Miles of Life ~ My life as a donut Kylie Donia

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Muskoka 70.3: Racing as a Donia

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Muskoka 70.3 was the focus race for the year. Mike and I signed up long long ago — in fact, I don’t even remember signing up! It was before we even got engaged. Once we were engaged, we started planning a wedding. And the question of when to have it came up. We knew we didn’t want a bazillion year long engagement, and we like outdoors, so we settled on Fall 2008. We also knew we’d like to have the wedding in California, and then a reception in Canada for the members of Mike’s family that couldn’t make it to California. Well, with the race near his family and in September, it was the perfect timing for a reception — and we didn’t want a reception that far after the wedding, so our race date was set as the weekend before the race. Yes, you do have to sign up for some races farther in advance than you need to plan a wedding…

I was SOOOO GLAD I had Marky helping me get ready for this one. It was definitely a crazy summer. Yes, a wedding to plan. And school to attend, and work to do, and a new city to move to, and a dog to welcome to our family. Plus the training, and I am glad I didn’t have to also think through and plan out each workout! I just had to “get ’em done”. I knew the training and prep was all in place, and with his help, I got to the race confident and excited. Tapered as well, at least from workouts, thanks to a couple weeks of family and wedding and travel and more family 🙂

My goal on arrival was to PR, as it almost always is when I race (now that I train smart). I was thinking I would PR for sure, having had such better prep. My goal was about 7s: swim 37, bike 3:07, and run 1:57. But what I was forgetting was that the race was 4km long on the bike, and that they found the most “fun” (ie fun looking rollercoaster profile) they could for the bike, run, and yes, transitions! So after driving the course, I was no longer sure what would happen (esp on the bike, where I was really hoping to see one), and I was again glad to be racing with power. I knew where I should stay to have a successful race, and I just didn’t worry about it.

The race was taking up all the parking at the resort hosting it. So we had to park on the airstrip about 2 miles away. However, there were shuttles regularly, and we just ran it once just to get a quick leg-shaker in. It was something we were curious to see how it would go, but the race directors did a great job with it.

Registration was easy. The expo disappointing. I mean, it was my honeymoon race. You think I would by *something*. But they had decided to only make men’s jerseys, and the smallest size was a medium that was about right for Mike. When we asked if they had any women’s jerseys, we were told no, and that there were plenty of other clothes to buy and to go pick one. Umm sorry, but a cotton fitted baby shirt and a bike jersey are different. So my credit cards got a break there.

We headed to Mike’s brothers, got the bikes all set up (it’s easy when all you need to do is stick on a couple stickers!) and put our race stuff together. I was really excited about our outfits: bride and groom jerseys, bike shorts with “just married” on the butt, and for the run “just married” visors thanks to Tribabe (mine enhanced with a veil thanks to my sis and Holly). The next day we checked in our bikes and got in a practice swim. We were ready to go. Off to our wedding reception, and then bed time!

I woke up part way into the night to some rain. Ok, not some rain, but sheets and sheets of downpour. I love the sound of rain, so apologised to my bike for leaving it out in that and went back to sleep. Still not sure how the whole shuttles from parking would work on the big day, we arrived at the race nice and early. And it was still raining. Not pouring now, but more a constant drizzle. Other than the electrical tape on our wheelcovers the bikes were just fine. And the tape was just to stop the sound of it rattling on some bumps, so it was no big deal. We set up our bike shoes and helmets, deciding to place glasses nearby but forgo them if it was still that wet when climbing on. Our run shoes and socks were placed in a plastic bag beside the bike stuff. A bottle of carbopro/nuun (600 cal in the bottle) were placed on each bike, and the aerobottles filled with water. We were done, and just had to chat while waiting for the start.

We had met another couple while at the practice swim – he was in Mike’s AG, and she was in mine. They got married at Kona last year. So we chatted a bit with them, maybe too long — or we all forgot how long it took to walk to the swim start. So Mike and Scott got down to the water as their wave was ready to go. Leanne and I had a bit more of a wait, but soon we were also off!

I started to the outside on the swim as our wave had a number of the older and sometimes big and rough guy age groups in it. It was a smart choice, as I had a somewhat clear swim. There were always people right around me, but never much of a washing machine. I even caught a draft for a while, thinking about how Marky had told me to try it and given me some tips. Out of the water in 38:40 for a 2:00/100m pace (as I learned later – I don’t keep race time during races). Good enough for 11 in my AG, which I believe is my best AG swim placing ever.

The run to transition was not short, and not easy. It was a crazy-ass climb, and about 300m long!! An a fairly serious climb. So I took advantage of the wetsuit strippers and just cruised on up, already chanting my T1 mantra. Shoes, helmet, inhaler, blocks. Shoes, helmet, inhaler blocks. At my bike I dropped the wetsuit. The inhaler and blocks in my helmet were put into my pocket, helmet on my head, shoes on my feet and I was off. I had a great rack spot with an easy exit route! T1: 4:21.

(photo by Paul Graham)

I was looking forward to the bike. I knew I could do it, the hills weren’t scaring me, and I had my lovely yellow PowerTap friend smiling up at me. Until one of the many rough spots in the first couple miles, when the back of the craddle broke and my poor little PT CPU went flying. Shit shit shit… do I stop? Go? For a race this distance, and not having another watch to know timing and nutrition, not to mention the cost of that computer, I stopped and grabbed it. Back on the bike, with the PT now in my pocket, all I could think was how Marky said I should ride on feel 🙂 And then wondered if he somehow caused this.

