Ironman Texas Part 2

“We’re all different, so even though someone is getting a skill before you it doesn’t mean you’re not good enough; it just means you have to wait a little bit, and the skill will come when it comes”- Laurie Hernandez

It is time for the race story.

Pre-race evening: Aimee and I made sure we had our special needs bags ready. (These are bags we can have halfway through the bike and run that contain any thing we want for the race. Mine contained Fritos for salt, Base salt, Aleve, extra hydration and fuel, Tums, blister pads, and my run bag had also a jacket in case it got chilly after dark.) We also applied a lot of race tattoos, our number, age, Ironman logo, BCRF logo, Team Sirius logo, and a special MBK tattoo from Meredith because she wanted us to remember she was cheering for us even though she was miles ahead.

Race Day:  We were up and out the door by 4:45 am after having a small meal. They dropped us just outside the transition area and we went in to put air in our tires, put our hydration and fuel on the bike, and then walk about a mile to the race start. The rest, dropped our special needs bags in the appropriate locations and waited for us.

Time went by fast and before we knew it, we needed to put on our wetsuits. Excitement was building as the pro race began and the age groupers got into the queue. Finally, our race began. Since it was a rolling start, it took 15 minutes until we reached the water’s edge.

Swim 2.4 miles: Even though we had not been in the open water since last summer and I had never done a rolling start before, my entrance into the water went fairly smoothly. We had been warned many times that the water would be murky and hard to see. Both of us envisioned, Hagg Lake or Blue Lake as they are murky, but this was more than murky, it was downright black! I couldn’t even see my hand in front of me let alone any feet or arms that might hit me. (We later were told the lake is also full of water moccasins, a fact I was glad to know after the race) We had seeded ourselves in the proper estimated time finish and for the first 50 yards, I actually had enough space, but as we all began sighting for the buoys, that space closed up. It took 2 or 3 buoys before I was able to find space again, then it became a regular pattern of space for awhile, then as I neared a buoy, crowded. I felt like I zigzagged quite a bit, but never felt overwhelmed. Swimming down the final half mile in the canal was very interesting. The crowds could walk along beside us and cheer. The sides of the canal were shallow and I could see a few swimmers standing or walking through the water. Finally, I saw the last buoy to turn to the finish. I rounded that and a few strokes later was hauled out of the water and up the steps by volunteers.

T1: Upon exiting the water, we were guided over to the wetsuit strippers where they helped us quickly get our our wetsuits off. Then I headed up and got my transition bag and entered the changing tent. This was a muddy mess of a a place with women everywhere trying to get on their bike gear and out to the course. I tried to do it quickly, but not so fast I would forget anything. After a few minutes, I was headed out to find my bike.

Bike 110 miles (Ironman shortened the bike course by 2 miles. I don’t know why): One of my pre race fears was not being able to get my shoes clipped in as I started the bike and causing others to crash into me because I was in the way. Happy to say, that didn’t happen. I clipped in easily and was on my way. The first 17 miles or so are within the town and working our way out to the Hardy Toll road. Because all week, I felt disoriented on direction, I hoped that the course would be well marked and it was. There were often police controlling intersections so we could safely pass with out being hit by cars. I felt good to start, my legs were good, I wasn’t too tired from the swim, I had gotten in my 100 calories and water immediately following the swim and thought things were going okay. Then, I became nauseous and I couldn’t figure out why. That lasted until mile 36 when I remembered what Meredith had said about Base salt. Maybe I was not replacing it quick enough, so I pulled out my Base salt tube and took a lick. Within a minute, I started to feel better, so I figured that was the problem. After about an hour I finally had a routine that worked, every 5 minutes I alternated between the Skratch chews and the Base salt. I am pretty sure I didn’t get enough calories on the bike, but at least I could keep going without nausea.  I was particularly happy that I had made it to the toll road before the pros and done their turn around. In fact, I saw all the pro women coming around for their first lap, then again when they lapped me. Meredith was in second at the time and Michelle Vesterby third. This was one of the highlights for the day because I have been riding with them on Zwift and this time it was the real deal, they passed me and in seconds were gone just like on the screen! I saw Aimee a couple of times and she was about 6 miles ahead of me. Another highlight was being on the course with Johnny Agar and his dad. He is a young man with cerebral palsy who had a goal to finish an Ironman with his dad towing him on the swim, bike and run, but to work hard and walk that last meters to the finish line himself. I saw a photo and he did just that. Very inspiring. One of my moments of happiness was being able to help a fellow rider who had blown through his CO2 cartridges trying to change a tire. I gave him one of mine, but as I rode off a few minutes later, I heard a loud bang like a tire pop, so he might not have made it. The low points of the ride were two things, one, was the scary situation created by many elite age groupers who were violating the rules and riding in packs or drafting. The rules clearly state that there are to be 6 bike lengths between riders and there is no drafting, or passing on the right side. Several times I was swallowed up by giant packs of riders passing me on both my right and left sides. It was scary and unsafe and I hated every second that they were near me. It’s cheating and it unfair to the racers who are trying to get to Kona by following the rules. The second low point was around mile 60 my IT band/quads started to spasm or get inflamed. All I know is that pedaling became very painful and I started going slower and slower. I had a good pace going at the beginning, but by the end I was well over my estimated finish time which did not set me up very well for the run.

