Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Post Marathon Recovery

Post marathon blues? Yup, I got those too. But I think it's my body's way of telling me I'm depleted and need rest. I've been recovering amazingly well. I've been forcing myself to take time off from working out for this week--just stretching and walking. Ugh. I hate it. I'm itching to get my heart rate up. The fact that work is more stressful than ever and I'm moving doesn't help.
Immediately after the race, I downed a delicious smoothie, stretched and walked a lot. I was freezing, even in my tin foil blanket. It took forever to make it back to Union Square. We stood in line for the shuttle as the wind blew a fine mist upon us from the ocean across the street. I had planned upon an ice bath but by the time I got back to the hotel, I felt like an ice cube myself. Brent went to the hot tub to warm up. Even though it was probably the worst thing for me, I couldn't resist, and I followed him in. It felt wickedly delicious. With my belly full of smoothie and a turkey sandwich and my body warmed again, I fell into bed for a well-earned nap.
Brent took me out for dinner that night. Seafood and a heavenly brownie sundae in Ghirardelli's Square. I couldn't eat enough. My knees transmitted stabbing pain with every step as if 18 gauge needles had been stabbed through them. I had to hold onto Brent's arm and walk sideways downhill like a crab.
I dreaded waking up the next morning but surprisingly, I didn't feel too bad. It was tricky hopping off the shuttle at the airport. I had to use a lot of upper body strength and the railing to make it down the steep steps. After a massage that afternoon, I felt amazing and not nearly as torn up as I had anticipated. Again, I couldn't stop eating all Monday. It felt wonderful to down vast quantities of food and not feel stuffed.
48 hours later (Tuesday) is usually the worst. I popped out of bed and was delighted when I could walk about with no pain. I had none, nada, 0 soreness! Unbelievable. I forgot that I had run a marathon 48 hours ago and mistakenly broke into a lope, running back to lab after lunch (I prefer to run instead of walk to get to and fro). YEOWWW! My knees painfully reminded me that although I could walk pain-free, the needles of torture hadn't been removed yet. I wasn't ready to run.
I am pleased with how my first "stand alone" marathon went. My primary goal, especially after experiencing overtraining and such a long season, was to finish strong, have fun and want to do another one again. I'm signed up for Rock 'n Roll Marathon (San Diego) May 31st '09. Mission accomplished. I wish I could have gone faster but my body wasn't ready yet. It will come. Maybe on the next one. I think for my next marathon, if I want to increase my speed, I need to up my time in the weight room and do more on the bike for strength (this will also prevent injury). Also, I will include more speed workouts (weekly track torture sessions). Live and learn. Regardless, I had a lot of fun.
Lots of people have asked me how a "stand alone" marathon compares to an Ironman marathon. They are different as night and day. In an Ironman, you worry about pace a lot less. By the time you get to the marathon, you are somewhat delusional. All I cared about was getting to the finish; I didn't care when. It was much more of a journey, rather than a race. I also had much less pain in the Ironman marathon; my legs were completely numb. It was a blessing in disguise. My "stand alone" marathon was more painful for some reason. I was more concerned about pace; it felt more like a race. However, even though it was hard, it was nothing compared to the difficulty of an Ironman. In some respects that's nice because I feel like I have many many more marathons ahead of me, whereas an Ironman just takes more out of a person. They are different animals, and I love them both. My advice? Do them both and decide for yourself!
Time to enjoy my recovery. I can't wait to get moving again. I will probably swim and bike a lot to begin with and back off the running to allow my knees and legs to repair. Below you can find some useful links on post-marathon recovery. Other than that, it's time to enjoy my off-season! Which means....my annual season recap and next season's goals and planning is coming soon! As well as my YTD miles and comparison to prior seasons. Yippee!!! Lots of data to analyze!!!
smiling for the camera on the SF marathon course
Brent running alongside me for a few miles
getting through the tough miles

Post Marathon Recovery Links:

