Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pigman, The Sequel

So where was I.....ah yes, the bike.

I headed out of transition feeling pretty good.  I had just conquered the scariest part, in my opinion, of the race.  The swim was over and I was on my bike.

Now truth be told, I enjoy the bike, I even enjoy training on my bike, but had fallen a wee bit short of training expectations this summer.  I was confident I could finish this bike leg feeling good, but lets face it, it wasn't going to mind blowingly fast.  Instead I knew my ideal power zones, my goal MPH, my nutrition plan, and ballpark how long it would take me and I was set.

So again, I'm on my bike.  I'm chugging along, holdin my own.  As the morning and ride go on it's starting to heat up.  This is Iowa here folks, they don't grow trees, they grow corn.  And corn provides very little shade.  I had slathered on the the sunscreen in the morning for that reason.  The other assurance I was made about Iowa is that there is no such thing as hills there.  Well that wasn't entirely true, but the hills weren't quite like we grow them at home.

Due to road construction or cow crossings or something that had rerouted the course this year, and according to many athletes made it a much more challenging ride.  Hmm.  Just what I needed, another challenge.  But so far all I had encountered was some rolling hills, nothing suicidal.

Every 21 or so miles there was a water station, which was lovely.  My goal by every water station was to have put a bottle of fluid away to stay hydrated in the heat.  Between that and my assorted gels, blocks and caplets I was feeling well fed and watered.

On a side note, I have yet to find a saddle in my years of riding that is comfortable.  Be it the saddle or the position, I don't know, but its not do good come mile 40 something.  And the newest saddle I'd been riding for a weeks was no  different.

Around the time I was starting to get a wee sore on the saddle and ready to be off and running I saw that Noah and Bryn had ventured out to the course to cheer me on.  I love all the friendly volunteers and the support they give, but there is nothing better than a familiar face.  

There were a few hills and windy roads that sort of made me want to cry near the end of the ride, but before I knew it I was turning back into the park that the race was out of.  I told myself I could kick it up a notch and still make my time goal.   Here was cruising as best as I could down into the park.  I see the mile 1 water aid station, which means I have a mile left on the bike.  

Around this same time there was friendly automobile coming into the park that couldn't bother to wait for the bikes.  Zoom zoom, around me it went.  But oh wait, there was another bike just a wee bit up the road....and an ambulance coming out of the park.  And the cars brakes go on.  Seeing as the car had just cut me off, my options were to ride straight into the rear of the car or slam on my brakes as well.  So slam on the brakes I did.  And over the handle bars I went.

I remember this wicked flipping Superman-esque flying motion, and then the pavement.  As soon as I hit the ground, my cat like reflexes kicked in and I was up grabbing the bike and getting out of the way.  Said car that caused this acrobatic routine of mine kept right on driving, but the ambulance was nice enough to stop and check on me.  It must have been quite the maneuver because many of the nearby volunteers and spectators where on foot and headed my way to see if I was ok.

I had no idea how or what I just did.  My hip hurt, my shoulder hurt, my elbow hurt, and my ribs hurt.  I wasn't sure if I had just had the wind knocked out of me or what, but breathing was very very difficult.  Did I hit my head?  I have no idea.  I sat on the side of the road for 10 or so minutes trying to breath and regain my composure.  After this little break, tears still rolling down my face, I decide at the very least I'm going to finish the bike.  I coast most of the last mile, dismount the bike and walk through transition to rack my bike. 

I see Ryan waiting by the fence, completely clueless as to my wipe out, waiting to see how I feel and cheer me on.  I rack my bike and stand there for a bit trying to determine what to do.  I struggle out of my bike shoes, at this point pissed as hell that all this had just taken place.  I'm trying to calm down, assess the damages, and decide if I can keep going.  Fueled by frustration and adrenaline I have this great idea that I can do the run.  

I decided that if I started moving the pain and stiffness would pass and I could muscle through it.  Around mile 1 I started to second guess this decision.  Noah met me at about this point to see how I was doing and to cheer me on.  This is where the realization started to set in that this was not going to be my day.  But I was going to go as far as I could.

Mile 2....still in pain, still struggling, still can't breath.  It's hot out at this point, and again I remind you that this is Iowa and there is no such thing as shade.  

