Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Florida 70.3 race report

Florida 70.3

My first 70.3 in Florida. GLAD I DID IT.. a new race, another experience…. I learned from it…. And I will become better from it!  So thankful!

In a nutshell, trying to keep it RELATIVELY SHORT:

*race morning was a bit of a snafu family wise with some unhappy campers and disagreements, ugh.  I didn’t even feel like doing it and wanted to be a grump and pout about the uncooperative atmosphere, but decided to attempt to be an adult.

*arrived at race site, went to get body marked/checked in: I am so used to bringing my bike the day before for 70.3, so it was different to actually have my bike with me.  It was a simple set up, (we arrived early THANKFULLY because parking was a bit scarce!) and I went back to car to sit for a bit, drink coffee, and regroup my brain.

*THANK GOODNESS I went early because when I went back to get in to do one more time through my mental transition prep, I couldn’t even go in then because line was RIDICULOUS! **if you are doing this race in the future- keep this in mind- do not arrive  at that time and expect to walk in!

*RACE START:  wetsuit legal and I think that helped me tremendously with my mind and courage in “facing the alligators!”  I sometimes feel like my wetsuit is protecting me!

Swim started and I felt great for about 2 minutes.  WIERDLY, I remember for the next 2 minutes that my LEGS were like DYING.. like they were exploding/tired/tight/wetsuit bugging them? Anxiety in my LEGS?!! Not even joking---I don’t even know, LUCKILY that went away!  After that, I felt FINE and couldn’t believe that frankly I didn’t even have alligator fear anymore.. it was fine.. I just felt like any other race, I really didn’t have fear, it was just a swim.  Not only a swim, but I felt strong (ish) and felt like my arms were doing a good cadence, and felt like I was not going ever off course/ it was easy to follow, it was GREAT.

(seriously, I cannot believe I Just said that).

Transition: got out of the lake and saw that my time was in the 39’s and was happy with that- not sure what to expect since I felt so good- I thought, hmmm maybe I was flying (for me) and it was 35-6, but, 39 was still good for me/ under 40 and I was happy to be ALIVE!!!

Got on bike/headed out and felt STRONG.  So my bike- first 25 miles I felt AWESOME- really just “managing” not going past the line that I should.  I felt like hmmmm, my legs are working… is it appropriate or too much… or not enough?!  I felt like I was appropriate.  After 25 miles, OH MY GOSH the WIND AND HILLS.  I felt them both. The wind was fierce and worried me immensely.  I didn’t want it to blow me from the side and tweak my back… I also was super concerned about safety.  First: the roads were narrow and NO RIDERS were “calling” their passes (saying on the left EVER EVER EVER.  I Honestly was the only one I ever heard).  There was a guy that was perpetually blocking me that I was back and forth trying to pass- he was prob. Getting annoyed by me saying “on your left on your left” and I was getting annoyed at him and his red cycle shorts riding on the CENTER LINE OF THE ROAD.  THAT IS ILLEGAL DUDE  it is BLOCKING and I finally did tell him.. but honestly, annoying. Completely.

Then the traffic- there were times on these narrow country roads that the traffic was trying to get by in one direction- cyclists passing on the right lane- 1 and 2 at a time…. And it was me passing for 56 miles mostly…. And then traffic would come in the opposite direction- so the cars at times would either stop, or pull INTO the lane with the bikes- then you couldn’t even pass the bikes because the cars were cutting you off, ugh. Annoying.  But it was what it was and for me, at that point, I don’t even worry about speed/places/competing, I Just want to be safe and LIVE!

