Sunday, December 13, 2015

Meeting with Coach...

Oceanside 70.3 training with Coach Doug started about (10) weeks ago... well, training with Coach started (10) weeks ago... Oceanside training started just a few weeks ago.  I have to admit, Coach's training plan so far is TOTALLY DIFFERENT than anything I've done.  I've never trained to heart rate/zones/time vs. miles... but I have to admit I'm already seeing a difference.   

Today, we had a chance to meet up with Doug, Steph and Sir Triton since they were in town for work.  We met them in Riverside for a hike and had a great time... and a great chat.  If you follow me, you know that Jeff supports me unconditionally and 110%!  So when he agreed to hire a coach for me, without knowing anything about him, he again, did it 110%.  Today was a chance for Jeff to chat with Doug, get to know about him and his plan, and have many of his questions answered.  I take for granted that I chat with Coach all the time, but I am so glad that Jeff had today's experience. :-) 

 After our hike, we met up with Tri It Together for their annual Christmas Party.  I can't say enough about how important this group is to me and my training.  Friendship... Information... Commitment... Support... this group doesn't care if you've never done a tri, or if you are doing your 10th Ironman, all levels train together... become friends... and support eachother... :-)
Training is going well, but life has challenges at the moment.  Working hard not to derail, because I know that God has a plan. :-)  At the moment, I'm taking life... one... day... at... a... time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

.. and it starts... Oceanside 70.3... 2016

... and so it starts...

... if you follow my journey, you know I've been doing tris for 5 years...

... I've lost 50 pounds...

... I've been exhausted... exhilarated... scared... sore... proud... so many emotions...

... last year I trained for my first half Ironman...Oceanside 70.3...  1.2 mile swim, 56 mile (hilly) bike, 13.1 mile run.

... I trained (6) days a week for (4) months.

... I was ready... and the day of the race...

... I had cramping issues within the first 20 minutes of the race, and continued through (7) hours of racing until I had issues and had to leave the course... (6) miles from the finish line.

I've done a lot of thinking and chatting with Jeff this past year.  For the 1st time in (5) years, I took several months off this summer to get ready for 2016... no workouts... no training... sleeping in and enjoying the family...

... and then it was time to get back to it.

... and we hired an Ironman specific coach... Hi, Doug!!/TriSilk/about?section=bio&pnref=about

For the past (6) weeks, I've been working with my coach to get back to it, set my baselines, Garmin set, heart rate set, and workout schedule established.  I had no idea there was so much technology that I/we could use for training, but with an out of state coach, I'm excited to see where this will lead!  No cheating... my coach reads "Garmin!" :-)

... and today, my journey for Oceanside 70.3 starts.

... and I can hardly wait!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mission Bay Triathlon and KOZ Events Athletes of the Year Competition...

I can be a little competitive...

I've been racing in the KOZ Events Series for the past (4) years and know (and are friends with) those athletes that regularly compete in my category.  I know what their strengths and weaknesses are (and they know the same about me), and how they've done in recent races, mostly because we all catch up while setting up transition, line up on the same start line, and commiserate with each other at the finish line.

I was very nervous coming into the Mission Bay Triathlon... not only because I took time off, but because coming into this race I was tied with Cathy Gugala for 1st place in the Athena 40+ category for 2015.  All of the racing we had done all season came down to this race...

500 meter swim.  I'm a strong swimmer and am usually out of the water with a lead over Cathy.  You can see my excitement when I realized I had just done my fastest 500 swim EVER!  6:55 as I hit the beach!  Good start!  I got straight into transition and had a quick turn around... and was surprised to see Cathy coming into transition as I was running out with my bike!  HOLY COW!  She totally ROCKED her swim... YEAH for her... oh, crud, she's right behind me!!!
I was concerned about the bike.  It was threatening to rain and there were (4) 180 degree turns on the bike course.  Although this was a new bike course, I was familiar with most of it.  I took the hard turns very easy and then pushed as hard as I could.  Cathy is a strong cyclist and usually cuts my swim lead with her bike leg.  I knew she was much closer that I wanted, but when I saw her pass me about 1/2 mile from transition, I knew I was in trouble.  
When I saw her go by, she said, "Aren't you supposed to be on the run by now?"  I cheered her on, and thought "Crap!  Now I'm in trouble!"  In this photo, she is just out of frame in front of me... that is the look of, what do I do now?  Do I have anything left for the run?

We came into transition and I was about 10 seconds behind her... and she was hauling!  Before the race, I asked Jeff to watch out for Cathy... if she came into T2 before me, I needed to know how far she was in front of me.  Well, coming into T2, Cathy and I were so close, he missed her as he was watching me.  He ran to the yellow fence right by our transition area and yelled. "I haven't seen Cathy!  You are in front of her!"  I was rushing as fast as I could to get out of transition and I yelled over to my very sweet husband, as embarrased as I could be... "She's here... and standing right in front of me!" 

