Monday, November 16, 2009

Trizophrenia Winner & Random Iron Thoughts

KennY, you are the winner of my Trizophrenia book giveaway! Email me your address so I can ship the book to you. My email address is available on my blog profile. (Please reply by Friday, 11/20, midnight eastern or it will go to someone else!)


This past week has been weird. No specified workouts, no race worries, no concerns about weather. I've eaten all sorts of crap (leftover Halloween candy and birthday cake) and don't feel one bit guilty. I passed on doing a couple of bike and run events held last weekend that I could have done just for fun. Instead, I allowed myself to be slothful and just pondered some things:

- Signing up for 2 irons 2 weeks apart was the best thing I could have done. They kept me honest in my training and gave me a chance to do both races that I wanted to do. I know I recover quick from long races and would have gone CRAZY if I only did GFT and was stuck "all dressed up with no place to go" two weeks later.

- Some folks run/walked to get through their iron tri marathons, I run/pooped. I came across Top 8 Race Fueling Mistakes Made By Ironman Triathletes and Mistake #3: Eating too much (too late) on the bike and Mistake #1: Mixing Sugars (between my bike & run nutrition) look to be the most likely causes of my GI distress. The only way to know for sure, though, is to do another iron tri :-)

- The next 3: Ironman Arizona (11/22), Ironman Cozumel (11/29) and Ironman Western Australia (12/5) are all sold out, however :-(

- Though training for and doing an ironman does require much more effort than a running standalone marathon, I find it them much easier to recover from. I'd heard this before from several others too. I think it's because swimming, cycling and running a slower marathon don't beat your body up as much. Aside: The current world record for most number of ironmans completed in a calendar year is 15.

- For me, the hardest part about doing an ironman was training in 80-90+ deg heat all summer long. Coach advised against me going to Kona to train because he thought it'd be too cool. He was right. Nothing but training in FL could have prepared me as well for GFT, plus doing so gave me a chance to find out about the major bike course change before race day. B2B was 30-40 degs colder and my main concern was just staying warm enough on the bike after the swim. GI issues at both races, while annoying, were not show stoppers. Two very different races, one awesome training plan to get me to both finish lines. Thanks, Coach Bill!

- Top 10 list of the toughest things I've done so far:

1. 1992, Watch my dad die of cancer
2. 2004, Earn my 2nd deg black belt in karate (bruised ribs, very painful sparring)
3. 2001, Earn my 1st deg black belt in karate (1st major athletic achievement, age 40)
4. 2006, Learn to swim (truly *hated* swimming back then!)
5. 2006, Ironman Florida (first rough water swim, survived but missed swim cut-off)
6. 2004-5, Raise $21K for 2 charities (first FR effort, very hard for me to ask people for $$)
7. 2009, Train for 2 iron tris, GFT & B2B (embraced the enemy: heat)
8. 2007, Olathe Marathon (first time I had major GI issues in a race, nearly DNFd)
9. 2004-5, Run 21 marathons in 9 months (my 21 Run Salute)
10. 2005, Run a hot August 5K all-out with no speed training (21:56 min of agony!)

You know the saying: What doesn't kill you ...

And a couple announcements:

Firstly, Team Hendryx is accepting athlete applications for next year. If you have a running, triathlon or fitness goal you'd like help with, they can help whether you're based in Orlando or elsewhere. My coach, Coach Bill, is the POC for Team Hendryx and can be reached by email at cwenner @ if you're interested.

And secondly, I'm going to take a BIG break from blogging and training between now and probably my next race, the Instep Icebreaker Marathon (WI) in January. 2009 has been a very busy year for me and 2010 looks to be even busier. I need to get a lot of stuff squared away in the meantime and apologize in advance for not commenting as often on your blogs during this time but will try to follow along as much as I can. Best of luck to everyone racing, esp. Molly and Jen who are both doing their first ironman (IMAZ) this weekend!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

2009 Beach 2 Battleship Iron Tri

Official Finishing Time: 12:45:52, 3/10 F45-49.

Where to begin???

First, I must thank all of you who have helped me, supported me, cheered for me, listened to me, put up with me and stuck with me all throughout this year. I could not have done it without you. Thank you!!!!!!

