Eagleman – Bike, Run

One of the first things I did when I found out I was going to be in Maryland for work was start planning all the triathlons I was going to do while I was there, culminating with Ironman 70.3 Eagleman. I decided to make a weekend out of it with the family, despite burning out my husband on race-cations previously with RunDisney (as it turns out, having your partner wake up at 0330 the entirety of your trip and then wanting to go to bed at 8 pm doesn’t make for a fun time for the other person). To try to make it fun for him, and Screaming Rabbit, I booked us all a room at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay, mainly because it was the hotel recommended by the race site.

At the last minute, one of our dogs wasn’t feeling well after being stung by a hornet in the face so we decided to bring the two dogs along and just board our cat solo. Fortunately, Hyatt is very pet-friendly and the pet fee was actually cheaper than boarding (by a lot, actually). I was pretty nervous about how all of us would do with sleeping in the same room but actually, it wasn’t a problem. We moved the loveseat in the room to put Screaming Rabbit’s Pack-n-Play behind it so she couldn’t see us and protected her from any extra ambient light that might disturb her. She napped well and slept great. The hotel was awesome. In addition to a very affordable pet fee, they had a dog bed and dog treats in the room, which my dogs really appreciated. Plus, they offered a shuttle to and from the race start and opened their market early so we could get coffee and something to eat before taking the shuttle to the race.

I remembered how crowded the expo was at Augusta, and figured Screaming Rabbit might nap in the car so right after lunch on Friday we took off so we could get there as soon as the expo opened. We were so focused we forgot to eat any lunch ourselves, so we stopped at Maryland’s most surprisingly-crowded Chick-fil-A and scarfed down a Spicy Deluxe sandwich which Screaming Rabbit ate the fries. One sated, she settled down and did take a nap for the final hour of the drive. Not exactly the best nap duration, but she was in a pretty good mood. To save space we brought our Thule hiking pack instead of a stroller so ManSheep wore her and walked the dogs around while I checked in and bought a few things from the merchandise tent. Since the water temperature was a whopping 77.8 degrees, I didn’t bring my wetsuit with me. I swam Augusta without a wetsuit so I wasn’t worried and actually, the hair-matting I had from St. Mary’s kind of made me hesitant to wear it any time soon without needing it. They had an optional bike drop-off on Friday which I chose because I didn’t want to deal with crowds on Saturday. I wish I had taken a picture of it all alone on the rack because I thought it looked pretty, but I left my phone in the car.

Saturday we walked around downtown Cambridge, hoping Screaming Rabbit would take a morning nap (no) and had an early lunch at RaR. I’m not a fan of IPAs and so we had the only thing that wasn’t an IPA or Pale Ale on the menu, plus some very, very salty breadsticks and crab dip and beer cheese. I was pretty tired at that point and Screaming Rabbit was showing no signs of stopping so we went back to the room and she and I took a long nap.

I put all my race things together and set my alarm for 4 the next morning. I took the dogs out and then came back, braided my hair so it wouldn’t tangle and checked my bag one last time.

I always feel like an unperacker/minimalist next to everyone with big transition bags. What do they keep in there? I was carrying my full-size bike pump because I always forget to inflate my tires and carrying it makes me remember, but that was the only thing unusual. Everything else I had fit into the small dry bag they gave us at check-in, which was great also because the forecast called for rain.

I set up my area with plenty of time to spare so I wandered down to look at the water. To my dismay (and others’ happiness), the water temperature was under the wetsuit legal limit. The water looked a little choppy, but fine. I’d done a warm up swim the previous afternoon while ManSheep tried to keep Screaming Rabbit from eating sand, and the water was fine without a wetsuit. I waited around the swim start until a race official announced that due to a small craft advisory the swim was canceled and they would be doing a time-trial bike start by bib number beginning at 7:45. Whoop.

