Archive for October, 2010

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My Panama City Beach Reccomendations

October 31, 2010

I realized this morning just how many times I have been here. I must love the redneck Riviera more than I let on!!!!! Here are my top picks for great places to hang out and eat while on the beach! at every corner there is miniature golf and go karting, some of the best courses I have ever been on! Double decker go karts? sign me up!!! Parasailing everywhere, jet ski rentals galore. And it’s the offseason…. it’s cheap!

Panama City Beach Aquatic Center

Located just a  few miles from the shore, this SALINE pool has a kids pool, nice locker rooms, and sun. It’s outside baby!

Waffle house

Waffle house waffles have more carbs than iHop pancakes! (geez…. I wrote IHOP like iPhone!) And they shout HELLO! when you walk through the door!

Dirty Dicks Crabhouse

The best crabs outside of the outer banks!!!!!!

Captain Jacks

This is where to go for the post race dinner!

Pompanos!

Located right near Walmart, the center of PCB… it’s a family owned Italian place with great pasts for your pre race carb load!

By 10 am Wed….. we will be on the beach!

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Freak out!

October 30, 2010

“Are you totally freaking out yet???” An acquaintance asked me the other day. I smiled. No, I told her. I dont’ freak out. You have to understand who you are speaking with. I have no panic button. Nothing freaks me out. Especially not a race. It’s just the Ironman. Plus, do you know who my coach is??? You don’t have The Wizard as a coach and show up unprepared.

There are two categories of things in the Ironman that will dictate how your day goes.

1. What you can control.

2. What you can’t control

Most important then becomes how you choose to react to it.

Example: drafting. Ironman Florida as many other races are… is notorious for drafting. Through about 50 miles you will see trains of athletes. Is that something I can control? No. I can however choose how I react to it. I can scream, get pissed, get angry, give up. That’s using valuable energy I need later on.

Or I can just stay in my own box and stick to my plan.

Easier said than done yes but it’s within my control.

Example:  Weather The Ironman Florida course is a pretty fair course when it comes to the wind. It’s not along the shore. It turns off the shoreline and heads inland. There are a lot of trees there. It’s essentially a circle. What’s at your back will eventually be in your face. You will tend to feel the most wind in your face on 79 as you come back to make a left onto Front Beach Blvd. with that being said you just never know. One year it was 40 degrees.

You can get upset that you aren’t hitting targets, or….. you can get a little too excited if you are exceeding them due to wind…… not due to execution…… or you can play the weather. I know how to ride in the wind. I know how to play the wind. So i can react either positively or negatively to the weather…. or I can just roll along with it.

Let’s not forget how weather can affect the swim. You have to know the ocean. I know how to surf so that helps me immensely read the water. If it’s very wavy and choppy I can’t expect to find a rhythm. I have to ride the waves. See the choices that you have?

I think the most important choice you make is whether you choose to follow your plan. I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with athletes who have practiced and practiced their nutrition plan. Race day for some reason… usually it’s because they walk into the water with some guy whose been to Kona who says to drink five hour energy and that’s all you need….. they throw out their plan!!!!!! Sometimes I believe that is an excuse for them to have a sub par day because they just don’t believe in themselves.

I have a very specific plan and very specific targets. I am hoping to nail a 10:30 at this race. It doesn’t scare me to announce that… I have announced it before. I would like to get below 10 hours. That’s a goal I have in my long term development category. With the work I have done with QT2 over the past 1.5 years I fully believe that will happen.

It doesn’t make me nervous to state the goal. If I miss it, we will take a look at why. Did I stick to my plan? Did I make a bad choice?

When i was reading White Hot’s  Hawaii race report I got a little upset. I know White Hot and I know he understands why I would be upset. The man had 2 flats in his race (and still did a 9:40 something) but he gave up his race right then and there. recently he wrote about how he realized he did that.

My plan if I flat is this: stop the watch. Change the flat. Start the watch. So I miss the overall time goal. But I have my shoulda coulda woulda plan to compare it against. I don’t want to wonder…. what would I have done had I not had those flats? If it happens, I time them, and then I get back on pace. And then I come back next year and do it all over again. It’s part of my long term development plan.