As you probably have guessed, B2B went well for me overall. There were a number of bloggers doing either the half or full iron distance so this event, for me, was probably half about racing and half about socializing. Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet up with everyone I wanted to and of those I did meet, a few (Linae, Skoshi, Dread Pirate, Kevin, IM Able) did not make it into my camera :-( But my camera did capture a number of folks at B2B, including my support crew (thanks Dave and whoever else took the pictures), so this race report will be heavy on photos and not just of me. YAY!



At the expo (L to R): Vickie, 21st Century Mom, me.

After the pasta dinner (L to R): Me, Vickie, 21st Century Mom, Waddler, SW Trigal, TriSharkie.

After the 12:00 athlete meeting (L to R): Me, Nancy, Calyx, Donna.

Lesson learned: If you want to stand out, wear a high vis jacket. I had people asking me if I was Shirley all weekend it seemed and met the most number of bloggers I've ever met at a race. It was like old friends getting together since we'd been following each other's blogs for so long. Missy and Ryan, I'm sorry we missed meeting up, Ryan for the second time at a race. How is it I can miss seeing a guy who's like 6'5"?


The Race

The B2B swim was a point to point course with an incoming tide that was expected to result in extraordinarily fast swim times, as in 2008. At the athletes meeting, the race director mentioned that you could probably even stop swimming and float along in the current and still make the 2:20 cut-off. Me likey!

But on the bus ride over to T1 (swim to bike transition area) race morning, the woman in back of me said that a couple folks actually missed the swim cut-off last year because they swam on the right side of the channel where the current was supposedly the strongest and went too far past the first turn and were not strong enough swimmers to fight the current to get back. Yikes! So I made a note to keep my eyes peeled for the "wiggly" man (air filled stick figure on a boat) that marked the turn and start swimming towards it early.

Unfortunately, spectators were not allowed at either the swim start or swim exit so I have no photos from either. Nancy's training buddy Dave zipped up my wetsuit at the swim start and I saw Roy, another Orlando athlete I've trained with a bit, and IM Able just before getting into the water. The water temp this year was 67-68 degs and felt nice compared to the air temp which was below 40 when we started 8-O Here's a video from last year's swim that someone took that will give you an idea of what we looked like in the channel. WEEEE!!!

2.4 mi swim time - 1:06:40* (1:34/100 yds), 7/10 F45-49. WOW!!!
*Time includes climbing out of the water on a ladder, getting my wetsuit stripped, going through a fresh water shower and running to a timing mat maybe 100 yards from the water.

So it's a good thing that Dave did not listen to me when I said I thought I'd finish the swim in around 1:20-1:30. He got there early and caught me running to T1 (I am to the right in the above photo wearing a jog bra under my swimsuit). BRRR!!! I was very happy to be wearing swim socks, which were allowed, so my feet could stay warmer before, during and after the swim. They also made running 400 yds from the water to T1 on concrete and asphalt MUCH easier. Thanks Bootchez for recommending those socks!

The women's dressing tent was a lot more crowded than at GFT but I found a chair to sit on in a corner. I took the swimsuit off but kept the jog bra and HRM that was underneath on and dried off as much as possible. Then I proceeded to put on more clothes than I've ever worn on a tri bike segment. Tri Shorts, short sleeved bike top, leg warmers, arm warmers ... I saw Vickie and Dread Pirate come in shortly afterwards. Jacket, bike gloves, ear warmer, socks -- where the heck are my socks???

After searching desperately in my bag and around me for a couple minutes I realized I must have worn them during my test ride the day before and forgotten to put them back in my bag. DOH!! Sockless I go (hopefully the toe warmers on my shoes will keep my feet from freezing). At my bike I pulled on my fully fingered gloves too but wound up taking them off only a few miles into the ride.

T1 was no doubt a new record slow time but due to a timing glitch was not captured. Instead, it would be included in our bike splits. Oh well ...

This race had two separate transition areas. T1, where we started our bike segment, was near Wrightsville Beach and we'd finish at T2, which was by the Battleship North Carolina about 12 miles away. Of course, our ride was wee bit longer than 12 miles and part of it early on was actually on I-140, an INTERSTATE. Ooh, wet cycling dream come true!!!

For the most part, though, the bike course was on rural roads. I thought it was pretty flat as advertised but there were so-called false flats (sneaky inclines that look flat but aren't). The wind was low in the first half and since the pressure of finishing my first iron tri was off, I let my HR hover in the hi Z2 to lo Z3 range early on and passed a lot of folks. A few women asked me if I was Shirley as I went by. Sorry, I'm not sure who you all were but thanks for the words of encouragement!