San Francisco Women's Marathon Race Report

I awoke at 5 am on Sunday, October 19th to a cold, foggy darkness. Just as predicted, the unusually warm and sunny weather had reverted overnight to typical San Fran chill. Anticipating cold weather, I pulled on my long-sleeved technical top, number 3325 carefully pinned in the center, shorts, gloves, and headband. I strapped on my FuelBelt, with 4 10-ounce bottles containing water+1 scoop of InfinIT each (~125 cals of simple carbs and a low amount of protein+electrolytes). My belt also had a pocket stuffed with a pack (200 cals) of Strawberry CliffBloks and an emergency baggie filled with Thermolytes, Advil, Immodium, GasX, and Tums. It was foggy so I could skip the sunglasses. I probably could skip the visor too but chose to don my Ironman Arizona finisher hat anyway, just for good luck. I poured baby powder into my anti-blister Wright running socks and slipped my feet into my freshly broken in Brooks Adrenaline running shoes, complete with customized orthotics. I forced myself to lace my shoes only once, resisting the urge to tie and re-tie them repeatedly. The first time is always best, I told myself.
By 5:30, I was eating breakfast. Right on schedule. Anticipating my nerves, I had selected several options for breakfast. I knew it would be easier to snack and nibble on several different types of foods with a nervous stomach, rather than force down a large amount of 1 thing. I got down about half of the Instant Maple Brown Sugar oatmeal, most of the lowfat yogurt, several swallows of an Odwalla Mango Tango smoothie, and 1/4 cup of coffee. I felt stuffed. Luckily, that was about 400 cals so I was spot-on. I stretched and then jumped-up-and-down vigorously to stimulate a good pre-race bathroom call. Unfortunately, my stomach overreacted and started spasming. Knowing my finicky stomach all-too-well, I decided to pop 1 Immodium and 1 Tums.
smiling nervously before the start
It was time to line up. It took forever to ride the elevator down to the lobby. The car was packed with women, ready to run. We spilled onto the streets, joining thousands and thousands of women, squishing into position around Union Square. At 6:45, I had to pee again, even though I had gone at least 4x already. Brent looked at me in disbelief and then led me to the Westin in pursuit of a bathroom with a short line. Tons of women were nestled inside the lobby, stretching and staying warm. The bathroom door was locked. Same thing on the 2nd floor. You're kidding me! We headed back to the first floor on the stairs to avoid the elevator wait, only we couldn't get back to the first floor. We were trapped inside some dark, damp alleyway. I was contemplating peeing there when 2 other girls stumbled upon us. "We can't get out!" they exclaimed. Great. I'm going to miss my marathon because I'm trapped inside the stairwell of the Westin. We finally found a door and pushed it open, unsure and not caring whether it was an emergency exit. It wasn't. We found ourselves mysteriously dumped out onto the street. Feeling a little befuddled, I wound my way back towards Union Square.
Don't worry! I still found an empty Port-a-Potty for my final pre-race pee!
By this time I had minutes to spare. I tried pushing my way up to the 10:00 min/mile slot to no avail. I showed other people in the crowd my gray bracelet, confirming that was where I was supposed to be. They looked at me unblinkingly. No one cared. They all had the same problem. Great idea, those bracelets. Worked swell. I realized I was stuck in the 15 min/mile chute. At first I panicked. Then I came to realize it didn't really matter. It was a marathon. I was supposed to start slow. I stripped off my warm-up pants and vest and handed it to Brent, my designated race caddie. He gave me a good-luck kiss and backed away. As the clock counted down, spectators generously made room for us athletes "stuck" on the sidewalk. The airhorn blew and the clock started ticking. Surprisingly, I was pushed forward fairly quickly. As thousands of bodies proceeded down the course, a gush of cold air hit me, making me realize how much we had been buffered by body heat in the chute.
nestled among the masses before the gun goes off

