Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Achievement Letdown

If you read my Muncie Recaps (Part 1 and Part 2) then you know that I actually did complete the Muncie 70.3. It was the best and worst day of my life. It's easy now to look back on it and say that it was magical and I loved every minute of it, but don't be fooled: it was really really hard. As weird as it sounds, the hard is the easy part. That's what you train for. You train for the hills and the heat and the wind, you train for the parts that suck and hope you don't get many of them. That's what makes endurance racing so fun. Every time you come to a point where your body says, "Thanks but no thanks I"m done with this shit" your brain says "no." For someone who was a super unmotivated couch potato for a very very long time this is the most rewarding part for me.

The hardest part of Muncie for me was the hour or so after the finish line when those inevitable words crossed my mind: 

What's next? 

Whatever the goal, achievement is an incredible high. You feel immortal and untouchable. But when that feeling wears off, there is a gaping hole. An empty space where all of the want and anticipation had been. The high that comes with achieving these goals is a high unlike any other. And like anything else, it's a high you end up chasing. At least I do. I think that's how I got from 5k to half to marathon to 70.3. The constant push of that terrible question, "what's next?"  

So while I'm trying to remember that Mucie wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, I'm trying to also feel content with the accomplishment. I don't have any other races lined up right now - something I hope will change. But for now I'm just trying to find a 'normal'; how often should I be running, biking, and swimming without a training plan? What do I have to maintain in order to keep the weight (coming) off? I really don't know. So maybe that's the 'goal' for now - find a normal.

Muncie was amazing. It was everything I wanted and knew it could  be. But maybe now I'm training for contentment. I'm training for status quo. I'm training for normal. I feel like that one is much loftier than the other.

Happy Running!

Do you feel letdown after a big accomplishment or goal? How do you cope?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday - Beating the Heat

Today I'm linking back up with Courtney at The Tri Girl Chronicles, Phaedra at Blisters and Black Toenails and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What?!for Tri Talk Tuesday. This week's topic: Beating the heat.

Summer in Kentucky means a lot of awesome things for me. Longer days, bourbon trail touring, back porch sitting, pool swimming and zoo visiting. I love all of it. One pesky little addition to all of those, however, is the heat.
As of 7:25a.m.Yikes
And not just heat, but humidity. Oh the humidity. The kind of stuff where you're already soaked in sweat before you make it through your warm up. Several weeks ago the humidity was so thick at 6:00 a.m. (so pre-sun) that it was actually foggy. Seriously.;
So what's a triathlete to do in these wicked summer months? After 7 years of living, running, and training in the Bluegrass I've come up with a few tricks that can help you get a handle on the heat.

- Plan your workouts around the heat
Some of you may not like hearing this, but time for a dose of truth: the coolest part of the day is in the morning. Before the sun comes up. Yes, that early ass time you haven't seen since you were coming home in college. But for summer training in some climates early mornings are a must when it's 85 degrees and 70% humidity by 9 a.m.

Also, pay more attention to your route in the heat. Usually run through the neighborhood without much tree cover? Maybe switch to trails to find some shade. This worked for me yesterday actually and it was a really nice little run. It's also important on long rides and runs to make sure you  know where you can refuel. Plan a route that has plenty of water fountains or store stops and bring cash for that ice cold gatorade at the sketchy gas station in the middle of nowhere. Which leads me to..

- Hydration Hydration Hydration
Hydration is always important but it's key for hot weather.  Firstly, make sure that you're hydrating well in advance of a long outdoor effort. If you wake up the morning of a 50 mile ride and your pee looks like iced tea, you're starting off with a deficit and you may not have enough time to make that up. And if you're not looking at your pee, then you're not truly invested in getting the most out of your training. Seriously, check your pee. It's not gross. Well, not that gross.

As far as hydrating during activity, there's a lot of debate about how much and how often. The old adage was "early and often" but now there's a lot of information out there about hyponatremia that's changing some opinions. I've had a lot of luck with what I learned from Be Iron Fit about my sweat rate. Sweat rate is complicated but it essentially involves figuring out how much water weight you lose after a vigorous effort. It gives you a number that specifically tells you how much you should be taking in each hour during a workout or race. If you're training for a longer race (specifically in a hotter climate) I highly recommend doing it!