At mile 30, we passed the first aid station and I was definitely warming up. I had to make a brief full stop to pull off the removable sleeves from my jacket so it could be worn as just a vest. They went into my front pockets along with the gloves I took off earlier giving me a nice tubby tummy look. My arm warmers went up and down depending on whether I was riding in full sun or shade but never came off, nor did my leg warmers or the vest. I don't remember my feet bothering me so they must have been fine without socks.

Around mile 35, a black sedan drove past me with some folks cheering and honking a bike horn out the windows. I didn't know whose car it was but recognized hubby Dave and my step-daughter KT. They'd found me! My son-in-law KV was behind the wheel of a rental car.

Dave's nickname for me is Muffin and it was his idea that they'd all wear orange during the race to make them easy to spot.

They came prepared and cheered for me several times along the bike course, which was great. We also saw a hunter with a bright orange hat and camouflage clothing sitting on a chair by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere watching cyclists go by with either a rifle or shotgun in his lap. Yeah, he motivated me to go a little faster! No, we did not get a picture of him or ask him what he was doing.

Somewhere along the way, Dave got out of the car with his bike to get his workout in during the race. As he hammered along, he encouraged folks and perhaps disheartened a few who thought he was in the race. No race number, not racing! He caught up to me after about 20 miles, said a quick 'hi' and then fell back to be picked up by KV. Must be nice.

The last 38 miles of the bike course were the toughest. Notice on the bike map that nearly straight stretch of road from the topmost part of the course to the bike finish? I'll give you one guess which way the wind was heading. WeatherUnderground said it wasn't more than 6 mph but it felt more like 8-10 mph, especially going up and across this one last bridge that was in the last couple miles. Evil!

T1 + 112 mi bike time - 6:30:47*, 2/10 F45-49.
*My bike Garmin says I averaged 18.0 mph for 107.4 mi (it's missing some miles because it turned itself off a few times and I didn't notice right away) so assuming I rode about the same speed the whole 112 miles, my T1 time was ~15 min, which is about what I expected.

I handed off my bike and helmet to a volunteer and then was totally dependent on other volunteers telling me where to go as I'd never been to T2 (bike to run transition area) before. I found my running gear bag and then almost went into the wrong changing tent. Oops!

T2 time - 9:34, including a porta-potty stop, as usual.

I began the run feeling probably the best I have ever in a tri. Hmm, maybe I should ride 112 miles more often? Looks like KT had taken my suggestion about what could be written on signs literally. (Click for a closer look at the sign).

The run was much hillier than I thought it'd be with 2 bridge crossings and two other short climbs later along the course, all of which had to be done twice since the course was two laps. But at least the temps were really comfy, high 50s to low 60's when I started. In the first few miles, I saw Nancy, Calyx, Donna and SW Trigal, who were finishing up their half iron. They looked strong and gave me a boost. How fun it is to see folks you know during a race!

I got down to the 6.55 mi turnaround in about 1:05 but then got hit with GI issues again, unbelievably, even worse than what I had at GFT two weeks ago. WTF?!?!!! Not sure what was wrong this time (I didn't even take Perpeteum on the bike at this race and there was no Gatorade being offered on the run course) but I took all the meds I had with me (Gas-X, Pepto Bismol and Immodium). Nothing seemed to help. I had to take off my Fuel Belt and carry it over my shoulder again, and make friends with every freaking porta-potty along the course. Thankfully they were at mile apart intervals at this race too.

Every time I got out of one, though, I felt fine and was able to run well again until about a mile later. My gut was like a clock! One guy told me he couldn't help but smile every time I passed him (he passed me when I stopped). I hoped it was because of my shirt and nothing that might have shown the problems I was having (like toilet paper stuck in my shorts or worse ...).

Meanwhile, the Team Muffinator B2B Support Crew waited patiently for me along Water Street (miles 3, 10, 16, 23). KV's sign got some laughs from folks.