T2: After finishing the bike, I knew that my leg would be okay once I got off and started walking. It felt better immediately. I grabbed my transition bag and headed into the changing tent. The volunteers at this race were incredible, and sometimes almost too helpful. I had set up my bag so that I could take things out in order, that way I wouldn’t forget anything. My volunteer proceeded to start taking everything out at once, so I struggled a little to make sure I had everything. I didn’t get my Base salt tube or the pack of Tums I had put in there. I headed out on the run and had about 6:45 to finish it.

 

Run 26.2 miles: The start of the run after any bike leg feels very weird as the legs adjust to a different motion. I have to constantly remind myself that after a mile or so it would feel right, so I just kept moving. It wasn’t long before I came to the first aid station. I knew I needed some calories so I did the very thing I knew not to do and ate a Clif gel. It didn’t take long before my stomach was not happy about that. From then on, anything I ate didn’t seem to want to absorb. I kept a decent pace for a little while, then walked some, ran some and just generally kept moving forward. A really nice man from Costa Rica was walking. He was an elite age grouper, but was struggling with leg pain. He was 4 miles from the finish, I was just 4 miles from the start of the run. We chatted some and he said he was frustrated with the cheating drafters on the bike course as well. I would run ahead for a little, then when I got to an aid station, go through it and try to drink and get some calories. He would catch up, and say,”there you are!” We did this for his last 3 miles, then he moved on ahead and the last I saw of him was the final turn around where we gave high fives and he said, “good luck!’ and took the path that leads to the finish. About mile nine, my leg started to cramp up again and I could not bend my knee. I would walk until it went away, then run until it came back. Finally, I reached my special needs bag with some Aleve, and the Tums I had put in it as well as Base salt. This was enough to get me going, but I knew I was getting close to the 17 mile cut off. Around mile 13 I found a nice woman named Elizabeth Bennett who was on her last lap and would easily finish. I asked her if she would carry my honor list with her across the finish line just in case I didn’t make it and she happily agreed to do it. By this time, it was dark and the running crowd was thinning out. I was on my second lap and came to an aid station where Denis found me. He said Aimee was about two minutes ahead of me so I tried to run and catch up to her. He stayed with me and I finally caught her. She wasn’t doing too well and didn’t want to hold me back, Denis texted her husband and Dad and told them where she was so they could find her and I reluctantly went on ahead. It was getting close to the cut of at the 17 mile mark and I was not able to run much because of my leg. I just kept moving forward in hopes that I could make it. Mile 17 came and there was an Ironman official to tell me that I had not made the cutoff. He removed my timing chip, and my day was over just like that.