- Summertime Specific Gear 
I love putting away my gloves, scarves, and balaclava at the end of the winter and pulling out my summer training stuff. This includes my nathan handheld and a series of hats and visors. These are a must for me when the weather and sun heat up.

Favorite Landsharks Headsweats Visor
- Sunscreen
This falls in the category of "Do as I say, not as I do." I try to put sunscreen on before going outside but...yeah, I forget a lot. What I won't forget is how miserable I was after TriFest back in May when I just got roasted during my first Olympic. I was a crispy critter. It took me 3x as long to recover from that race because I was so sunburnt. It really made me sick. So apply sunscreen!

- Prepare to alter expectations 
When conditions are hot and humid just accept you may not get the workout you planned for. And that's ok. According to, the Dew point (an indicator of humidity) can actually have the biggest impact on your effort. From July through August here our dew points are typically in the 60's. That means that most workouts are going to be 'uncomfortable'. This is one reason why I like Heart Rate training in the heat. Then you're running based on YOUR capacity and not some pace you set when temps were reasonable. For more awesome advice and info on hot weather running, check out the RunnersWorld Article here.

- Embrace the heat
While there are many ways to cope with the heat, there's no way to avoid it all together. So what's the remedy? In the words of SwimBikeMom, "Suck it up Buttercup." Get out in the weather early in the season to start acclimatizing to the heat. The worst thing you can do, in my opinion, is do all of your summer workouts on the treadmill or trainer. Particularly if you have a summer race! You need to get used to training and working in the heat so you have a true idea of how it effects you. So embrace it, love it, and get used to it.

What did I miss? Any other good tips for beating the heat?
Do you like running/biking in the summer?  I do. I hate the winter. 

Happy Running!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ironman 70.3 Muncie Recap - Part 2

This is part 2 of my recap of Ironman Muncie 2015. If you missed it you can check out part 1 here.

The Bike
     Goal: Under 4 hours (14 mph avg)
     Actual: 3:44:45 (14.95 mph)

I felt good getting out on the bike course. It was pretty crowded, which is totally unusual for me since I'm always in the back of the pack. The course took you out some (Crappy) country roads and onto the main 'highway' for two loops. It was hard finding a place on the course at this point with everyone passing me. I just tried to settle in and find my rhythm.

I was super conscious at this point of going out too fast. I felt good and was wary of burning out. I'd never really hit the wall on my bike and I wasn't interested in doing it now. The first 10k(it) was strong but according to my splits the first 28 were super strong overall, averaging 16.4mph.

The course was essentially two loops along the highway. Getting to the first turnaround was basically a breeze. The route back from there was more downhill so it was also not so bad. The first 25 miles weren't bad at all. The last 25 were another story. After about mile 30ish I started getting wary. My butt - and other lovely lady parts - was sore. My hips were tight and when I attempted to stretch my right hip even locked up on me. Ok, not doing that again.

The second loop was rough. After I hit the turnaround it felt like I went 50 miles just to get back to the turnoff. There were very few people behind me at this point and the course got a little lonely. Luckily, the temps were still low and I didn't feel like I was baking on the bike. Nutritionally, I nailed the bike. I drank every 10 minutes - thirsty or not - alternating between GuBrew and water. Every hour I ate some bonk breaker, every half hour I ate a Cliff Chomp. Basically, I was full. I brought two bonk breakers but only got through one and couldn't really force myself to eat the other.

Once I made it to mile 35 I realized I could essentially walk the bike and still make it back within the 5:20 cutoff. I was at about 2:15 and that put me at 3:00hrs overall. Yeah, I was gonna finish the last 15 in that amount of time. But how fast? My legs weren't tired so much as I was tired. I was tired of the bike, I was mentally tired. I just kept telling myself, "This isn't about your body, this is about your head. Pedal, pedal, pedal." I started feeling sick to my stomach. Looking back on it now I can't figure out how I felt so bad, because I remember it so fondly. But I was in bad shape. Later I realized the sickness was emotion - I needed to cry. Not cry, but sob. That achy feeling your stomach gets before you just let loose all anger and frustration and sadness. That's what I needed. But I couldn't do it.

Finally I hit the turnaround and turned, right this time back to transition. The 6 miles back to transition were brutal. The road was crap, it was hilly, I was over it. I rested in granny gear a little bit. Someone passed me and as he did he said, "Just keep going, we're almost there." We. Yeah, you're passing me. YOU are almost there. I"m still back here!