The sign on the back, however, probably puzzled some. (KV is a Civil Engineer specializing in water modeling and I think this is his way of saying "imagine you're running downhill")

Starting my second lap, it was getting dark and colder so I grabbed my clip-on headlamp and a long sleeve shirt from my special needs bag. Although the race director had said the run course would be well lit the entire way, I wasn't taking any chances and it turned out to be a good decision as parts of the Greenfield Lake Park area (southernmost part of the run course) were very dark, so dark that I once ran off the path and onto a street. Too busy looking at the ground where I was stepping, I had missed seeing a sign and volunteers directing us to turn right. Oops again!

My need to make stops pretty much every mile continued on the second lap, unfortunately. How in the world can I have anything left in my system? But, I was making good progress regardless so after I saw my support crew at mile 16, they took a water taxi to the finish line to make sure they got there in time to see me finish (the lines for them were long!). I kept busy by looking for folks I knew along the course. I'm not sure when I saw them but I remember seeing Linae, Kevin, Skoshi, TriSharkie, Dread Pirate, Vickie, and Waddler. I cheered for them and hoped everyone would make the cut-off.

As I was making my way back, Dave used the Buddy Pass we were given to grab all my gear so I didn't have to go collect it after I finished the race. Thanks Dave! My crew found ways to entertain themselves.

Unlike other races, B2B had runners from a local college escort you in on your last mile if you wanted. Mine showed up about half a mile from the finish and I'd forgotten about this so I tried to outrun him at first. Where the heck did this young guy come from? I'll show him ... Dude then started talking to me, told me I was really moving well (yeah, like a sub-8 pace!) and asked how far I wanted him to run with me. What? Oh yeah, uh, how about just to that T2 clock up ahead. That way I could slow down some and actually make it to the finish without dying. At the clock, he told me I had 300 yards to go and congratulated me.

26.2 mi run time - 4:58:53 (11:24 pace), 3/10 F45-49.
Total race time - 12:45:52, 3/10 F45-49.

We received a nice race medal and I also got a little piece of the original teak deck of the Battleship North Carolina.


Post-race - Most of these were taken during the awards cruise:

Me and my two favorite post-race treats: hubby Dave and recovery socks.

Vickie and I on the Henrietta III riverboat. B2B was Vickie's first iron tri. Congrats, Vickie!

Poor lil' pancake ain't got a chance against an ironwoman :-)

After breakfast and the awards ceremony, the boat began to finally move.

We got a closer look at the USS Battleship North Carolina. Lots more guns!

Outside in the fresh air, I found Nancy and her training buddy Dave. Nancy completed the B2B half while Dave did the full distance. Well done to both!

Wonderful time with family, gorgeous weather, great race -- what more could I ask for?

Congrats to everyone who raced B2B, Ironman Florida, Silverman or otherwise last weekend. Please forgive me, I am behind on my blog reading but will be catching up soon!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Unofficial B2B Race Time: 12:45

The official results have not yet been posted but that's what the video that Dave took of me finishing said. W00T!!!

Race report to follow in a few days. Tomorrow is my birthday and I'm spending a couple xtra days in Wilmington with my awesome support crew. Photo: (R to L) Hubby Dave, me, step daughter & son-in-law.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Creator of Frazz Giveaway!

My recovery from the Great Floridian Iron Triathlon has been going great! I am raring to go get me a new iron PR at Beach to Battleship. Of course, my body may have totally different plans but I will be there with a big smile no matter how long it takes to cross the finish line. 2 irons in 2 weeks, what the heck is wrong with me???

Well, a new book I've been reading, Trizophrenia: Inside the Minds of a Triathlete, seems to explain it all.

Trizophrenia: Symptoms typically include an obsessive-compulsive need for the rituals of the sport: eat, swim, eat, work, eat, ride, eat, work, eat, run, eat, go to bed early. Delusional spending on expensive equipment, indifference to pain, and hallucinations of future grandeur intensify over years spent in the sport.

Sound like anyone you know?

Well, I had the opportunity to do a Q&A with Jef Mallett, the award-winning creator of the syndicated comic strip Frazz, who in his book unravels the sport's mystery and madness while raising it to new heights of hilarity. To get to know him a little better and have a chance to win a FREE copy of Trizophrenia, read on!

1. When is Miss Plainwell going to do her first tri?
I don't have any plans to get Miss Plainwell into a triathlon, but that doesn't mean a thing. My characters are always doing their own thing without my permission. Seriously, characters do that. Ask anyone who tells stories for a living. You create them, you think you control them, but no. Which raises some seriously disturbing theological questions, if you want to go there. I'll say this, though: Miss Plainwell somehow looks a little like my wife, and she just did her first triathlon this year.

