Friday, November 19, 2010

Chasing the high

Once again it is clear to me why I have chosen triathlon as my hobby.  It is the closest I will get to giving birth again.  We have 5 beautiful children and our family is complete but I miss a lot of the aspects of pregnancy and birth.  Thankfully I am finding fulfillment and similarities in triathlon training and racing and while it is an expensive sport it at least I won’t have to send Dori (bike) to college.
The day of my first half Ironman was challenging, overwhelming and a true euphoric high.  Having family and great friends congratulate me at the finish and tell me how amazing I was after working very hard for 8 long hours brought back memories of my births.  Like a natural birth an endurance sport is mostly mental.  You can do what you think you can do and just when you think you are done your body surprises you.  In the middle of it you find humor in odd places, tears come easily and everyone is your friend.  When people start yelling you are almost done you don’t really believe it until you see it for yourself.  The afterglow is a haze, the pain is there but so is the smile and relief of a job well done.
You sleep hard and heavy and when you wake up you feel the previous day in parts you didn’t know you had.  You have to remind yourself that yes, you really did it and a little piece isn’t sure until you hold something tangible, proof.  The next day you don’t sleep nearly as well and when you wake you find more parts you didn’t know you had now ache and cry out.  Then the hunger hits, hard!  If you don’t get food somebody is going to get hurt.  And not just some food but a LOT of food and you want food you wouldn’t normally eat.  Everything fried with a frozen beverage on the side.  This goes on for days and it’s OK because you deserve it!  There is no guilt, you only hope it will stop before you grow out of all your clothes. 
As the days grow less people mention the amazing accomplishment and it feels a little less special but you know you have achieved something few people do and you look forward to doing it again.  It’s a new high you start to chase.  Good thing it takes so long and is so damn hard or I’d be chasing this high every day.
Time to train…..

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Race Report

Pre-race routine:

Set alarm for 4am but couldn't sleep past 3:30 so I got up. Everything was pretty much ready to go. Aleve and water at home and Odwalla bar and coffee in the van. I wasn't able to finish either. Drove to Conroe with Ken and Dad.

Event warmup:

Walked Dori to transition, froze my toes off in sandals, peed, got wetsuit on and headed to the swim. Had a moment when I asked Ken WTF am I doing here? "You have a race today, you got this"  My Dad had my Rescue Remedy so I found him and wished more than ever that stuff came in ready to drink bottles.  Got in the water just to wade because it was warmer, burried my toes in the sand to try to thaw them out, bitched about how cold it was.

Swim - 37:40

Really looked forward to this swim after seeing the course the day before.
However, the run and dive was pretty chaotic and I got my goggles knocked off almost immediately. The demons started hovering but I shoo'd them away once I started counting. Sighting was a bitch with the fog, I just hoped the pink caps in front of me knew where they were going. Once we made it out of the cove it opened up but was still tricky to sight for a while with the fog and glare from the sun. Got into a nice groove for several hundred yards then started seeing people walking! I really didn't want to walk so I swam until my hands hit the bottom, when I walked I could really feel it in my legs and I knew I needed them so I'd start swimming as soon as it got deep enough. The swim was over too soon.

What would you do differently?:

Get rid of the demons already, start counting sooner.



Came running out of the water, saw the strippers and pointed to a 12 or 13 year old boy and said "you!" His face just lit up and he pulled it off in one yank!
HR was up and walked to bring it down. Overwhelmed having to put on so many clothes when we usually just wear what we swim in here in Houston. I tried it all on the night before but it was still tricky.  Added cycling jersey, arm warmers and the gloves were hard to get on wet, numb hands.
The good news is the wardrobe decisions were spot on!

What would you do differently?:

Put helmet on FIRST. My hands were getting cold fast and I put my goves on before buckling the helmet - and could not get it buckled then tried to leave w/o fastening my shoes.

Bike - 3:48

I had to keep my mind in the game. The first thing I noticed before I even hit Walden is my arms hurt, maybe the swim? Not sure but my biceps were sore from the get go.
Had a ticking sound coming from the front but that stopped after a few miles. The next thing I noticed is I had a 0 cadence reading. I was going to have to do this ride off feel, I had no HR monitor and no cadence. Ok, ok, be smart Keri.
Stopped at the first potty and a chick was coming out - perfect timing!
After the stop I realized my front break was rubbing and there was grass wedged between my brake pad and the tire which had to be from transion so I've been riding this whole time like this. I leaned over, pulled the grass out and pulled the break pad away from the tire.

