Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Amazing Race - Barrelman

Well, it's time.  This morning, I leave for 'Oh Canada' for my A race of the season - Barrelman Triathlon, a 70.3 race that will be not only a season wrap on 2019 but also the first time I've ever raced outside the country.  It should be a fun, wild ride that I cannot wait to share with Greg and my good friends Bruce and Ryan (aka Outlaw).

It's also my "A" race of the season.  Back when I developed my tri plan of the year, it included Pittsford Sprint, Cayuga Olympic, and Barrelman.  My super secret goal for the year was to train my "pants" off and go under 6 hours for Barrelman - something I had been trying to do since 2009.

Wow.  So much has happened.  I can say that with respect to my planned races, my goal times, and basically, 2019 in a nut shell.  We all know that I went out and raced all the races - I look back at Keuka Sprint (that time I came in 4th overall and had a taste of podium chasing), Tri in the Buff Olympic (that time I actually did come in 3rd overall and they cancelled the awards ceremony due to rain - but I STILL podiumed!)  Musselman Half Ironman (that time I decided to try to come in 6:10 and shave twenty minutes off my PR and instead.....shaved almost an hour off with a time of 5:36 (I still don't believe this)).  Then there was Cayuga, where I came in 6th overall and was actually...disappointed I didn't podium.  And Finger Lakes, two weeks ago, where I came in 5th overall but netted a new 10k PR!

I won't even start on running races.  This is about tris.  I look at the year and seriously am in awe of it all - I never thought I would be that fast, sure, but there's a bigger part to it.  I never thought it would be this damned much FUN.

I've talked about my training crew before - since the beginning of the year (yep, lets bring in running) I think about all of the people that have stepped into my life and have made it so damned fabulous.  From the early winter mornings of run training with The Rabbit, The Escort, Kellman, Dwyer and all the "Fire and Ice" Boston guys gave me a taste of what I could do out there on a run course.  You blew away my expectations for what my favorite part of the sport could actually mean in terms of speed, and even with sub zero wind chills, those Sunday mornings were so much fun.  I can't wait to do it again in 2020.

IBR crew - Fire and Ice!
My tri- go fam - You guys have made multi sport fun again, something I'm not sure I could have said again.  Between slow runs, hill work and "arrow" on the bike, swim sessions complete with raunchy jokes and boy humor - as well as all the fun we have had hanging out outside the tri world, I really don't know how I could have found a better group of guys to hang out with - you make me faster, you make it more fun, and you make me feel like "me" again - not as a mommy, an "adult" - just Rae, Pants, one of the crew.  It's been epic.
Honestly - my favorite race pic ever.
Tri Go Fam.

Bruce - well - you are in a class by yourself.  You have made bad decisions so much fun, and I have enjoyed the hell out of our miles - both the planned ones and the ones we do to piss off my coach.  You make the miles fly by and I can't wait to keep training with each other and chasing joy!

The Banter.  I don't even know what to say.  He's a member of tri-go, but also deserves his own shout out as my coach and friend.  You have been there for me every step of the way in this journey, even when I wasn't sure about it.  You inspire greatness and are such an amazing coach and a wonderful friend.  Thanks for taking a chance on me.

And, of course, Greg, Mr. Pants, Mr. Rae, "The husband".  This year has been such a damned amazing year - I still can't believe it.  But I do know I couldn't fathom one little bit of it without you by my side.  You have been my best friend, #1 supporter, and right there next to me for this crazy walk of life for the last 14 years.  I am such a lucky woman and I love you!!

Classic Team Glaser pic 
I am so damned fortunate to have such an amazing support crew for this.  As I prepped for my "A" race, I have had some anxiety about it in the last month.  I've blogged about it before - when you plan to go sub 6 hours in September and nail a 5:36 in July, where do you go from there?

You keep going.  Of course you do.  But I've realized, with the help of a few special people in my life, that it isn't always about the number. This is my "A" race.  My AMAZING race.  This is the race to go out there, soak in every minute, have a blast with my friends, do it up for those that can't be there, and, as was my ENTIRE goal for 2019, to go fucking love this sport again.

I LOVE THIS SPORT.  And I'm gonna go enjoy Every. Second. of my day tomorrow.  I'll be racing for everyone I just talked about above - you guys are always on my mind - and I'll be racing for me.  Because one year ago, I never thought I would be here.  And I am so freaking happy that I am.

Uhhhh....while doing it fast, of course.  I never said I didn't have goals.  After all, I am a Tri-Go girl.  We do EVERYTHING FAST!!!

Barrelman 2019 - let's do this!!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Finger Lakes 2019: Crazy Train

I really can't think of a better artist to portray this race report than with some Ozzy - from soup to nuts, this whole race was literally going off the rails "like a crazy train".  The fact that 2019 has been themed mostly by addressing my train wreck tendencies on the bike makes this even more perfect of a post.

On to the real story of Finger Lakes.  I signed up for the race about 3 weeks pre race, thinking it would be a great tune up for Barrelman, which was two weeks out from the race.  Time to test my kit, nutrition, bike, new goggles and race mental skill set a few weeks prior to go into the "A" race ready to go!  (More on that whole "A race" later).  In the 3 weeks post sign up, everything that could go wrong, would.  First we learned that the 25 mile bike course form 2017 that was switched to 19 miles in 2018 would remain 19 miles for 2019 (um, without the construction of 2017).  Lame.  I wanted a full Oly, even though the shortened bike was probably to my benefit. But ok.

