Thursday, June 08, 2017

2017 Begins for Real

Tomorrow I'm off to Lake Placid for triathlon training camp.  In a radical departure from previous years I've actually been following a real triathlon training program. *GASP* None of the typical Polly training weeks of 200 miles on the bike, 6 miles of running, and 2,000 yards of swimming. That plan works okay when I'm the big fish in the little pond and destroy my competition on the bike.  That doesn't work so well when trying to qualify for for age group worlds at National Age Group Championships, where women my age can ride as fast as me if not faster, and just kick my ass on the run. Also given that I entered my first 70.3, I figured I really needed to have my act together if I was going to run 13.1 miles after my usual aquabike distances of 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike.

Along with many of my triathlon club teammates, I've been following a 1/2 iron plan put together by our coach, Ray Kelly.  I spent a lot of time this winter doing bike workouts on the trainer, instead of doing junk miles outside in the cold.  I started taking swim classes 3 days a week.  I also have been actually doing the run workouts instead of blowing them off for a bike ride. Winter was great! I felt fabulous and had avoided getting the various colds and flu bugs that were going around.  I was really pumped about going to St. Anthony's Triathlon, and seeing how much improvement there would be over last year's race.  I figured after my Seattle mishap last year, this race would be a big improvement.

BUT....I managed to find a new way of screwing up my grand plan.  First, I had the wrong date on my calendar and booked my flight and hotel based on that information.  It wasn't until a read a post of Facebook that I realized the race was actually a week later.  I had to change the flights which cost me extra money. Thankfully I had not done an advance purchase on the hotel, so that was easy to fix. I canceled the one reservation, and simply made a new one. At least all of this I discovered and fixed before arriving in St. Petersburg for a race that was a week later.

No problem, EXCEPT I managed to find a new way of getting injured.  I broke two ribs trying to crawl part way out of the pool to reach my water bottle on the pool deck.  I way I reached up I managed to slam my ribs into the edge of the pool.  Damn that hurt! I really didn't think I had broken anything.  I just figured I bruised them.  I continued with my swim workout.  In fact over the weekend I biked and ran.  It wasn't until the following week when everything still hurt that I figured I better get them x-rayed. Yes I managed to break the number 8 & 9 ribs on the right side.

After a lot hemming and hawing, crying and having a melt down, I opted to defer my entry to 2018.  I decided the risk of getting kicked in the rubs during the swim and incurring more damage was not worth it.  I decided I need to be an adult about this, and look at the big picture of my 2017 season.  I have multi-sport world championships in Penticton, BC where I'll be competing in aquabike (3K swim, 120K bike). BTW I was a little shocked by the distances, but more on that in a later post.  In September I have Lake Placid Ironman 70.3. I November I go back to Miami Man for National Aquabike Championships. Needless to say, doing an Olympic distance in April with 2 broken ribs just didn't seem to be worth the risk.

I went to Florida anyway since the plane tickets were paid for.  I hung out with friends who were racing. I also volunteered for the Meek & Mighty race on Saturday and the main race on Sunday.  I had a blast!  It was nice to be able to give a little back to the sport.  I know as an athlete these races don't happen without volunteers, so it was nice to return the favor.  The Meek & Mighty was interesting to watch.  You had these kids with custom skin suits, shoes clipped on the pedals and seriously expensive bikes and the intense parents.  Then you had the kids on their basic kids' bikes with baskets on the front, knobby tires, and high handlebars.  The most endearing picture was this little girl with training wheels.





She toughed it out on the bike, and I ended out running with her to the finish.  She kept asking me where the finish line was? I didn't really know myself. I just was following the arrows and telling her not too long to go.  Her division had a 1/2 mile run at the end.  I was glad I was able to help her since she seemed a little lost at times.  Her family was waiting for her at the finish line and was appreciative for my help.  It was a joy to see some innocence.  Such a contrast to the ultra-serious kids with all the fancy equipment.

The next day I had an interesting assignment which gave me a front row view to the finish line.  It was rather cool to be able to snap these photos of the men's and women's winners.


