Friday, September 19, 2008

It happens...(The Grand Columbian)

Coming into this race I was much less up-tight than I was before Coeur d'Alene. Michael might beg to differ on this especially since I was being quite the pill the day before the race... it happens...

I went through the usual pre-race rituals and all, but still didn't feel like I was going to do another Iron distance race. Since Coeur d'Alene I hadn't done any 5 and 2's (5 hr ride followed by a 2 hr run), I wasn't as diligent with my diet, I took more days off (consistently 1 day/week), and basically did my best to forget all about this race.
I had an issue with my bike that I stupidly waited until the night before the race to try to resolve. I had snapped my cable for rear shifting during a ride, took it to Fitness Fanatics to replace and ever since was riding with the constant inability to shift correctly. We figured that the cable housing was way too tight and I meant to take it in for them to fix again... but didn't quite get around to it. So I just trained knowing that I had to shift up twice and down once to get to the gear I needed to be in, I did this through several races as well. So, the evening before the race I had Michael try to help me fix it in the parking lot of T1. Try as he might though, he was unable to correct the cable... after some frustration (thank you, Michael, for being a trooper with my attitude) we decided that I was just going to have to race with it like that. It happens...

Our friend Sonny "IronNative" Sellars blessed us with his presence that night at our hotel, I got to hear more about "old times" when the boys were all bachelors. I often hear about the "before Amanda" days and Michael's mythical "double side aches" and other such stories of triathlon lore... pretty entertaining and great to ease nerves before a big day.

The morning came around and I eventually made it down to transition to get ready in the very cool and windy conditions. Michael was getting his bike all pumped up and noticed that some Speedy Reedy mechanics were making the rounds. I asked one if he would take a look at my gears and it didn't take him long to realize that it was going to take a bit more finesse than just turning the barrel on the rear derailleur. So, he whisked my machine away to his stand as I finished my prep. The announcer called 10 minutes so I went around the transition area to see how things were coming along with my bike. When I got there the PRO TECH was finishing up redoing the entire cable and housing as well as re taping my bar end! It was too screwed up for simple adjustments so this was the only alternative. He wouldn't accept any kind of payment so I have decided that Speedy Reedy will be receiving all the business I can give them via Internet purchases and the rare occasion I venture to the West Side.

I am finally feeling good about my bike and I'm ready to get in the water.

Once I got in the water and felt how incredibly nice it was I felt much better about my day. Things unfolded nicely for me in the swim. I ended up with a huge PR... perhaps it was the buoy line underwater, perhaps it was the lack of bodies all around me, perhaps the course was short (as Michael suggests), whatever reason, I was on my way to an Ironman overall PR.

I didn't know yet that I had a new PR (1:04), all I knew is that I felt good

My bike ride was a breeze thanks to the Speedy Reedy Super Mechanics! There were many hills and I cannot imagine completing this course without the ability to switch gears. I heard tell of a guy who did the course on a fixed gear, though, so it can be done... so they say. As always, around mile 90 I was ready to get off my bike and start running. Unlike many of my competitors, I was blessed with no flats, however, I did slip my chain going up the last climb of the course. Rookie mistake, and for my silliness I received greasy, black fingers. Oh, well, I was almost done so it didn't really matter, I was actually thankful for the time out of the saddle.

Getting ready to start the STEEP section of the hill of death

Once I made it into T2 Michael immediately asked me if I flatted... "No! I set a PR! Why do you think I flatted?" 6:35, not a huge PR, but one nonetheless. I, being one of those girls who reads between lines, thought Michael was calling me slow in some sly way. No, he was just wondering because many people showed up to T2 with tales of goat heads in their tires and double flats. The rest of my detailed conversation with Michael during T2 consisted of how extremely hot it was, warnings on what to do to stay at a good temperature, and how his race went. I was extremely happy to hear that Michael won his race. I felt like I was dragging him away from home on one of his rare work-free weekends just to sit around and wait for me. So it was a great relief that this trip actually made his season a little bit better.

