Monday, August 31, 2009

A's race report: IM Canada 2009

Note: I am reflecting on this after writing it and realize it is more highlights and reflection than a race report, but it is my blog and that is what I needed to write right now. Also, it seems a bit dreary, and I am a tad disappointed in the overall outcome of the day, but as I state below, I have a very positive feeling about the fight I fought, too. A final warning, this gets long.....

It is now the morning after and my legs won't let me sleep, so I thought I'd start to write a race update. Yesterday was my 5th Ironman race, and my 4th consecutive time here in Penticton. E and I showed up ready. The most ready we have ever felt. It was almost scary how ready I felt. Our training had been a bit lighter than normal earlier in the year due to work overloads for both of us, but since June it has been business as usual. Only harder. And faster. And I was responding well to that.

With that preface, I'll state that I am pretty disappointed with my race yesterday. After my 4 previous attempts at this distance, I lined up at the start line ready to rock it. Especially the run. I have been dialing in a new nutrition plan, updating the race wardrobe, and was excited to give my best effort. Which I did, it was just not a 3:30-3:45 run, it was a 4:09. In the end, it was my stomach that did me in. Canada has a single out and back run, and by the turnaround at Christi Beach I had stopped in about 10 of the 12 port-a-potties dotted in through the aid stations. Finally emptied out, I got down to the business of running and had an OK race from there in, but the damage was done and I never hit my goal paces even after I found my legs.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start back with our departure prep on Monday when I was chopping veggies for dinner (enough for leftovers on the road the two nights we were traveling, too). I did a good job of slicing my left index finger, right through the nail. This limited some training last week, but being taper, I think that was fine. By Friday I had stopped wearing a bandaid (I hate how soggy they get after you wash your hands a few times) and had the thing super-glued together. The drive up went smoothly. We broke it up into two nights (Casper, WY, Tuesday after work, and Spokane on Wed.). We got in on Thursday and settled (groceries, cooking, visiting with friends, etc.). Friday we spent a bit of time training to flush the legs and check the gear (just a swim in gorgeous Okanagan Lake and a spin up Green Mtn Road for ~35 min) then it was off the feet. Saturday we prepped gear, took a turn through the Farmer's Market on Main Street, found Ivy, Cathy, and Michael, and dropped everything off at the race site. All week, I slept well and felt only mild race anxiety. Mostly, I felt calm and ready to rock. And confident that I could.

Pre-race on Sunday was uneventful, save for the huge port-a-potty line, but I'm glad I waited to use that. E and I seeded ourselves well. I got an OK start, but spent a bit of effort clamping my middle finger onto my index finger to try and save my nail which was flopping now (so much for that super glue). That lasted until the first turn of the swim (we do a single triangle, ~1600 m, 400 m, 1800 m) when it fell off. My swim at 1:01 was a PR and on target (I wanted a 1:00 to 1:03). TI seemed to take FOREVER, as I had to do a few things twice, but the clock doesn't make it look too bad.

The bike started well. I quickly settled in and got to business. I wanted (and think I was easily capable of) a 5:30-5:45, so my 5:50 is puzzling and a bit disappointing, but I felt spot on for the effort I wanted to give, and occasional heart rate checks confirmed my effort was appropriate (though that data is a bit muddied by the fact that the strap was unhooked on the right side and only the shelf-bra of my top was holding it on, and then, only sometimes making contact with me). There was some wind, some heat, some smoke from the nearby forest fires (no smoke in town the days leading up the the race, it moved in during the bike) but nothing really intense, at least by itself. My nutrition went well (only carbopro 1200, nuun made on course from their water, thermolytes, one tums, two gas-x).

T2 was also uneventful. I finally fixed the HR strap, yeah! Got my brand new compression socks on (bought at the expo, so very new) and was off. I took a mile to try and settle in. Felt pretty good, but was already off pace. I decided to let the legs settle for a mile or two and then bring it down to what I had planned on. But by mile 3 I was running for the toilet, and that continued for almost every mile until the turnaround. I was able to run strong after each stop, but they were costing me precious time. My nutrition kept going well (on the top half, at least). I never got dizzy or low on energy like I have when using powergels in training. I just never really ran. I shuffled. Or sprinted for toilets.