It's not too often that one gets this type of view of the finish.  After I was done with my job I was able to go find my friends and watch them finish.  It wasn't such a bad way to spend a weekend.  I got to enjoy the race festivities without all the stress of racing.  I also got to enjoy some culture and finally make it to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Dali Museum.  These are places I just never get to when I'm stressing over my race.

So the ribs healed very quickly.  I got prayed for at church and, I really believe that God did a quick healing because the pain went away after just about 3 weeks.  It usually takes about 6 weeks. I remember when I broke ribs in 2006, I was still feeling them 2 months later.

I got over that bump in the road only to have some kid cough in my face at my last tournament job of the chess season.  I get through the entire winter flu season unscathed, and then BAM! Nasty bug.  I was out sick for 3 days and was just a zombie for over a week.  That totally messed up my training.  It was getting frustrating since I felt like I was doing everything right in terms of training, sleeping and eating.

However I'm back and I'm looking forward to camp this weekend. I'm a little nervous because there's rain in the forecast so the biking could be a little hairy.  I also am running my first 1/2 marathon on Sunday in many, many years.  My training isn't exactly where I wanted it to be.  My longest run has been 10.5 miles.  I was hoping to have been up to 12 miles by now but ribs and colds kind of messed up my run schedule.  We'll see what happens.  This race is really just a training run as I prepare for September.  I plan to run/walk my way through it. 

Stay tuned....

Monday, June 05, 2017

So Where Was I? Part II

1/2 Iron Aquabike Race Done! - Now What?

I was pleased with my performance at Old Orchard Beach.  It went a lot better than I thought it might considering I hadn't trained for the distance.  I felt a lot more confident in my going to Miami Man for National Aquabike Championships.  Could I defend my 2015 title? I really didn't even want to go there.  Now that it was a qualifier for Team USA, I figured there would be more than two of us in the F60-64 age group.  Time to up my training game.

So did I sign up for Miami Man as soon as I got to my next stop on my Tour de Maine?  No.  I signed up for my first 1/2 ironman.  Lake Placid 70.3 on September 10th, 2017.  My triathlon club, Rye Tri is an Ironman registered club so we got to sign up for the event before general entries opened.  I had messed up my entry because I didn't have Rye Tri as my club on my profile.  I didn't realize it until after the club entry deadline.  I emailed and explained what had happened, and I was still able to enter before general entries.  I gave it to God, and said if was meant to be, then my entry would go through correctly.  It did.  I'm not sure if I was happy, or thinking "What in earth are you doing? Are you nuts?" No. Nuts would have been signing up Ironman Lake Placid 140.6.

Westchester Triathlon

Before I could think about another aquabike race, I still had one more Olympic distance race on my schedule.  I had a two year age group winning streak going. Would I make it three? I'm always trying to figure out who's in my age group and whether or not they pose serious competition.  I saw some of the usual suspects, and then some names I was not familiar with.  Though it turns out those other women weren't in my age group.  They were actually in the F55-59 age group.  However I didn't know at the time, so I'm thinking "Who are all these people?"  Where I got really confused was when I passed a woman in a Team USA kit on the bike course, whose last name was Cook and the age on her calf was 60.  I didn't remember seeing that name.  It turns out she was doing the aquabike.

It was rather chilly in the morning. 48 at the start of my swim, and 52 when I got on the bike.  With nothing but a tri-suit on it took awhile for my hands and feet to thaw out.  However the trade off was having a wonderful run for a change.  58 degrees versus the 75-80 degree days in Florida and Nebraska earlier in the season.  By the way, I did win my age group for the third year in a row.  One of the women in my age group beat me in a running race earlier in the season, but when I get to swim and bike first she can't catch me.


Next Stop - Miami

The logistics for this race were a little more complicated than Age Group Nationals.  It's true I wouldn't have to change planes, but there were other issues.  The biggest one being how to get my bike to Miami.  I'm really spoiled when Tri-Bike Transport is servicing a race.  I drop off my bike at my local shop, Pacific Cycling and Triathlon.  I get to the race venue and pick up my bike.  (Okay there were a few hiccups in Omaha, but that was out of the ordinary.) When I finish the race I drop off my bike with the TBT guys, and pick it up at my local shop in about a week. No disassembling or assembling required. Taking off and putting on pedals doesn't count. Unfortunately Tri-Bike Transport was not servicing this race, so I was on my own in terms of getting my bike there and back.  The race's official bike shop Mack Cycle had a rental option, but I wasn't sure how I felt about hammering 56 miles on a bike I've never ridden before.  It's true I've ridden a lot of miles on rental bikes during my travels, but I just wasn't sure about racing on a rental. Now having seen the bikes they offer, I might reconsider for this year.

