Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Dramatic Conclusion--Just for Steve in a Speedo!

OMG!!! I am really taking off-season off, lol.

I have been bad about finishing this and instead I have been baking a lot of cookies. I have been good and not eating them...well, except the peanut butter choco-caramel ones, but I only have one per day. There are still plenty of them left. Steve in a Speedo is eagerly awaiting the stunning conclusion of the run at the 70.3 World Championships. Secretly, I have been waiting because I wanted to include a WAY COOL video near the end of this post. So read on and let's get this race finished!

As I ran out on the course, I noticed one of the Challenged Athletes changing the covering on his right limb and re-attaching his carbon fiber leg as he was sitting on the curb at the side of the course. I thought to myself that it has really got to hurt or just be a mega blister in the making having the end of a limb stuck down in that carbon fiber leg and running on it. I filed that thought away in the back of my head and did my best to look like I really belonged out on that race course with all the pro athletes that were probably running in to finish and the ripped age groupers who were passing me on the start of the second loop of the run. The breeze was nice now that I was off the bike, but things had warmed up and I was looking for the first aid station and the trash can full of cold SPONGES. Near the first aid station and my SPONGE hook-up, I heard a steady "TWACK" noise behind me. It got louder. What the heck was that??? I got my answer soon enough, it was the Challenged Athlete guy passing me up on his carbon fiber leg. How disheartening is that? I am able bodied and a Challenged Athlete passes me like I'm standing still.

And then, there it was...

The Bridge (cue dramatic music...). This was my first of four times to run over this sucker! I knew that there would probably be a photographer at the top so I went easy and walked up on the bottom for 2 minutes using my run for 8 walk for 2 plan. Everyone else was running and I felt like a dork walking but I also knew that I had made a promise to myself not to go out hard on the run and have nothing left at the end. About half way up I started running again. I saw David on the way up the bridge as he was coming back over to finish his first loop and I saw Geoff not too far behind complaining of cramps. That SUCKS!!!
I was doing well by the time I passed the photographer. I actually like running downhill and can go pretty fast after running the Hood to Coast Run in August and having to run over 12 miles total downhill I have figured out how to do it without ripping up the legs and being sore the next day. There was an aid station at the bottom of the bridge on the other side and to my surprise it was manned by TEAM IN TRAINING peeps!!! I got a lot of love from these guys and gals as I came running through in my TNT race gear and they made sure to make a lot of noise for me. That was a huge boost and I kept running to do them proud.

Guess what I saw a little past the aid station? I saw the Challenged Athlete guy sitting on the curb changing the covering on his limb. Here was my chance to get ahead of speedy carbon fiber leg guy! I had used my 2 minute walking break earlier so I was in that 8 minute run phase. How far down the road could I get before this guy would finally catch me and pass me??? I was prepared to find out. The route took us on to a hike and bike trail and it was not long before I heard the tell-tale "THWACK, THWACK, THWACK, THWACK" getting louder behind me. ARGHHH!!! NO!!! Passed again by the Challenged Athlete guy. I am starting to feel more challenged than he is at this point. I know I'm slow on the run, but this is ridiculous!

We started running into a residential area with some really nice homes and it gave me something to zone out on for a few minutes before I saw the next aid station. Again, the TEAM IN TRAINING super stars were taking care of the aid station. The other athletes felt a little left out, I'm sure, with all the love I was getting, HA! GO TEAM!!! I slathered some petroleum jelly on a nasty scrape on the inside of my right knee that I had gotten from that sharp plastic piece that keeps the Bento Box from collapsing. I stocked up on cold sponges and downed some Endurance Gatorade. I realized that I had not had to dip into any of my Power Gels and all I had been going on since getting off the bike were 2 orange slices, water, Endurance Gatorade, and my S-Caps. I felt good so I would play it by ear. The route turned left to go down a small hill and make a turn around down at the end of a cul-du-sac. That little hill was a kicker on the way back up and back through the million dollar mansions. Dang it was hot! The volunteers and even the guy reading scripture aloud from the Bible on the sidewalk were trying to stay in the shade. The sound of soggy shoes and wet tri shorts was common place now as athletes had been dumping cups of water over their heads to cool off. I hit the first TNT aid station again and took in as much of the love as I could because I knew what was in store for me...

The Bridge: Part 2

It was time for a 2 minute walk cycle on the way up and I was thankful for it. I got passed by a gal in pink that I had passed on the bike course and who was in my age group. That got me running again and soon it was down hill and on towards the Ford Motivational Mile. Geoff, David, Mitch, and I had all typed in motivational messages to each other at the race packet pick-up. WTF!! No motivational messages! What gives??? Oh, it was only mile 6 and I had to wait until mile 12 for my motivation, DANG IT! And then as if the Good Lord heard me cussin' and whinin', I saw Mitch on the road headed out for his second loop and he was yelling at me to get my attention. I needed that pick-me-up and to see that Mitch was only about a mile and a half ahead of me. He was on his was to crossing The Bridge for the 3rd time. I picked it up and went through another aid station where I gulped down some Gatorade and exchanged sponges to keep cool. I was headed in to the turn around back at the transition area and decided I had better keep an eye out for Johnny Tri and the camera.

