Friday, October 21, 2011

Ackronyms of the injured: ART & PT

Since we all know the blog is like The Secret (if you say it, throw it out there, make it real on the will happen!) I didn't talk about what was going on with my hip before Kona. First, I didn't want any excuses. Second, you know if you write about an injury then it really comes true. Well, turns out you can not write about it and it will come true too!

I'm going to insert gratuitous non-relevant photos here to keep you reading. This is James at our hotel in Kona with a coconut. Nature's Gatorade! 

Getting serious for my pre-race meal in Kona: Grilled Ahi, Brown rice, green beans...and a "side"salad.with lots of hot sauce on everything yes please.  

Back up a month or so with me now....About 3 weeks before Kona I was in a semi-serious bike crash. I didn't want to dramatize it, so I never wrote about it. Basically, I got very lucky. We were coming down a busy highway at 20+ miles per hour and the girl in front of me went down hitting one of those road reflectors. James and I were behind and I had nowhere to go but over her. Luckily, I landed on my right side on my bike, which broke the fall enough so that I only had some bloody gashes, bruises, and what turned out to be a super stiff neck. The other girl had some more serious stuff (concussion and a long hospital visit) so I felt pretty lucky and just moved on. I couldn't flip turn in the pool for about a week because my neck was so stiff. When I tried to do a plank, I realized I couldn't support any weight on my shoulder. Basically my right side was messed up, but I just moved along. Well, let's never forget the chain reaction masterpiece that our bodies are. The week before Kona, all of a sudden, my left hip flexor was screaming when I ran. It was bad enough that I didn't run for the whole week until a short test the day before (test did not go well!). I knew I could run the race with it, and thought it may not impact me too much. But I was pretty sure things would be not-so-great post race.
Lava Java Rendezvous with the one and only Rachel Ross. I know this blog entry isn't witty or funny, but nice pictures, eh?
I was right! So, guess what? I haven't run since Kona and won't be running for the next couple of weeks. Let's be honest, this is great timing for an injury! Who needs to run now? Not me! Well, I admit, I DID want to jump into Ironman Arizona, but I guess that is most certainly not going to happen. I'm pretty sure this is the same illiopsoas tendinitis that I had in 2009 following the La Jolla Half Marathon.

So, the GREAT news? The team is on it. I always talk about Dan (ART mantothestars ) and  Bryan (rehab united sports performance master) because they help James & I prevent injuries on a daily and weekly basis. And yes, I've been injury free for two years!! BUT, this is one they couldn't have avoided because of that darn crash. Boooo!

Beginning of the Ironman Hawaii run= Happy on Ali'i drive.. 
Late in the run: Not so happy heel-strikin mo' fo' on the Queen K. 
Anyhow, Dan has been squeezing me in for extra/targeted ART sessions. Usually we just do full-body "tune-ups" which keep the wheels greased and all the parts in working order. But now, I'm going in JUST for hip work.

With Bryan, in "non-injured times", we hit the gym for functional strength 2 times per week all year long. Bryan knows my body and how it works when it's healthy. Which makes it super seamless and easy for me to head in there for targeted physical therapy (the other side of the sports performance center is all PT & rehab) and quickly get on the fast track to returning to the other side of the gym. I can't explain how great it is to go to physical therapy without having to reinvent the wheel and explain your life story to the PT. We don't miss a beat and its awesome to know that at RU, my healthy body care can flow into triage when needed.
Don't stop reading now! The moral of the story is coming! 
So why am I writing this? Sure, to say "thank you" to Dan  & Bryan, but mostly to encourage any endurance athlete to find a team that supports their body. Having a professional that *knows* how your body works and what you've been through can be priceless. Trusting them is also important. Don't be diagnosis hopper- going from expert to expert waiting to hear what you want to hear. Build a relationship with a couple of good people. I remember having major anxiety the last time I was injured because you don't know what to do or where to start. Now, there is no anxiety because I know I'm on the right track.
I still need to be patient (which I'm not), but I'm confident I'll get there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ironman World Championship 2011- race report

Today (Wednesday after Ironman Hawaii) was a long day. There’s nothing like leaving Kona at 6pm, traveling for 11 hours and winding up straight in a meeting at work by 7:45am. But, I’m determined to get this race report written before I start writing cutesy “I love Kona” stuff and forget how much that freaking hurt and how many dying animal noises I must have made in the last half of the run.

