Sunday, September 30, 2007

By Popular Demand...

I was asked to include my race report from Arizona Ironman 2006. I don't know if there is anything that I wrote about that others are just waiting in anxious anticipation for. I hope that it at least provides entertainment.

I made it to the FINISH LINE!

I want to thank everyone who sent me messages of encouragement last week as I was getting ready for Ironman Arizona. Your quotes, prayers, and thoughts of you logging on to helped get me through some of long and mind-numbing parts of the course as well as the physically tough ones as well.

When I arrived in Phoenix on Friday, I was greeted by my wonderful friend Cathy Breig at the airport who traveled out to see me race and to be a volunteer on the run course. We got checked in at the hotel and made our way to find some lunch and then to go get checked in at the Athlete Village. I proceeded to sign my life away on the waiver, get weighed in, tagged with a wrist band, and was given explicit details about all of my gear bags, bike check-in, my timing chip, and my black swim cap with my race number written on it in black permanent marker by one of the helpful and very comical volunteers named Don. I then got suckered in to pre ordering race photos and spent an amount of money that I will not reveal to my husband on commemorative race clothing and souvenirs. Heck, how often do you do one of these things—Live BIG! I ran into one of the members of the gym where I teach my indoor cycling classes and he stopped in town on the way home from a business trip to see friends from the local Houston Racing Triathlon Club do the race and he said that he had my race number down and he would be cheering for me. I also saw someone that I had been coaching last year to get them started on their Ironman journey and he admitted that he was very nervous. I told him that it would be fine and that he should enjoy the experience. I talked to my coach and set a meeting time for the next morning and then went to the mandatory race meeting to learn all of the finer details of the race. I had a hard time sleeping that night as I was awoken by a bad dream that I did not have my wetsuit on and everyone was walking toward the start of the swim and then my Dad approaches me and tells me that he found out that they had one race spot left and he decided to sign up and do the race with me. I then woke up as I was frantically looking for a wetsuit and a bike for him to use. That was 1:30 am and I laid in bed for another 90 minutes trying to get back to sleep with no success, so I got up and started getting my gear in order.

After some breakfast and setting my gear by all of my gear bags, I did a double check that anything that I would need on the bike was in my Swim to Bike Gear Bag, and anything I would need on the run was in my Bike to Run Gear Bag, and that my Bike Special Needs Bag and my Run Special Needs Bag had food and other items that I would need at the 70 mile and 15 mile marks respectively. Cathy had a volunteer meeting at 9:00 am and I had a practice swim in Tempe Town Lake at 9:00 am. The water was a chilly 65 degrees and I was glad I had my wetsuit on. I did some easy swimming and swam out towards the start line to get a good look at the buoy line down to the first turn a mile away. After crawling out of the water, I was met by my coach, Anthony “Woofie” Humpage, and we went over my strategy for the next day which was just to finish and to finish strong. If I was going to race, then I needed to sign up for another race. We went over details of importance on the bike course and how to avoid some trouble spots that could lead to some flat tires. After getting things squared away, Cathy and I went to lunch and to run those last minute errands for things that I needed such as Velcro, Salt and Vinegar Chips for my Special Needs Bags, a Tic-Tac box to empty out and put salt tablets in and Velcro to my bike for easy access, Gatorade, and rubber bands. If anyone needs rubber bands, I have plenty that you can have. A 0.99 cent bag at Big Lots could last a small office for a year! I got my bike and gear bags and headed back to the Athlete Village for bike check in. After dropping off my stuff, we picked up some dinner at Whole Foods and had a nice picnic around the pool at the hotel. We watched Best In Show, a goofy movie about people who enter their dogs in dog shows to take my mind off of the race and then I collapsed into a nice dream-free sleep.

On Race Day I was up at 4:00 am and starting to get my double breakfast smoothie ready and to get my race clothing on. I loaded up all of the stuff that I would need for the race that I did not drop off the day before and started mixing up my energy gels and energy drinks with protein in them for on the bike. We drove out to the Athlete Village and I made the first of many trips to a Port-o-Can on the way to get my race numbers marked on my arms and my age put on my leg. With 2000 other athletes, I went to my bike and started to load on the bottles, spare tires, CO2 canisters to inflate the tires, food, and electrolyte tablets. After checking the tire pressure on my wheels, it was one more trip to the Port-o-can before I pulled on my wetsuit and made my way over the timing mat to activate my timing chip that I was wearing around my ankle.

At the dock where we were to get into the water, a volunteer was shouting into a bull horn to hurry and jump in or to push the person in front of us in and to swim out to the start line. The cold water was a little shocking as it seeped in through the zipper on the back, but soon it was warmed up to body temp. Before I had hit the water I had a couple of hits of a product called Rescue Remedy that my sports chiropractic doc had given me to help reduce stress. In the water I was pretty calm as I positioned myself along the line of buoys out to the first turn. I heard the announcer say that there were triathletes there from all 50 states and 30 countries around the world. Nearly 800 of the 2000 racers were doing an Ironman for the first time, and there were 385 women along with the men competing for a spot to go to the famous World Championship race in Kona, Hawaii. After the National Anthem and the gun, we were off and the water started churning like a washing machine.

