2014 Prep & Planning

I started a list of my races and my goals for each race yesterday, but decided to also tell how to I pick my races.   While the pros focus on A races and tune-ups, goal simulation races and points races, everyday athletes have a lot more options and more creative ways to go about planning our seasons. 

I pick one big race. Once again, I've chosen Beach2Battleship full iron distance as my big race. It's going to drive my entire season. All my training is going to progress and build to that one big race. But, that race is so far away! So, I fill my calendar with other races or events.

Pick a race you've done before - and do it better. Improve one aspect or the whole thing,  including overall time, the run pace, the transitions. Improve your nutrition or even the training leading up to that race. In addition to B2B, I am doing Patriot's Half Ironman in September again. I did it last year and loved the course and the event as a whole, but I didn't love my run. I want to see what I can do this year to achieve a personal best. 

Choose a race you've done before and do it differently. This year, my biggest event for the spring is North Carolina Tour de Cure. The Tour de Cure is a cycling event that raises awareness and money for people with diabetes. Last year I did the 82-mile ride from Cary to Pinehurst. This year, I'm upping the ante for a double century: 208 miles in two days!   

Pick an event that means something. The Tour de Cure falls into that category - as does the Azalea sprint triathlon. Our tri club is doing this event for a team member who passed away last summer. There are so many ways to race for someone or something that stimulates your philanthropic spirit. Team in Training and the Pink Ribbon foundations are the biggies, but you may find a smaller event that raises money for a cause you care about.

Choose a fun race. Choose something that is just for fun. Even the most competitive swimmers, cyclists and runners need events that are a relief from the pressure of performance or a personal best. Find a color run or an obstacle course or a team event that will allow you to go out and play. My play race is the Myrtle Beach marathon relay in February. My husband and two best friends are splitting up 26.2 miles to keep our training on target and to get a medal shaped like flip flops! 

Choose a new race. Look for new races or opportunities to test yourself. It's easy to get stuck doing the same races. This is your year to branch out and find a new distance or a race in a different place. I've chosen a brand-new international distance race in New Bern, NC. It's its first year and right now, there are less than 60 people signed up for it.


Pre-Season Prep

I'm getting excited about the new year. I've been planning and preparing my race calendar and it's going to be a fun year. Here's what's in store so far:
MB 2010 Snowed Out Half
Myrtle Beach Marathon Relay [February 15, 2014] - I'm doing this race with Ace, Erica and Jen. We're dividing the MB marathon into pieces. Erica will be doing a fast long run, Ace will be doing his longest-ever race distance, Jen and I will be fighting over who starts and we'll all get medals! 

My first triathlon of the season is the Azalea Sprint triathlon in Wilmington. I was sidelined last year due to a bout with bronchitis. This year, our team is joining forces for a tribute to Brian Campbell. He was our friend, teammate and unofficial leader of the club. He had been a part of our tri club since its beginning and was a big part of who we are as a team. He was the soul and energy of our group. Many of our members (past and present) were brought into our club by Brian. He was so proud of our teammates, the coaches, the practices and events that he would talk to anyone, anywhere (the book store, spin class, the grocery) about joining us! 
He made a big impact on so many of us. He was an encourager and mentor, a training buddy and friend. He loved to share stories of his adventures on our Friday runs, he loved to share coffee at Starbucks before Sunday long runs and he loved to share a laugh anywhere he went.
Our club is dedicating our season to him. Our orange tee shirts this year will bear his name.
And, we're making Azalea our signature race. Mainly because Brian LOVED the Azalea triathlon. He raced it at least five times including twice in 2010 when SetUp Events held the event on Saturday and Sunday in the same weekend! One year he finished on the podium despite the fact that he had two punctures on the bike leg (someone had tacked the course!). In 2011, he raced with his son David. Three times out of five he finished on the podium (first in 2011, second in 2010 and third in 2012). He was always talking about how it would be great if everyone raced together. We're on our way to doing just that!  

Including how everyday athletes plan and prep for their seasons.


Snow Day 2014

Today was a snow day. This is what happens on snow days in the South: the world shuts down. We slept late, took a walk around the neighborhood, I rode the trainer, made pancakes, frittatas and bacon, took a nap, walked around the yard with Sugar and Ace and sat by the fire. AWESOME DAY. Here are some shots of the day (complete with cheesy music): 



Yesterday marked the three month mark from the race.  It also marked the first full week back into training. To properly honor the occasion, I did something weird: I ceremoniously removed my B2B wristband.

