Monday, June 12, 2017

Eagleman 2017 race report

This was my 10th Eagleman!
Quick things I learned:
*ALWAYS bring a roll of extra TP.  Eagleman is always so prepared, but.. not this year.  An hour before the race started, one of the  main sections of port o pots ran out of TP.  An awesome lady in my line had an extra roll and handed like 10 sheets to everyone.  **she is my new best friend😊
*speaking of port o pots (and then I”ll be done with this subject)(for now… why is there so much bathroom talk in 70.3’s.)… I need to remind myself that there is no shame in getting out of one, and then walking immediately back to the line to stand in line again… bc… race morning jitters create immense havoc on  my system… (but the pepto bismol must have done the trick because it was fine after this!)
*wherever you go, there are gems:  met a woman before the race who was all talking herself up to me and ended with:  “I’ll see you at the finish, I’ll cheer for you.” (ughhhhh like she’s going to be done so far ahead of me and just lounging around cheering for me because I’m going to be so far behind her”??!!!  OK, so my competitive juices began flowing.
 *once again I was reminded:  wear what you want- NOTHING MATTERS OUT THERE ON THE COURSE.  I am so normally not wanting to have anyone see my stomach and wouldn't wear a 2 piece, but honestly- out there- who cares... and once again I was reminded that it is fine and doesn't really matter and who cares.  If someone sees a roll, they can just pass me by... if they can:)

Race morning was awesome: woke up feeling great, got to race site, and literally parked like 50 feet from transition area- they opened up the field to parking—SO thankful- makes it so much better to not have to walk far with all of your stuff especially afterwards in heat/tired/etc.
AND… there is ALWAYS a beautiful sunrise at Eagleman.  Seriously.  I saw this and committed myself to doing this race FOREVER!!!  (more on that later).

I just feel at HOME doing this race.  Sometimes I get on myself for not always doing NEW and different ones.. but I also like how I truly kind of feel at HOME here.  10 years and – I just know the ins and outs of the park, course, set up, etc.  I felt such gratitude for having that sense of “belonging” and feeling at home.

