Friday, September 28, 2012

random friday facts

1. I've been using the same bag of frozen broccoli to ice my shins for at least two years now.

2. The only thing I don't like about the pigtails is how hard it is to make the part straight up and over my head.

3. I think it is legitimate to call my love for hoodies an actual addiction.

4. I am horrible about sending mail.

5. I really want to customize a horrendous pair of Special Ops goggles to go along with my ugly/neon/clashing/silly swimming gear.

6. I love how much my dogs love us, even if they are completely insane every time we come home.

7. I am scared a bug will crawl into my mouth while I am sleeping.

8. I think my heart rate strap smells like salt & vinegar potato chips.

9. I can't remember the last time I bought new underwear. 

10. Frozen strawberries are the base of every smoothie I make.

12. After almost two weeks, I found my sunglasses.

13. I haven't watched last night's Grey's Anatomy yet, but someone spoiled it on Twitter.  :(

14. I have to have all the blinds in the house closed or I can't sleep.  What if someone looks in the window??

15. I store Burt's Beeswax chapstick EVERYWHERE.

16. I will not be upset when cash becomes extinct.

17. Something happened yesterday that made me say out loud, to myself like a crazy person, "THIS is the direction I want my life to go."

18. No, I'm not going to tell you what it is.

19. Yet.

20. I have almost decided to run a marathon.  I feel like I've never run one before because of the way I've blacked out the pain of Ironman.  It's not that far, right?

21. I hang up my technical tees, but my nice cotton tops are folded in a drawer.

Happy Friday, friends and haters!  Drop me some random facts about you to cheer me up.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

three financial things thursday

1. I sold my road bike this week, finally.  
I was a pretty sad when it rolled away, but we're trying to make good financial decisions as we rebuild what has been lost this year, and this was definitely a good one to make.  I would rather be out of debt than have two bicycles.  Check.

2. Along those lines, I'm going to leap pretty severely off-topic here and let everyone know that I am also selling my Lawson Classical french horn.  I've had it posted with a dealer for about two years now, but it hasn't moved so I'm trying to spread the word a bit (click here for the listing).  For those of you in the music world, it's a nickel bronze horn with a clear and dark low register and a brilliant high Bb.  I really do hate to use the blog for things like this, but I've decided to announce it along with the promise that when I do sell it, I'm going to donate a significant amount of money to each of the charities we decided on earlier this summer: Lost Dog and GRREAT.  Hopefully that news will calm all the angry little hearts that are disgusted at my shameful attempts to continue to make good decisions for my family.  It hurts my heart to sell my horn, but it hasn't been played in years and that chapter of my life has closed.  If it pisses you off that I'm using the blog for this, just go ahead and click away, I won't mind.  If you're a musician and wouldn't mind spreading the word, I would deeply appreciate it.  Here's a picture of me being blonde and chunky and playing the horn for you to giggle at.
3. Since 2009, we've rented out two - and sometimes three - rooms in our house to roommates.  When I was in graduate school, it helped make up some of the costs and we had some good people live here with us so it's almost never been a burden.  When I finished graduate school, the poet went straight in, and then when he finished and the two great guys that lived here moved on, we decided to just live here by ourselves.  That was this past....March?  I was able to spend about five weeks walking around naked before I lost my job.  We immediately turned the search back on and have rented the two rooms again.  But recently we've started to wonder in a serious fashion if we could move into a smaller place with a smaller mortgage that is just for us.  

The biggest problem with all of this is that when I bought the house, it was a foreclosure and I didn't pay much for it (although it was a giant effing hassle of paperwork), and then we refinanced this past winter to drop our interest rate from 5% to 3.67%.  The reason that is a problem (my diamond shoes!  they are so tight!) is because we would have to move at least 25 miles in any direction to find a home that was smaller (small townhouse is what we would look for, need a backyard for the booboos) without our mortgage being twice as high.  My mind is continuously blown about the state of housing in the metro DC area, and I'm not sure how I lucked into my big falling-down foreclosure, but our small mortgage + having roommates is making it impossible to find a less expensive situation.  We've also considered selling and renting, but rental prices in my neighborhood are significantly higher than our mortgage.  So we're stuck, which isn't the end of the world for right now.  Anyhow, that's not really relevant to anything, but I needed a third financial thing for Thursday and it's what has been on my mind lately.  

