Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ultimate Relay Equipment

Just thought I'd throw a quick post out about some of the equipment I used for the Ultimate Relay.  I may not list every little thing, but ones that I think should be mentioned.  The 'stuff' of that day was almost as important as my training.  Bonk, get a blister, saddle sore = not a fun day!  So here goes

Sable goggles - yes these babies are pricey but I love them!  I try to be extra careful with them and try to save them for open water only.  They calm the sun and glare and their water clarity is amazing!  I love letting friends try them to hear their reactions.
Xterra wetsuit - I used a old full sleeve (possibly a Vector Pro, but it's at least 6 years old, so not sure) on the first swim and my newer sleeveless Vortex on the last swim.  I know and believe full sleeve to be faster, but I haven't found one yet that fits my bicep well, and I love the feel of the water, I am falling more and more in love with racing in sleeveless.  Xterra makes good quality affordable wetsuits.

QR CD0.1 Ultegra - Ya'll have seen my bike plenty, and I still like her, mostly now because of her trademark color that so many people recognize me by, the color I hated when first considering bikes.  Funny eh?  The only complaint I have with the bike is the difficulty in adjusting the rear brakes mostly because of their position.
GU bike flask mount - simple, cheap, effective.  It's just nice having the gel securely in front of you within easy reach, especially when I wear a top that may not have great pockets.  Saves me the few seconds it takes to put it in a pocket in T1 too ... terribly crucial, I know ;)
LG Trilite shoes - wider, comfortable, cool zebra print on the bottom, and lighter than their carbon shoe but less money
Garmin 105 - nothing new or fancy, and I really only used it for a 15 minute timer to remember my nutrition.  Did not carry it on the run.
Pjur Original Body Glide - haha, you all will love me here.  So while I also used regular saddle creams like Chamois Butter, I took this from, um, another room in our house and tried it out on the very top inside of my thighs (bikini area basically, where my legs meet the saddle) and nether regions.  It's a liquid, not a cream, and it lasts a long time!  Really keeps things friction free which I worried about being on and off the saddle so many times.

Altra Lone Peak - wore this trail shoe on the first and  third runs and loved it.  Zero drop, rock plate, fully  cushioned, foot shaped (you don't know what that really means till you've tried Altra by the way).  Not that heavy either.  Wore it once without socks and once with, no rubbing.
Altra super secret prototype - yeah, that's all you get  :)  But it was lighter and great and of course zero drop and foot shaped
Nathan 4 bottle belt - not sure which one as it's several years old, I'm guessing the Trail Series.  Anyway, I like the flat back 10oz bottles and large rear pocket.  Also stored my run sticker and pills in the small front zip pocket.  I usually carried 2 bottles with me, 3 on the 3rd run.

CEP compression tri shorts - wore them for everything except the last run.  No rubbing, no chafing, and based off of more recent races I have to wonder if their compression really did help me, I never really tightened up or got sore till the last run, just tired.  The higher waistband in back is nice for aero and has a small pocket
Moving Comfort Juno bra - I've written a review on this one, it's my go to bra when there's swimming involved since it's racer back and my Jubralee while equally supportive has traditional bra straps.  Again, no rubbing, and I like it's padded straps.  I just have black but they have some really fun colors!
CEP compression sleeves - I wore them until after the 3rd run and I'm sure they helped some.  No noticeable drag at all while swimming in them sans wetsuit
Speedo swim suit - I debated what to wear to reduce drag on my non wetsuit swims as my bra and shorts let in a bit more water than I liked.  Didn't want to take the time or effort to change, so I pulled my training suit up over my shorts and bra and I liked it.  And these polyester, PBT, or Endurance fabric suits, I tell ya, they last forever!  The one I wore is 3 years old and I train in it every week!
Headsweats visor - love the elastic back

First Endurance EFS drink - love this brand.  Reviewed it here. LOTS of electrolytes in their products (way higher numbers than most products).  Tropical punch and grape were my flavors of choice and they're great cold, so I had a new bottle prepared for each ride in the cooler.  I concentrate my bottles with anywhere from 1.5-3 scoops/bottle.  I usually do about 100cal/hr
First Endurance Liquid Shot 'gel' - it's not a gel at all though, but a thick liquid (which I usually water down just a little).  I carried it on the bike and run in flasks and usually consumed 100cal/hr
Sportlegs and Metasalts -  I usually go EFS and Liquid Shot as my only electrolytes because of their high levels, but it was a very long and hot day so took these as prescribed for extra electrolytes mostly as precaution.
Prolytes - love this stuff in all my water in the 3 days before a race.
Coke - drank about 6oz on the last 3 runs for flavor, a little caffeine, and to keep my stomach calm

Husband - my rock that day.  What a guy!  Best support crew ever!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ultimate Relay SOLO: Race day!

Here it is, full of details and pictures  I'm going to try to remember everything.  I'd love to have the GoPro footage, but that will have to come later.

