Friday, September 23, 2011

Pictures from Cedar Point

It took me a few days to process everything out. Truth of the matter is, I was sick. There's nothing I could do about being sick. Had I not been, I would have finished the day as an ironwoman. That's the risk you take when choosing to do epic endurance racing. You put all eggs in one basket and that basket has got to hold steady. Surprisingly, I'm okay with all this. There will be other races. For now, I'm just laying low and continuing to swimbikerun for fun.

I've finally downloaded all the pictures Dave took from Cedar Point. There's not all that many of them since the day stopped half way through the bike, but I thought I'd share what I had.

Mine's the midget bike.

REALLY not looking like I'm feeling good.

But, giving the double thumbs up that the first half of the swim has gone well and I'm okay.

Pointing to Rachelle, showing she was right beside me. This was funny as we had discussed we were doing the whole racing holding hands.

And this is what I looked like after midnight, completely drugged up and barely able to keep my eyes open having spent the whole day tossing my cookies. Good times!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday Thoughts

And....I'm back. I'm not doing much of anything so I haven't really had much to say. My mom pointed out something to me earlier today that I thought would make a great Thursday Thoughts. It's been a long time since I've done a Thursday Thoughts. Welcome back, Mer. Welcome back.

My mom pointed out to me today that it's Banned Book day. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it lead into a conversation about a book I just read. I recently read "Tweak" by Nic Sheff. I had read his dad's book, "Beautiful Boy" earlier this year and wanted to read the other side of the story. Basically, it's Nic's personal telling of his drug addiction. It was a good book. Not as good as his dad's but a good book nonetheless. Here's my problem with it, though. It is very detailed and descriptive about his drug use and sex life, and use some very bad language. Normally, this wouldn't bother me in a book. Hell, I talk that way myself. But what bothered me was I picked this book up in the library in the teen section. This book is definitely not appropriate for teenagers. I even complained to the library about it. They wanted me to fill out an online book report that they would consider, etc. I didn't do it. This book shouldn't be banned, but it certainly shouldn't be in the teenage section either.

So, what book do you consider controversial? Should it be banned? Why?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Rest of the Story


As you've probably figured out by now, my ironman didn't go as planned. I have been healthier than I've ever been for the last year and a half. Not a sniffle or a sneeze. Nothing. I have been a complete germ nazi: washing my hands like a mad woman, avoiding social situations, getting flu shots, sleeping in separate beds if Dave was sick. And it has worked for me.

Saturday night before the race I started feeling really sick to my stomach while at dinner. I chalked it up to nerves, but it had me so rattled I couldn't eat dinner. I had about three bites of my dinner and that was it. When I went to bed that night I continued to feel sick. Really sick. I had heartburn that stretched from my belly button to about mid-chest. I ate a tums and tried to eat some bread, but nothing was really helping. When the alarm went off on race morning, I had gotten about four hours of sleep. And I was still feeling really bad. Really bad. I tried to eat some breakfast but it just wouldn't go down and I was starting to get worried about how bad I was feeling. Before I knew it was I was in the bathroom vomiting and there went any bit of nutrition I had in my body. Nothing else was eaten that morning.

We went down to the race site to set up my transition and I was feeling better. The nerves seemed to have passed as I was now feeling more comfortable with the race day ahead. Before I knew it, I was in my wetsuit, standing in the sand, waiting for the starting horn to sound. And then my day began. I was walking into the water and feeling okay.

The swim went fantastically. I felt comfortable. I was swimming well. It was all seeming a lot easier than I imagined it being. And then the swim was over. I was out of the water around 1:21 which is exactly what I expected. I walked from the beach through transition and everything seemed to be going as planned.

I was out on the bike and I was working the plan. My heart rate was really low and my legs seemed to be turning over well. On the way out I hit a bump and lost a bag of nutrition. I simply stopped and went back for it. This happened again around mile 10 as I launched not only a bag of nutrition but a water bottle. Again I stopped and went back for it. Something happened around mile 10 that started to have me concerned: my nausea was coming back. I was feeling sick to my stomach, my head was spinning, and I was losing power in my legs. It was WAY too early to be feeling bad. But, I kept at my nutrition taking all that was scheduled and not losing any of it. Once I made it to Milan I started looking for a port-a-john. My stomach needed a reprieve. Of course, I didn't find one. It was during this time too that I started dry heaving. The road out of Milan is a long stretch with the wind at your back. I expected to be flying down this road. Instead I was struggling to do 15mph and my stomach kept flip-flopping. I kept trying to tell myself, it will pass, but it wasn't passing. I was making deals with's okay to slow down; you can walk the marathon and still be fine; just make it to the start of the second loop; make it to Milan and call Dave and have him talk you down. At mile 40 was an aid station and I stopped. I called Dave and was panicky. I didn't know what to do. I was dry heaving and couldn't gain any ground on how badly I was feeling. I took a break, ate a pretzel from a spectator. Things were just not going well. The bike tech called medical and asked what to do. It was then he said he would not allow me back on the course and my day was over. He drove me back to transition and escorted me to the medical tent.