It is true in a race like this that swimming is a contact sport! People are hitting each other with their arms and hands. Feet and legs are kicking other people in the head, torso, and arms. People are crawling over each other to get to the next buoy in the water. If you notice from the picture, we were swimming right into the sunlight so it made things hard to see with the light reflecting off the water. The picture shows how a lot of people were holding close to the shore, but my strategy was to stay at the bottom near the boats because that is where the buoy line was. If I had stayed to the shore then I would have had to swim further north to get to left turn and to start heading back. Once I slugged it out with all of the other people to get to the first turn, then the course headed north for 200 yds. It was still congested but then after the next turn to head back west and towards the swim exit, I found some “clean” water and I was able to really get some good swimming in. With the sun at my back, it was easier to see the buoys in the water and I continued to swim directly to them. Each one I passed I was only 3 to 10 feet away from the line. Along the entire course there were people in kayaks, jet skis, and boats in case someone needed assistance. I later saw in a video of the swim that one of the kayaker was capsized by one of the athletes trying to crawl up on top of the kayak to get out of the water. I am very thankful that I am a good swimmer! I felt very relaxed in the water and was able to keep a good pace. As I swam under the bridges towards the buoy that I would make one last turn to the left at to head back to the stairs, I decided that I needed to “take care of things” if you get my drift so that I did not have to wait in line at the port-o-cans in the transition area. That, I am afraid, is one of the less desirable aspects of the sport. After 2.4 miles of swimming, I made it to the stairs to climb out of the water and there were volunteers helping us up out of the water. I unzipped the wetsuit and then there were a barrage of volunteers forcing triathletes to the ground and peeling their wetsuits off of them as quickly as possible and getting them back up and pushing them off to the transition area.

I saw the time clock and I was not really pleased with my time, but what I had not realized was that the clock was started 15 minutes before our start for the Pro Racers. As I ran into the transition area, I ran over the timing mat that beeped as it picked up my timing chip and then I dashed to the rows and rows of gear bags to find my stuff to get on the bike. Volunteers were calling out people’s race numbers and they had our bags ready as we came running by. There was a men’s and women’s changing tent if you needed to change clothes, but I stayed in my race suit. All I did was dry off my feet, get some socks on, put on my cycling shoes, latch my helmet on, and grab my sun glasses. When I exited the tent two volunteers proceeded to slather sunscreen all over my body as I squeezed down another energy gel and some cold water. When I was shoved out of the area, I ran into the area where the bikes were on racks and started to count the racks like I usually do to find the one where my bike is. To my surprise, the volunteers had my bike ready and waiting for me out in the aisle for me. I grabbed my bike and trotted off to the bike mount line to cross over another timing mat to leave the transition area.

Once on the bike, the plan was that I needed to eat and drink as much as I possibly could in the first two hours and to keep up with my salt intake. I had my inhaler with me in case my asthma kicked in like it had when I was in Phoenix for the Rock n’ Roll Marathon in January or the SOMA Half-Ironman race last October. I proceeded to empty the bottle of Gatorade that was between my handlebars fairly quick and I started in on some water. There were several turns to maneuver, but I was able to find a stretch of road where I had enough time to dig out an Iced Chocolate Mint Clif bar with caffeine and start eating. By mile 12 I was done with 250 calories and 48 oz of fluids and I felt like I was going to burst. Some people get good at taking a foot out of the pedal and “taking care of business” and washing off with some water. I am not good at that skill. So now I am desperately looking out for a bush along the road that is big enough to get behind. I find a good candidate and think to myself that one of my running buddies Emily from Team in Training would be proud of me that I have gotten over the fear of hanging my rear end out for God and everyone to see. So there I am in a median, hunkered down behind an overgrown tumbleweed with car traffic racing by on one side and cyclists zooming by on the other hoping that a race official does not see what I am doing. The funniest look on someone’s face is the look you get when you stand up quickly from behind a bush and you are still pulling your shorts up. So, it was back on the bike and back to the task of eating a drinking. I took a few electrolyte tablets because even though it was pleasant on the bike when I started, it was starting to get warm. Miles 14 to 19 were uphill and into the wind. The Pro racers had been heading back in on the first loop for some time. I had to laugh because their aerodynamic helmets that were tear-drop shaped and pointy at the back made them look like human pterodactyls.

At the turn around we had to roll over a timing mat to make sure that no one had cheated and cut some of the course short and then it was into the second “Feed Station” Volunteers were crowded along the side of the road holding out bottles of Gatorade, water, bananas, energy gel, and oranges. The second aid station was manned by the Phoenix area of the Desert Mountain States Chapter of Team in Training. I got big cheers as I rode through and picked up more water. I had already started drinking my Accelerade with protein to keep the body from wanting to tap into muscle tissue for fuel. I started in on my second Clif bar, this time going for the Peanut Toffee Blitz with more caffeine. Around mile 25 I was desperate for another large tumbleweed, so I was keeping a sharp eye out for all of my options. I ended up having to crawl down in the ditch which is not an easy task in cycling shoes. As I made my way back into town the crowds and the noise grew as I pedaled down Rio Saledo Parkway and past Sun Devil Stadium at Arizona State University. After looping over the bridge and getting jazzed up by all the music and cheering spectators it was out for loop number two on the bike.

