Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 Race Report


This went well: 2nd age group, 7th amateur female, PR 4:28:07*

This guy gets the credit. Super dad – letting me train until my heart was content for this race. Super coach – writing me an awesome plan. Super supporter – taking the bulk of the work while in Chattanooga so I could relax.


My training squad is a group of awesome ladies who are so motivating and supportive. Carrie-Anne-Morgan-Michelle-Amanda-Cari (and the boys who we call fast girls). You guys are awesome.
Theme music for the weekend: Anything from Trolls, which Logan watched no less than 6 times in the car ride over and back.


Video of the week: endless pool swimming in the Tennessee River the day before. That’s me in the front, sighting and thinking, “But that buoy isn’t that far away? Why am I not getting any closer?”







Pre-race
My taper went perfectly; I immediately got sick :) I was on a constant diet of airborne and zicam and literally by the day before the race I had cleared out all the congestion. We stayed in a condo right on the river away from downtown and the nerves/high strung personalities that these Ironman races tend to attract. My own obsessiveness revolved around checking the weather every hour. 100% chance of thunderstorms – oh please don’t cancel anything! A bad thunderstorm rolled through the night before, but, and I’m no Al Roker, the line just wasn’t that wide. Surely it would be through before the start of the race?
Swim: 16:02
Flanked by the best couple to be around, Anne and Dave Mac, we made our way to the swim line up very early so we could get a good spot. No rain, just cooler temps and cloudy skies (amazing! Maybe I am Al Roker!). All queued up in an orderly fashion, we sit down and wait. But then an Ironman worker comes walking by and yells, “OK everyone! This is a self-seeded started! So if you’re a fast swimmer, move to the front!” Instead of a line, people rushed to the front and it now looked like a street concert. And this self seeding business was total bs - people were lying their faces off worse than a pool swim back home. But no worries! It was still 1.2 miles, some of it upstream so it would get sorted out. Or would it? Dun dun dun!!!!!!

Apparently, the officials decided the pro's were taking too long to make the first initial upstream turn and didn't think us weak age groupers in our wetsuits could handle it so they took that part away and we were now only going to do a very short, downstream swim. Forget about getting much separation from the competition - people I probably would've gotten 6+ minutes on I might get 1-2min now. And there were so many people ahead of me, AUGGHHHHH PANIC!!!! Anne must've read all this on my face and firmly talked me off the cliff (thanks, Anne). I then turned to Dave and told him I was moving up, so the two of us were able to leapfrog probably 100 or so people.


This swim was a mess. I passed people the entire time; there were bodies everywhere. I never felt great and couldn't get into a good rhythm (and Dave and I lost each other immediately upon jumping into the water). It was over quick.

Logan relaxing with a nap and cartoons at Hotel de MacDonald after his initial wakeup at 3:45am

Bike: 2:27:18
I felt awesome on the bike! So, so good that there were times I felt like I should push a little bit more but then reconsidered (reminding myself that I did still have to run a half marathon after this). A couple of girls passed me in my age group but I wanted to ride my race, not theirs. And I wasn't even thinking about placement in my age group.

The bike was also very crowded and absolutely we all got the benefit of having so many people on the road - whether you were drafting or not. It's like a vacuum pulling you through, and with virtually no wind and a rolling but not difficult course, the times were smoking. There were for sure draft packs out there - sometimes you didn't have a choice in some of the tighter sections to be blocking someone or in the draft zone, but I also feel like you definitely had the ability to decide if you were go to blatantly suck wheel and take advantage of it or try to get out and race clean. I was mostly around guys and boy there were some that clearly had low moral standards with regards to cheating. I didn't see a ton of girls, but the ones I saw I can at least put in the camp of trying not to draft. But if you start 3000+ athletes within 20min of each other, in an easy swim that takes no time, the bike is going to be packed.

I really enjoyed the bike, though. I just felt SO GOOD. I was literally smiling at mile 50 thinking, I love this! This is awesome! I was diligent about my nutrition and took everything as planned. I don't have power or use a heart rate monitor, but my Garmin was beeping every 5 miles and I knew I was holding an excellent pace. I guess I'm still a little old school with that aspect. For a race like this, I go to the point where I feel like I'm pushing just a little too hard and then back off. It works for me.

Run: 1:39:19
No joke, I heard 'Can't Stop the Feeling' from Trolls at the beginning of my run (that's my jam!). The first few miles were all smiles and high fives. They were easy and smooth. I did ended up taking my gels earlier than planned as I needed a boost but the first lap was relatively uneventful. I was definitely getting tired but also felt like I was going to have enough left in the tank and mentally I was on point and ready to fight through any tough spots. I was so happy to finally see Marty and Logan!



