Thursday, August 12, 2010

Timberman - Bib Numbers and Swim Wave Start Times Posted

It's official:  I have a bib number for Timberman -- it's 690.

My swim wave goes off at 7:20am -- Wave 6 out of 18 in total...
My biggest concern right now is how many of the people in the 12 waves that start after me, will attempt to swim over or through me on their way...?  I feel kinda sick... I imagine this will pass as soon as I chew on some Tums or something... or better yet, perhaps I shall meditate on this... like a good yogini. 

I was actually feeling pretty 'level' today until I read the blog post of another athlete competing in the same race who had noted that bib numbers and swim waves were posted (it hadn't even occurred to me to check the site...).  Once I saw my name in print my stomach dropped to the floor. 

This is real.

Oh. My. God.

Well... I guess now at least I can plan my swim strategy (stay the HELL out of everyone's way...) and at least now I can approximate the clock times of the cutoffs for the various events.  I'm sure once I'm actually racing I will not be lucid enough to actually do the math in my head so I'll likely be wearing 2 wrist units - one watch with race timer plus one Garmin HR monitor wrist unit... at least the tan lines will be even...

Does everyone feel this alternating sense of dread/excitement before their 'A' race of the season or is it more of a 'first-timer' thing...?  I wonder...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Training in Lake Placid - July 2010

Training in Lake Placid... during Ironweek... I was excited and more than a little nervous...

This time last year, I was unable to do any training myself, as I was plagued by injuries... this year was a whole different experience. I got my own little taste of what it would be like to train and race on that course.

I was scheduled to swim 1 loop of the swim course, ride 1 loop of the bike course and run part of the run course.  I had my nutrition plan in place and was all set for the adventures to come.

We arrived Thursday afternoon with back spasms from the drive from Toronto... oh goody...   That was the day I was scheduled to swim.  We checked into our rooms at the dorm and then went over to Mirror Lake - Eric had a short bike ride and I had my swim to do.  It was about 5pm by the time we reached the beach.

One thing I learned while at the lake... just talk out loud and drop the name of your next race and someone, somewhere... has done it already or is signed up as well - and conversation begins :)  I met some great people who did Timberman 70.3 last year and got lots of feedback on the course.  I was so happy to meet people who've done it before!  That's the problem with having to drive for 10 hours to get to your 'big race' of the season... you really don't know what to expect... I've been scouring blog reports for months, trying to glean some details.  This was valuable information!

I got into the lake, briefly remembering that last year, I swam about 200m filled with panic and dread that I was, indeed, going to drown before I hauled my a$$ out of Mirror Lake.

From a distance (ie the beach) it did look like kind of a long way to swim... once I got into the water, it seemed like much farther!  The submerged cable did wonders for my self-confidence... I had a road map for where I was supposed to go - oh joy!  I learned that once again, if I can see where I am going, I'm fine... but force me to sight frequently to stay on course or fog up my goggles so that I can't see and it's a whole new ball game...

Mirror Lake is the nicest lake I have ever swum in.  The water temperature was perfect - a little cool so that you don't overheat, but fresh, and tasted good in the mouth.  It was a great swim!  Took me about 56 minutes which isn't fast by any means but I didn't panic.  I took a couple of breaks and composed myself a bit here and there but for the most part - it was a lovely swim!

With that done, I was feeling better, more limber, and ready to tackle my single loop of the bike course the following morning, bright and early.

How can I put this simply for the folks who've never been to Lake Placid...?  ALL ROADS APPEAR TO GO UPHILL.  Seriously, I'm not kidding.  I started my ride, in cool weather, overcast and drizzling and stopped and got off my bike twice in 15 minutes because I was certain that my front - and then my back - wheel, must have been rubbing... there could be no other reason for me going so slow... or so I thought!  Even when you are on your bike and the road ahead looks flat... IT IS NOT.  It is a cruel, optical illusion of Mother Nature. 

I bumbled along in my own way, dreading and muttering out loud the entire time I rode the 9km descent into Keene in the rain.  It was cold and my hands went completely numb so that I couldn't even feel the brake levers I was trying to 'feather'... whenever I thought I had finished the nerve-wracking descent and it was over, I'd see another one of those signs that shows the truck taking a nosedive down a big steep hill... ugh...

After that, I started to enjoy myself - the scenery was fabulous!  I rode along the highway with the river at my right side and just found myself filled with gratitude that I was able to experience all of this under my own pedal power.  It was a very powerful experience. 

The short version was that I ate and drank nearly everything in sight and talked to myself a LOt... but was not able to finish the entire loop due to muscle fatigue.  Sadly, I called it at about 75km... my back spasms were back with a vengeance and I was really reluctant to push it too far and suffer a setback for my training.  I called Eric to come and get me... and when he picked me up, he drove along beside me as I did my run off the bike...