Played leap frog with a cutie named Tina in a pink helmet for a while.
Average speed at the turn around was 16.2. Turn around went well, got the hand up and no stopping to pee. There were folks waiting in line so I was glad I didn't have to stop.

I had my nutrition plan on the side of my aero bottle held down with rubber bands and I stuck to it. Electrolyes, Fig Newtons & Chomps. I didn't eat the last Fig Newton, just didn't sound good so I started on my Chomps - Strawberry, yum!

Miles 35-45 were long. Once I gave up on the cadence fixing itself I changed the computer over to distance and the numbers weren't changing fast enough for me. Saw a gal on the side of the road and asked if she was ok, she said "I"m done" I felt bad for her.
By 40 miles I had to pee, BAD! I was looking for a potty but there wasn't one in sight, I tried and tried to pee on the bike but just couldn't make it happen. I thought about pulling over and just squatting but there were too many cyclists and not enough coverage. I had to go so bad I was in pain. Then a potty! YAY! The Boy Scouts were awesome bike holders. I had to wait in line but that gave me the opportunity to stretch the cramp I had in my left hamstring. The guy in front of me was named Peter and we promised whoever finished first would put the others name on the massage list :)
Back on the bike and the odometer is at 49 and I tell myself 6-7 more miles. Then I realize a few miles later it was 45, not 49! The wind was rough at this point and I was really struggling with speed. I would start freaking about the run to come but would remind myself "just ride your bike, you are on a bike ride, ride your bike" One thing at a time. The last 5 miles flew!

What would you do differently?:

Double check my bike for cadence and stuff like that, it's my responsibility. Learn to pee on the bike.



Had to take off bike jersey and arm warmers so that took more time.
My lips were killing me so I needed to find my Burts Bees lip balm in my back pack. Changed shoes, grabbed balm, gu, chomps, hat and number.

What would you do differently?:

Have lip balm out? Didn't need chomps. Run.

Run - 3:27

So we all knew this was going to be hard. I have a stress fracture in my left heel, was on crutches and had a boot for a few weeks, started running again and it got much worse. I hadn't run at all for 3 weeks and not run any real training runs for 6 weeks before this race.

The first lap went well but I have to admit all the off road stuff was a bit more than I bargained for.
I ran for the first 28 minutes then walked the 2nd aid station where I took 2 Aleve and started back on my electrolytes.
I made the first 4.36 loop in the time we were hoping for. I'd see signs with big numbers like Mile 10 and say to myself "Not right now but it will be"
Mile 5 the cramping started in my quads and hamstrings, for the next 2 miles I was in a dark place. Thoughts of DNF came to mind. I was going to finish the 2nd loop and throw in the towel.
Mile 7 brought animal crackers. I don't like animal crackers and they were not part of my plan but at this point I didn't have much to lose. I washed 2 down with Gatorade and felt awesome almost immediately. Kim came to mind, she told me there would be good miles and to look for them and while in the moment I recognized THIS was a good mile.
From then on I was going to finish this race. I was doing a 9/1 walk that would turn to 8/2 and sometimes 7/3+. I realized this was not working for me so the new plan was to run as long as I could and walk only when I had to. The good(ish) news is when I walked I felt sick so I didn't want to walk. Running was so painful it distracted me from my stomach.

The third loop was easier mentally than the 2nd. At one point I came to the conclusion I was going to finish this race and not have my times, I wasn't going to make the cut-off but that was OK, the numbers didn't matter anymore. At mile 11, just past the marker I tripped and bit it pretty hard on the pavement, both feet cramped up bad, I could feel my toes twisted. I kept saying outloud 'you're ok, you're ok, get up, you're ok' Took some skin off my knuckles and forearms but not bleeding or anything.

A bit further down the road I got my last animal crackers and met Carol. She was wearing a HRTC suit, she asked how much time we had and I told her I didn't know. She said she didn't want us to miss the cut off and I understood what she was saying but at the same time knew I couldn't go any faster. I told her to go if she could and she did after a bit. I got to the street leading up to the finish and ran the rest of the way. The folks walking to their cars were awesome, they knew how long I had been out there. One guy saw me and said "Now THATS a long day" My cheering section was screaming their heads off. I saw Jusitn and Ken take off to head out to the finish. Justin started screaming "Blah Blah Seconds, Run Keri Run!"
I kicked it in with all I had.
Turns out Carol got there first asked Ken and Justin if they were waiting for Keri, she told them I had to hurry and they had to let me know to kick it to make the cut off.