Finally I made the long turn onto the Reservoir road and I knew I was close. I slid into granny gear not for rest but for Cadence. I knew I needed to get my cadence up high to prep my legs for the run.

And there it was! The Bike in! And all the people and....and Hubz! He was there, waiting for me. (There was also some asshat with a baby stroller just walking around in the road on his cell phone that I damn near plowed over just out of principle).

As I approached the ladies at the dismount line I chuckled and said, "please god get me off this thing." Hubz was right on the other side of the barrier, smiling at me. In that moment I felt lower than I've ever felt. He was there, sweating his a*s off all day to watch me do this - and i might not finish. It was the first time the thought crept through my head. I couldn't look at him. I just kept pushing my bike back to my rack

     Goal: 4 minutes
     Actual: 4:28
I knew I needed to keep it short because I was losing energy. That sick, dry-heave feeling was sticking with me. All I wanted to do was sit down and cry in the grass and never get up. Just as I racked my bike I heard a familiar sound. It was Tom Petty....and it was a song I loved. A lesser known, unpopular song, but one of my favorites. And as he sang, "not me baby, I've got you to save me," I pulled on my shoes. Between choking, sobs of air, I sang along. I smiled. I moved out of transition. 

The Run
     Goal: Under 3 hours
     Actual: 3:04
Hubz was along the partition as I moved out of T2. He said, "you can walk the whole thing - you're crushing your goal!!". I just wanted to stop and hug him and have him tell me again that I was going to do it. I just tried to keep moving. 

 The run course is an out-and-back along a country road. A hilly country road. As I was starting out I saw everyone coming back. All headed for the finish line. I knew I'd get there, but I wasn't sure how long. I'd been moving for 4:30 when I started the run so I knew I had 4 hours to complete the run. Then it hit me - who cares if I walk this whole damn thing? Not me. This part is for me. This is my victory lap.

So I did. I walked almost all of the first three miles. Just get to each aid station, I told myself. I shuffled a little bit down the hills, from cone to cone. But I mostly just walked. Somewhere after the 4th mile or so I started talking to the woman in front of me who was run/walking. We laughed that it looked like we were gonna be seeing a lot of each other. She offered to run/walk with me and I told her I'd see her at the turnaround, then I would.

I kept my word on that. After 6.55 miles Colleen and I were best friends and determined to finish the race together. It was her first too, and she and her husband were both racing. Her son, Miles, was waiting for her at the finish. Colleen gave me something to focus on. I was going to get her to the finish line, and in the process get myself there too.

I ran into Stef after mile 7 or so and she was in bad shape. She was as broken as I was when I got off the bike. She stopped and hugged me hard, but I steered her back on course. I knew she would finish if she just kept going. "Just keep walking, one foot at a time," I told her. I pushed her on her way.

Colleen and I ran and walked. We stopped at each aid station getting ice, sponges, and gatorade. I grabbed some chews eventually to combat the sloshy belly that comes with so many fluids. My nutrition plan was essentially this: HYDRATE. It was getting really hot and the sun was out in force in parts of the course. We just kept going.

Finally we came to the final hill. I asked her, 'Do you want to go first through the finish chute?". "No," She said, "Go for it." So I did. Once I got to the top I could see Hubz sitting in his chair near the finish and I just lost it. That choky, nauseous, sobby feeling was back - but for a whole new reason. I'd done it. I'd flipping done it. I wanted to run the finish chute but I also wanted it never to end. And then, suddenly, it did. I went through the Finish Line at 7:37. I was a (half)Ironman.
I found Hubz and just latched on to him. I showed him my medal. I walked around. I was dazed. I went back to find Colleen. I wanted to thank her. Thank her for helping me help her through those last miles. For helping me find the strength in myself.
I met up with Missy - who was lightning fast at 6:03 finish - and she asked about Stef. I told her I thought Stef would make it but it would be awhile. It really wasn't. 20 minutes later Stef made her own dash through the finisher's chute. We'd all done it.
And just like that, after 7 long hours, I'd done it. I met all of my goals (though I was a little over on the run). I crushed my overall goal. And I'm a half-Ironman. There's no way to describe the feeling of accomplishing something like that. It's the worst best thing i've ever done. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ironman 70.3 Muncie Recap - part 1

There's enough to talk about here that I'm going to split it into two parts. I know, how dare I keep you on the edge of your seat? Sorry, dear reader.

