Bass Lake Sprint Triathlon 2017

I jumped at the chance to do this race again. Not because it is in my hometown (which is always fun) but because I had taken two previous passes at this race and gotten significantly worse the second pass. It was my first triathlon and still my very favorite because it is always a challenge. Little did I know the challenge would come early on…

Having completed IM Santa Rosa 70.3 in May I thought it would be fun to do a sprint distance again also. It’s not my favorite distance because I don’t like that ‘red line’ feeling. What I was looking forward to was the short swim! After swims of 1400-2300 yards in racing and practice this shorty swim was going to be quick and fun.

Got in the water to perfect water temps. I love that. We have had a very mild spring so the water temps really could have been much colder. Once our wave went off I settled in to focus. I normally check my watch every so often in longer swims to see “how much farther” and “Are we there yet?”. I made a concerted effort not to check this time. 400 meters would be quick right? So I didn’t check my watch and kept my head in the game. It did go by quick even though I was dodging back strokers and breast strokers nearly the entire leg. If you had told me when I exited the water that the swim was actually 781 meters I would have laughed. Seriously. It didnt feel that way. But I exited the water and switched to transition time. 855 yards. Did I swim that out of whack or was the course longer? No time to think about it now. On to the bike! Swim time: 23.18. T1: 1:57

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Photo Credit Brad Lunetta

I was pretty terrified of the bike. Two years ago during my second attempt I had put on my helmet in transition but didn’t really check the placement of the chin strap and darted out and up the steep hill too fast. I ended up walking a chunk of that hill. I was embarrassed then (even though the hill is long and steep) I knew a couple extra seconds to double-check gear would make a huge bit of difference and it really did! I chased Kelly and Kelly and Felecia up the hill. It was motivating to have such amazing strong women near by to motivate me and push me just a bit harder. Once I reached the top in one piece I felt relief. It was time to settle in for what used to be a very tough ride for me. This time I couldn’t believe how easy it really was. When I reached the turn around it seemed short (it wasnt) but that made me excited! I talked to some riders on the way out and on the way back. Some were new to triathlon. Some were veteran athletes. It was a true reminder about how much I love this sport. Before I knew it i was heading down the steep hill back to transition while Oly distance athletes were headed out for their ride. I couldnt help but waffle between relief that I was almost done and jealousy. I havent done this olympic yet. Timing has not worked out for it. Its on my to-do list. It will get done. Bike time: 53:59 T2: 1:53

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Photo Credit: Brad Lunetta

Probably the best part of my day happened in T2. My dad was just outside the fence. I wasnt expecting him to come but it was just what I needed to push me on the run. I hastily introduced him to my training partner and teammate Courtney and headed out for the run.

My public goal for this race was sub two hours. That would be tough given the run. Ive been known to walk this run. Its hilly. Stupid hilly. But lets see how it goes. I felt really good headed out. Mile one was sub 10. Huh. I still feel great. Saw lots of my friends on their way back in to the finish line. Man. I have really fast friends. I dont remember much after this except that after the hill in the neighborhood we do that was a bear I looked at my watch and thought, with one ish mile left that sub 2 hours was possible. After all, this is JUST A 5K. I buckled down and crossed the finish line at 1:53:25.

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Photo Credit: Dad

What I neglected to mention was that my private goal for this race was 1:45. Had the swim been the right length I would have likely made that goal. It was frustrating but just anther reason to come back and try it again. Had a hit that goal time I might have placed 3rd. As it stood I placed 4th in the 40-44 age group. I was pretty stoked about that considering the company I was in. The lesson? Race the race you are dealt. No excuses. I PR’d all the legs of the race despite the longer swim. Thats a victory and proof that Im getting stronger, not just older.

The other lesson I learned was that I have met the most AMAZING people through this sport. My team was nothing but supportive and uplifting the whole day.

