Monday, June 30, 2008

Tri-ing to get back on track...

It has been one month of laziness and intermittent workouts and now I have to get serious again. No more ice cream (snif!), limited sugar, and only 2 drinks for 4th of July. Other than that I am dry. On the flip side, I have to hit the pool, ride my bike, and continue my running. I have only been in the pool once in the last month and I have not been on my bike at all--the horror of it all!

I have the Longhorn 70.3 in 10 weeks!!! OMG! Where did the time go!!??!! I have some serious training to do and I am just realizing that I am running out of time! Good Grief!

This past weekend was a good running weekend for me. Last Wednesday night I did a track workout and focused on RPE rather than time or heart rate. I will start focusing on time once I start my Yasso 800's. I jogged over to the track in Memorial Park from where we had parked and then ran 3 x 400 hard, 400 easy, 800 hard, 400 easy. The last one was hard because I knew my heart rate was seriously elevated from the tingly feeling in my cheeks. After the workout, the kid and I went to go eat with Louis and Angela at one of my favorite spots, Cafe Express. YUM!!! One Greek Salad, please!

On Saturday morning I ran a little over 8 miles on a pancake flat route out of Memorial Park and west up Memorial Dr. to Chimney Rock and back in. It was hot and very humid and I could have wrung out my shorts and that is a rare one for me to be able to do. After the run, a bunch of us went to Goode Company Taqueria and I had scrambled eggs and chicken fajitas but without the tortillas. El Esposo was in town for the weekend and he took our son out for a belated Birthday Father and Son day. This gave me time to go to the movies and I finally saw the new Indiana Jones movie. It was good, but Ironman was still better.

On Sunday, I had planned to do a ride, but I was not able to find anyone who wanted to go pedal the miles with me so I bailed on that idea and went running again. I wanted to focus on going slower than I had the day before. My TNT/blogger buddy, Terry and the gal that he had been running with had caught up with me at a water stop so we all ran back in. Little did I know that Speed Racer was going to pick up the pace the last mile. I guess if I had not had my iPod on, I would have known this bit of news rather than sucking air the last 400 meters. So Sunday was LSD work and trying to keep my heart rate under 150 and preferably around 140. About 2 miles into my run, I literally ran into one of the girls I had coached for the Houston Marathon this last year and her husband. They were loading up the truck to head home after spending the night at her parent's house. We chatted for a few minutes and it was really good to see them. I got back to running and around the 7 mile mark I hit a Clif Shot and then the digestive system started moving. Some days it is fine and other days it works on the theory of "If something goes in then something must exit". I had to walk briefly to compose myself and then I got going again. If I focus on other things, it is better, but the closer you get to home you can't not think about getting in the door to the commode. The last two miles were all about keeping it together and getting home. I was having goose flesh all over my body and about ready to cry the last mile. I have yet to go up and knock on a stranger's door and ask to use the bathroom, but dang it was tempting! I made it home and without any accidents. I looked at the Polar, and I put in just a tenth of a mile shy of 11 miles. The rest of the day I was lazy and hungry.

So my plan today is to hit the pool if it does not rain and if it does, I will be on my bike trainer. We shall see how it goes.

Later Gators,


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Buddy!

Wow! Time does fly. My son had his 10th Birthday today. It does not seem possible that 10 years have gone by, but in other respects it seems like his bedroom will never be clean for another 8 years until he goes off to school.

This morning I was greeted with bulging eyes and a huge smile when I put a breakfast plate of Oreo Cookie Cake in front of him. Of course being the growing boy that he is, he ate every bit of it. I had asked him what he wanted to do special for his birthday and he asked to go to a baseball game. So last night I bought two tickets to see the Houston Astros play the Texas Rangers in one of the games of the Silver Spur Shootout Series. The first 10,000 fans would receive a commemorative shirt.

After being stuck in the "Kid's Club" at the gym all morning, we went home for a late lunch and to get his new Mizumo ball glove that he got from my dad and Astros jersey on and to grab his hat. I wore my old Astros t-shirt that I got when I was in high school and is now really cool because it is Retro and the silk screen paint is now cracked and weathered looking. We headed down to Minute Maid Ballpark early to find parking along with the other 40,052 fans and the thousands of others that were headed to WWF at the Toyota Center down the street. We collected our commemorative shirts and headed in to catch batting practice.

Earlier in the day, I told the Bud that he could have the money that was in the coin jar that we have on the counter to use at The Shed for a t-shirt or to go towards a jersey. There was $61.50 in rolled coins plus $10 he got from his other grandfather. The kid was rolling in the dough. We stopped at The Shed to scope it out and then headed to our seats on the Terrace Level just to the right of home plate.

The Rangers managed to get a run in during the first inning, but the Stros answered back in the bottom of the second with a home run and an RBI. The game was pretty uneventful until the Astros had another homer and RBI by #17 Lance Burkman, "The Big Puma". The Rangers tried to answer back in the top of the 8th inning with a home run and an RBI, but in the end, 4 is more than 3 and the Astros won the game. We had 3 foul balls come up into our section and the Bud was "THIS CLOSE" to getting one of the balls.