Somehow I made it out transition before Cathy... but only by a few seconds.  Our run times are pretty close, and I was already gasping for breath.  I just had to run... run... run!  About 1/2 mile into the 3.1 mile run, Jeff and Anna caught me to take some photos.  I couldn't breathe... "How far is she behind me?"  I didn't want to look back, but had to know where she was.  Jeff said she was a few hundred yards behind... REALLY!?  That was it!  Jeff and Anna were yelling, "DON'T STOP... KEEP RUNNING!"  I was yelling in my head, "DON'T STOP... DON'T STOP... DON'T STOP!"  Mile one... okay time... mile two... slowing down, but not stopping... mile three... slowest yet... I turned around and didn't see her.  This is such a pretty course... palm trees, ocean view, lots of volunteers doing cheers and stomps and cheering you on... it is funny the things you remember when you are in so much pain!

I came across the line and knew I had met my goal.  First place KOZ Events Triathlete - Athena 40+ for 2015!  But wait... there is a whole different story that was about to unfold...
Xanthe Belsky, fellow competitor, was standing in the beer garden as I crossed the finish line...
WHAT!? :-)
Xanthe and I have been racing for years, but she has never beat me.  As I was trying to catch my breath in the finishing chute, she told me what had just happened...
She said that she passed me about half way through the bike.  She gave me a sign and she thought I saw that it was her... once she explained, I know exactly the moment she passed me, but I didn't realize it was her (she's recently lost over 20 pounds, and I've never seen the back of her during a race before :-)  )  Once she passed me, she thought "Holy crud... Tracey's coming after me!"  She said she raced with everything she had because she thought I was chasing her down.  She had a great run and finished less than 2 minutes ahead of me.  When she crossed the finish line, she asked another friend, "Is Tracey here yet!!!?" Our friend said, "Her husband is standing at the finsh chute with camera ready, so I don't think she's here yet!"  I'm still wondering how Xanthe finished, caught her breath, had her timing chip removed, got her medal, made it to the beer garden, got a full glass, and was sitting at the finish line waiting for me... in about 90 seconds... :-)

I'm blessed to have met so many great triathlon friends.  Frank and Tammy Franco... I see them at the Spring Spring and Mission Bay every year.  Incredibly wonderful people and they give the best pre-race prayers!  Love to you, my friends!

Here we are at the podium... Xanthe, me, Cathy.  A great year of racing...with great athletes and friends.    Overall for the Atheletes of the Year competition, this is also our Top 3, I'm in 1st, Cathy is in 2nd and Xanthe is in 3rd.  While this race usually marks the end of tri season, this is now the start of my 2016 season.  I have a few fun things to share... in my next post... ;-)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Solana Beach Tri, Off Season, Bringing it back...

Fiesta Island - Practice Tri.  God created a very beautiful setting for us that morning!  Photo credit - Kaide Garrett
I'm BACK!  For the first time in (5) years, I took a real off season!  Why...?  I needed a mental break!  After (5) years of up at 4:45AM for workouts, out the door for the gym when it was still pitch black outside, training every weekend, not getting weekend days started with chores/projects/family until early afternoon after cleaning up from the long morning workouts,  I needed to sleep in, have weekend/family time back, and give my body a real rest.  Back in June, I started cutting my workouts (and totally cut out all weight training), down to only a few a week by July.  I took the ENTIRE month of August off... yes, TOTALLY OFF... not a single workout in (5) weeks!  I slowly started back a few weeks ago and I have a few observations to share...
 *  Weight Gain... I figured that as soon as I cut my workouts, I would start to gain weight.  My diet is by no means perfect, but I could get away with "living" when I was training 5-6 days a week.  I put on about (2) pounds through June and July and didn't put on any weight in August.  Strange, right?  But the weirdest part has been September... when I started working out again... BOOM... up (6) pounds... HUH?  I haven't changed the way I'm eating... but was back to (3) to (4) days of cardio a week... and putting on a bunch of weight?  I'm still trying to figure that out...
*  How I Felt... I was very surprised, although it makes sense, that I immediatly felt guilty about every single day that I passed on a workout.  Sure it was nice to sleep in... and on the weekends to get to hang out in my PJ's with the family, make breakfast, and start our day together was wonderful... but I felt like I was cheating.  After a few weeks, the guilt faded away, but I started noticing that my body didn't feel quite right.  At that point, I hadn't really put on any weight, but I my body started to feel heavy... weighted down...
At the start of August, I added the Solana Beach Triathlon to my race schedule.  Although I was gearing down, I am also a competitor, and I had some awesome race buddies challenging me in the KOZ Events Race Series.  I had to race to keep up with them and I was very curious to see how I would do....
Beach start at the Solana Beach Tri... this was the first time I had done this race
and my very first beach/wave swim in a race.  I had done a warm up and the waves
were stronger than I expected and I got tossed.  Here I am... center of the photo with
my hands on my hips... thinking to myself, "how in the hell am I going to do this?" 
I was scared.
The bike course was nice, and although my computer battery died, so I couldn't
track how fast I was going, I pushed as hard as I could.  Here I'm coming out
of transition and starting my run... the part that concerned me the most.
The run was TOUGH!  Not because the course was hard,
but because my stamina was low and I had to dig deep
to keep moving.  I was SO HAPPY when I finished.
Athena athletes!!!  All triatheletes have a story, but athena atheletes have more than
stories... we have journies.  Cathy, me, Rhonda and Kim... love being friends with
these incredible ladies!
I took 2nd place that day and was very surprised how well my body did... and how well I recovered!  I am usually sore/tight the day after a race, but I didn't hurt at all the next day.  Another benefit of time off...?