A flat tire is something beyond my control. If it happens you don’t get angry. Just change it. That’s all. Anger is a wasted emotion in daily life and even more ridiculous in the Ironman.

If you happen to be watching know this: you are looking for very even splits throughout the day. That’s how you will know if I am on pace, playing the weather, or dealing with a flat or mechanical issue. You look at time at the end of the day. Look at pacing. I was able to nail my pacing last time I was here and I am aiming to do it again.

Having a very clear picture of what you can and can not control is crucial when taking on 140.6 miles. Knowing that it is directly your choice in how you react to it all is just as crucial. You light a match when the gun goes off and it’s your job to keep that flame burning throughout the day. You want that flame to stay lit and bright until you hit that finish line. That means you have to play the game, you have to work your plan. Like you are the only one out there.

Am I freaked out? Hell no. Am I ready? Hell yes. I feel the best I have felt in ages. And I am ready.

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The state of Iron

October 29, 2010

I wrote this on Wednesday, and since then WTC has cancelled the program…… but I still feel the same…….

Two years ago I was all set to get my M dot tatoo. I was combining the M Dot with the Om symbol, because these two entities saved my life. The day of my appointment there was a huge snowstorm. The tatoo place closed. I was so upset but I didn’t reschedule.

Now I am so glad I didn’t put the M Dot on my body. Today it would be associated with an organization that I am deeply ashamed of. WTC. World Triathlon Corporation.

Unless you live under a rock you learned yesterday of the Ironman Access Program. If you haven’t heard of it here are the details according to www.ironman.com , with my estimated value next to it in bold.

The annual membership fee is $1,000 USD.

Access Membership Program Benefits:
• Exclusive advance registration to Ironman events 
• Two VIP passes per registered event
• One-year subscription to LAVA Magazine $19.95
• 2011 Ironman Lottery entry plus second chance in the Ironman Lottery program  $50 (?)
• 2010 Ford Ironman World Championship NBC broadcast DVD $10
• 20 percent discounts on Ironman partner products at shopironman.com and on-site event retail stores…..
• Official membership ID card ZERO, because what I need is another care of keytag.
The above benefits are valid for one year starting from activation date
So essentially……. WTC is saying this: pay is $1,000 per year to have the ability to sign up for our events. don’t get a discount. Just buy the right to spend $600. Get less than $100 value in return.
 
I don’t know about you….. but we are a middle class family. We are a middle class working family with a child with minor special needs. We pay out of pocket for things not covered by insurance. Sorry son….. screw your therapy… we are joining Ironman Access! If we all had an extra $1,000 lying around ….. I would rather see it go to charity. Does this mean the community slots will soon become a thing of the past as well??????
 
I always say that the Hawaii Ironman is the best of the best who can spend the money to go. There’s 100% chance there is some magnificently talented age group athlete out there who just doesn’t compete because this sport costs too much. Now…. WTC has made this an elite golf club.
 
Jokes swirled around yesterday on FaceBook that soon WTC will have you prepay for what you use at the aid stations, that your timing chip will become like a speed pass, charging per item used, and paying your way out of penalty tents.
 
Here’s the deal for me…… it’s not about the money. I paid $250 for my first Ironman. I willingly now pay $600 to enter the same race. I accept that responsibility. I will be in an Ironman in 2011. I also understand that the system set up is almost amazing. WTC gets 3,000+ volunteers for events because they get a special line at Ironman. So we’ve got people flying to races a year in advance to work an 18 hour day for free….. to have the ability to give the WTC a 100% interest free loan one year before WTC has to produce the product. Now… I know I know…. there are things that need to be paid for in advance, but you get the idea.
 
Now they’ve got a 70.3 series. And an international distance series. When you cross the finish line of a 70.3 race they call you an Ironman.
 
Ironman…… to me is not the brand…. it is the distance. If you cross the finish line of a 70.3 race you are a 70.3 finisher. You are not an Ironman finisher. Finish a 140.6 mile race, be it B2B, Silverman, I don’t care. You are an Ironman.
 