It was a short ceremony. Yes. For three months I've worn a purple tyvek wristband on my left arm. It's exactly like the ones you get when you go to a bar or concert but it was stamped with the B2B logo. A plastic badge of courage. It had cuts in several places along the edge and the outer purple part had separated from the inner band. Chlorine (or sweat) from a swim earlier in the day leaked out of one of the holes near the clasp. Gross.  I don't think it would have ever come off on its own.

In keeping with the quote from yesterday (see the ring below), I used it as a reminder of that day. I used it as a reminder to look within. I used it as a reminder to move forward. I had three goals for keeping it on for so long. One was to write about my experience. I wanted to journal about it so that I wouldn't forget the day itself - or the friends and family who supported my journey.  One was to reflect on what it meant to me. The third was reverse psychology: I told myself I could remove the bracelet when I signed up for Beach2Battleship 2014!

Here We Go Again!
I'm sure I'll uncover more life lessons from B2B 2013 that I'll share here in the coming year but, I'm ready for the new year now and the new adventure to ironman. I'm ready to move forward with all that I learned and experienced last year and CONNECT to what waits this year. Here we go again!


Looking Within

This is all for today. My one idea for today's post - based on this quote - turned into a series of posts for the rest of the week. See you tomorrow!



Regeneration and Recovery

I have a few more defining moments that I want to write about tomorrow, but I thought I'd take a break from all my ironman philosophizing and take a day off. So yesterday I did. On my day off, I read about taking a day off. 

I found THIS ARTICLE about taking a break from writing. 

Do what athletes often do on rest days—cross-train. Instead of practicing their chosen sport every day, athletes cross-train by doing a lower-impact activity, like walking, swimming, yoga, or Pilates, or one that taps into different muscles and movements.

And, I found THIS ARTICLE about REGENERATION and active recovery.  Here are a few key points:

In "active rest," you take a break from serious training but still do things that benefit your body, such as playing golf, tennis, or basketball, or doing some lightly flexibility work. You’re not training per se, but you’re still getting the benefit of physical activity. Not only that, you’re having fun.

Your body actually improves and adapts to stress on regeneration days, when you’re recovering from the high-intensity days.

Regeneration also is vital from a mental standpoint. If I have you train hard 6 days a week and challenge your endurance and confidence every day, you’re going to burn out. Even pro athletes would drop out. But if you can relax a bit, you’ll not only look forward to those easy days but also be inspired to work harder on your more difficult training days. 

So, I took yesterday off despite a vow to publish something everyday. I read instead. I watched a well-written movie [CAPTAIN PHILLIPS]. I drafted a newsletter and a promotional email for Masonboro.Org and Fitness for Life. I cross-trained my writing so that I'll be revved up and ready to go for the next chapter.  


Defining Moments

YESTERDAY, I wrote about how Beach2Battleship was a defining moment for me. Mainly because I believe that how you live each day is how you live your life.  I think I loved the day so much because it was a reflection of how I want to live my life everyday. 

The song below expresses more of what I mean. Check out the lyrics and the video, too. I love the lyrics in pink.

"Good To Be Alive"

Hold on
Is this really the life I'm living?
Cause I don't feel like I deserve it
Every day that I wake, every breath that I take You’ve given
So right here, right now
While the sun is shining down

I wanna live like there's no tomorrow
Love like I'm on borrowed time
It's good to be alive, yeah

Hold on
If the life that we've been given
Is made beautiful in the living
And the joy that we get brings joy to the heart of the giver
Then right here, right now
This is the song I'm singing out

I wanna live like there's no tomorrow
Love like I'm on borrowed time
It's good to be alive

I won’t take it for granted
I won’t waste another second
All I want is to give you
A life well lived, to say “thank you”

On race day, I felt like the life I was given was made beautiful in the living. I felt like I was loving and living on borrowed time.  The joy I received and experienced -  brought joy to the heart of the Giver. I was living like there was no tomorrow - taking a chance and taking a once-in-a-lifetime RISK.  A life well-lived. It's good to be alive!


Ironman Defining Moments

This year, I chose CONNECT as MY ONE WORD for 2014. In less than a month, I've realized that it's already a strength of mine. I like to connect meaning to what I've experienced. I like to see the patterns that define my life. I like to connect what I know to how I live. 