Friday - the day before the race
Friday Hubz and I packed up the car and headed to Muncie. I took Ghost out for a pre-trip ride to get a feel for the tune up. Glad I had her worked on; her gears shifted much nicer and the breaks were sound. Also I hadn't been on a bike in over a week and, well, I was a little bit nervous with race day being my first re-try on the bike.

After a quick stop at IHop we were on the road. It rained almost every single mile up to Muncie. I'm not kidding. We found our hotel pretty easily, got checked in, and headed to the race site. While the athlete guide suggested otherwise, many had said that the athlete briefing wasn't mandatory. Either way, I wanted to make sure I attended just to hear the rules and get a feel for everything. The expo was a little insane! I met up with Stef & Missy - two friends from the Landshark group who were also  first timers - then got myself all checked in.

After I got all my stuff Hubz and I checked out the water start. I loved the easy beach access and the water looked super calm. Also, water temp was at about 75 degrees - 3 degrees lower than the day before and wetsuit legal! With the rain expected later and the cooler temps it was almost assuredly wetsuit legal.

We got Ghost all checked in to transition and I walked the bike-in and bike-out. Then I said goodbye to her for the night and we headed to dinner. Honestly at this point nothing sounded good - I was nervous! I knew apples had some pasta options and it was on the way back so we stopped there. I had some alfredo thing that actually tasted pretty good. After dinner we went back to the hotel and relaxed (watching Despicable me!). I filled up my bottles for the morning, stuck them in the fridge and set my alarm. 
Pre- Race Carbo Load
Ironman Swag - I'm a sucker for the M-Dot

Race Morning
 I woke up a bit before my alarm went off in nervous anticipation. I immediately started drinking water and ate my BelVita Cookies. Those things travel great and taste perfect on a nervous stomach. Luckily I did one last pack of my tri bag the night before so everything was ready to go. It was surprisingly cool - only 57 degrees! - because of an overnight storm. I was glad I'd packed a throwaway sweatshirt to wear. I pulled on my coeur kit and we headed to Prairie Creek Reservoir.

It was much easier to find this time because there was essentially a caravan to the reservoir. Not a lot of traffic in Muncie at 5:00am on a Saturday morning! We parked in a second "lot" a little bit away from transition. I was really glad I'd checked Ghost early because it was muddy and slippery and the last thing I would've wanted to deal with was my bike. I ate a honey stinger waffle as we walked and tried to keep my nerves down. 

I got body marked quickly and easily and set up transition. The person next to me never showed up so I had plenty of space to lay out my stuff. I chatted with some of the girls on my rack and my friend Stef showed up a little bit after. I took time to set up everything but didn't want to obsess over it  - as long as I had two pairs of shoes, a helmet and a bike I could finish this race!

Stef & Missy had to lug their stuff back to their car so Hubz and I waited at the Landshark area. A lot of the tri clubs participating had tents and were set up pretty comfortably by the finish line. I used the port-a-potty and waited around for Stef and Missy to come back. They announced they were starting the race 15 minutes late because of traffic issues so my 7:40 start time was now 7:55. Ugh. I was really nervous at this point - more so than I thought I would be. I saw my friend Jessie who was a few  waves ahead of me and wished her good luck. Finally it was time to pull on my wet suit and get ready to swim.  I kissed Hubz goodbye and he wished me good luck. Then it was off to line up with my wave. 

Stef, Missy & I were all in the same wave which was nice. We talked and I took my last gel and threw away my flip flops. Pretty soon we were "on deck" and the announcer was saying our wave! As we waded into the water the DJ started playing "Single Ladies" and everyone started laughing. It really helped to break the tension. Before too long the clock hit 7:55 and the bullhorn rang out signaling our start - and off we went!

