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.