Just before the turn around I saw JT and gave a wave and dashed off to get loop 2 started.
There were not as many people on the course on my second loop. All the fast athletes had finished or were on their way to finishing. I grabbed some orange slices at an aid station and noticed that there were not as many volunteers out at the first aid station. Dang, are they trying to close up shop already??? OK, it was now my time for The Bridge Part 3 and I had been running the entire way from the turn around. I took 2 minutes to walk up at the bottom and then hit that sucka running. I saw a motorcycle with an NBC Sports guy on the back zoom by with his camera towards the top of the bridge. I was passing a few people here and there but mainly it was now the older athletes who had started the race ahead of me.

At the bottom of the bridge on the other side I saw Mitch walking and I gave him a shout to get a move on and that he only had 2 miles left. Wow, I think I may have made up some time on him.
Come on Mitch, get that sponge off the ground! It's a lucky sponge!!! I got my third serving of love from the TNT crew at the aid station as they took care of me and saw to it that I had plenty of cups of fluids and cold sponges and pretzels to grab. I kept running an tossed the walk 2 minutes/run 8 minutes plan out the window. I was feeling stronger and the Kanye West song was running through my head now. "Dat dat dat dat dat don't kill me can only make me STRONGER...Work it harder, make it better, move it faster, makes us STRONGER...Longer, better, faster, STRONGER!!!" Yeah there were less people on the course now, but the people that were left were my speed and some of them were slowing down. I kept going. I ran through the second TNT run aid station and grabbed some Gatorade. It was on to the short down hill, the turn around and back up the hill in a quarter mile. It was the 10 mile mark!!! Only 3.1 miles to go. It would be one training loop around Memorial back in Houston. I COULD DO THIS!!! The spectators were more sparse but it did not matter now. Mile 11 got me through the last TNT run aid station and they let me know how proud they were of me. I thanked them for all their support and for volunteering to take care of us.

The Bridge: Part 4--The Final Chapter

I ran about half way up and walked a little bit so that I could walk with the oldest participant in the race. 82 year old Robert McKeague from Villa Park, Illinois was out there making it happen on the bridge. I asked him if I could walk with him for a bit and he said I was probably walking faster than he was. I said I was doing good and I had plenty of time because I was going to PR. He looked me in the eye and said,"you need to get moving and quit talking to me if you are going to PR. Get Going!" What an inspiration! I got going and at the top of the bridge I saw Sister Madona Buder going over on the other side. I cheered her on and she gave me a wave. I flew down the other side of the bridge and ran towards the Ford Motivational Mile Arch. YES! My motivational messages from Geoff, David, and Mitch flashed up on the jumbo message board. ONE MILE TO GO!!!

I had expected one of the ladies that I train for Pilates to be out there with her husband. They were visiting family and said they wanted to come out to see the race. They had been in contact with JT the day before but I had not seen them. Oh well, hopefully they got to see some of the action to know what the race was all about. I would be able to give Linda and Chuck the update of how the race went later.

I saw the gal in the pink tri gear again and she was walking. I ran right past her and then I heard her pick up the pace. I knew she was gonna do that because she was in my age group. As she ran past me I told her," yeah, you don't want me crossing the finish line before you. You need to pick it up this last mile here and beat me." She whined back, "But it hurts!" "NO SHIT it hurts, but this is your moment to shine. MOVE IT!" I told her. She took off and I stayed on my steady pace because I was set to reach my goal of finishing this race under 6 hours. I didn't care if she finished ahead of me, I had already won. I started to toss the sponges and make sure that I was ready for my photo finish at the end and that I looked good for the spectators, ha!

I passed up a guy in an Army tri top and zoomed around the round-a-bout in front of the transition area. I saw Johnny Tri in his spot that he had been in all morning and gave him some love for all the support he had given us that morning. I made my way for the FINISH LINE. I ran under an arch and then I heard Tom Reiley over the sound system."Wearing the colors of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program, here comes Elizabeth Garcia from Houston, TX! You did it Elizabeth! Look at that smile folks!" You bet I was smiling!!! I had raced with some of the greatest names in the sport of triathlon and I had an awesome race with a finish time of 5:52. I got my finisher's medal, and the volunteers got my timing chip and gave me a wet towel to put around my neck and showed me to the exit to go to the massage tent.