What financial things have been on your mind lately?  Sorry for the off-topic post, complaining about running is back on tap for tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

a generalized ramble about the state of things

I've been training based on the MAF system for almost a year now, and I really believe in the principles of training this way.  Except for a shoe-based calf tear, I haven't been injured at all.  That's quite a huge accomplishment for someone who used to never go more than eight weeks without being in an orthopedist's office.

That said, now that I'm not bouncing from injury layoff to injury layoff, I've been able to finally experience how training should flow on a macro level.  The MAF book talks about having two aerobic periods per year alternating with two race periods per year.  Essentially, an athlete spends 2-4 months building an aerobic base, 2-3 months racing, 2-4 months back in the aerobic base, and 2-3 months racing, repeat yearly.  There are a lot of good reasons for this, but the biggest reason is because racing actually chips away at your aerobic base.  From what I've read, different coaches have different ideas about how much anaerobic work you need while training by MAF, but it seems like the consensus is that you just sprinkle a little bit in before your race happens to wake up the slow-twitch fibers.  If you race often enough during your race period, you may not need any anaerobic work outside of those races.  So you race for a few months and lose a bit of your base, and then you train aerobically until you have to run 3 minute/mile pace to get your HR out of the basement and hey presto!  It's time to race again.

So, this is my blog and obviously I'm going to talk to how it applies to me, because that's what we bloggers do.

Looking back at my year of MAF, I can see that I spent December, January, February, and most of March creating a big fat aerobic base.  I had very little work that went above my MAF heart rate (152).  As we got closer to my half marathon and then my 70.3, little sprinkles - like 20 minutes hard at the end of a long run - showed up, but for the most part my work was still aerobic.  After my 70.3, my training was all IM-focused, again for the most part aerobic but instead of having a general endurance ride where my HR could be whatever it wanted as long as it was under MAF, I had much more IM-pace specific work.  So we'll call April, May, June my race period, even though I was still mainly training aerobically.

Following CdA I should have been spun back into an aerobic phase, but instead I took the month off and just went all easy all the time.  The easy was good, and I'm quite sure everything I did was aerobic for the month, but my volume wasn't high enough to hang onto the huge base I had created in the spring.  I stayed active which was good for my muscles but the low volume chipped away at the base.

When I started training again in August, a lot of things happened.  I went back to work, and suddenly had significant life stress to balance against training stress.  I also went from a few hours a week of easy activity straight into 70.3 build volume, and it made me pretty cranky right off the bat.  Instead of a gradual build towards tired, I kept feeling like I woke up one day and was suddenly in a hole.  My taper for Cedar Point started a bit early, and it only took about two days of easy recovery work before I felt ready to go hard again.  I raced, recovered, and when I look at my schedule and the work I've done, I know that logically I shouldn't be in a hole right now.  But the other piece of the puzzle, the piece that didn't affect my training as much through the first half of the year, is life stress.  And I've had quite a bit of it recently.  The biggest way it's affecting me is that one day my legs will feel strong and bouncy and I have a great training day, and then only two days later I feel like I'm in such a deep hole that I'm afraid to push any more and risk injury.  And looking at the pretty colored boxes, I have no reason to be in this hole, I'm not weeks into a build.  On Saturday, I made a pretty severe error in nutrition which cut my ride short, but when I got on the bike to start the ride, I already felt like I was four hours into six.  That's not right, that's not how a long ride coming off a moderate week should feel, even after a poorly-executed soul-destroying 5K.  

Trying to figure this out has been moderately exhausting, and I'm glad to have Sonja on board to point out the obvious signs of what's going on and remind me that there needs to be balance.  It was only a month ago that I was excited and happy to be headed into a fall racing season, and now all I want is for big fat easy aerobic workouts to show up on the schedule.  I know that when race day shows up, I'll be happy and excited to tackle the day, but every time I see the words "frickin hard" show up in the pink box, I sigh, just a teeny tiny bit.  On the flip side, the instructions for my long run last week said, "nothing that will make you cranky," and I had the most enjoyable long run I've had for about as long as I can remember.  