So, I lost some time there (as did everyone around me and any other places on the road it was happening).  Overall though it was a real nice bike course.  I have felt at times at Eagleman (my typical 70.3 race) at 40—50 miles like UGH, I am SO READY to be off this bike, BUT.. I did NOT experience this at Florida, and so about that I felt AWESOME! Yea yea yea yea!  My time did back off by the end, but I think that was mostly due to hills and wind.  I was really happy with my bike performance. 
I felt strong and yes there are things I want to work on (more on that later) BUT: I felt
success with this bike performance in such an early season race.
Run:  I started off- happy to be on my feet- saw Ryan and the kids and said to them” Ok, first lap, I’m going to just take it easy” – meaning be steady and not be crazy. And it was a strong first lap (4.5 miles).. basically I stopped super quick to go to the bathroom (and solve a bit of a problem) but got out and managed 7:30-40-45 for the first 4.5 miles.  WOW.  During this lap, I started my energy shot/drink, took in water from the stations- that is all.

2nd lap.  I immediately on finishing first lap/beginning 2nd lap started to feel energy and body beginning to feel the effects of the time/heat/jostling in stomach.  My quads once in a while  would kind of give out if I stepped a funny way.  There were maybe 3 big hills on the course that were really steep.  People were walking, but I ran up each of them and was 100% committed to doing this in my head.  One of them was on sidewalk and I hate the hardness of sidewalk running on my joints and I could totally feel it in my hips, but there was no road option.  About 2 miles in on 2nd loop (so about 6.5 overall) I did stop to walk at a water stop, and also grabbed soda.  I knew honestly that I shouldn’t get the soda, but for some reason it is all I want and it feels good the bubbles in my throat and I wanted some of the caffeine.  I drank about 3 sips of it and began running again.  I don’t know if this was the cause of my nausea- I think I was a little nauseas before this… but I need to figure out a way to not give into a “soda craving” during a race and stick with my water and blocks.  I had probably 3 blocks/honey stingers by this time, but frankly I just do not want to eat anymore at this point, and putting them into my mouth just kind of feels grose and they just kind of sit in my  mouth and accumulate nastiness and annoyance to my mouth.  I was struggling to finish 2nd loop, but I did and thought ok, this is it, I’ve got one more.  Mentally going past finish line 2x before having to start out on final loop was a challenge.   I was probably somewhat barely moving at this point.. but was proud that I was moving.  Every step was an effort, but I was totally taking it.  Hills again/pushed myself through.  The sidewalk hill I had to walk probably 20 -25 seconds of because I was really worried now about getting sick.  Turned the corner about 9.5/10 miles in and had to go to the bathroom… (like #2- n ot bad, just could feel it and frankly wasn’t sure if it was making me feel like I had to puke- sorry for tmi) so I did a super quick stop, got going again, but still struggled with energy and nausea.  BUT.. I also was totally IN IT mentally still- NOT GIVING UP.  I think this is why overall I felt I “did well” on the run.  My time wasn’t obviously the speed I would have liked/expected/trained for.  BUT.. I knew I could have given up one million times and I never did.  I also kept telling myself one of my race mantras, “you can be courageous or you can be comfortable” and I was choosing courage every step.  At one point probably 11 miles in, I spent probably an entire mile of the race visualizing the beach.  I literally took 1 mile to slowly go through imagining the feeling of sand on my feet, the sounds, the beauty, the feeling of my legs in water (which I was REALLY CRAVING at this point!) I was imagining just floating and joy of the waves that I knew I would have the next day… So this really helped take my mind off a bit of pain.   During the run there were 2 women who passed me in my age group (funny thing I think they may have been the only 2 who passed me- but they both unfortunately had my age group on the back of their legs)…. I wasn’t thrilled about this, but it is funny, at the time, I was totally fine and okay with it because I knew that was not what I could do- I couldn’t hold onto their pace, and I could only be where I was.  I sometimes like that about races- where you get to the point of not minding someone beating you because it is not an option for your body- you have to do what you are only trained for- I wasn’t at the place to go that speed on the run…

So I finished.  10 minutes of really just walking around and couldn’t even really talk to Ryan and kids, just had to walk and then sit in shade.  Then I tried to get some food because I thought it would be smart, but warm pasta after a race like that just makes me feel even sicker.  There were grilled chicken pieces to put in the pasta and I had that on the side and tried to put it in my mouth but had to spit it out.  Luckily there were orange slices and I had probably about 10 of those, oh they were sOOOO good.  Thank goodness for them.  I was sitting in the shade and just started shaking and getting huge goosebumps, so had to move to the sun and it felt so so soothing on my body…  I was trying to not drink any diet soda afterwards, but I did after 15 min approx. let myself have some “sips” just not gulping it down, and it didn’t seem to make me sick. (A few races last year I got sick after and I wasn’t sure if it was the diet soda). 
SO.  Where do I go from here.