And then, I heard a familiar voice calling my name. It was Linda, my Pilates client. She came running up and threw her arms around me and gave me her Congratulations. She was so excited to have seen me cross the finish line. Her husband Chuck and his brother and sister-in-law came up not far behind and they were all smiles as well. Johnny Tri was next with a big hug and then Mitch walked up. It was time for more hugs and some pictures.

After Chuck and Linda headed out. I had to find something to eat and I wanted to sign up for my massage. My goal now was to see if I could get enough pizza for me and JT since he had not had any lunch and it was now past 1:30 pm. With that mission accomplished and signed up on the massage list I saw David and we all headed to go get our gear out of transition. Geoff was getting his massage and would be done soon. Johnny Tri was nice enough to take my bike and gear back to the pad and I got my massage. I had been thinking ahead that morning and I had put some money in my wind breaker pocket so as soon as I got my massage knocked out, I headed to the event store tent to see what kind of Finisher's Gear was available. I did not get a birthday present from my husband so I decided that this was the time to remedy that situation and by myself a belated birthday gift. And here it Finisher's jacket!

And of course it seems like at least one person in the group gets a new nick name at each race, there was no exception this time. At the Awards Banquet, Mitch said that he had been slurping some of the water out of the sponges that they were handing out on the run course. David and I looked at each other and made a face. Geoff chimed in,"Dude they take those sponges and they reuse them after people throw them on the ground." Mitch looks at us all and said,"Hey that Sponge Water got me through some tough spots!" And then David christened Mitch with his new name,"Sponge Water Square Pants over here is cracking me up!" ROTFLMAO!!!
Mitch has been know as "Sponge Water" ever since. We love you Mitch and congratulations on your PR of 5:45. David also had a rockin' day with a PR of 4:43. Geoff did great finishing in 5:03 with the cramps on the swim and the run. It was a great experience and one that I will never forget and I hope that I am fortunate to get to do this race again one day.

Sorry it took me forever to get this race report done, but I hope that you enjoyed it and that it made you feel like you were right there with me. Enjoy your off-season and keep your eye out for more posts about my Amazing Triathlon Adventure!



Thursday, November 22, 2007

Let's Get This Bike Ride Finished and Get Running...

O.K., so I left you hanging on the edge of your seats as I was telling you about the self absorbed driver of the SUV who pulled out and parked in the middle of the bike course around mile 44. Well, now it is time for the stunning conclusion to the bike leg!

The bike course took a turn to the North and suddenly I was pedaling straight into the wind. I would venture to say that the wind was blowing at a steady 17 to 20 miles. The few flags I saw were standing straight out from the flag pole. On top of the wind, the road was climbing ever so slightly. I slipped the chain into the smaller chain ring so that I could keep the legs spinning and not muscle through the last miles before the run. I ended passing up the German guy who passed me on the bridge that crossed Tampa Bay. YES!!! I ended passing up this gal who was in my age group. SWEET!!! We hit a bigger bridge that went over some rail road tracks. I could feel the gap was widening between my bike and theirs. Again the police support was fantastic.

As soon as the course turned west again, I knew right where I was on Hwy 60 that goes to Clearwater Beach from the airport. It was easier to have a crosswind rather than a headwind. I had a guy on the sidewalk yelling out to me to kick it into high gear and chase down that guy in front of me. The athletes had an entire lane coned off near the center of the highway. A motorist would have to be a complete dimwit to have driven onto the course because of all of the orange cones, but then again we did find one of those dimwits at mile 44. The only thing left to tackle was the causeway bridge. I set my gearing appropriately and started on my last hard effort on the bike. There were already hundreds of people out on the run and I knew that I had to get a move on it to get in the game. Then I looked down at my watch. I was going to finish this ride in less than three hours. Rock n' Roll!!! I was ahead of schedule! I got my feet out of my shoes and prepared for the dismount line.

I approached the dismount line, swung my leg over the bike and hopped off and ran under the "Bike In" arch. There were lots of great volunteers ready and waiting to take my bike and I ran down the racks of gear bags to get my red "bike to run" gear back. The volunteers in the change tent were helpful and asked if I needed sun screen. What I really needed was a Port-o-can! The least amount of time I could spend in a hot Port-o-can the better, but since I had a shy bladder on the bike, I had no choice but to make a pit stop. In and out, and I grabbed a handful of sanitizer lotion from a volunteer and I was on my way to the Run Exit arch.

My first goal was to keep my heart rate from going through the roof. The first 400 meters was confined to one normal traffic lane. Runners coming in and runners passing me by. Slow girl was doing her best to stay to the inside and stay small. It is a good thing that we were all sweaty and everyone was sliding by each other. The spectators were thick again and cheering loudly. My plan was to run for 8 minutes and walk for 2 minutes and keep my pace around 10 minutes per mile.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

More Action From the Bike Course in Clearwater

Hey! The last post left you at the point where I had rolled throught the first water stop and was riding through the residential areas with all of the cheering folks along the course.