2. As a triathlete in the colder climates, how to you stay in shape and motivated in the dark cold months?
Well, I'm a middle-aged triathlete who's constantly behind on his deadlines, so even dark, cold months whip by remarkably fast. So motivation is not the problem. I have plenty of indoor swimming options, and you can run in just about anything. The one change I've made is that I hardly bike at all over the winter. In recent years, I've found that if I concentrate on the other two, do a few masters meets and aim for a spring marathon or something, the bike comes back almost seamlessly. And my gear isn't all covered with salt (from the road or from me on rollers).

3. If Frazz doubled the value of the car when he put his bike on the rack, wasn't the Chevette over-priced or did he just use his old bike that day?
You know, that's a very good point. Maybe he had his gym membership receipt in the glove compartment.

4. How do you train your mind to overcome the pain when you do this silly stuff?
I just watch golf on TV and suddenly everything else seems painless. No, seriously, I would NEVER watch golf on TV. But I have certainly compiled a handy list of bad days for comparison's sake, and that works nicely. Beyond that, it's just habit. Every time you push through pain, the easier it gets. And then there's the real motivator: It probably works the other way. Every time you back off, the easier that gets. And I don't want to experiment with that, so I press on.

5. Frazz seems to have the most problem with the swim. Is that your case too?
It might be. Or it might just be where it's most evident. I can hold my own in a triathlon swim, but I go to a Masters meet and compete against specialists and I'm thoroughly fed my own lunch. There aren't so many casual Masters swimmers, where you go to any given marathon or 5K and you're not likely to come in last, let alone come in last several times in the same meet. Make no mistake, though: I love it.

6. How do you maintain your drive over the years and face the fact that you aren't as young / fast as you used to be?
I'm only not as young as I used to be. I'm still getting faster. That's the beauty of never being particularly elite when you were younger. And it's also the beauty of a sport where there's always somewhere new to improve. I am less fast on the bike. But that's the discipline that had me closest to elite status (which, not close at all) when I was young. And a few years back, I realized I needed to decide if I wanted to be a cyclist with a wetsuit, or if I wanted to back off that and be a triathlete. So I'm not as close to the top of the bike split list anymore, but I'm a little more of a threat by the end of the race.

7. How many bikes are too many?
Well, you can only ride one at a time. But it's nice to have a choice. You know what's the best thing about too many bikes? You can lend them to people to try out. It's the evangelist in me.

8. We have read that Frazz could be cast a grown up Calvin. If that is the case, wouldn't Caulfield be Hobbs?
That gets debated a lot, which, is OK. Like all cartoonists my age, and smart ones of any age, I learned a lot from that strip, and feel no compulsion to hide it -- or copy it. I think Frazz developed Calvin's hair -- messy hair never goes out of style, and it fits his personality -- but I think his personality falls closer to Hobbes's. Hopefully not too close, though. Who could re-paint the Mona Lisa?

9. How do you balance work, family, and training?
With mixed success. I have better days and worse days. But it all ties together. Training makes me better at the other two, and being fit makes me more efficient, so an hour spent training is not necessarily an hour lost in the other areas. And obviously I couldn't race without an income or support from my wife. We don't have children, the cats don't care, and the dog would run with me all the time if she could. Everybody gets 60 minutes an hour, and hardly anybody thinks it's enough, and yet it all gets done. Best I can tell is that when you have time to waste, you learn to waste time. Maybe the inverse follows.

10. What was your parents reaction the first time they saw you in bike shorts?
My parents bought me my first pair of bike shorts when I was a teen-ager. I'm more worried about how they feel when they see me in a tri-suit at 47.

To have a chance to win the book, leave a comment and name your weakest sport if you are a triathlete or were ever to become one (even hypothetically). To get an extra entry, let me know you're linking back to this post ( Comments will be accepted until Friday, 11/13, midnight Eastern time. US-based and non-U.S.-based friends are welcome to enter.

Good luck, everyone, and I'll see you on the flip side of B2B!

Friday, October 30, 2009

B2B Blogger Meet-up???

Has anyone heard about one?

