Thursday, June 18, 2009

im thinking

i am so genuinely excited for all my FB friends who are gearing up to race IMCDA this weekend. i find myself listing them all in my head as i am driving in my car or swimming laps in the pool. i wonder what each of them is feeling at that moment 5 days out, then 4 days out ...

i can't help but think back to when i raced IMLP. i was so utterly freaked out ready to shit my pants at any moment scared that i feel like i missed out on a lot. the days leading up to the race are still a bit of a blur.

i wrote a race report after it even though i didn't have a blog back then. i wanted to get all written down because memory fades and i needed to remember. maybe one day i'll post it.

i don't know if i'll ever do another ironman. i think i have a lot of triathlete maturing to do before i attempt it again. i didn't really fall in love with the race distance, but i did fall in love with the training.

almost 3 years later i still love it. i'm out of the rhythm of really long distance days, but i know i would slide right back in. i miss late afternoon drool sessions on the couch after a 6 hour ride. i miss the feeling i got each time the distance was "upped" and i would marvel that i had just done something that at one time seemed downright un-doable.

when i sit and think about all the friends who are racing IMCDA on sunday, my wish for them is that they take it all in. no matter what the days before and the day of bring, it's their journey, their story and they get to keep it forever. they've each worked long and hard for it. everyone of them has made sacrifices and had triumphs along the way. it fills my heart up just thinking about it.

i'm already cheering and sending love, speed and lots of fulfilled dreams your way!!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

the wavy chop

no, it's not a new hairdo ... it's the ocean conditions i swam in yesterday!

as you know, i've been in the ocean more this season. i've been going to a weekly weds. morning "speed circuit" where we swim about 250 meters out to a buoy, come back in, run up the beach a ways, round an orange cone, down the beach about 50 meters, round another cone and back into the water. run, swim, rinse, repeat.

it's been a blast!

on the drive down there each week i don't let myself think about what i am on my way to do. i just drive: "doot, da, doot, da, doot ... here i am in my car at 5:45am ... driving along ... doot, da, doot, da, doot" and just like that i'm in the parking lot, lubing up with body glide, wrestling myself into the kielbasa casing known as my wetsuit and splashing around with 100+ of my closest neoprene-clad friends.

the other week i did a record (for me) 4 loops. SO PROUD!!

yesterday i had an unexplained sinking feeling in my stomach as i doot-da-dooted my way toward the beach. uneasy. queasy.

got to beach and just kept taking one sketchy footstep after the other.

i got into the water and, as beth would say, HOLY CATS!! sure, it looked dark and ominous from up on the sand, but it didn't look ... uh ... quite so wavy or choppy. damn, it's wavy choppy!!!

immediately i lost my breath. it was a little colder than it's been recently. it was rough. i was anxious. all put together = cat can't really breathe so good.

j. was a sweetheart as we both had flashbacks to my untold ocean freak outs where i insisted: "I CAN'T DO THIS!!! DON'T LEAVE ME BY MYSELF!!! WHERE ARE YOU GOING!?!?! I'M GETTING OUT. WAIT, I DON'T WANT TO DO THAT ALONE!?!? HEEEELP!!!"

as usual he said, "try one loop". i decided to try. i stopped every couple of breaths making sure there was no confusion on his part that "i'm not sure i can do this". i didn't want my fear to win, i didn't want to have to navigate getting out alone, i didn't want j. to not get his workout done, i didn't want to get the idea stuck in my head that the ocean was scary and that i take a powder and go for breakfast when it gets rough (which i do, but i wasn't in the mood to prove it to myself).

so i did the loop. it was a rough go, but the extreme freak out i felt at first subsided. until, of course, we had to head in and what were probably mid-sized waves looked to me like building-collapsing tidal waves. i knew it was bad when i screamed to j. that i just wanted the other people swimming near me to get the hell away from me!! what? how will that help? no idea. i was irrational.

okay, i'm writing this so obviously i got back to shore. whew!