So I know that it's not the motivation that's lost, I'm still enjoying the work, it's more like listening to what my body is telling me (I HATE it when people say that) so I don't end up back in that ortho's office, sobbing my eyes out because I have a half marathon in six days and can't walk without pain.  I don't feel overtrained, or burned out, I'm just struggling a little bit for balance, I'm trying to learn how to fit in training against a different schedule against a marriage I actually care about preserving.  When it comes down to the line, I know how to rank those things, I know what is most important, but knowing what is important and actually fitting everything into your life are two different things.  I'm also learning where my breaking point is as far as stress is concerned, and it's nice to have that so clearly defined for me.  There was a time in my life where I was afraid of drawing a line in the sand, where I tolerated far more than I should have as the expense of many far more important things in my life, and that is mistake I will not make.  Not here, not now, not ever again.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Clarendon Day 5K: race report

Okay, so let's skip ahead to the part that will make you snort coffee out through your nose.  Example A (I didn't turn off my watch so I don't have a .1 split, more like a .1 plus leaning on a table plus walking to the bananas):
Example B (race photos taken on the "down" stroke instead of the "push" should never be posted in public):
It's like all the good work I've done over the past two years came apart at once.  Time to rewind...

A conversation with Sonja sometime in the middle of last week led to me signing up Friday evening for the Clarendon Day 5K.  I've heard that it's a fun race, with a flat/slightly rolling first mile, big downhill at the beginning of the second mile and uphill into the finish.  Despite the fact that I am not even close to being in 5K shape, having spent the better part of the year going long and slow, I decided quite ambiguously that I was going to try and take advantage of mile two being sweet downhill and try to PR.  The last time I can remember running even part of a mile that had a 7 in it was New Year's Eve, but I figured that 7:45 pace was pretty close to the 8:30ish pace I ran off the bike a month or so ago and it would be fine.  I am nothing if not entirely logical.

I tapered for the race by doing 4+ hours of swim/bike/run the day before, and added to the good preparation by only getting about six tossing-and-turning hours of sleep Friday night.  My resting heart rate has been about ten beats elevated since last Wednesday morning, which is either due to stress or predicting that I am about to get sick (I'm hoping for the former), so I considered forcing the poet to run with my bib and spectating, but he had a 3.5 hour run on tap and wasn't interested.  So we drove on over, picked up my bib, and stood around being cranky for a while until it was time to warm up.  I wore my podium hoodie and my PR visor in hopes that the juju would rub off on my tired legs.
I warmed up for about a mile and noticed as I was warming up that the weather was too.  It was pretty humid, but I've been on the 'roids for over a month now so it bothers me less.  When I was done warming up, I downed some EFS to top off my calories and then we headed over to the start line.
I haven't done a race in a really long time with music, and I didn't plan on racing this one with it, but as I stood there looking around yawning, I decided that it might either cheer me up or help distract me from OMG WHY DOES IT HURT IS IT OVER YET OW.  So the music went in.
I beeped around until I found one of my happier tunes and soon enough it was time to go.  My very rough no-plan plan had me going out at around 7:45 pace and trying to hold it.  So that went well.

The first half-mile is relatively flat, and then there's a little down-and-up-and-around into the second mile.  I didn't look down at my watch until we hit the down, and lap pace was showing 7:01.  I slammed on the brakes and tried to concentrate on good form as we headed up the hill, but I'm pretty sure it was already too late to recover from that damage.  When we hit the long downhill at the start of the second mile, I tried to keep it controlled and relaxed, and when the course turned onto the flat of highway 110, maintain the pace I had been going.  I didn't see a mile 2 marker, so when my watch showed 1.04 and there was none in sight, I manually lapped.  Overall, the course measured pretty true so it's likely that mile 2 was closer to 7:20, but it really doesn't matter all that much.  

