But I didn't. I rode as hard as I could. Once I got through the hills, I was hit with a head wind. Volunteers were tearing down their aid stations. They still offered food, drink, and encouragment - they knew it was going to be a close call. I could barely look at them, ashamed at my failure, again feeling undeserving of their kindness. But still I fought on, and I thought I had made it. I was surprised and devasted when the man asked for my chip.

Maria was there waiting for me, thank God. We cried. I got my stuff, and we went to cheer on our friends as well as strangers, and I ate a big plate of french fries :)

Next up, Full Vineman on August 2nd! More to come.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

nice hair cut

So, I got my hair cut (pretty short) after school last Wednesday before leaving for Idaho on Thursday. When I returned to work yesterday, everybody was eager to hear about my race. I would tell them the bad news, and after the usual and well meaning "oh, that's too bad," "you should be proud for trying," type of comments, almost everybody ended with, "I like your hair" or "your hair looks cute." At least I got that going for me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Two Thirds

Well, my day did not go quite as I had planned .... my first DNF (did not finish). Except for a bruised ego, I'm fine. My stomach was doing flips for most of the bike ride, and I just couldn't take in enough nutrition. I didn't quit, even though I did think about it. At about mile 80, I knew it was going to be close, but I pushed and rode as hard as I could. I thought I had made it, handed my bike off to a volunteer, and was heading towards the change tent. That's when a man asked for my timing chip. I asked what time it was, he said he was sorry but that I had missed it by a minute or two. He never did tell me what time it was.

I am disappointed and sad. It was a tough ride home today -- the plane was filled with athletes in their finisher's t-shirts. But Horizon Air has free beer. That helped :)

Thanks for your support and concern. I'll write more later.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ready, Set, Go!

I know I need to write more, but I've got lots to do before my flight tomorrow morning at 9:30. Besides packing, I have to get my hair cut -- gotta look good for that finish line photo :) Yes, I'll have a hat on, but lately I've been sprouting wings.

Anyway, I took antibiotics a couple of weeks ago and have been feeling pretty good. My biggest worry now is the swim. The water in Lake Coeur d'Alene has been very cold. Last week it was 52* but today the temp was up to 56*. Last year I think it was in the low 60s. I bought a new wet suit after Wildflower, and last week I picked up some booties and a neoprene skull cup and bigger goggles, all in hopes that I don't freeze to death.

Last year I finished in 16:40. This year my goal is 15:45. My number is 2212. On race day, look for a link to Athlete Tracker under the "coverage" tab of the event on