Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Catch Up.... Ketchup?

It has been awhile, sorry. I think the last time I (A) blogged was right before the Steamboat Springs Stage Race over the Labor Day weekend. Gulp! What happened to my regular updates? I guess life got in the way! That was a full bit of time with a 4-race holiday weekend with the GS Boulder ladies in Steamboat, then a ½ ironman race the next weekend at Harvest Moon (great race by Without Limits Productions) where I PRed and finally broke my 5-hour curse with a 4:40 and change, followed by a hot and dusty cyclocross race on weekend #3. At the start-line for the cyclocross race, I just had to laugh at the wide variations in racing venues over the past few weeks.

Anyways, this update is supposed to serve as a catch up. So, here you go:

Steamboat Springs Stage Race: I did well and had fun racing my bike. I went in without enough points to upgrade to cat-3 and came out with an automatic upgrade after accumulating lots of points over the 4 races. I started with a win in the prologue TT, was second in the circuit race and had the GC lead by 1 second, raced a good road race with my biggest GC threat where we rode together until the final climb and then she threw down the move I had planned to make, and held on to 2nd in the GC in the crit by finishing in the pack. To top it off, most of my teammates had great races, too. Lorna ended 3rd in the GC! Unfortunately, we did have a teammate in a very scary crash. Jennica is a trooper, though, and is planning her come back, as a cat 3, at the Gila in a few weeks.

Harvest Moon Triathlon: This race was so fun! I got to sleep in my own bed (too many years of Ironman has made that a novelty!). E was my race sherpa. My swim was solid, my bike was solid (may have had more to give, but really wanted a fast run). I had some very slow transitions (this used to be a strength, but I guess I’ve gotten soft) but otherwise a great race. I was spot on nutritionally, made one quick potty stop near the halfway of the run, and finished 3rd overall woman behind Sonja Wieck and Mandy Mclane. I got a chance to work on good run cadence and just focus on motoring along. The best was the finish line: a slip-n-slide to dive into! Anyways, I think my old half-iron PR was 5:09, so a 4:40 was an awesome result (Sonja and Wendy were neck-and-neck a good 10 minutes in front of me, so there is always room to grow!).

Cyclocross: E has already posted some pics and blogged about his season. This was an interesting year for me in ‘cross. I was playing with the big girls this year as I took an upgrade to cat-3 at the end of 2009. They are fast! There were plenty of highlights (3rd at state behind two fast riders from Hudz-Subaru) and lowlights (scary course preview crash an hour before my start that had me frightened and cramping, where I finished 30th of 33 racers), and lots of good been and friends along the way. I met some new friends (fast ladies out there, tough, too), and really got a chance to push my comfort level. Riding my bike on dirt scares me. A lot. But I’m slowly getting over that, learning skills, trusting my bike, AND remembering how to push my body to new levels of pain (from physical, aerobic exertion, not crashing, lol!). I was a blast chasing Margel, Karen, Lisa, Amanda, Melanie, Lorna, Melissa, Kat, Nicole, Sara, Erin, and all the rest of you around and around the course each week. I’m already excited for the 2011-2012 season.

Everything else: Since cyclocross ended, work has really ramped up and has taken up most of my time. We had a good break around Christmas, which we spent in Coloradothis year, just the two of us. The highlight was lots of yummy cooking, baking, and a few trips into Grand County to ski. E and I did sneak in enough training to prepare to race the Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon. We love this race, and always think of it as a good gage of our February fitness since we have done it so many years now. That race report will be coming next, but I’ll lead into it by saying we both had good races this year, but “I want to go faster!”

2011 blogging plan: don’t hold me to it, but I have a plan to get over my lazy blogging habits: posting once a week at a minimum. Consider this the update for 2011 Week 9.

Ketchup: this was really just a play on words, and a check to see who would read this whole thing. Sorry if I kept anyone hanging.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 Thoughts

We're a couple weeks into 2011 and I (E) didn't have any new year's resolutions, so I'm at least good there. For the next 50 weeks, I'm really not sure what will happen.