Clean bike ready to go!
 I set the crazy goal of going under an hour for the bike course, which for 850 ft elevation gain seemed a stretch, but doable (my coach did not concur and set the bar at 1:03-1:05.  Who was victorious?  Read on).  Then my buddy Matt decided to not race, due to his foot and school commitments.  Lame.  One family member down.  The Banter opted for the Sprint, as did Greg.  Bruce (new training buddy, courtesy of the Outlaw) and the Outlaw opted for the Oly, like me (though they could take a nap in the space between their finishes and mine, but no mind.  They are both racing Barrelman with me in a few weeks and I fully expect a few piggy back rides.  Ahem).  2 days pre race, we were informed that the blue green algae in Canandaigua Lake was unsafely high  and that the tri would now be a duathlon - a one mile run, 19 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run.  WTF.  You would expect the swimmers of the group (um, all of them) would be most offended by this change - and they were.  But I was a close second, as I knew a few of the women racing were not strong swimmers and that I could likely best them in the water.  (Who am I, thinking like a swimmer here?  I know, I was shocked, too).   Oh well.  much like the shortened bike, what can you do but give it hell. I set a soft goal of coming in under 2 hours - 8 minute run, 1 hour bike, 48 minute 10k and whatever the hell transition brought me.

The day before the race my buddy Bruce invited me to do a 100 mile ride with him, which I wisely declined.  He then asked if we could do a 10 mile cool down post race, which seemed like a fantastic compromise.  (Don't tell my coach.)  (Uhhh, never mind.  he knows.  And yes, I paid for it.  He is a smarter person than me).

Hi, my name is Dunkin...
Where were we?  Right, pre race.  We had an uneventful night Saturday and headed out to Canandaigua with little fanfare race morning.  Until I pulled out my USAT card at check in....and a Dunkin gift card.  OMFG.  I forgot my ID.  In years of racing, I have never done this.  The woman at check in asked if anyone could verify my existence, and literally called the RD to confirm I wasn't some crazy banditting girl nuts enough to wake up at 5am and steal Rae Glaser's identity (please, take it.  All yours). (I jest.  She did her job and did it well.  I am a moron).

I can really only describe transition as a party.  We set up quickly without wetsuit crap and hung out with everyone pre race, hitting the potty a few times and just being social.  I decided to do a pre race warm up with Mary Eggers, and we did a nice easy mile while catching up and just shaking things out.  Ran into on my coach on the way back to transition who yelled out "That's my girl!"  (Save it for the race, Banter.  But thanks).  We also saw the outlaw who reminded us that the race started with a run, so WTF were we doing.  (Thanks, Ryan.  I appreciate your wisdom, buddy).

Run 1:  7:10 (1.15 miles/6:57 pace) 
I went off in wave 2, so before the gun went off, I got some hugs from my teammates and found my coach, who probably had some excellent wisdom that I don't remember (poor guy).  My instructions were to keep mile 1 at an easy 7:30-7:45 pace (it kills me that this is "easy pace".  I lined myself up close to the front next to Wendy, a Rochester Running Company friend and super runner.  The gun went off  and I realized really quickly that there were some super talented runners in the field.  Wendy and I seemed to be running at a reasonable pace and we were about 8-9 women back.  We hit mile 1 in 6:52 and T1 in 7:10.  Holy crap.  I realized at that point that any lofty ambitions I had of a decent placement were out the window based on who showed up (who we later found out it was the Cornell Tri team....bif!)  Again, oh well.  Let's hit this crazy train!

Bike:  1:00:36 (18.8 miles, 18.8 mph pace - Take that, Banter!)
I mounted my bike with little fanfare and was off for the ride.  I did this course in 2017, and honestly didn't remember much except the tight out and back of transition (TWSS?)  The first mile of the bike sucked.  I got stuck in a clump of people all going much slower than I wanted to with little room to pass.  This finally abated about 1.5 miles in and I let it fly.  My whole goal of the bike was to shift and to not kill my legs.  My instructions were to hold 170 watts, but my bike computers seem to hate me and malfunction at every single race, so I had speed, time, and no power.  WTF.  Oh well.  Keep going.  4 miles in I heard someone yell out "Arrow"! as the Outlaw passed me, calling me out for not getting my ass into aero.  I yelled out "Pineapple!" our team safe word - why, I don;t know.  It seemed the thing to do.  Maybe I was safe wording aero.  Who knows.  About mile 5, I finally settled into the bike, shifting well and finally downshifting to ride the descents, which were super fun.  We made a tight right turn at mile 9 and HOLY SHIT WHATS THAT HILL.  I vaguely remembered my friend Kim, who was doing the sprint, joking how she was glad she didn't have that hill...she wasn't kidding.  It was the same hill we ran up for the Can half, and it had to be at least 9-10% grade.  Did I get into my small chain ring? No, I did not.  I am such an idiot.  (Though I did pass several people grinding my gears and somehow got two QOMs on Strava doing so, so....uh....there).  The last 9 miles of the bike I tried to spin out, hammer the downhills, and not be a wimp.  Coming back into T2 i knew a sub hour would be close, and once again, got stuck in the coned area with little room to pass (I actually thought you weren't supposed to pass.  Turned out that what I thought the husband said....wasn't true and you could.  Whoops).  I pulled into T2 in 1:00:36, faster than my coach's projection (yay!) and :37 slower than I wanted to (yeah, yeah.  Arrow.  I know). was time to run!