I haven't flown with my bike since 2005 when I went to Age Group Worlds in Honolulu.  However that wasn't so bad because Team USA had bike mechanics who could help with the assembly process.  This time I was totally on my own.  I've made a number of changes to the bike since 2005.  The biggest change being new aero-bars.  I didn't realize what impact that was going to have until I attempted to close the bag.  They are wider than the bag, so I had to take them off the stem. There was definitely a learning curve with this process.

 "Big Bertha" AKA fully loaded bike case.

There were other logistical issues such as; where to stay and what size vehicle did I need to get "Big Bertha" in the back. I opted for a small SUV, but as I found out later it would have fit fine in the back of a compact car.  A friend of mine in Miami stuffed it in the back of his little car when we returned the rental, and then had lunch before my flight home.

It was easy getting to and from the race venue.  I stayed at a Hampton Inn that was about a 20 minute drive.  The only problem was the easiest and fastest way was on toll roads.  Like most highway systems they've gone to automatic tolling. It wouldn't be so bad, except my rental car did not have the Sunpass transponder, so every toll was at the bill-by-mail rate which is about double the rate if one has Sunpass.  So months later after Hertz gets the bill, I get billed.  Too bad EZ-Pass doesn't work in Florida.  It would have saved me a good amount of money.  I've got to figure out how to get around this problem for this year's race.  Yes, I am doing the race again.  That was the second 2017 race that I signed up for before the end of 2016.

So how was the race?  A race report will follow in my next post.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

So Where Was I? - Part I

Once again a stupid amount of time has past since I last posted.  There was supposed to be a follow up to my "travel blog" post where I was going to write about mishaps in Omaha.  That was going to lead into writing about the two aquabike races that were not on my original 2016 schedule, but I entered after having a little hissy fit over my Omaha debacle. Those two aquabike races would play a major part in how my 2017 season was/is going to play out. 

Then there were supposed to be a few posts about my new improved training routine and how this year was going so far.  Lots of ideas rattling around in my head, but no motivation to write any of it down.  I think breaking ribs in a moment of clumsiness, and then catching cooties from a sick kid didn't help things very much.  So here is some of the stuff I meant to get written down before moving on to 2017. Believe it or not, what happened in the latter half of my 2016 has impacted how I've approached 2017. More on 2017 in a later post.  Hopefully a post I'll make before 2018.  Maybe I need to change this blog to "Still Procrastinating After All These Years"

Age Group National Championships - Omaha, Nebraska


Big dreams of qualifying for Team USA and competing in Age Group Worlds in Rotterdam got squashed by the only damn hill in Omaha.  A piss poor shift on my part resulted in a dropped chain, and yours truly on the ground tangled up in her bike. Unlike 2015 Timberman Sprint, this fall cost me.  But it was more than the stupid hill. 

There was Thursday when I was going to pick up my bike from TriBike Transport (TBT) and ride it back to the hotel, but I forgot my pedals. Minor problem.  Then there was wandering the expo of Friday looking for TriBike Transport, and getting lost.  Finally finding them and discovering my bike shop had not replaced my rear flat as I requested before turning the bike over to TBT.  It took several guys to get the damn tire off the rims.  Zipp 404s from early 2000s suck when it comes to changing a flat easily.  If I ever flat in a race on these wheels, I'm totally screwed.  Then there was the case of my missing bag. I checked it to do the practice swim, and by the time I came back from the tire change from hell, the bag check people were gone.  At this point I'm tired, hungry and thirsty.  I finally was able to find the bag, put my frame numbers on and check the bike. 

