Tag Archives: Soggy Days

Race Recap: Ironman Austin 70.3

Austin got added to my schedule late in the game; actually, after I thought my season was already over to be precise. After Whistler I felt strong physically and wasn’t satisfied ending the season on a mediocre (at best) note. I thought about IM Cozumel (THANK GOD I DIDN’T DECIDE TO DO ANOTHER FULL IM) for a few moments, but worried about having another sub par race and decided the cost – both financial and potentially emotional and physical – wasn’t worth it.

Austin was a great compromise for me. I got to extend the season by a couple of months to take advantage of the end of the mild sunny NW season, travel with some great training buddies, see a new place (Austin!), and fingers crossed close the season out feeling positive and ready for rest.

Our pre-race trip was a blast. We drove the course, checked out the lake, SBR-ed a little, laughed a LOT, and generally kept things low-key. Our rental property had tons of chickens and ducks (for eggs), and produce grows there year round to provide for 20 families that are part of the co-op. We took full advantage of the eggs and produce and had a legendary and awesome pre-race meal chef-ed up by G. And then it was race day.

(race recap vid by G – way better than photos!)


I woke up 10 minutes before my alarm was set to go off race morning to a HUGE clap of thunder and lightning and sheets of water falling from the sky. Really? Ugh. I reminded myself if anyone could combat water falling from the sky it was us NW ladies and I simply ignored the fact that this day could get ugly.

Our chauffeurs (our men) drove us to the finish line, where we had to catch a shuttle to the swim/T1. Thanks (but not!) to the weather, traffic was backed up for miles, and though we’d left 3 hours to take a 35-minute drive (including the shuttle) and set up transition we only ended up with a few spare minutes to get our tires pumped and evacuate T1.

Swim // 34:47 // 1:48/100 m

I was really nervous about this swim. I always am nervous about every swim. But because of cooler temps and dwindling morning light I hadn’t gotten a solid distance OWS in over 3 weeks.

All that for nothing though, because it was pretty decent. I started out less aggressively than I probably should have, but was only 2 rows back and 5 swimmers right of the main line. The first 400 went from calm (such polite swimmers in Texas!) to a shit show, to calm again, and then I knew I’d be fine. All was smooth and well until the last stretch back in to shore, at which point our very late starting wave (3rd to last or so?) started hitting all of the floaters from earlier waves. Floaters being the people from earlier waves who were stopped to take a break, tread water, and hang on to kayaks. It got rough on the way back trying to manage them, the super speedy swimmers who were passing from the wave after us, and increasingly choppy water.

I continued to work hard and swim up to where my hand touched the ground. As I exited the lake I had no clue what my swim time was and just ran up the chute to the strippers and on to T1. In retrospect:

-I liked the swim course. The buoys were really easy to spot.  The triangle was pretty even and no turns were overly sharp. The water was murky but didn’t feel dirty or dark.

-I should have gone out harder from the start. I never got that OH SHIT I CANT BREATHE panic feeling which means I didn’t swim hard enough. But, I did enjoy having a smooth swim and not having the though of quitting cross my mind. (Yes, during every single swim I think about quitting at least once.) It felt good to be strong for the whole swim and to never fade.

-I know someone has to go last (or near it) but I’ve never encountered so many floundering swimmers. Not even in Boise! It was frustrating knowing that I could have gone faster without having quite a few small delays in getting around people.

T1 // 2:59

The transition area was much larger than I’d anticipated but luckily I knew where my bike was. Unluckily the recent rains had caused Goat Heads to grow everywhere. For those unfamiliar, these prickly bristly little vines are so sharp they rip tires and flat tubes so we were advised to carry out bikes the entire way out of transition. (Yeah yeah, if only I raced Cyclocross I’d be proficient at that).