I crossed the timing mat and started running. I had begun my first official marathon. I focused on falling into a gentle rhythm for the first mile. I weaved carefully in-and-out of other runners and walkers, watching my footfalls and conservative with my pace. One woman leaped over me, landing on my foot, nearly tripping herself in the process. She apologized and continued onward. I kept my cool, pretending nothing had happened, eternally grateful that I had not fallen. I was terrified that I would trip and fall over one of the other thousands of pairs of feet on the course, taking myself out of the game. As the course turned onto the Embarcadero at Mile 1, I realized I had to pee again. This wasn't possible! Nasty side effect of the Immodium. Dammit! I veered off to the Port-a-Potties and had a quick go of it. Nope, I wasn't imagining things. I definitely had to pee. Unbe-freakin'-lievable. However, I felt much better afterwards, only adding 1 minute to my time.
The Embarcadero was flat and cool with serene views of the Bay. I was starting to enjoy myself. The miles were flying by. I was running conservatively. Effortlessly. A bit on the slow side but since it was my first marathon, I was trying not to become too obsessed with pace. We headed through Fisherman's Wharf and the tantalizing, warm smell of freshly baked sourdough bread enveloped me. This was juxtaposed sharply with an overpowering smell of fish. Luckily, my stomach was feeling okay; otherwise, I'm sure it would have turned. Then, we passed by Ghirardelli Square, and I was rescued by the sweet, rich aroma of dark chocolate.
The potpourri of scents abruptly ended with a sharp, steep hill, yanking me from my reverie. I tilted slightly forward, and focused on finding a slow running rhythm that didn't tax my breath. My breathing remained slow and even. We headed into the Presidio, and the real climbing began. Long and steep, the road snaked up and up and wound around until it disappeared from sight. I continued my slow, even running rhythm, making sure my breathing remained steady. I didn't realize how hard my legs were working, however. My hip flexors were being put to the test, along with my hamstrings and glutes. At the time, it only felt like a bit of a push. That bit of a push would come back later to bit me in the ass (no pun intended). As I climbed and climbed, my mantra was "What goes up must come down." I repeated this over and over to myself. I focused on staying relaxed and positive. At the top, I drank in the spectacular views of the fog, clinging mystically to the Golden Gate Bridge, and the clusters of San Francisco houses down below, brightly colored against the gray backdrop in a menagerie of colors.

Then, we began our wicked descent. Normally, I love running downhill. Normally, I'm really good at it. Not today. I don't know if it's because I had lost too much quad strength from backing off on the biking. Or because the hills in the marathon were more than I was used to. Maybe the downhills were simply too steep. Regardless, my knees began to ache and my hips cried out in protest as I began the descent. I shuffled from side to side to break up the steep downhill angle. Brent appeared at mile 9, cheering me on. I tried hard not to grimace. I had not expected to be in any pain this early in the game. I tried hard to push mounting thoughts of doubt away.
forcing a smile on the downhill

I reached the breakers by Golden Gate Park and relished in the recovery offered by the flat, straight road. The miles were flying by. I had to work hard on the hills but mentally, the climbs gave my brain something to occupy me with, allowing me to forget about the distance. Even though the hills were sucking the life force from me and draining all strength from my legs, I enjoyed what they did for my mental state of being. Running through Golden Gate Park was wonderful. I gazed at the bison, the tall trees, enveloped in mist, and the delicate orange flowers along the road. The view took my mind off my suffering a bit.
My nutrition was spot-on. I was taking in plenty of InfinIT. The liquid calories settled easily in my stomach in the cool weather. If anything I was ahead of the game. I had planned on drinking 1 bottle every 10K, and 1-2 CliffBloks. By mile 11, I had already downed 2 bottles of InfinIT and consumed 3 CliffBloks, 1/3 of a banana, and a large orange slice. Unfortunately, I was also taking in 1 cup of water at each aid station, as prescribed by my marathon nutrition plan. 1 shot of InfinIT plus 1 cup of water every mile. In the damp, low 50-degree weather, however, this was too much. I was overhydrating. I had to pee. Again. Ugh. I hated stopping because it broke my rhythm. Walking briskly through an aid station to grab a cup of water is one thing. Coming to a complete halt to sit down in a nasty Port-A-Potty is quite another. By mile 12, I couldn't take it anymore. I stopped to pee for the 2nd time.

I was becoming obsessed with my pace. I had spotted the 9:44 min/mile pacer in the Presidio and had delusions of grandeur of staying with him. Of course, I knew this was impossible. I was aiming for a 4:20-4:30 marathon, not a sub-4. But all rationale goes to shit once in race mode. I was trying to catch the pacer. Pretty stupid. After stopping to pee, I tried picking up the pace again. This would have been a suicide mission but luckily, my legs started to ache. This ended up being a blessing in disguise. I popped 1 salt tablet and 1 Advil to dull the screaming pain in my legs. The hills had taken more of a toll than I had anticipated. My legs quieted. I reasoned that if 1 salt tablet was good, 2 must be better, right? Wrong! I popped a 2nd Thermolyte, and my stomach mounted a mutiny to be reckoned with. It began churning, bloating and pouring out acid. It felt like little gremlins were setting off dynamite in my gut. The spasms rose up into my chest. I actually wondered for a moment if I was suffering a heart attack. Great. Now I have to take more crap to compensate for the crap I just took. I knew I couldn't keep going like this. I forced down a Tums and a GasX. I slowed my pace to allow the churning in my stomach to subside. Glancing at my watch, I promised myself if I could just wait it out 5 minutes, just 5, I would feel better. It worked. By mile 14, I had quelled the rebellion. By mile 16, my stomach was my obedient companion once again.