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You would think that would be a deflating moment to be pulled off the course 9 miles before completion, but it wasn’t. In fact, I felt pretty okay with myself because I knew that I had not given up, the rules of the game just got me, and I knew that both mentally and physically, I could have kept going if there had not been that intermediate cutoff. I felt surprisingly accomplished even though I only completed 93% of the course. I didn’t get to hear Mike Reilly call me an Ironman, and I wish I could have, but I am not discouraged. I gave it all I had with what I had on the day and I feel like that is a win. One day, I will try again.

Thank you for following along. An endeavor like this cannot be done without the help of others so I would like to thank Aimee for being the best training partner and friend for this race, she did the work with me side by side and deserves congratulations for getting as far as she did. I am glad we did this together. Thanks to Wendi and Tami for being our bike trainer workout friends during the cold winter days and for their support as we prepared. Charles, who came along and lifted the load by doing the simple things like dishes and cooking while we were relaxing. Kevin and Diane who came out to cheer us on. My parents deserve thanks for their support and for staying at our house while we were gone to make sure things were running smoothly, and also to David and Zoe who supported me from afar. I thank the Team Sirius Tri Club members for their support in my fundraising and encouragement. My special thanks goes to Meredith who has been an extraordinary help to me in more ways than I can list. I am humbled that she took an interest in me and now so thankful for her friendship. And finally, to Adam and Denis who put up with a less than clean house at times, took up the slack in the chores and cooking, and generally were helpful in dozens of ways, showing me love and encouragement and putting up with all my triathlon talk.

This is the end of my blog, but not the end of triathlon for me. I will spend the remainder of the summer doing shorter races.  I want to thank everyone who followed, and supported me, and especially everyone who donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I will leave my fundraising page open until the Ironman World Championships on October 13. Please take a moment and donate today to this effort to end breast cancer.

Thanks for your support!

Julie

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Twenty-Four: Ironman Texas Part 1

“Anticipation, I suppose, sometimes exceeds realization.”- Amelia Earhart

It has taken me a couple of days to process the whole Ironman experience. I am not sure I can capture everything that happened, but I will try to encapsulate the week of adventure as best I can.

Arrival in Texas: After a very early morning flight, we arrived and were pleasantly surprised by the lack of humidity that we were expecting.  Entering into the Woodlands, we discovered why it is named so. The whole town seems to be hidden among the trees and there were no landmarks to get our bearings. I was never really able to get myself grounded on direction. We had rented a VRBO home and it was a great place with a pool and hot tub, an outdoor kitchen, plenty of bedrooms and space for everyone. Our crew for the first two days was Aimee and her Dad, Denis and me, with Wendi joining us on Thursday and Kevin, Aimee’s husband, and Diane, her personal trainer coming Friday.

3 days before the race: Aimee and I started the day with a short, easy run. It went well and we felt good. Later, we went to the Athletes Village and picked up our bikes, checked in for the race, bought our race souvenirs, and attended the race briefing. After that we just relaxed at the house and later Denis and I went to Bible class with the nice folks at Woodlands Church of Christ.

 

2 days before the race: This was a big day for us. It started out with a swim in one of the local pools that was hosting athletes. Aimee and I got there early and were able to share a lane. I think because the lanes were marked, “Professional”, “Very good”, “Good”, and “Good gravy, I’m doing what on Saturday?” which we took and probably no one else wanted to use. After the swim we hustled over to the Ironman Village for the pro panel. On the way, I received some surprising news in the form of Dr. Langer being right there in The Woodlands on business and staying at a hotel overlooking the village. She came down and met us for a little bit to give us some encouragement. That was just some extra sprinkles on what would be a very good day. Following the pro panel, we made sure to meet Michelle Vesterby, who back in December sent us a nice encouraging video while we were on a long trainer ride. I took her some famous Oregon Moonstruck chocolates. Next, Denis and Charles went to pick up Wendi from the airport while Aimee and I waited for Meredith Kessler to finish their pro race briefing and do a podcast with Ironwomen. We had pre arranged that afterwards, we could meet for a few minutes. (This is where I must say that I am grateful to Meredith for her encouragement, advice and support, as well as the many things she has done for me during the past year. Among them the most generous being securing VIP passes for our support crew. This allowed them to have special viewing areas of various parts of the race course, plus food, and to be at the finish line.) We met Meredith, her husband, Aaron, and their 5 month old son MAK who was quite hungry and really wanted us to get out of there so his mom would feed him. We were able to give her a few thank you gifts for her generosity, hold MAK, and take a couple of photos. It was the highlight of the day. Once we got back to the house, we rested a bit, then went to the pre-race banquet, which with our VIP passes allowed us to skip the  long dinner line and get prime seats. The evening was meant to inspire the athletes. One of those athletes was Kirstie Serrano, a breast cancer survivor who I highlighted in a previous post. We finally got to meet in person and that also was very meaningful as I was able to get a photo with her and the special jersey that contains her name among the other breast cancer patients. With that, we ended our day and went home.

