Sunday, November 22, 2015

5k training weeks 3-5 AKA when everything went off the rails

People have noticed I'm woefully behind in recapping my training. Sadly, I'm also woefully behind in the actual training. So yeah, I'm going twitter style recaps. As few characters as possible:

Week 3

Monday: 3 mi / 26:42 + 15 min Yoga Studio beginner relaxation
-all the garmin snafus, yoga so I could hopefully sleep because well long story short Jordan was on a very long work trip and I get anxious.

Tuesday: 6x400 w 2 min recovery / 4.6 total / 1:35; 27; 29; 24; 27; 26 + 15 min Yoga Studio
-so much freezing, I'm dying, everything hurts, I'm in no mood to run. Got it done. More yoga.

Wednesday: 2.9 / 30:05
-ran with Jordan's boss's wife. Super fun, super chill. More yoga

Thursday: Planned Tempo. Didn't happen. Rain, sourpuss mood, just nope. Being honest, some days I just know it'll be a shit show if I start, so I don't. They say you never regret a run, but whatever, I do sometimes, and sometimes, you just have to know when to let it go. No excuses. Just let it go.

Friday: More nope.

Saturday: 4 mi in 30:16. Realized at 3.8 as I was hammering it, that I was supposed to do 5. There was no way. Did my 4 after fussing to Rosanne for like, 5 hours. And all week. Fussy week.

Sunday: 8.3 in 1:10
-rainy, soggy, but actually a very enjoyable run. Maybe an upturn on the bleak blahs.

Week 4

Monday: maybe not an upturn. No 3 miles. No miles.

Tuesday: 9x200/200 recovery for 5.1 total / 41; 43; 40; 40; 41; 41; 41; 40; 39
-super stoked with these! closer to my goal, freezing awkward stride because can't sprint!
More yoga.

Wednesday: .....when you have mimosas at 10am, it sort of throws it all off.

Thursday: 4.4 in 35 min / Mid 15 tempo 7:17; 6:59 and final .1 at 6:30. Coming together
and the long work trip ends!!

Friday: Family time! No miles. But really this IS the rest day.

Saturday: 5 mi @ 7:46 pace. Struggle. Bus. I'm not saying I was sick this day, but I wasn't 100% healthy.

Sunday: Sick. Sick. Sick. Okay, so I felt 'okay' but apparently I looked like death warmed up. Sat in a hot tub, and then Jordan sent me to the couch while he made dinner, so I guess I did look bad.

Week 5

Monday: Sick...

Tuesday: still sick...

Wednesday: maybe I feel a little better?? .... maybe I don't.

Thursday: WALKED THE DOG AND WAS OUTSIDE FRESH AIR HOORAY!!! And then 30 minutes of yoga while sick Jordan slept on the couch... winning family health.

Friday: Weights at the gym with our new gym membership. Tried to construct a sort of plan.

Saturday: 5 @ 8:24 pace
MARATHON LEVEL SORENESS FROM WEIGHTS. But after 6 days off, this run felt much better than expected

Sunday: 30 min elliptical
ALL the sinus pressure and headaches. Long dog walk. Still sore like whoa.

Alright, there you have it. 3 weeks of sort of training, some focus, some falling apart (keeping it real.) And finally the weight training. Loving the addition of yoga because it's easy to persuade myself to fit in a whopping 15-30 minutes. I figure that is better than doing one hour once a year. Consistency, and slow build. Excited to see what consistent strength training will bring to the table. Excited to run. Just need to NOT BE SICK. However, I could have run more days than I did during the plague week. At this point in time, a winter 5k doesn't seem like a race I want to push my body through the illness for. I'd rather just rest, recover, and not be in a hole when the next big thing comes along.

Alright, on to week 6 where MAYBE there will be miles.

Monday, November 2, 2015

5k training :: Week 2

Keeping it real here, week 2 wasn't MUCH different from week 1. Not surprisingly, I didn't exactly become a sudden speed demon overnight. I kind of hoped I would? Wishful thinking right?

Planned: 3 mi easy
Actual:  3.4 mi / 31:47 / 9:17 pace

So it turns out I don't actually know the exact distances of my loops, but on an easy day, I'm totally fine with running extra. Except I was keeping it so easy that it felt like a drag! Like "this is taking so long!!!! Oh... that was only mile 1? Am I even lifting my feet up? Is this even a run?" But I kept reminding myself if I wanted to run hard tomorrow, I had to go EASY today. No unnecessary fatigue.

Planned: 8x200 @ 800m pace / 200 recovery
Actual: 1.5 WU 8x200/200r 1 mi CD / 4.6 mi / 44:24

800m pace? Yeah. Right. My goal for these was at or under 45s. Which wasn't really different from my goal 400m pace. When you're a long distance runner, finding a SPRINT gear isn't really that easy without a lot of... sprinting practice. It feels sloppy, the turnover for speed isn't really there, and no matter how hard you think you're going, it's still the same speed.

43 / 47 / 41 / 44 / 44 / 45 / 41 / 40

I met my sister and did the workout with her, and on the second one, we were still carrying on our recovery conversation, and whoops, our split showed it. I'm still learning that sprint intervals shouldn't really feel controlled like my longer reps do. It really does need to be lung busting, can't feel my legs, gasping painful. Noted.

Planned: Rest or Easy Run
Actual: 2 walks with the dog for about 3 miles total.

It was date night and I had a cranky spot on my outer ankle (sorry Brooks ST-5 Racers-we might not work out for speed) so I opted for some walks. Worth it.

Planned: 30 min tempo
Actual: 35 min tempo / 4.3 mi / 35:18

Well, I didn't want to step back from last week. Okay, I did, and I truly considered it, but I had a hard time saying "I'll tempo 10 min instead of 15..." though it was a last minute call. This time, for my tempo, I warmed up 10 minutes at an easy pace, then hit lap on my watch. I picked it up some, and after 5 minutes (without TOO MUCH watch stalking after the first minute of "I'm only running that fast?! this is HARD") I lapped again, and then one more 5. My only goal was to up the pace from where I was before... and make it more of a build up. It worked, and my paces were 7:30/7:17/7:11 for each increment. The end of the last 5 minutes was ROUGH. Cooled down home, which felt like a zombie walk.