The Swim
       Goal: Under 50 minutes
       Actual: 38:04
Since my wave was pretty big the initial frenzy at the start was a little rough. I let the wetsuit hold me and just tried to find some space. I was really proud of myself for not panicking (something many had warned me about). I kept moving left and looking for an opening. The course is kind of a floppy rectangle with a longer out to Turn 1, then a short section, then Turn 2 and back to the beach. My goal was to really stretch and relax in the "out" or the first side. 
It was hard to find a groove at first because people were super aggressive. I'd never had that problem in a race so It was a little disarming. At one point some woman kept pushing me to the right, practically swimming on top of me. I finally sat up and let her go. Little did she know she was swimming completely off course and into the middle of the lake. I took some sick pleasure in knowing that she'd get payback for her rudeness. I Kept counting buoy's and was at Turn 1 in a breeze. The reservoir was calm and still with almost no wind - sighting was a breeze! The short side went by super fast and before long I made the turn to home. I knew there were about 6 buoy's on this side so I decided I'd build to the 4th one before really digging in to home. I nailed the plan there. I kicked it into high gear at # 4 just in time to see the "Swim Out" sign. I pushed my turnover and really gunned it, passing a couple of the speedy dudes from the wave behind us. Before I knew it my fingers touched sand and I stood up. I looked down at my watch, 

I was shocked. If you'll recall I thought I could do a 47min swim but wasn't sure. 37 minutes was a complete shock to me. What a great way to start! After I saw that the butterflies went away. As all of the speedsters zipped past me, racing into T1, I just strutted. I swam a 37 min 1.2, I can do whatever the hell I want from here on out. 

Transition 1 - Swim to Bike
    Goal - under 4 minutes
    Actual - 5:50
From the beach and swim out to my bike it was about a quarter of a mile. I walked every bit of it and couldn't have cared less. I felt good knowing I had 13 extra minutes to play with in transition and on the bike. Also my heart rate was still pretty high coming out of the water and I wanted to start as close to neutral on the bike as possible. 

It was super muddy and dusty getting up to my bike. Luckily i'd anticipated this so I left extra towel available to stand on and wipe my feet off. I put on my helmet and glasses, strapped on my shoes and tucked away my bonk breakers. I walked to the bike out sign and up to the mount line. I took a deep breath and clipped in, pushed off, and headed out for 56 miles!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Week 16 Recap - End of a Training Plan

Somehow we're at the end. 16 weeks of training and one 70.3 race done. Hard to believe, but we did it!

Race week was really hard. I felt kind of run down after last Sunday's run and I thought the Iron Fit plan was a little aggressive. I paired it down significantly so I could get the rest I needed to feel comfortable for the race.

Best Workout of the Week
Without a doubt, Muncie. Duh. More on that later. For now, it's over. and I'm just a little bit (Read: a lot) sad about it. For the last 16+ weeks this race has been my everything. Now that it's over I feel just a little bit lost. But it was the best day of my life. I'm so proud that I did it.

Best Meal of the Week
The chips and guac I had at Chilis after the race. Also every egg sandwich I had ever during the race.

How do those 16 weeks add up? March 21 - July 11, 215:
And now it's done. So what's next? I really don't know, and that really really bothers me.

Happy Running!

Did you race this weekend?
Do you ever have "goal letdown"? How do you cope?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

High Hopes for a Half Ironman

Well, it's finally race week.

Last year I followed some blog friends and Facebook friends as they completed Ironman Louisville in August. I was in awe. I was inspired. I was....jealous. I wanted that for myself. When I brought it up to Hubz his reaction surprised me: "Why not?" he said. Right, Why not?

So I signed up for Ironman Muncie 70.3. Half an Ironman, but an Ironman nonetheless. In October I bought a bike. In December I bought an indoor trainer. In March I started a training plan. On Saturday, I will finish 70.3.

So how is this race going to look? Here's what I want to focus on in each element of the race:

Swim - 1.2 miles
  • Cutoff Time: 1 hour 10 minutes after final wave
  • Goal: Under 50 minutes
I think I can do this in about 47 minutes. It's pushing it a little bit and will greatly depend on water temperatures and wetsuit legality. This race is supposed to be a bit of a sighting nightmare but I still think I can manage an under 50 min swim. The cutoff time is 1:10 after the "final wave" which means 1:10 after 7:48. That gives me a total of 1:18 so I'm not particularly worried about missing the cutoff in this instance.

T1  - 4 minutes
Simplicity is key here. They should have wetsuit strippers so I should have an easier time getting my wetsuit off than at Race the Bridge.