The out-and-back on 110 was short but horrifying.  My legs were royally pissed by this time about my brilliant race execution strategy and when I hit the turn around, I stopped to walk for about 20 seconds.  I'm not proud of it, but I just lost my will.  It was hot and I went out way too fast and this is what happens when you run like a bat out of hell from the start.  I got going again but it felt more like a slow jog, and I could tell that my form was collapsing.  I saw the mile 6 marker (but no mile 3) and tried to light the fire into the finish, but it was more like a lurching, hip-dipping heel-striking disaster slog.
Especially after comparing it to the warming-up shots I didn't realize the poet was taking.  Let's hope none of my pack of running gait people is reading this (hi Dr. Maggs!).  FORM GOES WOMP WOMP.
Once I finished I turned and leaned on a table conveniently located right next to the clock while my brain started fishing the blood out of my legs.  The poet found me pretty quickly and I let him know how the race went.
Am I actually upset about this race?  No, of course not.  My final time was 24:37, which is 7:56 pace, which is definitely the fastest running I've done all year.  In early August, right when I came out of my bender, I did 3x1 mile repeats and they were all in the 8:20ish range as far as I can remember (and don't care enough to look it up).  The 5K I did off the bike was a 25:54, which is 8:21 pace (just went and looked that up because I cannot do .1 race math) but was much more evenly split.  And those two events were really the only running I've done resembling "fast" since I got back into training.  My 5K PR (24:15) was set when I was mid-half marathon cycle, doing track and tempo work weekly and really ready to run hard.  To come within 22 seconds of that PR on the legs, mind, and body state that I'm in right now is actually just fine with me.  
So while I executed this like a complete idiot, I can still take a little heart from it because it's showing me that there is a tiny bit of speed in there somewhere, and if I wanted to go after a 5K PR, it would probably only take a few weeks of work to get there.  But I definitely, 100%, absolutely do NOT want to go after that (more on this tomorrow) because running fast totally sucks.  

How was your weekend?  Did you have to run fast?  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

three things thursday

1. I still don't have much to talk about, but that's never stopped any other blogger from forcing you to read their mindless bullet-post drivel about their life, so here we go.  The first thing Thursday is that I changed my header.  See?  Useless, but now one bullet point is done.  I've had the same header for over two years and don't really mind it, but I figured, for whatever reason, it was time for a change.  It took me six months to update the puppies tab after we brought Sofie home and I'm pretty sure the swim bike run tab still talks about following my journey as I train for my first ironman, but let's update the pictures since no one reads the words anyway, especially buried in the tabs.  Although there are a shit-load of puppy pictures in there, if you are ever having a crappy day and really like golden retrievers.  Here's another one.  Feel better?
Good, me too.  I'm a type-A OCD perfectionist that hates change, so you can go back to reading on your phone in Google Reader, no more changes happening over here.

2. Part of the reason I have nothing to talk about is that it's been so long since I've had an actual injury.  And now that I've posted that, I'll probably fall down the steps on my road bike and break every bone in my body, but at least then I'll have something at least marginally interesting to post about.  My left trapezius got a little wacky last week, and I did have to back off the swimming for a few days, but I think it's healed and if I ever stopped getting it Graston'd I'd probably be able to tell for sure once the bruises faded.  But I do that that Mister MAF and Mister Graston have combined forces to help me crawl closer to an injury-free life.  I even felt my glutes working yesterday morning when I ran 400 circles around the track.  What now?  I'll probably win the lottery and then my life will be so boring that I'll have to retire from blogging entirely.  The world weeps.

3. I could either talk about how thrilled I am that the weather is changing or shamelessly plug a race for the second time.  Let's do both.  Fall is here, and the only thing that could make it better is to get just one frost.  The first frost kills all the mosquitos and I'd love to be able to go into the backyard at night without leaping and thrashing and slapping myself like some kind of escapee.  The arm warmers have come out and I'm getting close to replacing my overly-priced shorts obsession with an overly-priced crops obsession.  

The race, of course, is the Alexandria Family Fun Day & 5K.  FLUSHING TOILETS, for cripes sake.  Go sign up, or at least click away from here.  Once again, I've contributed nothing to the universe on a Thursday.  Maybe I'll jump in a race this weekend.  I'm sure at least one of you thinks it's worth $25 to run a few miles just so the brainless entries can end, or at least so I can get a fresh picture of my ass and stop reposting ones you've all seen a dozen times.
I'm out, bitches.  If you've got any ideas about what I can talk about, for the love of pete let me know so I can stop boring the internet with my yammering.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

happy birthday to my girls

I'm had an emotionally taxing several days, which means that I'm zapped as far as interesting blog content.  However, Molly & Sofie both turned two this past weekend, so a puppy picture dump is in order.  Happy Tuesday, friends, hopefully I'll be back later in the week with pep and sarcasm ahoy.
 The day Molly joined our family, 14 weeks old.