Planned: Rest
Actual: Rest

I kind of wanted to run, but Friday just didn't pan out with other things going on to get Jordan ready for a long work trip. Rest it was.

Planned: 4 mi fast
Actual: 4 mi puke fast / 29:56 / 7:29 pace

Kind of just started hammering it. At mile one, the wind blew my hat off, so I stopped to catch it and adjust and well, try to reset my pace, and a little old white haired lady pulled over to the side of the road. I kind of thought she was going to yell at me, though I'd done nothing in the way of her car, but she tossed a small sleeve of Ritz Crackers to me, wished me a Happy Halloween and drove on. Not one to be an ungrateful hag, I carried the ritz for the next 3 miles. I guess it kept me relaxed, not crushing crackers in my fist? This was hard. My original intent with the 'fast' days was to shoot for a more marathon pace run. Which, at this time, is still hard for 4 miles, but that's neither here nor there.

Planned: 65 minutes
Actual: 1:07:18 / 7.65 / 8:48 pace

I didn't get a whole lot of sleep the night before, and didn't have much of an appetite-so after two cookies and a latte in the morning, I headed out for an afternoon run. After about 3 miles, it wasn't much fun anymore. My chest was feeling tight, and despite the super comfortable pace, I couldn't really breathe. But, I finished it and got home, so that's a wrap, right? Then Garmin and I fought all night, and it turns out it deleted yesterday's run altogether. Not sure this Garmin 910 XT was worth it at all.

Weekly Mileage: 24.1

Definitely need to work on less 'rest days' and more active recovery, but ... well it's cold, I'm lazy, and it's cold! And now it's dark early too.

On to week 3!

Monday, October 26, 2015

5k revolution

At some point, I will recap everything between IMCDA and now.

But for now! I came across a 5k in CDA in December (you know, prime PR month, right?) and thought "well that's about 8 weeks after the Hayden half marathon..." so I hunted around the internet, found the Hal Higdon Advanced 5k Training Program, and set my sights on 5k training.

For the record, when it's obvious you are an endurance athlete, and you tell people you're going to train for a 5k, the response is something like, "You have to train for that?!" Well, fair point. No, I don't have to train to make it from start to finish of a 5k. I can run 3.1 miles. So the more clarified point is "I am doing 5k specific training". Not since high school cross country have I trained specifically for a 5k race. I've done too many 5ks to count in my adult career, but always either while training for another race distance, or not training much at all. After 8 months of ironman level running (re: long, slow, short, slow, slow slow slow) I thought it would be a brutal fun challenge. 200s and 400s at basically all out sprint pace until I barf up my insides. Tempos at 5k-10k paces.
'Fast' day. Easy easy runs. And still, weekend long runs!!

Since 5k training is not nearly as time consuming, and a completely different task for me, I wanted to recap the whopping 8 weeks until my race. Which, of course, in the PNW will likely be snowy and not conducive to a PR or racing. I'm just curious to see what the training does before December rolls around and I start looking at longer training again. And if I'm lucky and get a clear day, it'll be fun to see what I can do!

That said: Week 1

Mon: Planned: 3 mi easy  Actual: 0 mi.

My sweet kitty Julia reached the end of the road with her battle with kidney failure, so we had to take her to the vet and comfort her on her way to rainbow bridge. There was no running.
An old picture of my girl Julia when she was analyzing my training plan last year

Tues: Planned: 5x400 at mile pace  Actual: 5x400 @ mile pace (2 min recovery). Total 4 mi/34:55

I ran toward the track, noticed that high school football practice was still going on, and redirected to the nearby park. There is a walking path around it, and while it's paved, and okay, flat, but not as flat as a track, it HURTS. I swear road 400s are harder than on a track. I got in a 10 minute warm up, and then set my target at 1:35 per interval (6:20 pace-I have no idea what my mile pace is?!)

My 5 splits on the path were 1:31; 1:33; 1:32; 1:29; 1:29

My abs and everything hurt so bad. Woof. Cooldown the mile back home.

Wed: Planned: Rest or Easy run Actual: Rest

I had a compass placement test for NIC to see what math/english I need to take... there was no time to run before dark.

Thurs: Planned: 30 min tempo Actual: 35 min tempo because I can't read. Total 4.35/35:01

Per the website for tempo: This is a continuous run with an easy beginning, a build-up in the middle to near 10-K race pace (or slightly slower than your pace in a 5-K), then ease back and slow down toward the end. A typical Tempo Run would begin with 5-10 minutes easy running, build to 10-15 minutes at 10-K pace, then 5-10 minutes cooling down. You can't figure out your pace on a watch doing this workout; you need to listen to your body. Tempo Runs are very useful for developing anaerobic threshold, essential for fast 5-K racing.

So I didn't really execute this per the description. I warmed up for 10 minutes, then sort of launched into the 15. I set my watch for 7:25-7:10 pace, and it was beeping at me. Mistake! I pushed hard to get into the range, and then was basically a wheezing mess for 15 minutes hovering between 7:12-7:18 pace. I'm used to my marathon tempos that were different. At one point I passed a woman wearing a t-shirt that said "Everything hurts and I'm dying". That summed it up. 

Fri: Planned: Rest Actual: Easy peasy 4 (36:04/9:01 pace)

After missing both Monday and the optional Wednesday due to life, I wanted to do an easy run. And it felt great to take it super easy.

Sat: Planned: 4 mi fast Actual: 4 mi fast! 31:18/7:49 pace

The site basically says this should just be a non conversational pace, faster than normal running pace... all up for interpretation. So Jordan and I ran together, and he pushed us along with me trying not to check my watch. The last .3 or so, my stomach was super upset, and Jordan was 5 feet ahead waving at me to catch back up since he was trying to get us an average under 7:50 pace. We got it, and then he ran another mile and I ran to the bathroom. 