1 day before the race: Some nerves started kicking in on Friday before the race. We decided to skip the open water swim on the advice of Meredith to avoid any chance of getting unwanted germs from the water.  Instead, we tried to sleep in, and then took our time getting our gear bags together. We went in the early afternoon to check our bikes into transition and drop off our bike and run bags. Then we went back to the village so Wendi could go through the Ironman store and get her souvenirs. Afterwards, it was back to the house to rest for the remainder of the day and evening. Charles and Aimee went to the airport to pick up Kevin and Diane.

 

This is a long blog post, so I will continue later with the race wrap up. {I literally need to go back to being a mom now and get to the grocery store. :)} Check back soon!

Twenty-Three!

“Racing is the fun part; it’s the reward of all the hard work.”-Kara Goucher

All the hard work is in the books. Now it is time for the fun part. Race week is upon us and my thoughts are on weather, water temperature, am I forgetting anything as I pack, and will we get to the airport on time.

Aimee and I dropped our bikes for transport to Texas. The guy at the bike shop will also be doing the race, so that was nice to know another Oregon racer. We are both feeling ready and excited to finally get to race our first Ironman.

Our last few long swims took place at the local parks and recreation pool. It’s good practice for open water since part of the pool has no lane dividers and we get get sloshed around like in the lake. We have been advised by Meredith and Team Sirius coaches to not swim in the lake the day before the race for the sake of germs etc. I try to put that thought out of my mind and on race day will do my best to keep any water out of my mouth, yuck! We will find a pool and practice swim there instead.

The weather looks promising so far and perhaps not too hot. It will still be warm compared to here, but not in the 90’s or anything outrageous as far as I can see in the weather report, however we have been told from someone who lives there that it is quite unpredictable so Aimee and I will be ready for anything.

This is my plan for the week: Monday- swim/short bike, packing and making sure everything is set for Adam and my parents who will stay with him. Tuesday is a very early 5 am flight to Houston with Aimee and her dad, Charles, where we will then go to the house we rented, grocery shop, take a little run, relax and get ready for the rest of the week. Wednesday we check in, pick up our bikes, get them back to the house and take a short spin. We’ll also drive the bike course, relax, and Denis and I will go to Bible class at Woodlands Church of Christ in the evening. Thursday we’ll swim a bit, then be geeky Ironman fans and spend a little time at the Ironman Village for the pre-race briefing, the pro panel, plus meeting a few pros. Major goals: Meeting Meredith, Michelle Vesterby, and Angela Naeth. Denis will pick up Wendi from the airport while we are there then later in the evening we will all go to the pre-race banquet. Friday is a big day too. We’ll check out the swim start and the course, check in our bikes and our transition bags, try to relax and Charles will pick up Aimee’s husband, Kevin, and her personal trainer, Diane, from the airport that evening and we’ll get to bed early. Saturday, of course is race day. We’ll be up around 4 am to get ready and head to the transition area where we ready our bikes with our hydration and fuel, pump up the tires, and generally make sure all things are in place. Then we’ll walk over to the race start where it all begins. Race time is 6:40am CDT. It is a rolling start, so we’ll be in the water sometime before 7am, probably more like 6:50. I have a rough idea of how the day may go barring any unusual difficulties. Swim should take me about 90 minutes give or take 5 minutes. Bike will be 7-8 hours, and if I am feeling okay at the end of the bike, the run will be 5-6.5 hours. I expect to finish between 9pm-midnight CDT. If I finish before that, then I have had an extraordinary day. If I don’t finish by midnight then something went very wrong.