*   How I Feel Now... I am not too concerned about the weight gain because I'm sure I will get that off shortly now that I'm getting back to the gym.  I have to admit that as relaxed and mentally relieved I feel after this break, I really don't like how my body feels.  I feel "jiggly."  I feel a bit of pressure/heaviness in my chest when I'm working out, or even taking the dog on a walk.  I don't feel as "strong" as I usually do.  I've come to realize that I like to exercise and I like the way I feel when I exercise.  Shoot... who needs sleep?  This girl needs to work it out... miles at a time!!!!

MISSION BAY TRIATHLON - My last race of this season is tomorrow!  WOOO HOOO, or should I say, woooo hoooo!  I'm nervous!  It was one thing to do Solana Beach after cutting back my workouts... it is another thing to do Mission Bay after cutting out ALL of my workouts!  I plan to go out there and give that course everything I have, look forward to catching up with race buddies, and celebrating what we have all accomplished this race season!  :-)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Spring Sprint, Work, Promotion, Work, SDIT, Work Calming Down...?

There is nothing better than doing a race with friends!
Time sure flies when you're having fun busy!  I can't believe I've done (2) races, Anna has promoted to junior high school and had her "Gravity Falls" themed birthday, we've been to 'Campland on the Bay" (Mission Bay) for a short vacation and passed by the 4th of July!  And all of that was squeezed in around work!

I've been on "the podium" but this is my first
time ever on a real podium!!! :-)
Let's start with work, since that has been a constant issue of balance since I went back to work 3 1/2 years ago.  The short and sweet of it... all of the tough hours and long days are paying off.  Our office has grown to the point where there are now 2 1/2 people doing my job and 3 people doing Jeff's job! :-)  Two new full time members have joined our team in the past few weeks and I am already seeing the benefits of the new "A Team!"  Jeff's schedule should start easing in the next few weeks.  More to come on these exciting work front changes!

Spring Sprint - The first of the KOZ Events Triathlon series for 2015.  About a month after Oceanside, I was nervous going into this race because I took almost (2) weeks off after that race, leaving (2) weeks to get back into the groove for Spring Sprint.  Add to that, the week of the race the bike course changed... from an easy two loop ride around Fiesta Island to a last minute course that included (6) sharp 180 degree turns!  Honestly, I have to say that this is not one of my favorite races.  The swim is a mosh pit... not exactly sure why it is soooo turbulent, but I am a very strong swimmer and I always feel like I am coming out of a fight for my life when I get out of the water for this race.  The bike course was sketchy, but not as tragic as I anticipated.  I do enjoy the run at this race.  The best part was several of my Tri It Together members were there racing, too.  I felt very strong as I finished this race and took 3rd place. 

Us... Anna's Promotion...
Anna and her good friend Jordan... both heading off
to the same Jr. High... couldn't be happier!!!
5th grade promotion and birthday weekend... Jeff and I can hardly believe that Anna is off to Junior High School and is now 11 years old!  Warning... parental brag alert... our little bug received Scholar of the Year for Language Arts and a Presidential Award for being in the top 3% of 5th graders in the nation.  Then after that celebration, our little self defined "nerd" had a "Gravity Falls" themed birthday party where all of the guests were requested to dress as a character of the show.  And, since everyone went all out, we took the group to see the movie, "Tomorrowland."  While Jeff and I were buying snacks for the group, the (teen) employees told us we were "the best parents ever" and "we are totally going to do this for our kids someday!"  We'll take that! :-)   The kids (and Jeff and I) had a GREAT time!

SDIT... still feeling the repercusions of Oceanside, and "only" working out 4-5 days per week, I felt I was ready for this race.  Race course prep... done.  Bricks... done.  And acutally, since Anna is trying out for swim team and in the pool several times a week, I've been swimming more (while she is training) than I have in the past (6) months. 

There were several new Tri It Together members doing this race, although the only one I was able to meet up with was Kay Mueller... and she is AWESOME (that is a whole different story... two year cancer survivor, doing her first international tri, and sooooo full of life she is so much fun to be around!)

Athena category winners... love these gals!
For the 2nd year, our whole family camped at Campland in Mission Bay for race weekend.  Although it is nice to be near the race venue for packet pickup and race morning, I've decided that being on vacation... in a tent... the night before a race, is not the best for race performance.  (Even going to bed at 8PM, with ear plugs, the crappy campers that partied until 2AM, when I had to be up at 3AM, made for a race night with no sleep.)

Morning transition... the Athena group of racers is smaller than the rest of the categories, and most of us know each other.  I LOVE seeing everyone race morning, setting up transition, hugs, catching up... even though we are competing against each other, we are all friends in transition.  :-) 

Let's do this... me in the middle, white cap...
Holy cow, was I hurting... but it sure looked like I was having fun!
I started the race feeling strong... came out of the water a bit later than I planned, but that was OK.  Started the bike... felt strong... slipped my chain twice (huh... I never do that in a race!), but felt good... until I saw my bike split as I was running into transition.  I was about 10 minutes off my mark.  What...?  I did T2... I saw Jeff just out of transition and he asked me how I was feeling.  I told him that I was giving it my all, but my splits were way out of whack... that I was going to need to slow down during the run and that was OK with me.  I don't think I've done a race where I pushed so hard, but my times were so far off.  The issue with that run was that I did slow down... and slowed down... and slowed down.  I had to stop and walk (4) times in the first mile and I knew this six miles was going to suck! 