My transition itself – meaning wetsuit off, run to bike, bike stuff on, wetsuit in bag – was very efficient, but I lost some time trying to carry my bike for sure. And I felt like an idiot. When I got to the mount line I realized I had a Goat Head in my shoe. I ripped my shoe off to get it out and hoped that was the only one.

Bike // 2:43:15 // 20.58 mph

At mile 2 I pulled up on my pedal to climb a tiny incline and my foot went FLYING. My stomach dropped as I thought I was going down, but I regained my balance and pulled over to a dead stop. Mud from the heavy morning rain was stuck in my cleats from running through T1. I did my best to dig it out with my fingernails and though frustrated I felt grateful that I hadn’t flatted like SO SO SO many people I’d already passed. A significant portion of athletes didn’t even make it to mile 2 without flatting from the Goat Heads.

The next 45?ish miles of the bike were frustrating. The pro: I felt like a pro! I was passing EVERYONE (which is what happens when hardly anyone starts later than you, regardless of how fast you actually are). The con: There were people all over the road and in some spots it was really tough to get around them. Like areas that weren’t closed to vehicle traffic or where pavement was poor (which was most of the course).

That said I enjoyed the bike more than I thought I would. The course wasn’t Texas-pretty like I’d expected, and wasn’t as flat as I had in mind either, but it was a new experience to ride hard for the whole leg, knowing that there weren’t climbs to save up for. I have never hit a goal HR for a 70.3 (always a bit low) but in Austin I exceeded it by a few bpm’s and felt strong. I KNEW I wouldn’t blow up.

T2 // 2:58

I was pretty excited to be off the bike by the end and climbed into T2 ready to run. I got a little bit disoriented finding my rack, which is no one’s fault but my own. I had practiced identifying the spot but I guess in the moment I just forgot. I probably lost 30 seconds or so; after making one mistake I slowed down a little to make sure I didn’t make another.

Run // 1:43:14 // 7:54 min/mi

The run was a 3-loop course that in a sick way I sort of looked forward to. A bit boring? Yes. But who is looking at scenery during a 70.3 run? If you are HTFU. A 3-loop course made it easy to break down: Loop 1 – adjust, Loop 2 – hold steady, Loop 3 – push to the end.

As always, the run is a bit of a blur to me. It was great to see my teammates and friends out on the course and I cheered loud every time I saw them. I felt tired the whole time, but solid. The run was quite hilly with hardly a flat section, some trail, and some mud, all quite evident from my huge range in splits from mile to mile. I know I didn’t take in nearly enough calories on the run, which perhaps contributed to my fog.  But my body felt on the borderline of rejection so I stuck to coke and other liquids at every aid station and that got me through.

I’m proud of my run not only because I PR’d it on a not easy course, but because I pushed so hard all day leading up and still stayed strong. There was a walk-worthy hill out there (that we hit 3 times, obvs) but I didn’t… I ran. I told myself all morning that THIS.WAS.IT. and that I should be grateful for being out there. And I gave it my all and really did feel grateful all day long, for a good race, a supportive husband, good friends, and a fun trip.

Overall 5:07:10 // 15th AG

In the end I PR’d by 8:45, after already knocking nearly 9 minutes off my PR on the distance earlier in July. I am thrilled. This was such a better end to the season than fading off post-Whistler and starting a 4-month off-season feeling less than stellar.

Would I recommend Austin 70.3 to others? Yes. I’ve heard mixed reviews from others, but I really enjoyed the race and the course. The more I race this distance the more I realize there is no perfect race; every course leaves more to be desired, the weather is always a factor, and you never know when your wave will start. Austin was a much flatter bike than you’d get anywhere around the NW, but I was pleasantly surprised by the rollers to keep things interesting. The run was tough – but aren’t they all?

Now… To the off-season! (Which I’m already winning at, by the way.)


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It’s That Time Of Year


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Race Recap: SURPRISE! CIM Relay

After I finished the Nike Women’s Half Marathon I wrote:

And – you can quote me on this  I don’t think I’ll ever run a race after working such an intense Expo(tique) again! I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I just don’t enjoy toeing the line when I don’t have a fair chance at feeling awesome.