If you want to follow along,  you can download the Ironman Tracker app and put my name or bib number (1491. Aimee 1465) and it will notify you as I pass timing mats. Or you can follow at Ironmanlive.com. There is usually a video feed of at least the finish line. Sometimes for these regional championships, there is live commentating of the pro race.

Thanks for following along on this year of training. I will update my Itriforyou Facebook page with photos during the week and on race day, Wendi will keep it updated.

I have appreciated the encouragement and support to get to this week. If God is willing I will be at the finish line on Saturday. Please remember that I am racing for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and if you have had in mind to donate, today is a good day for it. Thank you.

 

 

Twenty-two

“Triathlon doesn’t build character. It reveals it.”- unknown

We are two weeks from the start of Ironman Texas. It is hard to believe that Aimee and I have trained for almost an entire year, 6 months of it being an actual training plan. As I look over the last two weeks on my Training Peaks plan, I find it surreal that I have completed nearly everything. When I started, I had my doubts that I would be able to do all the hard things on the calendar, but I have. Even if I don’t make it to the finish line in time, I am the better for having the good health, discipline, and mental stamina to get myself to the start line, not to mention some pretty good memories, fun with friends along the way, plus getting to know new people and hearing the stories of breast cancer patients. I come out with the win not matter what the outcome on April 28th will be.

Aimee and I had a good solid week of training and we are now down to the logistical details of getting ourselves to the race venue. We decided to add a gear bag to our TriBike Transport reservation so we can send some of the more awkward items with the bikes like, a bike pump, helmets, shoes, pedals, hydration bottles, wetsuits, and a couple of bike tools. It’s hard to believe that we are already to the point where we will be dropping our bikes off in the coming week and meet them in Texas race week. We have also been trying to figure out what to do about our meals. We’ll shop and cook in for most of the week, but we are definitely going to catch all the Ironman experience we can so will go to the pre-race banquet and hopefully, the post-race one as well. While we are there in the days leading up to the race, we’ll scope out the course and find some place for our support crew to be located where they can watch the race, yet be comfortable as well. It’s a long day for them too.

Our race bib numbers were finally assigned. I am number 1491 and Aimee is number 1465. Not too far away from one another as far as racking bikes go.

As the time draws nearer to race day, I often think about the people on my honor list and what happens if I don’t make a bike or run cutoff. I have it covered and will be carrying a tiny list in my pockets. If I have to, I will hand it off to someone who will finish. Those names will cross the line one way or another.

Determination is what the Breast Cancer Research Foundation has to help researchers find new and better ways to in treating cancer. Please make your donation today.

Twenty-One

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.”-Bill Bowerman,

There is no doubt, the area where we live in Oregon can be wet. I thought the above quote was fitting as the highlight of my week was a 20 mile run in the rain, near the Nike campus.

It’s getting close. Week twenty one did bring some tough work, and I had to do it alone since Aimee was traveling on business, but I got it done and it gave me some confidence that perhaps, just maybe there is a glimmer of hope to not be finishing in the last hour of the race day. I’ll still be out there for a very, very long time, but maybe if conditions are right, not 17 hours.

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The nature park makes a 20 mile run a little less boring.