After the game we went back to The Shed and the Bud used his money with mom spotting him an additional $17.50 to get a late 70's, early 80's Retro Astros "Rainbow" jersey for his Birthday. I wish that I would have had my camera with me but I didn't and I am not sophisticated enough to own a phone that has a camera so I don't have any pictures. I guess we can say that I "dropped the ball" on that one.

Happy Birthday Steven!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Exiting Conclusion of Ironman 70.3 Switzerland!

Now, least you should forget the hard facts and data, in a span of less than six miles I had nearly 1100 vertical feet of climbing. And I had to do that two times. To make a comparison, almost every year since 2001 I ride my bike 100 miles around Lake Tahoe and out to Truckee, California. Over the 100 miles there is 2693 feet of climbing. OVER 100 MILES. The longest/biggest climb was 576 feet over 8 miles and the steepest climb was 492 feet over 2.2 miles. Alright, so the altitude is much higher in Tahoe, but still it pales in comparison to Switzerland!

As I was coming in to the transition area, I saw the race vehicles shadowing the last athlete on the bike course. That has got to be so disheartening to have the tail end escort and to have to watch everyone else head back in and then be out there on your own up those climbs. I started preparing to hit T2 with a vengeance. I got my feet out of my shoes and started spinning out the legs. I did my impressive flying dismount and ran the bike quickly into T2. Total time out on the bike course: 3:24:42 and a personal worst. I am guessing that I probably spent a good 10 to 12 minutes off the bike dealing with the cramping and the trudging up the hill. I am usually a sub three hour bike leg, but on this course I was happy to be done and on to the run.

In T2 I racked the bike and tossed the helmet and slid on the shoes and socks. NO...I did not pour red Gatorade on my toes this time. I grabbed my Fuel Belt and visor and ran THE WRONG WAY in the transition and had to backtrack to make it to the exit and the timing mats. D'oh! Also did a double take seeing a gal with no top on. They were real. HEY BABE! CHANGE TENTS ARE OVER THERE! Total T2 time--2:15

My goal on the run was to keep the heart rate steady and manage the pace. I felt good other than my right arch of the foot seemed cramped up. I ignored it and after a few miles, the discomfort went away. There were tons of people on the run course and just as many spectators. The only bad thing about this was that most of the spectators were smoking. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SECOND HAND SMOKE WHILE I RUN THIS HALF MARATHON!!! Gads, come on folks. There were some bands along the way that provided distraction. The first section of the run took us up along the shore of the lake on a run path that had lots of nice shade. By this time it was almost 3 pm and it was hot. We ran under a bridge that connected the west shore with the east shore and then we headed into downtown Rapperswil. The aid stations were well stocked and well manned. I was glad they had an ample supply of sponges. I took about 4 and put one down my bra top, squeezed one over my head, and carried the other two in my hands. I had to keep a light grip on the sponges so that I wouldn't squeeze all the water out of them and the relaxed hands really helped keep the entire body relaxed.

We were now running on cobblestone and through the crowds that were eating at the place where we had dinner the other evening. The food smelled really good. The second hand smoke smelled really awful. We weaved our way, up and down, through the city streets until we came to the huge letters that spelled out IRONMAN that we ran through on the way up to "The Stairway to Heaven". I looked up and saw men trudging up the stairs and they looked punked out. OK, the plan was to keep a consistent speed on the stairs and not to trip. I zoomed past two guys on the way up and then it was down hill back to the edge of the lake. I knew there was one of those public fountains up ahead and I stuck my head under the spigot and re-soaked my sponges and I was off again. I found an aid station that had ice and I poured a cup full of ice down my bra top and kept going grabbing 3 cups of water to slurp down as well.

I was on my way back in to where the swim start was and while I was trying to keep my eyes peeled for Lauren, my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I caught sight of a well endowed mid 20's aged guy in bright green tri shorts that was hanging all to the right. ZOINKS!!! WAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION!!! As Steve in a Speedo would say, "Major Moose Knuckle". I also saw several women AND men in WHITE TRI SHORTS. Who's brilliant idea was that? And these people bought them and were wearing them! I passed the swim start and saw Ryan heading in towards the finish and I headed over the bridge that was over the area where we had exited from the swim and headed out on the other half of the run loop. Again, we were on a running trail but there were less spectators and all that meant to me was fresh air!

I was doing good and drinking off of one of my 10 oz. bottles of Accelerade and grabbing lots of water in the aid stations. I swapped out a very hot sponge for a nice cool one to stuff down my bra top and kept going. I took in the landscape and the landmarks. The reeds were tall along the shore of the lake and on the other side of the trail were the back yards of houses. There were some children that were collecting the tossed sponges and re-soaking them and handing them out and shouting "Hopp Hopp Hopp" at us. They were cute. I gave them a high-5. We ran by a beautiful country Church with a clock up on the bell tower. The announcer by the Church gave me a shout out and also added a "HOPP ARBIETSGRUPPE!" Now I had figured out that Hopp meant "GO" but Arbietsgruppe was puzzling me. I ran and thought about that for awhile as I ran through a vineyard. I passed another group of 4 men with those huge yokes on their shoulders with the ginormous cowbells and they were making a ton of noise along the side of the run path. I dug back into my study of linguistics when I was back in school. English is a Germanic based language so I thought about similar sounds. Gruppe = group. "Go Group"??? WAIT! "GO TEAM?" Could it be??? OMG!!! I think I possibly got a "GO TEAM!" in Switzerland. So that pumped me up as we ran into a sports complex where people were playing soccer. We had to run around a track and before we left the track, volunteers slid a black stretchy hair loop around our wists. There was also a big pile of yellow ones which were probably for the people on their second loop.