Race started at 7am.  I was up at 4am to eat my traditional PB&J (all natural everything, whole wheat bread).  Finished packing the car and the cooler and we were on the road late of course, at about 5:30am.  I drove the first half of the hour drive as Jer was out like a light.  Then we switched places and I really was a Triathlon Mom.  Sat in the back with the kids as to not expose myself to the whole world and pumped.  I was really stressed about not having enough time to do it because it had to be done.  I could not go a whole day with very full breasts.  My stress didn't equal a relaxed pumping session and being jostled around in the car doesn't help either, but I finished up just as we pulled into Pineview's parking lot.  From there I litteraly ran across a field to get checked in because I had less than 30 minutes before the race started.  I hadn't checked in, I hadn't set up, I hadn't used the bathroom, I wasn't even dressed in my race attire.  I was totally stressed, Jeremy totally wasn't.  He should have been.  This is where that list of what I needed where equiptment and transition wise would have been key.  I was scrambling to explain everything while running round like a chicken with my head cut off.  it's a good thing the pre-race meeting was broadcast loud and i was already familiar with everything course wise so i could set up during.  Jer stood in check in line while I waited for the bathroom and went and changed, got marked super fast and smeared sunscreen on.  Threw my bike into transition and the wetsuit on and ran to the water.  Asked a stranger to bring my wedding ring to the man in the parking lot up there with the white Sienna :) and started about 2 minutes later.  Whew!

Just for reference, there were 4 swims, 4 bikes, 4 runs.  Swims were 1000 meters, a double out and back, bike lengths varied from 13-41 miles, runs were 6 miles each, also double out and back except for the last run that was a loop.

Swim #1, Pineview - warm water!  I totally could have done without the wetsuit temp wise but they were legal and are faster so I just went with it.  That swim was choppier and more crowded than I expected and seemed a lot longer than 1000 meters (the story of every swim that day it seemed).  We got to get out and slap the finish banner before diving back in for a 2nd loop which is something I've never done but always wanted to.
Such a beautiful venue.  Big smooth sandy beach, green mountains, warm water, ahhhh

T1 - There were 3 solo women including myself, and I came out with the 3rd woman.  Hustled through that first T1 because that's what we're accustomed to and left in 2nd place.  The transition area was small compared to typical because most people are just tagging someone all ready with their bike or run shoes, so they don't need a rack.  Unfortunately a lot of people used them unnecessarily and it was crowded for us soloists.
And we're off!
Bike #1, 41 miles - What a beautiful ride.  Sun was still early morning not roasting sun, people were happy, the day was new and so were my muscles  :)  I really like the farm scenery through this loop too.  We climbed up a mountain toward Snowbasin ski resort where I passed the lead solo woman.  I was conservative but passed a fair amount of people on the way up just feeling good.  Not sure if that was smart or not though as many passed me on the way down.  Thoughts?  Near the top I saw Jer and the kids for the first time after they had pulled over and my 4 year old was out with her cow bell.  It was so fun every time I saw them to smile and wave and see them.  They stopped 3 or 4 times on this first ride.  I really looked forward to it.  The down hill was not super steep so I didn't freak out at all, that's always nice.  Probably 20 miles in I went over a little ridge in the road, nothing major at all, but thought it my head, I hope I don't flat.  A few seconds later I looked down to a deflating tire.  Darn!  I pulled over in someones shady lawn, texted Jer and got to work.  Turns out us having to have our phones with us on the bike was a good thing.  I had the tube changed and tire back on getting ready to use my CO2 when Jer pulled up.  He jumped out with the floor pump and pumped the tire up quick and I was back in buisness.  Maybe a 5-10 minute stop?  I wasn't stressed, it was a long day and this wasn't a huge deal overall.  I was now in 3rd place though as the other 2 solo ladies had passed me during my stop.  The climb up to East Canyon's dam is fairly steep and my head started to hurt from my sunglasses so I took them off.  Thankfully that was the only ride that happened on.  Passed a solo lady on the way up.  Finally rolled into T2 to get ready to run.
Heading up toward Snowbasin
BIke #1
We started in Huntsville
T2 - This was the first time I had to put my bike in transition after the beginning and it failed to occur to me that I should look for my run stuff Jer set out for me.  Duh.  So I racked my bike about 5 racks away and then ran back looking for my things.  Haha, oh well, no big deal.

Run #1, East Canyon - I was looking forward to this first run.  I knew it wouldn't be flaming hot yet and it was a good trail.  We left the campground and ran maybe 1/4 mile on the road before getting onto a somewhat hilly rocky atv road.  It was pretty running along side the lake, and had some shade, but mostly exposed to the sun.  The hills were close to walking grade but I don't believe I did.  Every run but the last was a double out and back so approaching the turn around I took note of where the lead lady was when we passed.  I left my sticker they gave me 1/2 mile into the run on the turn around board (their way of making way sure we did both out and backs, they'd give you another one on the second lap), and headed back.  I found the first out and back of every run always seemed way farther than 1.5 out, but at least on the second lap it seemed a little shorter because you knew exactly where you were and where the turn around was.  Upon approaching the turnaround again I noted that I had made up ground on the lead lady.  Very nice.  I was running fast but not too fast, it felt good.  Headed back toward transition hot but moving well and ready to jump into the cool water.  Made a quick stop in the bathroom building before finishing the run.
I ran sockless in my Altra Lone Peaks because Jer forgot to set socks out and no problems at all.  To all those  'I will only run sockless in my .5 ounce triathlon specific shoes' - I ran 6 miles in trail shoes without socks and came away unscathed - take that ;)  Ran with 1 bottle of water in my Nathan and forgot to bring my gel flask.
Waving high to my babies heading out on run #1

Run #1
T3 - Still in a hurry, yelled to Jer things I'd need for the next ride.  Grabbed my suit, cap, goggles and flip flops and ran the several hundred yards down to the water.  Every lake had low water levels, all but Pineview were crazy low.  This made things interesting and usually very muddy getting in.