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Photo credit: Random dude

I also met a new friend in person for the first time. A couple of weeks ago she messaged me on Instagram to tell me that Bass Lake would be her first triathlon and Friday night we actually met in person. I remember my nerves here three years ago doing my first triathlon. It was unreal. My dad said it best “I didn’t know it was such a production” he said. And this is considered a local race. Can you imagine what the production value of an Ironman race would be? When its your first race, it might as well be an Ironman. I think she is hooked to the feeling now though. She had a great race too and learned a lot about the sport. I’m thankful to now call her my friend. Great job Jessica!

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Photo Credit Karin Walker

When I tell you that I learn something new every time I race I will tell you that this time I re-learned to appreciate those close to me for their friendship and guidance. While I didn’t hit the big goal I wanted I still hit a milestone and managed to cultivate friendships in the process. In the end, the majority of us do this for fun. We will never get paid to compete in this sport we love. We need to find all the enjoyment we can in the journey, not just the finish line. I’m not done yet. Stay tuned.

Santa Rosa 70.3 2017 and TriEqual

I’m still a bit at a loss for words on this race. None of us, even under the best of circumstances, can plan for the perfect race day. I was full of apprehension about this particular race starting months ago when it was announced it would be moving from Windsor to Santa Rosa along with the swim moving from very shallow Russian River to Lake Sonoma. As triathletes however, we adapt and overcome don’t we? I would make the best of it. However, I might be getting a bit ahead of myself…

Late in 2016 it was announced that I have been accepted as part of the Team TriEqual. It’s an organization that promotes women in the sport of triathlon. As part of the deal I got three months of FREE coaching! How cool is THAT? My coach Sharon and I were connected about three months before Santa Rosa so I thought that would be a good time to start the process. We discussed my weaknesses (Swimming being the biggie) and my strengths. I don’t feel I have many strengths but my ability to GET IT DONE seemed to be enough in my mind. We set off to work on my training. I spent a LOT of time in the pool and felt GREAT about my swim until I started back in open water and was confronted with swim after swim of freezing temps and ocean-like conditions. I even had a couple “close calls” in the open water where I thought it had reached the point of dangerous with temperature or waves. In the back of my mind I kept thinking that early in the morning on race day it wont be choppy and I should be able to handle this. I never really got a chance to swim the lake for the race distance. Luckily I swam it Half Moon Bay last month so I knew it was still possible.

Fast forward to the day before the race and I went to Lake Sonoma for a practice swim and to drop my bike at T1. So. Much. Chop. I swam just over 23 minutes and felt utterly defeated. The whole swim was a fight and the race officials had already switched the direction of the swim to account for the winds. I truly believed I was screwed. After some messaging with my coach back and forth I felt a little better and took the message of “FOCUS on YOUR swim” to heart. I have a bit of ADD on race day. I pay attention to everything else but what I’m doing.

When race day finally arrived, my husband and I drove the 40 minutes from Rohnert Park to Lake Sonoma. I got out of the car and was immediately frozen. The winds were cold. The sun had not yet risen and I had a big day ahead of me…if I could get out of the water on time. I got to transition, set myself up, put on my wetsuit, grabbed my cap and goggles and headed back to where I saw my husband outside of transition. He was near a family that had FOUR rather young and lively puppies that I was immediately drawn to. After about 10 minutes of petting and baby talk with them and some nervous chit-chat with the owners I handed my morning bag to my husband who quipped that it was “nice of them to bring me therapy dogs on race day.” I don’t think he realizes how correct he was. It really calmed my nerves. I deal with an anxiety disorder that seems to manifest itself in funny ways on race day. Those dogs were better than any medication I could take. While he made the trek back to the car to grab his camera I made my way down to the boat dock.

I was immediately greeted by several other triathletes who assumed there would be more carpeting on the ramp or that it would be warmer. I don’t stress about that kind of stuff but I understand those that do. We all have our “thing” that makes us crazy or nervous. I walked down closer to the water as the sun was coming up and talked to some others and watched the sun start to rise and then made one last trip to the bathroom before the race started. Once I met up with my husband again I also was slowly running into familiar faces. My friend Pat even lent me her windbreaker because she saw me shivering. We took pictures and watched the pros take off from way up the ramp and then it was time to get moving.