I wandered around for a bit, texted ManSheep about the swim cancellation, and debated buying a donut because I was hungry. They set the pros off on the bike with 45 second intervals in between, then the paracompetitors, then all of us by bib number. If you think 2,800 cyclists all starting together sounds crowded, it was. There was no way to avoid drafting on the course. The only time I was 6 bike lengths behind the bike in front of me was if the bike was six bike lengths ahead. I saw a few slips and falls and heard later there was at least one accident.

The course was definitely windy and the forecasted rain, which I’d been cautioned to not count on, also showed up. My visor fogged so much that I kept having to wipe the inside with a finger and debated just tossing or trying to put in my bib pocket. I lost my aero bottle and then one of my beloved Team SOAS bottles when I didn’t quite get it reseated in the bottle cage. I actually thought about going back for it. Despite all the traffic, I made really good time on the first half – almost 20 miles per hour which is awesome when you consider that at Augusta my average pace was a measly 15 miles per hour. Oof.

Then I turned the second half of the course and realized that what I’d considered wind before was like a slight breeze compared to what I now had to contend with. My pace slowed way, way down (though also I was getting a little tired at this point, and hungry and I kept thinking about what I’d eat after the race – chocolate croissants, a big turkey sandwich, anything and that’s when I took a Gatorade from an aid station and basically downed it before the trash point because I was so hungry). My average pace for the bike course still averaged out at about 17 miles per hour and I am SUPER proud of that! I felt like I had a good bike and was a little bummed to see it end, especially when I remembered I still had to run a half marathon.

I was momentarily distracted by seeing ManSheep and Screaming Rabbit at transition before heading out on the run. It was a good boost.

The run was still soggy and still windy and I was rewarded for all the long runs I’ve skipped in the training plan because my pace was s l o w .

I tried to keep myself to a 9:1 run walk interval and that worked for a long time until I convinced myself I felt pretty good and to see how far I could run until the wheels fell off and that I could negative split the second half.

Answer: No, kids who shortchange their training plans pay with interest on race day.

My second half was notably slower than the first half and my right knee felt so stiff. It actually hurt to walk and felt like the Tin Man when I ran. Still, the miles were ticking down and the volunteers out there were great. Plus, I saw several SOAS teammates out on the course and one at an aid station and we pep-talked each other. The last mile was just straight-on wind and man, that was rough. I admit I walked a bit. It was beautiful but so, so windy. I did manage to push out whatever I had left at the finish line and passed both guys in front of me who had slowed to open their arms overhead in the champion pose.

I gladly collected my finisher lunch box. I opted for vegetarian which was maybe not the best choice. It was a tortilla wrapped around some carrots and maybe a sauce? The chocolate chip cookie was the stuff of dreams though. Unfortunately, I got up and was suddenly unable to bend my right knee at all. My original plan was to ride my bike back to the hotel but this was definitely not going to happen now. I texted ManSheep and he drove to pick me up. I gimped around the hotel the rest of the evening and tried to google my symptoms (fortunately, not a torn meniscus like Google said, or probably an IT band syndrome, but probably a sudden irritation to said IT band).

I took a few days off following the race to rehab my knee and also refocus my efforts. I was really pleased with how I did at Eagleman and I think I will be able to beat my time at Augusta from last year. I’ve still got some baby/desk job weight hanging on that I need to cut and I think that will also help with increasing the output I can do.

Still, not too bad of an ending to my time here in Maryland.

One Month In

The first month of 2019 is over and I’ve moved to a new state, started a new job, and started a new training plan. I signed up for the Preseason Project with TriDot since it was free. I like training plans a lot but I’ve had trouble when my schedule didn’t support the workouts and also had trouble figuring out how to schedule races and how to switch from distances.

TriDot had me punch in my recent assessments and then allowed me to set up my race schedule, within reason since it wouldn’t let me pick either of the 70.3’s as my “A” race since my volume is too low to be realistic, but I could pick a couple of sprints or half marathons as an “A” race and settle everything else after that. Right now I have my first race of the season as my “A” race, and the 70.3’s as C races. That might not sound very exciting since people tend to focus only on the A race and maybe smaller sub-goals under that, but I really appreciate how it keeps me realistic with my goal-setting.

