Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Less Than Four Days...

...until my first half ironman.

It's been an emotional couple of weeks. Last week, I has hit with a dose of reality as THE race date drew nearer. As in, the race that I have been working towards all year. THE big one. Unexpectedly, some serious self-doubt set in. I'm typically a pretty positive person, but I found myself asking: am I ready?, did I do enough?, why didn't I train harder?, what happens if I don't finish in the cutoff time??? And for some reason I was telling myself: no you're not ready, no you didn't do enough, shouldn't have skipped those couple of long runs, you're not gonna finish in 8 hours. And I began voicing those thoughts to Ken and a few training partners. They all gave me quizzical looks like I had totally fallen off my rocker.

Well, I've been plagued with injuries since I started training harder. And I'm a slow runner. Really slow. I did what any engineer would do -- entered my best case, worst case, and expected case scenarios into a spreadsheet to calculate the range of my predicted finishing time. The numbers didn't seem to add up and every case put me over 8 hours, or dangerously close to it. Not much room for error.

And then...I went out for a good run towards the end of last week. I was able to shut my mind off and just run. My legs felt great and my body felt free to do its thing. I had my fatest run ever. And then...I got out on my last hard ride this past weekend. I climbed steadily up the hills. Slowly, but steady. Surprise! My legs didn't burn up! And then...I had my first full relaxing rest day in a really long time. My mind started to unwind and my attitude changed. It became unimportant what happens on Saturday. The big thing is that I'M TRYING IT. And dammit, I'm going to finish the dang course. It might not be in 8 hours, but I'll finish it.

Lake Stevens 70.3 - Relay

I've been a bit behind on updating my blog. Training for a half ironman has kept me a tad bit busy...

A couple of weekends ago I headed up to Lake Stevens, WA with a few members of my gym for a 70.3 relay. I did the swim, Kevin (also known as K-Dawg, Pappy, K-Pa) biked, and Julie ran. We knew going into it that we had a kick ass team. Also, Jeff, Natalie, and Jon accompanied us for support. Super fun weekend!

Oh, I should mention that our team name was "Five Boobs". This is important as you read the details of the weekend. The story behind the name -- I have 2 of them, Julie has 2 of them, Kev IS one. Haha.

Kev & I headed up in one vehicle, while Natalie and Jeff rode up in another. Along the way we got lost in one of the towns outside of Seattle and stopped at a fireworks stand for directions. I of course had to BUY some fireworks. Since we were there, you know. Roman candles! And some poppits for the sole purpose of annoying everyone through out the weekend.

After getting checked into the hotel (and throwing poppits at unsuspecting people), we sat through the mandatory...and boring...athlete briefing. We also picked up packets and browsed the horrendously horrendous expo. Geesh, for an Ironman branded event, this is the worst expo I've ever seen. Actually, as far as any event goes, it was the worst.

On the way to find a place for dinner, we stumbled across a quaint little coffee stand down by the river. T - N - A LATTES!!! On the reader board below the sign, they clarified that T-N-A actually stood for "tasteful - n - appropriate". Um, yeah.

After dinner and a short play time in the pool/jacuzzi, we went off to bed.

After some tasteful-n-appropriate coffee, we drove over the race site. Jeff, Natalie, and I rode the entire 56 mile course as a training day while K-Dawg got his bike checked in and tried to recover from the cold that was knocking him down. When Jon & Julie rolled into town we gathered in the lobby for some beers (yes, before race day) and then headed to Seattle to Pike Brewpub for dinner. This is when reasonable behavior took a nose dive for the evening... I'll give the condensed version.

Several pints at dinner. Rude waitress, so pint glasses went in our bags and purses. Souveniers, you know. Shots at the bar with the cool bartender chic. Left with a 6-pack and growler. Jon, Julie, K-Dawg, and I in same vehicle. Poppits at unsuspecting strangers on sidewalks. A little rearranging of the readerboard at T-N-A. Possibly some T-N-A of our own. Roman candles out the hotel window. Security banging on our door. Sweet talking our way out of trouble & didn't get kicked out of the hotel. Went to bed way to late and listened to "someone" snore for several hours before it was time to get up. Not the ideal night before a race, but eh, we were relaying it!
I have no idea how this happened...

Kev and I drove over ahead of everyone since I had to get ready first. We got our chip, milled about transition, and made our way to the swim start. I suited up and got in the procession on the dock. I was in the last wave, so there was a lot of waiting around. Finally it was my turn to jump off the dock and get ready for the count down. I inadvertantly placed myself right next to a blind guy and his guide. They were tethered together with medical tubing so that the blind man would stay on course. Very cool. Until I found myself tangled up in the tubing about 100 meters later. I felt horrible, but was told that they probably train for that sort of thing. But still. 38 minutes later (dead on 2 min pace like always) I shot out of the water and ran through transition to our spot. Um, where's Kevin? Okay, there is his bike...where's Kevin? Where in the boondoggle is Kevin??? I stood there for about 20 seconds, then took of my timing chip, ready to slap it on his ankle whenever he decided to meander over. Then I spotted him COMING OUT OF THE PORTA POTTY!!!! Got him on his way fairly quickly though, and we didn't lose too much time.

Kev came in from the bike right on schedule. He did fantastic! Passed the timing chip off to Julie, and she took off for the 13.1 mile run. We were able to hang out on the course at a location where we could see her several times. Lots of cheering! She crossed the finish line in a smokin' time. Our final time was just over 5 hours (we started about 40 minutes after the first wave). Good enough for 2nd in the mixed division. 3rd overall out of about 30 teams. Woohoo!