Santa Rosa 70.3 was a rolling start swim. I had never experienced that before and I wasnt sure what I would think of it, especially since that meant I would be near the back of the pack…again. I did enjoy the camaraderie of it. Lots of nervous energy on the ramp and me watching a constant flow of people into the water. When it finally was time I settled my mind and started the swim.

Let me just get this out-of-the-way now: I was pushed, kicked and swam over more times than I care to remember. I always try not to take it personally. We are all friends on shore right? Well some need to really work on their sighting and settling into a path and staying there…but I digress. I stayed focused. I only looked at my watch a couple of times and before I knew what hit me I was out of the water. 57:44 total swim.

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Can we stop and discuss this transition for a minute? The walk up the road, up the boat ramp and around the perimeter was enough to wear this girl out. I had an almost 13 minute T1 time. All I could think about was I need to run more hills. Lots more hills. Once I finally reached my bike, I couldn’t feel anything. I had to sit down and get ready that way to steady myself. It took me a good minute just to put gloves on because my fingers were having trouble bending. Once I got the gloves on I threw on my helmet and windbreaker and was on my way.

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This picture may have been the last time I smiled on the bike. I couldn’t get comfortable. I couldnt find any sort of rhythm and worst of all, I started experiencing the worst possible chafing around mile 10 that I could not find relief from the entire bike course. This course was hillier than I anticipated and about mile 20 I was ready to be out of wine country. Frustrated with myself I did my best to keep my mind off the pain and on the race. I chatted with people as I went by. I kept super mindful of my nutrition plan and every bump in the road I silently cursed every life decision I have made the past 3 years. Once I rolled to transition I walked my bike almost a block to my T2 where a woman was racking her bike in my spot. Not in the mood to argue I threw it in what I assumed was her spot (though I made sure to ask her), laced up my Mizuno’s and hit the run. Total time on the bike: 3:49:20 with a T2 of 6:45.

Running is my happy place. It really is. This run was no exception. Still feeling the effects of the bike I walked when I had to and run/shuffled the rest of it. I like grazing at the aid stations. I couldn’t help but think at about mile 7 though that this was not going to be a PR sort of day. Once I was almost to the end of the first loop I started seeing friends going out for the second loop and made sure to high-five or provide any encouragement needed. Then I remembered there was a “first loop” cutoff. WHAT WAS IT?? I couldn’t remember and still don’t know. I was given the option to go back out on my second loop though so I certainly did. Turns out I’m not a big fan of looped courses. the only real benefit is being able to see friends out on the course. Once I hit the final turn around I made a concerted effort to stay focused and finish. Getting off the trail and onto the street I knew I was close to the finish now and was enough under cutoff that even if I walked the rest I would still not DNF. I was really happy about that at that moment. I summoned whatever energy I had left at the turn, tossed my water bottle at the aid station and turned on the engine down the home stretch. The turn around was gone for the first loop so I hadn’t had a lot of time left and was grateful to have made that cut off. Once I turned the last corner I saw the finish line and went guns blazing down the chute. If you have never run the red carpet at an Ironman event, you really should. There is little else to compare it to. I heard my team mates yelling my name as I ran passed them and I heard the announcer call me name and city. Total time on the run was 2:48:48. Total event time? 7:55:07. That stung, but I know what I need to work on to improve.

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What has hit me the deepest about this sport three days out from what was not a stellar day by any standard, was how much I truly love this sport because of the people who participate. You get to see EVERY shape, age, size and color out on the course testing the limits of what their bodies can do. People of every level of fitness were out there encouraging others to push a little harder. Give it just a little bit more. There was a time this was not even on my radar as a possibility for me. On Friday I met a woman in her 70’s who was an amputee who didnt complain once. It puts my struggles into perspective. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for THAT Karen. Triathlon has taught me that anything is possible if you want it bad enough and are willing to do the work to get it. My Trimafia sister Maureen said it best. These races are like having a ‘triathlon baby’. You remember the pain but the reward once the pain fades makes up for it. Im ready to go again.

