in the wee hours of the morning

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

She's lucky she's so damn cute.

I woke up at 5:30 this morning to chase the kitten (who is not really a kitten anymore but still behaves like one so she will always be the kitten in this household) out of my closet (where she enjoys pulling all the clothes off their hangers and turning everything into a giant cat nest) while shaking a jar of pennies and yelling "No!" and "Make better choices!" (I bet if my mom chased me through high school with a jar of pennies that my life would've turned out totally differently and instead of sitting here in a ridiculous robe surrounded by cats, I'd be married to a gazillionnaire and have a diamond-encrusted TT bike -- that would still be extremely lightweight and aerodynamic because I'd be able to pay scientists for that shit -- and a personal chef to create truffle-infused gels and bars for me and Ryan Gosling to personally strip me out of my wetsuit at every single race. Clearly my mom totally failed with my upbringing.)

And when I was done behaving like a complete and total crazy cat lady, I got back in bed and started thinking about Ironman. And how Louisville is less than two weeks away. And how there are so many chores to get done before I leave for Kentucky -- nutrition to re-stock (damn you, non-existent personal chef), a bike to pack, a cat sitter to book (because someone needs to shake the pennies while I am gone), a final chiropractor adjustment to schedule, a pre-race dinner venue to find, etc.

And then I started thinking about this year vs. last year and how everything is so different. The second Ironman definitely doesn't carry the same weight as the first (so if you're reading this and you're about to do your first, enjoy every single moment of it -- that may seem like bizarre advice since the ultimate goal is to finish as quickly as possible, but your first only happens once, and it truly is a special thing that changes the way you understand yourself and your potential).

Louisville almost feels like a job -- granted, a really awesome job -- that I know how to do. Training -- and all the things that accompany it, like no late nights and no drinking and eating a massive and slightly embarrassing amount of chicken breasts -- is normal, a part of my life and who I am. And I'm not waking up in panic and wondering, Holy shit, can I even do this?

That's not to say I haven't had stress dreams. I recently dreamt someone broke into my house and stole Minivan and Muppet and all of the ice cream. And then there was the dream that the Ohio River was completely polluted with cars floating in it -- I am told this is actually a valid fear -- and then my ex -- who is from southern Ohio so this is also totally valid paranoia -- showed up and basically the entire race was toxic. But overall, I feel much calmer than last year, much more mentally prepared.

Physically, I can tell I've grown as an athlete. Using numbers and zones alone, I know I'm in a good place. (Ride Around the Sound -- which I actually did on the correct date this year, thank you very much -- was hilly as eff. And I am not a climber. But I did it. And I was fine. And I recovered quickly. And this was all just a week after doing a 70.3.)

One of the few flat sections on this ride.

I've also made it a priority to do everything I can to stay healthy and avoid getting sick -- trying to sleep as much as possible, not go out late, avoid stress, take my vitamins, etc. Yes, I've gotten incredibly boring to be around (unless you are a cat), but I feel good.

And then there's life. Man, I look back at last year and what a shit show that was. So much pain, so much loss. But life is an endurance sport in and of itself -- you go through the rough patches, you dig deep, you find strength you didn't realize you had, you ask for help when you need it and eventually, one day, you come out on the other side. And you're incredibly grateful for everything you learned and everyone who was there through it all.

So onward to Louisville. And of course, bourbon at the finish line.

dress rehearsal

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

In our pre-race talk, Coach Mark called Sunday's race a dress rehearsal for Louisville. And as with any dress rehearsal (since I was a drama dork in high school, I'm totally an expert on this subject), there were glitches.

There was also one very pungent dead deer, four dead snakes (two of which made me scream, even though they were dead) and one unidentifiable mummified dead thing with a long tail and fur.

But I digress.

Even though this race was just practice, I still feel like I should've done better. It wasn't an A race by any means, but I still wanted a sub-7 finish. I'm trying really hard now not to dwell on my performance (or lack thereof) and instead learn from my "issues" and make a plan to fix them.

The Swim: Oddly, the best part of the day. I got kicked in the head and there was lots of contact, but I didn't panic. I stayed steady, swam in straight lines (at last) and focused on long strokes. Swim time: 49:27.0. (And actual time in the water was probably less than that -- the timing mat was up a hill just outside of transition instead of immediately at the water.)

Jazz hands! (Photo by Coach T.)

T1: Even though I dropped my goggles running to transition and then slipped and fell picking them up, this was still one of my better T1s -- no fumbling with the wetsuit. T1 time: 2:49.2.

Bike: Where do I begin? At Mile 17-ish, a yellow jacket hit me in the face, bounced off my cheek and landed on my left arm, where it inserted its ass into my flesh and stung me. I shook the bug off, but the stinger stayed in my arm the entire ride. And it was not fun. Also not fun: Losing my front water bottle and having to stop on the side of the road to retrieve it even though I had taped all my bottles with Hello Kitty duct tape for extra grip.

Then there was the pain in my neck and shoulders from the aero bars. And not being able to ride as aggressively as I normally would have because I was still getting used to Minivan and shifting in aero. And I got bad stomach cramps at Mile 50 that continued through the first few miles of the run. My heart rate was all over the place -- inconsistent effort, largely due to discomfort. Bike time: 3:45:54.9. (A big fat meh.)

T2: Fine, but a little slower than normal because I felt like shit and was sort of giving up hope. T2 time: 2:26.9.