I gave the run everything I had... that day... and I finished 4th.  I lost the podium by about 40 seconds.  What made me smile was when I was privleged to jump up and take the podium photos for my friends... Jackie Bickford in first and Catherine Gugala in third... come on... if someone was going to beat me, I want it to be my friends!

You can train for years, but what you have on race day, is what you have on race day... and that is what is great about our sport.  Do your best, because you never know what your competition has ready.  The only thing you know is what YOU have ready!!! :-)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It is still all about Oceanside... a few more stories...

I'm glad the memories of pain fade so quickly... or maybe it is just the way I like to remember the course of events.  Either way, I've been thinking about a few additional funny memories from race day that I would like to share... if you haven't already, read the previous post, "Oceanside 70.3 - Here we go... RACE REPORT!!!" for the context of these stories.

#5... My chat during the swim...  This is a story, two years in the making!  In 2013, I met an athlete during the Desert International who had crashed (bad) at the start of the bike (first time with aerobars)... here is that race story (must read to understand the rest of this story)...  I didn't see Chris at the 2014 race, but I ran into him at the 2015 race just a few weeks ago.  I was soooo excited to see Chris, since his goal, two years ago, was to get healthy and finish a 70.3 when he turned 60.  "I'm signed up to do Oceanside" he said, "but I'm injured and am going to have to pull out." Flash forward to the swim at Oceanside... I was swimming along and noticed someone swimming on their back... IT WAS CHRIS!  I stopped and excitedly started chatting with him (yes, during the race)... to check and see how he was feeling and to cheer him on.  I saw Chris again when he caught up with me toward the end of the bike... and later, when he FINISHED HIS FIRST 70.3!!!  I can't tell you how INSPIRED I've been by his journey... to meet him at the start of his journey and to be there when he accomplished his goal!  Can't wait to see what is next... :-)

#4... Military support...  I've told you the crowds were awesome, our Tri It Together team was awesome, but there was another group that was on the course that was totally AWESOME!  The bike course was mostly on Camp Pendleton property... and our service members were in force,  in uniform, and making sure the road conditions were safe for all of the riders.  I thanked them as I rode by and got choked up when, after I thanked one service member, because he saluted me.  THAT was a great memory!

#3... My bike has clothes...  oh, the things you think about when you are in the middle of a triathlon.
In T2, I racked my bike and started getting ready for the run.  A volunteer came over to me and gave me several "kind" words of support (yes, she was yelling...COME ON... HURRY UP... YOU'RE ALMOST DONE... YOU ONLY HAVE A HALF MARATHON TO RUN!) As I started thinking once again, "What the heck am I doing...?" she put a "finisher" seat cover on my bike.  I stood up a little straighter and took off on my run thinking, "I must be an serious racer now!  Even my bike has clothes!"  I giggled to myself about that for the first mile or so of the run!!!

#2... "Oh NO you di'int..." After I was carried to the top of the hill and my 2nd muscle slammed into a cramp, I asked one of the volunteers if they would get my husband, Jeff, who was at a tent just down the street.  You heard that part before.  What I didn't know until later was the kind volunteer found our tent and said an athlete had collapsed down the street and he needed "Jeff." My Mom was standing there and said, "I'm her Mom..."  He said, "I'm sorry, she asked for Jeff."  OHHHH!!!  You can't tell a Mom her daughter had collapsed on the course and that she had to stay put.  I know the volunteer was doing his job, and he was fantastic.  As I laughed out loud when I heard this story, all I kept thinking was, "Oh no you di'int!!!" 

#1... Candy from strangers...  While the volunteer was getting Jeff, a woman came up to me with a little baggie and (2) pills.  She saw what was going on, and noticed I was wearing shorts from "HERevolution," an awesome female only tri shop.  She quickly introduced herself, said she was also part of HERevolution (they have racing and ambassador teams, which I am not a part of, I just love their clothes!) and she handed me the pills and said, "Take these."  Again, the silly things you think about during a race. I've spent decades telling my kids "not to take candy from strangers" and here I am downing these pills, on the side of the road, from a stranger. :-)  Of course they were salt pills and she was very kind to help me!

Two weeks later, and I've barely taken off my Oceanside t-shirts, and am still thinking daily about that tremendous day.  Last weekend, I was chatting with my Uncle Scott about the race.  He asked, "The story of the race and your pain was amazing, but tell me, did you have any fun or find any pleasure in the race?" He made me think.  A race like this hurts. Everyone. The elite athletes hurt just as much as everyone else... they just finish up with their pain faster than the rest of us.  I had fun training with our tri group, sharing my adventures with friends, hitting my training goals, and I have found so much pleasure thinking back on that day, hearing stories from other athletes of their race day, and remembering all of the other funny/silly/quirky details of that day.  Yes, the race hurt, but doing a 70.3 is about so much more than that one day.  :-)

Is it March 2016 yet...? :-)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Oceanside 70.3 - Here we go... Race Report!!!