It didn't take long for me to feel the effects of the heat. Even though I took a water bottle with me and filled it up with ice water at each aid station, I never seemed to get enough cooling. I poured it on my head, my face, my neck, my throat, and even though it didn't evaporate immediately, I still felt like I was running in a sauna... those of you who have raced in Hawaii are most likely laughing right now, but it's true. It becomes more and more apparent to me that for me to be successful in Ironman races, I need to get as far north as possible... has Ironman made it's way to Alaska yet? Someone let me know when it does, will 'ya?

I plodded through the first several miles with my eyes lingering at the mile markers for the next time through... what a terrible tease! I didn't think that I was going to make it there... my attitude frankly sucked rocks! Once I made it back to the city park on my way to the second lap, Michael saw that I was struggling and encouraged me to walk for a while. I walked, reluctantly, I was incredibly exhausted physically and emotionally and there was nothing to stop me from showing how I felt about my race at the time. I shed a few tears of disappointment in myself as a girl in black flew by me to take the third place female spot. She was absolutely cruising and ended up with the fastest run split... good job girl in black! It took a bit of walking before I got over myself and realized that this race wasn't going to be about placing, it was going to be about surviving and learning. So, walk/run I did. I was extremely lucky to have Michael, Sonny, and John flanking me on the run course. They drove on the road that paralleled the course and got out to cheer me and the racers that were around me. I would only stop to digest some banana or grapes and then kept running. I didn't decide to run straight to the finish until I got passed by another woman, this time is was a lady with an I-pod... That's why I ran the rest of the way, I was trying to catch I-pod lady because I knew that the race directors typically let slide a great many offenses.

-Side note- One of my biggest pet peeves is not wearing a helmet. This is supposed to be a huge rule, one in which if you're caught riding without a helmet before or after a USAT race you are subject to disqualification... if this were actually enforced rather than "warned" there would be a lot more slow people placing well... if you know what I mean! WEAR YOUR HELMETS!
Long story short, I came to the race thinking that because I did a certain time in Coeur d'Alene I was going to be able to do that or better here (that may have been true for the swim and bike, but no amount of e-caps would have given me the same run time) and left with a time almost an hour slower.

On the lighter side, I felt much better after the race. I stayed around for the laser light show, had some complimentary Mexican food, and even helped carry some of my gear to the car... all of these things I was unable to do earlier this year. The day after was much the same. I was pretty mobile, but actually took the next 4 days off completely... ahh, feels good. I don't really have any parting words of wisdom to share about what I have learned from this race, just things that I needed to learn for myself about give and take, good days and bad, and respecting a race. I do get peace of mind, though, when I reflect on my race and think "hey, it happens... to everyone... at some point... right?"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Past, Present, and Future

Blogging hasn't been the first thing on my priority list for a while. I have started a new job (by the way this is the dream: 3 x 10.5 hr days a week and a 4 day weekend) has changed my schedule a bit and has turned out to be good for training and completing day to day tasks, but leaves some areas behind. As a result I am going to condense a long time into a short paragraph.

Aug 2nd: 8 Lakes Leg Aches- awesome because 1.) at 17 miles into the ride we stopped at Coney Is park by my house and I got to drop off my extra clothes 2.) they feed you a bakery almost every 20 miles 3.) Riding to the start and back home got me 99 miles for the day! SWEET.
Aug 14th: got to ride the Hiawatha Trail with my dad, older and younger sisters, brother and niece. I had to pull my 7 yr old niece in a little kiddie trailer because she is a very daintily raised girl and doesn't do well with prolonged physical activity. No, there are no health issues, just lazy parents... sorry Alissa, but it's true, love 'ya ;-) Dad was up from Arizona so this was a special day.

This is me on one of the tressles pulling my niece in some pretty deep gravel.

Here we are at the end of our 15 mile, 1:35:30 ride... a stop or two along the way ...