I had my final bike fit completed. New aero bars are in place, cables rerun, and everything feeling good. The test was an 80 mile ride that Aimee and I completed today, the only dry, warm day we’ll get this week. I believe there is some success in getting off that sore spot, it’s not perfect, but we rode the whole 80 miles and I wasn’t in agony. The question is can we go another 30? I think so. This ride was one I am glad we did because I tried a new water bottle on my aero bars and 20 miles in, the bracket broke in half. Thanks to some Infinity/Comcast guys, I was able to tape the bottle in place and it held for the rest of the ride. I don’t think I managed to hydrate as much as I should have though. The other thing that I tried was HoneyStinger gels. While they sit well with my stomach, they are a mess when trying to get it open and eat on the fly. Sticky fingers are not what I want for 112 miles, so I will discard the idea of using that product on the bike course.

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Aimee took the day off work since a weekday was the only chance for a dry ride.
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Tami was our support crew and met us at mile 50 with fresh hydration and fuel.

The racing season has officially begun this past weekend with Ironman Oceanside 70.3 and Ironman Texas 70.3. As a fan, I followed both races. Texas 70.3 brought the return of Mirinda Carfrae from maternity leave and she did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, it was as though she had not even left racing for over a year, after overcoming a nearly 5 minute deficit off the bike to run from 6th place into second. Rinny has pretty much perfect running form and is able to come off the bike whittle away at any deficit there might be. A few years ago, she came from 15 minutes behind off the bike at the Ironman World Championships to run into 1st place. She is that good. I am happy for her to start her comeback season so well. I am also looking forward to seeing some of my favorite pros out on the course in a few weeks close up in action and hoping for Meredith to also have a great show for her return to racing.

There was also another 10 year remembrance last week. Ten years ago, the ladies from church made me a quilt to comfort me during my cancer treatment. The memory came up on Facebook, so I will share a photo here. It is a humbling thing, and I still appreciate every woman who had a part in making it and who helped me and our family in many ways.

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Getting through cancer without support is difficult. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is funding ways to improve treatment and outcomes for breast cancer patients. Please donate today and support them.

Twenty

“It doesn’t matter if you’re sprinting for an Olympic gold medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with the homemade brownies. If you never confront pain, you’re missing the essence of the sport” – Scott Martin

A bike fit was in order for week twenty recovery week. I went to Western BikeWorks where a very nice young man named Michael, spent nearly 4 hours working with me to get a good fit on my Quintana Roo bike. We’re not quite finished yet as I needed to replace my aero bars with something a little more adjustable and their bike tech guys couldn’t get me in until this week (It requires the rerunning of shifter and brake cables). I think once the final fit is complete, I will have about as comfortable a ride as one can get for 112 miles.

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Meanwhile, Michael got my bike positioned as closely as possible to the great fit so I could end my week with Aimee doing our homemade half Ironman. We started at the gym where we set up our bikes for transition in the bike racks and Denis kindly kept an eye on them while we swam. Aimee, once again had a stellar swim despite the terrible cold she was battling. I did pretty well myself and finished under the time I had hoped to complete it. It was a nice day, but still a little cold for riding without long pants and sleeves, so our transition took a little longer to get prepared for that. We headed out on the bike and even with the stoplights and busy road crossings, met Denis at our halfway point within 5 minutes of our predicted time. He provided us with fresh hydration bottles and fuel. At that stop, we overheard a man talking about his boss who was training for the same race in Texas. Turns out, it is a woman I have met before through Christine. She’s a pretty strong local racer and I bet will by trying for a Kona slot. Nice to know other Oregonians will be there too.

The second half of our ride was a little harder as Aimee’s cold was getting the best of her and she started dragging a bit, but we finished in a fair time and I was happy with it. By this time, the sun had come out and we could actually run in shorts! I kept a warm shirt on though so I could try to mimic heat as much as I could. The first half of the run, wasn’t much. Poor Aimee was struggling to keep even a run/walk going. We decided that she needed to cut it short and go home to rest. Denis picked her up at our predetermined halfway stop where I picked up fresh hydration and fuel. I finished the last half alone. I felt good until the last mile when my stomach suddenly began telling me that I was really very hungry! It was 4:30 pm and I had not eaten real food since about 5:30 am, so I guess it is something to keep in mind because on race day, I will still have about 5ish hours left to go. Hopefully, I will fuel well enough to stave off hunger until the end. The whole day took 9.5 hours, but when I look back on my actual swim/bike/run times, I did it just under 8 hours, an acceptable time for me. That extra hour and a half was dealing with the things we wouldn’t normally have to do during a race. The day was successful in my book and gave me a boost of confidence that I just may make the full distance.