For the last 6 years, we have been signed up for an Ironman at least a year in advance. Without any definite races on the schedule, this year will be a bit different. We are already looking towards getting to Minnesota in July/August which was difficult to do in the past due to Canada and/or Lake Placid. We are planing on doing the awesome Mt Taylor Quadrathlon in a month and racing cyclocross next season (Madison in January?).

But, with new "freedom", comes new opportunities. Road biking, mtn biking, and running are all possibilities. Personally, I don't have any desire to swim, but A hasn't ruled out tri's. If I/we focus on road biking, there are a number of short stage races that we might do (Salida, Glenwood Springs, Deaddog, Steamboat). If we do mtn biking, it would mostly be for cross reasons as bike handling and dealing with difficult terrain is still the biggest weaknesses for both of us. Running might be the only option if work hours prevent a decent amount of biking.
So, what will 2011 bring? I really don't know, but it should be fun to find out.

Monday, December 13, 2010


The weekends for the last few months have been filled with cyclocross. Since my last post, A and I have done 12 more races (11 for Amber). The big one for each of us was the State Championships this past weekend. My goal was to win the 35+/4's on Saturday with a back-up plan of racing in the 4's on Sunday. But, before we jump to the end, let's recap the rest of the season.

Aspen Lodge Cross:
Easily the most technical course we encountered this year with very short speed sections, high speed turns, sand that skilled riders (i.e. not me) could ride and lots of cornering. The start was critical as there was very little opportunity to pass. I got off the line well but slid out in the first corner which dropped me way back. After that I took additional risks that caused me to hit the deck a few more times. Finished 38th. A almost didn't even start her race after crashing hard in her warm up and causing her leg to cramp bad. She ended up racing, but wasn't her day.

Blue Sky Cup:
The next weekend started at Xilinix for the second race there. The race actually started really well, but the proverbial excrement hit the air moving device on the 2nd lap when I slid out and dropped chain. Then I went off course twice. The final nail in the coffin was a crash going over the bunny-hop-able barriers (the ones that Amber is wisely running over in the picture below). That one really hurt. Limped home in 56th place.

Boulder Cup #3 at the Bowl of Doom (aka the Bowl of Death):
The next day, I was excited for this one as it was at the course that we ride every Wednesday morning for hot laps. Race went okay, but not feeling great (fatigue and lingering cold from trip to England) and ended up in 15th. Really like the picture below of Karen taunting Andy with Cowboy Bob and Amber screaming at Andy. I could write more about CB, but you need to show up at the BOD ride to find out more.

Colorado Cross:
Race at the Rez and not really notable for anything. I think more fatigue was setting in and I didn't race as well as I thought I could. Didn't help that some dude pushed me into a hay bail on the first lap. Anyways, 18th.

Boulder Cup:
New course at Flatirons Mall that looked like it would be just another grass crit, but turned out to be pretty tricky. Unfortunately there was a bad corner early in the race that was a total cluster for a lot of the races. Course that I should have done better at (esp since I stayed upright), but really fatigued and finished 20th.

Schoolyard Cross:
Tried the 35+ open to see how fast that group is. It was fast, but wasn't focused at the start and not a great effort.

Alpha Cross #2:
Took a bit of a break after Schoolyard and got a bit healthier. Really excited for Alpha Cross as it suited my strengths with long power sections and little rest. Second line call-up, but crappy start had me in the mid-twenties going onto the grass. Moved up quickly though as most of the course was wide. Navigated the few tight turns pretty well and was in the top ten. Almost got onto the main chase group, but the effort to move up wore me out a bit. Kept the gas on and took a digger on the 2nd loop that dropped me behind two guys I had just passed. Kept pressure on and re-passed them, but they hung close. Moved up a spot or two for the last couple laps and finished in 5th, my best result by far. I also knew by the announcer's call that I wasn't loosing any ground on the leaders as I heard him call out the lead of the race at the same point each time. No pictures of my race, but Amber is kicking butt in the picture below.