Race morning I was still suffering from the "stupids".  I laid out all my stuff and couldn't find my sunscreen or gels.  After the race I found both them buried under my towel.  The only thing I did right on race morning was make it point to be on the first shuttle bus to the race venue.  People who came later got stuck in traffic, and they had to delay the race start by a half hour. I was in a pretty early wave which was good, because despite my off course swimming and my bike mishap, I found myself on the run course before some people were still waiting to go in for the swim.  I felt sorry for those people because it was already getting hot and there was no shade on the run.  My finish photo is deceptive.  I don't think I was really that happy when I finished.



 Watching women in my age group pass me in the last mile was really frustrating since most likely they would not have passed me if I stayed upright on my bike.  Ended out 25th in my age group. It would have been 26th, but after one woman passed me and then slowed down, I decided I would chase her down and pass back. I kept quoting Isaiah 41 "run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint, soar on the wings of eagles". I guess my finish photo was my soaring on the wings of eagles. Roll downs go to 25th, but with people aging up from F55-59 I was more like 32nd in terms of worlds qualification.

Okay, Now What?

After going to the awards ceremony and finding out just how poor my chances were of making it to Rotterdam, I cried.  Roll downs go to 25th, but with people aging up from F55-59 I was more like 34nd in terms of worlds qualification. Which lead to the what ifs? What if I hadn't gotten attacked in Seattle? What if I had been more disciplined in my training? What if I had run more in New Hampshire and Ireland? What if I had gone over the course so I would have known about the hill? Blah, blah, blah.

So after I sucked it up, I went out with a friend and had a delicious meal.  What did I have?  What else does a carnivore have in Omaha? Steak!


After dinner I went back to my hotel room and started working on plan B for Team USA.  Except plan B actually began with the letter A, as in aquabike.  I had found out on Thursday at the USAT banquet that aquabike was going to be included in the 2017 multi-sport world championships. This meant I needed to go to Miami in November and compete in the aquabike national championships at Miami Man.  Earlier in the year when I was planning my 2016 race calendar, I rejected the race because the entry fee was too high.  I took a deep breath and said "Suck it up if you want to be part of Team USA."

There was just one problem with this idea.  I had not planned on doing any aquabike races in 2016.  I was focusing on sprint and Olympic distance races which meant I was only training for races with a .9 mile swim and a 25 mile bike at the most.  Aquabike nationals' distances are 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike. Although I have no trouble with either distance per se, could I race those distances? I figured the only way I would find out was to do an aquabike event before committing to Miami Man.  Where could I find such a race that I could drive to? Easy. Rev 3 in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.  Friends were doing a relay and another friend was doing the 1/2 ironman.  I was going to Maine anyway to visit my friend in Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island.  Why not break up the drive with a pit stop in Old Orchard Beach?

Rev 3 - Old Orchard Beach, ME

Two weeks after Age Group nationals I'm doing a race I haven't trained for.  Sometimes those are the best races.  Zero expectations means zero stress.  First of all there were no age group awards in the aquabike division.  Just the top 5 males and females.  I figured I'd get my butt kicked by a bunch of women half my age.  I was wrong. I got my butt kicked by women in their late forties and fifties.  Second of all I got to hang out with a bunch of my Rye Tri Club buddies. Jessica was doing her first 1/2 iron distance. Al, Dani and Mare were doing a relay in the Olympic distance race. Jessica's partner was our cheerleader and Sherpa.  Always more fun to have friends to hang with.


The race itself?  Great!  I was a little nervous about the swim.  Would be I be able to do the distance? How was it going to be swimming in ocean? Was I going to freeze?  The answers; yes, fine, no. I did wear a second swim cap and had my goggles under the race cap which was on top.  That ended out being a wise move.  I caught an elbow in the face from a guy I was passing.  Knocked my goggles a little askew, but was able to quickly adjust them and keep swimming.

Transition was insanely slow because there was a long run from the beach to the transition area.  I was wishing I had a pair of sandals to slip on for the run to transition.  Concrete and bare feet make a lousy combination.