If you want the short version- my facebook status from Sunday sums it :
“Thanks to all for the cheers all day long! I had a great start to the day, and a very rough finish..No fun to puke for 13 miles, but tried to grin and bear it. Not the result I was hoping for, but proud of myself for sticking it out. 15th amateur woman overall, 7th in my division- 10 hours and 4 minutes. Glad it’s over. Mai Tai, Please!”

For the long (ish) we go!

Pre Race-
James and I woke up at 3:30 and got our breakfast and coffee on. I had some oatmeal with half a banana and some yogurt- about 400 calories. I slept pretty well and was ready for the day! We walked the half mile down to transition and somehow got all mixed up in our directions and went the wrong way through body marking & dropping off our “special needs” food bags. We eventually got it done, but I could tell James was getting a little stressed we were running behind. We were all good, though and made it into transition with plenty of time to load up our bikes with water & food, pump the tires and wait way too long in line for the bathroom. Since my breakfast hadn't been so big, I also ate a Rice Krispie Treat drank some coconut water in transition (so 200 more calories...I'm thinking, in glorious hindsight of course, that this wasn't enough).
Ducks in a row in transition- Photo by YndeCam

Swim- 2.4 miles (1:04)
We hopped in the water at 6:40 which seemed a little early, but we wanted to try to get in good position for the swim start. The problem at the Ironman Hawaii swim is that there IS no good place to start. No matter where you go, it will be the most violent washing machine experience you can imagine. I didn’t have any swim goals other than “survive” and “don’t go slower than last year” (last year was a 1:06). I know I’m a better swimmer in the pool this year, but it doesn’t always translate to the ocean & triathlon swims. I KNOW I need to swim in the ocean more in san diego, but the truth is that i hate it. I really hate it. Our San Diego part of the pacific is cold, wavy, kelp-y, and shark-y. Not so fun if you ask me! I think I’ve only done two non-triathlon open water swims this year. Oh well, pick your battles. 
Swim start- photo ripped from sonja's blog, Thanks, sonja :) 

Back to the swim. The cannon fired and we were off. It was total mayhem and pretty violent. We started left-center (near the Ford car float) and I’d say it was “worse” than starting on the pier last year, but who knows. 
Swim start- photo-YndeCam
Anyhow, I didn’t freak out, I just put my head down and tried to get out fast. I think I did a pretty good job and soon enough I looked up and I was ON the buoy line. Whoa, either there was some current going on or we swam diagonal instead of straight. Either way, I just tried to keep my arm turnover going and swim comfortably hard. The turn around is at a boat 1.2 miles out and its probably the most hectic piece of the swim other than the starting line because everyone gets compressed. Once past the turnaround, I just tried to stay strong and enjoy. I actually LOVE ocean swimming in Hawaii and as I looked up at the clear blue sky, I tried to enjoy the last few moments of the day when I was actually cool instead of blazing hot.

T1: This year I tried to clean up my transitions. Last year they were about 4 minutes each and I’m stoked to say that i streamlined things a bit more. I hopped on my bike (shoes already clipped in and I did much better than in Vegas because I actually pedaled on top of the shoes until I was more up to speed) and we were off!

Bike: 112 miles- 5:21:45- 20.9mph
My bike goal was to go a lot faster than last year (went 5:48). I have been putting in the work and seeing consistent and solid improvement in my bike all year- this training thing is finally working! I don’t really break down miles per hour or splits on the bike, I just go with heartrate. I took my powermeter off before Timberman 70.3 and haven’t really missed it. My goal was to ride with a heart rate below 160, but hopefully hovering around 155...The pace and effort this gave me felt perfect and I was cruising. I saw some faster swimmer friends in the first 30 miles and realized that a) my swim hadn’t been so bad, and b) my bike was going pretty well! I felt totally in control and my legs felt fresh, but I was passing a lot of people and worried maybe I was going out too hard? Oh well, didn’t feel too hard.
At one point, Michelle S. and I were leap-frogging a bit. I went in front for about 5 minutes and then she came around and she was ripping into some big tall dude that had apparently been sitting on my wheel the entire time. She really made him feel like a winner saying, “you really have to draft off a GIRL?!?” It was AWESOME! Yeah Michelle!!! 