Cyclo X:
The next day was a new course at the Union Reservoir put on by our former CU triathlon teammate Lance No Pants. Short course with a fair amount of speed sections, but with a fun trip through the BMX course each lap. I got up to the first line and got a good start and was in tenth or so going onto the grass. Which was good except I had to coast a bit behind the others and proceeded to have my chain drop on the bumpy grass. Stop, lose a lot of spots and fix chain. Really my fault for having my chain keeper too far away from the chain. I was able to move up a bit, but taking some poor line to do so which cost me speed in the corners. Kept the gas on and moved up pretty well, but not expected much out of the day. Dropped chain on 3rd lap as well. Lovely. Anyways, fought the good fight but expected to be in the mid-teens to low twenties. Surprised as anything to get 7th on the day (with 6th coming back to me quickly). Lance had chip timing which showed that my lap splits were just as good as the podium guys except for the two dropped chain laps. Great race to give me the confidence to go for it. No pictures of my race, but here is one of Amber giving it.

So same course as the first race of the year, but opposite direction. And instead of starting way back in the field, I had a front line call-up. Started really well (I like grass starts) and 5th going into tight section. Moved up to 4th on the first uphill section and latched onto the top three guys. Saw a chance to take the lead on the grass section with barriers and went for it. I took the lead in part since the next section had a lot of turns and I was worried I would loose ground there if I was following. Kept the lead through the finish line, but took the 1st turn too hot and went down. Dropped all the way to 7th or so, but the group was mostly together. Moved up due to crash in the lead group, but a couple of guys got away. Moved up to fourth, dropped to fifth, moved back up to fourth, got my brake stuck in my wheel like J Pow did this weekend (but i made a really slick move to kick it back into place), and finished in 4th. Really not a great course for me due to all of the turns, so I was stoked by the result. Again, no pictures of my race, but one of the lovely wife.

Boulder CX #4:
The next day was a new course at a big park in Westminster. I fell in love immediately as there was a ton of grass and hills. My goal was simple. Get out and hammer it. I was a bit disappointed that one of the guys that had been crushing it the last few weekends was upgraded before the race, but a big field again. Super start off the line and was third going onto the grass. The guy in second let a gap open up to the Ryan H (who had gotten a couple of podiums recently), so I moved up to close it up. Got on Ryan's wheel and stayed there a little bit until a long grass section where I took the lead. Kept the gas on until the downhill where I recovered a bit. Kept the lead through the technical section at the lower part of the course and hammered up the pavement back onto the grass and got a bit more a lead. The guys behind me kept getting fewer and fewer, but a few stayed within 10 to 20 meters. I could tell one guy (Dan M.) was moving up well and closing the gap. He finally caught me with just under two laps to go, but I was able to stay on his wheel pretty easily. I stayed there and watched him on the lower section to look for any weaknesses. I went around him before the finish line with a lap to go, but he stayed close. We swapped the lead back a forth again on the upper section and he took the lead when I almost missed a turn with my head down (oops). I stayed on his wheels through most of the downhill section, but let him gap me a bit since he hadn't taken a good line on one of the sections on the previous lap and I got back on his wheel in that section. Waited until nearly the end to make my move, but went hard, got around him and kept my lead to the end. Man, it fun to win. Jeeze, it nearly killed me. Again, no pictures of me, but the wife is better looking anyways.

State Championships:
Like I alluded to earlier, my goal by the end of the season was to win the 35+/4's at State's. Coming off a string of top five finishes and my win the previous weekend, I knew I had a chance, but depended on the course, conditions, and competition. Since State's was two days, I signed up for the 35+/4's on Saturday and the 4's on Sunday as a back-up plan in case something didn't go well on Saturday. A and I both "raced" the warm-up race on Saturday morning to get a look at the course as they really limited the times you could warm-up on the course. Learned a few things like it wasn't worth trying to ride the sand section and there were speed sections thrown around the course but often had tight corners immediately after them.