As I headed back into the vineyard, I kept an eye out for Lauren. I exchanged sponges and drank more water. I saw some people trying to help a guy who looked like he collapsed at the side of the run trail in the grass. YIKES! Keep moving! I still had not seen Lauren. Where was she??? I made it back in to the swim start area and had to go up along side of the Diner's Club Arena and head back out for loop 2. As I was heading towards downtown Rapperswil, I saw Lauren. She waved and smiled and I caught sight of THE BLACK STRETCHY HAIR BAND on her right wrist. WTF!!! Where did she pass me??? Was it on the hill when I had the quad melt-down??? My brain was flashing "DOES NOT COMPUTE" messages to me. I love Lauren to death and I do want her to do well, but I have always been way ahead of her when we do rides or runs. So none of this was making sense to me. I was now tired and it was now almost 4 pm and feeling pretty low. The brain starts playing tricks on you. I ran past all the smokers and the band that was only playing intermittently now. COME ON GANG! I NEED THE MOTIVATION! My legs were toast and aching but I kept moving. I wove my way through town and up the Stairway to Heaven. I stopped at that fountain and stuck my whole head in it. I needed to snap to it and find my motivation again. I walked through the next aid station and drank more water. It was the first time to walk and it was mile 7.5 or 8 at this point. Come on, pick it up! I got running again and on the way back in to the swim venue, there were less people heading out to town. Ack, the athletes are thinning out. Dang it! Ryan is already done and had a massage! Come on, pick it up! No more walking allowed unless I was drinking. And then, as if it was divine intervention, I heard a shout from the crowd..."GO TEAM IN TRAINING!!!" YES! I was half a world away from home and someone knew what it was that I was racing for. I found my motivation right then and there! I had finished one bottle of Accelerade and now it was on to the second bottle with more S-Caps.

Those landmarks I had searched out earlier were very helpful on the second loop. It made things seem like they were passing faster. I saw Lauren again and she had a YELLOW HAIR STRETCHY on her right arm. Dang, that meant that she was heading in to finish and I still had almost 5 miles to go. How did I get that far behind? HTFU and run! No pity parties allowed. I passed my land marks and the cowbell guys. I walked through the aid station at the sports fields and the track to exchange sponges for the last time and take in more fluids. I picked it up to go get my YELLOW HAIR STRETCHY. Once I had that stretchy, I knew it was only 2.5 miles to the finish. There were less people heading out to the track to get their yellow hair stretchy, but I kept telling myself that I was ahead of these people and that was good. The little kids were still out there cheering for us. I passed the Church and kept an eye out for the Castle up on the hill at the top of the Stairway to Heaven.
Once I saw that I knew I would be close. More people were walking and hobbling. I kept running. I came around a bend, and there was the castle off in the distance. YES...less than a mile to go! I had one more aid station to go through. I was going to ditch the sponges here and grab one last cup of water. On the other side of the aid station, I saw Ryan with his camera and I gave him a smile and a wave as I turned off the loop and headed towards the finishing area about 350 to 400 yards away. I ran up the side of the Diner's Club Arena and around the corner and saw the most beautiful sight of the day...THE FINISH LINE! Run Time--2:15:41 (only 10 minutes slower than my Lonestar run time), Finish Time--6:24:37

I crossed that line with a smile on my face and got my Finisher's medal while volunteers took my timing chip and the black and yellow hair stretchys. As we were herded like cattle through the finishing area, we had to pick up our Finisher's Shirt and our print out of our splits. I saw Ryan waiting for me at the exit and we gave each other a big hug for finishing the race. I told him that Lauren had finished before me because I saw her with the yellow hair stretchy. He said that he had not seen her, but that he was going to check the results board on the way over to the transition area.

Ryan said he did not see her finish time on the results board yet. We were going to see if she had gone to transition and was there. Nope, no Lauren and it looked like her stuff was still in the same place as she had left it after the bike leg. WTF!!! There was some dude lighting up a smoke as he was leaving transition with his bike and gear. That is NUTS! Ryan was going to pack up his stuff and then wait by Lauren's gear if she showed up while I got my stuff together. While I was packing up, I saw more public nudity from both men and women. I modestly changed out of my sweaty stuff with my arm warmer bolero tied around me and put on my Finisher's Shirt. Ryan said he thought that he heard Lauren's name from the announcer and he was going to go towards the Finish area and find Lauren. I packed up the last of my stuff and left it there to go chase after Ryan.