If you're going to be at the race, please go to the B2B Triathlete's Blog and leave a comment on the meet-up post. And pass the word to other B2B-ers!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

2009 Great Floridian Iron Triathlon

First of all, THANK YOU, everyone, for your comments, emails and encouragement. I really appreciate it!!!

Someone at the race said it best, "The Great Floridian is like box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get." And I'd say I got one of those pieces with a big, hard Brazil nut on the inside. A few weeks ago, I thought of putting it back in the box when I discovered there was a new, much tougher bike course. Instead, I decided to keep it and figured it'd just take longer to chew on. Then at the athletes meeting the day before the race, the race director said to add an extra hour to your expected finishing time. He wasn't kidding!

Ironically, the thing I was worried about the most, the swim, turned out to be the easiest part of the race for me. Thanks to a recent cold front, water temps dropped from 85 degs to 74 degs in a week and wetsuits were allowed. Winds were low making for calm water conditions at the start. It really doesn't get much better than this and I looked forward to a great day.

The swim course was 2 laps around an inverted triangle. Knowing that I have a tendency to veer left, I lined up on the right side of the pack, which also meant I'd also swim a slightly shorter distance than those who started further left. This is not cheating, just lining up smart! And with only a few hundred friends swimming with me, as opposed to 2000 in an Ironman brand race, I knew the contact would be minimal. While I have a second degree black belt in karate, sparring in water is not my thing.

Off we went and this time I was happy to have no problemos with my wetsuit choking me and no worries about losing my timing chip (last race, someone grabbed my foot and almost ripped off the ankle strap so I safety-pinned the velcro strap down). Very early on, though, I almost ran into one female swimmer who was doing the backstroke but going totally the wrong way, like almost back to shore. Strange... By the first buoy turn, the only thing annoying me was my swim cap. It kept creeping up my forehead and I had to periodically use both hands to wrestle that sucka back down. Probably freaked out a kayaker or two as I momentarily just floated face down to do that.

Still, I got done with the first lap in around 45 min, which was right on target for me. I strolled out of the water, tried to fix my swim cap again, grabbed a cup of Gatorade and headed back in for lap two. I have no idea what that guy in back of me is doing in the above photo. Maybe some sort of lap dance? Sorry, that was bad ...

Anyway, on the second lap, more swimming with occasional swim cap dealings and, get this, I, little ol' ShirleyPerly, actually clobbered and almost swam over one guy who had slowed down. Oops, sorry Dude! I've got to stop thinking I have the water all to myself late on swims. All the lessons, hard work and open water swimming practice have put me squarely at the back of the middle of the pack so I am no longer the slowest swimmer out there. YAY!!

Swim time: 1:33:01 (2:12/100 yds), 5/5 F45-49, 26/39 Female. Unofficially, a 53 minute 2.4 mile swim PR!! (I finished the IMFL 2006 swim in 2:26 but since I did not make the 2:20 swim cut-off, the time wasn't recorded.)

Over to the wetsuit strippers and then to grab my bike gear bag from some kind volunteers who'd retrieved it from the rack. For some reason, the women's side of the changing tent was nearly the same size as the men's side even though there were only 39(!) women doing the race vs. over 200 men. HEE! I had my choice of chairs to sit on, plenty of room to spread out my bike stuff and my own iron maiden to help me put my bike jersey on, put away my swim stuff, apply sunscreen on my back/shoulders, etc. A royal treatment in what seemed like a white palace!

So perhaps I enjoyed things in there a bit too long ... T1: 8:09, 4/5 F45-49, 22/39 Female. After all, this is a race, you know.

Time to see if my new bike shoe cleats work. Usually nothing new on race day is the rule but mine were so worn out that I was not sure if my bike shoes would be able to stay clipped in, especially on a hilly ride, so we switched them out for new ones. (And, of course, I did not notice how worn out they were until I went to check my bike in so we had to pay nearly double to get them last minute at the expo. Doh! At least they had the right ones ...)

About a quarter of the way through the ride and not a cloud in the sky. The weather forecast for record high temps seemed to be correct. DRATS!!

At least the new cleats were working fine. Dave took the above photo from the top of Sugarloaf, a well known climb in the area but just one many short steep climbs on the bike course. Interestingly, it seemed that a few guys were always dismounting their bikes and walking up the steep hills rather than even trying to ride up them. I was never quite sure what to say when passing them so I just huffed and puffed extra hard so they'd think I was working too hard to talk.