Run:  44:37 (new 10k PR! - 7:22/mi)

I ran out of T2 with a big ass smile on my face, as I usually do.  God I love the run!  This run course is a two looper, pretty flat and some great chances to see friends on the course.  My instructions were to hold a 7:30 pace for the first 5k and let it rip for the second loop.  My first mile clocked in at 7:42 and I began to doubt myself - seemed a little slow, but let's settle in and see what happens.  I saw my friend Jeremy between mile 1 and 2 and he became my race photographer - thanks buddy!  I started having a blast, passing people (sadly, no women - I figured I was in 9th place at this point, as I came in run 1 in 10th and passed one woman on the bike).  Mile 2 took forever to come, until I looked down and saw I was 2.7 miles in - somehow I missed the beep.  Oops!  At this point, my buddy Bruce, who was on lap 2 and I saw at the turn around, was gaining on me, and yelled out "I'm coming for you, Rae!"  I yelled out "Dammit Bruce!"  and as he passed me, he yelled out "Your racing sucks!"  (Well, actually, it was "racing sucks" but my foggy brain misheard him.  Good thing.  I won't have to kill him now).  He veered off to finish, and my mile 3 clocked a 7:23, and the first 5k was a 22:31.  I'll take it.  I was feeling pretty good at this point, so I amped it up and nailed miles 4 and 5 in a mid 7:20 pace.  I started to get really tired here - I had been leapfrogging with one woman and really couldn't muster up enough energy to pass her.  She reassured me we weren't in the same age group and it woke me the hell up - if I settled now, I might not even place in my age group.  Well, we couldn't have that.  I turned on the gas, and saw a few women ahead of me.  Nope.  I can breathe in .5 miles.  I passed one, two, three, four women (said in my best Count voice) and sprinted that beast in, for a 7:02 final mile, and a shiny new PR for a 10k!

Post race - Greg, Sue, The Banter, Pants and the Outlaw
My overall finish time of 1:54:22 was good enough for 5th overall woman, behind 3 of those collegiate athletes.  I'll take it.  Less than a minute separated 5th and 10th place, which means kicking it in the end has merit!!

AG win!
Post race, Bruce and I did a 4 mile cool down, then hit the awards - we both won our age group and he had a freaking epic race!

....then we went out for another 6 miles.  Because he needed to hit 25 hours of training.  and because Bruce has horrible ideas.  And I like them.

So, for what its worth, Finger Lakes 2019 was a wrap.  It was not the race I wanted but I did what I could with the crazy train.

Next up is Barrelman half Ironman this upcoming weekend - its a race that was originally targeted as my A race of the season and the race to go under 6 hours.  Well, we know one of those is no longer a goal.  Stay tuned for pre race ramblings of an athlete tapering, coming soon to a blog near you!

Friday, September 13, 2019

DUH! Biz is 4!!

And then I blinked...and she was 4.  This crazy girl of mine is no longer a baby, or a toddler, we now have a full fledged "bizzy" little girl in the house!  Yesterday my little princess turned 4 and it was a day filled with all things "Frozen", cookie cake, barbie dolls and everything a big 4 year old could want!

Elisabeth, Biz, my Bixa - are such an amazing little girl.  Every year I say it but I just can't even believe how quickly you have grown from being a little snuggler in my arms to so much your own little person - you are such a neat kiddo that it is such a gift to be able to watch you navigate this world, on your own terms, taking it fully by the horns and going full tilt at everything you do.  You go girl!

So, let's talk about the Bizzle...

Size - 38 pounds.  You still have the best appetite on the planet - you love slurpy noddles (pasta), cheese, pizza, broccoli, bad popcorn (popcorn popped with oil) and chips.  You eat all the things and aren't picky.  Such a growing, big girl!

Likes: You still adore the color pink.  Anything Elsa from frozen.  You love playing with slime, kinetic sand, and drawing.  You ADORE dance parties, and really have a thing for Billie Eilish's " Bad Guy" (DUH!)  (way to go mom).  You also love riding your bike, and....hold the phone....your first boyfriend, Jackson (Watch out, Dad!)

Dislikes: Carrots.  Going to bed.  Being told No.  Peanut butter (you little weirdo).  You don;t have many, but are very adamant about when something doesn't suit you.  You'll be a great cop one day (your new career ambition). 

Sleep: You're pretty good at this, but when you wake up in the middle of the night, you need snuggles!  Thank goodness Mom and Dad finally bought a king sized bed, though you still tend to sprawl out like a drunken octopus looking for his car keys.  (Man that was a good one.  Wish I could take credit).

Eating: See above.  You love food so much!  I swear you eat more than I do sometimes - its really neat to watch.  Your favorites are goldfishies, pizza, broccoli, chips and french fries.
UPK/Pre K - You started full day Pre K this year!  Such a big girl!
Counting to 50 - You are such a smart kiddo.  Big bro helps out here!
Boyfriend - Yep, we met the boy next door (or about a half mile down the road).  Dad wants to have a talk with him....
Running!  You love running and can't wait to do your first mile run next month!

Best Moment: Oh baby girl, watching you bust out with all of your little "Biz"isms is just epic.  I love our dance parties to "Bad Guy" and "Sweet but Psycho" with cooking spoons as mics.  Doing Mommy Biz yoga (you are good!), playing with girlfriends (dolls) and our nighttime snuggle fests and Mommy singing your bedtime song "So In Love" (Tenerife Sea by Ed Sheeran).  Cooking and Baking together - Sunday pancakes are your fave. Really, it's the everyday wonder I see as you explore, sweetie.  I am so damned lucky to be your mommy and to see you experience the world full on!

