Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Race - part one

Let me just state that hanging around the Ironman village is always a bit intimidating, but it was really intimidating in Brazil. While the race field is smaller than Ironman Florida's, it seems to be comprised mainly of young, foreign men who appear to have done all of their training in the Alps. Rick and I were forced to buy ridiculously overpriced new race gear as our luggage was missing in action - with no word on when or if it would arrive in time for race day. did. So, now I have more gear. I guess we can always use another pair of trishorts, right?

In Brazil, our bikes were racked in a mixtures of ages and male/female (unlike Florida - which was divided by age & sex). I was raced right near Rick, Lynn, Mark, Som, Karen & Shelley. We set-up our bikes and our gear bags - and realized race day was almost upon us.

I had a lot of trouble sleeping for the three days prior to race day. This is very unusual for me. I'm typically a great sleeper.I think it was a combination of nerves, stress and travel that kept me up at night. I don't know exactly why, but my confidence level just wasn't where it was for Ironman Florida.

Anyway, race morning was, as always a blur. We took the 5:00 a.m. shuttle to the race site. While that gave us 2 hours to prepare, it's amazing how quickly that time flies by between body marking, tire pumping, body gliding and bathroom breaks. At 6:30 a.m. Rick and I headed to the swim start. Of course, my heart was racing at this time. But, the water looked relatively smooth so I was expecting a "Florida kind of swim." Never judge a book by its cover or water by how smooth it may appear!

The first leg of the first loop of the swim felt great. After a few moments of hyperventilating, I setttled into a steady pace. It was easy to spot the huge buoy so I just kept moving towards it. I even thought that I might shave some time from my Florida swim time.

Until I turned back to the shore.

It seemed to take a much longer time to get back there - and I had a kayaker yelling at me in Portuguese to "go left." But, I knew I needed to go right. However, I didn't speak his language so I was forced to veer off course - and get pushed further left by what I realized was a strong current.

I made it through the first loop, waved to Derik and Anita, grabbed a cup of water to rinse out the salt water, and headed back out. I was still feeling pretty happy since the second loop was supposed to be shorter than the first (we were swimming in an M shape course).

I settled back in to a rhythm of taking 15 strokes followed by a quick sight. Strangely, I found that every time I sighted, I wasn't any closer to the second big buoy. In fact, I was being pushed far to the right of it - and the waves were picking up. We were dealing with a very strong current by now - as well as wind-whipped waves.
Despite all of this, I remained calm. I just kept trying to get to that buoy.

The trip back into shore was even more difficult than the first one. We were swimming against the current and I was getting pretty tired of being in the water. Finally, after well over 2 hours, I made it in. I knew I had been out there for awhile, but I had no idea that I was past the two hour mark. That was a blow to my typical race-day spunkiness. I realized that any notion of a PR was unlikely due to such a long swim. I decided I would just go out there and enjoy the rest of the day.

Later on, I learned that everyone had struggled with the swim. Both Rick and Karen got seasick (and threw up) from the waves. The defending champion had a terrible swim (for him) and eventually dropped out of the race completely.

Coming up: the bike and the run (aka: "This is a flat course?")


A picture of beautiful Brazil - including the hilly part of the run.

More details and pictures coming later.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In less than 12 hours...

I will be be heading out on the swim with my training buddies somewhere nearby. Whew....

I thought that I might be a little less nervous for my second Ironman race, but that's not the case. The nerves are here, but I have a feeling I'll settle down once I get to the first buoy. By the way, there are only four buoys in the whole 2.4 miles for us to circle. That's a bit unusual, but I'm sure the race organizers know what they're doing.

Unlike Florida, we were unable to preview the bike course. But, I'm sure I'll have plenty of other triathletes to follow. However, just like Florida, I felt like a complete rock star when it came time to check in our bikes and bags. This Ironman race has tons of volunteers - and they are all amazingly nice & helpful. Would you believe I'm in the same bike rack area as Rick, Mark, Lynn, Karen & Shelley?