Huge shout out to Women for Tri for giving me the opprotunity to race this event! To TriEqual and coach Sharon Styles Hamm for your guidance and expertise this spring. You truly came into my life when I needed your help the most. To my Trimafia teammates Shelly, Jackie, Courtney W, Loc, Maureen and Alex for the time spent this weekend. I love the memories this team makes when we come together! To my TC3 teammates who are a bit more aware of my ‘crazy’ but still continue to love me and push me to be better anyhow. To my Los Osos Locos Multisport family for letting me be just how crazy I need to be and still supporting me anyways. Yall might be my biggest cheerleaders. To my Sunnyside Bicycles family, “Thank you” doesnt quite cut it but thank you all the same for your continued love, support and encourgement. Thanks also to Honey Stinger, Nuun, Trieverything, and HellaKit for your continued support on my journey.

And last but not least, thank you to my husband Jeremy for putting up with my endless crazy and my endless exhaustion. Thank you for loving me enough to ‘racecation’ with me and for not divorcing me when I told you that not only was I not quitting triathlon after Vineman 70.3 last year but that I was giving thought to maybe doing a full IM in the future. I would have divorced me at that point but you didnt. I love you for that and so many other reasons.

Until next time…..

2017

So here we are. Another year. Another chance to do good…to be a blessing to someone. Im all over the map these days with my emotions and my schedule…and my diet. Im tired. Constantly tired. Looking out over the calendar of my long term goals the past few weeks I just get more tired because I think about all that I want to accomplish and that I just dont have the energy for right now. Thursday night I drove over to the coast for a girl weekend with my mom and some friends and was listening to a new podcast call The Healthnut and the Hot mess. The first episode dealt with addiction…mainly to alcohol.

I dont drink much but when I do I always feel horrid afterward. I go months in between drinks and its sort of like I forget how alcohol makes me feel? Being a bariatric patient means I shouldnt be drinking anyway. Last night I had a glass of wine before dinner and I just got….moody.

Being a bariatric patient also means that Im not supposed to drink sodas. I know what it does to me interally but if I dont normally care. Lately though I can feel it every time I work out. Ive tried to quit them out right but havent ever been successful. I didnt realize how addicted I was until I realized how many times I had run out and had that sheer feeling of anxiety and panic until I could get to the store and restock. Thats addiction. Plain and simple. So Im going to finish what I have and then Ill be done. Sort of like my lenten sacrifice. I hope it sticks. Ill feel so much better if I can give it up. I know it.

2016 was all about ridding myself of relationships that didnt serve my well being. 2017 will be about ridding myself of bad habits. Today is day one of my sobriety. Soon Ill be at day one of no sodas. Im sort of terrified but that just means the struggle will be worth it right?

The Road to Vineman 70.3 is not paved with gold…

…it is paved with pain, and alot of it.

 

Im getting ahead of myself. Last Saturday I was out on a ride and more than half way through it I fell off my bike, hitting the aerobars and bouncing off them on the way down. It was dumb. i was barely moving when it happened. It knocked the wind out of me for a split second but I got up and kept moving. I completed three more work outs before it really started bothering me and it was so minor I questioned if the SLIGHT pain in my chest was from being sick the week before, from the fall or, because I turn 40 later this summer, a heart attack. Ive had cardiac work ups before. Really through work ups. Its never been an issue. But when I woke up on Thursday with radiating pain in my chest I knew I was in trouble. I got my initial morning work done for my boss and then politely excused myself so I could go get checked out. I think the hospital staff thought I was nuts for driving myself while I was possibly having a heart attack.

It wasnt a heart attack. Far from it. Just a reminder that I am not invincible. And I am not 20 anymore. Nothing on the chest x-ray or the EKG or the lab work. Healthy as a horse. Just be careful. Oh and this is likely going to hurt. For SIX WEEKS. I knew that I would get a curve ball thrown at me in my training if I started looking too far ahead.

Im sticking with my plan of one day at a time. I may regret it if I dont make my goal of 7 hours and 30 minutes at Vineman 70.3 but it seems to be the only way I can continue to juggle all the balls I have in the air and stay in one piece.