We found Lauren after she got her Finisher's Gear and she told us how she had a black hair stretchy from her braids on here arm and the volunteers gave her a yellow one. Then there was great confusion as she started to head out on her second loop and the volunteers tried to get her to go to the finish since she had the yellow hair stretchy. We went into the Diner's Club Arena where they were serving food and playing a highlights video from the day. After we ate, we headed back out to the transition to grab our stuff and get going. They were about to start awards and do the roll-down slots. I was pretty far down the list so I don't think that I would have made it, but you never know. Well, anyway I had already been to Clearwater, it was someone else's opportunity to get to go this year. Oh, and I finally figured out why the race mascot was a giraffe. The transition area was up against the giraffe compound of the Children's Zoo. The giraffes were out and looking over the fence as I was packing up my race gear.

We got our transition bags and what did we do next? We hopped on our bikes for the 6.5 mile ride back to Staffa and our hotel. The roads were pretty empty and we took it easy on the way back. Needless to say, we got off our bikes and pushed them up the last hill to the hotel, LOL. We showered up and walked into town and had dinner and toasted our success on THE HARDEST race course we had ever been on. We did it!

I hoped you enjoyed the installments. Good Luck to all my friends who are going to be at Ironman CdA this weekend. I'm glad it is not me, lol.

Later Gators!


Monday, June 16, 2008

Back to the Course...

Ok, when I had to rush off to work, I left you hanging on the top of Witch's Hill. I was wobbly, but I had made it to the top and now I had to hang on for the downhill that had some sharp 90 degree turns. I was riding my brakes because I did not want to loose control and ride through a fence and into a field. Things leveled off and we were directed onto a "farm road" that led us towards the town of Neuhaus. I had to do a quick pull over for one or two minutes just to hit the inhaler again without falling off the bike and causing others to crash. Once back on the road I started to meet spectators just outside of Neuhaus. The route had us cross through an intersection and BAM!!!...Evil Climb Number 2!!! This one weaved and curved and was just as evil as Witch's Hill, but without the Witches. "Hopp Hopp Hopp Hopp Hopp Hopp Hopp!!!!!" I was still managing to pass a few people slowly in the 27 tooth cog, and then the road changed from a residential street to a farm road. It became more narrow and bumpy. I had one last ugly curve in the road to make and I could hear, of all things, a steel drum band at the top knocking out "Shake Senora" and "Hot Hot Hot". Was I that loopy? I thought that I was in Switzerland?? Would there be margaritas at the top??? Yes, I was that loopy. Yes, I was in Switzerland. NO, there were no margaritas at the top! DAMN IT!!!

Alright, the race map had noted Witch's Hill and another doozie of a climb called The Beast. But was that it? The elevation map looked much bigger and longer for The Beast. I cruised down the farm road and up ahead was an intersection with a more prominent road. We turned right and BAM!!!...we hit The Beast and all of it's glory. It was back to the small chain ring and the 27 tooth cog. Now it was a steady long grind. Everyone had slowed down to crawl except for a few men who were charging up the hill out of their saddle. I had decided before I had even hit the climbs that I would stay in the saddle at all costs to keep the heart rate from sky rocketing over my LT. The spectators along the route were spread out now, but the best was the group of 5 men who had huge wooden yokes over their shoulders with the biggest fricking cowbells I have ever seen in my life. These things were the size of a semi-tractor trailer tire. There was a bell on each end of the yoke and the men were walking up the side of the road and the bells rang with each step they took. I kept climbing and actually picked up the pace as we passed the most awful smell coming from a barn that either had to be a milking barn of a rendering barn. GAG! Still grinding it out, I could see an aid station. I chucked an empty bottle and kept going up The Beast. We were now entering the town of Golden and there were more spectators, music, and an announcer. The announcer gave me a shout out, "At-lete 1643, Elizabet Gar-see-a from Ooston, Texas!"

With a left hand turn at the T in the road, we were rewarded with a long down hill! I was riding my brakes for most of it just because I was twitchy in the legs and there were a few towns that we went through that had some sharp corners. We had one last hill to make our way up and there was a multi-national crowd on this hill! Not only did I get "Hopp" but I got a "Venga Venga Venga!!!" and an "Allez Allez!!!" Again, once we came around a right corner, we were rewarded with a long straight-away that was all down hill! It was fast and furious. I used this time to eat and drink and let my legs take it easy. As we came into the town of Eschenbach, we came within yards of the other athletes going out on their second loop as they had finished Witch's Hill. It was downhill again and we got some warning signs to watch the steep 15% grade and use caution. As we cleared out of the trees, I started to feather the breaks. I saw that U-turn at the bottom of the hill! Oh Holy CRAP! S--t, S--t, S--t!!! Don't wipe out or take out anyone else! ARGH!!!

Whew! I swung wide, but I made it. Now it was 6 miles of gentle rollers back in to the turn-around at mile 26 and then out on the second loop. More drinking, and more Clif Shot Blocks.

On my second loop around mile 4/30 I saw Ryan heading in to go start his run and not far behind him I saw Lauren at mile 5/31 finishing up her first loop. I knew I had those three Evil Climbs ahead of me. I had done them once, I could do it again. I hit Witch's Hill and grinded my way to the top still able to pass one or two people along the way. YAHOO!!! I made it to the top. I guess the cows were proud of my efforts because they Moo-ed at me as I passed on the way down hill. My legs were tired and twitchy. I had some flat road to relax before I hit the second Evil Climb.