Looking Forward to:  You start ballet next week and are so amped!  I can't wait to see my tiny dancer.  And to go to school open houses.  And to see all the wonderful creations you make. Every year gets so much more fun - Christmas, snow play, our first family vacation coming up this winter, and every little moment in between!  Thank you for making my world so much better every day just by being in it!  I love you!!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Qu'est-ce que Ironman?

So, I did a thing.

So much of a thing that I won't even name this post after a song title.  That's huge, guys.

So, remember Placid 2018?  Of course you do.  I won't shut up about it, will I?

That race sucked.  It was totally the end of the beginning.  Yep, you read that right.  The "Get back on the horse or give up the ghost" race, if you will.

Well, I think we figured that one out, didn't we?  2019, without a doubt, has been the year for Epic racing shit.  I'm so totally back in love with racing that I decided to go big or go home.

You know what I did.

I figured, if 140.6 went to die in 2018, and I spent 2019 rebuilding the concept of Swim, Bike and Run (still not there yet totally with the bike, we are totally working on shifting and "arrow" work, but I no longer stare at my bike in horror, so that's quite a huge leap!)....what's next?

Ironman, baby.  Ironman.  So I did what any freak triathlete normal person would do, and googled the races.  I did not want to go back to Placid yet - I've done the race twice, have not written it off forever, but I wanted to do new things.  So I narrowed it down - Chattanooga, Wisconsin, Mont Tremblant.

I talked to my husband.  I talked to my kids.  I talked to my coach.  I talked to myself (oh wait, I do that all the time.  That's nothing new).

The buy in was there.  The plan was there.  Everyone was on board.  Should I do it?

What a ridiculous question.  OF COURSE I'M GONNA DO IT.

 So, I did the thing:
Ironman Mt. Tremblant, here I come!  Or, should I say, Ironman Mont. Tremblant, je viens!

Official training starts November 23rd....stay tuned.  We still have a season to finish (quite fittingly, in Canada!)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Cayuga Lake Tri 2019: Down With the Sickness

Guys, I'm not gonna lie to you.  This is a tough race report to write.  I've sat on it now for over two weeks, and just have had a complete lack of desire to pen it.  But, like most things that are tough, this is worthwhile, even if its only to remind myself that not everything can be sunshine and rainbows and that, tough as it is, its ok to have a race you don't feel that great about.  So, as always, I'll just lay it out there for you.

If I'm honest with myself, I'd been in a slump for a week or so prior to this race - after the Walworth 5k, I managed to develop a low key illness that wasn't enough to render me useless, but enough to stymie any thoughts of being able to execute any workout of use beyond a laughable attempt at "recovery" pace.  I couldn't take a deep breath without coughing, my body hurt, and I felt slightly drunk half the time, with the world floating somewhere above me. (No, this was not as a result of the party the weekend of the 5k where I learned, I was not, in fact 22 anymore and had no business doing the amount of shots that I did.  Pineapple.  Ahem.)

Seems like a great way to enter a brand new to me race where the first 4 miles of the bike is all uphill, no?  Of course!  Greg and I signed up for this race through his tri team ( I' also a  member, though I usually race with the reapers) - RWB was cool enough to offer us free entry (Go Eagles!  Thanks RWB!)  We have always wanted to try this race, but the weekend has never been good.  Well, this year, Gramma was cool enough to share her birthday with a tri (aww) so we went for it!  

As luck would have it, Greg was feeling like crap as well - so crappy he debated doing the sprint.  Seemed pretty popular - of my five buddies that were doing the race, four opted for the sprint and one for the aquabike - with Greg and I as the lone hold outs for the Oly.  In the end, he decided to go for the Oly, which made me super proud.  Me, I was just hangin' out, figuring if I only had one gear to work with, I may as well go long.  Race morning, we left stupidly early, tried to cheer ourselves up with crappy 80s pop music, and I made the last minute choice to take cold meds with my bagel, figuring being able to breathe took precedence over feeling foggy (always a wise choice to make when debating high speeds on the bike).  We arrived at the race site and set up shop, hanging out with my "fam" - Matt (he has been upgraded from the Boy for sure), The Outlaw, and Coach Banter (that sounds so weird).  I got a last minute race plan which I heard little of beyond..."Hey, there's a swim, a bike and run" and appropriately nodded at each (sorry coach) and took a few pre race pics with Maria, Marcus and the RWB team before heading to the swim start.

Pre race I got in for a quick dunk - the water was ridiculously warm and I'm sure they dumped a bag of ice right over the spot where they took the temperature to determine if it was wetsuit legal or not.  Regardless, the water felt great and as luck would have it, my goggles decided not to snap or leak, which, sadly, is a huge accomplishment lately!

I was the second wave off, so after the anthem I gave out last minute high fives, kissed Greg and wished him luck as he went off in wave one, and got ready to rock.  Ummm...about that....