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Let’s not lose sight of why I am racing in less than 4 weeks. I am supporting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and raising funds so that researchers can find better ways to locate and treat breast cancer. I would appreciate any support in way of donations. Just click the donate link above.

Nineteen!

“The marathon is not really about the marathon, it’s about the shared struggle. And it’s not only the marathon, but the training”. ~ Bill Buffum

I am tired….week nineteen was all about running, the most difficult part of triathlon for me. I haven’t ever taken to running very well, but it is the means to the end of the race, so I try my best to employ the advice on form and fitness. I believe that I have gotten better and learned a lot, but clearly I remain a tortoise. I am okay with that as long as I can keep moving on race day.

The week had some early sunny, dry days so I decided to do my long run on Tuesday rather than Thursday. I also decided to take on something that I felt would be a challenge in some ways, but not so bad in others. I completed 17 miles on the local high school track! The reasons I chose this was because, 1. it’s completely flat, 2. there are no traffic lights. 3. I could have all my hydration and nutrition nearby to practice with, and 4. It was a mental challenge to stay on the track that long. 17 miles is equal to two special needs classes coming on the track and 3 PE classes on the track. I had to do some weaving in and out of the kids who were sometimes going the wrong way. Aimee’s husband is a PE teacher there, so he cheered me on a bit while he made his students run laps. One of the things I worked on was something Meredith had suggested in her email and that was to try and negative split the run. I was only marginally successful. I was able to 4 of the last 8.5 miles at a faster pace, but then I stopped to use the porta-potty and when I started to run again, my legs rebelled against returning to that pace. My fueling went really well, so overall, the whole idea worked for me.

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It looks like I covered every square inch.

Aimee and I ended the week with a mock Olympic triathlon. It was a chance to try out some new equipment in the form of our Roka Viper Swim skins. Neither of us have used a suit like this before. Aimee’s suit must have worked better than mine because she lapped me three times (I say this tongue in cheek, because she is a much better swimmer). I had the feeling I was going slow, but when I finished, my time was spot on for what I had hoped for. She was having a really great swim day! Since it was in the 30’s outside, we decided to do the spin bikes. Of course, halfway through we ended up being part of a spin class, but that actually helped a little to pass the time. Our final leg we ran outside 6 miles. I never thought I would ever get to the day when 6 miles seemed short! It was a good day and I think we did well for ourselves. Next Saturday, we will do a half ironman distance. We are very close to beginning our taper for the race. Hard to believe.

As for the sore that wouldn’t heal. It’s still there and being annoying. Next plan is visit the doctor, get a bike fit, and hope for the best.

Hope is what patients live with when faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer. Researchers are working hard to provide it. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is dedicated to funding them so new approaches to treatment can be discovered and hope will become reality. Please donate today.

Eighteen

“GCBU = get comfortable being uncomfortable – HUGE! This IS where the magic happens….the raw, subtle moment of pleasure and pain.”- Meredith Kessler, Professional Triathlete

6 weeks remain until Ironman Texas. I can say that I am dealing with bouts of nervousness. Nervous because I know that the day is going to bring pain. There’s no way it won’t, it’s just the way an Ironman goes. The above quote is from a long email I received from Meredith with her best advice, and explaining how to get through the day. I can’t even tell you how much Aimee and I appreciated getting that from her. It has helped in a number of ways to mentally and physically plan for April 28th. I am also excited. This is something far beyond my comfort zone and far beyond anything I ever thought I would do in my life, and I am excited to see how it will turn out.