Aug 15th and 16th: Spokane To Sandpoint Relay: awesome because 1.) I got in for free because Cherese had a girl on her team from fairchild that dropped out and needed me 2.) 17.3 miles of running and almost 30 of mountain biking and absolutely zero sleep (wait, that's not awesome) 3.) was more exhasted than after Ironman (a good feeling I suppose...) 4.) got to spend lots of time chatting with Cherese 5.) was so tired when I got home that I was deleriously talking to Michael about how it was great that we were on the same relay team when he was really home all weekend, this sort of thing actually happens frequently (CRAZY).

What's up now?

The Grand Columbian is rapidly approaching and I feel disorganized and frantic with my training. I have been getting my quality workouts in but pretty much Mon-Wed is crap, garbage, easy, short, why-even-bother stuff. Thursdays are my threshold workout days for running and Sat/Sun usually are my long days for it (in accordance with Dr. Jack Daniels' marathon training program). My swim training has taken a nose dive since I am no longer able to make it to the Master's swim workouts. The workouts are on the chalk board but if I don't have someone doing it with me I have very little drive to perform or even get to the pool. My biking is doing okay with weekly long rides and a shorter, faster workout somewhere in the week as well.

Today's workout was a Iron-distance swim in the back yard followed by a threshold run of 1 mile w/u, 4x 10-12 minutes T w/ 2 min rests, and 1 mile c/d. Good temps for today, wind made the swim fun (love the wave action!) and the run pleasant. My times were bad today for my T pace on the back side of the lake, but my effort was consistent with T paced work... not one of my best days. It's workouts like today that are great training because you know you didn't quit.

-Side Note- if anyone cares to know distances of Medical Lake: starting from our house, if you go to Turtle Island (start of trailblazer) and back twice then to Waterfront and back, that's 3800M... cool, huh?

Races still to come: Titanium Man Olympic; Great Northwest Fall Bike Tour, Newport; Labor Day family fun run 5K; FAFB half marathon; Grand Columbian; and whatever I decide to do after that :-)

See you out there!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

FAFB 4th Annual Clear Lake Triathlon

As last week came to a close I began to get pretty excited for this race. I turned down a day of water skiing, tubing, sun, and great food at my office’s staff party at Priest Lake to do this race, so that shows you how much I like this one. Usually this race starts at 10 a.m. but this year they decided to start it at 8 instead. I am used to getting up really early for work so an early day on Saturday wasn’t going to be a big deal at all. We had family from Alaska to entertain on Friday night so that put a pinch on the night before being quiet and restful. Michael and I putted around the lake Friday night at about 9 p.m. then got all cleaned up and ready for bed.

Jen is on the left, then me, Michael in the middle with Cherese on the Right.

The morning came and I was up like a flash. I have no idea where it came from but somehow ever since college as soon as I hear the 5:10 a.m. KISS 98.1 broadcast on my alarm clock, I spring out of bed and go along my groggy way. I ate my Franz whole grain white toast with Western Family peanut butter and Dole banana slices, brushed my teeth with my Sonicare toothbrush (because no toothbrush electric or manual can compare to its cleaning ability) and began my ritual of packing and preparing. Michael was going to drop our guests off at his parents’ house so I took the bikes and my gear bag and he got there a bit after me.

Shortly after the start. Michael's at the top of the pic, and I'm doing my best to keep it close.

Cherese and I schmoozed a bit while getting our stuff out of the cars and when Michael got to the race start the transition set-up started. We were packed in the transition area pretty tightly. I was between two Gregs and Michael got a ton of space because the two people to his left didn’t show… sure, let the guy who is not only a shoe-in to win but will tear everyone’s legs out from under them have the most space in transition… sounds fair to me ;-) Cherese brought extra swim caps with an American Flag and FAFB on the side so Michael and I could fly our colors on the swim too. The three of us wore matching tri suits all from this year’s Nationals team. It was fun to hear all the whispers among the athletes. “Did you know he is actually on the Air force Triathlon Team?” “yeah, I think he is actually a professional” “That guy always wins this race, I think he went to the Olympics once” (that last one was from a previous year when Michael wore on the of suits from the Worlds competition).