Swim: 29:21 (1:46/100)

The swim for this race was probably the sweetest set up I've seen.  It was an out and back, no double loop crap for the Olympic racers, and a nice cable a la IMLP to guide you.  YES.  I went out with the women 35 and over.  I lined up to the right and in front - I had no illusions of winning the swim, but I'm not afraid of contact and with the way I was feeling, I figured why not cut down on my swim distance and hug the line?  With little fanfare and encouragement from the announcer to have fun and "be nice" (apparently we looked like a shady bunch) we were off!  I have little to say about the swim except somehow I lacked the ability to sight with the easiest course ever invented and I pretty much felt like I was swimming a 1 x 1600 set at the y - totally fine, easy, and also not acceptable for a race.  I wish I cared.  I exited the water 3rd in my wave, which is actually pretty good for me, and found the bonus of having most of my friends in the sprint race - I got a great cheer from both The Banter and Marcus as I made my way into T1 - my own personal pep squad!  Sweet!

Bike: 1:19:12 (18.4 mph)

This bike course was both tough and technical - I had some vague instruction from my coach about the long climb out of T1 (which I saw driving in) and the technical descents, and also some pithy comments about where I could ride in aero (I think we both got a chuckle out of that one.  Oh wait, no, that was just me.  He looked mildly impatient with me, as I really didn't take his direction well.  Whoops).  I was super amped to finally have a bike computer to see my ride data somehow it auto powered down while I was swimming.  DAMMIT!  I had checked this pre race and was assured it would stay on, but I'm guessing you have to do something different with the settings to get it to not auto sleep.  And...I'm a moron. F(*#ck.  I was annoyed, but as this was so far from an A race, I guess I have to admit I didn't terribly care enough to pitch a fit.  Anyways, I grabbed my bike, pulled out of T1, and against all advice, kept her in the big chain ring, mounted, and was off.  The first 15 minutes I spun out, probably slower than I would have normally, but as I had never ridden or driven the course, I really had no clue what to expect, so I played it safe (that was dumb, Rae),  About mile 8, we turned off and finally started to flatten out and the promised technical descent happened. I'm pleased to report I really didn't brake much during this piece, mostly because I was in aforementioned foggy state and it didn't really dawn on me until I was about to veer right to not end up in the lake that I should have been nervous.  Score one for the foggy cold drugs.  The next 4 or 5 miles featured rollers, then a sharp uphill to get back on the main drag.  (No, I never got in the small chain ring.  I'm allergic.  Get over it).  On the way back, some quick math determined that if I didn't wuss out, I would go under 1:20 for my bike split.  Sweet.  Saw the banter on his way out about mile 22, gave him a big cheer, gunned the final descent and pulled into T2 for a final time of 1:19:12.  I was slightly bummed with the bike, as I felt I played way too safe the first portion of the bike and could have gone faster, but, live and learn.  I'll be back in 2020, bike course!

Run: 49:36 (7:52/mi)

We all know this is my favorite part.  I exited T2 and got out on the two loop run course, which, after the first mile that featured two bridges (one over and one under), a few steep uphills and switchbacks, I determined had been put together by a few drunken college students.  Since I still felt pretty drugged myself, you would think this wouldn't really bug me, but I think I had my fair share of 4 letter words.  We finally hit a nice trail about 1.5 miles in, where I saw the Outlaw heading back in (for the eventual sprint win!) and got a high five,  and Greg, who was looking strong despite not feeling great.  The run does a turn around over a bridge by the iconic Taughannock Falls, where of course there was a race photographer (I'll save you.  I had no good race pics here).  I turned around and headed back, then out again for the twofer.  At this point I was holding a 7:55-8:10 pace per mile, which is slow for me, but given the trail/rock and legit stair climbing combined with my lightheadedness, I honestly didn't care (should I rethink the title of this post?)  At mile 5 I saw The Banter heading back from his 5k, and he yelled out "come catch me!"  As I did the final turnaround I determined I was about a minute behind him, which is a tall order for one mile, but...fine.  I'll speed up.  From there, I was determined.  I have no recollection of the final mile (apparently I saw Marcus and Greg and waved) beyond the chant "Catch Banter.  Catch Banter".  I clocked mile 6 in 7:12, which was :45 seconds faster than any mile I had done yet.  I guess I did have that ego gear....
The vollies on the way back cheered me on, commenting that I looked like I could do this all day long.  Such awesome liars.  Even though I didn't catch The Banter (I finished about 20 seconds behind him, as the little shit was trying to hold me off.  There is actual footage of him before he crossed the finish line looking over his shoulder for me.  You better run, Gary!)  

I crossed the finish line in 2:41:xx, about 4 minutes off my PR, which, for the hilly course and the way I felt, wasn't too shabby.  

Post race, the Tri Go fam brought it in for a huge group hug - god I love these guys.  You can only see my feet here as I'm totally surrounded by my awesome training buddies - this may be one of my favorite pictures ever!
Marcus and I headed out for a cool down run and saw Greg and Maria in to the finish line - Greg hurt his foot after tripping on a root and twisting his ankle, but he finished super strong and I am so proud of him!  

We deck changed, grabbed some beers, played with the Banter's dogs, and assumed our natural post race shenanigans (um, something about our family being just a little bit country?  ....or maybe a little bit rock and roll.....)
We all hung around for the awards - for a good reason!  Matt ended up winning the aquabike, the outlaw won the sprint, the banter took 3rd age group for the sprint, and I came in 1st in my Age group for the Oly and almost made the podium (Rae, LEARN to bike!  WTF.  To be fair, 3rd place beat me out by 4 minutes so I can't really even be mad about it.  I had nothing in the tank, guys.  
The awards for both the overall placement and Age Group were triangular shaped pendants with Cayuga Lake Tri 2019 on them.  Since they couldn't possible fit that all on a one inch pendant, they abbreviated it "CLT 2019".  3 guys.  1 girl.  All with the humor of teenage boys.  We totally took it and ran with it.  