This loop was HOT and the wind had changed directions. I continued with my schedule of eating, drinking, and ingesting electrolyte capsules. At a third of the way into my second lap, the Pro racers started passing me by on their third and final loop on the course. It is a humbling feeling when you are working hard and the Pros move by you so quickly it is almost like you are standing still. I was seeing lots of people along the side of the road changing flat tires and I was thankful that so far, I had not succumb to that fate. Along the course, motorcycles were carrying race officials looking out for rule violators. There was a very sophisticated system where if you were in violation of a rule, you were either shown a yellow paper plate and your race number was taken down or you were shown a red paper plate and told to go to the penalty tent and sit out for four minutes. I did see people in the Penalty Tent, but I follow the rules so I never had to have a paper plate flashed at me. At mile 64 we had an area where race volunteers were handing out the Bike Special Needs Bags. I had packed mine with extra energy gel, a bag of the Salt and Vinegar chips and other necessities. I was always on the lookout for big bushes and tumbleweeds and by the end of the second loop I had consumed 168 oz. of fluids, 1090 calories of food, and 7 electrolyte capsules. At Rio Saledo Parkway, I saw my dad and caught him off guard with his camera. He was able to get some pictures once I looped around over the bridges and started on my third loop of the bike course. Once again, the crowds and the music boosted my spirits at mile 75 and I knew that I was going to be able to make it. I determined that my next stop would be at a Feed Zone rather than a tumble weed so that I could get some more sunscreen.

The third loop on the bike was much the same as the last two, but now there were fewer people out on the course. There was a thin haze of cloud cover that helped to take the edge off of the heat, but I continued with my plan for hydration and nutrition. I am not sure if it was the heat or just a coping mechanism, but I started singing songs from Sesame Street to pass the time. On the way back in, I made my second pass by Dave, Race Number 984, who was riding one of those collapsible folding bikes, with a pair of surf jams, a t-shirt, a flower lei, and flip flops on. The first time I passed him, he was pedaling bare foot and the cow bell attached under his seat was ringing away. Many of the volunteers on the bike course were members of the local Native American Indian tribes and they did a terrific job of traffic control and helping us out. The last loop over the bridge and back to the transition area was very exciting with all of the cheering crowds. 112 miles, 240 oz of fluids, 1290 calories of fuel, and 15 electrolyte capsules later, I was going to see if I had prepared well for the run. As the route brought us back in, the volunteers were there to take our bikes once we got off of them to take them back to the racks. What a treat! I am so used to having to do that myself.