Third out of the water, with Cherese right in front of me. You can still see her wake.

After finalizing everything I headed to the water to get a little wet and wait for the pre-race meeting to end. I knew that I was going to have a pretty good swim compared to previous years since that has been improving well but I was worried about my bike and run so I was just anxious to get started and see how things would play out. When the gun went off I started out like a fiend and almost instantly felt like I was going to either cramp up or throw up. I decided that I was going to try to sustain this effort. Mostly this thought came about because Dr. Ken Collins told me I need to push harder in open water swimming because my times were not reflecting my abilities. So, I adopted the “I’ll show you push hard” line of thinking and pushed my guts out. This continued to the turn around, a medium sized pontoon boat, at which time I changed my mind and thought that I would rather not be on the verge of vomit as this can sometimes hurt swim efficiency. My swim went well enough that I was able to see Michael the whole time and Cherese was only about 15-30 seconds ahead of me. I tell you, this woman is AMAZING! She swam maybe a handful of times, rode her bike a few times less, and run sparingly since Ironman Coeur d’Alene… LAST YEAR! And she rocked every part of this race!

I'm about to enter "the gravel zone." It didn't bother Michael, but nobody else liked it.

If you read my Tiger Tri post you will understand this next part better. You know those pins at chuck-e-cheese’s with all the small balls that kids like so much… imagine those balls are little bits of gravel. That is what our transition area was in!! I got through T1 like I was walking through broken glass, it was terrible! My wetsuit came off well though. Michael told me after Tiger that I had to pretend I was going to tear my wetsuit off like I hated it. Ever see SpiderMan 3 with the black Spider man? Like that! So I did, and it worked, good advice I think. I otherwise needed improvement with getting my gear on squeezing between two mountain bikes and associated gear.

After tearing that Orca Apex off, I'm ready to hit the road and see what I can do.

As I exited transition I could see Cherese about 100M ahead of me. I powered up the small hill and began my two mile long pounce on the only female ahead of me. When I finally caught up to her we exchanged greetings and smiles, that’s something Cherese is wonderful at, cheering with honest encouragement, not just to be courteous. The rest of the ride went well also. I passed the one team that was ahead of me but got passed by one male about 5 miles in and another male just before the finish. I biked pretty hard and was wondering if my running legs could catch up in time.

Pictures normally don't do a good job of showing how steep a hill is. It's steeper than it looks and it looks steep! If it bogs a hill runner like Michael, then imagine how tough it is for the rest of us. I think I'm smiling because I'm almost at the top!

T2 was much better. I had barriers on my feet this time so I was a lot faster and the mountain bikes that were in the way before were still out on the course so I had plenty of room to rack my bike. It turned out that my biking legs didn’t beat my running legs to transition after all and they were there and ready for when I needed to put them on. I felt really good running, which was a relief after several weeks of trying to recover and then trying to race the run at Tiger and failing miserably. I passed one of the males who beat me to T2 and got passed by a team runner in the process. I was actually running time out of the second place male as he was much closer after the turn around then when he started running. By the time I got to the turn around Michael was already finished… I like to think about where he is when I’m on the course, it provides a good distraction. Later we hijacked his training journal and discovered that he not only smashed the course record, but it was his sixth of the year and tenth win!

Oh, we've got sequential numbers. The mathlete sure likes that sort of thing. He's not aware (yet) that I gave him bunny ears. It's a good shot of our matching uniforms.

I am a complete ditz when it comes to trying to get my splits accurately so that’s why there are no times here for viewing pleasure. All I can say is that I finished with a time that was almost 3 minutes faster than last year and I am encouraged because I improve more each year. Yes, I did take the first place female slot with Cherese McCoy just 4 minutes behind me. Again, I am amazed and a little worried about her talents. I truly believe that if this woman were to dedicate any time to training she would be one of the fastest females in the area! What a natural! There were a lot of friends at this race as well. Most of the Master’s team that we have been swimming with was there. Jen showed off her Tri-Fusion uniform for the second time… she is a great source of energy and will be missed terribly while on her deployment!