I enjoyed the bike course. Up, down, around, up, up, down, up, over, around, up again… Never a dull moment, and beautiful scenery. But I was good, and only glanced at it out of the corner of my eyes. I felt good on the bike. It was still raining, and then it started raining more seriously. It was like needles on my arms and legs, but it wasn’t cold, so it was actually kind of comfortable. Every now and then I’d pull the PT CPU from my pocket and check what I was at — was about where I wanted in effort, nutrition was on, it was just a slow day for what I had hoped for. But that’s racing: it’s not a course you know, an a know scenario. It’s an experience.

There were a couple pairs of drafters, and people who would try to draft anyone near them and then get dropped. I just don’t get it — especially when you are at a place in the race where it’s not about podium spots. It just gave me a desire to ride clean: I made sure I dropped back before repassing (dudes who pass and then quit pedaling: it’s ok to ride your own race. Please ignore me and let me do the same to you). And to the guy who (I think) made a snarky comment about using a wheel cover: it worked just fine and I had fun, thanks for asking.

Then a big descent, and a guy passing me goes down, HARD. Starts sliding across the pavement, right in front of me, rollling into a ball. I somehow manage to barely miss him and keep on the edge of the road. Hoping Steve is ok (we’d been near each other for a while) I thanked my lucky stars my day wasn’t over and kept going. A right turn, and I was on a fairly rough stretch of road. It was almost like it wasn’t paved, but it was just bumpy and not really pot-holey. About on the home stretch now, and ready to get running. I like biking, but I was tired of being on a bike in the rain, and I love running. Plus the attention-whore in me was ready to have my visor and to run like a bride 😉 Off the bike: 3:26:34 (58.4mi, 16.98mph).

T2 mantra was going: Helmet and shoes off, watch, socks, shoes, visor. Helmet and shoes off, the watchband of my Garmin into my mouth, socks and shoes on, and visor in hand I ran on out. 1:51.

One thing I love is seeing Mike on the course. At IMKY last year, I happened to be right where the loop joins itself as he started his second loop and that was just amazing. We knew it would be close, so for the first mile I focused on not running to hard and watching for him. I never saw him, but we found out later we had just missed. And no matter how easy I made myself go, I was flying! 8:17 for the first mile! And I thought I was going nice and easy. I guess I was more excited than I thought to be off the bike 😉 Like the bike, and T1, there wasn’t much flat about the run.

But I was having fun. I ran with a girl from the area for a while, I ran with a girl in my age group for a bit. Through it all I felt I was going just maybe too hard, but I felt maybe just maybe I could hold it. Along the way many people told me they had seen the groom, and lots loved the outfit. Some asked if I was running to the alter, and I asked if they thought I should turn back. I focused on maintaining on uphills, and cadence on the down. I cursed and thanked Marky both ways as his words on turnover and effort and such rolled through my head. It was again pouring at times, and I just enjoyed the drops on me keeping me nice and cool.

(photo by Paul Graham)

I reached the final 5k and thought I had stepped into an Escher poster. It was on golf course paths, and there were runners everywhere, but you couldn’t tell where they were from or going or how much farther it was. I kept going, knowing it was only a 5k — I can hold this pace that far! I kept telling myself. So I did. I saw Mike, and he encouraged me, and I knew it was only about 3k left. Oh. My. God. Longest 3k ever. I thought my Garmin might have started going backwards. It was hilly and hard and I hurt and just had to keep going. Marky said to neg split, just barely. So I couldn’t slow now — that would be the same as admitting I had gone too hard on the bike! So I didn’t. And somehow my legs listened. And we just kept on going. And going. And finally it was the last turn. Nope, I was wrong. Maybe now? Nope… at least one more… But then it was the last uphill, and the finall slight down right into the finish chute! I relaxed, let the person by me go on and through, and had my own moment at the line. My watch read 1:56:00 (and sportstats matched it) but I’m going with 1:55:59 like the tracking had :). A half marathon PR. And on <a href=”″>that course</a>, and that weather. 4th fastest in my AG.

Total: 06:07:24, and 8/37 in my AG. I think that’s my best placing in a big race so far. Not the sub-6 I was hoping to repeat, but a tougher course and day, and I had a blast and felt I executed really really well. So I’m happy with it. But as Marky said of his last race, it is only going to get better. 🙂

A post-race massage, and then a hunt for warm food and to the awards. And then — a warm shower and REAL FOOD. Ahh it was good 🙂

I will let Mike post his race report in full later — but I’m so proud of him that I’m going to give some of it away! 4th out of the water in his AG, and then he led the AG race through the end of the bike! He ended up in 3rd in his age group and looked stylish doing it 😉

it’s the holidays

Friday, December 21st, 2007

I got in a run and a swim in a bit of a rush this morning, almost skipping one or the other. It was windy out there though!

But today is a big day… for eating! It was the office potluck holiday lunch, and then tonight is the office holiday party/dinner for Mike’s office. So I felt better knowing I got in a good workout. As much as I like the idea of “eat to train”, I really tend to look at the day from more of a “train to eat” perspective. And a “train to train”, since I really do enjoy the workouts I do. In fact, recently I don’t think I’ve had a workout I did because I should do it. Which is great! Means things are going well 🙂

Ironman Louisville (IM KY) 2007 – PR!!

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Ten months ago I signed up both Mike and myself for Ironman Louisville (aka IMKY). Starting soon after I began my training with Mike’s guidance – getting in more, and more quality, training than ever before. A week ago it was time, and we travelled out to Kentucky for the big day. Vineman 70.3 had been our only big race day of the year, and with Mike getting hit by a car he was definitely unsure how the IM race would play out. In fact, if I hadn’t been signed up as well, he would have skipped it. That same Vineman 70.3 race had brought me an hour and 24 minute PR at the half distance, so I was eager to see how ironfit I really was!