I called it at mile 3.  As I waited for the car to pick me up I contemplated starting to run again.  I thought I would reassess the situation at mile 4.  But I thought about the pace I had been making the past 3 miles, the heat and the pain and decided I was doing the right thing.

I was delivered to the race doctor who decided I wasn't going to die but that I was going to hurt for some time.  Duh.  One of the friendly and attractive med students was kind enough to pick all of the gravel out of my various abrasions and ice me down.  As long as I didn't breath or move I was doing ok.

The trip home was uncomfortable to say the least.  Perhaps even stiff and painful.  Once home there was a trip to the hospital and pain meds to be had.  Busted up ribs, mangled hip and multiple bruises were my battle wounds.

Given a day or so for the wounds to percolate they weren't feeling any better, but boy were they looking pretty delicious.

It was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make in a long time.  To have trained so hard all summer and have it end this way?  This was certainly not my fairy tale ending.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pigman Race Report

The short version would be that that things did not go as planned.

But let's start at the very beginning....

The week leading up to the race was a little crazy, long work days, friends in town, etc. Needless to say it was not the relaxing low key week I had hoped for leading up to the big race. My normal routine was so far out of wack there was no way to reel it in. For example, I usually pack my race bag about a week ahead of time. This way I have plenty of time to make additions or subtractions to the gear, I don't feel rushed, and I don't forget things. It's part of my triathlon fung shui. Leave it alone.

Saturday arrives...we're suppose to be heading out by 1pm. At like 12:40 I'm scrambling to get in the shower and nothing, not a single item, has been packed. Bryn and Noah arrive at 1:15'ish packed and ready to hit the road, not to mention Ryan's been there all morning trying to keep my focused on track. When all is said and done I'm packed and we're on the road by 2'ish. A quick stop at Culver's for lunch, some ice cream spilled on my lap (what can I say, I'm a classy lady) and we're on our way.

~This portion of the race is brought to you by the Douglas'~

Here we are cruising along the scenic HWY 151 through be-oooo-tiful Iowa country side, Bryn and I are enjoying our Disney sing along at the top of our tone-deaf voices, we're making decent time....when all of the sudden the car is slowing down. In fact one might say it's rolling to a stop. Our driver, Noah, apparently overlooked the fact that we had been running on empty for some time, and that we had in fact just run out of gas.

Strike One Noah. Lucky for Noah, we happened to have coasted to a stop right in front of the Douglas' farmhouse. We all voted that he who ran us out of gas must make the walk of shame and grovel for gas. Plus, Noah is still milking his geriatric limp, and was therefor most likely to have pity take on him. Luck for us the Douglas' were quite friendly and had a well stocked barn. They gave us a couple gallons of gas and told us what exit to take to fill up as to avoid this problem in the future. And we were back on our way.

Packet pick up was going smoothly....that was until I saw the sign on the wall stating the water temperature. 79degrees. Just one friggin degree above 78, which means no wetsuits. It's safe to say that sent me into a blind panic. No wetsuit?! Sure, I've swam multiple miles in a pool sans wetsuit, but 1.2miles in the open water? No dice. I'll drown.

We found the race site and campground we were staying at no problem. We set up our tents, I sorted, packed and repacked my gear bag, and made some final tweaks to my bike. After I was satisfied that I had everything I needed for the race the next day we decided to head out to scout the swim. While I was hoping that seeing the swim course would make me feel better about the no wetsuit possibility, it didn't. It's safe to say it made me feel worse. 1.2 miles in a lake looks huge. Gigantic. Un-swim-able.

Trying to keep my mind off of the task at hand we went to scout out some food. After aimlessly driving in various directions in the fine city of Cedar Rapids we ended up settling for an Outback. At this point I was hungry and not too picky, so Outback it was. There was food, I was fed, and we headed back to the campsite. On our jaunt back to the site Noah was channeling his inner race car driver and decided to test the CRV's limits....right up until we passed the DNR-mobile. Next thing we knew there were flashing lights and a man with a gun at the side of the car. Apparently 45 in a 25 on state park grounds is enough to get you stopped. Strike Two Noah. Speed aside, there were other incriminating circumstances that made this routine traffic violation more than a little unnerving. I, however, safely tucked away in the back seat, found this whole situation quite funny. Especially when Mr DNR had the insight to ask if one of us was doing the race (yes, my fancy schmancy TRI bike was still on the vehicle). Mr DNR was kind enough to take pity on us and let Noah off with nothing more than a verbal warning.