Back in March of 2013, I wrote about DEFINING MOMENTS. Ace and I were able to catch Dave McGillivray's keynote speech at the Wrightsville Beach Marathon's participant meeting. Dave McGillivray is the race director for the Boston Marathon. His message that night outlined defining moments in his life. His defining moments were times in his life that could have set him back. His obstacles were not huge, life threatening challenges - but smaller confidence crushers. His setbacks were a setup for a comeback. My bet is that all of those little moments in his life prepared him for the defining moment that came four hours, nine minutes and forty-three seconds into the 2013 Boston Marathon.

In a way, Beach2Battleship was the opposite of that for me. It was a BIG MOMENT on a big day that will prepare me for the little moments of the rest of my days. I have claimed B2B race day to be the BEST. DAY. EVER.I believe that how you live each day is how you live your life.  I think I loved the day so much because it was a reflection of how I want to live my life everyday.  Here is how I want to live my life:

I WANT EACH DAY TO BE FULL: The quote below says it all. On race day I did it all. I laughed  (quite a lot for 140.6 miles). I laughed at myself and others. I laughed to myself and out loud.  I spent a lot of time in thought. I strategized, analyzed, problem-solved and philosophized. Six-Plus hours on a bike is a lot of time to think.  I was moved to tears. Joy leaked out of my eyes at the finish and later that evening. I had a day - a HECK OF A DAY. I want my life to be full.   

Listen to Valvano's ESPY Speech HERE


Beach 2 Battleship Race Review

If you're considering Beach2Battleship full or half - don't wait another minute. Sign up and start training.  I've done them both and I have to say that for a non-branded race, this one is well-run, fun and fast.

The swim course is fun and fast. Even this year - when the event started before the tide change, the swim was flat and fun. This year, the swim start will be two hours before high tide and is likely to be speedy. [OMG I can't believe I just looked up the tide chart already.]

The bike course is fast and flat. It's not pancake flat like they brag, but with one major bridge and some rises that look no more like an interstate exit ramp, it's a flat course.

The run course is scenic and challenging. I put this in the great category for the first time. The course directors have shed the two bridges and the Bermuda triangle in the park to make it a fairly direct out and back. There are challenges to keep you on your toes (a run on the riverwalk, cobblestones and some baby hills) but all in all it's a beautiful course with a water view on the river and the lake.
The people, volunteers and race directors.  I cannot say enough about the hosts - Wilmington residents, volunteers at aid stations and the race directors. All are armed with southern hospitality and wit (Jeremy Davis, you are funny).

The woman in charge of race timing. I don't know who she was but she turned what could have been a disappointing mess into a miracle. And, she stayed up until 7:00am the next morning to manually correct 800+ athlete times. 


The warm showers at the end of the swim. After you've climbed out of the water, stripped your wetsuit and run down the dock a little ways, you can run through a shower tent. The water doesn't gush, but it's enough to warm your tootsies and remove all or part of the Banks Channel beard from your chinny chin chin.

Pajama Bottoms: this may not have been a popular finisher gift for the halfers, but for a full distance athlete finishing after dark in the chill of the October night, this was a little slice of heaven.  
I'm Too Sexy for My Pants

Swag: In general, B2B apparel is amazing. In the past two years, they've used WITHOUT LIMITS as their vendor and I have a hard time NOT buying the whole store. I have an entire collection of B2B apparel now including the FINISHER jacket, a long sleeved tee, two technical hoodies and a finisher beanie. The swag in the bag this year was a cotton tee shirt that I gave to hubby (as usual). I kept the aforementioned pajama bottoms.  

There was an alligator on the run course. I'm putting this in the good column because I think it's awesome that an alligator was sunning itself in the street near the run path. It was out in time for the first half ironman runners and I'm sorry I missed it!  It would have made me run FASTER!

Race Timing Glitch. For the first time in the four years that I've done it, there was an evident computer glitch. Three servers went down and times were off. My first finishing time showed 13:02:25 and my splits didn't add up. Then it was 13:00:00 and the final official time was 13:00:02. This could have been ugly, but did I mention the race official who stayed up until 7:00am the next morning to manually correct 800+ athlete times?  Also, the Live Timing is not reliable.


I can't think of the ugly! 