So what did I do?

I spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in Sacramento plotting how my colleague and I could get an entry to the California International Marathon Relay.


CIM was one of the handful of events that I offered to work this year. Being that it was after NYCM and I knew that 97.6% of running bloggers – yes, a very calculated and accurate number – would be running the race it seemed like a fun one where training could take a back seat. As the weekend neared I was excited to spectate and cheer on the superb field of elite athletes, and all of my friends running alongside of them. And to drink some good California wine and beer, too.

All week I crammed in double days so that I could be a free spirit in Sacramento. Monday was a 4k swim & 6 mi run. Tuesday was a 30mi bike & weights. Wednesday was a 4k swim & 10mi run. Thursday was an hour of bike intervals and weights before the flight. But as soon as we landed Marathon Fever started taking over, and the forecast of pouring rain, flooding flatlands, and 30 MPH winds only made the thought of running sound more romantic.

To quench my marathon thirst I set out early Friday morning to run long, 12.4 miles before the expo. It was pouring like Seattle rarely sees (in Sacramento nonetheless), whole sheets of water were falling from the sky. By 2 miles in I stopped avoiding puddles because there was really no point. I was so soaked that I couldn’t have possibly gotten any wetter. But it was another step in the right direction and a good reminder of how much I can really love running.

The expo was fun as well. On Friday I got to see friends from Seattle who were in town to run and wish them luck before the big day, and it was the most organized and civilized expo you could imagine. Runners were there to run rather than shop! Imagine that! But everyone was pacing the expo in their Boston, Ironman, and Western States 100 gear, and I really really wanted in on the fun. Casey – my expo partner in crime – made jokes about creating a relay team with the two of us, and the moment he said it running was GAME ON. Saturday was spent hydrating the masses, meeting up with blogger friends from near and far, and gaining our entry. Then Sunday it was time to run!

The legs of the relay were as follows:

  • #1 – 5.9 miles (Casey)
  • #2 – 7.6 miles (Me)
  • #3 – 7.0 miles (Me)
  • #4 – 5.7 miles (Me)

I took the last three legs, mostly because at that point the .2 mile difference seemed to matter, with an injured knee Casey couldn’t run more than one leg, and with the weather being exactly according to the forecast it would be miserable to run legs that were separated plus the fact that no transportation was available from one middle point to another.

I headed off on the bus in what felt like the middle of the night and started to question my own sanity. I closed my eyes for a few minutes and before I knew it we were at the exchange point.

More with the torrential downpours. More with the wind. It was some serious weather. But from the moment I actually committed to the race, similar to how I felt at Boise 70.3, it was okay. Getting started was sort of an out of body experience because I had to admit it was happening, but as soon as I put one foot in front of the other, after Casey gave me our chip, the weather could not have mattered less.

I ran and ran and tried to approach the race how I did in Boston. Do my best for THAT DAY and not in comparison to anything else. I high fived kids, thanked volunteers, and mostly thought about how crazy they were all for standing out in that weather…they didn’t even have a marathon to run yet they were still out there braving it for us.

Photo taken by hmgiraffy and used by bloggers everywhere.

Photo taken by hmgiraffy and used by bloggers everywhere. True photo from the CIM course.

A few times I wondered when the fun would run out. After a long spring/summer/fall of crappy running, the highest mileage week I’d had in weeks (even WITHOUT the marathon) and tapering for NYC into 2 weeks of binge eating and drinking, I knew that ish would hit the fan at some point. I anticipated each exchange knowing that I could quit if I needed to, but at each one I proudly ran past the volunteers ushering me into the exchange chute, “Nope! I’m running the next one too! Thank you!!” It never hit the fan, not at all, and each mile got better and better.