Swim #2, East Canyon - I was excited to get in the water as I was starting to heat up and was curious how it would feel.  I mean I'd simulated it in practice, but still.  The water temp was great and I pulled my swim suit over my CEP compression tri shorts and sports bra to help reduce drag, worked well.  I didn't like the way my sports bra and shorts held water in practice swims.  My arms didn't feel as awful as I thought they would, but it did seem to be a long 1000.  I did do just a little bit of breaststroke and backstroke, but just for fun to break up the monotony, I was feeling fine.  It was peaceful to turn over and see the blue sky and warm sun while backstroking.  The water was very dark and I'm guessing shallow, but smooth and without wake at all.  Upon finally getting out I made a mess of my white CEP compression sleeves sinking a good 8-12 inches in thick mud.

T4 - Jer had everything ready to go and I suited up, grabbed some pills and was on my way.  The one thing they could definitely improve for this venue is parking for the solo support cars.  My husband and kids were parked a long ways away from transition when they were they ones that had to bring all my stuff down, teams could carry their own swim bike or run needs individually.

Bike #2, 21 miles - Felt fine heading out of the campground and swim and headed north along the lake.  Realized I didn't have a tube with me so yelled out to Jer, he pulled over a bit later and handed me my Pitstop (CO2 and sealant in one) just in case.  Then we proceeded up this beastly hill.  I mean I'd ridden it twice before, but it was so steep approaching it and it just kept going.  It was brutal, I was barely moving at times.  I didn't want to seize my calf up or anything.  Once finally to the top it was a nice handle-able but fast and fun long 5 miles downhill.  Through the little town of Henifer then a long barren boring remaining 10 or so miles before coming to the next lake.  I didn't see Jer or the kids at all on this leg and I missed them, but they had to get gas and were worried with how short the leg was they wouldn't make it in time if they stopped.  On those last 10 miles to the lake my neck really started hurting, I'm guessing from all the time in aero, but I'd ridden farther than this without issue.  Not sure what was up.  My butt about had it by then too, but I think I was still in aero most of the time.
Jer handing off the Pitstop
T5 - Happy to be time to get off my bike, had to carry it 20 yards or so on big rock gravel though, that kind of sucked.  Must have still be in go-go-go mode as I yelled a little bit at people around me because no one was there to point how to get to the run course and no one seemed to be helping me at all, just looking at me.

Run #2, Echo - This is a flat, fairly smooth, fairly straight wide dirt trail that follows the road and lake and is very exposed.  Now I was really feeling the heat.  I did ok that first 1.5 miles (finally figured out to put that sticker they give you in my Nathan belt front pocket, no way to keep it sticky with sweaty hands), but was dumping water on myself at the turnaround aid station and drinking more than I probably should have from my bottles.  I seemed to be about the same distance from lady #1 approaching the turnaround.  The second 1.5 was worse.  I lost a bit of ground on her.  I was roasting out there and feeling the bonk.  I think I had mentioned to Jer in the previous transition that I wanted my Coke and was expecting it when I hit 3 miles before turning around again.  He wasn't there (he was actually out in the van along the road trying to find me to hand it off to me, sweet guy) and I melted down a little but only for a second.  Did I mention I also forgot my gel flask for the second run in a row?  Ugh.  It's only 6 miles, but 6 miles as part of 134, gotta keep fueling.  Grabbed a Hammer Gel from the aid station which isn't what I was planning but it was smart.  Had to get something in me.  Headed back out on the death march and looked through my Nathan pocket and happened upon 2 white pills.  No idea what they were.  But I took them.  I'm sure they were probably some kind of electrolyte pill, they were capsules not like pain meds or anything, but I didn't really care, I needed whatever I could get and that would do.  It may have helped a little but it was the big picture I was after.  I started walking a little bit here and there on this second 3 miles but tried to just keep moving.  I always say to myself and others that you can always keep a slow jog going even if you're tired.  Heat is a whole other monster I guess, because that just wasn't true for me finishing up this run.  I ran in some prototype Altra road shoes for this one.
Look how low the water level is!  This is running south from the North Beach toward the usual Echo swim venue.  Literally, more than half the lake is dried up.  It's crazy.
My Mckayla waiting for me at the end of death march....I mean run #2
And my precious Talmage with my precious Coke....finally! 
T6 - Thankfully Jer and the kids were waiting at the end of the run with my Coke which I promptly drank all of (well all of the 6oz or so he had in my bottle).  He headed down to meet me in transition and I went for the bathrooms.  Womens had a line so I headed over to the mens.  I asked a few guys I saw from the doorway if there was a stall, they said yes and I started in, then I asked if anyone was naked.  Smart, I know ;)  I was fine with it so went in and did my thing, thanked the men and back to transition I went.  Gotta do what you gotta do right?  I believe it was this transition, but maybe the next one after the swim where I asked Jer for reassurance that it was ok to 'just' complete and not compete right?  He said of course.  He and I both knew I was suffering.  Grabbed my swim stuff and now more slowly wandered down to the lake.