If I could think of perks for athletes, I have three wishes when it comes to next year's race: 

GOOD:  I wish for an athlete dinner on Thursday. Obviously, this is a personal preference, but I wish they would offer the dinner two nights before race day. I'm not about to eat something new the night before the race. Plus, when they did this a few years back, I was able to meet other athletes - especially the PPD heroes - and spur them on for race day. 

BETTER:  In two races in 2013r - the PATRIOTS HALF IRON near Williamsburg, Va and Ironman Raleigh 70.3 - I experienced a catcher at the finish line. According to TriathlonMami a catcher is this: 

As soon as I crossed the finish line, a “catcher” grabbed me.  This volunteer put her hand on my back, congratulated me and walked me through an assembly line of other volunteers: one who took the timing chip from my ankle, another gave me a hat, a third a tshirt, a fourth a water bottle, another a medal, and finally a space blanket.  My catcher then escorted me to the photographer who would take a picture I ended up not purchasing.  That’s when I saw Joe and the boys and my smile was finally complete.   

I want one! The best part of the finish line was having Shelley put the medal around my neck. It would have been even better to have her all to myself: to give me my medal and escort-me-slash-hold-me-up until I'd made it safely into the arms of the rest of my friends and family.   

BEST:   I wish for video of me at the finish line. I wish I could have footage - audio and video - of running through the finishing chute with Erica; of having Tim announce our names, to pronounce my Ironmanness and tell my story. I would pay big money for that! 

I do have this from Anna and it makes me cry every time:


If you're a first-time full athlete, do it all! Whether you plan to come in first or last, go to the athlete dinner, do the race like a pro, go to the brunch on Sunday. Enjoy it all!  


B2B 2013 - The Run and Finish

That first out-and-back lap was magical. The sun was out and the temp was perfect. The aid stations were prepped with highly energetic volunteers and the people were out in pockets along the course.

I  loved the new course route. I had run the course twice before - once from the Battleship start/finish and once from the downtown start/finish. Those years included runs over two bridges, twice and in 2012 included a CRAZY - and I mean crazy - triangle loop in the middle of Greenfield Park that was confusing and daunting.  The new layout - even with the PPD spur at the start and the uphill turnaround at mile 13(ish) - was so much better. 

On the way back to downtown, I passed all my friends and fans and family again. My fit center crew - in costume - spurred me on at one of the aid stations. Dad & Joyce were at mile nine(ish). There was a pocket of spectators after that with music blaring, a bonfire in the front yard and a sign that said: TOUCH HERE FOR POWER!  Adam Rose (a friend, owner of TrySports and one of the organizers) escorted me on his bike for a few hundred yards at Mile 10(ish). He admitted he was jealous of everyone out there. It was a perfect day to race. I agreed but still bargained with him to trade places.

I headed out of the park and down Greenfield Street to the roar of a band and my team: tri-clubbers, Ace and Anna. 

 I passed through mile 12 and did a little dance through the Overcomer Station:

I passed the Finish Line and cruised to the turnaround. I missed my coach, but passed her hubby and my TriStacey team at the cone. I stopped at special needs in hopes of a Red Bull. [Note to self: put the cranberry red bull in the run special needs bag next time.] I eyed the Nutella and the gum and I settled for a few big gulps of a fizzy Coke, my long-sleeved shirt and my nutrition bottle for lap two. 

I retraced my steps past the Finish Line (tiny bit of torture to know I couldn't just stop there), and the cobblestones on Water Street; walked through the Overcomer Station and past the Satellite Bar. 

When I took a right to head into the park, I took a deep breath and faced two facts: one, I was going to be an IRONMAN, I knew I would finish; two: I was not going to finish in my targeted time. I started off half an hour off my target time the moment I touched down from the bike.  My pie in the sky goal of under 12 hours was out. My projected realistic goal of under 12:30 might work, but I would need to follow through on my plan to progress through these last 13 miles - getting a little faster each mile. My last ditch goal was more likely: to get to the finish in 13 hours and by 8:30pm so that Shelley Cavenaugh - one of my best friends from childhood - could give me my medal before her volunteer shift ended. 

I did some quick math and pace calculating and a head-to-toe body check. My head was okay, my gut was fine, but my legs hurt - my right Achilles throbbed. I remembered what a wise sage said only a week before the race: ironman is not a math equation (thank you, Sami Winter). I decided not to care about my goals or my watch or my pace or my expectations. Ironman is a heart equation. 