Sun: Planned: Easy 60 min Actual: 7 miles / 60:57 / 8:42 pace

This felt pretty awesome! It was mid-60s, but the route I did had more gradual downhill on the way out, and more gradual uphill PLUS headwind on the way home. It still felt great, comfortable. I kept it easy, probably should have kept it easier, but it felt awesome. After swapping out the ortholite inserts in my Hoka Clifton 2s for the nasty old flat insoles from my Clifton 1s, my shoes have improved drastically. Which Hoka will be hearing about. Sigh... 

So week one was pretty good. The speedwork and tempo were challenging and I think it'll take a little while to get a grasp on how to tempo. From reading a little more, I've seen that it should just be a slow build up, with only a few minutes at peak pace before slowing back down. I don't really have ingrained paces anymore, but it'll all come with time. 

The hardest part was not to think about 'what I could do' in previous training cycles. About the fact that 15 minutes of tempo was so hard, yet I used to run 3x2 mi repeats at that pace and feel comfortable. Or that 4 mi fast was lung busting and tough, and was slower than my half marathon PR pace. I just need to focus on the forward progress, instead of 'but I used to be able to do this!'.

So that's a wrap on week 1!

Total mileage: 23.4

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Give me all the books

Yeah yeah I know, it's a blog about endurance. Does it count if I have been on a marathon session of reading books? I am going to say yes.

One of my New Year's 'goals'... incidentally, I don't care for making resolutions. If I want to change something, I try not to wait until 1/1... and I just prefer to set goals for the year. This year one of my goals was to read a new book every month. I have always been an avid reader, but sometimes, I get too busy. So my reading goes up and down. I have a Kindle as well, which is awesome, but also leaves me downloading books and then forgetting to read them. Anyway, this year with ironman training, it was a little difficult to get into new books (hello, exhaustion) so I defaulted back to reading Harry Potter as well (never a bad thing!)

However, I have also read some new books. And more now that ironman training is over. I thought I would do a short little recap of the books that I've read so far this year! In the last few months, I've definitely upped my reading quota, reading almost every night before bed. Of course, that's because I am trying to tune out the adult cartoons on the bedroom TV.


The Deep Dark (Gregg Olsen): Jordan gave me this book about the disaster at the Sunshine Mine in the Silver Valley. It was a really fascinating read-with a ton of mining information, and a relatively local story. It was also a very sad read as Jordan's grandfather passed away in the mine, and that was a part of the book (and obviously a part of his family history). It's cool to read a book that is about places you know, but painful to realize exactly what the mining culture can be, and how potentially dangerous and disastrous.

Harry Potter books 4-7 (J.K. Rowling): It's just a spiral, you read one, you read them all. I won't bother a mini-review because if you know, you know. The HP love is real. If you haven't read them, well, GO!

The Boys in the Boat (Daniel James Brown): READ THIS! This book was incredible. It took me a while to get into it (honestly I think I downloaded it last fall?) but once I was... it was a wonderful story. Again, somewhat local-ish as it goes around the UW rowing team, and the main focus, Joe, had come through the PNW in his childhood (and what a childhood it was, sadly). I never thought I would be so engaged and captured by a book about a rowing team. It was an incredible story-I do love a true historical story. True stories seemed to take over this early year.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (Mindy Kaling): Funny, but not quite as funny as I had hoped. I've read a few of these books by female comedians, and I really enjoyed Tina Fey's but this wasn't quite as hilarious as I thought it would be. Still not a terrible book, just not my thing, though it was a lighter read after some of the others.

The Slightly Series (Wendy Markham): I read all 5 of these in rapid succession after Ironman was over. They are short, cheap on the kindle, somewhat cheesy chick lit. I actually enjoyed them overall, and probably what annoyed me about her is stuff that I actually am (slightly insecure, a little crazy, goofy). They were cute books and fun to read through. There are Slightly Single, Settled, Engaged, Married, Suburban, and I was sort of disappointed that they ended there.

And now where I am currently. My sister has recommended a few books to me, which are on my kindle. I forgot to take it to Butte for our long weekend though, and ended up stopping at Hastings so we could each pick up a book. Oddly, the boyfriend and I both picked up separate books with the same general theme: post pandemic America. So now I have to wrap up my current book and return to the kindle queue! Oh the problems of book worms.


Station Eleven (Emily St John Mandel): This book grabbed my attention immediately, and hasn't lost it yet. I am probably 2/3 finished (I read for most of the drive home from Butte-selfish copilot) and still engaged. The story jumps back and forth from the world before the flu pandemic to the world afterward. I have a lot of fun speculating about certain connections (and so far, I think I'm right on a few of them) and I know the point of the book is that it will somehow tie together all these lines. Unfortunately, it also creeps me out a little, because let's face it, the reality of a pandemic like this isn't exactly far fetched...

and Jordan's book is The Dog Stars which I fully intend to add to my ever growing pile of books.

Once I am done with Station Eleven, I will return to...

All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr): I'm a short ways into this one, recommended by my sister and her hubby both. She set the same goal as mine, to read a book a month, and she's doing better at getting in a new book every month, so I get to download all her recs and force mine on her (Amanda! Boys in the Boat! NOW!) and she said this one she would force herself to stop reading and savor. Cannot wait to get back into it.

It Starts With Food (Dallas and Melissa Hartwig): I'm reading this during the day, as it's not really bedtime reading and I am planning to start the Whole30 within a few days, but really want more understanding to ALL of the reasons why the changes are important. I have a strong understanding of why certain foods aren't healthy for bodies, but I have a hard time breaking the psychological hold of certain food addictions. I am very curious to learn more about how to control those habits instead of letting food control me (how sad is that? It's real... but my food issues will be a whole different post I'm sure, once I get into the meat of the book and the challenge).

On deck:

The Snow Child (Eowyn Ivey): Another recommendation from my sister. I read the sample on the Kindle and downloaded it, but then opted to read the Slightly series first, as it was lighter.

Swimming to Antarctica (Lynne Cox): Recommended by Erin, and includes a page passage she reads before every IM, and sent me before my first IM, it was a lovely passage that I repeated to myself for as long as I could during the race, until I couldn't really connect to real thoughts anymore. Cannot wait to read this!