toughing it out at mile 16
My morale, however, was quite another beast. Realizing how much my pace had slowed, I felt the shadows of negativity cloud around me. I'm so slow. I thought I could go faster. This hurts way more than I thought it would. I suck. Why do I do this? Luckily, the thoughts dissipated as quickly as they arose. I pressed onward and tried to go numb. My mind went blank but my legs were screaming in pain. After the stomach-thing, I knew better than to try another Advil. I knew I didn't need salt in this weather as well (I had electrolytes in my InfinIT); salt would also just upset my stomach. I relinquished to have rebellious legs rather than a rebellious gut. It was a trade-off but one I eagerly agreed to. I headed out of Golden Gate Park and turned down the Great Highway. I listened to the gentle roar of the waves crashing on the beach. An icy damp breeze whistling off the ocean cut to my core. The sun refused to penetrate through the gray clouds overhead, and I was cruelly reminded of the typical cold weather San Francisco had brewed up for today. I regretted not having a vest.

one of the "costumes" Brent captured while spectating
Brent came out of nowhere at mile 16 at one of my darkest moments. Mile 16 is my mile 20. Mile 16 is the worst. I have run 16 damn miles. However, I still have 10 more to go. I feel pretty beat up and worn-out but I still have an unfathomable distance to cover. Anticipating this, Brent had strategically placed himself at my low point to faithfully dig me out. He ran next to me for 2 miles. I ranted bitterly about my stomach, my legs, the bumps in the road. "Are the miles getting longer?" I asked. "They should be at this point," he agreed, comforting me slightly. He let me complain and complain. I got it out of my system and fell quiet. Then, he began talking about the costumes he had seen in the race, the other runners he had seen, and the race from his point of view. I listened eagerly. It instantly took my mind off how much pain I was in. By the time I reached mile 18, I was a new woman. I had been rescued valiantly from my funk. He wished me luck and said he would see me at mile 24. Mile 24? Mile 24! That's only 2 miles from the finish, I thought. And I'm almost to mile 19 now. That's only 5 miles away. I can do that, I reasoned. The course broke off and headed towards the zoo and Lake Merced. Okay, I'm going to do a loop around the lake, and I'll see you soon!
reaching the 30K point in renewed spirits
I headed toward the lake in a good frame of mind. I climbed up yet another damn hill and then began the trek of drudgery around the vast lake. I had not realized how large Lake Merced was. "I don't understand," a girl complained worriedly. "We have to run around the whole thing?" Having studied the course map thoroughly and repeatedly, I knew gloomily that we did. I stared unblinkingly at the lake, searching in vain for a road, a bridge, a ferry, a line of evenly placed rocks, anything that might mean the course cut across the lake earlier. No such luck. I blocked it out of my mind and focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Mile 20, where is mile 20? I just kept looking for the next mile marker. Mile 20 came and went. This is where it gets hard, I thought.
I was running slowly now. So slowly. But I was running. I had a good rhythm, and the pain in my legs had subsided to a dull ache. I could do a dull ache. I had relinquished hopes of a speedy marathon. Instead, I had a quiet acceptance of my new-found agonizingly slow pace. At least I was running, I thought. I wasn't in pain, and I had a positive frame of mind. I did a mental check. I was ahead of the game nutrition-wise. I was confident I wasn't going to bonk. My energy levels felt good. I had passed mile 20, and I didn't feel that bad. The worst of it is over, I told myself. Every long race has its low point. In this race, it had occurred at mile 13. Knowing that was as bad as it was going to get bolstered my confidence. I felt blissful, almost euphoric, taking comfort in the fact that it was not going to anywhere near as hard as that GI bout at the halfway point.
Mile 21 passed and a spectator mentioned cheered me on. "Way to get up that hill!" Hill? I hadn't even realized I was climbing. The slope had been gradual but persistent and subtly evil for the past 2 miles. That explained my slow pace. The wicked false flat phenomenon had raised its ugly head yet again! The road curved to the left and was sharply slanted to the side. Maybe it wasn't sharply slanted but at this late stage of the game, it felt unfathomably steep. Stabbing pain shot through my right knee, and I limped a few steps, relieved when the pain subsided. Sharp pain like that would have stopped me dead in my tracks if it had persisted. Just when I thought I could take the tilt no longer, the road straightened out and flattened. I reveled in the straightaway, trying to allow my poor, abused legs recover.
Mile 22 had yet another hill. I couldn't believe it. Someone had sadistically put that hill here on purpose. I just knew it. The course director was probably sipping on a pina colada right, laughing sinisterly. However, I had completed traversing the never-ending Lake Merced. Somehow, I had circled its great impossible expanse. The aid station handed out Ghirardelli chocolates. I love chocolate. I took one greedily. However, there was no way I wanted one now. I think I took one more out of having something to do, to play with, to take my mind off things. I unwrapped and nibbled on a corner. Yuck. Clearly, that wasn't going to work. I stuck it in my FuelBelt for later.
At this point, I had my glorious moment of grandiose confusion. Everyone experiences this moment at some point on a long run. For me, on this course, on this day, it was at mile 22.5. I had finished circling the lake but hadn't realized it yet. All I cared about was getting to the top of that hill. It was the last hill on the course but that realization hadn't yet dawned on me. I saw other runners heading out to the lake as I wound my way back. It was the intersection point. I had been envious of the runners finishing their loop on my way out. Now, I couldn't recognize that the runners on the other side were where I had just come from. I thought it was where I was going. Some sort of unexpected out-and-back? Frantically, I tried to go over the course map again in my head. I had studied it intently, and I didn't remember an extra out-and-back. Had they changed the course on me at the last minute? Would I have to run up another hill? How much longer was this torture to go on? I was suddenly envious of the runners heading the other way, believing they were farther up ahead on the course than I.
All of a sudden, I shot out again on the Great Highway. I was heading downhill towards the final straightaway which led towards the finish line. In a flash, I knew exactly where I was, and I was exuberant. Extremely relieved. I was just where I wanted to be. I passed mile 23. I could run 3 more miles. I was going to finish this thing. I grabbed a final cup of water at the last aid station and some Luna Moons. They were delicious.
mile 26. almost there!
Brent rejoined me at mile 24. I felt great. My legs were numb, and I was in the homestretch. I could see the finish now. 3 more stoplights. "I think I got it from here," I assured him. I passed mile 25 and the excitement within me began to build. 1 more mile, only 1 more mile. I can run 1 more mile. I glanced at my watch. 4:30. I picked up the pace. It hurt but I knew I could run just a little faster for 1 more mile. I wanted to finish in 4:40. Running a 10 minute mile had never been so hard in my life! I felt like I was flying, chugging along at a 4-minute mile, not eking out a 10 minute one. I didn't care. I was happy to be finishing the thing in such good shape. I headed into the chute and ran as hard as I could across the finish line. Such sweet, sweet victory! 4:40:04. I'll take it.
about to cross the finish!
A really HAWT fireman in a tux handed me a Tiffany's box. I unwrapped it and put on the necklace. I haven't taken it off since.