I turned my watch around on my wrist and covered it with my sleeve. I decided to run between the aid stations, walk through the aid stations to consume calories and walk/hobble/crawl up or down any ascents/descents because they hurt. 

About two miles later, I crossed paths with David Connor again. I was walking up a hill and he was truckin' and headed for a sub-12 hour personal best.  What's this walking all about!? he asked. It was the nudge I needed to get me going again. 

I think I had trudged along for another quarter mile when Erica caught me at mile 18ish.  She greeted me with an: I'm feeling much better! and trotted ahead of me. She hadn't gotten 25 yards when she pulled back and waited for me to catch up. Look, she said, I'm not setting any records here. Let's finish this together.  

On the back side of the park, she caught me up on her day. She had had stomach issues for most of the bike and part of the run. At special needs, though, she downed a Red Bull and started burping. The gassyness escaped her and she came back to life.

We spent the next few dark park miles chatting-slash-grunting and playing WHAT DOESN'T HURT which was a very quick game. I think we played a version of HIGH/LOW - where we shared favorite and not favorite parts of our race. We walked through the aid stations to take in calories. We alternated between defizzed coke and chicken broth (it didn't occur to me that my vegetarian friend was thoroughly enjoying the soup - I was glad to give her a hard time later). At about mile 22, Dad and Joyce came into view and I nearly cried. I had already passed them three times and fully expected them to be headed to the finish. It was a JOY to see them.  

At that point, I made an off-hand comment to Erica about beating Hines Ward at ironman. The football MVP and Dancing with the Stars champ had just completed Kona in 13h:08m:15s. 


Erica looked at her watch and did some math and calculated that we could run just over 10min miles and make it back in time. I doubted her calculation but I was game to give it a try. We TOUCHed HERE FOR POWER and ran.

Jen showed up out of the dark on her bike around mile 23.5 She shouted encouragement to us and maybe even sang to us to make us smile and/or grunt and reminded us that we weren't quite running. She yelled: you're looking good. Great job, Girls!  Your jogging looks great! It makes me laugh out loud now because it is a compliment that doesn't sound like one. She will never live it down. We felt like we had picked it up and that we were RUNNING. The IRONMAN shuffle is a more accurate description.

We jogged to mile 24 and hobbled down Greenfield Street. The band was playing These Boots Were Made for Walking and I sang along - and that's just what I'll do - wishing all along that it were true. I had a moment where I swore that Nicole Ferguson was onstage singing - but it may have been iron brain. We trudged down Front Street and under the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge overpass muttering: we can do this to each other. 

At mile 25.5, Erica said: this is it. We need to hurry. We walked/hobbled down the steep descent at Ann Street and turned right onto Water Street. We could hear Tim shouting  something and could see the bright lights. There were people scattered on the sidewalks yelling. Some were drunk diners leaving restaurants, some were spectators waiting for their runners. 

We hit the cobblestones about two blocks away and heard Tim exclaim: if you can hear the sound of my voice.....you have 20 seconds to make 13 hours! Erica yelled LET'S GO! over the din of the crowd and I whined/assured her:  I'm Coming! 

Step for step, we watched our feet to avoid a stumble on the cobbles, we ran through the intersection at Market St., then we were in the finishing chute between the barricades, then we passed Tim, then we were surrounded by bright lights and I was reaching out for Erica so we could cross the finish just as we had started - hands overhead in victory! 


Our official time: 13 hours and TWO seconds (despite what that clock says). The moments after that were some of the best in my life. I wanted to cry and shout and sing and dance. But I was too tired for any of it. 

Shelley was there to hang my medal around my neck. Neal was there with the biggest hug of all time. Anna, Dad, Joyce, Michelle, Jess and Anne were all there. Jen showed up moments later (after saving a runner's life). 




B2B 2013 - The Run

I reached T2 and crossed the Bike Finish mat in six hours and 34 minutes. I ditched Lucinda and ran through the interior of the Convention Center. I grabbed my bag off the rack and headed to the bathroom. I changed from toe to top (again): socks, shoes and shorts. I grabbed my race belt and threw all my bike gear in the bag. I almost closed it - but then I decided I might want my gloves. As I ran out of T2, I handed my transition bag to a volunteer, attached my race belt and hit the road.  