The timing map beeped as we ran into the area with the gear bags and volunteers where shouting race numbers out to have our bags ready when we came by. In the change tent, it was much faster this time as I slipped on my running shoes with the elastic laces, dumped a cup of ice down the front of my race top, grabbed my hat and fuel belt and dashed out the door and ran past the cheering spectators and on to the 26.2 mile run course. My friend Cathy was right at the start of the run course under the Mills Ave. Bridge and she gave me a big hug and then shouted out to the crowds to say “Go Elizabeth!”, which they did and started cheering loudly. The echo under the bridge made it sound really loud. It was so very motivating that I started to cry and then was struck by the thought that I had done good with my hydration if I was still able to squeak out a few tears. My Dad was right around the corner to take pictures and the path was lined with spectators and volunteers who were handing out cups of Gatorade, water, fruit, energy gel, and cookies. I had done a great job on the bike of keeping my heart rate around 140 beats per minute and I wanted to continue to do that on the run. I walked on the up hill sections and ran on the down hill and flat sections. I walked through the aid stations when I needed to drink because running and drinking out of a paper cup is not a skill that I am very good at. It was HOT and the clouds that had been out were now gone. All along the run route were signs that people had made the day before to motivate the athletes. I had made one for myself to remember that I was doing this race for Chad, Eve, and John my Honored Teammates and especially in memory of my Mom who would have been very concerned about me, but very proud. I would see that sign on each loop of the run to keep me going. I continued to keep track of my salt/electrolyte intake as well as my intake of amino acid compound to keep my muscles from being used for energy for the body. I was glad that I was so diligent in doing this because now I was seeing strong men reduced to throwing up and passing out along the side of the course. I was glad that I could run and run as fast as I could, away from the terrible sound of miserable people. The volunteers were handing out cold, water soaked sponges that were great for wringing out over the head, stuffing down the front of back of the race top and using it to wipe off the sweat and grime on your face, neck, and arms. I was doing a good job of keeping my heart rate down, but the running was getting the digestive track moving. That meant more port-o-can stops and I tried to make them as quick as I could because it was so hot inside of them. I passed by the race venue again since each loop of the run was like a figure eight. I saw my buddy Cathy again and people were cheering and commenting on my great smile. I was just so happy that I was running! I saw my coach for the first time and he was asking me how I felt and if I had my inhaler. He said I looked good and to take it easy when I needed to. As I headed out the other direction to run around Tempe Town Lake, there were more motivational signs and the aid stations had some great music playing. I had Van Halen’s song “Running with the Devil” and A Flock of Seagull’s song “And I Ran” literally running through my head for most of the first and second loop. There were more timing mats to run over to check where you were on the course and that you did not cut part of the course. After walking up a steep hill to get back to the Mills Ave. Bridge, Ford had a Hoopla Station and their Motivational Mile with music, a mist arch to run through to cool off and lots of cheering fans with those crazy blow-up noise sticks. On the second lap I saw my Dad again and his fiancĂ©e Val and her sister-in-law from her first marriage who were out there in the heat cheering for me. I told them to go find some food and that I would see them at the finish line. I started to really notice the huge salt stains on everyone’s race clothing and I was not surprised when I came across more violently sick people. I kept running and checking my heart rate. Since I was right on target with 138 to 142 beats per minute, I knew that I was doing a good job of taking in enough fluids and fuel. When you sweat and dehydrate, your blood becomes thicker and your heart has to work harder to pump it through the body and the result is an elevated heart rate. There was a lady who did not like the fact that I was passing her when she was walking and she would start running to get ahead of me and then she would have to stop and walk. I would trot on by and then she would start running to get ahead. That continued for some time until she could no longer pass me. I felt a little sorry for her because I know that her pride was a bit wounded, but I was also laughing as I thought of the race between the tortoise and the hare. I kept going my slow and steady pace. I ran for a while with a girl who was twenty-four and she was feeling a little queasy but she was still running. She had only started doing triathlons in the last year and was telling me that when she signed up for this race, she had no idea how hard it would be. I like to call that beginner’s courage. That is when you should have fear, but you don’t have enough information to be fearful. The sun was starting to go down and the heat was not as intense. I thought about picking up my Special Needs Bag at mile 15, but I was doing o.k. and I thought that I would save it for the next loop. The Sour Patch Watermelon Slices would be a good treat and I knew that I would need the glow stick after it got dark. I saw my coach again and he said I looked strong and my form was good. Other than being tired, I had no complaints. I “ran” into my client that I had coached, Carlos Albert, and checked on how he was doing. He was walking but he was finishing up this third loop. I told him that he could do it and I kept running. I did not see him again until he was about a mile from finishing and he passed me in an aid station where I was getting some Gatorade. I wished him luck and he told me to hurry up and finish. I saw a motivational message from my friend Cathy on the lighted message board at the Ford Motivational Mile. One more loop to go. I handed off my sunglasses to Cathy and headed out in the dark. More and more people were walking now. The sun was down and I noticed that it was starting to get comfortable again with the temperature. Not only were there sick people, but people who were sitting and lying on the ground next to the run path. I kept running. It was starting to become a game to see how many people I could pass by between each aid station. At one of the aid stations, a volunteer told me that I only had 10 kilometers to go and that put a huge smile on my face. I kept running as more people were walking. The crowds were thinning out now and I asked a volunteer what time it was. He told me it was 9:00 pm and that I had plenty of time if I was on my third loop. I had been out on the course now for 14 hours!!! With less than a 10K to go I kept repeating a prayer that had been sent to me by someone I am coaching for Team in Training. I would make it through this! I would finish strong! Again, only walking to drink at the aid stations, I kept up my steady turtle pace of running. I had skipped on picking up my Special Needs bag because there was plenty of support out on the course and someone had handed me a glow necklace that I put around the brim of my hat like a funky halo. All of these men that were walking were telling me to keep it up as I ran by. I thanked them and kept going. One last hill to walk up and then it was across the bridge to the finish. I got some fresh sponges to soak my hair down so that I did not have “hat hair” for my photo finish. I tossed the sponges, passed a few more people on the bridge and ran over a timing mat and had volunteers pointing me where to go.

I turned the corner and saw one of the most spectacular things I had ever seen—The Finish Line. The music was blaring, the spectators on the grandstands on either side of the finisher’s chute were cheering, and there was a huge Jumbo-Tron screen showed me headed in toward the finish. Then I heard what I had been waiting a whole year of training to hear, “Now coming to the finish, age 35, from Houston, Texas, Coach Liz, YOU ARE NOW AN IRONMAN!!!” The volunteers put up a finishers tape to run through and there was someone on the other side to catch me if I collapsed. I was so elated that I think the volunteer was a bit surprised that I was doing so well and did not need to sit down. Someone took the timing chip off of my ankle and my personal volunteer got me one of those foil “space blankets”, some water, and a backpack of finisher’s gear and then, I got my medal! I had my picture taken and then Cathy and my Dad stumbled out of the crowd to get to me. I was on such a mental and physical high. After taking a moment to get more pictures and a little food, it was time to collect my bike and my gear and head for the car.

Swim: 1:19:25 Bike: 7:34:41 Run: 5:46:53 Total Time: 14:52:55

All in all, I could not have asked for a better day to do a race. I had no mechanical problems on the bike, no flat tires, no stomach problems, no blisters, no black toe nails, no injuries, no aches or pains, and no DNF for Did Not Finish by my name in the results book. I walked away with a bit of sun burn, blood shot eyes from the dry winds, and a new found respect for what the human body is capable of doing. I have been riding this incredible wave of positive energy that I was only fazed a little bit when the airlines lost my bike on the way home. I was reunited with my bike on Wednesday morning and I was sad that it did not get frequent flyer miles. Again, thank you for all of your support over the last year and especially in these last few weeks as it got closer to race day.