proudly displaying my Tiffany's box
wearing my finisher's necklace

happy to be done, in front of the windmill. Brr! It's cold!

Course Map and Results:
Here are my splits:
5k 0:31:58; 10:17 min/mi
10k 1:03:39; 10:14 min/mi
15k 1:36:33; 10:21 min/mi
13.1 Miles 2:13:12; 10:10 min/mi
25k 2:43:19; 10:30 min/mi
30k 3:17:27; 10:35 min/mi
35k 3:52:04; 10:40 min/mi
40k 4:26:37; 10:43 min/mi
Finish 4:40:04
Pace: 10:41 min/mi avg

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ready to Run

I'm as ready as I'm going to be. I did all the training. I just don't feel like I did. I guess I just worked a lot harder for my Ironman than I did for this marathon. But now it's Race Week, and I'm in full taper. It must be working--I'm nervous and jittery. I hope it goes well. Tomorrow, I fly to San Francisco to race in the Nike Women's San Francisco Marathon (Sunday). It will be hilly and hard. Gulp.

When I started training for this, I went a little nuts. Full of energy and still peaking after Ironman Arizona in April, I hit it verrry hard for a few months, trying to push my limits. For the first 9 weeks or so, I trained like a triathlete. I refused to give up my bike and swim and trained with Brent and other IMAZ-November buddies, in addition to my marathon-training. This proved to be too much for me. After my "Death Swim", I was a broken woman. After the Camp Pendleton Sprint Triathlon in August, it hit me: I was overtrained.