Time Marches On

Let me preface this post by saying that I truly do love Christmas. I love Christmas carols and lights and parties and everything about the time between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Some years are easier to feel the spirit within than others though. The holidays, when I was growing up were almost always at my great grandparents house. We all had our ‘places’ around the table. Mine was always to the left of my great grandfather. Thursday I was put on the other side of the table sort of smashed into the middle of my family. It felt physically strange and it hasn’t felt that way since they passed 9 years ago. It was almost like grandpa was asking why I was sitting over there. I have been in a funk ever since. IMG_0743I scheduled my whole weekend so that I would have today to decorate the house for Christmas. I have what amounts to an entire room in my house of boxes of Christmas decorations. It took everything I had to put the tree up today.¬†

Once I finally started decorating with ornaments passed down from my great grandmother and family ornaments from my husband that the Christmas tree is the metaphor for life. It’s a mish-mash of all these different lives and traditions. My husband really only spent a couple of holidays with us before they died (and we were not married at that point) but the holidays seem to have evolved into something completely unrecognizable to my younger me, and that is ok. In the bustle of the holidays it’s hard to hold onto tradition. Even this year we are fitting Christmas into one long day instead of two. Im not big on change but I like how the holidays have evolved in my immediate family and now, in my own family. I love that I can say “Sure, Ill do Christmas dinner! How about lasagna?” to my non italian in laws and they are perfectly ok with that. It’s time to really set my own traditions I think. I think, at nearly 40 years old, it’s long overdue.

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Here we go….Again.

I am trying this blogging thing again. I got away from it before because of, well, life. Facebook became a way of sharing my opinion and life story but Facebook has an inherent sense of drama that comes with it. My life is pretty busy these days with work and training for a half Ironman in 2016. So here is a little about me and what you may read from time to time here.

1. I’m a conservative feminist. Yeah. I know. If you have a problem with it you can go elsewhere.On occasion I will rant about our current president, congress or local politics that drive me batty. I’ll do my best to throw in some positive politics also, but I make no promises.

2. I used to be fat. I had bariatric surgery 5 years ago and my health and physical well-being tend to take center stage most days, for better or worse. Some days you will see posts with just numbers. Miles cycled or ran or swimming distances I tried to complete gracefully. People ask me why I share a lot of what I have gone through physically. I would direct them to the people who have thanked me for sharing my story because, well, lets be honest, if I can do it anyone can. I am a work in progress. I still have plenty of doctor appointments and things that go wrong. 2015 seems to be shaping up as the year of the thyroid.

3. I still dream about publishing a best seller. I have started and scrapped several dozen novels in the past decade. I would like to start seriously funneling my energies back in that direction. You may, from time to time, see notes or questions posted about a particular storyline or writing exercises I am participating in to hone my skills. Feel free to critique what you see but come prepared to back up your argument if you do.

4. I’m not really big on the stereotyping of people, generally. Especially on the basis of superficial categories like skin color or gender. I was recently accused of being the product (or taking advantage of my) “white privilege.” My grandparents brought my father and his brothers to this country with nothing but the clothes on their back. I’ve never been handed anything for free. Everything has a price. I have worked for everything I have. Everyone should be lucky enough to work for what they have. I struggle daily but I am thankful for my life as it is. That is not to say that I do not believe that there isn’t prejudice and racial bias in this country. There is. All I’m saying is that just because I’m white does not mean I am bias or only see your skin color when I determine what sort of encounter you and I are going to have. I will be nice to you if you are nice to me. It really is just that simple.

5. I would love to make a living handling social media for businesses. I am still working out how to make that happen. Right now I trade for services for one business. It’s fun.

6. I’m a paper crafter. I have stacks of cute scrapbook paper and stacks of pictures to create and put into scrapbooks. Someday I’ll be caught up. That day does not appear to be coming any time this decade though since I really only do it for a weekend every 3-6 months.

That’s about it for now. I hope you stick around and enjoy this little window into my head.