The temps were cooler, but the humidity was sky high and I allowed myself to walk through the later aid stations so I could grab coke and water (wow, coke, you're awesome). I also thought about my friends back home tracking me and Marty sacrificing weekends for this (self-centered) pursuit. And then when it really started to hurt, I thought of a friend who recently got some scary news - this girl is an amazing athlete (and person) who never quits, and is always digging to get it done. I often found myself saying, "Would SHE quit now? Would SHE go slower?" It helped tremendously.

There was one short but steep hill that I gave myself permission to walk up the second time around (Would SHE walk up this hill? Hmmm, actually I think SHE might :) ) but anytime I was running I was moving pretty well. I really feel like I weathered the low points well and was able to push out of them and hold it together, which is something I have struggled with in the past. I did start dealing with some quad cramping which was completely new to me and freaking hurt like hell. But then I was at mile 12 and knew I could pick it up a little bit and finish strong. Yay to getting to take the turn to the finish instead of starting another loop and double yay to slapping Logan's hand in the final stretch. 7:34 average pace - I'll take it!





Post Race
I collected my award after showering and having a late lunch with friends. I passed on the World's slot and hopefully made someone else's day letting it roll down. I'm happy with how it all went and had a lot of fun training and racing for it, but now I'm ready to get back to more low key training and having a fun summer with family and friends.

Waynesville has a great recreation center with a splash park for the kids we went to on the way back home

*Big asterisk next to this PR since the swim was so short. Who really knows where I would've been, but I could guess my swim would've had another 12min to it. Which would have probably also slowed down the bike a bit. I'll say I may have still been under 4:50 but eh, doesn't really matter at this point.




Thursday, May 4, 2017

Trip Down Memory Lane - Half Iron Style


I’m about 2.5 weeks out from the Chattanooga 70.3 and I’m feeling good about my training. I’ve been consistent with my swimming which is feeling great right now, I’ve been outdoor riding all winter and the run seems to be coming around. Now let’s take a short trip into the brief history of Bri’s half iron distance races.


#1: 2004 – Duke Liver Center Half (doesn’t exist anymore). Did you know that Marty and I blogged before it was called blogging? Some of the stuff got lost in cyberspace but here’s my race report from this race! We got married that year, I was working at Lockheed Martin, and finishing my MBA (we were living in Orlando). We had 3 hurricanes roll through during the summer (on the weekends) and I was also a very weak biker and swimmer. I was still running fast not so far removed from college, but not in this long event. I finished thinking, nope, not doing that again. I don’t know if the results are anywhere, but I think I did something like 36min, just under 3hrs, a little under 2hrs. 5:33 total time is what my race report says.

#2: 2005 – Duke Liver Center Half (why oh why did we go all the way up to NC AGAIN for this darn race?) This race report also exists!  Not a whole lot faster than the prior year. I just frankly didn’t train that much :) Race report says I was 8min faster so I guess I did a 5:25 this time around.

#3: 2007 – White Lake Half. I was in great shape this year – having traveled the world the prior year and getting to ride my bike a lot. We moved to NC late in 2006 but I didn’t get a ‘real’ job until March of 2007 so the in between time I had lots of time to train. There is a race report floating around somewhere for this one but I can’t find it. I can look at my splits since these are still around - RESULTS  That run split makes me laugh. I literally couldn’t do that if I was shot out of a cannon downhill now :) Of note at this race (that apparently I’m still steamed about) is I got my first (and so far only) penalty. I will never forget the talk I had with the official after the race. Apparently, someone passed me and I dropped back. He said, “oh yeah, I could see you were clearly dropping back, but you didn’t get XX bike lengths back within 15 seconds. Sorry.” So yes, I guess I technically did deserve the penalty (?) except I do believe that the official might have made a judgment call and saw that I wasn’t intentionally drafting and did completely get out of the zone so maybe a 4min penalty wasn’t really warranted? Incidentally, they were throwing out penalties left and right at this race and at the sprint the next day. I’ve never seen another local race like that in terms of penalties. Final time was 4:40:36 (4:44:36 with penalty). 

#4: 2013 - Raleigh 70.3. I really was done with long stuff after White Lake. I felt like I nailed that race and probably would never get into that shape again. And still, I just didn’t love the long stuff. Sprints and Olympics it was! And then I had Logan! Then more sprints! Then we hear that Ironman is bringing a 70.3 to town and everyone and their brother is doing. Oh all right, I’ll sign up. Then I got to around March and had tremendous mom guilt and decided not to do it. I trained how I liked (short) and didn’t worry about it. THEN in early May we did The Raven Rock Ramble (60mile bike ride) and an 11 mile long with the OSB crew. I realized I could just do it for fun and not really race. So that’s what I did, and it was fun, until the last 4 miles of the run. I was undertrained, it was hot AF, the course was awful and I had major stomach issues. I finished in 5:15, 4th in my age group and got a Worlds’ spot which I declined. Not my thing. Here’s my race report.