I'd like to write more, but our wake-up call is at 3:45 a.m. I think it's time for bed. Yes - it's 7:21 p.m. (6:21 p.m. Virginia time).

p.s. I do have pictures, which I'll upload later - including Mark in his new pink bike helmet....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We are in Miami...

But we should be in Brazil by now. Heavy sigh.

Issue #1) We board the flight to Miami only to have our ears nearly blown out when they closed the doors. Cabin pressure issues. We must get off the plane and wait....and wait....and wait. Flight #1 cancelled.
Guess what? No more flights to Miami earlier enough to make our connection to Brazil. We all decided it's best to get to Miami anyway, and hope for a later flight.

Issue #2) Storm delays. We end up circling around Atlanta on our new flight for awhile. When we finally land, we learn (not surprisingly) that our (second) flight to Miami is delayed. Then, it's cancelled. Yup - more mechanical issues.
Meanwhile, we learn that we have been re-booked on a Wednesday evening flight from Miami to Brazil (with the exception of Derik and Lynn - no room left on the plane for them - can you believe it?)

Karen wisely books rooms for all of us in Miami.

Miracle #1) Upon arrival in Miami (at 1:30 a.m.), we find our luggage. It made it!! (Our bikes are on another flight bound for Brazil - at least we think they are).

Issue #3) As the shuttle drives us to our hotel, we learn that we do not have hotel rooms. They booked them for Wednesday night, not Tuesday. After much confusion (and driving around aimlessly in a van), we finally find another place to stay. Again - more confusion with the rooms. We do manage to get three rooms out of it, so everyone gets a bed.

At 4:00 a.m., we finally fall asleep.

Mind you, we've been traveling for 16 hours - and we are only in Miami.

Miracle #2) Lynn & Derik manage to get on an earlier flight to Brazil. Major sigh of relief as they were not on any flights as of bedtime last night.

As of 11:12 a.m. on Wednesday, we think Mark is in Brazil, our bikes are in Brazil, Lynn & Derik are flying to Brazil, while the rest of us (me, Rick, Jeff, Denise, CJ, Anita, Karen, Shawn, Shelley, & Lisa) are waiting for our 9:20 p.m. flight tonight. And Som is still in Richmond - but will probably get to Brazil before us.

Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

And we are (almost) off...

The majority of the IM Brazil team leaves Richmond today @ 2:25, bound first for Miami. We leave Miami tonight for an overnight flight to Brazil. We should be in Florianopolis sometime before noon on Wednesday. I am packing my laptop and digital camera. My plan is to provide updates on what we are up to - as long as the technology cooperates. Keep your fingers crossed!

And for those of you who don't know, we all plan to wear our Trigirl running skirts on the marathon. This includes team members who tend to avoid skirts, including: Mark, Rick, Jeff, Tim, Som, Karen and Shelley - and hopefully, CJ. Lynn and I love our skirts, so it won't quite as exciting to see us in them.

And here are some words of motivation from Anna Quindlen. It's writing like this that makes me realize, despite my fears, I am so excited to be heading to Brazil.

But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Brick

Today was my last brick workout before Brazil....

How did this race get here so quickly?

At this moment, I am comfortably resting in my room at the Hotel Roanoke. No, I haven't freaked out and run away to Roanoke in a panic. I have a meeting here tomorrow morning. Yup - me and a bunch of reading specialists will be talkin' literacy.

Anyway, I was a little worried that my final brick would be a rainy one. But, the weather cooperated - and cleared up as I began my 30-miler. It felt soooo nice to keep the ride to 30 miles.

30 is such a reasonable number of miles to cycle. It's especially pleasing when the cycling mileage is in the double-digit range with nothing higher than a 5 or 6 in the tens place (just making sure you all still understand first grade math concepts).

I rode part of my 30-miler with a lady who is training for Eagleman. What a treat to meet a new, cool triathlete out there at WC!

After my ride, I hit the roads for one 6-mile loop. My legs felt pretty heavy, which I normally shake off after a mile or two. But not today. My legs just never felt "peppy." Let's hope they get their spunk back by next weekend.

But even if they don't - I'm going to South America!