Warm Regards,

Coach Liz

Team in Training Triathlon Coach

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society—Texas Gulf Coast Chapter

USA Triathlon Certified Coach


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Disassociative Mind-Body Training

All right,

I was asked by someone what I'm thinking about on the bike when I do these crazy events. Sure, I think about the course and keeping my eye on the road and on the other racers. I also am tuned in to what my heart rate is and when I need to stay on my schedule of nutrition and hydration. Then there are those moments, when the work gets hard, and you have to go to that happy place...

...that, and Kanye West's single "Stronger" is running through my head.

After that, I can find some energy that I have not tapped into.

Coach Liz

Friday, September 28, 2007

Busted Immune System!

Well, I knew it might happen. I have some sort of ick hanging in my left sinus. It came on Thursday and I found a left over, and almost full, prescription for Welbid that I had for a sinus infection last January. I have been pounding it so that I can stave off getting a full blown illness. Rest is very important. Geoff e-mailed me that he feels like he has the flu. I am not surprised that we feel like crap. The immune system takes a huge hit durring a race and it did not help that we stayed up all night after the race celebrating. I will have to ask Lauren how she is feeling.

I took my bike in to the shop to get the brakes looked at and the seat tightened down after hitting that cement obstacle in the road during the race. I did a 30 minute ride and it was a differnt story after the dismal ride on Sunday. Today, I was working at or under my 80% HR Max and passing everyone on the loop easily. At least I get a "Do-Over" in Clearwater.

I found a great condo/town home to rent while in Clearwater. Geoff and I are there for sure and I have asked my buddy Mitch if he wants to go in on the cost. I am sure that I can get a few more peole to go in on the cost. It is a bargain at $175 a night, has 7 beds, and is only 5 minutes walking distance from ther race site. Now I have to get the airfare, but I found a round trip ticket at $211 on Continental.

Alright, more gibberish and rambblings later,

CL :0)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cancun 70.3 Race Report!


I just got home from Cancun so I guess it is time for the Race Report. Here it goes. Feel free to skim over my ramblings about things that hold very little interest to you, but were outstanding in my recollection.

I met up with my tri chica Lori at the airport last Friday morning with a few of my other tri buddies. In all there were 6 of us. Our group also included the amazing talents of Geoff P. who is in his first racing season as a triathlete, Tri-babe Lauren L., Ryan "Passion" P. who all planted the idea for us to do this race back in March, Ryan T. who had to cheer rather than race due to a stress fracture that he developed at the Ironhead race back in July, and Lori. At the airport we met up with HRTC members Beau, Theresa, and David as well as seeing a number of other triathlets who I did not recognize. The flight was quite comfortable for me up in First Class. Getting through customs was quick and we were able to rent a passenger van through Payless Car Rental to hold all the bike cases, gear, and people. Payless is not on the airport property so we ended up saving almost $80 in taxes. Bad news--Continental has upped their bike transport fees to $95.

We had a short drive to a beach-front villa that we had rented. It ended up being the best digs that we could have asked for. It was 3 miles from the Wet n' Wild water Park where the race was being staged. It was on the quiet end of the Hotel Zone, but the bus stop was just outside. We had a full kitchen, washer/dryer, maid service, and 4 bedrooms with private baths. The pool area was quiet and the beach was clean and private. We are already in agreement that if we do this race again next year, we will try to reserve the same villa.

Cancun has a Sam's Club, Costco, and a Super WAL-MART so we were able to go buy groceries and extra water. I have to get out of the mind set that there are places that you can buy stuff with out having to haggle at a local market in Mexico. It was a pleasant surprise.

On our first evening there, one of the gentlemen who worked at the villas, knocked on our door with a bucket in his hand urging us to come with him. I was the only one in the group who spoke enough Spanish to figure out what he was asking but he told us to meet him at the beach to see the turtles. When we got to the beach, he offered up the bucket that was filled with 30-35 brand new baby sea turtles. He pulled one out of the bucket and placed it on the sand and we watched it quickly make a bee-line for the water and then the wave pulled him into the ocean. We all started getting the babies out on the sand and we watched them instinctivly follow the sound of the surf as they made their way to their new home. The worker from the villa showed me close to 30 other nests of Sea Turtle eggs that he had fenced off and marked with the date the mother laid the eggs, how many eggs were in each nest, and names that he had given to the mothers.

O.K. enough about the reptiles, you wanted to read a race report...

The race expo was surprisingly small. Speedo, Zoot, a local shoe store, Power Bar, Senor Frog's, and a local bike shop were there with things to purchase. There were two nice tech shirts and two different race hats that you could purchase, but that was it. I got a shirt and went back the next day to get a hat and they were all sold out. Even getting to the race expo early, they ran out of size small for the nice fleece embroidered jackets that we got. The drawstring race bag is a little small but it has a nice large zippered pocket. The bag contained a race water bottle, a Power Bar, and the other race stuff you normally get from vendors. There was a nice race photo packaget that you could buy for $50 that included a 5x7 swim, bike, and run picture and an 8x10 finish line photo. It was raining cats and dogs when we went to the expo and I was a little concerned but I also knew that the rain would keep the temps down during the race.