And of course, took a picture with our CLT (medals).  We obviously all have different ways of handling the CLT, and this pic probably also accurately sums up our group.  Yep.  It's like that.

For all intents and purposes, the Cayuga Lake Tri was a success - I'm ambivalent about my overall time and race, which is hilarious since it would have been a 7 minute PR if not for Tri in the Buff this year... but hey, I'm hungry.  All I need to do is get beyond the sickies, back in the saddle, and (well, now) 4 weeks till Barrelman!  Next up is the Finger Lakes Tri, Olympic Distance, on September 8th as a tune up prior to 2019's big dance!  Let's do it!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Two Steps Behind

So, here's the thing.  I did a race last weekend.  Not 4 days ago, but 11.  I know I "owe" a race report.  I've sat down several times to write it. I intend to write it.... and I will.

But right now... I don't want to.  Like most things I know are worth doing, it will happen, if only for the epic photos I have to share.....but I've been wholly uninspired to pull up the ole bloggy and give it my all...which seems to be a microcosm of a lot of things in my life lately.

I went out on a bike ride yesterday.  It 's a long ride that's been delayed for one reason or another for a good week - a 50 mile ride, outside at an "enjoy the ride" pace.  Not stressful, just requires planning, right? I was supposed to ride Monday.  Work intervened.  I was supposed to ride Sunday.  Parenting intervened.  Since Sunday in the tri world was last weeks training week.... it was my last weeks long ride that now got shifted to this week, which means technically I didn't ride long at all last week.  And because I raced the weekend before, that weekend too.  And because I transitioned to a new training plan the week before, that "long ride" was 30 miles.  And the week before that....well thank god, that was Musselman.  In case you got lost in that round about story (I would have) it's been almost a month since I've had a long ride.  Yesterday was the day to make it happen!

No it wasn't.  It was 75.  Gorgeous.  Slightly breezy.  My legs hurt because I'm a fool and did core fitness Tuesday I did a leg workout with my buddy that was totally worth it, but whatever.  I've done long rides with leg soreness.  It was windy as f*ck out, which scared the hell out of me I can deal with because I've been taught how to embrace the wind.  The cars were total shits and I had to slam on my brakes twice for idiots backing out of their driveways and not paying attention also enjoying the sunshine without a care on this gorgeous day.

I pulled out my ammo for when things don't go as planned.  I altered my route of one long out and back to two out and backs.  Then I ditched that idea and decided to make the 50 mile ride 8 6ish mile loops.  (Stop groaning.  This is my fix it box and I'm ok with it).  And then, as I was starting the second loop, I realized something.  I was not into this.  My body wasn't.  My head wasn't.  And most of all, my heart wasn't.  I was coasting downhill on Lakeside Rd, a pretty little side street, when I realized that my head was so foggy and I was so damned unpresent, that a motor home zoomed past me and I almost ended up in a ditch because I was paying absolutely no attention to what was going on around me.  I called the audible.  Pedaling back home, I was so out of it that I passed two streets that would have taken me right back to my start because...I was so out of it. I finally had the wherewithal to turn right at the third street.  My fifty miler became a sad 18 miler that left me annoyed, dejected, and frustrated.

I wish I could say this was the first workout I've felt this way with, but to be honest, the last two and a half weeks have been a complete struggle.  I feel like I have nothing to give - and that its all a huge effort to exert exert the easiest swim, bike or run.
I went for a walk after the failed ride and ended up at the lake.  For awhile I just sat, watching the waves crash up on the rocks, and tried to step back and figure out a way out of how I've been feeling.  I called my best friend and he let me just vent - all of it, without any judgment or "fix it". I'm pretty lucky that guy married me, come to think of it....

 I told him I felt like a dollar store puzzle - all the pieces are there, but right now they just don't fit together the way they are supposed to.  And even though they look good to the casual passerby, I know a hell of a lot better that they....just aren't right.

I think its a combination of things:  I've been training for one race or another with lots of intensity since December - first for a BQ in April, then a redemption BQ in May, then a month of wasted foot injury.... then for tri season.  I've also set the bar ridiculously high this season...with a string of early season PR's, including a dizzying marathon PR and an insane 70.3 PR, I've been drunk with success but also in a spot where I now have a crazy high expectation for myself.

 My "A" race of the season is 5 weeks away, and I have a huge pressure to not only do well in it, but since it's an "easier" course, I fully expect to set a new PR, which, when my 70.3 PR is one of those "how the hell did I even accomplish that" things, I have set the bar so crazy high that I'm starting to have many doubts about leaping over it.

Us triathletes.  We are such a silly bunch.  Once you add in the fact that I'm not a pro - and even if I was - wouldn't have the luxury of a nanny, sponsors, lack of a day job, or all the massages and perfect nutrition to boot (yeah, so I'm average Joe - you get it) that fitting in the training stresses and the mountain of life stress....well, its just not working.

I could do what most sane people would tell me to do.  Just ease up.  Stop training.  Take a break from racing.  It;s so simple, Rae.

No it's not.

This, scratch that. so freeing.  To just abandon reality for awhile and pound the pavement without life hounding me is so epically wonderful, I could never give it up. so cathartic.  Jumping into the lake, or a pool, and letting the water wash over me, is cleansing and therapeutic.  And (I said it!) cycling is also becoming a love.  To jump on my bike, feel the wind (at my back, while I'm wishing) and enjoy the beautiful lake roads I train and race on, is a such a blessing unto itself.