Bike - 56 miles 
  • Cutoff: 5 hours and 20 minutes after final wave start
  • Goal: Under 4 hours 
I'm aiming for a 4 hour finish on the bike.  The final wave starts at 7:48 (only 8 minutes after me). If I finish the swim under 50 and keep transition short I should be able to keep it under the cutoff with time to spare. A 4 hour bike finish would mean holding 14 mph average. That'll be tough considering I only averaged 12.9mph on my 50 miler but I definitely felt I could've pushed it harder on that ride.
T2 - 4 minutes
This transition always seems longer because of shoes and socks. Focus on being purposeful through this transition; focus on bodygliding my feet and toes, grabbing the right nutrition, and shaking out my legs.

Run - 13.1 mile
  • Cutoff: 8 hours 30 minutes after final wave
  • Goal: 3:00 Hours
This one could be close because I honestly have no idea how my legs are going to feel. I felt pretty good on the run leg on race the bridge...but it was half the distance. Nailing my fuel and hydration on the bike - something I haven't practiced much - will be a key to success on the run. A 3 hour finish means averaging 13.44 min/miles. I want to stick to my 4:1 run:walk ratio, even if the run is a shuffle sometimes.

Overall Goal: 7 hours 58 minutes. 

Ok. Under 8 hours. Sounds reasonable....right?

I'm still trying to nail down my nutrition plan and hopefully I'll be able to post that before the race too. It's up in the air but I'm trying to actually have a menu, so to speak, for the whole day so I don't just bring everything under the sun.

3 Days!!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Week 15 - Last Official Week of Training

Well it's officially race week, which means that training is 15/16ths over. Wow. How has it been that long? Week 15 was pretty difficult, lets look at it by the numbers...

31 Miles? That seems so low!

Best Workout of the Week
One of my work buddies, Rania, was dying to run after being out of town for two weeks. The Tuesday Swim has been a real bear to get in so lately I've just been skipping it. I can gut through 1.2 miles, lets be real here. So I'm going to stop apologizing to the Ironman Gods for not getting that in. Ok, there I said it. 

SO as I was getting changed to run after work I was greeted with this:

Suffice it to say, I lost my shit. I should remind you that I"m using my 405cx instead of my fancy new triathlon watch because it decided to die after the DerbyFestival Half in April. Now, my (replacement) 405cx is toast. I almost went incredible hulk on my office. Instead, I posted passive aggressive sarcasm on Facebook. #Millennial #WhatElseWasISupposedToDo?

Anyway Rania and I went out on the waterfront. I'd really only planned on going about 30 minutes but we just kept chatting and running and made it down about 35-40 before we turned around. It was super humid but not too hot. We took several walk breaks but the pace was still pretty good. I was definitely sore Wednesday

Best Meal of the Week
All I really remember about this week's food is that I was not very regimented about it. Honestly I'm still craving these egg sandwiches on english muffins. Trader Joe's multigrain British muffins are for real. And watermelon. Lots and lots of watermelon. 

This is a four day weekend for me - THANK GOD. I took tomorrow off since my sis in law and nephew are headed up for a few days. Friday we honored our annual tradition by heading out to a local distillery. If you're ever in Kentucky you really do need to do a couple distillery tours. This year's was Four Roses and we had a blast! Well, except for the extreme downpour we got caught in on our way back to the tasting room. Oh well, Bourbon fixes everything.
The whole distillery is Spanish Mission Style

Last night we went out to the Louisville City Football Club game. It was my first and I'm hopefully we'll make a lot more - it was SO much fun! Baseball is just way too slow for me and there was so much excitement and craziness at Slugger Field. Luckily I didn't doom the home team with my presence - we won 3-0!
I do occasionally wear regular clothes and do my hair. Occasionally. 
Happy Running!

Do anything fun for the holiday?
How much time do you take to taper? I feel like my plan has me going all out forever!

Race the Bridge Race Recap

On June 14th I raced the Race the Bridge Olympic Triathlon in Louisville Kentucky. It was my second Olympic distance triathlon and I had a blast!