We arrived Thursday and got checked in, and realized we had an awesome hotel spot: our room overlooked the finish line! Friday morning I woke up in pain: I somehow managed to pull or strain one of my lower ab muscles while sleeping. It HURT: I couldn’t move to sitting up without help, and I felt it each step I took walking. Gotta keep going though, so it was off to a swim practice, to get our bikes from TriBikeTransport, and to go for an easy spin along the run course. I could feel my side during the swim, but soon had a new worry to compete with it – the current! I didn’t think I’d make it 2.4 miles in the cutoff time with that kind of current! Luckily the race directors were prepared and changed the course, making it start in waters a bit more protected, and also as a time-trial instead of mass swim start. Happy to have that fear a bit subsided, I was free to move back to the pain in my side. Luckily during our test ride on our bikes it felt ok after about 5 miles, and each morning was a bit less sore, to be only a dull ache by the time race day rolled around.

The bikes felt good, so back in the hotel we got them and our TA bags set up. Gels taped to the bars, aerobottles ready for water, and 2 bottles of super-concentrated Carbo Pro on the frames. Shoes, race belts, sunglasses, and tri tops into the bags. Our helmets would be placed on the handle bars race morning. This prep was fast and easy for us, as Vineman had been a successful test of the planning. We had time for bonus napping and relaxing, watching random tv, lying around, and generally being lazy and sleeping early. Saturday came and we went for another easy swim, a short run, and got our gear and bikes checked in. The volunteers at the bag and bike check were great: they took us through the whole TA and made sure we were ready for how that part of our day would go. We had a nap, and were woken up by crazy thunder and rain and lightening! But it soon stopped, and then it was an early dinner at TGI Friday’s, some chatting with our waiter, and early to bed.

Sunday came fast, and next thing I knew I was standing on the dock as the sun came up, holding Mike’s hand, nervous, and ready. No wetsuit with the 85 degree water: but hey it was the same for everyone out there. The line began moving, and soon it was a final kiss, a jump in the water, and we were off. Mike quickly pulled away, and I settled into my rhythm. I had a few sections of not-so-great sighting, but in general I felt comfortable and like I was moving well. Relaxed, and just pulling. Keeping my cadence a bit higher than usual and my glide time a bit shorter while I fought the current seemed to work well. Made it out around the turn with only a bit of contact, and then enjoyed the swim to home. I wasn’t wearing a watch, and I wasn’t sure what time Mike and I actually started, but after the race Mike let me know I had PR’ed: 1:18:16 for the 2.4 miles.

The transition area at this race was LONG: from the water we had about a 200m run up a slight incline, over a footbridge, and to the transition area. I just kept a relaxed jog, got handed my bag by another great volunteer, and had my own personal volunteer in the changing tent. She dumped my bag, helped me pull down my tri top, and made sure I got all I needed from the bag on before sending me on my way and packing up my swim gear for me. T1: 5:18.

Out of the changing tent, right to my bike rack, grabbed the bike and kept my easy jog right up the sidewalk and over to the street for the mount line. A bit of shakey legs having been horizontal so long in the swim made it take a second to get clipped in, but I did and was off. Nice and easy, I kept telling myself. There was going to be plenty of time on the bike. I sipped water from my aero bottle, got comfy on my bars, and just got it done. Slowed down, thanked aid station volunteers, and kept that aerobottle full of Gatorade, water, or a mix of them. I cruised the downhills, and went just a bit harder than I should on the uphill of the rollers. My stomach felt a bit off, and I realized the Gatorade was just not working that day. So I switched to water, glad I had put some eCaps (electrolytes) in my jersey pocket just in case, and felt just fine. My Carbo Pro mix bottles worked great as always: a sip every 30 minutes, plus a gel at about half way and another at the end of loop two were all I needed. I peed a number of times on the bike (wooo stinky shoes!) and feel my hydration and nutrition on the bike was pretty good. The only issue was the 2 times I was out of water for a mile or two. The section through La Grange (done twice) was a blast: I felt like a superstar as people were lining both sides of the street, screaming and cheering and cowbelling like it was the Tour de France. Just after it on the first loop some bug stung my lip, but I spit him out, found it wasn’t swelling, and just forgot about it. There were miles of beautiful land, and even some horse farms. A number of the locals were out and cheering, or had marked the sections of broken pavement right by their homes. Part of the loop had a bit of wind, and got a bit tough, but the second loop when it was even tougher I knew that the end of the loop had a bit of a tailwind, great pavement, and was that close to being done pedaling! So I just, well, got it done. The last 10ish miles heading back to the TA were awesome new pavement, mostly downhill, and just made for flying. So I relaxed and brought my heartrate down a bit, stretching the legs a bit to get them ready to run. Back in town, I hopped off the bike, jogged the long stretch back to the changing tents, and handed off the bike. On the bike I had my Garmin, so I knew this one was a PR! 6:22:09 for 112 miles.

I just kept right on moving through T2: I had another great volunteer taking care of all my needs, and I swapped cycling shoes for runners and socks, and my helmet for a visor, and I was off. I found I had a slight blister on the back of my heel, and was hoping it wouldn’t get too much worse with running. Another long jog back out to the street where the actual run would begin: 5:16 (my only split where I beat Mike).