Swim #3, Echo - The water again felt good to get into but as I started swimming I realized it was colder than the previous 2 lakes.  That or my body was just getting stressed enough to not be able to handle the cool water well anymore.  There were difficult waves to deal with both ways, but mostly on the way back of each out and back.  Waves combined with the cold water wasn't pretty.  We would go through thermoclines where it was so warm I thought about stopping to warm up but had to keep moving.  It would get so cold sometimes.  This was a swim that scared me.  I was without my wetsuit and I'm a confident swimmer, I came from a competitive swimming background, but this was spooky to me.  This was where I thought that someone in future years attempting the solo HAS GOT TO BE a good swimmer or wear a wetsuit, for safety reasons.  It felt long and cold and hard and I knew my body wasn't dealing with it well.  I did more breaststroke and backstroke than last time just to keep moving.  I tried to be smart and be willing to pull out if I needed to but thankfully I finally finished that swim.
Walking up from Swim #3 with Jer.  Walking, not running.
T7 - Jer and I definitely knew now that I was tired and the heat was getting me.  I still wanted to keep going and to help me mentally I thought about the fact that I only had 1 more swim, and I could and would hike the run at Jordanelle.  I decided to pull on my bike shorts on top of my CEP compression tri shorts for more padding (didn't really work but was worth a try), and changed into a new bike jersey because I was cold.  It's good too because it had the 3 big pockets in the back of which Jer filled up with 1/2 PB&J I packed as well as pills (Metasalt and Sportlegs), had filled up my Liquid Shot flask, and bike hydration and said to finish it all by the time I got to Jordanelle.  That was an order.  He also fed me a fun size Almond Joy and made me drink a lot while getting dressed there in transition.  I remember saying before that swim that I wanted to sit down afterwards but I never did.  Maybe a good thing, I may not have gotten back up.  You kind of had to keep moving for physical and mental reasons.
Packing up.  Notice where I had to 'rack' my bike.  A relay team member put their bike right on top of where Jer left my run stuff.  Uh, thanks.
Heading out to bike #3, carrying my bike 20 yards over gravel
Bike #3, 33 miles - I like this route.  It's pretty and not too hilly.  I was optimistic.  Difficulties set in quick though.  I couldn't get into aero, too uncomfortable in the saddle.  Fine, I'll ride sitting up, not the end of the world.  Oh look, a headwind.  Yay.  Made me feel like I wasn't going anywhere.  I joked with Jer and a friend's team that drove along side me to give me a ride.  The first 20 miles felt like they took FOREVER.  So discouraging to be pedaling with zero power and feel like it's going to take you so much longer to get there than you thought.  I was even doing the math about cutoff times in my head even though I knew I'd make it.  I texted Jer once with my frustration and telling him I'd be there way later, to stop somewhere to eat if they needed to.  Got stuck at a stoplight for 3 or 4 minutes.  About 15 miles in near Rockport reservoir I was almost out of water.  There are no gas stations or water sources anywhere until the next real town of Oakley which was still probably 10 miles away.  I thought to myself that I could make it there and meet up with him if I couldn't find anything.  I got about 2 miles further and started freaking out a little.  I had just had my last sip and while I still had warm EFS left, it's not water, and it would be gone soon too.  I texted him and said he had to turn around and come refill me.  I kept riding on until we'd meet up and got this " close to asking some random farm house for water.  It was bad.  My lungs even pulled some weird asthma feeling for a couple minutes.  I never would have guessed I'd run out of water so fast, but with the time elapsed and heat and wind, they have got to have an aid station there or make a mandatory support vehicle stop around there to refill athletes.  We finally met up and I pulled over and just laid my head down on my aero bottle while he pulled over.  He had a can of pineapple and made me drink the juice, shoved a couple pieces in my mouth, ice down my bra, refilled my water, twice, after I drank some, and after making sure I was ok sent me off with a chocolate Creamie in hand.  It made a mess of my bike and I tossed the tail end of it, but it was good while i had it.  The stop was probably 10 minutes and of course I'd never dream of such a thing in typical races, but this was no typical race.  Finally caught a bit of a non head wind (I dare call it a tail wind) to help me on the long straight stretch past Oakley and into Kamas and then Francis, went down the big hill and into Rockcliff park in Jordanelle State Park.
Shortly after leaving Echo.  "Please let me in the car??"
T8 - Surprise surprise, moving slow again, but not quite as bad as at Echo.  Put my Lone Peak's back on, ditched the jersey, questioned Jer about the 2 water bottles and 1 bottle of Coke in my pack (he didn't let me argue long, he was smart, I used it all) and off I went with full intentions of just hiking this 6 miles.
Kiddos hanging out at Rockcliff.  I asked Jer several times if they were doing ok and he said yes.  I'll just take his word for it.  What troopers