Everyone was there to hug and congratulate me. I wasn't sure Karen was going to let me go.

What would you do differently?:

Not get a stress fracture so I could keep with the training plan.

Post race

Warm down:

I told Ken right away we had to get the bike, I was afraid if I stopped it would be bad. I walked to transition, Travis the boy scout helped me pack my bag and carried it while I walked the bike. Handed the bike off to Ken, lost my balance and Justin caught me. I'm seeing tweeties and stars and I hear some guy say "Is she seizing?" I say no. The next thing I know somebody is asking about an ambulance and I tell them I am NOT getting in an ambulance. They bring a stretcher over with their equipment on it, I'm laying on the ground with my feet in the air. I told them to take the stretcher away and they told me it was just for their equipment. I said over and over "I'm fine, I'm fine" but they kept asking me stupid questions like have I eaten anything today. Seriously, I've been racing for 8 hours what do you think? But at this point I can't say anything. I can feel the blood rushing back to my upper body and that is not a fun feeling. I wasn't enjoying this ride at.all. Some oxygen and a banana and I was sitting up again. Our awesome friend Karen ran down to get our van so I wouldn't have to walk.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I exceeded my fitness.
My furthest run in training was 8 miles before my injury in September. My body wanted to give up many times.

Event comments:

I will do another 70.3 but I promised myself out there I would not race in this physical condition again. I am ready to sign up for 2011!

I also had THE best cheering section, they were LOUD, had great signs and were super cute too.
Rode home with the whole crew including my Dad.  Told Ken to drop us off at the house and pick up some Carl's BBQ (it sounded soooooo good!)  Hopped in the icebath for 20-25 minutes.  Replied to some texts, took a hot shower,  got out for some awesome BBQ and a Cherry Coke!  I was surprised how good I felt, my legs were stiff but not cramping.  Took some Aleve and hit the sack hard around 9pm.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tick Tock

12 hours and counting folks.  I managed to keep myself pretty busy today.  My wonderful husband encouraged me to get a pedicure which was long overdue so now I have bright red toenails with stars on them!    When I got home I browned some Italian sausage and put it along with some basil and vodka tomato sauce in the crock pot to simmer all day (our traditional pre-tri meal).  I met my great friend Karen on my way to packet pick up, we enjoyed a cup of coffee outside in this beautiful weather and she did a great job keeping me distracted.  Packet pick up was uneventful but it was good for me to see the swim course, I am pretty excited about the swim!
Today the emotions have been close to the surface.  This morning Ken and I were watching You Tube videos of various Ironman events and just about every one had me on the verge of tears.  Tomorrow is a big day.  I’ve thought about this race for many months and the realization it is here is a bit overwhelming.  I don’t want to let anyone down.  My Dad gets in from California later tonight, my husband, kids, awesome friends and my coach have expectations and so do I.
The reality is I can only control what I can.  There is so much in a race I cannot control and success means rolling with the punches, taking what the day gives me and making adjustments.  I am more excited than anxious.  My coach and I have discussed last minute details.  I’ve made my wardrobe decisions, practiced putting everything on and gone over my nutrition.  Ken took great care of Dori cleaning her up, changing her tires and greasing her chain while I was out today and she is ready to go!
My wave gets the gun at 7:08, I look forward to the swim as I navigate and glide through the water.  The bike will bring challenging hills and gorgeous scenery.  The run will bring my family and friends likely screaming their heads off and encouraging me to just keep going. 
The messages, e-mails and texts from my tri community have been overwhelming, I am so very blessed.
Time for me to make it my truth.

Friday, November 5, 2010

What was Ben thinking?