As the run started I was feeling really good. In fact, the first mile was sub-9 although I kept trying to slow myself down, knowing there were plenty of miles to come. I was still feeling good around mile 3 where the first loop reconnects around mile 14. And right as I get to that intersection, who should come around the corner but my wonderful boyfriend! I threw my hands in the air – “that’s the one I love!” and got a jogging kiss – it was one of the best parts of the day. He was starting to hurt, and had been about ready to walk. So he ran with me for about half a mile or so until an aid station where he walked, and I actually passed him! It wouldn’t last though – he said later that he couldn’t let that happen so had to get moving again. He passed me back a few minutes later. For that I take the credit for keeping his time sub-10 :). The rest of the run got tougher. I was soon walking the aid stations, but keeping a smile and moving in between them. I was shivering and goosebumpy around mile 4, so I gave up on my plan of not chaffing by staying dry and started dumping ice down my sports bra and pants. I came back from it, and kept focusing on the white aid station tents, playing number games with myself. “It’s only 20 more miles. That’s just a long run.” “It’s only another 16 – you did that with a sore foot earlier so this will be easy.” “Only 2 more 8 milers, and those are just regular weekday runs.” At the turn around Mike wasn’t out yet having recently finished, and I missed my cheering squad that had supported me at all my other IMs. But I kept going, and finally it was “Only a 5k to go!! You’ve got this!” Unsure of exactly when I had started, I thought based on the time of day that I’d make it sub-12:45, but I wasn’t sure about the 12:30ish I had as my “all goes well” goal. My legs were hurting – each time I walked an aid station I had to start running again right at the end of it, or I knew I’d really slow. Rich (watching on his bike) let me know Mike had finished: 9:52 and 4th in his AG – probably good for a Kona slot! He also gave Mike a call, letting him know to get to the finish line and that I was coming in! And I just kept at it, my legs burning, exhausting, and leaving the last bits I had out there. And then I was at the 26 mile marker. It was still light: I was going to finish in daylight for the first time! Another runner was near me, and I asked him if it was first or second lap for him. Second, he said. But you go first… you’ve passed me all day. So I went for it. I turned and could see the chute. I was running down it, the announcers completely drowned out by the screams and cowbells of the crowd. It brings tears to my eyes even typing about it now. There was unbelievable energy and spirit and it pulled me in. I had done it: across the line, right into the arms of my finish line catchers.

Final results:

Swim: 1:18:16 (32/50 W25-29, 158/356 women, 824/1703 starters)
T1: 5:18 (8/50 W25-29, 48/356 women, 300/1703 starters)
Bike: 6:22:09 (17/50 W25-29, 86/356 women, 781/1703 starters)
T2: 5:16 (5/50 W25-29, 26/356 women, 113/1703 starters)
Run: 4:39:50 (11/50 W25-29, 69/356 women, 440/1703 starters)
Total: 12:30:47 (14/50 W25-29, 68/356 women, 498/1703 starters)

Amazing, just amazing race. I couldn’t stand on my own, but I was so proud and happy! I knew it had been a successful day, and that I had dug deep. One of my goals was to really push my limits, and I did – at IM AZ I was pretty fine when I finished, and just went about on my own. Not so this time, and I ended up needing help to get to the massage area. But at the same time, I didn’t injure myself or take it too far: it’s been less than a week and although I’m still a bit stiff I’m feeling pretty good. Sure, I had heat rash pretty much everywhere, and my chaffing is a bit scary, but I didn’t even get really sunburned. Mike got our bikes back to TriBikeTransport while I showered, and then we went back to the finish line.

We grabbed food at TGI Fridays (right at the finish line) again, and our waiter from the day before came by. He had seen us when we were running together, and had cheered for us! He had also been curious what happened or if Mike was a lap ahead, since he remembered that we expected Mike to be a good bit faster.

Monday we went to awards (Mike’s first IM award!) and signed him up for his Kona slot before heading home. Take 2 triathletes. Add little sleep night before the IM, and 3 hours the night after. Now put them in a hurry, sore, cranky, and in an airport. In a plane. Switching planes and having to cross the largest airport ever. Getting into a low car and driving home. Getting out of the car, hauling luggage. Man we were nice to each other , but the pillows were welcome that night!

I’d recommend that race to anyone. Insane energy, and tons of community interest. Our taxi driver to the airport the next day was full of questions, and said it really hit home what an Ironman meant having it local. He’d seen the Kona shows, but they were over in an hour. He said it was something else when it went through areas he knew and when the local news was still giving updates at midnight. Very nice hotel setup, and I appreciated how prepared the race organizers were. The volunteers were the best ever: they were full of energy, jogged to get people the water they asked for, and were on top of everything. I’ll also remember the two girls dancing like crazy to the “I like to move it move it…. I like to move it move it” song – a racer’s kids, either at the swim start or hanging out at one of the many pre-race activities. But just having fun, and giggling, and oddly that’s what I remember about that race. 🙂

Vineman 70.3 half Ironman race report — LOOONG

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Wow. Where to start… This race report is going to be long. And tough. Kinda like the day. There was the good, the bad, and the ugly. Guess I’ll just keep it how the day played out, but we’ll start a bit before Sunday.

Since this was a ‘B’ race (secondary focus for the year) Mike and I basically trained through it. The week before was a bit easy training-wise just since there was so much to get done. But it was done (way too late on Friday) and Mike got off to work Friday while I worked a bit from home and got the car packed. At 1 I picked him up at work and we were on our way. I must say I was excited: I have only done one half, and it was very early in my tri career, and I had hopes for a PR. Mike was thinking there was a chance he could get a Kona spot, but wasn’t sure how likely it was. We were both excited to do a big race together. Yeah, I can even be a sappy girl about that. I was giggly and chatty on the ride, and he laughed at me. But it was an easy, uneventful drive up. We made it to my mom’s house in time for dinner and seeing a bunch of little-Kylie pics she had found while cleaning out the garage. An early night, and a relaxing morning got us on our way relaxed and ready to go.

After missing a lunch with my sis (stupid traffic on her way there and her work schedule) we made it to the expo, got registered, and got out T2 stuff dropped off. It was fun to get it all ready with him, and to play with yankz (faster shoelaces) in the parking lot. Then it was off to Guerneville where we met up with my step-grandparents, Dad, and bonus-mom Wendy. Since they live right on the river, we had another great place to stay with a swim in the river, a yummy dinner, and great company to get the bikes all set up. Then off to bed!