I'd never been to the race sight before so Saturday afternoon I headed down to Eva Bandman park to check out the transition area & Swim start. The park was dead empty which was nice. I was shocked by how low the river was, though, and a little nervous about the debris and mud on the riverbank.
Eva Bandman - This is a cyclocross park!
Ohio River& swim start
Transition Area
That night we went to a Louisville Bats (the Reds affiliate) baseball game. It was super hot and we had to walk a long way from the car. I could've killed Hubz for this because I was doing an Oly in the morning BUT i just decided it was an early warm up. Each person is allowed to bring one unopened bottle of water to the park so I had Hubz bring in one and had two. Not quite beer, but I finished them both.

Race morning I woke up around 4:30 for an 7:45 start. Transition closed at 7 so I wanted to make sure I got up and got all of my necessaries out of the way. I had a bagel and peanut butter and began to hydrate. It was looking like a hot day! Luckily I'd already laid out all of my gear and stored my bike in my car so the morning was pretty easy. All I had to do was wake up Hubz and crawl in the car. I drank an iced coffee on the way to the race site, which has become a bit of a ritual for me. I need my coffee!

Hubz was doing drop off and mom and dad were meeting me there for the race. Hubz could only get me to the front of the park so I had to take everything out and walk my bike about 100 yds to transition. I put in my headphones and tried to relax. When I got to transition I was shocked that my rack was the very front one! I know a lot of people covet these spots, but I was astounded that I was next to some of the fast chicks. Luckily I felt better because the girl across from me had never done a triathlon before. First complaint of the morning was how cramped Transition was. They had plenty of space in the parking lot for transition but not enough racks. We were all crammed in really tight and I barely had room for my towel. Oh well, it ended up being ok but I was nervous about hurting some of these super fast bikes!

I ate my honey stinger waffle (my new faves) and got body marked. After some poor communication I met up with mom and dad near the swim start. It was great to see them! They've really supported me through all of my crazy endeavors and any time that they're at a race it just makes me feel more at ease. At 7:15 I think they did the pre-race rules - though no one heard them - and then at 7:30 the gun went off for the first wave!

The Swim - 37:57 (42 min/mi)
Each wave had to walk out to a pre-set buoy to wait for their gun. To say it was muddy would be an understatement. There were places where the mud was over my knees. The shock of it was worse than anything but the temperature was practically perfect and I got to the buoy. When the gun went off I was able to get out without getting kicked or pushed and I was on my way.
We started out swimming up river, which is sort of north east. Sighting was impossible as the sun was just coming up. The small buoys were light yellow and impossible to see since they looked just like the sun. At one point I followed a group of swimmers way way left. I even passed a kayak! Ugh. The swim just felt long. I finally got to the orange turnaround buoy and headed back down river. I'd been told that with the right currant the downriver section was super easy. I did not find this to be the case. It was choppy! I had to swim like an ocean swim, diving down below the waves and then coming up for a few strokes. I definitely didn't feel like it was easier. Sighting was a lot easier though so I just focused on strokes. I counted sets of ten and kept my eye on the docks. Finally I was back to the start buoy. I swam until my fingers touched the bottom which was just about where we'd started from. Unfortunately, it was still a ways away from the swim out. I stood up and ran, then did sort of a dolphin dive variation until I got right to the steps. I headed up the dock and to T1!

T1 2:40
Based on the rocky shoreline I'd left some crappy flip flops out to stand on until our swim wave went. Well my mom picked them up and set them out for me when I headed up the carpet into transition. I'm so glad she did because the hardest part of transition was how dirty my feet were! I have this thing about having crap on my feet in my shoes. I hate it. Beyond hate it. So having the flip flops was a help. I don't recall feeling like I took too long in transition. I fought with my hydrapak a little bit (*more on this later), but nothing major. As I was leaving the girl next to me - a speedster - told me to take it easy on the bike course. She said there were some serious turns and people don't take them seriously. That meant a lot coming from her so I decided to be extra cautious the first lap. I hit the mount line and was out onto the bike course!

The Bike 24.28 miles, 1:38:37  (Avg. 15.1 mph)

You may recall that at this point in my cycling journey I hadn't quite figured out how to drink from my water bottles on the bike. Underhand mounting, saddle mounting - nothing worked. So in my last pre-race ride I'd worn my hydrapak and it worked great. I figured I'd use my hydrapak for Muncie so this was a test race.