But, is it wrong to smile while doing so?

Soon enough, though, they'd blow past me on the downhills and Coach had instructed me to only coast to rest my legs. It was like playing leap frog at times with me passing some folks on the uphills, them passing me on the downhills, etc.

On a flatter section, miles 36-48, I'd hoped to pick up some speed but was suddenly transported to Kona and dealing with nasty headwinds much of the way. UGH!! Then I realized I'd made a mistake bypassing the last aid station that was at the bottom of a hill, just before a sharp left turn and then another steep climb (I would've had to make a full stop as I don't have the bike handling skills to grab a bottle, refill, while descending, turning and climbing in a very short distance). The wind on the flats took a lot out of me and when I got to the next aid station, I was dehydrated and completely out of fluids. I ended up having to make a full stop there to refill both my aero bottle and spare bottle. And why not hit the porta-potty too while I'm at it? Yes, you can be dehydrated and still have to pee!

By the time I completed the first lap and got back to the transition area where the bike special needs bags were located (~mile 60, see photo below), I felt like I'd already ridden 100 miles. Not good! My feet were on fire from the constant pressure I was applying to fight the wind (which often happens to me when riding in Kona but seldom anywhere else) and my butt wanted off the bike NOW!

Queue theme music from the Kung Fu TV series.

Me: Coach, the heat, hills and wind are kicking my @ss. What should I do?
Coach: Stay hydrated and fueled, Grasshopper. Race your own race.
Me: But, Coach, how can I possibly get through 52 more miles of torture?
Coach: Release yourself from expectations. Expect only that YOU WILL FINISH.

Music fades.

I really didn't need anything from my special needs bag so I decided not to get off my bike for fear of not getting back on. I cruised past Dave and told him that my bike split was going to be a lot longer than the 7 hours I thought it'd take me, probably somewhere between 7:30 and 8 hours but I will make the cut-off. And just saying that was a huge relief, actually, so I could stop beating myself up for being so slow and just focus on staying in my target HR zone and getting the job done. Besides, I had plenty of company on the second lap compared to my solo training rides, and we all know misery loves company.

To pass the time, I made it my mission to warn folks who did not know the course to save their legs for the last 12 hilliest miles of the course. Some replied despondently that I had to be joking. Sorry, folks, I wish I were! But the funny thing was that I thought those horrible hills were actually easier for me mentally because I knew I'd be going slow there. Being unable to go much faster on the flat sections because of the unseen enemy (wind) was the harder pill to swallow.

Bike time: 7:45:09 (14.4 mph). 4/5 F45-49, 21/39 Female.
OK, I might have been just a little thrilled to be done.

I handed off my bike to another nice volunteer, grabbed my run gear bag and headed back into the white palace. First things first, I had to get my aching feet out of my hard bike shoes and into nice comfy running shoes -- AHHH! I actually had a complete change of clothing in my bag but decided to change only my top and socks. Didn't see any point in changing shorts as the clean pair were just another pair of tri shorts anyway. But since it was going to be a hot & sweaty run for at least the first hour or so until closer to sunset, I wiped off as much sweat and grime from the ride as I could and made sure to apply lots of Body Glide. I did not need any chafing or blisters to make things any more challenging!

Racers were required to have reflective tape or decals on both the front and back of them during the run so I decided to be a little creative :-)

Another stop into a porta-potty and I was out of T2 with a new record long time: 11:31, 4/5 F45-49, 25/39 Female. Holy smokes, did I doze off somewhere in there?!

But once I got on the run course I woke up. The city of Clermont was celebrating its 125th anniversary and there was a little festival going on along part of the lake. Fun! More things to see and it brought out more people. I took a cup of Gatorade at the first aid station right outside the transition area without thinking -- BIG MISTAKE!!!

I totally forgot that Perpeteum, which I consumed late on my bike ride and probably still had in my stomach, and Gatorade lead to explosive consequences for me. Oh sh*t, literally! By mile 3, I knew I was in trouble. Gas pains galore and a dire need to find a porta-potty fast. Sorry if TMI!

Thankfully, they were located nearly every mile and I hit all but one of them on my first of 3 laps on the run course. It was not pretty, my pace, I mean, but I was surely making progress if I was going from porta-potty to porta-potty, right? I mean, who needs mile markers when you have big green boxes?