Up early, ate, and got to the race. Having 2 transition areas made it a bit interesting, but luckily we had figured out a plan for getting my car to the start — Wendy and my dad could each take a car, and in case they left early I had a spare key in my bike bag and they could just lock the keys in. That stress solved, I was able to really focus on the race instead of at all dealing with wondering how the day would play out.

It was my first time at a big race and in a bigger age group, so it was a bit intimidating. I did get to meet Beverly , which was great as I felt I already kinda know her. Then into the LOOOONG porta potty lines. But I made it through, and into the water on time. Gave the “I love you” sign to Mike, Wendy, and my dad, and my day started! Definitely in a washing machine — a few bumps and such, but I just remembered it’s just hard to see, and ignored it all and kept going. Only kicked a bit extra when hands stayed on my feet, instead of just bumping them. The swim started going up river, and I could feel a bit of the current. I just kept focusing on pulling, siting, and swimming steady. Got to the turn around (at last!) and had the “tailwind” of current helping me. The cruise back was much more pleasant. Oh, and I saw Mike’s wave passing under one of the bridges as I did, and thought good thoughts for his race. Got to the end of the swim, let some water into my wetsuit, and ready for a speedy transition.

Wetsuit off, bike shoes on, helmet on (after fixing it… the back had come a bit unattached), sunglasses on, stuff my wetsuit, helmet and goggles into a bag, grabbed the bike, and ran out to keep moving.

When I got on the bike, within a few miles I could tell it was going to be a good day. As I thought to myself at one point, I felt “smooth as buttah!” The first steep climb just helped me up, and the risers just weren’t as draining as I thought they could be. At 30 minutes my Garmin beeped at me and I took a swig of the super-concentrated carbo-pro mix. It went down pretty easy, and I just kept movin’. To my surprise, I was already at about 9 miles! WTF??? Um, that’s 18mph… I was hoping to be over 17! “Guess I’ll take it, I feel good.” And I just kept going. About mile 23 I heard “There’s mine!” in my favorite voice. I grinned, and saw Mike FLY past me (later learned it was at about 26 mph to my 19ish). As he screamed by, he called “Mine’s SPEEDY!…. AND I’M WINNING!!!” and at the end of that I could hear definite little boy excitement in his voice. “I KNOW! I’ve been looking for your age!” (we had our ages on our calves, so I could see when people in his wave, 32 minutes after mine, passed me.

I just kept it up. Drinking on the 30 minute beeps, pushing it so that I felt it might be just barely harder than I really should. Mike said to go there, and he thought I’d be able to pull off a good run still. So I trusted, and felt a bit of pain, but had fun and felt, well, smooth as buttah 😉 Up the biggest hill, with a “woohoo! YES!” at the top. I was ready for the cruise to T2. I ate a gel, felt great, and made the last few turns.

Think of the last thing you want to see in a race. I used to think the worst thing I personally could experience in a race is crashing or failing myself. But I was wrong. I come around a turn, and I see an ambulance. A firetruck. Police cars. AN AIRLIFT AMBULENCE. “Oh crap… that is horrible. I hope the racers are all ok. Is this going to be one of those things you read about on the forums and such, the story of a crash about 2 miles from the end of the bike loop?” I keep moving, knowing the best thing I can do is just get by and stay out of the way since the vehicles were on the far side of the road. I glance as I pass, and I see it is a racer in the telltale spandex. But wait. That spandex has orange sides on the shorts, LIKE MINE. That jersey is an orange tank, LIKE MINE. HOLY SHIT THAT HAIR IS LIKE MIKE’S HELMET HAIR. OMG. I think I screamed. I slammed on the brakes (forgetting they were new and strong ones and locked a wheel). Somehow remembered to look over my shoulder and see the path was clear before turning back, pedaling harder than I think I had during the race so far. Skidded to a stop in front of 3 paramedics walking away, calling “Is that Mike Donia????”

“Yeah… are you the girlfriend? He’s ok.” The airbulance people were calm, and let me know that he was ok. That he was going in the ambulance, and not in the helicopter. That he was scrapped up and bruised, but ok. Again, ok. And that I should keep going, and that he had asked for my dad. I said I could find my dad faster, and they said good, and I took off again. I just went. Didn’t think, but there were definitely tears sliding out under the sunglasses. I still can’t get the image out of my face of him on the stretcher as I passed, just laying there. How his jersey was folded, the arm over his eyes as he faced the other way. I think keeping going and not going to him was one of the hardest things I’ve done. But I knew it is what he would have wanted. He was in good hands, he knew who to ask for. I could make sure my dad got to him, and that was about it. So I pedaled. A race official came up next to me, asked if it was me. Said he was ok, maybe a broken collar bone. Some road rash. And that I should keep going, he wanted me to, and that they’d make sure he knew I’d go to him if he wanted.

I saw my mom point at me as I got to the school, and could tell she didn’t know it was me. I figured it was because they were still waiting for Mike. I was right, and later found out she was using me as the example of what he’d look like. “Hi Mom…” In the narrow bike path, I just went to the transition, grabbed my shoes, and was back on the course so that I could talk to them without being in the way. As I jogged, I saw my Dad. “Dad… Mike crashed. He’s being taken to a hospital. Will you go with him?” I have no idea what he answered, but it was something of concern. “Please just go with him!” and he said he would. I told my mom and Wendy as I passed them, and told them to talk to Dad.