In the medical tent they gave me some anti-nausea medicine which worked wonders. I was able to get some lunch and despite feeling like a complete zombie, I was feeling much much better. Disappointed, but physically better. I watched the rest of the race and cheered on my friends and teammates.

Around 10:00pm we all headed to dinner. It had been about 8 or 9 hours since they had given me my medicine and I was starting to feel sick again. Really sick. As Rachelle and my family ate dinner, I sat in the parking lot continuing to vomit. The poor people at Pizza Hut took pity on me and sent me home with crackers and a Sierra Mist. When we made it back to the hotel, I was still feeling horrible and made the decision to head to the local emergency room. Once there they hooked me up with a saline drip, a shot of anti-nausea medicine, a shot of Pepcid, and a concoction of laticane and some other heart burn medicine. I took a little nap and they sent me on my way. We got back to the hotel around 2:00am and I slept until about 8:00. Yesterday I felt much better and was able to eat and drink as normal, although the dizzies have continued and I'm still not feeling really confident about eating.

So where does this leave me? Still without an ironman finish and frankly, out of time. I WILL NOT devote another year to this. The plan was to move on with my life: go back to work, start a family, be a real person without the pressures of racing or training. Ten years has been enough and I just want to take a break and enjoy running with friends and family again. I want to be able to go on a vacation that is not focused around a race. I want to be able to wake up and say, today I'm going to go for a run, or say, not today. I have looked at my short term options and I'm just not sure I'm that into it. Can I devote another 5-6 weeks? Sure. Do I care? I don't know. And I know that if I'm waffling, the answer needs to be no. Do I still really want to finish an Ironman? Absolutely. I just may need to change things up. My family has always teased me about being a total worry wart and not being able to control my nerves and they are absolutely right. I'm not sure I will ever be able to control that enough to handle ironman. (This weekend was not about nerves, though. I was sick or had food poisoning.) Dave and I have talked a lot about doing this together. I think that would certainly help my nerves and take the pressure completely off. I'm not gonna lie, I feel a lot of pressure when it comes to ironman. I have had A LOT of success with running. I think it's totally natural that myself and others think that it's going to translate to ironman/triathlon. In some ways it has. In others it hasn't. My teammates had fantastic days at Cedar Point and knowing that I could not compare to them would have had me feeling disappointed in my race performance even though ironman is all about finishing. But I also think about the flip side. What if I never do an ironman? Am I okay with that? I think a lot about Steve Stenzel when I get to this option. He's a fantastic runner, but has never done a marathon. Is a marathon that important as a runner? No. He has found he's better at short course and that not ever runner has to be a marathoner. Can I get to that point and be okay that I may never be an ironman? I don't have that answer yet.

And so I'm left here feeling disappointed and empty. Very empty. And sad. I just don't know what to do or think. I just don't know.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Check Up

With only four days to go until THE BIG ONE!!! (OMG ONLY FOUR DAYS!!!) it's time to do a little check up. A mental and physical inventory, if you will.

Mentally, I'm feeling surprisingly great. Last year I was scared out of my mind. I couldn't sleep. I struggled to eat. The enormity of it scared the crap out of me. I would envision the finish and I would lose it. This year, things are different. I've had GREAT training - not only physical - but great mental training. I'll admit it, last year I would do bike rides with my iPod stuck in one ear. I was bored by the training. I just couldn't get my head wrapped around it. This year my mind is sharp. For very long stretches of my bike rides my mind would completely wipe. This happens to me when I run and it has served me well. In addition, I'm approaching the race differently. Last year I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. I felt like I had something to prove. And although I think I'm going to do great this year, I don't care if this race takes me all damn day. I'm finishing it no matter what. I'm approaching the race as three separate parts and thinking of each of them as practice. Even breaking up each sport separately, I'm even going deeper than that. For the swim, I'm thinking only four strokes at a time. This is how I breathe when I swim. I will only concentrate on my form and four strokes. For the bike, honest to goodness, I'm breaking the ride up into 5 minute and 15 minute segments. This is when I take my nutrition. The bike will be just a big eating-fest to get to the next segment. I'm not going to think about how long I've been on the bike course or what my average pace is. It's all about heart rate and eating. The run is about 50 steps. Yep, "Just 50 Steps." I even wrote that on my sticker that will go on my Garmin. I can truly count to 50 over and over again for an entire marathon. And if it comes to that, that's what I'll do. Mentally I'm feeling really strong and relaxed leading into the weekend.