When I got to Neuhaus, I hit the climb and I could feel my legs wanting to call it quits. NO!!! I focused on the pavement and I saw the road change from the residential street to the farm road. OMG! My quads were going to seize up! Come on! Make the last curve! F--K!!! ABORT! ABORT! DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!!! I barely unclipped one foot and my vastus medialus (the quad muscle on the inside near the knee) on each leg cramped up HARD. The spectators caught me before I fell over into the electrified cattle fence. That would not have been good. I was in a world of pain as I looked down at my legs and witnessed my muscles disappear as they crawled up into my body and all that was left was saggy and wrinkled skin around my knees where muscles once had been. AAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!! Being in labor was the worst pain that I have ever experienced and this ranked right up there with it. Messing up my knee, falling off my bike and crashing, and having my finger slammed in a car door could not hold a candle to this pain. I could not bend my knees and I was screaming at the top of my lungs. One of the spectators said he was going to go get a Medic. NO NO NO!!! DON'T GET THE MEDIC!!! If a medic saw me, they would pull me off the course. I was going to finish this race come Hell or high water. There might not be climbs like this in Texas, and I may be down, but I was not out. I slugged down 4 or 5 S-caps and guzzled half a bottle of water and started trying to bend my knees. Once I got a little movement I started trudging up the last 1/4 of the climb towards the steel drum band. The hill was too steep and my legs were too fried to try to climb on the bike and start pedaling. I wanted to find a stretch of flatter pavement. I had a heck of a time trying to swing my leg over the bike, but I did it and I headed on my way to meet The Beast. The S-caps were working. The weather was mild compared to Houston and there was just enough breeze to evaporate any sweat that I had on me, but the low humidity did me in and I got behind in my hydration and electrolyte replacement even though I had consumed 40 oz of Accelerade and 20 oz of water with the extra salty Margarita flavored Shot Blocks and S-Caps. I had no problems getting up The Beast and I just focused on taking it easy on the legs the rest of the way in before the run.

Raw Data: Minimum Altitude--1332 ft. Max Altitude--2418 ft. Ascent--1085 ft. per loop. Total Ascent--2170 vertical ft. of climbing in 56 miles!!!

Ok, I have to get some shut eye...hang in there for the run!

Later Gators,


Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Post You Have Been Waiting For...RACE DAY--Ironman 70.3 Switzerland

When the alarms went off at 5:40 am, the sunlight was streaming through the windows. It felt odd sleeping in that late on a race morning because we are programed to be at the transition area by 5 am or 5:30 am. Lauren and I ate a quick breakfast and got our gear on. Ryan had already ridden out to the race venue because he had to get his bike checked in between 5 am and 5:45 am. We hit the road at 6:30 am loaded down with all of our gear to pedal the 6.5 miles to the race venue. The roads were pretty empty and I did not see a car until we got into Rapperswil.

Once in the transition area we stopped and looked at each other and quickly realized that there had been no body marking. That was odd. We were asked for our race number, our wrist band, and to see the timing chip on our right ankle, but no body marking. WEIRD! Lauren's spot on the rack was in the shade, but mine was in the sun and I would soon take off my wind vest as it became too warm. All the bikes around mine were either covered with tarps or just sitting there without any other gear near by. That was odd as well. Where were these chicks??? We only had about 40 minutes to set our gear up and with 10 minutes to go, most of the people who had bikes around mine were still not there. Some people were setting up and then walking off and leaving their wetsuit and caps behind. What's up with that? I was feeling like we needed to be getting out of transition and I was waiting to hear the announcement that transition would be closing soon. I never heard that announcement. Lauren and I met the Power Bar Team from California and a lady that had done her first triathlon at St. Anthony's with Team in Training. That was pretty cool. We got some pictures with Ryan and then it was time for him to be heading out to his swim start. Still, transition was open. Lauren and I had nearly 2 1/2 hours before our swim start, so we put on our race belts and wandered out of transition leaving our wetsuits behind at our bikes. I was starting to get freaked out by this. I felt totally unprepared and anxious not having my wetsuit and swim stuff with me. Finally after a good 30 minutes I told Lauren that I had to go in to transition to go get my wetsuit and that I would be more at ease if I had it. I heard the gun go off for the Pro racers and I hot footed it into transition because they were sure to close it up now, but there were still tons of racers milling around in there. WEIRD!!! I found Lauren and brought her wetsuit out to her and we started walking down towards the swim start. We got down to the area where everyone would be running in from the swim when I realized that I had left my inhaler in transition. I ran back in there and inhaled my albuterol and dropped off my flip flops and as I was getting ready to leave my bike for the last time, the Pro racers were running out of T1 with their bikes and the athletes still in the transition area had lined the runway out to the bike course and they were clapping and shouting out messages of encouragement. What the HELL am I still doing in transition??!!?? I make it out of the transition area, meet up with Lauren and we start making our way towards where we can line up on the fence at the swim exit so we could catch a glimpse of Ryan before he ran into T1. Since his wave start was right after the Pro field, we did not have to wait long to see him dashing down the ramp from the swim exit. We gave him a shout out and we could see that he was looking around to see where we were.