And I ran. A few panic attacks. But I kept moving. Up hills, down hills, around people. Up the biggest hill, I tell a girl why I’m stressed, seeing my boyfriend ready for an ambulance ride, and where. And she asks “the one hit by a car?” UM WHAT?? She felt horrible, as I struggled to breathe and sty stay with my mantra: just keep moving. I was only getting closer to being back to him, and he’d be proud I finished. I vaguely knew I was close to breaking the time he told me I could beat, that I wasn’t sure I believed. Saw faces I knew, hear cheers. It just didn’t feel real. Just didn’t really care. People in my age group passed me, and I passed them. I just wanted to be done. I wasn’t there mentally. I now know that focus can be broken, what it feels like to be running a race that you are no longer mentally in. I just kept moving. I knew that they’d know more once I was back, and that by just moving I’d be back the fastest. I remember it being hot. I remember taking a pic with an I love you sign because all I could think of was that Mike wasn’t running with me, and that I wouldn’t see him at some point on the out and back. But I kept going, and I got it done. And then I finished. I sprinted the end, I knew I’d get info and be done and it couldn’t hurt that much because it would be over, and I wouldn’t even think of it.

And I was done, and somehow got sponges on my head and shoulders and water in my hand and my mom there, telling me where Mike was, and that he was in xray. Mom and I kept busy waiting for more info, checking at medical. Finding Mike’s bike at info. Yes, getting my results so I could tell Mike when I saw him that I did it. The medical tent was great (actually the same guy who helped me at full Vineman last year), and another guy who called my mom with each update he got. My dad let us know that Mike was out of xray, and someone told me he had no broken bones. I got cleaned up a bit, and by the time the car was repacked with all the bikes and gear Mike was being discharged and my mom could lead me to where Dad and Wendy had him, getting fed. We made it, and I got the hug I’d needed for over 13 miles. To see with my own eyes that he is ok.

We said goodbyes to my family, and started the long drive home. Mike wrapped in gauze and bruised and sore, but in good spirits and knowing he’d be more sore in the morning. He talked with me all the way home, and promised that he’ll never let me pass him like that again. And that he’d never do it again. And that he is proud of me.

Of course we weren’t done for the day. Leaving the restaurant my check engine light comes on, and the car decides if we are in slow traffic it will stall. After it did so the third time right by my mom’s, we stop. Of course pulling off the highway to make the turn to where Mom’s car boyfriend was so he could see what was going on, the light went off and everything felt normal again. So he checked it, gave the car a clean bill of health, and we were back on our way home.

On that long drive I got to hear Mike’s story, the parts that were missing in my mind. Yes, it was a car. He was biking along, still right in the thick of things for his age group (just behind the 2 leading bikers who had passed him, but who he thought he’d be able to outrun. He made the same left where I saw him, and was moving along the straight away. A car was in the lane next to the bike lane, over to the left, having also just gone through that controlled (by the race and police) intersection. There was a bit of a gap between Mike and the next bike, and the car puts on its right blinker as if it is going to turn into the condos he was passing. It moves into the bike lane, so he moves left to go by as he was moving about 26mph and faster than the car. All of a sudden, the car pulled back left to make a uturn, and Mike thought “You’ve got to be kidding” as he had no time to do anything but fly over the car, getting thrown to the other lane of traffic, and skid to a stop. As he lay in the road, he could hear the driver getting yelled at by all the spectators, and an MD (who was racing) stopped and helped him until the rest of the help arrived. Oh, and the bike is done, as is his aero helmet, and the zipp disc and 808. But the driver should be covering that expensive part of his mistake. Looking at the bike it seems ok, but on closer inspection you can see flakes of carbon that you can lift on the top tube, and a hole through the disc. And we looked at results later, and the guy with him on the bike won the age group — and yes, Mike and I think he could have gone faster on the run. Guess we’ll still have to look to Kona at IM KY.

Tonight he is sitting next to me. Road rashed, bruised, and sore. But he is here with me, and ok other than that. And he loves me, and is proud of me.

Oh, and I did great — I PR’ed by about 1 hr 24 minutes. Granted, my last half IM was early in my tri-life, but I’ll take it:
swim: 39:30ish (mixed with T1 in official results)
T1: 2:53
bike: 3:05:57
T2: 2:38
run: 2:03:14
Total: 5:54:14

Previous PR was in 2004 at Caliman: swim 42:50, T1 8:48, bike 3:56:17, T2 6:52, run 2:26:28, for a total 7:18:40. My open half marathon PR had been 2:01:33 from a week after the Caliman half IM. So yeah, I’m pleased with how I did. Choosing to listen and keep racing was hard. Very hard. I’ve never had 13 miles be so long, or unimportant in the moment. And now… I have a boy to comfort and hug.

longer and shorter than planned

Monday, March 12th, 2007

Yes, both in one ride. Started out with 80 in mind as Mike had to get to work and the time change stole an hour. We started out together as usual, each armed with nuun and a bar and a gel. It was nice out, and I even opted for the tank jersey. Mike took out his PX for the first time to start getting it dialed in since he is racing in a few weeks!

We split for a while, and then met up again for the path along the beach. I mentioned thinking about extending the ride a bit, and he said it might be good. After it (around mile 40) we planned to split for the day so that he could get home and to work soon. We did, and around mile 50 I decided to “not think, just do” as BBB tells me. So at mile 60 I turned around and went back down the path 10 miles to make it about 100 miles total.

But those 10 miles! Headwind, and pretty strong. I was feeling it, and the bar long gone sucked down the gu at 71 as I turned back. The first few miles felt easy and fast, and then the wind changed! So it was more headwind… and too much for me. I called Mike to find out where the nearest convenience store was as I was fading fast. I couldn’t see any from the path, but he knows the area better. Turns out I couldn’t see any since there aren’t any :-/ He had also bonked near the end of his ride and realized I had nothing left with me and had worried, so he wasn’t surprised to get the call, and offered to meet me at the one street the path crosses with whatever I wanted. I was still about 10 miles from it, but it was still 10 miles sooner than I’d get anything if I waited for home, so I took him up on it. I arrived to a smiling face complete with a bagel, coke, nuun, cold water, and gel!