When Ironman North America, namely Graham Fraser brought Ironman Lake Placid to New York State and subsequently Ironman races all over North America….. he was about the athletes. I remember him telling me he would put no more than 1,800 athletes into Mirror Lake, now there are 3,000. It’s not if…. it’s when someone will drown in that lake. I got knocked out. And I was in the sub 60 minute club.
 
There were special touches that only IMNA could give to the race…. hockey nets bookending each aid station for your trash….. a finish line for every athlete…… a team of individuals (his family) who listened to your concerns, answered your questions and cheered for every single athlete. I feel like Graham gave me the Ironman, he certainly prodded me to do the race!
Maybe I am just an old-fashioned triathlete, because those of you who have come into this sport in the past few years….. you don’t know what this was all like. If you never had the opportunity to experience Graham’s events…. then you just don’t know.
 
The other thing that upsets me is the new rules for the professionals. It used to be that once you won Kona…. you were qualified for life. That’s how it should remain. You are the Ironman World Champion. Now they have this insane set of rules. Fees, points….. all geared to enhance their own races. I think it places the pros at a disadvantage. It’s hard enough to make money in this sport, if you qualify as a professional you should be treated as such. This is not how we treat professional athletes in any other sport.
 
It’s my personal opinion…..and I stress personal…… that WTC just left their goal unattended. They took out their goalie and put another player on the field. It’s going to work for a while. It’s a proven business model and the competition is weak.
 
But there in the corner, where you least expect it…. is someone waiting to steal the ball. They are not going to do it with money or attacks. They are actually already doing it. They are doing it through treating athletes better, giving them a better product, and not creating the reputation of being…. a corporation…….
 
That player is Heather Gollnick and her Rev 3 series. Talk to anyone who has raced one of these events. They love them. I think she and her team are brilliant. take a look at Ironman’s wall on FaceBook…. people are not happy. What they have done is show exactly who they are.
 
Now…. will I sign up for another Ironman? I likely will be in line for Ironman Florida 2011. I am signed up for a 70.3 race. I will still participate in these events. At some point there athletes will speak. The tables will turn and things will change.
 
Triathlon is rich in it’s history, albeit a short one. Many of us have been around far too long to allow this kind of stuff to happen.
 
So keep your eye on that unattended goal. Sooner or later arrogance and elitism will fail. and Gollnick is going to score a big goal.
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I promise

October 28, 2010

This morning I will have my last outdoor swim. Boo. I know, an outdoor pool located in Upstate New York. Does it get any better than that???? Another thing I am so lucky for. Only at Midtown. I know, it’s a little swanky for a girl like me, but you put an outdoor heated pool that’s open from April 1st to October 31st and I will swank up and go. Plus, at this place you needn’t even bring your own shampoo. The showers are to die for.

I know, I have a small obsession about belonging to every gym in town. Small issue for me.

Yesterday morning I saddled up for a last hard bike workout. I was ready, fueled and it was 4am. 30 minutes into the ride…. I got off the bike. Everything in my body physically hurt. These are not the workouts to force, not ten days out of an Ironman.

I emailed the Wizard and he confirmed. He knows when to tell me to HTFU and get back on the bike. But “I treat this period quite critically.” He stated. I knew I had made the right choice. It’s not about being lazy or unmotivated, it’s about listening to your body. There isn’t anything you are going to do 10 days out that will help your race, there is a lot you can do 10 days out to hurt your race.

So I rested. I don’t fight that because I know why it is important. This is where it’s beneficial to be a coach, you understand the physiology and also the emotion of the Ironman athlete. It’s Ironman number 6 for me and gone are the nerves that you face with that first one (good lord my first was in 2002!). They are replaced with the confidence of knowing you are ready. The willingness to step into the box of hurt.

That’s probably my biggest liability. I tend to play things safe. When I broke 11 hours in 2007 I played it safe. I raced conservatively. So many bad things have happened to me during races I will walk on the conservative side. I have been pulled off an Ironman course because I didn’t know who I was. I have spent miles throwing up because I crossed the line.

Next week I would like to step further over the line when the time is right. Which will be during the marathon. I know when it’s go time. I need to grab that by the harness and go for it.