On Saturday there was an open water swim session that we skipped on because of rain. There was a race meeting in both Spanish and English. Mandatory bike check in was at the Wet n' Wild from 3 to 6. Pasta dinners were held in shifts at Carlos & Charlies, El Shrimp Bucket, and Senor Frog's. Nothing to write home about, but it saved me from having to cook for the crew.

Race morning looked like the rain might hold off, but I was taking no chances and used some the plastic bags that had been covering my bike to cover up my shoes and other gear in transition. It was a good thing that I did this since we had tropical deluges several times during the race. We had a tent for bag check in the transition area. No transitions bags were allowed to be left by the bikes. This ended up being a great deal since they were dry under the tent.

The swim start was moved up the beach due to Hurricane Dean damaging the pier we were supposed to take off from. The start was in the water and the waves were only 1-2 minutes apart from each other. This meant that I passed a lot of men on the swim. It was crystal clear water so it was nice that you could sight along the bottom of the sea floor as well as looking up for the bouys. There were cool starfish and other sea life to divert your attention as well. The water temp was nice and the couple of gulps of salt water only caused me to focus on going with water rather than Gatorade for the first 30 minutes on the bike. The exit from the swim to T1 was a run up the beach, through a shower area to wash out your hair and clean off the sand and salt, through Wet n' Wild, and into the Transition. The distance was probably a 400 to 450 meter run. Lots of the Wn'W staff were cheering us on as we ran through the water park. Since I was in the last wave, most of the bikes on the other racks were gone, but on my rack I was one of the first ones out on the bike course! SCORE!!! I have to double check, but my swim time was 34 minutes.

The bike course was a long leg out, a double loop, and a long leg back in. The roads for the first 5K were pretty smooth but then it turned into a chip-seal type of surface. Nothing new if you are used to riding up in and around Montgomery Co. I knew that the road condidtions would be sketchy so I ran Continental Ultra Gatorskin tires with Tuffy liners. I was glad I did this because I passed up tons of people on the side of the road changing tires. One gal I passed up had 3 flat tires! That has to suck. About 10 miles in on the course there was dried lumps of cement on the road that you really could not get around. I had been doing well up to this point with my percieved cadence and speed. My computer was not working so I was going strictly by rate of percieved exertion. I was doing well passing people up and keeping my heart rate under control. Once I hit this cement, it was like I hit a brick wall! My power was gone and it felt like I was working harder. Everyone that I had passed was now passing me up and I could not keep up at all. Since I did not have my speed, cadence, or watts to look at I just muscled it out. At mile 13, the first torential down pour began and lasted for several miles. Nothing like getting rain and the crap off of someone's back wheel up in your face as they are passing you by. I was seeing LOTS of drafting and pack riding. It kind of pissed me off, but then there were not the officials on the course to keep it under control. One official I did see was telling the group to break it up. He was on the scooter by himself and there was no way that he was going to be able to take down all 30 race numbers in the pack. So as I was muscling it out there were guys with a lot more gut and a lot less bike than mine speeding past me in those packs. I even had some dude riding an old Iron Horse 10 speed with a floppy tech shirt, long shorts over bike shorts and running shoes in the toe cages pass me up and I could not keep up with him!!! WTF was going on!!??!! When a gal who out out weighed me by a good 80 pounds zoomed by and said "Sweet Ride" about my Kuota, all I could think about was, "And only if my sweet @$$ could pick it up and look like I deserve to be on this sweet ride..." (I would catch them on the run later). The aid stations were well run and they had water, Gatorade, Power Gel, and Power Bars. Road kill in Mexico is different than it is here in Texas. We have the racoons, armadillos, frogs, possum, and the occasional water moccasin. In Mexico you have the anteater, howler monkey, iguana, and blue crabs flattened along the road. I had to do a double take on the anteater and really think about what I had just seen at the side of the road before it sank in. On the way back in to Transition at mile 45 or so, my right calf cramped up so hard it caused me to scream. At least I did not startle anyone because the course was less busy since all the drafting pack riders, who thought that the race was ITU, were already off the course. Torential down pour number 2 began promptly after that and lasted all the way in to T2 and out on the run. My goal had been to finish the bike in less than 3 hours, but that did not happen. I have no idea what my time was since the rain caused the timing mats at the end of the bike course to short out and not work. Oh well, that horrible experience of having no power in my legs on the bike was over and it was on to thrash out my legs on the run.

T2 was quick. My shoes stayed pretty dry in the bag but that was not going to last long running in the rain. Lori and Ryan had gotten a picture of me coming in to T2 and they were back off to the VIP tent to watch the rest of the race.