Anna and Ace Captured me On the Way Out of T2

I would like to take a moment to say that Ironman is NOT pretty. As cute as my outfit was and as coordinated as my shoes, headband and arm warmers were - none of it matched my swim beard, wetsuit hickey, snotty nose or bike chafe. In the photo above, you can see the wetsuit hickey on the right side of my neck. You might even make out the beard - caused by the sludge in Banks Channel that attached to every hair on my chinny chin chin. Fortunately, you can't see my underarm chafe - a side effect that I've never had before in this tri top but one that figured prominently as soon as I started running. 

Anna and Ace Found Me on the Riverwalk on the River Side of the Convention Center

One of the best decisions I made: changing out of bike shorts and into run shorts. I was comfortable and warm and thrilled to be off the bike. The run through downtown was fun. I passed the finish line and listened for Tim Bomba announce finishers for the half. 

Within the first mile I saw a dozen people I knew and it was a rush. People on the sidelines, friends finishing the half iron.  I was looking forward to the first aid station because I knew Jen would be there. I also knew that their theme: OVERCOMERS would be a huge lift. They featured life-sized posters of people who had overcome adversity through hard work and determination to become GREAT and achieve their dreams! At the end of the line of posters, there was a huge mirror and an arrow. YOU! ARE AN OVERCOMER! it proclaimed. It was awesome. 

 As soon as I turned the corner from Ann to Front Street, I could hear Jen yelling at me. Here comes my coach! She's going to be an ironman! Here comes my coach. Had I not been so happy to see her, I might have cried. Taryn and Gaia were there and Gaia came running over to hug me. Had I not been so happy, I might have cried. 

Had they not had Vasoline on a stick - I might have cried. I skipped the cola and chicken broth and slapped that Vasoline on my chafed underarms and was good to go. I picked up the pace and headed to my next reception - the Satellite. I knew a crowd was waiting and couldn't wait to see who it was. As I trotted up the hill I was greeted by Neal, Anna, Wendy, Ben, Leanne and a host of others drinking beer and cheering on runners. Further on up the road, I was greeted by Michelle, Jess, Hannah, Beth, Gary and Nicole. 

I headed into the park and felt uplifted by everyone I saw: Jane, Lauren, Kris, Lawrence - who was KILLING his first ironman - Shawn Spencer and Sam. I met - for the first time - my Facebook friend, David Connor.  He lives in Virginia, but he and I have intermittently messaged and posted and talked about this B2B for two years. We are both spin instructors and tri coaches and we've exchanged strategies on nutrition and reports on the tides and temperament of Banks Channel. He was a huge encourager throughout my training and I'd been looking for him throughout the day. At mile five-ish, on a bridge in the shade, we crossed paths, we high-fived and were on our way. 

I felt great and was holding a fairly steady pace. Mostly, I was enjoying the day. I began to craft my thank yous even then - it was like I was designing my own Oscar speech for everyone who had helped me get to where I was right now.

My favorite moment in that first lap came at about mile six. I came around a curve and with the ampitheater in sight, I saw Susan, Emery and Maris Best. Susan had said they would try to be out there, but I was almost an hour later than I expected and she had littles in tow. I hugged and kissed them all and walked a little bit.  Emery decided she wanted to run, so we took off. We must have run hand in hand for nearly half a mile to the turn-around. 

We talked about running and we talked about cheerleading (her big sister, Sloan is a Jr. Varsity cheerleader for Hoggard) and I asked her to do her favorite cheer: ONE! We are the Vikings! TWO! A little bit louder! THREE! I still can't hear you! FOUR AND MORE AND MORE AND MORE! We hit the turn around and headed back toward Sue and Maris and I kissed them all goodbye and headed on my way. I loved sharing that moment with them.

Levitation! Elevation!

As I hit the ampitheater again, I caught up with Renee and Johnny. They were cruising the park on their bikes and we chatted as I ran. They checked in on me and assured me: you look great! I joked about being a human metronome and I assured them: I felt great. I think Renee asked me if I'd do it again and my answer: ask me tomorrow.  


B2B 2013 - The Bike Part II

My first energy dip hit me at mile 60. I was expecting a left turn that would offer some wind relief....and it didn't happen. The breeze wasn't bad, but it wasn't calm either. It blew that day between 5 - 15 mph. It blew from the north (which meant I was against it for 25+ miles) until about 1:00pm and then switched to a westward wind in mid-afternoon (which meant I had a nice cross wind for the ride back to town). 