Just part of the 50+ Tri It Together family members we had in Oceanside - 23
racers and a ton of cheerleaders!  This was in the Athlete's Village Friday
afternoon... packet pickup, shopping, Course Talk... almost go time.
Saturday was the hardest (both physically and mentally), most exciting, painful, silly, "what the hell was I thinking," supportive and wonderful days ever.  I've been thinking about the story that I wanted to tell and one of my training partners helped me define it.  Wednesday was my first workout since the race and I started telling the story.  "I didn't finish the race,"   "What!? You've been doing triathlons for years and we've been watching you train... what happened?" Exactly what I've been asking myself for the past few days, but a perfect way to start the story...

Another view of Athlete's Village - what a BEAUTIFUL
place for a race!
Friday afternoon - Jeff and I headed down to the race to do packet pick-up, Athlete's Meeting, catch up with friends, check out Athlete's Village and drop my bike off at transition.  The week leading up to the race, I had a cold and decided to really taper.  I did what I thought I should do... started taking in electrolites, packing my bags, and I was a nervous wreck!  Am I ready?... nutrition?... training?... 8 1/2 hour time limit... where are Mom and Dad going to park?... racking my bike the day before?...8 1/2 hour time limit... the bike hills?... where are we going to park?... AUGH!  I continued to freak out... until I got to the transition area.  This was familiar... it was BIG... a big inflatable entry, lots of racks, "Ironman" on everything... but once in transition, I knew what to do.  I checked out the in's and out's... how to site my transition spot... looked at the swim course... and all of a sudden I was calm... and ready... 

Representing Tri It Together... and my new
Ironman Swag... shopping is part of the process! ;-)

Caught up with "Queen Amanda" at transition set up.  Signs were made for
each of us... shhhhhhh... we weren't supposed to see them yet...
 I LOVE this photo... walking down the center of transitions like,
"Yeah... this is my hood..." :-)
Saturday morning... up at 3AM... on the road by 4AM... in transition by 5AM.  Set up was good... normal... body marked... tires pumped up (I had never racked my bike the day before so this was a new step)... chatting with athletes (I LOVE this part... meeting new people... hearing their stories!), final bathroom stop, photos with Jeff, final nutrition, back to check my stuff one more time and grab swim gear, photo with Matt and prayer with Lala, and off to do a brief run and my own pre-race prayers.
Race morning and on our way to the swim start.  We
started a "Tri Club" at our YMCA several years ago.  Although
the program didn't make it, those of us that started tris at that time
have become wonderful friends!  Matt is one of those friends,
one of my biggest inspirations, and the one I call, "Superman!"
The wave starts were in a different format that I was used to, but I was glad to line up with several of my tri friends.  While in the chute, we took photos, watched the pros go by and celebrated what we were about to accomplish.  And then, there were the sea lions...

The swim start... about 100 meters from a boat ramp in Oceanside harbor.  The day before the race, the sea lions were  sunning and enjoying their normal spots... on the boat ramps.  Just before my group, the pink caps, were to start, this
group swam up and started playing right in front of us.  We all started laughing and cheering and the sea lions seemed
to play even more.  I am VERY glad that I didn't see this photo before I got into the water... where I could see just
how big their teeth are... I have now done races with dolphins (Mission Bay Tri) and jellyfish (Spring Sprint Tri)
and now the sea lions.  Just hope that sharks aren't next on my "wildlife swim partner" list!!!
I told you we had a bunch of Tri It Together family cheerleaders on course. There is something very special about doing this race for the first time, being in a wave start with several tri friends, and then having the swim out/in team being our team! That is Rick in the hat taking photos... Lee giving me a huge hug... I think we had about 10 friends on this line... you guys made me feel
like a superstar! BEST... WAY... EVER... to start a race!!!
 The swim was very crowded and choppy, with sun in your eyes on the turn, but I felt good and this is the best part of my race.  Funny thing... about 20 minutes into the swim, both of my calves cramped up.  Weird!  I NEVER cramp during a swim.  I spent a good third of the swim without kicking, legs straight out and feet flexed, but felt like I had a strong swim. Swim Split - 41:38 - 30/188 in my division; 258/675 of the women!  Oh YEAH!

After the race, I told Jeff that I could hear the sea lions barking during the whole
swim and I asked him how close they were to the swimmers.  He smiled and said,
"Those of us on the docks could see the sea lions... swimming right next to you...
swimming under you and coming up on the other side... they were having a great
time playing with you!"  Again... very happy I did not see the photo of their teeth
before I dove in!

Swimmers starting on the far right... swimmers coming in on the left... I love this photo!
I was just getting out of the water and didn't realize that my suit was already open
and ready to go!  I was too busy hugging friends and moving onto the bike.  Thanks,
Kaide, for the cheering and suit stripping! ;-)
So, swim went well - CHECK!  Transition... although I finished faster than I expected, I was very surprised that both of my calves were in a total cramp as I tried to run into transition.  Again... NEVER happened before.  While it was happening, I figured it was nerves, but kept it in the back of my mind.

Our cheerleaders were AWESOME... even made it to!