Cruisin' the Queen K

Anyway, at one point, Sarah caught up to me and to my surprise, I went with her. Soon enough, Hailey was in the mix too and she got ahead of us both. I was having fun “racing” and stoked that I was actually in the game enough to have people to race. At mile 30-ish, a pack of about thirty people came screaming by. SERIOUSLY?!? It was insane. Also insane was that one of the eventual age group winners was plastered right on the back of the group...I know this because her name was written in HUGE letters on her bum. Must be nice to have a sub 5 hour bike split as an amateur woman! Despite a few flagrant drafters, it was nice to see everyone racing, but playing fairly too. The girls I race with frequently or know from blogland (like Hailey, Sarah, Jess, Beth, Sonja, Tati, Julie, Michelle etc) have way too much self respect to play that game. I've never seen any of these girls in a pack. Go USA (and Mex for Tati :)

Anyway, the climb up to Hawi (the turnaround) is long, but nothing steep...Just a big grinder and this year, a solid headwind with some crosswinds. However, I wasn’t nearly as close to tears as last year, so either it wasn’t as windy, or I’m just toughening up a little bit. 

Coming down from Hawi, I lost Sarah somewhere and just tried to be a big girl and stay in my aero bars. Lisbeth Kenyon (the eventual W45-49 winner) descended right ahead of me and I made it my goal to just stay safe and do what she did. I knew she had competed here many times before so would be a good judge of how to take the descent and the wind. Overall it was NOT SO BAD! Yay! I said a little prayer when we turned back onto the Queen K at Kawaihai and tried to keep my power steady. I was passing a lot of people and feeling pretty good. I never questioned that I was going too hard because I really felt as though I was just right on that edge of being comfortable and racing. AND, I knew Hailey was ahead of my and I trust that she wouldn’t totally blow herself up and we often have similar bike splits, so I was content. 

At some point, Sarah got her second wind and came blazing by....bye Sarah! This time, I couldn’t stick and she rode away. Around mile 85 the road got lonely. Cyclists were strung out everywhere. A man passed me and I dropped back behind him. When a cyclist passes you in a triathlon, you have 20 seconds to drop back 4 bike lengths. I dropped back and I heard a motorcycle roll up. I looked over and saw the draft marshall. I think I even waved. They sat there for a minute and I thought they were just making sure everything was cool. Well, after a bit, they came up to me and said I had gotten a red card for drafting which is a 4 mintue penalty. HUH?!? She clearly explained “for the past minute, you have been sitting 3 bike lengths back and you need to be 4 bike lengths back”. Ok, I know the rule is 4 bike lengths. Thing is, I thought I was 4 bike lengths. Maybe it was 85 miles of cycling in 95 degree heat, but I was confused. However, I didn’t argue-there is really no point and I would just waste more time. And, I’m not even saying the penalty was not my fault. I guess by her description, I was in the wrong. I just find it almost comical that i KNEW they were there watching and I totally thought I was legal distance. Whatever. It is what it is. I was told to go spend 4 minutes in the penatly tent in T2. My first ever penatly...grrr...After they left, I stepped on the gas and pedaled hard-ish back to T2. I hope I didn’t try too hard to make up time!
I cruised into T2 SO happy about my bike split (5:21!!!!!) and so bummed about the penatly, but what can you do?

T2: 6:42 (includes the penalty)
First stop- the sin bin! I did my 4 minutes and made friends with the volunteers in there. There is no eating, drinking, sunscreening, or peeing- you are on time out! So, I just waited it out and then got on my merry way. I tried not to let it get to me and kept trying to think that 4 minutes shouldn't make or break my race.