Even though I'd done this ride dozens of times, I simply miscalculated the left turn. We took a hard left instead of a left turn and the breeze still felt like a headwind.


Plus, I felt a little nudge on the left side of my back about midway down - my lowest lats. I was feeling hungry and worried about my pace . I took off one glove and couldn't get it back on and I couldn't get to my peanut butter in my back pocket. Frustration. Irritation. Could this be the dreaded dip that everyone warned against?It's too soon to be feeling like this!  Agh! I was fretting again. 

Once I turned left on Highway 210, my attitude improved. Instead of peanut butter, I ate a Salted Caramel Gu (best invention ever). I passed a sign with Erica as a pirate and me as a mermaid and exclaimed: THAT's ME! to no one. I passed Sir Cluckenberry and a lot of South of the Border-themed signs for the next aid station. 

Sir Cluckenberry on Hwy 210. From a Photo Earlier this Summer.

Miles 60 to 80 - a little over an hour - were the most boring. I sang songs out loud and played Alphabet Rock Band game (bands or artists from a-to-z) - not out loud. I played the Alphabet Motivational Word Game (motivational words from a-to-z)and count to 100 in french game. I read the quotes on my aero bottle: 

the quality of being determined to do or achieve something; firmness of purpose.  
to successfully deal with and gain control of a difficult situation :: defeat :: triumph :: win :: prevail :: surmount

I played leap frog with a girl who had an AWESOME helmet with sparkly red white and blue dots on the back.  
I caught up with Erica on Highway 53 which was the WORST part of the bike course. It is a miles and miles of duh-dunt, duh-dunt, duh-dunt - caused by a joint sealant repair job. 

I sang Phil Collins to her as I passed: Taaaaaake, Take me Home! I sang.  A private joke because she loves Phil and I do not! She was not very jovial, though. What's going on? I asked. Her technology had failed and her stomach was cramping. Her back was fine but she was struggling. She had to keep slowing up to sit up and find a comfortable posture. We played leap frog for several miles with Captain America (the girl with the red, white and blue sparkly helmet). She asked me at one point - have you been singing the whole ride? Yes, I thought.  haven't you?
I was surprised to see Dad and Joyce at mile 82ish and I was surprised NOT to see Anna there! She was with them, but I completely missed her because I was hamming it up for the camera and enjoying the onlookers with their excellent cowbells.

After that turn, I headed into the wind. I had one concern from here back to town - to get enough calories and liquid in before mile 108. I had one bottle of nutrition left and I poured it into my aero bottle. I tossed both of my back bottles at the next aid station and picked up a plain water. On Blueberry Road, headed east again, I hit another patch of sealant repair and felt a water bottle launch from behind. I got a little worried. I was actually fine - but that bottle was insurance. I immediately felt parched. I had water in my aero bottle - 30 ounces of water to be exact - but it was loaded with orange Amino Vital. What if I needed plain!? I thought my thoughts (ie. became intentional about my thinking) and talked myself off the ledge of worry. 

Turns out, there was one more aid station. I could see it coming for a mile on Hwy 421. I emptied half of my aero bottle and secured it in less than one minute. I grabbed one bottle from a volunteer and stuck it in my back holster. I tightened the fastener and reached for another bottle from the next volunteer. I emptied that second one into the aero container and tossed it - landed within an inch of the trash can. Boo-yah!

I knew I had it from there! I drank icey cold plain-ish water for the rest of the trip. My calories came from a diluted mix of Amino Vital and my last Salted Caramel Gu. Did I mention it's the best one ever? It also has caffeine, so I saved it for last to get my mind right for the Isabel Holmes Bridge.


I think my biggest fear all day was the bridge - and it turned out to be not so bad after all. In 2012, the race organizers had used a system of rubber floor mats across the drawbridge grating. It was more frightening than the grating itself: it was only a foot wide and moved. There were volunteers standing on the road kicking the mats back into place. The mats were coned off and riders were left with two bike widths of a lane to navigate.  In 2013, they changed all that and gave us a full lane and no mats. It was a little nerve-wracking, but I didn't fish tail and it was all over in less than a minute.  

View from the Isabel Holmes Bridge.

I made the exit off the ramp and could already hear the crowds at the convention cnter. I pulled my feet out of my shoes and rode with them on top of my shoes and headed to transition. My longest ride ever was nearly finished - in 6:34:00!