Front line call-up, but bad start as I missed clipping in and was probably in 2oth going onto the grass. Didn't panic and started picking off riders through the first section. Got through the sand section and surprise, the course changed from the practice race. Now, we had a section full of turns that I hadn't seen at all. Kept my position through there and luckily, no one was gassing it at the front. Moved up in the next few sections and got into 5th or so, but had some close call to get there. On the next straight section, I went full gas and went to the front. Got a small gap, but a couple of guys hung close. I took the high barriers section poorly (all day) and they got even closer. Stayed on the front for a little over a lap, but not able to drop Ryan H and Dan M. Let one of them take the lead after the high barriers and stayed with them. From there it was pretty much a three man race. We moved around a bit between ourselves, but I don't think anyone wanted to kill it on the front. I tried to go to the front a pick up a bit when another guy closed on us, but he was too strong and bridged on heading into the final lap. I thought my spot on the podium was gone when he went to the lead after the sand and only Dan got on his wheel with Ryan between myself and them. But, then the new leader had to stop and dry-heave in the twisty part. Go figure. So, it was back to Dan, Ryan and myself to duke it out and frankly, I was worried as I was toast. They slowly got a bit of a gap on me and were about 10 meters ahead with 300 m or so to go. That's when Ryan tried to get around Dan on the high side of the loose section and slid out. Like that, I moved up to 2nd. Quite happy with that. It's too bad that Ryan crashed out of the spot, but I played it safe all race to avoid that kind of issue.

State's Day 2:
Really wasn't planning on racing since I had a great race on Saturday and felt like crap on Sunday morning, but wanted to see what the speed difference was between the two groups and had raced the 4's last year and had a crappy State's a year ago. So, I raced.

Four line or so (no call up points for me, so luckily I had signed up during the week as it was then based on registration number). Much better start than the day before and was again 15th or so going onto the grass. Moved up, but two guys went off the front early. Eventually, one guy passed me a few laps in, but passed everyone else but the two guys off the front. Ended up 4th.

With that, I hit 20 upgrade points, which is the cut-off for automatic upgrade.

Now to the 35+ open.

Monday, October 11, 2010

It's Cross Time

We've gotten back into the cyclocross groove. 3 races in the past 4 weekends.

New for this year is a Redline Conquest Team ('09 frame) that I built up in a 1x10 configuration since it is pretty rare to shift up front while racing. A's got the same frame but with the usual 2x10 set-up. Also, we switched to tubulars for racing.

Since A moved up to the women's open race (vs. the women's 4), I've aged myself up to race the men's 35+, cat 4's so that we don't have to wait hours between our races. The only issue with that is the size of the fields. Okay if you have a call-up, but asking for trouble if you can't get up to near the front.

First race was a bit blah after slidding out early and having some mechanical "discoveries" with the new bike (like I didn't tighten my shifter enough). Started well (20th or so going to the narrows), but lost a lot of spots when i wasn't on my bike. 47th or something. First race under the belt and moving on.

Second race (Boulder CX#1) was up in Longmont with my sister and brother-in-law as spectators. Call-up's based on last years points (none for me since raced a different cat), the bike clubs that set-up and the course, and then by random last digits of your number (no luck there either). So, I found myself near the back huge group, but I lined up on the side to try to get around as many people as possible on the climb up the paved road up to the narrow section through the woods. Man, it hurt to get up there but managed to get to the woods in 25th position or so. Spent most of the race moving up a bit, but did a nice cartwheel due to a little ditch. 19th

Third race (Boulder CX#2) was in Broomfield and a sold-out field of 120 riders. Thankfully, they did call-up's based on CX#1 and I got a second line spot (behind the first guy that lined up). I got a really good start and was in 10th or so getting to the narrow sidewalk when i got pushed into a schrub that caused me to slow down and loose some spots. Recovered pretty well for rest of the first lap. On the second lap I felt horrible and lost a number of spots. Felt better each lap after that and finished in 16th (outsprinted at very end). Best result that I've had at cross.

Up next, the Colorado Cup races start which means needing to do well early to get call-up's for those.

If you are thinking that I'm making too big a deal of the call-up's, check out this video of yesterday

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Women's Ride

As Ironman training has wrapped up for me for the year, I am finding time to do some of the things I have been waiting all summer to do. Wednesday nights, that means joining the local Women's Ride leaving from North Boulder. Oh, what fun!

Last night was my second showing, and it was a good one. Nine of us rolled out from the Bus Stop just after 5:30. The ride was started this summer to let local women, from various teams and abilities, meet and try and ride fast with each other, further developing the local women's racing scene. The purpose of this weekly ride is to ride hard, practice your attacks, sprints, counter attacks, etc. all within the company of a bunch of fast women cyclists. Most of those who turn out are category 3 and 4 racers who have raced at least a year or two, but all women are welcome. That's a good thing for me and my developing cyclist-legs. Yes, they even welcome triathletes! In fact, last week there were two of us tri-sport types, and we both did fine.