 Gearing me up for a 10K PR.

 First trip to the dog park.

 Our wedding.

 Cheering on Graham while he runs his first 5K.

 The day we met Sofie.
 Sofie came home.

 Graham has no idea what to do with two sisters.

 Sofie and Molly wait for Graham to come home from the hospital.

Happy Birthday, baby girls.  Our lives are better with you in it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

four things friday

1. Just like every taper and race is different, every recovery period is different.  I can't actually remember the last time I felt this fried after a race.  Some of it, I'm sure, was due to the 8+ hour drive we made less than an hour after I crossed the finish line, but some of it I think was related to my effort.  And because of that, instead of wanting to gorge myself on beer and ice cream and potato chips, I was a little worried about how trashed I felt and have spent the week putting good clean solid foods down, with the possible exception of a cocktail at dinner Tuesday night with some good sweaty friends.  
But other than that, it's been vegetables galore, quinoa crazy mixes, and only a small bowl of ice cream here and there.  I think that's also because it wasn't a season-ending race, but rather I need to get rolling again pretty quickly to tackle what's next for me.  I was feeling pretty good by yesterday morning, and hopped in the pool for a real swim.  I swam almost 200 yards and my crazy trapezius seized up.  I self-massaged, crawled into the hot tub, and was in my chiro's office about an hour later. 

I've noticed the last few times that I've raced, especially when I don't get out of aero, the whole left side of my upper body gets tight and cramped.  I don't notice it in aero, I notice it when I sit up.  Thinking back to Sunday, I actually can't even remember one time I sat up until the final miles - I ate, drank, swapped water bottles, etc all from the aero position, and all using my right arm.  Which means it's very likely my left side didn't move once in 56 miles.  My left arm and upper back was pissed when I got off the bike, but after a few miles of running it went away and actually hasn't made a twinge all week.

Anyway, Dr. Paul was able to decrunchify my back and after a few rounds of ice, anti-inflammatories and a muscle relaxer, it's feeling a lot better, just sore from the beating.  I had actually scheduled a post-race massage for Tuesday but then canceled it because I didn't feel that bad and didn't want to spend the money.  I suppose there's a lesson in there somewhere that I should probably learn about prevention.

2. This.  I can't stop laughing.
3. I saw my breathing doctor this week for a check-up, and he has proclaimed me healed by his magical hands (and steroids).  It only took about two days for me to feel a huge difference in running, and I think I've continued to steadily improve throughout the month.  It's also finally starting to cool off here in DC, so I expect that these two things combined will mean every run I do is perfect and fast and leaves a little trickle of fairy dust coming out of my sweaty ass.
4. Two of my very close friends, Amy and Liz, are race directors for a charity 5K slash family fun day that is happening here in Alexandria at the end of the month.  Mollie did an excellent post late last week about some of the awesome amenities, so I'll be lazy and just send you there to read it, but I'll also tell you to go sign up. It's a PR course in the best racing weather we have all year in DC, AND there are flushing toilets at the start and finish.  If it fits in my schedule, Sofie may be attempting to run her first 5K. I'm not sure what else you can really ask for in a race.  

Happy Friday, my friendly friends!  Who's racing this weekend?  Not me, that's for sure.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rev3 Cedar Point Half: race report

Every race build is different.
As I was building into CdA, I wasn't getting ready to go hard.  Suffering was never a goal.  Instead, I wanted to spend the day happy, and I did.  But this time around, there was none of that.  I wanted to hurt, and I was afraid to hurt, and now I'm on the other side.