From here, we made a right hand turn and skirted a mall and then we went on to a main road that pretty much had been shut down from traffic just for the race. Once we got under a bridge, we took a left hand turn and we were on a long parkway. The cars were on the outside two lanes and the racers were on the inside lane and the shoulder. There were still more fans in the median and at the crossovers since none of the cars were allowed in these areas. It was fun to see the cars creeping along or at a bumper-to-bumper standstill while were zipping along past them. There were a few large groups that passed me on the way out to mile 20 and the turn around, but for the most part I was holding my own and keeping a check on my speed. Sometimes I would look down and my speed was 19 mph and sometimes it was 22 mph. I was feeling good and my legs were turning. I had started in on the Accelerade and a package of Clif Shot Bloks for fuel. Every once and a while I would here ambulance sirens, but I never saw the emergency vehicles. All that those sirens told me was that someone had crashed on the bike. I made sure that I was not drafting and no one was going to take me down. Not long after I had made that mental note to myself, some DORK (I had a better name for him during the race...)from the Men's 40-44 age group came screaming around me and cut in front of me so close that his back wheel almost hit my front wheel! Was he looking where he was going??? Well if looking ahead is where he was going, then yes, but other than that he was not looking. I had no time to hit my brakes, but I did momentarily pop out of my aerobars and made it known that I was not happy with his race tactics.

I approached the turn around and then headed south and all of a sudden it felt like there was a tailwind. Once I changed my gearing and settled in to my pace, I checked my watch for the time. HOLY SMOKES!!! I had only been on my bike for an hour. That means that my pace was averaging at 20 mph! There should be no problem in finishing the bike course in under three hours if I kept up the pace. Around mile 25, Geoff pedaled past me and gave me a shout out. I was surprised that it had taken him that long to catch me on the bike. That must mean that I was crankin' on the bike. SWEET!!! We pedaled under a pedestrian bridge were a large crowd of people were cheering for us and they had hung motivational banners. The cars in the lanes next to us were still moving slowly. At one point I was hanging tough with a guy in a convertable and I was VERY temped to look over and ask him how fast we were going, but before I worked up the guts to do it, he had to slow down and I rocketed past him. The cars were now being diverted off the road and into one lane. I saw the flashing lights and saw that the traffic was moved over so that we could move over and get around a bad crash. I saw at least two people down on the ground and being attended to but there seemed to be at least 3 or 4 bikes on the ground as well. That was not good, but I just had to keep up with my race and not get distracted.

The cars were exiting off of a ramp so that the racers had the Hwy 19 bridge over Tampa Bay all to themselves. Looking down at my speed I saw 24 mph! Man I was cruzin'!!! I had some German guy pedal past me and ask me a question which I had no idea what he was talking about. I just shouted back "ONE!" Oh well, so much for foreign diplomacy. I was working on my second bottle of Accelerade now and mildly thinking that I had better think about making room for all those extra fluids I was drinking. I had emptied the holding tank on the swim but I had slurped down 48 oz. of fluids since then. I had thought that I was going to take Geoff's advice of not stopping and draining the bilge on the bike, but as much as I wanted to and gave it my best effort, nothing happened. I was suffering from sphincter lock-up. All those men who have to take Flow-Max, just get them to do a cycling race and try to make them pee on the bike. They might be hard pressed just like me. A few times it was a cheering parent and their kid that kept me from relaxing and other times it was just being on top of the game in the race. I figured that I was not in pain and my eyeballs were not yellow yet so I could probably wait for the transtion area. I had been thanking all of the police men and women who were doing a fantastic job of keeping the course auto free and keeping us safe.

The course now took a right turn and we were headed west again. The fantastic tail wind turned to a cross wind, but it was still a fast course. The only traffic problem I encountered was a large SUV that pulled out of a parking lot and then SAT IN OUR WAY. People who were cheering on the street began yelling for the SUV to move and I started my own cussing tirade. They could not move because the lane of traffic they were trying to get into was at a stand-still. I slowed down and got around their back bumper and took off. We were quickly approaching the turn that would take us north back to Hwy 60 and then back in to Clearwater Beach.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Race Day: Part 2

Hey! You're back for more. Cool!!! O.K., the last post took you right up to my swim exit and getting my wetsuit ripped off. Now, for your reading pleasure, we slip past the glistening wet bodies of some of the fittest humans on the planet and enter into a secret world that only the athletes are allowed into...The Transition Area.