I also like that I can move my workouts around for my schedule. I’m fortunate that my current work schedule leaves time for swimming and the pool here is open on the weekends. I do have a crunch to get it in before work during the week, but I like that I can move at least one of my swim workouts to the weekend when I can give it more time.

I also started back up with Zwift, but that’s another write up for another time. The only thing I’ve really been struggling with lately is running. It’s cold and dark outside (and icy, ugh) and I just hate it lately.  I got some new workout clothes (because I also don’t have cold weather running clothes anymore) and that’s helped a bit but man, I’m having such a hard time holding myself to my running workouts, especially if they’re long.

So for February,  my goal is to get in all of my run workouts. Ideally as written, but I will settle for just running when prescribed.

A goal: Get all run workouts in as written

B goal: Go running when supposed to (modified workouts)

C goal: Run for the prescribed time (workout be damned)

Another plus side is I’m close enough to work that I can run/bike when the weather warms up a bit and my kiddo is fully weaned. I’m not interested in trying to figure out a commute also involving a breast pump and pumped milk right now but once I’m not pumping anymore it should be much easier to accomplish something like that.

Pumping in Triathlon- Breastfeeding and Racing Endurance Sports

I wanted to write this specifically because when I was trying to find information about breastfeeding and pumping and endurance sports, I only found an E.T.-handful of articles (two, if that was too obscure). Screaming Rabbit is seven months old and has two meals of solids a day but is still nursing otherwise.

Upfront disclaimer, I had a lot of help. My husband is more of a gym rat so we can trade off pretty easily, and our gym has childcare hours. She also goes to daycare and since I work shifts, I can usually get a workout in during the week either before or after I drop her off or pick her up. Still, it’s not perfectly easy. I try to pump every 3-4 hours during the day and if she gets hungry while I’m working out and I miss a feeding, I have to pump. If I’m taking her to childcare I try to either time it for right after she eats or to “top her off” before I go, which also means I am dressed and packed for the gym before she nurses.

The Training

I did two sprints, a swim, and an oly this summer. With each of those, I pumped on the way there and on the way home. I kept a lunchbox in the car with ice packs in it to keep the milk cold and used Medela wipes to clean my parts, or I’d bring a second set of parts.

The Plan

From my training, I knew I was going to be really slow at the 70.3 distance and that I’d need to pump at least once during the race. My goal was to pump as close to the start time as I could, pump again in T2, and then as soon after the race as I could. I bought a second pump from eBay to stash in my car and had the other one in transition and a manual pump with my morning clothes bag. The pump in transition I had set up with everything connected so all I had to do was put on my pumping bra and hit the on button on the pump. I had an insulated lunchbox in the tent with multiple ice packs to keep the milk cold as well and prevent it from spoiling.

I also asked Ironman about a place to pump and they actually set up a tent just for me to use to pump in private. I thought that was so huge of them. He said they get requests infrequently but it’s not unheard of. He also offered to let me pick where to put it (within reason, of course) and it ended up next to the volunteers applying sunscreen right by the run start.

How It Went Down

Race day I screwed up two things: I forgot the second set of pump parts and also didn’t put the manual pump in a big enough ziplock bag to keep it clean. The first meant that I had to use the transition pump and parts before the race start which meant that the T2 pump session was contaminated and had to be dumped. The second meant that when I got my morning clothes bag, I had sand in the manual pump, so it was dirty as well and needed to by dumped.

BUT, I still took home two bags of pumped milk for my kiddo kept cool with ice packs in an insulated lunchbox. I also was able to complete the event without breast pain and keep my supply up. I am really proud of myself for not only finishing my longest distance event ever, but also for doing it seven months postpartum and feeding my daughter.

Playing it by Ear

Around this time each year is when I start planning my race season for the following year. Mainly because it’s fun but also because it keeps me motivated through the winter (which was really important living in Alaska’s Golden Heart of Darkness). I started doing the same thing again recently when I got a shot of reality from a fitness and pregnancy group I follow.