Jen is always full of energy (as far as we know) and good for a smile.

Michael’s mom came to the race and she was armed with her digital camera so there will be pictures soon. Michael and I do not own a camera, we use disposable, so that is why I never have pictures on my blog… and I’m not a picture pirate either. Rest assured though, one day there will be photo documentation of my exploits.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Airman Bergquist's First Triathlon

That’s right; I’m an Airman First Class in the Air National Guard. The first weekend of August will be my first Drill but I won’t be leaving for Basic Training in San Antonio until January… so I’ve got to get all the racing in for the rest of the season that I can before I start my 5 month process of getting out of shape.

Michael hinted that he was interested in the Tiger Triathlon a few weeks ago and I decided that I should be okay by now to race again after Ironman. My training has been meager and easy since and I know it’s time to get back up to speed for the rest of the season so this race would be a good start.

Because of Michael’s work schedule we couldn’t camp the night before so I got up at 3:30 (to my surprise, Michael got off early and was home already), I strapped on the red, white, and blue suit that Michael brought back for me from Estonia, we packed up and I pretty much gunned it to Colville. Getting through Spokane turns out to be a lot faster at 4 in the morning when all the lights are flashing and there’s no one on the roads so we made pretty darn good time and got to the race start a little after 6 am! Michael has had a BAD habit this year (love ‘ya though, hubby!) of showing up to races just in the nick of time and I’m just not wired that way! To me, if we are on time that means that we are at least half an hour late and I absolutely hate being late… Michael has to deal with my nervousness, tapping, and grumpiness when we are late to races (or anything for that matter) so I know that when he’s with me he truly tries to rush.

Once everything was in place for the race start and I was getting warmed up for the swim I started feeling the excitement of racing. At Ironman is was a lot more nerves than excitement so it felt good to get revved up like that. My arms were feeling good, this was a very good sign for me since most of my swims have been more of a struggle to get it started and done than to have a good workout. Cherese has been working really hard for us at the Master’s team and she was there watching so I wanted to show her that I was capable of a decent open water swim.

I started out faster than I normally do with more kicking, and I was soon in the front group. By the first buoy it was a woman (turned out to be a 13 year old from the SAS swim team), a lean and burly looking team guy wearing a full length Speedo Fastskin, and I out in the lead. I don’t know the distance to the next athlete since looking back in the swim doesn’t really give an advantage. The order stayed the same through the swim and I came out of the water in 14 minutes and change. I am very “princess and the pea” and getting out of the rocks was pretty aggravating to my poor little feet so I took my time to navigate the big ones and get out. I have been having issues with getting my wetsuit off and today was no different. My transition of over 2 minutes shows that I either need a lot more practice with wetsuit stripping or one that fits better.

Once out of transition and onto my bike I began to settle into a pace but was still a bit wobbly and twitchy. It seems that each time I go from swim to bike it takes a while to get my bearings and feel the balance on the bike. The “precarious machine” that Phil Liget and Paul Sherwin always call TT bikes was what I was thinking about for the first 4 miles of the ride. I was trying to relax myself but I still had the same feeling you get right after you have had to sprint away from a loose dog that just saw you and wants to play. It didn’t take Vicki long to ride by and say “nice swim”… with a bike and run like she has my goal at this point was to try to hold off more girls from passing.

The ride was a fun one and I felt fast with my race wheels on. I passed several guys and didn’t remember if the 13 year old who beat me out of the water also beat me out of transition so after about half of the ride I decided she must be behind somewhere… I may be in second. Other than small local sprints and the FAFB triathlon, I’m not used to being in this place. It’s pretty enjoyable I would have to say. It’s easy for me to put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well and I was working a lot of this ride to try to maintain or even extend my lead. The ride finally ended, for being almost all downhill it actually seemed like a long time… that’s a testament to how little I have been training. Overall it took me about an hour and 16 minutes.