As I entered the Transition area, hard cold pavement gave way to hard, wet astroturf. Little did I know then, but my swim was pretty darn good at seconds over 35 minutes. I had decided that my best strategy was to run down the far left side of the gear racks rather than down the middle row because of traffic congestion. the racks were set up in a large L-shaped configuration with ample room at the bend to go down any of the rack aisles. My bags were on the outer left aisle after the right hand turn. All of the blue gear bags were gone from the first racks that I ran past. That is the only bad thought that goes through a triathlete's head, "Dang! those people are way ahead of me on the bike."
As I made the turn to grab my blue gear bag off of the second rack, who do I see standing along the fence but Johnny Tri! He had his camera out and was ready to catch me, Geoff, and David as we came running through.

I grabbed my bag and dashed into the Women's Change Tent and with the help of one of the super-star volunteers, got my sock on and grabbed my race number, sun glasses, and helmet while she stuffed my wetsuit, cap and goggles in the bag. I was outta' there! There were volunteers ready and waiting to slather on sun screen but I had done that earlier so I ran down the astroturf carpet to the second row as I buckled my helmet and race belt on and dashed to the 5th rack on the left for my bike. It was a grab and go moment and I was making a run for the Bike Exit. My shoes were already on my bike so all I had to do was get past the bike mount line and I was off! Total time in T1 was 3 minutes and 42 seconds.

Once I got past the bike mount line I realized that all the spectators were cheering for us and ringing cow bells. I picked up some speed, slipped my feet into my shoes and took off. I had to keep my heart rate under control because as soon as I got past the first mile marker I would be climbing "The Bridge". I had filled my aerobar bottle with water so that I could get that nice briny deep taste out of my mouth and dilute any sea water in my gut that I had swallowed. I was passing some people, but lots of people were passing me on the bike. My goal was not to get any drafting penalties on this tight course. And then, there it was... looming larger than it did when we approached it in the car. It was "The Bridge". Some used the strategy of coming up and out of the saddle to attack it. Others geared down to spin up it. I built up as much speed as I could approaching it and was going to rely on my fading knowledge of high school physics to use momentum to get as far up that sucker as I could before I really had to hammer hard on the pedals. I am lucky that my light weight and my good climbing legs from all of those rides around Lake Tahoe make me shoot past other riders who really should be leaving me in their wake. Photographers at the top of the climb! Smile and look invincible! After rolling over the crest, I shot down the other side of the bridge but with care as there was a left had curve at the bottom of the causeway.

The course took another left hand turn and we zoomed past the Pinnaelus County Courthouse and the downtown storefronts of Clearwater, Florida. I had some free space so now it was time to dig out my Power Bar fruit and nut bar and start chowing down the calories. I had been smart and pre-opened the wrappers so all I had to do was get the bar out of the Bento Box and keep moving down the road. Riding hard, breathing hard, and chewing a Power Bar is not an easy task! I was slipping by some more riders already out on the bike course but now the hard core men from the 40-44 age group were coming up on my rear. Just the sound of their disk wheels let me know that I needed to get as far to the right as I could to get out of their way. I kept my concentration on the road, drinking my bottle of water and chewing on my fruit and nut bar. I wanted to empty that bottle and be finished with the bar by the time I hit the first aid station on the bike course. A right turn here, a left turn there and now we were begining to roll through a more residential area. The locals were all along the street here with painted posters, cow bells, flags, and lots of cheering for us. That was really cool! Whole families were out with their kids in wagons. Older spectators had set up their law chairs and were settled in for the show. Other cyclists and triathletes from the area had ridden their bikes over to watch us and encourage us. There was even a couple who had dressed up in inflatable "fat suites" that looked like they had beach attire on. They were pretty funny. What I did not see but wished that I would have was the three boys who were around 12 to 14 and had gotten bored with blowing into the horn that you see at football games that make a lot of noise. They had one kid laying on the ground with the dang horn in his mouth and another kid was pouring water into the other end of the horn like some wacked out "Water Bong" while another kid was cheering. See parents, you can never take your eyes off of them!!! David relayed this story to us after the race. He said that he was cheering for them as well.

As I was coming up to the first aid station, I had a "Hero Moment" as I rolled by Rick and Dick Hoyt on Dick's special bike with the seat in front for Rick. As I pedaled past them I yelled out "Go Ricky!". I had reached my goal of emptying the water bottle but I now had to start working on the two bottles of Accelerade I had on the bike.

Stay tuned to Bike Course entry #2...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Race Day: Part 1

I had a hard time getting to settle down and crawl in bed the night before, but when the alarm clock went off at 4:30 am, I wanted to hit the snooze for some more sleep. I started to get my race clothing on and devouring a Power Bar. Bathroom stop #1. I started hearing the rest of the guys moving around downstairs. I headed down to get some oatmeal and see everyone else's status. I had been using my Rescue Remedy spray to help me chill out. Still, I was nervous as all get out. I have done tons of these but I still get the hee-bee jee-bees before a race. Geoff took advantage of the Rescue Remedy as well. The oatmeal was not sitting well, but I knew that it was just nerves. Nervous bathroom stop #2.