My sister, in a recent email, described this trip as a "trip of a lifetime." She's right. Of course I want to have a good race (for me), but I also need to keep it in perspective. I'm going to approach this whole experience with a giant smile on my race.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Weekend workouts

We are now less than two weeks away from IM Brazil.

In 8 days, we fly to Florianopolis.

In 6 days, we pack our bikes.

My "to-do" list is still in process, but I should have it ready to go by the end of today.

But, enough about those logistical details, let's focus on the workouts.

Last week, Karen mentioned something about doing a 3-mile swim. What? "But we only swim 2.4 miles," I outwardly whined to anyone who would listen. No one listened.

So, there I was late Friday afternoon - swimming for about half a day (okay, maybe not quite that long). Coach Mark and I swam back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...

It wasn't pretty and I wasn't smiling the whole time - but I did knock out my longest swim ever.

On Saturday, I was unable to join my peeps at the Cap to Cap ride due to a small work conflict (known as graduation ceremony #1 of the weekend). I did pack my car on Friday night with my bike, cycling gear, running gear & nutrition, so I was able to get to West Creek by 11:30ish - just in time to watch Mark and Rick finish their workout.

I was jealous that they were finished - but what could I do?

Some kind of strange weather system seemed to roll in right as I began my ride. It was cloudy and windy - and altogether kinda cold and eerie. I definitely did not dress appropriately - and was actually cold for most of the ride.

I focused on a few tidbits of cycling advice I picked up from stud cyclists Mark, Cyndi and Shelly. Cyndi and Shelly both talked about how they focus on making themselves "small & aero" on the bike. Cyndi talked about envisioning yourself traveling through a little hole in the wind. Rather than fighting the wind, you try to travel with it. Mark mentioned to me how he gets into a rhythm and just rides on.

I tried all those things - and I also really focused on staying as relaxed as possible to avoid muscle pains in my shoulders. As per the instructions of the coach, I definitely took it easy for the first 20 miles.

All things considered, it was a decent ride.

After the ride, I completed the brick with a 6-mile run over the rolling hills of WC.

One long swim and one medium brick accomplished.

Monday, May 5, 2008

White Lake

In case you didn't know, a half-ironman race is hard. White Lake was a yummy little reminder of this.

A half-ironman race is also a great learning experience - every single time. What did I learn this time? Let's see....

1. As much as I would like to draft during the swim, I am much better off starting the back...breathing calmly. I tried to start mid-pack in the hopes of catching a draft, and it simply freaked me out. In Brazil, I'm starting in the back. Plain & simple.

2. I still have a lot to learn about cycling. Luckily, I was able to ride with Sharon, Molly, Charlotte and Jill for the majority of the 56-miler. It sure was nice to know my buddies were always near me (but not too near - we didn't draft). I am just beginning to "get" how to ride in the aero position AND engage my legs and core properly. I figure this is going to be a long learning process, so I'll just keep plugging away.
For the first time in a race, I had to contend with stomach cramps for about 20 miles. I was tempted not to drink my water or perpetuem, but I forced it down. I figured it probably couldn't make me feel worse. And, lo and behold, the cramps eventually went away.

3. Despite the first run in hot weather, I managed to hold it together pretty well. The mile markers were a little unpredictable, so I wasn't sure if my pace was accurate. I drank water or heed at every stop - and even ate a few of the Hammer bars. I will definitely be ordering some of the Hammer bars to eat on the bike in Brazil.

4. I love my teammates. As Deanna B mentioned in her blog, they were everywhere. It was awesome. Big thanks to Shelly and Derek D for meeting me at the finish line - ready to catch me. Hugs to both of you!

5. After the race, I was relaxing in the RTC tent (stocked with all kinds of treats - courtesy of Fave) with Rick, Greg-roach and Fave. Fave summed it up best when she said, "It's really the training that I love." I completely agree. I enter races to keep me honest with my training. While it's very satisfying to finish a tough race, I draw more satisfaction from training with such cool people.

6. You really can do more than you think you can. Rick and I realized in the span of 13 days, we ran the Boston marathon, completed a century ride and finished a half-ironman. No wonder I've been so hungry lately....

I think I'm ready for the Brazil taper...