I could never give that up. Not even for a few days.

But maybe I need to revisit the beauty of it and stop putting so much pressure on myself. At least for a few days.  I am super conflicted.  I just hired a coach.  I'm riding on the tails of a season of awesomeness.  But to steal a line from a pretty great guy I seems I have a case of the "blahs"....something I can't seem to shake. Luckily, I have a few people in my life that sense when the "Rae o meter" is off and will make the time to be there for me when I need it, even though I might be a damned train wreck.  You know who you are.  And you are the damned best friends a girl could ask for.

So, I'm gonna take a few days.  I won't roll over and play dead...that's not my style.  I actually went out for a run today - a beautiful, hilly 8 miler than had no pressure to exert any type of pace - just me, the rolling farmland, the sunshine, and my buddy Joe Elliot, Jr.  We rocked out to Hysteria, Love Bites, When Love and Hate Collide, and my new fave Two Steps Behind.
I wonder if they misspelled because to prove a point?

Cause thats how I feel. Right now I'm basically two steps behind the 8 ball with a lot of things and I'm playing catch up to get where I want to be.  I know I'll get there.  And that its totally ok to have these down times (I had one in May when I had my injury, and I bounced back from that one!).  But theres also wisdom in allowing yourself the space to not put pressure on doing all the things, all the times, at full tilt.  Especially not for things that for all intents and purposes, are supposed to be fun.

So, Barrelman.  Yeah, we are totally on for a hot date.  But for right now, I'll be two steps behind...just waiting for that magic in my soul to re-ignite.  Then, watch out.  I'll be back with a vengeance.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

(Can You Take Me) High Enough?

If you thought you were in for a race report, I’m sorry to say even I’m not talented enough to make a 5k race last for an entire post (you’re welcome?)  Long story short, the Walworth 5k was both an epic bomb and success – I managed to snag 2nd overall female, led the race for about a quarter mile, tried to keep up with the winner when she passed me about a half mile in, blew myself up doing so, and ended up walking part of mile 2 and watching her from just far enough away that I knew I would never catch her to finish 2nd.  My overall time was 22:57, or a 7:29 pace, which is a PR for this hilly course but not a 5k PR.  The day was hot and humid, the whole race felt terrible, and I have no idea why I do 5ks.  Oh right, because they hurt.  And they will make me faster.  And because my friends encourage me to make terrible life choices. 

Said friends.  From left to right, the Outlaw, who came in first overall (I’m still waiting for my cut of the prize, since the race was my idea), The Boy, who came in 3rd overall, and Greg (The husband!) who won his age group.  Despite my blow up and ego move that I know better on, it was a great morning, and we managed to log an additional 6 miles in warm up and cool down to cap off the day’s workouts.

Also of note this past weekend was Ironman Lake Placid 2019.  I can’t believe it’s been a year since I toed the line at my last 140.6.  All the pictures on Facebook of my friends doing the race, complimented with my “timehop” pics pf the years I raced  - 2018 and 2010 (first Ironman ever) have sent me into an introspective mood about tris and racing over the past few days.  
Best mile 1 of the run ever (Uh, I did not think through how to put him down...:-P)
As luck would have it, I had a trip on tap for Albany yesterday and today, so I had 7 hours in my car to overthink shit (yes, this is a good thing.)  I normally move at about a hundred miles an hour, so even though space to analyze my screwed up brain can be dangerous, it’s gotta be done.  I somehow managed to get stuck on a Pandora playlist of 80s tunes, and amidst Def Leppard, Poison, Warrant, Bon Jovi,  and Damn Yankees, I found myself jamming out (I totally have a shower and solo car singing voice and I’m not even apologizing for it) to “High Enough” quite a few times on the drive.  (I know this was recorded in 1990.  Get over it).

Even though Tommy Shaw was likely not talking about Ironman and Triathlon when he sang “High Enough”, I found myself applying the lyrics to the past year of my life as a triathlete. 

“We don’t need to talk about it anymore
Yesterday’s just a memory
Can we close the door
I just made one mistake
I didn’t know what to say
When you called me baby”

It’s really been a wild ride of a year, guys.  Last year at this time, I was seriously contemplating dropping the sport of triathlon for good, like a bad breakup.  I remember toeing the line at Ironman Lake Placid 2018, watching the incoming storm clouds over the mountains as I waited for the swim, feeling dread with the 112 mile bike ahead.  I remember swimming through the scrum in Mirror Lake, wishing that it would last forever so I didn’t need to start the ride.  I remember playing with my failed bike computer in T1, knowing that I would have absolutely no data for the ride or how fast I was going at any time.  

During the ride….clipping the cones at the first turnaround.  Going down the Keene Descent with sleet and crosswinds, gripping the bars and praying.  Of contemplating a DNF at mile 30, when I was so cold I couldn’t feel my fingers.  Mile 60, when a launched water bottle from the person in front of me caused my first bike crash of the day.  Of mile 80, when I dropped my chain…twice, and ended up sitting on the side of the road and looking for a way to bail (instead, I fixed the damned chain, of course).  And mile 100, when I remounted at an aid station, whiffed the mount, and dumped my bike and all my nutrition.  I remember rolling into T2, almost 8 hours after starting the bike, with my slowest bike split of any of my three Ironman’s by over 45 minutes. 