Taper was a tricky beastie.  The start of taper coincided with some exciting but stressful events in my work life, and while my legs felt like they were starting to snap a little bit, my system was exhausted.  So I scrapped my whole schedule for the week and did the "sleep in then decide what I want to do today" plan.  I swam on Tuesday, I felt like going out for a ride on Wednesday, and Thursday I had enough pep in my step that I wanted to run again.  By Friday I was ready to be back on my schedule, and I had a swim with some hard 100s in it that I was itching to take a crack at.  And when I showed up at the pool, two hours before I had to be at work and seven hours before we had to depart for Ohio, there was a sign up.  Closed indefinitely.
I took it as a sign that another rest day wouldn't hurt me and rolled with it.  The same thing happened Saturday morning when the practice swim was canceled due to high winds.  That plus standing water all over the bike course meant I checked my bike in without riding it and didn't get a chance to submerge myself in the lake to get my pre-race panic attack out of the way.  I did sneak out for a shakeout run as the sun was going down, but after a sleepless night (pet-friendly hotel in a thunderstorm is not restful) and a busy day, it felt awful and I bagged it after 2ish miles.  
I've stopped doing the "give up X food or drink for taper" insanity after deciding that it wasn't helping me at all, but this time I went so far in the other direction that I'm a little embarrassed about it.  I drank an entire bottle of wine over two nights last weekend.  Monday night I had a birthday to celebrate, and I was "OMG I LOVE YOU GUYS" sloshed by the end of the night.  My nutrition this week vacillated between normal clean eating and shoveling an entire bag of potato chips down my throat at 9pm, and if I wrote down in a public place the things that I ate on Saturday, Sonja would probably do whatever the grown-up version is of yanking the little kid's pants down and spanking him in public because he won't stop being a jerk in the grocery store.

Thankfully, none of it mattered.  

I discovered late Saturday night that transition didn't close until 7:30am, so I got to sleep in until the incredibly late hour of 6:15.  We arrived at the race just as they made the "7 minutes until transition closes" announcement, which is exactly how much time I need to dump all my crap on the ground and get out.  It was about a mile walk to the swim start, and we took our time getting down there.  I stopped a few times to just watch the sun come up over the lake and breathe.  I had pretty strict instructions from Sonja to conserve my energy on race morning and not be batshit insane (drat).  
I made another pit stop in the bathroom, then hung out chatting with Kevin for a bit about how crabby we were and horrifying his wife with my saddle sore talk.  I did get in the lake for a minute just to let water in my wetsuit, but I mostly stood shivering on the beach until it was time for my wave to head out.
The words, the thoughts, the ideas I wanted in my head this time around - I had two.  One was the quote from the poet's shirt that he wore in his first marathon last year - "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."  All the mental shit I've been though, all the times I've failed to execute on race day, all the times I've been afraid of what the edge looks like.  What the world is like out there where it really hurts.  Powerful.  
The other is a quote that Sonja sent me in the days before CdA: " 'My heart is afraid it will have to suffer,' the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.  'Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.  And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.' "  
I sent it to Caroline the night before the race, because she was in Vegas and getting ready to suffer pretty hard as well.  But the fear of suffering, that's exactly what is wrong with me.  So the word I carried with me was fearless, and that's what I was thinking about when the horn went off.

Swim: 1.2 miles, 33:15, 1:35/100y
The lake was choppy and our wave was spread out in a long line, but right away I started hunting for feet.  I hopped on a pair right away, but after ten strokes the feet started breast-stroking, so I zipped around them and searched for more.  I could see that the front pack was just a bit ahead of me, so I swam hard to try and catch them.  I did catch them, just as they caught the slower swimmers from the waves in front of us.  It was confusion and chaos of feet and passing and by the time it shook out, we were rounding the first buoy and the only thing I could see in front of me was clear water.

I wasn't delusional enough to think that I was leading my wave, but I just couldn't find any orange caps to hang onto.  So I decided to forget about feet and just put my nose down and swim.  Not hard, nothing was burning, but steady and strong, sighting off the roller coasters, being blinded by the sun and rocked by the chop.  It didn't feel long before I breathed and noticed that people around me were standing.  I stroked deep but couldn't feel the bottom, so I decided to keep swimming as long as I could.  I pulled my elbow a bit high so I could swim as far as I could, but eventually I touched bottom.  I stood up to walk and noticed we were still pretty far from shore.  I was able to hurry for about 10 steps and then the water got deep again, so I put my goggles back on and swam again as far as I could.  The next time I stood up, I was pretty close to shore, so I waded through the water, up the beach, down the carpet, and over the timing mat into transition.  When I stood up out of the water, I saw a 32 on my watch, so I knew I had a decent swim and might PR if I could get to the mat in time.  I didn't look at my watch as I lapped it in and out of transition, but I thought that I probably hadn't made it because of the run up the carpet.  I was pleasantly surprised after the race to find my final time: 33:14.976 (Rev3 meanies rounded it up to 33:15, no I don't actually care) - a 30-second PR.  3/55 AG and 19/251 women.  