Eagleman is 8 weeks.  I want BETTER.  Swim- want to keep it strong. That is all.  So I will possibly devote a bit less time to swim.

Bike:  I want to work MORE – not necessarily to become faster, but- to make sure my body is as unphased as possible by the length/intensity, and I can get OFF the bike with energy and MENTAL energy as well.

Run:  this is what I need to work on.

I need to work on fueling to make sure I don’t feel nauseas.

I need to work on running on TIRED LEGS.  (I have done several long bricks, and I need more and more and more and more.)

(and I will).

And I need to work on constant pacing after 5-6 miles in the heat.  I need to work on eeking out 15-20-25 sec per mile.  Each mile.  Not letting the miles drift.  Not needing to stop for bathroom breaks. 

I need to work on QUAD STRENGTH.  I am going to have 5 weeks beginning immediately of STRENGTH WORK.   (legs) and (also triceps)--- what the heck- my triceps were tired from gripping on the bike in all the wind!!

I was happy with my “performance” on swim bike run.

I was happy with how I trained for this early season race, and how I did on race day.  Honestly I wasn’t “thrilled” with my placing (13th age group—there were 3 internationals so it was kinda “like” 10th ish, but… ugh.  Would have wanted top 5, right).. (and then top 3!) So… I was a little frustrated, BUT I know that just means there was a strong field and that is great.  Eagleman though is my A race.  And I was 3rd AG last year and want to be top 3 age group again.  I do and I will go for it for the next 8 weeks with everything I have😊

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Florida 1/2 Ironman pre race thoughts

Pre race thoughts:  FIRST: if you are reading this, please know it is long and you don't have to!  I write this up for myself, but if it is interesting to you, great!  If you want to track me on race day, Sunday, April 9, 2017, go to, click on live coverage at top of page; select race (ironman 70.3 florida/haines city), click on athlete tracker, my bib number is 491

Ironman 70.3 Florida is a new race for me, which is one of the reasons I wanted to do this.  I registered  not thinking fully that I would be swimming in a FL lake.  I am trying still to get used to that.

This year has not been what I would have hoped for in terms of overall fitness/training/healthy body.  Late November, my back went out and 4 m onths later, I am still “tentative”.  Tentative meaning:  sometimes I can run 13 miles at low 7 pace, sometimes I can bike 60 miles at a really strong level, however sometimes I can not stand after sitting.. Sometimes I cannot put my freaking shoes on, and sometimes I cannot lean over to spit out toothpaste.  Fun times.  I am really becoming aware of my age.  I will admit that for many years, I would hear people complain about age and… well… I frankly didn’t think it would apply to me if I stayed fit.  And.. that is not the case.  I am thoroughly frightened at what will happen to my body at age 70 and fear that there will be a time that my back will really limit my ability to do what I love.. (and even move).. ugh.

Regardless, I’ve been doing PT 1x/week and trying to get a 45 min massage every week or 2 weeks. 

Going into the race:

*I am EXCITED:  there are always such detailed memories and stories of races.  I will remember so much about the swim- what goes through my mind during it, arms that hit me, legs that hit me (hoping they’re not gators I am sure!!), there will be things that happen that I have no idea of- I will surprise myself- whether it is good or bad at some point in the race, I will learn at least 1-2-3 new things for sure.

*I am HUMBLED/SCARED/REMINDED of race conditions:  we only can ever do what we can do… When you get to a race of this level, it isn’t just how far can you push yourself…. Your body definitely cannot be fooled into something that is past its limit.  At the same time, I am well reminded that the MIND HAS A HUGE place in what happens on race day.