Unfortunately, those 15ish miles of bonking were too much for my gut, and it was not so happy to have food added to the sloshing water, and I called it a day at 92 miles. But I did hydrate better than the last time when I did 101 miles with 2.5ish bottles… this time it was 7 bottles! Oh yeah, it ended up getting WARM! The high at our place was 96 for the day, so I’m sure that played a part in the long hard ride being so tough for me.

Oh and Mike says the bike felt good. Only issue was that the seatpost slipped a bit. But it felt sturdy and handled better than he expected for a TT bike, and he was generally pleased.

Something else Mike didn’t tell me until we were in the car on the way home… the headwind only got stronger the next 7 miles I was facing, and after that turn it wasn’t too bad to home. I’m glad he waited to tell me, since I didn’t let the wind stop my day, but I stopped because, as he said, why keep going at that point? We know the mental part isn’t my weakness…

one oh one

Monday, January 8th, 2007

… and I don’t mean the race series. Instead, I’m talking miles. You know, those long training rides that required hydration and food plans? And that make you hungry for days? Yup, got the first one of the year under my belt yesterday.

I prepped Saturday with a 9 mile run (my longest since Vineman and foot injuries). It felt pretty easy, but afterwards my hips were a bit stiff, and my legs just a bit tender.

Then it was Sunday and Mike and I got up and headed out for a ride. He was meeting up with one of his speedier buddies, and I proposed doing a similar loop to the 85 mile one a few weeks ago, where I go down one bike path and then back up it, and he goes down a different path and then has to jump over to mine and catch me. This time I hit the end of my path and gave him a call to let him know and find out where he was, and he was about 3 or 4 miles from me in the connector between bike paths. However, they were stopped at a Starbucks for a treat. I just headed back up, figuring he’d still catch me by the dam (where we had split out paths). Turns out I beat him by about a mile and a quarter, so I added a short out and back along the dam as I waited. His buddy had done a hard ride the day before and was feeling it, so their pace had slowed as well as mine. With the bigger loop to get to the start, and his buddy’s sore legs, it ended up making his day about 108 and mine 102 (it was about 101.5, but then the GPS website corrections made it 101.95 — and I had the 101 goal). It was a tough ride, with some winds and such. But I like the path. I definitely slowed near the end, and was really feeling it at about 90 miles, but got my “almost home” wind around 97.

I love rides that I start and end with Mike. Even if the middles are different. It really helps keep me out there knowing I get the starting and ending treats (including some checking out of his ass, I will admit — and sometimes he drops behind me when cars need to pass, and I don’t ask why). It’s nice to know that he’s a few miles away, pedaling along just like I am (although often faster).

After the ride we ended up at our current favorite post long ride restaurant: Casa Jimenez. Mexican food. And really yummy Mexican food. And good chips and salsa. And $8.25 for all you can eat. It always hits the spot, although I don’t think we’ve ever done more than the 3 items that start the all you can eat (it’s all you can eat where you order each piece, starting with 2 or 3 items). As we left, we laughed at how the people are starting to recognize us, and how (hopefully) over the next few months they will know us better, and know us as the people who come in every week and stuff our faces with all you can eat yumminess and tons of chips, and waddle out on sore legs, but are somehow dropping weight.

Ok now it’s time to eat more… all this typing has made me hungry again! 🙂

ramblings of actual training stuff

Friday, December 1st, 2006

Yesterday I worked from home to take care of tires and such for my car, and had noticed a few days ago a few browned bananas on the fridge. Ok, so this isn’t the purely training part of this post yet, but it was yummy! I baked them into a yummy healthy banana bread! I found the recipe in one of Holly’s cookbooks, and we had all the ingredients and it was fun and easy! I think our oven runs a bit hot, but I still think it turned out pretty well. Mmmm I’ve eatten tons of it! There is only like a quarter of the loaf left already (s’ok, with the ingredient substitutions and additions I made (yogurt butter spread and adding walnuts) it is only 2727 cals for the whole loaf.

Alice (who is at my old college) is borrowing Holly’s car, and last night Mike and I dropped it off (along with a slice of banana bread) and then ran home, weaving about to get in about 5 miles. It was a nice run. I am enjoying running at night while all the xmas lights are up and on. Makes for some pretty viewing, which makes running at an easy pace easier mentally.

This AM it was up and to the pool! Swimming is starting to feel a bit better again, and mentally it was easier to get there today. Got in 3000 yds in 65 min (250 warmup, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 400, 300, 200, 100, 250 cooldown – resting about 30 sec between). mmm cholorine!

And tonight: riding to Mike and going out to dinner with some friends of his. Should be fun!

Vineman T1 setup, swim, and T1

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

We arrived at the race site, pulled the bikes off the car. I pulled the tireless wheel off the back of my bike and got this disc out of the car. Yet it wouldn’t go on my bike! It didn’t appear to be hitting anything, and it had been on before, but neither Lisa nor I nor the nice guy who tried to help us could get it in place! I felt a bit of panic… 112 miles on a bike with only a front wheel might be too tough for me! I took the bike down to TA1 area, where NorCal bikes was able to get it on for me. Turns out it is just a bit wide, so you have to sort of spread the frame to get it to fit in.

That hurdle conquered, I got all permanent markered up(#282) and my bike racked. I set up my transition area (a bit different from AZ in that all our stuff was kept at our bikes like sprint tris), and then waited in line for one of the ONLY 10!!??!?! portapotties at the start. By the time I was done there it was only about 10 min to the start, so 20 minutes to my wave. I pulled on my wetsuit, trying to hurry without trying to hurry since that makes it hard to get them on. Finally on, I had Holly and then Lisa help me get it zipped with about 5 minutes to my wave start (oddly it was almost exactly like the nightmare I had about this race…). Into the water, I got to the start and adjusted my goggles and the horn sounded and we were off! For one of the most full-contact swims I’ve ever had.