Next up... the bike.  56 miles.  Although I had practiced the first 20 or so miles of this course, the mental part kicked in about mile 10.  I was already calculating my speed and the needed time to get to the 5 hour 30 minute cut off to start the run.  Darn... those negative voices can be SO LOUD!  I did alright... decided that I could make the cut offs, but wanted to be smart.  I decided I would stop at each aid station, grab a quick drink and nutrition (bananas... those would help with the weird cramps) and breathe.  Now, there are parts of this course that an athlete can not see or practice until race day because it is on Camp Pendleton property.  I passed the second aid station and was doing well... until I came up on a crest and saw the first climb in front of me.  I said out loud, "What in the hell is THAT!?" A few riders around me said, "That is the 'Mother F-----..." like that is a hill I was going to smile at and say, "thank you, can I have another!?"  I would say 75% of the people around me walked their bike up that hill... I made it up at 2 miles per hour.  Yeah, my time sucked, but I cheered on every single person that biked up that hill!  Little did I know there would be (3) more significant climbs on that course.  (2) more I walked part of and (1) that I rode all the way up.

The last (10) or so miles of the bike is pretty flat, but there was a strong headwind.  It was tough, but the worst part was an incredibly painful cramp in my side.  I have had this cramp before... the (4) times it has happened in my life, I can tell you exactly when and where it happened because the pain is significant enough you don't forget it.  And during this one bike ride, it happened (4) times... each time I had to slam on my breaks and jump off the bike so I could stretch it out. I probably wasted about 40 minutes with these cramps... (foreshadowing... why didn't I see I was having a major cramp issue!?)

I don't know how, but I made it back to transition with 10 minutes to go before the bike cut off.  I spent over (4) hours thinking I couldn't make it, but I DID!  Ok... now onto the half marathon run... Bike Split - 4:31 - 109/118 in my division - 615/675 for the gals - OUCH!!!

I'm not sure what in the heck we were doing, but we were sure having fun!
I took my time in transition and by the time I started the run, it was about 5 1/2 hours into my race.  I took it easy to get my legs moving after the bike and the first mile wasn't too bad.  I saw the first of several Tri It Together Cheer Stations (Hi Lorenzo!)  Next was the pier and ramp (what an aweful thing to put into an Ironman... don't they know our legs were shot?)  Right at the top of the ramp was the home base Tri It Together tent with Rob and Kevin cheering us on, my parents, Jeff, Anna and Chris and a whole team of cheerleaders.  Boy, did I need those smiles and hugs right then!!! 
Only (3) hours to go!
 Down the street and the ramp down, and at the bottom was another of our cheer stations.  Lee ran up next to me and asked how I was doing.  I was hurting, but I had no idea how much worse it was about to get.  Another mile down and all of a sudden, my body stopped.  I walked a bit and tried to run, but my legs wouldn't hold me up.  Back to walking.  Another few test run steps and my legs went out.  I started thinking about exactly what was happening.  What the heck!?  I trained, I put in the miles, I thought I had taken in plenty of liquids and nutrition all day, I had my best race run EVER (sub 10 minute miles) just three weeks ago, how could my body stop now?  I spent the next mile walking, one excruciating step after another, all while my body was yelling, "Stop, stupid, you're race is over!"  I had about 10 miles to go and about 2 hours to get it done before the 8 1/2 hour cut off.  I lifted my head, stood up straight, and started power walking.  I knew I wasn't going to make the cut off at this pace, but darn it, I WAS NOT going to leave that course until an official pulled me off!
I walked like that for another hour.  The crowds were amazing, homeowners giving us showers with their hoses, other homeowners having little parties in their yards, blasting music and cheering on every athlete.  Most of the racers at this point were hurting, but most would at least flash a quick smile or "thumbs up" as we passed.  At about mile 6, there was another ramp to go up.  Half way up, my right inner thigh slammed me with a massive cramp.  I bent over, started to massage, but the darn thing would not relax!  I looked around and there was nothing to hold onto and my other leg was shaking and about to give out, which would have been tragic because I would have tumbled down to the bottom of the ramp.  One of the race volunteers ran to me and offered to help.  My brain shut down and I couldn't think of anything but getting that muscle to let go.  Another volunteer ran down to us and the two of them got on either side of me and picked me up.  NOW my brain started working and all I could think, besides the fact I was sure my leg was going to fall off it was squeezed so hard, was that I had raced for over 7 hours and I smelled BAD... and I'm a big girl... I went between thanking these poor guys and apologizing for the smell and weight... thanking them... apologizing... and then I started giggling.  Even with the craziness that was happening, I could see how funny this whole scene was! :-)  My helpers set me down at the top of the hill and as soon as they did, my right quad locked up.  Lord have mercy!  A few police officers came to see what they could do as well as race officials.  I asked one of my helpers if they could get my husband (I was only about a block away from Jeff at that point) and he ran off.
It had been about 10 minutes since the first cramp started and both the inner thigh and quad had yet to let go.  Jeff ran up about the same time that a race official told me that he strongly suggested that I go go to medical.  However, he told me that if he took me off the course, my race was done.  That was it... I couldn't stand, much less walk and I called it.  I was in medical for about an hour, and while I was there... the first two cramps STILL GOING... my left calf and shin cramped as well as my diaphram.  What the heck...!?  It took about an hour for fluids, salt and massage to get everything to finally let go, to stand up, and limp around the room.  Jeff wasn't allowed in the medical area, but sat in the doorway and watched over me the whole time.  As I limped out to him, he looked at me with a grin and said, "You're doing this again next year, aren't you!?" :-)