Week eighteen was all about the bike. I have been battling a blocked sweat gland that has been causing me grief to no end on the bike. I had been carefully trying to get it to heal, but last week, during a group Zwift ride with Meredith and lots of other ladies (that was pretty fun, I might add), I got off the bike to find that the skin had broken. This has made me have to miss a few rides to try to heal it. In my desperation to find an answer, I reached out to Cobb Cycling. My saddle is a Cobb saddle so I told them my problem and they asked me to send a video of me riding. The next day, I received an email with instructions for how to correct my positioning to help with the issue. This wasn’t just an email from a customer service guy, it was an email from John Cobb himself! That is excellent customer service! I applied the changes and after taking my bike in for a tune up and to trade the trainer wheel for the road wheel, Aimee and I struck out on a 75 mile ride on Saturday. Did it help? It must have because the sore didn’t get worse. It is still a problem, so I am taking the week off of getting on the bike. Hope that it heals.

 

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is my choice. It is not a choice breast cancer patients get. Cancer treatment is uncomfortable. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is dedicated to helping researchers find better ways to treat breast cancer. Please donate today and help them succeed in their goals.

 

 

 

Seventeen

Week seventeen doesn’t have much to report. It was just an average week, yet it did have a high point with a beautiful sunny day for a bike ride at the end.

The things I am working on now are: Race kit, making my packing list, getting my tri bike off the trainer and tuned up for outdoor riding. Aimee and I are using Tribike Transport and we have to drop off our bikes ten days before the race for transport so we’ll only have a month outside on them.

As for week seventeen workouts, I hit them all including a wet, windy, cold miserable 15 mile run. I felt accomplished after doing it because I was awfully tempted to take a shortcut home a few times. By the last crossing light I was at the point where stopping was almost more painful than continuing, so I plodded on the last 2.5 miles and finished. The next day was a 1.8 mile swim followed on Saturday by my long ride.

Sort of an uneventful week as far as it all goes. Week 18 has some promise to it for  more exciting updates. Stay tuned….

Sixteen: Kirstie Serrano

Kirstie Serrano is a recent triple negative breast cancer survivor whose name has been added to my list. Not only will I be racing for her, but I will also have the honor of racing alongside her. She is taking on Ironman Texas after finishing treatment not long ago.

Kirstie was diagnosed in August of 2016 just a few months before she and Juan were to be married. Her initial thoughts were of Juan and his kids, not wanting to put them through the emotional rigors of cancer, because 3 years earlier, they had lost Juan’s first wife and their mother to pancreatic cancer. She wanted to put things on hold, but Juan wasn’t daunted says Kirstie:

“That night I looked at Juan and told him, I am not going to do this to you or your family. Let’s put our plans on hold and take some time off… He told me “No way” I am the best partner to see you through this. You don’t have cancer WE Do!”

Shortly after, on October 22, 2016 Kirstie and Juan were married:

“We had an amazing wedding in the Florida keys. Juan told me from day one, that WE had cancer and on our wedding day he shaved his head and said if you are going to get married with no hair, so am I.”

 

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Kirstie is an avid cyclist and triathlete. It was her goal to remain active during her treatment. She continued to go on group rides and with the help of her cycling friends, made it through despite the fatigue.

“Riding kept me strong. I would struggle up hills and if the speed went past 28mph, my husband would come in front of me and say, “grab my wheel ” the stronger guys would ride next to me and put their hands on the center of my back and give me a push, they never let me drop.”

Kirstie is already an Ironman, having completed Ironman Florida in 2012. At the time, she thought it would be a one and done sort of thing, but today she is ready in 2018 to tackle Ironman Texas with Juan and a large group of her supportive friends to show that cancer can’t keep her down.

“I could not have done this without Juan and my tri and bike family.”

To we who have gone through cancer, the real heroes of our stories are the people who have stood by us through treatment. Without the support of a loving spouse, or friends, or family members, it is difficult to imagine surviving all that comes with a breast cancer diagnosis. I am thankful that most of the stories I have heard this past year include gratitude for the people who have stood by them. Everyone should have someone.

Today, is Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day, 3/3/2018. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is dedicated to the research and development of new treatments for patients with triple negative disease. Please give today in honor of Kirstie and to thank Juan and all the caregivers he represents.