Daylight savings time, I’ve never been a fan.  Having grown up in Arizona, one of the three states that does not observe DST, I remember hearing about it the first time after we moved to Colorado when I was 10.  I was sure the other kids were playing a trick on me, the new kid, when during school they started talking about moving our clocks back.  What?!?  Who moves the clock?  That is crazy!  It took some convincing and to be honest I never really understood or appreciated DST…… until now.  We move the clocks back this weekend giving me an extra hour of sleep Saturday night and an hour earlier of sunshine for the race Sunday.  Now that I think about it I am sure it is the ‘spring forward’ I always had a hard time with.
 I feel nearly paralyzed with anticipation.  The long term planning is done and it is a little too soon to do the short term stuff – packing my backpack, loading up the van etc.  This is the calm before the storm.  Not unlike planning a wedding or getting ready for a baby, it seems there is a lot of stuff to do to get ready early on and then nothing until it’s TIME!  Fortunately for me all of my labors were spontaneous, I honestly have no idea how women with planned births do it.  Knowing the date ahead of time would make me crazy.  On the other hand I certainly wouldn’t want someone coming up to me on a random day and saying “this is it, race day, ready or not.”
Adding to the uncertainty is the weather.  Honestly, the weather Sunday will be gorgeous and perfect for the run.  The bike will likely be quite chilly especially for someone who is wet already.  There have been numerous discussions on my tri board about what to wear/bring on race day.  Until now for all my races I simply wore the tri top and tri shorts I swam in for the entire race.  I did wear a wetsuit at Gateway but once that was off I was wearing my tri outfit.  It will be too cold for that Sunday and I have to consider wearing arm warmers, full finger gloves, an extra shirt, warmer socks, and a jacket.  I will likely take everything and make decisions that morning about what I will be wearing. 
This race is somewhat of a mystery.  Usually when you do a race there is the uncertainty of how fast you will go but not IF you will finish the race.  The mystery is how my foot is going to feel, I really have no idea.  I have full confidence I can finish this race and I have great supporters but I know they are concerned.  Running 13.1 undertrained with a stress fracture probably isn’t the smartest thing I have done.  Lucky for me I have lots of people who support me, primarily my wonderful husband.  There is a good chance they are having conversations about me with each other but they also recognize this race is very important to me and I am just a little hard headed. 
It is going to be a gorgeous day.  If all goes well the race will take me somewhere around 7.5 hours give or take.  I will enjoy a great deal of that time, I will be thankful for the opportunity and for my AMAZING support – Ken, Cory, Brendan, Kerianne, Avery, Lilia, Dad, Karen, Dave, Simon, Eli, Justin, Melissa, Eric, Betsy and the many  others who take time out of their day to cheer on some crazy triathletes!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Less than a week to go

This was the kind of week you hope for leading up to a big race.  After the rough swim in the relay it was important for me to get some good wetsuit time.  I headed down to Lake 288 Friday evening and had a very nice swim.  Later that evening Ken and I had a little date at a local seafood restaurant. 
Saturday morning Dori and I headed out to the Pattison/Belleville area for my last long ride.  The temperature was perfect and I got in 43 great miles.  Saturday evening the family headed to Steak n Shake to celebrate Avery’s Birthday, it was her choice.  Her birthday wasn’t until Sunday but having a Halloween birthday means changing up the celebration a bit sometimes.
Woke up Sunday and was glad to see my heel wasn’t swollen from Saturday’s ride.  I headed down to 288 again for more time in the wetsuit.  I swam 1.2 miles consecutive so I would have an idea what it felt like and get an idea of my time.  I was happy with my swim time and would be ecstatic to swim that on race day but with traffic and nerves it is unlikely.    Rumor has it I will be in the first wave which helps matters as the water won’t be as choppy but that has not been confirmed.  Sunday afternoon it was all about Avery’s birthday and getting Halloween ready.  I ran some errands after the lake and Avery opened her presents and had some ice cream cake before costume time.  The girls had a great time trick-or-treating and my foot/heel didn’t bother me at all during the festivities.
We got home from trick-or-treating and had a message on the machine from my Dad, he was calling to wish Avery a happy birthday and said something about needing to talk to me about flights.  What?  I talked with my Dad Friday evening and he seemed pretty sure he wasn’t going to make the trip.  I was pretty bummed but I understood.  Finding out he was going to make it after all had me over the moon.  I was excited about my race all over again.  On a few of my tough runs I pictured my Dad being at the finish line as motivation.  Knowing he was going to make it is great news but also makes me feel just a tad more pressure.  Dad isn’t a fan of flying and has been on a plane maybe 5 times in his life, he is taking two planes to get to Houston the night before my race.  WOW!
Kerianne & Avery