Thankfully, I rallied on the run and had a fantastic marathon – not enough to make me feel better about my abysmal bike, but enough to finish somewhat strong and leave that….little niggle there.
After Ironman, I put my bike in a corner and myself in timeout from triathlons.  I needed to make a choice.

After 14 years of racing, I looked back at both my race results and my heart.  And looked for some answers.  I knew that I couldn’t stay in a sport where I genuinely dreaded the whole bike portion….which is at least half the race.  Or continue to pursue the concept of “racing” where my times were actually getting worse due to my debilitating fear of my two wheeled steed. 

Something needed to be done.  I needed to either put out or get out (That’s what she said?).  I made the decision to just do 2019 throw everything I had in my to get where I wanted so desperately to be.  And you know the rest.  Big Scary Goals.  Go get em.

And the rest of the journey, you have likely been following.  I won’t explain….It’s too long…. so let me sum up.  I did the things.  I met the people that did the things.  I started training with people that did the things faster and stronger.  I started listening to the people that were better at the doing the things.  I did the things by myself and with other people that scared the shit out of me.  I did them with fear.  And even though I was scared, I kept doing them over and over.

Here we are, one year out from Placid and seven months in to project #bigscarygoals.
It seems as good a time of any to talk about it.  Last year at this time I was ready to hand my bike off to the volunteer at Ironman T2 that racked it tell him I never wanted it back.  Ever.

I lied.

I knew that giving up triathlon would be giving away a piece of me that I had known for 14 years – most my adult life.  I also knew how damned much I loved it – the training, the racing, the people, the fun I’ve had.  I had to get back to that fun.  Where I jumped in the pool with my friends…went flying down the road on my bike to play, and end with a rousing game of tag – you’re it – I’m going to run you down!

You guys.  I found it.  After a year….I found the fun.  And I’m sure no one is surprised after my last few months, I’m happy to report that I am not, in fact, selling my bike and ditching the sport.
It took a lot to get here.  And shockingly, little.  I won’t account for the training hours, because that stayed consistent – I always trained.  Maybe not in the most effective way, but I was never afraid of hard work.  For the hurdle I faced, I had two major things to face – my mental state, and the way I perceived the sport.

I had to learn to be a kid again.  Not only to reclaim my love of the sport, but also in terms of relearning almost everything I thought I knew.  I had to relearn how to clip in my bike (apparently my pedals were terrible.  I’ve used these pedals for 12 years and had…no clue).  I had to learn to mount my bike.  I had to learn how to ride with the wind.  I’m still learning arrow aero and shifting.

The last two, you would think I would know by now.  The first three, I am sure you are shaking your head in disbelief at.  But I’m not here to sugarcoat any of this.  I think you all know I keep it real.  There is a sense that after you’ve been in the sport for years that there is nothing left to learn.  Yeah, right.  Once I got into the tabula rasa  mentality and realized that I not only could use advice from the 20 year veteran but also the 28 year old teammate that had been in the sport for 2 years, it changed the way I approached it.  Everyone has something to teach you if you’re a willing recipient.  It just takes the ability to realize that you don’t, in fact know everything.  It’s powerful stuff.

I also needed some serious mental undressing.  I needed to assess my fear, figure out why it existed, and relearn how to approach the scary things.  In my case, it was mix of fears – I’ve been hit by a car, so I assume every car is going to hit me.  I have a serious lack of coordination, so I’m sure that every time I shift, grab nutrition, or go in arrow aero that I will go all over the road and crash.  I also was afraid of speed – of going too fast and crashing.  This fear got worse after I had my second child in 2015—because not only was I going to crash and either maim myself or die with all the above, I was now going to leave my kids without a mom.

Seriously, you guys.  I swear I’m getting help for my anxiety.  I won’t lie, though.  I identified the fear, and I’m working on it.  I no longer fear the ride.  I’ve done a few group rides and although they are with guys that would help me out if I needed It, they also push me to face those fears.  I used to wait before clipping in for a ridiculous amount of time, deep breathing and trying to fight the paralyzing urge to ditch the ride.  I now mount the bike and take off.  It might not be pretty, but with repeated practice, I’m looking less like a drunken monkey and more like a tipsy monkey.  It’s progress.  The big difference is I am facing the fears I’ve identified – one by one.

It’s nowhere near perfect.  Everyt ime I hit a milestone, I celebrate amidst the good natured ribbing from my team about how I’m now an 8 car train wreck instead of 9.  And I laugh.  Because it really is funny, but also because I see the progress.  And it’s rewarding in many ways.  I’m getting better, of course – I’ve seen a drastic reduction in my times for the year and set huge PR’s in the Olympic and Half Ironman distances.  Now…I’m hungry.  Eager to see what I can do.  Intrigued to see the talent that others see in me.  Ready to do the work and see how far I can take this.

But most of all…it’s fun again.  I can’t wait to get out there and ride my bike.  To go for a swim.  To run.  And to grab a training buddy and get the work done while chatting about almost anything under the sun, and mixing my social life with the sport I love.  And that’s my selling point. This now my new release from life and what I like to do best – which is everything a hobby should be.
 So, that’s where I’m at.  Lake Placid 2018 was “Just a memory”….now it’s time to “Close the door”.  Damn Yankees said it best….

“Don’t say goodbye
Say you’re gonna stay forever”

Thanks Tommy Shaw.  Let’s see how high we can go this year.  Sky’s the limit!