I am going to be on that course with a lot of friends. I feel like it’s our little secret beach party. Matt whom I coach (and who is soon to be one of my QT2 teammates!!!) K-Roe, Alan, Kirsten, Wendy, geez…… there’s even more. I love sharing races like this with people. On this run course we will see each other a lot which means high fives and cheering and smiles.

Today is where the taper takes full effect. Aside from a four hour brick tomorrow things are dialed waaaayyyyyy back. Time for the body to rest and regroup. nutrition remains spot on, hydration is in the forefront. The weather is looking good, low to mid seventies. A little rain would be ideal (sorry).

Last night as I began to fall asleep Luc came into the bedroom. “Thanks mom.” He said “For taking me to Florida again.” I smiled. How on earth did I get a child who is so grateful. He says thank you for everything. He always has. We will be celebrating his 10th birthday on the beach, the day he gets to choose to do anything he wants. If he wants to eat at Waffle House for breakfast and dinner, we do it. I am working on something special for his big day that I hope pans out as well.

Ten years ago he came into this world and brought an unexpected richness to our lives. He made color deeper. He made feelings richer. I thought I had a good handle on what love, fear and pain were. Then they placed him in my arms and I felt those emotions like someone punched me in the stomach.

I felt them all a thousand times deeper. I still do. It’s like your heart lives on the outside of you now.

“Mom…” he said to me, “Can I have your medal when you are done?” I smiled. “absolutely.” I told him. Long ago I stopped displaying the plaques and medals and trophies. The school artwork magically took their place. But every now and then Luc will ask for one of our medals. I often wonder what they stand for….. for him.

He’s certainly got his own set of medals…. so I wonder what they all mean to him.

“Promise mom?” He asked me holding out his pinky finger. I fight back tears when he does things like this. “I promise” I told him as we linked pinkies. Nothing is more powerful than a pinky promise to your child.

So here we go. One week and counting. The taper has begun…. except for that little four hour ordeal tomorrow.

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Take your mark

October 26, 2010

It’s like Pavlov’s response, every time I hear those words…. take your mark…. be it on TV, track, anywhere my first instinct is to step my right foot forward, wrap my hands around the sides of a starting block, and pull my head to my knees with my butt in the air. The world literally stands still.

Then ….. the  sound of the start. It used to be a gun, Then we evolved to a …. tone…. whatever it is…… it’s like you open the gate. Off we go. Chest first into the air, look up at the other end of the pool, head down, then woosh. Complete silence. Then….. complete feeling.

Swimming…. for me…. is never about what I see. If it were I would have to have a fascination for small tiles on the bottom of the pool. In the water my eyes turn off, it’s not about what I see. It’s what I feel. The feeling of the water swallowing me up. The feel of my arms grabbing armfuls of water and throwing them behind me, the feeling of jumping off the walls as I flip turn. The feeling of absolute silence in a world that does nothing but make noise.

In the pool I can truly swim with my heart, from my heart.

Somehow I have replicated that feeling in running and in cycling. The feeling rather than the seeing. It doesn’t matter where I am running, it’s that pure feeling of being alive. I will admit, running and cycling have the better backdrops…. unless you are 1.2 miles out to sea.

But the feeling is the same. The mind turns off, the heart turns on, the spirit turns on. Just you, your breath and the sport. Pure. Simple.

To me, swimming is as pure and simple as running. It’s just because I know where every pool is, and all I need is my cap, goggles and a suit. If the lanes are crowded, I just find a spot to slide in. I can’t wait to get back to my Masters team, there it’s where I am at home.

Swimming has always provided me a sanctuary. Throughout the years of my eating disorder (age 10-20) it provided me a place where I didn’t have to be sick. I could turn the world off and just swim. It was the only thing that kept me alive and I mean that so literally it’s unexplainable. In so many ways swimming saved my life. My coaches, my teammates and the water.

The water has never failed me. One hundred percent of the time it welcomes me, swallows me up, pushes me hard or allows me to cut through it easy. It teaches me what I need to learn… patience, belief, confidence…. it knows me just like I know it.

The simplicity of swimming is that it never changes. Short course is short course. Long course is long course. I can befriend the clock and every single time work with it. Or….. and this is what I recommend people do if they are having that difficult time in the water…… set your timer for 10 minutes….. just swim. don’t count, just feel. Let your mind turn off and listen, really listen. Not to earplugs, not to the underwater mp3 player, but to the sound of the water. Really listen to the sound of the water.