So this will be #5*. I’m in much better shape than #1, #2 and #4 but not like #3. Still, I’m excited for the race and am hoping to feel good all the way to the finish!

*I technically did another half iron distance last year as part of the American Triple T, but that race is so different I wasn't sure I could count it. So maybe this is really #6.



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Belews Lake International Triathlon Race Report


It’s not often you get to race right next to your bestie, but that’s exactly what Carrie and I got to do at the Belews Lake International triathlon last Saturday. Going into the race we were both looking for a great workout and lots of fun. Since we train together all the time we thought it would be fun to take the pressure off and stick with each other throughout. This race worked out perfectly since they start athletes 2 by 2, every 15 seconds. As luck would have it, we got to start together. The swim was awesome. We were next to each other the entire way, moving through the water at a very comfortable but great (for us) pace. It was wetsuit legal and with the rolling start there weren’t any crowds to contend with. We took our time in transition, drying off and putting on warm clothes since it was only in the low 40s. The 27 mile rolling bike was fairly uneventful and Carrie kept her distance behind me – way beyond the draft zone. Our friend Dave Mac caught us right at the end, yelling at each of us to be sure that we KNEW it J A little, ok, a lot of extra time was taken in T2 as I talked Carrie out of quitting the sport (long story) before we set off on the rolling 10K run. We chatted most of the way, until I got a terrible side stitch (probably from talking too much!!) but we still wound up running a decent pace.  Super fun race – goal accomplished! We capped off the afternoon with a late lunch at Natty Greene’s brewpub with the rest of our gang. Thanks, once again, to super dad Marty for manning the fort while I spent all day away. Next race: Chattanooga 70.3!



Post race. Daniel put up with a lot driving the 1hr40min there and back with us.

Logan is enjoying playing T-Ball for the first time.

Relieved some mom guilt at an ice cream shop and a park with this cute guy. Cars in hand, of course.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Last minute triathlon race report


Marty was supposed to do the Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon this past Saturday and Logan and I were either going to hang out back home or watch Marty and hit the beach if the weather was nice.  Early in the week the weather was looking pretty good so we were tentatively planning on the latter. Then Marty’s mom, who lives in Florida, got very sick so he and Logan high tailed it down there and all of the sudden I was left to my own devices here in NC. I was thinking of movies and sleeping in and great training without any time constraints. Then this girl says, “Now you can do the Sampson County Super Sprint with us!” hmmmmm oof. A super sprint was not really in my plans and trying to wrap my head around that was a little difficult. Although they are short, if done right, they hurt the entire time (spoiler alert: that’s exactly how it ended up feeling).
 

Several other friends were going to do this race and we all planned to ride 50 miles after to get our long ride for the weekend in on country roads.  The weather ended up being awesome; I had done this race back in 2013 and it was FREEZING and I had vowed never to do it again. This year was perfect.
 

I started 10 seconds behind Carrie in the time trial pool swim start and let’s be honest, this is a definite advantage. I promised her that if we do another pool swim this year I will make sure she starts behind me (There. It’s in writing). Just 250 yards, and the end of it was messy with open turns and slower people. Got out and ran as fast as possible to transition. Literally every second counts in these short races! The 7 mile bike is out and back with several turns where I was able to see that I was still holding around a 10 second gap to Carrie. Then towards the end of the bike I got a little held up with some cars on the course and literally thought that was probably the race. Out on the run (2 miles) I was hoping that my piriformis/hamstring issue didn’t flare up and although I was breathing like a freight train and it was very hard, I actually felt ok. And Carrie was ever so slightly coming back to me. I finally got almost up to her shoulder before she put in a late surge (Dangit! DO NOT let all that hard work go to waste!) but was able to hold it together to the finish line where she crossed just in front of me. Time wise I finished 8 seconds ahead of her, and she finished 1 second ahead of 3rd place!! Talk about a tight race!
 

Afterwards we changed for our bike ride which was super windy but an awesome workout and finished up with burgers and milkshakes at a local eatery around corner from the race site. Fun race, fun people, fun day. (PS - Marty's mom is doing well!)


Don't let the smiles fool you into thinking we weren't sputtering messes at the finish line.





Logan had it tough in Florida. Here he is watching cartoons after an evening swim.








Thursday, February 23, 2017

February Things

It’s February 23rd and currently 71 degrees outside. Wait, did we move back to Florida without me realizing? Nope – just an unusually warm winter here in the southeast. Not going to lie, I’m sort of loving it. You can still wear pants and long sleeves and not be too hot, but you’re not freezing every time you step out the door. Although, I think we’re all holding our breath for what the summer may bring.