Except for my outfit. My outfit most certainly did NOT get better and better with every mile. Short running shorts combined with a 2 sizes too big top paired with pouring rain left me wearing a blue shirtdress by the end of the race. The poor spectators probably thought I wasn’t wearing any shorts! But at least I didn’t run a whole marathon in a plastic bag like some people (true story, many people finished the whole marathon, even fast people, wearing plastic garbage bags as ponchos). I’ll be sure to share pictures if I ever find them.

When all was said and done we finished our marathon in 3:35:57, in 3rd of 52 for our division, and 70th of 897 overall. Pretty good, dare I say. Pretty good. It almost makes me want to run a real marathon, all on my own, soon. No matter that now I’m sick.


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Sunrise Friday July 20


Soon after there was thunder, lightening, and a downpour. But it started out pretty!

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Lake Stevens 70.3

Garth took this video yesterday at Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3.

Though it’s not captured too explicitly on video the Pacific Northwest graced us with another lovely weekend of rain and cold for an Ironman. Cold weather (luckily warm water) swim, steady rain out on the technical and hilly bike course, and then things cleared for the run. Between Boise and Lake Stevens I’m glad I chose not to sign up for CDA 2013. I have no interest in the likelihood of race day rain!

Neither can Tim O’Donnell apparently, who tweeted: “@TOinTRI Dear Pacific Northwest, why don’t you like me?! PN 3, TO 0.” Unlucky for him he’s raced all 3 of these weather winners.

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Quite Apropos

What a whirlwind the days since Saturday at 8:30am have been.

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Sunrise Window

Twice a year, every year, a magic running time happens in Seattle.


I didn't take this photograph, but I present Sunrise from Montlake.

Those magic days are when I get to catch the above in person. For a two week (or so) period in the spring and fall the sun rises while I’m on the Montlake bridge, and my surroundings look exactly like that photo. Those runs are some of my favorite of the year. As the time changes and days get longer I track the weeks, and when I predict the weather and sunrise will align I change my schedule to make sure I have enough distance planned to run that far and experience it.

I’m sad to think that I might miss that time this year.

Yes that's a boot. Yes I have a sfx.

I’m going to get faster on the bike and faster in the pool, but Vh1’s Jump Start Video and the tiles on the bottom of the 24 Hour Fitness pool just won’t compare.


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Bike Wash

I finally toughened up and took My Pretty out for her first outside ride yesterday. It was about 43 degrees. With wet pavement, misty air, occasional sprinkles, official total rain. Temperature-wise I was fine. Dampness-wise I was soaked but not uncomfortable after 2 hours and 30 minutes on the road. Dirt-wise I had gravel and mud everywhere, including in the toes of my socks, under my sports bra, in my pockets, and between my phone and its cover which had been in the inner-most safe spot possible. Winter ride success.

My only complaint is in regards to cleaning my bike after the ride. I spent about 20 minutes trying to rinse away grime and dirt from all the nooks and crannies between the derailleur bits, brake pads, inside of the forks, rear hydration wing, etc. Any easy tips for doing this? Especially when you don’t have a garage or a hose? My current method includes a faucet on the public sidewalk, an old rag, flip flops, and a bottle or pitcher to target tough-to-scrub spots, as well as passing by REI shoppers who see me and simultaneously decide that they actually don’t want a bike because it looks like a lot of work.

Seriously. Let me know. Otherwise I might resort to dog park washing stations.

Also, don’t say fenders. I know I know I know.

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Me: 2

Everyone Else: Well, there was no one else.

People at my apartment complex think I’m nuts. Today I scared 2 people away with my sweat session. Wonder if it was the volume of sweat I was producing or the fact that I was watching VH1 that made them take one look and leave. Guesses?


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Morning Sweat Session

This morning I only had the company of one other person at the gym where I drag my trainer and bike for early morning sessions. Meaning, only one person was thinking, “What the heck is that crazy girl doing, and how and why on earth is she sweating so much?!”

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