Out on the run it was good to see lots of people again. The run course was 2 loops and went along Kukucklan Blvd. and past our villa with the turn around at the Bel Aire condos. There were only two bridges but my quads were twitching and wanting to sieze up so I took it easy going up the small bridges. There were good aid stations and good volunteers. The water came in pint sized sealed bags that you bit the corner off of to drink out of. Why don't we have this in the states??? It was so much easier to handle, get in your mouth, and stuff down your sports bra to cool you off and make you look like you had a Wonder Bra on. There were only port-o-cans in one location but you ended up passing them four times. I thought I might make a PR, but my legs were really tired and my walking breaks through the aid stations were getting longer. I finally buckled down when a guy passed me, gave me a pat on the shoulder, encouraged me that I could do it and also threw in a "GO TEAM!" since I was wearing my Team in Training gear. I ran the last 2.5 miles in and I looked strong going across the line. Total time 6:19:04. Not bad for a horrible bike and it was close to my 6:17 that I had for two other races that were PR's

I searched out the ice by the people handing out bottles of Gatorade. I sat down on a huge bag and laid a bag over my legs and sat there for 20 minutes. I had lots of people giving me smiles and the thumbs up when they saw me with my ice bags in place. There was Domino's Pizza, PowerBar protein bars, fruit, water, Gatorade, and something else to eat but I can't remember what it was. Massages were free and the line went fast. The only bad thing was that they ran out of small finisher's shirts. When I went to get my bike out of Transition I had trouble pushing it and it was making some noise. WTF--Part 2!!??!! My front brake pad was rubbing up against the rim of my tires!!! It had probably been that way since I hit that patch of dried and rocky cement on the road at mile 10. No wonder I was giving it almost all I had and felt like I was getting nowhere. Needless to say, I was a little more than hacked off. We all rode our bikes back to the villas and I promptly found the bottle of Jose Cuervo ( are a friend of mine...) to take the sting off of my discovery of the dastardly brake pad. A shot of Cuervo with a little salt and lime was mighty nice. We hot footed it down to the beach and dove into the waves to let the cool water revive the legs a bit. The water was not really cool once you got in, but it felt great on the legs.

We got cleaned up and headed to the host hotel for the posting of the results. We were sure that Geoff's great finish time might earn him a slot at Clearwater for the World Championships. We were correct!!! Geoff came in 5th in the Men's 25-29 age group with a 4:54 finish time and is headed to Clearwater on November 10th. Congratulations Geoff!!! We hung around for the awards ceremony and the Roll Down meeting as well as several rounds of drinks. Heck, I knew that I was 26th in my age group and had no chance of going, but my buddy Mitch Evans got a Roll Down slot at Buffalo Springs with a 6:40 finish time. There was still a faint hope alive and I had my cash money ready to go. They did all of the men's age groups first and then got to the women. I saw a gal who finished in 5:30 not get a slot and I felt my stomach sink a bit. When they got to my age group and started calling names and no one--NO ONE-- was responding they called out,"Is there anyone in the Women's 35-39 age group who wants one of these two slots?" I jumped up and yelled out from the back of the ballroom, tripped over a table, spilled someone's drink, and ran up to the front with two other gals. I finished ahead of one of them, but most importantly...I GOT A SLOT TO THE 70.3 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN CLEARWATER, FLORIDA!!!

I had put that goal in writing and even after a crappy bike leg, I still reached my goal. Now I have only a few weeks to get the race arrangements in order, finish my small recovery and jump back on the training wagon. I have been very excited the past couple of days and eventually I will have to come down off of this high that I am on. Right now, my goal at Clearwater is to have a better bike leg than I had in Cancun. I have no other expectations. I know I won't place very high in my age group because I will be racing against the best people in the world at this distance. The important thing is that I got there with my training and determination. The post race party at Senor Frog's was FANTASTICO!!! Congratulations to my tri buddies on their great showing at their first Half Ironman!

HRTC Group Results:

Geoff P. 4:54
Ryan P. 6:10
Coach Liz 6:19
Lauren L. 6:28

See you in Clearwater, Florida on 11/10,

Coach Liz

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Almost Done Packing...


Loser chick tries to change her rear tire and then she cannot get the tire back on the rim. I had to take the wheel back to the local bike shop (LBS) and get them to muscle it on. If I get a flat in this race, it is all over. I struggled for close to an hour before I resigned to hopping in the car and heading over to the shop. I am saying a few prayers that running Ultra Gatorskins with Tuffy liners will keep me from a flat or I will have to DNF. A flat tire is NOT an option.

I am basically packed, but now I am just putzing around. I have the lap top and a few other things to throw in my bag and then to take the bike case and bag out to the car. I am bummed because my DVD folder with some of the movies I like is not to be found. WHO HAS IT??? At least I have Taladega Nights and Old School to take with me.

Alright, I am going to finish up and try to get some sleep before I pull an all nighter like I usually do the night before a flight out to a race.

More once I get to Cancun!!!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Time To Pack...