I had a decent starting spot, as the waves really weren’t huge. But the river was also really not wide. I got a foot or elbow or two to the ribs, and someone managed to kick my funny bone! Nothing awful, but just constant contact. Oh, I also got my butt grabbed a few times. I felt like I was moving ok though. At the turn around, I checked my watch. 25 minutes?? Huh… that surprised me. I didn’t think I was moving slower than in AZ, and I knew my spotting was better. But around the bouy, and back down river. The trip back took about 20 minutes, so I guess that “not even noticible” current was stronger than they thought! I hit about the same times for lap 2, and felt comfy. A few times my legs did the jiggly thing, but then I’d kick a few times and they were ok. About a quarter of the way back down the river the final time, a lady kept swerving everywhere! And was faster than me by enough that it meant she kept cutting me off. I noticed her when she kicked me in the face! “OWW!” Yup, that was out loud. She actually stopped and appologized it was such a hard wack. I just kept swimming… just now with a taste of blood filling my mouth. It was a hint of the day to come.

But my keeping swimming worked, and I exited the water 2.4 miles later in 1:24. Compared to all the training and swim time for AZ and the 1:37 there, I was thrilled! That was awesome, and a big part was just being comfortable pushing it a little more.

Ran up the bank and into TA1. Easily found my bike, wetsuit off with a bit of a struggle, and bike stuff on. Joked with Holly who was right over the fence as sunscreen to face and neck, food into pockets. Found out no other family members had shown yet, handed Holly all my swim gear, grabbed my sexy bike off the rack, and 5:45 saw me running off for the climb out of TA1.

OMG so sexy! (and a great weekend)

Sunday, August 6th, 2006

So my bike is about ready for Vineman…

(click here for a bigger pic. You can ignore the mess in the picture… we are also in the middle of moving and have to be done the weekend after Vineman so you can imagine the craziness)

I still need an adapter for the presta valve so that I can pump up the tires with my emergency CO2 pump or with my floor pump (as neither fit in the openings on those wheels). Other outstanding issues are that Trader Joe’s stopped carrying the fruit leather I like to eat while riding, but I have a few so will just make do. Also, the bike rack I was supposed to borrow I went to pickup today. And found it was missing straps to attach it to the car. The bike shop boys are not happy (a lady returned it that way and they didn’t notice). So I’m looking for another one… I have some people to ask and have my fingers crossed. But goggles – check, bike – check, bike and run shoes – check. Looks like we are (almost) ready!

This weekend has basically rocked. Outside tris a friend turned 29 and we definitely celebrated on Friday night. I made it home and into bed by 2:45ish AM though. Got up at 6:30 for an easy 30 mile ride yesterday morning — it was nice and easier than I expect on that lack of sleep, and generally felt good. Except I noticed that my cables for the front derailer were having issues — like bubbling the bar tape where the housing went under. John has fixed it for me though (and replaced the old cable housing with red, adding some sexxiness to the bike.

And somewhat outside tris I went to a BBQ at Mike Donia’s (a very speedy IMer and other racer… like IMAZ 05 and Kona qualification and sub-10 fast – and cute as a bonus). Also there were Rich Strauss (of Crusible Fitness) and his wife, and Rich of and his girlfriend. It was great to talk to them and just relax. Rich of remembers you, Libor :). Definitely good people, and a great time.

Ended up not getting much sleep last night either… seems like about 3 hours is gonna be my limit this weekend. At least sleep isn’t important in taper time :-/ and I will be better about it for the rest of the week. I didn’t feel the lack on the 10 mile run today at all. In fact, I got a bit excited and went a bit hard (it might be the fastest pace I’ve ever held for a run that long – was sub-10 min miles) but my knee and food both felt great! I have a theory on that it relates to how just awesome my weekend was outside of tris and in them =)

feelin’ good

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

I’m feeling good today. It’s a bit odd, but I do. Got to sleep in, as I worked til midnight last night (it was just one of those projects where I worked, took a break while I taught some kids, and then got dragged back into it by my brain late last night). Then I took advantage of the beautiful day and got ready to go run. I could feel my knee aching almost before I was off the block. I decided to at least give it a real test, since sometimes I’m a bit sore starting but then good. Picked a mile and a quarter loop, and about 3/4 of the way in I knew it was just not a good day to run. I didn’t want a repeat of Monday, where I could barely (ok not really at all) walk!

Stopped at home, grabbed the bike. Didn’t feel like dealing with all the details of prep, so just me and a helmet and some water left in my aerobottle from the weekend, and off pedaling. Did 5ish miles out and back along a nice wide road. A few too many lights that time of day, but the weather was perfect! Oh, and for some reason my back tire was not staying in place well. I stopped and realigned it once (it looked like just barely uphill or flat, and at just over 12 mph I was working hard… I thought something had to be wrong!). When I got home, it was again rubbing.

But I enjoyed the ride. Smiled at people getting their days started, and just had bike time. I felt great on energy (one of my worries with the less carb diets) and no stomach discomfort (even with a new pre-workout snack: apple sauce with protein powder — from the Paleo for Athletes book which I got last night).

In the end, I was about 40 minutes late to work (leaving late and traffic didn’t help). But I feel good. It was a good morning, and I just moved. It wasn’t a workout from my IM schedule, but just the ones that felt right. And tonight I get to drive up the mountain and get my mtn bike back from Big Bear! I wonder if it has missed me as much as I miss it…