Our recent excitement has revolved around where Logan is going to go to Kindergarten next fall.  If you think it’s as easy as walking to your neighborhood school you would be wrong. Here in NC there are all sorts of trip wires and booby traps to get through. 2+ years ago we specifically moved into a neighborhood with a great school. Then as he got closer to Kindergarten, we started considering trying to get him into a ‘magnet’ school (public school but with a special focus). There are several different types of magnet schools in our area, and it’s a lottery to get in, but the different groups in order they select from are based on 3 different criteria.  The criteria is mostly around if you already live in an area with a high performing school that is at or above capacity (yes to both of those for us). Since he has been going to a Spanish immersion daycare for the past 3.5 years, we thought it would be great to have him continue with that and hopefully he really will grow up to be bilingual.  So we put our name in the hat for a dual language magnet school, that is not at all close to our house. If he didn’t get in there, we would apply for the year round elementary school near our house and if that fell through, he’d be at his base school (both of these schools are rated very high).  We found out last Thursday that he DID in fact get into the magnet/Spanish immersion school – YAY!!!! And crap, that is going to be lots of driving. But we’ll make it work. We both believe it will be a great skill to know both English and Spanish.


So if you followed that closely enough, you’ll realize that we moved to get into a good school district, that he’s not going to, but the reason he got into the magnet program was because of where we moved to. So. Weird.


Switching gears - here’s my favorite picture from earlier this year of me and Carrie passing the baton at the Occoneechee Speedway Relay.


Training has been going great, mostly due to this girl who keeps it fun and pushes me all the time. Like throwing my paddles across the pool deck so I can’t use them (they are a bit of my baby blankie), only to have our friend trip on them while walking out of the locker room. Woops.


And while we’re here, let’s talk about swimming. I’m in my happy place – many things have converged to form a perfect swimming set up (for me). My company has a great pool on site so Marty and I can now swim for free. They keep it a touch warm (which I LOVE) and I can meet the aforementioned paddle thrower at the completely civilized time of 6:30am and get in a solid 3K before picking up breakfast at one of our cafeteria’s and getting to my office just after 8am. Years of getting up at 5:15am with a bad attitude because I then had to jump into a freezing pool seem like a distant memory.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Happy New Year

Having a blog and then not updating it in months paints you into the corner of: do I list out everything thing I’ve done the past 4 months in bullet form with pictures interspersed so the whole world knows I’m alive and well and having super duper fun or pretend I wasn’t gone and HELLO JANUARY 16! HERE WE ARE!

I’d rather not do either and don’t have a ton of earth shattering news that most readers (the 4 of you out there) wouldn’t already know from the insta/facebook/twitter-ing/texting/whatsapping and real live talking that happens throughout the week.

Instead I’ll go with the headlines:

Bri lands a job at one of the best companies to work for and is still in the pinch-me-is-this-for-real phase

Logan turned 5 on December 12th! Celebrations ensued at a local bounce place where every child (and a few parents) cried at least once during the party. An undeniable success!!!

Christmas 2016: We have too many toys

Winter storm Helena – Snow way it’s going drop 8 inches in Raleigh
(and in a related story: Grocery stores and weather stations team up to cause first quarter sales to skyrocket)

On the workout front, I signed up for Chattanooga 70.3 in May after seeing the venue while cheering for Marty during his inferno-like race. Despite the god-awful heat, Chattanooga is a beautiful city that is not terribly far from us (7-8hrs). It's most likely going to be very competitive since the 70.3 Worlds take place there in September.  I'm hoping to be in decent shape for it, if I can get healthy. Which brings me to my whiney topic.

I seem to be getting silly-not-really-but-annoyingly-hurt too often.  In November it was my lower back. I unfortunately dealt with a spasm that almost made me pass out and that took a good 3 weeks to get over. A few weeks of light training (it was December after all) and now I’ve done something to my glute/piriformis/hip/IT band I mean really who knows and am now trying to get that back to working without hurting. I know much of this could be directly related to the fact that I have a desk job, that I’m completely inflexible, and I haven’t gotten regular massage since before Logan was born, so I’m taking steps to remedy all of this. I’m going to be getting regular massage again (already had one and another on the docket), I have been stretching and rolling like a mo-fo, and have made it to a few yoga classes at work. Fingers crossed I’m running again soon. I miss it. Swimming is going awesome right now; I’m likely in the best shape I’ve ever been in for January (and possibly most other months including years where I was much more serious) and biking is getting better (all this is thanks to my partner in crime, Carrie)

Overall report card: 2017 is shaping up to be a great year.