Run #3, Rockcliff - This was a wide single track, sometimes double track, real trail.  Pretty, but rocky at times, uneven, and very up and down.  Some big ups and downs at times, not much flat.  That was kind of a good thing though.  I would always hike the ups, but let the momentum carry me to a run on the way down, and on most of the flats.  It was super hot out and remote.  This was the one course that I find dangerous that no one (race staff or volunteer) was out along the course, not even at the turnaround (actually none of the 1.5 and 4.5 turnarounds had people there, just a sign to stick your sticker on).  That's a long way to have a runner run back in if there's an emergency.  And this was a hot and very hilly trail, it could have happened.  I was grateful to have all the fluids I did, and I used them.  They were almost out when I turned around at 1.5 and I was sure someone would let them know by the time I got back but I said something anyway at mile 3.  They had no idea.  Yikes.  They got a great volunteer out there on a 4 wheeler quickly, but still, they had no idea and people were drinking that water like camels.  The lead solo lady and I past by each other again and she definitely had more ground on me, but competing just wasn't in my mind anymore, this was about finishing.  I did figure out though by this point that she had a pacer with her on every run.  I wondered how it was she had the same guy running along side her every run, how could a team possibly be that in sync with her?  Yeah, he didn't have any numbers on his body.  He had to be her crew.  I don't know for sure that pacers weren't allowed, but I thought I remember reading something to that effect.
Coming back to the 3 mile turnaround I asked Jer for my flask thinking I'd forgotten it again and he informed me it was in my back pocket the whole time.  Nice  :)  Found a really nice guy, Dennis, to run with the last 3 miles.  We agreed to walk the steep ups but pushed eachother and kept a run on the flat and down.  He was great to talk to and we suffered together, he was so helpful.  Thank you Dennis!  I came out of this run feeling better about it than going in.  I'm happy with it.  Yes there was walking, but smart walking, and only on the uphills.  Mentally I was doing ok.
Heading out on the 2nd lap.  This was probably the flattest part of the course
My running partner for the last 1.5.  Great guy!
T9 - I told Jer after the swim at Echo that I was wearing my sleeveless wetsuit here no questions asked.  It was a safety thing at this point.  I, a confident swimmer, did not trust myself without it.  It wasn't super easy to put on all sweaty and such but we got it done.  We also pulled my CEP sleeves off before putting the wetsuit on.  They were nice, but I was feeling a little squeezed and knew it would be worse with the wetsuit on too.  Used the bathroom again, asking a few people if I could go in front of them.  I wasn't particularly discouraged like I was during Echo's run and swim and bike after, but I wasn't in racing mode at all really.  Wandered down to the water with my oldest 2 kids and took off yet again.
Last swim!  Another example of low water.  Typically the water level is right where I'm standing
Swim #4, Rockcliff - Water temp was good, again murky and water level again very low.  There weren't waves like Echo, but it wasn't smooth.  Still surprising my arms weren't total jello, they just weren't that strong.  I did some backstroke which I swam surprisingly straight, but mostly freestyle.  I was just ready to get this done.  Just like all the other swims it seemed to be way longer than 1000, but I'm sure it was just me.  Was pretty lonely out there, maybe only 5 swimmers in the water while I was.  I remember being a little worried that I was basically the last person out there, that everyone else was finished.  I was also worrying about my parents already being to the finish line with our baby.  I told Jer to text them when I started my swim there so they'd be up in time, and they were already there!  I wouldn't be there for at least a good 1-1.5 hours and then still had to run one more time.  I also worried about Jer and the kids, hoping they weren't too bored or hot.  Told them to go to the nature center there for AC but he said no and that they were fine.  He was so great that day.  Everyone was so great that day, my parents weren't upset at all, they just went and got some food while I got there.  Sorry, getting sidetracked.
Look at that water visibility!  ;)
Not sure why my body position looks so weird and angled like this, hmmm
T10 - Swims were done and only 1 more short bike to go.  The sun was starting to get lower and I worried again that I was like the only one still out there, that everyone else was long done, but off I went.
Walking up from the last swim with my girls
Bike #4, 13 miles - There was no sitting in aero as my tush just wouldn't allow it.  Bummer (haha!).  The winds were kind and although this was uphill for several miles I didn't mind.  The downhill is steep and a little spooky and I held the brakes more than I have before and more than I wanted to, oh well.  Once I got off the mountain and into Midway on River Road the riding was fast for a while.  Not sure why, false downhill flat I guess.  I appreciated it though.  Even though I had my Garmin and knew how far away mileage wise the finish line was it seemed to be taking FOREVER!  There were very few course markings and I just assumed a couple times I was going the right way because there were no more racers or cars with the race around me.  After finally getting to where I could see lots of cones, I had to ride 2 blocks past the finish line to rack my bike and start the run.  Not so cool.