Namely, I may not be able to bounce right back like I naively think I can. What if I have a c-section? That’s six weeks at least just to be able to heal not to mention the lack of sleep and if I’m able to breastfeed, having to feed her frequently.

And if there’s other factors as well, I have to take that time off to let my body heal without straining it or injuring it further by trying to push it too soon. I’ve recovered from marathons but this is something totally different. I’ve never recovered from birth before, plus I have no idea how different my life is going to be. It’s sort of like traveling – even though I can read all the guidebooks, it’s still going to be different experiencing something for the first time.

It’s hard to hold back from registering for a bunch of races, but even if I lose out on early bird discounts, it’s still better than having to choose to not start and feeling like a failure for it. I registered for a lot of races this fall and winter because I didn’t really think I would get pregnant and now even though it’s dumb, I feel like I’m failing myself by not doing the races.

So instead, I’m going to focus my efforts on keeping myself active and healthy through pregnancy, taking the time and put in the work to recover safely, and stay involved in sports through volunteering. That way I can still be a part of the race and honestly, races and events rely so much on volunteer support.

Rev3 Williamsburg

A couple of weekends ago I took some leave and drove up that weekend to spend some time with some friends from college and also figured I’d squeeze in a triathlon while I was visiting. I spent Friday night at her house, after some car trouble along the way, and the Saturday we dropped my bike off in Williamsburg before heading to Richmond to meet up with our other friend. Her house was about the same distance to Williamsburg as Richmond so either way I was going to have a little bit of a drive.

They ran a sprint and some kids races on Saturday so we drove over afterwards. I was so impressed by what a big race this was and how well organized it was, too. Triathlon was completely novel to my friend so it was sort of fun showing her around and explaining to her the different things.

Also, Rev3 has really nice packet bags. I got a reusable shopping bag with a nice t-shirt, a visor, and several samples of different snacks. I wish I had taken a picture of it all, but I didn’t even think of it until just now.

In hindsight, I maybe should have just gotten a separate hotel for that night because it would have been easier to get my mind into the game. I had trouble sleeping and I had a lot of doubts swirling around in my head because it was my first olympic-distance triathlon. I told myself I’d feel better in the morning and if I didn’t, I could reassess then.

I felt way better that morning and got up with enough time to head out and stop and get something easy to digest for breakfast. I like to have an hour to set up my area so I can eat, use the bathroom, and not be stressed. Rev3 was running a half iron distance about thirty minutes before the olympic distance so by the time I got to the park, things were very busy. I had to make several trips back and forth from my car to the transition area because I kept forgetting things. Finally I had time to eat my food and then decided to go watch the swim waves start. It’s a good thing I did, too because they decided to move everything up half an hour. I wandered over just as the folks in silver swim caps (I had a silver swim cap) were entering the water and waiting for the start. I rushed in, threw on my cap and goggles with ten seconds to spare.

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IMG_2536The swim was in the Chickahominy River and mostly pleasant, aside from the one guy who kept trying to swim on my feet and legs. I got kind of annoyed by that after the fifth time it happened so I spent some time splashing a lot to get him to sight and go away. My doubts came back and I started wondering if this was just a bad idea and if I should just scratch. I just felt really, really tired and another two events seemed insurmountingly hard. I switched to a two-stroke breathing pattern and that made me feel a little better and then told myself I’d finish the swim and then reassess. The last 100 meters or so the river shallowed a lot. I went to tread for a minute and the bottom was right there. Some of the taller people were hitting it with their arms with every stroke. As a result, all that river silt got kicked up and thoroughly coated me in a fine layer of dirt that later dried. Lovely.

I took some extra time in the transition area, ate a Stinger gu, drank some water, and felt a lot better so I headed out for the bike. I learned that I am a very slow cyclist, especially when I compare my average pace to the others in my category. I am slow. But I really enjoyed the course. It was mostly shaded (thank goodness because it was hot that day in Virginia) and only some gentle rolling hills and lots of pretty country houses and farms to look at. I felt really positive during the bike, even as it seemed like everyone and their mother was passing me.