A House in the Sky (Amanda Lindhout): Another Erin rec! It sounds like an incredible book, and another true story.

Have you ready any amazing books this year? Do you like to read? Am I the only bookworm here?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

the post mortem :: IMCDA

After ironman.

I expended so much energy to make it to that finish line that by the time I was done, I was numb. I was excited in the immediate aftermath, but by the next day, I didn't know what to feel. I wanted so badly to be on cloud 9, and I wasn't. I've learned now that the typical 'runner's high' isn't always applicable for an ironman race. Since then, it's slowly come on a little more. But like any huge event, once it was here, it was over "so fast" (sort of) and then there was nothing left to do other than to sort through the emotions and feelings of the experience.

So where does that leave me, with regard to ironman?

I am incredibly proud of myself for the day that I endured. In no way am I trying to be all humble braggy with "look how much I overcame to be an ironman!" because I didn't want to. It's true, I fought through a lot. I pushed my body for 17 hours on a sliver of the nutrition I'd planned, and anyone who is an endurance athlete knows all too well how brutal that is. I had to overrule every natural instinct to stop and save my body. But I wanted to quit. I was sad, I was bleak. I think I said repeatedly "It wasn't supposed to be like this". And it wasn't.

Everyone says an ironman isn't supposed to be easy. I agree. Like the quote from A League of Their Own, "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great". But, it was never supposed to be THAT hard. I was truly heartbroken that all the months of diligent training I had done was being wasted.  I know that's not true. Had I not trained so smart and so hard, I probably wouldn't have been able to keep going. However, I couldn't help but think to myself how unfair it was. Maybe that is a childish sentiment, and it was sure useless to me. I know so many people didn't get to finish the race at all. I did. But I felt so much disappointment that my body was so unable to race well. Everyone battled the same conditions and so many athletes were still able to accomplish stellar performances. I was envious of that.

For my first ironman, I truly did want to enjoy the experience. For the majority of the race, I didn't. I didn't want to wish it away, but eventually, I was. I wanted to stay in the present, but the miles ahead couldn't be ignored. Had it not been my first ironman, I may not have finished. But somewhere inside, I could NOT live with the idea of not finishing, for as long as that choice was mine. There were plenty of miles where I didn't care, I didn't care if I couldn't finish because I had so many legitimate reasons not to continue. But, I couldn't not finish. Not unless they pulled me off the course.

And of course, I am also competitive. Even if it was my first race, and I didn't plan on having any major time goals, I still had certain loose ideas of what I was capable of. I wanted to do justice to all my training. Erin had done an incredible job of coaching me, and I wanted to show it off. I wanted to race to the best of my abilities. I wanted all the miles I had ridden and run in the snow, rain, or heat to pay off. It was so difficult for me to let go of that. Endurance races are always a gamble-you never know how it will turn out, and very few races ever turn out to be unicorns and puppies and rainbows. But, I never really expected it to turn out like this.

So no, I am not done with ironman. It will be a while before I can take on the distance again, because of family and life. Everyone sacrifices so much to get an ironman to her start line, and then to the finish. In the time I have been with Jordan, we have each done an ironman. It takes it's toll, and NO finish line is worth the risk of our relationship, if he's not on board with it. That, and I really need him to forget the experience we had in CDA before I can try again! But, I know I'm not done. Similar to my first marathon, when I finished, I knew I wasn't done, but I knew I didn't want to experience that again for a while. Still, I eventually came back, and have since run marathons that I know reflect what I am capable of. I want that for ironman. It's not really about the time, it never is. I want to be able to race to my potential. And someday, I will.

I am so incredibly proud of the day I had at ironman for what it taught me. I've wanted to quit races before, when my goal pace goes out the window. When I knew I wouldn't PR, qualify for Boston, or any other goal. I've given up plenty of times, and half-assed my way to the finish line.  At ironman, I had to dig deeper than I ever have before. When there was nothing left physically or mentally to pull from, it was sheer willpower that kept me going.  I got to experience things at ironman that I never expected. The darkness of the course after sunset. The raw emotion of trying to push your body when it's done. The finish line in the last hour... the last minutes. I had always wanted to go back at midnight (or 11pm, in this case) to see that. But I got to live it. I never, ever planned for that... but I can't deny it was pretty incredible to be on this side of it.

And someday, Lord (and family) willing, I'll make it there again.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

the run :: IMCDA

 My first thought was to wish Jordan had been along the 'run-out' chute because there were some actual smiles here. I don't remember exactly where I finally saw him again-but I wish he hadn't missed the smiles I managed as I ran out.
Oh Hey! No more bike 

As I headed out the chute, I heard some yells. For the most part, I hadn't been registering cheers but I looked and saw my dad and Lori!! These pictures basically cover all the emotions that I went through as I realized it was them, and make me laugh a little.

They hugged me tight (even covered in sweat!) gave me more encouraging words, and assured me they'd been there throughout the day. I was so grateful to have a moment of words with them, and know they were proud of me. I was determined to fight to the finish, even if the race wasn't what I wanted. I ran on a little further and at a gap in the fence... BEN! I immediately teared up again, stopped and hugged him so tightly and told him I made it home. I could tell he was giving me his 'tough kid' smile though he was definitely concerned about his mama throughout the day.

After that, I made it out onto the run course feeling a little lighter from the hugs from family. My legs were aching so badly from all the previous cramps. I managed to run, though there was no 'holding myself back' it was just 'hey, this is running... sort of... right?' I took a turn heading toward the library and passed the pack of Spokane Swifts women! They were cheering so loud and it lifted me a little more. I was so happy to see them even if I didn't show a TON of emotion. My entire 'run' was saved by the people who carried me and stayed beside me. Just past them were Nick and Sonia, and then Sara, Brandon and the Alphonse head! Sara ran next to me for a few steps, and sent me on my way.