Swim start:  This years swim was in REVERSE!  Weird- 10 years and this is the first they have done that.  But it was fine.  The reason they did it was because something about the current and that this would benefit us (but honestly.. it is not the purpose of a ½ IM to do things to benefit us or make it “easier” or “faster” for us….)  The way out was INTO the current, so I tried to make sure my arm cadence was UP so the current wouldn’t push me back as far.  The way out/beginning of swim always SUCKS how I feel though—I feel good for 90 seconds, and then start thinking ohhhhh I’m tired.. Ohhh yikes, I’m in open water and my legs are feeling tired and it irks me that LEGS feel it since I am SWIMMING. (and no, I am not kicking hard- had wetsuit on today, don’t know… just weird to me that my LEGS have a sense of panic in them?!)  anyway.. got over that about 5 minutes in and then it was FUN! I actually LOVE swimming open water.. just after that 5 min.  When we did our first turn, I knew that I had to make sure I didn’t get pushed INWARD of the buoys so I focused on going hard here also, knowing that at the next turn, the current was supposed to be behind us.  When I did turn though.. honestly.. I have to still wonder- was it behind us?  Never felt it helping me at all.  I was thinking, Hmmmmm if current is behind us for the longer part, maybe I can get my best time.  I didn’t, but it was right in the middle of where I’ve been… kind of wishing I was a bit faster because I even had my wetsuit on, so I feel like I had a lot going for me and I also FELT real strong.. feel that I sighted well and remained tight with the buoys /line of the course.. but…  overall was happy with this.
Bike: So, I got on my bike well/ had a good quick transition/ got going well. The bike was mostly really UNEVENTFUL- so good, right?! A few things:
·        I felt like I really never was PUSHING HARD… hmmm… felt SOLID, but didn’t feel FAST.  The winds were AT US early like miles 8-25ish?  Which I’ve also never had headwinds at that point- usually they are on 2nd half.  So it was just different (I was wondering if this was related to why they switched our swim- if winds were affecting currents and they were opposite normal?)  anyway, doesn’t matter, just something I noticed.
·        Drank NUUN for first 5 miles, perpetuum from 5-10 then started taking in some food at mile 10. UGH, I was ANNOYED at having to eat.  I did force myself to a bit.  BUT.. I just get so annoyed at having to eat during exercise when I do not WANT to.  But I did, then went back to perpetuum (protein drink) I just didn’t feel like FOOD TODAY but knew I had to try.  I had a bottle of 5 hour energy I drank on bike as well, then went back to NUUN and a blackberry gel…. Picked up water from the stop at mile 45ish and got it to go well into my between the bars drink holder (was worried about slowing down, but I had a great volunteer that jogged a bit to make the handoff easier; also was worried about having it go into my holder but it worked great.)  I also took BASE salt at mile 30/40/50.  (more on BASE SALT later).
·        So… mile 40, I knew I had to pee a bit.  (if you are bashful or offended reading about pee, carry on to the next bullet).  So….. I thought ok, here we go, pee now while biking and it’ll save you time (yes if you don’t do long distance tris- this is what we do.. HOWEVER I suck at this…)AND….. a friend of mine (yes, Koen, you)… was behind me and I wasn’t sure how far back and I would have honestly possibly DIED if he passed me while I was peeing (his son is in my son’s grade/class and….. you know… just didn’t really feel like that would be a memory he could ever get rid of).  So everytime I tried, I just couldn’t do it.  So during that 10 miles, I probably had 5x where I slowed down ridiculously/tried to not pedal (while trying to “go”) and then just gave up and knew I needed to push.  Never went and decided ok.. just stop in transition or real quick on the run course when I get there and go fast.  NEXT YEAR I COMMIT TO NOT EVER TRYING THIS. NO NEED TO SLOW DOWN, just stop for 20 seconds in port o pot rather than wasting this silly time trying/slowing down/losing focus.  I LEARNED.  THIS WAS A BIG MISTAKE and I WILL NOT MAKE IT AGAIN.
·        The oddest thing about this years bike was how I FELT mentally. Normally at like mile 40-45, I think, “hmmmm I’m really ready to get off this bike now.”  TODAY: I felt like that at mile like 20.  AARRGHH! That is not good, right?!  I don’t know why.  I kept saying to myself, “Sharon, this is patience, you are just being impatient with time and you want to like see how you’re going to do today.”  Or maybe it was the wind and I wasn’t going as fast mph during first 25 miles????  Not really sure.  I was annoyed by myself for continuing to think that.  I just felt like the miles weren’t ticking by fast.  On the FLIP side…. At mile 40 usually I do start to feel pretty fatigued and slowing down…. Today I never had that feeling of leg fatigue.  My BACK was fatigued though starting at like 20 miles, so that was also worrisome and so maybe it was WORRY that overshadowed my feelings during the bike.  I just felt like it was “tedious” and I wish I hadn’t felt that way.
Run:  I didn’t feel terrible as I sometimes do in the beginning.. I think I had myself mentally prepared to have NO EXPECTATIONS and to not get “worried” about how I was feeling.  I started/ I knew it wasn’t fast, but I just thought, that is ok.. stay steady/ follow the plan.  And I did.  Mile 3 though… here it came.  My freaking STOMACH.  UGH. I get this at Eagleman.  It is not a stomach cramp, it is like my ribs get big/bloated in that area and I have a hard time INHALING.  I have huge ribs so I usually try to take my fingers and literally put them UNDER the rib bones  (can everyone do this or are my ribs truly just way sticking out there) and I push my fingers around the underneath of the ribs to kind of try to break up the “cramp” or whatever it is.  And I also try to exhale and focus on belly breathing- making my stomach soft/rising/falling rather than it being held too tight.  It didn’t really help and so I was right by a big boulder/rock and I grabbed it /leaned over and stretched out my ribs/back.  And it went away.  Got it once again to SOME extent- not to the extent that I had to stop and stretch again, but I kind of slowed/relaxed my stomach/  made myself exhale really hard.  I don’t know if it is my stomach muscles TIGHTING up so quick/impulsive reaction to the ice water that I pour over me/ice being put into my swimsuit.  I have to wonder if my muscles like CLENCH from this ice?  (but I need it to stay cooled).
So I really kept steadily (slow) during the first 5, really just trying to run UNDER the intensity that I was thinking would blow up  my rib area more.  I had a fuelbelt on so mostly drank that, another 5 hour energy and at aid stations put ice water over me/ ice in my suit/ AND….. here we go.
I AM AN ADDICT.  OK< I have been thinking about this for quite some time.  At every 70.3, they have soda on the course.  I don’t even really drink diet soda anymore, BUT… during a race (and after), the best thing I want/CRAAAAVE is the bubbles of diet soda. HOWEVER, when I get that stomach bloat thing, I wonder if it is from the bubbles??  (although I had the stomach issue today BEFORE the soda)…. BUT: MY RULE IS NO SODA. DO NOT DO IT SHARON. DO NOT DO IT.  And at 70.3 florida, I drank soda.  Seriously, it is like I CANNOT resist.  I have this rule and I just honestly don’t even think about it, I think, “I don’t’ care, I want it.” And take it.
And today I did it again.. and thought.. there it is.  I am honestly a “soda during a 70.3 addict”.  I honestly have this feeling in my mind that that is maybe what it is like for an addict who knows they are not supposed to drink or use whatever, but they DO IT anyway…. (I am not meaning this to make light of drug/alcohol addiction) but for me, I have to wonder if this is similar.  ANYWAY.
THEN I REALIZED at like mile 5 I hadn’t been doing my BASE SALT like I had intended.  I maybe had done 1 some point in those 5 miles.  So, I did 2 servings under tongue at mile 6.  IT HELPED ME SO SO MUCH OMG.  So I decided to do this every even mile marker.  I don’t eat anything salty, so to have that salt in my mouth made me feel gaggish- and my mouth would kind of water and I wasn’t sure if it would turn into getting sick… but it didn’t.  and I really do think it helped.
I also wore arm coolers for the first time.  Ok, honestly, I had no idea if this really would work.  AND…. I was frankly kind of bummed to have my forearms/part of upper arm covered because ….. yea… I kinda like to get a tan.  BUT.. I DO ACTUALLY THINK THEY HELPED!!!  I would put some of my ice cubes in my arm coolers when I would get cups of ice and sometimes it was so so cold that I would take like ½ mile to try to tolerate that pain instead of the pain of running (fun times, haha!)…. But a few times I did think, I feel like my arms are so much cooler, as well as:  I often get goosebumps during EM even though it is hotter than hell.  I  NEVER had that today, not sure if it was arm coolers help OR the extra salt I was taking in.  Also, as hot as it was, it definitely wasn’t the worst Eagleman conditions ever.  There was a nice breeze at so many points that I felt and was so thankful for the breeze. 
Last 4 miles from 9-13.  I need to go see if I can find those splits. OMG, I felt SO SO SO MUCH BETTER during those miles than I did earlier!! I finished STRONG!!!  This was possibly my favorite part of the day.
The FUNNIEST part of the race happened at mile 9 when we were coming back on a hot road- a bunch of “beach grasses”(?not sure if this is what you call them—but like the big tall border grasses) were lining the road and in them, someone had placed a cutout of Sean Spicer so it looked like he was peering out at us through the bushes.  Too funny!
I loved finishing. I loved those miles and not feeling like it was the death of me!
I finished my 10th! And I did feel so happy to have finished.  No matter what, Eagleman is always an accomplishment, and I know that I owe it to myself to honor that.
Here is how I felt:  happy that I finished, happy and proud that I kept plugging away, disappointed in my times a little…. Frankly I wanted a little faster swim… a little faster bike.. and a WHOLE LOT FASTER run.  Disappointed that last year was 3rd in age group/ this year 6th.  Disappointed that it was over 10 minutes slower than last year.  Disappointed that with only 2 places per age group to go to worlds, I was sure one of the people above me would take it.  And this was a worlds I could go to- in Tennessee… I had hoped to go/visit my grandmother on the way/way back possibly….. I normally don’t do 3x 70.3/year, so this would be a bigger year than I am used to, and then next year I was hoping to go back to my favorite distance focus: oly. Distance. I was just "not impressed" by my race... so I decided to do my best Makayla Maroney (olympic gymnast) impression of not impressed:

I was tempted to wait it out until they announced slot allocation and make sure I didn’t get the opportunity, but the longer I was there, the more I knew I didn’t want to wait possibly a total of 4 more hours until awards with most certainty that I wouldn’t get the slot.  I really didn’t want to stay in the heat, I really wanted to get my legs into a cold pool and then take a shower.  I felt confident leaving, and I did just that: left, headed to pool, shower, then walked around the cute little town of Easton, MD…. Then ran to target quick since I rarely get to really go through target and had a few things/cards/bandaids etc to get… and… it was in target that I got a txt from a friend who said they rolled to me for Worlds, do I want it.  Texted back: YES, have blank check and can be there in 20 min.  he said he’d run and ask. And…. I got the text that they had rolled to the next person.  AND I WAS (am) DEVASTATED.  I was in line at that point trying to get OUT so I can run back to Cambridge if it worked and when I got that text, I literally got goosebumps/lost my blood pressure/ felt dizzy/dreamy and just devastated.  I got teary in line, and left and sat outside target, calling ryan sobbing.
I know that on the scale of life, this is FINE.  But it was my goal and I worked every dang day for this goal and I really wanted it.  I feel dumb for not staying, lazily wasting away my day that ended up in my giving my spot away. (not really “my spot” since it rolled to me also)…. I’m so sad. So annoyed, mad, sad. Boo.