After all that excitement, we started thinking about starting to get our wetsuits on. We had a good hour before our wave start, but we also knew that the water temperature was 15 C or 59 F. The more time we spent in the wetsuit "cooking" the cold water would feel good. We started seeing the majority of the men start to move towards the swim start. I got my suit on and ventured down a boat ramp at a small inlet in the harbor where some boats were tied up and got my feet and hands accustomed to the water temperature. I watched other people swim a bit, but I was not quite that ready to get my face in the water. Pretty soon, the last men's wave was off. It was now time to start moving to the dock and getting in the water.

Once in the water, I moved out to the start line with the couple of hundred other women and began dunking my face in the water to blow bubbles. At first, it took my breath away but the more I did it over those 5-7 minutes, it got easier. The sun was pretty high up in the sky by now so I would not have to deal with the early morning sun blinding me from seeing the swim markers. The gun went off and we all started thrashing. I expect this early on, but the thrashing never seemed to thin out. I was getting kicked, shoved, slapped, elbowed, swam over, pushed, and knocked about with no free water in sight. The chin strap on that dang neoprene cap was digging into my neck and I had my first SWIM FREAK OUT in 5 years. I flipped over on to my back and took a couple of good deep breaths in and tugged at that chin strap. Damn it!!! HTFU!!! Come On--Get it together!!! I flipped back over and got back into the fight. And it was a fight almost the whole way with this aggressive group of gals. I am usually able to swim out of that stuff and find my groove, but it seemed like everyone was my speed that day. Nice--NOT. The water was cold, but it felt good and I could see the bottom of the lake which was pretty neat. It was a straight shot out, a left turn for 200 meters and then another left back in. I kept going and did a few under water screams when I would get kicked on my hip or hit on my ribs or elbow that I landed on the day before. S--T THAT HURT!!! As I made my way into the harbor and I saw the exit ramp, it was time to heat the wetsuit up (if you get my drift) and start running in my head my T1 plan. Swim Time--39:15, not bad with a freak out and full body combat the entire way.

I swam in as far as I could and got yanked up by the arms by the volunteers...ARRRGH!!!OUCH!!! Man, would my poor right arm ever get a break? I got the zipper down as I was climbing a flight of stairs and started to pull that Orca off of me. Whoa! get that stupid neoprene cap off A.S.A.P. for the photos girl!!! O.K. cap and goggles off and now to strip off the other arm as I was running down the ramp towards the soccer fields and where transition was. Photographers passed, and I was looking sharp! Once in the Transition area, I peeled that suit off and tried not to let the arch of my foot cramp up. Glasses on, NEW LG ROCKET AERO HELMET on, grab the bike and go! I left all these other chicks fumbling with socks and shoes back at the rack--Chicka Chicka Whaaaa!!! I hoofed it to the mount line out on the street. The spectators were going nuts with those goofy thunder sticks. I had a mild slip up getting off as one of my shoes tangled with the pavement, but I was off and rolling. T1--2:36, nice job for a HUGE transition area.

So now I am zipping along the roads and manuevering my way through cobblestone sections and round-a-bouts in the intersections. I am soon passed by the Pros and lead males who are starting their second loop. I settle into a nice pace and start to drink and eat because I know I have some climbing to do after mile 6. Around mile 6 I caught the sight of athletes screaming down the side of the mountain running parallel with me and then having to do a fast U-Turn at the bottom to start heading back in. CRAP! Note to self, take it easy on that downhill!!! About 500 meters after that I saw volunteers in refective vests and waving flags to make sure we slowed down to make a left hand turn. I had been doing a nice 21 mph or so and after that left hand turn and across an intersection...BAM!!!...7 mph uphill and around a corner. HFS!!! As quickly as I can I am out of the big chain ring and moving to the big 27 tooth cog. I had hit Witches Hill and the throngs of spectators lining both sides of the climb were clapping, ringing cowbells, and shouting "HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP!!!!!!!" as we inched our way up the hill. There was a posse of 20 witches all dressed up in burlap tunics and capes with hag masks and long grey patchy wigs on trying to give us the Hoo-Doo Voo-Doo. I saw a bend in the road and momentarily thought that it might level out...BUT NO!!! kept climbing. F--K!!! Come on, you're passing people, that is good. Don't look up the hill, just keep an eye on the road 12 to 15 inches in front of your wheel. "HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP!!!!!" Another bend in the road...and it still keeps climbing. OMG when is this going to end??!!?? The street lined with houses turns to a country road lined with cows and I see an aid station up ahead. Would they have crash paddles? Oxygen? Black Current flavored Power Gel??? The volunteers were cheering and doing the wave and trying to hand me stuff. NO! If I take my hands off the handle bars I may just fall over!

ARRG!!! I have to leave you hanging!!!
OK, off to work...more in a bit.

Later Gators,


Bike Drop Off

I got the sense that Greyhound was getting a little impatient about me holding out on everyone with all the good tales of the trip and the race, so I will drop a few more crumbs for everyone.