j. headed out for another loop and i sat on the sand, totally relieved to be done and totally bummed that i wasn't going back out. i watched people run up the beach and excitedly run back out. our friend josh ran up and looked at me "all done?" he asked. i'm not sure what i replied, but it was something of the "you betcha" variety.

j. came back out and next thing i knew i was at his side saying i wanted to go back out. it didn't look so bad. he looked at me, looked at the ocean and said "yeah? okay ... sure, it doesn't look that bad from here ..."

guess what, it was worse than the first time around! well, the conditions were but i wasn't. i was up and over a big wave, swimming in mid-air. that part was actually kind of fun. the buoy ... well, i couldn't really see it but there were still enough people out there that i was able to keep my bearings.

on the exit i got slightly pummeled, but nothing too bad.

i was as proud of doing that second loop yesterday as i was of having done 4 last week. sure i got a total of something like 17 minutes of swimming in (and that includes a lot of wading, stopping, diving, orienting), BUT i got a ton of confidence and character building in that 17 minutes.

j. went out for yet another loop (stud). i was a wee bit nervous as he and his two friends headed out in the complete opposite direction of the buoy, but they soon realized the conditions had taken them off course and righted themselves.

after the swim i declared we were going for blueberry pancakes. heavenly, hearty, gluten-filled pancakes. that swim was a triumph worthy of my favorite breakfast. shoot, had baskin & robbins been open i might have even gotten myself a scoop of mint chocolate chip on my way to work.

here's to the wavy chop not gettin' you down!


Monday, June 8, 2009

bonelli race report

today (oops, now yesterday) i raced the bonelli olympic tri. i’ve done this race a few times before. i like it because it’s only 45 miles from home so racing it doesn’t require an overnight stay … which requires way too much packing and planning. i like to sleep in my own bed and just get up (albeit still at 4:15am) and head out to the site.

i think i’ve done this race 3 or 4 times and every time j. has been my 'sherpa extraordinaire', but today he was going to be racing as well and i was so excited! we haven’t raced the same (multisport) race since vineman half in 2007. our friends jen, kevin and josh were racing as well. i wasn’t sure if having friends racing would increase my race anxiety or lessen it. for today, it lessened it and i was thrilled.

i didn’t feel anything like the nerves i usually feel pre-race. in fact, throughout the week i kept on saying to myself “wait, what do i have going on this weekend?” because i sensed there was something big i needed to remember and then i’d be like “oh right, i’m racing!!” that is SO not my pre-race attitude. maybe it’s because this race wasn’t on my original schedule. after napa i added it because i wanted to see what i could do with a shorter distance … and NO RAIN (hopefully). ironically, as we drove to san dimas the dark, dark skies were threatening a downpour. luckily, no rain appeared. in fact, it was glorious out there. the sun just started peeking through the clouds as my swim wave went off.

ah, the swim! seems that what happens when you are more confident with your swim and you line up toward the front and don’t fade immediately is … you get a lot more contact. i got punched in the head and my goggles went all askew. the one thing i do not like about bonelli is their lack of a buoy that you can actually sight off of. i looked back over my past race reports and i was giving myself such a bad time in them for having stopped periodically throughout the swim to “locate myself”. i always assumed it was just that i sucked at sighting. having been in open water a bit more, recently, i can say that I do not suck at it. i definitely could get better, but i have the skill needed and what bonelli needs is something larger than what they refer to as “a salmon egg”. HA! i think they call it that because of its shape and color, but they ought to call it that because its size, relative to the body of water we are in, is like that of salmon roe atop a piece of sushi. sight off of that!

anyway, the swim was fine, other than the increased contact. i found myself getting a little “sigh … can this swim end yet?” at one point, but it was all good.

out on the bike course i had to play that balancing act between “this is a short race, go hard” and “save a little for the run”. there are a lot of new folks who do the relay and sprint (the sprint is one loop of the three loop course) and unfortunately what you get with that is a lot of people who do not know the rules about not passing on the right and about dropping back when you’ve been passed and about going back over to the right when you’ve passed someone. i’m a rule follower and a stickler for safety, so it sorta chapped my ass, but i tried to just make sure that people knew where i was and watched out.