I ran the following day... again - all roads seemingly go UPHILL... but at least it's pretty :)

What did I learn from this experience?  First and foremost, I have a huge amount of respect for those that race that IM course - it is TOUGH!  It also reminded me that patience is a virtue and I cannot and will not rush my own journey to a full iron-distance race.  I had dabbled with the idea of training for a full iron-distance for 2012... after that reality check, however, I'm thinking maybe 2013-2014...maybe...

Secondly, I am stronger than I thought!  I wonder how far I can ride on that course in a year from now when we return again in 2011 to cheer on our friends...?   

;)  Life is GOOD

Lake Placid Ironman July 2010 - A Spectator's View

For the second consecutive year, I was treated to the sight of athletes participating in the Lake Placid Ironman.  This year, I knew about 6 people racing, including my husband, Eric.  Race day was so exciting to witness!  I stood about 3 feet behind the wetsuit strippers so I had fabulous shots of the athletes readying for the swim start, the frenzy of them storming the beach afterwards, and flopping down to get stripped.  Those 'strippers' really put a lot of gusto into their jobs!!  Everytime I saw a wetsuit and resulting spray coming my way, I had to drop the camera lens down and turn my face away - LOL!   I managed to get photos of everyone I knew except for Eric... I think he exited the water during a particularly large crowd of swimmers and I missed him...

The bike leg is always great to watch - many fabulous photo ops and I saw Eric go by twice so that was great and I got some terrific shots of him!

The run course... I saw Eric going out for the run... gave him a kiss for good luck and then I hung around to see Tara Norton (fabulous pro athlete from Toronto) come into the finisher's oval prior to taking my seat at the Finish Line.

Last year I didn't get much opportunity to see the fastest finishers, as I was volunteering on the run course until quite late.  This year, I decided I wanted to witness those people who finished in under 11 hours... it was so great to see them coming down the chute!  I witnessed smiles, elation, tears of joy and one racer in particular who was so taken by the moment as she came down the chute, she literally stopped for a moment, taking it all in before she crossed - it gave me goosbumps!

Eric crossed the Finish Line looking perky and relatively fresh!  I was so happy to see him looking so great and strong!!!  When he came running through the chute, I could hardly believe it was him - the poor guy's been plagued with injuries for months - but he looked amazing!  So proud of him!!   By then, I was wearing a plastic bag (aka 'poncho') just to keep warm - it was freezing!! I was the yellow plastic-clad maniac jumping up and down in the bleachers, screaming, 'Go, Eric!!!!'.... he didn't see me... he forgot where I was going to be... I admit, when he didn't see me, my heart sank... I was so disappointed that we didn't even make eye contact... 

He crossed the line and the vanished from sight.  I figured if he didn't remember to look up where I said I'd be, he might not remember to come back and meet me there either... so I tried going looking for him... that took a good half hour and a lot of frustration - other people had seen him but I couldn't find him!  Finally - there he was!!  I felt so proud of him - what a fabulous accomplishment!

Congratulations to all of the finishers at Lake Placid Ironman - you all ROCK!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Timberman 70.3 - 13 days and Counting...

It seems really hard to believe that in 13 days, I will be in New Hampshire, and getting ready to race at Timberman 70.3.  I still can't get my head wrapped around this... I keep flashing back to a year ago, when I was barely swimming 25m without a rest break, or running 1 and 1's for 10 sets... and trying to remind myself that I'm different now.  My brain hasn't quite caught up yet...

Yesterday, I went out for (what I think was) my last long ride before the race.  I say 'think' because, clearly, I have no real clue what is really going on... and at the moment I'm kind of too tired to really care... I just follow directions.  LOL! 

I would have thought that by now, after 10 months of training, that I would 'get it' and figure out what is going on... but obviously not... it still feels like a magic trick when I pull off a good training day!  Yesterday's nearly 4-hour bike ride on what turned out to be a very blustery day was a complete surprise:  I felt good!  I didn't know I could do that!!  LOL!  I know, you'd think that with all of the training and consistency I've been maintaining for 10 months, it would be a no-brainer but once again - MAGIC!  ;) 

This has been an amazing journey of self-discovery unlike anything I've embarked upon before.  I still find it completely fascinating that my body adapts to the training demands and keeps getting stronger (next year, I will hope for 'faster'...) and carrying me forwards when my brain seems to think that it's game over. 

I'm still not sure if I'll be fast enough to make all of the various cutoffs at the race.  I 'should' be able to make them... barring any unforeseen circumstances (that's life, right?) but I have to keep reminding myself that I CAN DO THIS.  Whether or not I can do this within an allotted time, I'm still not sure... all I can do is TRI... ;) 

So now I guess the tapering begins - or soon, anyway... I'm a little nervous.  The mood-swings alone are enough to make me question my sanity.  Last week, in a period of 24 hours I experienced nervousness, panic, apathy and extreme excitement - oh great... now I'm turning into a bipolar pixie... wonderful!

At least this week, I have the task of baking and decorating about 100 cupcakes for various functions.  That should keep the brain occupied...

Happy Training, Everyone!  Summer is not yet over!!!

- Sue