This ride is run as a drop ride, meaning show up ready to ride hard and be ready to work your tail off to stay with the group if needed, or ride home on your own if you get chewed up and spit out the back of the group. They are not waiting for you at the next light if you fall off the back, you can chit-chat but at your own risk of missing the next attack, and there are no hard feelings if you're the one up front pushing the pace and blowing everyone else away. That's not to say that the ride is anti-social or unsafe. We keep it friendly, but push each other as we are able and ride as hard as we can (of course, in the pack has its advantages and allows you to adjust your personal intensity to some extent, if you can stick with them!), and you always have the option of trying to cover an attack or sit up and block, just like in a race situation.

This all boils down to just the kind of suffer fest I need to start sharpening me up for the 4-day stage race in Steamboat Springs over Labor Day. And, oh, did I suffer last night! I think it was definitely harder than the week before, the attacks just never seemed to stop!

We modified the route yesterday a tad as some of the county and state roads are currently being chip sealed and are at various stages of fresh oil, tar, and gravel. We rode up 36 to Neva, then 63rd, jogged to 65th, turned right on St. Vrain Road, and rolled into Hygene before tacking on a baby-Box loop up and around Highway 66. The attacks were frequent, and I did my share of initiating them, but my legs were loudly protesting too much effort. Twice I was off the back and dropped hard, but both times I willed my way back to the group. We stopped on the return through Hygene for fresh water (it started hot last night!), then headed south on 75th to Neva/Niwot road and retraced our path to the Bus Stop. I lead the pack up Neva and covered attacks up until Highway 36 was in sight, but my legs were toast by the time we reached the small climb up to the highway, and I soon found myself spit out the back again.

Ahead were 3 of my teammates and 2 other fast chicas, and behind me were two more who joked that they were not connected to anyone who had stolen my legs for the night (where did they go???). As we rolled back into town, I caught Tasha and Lorna, but the other 3 were out of sight off the front. Fast!

What a great night! It was beautiful out there, not just because of the lovely Front Range scenery, but because of the healthy dose of Fast and Hard that we kept throwing at each other. And we even threw in a little double pace line on Highway 66 just for kicks. Good stuff!

I rode all the way back to the start then turned for home, turning on my two headlights and rear blinky tail light as the daylight was fastly fading. I took the ~4 miles of downhill and flat to try and spin out the legs some, but still needed ~30 minutes in the NormaTech to flush them out well enough to sleep last night. There is hope that my legs are making a return from Ironman Lake Placid! Yeah!

Ride on (and join us next week, if you're a local chica)!

P.S. One of the night's highlights was getting home and having dinner waiting. E spoils me! On the menu was home made fried rice with odds and ends from the fridge, including veggies from our CSA allotment, yum! Fried rice was the perfect accompaniment for fried bike-legs!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend Update

What a weekend!

Our planned ride to Estes Park through Glenhaven was aborted at ~2 h. E's legs were protesting the thought of 100 miles and lots of climbing on their first real bike ride back after IM Lake Placid (this one has been rough on us). Even the promise of cinnamon rolls was not strong enough for them to come around. So we turned for home when we saw the oil on the road(freshly applied for this week's chip-seal work up by Carter Lake) and enjoyed a tail wind (had been riding into a strong NNE head wind) for the return. We both figured a flatish 60 mile spin was a good start for our return to bike fitness. And the original trip was only postponed for a few weeks, not cancelled. I still need me some cinnamon rolls (and I love that Big Thompson climb)! Maybe we'll recruit a few other crazy folk to join us next time....

Then it was off to do some cooking, baking (zucchini bundt cakes are now filling the deep freeze), dinning (thanks for coming over Beth and Keagan!), and bike building. Sunday saw more of the same, with a side of yard work and laundry thrown in for good flavor. Now the cherries are all done for the year (our tree gave us close to 4 gallons this year!) and the last of the BIG zucchini are shredded and all baked up into breads and cakes.