It’s fine.  (not fine).

Friday, June 9, 2017

Here we are.

I am ready.

I know I am physically ready.  My workouts have confirmed that.
I have done a week of taper and have:
*eaten super healthy/forcing myself it feels to cut back the veggies/add in carbs (which is odd... I never have to urge myself to have some carbs!)
*slept and rested:  with forrest being sick, I really was able to take that day and take a nap (although I didn't sleep nearly any the night before because his fever had been up to the high 105's)...
*done exactly my workout plan and hit all my paces and felt great.
*stretched/rolled/did it all/massage/ last PT, etc.
I am READY.  Nothing else to say.

The work is done, the party needs to begin.
Forecast is for high 90's (95+) so my aim is to manage the heat.  that is my goal.  If I can do that, I've got this.
(so managing the heat means:  eat/drink on bike/take my no-doz/nutrition/salt; on run:  take fuelbelt, take ice at all stops, salt.).
I'm so excited!

HERE I COME EAGLEMAN for my 10th!!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Eagleman prep: RUNNING WITH JOY!

The run.  The race comes to the run.  It is BRUTAL and beautiful and I am happy to be on feet and then my feet are on fire (along with the rest of my body!)….. I love it/hate it. (love because I keep coming back to it)!
I already wrote a bit on the run, and I’m writing more… and I will write more… I’m down to 5 days left until race day!  And SO excited, but need to get myself ready mentally for run.
I am always happy to get off of bike- just no more RISK of tire stuff happening/dangerous stuff.
ONTO feet.  Then within a matter of ¼ mile I’m like HOLY SH&T it is burning out here.  And I will try again this year to turn that into a love affair with the sun😊