Physically, things seem to be falling into place. The minimal workouts have caused me to be a bit jittery. Like, I have too much energy. I DO have too much energy - I haven't been able to nap at all. But, I have been sleeping soundly. Last night I got over 8 hours of sleep. No nightmares either. I've closely monitored my weight during training. After losing 10 pounds between November and March, I haven't gained a single pound of it back. This week, although I'm feeling pudgy and bloated (and can tell my clothes are fitting a bit tighter), still no weight gain. My workouts have been spot on. Swimming is controlled, biking is relaxed, and running feels very natural.

So, what do I expect this weekend? Well, I've decided to take the timing expectations out of it. Sure, I'm sure I can swimbikerun X:XX:XX, but who cares. I want to be proud of how I approached the race. I want to have fun and smile and ENJOY the experience. I want to walk away from this entire two year ironman process and say yes, I did this. It doesn't matter if I go 11 hours or 16:59:59. In the end, I will still be an ironman.

See you there...

Thursday, September 01, 2011

August Totals

With only ten days to go the work is over. August was another hot month full of workouts. I didn't do all of them, I think that's impossible, but I did the quality workouts. It's all behind me at this point. What's done is done and there's nothing more I can do about it. I feel I've had a great summer of training and I'm ready to roll.

54 hours, 31 minutes of training

Swim - 21,675 meters ~ 13.5 miles

Bike - 520.72 miles

Run - 83.03 miles

In other news...On tap today was a two hour bike ride followed by a 15 minute transitional run. Last "big" workout. Things were going great. I was flying down the road. But things were different too. A road that I ride all the time had recently been chip-sealed and then I got caught in a rain deluge and had to take shelter in the garage of a house being built. At least the construction workers were nice and understanding. I was on my cool down, having just left my parents' house and heading home, when things started to feel different, squishy. Crap! A flat tire! I have, literally, ridden thousand of miles this year and this was my first flat tire. And being that my bike has already been to the shop for it's final tune-up before The Big One!!! my race wheels are already on. I've never changed a flat on my race wheels. Well, now's the time to figure this out. I took my water bottles off my bike and laid them down so they wouldn't leak out. I emptied the contents of my bike bag to get the tools and supplies I needed. Then I turned my bike over to inspect my back tire (why is it ALWAYS the back tire???) to see if I had punctured it. Sure enough, I found a small pebble had punctured through the tire into the tube. I dusted off the tire and then took it off the bike. This is where things got a little tough. I ride HED3 race wheels, which don't have spokes on them. So the pieces you use to take the tire off the wheel, which usually attaches to the spokes to make it a little easier, didn't work exactly the way I needed them to. Needless to say, though, I was able to get the tire off the wheel and continued changing the tube. I got everything situated, struggled to get the tire back on the wheel, and then tried to get the CO2 cartridge to fill up tube. But, it wasn't working. What? Why? I called Dave and he told me to hold onto the valve stem as I pushed up with the cartridge. Still wasn't working. Then I figured it out. Where was the bolt that goes on the valve stem? Crap! It was inside the tire. So I had to take half of the tire off the wheel again, take the valve stem out of the hole, take the stupid bolt off, and then redo my work. This time because my fingers were in so much pain from trying to get the tire back on the first time, struggled even more to get it on the second time. I was sweating like crazy!!! Finally, the last bit of tire got behind the rim and I was able to get the CO2 cartridge to work this time. I was worried about popping the tube, because it was the only one I had, so I filled it up just enough. Although it was okay, it was still a little squishy on the ride home. But, good job me!!! Hopefully, the flat tire is behind me and it won't happen again in a week. If it does, though, I'm confident in my abilities to get that sucker changed now!