I took some well-deserved time off (weeks 16-19) before focusing specifically on the marathon. This turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. I backed off on my bike and swim, using it solely as cross-training. In other words, I trained for the marathon like a runner, not a triathlete, which is probably what I should have done in the first place. I also upped my weights and Yoga. Since I had reached 18 miles for my long run before taking the time off, I still had a huge running base to draw from. I started back (week 18) with a Prep week, only running 10 miles for a long run. But the next week, realizing time was running out, I upped my long run to 18 miles, probably not the wisest idea. But I ran very slowly, stretched and took an ice bath afterwards, and escaped from the workout injury-free. This put me back on track. I knocked out my 20 mile run the next week, sandwiched in the Heartbreak Ridge Half Marathon (which I used as a quick tempo run) the week after that, and followed this up with a final 20-mile long run. I began a gradual 3-week taper. However, I only backed off of my long run in taper week 1, shortening the 20 miles to 16 miles but focused on adding speedwork to the 16-miler. These last 2-weeks, I've been tapering pretty hard, focusing on rest and recovery. I feel like a great big lazy-ass. Jittery, full of energy, just where I should be when a taper is in full effect. The purpose of my workouts now are to loosen my muscles, remind my feet how to move, and sleep well at night. So there it is folks. My marathon training plan. I guess I did the work. I did several 16s and 18s and 2 20s. I just hope my body remembers how to do 26.2 on race day.

It's been a long season. This will be my final race for 2008, my final race as a 30-year old. To be honest, I'm looking forward to my off season. I need the rest. 2009 is already promising to be a killer race season.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TCSDs Barely Legal HIM--Other Accounts

In the last post, I gave a race report from the director's point of view. Now, I'm giving you the account from the particpants' point of view.
Take a look:

"As I readied for the ocean swim I noticed Gina Thomas very nervous and undecided as to weather she would even attempt the swim or not. I volunteered to be her swim buddy and she bravely decided to give it a go. Two years ago I was Gina's swim buddy on one of her first ocean swims in Carlsbad and we seemed to work well together. So, it was a natural for me to swim buddy with her again (see the third picture down on your blog of the ocean pictures - that's me standing between the two women).
It took some work to coax Thomas back to help out. He was raring to go and wanted to swim the entire course. Being the accomplished swimmer he is, he saw no problem with the waves and initially felt I would have no problem helping out both Gina and the other gal (Tracy). I reeled him in and upon his return he faithfully stayed by the other gal just as I did with Gina until both women concluded the surf (waves coming in at 3-5 second intervals), and the rolling 10-12' swells felt a little like being on a roller coaster. Both women felt that the waves and surge were a bit too much to take on that day.
It takes a lot of courage to go into strong surf when you're scared and every fiber of your being tells you not to do it. My hat is off to both ladies for making the brave attempt that they did directly confronting their fears. But, ocean swimming can only feel comfortable after making it a routine and having at least a few dozen swims under your belt.
After Thomas and I helped both ladies back to shore we decided to swim to the first buoy just to get in at least a little swim practice. We hung out at the first buoy for a while noticing how strong the surge was moving us Southward at the rate of nearly 1 meter a second. In 15 seconds we'd drifted almost 15 meters South of the optic orange buoy. As a result of the surge, the returning swimmers returned on a path considerably Southeast from the line they took going out to the white buoy turn-around point. This gives you an idea of how much harder the returning leg of the swim must've been for those completing the entire course than the initial Southward leg. After watching the leading 7 swimmers round the final buoy, Thomas and I headed in to the beach to prepare for the next leg of the event."
--Steve Pierce

"Great race/event! Most fun I’ve had training all year, even the crazy swim was fun! The ukulele was a great touch. Someone at work was commenting today on the wacky people in grass skirts on the 56 bike path wondering what it was all about. Thanks to everyone for putting it together." --Dean Luvisa

"Just a quick note to thank Rachel and all of the great volunteers who made yesterday's Barely Legal Half IM so much fun. There was a bunch of really great people manning the check-in and aid stations who sacrificed their own training (and sleep) Saturday morning so we could race, er get a good work out in. The ukeleli at Ellen Browning Scripps park was a great touch and got us through the last couple of miles of the half marathon leg with smiles on our faces. Pizza at the end was delicious too as well as the granola and everything! So, a great big Triclub thank you to everyone in the grass skirts that made the day so much fun!
BTW, I had to go back to the Shores this morning to complete my swim leg from yesterday. I bagged the swim approaching the first bouy as I was getting pretty bounced around in the stormy conditions. Much, much, much better this morning. Thanks! "
--Rob Lindbloom