T-11 - Was so great to see my parents and baby (and see them happy, not like "where the heck have you been?!" like I worried they might be) and Jer of course.  I put my bike up and everyone was asking me how I was.  I was ready to be done and I said things to that effect.  A race guy was like "you can be done now if you want to".  That was very nice of him, but uh, I can't quit now!  I was just whiny and wanted to be done.  I wasn't really sore, just tired muscle wise, sleepy wise, and mentally.  The sun going down didn't help.  I mean I was grateful for the lower temps, but it's interesting to say that, that the sun going down discouraged me a little, because I've always been just a little bit envious of those Ironman athletes who get to run in the dark.  Just looks cool.  Anyway, changed out of my tri and bike shorts under a towel and into my run skirt and Altra tech shirt.  Had to look somewhat put together for the finish line right?  ;)  And it just sounded more comfortable.

Run #4, Midway - Here's where I'll be really honest.  I waned to put on a good front, be prideful, show off, I don't know, whatever, but I ran the block or two out of transition out of my family's sight, then started walking.  I have never walked more in a race than I did in this 6 miles.  I was just out of gas.  My back hurt around a kidney every time I'd start running too.  Maybe a dehydration thing, maybe just a muscle thing.  Either way it hurt.  I'd try to start running/shuffling from time to time and could get a block or two, but then would get back to walking.  The course was pretty, all road, a loop and took us up, up, up to the eventual turnaround I though would never ever come.  It was kind of cruelly placed around a big corner so you couldn't see it till you were there.  I would've like to have run down that big hill and tried at times, but again, it was just so uncomfortable.  I was pretty comfortable with my position as 2nd solo woman, but the gal in 3rd was never walking when I saw her that day and came into Rockcliff off the bike closer to me than I expected.  I just dreaded the thought of her catching up and me having to fight even harder for the finish.  Not that I didn't want her to do well of course, she was super sweet and positive, I just wanted to finish in 2nd and not have it come down to the wire.  I finally saw her and felt pretty comfortable with where I was.  There was only water and Heed out on the course, I was really hoping for some food, gel, trail mix like they had on the other runs.  About a mile or less from the finish line my bowels started grumbling and I got that "oh no, gotta find a bathroom, NOW" feeling.  The kind of feeling where you're afraid to run.  Well, uh, we were on a neighborhood street.  No businesses anywhere.  I almost jumped into a bush in front of someones driveway (I know, gross) but I didn't.  I was really close to doing it though.  It really would have been indecent exposure.  Finally finally finally saw some cones in the distance and figured it was the finish.  Heard the sweet Jason Crompton who had finished hours ago (SOLO mens winner and like 5th overall! such a great all around guy) cheering for me.  Saw my babies and husband waiting for me before the chute (was hoping for my baby but oh well), grabbed their hands and finished.  Finished.  Completed.  Done!  All 134 miles!
Hard to see but Jer has his arm up cheering running in. Cute  :)
Look at my beautiful girls, and my handsome men of course
Love to see my Jer's smile in this one
The finish was unfortunatley nothing to write home about.  Yes there was a big inflatable arch to go under, but that was about it.  They barely announced my name, there were litteraly maybe 20 people there including race staff and recently finished teams and spectators.  Picked up my medal off a table still in the bag, and got a bottle of water and plate of grapes and trail mix.  Kind of pathetic.  I think the organizers did a really good job overall for a first year, with yes a few things I'd change, but the finish line was lacking, and that coupled with my exhuastion kind of bummed me out.
Thank you Mom and Dad for having Ella all day and especially for coming up, it meant a lot!
But my parents were there smiling with our sweet baby who survived without me, and my great super supportive amazing crewer husband and kiddos were there for me, my most important people.  I did it, I completed it and 5 months after having our 4th baby, as my mom liked to point out to anyone who would listen :)  I feel like I was in the best shape I could have been after Ella and while it probably wasn't quite Ironman shape like in 2010, it was pretty close.  I was only 30 minutes behind the 1st solo woman in a 12+ hour race, a lady who does 2-3 Ironman distance races every month.  I won't take any credit from her, but that's quite the endurance base, one that I just don't have so soon after baby. 
I finished without any health concerns like a pulled muscle, cramps, or head pain that I get on occasion that I feared would put me in a position to pull out.  I didn't want to be in a position to have to drop out or run into an emergency. Thankfully I didn't.  My body held up well, my nutrition went well, my equipment did well, much in thanks to my amazing crewer my husband Jeremy.  He was so positive, so supportive, so mentally into that day.  I know he gets stressed at my races hanging out forever and wrangling kids, but he was amazing today.  I never once sensed stress from him about following me around all day in the heat.  Thank you love!

I'm still analyzing the whole experience 2 weeks later (and will probably do another short post about my feelings about the whole thing as well as an equipment and nutrition summary) and a question many have asked me about whether this was harder than Ironman or not, I think it probably was.  I didn't struggle to finish Ironman St George, didn't ever walk, was able to stay in aero for most of it.  I think the having to repeatedly use the 3 different sets of muscles over and over is quite fatiguing.  I said that no, I didn't want to do it again for sure next year, but just like childbirth it just takes time to forget the hard part and I'm already thinking about next year.  I do however hold to the fact that if i am not at least in as good of shape as I am in right now, I won't.  It was too hard.  It was satisfying of course, but I definitely think it is a funner team event.  There is something about a challenge like this though, it was different and new and epic and I was all about that.  I'm proud of myself.  I/we did it!
Not the best picture of all 6 of us, but the best people!