*I am READY. I am ready to believe in myself, to go out and have FUN, to celebrate being OUT in Florida, in WARM, ON MY NEW bike BLACK LIGHTENING😊 I am ready to see some people that will be down there that I’ve been in touch with, ready to race alongside people who have also challenged themselves for months- done the work- woken up at odd hours, pushed through fatigue, had some great workouts, but also some that reduced them to tears.  I’m ready to be out there with others learning and living !

*I am hoping to go check in to race, not sure about getting in water to do any of the pre race swim “festivities” since I am so nervous about …. The creatures lurking within those waters.  However, I do plan to run around the lake and drive at least part of the bike course.  I’m excited to go to a different race expo/packet pickup – I am so used to the races that I’ve grown accustomed to, and I really do need to do this- to again step out of my “comfort”  (not that my current races are COMFORTABLE, haha!) but… just to put myself into the unknown!!

*I am working myself mentally through the morning of the race: arriving with excitement, and a good dose of apprehension.  I need to remember to say nice things to myself.  I always go and see these fit looking people and freak out in my head wondering if I even have worked out recently!!  I always doubt myself, and I am going to work to remind myself of the weekly work I’ve done. 

*I also am in WAVE 12, which is 3 waves from the end- over an HOUR AFTER the race begins, ugh. BUt.. it is what it is.  I have to have some strategies to keep myself pumped during that time, excited but calm, and not lose the "race feeling" and motivation as I see an hour worth of age groups come before me!
*The swim:  I am planning to get in, and swim on the right side of the “m” course.  I know people have said don’t be on the edges, but I’m also afraid to be in the middle and have a panic attack by getting too many people’s body parts touching me.  The right side allows me to breathe to my right more often, plus cuts me a shorter line to the first buoy/turn.  I’ve worked on my swim and although it isn’t where I want it to be, I have done all that I could for now.  Nothing is made or broken in the swim, and I will remember that as I swim, stay strong, but also use the least amount of energy appropriate to get out strong and begin my real race.


My bike:  I am looking forward to doing my first race on my  new bike.  I’ve gotten fairly comfortable with it, and although it definitely feels different and lighter, I am ready to race it.  I will be aggressive, but also careful.  I am not afraid to push the bike, but also am very good historically at being smart at doing that.  Some people may not be comfortable at the intensity that I race the bike at (with a run after) but I think I’ll be okay with pushing it. 

I will take posture breaks along the way, check in with my back and MOST OF ALL:  the race can be MADE DURING THIS PORTION DUE TO NUTRITION, so:

My plan is to begin first 5 miles with water only.  I will then add in some food- fig newtons first.  (yes odd, I don’t even like fig newtons UNLESS I am on the bike).  (I may carry a banana to have early bike also, or maybe just at least half or a few bites of banana).  Then I will back off the food and go back to water.  I’ll then at about 20-30 miles begin taking in sports drink.  30-40 miles I am going to have probably ½ a power bar.  Definitely all food will stop by 43/44 miles for 12 miles of just water.

*I also am going to have No/Doz pills as well as one of those energy bomb little shot things.  I am unsure still about taking any salt in (depending on weather).

Mentally starting at 40 miles on the bike I need to get myself ready to run… To KEEP MY EDGE HERE IS WHERE I SOMETIMES STRUGGLE.  I lose caffeine and that hard edge/mojo/feeling that it does in fact matter!!  And I become “soft”  like I decide to let myself be comfortable and “enjoy” the race!!  (aka letting myself off the hook)…  I have to remind myself that enjoying the race is also happening when I am present…. When I am honoring the months of work I’ve done, the miles I’ve spent preparing, the sacrifices / time/energy/choices I’ve made along the way.  So I need to balance this awareness/edge/competitive fire while not getting too ahead of myself and pushing too far too much too soon… There is such a fine line and I have to really flirt with that and be right there dancing around it and loving it and making friends with it.

The run:  off the bike I am hoping I can stand!