We were bundled up for the 55 degree weather and we headed out the door at 5:20 am for the short walk to the Transition Area. When we stepped out the door we were greeted by the music and the instructions from race officials booming from the speakers at the race venue. There were also those search lights scanning the sky that you see at grand-openings and strip clubs. This was a BIG DEAL!

Once we got to the Transition Area, Geoff and I got in line to get our "Official Ironman Markings" on our arms and legs.
No Sharpie wielding kid who messes up the number and tries to go over the 5 to make it look like a 6. These volunteers were using the number stamps here. We really looked like Cat. 1 racers! It was then on to our bikes to load on the water bottles, bento boxes with gels and food, attach the shoes to the pedals, and check the tires. I finished up pretty fast and Geoff came over to borrow my dental floss to tie up his shoes on the bike. I found Johnny Tri (JT) at the fence and I went over there and hung out for a while. I met the wife of the Ironhead Race Director. Ironhead was the Olympic distance race that we all did this year back in July. There were lots of people speaking lots of different languages milling about and some were starting to pull on their wetsuits. Transition was getting ready to close and I had to high tail it out of there. One last hug from JT and then it was off to find the other guys. I found David and he watched my stuff while I went in search of a Port-o-can for pit stop #3.
I stopped on the way back to meet David for the National Anthem and then it was the start of the race with the Pro Women running down the beach and into the Gulf of Mexico at 7 am. Not long after I got back, Geoff found us and we started to watch the Pro Women and Men crawl out of the water and dash into the Transition Area. Dang they were fast. Andy Potts finished the 1.2 mile swim in 22 minutes, but he was not the fastest guy out there. I saw the timing clock and realized that It was about 15 minutes to my start. I took a Power Bar Endurance Gel, washed it down with the last of my water, dropped off my morning gear bag with all of my clothes in it and then headed over to the start corrals to get with the rest of the women in my wave start.

The sand was cold, but it was soft under my bare feet. Everyone was pulling on purple swim caps and goggles in anticipation of being led up to the start line by the head swim start volunteer. Mike Riley, the "Voice of Ironman" had been starting the swim waves and giving updates on the athletes running out of the water and now he was announcing that it was time for the fastest Age Group women to join the party. I felt like I had sneaked in and crashed the party on this one. I am NOT fast. Not even close to fast. I would be hard pressed to make it back to Clearwater in a legitimate race spot. The luck of the roll down was the only reason that I was even there. But there was magic in the air and Dr. DeWalsh had used "Magic" Kinesio-tape on my ankle so something magical had to happen during this race. With the crack of the starting cannon, the magic had begun!

The 150 women in my group and I sprinted down the beach and into to chilly surf and dove in to start putting 70.3 miles behind us. The swim field was gentle compared to my mass swim start at Arizona Ironman where I duked it out with over 2000 men and only 384 other women. All the gals I was swimming with were actually polite and swam around rather than over one another. We had a half mile swim out and a nice line of big yellow markers with the Ironman logo on them to follow. There were Coast Guard boats, life guards on jet skis, kayaks, surf boards, and helicopters roving overhead. If anything was going to happen, there were plenty of people to take care of us in case of an emergency. Since we were all fantastic swimmers, the only threat that we might encounter would be sharks! "Excuse me, but we are racing here and do not have time for your predator instincts. Yes we look like slick seals in our wetsuits, but we are NO WHERE as fat and juicy as a seal. We are lean, mean, racing machines here Mr. Mako--so SCRAM! BEAT IT!! GET THE F--K OUT OF MY WAY!!!" Whoa, there is the orange marker to start the turn around. At this point I see one or two green swim caps from the men's wave from behind us and then, I swear on it, I saw David! Who else would be this far up on the swim course in a red swim cap and in a sleeveless wetsuit??!!?? David swam for UT and was only hundredths of a second off from making the Olympic trials. As we turned the second orange marker and turned towards shore, we were blinded by the sun that had gotten high enough to become a major distraction. I now had to look for large triangular shadows rather than yellow markers to make it back to shore. I was feeling faster on the way back in with the waves pushing me along. Soon a larger group of men in green caps overtook me and I was able to draft off of them for at least 100 to 150 yards. Now I was seeing pink caps from the men's swim start that was before ours. I started to see Pier 60 on my left and I knew that it was not long before I would be back on the beach. Surprisingly, I was able to see the bottom of the gulf and saw the ripples in the sand that were highlighted from the sunlight streaming through the water. I was getting close. I started seeing people stand up, but I knew that I had to try to get as close in to shore as possible. Some people stand up in waist deep or thigh deep water, but they still have to wade into shore. I shorten my stroke so that when I stand up I am only in water that is half way up to my knee. It makes it so much easier to get out of the water and get running up the beach. I unzipped my faithful Orca/Team in Training wetsuit and dashed up the beach as I pulled it off my arms and got it down around my hips. I ran over the timing mat, through the showers to rinse off my face and then over to the volunteers who were stripping wetsuits off of the athletes. They helped me up off the ground, gave me my wetsuit and then it was off to get my blue gear bag.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Friday--The day before the BIG race