"I just want to give a big thank you to Rachel for putting this together! I was having such a great time, I podiumed in "third" out of the swim (if you think I cut it short, well..you're right), and went out riding with Steve Pierce. Unfortunately ten miles into it on the bike path, I collided into a pole. Thank you to Steve and Jim Fix for caring for me until Rachel could pick me up and then thanks to Thomas Johnson for taking me to the ER until my best friend/training partner Wendi could be there. I was definitely in God's hands as I came out with with a shoulder and hand contusions, some road rash and there is a tendon in my shoulder that is a bit stretched. I made sure all the doctors knew I was doing IMAZ in six weeks and they couldn't see any reason why I still couldn't do it as long as I make sure to follow up with therapy. It was great to get back to the Shores and let everyone know I was okay (they took pictures to document...in fact, didn't we take a picture of me with the pole?).

Thank you for the nice emails and phone calls! I'm grateful that God surrounded me with wonderful to care for me :)
--Gina Thomas

"Wow, what a day!!! As a newbie at Half Ironman distance races, I was extremely excited about the opportunity to compete in a race, which would be FREE, and give me the practice I needed for the upcoming Silverman Half Ironman in November.
I am very new to swimming, and enjoy the Thursday night DeAnza Cove Bay swims with Jonathan. I was thouroghly unprepared for the 6-8 ft. waves of LJ Shores the morning of the race! I would have never even attempted the water, had Thomas Johnson not encouraged me, and promised to stay by my side. After ten minutes of battling the waves, and Thomas "saving my life," I felt forced to retreat. One day, I will return to the scene of the crime.....under better conditions!
Mounting my bike was a joy, as I love the planned route, and ride inland-coast-inland weekly. My fellow TCSD bike buddy, James and I, took off as the weather warmed, and the sun warmed our backs. Unfortunately, before the half way point, I overcompensated as we shared the bike lane, and experienced my first "eat the street" collision with James. He stayed up - I tumbled. We were only two miles from CVS, so James bandaged me up, and we continued the ride. Thank goodness for the awesome volunteers - there to refuel and encourage us. Back at LJ Shores, I learned that Gina had been taken to the hospital, and I thanked my lucky stars that my injuries were only major flesh wounds: elbows, knees, hip, fat lip....still able to ride and run!
As we began our run, I told James,"I almost drowned in the ocean, I ate it on the bike....we really need to watch out for cars during this run!" The well-marked route reminded us of how much time, effort, and energy Rachel had put into making this event BETTER than a Half Ironman I would have normally paid over $100 for!!! There were great fuel stops, encouraging and motivating volunteers, awesome food and drink.....
and although we finished last, I still earned the 3rd place woman's title, and earned my cool mask at the finish line!
Thank you Rachel and all of the wonderful volunteers for a memorable and FUN event! I can't wait to sign up again next year!!!
--Tracy Cohen-Peranteau

Watch the video Mehrdad put together!

Monday, October 13, 2008

TCSDs Inaugural Barely Legal Half Ironman

I'm not really sure what possessed me but I decided to play race director for the day. On Saturday, I put on TCSD's (www.triclubsandiego.org) inauguaral Barely Legal Half Ironman. I wanted a half ironman challenge that would be free to athletes with a Kona theme since it was the same day as Ironman Hawaii. I thought it would be great for both seasoned veterans looking for a final workout before Ironman Arizona or Florida, athletes wanting a final end-of-season event without breaking the bank, or beginner athletes wanting preparation for a half ironman race.

After much planning, many e-mails, and even a volunteer's meeting 2 weeks prior, we were ready to go. I had raided TCSD's storage shed and borrowed lots of supplies and the rest of the supplies were donated or borrowed from the participants and volunteers. I also had t-shirts made up (see logo above). Afterall, it's not an event unless you have t-shirts! The night before, Brent and I drove the bike course, hanging up signs and chalking the road (2 other volunteers did the run course). I was exhausted by the end. I never realized how long 56 miles was before!

The volunteers gathered in the parking lot at La Jolla Shores Saturday morning at 5:00 am. It was dark and we couldn't see a thing. Luckily, a few of us had brought flashlights. Braving the chilly, damp morning and air and torrential WIND (probably about 30 mph--reminded me of Ironman Arizona--hmmm), we set up the registration table.

Katrina, Bethany, and Cal at registration. It's dark and COLD!!!