All in all, it was close to what I had hoped for, but still.... wasn't. Overall, I have a positive feel about the race. I fought a good fight. I never gave up. I was patient, showed courage, and tried to find joy in the day as it unfolded. I gave what I could, then dug deeper and gave more on the run when it got tough out there. But..... I guess I thought this year would be different. I'd finally come in and race to my potential. I'd be a "competer" not just a "completer." I'd RUN. Not shuffle, not survive, but run, mix it up with the big girls, get to go up for an award, whatever. Maybe, after 5 tries and one sub-11 h (not this year, this was my first non-PR Ironman) it is time to find a new sport, or go back to Olympic distance races, or something. Maybe. First, we have St. George and Lake Placid to do in 2010, though. Maybe I'll learn to emulate my idols by then. Marit, Kerrie, Jenni, what're your secrets?

Now: coffee, maybe a trip to roll down (would 3 slots ever make it to 11th?) and a final "vacation" day before tonight's banquet and we pack up to roll out tomorrow at first light. I think I might finally float the canal......

With patience, courage, and joy,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

E's Late Night Update

So I'm up late due to an issue at work and I've updated my training log and read other's blogs, so I'm left with having to write a post.

Since I last wrote, A went to Minnesota like she wrote about, I got in a slight bit of an accident with a car while biking to work, we did the longest swim workout I've ever done, and observed a little 5430 long course action during our bike on Sunday.

It was pretty quiet around the Casa de Rydholm the weekend that A was in Minnesota, but I managed to get some neglected housework done since I took Friday off to bike a few hours and run a few more hours with A before she left and had shorter workouts for the rest of the weekend. Hopefully she doesn't want to ride her road bike too soon as I took off the cables and bar tape to move her handlebars up to where she wanted them. Most likely that project won't get completed until after Canada.

The rest of the week was busy after A got back with training and that whole work thing. On Friday, I had a guy drift into me while I was biking to work. Luckily the only damage was a bent rear wheel.

On Saturday, we headed to the pool for a long swim. 5.1km swim to be more exact. I was actually a bit excited for it since the last time we had a 5 k swim scheduled, the weather forced us to shorten it. It took a while (almost two hours) for me to finish, but I felt good to get it done. A had added extra 50's in middle to keep at about the same point as me so she went an extra 300 meters (crazy girl).

After the swim, we headed to Pekeo Sip house for some Americanos, Deli Zone for some breakfast sandwiches, the auto parts store for a headlight restoration kit (huge improvement for the Subaru) among other stuff, and the Styrofoam recycling place. Then, we headed out on our bike ride which included some climbing up Lee Hill.

On Sunday, we headed out early for our long ride. We started on the 5430 long course route but knew we should have around a 15 minute head start from the pro's. We were amazed on how much glass and debris was on the road as they obviously didn't sweep the course this year. Just before we were about to leave the course as it made a turn, Tim O'Donnell passed us with a photographer following along side of him. We then proceeded north to Masonville and headed back south. We got back onto the course for a few miles on 75th after most of the people had finished the bike, but did pass a few racers. It was kind of nice to have police officers controlling traffic for us. We headed through the town of Niwot to add some distance and I managed to get double flats. I thought I had just flatted my front wheel and A thought I had just flatted my rear wheel, but in the end, I had done both. I fixed my rear wheel and A fixed my front wheel and we finished up our ride.

We then headed back to Niwot to use the track to run a bit at our goal paces for Canada. It was warm but we survived and then went to Dairy Queen for dipped cones.

Since the weekend, we've been busy again with work and training, but it would be weird if it wasn't the case.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

3 days in MN

This will be quick, but then so was the trip. I spent last Friday doing my weekend IM training with E so I could fly out that night to Minneapolis. First I biked for ~3 h, then did a near-3 h run, caught the bus to DIA at 2:50 pm, plane at 4:50 pm, and shuttle-van at 9:00 pm (new time zone) before meeting my dad at the park-n-ride at ~11:25 pm. Murmurs of a family tri-relay filled my head as I drifted off to sleep.

The next day, I woke to the cutest alarm ever, my new 8 mo. old niece who I was meeting for the first time. I headed out to the country roads for a walk with her (looking cute in the stroller), her parents, and my other sister, Beth. There the plans for the race were fleshed out, as I secretly wondered why the 3 of them were all on one team.