The bike course was a 6 mile loop through downtown Louisville with the sprint race doing 2 laps and the Olympic doing 4. It was a tricky course because of all of the sharp curves and narrow turns. Also, there were obviously two turnarounds. If you'll recall from previous posts two of my 3 falls on the bike were in turnarounds. My plan: stop the bike and turn it around if need be. What did I care? I was going to get through this ride confidently and without crashing. On the way out plenty of people were already on the course and it was a zoo. I think there were some that were going too fast for the course, passing wildly on turns. The first loop was mostly just getting used to the course itself and the turns. My first loop was a measly 14.6mph as I got used to everything. The biggest problem on the first loop was the realization that my Hydrapak wasn't working! I played with the nozzle and everything - no water came out. Now it was starting to heat up and the sun showed no signs of easing up. I knew I had to get fluids or I'd be a dead man like at Tri Fest. After the first loop there was a straightaway that was flat and even. I told myself, "Gotta drink or get of the road." I evened out my pedals and reached down for my bottle. To my amazement I got it! I almost fell of my bike from the shock. I gulped some down and then kept on.

The last three laps were relatively uneventful. I focused on really pushing the straightaways since the random turns forced me to slow down so much. I kept a steady 15.1 for those laps. I also managed to keep drinking, taking in fluids on each straightaway. I also managed to keep my cadence really high at 88rpm average, which really excited me. I had a legitimately good bike!

After the fourth lap I headed back into transition. Since it was the only road out of the park it was a little bit chaotic with runners heading out (and in) and spectators and finishers walking to their cars. I put the breaks on and focused on getting back to transition without incident.

T2 2:02
I racked my bike and got my hydrapak off pretty quick. Of course, the second I got my hydrapak off all of the water started coming out of the nozzle! Wtf. Oh well. I got my socks and shoes on and headed out through the other side of transition. The heat was intense now and my garmin must've been feeling it too. The damn 405cx - my best friend and arch nemesis - was frozen. I'd planned on using my 5:1 run:walk ratios that I'd pre-set but apparently I wouldn't have a garmin at all. I cursed (a lot) and got out onto the run course.

Run 10k, 1:11:48 (11:35 min/mi)
My legs felt surprisingly fresh after the bike. This was the one time I enjoyed the dirt road heading out to the run course too. The dirt felt good on my feet and it wasn't a big shock to the knees. The run course was a loop too - one for the sprint and 2 for the olympic. One of the nice things about a loop system for the run is that I got to see all of the landsharks in various parts of the run. Most of them were way ahead of me but it was still awesome to see a fellow shark and exchange positive words. At this point the course was really hot and there wasn't really any shade anywhere on the run. They had two aid stations set up and the first one didn't have anything when I got there. I walked a lot in the first loop and then dedicated myself to my run:walk intervals. After the first few it was pretty clear the heat was excessive so I switched to 4:2 run:walk. This really worked for me and allowed me enough time to get the right amount of water and dump a lot over my head.

The second loop was really difficult for slow people reasons. Last few people on the course so there wasn't as much spectator support. Also the park we were using had a lot more people on it now and at one point I had a family of 8 just totally push me off the sidewalk. If I hadn't been so tired I would've chewed that mom out. Oh well. I pushed on in my intervals and kept chugging along.

Finally I was back into eva bandman and headed for the finish line. A nice guy with an RV asked if I wanted some hose water over my head. Oh boy did I! He showered me without getting my feet wet, that dear man, and off I ran to the finish. At the last turn I saw my mom and she was cheering so loudly, it made me so happy. I turned and went under the finish banner. My dad was right on the other side!  I finished my second olympic in 3:33:05!

Post Race Thoughts
I really like the olympic distance. I guess it is kind of the 10k of triathlon. Long enough to be an endurance race but short enough to not want to die the whole time. Not to mention, I beat my time at TriFest by almost 28 minutes! Obviously I ran a lot more of the run course, so that was an instant improvement. But I improved my bike time by a lot. That's what a flat course will do for you I guess.

My biggest complaint about the race was how poorly run it was. I was really upset when I finished and found that there was no food or water left. It was 90+ Degrees and they didn't have any water. That's criminal. It was a relatively expensive race (TriFest was $35, this was $95) and I felt like I didn't get any support or extras from the company that put it on.

But the pros? It's right down the street from me and an opportunity to OWS in a difficult venue. Can't beat that. I'm super happy with my performance and it gave me a lot of confidence going into Muncie!