Last week, I moved my triathlon medals to the left and my running/marathon medals
to the right, leaving the center for this week's medal.  I have already put up a sign
that says, "RESERVED - Oceanside 70.3 - 2016"
For the past week, I've been thinking a lot and reflecting.  Am I bummed that I didn't finish - YES!  Do I need to do some research on salt/electrolites/race nutrition - YES!  Was I ready, both physically and mentally, for this race - YES!  After all is said and done, what one word would describe this experience - PRIDE!  One thing that I have learned from (5) years of triathlons is that every single race is different.  Training, nutrition, confidence, preparation... all important, but race morning you show up, and your day will be set up by how you feel - THAT DAY - if you are ready - THAT DAY - what kind of mechanicals or injuries or mental blocks that you have - THAT DAY.  I am THRILLED with what I accomplished with the cards I was dealt - ON SATURDAY, and will be back to get that medal in 2016... because I will have MY DAY!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Race Week - Down to 2 DAYS!

Jeff bought me this medal hanger for Christmas.
This week we moved the triathlon medals (left)
from the marathons/half mar. (right)
The spot in between is for Saturday's medal. ;-)
AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!  Two days to go and the Athlete's Village opened today down in Oceanside.  Friends have been posting photos this afternoon of their race numbers, swim caps, wristbands (all requested, of course, since I can't get down there until tomorrow.)  Emails and Facebook posts have been flying with last minute questions, advice from those that have been there before, and pretty much freak outs from we first time 70.3'ers.  I have to admit that all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding this race has been so much fun... the months of training, increasing miles and stamina, getting closer and planning logistics, the unbelievable support and fun from my tri club (Hi, Tri It Together Family!!!!)... I have totally been sucked into the fun, have tried to stay cool, calm and collected, but HOLY COW!  I'M DOING A HALF IRONMAN IN ABOUT 36 HOURS!  Time to pack my tri bag and get my bike (have Jeff get my bike) ready because I am going to rack the day before the race for the first time... getting the house ready because Mom and Dad are coming overnight... figure out parking/race morning timeframe... gathering details for the family to get to the site and to the tent to cheer everyone on... still wondering if I'm ready... scratch that, I know I'm ready... what about hydration (it will be hot)... carbo loading without meat on a Friday during Lent... race morning food - racing with the big boys - and when/where can I use the restroom during the race...? 

Hummm... does that sound a bit scatter brained...? 

(deep breath)...

Nope.  I'm ready!  Tomorrow... check in!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Race Week - 3 days and Flashback...

Jim (turned 70 years young last week and can out squat me anyday) and Chad,
our trainer - just finishing our workout and ready for a Race Day countdown photo
(3) days to go and nerves and excitement are really starting to take over.  I woke up this morning and felt like I was among the living again (thank God!)  I cancelled my workouts for the past (2) days as  I figured the extra few hours of sleep in the morning were more important to my system that an easy taper workout. I can feel the congestion in my chest, but I think I made a good choice taking the extra Z's.  This morning I hit my regular Wednesday training with Chad and Jim - Chad mixes it up every workout with weights, TRX, core, Bosu, super sets... pretty much... pain and sweat.  Exactly what we need! 

I've been thinking ahead toward Saturday, but I've also been spending a lot of time reflecting on my triathlon journey.  I think it is time to share a photo I've never posted.  A photo of my first triathlon.  It is obvious to see on the outside, what this sport has done for me.  But it has done so much for the inside, too.  The confidence, the pride, the determination, the pain (yes, there has been a lot of that!), the excitement, the bragging rights, the way Jeff smiles and cheers when watching me race and telling others the story of my races... :-)  I love this sport.  I'm so excited.  Tick, tock... tick, tock...

Almost exactly 5 years ago... what a difference
the years, and this sport, have made!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Race Week - 4 days to go...

Simple and sweet today... I've been working my tush off for months.  It is now "taper time" and I get
sick... what the heck!?  I had my flu shot... I've been healthy... funny thing is that several of my tri friends that are doing Oceanside... and also tappering... are also sick.  Curious to know if the taper has anything to do with a lower immune system, but it doesn't matter now.  Today is the first day I'm feeling better since Friday and there are still several days to go to get this stuff out of my chest. 


... I'm coming for you!

Monday, March 23, 2015

5 days to go... and you can "be" there, too!

(5) days to go until Race Day and today I had a little help from my friends.  Everyone at work knows all about this event... they have been putting up with me dragging my sore and tired tush into the office each day.  Lots of chatter about how long the bike and run were last weekend, challenges with the weather, new bike seat, and what was sore and making me groan today?  Our office team is awesome and, as you can see in the photo, it is really too bad that we don't get along... :-)

One great thing about the Ironman races is that their online coverage and athlete trackers are AMAZING!  Last year, I had several friends that were racing in Oceanside and I decided to turn on the online coverage to check and see how they were doing.  Little did I know how ADDICTIVE watching the race would be!  They have live coverage of the leaders... live coverage of different parts of the race (where you could actually watch me do/cross certain parts of the course)... and an athlete tracker where you can watch my progress in real time!  I would LOVE IT if you would follow along... here's how...