Throughout the morning my amazement and love for my family grew and grew. I was amazed that my cousin Joe was able to single handedly delay a 10 am sharp start to ~noon. I was awed at how each family unit (my dad and his 4 sisters each had a family member participating or assisting in awards and finish line paraphernalia) really got into the idea of racing each other, helping their team, and having fun with the sport. And despite all the banter and small talk, I could sense an excitement and curiosity at the craziness that was about to ensue. Between finding toilet paper and ski poles to mark the finish, discussions over how to size the winners crown when we didn't know who it should even be sized for yet (this was critical for sticker placement), and efforts by a least 3 people to get all bike tires filled with air, their was a steady banter and energy filling the air.

Right before noon, Joe and family arrived and final instructions were given before a prayer for safety was said. Then all of the self-proclaimed non-athletes headed out to their starting areas to wait for their team mates.

In the end, I anchored the final team as their runner. I got to see the exchange of speed and excitement between all other bike-run pairs. And after I crossed the finish line is when I really began to be thankful for the family I have. Only on of them had ever done a triathlon before, but there was already talk of "well, next year I'll......" as plans for training and race strategy were hatched. And there was plenty of warrior stories floating around, too. The moment when my sister was almost finished with the bike and her pedal fell off. The moment my Dad was about to pass my cousin while flying down one of the rolling hills and his chain fall off. The disbelief of those waiting on shore as the 2nd place swimmer was so befuddled by how to navigate a large patch of weeds that his lead was lost to his sister as he elected to go around while she went straight through the middle.

I hung around the finish until the crowd dispersed as another rain shower moved in, then I headed out for another 30 min of running to get in my hour for the day. A quick shower and it was time to set-up for Grandma's birthday party (the triathlon relay was in her honor, a first annual they are saying....). Kids were running around the yard and through the house, turkeys (3!) were frying, potato salad and from-scratch baked beans were being finished off, and the 3-layer chocolate cake was waiting for the celebration.

The on-and-off rain prevented the annual wiffle ball game from commencing, but we did get treated to some wonderful singing by Joe and Em, and a poetry recital from my cousin's middle child, Wesley.

Sunday was breakfast, church, and a visit with Grandpa at the nursing home. I think the highlight of my year was having Grandma try to explain to him who I was and to whom I belong, only to have him respond "I know!" in a voice loud and clear enough for all to hear. He was tired, though, so we moved on to get some groceries and prepare dinner for the crew back at the farm (they brought grandpa out for dinner, later, so the visiting continued).

Sunday was a rainy, sleepy day that was spent inside visiting. Not my favorite type of day at the Farm, but the motivation to get out for a swim or bike or run, or walk when it was 58 and drizzle was not high. Instead we watched my niece try and crawl. She is very, very close, but not quite there yet.

After dinner, my youngest sister and her husband had to head back to the Cities for work and school. My parents, niece, other sister, her husband, and I then headed for the cabin on the south shore of Lake Superior. I got to have the sweet sound of the waves send me of to sleep. The morning brought a walk on the beach, a few bald eagle photos, a wonderful breakfast where I was introduced to June berries (yum!), and a contemplation of a swim in the lake.

Right before lunch time I did pull on the wet suite, cap and goggles and swim out a ways along shore. Then I noticed one of the eagles checking me out, thought of Wesley's "Food Chain" poem from the night before, loudly shouted "I am not lunch!)"and turned back for our beach.

After lunch we packed up and headed back to the farm. My mom and I loaded my cousin and cousin-in-law into the Forester and drove down to Minneapolis so they could make their connections before heading to my youngest sister's house to meet them for dinner. I had not seen their apartment yet and they have been there for ~15 months now, since their wedding. It is small but cute and cozy, just like a newly-married couples home should be. Then we got a short bit of sleep before heading to the airport again, this time for my 6:xx am flight.

When I bought the tickets, this early departure seemed to make sense since I could maximize my time in MN and still get a full day at work, but by this morning, it seemed like sheer craziness. I had a great trip. I had been very worried about taking a weekend off" at this point in our IM Canada build, but in the end, I think I made the best of a balance of family summer-time and training maintenance.

Then I saw the workouts I missed yesterday and today (we get workouts monthly and this was my first glance at August) and panicked. It seems like I missed a lot! Too much ??? Time will tell if this was a good idea or not, I guess. I did have fun, lots of fun, I just hope none of the time and effort already spent in preparation for the IM were wasted with some family down time and travel. Too late to worry now, time to focus forward. August 30th seems very, very close right now. And I am excited to go to Penticton to race again.


Oh, a shout out to Whitney, a swim mate, for her Vineman full course win repeat! Wow! Way to go!