Run: 26.2miles - 3:29 - 7:59/min mile pace
Just gettin' going- YndeCam photo

I got going down Ali’i drive. The first mile was good. The second mile was ok. The third mile, well, my legs felt a bit more tired than they did at this point last year. Maybe that’s what happens when you actually ride your bike! My goal for the run was to run within 10 minutes of my time last year (last year I ran an amazing (for me) 3:10 and I knew that if I biked a little harder, I may sacrifice some minutes on the run. BUT, since I had swum 2 minutes faster, biked 27 minutes faster (and then spent 4 mintues in the penalty tent), I already had a 25 minute cushion over last years time. MEANING, that if I ran a 3:20, I would break 10 hours. YES. THAT was the goal. The section down Ali’i drive was fun, but also very hot. I passed Sarah, Jen, and Hailey at some point and saw a bunch of friends at the Zoot and TYR houses along the way. Jordan was awesome and gave me some great intel on where the other girls were, but all I could muster was “I don’t think these are 3:10 legs today”. I stayed positive though, knowing that I could still squeeze out a good run. My mile splits were still mostly below 7:30 and I was headed out to the Queen K. Up Palani hill, I felt terrible and even walked a few steps. My stomach was cramping up and my legs were not feeling fit 'n fresh. By mile 13, I knew I was digesting nothing and my stomach was bloating and I was cramping in my stomach and legs. My pace slowed dramatically and i was running 8:30 to 9 minute miles. grrr...This is not what I had planned! 
Somewhere on the lonely Queen K- photo by
At some point, Sarah (she is the comeback girl!) passed me at a very good clip. Like a good friend, she willed me to go with her, but within seconds she was out of sight. I trudged into the Energy lab (the hot, desolate, final point before the turnaround back to town). In the energy lab, things went from bad to worse. I felt like I was barely moving (which is funny in hindsight as apparently this "barely moving" and walking still amounts to 8 to 9 minute miles). At the turnaround, I saw my friend Jen Sloan who is in my age group and she overtook me for what I knew was the final podium spot in our age group. I was happy that Jen looked so good, but just switched into survival mode, knowing I just had to make it home and I was puking everywhere. Out of the energy lab, I calculated I had around an hour for the last 10k and I could still break10 hours. Unfortunately, having puked up (on multiple occasions) the contents of my stomach and attempting to run on empty for 13 just wasn't in the cards. My body was totally drained and I hobbled along to the finish. I finished in 10:04, still a 9 minute PR from last year, but not the race I knew I could pull off on a great day. I've got to get this nutrition stuff re-figured out!!! I used to have no issues, but the reality is that I wasn't really "racing" until the run. Now that I'm racing, I've got to get it together!
Of course a fist pump at the finish.My friend went for the double pump...Awesome photo by YndeCam
Anyhow, I was happy to reach the finish and happy to find James who had an awesome race and went 9:30 in his first (and last so he says) Ironman Hawaii. I left my sorrows on the race course and enjoyed the finish and the amazing energy of Ali'i drive. I gave it my best on that day, and that was all I could do. No regrets....well, except that penalty- which was likely the difference between 9:59:XX and my 10:04 finish time. Live and learn and go on to fight another day!

Although it wasn't the race I had dreamed of, it has fueled the fire and given me the confidence that I CAN go faster and I already have the pieces I'm just determined to put it all together. Thank you to everyone who helped me get here and who makes it possible for me to follow my dreams each day. James, coach Dirk, Bryan &the Rehab United crew, Dan the A.R.T. man to the stars, Pete, Simone- masseuse extraordinaire, Nytro Women,The Zoot ohana, MRM USA, Betty DesignsNuttzo, and PowerBar.

Friday, October 7, 2011

That's a wrap!

At bike Check-In (Photo by Nils Nilsen, Triathlete Mag)

My little Spike Lee has been hard at work with his 3rd video....The day before the race. If you're not into triathlon, this one's not quite as exciting...but its cool as it takes you through Kona bike check in and some other fun Ironman Hawaii stuff.. Grrr....just tried to link it up and blogger won't let me...But go to his blog and watch it from there...

On our way to bike check in

Things around here have been pretty chill. I'm not so nervous, as tomorrow's Ironman Hawaii is just the finale of a long and fabulous (meaning fabulously fun) racing season with my husband. Even if things go terribly wrong, I'll still find a way to enjoy the day. Dude, we're in HAWAII!
Lava Java post-brunch. We bought a shake to take to pete, but i "taste tested" about halfof it.

Kona pool- took a dip as the torrential rains sketched us out from swimming in the ocean (run off??) better safe than sorry
If you'd like to track our progress or watch some online coverage tomorrow, head over to - I'm athlete #1706 - Beth Walsh and James (also Walsh, d'uh) is #1533.

Thank you to everyone who has brought me to the starting line. James, coach Dirk, Bryan &the Rehab United crew, Dan the A.R.T. man to the stars, Pete, Simone- masseuse extraordinaire, Nytro Women,The Zoot ohana, MRM USA, Betty Designs, Nuttzo, PowerBar.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kona - Days 1&2

Well, we're here. It's awesome. Is there really anything more to say? As I told James on the plane, "I've waited 51 weeks for this!"
In 24 hours, we have registered for the race, swum at the pier, underpants-runned, had a fabulous dinner with our Zoot family, lunched at Lava Java with Rachel , run down Ali'i drive, & biked
a (tiny) bit of the queen k highway. Who says you need to come a week ahead to enjoy it all? Now, it's rest time!
Of course... The photos!

Walking down Ali'i.. Check the wave crashing on the seawall- serious swell out here!

Underpants run barbies Laura, Katya, Donna, kristin, Rachel, and mini skipper .. Thanks to Wattie Ink & Betty designs for the kinis & accessories..

Off to compress & elevate! James is downloading some good stuff from our new GoPro camera that I'll post up tomorrow..

And for now, here's his first try...The Day Before Kona...My little budding Stephen Speilberg husband.


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