Still early enough to be smiling

With Sara, and Alphonse! Brandon opted not to run with us

I made my way along Sanders Beach and through the neighborhoods-I picked up my sister for a few yards and she encouraged me along with her 'this is Mordor' sign (or was it Welcome to Mordor? I don't remember!). I made sure to get watered down with every garden hose, mister, random stranger with a spray bottle. My Hokas were sponges immediately. At the first aid station I slowed to a walk, grabbed coke and a few orange slices. I sucked the juice out of the oranges, drank a few sips of coke and got loaded up with ice. I did this at every aid station for the first half of the run. Coke, orange slices, ice and water. It was all I could handle. Then I would shuffle on. I saw familiar faces on the course, and when they would cheer or wave or pause to hug me, I would melt down. My emotions walked a tightrope on the run course, and I was struggling to keep myself together. Out along the familiar route to Bennett Bay, I kept up my pattern of shuffle walk shuffle some more. I saw my friend Merissa who was struggling with GI issues on her run and we hugged. My sister and Jordan came out on the moped and caught up to me around Bennett Bay at miles 6-7, and as I worked up the hill I spotted a neon hat I recognized from Instagram! I caught up to see the front of it, and it was penguins! I know this hat! Though it was definitely a "I know you from instagram, I don't remember your name though!" It was Rosanne, who went on to finish an amazing ironman. I pulled the same convo with her friend/spectator Mac ('hi, I know you from insta, but who are you'). I felt so rude, but honestly, I barely knew my name anymore.

I made the turnaround-steadily back up and over Bennett Bay, and my sister hopped off the moped to 'run/walk' with me while reading me comments from facebook. She was posting for me all day and it was so uplifting to hear everything people were saying and feel so much support from people. I was amazed by the amount of people who were rooting so hard for me. It kept me going. Eventually Amanda dropped off, and I kept moving. After an aid station around mile 9, the nausea was back. Nooooo. My legs were still aching from cramps, and I hesitated to put any more coke and oranges in. I continued sipping my ice water bottle, and dousing my head. I made it up the hill by the resort, and down the other side, with nausea growing.  I chewed into my rolaids and tried to get a few down. The jostling of even a slow shuffle jog was too much for my stomach, and my legs. So by 10 miles, I was walking. Power walking, but walking. I wouldn't run much more after that. My body and mind were so exhausted, and with the sporadic crowd/athlete support, I was getting lonely. But exactly when I need it, friends appeared! Alyssa showed up again, with Jessie! Then Buffy and Julie! I have run with these women for years (since high school with Buffy) so having them alongside me was awesome. I was still a pessimistic mess, but it was so helpful... and I was speed walking as hard as I could as they had to jog to keep up. Buffy stuck with me for a little while, trying to talk me out of the dark place by telling me how great I was doing.  I passed the amazing guys at the BASE electrolyte salt booth in the neighborhoods. There was one guy there, who's name escapes me, that kept encouraging me all through the run. He was watching for me and assuring me I would make it in. He later found me at the finish line and gave me a hug.
Super gorgeous strugglebus

I got through town, feeling more and more nauseous. I saw Jordan, Levi (my brother in law) and my nephews shortly before halfway! They were so cute but I couldn't muster a smile really. Sara found me around special needs, and I sat down to change my soaking socks and cried on the curb. I was so sick, I couldn't stand... I had the volunteer tie my shoes for me, and then dragged myself up and walked on, in tears. I've spectated in town and it is usually so crowded. As I made my way down Lakeshore and to the turnaround to head back out it was empty. Dead. The Team Blaze folks shoved more ice in my top and encouraged me along. Catherine from the Swifts walked along the empty sidewalks talking to me and I cried. It felt so impossible. I couldn't fathom going back out of town again. My mom showed up on the course and I hugged her. I could hear Mike Reilly calling ironman finishers a block over and I was nowhere near done. I was feeling so sick, and so defeated. There is no sugar coating it. I was in a hole. I wanted to quit so badly, but I also had this underlying sense of pride at how hard I was really fighting when I had nothing to give. 'I am doing this. I don't even know how but I am doing it.'
Ben, Mac and Wylie had these rad shirts on course

I headed back through the neighborhoods, and saw my friend Bobby along Sanders. I cried again, and he hugged me as he went on to become an ironman. I kept walking. I passed the BASE tent again, and was assured by them that I WOULD be an ironman, keep taking the salts. I kept walking. I made it up the hill by the resort, and through the aid station, and then I stopped. My entire body was rebelling, and I just knew I needed to stop for a minute (or several). As soon as I sat down on the curb, a medic was on me. Asking how I felt, what I needed, was I done? He gave me a cup of iced broth. I took a sip and tossed it aside. My sister drove by at this moment, stopped, parked and sat beside me. I said I felt like throwing up, and a medic dragged the trash can over. I wasn't sure at that point if I just felt sick or really was. I grabbed the trash can and threw up 5 or 6 times, every fluid I hadn't sweated out came back up. My entire body was cramping with the effort and I could hear my sister sounding so dismayed. Athletes walking by were yelling and encouraging me to get it over and get moving again. Eventually it stopped, and I looked right at my sister and said "I can't do this anymore. I can't." and she asked if I was sure. I got up, and without any idea how, I started walking anyway. The medic who had been calling for an ambulance stopped me, took my BP (normal) and let me continue. I started to 'run'. For the first time I felt better. I saw Heather's husband Andy, and then Heather who stopped to make me smile for a picture and encourage me along!
Pretending I didn't just puke my guts up! This is so fun!

I ran a little over a mile and then I began to shuffle/walk again. The immediate relief from throwing up was replaced with emptiness in my body. I started feeling foggy. I made it to Bennett Bay and it took me an eternity to make it to the turnaround. It was so close, yet as I walked up the hill, my vision was blurring, and I couldn't really feel my body anymore. I sat down. On the side of the hill. I was so disoriented and fatigued. A volunteer got me up and walked next to me for a bit, and then sat me down again. I was really struggling to focus on the task at hand and even open my eyes. I lost a good amount of time here again with medics trying to force a few calories into me (2 pretzels that tasted like sand, and a sip of coke). This is when the guy from the bike saw me and reminded me of my words. 'Go become an ironman. Get up. You said you would! Mike Reilly is waiting.'
And in least flattering pictures ever... 