The bike was a blast.  Lots of rolling hills.  The only problem was, I didn't really know who I was racing against.  They didn't put any special designation for aquabikers on our calf.  There was just the age.  I has doing back and forth with this one woman.  I'd pass her on the uphills and she would blow by me on the downhills.  She probably outweighed me by 70 pounds.  I had no idea if she was my competition or not because she was wearing calf sleeves so I couldn't even see her age.  I just treated everyone on the course as my competition.  As it turned out she was in the half iron and killed the Athena division.  The one interesting part of the bike course was getting stuck behind a hay truck going about 10 mph.  The workers sitting on the truck waved us through when it was safe to pass.  I was glad there were no USAT officials around as we were blatantly committing a double yellow line violation.  Life in the slow lane of farm country.  I was happier in the fast lane of triathlon country. I was happy with my 19.5 mph pace on the bike.


I finished 9th out of 21 woman, and  20th out 42 overall.  Not too shabby for a race I didn't train for and decided to do two weeks earlier.  What could I do if I actually trained?

Stay tuned...





Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 Review Part 2A- The travel blog

Tripping over Training

Although I had grand plans and goals for the season, sometimes things just happen a little differently then planned. I planned when I was in New Hampshire to focus on running and swimming.  I did get a lot of open water swims in.  That was easy, especially having a lake like this to swim in everyday.


I had planned to run two to three times, but it ended out being just once.  I ended out being a little busier than I thought.  Also who wants to run when it's 90 degrees at 5:00 pm in New Hampshire?  What happened to cool New England summers?

I got back from New Hampshire on July 10th. Ideally it would have been nice to have the rest of July and beginning of August to fine tune my training and preparations for Age Group National Championships.  However there was the small matter of vacation with my non-triathlete husband.  We did a Backroads bike trip to Alaska for my 60th birthday.  For his 60th we were biking in Ireland.  The biking was fabulous, and at times challenging.

I had the pleasure of climbing up this lovely road on the hottest day ever in Ireland. I never thought I would need an electrolyte drink on this trip.  I had visions of cool days and possibly some rain.  


Here I am on the Ring of Kerry in classic Irish weather.  I did not find a leprechaun or a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow behind me.  That was the one day where it really did rain, and we got really wet.


Our ride got cut short that day, but it gave me a chance for an unexpected training treat later that day.  We went back to our hotel which was located on a lovely little lake.  So what's a triathlete to do? Open water swim!!! Although it had stopped raining, it was windy and the water was rather choppy.  However I was quite happy to get 700 yards of unplanned open water swimming in.


I also managed to get a couple of good pool swims, and a couple of runs.  However none of this I qualify as highly useful training.  It was basically maintaining fitness, but not improving on speed or technique.  However it beat the alternative of eating and drinking my way through Ireland and gaining 10 pounds.  Trust me, there was a lot of good food and drink as the pictures below will show.

Turkey?  Yes they have turkey in Ireland.

Shepherds Pie



Dessert!
Beer! What would Ireland be without beer?


Lamb chops


Hopefully those lamb chops didn't come from these guys.  Yes, Ireland has lots of sheep. Which sometimes would be standing in the middle of the road.  However it wasn't as bad as the day we almost had a head on collision with a herd of cows.


Guess who had to wait for who?  One does nor argue with a herd of cows.  They had the right of way on this single lane country road.
 


So after 2 weeks of travel it was back to New York and 11 days before jumping on an airplane and heading out to Omaha for Nationals.  Was a it worth it?  Looking back at it now, I can say yes.  Though in Omaha it did question myself.  But that's the next story.


Friday, January 06, 2017

2016 Year in Review - Part 1

I thought I had posted more last than I actually had.  But it turns out I had an incomplete race report from St. Anthony's in draft mode, a couple of partial race reports in various Word documents on various computers, and one hand written race report in my journal.  I also had a lot of ideas in my head that never quite made it to paper or computer.  Such is the life of a chronic procrastinator.  In fact I had meant to post this on January 1st, but it did not happen.  Better late then never.

Last March I had listed some goals for myself along with a tentative race calendar.  As it turns out, the race calendar was about the only part I got right.  I did all five races listed, and threw in one more after having a meltdown in Omaha.  More on that later.  The running and swimming goals didn't quite go as planned, especially after "Sleepless in Seattle".  Also I made some personal choices that definitely impacted my training leading up to Age Group Nationals. Non-triathlon related travel does mess with one's training. I knew this was going to be an issue, but sometimes one's priorities change along the way.  Would I have wanted to trade a lovely vacation in Ireland with my non-triathlete husband for a couple of more weeks of focused training? Nope.  What about the week in New Hampshire doing a volunteer photography job at a wonderful girls' camp on a beautiful lake? Nope.  The New Hampshire trip actually did have a lot of opportunities for open water swims, which I took full advantage of.  The running didn't quite work out as planned.  Forget biking. I didn't even bother to take the bike with me.  I knew there would be plenty of biking in Ireland since the first part of the trip was a bike tour.