The second transition was strange for me. I haven’t done this race before and I was a bit lost getting into the transition area with all the flags and the arrows pointing the opposite direction (for the run). I tried to stop where the dismount sign was, but they apparently wanted me to go further to the mat… sure, I can do that. I took a while to get everything changed and ready, but I finally got to running. I don’t have a lot of years under my belt and really don’t practice transitions besides ones in my basement or at races so, unlike my husband, I really don’t have every movement down to a science. As a result I end up taking more time than I really should. “Oh, well” I though to myself, “I will just be more rested for the run.”

Starting the run was fine because you’re in the parking lot, but then you get the grassy field. Let me just say I HATE RUNNING ON UNEVEN SURFACES! This goes back to the “Princess and the Pea” story. I have knock knees to begin with and when I run where there are divots, cracks, large rocks, even gravel my legs think it’s time for feet fight! Between my knees bumping into each other and my ankles rolling almost constantly I didn’t have a lot of drive to work the “smooth” sections. That’s not to mention that the “smooth” sections have steep hills up or down and I absolutely suck right now with run power and efficiency. My run training before Ironman was long runs on roads with some threshold workouts on a treadmill and after Ironman it consisted of short runs on roads or the Medical Lake trail with absolutely no speed or quality work. Yes, it is my fault for not being prepared for this run and I paid for it with a 58 minute 6.55 mile! I ended up pouring more water on me than I drank, but I’m not sure that had a significant impact on the run… no, I’m pretty sure it is my sucky training that I have to thank for my time.

I did enjoy the race as a whole, though. Being my first time doing this one, I set a PR! Finishing the race maintaining my placing felt pretty good, I wish I could have offered Vicki better competition, but that’s just not in the cards right now. It seemed like everyone had a good time at the race, I didn’t hear about any disappointments. I got to hear all about Michael’s race. It had been many years since he’s done this race and he wanted to make a good showing. I would say that he achieved his goal, battling with a few fellas along the way to end up first overall with a new course record to boot. Check out his blog post on this race for the details on the events of his day. I’m also glad that Michael and I got to socialize a bit more today. He usually ends up needing to expedite A.S.A.P for work so it’s a treat to get to talk with people and even stay for awards. Great job to everyone who raced and thank you so much to those of you who volunteered, I really appreciated the water, Michelle!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2008

My taper for this race was a welcomed break. I may not have trained myself as well or as consistently as my competitors throughout the year, but it was too late at this point to worry about that. So I eased up my mileage and intensity to a mere two mile run Friday and Saturday and just enjoyed the extra time in my schedule to visit family, clean my house, and do things that people normally do on a regular basis. Michael and I decided that we were going to pig out pretty much all Saturday to store up calories. I have to admit that I was worried I would have bathroom problems for race day with this plan because that seems to be the case with overeating.

We stayed at the Super 8 in Coeur d'Alene the night before the race but didn't get to sleep until almost 10 p.m. Surprisingly I slept pretty well that night besides a few random wake-ups to check the time. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. like I usually do for a 7 a.m. race start. I drank something similar to a 5 hour Energy (I don't remember what it was called) and made some tea. A hot drink always gets the "juices flowing" and after a night of binge eating I needed it. I ate breakfast, got myself ready and got Michael up and ready and we were out the door and on the road by 4:55.

We were able to get a relatively close parking spot and we made our way to body marking and the transition area with plenty of time to spare. We pretty much followed each other around the whole time making sure we had all the things we needed and had used the restroom as much as we needed. After we got our wetsuits on we headed to meet the McCoy's, our cheering squad and watcher of the pump and Michael's wallet. They were awesome to have there, the whole family is always rooting us on and dolling out energy in buckets!