Ultimate Relay SOLO: Preparation

Well there was a lot of training prep, obviously.  I don't know that doing this solo is really something you can train completely for unless you have 8-10 hours/day on weekends, but I did my best and tried to do lots of bricks and double bricks.  I rode and ran on every section of the course, something I found really helpful.  I can get apprehensive about steep descents (which this didn't really have), so it was nice to experience it first in a controlled environment.  It's also nice to have and know landmarks so mentally you don't feel like "are we there yet? are we there yet??".  I did manage to get a good amount of time training on the course, especially at East Canyon.  I was time efficient and have had to pump a lot to have milk for baby girl, and my husband was good about giving me a morning most every week he could stay home till noon. 
Swimming I just treated like normal, 2000-3500 yard workouts, Master's when I could, and some good open water time. I also spent several sessions swimming without my wetsuit to prepare myself for that.  Was good to see how my tri or bike shorts and sports bras did while swimming too.  Led to some equipment decisions for race day.  On the bike, my long rides were 40-65 miles and I feel pretty good about that.  Yeah my legs got tired, but I felt pretty well bike prepared, they were mostly tired from the running and transitioning.  It would have been nice if my butt were better prepared, but getting on and off the bike a lot actually makes it more tender race day I think than just staying on the bike for 6 hours straight.  Running is where I probably could improve the most for a next attempt.  I never ran longer than 13 miles for several reasons.  First, I couldn't run the last 3 months of my pregnancy because of pubic symphysis pain and then didn't return to real running till about 2 months after her birth thanks to a bad hemorrhage after her birth.  So I wanted and needed to be smart in building up my miles, but I figured where these are only 6 miles runs, running double that should be fine.  6x4=24.  I really should have incorporated marathon style long runs.  My last 2 runs suffered because of the lack of 16-20 mile runs I think.  Live and learn.  I just didn't have the time this go around.

Stuff wise, here it is.  I got everything packed up Friday, fairly nonchalantly, but I found a good method.  My husband Jeremy would be doing all my transitions and I didn't want him to get stressed about where everything was (considering how much stuff I had to bring, extras of things) and what I needed so I packed everything in separate cloth shopping bags.  Swim stuff in a blue one, bike stuff in a green one (to match my bike), and run stuff in a red bag.  I tried to keep these bags very simple and basic.  My tri backpack had all my nutrition and extra clothing in it (bike shorts, new jersey, run skirt, tech shirt, socks, sports bra).  Swim bag had a couple caps and goggles, wetsuits, 2 swim suits to put over my shorts and bra (will explain more later), and a swim top to put over my sports bra if I wanted.  Bike bag had chamois creams and lubricant, a couple tubes and CO2 and our spare bike bag with basic tools and flat change stuff.  Run bag had the 2 pair of shoes I would wear, socks, and baby powder.
Nutrition wise I froze 4 water bottles pre mixed with my EFS, dosed appropriately for how long each leg was.  Much easier to tell him I need a certain bottle (they were all different colors/designs) than 1.5 or 3 scoops and of what flavor as I changed between tropical punch and grape each bike leg.  Only thing I should have done different was to have frozen them several days in advance, overnight didn't have them frozen solid.  The first bottle you only want to freeze halfway though so you can fill it with water that morning to get it melting.  The others will melt in time or he could have set the one out I needed if it wasn't thawed enough. We had 2 large bottled water jugs in the van for refilling my aero bottle, kept one and the water bottles, jug of Liquid Shot, Coke, and snacks and food for Jer and the kids in the cooler with 2 bags of ice (wasn't sure the family would have time to stop anywhere for long and wanted to be sure they'd be happy and fed).  Definitely needed the 2 bags of ice.  I would have him fill the aero bottle full with ice before putting water in, right before I was ready to ride.
Another thing I would change would be to have not procrastinated writing down what I needed when.  I had planned to write down what bottle, what equipment, what pills I'd need at each stop, but didn't have time.  I tried on the way up but just didn't have time so I ended up having to tell him what bottle I needed, what pills I wanted, what run shoes I wanted along the way.  He adapted well though and ended up just pouring some Metasalt and SportLegs pills each in a ziplock bag labeled with their name and dosage and would leave them in transition so I could grab what I needed.  I didn't do so well with reading and thinking about what I needed and how long it'd been since I'd had some though, so he kept on top of it for me and told me while I was in transition how many of what to grab.  Worked nicely.  He was a lifesaver the whole day!
So it was time to drop my sweet baby off at my mom and dad's for the night.  Fed her and put her to bed there about 7pm Friday, wrote out her whole instruction manual which was probably way more than my parents needed, left her a nice supply of pumped milk and every toy we own and pried myself away from watching her sleep and went home.  Cleaned out (procrastination, I know) and packed most of the van, and ate a reasonable plate of spaghetti.  Didn't get to bed too awfully late, 10pm maybe?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saratoga Springs Tri - 2

2 in more than one way, you'll see.  I did this tri last year for the first time and was super impressed with the whole thing, organization, course, prizes, everything.  And this year was no exception!  Sprint only, open water, put on by regular people,  not regular race directors and yet they do such a professional job.  This is a race worth your time and the entry fee is very reasonable.

Swim 11:33 - last year there were big tall smooth waves, this year once we got out of the sheltered harbor there were waves, but choppier.  It wasn't quite as fun a swim as last year and I saw some people struggling, but not too bad.  I made up a lot of ground on the men here being a stronger swimmer, it felt good.  Water temp was colder than I expected after the rumors of 80+ degree water, but certainly wasn't cold.