Haha. Seriously.  If not, I plan to find a tree if possible and see if I can kind of hang a bit from it to stretch my back out… I’ve been able to do this in training and it helps me get upright again!  (I am imagining if you are still reading this, now it has become very bizarre sounding!)  Anyway:  hopefully I can manage the heat which I haven’t even had 1 workout in!!  (although I’ve been training in the basement without a fan for the run, so hopefully this gives me a little bit of help).

I am going to remind myself first 2 miles:  easy does it.  Not “easy” but not hard.  Just moderate, run, and be upright and enjoy the first half of the loop.  Each loop is 4.5 miles and we have 3x around the lake.  This is both good and bad.  I can see my family at beginning, 2x during and then again END.  HOWEVER.  I also don’t LIKE crowd support, it gets me all tight and I don’t really want people “looking at me” (here is where I just hear my kids saying to each other:  you’re looking at me, ugh_).. anyway.. I like to be out on a trail alone, but.. I think every 3 loops having a crowd I’ll just manage and remain calm😊

I’m going to take that first loop to get an idea of what that beginning pace is.  And then 2nd lap,I’m going to work really hard to make sure I keep it OR GENTLY GENTLY GENTLY increase it.. I do not want my LEG MUSCLES maxed (yet).  I need to keep it aerobic. Goal is to not stop.  I’ve read about this race that some of the hills aren’t worth running up- however, I’ll see for myself pre-race and do my best to remind myself that a slow run is still much faster than a walk😊

Last lap.  I know I’ll be excited and READY.. I am not sure how I will feel at 9 miles HEARING the finish line but not being one of those who gets to stop… (wave #12- so I’ll be one of the last 3 waves to go….. this is a HUUUGE bummer, but it is what it is.) just GO…. I am going to possibly remind Ryan and the kids to remind ME when they see me to “not give up”…giving up is so easy- you can still “finish” while giving up, and that isn’t the way I intend to finish.  That doesn’t really FEEL AWESOME.  I remember my best Eagleman race- sub 5 hour finish- I remember knowing with 3 miles left that I was RIGHT ON THE LINE of being able to finish under 5 and I literally every step I took told myself to run like my ass was on fire.    I was trying to run away from my own heels.  Every step I was focused/aware, I was literally no nonsense out there, on a mission.  I think it helped that I was SO borderline- if I had been maybe a little over 5, I wouldn’t have worked that hard and THAT is what I want to channel NO MATTER WHAT in this race.. (because it isn’t going to be a race that is a sub 5 hour finish with the hills)…. So time doesn’t matter, EFFORT DOES.  I have 6 days to recover after this race.  6 days to be in florida.  Lay my silly self on the sand and roll.  So go.  GO SHARON with all of your BEING, with all of your HEART AND LEGS AND SOuL AND BACK! GO GO GO!!! To the END!!!!

So yes.  I am trying to qualify for World Championship- 70.3 distance (half Ironman) in September/Chattanooga.  I qualified last year, but it was in Australia and couldn’t do that.   I would love to qualify now.  If not, I will give it my all again at Eagleman in 9 more weeks.  BUT:  I intend to race to my potential this Sunday and have a HOOT of a time doing it😊!


*manage discomfort.... are you okay right now in this minute (don't get ahead of yourself and "worry about 5 miles from now"... are you okay RIGHT now, then take it).

*you can be comfortable or you can be courageous

*no one said this would be easy (I use this all the time)
*Patient and persistent:  this is my new favorite one-- I just taught a girl power fit class (tween age) and we focused a few of our days on being patient (in an active and aware way) and persistent to the end:)
*if I'm at a real bad place, I have to FIERCELY BELIEVE in all of my past experiences of FIGHTING THROUGH and that it DOES ease up.... that in another mile or 2, there is a whole new feeling that I will struggle with then... so just get THROUGH the issues.
*ordinary is not my goal.
*is this my best?  being truthful with myself... honoring the commitment I've put in so far.
*you don't get what you wish for, you get what you make happen:)