I got up again. A truck passed me and yelled that I had to RUN to make the turnaround cutoff. I tried. I couldn't run. My friends Danielle and Rob drove by at this moment, with Greg and Natalie. Danielle and Natalie jumped out and walked me to the turnaround. I was giving my glowstick necklace. I was panicking about making the turnaround (I did, by 12 minutes per 9:30 cutoff). They walked with me in the dark for a bit. My head was so lost, I was so confused, and I was wavering back and forth between DOING IT and being done. I kept asking if I would make it. I had 6+ miles back to town. The girls from before showed up. They took turns walking around me, with their own glowsticks. I just struggled to keep pushing forward. I told them I just wanted to go home. I kept asking where Jordan was, I hadn't seen him since the half way point in town. Alyssa texted him and told him he needed to be out there-and he was, in record time. One of the girls took his car, and was leapfrogging us. They kept walking around me in the dark, and I focused every bit of energy on the next landmark. Jordan walked next to me and encouraged me. Without those friends circling, and without Jordan, I wouldn't have finished in time. There's no doubt.

He kept up positive talk to me, and kept assuring me I would make it. I kept trying to do math on the fly... don't do math on the fly. I was doing it backward, thinking I had extra minutes based on my swim start. I had less minutes. I didn't know and they didn't tell me. I could sense that Jordan was trying to coax me to move faster, without telling me I was in danger of a cutoff, but I was convinced I had the time. My pace had picked up since Jordan joined me. We made it back to the BASE tent one last time and they encouraged me along. I made it through the neighborhoods. I was sucking on ice chips. By now I had ditched the bottle with my sister (and my HR monitor. I was pulling everything off I could) and had even given someone else my watch because it was too much.

I have never focused so hard on forward progress in my life. My legs were cramping, my feet ached so badly from cramps. We came out of the last corner of the neighborhood and the other girls had long since left to be at the finish line. Nick came out to find us while Erin and Sonia waited. At this point, unknown to me, everyone was stalking their trackers hard, worrying I wouldn't make it in. I kept walking, and mumbling random thoughts to people. Nick went back to the finish, and I made it to the corner of Sherman. Jordan had been telling me EVERYONE was waiting, and that the stands were full, and it was bright and loud and I just had to get there. I told him I couldn't run. I knew my legs wouldn't do it and falling on Sherman would mean the end of my race. He left me at the corner and went to the finish line. I tried to run. I shuffled along for a block, then walked as my legs cramped. I wanted so badly to run down Sherman and I couldn't. I had been dreaming about running this stretch for YEARS and I couldn't run it.

Merissa's husband Nate came out onto Sherman around 4th (he had finished much earlier that day) and told me I had 45 seconds (I had a bit more) to make it to the finish. He told me I HAD to run. I was so confused, and suddenly terrified. I started running-which was a painful awkward shuffle. Everyone who said the pain would vanish as I hit Sherman was wrong. It took every bit of strength to make sure I didn't fall down on the road.
Nate inducing panic and making me run

And then I was to the finishing stretch. And it was incredible. It was so loud, and there were so many people in the stands, and I tried to high five people, I tried to see. Suddenly Mike Reilly was next to me! I barely heard my name, and I heard 'you are an ironman!' though I didn't register the rest of it until I watched the videos later to hear the full finish, "Monica Eskebacker (not quite) you did it Monica!! You! Are! YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!". I managed to put my arms up, and smile. And I was over the line with 47 seconds to spare.
Lights, noise, people!


Run split: 6:41:26  Garmin Moving Time: 5:57

Official Finish Time: 16:59:13

The aftermath: 
I immediately fell into some volunteers, who put my medal around my neck, and then I insisted on sitting down. I did, and they pulled me back up saying I needed to walk to be okay. I got my finisher picture and then made it to the edge to hug my people.
when you try not to look tired, and instead look crazy

Erin was in the finish area with me, and Merissa, her husband, and Matt. Emily, my lifelong friend, called to me from the side and I was so happy to hug her. Jordan looked completely relieved it was over. My dad and Lori were there, my mom, Ben, all the girls who had walked with me.
Super Blurry with Erin 

Hugging Emily!!

Relief (Jordan too)

The volunteers told me there was nothing left in the medical tent, not even broth, and no IVs. So I exited, and while everyone told me to walk, I laid down in the grass. This was a terrible mistake. My calves, shins, and feet began to cramp and it was the worst pain I've experienced. Including child birth, honestly. I was crying, and screaming for people to help me. I begged them to rub my legs, do anything. I couldn't move. Jordan tried to help, and my sister. Eventually a medic came over and offered no help. I know it wasn't their fault, but shutting down the med tent when the last finishers probably need the most help was beyond frustrating at that point. They gave me a cup of gatorade, but I just laid there in pain. Sonia eventually talked me into breathing slowly and it helped me to relax. But as soon as one wave of cramps subsided, another started. Eventually they abated enough that I was able to sit up a little more, drink some gatorade, and be fed chips. I was so scared to try to stand up, and on top of that, get into a car. My family and friends began to dissipate.
Dad and Amanda!

Ben, in his Team Monica shirt

I was so sad afterward that I got no pictures with anyone who was there at the end. They supported me TO THE END and I was such a mess I couldn't get the pictures I'd waited all day, and all year for. Jordan got his car right down to the resort, and we got me loaded in. My mom took Ben home, and Jordan took me right to the ER. He tried to put me in a wheel chair, but standing seemed easier, and we shuffled me inside to check in before he parked. It was nearly midnight. I got checked in, and my sister showed up. I managed to change into dry shorts and my finisher top while Jordan did the paperwork. I went through admit with a nurse, who weighed me. I had lost 10 lbs since that morning. I was gobsmacked. 10 lbs?! I was put into a bed, and given an IV and anti-nausea medication and a nice warm blanket. They did blood work, and we waited. Once we knew all was well, I sent my sister home to get some rest. I tried to chat, and look through ALL the messages on my phone, but eventually I fell asleep. Jordan fell asleep in the chair next to me with his head on the bed. Once my IV was done and bloodwork was back (my electrolytes were low, but right on the edge of the normal range-so at least I know I was somehow keeping it balanced). We were discharged and made it home around 3am.