T1: 2:22
I've been sitting down in transition lately for a good reason and a disgusting hydration reason.  The good reason is so that I can put my shoes on without falling over.  I grabbed one of my arm warmers and put it over my wrist, and then decided it wasn't that cold and took it back off.  Helmet, sunglasses, and I was out.

Bike: 56 miles, 2:55:23, 19.2mph
I set up my watch for this race to auto-lap every five miles, for no other reason than post-race data analysis.  I didn't have a detailed race plan, but I intended to bring my HR down into the low 140s after the swim and let it sit there for a while.  If I felt good and strong midway through the bike, I'd push it as close to the 150 line as I could.
I let the first five miles go by and did nothing but ride.  I didn't eat or drink or fidget or flip through my Garmin to look at my splits, I just settled down.  When the first split came through at 15:03, just a hair under 20mph, I got a little worried that I was hammering too hard on my daisy-fresh legs.  I made sure to keep a close eye on my heart rate for the next five miles, and when the split popped up at 14:38, I decided to just quit worrying about how fast I was riding because in training, I never know anyway, and to focus on being steady with my effort and heart.  I ate the little half-Snickers bar that was in my bento box and then started working through my EFS bottles.
The bike leg felt like it went by very quickly until we took a left turn that brought us onto a long stretch of road with a fairly significant headwind.  It had been fairly windy up until that point, but mostly gusts and crosswinds that were very manageable.  I put down quite a bit of EFS and then hunkered down and tried to stay under the wind as much as I could, but that stretch lasted at least 10 miles and left me feeling a bit battered and low, especially when my Garmin split a 16:43 somewhere in the middle.  As soon as we turned left, I ate my other little half-Snickers bar and took a few sips of my EFS magic power plus bottle (loaded with PreRace), and perked up again a few minutes later.  

I kept waiting to make a turn into the still quiet that means the wind is finally at your back, but it never happened.  We headed back to the park, riding again on the horribly bumpy and chipped roads we came out on, and I was surprised when I tallied up the Garmin beeps to 50 miles.  My stomach was feeling a bit empty and gurgly, so I finished off my last bottle of EFS and ate 6-8 Gu chomps that I was carrying as emergency backup nutrition.  In my head, I couldn't quite figure out why I needed so much more fuel on the bike than usual, but I decided to listen to my tummy and load up as much as I could before I got off the bike.
After the race was over, I realized that my mistake was not made on the bike, but rather before the race.  I had my usual pre-race breakfast at 6:15, but my swim wave didn't go off until 8:50 and I only drank a small bottle of EFS (100 calories) in that time.  I probably should have eaten a much bigger breakfast or eaten a second breakfast before I got in the water.  Because of that, I was heading into the bike with a totally empty stomach, which explains why I went through all of my planned calories, my backup calories (Snickers), and most of the stinky old chomps in my bento box.  My second mistake was shoving all this down between mile 50-56, which I knew at the time was going to be a problem but it was too late to do anything about it.

As soon as we turned in the park, I started looking for the poet and the puppies.  I knew I was going to break three hours very comfortably, and I was ready to get off the bike and fucking hurt myself.
I dismounted and my family was right there.  I yelled, "Hey, Graham!" and he started looking around for my voice, so I stopped and yelled it again and waved, and they all started tail-wagging at the sight of their mamas.  Mission accomplished, I crossed the mat and headed into T2.  14/55 AG, 28/251 women (man, my AG is rude fast).  

T2, 1:50
Racked the bike, sat down to deal with my shoes and hydration issues, stashed my ziplock bag of goodies into my pocket and took off.
Run, 13.1 miles, 2:17:17, 10:29 pace
As soon as I started running I could tell I had a stomach situation.  My stomach felt full and bloated with fuel and I was burping quite a bit.  I was carrying a little hand bottle of about 6-8oz that had EFS and PreRace (and still smelled like pee when it got sweaty, from Knoxville) that I had planned to drink and dump by mile 4.  I took a tiny sip of it and burped it right back up.  If there is one thing I have learned this year, it's that if your stomach hurts or you are having digestive issues, STOP putting things down.  So I just ran.  When my heart rate crept up towards race pace (160), the gurgling intensified and sent a few warning shots due south, so instead I kept it right around MAF (152).  I know that I can run at MAF for a long time without issue.  I ditched my race plan and instead decided to run at MAF for three miles and then reevaluate where my stomach was.