I love heat and sun, BUT.. I am a human being and it obviously limits performance.  Your body quickly goes into survival mode and you aren’t really “running” like a real “run”… It is like you are surviving mile to mile. 
And for the first 5 miles of the course, I am going to literally just remind myself that I am running full of JOY.  I love running, I love the training for it, the work, the measured results, no equipment basically and just yourself out there.  Running makes me happy and this is a race that just celebrates all of that time that I’ve had to put in hours and hours of running.  I’ve held around 40 miles of running/week so far through the year, so that is nearing 500 miles of training that I’ve put in so far.  (I am doing totally rough math in my head- approximating because there have been some weeks lower due to other races/travel etc)..point being.  Work is done.  Totally am where I want to be.  I’m right there. So now, RUN WITH JOY.  I will be focused, but every step I want to have an element on my heart of joyfully living this dream of mine.  I wouldn’t do triathlons unless I loved them, and I do.  They fuel me and fire me up and inspire me and I truly love my training AND the racing. .  I am not saying when you see me out there I’m going to be out there on the course leaping and bounding with a smile!  DEFINITELY NOT.. but that inner joyfulness will be felt within my heart.  IN FACT, although these first 5 miles are going to be JOYFUL, they will be MIXED with (as I said before), an element of NON-EMOTION.  I plan to very much remain poker faced and focused on not feeling too much, just an overwhelming STEADINESS. (so to sum that up:  joy/non-emotion/steady).

I’m going to turn into the next phase 5-10 miles filled with PURE GRATITUDE.. BECAUSE I AM.
I’m seriously entirely grateful to be out there and capable of doing this.  Particularly this year, I am almost amazed that I can.  My back has been a bear to fix this year.  It went out last November and even this year in March, I was having trouble sitting and standing.  (although yes, I could actually RUN easier than I could sit or stand)….  I am so grateful because I have never experienced physical pain to that degree before.  (we won’t go into emotional pain…. Been there…) But the searing NERVE PAIN was really getting to the point of messing with my head and really making me quite irritable and unhappy overall.  I’m so thankful to feel better and be more comfortable.  AND ABLE TO CHASE MY GOALS!  I’m just thrilled and honored to set these goals and work towards them.  I truly, to every cell in my being, am grateful for my health and body.  I am so fully aware of not taking this for granted.
I’m not saying miles 5-10 are going to be peace mixed with some sort of Buddha gratitude.  I am sure there will be none of that written on my face!  HOWEVER, I will be aware through the pain that I expect to push through, that the gratitude is what I will be aware of in my heart.

Miles 10-13.1---- GO DIG DEEP.  GET IT DONE.  With joy and gratitude, but… whatever.. let in a lil bit of fight/fierce/run wit your arms/keep cadence because once it is gone it is GONE.  Don’t let it go.  You will recover.

Friday, June 2, 2017

SHOWING UP at Eagleman...

Yep I skipped yesterday- was trying to write everyday but didn’t.
So today is not about the physical training, the sports, the mental toughness.
It is about the strength it takes me to SHOW UP and be okay with  myself.
ISN’T THAT CRAZY!?  I know.  It isn’t logical, but our minds don’t always follow logic.