Over 24 hours after our day had started it was finally over. I did it. I am an ironman.
Worth it. Ish.

Monday, July 13, 2015

the bike :: IMCDA

disclaimer: from here on out, the race recaps will get pretty real. and by real, I mean a lot out there happened that I'm not really proud of. hindsight: could I have done it better? different? I don't know, and I'll never know. The day is done, I handled everything it threw at me how I did, even if it was often times with pessimistic, panicky dark hole despair. 

Once I was on my bike I was pretty overjoyed. I certainly felt a little wobbly from the swim, and I knew it would take a few miles to get my bearings. I rode easy out of transition, trying to listen for family members, and checking my watch for my heart rate-which was sky high after the swim! I trusted it would come down some, though it would remain higher than the norm for any bike ride for me.
just getting onto the bike course! 

The nutrition plan: My bike was stocked with 3 bottles of Osmo Active, and 3 bonk breakers in my bento box, plus a bag of licorice in my pocket. This was my standard training fare for every long ride I did, and it worked very well for me every time. I never battled GI issues, I never bonked when I used it steadily. My plan with the new forecast was to get the bonk breakers down early (there were an additional few in my SN bag) and then switch to more licorice, and add GU chomps from aid stations if I needed a change of flavor. I would also sip away at my aero bottle of Osmo and then refill it from my rear cages, swapping those out with water bottles. I also had 3 more Osmo Active bottles waiting at special needs, and a total of 5 single serving packets to be mixed on the fly. I carried BASE electrolyte salt as well, shoved in my top. I typically wait 60 minutes to start eating, and for race day with a swim beforehand, I planned to start eating at 30 minutes into the ride. I began drinking immediately.

The first small loop was effortless. I've ridden (and run) out over Bennett Bay to Higgins point more times than I can count. I kept a close eye on my watts and was hovering well under target to keep it easy at first. I don't display speed on my watch so I wasn't aware until after the race what I rode for any particular section. I just settled in, pedaled away, and watched everyone fly by me. I hollered at a few friends as they blew past me, and just rode on. I started my eating, and worked on hydrating. I came through town, apparently early because I had to yell to get my family's attention as I went past heading for the highway! I grabbed a water bottle on the second aid station, wrapped my cooling towel around my neck and splashed a bunch of water on myself. I wasn't super warm, but I was being proactive. I tucked the remainder of the bottle into my back pocket and headed up over the no pass zone and out to the big loop.
Still having fun!! photo credit: Nick Weiler

Off to the highway!

Climbing Mica for the first time was definitely warming up. Without wind (because climbing) I was dripping sweat-of course I drip sweat just looking at a warm forecast so that's not saying too much. I carried on with my eating, drinking, and taking licks of the BASE salt. Everything was right on schedule. The volunteers were amazing at every station, and I was cheerful and chatty with other cyclists. I had one minor snafu grabbing a water at an aid station to find the protective cap hadn't been removed or even cracked. As soon as I grabbed it, the woman ahead of me decided she needed to stop. Abruptly. Right in my path. I braked and unclipped quick with a minor panicked curse word, and the guy behind me had the same reaction. But we all moved on quickly and safely. I spotted a Coeur Fleet Foxes top, creepily stared at the athlete (and her bike) a bit and realized it was Ashley! We chatted a bit as we rode, made the turn around just past Setters and headed back to town. I had to stop for a second as the new water bottle flipped upside down in my rear cage (?!) and I discovered that waters would have to be in my pockets, not my cages.
Climb climb climb! And still smiling!

On the way back into town, I was taking advantage of the fact that we had more downhill than up, and it was free speed. I was watching miles tick by on my garmin and feeling decent. That quickly changed. I had tried, sort of, to pee on the bike but I didn't REALLY have to go... which unnerved me. I never don't have to pee. Half my spring training was spent seeing if I could make it further between restrooms. I was drinking a lot, but not too much, to avoid the slosh and overdoing it. Why didn't I have to pee? I carried on, and then the nausea began. I had finished one bonk breaker, and allowed myself a reprieve of 'just have licorice' before the next bonk breaker. The nausea was so intense I was filled with panic. I wish I could say I kept positive but the major thought was 'I am in trouble. I have so far to go, and I can't keep my food down' as I started experiencing acid reflux, food, and stomach bile creeping up my throat repeatedly. I sat up, only took a few drinks of water for a few miles, and tried to take deep breaths and tell myself it would pass.
trying to calm the nausea

 I came through town with tears in my eyes (which my family and friends saw, despite my sunglasses) and a head full of fear. Not what you want in an Ironman. I hit halfway around 3:26 on my watch, and well under watts. I focused on getting to special needs where I had rolaids waiting for me. I stopped once at a porta-potty though I didn't have to go badly-I just wanted to see if I could determine my hydration levels.

"don't cry don't cry, oh crap I'm crying"

Around the special needs turnaround, I made a command decision to ditch my nutrition plan (NOT what you should do mid-race, but I felt I had no choice. Vomiting on the bike wasn't what I wanted to do, so I knew I had to revamp). I grabbed my bottles (still slushy!) got doused with water, sprayed with new sunblock (no sunburn anywhere on me! Major win!) grabbed my rolaids and a few gels and chomps. I've eaten these most of my endurance training career, and decided they might be easier to get down. Calories were calories at this point. I felt renewed. I had a plan. It would be okay. I rode back into town shoving a couple chomps down (barely chewed, chase with water as quick as possible). I had gels in my tank top with the ice they dumped in which made them cooler too. I never took a full gel at once, just small 'nips' at intervals. I continued working through my Osmo and water and began to tackle the big loop. Just one more out and back.
headed toward special needs, trying to figure out my plan of action