We finally got to the swim start and got in the water and found that it was very comfortable... YES!! This is the temp of Medical Lake pretty much and warmer than what Michael was used to. Oddly, knowing that Michael was happy with the water temperature made me feel like it was perfect. I always know that if Michael can tolerate the temp, I will easily be able to by virtue of my protective layer. We were talking with a few other swimmers and heard the announcer say that we would start soon. I was waiting for a countdown because I will typically start my watch at the "5" or "10" during the countdown just so I don't have to worry about getting my watch started. I never heard a countdown, just a big "BANG" and we were off before I was sure I had pushed my start button hard enough. My pause time caused me definite detriment because as I made sure my watch was started, I discovered that I was not starting out fast enough to stay our of the masses... here comes trouble...

Almost immediately I was pushed under the water while having my foot pulled. We have all experienced the "Oh, my gosh! I'm DYING" feeling in the water at some point, but up until that point I never thought that I would actually drown. There were so many aggressive people around me that crossing to the outside would have given me more trouble than staying where I was. I decided to launch myself out of the water with each breath and try to stay on the toes of the most aggressive swimmer I could find. I figured that s/he would rather kill people in front of him than worry about the person behind him. Rounding the turns was like driving in Houston traffic. Abrupt stops made for angry swimmers, but I did hear one competitor shout "Relax everyone, this will be a long day, lets just make it through the swim". That was a comfort and at that point I knew I would make it, somehow. The second lap was worlds better than the first. Cloud cover and fewer people made the rest of the swim pretty comfortable. Other than a gnarly wetsuit burn (which I usually don't get, and I eve layered the glide on) I came out unscathed. 1:12:33 (10th in age group) down and many more hours to go.

I ran to the wetsuit strippers but didn't have my right hand out yet so the stripper had to help with that and then she threw me on the ground and stripped the rest of me booties and all. I got my bag and had a pretty quick time through T1 (by my standards) and even saw one of my past dental hygiene instructors and current colleague as I am an instructor myself, Lisa, who gave me a pat on the back as I was going through (she volunteers each year). I got to and on my bike and made it onto the course without falling off or clipping the wheel of another rider (I have bad dreams about doing that). 4:45 T1

The energy of the crowds was amazing. I was so pumped to be cheered like that! I will have to say that my whole ride was pretty uneventful. The miles clicked by and I really didn't spend time looking at the clock. I wanted to enjoy the course and the volunteers and the spectators as much as I could. It was really important to me to keep a positive attitude because I remember my other Ironman races being torture on my butt and legs, and I was out there for over 7 1/2 hours then! I did keep an eye on my speed though because all I wanted to do was average 17mph so that I could secure a marathon run rather than a half walk preceded by a half run. I played tag a lot on the course, I was lighter than some people going up the hills and my bike has the highest roll out distance compared to most bikes so I passed a lot of people going down hills coasting. All in all I really enjoy the bike course, the hills let you get out of the saddle enough so your whole underside doesn't go numb and there is enough downhill to make you feel like you get to go fast. Throughout the ride I managed to stay hydrated on just water and I had some perpetuem gel mixed as well as a few bananas and my secret weapon... two pop-tarts, chili cheese Frito's, salsa chips, and salt and vinegar chips. The secret weapon fit in a Ziploc bag that I carried with me so I didn't have to stop at special needs to get it. 6:34:24 ride 17.04mph (12 in age group)

Getting off my bike was fun too, because I didn't recognize the feeling that I had. I remembered almost not being able to move my legs at my last two tries, but this time was different. I flung my leg off the back of my bike and ran through transition to my wonderful volunteer. I kept the same socks on that I did during the ride, which was not in my plan, but I figured that if my feel weren't hurting I wouldn't take the time to change socks. I did take the time to go to the port-o-potty though. After 6 1/2 hours of hydrating I needed to drop a pound or two... so I did. 4:22 T2.

I felt amazing starting the run. My legs felt oddly fresh, like I hadn't even rode my bike! The energy of the crowd once again pulled my along and I was all smiles soaking it all in. I had friends from High school there as well as some of my students at the hygiene school and a my mentor from school as well. I saw the McCoy's near the dyke road and they were a wonderful encouragement as well. It was from Mike McCoy that I discovered Michael was about an hour ahead of me. I had been wondering if he was behind me because I didn't ever see him and I knew he was planning on taking the first two events crazy easy. I didn't see Michael until almost 3 miles into my race. I shouted "Good job, Michael, I love you!" at him and I thought that I startled him because he almost didn't see me and all he gave back to me was a grunt. I knew he wasn't doing well.