Finally I hit the transition and headed out on the run. Again, the run was mostly shaded and the only big challenge was running over the huge bridge over the Chickahominy just after the start and right before the finish. I was concerned about overheating so I walked at every aid station and drank water and they also had Coke, Powerade, and these amazing ice cold sponges that I stuffed down the back of my sports bra and felt amazing. I also threw the ice from my water down the front of my sports bra and although it made me sound like a soda while running, it felt great. I was so happy to see that Chickahominy bridge the second time because I knew I was almost done. I tried to smile for the finish but it sort of looked like a grimace. I was good and tired by the end of it and so was also overjoyed when they gave me a sports towel that had been soaking in ice water to drape over my shoulders. I used some of it to clean off the dried dirt on my chest, arms, and neck.

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Rev3 put on such an amazing event. They had booths from different vendors and also a barbecue for the finishers. I wasn’t very hungry but I ate some baked beans and an oatmeal cookie and got a ten minute session in some Normatec boots that really helped ease my tired legs.

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I was in the mood for a caffeine pick-me-up before I tried to drive home that night (spoiler: didn’t make it, spent the night just inside the 250 mile radius of work) so we went to American Brew, the coffee/whiskey bar owned by one of my heroes, Ashley Horner.

I was happy just to be drinking a latte there when Ashley herself actually came. I was too starstruck to say anything to her, but she say my race tattoos still on my arms and asked what race I did. We had a chat about triathlons and swimming and I told her I was a huge fan and asked for a picture. I’m always nervous meeting new people, especially when it’s someone I admire because not only am I a little worried I will act or say something stupid, but I also don’t want to be disappointed by them. I’m so happy to say that Ashley was as unbelievably kind and warm as she comes across in her posts and videos. I was so thrilled to meet her in person and between finishing my first olympic distance tri and meeting her and also getting to see two of my best friends, it was a really incredible weekend.

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Tri the Parks Blalock Lakes, Take Two

Blalock Lakes was my very first tri (typing that makes it sound like I’ve done sooo many, ha!) so I  knew I really wanted to do it again, plus I wanted to try signing up for an entire series. I missed the first race of the series because it was back in April, but I was so excited to do Blalock Lakes again, especially now that I’ve actually been doing some training.

I planned to drive to Newnan after work so I packed everything in my car so I could leave from there. It’s a good thing I did because my shift ran long and I just made the packet pickup with a few minutes to spare.

I’d also planned on camping but it turned out that the park had actual gates and closed them between 10 pm and 7 am, which was a problem because I wanted to be at the start at 7. So instead I ended up driving back to Newnan and getting a hotel room for the night. Again, I lucked out because the hotel sold out a short while later.

I set my alarm for the next morning but I woke up before it and only a little after my weekday alarm usually goes off so I laid on bed for a bit reading Facebook before deciding to get up. I wanted to get some Starbucks but forgot my wallet in the hotel room so I had to turn around to get it and decided just to go to the start because I was getting antsy that I was getting close to when I wanted to be at the start.

At the start, I realized my number wasn’t actually 89, like I’d thought, but 68. My number was on my helmet upside down. And I’d put all my stuff on the wrong rack.  Whoops. I met 89 and she was super nice about it. I moved my stuff to the correct rack and it was more crowded because two women had huge tri bags right next to their bikes. As a result, all my bike photos from the race were filed under number 89 and not 68. I thought about using a market to draw a line under the bottom of my number, but I didn’t think it would actually do much good, and anyway, I didn’t have a marker.

I signed up as an age grouper because there wasn’t an option for novice online. I was pretty nervous about the wave start so I got in the water and swam a bit to warm up. The water was murky and I forgot to breathe out while swimming.