This is going to be short today. I did my last 30 minute easy swim today inbetween personal training clients and teaching class. I went to see JohnnyTri who is one of my Sports Docs and got a last minute race tune-up. My other doc J.D. was booked up solid. These two guys are incredible! They keep me doing all the things that I love to do and doing it pain free. If I could only have a 1/4th of their knowledge about how the body works I would be blessed. After that, it was on to one of my two favorite bike shops to pick up my new Polar Power Meter computers. I took the other one in to see if they could show me how to take it off the mount so that I could download workout info onto Training Peaks and the little plastic gizmos that hold the computer to the mount broke off. So for the past week I have had the Mex-ghetto set up of keeping my computer on the bike with a bunch of rubber bands.
I say that with love since I am half Mexican. I'm a pretty sorry Mex at that. I had Spanish lessons and classes from 4th grade all the way through high school and 16 hours of Spanish in college and I can hardly speak the darn language. Well, this weekend in Cancun I get my chance to try out my very poor Spanish speaking skills and have the locals laugh at me. My dad headed off to Madrid, Spain today to visit my uncle so he will have to go total immersion as well.
Clothes are packed and now it is on to the race bag. My non-athleticly inclined spouse is drilling new latches onto my bike case that the airport gorillas have broken off on the other travels around the country with my bike. I will be getting my bike in order tomorrow.
I talked with one of my training buddies who is going to Cancun. Geoff is incredibly talented and I really do think that he has a good chance for a roll-down slot for Clearwater, Florida. He is finally done with his final exams and has been getting ready for our flight the day after tomorrow. He still has to figure out if he is going to get a new helmet. Uh dude, get a new helment. Yours is like 5 or 6 years old and it has a crack in it.
Speaking of final exams...I have been procrastinating with an assignment that was due last month. I have three lectures that I have to video tape and a cycling class to teach that I have to video as well and I have just been too lazy (please read as busy) to do them. I wanted to get it done last month before I went to Portland for the Hood to Coast Relay and I missed the deadline. Now I have a sinking feeling that I am going to miss this self imposed deadline as well. Damn. O.k., I have to get back to getting my stuff done. I have an e-mail that I have to send out to my Marathon Training Group about this weekend's route. JohnnyTri is my assistant coach and he is on his own this weekend with the group. Good Luck Coach John! Our group has 125 or so runners and walkers in it and he is going to need all the help from our mentors that he can get since this will be the first time that he will be at the helm by himself. Our other assitant coach will also be out of town.

Geez, I have to stop rambling on and on and on....

More later,

CL :0)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

T Minus 5 Days And Counting...

Yep, this is my big race for the year. I am feeling confident about a time under 6 hours. This will be my 5th Half Ironman race. Vineman was my first back in 2003. I did great on the swim and bike and then suffered on the run. It was my first half marathon ever. They lied in the race description as well. Sonoma County is not predominently flat--it is freakin' hilly! For a flat lander that is instant death! I was totally burned out after that race and did not do another triathlon until the Florida Half Ironman in 2005. Florida was hot and humid. Again I had a great swim and a nice bike split but I crumbled in the heat. I had almost the same time as Vineman, so I was not disapointed. Next was the Soma Half Ironman in Tempe, Arizona. I did this race to prepare for Arizona Ironman and get a feel for the climate and become familiar with the course. My swim was fine and I was cranking it on the bike. The run was downright awful. I was doing a lot of walking in the heat. All that kept me going was the knowledge that my coach was waiting at the finish line with a margarita for me. My final time was only 10 or so minutes slower than Vineman and Florida. My last Half Ironman was this past April. I raced in the inaugural Lone Star Half Ironman in Galveston, TX. This was my first triathlon after undergoing knee surgery to repain a torn medial meniscus last year in September of 2006. The swim was choppy but I felt fine. The bike was 2 loops and there was a 33mph headwind on the way out to the turn around. I kept it undercontrol on the bike to go easy on the knee and not red-line the heart rate. I had the best run of all of my 1/2 IM races! I had a great race even if it was a few minutes behind Vineman and Florida. I had conqured that run leg!

Now is the race of truth...Cancun 70.3 on Sunday. I have been doing lots of heat acclimate work and I have felt good. My race season has been good. Not as fast as when I raced only Sprint and Olympic distance races, but fast enough to make me confident that I can finish Cancun with a PR and possibly qualify for a Roll Down spot for the World Championship race in Clearwater, Florida in November.

I am getting laundry done to start my packing...

More rambling later,

CL :0)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Good Lord, I can't believe I am doing this!!!

O.K., I am going to be frank here. I have a degree in English and I HATED to write in journals. I have never owned a diary. My training logs are minimal at best. My coach gets on my case that I never hit and fill out workout information. I really cannot believe that I am doing this and sticking out there for every stranger to read. Yikes!

Well, I will have to explain the blog title I guess. I was born with a congenital heart defect and had to have not only a cardiac catherization, but also a pulmonary valvulotomy. My scar runs horizontally across the left side of my chest rather than vertical along the sternum. I was three months old at the time of the surgery and the youngest patient at that time to undergo that type of surgery. I tried to keep up with the other kids at school and was always the slow kid. I kept at it and now I have done one of the ultimates in endurance sports: Ironman Triathlon. I completed the Arizona Ironman 2006 race.

Well, at least I got this started. More stuff that is pointless and silly later. I have a cycling class to teach at 5:30 am tomorrow morning. Tomorrow is National Talk Like a Pirate Day and I have a great mix of music from Pirates of the Caribbean.