In the end, I was tired and sore, which seems odd since training was so "light" this weekend. Must have been all that baking!


Friday, August 13, 2010

IM Lake Placid Race Report: A's version

As E already relayed, we had a nice trip out from Denver to Burlington, VT (who knew that tons of other people would be trying to catch the parking shuttle at 4:30 in the morning?). The 6 am flight was a bit rough, but we were prepared with homemade meals, and a ~2pm arrival was a nice treat (flying East is always a chore from Denver, but this was better than our usual red-eye into NYC where you leave at ~midnight and arrive at 6am, the perks of traveling to race, not for vacation or business!).
A nice late lunch on Church Street got us fed a decent, bigger meal, then we pointed the rental car North and West and headed for the ferry crossing of Lake Champlain. Our plan was then to drive in and preview ~1/2 the bike course, from Ausable Forks all the way to Lake Placid as we made our way over to our lodging in Saranack Lake. Heavy rain challenged this plan, you couldn't see much, but we got a sense that the area was green, pretty, and somewhat hilly. Once we found NCCC (North Country Community College) we had some trouble finding check-in for the dorms. Eventually we backtracked and parked near a building with "Visitor" parking spots, only to read a sign with directions on where to go to check in (back out towards the entrance, then left, right, left over the RR tracks, right, and first building on the right. No we did not get it right on our first try, but by our 3rd or 4th try we found it!).
As we moved in, we learned that our accommodations were a bit more rustic than we anticipated. Luckily, we were able to just roll with it. We unpacked our clothes into the dresser and headed out for a quick run to loosen up and shake out the travel, then found dinner and a grocery store (bought bars of soap and contemplated a cheap shower curtain).

That was Wednesday. The next couple of days we settled in, laid low, and got ready to race. We had 2 GREAT swims in mirror lake, picked up our bikes from TriBike Transport, rode the only flat miles of the course to spin out the legs and make sure the bikes shipped fine (between Upper Jay and Jay), and read and rested. I was sleeping well (not the case before St. George), we were fueling well (cutting back on fiber, still no coffee for me until race morning), and all signs were good. The only small hiccup was my watch dying (I use the timer to remind me to eat and drink on the bike) during our second Mirror Lake Swim. I swung into the expo, though, and picked up a new one at the Timex booth (I may have paid too much for it, but it sure was convenient to just stop in there and get a new one right away).

This trend continued race morning. We woke early (4 am, I think) and tried not to make too much noise and wake our suite-mates, Tommy (from Long Island) and Rob (from 'Jersey). A breakfast of pop-tarts (no fiber), banana, juice with carbopro, and coffee (no coffee maker or french press, so some Starbucks via thingies from the grocery) and we were out the door. Rob had shared his secret parking spot with us the night before, so we headed there and got pretty close to transition. Then we got body marked, did a warm-up hike out to the special needs drop off spots, and headed back to transition to add nutrition to the bike, pump up tires, apply body glide, and turn in our dry clothes bags. Somewhere in there I lost my swim cap, but I easily picked up a new one on the beach.
Once we were fully in our wetsuits, we headed into the water, swam a tiny bit, then floated over to the shore opposite the beach to stand and wait a bit for the pro start before finding our spots. We ended up in the middle, ~3 people back from the banner (start line). It was a beautiful morning, a great day to race! Off in the west, a tunderstorm cloud was building, but it was also sunny where we were.

The cannon fired and we started to swim. This swim is 2 loops, a short beach run in the middle. The course is a long, skinny rectangle and the buoys are set on a cord that runs the length of the course, a meter or two below the surface. The whole way out to the turnaround on the first loop I spent passing people. I was to the right and just out of sight of the cord, but tracked well due to the total number of people also tracking off that line.