The first three miles clicked off fairly quickly, all somewhere in the 9s.  There was an aid station right after the three mile marker, so I slowed to grab a cup of water.  I drank just a sip, which resulted in more burping, so I knew my body was still working on everything I had put down on the bike.  I wasn't that concerned, because I know that I can run 7-8 miles without taking down calories if I need to, but it wasn't an ideal situation.  I looped around the little park and headed down the first of many out-and-backs on side streets.  When mile four went by, I let myself walk for about 20 seconds to see if that would calm my tummy down a bit.  It didn't, but I started running again right away.  Walking is a dangerous and seductive thing to do, and I've always gotten sucked into off the bike in the past, but not this time.  That 20 seconds was the longest I walked the entire race, and I'm proud of that.  Every time I started to feel down, I rolled my eyes upwards, where the only word I could make out on the inside of my visor was powerful, and reminded myself of what I really wanted.
Water wasn't working, but I started dumping ice down my top and then chewing on pieces of it and that was going okay.  I wasn't talking to anyone, I wasn't making friends, I wasn't thinking at all, I was just trotting along as quickly as my tummy could bear it.  When I got to the aid station around mile seven, I tried another cup of water and it was the sweetest most delicious thing.  And no more burping.  A mile later I tried another cup of water and finally, just after mile nine, I walked through an aid station and took my first gel of the day.

By the time I got to mile 10, the gel had kicked in and I was starting to feel a lot better.  I didn't have a real low on the run this time, which I am thankful for, but getting on top of some calories - especially some magical Roctane calories - made a big difference.  At the next station, I took a second gel, and then geared up to power home.  I knew that once the course turned back onto the causeway, we had just a little over two miles to go.  Running up the hill hurt quite a bit, but I flew down the back side and around into the parking lot and started searching for my family.
The poet was waiting at a split in the fence no more than 100 yards away from the finish line, and I stopped.  He handed my puppies to me, and it took us all a few seconds to get headed in the right direction, but once they did, they TOOK OFF.  Little brats with fresh legs dragging their mama at a 4 minute/mile pace.
Two women flew past me in the chute, one in my AG, and I don't care even a little.  It probably cost me about 15-20 seconds to stop and grab my babies, and it was 100% worth it.
70.3 miles: 5:50:07

I didn't feel any different once I had crossed, but we chatted and talked and took some pictures and I went to find Jen and eyeball my splits.
But then I got myself into the magical recovery pants booth and that's where it all let go.
I think that one of the best things about this day is that it wasn't perfect.  I made mistakes, but I figured them out and managed my day and didn't get dragged down like I have so many times in the past.  I'm also excited to look down the path at continuing to race this distance, finally.  Looking through my data, I can see that I was far on the lower end of what my heart rate should be at these distances.  I know that I played it a little safe on the bike this time, but I really wanted to make sure I had legs to run.  Now I know that I will.

And while I'm glad I finally executed a good day and I'm thrilled to PR every distance, I'm also not upset about my execution in the three races prior to this.  I have friends and training partners and I read blogs of people who tend to crank out pretty perfect race days 100% of the time, but somehow they often still carry an attitude of intense dissatisfaction.  I've spent time being jealous of people who dick around in training and then have magical races, but not anymore.  Because the fact that it took me so much time and energy and work to have the day I had this weekend, because I suffered at this distance so many times before I got it right, it all just makes it so much sweeter.  Yes, I can see the way forward, and a dozen ways that I can take another hunk of time off of this distance, but I am deeply satisfied with how I raced this weekend and wouldn't change a thing.  I'm thrilled to be able to say with pride instead of a tinge of sadness this time, this is my journey and I will own it.  And right now I'm standing on top of the mountain, hollering my lungs out, because I did it.
Powerful beyond measure.