On Friday morning, Mitch, David, and I got up early and had some breakfast before heading out the door to do an open water swim. We left Geoff still sleeping, back at the casa. It was a little chilly at 8 am and we had some warm clothes on. It was not a lot of fun to stand on the cold sidewalk in bare feet. David showed me a nifty trick of putting a plastic grocery sack over my foot as I got into my wetsuit. It just slid on! How had I missed out on that tid-bit of information? We turned in our gear to the Gatorade tent and tracked through the cold sand down to the edge of the water.

COLD!!! That was a shock to the system! I kept my head up for a few strokes and then started putting my face down in the water. Ah, that lovely taste of salt water. It does not bother me so bad as others. I just always think of salt water taffy or having a big bucket of popcorn with my brine water treat. I could hardly see a thing in the water. I did see my hand with the sunlight streaming into the gulf, but that was about it. They had the course already put out, but they only let us swim a quarter of a mile out and then we swam north about 100 yds. and came back in. I was doing great and only took in one gulp of the gulf. When we got out of the water, David was right there, but we did not see Mitch back in yet. We had worked up enough body heat that we felt good being wet and out of the top of the wetsuit. It was the rinse showers that cooled us off. We were able to dry off and get into our warm clothes when we saw Geoff. He was asking us how the water was. We did not want to give too much away about the waves, so we told him to suit up and get out there. David caught a glimpse of Mitch, but then he found his Austin buddies Maurice and the rest of the crew and we chatted with them for a bit. There were tons more people there now then when we showed up.

Back at the casa, Mitch was waiting for us so he could head out to get his bike worked on at the Repair Tent. As soon as Geoff got back, we loaded up the van and headed out to the Athlete's Race Meeting. This was back at Sand Key Park where we had the banquet the night before. The sun was out now and it was nice, unlike the chilly evening before. After the race meeting, we booked it back to the casa so I could get ready for my interview with the Ironman PR team. Johnny Tri had gotten back from his overnight stay with Bigun and Di and was waiting for us.
I grabbed a quick salad, got changed, washed the salt water out of my hair and JT and I headed over to Pier 60 for the interview. Geoff and David said they would meet us over there.

My interview went smoothly and I answered all of their questions and really plugged Team in Training. I had my TNT gear on and a huge smile on my face. Geoff and David pedaled up on their bikes just as I was finishing up. We headed back to the Expo tents and JT bought himself a hat. Now I needed to get on my bike and make sure that my speed sensor was working, get the race number on it, get my transition bags ready and get them over to the transition area.

Before we headed over, I saved Geoff from making a huge blunder on race day. He had his swim to bike gear in the bike to run transition bag. After a quick bag change, we all headed over to drop off our stuff. It was a good thing we got there when we did because there was no line and we had great volunteers walking us all through the area to show us around and get our stuff in the correct place.
I had a great volunteer who was a triathlete himself and we got stopped many times by other athletes with their questions. This guy was the answer man. JT took lots of pictures! Geoff and I headed back in to take pictures of the bag racks and to look for some of the Pro's bags. After a few more pictures, we now noticed that there was a huge line to get into the bag drop-off in the transition area. We lucked out on timing.

Once the bikes and our gear was out of our hand, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off our shoulders. We went back to the casa and watched Gladiator and chilled out. JT gave me a pre-race adjustment and got me in tip-top shape We headed out for diner at 5, but got there a little too early. We found out the Italian bistro we were encouraged to go to did not open until 5:30, so we drove down the coast and did some sight seeing. Our meal at the bistro was yummy! Geoff and I had the Salmon, David had the Pene, Mitch had Fetuchini Alfredo, and JT had the stuffed Manacoti. We all shared some Bruchetta and a Creme Brule desert as well. Now that is was dark, it felt really late even though it was only 7. We made one last stop at Walgreen's for last minute breakfast stuff and then it was back to the casa to get our stuff ready for the next morning. The lights were out and everyone was in bed by 10pm.

Stay tuned for RACE DAY!!!

Coach Liz

I DID IT--And I made a PR!!!


This is super short, but more will come later.

Finish Time--5:52:43

This is 25 minutes faster than my fastest half Ironman time. The race was fantastic.

As I said...look for a full race report later today.