Back at the site and headed to bed. It was perfect sleeping weather, and other than what sounded like a dying cow in the adjacent field, it was peaceful night's sleep. Right up until the alarm went off at 5 am. Ick.

I got up and got motivated for the day. Tri gear on, contacts in, teeth brushed. I realized about now that I forgot pants to wear in the cool AM weather, so I put my pajama bottoms (complete with flamingos and firetrucks) back on. I managed to eat a mini bagel with peanut butter and banana for breakfast. We quickly discovered that the water in our campground didn't appear to be potable, so water with my morning meal was a no go (I crossed my fingers and hoped to find water near transition). I sun-screened up and headed down to transition to get set up.

My first quest was to find out about the water temperature. Fingers crossed.....did it drop that one degree? Would wetsuits be allowed? AM Water Temp.........drum roll please......77 degrees!! HALLELUJAH! It looks like I would survive the swim. Game on!

Being as I was the only person I knew doing the Pigman this year, Bryn oversleeping (and Noah was back at the site motivating her) and Ryan puppy sitting (and seeing as we had already used our get out of jail free card with the DNR to avoid a Noah's speeding ticket) I made my way by myself down to the swim. There's always that 10 or so minute wait just before my wave when the nerves set in, and this was no exception. I was struck with cotton mouth, having to pee (not so easy to do when you wearing a wetsuit), and just generally being antsy and wondering why I though this was a good idea. But before I knew it I was in line to start and all those thoughts and issues and passed. They decided in stead of a mass way start, each athlete in a given wave would be started at 3sec intervals, which was AWESOME! Talk about the best swim start ever.

And I was off, swimming away, directly into the sun. Yeah, my clear goggles were not meant for swimming into the sun. While I felt great and was swimming like a fish, I must of looked like i was drunk! I could not swim straight to save my life. After what seemed like an eternity of zig-zaggy swimming I reached the first corner buoy and made the turn. I was a 1/3 of the way done already! And now that I could see my swimming vastly improved. Let's be honest here, no records were going to be broken, no races won, but my swim was going a -ok. I rounded the last buoy and kept chugging along down the home stretch. I came out of the water feeling better than expected. I made the bit of a jaunt from water to transition and I was ready to ride.

Out of the wetsuit and into the bike gear. I had my great support crew there cheering me on and motivating. I checked and double checked that I had everything and I was off.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

To race or not to race......

That IS the question.

With all of hours or training under my belt this summer its hard to imagine not finishing, let alone not racing.

That was until last weekend when my stomach decided to try to consume itself. That's right, the burning fury and spite of my ulcer is back in full effect. While I've resumed my diet of milk, water and all foods bland, nothing seems to be doing the trick. Even with my no frills diet and mass quantities of stomach tranquilizers I can barely stand up straight. I even went so far as to make my way to the doctor in search of the miracle elixer. Nada. but the doctor did recommend taking up I have time for that.

Come rain or shine I will be there on Sunday ready to race. And will take a pack of rabid llamas to keep me from racing, but as for the outcome, only time will tell...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Biking Debacle, Part II

***Staring Señor Queso***
(names have been changed to protect the not so innocent)

And so the biking continues...

So after Saturday's less than stellar ride we made plans for our next epic ride to take place Tuesday evening (by we I mean Señor Queso and myself).

Tuesday rolls around and after a less than great day at work I was ready to blow off some steam. I head to my apartment to meet Señor Queso there and get ready to go. By the time all is said and done it's going on 6 before we head out to ride. With a 40+ mile ride ahead of us I knew we were going to be cutting it close on daylight, but here goes. We're headed out on the same hilly nightmare of a ride that Geoff tried to kill me on a few weeks ago.

We head out and make our way to the Arboretum. I'm feeling great at this point and riding strong. I even had the pleasure of leaving Señor Queso in my dust once or twice. God it was great to see him sweat and pant and struggle to keep up, because I knew my turn was coming. We make it to the end of the Arb and take a left up my least favorite hill, but somehow I pull through and the real riding begins.