After I got a glorious 10 hours of sleep, we got up and went over to the main house for a breakfast of musli, yogurt, assorted meats and cheeses, and fresh bread. At least I could have the yogurt, meats, and cheeses. Once we woke Ryan up and got him fed, we decided that we would ride the train into Zurich and look around since the athlete's meeting in English was not until 3 pm and we would do bike drop off after that.

The trains, as I mentioned, are very much on time. Even if you are running up as the doors are beginning to shut, you will not be able to get on by just sticking your arm out to block it from closing because those suckers lock down and the train starts rolling. Once we got to the Zurich HB main train station we had to find "The WC" or water closet. All public bathrooms require you to pay to use them. At the station I was not happy with the fact that I had to pay 2 CHF (Swiss Francs) to use the WC and Ryan only had to pay 1 CHF. What gives??? My kid regularly misses aim in the bathroom and I hate having to clean that up. Why do the guys have to pay less??!!?? We strolled down the Bhanhoffenstraff where all the high priced shopping is. Lauren had to get a phone card, but that was the only purchase we made. Everything else was too expensive. We stumbled across an open air market that after some inspection seemed to be a flea market. After pausing at the lake for more pictures, we started to make our way back to the train station so that we could head back to Staffa and get some lunch and get our bikes.

We were delayed leaving to Rapperswil on our bikes because a thunderstorm rolled in over the mountains and on to the lake. I was getting hungry since I was not able to just buy a sandwich at the train station and have a snack, SUCK! The rain made us miss our Athlete's meeting and we figured that it would be ok. There probably was not much that would be different racing in Switzerland vs. racing in the States. The rain slowed to a mist and we were off. I loved the fact that there are bikes lanes everywhere in Switzerland and the cars are very aware of cyclists on the road. Well, we made it into Rapperswil and the roads were still wet and they turned to cobblestone in some areas. I tried to follow Ryan up onto a sidewalk area where the bike lane went and my wheel went down into a crack and I CRASHED...ARGH!!!! Not now!!! Oh, dang that hurt. It was not bad enough to draw too much blood, but I slid on the wet pavement more than anything. I tore up my new jacket which was a bummer and somehow I managed to drop the chain on the bike where it came off the whole crank rather than coming off towards the bottom bracket, WTF! My brakes were not working anymore and we still had to make it in to the race venue. I picked myself up and got going again but this time I was a little jumpy.

Once we got to the transition area we all realized that we left our race numbers to go on our bikes back at the hotel 6.5 miles away. Were we brain dead??? So, I proceeded to go to the Bike Doctor while Ryan pedaled his way back to get our numbers. Well, being the nice girl that I am, I waited my turn to get some bike mechanic help and THREE TIMES I had these guys just push in front of me with their bikes and basically "cut in line" and get their bikes serviced! WTF do you think you are doing Hans and Franz??!!?? I had a lady that spoke broken English tell me to move on in and make my presence known because the rude Germans were like that. So I cranked up the inner B*I*T*C*H and got loud and shoved my bike in the tent and started shouting "Spreken se English?!?" to each mechanic. One guy popped his head up and said he did and amazingly he sounded like an American! He snapped off some German to another mechanic and my bike got up on a repair stand lickety split. They looked at me as they were noticing the brakes were not working. I tried to tell them I had a crash and pointed to my grimy leg and hip. They got me fixed up and now Lauren and I just had to wait for Ryan.

The people smoking like chimneys was driving me nuts so I told Lauren that if she would watch my bike, I was going to go to the expo and look for a CO2 cartridge. There was only one tent out of the 30 or so tents that had CO2--what was up with that??? Maybe it was like some black market thing and I had to say a secret password before a cartridge came out from under the table. I bought two for 10 CHF--Highway robbery in my opinion since I was going to have to trash them before getting on a plane. I found the Power Bar tent and saw that all the rejected flavors from America had landed in Europe, lol. Yes, I will have 2 Black Current, 1 Papaya, and 1 Peach flavored gel please.

When I got back to the bike, I had a Canadian guy (who was really cute--read tall and dark and lean) compliment my Kuota. He said it was a beautiful bike--HA, even with the green fork--and he asked if it was fast. HELL YEAH!!! But was I fast? He did not ask that question. Ryan finally showed up and we found out we missed the closing time for the transition area by 10 minutes. ARGH!!!!!!! The race was in the morning and now we had to be up at the crack of daylight to get the bikes in and then sit around for hours to wait for our start.

We took the train back to Staffa and while on the train, the conductors come by to check our train tickets. I pull mine out and they proceed to tell me it is no good! Wait! I just bought that!!! Sorry, no good. F--K!!! I had to fork over 80 CH Francs as a penalty. I was furious. I found out from another conductor at the next stop it was because I did not pay the 1/2 fare for my bike. Lauren lucked out and did not get caught and Ryan had left the bike back at the hotel, so everyone learned from my lesson. I was not having a good afternoon.

We had dinner at the hotel which was very good but very over priced. We watched some other race participants smoke and chug beer with their pre-race meal and realized that we were not in the States for sure. We got back to our rooms and tried to settle in for the night.

I slept horribly!

OK, race day is coming!!!

later gators,


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Slide show of Rapperswil and Zurich

As promised, here is a slide show of some of the things we saw. Today is a busy day so I will keep it to the pictures today and I will add more of the race experience tomorrow.