We watched the guys go and I put myself in the second rank of women. There was some panicking on my part as people swam way too close to me so I pulled off and swam slowly until they’d gotten more spaced out ahead of me. As a result, my swim time was a bit higher than it could have been since I sat there and treaded water until I felt like I had enough space. I didn’t really get a good rhythm down after panicking so I defaulted to two strokes and breathing only on my left side because that’s apparently my favorite side to breathe on. Again the swim seemed like it took forever but it was only about 15 minutes. I know I need some more work on OWS and some more courage to deal with the thrashing water.

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I make the best ugly faces coming out of the swim

I rushed into transition and found my bike and then rushed back out. I felt pretty good on the bike. The course was all right turns and reasonably hilly. I got passed a lot in the first half of the course and I really started to wonder what was wrong with me and how was I such a weakling until I started passing the people who’d passed me. I guess they got more tired as the course was on. I’m still figuring out all my gears and what gear is best for the given situation and that day I discovered all the other gears on my bike, which made a HUGE difference in speed! I really loved the course, it was very quiet and Blalock Lakes is gorgeous.

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Finally I was back and hurried to my rack and changed my shoes. I got a huge blister from no socks last time so I made sure I packed them this time. It was kind of annoying to put them on and I think my left sock was higher than my right sock, but it beat getting another blister for sure. The run was pretty hilly and I was getting tired so I tried to think of all the positive things I could. One of my coworkers had joked I was like The Little Engine That Could so I repeated that to myself for a while. I took water at mile 1 but by mile 2 I wasn’t feeling so great and a little while later I started getting the heaves and had to walk until I could calm my roiling stomach. I never figured out what caused that but I decided it was maybe the Java Monster I’d had for breakfast since I didn’t get my normal Starbucks, or maybe just because it was 80 degrees with 80% humidity.

A spectator had brought a vuvuzela and was blowing it near the finish line. While annoying, it was great to hear it because I knew I was almost done. I finished, got my water bottle, and guzzled as much of it as I could stand while I ate most of an orange in slices. I checked the results posted but they only had me through T2 so I decided to run back to my hotel and shower and come back to see the final results.

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I don’t know why my right hand looks like a lobster claw

Swim: 15:23

T1: 01:18

Bike: 54:19

T2: 01:26

Run: 28:47

Total: 1:41

I had to look up my time from four years ago because I thought it was 1:41 and while I wasn’t going to be upset at getting almost the same time four years apart on the same course, I was going to be a little annoyed with myself. I know, it’s only been like two weeks of training but still. Good news though, my time four years ago was apparently 1:47, so I still beat my time even with walking and letting everyone on the swim pass me.

I registered as an age grouper so I didn’t place, but I would have taken first if I’d registered as a novice. However, novices aren’t eligible for end of series awards and I wanted to try for that. Plus, this was technically my third open water swim so I’m getting to a point where I don’t think I need to register as a novice anymore. I’m still debating on the rest of the season; there’s a few races where I think I need the novice tag for confidence but I’m going to work on getting used to swimming in a pack like a bunch of salmon.

Like always, I learned a lot and had a good time. Plus, it makes for a good excuse to have pizza for dinner!

Ironman Buys Rock N Roll Race Series

A couple of days ago Ironman bought Competitor Group, the folks who put on the Rock N Roll races. A short while ago Ironman also bought races in California and North Carolina, rebranded them, and upped their entry fees. Before I started triathlon, I didn’t know that Ironman was a brand, I thought it was just the name of the distance and while the 140.6 is called the iron distance, the M-Dot is their brand symbol. How genius is that? You’ve gotten a bunch of people to pay you money for a massive sufferfest and to tattoo your brand on them forever?

Ironman is awesome at branding and putting on big events. The Rock N Roll series is pretty similar, my first marathon was the Seattle Rock N Roll and it was a blast, so I completely understand the appeal and why people go back for more. But the down side is that costs money. Ironman’s race fees are insane, which discourages people from trying the distances. It’s pretty smart of them to acquire the running series to help boost their profit, but I’m worried that the races they just bought might also up their fees and that Ironman may disband some of their less-profitable but still-fun races just as they did with the triathlon series.