Run: The cramps were bad. Really bad. But I kept running, popped two salt tabs and sucked down a bunch of Osmo. I started feeling better around Mile 4 and ended up being able to run the entire 13.1 without walking (although I did stop at aid stations for water and fuel and used a port-a-potty once). The only other issue (very minor) was the timing chip cutting into my ankle. And I probably could've pushed harder -- I was mostly in Z2 the whole time. (One sign that I should've worked more: I managed to have a very detailed conversation with some random guy about how I had tried to pee on the bike but failed because I kept thinking about the pee getting on my rear water bottles and then what if I drank my own pee and is that sanitary or would I die. We are now Facebook friends.) Run time: 2:27:11.8. (Also meh.)

Total: 7:07:49.8 -- in a small race like this, where almost everyone seemed to be prepping for IMAZ, I was at the tail end of the pack. Not going to lie: It was (and is) really hard not to feel like a gigantic loser. Also, my arm is swollen and hot and extremely itchy.

But I'm trying to be positive. I'm looking at the problems I had during the race and coming up with ways to address them before Louisville. The to-do list includes getting my bike fit readjusted, changing my hydration system (for the third time), making hydration a priority in the days leading up to the race and carrying salt on the bike.

And so we continue onward. And I thank god I'm not allergic to bees.

Best part of triathlon: The friends who don't judge you even after a tough day.

this isn't really happening

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

So I looked up my bib number today.

I'm in denial that this race is less than five weeks away. I'm also in denial that I have a 70.3 this weekend. (Have you noticed that I have completely and totally failed to mention that until just now? I'm telling you: Denial.)

And while we're at it: I'm not really in the 35-39 age group. That must be a typo. I also didn't wake up this morning with a sore throat. And the Loch Ness monster is real.


On another note, I went to the chiropractor today. (I usually go once a month, but as Ironman gets closer -- which of course, is not really happening because it's all just pretend -- I start going every other week.) Our conversation went like this:

Chiropractor: How's your body feeling?

Me: I crashed my bike Sunday.

Chiropractor: Didn't you crash last time you were here?

Me: Did I? Oh wait. Wait. Yes, I did!

Chiropractor: Stop crashing.


I am healing, though. And the road rash is really not that bad -- amazing what a little Neosporin and arnica can do. Although I will admit that it is totally gross when you pull cat hair out of your wounds.

Also, I may or may not have been sitting on the toilet when I took the above photo.


Recently, I was on the bus behind this:

Actually, at first, it was next to me and it didn't smell great so I didn't look at it because I've learned the hard way that sometimes it's really best not to engage, so I scrunched closer to the window, but then the seat in front of us opened up, and so it moved since apparently it didn't want to sit next to me either, and that's when I saw the incredible hair.

I was sort of hoping a litter of kittens would pop out and fall into my lap and it would be like this story about the two guys in Alabama who were fishing and randomly had two kittens swim up to their boat.

rough go. or something.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

I've been sitting here for the past five minutes, trying to figure out how to use the phrase "rough go" to describe the last week or so of training, but not being quite sure whether the correct use is "rough go of" or "rough go at." Also, the whole thing kind of sounds pornographic, so maybe I should really just scrap the phrase altogether.

Welcome to my brain.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that the last week or so of training has been challenging. Today I had a seven-hour ride on my schedule, and even though it was drizzly and wet outside, I couldn't bear the thought of spending seven hours on the trainer. So I drove up to Snohomish to ride the Centennial Trail (which is awesome and you should ride it). 

And all was going well until I slipped on wet railroad tracks and ended up on the ground. You know that moment when you look down and you're bleeding and you're shocked because holy shit there is blood and it's yours and then suddenly you feel light-headed and like you might pass out? Yes. That moment.

Just road rash and bruises.

Thankfully, a very kind woman (who unfortunately was wearing a Seahawks jersey so now I can't hate the Seahawks anymore, goddammit) named Melissa and her daughter Lexi stopped to help me. God bless them. They called 911, and the paramedics came, made sure nothing was broken and bandaged me up. And when I told the medics my age, wonderful Lexi exclaimed: "Wow! You look really young!" And when I took my helmet off, she said, "You're so cute!"

Pro tip: If you ever feel bad about yourself, I strongly recommend crashing your bike in Arlington and letting the affirmations flow.

Melissa and Lexi then drove me 20 miles back to my car. And we talked about horror movies and the mean girls in high school (Lexi starts her freshman year Tuesday) and how Taylor Swift is the best ever. I hope they win the lottery.

And that's just the most recent bad training story. Yesterday I got out of bed and put all my running gear on and started eating breakfast and then felt sick to my stomach, so I went back to bed (still wearing all my running gear -- Garmin and heart rate monitor included) and slept all day. When I finally got up and went for my run, I got caught in a thunderstorm and torrential downpour that was so bad I almost crawled under a semi trailer for shelter at one point.

At least I wore a black sports bra.

And I had another running fail earlier this week -- double workout last Tuesday, with a 3,300-yard swim in the morning and track in the evening. I didn't eat enough during the day and almost passed out at track. Coach T made me lie on the ground and then sent me home for dinner.

And then last weekend, there was a huge windstorm so I spent a total of 10 hours on the trainer -- four one day and six the next. Pretty sure my downstairs neighbors hate me. (And can you really blame me for wanting to ride outside today after 10 hours on the trainer last weekend?)

Yes, that is a hot dog.

And on top of all of this, I'm just downright exhausted. 

Ironman Louisville: Five weeks and counting.
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