I have trained since January (along with trying to get back to STANDING after my back went out, ahem)… as hard as I could for this race (not that every day/workout/week was “hard” but hard meaning SMART)… anyway… I am fit and ready.  Logically I know this.  HOWEVER.. I also know … from YEARS of being ready.. that for  me, SHOWING UP and not fluttering away with zero self confidence can be the hardest thing for me.
It is true.  I park and pull into the (already hot) gravel parking lot outside of Sailwinds… and no matter if I am with my family or on my own… even before exiting the car, I feel “less than.”   Like I am kind of FAKING my way --- an imposter!  Taking up someone else’s space… taking up too MUCH space… not belonging.  If I know 10-20 people there and see them, or if I know NOONE, I have some level of a feeling of not belonging, being an outsider, guilty of (I’m not really sure.. but just somehow guilty)?!
And…. Walking into the building for packet pickup… I see… MUSCLES.  Oh my GOD EVERYONE IS FIT!!!!!  (regardless that within the last 24 hours I was probably scrunching up my own face and nose at my own arms that have weird-ball veins that seem to pop out at this time of year (increased blood flow plus a little bit leaner, plus just genetics).. BUT…. At that moment, again…. I see FIT PEOPLE of which I do not include myself!  I see muscles- lean bodies, tall bodies, long limbs, SWIMMER bodies, runner bodies…..  I don’t see myself fitting in.  I feel large and wierdball.  I feel like a frumpy fake and ohhh everyone else is in their cycling shorts and… I hear people talking about miles and they just got OFF their bikes… and I hear talk about races they just completed and I begin to think….
Did I work out recently! Haha!  (yes I did and it is very well logged—every week I’ve been 2+x swimming/ 40miles/week running and biking a significant amount… as well as all of the other elements of training that come into play: yoga/strength/conditioning/rolling/rest/physical therapy/ nutrition etc). 
But.. me being me… cannot see or remember that!
I see other people previewing the course and think it must all be so easy for them!
**And 2 weeks of mental training that I do, self confidence building- reminding myself of how well trained I am… and THESE ARE THE THINGS that I think upon ARRIVING AT RACE SITE!!!
So, I take a deep breath, remind myself that I BELONG… that I MORE THAN belong.
I start the swim each year in my age group wave, kind of again feeling like… ahhhhh…. I’m like a kid in this group--- beginner level---- only because my swim is not my strength.  SILLY.  And I know this.  But it takes effort to talk myself through.  To talk myself into finding my space exactly where I want to begin/ not moving over out of deference to someone who may swim faster.  They can pass me.  I deserve the space I am in.
I was an oddball triathlete who kept my first- very low level entry -level tri bike since 2003 up until this year, so 14 years.. (unheard of. It is essentially like still wearing my high school jeans… which…. I sadly also still do)(wear things long enough and they come back in style actually!!!).. anyway…. For years, I’d see people arriving with what probably were very high level pricey bikes and I kind of thought, ahhhh man, I’m on like a toy bike….  But I reminded myself:  IT IS NOT ABOUT THE BIKE- it is about the ENGINE.. and I KNEW from experience that I could stand strong…my bike is always top of the women, but it wasn’t my natural reaction.  I had to talk myself through that and remind myself of that and just keep busy/moving/inwardly focused.  This year I have a new bike.  I am happy to have the technology on my side, but I also will be reminding myself that I am the very capable engine that could…. And can… and WILL….

Eagleman is a HOT AS HELL race usually.  It is notorious for this.  I never wore a 2 piece swimsuit in my life until I realized it helps me at Eagleman to stay a bit cooler and also to hold ICE better.  Growing up in a leotard for gymnastics, a one piece swimsuit even through college, on my honeymoon etc… I am like a fish out of water in a 2 piece.  I stand at the start line thinking, please don’t let me see anyone I KNOW!!!!!  It is only when the race begins and I am in the think of being in a place I am comfortable that I begin to realize that I could care less what others think, and that I am fit and have nothing to worry about.No automatic alt text available.
So… in short, race weekend is a weekend full of internal self talk reminding myself that I am worthy of being there, that I have done an amazing job preparing, that I am as ready as I need to be and even MORE!  It is a weekend of reminders to stop judging myself, to stop negative self talk, to stop drinking in the nonsense that I don’t matter, that I am not enough, and to not make excuses for myself.  I am glad I am aware that these are not logical thoughts I have, glad that I know that these thoughts and any negative self talk do not serve me well or lead me to a place I want to go to…or to a place I belong.. (no one does!!!) 

I need to remind myself that I did not start out with an endurance capability, but I have trained myself hard for years.  That I won’t play mind games with anyone trying to play mind games with me, that I am there as the culmination of a test of what I have done over 5 months, and that the day is a celebration, a party on the roads.  The results are not who I am, but the work I put into the preparation IS WHO I AM!  No automatic alt text available.