Is anything more magical than that?

I really feel it’s the same for running and cycling, for me it is. Those runs where the air is crisp and the leaves are crunching beneath your feet….. those rides where you don’t look down, you look forward and you feel the absolute rush of air through the vents of your helmet.

Nothing in the world makes me feel so physically alive as this sport does. This sport, these three sports…. and I know I am not alone in this observation.

In the pool I know where that wall is without ever having to look at it. I know where you are without ever having to look for you. I feel every single inch of my body and it glides through the water.

Throughout my recovery I was able to swim. I have cried in my goggles so many times I can’t even count. In 2008 when I sustained a grade 3 concussion in the water and then miscarried and the world fell apart….. I got into the pool with my teammates and I cried in my goggles there. They knew but didn’t. They just knew I needed to take one stroke after another. One stroke at a time. It was always left unsaid, but at the same time, they knew. Swimmers know each other very intricately.

One stroke at a time. That’s all I have taken my entire life. It’s what my high school coach used to say to me. One stroke at a time MM…. that’s how we get to where we are going. At the time I thought he meant to the other side of the pool. Now, I know different.

So give it a chance, give the pool a chance to be what running and cycling is to you. Next time you are out on the trail, feel it, that feeling. It’s there for you in the water. Turn off the watch, just swim. Don’t count, just swim. don’t think, just swim. Let the sound of the water silence the mental hamster wheel that turns and turns and turns. Let it silence those thoughts.

My heart still leaps when I hear the words…. take your mark.

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Random

October 25, 2010

I have an incredible husband. On a daily basis I remind myself of that, and thank him for that as well. I can’t imagine this life without him on so many levels. He’s not only an amazing husband but an equally amazing father. Parenting is an equal partnership and this man….. he’s just awesome. If I had to sit back and choose a man who could be the best possible role model for our son….. I would always come back to Curt. Good thing I married him.

Curt’s fully embracing his off-season. He stays fit with hours of mountain biking, hiking, a little bit of yoga. His Achilles is healing up nicely and we’ve begun to talk about the 2011 season. His goals are a bit different for 2011 and I am excited.

He’s been ridiculously supportive of Ironman, insisting I sleep in on the weekends (his buddies and he go out and mountain bike) and giving me time during the day to do the long stuff. If you know me you know I don’t enjoy doing this on family time. With my new job, I get a lot of great weekend family time. Man I love it.

This weekend was the last long ride. It was great. I almost worry because I didn’t want to throw the bike. Five hours came and went and I felt fine. There were a few small hurdles however.

An hour and forty minutes in I felt that feeling. Rim on road. At the same time that I stopped to inspect, one of my friends Don and his daughter pulled up. Talk about good timing. The tire was torn. They had to talk me into accepting help and then Don did the unthinkable…. told me to stay right there he was getting me a wheel. Ten minutes later I was back in action on his wheel. Thanks guys!

At 4:05 into the ride I stopped back home to top off nutrition and to use the bathroom. In the bathroom I have a bag of TriSwim products that Kelly C gave me …. love this stuff!!!! I brushed my teeth, threw some body lotion in the bike shorts, washed my hands and was out.

30 minutes later it began to rain a bit. And strangely my crotch began to foam.

FOAM?

Foam.

Turns out…. I used the TriSwim shampoo.

Classic.

My 50 minute run off the bike was under marathon pace in zone 1. Happy.

I will admit this morning I feel like a bit of a physical train wreck. Nothing a little rest won’t help. 8 hours of sleep is mandatory every night this week, and eating in the core is as always… paramount. The work is done, and although this first week of taper doesn’t feel like it’s a taper….. by week’s end I know I will be feeling snappy.

In just over a week we will stand on the beach. In fact we will have our ocean view room overlooking the gulf (every room in town is beachfront). There are some things I just love about Ironman Florida and one of them is the ocean. I love the ocean. I can’t wait to feel it surround me.

All right….. time to get to work on this taper.

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Feet on the ground

October 23, 2010

What an amazing week. I will post my TRX post on Monday, there are a few more things I want to add to it……. hold your horses there White Hot.