No lengthy race reports here, but quick summaries of my first two races of 2016.

 4/24: St. Anthony's Olympic distance. St. Petersburg, FL

 Initially I had set a goal of breaking 3 hours, and placing top 5 in my age group.  The super secret goal was 2:50 and coming in 2nd. 1st was totally out of the question knowing the competition.  I knew I had to change my goals and expectations based how I was feeling after getting attacked.  My focus would be on doing whatever my body would allow, and having fun.  This was not my A race, so worrying about results could wait.  I actually surprised myself with how it went.  I had a decent swim, a good bike, and an okay run.  I actually passed someone in my age group on the run.  When was the last time that happened?





I didn't break 3 hours and I was fine with that.  I did come in 3rd in my age group.  Even if I had hit my super secret goal time of 2:50, I still would have come in 3rd. 

6/26: Sleepy Hollow Sprint Triathlon, Sleepy Hollow, NY

 This was my Team in Training race.  This was the race that got me back into triathlons after an extended break that lasted until 2014.  I had modest goals back then.  The night before that race I posted on Facebook the following:

Hard to believe my triathlon comeback is almost upon me. Yeh, my heart rate went up a little as I packed my transition bag tonight. Everything is packed away. Checking my list, once, twice. Everything is nice.

The old tri-geek in me wonders if she can relive the glory days of age group wins. The comeback kid here tries to tell the old tri-geek to shut up and enjoy the moment when she crosses the finish line, and then enjoy the moments of my totally awesome TNT teammates crossing their first finish line. Tomorrow is going to be amazing no matter what happens.

It's been 9 years since that last age group win. Yeh, true I'm the "youngster" in F60-64, but who knows how this recent graduate of C25K will do on the run. Can I hold off some speedy 60 year old that still run 8 minute miles?
Now my goals weren't so modest.  I wanted to beat the time I did in 2014, especially the swim time, and win my age group again.  One out of three isn't so bad.  Sometimes things don't quite go as planned.  Nothing one can do when the mighty Hudson River gets gnarly.  





This was supposed to be a 1/2 mile swim. Roughly 800 yards.  The currents had a whole different idea as you can see from the swim segment from Garmin Connect.  During the swim I kept blaming things like my leaky goggles or my new wetsuit.  I had practiced in the new suit, but it was my first race using it.  There were times during the swim that I just wanted to say "screw it" and go grab a kayak.  I was thinking the entire time "I suck, I'm not going to win my age group, there are going to be no bikes left in transition, why didn't I get my goggles on right?, why did I get this wetsuit?" The one thing that kept me going was knowing that I had raised a lot of money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and I'd feel like I let my donors down if I didn't finish.

I did finish the swim and when I ran into transition I was very surprised to see lots of bikes still on the racks.  Clearly I wasn't the only one having swimming issues.  I would find out later that a lot of people had to be pulled from the water.  It reminded me of that race I did in Delaware many years ago where the currents went crazy.  I smoked the bike, having the 5th fastest bike split among all women.  The 4 women with faster bike splits were 1/2 my age.  BTW, I did win my age group again.

First 3rd of my season completed.  Next on my schedule was National Age Group Championship in Omaha, Nebraska.  My last trip to age group nationals was 11 years ago when there ended out being no race, but lots of good stories to tell afterward.  Back then it was unheard of canceling a race.  These days it seems like races are either getting shortened, turned into different format, canceled or rescheduled.  Mother Nature has turned into a real bitch.  

However before making my way to Omaha there would be a couple of non-triathlon trips in July, including that vacation in Ireland.

Stay tuned for Part 2...

Yes I'll even slip a few Ireland pictures in there. Although this is a triathlon blog, I sometimes like to pretend it's a travel blog instead.