On Saturday, March 28th, there will be a link to the coverage on the Ironman site.
Tracey Locher – Age Group 45-49 – Bib Number #1550
Wave start – Wave #14 at 7:20AM – light pink caps

There are cut off times for this race that you must beat in order to continue onto the next part of the race.

My Goal Times -
My start time 7:20AM
Cut off times –
Times to beat to continue racing
Swim – 1.2 miles
Transition 1
Bike – 56 miles, 2,720 feet climbing
Transition 2
Run – 13.1 miles

So, 8 hours it is!  Prayers for health, no injuries and no mechanicals so that I, and all of the athletes, can do the race we have trained so hard to do. You better believe that this gal is going to give you a reason to cheer!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Welcome to RACE WEEK - 6 days to go...

I just ran out of Nunn (the electrolite I put in my water), so off to my
local bike shop, "Bike Bling" today for my final pre-race purchase.
I received a "Welcome to Race Week" email from Ironman yesterday.  That was it.  I thought the instant rush of nerves was going to blow me right out of my chair!  I often say that the sport of triathlon has (4) parts... swim, bike, run, mental.  Now the mental is not "you've got to be mental to want to do a race like this"... the mental is the emotional toughness you have to practice, and have ready to call on, for race day.  The confidence that you have properly trained and you can do it.  The inner coach that will tell your legs to keep going after they gave up 10 miles ago.  Repeating your favorite mantra louder and louder when the voice in your head tells you to give up so the pain will stop, your lungs will stop burning, and the spot you have rubbed raw under your arm will stop bleeding.  Mental toughness is a must to get out of bed at 4:45AM (6) days a week to train... to make your body do things that it has never done before... and again the next day... and again the next day... and again the next day.  The mental part of this sport is what the elite athletes give credit to for their success... the difference between those that get it done, and those that stop when they can't push through the pain.

Today is t-minus (6) days until my first half Ironman.  I'm doing my best to turn those feelings of fear and nerves to feelings of excitement and pride... and I'm not going to let this last week... taper week... RACE WEEK... be the hardest part of my training journey.  The work has been done.  It is time to pack my transition bag, do one last check of my bike (who am I kidding... have Jeff do one last check of my bike), and get ready for the party that is coming on Saturday!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Desert International - 4th try... :-)

Saturday... I had sand in places I didn't know I had due to the sand storms
and high winds, but that wasn't going to stop us from supporting
our Tri It Together athletes!
THIS race has been my achillies heel.  1st year and it was my first international distance tri.  When I arrived race morning, I was not ready to see the level of athlete, equipment, matching tri kits (this race is a tri club competition)... I was emotionally spent before I raced in the heat and did not properly hydrate... almost pulled out for medical help, but finished.  2nd year I met and helped an athlete who had crashed on the bike and decided the race wasn't going to beat him.  He kept going and needed some support to finish the race.  3rd year, I had a hamstring injury all off season and couldn't run so I did the Aquabike.  And then this year...
The Garrett sisters, Susan and me... during one of the calm moments
of the weekend.

For the 2nd year we decided to camp at the onsite campground... and for the 2nd year, we dealt with AMAZINGLY CRAZY weather.  70 mile per hour winds, rain, dust storms... thank goodness we had a trailer!  We didn't go outside unless we had to... or were racing/supporting racing.  Our Tri It Together Club tent blew away and broke, the windstorms during the Saturday sprint were so bad that you couldn't see 1 foot in front of you and the swim... oh the poor athletes doing the swim... the bouys blew away, couldn't find the course, finally they just announced to come in to the finish line. 

That was Saturday.  The wind blew so hard both nights that it kept us up, wondering if everything was OK outside.  Sunday morning - race day.  Woke up to a light breeze and figured the weather would be OK for the race... and it was... until transition set up... when it started to rain... and it was cold.  I think that is enough of a set up to let the photos tell the rest of the story...

I have never been cold when "warming up" in the water, but with the rain, it was COLD! 
No better way to get it started than to be out in front... I'm on the front line with
my right arm taking the stroke and one of the first out of the water!  Good start!
Not the best photo, but shows the craziness of transition... and with Susan!
While I was still feeling good on the bike... even in the rain...
I used to like to run... but it is now the part of the race I struggle with and
hate.  The bike is usually pretty good for me, but it was sooooo cold
that my back cramped up at mile 15 and I spent the next 9 miles telling
myself "the faster you get off this bike, the faster you get to start running..."
HUH!?  I don't think I have ever been so happy to start running... :-)
OH... MY... GOSH!  my bike was aweful with the pain in my back and I finished the bike 15 minutes slower than
expected.  Then I started running... felt slow... kept pushing... and then I started noticing my splits.  I was running faster
than my training time... at 3 miles, I was averaging about 10 minues/mile (I'm training at 11 minutes per mile).  I felt
good and the 4th mile was at an 8 minute mile... WHAT!!!?  Then I noticed that if I kept it up, for the first time, I
would finish this race under 3 hours.  About 3 minutes from the finish, Jeff ran up next to me.  I told him I was about
to go sub-3 and the other athletes around me started cheering.  These are the photos as I crossed the line... in the rain...

Our cold, wet, but happy-we-were-done Tri It Together athletes.  It was a
tough race, but it proved to me the Ironman training is working.  Time to trust the training...
One week to go...