Thanks to all of you who came out for the Lululemon community class, there were 45 of you I believe, the biggest turnout yet. I will be doing some more of those in the future, I would definitely like to do a Yoga for Athletes community class so stay tuned. And again…. THANK YOU!

My new job….. is absolutely wonderful. I am now working for The Arc of Monroe, which is a non for profit organization that serves the developmentally disabled. Being that I am in healthcare I can’t be very specific about what I do, these are people’s lives I deal with, not topics for a blog. But it’s a much different role than I have ever had as a nurse, it’s even hard to describe what I do. I care coordinate for a specific caseload, and I work with an incredible team of RN’s, LPN’s, medical liaisons, and many others who care very much about what they do. I have instantly fallen in love with what I am doing, and I have only begun to scratch the surface. I love the population that we work with.

I have a lot of flexibility within my position, my day is structured the way that I want it to be structured. I have an office that’s not in a building. I am surrounded by really good people. The hardest part….. I wear regular clothing, business casual clothing. That means…. shopping!

This new position has allowed me the opportunity to have a regular schedule, which has made life so much easier. I can get all of my workouts done in the morning. I am home for the bus. I can plan on times when I am coaching my athletes. I am sleeping every single night.

I haven’t seen anyone die this week. That alone has been wonderful.

And here we sit, just 14 days shy of Ironman. How am I feeling? Terrific.

Because this is my 6th Ironman, I do not have that feeling of have I done enough, or will I make it…….. in all honesty that does go away after the first one. I know I have done enough, I know I am ready. So much of the day falls within my control. Right now it’s about staying healthy, and getting enough rest.

This week I take care of the little things I need to do. race nutrition arrives on Monday, so does a new wetsuit. I got a good deal on an Xterra Full Vortex suit, and I have great luck with wetsuits. I know. I have a Blue Seventy Helix but…… I got a really good deal. Race day goggles will arrive then as well. Basically the little things I need will all be done by Monday. Let me organize that list to show you:

Ready by this Tuesday:

Wetsuit
Nutrition
New water bottles
New Goggles arrive (same style I have used)
Test out the Super Nine and the 1080
Replace water bottle cages.
Bike is already tuned and tightened.

I essentially will have everything ready to go one week in advance. I have my own bike box and I pack my own bike, and I will do that on Tuesday morning. It takes me less than 20 minutes to pack my bike. When you have done it as often as I have, this becomes really easy!!!

The big thing I work on (starting a few weeks ago) is my emotional energy. I am very careful with it, I do not give it away. I refrain from reading many blogs, I stick to the ones that inspire me and are positive. One of my biggest faults and at the same time one of my biggest strengths is my self protectiveness, I guard myself well. I allow nothing to upset the balance within myself right now. It’s like I erect a giant force field around me.

The moment I am dreaming of however, is the moment we stand on the beach. The ocean is so giant, it reminds us that everything is bigger than we are. We are small in comparison. Ironman is a privilege not a right. On a daily basis I tell myself that. I never want to forget.

The ocean puts me in my place the same way my career as a nurse does. We are small. I love what I do as a triathlete yet at the same time I know its place in the world. In hospitals and other places there are worlds that you never even consider….. that exist. People who will never have the privilege of getting excited about a Super Nine, who have much more important things to worry about…… like….. how will I navigate this restaurant with a wheelchair….. with people who will stare at me because I ride the handicap bus and I look different…… and how they will create a story in their head that explains who and what I am…… but what they don’t understand is that I know. I know all too well.

My career as a nurse always….. always puts life into perspective for me. On a daily basis. That’s why I don’t tolerate people acting unsportsmanlike, getting upset at each other over triathlon, treating one another with disrespect over small things, call me righteous….. and I will agree that I am…… because I get to see it on a daily basis.

I will stand in front of that ocean and listen to Luc wonder what happens at the edge of where the ocean meets the sky. I will smile at the magical thinking he will use to feel his own place in this world. And I will smile at the opportunity I have in just 14 short days, to spend a day swimming, biking and running.

Because I can.

I know too many people who can’t. So I will never ever take this for granted. They keep my feet on the ground.