Athletes started pulling into the "transition area" at 5:30. They used their parking spot for transition and registered at our table, decked out in a grass skirt to commemerate Ironman Hawaii. All the volunteers sported leis and grass skirts too. Each athlete signed in, got a number, a map and route slip and got ready to swim.

It was WINDY. The surf was huge. The lifeguards tried valiantly to drop the buoys but they kept getting dragged ashore. Their efforts were to no avail. Thinking fast, I changed the swim course, using fixed buoys already firmly planted at the Shores. I had to estimate the distance since these buoys were much farther out than I had wanted. I gathered the athletes and gave the pre-course talk, discussing the swim carefully: swim with a buddy, get out early if you need to, check out with the swim timer when you need to, etc., etc. The lifeguards positioned themselves courageously by the buoys on their boards (I don't know how they navigated themselves out there and braved those waters for an hour) in the tsunami-like conditions. The designated swim buddy (TJ), readied himself by some unsure swimmers. I blew the airhorn, started the timer, and they were off.

me--discussing the swim course

We have to swim in that?

Everyone slowly walked (no one ran) into the surf. The swimmers struggled to make it out past the breakers. They were tough and brave in those waters, churning like the spin cycle on a washing machine. A few of us stood ashore and watched their progress nervously. As each swimmer exited, we checked them out. I was relieved when the final swimmer came in. My flock had returned. They took their time changing into their bike clothes and taking in fluids and calories at the transition aid station before proceeding. Onto the bike.

slowly entering the churning waters at the start

the swimmers, engulfed in waves

the sentries, watching the flock carefully. Everyone made it back safely. Phew!

--exiting the VERY "rough" swim

another survivor!

Brent did it too (the whole thing, of course!)

Thomas (TJ) Johnson, dedicated swim buddy. Thanks, TJ!

After everyone started the bike, I hopped into my truck and started SAG support. I was hoping my services would not be needed. My plan was to drive the bike course, help out at the aid stations, and cheer at the turn-arounds. At first, my plan went accordingly. The athletes fought horrid wind on the course, which was also extremely hilly as well. The final report was 7,401 feet of climbing. Add some winds and tada! A bike course a'la Rachel-style!

--on the bike course

--Dean, Brent, and Lorenzo coming to the aid station

As I was cruising along, I got the call. Gina had crashed into a pole. Her shoulder was injured, and she needed to get to the ER. Dammit! I turned my truck around sped down the 56 at 90, hoping to escape a lurking cop. She had crashed in a hard-to-reach place of the bike path. I convinced the security guard to let me into the fancy, private residential area and snaked my way around until I found her. She had been riding with a group, and they had done a great job of taking care of her. Except for her shoulder, she seemed in pretty good shape. Her bike was okay too. We loaded up her and her bike, and TJ took her to the ER. (Luckily, nothing was broken and she is still expected to race IMAZ in 6 weeks. Phew!)

Gina with Steve and her bike after the crash. Luckily, her injuries are minor.

I slowly made my way back to transition and helped check the athletes in after the bike. They helped themselves to some fluids in transition and were off to the run. The run course was not for wimps either. The report is that it had 1,142 ft. of climbing (more than the La Jolla Half Marathon). Phew! We had 2 aid stations set up for them, mile 2 and the turn-around. The mile 2 station was also conveniently set up at mile 12. Plus, even though it was hilly, the course wound through the residential streets of La Jolla, with scenic views of the Pacific. I figured that if you're going to suffer, you better have something pretty to look at.

The mile 12 aid station volunteers gave me the call as the athletes headed toward the finish line. We all tensed up in excitement. As Dean came down the finish "chute", we held up the tape for him to break. He did the limbo as he crossed the "finish line", constructed out of traffic cones, brooms, a noodle, and lots of balloons. Each finisher got to break the tape, get a photo finish, and a finisher lei (a'la Ironman Hawaii style). Also, the top 3 male and female finishers got Halloween masks! Everyone got pizza too (which I got half off because they lost my order and delivered it an hour late).

Dean crossing the finish line limbo-style.

Dean, sporting his pirate mask (top male finisher).
Johan and Ray coming down the "chute"

--top 3 female finishers (Tracy, Claudia, and Paula), posing at the "finish line"

All-in-all, it was a very rewarding experience. There were some bumps in the road, which forced me to think quickly on my feet but despite it all, the event went very smoothly. Everyone carried an enormous amount of positive energy with them. The volunteers were AMAZING!!! And the athletes were awesome too. Thanks everyone!

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