Part way down, my right hip flexor started to cramp. Uh-oh! I ignored it as best I could and swam on. The return of that first loop went smoothly, but I began to notice some rubbing under my right armpit. I was in my sleeveless wetsuit and the leash for the zipper was caught up in there. I fixed that during my beach "run" (more of a walk for me as I was fixing my clothing, and I still forgot to look for my split time on the clock!) and all was good for the second lap. Except now it seemed like everyone was passing me, not the other way around. I swam steady and strong, but added a left calf cramp to my right hip flexor stiffness/pain and got a small nick in my nose from another racer's watch (I think that was my only real contact during the swim, pretty good for a 2700+ person start in a tiny lake! At that point, though, we were almost done and I decided to just chill a bit, there was no reason to get hurt too early in the day). My 1:04 was an OK time. A tad slower than the 1:00-1:03 I was hoping for, but in the ballpark. My sleeveless wetsuit is easy to strip and I was soon carrying it and running down the road toward T1.
T1 was as quick as I could make it (on with the helmet, race number and belt, socks and shoes, sunglasses, and a swipe of chamios butt'r) but the long run on the road from the lake to the Oval makes this a slower T1 than some. I had a much smoother mount than at St. George, and was soon flying through town and out onto the course.

The first loop of the bike went well and I finished it right on target for pace and effort (both perceived exertion and heart rate, but I was only glancing at this every so often and getting "real time" readings). E passed me early in the first loop, after Keene I think. We ended up staying close to each other for ~10 miles before he moved on ahead. My nutrition was spot on for the whole bike: 4 powergels, 1 bottle of carbopro-nuun with ~200 kcal, 4-5 bottles of Powerbar Perform drink (really like that stuff, goes down easy and worked well for me), and 4-5 bottles of water in the front aero bottle with The Right Stuff electrolyte concentrate added (this was the key to good nutrition for me, I think, 4 doses of The Right Stuff). Oh, and 1 gasX. I meant to take 2 of the 3 gasX I was carrying, but lost my 2 spares somewhere out there on course. My second loop on the bike felt good, solid, and strong, and I hit a faster speed on The Big Downhill since it was less crowded this time (just over 55 mph, I think), but I lost a bit of focus on the climb up from Wilmington and gave up a fair bit of time (7+ minutes!) there unintentionally.

As I rode back into town that last time, I was focused on a fast T2. I had decided to ride with my road shoes, not my tri shoes, so I was not able to get my feet out and leave my shoes on my bike (I tried, wasn't going to happen), but I was still able to run in them, grab my bag off the rack thingy, get into the right change tent, swap shoes, socks, and headware, and get out in ~2:30. What I forgot to do was pee. And I had to GO. Luckily, I have skills, and before the first aid station (at 0.4 miles, I think they said) that problem was gone. All this might explain why I said nothing to Lisa as she cheered for me on the way out of T2 (thanks Lisa, I was just in the zone, and it wasn't even the run zone yet!).

I quickly settled into my pace on the run. I felt good. After my pee, and a gel and gasX, I was flying. Comfy, steady, on target. I was happy. I was making my dreams come true! This feeling survived until I was back in town and nearing mile marker 10. Kerrie had just passed me looking strong (on her way to running the fastest run of the day for the female age groupers) but I knew something was off with my tummy. I had been taking in a cup of drink at each aid station and using the icy sponges to stay clean and cool, but my lower GI was off having its own raucous party. And the party was OVER. A quick (1:33 or so) pit stop in a non-locking porta-potty and I was back, running very strong, and cruising uphill and into town. Justin Daerr passed me on his way to the finish and I used him to pull me up the hill, through the second turn around, and then to slingshot me off into my last run lap.

I started my 2nd lap and felt strong and solid. It was time to hold onto that feeling and start creeping up, faster if I could. I held steady until mile ~18, then noticed my hands and fingers start to get tingly. It was odd. Odder yet was my response: I just settled in, on auto pilot, and got it done. I started taking cola at each aid station, and upped it to 2 cups of drink, too, so that was at least 3 cups per aid station. My tummy felt great and stayed that way until the finish (this is a MAJOR victory for me, first time in 7 ironmans that the nutrition was spot on). I started having to walk the aid stations, though, so that I could grab all those cups before I got to the other end. I moved onward, but in kind of a blur. And I guess I was in full-on shuffle mode here, not really "running" anymore.