Luckily, I had experienced this GI issue in training before and actually had brought some stomach meds with me. I just didn't remember I had them until around mile 4 and after I took them it still took a while for things to settle down. I had to take my Fuel Belt off and carry it over my shoulder as any extra pressure on my gut was dangerous. But carrying it was surprisingly easy, even comfortable (like a sling for my right arm to rest on), so when I finally, FINALLY, completed my first lap (~9 miles) about two hours later, I decided to continue carrying it. That way I could still have my gels, other emergency meds, water bottles and my cell phone* with me.

*The cell phone was really important as it allowed Dave to track me using Sprint's Family Locator Service. This race did not have any athlete tracking and even if it did, it wouldn't say where I was, just that I'd passed a certain point at a certain time. With the GPS tracking of my cell phone, Dave pretty much always knew where I was on the bike and run courses, which made it a whole lot easier for him to spectate and take pictures.

Before heading out for lap 2, I stopped at the run special needs station and exchanged visors for the one that I'd attached a Nebo clip-on cap light. I'd thought I'd only need it for my third lap but the longer bike ride and slower first lap meant it was already getting dark. And, man, was I glad I had it. People often talk about going to dark places during ironman races meaning in their minds. This race had lots of them outside simply due to limited light!

We only had a quarter moon that night and although there were some spotlights along the run course it was impossible to light the entire course. Along this one tree canopied trail we ran on, it was virtually pitch black except for glow rings the athletes were given to wear around their necks and near the turnaround where an aid station was located. Eerie! A few folks ran with me for a while because I had a light, but I actually preferred running alone. My GI issues were improving but I was not-so-silently at times releasing a fair amount of gas along the course. Better that no one be near me ...

Around the lake again and back to festival area for the second time and in the darkness it looked even better. The rides were now all lit up and there were lots more people around. A number of them were lined along the path cheering for the athletes going by, which was really nice as there were only a few pockets spectators on the course elsewhere and I'm sure some folks really needed the encouragement. I stopped at the run special needs station again to grab more gels and saw Dave. I happily reported that I was doing much better now and was actually getting faster with each lap :-)

On my last one, temps were now in the 70's with a nice breeze which felt just right, not too cold or hot. Most of the folks I saw were walking and I tried to encourage everyone I passed and only asked those who asked me what lap I was on what lap they were on. Our answers were the same (last) but I suspected many who didn't ask were probably not on their last lap and would not finish by the 17:30 cut-off :-(

I was running well now but continued to stop briefly at the aid stations to eat a few pretzels and down some water. There was no sense in changing the routine that had gotten me thus far and it also gave me a final chance to thank the wonderful volunteers at the aid stations for all their help. The only aid station I didn't stop at was the last one. It was only about a half mile from the finish and I saw a woman and man running ahead who also looked to be on their last lap. Ooh, what have we here, a little spark of racing adrenaline after all?

I took a quick swig from my water bottle instead and just gave a quick thank you to the volunteers before beginning my final kick to the finish. I was amazed to find how much energy I still had left in my legs after being out on the course for so long. It didn't seem much different than running a standalone marathon, actually. Maybe I've practiced finishing strong so many times in the past that it just comes automatically? Who knows, but it made for a pretty nice first-time iron tri finish.

Run time: 5:23:25 (12:21 pace). 2/5 F45-49, 15/39 Female
Final race time: 15:01:13. 3/5 F45-49, 16/39 Female.

WOOHOO, bye-bye iron DNF monkey on my back. And, remarkably, I have very little post-race soreness which should make for a fast recovery for Beach To Battleship, another full iron tri, in 2 weeks. DOUBLE SAH-WEETNESS!!

Other numbers for those who love numbers:

4500 - Approx. feet climbed on the bike course per my Garmin
199 - Entry fee for this race
140.6 - Miles covered during the race
89 - High temp (F) for the day per
46 - Number of times Dave tracked my cell phone during the race
25 - % folks who DNFd (and this race does not attract many first-timers)
14/16 - Max wind spd/gusts (mph) per
8 - Number of times I used a porta-potty/restroom during the race
2 - Number of race shirts I got (participant and finisher)
1 - Awesome, supportive hubby
0 - Times I thought about about quitting