And shit. hit. the. fan. I slowly climbed the hill in the heat, feeling worse and worse. The rolaids had knocked the nausea out for a bit, but then it came back just as hard. And then the cramping began. I have never experienced cramping in racing or training. In hindsight, I don't think I would/could have done anything differently. I was drinking a lot, as much as I could without chugging bottles recklessly, and taking my salt at regular intervals. But it happened anyway. Fast, and intense, and I wound up unclipping from my bike and getting off in the road. If I hadn't, I would have crashed it. As it was, I still immediately cramped so badly I was in tears and another athlete stopped to help me hold my bike as I crumpled to the asphalt (which was a pleasant 147 at this point). He waited a few minutes encouraging me to take repeated hits of salt until I felt like I could at least move forward. I walked my bike a bit, until my legs calmed down enough that I could get back on safely. I rode on to the next aid station, stopped to grab a water and mix a new Osmo and I cramped again. A volunteer grabbed my bike and another put me into a chair in the shade. There were SO MANY athletes in chairs, on the ground, oh, and the aid station was out of water. They had dirty ice water they poured over us, and I was given a gatorade while a medic took all my stats (I could still spell my last name so I had to be somewhat coherent). My BP was high, and my HR wasn't coming down quickly but he kept asking what I wanted to do. I truly didn't know. My body was rebelling against me, despite my plan. I must have sat there for nearly a half hour before he felt I could continue, though he was reluctant to let me go. I even asked around for a cell phone to call Jordan, who was out ahead of me on the highway, waiting for me to ride by. The volunteer's phone was dead though. I got up, got back on the bike and continued with the 'please stop if it happens again' warning.

A few miles further I found Jordan and JJ. I stopped for a second, informed them of my condition, asked what my swim time was because I was dying to know, and then kept riding on. While I was making solid progress overall, my body only got worse from there, and I can't imagine the stress Jordan felt every time I got back on the bike. I made it to the next aid station (WITH WATER!!) proposed marriage to ALL the volunteers, got new water, new gatorade (any calories) and continued with my salt. I turned around, headed back toward town still doing my best to get in fluids and any calories I could. I found myself chatting with more athletes, including a guy who knew it was my first IM and I told him "Mike Reilly is going to call me an effing ironman, I am GOING to get there" (this guy would call me out later on the run with this reminder).

I passed another aid station, stopped for a water and BAM cramping again! My legs wouldn't hold me (if it sounds dramatic, it probably was. I was a staggering cramping mess). My friend Alyssa happened to be here at this moment, amazingly, and she did everything she could to perk me up and get me back on my bike. I was so defeated at this point, but continued to ride. The nausea was so intense, and now I had a pain in my back that in my delirious mind seemed like a kidney problem. I wasn't peeing, despite all the fluids, I was nauseous, and I was hurting. My body and mind were so bleak. Even if I made it back to town and off this bike, how... how would I continue. Shortly before the last climb I found Jordan and JJ one more time. I got off the bike, paced back and forth telling him my body felt wrong. A race official stopped to check on me, with an athlete already in his truck, and several bikes in the bed. He assured me it was okay that I wasn't peeing, but made me sit in the shade for a bit. I was pacing, bending over with my hands on my knees and when people asked what they could do, or what I needed, I just mumbled 'I don't know' but I got back on the bike yet again. One more climb, and then the descent into town, a mere 8 miles stood between me and transition. Just. Go.
Holding onto my focus, a little

I made the last climb, shockingly passing other people. When I was riding and my legs weren't cramping, or were at least moving with cramps, my riding was so strong. It was so frustrating to be fighting my body and mind so hard. I crested the hill, struggling hard to keep moving. My hands were weak and tingling, how would I hold on to descend this final, scary descent? I had to. "Just get home to Ben" became my mantra as I headed for the descent. I didn't brake nearly as much as usual, I just let it roll-new max speed 44.3! I made the descent, and knowing I had very few miles left, I just pushed my body. The cramps were hovering in all my muscles, and I passed a guy dry heaving on the side of the highway and had to fight the urge to start gagging myself. I followed a man through the "no pass zone" on the bridge, and as we headed down the on-ramp for the last mile to transition, he admitted defeat that he couldn't finish a run in 7 hours. Well damnit, we have to try right? That's what I told him, and then I dropped myself back into aero, down the empty NW Blvd, saw my sister (who cheered without realizing it was even me) and made the turn into the park. Thank. God. I have never felt so relieved. I grabbed my Garmin off the quick release and dropped it into my bra top, grabbed my remaining ice water bottle (smart!) and saw a few friendly faces of Ronnie and Kellee! I barely registered her but managed a smile as they took my bike away. She told me later she knew once I made it off the bike I would make it. I was so relieved I had made it home, and even though the run felt unsurmountable, I was ready to try.

I grabbed my T2 bag, headed into the tent, and right for a chair with a fan. Again, a medic snagged me, checked my HR and put icy towels on my groin to help cool me quickly. She helped me get my shoes changed, told me I looked strong. I mumbled at her that 'running is USUALLY my thing' and she assured me I could do it, that I would be an ironman that day. I didn't grab my nutrition from my bag, as I knew I wouldn't be able to eat it (and it had melted into a puddle anyway) but grabbed my 24 oz thermal bottle, which I had never intended to carry, but it was sort of a security blanket. I came out of the tent, heard so many friends cheering for me and was so relieved to see their friendly faces as I started the run.
Headed out to run with my freaking polar bottle that I HAD to carry

Actual Bike Split: 8:40:34  Moving Time per Garmin: 7:32:59.

This just goes to show how much time I gave up with the medics and the 'nausea stops'. It was a tough pill to swallow because I KNOW I had a strong bike in me. I'm sure I could have done things differently, but at the time, I did everything I could to keep moving forward. Even when quitting seemed like the only thing I could do, I continued on.

Actual nutrition: 1 bonk breaker plus a bite of a second, 4-5 pieces of licorice, 1 pkg chomps, 1 GU Roctane lemonade gel. 5ish bottles Osmo Active, 4-5 bottles water, 1 bottle Gatorade.

T2 time: 8:17