But I was not aware of any of this. I was getting it done and was just unaware of how much I had slowed. The final 8 miles were a blur. That is really all I remember. I came back into town, climbed the hills, got a big smile as I saw E heading for the Oval and the finish as I headed out for the final turn around, and then joined him there myself. Here are some screen shots of the first and second loops of the run. You can see my potty stop, and then how pace slowed with ~8 miles to go, and where I walked the aid stations.

Lap 1 of the run... see my potty stop at mile ~10?

Lap 2 of the run.... what happened with 8 miles to go, and can you see where I was walking the aid stations?

In the end, I PRed the race by 49 seconds and PRed the run (for an Ironman) by ~2 minutes but missed my goal times (total and for the run) each by ~16 minutes. That's a lot. Could I have made that up all on the run? Not sure. Am I frustrated? Yes. Am I still oddly pleased at that race I have, the effort I gave, and the outcome? Yes. Do I have any clue what happened and why? No.

I was really ready to run a 3:40. Trained and ready. It was not a reaching goal, not a pipe dream, it was doable, oh so very doable. In the end, though my nutrition finally seemed spot on, I was likely under fueled on the run. I had planned to use race drink as my sole source of fuel, but had neglected to think about dosing using their cups. I probably was not getting enough of anything. And the gel I grabbed, off the table after some hunting and gathering, with 2 miles to go was too little, a lot too late.

After finishing, I was exhausted. And Sore. All over, everywhere. I saw E, bust still used my Volunteer Catcher to walk over to the athletes food area and sit. 1 bottle of water, 1 slice of pizza, 1 ham sandwich, pretzels, grapes, 3 cookies were consumed while we sat and chatted with Kerrie and Kau. Then I changed into better clothes, and we went to the car to drop off gear and grab the wheel bag. Next was a trip to tribike transport to drop off the bikes, then we headed onto the run course to cheer for people. We swung into the Lake Placid Brewery, but the wait for a table was over an hour, so we went to their tent out front and bought a hamburger and chips to share, and 1 beer each. Then we headed back to the dorms and chatted with our room mates (Rob had a good day cheering, but Tommy missed the bike cut-off and was trying to cope with his first DNF). As usual, I slept very little that night due to being sore everywhere.

The next day, I was still sore all over! Deep breathing was impossible (so was deep sighing, like when the 3rd and final Kona slot rolled to 4th place and she took it, I was 5th). And laughing? Not an option.

We had a good morning in Lake Placid before rolling out and heading to Plattsburgh where we had a room booked in an awesome B&B (it was Eric's birthday, AND this was halfway back to the airport). It was so relaxing there! We ventured into town for dinner, then picked up a pint of banana fudge ice cream for dessert, which we shared in their mosquito-proof gazebo.

The next day we took the ferry over to VT, drove down to Burlington, and spent a few hours roaming Church Street and the lake front. It was a nice day, but HOT, so we didn't walk too much or too fast. Our flight wasn't until after 7 pm, so we had time to kill. We wandered, then lunched at the Vermont Brewery, then went to the used book store, then wandered some more. In the end, we went to this "museum" called the Outdoor Gear Exchange and looked at a lot of things made in Colorado. I enjoyed Burlington, the state of VT, and the Adirondacks very much, and would love to go back there again. It was a great trip!

One final thought: I am not sure why I am so troubled by missing my goal times, and the Kona slot. I had a great race. I was fairly steady loop to loop. I nailed my nutrition, before (can anyone say breakfast for dinner???) and during the race. The weather was PERFECT for me, definitely not too hot like it can be at Canada. I am plagued by some of what Kerrie says, here, yet for me some of it IS about the journey, and for me, I get to share the training hours and miles with my family (and my best friend, E). Yet I missed my goals, and that is very hard (for my ego) to swallow and move on.

I guess the conclusion I am reaching is that Ironman is just not for me. I did well, learned lots, and had fun preparing and racing 7 of these things over the last 5 years, but I am just not as good at this as I want to think I am. I can run a good open marathon, I can rock an Olympic distance tri, I'm a good skier, and I can hike with the best of them, but this Ironman thing, not so much. That's OK, next year's race still sold out before lunch the next day, so there are enough others out there to keep this thing going! And I am trying to tell myself that this is not giving up, it is moving on to something else. Work with me here.... and come along for the ride if you wish.