From that hill its pretty flat and forgiving for a while. On our way out we pass Geoff, Greg and the riders of MadCity Velo on their way back from the very route we are headed out on. We make a few turns and are watching for our next turn, which will be a left. We come to a stop sign and stop. Señor Queso is on my right, the intersection clears and we start to go. I head straight as its not our turn.....Señor Queso makes a hard left cutting me off! As I kick and flail trying to get my shoes to unclip every profanity is streaming out of my mouth. A lady about 100yds up the road has stopped to watch the commotion. Just before I completely hit the ground my right shoe unclips and I half catch myself. This is not, however, before I managed to jack up my rear wheel and drivetrain in the flailing/falling process. I manage to hobble my way out of the intersection and stand on the side of the ride trying to regroup. My back, hip and knee are now killing me from the twisiting flailing falling motion that took place. My biggest fear however is that I broke the bike, but after a close inspection it looks like there is no major damage done.

We get back on the bike and start to ride. Every pedal stroke hurts. Its somewhere between a cramping and a searing pain and I am finding it hard to breath. But we're not even half way done with the planned ride. I keep riding hoping that the pain subsides, but it doesn't. At this point I'm not sure how I'll make it another 5miles let alone the rest of the ride AND home.

Again, I fall back on the game of mind over matter. It's all about hitting that wall and breaking through it. Right? Well I played that game to the very best of my ability and rode on. Of course now every time Señor Queso rode near me I flinched expected to be bucked from my bike. This led to a very twitchy and uncomfortable ride.

Lesson learned?? While Señor Queso is my most trusted mechanic and very dear to my heart, he is not my choosen riding partner. Too dangerous!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Biking Debacle, Part I

***Staring Señor Queso***
(names have been changed to protect the not so innocent)

So lets talk about biking these days....

I was working at the farmer's market the other day, minding my own business when out of know where appears my favorite blond coworker, Leia, toting my new ride!! It was one of the most exciting days I've had in a looooong time. I was hooked up with a sweet Cervelo P3C to demo and race on by the wonderful people at Inside Out Sports (thanks again Lawrence), and she was my sherpa. All I could think about now was getting out on the bike and playing.....

So I was all set to head out of town after the farmer's market to visit some friends and do some riding. The car is loaded, my gear is packed and away I go! I get to Milwaukee and roll into the local shop to meet up with my riding posse, and good friend Señor Queso, only to find out that they're not ready to ride that night. Grrr!! This is where my frustration begins, but what's a girl to do.

Rather than ride that night I instead had dinner at one of my fav Milwaukee restaurants, Cafe Hollander, with Señor Queso and Ryan, followed by drinks at Paddy's. Now let me here interject that the plan is to ride at 7am Sunday morning as to allow time for some serious miles (and Senior Queso to be to work by noon). Well I had my staple single beer and hung out while others chose to party it up. Drinks led to seeing Batman (me sooooo no likey), and before I knew it we were rolling in at 1am. Opps. It was then decided that we'd attempt to hit the road at 7:30am instead.

The alarm goes off and I am up-ish and ready to go. Señor Queso, however, is not feeling so well this morning. After letting out fellow rider Iggy know that we'll be later than planned, I try to get Señor Queso motivated and out the door. Fast forward. It's now 8:30 and we are just getting to the meeting point. We pick up Iggy and gear up to ride. By the time we are off and riding it's going on 9. Here goes nothing.

The ride was relatively uneventful. It ended up being much much shorter than planned due to time restraints and well, Señor Queso not feeling so hot. In fact on many of the hills Iggy had to push Señor Queso up the hill (Iggy is an ANIMAL on a bike and things like pushing another rider up the hill don't phase him). I may have gotten us a little lost, but it happens. I did get to try out my new sweet ride, which is the best part of the story.

Lesson Learned?? Maybe limit your cocktails before attempting an epic ride Señor Queso.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pigman or BUST!

I'M IN!!! I'M IN!!!

That's right, bring on the Pig!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Lake Monona Route

Lesson's Learned While Running Around the Lake
  • Know before you go! As in know the gets dark out there.
  • Be prepared for when it gets dark (see above).
  • Eat something more substantial than a granola bar before attempting 12+ miles
  • Be prepared for biting wiener dogs, vicious mosquitoes, giant potholes and construction.
  • It's better to have too much water than not enough.
  • If there are sprinklers on in the lawn, runners will go through them.
And most importantly.......
  • I can in fact keep my body in motion for over 12 miles (12.27 to be exact)!!!