i could feel on the bike that the nerve/back/hamstring/whatever issue i’ve been battling was flaring up. i was uncomfortable, to say the least, but not muscle uncomfortable. i’m not sure how to describe it, but i know the difference.

off the bike i was afraid the issues i was having were going to be a factor, but i tried to push the thought out of my head and just trust that things would shake out as i ran. the bonelli run course is an interesting one. i wouldn’t call it flat, flat … but i also would not call it hilly. it’s always been a fairly challenging run for me. it’s usually crazy hot and i suppose my legs always feel those three bike loops. i tried to settle in and not judge my race. i looked at the pretty scenery. i thought about positive things.

funny how recently when i am on the run of a brick or race and i want to think of positive things, one of the things that I’ve been saying is “i am so happy i didn’t crash on the bike!” hahaha. that makes me laugh … it’s sort of a negative positive in its own way. but the reality is that the older i get the more afraid of crashing i become. the other thing i was grateful for was the lack of heat. i wasn’t having any of my bloating issues despite not being able to “do my business” before the race.

i hung in there, but the nag in my hip and hamstring were just not going away. my legs didn’t feel particularly heavy, but i couldn’t push more than i was. when i’d become conscious that i had been “accepting” my pace, i would think about liz and what she had said to me about picking it up for 10 seconds and then holding it there. i tried, jeez … i tried.

it’s sounding like i am unhappy with the race. i’m not. i think i’m just a little frustrated. i was saying to j. on the car ride home that i feel like i am SO dedicated to my training, i work very hard. i rarely, if ever, blow off a workout. i plan for them all, i prepare, i follow instructions, i work hard. i take my recovery and nutrition seriously. but i feel like the end result doesn’t equal the work i put into it. he made the very astute point, of “but what if you didn’t do those things? you would probably be slower.” he’s right, i probably would be and that’s a reality that’s tough for me because it means i sort of have to just accept that i am who i am.

sure i can continue to work hard to maintain and dollars-to-doughnuts i’ll have breakthrough training and racing times, but i won’t suddenly become someone who runs in the 6-7 minute mile range off the bike. i want to be that girl. okay, so if i’m not going to be her, i want to at least feel like busting my ass 6 days a week produces a shift, some growth, some speed. boo hoo, right? i know, i know, but it's all relative and i’ll get over myself soon.

back to the race for a second. as i was running along on a little out and back section i saw j. coming toward me. as we passed i yelled out “come on, come catch me!” i knew he could, but he didn’t look too thrilled about the prospect of trying, but i also KNEW given a few seconds he’d be like “hell yeah, i’m gonna go catch her”.

a while later i heard a couple of footsteps behind me. i just knew they were j’s. funny how you can recognize your partner before you even see them. i turned around and it was him! i had the feeling he was going to hold up and want to run it in to the finish with me, but i really wanted him to press on. he’s got great running legs when he’s not injured and i wanted him to have that experience today, that success.

as he approached i cheered him on and said “come on, go, go, go!!” he did and watching him gazelle off into the distance made me so happy for him. he loves running more than anything and watching the mental anguish that chronic calf and achilles pain causes him is just no fun.

j. has spectated for me at the race so many times that i am used to him being at certain points on the course. when i exited the water, i missed him screaming (to the ear damaging distress of the other spectators) “GO CAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”. out on the bike course, i missed feeling like a tour de france rider as i went past him on each loop. before he passed me today, i had the fleeting thought of “dang, j. won’t be at the finish screaming his bloody head off for me”, but as he ran off toward the finish i thought to myself, “yeah, he’ll be there when i cross the line! i sure hope he’s not too tired to scream!!" he may not have screamed, but he sure did look just as proud as all the other times.

okay, racing pity party over. time to talk to my coach and try to figure out what i can and cannot do to try to achieve the milestones i want and then … time to eat pizza!!!


*sorry for the lack of photos. there are only two of me and i look like an oompa loompa in both!