Both transitions were smooth so I won't cover them beyond that

Bike 36.49- I went out strong and all I remember was as we were heading southwest toward the turnaround, I was surprsied to not see any men yet.  They started up to 10 minutes ahead of me and yet it seemed like they should have been heading back minutes ago.  Felt good the whole bike.  Saw my same green bike twice behind me and it's a weird feeling.  I told one guy on it that I passed that they like to go fast, pick it up  :)  I said it in a nice joking way I promise, or maybe I just thought it and told him nice bike as I passed.  Got to see my friend Becky coming down from her neighborhood to watch just as I was heading back down in to T2.  Forgive the lack of detail, it's been a while since the race and details escape me.  I am happy though that I finally had the fastest bike split for the women, hardly ever happens.  May not have been as good of competition as other races, but I've been working on the bike for a few years and I was happy to see this at least.

Run 20:07 - Went out fast not knowing how far ahead I was, saw Becky as I headed out on the first section.  A friend of mine, one of the race directors, Blake, came riding by me on this little mini dirt bike and got me excited saying something about prize money.  I passed a few men I was looking to and kept up a good effort until the last 1/4 mile when I started feeling a little fatigue.  Finish line is a great downhill maybe 1/4 mile stretch facing the lake with a big timing clock and big red arch and spectators.  Perfect!

1:09.27  which looks like 1 second faster than last year.  I'm guessing the bike was longer or windier this year and the swim shorter since I was 5 months pregnant then and pretty sure not only 1 second slower than this year  :)  Enjoyed some of the great post race food (seriously, there's such a great variety there, it's appreciated!) and chatted with Becky and other friends.  Wandered over to glance at results not thinking much of it, and low and behold I saw my 2nd place....overall....with the MEN!

I'm not sure how, if the couple men below me that I've never beat just had a hard day especially with the swim or what, but wow!  That was exciting!  Awards were great, plenty of raffles and I once again came home with more money than I paid to race and drive down and back.  Love this race!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I did it!

and it's over, and that's a good thing!  Ultimate Relay, man that was hard, probably the hardest race I've ever done, yes probably harder than Ironman. 12 hours and 59 minutes of long hard hot hilly work.

I don't want to give the whole report here yet because I want pics involved (yes it's going to be a looong post), and my husband used the GoPro camera the whole way so that will be way fun to put a video together of the day, but that's a while coming and I care about you all enough to give you a brief synopsis (and very long run on sentences).

1st swim was a very choppy start, really enjoyed the 1st ride but I did flat out partway through where I moved to 2nd solo woman.  Jer came quickly to my rescue though and I was back in buisness.  1st run was good, felt fast, but still controlled, made up ground on the lead lady.
2nd swim was good temp wise as I had no wetsuit, very muddy.  2nd bike had a beast of a hill up and out, 2nd run I started to bonk.  It was a flat run yes, but exposed and very hot.  I took a few white pills I found in my race belt, have no idea what they were, but I took them anyway (I'm sure they were just some electrolyte pill).
3rd swim was tricky.  Waves and wind made it difficult to swim half of it and the water was cold enough and I'd been pushing my body long enough that I was getting cold and a little concerned.  Was grateful to be out.  Took my time in that transition and changed my gameplan to complete vs compete.  My husband filled my pockets with food and pills and said to eat it all gone by the next transition.  3rd ride was long and hard.  Fierce head wind then cross wind, ran out of water and got almost desperate enough to knock on someone's door, thankfully Jer finally met me along the way and refueled me (and forced me to eat a creamie).  Finally a tail wind the last 10 or so miles of that 33.  I went into the 3rd run thinking of it as a hike.  I did run the flats and downs but the hike plan was a good one and I was fairly pleased with how it went.  Hot as snot though and very hilly.
Whew!  4th swim and I didn't trust my exhaustion so we got my wetsuit on, no questions asked.  Smart move.  Finally got through that swim too (they weren't super duper hard, I was grateful not to be as jello as I expected for them, they just seemed to be a lot of work and take forever) and hopped on the bike for the last ride.  It was a good one and although I was watching the mileage and knew exactly how much farther I had, the last mile seemed to drag on forever.  It was a lonely ride as was the last run.  I was happy to see all of my family waiting for me at transition including my parents and baby.  I didn't want to head out on that last run but of course I did, I didn't want to quit, just wanted to be done already.  It was again hilly and was lonely and dragged on endlessly.  My body was so tired and depleted and my back hurt and I've never walked so much in a race as I did in that run.

But then the finish came, it finally came!  A sweet friend, Jason, the mens solo winner and something crazy like 6th overall waited around just to watch me finish and I heard him yelling down the street.  Ran through the finish with my husband and older 3 kids and I was done!  I did it.  The finish was quiet and nothing excited which is I think why I'm not super exuberant about the whole thing right now, but I think it's also becuase I'm very drained and tired and I have nothing to compare this too because it's so unique.  I'm proud to have done it though and not have hurt myself.  I didn't want to run into any scary sinereos where I would have to consider dropping for my own safety and thankfullly I avoided that.  It was very long and hot and hilly and hard but I did it.  I talked to so many great people on the course, made a few new friends, found a few blogstalkers (who I love!) and was inspired by people.  My kids were a joy to see along the way and my husband was amazing.  He was so positive and supportive the whole way and made sure I had everything I needed.  He was such an amazing race crew.  Thanks to TriUtah for putting it on as well.  Of course there are suggestions I have for next year as this is a new race, but I think it went well overall.  More details and pics to come!  Thanks for all the congrats people have wished me already on Facebook!
My crew