I cruised through aid station after aid station taking water and a tiny sip of gel at each one. The miles just fell off my legs and I was still feeling good. It wasn't until I came out of own the second time that I started to add time to my splits. I ran by gauging my effort through feel rather than using a heart rate monitor or a GPS to run at a certain pace. I really didn't feel like I was running differently, but I knew it was taking longer to complete each mile. At mile 22 I decided that I didn't want to take any more gel or food of any kind. I switched to coke and water only for the last few miles and it at least settled my stomach a bit. Another thing I did differently this time was not having to walk. I never stopped at a potty or even walked to take in more fluids. I ran the entire marathon and I was proud of myself for it. 4:16:49 marathon (8th in age group).

In my dreams I wanted to qualify for Hawaii, but that's every one's dream... more realistically, I wanted to come in top five... actually I came in 8th, an hour and 2 minutes after the winner of my age group. I am still very happy with my performance, I learned a lot from it and will do better next time as a result. Right now I feel excellent. Michael always says I recover very fast but I always wonder if it is just that I don't push myself hard enough. If I am able to run up and down stairs the morning after the race, I should have gone harder... maybe next time I will race myself into a coma to make up for all the years of hurting I have missed.

What a great event, day, experience, and adventure. It all went by too fast and now I'm looking for my next one... perhaps Arizona... Florida... Lanzorate maybe ;-) Here's to this race and the many more to come!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The time has come again...

For months of training to boil down to one day. Sunday will be my third Ironman and this time is much different from my previous two attempts. There are many improvements that I have made in my fitness and my hope is that there were enough for me to realize my goals. I have become more accustomed to open water swimming and swimming with a large group of people. Living on a lake helped that a lot, I suspect. I have also determined that I can push much harder swimming than I believed I could. Somehow I can push hard enough to feel as though I will vomit and then get out of the water and only need a moment or two before I feel fine again. I have also seen a great improvement in technique thanks to the help of our FAFB master's swim team coach, Cherese McCoy. Her constant support and encouragement were always great motivators.

I can't say too much about the bike except that I have been on it longer and more frequently this year. I spent more time in the basement on the Computrainer this winter than I ever want to remember. I have also done more consistent long bricks and single long rides to build endurance... unfortunately I still struggle with speed and power. Riding on the Computrainer was my only way of knowing my power and most of the time I struggled to keep it over 160... I'm not kidding either. When I was able to get outside I did some hill work for the first time ever. Once a week I would do hill repeats on a course Michael picked and I did see improvement on my ability to maintain a speed that was difficult for me before. I have no illusions about the bike ride in Coeur d’Alene; I know it won't be as fast as I want, but no doubt a lot faster than my 7.5 hour rides in '04 and '05.

My biggest time save I predict will be the run. During my last attempts at Ironman I hadn't ever done a marathon and my times in general were something I can now laugh at. I have learned that it's easier to keep running than walk and then try to run again. I have learned that you don't want to try to eat an entire power gel at each mile of the run. I have learned that sponges under the hat and ice down the bra can really cool you off fast and Vaseline around the seams on a tank top really helps decrease overall pain. And, no matter what happens on the run, I should be able to PR :-)

This year is also important for me because Michael and I get to share the experience together. We have both worked very hard and made many sacrifices to get to do this. I love how accomplishing something with my husband brings us closer together and I'm sure Ironman will be no different. I am lucky to be a part of team Bergquist. As the days go on and the big one gets closer I will be visualizing the race over and over as well as going though "what if" situations in my head so I'm prepared for the unexpected.

So, as I wrap up my almost year synopsis, I reflect again on my past Ironman races and realize that all in all this truly is a fun day and enjoying it will also be on my list of goals. Here's to a wonderful race this weekend and in the future.