Coach Liz :0)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Day 1 at the Worlds-NEW RACE NUMBER 1102


I am here in Clearwater, Florida. I got here last night with Johnny Tri and Geoff. The townhouse that we are staying in is beautiful! there is a 2 car garage that has lots of space for our bikes.

There is an elevator to the upper levels which was great for us lazy triathletes and for taking our luggage up to our rooms. On the second floor is the living area and kitchen and one of the bedrooms. The third level has a master bed and bath, another room and the laundry. On the roof there is a hot tub and the view is great. We are located only a short distance away from the race venue. We ran to the local Albertson's grocery to pick up stuff for breakfast and then it was off to bed for a good night's sleep.

I was up at 6:45 eastern time and the sun was up. I got up and started breakfast while the guys were still asleep. The smell of coffee, blueberry pancakes, and scrambled eggs got them moving to the kitchen. After breakfast, Geoff and I had thought about going to the open water swim practice but we decided to do the swim on Friday morning. We went to the beach-front area and took a look for the packet pick-up but instead we found one of the race expo tents! $112.32 later, I walked out with some cool stuff! I got a sweat jacket, a tech shirt, a water bottle, a car magnet with the M-Dot logo, a pair of socks, and a nifty visor. Geoff got two visors to replace his Triathlon magazine visor that is always attached to his head. Johnny Tri was acting as our driver and had dropped us off to look for a parking space. We called him back to pick us up because we needed to head to the airport to pick up David and Mitch. When he found out that we were shopping for cool SHWAG while he was keeping the car made him pretty cranky. LOL, we love you Johnny Tri!

We picked up David and Mitch and then headed to Packet Pick-Up. It all went smoothly except that Geoff forgot his photo ID.
We got our race packets, got wrist banded, weighed in, and were given our cool Ironman drawstring bag filled with goodies. Then it was another trip to the Race Shop. I spent another $612!!! OMG!!! Hey, you only get to the World Championships once if you are slow like me. Here is a breakdown of the goods: 1 Ironman beach towel, a cool 70.3 WC bike jacket, 70.3 WC tri top, 70.3 WC bike shorts (they were out of tri shorts in my size), a nice 70.3 WC run/casual jacket, a short sleeve tech shirt, a long sleeve tech shirt, a long sleeve tech run top, a few stickers for the bike case, some tattoos, and 2 CO2 cartridges.
DANG!!! It was totally worth it!!!

We had a late lunch and then took Geoff back to packet pick-up. Mitch had to go back to look into renting race wheels. His friend Erin was using his race wheels last week at Ironman Florida and she had a crash and cracked the front wheel rim. Kuota wanted both wheels to look at and told him not to use the wheels to race on in case the back wheel had damage as well. So after Geoff got his race packet, we took Mitch to the bike shop for wheels. Johnny Tri met us with Bigun and went to his pad to have dinner with him and Mrs. Bigun.

Geoff, David, and I went for a short 10-15 minute run down to the water and then got cleaned up for the athlete's Welcome banquet.
We took a short drive to Sand Key Park and were met with this awesome stage with a reggae band. It was like being at a beach concert. The food lines were short, the food was yummy, the music was good, and the following presentation was very inspiring and motivational.
The only thing that was a negative was the windy conditions that made the temps chilly. We headed back to the townhouse to give the hot tub a go, but it was really not as warm as we first thought. We only lasted a few minutes in the "cool" tub and then crawled out. I am waiting for the weather forecast, and then it is off to bed.

Well, that is it for now...more tomorrow!

Coach Liz

Sunday, November 4, 2007

I made the cut!

Man, time has been flying by for me here as I wind it down to the Ford Ironman 70.3 World Chapmionships next Saturday. I got a pretty amazing phone call last Thursday. I was in the parking lot of the bike shop to get my bike and I got a phone call from the Ironman PR department. They said that they go through the applications for the Championships in Kona and Clearwater and look for athletes with interesting stories and backgrounds and they were calling to let me know that they had picked me as one of the athletes they would like to profile. Shazam!!! What an honor!

I have an interview set up for Friday at noon and I have to show up in training clothing so that they can also get footage of me running and training. I don't know all of the details on where this interview is going to go, but I will keep everyone informed. I don't know if this means that I am one of the Human Interest stories that NBC uses for their coverage of the race. Now I get to feel like a human billboard. Team in Training wants me to wear the logo front and center, Power Bar would like me to have the logo prominently displayed since I am a Team Elite member, my coach mentioned that when it was convenient to mention his name in the interview, the bike shop wants a pic of me by something that shows the race logo while I am wearing one of the shops team jerseys. I am sure that when I tell the sports docs they will want me to wear the logo as well.

I have started my packing and I fly to Tampa on Wednesday afternoon. I did my last brick workout today and things should be winding down now as I prepare to head to the race. It is bed time and I have to focus on good sleep this week so I am signing out for now.

More details as they come available!