Thanks for being patient!

Later Gators!


Monday, June 9, 2008

Part One: Getting to Rapperswil-Jona

As is my usual fashion, I can never seem to get my act together without pulling an all nighter before I fly out to a race. I had tons of things to get accomplished for work before I headed out so that I would have a job to come back to. Being a beatnik and singing in a coffee house was not going to make me as wealthy as being a personal trainer and coach so I had to stay up all night before the flight to Zurich to make sure that I got all my stuff for work complete and had all my ducks in a row.

I made it to the airport with plenty of time and had the usual events take place. The shuttle bus driver and the rest of the people on the shuttle bus from parking thought I was a freak to be hauling around the bike box. I got asked the “Is that a bicycle in there?” question when it clearly states “FRAGILE: Racing Bicycle” on all sides of the bike box. I had to fork over $100.00 to have the carbon fiber pony make it on to the plane. I found out that booking with my husband’s Platinum Elite One Pass number did not get me any upgrades because I paid for the flight and he did not. SUCK! So, I headed to the back of the bus and took my seat on the first leg of the journey to Newark.

Once in Newark, I had a six hour lay over so I decided to get a nice lunch and then I found the gate where I was to be and I stretched out on the floor for a nap and charged my cell phone. No one was there so I got a good 70 minute uninterrupted nap. As boarding time got close, I spent the time sending text messages to JT. I was so sad that he was not going to be going with us to do the race. Looking back, I still wish he would have been there, but it was probably best that he was staying home with IM CdA being so close. I had a good seat on the flight from Newark to Zurich and tried to get as much sleep as I could since we would be landing at 8:30 am Zurich time and I did not want to be jet lagged.

Once in Zurich, I met up with my buddies Lauren and Ryan and we found my luggage and my bike and we went to go find information on luggage storage for after the race and to get train tickets to go to Staffa where our hotel was. We got more looks from people as we hauled three bike boxes around. The trains in Switzerland are very clean and very much on time! Little things were interesting. The vending machines were selling bottles of tea with cannabis in them! I have a feeling that it would not have been a good idea to have that before the race. Our first stop was in Rapperswil where we changed trains to make it to Staffa. We knew that we had gotten off at the right place when we saw all of the Ironman 70.3 Switzerland signs!!!

Once we made it to Staffa, the hotel car came and picked us up but the bike boxes required that we make two trips. We got checked in and to our rooms and then we went down the hill to Migros grocery and restaurant for some lunch before we headed back to Rapperswil for packet pick up. The Swiss Franc and the US Dollar are almost the same in exchange value, but food is very expensive in Switzerland. And any food that is not a sandwich or has a bread product in it is crazy expensive. So my special diet was going to make me pay out the wazoo the entire trip. Double Suck!!

We got to Rapperswil and walked all around looking for the race venue and could not find it. It was only when we saw other triathletes who had already picked up their stuff that we figured out which direction to go. Everyone had these cool back-packs with the IM logo on them and we were hoping that they were part of the SHWAG that we would be getting. We passed a children’s zoo and saw through the giraffe and zebra compound all of the bike racks set up in the transition area. We made it! Since we had arrived near the beginning of the packet pick up, the race crew and volunteers were still setting stuff up and the expo was not yet open. We got our race packets and YES we scored the awesome back-packs! There was a small tent set up with some cool event gear in it and I bought a race shirt. It is very cool because in tiny print it has all the athlete’s names and countries all over it.

We explored Rapperswil and found the “Stairway to Heaven” that would be on our run course and took a look at the castle and church that were at the top of the stairway. The weather was pleasant in probably in the high 70’s. We stopped and had some dinner and I had to watch my buddies eat pizza while I had to eat another salad. We looked at our watches and saw that it was after 7 pm and it was so weird because it was still sunny and very bright out. We caught the train back to Staffa and walked up the big hill back to the hotel and hoped that none of the hills in the race would be this long and steep. We spent the rest of the evening putting our bikes together and then at 10 pm I collapsed into bed.

Stay tuned for bike check in and touring Zurich tomorrow!!!

Later Gators,


Yahoo!!! I'm home from my European race experience...

Right now, all I can say is WOW!

I have so much to blog about and so many pictures to share I almost do not know how or where to begin. With that being said, I am going to give you a teaser about the Ironman 70.3 Switzerland. It is very humbling to go to a different country to do a race. I experienced that last year when I went to Mexico and did the Cancun 70.3 race. In a foreign venue, you really come to appreciate all that USA Triathlon does for us as athletes and you marvel at how well the host cities and race directors pull out all the stops to put on a great race. This was by far the MOST CHALLENGING triathlon race course I have ever completed and the ABSOLUTE TOUGHEST bike course I have ever ridden, hands down. There is nowhere in Texas, let alone in a 1000 mile radius from Houston, that I could have ever gone out and done a ride on roads that would have been similar in grade and length to be prepared for this race. I will upload some cool stuff in my race report and hopefully you can get a good idea of what was running through my head and spewing out of my mouth when I came around some of these corners on the bike course.

Check back daily for more about the trip and more slide shows!!!

Later Gators!